Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.
Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.
I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.
As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.
Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.
This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.
Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.
Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.
Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?
Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder
About Rachel Nightingale
Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.
Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.
The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.
Acquired Book By: I have remained in contact with the author through the years as I truly love reading her stories and hearing about her current projects. This particular story has a long journey towards publication and in truth, I haven’t read an installment of this series in five years (since 2016). I have waited on pins and needles to await the fate of Skye and all the characters I came to know in the series – when Ms Chris approached me about the final chapter of the trilogy was being published last year (2020) I was overjoyed as it felt like such a good time to read it. However, I hadn’t foreseen how difficult May & September would be for my chronic migraines – whilst I also found myself pulling out of reading more than I felt attached to it throughout 2020 as a whole.
I decided to push forward my review for this final novel until Wyrd And Wonder, May 2021 as I wanted to share my thoughts with the wider community of #WyrdAndWonder especially for those who might not have seen my previous reviews of her stories or participated in @SatBookChat’s conversation with her as well during #SciFiMonth, 2020.
I received a complimentary copy of “Mean Spirit” direct from the author E. Chris Garrison in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I knew I wanted to finish my readings for #WyrdAndWonder with a few select reads which would occupy my final joys of the event this Year 4. Hence why I held off reading “Mean Spirit”, “Esme’s Gift” & “Trans Witch” as I wanted my final #weekendreads for Wyrd and Wonder to be consumed by stories I knew I wouldn’t be able to put down. I had no idea at the time when I purchased “Trans Witch” it was within the Skye-Blue-universe – somehow that felt fittingly brilliant to me. And, in regards to “Esme’s Gift” – you might want to visit my review for “Esme’s Wish” to see why I am enraptured with that series as much as I am with this one.
I had to ‘let go’ of some of the stories I had planned to read this month – as I simply ran out of the hours whilst I was able to dodge a few migraines which thankfully didn’t fully take root to derail my efforts, I still took ill for a few days this last week of May to where only rest & copious amounts of herbal tea was able to reset me. Those other stories will be coming to Jorie Loves A Story during different events from June-November – however, as this is the final weekend for Wyrd And Wonder – I simply want to say how wicked happy I am to have been blessed to read the stories I could and to spend time with writers who are elevating our joys as we adventure through the wonderment & enchanting niches of genre throughout Fantasy. It is a credit to each of them for giving us a chance to see their own visions for their worlds & to entreat into the footsteps of their characters,… wherein our heart continues to expand with the experiences we can never forget taking with them.
Today, I embarked on saying ‘goodbye’ to a series I’ve felt has been a part of my journey as a book blogger only to remind myself that its never quite a final ‘goodbye’ when it comes to stories,… they are simply awaiting the next moment we re-open the door and walk through their worlds. Here’s to each of us adventuring & discovering & celebrating everything we’ve found this fourth year of Wyrd And Wonder.
On my connection to Ms Chris (aka E. Chris Garrison):
My path first crossed with Ms Chris through a podcast sponsored by an Indie Speculative Fiction publisher which led me to hosting blog tours which celebrated her stories. Since our first encounter with each other, we’ve developed a friendship I am blessed to have and I appreciate getting to know a bit more about an author whose not only developing a unique style in the world of Fantasy but is receptive to the thoughts readers have as they gain impression by reading the stories themselves.
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Chris through our respective blogs, the twitterverse, the podcast world, and privately. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. For more information, I disclosed a bit more on my first 10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts (read No.7!).
Why I love reading the Tipsy Fairy Tales:
One of the best bits of all though were the classic ways in which the Zombies were a key part of the story and how un-Zombie-like they were as it wasn’t so much of a story of the undead but rather a story of manipulation, altered states of awareness and the transitional pursuits of someone whose bent on power and control but hasn’t the proper sense to realise how ill-fated that would make his destiny. Of all the stories I could have read involving Zombies, I am so wicked thankful it was one by Ms Chris!
The tipsy side of Skye’s life soon became a double-edged sword we all knew could turn on her as soon as she let her guard down to notice the implications of leading a life that was quite out of control by most people’s standards. There were consequences she was not prepared for even if she presumed they were possible, yet through it all, she kept moving forward, kept fighting and willing herself to see the endgame was worth the heartaches along the way. This story is paramount to her evolving story-line where she has to make better choices for her future whilst realising that sometimes the hasty choices made on the fly might not be the best advantage in the long-term especially if you burn more bridges than you can handle all at once. Relationships are built on trust and this is one cardinal flaw on Skye’s behalf – she never realised how much trust she had with those she needed most until the day arrived where her restless urgency to ‘do something’ good with her paratalents took away the one thing that anchoured her most in life. To see where she goes from here is going to be interesting as in many regards, she has to rebuild the way in which she manages her impulses whilst becoming the better half of whom she is meant to be.
There were quiet moments of repose to reflect on Skye’s history and on Phil’s where other characters that cross between Ms Chris and Mr Sullivan’s story arcs come into centre play and knowledge. They have a unique working relationship where they ‘borrow’ characters and each have their own unique spin on how those characters are presented. I spoke about this on my review for Blue Spirit in case you’d like a refresher. Ms Chris is one of those authors who has such a clarity about her writerly voice, she can insert ‘background’ on her characters and previous stories (or Mr Sullivan’s) without it sounding like the ‘insert previous information here’ variety of narrative. I applaud that, as sometimes I notice authors overwork the obvious or take you out of the current story to opt to fill in those who read series out of order.
I consider this series pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to this side of Skye’s life is told organically and shifts between being humourous and serious, depending on the nature of the exchange or the situation at hand. This is positive I think as it has a very realistic vibe attached to it. Skye is not afraid to speak her mind or to live her authentic truth, even if others are not as prepared to accept her on her terms, she still lives her life owning the truth she has within her and that’s something to applaud. She has her faults (who doesn’t?) but her strengths are her willingness to take-on challenges head-on and remain faithful to those she cares about whilst sorting out mysteries of the unexplained.
This is definitely an author to bookmark if your seeking #diverselit and stories of Equality where all characters are realistically written and openly honest about expressing their thoughts, views and feelings.
What was supposed to be a fun, exciting convention weekend has turned terribly tragic. All Skye MacLeod had to do was look pretty in a fantasy costume and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Instead, she got cocky and took matters into her own hands. Death and destruction followed. Now Skye's burying another friend, she's broken trusts, and she isn't sure how to make things right again.
Skye's trying her best. She's quit drinking (giving up her powers in the process) and she's trying to make up for her reckless behavior and stay out of trouble, but something big is happening among the fairy Lords and Ladies of the Circle City. All the major players warn Skye to stay away. So why does she find herself swept up in the middle of things anyway? How will she regain her honor and the trust of the people around her when every choice before her seems wrong?
The exciting conclusion to the Tipsy Fairy Tales Trilogy.
Acquired Audiobook By:I started to listen to audiobooks in  as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Being A Witch” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with Sara Pascoe on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What inspired me to listen to this audiobook:
I am on the lookout for pro-positive stories about foster care & adoption, as I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum. I’ll be adopting from (domestic) foster care here in the United States – which is important to mention, as this audiobook highlights the unique differences between the *UK!* and the *US!* foster and adoptive situations children & youth are facing today. A topic I discussed openly with the author, Sara Pascoe earlier on the tour.
Being involved on this blog tour has re-opened my eyes to the various differences in adoption & foster care services between countries; as I knew a few of those differences previously but not the insight I’ve gained directly by this blog tour. I also loved being able to see how the world within “Being A Witch” was developed and what readers can expect next within the series as this is only the first installment. I was quite thankful Ms Pascoe was open & welcoming to discuss the key components of not just her story but of the foster/adoptive services between both our countries.
I look forward to seeing the next chapters of this series and hoping that the rest of the installments will also be narrated by Fiona Hardingham.
After a life of hurt and disappointment, Raya, the spiky-haired, Doc Marten-wearing 14-year-old decides it's time to strike out on her own. She leaves the boring English village and what she's determined will be her last foster placement for the excitement of London. But it turns out she's a witch, with the annoying habit of time-traveling - by accident. And a sarcastic witch's cat Oscar tags along for the ride. Why would she fling herself into the midst of the Essex Witch Trials in 1645 England?
After being arrested by one of history's most notorious witch hunters, her social worker and witch mentor Bryony goes back to try to save them from the gallows. But returning to present day London remains out of reach when they find themselves in Istanbul in the year 1645. There, life is more amazing than she ever dreamed.
Sara Pascoe comes to writing after a career in psychology, where she had many wonderful experiences, from the chimp house to the halls of Congress, with neuroscience research in between. Originally from the United States, she moved to Great Britain in 2004. She lives in Bournemouth, on the southern coast of England where they run a B&B for English language students.
Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Dream of the Navigator” blog tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media and whilst I haven’t read all of Mr Zimmer’s collective works, I did previously enjoy his anthology collection of shorts out of one of his universe’s of interest: Ave. I have oft contemplated whether or not I could find a niche of interest in Dystopian stories and this one felt uniquely different and I decided to give it a go! This is interesting because the first time I read one of his stories I was a 1st Year Book Blogger and as I am celebrating my 5th Blog Birthday (this August), I am reading my second story of Zimmer’s.
I received a complimentary copy of “Dream of the Navigator” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
A bit of a reflective look at Jorie’s views on Dystopian Lit:
I must confess, I have been avoiding reading books that fall under this sub-heading across all genres for such a long time because I still have issues with certain books I read whilst in school! Writers like Steinbeck and Orwell did not paint my future well for appreciating Dystopian stories! Nor did I feel very inclined to read them on my own inclination due to the heavy amount of violence and dark undertones that seemed to be all the rage inside the stories that were being produced for the genre overall. Which is why I decided to undertake this challenge (originally) during SFN (Sci-Fi November aka #RRSciFiMonth). To approach the genre as a skeptic, but perhaps emerge after a month of readings as an appreciator?
This is how I began an essay about why I’ve been a reluctant reader of Dystopian Lit for the entirety of my reading life! I had meant to pull the stories off the mini-list of #mustreads I had pooled together that particular year – though as luck would have had it, something derailed my efforts and I hadn’t quite accomplished what I had set out to do! This was my 1st year as a Book Blogger and my first foray as a participant into the now infamous phenomenon knowing as Sci-Fi Month and/or Sci Fi November which was happily founded by Rinn of Rinn Reads (she’s since moved on to co-blogging).
A note on ‘dystopian’ literature:
Being that I am not as well versed in this particular genre, my understanding of its place in literature and the key components that make it vital to be read, will evolve as I seek out more titles to read. However, I started to expound on what I am reading through The Boxcar Baby, and have drawn one curious conclusion: dystopian stories have the tendency to bring out the warts of our exterior worlds and environments, and seek to convey a critical thought or forewarning that would then, either indirectly or directly shift the perspective of those who can bring about the most change in our own lives. Its a method of story-telling to bring to the readers’ attention certain aspects of modern life that are effectively in need of change OR give a cautionary tale of ‘what could be’ if humans do not tread lightly on a path that could lead them to a future of ill-regret. Again, I could be completely mistaken, but this is a newcomer’s perspective of what the genre is seeking to reveal and assert. To put it another way, one must endeavour to walk through a desolate and despairing dystopia in order to emerge into a utopia of balanced proportion.
→ The Path (Tag series, Book One) by Peter Riva (DNF)
→ Watcher (Watcher series, Book One) by AJ Eversley*
→ Carbon (Watcher series, Book Two) by AJ Eversley (DNF)
*NOTE: Eversley’s series in  was my ill-fated attempt to re-address a curiosity of mine about Dystopian Lit and to see if I could finally find a singular author who could not only entice me into their world-building but give me the kind of Dystopian story I was seeking.
As you can see, Zimmer’s Dream of the Navigator is my eighth attempt at reading Dystopian narratives over the score of the five years I’ve been a book blogger! I started reading this particular one *after!* my fifth blog’s birthday (6th of August, 2018) – marking it officially the one story I felt in five years which would become the ‘exception to the rule’ and the kind of Dystopian story I’ve been seeking all these years whilst wandering round a genre which has failed to garnish my full heart & appreciation!
There have been keen moments of where I’ve tucked inside a writer’s vision for their world-building which has befit what I felt would resound well as a ‘Dystopian Futuristic impression’ of where any particular world could be cast afield to such a such a time in ‘the future’ of where certain attributes of its society led it down a particular path and thereby led to a certain outcome. You can see this in the motion pictures “Wall-E” (one of the best representations of a society that is too ‘connected’ to see the truth in the pudding round them!) and “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” (where the sole pursuit of ‘life’ is found in a decidedly ‘altered’ future). Ironically, finding those films seemed to be an easier pursuit than finding a writer who knew how to write a Dystopian world which not only had the chops to hold my attention but to write a sophisticated narrative which has teeth to stand out from the pack!
And, then there was that particular infamous (in my mind) #SciFiExperience where I was wicked excited about reading Kate Elliott’s Icepunk series (Spiritwalker) whilst contemplating her ‘Court of Fives’ novel. I am still curious about these stories – I had to table my goals that year as well. There have been a lot of ups/downs over the years in my reading life & endeavours but occasionally when the stars aligned, I was able to read a few Dystopians despite the angst of having to postpone the other reads I was most curious to explore!
I drew together further insights into why I have this love/hate relationship with Dystopian Lit when I tried to settle into the first installment of the Blue series by Mr Hancock.
I think the main issue I find with Dystopian Lit is the fact everything is a bit cock-eyed; meaning, where you can observe what is wrong it isn’t enough to evoke change; you have to prove change needs to happen and oft-times that means putting your own life at risk. There is a clear wave of bullying between the different caste systems in the story, and the boy who caused Bruno to become painted is the classic bully whose connections protect him yet he is allowed to manipulate events without consequences. Bruno starts to unravell the underpinning principles of his world, whilst noting not everything on the Blue side is effectively the same elsewhere. For the Greens and those whose fire are reflective of blended hues (which points to the fact they ‘painted’ or blended their fire with someone else; either by force or compliant) getting through their lives is not quite the same as what Bruno had whilst he was a purebred Blue. The Blues are more elite in this world, as they are given opportunities the others are not privy to receiving themselves; even if by opportunity they are controlled. There is an imbalance between individual freedoms and the internal workings of the government who seek to control every aspect of their choices and how they act on their free will can determine their fates.
It wasn’t the writing that bothered me it was the structure of the story itself and how powerless everyone in Telesphore City truly were as perception on events trumped the truth of them; reducing any ability for justice. As I turnt around in my mind everything I had read up until this point, I realised why I struggle so much with Dystopian Lit and why I have been the last to admit it simply might not be for me at all. Its the disparity of it all. The overwhelming anguish of having the world painted black (here this refers to an intense thickening of darkness not a coloured variant of a word) to the brink where the light has barely any wick to shine. This is what bothers me a bit about Young Adult novels in general, but in regards specifically to Dystopian, I think I struggle with letting go of my optimistic spirit whilst I am reading them.
I love conflict and adversity in the books I am reading, but when it comes to Dystopian story-lines, I find myself uncomfortably displaced and a quickening sense of how fast everything can change. It is a bit like trying to sort out where you’ve gone wrong with a map written in a language you do not speak. I have read two Dystopian novels now, wells, technically I read a portion of this one and I struggled to finish the other one (The Boxcar Baby), giving me pause for realising sometimes what your curious about isn’t always worth uncovering. I just cannot give my heart to Dystopian Lit no matter how much I try to think there is a writer or a story within these worlds that will appeal to me.
Hancock makes interesting choices to steer the reader away from using strong language as a method of expressing what is being felt during the height of intense emotional moments; yet he cleverly uses colour as a way to not only explain the world but how colour itself can express the darkest shades of emotion. He makes clear definitions between what is considered right, wrong, and questionable (the in-between) yet personally I struggle to tuck inside a story whose undercurrent of tone is backlit with such heaviness; which is becoming the way I can express Dystopian story-lines. The uneasiness quickened a bit whilst seeing how callous some of the characters were towards each other and how the guards in the story were equally so towards everyone.
Hancock I believe has given a strong presence for YA Dystopian Lit for those who understand how these worlds are underlit and written as a whole. For an outside perspective, I didn’t find it a good fit for me personally but those other book bloggers I am thinking of tonight (including the girls of “Oh the Books” who co-hosted Sci Fi November this year!), I think they might tuck inside this and enjoy what he gave to the genre. For me, I checked out when a boy was killed simply for helping his best friend get out of a locked down campus — the manner in which he was killed just wrecked me on a lot of levels and the unnecessary force was just too disturbing. In light of recent current events, I respect a need to show different points of view and a clarity of conscience but in the end, the novel just broke my heart once too many times.
Where Hancock erred in keeping me rooted in his vision of his Dystopian world, Zimmer has excelled. The key differences of course is purpose & intent – there is an undertone which remains firmly oblique and darkening in Hancock’s world whereas there is a presence of Light & Hopefulness in Zimmer’s.
Moreso, I simply enjoyed the back-stories and the background of Zimmer’s Faraway Saga moreso than Hancock’s as to me, the world in which Hancock created would let down a lot of readers for how desolate it truly became. You never felt you could gain traction of change inside his world – everything was operating against rebellion and personal freedoms. Even the powers he conceived were at first uniquely interesting to observe but then, I felt he worked against that power and kept altering the potential outcome to something rather more nefarious than I was willing to see through.
A lot of the issues I had in ‘An Uncommon Blue’ were never observed in ‘Dream of the Navigator’ in fact, in many ways – I felt Zimmer’s series was built on a stronger foundation. He had a stronger vision for his world to where you never felt the world itself was ‘changing against it’s type’. He projected their motivations clearly and even the components of the structure and order of the world doesn’t alter from it’s own non-ethical protocols; they are what they are – which is beneficial to feeling you can trust Zimmer’s world of being exactly as it represents itself without a wench in the wheel throwing you out of its dimension.
Similar to my readings on behalf of Antiphony, Riva has begun his on discourse on society, technology, religion and our place inside the world itself – how we view our living reality and how our living reality is altered by what is never completely in our control. He has written a challenging text because like the other author, he wants you to ponder the deeper meanings and take the Tag series to an awareness of recognising what could be unnoticed right before our eyes. The only key difference between the two, is Antiphony was a pursuit to understand a higher plane of existence outside of our limited sensory understanding of ‘reality’ which broached spirituality and other ideals of thought. Within the Tag series, Riva has augmented a society removed from any religious or spiritual pursuits, as the controlling rule is specifically geared towards putting humanity through a vise and only allowing humans to live a life deemed beneficial to the whole rather than the limited few.
In other words, nothing about living is determined by the individual but is rather systematically fused to an ordering rule (i.e. the government in this case; of which I can only presume is similar to The Hunger Games world based on the notes my friends have given me on it’s behalf). I think it’s safe to say my preference is always to have a level of spirituality kept inside a world – even if the world is futuristic, I’m not a particular fan of dissolving all thoughts and beliefs of a higher power; hence why I never read Phillip Pullman’s series beginning with The Golden Compass.
Spirituality and Metaphysics are aptly explored in Zimmer’s Faraway Saga but rather than removing the precepts of religious thought & belief completely – to where it no longer has a place of origin or purpose, Zimmer found a way to ask intellectually stimulating questions of his characters – to where he desires them to recapture their own free will of mind & thought – to let them make the choices on behalf of what they believe or don’t believe without those choices being made for them.
He also approaches the context of this section of his world with an open mind – he let’s his characters walk a muddled path towards self-enlightenment due to how their world has repressed a lot of knowledge & information for the sake of population control and a future disconnected from personal growth. They want their citizens to remain in stasis intellectually as that would allow them to rule over them without conflict or disagreement.
Of the two, I prefer the approach Zimmer took – as it allows the door to remain open – for his world, his characters and the reader who is approaching his Dystopian viewpoint(s).
One thing I appreciate most about how Eversley has approached writing this novel is how she fuses bits and bobbles of what you can conceptionalise against what could be a living reality not too far forward into the future. It’s a unique balance – to insert readers into a world with a Dystopian bent and a world which brings up hard philosophical questions about humanity, the pursuit of living authentically and the greater purpose behind life itself or even the art of survival if things go dangerously wrong.
Eversley has tapped into a niche of Dystopian where you can play with the genre – you can add not only depth of the world through the layers in which we entreat inside it’s boundaries but by how this world is stitched together – from the origins of their beliefs (hinted at) to the constructs of how they believe their rights as sentient beings should be maintained (similar to us) whilst enlarging the scope to have a dual presence of foe against foe – each fighting for the right to be the champion and each not honestly seeing how they could bridge their differences (if that’s even a plausible possibility) as war takes it’s toll. It’s not just the losses of life – it’s the wear and tear on the psyche and on morale of those who are fighting everyday to live one more day towards the ‘end goal’. For the Carbons and the Watchers, they are each moving towards a collision of sorts – at least, from what I can gather – if this debut is the introduction into the Watchers as a collective, than the second novel in the series surely picks up the momentum begun here through the point-of-view of the Carbons; to give a buoyancy between good and evil or what is perceived as good vs evil. It could all be an experiment gone wrong – or rather, an experiment which outgrew it’s purpose and turnt into something else completely.
If anything, there is so much your thinking about – trying to root out Eversley’s motivating inspiration and uncovering what is driving the story forward whilst trying to respect the world and pull back it’s layers to see what is really being set for you to see.
You might be curious why I decided to take you back down this particular readerly rabbit hole – of why I felt it necessary to re-visit the past Dystopian Reads in order to better augment my reasons for preferring Zimmer’s vision for his own. The reason, dear hearts, is quite simple – if you didn’t fully understand where I had traversed in the past – through these worlds the prior seven story-tellers had crafted for me to find, you might not fully understand how hard it has been to seek out writers’ who are crafting the kinds of Dystopian stories I am seeking.
For the most part, there have been positives and negatives across the board – hence, why I chose to add the quotations and to re-empathsis what worked for me and what did not ahead of revealling my ruminative thoughts on behalf of ‘Dream of the Navigator’ which at first glimpse brought back memories of ‘Flight of the Navigator’ (a motion picture) – a personal favourite of my childhood. I am unsure if the title has any cogitation of reference to the film, however, it had one for me.
Despite being a particularly particular reader of specific genres and thematics of literature – I remain optimistic I can find a niche of interest even in the most unapproachable literary arenas I find rather arduous to step inside. This is why I’ve continuously tried to read different Dystopian works of literature – finding a few qualms overall (four DNFs out of eight is telling in its own right!) and yet, I haven’t reached the plateau of lost hope!
I also want to share – I reverted back to my days of being able to read ‘chapter samplers’ to decide it ‘Dream of the Navigator’ would be a good ‘fit’ for me – those were the days where I could read a whole chapter digitally ahead of sourcing a print copy to read in full – back before my clustering chronic migraines were not occupying so many dear hours of my life and wrecking a lot of readerly hours off the clock as well. Prior to requesting a place on this tour, I happily found a sampler for this novel wherein despite the limitations I have nowadays with digital samplers, I gleamed enough to ‘wish to turn the pages!’ and find out what was going to happen next!
This isn’t the reaction I was expecting – I thought it would take me a bit longer than mere paragraphs to feel attached to the story-line – after all, this was a *Dystopian world!* – though, I admit, my readings of Julie E. Czerneda’s #TheClanChronicles has opened my eyes to worlds on shaky ground and where disparity can threaten to overrule.
Of all the stories I read in the past within this genre – ‘Watcher’ was the closest I felt towards finding a writer who could write a Dystopian world in a manner of approach I could appreciate. There were issues of course after I read ‘Watcher’ – as the series had to go on without me as a reader, as there were key choices I felt which worked against the plotting established in the first book – but this time round – I felt much more confident about the Faraway Saga than I had with Watcher – and that simply boils down to individual choices on behalf of the story-crafters who gave them to us.
On my connection to Stephen Zimmer:
Over the past five years, Mr Zimmer has given me a lot of opportunities to engage with Speculative Lit authors – both through my readings of their stories (by the blog tours he’s hosted via Tomorrow Comes Media or through Seventh Star Press directly) and by letting me visit the radio frequencies by guest appearances on the Star Chamber Show (a blogtalkradio podcast). In Autumn of  Zimmer was one of the first publicity and blog touring companies to give me a chance at being a ‘tour hostess’ and I am quite grateful he added me to his Blogger Team! I have spent 5 years appreciating the journey into Speculative Fiction – deepening my understanding of the genre and of sourcing out the writers who are writing the stories I love to be reading!
I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Mr Zimmer through the twitterverse or whilst I host for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press and/or privately as well. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.
Notation on Cover Art Design: As soon as I saw the cover art for this novel – the genre it resides started to shift in front of my eyes! I loved how much ‘light vs dark’ is playing in the design – how the splintered and mirrored images are playing off each other – whilst hinting towards ‘more’ – almost of a pinnacle to reach vs where the state of things currently lie. Even the rainbow (the symbol of hope) was aptly placed and the lush world ‘above’ counterbalances the darker shades of a technate driven world. I was beyond impressed!! I have long held the cover artists with Seventh Star Press in high esteem and this is another one which left me in ‘awe’ admiring it! Of course, the premise and the chapter sampler worked together to tempt me to read the chapters behind this art – but for the sake of art and illustration, this cover is wickedly impressive!!
Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments.
Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine.
For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence.
A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.
What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience.
Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga!
Converse on Twitter: #FarawaySaga, #DreamOfTheNavigator & #7thStar
What I previously loved about Stephen Zimmer’s style:
You get the firm sense that Zimmer is a voracious reader who dips into a bit of everything that yields to his personal curiosity and allows his mind to wander through the gate of his imagination to deposit into a reader’s hands a wholly encased world whose dimensions are ever expanding into larger scales of tales yet to be told! Except for the few shorts, where I think he opted instead for traditional heroic bloodshed story-telling! This might draw a close eye towards the fact he appreciates the horror genre, and bits of that seep into this side of his fantasy worlds. It’s his passion for research that I applaud first and foremost, as not every writer goes to the length as he does and I always celebrate a writer I find who carries out research on this level! Secondly, he endeavours you to amplify his words into motion by the words he uses to provoke a visual response, in which backs up something he said in an interview I heard of his (whilst researching which questions I wanted to ask him in my own interview!) where he acclaimed his novels are set to embody a motion picture medium rather than the printed world of the book! This is a claim he rightly deserves to make!
He is one of the writers that I would genuinely be delighted to seek out (if it had not been for Tomorrow Comes Media!), as he parlays his fervent passion for research by interspersing what he uncovers into the tapestry by which Ave is threaded against! It’s a world that encompasses as many distinctively unique cultures, traditions, spirituality’s, and languages as our own living counterpart, and yet, it has something to give back to us as well!
The care he takes to diminish the force of the violence inside by counter-balancing it with a life lesson is absolute genius, because your not as apt to focus on the brief encounters of evil, but rather, on the benefits of what each short attempts to draw out of the character he’s chosen to hone in on instead! These characters, I perceive to be secondary ones in the larger stories (novels), yet, they have a specific life-path in Ave that cross-sects with the intervening entities or events that bring about the most metamorphose of growth! You can use me as a barometer in knowing that if I can handle these stories, you can as well! I have an intolerance for violence, but I cherish the soulful stories such as these that grant the reader a ruminative conclusion of what they’ve read!
Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.