Of Ages Past: The Writing of Anne Marie Gazzolo

"I cannot live without books!" My favorite quote of Thomas Jefferson sums it up! 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! 

Grain Brain Whole Life Plan: Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan: Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health - David  Perlmutter, Kristin Loberg


Change your diet, change your life, indeed, save your life! Grains are killing us. Go gluten-free, grain-free and feel great for perhaps the first time in a long time. Regain energy, lose those extra pounds and live a longer, healthier life. There is also meal planners and recipes to start your out on your journey to health. This is also great to help you live a life free of chemicals that are also so harmful, found in every day things like shampoo and household cleaners.

Myth and Middle-earth

Myth & Middle-Earth: Exploring the Medieval Legends Behind J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings - Leslie Ellen Jones

I enjoyed this book about how various mythologies and legends were re-used and presented in a new light by J. R. R. Tolkien, especially the section on drowned lands. The Celtic myths of Ireland and Wales were interesting too. There's much more inside for anyone interested in mythology and how Middle-earth reflects these. Recommended!

Swan and Shadow: A Swan Lake Story


Swan Lake is not Aislin's favorite story. For her, it is not just a story, but her real life. She is the second daughter, born minutes too late after her twin sister, who just dodged the bullet of the family curse. By day, this teen is a swan; by night, she is human. The only way to break the curse, which has endured for generations, is to encounter true love before she loses her purity. No one else has done so, sometimes through no fault of their own. Can Aislin can finally break the curse and live a normal life? Such is the setting of this unusual, contemporary fairy tale love story.



Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes - Allan Arnold

In this novelization of the wonderful film by the same name, Alan Arnold tells - or is it Dr. John Watson? - of the first adventure of the famous crime-solving duo while the two are schoolboys in 1870. 


Watson writes in the first person to chronicle his meeting of the sleuth and the beginning of their great friendship. Their first case comes through a series of mysterious deaths ruled suicides by the police, but Sherlock is not so sure. The last words of one of the victims, a dear friend, gives the young man some clues. Holmes desperately implores Lestrade to follow up and involve the police in solving what he is sure are murders. Lestrade refuses until he himself survives what caused the others to die.


Until Lestrade sees the light, Holmes; his beloved friend, Elizabeth; and Watson come through many perils to discover the terrible truth behind the deaths and who is behind them all. 


This book is an immersive journey into Watson's long-held admiration for his beloved friend. One could believe he - not Arnold - wrote it. It makes me want to watch the movie again, which such books should do.



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

The Hounds of the Morrigan - 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. 



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!


Over Sea, Under Stone: The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book One

Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper

This first volume of The Dark is Rising sequence begins with the five-member Drew family's arrival for a month-long vacation with an old professor friend of the father's, affectionately called Great-Uncle Merry. "How old he was, nobody knew. 'Old as the hills,' Father said, and they felt, deep down, that this was probably right. There was something about Great-Uncle Merry that was like the hills, or the sea, or the sky; something ancient, but without age or end."


It rains heavily the first full day in Cornwall, or Logres as Merry calls it by its Arthurian name. Bored out of their minds, the three children go treasure-hunting in the house Merry rented for them. Behind a wardrobe, they find a secret passage to an abandoned room. The youngest child, Barney, a keen admirer of the Arthurian legends, finds an ancient scroll that refers to the king and one of his knights, Mark.This happens to be just what some other people, and Merry himself, have sought long for. Indeed, burglars break in during the night to seek it, but they do not find it.


The police put it down to just hooligans, but the children believe otherwise. They tell Merry about their discovery. The man confirms its great value as part of Arthurian history and that Arthur did actually exist. He tells the children the truth about the man behind the legend and of the constant struggle between the forces of good and evil, of which Arthur was one of the strongest warriors during a dark and perilous time. He then informs them of the grave danger they are now in because of what they found with those of wicked intentions to gain it themselves so close behind.


The chase is on. Can Merry and the Drew children outrun their enemies and save this precious artifact?


The Dark is Rising: The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book Two

The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper, Susan Cooper

The one big wish Will Stanton has for his 11th birthday is a snowstorm. And does he get it! And a lot more than this too. He and his older brother, James, note the strange behavior of frightened animals who seem to know something wicked this way comes. Will sees an old man from a distance. James thinks it's just a tramp, but a neighboring farmer knows otherwise, "So the Walker is abroad. Ah. He would be." Just as mysterious as these words is the curious birthday gift the farmer gives to Will: an iron circle quartered.


That night, Will is alone in his attic bedroom when a overwhelming fear grips him. He wakes the next morning to the sound of music and a landscape drenched in snow. But he does not wake in the same time period he feel asleep in. For whatever reason, he has entered a different one. He leaves home and walks along paths, familiar and strange at the same time. He encounters a blacksmith he knows and a mysterious horseman who waits while the smith shoes his animal. Twice the horseman tries to trap Will with words and once tries to grab him. Will's wits rescue him from the first two instances, and the smith comes to his aid in the third. To Will's own amazement, he says he is there to seek out the Walker, who he encounters shortly after leaving the smith.


The horseman finds him again, but this time a white horse rescues him. It leaps through a patch of blue sky to transport him to another land. There Will discovers two doors standing alone on a hill. He steps through them into a great hall and meet an old woman and a tall man, adversaries of the horseman. The tall man identifies himself as Merriman Lyon, the formal name of Great-Uncle Merry in the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone. He says he and the woman have awaited Will for a long time and reveal to him his special gift and destiny: he is an Old One, beings charged with finding six Signs of the Light to battle the Darkness as it again spreads through the world. Will has the first Sign already, which the horseman recognized, and which places the young boy in terrible peril.


Merriman returns Will to the present day without a moment lost. The dark forces arrayed against him have made their first assaults against him, and it only gets worse. This is much better than the first volume. Only Merriman repeats here, while all else is new and more exciting and dramatic. The vividness of the Dark and the battle against it are the best parts. Susan Cooper can write!


Greenwitch: The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book Three

Greenwitch - Susan Cooper

This third volume of The Dark is Rising sequence returns us to the Drew children and the theft of the Trewissick Grail they found at the end at the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone. How the priceless artifact was stolen from a museum baffles the police, as there is no evidence of a break-in. Merry confirms what the children suspect: the Dark took it. He asks them to come with him back to Cornwall during the Easter break.


As it happens, Will Stanton from the second book, The Dark is Rising, is also headed there with his Uncle Bill. None other than Merry picks them up at Will's house, but neither give away the fact they already know each other. The Drew boys do not like Will, for how are they going to find the grail again if some other boy is always going to be with them?


The boys' sister, Jane, accepts the nocturnal invitation to attend the annual, ladies-only, making of the Greenwitch, a tall figure made of leaves and branches, who the women then ask for whatever they wish. Only Jane feels the tremendous power in the figure - and its terrible loneliness. Her wish is for it to be happy. The leader of the event tells her this is a dangerous thing to request. The event ends in the morning with the figure cast off a cliff into the sea.


Will and Merry discuss the latest disguise a member of the Dark has taken: a painter who stole a picture Barney made and who also tried to break into the crowd around the Greenwitch just before it tumbled into the water. Simon and Barney follow Rufus the dog to the painter's home. Barney finds not only his painting but the stolen grail.


Will and Merry launch a desperate search for the Greenwitch and what it possesses: the lost manuscript from the first book that would give the Dark terrible power if used in conjunction with the grail.


Will and Merry are not the only one who seek the Greenwitch. What is that painter doing out after dark? And what does Jane's wish for the witch's happiness have to do with it?


I didn't like this book as much as the first two because it was not as interesting or exciting until towards the end.

The Grey King: The Dark is Rising Sequence Book Four

The Grey King - Susan Cooper

The fourth volume of The Dark is Rising series begins with Will traveling to Wales to stay with a cousin of his mother's, so he can recuperate from hepatitis. The young man is troubled because there is something important he forgot. On the way to the cousin's home, he sees clouds around a mountaintop, which helps him remember one part of a prophecy spoken at the end of the third book, Greenwitch. The woman's son, Rhys, says the clouds are the breath of the Grey King, a legendary figure whose home is there.


Another clue to the gap in Will's memory is Cadfan's Way. As he explores the church of St. Cadfan and searches for this lost road, he has a curious encounter with a dog. All his memories come back. He meets a boy, Bran, who knows his true identity as an Old One and who says he has awaited him. The Dark awaits him too. "All around, throughout the countryside, he [Will] could feel the malevolence of the Dark growing, pushing at him." 


But this time, the Light is not there merely to defend all from the devouring Dark. This time, it is actively on the attack against it.


This series is much more interesting when it focuses on Will, as this one does. I love through the series how descriptive the author is. It is no wonder these are classic fantasies. 

Silver on the Tree: The Dark is Rising Sequence Book Five

Silver on the Tree - Susan Cooper

The final volume of The Dark is Rising series begins with Will and his brothers, James and Stephen, enjoying the rarity of a lazy, hot summer's day together. Will thinks life cannot get better than this, but he soon realizes it is but a lull before the great and last battle against the Dark.


Brief visions come to Will from the past. He slips entirely out of his own time and arrives shortly before the battle of Badon in Arthurian times. There Will understands what his next quest is: retrieve the Six Signs of the Light, joined by Wayland Smith in the 20th century at the end of the second book. Wayland now labors long in the 5th century to make enough weapons for Arthur and his men for their great battle against the Dark. Will has only a night and a day to bring the Signs back from his own time and return them to Arthur.


Failure is not option. If Will does not succeed and call the Circle of the Light into battle, Merriam Lyon gives a grim vision of the future. "The High Magic which guards [the Signs] will take them outside Time, and the only advantage the Light holds in this great mater will be lost forever." Whether Will succeeds or not, the coming battle against the Dark in his own will be terrible. Swept up into it are Bran and the Drew children.


This is an awesome series recommended for anyone who loves a great adventurous fantasy. Epic!

The High King: Chronicles of Prydain Book Five

The High King - Lloyd Alexander

Wow, wow, and wow! I thought the 4th book of The Chronicles of Prydain was the best, but that was before I read this stirring conclusion to the series! It begins with a joyful homecoming for Taran and Gurgi, which includes a reunion with Eilonwy, who has had more than enough of education about how to become a princess.


The sight of Fflewddur as he brings in a gravely wounded Gwydion cuts Taran's gladness short. His noble friend is nigh to death from an attack by the evil Huntsmen of Annuvin.Fflewddur recounts how the assault came as they responded to Taran's cry for aid. But Taran did not cry and was not beset by many enemies as the king-bard said he saw. The revelation the dark lord Arwan masterminded the deception stuns them all, as does the truth Gwydion's magical blade is now in the hands of the enemy.


After Gwydion makes an astonishing recovery, he and his beloved companions make for a castle en route to the man's final destination, the dark realm of Arwan himself, to retrieve his sword. But no sooner do they arrive at the friendly holding than they discover no old friend welcomes them but an old enemy. They escape but at a high price.


Gwydion decides to abandon his quest for his sword and raise an army against the one Arwan will soon send into the field against them. He charges his companions with the task to rouse all the free people and join him at his fortress.


Another great ally, Medwyn, sets his animal friends to gather their fellow creatures against the enemy. He gives a grim forecast if all free men and animals give anything but their utmost to defeat the dark lord and his allies: they will fall under the bitter domination of their enemy with joy and freedom snuffed out.


Many answer the call to arms, but not all are the allies they should be. The battle for Prydain begins anew, and it is terrible to behold: awful and awe-ful. "Amid the black pines the voice of the chief Bard rose in deep sorrow, yet it was sorrow without despair; and while the notes of the harp were heavy laden with mourning they held, as well, the clear strains of life and hope" (130).


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: The Chronicles of Prydain Book Four

Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander

This fourth volume of The Chronicles of Prydain begins with a restless Taran asking his guardian and foster father, Dallben, who his parents were. As the man says, he does not know, Taran begs leave to depart and find out. His faithful companion, Gurgi, accompanies, even though the news they will travel first to a marshland and visit three enchantresses does not sit well with him at all. But Taran hopes they can give him the information he so earnestly seeks.


The young man begins to regret his decision before they even arrive, but he does not turn back. Once the three women demand a price paid for their information about his parents, Taran says he already gave them the thing he most valued in exchange for the Black Cauldron. This time he promises to give whatever he will come to value the highest in the future for them to claim whenever they chose. Fortunately, they refuse, but they offer another source which may hold the secret to his identity.


During this latest and most personal of Taran's quests, he encounters old and new friends, new enemies and perils just as terrible as any he already experienced. But his wisdom grows in equal measure.


What a powerful book! The best one so far in this series - still one to go! I love Taran and the growth he has. 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 Castle of Llyr: The Chronicles of Prydain Book Three

The Castle of Llyr - Lloyd Alexander

The third volume of The Chronicles of Prydain begins with the hot-headed sword-maiden Eilonwy sent off to the royal house on the Isle of Mona to learn how to be a princess and a lady, two things she has zero interest in. Taran and Gurgi accompany her on the sea voyage with Prince Rhun, a clumsy young man Taran dislikes from the first. Eilonwy thinks her friend is just jealous.


The unexpected appearance of Fflewddur Fflam thrills Taran and Gurgi, as does a shoemaker, who is Gwydion in disguise. Gwydion warns Taran he and Eilonwy are in peril. An old enemy thought dead threatens them anew: Achren, the evil enchantress who the princess had apprenticed under as a child, yet remained uncorrupted by. The man admits he fears this threat as much as the greater evil of Arawn. Gwydion swears Taran to secrecy and then disappears.


After a feast to welcome Taran and his companions, the young man seeks out Gwydion. He happens to see the Chief Steward sneak out too and travel to the harbor where he signals a ship at anchor. Gwydion reveals the dread news their enemy is abroad it.


Taran and Gurgi take turns standing guard at Eilonwy's chamber, but still the evil Steward kidnaps the princess after Prince Rhun waylays Taran. During the search that follows, the king asks Taran to watch over Rhun, who he wishes Eilonwy to marry. This does not sit well with Taran, but he does as the king wishes.


Rhun goes off on his own one night. Taran finds him the next morning in an abandoned hut. Abandoned that is, expect for the oversize mountain lion who comes to call while they are inside. This and other desperate perils assail Taran and his friends in their search for Eilonwy, who is in ever deeper danger than they.