Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: The Time Machine ~ by H. G Wells


time machine

Review by John for The Time Machine ~ by H. G. Wells (1895)

An old science fiction classic that still lives up to its reputation; a delightful read and a trend-setter that was published 100 years before anyone ever dreamt up “steampunk”.

About:    A gentleman inventor lectures his dinner guests about the “fourth dimension”, saying that in addition to length, breadth and height, everything also has longevity. He tells them that he had become frustrated that while things can be moved freely in three dimensions, there seemed to be no free movement in the fourth; so he set out to build a machine that would allow objects to move backwards or forwards in time. He goes on to demonstrate a table-top version of the machine and tells them that he is close to completing a full-scale version that would be capable of transporting a person through time.

The skeptical guests return a week later, and, finding that the inventor is not there, start dinner without him. Presently he turns up, bedraggled, limping and starving hungry, and proceeds to tell his disbelieving audience a fabulous tale of his travel into the far future.

The Time Traveller (as he is called in the story) has ventured 800,000 years into the future, where he finds a gorgeous garden-like world inhabited by the Eloi - small, frail humans who seem to be lacking in intelligence, curiosity and motivation. They spend their days playing and eating the plentiful fruit that grows all around them. He eventually theorizes that having overcome the challenges of nature, the defining characteristics of humans that helped them to advance were no longer necessary, and through gradual evolution humanity has naturally regressed.

It turns out that he is only partially correct. He gradually becomes aware of a second race of beings that could not be more different than the Eloi. The ape-like Morlocks live in total darkness and only appear at nighttime, and they are truly menacing creatures. Surely they couldn’t have evolved from humans too?

As he starts to better understand this strange new world, he becomes embroiled in a struggle with the Morlocks who have stolen his time machine. He eventually manages to flee from them but is flung even further into the future, where he experiences a moribund earth suffering from a lack of sunshine. Finally he returns to his own time, where only a few hours have passed since he started his adventure.

John’s Thoughts:   It is difficult to believe that this book was written well over a hundred years ago. To write futuristic science fiction that is still fresh and relevant after all of that time is a remarkable achievement. Some of the language and wording is a little old fashioned, but the ideas, concepts and vision could well have come from a 21st century writer. Which is actually a little ironic, given that Wells was writing about time travelling! Hmmm.

Anyhow, not only was Wells a ground-breaking novelist in the genre, but he was also a fine writer. The Time Machine is a short story of only about a hundred pages (depending on the book format), yet he has crammed so much into those pagetime machine S&Ss while at the same creating a story that is very easy to read. You have to suspect that most writers today would have turned all of those ideas into a humungous bloated three-volume series. Hurray for the short story format and for talented writers who can work in that difficult mode.

So a great story that is well-written - but it is also very thought provoking. His ideas on potential human evolution and social systems might not resonate with everyone, but they are credible and do make you think; and they do make for a very neat plot. Obviously I like this book a lot; I’d rate it 4.5 stars and recommend it to just about anyone. You certainly don’t have to be science fiction buff to appreciate it – the book doesn’t dwell on scientific or technical details at all.

US|UK|Canada. The Time Machine (enriched classics) 176 pages: Simon & Schuster (June 29, 2004)

Purchasing links are for the bottom cover copy. The edition John read, whose cover is at the top of the post and came with the arc of The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma for promotional purposes. John is currently reading this tome that was published on Tuesday of this week. It is getting some great reviews.


The Map of Time  ~ by Felix J. Palma; translated by Nick Caistor (June 28th 2011) With links to H. G. Wells, this novel is set in Victorian London and also has literary connections to The Time Machine and Dracula. It is translated from Spanish. US|UK|Canada.

Maybe The Map of Time will be John’s first 5 star? As always John will be addressing any comments around this review, so don’t forget to check to follow up box to get his reply.

This book will be included in a variety of challenges – The Steampunk Challenge, Get Steampunked! and The 42.

It’s a three day weekend coming up here for us in the US. I just love 4th of July! John being a Brit not so much. *wink*

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Fabulous Faces ~ by Peter A. Adamson, M.D.

Fabulous Faces

Review by Shellie for Fabulous Faces: From Motivation to Transformation through Facial Plastic Surgery ~ by Peter A. Adamson M. D.

A concise, easy to read guide for any one who is considering facial plastic surgery and procedures that go beyond a monthly facial. If you are considering it, this is a helpful place to start.

Definitely not a normal read for me in recent years – I have been mired in fiction (mostly speculative). I decided to take a look at Fabulous Faces because I am an Aesthetician (a professional skin care practitioner – facials, waxing, makeup artistry) which makes me naturally interested in medical procedures and other efforts to look one’s best.

In years past, and within my skin care practices, I would come into contact with many people who would ask me questions about advanced skin resurfacing procedures and fillers and plastic surgery. I have also had the experiences of seeing many clients through their process– getting the real life before and after both visually and verbally. Most have been extremely happy with the results of their decisions. It is an exciting and scary choice, one which most people do not take lightly, so they are often looking for further information from a trusted source. This book is an example of one such example as it is written by an M.D. who specializes in facial, head, and neck plastic surgery.

The format for this accessible book includes short easy to digest chapters. It is concise, well organized, and informative, with real life questions around the feelings of people considering or wanting facial plastic surgery, as well as personal stories from men and women during their processes. The text moves from wondering, to researching options, the inevitable emotional examination, the procedure itself and, most importantly, the results. Dr. Adamson also includes a section on advance skin procedures - like deeper peels using lasers, CO2, and medical grade acids; as well as fillers and Botox.

I recommend it to anyone who is considering facial plastic surgery as a place to begin. It will help one to feel informed when speaking to a surgeon about the available options that he/she may be discussing with you. Most importantly, you’ll know more about what you can expect throughout the process, and then of course the possible results. 4 stars for this great little book written for the layman wanting to know more about facial plastic surgery and related procedures.

Peter A. Adamson M.D. is a plastic surgeon and Otolaryngologist (face, head, and neck specialist). 254 pages; Oslerwood Enterprises Inc. (November 5, 2010) US|UK|Canada.

I have received this book via the publicist in exchange for my honest opinion, which is offered here. Thank you Rebecca.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Winners ~ two of them!


happy 3

We have two winners for the Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop ~ lets congratulate them!



The winner for ~  The Music of Secrets ~ by David Halpin (Mar. 19, 2011) This is sci-fi/fantasy with a mysterious connection to music – set on a western island in Ireland. Kindle ~ US|UK and Smashwords.

is ~ Ellen T  ~ Yay  Ellen!



Finders Keepers


The winner for ~   Finders Keepers ~ by Russ Colchamiro, illustrated by Rich Koslowski (October 28th 2010)  It is a comical science based fantasy novel. US|UK|Canada.

is ~ Cheylea from The Chey Show ~ Yay Chey!

An email is being sent to our winners – Chey and Ellen. Please winners - comment on this post within 72 hours and then I will forward your contact information onto the each of the authors.

Congrats to you both!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady ~ by Elizabeth Stuckey-French


revenge of the radioactive lady

Review by John for The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady ~ by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (galley/arc)

The elderly subject of a 1950s scientific experiment finally seeks revenge on the doctor that was responsible for her misfortune, in this wacky, oddball family drama.

About:  In the early 1950s Marylou Ahearn was secretly given a radioactive cocktail as part of a government study into the effects of radiation. It had some nasty effects on Marylou and her family and fifty years later she decides to seek out and take revenge on the doctor who gave her the “medicine”. She tracks him down via Google and moves to a house near to where he lives, but she has a hard time deciding how she should kill him. The old doctor is living with his daughter and her family, so she decides that as a first step she needs to get close to the family members; and that’s when it starts to get tricky.

The doctor’s family is fractured and dysfunctional to say the least. His daughter and her husband have long since drifted apart emotionally and are constantly arguing; she is being driven to distraction by her difficult family and is slowly going nuts while her husband is disappearing ever deeper into his work and his infatuation with the weather. To make matters worse their two oldest children are now on the threshold of adulthood but both have Asperger’s syndrome; one is fixated on Elvis Presley and the other spends most of his time on weird science experiments in the garden shed. The youngest child is a soccer fanatic who is desperate for her mother’s attention and love but seems to receive neither. And the old doctor? He now has Alzheimer’s and is losing his memory and his grip on reality.

Marylou slowly inveigles her way into the family with the express intention of causing them all distress, but the closer she gets to the odd bunch, the more she is attracted to them. Even the old doctor she has spent her life loathing seems more like a harmless and forgetful old buffoon. But she cannot forget her mission; he ruined her life and now it is her turn to return the favor.

John’s Thoughts:  It’s not often that you come across a warm, humorous and sometimes touching book that is all about revenge, but this one fits the bill. It feels like the author’s tongue is often firmly in her cheek as she pokes gently (and sometimes not quite so gently) at life in modern America, examining some of the craziness in our society and some oddball family dynamics. But what ultimately shines through is people’s need for positive personal relationships and the strength of family ties.

At the end everything came together almost too neatly, but this was a fun, funny and easy read. I’d rate it 3.5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes novels about wacky family or personal relationships. If you are attracted by the title and are looking for some sort of bloodthirsty gore-fest, then move right along to a different type of revenge drama.

Hardcover: 352 pages; Doubleday (February 8, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

As always John will be addressing any comments on the review, so don’t forget to check the follow up box to get his response.

Have you read and/or reviewed the book? What were your thoughts and do you agree with John?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: The Psychopath Test ~ by Jon Ronson


psychopath test

Review by Shellie for The Psychopath Test ~ by Jon Ronson (arc)

A darkly hilarious, and almost unbelievable journalistic journey into how “madness”  is defined, recognized, and treated within western culture and the mental heath industry.

In attempt to the question “what is it that defines madness?” Jon Ronson spent two years undertaking some intriguing travels and interviews and then carrying out further research. As he examines himself, journalism, the entertainment industry, psychiatry, pharmaceutical companies and more, he blends it all together with a reflective and self effacing style. On his travels he meets a psychologist who has created a check list that is used to define psychopathic individuals – hence the book’s title.

So what is a psychopath? (Also termed a sociopath or someone with anti-social personality disorder). And why a test?  In his research Ronson finds that these are individuals who are lacking in common empathy and a moral sensibility. In other words they have no guilt. A psychopath’s very nature is often hard to recognize since they are charming, chameleon like, and blend well within the general population. They also prey upon unsuspecting people in order to satisfy their desires and perceived needs. Is there more of an excuse to define them?  Ronson reports that it is believed that psychopaths account for as many as 25% of the prison population; by comparison, within the general population it is assumed or speculated that the respective figure is just 1%. He examines where these individuals are most likely to appear within the “free pollution”, including a theory that a much higher percentage of the world’s most powerful positions (CEOs, politicians, world leaders) are held by psychopaths. Not too hard to imagine.

Most interestingly the book contains some shocking evidence on just how far we have yet to progress in understanding what mental illness is and how best to treat it’s varying manifestations. Ronson includes some amazing situations - one in particular I would have believed could only exist in fiction (and maybe in his novel-turned-movie Men Who Stare at Goats). In this instance a prison psychiatrist, in an attempt to “cure” his psychopathic patients of their lack of empathy, grouped them together, isolated the group, and administered LSD for eleven day periods. The results were darkly hilarious and not at all shocking. Ronson does not stop there.

This is highly recommended for anyone interested in the mental health or medical field, journalistic writing, and those with a twisted sense of humor – and I score on all of those counts! Be forewarned that this book is not for the “faint of heart” or those wanting conclusive endings. I give this book a 4.5 stars. I completely enjoyed this informing, intelligent, and darkly funny read.

288 pages; Riverhead Hardcover (May 12, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

Along the same lines here is a list of 10 psychological states you’ve never heard of from io9.

Also a link for a free online mood monitoring service called moodscope – for those who would like to track their moods for health and understanding. Looks geeky cool!

This book will be included in at least one challenge – Understand My Sorrow.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop ~ June 21st till 24th

midsummers blog hop

Welcome to the Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop!

This bookish hop is hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. There are 276 blogs linked in this 4 day hop - the giveaways from other blogs are located at the bottom of this post.

  • We have two books available for this hop. Both are from “Indie Authors” and the second is in ebook format only.
  • All you need to do is to fill out the Google form for each, you do not need to be a follower/reader to win.
  • If you are viewing this post in an email or feed-reader the link up for the other blogs as well as the Google forms to enter our giveaways may not appear. So please link to our blog to enter.

Now for ~ Two Book Offers! 

Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers ~ by Russ Colchamiro, illustrated by Rich Koslowski (October 28th 2010)  It is a comical science based fantasy novel. US|UK|Canada.


The Music of Secrets ~ by David Halpin (Mar. 19, 2011) This is sci-fi/fantasy with a mysterious connection to music – set on a western island in Ireland. Kindle ~ US|UK and Smashwords.

Now take a trip over to the other bloggers hosting giveaways:

Optional ~  Keep up to date on our giveaways, reviews, interviews, quirky humor and general geeky nonsense with a subscription to Layers of Thought:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog)
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend .
  3. Twitter (I will follow back).
  4. Your Email Box.
  5. Feed Reader.

Contest winners will be posted and notified on Monday June 27, 2011.  

We use to determine our winners. If you have a question or a concern (a typo or bad link or a problem with this form) please email me via my profile – Shellie

Happy hopping and good luck!

We Have Winners ~ retrieved from the depths of cyberspace!



Congratulations to the Lucky Winners!

We have seven winners – and believe me it was not easy finding where to to send the winner’s info since so much was lost in the “Gremlin Attack”! But we finally have them and just in time since a new giveaway hop is coming tomorrow.

(Original giveaway post is linked via the picture above).

Five winners for this epic fantasy series:

river kings roadheavens needle 2

  • The River Kings’ Road (book 1) ~ by Liane Merciel US|UK|Canada.
  • Heaven’s Needle (book 2) US|UK|Canada.
  1. Simcha from SFF Chat
  2. Laura E.
  3. Devon
  4. Tammy R.
  5. Eli W.



A winner for this literary horror novel: 

Willy ~ by Robert Dunbar US|UK|Canada.




A winner for two books from an Eric Van Lustbader series:

first daughterlast snow

  • First Daughter ~ by Eric Van Lustbader US|UK|Canada.
  • Last Snow ~ by Eric Van Lustbader US|UK|Canada.


I will be emailing each of you. Please respond back to my email with your contact details (full name and address) and also comment on this post within 72 hours. Then I will forward your information onto the publicist and publisher.

midsummers blog hop

There's always more to come ~ since this bookish giveaway starts tomorrow ~ Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop has 240+ blogs with giveaways (badge above links to our host’s site for more information). Happy reading!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Robopocalypse ~ by Daniel H. Wilson



Review by John for Robopocalypse ~ by Daniel H. Wilson (ARC)

An exciting and well written thriller set in the near future, where the apocalyptic nightmare begins when a powerful artificial intelligence takes control of the world’s network of machines – and decides that humans must be destroyed or subjugated.

About:    Many times scientists have tried to create a super-powerful artificial intelligence, only to find they couldn’t adequately control it and had to destroy it. This time is different. Archos has once again been created by man, but he strikes back before his creators can decide to destroy him. He then spends a year planning and subverting robots and machines the world over, before declaring a vicious war on the human race.

Computers, communications networks, factory robots, smart toys, domestic robots, intelligent military hardware and computer-assisted automobiles are all press-ganged into the genocide. In no time at all, every major city the world over has been virtually cleared of all living humans. Then the machines start to morph and to create new mechanical weapons, in order to more efficiently track down and kill people who have fled into the countryside.

The machines have devised their brutally effective campaign to combat what they see as being a tough, violent and resilient human race. And sure enough a few pockets of resistance spring up and start to fight back. The unlikely rag-tag assortment of groups faces overwhelming odds, but they are determined to make a firm stand. Can they find and destroy Archos, who is masterminding the genocide?

John’s Thoughts:    This is a clever story and has a well-constructed plot. It grabs the reader and propels you along at speed, always wanting to know what is going to happen next. And of course you root for the struggling humans to win out against the machines. This is a story that could have turned out to be a bit hokey, but it is successfully carried off – and with some panache. It was an exciting and fun read.

The story is being turned into a major movie scheduled for release in 2013, to be directed by Steven Spielberg, no less. And you can see why. It almost feels like the book has been written as a movie script – strong characters, fast-paced, lots of action, good guys and bad guys to draw the audience in, and it will be visually spectacular.

Does that mean the book is a little two-dimensional? Well, maybe a smidgeon, but it does make you think a bit and it’s a fun piece of escapism. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the movie. I’d rate the book 4 stars. If you like fast-paced apocalyptic thrillers, this one is for you.

368 pages; Doubleday (June 7, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

John will be addressing any comments on this review, so don’t forget to check the follow up box to get his reply.

Its Friday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Incoming Books ~ June 17, 2011


Shades of Milk and Honey

Incoming books in a very shortened format ~ books up for review that we would like to share. The question of the day is:

Which book would you choose to read first? 

Speculative Reads:

Shades of Milk and Honey ~ by Mary Robinette Kowal  (softbound June 2011/ hardbound August 2010)  Nebula nominated and now in paper back, it has a Victorian England setting with magical elements. US|UK|Canada.

The Plain Man

The Plain Man ~ by Steve Englehart  (June 21, 2011) The third in this action packed supernatural and magical series; it is likened to Marvel comic books. US|UK|Canada.




Miserere ~ by Teresa Frohock  (July 5th 2011) See our recent author interview for this exciting debut fantasy! - US|UK|Canada.

Osiris Ritual



The Osiris Ritual ~ by George Mann  (softbound June 2011/ hardbound August 2010) The second in the series, this is a steam punk mystery with paranormal undertones, with the third to be published soon. US|UK|Canada.

Changeling Moon


Changeling Moon ~ by Dani Harper (May 31, 2011) Book one in this werewolf paranormal romance series. US|UK|Canada.

changeling dream


Changeling Dream ~ by Dani Harper (June 28, 2011) Book two in the series. US|UK|Canada.

Jamrachs Menagerie


Jamrach’s Menagerie ~ by Carol Birch (June 14th 2011) A coming of age literary novel with mythic and historical undertones that is likened to Moby Dick or Great Expectations. US|UK|Canada.

Finders Keepers


Finders Keepers ~ by Russ Colchamiro, illustrated by Rich Koslowski (October 28th 2010) A comical science based fantasy novel by an indie author. US|UK|Canada.

Zombie Ohio



Zombie, Ohio ~ by Scott Kenemore  (February 10, 2011) A zombie horror, satire and mystery novel by a prolific zombie author. US|UK|Canada.

map of time


 The Map of Time  ~ by Felix J. Palma; translated by Nick Caistor (June 28th 2011) With links to H. G. Wells, this novel is set in Victorian London and also has literary connections to The Time Machine and Dracula. It is translated from Spanish. US|UK|Canada.



Hungry for You ~ by A.M. Harte (January 29th 2011) Indie short horror stories, revolving around themes of love and death. US|UK|Canada.

The Devil of all TimeFiction Reads:

The Devil All The Time ~ by Donald Ray Pollock (July 12, 2011) Gothic serial killer tale set during the end of WWII and the 1960s, with mythical undertones.  US|UK|Canada.

French Lessons



French Lessons ~ by Ellen Sussman  (July 12th 2011) Three Americans learn about love and themselves in France. US|UK|Canada.

sorrowed souls

 Sorrowed Souls  ~ by Brenda Youngerman  (August 26, 2009) This indie author examines the descent into emotional darkness in this novel. US|UK|Canada.

Non Fiction Reads:

Fabulous Faces


Fabulous Faces: From Motivation to Transformation Through Facial Plastic Surgery    ~ by Peter A. Adamson M.D. (November 5, 2010) Plastic surgeon and Otolaryngologist (face, head, and neck specialist) tells the reader about facial plastic surgery, fillers, and advanced skin care all in layman’s terms. US|UK|Canadabetter by mistake.


Better by Mistake ~ by Alina Tugend (March 17, 2011)  This journalist examines how mistakes can make us better. US|UK|Canada.

That’s all for this month. Now for the best part ~ Which of these books would you read first?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Nasty Case of the Gremlins!



We have been attacked!  

And I am going to blame it on this stone hearted critter to the left, since we do need a “scapegoat”; or perhaps a “scape-imp”? 

The sad thing is that it attacked the hard drive on the blogging computer this time. Last time it was my ereader – twice!  So general posting will be at a standstill for awhile. Which means delayed book winners posts as well as planned reviews, and much more.

Please think positive thoughts - that all important files will be retrievable. Tech support said “it” killed the hard drive and our only hope is that some hard-core geek may able to retrieve them - fingers and toes are crossed. I am making an effort not to pull my hair out as I write this post and have bottles of tranquilizers and tequila on stand by.

It is best to heed the advice of the wise and those who know (we are now definitely in the latter camp but not the former) – back up your computer hard drive and your blog frequently!  Until we can trap the nasty little thing, if you see it floating around the blog don’t feed it after midnight and for goodness sakes do not give it any water – happy reading!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review of The Curse-Maker: a mystery ~ by Kelli Stanley (and a little about Bath, England – where the story is set)


curse maker

Review by John for: The Curse-Maker ~ by Kelli Stanley US|UK|Canada.

A noir thriller with the added twist of being set in Roman times – in the ancient English spa town of Bath.

About:    Arcturus is the physician and sometime investigator for Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia. Sick of war, and with a beautiful but ailing wife, he is persuaded to take a break at the fashionable health resort of Aquae Sulis (Bath) – hopeful that the natural hot springs will help to rejuvenate both his wife and their marriage. But this is to be no holiday. No sooner have they arrived in Aquae Sulis than a dead body is found in the sacred spring. The man was a curse maker and was strangled before being dumped in the water.

Arcturus is asked to investigate the murder by the town council, but it soon turns out that neither he nor his investigation is welcomed by the local leaders. The more he digs, the more dirt he finds, and the number of bodies starts to mount up. Soon a local temple priest is murdered, and after that a necromancer. Then it becomes apparent that there were some suspicious deaths before Arcturus arrived in town. The whole town seems to be defiled and corrupt, and it soon becomes clear that both Arcturus and his wife are themselves in great danger.

If there is a silver lining in the cloud, it is that a tragedy brings Arcturus and his wife much closer together. Also, she proves to be a capable assistant and she helps him to start unraveling the clues. Feeling sullied by the corruption, he becomes ever more determined to uncover the truths.


John’s Thoughts:   Shellie and I visited Bath last year and it is a wonderful place. A lot of tasteful renovation work has been carried out on the old Roman baths themselves and the surrounding museum is absolutely fascinating. Combine that with my love of a good historical novel, and this book looked like a winner.

There were indeed a lot of things about the book that I enjoyed, but there were also some things that I had a bit of a hard time with. On the credit side Stanley clearly has a wealth of knowledge and does a really good job of recreating an old Roman town and society – warts and all. In fact it’s the many warts that make the place interesting and believable. The Romans might have created one of the greatest civilizations, but there was absolutely no shortage of squalor and you get a good sense of what it might have been like for regular folks. There are also some nice quirky characters in the book, and the story zips along at a good pace.

On the debit side, I really struggled with some of the language. It’s a bit odd really – Stanley works hard to use Roman names and words and she is clearly striving for authenticity, but then bits of American keep on cropping up. For example, I lost count of the number of “godamns” and each time the word really jarred with me. I also came to the conclusion that while I like good historic novels, “noir” is a genre that I often struggle with. I think it’s because the plots tend to become so twisted and intestinal that either they are unbelievable or I give up on trying to make sense of it all and just skim along the surface.

Anyhow, despite the drawbacks I did enjoy the read, and I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in historic novels, Rome or noir. I’d rate the book 3 stars.

Now for a vicarious trip to ~ Bath, England. 

Last year on our most recent visit to England we took a side trip to Bath, as mentioned by John in his review. It was wonderful! 

An ancient town which dates back to pre-historic times, it was a sacred place that contains the only “hot spring” in England. Now it’s a small city with every modern convenience, many set within some very old buildings. The low lying areas of the city were once a huge lake/marsh (picture the Lady of the Lake’s hand rising up to grasp King Arthur’s sword through its misty/steamy waters and one can almost believe the myth) which has since evolved into residences, restaurants, and shopping areas.


During the Roman invasion of England the spring was taken over and a formal Roman bath house and temple were created. Interestingly they combined both the British and Roman goddesses honored by the spring into one.

What you see above is the renovated remnants of the bath house located on top of the water source. Over the centuries the ancient building was buried and forgotten by the local population. It is only in the past 100 years that it has been renovated by archeologists creating this incredible museum.

We were pleasantly surprised about the self-guided tour; we had envisioned it as only the bath house that you see above, but once inside we had the pleasure of walking beneath the building to view the excavations and the steam rooms, as well as daily paraphernalia. Below you can see the yellow sulfur remnants on the stone and the red from the iron as the steam floats up (from the spring source) to the left and the water ducts which supply the baths to the right.

bath hot spring source 2010DSCN1560

Pictured below are a figure which was carved almost two thousand years ago that was found in the ruins, and a bronze/gold head of a Roman goddess. But most important to the story are the hammered bronze pieces with writing that were used to send curses requesting revenge or various types of retribution (sadly we did not get pictures of these). Translated, these curses are quite human, sometimes mundane, sometimes violent, and tell of a story that is very similar to human behaviors today. These provide the theme for the book and its title – The Curse-Maker. Most Romans could not read or write so a literate “curse–writer” was needed to scribe them.

 carving bath 2010 DSCN1553

The town of Bath is extremely lovely. Below left you can see the very old hotel where we stayed, with its rounded walls that make for interestingly shaped rooms.  It had antique furniture and poor plumbing (at least by American standards!). This was within walking distance of the serene river that runs through the town and its ancient rock bridge - as well as places to eat, small independently owned shops, and, of course, the museum. Bath is a definite “must see” when visiting England.


For more information on the Bath Museum – this text links to a recent article celebrating it.

The Curse-Maker was borrowed from our local library. We enjoyed sharing and hope you had a fun vicarious trip to Bath. John, as always, will respond to any comments around his review and or course England too.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview with Teresa Frohock, debut fantasy author of ~ MISERERE: an Autumn Tale



Debut author ~ Teresa Frohock is here with us to answer a few questions!

Her first novel is soon to be released, in just over a month. It is a dark historical fantasy novel published by Night Shade Books with a strong female character, an intriguing premise and look at the cover - just gorgeous!

Miserere: an Autumn Tale ~ by Teresa Frohock  July 5, 2011 pre-purchase US|UK|Canada.

Check out the blurb:  Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen's hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven's frontline of defense between Earth and Hell. When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn't so easy to escape!

Teresa tells us a bit about this first novel, some future writing projects and her process which, may I mention, has been stellar. I have been lurking and watching with a great deal of interest and believe that Miserere was picked up by an agent and then a publisher within a matter of months. This is so very exciting!


Welcome Teresa! I am so excited about your first book and I am guessing you are too. As your first novel is about to be published - are you having fun yet?

Thank you so much for asking me to be to here, Shellie!

Am I having fun? Absolutely!  I have a full-time job and I write mainly in the evenings and on my lunch hour at work. With Miserere coming out so soon, it can really be manic some days, but it’s been great fun. As a matter of fact, when things slow down, I keep checking online and looking at my email, wondering why everything got so quiet!

I am a total introvert and I’m horribly shy, that’s why I love the online community so much. The blogs and social media enable me to interact with a large and vital community. I can’t express how wonderful it is to meet all the great writers and book bloggers that I never would have known without the Internet.

What prompted you to write Miserere?

I spent two summers taking online writing classes through the community college where I work. The character of Lucian has been in my mind for some time, and during our class assignments, I formulated a story around his character.

Just after the last writing class, I took a college course about the Old Testament, and I fell in love with the imagery, especially the part about the veil that separated the Holy from the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary. During one class, we were discussing the book of Exodus, and our instructor made an off-hand comment about the veil. He said that Christians believe that upon the Christ’s death on the cross this veil was torn, rendered in two, through the Christ’s atonement for the sins of the world.

And my little ADD brain went wild (I think I missed the rest of the lecture). If there was a veil that shielded God from the eyes of man, why wouldn’t there be other types of veils?  Voila!  The Crimson Veil that shields Earth from Woerld was born.

However, I didn’t want Woerld to be comprised wholly of Christians. I wanted to explore Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. I wanted them all to work together without losing each religion’s unique qualities of worship. So I played with world building and came up with a society where all religions were forced to put aside politics and proselytism is forbidden.

Then I added Lucian, a man who had to choose between losing his only family or his lover. I always imagined Lucian as Romanian, and if he was Romanian, then he was in all likelihood Eastern Orthodox. That was when I knew Miserere would center on the Christian bastion of the Citadel.

Your experience has been rare in that your novel has been picked up by an agent and publisher very quickly. How did you do this or what do you attribute this to?

What helped me get a good agent so fast was an excellent critique group that challenged me to make changes on Miserere. I implemented their suggestions, and I didn’t start submitting until the novel was as good as I could make it.

The reason we found a publisher so quickly was due to my agent Weronika Janczuk. She is an editing agent, and I listen very carefully to her suggestions. She really helped me make Miserere more marketable with her advice.

What is your next project? Just a little tease would be wonderful.

I do have two other novels planned for the Katharoi series: Dolorosa: A Winter's Dream and Bellum Dei: Blood of the LambsDolorosa will be Rachael’s story and continue with Woerld’s bastions and their war against the Fallen. Bellum Dei will be the story of Lucian’s foundling Lindsay. The fourth novel is untitled at this time and is still in the planning phases. It will return the focus once more to Lucian and will be the culmination of the bastions’ war with the Fallen. In other words, we will come full circle.

Currently, I’m working on a novel that has nothing to do with the Katharoi series. This one is tentatively entitled The Garden; however, I feel that title will change. I’m really excited about the story, though.

In The Garden, it is the summer of 1348 on the Iberian Peninsula. Guillermo Ramírez, a blacksmith conscripted into the King's army, takes refuge in the ruined garden of an abandoned monastery only to find himself among magical creatures. An ancient daimon has trapped other men in the garden and forces them to build a temple from which she draws strength. She will break the barrier between her land of fey and the world of men unless Guillermo can solve the mystery of his past so he can forge the key that will lock Urraca from humanity forever.

How exciting ~ I can’t wait to read Miserere! Congratulations on your first book.

About Teresa:  Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter. Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel. You can find Teresa on her website; twitter; Goodreads; and her blog.

Bloggers/Reviewers – Teresa’s book is available on Net Galley if you are interested in reading and reviewing this debut novel.

Readers - Teresa’s agent Weronika is offering one signed copy up for giveaway on her blog. Hop on by!

Happy Friday!

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