I Cannot Live Without Books!

My favorite quote of Thomas Jefferson sums it up! I also cannot live without writing books. I am the author of Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings, which includes a chapter on The Hobbit. Other WIP's include a book on the journeys of Bilbo and Frodo (due out on their birthday 2018), a volume of poetry about a heroic quest and its aftermath, an original fantasy series, and another series anxiously awaiting its turn! 

Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass by Benita J. Prins

Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass - Benita J. Prins

This book starts with a bang with sixteen year old Einur first escaping a sudden storm and then fleeing for his life from those who come to claim him for sacrifice to the Great Achiel  All his sister's young life, he feared she would be the one chosen, but rather his name is drawn. His beloved dragon, Efrix, refuses to help him escape, so he runs. Efrix returns to his side later but goes off again. 

 

The next day, a man approaches Einur as he wakes from a nap. He introduces himself as Eigion and asks Einur if he follows the cult of the Great Achiel. Einur responds he does, but the man notices the young man hates what it stands for and asks Einur to confirm his suspicions. He then bluntly tells Einur to give up all belief in the cult. He then presents to him the great task before him: to find the ancient Third Tribe of the Kelyanic Harmony, who millennia ago refused to worship the Great Achiel and disappeared after many were killed in battle. Eigion says if Einur finds the Tribe's king, this will help defeat the evil cult.

 

Einur finds it hard to believe Eigion's words that finding a king who was lost 5000 years before is the easy part of his quest. The second part will be much harder and involve great sacrifice. Already Eigion calls on Einur to make his first one. Stranger though the man is, Einur trusts him, for he senses the great worth and good of the man and the Power he serves. A much greater sacrifice is still to come. Will Einur have the courage to make it?

 

I really liked this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes an adventurous fantasy with heart. The teen hero is quite likeable from the start. I enjoyed my journey beside him as he grows into his destiny and walks a difficult path with the strength that comes from love, faith, trust, and valor.

 

This author is going places! I look forward to walking further down the Road with her.

The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea

 

This children's tale is of the evil goddess from Celtic mythology, Morrigan, and her allies. She plans a grand entrance into the world to wreak havoc upon it. Two women in her service come ahead to start the party.

 

Not far from where the two women take up residence, ten-year-old Pidge and his five-year-old sister, Brigit, live. Pidge obeys a strange compulsion to pick up an old book in a second-hand store that just opened. The book is actually from the pawn shop that used the space previously. The clerk at the bookstore allows Pidge to take the book for free.

 

Once Pidge gets home, Brigit tells him of the two strange women. Pidge begins to look at the ancient book and dreams (or does he?) he hears a voice who identifies himself as Dagda, the good Celtic god, who tells the boy to imprison within iron a loose page with a picture of a snake on it. There is a hint this piece of paper (or the illustration on it) has an evil sentience. Other people are aware of this book also and come looking for it.

 

And so begins Pidge and Brigit's grand and perilous adventure to save the world from the Morrigan, pursued by her hounds and other threats. The children receive aid by a variety of allies, including a talking frog, eel and weathervane. There's also an adorable family of spiders. Brigit is fearlessly brave, but Pidge knows more truly about the great dangers they face. These test their courage and commitment to their quest before a rousing conclusion. I enjoyed reading this exciting tale and what it teaches about overcoming fear to do the deed at hand.

 

 

 

The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition

The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition - J.R.R. Tolkien, Jemima Catlin

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

 

So begins one of the most famous tales in all literature, beloved by children and adults since first published in 1937. The most delightful illustration of Jemima Catlin enhances this particular edition (2013) of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins through wonder and terror and tremendous moral growth. The narrator, with his asides to the readers, is part of the great charm of this tale.

 

If you have only seen the movies, which do no justice to this wonderful book, read it and discover the tale as Bilbo lived and wrote it. 

 

Enjoy!

Kingmaker's Sword (The Rune Blade Trilogy, Book 1)

Kingmaker's Sword (The Rune Blade Trilogy, Book 1) - Ann Marston

Mouse knows no other life than as a slave in this alternate Celtic-Scottish land, but there is more to him than that. He has strange dreams in which he takes lessons in sword fighting. His waking life is harsh, but it does not crush his heart and soul. Fortunately he has the gift to heal himself of the beatings he receives.

 

One night though Mouse finds his opportunity to escape such brutalities. A new world opens up for the young man after a mysterious stranger rescues him from a bounty hunter.  Mouse appreciates the kindness but wonders who this man is and why he aided him. The man, by name of Cullin, slowly reveals the answers to Mouse's many questions. Cullin tells him what Mouse already intuitively knew: he was not born a slave. Cullin tells him of the life he had before that a head injury robbed Mouse's memories of. 

 

After Mouse learns his true name, Kian, and his relation to Cullin, he takes up the man's trade with him as a guard of merchant caravans. He also learns he can use his healing gift on others when he aids a young girl.

 

Several contented years pass with Cullin, as the man sharpens Kian's skill with a blade. The young man uses his natural abilities to help even the score of a lone boy fighting against three men, only to discover the boy is no boy at all, but a young woman, Kerri, who is not at all pleased Kian intervened on her behalf. They argue so well you know they are just made for each other.

 

Kerri is on a mission to find a missing grandson of a Prince of her people. Her father sent her to seek Cullin's aid. Kian's blade, taken by him from the bounty hunter who tried to kill him, intrigues her mightily. She wonders how he got such a special weapon and because he has it, wonders if indeed he is the one she seeks. She does not know the name or appearance of this mystery person, but she is certain she will recognize him once she finds him. She also awakens him to the unwelcome knowledge he has magic in his blood. This he is loath to contemplate as exposure to it makes him nauseous or actually ill.

 

Kian continues his vivid sword fighting dreams with an added twist of fighting an enemy who can cause him true harm. After he wakes, his arm still bears the wound he received.

 

To help Kerri in her quest, Kian challenges the sword he carries to show him where the prince is. Though he thinks it ridiculous to talk to a weapon as if it were alive, it answers him in no uncertain terms. He, Cullin, and Kerri must now keep ahead of their enemies, who seek them and the Prince as well.

 

During Kian's adventures, he saves a young boy's life, whose father is an enemy of Kian, Cullin and Kerri, and who tells Kian, the boy will grow up as his enemy as well. The young man acknowledges he knew this before he rescued the boy, yet he still chose to do it. I loved that. 

 

Many more perils await Kian, where he meets both grief and joy.

 

I loved this great book, especially the bantering and the bond between the main three people. I definitely recommended it if you want to read a wonderful fantasy with a solid plot and marvelous characters. You wouldn't want to meet the bad guys in a dark alley though, unless the good guys with their swords were at your side. As this is just the beginning of Kian's story, I look forward to reading more about him!

 

The Dark is Rising: The Complete Sequence (The Dark is Rising, #1-5)

The Dark is Rising: The Complete Sequence (The Dark is Rising, #1-5) - Susan Cooper Some of these volumes, the ones involving Will, the Old One, are more like 4 stars. Epic struggle of the Light against the Dark with Arthurian touches. The depth of imagination and description is very well done in the Will parts, especially the second and fourth books.

The High King

The High King - Lloyd Alexander Wow, wow, and wow! I thought the 4th book was the best, but that was before I read this one! What a wonderful book and series, strewn with true heroes and wisdom for them and readers to absorb and live out. Loved it.

Taran Wanderer

Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander The best one so far in this series - still one to go! Love Taran and the growth he has and the wisdom he learns. My favorite quote is from Hevydd, the blacksmith: "Life's a forge, say I! Face the pounding; don't fear the proving; and you'll stand well against any hammer and anvil!"

The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander Another epic quest of Taran's and how he grows in wisdom, courage, sacrifice, pity and compassion. Love to be back with the bard and Gwydion and Gurgi. Great to find another kindred spirit. Now onto the next book!

God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life

God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life - Paul Kengor

Great book about a great man! This traces Reagan from his birth and the great impact his faith in God had on his entire life. It covers his early life and the profound influence his mother and other mentors, both real and fictional, had in shaping him into the man destiny called him to be. It follows his acting and political careers and his use of the 'bully pulpit' of the Presidency. He deeply felt America had a unique role to play in the DP (Divine Plan) in bringing freedom to the Soviet Union. His survival of the assassination attempt made on him made him even more aware he wanted to be an instrument God could work through. No wonder the liberals hated him.

 

I also highly recommend Kregor's book God and George W. Bush, another great book about another great man. We need more men like them! God bless them both.

The New Policeman

The New Policeman - Kate Thompson

Fifteen-year-old J. J. Liddy has two problems. One is the same one that so plagues modern man: there is just not enough time in the day to do everything he wants to do. The other is some dark secret on his mother's side that makes him want to change his last name to his father's. The Liddy's go way back in Ireland. J. J,'s parents never married, so the name would not be lost. But once J. J. hears of a terrible deed done long in the past by a Liddy, he starts to reinvent himself as J. J. Byrne.

 

J. J.'s mother lets him in on the truth behind the deed, which is closely tied to the musical legacy of the Liddy's and the abiding faith in fairies the Irish hold to to this day. Some did not adhere to such beliefs, however. J. J.'s great-grandfather was one who suffered from a detractor who thought these beliefs ridiculous and dangerous. Said detractor later disappeared with the man's beloved flute. Neither was seen again. The rumor began J. J.'s namesake murdered his great adversary. But is this what really happened?

 

J. J. also learns of another secret, also tied to his family's musical gifts. That night he starts to give his mother the birthday present she must craves: more time. He tells a neighbor of his determination to do this. She tells him she will help him, and it involves going to a fairy mound near her home.

 

She leads him through it to Tír an nÓg, the Celtic underworld. The people there are more than willing to sell him all the time in the world, if only they could figure out how to do that. Time has entered their timeless world from our stressed-out, frantic one, and they do not like it. Because there is a leak now between the two worlds with time running out in ours into theirs, a way must be found to repair the damage to both worlds. Not to mention it would solve one of the greatest mysteries known to man, but I won't spoil that for you, or tell you more of the wonderful and terrible consequences of J. J.'s quest for his special gift.

 

I really enjoyed this book. The title character is but a minor one, wrapped in mystery, but an important one. In keeping with the frantic pace of the modern world, it's a quick read and a fun one too. The outcome of J. J.'s quest has much to teach us all about the value of time and timelessness. We shall all take heed of the lesson to take a breath and slow down and enjoy life, not merely rush through it to the next thing.

 

 

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

I read this for the first time in 2004 and several times since then. What can be said about this epic tale that has not been already said many times over? The Professor is a master story-teller, loving the world of nature as much as the world of Men, Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves. He is also a master of suspense in heating that kettle just a little a time, hinting at threats that may or may not be imaginary, as in Frodo's uncertainty whether he really sees and hears someone following them or not and the sound of a hammer that may or may not have to do with Pippin throwing down a stone in Moria.

Middle-earth is a real place because it is our world. The people who inhabit it have so much to teach us. The lessons begin here with Merry and Pippin's beautiful words about their love and friendship for Frodo and what lengths they are willing to go because of it, Frodo's fearful and courageous embrace of his terrible calling and the grace that sustains him and his companions, Sam dogged faithfulness and support and his wonder to see the Elves, and so very much more.

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth - Gerald G. May

Very readable introduction to the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and the dark night of the soul. Painful as it may be, May shows it is also a blessed place  for the fruits it brings.

Iron Tower Trilogy 02 Shadow Of Doom

Iron Tower Trilogy  02 Shadow Of Doom - Dennis Mckiernan

I loved this book just as much as the first one. And just as the first one, there are a lot of nods to Middle-earth, here under other guise is Sting, lembas bread, Khazad-dum, the Balrog (though in some ways this one is even scarier though not wreathed in flame the same way) and the Straight Road. But as the first one, this is also very much its own story of the terrible struggle of good vs evil. Another treasure found in a used book store. Yea!

Sauron Defeated

Sauron Defeated - J.R.R. Tolkien Fascinating conclusion to The History of The Lord of the Rings. Also includes The Notion Club Papers which I read a few years ago for a class. Various drafts of the fall of Numenor and the early history of Men is very interesting.

The Book Jumper

The Book Jumper - Mechthild Gläser

I wish I could do this: jump bodily into my favorite books, though as the protagonists find out, it is not without its perils. I liked Amy and Werther the most.

Treason: A Novel

Treason: A Novel - Newt Gingrich

Got exciting towards the end. I was pleased I figured out who the treasonous Viper was. Liked Major Brooke Grant and Walks Many Miles.