Monthly Archives: May 2012
Let’s have a warm welcome for Wendy Laharnar, author of The Unhewn Stone. She is here to give a tour through one of the legend of Switzerland and how it plays into the novel.
Behind the Scenes of The Unhewn Stone
By Wendy Laharnar
Having decided to write a story set in the Middle Ages, I chose to base it on the Swiss legend of Wilhelm Tell (1307AD), because I knew nothing about it, other than some tyrant made Tell shoot an arrow through an apple on his son’s head. I wanted to learn more.
I studied everything I could find about the legend made famous by Friedrich Schiller’s play and thought perhaps History had short-changed the tyrant, Governor Gessler. After all, he was responsible for law and order; just doing his job. In fact, I got to wondering about Wilhelm Tell’s nature, too. He killed the ‘tyrant’, so was there really much difference between Freedom Fighters in the medieval world and the Terrorists of today?
The best way to examine this question, in The Unhewn Stone, was to place my hero, Stefan, on the wrong side of the heroic scene, making him a Gessler descendant, and then I sent him back to 1307. Stefan, a modern youth, bore the stigma of the hated name, even in his home town, because he came from Tell’s own village.
The story grabbed me by the throat and held me for the length of a 94,000-word novel – actually, for 117,000 words, which I chiseled back while editing and polishing.
By means of a magic orb and a wormhole, I transported Stefan back 700 years, so he could try to prevent the legend from happening and restore his family honour. Stefan was reluctant to go, at first. He was comfortable being a loner, hiding behind fancy costumes to cover his lameness and his scarred face. After I ‘introduced’ him to the time-travelling alchemist, who is Governor Gessler’s brother, Stefan takes up the challenge and becomes the Chosen One, the Messenger, on a mission to warn Hermann Gessler not to arrest Tell, because Tell would kill him at the Hohle Gasse, the Hollow Way.
What a joy for me to play in the medieval era, but what a dangerous place for my Stefan with only a Swiss Army knife and a PB100 (Swiss screwdriver) for protection against a shape-shifting sibyl, and an evil knight, who were both determined to kill him.
When my story stalled as early as chapter eight, I knew I needed more information…about the area. I travelled from Australia to Switzerland, with my husband and granddaughter, Sara. We spent a lot of time in Bürglen and around Lake Luzern in Central Switzerland.
Sara, at fourteen, felt intimidated by the towering mountains and the threat of an avalanche. She wanted to get away from there. Also, in beautiful Bürglen, there was more evidence of guesthouses and hotels than farms. So, I re-evaluated Stefan, a farmer’s son who loved this narrow valley. He became claustrophobic, like Sara, and I changed him into an innkeeper’s son who wanted to be like the tourists escaping to greener pastures. He escaped all right, on the promise he’d lose his complex and gain his heart’s desire. He desired his unrequited love, Ursula. But, oh dear…poor Stefan.
Since I was reinventing the legend, my main problem was in not offending the lovely
Swiss friends I made while in Bürglen. They treasured the Wilhelm Tell legend.
When they learned my hero was a Gessler, they were horrified and sought reassurance I’d give the story a happy ending. Well…this is Stefan’s story, so The Unhewn Stone has the inevitable ending, but I hope they won’t be disappointed if they get to read the novel, which would need to be in German translation for them.
Thank you Wendy for stopping by and giving us an insight into the background of The Unhewn Stone.
Blurb from Amazon:
When teenager, Stefan Gessler, answers the call to restore his family’s honour, he discovers it takes more than superior education and pride to equip him for life in the Middle Ages. His dangerous adventures threaten his courage and challenge his beliefs.
Immersed in the turbulent events of the Wilhelm Tell legend, Stefan pretends to be a wizard when an avaricious sibyl mistakes him for an alchemist. The shape-shifting sibyl and an evil knight have diabolical reasons to want the wizard dead.
Faced with his own demons and those of medieval Switzerland, how will Stefan complete his mission and escape the fourteenth century…alive?
Life in the Middle Ages is a dangerous game, even for Üserwäälti, the Chosen One.
Images were provided by Wendy Laharnar.
Title: Kiss Me, I’m Irish
Author: Bella Street
Series: Time For Love # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ Smashwords/ B&N
I won a copy of this novel in a giveaway hosted by the author
n 1813, Emily Musgrave is heading to a convent for misbehavior. But it was due to loneliness, not rebellion. In modern-day Tennessee, Liam Jackson is playing his Dobro in seedy bars and it’s doing nothing for his music career–and even less for the dark places in his soul.
Pixie mischief can not only change timelines, it can change hearts. Because every girl needs a little magic in her life
Random: I have no idea that choking on gum was possible.
This was my first time-travel romance novel. It was really sweet. A departure from the dark fantasy readings I usually do.
It was a lighthearted novel with some characters that drove me up a wall. Liam, especially, but he is a brooding musician (they tend to that). The novel throws in fantasy elements like pixies and time traveling but they feel secondary to the romance of the novel. The fantasy elements do change the lives of the character so they definitely contribute to the storyline and they fit really well with the contemporary feel of the novel.
Liam is seriously bipolar; his mood changes very often. Maybe bipolar is a strong word but he is incapable of showing the right emotion in the right situation. He gets jealous when men flirt with Emily but turns around and accepts a number from a woman who is dressed “skankier” than Emily. He gets angry when Emily dresses up for her manager’s position but secretly thinks she is attractive. He loves her but wants her gone because she can do so much better than him. I have a slight problem with Liam’s treatment of Emily. He doesn’t like the “going out” outfits that Tinker dresses Emily. They are too suggestive. He prefers her in what I consider conservative or innocent clothing meaning not showing cleavage. It looks like he is trying to keep Emily’s outer beauty a secret from the world. Emily needs his critique of her clothing because she likes him so his opinions matter but he does make her feel self-conscious about the clothes she is wearing. That is never good but the good thing is that Emily does have a backbone and wears the clothing she wants to. She is not completely complacent. Of course not, any girl that runs away has to be strong.
Besides the trying to control the clothes, the relationship between Liam and Emily is well-developed. It goes at a realistic pace and there is enough drama and emotional connective scenes that would draw them together. (Plus, Emily does have a weakness for Irish men). This novel is really good at creating relationships at a realistic level. Tinker and Emily connect really well. It is through Tinker that Emily begins to adapt to the 21st Century and begins to feel more self-assured about herself. Tinker and Emily are really great friends who both gain something from their friendship.
I’m giving this novel 4.5 black butterflies due to Liam trying to control’s Emily’s clothes. It was a great novel on building relationships.
36th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Self-published,Science Fiction, E-book, Where are you reading?-Tennessee
Title: Vala: Agenda
Author: J.F. Jenkins
Series: Vala: Agenda # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I received this novel free of charge from the author.
Cheyenne Loveless was just a boring sixteen-year-old girl. Then Denver Collins bit her and everything changed. Her plants start talking to her, she finds out she’s a Nymph, and a witch and the angel of death show up at her doorstep to take her away to the prestigious Vala School and Seminary. Oh, and she has no choice in the matter.
All she wants to do is blend in and return to being invisible, but the more time that passes, the harder that becomes. Plus she’s a daughter of the Divine, an exclusive secret society which rules the world of myth, and discovers she is a key ingredient to an ancient covenant created before she was born. A covenant that will reshape the order of the world.
Adjusting to a new school is difficult enough, but adding on everyone else’s hidden agendas is the icing on the cake. Cheyenne must learn to see through the lies in order to find her place — and possibly even love — in this new world.
What I will remember: The retelling of the myth of Persephone
I have a feeling that this novel will elicit mixed responses from readers. On the one hand, there are great secondary characters, especially on the dark side and on the other hand, there might disenchantment with the main character, Cheyenne. The plot wasn’t really interesting to me because it’s” a girl goes to a special school where she is supposed to evolve into herself but nothing really happens until the end.” The characters are what makes the novel worth reading and the ending of the novel.
Let’s talk about what is great about this novel, the secondary characters. The secondary characters are so much interesting than Cheyenne because they appear to be more complex than Cheyenne gives them credit for. Mr. Thantos is an amazing character. He is Cheyenne’s teacher and he is a fallen angel with beautiful broken wings. He is very blunt with his words and is a strong character with a special affection for cats. How awesome is that. There is Denver who is not a vampire but has blood sucking tendencies. He is fascinating in that Cheyenne would like to portrayed him as a villain yet he is sweet in a weird and dark way. Not quite sure what to make of him. The character I love is Lucian, he might be the reincarnation of Hades so I’m rooting for him (how typical of me). He is a dark and suave character who has a tale that needs to be heard.
Cheyenne’s friends are twins guys Anj and Zes, Halyn (her roommate), and her frenemy Jewl. I might be seriously misinterpreting their characters but it is hard to like them. I don’t trust the twins because there is something off with them. Too many secrets with them and Anj has already proven that he is capable of using people for his own benefit. I love nerds, I really do but Zes puts me on edge because of the weird relationship he has with Anj. Halyn is all right. Jewl is the ex-girlfriend of Anj. She might be the only I liked because she is assertive of herself and is not afraid to fight dirty.
Cheyenne herself is what hinders the novel from being truly great. She is going to a special school for gifted children yet she never uses her powers or knows what her powers are besides talking to plants. She doesn’t use her abilities and constantly relies on others to save her. She is a very weak protagonist. She is a Divine child, meaning the child of a goddess but we never know what that entitles and that could possibly be save for the second book. Her attitude towards her adoptive mother is also troubling. Cheyenne hates her adoptive mother for not revealing she was adopted but how does a person forgot the connection they have to the person they considered “mother”? Cheyenne embraces her true parents and doesn’t really get mad at them for leaving her in the hands of a stranger. She is strangely calm in understanding and accepting what they said without fully understanding what they were trying to protect her from. There should be anger for both parties on behalf of Cheyenne yet it is one-sided. It safe to say that I strongly dislike her parents even if her mother carries my name, Persephone.
What truly saves the novel for me is the ending. That’s where the plot actually picks up and we have intrigue for the second novel. Lucian as the antagonist repeats history by kidnaping Cheyenne (since she is the reincarnation of Persephone). Cheyenne’s parents are truly mad about this which I don’t understand because Persephone and Hades are meant to be together. Why does the current Persephone resists what should be natural? What could be wrong in their unity? There is a power structure that is not reveal in this novel that could be thrown into chaos by the unity of the reincarnated Persephone and Hades. I’m looking forward to seeing it come apart because Persephone and Hades should be together.
The myth of Persephone is important to the storyline because Cheyenne is a descendant of Persephone. Initially, I wanted to stop reading once Jenkins stated that Persephone betrayed Hades and apparently did not married him. That was a huge “No” moment. It’s not that Persephone wouldn’t have run away from Hades if she had a chance at the beginning of their courtship. It just this new addition displaces the myth itself. However, the ending of the novel reveals that the original Persephone truly loved Hades and is now trying to reunite with him. (It please me to no end to know that they are seeking each other out). It still leaves a bitter taste though. (Obviously, I’m dissatisfied with this version because of who I am).
In the end, the plot is weak and Cheyenne is not my favorite protagonist. However, the secondary characters are fantastic and the underlying politics such as the unity of Persephone and Hades causing mayhem is interesting. I will read the second book because Hades (or Lucian) need to make a stronger appearance . The storyline has great potential but it just might come in the second book. Plus, I need to see Persephone and Hades happy together so I’ll be reading the second book.
35th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: YA Mythology, First in a Series, E-book,
This is the first book trailer I’m posting on Persephone’s Winged Reviews. It has pretty good music accompanying the storyline.
The reason it’s going up is I’m doing a review for the book on Friday, May 11 and there is going be a giveaway. It’s not just a giveaway though, it’s a giveaway package. (Includes a paperback copy of the novel, a T-shirt and other goodies).
I hope you guys are interested in the novel. Free to stop by on Friday to see the review and enter the giveaway.
Title: Dead Man Walking
Author: Marty Shaw
Series: The Infected # 1
Pub. Year: 2011
I receive this novella free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Amazon:
Zombies in prison
Griffin knew watching an inmate being put to death wouldn’t be fun, but he never expected Callahan to return as something less than human. Now Griffin, along with a handful of officers and inmates, are trapped within the walls of a prison as a legion of the walking dead stalk them for food.
The choice is simple – fight back or die.
It was a well-written novella that makes me questions how a zombie can exist. Shaw instead of making a zombie virus, he sticks to the traditional roots of zombies from Haiti. In Haiti, zombies are created through a special powder and I think Shaw combines this along with spells to create his zombie.
Callahan is an unstoppable zombie. He gets maimed, burned, shot and he still gets back up. He is not a normal zombie since the other prisoners zombies do die like regular zombies. Callahan has this air of supernaturalism that doesn’t feel supernatural but there is no other way to explain why normal methods of killing zombies do not bring him down.
Griffin was an effective leader. He control himself when his boss really couldn’t. He pursued Callahan when he could have let others go after him.
It was a good novella. It was bloody and gory, everything that is expected of a zombie tale. I can’t wait to read the second story in the series.
34th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Self-published, E-book, Science Fiction, Zombie, Men in Uniform
Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.
On my wishlist is: Helper12 by Jack Blaine
Helper12 works as a Baby Helper in Pre Ward, the place where babies spend their first six months of life before they’re tracked for vocations and sent to training. She does her job well, and she stays out of trouble. But one day, the Sloanes, Society members who enjoy all the privileges of their station—family unit clearance, a private dwelling, access to good food and good schools—come to “adopt” one of the Pre Ward babies. The Director makes a deal and the Sloanes walk out with a brand new child.
They also walk out owning Helper12—the Director sells her to them, and there’s nothing she can do but go. At the Sloanes, Helper12 enters a world where people should be able to enjoy life—with high position and riches come the opportunity for individual freedom, even the chance to love—but that’s not what she finds. The Sloanes are keeping secrets. So is their biological son, Thomas.
Helper12 has some secrets of her own; she’s drawing, which is a violation, since Baby Helpers aren’t tracked for Art. And she’s growing to love the child she was bought to care for—at the same time that Ms. Sloane is becoming disenchanted with her impulse baby buy.
When all your choices are made for you, how do you make some for yourself? Helper12 is about to find out.
I love the sound of this novel. It sounds really intriguing. The fact that it seems that parents no longer take care of their own children is a bit sad but should provide an interesting view into the parent-child relationship. I’m curious as to how Helper12 will come into her own being.