RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- I Am Here
Georgi Y. Johnson
This is one of my favourite books. It gives such a clear window into consciousness and what it means to be a human being. ~ Renate McNay, Conscious TV
- Zen City
“I’m sure that a certain percentage of my readership, the less sophisticated readers, are going to find it completely incomprehensible, and be infuriated as a result. But hey, as we used to say in the Army, fuck them if they can’t take a joke.” ~ Gardner Dozois, perennial Hugo Award winner, former editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
- Zen City
You seem to be quite a polymath—and a mime too! ~ Oliver Sacks, letter in response to my writing
- Zen City
“It reads like a road map to one of my brains.” – Art Spiegelman (Maus) ~ Art Spiegelman, post card to me from Art, 1993
- Grendel’s Mother
Susan Signe Morrison
Susan Signe Morrison is a Professor of English at Texas State University and writes on topics lurking in the margins of history, ranging from recently uncovered diaries of a teenaged girl in World War II to medieval women pilgrims, excrement in the Middle Ages, and waste. An absolutely fascinating read from beginning to end, "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is her very best work to date and is a deftly crafted novel that it is as entertaining and it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A unique and impressively written work of extraordinary literary merit, "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.19). ~ Midwest Book Review
Mary Victoria Johnson
I don't normally read novels aimed at the young adult market, but this is a really interesting premise - well written and keeps the reader on edge throughout. Penny's journey from dissatisfaction to questioning the 'boundary' to full on rebellion is compelling - as is her relationship with her friends. Nicely set up for the sequel, also. A lovely, supernatural Victorian thriller. ~ Nigel Cooper, Author of 'Beat the Rain'
- Fruit-Bearing Spirituality, A
Carolyn Reinhart MA, DProf
Carolyn Reinhart's A Fruit-Bearing Spirituality resembles [Antonio] Spadaro's work in its conviction that new cultural developments necessitate drastic reform in Christianity's self-understanding. The book comes across as a passionate plea for a spiritual understanding rooted in human embodiment, in ecological thinking, in quantum physics and the overcoming of patterns of mutual oppression. The narrowness of denominational Christianity is to be overcome by a shard praxis, with inclusivity a watchword.
Readers of Reinhart's book trained in conventional theology and in churchy ways of doing things will probably find it exasperating in its frequent oversimplifications of the tradition, and its uncritical use of buzz words. But that is probably an unworthy response. The fact that there are intelligent and committed people who write in this way, and that they can find publishers who thinking the book will sell, says something important about how conventional Christianity is failing to communicate to at least some people of palpable good will. [The book] raises questions worth pondering. ~ Philip Endean SJ, The Way, January 2016 issue
- Angel's Lamp, The
A deftly crafted, immensely entertaining, and reader riveting novel from beginning to end, "The Angel's Lamp" documents author Ashby Jones as a remarkably talented writer. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Angel's Lamp" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99). ~ Midwest Book Review
- Rise of the Shadow Stealers
Rise of the Shadow Stealers is one of those books that you would never normally find but somehow stumble across – or in my case, get sent a copy after a Twitter connection – and reading it makes your week. The premise is charming, fanciful and wonderfully meta: set on an island where fictional characters are trained to fit their roles in their respective novels, Fletcher and Scoop team up for a quest to restore their lost memories of their lives before they were at Blotting’s Academy and to attend the wedding of the mysterious Storyteller.
I have to say I found Rise of the Shadow Stealers rather surprising, and not in a bad way. I came to it assuming from the cover and blurb that it would be children’s fiction (not that that’s a bad thing in the slightest. Critics sniffily dismissing something as children’s fiction irritates me no end). It’s actually quite sophisticated for that genre though, interweaving a delightfully whimsical fantasy plot with more mature themes, like maintaining morality in difficult times and finding your purpose, and drawing heavily on religious symbolism and metaphor throughout. This can get a little heavy-handed in places, particularly the religious parallels, but for the most part it’s skilfully interwoven with the fantasy narrative that means you can read it on whatever level you’d like: whimsical fantasy, Christian literature, good old fashioned morality tale and so on. A lot of reviews made comparison to the Narnia series and I can definitely see their point. Rise of the Shadow Stealers stands on its merits as a charming fantasy novel, but it really comes into its own when you delve deeper and think about the messages behind it all.
While the plot is technically about Fletcher and Scoop’s quest to reach the Storyteller’s wedding, it’s as much about their growth as characters as it is about getting from to B. This is a world inhabited by purposeful stereotypes (the infinitely wise but slightly batty old mentor, the outrageously evil witch, and even one character who proudly identifies herself as a Snob), who can at times feel a little 2-D by themselves, but this does help to emphasise the fact that the two protagonists develop naturally and realistically enough that I was really very fond of them by the end. Their flaws are what make them important as characters, and so they’re nicely fleshed out and allowed to make mistakes. Fletcher in particular undergoes some notable development, and his transformation is well handled and enjoyable to witness, because the characters, like the rest of the book, are charming and you find yourself really rooting for them as they undergo their quest.
The real triumph of the novel, however, is the world building. You can really tell that Ingram-Brown had great fun creating Fullstop Island (which is just the most adorable name ever) from the ground up to create a setting that lives beyond what we see in the story. It’s my favourite kind of world building too, where tiny details and minor characters are fleshed out beyond just filling their role to advance the plot, even if they just appear in once scene. Particular favourites of mine were the batty and slightly weird ladies who run the tea shop and one very special character who appears at the end, who you will have to read the book to find out about. If nothing else convinces you to give Rise of the Shadow Stealers a go, the joy of it’s construction should be all the persuasion you need.
You’ve probably noticed the common theme in this review: ‘charming’. You can’t help but enjoy yourself while reading this book, and I would recommend it to anyone out there who needed a little cheer to brighten their week. I’m definitely looking forwards to the sequel and what Daniel Ingram-Brown has up his sleeve for his characters next. ~ , Some Organised Chaos
- Ariadne's Thread
Ariadne's Thread: Awakening the Wonders of the Ancient Minoans in our Modern Lives is an incredible book that really brings to life the ancient Minoans in both a day to day aspect as well as in their spiritual lives. Written by Laura Perry, this book includes information about their society, caste system, what they wore, how they made their living as well as their religious, spiritual and magical practices...Throughout this entire book is it plainly obvious that Perry has worked very hard to keep this information as culturally and historically accurate as possible. There are sections where she ensures to state that historical finds are inconclusive but seem to point in a certain direction. She also ensures to point where other cultural influences have come in to play. This is wonderful and refreshing. I highly recommend this book. ~ Jessica Elizabeth, Facing North
- Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word
EDIT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD Book review by Steve Bowkett
This is a very thorough and highly practical manual for all writers wishing to submit their work to potential literary agents, editors or competitions. Glynis Scrivens’ style is light, readable and authoritative without ever becoming didactic or overly prescriptive. Indeed, one of the central messages of the book is that while editing is an essential part of the
there is no
for doing it.
his or her
point is well
illustrated by contributions from a range of authors, including Simon Whaley and Lynne Hackles who have long-standing associations with NAWG.
The book is well set out into accessible sections – The Nature of Editing, The Stages of Editing and Editing in Practice. These are further broken down into smaller chapters that cover, as one would expect, aspects of punctuation and grammar but also more unusual topics such as ‘when NOT to edit’, ‘when does rewriting stop and editing begin?’ and ‘reasons not to use spellcheck’. Contributing authors also deal with editing for different forms of writing such as the novel, short story and magazine article.
The book concludes with some useful tips from a number of
editors themselves who explain their own editing techniques, plus advice on how to judge when the editing process is finished.
I highly recommend this book for all of us who strive for the highest standards when seeking to ‘make our work public’.
~ Steve Bowkett, Link magazine NAWG
- Romeo and Juliet in Palestine
Sperlinger writes so lucidly, and in few words creates the sense of a world. Romeo and Juliet in Palestine doesn't reinforce any partisan position - in fact it refuses to do so - but it's so deeply about justice and human fulfilment. I hope it will be widely read. ~ Helen Dunmore
- Romeo and Juliet in Palestine
A book of vivid first-hand experience about the daily lives, suffering and courage of Palestinians living in the West Bank. Read it, imagine it and pass it around. ~ John Berger
- Heavy Radicals: The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists
Aaron J. Leonard
Conor A. Gallagher
With Heavy Radicals, historians Aaron Leonard and Conor Gallagher illuminate the surveillance state's role in shaping both the left itself and the government's response to it. ~ Jay Kinney, Reason Magazine
- Soul Comfort
Soul Comfort presents a set of cohesive ideas about consciousness, love, death and grief: these are ideas that are inherent in human experience, and therefore relevant to us all, however much we may want to avoid thinking about them – until we are faced with the inevitable. Whether we’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, or simply exploring the nature of human existence, Alistair Conwell makes it easy for us in this very accessible book. It’s a deceptively quick and easy read, almost aphoristic in style and divided into bite-sized chunks. I read it in an afternoon, but not for the last time. I have spent many months exploring death and what lies beyond, but seldom have I come across a work that spoke so directly to the innate wisdom in my soul.
Some readers may be looking for rational arguments or evidence to support the statements presented here, but as someone who has recently experienced the death of someone close and dearly loved, I saw no need to justify what I know to be true. I found my own experience reflected in Conwell’s words and was comforted by the sharing of these profound universal truths. I will be dipping in again and again, and buying copies for friends to soothe them in the face of the bewilderment and pain that grief brings. There are, indeed, gifts to be found amidst the pain of loss, and Alistair Conwell is skilful in guiding us to them. ~ Cheryl Smith, Amazon (UK)
- No Fire Escape in Hell
Thanks again, Nimue Brown! Besides an awesome mention on her blog site Druid Life, she also took the time to leave an excellent rating on goodreads. Sure, I got a 5/5 last time, this time I got a 4/5, but I'm ok with that. Some like this one better, others like the other one better, as long as they're LIKING them! The link is below:
~ Nimue Brown, goodreads
- No Fire Escape in Hell
Awesome review of No Fire Escape in Hell. Describes book better than I ever have been able to - completely "got" it. ~ Nimue Brown, Druid Life book review blog
- Blowing the Lid
'This is a wonderfully rich and evocative account of an important moment in gay history. Stuart Feather has "brought it all back" in a marvellous narrative that is a great gift to posterity.' Ken Plummer, University of Essex. ~
- Upside Down Mountain, The
Making Medicine of Uncomfortable Feelings: how to welcome and learn from restlessness
~ Inspire Me Today, http://inspiremetoday.com/brilliance/mackean/
- Ariadne's Thread
I found this book intriguing because it tackles a topic very few other people write about; Minoan paganism. This was not a type of reconstruction that I was previously familiar with but I am really glad I took the time to read this book. It is a fascinating look at ancient Minoan religion and culture and the modern ways it can be practiced. The author begins by giving the reader a thorough understanding of ancient Crete so that we can move forward with the necessary knowledge of how the original religion worked. We learn about the evidence of the ancient religion and theories about its practice and power. From this base the author moves forward into her own modern reconstruction of the faith. She discusses the different deities, holidays that a Minoan pagan can celebrate and how to celebrate them. Although this is not my own cultural interest I found the book fascinating and more than worth reading. Highly recommended for anyone seeking to practice this religion or who is merely curious about this faith. ~ Morgan Daimler, Druid and Irish reconstructionist Pagan and author of Where the Hawthorn Grows and By Land, Sea and Sky