Cycladic Girls

Cycladic Girls ISBN: 9781735123004 first published by Aegis Press copyright and written by Patrick Garner.

Sub-titled Celebrities, Deities, Love & Power; Greek Gods in the Modern World, this second book in a series (first, The Winnowing) states that the characters are not based on living persons. Rather, only the gods and goddesses are real. An author’s note explains that it is a ‘stand-alone’ volume but readers would find references to events in the first to appear frequently here in the second. For example here, Jackson Night is the story’s narrator and is an individual Lachesis, one of the three Fates who control life spans of mortals and gods alike made him a-mortal; e.g. he, like the gods, will live forever but is not immortal as are the gods, including his wife Danaë, who is a demi-God, daughter of the god of the seas, Poseidon and his human wife. The tale, as related by Jackson, follows the progress of Timessa, a nymph protected by Artemis (Apollo’s sister) who, feeling ‘controlled’ decides to leave and gradually evolves into what they know as ‘The Great One, Ishtar of Babylon and many other names. She preceded all of the other gods by perhaps a millennium and was the most powerful of all. She could bring fertility and she could kill by atomizing and scattering her selection to the winds.

The story follows her life as it emerges from her move as one of Artemis’ nymphs as she moves to the modern world where she attends college and enters a modern day life style. She has a spectacular type of beauty that draws her to modelling where she becomes an almost immediate sensation. As time passes, calls for her from all of the top designers become highly competitive, the fashion magazines pay top dollar for her shoots and she becomes an immensely wealthy worldwide sensation, attracts an almost cult-like following of girls and young women, revives the Ancient sacrifices, relabeling as Observances for pack of followers to be performed at the time of the girls’ period so that the shedding of blood was performed as a tribute to her, a gift they could bestow for those provided by her. The story’s breadth expands as more of the old Greek gods are re-awakened from their more than millennium of sleep and how this, along with Timessa’s discovery of Iole, an obscure French fashion designer, affects Timessa’s need for adulation that had mounted to the level described.

Discussion: The Series author might be thought of as somewhat of a Renaissance man in the breadth of his personal activities. He is a man with several degrees, a poet, playwright who also has established a theater, and author but also is involved as a wetlands scientist and hydrologist. His characters and ancient gods are fascinating and, as described in the author’s notes from the first book in the series, their “Sexual hunger, hubris, infatuation – these emanating combined with divine intellect drive the Winnowing’s key characters” and are carried over into this second in the series. Description of the old gods is supplied to the reader as a most helpful addition. It is suggested that reading the first book in the series will avoid a bit of ‘spinning of one’s wheels’ if beginning this volume.

4* 5* tale; -1 for struggle described if not beginning with the series’ first book.

Canvas of Time

Canvas of Time ISBN: 9798690817947 assumed published copyright and written by Amélie Pimont.

The story is a sci/fi fantasy/romance following the lives of two people, Sarah and Eli, who are consumed with eternally lasting love that surfaces again with each reincarnation. The reader first is introduced to the couple as they are picked up by a passing space ship in a galaxy far removed, find their true love and are brutally terminated shortly thereafter. They are reunited in Egypt where she is a thoroughly spoiled Princess and he her acquired slave. Once again fate steps in and the relationship is fatally terminated. More reunions follow in France during WW I, and again in WWII when their country is invaded, German soldiers are forcibly assigned to their home, and their fortunes again end unpleasantly. The last reincarnation presented occurs in Los Angeles where Sarah is a free-lance journalist whose photographs gain prominence while Eli is an extremely famous artist. Destiny again brings them together and they live a number of soul-satisfying years until one night while embraced in each other’s arms they fall asleep and once more ascend into the beyond.

Discussion: The author, originally a Parisian, now is living in Los Angeles where she is a free-lance film maker. I understand that this is her initial attempt at production of a novel. As such, it is commendable. Each plot is interesting, the characters are sufficiently fleshed-out to elicit empathetic reactions and the pace, for the most part is good, although slowed considerably in areas. The writing style is unusual, rather simplistic and almost stilted at times, possibly as a result of use of a second language?  There also is a considerable amount of redundancy and/or repetition of words. Some of these features are understandable because of the book’s basic theme. However, a considerable amount actually is disconcerting, if not exactly annoying. However, as a total presentation, the author has produced a most interesting story that deals with a subject that has fascinated people for years. Certainly, these individuals as well as fantasy devotes, will discover these stories to be ‘hard-to-put-down.

 

3* 5* Basic plot intriguing to most; -2* problems encountered for new writers

One If

ONE IF, A Virago Fantasy. Metropolitan Publishing copyright and written by Carol B. Allen.

The story: A young teen-age Parker Kittredge is fascinated by a hummingbird that seemingly tries to get her attention through the window of her high-rise apartment. She opens the door onto the balcony where she slips and falls over the railing. She blanks out only to regain consciousness in a strange place in the sky where she meets Stefanos, a huge Eagle who is the Sky King, speaks perfect English and is introduced to the fact that she now is in Spyridon, a land like earth, in the same galaxy but on a different time line and unseen by planet earth. The inhabitants are like humans but because their planet is disintegrating they have had gradually to transform to this bird-like form to survive. She has been kidnapped because the country’s ruling body believed Earth children might be able to help them to survive. The children, after providing the help would be returned actually with no time lapse between leaving and returning because of the time difference. More children arrive but refuse to stay and help and are returned immediately except for Henley, a rather obnoxious girl about her own age and Edison, a dark skinned boy of similar age who seems attached to Henley. These three first are given a tour of the country by riding on the backs of severe-looking Falcons. First stop is Katamoor, the largest and last remaining real land mass on the continent on Spyridon and the most sacred place on their planet where the abundant and mangrove-like Virago trees house the ancestral spirits of these inhabitants of ‘the Upperworld’.

Next stop, the Citadel which is the Sky King’s Castle. Here Belliza, their kindly little hummingbird usual guide tells them they are to be introduced to the Great Onez, azzaviorz (apparently all s’s are z’s in her speech) of the planet. The celebration is the expected beginning of no shortage of clean water, food, etc. but rather a bright future because of arrival of the three children who would be able to solve why their water supply was turning bad and other problems.

At the celebration there is a big explosion with the deaths of a large number of the huge group of inhabitants that have gathered for the celebration. It is here the reader learns of the Underworld, a second part of the kingdom which lies beneath the Spyridon Sea. The underworld leaders are Empress Diadora and her brother Commanding General Pantione. They had fought a vicious war twenty years ago which the Upperworld had won, but supposedly both worlds wanted to keep the status quo. Though they had thought their water toxicity was just the environment, on testing they discovered traces of poison so they are suffering at the hands of a very clever and careful evil person. Stefanos depends upon his cousin, an old falcon named Vibius, who suspects the Underworld is beginning another war. The Earth children also meet

Great Cole, a young man who can live in both worlds (as can other earth people before they become adults). He came from earth as a child, is Parker’s age, blond, handsome and covered with soft golden feathers like a soft down and has wings that fit closely into his back. He tells Stefanos he doesn’t think the Underworld wants war but will discover the truth. The story continues with fast action portraying dystrophic results that can be avoided if there is a continuation of similar activities on Earth as a lesson that can be instilled in young minds. The climax is fascinating and could present many possibilities for future volumes.

Discussion: An interestingly written fantasy that should provide appealing thoughts for young minds developing in this period of extensive discussion on earth’s problems and the manner in which its inhabitants have, and are continuing to treat it.

5* Thoughtful lessons delivered for teens in a very enjoyable fantasy.

Moraturi Lost

Moraturi Lost ISBN: 9781679850080 published, copyright SupRes, Inc. South Australia, written by Marti Ward.

This is the 2nd book in this author’s Lost Mission Series based upon a relatively large series of sci-fi stories about the Paradisi Project whose basics she describes again in detail so it is possible for this volume to ‘standalone’ without having read Casindra Lost, its predecessor. After Solar Horizons, the public face of the ten Founders has decided to ignore further messages from Casindra, they decide to send a second ship to establish the first colony on New Eden. The autocratic leader Henry Thorndike and his specialties ‘authorities’, Dr. Abramov, an AI specialist in charge of Solar System Security (CIA type), Dr. Aditya Ganesh, Intelligence systems, and Medical Authority Dr. Sabina Gunther call in Captain Michael Evans and give him command of the Spaceship Moraturi. They explain that the Casindra is being abandoned because, although Commander Sideris journey through the newly technologically developed wormhole had been successful, he had sustained severe injuries in subsequent encounters with severe storms in the new galaxy leaving a top level 3 AI in command. Messages sent by this AI made them believe that he had turned rogue because at this time the Founders group back home are facing unexpected difficulties with a strike by different levels of AI’s to which legally they must respond because of a legal snag. Thus, their action is to disregard further messages and dispatch another ship on the same journey.

This ship, the Moraturi and its journey, follows as the second book in this series. Captain Michael Evans as the commander of this new trip which advances to attempt actual colonization with 500 passengers, largely in various cryogenic states and, assumedly because of the problems in dealing with the disgruntled AIs, they provide him with a human crew, backed by mostly low level AIs. This journey also suffers severe consequences with damage to the ship besides injury and deaths to the entire crew, including Captain Evans. AND, these events occur before even reaching the galaxy. They are thrown out of the wormhole at a time now placing them more than thirty years from New Eden. There is no alternative other than for the passengers to step up, crew the ship, and attempt to figure out how they will run the ship and be able to extend the food, power and other supplies of necessities to allow them and their 500 passengers who must be brought out of their ‘sleep’ status in the very near future, to survive and safely arrive at their destination when the ship’s supplies had been arranged for less than a three year trip.

Discussion: This second volume perhaps is even more interesting than the first because of the interplay among the larger number of characters provided. It is aided also by the young ages of the principles and their abilities to grow rapidly with the situation. With inclusion of the quite lengthy description of the entire preceding events, this book, as stated earlier, can stand alone for new readers. However, actual reading of the first in the series before this one is enjoyable in itself and recommended,

5* Enjoyable new series for sci-fi devotees.

The Timekeepers War

The Timekeepers War ISBN: 9781939065643 Bedlam Press, copyright and written by S. C. Jensen.

This is an unusual fanciful thriller with the protagonist known as the ‘Ghost’ in that she, in some unimagined manner can find anybody, or any type of individual requested, for a price. This is a most important function in the world in which she lives. Civil wars of long ago have left a stratified population spread through three levels, a city of rubble peopled by hungry, desperate and dangerous individuals, a relatively well-constructed underground development inhabited largely by fishing villages along the underground river, and an upper city inhabited by the wealthy, living in another ‘city’ constructed by inter-connecting bridges providing all of the upper floors of the high rise buildings to function as one. Their servants are members of the lower city sold by clandestine traders as slaves to be used as desired by this upper city’s population. The Ghost’s younger sister, she believes, may be one of these slaves captured when very young, but she can find no trace until she is approached by Lynch, the legendary terrorist who says he can lead her to her sister if she, with her unusual ability of knowing the citizens of the city and underground villages, will help him put together a group of individuals that he intends to use to overthrow the ruler of the upper ‘high-rise’ city. The tale is about their attempts to accomplish this feat and of the part played by the ‘Timekeepers’.

Discussion: The impression one gains in the tale’s opening is one of wonder at where it was heading. However, it soon settles into an unusual and rather intriguing post-apocalyptic psi-fi story with interesting characters and abundant action. It leaves the reader with no closure per se, but rather a lot of thoughts and questions as to where the author intends to go with the next volume which one is given to understand will follow.

5* Rapidly moving, interesting fanciful psi-fi post-apocalyptic tale.

The Guardians of Erum

The Guardians of Erum publishing permitted by UAE’s National Media Council. Permit # MC-01-01-9623856. Book age group: +17 copyright ISBN: 97899483445, and written by “Self-Publisher” A. Ali Hasan, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Sub-titled, ‘and The Calamitous Child of Socotra’, the story’s setting is one of “Arabia’s pre-Islamic history, traditions, religious beliefs, and local culture and folklore” with abundant activity by jinn. Most locations exist in modern-day Oman or Yemen, but Wadi Erum, in which Part One is centered, is a magnificent city which now is believed to be buried under the sand dunes of Rub’ Al Khali Desert. The story line follows a young farmer and his wife who have a male child born under a particular star which indicated he would ruin Wadi Erum and bring other disastrous results to the world. This all set forth by “Behas the saher, deceiver of all weak minds, master of all sorcery. Necromancer and conjurer, alchemist, and lord of the jinnic realm, and widely known as the worst of mankind.” This jinn Master, or master sorcerer, was at one time acclaimed as a hero by saving Wadi Erum, but has fallen into a less credible position with the gigantic rulers of the city and country itself. Thus, his word still is believed by many and he entreats one of his jinn to kill the baby. The jinn is interrupted and killed by a member of another of an opposing group but cannot stop the baby from being kidnapped. The story continues as a desperate concerted effort is initiated by the baby’s father aided by the rulers and guardians of Erum plus others supporting the powerful Gray Mountain Queen who also wants to find the child for her own reasons. Fundamentally, the story becomes a chase provided in three parts. The first covers the area of Wadi Erum and its surroundings. The second moves the action to the coastal area of Salalah. The third continues onto the island of Socotura where a huge battle takes place, and gradually returns to the Wadi Erum area with a finalization of this section of the tale.

Discussion: This is an interesting historical fantasy involving a chase by the father to regain his son kidnapped by a jinn Master who is fundamentally wicked, but controversially considered good by many for an earlier deed that saved the city. There are numerous characters important to the story and they diligently maintain their parts. All maters considered, a book of fantasy, full of the occult that should greatly appeal to the younger members of the YA group. The author’s fascination with the historic folklore of pre-Islamic Arabia is evident and a thread to which he strongly adheres. From this reader’s perspective a cautionary note must be entered, however. With the level of sophistication existent in today’s youth, at least within the United States, it would seem that the level of 17 + or – suggested as the best reading level may be lowered a little for greatest reader enjoyment.

5* For lower level YA readers with suggested caveat reason set forth.

Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.

The Time Before the Moon

The TIME before the MOON ISBN: 9781718974470 published, copyright and written by Kameron Williams.

In a time of the early beginning of man, the reader is introduced to Omi, a young man living in a small group of hunter/gatherers. The enclave is ruled by an elderly Seer who has contact with the gods and dictates all activities purportedly as they direct. He lives in a somewhat elevated area of the gathered dwellings in a sacred temple. The building, seemingly from an even more ancient period is supported by large stone columns decorated with ancient hieroglyphics. The building also serves as the home of the most beautiful young women of the village, selected by the Seer as the vestal virgins. The rules of living within the group are numerous and strict. Among them are a dictate where each resident must report periodically to the Seer at a set time; marriages are arranged by the Seer and announced only after he has made the partner selection but they are not notified of being selected until the day before, nor do they know who their partner will be until they are revealed to the couple themselves as well as their families and the community at a nighttime firelight ceremony. Even flint for the weapons they needed to survive were obtained from flint forays where the contestants needed to wait to be called to participate in attempting to find the better pieces that could be properly knapped into suitable weapons. The forays including not only finding the flint but then successfully retaining it against the onslaught of other foragers. Then they were expected to give their first real find as a gift to the Seer. The story develops as Omi finds a particularly valuable piece of Flint while unexpectedly discovering a number of unusual aspects of the Seer’s rules and their interpretation that lead him into striking out by himself in an attempt to establish an entirely new way of life. The story of his trip, its trials, effects on family, friends and enemies is the substance of the book and further description would be a disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has provided characters with whom the reader can equate in a nicely paced tale that follows the often provided good versus evil plot, this time placed in a simple fantasy situation. It is an unsophisticated tale that offers a pleasurable ‘feel good’ sensation seemingly seldom encountered in these days of constant stress and activity. A time of almost chaotic political- health-social-financial crises that appear to be dictating every aspect of today’s individual thought patterns and parenthetically even seem contributory to the large number of books being published that dwell on depressing thoughts and matters.

5* Unsophisticated tale, seemingly pleasurable beyond modern thought patterns.

Weight of Shadows

Weight of Shadows ISBN: 9781733563123 Mystful Press copyright and written by Ana Domini.

This Dark fantasy is set in a post-Apocalyptic era following a world encompassing pandemic that wiped out an entire generation. Those who survived are immune, sterile and immortal to a degree. A particular group of survivors have been segregated in a large pharmaceutical compound, Wyrmwood Place, some distance outside Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the company that was able to manufacture the required vaccine. The compound contains all of the necessary laboratories, professional and support personnel and additional guards, fencing and other necessary features for security. Numbered among the inhabitants are 13 surviving children and 2 women who were discovered to be fertile. This is the story of the children, of Mantis, so named by his ‘friend’ Atticus, and other inhabitants and/or otherwise encountered persons discovered with the help of a fantasy figure as the story unfolds. The plot basically is a fantasy/mystery with psychological undertones that takes many twists and turns.

Discussion: The tale appears to be the product of a somewhat reclusive mystery (?), fantasy (?) author who has presented a rather complicated well-written story that moves at a good pace. The characters are well developed within the context and scenes often sufficiently detailed and well described to offer empathetic credibility. Interesting thoughts, even somewhat emphasized by the characters as set forth by the author, include the fact that death sometimes is a good thing in that it eliminates sadness, fear and pain for those who have lost everything, but that on the other side of grief there are strength and forgiveness, A tangential point offered  is the constant presence of greed and the potential harm it can cause.

Summary: From this reader’s perspective, an interesting, well- written/paced tale regrettably offered at this exact time of today’s unemployment, shortages and controlled social environment resulting from a still uncontrolled world viral situation. Thus, if you are a reader looking for enjoyment or relaxation, this book is NOT for you.

3* 5* well written/paced story; -2* at least for enjoyment/relaxation.

After Olympus

AFTER OLYMPUS ISBN: 9781733801713 Lone Think Press copyright by Desmond Mascarenhas written by Santiago Xaman.

Description/Discussion: Pragmatically, and referred to by the author as “pseudo-fiction”, this most unusual book follows a rambling plot following the lives of three men besides the story teller and their wives or significant others as their lives play out after discovery of a hitherto unknown/unreported Russian Space craft of unusual components and containment. The tale is a tumultuous mixture of mystery and mythology with overtones of mysticism (?), occult (?), history spread over a wide section of the world ranging from Guatemala to Russia, the Serengeti and other parts of Africa, India, throughout much of the U. S. and Europe. The four protagonists all are exceedingly well educated and from backgrounds (families/cultures/traumatic occurrences) that make them prone to a somewhat different manner of living, employment and in their reactions to these matters. The pages are replete with thought provoking messages on such matters as the fact that every subject deserves empirical, intuitive and pragmatic contemplation; everything good grows from the bottom up (plants, trees, cultures?); everything projected from the top down is bad – organized religions, governments et al. – these latter often ‘dodge’ by forming protocols that ‘adapt’. Good comes from people thinking alone; e.g. Plato, Einstein; bad from organizational groups at the top claiming from their collective decision that they are right and everybody else wrong. And unfortunately, even authenticity is vulnerable if railed against at a high level maintained for a sufficiently long time. The author seems most interesting, but who is the author? The book includes a previously published “Opinion Piece” of interest in itself, as is another “Rebuilding the House” that discusses replacing organized religions, governments, corporations “with better versions of themselves”. Also some notes About the Author are quite fascinating when contemplating the entire book and the thoughts that arise from the ‘experience’ of reading this book.

5* Unusual, divertingly intriguing experience for certain readers.