Monthly Archives: September 2018

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Furyborn

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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Amy Caudill‘s review

Sep 30, 2018  ·  edit

Hold onto your hats, readers, when you dive into the world of author Claire Legrand because you are about to embark on a very wild ride, that will take you deep inside an entire new culture and mythology, before slamming you repeatedly back and forth thru time.

Furyborn is the story of two young women, separated by a thousand years in time, but linked in enigmatic ways that are only are only revealed slowly through this first book in a trilogy by the author.

Rielle, a temple student and member of the royal court in the past, hides a terrifying secret; she may possess the power to control all seven of the elements worshipped by the people of the kingdom of Celdaria.  Once she successfully harnesses these powers, she could be the prophesied Sun Queen, the protector, or her counter, the Blood Queen, the destroyer.

Eliana, a bounty hunter who seeks “marks” for the empire to support her mother and younger brother, has a secret of her own.  She is invulnerable, but has no understanding as to why, except for the myths of magic users and angels passed down through the ages, which have been all but destroyed by the empire that has nearly conquered her world.

Each subsequent chapter of this mammoth volume switches back and forth between the two stories of the two extraordinary girls, living completely separate lives in vastly different environments.

How could the two stories possibly be related?  They share a world, even though they are separated by time, and the reality of the former becomes the mythology of the latter.  There is also the fact that certain objects, like an unusual necklace, and the names of certain characters, which at first appearance could be only coincidental, transcend the gap of the centuries.

When I first began reading this massive volume, a choice for my local book club, I admit I found the time switch confusing through the early chapters.  There is a lot of information, characters, and history involved in the world building to keep track of, compounded by the fact that the story takes place in two separate time periods simultaneously.  However, as I continued reading, I was able to separate the two stories, only to begin to see links between them.

The trials that Rielle must face are exciting but a little predictable by the end.  She conquers the elements- wind, fire, water, metal, shadows, light, and earth, in a manner reminiscent of other stories of trials of heroes.

Meanwhile, Eliana faces horrors of her own in an age where science can create mutations controlled by a malevolent force, and the very soldiers of the despotic Emperor are only shells that once were human.

The connection between the two main characters is explained by the end of this volume, but so many questions are left unresolved.  What will happen to Rielle that leads to the situation that Eliana is in, a thousand years later?  What will happen to Eliana, who is in the middle of a war against the empire?  Will the angels, banished in the ancient past, succeed in returning to the world of the future and conquer it?

I know this is only the first book of a trilogy, but I confess I was disappointed with just how much of the story was left unresolved at the end. I also wondered if the next two books, not yet released, would be written in the same manner, forcing the reader to shift back and forth in time.

Perhaps all this suspense is a good thing, though it will be difficult to wait until the next book comes out next year to see the answer to my questions!  Overall, I award this story 4.5 stars for excellent character development and world building, with a plot full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing.  I would recommend this story to any fans of epic fantasy worlds, strong female characters, or time travel storylines.

 

 

 

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I’ve recently begun watching the original Vampire Diaries series on Netflix, and am loving the supernatural soap opera that has plenty of paranormal romance, intrigue, and action for the human and supernatural citizens of Mystic Falls.  While all the humans in town are not “in the know,” those who are are continually faced with a moral dilemna-can humans and vampires coexist in peace?

Since  the CW is now planning to release a third series set in this universe and involving the Salvatore and Gilbert families, I won’t have to worry about running out of episodes to watch for some time!

“This is a story of magic, of secrets and betrayals, first loves and first heartbreaks. It’s a story of friendship and family, of battling our own demons so we can face the monsters around us. This is a story, our story, of trying to be normal in a world that is anything but. The only question is, will we be its heroes or its villains?” Stay tuned to see if that question is answered. Legacies executive producer/writer Julie Plec unveiled the trailer for the next chapter…

via ‘Legacies’ Trailer: First Look At Next Chapter Of ‘Vampire Diaries’/’The Originals’ Trilogy – Comic-Con — Deadline

 

The Top Ten Reasons We Love Vampires

Fall officially begins at the end of this week, but I’ve been gearing up for it for some time.  For those who follow my blog, I’ve already written a couple of posts this month related to my favorite season, with hopefully more to come.  Today, as I start planning the decorations I’ll be putting up over the next few weeks (Do I really want an entire cemetery on the front lawn this year?) I began thinking about one of my personal favorite monsters-the vampire.

The Bite
Dinner, anyone? Photo by Len Radin on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What is it about these creatures of the night that is so fascinating?  The myths that surround vampires are hardly new, but because of new additions to literature and Hollywood, their lore is continually being renewed by modern culture.  There are even societies devoted to vampires, where members dress and act as if they are members of the undread.

Vampires are enormously popular, thanks to television shows- Vampire Diaries (Netflix), The Originals (CW), True Blood (HBO), as well as recently popular movie series- Underworld, Blade and Twilight, to name a few.  Of course, books about vampires can be found by the dozens and hundreds in any seller or online retailer, from authors such as Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice, and the one who started who launched the cult following, Bram Stoker.

But why do we love vampires?  Here’s a few of the top reasons:

Vampires have longevity.  The stories and legends of vampires existed long before Bram Stoker penned his epic novel, or before Hollywood first introduced Dracula to the masses.

Vampires are mysterious.  No matter the version of the story, all vampires have secretive pasts and hidden existences that leave an audience wanting to know more about them.

Vampires are often seen as romantic characters.  Whether they are seductive fiends that come into a woman’s bedroom at night, or brooding teens that shy away from their bloodthirsty nature, we can’t help but be drawn to them.

2012-09-15 Elf Fantasy Fair, edition Arcen 2012, Jerney
Imagine running into her at night! Photo by Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Vampires are powerful.  They have superhuman strength and speed.  In some versions of the story, they can turn into bats or wolves, and have the ability to take control over a human’s mind.

Vampires often have a duality of nature.  Vampires can be both scary and attractive.  We are captivated by them; while at the same time we fear them.  They appear to be human, right up till the moment they give in to the urge to feed-on us.

Vampires have history.  Many stories include vampires that have been around a century or a few, that have seen mankind’s many triumphs and missteps, and have acquired a great deal of wisdom from their extended lifespans.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966) Screencaptures
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966) Screencaptures  Photo by thefoxling on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Vampires represent eternal youth, beauty, and immortality.  They are often portrayed as being attractive, appearing young, and of course, they live forever, or until they see the sunrise or someone stakes them.

Vampires are outsiders.  Many of us can identify with characters that exist on the fringes of society, which are often portrayed as being solitary, as loners.

Vampires are the ultimate bad boys.  They live outside the rules of society, because they must kill to live, or at least steal blood from a bank or animals.

Vampires are monsters, even if they appear human.  We can’t help being fascinated by the idea that something out there considers us prey, which makes us vulnerable.  After all, horror stories in general have widespread appeal.

When you have some downtime this week, why not dust off that vampire novel you’ve been meaning to read, or download your vampire movie about those creatures of the night?  After all, with fall right around the corner it’s the perfect time to feed a monster obsession.

Amy

 

 

Family-Friendly Fall Activities

September in the Midwest brings with it a relief from the humidity and a slight drop in temperatures as we meander ever-closer to the beginning of autumn.  This gentle change in the weather is the perfect backdrop for a number of activities especially suited to the harvest season.  Here are just a few ideas of ways to spend quality time in the great outdoors with your loved ones this time of year.

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Go ahead and jump in that pile of leaves-we won’t tell! Photo by christielockwood on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Sunny fall afternoons offer the perfect excuse to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy some lawn games with your family.  Bring out a ball to toss or kick around, or play an old-fashioned game of tag.  Outdoor games such as cornhole, which involves aiming beanbags through a wooden target, are a good choice that can appeal to all ages and skill levels.  Take time to appreciate the colorful foliage, by letting little ones collect pretty leaves, and perhaps joining them in jumping in a pile.

Chilly autumn nights are the perfect time to utilize that fire pit on the deck or in the backyard.   Settle down with your loves ones for an evening of s’mores and sharing your favorite ghost story.  Many communities will host bonfires in the fall, often in celebration of back-to-school or in support of a local sporting event.  Check local listings for events, and don’t forget to pack lawn chairs. A blanket may come in handy as the temperature drops, too.

Feed your artistic side by carving a pumpkin.  While this can be done indoors, it’s often easier to move outside, especially with younger helpers participating!  Pick up pumpkins at a local grocery, nursery, or farm, and use your imagination.  Kitchen knives work well but specialty carving kits are easy to find, as are carving tips and designs in magazines and online sources such as Pinterest.

Everett Carving His Pumpkin
Every jack-o-lantern is unique, just like its creator.  Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

If you want to make a pumpkin creation that will last beyond the season, faux pumpkins make of foam, cardboard, and wood are available from your local craft store, and can be decorated with carving tools, paint, and any type of decoration you desire.

Visit a nearby farm.  Check directory listings for rural venues that offer special seasonal events.  Many of these destinations will feature attractions tailored for families, such as hayrides and corn mazes.  Spend an afternoon picking apples, selecting a pumpkin straight from the patch, or wandering through displays of colorful fall flowers.  As the sun goes down, warm up with a mug of hot apple cider or cocoa, before you carry your bounty home.

The varieties of activities that are available to make the most of nature and the harvest season are as unlimited as the autumnal colors surrounding us.  I hope you can take time to breathe in the cool air, smell the falling leaves, and spend some precious time with your loved ones today.

Amy

Is it too Soon to Get into the Autumn Spirit?

September has arrived, and while the temperatures here are still in the nineties mid-day, school is officially back in session and everywhere I turn, I’m beginning to see signs of the impending autumn season.

I don’t just mean the planter full of mums I just put out front, either.  A visit to nearby Target or Meijer will showcase a clearance rack of back-to-school needs, alongside half-stocked display shelves full of costumes, decorations, and knickknacks styled for the upcoming fall, and sometimes winter seasons.  The local gardening stores have begun to carry planters filled with seasonal foliage, and grocery stores are already stocking decorative pumpkins in the produce aisle.

autumnal childs boy's
This little one is getting into the spirit of the season! Photo on Foter.com

I ask you, is it too early to decorate for fall?  Is it too soon to pull out the orange candles, the colorful silk leaves and plastic spiders?  Is it time yet to think about Halloween costumes, and where to hide the candy so it actually survives long enough to be handed out to trick-or-treaters?

I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to fall.  The drop in temperatures invigorates me, and I absolutely love the colors, the smells, and the foods of the season.  As my family can attest, this is hardly a new phenomenon for me.  I’ve had the habit since I was a child, and I shared the love with my own kids, to the point we have nearly as many boxes of decorations and paraphernalia for fall and Halloween as we do for Christmas.

To me Halloween has always symbolized a freedom of expression- the one time of year (other than Comic-con or Renaissance Fairs) when it’s socially acceptable to become someone else, for just a little while.  It’s okay to live a fantasy, to act out a favorite character, to revisit the childhood joy of make-believe and imaginative play.  That’s why I tend to dress up, even if I’m just handing out candy, because why should the kids have all the fun?

So while I’m going about my daily tasks, I’m also planning the display we’ll set up this year, the costumes I need to get or make, and estimating how much candy to buy.  I’ll be digging through my recipes to make my special pumpkin coffee cake, and choosing between recipes for pecan pie.  Of course, once fall officially arrives later this month, I’ll have planning for Thanksgiving to do, too, and then the winter holidays.  The next few months are going to be busy!