Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Luminescent Book: A Review of Refracted

My book review of Refracted by Sheila Deeth:


Refracted by Sheila Deeth is a book where religion meets existential thought, wrapped in beauty. The novel is, technically, science fiction, but it is far more of a love story spun through history, theology and the human spirit.

The tale in Refracted is woven through a series of vignettes, always revolving around two people set against history and religion, which pull the thread of the story through to its conclusion, where we find one man in a pivotal life struggle.

There is a certain poignant tone lilting through the graceful prose and the reader is inexorably drawn into the mysterious and multifaceted story. Ms. Deeth pours genuine emotion into her characters and manages to convey remarkable continuity, despite the rapid changes in settings. This novel is a delicate and affecting piece of writing.

The book offers an apparent scientific explanation for the events that unfold, but the brilliant heart of the story is that details don’t matter; whatever is happening, the inspired essence would stay as heart-rending if it were a dream, past life remembrance, or as the author depicts.

The only flaw I found in the book was the occasional modern language usage in the historic passages; it was a bit distracting and sometimes jarred me out of the narrative. But such a defect can be easily overlooked considering the total quality of Refracted.

I can only give this book my highest recommendation.


Sheila Deeth at Gyspy Shadow Publishing:  http://www.gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html

Friday, 28 January 2011

A Trip Worth Taking: A Review of Gone to Gonega

My book review of Gone to Gonega by Brenda Lee Renwick:


Gone to Gonega by Brenda Lee Renwick is a sci-fi novel with a quirky sense of humour, a buoyant pace and a well-spun narrative. A customary alien abduction/experiment plotline is re-done with a nice fresh take and some interesting religious undertones.

The novel is Lorna’s story, an average woman with a failed marriage and bipolar disorder, who finds out she is part of an alien hybrid experiment and the aliens are back to collect her. She is not entirely thrilled with that plan, but eventually goes with them and finds out that life with aliens might not be so bad after all.

"She gasped and put a perfectly manicured hand to her glossy mouth. Without another word she turned and flounced away, her high-heeled sandals clacking her outrage across the brick walkway. I saw her fling her parcels in a creamy tan Lexus and tear out of the parking lot, no doubt on her way to pour out her adjusted version of the story to her new lover, my Greg."
This is a sci-fi book about themes and characters, with emphasis on emotion, opinion and personality as opposed to high action, although there is some dramatic tension near the end of the book. It is the likeability and real nature of the main character that makes the story work and charmingly draws in the reader. The novel has wit, an interesting plot direction and accomplished character interaction that includes a little romance and sexual heat. The subplots and background are intriguing and I found the matter-of-fact spiritual plot support (a sort of “God exists, deal with it” attitude) especially fascinating.

"I stared out the space portal at the absolute blackness of the first wormhole and shuddered. I understood that it made the trip possible within a single lifetime, but its resemblance to a black hole was chilling—especially after Professor Tamalrankai’s lecture on the subject of hell. Janalla had assured me that we would be coming out of the first wormhole soon, but that the next one was longer and would bring us nearly home. She explained to me that if we didn’t use the wormholes, even the Lazarrolians wouldn’t be able to get us there before the fourth generation from now. The nice thing about it is that we were just past the halfway point of the trip. We now had less ahead than behind."
There were one or two things I found less than stellar, such as the ease at which Lorna went with the aliens, after their full disclosure. The situation wasn’t implausible, but it seemed a bit rushed to me. And while the ending was sufficient and wrapped up the plot lines, I was hoping for more planetary scenes; I guess I have to wish for a sequel. There were also a few minor grammar errors or typos in the copy I read, but nothing too glaring.

Gone to Gonega is an enjoyable book and well worth the time to read.

On Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7902470-gone-to-gonega

Monday, 17 January 2011

Take An Emotional Journey: A Review of Restored Hope

My review of the book, Restored Hope by Brenda Youngerman:


Restored Hope by Brenda Youngerman is engrossing, charming and a strong novel about family, heartbreak and emotional repercussions. It is unabashedly sentimental, dramatic and it tugs at your heartstrings, skilfully entwining the reader into the prose.

The book is Samantha’s story, a girl who seems to have the perfect family. It becomes obvious after a terrible tragedy she does not. She suffers loss, and from a lack of trust all her life, until she meets Tim and becomes a part of his family.

The characters are the best part of this novel, with all the empathy and plot flowing through their genuine portrayal. The individual renderings are gently and beautifully crafted to form the nucleus of the novel. I thought the author did a wonderful job with the central character of Samantha, and conveyed just enough sadness with her strength to engage the reader and bridge the connection.

Sometimes the pace of the novel was a bit uneven, occasionally drifting faintly in its course, with parts of the book crammed with information lending the narrative a slight passive feel at times. However, none of that slowed the flow of the book terribly or detracted overly from the story.

I enjoyed Restored Hope, and found it a satisfying read that easily kept my interest from beginning to end.  It is very much recommended.

You can also check out this book's spotlight for more information:  http://afstewartpromotion.blogspot.com/2010/10/book-spotlight-restored-hope.html


Monday, 10 January 2011

Q and A with fantasy author Jen Wylie

Today, please welcome talented fantasy author Jen Wylie as she stops by the blog to answers some questions and chat about her writing:


1- Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I'm a stay at home mom of two darling boys. When I'm not reading or writing (or editing) I putter about with various crafts. Otherwise I try to to be Supermom and keep my chaotic house in some semblance of order. I suppose I should also note I live in Ontario, Canada. Yes we get a lot of snow. I dislike snow. :P

2- How long have you been writing?

I started writing in public school, but really got into it in high school. It was just something I wanted to do, needed to do. I have so many stories in my head and they need to come out. I did go to university and got a degree, however things happen, as they tend to do, and I ended up being a Mom rather than finding a career. I wouldn't change that for the world. I didn't write for a number of years when the kids were little but once they were a bit older, and my brain started functioning again, the need to write came back. Writing is something I can do from home, so I certainly lucked out there. :)

3- Can you to tell us about your current writing projects?

I recently finished a young adult fantasy book which has been submitted to my publishers. I'm currently working on a sequel to it. I'm also puttering at a few other books and short stories. I sometimes almost wish my mind would stop coming up with ideas for a while so I could get caught up. :) My second short story to be published in March is currently in edits, so that has been keeping me busy as well.

4- Why did you decide to write in the fantasy/paranormal genre?

I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction. My mother is an avid reader and before I even hit the teens she had me reading her Pern books. I love magic and other worlds and the unknown. Of course we can't forget to throw a little romance in too. :)

5- What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

The hardest part is stopping. There are so many things which can happen it is easy for a book to go on forever. I often have trouble finding an ending, even when I am planning a sequel. Many of my books have turned into a series, at least in the planning stages.

6- What kind of research have you done for your stories?

If I need to research I do so with the most wonderful Google. I rarely research in advance, but do it as I go. Since my books are all in worlds of my creation there often isn't very much I actually do have to research.

7- What advice would you give beginning writers?

Always keep writing. You can always improve, and practice helps this. Not only do you need to know how to write, but to edit. Research editing online, make sure you are using correct grammar and punctuation, be wary of being repetitive in your word use. If you can find readers or editors to go over your work then use them. Fresh eyes are always helpful.
If you are searching for a publisher I definitely recommend you create a web presence. Most either require this or it is an added bonus. Have a website, twitter, facebook, blog. Even if you aren't published yet you can gain followers over time. It is also an excellent way to meet authors, agents and publishers.

8- Who has inspired you as an author?

I don't really have any inspirations. I've just always loved reading and writing and it just comes to me. I have too many favorite authors to count, and too many supportive loved ones and friends to mention. :) I'm a lucky girl I guess.

9- What’s next for you?

Editing, editing, writing, editing... My next short story, The Forgotten Echo will be released March 1, and my fantasy novel Sweet Light in May, both through Echelon Press. I've a number of shorts and another book also submitted, and am writing away whenever I have the time on new work. I'm currently looking into getting a clone so I have time to mop the floors.


Here's the blurb for Jen's debut short story (available as a short e-book), Jump:


Jump by Jen Wylie

If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you?
Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk and a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.

Jump is available at OmniLit :   http://www.omnilit.com/product-jump-493574-234.html
Barnes & Noble:  http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?ean=9781590807354
and Amazon:

















Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.
Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales. 
Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.
Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

Her website: http://www.jenniferwylie.ca/
Her blog: http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Love, Spain and Poetry

My Review of A Salute to Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain and Latin America:


I have to say, I know nothing of translating the Spanish language or the art of Spanish poetry, so I cannot comment on any technical aspects of the book, A Salute to Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain and Latin America. However, I do think the creator of the book, John Howard Reid, did an excellent job; the Latin flavour comes through the translation and you can almost feel the Spanish sun as you read the words.

I loved reading the book; the poems within the pages are truly beautiful. A Salute to Spanish Poetry contains the works of the various poets of Spain and the other countries such as Mexico, Chile and Peru. I was not familiar with any of these poets before reading the book -being more inclined to read poets of Britain and Ireland- but I certainly gained an admiration for their talent set on the pages.

The majority of the poems are about the various states of love: in love, out of love, unrequited love, finding love. They are wonderful and haunting, as are the verses on other subjects of country, death and life. Romantic idealism abounds in the words, whether the poems reflect passion, Spain or existence.

Like all books of poetry, there were some verses I liked better than others, but the book as a whole is very evocative and almost ethereal. There is also a nice biographical index included with a short history of each of the poets. A Salute to Spanish Poetry is an excellent book of poetry and I recommend it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Paranormal Fun: A Review of Jump

My  review of the short ebook Jump by Jen Wylie:


Jump by Jen Wylie is a witty, even slightly satirical, paranormal short story, with a charming spunky heroine. It starts with our heroine in peril after being kidnapped and having her life threatened. And things go from bad to strange when nefarious supernatural forces and other more beneficial (and fetching) assistance enters the picture.

Jump was a delight to read; my only complaint is that it ended too soon. It has a clear concise voice and a charming sense of humour, with decent tension and suspense, plus a slender hint of romance at the conclusion. It is a lovely taste of what this author has to offer readers.

Moreover you just have to like a story that clearly demonstrates the fallacy of wearing high heels to escape pursuing villains.

The author's website:  http://www.jenniferwylie.ca/

Jump is available at:    http://www.omnilit.com/product-jump-493574-234.html

and at Amazon:

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