Throwback Thursday ~ The Age of Miracles

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Throwback Thursday is a feature created by the ever wonderful Renee @It’s Book Talk to feature old favorites as well as those titles to be read that were published more than a few years ago.

I think this is a fantastic opportunity to share old favorites and discover not so new reads. Please hop over and pay Renee a visit and feel to join in. Share your throwbacks and link up with It’s Book Talk!

My Throwback for 7/20/17

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The Age of Miracles

By Karen Thompson Walker
Published: January 15, 2013

Synopsis:

“It’s never the disasters you see coming that finally come to pass—it’s the ones you don’t expect at all,” says Julia, in this spellbinding novel of catastrophe and survival by a superb new writer. Luminous, suspenseful, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles tells the haunting and beautiful story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in a time of extraordinary change.
 
On an ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer; gravity is affected; the birds, the tides, human behavior, and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world that seems filled with danger and loss, Julia also must face surprising developments in herself, and in her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by her friends, the pain and vulnerability of first love, a growing sense of isolation, and a surprising, rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking portrait of people finding ways to go on in an ever-evolving world.

The Age of Miracles is not quite as old as my previously featured title Kindred, but an absolute favorite of mine so I have decided to feature it today. Dripping with elegant prose, this book offers a unique but terrifyingly believable approach to the “end of days” scenario that pulls you end and refuses to let go. This is a one sit read that leaves a lasting impression.

What are some of your favorite throwbacks?

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You Choose, I Read – Review of The Princess and the Goblin

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The Princess and the Goblin
By George MacDonald
Publisher: Puffin Classics
ISN13: 9780141332482
Pages: 235
Genre: Fairy Tale

Synopsis:

Princess Irene lives in a castle in a wild and lonely mountainous region. One day she discovers a steep and winding stairway leading to a bewildering labyrinth of unused passages with closed doors – and a further stairway. What lies at the top? Can the ring the princess is given protect her against the lurking menace of the boglins from under the mountain?


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The Princess and the Goblin is my second You Choose, I Read selection. And it did not disappoint. Stick around to meet the wonderful reader who recommended this classic fairy tale! This is a small, but noteworthy tale. I will be keeping this review on the lighter side and encourage you to explore the story on your own.

“Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.”

Having been originally published in 1872, I admit that I began with some trepidation. Even as an avid fan of fairy tales, I am no stranger to the challenges of reading older work. It can be easy to find yourself lost among the dated language and styles of writing. But that simply was not the case here. I welcomed the surprise of discovering that even now, this endearing story still seems to read with a certain ease and fluidity that I appreciated.

The Princess and the Goblin was not the complex, exciting sort of read we have come to expect from today’s fantasy but there was much to be admired within its simple magic and charming characters. This felt like a visit down memory lane of what I imagine must be the earlier roots or at least notable influences of the fantasy genre we have come to love presently.

“People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.”

And of course, no fairy tale is complete with a moral lesson tucked within the pages. Here we learn the importance of having faith and “The Golden Rule”. Presented through a cast that includes a lively and adventurous princess, a kind  miner boy and a mysterious grandmother, all elements come together successfully in a small tale that leaves a lasting impression.

I recommend picking this up if you are a fan of fairy tales, as I feel it truly encompasses the essence of the genre. I regret not having stumbled upon this sooner so that I might have read it aloud with my own children. It is a quaint read that will be a lovely addition to any family library.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository


Meet The Reader Who Recommended This Book

Geoffrey2Geoffrey Angapa is a familiar and welcomed presence here on Books, Vertigo and Tea who was kind enough to answer a few questions and share a bit more about himself with us!

Please tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing.

First of all, much thanks to Danielle for giving me this opportunity and for reading the book in question! Well, my name is Geoffrey Angapa, and I was born and raised in the city of Durban, which lies on the east coast of South Africa. (Of note in Durban are: its excellent climate; Moses Mabhida Stadium, which has a remarkable design; City Hall, which is supposedly a replica of the one in Belfast; its excellent beaches; its Zulu, English, and Indian cultures; and a great deal more.) I am a lover of all that is old and old-fashioned. Last year I self-published The Quest of the Golden Apple (which was first reviewed by Danielle). It is a sort of fairy tale, or a traditional fantasy (as I often say). The general consensus of reviewers seems to suggest that the book, though pleasant, is rather average, and I have long accepted that. Last year I also began working on the sequel, whose title is The Enchanted Shield, and its beginnings were rather slow and uncertain; but, as time progressed, the book came together more and more, and raced towards a conclusion, so much so, that by the end of March this year, I got to the end. Still, much then remained to be written: the beginning had to be written almost from scratch, and gaps throughout the narrative had to be filled. I am working on the revision at present, and much work remains to be done. Its release is still a long way off; for my methods of revision are quite slow. At any rate, I am extremely excited about the book, extremely excited to give it to the world, and I have aimed to improve upon its predecessor in every way possible. (Many things have inspired me during the work, even CPU design: the way AMD’s Zen microarchitecture and Ryzen CPU have aimed to improve so greatly over the previous design, and to knock the competition, Intel, off its throne.) One of the complaints about The Quest of the Golden Apple was its plot, whose structure was not quite right. This time round, I have expended much effort and thought on the design of the tale’s structure and plot. The setting has been greatly diversified, and there are improvements across the entire tale. As strange as it may sound, I have applied (or at least I have tried to apply) a few game design principles to the book (I am not a game designer though). One suggestion that I can offer to other writers out there is that of prototyping: even if it is only (as I did) in one’s head, try to prototype content before you write it, and through iteration on the original concept, allow it to reach critical mass of quality. I have not always done this myself in writing The Enchanted Shield, but I have at least tried (often or at times) to prototype concepts in my head a bit before writing. Still, I’ve often written after little thought! Another useful game design principle, which I haven’t properly applied myself, though I suppose I have a little, is to decouplestructure and content from art; that is, first get the structure and the content right, through iteration, and then apply surface detail and polish.

If you had to name one book that was very influential in your life, which would it be?

Many writers have influenced me, and I owe a great debt to the English writers of the past; but the book that has influenced me the most, or at least much at one time, is perhaps The Lord of the Rings. Indeed, much of Tolkien’s work has, even his essays (for example, “On Fairy Stories”). If I might cite another writer, Samuel Johnson, the great 18th century writer, is perhaps one of them; but indeed, many different writers have given me much.

Do you drink tea, and if so what is your favorite blend? 😉 (I had to ask).

Indeed, I am a tea-drinker, and have been one for a long time. I drink black tea, with milk, and no sugar. I favoured a certain brand and type of tea before; but I have become uncertain of it, and prefer not to recommend anything; for different teas can have different effects on different people.

Why did you choose to recommend The Princess and the Goblin for my latest read?

I’ve enjoyed many children’s classics, and The Princess and the Goblin is one of my favourites. It possesses an almost mythical quality at its best times, though it is perhaps a little ill written. Some motifs or sequences in the book are quite astonishing, generally all the things relating to Irene’s grandmother, or rather great-great-grandmother. The rose-fire, etc. In short, it is a delightful tale.

Thank you again Geoffrey, for this wonderful recommendation and your time! 
Please make sure to visit Geoffrey and learn more on his site.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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Release Day & Author Interview! Wendy Darling Vol 3: Shadow

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I have to admit that I love nothing more than opening my email than seeing Spark Point Studio. I love working with them and they promote some of my absolute favorite authors. So when I saw the invitation to participate in the blog tour for Colleen Oakes latest addition to the Wendy Darling series, I responded without hesitation. I fangirl over Oakes and her ability to weave dazzling re-imaginings of my favorite fairy tales. Wendy Darling Vol 2: Seas ranks highly among my favorites. You can find my past review of Seas here.

Today I am excited to share my thoughts on the conclusion to this haunting series as well as a lovely interview with the brilliant author behind the books!

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Please Welcome Colleen Oakes

Thank you so much for your time today! The Wendy Darling series is one of my favorites. I admire how you have taken Neverland and its familiar residents and expanded on them, giving them new life. What was your inspiration behind this series?  

I knew that after Queen of Hearts I wanted to write another fairytale retelling with a strong female character.  When I first picked up Peter Pan to read it again before starting Wendy Darling, I was struck by just how adult that story is. As a child, you remember the Lost Boys having fun and Peter flying, but there are a lot of dark and twisted things about the story of Peter Pan; gender roles, violence, strange hints of hatred for Mothers…it’s a much deeper and more diabolical story that it gets credit for. That resonated with me, and I knew that Wendy Darling would be the character, and the book, for me.

Who has been your favorite character to develop within the Wendy Darling series and what are some of your favorite qualities within them?

While I do love Wendy and all that is good and merciful within her, Peter Pan is my favorite character to write. I love a charismatic villain; I modeled him after powerful and attractive cult leaders throughout history. I wondered – what would a sixteen year old forever actually look like, and he was born out of that question.

You have taken the infamous Neverland and made it your very own. What were some of the challenges you encountered during this process?

Probably the most obvious answer is that it’s an island. You can only go so many places on an island and so it’s sort of limiting in its scope. Because that wasn’t challenging enough, I set book two, Seas, on a boat. I modeled the physical island after Kauai, only with a feral magic that has created the history that we see in the books.

Wendy Darling: Shadow is the conclusion of our time with this series. For myself it was bitter-sweet. While very satisfied, I found I was not quite ready to say goodbye. How does it feel personally to see this adventure come to an end?

I feel sad, but also grateful that I got to tell Wendy Darling’s story second, after J.M Barrie. I’m proud of these books and what they have to say about family and loyalty and the struggles of a girl coming-of-age in a wild world.  They will always have a special place in my heart and yes, it’s quite bittersweet.

As a reader, I hold a special fondness for fairy tales and retellings. You have explored Wonderland in your Queen of Hearts series and Neverland in Wendy Darling. What can we anticipate next?

I can tell you that in 2019, you will be seeing a very different book from me  – a Southern Gothic style thriller that deals with vigilante justice and a matriarchal society in Austin Texas. After that, another YA thriller will be up on deck, and another fantasy novel.  I will be revisiting fairy-tales very soon though.

And last but least, I must ask (in the spirit of Books, Vertigo and Tea) do you have a favorite tea that you enjoy?

My favorite tea is Honey Vanilla Chamomile with a LOT of honey in it.

Thank you again fColleen! I am anticipating the new thriller (Austin is my birth city) and cannot wait to see what lies ahead! I am also excited to see which fairy tales you choose to revisit.


Wendy Darling Volume 3: Shadow
Review

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Available 7/18/17
Publisher: Sparkpress
ISBN13: 9781943006168
Genre: Fantasy/Retelling

Synopsis:

Wendy Darling has found herself once again in the arms of charming Peter Pan, the god-child who desires power above all things. This time, though, Wendy burns not with passion but with a secret: with Hook as her ally, she is there to defeat the evil that lies inside of Peter, the evil that holds all Neverland hostage: the Shadow.
To do this, Wendy must quietly undo Peter from inside his heart while at the same time convincing Tink to betray the twisted love that binds them together. This is a task made nearly impossible by the arrival of Booth, her sweetheart from London and a new pawn in Peter’s manipulative game, a boy whose heart she must break in order to save his life. As all of Neverland prepares to fight, Wendy races to untangle Peter’s connection to the Shadow, a secret long buried in the Forsaken Garden. When the time comes, pirates, mermaids, Lost Boys, and the Darling family will all rise, but if Wendy can’t call the Shadow, they will all be destroyed by Peter’s dark soul. War has come to paradise, and Neverland will never be the same. Wendy Darling: Shadow is the thrilling final installment in Colleen Oakes’ Wendy Darling Trilogy.”

My Thoughts:

Colleen Oakes has captured the very heart and essence of fairy tales with this series. There is an indescribable magic that seems to lift from the pages when I open Shadow. A comforting familiarity and an enticing new adventure find the perfect balance within, as a Wendy’s remarkable journey unfolds.

I am refraining from diving too far into the plot as always since this is a conclusion to a trilogy. But Shadow thrusts us back into the heart of Neverland as our heroine Wendy embarks on a daring emprise to save its lands and inhabitants from the ever menacing Peter Pan and his Shadow. Is it possible that in doing so she just might save the ones she loves and finally return home?

Shadow continues to deliver extraordinary character development and world building that is showcased through a bold and fast paced plot bursting with excitement and enthusiasm. Wendy’s relentless courage pairs beautifully with her unyielding love and hope to provide a protagonist that confronts her own weakness and continually challenges herself. The end result is a unique character that evolves tremendously and in doing so creates a very personalized connection with the reader. The returning ensemble of rag-tag pirates and misfits ultimately succeed in gaining our affection and admiration in the most unlikely ways.

Oakes has earned a favored spot among my list of auto-read authors. I often envision something mystical occurring as she puts pen to paper (so to speak). There is an overwhelming sense of ease that is conveyed through how effortlessly her stories read. Seamless narration compliments her uncanny ability to take something well-known and transform it into her own. She incorporates haunting elements of love, loss and obsession, exposing a new, darker side of Neverland and its inhabitants that will play on a multitude of emotions.

It is quite possible to pick up any book in this series and read it as a standalone because the storytelling is complete and thorough, but I would honestly advise against doing so. There is too much to be gained from the Wendy Darling books. This is a trilogy that will find a permanent and welcomed home among the shelves of fantasy and fairy tale fans alike. With a consistent pace and befitting conclusion, this is one series I find myself reluctant to part with.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository


About The Author
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Colleen Oakes is the author of books for both teens and adults, including the Elly in Bloom Series, the Queen of Hearts Saga (Harper Collins 2016), and the Wendy Darling Saga. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son and surrounds herself with the most lovely family and friends imaginable. When not writing or plotting new books, Oakes can be found swimming, traveling or totally immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She currently at work on another fantasy series and a stand-alone YA novel. Visit her on Twitter @ColleenBlooms.
You can also visit her website at www.colleenoakes.com.


Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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