June 7th, 2012

raven

Book 67: The Moonstone by Nikki Broadwell.

Book 67: The Moonstone (Wolfmoon Trilogy #1) .
Author: Nikki Broadwell, 2012.
Genre: Fantasy. Celtic Mythology
Other Details: Paperback. 231 pages.

In a remote area of Scotland, 1985, 20-year old Finna has left her abusive husband and over-bearing father to live on in her own. She is shocked when she finds on her doorstep a woman claiming to be her mother. Finna had been told that her mother had died 18 years ago. Catriona has brought Finna the gift of a luminous moonstone and insists the newly pregnant Finna accompany her to the castle of the moon goddess, Arianrhod, to receive a blessing for her unborn child. Finna is quite naturally sceptical of Catriona's claims of goddesses and a parallel reality, known as the ‘Otherworld’. However, Catriona is very persuasive, convincing Finna despite her misgivings. As the trip progresses Catriona reveals more to Finna about their family and the destiny of the baby Finna carries. The journey brings them into danger as they encounter those who would wish to prevent them reaching their destination.

I received this as a review copy from the author, who had contacted me due to our mutual interest in Celtic mythology. The premise caught my attention as journeys into the Otherworld always intrigue me so said I'd give it a go. I was a little surprised given the cover art that it was set in 1985 even though Nikki's vision of the Otherworld is a parallel reality held in a pre-industrial rural past. I found the novel easy to read in a single sitting and included it in a recent Read-a-thon. It is the first in a planned trilogy and one of the difficulties with trilogies is that it is hard to judge from the opening act how the story and characters will develop. Still I felt this was a promising start.

I did find that I had some issues with the lead characters, especially at the opening. Finna seemed very passive and naive for a 20-year old though part of that may have been down to her living in a fairly isolated location in the mid-1980s. Catriona managed to push a number of buttons for me. Mainly this was because I've encountered a couple of women in the pagan community who have attempted to browbeat me into seeing them as an authority on various subjects or sought to impose their ideas through their own will. So yes, she was a bit of a trigger for me and I was pleased when Finna began to find a stronger sense of self and was able to challenge her. However, to some degree the modest page count did cut short these interpersonal conflicts given the scope of their journey and dangers encountered on the road. They had far more on their plates than dealing with the dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship.

Despite this initial dislike of Catriona as she and Finna continued to interact I could appreciate her point of view and why she had acted as she had at the opening. Broadwell does not shy away from introducing uncomfortable real-life issues such as domestic violence and abuse into the back-story for her characters. The ecology of Broadwell's Otherworld also allowed two of my favourite species, long absent from Britain in the wild, to have a place to roam again again. This pleased me.

The sneak peak of Book 2 included indicates that the second book will be more contemporary as it is set in 2009. I'd certainly be interested to see how Finna has fared in the interim.

Wolfmoon Trilogy Website.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

During my lunch, I did manage to finish reading a rather unimpressive book, Osprey Command #12: Saladin. Osprey's relatively new addition to their line is supposed to deal with the most famous of military leaders. I haven't read too many of these, so far, but for some reason this particular book didn't spark me all that much. Maybe it's just my mood?
Labyrinth: Jareth Eyes

Book Review 8 - Divergent by Veronica Roth

In a dystopian future everyone is divided into factions - Erudite, Abnegation, Candour, Dauntless and Amity. Children are raised according to the beliefs of each faction, until they reach 16, when they face an aptitude test, and then choose their faction and therefore determine their future.
Triss is from Abnegation, but when her aptitude test is inconclusive she learns that she is Divergent, which many consider dangerous enough to kill her for.
Feeling she has never really belonged in Abnegation, she chooses Dauntless and undergoes the initiation, which is demanding and at times incredibly dangerous. As her talents shine through she gains enemies, willing to do whatever is needed to dispatch her so they can take her place at the top of the rankings. She also gains friends, and even a potential love interest in the form of Four, one of her Dauntless instructors.
As the final initiation task is completed and Triss enters Dauntless it becomes clear that all is not as it should be, as Erudite and Dauntless try to undermine the government and create a mindless army of Dauntless soldiers with whom they hope to seize power.
They use a serum to take control of the minds of the Dauntless and turn them into an army, but it doesn’t work on the Divergent, and Triss realises she must risk her life to save all the people she holds dear.

The book gains pace and becomes really good towards the conclusion. The scenes in which Triss is reunited with her family, and the lengths they are forced to to protect each other are really touching. I enjoyed the book, and it’s left very much open for a sequel, which should be really good as the factions are destroyed and war is obviously coming.
Lottie

book 15



City at the End of Time by Greg Bear
adult fiction, adventure, alternate views, fantasy, sci-fi
2/5    - nothing special

Do you dream of a city at the end of time?

In a time like the present, in a world that may or may not be our own, three young people–Ginny, Jack, and Daniel–dream of a doomed, decadent city of the distant future: the Kalpa. Ginny’s and Jack’s dreams overtake them without warning, leaving their bodies behind while carrying their consciousnesses forward, into the minds of two inhabitants of the Kalpa–a would-be warrior, Jebrassy, and an inquisitive explorer, Tiadba–who have been genetically retro-engineered to possess qualities of ancient humanity. As for Daniel: He dreams of an empty darkness–all that his future holds.

But more than dreams link Ginny, Jack, and Daniel. They are fate-shifters, born with the ability to skip like stones across the surface of the fifth dimension, inhabiting alternate versions of themselves. And each guards an object whose origin and purpose are unknown: gnarled, stony artifacts called sum-runners that persist unchanged through all versions of time.

Hunted by others with similar powers who seek the sum-runners on behalf of a terrifying, goddess-like entity known as the Chalk Princess, Ginny, Jack, and Daniel are drawn, despite themselves, into an all but hopeless mission to rescue the future–and complete the greatest achievement in human history.


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Eh. Not really what I was expecting.

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Lottie

book 16



Bumped by Megan McCafferty
alternate views, dystopia, family, funny, high school, mature, young adult
3/5    - worth reading

In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced Surrogettes for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, 16-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices.

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This book was a trip to read. Everything mentioned so casually, these characters don't know a different life. Using slang like pregg and everythingbut, being proud to prostitute themselves. Wanting to turn pro so they getting a better payout. It's disturbing really.

I think the chapters are too short. I like alternating POVs, but I think this one just jumped around way too much.

Spoilers.
I liked the twist that Gabriel had God, then I was hurt that he claimed to be lying about that. When he came to look for Harmony and asked for Melody's help, I really wanted to believe that he wanted to find her because he loved her, but I just don't trust his.

I didn't feel a big connection to this book and didn't think I'd continue with the series, but with the cliffhanger ending I have no choice.


vintage

Book 68: Wonder Girls by Catherine Jones

Book 68: Wonder Girls.
Author: Catherine Jones, 2012
Genre: Period Fiction. Family Drama. GLBT themes.
Other Details: ARC. 398 pages.

"You never know, it might be the start of something" Ida said, "Showing people what we can do rather than being told what we can't." - from Wonder Girls.

This quote is one of many inspiring statements found in this novel and it reminded me of the courage so many women exhibited during this time to effect positive change that was carried forward to future generations.

The novel's Prologue opens on a bitterly cold November night in 1937 as Cecily Stirling, a young cleaner at a posh London maternity hospital, is asked by the Matron to assist in smuggling an orphaned baby girl out of the hospital. We then jump forward in time to 2009 where a now elderly Cecily is living on her own in a Welsh seaside town and is still coming to terms with the recent death of her partner. She is befriended by Sarah, a younger woman who with her delightful dog Mungo is taking a break from London and her marriage. A photograph of a girl in an old-fashioned bathing costume prompts Sarah to encourage Ceci to talk about her past and slowly a story emerges, though it does not at first return to her life and the events of 1937 but to an earlier time.

1928 and in that same seaside town, teenager Ida Gaze decides to swim the Bristol Channel. Everyone says it cannot be done, especially by a schoolgirl but Ida, inspired by her heroine Amelia Earhart and supported by her best friend, Freda Voyle, is determined to prove them wrong. Not long after these two thoroughly modern wonder girls are headed to the Big Smoke to take on the challenges of their changing world. What transpires there dovetails into the events of the Prologue into war-time and beyond.

Although a work of fiction Catherine Jones' début novel was inspired by the achievement of a number of young women in the late 1920s who undertook to swim the treacherous waters of the Bristol Channel between Wales and England. Jones writes with great skill and confidence and I found myself drawn into the story very quickly finding her depiction of the 'Roaring Twenties' and 1930s Britain very compelling. The strongest feature for me in this brilliant novel were the characters, main and supporting, who emerged as very real people.

There are themes explored linked to love, friendship, families, growing older, loyalty, hope, loss and bereavement. Jones handles romantic love between various women in the story, whether requited or not, very delicately as befits a time when such relationships were not able to be openly acknowledged. There is also a range of relationships explored, some supportive and others destructive, yet all conveying the sense of how important women can be to each other.

This was a poignant uplifting story that I enjoyed very much. I feel this novel is one that will appeal to reading groups as it has much to recommend it in terms of a good read as well as offering plenty of points for discussion. There is no doubt that Catherine Jones is someone whose future work I'll be keeping an eye out for. My thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for sending me this novel to review.