Review of The City of Dreaming Books

This book by Walter Moers is wonderful combination of fantasy and ridiculous farce. Probably the most imaginative book I’ve ever read with absolutely unique settings, characters, and symbolism. It is told in first person by an author-wannabe-dinosaur named Optimus Yarnspinner. He begins his tale in Lindworm Castle at the deathbed of his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright. Wordwright gives him a manuscript, which he claims to be the greatest piece of writing ever. Upon reading the manuscript, Yarnspinner is so blown away that he feels he has to go to the City of Dreaming Books to find its author. There, Yarnspinner meets the shark grub Pfistomel Smyke, who offers to help find the author. Unfortunately, Smyke is not who he seems; he poisons Yarnspinner with a hazardous book, and maroons him in the city’s catacombs. Here he must watch out for bookhunters, harpies, the fearsome booklings, and the legendary Shadow King.

Will he ever find his way out to become the writer he has heretofore only dreamed of? Read this amazing tale and find out!

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Artania V: Frozen in Time Excerpt

Hugging her knees, Gwen looked up at the sky where a bat suspended on silent wings defied gravity and all logic. The palm trees waited, mid-sway, their motionless fronds pointing at a distant plane hanging amidst stars.

She glanced around. Lacey Zamora’s finger was still poking Coco’s chest. Zach hung mid-air in a surprised leap. The tiki torches continued to cast icy shadows on Jose’s sexy face.

Rising, she stroked Jose’s cheek. His skin was kinda like one of those sculpted people in Artania. Of course, they moved and talked. But Jose… He just stared with eyes as cold as stone.

 Come on Gwen, try something. Anything.

She ducked under Zach’s suspended feet and looked up. The bottom of Mr. GQ’s dress shoes was stamped with a paisley pattern. “You are one stylin’ soul,” she said chuckling at her own pun.

But Zach said nothing.

Stylin’ soul. Get it, Zach?”

Shrugging, Gwen strolled over to the dance floor. Imitated a few kids’ poses. Even got a couple good Charleston kicks in. Paced back over to the pool with its unnatural ripples frozen in time.

When she bent over and saw no reflection, Gwen swallowed hard.

I don’t want to be alone here..

She backed up. A stiff hand caught her hair.

“Let go!” She jerked away but the statue kid’s fingers were still tangled. She recoiled, losing a clump of hair in the process.

Clamping a hand to her head, Gwen streaked for the French doors. She peered inside before bounding down a hallway. “Can you hear me? Someone, anyone!”

Gwen ran faster, dashing from room to room.  She poked a head inside the kitchen where the caterers were in the middle of chopping, slicing, and arranging gourmet hors d’ oeuvres. Turning on a heel, she rushed upstairs to the master bath where a motionless Mrs. Zamora faced a mirror and aimed a lipstick at her mouth.

“Sorry!” Gwen called as she exited, glad she hadn’t caught the woman in a more embarrassing situation.

She raced in one bedroom. Another. Back down the stairs. Down corridors and around corners. Nothing but frozen people everywhere. By the time she returned to the pool, she was out of breath and her red hair was sticking to the sides of her face. She wiped some of the slick sweat from her brow with the back of her hand.  

And waited, hoping for a repeat of the year before.

Last year when the world had frozen in time lightning had crackled the silence. Then, after the low rumbling of thunder and a pop, a confused Mr. Clean had appeared. She thought he was there to save the day, but he had no idea how to start time again.

The two had had tried buko things before finally getting it going. None of which she could do on her own.

“Where are you guys? I need you.”

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Furyborn: A Review

I recently was looking for a new book to read so went onto Goodreads to find some recommendations. One group was reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand and it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. What were my thoughts?

The first chapter pulls you right in with, “The queen stopped screaming just after midnight.” Then you meet a boy given an impossible task and start to root for him, only to change POV and time to years before. This made it challenging for me to continue because I didn’t like Queen Rielle at first and couldn’t relate to her. But I had committed to read the book in a Goodreads group who encouraged me to keep on. I’m glad I did! As the chapters unfold we get to know, Rielle and Eliana, two women struggling to find their way in two different worlds. For years Rielle has hidden the fact that she has all seven of the prophesied powers. When she uses them to save her best friend Prince Audric, Rielle finds herself participating in trials to find out if she truly is the queen of legend. Eliana, on the other hand, is a reluctant assassin. She is doing anything she can to protect her brother and find her kidnapped mother and finds herself waged in a war that is centuries old. She is hiding an important part of herself from the world for fear of how it will be used and who it could hurt. Both women are on separate journeys, but connected in ways they couldn’t imagine. In the end one of these women will save the world and one will doom it. A good start to a new fantasy series!

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Surrealia Calls: Artania V Excerpt

Rubbing the dust from his eyes, Bartholomew Borax III glanced up at the crumbling arch. A few bricks overhead loosened and teetered. “Alex, watch out!” he cried shoving his best friend out of the way.

Alex fell against a wrought iron post. The mass of bricks plummeted downward as the curly-headed fifteen-year-old bounced off the gaslight. He landed on all fours panting and the bricks crashed onto the path with a tremendous boom. Choking dust swirled, darkening the afternoon sky.

Bartholomew knelt at his side. “You okay?”

Coughing, Alex gave him a thumbs-up.

The ground rumbled again, and long jagged cracks appeared. They widened and muddy heads emerged from the splintered soil.

Alex gasped. “Shadow Swine?”

Bartholomew pulled his friend to his feet and backed up. “Lions! Help us!”

With a roar, the carved lions overhead leaped off their coat of arms perch and vaulted over to the boys. They bowed their stony heads and faced the emerging army.

“It won’t be enough,” Alex said.

Bartholomew turned his head right and left. True art? True art? What can I create here?

He had only been in this unfamiliar place for scant minutes so didn’t know the lay of the land. But after multiple journeys into the mystical Artania, the blonde boy had learned that if he could work paint, clay, or wood, the Creation Magic would do the rest. He and his fellow Deliverer Alex had made amazing things these past five years. From swords to skateboards and dragons to great snakes they had wrought weapons and comrades in this long war against the Shadow Swine.

But still Sickhert’s army returned. Ever stronger. With new tricks and powers.

Like today.

The lion on the right snarled at an approaching Shadow Swine. Alex grabbed Bartholomew by the collar. “We have to do something.”

Bartholomew felt dry leaves crunch under foot and stepped back. He kicked at a pile. Then he saw them fluttering through the air and wondered. It just might work. He closed his eyes and focused on the image. Scooping up a handful, he turned to Alex.  “Remember Subterranea? They battled well.”

“Of course. I should have thought of that.” Bending down, Alex brushed away more leaves exposing the moist soil below. He plunged his hands into the clay and formed them into a mound.

Bartholomew plopped some leaves onto Alex’s s pile. Then more and more.

The two boys molded the materials into an animal shape. Without a word, they both knew where to place their hands. They scooped, pulled, and smoothed as if their minds were one. Hands tugged and pressed, sculpting faster and faster.  A leg appeared. Then another. Paws. A larger-than-life head. Soon, they were moving at the speed of light. 

One final pinch, and the sculpture shimmered. Fur sprouted all over its body. Two silvery eyes looked up at them. Bartholomew sat back on his haunches and smiled. “Glorious.”

He had but a microsecond to admire the work before the Swiney was upon them. With a long swipe of his battle axe, the pig-nosed creature tossed the first stone lion aside. He raised an arm to attack the second when the newly sculpted wolf lowered its head and butt him in the gut.

The Swiney toppled over.

“More!” Alex scooped up a fresh handful of mud and the boys repeated their sculpting performance, this time faster than the speed of light. Within seconds half a dozen wolves were growling and snapping at the jack-booted army.

For a moment all was silence. Then as if a great unmute button had just been pressed; a cacophonous roar filled the air. Wolves ripped into the hunchbacked Swineys. One stone lion leapt at a tall Shadow Swine, knocking the monster on its back. The second feline hurdled toward a dog Mudlark with red glowing eyes, one ear completely gone and the other in jagged shreds. The black lab’s contorted face was scarred and twisted as if raking claws had hollowed out great swaths of skin.

 Two snarling wolves closed in on a spike wielding Swiney. The monster swung once. Twice. Three times. The newly formed canines dodged and snapped at his heels. Then the larger wolf clamped down on the Shadow Swine’s trench coat. He stumbled.

Bartholomew had just dug up a handful of soil to form a sword when he felt the vibration. His hand began to shimmer. Shaking his head, he glanced over at Alex who appeared to be filled with sparkling glitter. He shrugged at his best friend.

And Artania faded from view.

The excerpt above is from the first chapter of my upcoming novel, Artania V: Persistence of Memory. The scene takes place at the Arc de Triumf in Barcelona in the early 1900’s. Of course, since it’s Artania all of the sculptures in and around the arch are alive.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Portal Rift: An Artanian Excerpt

Far away, in a magical art-created land, the sculpted Thinker gazed into his steely hand as sparks fizzled down his bronze arm. The images of Alex flickered in his palm and faded.

How could this be? Alexander shouldn’t be seeing visions; nor traveling to Artania and back. Never had one Deliverer traversed their worlds without his knowledge, much less two.

He thought back. For millennia, every time a human lifted a paint brush or dipped hands in clay, a wondrous being, like himself, had been born. Over time, Artania’s population grew into a perfect blend of watercolor, collage, and mosaics; a mix of multihued lives.

As art changed, separate countries emerged. From the Renaissance Nation where the competing Michelangelo & Leonardo watched over Mona Lisa to the Land of Antiquities where Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods raced over sands to Gothia where medieval knights fought dragons; he had watched his world expand.

Until the time of danger.

Shadow Swine horrors were becoming all too common. The new millennium brought constant tales of Sickhert’s army attacking from their underground lair. With increasing frequency, they pulled his brethren below to become mindless slaves. Or, at chosen times, they opened their horrible mouths, and with great slurps, swallowed brilliant chunks of this land’s beauty.

Like a fading photo, every bite turned the earth whiter causing the Blank Canvas to grow. Now they were attacking the Impressionist Republic, that place where muted light and color capture a moment in time.

Closing his bronze fist, The Thinker lifted his gaze to the man in the bushy beard and linen suit in the wooden chair opposite. His words echoed in the nearly empty cafe as he spoke. “The Shadow Swine seem to have some new power. I fear for the soft hues of this land.”

Claude Monet took a long draught on the stub of a cigar in his mouth and blew a wisp of smoke over The Thinker’s head. “As do I.”

“The Blank Canvas grows.”

“Oui, there have been reports of new areas bleached white. The sinking village of the Alps.”

“When you ceased dipping brush in paint.”

Monet looked at his feet and nodded sadly. “I was immersed in depression.”

“Do not berate yourself, friend. It was he who painted you. His poverty got the best of him and no one, not even I, could have altered that.”

“Gauguin would argue otherwise.”

“Is he spouting more talk of revolution?”

“Larger crowds come to listen. Many say you are growing old and unable to lead us.”

“My strength does not wane with age but with the belief in the power of creation.”

“I know that, but others do not.”

The Thinker shook his head. “It seems that no matter how hard we try; it is never enough. The Shadow Swine capture more and more of our kind.”

“We are weighed down, every moment, by the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping this nightmare: pleasure and work. Work strengthens us.”

“True. I only hope Bartholomew realizes this before it’s too late.” The Thinker shook his head.

“Yet now he struggles.”

“Leaving ripples of despair here. If he’d just–”

The Thinker heard a buzz. Then a whine. The gaslights in the café began to flicker. Tilting a confused head to one side, the sculpted man glanced up. Every glass lampshade was quivering and expanding as if Vulcan was filling each with superheated magma.

As the sound amplified into a din, Monet dug his boots into the floor and scooted his chair back. Although a painting, Thinker knew that his friend could be injured as easily as any human and rose to protect his ally.

Diving over the table, he extended his bronze arms and tackled the gaping painter to cover the creation’s body with his own. A moment later, the crystal globes exploded in a deafening blast, shooting glass in all directions.

Streaming shards sharp as knives rained down. The Thinker pushed Monet beneath the table.

Strong back heaving, he glanced to the side at the blinking barkeep, now dusted with glass shards. A few slivers jutting from the painted man’s balding scalp began to bleed.

“Help me,” he said, lip quivering.

Artania’s leader had just begun to stand when a hissing sound from under the floorboards stopped him mid-crouch.

A stunned Monet angled a finger at the ground where rotten steam rose from cracks in the wood. “Shadow Swine, here?”

White tendrils twisted upward filling the café with sulfuric fumes. Then, as if someone were using a crowbar to pry them open, the floorboards next to the bar began to part, and a dark arm slithered from the opening.

The barkeep gasped, stepping back. Opened and closed his mouth in silent screams. The arm grasped him by the ankle and the painted man stumbled. He fell against the wall.

The crack in the floor widened, swallowing half his leg, then a thigh and soon his hips.

Arms outstretched, Thinker vaulted toward the barkeep, crossing the room in two strides.

He reached out, clutching at air.

It was too late. The injured barman was gone. Another water-colored being taken below to become a mindless slave in Subterranea.

“No!” he cried as the floorboards closed.