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.

Lyrics:
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

Chorus:
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
Chorus
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
Chorus
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
Chorus

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Tour and Review: The Shipbuilder by Salina B Baker




Historical Fantasy
Date Published: April 10
Publisher: Culper Press

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In the summer of 1869, beleaguered for-hire killer Zach Dimitru arrives in Eastport, Maine, bearing an amulet and searching for absolution. His salvation is dependent on the Benoit Family, who are also pitiless and tormented. Zach’s deliverance is reliant on Juliette Benoit. The young woman is grieving the loss of her soul mate, whom she believes has reincarnated without her. Miraculously, the amulet imparts messages to Juliette. The fate of both Zach and Juliette, as well as the town, depends upon her ability to learn and convey those lessons before the arrival of a hurricane—one with the force to devastate Eastport.  




Review 


The Shipbuilder is the story of events preceding the arrival of the Saxby Gale in 1869. It devastated towns along the Bay of Fundy with high winds and surging tides. Juliette Benoit and her family live in Eastport, Maine. She is a spiritual woman with beliefs in Christianity, reincarnation, and Obeah, a Carribean voodoo-type religion. She is waiting for her soulmate and thinks the arrival of Zach Dimitru, a killer for hire, may herald his coming. 
I found the story to be somewhat of a mishmash. Much of the dialogue was too current for Maine in 1869 and there were other historical inaccuracies. For example, at one point, Juliette's brother Ben and his girlfriend, Seneca, a black woman, talk about relocating to Oregon because it might be more tolerant there. In fact, Oregon in the 1800s was noted as a 'white-only' state that banned blacks. The author might have chosen to set the story in South Carolina in 1952 with Hurricane Abel which would have suited her historical references and dialogue better in my opinion.
The paranormal stuff with the amulet, reincarnation, and Obeah seemed more of a 'New Age' setting than anything that was going on in Maine during the 19th century. Even the spiritualist movements didn't really fit with what was described in this story. If this was supposed to be an alternate history book, it probably should have more defined as such.
I found Ben and Seneca's story the most interesting part of the book. All the other people were more like characters in a soap opera who only operated so their stories could be resolved by the Saxby Gale. I'm sure some readers will enjoy this book, but it just wasn't for me.




About the Author


Salina is an avid student of Colonial America and the American Revolution. Her lifelong passion for history and all things supernatural led her to write historical fantasy. Reading, extensive traveling and graveyard prowling with her husband keep that passion alive. She has three forthcoming novels in the works for 2017. Salina lives in Austin, Texas and is a member of The Writers’ League of Texas..





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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Trad Tuesday: The Bells of Rhymney sung by Oysterband



The Bells of Rhymney was first sung by folksinger Pete Seeger, using words written by Welsh poet Idris Davies. The lyrics to the song were drawn from part of Davies' poetic work Gwalia Deserta, which was first published in 1938. The work was inspired by a local coal mining disaster and by the failure of the 1926 General Strike and the "Bells of Rhymney" stanzas follow the pattern of the nursery rhyme"Oranges and Lemons". 
It has been performed by a lot of people, most notably the Byrds, but I like this version by Oysterband.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

National Poetry Month

Painting by Vladimir Rumyantsev http://vsemart.com/painting-cats-vladimir-rumyantsev/

April is National Poetry Month. I share this every year, one of my few poems ever to see the light of day.

Pierre le Chat

Pierre le Chat was a debonair cat
And he lived in gay Paree
He could charm the mademoiselles
Under the Notre Dame bells
With a bottle of Musigny.

Pierre le Chat was a debonair cat
Flirting on the roofs of Paree
He would sing out a song
All the live long day long
Purring j’aime and Je t'adore.

Pierre le Chat was a debonair cat
Working hard all the day in Paree
For mademoiselle was smitten
And produced fourteen kittens
N'est-ce pas, c'est la vie.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Tour and Giveaway: Startoucher by C.J. Odle




Sci fi / Fantasy
Date Published: February 17, 2018

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Humanity is put on trial by the aliens who seeded life on Earth.



After 3.8 billion years, the alien creators of life on Earth return to evaluate the results of their experiment. One species is found to be an extreme danger to itself and others – Humanity. Evidence for the continuation of the species hangs by a thread.

Jake Connolly, talented up and coming LA lawyer, has a hidden psychic side long suppressed. When a series of intense visionary experiences threaten to derail his life, he is dragged unwillingly towards mysterious events deep in the Mojave Desert. What he discovers there changes him forever, and will affect the lives of everyone on the planet.

As the world watches its destiny unfold, humanity is forced to fight for its survival in a Galactic court and justify its existence to far superior beings.

An innovative, intelligent, and mystical novel that asks the biggest questions of all.

Where are we from…where are we going...how much have we truly evolved?…


About the Author


C.J. Odle is an author and ayahuascero (works with medicinal plants) living in a small conservation and healing center in the Peruvian amazon.

Born in 1961, from an early age he developed an interest in science fiction and fantasy. Around the age of 17 he began to study divination, which led to a career of over 35 years working as an astrologer and psychic. He has written four previous books, all non-fiction and mind body spirit titles.

In his early forties he experienced a psychic crisis, which led him to Peru to complete a 6 year apprenticeship in Amazonian shamanism. He still lives in the jungle in Peru with his wife. Startoucher is his first novel.



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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Reader Tour & Giveaway




Do you love reading romance books featuring people of color? Join us on the Reader Love Tour & Giveaway where it’s all about YOU. 

Enter daily giveaways for African American, Interracial, and Multicultural Romance books by the participating authors on BlackLoveBooks.com and several prizes including a six month KU subscription (or $60 Amazon Gift Card).

Participating Authors:

Amarie Avant | Bella Fontaine | Chiquitad Dennie | Dana Pittman | Danyelle Scroggins | DeiIra Smith-Collard | G.L. Tomas | J. Nichole | J.L. Campbell | Ja'Nese Dixon | Janae Keyes | Kim Golden | ML Preston | Monica L. Smith | Rachelle Ayala | Savannah J. Frierson | Sheena Binkley | Suzette D. Harrison | Suzette Riddick | Taige Crenshaw | Tasha L. Harrison



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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Trad Tuesday: Nil Na La performed by Solas


Nil Na La is a traditional song. It means 'Daylight has not come.'  This version is one of my favorites and performed by Solas.

Tá na caoirigh ag ithe an gheamhair 
Tá na gamhna ag ól an bhainne 
Prátaí síos gan díolachán 
's duine gan mheabhair na raghfá abhaile 

(The sheep are eating the corn 
The calves are drinking the milk 
The potatoes they are unsold 
You madman, will you not go home!) 

Is deas an bhean i Siobhán óg 
Gúna nua uirthí aníos ón siopa 
Is breathnaím ar mo ghiní óir 
'S i a' rince ar an mbord leis an phoc ar buile 

(Siobhan is a nice young girl 
In her new dress down from the shop 
I gaze at my golden guinea 
And it spinning on the table 
While I get angry) 

Curfa (Chorus) 
Nil 'na lá, tá 'na lá 
Nil 'na lá, tá ar maidin 
NIl 'na lá, tá 'na lá 
Bean a rá, is i ar fhaga 

Don't send me out into the dark 
The night is cold and I'll be perished 
But come to bed with me awhile 
And we'll be warm beneath the blankets 

Buailim suas, buailim síos 
Buailim cleamhan ar bhean a leanna 
Cuirim giní óir ar an mbord 
Is bím ag ál anseo go maidin 

Chorus 
I go up and I go down 
I've a rendevous with the tavern lady 
I put a guinea on the table 
And I drink me fill until the morning 

Tá mo bhróga I dtigh an óil 
Tá mo stocaí I dtigh á leanna 
Tá na coiligh go léir ag glaoch 
Is b'éigean domsa dhul abhaile 

Chorus 

I left my shoes in the pub 
I left my stockings there as well 
The cocks have all begun to crow 
And it's time for me to head on homewards 

Chorus