Welcome to the start of the Christmas Book Fair posts. With over 150 authors in the Cafe I need to start now to make sure that I include everyone on shelves.
I am going to be choosing authors at random so that there is a variety of genres in each post to offer as many gift ideas as possible.
The first author is Ann Patras who shares the story of her family’s life in Africa over three memoirs.. Today the third book in the series, Much More Into Africa, which would make a wonderful gift for adventurous members of the family.
About the book
It is four years since Ann and Ziggy moved with their young family from England to Zambia’s Copperbelt. During this time, their new life experiences and crazy antics were the subject of multitudes of letters to their incredulous family and friends.
Will they continue with their daft escapades now, as they change location to the country’s capital city?
This is where you find out, as the Patras family gets Much More Into Africa.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Here we have the third instalment of Ann. Ziggy and the children’s lives in Africa and like the previous books it does not disappoint. More fun, laughter and adventures, forays into the unknown, giant spiders in the bathroom. As with the previous books this one includes letters written home to the family accompanied by pictures and Ann’s own drawings which are divine.
Ann loves Africa and its people, this all comes through in her unique style of writing which is an easy, relaxed style but always that underlying hint of humour is never far away.
Four years after moving to Kitwe there are big changes in the Patras’ life, Ziggy has changed job and they have now moved to Lusaka. Life soon settles down for the children busy with their school life and her husband with his work, Ann wonders what is there for her. Having left her friends behind she was at a bit of a loss…let’s face it with a houseboy there was little to do around the house.
Ann soon becomes involved with the Lusaka Gymkhana Club and here more fun ensues for the family and her stories of her and the children’s riding adventures were a joy to read about. She recounts their adventures of safaris which had me in awe of the animals, white water rafting experience (more Ziggy’s idea of fun than Ann’s but she enters into the spirit of it) this had me holding onto my seat whilst they were tossed around.
The family spend more time in the UK and it is a pleasure to read more of life for them there. There are also sad times for Ann in the UK and I cried along with her.
There is yet another job change for Ziggy, feeling that Zambia has no more to offer him along comes a change of location so I look forward to more of their adventures in South Africa.
Once again you are drawn into the stories and feel as if you are there experiencing it all with them, it is a totally delightful book to read and I have loved them all so far.
Thank you Ann for a thrilling and exciting read
The other books in the series
Now something for fantasy lovers from Lorinda J. Taylor with The Blessing of Krozem: A Tale of Ziraf’s World
About the book
What would it really be like to be immortal? And how important is the power of friendship and the need for communion with one’s fellow humans? On Ziraf’s World, a planet in a universe far away from ours, an old priest named Gilzara decides to ask the Dreamers for the gift of immortality, and Krozem the Creator of Humankind grants his request, including giving him the power to make others immortal. However, things go tragically wrong; Gilzara’s dying wife refuses the gift, and Gilzara is left to live his immortal life alone.
The Troil, incorporeal spirit beings who also inhabit this world, take it upon themselves to save Gilzara from destroying the token that holds the key to his immortality, but he continues to see himself as a freak and an outcast, unable to relate to any mortal. The Troil teach him the power of venwara – wizardry – and thus fortified, he returns to the human world, desperately searching for a connection. He finds it in Halrab, a young novice priest, and together they set out to climb the Starbell, the highest mountain in Ziraf’s World, the symbol of an unattainable goal.
A recent review for the book on Goodreads
Lorinda J. Taylor’s stated goal is “to write compelling fiction that delivers an emotional impact and leaves her readers with something to think about at the end of each story.” She has certainly done that with The Blessing of Krozem.
Who wouldn’t want to become immortal? Especially in a body that remains forever in a state of health and fitness. That is the gift bestowed on the priest Gilzara, one of the central characters of this book. It comes with the power—indeed, the obligation— to make others immortal as well, and with the expectation that the power is used wisely. But the gift coincides with a great loss for Gilzara, because his wife, Javon, refuses it and dies.
The creators of the world in which the story takes place gave humans free will, but also trick and test them. Because of this, the gift of immortality becomes a curse for Gilzara, a great responsibility to which he believes himself unequal. And as the only immortal human in the world, he is desperately lonely.
The other main character of the book is Halrab, a young apprentice priest whom Gilzara meets decades later, after much sorrowful wandering. Halrab is practical and optimistic, while Gilzara is a tortured soul. The establishment of friendship between the two takes many twists and turns, and constitutes the greater part of the story. Halrab is a sympathetic character. I could identify with him as he solved problems, made choices, and dealt with Gilzara’s many anxieties.
The setting for this story is Ziraf’s World, described in the author’s Afterword as “a fantasy creation in a galaxy far, far away from our own planet.” The world is sort of like Earth, but also quite different. The sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Blue is the planet’s dominant colour. The mountains and even the moon are blue. So is the race of humans to which Gilzara and Halrab belong, although there are rumors of other human races in distant lands. Indeed, this world is full of colours—stars in shades of green, red, purple, and yellow, trees whose blue flowers open by moonlight, and a wealth of other plants and animals, each with distinctive names and characteristics. It’s a mountainous region, and the highest mountain has the captivating name of Starbell. I loved this aspect of the book.
Another group of characters are the Troil, mostly incorporeal spirits attached to winds, waters, caves, and other natural features. Several of them play key roles in advancing the plot. They are rather charming individuals, whose appearance and ways of expressing themselves add an element of lightness.
As with Taylor’s other books, this one includes a constructed language (conlang). I discerned some of its conventions as I read, and there is a glossary at the end. It reinforced the impression of an alien world complete in itself.
For me, the first two-thirds of the story read like a legend set in China, with its communities of priests, mountain and forest shrines, and mentions of distant and powerful deities. I envisioned the plot as though painted on silk scrolls. In the final four chapters, there is a greater degree of tension and immediacy. Crucial revelations are made, and Gilzara either succeeds or fails (I’m not saying which!) in using the blessing with which he is burdened. I could not imagine, when I started reading, what the outcome might be. The ending was satisfying but the story did give me a lot to think about, as its author intended.
A selection of books by Lorinda J. Taylor.
All Lorinda’s books about extraterrestrial intelligent termites, starting with The Termite Queen, pictured, are only 99c on Amazon and Smashwords, through November.
The final the perfect gift for poetry lovers- a collection by Bette A. Stevens that celebrates the beauty the state of Maine.
About My Maine
Inspired by The Pine Tree State—Maine’s diverse landscape, natural beauty, rural communities, and independent people—the author’s 150 haiku poems, along with her photographs, reflect the Maine she knows and loves. Bette A. Stevens’s imagery draws the reader into her world of wonder and delight. My Maine takes readers on a poetic journey through Maine’s four seasons. Whether you’re a native Mainer or from away, Stevens’s short story poems and photographs will resonate.
The collection opens with a haiku tribute, “Maine Pines and People.” The journey continues with the rejuvenating spirit of “Spring Awakenings” and “Summer Songs”; then on to more of the magic and majesty of the places and people of Maine in “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Tales.” This is a poetry collection to be slowly savored, made even more delectable with the author’s original drawings and photographs. In addition to its poems and photographs, My Maine includes state symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.
One of the recent reviews for the collection
Organized by the four seasons, this lovely collection explores the landscape and communal spirit of Maine, through the year, the holidays, the blooms, the change in terrain. It is like a stroll through the town and woods and waters — a visual feast, with gentle and vivid language. Some favorites include:
Shake their heads in wonder to
A spring concerto
From the Master’s hand
Lily of the Valley sings
Memories in our scrapbooks
Seasons travel on
I recommend “My Maine” highly.
Books by Bette A. Stevens
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to give as gifts this Christmas.. thanks Sally.