Tag Archives: Change

Broda Jr., Dale: The Old Warrior (2010)

The Old Warrior
Cover art by Christine
I really like this cover

I’ve been wondering for ages what being a soldier for years upon years would do to a person. That is a soldier who is out fighting all the time. It would have to be the close-up kind of soldier who has to make life and death decisions for another person on a regular basis. What would that do to you, and how many of your choices would you find bearing you down?

War is a terrible thing. The Old Warrior has been trained for a life of killing since childhood by people who treated him roughly. His choices have numbed him to the horrors he is part of. In the end that life is catching up with him, but then …

“The Nightmare” appears in the form of a little girl who has lost her mom and dad and wolf to the killers around her. She stands there in the middle of the noise and gore with an empty look on her face. “The Nightmare”. The one who manages to break through to the old warrior and create a chink in his suit of denial.

The Old Warrior was a sad and action-filled story. It ended differently from how I had expected and that annoyed me. But I also find it refreshing (and annoying – did I mention that) when closure is not reached. But life is like that. We cannot always know how things end.


Greenwood, C.: Magic of Thieves (Legends of Dimmingwood) (2012)

Magic of Thieves
Cover art by Michael Gauss

I really like the cover of Magic of Thieves. I don’t know if the gold effect carries over to paper-backs. On the screen a feeling of magic shines through.

Magic of Thieves seems to be a novel meant for a Young Adult audience. Our novel begins with the death of Ilan’s parents. Ilan is a “half-breed” as propaganda calls her. Being half Skeltai/half human is frowned upon. Having a parent who is a magic user is even worse. All of a sudden magic has become evil and the Praetor is on the hunt for all magic users.

While trying to escape the soldiers hunting for her, Ilan’s magic is triggered. The family friend Borlan takes her in but realises that she cannot stay. He gets a peddler to take her to Cros where she ought to be safe as a magic user. But they get waylaid by the thieves of Dimmingwood. This is where Ilan’s life takes a strange turn and she grows up among the thieves with the one called Brig taking a special interest in her raising.

Ilan is a feisty girl having to deal with the loss of her parents and the new father figure in her life. As she grows up her emotions grow up with her. I think Greenwood has made a believably tiresome and brave person who just tries to figure out her place in life. Encountering those who are stronger and weaker than herself is just part of the game.

Terrac was a self-righteous pain in the butt, as I guess he was intended to be. This too seems to be part of the teen-agy hormonal thing that we all have to go through. Some of us even retain that less than stellar quality. But Terrac had guts. He was brave enough to do what had to be done while trying to stick to his convictions.

These are the main two characters of Magic of Thieves. It was interesting to behold the changes they went through as life’s usual surprises hit them.


You can reach Dara England at DaraAndCarol and twitter-icon1.


Other reviews: The Middle Nerd

Gray, Scott Fitzgerald: A Space Between (The Endlands) (2011)

A Space Between 2
Cover design by (studio)Effigy, from an image by Jose A.S. Reyes.
The background to the main image is the cover art for A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales
(in which the story first appeared), which is an illustration by Alex Tooth

I love it when I get such detailed information on the cover art. The knife is very appropriate to A Space Between.

Scott Fitzgerald is a demanding name to give your child. Talk about pressure. Fortunately Scott Fitzgerald Gray manages to live up to the expectations of his name.

A Space Between is a dark short story. Talk about dysfunctional family. Love, secrets, betrayal, ambition and murder are all part of the game.

Charan and Jalina make an interesting set of siblings. Their love/hate relationship is what drives A Space Between. Add to that the accidental death of their father and we have the recipe for an interesting tale.

I found myself liking Charan and Jalina. Their love and the murder are very much against societal mores, but society is a fluid thing shaped by its members. Their discovery of two magical artifacts changes their ability to see each other.

It was strange reading A Space Between. Gray’s writing was so beautiful I forgot to pay attention to what I was reading. I got caught up in the flow of the words. I have said this before and probably will again: There are some advantages to being within the autism spectrum. Because my “thing” is words I get the pleasure of finding myself lost in them. A Space Between was a word autists/aspergian dream.

For those of you who aren’t that lucky rest assured that the quality of Gray’s writing is high.


You can catch Scott Fitzgerald Gray at facebook / twitter / google.


  • Print Length: 35 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Insane Angel Studios (May 18, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051OR1FM

 

Gay, Kelly: The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan) (2009)

Cover art by Christian McGrath

There is something about Charlie that I find appealing. Her life is a mess in so many respects, but she, herself, is a really decent person. Kelly’s writing is, of course, alpha and omega in making the series work and helping me like it. I find it amazing that this is actually Gay’s writing debut.

The Charlie Madigan series is an urban fantasy one. They are meant to entertain. There are issues that come up in the books that are important ones, but like most novels out there on the market this is for the general public and not an esoteric philosophical LSD audience (Ok, that might have been a bit mean).

As with a great deal of the other urban fantasies out there the Charlie Madigan has a male/female action team. Since both Hank and Charlie work together, have a bantering tone between them and look quite good – well …

In The Better Part of Darkness we find ourselves in an Atlanta city in a possible future where scientists have discovered two parallel planes of existence. Surprise, surprise, angels and demons do exist although not exactly in the heaven and hell version that we humans are so fond of. We have been visited by them for thousands of years and they have been using us and the earth as a battleground for working out their differences.

Now that humans know about them, we won’t put up with their nonsense any longer and have laid down the law for them. A police-department has been established dealing especially with extraterrestrials. They are called the ITF (Integration Task Force). Charlie Madigan is one of the officers working for the Department and her partner, Hank.

Pretty early on in The Better Part of Darkness, we find out that Charlie had a dead-then-alive experience that seems to be changing her physically.

Charlie’s partner, Hank, is a siren from Elysia. He has the kind of voice that needs to be dampened, otherwise men and women would throw themselves at his feet and do anything he asked of them. This comes in handy in police-work as people really want to tell him the truth.

Her daughter, Emma, is a highly intuitive child, one with a great degree of empathy. She goes to Hope Ridge, a school for rich kids. Charlie can’t afford it on her salary, but her ex-husband, Will, is paying for it.

When Charlie gets called to her daughters’ school (with her partner Hank) she becomes extremely worried. The victim is Emma’s old baby-sitter, Amanda Mott. At first thought dead, it turns out that Amanda is “just” in a coma of some kind. Making the situation a whole lot worse is the fact that there are several others who have been found like Amanda, and they have all died in the end. It seems all of them have been exposed to a new drug called “ash”. It’s extremely addictive and once it leaves a person’s system, they die.

This is the mystery Charlie and Hank are to investigate. As you might imagine unexpected twists and turns do appear. As stated above, Kelly Gay’s writing is of high quality and kept me reading until the end.


Awards/nominations

2009 SIBA Okra Pick
2010 SIBA Long List Book Award Finalist
2010 RITA finalist, Best First Book
2010 RITA finalist, Best Novel w/Romantic Elements


My reviews on books 1 (The Better Part of Darkness), 2 (The Darkest Edge of Dawn), 3 (The Hour of Dust and Ashes), and 4 (Shadows Before the Sun)

Briggs, Patricia: The Hob (2001)

We humans are a fearful lot. If anything or anyone differs from the accepted norm, most of us will find some way to avoid that thing or person. Sometimes we’ll use the opportunity to bully and taunt the person exhibiting “strangeness”. The Hob’s Bargain illustrates this ability to pretend that we know how the world should be, even if that means hurting someone we love.

Aren’s (our protagonist) family is not excepted from this. They have an hereditary clairvoyant ability that sometimes expresses itself in a more magical one. That makes them fodder for the blood magicians – who feed on death. Aren’s brother was wanted as a magician by those in power, but he did not want to consequences of such a choice. Rather than have his death be used by the blood magicians, he chose to suicide.

You can imagine this has affected Aren. It seems she is beginning to experience visions, making her worry about her new husband. When the cottage is broken into, she manages to hide in the food cellar, but Aren knows something is terribly wrong.

While hiding in the cellar, Aren suddenly feels a change in the way magic feels. Something has broken, but she has no idea what – being too busy surviving, and all. From that point on Aren’s visions are clearer and the first one concerns the death of her father and husband. Turns out her whole family is gone. Now Aren has to deal with her grief, her out-of-control magic and the changes in the land and her neighbors.

Bowen, James: A Street Cat Named Bob (2012)

This is the story of how one cat changed the life of a man who was a recovering heroin addict living a hand-to-mouth existence to the point where he was able to quit methadone and get his life in order. The responsibility for another life, a life that accepted him for who and what he was made all the difference to James Bowen. From busking, to selling magazines to giving out his own book has been a journey that has been neither easy nor painless.

Plus points to someone who manages to take charge of their own lives to the point where true change occurs. Minus points to co-writer Garry Jenkins and the editor for not helping James streamline the book a little more.

Having said that, a story like this is worth telling. Bob was famous long before the book came out. You’ll find references, pictures and clips in a whole lot of places – the photograph on the left is only one example.

Meaney, John: Resolution (2008)

Cover art by Jim Burns

While the third and final book in the Nulapeiron Sequence, “Resolution” lacks the brilliance of “Context“, “Resolution” is certainly a well-crafted book. Meaney’s work is moving, engaging and interesting. He manages to braid his thoughts on time and space into the text in a manner that fits in with the rest of the book. This is quite a feat.

Tom Corcorigan leads a complicated life. He’s on top or he’s at the bottom of the social ladder. His life is never the same from moment to moment. Love, friendship and home can change in an instant. I’m glad I’m not he. As in the previous books, we also get a look into the lives of the pilots.

In “Context” the Blight was defeated. But Tom is certain the war has not been won. He is worried that the Anomaly, the mother of the Blights, is on its way to Nulapeiron. There is no-one else that will believe him when he tries to convince them of the seriousness of the situation. Losing his demesne has made life a bit more challenging for him and Elva, but when his friend Corduven dies that all changes. Now they finally have the chance to influence matters. And what do you know, the Anomaly appears. From there on the action is non-stop.

The Nulapeiron is an intense series. The reader is drawn into Meaney’s world and kept there by the force of his words. His science fiction is fun and weird.