A week of reviews

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Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

Song of the Sea Goddess by Chris Hall

Part fantasy, part adventure and part allegory, Song of the Sea Goddess is an imaginative and eloquently told story about the unfolding of the lives of a group of seemingly unconnected characters following one bizarre event.Chris Hall develops each character through individual chapters that slowly become interwoven and lead towards an unexpected climax. Particularly enjoyable is how seemingly random events show up which give a wonderful insight into the past lives of several of the characters. Indeed each character comes to life as the story unfolds and, as most of the book is written in the present tense, the reader’s connection with them develops in a sort of ‘real time’.
The chapters themselves are relatively short which works very effectively to help the reader to internalise their understanding of the characters and their relationships. 
I don’t want to go into plot detail as each event is important to the overall story and needs to be discovered by the reader, but expect plenty of twists and turns with each page. 
So often, I find, story endings can ‘tail off’ a little, but this is far from the case here; Chris’s ending is as strong as her opening and leaves a satisfying feeling on the reader.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fantasy adventure with its feet firmly planted in reality.

The Wrong Story

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It was the wrong story that leapt up and out at me,

From the page that I saw behind your eyes –

Its tumbling words sang to me as if I were the one,

The only one to whom they spoke.

They wrapped themselves around me like a Winter’s evening shawl,

A warmth and comfort my insides craved,

A tale unpicked for me.

And as my mind began to weave and tangle a missive in which to grow,

My eyes closed blind to those I saw and

Nurtured futures fruitless.

I turned and spread each leaf before me reflecting as I did,

On every word that I planted there,

And every root that you pushed deep.

And only when the stems had grown and twisted every one,

About and through my aching frame,

Did my eyes, at last, loose their lustre –

And only then did I recognise that,

The story I had read was wrong.

Change

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Nothing really changes. The hair may dull, the step become slower; the skin grow thinner and the eyes fade – but nothing really changes. We can give credence to the lie that we are growing wiser, becoming more astute, becoming who we were always meant to be by twisting and bending the truth; by being selective in what we choose to hear – but nothing really changes. We cloak age with words like ‘maturity’ and ‘sophistication’, explain away the lines as ‘experience’ and ‘wisdom’ – but nothing really changes. We are who we were born to be – the child, the youth, the adult, packaged and wrapped like the gift that we were meant to be, each layer removed, revealing more of what we always were; what we will always be. Nothing really changes. We can stare into the mirror, hopeful of seeing a different reflection, an image of an idol, but we are our own gods – the truth lies only within our  own eyes. The only ‘change’ that we ever need is the acceptance of who we truly are.

This Smile

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I wore my smile

Across the years,

It masked the pain

And hid the tears,

It locked the door

And hid the key,

So no-one close,

Would ever see.





I wore my smile

Across the years,

A heavy veil

For silent fears,

To fool the crowd

Within my sway,

And help to hold

The dogs at bay.





I wore my smile 

Across the years,

To fend away

The swords and spears,

But now I find

I cannot choose,

To drop the smile

And to be true.

The Time Traveller’s Murder

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A short review of ‘ The Time Traveller’s Murder’ by Andrew French.

‘The Time Traveller’s Murder’ is a novel which is tricky to categorise – part mystery, part thriller and part Sci-Fi, it excells in crossing between genres to create an engrossing and entertaining story.

Set in the near future it tells the tale of an ex-detective (now turned private investigator) who gets drawn into an elaborate investigation involving time travel. However, as the story unfolds, French brings in several sub-plots which are interwoven cleverly and keep the reader engaged (and indeed guessing) as the main plot progresses.

From the opening line: ‘Detective Inspector Harry Hook flexed his fingers in anticipation of strangling a man’ we are introduced to characters who are rounded, three-dimensional and believable and French’s strong, realistic use of dialogue serves well to enable them to be visualised clearly. The back-stories of the main characters are drip-fed into the novel cleverly, helping to provide the reader for a deeper understanding of both them and their motivation.

The Sci-Fi element of the story is well researched and explained effectively, but also poses some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of time travel.

From the first chapter – which sets both the scene and tone of the book and gives the reader an outline of the lead character – we are lead through a series of twists and turns, many of which are quite unpredictable, and I found myself being sucked deeper and deeper into the book the more I read. Music plays a strong role throughout the book (look closely at the chapter titles!) and acts as a reminder that, despite time moving forward, links to our pasts are everywhere. 

If I were to level any criticism at this book (and it is a very minor point) it would be that I found one or two phrases to be a little stereotypical.

Overall this is a fantastic read which I would recommend for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, detective story, thriller or, indeed, a slice of Sci-Fi.

Remember

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When, at the end of your wearisome day, you finally let your eyes close and you give in to sleep, you should know that you fill the thoughts of others. Somewhere, maybe in the next house, the next street or next town; maybe on the other side of the ocean or the other side of the world, you are being dreamed of. Somewhere your face fills the vision of another; your voice echoes in their ears and the touch of your skin sends shivers up their spine. The memory of you keeps someone awake, keeps someone else safe and fills someone else’s soul with hope. Your history lives in the words that someone speaks and the world that they create; touches lives that you will never know and spreads its seed to places that you could only imagine. Somewhere, as you drift away to peaceful sleep, someone remembers your love, remembers the life that you gave to them – remembers  you. So, as you let your lids shut out the world, remember that you are always loved.

Night Bus

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A short piece taken from the collection of poetry, prose and lyrics entitled ‘Another Tease’ (links at the end of the post. Enjoy!

I sat on the bus, watching the night-lit streets as they passed by like frozen, shrouded memories. The juddering, stop-start motion seemed to bring an uneasy comfort to my body, detached as it was from my consciousness. Other vehicles, heading in the opposite direction, appeared and then disappeared as if they were on some mythic quest, their headlights dull and dim below my position on the top deck of the bus, illuminating nothing but the first few steps on a journey without end. For a moment it seemed as if only they knew the direction in which to move in order to find some salvation, some respite from the pain, and yet I knew, contained within each metal box, was nothing more than one more lonely figure hoping beyond all hope that something, some miracle, would appear to snap them out of their coma.

Buildings rose up on either side of me now; giant monoliths, some pale and dark, devoid of life, tired and waiting for release, others still humming under the electric glow which gave them purpose. Their eyes stared out without seeing through the dark, and were gone again, lost to me as I moved steadily on. Their facades hung momentarily in my mind like all the faces of people I had met in my life, before fading into a sea of ashen memories. The night around me seemed to tighten its grip as, like an abandoned vessel, we sailed on.

To both the right and to the left of me roads sprouted off from the main artery down which I was travelling. They sparkled and twinkled with the hope of the newborn before even their lights were swallowed by the darkness into which, it seemed, the whole world had fallen. I shuddered as the bus lurched around a corner: not from the cold – I had long since become immune to that – but from the impending realisation that we were, at last, nearing my stop, my final destination.

And then everything was quiet, but for the pounding in my chest and the pulsing in my head. What if I were to remain on the bus? Would it eject me when it reached its destination, its point of termination, or would it show a glimmer of empathy, offer up a hand and cradle me to its heart? After all, my brain reminded me, what point was there to alighting, to leaving the bus to continue without me, if you were no longer there to welcome me home?

Another Tease – poetry, prose and lyrics

LULU

BOOK DEPOSITORY 

ABEBOOKS

ALBRIS

AMAZON

Behind

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And with each dying breath 

That settles on the breeze,

To dip its head beneath

The horizon that we see,

Our lives become a little fainter

A little thinner to the eye,

And all the things that meant so much

Fall to the ground

Like Autumn’s sigh,

To be replaced by a growth

Whose colours seem,

To weary eyes,

A little paler in their hue

A little less impactful,

And as we mourn

The loss of souls

Whose touch we feel as if it were our own,

We step ourselves,

A little closer,

To the hole they left

Behind.

The Witness – an extract

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A short extract from the story 'The Witness' which forms part of the collection contained in my latest book 'Consequences '.
Hope you enjoy it (and if you do you might even consider purchasing a copy - details below). Thank you for reading:

Now he was back on the street once more, moving past the buildings as if he were unaware of their presence. Daniel moved as if he knew that he was no longer a part of the world around him. His eyes took nothing in whilst his mind was consumed by thoughts that his rational self refused to acknowledge. He could feel pools of sweat building beneath his arms and across his back despite the cooling breeze that had begun to drift across the city. Daniel found himself walking quickly, as if there were somewhere that he knew he had to be; as if he were trying to escape the thoughts that were battling within his head. Arguments raged within him, his thoughts switching from circles to spirals and back again, neither side able to gain the upper hand, to strike the final blow. 
Before he realized it, he had reached what he had hoped would be the comfort and safety of his own home. He turned the key in the lock and burst through the door as if it were the only thing that could save him. Behind it, crouching on the floor, he realized that nothing had changed but the empty objects that filled his vision. 



Consequences. 
Three tales exploring consequences; the consequences of random events, of choices and decisions made and of fate or chance.
A Slow Return sees a man analysing his emotions as he is forced to face up to the consequences of his actions following a random accident.
In The Witness a man's life unravels before his eyes after he becomes an unwilling witness to an event which may or may not have happened. 
But the collection opens with Spinning Wheel, a story of fate creating a situation in which the boundaries between reality and fantasy become blurred, leading a man into a series of unexpected consequences.

Lulu
Book Depository  
Barnes and Noble
AbeBooks 



Like Animals

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Like animals

They parade themselves

Showing what they can’t maintain,

Preening, pawing

Dancing in the light

Try to catch another eye,

Brightly coloured

Always on display

Nothing left to keep behind,

Pick a trinket

A fleeting treasure

And hold it for the world to see,

Until the sun shines

Patterns repeated

Is this the only game we know?