Review: The Tower of Bones by Frank P. Ryan

The Tower of Bones is book two of The Three Powers series and the sequel to The Snowmelt River. The novel continues the adventures of four young people from Earth (Alan, Kate, Mark, and Mo) as they struggle with their destinies in a savage sorcerous world called Tir. The physical action in a brooding romantic landscape that so characterized the first book in this marvellous series is at first replaced by skilfully-presented surreal inner struggles.

Tower of Bones - cover

Charming, sinister, and exciting all rolled into one. The dazzling sequel to The Snowmelt River.

Tir’s powers of evil psychically probe and test Alan, the oldest of the four and bearer of an immense power he as yet does not know how to use. In this unequal battle, dream worlds predominate and much that happens is mental and subjective in nature. Psychic clashes flash across interior landscapes where humans are vulnerable and alone. The bright lights, vivid colours, and kaleidoscopic patterns suggest a special-effects extravaganza from a Hollywood movie. Visualized, mental, and imagined fireworks dazzle the mind.

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Review: Sylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell

From a masculine standpoint, Sylvia’s Lovers is not a promising title for a novel. It sounds like a Harlequin romance when, in fact, it is a marvellous evocation of life in a rugged Yorkshire whaling town in the late 1700s. The English are at war with the French (again) and the vividly depicted harbour town bustles with whaling activity while the King’s press gangs roam the narrow streets looking for able-bodied sailors they can strong-arm into a navy desperate for new recruits. As they make their daily rounds, the locals must walk furtively, resentfully watchful for the hated gangs. Emotions run high. There are outbreaks of violence.

Sylvia's Lovers cover

Gaskell’s engrossing novel of life and love in an 18th-century English whaling town deserves to be more widely read.

The lovers of the novel’s title are Philip Hepburn, an intelligent stooping local shop clerk, and Charley Kinraid, a fine figure of a man who is a daring harpooner on a whaling ship. Sylvia is a pretty farm girl with an aversion to all book learning that does not involve the “Greenland seas” where the romantic Kinraid plies his perilous icy trade. The classic love triangle sets up when Philip loves Sylvia but she falls hard for Charley Kinraid after he is wounded while bravely defending his shipmates from a press gang. (The name Kinraid is suggestive. Philip is a cousin of Sylvia’s and Kinraid is trespassing on a relationship blessed by Sylvia’s parents.) On the side, we have quiet self-effacing Hester Rose, who loves Philip with the constancy and devotion that men dream of but seldom find.

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Review: The Snowmelt River by Frank P. Ryan

The Snowmelt River spans the Earth we know and a strange magical world called Tir. The tale opens in the picturesque Irish countryside (beautifully depicted by the author) where four young people meet and discover they are all orphans. Right away, we feel that, while quite ordinary in outward appearance, these youngsters are somehow special. Fate or some uncanny power has marked them out for a purpose as yet unknown. They have been drawn together to fulfill a great destiny. Soon they are mysteriously “called” by the nearby mountain, Slievenamon, with its ancient stone cairn and legendary portal to another world.

The Snowmelt River cover

A captivating epic fantasy with a unique modern twist: mobile phones are magically transformed into objects of immense power.

Ireland blooms as never before. Timeless tombs reveal long kept secrets. Surging magical forces swirl through leafy woods and green fields. The secrets of the portal have a guardian who is none other than the wise old grandfather of one of the youngsters. Armed with his advice and an eldritch sword, the four young adventurers battle evil beings and face death as they traverse the portal to the world of Tir. The story that unfolds in that wild, primitive, and rugged land is crammed with magic, excitement, and danger.

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Guides to Understanding Creativity

If you are at all serious about being a writer, you need to know something about what it means to be a creative person. Few successful writers reach the heights without at least a rudimentary philosophical take on what they are doing. Luckily, creativity has spawned an entire writing genre with many fine books on the topic.

The Dynamics of Creation Cover

Anthony Storr is unsurpassed when it comes to writing about creative people and the mysteries of the creative process.

My Favourite Creativity Author

When it comes to books about creativity, my favourite author has to be Anthony Storr. No one does a better job of choosing the revealing anecdotes from creators’ lives. Being a psychiatrist himself, he is unsurpassed when discussing the motivation and attitudes behind the activities of creative individuals. He skilfully weaves anecdote and psychology into a lively, fascinating, and enlightening view of what creative people are like. His strong emphasis on creativity’s rewards is inspiring. All of Storr’s books are jargon-free and a pleasure to read. Here are three of his titles with a comment or two about each one.

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