Friday, 26 June 2015

Book review: Numberless Dreams by Kelly Thacker

'Numberless Dreams' has me at a loss. It's a wonderful story, and I love how in the end we see the main character, Autumn, fully come into herself after hitting rock bottom. It's a great story about the strength of a woman, the strength of true love, and the power of forgiveness. It has all of that, and it's what makes it such a powerful novel.

But the back is a little misleading, as is the first chapter. I was expecting the novel to be more about the marriage and re-marriage, but it was about so much more. Not that I'm complaining, not at all. I just had to shift my view a bit to fully appreciate Thacker's novel. Some of it felt a bit pieced together, but it all worked out very well and I absolutely fell in love with the main characters. Autumn's in-laws, I'm sure I was supposed to like them both but I felt a bit distant from them. I was okay with that, with how filling it was to read about Autumn and her husband, and even her daughter.

Overall, 'Numberless Dreams' is a novel about how important it is to discover your inner strength, and to fight to let it out for all your worth. It's too easy to let yourself get lost in the negativity the world puts on our shoulders, and this novel reminds us the joy that comes after the self-reflection.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Book review: Of Dreams and Daffodils by S.E Blackman

Of Dreams and Daffodils

One moment. That's all it took for Adrian's world to change. One moment took her husband, son, and daughter from her. With the unexpected help of her estranged brother she begins to rebuild her life and move forward, right into the arms of her brother's best friend. Over time, Adrian learns how to live the life she still has, and how to love once more.

'Of Dreams and Daffodils' is quite a lovely story in essence. For the times it sounded stilted or forced, there were enough to make me cry. It was honestly a roller coaster and I'm still not sure what to think about it. At its core, Blackman has written a heartbreaking story of a woman who has lost it all and must rely on a brother she had lost all faith in. She goes through survivor's guilt, and endures the trial of her family's murderer. A lot of it seemed to be surface material, like I was looking through a binoculars. I could see what was happening at a distance, but I didn't feel like I was part of it. Except for Hannah.

When Adrian dreamt of her daughter, every dream sequence brought me to tears. That was the heart of the story. That was where I felt Adrian was an actual person. Much of the dialogue outside the dreams was stilted (very few contractions, which is strange in dialogue if you actually listen to how people speak. One person, sure, but not everyone all the time.) but when Adrian was with Hannah, it was so natural. If I looked into it, I could say that it was intentional, that it was so realistic because when she was awake, Adrian wasn't really alive, not without her family.

Her relationship with Hunter evolved quite quickly, not just romantically but as friends as well. The book is advertised as a romance novel, but to be honest that part of it could be cut out and left until the very end. This is a novel about a woman who learns how to live, learns what her life is all about, and learns who she is. It has a strong message about the bonds of family and to never take a single moment for granted.

Buy the book on Amazon

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Book review: Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament

This book is the first non-fiction I've reviewed, and let me tell you how glad I am to have picked it up. With my background in Archaeology, ancient languages has always fascinated me. While I studied Biblical Hebrew, my husband studied Classical Greek for his four years of undergraduate study and during his two year master's program in Classical Studies. Armed with this, and with my own studies of the New Testament via word studies (and with the memorization of the Greek alphabet for my sorority) I was ready for this book.

It blew my mind. Perhaps I've been out of academia for too long, reviewing fiction novels, but this book has changed the way I look at not only studying the New Testament, but learning ancient languages and understanding my own. The background of the study of this language was immensely helpful as a way to set the stage for what was to come. While some terms weren't defined right away, he devoted full chapters to specific concepts I had an issue with.

What really struck me is how it has changed the way I study the New Testament. I'm a believer in going back to the original text using word studies. Looking at the Greek has helped me understand difficult passages, and has changed my perception of other passages still. Campbell has, without my having to sit in a classroom, given me a greater desire to learn more about this language and the culture behind it. He has given me a desire to go beyond simple word studies. I likely won't be one of his hopeful categories, the one who will come out with my own advances in the language. But I know that this book has given me the foundation I need to start.

Within his book, Campbell shows various and conflicting arguments about Koine Greek, from the legitimacy of deponency (I had to ask the husband about that term when I first stumbled upon it) to the proper pronunciation and why it's important to know. This wide overview was comprehensive and appreciated from someone outside that part of academia.

Each chapter works mostly as an overview, but Campbell gives the reader resources to use as further reading to continue learning about a specific subject. This is an added benefit to the reader. Personally, it has helped me and my husband when discussing various aspects of Campbell's arguments (for example, we discussed chapter 9, in which Campbell discusses the proper pronunciation of Koine Greek and how this can be discovered through the study of papyri dating to the proper period.)

In order to fully appreciate this book, I believe some background in Greek would be beneficial, although not necessarily a full working knowledge of the language. Or, at the very least, some knowledge of languages whether it's ancient or not. Overall, Campbell has written a clear and concise book about how the study of Koine Greek has developed, focusing on its history as well as modern advances.

You can buy the book on Amazon starting July 28, 2015

Visit the author's website

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Guest post: Hayden Linder, author of The Hand of Death

I asked Nichole if I could make a blog tour stop here and she agreed, ‘if’ I did a guest post about researching my book. I of course agreed because researching for a fantasy novel is not the first thing to come to mind for most folks when they here ninjas and wizards… Perhaps I should explain.

My name is Hayden D. Linder and my debut novel, “The Hand of Death” is an epic fantasy about a young boy being groomed into a master assassin. The setting is based loosely on feudal Japan. The strength of the story is its characters and the decisions they have to make if their House is to survive. As a reader you get to watch as the main character, Shotoku Hiro, evolves from a person who simply obeys orders like a soldier into a man who makes decisions based on what is best for his House, The Koga, and his country, Giapan.

When I first started writing the story I didn’t give much thought to researching anything. I had a general storyline and several pieces of dialogue in my head and just needed to get them onto paper. By the way, those last two sentences encompass about eight months of writing. There was a lot in my head. BUT, once that was accomplished I did something truly, truly stupid. I thought it would be good to add quotes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to the top of every chapter of my book. Yes, mostly because I thought it would look cool but I also thought it would help with the immersion of the reader into the world of Giapan. And it did. And I am very happy I made the decision. Unfortunately this would be when the reality of research raised its ugly head. 

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general but he was highly revered in Japan. After reading his treatise I realized just how many holes I had in my knowledge of Japanese history. That led to many more sites on a multitude of subjects from clothing to law enforcement to the judicial system to social mores and so on. Did you know the Mongols attempted to invade Japan on two different occasions? Both invasion fleets were wiped out by the “Kamikaze” or “Divine wind.” I also discovered odd contradictions that I found extremely interesting. Like, peasants are not allowed to carry weapons and yet Ashigaru or peasant forces were common in feudal Japan. Some carried spears and some carried black powder weapons. There was even a time when these forces completely left the service of their lords and became mercenaries. Originally I wrote the book because I had a story I needed to get out of my head but it turned into a wonderful learning experience for me. If you view writing a novel as akin to a teacher giving a lesson, then the old adage was true for me. “The teacher always learns more than the student.”

Looking back at the cyber-piles of data I had to plow through, from famous ninjas in Japanese history to what kind of shoes they wore in heavy snow, I find myself happy that I did it. I think little details are what make the difference between a blasé story and an exceptional one. I know that for me I had a great time writing this story. I enjoyed the research but most of all I loved the inspiration I was able to take away from all that digging.

If I had one wish for you it would be this; when it comes time for you to write that Novel/Novella/Paper/Peace Treaty between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscu, look forward to the researching of information. That is where most of the fun lies hidden.

About Hayden Linder
I have done several jobs over the years but currently I am a 40 something year old PC Tech. I have a lovely daughter, Kyle, by my ex-wife and four beautiful children, Chuy, Vivian, Felix and Lalo by my long suffering wife Ruby. I spend most of my time being grateful for the life God gave me and trying to be a blessing to those around me.

Buy 'The Hand of Death' on Amazon
Hayden's Website, Facebook, or follow him on Twitter