Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Saskian Trilogy Begins with Eden Forest

Eden Forest is a novella and the first instalment in The Saskia Trilogy by Aoife Marie Sheridan.

Narrated in the first person present tense, Eden Forest opens in Saskia with Marta giving a description of the land and alerting the reader to her pregnancy, which we later know is from a love affair with the King of Saskia. We also learn about Saskian laws and traditions and how Saskians are immortal and born with an affinity of air, water, earth, fire or spirit. At first glance, Marta appears to be a caring person.

The reader learns that Saskia is a world parallel to earth and that a fire barrier separating the two worlds can be crossed but with great difficulty.

Eden Forest is written from several perspectives, all in the first person; however we are told whose point of view we are reading at the beginning of each chapter, avoiding any possible confusion. It is a very interesting way of writing – the first I've read seen – and it gives character depth. Through this technique, Sheridan merges with each character making them come to life on the pages of her novella.

The author has an abundance of intriguing characters, but what I liked most was how each character has a specific role to play in the story – even eight-year-old Mei. Some have minor roles but are expected to have much bigger ones in the coming parts of the trilogy.

As the novella progresses, two characters stand out in contradiction; Marta and her daughter Sarajane. Whereas Sarajane is caring, believable, down to earth, intelligent and understanding, her mother, Marta, is unmotherly-like, as opposed to what we have seen in the first chapter. A face-off between Sarajane and King Morrick makes this point clear. Moreover, most of the time we see Marta, she is crying; yet the reader feels that her emotions are not deep. And when she finally sees her daughter after a long absence, all she is concerned with is food! (Of all things!)

Another interesting character is the conflicting, contradictory Tristan, King Morrick's head Guardian and who is later given the task to retrieve, or rather kidnap, Sarajane. Until the end of Eden Forest, the reader cannot read this particular character.

The massive contrast between Saskia's King and Queen makes the reader wonder how they ended up together. That bit comes at the end of the story.

Eden Forest is a quick and easy read. Its pace is fair at the beginning but starting chapter three, the pace and events become intense. You cannot put the book down and you feel the need finish the novella and skip work and sleep in the process.

I truly enjoyed Aoife Sheridan's Eden Forest and can hardly wait for the next two parts, which I expect will have more details about the elemental affinities and focus more on characters briefly mentioned or introduced like Carew.

(Note: There are a couple of brief, adult scenes).

Connect with Aoife Marie Sheridan by visiting her at: Amazon PageFacebook, TwitterWebsiteGoodreadsBlogGoogle+PinterestLinkedInMailing ListTSU.

Sci-fi meets fantasy in Shawn Stern's Doppelgänger

I've read sci-fi and I've read fantasy but sci-fi-fantasy that's new and I have to admit it's rather cool!

Doppelgänger by Shawn Stern is certainly a bit of a new genre for me. It's a novella but with a novel's weight in all the details, research, characterisation and depth it entails.

The novel starts with a lab scene, an infant is being extracted from a failed experiment and a female scientist gives your life to save the child. The following chapters trace the life of this child growing up into Shane Fisher, a too-ordinary book store manager.

The novel shifts between Shane and another character called Cole, a martial artist and assassin, and whom the reader later finds out is a replica of Shane from the experiment mentioned earlier.

Naturally, when the two characters come in contact 'all hell breaks loose' as one of the chapters is adequately called.

The description throughout the novel is detailed and vivid. I loved the descriptions of Trent and Manny, one is described as a dwarf with a malicious smile and the other is described as it is an ape among other huge animals, and is nothing short of a T-rex: big, bloodthirsty and stupid.

Although Shane and Cole are very different, you can't help but like both, especially as there is a lot of Shane in all of us.

Fragile too is a likeable character with intense depth and importance to the novel.

"When performed correctly, there is little difference between science and magic." A note Fragile makes to himself and it sort of sums up this book.

Doppelgänger ends at the climactic point and I can't wait for the second instalment, which I've been told is called 'Cabal' and should be out later this year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seeing Past Sickness - Book Review

Seeing Past Sickness is a collection of 17 pieces varying between poetry and short stories on getting over or past illness and sickness. It is worth noting that all proceeds to this collection go to a foundation that provides scholarships for students affected by chronic illness.

Commenting on 17 pieces will make this a lengthy commentary so I'll comment on what I believe are the 'bestest' pieces in this collection.

The opening piece to Seeing Past Sickness is a poem titled 'Bridge' by Seker Salis. It is an enjoyable piece with a nice flow. It is, also, a beautiful opening to this collection.

The first short story is called 'Day by Day' by my favourite writer Aria Glazki. The wording, flow, and characterisation are perfect. It is a 10-star piece.
It is shortly followed by the beautiful and uplifting poem 'Define Us Not' by Alison LeBlanc. Here are a few lines: "Life is full of mystery/and pain and grief and war/but all that I can tell you is/there's plenty more in store".
This is followed by a slightly odd but quite interesting story about overcoming obstacles called 'Uncle Ed' by Kathy DeFlane. The story is told by a fairly funny narrator.

Several pieces in, we get the poem 'Hope', written by Carrie Renee McAlister. It is the eleventh piece in Seeing Past Sickness. It is as the title suggests a hopeful poem that opens with a fresh and creative image: "For so long I lay dormant/like a thousand bulbs/refusing to bloom". I absolutely loved this piece.

The short story 'She Loved Tommie' by C. B. Jennings nearly brought me to tears. Meanwhile, 'Professor' by Simon Quellen Field is a short story written as one long conversation. I have never read a story written like this before, but I must applaud the author for absolute creativity and ability to piece together such a delicate story in such a form.
'Professor' is followed by 'Sacrifice' another piece by Aria Glazki; a poem this time about the painful struggle the chronically-ill endure to merely live and get through their days. It is a slow but heart-wrenching piece. Aria's poetry is as impeccable as her short stories.
Then comes another short story by a writer I've wanted to read for a while now: 'The Daily Grind' by Margit Sage. It is slightly similar to Glazki's 'Day by Day' piece but it is nonetheless different, with its own struggle and flavour. The protagonist is a writer, therefore, many can relate to this piece in several ways.
Seeing Past Sickness ends with another poem by Alison LeBlanc, called 'The Picture of Tolerance', which I wish I could quote whole, but will have to do with these lines: "Chalk in lines of tolerance/So bold and very clear/Paint new hope for all the youth/And shadow every fear". This poem is the perfect conclusion to this collection of healing, strength and rebirth.

I am glad to have got this opportunity to read Seeing Past Sickness, which was already on my to-read list. It also gave me the chance to read pieces by writers I have met online and by others, whose work I look forward to reading more of in the future.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Burning Rain

Acid rain
Pours down on me
Burning me

I scream
But my screams are lost
Amidst a million others

Fire on sensitive skin
I can feel my flesh burn
Flames erupting
On my arms and face

I can smell the fire
Emanating from me

My crime?
I lived
In a land of eternal misery,
Never-ending greed,
Ever-lasting lies

I lived
When a time
Of honest living
Was not possible

I lived
And the rain
Burned me
As punishment
For my virtues.

Written Sunday, 6th of July, 2014 at 16:40

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer - 55 Word Challenge

Scorching heat emanates from the pavement. Even the sun seems to pity the land below, unknowing how to handle the heat it brings forth.
To top it all, water begins to run short.
It's summer, an exceptionally hot summer, and all everyone wants is to get away to a sea breeze.

My entry WON Over Achiever in the 55-word challenge - YAY
It was an entry for Over Achiever for this week's 55 Word ChallengeUsed all three pictures and was mostly inspired by this year's summer in Egypt - several heat waves and a two-day water cut.

My piece is 51 words long.