Sorrow pervades the isolated temple. The Master is on his deathbed, and all of the monks are in watchful meditation, waiting.
The Guest, who came here for refuge countless ages ago, is sought out by the members of the temple. He who has made this place his home, away from horrified stares and vengeful hunters, is the one visitor the Master must see before he dies.
During his short meeting with the Master, the Guest learns something that surprises him: eternity has more than one definition.
If this short story was crafted to make the reader want to delve into the longer books, entitled “The Chosen Chronicles”, Ms. Dales has done a very good job. The reader can almost smell the incense surrounding the waiting monks, feel the oppression of their sorrow, and get so involved in the narrative that, at the end of the story, will not be satisfied with less than the rest of the series.
I was as surprised as the Guest at the end of the story, and would love to read what happens after the Master dies. For his death brings joy to all—I must know why!
It’s amazing how the theft of one item can change the fortunes of so many in such little time.
Govin is a 15-year-old boy, forced by the death of his father to take on a role much too big for him–that of sole provider for himself and his mother. He has decided to try his luck as a City Guard, where within two days he is thrust into a perplexing theft–that of a mysterious diadem said to have healing powers.
Tayla, a 13-year-old, starving street child, picks the wrong pocket (Govin’s) out of sheer desperation, which was a mistake that puts them both in jeopardy.
With Govin’s help, Tayla is caught–and accused of stealing the diadem, not just pickpocketing. Govin is surprised and horrified when he learns that Tayla could end up in prison, or worse, without even the pretense of a trial. Risking his life and his future, he frees Tayla and they both go underground.
They join together to learn who could have stolen the artifact. The way events unwind, it seems that the culprit may be one of the inhabitants of the temple of the goddess Natifa, who supposedly created the diadem in the first place.
Then, in the midst of their sleuthing, Tayla disappears. Govin must seek the aid of the priestess Larissa, and risks his own arrest by contacting a fellow Guard, Dalen, for his help. Together, they search for Tayla, following clues to find her and bring her to safety.
And at the same time, to bring the true culprit to justice.
This middle-school-range book was a delight to read. What stood out most was the character of the people involved. Govin acted without putting himself first to right an injustice to someone generally forgotten by society. Dalen and Larissa both risk their jobs for the same reason. Tayla gives up the security of her anonymity to help Govin, to whom she feels she owes a great debt.
The character interaction was well thought out. The reader can feel the warmth and the trust between these four people. The story flowed nicely, and, yes, I could definitely tell there would be more of this story in the future.
Keep writing, Ms. O’Mara–you have a wonderful series started here.
Secluded in an unreachable and mostly-forgotten forest, a thriving society goes about its business. Their people are, for the most part, gifted and special. Education includes practicing and developing their special talents. The rest of the world has forgotten that they even exist.
However, their very presence in the world is essential to its survival. For they hold the key, and the secret, to the workings of black and white magic.
Izanami and Zane are two of the more promising students. Easily mastering the arts of black heka and white heka, inasmuch as anyone can, they are looked up to by the younger students and admired by their peers.
These two lives are changed forever as the result of a practice fight between the two of them. They are struck by more force than either thought they were capable of, and plunged into a world between life and death.
In this realm, Izanami meets her Beast Guardian, a chimera named Amyntas, and learns that she is much more than a mere teenage girl in the Red Mage line. When she awakens at last and tells the elders what has happened, they know without a doubt that she is the prophesied Warrior of Light.
Not much later than this, the village is attacked by outsiders, and Izanami and Zane are plucked out of the melee by Amyntas and set down near the outskirts of a city. Here they meet General Kyros, who introduces them to his King. They plan together to rescue the youngsters who have been taken by the enemy forces.
Bad becomes worse, as the rescuers learn who they are up against, and that he holds a mysterious pendant that turns the Mage Warriors powerless.
Returning, wounded and disheartened, they soon learn that their enemy has loosed an army of his own making, and that it is heading out to destroy the world. Izanami, in her role of Warrior of Light, takes the lead, albeit reluctantly, with General Kyros by her side and Zane as her protector.
War comes to the city–and the villagers, young and old, take up the fight. Success will go to the most powerful–or will it?
Wow, what a terrific book. I took my time reading it, because there is so much rich detail and fantastic storyline. In my opinion, this is one book that would make an excellent graphic novel. I could really see every character in my mind’s eye–their loves, their fears, their insecurities, and their bravery. Their interactions with each other made them even more memorable.
It’s definitely a Part I–readers should keep in mind that, like Tolkien, some stories cannot be contained in one book. This is one series I really need to keep reading–I hope Ms. Buchynski has another one up her sleeve!
Imagine, if you will, a desolate, cold snowy landscape. The wind blows currents of ice crystals across the unprotected plains. In the distance is a line of Ice-Age humans, laboring their way through the white nothingness. Warriors, hunters, women and children. Old and young alike, they travel together and are led by…
Yes, a cat. A small, gray kitty, who appeared at their cave entrance in the dead of winter and changed their lives forever.
Angelica is no normal cat. She was sent from above as a means to help this tribe survive the coldest, longest winter in their collective memory. Targeting a young boy, Aric, she feeds him dreams and waking thoughts, images of a bounteous valley teeming with life.
Then she takes him there. Just long enough for him to see and to believe. Then she leads him home.
After a long and arduous journey back through the snow, he returns to his tribe to tell them of what he’s seen. Naturally, they don’t believe him, until a series of events proves to the leaders that Aric just may know what he’s talking about.
And so a little cat leads them…to a life of bounty, or their certain doom? Is the risk they take worth the result?
Such a sweet story. This was actually inspired by the writer’s own cat, who left this world much too early. Ms. Deane imagined this story as being one of the nine lives her own precious Angelica may have enjoyed.
It’s an unusual storyline. Animal history would tell us that the dog befriended us, taking to its role as protector and companion much sooner than the cat. Felines were and are a non-clingy species, and we would think of them as being aloof dwellers on the edge of the hearth, catching mice and merely putting up with the humans in its world.
But this is one where the cat takes center stage. And why not? Cats are just as loving as their canine counterparts–they are just much more subtle.
I loved the relationship between boy and cat. Very real; a cat’s mind and purpose are not always understood, and so it was in “Ice Angel.” Yet it was plain enough, and proven enough, to be the very life and survival of an entire group of people.
Of course there was the villain, who got his just desserts–always the best part of a story with a bully in it.
The writing was well-done, and the characters vividly worked. What’s even better is that there are other “Angelica” stories on their way. I will be sure to read them all!
First of all, I would like to say that Marie’s last name goes very well with her genre of choice. (SimmMEOW…)
That being said, on with the review:
Kicked out from their home by an uncaring family member, two kittens are left on their own to survive. With very little experience in the outside world, they are reduced to eating grass and licking up rain puddles to keep alive from one frightening day to the next.
Until the day someone picks them up and takes them to a shelter. Cowering and afraid, overwhelmed by smells foreign and dangerous (to them), the sisters huddle together in their captivity, not knowing what will come their way next.
Assurances from the other cats in the room, regular (but insubstantial) food, and interaction with humans help the kits adjust to life within walls again. They start to take an interest in their surroundings, especially the various attitudes of the humans who come to see them. It is highly fortunate, in a couple of cases, that the shelter insists on a background check on families and individuals who come in to adopt cats. There are those whose outward attitudes and/or inner animosity make all of the shelter dwellers nervous; when they are turned away, all of the cats sigh with relief.
The two sisters begin to think that they will be spending the rest of their lives in their ample, but dreary, cage. Then one day a woman and her mother come in and change their lives completely.
One sister, now called Athena–the narrator of this tale–finds herself in a new home, surrounded by food, toys, her own pillow, and all the love she could ever want.
Then suddenly she is in the carrying cage again. Athena worries that she has somehow angered her women. Will she be thrown into the shelter again? Or worse? Will she ever see her warm, comfortable home again?
One of the things I loved most about this book was the pictures of Athena, whose fictional past and true present are told in these pages. I could really feel the emotions this kitty was feeling, as she survives the fierce outdoors, protects her sister, gets used to the dreary but safe protection of the shelter, and experiences the ups and downs of beginning to trust again.
I am really hoping that Ms. Symeou writes a follow-up story, fictionalizing what happens with the other kit. Like Athena, I do worry about her.
Elizabeth is an artist—sensitive, free-spirited, and entirely at odds with what she wants. In fact, she really isn’t too sure of what it is she actually does want. Flitting from relationship to relationship, she thinks she has found what she is looking for—but then her lover starts reining her in, and she finds happiness slipping through her fingers once again.
Traveling with her current love, Peter Safford, she finds herself playing the role of wife (to keep from social disgrace, or so she is told) as they fly to Sierra Leone. To Peter, it is just another business trip as a journalist. But to Elizabeth, it becomes much more than that.
As she basks in the sunlight, roams the markets with her newfound friend, Kaila, and sees a world that is more open and accepting than she had ever experienced, she feels the conflict arise sharply—what she wants (self-acceptance for who she is) versus what Peter wants (marriage). Nowhere is that dichotomy more strikingly apparent than when she is out doing what she loves most—painting the people and scenes around her.
She has much to go through, and much to leave behind. And with the help of her newfound friends, she finds herself healing and able to start up the path toward self-love.
This book is filled to overflowing with such breathtakingly beautiful detail, and with so much depth and color, that I found something new between its pages every time I read it. So much symbolism, even down to the font used in the text (big and loud for Peter, small and quiet for Elizabeth). Even Freetown, where the story takes place, is a symbol for what Elizabeth is struggling to achieve. Sights, sounds, tastes—the reader can find him- or herself transported to the hot African country of Sierra Leone almost instantly. It is a fantastic story. It isn’t hard to imagine book groups spending a lot of time reading and discussing Elizabeth, Peter, Kaila, and all the other characters that make this book a treasure.