Category: Ancient Greece

#PubDay Book Review | “The Fortune Teller” by Gwedolyn Womack Sophomore release by the author of “The Memory Painter”

Posted Tuesday, 6 June, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: Originally, as a hostess of HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) I was able to participate on the blog tour for Ms Womack’s debut novel: The Memory Painter. (see also Review) I was contacted by the author to gauge if I had interest in her sophomore release ‘The Fortune Teller’ of which I researched on her site and found the premise to be quite intriguing. I readily accepted her offer to read this for an honest review and she had her publisher send me a paperback copy of which I was grateful. I received a complimentary copy of “The Fortune Teller” direct from the publisher Picador in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I enjoyed reading this author’s previous release: The Memory Painter

Womack uses creative juxtapositions throughout her novel – where we’re with Bryan and Linz one moment, whilst being treated to a sequence of knowledge not yet introduced to the main thread of the story-line. This is where she shifts both perspective and the trisectional splitting between the main context of how Bryan & Linz are inter-connected to each other, the critical research on Alzheimer’s and the mystery History has attempted to shroud out of memory and sight from humanity. She presents her characters with a depth of being who are grounded as much as they are dimensional. You can sense their emotions, even at a first glance to how they hold themselves and how they allow themselves to interact with others. There is quite a lot bubbling just below the surface – not only of the narrative direction but through the stitchings of how her characters are moulded together.

Womack writes with a subtle accuracy of giving you just enough information per each scene or character visit to allow you to tie everything together in the larger scope of things. It’s an interesting told narrative, from the point-of-view of shifting perceptions and how you are augmented through different portals of how the story-line is moving forward. The main focus is centred on Bryan and Linz, but you have other influences moving the timeline as well as how each cross-section pertains to the two protagonists who hold the key to the whole story! You can simply let your mind alight through Womack’s graceful narrative and let yourself wander as you wonder how the author knitted the story out of the ethers!

I give a nod of excellence to Womack for compellingly giving her readers a visceral level of realism towards understanding how Bryan painted his portraits of life and death! She used words as he uses paint – you could not help but feel as if you were standing below his portraits, seeing how everything felt alive and telling in that stance you took to see what shouldn’t be able to be seen. It’s a lovely novel of depth for the world of art, as similar to music, art is at times hard to conceptionalise on the page; Womack had such an organic way of presenting the art, you could not help but appreciate it in full!

How Womack was able to intervene on History to such a level of intriguing juxtapositions, I am uncertain! As she even brought back to life the compelling argument of how sometimes not everything is fully resolved before or after death! She interwove Egyptology in such a fascinating and inventive way as to cross their Ancient History with our current timeline! It was wonderful to watch her pull her layers together, explore the details further and to watch how even her characters were a bit startled by how everything was inter-connecting straight through to the finish! Her mind truly has captured the intricacies of a plot that is told not only through multiple perspectives but through a threading of counter current lives who are affectingly drawn to each other due to how their past lives originally affected their soul’s journey. Now that’s beyond impressive for a debut novel!

-as quoted from my review of The Memory Painter

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#PubDay Book Review | “The Fortune Teller” by Gwedolyn Womack Sophomore release by the author of “The Memory Painter”The Fortune Teller
by Gwendolyn Womack
Source: Direct from Publisher

Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, specializing in deciphering ancient texts. And when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele's life. But what happened to the cards? As the mystery of her connection to the manuscript deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Brossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Brossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781250099778

Also by this author: The Memory Painter, The Time Collector (Spotlight)

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Published by Picador

on 6th of June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 368

Published By: Picador (@PicadorUSA) via St. Martin’s Press
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema.

Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 6 June, 2017 by jorielov in Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Content Note, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Modern Day, Pharaohs & Dynasties, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Seers, Supernatural Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “A Song of War: A Novel of Troy” by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield

Posted Thursday, 3 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “A Song of War” direct from the publisher Knight Media in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title interested me to read:

When it comes to Helen of Troy, the Trojan War and Greek Myths such as The Iliad, you could say I took an about-face course of action whenever these subjects were broached in school. I did not see a need to change that status until recently, when an opportunity to read an anthology collection based on the Trojan War appeared in my blog tour folder. I will say, the Trojan War fascinated me when I was younger (as I loved studying key moments in History; a budding History buff & appreciator of war dramas in fiction) however, it was Helen herself that keenly intrigued me. I wanted to take the discussion in school to a deeper level than the bare bone facts and trivia soundbites, but alas, my peers were not as keen as I was on that front, and thus, I grew bored. The trend for me is that once I turnt bored on a topic or subject in school, I simply tuned it out. Frustrating to my teachers but I was more vexed how tediously repetitive and superficial most discussions were and how ironic my classmates were never bored.

One of the reasons I love reviewing anthologies (previously I’ve spent more attention on seeking out Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror anthologies!) is the nature of how you get the proper chance to ‘meet’ multiple authors, or renew interest in ones you already know and appreciate. Sometimes it’s a mix of the two, if you read successive anthologies and find the same authors are represented and/or if in this instance, you find the happy surprise of a historical author you appreciate is included (for me, this would be Stephanie Thornton).

I approach reviewing anthologies differently than novels – for me, it’s seeking out the stories contained in the anthology that garnished the most connection to the context, character and timescape. If this were SF/F/H I would also be focused on the layering of thematic or the depth of the world-building. With my readings of Troy, I was looking for the aesthetics of the era, the general cohesiveness of how the time was represented and of course, the clarity shining through the point-of-view of the lead and supporting characters.

The best part of anthologies is never knowing how many of the stories you’ll feel wholly enthused about reading nor which story stands out in the end. It’s like a grab bag of literary gold – each story has the chance to touch your heart and imagination – but will it?! And, if so, why!? I also like reading biographies or Appendixes in anthologies – my ARC copy included Author Notes but was re-missive on the Introduction by Glyn Iliffe. Thankfully I let my fingers do the walking and I found it included in the “behind the book” preview on Amazon. The blessing for me, it was only a short paragraph and not a few pages, as reading length digitally is not something I can do.

Imagine then, my wicked joy in descending into this historical anthology – dearly curious on my own behalf of which author would etch such a strong impression as to leave me even more full of wonder about the Trojans, Helen and a period of history that still paints a fever pitch of interest in today’s modern literary world.

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Blog Book Tour | “A Song of War: A Novel of Troy” by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell WhitfieldA Song of War
Subtitle: A Novel of Troy
by Christian Cameron, Kate Quinn, Libbie Hawker, Russell Whitfield, Sja Turney, Stephanie Thornton, Vicky Alvear Shecter
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781536931853

Also by this author: Daughter of the Gods, Author Interview (Stephanie Thornton), The Tiger Queens

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Historical Fiction, Short Story or Novella, War Drama


Published by Knight Media LLC

on 18th October, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 483

Originally Published By: Knight Media
Available Formats: Paperback

Converse via: #HistFic, #Illaid + #HTeam

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Thursday, 3 November, 2016 by jorielov in 12th Century BC, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Greece, Andromache (Hector's wife) of Troy, Anthology Collection of Stories, ARC | Galley Copy, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Brothers and Sisters, Equality In Literature, Feminine Heroism, Gods & Goddesses, Greek Mythology, Hector of Troy, Helen of Troy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Military Fiction, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Paris of Troy, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Re-Told Tales, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, The Bronze Age (Trojan War era), Twin Siblings, Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women of Power & Rule

Blog Book Tour | “The Memory Painter” by Gwendolyn Womack

Posted Tuesday, 12 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Memory Painter” direct from the publisher Picador in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was wicked enthused to read ‘The Memory Painter’:

I still remember when I first learnt of The Time Travellers Wife – as I was still invested in being an active member of the Science Fiction Book Club (until the day arose where the quality of the hardback editions fell below everyone’s standards; early 2000s) when I happily collected my copy of the book amongst a few wicked awesome time travel, time shift or time slip stories which were being featured together! I have had a penchant for these theories of how to bend time to the will of a writer’s pen for most of my life – as I dearly love how you can subject a reader to the plausible realities of where time bends out of it’s continuum to a separate plane of thought, conscious and experience.

I never had the pleasure of reading the forementioned story before it became a bonefide feature film, which was of course, one of the few times I opted for the film over the book! My soul was crushed afterwards – I literally had trouble walking out of the theater as my emotional state was such to effectively render me wobbly on my feet! I love emotional stories, but this time round – I felt it was taken too far and evocatively affected me too deeply to even speak afterwards! I’ve been hesitatively curious about reading stories that might entertain a similar vein of emotional heartache yet at the same time, my imagination hungers for these stories where time is not as conclusive to it’s era nor of it’s living reality for those who lived within it’s scope.

Time is temporal and with that realisation comes the prospects of never quite understanding the full fabric of how time and our timescapes can be affected by the shifting parallels of how time is explored. This is truly why I wanted to read this particular story – to curl up inside another author’s vision of how time can be manipulated on one hand and how time is altered by those lives who walk outside of a traditional trajectory of a well-lived life. I also have been open to stories which deal with reincarnation ever since I first caught sight of The Reincarnation Library (which was a mail-order book club for hardback re-issues of classic stories that explored the theories behind it; as noted on a review by Nicole Evelina). Literature has the beautiful depth of scope to take us to new horizons and frontiers just past our peripheral understanding of life and how time runs concurrent to our own living histories.

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I’ve explored thought-provoking stories on Jorie Loves A Story under this vein of interest previously on my ruminative thoughts attached to the following stories:

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (see Review); The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (see Review); A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (see Review); The Last Gatekeeper by Katy Haye (see Review); Intangible (see Review) & Invincible (see Review) by C.A. Gray; To Live Forever: an Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins (see Review); Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri (see Review); Antiphony by Chris Katsaropoulos (see Review); Moonflower by EDC Johnson (see Review); The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson (see Review); The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay (see Review); Romancing the Soul by Sarah Tranter (see Review); A Stitch in Time by Amanda James (see Review); Blue Spirit: A Tipsy Fairy Tale by E. Chris Garrison (see Review); The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley by Susan Örnbratt (see Review); Wishful Thinking by Kami Wicoff (see Review); The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman (see Review) and the partial review of The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead!

I included a reading list for Magical Realism on my review of The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker – which also proves the point how I continuously remain open to finding the story-tellers who are creating fiction that goes above and beyond the traditional threading of how a story can be told whilst visually capturing our imagination to jettison into a theory of how everything can be altered by perception!

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Notation on Cover Art: I was sent the trade paperback edition by Picador, where I must say, I was more impressed than the predominately ‘yellow’ jacket of the other edition!? The reason I am thankful for this version in my hands is because the colours are muted which elude to ‘yesteryear’ and the nod towards the clock with symbols etched into the background appearing as a watermark whilst cross-overlaid with the shadows of Bryan and Linz simply make sense to me! It has a weathered appearance you would expect of a time travel romance but also, the illusion of a greater mystery that lends the suspenseful nature of how the story is told through Womack’s narrative.

Blog Book Tour | “The Memory Painter” by Gwendolyn WomackThe Memory Painter
Subtitle: A novel of Love & Reincarnation
by Gwendolyn Womack
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780425277720

Also by this author: The Fortune Teller, The Time Collector (Spotlight)

Genres: Genre-bender, Historical Romance, Historical Thriller Suspense, Historical-Fantasy, Magical Realism, Reincarnation Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fantasy, Thriller, Time Slip and/or Time Shift, Time Travel Fiction


Published by Picador

on 5th July, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

Published By: Picador (@PicadorUSA) via St. Martin’s Press
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema.

Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 12 July, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Alzheimer's Disease, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Art, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Boston, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Egypt, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Magical Realism, Modern Day, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Passionate Researcher, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Realistic Fiction, Reincarnation, Romantic Suspense, Science Fantasy, Star-Crossed Lovers, Time Travel, Time Travel Romance, Unrequited Eternal Love, Vulgarity in Literature, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour | “Enslaved to Saved: The Metaphor of Christ as our Master” by W. Reid Litchfield This is a #nonfiction #mustread for readers of #ChristFic, #INSPY, & #LDS! It reaches across hidden barriers and unites all of us together.

Posted Monday, 18 May, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Enslaved to Saved” direct from the publisher CFI (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On why I elected to read Enslaved to Saved:

The title of this book implored me outright to become interested in reading it as I have had a curiosity to uncover more about Christ (as a man as much as the Son of God) in regards to who He was whilst He lived on earth and how the legacy of His teachings left behind for us to find after He left. On a similar vein, Mum and I have wanted to dig inside the women of the Bible, to uncover more biographical bits about who they were and the lives they lived because too often we only get to know fragmented pieces about the men and women who lived centuries ago yet who have such a crucial part of our shared religious history. As far as the women go, I know we want to seek out Biblical Historical fiction as a gateway, but when I saw this non-fiction release about Christ, it was definitely a moment where I felt as if I had stumbled across a book I was meant to read ‘at this moment in time’.

– excerpt taken from my explanation on the top anchour of Litchfield’s Guest Post

Blog Book Tour | “Enslaved to Saved: The Metaphor of Christ as our Master” by W. Reid Litchfield This is a #nonfiction #mustread for readers of #ChristFic, #INSPY, & #LDS! It reaches across hidden barriers and unites all of us together.Enslaved to Saved: The Metaphor of Christ as our Master
by W. Reid Litchfield
Source: Direct from Publisher

Who is your Master: Sin or the SAVIOR?

This thought-provoking book examines the cultural and political background of slavery during the time of Christ and what it means to our modern-day commitment to the Lord.

Where our King James New Testament reads "servant of Christ", the original Greek translates to "slave of Christ." This nuance will change how you read the New Testament.

*Unlock the deeper meanings of the Savior's most beloved parables

*Discover how the early Saints viewed their relationship to Christ

*Explore the difference between servitude and slavery in several well-known verses

Reid Litchfield, a Harvard-trained endocrinologist and longtime gospel scholar, shows how you can become a slave to Christ and paradoxically free yourself from the captivity of sin and death.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Guest Post by W. Reid Litchfield

Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Published by CFI (imprint) Cedar Fort Inc

on 12th May, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 160

Published By: CFI (imprint) of Cedar Fort Inc (@CedarFortBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via:

#EnslavedToSaved, #ChristCentered, #BibleStudy & #ChristianNonFiction

About W. Reid Litchfield

Dr W. Reid Litchfield

W. Reid Litchfield is an endocrinologist from Henderson, Nevada. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University (B.S.) and University of Calgary (M.D.) and completed his endocrinology fellowship at Harvard Medical School. In addition to a number of scientific publications he has published medical history papers entitled On The Physical Death Of Jesus Christ and The Bittersweet Demise of Herod the Great. He is the recipient of numerous Top Doctor awards as well as professional awards for leadership in his community and medical society.

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Posted Monday, 18 May, 2015 by jorielov in 21st Century, Adoption, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biblical History, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Catholicism, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Christianity, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Good vs. Evil, History, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Judiasm, Lessons from Scripture, Modern Day, Mormonism, Non-Fiction, Passionate Researcher, Philosophy, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Religious History, Short Stories or Essays, Social Change, Sociological Behavior, Spirituality & Metaphysics, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Deep South, World Religions

*SFN* | Book Review: The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

Posted Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
[Book One of The Bright Empire series]

[Book Two: The Bone House]
[Book Three: The Spirit Well]
[Book Four: The Shadow Lamp]

Published By: Thomas Nelson, 2010
Page Count: 416

Borrowed Book By: My local library’s ILL (inter-library loan) service as they did not carry it in their catalogue. What is interesting though is that they have book three “The Spirit Well” instead!  Therefore, if I find that I enjoy reading this I will ILL books two and four! I was thankful that the request went through in time for me to read this book in conjunction with SFN!

What drew me to read this story:  Is the fact that the very premise of the book acknowledges the existence of fissures in time, which I found to be a riveting opening to a book, much less a full series! And, the fact that people could ‘walk through’ these individual time fissures and experience something unlike what we generally experience was a story I wanted to read! Made possible by a discovery of a sequence of straight lines known as ‘ley lines’, which in of themselves omit an electromagnetic current! If you have been following me along with my SFN posts, you will already know that this would be of key interest, as I happen to fancy stories that involve ‘time travel’ and have recently begun to become acquainted with “The Doctor” of “Doctor Who”! Its evoking the same sense I received from watching “The Adjustment Bureau” where reality is perceptional and can be altered with the opening of a single door OR at the flick of a switch you do not see by sight. The prospect of an ordinary person ‘stumbling across’ this altered state of time, who is summoned by a person of their past is an adventure I thought was well worth taking!

Inspired to Share: When I originally settled on reading this particular story, I couldn’t help but hit the ‘play button’ on the book trailer, which was listed in the upper right corner of the author’s website! I am ever so curious about book trailers, as I have been finding this year that instead of the regular fare of trailers, we are being happily delighted by seeing more ‘mini-film’ versions!! These sort of trailers not only have bang-on accuracy as far as giving the heart and context of the story to a potential reader, but if that reader (such as I) has a fancy for motion pictures, they become an engaging platform in which one’s mind can jump-dive into the story as though they were living through the character as they would in the seat of a darkened theater watching a first-run film! This next genesis of book trailers has captured me as being the ones that endear you long-term towards the book your about to pick up, as it gives you such a riveting visual aide to help you sink easier into the setting of the world just within reach of your fingertips! The wicked part is that they took the information on the inside cover flap and turnt it into the book trailer!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

“The Skin Map” by Stephen Lawhead, Bright Empires Series #1 book trailer

by Thomas Nelson featured on the ChristianBook channel

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The backdrop of science in The Skin Map:

As I dip into the opening chapters of The Skin Map, my mind is attempting to ferret out the knowledge that I had gleamed and gained through my prior readings of the quantum realms. The very same readings as I had outlined only hours prior in my Book Showcase focused on Time Travel! Who knew then, that all of that would become a bit necessary to read a book such as this? Or, at the very least to have a bit of a working knowledge of some of the theories that are being discussed? I feel as though it were but yesterday when I read Flatland!

I liked how Cosmio (the great-grandfather) was pointing out to his (great) grandson that those who walk across the ley lines cannot tamper with the power of their transport abilities – such as when Kit unabashedly felt that he could simply walk his girlfriend through the same alley and arrive in the exact same place he would be himself. It brings up the layers of complexity that time travel involves and how multi-layered our dimensional space truly is. It also brought back to me conversations I had whilst sitting in my high school library and contemplating the ‘layers’ of both time and reality itself as it pertained to the history in which our lives are lived. It was a dialogue of elementary quantum mechanics but I never forgot how excited my classmate was for speaking about a subject I felt he should pursue in University.

I find it instinctively distinct that Kit and Cosimo are traveling in time to alternative realities that are happening in places that they can recognise but they are not on the same ‘time-frame’ of where they originated or from whence they originally ‘came’. It’s a complex theory but the author, Lawhead has an excellent way of handling the science and getting the reader caught up in the story without feeling as though an upper level of science is required to understand the working theory of how the characters are able to travel!

A curious notation about the leys in the novel is when it’s mentioned that they are ‘time sensitive’. I found this intriguing as the premise of using the leys is not to walk into a ‘different time’ per se of your living history or the history of your time, but rather to step into a parallel alternative reality. IF then the leys are in tune with time itself it would stand to question then do all alternative realities coincide with our own time? And, if they do, how is that even possible? Whereas the opening of portals occur at sunrise or sunset, which I found even more curious as when I read the novel “The Golden Hour” by Maiya Williams she used this same theory as a basis of the time travel in her story. Is there concrete evidence floating in and around this premise? Hence the reason she called traveling at sunset as “the golden hour”, as an another example of a writer putting a ‘key’ to her story in her title!

Entering the Adventure one fissure of time in a nanosecond:

Before Kit can even understand ‘where’ he is going and ‘what’ he is meant to be helping his great-grandfather achieve, he has accidentally set off a chain of events that are digging him deeper into traveling the ley lines! I am enjoying the pace of the story, as much as I am enjoying how the story is playing out for the reader! Lawhead has included a few lovely distractions and villains for good measure (of course!), which mark in my mind that this is one of those stories you’re not quite sure what is going to ‘pop out at you’ at any given moment! Part of it reminds me of “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising“, as it has elemental familiarities for me!

As Kit proceeds to accept his great-grandfather’s beliefs in the ley lines, his first venture towards full acceptance was traveling back into the 17th Century to listen to a lecturer who ended up being Cosimo’s partner and a Quester: Sir Henry Fayth. Lawhead has a pure knack for bringing to life flamboyantly secure men of a certain age who are fully contained into their own personality as to evoke a bold presence right before your eyes! I wasn’t sure whom I admired more, his great-grandfather or Sir Henry! I had the feeling that Kit still felt out of step with all of it, the quest to recover the skin map (as the title is elusive to the adventure) and the fact he is now living counter-current to a living timeline he has always known.

Ordinary frustrations of Kit Livingstone:

I nearly cackled with humour whilst walking with Kit as he makes every vein attempt to reach his girlfriend Wilhelmina at a joint shopping rendezvous point! The way in which he would put it, it’s merely a task for switching tracks (for the London tube system), hailing down a bus, crossing through a (rather infamous) park, and heading up a road to greet his dear girlfriend! Yet. Life like art isn’t always a mere ‘walk in the park’! I was seriously having trouble containing myself, as although I had come off two rather emotional Doctor Who episodes (Turn Left & Journey’s End – clearly I am not watching this series in the proper order!) how could I not stifle a bubble of a laugh over every which way to Sunday his life is being affected by a comedy of errors!? Those are the particular and precise moments in my own life where I start to see a stitching of a pattern take hold inside my mind’s eye. Were the events that for me, in those singular moments, rather disastrous really as such? Or, were they universal signs of a serendipitous ripple of coincidence that was writ to happen if only for certain paths to cross at the right ‘moment in time’? Have you naught noticed the same in your own life? People and places you might never have become acquainted with if your life hadn’t altered its course even to the smallest degree to have you arrive at a place you never had been, and yet, a purpose was met that was not of your prior knowledge?

The interaction with his long-lost great-grandfather is purely classic as far as these meetings generally go, but what I liked about it which set it a part from most meetings such as these is the manner in which his great-grandfather was delivering the ‘news of his life’! I liked how his great-grandfather (of whom he was apparently named for as they share the same name! ‘Kit’ isn’t his proper first name, Cosimo is!) counter-balanced Kit’s cocky-headed responses by a calm, collected, and deeply humourous dictation of the facts! The insertion of British phrases and slang made it altogether priceless for me! As I oft am eager to read a full-on Brit novel replete with their own stylings of vernacular!

Review of The Skin Map:

A wanton wanderer simply known as “Kit” flounders around in an ill-attempt at sorting out his life and the path he would like to follow. He never expected to take an unexpected trip to an alternative reality parallel to his own time when his great-grandfather appeared out of nowhere. The swirling of thunder, rain, and storm was actually a gateway arch into traveling along the ley lines. This sets him on a course he is not even sure he belongs, whilst learning the history and technique of this sort of travel, his gravest concern is reconnecting with Wilhelmina, of whom was lost when he recklessly attempted to bring her with him.

Wilhelmina may not have believed the far-fetched excuse that her lackluster boyfriend Kit had given her as a plausible reason for missing her shopping excursion, but finding herself lost on a desolate road made her question if he was telling her the truth. The nearly forgotten language of her grandmother (German) came in handy when she was rescued by a German-speaking man (Englebert) on his way out of the country. Her journey began the moment she accepted his offer to take her with him. What I found most incredible is that her side of the story is leading her to finding her true self as a baker and as a businesswoman. Whereas I am not as sure if she would have had as much growth in her own time as she is having in the 17th Century! Prague is beautifully brought to life through her adventure of setting up a bakery with her rescuer!

At nearly the half-way junction point, Lawhead starts to cast a curious new reality upon the infamous landmarks in England that we are all most familiar with as to having a purpose other than what it appears to be. For such an instance, Stonehenge in this novel is referenced as being a portal – a proper hub for extracting oneself through time into another dimension separate from our own. Now, I am not sure the validity of this claim, but I do know that there is more to Stonehenge than meets the eye! And, surely more than claiming that it’s a gigantic telescope! What makes the science plausible in the story is how close the quantum sciences are coming to terms with everyday reality.

Wilhelmina’s spunky spirit shines brightly when she’s describing to Englebert how to get the bakery back online by incorporating coffee! The hilarity of the situation is that she’s a woman from the 20th century attempting to explain this to a man of the 17th! And, his confusion reigns supreme! Whilst Englebert embarked on a sojourn quest to get her blasted beans, he made a discovery on the docks that could change everything! Like most men who encounter adversity, his spirit only started to brighten once he saw a turning of the tide! He was still on the fence about her plan to turn the bakery into a profit when she introduced him to the bitter coffee, of which he felt was atrocious! She calmly replied to his vexation that it’s a triumph as they can serve sweets to compliment the bitter! Spoken like a true woman!

 [This post is in-progress! Drop back to see the concluding thoughts! Alas! I need to re-ILL! Oy!]

This book review is brought to you by:

Sci-Fi November | Hosted by Rinn Reads

{SOURCES: Sci-Fi November Badge provided by Rinn Reads for participants to advert the month long event and to encourage people to follow along with those of us who are contributing! Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The book trailer by Thomas Nelson via Christianbook.com had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Ley Line – (en.wikipedia.org)

Alfred Watkins – (en.wikipedia.org)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 by jorielov in Alternative Reality, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Book Trailer, Philosophy, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction, SFN Bingo, Time Travel, Treasure Hunt