Monday, February 25, 2013

Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks

This week I interview award winning author Zoe Brooks, and review her latest book, Love of Shadows.

Blurb

Love of Shadows is the second book in The Healer's Shadow trilogy. In it the story of Judith and her Shadow Sarah picks up from where it stopped at the end of Girl in the Glass.  

"I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos."
But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?

EXCERPT



“Peter,” I say. “I don’t think I’ve changed that dressing for a while.”

The rumble is growing to thunder and there are voices.

I pick up a clean dressing and a pot of ointment from the shelves and walk across the room.

As I bend over the bed, I try not to think of the light of flames moving along the house walls of the square. I try not to see the look of hatred on the faces of the torchbearers. I try not to listen. I try to focus only on Peter and my hand as it peels back the dressing. I try not to listen to the clamour.

Under my breath I say a prayer: “Angels who are blessed, take this darkness from me.”

And the darkness does clear, for a while. The wound is healing, so I apply some ointment to keep it clean and pick up the new dressing.

They are overhead now. There is no escaping the words, the room almost shakes with them: “Burn the witch! Death to the witch!”

My legs fail me and I slip to my knees. I am in the darkest of my nightmares, darkness shot through with flames. “Sarah, they are coming.”



INTERVIEW


What are your roots?

In terms of my family I am British on both sides, but with a bit of gypsy. I was born and raised in the beautiful Cotswold hills.

In terms of my literary roots I think I would say fairy tales and folk tales, which probably account for my liking for fantasy and for magic realism.

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?

Well Mother of Wolves is about a fantasy gypsy woman and queen. In Love of Shadows the heroine and narrator Judith is without family, all she has is a Shadow, Sarah. Sarah is sort of a sister, but she is not human. As a Shadow she was born without emotions or emotional intelligence, but has to learn to interpret these strange emotional humans. She is partly based on a relative of mine.


How do you describe yourself as a writer?

I am a British writer, who spends approximately half my life in a semi-restored farmhouse in the Czech Republic, which is where I write my books. I have three novels out – Mother of Wolves (a fantasy adventure), Girl in the Glass (magic realism fantasy) and Love of Shadows, my new book and sequel to Girl in the Glass. All my books have strong if very different heroines who survive and overcome adversity. I like to write popular books that get under the skin of the reader. A number of reviewers have said that the books and the central characters have stayed with them after they finished reading, which is just what I want.

What do you think is the special power of the genres you write in

Women’s fiction can help women understand the world (and men too if they read it). I have two newly adult nieces and I do write with them in mind.

In Magic Realism the setting is realistic but with an element that is magical or fantastical. That combination is unsettling and that is a good thing. It allows me to explore themes more freely. For example my books are set in an unspecified place and time, which I take great care to make very realistic. Some readers really want to know where and when the book is set, but I don’t want to say, for example, “It’s in India a hundred years ago,” (it isn’t), because then the reader thinks that the story is something that happens somewhere else and Judith’s story is universal, a modern fairytale for adults.

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel

Judith. She is a loveable, complex and at times frustrating young woman. I fell in love with her when I wrote Girl in the Glass and wanted to take her further in her journey. Judith’s mother had been a healer, and Judith feels the calling to become a healer, but what will she risk to help people? And will she carry on as it becomes more and more dangerous. In order to bring realism to the book I did a lot of research I was fascinated to read about the persecution of women healers in the 14th to 17th centuries, many thousands were burned or hung as witches.

The book is also a love story. In the first book Judith, like so many girls who have been told that they are worthless, has had some disastrous relationships with abusive men. These relationships have left Judith afraid of getting emotionally involved. In Love of Shadows I wanted to explore  what sort of man could get past her barriers and persuade her that she is worth loving.

What was hard for you in writing this novel?

Judith is a perfume-maker and has both a very keen sense of smell and synaesthesia – she is able to see smells. As she is the narrator of the book I needed to describe the world as she experiences it, which meant a lot of descriptions of scents. So in order to write the book I had to revisit how I experienced the world, no longer relying on my dominant senses of sight and hearing. It was fascinating – I realised how much more I could sense. And then I had to find a way of describing it, it’s shocking how few adjectives we have in the English language to describe smells.

Are there themes that recur in your work?

All my books have strong heroines. A recent review said of Girl in the Glass, the first book in the Healer’s Shadow trilogy, that it was about “what it takes for a woman to find her place in the world and in herself”. The heroines are very different but I think that is true of all my books so far.

What are you working on now?

I am writing the sequel to Love of Shadows, the final book in the Healer’s Shadow trilogy. In it more is revealed about these strange creatures called Shadows and we see Judith mature further.

What would you like to write in the future?

I am also playing with an idea for a paranormal mystery set in a modern day city not dissimilar to Prague. This is a bit of a departure from the settings of my current book, but still magic realism.

If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be?

I think they have to search for themselves first. If you do that then your relationship will follow. Women are very good at losing themselves for the sake of the relationship and that is the wrong thing to do. It may work in the short-term but not in the long. 

MY REVIEW


When I signed up to review this book it was the cover that drew me in.  It reminded me of time I have spent in the Middle East and time my husband has spent in parts of Western Africa. However, reading the blurb and other reviews I really had no idea what kind of book this was or what  to expect.  I think it was really good not to have preconceived expectations because they would have been shattered.  This book is unlike any book I have ever read (and I've read over a thousand fiction novels in my life).  

The author classifies the genre as "magic realism." I would guess that many people, like myself, don't know what that means.  So, let me clear that up first, because I think it is important that people DO set their expectations correctly in order to approach this work in a mindset that doesn't expect magic, fantasy, witches and warlocks or other things we associate with magic. Magic Realism doesn't mean the book is filled with magic, as in Harry Potter or the average Witch tale.  It doesn't mean the book is filled with action and adventure as one associates with Urban Fantasy or many of the TV fare that includes magic backstories with fighting good and evil, witches and politics.  I also would not put it in the genre of "paranormal." In fact, the word "magic" in my opinion obscures the definition.

I never studied literature, so I know Magical Realism was not a term ingrained in me. I knew that One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was called "magic realism" but I still didn't really know what that meant or why.  Here is a definition I found from Franz Roh (1925) that I believe captures this book and explains the genre in the best way.  I have bolded words in the definition for emphasis from me.

Magical Realism--We recognize the world, although now--not only because we have emerged from a dream--we look on it with new eyes. We are offered a new style that is thoroughly of this world, that celebrates the mundane. This new world of objects is still alien to the current idea of Realism. It employs various techniques that endow all things with a deeper meaning and reveal mysteries that always threaten the secure tranquility of simple and ingenuous things. This [art offers a] calm admiration of the magic of being, of the discovery that things already have their own faces, [this] means that the ground in which the most diverse ideas in the world can take root has been reconquered--albeit in new ways.

More recent popular novels (and movies) that are shelved as Magical Realism are  Like Water for Chocolate, and the recent Academy Award winning Life of Pi.

Those bolded sections in the definition above were beautifully executed in Love of Shadows.  The entire concept of "the Shadow" serves both as metaphor for us as readers, and as reality for the world of the characters.  The deeper meaning of the relationship of "shadows" to this world and to our own is revealed and it does make you think and re-examine your own relationships, prejudices, and philosophies in more depth. At least it did me.

The book drew me in immediately with the  suicide of Judith’s mistress/mentor, Elma.  We learn from the beginning that everything known about Elma's "real" life must be covered up for fear that discovery of her true calling, as a Healer, would put all those in contact with her in danger. Healers are killed--either by mobs who fear them or jailed and put to death by the law.

The book reveals the daily life of a woman who reluctantly learns to accept her own gifts as a gifted healer, and struggles with whether she can accept the call to use those gifts and to risk her life and those around her.  Sarah, her "shadow" appears first as a best friend, like a sister, but who is the opposite. Where Judith is emotional, Sarah is seemingly without emotion. Where Judith is simultaneously driven forward by her demons or her bravery, Sarah moves forward based on logic and planning.  Neither are perfect and, most importantly, neither are whole without the other.

To those used to action, adventure, love and sex serving as the outward tension to move the plot forward, you will need to take a breath to enjoy this book. The plot moves forward based on how the decisions in one's inner life in fact drives one's outer life.  The learned behavior of having learned to fend for oneself--to never count on anyone else for help--is juxtaposed against the absolute need to be affirmed, to be love, and to desire give up control to someone else.  That is played out exceptionally well through emotions of jealousy, distrust, envy, and eventually a very real loss of control. 

The build of those emotions, seamlessly interwoven with the tension of daily life, is based on an underlying treatise that constantly questions the differences and similarities between traditional medicine and modern medicine. It also explores the differences and allocations for care between the classes and between what are termed "humans" and "shadows."  

It is in the heat of the plague that Judith, an underground traditional healer is actually sought out by a modern above-ground medical doctor.  That relationship and all that it means drives the external tension and builds the internal tensions to the climax and beyond.

There are some manuscript formatting/conventions that did bother me.  In particular, was the use of quotes.  In addition to present dialog, the author also used quotes for internal dialog and for dialog in the mind or with someone who was dead. For me, that became very confusing. Perhaps that is a U.K. convention not used in the U.S.  In the U.S. all internal dialog is not quoted, but simply stated. Most presses in the U.S. also designate dialog in the mind (whether with an imaginary person or an actual person, as in mind-reading or talking with a dead person) is usually done in italics to differentiate it from the present "real" world.

In the end, I really enjoyed the book and I heartily applaud the author for taking on magic realism and so successfully executing it.  I had not read the first book, and did not find that to be a detriment to my enjoyment. I definitely believed in the entire world without question. I accepted it as reality and appreciated its nuances. The descriptions were beautiful and there were many paragraphs, phrases, and passages that showed the heart of a poet.  For readers who want something unique that speaks to the heart of relationships, prejudice, and the difficult decisions one must make to lead in the face of unspeakable tragedy, then this is a book you will not want to pass up.  Also, if you want a great example of magic realism literature that is well-executed I would highly recommend this novel.




Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. She aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin.

Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). Girl In The Glass - the first novel in a trilogy about the woman and healer Anya was published on Amazon in March 2012, followed by Mother of Wolves and Love of Shadows. In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool's Paradise as an ebook on Amazon.

Visit Zoe on the Web:  Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon Author Page


* * * GIVEAWAY * * *


Zoe will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Remember, the more tour stops you visit and comment, the better your chances of winning the drawing.




Tour Stops

January 14:  Carly Fall - Where Fantasy Meets Romance
January 21:  Rogue's Angels
January 21:  STOP 2  It's Raining Books
January 28:  Book 'Em North Carolina
February 4:  Writers and Authors
February 11:  Storm Goddess Book Reviews and More
February 18:  White Sky Project
February 25:  Maggie's Meanderings (You Are Here!)
February 25:  REVIEW ONLY Journey of a Bookseller
March 4:  The Muse Unleashed
March 11:  Night Owl Reviews

Friday, February 22, 2013

Untangling the Knot Deanne Wilsted

I am very fortunate to be hosting debut author, Deanne Wilsted, and her inspirational book, Untangling the Knot published through Soul Mate Publishing. Though her book is listed in Contemporary and Inspirational Romance categories. I would also comfortably place it in Women's Fiction.  I believe all three types of readers would find this book meets their needs.

BLURB:   

“I did what?”

Twenty-eight year old Gabriella Bessu is St. Therese’s meticulous wedding ceremony coordinator. So the fact that she has mistakenly signed her newest couple up for an annulment, rather than a wedding, sends her Catholic guilt into overdrive.

But who can blame her? The groom is gorgeous and his two kids tug at Gabriella’s heart in a way that overcomes all her best intentions. Before long she’s in over her head, fixing her mixed-up plans and helping the children and dad come to terms with their haunting grief for the mother and wife they lost years earlier.

Can Gabriella untangle her own fears and accept the messy life that God has handed them?
  

EXCERPT:

Mandy’s accusations rang through Gabriella’s mind and guilt practically doubled her over. She dropped her bags inside the door and went into the bathroom to splash cold water on her face. The image that met her in the mirror had shame written all over it.

What had she been thinking? Ryan and the kids belonged to Mandy and she had been acting like a lovesick teenager. Scenes from the beach flashed through her mind; Ryan’s smiles at her and the desire she’d had to reach out and kiss him. Filled with self-loathing, she shook her head to get rid of the images.

Her dropped bags at the front door mocked her, so she picked them up and dragged them to her bedroom then crumpled onto the bed. One hand over her eyes, she let the images flood her. With her free hand she reached over and switched on her radio hoping to block out the accusing voices in her head. Her favorite news show was quizzing celebrities on the week’s news, but something about their conversation alarmed her. It took a moment to realize what it was.

She stared at the radio, stunned. If Whose News was on, it meant it was Sunday . . . Sunday!

And, for the first time in years, Gabriella had forgotten to go to Mass.

MY REVIEW:

I absolutley love a good contemporary inspirational, particularly if it has something different.  This book met my expectations and then some.  

The slow build of Gabriella's and Ryan's relationship is juxtaposed against the undertow of grief and loss in both of their families.  For Ryan and his two children it is his wife, who died two years ago.  For Gabriella it is her mother's death, followed by her difficult relationship with father and his death. And Mandy, the difficult bride-to-be, serves as the perfect catalyst to bring everyone to an understanding of what is really going on in their lives.

Untangling the Knot works on all levels. The children are realistically drawn and tug at the heartstrings throughout the book, while at the same time demonstrating they can be just as bratty as the next kid.  Gabriella's faith and belief is like many church-going parishioners. It is natural and based on a child-like acceptance, rather than an adult's full understanding of the commitment and the ability to accept both the pain and the love it can bring.  Ryan, the groom-to-be, serves as the opposite of Gabriella. Someone who has closed himself off form love, faith, and emotion as a whole. He moves the world saying and doing all the right things, but refusing to feel.

Each of these five characters are expertly interwoven, simultaneously living a tangled outward life while carrying burdens of an inner life.  It is the way in which they come together, fall apart, and reunite that makes the amazing work of a healing presence real.  The secondary characters of Ryan's mother and the Priest also play important supporting roles.

Both Christians and those who simply believe in finding and knowing love, in all its guises, will appreciate this book and be pulling for each person to find healing and love. I absolutely highly recommend this book.





AUTHOR INFORMATION:

With an English teacher for a mom, Deanne Wilsted  grew up reciting conjugations instead of nursery rhymes. Now, forty years later, she's sharing that special skill through her writing and her mothering. Her first book, a contemporary romance called Betting Jessica, was released October 2011. Her second Novel, Untangling the Knot was released on Valentine's Day from Soul Mate Publishing. She is currently marketing her third book for publication and writing her fourth, fifth and sixth while blogging about the crazy stuff she overhears while writing.

Find Deanne on the Web:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |


* * * GIVEAWAY * * *


Deanne will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card (winner's choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So be sure to comment here! 
TOUR INFORMATION

As with most blog tours, it is best to follow as many stops as possible. In that way you learn more about the book and the author. Also, you have more opportunities to win the giveaway prize.  Below is a list of all the tour stops for Deanne.  If you joined the tour late, you can always go back and catch up on previous stops. Enjoy!



1. Uplifting Reads
2. Stephanie's Book Shelf
3. LizaOConnor
4. Love, Laughter, Friendship
5. Bunny's Reviews
6. Love, Laughter, Friendship
7. Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
8. My Devotional Thoughts
9. Megan Johns Invites
10. Sandra's Blog
11. Chef John Malik: A Writer Trapped in a Cook's Body
12. Book Reviews by Dee
13. You Gotta Read Reviews
14. Let Romance Light Your Way
15. YA Books of Witchcraft and Wizardry
16. Nickie's Views and Interviews
17. Loose the Hounds
18. Novel Moments
19. The Write to Read
20. Fiction Writing and Other Oddities
21. Maggie's Meanderings (YOU ARE HERE !!)
22. Pink Fluffy Hearts: Diary of a Coffee Addict
23. Author Jinni James
24. Fantasy Pages
25. A Writer's Life
26. Imagination in Books
27. Enjoying the Unique Flavors of Life
28. Read Your Writes Book Reviews
29. Travel the Ages
30. Lindsay's Scribblings


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Plan with Charlene Ammons

Today I'm interviewing debut mystery/suspense author, Charlene Ammons, and sharing her first published book in her Honesuckle Chronicle Trilogy, The Plan.  Charlene based the book on researches of cases in the 1930's and 1940's.

Blurb

Everyone claims to have a plan. Only one is The Plan. 

Omega, Alabama in 1941 was a place that only storytellers could dream of visiting. Times were hard and faith was wandering--that is until Mode Lee entered the picture. The handsome preacher brought what appeared to be miracle after miracle to the tight knit community.  However, evil things lurked in the wake of the arrival of this "Man of God".

It would take a frightened, mentally unstable child; the mother of the county sheriff; and a wild-natured redhead to bring the truth to light. 



Interview

What are your roots?
I'm a 6th generation Florida native.  My Daddy's family originally came over from Scotland and fought in the American Revolution.  They moved from North Carolina to Georgia and then to Jackson County,FL.  My Mama's family is a little more difficult to trace but I know they were poor farmers from Georgia and Alabama.  I grew up as the only child but my parents had children from previous marriages so I had half brothers and sisters much older than me. The whole family make-up played a huge impact on my life (especially a a writer).


Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?
Absolutely!  What writer hasn't had their family impact the writing they produce?  It is what molds the writer from an early age.  For me, my interaction (or lack thereof) with some of my family members influenced my feelings of being the back sheep...the outsider.  My parents had a very positive impact on me and they told me many stories of their childhood that flared my creative juices.


How do you describe yourself as a writer?
I'm moody and I like to preach.  I want the reader to feel the emotions in my heart and see the thoughts in my head.  I want people to think.  It's never just a story for fun.  There's always something behind it that we all can learn from.


Why did you pick this particular genre for your writing?
I chose to write in the Southern Gothic style because it's the two things that interest me...stories of the South (because we Southerners are so quirky) and the paranormal (because it is all focused on the unknown).  My books also have touches of romance, humor, and mystery because life is a little mix of all of these.


Why was it important for you to write this particular novel?
This first novel was important for me to write because I had so many thoughts running through my head...so much confusion, anger, and frustration.  I had to get it out of my head.  It was therapy for me and I hoped it may be therapeutic for others to read too. The validation I received when people read it let me know that I had done the right thing by writing this story.


What was hard for you in writing this novel?
The hardest thing for me about writing this first book was just knowing where to get started.  I had all of these ideas in my head, movies really, but they weren't in any particular order.  Trying organize them was the hardest thing!


Are there themes that recur in your work?
I think there are several reoccurring themes in all of my books.  "Looks are deceiving", "Always root for the underdog", "There's nothing wrong with being different", "Strong, independent women", "Strong women are fragile too". 

What are you working on now?
I'm working on my third book in the series, The Bloodline.  It will really will focus on the history of the families from my prior books.  I'm very excited about it.


What would you like to write in the future?
I could write forever on the Honeysuckle Chronicles but I have several other story lines in my head.  Other characters laying in wait, ready to show their faces to the world.  Other places in time to travel to.

What three books did you read in 2012 that you loved and would recommend to others as excellent?  
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Green; Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by EL James and The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susanne Collins.


Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of this blog?
Today is the one year anniversary of my father's death.  I find it appropriate that my last stop on this tour ends on this day...symbolic if you really think about it.  I just hope I've made my Daddy proud so far and that's all a Southern girl like me can ask for.

MY REVIEW

Ms. Ammons has a definite feel for the south, for its history, and for its characters.  Those all ring true throughout this story. Her descriptions of the south of 1942 with all its beauty, and its underlying horror, truly bring you into the era. She pulls no punches in condemning prejudice, the role of the power and corruption in government, and in particular the role of all powerful men who hold themselves up to knowing what is best for their women, their community,  and perhaps even their God.

I have to say I had a difficult time with this book, especially the first 40 to 50 pages.  The style she has chosen to use for her story is a combination of omniscient point-of-view with dips into the closer points-of-view of several characters, but particularly two protagonists and the antagonist.  It is also written more as a set of vignettes of the town and its people with the overarching mystery of a serial killer that is wreaking havoc in this backwater of the south. This writing style is not one that is common in genre fiction, but may be experienced in literary fiction. It took me awhile to understand the narrative structure and be able to move on.

However, the story did catch me by the midpoint of the book and I was invested enough to hope that the violent serial murderer would be caught and the town would have some relief from his horror.  There were some characters I needed to see survive and be saved, and Ms. Ammons did reward me with that. In some ways, it is like reading an angry treatise from a confused and vengeful child--a child trying to deal with the devastation wrought on her life and on this one town.  It is simultaneously scary and realistic enough for you to remember it long after you close the book.



Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble

* * * CONTEST * * *


Charlene is giving away a paperpack copy of her book to one lucky winner.  Use the Rafflecopter system below to enter, and don't forget to comment here on the blog about the interview, the amazing book trailer, or ask Charlene questions about the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author



W. Charlene Ammons was born and raised in northwest Florida. As the daughter of the local chief of police, she was exposed to the law enforcement community early in her life. She later received her degree from Florida State University and entered the field of law enforcement, where she has served as a field training officer and an investigator.

In her sprare time, she enjoys gardening, playing guitar, and collecting all things related to The Beatles. She currently resides in the Florida panhandle with her husband Brian.


Mrs. Ammons has penned two books: The Plan (Book 1 in the Honeysuckle Chronicles) and The Lesson (Book 2), which was released in February 2012. The third book, The Bloodline, will be released this spring.

Visit Charlene on the Web:  Website | Facebook | GoodReads







Even though I'm the last stop on Charlene's tour, you can certainly go back and read some of her interesting guest posts and interviews at the previous stops.  If you hurry, you may even have a chance to enter a couple more times in her giveaway at each stop.




Feb 5th- Promo -Lavender & Camomile Press
Feb 6th- Guest Post -Lurking Musings
Feb 7th- Review -Stephanie's Book Shelf
Feb 8th- Promo -Up-To-Date Reviewing
Feb 9th - MEET & GREET  -Facebook- W. Charlene Ammons
Feb 10th- Promo  -Confessions of a Book Addict
Feb 11th - Interview -Ethereal Book Reviews
Feb 12th- Promo -The Fear of Opinions
Feb 13th- Guest Post & Promo -A Tasty Read
Feb 14th- Promo -Elizabeth Los
Feb 15th- Review -Im Simply Debbie
Feb 16th- Review -Pure Jonel
Feb 17th-Guest Post -Sab the Book Eater
Feb 18th- Interview -Maggie's Meanderings YOU ARE HERE!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wind's Aria by Tessa Stockton

Today I am reviewing an inspirational novella, Wind's Aria, by Tessa Stockton and published by Soul Mate Publishing.

First, I must admit, the cover put me off  because it seemed very contrived, particularly the pose of the angel. The pose suggested narcissistic angel and weak-willed woman. If I didn't already have a trust for Soul Mate I would have passed up the chance to read this book. However, the blurb intrigued me and I decided to take a chance. And I'm very glad I did! Don't let the cover put you off. It does not do justice to the nature of the story at all as far as I'm concerned.

BLURB


Elected as the Songstress, Aria takes her place on the sacred platform to sing before every dawn. As long as she does so, peace and abundant life belong to her people. 

One morning, amidst a strange wind that brings with it a curse in its eerie howl, Aria loses her ability to make music. But the encroaching death that transpires isn’t her biggest tragedy. It’s that she adores the cause of her blunder, for he’s a magnificent winged creature who’s stolen more than her voice. 

EXCERPT


Fog continued to dance around them covering most of his body, to her dismay. Just curious, she convinced herself. She closed her eyes and squeezed the bridge of her nose to concentrate . . . something that seemed hard to do at that moment.

“Feeling better?” The smooth notes of his words swam through her ears.

“Mmm.” She nodded. “I guess.”

He continued to stare.

Aria cleared her throat. “Um . . . can I ask you a question?”

“You may ask . . .”

“But will you answer?”

“That depends.”

“Oh. Well. How did you get to be so huge when all the Meleyans are rather small? And why haven’t I seen you before?”

“That’s two questions.”

“S-sorry.”

He exhaled a steady stream of air, adding to the mist, as if deliberating.

Aria felt the strength of his breath, blowing strands of her hair across her face.

Slow, yet with precision, he lifted a lock from the curve of her mouth and rubbed the strands between his fingers. He murmured, “Soft and orange, like the petals of prairie-tails.” Then he bent and smelled her hair, closing his eyes. “And sweet like the honey of bees.” Again he held her gaze. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. “Do you have a sting?”

“I asked you a question first—”

“Two,” he corrected. Then he smiled.

MY REVIEW

How does one have faith and the discipline to rise each morning in the dark, climb a cliff and sing? How does one believe it will bring peace and harmony to her people? How lonely is it to carry this out every day, to know you can never have a partner, never marry, never have love? If it were you, would you question its efficacy and your role?

Into this world the heroine, Aria, one day loses focus and breaks her song. That is the beginning of the end of the world as she knew it. Coupled with her godfather’s secret dreams that scare him, and a meeting with a strange boy who is the antithesis of everything she believes, Aria is left to wander alone in her faith and her understanding of her world.

This is a story of faith and love that transcends the daily work of a songstress or of the servant of the evil one. It asks questions of faith which go beyond their every day experiences. It also  asks what can/will one do when faced with tragedy, corruption, and the possibility that everything you knew was wrong? As I read the story, I found myself asking:

Why would a village depend on one young girl to bring them peace and prosperity?
When only one person must remain faithful for an entire people, what is the motivation for the rest to be good in their every day encounters?
How difficult it must be to grow up with the expectation that it is only your song which keeps everyone alive and healthy?
What happens when you fail, as all imperfect beings do fail from time to time? Is there ever forgiveness for such a failure, and is that forgiveness limited only to those who have consistently struggled to be good?


These questions of faith and struggle in the story are the same ones most of us face. It is not unusual to ask why a weak, imperfect being would be asked to carry out such a difficult task.  Told like a long parable, the juxtaposition and similarities of good and evil, weak and strong, and faith and forgiveness are all a part of this sweet story writ on a larger fantasy canvas.

My only trouble with it is that the ending and resolution came too quickly and easily. I believe it could have been 10-20 pages longer in order to make the ending unfold in as beautiful a way as the rest of the book was written.


* * * GIVEAWAY $50 Gift Card * * *


Tessa will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour and her book blast tour.  So be sure to leave a comment and your email at each stop for the best chance of winning. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, Tessa Stockton also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and she headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today she writes romance and intrigue novels in a variety of genres. In addition to her fantasy romance, WIND’S ARIA, she’s the author of suspense/thriller, THE UNSPEAKABLE, political intrigue/romance, THE UNFORGIVABLE, and a literary short story, LOVE AND LULL, with more in the works.

Contact Tessa on the Web:




Follow the rest of the Review Tour !!!



 February 11:  Maggie's Meanderings (You Are Here!)
February 12:  Sue Perkins Author
February 14:  Long and Short Reviews
February 15: Let's Get BOOKED!
February 18:  Journey of a Bookseller
February 19:  It's Raining Books
February 20:  Love Triumphs Past and Present
February 21:  The Write to Read
February 21:  STOP 2  The Eclectic Review
February 22:  Margay Leah Justice