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Sheila Deeth has commented on (305) products.

Outview by Brandt Legg

Sheila Deeth, March 25, 2015

When a teenage boy finds himself dreaming past lives, or more accurately past deaths, he’s understandably confused. But he isn’t crazy, and neither was his brother before him. Still, what will the world around him make of such experiences, if he lets them be known?

Brandt Legg’s Outview starts with an intriguing take on reincarnation, but quickly moves on to encompass a blend of new age mythology, anti-science diatribes, skewed history, and modern-day plot. The young teen plans to rescue his brother from a mental hospital, but first he needs the help of good friends and mysterious strangers. The fast-paced story slows down as these new characters seek him out, teaching him secrets of mystical numbers and powers, new ways to read and travel, a world-and-dimension spanning destiny, and the evils of modern vaccinations -- which is kind of sad, given that for every violent death relived through Nathan’s past, history might offer millions of equally horrible demises from disease.

At the start, the story reminded me of Bill Hiatt’s Spellweaver series, with it’s smoothly convincing teen voice, and the quiet interjection of well-drawn myth. But in Outview the myths grow faster than the fiction until they’re ranging far beyond our world. The magic is evangelistically green, while counts of mages and powers seem to invite the return of science after rejecting it. Cell phones are okay though, so not all technology needs to be denied. And the ending, when it finally arrives, has a nice tie-in to tales to come.

Outview is a long, complex tale. Its anti-science and anti-religion stance might offend some readers, but others will enjoy it for its X-Files, X-Men, exiled new age fervor.

Disclosure: I read it as part of a collection of novels in At Odds With Destiny
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The Gods of Second Chances by Dan Berne
The Gods of Second Chances

Sheila Deeth, March 25, 2015

The Tlingit fisherman asks us to rub the belly of a god for luck when we climb aboard his boat. The Buddhist spares a bite of food. The newly-reformed Christian sees every alien creed as demonic threat. And the grittily dour grandfather fills his home with statues in hopes that maybe one or another god might save him. Meanwhile an absent drug-addicted daughter, a sue-addicted tourist, and an all-too-present invasive crab are just the very tip of his ice-berg of troubles, while a delightfully, vividly real granddaughter is a wonderful saving grace.

The Gods of Second Chances blends evocative scenery, hauntingly real life and poverty, genuine Alaskan traditions and dreams, and a very modern plot into something truly beautiful. The voice is consistent, simultaneously gritty and smooth. Land, sea and weather are characters in their own right. The details drag the reader in, and second chances crawl like crabs into pots.

There’s a touch of romance, a grounding in misunderstandings, a wealth of age and culture gaps, pleasing humor, and a treasure of gods in this very human, very wonderful tale. It’s all presented with pithily perfect illustrations at the head of each chapter. A gorgeously rendered animal totem, symbolizing those gods perhaps, is crumbling down. But the urge to spare it belongs to the new world, not old. And a final collapse might mark the new beginning needed by all.

By turns sad, sweet, dark, scary, peaceful, frantic and wise, the God’s of Second Chances is a hauntingly beautiful book, just waiting for someone to grant it a first chance at fame. It’s highly recommended.

Disclosure: A friend loaned me this book. She thought I’d enjoy it. She was right!
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Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence by P. Christina Greenaway

Sheila Deeth, March 17, 2015

Written in Ruberah, by P. Christina Greenaway combines science fiction, mythology, romance and even a touch of science as a mystical being strives to bring the right future and right powers into alignment. So there’s something for everyone, maybe. A quiet Cornish guest house forms the backdrop for present-day adventure as American Miriam finds herself torn between longing for food, love of Mitch, duty to her daughter, and the power of a mystical former life. Meanwhile Mitch’s own past life catches up with him as his unknown mystical power seems stolen. Conniving Gwenellen pitches potential lovers against each other, and Tamara of the river hides in ruby shade.

There’s a pink pen, determining the future; a Dark Master, distorting hopes of the wounded; perfectly American French fries from a Cornish tavern; and a mythical history of giants, love and destruction. Will volcanic fires from Ruberah tear Cornwall from the face of the earth? Will Miriam remember her sacred future? Will the wrong future play out on the movie screens of Control? Or can a selfless act save all?

The story starts in Ruberah with an intriguing scene of the ending and birthing of myth. Then it enters the modern world, where some nice foretelling is quickly lost in a slew of confused relationships, misplaced memories, and forgotten pleas. Time slows in Cornwall, of course, and in this long, complex tale. But modern technology and mindsets intrude as much into myth as Ruberah does into the lives of the characters, making this a fantasy both languid and frightening, crossed with a seriously star-crossed romance.

Disclosure: I won an ecopy and I offer my honest review
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Hope River #2: The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman
Hope River #2: The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel

Sheila Deeth, March 17, 2015

Lovers of TV’s Call the Midwife will enjoy this tale of a small-town American midwife’s assistant, reluctantly taking on the job when the Depression leaves her hopeless and almost homeless. The lives of people struggling on the edges of poverty are vividly portrayed, and there’s plenty of well-researched history, covering race relations, rejection of outsiders, mistrust of government programs, and the pursuit of medicine. Protagonist Becky is a doctor’s daughter and physician’s assistant. But the doctor she worked with has lost his mind, just as the world lost its financial safety-net. Now Becky cares for her employer as if he were a child, and cares for neighbor’s children and children-to-be. Meanwhile the Civilian Conservation Corps sets up camp, and a handsome stranger threatens to steal Becky’s heart.

The story is enhanced by quotes from Nurse Becky's diary, lending a powerful sense of immediacy, soon paired with a touch of mystery. Details are convincing. Characters are pleasingly complex. And the dialog mostly rings true to life (though I have issues with some of the swear words which felt awkwardly modern).

A recurring theme is the way we make assumptions -- who can be trusted, who can be healed, who is worth caring for -- and how easily all those assumptions can be wrong. In a world of poverty, trust is paramount. And in a world of broken trust, mercy might rule. A thin thread of faith reminds the characters that there’s something more to be trusted, beyond themselves, but the story works equally for readers of faith and readers just interested in an honest tale set in the world our grandparents knew.

Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Forgiving Maximo Rothman by A. J. Sidransky
Forgiving Maximo Rothman

Sheila Deeth, March 17, 2015

Forgiving Maximo Rothman jumps straight into scenes of clashing cultures on the streets of New York. A Jewish son can’t accept a ride to the hospital when he hears his father’s been attacked, because it’s a holy day. A Jewish cop can’t accept an attitude that places faith before family. And a Jewish young man may never fit in because his mind doesn’t work like everyone else’s. Add Spanish-speaking locals, surely not to be trusted. Reflect the clash of cultures in everyday relationships. Follow a journey across lands, dreams and history. Then you’ll have a picture of this wonderful book where each voice rings true, each attitude is built on genuine depths of feeling, and each pain and blame has its reasons in the past.

While a son (or more than one son) may need to forgive his father, the mystery in this tale is the question of who would have wounded old Maximo Rothman. The novel crosses lands and cultures, bringing Russian and German Jews together, and revealing the hurts of both histories. It’s a tale of fathers and sons, paternal dreams and filial longing for acceptance. The wisdom of the old combines with the innocence of youth, and authority in its many curious guises reigns over all.

Forgiving Maximo Rothman is beautifully presented, with Maximo’s diaries neatly threaded into the tale, and unobtrusive footnotes explaining terms that may be foreign to readers. Dialog rings true, authentically rendered with just enough translation to keep it clear. Scenery is gorgeously evocative, from Russia’s Siberia, to Sosua in the Dominican Republic, to the streets of Washington Heights. Characters are pleasingly deep and believable. Tragedy feels real. And history and geography come to life. It’s a beautiful book, with a wonderful message for a world where life may indeed be too short for the pain of unforgiveness.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy during the author’s blog tour and I’m just sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it.
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