Sunday, February 15, 2015

Losing It - Elizabeth Armstrong

Losing It - Elizabeth Armstrong
Source: Author Copy
Originally Reviewed: February 15, 2015
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I read this book at the request of the author. Would I have found the book on my own? That’s not a question I can honestly answer. However, had I come across it on my own, the premise absolutely hooked me.

I really wish I could say I was that enthusiastic about it the whole way through. Losing It was pleasing in the end, living up to the premise in spades. My issues with it boils down to a matter of potential. The plot, executed optimally, could have become an instant classic.

Early on in Losing It, it struck me a bit like a modern day Alice in Wonderland. All kinds of fantastical creatures showing up it Kate Winters life – so much so that she thinks she’s insane. The writing just didn’t do it justice!

It’s so hard to get past that. Losing It delivers everything it promises and then some, and the writing does improve the more you read – but you have to get past the not-so-great writing first. Once you do, though, the potential is so obvious.

I am not sorry I read the book. This is one of those books where there plot and the story the author come up with is so brilliant that eventually they’re forced to adjust the way they’re writing – and Armstrong had the skill to pull it off. I just wish she’d gone back and re-written the beginning once she’d gotten her flow.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The White Mare - Jules Watson [The Dalriada Trilogy]

The White Mare - Jules Watson [The Dalriada Trilogy]
Source: Library
Original Review: February 5, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

I adore wandering through libraries. You never know what treasures you'll find.

I found one in The White Mare - a book I'd never heard of before by an author I'd never read. Considering both my lineage and my belief, a tale set in ancient lands where Druids and Priestesses alike played a large role in society immediately appealed. It didn't take much convincing on part of the writing for me to check it out, either.

A priestess, who had somehow lost her Sight, Rhiann finds herself terrified when a Prince of Erin lands on their shores, just after sending their King off to the Otherworld.

Eremon, the exiled King from Erin, who had been betrayed by his uncle and is now in search of glory and support in order to win back his throne.

A land threatened by the Romans.

I can't speak to historical accuracy - history isn't my thing - but Watson paints a pretty amazing picture. Amazing enough that I just realized that for a brief moment I completely forgot this was supposed to be a fictional setting.

Or is it? Hard to tell!

Early on, Gelert immediately strikes me as "the bad guy." Him being an oddity among the other Druids of the clan in his methods, thoughts, and treatment of the heroine point to him as such from the get go. There are many incidents of distaste, so many that I wonder if it isn't a little too obvious that he's the antagonist for this story. Even when he's not on stage, it's impossible to forget him. I wondered immediately if he wouldn't eventually be the one to sell them out to the Romans.

The book deals a lot in matters of betrayal, on all different levels. Personal, cultural, community, political - even spiritual, if Gelert is any indication. It balances that, though, with a story of honor, steadfastness, and hope. It takes me - because of my personal associations - back in time in such a wonderful way, and it makes me realize the depth of not just what I believe, but also who I am. These people, this story could very well be the stories of my own ancestors.

I don't know that I'd feel the same connection to this book if not for the affinity I already carry for the socio-spiritual structure of the people it chronicles. What I do know, is it is a very organic story. It tells of a people, of their lives, in a very realistic way - for all it being considered a fictional story. The way the relationship between Rhiann and Eremon evolve from her pulling a knife on him to finally coming around to full acceptance. The way she grew, and healed. The struggles they all faced as they do the best they can to defend their lands against invaders. There's a strong thread of truth that settles, something that says, "believe."

For as much as I loved it, I do have to knock off a star for the pacing. For the most part, the story progressed at an almost perfect pace. There was a section that almost had me putting the book down, however, for as badly as the progress slowed.