Happy Thanksgiving from Norway


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Everyone,

As I mentioned before, I’m working on an MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University. I’m also staying in Oslo, Norway for this academic year as my husband won a Fulbright to be a visiting researcher at Oslo University.

For these reason, I’m going to give this blog a rest for December and most of January and hope to be back next spring with something to entertain and provoke.

I hope you all enjoy this picture taken this Fall in Lillehammer, Norway. Heather is something that’s used instead of flowers at this time of year. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

All Best Wishes,

CynthiaSignature

 

 

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Wednesday Reviews: UNRAVELED (CREWEL WORLD)

UnraveledIn this third volume of CREWEL WORLD Adelice has arrived back on Arras, determined to play along with Cormac Patton’s plans to make her his wife, so that she can either trick him into revealing some vital information, or kill him by unraveling his time thread.

You may want to stop here if you haven’t read this volume as there are spoilers ahead.

Unfortunately, this volume bears all the hallmarks for rushed and careless writing. For example, when Adelice’s love-interest Erik finally appears after 16 chapters, author Gennifer Albin needs to slow way down to let the emotions unspool in front of the reader. Here is what she actually does:

He [Erik] races forward and unlatches my cuffs pulling me up and into a tight hug. But before I can even enjoy it, he releases me…”Follow me.” It’s little more than a command, and for the moment I’m frozen to the spot. But when he walks out of the room, I go after him despite the shock and confusion warring within me…”Where are we?” I ask Erik, grabbing his arm. He removes my hand quickly but I don’t think I’m imagining a gentle squeeze as he does it. “We got her,” Erik calls out, and everyone stops to stare at me. There are a few cheers. Some eye me with curiosity. Others look unimpressed. But all that matters is the grin that splits Dante’s face, because for a moment I feel like I’ve come home.

For someone that she’s been dying to see for the past 56% of the novel, this reunion feels curiously muted and diffuse. I’m not sure why Ms. Albin didn’t focus her lens on Adelice’s emotions as she met Erik again, after literally resigning herself to a loveless union with Cormac. I don’t understand why this meeting is rushed and hurried, and given the same emotional weight as her reunion with Valery, or Dante or any of the other characters that fly in and out of the scenes in this novel.

Which brings me to another problem. There are simply too many characters. Valery, Folan, Alixandria, Pryana, I just couldn’t keep them straight, mainly because they weren’t delineated well enough of me to be able to tell them apart. I really question whether Ms. Albin needed all of these characters, or whether she couldn’t have just paired it down to one female character who had a complex relationship with the protagonist.

Many key plot points were too vague. For example, I didn’t understand why staying in Arras would kill Loricel and Albert. And I still don’t know why Pryana gave Adelice the crystal box. All of this stuff glided by way too quickly, making it hard to take in.

As the emotional weight of the novel seems to revolve around Adelice’s relationship with Erik, his death should be absolutely devastating. I don’t know why Ms. Albin chose not to show it to us, because that muffled its effect. We need to spend more time with Adelice in mourning him. When, at the end of the volume, Adelice finally comes together with Jost, the reader needs to be reminded about what brought them together when they first met, so that their eventual union makes sense.

It is a great pity that Ms. Albin was not given the support to put the time and energy into ending this novel properly. I really thought the opening volume, CREWEL, was stunning in its imaginative boldness. Every time Adelice touches those threads that hold the world of Arras together the writing is compelling. This volume just seemed like a mad-tag chase around and around, with people meeting sudden unexplained ends, too many characters, and vague plot twists. Two stars.

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Wednesday Reviews: ALTERED (CREWEL WORLD)

AlteredIn this second volume, Adelice Lewys and her friends Erick and Jost find themselves on the strange Planet Earth (where they’ve never been before). Adelice discovers who her real father is, but the mother she loved so much in Arras is beyond repair, a mere “remnant”.

ALTERED becomes a Quest Story, this time to find the Whorl in a race against time as Cormac Patton, the powerful figure from Arras (who wanted to trap Adelice into marrying him in Volume One), sends his “people” to find her. As this novel takes us away from the stunning details of Arras world, and from Adelice’s incredible talent with weaving, the writing becomes less compelling. Despite this, Gennifer Albin manages to write a page-turner that will make readers want to know what happens next. Four stars. 

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Wednesday Reviews: CREWEL (CREWEL WORLD)

CrewelSixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has tried so hard to FAIL her obligatory weaving exam. Unfortunately, on the day of testing, she slips for just one moment, showing off her great skill.

That night, they come for her.

The rest of the story is about Adelice’s growing realization of her power, and of how the strange world she finds herself in works, as she graduates from Eligible to Spinster (one who has the skill to mend the weave-world that is Arras), to Creweler (one who can actually make new matter.) Every time Adelice’s fingers touch those threads, Ms. Albin’s writing becomes extraordinarily compelling.

Things come to a head when she learns she’s going to be reprogrammed to make her more suitable to become the wife of the powerful (and much older) Cormac. Five stars for a stunningly imaginative new world, three stars for a predictable love-triangle, making four stars. 

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Wednesday Reviews: FLAME OF SEVENWATERS by Juliet Marillier

FlameOfSevenwatersI loved FLAME OF SEVENWATERS. I thought author Juliet Marillier did a wonderfully sensitive job in talking about disability, and how hard it is for a differently-abled person to find the things in life that matter most, such as a partner who loves us for ourselves despite our flaws.

I won’t talk about the plot here so as not to spoil the story, but the stakes are very high and it has wonderful plot twists and a satisfyingly resonant ending. Five stars. 

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Today is your last chance to get your discounted copy of TWO MURDERS REAPED!

Today is the last day to get your discounted copy of TWO MURDERS REAPED as the Kindle Countdown Deal ends at 8 of the clock (Pacific Time).

Please click on the picture to get the link.

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Please note that this deal ONLY applies to the KINDLE version of TWO MURDERS REAPED in the Amazon.com market.

 

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Wednesday Reviews: THE WELL OF SHADES by Juliet Marillier

TheWellOfShadesTHE WELL OF SHADES, the last and third volume of THE BRIDEI CHRONICLES by author Juliet Marillier again makes Faolan a chief player. This time his love interest is the fierce and fragile Elie, daughter of an Irish warrior who helped save Faolan’s life in Volume 2. As usual, Marillier takes the reader on quite an adventure, but this time it was more successful as both of her characters were flawed human beings who grow and change.

Of all the volumes in this series, I enjoyed this one the best. Five stars. 

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Kindle Countdown for TWO MURDERS REAPED starts today!

Lady Cecylee is pleased to announce that the fourth volume of her memoirs will be available today at a discount as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal that will commence at 8 of the clock Pacific Time. Please click on the picture below to get the link.

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Please NOTE that this deal ONLY APPLIES to the KINDLE version of TWO MURDERS REAPED in the Amazon.com market.

 

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Today is your last chance to get your discounted copy of THWARTED QUEEN!

Today is the last day to get your discounted copy of THWARTED QUEEN as the Kindle Countdown Deal ends at Midnight (Pacific Time).

Please click on the picture to get the link.

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Please note that this deal ONLY applies to the KINDLE version of THWARTED QUEEN in the Amazon.com market.

 

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Wednesday Reviews: THE BLADE OF FORTRIU by Juliet Marillier

BladeOfFortriuTHE BLADE OF FORTRIU, the second volume of THE BRIDEI CHRONICLES (THE DARK MIRROR is the first volume) pairs the intriguing spy and assassin Faolan, with a minor character from King Bridei’s court. Ana is a royal hostage kept there to ensure that the King of the Light Isles, her father, will not betray Bridei.

Like Bridei in THE DARK MIRROR, Ana is also a too-perfect character who can be annoying for exactly that reason. So it’s great that Faolan finds her so annoying and a bit of a pain in the neck. Just as I was enjoying how their relationships was unfolding, Marillier threw a spanner in the works by making Ana fall in love with someone that she basically can’t see. Marillier would have lost me at that point, except for her truly lovely descriptions which made the story come alive for me. Four stars. 

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