Acquired Book By: Originally, I received this novel “The Living Waters” via a blog tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour which is now a closed blog touring company as they left our bookish community at the conclusion of 2021. This author and duology was my last chance to host for them and it was a pleasure of joy discovering stories, authors and worlds within their catalogue of blog tours. Let me share a bit of the backstory about how I found them and when they entered my bookish life:
During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour was their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature (whether they were independently published, self-published or sought hybrid publishing options) and their ability to have found authors who were telling stories in Fantasy which intrigued me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which was why I felt blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I sought out a book to consider for review, I actively enjoyed hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour were dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs.
Thereby, I received a complimentary copy of “The Living Waters” direct from the author Dan Fitzgerald in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
You won’t be surprised I’ve decided to join my first #SelfPubFanMonth this September, if you’ve been following along with my #WWWWeds posts! As I’ve announced my participation this past week. As I am re-approaching how I read and blog this Autumn, you’ll see that I’m taking the lighter load approach each week – whilst being mindful that if I cannot get to all the stories I want to be reading, just making progress into the stories is my new normal right now.
However, I need to clarify that this particular duology and release by Mr Fitzgerald is NOT a work of self-publication. Usually, I am the one to verify those kinds of details and this particular week, I thought I had double-checked myself before I wrote my #WWWeds post — however, to err is human as the saying goes and I’ve already amended my #WWWeds post to reflect the error as well as apologising to the author directly for mentioning this was self-published when in effect it wasn’t – as it was published via Shadow Spark Publishing.
I can announce other works which will be published by Fitzgerald will be self-published which made me feel a bit better as I moved into re-reading this story during #SelfPubFanMonth as you could consider this highlighting of what is coming next from him as a writer and as a published author.
I knew I wanted to re-connect to “The Living Waters” and this month felt like the right timing to do that as it is a duology which I first learnt about whilst hosting for Storytellers on Tour. I’ve been celebrating Indies & Self-Published authors since I first started book blogging in  as nearly all my most beloved reads in #SpecFic are from those two categories of writers. Continuing to find new ways to send out a signal flare of joy on their behalf is something I am always happy to root out! Thereby, as I try to read as much as I can during #WyrdAndWonder (annually in May) and by extension during #SpooktasticReads (annually in October) — it is now with a bit of joy to finally join the community of Self Pub Fantasy Month which will be seen in other posts which populate onto my blog this September. And, no, I haven’t forgotten about #Mythothon and hope to bring some Mythological stories into my readerly queue as well.
After making my faux pas in claiming this duology was self-published, I decided to feature it during a showcasing of reviews during a newly designated heading of #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday wherein I will be sharing fantastical reads betwixt and between @WyrdAndWonder. It will give me a chance to read more Fantasy each year and during the months I find myself particularly drawn into a story of Fantasy outside of the month of May, I can celebrate finding it whilst helping new Fantasy nerds to find out about the event! Let’s all continue to #EnterTheFantastic, together.
Before I share my fuller ruminations – these were the thoughts I had whilst I concluded my previewing of the novel during the original blog tour in (2021):
It will be interesting to see what becomes of their time together – what they discover about themselves as individuals but also what personal growth is meant to be undertaken as well. I had a feeling that despite the fact they were both put together on this journey, they each had a different path to follow afterwards or at least, perhaps they both had a different destiny to put it that way instead!? I wasn’t entirely convinced they were meant to be together in the traditional sense because I felt this was one journey which would encourage self-awakening discoveries. And, of course the artwork eludes to another conclusion altogether, too!
When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease. But when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water, even their seasoned guides get rattled.
The mystery of the swirls lures them on to seek the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.
The Living Waters is a sword-free fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia.
An aging alchemist seeks the key to the Universal Tincture said to unlock the Thousand Worlds of the mind, but she never expected to solve the riddle of her hermetic heart.
A meditation acolyte travels the mystical social media known as the Caravan and finds that the Thousand Worlds lie just below the surface, if she can only learn to see the space between the stars.
This steamy romantic fantasy explores the confluence of the physical and the metaphysical through the commingling of bodies and minds.
NOTE: It is independent from the Maer Cycle trilogy, but there are a few points of contact, and both are part of a planned larger universe called the Copper Circle, which will include a trilogy called the Time Before, set 2,000 years before the Maer Cycle. Found this sidenote about the duology from the author’s website and felt it was relevant to share in case others are keen on reading serial fiction with the foreknowledge of how different duologies, trilogies and universes in an author’s collective works interconnect.
Converse via: #Fantasy, #SpeculativeFiction and #FantasyRomance
as well as #WeirdWaterConfluence & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads
About Dan Fitzgerald
Dan Fitzgerald is the fantasy author of the Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven low-magic fantasy) and the upcoming Weirdwater Confluence duology (sword-free fantasy with unusual love stories). The Living Waters comes out October 15, 2021 and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds arrives January 15, 2022, both from Shadow Spark Publishing.
He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When not writing he might be found doing yoga, gardening, cooking, or listening to French music.
Acquired Book By: I stumbled across a reviewer request on Twitter in the middle of #WyrdAndWonder which intrigued me because it was for a novel which had a very bewitching premise! The lead character had lost the ability to speak, and she was on a Quest to find her voice! I had a few concerns in regards to the content of the novel which I discussed with the author prior to accepting the novel for review consideration. Plus, given that our 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder was already underway, I did have concerns about being able to read it in time before our event concluded. The book took a bit longer to reach me but I was overjoyed once it did arrive as there was something uniquely different about the story and I was hoping that it wasn’t too Dark for me to enjoy reading.
I received a complimentary copy of “Speechless in Achten Tan” from the author Debbie Iancu-Haddad in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
Sometimes stories have a way of FINDING YOU rather than the other way round. When I asked the author directly about content warnings she mentioned to me about ‘fade to black’ romantic encounters and a limited number of explicit words as there was a replacement stronger word given as this is a Fantasy novel. Although one universally known word does make an appearance ever so briefly which I was grateful to hear about as well. Being this is a Desert Fantasy novel with a strong empathsis on Weird Fantasy aesthetics, I had a feeling I would enjoy being inside this world quite well! I wasn’t sure of course about how dark the world might evolve as I knew Mila was going to go on a Quest as all cavern witches must do at some point if they cannot ascend to the next stage of their development but one thing was for certain: I knew the visceral imagery and the enveloping of the world-building would be wholly new and original to discover as I do not spend a lot of time reading these kinds of Fantasy. Although, at some point I need to finish reading Empire of Sand.
I am grateful I was able to connect with the author via Twitter and include this reading with my stack of novels and stories this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! And, perhaps by our sixth year I’ll have more joys of reading more stories in Achten Tan as I am dearly curious about the anthology Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone) as much as I am eager for the sequel, too. It would be interesting to see what aspects of the world are explored in the anthology and of course, how that parlays into the series now being written. As the anthology was writ by different writers (all of whom would have different POVs) it would give an interestingly impression about Achten Tan and of course, a lot of curious possibilities of where Iancu-Haddad might take the series itself.
This is another example of why I lament about the blessings of being a socially bookish reader right now in today’s world because readers and writers can find each other in social settings which allow the reader to find stories they might have missed otherwise. I have long been a champion of Indie Publishers and Press as well as Self-Published or Hybrid authors — finding Skull Gate Media through reading this novel was an added bonus whilst continuing to seek out the Indie Fantasy section of a genre I love made my heart feel wickedly happy this Wyrd And Wonder. I love being a book cheerleader for #IndieFantasy storycrafters each May and thankfully I continue to be able to seek out the stories which are elevating my joy of discovery within the genre itself. As even outside of Wyrd And Wonder – these are the stories I desire most to read every week and month of the year.
Mila hasn't spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends eighteen-year-old Mila to Achten Tan–City of Dust–a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.
To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from Bone Master Opu Haku's sky-high lair. Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian's assistant, a Tar-tule rider, and the chief's playboy son.
But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem, and trusting the wrong person can be deadly. If Mila fails, she will never speak again and her bones will be added to the wasteland. This book includes a kick-ass female protagonist covered in tattoos, giant ants, first-person present-tense narration, magic, banter, lots of innuendoes, and cute boys kissing.
NOTE: This novel began as a short story called “Speechless” and was originally published in Skull Gate Media’s anthology: Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone). Whilst Skull Gate Media is an interesting new publishing company as it is a collective amongst the writers who co-own it together.
Notation about Cover Art and Design: The one observation which confused me about the book cover was the fact Mila on the cover looked a bit different than I visualised her in the story. Especially I was missing the artful way her braids had bones threaded through them and for being a gnome she looked far taller than I thought she would as well.
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook
About Debbie Iancu-Haddad
Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert. Author of Speechless in Achten Tan a YA fantasy novel. And The Bone Master, forthcoming.
She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with three more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices
For her day job, she gives lectures on humor, laughter yoga workshops, and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.
Acquired Book By: I stumbled across one of my author’s newsletters which was mentioning the works of other writers who were going to be at the same event. Laura Resau is an author I have loved reading for many years now (well over a decade and a half!) and it was her newsletter which mentioned this story “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd Mitchell. I had been keenly hopeful I would discover a Forest Fantasy novel I hadn’t learnt of previously before or during Wyrd And Wonder this year and as I read about the premise behind this novel, I felt it was a wicked good fit for me to read!
I had planned to interview Mr Mitchell during Wyrd And Wonder – either as a fifth chat on Twitter or more traditionally on my blog, however, as my work life became a bit more complicated and my health took a few sidesteps as well as a result, I wasn’t able to firm together those plans. I opted instead to focus on reading the novel and sharing my ruminations during the event whilst I planned to re-connect with the author afterwards to see if perhaps I could still interview him about what I had read and the story he had written.
I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology 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 from the author Todd Mitchell – who kindly sent them to me at my request after I explained how I was going to read his novel during Wyrd And Wonder. He is my fifth and final #WyrdAndWonder guest authors this year – on the 31st of May – wherein we’ll be chatting on the tag #WyrdAndWonder as the previous four guests were conversing via #SatBookChat which is the tag for @SatBookChat, the chat I developed early-on as a book blogger.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
It wasn’t until I was reading through my authors’ newsletters (which I receive by email) ahead of Wyrd And Wonder this year that I discovered The Namer of Spirits as forementioned. It was @LauraResau who had tipped my hat towards finding this novel and it led me into reading the story during the last weekend of the event whilst hosting a live interview with Mr Mitchell on our final day of Wyrd And Wonder which is the 31st of May.
I was especially grateful to Ms Resau for including the news about an event they were both attending as otherwise I might not have discovered this story this year at all. And, that would have been a keen disappointment as from the first moment I started to read the story, I could tell it carried with it a lot of the themes we were hoping to uncover throughout Wyrd And Wonder this year. Especially about the spirits who live in the forest, forest communities and also, how a society would either live in harmony with the forest or against it; given different approaches in narratives and scopes of stories or series.
I am thankful I have a chance to both read and talk about the story on Jorie Loves A Story but also, speak directly with the author and talk about how he approached writing this narrative as much as what inspired it to be written. I am hopeful others might be drawn inside his creative Forest Fantasy world and take out the joys I had whilst reading it.
Notation about Cover Art and Design: I was immediately drawn into the scene on the book cover but it wasn’t until I was reading the story itself did I fully understand what I was observing! It was one of those rare moments where you realised that the cover artist and the design of the cover was an equal match to the contents of the story! The large beast seen on the cover was an illwen and that is Ash standing in front of them. I won’t reveal what is happening as it is an important scene of the story but wow! The illustration of that scene is wicked fab and I also appreciated the imagery of the dao faro and mistcat on the back cover, too! Of course, the author’s photo also makes more sense once you’ve read the story, too! His photo and the cover art are clues about “The Namer of Spirits”!!
“A dangerous town carved out of unforgiving forest, a young girl who can name spirits and tame monsters, a race against time to save the natural world: The Namer of Spirits is what readers want and the world needs.” –Eliot Schrefer, New York Times bestselling author
In the frontier village of Last Hope, people dismiss twelve-year-old Ash Narro as a flighty child who claims to hear the true names of things. But when enraged forest spirits attack, Ash shows that the names she hears have power. After taming a destructive forest spirit, Ash teams up with Fen, a wild forest boy, and embarks on an unusual journey to save her village. In this steampunk eco-fantasy, the perils of deforestation and the power of friendship are explored through a fantastical adventure involving giant mistcats, tempestuous forest spirits, a supernatural puppy, and a girl with a special gift for shaping what things become.
Genre(s): Middle Grade | Fantasy | Adventure | Magic Steampunk | Eco-Fantasy | Eco-Lit | Environmental Fantasy
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook
About Todd Mitchell
Todd Mitchell is the author of several award-winning novels for young readers, teens, and adults including The Last Panther (Penguin Random House), The Traitor King (Scholastic), The Secret to Lying (Candlewick), and Backwards (Candlewick).
His two newest books came out in fall 2021 — one for writers, artists, and creators titled Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self, and a Middle Grade novel that's been optioned for film/TV development titled The Namer of Spirits.
In addition to his books, he’s also written for comics, including A Flight of Angels (Vertigo, a YALSA Top 10 Pick for Teens) and Broken Saviors (an alien invasion comic available on ComiXology). Currently, Todd directs the Beginning Creative Writing Teaching Program at Colorado State University. You can visit him (and learn about his squirrel obsession) on his website.
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.