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The Garden And The Glen

Elizabeth Moseley’s The Garden and the Glen is a delightful fable with a timeless feel. The story, which follows a blue butterfly exiled from her home for being different, is simple yet poignant. With the help of her charming woodland friends, who take her in with gracious, open arms, blue butterfly finds the strength to overcome the tyranny of the bossy butterfly and once again turn the forest into a safe haven for all to inhabit without fear of discrimination.

The book is divided into sixteen chapters, including the epilogue. Each chapter is bite-sized and easily digestible by younger readers, while still remaining enjoyable and engaging to older readers. The delivery of this fantastic story is similar in style to Aesop’s Fables.

Maggie Green, the illustrator, does a superb job at capturing the idyllic imagery of the garden and the glen. Her use of soft pastel watercolors throughout makes both the woodland creatures and the scenery of their home appear magical and precious. The illustrations also help the reader follow along with the dialogue and happenings of the story.

The content is just as welcome in an elementary school classroom as it is to a contemporary adult audience. The author’s ageless message about the value of embracing our own differences, as well as the uniqueness of those around us, is particularly relevant at this current juncture of 2020. This is a read I would gladly pick up over and over again when I feel that I need the inspiration it provides.

The Garden and the Glen

GardenAndGlen.com

 

Ever Alice

Ever Alice by [H.J. Ramsay]

H.J Ramsay’s reinvention of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland is as beautiful as it is eerie. Her book, Ever Alice delves deeper into what Wonderland truly is. Through the eyes of both Alice and Rosamund, the Queen of Hearts, she gives two perspectives of a powerful tale. In many ways, Ever Alice reads like a sequel to the original Lewis Carrol classic.

While this book starts with Alice trying to recover from her first Wonderland visit and trying to fit in to her family, it ends with her finally finding her place. Throughout the story, she continues to follow and look up to the White Rabbit in the pursuit of her true destiny. On the other hand, the Queen of Hearts continues with her fits of paranoid rage which unexpectedly lead her down a path to more destruction than she had ever imagined.

Ever Alice is undeniably creative, but I felt that the first part of the novel wasn’t as eventful and compelling as the rest of the novel certainly is. However, the author more than makes up for this. It almost feels like this transition marks a quick-paced race to the biggest plot twists of all time. Even with this I still felt like the first few pages captured the original feel of Wonderland and how things are just a bit absurd.

The ending of this book leaves you with as many questions as it does answers. In some ways, it makes you think deeper about what Lewis Carroll was trying to convey in the original classic.

In this book, we get to interact with many beloved characters but some of them have been written in different and unexpected ways. For instance, our beloved Mad Hatter is no longer close to Alice in any way; sad in my opinion, but I see how the author uses such unexpected occurrences to give the story more depth .

The running theme of this book is family and the need to belong. It is a book for the misfits and the characters are a representation of this. Ultimately, it is evident that the plot of this book was extremely thought out and meticulously planned. I also love the whimsical writing style used by H.J. Ramsay. A wonderful continuation of a literary classic that adds a unique layer to a much beloved fantasy story.

Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07TNHCZG8

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Voyage Of Pearl Of The Seas

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by [Ruth Finnegan]

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an enchanting novel about two characters, Kate and Chris. The plot of this fantastic novel follows these two endearing character’s who travel on a ship that they built for an exciting adventure. On this adventure, they learn make sacrifices, gain wisdom, and develop a deep bond between them. This novel is a prequel to Ruth Finnegan’s award-winning Black Inked Pearl, however it was made after and the former and explores different themes and ideas. Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is a short novel but it still explores deep issues that we can all relate to.

Ruth Finnegan has created a unique novel with Voyage of Pearl of the Seas. The story excels above others in many aspects. It is written in a style reminiscent to that of poetry than a standard novel which is beautifully eloquent in most areas.

I enjoyed following Kate and Chris, and their dog, on a wondrous adventure. Both Kate and Chris are well thought-out characters, but the real beauty is in how they evolve throughout the story. We get a sense of who they are and why certain actions were taken, though they are kids and sometimes children’s actions, to adults, can be frustrating. The themes this novel explores are deep and sometimes dark, like abuse and abandonment. While not exploring both to the same degree, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas may not be as robust in the themes of abuse but it succeeds in  themes of abandonment. Finnegan explores abandonment expertly and I, as a reader, felt that this was where the novel was at its best. It skillfully displays a person’s feelings of despair and anxiety when they have been left behind by everyone they love. This is something everyone has gone through yet only few novels can portray effectively.

Ruth Finnegan has undoubtedly created a beautiful story and where it succeeds, it excels greatly. Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an intriguing YA fantasy adventure story.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B079GPQMG1

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The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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An Imperfect Hero

Holly S Ruddock Author Interview

Holly S Ruddock Author Interview

The Warrior Arises follows a young fairy who must survive a world suddenly turned on its head and face world-changing challenges. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

My story is allegorical. I was inspired by C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan for a genre. But I was also inspired by my four military children and our life as a family who serves our country. I wanted to create parable-like circumstances that the reader could relate to—showing real-life situations in a fairytale setting—raising awareness of our world problems, such as bullying, fear, drug addiction, or human trafficking. I intended to introduce the gospel subtly to those who may not know a loving father. Beathra represents Jesus, and the fire seed our connection to him. The Whisper is the Holy Spirit, and the Great Ghost warrior in the Sky is Father God.

I wanted to create a character similar to that of David and Esther, where others may have been overlooked and viewed as insignificant. Still, God hid great gifts in a very common or dismissed individuals.

Ruby is a unique and intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Ruby is based on me and my childhood. Many of the stories are real, like the bullying, harassment, social anxiety, and even the cruel teacher and practical jokes. It took me years to understand my quirky personality and appreciate it as a gift. I wanted the reader to relate to Ruby’s struggles of academics and social settings. As Ruby faces challenges, she has learned to hear the voice of Beathra and The Whisper and follow their leading. This connection was to display that God is always trying to speak to us; we just need to learn to listen. As for Rubys development: I hoped to show her grow in confidence and self-acceptance. I wanted to show an imperfect hero who makes mistakes, struggles with anxiety or fear, and must grow into her identity and destiny. Many of us feel like a square peg or displaced. As Ruby grows in confidence and strength, hopefully, the readers are encouraged to do the same, and they are inspired to view themselves as rare, rather weird.

I enjoyed the world you’ve created in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?

As with most allegorical tales, I have hidden meanings throughout the story. Hope is the theme, and the enemy of hope is fear and despair. I show how the enemy targets our minds to focus on our biggest fears or insecurities, creating doubt or distrust in our Heavenly Father. The wild gidgies who live in the mountains are those who have run away from their call or fellowship with other believers. They lost heart and now hide from conflict, protecting themselves from future pain. Skawlterrin, of course, is the devil’s playground, luring the rejected, hopeless or desperate soul and offering false hope, a place to belong, and lying about acceptance. The Darphea wilderness is the journey those take running away. Havengothy is a land created to flourish, and for giddies to serve, love, and be loved. But Neeradima is bent on corrupting a world that is full of hope and purpose. The overall theme is to show that sometimes, what tries to destroy us, just might be where we are called to bring change. Ruby losing Sebastian propels her into her purpose, and Lewis and Trixie being tricked by the enemy catapulted them into their destiny.

This is book one in your Light Of Beathra series. What can readers expect in book two?

I actually wrote book two first but felt I need to give a back story to the characters. Book Two is where it really picks up. I want the reader to grow up with the characters. I was careful to keep too much horror from a young reader, but in book two, we will see more of Skawlterrin and evil. We will see a lot more of the liath, Stain. Billick will be a significant presence in Ruby’s life. We will follow Jo and Kody’s recovery from war, and watch Rubys struggle to join the Skyforce. There are character developments with Mr. Ryster, and we will also be introduced to the water gidgies. Kody gets married, and Jo changes careers due to his injuries he sustained. Ruby lives on her own and unknowingly begins to develop into a weapon for the King. We also see more of C.J and Callie and the Hyperion Lions and other marvelous and magical creatures.

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The Warrior Arises: a tale of an unlikely hero (The Light Of Beathra Book 1) by [Holly Sue Ruddock]

Heroes rise from the most unlikely places. For, what others might view as unusual or irrelevant, just might be the surprising weapons needed to defeat an enemy.

If Ruby existed in today’s world, she would possibly be labeled with learning disabilities and perhaps a slight case of social anxiety. She is unusual in many ways. With radiant pink wings and unruly hair, Ruby stands out. But never in the way she wanted to. It is the peculiarity that draws attention to her; from her vivid imagination to her misunderstood sense of humor; Ruby is a rare fairy indeed.

But even in a mysterious world where all is strange and unusual, different isn’t always celebrated.

The story begins at the end of Ruby’s senior year and takes you through an eighteen-month journey. Ruby attends Havengothy Gardening University with her best friends, Sebastian and Ellie. It is during her years of school that Ruby develops a stubbornness to overcome. She was bullied for her poor grades and her wild hair. And if that wasn’t enough, she was a bit of a klutz. But Ruby never let the bullies get the best of her. With the help of her best friends, Ruby was able to pull off some epic pranks of retaliation, usually ending with detention, but the crime was always worth the punishment.

After finding a book in one of her professor’s offices, her real adventures begin. The book documented magical charms that were once used by the caretaker of the garden, Neeradima. Neeradima was a forest spirit that lived in Havengothy long ago. But envy darkened her heart. Exiled for betraying her land, Neeradima had one goal; To destroy the two ruling spirits of her former home. But the only way to hurt them was to wound or distort their beloved creation.

Her servants cunningly lure the victims away from their safe garden. Targeting the lonely, unhappy, or unusual; manipulating them to question their king and his goodness. And then, the evil servants would offer a solution to end the misery of their victims; a new life. They only needed to sacrifice one thing.

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The Master’s Garden

The Master's Garden: An Allegory of Abiding in the Vine by [Rose Noland]

Young Violet is going through her own list of troubling times. She should be carefree and living a life of no worries, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for her. Luckily, Violet’s grandmother, Roselyn, has the answer. Roselyn, an avid gardener, knows exactly how to help Violet come to some important conclusions about her spiritual life, and she knows how to do it without pressuring Violet or making her feel the stress of decision-making. Once Roselyn begins telling her story, Violet is lost in a world of fantasy that takes her on her own journey of self-discovery.

The Master’s Garden: An Allegory of Abiding in the Vine, by Rose Noland, describes the relationship between God and his children in terms of the most beautiful metaphor of a gardener and the host of plants to which he tends with love and care. Noland’s characters are relatable and offer readers a multidimensional look into understanding God’s love and the patience we all must show while coming to the understanding that we are not perfect and were never meant to be.

Noland has created a cast of characters, talking plants, that, without question, convey the message she wants to provide her readers. She uses the story-within-a-story method to create an image for both her readers and for her character, Violet. It is through Violet’s eyes that readers watch the changing New Dawn discover herself and come to understand her purpose and the reasons for her trials and tribulations. Noland says to her readers what many are not able to convey. Her story is a truly wonderful metaphor for God’s love and will reach readers who are unable to see this message playing out in their own lives.

Violet, always eager to hear the stories her Grandmother has to tell, cannot help but be entranced by the story of the Master Gardener. I was especially taken with the way the author describes the purposes given each flower and plant and how their actions impact others either directly or indirectly. Violet is able to learn so much about herself from the story, but we, as readers, are just as taken with Roselyn’s tale of trust and growth.

I have never enjoyed being preached to outright about how much I should trust and believe throughout my hardships. That’s just a difficult thing for many of us to do–to listen and believe. Noland, however, teaches a very hard lesson in a way that is both easy to read and easy to believe and apply to our own lives. I highly recommend The Master’s Garden: An Allegory of Abiding in the Vine to any fan of inspirational readings or those who are looking for a book to renew their own beliefs. Rose Noland’s book is a comfortable walk of faith in uncertain times and is a wonderful tool for guiding young people in their own faith.

Pages: 95 | ASIN: B0887NJNFY

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The Corruption of Power

Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview
Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview

The Fortieth Thief follows young Henry as he sets out to become a thief and learns a lot about life along the way. How did you uncover this fascinating story?

Well, like my other stories it just sprang up from my unconscious, or somewhere. So your ‘uncover’ is exactly right.

I now also see that, again like my other stories, it actually fits with my preconceptions and personality. I always like to think about the life of the underdogs – in a way the thieves were that, else why would they have been forced into that life? Like many people, alas, they probably had few if any choices open to them.

As an anthropologist too, I like to explore the lives of those (like taxi drivers, my next nonfiction project) that are not much noticed, possibly looked down on, and at any rate about whom we mostly know little. Since we can’t in practice do it for everyone in any particular category, we often focus down on a specific case or cases. Just like in this story.

So it happened that I started to wonder what those legendary thieves were like. We don’t know – where did they come from, what backgrounds, how recruited? were they all the same?

I went to sleep with those questions in my mind – and when I woke the story was just there. I can’t help feeling that in some other age or universe it did indeed happen just like this.

How did you set about bringing this story to life for modern readers?

I have to confess that at first I partly misremembered the story and thought that Ali Baba had been with the thieves all along. So I had to the change the start a little so as to explain that. I was happy to do so as it’s a familiar thing that power can go to your head – part of the moral (it happened to the thief leader too, can happen to us all).

All right the setting is in the long long ago – but what can be more contemporary than the bullying of powerless little Henry by the mighty gang or, all around us, the corruption of power?

I think the story was a morality tale, but also one of the natural world. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your story?

You’re quite right.

Well I suppose two, no three, main things.

First, at the start the idea that ‘power corrupts’. Yes, all around us.

Second, it takes me back to my core (not exclusive) discipline of anthropology, one that is now taking fiction seriously. Maybe it’s a case of the old saying that ‘fiction can be truer than truth’ – at least in a metaphorical or transferred kind of way.

From the story we can see, symbolically, that it is good to think with compassion and (same thing isn’t it?) understanding of those who, in a different way from ourselves seem to have gone wrong, even the biggily-yelling Thief Leader, let alone little loving Henry. And not just ‘thieves’ either.

And yes, nature. We are left with Henry’s gesture at the end of not keeping the jewels to himself or even his adored little sister but giving them (back?) to the sweetly flowing river, where (just to prove it’s true) we can see the signs of them still, glinting in the sun on the rocks. Like Henry, we need to recognise that the world’s riches are not for ourselves or for hiding uselessly away or for squandering but for returning to the earth from whence they came. Then heaven will look down, or the moon, or whatever, and keep our planet green and living and lovely. Quite a ‘green’, maybe even religious, message in fact, one with which, once a little barefoot Irish girl wandering with wonder through the trees, I wholeheartedly agree.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Ever wondered what the thieves in the Ali Baba story were really like? Where they came from and how they were recruited and what exactly they did? And were they all the same? You don’t know? Find the amazing answers in the story of an ordinary little boy, a newly discovered version now for the first time revealed. An absorbing fairy tale for children of all ages, young or not, with an unexpected twist and an ecological and human ending.

The Warrior Arises

The Warrior Arises: a tale of an unlikely hero (The Light Of Beathra Book 1) by [Holly Sue Ruddock]

The Warrior Arises by Holly S Ruddock is a captivating read. In an enchanted land, surrounded by magic and mystic, a young fairy adopts a special baby fairy. Ginny raises Ruby with all the love she can muster and in turn, despite standing out from her peers, Ruby grows into a young fairy that makes her mother proud. Neither of them could foretell the destiny that awaited Ruby. After all, Ruby had the usual challenges that came with being different to grapple with. Still, when their world is tossed into turmoil, Ruby is marked to play a key role. In fact, her friends, family and their authorities all have their roles to play. The bonds of friendship and family bolster their efforts and give them hope for the future.

The strength of familial bonds is a strong theme that carries through from the very first page to the last. It is demonstrated not only among the main characters Ruby and Ginny but among their friends and their families and their entire community. They deal with threats as a group. Everyone has a role to play, not only in addressing danger but also in keeping their society on track. There is also an emphasis on the characters coming of age. Their actions and thought processes demonstrate growth as the story progresses. This is not only shown in the development of romantic interest but also in the professional pursuits of characters and the choices they are forced to make. These types of thematic layers really humanize the characters in a way that readers can relate to.

Fundamentally, the characters are unique and the world-building deep and intriguing. The action seemed to take place in stops and starts, with some moments of tension building and then seeming to fizzle rather than climax. The reader is also told about a lot of the action rather than shown. However, it could also be said that even in the action and demonstration of evil by destructive forces, the reader is not subject to a complete sense of dread or destruction. Despite this, the world created in The Warrior Arises is an intricately woven backdrop to a story rich in magical realism. The beauty and charm of the creatures and their connectedness to nature evokes a dreamy feel. This is an imaginative start to The Light Of Beathra series that puts Holly S. Ruddock’s creativity on full display.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B086BMJYBY

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