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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”


“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.

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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.