My rating- 4.5 Meows, which is the cat’s pajamas, but only, like, the bottom half?
Genre- Nonfiction, Career Guides, Arts, Publishing, Self-publishing
This manual brings to your fingertips all the practical knowledge required to build your long term writing career. Any writer of any level will benefit from the material within this comprehensive guide. From the neophyte to the professional, anyone who reads this book will learn everything from formulating an idea for a story, to practicing the art of the short story, to writing proper fanfiction, and writing an original novel.
This book not only teaches how to write, but also how to market, edit, publish, and all with exercises and even free resources. From start to finish, the ideas presented are done so in an easy to understand and entertaining fashion. By the end of this manual, you will not only know how to write, edit, publish, and market your book, but you’ll know what kind of publishing is right for you.
Why don’t publishing companies want you to know these secrets? Publishers run an exclusive good ole’ boy club, and in doing so, they choose who they help to succeed, and who they help to fail, but when you learn these secrets, you’ll know that no writer needs a publisher in today’s internet age. Bypassing a publishing company not only allows you to maintain control and earn the bulk of your income, but it relegates the old, dinosaur, publishing companies to obscurity.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not a writer, but I bought and read this book by Aaron Dennis, How to Become a Successful Writer: Secrets the Mainstream Publishers Don’t Want You to Know. First of all, it was only 99 cents, but I bought it because I like Dennis’s style, and I just wanted to see what it was all about, and really the title kinda’ got got me. Why wouldn’t publishers want you to know these secrets? And what are they?
Anymeow, I have to admit that it was quite entertaining. There were a few times I even chuckled, but basically the book is broken down into two parts, or three, I guess. It starts off with tips about how to come up with an idea for writing, goes into writing short stories, fan fiction, and then how to build an online presence, and all before releasing your first novel. The book then goes into marketing and publishing before moving on to the next part–editing.
The first portion about writing even has some exercises, which are super simple. The second portion really breaks down a lot of the concepts behind writing, like finding plot holes, dumping info, avoiding redundancies, and so on. It’s a lot of stuff I didn’t think about when I think about “editing.” Dennis does touch on punctuation, but most of his editing advice is tailored towards modifying what you’ve written to best present it to your target audience.
His motto seems to be: writing is just putting sequential events into words, editing is the art of transforming those accounts into a story worth reading. I can’t agree more.
There is a third portion in the book. It’s just a few pages, but he gives out resources like other sites and even people to contact if you need cover art or whatever, so really, for 99 cents, you can’t go wrong. It definitely gave me something to mull over while reading other books.
The funny thing about this book is the true premise behind it. For one, the secrets provided aren’t really secrets so much as purrr-haps uncommon knowledge. Things you might not now if you’ve never written or at least never tried to publish or be published. Stuff like, how to find a literary agent, how to build a presence, which type of publishing is right for you. Two, the reason publishers don’t want you to have these secrets, Dennis claims, is because if you know all these points of articulation, you really can become a successful writer on your own, though he admits it can take a long time. Finally, it seems Dennis wants all new writers or aspiring writers to start their careers out properly, and he even goes on to explain all of his mistakes along the way, and how best to avoid them.
I wasn’t so much surprised that I enjoyed this book because I just enjoy Dennis’s writing anymeow, but I was surprised to find that a book about how to write, edit, and publish was presented in such a humorous way. In other words, it was just fun to read and to get a look inside the head of a notable writer. I mean, for 99 cents, you can’t go wrong. There’s gonna be something between the covers of How to Become a Successful Writer: Secrets the Mainstream Publishers Don’t Want You to Know for you to learn, something, so it’s worth 99 cents.
Genre- Fiction, Science fiction, Military, Hard scifi
Gray motherships have penetrated Earth’s atmosphere. Intel suggests the aliens are searching for NOAHH, a Non-Organic Alien Human Hybrid, yet the Gray Agenda insinuates the aliens wish to subdue Humans; why, then, are they destroying Earth and evac ships?
Riley believes only the traveler can reveal the answer, but knowledge is never what one expects.
In the face of a new Lokian threat, two factions of Grays, an elusive Reptilian, and hybrids lurking within Earth’s own government, Phoenix Crew must gather old allies, forge new allegiances, and exterminate numerous threats all at once.
Is such a thing possible? Is there , really, any glory in war? Or is this the end of Earth?
Finally had a chance to sit down and read War and Glory, Lokians 3 by Aaron Dennis. What is there to say? Lots of aliens, cool futuristic tech, the space ships were awesome, everything progressed as it did in the previous two novels, and I totally loved it.
It starts off with Riley O’Hara apparently back with the Earth Navy, only he’s being court martialed for desertion, which–spoiler alert–happened at the end of Beyond the End of the World. The judge prattles on all about all the things that have led to the court martial including the series of events, which are then described in the book. So, like, the prologue glosses over the first two books, Beyond the End of the World, and They Lurk Among Us, and then the first chapter glosses over what will happen in War and Glory. I thought that was a cool idea.
The second chapter picks up right where They Lurk Among Us left off–spoiler alert–the Grays have stationed over Earth in order to retrieve NOAHH, the alien-robot hybrid thing. In the meantime, Earth is trying to evacuate civilians to Mars, which the aliens aren’t interested in taking over, though they do blow evac ships out of the sky. Since The Bureau is trying to coordinate with Earth, other human colonies, and the Thewls, they send Riley, Sasha, Ivan, Franklin, and Adams, to meet with General Matheson, recover some mysterious piece of alien technology, which I’m sad to say is never explained, but I’m guessing will be reintroduced in the next novel…? Right? There is going to be a next one, right?
Any-meow, it turns out that the Grays are more than just drones, they’re becoming self aware, are hybridizing with humans to evolve into a new race, are linked to another race of aliens, the reptilians, who are linked to the Ijij (the travelers) who had a hand in creating modern humans. Absolutely bonkers.
Riley and crew, in an effort to halt the Grays, team up with Korit and NOAHH to complete a number of tasks. For one, they need to blow up their own satellite weaponry because the Grays have gained control of it and are blasting human cities with it. Some of the Grays are also running a hybridization lab out of the Denver Airport. The crew also needs to take back the White House in order to neutralize the hybrids, which infiltrated Earth government. On top of all that, the only way to really stop the Grays is to get them off of Earth because all the added mass and volume of their alien ships is tearing the planet apart, and to force the aliens off of Earth can only be done by contacting the Reptilians, who seem to think the whole galaxy belongs to them.
From great characters, to amazing, and sometimes hillarious dialogue, to action packed battle sequences, this book has it all. I was not disappointed by Dennis. War and Glory really delivered a great closing to the ongoing story, but it opened up a new line of questions for me.
What are the Reptilians’ goals? Will they be invading Earth? Why don’t they exterminate the humans, or try to? What about the Lokians? They still seem to be the key to everything, and evidently, all because Riley traveled into subspace to kill them in the first book. It’s like, there’s the possibility that everything that’s happening in this book’s reality is an after effect of destroying the Lokians outside of reality, and now other realities might be crossing over. I, like, cat even, ’cause I’m all, like, Oh Meow God.
I do have to say, that while War and Glory was well written, fun, exciting, and the perfect addition to the series, I still prefer Beyond the End of the World. I don’t know. Maybe, because it was a totally new type of scifi for me, and now I’m used to the story and the writer’s style. There’s nothing wrong with War and Glory. It was really a perfect book, and I’ll probably be reading this whole scifi series again…waiting for the next one….
It’s an amazing book. Buy it. Buy the second one. The first one is free, so you don’t have an excuse. If you buy them through my blog, I get a cut of the sales, too. ^..^
The Teragon loomed over the White House. Raging winds blew, ripping trees from the ground. The torn trunks and fleeting leaves barreled down emptied streets. Pelting rain coupled with high speed gusts of wind sloshed water from the Potomac into nearby communities. Terrible weather had forced the civilians of Washington D.C. to evacuate before the first laser struck the ground.
It was unclear to the general public whether or not the White House itself had been evacuated. Like the Bank of the World building, it, too, was protected by a shimmering, green, force field. No one knew why the mother ships had stationed over the buildings or what was in store, but the platoon from Earth Air Force had received the command to stand down. Dismayed, their C.O. gave the order to return to the forward operating base.
A sudden light pushed through dark clouds. The retreating force turned to look. Behind the clouds was no blue sky. SALTS had powered on. A beam of concentrated, ultraviolet light came down onto the Teragon. The super heated photon beam was a blinding violet and well over ten feet in diameter. It struck clean through the alien vessel’s plating then impacted over the force field protecting the White House. Massive explosions tore the mother ship asunder.
Deafening rumbles and screeches of flaming, metal wreckage roared over the city. Immense chunks of alien refuse tumbled down the force field barrier and struck the muddy ground; grime shot into the air like a brown, volcanic upheaval. While cheers and shouts of victory washed over the fighting forces, several smaller vessels were revealed. Like a Betagon, Teragons consisted of multiple ships, and instead of looming over the government building, they all came apart and repositioned to encase the building.
Earth Air Force troops were aghast. With rifles gripped tightly, they looked on impotently. The Teragon was not finished providing surprises either. From the bottom most vessels, shock troops started their vicious march onto D.C. Then, other war ships, including Betagons, Zaligons, and squid-like crafts of silvery steel, took to the sky.
Orders to hold the line went around. Gunfire crackled and propulsion engines droned, but spreading news of the grave developments was top priority. A handful of pilots recorded the disarray until their crafts were knocked out of the sky by green beams.
Agents of The Bureau watched in horror as reports came in from other agents positioned around the world. Monitors both at the tables and on the walls of the war room showed the havoc in D.C. and other capitols. The Teragons all came apart to encase government buildings in massive constructs over a mile high and nearly a mile across. Worldwide pandemonium ensued as silvery crafts whizzed about the darkened skies, unleashing green beams of destruction over a terrified populace.
Several monitors went gray with static as The Bureau’s strategic position deteriorated. A hush grew over the war room, and the drone of the local Teragon rumbled through the building. Riley and his team turned to Hoover. The Director set his jaw. Riley detected a hint of something, some emotion. He’s scared…is that it?
“Director,” Riley asked.
Hoover nodded rhythmically then turned to address his agents. “Well, there you have it,” he started by throwing his hands up. “Those God damn fools just started a war.”
“If we had allowed communications, we might have been able to prevent this,” Riley argued.
“No, they still would have used their damn satellite.”
“We need to get out there and do something!” Riley demanded.
“Military forces on Earth will handle what they can, Mars forces are arriving as we speak, and I received word Admiral Yew is set to arrive before the day’s end,” Hoover said. “The real problem is the level of debris careening towards the ground, buildings, and whatever else. Even with help in the fight, all that steel has to go somewhere.”
“The real problem is people dying!” Sasha interjected.
Chatter grew over the immense room as the agents returned to their work. “Alright, enough of this, where do you need me,” Riley asked.
“Naturally, the first course of action is evacuation; Earth forces will handle that as best they can, so long as they can keep those vessels safe,” Hoover explained. “We still need to take out those enemy satellites, but the military has their hands full now. I can run this outfit on a skeleton crew, so I’m sending you to join the Thewls once more. The six of you can start by taking out one satellite while I send the rest of my agents to do the same. With some luck, we’ll be able to break the Gray’s communications. That should provide an opening to bring down their new strongholds.”
“Six of us,” Ivan asked.
“Take NOAHH,” Hoover ordered.
“Sir, what about our own satellite weaponry,” Adams asked as he furrowed his brow. Hoover shook his head, causing Adams to frown. “I see.”
“Well I don’t,” Sasha cut in.
“With the Teragon in place, we can’t communicate properly,” Franklin added.
Sasha gave a quick shrug indicating the explanation was insufficient.
“If we can’t communicate, we can’t control our satellites,” Adams clarified. “We may even give the Grays a chance to hack out systems….”
“Whatever, we’ll head out into space and hail Admiral Yew. We’ll ask for a pick up near Mars, and go from there,” Riley said.
“Well this is balls to the walls,” Franklin remarked, shaking his head.
“Let’s get armed and make our way to a ship,” Adams said, rolling his eyes.
Riley looked at NOAHH, who returned scrutiny. “C’mon, robot.”
“I am not a robot. I am a–”
“I know what you are! C’mon!”
Adams led them out of the war room and up a floor to subbasement B, armaments and supplies. They exited the elevator to a receiving department. An older, female agent sat behind her desk, glasses perched at the tip of her nose. She looked up.
“What can I do for you?” she sang.
“We need rifles and the like,” Franklin said.
“We’re taking a vessel to Mars and need equipment,” Adams added.
“Scan in, please,” she said.
Franklin swiped his card through her terminal. “You’re cleared, agent Franklin,” she smiled.
He then led the group past the desk. Weapons lined the walls. Even more equipment was stacked on shelves, tables, racks, and in crates. They marched by the center of the room, where a handful of enormous, man-shaped machines stood.
“Ve take these?” Ivan had a glint in his eye.
“Too much for now,” Adams said.
They stopped at a row of tall, steel shelves. Franklin handed out standard, laser rifles.
“Pulse lasers,” he commented.
They were black, lightweight rifles with shoulder straps. While stock weapons for agents of The Bureau, they were eloquent, and rather high-tech in utility.
“Excellent,” Riley said.
“I’m good,” Ivan added.
“I uh, oh okay,” Sasha said, inspecting her new weapon.
“NOAHH,” Adams asked.
“I do not require a rifle. My telekinesis is sufficient,” he answered.
The crew passed uneasy glances. “This should do,” Franklin said.
After slinging the weapons over their shoulders, they made their way back to the tunnels beneath the city by taking the elevators then accessing the garage.
“Where will we pop up,” Riley asked along the way.
They progressed through the dimly lit block tunnels. The rhythmic sound of running in cadence bounced off the walls.
“The hangar we need to reach is a ways off site,” Adams said.
“Don’t want to run afoul of thousands of Gray, shock troops,” Franklin added.
“Right,” Sasha agreed.
“So, where do we pop up,” Riley asked again as they continued jogging through the tunnels.
“Right inside the hangar,” Adams smiled.
“Oh good, for a second,” Riley was saying.
A massive jolt like an earthquake knocked everyone to the ground. Some kind of steel obstruction had suddenly manifested. Something like an immense, black, steel triangle blocked their path. Concrete debris rolled to their feet while dust settled.
“What the fuck happened?” Sasha cried out.
“Cheese and rice,” Franklin remarked.
“Boy, that was lucky,” Adams chuckled.
It took a moment, but they all regained their composure. “Yeah…that could’ve been it,” Riley conceded as he ran a hand along the obstruction.
“The vessels comprising the Teragon have secured their position around your building. It would appear this direction is no longer viable,” NOAHH said.
“Da,” Ivan shrugged.
“Now what?” Riley turned to the agents.
Adams went so far as to rub his head in thought, but then Franklin asked, “Right?”
“I don’t see any other alternative,” Adams replied.
“Vell?” Ivan grumbled.
“We’ll just have to take the surface and get to another set of tunnels,” Adams said.
“Copy that,” Riley answered.
“Wait, won’t it be dangerous?” Sasha mumbled while grabbing Riley’s elbow.
Nobody answered. During the backtracking, the crew secured their headgear and synced their comms. A few moments of running persisted before Adams, or Franklin, or whichever was in front, took some new turns. Finally, they scrambled up some steel, grate steps and into an alley. Glass and steel buildings were practically on top of each other. With necks craned to the sky above, the view overhead was screaming with rapid movement and flashes of silver.
Rumbles of destruction echoed throughout as the whole of New York took massive damage from green lasers. The sound of crafts cutting through the air gave no pause for silence. Whole chunks of the city had fallen into the subways and sewer tunnels below the surface, thus exposing steel girders and enormous holes.
“Let’s move,” Riley ordered.
“Mmhm,” Franklin replied.
Adams and Franklin held the lead with a steady jog. Stone debris and crevices in the alleys and roads were only the more menial obstacles. They needed to cover several hundred feet to an underground access, supposing it was still intact. Riley stayed focused on moving as the agents in front of him ran faster and faster, too fast.
A thick beam of blinding, green energy erupted a few feet in front of his face. It lasted a second, walking across the pavement. A great scar was left over the streets of New York. Then, an adjacent building crumbled to the ground, sending huge chunks of stone, glass, and rebar spilling over the newly crafted hole.
Listen to a reading from Beyond the End of the World
Rational Emotive Behavior therapy (REBT) is a unified theory of psychotherapy, focusing on the examination of attitudes and beliefs as the basis for enhancing competence in Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Social Problem Solving (Emotional Intelligence). The therapist’s dexterity at implementing the level of assimilative integration required for the client’s effective use of REBT, however, may result in therapeutic weaknesses.
This study investigated the use of Think Aloud (TA) as a way addressing the perceived weaknesses in the REBT model’s transferability from the clinical to real world experiences.
Thirty-five participants, ranging in age from 18-66, participated in the study. Twenty-two (68.8%) were Female and 10 (31.3%) were Male. Three individuals declined to provide demographic information. Twenty-eight European Americans (87.5%) and four African Americans (12.5%) participated.
Results showed an improvement in the training group’s EI and Emotional Intelligence at Post-test (M = 108.29, SD = 12.25) compared to Pre-test (M = 100.29, SD = 13.97). An ANOVA failed to reveal a significant between-subjects main effect by Group, F (1, 33) = 0.00, p > .05 (partial η2 = .00, power = .05).
These data suggest there was no overall difference between the training and control groups on EI or Emotional Intelligence. There was an overall main effect by Time. This increase was significant only for the Training group. Improvement did not differ by Age or Sex on Post-test scores.
An assumption could be drawn that a continual increase in EI and Social Problem Solving scores may have been realized, if the study had continued for a longer period of Time.
During one of my Smashwords shop rampages, I decided to purchase Rational Emotive Behavior Theory using Articulated Disputation by Michael Cornwall. I’ve heard more and more about emotional intelligence and how people should deal with social situations, and frankly, I think it’s all a bunch of kitty litter. My opinion is that everyone nowadays gets their furry, little butt hole hurt over everything all the time, and what everyone wants is for everyone else to stop offending them. Well, I think people should stop taking everything so personally.
Someone thinks you’re fat. Why do you care?
Someone doesn’t say hi to you in the elevator. Big deal.
Your mom can’t live on her own, so you took her in, and she keeps moving all of your stuff around. Yeah, well, you took her in, and that means it’s your responsibility to lock your stuff up rather than continuously haranguing her.
Is it ideal? Is it fair? Is it an imposition? Who cares?
I just don’t deal with stress. I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about me or anyone else, but that’s me, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. This is the way that I am, and I have no right to expect that everyone thinks and feels the way I do, and so I don’t take it personally and get my fluffy, little, tail hole hurt whenever someone is different from me.
Nevertheless, I wanted to take an objective look at some emotional studies because, well, what the Hell do I know anyway?
This one line from Rational Emotive Behavior Theory using Articulated Disputation by Michael Cornwall caught my eye right away.
REBT proposes a model for improved emotional intelligence by supporting rationality over irrationality in emotional decision-making, often citing Epictetus as its maxim: What disturbs people’s minds is not events but their judgments on events (Still & Dryden, 2003).
The problem is right there in the quote. What’s rational or logical to one person isn’t always rational or logical to another. Moreover, reason often goes out the window when one is emotionally charged, right? If emotional intelligence were to be characterized as the ability to comprehend that what people do and say while emotionally charged is not what they might do or say when more stable, I might be persuaded to believe that emotional intelligence is a real thing, however, I do not believe that it is. What people are really talking about when they refer to emotional intelligence is empathy, which is the ability to better understand someone’s emotions, or even one’s own emotions. Empathy is very important for people especially since we mostly tend to be gregarious and social creatures.
REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Theory) may well support rationality over irrationality in emotional decision making, but this book was about promoting thinking aloud, or actually saying out loud what you are thinking while emotionally charged, and I am not opposed to believing that saying out loud what your are feeling and thinking, or talking your way through your thoughts and emotions, is helpful. I’m sure it is for many reasons.
For one, we are forced to slow down and actually say words, which come out much slower than words thought, but to say that such a thing improves ei, or as I prefer to call it, empathy, is a bit of a stretch for me. Thinking aloud seems to aid the individual in both calming themselves, hopefully allowing for “reason” to prevail, and it certainly helps that person to second guess themselves, so to speak, but is that any different from taking three, big breaths, or counting to ten, before exploding on someone?
I have my doubts….
At any rate, I am not reviewing thinking aloud, emotional intelligence, or REBT. I am reviewing Rational Emotive Behavior Theory using Articulated Disputation by this Michael Cornwall guy, and it was very well written.
Here’s an excerpt where he describes how it is important to not only force a client to use REBT outside the office, away from a therapist, but how it is equally important for clients to immerse themselves in real life situations that normally make them uncomfortable:
In partial response to the issue of transferability and as a measure of self-efficacy, Ellis (1995) promoted the use of client-initiated homework. The practice is not only to help reduce in-office preparation time; it is thought to be a vital part of the process of behavioral change and self-efficacy. Homework often consists of one or more self-directed activities, designed to encourage the individual to independently act against irrational thought and its corresponding negative emotional intelligence behavior.
The result of homework becomes the focus of future therapy sessions. Clients who fear a certain social activity, for example, may be asked to intentionally place themselves in the feared social situation (also referred to as shame attacking). While immersed in the activity, they may be asked to address and dispute their thoughts, using the A-B-C framework as a guide. The individual, it is believed, can then be aware, in real-time, of the cognitions associated with such experiences and independently work through them. This experience would serve as fodder for the client’s continued instruction into the use of REBT as a form of self-help. After in-office therapy and in vivo homework, rational Emotional Intelligence would ideally develop in the individual.
Ellis, who regularly practiced his theory before live audiences, customarily assigned homework to everyone (Ellis & Joffe, 2002). Much like Ellis’ public exhibitions of REBT, in-office therapy is expected to conclude with the assignment of cognitive-behavioral, experiential homework (Johnson & Kazantzis, 2004; Broder, 2000; Glaser, Kazantzis, Deane, & Oades, 2000; Robb, Backx, & Thomas, 1999).
I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with this book. For one, Cornwall doesn’t blindly believe in the practice established by Ellis. Two, he doesn’t blindly believe in his own studies. Three, he allows for a margin of error, and four, he uses this book to simply express past and current findings regarding the use of REBT to help people suffering from social problems–people who are seeking help, and the practice is designed to foster self reliance.
In my final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether or not REBT is an efficacious tool for increasing emotional intelligence. What was important to me, as a reader and reviewer, was that I enjoyed reading this explanation of REBT and thinking aloud. As I had stated at the beginning of this review, I don’t really believe in emotional intelligence, I believe in empathy, but I do believe that empathy is both necessary for humans, as social creatures, to live fluid and healthy lives, and I also believe that empathy can be improved or intensified, and it seems to me that REBT is an efficient methodology for such a thing.
For anyone with an interest in psychology, or human behavior, or emotional practices designed to improve the overall quality of an individual’s life, this book is a great resource, not as an effort to practice REBT, necessarily, but simply as a fully integrated and informational read. This book may well help people to seek help if nothing else, or it may simply satiate one’s appetite for psychological studies, as it did for me.
Not a lot of cat puns in this review, as this was a more serious book, a presentation of case studies and methodologies, so I’ll just leave you all with this:
Rational Emotive Behavior Theory using Articulated Disputation by Michael Cornwall is the cat’s meow!!!
My Rating- 0 Meows. This thing belongs in the litter box. It may not even qualify as liner….
Genre- Nonfiction, Travel, Relationships and Family
Blurb- Life, love and laughter on the Navajo Indian Reservation is what this book is all about and Scott brings it with humor and insight that comes from his 37-year marriage to a Navajo woman. Filled with tips and tidbits that you won’t find anywhere else, this book will take you on a journey to help explain life in one of America’s most interesting and mis-understood cultures.
Ummm…rrreal quick. Why is misunderstood misspelled???
Right off the bat, the story begins with a typo:
I felt it necessary to write this short preface because of the vehicle I have chosen to share a white guys view of Navajo Culture – namely, “How to Marry a Navajo Woman.”
As you can see, it should be: share a white guy(‘)s view. Not that it matters. What the hell is he trying to say?
This made it very difficult for me to even begin enjoying the book, and for two reasons. One, I don’t really like a writer ingratiating themselves to me in order to instill in me the proper frame of mind for enjoying their story. The story should just be enjoyable. Two, if a writer who ingratiates themselves can’t even use proper punctuation then the whole book is either poorly edited, or poorly proofed, or both, but I continued, since I bought the damned thing.
Beyond the preface, which is rife with condescending statements, is a bit about the author. As if I would care about an author I’ve never heard of. Nevertheless, sometimes there’s a good reason for an introduction. Unfortunately, the introduction began as such:
I’m just a guy. A white guy. A Caucasian. An Anglo. A Bilagaana. All words used by the Navajo to describe me.
False modesty, pretense, and a veritable, verbal slap to the face of the people he’s supposed to be respecting if you ask me. Once more, I pushed through, but now, it’s just for the sake of a review….
Throughout the author’s introduction, he prattles on about his wife, a Navajo, obviously, that he married when she was only 17. Then, he goes on to belittle her by talking about how, in a primitive fashion, she was terrified of leaving the porch because of the “lights”, which were just lightning bugs, as if in the late sixties, Navajo women were so terrified of the modern world, and what, she didn’t wander off the porch even during the day? By this point, I was certain the whole story would just be bull dookey.
On a more technical note, the book is rife with incorrect punctuation, as I had figured. The writer constantly places commas after a conjunction rather than before. Wrong!
Also, the entire story is just so explanative. It isn’t a story, really, it’s a discourse, like a textbook. I didn’t think it was really going to be a “how-to book”, but I guess the title should have made that clear to me. Oh, me-ouch!
Finally, there’s a would, or a could, in practically every sentence, which always gives me the feeling of being kept at arms length.
Example: My wife could cook a thousand pieces of frybread.
Well, did she? It sounds as if she was able, but didn’t. Feel me?
Anyway, after about 30 pages regarding the author’s life with a woman he seems to patronize endlessly, we get to the meat.
The first chapter begins with why someone might want to marry a Navajo woman, and this is the author’s first statement:
This is the reason that I married a Navajo woman. I was mesmerized by her curves, deep, dark eyes, smooth brown skin and hair longer than anyone I had ever dated.
Okay, look, I’m willing to admit that most people look for an outwardly attractive mate, and also willing to admit that we all have a “type”, and if Native American is your type, and you already know about and like the Navajo culture then certainly everyone is entitled to seek out a Navajo wife without judgment, and again, this book, this “how-to” textbook, is clearly about finding a Navajo bride specifically, but we all know that not all women of any culture or ethnicity fall into strict boundries of curviness or long hair.
There are short, fat Swedish women with short hair and dark eyes. There are tall, lanky African women with light skin. There are booty-licuous Chinese women with dark skin, so it just seems impractical to me to classify Navajo women as being “curvy with deep, dark eyes, smooth brown skin, and long hair”.
I’m sure you can tell I hate this book by meow, but I’d better provide an overall synopsis before I kill myself….
Oh, wait, I have to throw in this second paragraph of the first chapter:
Finding a woman who was also intelligent, creative and interesting was a matter of sheer luck for me. I found her beauty so appealing that she could have had the personality of a grapefruit and I wouldn’t have cared.
Now, isn’t that just the cat’s meow?! This shallow, callow writer has the gall to admit that all he wants is a pretty Navajo. What a jerk!
Here’s my review. This book is trash. Gregory Scott is a prick. The book is all about demeaning women, and Navajo women in particular. I’m telling you right now. This guy doesn’t have a Navajo wife. This book is just some big joke in an effort to make money.
Here’s my favorite excerpt of the book:
Navajo women have a distinctive build. They tend to have very thin calves. Many Navajo women don’t wear shorts or bathing suits because they are self -conscious about their “chicken legs.”
Another distinctive feature is their backside. A joke among Natives is that FBI doesn’t mean Federal Bureau of Investigation. It stands for Flat Butt Indian…
And, in general, it is true. Most Navajo women don’t have much of a Butt.
And, as a Navajo woman grows older, – boy, am I going to get in trouble with this one – they tend to put on weight between their waist and shoulders. Their legs and backsides stay small.
If you are simply attracted to a Navajo Woman because of her looks, I would suggest that you check out her mother before you get all bedazzled and twitterpated. Though it is not always true, most women grow up to look somewhat like their mother.
Ohmigosh! Are you frakking kittening me? Didn’t he say at the beginning that his wife was curvy? Why is butt capitalized? Why do all sentences begin with And? Why is there a comma after and? If and is required at the beginning of a sentence then the first sentence hasn’t ended yet.
Do yourself a favor, pretend Gregory Scott doesn’t exist. How to Marry a Navajo Woman in one word- terrible. Avoid this book like the plague.
Thank you, and please share this review with everyone.
If, for whatever reason, you’re crazy enough to want this book, you can find it here-
Blurb- With the death of Kulshedra, Dragon of Truth, it has been revealed that Scar, the mercenary, is in fact Sarkany, the Dragon Slayer, a creature fashioned for the sole purpose of purging the Dragons from the world of Tiamhaal, yet such a thing is not so simple. Kings and queens yet war amongst one another. They, too, lie, connive, and coerce, and so, Scar and his friends must find a way to persuade those few, benevolent rulers to band together. In the midst of peace talks and dead Dragons, those still in the worship of the beasts grow more powerful. Some of them even doubly praise their oppressor in an effort to wield more magic. Now, united with his friends, Scar sets his gaze upon a hopeful horizon, but is strength in numbers sufficient to keep the Dragons from completing their machinations?
In one short word. WOW!
So, either stop reading right now, and go get Gods and Dragons, the first book in the Dragon of Time fantasy series, or be forever spoiled as I have to cover some events from Gods and Dragons to review the sequel, Dragon Slayer.
Schneriously! Don’t read any further! SPOILER ALERT! HISS!!! ^..^
Scar, or Sarkany, the Dragon Slayer, has been created as an extension of Eternus the Dragon of Time, a real or true Dragon, and basically, the existence of all there is, so Scar is like the avatar of Eternus, and he has been tasked with purging the Dragons from Tiamhaal in this one particular reality.
Dragon Slayer begins with Scar taking his vengeance on Zoltek, king of the Zmajans, and after killing him, he takes his Dragon gem, goes into the realm of Zmaj, the Dragon of Destruction, and kills him to take his soul. Scar is the only being who can venture into the Dragons’ realms and take their souls, and he is more than glad to do this, because everything he ever wanted in a normal life has been taken from him in part by the Dragons, in part by the people who unknowingly worship Dragons, and in part by the real Gods.
After leaving the country of Usaj, Scar runs into an old friend, Shrikal, the paladin of perseverance, and together, they journey towards Alduheim, where Scar is supposed to meet up with N’Giwah and Labolas in order to figure out how to tackle the next Dragon.
See, the thing is, that killing the Dragons reduces the magic power that worshippers have. Like, when Scar killed Kulshedra, the people lost their markings of Kulshedra, and they lost the ability to make their armor stronger. The Zmajans lost their colors, and they lost the power to make their weapons into machines, so since the countries are at war, Scar can’t wantonly kill the Dragons because people will suffer until all the Dragons are killed, but things just aren’t so simple, and man is this a good “tail.”
Basically, it becomes important to figure out which kings and queens are willing to give up their Dragon gems without a fight. It’s also important to know which Dragon to kill and when because otherwise an evil ruler might still have their magic and kill good guys. On top of that, Scar, Labolas, and N’Giwah are trying to help the rulers forge alliances and convince them that they are worshipping Dragons. Some people still think they’re worshipping Gods.
Like I said, this is cray cray!
If all the intrigue, action, espionage, and magic wasn’t enough, two things seems to be happening. One, Scar seems to be growing weaker, or perhaps becoming human…? I’m just mew-sing on that one. Two, he thinks he’s found a way to revive his lover from Gods and Dragons, Ylithia, the former paladin of severity by striking some deals with other rulers.
I’m not going to spoil Dragon Slayer for you. This is a must read. This is a fantasy series going somewhere no other fantasy series has gone. I think I may be more excited to read the next Dragon of Time than I am to read the next Lokians book.
All I can say, and I say this honestly, is that Dennis is an unparalleled writer. The Dragon of Time series will stand the test of time.
Now, I chose a particular excerpt because it shows just how different the world of Tiamhaal can be. Since this fantasy doesn’t have dwarves or elves, it has different people and different cultures, but they seem to be mostly rooted in actual cultures.
Like, I don’t know what the Zmajans or Kulshedrans are supposed to be, but it seems the Fafnirians are Roman, the Dracos are Celtic, the Tiamatish are African, The Slibinish are Scandinavian, the Mireuans, and Nagish are some kind of Asian, maybe Japanese? There are many more, and in the excerpt you’ll get to read about Scultonians, which…I don’t know what they are, but they are my favorite. Enjoy!
Excerpt- Last alert for spoilers! You will learn about one of the characters from Gods and Dragons if you keep reading!!! ^..^
Castle Way led to an immense bridge comprised of bone pillars protruding from a tributary that spilled out to the sea. Patrolmen wearing bone armor and skull helmets stood guard before the spanning structure, but dozens of citizens walked freely on and off the bridge. Though everyone gave Scar a glance of wonder, no one stopped him from crossing towards the monstrous castle in the distance.
Passing the inhabitants of Acrypha, Scar noticed only those not of Scultonian heritage wore masks for protection. Whoever the various tribesmen were, they wore fine clothes, or shiny armor, and they all moved with a regal bearing. Safe to assume these are delegates from other countries. Someone who looked either Fafnirian or Kulshedran—with the face cloths it was impossible to distinguish—walked by, giving Scar a nod. Then, he saw a tall figure coming towards him; a person wearing black armor and crowned helmet, an obvious Paladin of Severity. The person stopped suddenly.
Scar rolled his shoulders, wondering if a fight was in the making, but he kept stride, walked beyond the paladin, who turned to watch the Dragon Slayer go by, and skirted the rail to avoid knocking over a family of Tiamatish. He then watched the figure move on. Continuing towards the castle as the environment grew darker and the flames of torches along the bridge burned brighter, the warrior finally stepped off the bony platform to inspect two rows of guards.
The formations maintained two lines some fifty feet apart, and while their morbid gear gave them a terrifying appearance, their short spears were strapped to their backs. The soldiers guarded the only entrance into the castle, at least, the only entrance Scar saw from his position, an entrance built of a stony arch with a cobbled walkway that led to a raised, bone portcullis. Behind the archway, three, spindly towers reached towards the cloudy sky. While it was night, no stars or moon broke the veil of the death wind swirling overhead, but several torches lit the way, and Scar walked beneath the archway; soldiers atop a bridge between parapets marched unenthusiastically.
The cobbled street led to another entry, one that was crafted to resemble the large, menacing maw of some unknown beast, something like a goat skull without horns. Flames burned from its eye holes, and more guards stood on either side. A strange man wearing a gray tunic and a red sash eyed the warrior. He was leaning inconspicuously against the outer wall, but when they made eye contact, the man eased away from the stonework, stuffed his hands in the pockets of his trousers, and slinked away, out of sight. Squinting, Scar grew curious; the man had been dressed like the people who attacked him in Eltanrof, like the people he saw in Budai. Turning around to see if anyone else had paid attention to the stranger, the bladesman saw only inanimate soldiers; they were like statues, so he wandered off in the direction the man had gone, but found himself corralled by parapets and a high wall.
He clicked his tongue, popped his thumbs, wondered to where the man had vanished, and then made back for the way into the castle. The foyer was an extensive room if bland. Scultonians weren’t much for fancy décor, apart from the numerous, scary skulls crafted into the walls, but their opened mouths held flames, which provided an eerie, malevolent glow throughout the castle. Servants and guards wandered through—some of them sweeping or dusting the grime prevalent in Balroa—so Scar sauntered towards a closed door at the far end of the room. A thin, Scultonian woman wearing a shiny, black, silk robe smiled once he drew close.
“Greetings, warrior,” she said.
“Well met. I am hoping to arrange a meeting with your king. I am Scar, a friend of Balroa.”
“I know who you are. One has vouched for your honor.”
“Oh?” Scar wondered if she meant Borta; he was the only Scultonian Scar knew, apart from Munah, who was no longer a Scultonian nor living.
“Come.” The woman opened the door and motioned with her hand.
The two walked down a purple carpet through the donjon. Many stairwells on both sides of the room led up through a vaulted ceiling, and many more led down into the bowels of the island. Soldiers stood around, chatting with one another. Often, they gave Scar a nod; the castle was at ease.
The carpet ended before seven steps, which led to immense, open doors. The throne room lay beyond the doors, and numerous servants rushed by; they were coming and going from other rooms. The warrior tried to get a peak at what they were doing, where they were going, and saw a kitchen, a dining room, and more stairwells. Finally, they both stopped in front of two chairs. They were unremarkable excepting the fact that they were crafted from bone, and each was cushioned with purple silk. Scar turned to the woman with an expectant look.
Nodding politely, she said, “Wait a moment. Verouvir will want to speak to you.”
Rather than asking after the mysterious name or word, Scar watched the woman traipse up a set of stairs. Taking a deep breath, he glanced at those walking by and gave a nod or smile. Minutes later, as he shifted his balance to and fro, a Scultonian wearing a suit of bone and steel plate approached. The armor was inlaid with golden quilling, and so beautiful, Scar failed to notice the man wearing it.
“Good to see you again,” the man said in a gravelly tone.
“Borta! It is you,” Scar chuckled as he noticed the patterns of blue on his friend’s face.
“Yes…but that is not my real name, you see? I am Verouvir Akalabash. Sirokai is my brother. I am the Prince of Balroa.”
The two clasped wrists. Scar remained slack-jawed after letting go. Borta smiled briefly.
“Why the mystery,” Scar inquired.
“I could not have let on that I was the prince; Gilgamesh would’ve grown suspicious and relations between our countries would surely have a suffered a blow, yet I needed a way to enter Alduheim, and so my brother claimed I was his foremost scholar and sent me to Satrone.”
“Gilgamesh is dead now,” Scar said, looking away. “Much has happened since those days at the old castle…I have learned of my origins, and I have come here for two reasons.”
“Yes…first and foremost, I wanted to speak to your brother to hear his take on current events. You see, with the deaths of Gilgamesh and Zoltek, and the deaths of their Dragon Lords, the Kulshedrans and Zmajans are no longer killing each other; they are working for peace, well…at least the Kulshedrans are, but that brings us to a meeting I had with Sahni. She and Sirokai are still amicable,” Scar asked. Borta nodded, so he continued. “Good. She asked me to kill Donovan to end the fighting between Sudai and Eltanrof, and to provide her with the alliances she needs to keep her borders safe. On top of that, Labolas and N’Giwah enticed Jagongo and Longinus to forge an alliance with Sahni; the entire strategy was to secure peace across the southeastern countries, which is wonderful, but I had my own agenda—to kill all of the Dragons, thus providing balance across the world.”
“Killing the Dragons has had the opposite effect, though.”
Scar nodded, miserably. He glanced at some of the passersby; they didn’t appear to be eavesdropping, and Borta wasn’t concerned anyway, though he was frowning.
“Yes…to some extent; it looks as though killing one Dragon empowers the people following the others. No doubt, you’ve noticed that.”
“At any rate, I’m hoping your brother is willing to hand over the gem he uses to communicate with Scultone. When we were in Alduheim, and I spoke of gems used to commune with Dragons, you claimed no knowledge of the fact,” Scar said, eyeing his friend.
“I was not aware that the gem in question was the gem lodged in Skullcrusher until recently.”
“A sacred hammer passed down to the eldest son. We believe it to be an ancient relic used to defeat the Dragons. Now we are aware it is far more than that.”
“Hmm,” Scar mused and pursed his lips. “You know…it seems that every gem has been lodged inside a weapon or piece of armor. I wonder if those were all artifacts used in the wars. Do you recall in Alduheim the man who killed Drac?”
“The warrior with the lance?”
“Yes. There, he placed a red gem inside it, and as you can see,” Scar said, turning to show the sword on his back, “they all fit within my blade. It has thirteen holes; one for each gem.”
“So, you require all of the gems?”
“They are instrumental in killing the Dragons. I recently killed Gyo and Zmaj, and like when I killed Kulshedra, their souls entered the gem…besides, placing the gem inside my blade brings me to the Dragon’s realm.”
“Interesting, but,” Borta trailed off. Scar gauged him; he looked pensive. “If the gems hold the Dragons’ souls then how have they returned to influence men? When Drac died at Alduheim, did not his soul enter the gem?”
Scar’s face twitched in shock and wonder. “An appropriate question. I am unsure, but I do not recall Drac disintegrating when the soldier killed him.”
“The Dragons have disintegrated when you killed them,” Borta asked; a wave of uncertainty flashed across his brow. Scar nodded. “Fascinating. There is so much we do not know….”
“Truth, but I was wishing to discuss these matters with Sirokai; I am glad to be talking with you instead, as you have seen the irrefutable proof.”
“Indeed, so tell me more of your plans.”
Scar explained what had happened on the way to Eltanrof. He also added that he was unable to find Drac’s gem, but clarified Artimis’s claims of the Eltanrof hierarchy. He ended his explanation, stating that he had come to ask for Scultone’s gem without bloodshed, and finally explained that he was the Dragon Slayer, a creature forged only to bring peace to the world.
“And if we cannot hand it to you,” Borta asked after a brooding moment.
“I have no wish to kill anyone. Neither you nor your brother have done me wrong. Your country has not attacked anyone. I am only asking for the gem.”
“If you kill Scultone, we will lose our blessing, and the other countries will grow stronger.”
“Yes…and I had hoped Drac would be dead and the Dracos powerless by now, but I have failed to deliver, and I will not subject your people to harm, but I must have that gem,” Scar heaved. “However, I do not wish to receive it at this time….” Borta arched a brow. “I said there were two reasons I came here…you certainly recall the Paladin of Mekosh, Ylithia?”
“Word was you two were in love, but Kulshedrans killed her.”
“Yes…and that’s why I killed Gilgamesh, but someone suggested I might ask Sahni to bring her back to life; I yet hold Kulshedra’s gem, and as we know, the souls of those defeated by worshippers of a Dragon go to that Dragon; Kulshedra has her soul, but I have his, and so we wondered if she could be returned, but the rana said she was unable to help…she then suggested a man named Kiechiv.”
Borta’s ears twitched. Frowning, he took a long inhalation. He then paced.
“You know of this man,” Scar pried.
“They say his power rivals that of my brother; he is perhaps the most talented necromancer, but he is a madman…a twisted man. When my grandfather ruled, he banished Kiechiv from the castle; this was, oh, nearly eighty years ago. I don’t even know if Kiechiv lives, but if he does, there is only one place he will be.”
“There is an islet off the eastern coast. He used to live there.”
“I must see him,” Scar said and placed a hand on Borta’s shoulder.
Nodding, Borta returned a sad smile. “I cannot imagine the death of a lover, and I have some questions that man might answer as well, if he lives…I will take you to him.”
“Yes, but we must leave immediately. No one must know I have gone to see him, lest I arouse suspicions. I’ll spread word that I have taken you to the shrine of death; it is an old mausoleum said to bless those who unwaveringly worship Scultone; nonsense if you ask me, but it won’t raise doubts.”
“And what of your brother?”
“Leave Sirokai to me,” Borta sighed. “You there,” he called to a servant. “See Scar to the kitchen and prepare him food and drink.”
The Scultonian nodded and took Scar to the kitchen. While a special meal of fried shark was prepared, the warrior sat at a table in the adjoining dining room. He then ate and drank to his heart’s content. A while later, Borta returned to give a simple motion of the head.
He took them through a tower and out of the castle. By the light of torches, they walked to a short dock etched from a flattened and smoothed boulder. Three, small ships were tied to the stone. The Scultonian climbed into one and Scar followed. Without saying a word, the prince undid the ropes, took a paddle, handed one to Scar, and they started away.
Though the winds were gusty and the sea was choppy, their boat was comprised of long pieces of wood, which were nailed over one another, thus when one board twisted, the others compensated. Scar praised the craftsmanship.
“It is a Slibinish design. They have vessels called dragon ships….”
“From where does this wood come? Are there trees here?”
“There are some,” Borta replied. Once they were a ways out from the castle, the prince stood to unfurl a sail. It was reinforced by a network of ropes. “The trees here are wispy things, but we have been trading with Eltanrof for ages; they provide us timber and soil, and we provide them steel.”
“I see….” As Borta struggled with the tiller, the winds flurried. Debris sprayed the men as did the sea. Squinting, Scar tried to guess where they were going, but through the darkness, he saw nothing, so he turned to his friend. “Do you see in the dark?”
“To some extent,” Borta sighed. “Only the Tiamatish truly see in the dark, but Scultonians and Bollans aren’t as hindered as the rest of the tribes.”
“How long will we be at sea?”
“We won’t truly be at sea. I’ll just skirt the shore then sail around the rocks. We’ll arrive by morning. In the meantime, I’d like to know about the Gods.”
“What about them?”
“Have you not had more contact with them?”
Scar wracked his brain, trying to remember if he had told Borta of his meeting with Silwen. He thought that he did, that perhaps, back at Alduheim sometime after witnessing the memory of Dragons, he and N’Giwah had openly spoke of it, but he wasn’t sure.
“There is not much to say,” Scar finally replied. “Apart from speaking to Silwen, I have no direct contact with them, but recently I prayed…I saved a child from a burning home, and the Gods sent rain to keep us safe, but which God? I do not know….”
“What of the Dragons?”
“The dead ones…what did they look like?”
“Oh…well…Kulshedra was a great, misty beast—hard to explain, really. It was just, I don’t know, swirls of mist that resembled scales. Zmaj was like a bunch of serpents all intertwined, and Gyo was an immense snake, but he had legs, like animal legs, and his face was sort of like a lion, but longer.”
“How strange…I wonder what Scultone looks like,” Borta breathed.
Scar shrugged. The darkness was unnerving. Nothing more was said for hours. The squeaks of the vessel coupled with gusts of wind and sloshes of waves drowned away even thoughts. The warrior closed his eye and rubbed it with the heel of his hand before wiping some grime from it. After an hour or so, the wind carried the sound of chatter and laughter; they were not too far from the docks, and Scar made out the shapes of vessels. Tiny spheres of torchlight glowed through the opaque darkness of the death wind.
Blurb- Gods, Dragons, a mercenary with a blade and no memory of his past…. The world of Tiamhaal is alight in war. Men ruled by kings slay their opposition in the name of their God, but there are others who claim the Gods are little more than scorned Dragons of ages past. Scar has come to find the truth, but is the truth an absolute certainty, or is it just the skewed memory of a forgotten kingdom?
My Rating- 5 Meows. It’s the Cat’s P.J.s!!!
Omg! I was not expecting this kind of story from The Dragon of Time, Gods and Dragons.
Yes, It’s an action-packed, fantasy adventure, and yes, there’s a ton of action right at the beginning, a ton, but it seems to me that it was used to portray how savage the Zmajans are compared to the rest of the people of Tiamhaal. Meow-kay…let me back up!
Scar is a mercenary. He is amnesiac, but can handle a blade better than anyone. He only wants to learn of his origins, and so Zoltek, king of the Zmajans—people who are in the worship of Zmaj, the All God, hires Scar to fight the Kulshedrans, people who worship the God of Truth, and in exchange, Zoltek is supposed to ask Zmaj about Scar, but…but…but…things are not simple.
Sigh, they never are, especially when big, burly, bald, muscley dudes are swingin’ swords at their enemies….
So, like, if you read the blurb, it hints at the fact that the Gods being worshipped might not be Gods, right? And it’s, like, called Gods and Dragons, so spoiler alert, most of the people in the world are unknowingly worshipping Dragons! They don’t even know it!
Here’s the deal, Scar doesn’t really care about whatever he needs to do, so long as he can learn of his origins, but after a betrayal, he actually switches sides, and he starts fighting for King Gilgamesh of Satrone, worshipper of Kulshedra, but this is before anyone figures out that some of the Gods are Dragons, and then things just get down right crazy-cat!
I won’t spoil the story because you have to read it. There’s a reason this fantasy “tail” of epic-cat proportions has mucho great reviews, and I guess it won some kind of contest, too, but listen to this reading, and then get this book.
Gods and Dragons, or I guess The Dragon of Time, there’s a sequel out, so the series is The Dragon of Time series, and this is where it’s at. This is the new fantasy series, and it’s all about Dragons, and Gods, and emotions, and turmoil. I’ll be diving right into the next fantasy book, Dragon Slayer, so read this book, and we can chat about it!
Blurb- Melanie Hamilton brings home the bacon by inking tattoos at New Orleans’s Mansion at Mystic Isle, a resort in the middle of the bayou that caters to fans of the peculiar and paranormal. But when a guest of the resort, a millionaire’s widow, is poisoned, and Melanie’s close friend is arrested for the murder, things go from hectic to downright dangerous.
Genre- Romance? Supernatural thriller? Mystery?
My rating- Didn’t finish it 😦 Belongs in the litter box
Here’s Mystic Mayhem in a nutshell. Mel works as a tattoo artist in a renovated mansion done up for parlor tricks; Voodoo rituals, seances, dark performances, etc. The mansion caters to rich people who want to believe in the spirits of the dead floating all around, and just anyone into the “dark” arts.
Mel is hot for an employee named Jack, and her best friend, Cat, also works there. Early on in the book, Mel’s friend, Fabrizio, who does seances, as a parlor trick, is hired to perform a ceremony to contact the spirit of a rich widow’s husband. During the ceremony, the old woman dies, and when authorities investigate, they eventually, after a slow, tortuous process sans any real investigation, come to believe Cat was the killer, even though if they had dusted for prints, which they didn’t seem to do during the time they spent in the seance room, the room they didn’t even bother to cordon off, they would not have found Cat’s prints because she was never in the room, nor did she handle the clams or the plate on which the clams were served, which are the supposed murder weapon, and even if she had touched anything, everybody else would be a suspect, too, including the chef, who was instantly eliminated….
I was quite a few chapters in Mystic Mayhem before Cat becomes the lead the suspect, but for me, it just doesn’t add up. Apart from the overly flowery and metaphorical writing–everything is a metaphor or a simile. Everything is like something else–this is a direct recounting of things that happen before they happen, as they happen, and again after they happen. I just didn’t like it.
She fell in step beside me as we double-timed it along the riverfront walkway to where the dedicated ferryboat for The Mansion at Mystic Isle bobbed against the old-fashioned wooden dock. We jumped onto the brightly painted flat-bottom boat with a few minutes to spare.
George, the ferry conductor, swept off his Mystic Isle cap, offered a toothy smile, and gave us an exaggerated bow. “Miss Hamilton,” he drawled. “Miss Gabor. Glorious mornin’, ladies. Dat f’sure.”
Mid-July. It wasn’t noon yet, and the temp had already climbed to the high eighties. There wasn’t even the slightest breeze, and the humidity was no less than killer. You almost had to pull the air apart like a curtain just to walk through it. Yep, a glorious day, all right. My T-shirt clung to me like wet wallpaper. The light complexion that went along with my strawberry-blonde hair wasn’t ideal for life in a place where the sun beat down like my own personal heat lamp. I was thankful for the ferry’s canopy.
While I was sweating like a hooker in a front-row church pew, Catalina bestowed a smile on George that was cool as aspring mist over a clear lake. No wonder he was nuts about her.
The only other passengers were a few of the dinner kitchen staff and the hotel’s voodoo priestess (her official title) who ran the Who-do Voodoo We-do Shop at The Mansion.
The Mansion at Mystic Isle was where Cat and I worked. Located in Jefferson Parish across the Mississippi from New Orleans at the edge of a bayou, the main building was an old plantation house set among cypress trees and expansive green lawns. It had been handed down through the Villars family for centuries. Not all that long ago, Harry Villars, the down-on-his-luck, but no less genteel and stylish owner, had the brilliant idea to turn his liability into an asset by repurposing the place into a resort where folks dedicated to the supernatural and all kinds of magic could come and get their creep on.
The Mansion was decorated like the haunted house we’ve all seen at that theme park—you know the one. Ours was similar—creepy organ music when you crossed the threshold, drafty hallways, creaky doors, secret passages, even fake cobwebs. The whole shebang, chère. Harry Villars sank every cent he had into it and crossed his fingers that the place would raise him to the ranks of the solvent—then he hired all of us, a complete cast of soothsayers and charlatans, to convince hotel guests the supernatural stuff that went on at The Mansion was the real deal. But just between you, me, and the gators, it’s not.
Cat was the gypsy fortune-teller, and did she ever look the part. Flashing dark eyes, long, flowing locks the color of cappuccino. Her lips always looked as if they were stained persimmon without any lip-gloss, and her size Ds were nothing short of a masterpiece. When she left our apartment in the French Quarter to head to work, she dressed like any regular twenty-eight-year-old knockout, but once her shift began at the resort, she was decked out in layers of gauzy jewel tones and bling, lots and lots of bling.
Me? I was the designated artist at The Mansion’s Dragons and Deities Tattoo Parlor. My work costume was a slinky black gown with a V-neck, empire waist, and a big stand-up collar that fanned all the way around the back of my neck from one collar bone to the other. I think the effect was intended to be darkly glamorous, but most days I felt more like the Count von Count Muppet than Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I would have preferred that free and easy Stevie Nicks look Cat pulled off, but it wasn’t in the cards—not when I was forced to wear a full bib apron on top of that gorgeous creation to avoid spraying ink all over it.
When I walked out of college with my degree in fine arts, I never would have suspected tattoos would be my groceries, and I still don’t consider myself to be your typical tattoo girl. No leather bustier or nose ring, and the only tattoo on this girl’s milky skin is a tiny Tinker Bell on my right shoulder.
(Here I have to interrupt the excerpt- as a lover of tattoos, I can tell you a fine arts degree won’t get you working in a tattoo parlor. Holding a vibrating piece of metal that needles into moving, human flesh is an art for which you have to apprentice! A skill set not all extrapolated from oil paintings on canvas, which Mel does.)
The boat motor revved. The signal horn blew, and the ferry pulled out into the strong draft of the mighty Mississippi River, brown as liquid chocolate and churning like a whirlpool. Cat and I leaned against the railing, shoulder to shoulder, and I turned my face into the wind created by the movement of the boat. It cooled me off a little.
“You look nice today,” Cat said.
Oh. My makeup must not have been running down my face like melting Häagen-Dazs yet. “Thanks, Cat. So do you.”
“Well,” she said without the slightest bit of arrogance, “I look nice every day.”
I nodded. When you’re right, you’re right.
“You hoping to run into Cap’n Jack, girl?” Her voice was sly.
I bumped her shoulder with mine. “You pokin’ fun at me?” It was true. I had taken extra care with my makeup and hair that morning. Some VIPs were checking in at Mystic Isle today, and I knew the manager, Jack Stockton, would be up front and present to take care of them.
“Poking fun at you? No, girl, no way. Settin’ your cap for a man like that is some serious stuff.”
A man like that.
Jack Stockton—Cat and I had taken to calling him Cap’n Jack—was the recently hired general manager at The Mansion on Mystic Isle. The story was he had been the golden boy moving up the corporate ladder at an international chain’s premier property in the Big Apple when disaster struck. The hotel chain’s CEO had arrived in New York from Frankfurt for a look-see at his crown jewel. The grapevine rumored that Jack Stockton met a stunning blonde with a provocative Marlene Dietrich accent at the hotel lounge. The two hit off and wound up back at his place. The next morning Jack discovered the blonde was the boss’s twenty-five-year-old bride of only six weeks. They didn’t even let him clean out his desk, and once the story got around, poor Jack couldn’t even walk into a hotel without turning every head in the place. At least in the Big Apple.
But New York was a far cry from the Big Easy.
The Mansion at Mystic Isle was just getting a foothold, and the idea of having a man as capable yet desperate for work as Jack Stockton sat just right with Harry Villars, who needed someone with monster talent to manage his supernatural resort project. The weird goings-on, unusual clientele, bizarre employees, and rumors of hauntings at our beloved place of employment had already driven off three general managers. I had high hopes for Jack.
He was smart, experienced, and would probably do whatever it took to make the place a success. And besides, Harry Villars was gay. It wasn’t likely Jack would get caught in bed with Harry’s significant other, my good friend the Great Fabrizio. Still, Jack would need every bit of skill and cunning he could muster to get this albatross on solid ground. I think Ifell in love with him the first time he lifted that chiseled chin and showed me that smile.
Saying Cap’n Jack was easy on the eyes was an understatement of Biblical proportion. Dark eyes, slightly almond-shaped. Smooth, swarthy skin. Full lips that slid easily into a lopsided sexy smile and short, dark hair my fingers itched to lace themselves into. The Fifth Avenue suits he wore to work every day appeared tailor-made to fit his athletic body but still somehow looked out of place on him. My mind’s eye insisted on imagining him in boots, jeans, and muscle shirts. And when he came to me in my dreams, he wore a lot less.
He was a really nice guy whose New York ways made him a duck in the desert among the laid-back, slow-talking New Orleanians, Cajuns, and swamp rats at Mystic Isle.
On his first day at The Mansion Jack stood in front of the entire staff and told his tale about the consequences of looking for love in all the wrong places. He made sure we laughed at what had to be a difficult and embarrassing incident in his life and made us all as comfortable with him as he was with himself. Honesty and good humor were just about the two sexiest traits a man could have. And Jack had both—in spades.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked his sophisticated style, so much that whenever he even walked into the room, I came apart like a house of cards in a wind tunnel. At least that was how I felt. He made me warm and cold, excited and nervous, happy and scared all at the same time.
The whole story is rather choppy. Mel and Cat get to a place. Then, the writer sets up the event by explaining everything. Then, Mel and Cat go there to experience the event, they stop, and the writer tells me about everyone. and their business, and their history, and everything else, which has nothing to do with the actual story or the events taking place. I did not like this story at all. Every time I was about to get into it, it stopped, and the writer told me everything about everything before the event happened, so what was the point? Blech!
Like I said at the beginnning, I actually didn’t finish it, which is pretty rare for me, but I just couldn’t make whiskers or tails out of this thing. Was it a comedy? A romance novel? A supernatural tale? Some kind of mixture? Mixing genres is fine, when it works. It didn’t matter what it was, because it wasn’t really a story, a book, it was someone prattling on about their day as though I could project my feeling into theirs, and I just couldn’t.
I didn’t feel any suspense, any love, any fear, nothing. This story was words on a page, like a friend trying to act out a movie she’d seen by telling me all about it, and then stopping the story to tell me about why something was the way it was. Really, blech.
As always, when I don’t like something, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Here’s a review by someone who did like it-
What a fun mystery! And it’s set in my favorite city to visit, NOLA! Well, technically most of it is in the imaginary Mystic Isle Resort, but it’s still on the bayou. The characters are just too much fun, and the humor is excellent. The mystery plot is well executed with many interesting twists, and the locale descriptions are clear. The publisher’s blurb is adequate and is no spoiler. Looking forward to the next book with great anticipation!
I don’t know about the above book review. If you ask me, this person didn’t read it, but take a chance…if you dare! Mwahahahaha!
Teacher Misery perfectly encapsulates the comical misery that has become the teaching profession. Morris’ strange, funny, and sometimes unbelievable teaching experiences are told through a collection of short stories, essays and artifacts including real emails from parents, students and administrators.
Genre- Non-fiction, memoirs
My Rating- 4.5 Meows nearly purrrfect
The first thing I have to point out is the arrogance of the writer, who claims: “I have advanced degrees and know how to properly write and edit”, yet she starts numerous sentences with conjunctions, which I believe to be incorrect. I would not have even touched on this, since it is the only technical problem throughout the entire book, but the fact that she claims to understand proper writing and editing merited my nitpicking, but it’s only nitpicking. Oh, and all the rave reviews are right at the beginning of the book, so you must acknowledge how great the writer is before your endeavor….
Pomp aside, Teacher Misery: Helicopter Parents, Special Snowflakes and Other Bullshit is actually very well written and structured, and most importantly, entertaining. It is basically a compilation of trials and tribulations met during the course of a teaching career. Some events are funny, some understandably frustrating, and some are downright horrifying, and this book has given me a new appreciation for teachers.
I think it’s a natural assumption to believe teachers don’t have to put with much, but they really do. Parent e-mails, unruly students, stupid staff members, ridiculous PC rules, and other nonsense can certainly drive a person mad, especially when paired with crappy pay, but the book is much more than that. It artfully points out facets of ridiculousness most would never impart onto a teaching career, like other peoples’ views, which one does not normally have to consider…unless that “one” is a teacher!
I honestly don’t have much to say on this book, not because it was lacking in any area. As I said, it’s well written (aside from my cat peeve of beginning a sentence with a conjunction, which is employed specifically to tie together two ideas in ONE SINGLE SENTENCE). It’s informative, and entertaining, but this isn’t the kind of book I normally read, you know, one with, like, a plot, a cast of characters on an adventure, a bad guy with which they deal. This is a collection of events, a collection of life experiences, but Morris certainly gets the job done, so I’ll say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it to the point that I had to force myself to stop in order to get my own stuff done!
Really, anyone who wants to be informatively entertained, and especially on the tribulations of teaching pitted against the simple-mindedness of know-it-alls, should read this wonderful book. Maybe, the rave reviews at the beginning aren’t so bad, but I think they belong in the back, or, like, on the back, like the back cover, but I digress….
Here’s an excerpt, and I chose this one because I know some of you probably think I’m a furry, but I want to clarify that I am not a cat, I am a human, and I don’t have a fursona. I just really like cats, but do enjoy the excerpt. It’s furrr-ightfully funny!
I have had the interesting experience of teaching “furry” students. For those of you who don’t know what a furry is (I certainly didn’t before I had them as students), allow me to explain. According to Wikipedia, “Furry Lifestylers” refers to a group of people who have “important emotional/spiritual connections with an animal or animals, real, fictional or symbolic.” Being an animal lover myself, this seemed like something I could relate to. But this goes way beyond loving animals. Furries see themselves as “other than human” and “desire to become more like the furry species that they identify with.” I mean, I really love dogs. Some might even say I’m obsessed with them. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be one.
Furries take their furriness very seriously. They feel a deep kinship with a certain animal, and dress like that animal all the time, even at school. Many wear parts of the animal such as the ears and tail, or fake paws and an animal head. Each furry has a “fursona” or set of animal personality traits, which they use to role play in various forms, on the internet or at conventions, for example. These conventions, such as Anthrocon or ConFurence, draw thousands of people who share similar interests.
My first furry came to school on the first day wearing white ears and a long white tail pinned to the seat of his pants. It was so long that it dragged on the floor, picking up dust mites and other debris. I wasn’t sure what his deal was, so I didn’t ask himabout what he was wearing. He offered that information for the class soon after.
I paired the students up and asked them to interview each other as a typical first day of school activity. The poor girl who was partners with the furry had a hard time keeping a straight face during the interview. Next the students had to introduce their partners to the class. They merely had to share the names, nicknames and hobbies of their partner. When it was time for the furry and his partner to present, they both stood up. The girl turned bright red before she spoke. “This is Herbert. He likes to be called… umm… Zorra. He says he’s a fox and-” Here Herbert interrupted with an irritated clarification. “I’m a silver fox.” She held back a laugh and said, “He’s a silver fox and is also… umm… He’s pansexual? That’s it.” At that point, most of the class was laughing. Herbert was extremely annoyed. I tried to defuse the situation by asking a few clarifying questions.
“Herbert I think we are just a little confused. What do you mean when you say that you are a silver fox?” He took a deep breath and said, “I embody the spirit of a silver fox.” The class was silent and waiting for my reaction. I calmly responded. “Okay, and what does it mean to be pansexual? I’ve never heard that word before.” He was slightly less aggravated now that he saw I was merely curious and seeking knowledge. “Pansexual means that it’s possible for me to be attracted to anyone.”
I quickly realized that I had gotten myself into a sticky situation, and I should have just moved on to the next group. But I was genuinely curious. “So it’s like someone who is bisexual?” I said, giving the class a serious look that meant theyshould not laugh. “No,” he said. “I’m pansexual. I don’t subscribe to labels. I’m just attracted to whoever I’m attracted to, regardless of what gender or species they identify with.” Another kid yelled out, “That means he’s gay!” Before I could answer, another kid said, “No! That means he has sex with animals!”
“Okay, that’s enough. Thank you for sharing Herbert and for being so open with the class. I appreciate it, and I learned something new today.” Before he sat down he said, “Yeah I’d just like to say one thing. I’m sick of being called Cat Boy. I am not a cat; I am a silver fox! These are two very different animal spirits.” Another kid yelled out, “Whatever Cat Boy!” and Herbert sat down with his arms crossed in anger.
The next day I met Herbert’s furry girlfriend. Her name was Alice, but she insisted on being called Loculo, which is Latin for “coffin.” She would not answer if you called her anything but Loculo. Loculo wore ears and a tail, but she also wore fake paw gloves. She refused to have anyone interview her, and she introduced herself to the class. She said that she was a wolf trapped inside a girl’s body and that she identified with a gray wolf in almost every way. She also said that she is very selective about her “pack mates” and relates mostly to herbivores. No one questioned her or said a word, including me. Something told me that for this student, her “fursona” wasn’t just a phase.
A few classes later I gave the students an assignment to create a fictional, future biography with an illustrated cover. This exercise was meant to be a way for them to picture what they might be successful at and well-known for later in life. I hadthem share their covers. Many students had silly, unrealistic drawings and ideas, but they had a lighthearted approach when sharing with the class. When Loculo shared her cover, the fear in the room was palpable. She stood up and showed the following drawing.
There is a drawing in the book at this point, which I can’t show, but you get the idea!
Cayneian is more gory than Dead Rising, and that should say it all….
Blurb- A man stands resolved. Dysart, clan Bloodhammer, has returned to the island of Volgunther to purge it of the evil called Salamandrus. He has given his tongue, so that he may speak no contracts. He has given his manhood, so that he may not know his power as a man. He has given his mind, so that no God may take pity upon him.
Wielding the forbidden power of Sang Daemanus, Dysart imbibes the blood of Daemons to cast his spells, to grow his strength, to fuel his powers, but will he be able to stave off the bloodlust before the evils upon the island claim him?
Genre- Fantasy? Horror? Absolute freaking gore fest???
My Rating- 3.5 Meows ’cause I’m a scaredy cat!
M’yeah, turn Dead Rising into a horror fantasy based on a blood drinking brute who has been granted daemonic powers, which he uses to battle the very daemons that gave them to him!!!
So, what’s the problem with the story? It was just very, very gory. I have read Dennis stories before, as you all know, and like his writing style very much, but this book was a little different.
First, it had a bit more of an archaic tone, but this is fantasy, so that’s fine, and I actually enjoyed that aspect very much. A breath of foul air considering the YA fantasy I’ve read lately, but there was too much action, and too much blood spattering, entrail pulling, skull crushing gore!
If you have a weak stomach, stay away. I literally fought off a few gags and cringed once or twice. It’s that descriptive.
That’s it, though, the gore and heavy action slowed the story down. I’d suggest cutting a few pages of that brutality from the story, but gore fans, go for it!
Here’s the story: Dysart, a descendant of the original inhabitants of the island of Volgunther has reached the island, from God knows where, to cleanse of the evil that lives within its bowels, the daemon Salamandrus, a daemon born of flame, but which for some reason grants the powers of Sang Daemanus, which is, like, ritualistic, satanic, blood magic, so yeah, a wicked bad “tail”.
On the island, the daemon, who seems to be trapped somehow, still has influence. It sends waves of monsters to terrorize the unfortunate people who crash upon the island’s shores, and they can never leave because monsters even inhabit the sea, and there is constantly terrible weather, and the sun never rises!!!
Dysart meets other stalwart men and women who wish to fight the daemon, but only Dysart has found a way to free the daemon, so that he can kill it.
I honestly don’t even to know how to feel about the story. It’s very, um, bitter sweet? The writing is immaculate. The story’s idea is unique. The characters are absolutely wonderful. The scenery is totally frightening. The monsters are crazy, but I was consistently slowed down by the level of violence and gore.
I will recommend this book to those of cast iron stomachs, but if you cringe from a paper cut, stay away. I mean, people, and monsters, are literally torn in half by Dysart’s daemonic strength and bare hands! Still, overall, it was a great story that I think will haunt me.
Here’s a review by someone who enjoyed it a little more than I did-
First, I have to state that this novel is loosely based on a Dennis short story called Expedition, but like really loosely based. Secondly, this is another fantasy, horror, slasher mix, and a wild one at that. There is a lot of action, and a ton of gore, there’s even a mildly intense sexual abuse scene, so beware.
The main character is Dysart, a member of the Cayne, the people that used live on the island of Volgunther, and oddly enough, he’s mute. His tongue was cut out before the story even started, but he can use magic to talk, but it isn’t really magic. it’s called branding and it’s all based on blood magic, something I’ve never heard of before.
Dysart is on a rather honorable quest though. He wants to kill the demon salamandrus who has not turned the island evil, he’s also the demon that gave Dysart the power of blood magic, so the whole story is really intense.
After Dysart crashes ashore, and all his men and gear are at the bottom of the sea, he meets an old ranger or scout, and learns that there used to be a town nearby, so Dysart goes off in search of the town because he needs blood and a plant to make a special magic, but when he gets to the town, it’s already destroyed, and there he meets my favorite character, the pyromancer Randall, who’s gay, no less, but that’s not really important.
Randall is looking for a gem or something, so the two become quick friends in order to travel safely to an abby, and there, they meet some knights that are trying to keep the isnald [island]safe. Well, undead attack, there’s a theif [thief]there, that Randall believes stole his gem, and then they all work together to kill the undead. After that, Randall, Dysart, the theif [thief] Pattius, and a knight called Marcus travel together in search of the knight’s barracks, the order of the cross, or the ordo et crucis.
It seems like tehre’s [there’s]a ton of latin involved because the knights are really just crusaders, and demon magic is called Sang Daemanus, or blood of demons, so it’s all very dark and sinister. I kept imagining something out of Spawn, really, like that real dark imagery. In fact, the sun never shines the entire time. It’s always night, but a new problem arises when Marcus leaves in fear for his sister, and then randall tries to kill Pattius, but Pattius ends up stabbing Randall and running off, so Dysart gets Randall to the barracks, and then when Randall gets healed, they journey by boat to make it to the plains where Dysart is supposed to be able to get the plant to make his magic. Of course a sea monster attacks, and they all get split up again.
Without trying to reveal too much, I have to say that while this was absolutley amazing story, one of the best I’ve ever read, there was a bit too much action and gore. Like every page there was fight scene, or almost every page. I think there were one or two chapters that didn’t have any action, but even so, the action is almost a neccesity because the island is evil and the demon unleashes a bunch of monsters to try to kill Dysart, so he has to fight his way to the castle where the demon is.
All in all, if your stomach isn’t too weak, this is a great book.
The farther east Dysart walked, the more difficult it was to hone in on the settlement’s glow. Something was obstructing its view. Feeling uneasy, he opted to skulk. Low to the ground and deliberately slow, he eased forwards.
After painstakingly crawling over small, grassy hills, he noticed a thick plume of smoke obscured the glow. Burned to the ground, no doubt. He narrowed his eyes in wonder of the forthcoming predicament.
Having no choice but to at least investigate, he skulked onwards. Over a handful more hills he saw—still from a distance—remnants of a township. Thick, black smoke rose from the charred buildings. Erratic flames crackled.
He waited patiently for a moment. Only a fool runs in lacking knowledge…and I’ve already blundered once. He saw nothing. There was no movement whatsoever, so he pressed closer, rounding the hills to avoid a direct approach. From behind a large stone, he scoured the scene.
Mangled corpses lay upon the soil. There were only a few dozen or so. It had not been a large town. Salamandrus did not allow for the flourishing of jubilation. A voice came upon him, carried by the wind. He squinted. Here’s something. A figure burst forth from the remnants of a wooden building. Smoldering flames lapped the structure’s floor behind it. Dysart observed.
“Too late,” the figure growled.
It was obviously a man’s voice. Whosoever he was, he crashed about quite brazenly, nearly frantically. Kicking wreckage about, and tossing flaming cloths, the man checked buildings. In the meantime, Dysart made a tedious approach.
A flurry of high-pitched howls halted his tracks. With axe in hand, he remained cautious. To his surprise, a dozen, short, wolf-like men scampered from the eastern hills. What manner of beasts are these?
Inner turmoil brewed. He was uncertain as to the beasts’ devices, but wondered over the man’s safety. Argh…I’d rather not see death come to anyone, but certainly, breaking the contract is my priority…if I get myself killed…. He allowed his thoughts to trail away, engrossing himself instead in observing how the mysterious man fared alone. He’s been here longer than I and survived. He must know there are beasts round this island.
His observations gave rise to new speculations. The brownish wolves, which ran on two legs with tail fluttering, barged into a building. A mere second later, they ran back out aflame. The man came from the building as well. From his hands, he flung balls of fire.
“C’mon dogs!” he cried out. “Are the little houndlings scared?” Upon impact, his fiery spells exploded to engulf the houndlings. Whimpers of pain and fear followed fire. “Ah, ha-ha-ha-hah!” the man cheered.
His hubris birthed a new predicament. While a portion of the houndlings had indeed sought him directly, more had circled round the smoky piles of rubble. One beast set upon the man’s back with a mighty leap. Its weight floored him, and the others joined in.
Dammit, Dysart cursed his benevolent heart. He ran, crashing through brush, over rock, and down the hill. Reaching the first houndling, he gripped dark, furry hide with his right hand. With his left, he brought the axe into the skull of the beast. Flinging it aside, he kicked another off the man, who rolled over, embraced a beast, and it erupted in flames. Coming to his feet, the fellow dropped the burning carcass before throwing a glance Dysart’s way. Two, more houndlings sidestepped, glaring and tiptoeing round the warriors.
One licked its snout and sniffed at the air. The other brandished claws before lunging forth with a full-bodied twitch of corded muscle. Dysart took a knee to drop to a better vantage point. He swung horizontally, spilling blood from the creature’s throat. It fell over dead as the other hopped into the air. The man with fire held both palms out. Billowing, orange blazes reduced the enemy to cinders.
Seemingly safe, the men looked upon each other; each wondered if the other was a threat. Dysart steadied himself. Can never be too cautious here. The man clad in bundles of black cloth eased back his hood. A surprisingly young face was revealed. The man had high cheekbones and angular features.
“I guess I owe you my gratitude,” he said.
The incandescent embers from the town’s remains cast a swaying glow about them. Dysart nodded then slipped his axe into his belt. The man offered his hand. The warrior scrutinized it with an arched brow.
“No fires,” the man joked with a smile. “My name is Randall.” Dysart shook his hand. “And you are…?”
He ignored him to search the wreckage. Randall gave a half-hearted shrug before following through the ruins of homes. Inside one building, Dysart’s foot went through the weakened lumber. He grunted in aggravation.
“Easy, mate,” Randall advised and lent support by lightly holding Dysart’s elbow. “What’s brought you out this way?”
A severed tongue in cheek remained his reply. Randall winced from slight irritation then placed his hands on his hips. Looking about, they spotted burned furniture and little else, so Dysart moved to another structure.
Much larger than the others, the building held immense tables and many chairs; evidence of a place for social gatherings. The long, yet smashed and charred counter with ruptured, smoldering barrels, identified it as a mead hall. Dysart kicked some of the rubble around. Got to hurry before the blood turns.
He grew impatient. Throwing splintered wood from behind the counter, he spotted an intact, glass bottle. Holding it aloft, the brown liquid inside sloshed around.
“Oh, there we are,” Randall said with a grin. He snatched the bottle from Dysart, popped out the cork, and quickly emptied its contents into his mouth. There was but a little left. “Apologies.” Randall wiped his lip then offered the rest to the scowling man. He made a motion with a hand to his mouth. “Right,” Randall beamed.
He finished the liquor. Dysart then motioned for the bottle and made a quick dash outdoors. Randall shrugged indifferently before deciding to run out after the stranger. Outside, he found the mute cradling a houndling.
From the ravaged throat, he collected several ounces of blood. Randall eyed him with distaste. Before he opened his mouth to ask a question, Dysart sank his teeth into the wound. Deep gulps of lukewarm blood drizzled down his gullet.
“Whoa,” Randall shouted. “What manner of man are you?”
Dysart winced then gave a roll of the eyes. He dipped a finger into the bloody throat hole of the beast. Then, with fresh blood, he scrawled the rune for speech on the side of his neck. Once more, the piercing scream emanated from everywhere then localized from within Dysart. Randall was in awe.
“Steady, Randall,” Dysart growled. “I’m the descendant of this island’s original inhabitants. My…practices require copious amounts of blood.”
Randall was speechless. He followed as Dysart dragged the wolf indoors. Utilizing a smashed crate as a chair, he continued the draining process. Soon the bottle was filled and he replaced the cork.
“Are you, are you really one of the Cayne?”
“What’s brought you here?”
Dysart gazed into his eyes. After an obliging frown, he glanced at his newly recovered wounds then wiped blood from his mouth and replied.
“I watched in horror as the practice of Sang Daemanus twisted my people. This power is nearly limitless, but,” he trailed off with a look into the darkness through the damaged wall. With a deep breath through the nostrils, Dysart rubbed his ribs. The blemish had vanished and his mood livened. “It changes us. Animal blood is effective, if weak. Human blood is potent, if unsavory…but Daemon’s blood…Daemon’s blood makes us unstoppable.”
“Daemon’s blood?” Randall whispered. “Is there such a thing?”
“Of course there is, and though rare, we have ways for which to come by it…awful methods. Here, however, it would seem it is rampant,” he replied with a shake of the bottle.
“You think those wolves Daemons?”
“I don’t think it. Their blood proves it. Already, it courses through me. Now, I’ve been wondering since your display. What’s brought you here?”
Randall smiled then chuckled. He sat next to Dysart, though there was little room. Their shoulders touched.
“Oh-ho, you think perhaps it was I who started this town aflame?” he retorted. Dysart did not smile. Randall nodded, knowingly. “Certainly, one might think such,” he answered then stood before continuing. “No, alas, I assume the very same thing that’s brought you here. I was told there was a settlement. When I arrived to find it reduced to ashes, I decided to seek out whatever useful tools may remain intact.”
“Are there many people on this island?”
“Not sure, friend,” he whispered. “I’ve been here some time. Though with no sun, it is difficult to discern how long.”
“I might use your help,” Dysart said.
Randall lowered his eyes to Dysart’s. Embers glowed within the young man’s very soul. A strange power this boy carries.
“We might all provide help to one another, but…most here are lacking resolve. The island has bested them,” Randall fretted.
“I feel this rune of speech will fade soon. Though forged of Daemon’s blood, without esper oil, it cannot last long. My grandfather suggested the esper leaf was once abundant on this island. Have you heard of it?”
“Hmm,” the young man tapped his index finger against his cocked mouth. “I think the cleric may have your answer. She…is not altogether well, however.”
“Take me to this cleric. Without the proper reagent, there is no possibility of my reaching Salamandrus, the evil which presides from beneath this island,” Dysart demanded.
“Blast, I had not planned on backtracking. Nevertheless, I owe you for saving me. Let us rest and restock. Surely, these homes have some supplies intact.”
The rune upon Dysart’s body sizzled then evaporated. He took the dagger from his belt, and with it, neatly removed the longest, sharpest tooth from the beast.
“What’s that for?”
Dysart did not reply. After a moment’s respite, they stomped through the remaining homes. Some of them still bore flaming tapestries from their rooves. It was a mystery how the fires originated, but on the island, the most likely answer was simply Salamandrus. Perhaps, because the men were thankful for what little light the dying embers provided, a heavy rain set in and left them in complete darkness. The steady rapping of large droplets grew obscenely loud.
Randall, drenched, held quivering arms about his torso and shouted over the rain, “We’ll freeze to death.”
Remaining undaunted by the dark, the rain, and the cold, Dysart secured some hard, leather canteens, twine, and fresh clothing. After stuffing it all in a newly found travel pack, he turned to Randall. Practically indistinguishable from the surrounding darkness, the pyromancer raised his black hood. A voice in the darkness was all that remained of him.
“This rain probably won’t let up. We need to set our feet to the northwest. It’s a hike, but hopefully the movement will keep us warm. Come now.”
He crashed blindly through the damaged home. His awkward steps were in part to wearing clothing burdened by rain and in part to shivering uncontrollably. Dysart, however, did not shiver; drinking blood—and Daemon’s blood in particular—made him nearly impervious to all manners of affliction.
Reaching the outdoors, Randall oriented himself then set off. They marched steadily through sloppy mud, over and down hills, for many an hour. The rain, as Randall had predicted, did not lessen by any means.
Weary muscles forced groans from the pyromancer. Occasionally, he stumbled. Not Dysart; every step was a firmly planted stride. When a structure in the darkness drew his attention, he gripped Randall by his clothing. Startled, the young man relinquished a gasp.
“What is it?” he spoke into Dysart’s ear.
Daemon’s blood gave more than resistance to affliction, it also provided the imbiber heightened perception, better hearing, better sight. Dysart had spotted a den, a large hole dug into the bottom of a boulder. He dragged Randall along then gave a grunt while pointing.
Randall howled, and with a flaming display, shot plumes of fire at the den. The firelight revealed it was devoid of beasts.
“Clean. I don’t see any remains either,” he shouted. “Good sight, friend. How did you ever see it through this damnable darkness?”
They scurried into the den. It was a small space. Even scrunched together with their knees to their chests, their feet remained under rainfall. At least the water flowed away from the depression. Randall produced dried meat from a satchel he kept beneath his robes.
“Well,” he started while munching, “won’t be too much longer before we enter Etmire Abbey. Sometimes there are others there. They call themselves the Order of the Cross or Ordo et Crucis. The Abbey is a sort of refuge on this damnable place. Now that the town has been obliterated, it might bode well to return.
“Truthfully, I came from there only recently. You see, a thief has lightened my burden in a most inappropriate manner. I thought he might have passed through the town. Perhaps, meeting you is a boon. Ah, who knows?”
After chomping incessantly at the dried meat, Randall grew quiet, but the rain continued crashing down around them.
Blurb- The Kinship rides victorious into the small village of Minhaven, just in time to celebrate the Winter Festival. Their leader, Glak, brings with him both hope and spoils from battle, but also some distressing news. Though Minhaven’s greatest threat has finally been defeated, a new one is emerging to take its place.
The enemy Glak describes has not been seen in hundreds of years, yet somehow it has been haunting Elowyn’s dreams. Has Braeden’s cruel reach followed her from Tyroc’s troubled borders into this remote wilderness? If so, there is no place left to run, and the Kinship is preparing to fight an enemy more sinister and powerful than they can possibly imagine.
Past becomes present, as prophecies long buried continue to emerge, revealing their truth to the coming generation. The Era of Peace has ended. The Era of Awakening has begun. While Morganne seeks guidance from the crumbling pages of ancient tomes, Elowyn tries to find her place within a community for the first time.
Despite the impending danger, Morganne and Elowyn decide to make their stand with the people of Minhaven. As they plunge into the depths of history, prophecy, the wilderness, love, fear, hope, faith…the girls begin to learn more about who they are, and who Aviad is calling them to be.
Genre- Young Adult Fantasy
My Rating- 2.5 Meows room for im-purrrr-ovement
The story picks up with Elowyn and Morganne. After Journey to Aviad they settled down in Minhaven, a township in the mountains. During the winter festival some warriors show up to share in the rejoicing. Everything seems quite nice, despite Elowyn’s frightening and prophetic dream.
As it turns out, the beasts from her dream had begun to attack a neighboring community. Worse, they are related to the Hounds of Alazoth, and to Braeden. Glak, the warrior of Minhaven, even claims that the beasts may be from a different time, from the days of the Prophet.
There isn’t too much more to tell without spoiling the story. I’m sad to say that I enjoyed Ancient Voices a little less than Journey to Aviad, maybe even a lot less. Even though I still love Elowyn as a character, her fright, her determination, her willfulness, too often were the times that absolutely nothing was happening. There was a lack of action on Elowyn’s part even though her sister, Morganne has a bigger role.
In the end, I think if about 50 pages were cut from this book, it would have hit me a lot harder. Instead, it seemed to me like a friend droning on about mundane details rather than providing me with factual accounts of events, or even worse, it seems like the other characters, the warriors, are going off, seeking adventure, and then they recount the adventures to Elowyn, and then Reid recounts it to me.
Here’s an excerpt from a chapter I enjoyed. I still found it too interpretive, which demeaned the excitement-
Morganne might have comforted herself with the thought that this tome contained nothing more than the overly imaginative ravings of a crazed monk. But she knew all too well that the prophecy within it had already come to pass, that Gareth and the others had been right all along. Morganne could hardly bear to read through some of the pages, which brought the horrors of the Rift to life with unspeakable clarity. One drawing in particular held her captive; the Chest of Sorrows seemed to protrude from the page, covered with the forlorn faces of all those who had tried to open it without success. There had been so many from across the ages, that their cheeks were squeezed tightly together. Hollow eyes and tormented expressions grabbed at her heart while starved, bony fingers reached out toward her in desperation. For a moment, she forgot that she was only looking at an image of the chest, and not the chest itself. She could almost feel herself being pulled in, those twisted fingers grabbing for her hair, her clothing … her soul.
She felt a sudden tug on her dress and barely stifled a shriek as she slammed the book shut. Adelin had awoken from her nap. Her round face and wide blue eyes were fixed on Morganne as she teetered on the edge of melting into a startled wail. Clearly, this was not the reaction she had expected in response to her timid tug. Morganne quickly whisked Adelin up in her arms and hugged her tightly, a wave of relief sweeping over her. She wrapped the book up and tucked it away, knowing that she would need to gather her courage before she would be ready to read from it again.
Even with the book well out of sight, she could not escape her fears so easily. She tossed and turned on the narrow bed that she shared with Adelin, envious of Elowyn sleeping peacefully on the rug by the fire. When she did manage to sleep, she dreamed of the Crevasse and the Rift. She dreamt that she was being dragged into the bone room by a host of beasts like the one Glak had brought back from the mountains. They placed her before Alazoth’s altar, face to face with that horrible stone chest. They wanted her to open it, to condemn herself into becoming one of those lost souls, staring out mournfully into the abyss through all of eternity. She was promised wealth, prestige, power, beauty, even immortality…but nothing could entice her to share the fate of the forlorn faces on that chest. She resisted, realizing that she was lost in a nightmare from which she would eventually waken.
When morning came, Morganne rose from bed pallid and weary. She wrapped the book to take it with her, secretly hoping that she would not be asked to continue reading it, even though she felt compelled to by its obvious importance. She laid it on the table before Jadon, saying, “This is a dark tome you have given me.”
Jadon did not seem surprised. “The old tomes can be difficult,” he responded, “not in their translation, but in their message. They are scribed by men living in desperate times, whose hearts are made heavy by the suffocating weight of the Shadow’s presence upon the world. Such men are given voice by Aviad so that they may speak the words we need, but do not always want, to hear.”
“Indeed, there are many things written in this tome that I do not want to hear. I fear these things are no longer prophecy, but have come to pass in our generation.” Morganne went on to describe what she had read, hoping the information would push Jadon into action.
“Knowledge of the Chest of Sorrows is common, and has been recorded and copied in numerous tomes, though I have never before heard it described in such a way. What makes you believe that it has been opened?”
“The Hounds and their Master have been seen around Tyroc … or so I have heard,” Morganne said carefully. “Alazoth’s release was also revealed in visions given to my former teacher and a group of monks in his order. They left their monastery seeking answers and guidance, but I do not know where they went, only that their travels took them westward. More I dare not say. I have many more reasons to think that the beasts gathering just beyond Minhaven are not here by chance, but that they are connected with the opening of the chest.”
Jadon nodded, absorbed in thought as he leafed slowly through the pages of the tome, his eye finally resting on the image of the chest. He stared at it for a while, mesmerized as Morganne had been, before quietly closing the book and giving it back to Morganne.
“What should we do?” Morganne finally asked.
“Nothing,” Jadon said softly.
“Nothing?” Morganne could hardly believe his response.
“Does the tome give instruction on how to defeat the beasts?”
“No. It does not mention them at all. Mainly it warns that the chest and the Rift will be opened, releasing Alazoth and his armies into the world. It describes the Deep Woods, the Crevasse, and the Rift in frightening detail. The monk who wrote the tome said that Alazoth’s release will usher in a time of great trial for humanity that could very well be the end of days.”
“What would you have me do?” Jadon asked.
“I don’t know,” Morganne said in a flustered tone. “Tell your superiors and the rest of your order, tell the people, the Kinship…tell everyone so that they might prepare for what is coming.”
“Certainly I must tell my superiors,” Jadon said in his usual understated way. “The Kinship and the people already know of the beasts and are preparing for Minhaven’s defense should the worst befall us. The heavy snows will protect us for now, but many are frightened by what may await us when spring thaws the mountain passes. Should I bring more terror upon them with no offering of hope to see them through it? What can one do against a prophecy already fulfilled? Nothing more than pray for strength and wisdom, and hope that Aviad will give us instruction at the proper time.”
Morganne gaped in disbelief at the way he seemed to calmly accept this fate without feeling the need to do anything but pray.
“Perhaps there is something more in the remaining tomes that could be of help to us,” Jadon said encouragingly, noting Morganne’s despondent expression. He handed her a new tome just as the bells began to ring.
“Now that you have a fair understanding of the old language, there is no need to meet every day. Take whatever time you need with these tomes. Do not only translate them. Study them. Lift their message to Aviad in prayer and see what other insights He reveals to you. When you have questions or have finished a tome, you know how to find me.” Jadon then quickly ushered her out through the gate.
Morganne’s sewing tasks bore the brunt of her frustration as she tried to put the tomes out of her mind and catch up on the work she had left unfinished the previous day. The pressure bearing down on her heart to act was becoming unbearable, yet she had no clear direction for that pressure to vent itself. She kept asking herself if it was Aviad trying to direct her as He had before in Evensong, or was it her own fear getting the better of her? Perhaps she could not fault Jadon, for he had not come face-to-face with Braeden, or felt the threat of conjured storms lashing out at his roof. Until now, he had remained secure, insulated from the steady march of the Hounds that were now descending upon the southern shores of the Sovereign’s realm. He seemed content to wait for some divine instruction before entering into the looming battle.
The whole book is like this, uninspired and cliched; yeah, there are chapters with more action than others, but it isn’t the kind of action you’d expect. Furthermore, the fact that Reid already released one novel before this one, at least one, maybe more, I’m not sure, I really expected the story to be smoother to be more…I don’t know, alive.
There were different characters, and some different things happened, but there was really nothing to keep me going, except hoping to learn more of Aviad and his connection to the main characters.
Now, as is the case when I find a book I didn’t enjoy, I always want to express that just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Here’s a review from someone else-
The second book in the Wind Rider Chronicles, Ancient Voices: Into the Depths by Allison D. Reid, is a[s] captivating as the first book. Whereas in the first book we learned more about Elowyn, in this sequel we learn more about Morganne as both young girls continue to find their path and purpose in life. The tale takes place in Minhaven from one Winter Festival to the next. In the course of that year, Morgan[ne] has the opportunity to read and interpret the sacred texts while Elowyn tries to fit in with the community. Both learn self-protection; Morgan[ne] with a sword and Elowyn with the bow. The hardest lessons are to accept Aviad calling especially without knowing exactly what that calling is. I am looking forward to the next sequel in hopes that the calling is revealed and to see how the girls carry it out.
End of anonymous review
So, m’yeah, it’s worth reading if you like softer novels. There’s certainly some descriptive violence, but it isn’t action or gore. Like again, imagine me telling you that my friend got beat up, and that’s the gist of it.