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Chaos is better organised

If you get the characters right you've done sometimes nearly half the work. I sometimes find I get the characters right then the characters will often help me write the book - not what they look like that's not very important - what people look like is not about their character. You have to describe the shape they leave in the world, how they react to things, what effect they have on people and you do that by telling their story.

Terry Pratchett

I loved these books and thought that Terry Pratchett had so much to say about the way that they were written that  I would start by quoting him here and also when I am talking about Chaos, as he was  just so right in the physics of chaos.

This is a set of books for those who love the Nordic myths, who, whilst not gods by any means, live in a world connected to ours by the World Tree, but in a different galaxy.

Their ‘power’ is actually magic – but the magic is a form of energy that they and other ‘mythical’ creatures such as Elves, Dwarves etc can manipulate. And these other creatures also have their own worlds in different galaxies all connected by the World Tree (Yggdrisil), whose branches enable them to move through worlds by providing links for the portals they create or use.

Using magic energy is debilitating. It can make them hungry or sleepy or both – that is energy expended requires energy input to fuel it.

In the Nordic myths, Loki was a ‘Trickster’. He was the adopted brother of Thor. He was in reality the son of Laufey who was  the ruler of the Frost giants of Jotunheim but was abandoned shortly after birth . Odin found him and brought him to his home in Asgard and raised him alongside Thor.

Odin’s uncle was Mimir and Odin’s son was Baldur. In this story, Loki dislikes Baldur because he sees through the glamour that Baldur uses to manipulate others especially women. Loki sees that part of Baldur’s glamour is very dark and uses dark magic.

Loki was known to be very handsome himself n truth and charming to women. Whilst he was faithful when married – he was married twice – once his wife died and once he was divorced – he was free with his sexual  favours outside of marriage.

Norse heroes value courage, strength and cleverness and tend to get their way by cunning or force, and murder, mayhem and weird sex is rife amongst them according to the myths.

All this mythological details and explanations are to be found in the stories of this series and to understand what is happening it is really best to read them in order and then you won’t be disappointed.

Loki was also known as Chaos because his actions often had unexpected consequences-  as Chaos does in Physics – remember the butterfly flapping its wings in South America causing a hurricane in he UK? But Terry Pratchett also comments that:
There is a Trinity that operates within the book and the concepts:
  1. 1. Order – the status Quo with no change
  2. 2. Chaos – Destruction into change
  3. 3. Creator – creative destructive into change
Realised into characters as:
  1. 1. Odin – Steve
  2. 2. Loki – Bodhi
  3. 3. Hoenir - Amy
And the following quote sums up Loki so well:
The author clearly knows not only their Nordic myths but also the theories behind chaos and energy and weaves them seamlessly into the story to explain the ‘mythical’ occurrences and how the ‘magic’ actually happens. The reality demonstrates that there is no magic as such, just the ability to manipulate energy through areas of our brain.

Loki is a character you cannot help but love despite his faults and author brings him, and the other Nordic characters to life easily, so that  you really begin to understand the complexity of their way of thinking that seems arbitrary and sometimes contradictory.

I found the books compelling and read the series through as one complete set.

5 for all of them. Oh and Sleipnir is delightful – make sure you read his short story.

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A Wolf needs some help – and a Witch helps out

I thought that this story – whilst clearly, and intentionally, referencing Harry Potter and Hogwarts-  had some good ideas and some really great names for people.
eg Anoxamander Bluefelt
Professor Schtrumpf
Professor Tuftwillow

It seems that there are 5 magical universities in North America and our heroine attended Penrose Academy.  The 5 included Voudoun University which was a party school hidden in New Orleans and Our Lady of the Labyrinth in New Mexico which had no grades, no semesters and only ‘friends’ rather than students with a great golf course. The most interesting of course was the Northern Californian Arcane Polytechnic Institute, which occupied the same physical space as Stanford but was 10 seconds into the future, which meant that students could get degrees from 2 universities!

Penrose had a bar that sold Shamrock shakes – green with good luck charm included and a magical library which had book wars – where the books which suggested one theory would go to war with books that suggested an alternative theory; where the books moved about; where the books would give themselves up to a librarian if they were shelved incorrectly; and where the librarians were magically chained to the library and needed to be paid before you could enter the library. Another clear reference to other stories but done well enough not to irritate.

As the book also has the traditional werewolf struggling with his ‘curse’ and a witch and lots of references to current music I am sure it will appeal very much to the YA audience. The Harry Potter allusions help but don’t overpower and the writing style is fun and easy to read.

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Bind those Spells

Part of Your World by LA Starkey

Kinsley’s Nana died of old age, but I did the sums. It was 40 years – give or take – before that she fell in love with the King of the Sea. As a young girl of around 20 – being generous – may have been younger.

This puts her at 60-65 years max! dies of old age? Wow, I am already dead.. Hey author please do your sums.  Not the first time authors have got their timelines wrong and I do notice..

Otherwise quite a nice little story.
  1. Glistens by Chess Desalls
Where fireflies are not fireflies and rabbits are not actually rabbits. And then houses are not really houses once you get inside. A parallel society living amongst us with their own creatures, schooling and magic.  Not to mention food. Aimed at a younger age group I suspect. Imaginative.
  1. Tethered by Kelly Hall
The vampire rivalries are rife – royal house versus royal house – all over a supposed love affair – or was it? And as they live a very long time, these feuds tend to drag on and are also passed down the generations.

In quite a young age group and very much the Romeo and Juliet story even with servants aiding and abetting and balls and rival suitors.
  1. Drops of Sunshine by Tricia Copeland
What other senses can you develop if you lose one? This story is based around a Summer Camp for those with sensory impairments some of whom seem to develop other rather unusual senses to compensate.


  1. Feathers and Fireflies by Melanie Rodriguez 
This is a story of shifters and traditional views of women’s roles and arranged marriages being the correct way forward. Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen any one?

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Compendium: the Conspiracy Continues

Book & Author Details:

The Compendium by Christine Hart
 (The Variant Conspiracy Trilogy, #2)
 Publication date: July 13th 2016
 Genres: New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

Irina and her renegade variant friends are scrambling to pick up the trail of their former employer, Ivan, and his globally catastrophic scheme. After strategically sharing their story with the media, the group heads south from Vancouver to Seattle hoping to recruit more experienced—and lethal—variants to their cause.

Their attention develops a laser focus on an engineered disaster mere days ahead of them. Ivan is using what staff and resources remain of Innoviro Industries to set off a violent earthquake in San Francisco. While they fight to stop the earthquake, Irina pushes the love of her life Jonah as far away as she can, trying to keep his unstable genetic degradation in check.

Irina’s friends think they’ve seen the worst that Innoviro could bring forth by the time they reach a secret facility in the Mojave Desert. As they near the property, the group uncovers a horror none of them had ever imagined.




Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30038735-the-compendium




Purchase:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Compendium-Variant-Conspiracy-Book-ebook/dp/B01HQ87Z06







AUTHOR BIO:

Located on BC’s beautiful West Coast, I write from my suburban Burnaby home staring at North Vancouver’s iconic Coast Mountains. I love writing about places and spaces with rich history and visually fascinating elements as a backdrop for the surreal and spectacular.

In addition to my undergraduate degree in writing and literature, my background also includes corporate communications and design. I am a current member of the Federation of BC Writers and SF Canada.

When not writing, I have a habit of breaking stuff and making stuff – in that order – under the guise of my Etsy alter-ego Sleepless Storyteller. I share my eclectic home and lifestyle with my husband, baby daughter and preschool son.




Author links:

http://www.christine-hart.ca/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1335266.Christine_Hart

https://www.facebook.com/christineahart

https://twitter.com/chris_a_hart




Excerpt


As I got closer to the evergreens, I saw glints of red in the spiky leaves and tiny spindly pods on the branches. Flies buzzed around the plants and I saw one of the pods open like a glistening green mouth. A fly landed inside and the mouth snapped shut. I shuddered as I contemplated the size those little mouths could be if they grew proportionate to the rest of the seedling.

I turned around to the desks in the corner. No longer bare, one was occupied. A balding man sat in front of a computer with his back to me. I walked as quickly as my vision self could manage.

The man typed furiously as I came around the desk to face him. He was older and slightly overweight with a ring of straw blond hair on an otherwise bald head. He looked up at the door behind me and frowned. I turned around to see Tatiana and two men enter. I recognized one of the men from Innoviro, but the other was a stranger. Both wore plain slacks and golf shirts. Tatiana wore her typical pencil skirt, buttoned blouse, and stilettos combination.

The bald man stood to greet Tatiana and his height struck me. The man was tall, even while slouching. In spite of his height, he looked defeated, dominated by the displeased look on Tatiana’s face. She opened her mouth and the scene evaporated. I was back in the dim empty version of the warehouse. I regained my focus to find everyone staring at me intently.

“It was a greenhouse. They were crafting weird plants. And Tatiana showed up. She looked grouchier than usual.” I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples to better concentrate. “The guy sitting at this desk was responsible for the place. I think Tatiana was about to give him hell when my vision ended.”

“Did you learn anything else? See anything else?” asked Ilya, leaning towards me.

“So all we know now is that this was some kind of variant grow show.” Faith swooped her arm at the empty basins.

“Did you see any printed material? Anything with a name or an address?” asked Jonah.

“The guy at the desk had an ID badge clipped to his breast pocket, but I couldn’t make out anything on it,” I said.

“So, have we made any progress at all?” said Cole. He rested his hands firmly on his hips.

As my friends started to argue about the chances of successfully tracking down any Innoviro activity, I opened and closed each of the drawers in the bald man’s desk. I reached the top center drawer and a plastic-sheathed card slid forward. The bald man’s face looked up at me next to bold print, Dr. Kingston, George T.

I picked up the card and the angry voices beside me were silenced. I stood in a lush meadow watching Dr. Kingston survey a small field of bizarre plants. The carnivorous evergreens and their giant mouths loomed over teal blue ferns with pearl flowers. A glass and screen enclosure held large colorful bees that shimmered as though bathed in a slick sheen of gasoline. It looked like an alien planet, surrounded by BC’s steep coastal mountains.

A portable plastic table behind Kingston held specimen jars with plant fragments and a stack of pizza boxes with RIVERSIDE PIZZA HOUSE printed in bright red letters. I moved to step towards Kingston and a hand grabbed my arm, pulling me back to the North Vancouver warehouse.

“What happened? Why did you–,” I stopped.

Jonah lay unconscious on the ground.

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How to bake a cake with magic

The most unusual fantasy story I’ve read for a very long time.

It is not a light read but it a well crafted and told story with a complex worlds’ creation myth explanation underlying it.

The story of Maire who arrives from unknown parts lacking memory but retaining a cake making magic in the most primitive of cooking facilities hooks the reader. 
Who is she? 
How did she come to be in this situation? 
How did she arrive? 
Who taught her to bake and to add magic through her thoughts into her creations? 
How did she acquire the skills and knowledge to produce wedding cakes and biscotti for instance without recipes, and with primitive equipment lacking measuring scales, and all the other complicated cake making apparatus we have in our kitchens? 

All these questions intrigue the reader and more. The reader is encouraged to continue to find out how Maire finds herself and finds her way home – the answers come slowly and in small pieces so you read on.


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