Review: Shine Light by Marianne de Pierres

Title: Shine Light {Night Creatures #3}

Author: Marianne de Pierres

Published: Random House November 2012

Synopsis: Ixion. The island of ever-night.  If she had a choice, Naif wouldn’t go back. But her friends will die if she doesn’t find a cure for the badges that are slowly killing them, and her brother is there, fighting against the Ripers who hold everyone in thrall. And Naif has knowledge that might save them all. First she must solve the mystery of Ixion’s eternal night. Then she must convince everyone – rebels and revellers alike – to join her cause. And all the while, she must fight the urge to go to Lenoir – her greatest love, her mortal enemy.  The secrets of Ixion must be revealed. The evils must be stopped. A new dawn will come

Status: Read on November 12, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Random House/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In the stunning conclusion to Marianne de Pierres Night Creatures trilogy, Shine Light reveals the secrets of Ixion when Naif returns to the pleasure island to lead a revolution. Having learned the horrific fate of those withdrawn from Ixion and discovered the conspiracy between Grave and the Ripers, Naif now must solve the mystery of Ixion’s eternal night to save her friends before their time runs out.

Fast paced and action packed, Shine Light races towards the shocking climax that sees the teens in a pitched battle against the night creatures. de Pierres brings together the characters we have met over the preceding installments of the series, Rollo, Suki, Markes, Ruzalia, Dark Eve and Lenoir to name just a few and all play a part in this finale. With the Ripers split and the night creatures restless, danger is ever present for Naif and the rebels as they search for the answers they need. What they discover is the origins of the island chains that are trapped in darkness, and a way to shine a light on the truth.

Naif is almost unrecognizable from the timid baby bat that came to Ixion in search of her brother in Burn Bright. In Shine Light she comes into her own, loyal, determined and fearless she refuses to give up even if the cost is her own life. Naif also has to deal with her relationship with Lenoir, the Riper to whom she is bonded, and the way in which her actions will affect him.
Several of the other characters readers are familiar with also have to make sacrifices in the story. Liam is forever changed, Kero has to confront his grief and the rebel gangs have to put aside their rivalries to create a united front.

While Shine Light deftly concludes the trilogy, tying up loose ends and revealing Ixion’s secrets, it seems to me that the author has left a thread that could be picked up again in the future. The Night Creatures has proved to be an exciting and creative series blending fantasy and science fiction. I am sure fans of the series will be satisfied with the climax and will no doubt hope de Pierres shines on.

Available To Purchase

@Random House I @BoomerangBooks  I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

via Booko

Visit The Night Creatures Website

The Night Creatures Trilogy Books 1 & 2

 

Sci/Fi

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title: Breathe {Breathe #1}

Author: Sarah Crossan

Published: Bloomsbury November 2012

Synopsis: When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart

Status: {Courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ}

My Thoughts:
In Sarah Crossan’s new YA novel, Breathe, what is left of the world’s population has been forced to live within Pod’s to survive after the destruction of all vegetation resulted in the oxygen levels dropping so low as to be unable to sustain life. Within the dome oxygen consumption is heavily taxed by the Breathe corporation, allowing the wealthy members of the dystopian society, the Premiums, the opportunity to live a near normal life while the Auxillary’s are unable to afford to engage in even the simplest of activities that would increase their monitored respiration rate. Alina, Bea and Quinn have known no other way of life but they are about to learn the breathtaking secret Breathe is desperate to hide.

Breathe is told from multiple points of view and begins with Alina in the midst of a daring raid on the Pod’s conservation area. Alina’s bitter cynicism contrasts with her naive idealism, she is not the most likeable character but her earnest belief in the cause is admirable. A Zone Three Auxillary class citizen of Breathe, her parents are missing, presumably murdered for their efforts to undermine Breathe, and Alina has taken up the cause. When the mission goes wrong and her partner killed, she has no choice but to escape the Pod and join the Resistance in the Outlands.
Quinn is a Premium, the privileged son of one of Breathe’s top executives who rarely thinks to question the regime that oppresses his best friend, Bea. It is only when he is confronted with Bea’s failure to gain an indisputably well deserved place in the Pod leadership program that he becomes uneasy with his blind acceptance of Breathe’s rule.
Gaining a place in the Pod leadership program would give Bea and her parents a chance at a better life but when she is denied entry, she is resigned to the status quo. Instead she looks forward to the planned camping trip with Quinn into the Outlands, hoping that the time alone will make him look at her differently.

The three teens become a reluctant team when Alina uses Quinn’s attraction to her to escape the Pod during his camping trip with Bea. Though Alina quickly attempts to ditch the pair in the Outlands, Quinn and Bea decide to follow her. I thought the concept of the book was strong, though not original (I watched The Lorax with my children just the other week). There are some elements that could have been more fully developed, others that follow a tenuous chain of logic but in the main Crossan has developed a believable setting for the novel.
Much of the story concentrates on the dangerous journey across the Outlands, providing plenty of action at a good pace as the trio encounter Drifters and are hunted by Breathe soldiers.  The journey also involves Bea and Quinn having to face uncomfortable truths about Breathe and their unconscionable manipulation of the Pod’s citizens. Their discovery of Breathe’s machinations contributes to their own personal growth. Quinn has to face the source of his comfortable existence and Bea has to develop the courage to stand against her oppressors.

Breathe is a solid dystopian young adult story for fans of the genre, who seemingly can’t get enough of the now familiar trope. I enjoyed Breathe but sadly, it didn’t quite take my breath away.

Available to Purchase

@BloomsburyANZ I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

via Booko

@AmazonUS I @BookDepository

Joint Review & Giveaway: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Title: A Corner of White (The Colors of Madeline #1)

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Published: Pan MacMillan October 2012

Synopsis: Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop. Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours. They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter. A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

Status: Read from July 24 to 27, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Pan MacMillan}

“Imaginative, original and Colourful, A Corner of White is a magical story that leaves “a trail of light” for the reader to follow..” 

I teamed up with Marg at The Adevntures of an Intrepid Reader to discuss A Corner of White. I am hosting he first part of our discussion, make sure you visit her post to read the rest of our review.

Marg:  Whilst this is my first Jaclyn Moriarty book, you have read her before Shelleyrae. How did you find this book compared to her previous books?

Shelleyrae: I wasn’t sure what to expect from A Corner of White, whose premise is very different from that of Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield series which I have read, but I was surprised to find strong similarities between the two. Both share teenage protagonists with similar traits, the themes of friendship and family are central to the story and Moriarty incorporates newspaper columns, notes, letters and book excerpts into the narrative (the Ashbury/Brookfield books are written entirely in epistolary format). A Corner of White also has a lot in common with Jaclyn’s I Have A Bed Made of Buttermilk described as a ‘fairytale for adults’. A Corner of White is, I think, a unique blend of all of the works the author has published so far.

I’m interested to know, Marg, who you think the audience of A Corner of White will be?

Marg: Initially, given the ages of the protaganists, I assumed that this was going to be another Young Adult book  (and it does suggest that it is YA on the author’s website) but I would suggest that this is a book for more mature YA readers. Maybe towards mid to late teens. The reason why I suggest that is the dual world setting is quite complex and personally I found that at times it was a challenging read.

Did you like the way that the two worlds in the book sat together in the book?

Shelleyrae: Essentially I feel there are two separate stories within A Corner of White, despite the link between Madeleine and Elliot.. What I found most challenging were the very individual ‘rules’ of the Kingdom of Cello, I’m still not sure how Colours work exactly, and though I applaud Moriarty’s imagination I felt a little lost at times. It was easier to relate to the events in the World amongst Madeleine, Jack and Belle though their story is not entirely straight forward either.

What did you think of Madeleine and her relationship with her parents and friends?

Marg: I have had to stop and have a think about this question, simply because of the change that occurs at a pivotal point in the book when we find out the truth about Madeleine and her family and friends. There were times when my heart broke for her in that she seemed to inhabit her own world (for want of a better descriptor) and so she didn’t really have a solid grasp on how things were. An example of this was in relation to Tinsels.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call her selfish but she somehow kept herself removed from her friends and when she was achieving some closeness she then inadvertently sabotaged herself.

It is interesting that the YA phenomenon of missing parents only played out in this case because only one parent was missing from both Madeleine and Elliot’s lives.

What did you think, and how would you contrast it to Elliott’s relationships with his family and friends?

Shelleyrae: Actually I thought there were  a surprising number of adults in A Corner of White, none of the teens escape notice though they do seem to have considerable leeway in their movements. In Cambridge, Madeleine has her mother, and the unusual collection tutors that homeschool her, Belle and Jack. In Elliot’s life, his mother is present as are a number of community members like the Sheriff and Jimmy.
I often wondered how much of Madeleine’s family history was real and what was imagined, did she, as she said, lead a jetset lifestyle with her parents before she and her mother left her father on a whim or was the situation far more ordinary or perhaps even bleak and difficult? Elliot’s separation from his father has that same ambiguity, did his father leave by choice with a mistress or was he taken in a violent Colour attack? In both cases though Madeleine and Elliot prefer to think the best of their absent fathers, and miss them, while also feeling a vague sense of guilt at having ‘lost’ them.
The friendships Madeleine and Elliot have are very different, while Elliot is surrounded by life long friends and is the golden boy of his community, Madeleine has only Belle and Jack and is anonymous in the city.

Marg: I think the friendship angle is very important, especially given that there are tests of the friendships within the story. I think we also saw something in Elliot’s relationships where it appears as though he is surrounded by lifelong friends, but even in that situation there is also still the possibility of inconstancy despite that. It is some times easy to look at a group of lifelong friends and be a little envious, but it is not always as it seems within those relationships.

Shelleyrae: The Kingdom of Cello has some very individual rules, what did you think of them?

Marg: The colour rules do seem to be very complex, and at times I was surprised by the order of the severity. It would seem obvious that red would be a very strong attack but I was surprised when a colour like violet was even more dangerous. When you add in that there were different levels of strength within the various colours as well, it is an interesting and complicated world.

I do think we still have an awful lot to learn about the Kingdom of Cello, particularly as each particular town seems to have its own characteristics. For example, in Elliot’s town, there are very similar technologies like electricity and computers etc, but there are other areas of the Kingdom where they may have none of that kind of technology but something different ways. I guess the closest I can compare it to is the different districts in The Hunger Games. So far, there are no shared characteristics, but I just mean in the way that all the various parts of the kingdom have different characteristics.

Is there any aspect of life in the Kingdom of Cello that you find particularly interesting?

Shelleyrae: I like the mix of magic and technology within the kingdom which seems to be distributed quite haphazardly. I’d like to know more about how the colours work, do they have form or substance for example. Red simply drifts over the town like a mist before raining fireballs, but how does Violet kidnap a person? The sometimes hourly change in seasons would certainly make life interesting though I imagine it would be particularly difficult for the Farm region. The residents of Bonfire feel that the weather has grown increasingly erratic, I wonder if that reflects the instability in the kingdom?

To read the rest of this discussion visit Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

Available To Purchase

@Pan Macmillan Australia I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

Via Booko

US/UK Release March 2013

An interview with Jaclyn Moriarty about A Corner of White

 

ENTER TO WIN

 

Pan Macmillan are offering my Australian readers the chance to win

1 of 3 print editions of A Corner of White

Required To Enter:

Leave a comment &

include your name, email address and state

(You do not have to include the email in the comment body as long as you fill in the email field when you comment)

For extra entries:

+1 tweet or facebook this post Use the icons below to make it easier and please provide a link

+1 follow Pan MacMillan via Facebook or Twitter

Total possible entries = 3

Entries close September 30th 2012

Winner drawn via Random.org


Review: Corrupted Classics by HarperCollins Australia

Title: Corrupted Classics

Author: The Corrupted Classics Team at HarperCollins Australia

Published: HarperCollins August 2012

Synopsis: This is a spine-tingling collection of scenes from beloved novels of yore, reworked with a deliciously gothic edge. The classics aren’t dead. They’re undead. Stories include: Alice in Zombieland: A Mad Z Party Hood and his Undead Men Never Neverland: To Live would be an awfully Big Adventure The Swiss Family Robinson: A Tale of Zombie Survival Hector the Undead Prince of Troy Capulet’s Garden of Horror

Status: Read on August 17, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harper Collins}

My Thoughts:

This is not my usual reading fare, a short story collection featuring zombies which have corrupted much loved classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Robin Hood. What intrigued me about this publication is how it came it to be.

“In early 2012 HarperCollinsPublishers Publishing Director, Shona Martyn, and Head of Digital, Mark Higginson, gathered together a small but intrepid group of staff from various departments and issued a challenge: to go where no traditional, book-loving trade publisher had gone before — into the land of the digital unknown.
Staff were separated into teams, given a small budget and asked to produce an original digital publication or product to release into the market. Each team was asked to create, research, cost and produce their product. The winning team would be the one that generated the most revenue for the business.
After months of surreptitious meetings, brainstorms, setbacks and small victories — the Corrupted Classics team is the first of these Project Flash Pub groups to release a product into the market.
Shona Martyn said: ‘In the world of digital, we need our publishers, editors and other creative team members to think about creating book products in a totally original way. Rather than attending seminars, reading articles about the future of digital or simply transforming existing books into e-books, we thought it would be fun to get staff to become the authors and the creators themselves so they could truly explore the medium — and test the results by actually putting them on sale. I am thrilled by the outcome. This has been empowering, a learning experience, has strengthened inter-departmental bonding and, hey, now we are selling the first product!’”*

Australian publishers have been slow to support electronic publishing so I am impressed that HarperCollins Australia shows such initiative to embrace a digital future.

Each story in this ebook is only a few pages long and uses the beloved characters from six classic stories in a scene rife with flesh eating zombies. In ‘Alice in Zombieland’, the doormouse is chained to the table to prevent him from eating the dinner guests, Alice calls herself Ali, having left her childhood innocence behind and has, lets say, an interesting relationship with the Mad Hatter. Robin Hood and his band of Undead Men, take from the living to give to the dead, ambushing travelers for their flesh. In Capulet’s Garden of Horror, Romeo climbs Juliet’s balcony to feast upon her not with his eyes but with his teeth.
If you are a zombie fan you are sure to enjoy the bloody horror, twisted humour and almost sacrilegious corruption of childhood classics.

The good news? There are still 3 teams to publish their own projects.

*Quoted from the promotional materials

Corrupted Classics on Facebook

Available To Purchase

@Amazon I @iBookstore I @Kobo I @Google

Corrupted Classics from HarperCollins Australia on Vimeo.

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Title: Throne of Glass {Throne of Glass #1}

Author: Sarah J Maas

Published: Bloomsbury August 2012

Synopsis: Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness. In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Status: Read from August 16 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ}

My Thoughts:

I love it when a book surprises me and Throne of Glass did just that. This engaging debut fantasy novel by Sarah J Maas introduces the world of Erilea, a kingdom in conflict as the King of Adarlan ruthlessly seeks to conquer his neighbours.
Celaena Sardothien was rescued near death at age eight and trained by Arobynn known as the King of the Assassins. Her talent earned her the title of Assassin of Adarlan but her capture saw her incarcerated in the Salt Mines of Endovier, a slave who is starved and beaten. Near death, Celaena is offered a reprieve, the chance to compete to become the King’s Champion. Despite her hatred of the Adarlan royalty, Celaena can’t resist the promise that, should she win, four years of service will earn her her freedom.

Celaena is an appealing heroine, for despite her deadly nature she is exactly that. Though she has endured much pain and heartbreak she retains a sense of empathy and her vulnerabilities offset her arrogant facade. Celaena has earned the right to be proud of, and confident in, her prodigious skills, though we see little of them before the competition in Throne of Glass (There are 4 e-novellas, prequels, available that illustrate her talents). Perhaps if anything, Celaena is a little too perfect, as well as being an expert assassin she is also intelligent and beautiful, however I like that Celaena makes no apologies for who she is and in fact, uses her gifts to accomplish what she needs too.
While I would have preferred less of the romantic element in Throne of Glass, which includes the obligatory love triangle, at least the attraction between Celaena, Prince Dorian Adarlan and King’s Guard, Captain Chaol Westfall, develops slowly. It’s a bit of a stretch to believe Celaena would be willing to fall for Dorian’s charms, simply by dint of his birthright but I liked the way in which his relationship with Celaena changes him. Dorian is a promising character, he is not quite the feckless prince one might expect and I have hopes that he will come into his own as the series progresses. I thought Chaol could have been a more well rounded character, I did’t feel I learnt enough about him, aside from some basic personality traits, to feel strongly about his fate.
The storyline of Throne of Glass includes an engaging balance of action and magic. Erilea is still a little sketchy with the world building receiving less attention than the establishment of character and relationships, but I didn’t find it lacking. There is enough information provided through out the story to form a solid impression of the kingdom and its operation and as it is just the first in a series I am sure there is much more to come. Throne of Glass has elements that are definitely skewed towards to the female YA market, the love triangle and descriptions of court gowns among them, but I do think it has broader age appeal.

Throne of Glass is similar in some ways to Kristin Cashore’s novel,Graceling, another YA fantasy novel I enjoyed despite not being fond of the genre in general. True high fantasy fans will probably find Throne of Glass a bit light for their tastes but I found it an entertaining and engaging escapist read.

Available to Purchase

Australian Edition: @Allen & Unwin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon

via Booko

International Edition: @Amazon I @BookDepository

 

Throne of Glass on Facebook

Review: Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

 

Title: Some Kind of Fairy Tale

Author: Graham Joyce

Published: Knopf Doubleday July 2012

Synopsis: It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phonecall from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery. He arrives at his parents house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, dishevelled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim. But her stories don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young women who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family…

Status: Read from July 08 to 09, 2012 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

I was intrigued by the premise of Some Kind of Fairy Tale which seemed similar to that of Don’t Breathe a Word, which I really enjoyed last year. When Tara disappeared it was assumed she had been abducted and murdered in the woods surrounding the village but twenty years later, on Christmas Day, a disheveled Tara, looking barely any older than when she left, knocks on the door of her childhood home. When pressed she claims that she was lured away by a man on a white horse, just six months ago and has been trapped in an otherworldly place, eager to return but forced to wait until the hinge of the day. Tara’s parents accept her story afraid of driving her away again, but her brother, Peter, is infuriated by her whimsical explanation. Richie, Tara’s childhood sweetheart who was briefly a suspect in her disappearance, is thrilled by her return, no matter where she has been. The psychiatrist she is forced to consult with believes Tara’s story is simply an elaborate confabulation to obscure a horrible trauma. As the line between fantasy and fact begins to blur, who will you believe?

Some Kind of Fairy Tale started quite strongly, and I’m not entirely sure when my attention began to drift but I think it was before I reached the half way point. I was determined to keep reading though, certain that the story would pull me back but unfortunately that never really happened. The element of ambiguity that the entire novel relies on failed to provide the tension I hoped. The overlap between Tara’s ‘truth’ and the more rational perspectives of her family and the psychiatrist, simply never blurred enough to provide the element of doubt. I needed to question Tara’s story, without the space to do so the attempts of Peter and the psychiatrist to prove otherwise seemed crude.

Peter was probably the strongest character, his hurt and confusion at his sisters return and his desire for a rational explanation are realistic. I was disappointed we learn almost nothing of how Tara feels to be back amongst the world and reunited with her family. I never figured out the identity of the mysterious narrator, and that it was at least partially why I felt removed from the story.

Perhaps if I hadn’t previously read a similar story to this I would have enjoyed Some Kind of Fairy Tale more. The structure is there, as is the concept and the writing is fine it just didn’t find it gripping. Though for me Some Kind of Fairy Tale was a fairly ordinary read, others have found it impressive, you will have to make up your own mind.

Available To Purchase

@Amazon I @BookDepository

Alternate Cover

Guest Post: Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On by Sabrina Furminger

SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON

Restless sleeper Sabrina Furminger turns to dreams for inspiration

Original Image By Lisa Ellen

For most of my life, I’ve found sleep to be an exhausting activity.
I’ve never been able to simply close my eyes, succumb to unconsciousness, and resurface eight hours later refreshed and ready to tackle the day. I’ve envied those people who find a sublime peace while asleep. Instead, my dreams—with their alternating sexy and nightmarish locales, hyper-real scents and tastes, and puzzling, dangerous characters—have long left me fatigued.
Much debate surrounds the true function of dreams. Science suggests that we needn’t read too much into our dreams, that they’re merely mental slideshows of ideas and images collected during our waking hours that don’t mean much at all. Others—Jung and Freud spring to mind—maintain that dreams are a manifestation of our deepest desires, and that the symbols contained in our dreams hold clues as to what ails or excites our psyches. I’ve always been simultaneously terrified and tantalized by the sci-fi idea that our dreams occur on some collective dreamscape that we all inhabit when we sleep; we close our eyes and our avatars meet up in this alternate, Dali-esque dimension.
Regardless of the mechanics, since early childhood, my dreams—at least those that I can remember, which typically occur right before waking—have exhausted me. They tend to be more vivid than my waking life. If I’m eating chocolate cake, it’s the most delicious cake I’ve ever eaten. If I’m walking in a meadow, it’s the most glorious meadow ever to exist on Earth, with soft green grass underfoot and a sweet breeze running its fingers through my sun-kissed hair (which is far from sun-kissed in real life). Alas, I don’t eat a lot of cake or walk in a lot of meadows in my dreams. Instead, I usually find myself in action-heavy, mostly paranormal scenarios which require me to run from cyborg ninjas, fly through the air, single-handedly fight off alien armies, or despair as human life is wiped out by an apocalyptic flood. When I finally wake from such dreams, I’m usually shaking, or sweating, and—until recently—dreading the moment sixteen or so hours in the future when my head will hit the pillow and I’ll begin the fatiguing dream cycle all over again.
For many years, I was plagued by one such draining dream. The dream was vaguely different each time, but the essentials were always the same: someone I love—be it a family member, my cat, or a character from Star Trek—would be grievously injured in some horrible manner, and in my despair I would suddenly find myself able to call the healing power of the universe to my palms. I’d lay my hands upon the injured party, and they would be healed in a burst of wind and light—at which point I’d wake up, trembling, breathless, and in tears.
The dream played out countless times over the course of many years. Each morning I’d do my damnedest to shake the image of my injured loved one out of my head, and hope it would be the last time I’d ever endure that particular vivid dream.
But one morning, as I lay in bed staring up at the ceiling, tears drying on my cheeks, I wondered what it would actually be like to possess that particular power. How would it feel to place my hands upon someone and heal their wounds? To what kind of life could that lead? Would I love it? Hate it? Face persecution? Would I try to keep it a secret?
I realized I’d been ignoring a rich story idea.
A story thread had presented itself. After years of swatting it away, instead I pulled the thread and found The Healer. It’s a road I never would have walked had it not been for my dreams.
Now many of the stories I write originate in my dreams. I sleep with a notebook and pen on my night table. There are stories I need to tell brewing within me, stories that I can’t or won’t find by staring at a blank computer screen. I see now that the stories require the act of sleeping in order for them to surge to the surface through my dreams.
I feed my subconscious with books, film, art, television, travel, food, and conversation, and it in turn delivers scenarios and situations that I shape into speculative fiction.
Now when I go to sleep, I’m eager to see where my subconscious will take me. As before, I’m still exhausted when I wake up. I still need several giant mugs of coffee in the morning to get me going. But instead of being upset with my subconscious for the fatigue, I’m grateful; I know I’m tired because I’ve been working all night long.
As for my healing hands recurring dream—well, I haven’t dreamt about healing anyone since I finished the first draft of The Healer. But I’m not sad; new recurring dreams have taken its place—and their literary offspring will be available via multiple book retailers in the not-so-distant future.

 About The Author

Sabrina Furminger writes from an antique secretary desk in Vancouver, Canada. Her speculative fiction has appeared in Ricepaper Magazine, OCW Magazine, and Luna Station Quarterly. In October 2012, her short story Matryoshka will appear in EDGE Publishing’s Danse Macabre anthology. Her story No Man’s Land recently placed third in the Brucedale Press’ Thirteenth Annual Acrostic Story Contest. Sabrina published her first novel a paranormal romance entitled The Healer in 2011. For more information, visit http://www.sabrinafurminger.com.

Website I Twitter

Click here to read my review of The Healer

 

The Healer is available to purchase

@Sabrina Furminger I @Chapters Indigo I @Amazon Ca I @Amazon US I @B&N

Review: The Healer by Sabrina Furminger

Title: The Healer

Author: Sabrina Furminger

Published: iUniverse. August 2011

Synopsis: More than anything in the world, Ivy Merchuk longs to be just another face in the crowd-easier said than done for a woman born with the ability to heal grievous injuries with the touch of her hands. To a young girl just struggling to fit in, this gift is an unbearable burden, one that fills her with shame and anxiety. Her mother understands and cautions the young girl to keep this strange and wonderful ability a secret, for fear that her daughter will attract the wrong sort of attention. So Ivy struggles to conceal her extraordinary skills from the world as she grows into adulthood.  Desperate for answers, she pours herself into a life of research and lands a job as a librarian. One fateful night after work, she stumbles onto a brutal crime scene. Horrified and conflicted, she makes the difficult decision to help the victim, who has been beaten almost to death. And this chance encounter with a brooding urban samurai named Victor Morgan sends her already precarious world skidding off its axis. What these two discover together will change both of their destinies

Status: Read from April 03 to 04, 2012 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

I was intrigued by the premise of The Healer when it was pitched to me, having the ability to heal injuries no matter how severe seems like an wonderful power but author Sabrina Furminger explores how such a gift can also be a curse.

We are introduced to the novels protagonist at the moment when the stillborn Ivy Merchuk, spontaneously takes first one breath and then another. At five, as Ivy cradles her beloved puppy who has been badly injured by a car, a light pours forth from her small body and when Ivy collapses, Suzy has been healed. As she grows, there are other incidences that Ivy is urged to keep secret by her loving mother, and afraid of revealing her ability Ivy isolates herself from her peers. When her mother dies, Ivy is cast adrift ending up working in a library, going home to a tiny apartment each evening. Until the night she stumbles across a man who has been brutally beaten and reaches out to heal his wounds, drawing her into a shadowy world of crime and corruption.
The author firmly establishes Ivy’s character by sharing her childhood experiences ensuring the reader will be sympathetic to the woman she becomes. Frightened of herself, and everyone else, Ivy has to learn to accept her power in order to wield it. It’s a challenge though, especially when she discovers that her ability can also cause great harm. Falling in love with Victor finally provides Ivy with a safe place to explore her talent and it is rewarding to witness Ivy’s growth. Ivy is faced with a complicated moral challenge when she is kidnapped by ruthless Yakuza gangsters and it’s interesting to see how she deals with the dilemma. Despite the grim situation, Ivy discovers unexpected strength, refusing to be a victim any longer.
Victor Morgan is not a hero exactly though neither is he a villain. He has been trapped under the thumb of the crime gang led by siblings Joji and Mariko for years, producing samurai swords for the organisation in order to pay his debts. I was never sure if I liked him or not though ultimately he proves his love for Ivy and chooses the right path.
The plot is fairly vague until Ivy is abducted, though it firmly establishes character and background. The novel tends to be more character than story driven but it has its moments of explosive action and there was more violence than I was expecting, but Furminger does build tension through to the conclusion. I’m not sure I would agree The Healer is a paranormal romance despite its strong romantic element and HEA, it’s a hybrid that straddles several genre labels.

While I think there are some minor structural flaws this is a good first effort from a debut author. The Healer is an entertaining read with interesting characters and original ideas.

Stop by later to learn more about Sabrina Furminger and The Healer at Book’d Out

The Healer

is available to purchase

@Sabrina Furminger I @Chapters Indigo I @Amazon Ca I @Amazon US I @B&N

Review: Foundation For The Lost by Scott Rhine

 

Title: Foundation For The Lost

Author: Scott Rhine

Published: July 2011

Synopsis: No good deed goes unpunished. A Kabbalah magician, Aaron Walker has devoted the last hundred years of his life to his Foundation, a charity that helps widows, orphans, and the stranger in the land. It doesn’t get much stranger than the Lost: male witches who don’t have parents to train them in the arts. Now, corporate wizards are trying to kill him, and he has no idea why.  With a handful of former students, he hops from one hidden enclave of cultural magic to another, hoping to survive long enough to contact the witches of New Salem. But the assassins don’t scare Aaron as much as the price the witch Rose demands for her aid–to father a child. To keep his magic and save the world, he must remain a virgin. Merodak, the demon, offers a way out but he’s a pathological liar with a twisted sense of humor.

Status: Read from February 25 to 27, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The premise of Foundation Of the Lost immediately interested me when I was approached to review the book but wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was a little intimidated by the length (424pgs) for a self published novel but decided to give it a chance and I am glad I did. Foundation for the Lost is an entertaining and inventive urban fantasy that has it all, magic, action, romance, political intrigue, religion, comedy and adventure. Aaron Walker has dedicated his life to saving The Lost, those who possess the ability to do magic and require a mentor to develop and control it. For over a hundred years he has operated unmolested but now someone is trying to kill him and he discovers he has become a pawn in a political game that he must win to survive.

The Foundation of the Lost has quite an ambitious and complex plot but Rhine exhibits skilful mastery over it. Essentially Aaron, with the help of some friends, old and new, must win a complicated real life game of chess crossed with paintball. That Aaron has no idea what he has been unwillingly drawn into leaves him able to do little other than defend himself, luckily that is something Aaron is good at. But by default his friends and allies also become game pieces and they need to find a way to take control and figure out their enemies end game. Despite its length, the story storms ahead from the first page, and barely pauses for breath. There is plenty of action, both magical and physical, and while I did think the pace could have been tightened a little more, it never really lagged.
I liked Aaron’s character, a moral man, both a wizard and quasi-Jewish, he is committed to doing the right thing in all instances. Wynn was probably my favourite character, a young man just coming into his power, he provides some light relief and his goofiness is endearing. Aaron and Wynn team up with various personalities on the quest, not the least Rose, though Aaron is not quite sure if she is friend or foe, or something more.

The Foundation for the Lost is a well written and creative fantasy. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of the genre, I think it would appeal slightly more to male readers but if you enjoy the Dresden series or your own place at a fantasy gaming table then The Foundation For The Lost is worth a read.

About the Author

Scott Rhine reads voraciously and enjoys spending time with his family, writing, and solving puzzles. As a computer programmer for the last two decades for major corporations and universities, he holds several patents. An Air Force brat and techno gypsy, he has lived in or visited almost every state in the US. He highly recommends that every college student joins American Youth Hostels and sees Europe on a youth bus pass. Scott Rhine writes fast paced Science Fiction and Fantasy with tinges of detective, humor, and romance thrown in.

Find Scott Rhine

Website I Facebook I Goodreads

The Foundation For The Lost is Available To Purchase

@Amazon {Kindle & print} I @Smashwords I @Createspace

Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

 

Title: The Radleys

Author: Matt Haig

Published: Text Publishing 2010

Synopsis: Meet the Radleys. Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret. Read the first few pages

Status: Read on February 08, 2012

My Thoughts:

The Radley’s home at 17 Orchard Lane is on a leafy street in a pretty English village with a mini van in the drive. Behind the heavy curtains on the windows Helen makes her family breakfast, Peter reads the newspaper and Rowan and Carly bicker. As the morning wears on Peter will leave to open his doctor’s surgery for the day, Rowan and Clara will head to school and Helen will tidy the kitchen before joining her friends for a game of tennis. Despite the veneer of normality, The Radley’s are just a little odd for they have a secret. The members of this ordinary family are vampires. Peter and Helen made the decision to abstain from drinking blood and integrate into society when Rowan was born. The children are ignorant of their true natures – their ailments like sleeplessness, rashes, weakness and pale skin carefully explained away as a rare disorder. Until one night when Clara is brutally attacked and the family’s true nature is revealed.

I believe it was Judith at Leeswammes Blog that first brought this book to my attention. The premise was tempting and Judith’s review promised something delightful and different. Having read a previous novel by Haig (The Dead Fathers Club) several years ago and remembering it as quirky I expected that The Radley’s would be something out of the ordinary and that prediction was proved true. With dry humour and gentle satire, Matt Haig taps into the popularity of the vampire genre and turns it into a literary domestic drama. Haig picks apart the ordinariness of family life and examines it in a new light. In amongst this story the vampires face the English middle class social issues like mid-life crisis, bullying, fidelity and conformity. The Radleys are the epitome of the family that is trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ but are destined to fail because they are nothing like their neighbours, no matter how much they wish they were.

The Radleys is a fun and deceptively insightful novel about families and society. Those weird people that you live next door to? They may have a secret too.

Available To Purchase

Australian Retail: @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

Internation: @Amazon I @BookDepository

Alternate Covers

 

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,485 other followers