Monthly Archives: May 2009

Review – Griffin’s Shadow

Griffin’s Shadow  – An Ancient Evil Grows in Power!shadow

Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended    
Author:
Leslie Ann Moore

Available: Paperback

Deep in the bowels of The Black Tower, the elfin magic imprisoning an ancient evil is weakening.  Using it’s power of projection, the evil finds an accomplice to help in recapturing and releasing the key to it’s power.  Jelena Preseren, the half-elf and half-human unwitting vessel of the key, begins her training to unlock the power of her long dormant magically Talent.  Because of her newly acquired position in elf society  she also become a beacon of hope for the half breed elfin people who crave equality with the pure blood elves; though not all elves accept her and an secret conspiracy begins forms.  Meanwhile, humans and elves prepare for war and Ashinji – a pure blood elf and Jelena’s love interest – struggles to survive and return to his people.

Leslie Ann Moore’s Griffin’s Shadow picks up where Griffin’s Daughter left off.  I enjoyed the first book, but this chapter in the trilogy is even better.  While the first installment introduced the foundational elements of the story, it’s focus was primarily on the love interest between Jelena and Ashinji.  However, this novel injects considerably more fantasy elements such as the ancient evil sorcery as it grows in power.  The treachery and betrayal of family, politics, power of the ruling class, cruelty of prejudice, remorse of lost love, and overall action and tension is ramped and builds throughout the multiple story arcs.

Griffin’s Shadow is a masterfully crafted fantasy adventure which immerses readers in it’s characters and wonderfully created universe.  Once again, Moore seamlessly weaves in issues of prejudice while advancing the story.  My only complaint is I have to wait for the next book to see how this all resolves!  Most of the story arcs are left open at conclusion of this novel.  It left me with the same feeling I had at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when I first saw it as a kid having to wait for the release of the then final chapter of the series.

Griffin’s Daughter is an award winning novel and Griffin’s Shadow is more than worthy of additional national acclaim.

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Review – Griffin’s Daughter

Griffin’s Daughter – Award Winning Fantasy!

Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended
Author: Leslie Ann Moore

Available: Paperback

Being half-elf and half -human, Jelena Preseren lives life ridiculed and looked down upon by others.  Though her mother, who died giving birth to her, was the sister of the Duke of Amsara, this does little for Jelena who is forced to live her days working in the castle scullery.  Her only friend is her cousin Magnes who sees beyond her lineage.  Though she accepts her lot in life as a servant, Jelena draws the line when her uncle the Duke decides to sell her as a concubine.  She decides to flee and search for her Elven father.

Having learned of his own arranged marriage to someone other than his true love, Magnes joins Jelena.  While on their quest, Jelena discovers a strange power locked deep inside her.    Little does she know, that she is the vessel containing the magic from an ancient evil sorcerer banished centuries earlier but whose soul lives on searching for the key to his release.

Ashinji Sakehera, second son of an Elven Duke, is troubled by continued dreams of a girl he has yet to meet.  Once he and Jelena’s worlds collide, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another.  But how can a half-elf woman who is ostracized by both human and elf society ever have a romantic future with nobility?

Leslie Ann Moore’s Griffin’s Daughter is the first novel in a three part series.  It sets up a number of story arcs only one of which is closed at the books conclusion.  So be prepared to run out to purchase book two (which is also very good – see my review for Griffin’s Shadow).  Moore’s prose is refined and sets the tone and mood for the novel.  Apart from the good story telling, and wonderful fantasy elements, I really enjoyed the way Moore  weaves in the personal impact of prejudice.  Jelena is mistreated in both human and elven societies belonging to neither.  What is so sad is Jelena believes herself inferior because of the way others see and treat her.  No matter how much her cousin Magnes tells her otherwise or even her love Ashinji, Jelena truly believes she is not worthy of the love and friendship from those around her – all because of how she is treated by the majority.  What a wonderful glimpse into how prejudice is felt by those who experience it.

Moore’s debut novel earned her the 2008 Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction and it’s easy to see why.  This is a good book and the second installment is even better.  Please note, this may not be a suitable read for some younger readers as there are some adult themes presented occasionally throughout the story.  For those who enjoy a good, well written fantasy, pick up a copy of Griffin’s Daughter.

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Guest Blog – Riding a Camel to School by Bernadette Simpson

Fascinated by her story, I asked if Bernadette Simpson would like to write a guest blog on TMBOA.  I love experiencing different cultures and her book, An ABC Escapade Through Egypt, helps kids discover the wonders of Egypt while in their own living rooms.  Enjoy!

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Will you live in a pyramid? Do they speak Egyptian there? Will you ride a camel to school?

Feluka Dock

Feluka Dock

These were the questions asked by my friends when I broke the news to them that, yes, my parents really were making me move to Egypt with them. Although my mother had originally promised otherwise, once my father was offered the job, my mother rescinded, saying she would miss me too much and that I must join them on this adventure. My parents tried to woo me with the prospect of graduating in front of the pyramids. But I was sixteen. I would be starting my senior year in high school in the fall. All I wanted to do was hang out with my girlfriends, go to prom with my boyfriend, and graduate.

While I knew the answers to the above questions, I knew little else about Egypt. The company that my father worked for attempted to make our move to this foreign land easier. The company provided Arabic classes, as well as tests to measure their ability to adjust, and a video for the employee’s family to watch as an introduction to Egypt. Here’s what I learned: Egypt is hot and dusty.  (Seriously, the video must have repeated that phrase a dozen times. It became a family joke.)

But even with my allergy to dust, my parents insisted that I join them. And it wasn’t like I had a choice. So five weeks into my senior year, the phone call came. My dad’s work visa had been finalized and we were booked on a flight for the coming weekend.

And so there I was – a teenager plucked from the comfort of her own neighborhood and friends and set down in the middle of hot and dusty Cairo. I learned quickly that life in Cairo was going to be nothing like life in Houston, Texas.

Instead of asking my father to borrow the car, I flagged down taxis, learned to give directions in Arabic, and haggle for fares as there were no working meters.

Instead of playing frisbee at the park, my friends and I drove to the desert behind my apartment and used discarded cardboard boxes to slide down sand dunes.

Instead of strolling through shopping malls for entertainment, we met at the docks along the Nile and rented a feluka, or sailboat, that would drift along the river as we listened to music and munched on snacks.

And while there is no denying that Egypt is hot and dusty, Egypt is so much more.

I learned that arriving on time is not as important as simply showing up.

I learned that there is always time to share a cup of tea or a light lunch with a friend – or a complete stranger.

I learned that happiness is not dependent on the quantity or quality of what you own but rather the family and friends with whom you share your days.

Photo of my neighbor, the camel. Dahab, South Sinai

There is a saying that if you drink from the water of the Nile, you are destined to return to Egypt. Well, I guess I got my fill of Nile water! After graduating (yes, in front of the pyramids) I returned to America to attend university but spent every summer and winter break visiting my parents in Cairo. It was on one of those summer breaks – and on a feluka – that my heart was fully captured by Egypt, and an Egyptian! I made the decision that after graduation I would move to Egypt to begin my teaching career. And I’ve been here ever since.

I spent the first eight years teaching at various schools in Cairo and the majority of my students were Egyptian children. We learned from each other every day – and we especially enjoyed learning from books. My students eagerly awaited each new story that I shared with them. As I completed my graduate studies focusing on reading and English as a second language, it finally dawned on me that my students had very, very few books that reflected their country, their life, or the people they knew. We read about Thanksgiving and baseball, snowstorms and summer camp, but never about Ramadan or soccer or sandstorms. I searched every bookstore for something they could relate to but found nothing.

So I decided to rectify the situation by creating my own book. And although I first began by writing fictional stories set in Cairo, my passion for learning, language, and photography took over and I ended up writing a nonfiction alphabet book – An ABC Escapade through Egypt. (http://www.bernadettesimpson.com/aboutbook.html)

To complete my project, I took a break from teaching and moved to a small seaside town on the Sinai Peninsula. While technically part of Egypt, Sinai is a different world altogether and one that again encourages me to explore this land – with camera in hand of course, hoping to share the many wonders of modern Egypt with the rest of the world through my photo blog (http://escapadethroughegypt.wordpress.com/).

And while I never actually rode a camel during my student years, I now have one as a neighbor!

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New and Easier to track Tag You’re It page

First off, thank you to all the author’s who have joined and are participating in the Tag My Book on Amazon experiment!

Because of it’s success, we recently added the UK page!

However we have found the original page to now be too long and frankly a little intimidating especially for new folks.  So, I’ve reformatted the “Tag You’re It” page to:

1. Highlight the latest months additions so that new folks get tags straight away!

2. For all other books, they are now listed on links based on the month they were added.  This helps break up tagging for new authors and also helps us folks who have been around for a while keep track of what we have and haven’t tagged.

Let me know what you think of the new page!

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