Wednesday, 27 February 2019

#bookreview: Day 115 on an Alien World | Jeannette Bedard

Day 115 on an Alien World (Settler Chronicles Book 1)Day 115 on an Alien World by Jeannette Bedard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So sometime end of last year, I received a random email from the author asking if I'd like to review her book. It happens. I have my review email on my blog. Looked at the details and felt eh, why not? It's the type of thing I would casually pick up if it's cheap enough anyway.

Overall, Day 115 on an Alien World was an interesting enough read for me to give it 3.5 stars. I liked the plot twisty stuff and the way things unfolded. The basic premise is simple enough: things are going terribly at the new colony on Thesan, right from departure. Margo thinks there's a saboteur on board... but who? And who can she trust? It's full of mystery and intrigue, danger and adventure. There's a light romance going on, and there are (sad) deaths to tug at your heartstrings. Space opera, in a nutshell.

What I didn't like so much was the structure of the book. It initially took me a little while to get into it because the first few chapters were a little confusing. There were several time-jumpy things. You start off at Day 114, drop back into pre-departure, jump forwards to Day 114, and then Day 1 or something... It also jumps between Gary's point of view and Margo's. I don't think I got fully oriented until probably Chapter 5 or so when it's firmly in Margo's POV and following the storyline at little more sequentially. I guess doing this kind of ramped up the tension a little? But honestly, I'm not quite sure it was necessary. (But also 20% chance I was confused because I read this while in bed with a cold and slightly headachey.)

At any rate, if you're looking for a thriller/suspense story set in space, this one's a good one to try.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 21 February 2019

#guestpost: C.W. Briar talks about his debut dark fantasy novel, Whispers From the Depths

I’m author C.W. Briar. I have wrestled buffaloes, worked as Jason Momoa’s stunt double, and lied on guest posts for book blogs. One thing that is absolutely true is that my debut dark fantasy novel, Whispers From The Depths, just released.



Describe Whispers From The Depths
I pitched the book in a few ways. I originally described it as Frozen except with less Disney and a lot more Beowulfian horror. A more accurate description would be Beowulf as told by Michael Crichton (and I’m aware that concept already exists in the form of Eaters of the Dead, but let me have this).

During the pitch, I also told my publisher I found new ways to kill people with water.

In this world, the Whisperers are the ones who keep people safe from water spirits. They’ve also been enslaved. Betka is one of the Whisperers, and she’s part of an expedition to free a castle from a water spirit’s attack. She hates and fears the warriors she serves under, but she hopes to rescue her sister from the besieged castle.


What is the magic like?
Whisperers and spirits both have considerable control over water’s forms and flow. They also exert pressure on each other in battles of will. Whisperers can focus that influence through motion and spoken words, but it’s willpower that’s the key.

An everyday battle might involve a spirit flooding a village, trying to drown people, while the Whisperer forces the water back to where it belongs. The battles in the book are significantly fiercer than that, though.


Are there more kinds of magic?
Whispers From The Depths is pretty focused in its scope. There’s a lot more I could have gone into, like the history of the spirits or the origin of the Whisperers’ power. I would love to visit that information in the future. For now, the world is zoomed in on Betka and her grandfather. It’s a story about humans in a world with magic, rather than a story about magic and humans.

That’s my roundabout way of saying there might more to magic in this world, but that information would be revealed as the story expands to different times and places.


What are the themes of the book?
Betka and Asi are Whisperers, both dealing with the same issues, but they approach the problems with different perspectives. A lot of the themes are tied into the things they debate or react to in differing ways. What does it mean to love the world when the world hates you back? How does love really conquer?

Vengeance. Survival. The role of traditions and past/religious wisdom in present turmoil.

Betka faces conflicts with her captors and the water spirit, but she also feels conflicted about her role as a Whisperer and the way she was taught to live.


What kinds of reader would enjoy Whispers From The Depths?
I aim for a balance of the terror of horror with the awe of fantasy. I want to be scary enough for horror fans but adventurous enough for fantasy fans. Good comparisons of that tone are Jurassic Park and Stranger Things.

If you want a medieval fantasy story with an emphasis on suspense, check it out. If you like books that raise moral questions while also entertaining, you’re my kind of reader.

PURCHASE WHISPERS FROM THE DEPTHS FROM:


C.W. Briar writes fantasy that's dark but hopeful, filled with wonder and humor along with the suspense and creepiness. His favorite stories are the ones that make him both smile and perch on the edge of his seat. By day, he works as a systems engineer, testing or even riding on trains, airplanes, and helicopters. At night, when not writing, he prepares fancy dinners and shows off his awesome corgis. He's a graduate of Binghamton University and lives in Upstate NY with his wife, three kids, and secret stashes of chocolate.

Sign up for newsletter exclusives through his website: http://www.cwbriar.com

Social Media Links:
https://www.facebook.com/CWBriar
https://twitter.com/CW_Briar
https://www.instagram.com/cw_briar/

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

#bookreview: Whispers From the Depths | C.W. Briar

Whispers From The DepthsWhispers From The Depths by C.W. Briar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Whisperers are trapped by their own powers. Although they have the power to speak to and control water spirits, they cannot use the same powers they wield to set themselves free—whatever harm they cause to others will be inflicted on themselves. When the tribute is late from Kysavar Castle, the king sends a team to find out what happened, and Betka, a palace Whisperer, gets herself sent there so she can find out what has happened to her sister. What she finds instead is horror—betrayal, mutiny, and a powerful water spirit gone rogue.

Opening with the dramatic fall of the Whisperer temple, the story jumps NINETY-TWO YEARS into the future, which was really annoying, because I wanted to know what happened to Eder. You do eventually find out what happened to him, but only in flashbacks, and some ingenious story weaving, but it was still… irritating.

That aside, Briar treats us to a story of contrasts: Betka, the bold, angry Whisperer, ready to rebel against the teaching of the order, vs Asi, the calm, timid Whisperer, who holds that by doing everything with love and according to the teachings of the order, they will be able to regain their freedom. Kuros and Vydan, almost-kind soldiers who do not hate the Whisperers, treating them as humans within the bounds of their orders vs Rorlen and Denogrid, hardened soldiers who bully and torture the Whisperers because of the powers they wield.

Whispers From the Depths holds no punches. It is dark and gritty, grim and full of death, and yet there is always this glimmer of hope, first held out by Asi—and then grasped by all the others—that love truly does conquer all.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

PURCHASE WHISPERS FROM THE DEPTHS:


C.W. Briar writes fantasy that's dark but hopeful, filled with wonder and humor along with the suspense and creepiness. His favorite stories are the ones that make him both smile and perch on the edge of his seat. By day, he works as a systems engineer, testing or even riding on trains, airplanes, and helicopters. At night, when not writing, he prepares fancy dinners and shows off his awesome corgis. He's a graduate of Binghamton University and lives in Upstate NY with his wife, three kids, and secret stashes of chocolate.

Sign up for newsletter exclusives through his website: http://www.cwbriar.com

Social Media Links:
https://www.facebook.com/CWBriar
https://twitter.com/CW_Briar
https://www.instagram.com/cw_briar/

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

#bookreview: A Woman's Battle for Grace: Why God Is More Than You Expected and Everything You Need

A Woman's Battle for Grace: Why God Is More Than You Expected and Everything You NeedA Woman's Battle for Grace: Why God Is More Than You Expected and Everything You Need by Cheryl Brodersen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Filled with anecdotes from Cheryl Brodersen's own life, A Woman's Battle for Grace: Why God is More Than You Expected and Everything You Need is an honest look at how much we need God's grace in our lives. Technically, most of the stuff here is applicable to everyone regardless of gender but Brodersen draws on examples of women from the Bible and women in her life, which somewhat skews the examples towards children and motherhood in some ways (though men can also relate. I mean I don't have children. Why is everything gendered ugh.) She also deals particularly with the false expectations of perfection, beauty standards, and self-condemnation that seems to plague women in more ways than men.

Brodersen invites you to reflect on your spiritual walk at the end of every chapter, closing with a prayer and a list of questions for consideration, which makes it great both for personal study, or for discussion with friends.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

#coverreveal: End of the Magi | Patrick W. Carr

Fleeing for his life after his adoptive father is put to death by a ruthless Parthian queen, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, escapes the city. There he begins an epic journey filled with peril, close escapes, and dangerous battles. Over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can't forget and the promise that the world will never be the same.


Coming November 5, 2019 from Bethany House Publishers


Patrick W. Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of cold war tensions. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee.
Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. Patrick’s day job for the last twelve years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and a dog he calls Mr. Fruffles. He has four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. While Patrick enjoys reading about himself, he thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.

Friday, 8 February 2019

#fridayflash: The Other Woman



It’s the announcement that he’s leaving that surprises Iman the most.

“Why now?” she asks. The baby is due in two months. Their daughter Tulen is not yet four. She can’t do this alone.

Bakar stares at her. “You knew? Of course you knew.” His face pinches as he folds his arms and spits, “You and your witchery,” before turning away. 

It’s not witchery, but Iman doesn’t have the energy to argue. “It’s not—I’ve let you—” She drops her hand and stares at the wooden spoon she hadn’t realised she’d been waving about. “Just… why now?”

He slumps on their tattered couch, runs a hand over his face, scratches at his beard and mumbles something.

Iman leans forward. “What? I didn’t catch that.”

He looks up, exasperated, and repeats louder, “I said, she’s pregnant. Can’t you read that off my mind? Do I suddenly need to spell everything out for you now?”

“But I’m pregnant too.” It comes out in a bewildered rush she hadn’t meant to speak aloud. I’m pregnant too and he’s also your child. And Tulen is your daughter. You should be there for them. For us. Not this other woman.

Bakar just gives her a weird look. “So?”

“So? So? What do you mean ‘so’? This is your child. I am your wife. She is nothing. A whore.” The girl is not a whore. She’s a sixteen-year-old kid flattered that a good-looking man ten years her senior is paying her interest. Iman knows that but she doesn’t care. She wants things to go back to the way it was before. Before, when she was cooking lunch and ignoring the fact that she knew her husband was cheating on her. He’d done it four years ago when she was pregnant with Tulen, as if a few months without sex would be the death of him. She’d ignored it then too. Maybe she shouldn’t have.

He sighs and leans his head back against the backrest, covering his eyes with his forearm. Iman steels herself to fight, for the careless words she knows will cut her to the bone. She’s thrown when all he says is, “Her parents are kicking her out of the house. I can’t bring her back here. That’s not fair to you.”

Just as quickly, her self-righteous anger deflates. It’s nice to know her husband has learnt some responsibility, even if it’s not towards her. She leaves him to stew on the couch and heads back into the kitchen, where she’d been making soup. It’s starting to boil over and she hurries to lift the heavy pot off the coals.

Iman stirs the soup and tastes it absently, her gaze fixed on the blue sky outside the window. The sun is warm, but she is cold. It’s not until she feels heat on her cheeks that she realises she’s crying. I told you so, she imagines Rahsia saying, You knew he would cheat on you. She hates this talent that she and Rahsia share, this ability to read minds. There are many things about her marriage she would rather have not known.

They need to talk through this. Iman washes her face and sets the table. As much as Bakar assumes she can read everything on his mind, that’s not true. Her talent is weak and untrained—the main reason she knows about the girl is because Bakar dreams very loudly about her every night when he sleeps in their bed.

Bakar takes his place at the head of the table when she tells him lunch is ready.

“Where’s Tulen?” he asks.

“Out with Rahsia,” she says. Her best friend had come over this morning and taken the four-year-old out shopping for her upcoming birthday. Iman wonders if Rahsia had known something, whether she’d read something off Bakar’s mind. Had she planned for them to be alone? Iman wouldn’t put it past Rahsia.

They start eating.

Iman breaks the silence. “How long?”

“Huh?” 

“How far along is she? Her pregnancy?”

Bakar shrugs as he spoons more soup messily into his mouth. “Long enough to show a little.”

“How long have you been seeing her?” She could guess, but she doesn’t want to. She wants to force a confession out of him, as if that would make her feel any better and him any guiltier.

He manages to almost look contrite. “Six months.”

“So the minute you knew I was pregnant.”

He doesn’t say anything, just continues eating.

“You do know you’ll need her parents’ consent for marriage.”

His spoon clatters, spilling soup everywhere. “Marriage? What?”

Iman’s anger burns cold. “You’re leaving me to take care of your underaged mistress because she’s pregnant and you’re not going to actually marry her? You’re not going to legitimise your own child? What were you planning to do? Just live together so everyone would think she’s a cheap whore?”

“No! I mean yes! I—How do you even know how old she is?”

“I snooped, okay. Happy? You were dreaming about her every night you were home and I was angry so I wanted to find out who she was and I—” 

It hadn’t been her finest moment, storming up to the house, banging on the door demanding to see that slut only to find a pair of confused parents and a frightened teenager. She’d pretended she’d gotten the wrong address. 

Iman shakes her head, hoping she isn’t the one who has caused this tragedy. No, it was his fault for sleeping with her. “What did she tell you?”

“She said she was nineteen.”

Iman snorts.

“I’m sorry.”

She knows he’s not, but she nods. “You’d better marry her. You’ve already ruined her life.”

---

So I have all these short pieces I've been doing for class and decided it was time to post one up.

This one is a snippet on Tulen's mother, and how/why she separates from her husband, so it happens before both Secretkeeper and Absolution. If you've read the short Shattered Memories on The Painted Hall Collection, you'll recognise Iman and Rahsia. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

#bookreview: Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico | David Bowles

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of MexicoFeathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico by David Bowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky started off as a fantastic retelling of the myths of Mexico. The storytelling was vivid and the mythology of the beginning of the world was compelling. However, as the ages passed, moving onwards to the third and fourth ages, it started to read a little like a history book. Part of this was because it was concerned with the dealings of men (with the interference of the gods) but also because it was dealing with a lot more with wars between humans themselves. There were still some wonderful stories of passionate women and men with some interference from the gods, but the last part (Fifth Age, I think) became very much a history of which nation rose to conquer which other nation, and who betrayed someone else for power, culminating in the Spanish invasion.
I was really only here for the mythology, so I started losing interest at about that point. Still, it was mostly an enjoyable read, so I guess 3.75 stars?

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Happy New Year again!


Well, technically it's the Lunar New Year, but old habits die hard.


These peanut cookies are a ripoff because that whole column in the middle IS EMPTY.

I've been thinking about stuff over at medium, maybe, because I'm not sure if I'll finish the piece(s) or post it/them.

Monday, 4 February 2019

#musicmonday: Borrow Mine | Bebo Norman



Take my hand 
And walk with me awhile 
Because it seems your smile 
Has left here

And don't give in 
When you fall apart 
And your broken heart 
Has failed you

I'll set a light up
On a hilltop
To show you my love
For this world to see

But when [Moses'] arms grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him and, as he sat, Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Exodus 17:12

And take my love
When all that you can see
Is the raging sea
All around us

And don't give up
Cause I'm not letting go
And the God we know
Will not fail us

We'll lay it all down
As we call out
Sweet saviour
Help our unbelief

Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and in his grace find timely help.
Hebrews 4:16

When you are weak
Unable to speak
You are not alone
God of us save us
And never forsake us
Is coming to take us
And take us to our home

For ours is not a high priest unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who, because of his likeness to us, has been tested every way, only without sin. 
Hebrews 4:15

You can borrow mine 
When your hope is gone 
You can borrow mine 
When you can't go on 
Cause the world will not defeat you 
When we're side by side 
When your faith is hard to find 
When your faith is hard to find 
You can borrow mine 
You can borrow mine


Take my hand

Take my love
Don't give in, no
And don't give up