Young Adult Fiction

Anime_Days Summer_Girl The_Visitors Once_Upon-A_Time_In_America
Bits Girls_Girl Changes More_Changes
Dress_Up Wheels Wunderkinde Its_A_Swiss

British author Madeline Bell’s series of twelve – so far – Gabby novels chronicles the misadventures of a young British cycling phenom from the cusp of turning thirteen to the end of his fifteenth summer. Along the way, Drew develops as a force to be reckoned with in the field of Junior cycling. Drew also develops in other ways to be discussed later. Drew is cursed with the misfortune of being cute, a description that sets his teeth on edge. The appellation is not used in the context of “I met this really cute boy named Drew Bond” but rather in the “Drew is such a cute girl and I’m jealous of her” frame of reference. In fact, Drew is regularly mistaken for a girl and the fact that he winds up in female costume from time to time does not help matters at all. At first, it was all a bit of a lark; attend a school dance with his – mostly female – mates dressed as characters from Japanese Anime but that has brought with it a whole set of problems, not the least being that one of his good mates, Clive, takes a fancy to the new girl in town.

Even when he was young, Drew’s sister used him as a dress-up doll and that tradition continues in his circle of friends who are mostly female. His appearances as ‘Gabby’ become more and more frequent and of longer duration. A six week student exchange trip to America and allowing his cousin to do part of his packing lands Drew in ‘Gabby’ mode for most of the trip. There are a (very) few discerning adults who twig that this cute teen-aged girl is really a boy but their numbers are reduced as the series progresses and even those who do know the score are still wont to think of him as a her. His family’s relocation to Germany offers a chance at a fresh start as Drew but unfortunately, that change fails to bring the expected relief. His new instructors tend to think of him as Fraulein Bond and his circle of friends there is almost exclusively female. Most – if not all – of his school mates think of Drew as a cute – if somewhat tomboyish – girl and when he is chosen by the great and the good of his town as their ‘Wine Queen’ for the coming year, all hopes of resurrecting ‘Drew’ seem to go out the window.

It appears that nature has conspired against him as well. Drew has had some increasingly worrisome medical concerns. At first, it was anemia that played havoc with his endurance. Then he began developing breasts. The doctors were concerned that puberty had yet to begin. Trouble was, it already had. It took a cat scan at a German clinic to reveal that Drew had ovaries and a uterus. But wasn’t Drew a boy? Well, yes and no. A karyotype of his chromosomes revealed that Drew had Klinefelter’s syndrome.

For those of you who slept through high school and/or college biology, a brief explanation follows. If science tends to make your eyes glaze over, you are welcome to skip the next 2 paragraphs.

Most humans have two chromosomes that determine whether they are male or female and are commonly known as the X and Y chromosomes. Females have two X chromosomes whilst Males have an X and a Y. People with Klinefelter’s have three sex chromosomes; XXY. This is the result of a ‘sticky’ X chromosome that follows its partner during Meiosis rather than staying with the other 22 chromosomes that will comprise the ovum or the sperm cell. When fertilization occurs, the resulting embryo will have three sex chromosomes; XXY. On the whole, most individuals will develop as males and live normal lives without knowing of their genetic condition. Some will develop the various traits associated with the syndrome and a small minority will develop as either intersex or female.

To complicate matters a bit, one of the two X chromosomes becomes inactive following fertilization. Nonetheless, this inactive chromosome does influence things. Females with only one sex chromosome have Turner’s syndrome and are subject to a whole raft of physiological problems. See The Physiological and Behavioral Manifestations of Abnormal Numbers of Sex Chromosomes in Humans. H. Parsons, 1973 – NC Wesleyan College.

Drew Bond is one of that minority who develops as an Intersex child with a strong female bias. He looked all the world like a male in his pre-teen years but as puberty entered the picture, secondary sex characteristics and gender identity complicate things. Though Drew may express indignation at his lot in life, staunchly proclaiming his male-ness, his body and brain have other ideas. As the series progresses, his appearance and behaviour becomes more typical of a teen-aged girl rather than a boy. As his cycling prowess increases, so does his obvious femininity. Even Drew recognises that he has no future as a male but that does not mean he has to like what fate has ordained and he rages against the coming of the pink. Resistance is futile.

Madeline Bell has created an addictive series of stories in her Gabby novels and it is quite entertaining to see the scrapes her hero(ine) gets him/herself into. While the series is aimed at young adults, older ones can and do easily get hooked and bewail the fact that Ms. Bell cannot turn out the next installment as fast as they would like her to. The author caters to an international audience with illustrations and footnotes that help explain linguistic, cultural and geographic differences. Ms. Bell also provides the reader with an intimate look into the world of bicycle racing. Who knew that there was so much strategy involved? At the end of the day, Drew’s stories helped make this year’s Tour de France much more interesting.

The series is not without its flaws, however as the earlier installments suffer from spelling and punctuation errors. While Madeline Bell has released a few revised editions of earlier installments, many of the errors remain. Things are remarkably better in the later installments but still, some problems persist. The stories are told in a combination of both first and third person and while it seems to work overall, there are instances where it is difficult to determine just whom is speaking.

Flaws aside, The Gabby Series is a fun and enthralling read for both young and old and well worth the time spent. If anything, they are difficult to put down, even for a few minutes. As a final note, Madeline Bell donates a portion of the proceeds from each book to a British charity which provides support for gender variant children and for that, the author deserves a special round of applause.

My Rating:

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by John Swan

The debut novel by a new author can be a disquieting time for all concerned. The author worries about what the reviewers will make of his months – if not years – of hard work. Another worry is how the book will be received by the readers themselves. Professional reviewers – or at least those who pretend they are – hope that they will be among the first to proclaim an emerging talent and worry that other reviewers will not agree with them. In Your Dreams by John Swan is an impressive story for an author’s first outing and does not disappoint. John’s early influences included J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Robert Jordan and that influence – especially of J.R.R. Tolkien – shows in the prologue, A Lullaby of Ages. If the reader takes Mr. Swan’s Tolkien-esque world-building as an indication that The Aldaya Series will be merely yet another attempt to ride the coattails of Middle Earth, then they are making a grave mistake.

The scene is Aldaya, a large island on a water planet not too far – in astronomical terms – from our own. The civilisation there is not what it once was and after suffering a global catastrophe, a sort of dry rot has begun to set in. Sic transit gloria mundi. The squabbling of territories, which goes back over a thousand years, has intensified of late and alliances are on the brink of crumbling. War seems to be almost inevitable. In the centre of all this is High Lord Éolan, Steward of the City of Nausica, council member and spouse to the Premier-elect. Aside from all the disturbing things going on, Éolan’s dreams have been troubled of late. The subject has always been the same, year in and year out; a pale blonde waif-like girl. Those dreams have become much more frequent … and now, quite vivid.

It had taken place somewhere deep in the Endless Marshes to the east, and in an old canoe had lain the body of a girl. She was young, perhaps fifteen, and all the colors in the dream were muted shades of grays and blacks save her golden blond hair. She was ghostly pale, almost to the point of being translucent, and cold to the touch. Éolan had been having similar dreams of the girl off and on for many years, but lately they had become much more frequent.

The girl with the blond hair and purple eyes, of whom Éolan dreams, is named Mim and she has dreams of her own..

 A woman stood above her, her kind purple eyes shining with love, and radiant golden hair just as Mim had. She disappeared, and as Mim sat up the woman was now seated with her head turned away and staring into an ornate crystal hand mirror. Upon it were etched images of gods and goddesses dancing under the night sky and beneath ancient trees.

As she began to sing, the mirror began to glow, as did the woman’s eyes. The song was a tale of seven sisters that guarded the heavens, and the melody was so beautiful that Mim floated upwards and over to the woman’s lap. Her reflection showed a toddler, but Mim knew it was her and giggled. The woman began to laugh as well. She let go of the mirror, but instead of it dropping and shattering on the marble floor, it stayed suspended in the air.

Mim is fifteen years old, parentless and lives in a flyspeck of a town named Slaidburn in a blighted area of Endmoor, bordering the Endless Marshes. Slaidburn’s cash crop seems to be mildew and the benefits of civilization appear to be receding; the roads are in deplorable condition and lamplight has become more the rule than the exception. A foundling raised in foster care until the age of 12, Mim has been on her own for three years now, and lacking the necessary wealth for secondary education, works as a kitchen assistant at The Last Stand Tavern which provides her with enough money for clothes and a place to sleep. Like many people in Slaidburn, Mim is just barely getting by.

All of this is about to change for her because, on a chilly, misty night, three unwelcome visitors enter the tavern after closing. Two of them have no name but the third is a thin woman dressed in black who the reader learns is Morra Losis. Morra has an appetite for people … as dinner … and Mim is an intriguing morsel who might otherwise become the blue plate special except that the person – or thing – Morra serves would be quite interested in the girl and thus she decides to spare her but only just. There is nothing for it but to run; first to her rented shed and then to as far from Slaidburn as is humanly possible.

Her hope is to eventually make her way to the seat of learning in Aldaya, the Charis Vale. Interestingly, Lord Éolan is on his way there himself to attend an annual gala which will inaugurate the autumn term at that institution. The weather plays a key role in this story, no doubt because of John Swan’s Bachelor’s Degree in weather and climate. Because of a weather system that just won’t go away, Lord Éolan is forced to travel by coach along the southern highway, bordering the edge of the marshes, to reach the capital of Endmoor in order to catch a north-bound airship to reach his final destination. Their paths cross at the junction of the highway and the road leading to Slaidburn where Mim helps thwart an ambush by brigands. It is from this point forward that their journeys – and indeed, their fates – are intertwined.

The world of Aldaya is one most carefully crafted and John Swan’s prose allows the reader to sense the fetid miasma of the Endless Marshes, the dank atmosphere and crushing poverty of Slaidburn as well as the glories of the cities of Alastria and Iccobar. Those fortunate to read In Your Dreams will catch a glimpse of the terror that permeates both Mim’s encounter with Morra Losis and her perilous journey through the marshes. Through the power of Mr. Swan’s vision, readers will vicariously experience Mim’s sense of awe and wonder as her first journey on an airship lifts her above the mundane world and carries her far away from the blighted province she has known all her life. In fine, John Swan is a lexical mage, conjuring a pellucid world for all who choose to peruse this fantasy.

In a time before ours, when the universe was much younger, a great civilization lived upon the surface of an infant world not much different than our own. It was tucked away on our same distant arm of the galaxy, with its twin moons shining unblemished in the night sky, and its surface full of spirits both great and small.

These two opening sentences are so much more evocative than “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. “

John Swan’s vision for In Your Dreams was to write a story that was both readable and understandable by those thirteen years-old and above. It is this reviewer’s considered opinion that the author has ably achieved his goal. He has created an exciting and enthralling story that should attract readers with a passion for the fantasy genre. Do not let the fact that this is a Young Adult novel dissuade the reader in the least. YA fiction is a not-so-guilty pleasure for many people and In Your Dreams provides all of the reading pleasure with none of the guilt. Mr. Swan envisions the Aldaya Series as a six book saga and promises that this is merely the beginning with many more works to come. If In Your Dreams is any indication, he has a distinguished literary career before him.

My Rating:

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Publicity Inquiries Attn: Natalie Spasic | email publicity@nataliespasic.com

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Cover Art

 by Katie O’Sullivan

Within the span of a few months, Shea MacNamara’s life has changed dramatically.

OpenQuote  To anyone watching him, he looked like a normal teenager, out walking his dog on the beach in the early morning. He wore a plain white t-shirt that clung snugly to his muscular frame, along with cut-off jeans and sandals. His long hair was the color of golden wheat and his tanned skin set off his bright green eyes. He looked like so many other local kids who spent a lot of time along the shorelines of Cape Cod. An ordinary boy. Except Shea no longer fit into that category.

He lost his father, moved from the Great Plains to Cape Cod, found his mother, found his grandfather, found a girlfriend and found out that he was Royalty. Oh yeah … one other thing … he found out he was a merman. A lot of changes for a fifteen year-old boy. However, finding things can be short-lived. Earlier that summer, Shea had a ringside seat to an attempted coup d’état which he and his girlfriend, Kae, helped to foil. His mother was being strong-armed into a dynastic marriage with a king young enough to be her son and Shea’s brother, but the coup has changed all that. Young King Theo was a casualty of the plot and Shea’s mother has departed to take over the sea throne of the Southern Ocean and his girlfriend is due to follow her once she goes to Atlantis to give testimony against the evil – you can ‘Boo’ if you want – Prince Demyan. Regent to the late King Theo, the not-so-bonny Prince was the power behind the coup and was last seen hot-footing it – or is it hot-finning it? – out of town.

On the morning of Kae’s departure, Shea is standing at the water’s edge, fulminating at the unfairness of life and perhaps secretly hoping for one final assignation with the love of his young life. She doesn’t show up. Her father, however, does. Kae is missing and what is more, she was last seen in the palace gardens the previous afternoon, holding hands with a young merman – a young merman whose name was not Shea. We will learn that Kae has been abducted and rather than joining the search for the missing mermaid, Shea is charged with the task of giving testimony before the high court of Atlantis in her stead. What is a young merman to do?

Katie O’ Sullivan has followed up on her 2013 success of Son of a Mermaid with the equally exciting Blood of a Mermaid. Katie writes in a fun and captivating style that should enthrall both young and older adults. Targeted at the younger end of the YA spectrum, her latest novel is suitable for middle schoolers and perhaps younger readers when enjoyed in the context of a library reading circle. This reviewer is pleased to find a novel in the YA sub-genre of Merfolk stories that is equally appealing to both boys and girls.

Shea has his own set of problems. Aside from discovering that he’s not human – at least in the conventional sense – and not your ordinary sort of merboy, he has been told to stay out of the water lest he becomes too easy a target for abduction or worse. And … there’s one other thing. It seems that his choice of Kae as a girlfriend isn’t going over well with some people – especially her father, Lybio. It would appear that sub-surface royalty marry much more often for alliances and connections than for actual love.

Lybio let out a long sigh, cursing under his breath. He turned his head to look at Shea. “It may not be your choice, my Prince. Royals are never free to marry whom they choose.” He let his words sink in for a few moments before adding, “In the end, you, my Prince, will always need to do what’s best for the clan.” Shea thought of his own mother, having to leave her husband and child behind. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He would never let that happen to him. Royal or not, he wouldn’t abandon the people he loved, not in a million years.

Like any good father, Lybio does not want to see his daughter drawn into a hopeless relationship, no matter how nice the boy may be. For his part, Shea isn’t too keen on this Prince business, either. It helps to explain his birthmark but has not brought much in the way of tangible benefits. While he may have a brilliant career as a merman awaiting him, living in Oklahoma did have at least some benefits. For one thing, no one called him ‘My Prince’ there. It goes without saying that Shea’s struggle to have a relationship with the one he chooses rather than the one who may be chosen for him will be a continuing theme through the rest of this series.

As Shea makes his way to Atlantis, he will have to rely on his wits to save both himself and those who are traveling with him. Katie O’Sullivan’s story of intestinal fortitude is a fine example of her values in writing for this particular target audience. Both Shea and Kae demonstrate examples of courage and determination in this series where – so far – the good guys are really good and the bad guys are truly wicked. Even the mage who plays such a pivotal role in Kae’s abduction demonstrates remorse and redemption by the story’s end. Ms. O’Sullivan has penned a truly good and exciting story for young readers; one that parents, et al. should not worry about those in their charge reading. For those of us who are – ahem – somewhat older, Blood of a Mermaid is a fun and exciting story from a time that recedes in the rear-view mirror with each passing day.

If you – and by that, this reviewer means readers who are young and/or young at heart – enjoy fantasy, adventure, young love and all those intangibles that make our lives what they are,  Blood of a Mermaid by Katie O’Sullivan is a fun and very worthwhile read. One need not be fascinated with those living beneath the waves who swap their fins for feet to enjoy this story but the reader may very well find the world of merfolk to be a rapture of the deep.

 
My Rating:

Katie’s website may be found at katie-osullivan.com

Katie’s blog may be found at katieosullivan.blogspot.com

Buy your own copy of Blood of a Mermaid.
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June 26th & 27th, 2014

Three Great Stories

by

Three Great Authors

From

Three Great Countries

Mark Your Calendar!!!

Mark Your Calendar!!!

 REVIEWS:

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 by Melissa Eskue Ousley

The second book in Melissa Ousley’s Young Adult Solas Beir series is as exciting as the first and leaves the reader wondering where things will go next. Her first book, Sign of the Throne ended with David Corbin installed as the new Solas Beir or ‘light bearer’ in his home world of Cai Terenmare. Although he was originally born  there as Artan, son of King Ardal and Queen Eulalia, he was abducted in infancy by his aunt Lucia and raised in the ordinary and indeed, mundane world which we all inhabit. A hallmark of stories in the Young Adult genre are plot lines wherein young people are suddenly thrust by the course of events into positions of power and responsibility and so it is with David. One day he is facing a pre-planned life of marrying the perfect girl for him and starting work well up the ladder in his father’s business and the next day he is suddenly the ruler of a parallel world.

David is not the only one who has had power thrust upon him. In Sign of the Throne, Abigale (Abby) Brown discovered that her way with dreams was more than an annoying nuisance which plagued her sleep. Since her escape into Cai Terenmare, she has discovered that there is a lot more to her abilities than was once thought. Coincidence or not, she and David have become quite interested in each other as well. There is one lingering question that is not resolved in The Rabbit and the Raven; how did a girl with such abilities wind up in the decidedly un-magical world we inhabit? An unfortunate by-product of the escape from our world into that of Cai Terenmare was the release of Tynan Tierny from imprisonment in the parallel world known as the Wasteland. Tierny was incarcerated in the Wasteland for commanding the assassination of David’s father and has now been sprung by Lucia. Tynan Tierny will – in one way or another – dominate the story of The Rabbit and the Raven as it unfolds.

Melissa Oussley’s narrative begins within hours of Sign of the Throne’s conclusion. Newport Beach, California is infested with Kruorumbrae and though Abby is relatively safe in Cai Terenmare, her parents back home are not. The Brown family are not alone in this, either. Jon Reyes, Abby’s childhood friend, escaped with Abby and David to Cai Terenmare and his mother, Blanca, is just as exposed as the Browns. Faced with this dilemma, David, Abby and Jon conduct a rescue sortie to Newport Beach and return not only with their families but Marisol Cassidy, a mutual acquaintance as well as a girl whom Jon rather fancies. There is a lot to learn now that everyone is – supposedly – safe in Cai Terenmare. Both David and Abby have much to learn about their newfound abilities. David’s kingdom is under threat and he will need to begin to pull things together and quickly. Abby’s power with dreams is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that she and David can arrange a rendezvous in their dreams. The curse is that the royal road to the subconscious is Tynan Tierny’s road to Abby’s mind. It will seem that Tierny knows quite a bit about Abby – perhaps more than is good for her – and he uses that knowledge in his attempts to undermine and control her.

Abby could feel the beast’s hot breath on her skin. Don’t show fear, she thought, planting her feet in a fighting stance and drawing herself up to look taller, brawnier. Look him straight in the eye. If you’re going to die, at least have a little dignity about it. She stared into his eyes and spoke his name: “Tierney.”

Not to be forgotten in all of this are the Kruorumbrae; the thoroughly evil stuff of which nightmares are made. These creatures can shift from one form to another and find humans to be rather tasty. Lacking human or animal flesh to consume, other Kruorumbrae will do nicely. Added to the threats facing Cai Terenmare is the fact that their numbers have rapidly increased and Tynan Tierny has promised them a feeding frenzy of their very own if they help him come to power. No place, not even our own mundane world, will be safe from them. It falls upon David to help repair a village suffering from the depredations of the Kruorumbrae – or is it something else? – and to gain the allegiance of the four Oracles who govern the peripheral territories of Cai Terenmare. The Oracle of the North is loyal to the Light and the post of the Western Oracle – once held by a particularly nasty siren – has been given to a more friendly creature of the sea, the mermaid Nerine. It is the Southern and Eastern Oracles who are the big unknown factors and neither lives within easy travel of Caislucis, the seat of the Solas Beir. David, Abby, Jon and Marisol will have to traverse a perilous rainforest and somehow cross the barren desert to reach the city of the Eastern Oracle.

“Well, David Corbin, you may be the Solas Beir, but you are just one man, and there are greater things at work here than you. Keeping me safe is not your job.” He stared at her, shocked. “It’s not? I kind of thought it was.” Abby put her hands on her hips. “Nope. Your job is to stand up for your people and to serve the Light. So is mine. At some point, we’ve got to trust that the light will prevail, even if it means we have losses of our own.”

With the publication of her second YA novel, Melissa Eskue Ousley effortlessly maintains the action and story flow that so well defined Sign of the Throne. She has extended her well-deserved reputation for storytelling, the rendition of that story into the exacting artistry of the printed page and it goes without saying that the plaudits accorded Ms. Ousley in the first installment of this series most definitely appertain to The Rabbit and the Raven. If she continues to follow the standards she has thus far set for herself and her writing to the third book of this series, The Sower Comes, Melissa Eskue Ousley will undoubtedly achieve a literary trifecta. The Rabbit and the Raven is an enthralling and exciting story for Young Adults. The central characters – David, Abby, Jon and Marisol – are heroic, each in their own way and while there may not be a Cai Terenmare connected to our own mundane world, it is nonetheless a fascinating place to visit via the written word. The reader will find themselves caring about what may befall them throughout the course of the story and nurture the hope that all of this will somehow work out for each of them in the end. Melissa Eskue Ousley continues to follow the benchmark of quality writing she set in Sign of the Throne and it is hoped that this reviewer will hear more from her once this series so stories is complete.

In the interest of full disclosure, the reviewer was provided with an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Rating:

Melissa’s website may be found at melissaeskueousley.com/

Buy your own copy of The Rabbit and the Raven.
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Cover Art for Urchin

Cover Art for Urchin

by S.K. Munt

When the Australian author, S.K. Munt, burst on to the literary scene in the spring of 2013 with her book, The Marked Ones, she ushered in a fresh take on mermaid stories for adults. Once considered to be the stuff of children’s stories and Young Adult paranormal romances, the mermaid story suddenly became more sophisticated and well … interesting. No undersea warriors in hand-to-hand combat with monsters. No running battles between mermen and humans. No kings and … OK, there is royalty involved but it would not be a fairy tale without some royalty, would it? Aside from the royals, most of the characters were relatively ordinary merfolk, trying to make a living, trying to protect the environment and trying to hide the fact that their normal lifespans were measured in centuries. Oh and there is one other thing; the ladies have the upper hand.

The Marked Ones was followed in succession by Three Rings and Heads or Tails and S.K. Munt gained a loyal following that spanned the globe. When the last word on the last page of the third novel was written, readers assumed that Ms. Munt had finished with her saga and the characters would now live happily ever after . . . or not. Fortunately for her fans, she had more stories waiting to be told and Urchin is one of those as well as her first foray into the Young Adult genre. While much of The Fairytail Saga’s pre-history was described or intimated in one way or another throughout the series, there were still plenty of questions that wanted answering.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned   The Mourning Bride (1697) by William Congreve

Urchin starts at the very beginning of S.K.’s world and tells the tale of Anna L’Autienne, an 11th century peasant girl living in Perle Des Bois, a remote town in Brittany. Anna has not had an easy go of it. Her father is an alcoholic sea captain whose way of parenting is not to be emulated. She has 3 older brothers, one of them adopted, and three younger brothers – triplets. Anna is the lone female in her father’s house as her mother died in childbirth –  perhaps escaped is the better word for it – and is as low in the family pecking order as can be. Aside from her duties as cook, maid and punching bag for her adopted brother, Anna is a practicing apothecary, dispensing herbal remedies to all and sundry. She has saved almost enough to buy a one-way passage to Italy and with a little more time she should have enough.

Unfortunately, time is not on her side. Her father arrives home from a twelve month voyage earlier than expected and though he makes a rough attempt at parenteral affection, nothing much has really changed … especially his thirst for ale. Though she is a peasant, Anna does have friends in high places – the son and daughter of the local baron – and it is the latter who sends the Prince du Sang her way in search of relief for his frequent migraines. As it so often happens in fairy tales, the Prince is instantly smitten – smitten and besotted – with Anna and wants to marry her. She harbours no such desire – having seen firsthand the woman’s lot in life – and indeed, has vowed never to marry. The Prince – on the cusp of turning 18 – sees things differently and his parents – ever eager to see to their son’s happiness – are inclined to accede to his wishes even if the Queen sees Anna as a gold-digging, social climbing guttersnipe. Anna’s less than adoring father connives to put his less than appreciated daughter in the best possible light. The king and queen are more interested in her fecundity and when her father reveals the propensity on both the paternal and maternal sides of Anna’s family to produce male children – lots and lots of males – she is looked at in a wholly  different light. A deal is done and Anna is to become the future queen in in a few days’ time.

I wished I hadn’t had to take his name, but I allowed myself to take a little comfort from not being branded with my father’s name anymore. But why should I bear the name of the man who had taken responsibility for me at all?

And that is exactly what happens. Her final chance at escaping to Italy is thwarted, Anna quickly becomes Princess Anna L’Court and her handsome prince quickly claims what is his by right. Anna’s freedom, childhood and innocence are gone in less than a day. It should be mentioned that at this point in the story, her prince is really not a bad person but merely a weak and spoiled young man, rather used to getting what he wants and who is disappointed that his new wife does not instantly love him the way that he instantly loved her. Nonetheless, his blandishments continue and Princess Anna falls pregnant within the month … with twins … both of them girls. Within a year, the prince has ascended the throne and Anna has fallen pregnant once again … with a girl once again. The only positive thing that may be said for this point in time is that Anna has at long last fallen in love with her prince and they are happy together … at least for a while.

Let it never be said that the nobility loves to see someone from the bottom rungs climb to their level or even higher. Through no fault of her own, Anna has made enemies along the way; all the young ladies who wanted to have a go at the prince are now jealous young ladies and the principle that no good deed goes unpunished has entered from stage left. Her skills as a healer has led to charges of witchcraft and Princess Anna is hustled off to a remote island – without her daughters – to hide until the prince can collect the necessary evidence to disprove the charges. Although Anna’s seclusion is only intended to last a relatively few weeks, those weeks turn into months and her prince comes to visit less and less frequently. On his final visit – just before Anna is due to deliver – he attempts to drown her but Anna doesn’t drown. Something else happens.

Urchin, is told through a narrative written by Anna L’Court nearly seven centuries after the fact and buried on the same desolate island that she lived upon for the duration of her second pregnancy. Anna’s great grandchild, Ivyanne – Queen Ivyanne – has searched for this record of her great-grandmother’s beginnings in the hope of finding answers; answers to how things really began, answers to a question she must deal with in the future.

She wanted to swim, desperately-needed to feel the thump of her tail against the waves-but she had more important matters to deal with first; Silencing the only human man who knew the story.

It often falls within the reviewer’s province to advise the prospective reader as to whether they should or should not buy and read the subject of the review. It has fallen to this reviewer to do likewise but to also include a caveat. If your tastes in literature include mermaids, the middle ages, S.K. Munt’s Fairytail Saga, or wronged women on a rampage, then by all means read Urchin as soon as possible. If your literary tastes include a stonking good Young Adult paranormal romance, then this book is for you. If you are simply looking for a good read, then you should consider giving Urchin a go.

Urchin is suitable for older Young Adults, New Adults and above. Middle range and younger readers may find some of the imagery in this book to be disturbing.

As mentioned above, this reviewer’s advice comes with a caveat. Simply put, prospective readers should  bear in mind that in reading Urchin, no heart will remain unmoved and that no soul will remain unstirred. Ms. Munt is an author of no mean talent and she has admirably exercised her gift of spinning stories once again. Those who follow ascendant authors will do well to take note of her as this is her fourth literary outing and S.K. has again delivered what most readers – Young Adult and older- look for in a story; A riveting and entertaining tale that both satisfies and yet leaves them wanting more. All good things must come to an end sooner or later and The Fairytail Saga is no different but things are not quite done with.  The fourth installment, Stained Glass, is presently scheduled for release in April of 2014.

It is standard practice for reviewers to give some sort of rating for a particular book. The most common form is to award the book one to five stars or in the case of The Parsons’ Rant, one to five pipes. It is here that such rating systems fall short, for in the case of S.K. Munt’s Urchin, five stars are not enough and the author must content herself with what is available.

In the interest of full disclosure, the author provided an Advance Review Copy (ARC) in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Follow S.K. Munt on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/skmuntor on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7159848.S_K_Munt/blog

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The holidays are almost upon us and since Black Friday – or Black Thursday as it is starting to look like – is coming up fast, many of you may be wondering about just what to give your favourite mer-fan. If not, the you may be wondering just what you’re going to do with the Hanukkah and/or Christmas gelt that is sure to come your way. Submitted here for your consideration is one possibility.

Life as a mermaid can be suffocating.

Free on Amazon Free on B&N Free on Smashwords

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.

About Amber Garr

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Amber Garr spends her days as a scientist and nights writing about other worlds. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. Amber is a multiple Royal Palm Literary Award winner, author of Waterproof, The Syrenka Series, The Leila Marx Novels, and the upcoming Death Warden Series. When not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.

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Cover art.

Cover art.

by Marie McKean

In 1975, the American artist, Jamie Wyeth, created a painting called “And then deep into the gorge” which depicts a person driving a buggy led by a team of two white horses. The buggy leaves the dappled light of the forest behind as it proceeds down a road and turns to the viewer’s left – always a bad sign in paintings – into the leafy gathering gloom of darkness, a foreshadowing of what is to happen to the person driving the buggy.

This painting came to mind when I first saw the cover art for Marie McKean’s Born of Oak and Silver and that feel of it was certainly reinforced as I read more and more of her down right dark and creepy tale.  Wyeth’s creation portends the automobile accident that will severely cripple his wife. Such a tragedy would be the least of the troubles that Daine Caradoc Dalton will have to endure. We encounter him as a very young boy who has come under the tutelage of Bram Macardle, a trifle odd but generous neighbour of his parents who live outside of Strasbourg on France’s eastern border. Bram is something of a naturalist and takes the young Daine on rambles through the surrounding countryside and provides him with an early introduction to the natural world.  For his part, Daine has a yearning to go fishing like the other boys do and since his father is constantly at work on orders for bespoke furniture, Bram offers to act in loco parentis for piscatorial activities in exchange for seeing to Daine’s education. In effect Bram becomes Daine’s patron and rather than attend a regular school, Bram will personally tutor the boy.

And then deep into the gorge

And then deep into the gorge

The education that Daine receives is unlike any other boy in the neighbourhood will have. Bram Macardle is a Druid and what’s more, Daine is one of Druidic descent. Daine does not take this bit of news very well and wonders if his tutor is barking mad. Given a day to consider the direction for his life, Daine walks home, intending not to return, and wanders through the bounds that constrain Maurelle, a subordinate member of the Sidhe Royal Court. The Sidhe are the faery people of Irish folklore and in Born of Oak and Silver, they are not of the variety that may be found living at the bottom of the garden. The Sidhe Royal Court are intent on making our world theirs and are, in and of themselves, nasty pieces of work. Even though Maurelle is pretty low in the Royal pecking order, she is nonetheless not one to be trifled with.

Daine survives his encounter with Maurelle and considers that Bram Macardle may not be off his nut after all. That Maurelle has designs on him – and not in a nice way – is impetus enough to convince Daine to train to be a full-fledged Druid.  Reviewer’s Note – There are an estimated 50,000 neo-Druids in the world. 30,000 of them are in North America.

When Daine is 17, Bram proposes to take him to Ireland in order to complete his education. Though his parents are sorry to see their son leave the nest, this opportunity for him to travel and become a man of the world is too important for him to pass up. And so, Daine Caradoc Dalton says good-bye to his parents and the only home he has ever known.

I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness at the imminent departure of my childhood, and the constant presence of both my mother and father. And though I fought to hide it, at seeing my mother and father both attempting to act so bravely for my benefit, but failing to hide the tears that now escaped both of their eyes, I too allowed myself to fully mourn the passage of what once was.

The train began to move slowly forward.

I raised my right hand, and planted it spread on the window pane beside my face. My parents both raised their hands in farewell.

I watched them fade away until I could no longer see them on the quay huddled together and waving. When all signs of them were gone, I leaned back and drew my hat down over my face feigning sleep. The hat my father had just given me conveniently hid the flood of tears that now coursed down my face.

Marie McKean has a wonderful and amazing gift for descriptive writing. The passage about Daine leaving his home and parents behind becomes even more poignant  when the reader later discovers that this moment is the last time that he will ever see them alive. There are more scenes  in which you not only see the action but feel  like you are in the scene itself and Marie has chosen to begin her tale with a sterling example of her abilities.

Today has been just another hot and stickily humid day in a seemingly endless string of many. Neither night nor day has offered any relief from the oppressive heat. Even the nonchalant insects seem to be overly burdened by the tyrannical sun. Not that there is anything noteworthy about this during the summer months. In Mississippi, it has always been this way.

The sun has just begun to set, splaying a soft pink glow between the darkening thunderclouds in the distance. The air is thick with an imminent promise of heavy rain. Sparrows exude an unspoken urgency as they quickly skim and dart in the skies, looking to make a quick meal out of the mosquitoes that hover unconcernedly amid the southern dusk. Thunder rumbles threateningly somewhere along the horizon, and a welcomed breeze that was not there a moment ago, suddenly picks up.

You can feel the flies starting to bite in advance of the  approaching storm. The first impulse of this reviewer was to stop after page 4 and simply review Chapter One but Ms. McKean’s writing style calls the reader on to experience more. If this reviewer was fortunate enough to teach a course in creative writing, Chapter One would be presented as an outstanding example of what a writer is capable of doing and, yes, it would be on the final exam.

Marie’s characters are crafted with the same extraordinary care. For example, Daine is a latter day Job who does not lose all in a day, but rather, loses the people he loves – one by one – as the story unfolds. He is a Druid of untapped power and potential but despite all this, he seems powerless to stop the darkness and tragedy hurled at him by Maurelle and the forces she represents.  The most bitter losses are saved for the last.

Another example is Daine’s mother, Carine Dalton. We see her not as a mere secondary character in a story but as a real life flesh and blood mother. The love and concern she shows for her son is most palpable and extends beyond the grave. This reviewer intends to use Carine as an example when he develops his own characters. Bram Macardle, Daine’s father, Bram’s grand-daughters, Maurelle herself; the list could – and does – go on and on.

Born of Oak and Silver fills a void in fantasy subjects as Druidry has received scant attention. This story may well become the “gold standard” for other authors who chose Druids as a theme for their stories. But Ms. McKean’s story is about so much more; Deciet, Betrayal, Evil, Perseverance , Heroism, Sacrifice and unending Love are  all to be found between the opening sentences of Chapter one and the final words of Chapter Twenty Three. To that list, one may add Frustration as the sequel, Born of Ash and Iron, is not due to release until October of 2014.

Sometimes, the greatest accolade comes not from a reviewer but from a fellow author. Emm Cole, author of the Merminia series has declared Born of Oak and Silver to be her favourite indie book of the year. It is easy to see why. In the final analysis, it is left to you, the reader, to make the ultimate decision. Born of Oak and Silver is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the casual reader in the fantasy genre. By all means ,do take the time to purchase and read Marie McKean’s novel. The journey is well worth it. This reviewer is expecting great things to come from her future efforts and is eager to see what else is to pour forth from her keyboard.

My Rating:

Marie McKean’s website is at mariemckean.com

Buy your own copy of Born of Oak and Silver

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Cover art

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by Tracy Lane

Princesses, mermaids growing up unawares on land, life or death battles for the sanctity of the seas, charming men who show up out of nowhere to inform you of your destiny; all these are common plot devices found in many of the new wave in fantasy stories known as Mer-fiction. Considering the massive upwelling of these stories over the past few years, it almost seems that some authors are choosing one from column A and two from column B. As common as these elements may be, it takes a real artist to take these bog-standard devices and turn them into a fun and entertaining story and that is exactly what Canadian author Tracy Lane has done in her first novel, The Call of the Deep.

Enter Mericle Edwards, a twenty-something student of veterinary medicine living with her pre-med roommate in a one bedroom apartment in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mericle was found floating in the sea by her adoptive parents in an odd sort of water-filled bassinette.  In case you are wondering, she was her adoptive parents’ miracle baby and they substituted Mer for Mir due to the fact she was found at sea.

One may also wonder what brought Mericle to Fort Collins, Colorado and it is definitely not the labs for the National Institute of Standards. No, Mericle is there because although she grew up in Miami, she has an acute case of Thalassophobia and Colorado State University is far enough away from the sea to suit her. Mericle shares a cab one morning with a quite handsome young man named Matt who informs her that they’ve met twice before and that everything in her life is about to change.

One year later, nothing has changed and Mericle has almost forgotten about Matt. Her roommate, Kelsey, coerced Mericle in to going on a blind date that includes a cruise on the local reservoir. Mericle is knocked overboard and her blind date, Jeff, saves her. This is the start of an intense mutual attraction that scares the bejeebers out of Mericle and she pushes him away. Jeff isn’t too happy about this development but he nobly gives her some space.

This just the start of things. Gaining the ability to read minds, learning to control water, deciding that she’s ready to begin exploring a relationship with Jeff – who promptly disappears from the face of the earth – are amongst the long foretold changes to Mericle’s life.

We stood, nose to nose, gasping short breaths for what felt like an eternity, but only a few seconds.   Jeff wrapped his arms tight around me and I found myself lost in his deep green eyes and intoxicating smile.

The atmosphere changed.   I knew we were alone but if felt like someone or something was there with us.   A ghost or a presence of some sort, or maybe an electric current?   I wasn’t sure, but it had to be more than hormones.   But as tempting as it was, I couldn’t take my eyes off Jeff – even for a second – to see if the room had been infested with spirits or engulfed in flames.

There is, of course, a certain amount of chemistry between Matt and Mericle. Matt has devoted his life since the age of eleven to her welfare and it stands to reason that he would care for her deeply. For her part, Mericle is hard pressed to ignore the fact that she finds herself attracted to Matt. Things, become even more confused for her when Jeff enters the picture and subsequently disappears. For those readers who are weary of triangles, this is more an abortive romance rather than the old game of “which one do I choose?”

The dramatic tension in The Call of the Deep comes from the very reason why Mericle is where she is in the first place. Mericle’s parents were once the rulers of an undersea kingdom and her father supposedly went his separate way before her birth. In reality, he had taken up with a sub-aquatic sorceress and returned with an army of mutant creatures bent on taking over not only his old kingdom but as many other kingdoms as he can get his hands on. At the tender age of eleven, Matt was charged with carrying Mericle to safety and keeping watch over her until she can return to save life in the sea as we know it.

Matt has been a stand-out protector and guide for Mericle but he’s just not telling her some things she ought to know before she actually needs to know them. For example, her relationship with Jeff would have been off to a much easier start and she wouldn’t have wasted so much time obsessing over Matt if he had simply informed Mericle about just how the mating game works in the deep. This brings up an interesting point in Ms Lane’s telling of her story. In Meri’s post-rescue encounter with Jeff, she is frightened . . . nay, terrified of what appears to be happening and the overwhelming attraction that she suddenly feels for him. Conversely, however, Mericle’s reaction to Matt telling her that she is a mermaid and a princess is almost blasé’ by comparison.

Tracy Lane has developed an interesting cast of characters. There is, of course, Mericle whose character does start out a bit mild in the beginning but picks up steam as the story unfolds. Matt is the ultimate Boy Scout; cheerful, brave and ready to do whatever is necessary for Mericle to realise her true potential. This includes acting as body guard, grand vizier, and court magician all rolled into one.

Jeff, Mericle’s hunk-ah-hunk of burning love,  is a bit of an enigma in that he only has a relatively few scenes with her and, besides the obvious fact that he’s head-over-heels crazy about her, is hard to get a read on. After all, he does appear to vanish from the face of the earth about a quarter of the way through the story. Fortunately, Tracy Lane has provided an intermezzo whereby the point of view switches to Jeff for four chapters so the reader is able to learn the reason for his sudden disappearance and what his role will be for the remainder of the story.

The uneasy sense of mutual attraction between Matt and Mericle is resolved by the appearance of two escaped mermaids from a Southern Atlantic kingdom:  Jayna and her sister Sparrow. It seems that Sparrow is more a perfect fit for Matt and they do have a bit of history together.

Of all the central characters – aside from Mericle, herself – the one that stands out the most is the human; Mericle’s roommate, Kelsey. She is a stand-up kind of girl, protective, loyal to a fault and willing to do anything for her best friend. Once Mericle and company are on their way to kick some tail, it is Kelsey’s task to return to Fort Collins, CO. This reviewer has become rather attached to Kelsey and hopes that Ms Lane will see fit to employ her again.

Ms Lane has created a fun and exciting story in The Call of the Deep and this reviewer is eager to see what comes next in books two and three of the series.  Her novel appears to be aimed at the upper end of the YA market and the lower end of the NA (New Adult) market. It is the firm opinion of this reviewer that anyone above the age of fifteen  with an abiding interest in mermaids and mermen will thoroughly enjoy the story.

Love, fear, change, discovery; The Call of the Deep is about a lot of things but most of all, it is about finding oneself. It is about learning who you really are and where you really came from.

Now I understood.   I was remembering a former life.   I had forgotten how beautiful it was – the diverse array of plant and animal life swaying back and forth with the current along the reef.   The shifting sand of the endless ocean floor and the way the school of bluefish sped along side us one moment, as if to say hello, then off in another direction the next.

The gentle hum of the underwater world was both energizing and calming all at once.

I was home.

Americans are always surprised by the myriad things that come to us from Canada. Excellent Mer-fiction can now be added to that list. Tracy Lane’s sequel, Return to the Deep is expected to release in the spring of 2014.

My Rating:

Follow The Call of the Deep on Facebook at

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One would think that in this age of e-mail, blogs, self-publishing, dictation software, spell-checkers, grammar-checkers and other modern marvels that we would readily find copious examples of good writing. Sadly, that is not the case and good writing seems to be on the wane. I’m not talking here about your Faulkners, Fitzgeralds, Hemmingways, Steinbecks, Waughs, et al. Instead, I’m speaking about every-day good writing; the kind that you see – or at least used to see – in stories, novels, papers, etc. This does not mean that there isn’t good writing out there; it’s just harder to find nowadays.

There are many things that could be used to define good writing: Quality, Grammar use, Structure, and more though that is not the aim of this essay. To narrow our focus, we’re going to talk about fiction. Even with that limitation in place, there’s still a lot to consider. Here is what the award-winning writer, Jim Parsons – No, not THAT Jim Parsons! – has to say on the subject:

“It’s going to depend on what it is, where it appears, intended audience, etc. What would be considered quality writing for, say a newspaper story, might not be the same for a television script or a children’s story. In books, it’d be hard to compare Mark Twain with James Blish (who wrote the Star Trek paperbacks), though each did what he intended to do very well.”

Since Young and Not-So-Young Adult fantasy has been the subject of most of the reviews here on The Parsons’ Rant, we’re going to narrow our focus even more to consider the fantasy genre. When asked, Jim Parsons said:

I’d guess J.R.R.’s trilogy is the gold standard (just like Harvard Lampoon’s version was for parody), although it might’ve been a bit long. But all the elements fit together, it was well crafted and delivered, and at the end, you just said ‘’wow.’’ I’m not sure that Harry Potter would count, as that’s sort of “pop fantasy” vs. “pure fantasy.” Obviously a different style than JRR, but again JK’s approach and execution were very effective.”

Well-crafted and delivered. Effective approach and execution. A “wow” factor. There are other identifying traits, of course, but Jim has elucidated three very important ones. In conclusion, he tells us:

” . . . the most eloquent writing ever will fall flat if there’s no message that connects with the audience. Similarly, a great story can be lost if the writer doesn’t know how to put sentences together. It’s all about balance.”

Below are three separate passages from three separate authors which exhibit most – if not all – of the properties mentioned above. They also exhibit one or more of the other factors that I consider to be important.

The first passage certainly has a “Wow” factor to it. In addition, it conveys feeling and emotion and makes them a tangible item that you almost want to inhale. It is one of the “hottest” passages I have ever read. Please note that there is a distinct difference between “hot” and “steamy”. The latter usually leads to a (very) cold shower.[[1]] By “hot”, I meant that it’s heat enters in to you and radiates throughout your very being. It is not unlike the motto of the Scottish Clan Mackenzie – and Glen Ord single malt:

Luceo Non Uro – I shine, not burn

This passage literally glows, its heat converted to a lambent light that fills you with a sense of “Wow”.

“This time, when the sweet pull came for Tatiana’s soul, she allowed herself to be free and afterward, the connection was so much deeper than anything she could have imagined. Her soul exploded into a song filled with all the goodness that was him. And everything about him felt right. To hold him close, to be with him, to treasure him for all eternity, she could think of nothing else, completely engulfed in his love.” – Brenda Pandos, Everlost

Feeling. Emotion. Wow! The passage comes from Everlost, the third installment in Brenda’s Mer Tales series for Young Adults. Inasmuch as the series is firmly planted in the YA genre, there is a distinct limit to the sensuality and sexuality to be found within those pages. Yet, that passage leaves the reader even more breathless than most adult fiction.

Our next passage will surely show that its author knows how to put sentences together. It is very well-crafted and delivered and it conveys a sense of purpose, a sense of inspiration. If you were not on board at the start of this speech, you definitely are at its conclusion.

“I have been imprisoned here a long time, Abby. These years in your world have made me tired and weak. But I have learned a great many things in that time. One is that I should trust in my dreams, and I have seen that this time we will win. The other thing I have learned is that even when I was in my lowest, most desperate state in this place, the universe has provided for me. It is when things seem impossible that miracles happen.” – Melissa Eskue Ousley, Sign of the Throne

In this short but moving passage, one can almost hear the echoes of the Agincourt speech{{2}} in Shakespeare’s Henry V. Sign of the Throne is one of the most well-written stories that I have had the privilege to review and is an absolute joy to read. If nothing else, I hope that Ms Ousley’s target audience will take away an idea of what good writing – as opposed to texting – really is.

Our final passage is by the author of the adult fantasy novel, The Marked Ones{{3}}, and does not come from the novel itself. Instead, it is a short blog entry by Samantha K. Munt and it is included here to show that good writing is transcendent; it crosses all barriers – both natural and artificial – in the delivery of its message.

“I just went and laid next to my husband for a moment and spooned him, pressed my head into his shoulder and tried to let my guard down and the tears fall. I was almost there-my nose was tingling, my eyes were welling and I was completely feeling sorry for myself. I haven’t slept in three weeks. It’s been all about the book. A roller coaster ride on which I’m clinging to with nail polish that is chipped for the first time in my life. Everything I thought I cared about, every passion I’ve ever undertaken and conquered-doesn’t compare to the ache of uploading your soul to the internet for judgment by others.

But before the first tear could spill, I heard what hubby was listening to-Twilight Eyes, by Dean Koontz, playing in audio format on his iPhone while he slept. My favourite book of all time.

And then I remembered why I’m doing this, and what height I aspire to rise to. And how all I want of this industry is love. Then I remembered the message I got two days ago from a fan who wrote to me, what I’d write to Koontz if I believed he could ever read it.

And I kissed my lovely husband on his bristly cheek, and got out of bed, back to my study with its broken chair, where the winter wind is freezing me off the Pacific through the window. Back where I belong.” – S.K. Munt, Why I didn’t go to sleep

I remember – which really dates me – the series of dramatized key events in American and World history, hosted by Walter Cronkite, called You Are There. I am an older guy living on the east coast of North America and Ms Munt is a 30-year old mother of three from Queensland, Australia. And yet, because of this outstanding bit of writing, I believe that I am indeed there and get a sense of how she is feeling, her motivations and what she is going through. This simple blog post has a “Wow” factor all its own and transcends age, gender, and geography. If Ms Munt can write like this in a blog post, you can imagine what her stories are like.

These three authors have several things in common: Their books have been or will be reviewed here on The Parsons Rant and each of them are or will be the subject of a 20 Questions Interview as well. I hope that you will take the time to read the reviews, read the interviews and by all means read their books, all of which are examples of very good writing.

[[1]]For a better understanding of this, read the “Boat” scene from The Marked Ones[[1]]

[[2]]This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. – William Shakespeare, Henry V[2]]

[[3]]It must be noted that The Marked Ones does NOT fall into the YA (Young Adult) genre. The story is more intended for adults and those in the New Adult age bracket.[[3]]

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