Wednesday Poem: The Night Weaver ~ Amelia Dashwood

night

The Night Weaver

She blossoms in the darkness
Her magic stirs at night
Whispering potent wishes
Embracing moonbeams tight

She thrives in flawless silence
In solitude and grace
And plots her tender magic
Within a sacred space

The night owl claims her quiet
And ponders mysteries
Whilst weaving spells and stories
And setting daydreams free

She sparkles in the blackness
Like glowing candle flames
She muddles through her sunlit days
Till twilight sings again

The moon and stars are chaperones
Her oracles of time
She breathes in waves of wisdom
And sings sweet lullabies

Beneath the speckled starlight
The darkness is her realm
A universe expanding
Till sunrise breaks the spell

Amelia Dashwood

Wednesday Poem: December Magic ~ Pandita Sanchez

5224907756_06318c3071

December Magic

Waltzing with the wind,
in crocheted gowns of white lace…
flurries of snowflakes
sway to sweet divine music…
that only angels can hear.

Pandita Sanchez

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Christmas Special: The Snowman ~ Raymond Briggs

As this week is Christmas week, I will be doing something special on the days I post.  Today we will begin with one of my favourites and, what better way to start, than with a few words from the Author himself:

“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snows I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made the Snowman.” – Raymond Briggs

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5 Cures for ‘Outlander’ Separation Anxiety

Personally I gave up on the Outlander series after the first three books, but I know plenty of people who pull at the bit waiting for the next book, and who schedule their day around the next episode on TV.  Hopefully as you wait for season 2 to air, or wait for the next instalment in the book series, here are five books I think you may find helpful:

Into the wildernessInto the Wilderness ~ Sara Donati
ISBN ~ 978-0385342575
Publisher ~Delta
No. Of Pages ~ 896 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati’s epic novel sweeps us into another time and place…and into a breathtaking story of love and survival in a land of savage beauty.

It is December of 1792. Elizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered—a white man dressed like a Native American: Nathaniel Bonner, known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, Elizabeth soon finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as with her own family. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.

veil of timeVeil of Time ~ Sara Claire R. McDougall
ISBN ~ 978-1451693812
Publisher ~ Gallery Books
No. Of Pages ~ 416 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

time travelers wifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger
ISBN ~ 978-1476764832
Publisher ~Harvest Books
No. Of Pages ~ 571 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

This is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

human croquetHuman Croquet ~ Kate Atkinson
ISBN ~ 978-0312186883
Publisher ~ Picador
No. Of Pages ~ 352 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound

Once upon a time, in far-off England, there was a small village surrounded by a mighty forest, where a dark stranger, one Francis Fairfax, arrived to build a stately home. Fairfax Manor was renowned throughout the land for its feudal pleasures, its visit from the Queen, and the mysterious beauty of Lady Fairfax, who one day cursed the Fairfax name and vanished into the forest, never to be seen again except in a ghostly haze. Fast-forward to 1960…Over the centuries the forest has been destroyed, and the Fairfaxes have dwindled, too; now they are the local grocers to their suburb of Glebelands, a family as disintegrated as its ancestral home. It is here that young Isobel Fairfax awakens on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, a day that will change everything she knows and understands about her past and her future. Helping celebrate if one could call it that are the members of her strange and distracted family: There is Vinny, Maiden Aunt from Hell; Gordon, Isobel’s father, who disappeared for seven years; and Charles, her elder brother, who divides his time between searching for aliens and waiting for the return of their long-gone mother, Eliza. And back again…As her day progresses, Isobel is pulled into brief time warps and extended periods of omniscience, from the days of the first Fairfax to the roaring twenties to World War II, through which she learns the truth about her family and about her mother, whose disappearance is part of the secret that remains at the heart of the forest.

perilous gardThe Perilous Gard ~ Elizabeth Marie Pope; Richard Cuffari (Illustrator)
ISBN ~ 978-0618150731
Publisher ~Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
No. Of Pages ~ 288 pages
Age range ~ 10 – 14 Years
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound

In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.

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Review: The Abhorsen Chronicles (The Abhorsen Trilogy, #1-3) ~ Garth Nix

AbhorsenISBN ~ 978-0061441820
Publisher ~ HarperTeen
No. Of Pages ~ 1232 pages
Links ~ Abe Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Sabriel
Every step brings Sabriel closer to a battle that will pit her against the true forces of life and death—and bring her face-to-face with her own destiny.

Lirael
With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil, which threatens the fate of the Old Kingdom.

Abhorsen
The Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are missing, and Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the evil Destroyer—before it is too late.

2 Thumbs-UpThis is a huge book even by my standards, and to add to the confusion it is one of those that, by some strange reason is known under a different title depending on where in the world you live; for example in the Authors native Australia this book is entitled The Old Kingdom Chronicles.  It is also a trilogy that not many fantasy readers appear to know about.  As for me it took me some time to actually finish reading this, and that was not due to its size.

The characters in all three of the books, in my opinion, could have benefitted from a lot more time spent in their development.  None of them really gripped me and made me want to invest more of my time in getting to know them.  I really was expecting to like the characters, but they were flat and very one-dimensional people who seemed to enjoy a lot of walking.  You would have to read the books to understand that reference.  Having said this, the character of Sabriel in the first book of the three was, by far, the most interesting of any in the Chronicles; she is a determined young woman with a definite plan for her life.  When curve balls are thrown at her she is able to adapt and think on her feet making her the most impressionable of all the characters in these books.  What really would have  helped the characters come into their own in these books would have been more background and explanation into how they learned their skills and came to be in the place they are when the books open.

The world in which these books are set could have been so much more.  It was a wonderful concept but I felt that the Author really did not do it justice and, like his character development, it would have benefitted from more time being spent in the descriptive aspects.   At no time did I feel as if I had actually been transported into this world and was experiencing the events occurring; in a good fantasy novel a reader should feel themselves transported to the alternate world, as that is part of the pull of this genre.

After buying this trilogy on the recommendation of a friend, I now wish that I had kept my money in my pocket and will be donating my copy to the local library.  If long and plodding fantasy books are something you enjoy, this is probably the book series for you; if not I would recommend you give this a miss.

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The Littlest Christmas Tree ~ Amy Peterson

Christmas tree on a plate

The Littlest Christmas Tree

The littlest Christmas tree,
lived in a meadow of green,
Among a family,
of tall evergreens,
He learned how to whisper,
the evergreen song,
with the slightest of wind,
that came gently along.

He watched as the birds,
made a home out of twigs,
and couldn’t wait till,
he too was big.
For all of the trees,
offered a home,
the maple, the pine, and the oak,
who’s so strong.

“I hate being little”,
the little tree said,
“I can’t even turn colors,
like the maple turns red”,
“I can’t help the animals,
like the mighty old oak”,
“He shelters them all,
in his wide mighty cloak”.

The older tree said,
“Why little tree you don’t know?
The story of a mighty king,
from the land with no snow?”
Little tree questioned,
“A land with no snow?”
“Yes!” said old tree,
“A very old story,
from so long ago”.

“A star appeared,
giving great light,
over a manger,
on long winters night.
A baby was born,
a king of all kings,
and with him comes love,
over all things.”

“He lived in a country,
all covered in sand,
and laid down his life,
to save all of man.’

Little tree thought of the gift
given by him,
then the big tree said with the
happiest grin,
“We’re not just trees,
but a reminder of that day,
there’s a much bigger part,
of a role that we play!”

“For on Christmas eve,
my life I’ll lay down,
in exchange for a happier,
loving ground.
And as I stand dying,
they’ll adorn me in trim,
this all will be done,
in memory of him”.

“Among a warm fire,
with family and friends,
in the sweet songs of Christmas,
I’ll find my great end,
then ever so gently,
he’ll come down to see,
and take me to heaven,
Jesus and me”.

“So you see little tree,
we are not like the oak,
who shelters all things,
beneath his great cloak.
Nor are we like the maple
in fall,
whose colors leave many,
standing in awe”.

“The gift that we give,
is ourselves, limb for limb,
the greatest of honor,
in memory of him”.

The little tree bowed,
his head down and cried,
and thought of the king,
who willingly died.
For what kind of gift,
can anyone give?
Then to lay down your life,
when you wanted to live.

A swelling of pride
came over the tree,
Can all of this happen?
Because of just me?
Can I really bring honor?
By adorning a home?
By reminding mankind,
that he’s never alone?

With this thought, little tree,
began singing with glee,
Happy and proud,
to be a true Christmas tree.

You can still hear them singing,
even the smallest in height,
singing of Christmas,
and that one holy night.

Amy Peterson

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Song of the Witches ~ William Shakespeare

The end of this week is Samhain, or Halloween, and this week will be poetry week here on the site.  To get the ball, or should I say pumpkin, rolling here is the first of the three poems I will be featuring this week.

witches

Song of the Witches

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and bling-worms sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

William Shakespeare – from Macbeth

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Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) ~ Brandon Sanderson

mistbornISBN ~ 978-0765311788
Publisher ~ Tor Books
No. Of Pages ~ 537 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Macmillan

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

4 Thumbs-UpIf you have a need to be anti-social for a while, and don’t we all at some time or another, this is the book for you and despite its title it is the first in the Mistborn series.  After featuring it in an article of what people might like to read while game of Thrones was off the air, I decided I would give this a try to see if it really was a worthy substitute.

I was immediately pulled into this book from the first line, and soon felt comfortable with characters that I came to regard as the mains in this epic.  There is a strong female who, despite all odds, manages to survive and then actually thrive in this bizarre environment the Author places her in.  Add to this a loveable rogue who teaches her everything she needs to know about using her newly found powers, and this all adds to up characters that readers can connect to and want to follow on their travels. However, not all the characterizations in this book are as well done as these two I have mentioned, some of them were lacking in descriptiveness and I found myself at some points hard pushed to remember their role in the plot.

It is often hard for an Author in this genre to come up with something new and different, but it appears in this book.  The ‘magic’ used in its pages was unique and used items that I had not come across before in other books.  From the way the magic is described and explained it is obvious that a lot of thought went into this system as the Author wrote this book, and it works well as it plays a major part in the action of which there is definitely plenty.  When writing about the battles waged using this magic, the Author was very careful to stick to the rules he had created and applied to it, and there was not a point where I found myself having a ‘hang on, didn’t you say….’ moment.  World building was not skimped on either in this novel, it is not just a strange environment that happens to be there, but has a history behind how it came to being, and this is just as interesting as the plotline itself.

The downside for me whilst reading this was the dialogue, it had a tendency to take the safe road, and use dialogue that can be found in most books of this genre which made some of the conversations a little unbelievable and also, in some cases, as if the book itself were intended for a much younger audience.  However, this was just a minor peeve and didn’t pull away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an epic fantasy read that will keep them engrossed with every turn of the page.  I will definitely be reading more in this series.

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Review: Witches of East End ~ Melissa de la Cruz

WitchesISBN ~ 978-1401323905
Publisher ~ Hyperion
No. Of Pages ~ 272
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The three Beauchamp women—Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid—live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret—they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there’s Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache,

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it’s time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

I initially thought that this was going to be an engrossing and quick read starting as it did with a wonderful description of the town where the main storyline was to take place.  This idea was quickly dismissed when the younger of the two sisters was introduced.

The main characters of this book are the ‘witches’ mentioned in the title and, in my opinion, the Author could have left the younger sister out of the book altogether and it would not have done any harm.  She is written as being perfect in a non-perfect way and, after struggling through this book for almost half its entirety I finally got fed up of reading about her heaving boobs and put the book to one side.  I did like the character of the Mother; she was practical and quite strong with her elder daughter possessing a lot of her traits.  However, these two characters were not enough to keep me ploughing on until the end.

Locale descriptions were wonderful, and they make the reader feel as if they are walking the dunes, can hear the crash of the waves and, in some instances long for a life in a sleepy small town that the world does not mess with.  But again, this was not enough to keep me reading and was definitely not enough to bolster up a lacking plot, if in fact there were any in the book at all.

I can’t in all honesty recommend this book to any other readers, except those who are diehard fans of this Author, and I very much doubt that I will be reading anything written by them again.  For the pure reasoning of not finishing the book, it now holds the dubious place of being the only one I have reviewed that I did not finish and, therefore, have not given a rating to.

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Review: Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) ~ Chris Wooding

retribution fallsFrey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is …

4 Thumbs-UpIf you are a Browncoat who is lost in lamentations over the cancellation of Firefly, this is the book for you.  I’m not saying it will replace the crew of Serenity, but it will go a long way to fill the void and feed the need for a good pirate/cowboy steampunk western.

The individual crew members of the Ketty Jay are introduced to the reader one by one, with each revealing their story, apart from the Captain.  To say he was a work in progress would be an understatement as his character was developed and grew and the novel progressed.  Most of all the characters are loveable on the Ketty Jay, maybe not so much their motives and reasoning at some points, but they each have something about them that will have the reader wanting to learn more about them and join them on their adventures;  Id’ join them if we could leave the Captain behind as I just could not warm to him and thought him to be a bit of a spineless human being.  As in all the good adventure stories the villains, are well just that, villains.  From the description of these characters, right down to the personalities they each have there is nothing that could have the reader mistaking them for being anything else than what they are…baddies.

Although, in my opinion, the story takes a while to get underway this is not a bad thing, as in these ‘slow’ moments is where the set-up for the adventure begins and when it starts it definitely moves along at a cracking pace and does not disappoint at all.  Through great writing the Author is able to provide a perfect balance of sadness alongside humour and wraps it all up in the form of shenanigans.  There is magic, gun play, sword fights and daemons; so enough of everything to appeal to most reader.

I would highly recommend this novel to all Browncoats, steampunk fans and lovers of the type of adventure novels that are so hard to come by today.  I will definitely be reading the remaining ‘Tales of the Ketty Jay’ novels.

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