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! 

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival - Melissa Fleming

Wow. Imagine all your life you are scared to death of the water. While your family happily splashes around, you sit far away. Now imagine you survive for four days in the water after men filled with demonic hatred sink the boat you and your fiance were on in the hopes of  starting a new life in Europe. This is the story of Syrian refugee, Doaa Al Zamel.


I love the title of this book for hope and strong faith in God keeps her alive through not only this but other horrific ordeals. This puts a face and name, just like Dear World does, to those who must flee their beloved home because their own government desperately wishes to kill them. It is nothing short of a miracle Doaa survives her torturous journey, sustained by a Love stronger than the malice of her enemies, and by her love for two little children who are thrust until her care after the boat sinks and so many drown. They give her a reason to live. Her courage and endurance to bear the unbearable gives us all a reason to live. God means great things for her. May He continue to bless her. Already through this book, she is a conduit through which He speaks of His love and mercy for all those who suffer. Love is stronger than hate. Never lose hope.


Dear World

Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace - Bana Alabed

This is a quick, easy-to-read, hard-to-put-down and profound book of a young child's harrowing journey through the hell that is present-day Syria. What is so incredible about this book is the author herself, who is not even 10 years old, but has already lived through more suffering than anyone should in their entire lifetime. Yet she come through it with hope and faith and trust in God. She is still young enough to like to play with her dolls, but at the same time, in many ways, she is far more mature than many adults. She is an 'old soul' with eyes of compassion and love. Suffering has taught her much, but it has not embittered, hardened, or broken her. She is a little girl, yet she is made of indomitable strength that comes from her faith in God. Learn at her feet lessons only those who have seen and endured the worst and survived to teach the rest of us. You will gain a lifetime of wisdom and grace from someone only 8 years old. Bravo, Bana! God bless you.

That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis

This is the third volume of the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis, which fulfilled his end of a deal he made with J. R. R. Tolkien. Finding a dearth of books they actually wanted to read, they set out to write them. Lewis would write about space travel and Tolkien about time travel. Alas. the latter only began the sadly short The Lost Road and the much longer but also unfinished The Notion Club Papers (both found within The History of Middle-earth series). I wish he had finished both, not to mention The Fall of Arthur. I hope I don't die with books unwritten. But I digress...


Lewis began his Trilogy with Out of the Silent Planet, continued it with Perelandra (loved this! especially Ransom's struggle, so like Frodo's, to fulfill his vocation), and concludes it here. In the previous volumes, we spent time on Mars and Venus. In this tale, we are back on the silent planet, our own Earth.


Newly married Jane Studdock is troubled by nightmares she later learns are actual event and is a gift (or curse) powers around her wish to use for good or ill. Her husband, Mark, is a professor at Bracton, an English college more than 700 hundreds old. He desperately wishes to be considered part of the Progressive Element at the school.


Bragdon Wood on the school's property is even older than it, with ties to the time of Merlin. N.I.C.E. (The National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments) wishes to buy the Wood for their headquarters. Even though I have only read this classic for the first time this year, I already knew N.I.C.E. was not nice, but the college is in financial distress and the money offered to purchase the wood proves irresistable.


Mark attends the meeting that decides upon the sale, while Jane lunches with Mr. and Mrs. Drimble. Mr. Drimble was Jane's tutor in school and an expert on all things Arthurian. Jane's strange dream intrigues the man. That night, Mark attends a dinner where he hears of N.I.C.E.'s vision of the future, which is truly frightening to anyone with sense (and unfortunately still alive and well today in the real world). But Mark readily agrees to help the organization implement their plans and so begins his slow slide into hell.


Upon recommendation from Mr. Drimble, Jane goes to see Miss Ironwood. She hopes to get a cure for her nightmares, but the woman tells her she cannot cure her because she is not sick. She has not had nightmares; she has received visions of reality which Miss Ironwood hopes Jane will use to help save the whole of mankind, which is in great peril. If Jane tells anyone else of her dreams, she could place herself in terrible danger. But if she places her visions in the service of Miss Ironwood and her unnamed cohorts, she would be a tremendous boon to the entire human race. Jane says she wants nothing to do with anything like that. She just wants her nightmares to end.


But the dreams do not stop. Jane and Mark are soon caught up in a great battle between light and darkness and on opposite sides. Who wlll prevail?


I liked this book overall, It is chilling how accurate it still is, more than 70 years later, about how the so-called Progressive Element operates with the manipulation of the media to misinform the public, their goals to eliminate undesirable elements of the human race, and their work toward making man immortal. It gets rather too strange shortly after the appearance of Merlin (though not because of his appearance). Before then, the strength of Lewis' writing shows through. Let us heed the warnings he gives.

Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings

Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings - Anne Marie Gazzolo

My first published book!


In J. R. R. Tolkien’s desire to create a mythology for his homeland, he actually made one for every person, every land, and every age. The Lord of the Rings is a catechism of spiritual warfare cleverly disguised as a fantasy. The struggle against evil that takes place inside its pages is the same one that occurs even now within the soul of each person.

As we cannot leave the field of battle until death takes us from it, we should learn as much as we can about how to fight from those who have labored before us. Certainly the Red Book of Westmarch is one source to use. We may not have to sacrifice ourselves as does Gandalf, but we can learn from him and his wise counsels and from the others who he taught. Frodo guides us as well, as he makes his torturous journey to Mount Doom and endures the Ring’s unceasing temptations. With him, we see that sometimes we overcome our temptations, and at other times they overwhelm us. We also learn, as he and Boromir do, to get back up and start the struggle anew. Sam shows us the height of hope and the depth of devotion. In fact, everyone in the tale, good as well as evil, has something to teach us.


To view an excerpt and get your copy:  http://ow.ly/ez2dT

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways - Dallas Hartwig, Melissa Hartwig

This is another great book to read if you want to live a healthy, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free life. As the authors say, it's not just you are what you eat, you are what you eat eats. So if all you eat is food filled with toxins because that's part of the diet of the animals and fish you eat, then you share in their diet. These authors are the founders of the Whole30 diet, which challenges you to give up all the junk for 30 days and detox your system. Many have seen their long-time illnesses vanish because they are eating healthy foods, reducing the inflammation that causes so much sickness, regaining energy and losing weight because the carbs, processed foods, and sugars are not killing them anymore. Includes meal plans and recipes and encouragement! Don't see it as giving up stuff you love. You will only be giving up the bad stuff. See it as a sea-change in your life that will not deprive you of anything delicious.but will show you how wonderful whole, real foods can be! Take up the challenge. Your body will thank you!

Atlas of Middle-earth: Revised Edition

The Atlas of Middle-Earth - Karen Wynn Fonstad

Anyone who loves Middle-earth's maps will love this book. It is chock-full of large maps of the First, Second, and Third Ages, detailing the major events from them all. Follow the Elves, Hobbits, Men, and more through their epic journeys. Also has valuable information about how many miles the Nine Walkers traveled each day, what the climate was like in their time and much more.

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

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!