Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Trad Tuesday: Barbara Allen sung by Emmylou Harris

Barbara Allen is a traditional Scottish song that found its home in the hills of Appalachia. It has been sung by many singers including Dolly Parton, Art Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Pete Seeger, but I love this version by Emmylou Harris.

The lyrics vary, but here's one version:

In Scarlet town, where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin’,
Made every youth cry Well-a-way!
Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin’,
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man in to her then,
To the town where she was dwellin’;
“O haste and come to my master dear,
If your name be Barbara Allen.”

So slowly, slowly rase she up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And when she drew the curtain by—
“Young man, I think you’re dyin’.”

“O it’s I am sick and very very sick,
And it’s all for Barbara Allen.”—
O the better for me ye’se never be,
Tho’ your heart’s blood were a-spillin’!

“O dinna ye mind, young man,” says she,
“When the red wine ye were fillin’,
That ye made the healths go round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allen?”

He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealin’:
“Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allen!”

As she was walking o’er the fields,
She heard the dead-bell knellin’;
And every jow the dead-bell gave
Cried “Woe to Barbara Allen.”

“O mother, mother, make my bed,
O make it saft and narrow:
My love has died for me today,
I’ll die for him tomorrow.”

“Farewell,” she said, “ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Elemental Trilogy by Toni Cox

Elemental Rising
The Elemental Trilogy Book 1
by Toni Cox
Genre: Epic Fantasy

When Maia returns home to Elveron from her final test on Earth, something unexpected happens and she ends up in a coma. When she finally wakes, she realises that she has brought with her the very thing she tried to leave behind.

Faced with responsibilities she thinks she is not ready for, a love she does not reciprocate and a threat to her people that might kill them all, she is suddenly forced to become what she is meant to be – a Prime.

But she is not alone. She has her mentor, Silas, and her dragon, Midnight, who stand by her side as she embarks on an adventure to save not just herself, but the rest of the nation of Grildor as well.

Cox has created characters; a world; a story that is Tolkien worthy. She has developed something unique and rich in imagination.” Sian B. Claven (TBB)

Maia is an incredible character to follow. Toni Cox has managed to bring something new, exciting, and seriously addictive to the fore.” Robyn Victoria Castles (TBB)

Elemental Betrayal
The Elemental Trilogy Book 2

The nation of Grildor still reels from the War of Greystone. They spent the winter Moons mourning their dead. Now it is spring and time to drive the last of the enemy off their planet.

Maia has sunken into a pit of despair during the harsh Moons of Winter, not only mourning the people that died, but also the absence of Blaid. Would he ever come back to her?

Lord Longshadow, Lord Regent of Grildor, decides it is time to act and sends Maia and Jaik as ambassadors to the various cities within Grildor. The aim is to reassure the people that the Longshadow Clan is there to protect them, but as Maia and Jaik travel, they learn that the situation is far worse than they had anticipated.
They have been betrayed and their nation is threatened with war a second time. Desperately, she searches for the strength to save her people. And, although she has her dragon, Midnight to help her, the responsibility of being a Prime rests heavily on her shoulders.

Will her magic be strong enough to save them this time?

**Coming Soon!**

Born in Germany in 1976, Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. Although she has spent much of her working career in the timber wholesale business, she is also an accomplished horse rider, has a diploma in project management, photography and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy.

From a young age, her dream had always been to put her imagination into words - give the stories life. When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013, she decided life is too short not to follow her dream. So, with the support of her husband and three children, she began writing book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy in January 2015.

The Elemental Saga is a fantasy story spanning over 35 books. These stories all take place on the various Life Planets of the Milky Way galaxy. The first 4 books were published between 2016 - 2017, with 5 more books coming in 2018.

The Andromeda Saga takes place in the Andromeda galaxy and will be a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Hopefully, by 2020, we will see the first books of this saga published.

Toni Cox also writes dystopian fantasy, and her first novel, Resilient, is due for release in 2018.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Book Review: The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKenna

Daniel Mackmain is a woodworker and carpenter, currently working in Derbyshire. He's also a greenblood because his mother is a dryad. This gives him some special powers such as the ability to see other supernatural creatures such as dryads, naiads, wose, boggerts, and shucks among others. When he becomes embroiled in the murder of a young runaway, Daniel finds he is has been brought to Derbyshire for a reason by the Green Man.
If you are at all interested in English folklore, you will love this book. Set in modern times, the reader is still brought back in time to read of creatures who've been living in the woods and streams of England for centuries. You also get some English history thrown in (how was William Rufus killed in the New Forest?) and descriptions of English manors and villages that adds to the setting of the book.
The book is told in first person. I don't always like using that POV, but Daniel is an engaging character, still trying to work out his own ancestry and its implications while accepting the differences it has created for him. The other characters, both human and supernatural, are fun, and the evil ones certainly make the reader want to grab some iron and check the locks on their doors.
The writing style reminds me a bit of Charles de Lint or Patricia McKillip, two of my favorite fantasy writers, and readers of both would certainly enjoy this book in my opinion.
I hope this turns into a series. I'd love to read more about Daniel's adventures.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Book Review: Sun Valley, Moon Mountains by Ajax Minor

Jaq and Kate live in Sun Valley, Idaho. The past year has been hard for them as they lost their baby daughter, Ur, but they manage to keep on with their lives as best they can. Suddenly, they both start to suffer from visions or alternate realities, gripped by a certainty that something is wrong with Ur. Despite her death, Kate can hear her on the baby monitor and Jaq is chased by a giant black widow spider, then they experience other 'visions' together. They consult a friend, Father Nicholas Beele, who offers to guide them on a mystical journey to rescue Ur.

This is a fabulous story with strong elements of Babylonian mythology as well as touches of Hellenic lore, Christianity (both Old and New Testaments), some Grail legend, and some philosophy that all melds together into a cohesive tale. The first part of the book has some fantasy but is mostly involved with Jaq and Kate's everyday life and work. The second half of the book is portal fantasy as Jaq and Kate embark on a quest to an alternate reality, one designed in Jaq's mind.

The other world is called Luna, and it contains a mix of fascinating characters, some doppelgangers to their real world in Sun Valley and some original creatures. The worldbuilding is good, what a reader might expect from a place called Luna but with nice details such as "Littered haphazardly about the immense cavern were smaller lumps of crystalline rock and individual facets broken off from the mother stones, all glittering green against the gray basalt of the cave floor."

Jaq and Kate are interesting characters. They are suffering from the death of their child. Self-described as Stoics, Jaq self-medicates with gin and Kate cries at night like Niobe, hidden away from Jaq. Each display courage and a stern practicality in dealing with new reality they are thrust into. Since Luna is basically Jaq's world, it is populated with his heroes who step forward to give aid as needed.

Although this is at least partly the story of the loss of a child, I also think it is about birth. Ur symbolizes creation in mythology or the beginning of a civilization. Parts of the story are sad but there's also a strain of hopefulness that runs throughout the book.

I found it interesting that Jaq starts out thinking "there was no longer any magic in the world" yet is convinced by the end that "...it's not 'magic,' really. It's a point of view." He bases this on Hugh Everett's theory of the multiverse which has been used in fantasy and science fiction from Narnia to the Dark Tower. Here, Mr. Minor creates many mythic links that both intrigue the reader and stretch the mind. I think a reader would enjoy this book as a fantasy story, but the real wealth, I found, is in the details and symbolism sprinkled liberally throughout the book.

The writing flows easily. It reminds me of the style of Carlos Castaneda though there is no Yaqui shamanism in Sun Valley, Moon Mountains. The story is paced well; you get to know Jaq and Kate gradually and meet the multiple characters along the way (though there's a nice list at the beginning of the book if you need to keep them straight).

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. The next book is already on my reader, and I'll be diving back into Ur Legends soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: Sally by J. Schlenker

Sally Barnes was a real person, born a slave in 1858 and dying at the age of 109 in 1967. Using genealogical records and interviews, the author has put together an entertaining and interesting story of Sally's life.
I'm a genealogist myself, so I found the story especially absorbing. Sally's life covers a long period of time and the little pictures of her life in rural Kentucky span slavery to Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
My only quibble is I would have liked some family trees included. Some of the lines, especially the white families who Sally lived with, became tangled, and I wasn't always sure who was a Musik or a Bonzo.
I found this a very interesting read. I was gifted this book and I'm writing a review of my own volition.

Link to Amazon

Trad Tuesday: High on a Hill by Kate Rusby

High on a Hill is written by Kate Rusby, so only a traditional song in the sense of its format and sound. Kate is backed up here on mandolin and vocals by Chris Thile.

High on a hill
There's a sweet bird calling
All come together
Are you in or are you out
He sings of a time
When the sky was falling
All come together
And be in no doubt

Oh darling let's go over
Now the devil's here
Oh darling let's go over
Now the devil's here
Oh darling, oh my darling
Be strong and be proud
Oh darling then you'll see
The devil will go round
Round, round
High on a hill
And way up yonder
All come together
Are you in or are you out
The eleventh day was hell
But the heart grows stronger
All come together
And be in no doubt
Over the fields
Where the water's falling
All come together
Are you in or are you out
There's a bird on the hill
And he's sweetly calling
All come together
And be in no doubt
High on a hill
There's a sweet bird calling
All come together
Are you in or are you out
He sings of a time
When the sky was falling
All come together
And be in no doubt

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: Fools Gold by S.C. Wright

Kana, Vincent, Chloe, Lola, and the rest of their extended 'family' are living in the wilds of China in this third book of the Sanctuary series when a dragon flies over their home and disrupting the peace. Chased by the authorities, they trek to India to find Richard Bellamy, a lich, in order to pawn some goods for money to escape. But Richard wants more than they want to give, and it looks like Kana may be the sacrifice.
This is a good story with various types of paranormal characters and goings-on enough to make the book's pacing very interesting. Many of the characters show up from the previous books as well as some new ones to add to the variety, and each has a specific place in the story. The writing flows well, and I very much enjoyed the book. I want to thank the author for gifting me a copy, and this review has been written of my own volition.
I give it 4 and 1/2 stars, only because I felt there were some unresolved plot points. If there's to be another book in the series, I'll be glad to give it the full five stars. I enjoyed it the best of the books so far (hint, hint).

Link to Amazon