Monday, 29 August 2016

The Rise of Aredor - A Book Review

So recently I got invited to this Goodreads discussion board thing. 

I know, right. I've just got such a way with words. (Sometimes I wonder how in the world I ever became a writer.)

But anyway. On this board (Christian Book Reviews) there's a place where a bunch of authors (mostly indie (for those who don't know, that means self-published) I think) are offering their books for free in exchange for an honest review.

Naturally I was totally in.


Free books turn me into an evilly cackling maniac.

My first book was The Rise of Aredor by Claire M. Banschbach. And no, I have no clue how to pronounce her surname. To be honest, I've been putting off even thinking about trying.

And so I was super excited to get the ebook (because FREE BOOKS PEOPLE) and I read it in the next three days. It even got four pretty stars. Wherefore I decided to post the review on my blog because...why not?

The blurb:

Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. 

When Corin sets foot on Aredor's shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin's former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. 

Follow Corin's path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor. (Dun dun dun dunnnnn) 
(note: that bit wasn't in the original blurb. I added it. For no particular reason as far as I know at this stage. I've just always wanted too.)

'Kay. Where to start? A review...get your thoughts into a pile of radioactive junk, Jane, the readers wanna hear a review ( you? Or are you just gonna skip over the post?). I rather enjoyed this. The overall plot and story was really pretty cool.

Corrin/Hamid (uh-huh, he has two names. Kinda cool actually) was an interesting main character. At first he wasn't quite realistic and I didn't connect with him as much as I wanted to but then around 1/4 of the way through I started connecting with him. And he was great after that. And his Robin Hood stage - just epic. At the moment, most everything Robin Hood gets me interested. (I am kinda writing my own retelling so...)

The plot was cool, and quite original and page-turning. The entire beginning felt a bit like a side-track and it dragged out a bit. Possibly one of the factors in that was because I'd been expecting the entire plot to be mostly just re-taking Aredor when that only really started in the second half, but it was still all cool.

The writing style itself felt a bit forced every now and then, but alright overall. The part that threw me a bit was some of the battle scenes in the first half where they sounded a bit like a detailed history book. But mostly, it was fine.

The characters were reasonably well written. The backstory and friendships everyone had, and how that effected their lives was amazingly detailed for several of them (Aiden and Corrin, I'm looking at you). In the second half I got a little confused with all the new names popping up everywhere and I couldn't keep track of who was who, but that might just be my brain. (Or I may have accidentally skipped a few pages somewhere. Who knows. I still haven't gotten used to ebooks, and I probably won't ever. Paperbacks forever!) I think even by the end, there were a few faceless names around. But for the main characters, I enjoyed experiencing the story through their eyes. (Although that could have possibly been because I was like "Phew, I actually know who you are...I'm pretty sure. You're the same one as from chapter two, right? You haven't switched or anything?")

The Point Of View changes were a bit distracting at times when it just slipped from Emeth's brain into Hamid and then back again. Whenever it happened I was drawn out of the story and it took a page or two to really get back in again. Too much brain switching makes me dizzy.

At the beginning I was slightly put out by the fact that when the character got a beating it was all impersonal and I wanted to actually see everything happen even though it would've been painful.  (haha, you all know I'm just saying that for how it looks. I wouldn't have minded at all.) Then a bit further through I was much happier. Lion mauling always adds a nice touch of tension and excitement. To be honest, it was probably my favourite scene. Oops. That may or may not be a good thing. I'm rather one for blood and gutsy stuff in books, I admit. Give me aall the suffering and feels.

So on that note, the ending was also really cool. [SPOILER] Almost dying of poison? COOL. With no possible antidote that has been invented. Super cool. Oh this character about to actually die this time? [END SPOILER] And the fact that the underlying Christian theme came out just a tad more at the end was perfect. It was one of those well done Christian themes where it just lay under the surface. There, but not at all preachy. It was really good. The ending was great.

So basically I recommend The Rise of Aredor to Christian Fantasy-with-no-magic-well-not-really lovers. It could've been better, but I managed to look past the faults and get into the story. If you start and the beginning seems to lag, don't worry, the second half is the best bit. 

An easy, creative and unique read.

And I'll have you know that my actual Goodreads review didn't include quite this much rambling. It was really weird and exciting to write: I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review. Because I've seen that written on other cool bookdragon's reviews and choked on jealousy but now it's ME writing it.


I still haven't worked out whether that excitement helped toward the 4-star rating or not. 

Hopefully not. It was probably the lion-mauling and dagger-stabbing and poison-dying (oops, spoilers) that did it.

So tell me, how do you feel about free books?

Oh, and before I leave, do you like reading Book Review posts? 
Should I do 'em more often? (feel free to give me a sarcastic eyebrow-raise and walk away shaking your head at another blogger slipping into the book-reviewing posts, only warn me before I fall too far)

Fair Winds!

|| Jane Maree ||

Friday, 26 August 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Judging Justly

Hey-o everyone!

Eggh, these titles are getting gradually harder to think of. I mean, choosing something alliterating from the selection of J, K, L, O, Q, X, Y, Z? It's not the easiest.

But it makes for some funny (and very random) ideas suggested. 

Honestly, I'm just dreading when I'm left with X, Y and Z. *cringes*

Apparently people are in slight uncertainty whether they wanted me to say my one won thing so half of you voted for option one and the other half for option three. So Inmates in the Island's Inland ended up with equal votes for both. And so I wrote them both combined...sorta...good enough anyway.

Hope you enjoy. :)

“Change of plans. I don’t know about you,” Warin started to stand, “But I’m not sitting here letting that happen.”

I grabbed his arm, fear clenching my throat. “Something isn’t right here,” I said, a cold touch of dread tingling the back of my neck.

“What do you mean?” he asked, glancing down, eyes flashing.

“It’s...I don’t know. Something just isn’t right.” Goosebumps prickled up my arms.

“I agree,” Warin scowled, pulling his arm away and standing. “And that’s what’s not right.” He strode from the shadows toward the brawling pirates.

“Wait no!” I scrambled out after him, stumbling over a stick. “I thought we agreed not to just walk right in.”

Warin didn’t reply, his tense form radiating fury as he continued toward the group. Reaching the cheering pirates unnoticed, he shoved forward between them, stepping between them and Altin.

I ran over the sand, my feet slipping as it squeaked under my weight. I ducked between the pirates in time to see one man reel back, stumbling over into the sand from the force of Warin’s punch.

All the men froze, staring at Warin.

Then Rantu began to laugh, slowly at first then getting louder until his face flushed a bright pink.

Warin stood rigid, his sword sliding from its sheath, blade red in the firelight. 

“So you’ve come back for more, eh?” he asked, choking down the laughter. “Captain Wielder, protector of the innocent.” He snorted a laugh again. “I hope you see how ridiculous that is.”

“What about how ridiculous you look?” I asked before I could stop the words.

Every eye turned to me and I clamped my mouth shut, swallowing back any more stupid words.

Rantu glowered, no sign of the cruel humour left.

Why had I said anything? I slapped myself inwardly, wishing I could unsay the words.

No matter how true they were.

Warin lifted the point of his sword toward Rantu’s over-large nose. “If any man wishes to fight, he can come to me. Only a coward attacks girls.”

Rantu narrowed his eyes, stepping back from the threat of the sword up his nose. “Now now, Wielder. Do you really think you’re in a position for making threats?”

“I don’t know Rantu. You tell me. Are you?” Warin asked.

The pirate captain’s eyes flicked to someone behind me, and he nodded.

A thick arm wrapped around my waist pulling me off my feet. The cold edge of a dagger touched against my throat and I stifled a scream.

Warin spun, his sword up ready.

“I’d,” Rantu said smoothly.

Warin’s knuckles went white on the hilt of his sword. “Did I mention the coward part?” he asked, voice low and furious.

Rantu laughed. “Not a coward, simply a man who takes the advantages offered him and uses them to his best purposes. The weak and innocent will always be your downfall, Wielder.”

My breath came tightly, the dagger against my throat seeming to block the air. Why was it always me?

The pirate held me off my feet, so only my toes brushed the sand, giving me no chance of struggling away.

Altin, half lying on the ground, squirmed forward toward me. Something metal in his hand flashed in the light of the fire.

If no one noticed he might make it.

Another moment.

He was going to make it.

Then a pirate’s boot kicked out, taking Altin in the stomach. He hunched into a ball, the knife flying from his grasp with a convulse of pain.

His dark blue eyes met mine, fear masking over the pain.

Fear for me.

Why would he care about me?

“Your pride will be your downfall.” Warin spat in the sand.

“Pride? No. I have no need of pride.” A cruel smile played across Rantu’s lips.

“Then I will be,” Warin snarled.

Rantu tsked at him, shaking his head slowly. “Did I not say that you weren’t in a position to be making threats?”

As a group, the pirates nearest Warin drew their long daggers, stepping forward around him.

I felt a sob of helplessness choke in my throat.

It couldn’t end like this.

I could barely breathe. Fear was blocking off my windpipe, suffocating me in its folds.

The pirates took another step closer, almost within reach of Warin’s long sword.

“Do you have any more idle threats up your sleeve?” Rantu asked, his dagger gleaming.

“None idle,” Warin said. “But if you care to glance over your shoulder, you might see that I am not alone.”

Rantu laughed. “We won’t fall for that trick, Wielder. Think of something original.”

“How about if I say that your ship is burning?” Warin asked calmly.

More than one pirate looked over their shoulder, including the man holding me.

There was a moment of silence as they tried to comprehend what they saw.

Then chaos broke loose.

The dagger at my throat slipped away and I kicked backward, my heel connecting with the pirate’s shin. He jerked back with a howl, and I dropped, falling sideways into the fire.

The glowing orange coals crunched under my hands sending sparks flaring up into the sky, I rolled to the side desperately. Agony blistered up my palms, and I gasped, hunching over and pressing the burnt skin into the cold sand. 

White lines jagged the edges of my vision.

Warin grabbed my arm, hauling me to my feet. “Run, before they notice.”

He ran across the sand toward the nearest trees, his arm under Altin’s as he half-dragged the battered Gypsy Boy at a run.

I staggered forward, almost falling headlong into the sand as a piece of driftwood rolled underfoot.

My pulse pounded through my ears, pain screaming from my hands. The sand slid uncertainly beneath me as I reeled across the beach toward the trees.

Shouts of pursuing pirates echoed from behind and I scrambled faster, blocking out everything but the trees.

I had to reach the trees.

Warin was almost at them, and I forced myself to run faster. My legs wavered beneath me and I stumbled, picking myself up and struggling on again.

Just a little longer.

Just to the trees.

I tripped on a tuft of grass, almost falling again, but Warin was there. He hooked his free arm below mine, pulling me onward.

“You can do it,” he said.

I just wanted to stop and collapse on the ground. Forget about the pirates, forget Marius. Forget this whole adventure.

I just wanted it all to stop.

“Louise, you’ve got to keep going. I can’t carry you both.” Warin’s voice was sharp.

“I can’t,” I choked on the words, a weary sob catching in my throat.

“Yes you can.” Warin pulled me on, his arm supporting me as I stumbled again.

The thudding squeak of footsteps behind us was drawing closer. They would catch up any moment.

Trees loomed up on either side of us and Warin dived forward, weaving around a thick moss-hung trunk.

With an echoing roar from above, three dark figures dropped just in front of us, swords raised and ready. I screamed, trying to jerk back.

“Come on,” Warin said, teeth gritted.

The figures charged past, running at the pirates with bellows of rage.

Our men.

The men who had been searching for Altin from the trees.

Before I could feel relief, Warin stumbled, falling against a tree, panting heavily. Altin slipped from his grasp, slumping limply to the ground.

Shouts of alarm and terror echo from the beach and then the three men where beside us again, one picking up Altin and slinging him over his shoulder.

“Dark figures from the trees,” Warin gasped, a faint smile on his lips. “This island must be haunted after all.”

“Are you alright capt’in?” one man grunted the question, sheathing his sword at his belt.

“Perfectly,” Warin nodded.

The blistering pain in my hands throbbed through my mind, stars dancing past my eyes. I swayed, almost collapsing.

Warin caught me, arms supporting me before I could fall. “Hold on, Louise,” he said, breath brushing against my ear. “We’ll get you back to the Rift.”

“I’ll find the others,” a voice on my left said, and running footsteps crunched away.

“Do you think you can run?” Warin asked.

I blinked to clear my mind, swallowing several times. “Y-yes, I think so.”

The shouting from the beach started drawing nearer again.

“Time to find out,” Warin said grimly, starting forward, his arm still around me.

My heart thumped in time with our footsteps, pounding through my mind, every beat sending a new flare of pain.

More stars flecked across my vision.

How long could I go on for before I collapsed?

Vines caught at my hair, tugging at the impossible tangles, grasping at the light linen of my shirt. It was almost as if they wanted to stop me.

I wouldn’t let them.

I couldn’t.

Warin’s breath was panting beside me, though I could barely see his outline in the dark. More footsteps joined us as the rest of the pirates came from their places, scrambling over logs and through undergrowth, praying that no one stepped on a snake.

If anyone was left behind there was no way of telling until the morning.

The darkness was impossible to penetrate.

Only the sounds of running. Of crashing through the bushes and ferns, of falling over logs, stumbling into another crewman in the dark.

What if I had gone blind?

Panic started tightening my throat, making it hard to breathe. My legs crumpled beneath me and Warin scooped me up, barely hesitating as he started to carry me.

Slowly the light seemed to be getting brighter again. The trees were thinning, undergrowth growing sparser.

Warin stumbled to one knee, setting me down, his chest heaving with exertion.

I stood, swaying as the blistering pain throbbed across my palms. 

Where were we?

“Warin?” I turned back to his gasping figure.

“Don’t worry. Keep going as best you can. I’ll be fine.” He waved a hand, the action just visible in the star light.

I stumbled forward a few steps, hearing the grunt breath of the crew as they staggered after me.

Keep going.

We had to get to the Rift.

I took another step and the ground disappeared from under my foot, sucked away by some hidden force.


1. “The swamp!” a pirate to my left yelled, his feet disappearing under him as the ground sunk away.

2. I fell headlong, slithering and rolling down an unseen slope in the darkness.

3. Something cold as ice wrapped around my legs, dragging me down. Into Darkness.


And there we go. If the title is totally unrelated to anything...sorry. I couldn't think up anything better. :)

I'm excited to see how you guys liked today's part.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Monday, 22 August 2016

40 Hour Famine - Recap


So. Now that we've gotten past that nice intro that makes everyone relieved because they wanted to hear the ending of my story, I can move onto the important facts.


Would you believe it? Shocking, right?

I thought that I could share with all what it was like to not-eat for 40 hours. Several of these things are stuff I wrote while it was happening, other stuff is what I remembered and attempting to guess what time it was when it happened.

Friday 6:30 - we finished dinner. This is it. Ate extra lots so it would take longer before I was hungry again. Officially 'started.'

Fri 6:40- licked the burrito meat spoon (after considering the consequences: decided it was worth it anyway) and had to delay the official beginning back a couple of minutes.

Fri 8-9:30 - watched "Anastasia" (the bat thingy was HILARIOUS) then went to bed.

Saturday 7:00 - woke up feeling hungry. Well...that didn't take long. Lay around in bed for a while because...there wasn't much inspiration for getting up.

Sat 7:30 - sat at the breakfast bench and watched my little 2 year old sister complaining that she 'didn't like' her breakfast. At least she was allowed to eat it. Pretended that drinking a glassful of water was satisfying enough for breakfast.

Sat 8-9:30 - wrote some Monsieur Scattlocke for much shorter time than normal because the lack of breakfast was making me uninspired.

Sat 10:00 - my stomach rumbled. Woe is me. Disappeared into my bedroom and had a stomach grumbling party with Alice. It's amazing how weird it felt; when you're stomach growls, you naturally want to go eat something but...nope. I attempted to console myself with the fact that there was only a bit over 24 hours left. I discovered that 24 hours left is not a very consoling statement.

Sat 10:30-12:45 - (that time is just a rough guess) distracted myself rather successfully with reading my friend and cabin mate Savannah Perran's (more commonly known to some as Savvy) novella Killing Snow. It was cool. I mean, beta reading for friends is always cool, but it's extra cool when the book's also cool. Like, Snow White retelling with Snow as the villain? COOL. Assassins and mass murderers? DOUBLE COOL. Bards? Airships? Futuristic? I AM TOTALLY IN THIS FOR LIFE. So yeah, it was pretty cool.

Sat 1:00 - Alice dared to bring out the things I had been dreading: barley sugars. The only thing you're allowed to eat (presumably so the sugar gives you energy and stuff), and basically everyone you ask tell you they are horrible (and they're fluro orange *shudders*). I ate one, it wasn't as bad as I had expected. We decided that since we went this long without eating anything maybe we should have two each.

Sat 1:30 - may or may not have gone hyper from the sugar overload...

Sat 2-4:00 - wrote out my beta reader comments for Killing Snow. Didn't have enough time to send them off and had to start getting ready for a friend's 18th bonfire birthday party.

Sat 4:30 - Traveled the half an hour to the party. In the car, it was very strange. I sat still almost the entire time. I NEVER sit still. Normally: I sit, my legs are jiggling, fingers tapping. Then: NOTHING. I honestly just couldn't be bothered to move at all. It was very weird. I was sitting there just staring at myself because it almost felt like my body wasn't mine, At least I was still breathing and still alive. Always a plus.

Sat 5-8:30 - at bonfire party, trying to ignore my dear sister Clare's taunting as she eats chips really loud next to my ear, or flaunts past with a sausage and bread. Luckily Sarah (known to some as Ninja) was a nicer friend and actually half-starved with me just to be nice. I successfully made Zach (it was his party) wary most of the night because of my threatening hints that I might have a glitter bomb birthday present for him. Unfortunately I just couldn't have been bothered to do anything so it was nothing all along. He was still wary though, so it was definitely worth it. Sat talking stories with Sarah while Clare grinned at me as she ate pavlova. NOT FAIR. Pav is the best. (Also, random question for my American followers, do you know what pavlova is? (And I just discovered like, three seconds ago, that pavlova isn't actually an Aussie/NZ thing...uh, okay. Still, I want know if you eat it)) At least there was no pizza (although it had been threatened).

Sat 8:30-9:30 - got home very exhausted and tired. The strange thing was that it wasn't the normal tired. Not the 'my eyes are tired of seeing, my body has no more strength to do anything' but it was a 'I'M HUNGRYYY AND I COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO MAKE MYSELF DO ANYTHING EXCEPT SLEEP' (or eat, but I wasn't about to just give up). Also, my brain was like a slug. Or there's the way I put it at the time...which was slightly...creative? This is something I wrote at nine to my cousin:

My brain is mush. It don’t think proper. Won’t. Wow. I’m completely mad. And tired. 
Soup. That’s what my brain is. My brain is soup. 
Hmm...I like soup.
Soup is nice.
Even Broccoli soup, although I’ve never had any. 
Right now, broccoli soup would be just wonderful.
Or pumpkin.
Pumpkin soup is good.
My brain is also a bit like roast pumpkin.
It looks hard on the outside but inside = MUSHY

Aaand I might've skipped out several of the more crazy lines...You get the picture though.

Sat 9:30-Sunday 7:00 - Slept. Or tried to at least. Getting to sleep was easy, but the rest of the night?...not so much. I woke up, felt hungry, rolled over, went back to sleep. An hour later: woke up, felt hungry, rolled over, went back to sleep. Eventually it was morning though and I could wake up properly and just feel hungry.

Sun 7:30-9:00 - Had a purposefully long shower to give everyone else time to eat breakfast while I was occupied, lay on the bedroom floor reading the bible. Alice and I both agreed wholeheartedly that we didn't need to eat any barley sugars. I knew they'd probably give me more energy and be good for me but I honestly could stand the thought of eating one. I was hungry for something savoury. At normal times, sweet isn't my thing, but when I'm hungry, definitely not. So we kept lying on the floor instead.
Clare came in and decided Alice and I looked completely dead just lying there. I disagreed. I felt uninspired to move, yeah, but dead? *checks breathing* Nope, I'm all good. 

After a while I decided to move and started playing guitar. I played around a bit and...the weirdest thing, when I stopped because it was time to go to church I had a bunch of energy. Nowhere near what I normal have, but it was there. For no reason. It was cool.

Sun 9:30-10:40 - church. It was one of those very rare weeks when our family wasn't actually on anything so we could just come. It was hungry, and surprisingly hard to sing while your stomach is in a perpetual state of almost-grumbling. 

Sun 10:45 - DONE! The first thing we ate was a cubic centimeter of bread for communion. I don't think it's ever tasted that good before. When the service was done we started eating through a packet of Saos (for those who don't know what these are *clears throat* *finds definition on google* Sao biscuits are a savoury cracker biscuit that was launched in Australia in 1906 blah blah blah, you get it now. They're pretty nice. Eating them with Vegemite is quite tasty.) and I'm pretty sure we only ate half the packet between us...

Sun 11:15 - Alice and I went shopping to buy a hot roast chicken or two for a celebratory lunch (YUM).

Sun 12-1:00 - got home, started making lunch. Ate lunch (YUMMY YUM). Basically: WE LIVED!

It was a really cool experience, and I can think of tons of reasons to do it. It made me actually think about all those other people who don't have the blessing of as much food as they want. It raised money toward supporting them (not my insane 5,000 goal that I honestly wasn't expecting to meet anyway. but enough to bless many lives). I realised how blessed I am, with all the things God has given me.

And naturally I had to bring this up: I'll now be able to write more accurately what it's like to actually be hungry. Which is cool.

So the big question, am I doing it again next time?


My mum used to do it every year for quite a while, and I've always thought it was a kind of interesting idea. So I want to do it again, help out those people who are hungry and don't have the privileges of a hot chicken after 40 hours. It's not much, but it's something (uh, the helping out, not the hot chicken. THAT was something).

What about you? Do you want to give it a shot one year?

Now I can go back to jittering around, eating pizza (virtual and real) and hopefully sparing a thought for those who don't have such things.

This post was actually surprisingly longer than I expected. Hopefully it didn't drag on too much. :)
So, do you know what pavlova is?
(If so, have you eaten any?)

Jane Maree

Friday, 19 August 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Inmates in the Island's Inland

You guys remember that post I did last week (wow, was that only last week?) about how I'm doing the 40 hour famine? Well. That starts today...Yeah. I'm terrified, but it's gonna be great. 

And hard. 

But great.

A bit like writing actually. Hard (sometimes), but IT'S WHAT I DO! And I love it. 

I mean, er...why would I be doing it otherwise?

Enough about that, anyway. Adventuring After Altin got the most diverse votes we've had for a while. *checks back* Uh...yeah. A while. Like, three weeks. ( Excuse me, Bob. Three weeks is totally a long time)

Ahem. But in the end, option three won, so I don't get to say my one won one thing this time.

And something really cool I wanted to tell you all, I had no clue what was going to happen but I still finished the story at ten twenty. In the morning (heh, yeah, morning. Not night. That wouldn't be good). After starting at about...eightish? So yeah. That's pretty exciting.

Well, I thought it was at least.

“What’s happening?” Warin’s sharp voice barked in my ear. “Someone check around for a snake, she’s been hurt somehow.”

You cannot hide away forever.

You were destined to come to me...

The agony ripped through me, blinding everything else.

Let me show you...

Marius crouches in the Darkness, struggling and twisting against the iron shackles that hold him to the cold stone wall. The steady dripping of water is the only other sound.

Then a slow, cold laugh chuckles its way out from the darkness, coming from every direction at the same time. Echoes bounce off the walls, multiplying the sound thousands of time louder than it started.

A man steps forward, hood shadowing his face, shrouded in fabric Darkness.

Water splashed over my face, jerking me from the dream. I lurched up, gasping and panting.

Warin was crouched beside me. “Are you alright?” he asked, eyes worried.

I swallowed, the back of my throat dry and hoarse. “I—I think so.”

“What was it?” another man asked with a frown. “There ain’t no snake, and you ain’t deid.”

“I...” My throat was dry again. “I don’t know.”

Warin looked at me, a concerned frown creasing his brows. “Perhaps you should stay on the ship,” he suggested.

I shook my head, stumbling to a stand. “No. I’m coming,” I insisted.

The gathered pirates glanced uncomfortably at me and then at one another.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Louise?” Warin asked, his expression genuinely worried.

“I think I’d be safer with you,” I pointed out stubbornly, doing my best to stop my hands from shaking.

I couldn’t be left behind again.

I couldn’t just sit around waiting.

What was the point of travelling all this way if I was just going to hide?

No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t run from everything.

Drawing a deep breath, I squared my shoulders.

“I can do it.”

Warin pressed his lips into a thin line. “Very well.” He didn’t sound completely convinced.

A cold tendril trailed down my spine and I glanced over my shoulder.

The island blurred on the horizon, the dark line of trees shifting in the mist.

I shivered.

What was happening to me?

“Louise?” Warin’s hand touched my shoulder. “I can take you back to the Rift if—”

“I’m fine,” I interrupted, blinking my eyes clear and turning toward him.

His eyes showed his concern.

“It was just a sort of thing.”

He nodded slowly. “If it starts again. Tell me.” It sounded more like a request than a command.

I crossed my arms over my stomach, locking them in place to stop their shaking. “I...I’ll try,” I promised.

Warin kept his eyes on me for a moment longer before turning away.

I could tell he wasn’t satisfied.

The forest wavered in speckled light as the sun peeked over the horizon. Golden rays touched the topmost branches, but shadow lay thick down below.

Warin led the way, pushing through undergrowth carefully, stopping short and skirting around a narrow-eyed serpent lying across a fallen log dappled with sunlight.

I focused on the light, trying not to notice the shifting shadows that waved like tendrils of Darkness.

Every movement in my peripheral vision made me jump.

Every whisper of breath kept me on edge.

What was happening to me?

A snake slithered through the bushes to my left, its tail disappearing beneath a fern frond.

Focus, I told myself, stop thinking about it. You’re not afraid of the Dark.

Except I was.

The walk blurred into a maze of trees. Hung with vines and moss, and all exactly the same as the one before. I couldn’t tell one from another.

Luckily Warin knew the way, he led steadily through the forest without hesitation, pausing at midday for a short rest.

It was late afternoon when we reached the pirate camp.

Crouching hidden in the bushes, we watched the tall, brawny men of Rantu’s crew raising tankards of rum or heaving about massive barrels of supplies. Rantu himself was sprawled by a fire, laughing broadly.

“Now what?” I asked Warin.

He glanced sidelong. “Haven’t you come up with a brilliant plan yet?” he asked.


“Now we find out where Gypsy Boy is,” Warin said with a half smile.

“By the bli—”

Captain Wielder clamped a hand over the crewman’s mouth. “We’ve got a lady aboard, bucko, none of that talk,” he said sternly.

The man ducked his head. “Sorry captain. Sorry m’ lady.”

“By all means continue what you were saying though,” Warin invited. “Just skip the first part.”

“We’re just going ter walk right in?” he asked.

“No,” Warin snorted. “I don’t fancy another try on what happened last time we tried that.”

“Last time?” I raised my eyebrows, glancing back toward the pirate camp. “What happened?”

“Not sure you want to know, lass,” a crewman rumbled from behind me.

Warin’s lips twisted into a wry smile. “It didn’t end well,” he admitted.

I looked from Warin to the rest of the crew. “Alright. I agree. We won’t do that then, whatever that was.”

“He’ll either still be on board the ship, or tied to some stake somewhere,” Gripper muttered, running his finger along the blade of his dagger to test that it was sharp.

“If he’s on the ship, it’ll be relatively easy,” Warin said. “Stake, not so much.”

“You had a plan though, right?” I reminded him.

“Yeah. We get here. We see if we’re all alive. We find Gypsy Boy. We get him. We run.” Warin narrowed his eyes at the camp. “That’s the plan.”

That’s the plan?” I repeated in disbelief. “You call that a plan?”

“It was vague, I’ll admit. But the more vague, the less details that can be ruined. At this stage we’ve got here, all alive. Next step is to find Gypsy Boy.”

“And then get him and run,” I said flatly.

“You’re catching on,” Warin smiled.

“Those are pretty big details to go wrong,” I pointed out.

Warin finally looked my way. “Do you have a better plan?”

I thought for a moment. “Three men climb the highest trees they can find close to here and scan the camp from above. If they can’t see Gypsy Boy, two others swim out to the ship and search that. If he’s on the ship, they grab him and swim back, and we can do the running part. If he’s not there, or the people from the trees do see him...” I blinked rapidly, trying to think of some plan. “If they do see him, then...”

“Then what?” Warin prompted, his eyes alight.

“Then we set their ship on fire,” I said, inspiration coming.

Warin sat back. “We set the ship on fire?”

I nodded. “The sails should catch pretty well, right? And the ropes would burn easily.”

The captain rubbed his neatly trimmed beard, eyes fixed on the ground. “I guess we could give it a shot,” he said eventually.

Gripper broke out into a grin. “She’s a brilliant lass, I tell ye! Makes a fine crew member.”

“She does that,” Warin said, looking consideringly at me for a moment. Then he shifted, turning to his crew. “Right lads. You heard the plan. Three climbers. Up the tallest trees you can find. And don’t be seen.”

With a scuffle of movement, three men crawled backward away from the edge of the trees, disappearing into the ever lengthening shadows.

The sun hung low, most of the beach cove shadowed in semi-darkness. The light from the blazing fires across the sand sending flickering shadows across the fringe of the trees.

“Right.” Warin kept his voice low. “Two men to swim out to the ship. Gripper and Del, you’re strong swimmers. Do you think you can do it?”

The men nodded, the red firelight reflecting over their faces. “Aye captain,” Del grunted. “We can do it.”

“Turn out your pockets, everyone. Any oily rags, hand them over.”

The pirates shuffled around, tossing strips of greasy fabric, handkerchiefs and odd scraps of rope. Gripper gathered them into a bundle, knotting it together with a large rag.

“You can start the fire with those. You got flint and steel?” Warin asked.

“Course,” Gripper grunted, tucking the objects in question into the bundle as well.

“Make sure you keep it out of the water,” Warin reminded the two pirates.

They both nodded, unbuckling their belts and piling them on the ground so they wouldn’t get wet.

Warin thought for a moment. “You can start now. Search the ship before you light it. If you see an explosion of fire from the shore, get off immediately and swim as hard as you can.”

Gripper and Del nodded, crawling away into the darkness.

I gripped my hands together, clenching them tight.

The plan would work.

It had to.

Warin waved his hand at the rest of the crew. “Get back further away. We’ll be seen or heard if everyone stays here for much longer.”

They shuffled back obediently, fading into the shadows.

I brushed my hair off my shoulder, peering at the camp. Where would they be keeping Gypsy Boy?

I stopped myself. 

When had I started thinking of Altin by that name?

Blinking the thought away, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt.

An extra loud bellow of laughter brought my attention back to the pirate camp. Something was happening. Warin leant forward, frowning.

The men were gathered in a wide circle just aside from the fire. I caught glimpses of movement between their clustered bodies.

It was fight.

I frowned. “Why would they be fighting?” I hissed, leaning forward to try see clearer through the bushes.

Reaching forward, Warin bushed a twig out of the way. He tensed beside me. “That’s not a fight,” he said, his voice a growling whisper.

Altin’s lanky form tumbled through the ranks of men, sprawling onto the sand. A pirate grabbed his hair and pulled him up, sending him stumbling back into the circle again.

“It’s a beating,” Warin said.


1. “Change of plans. I don’t know about you,” Warin started to stand, “But I’m not sitting here letting that happen.”

2. “They know we’re here.” He narrowed his eyes. “Rantu’s trying to drawn us out.”

3. Fear clenched my throat. “Something isn’t right here,” I said, a cold touch of dread tingling the back of my neck.


This is slowly getting further and further away from my original plan. I honestly have no idea where this whole thing is going. No, I do have some idea. But not as much as I thought I did.

Stories...they're always sneaking away from the plot on me...

Really hope you enjoyed reading this week's part.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Monday, 15 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Book Review

I recently borrowed this book from a friend, read it in a day or two, and, just as with every book, I reviewed it on Goodreads.

And then I realised the review was 800 words long.


So I decided to put the review in a blog post, and shorten the Goodreads review to a few dot points. That way people won't run away screaming in terror when they see it's length.

[Edit: ha ha. Like I was ever getting it short. I re-wrote the Goodreads review and managed only 390 words so...that's half as long at least]

I just trust you guys to be brave enough, or to just skip reading this thing. To be entirely honest, I do that. If it's a book I don't really care about I'll just skim through the post in five seconds and then close it. I know, it's bad, but true. So, feel free to get bored, but if you do read on, be warned. It is a eight hundred and fifty word long rant.

Brace yourself.

Here goes nothing.

First, I guess I'll give you the blurb:

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

And now. The review...Rant...Thing.

So where to start? First off the rating: I couldn't decide for a while what I wanted to rate it. Eventually I'm going for a 3 1/2. It wasn't the worst book in the world, but it wasn't something I want to read again. Nowhere near as good as it could’ve been. I still liked it kinda, but at the same time feel rather let down by it. It read like a fanfiction with the author's name on the cover.

It wasn't what I expected. I thought it was going to be more Albus struggling with not living up to his dad's reputation at Hogwarts, but then it turned out to be him messing up the entire universe by trying to bring someone back to life again. Not quite how I thought it would go.

The fact that it was in play script form was a massive (like, really massive) downside. It forced me to imagine it acted out on a stage and so I never was engaged and drawn into the story. There weren't any descriptions really so half the time I was forgetting what everyone/where looked like. I was disappointed that I didn't get to live the story with the characters I had liked so much. Because basically all the action has to be in dialogue, the ending fight scene felt forced and jerky and completely acted out. The whole book had a touch of that feeling just because it was. It's a play, you have to imagine it a play, and that might be okay for some people but it really just annoyed me. It could have been so much better as a novel, not a script.

The writing style wasn't the familiar 'good old J. K.' I wanted to get. Because it's in play script, it's mostly all dialogue, and you can't do much within those limits. Again I've got to say, did it actually have to be in play script? Re-reading the 'Nineteen Years Later' at the end of the last HP book, I can't help but wish this could have been as entirely beautiful a carrying on from that scene as it deserves. Sadly, no.

The Time-Turning got messed up. In the original HP series, it was unique and stood out, in The Cursed Child it's turned more into the same familiar thing that happens in a library full of other books.

[SPOILER] (to view spoiler, select the white space below) -- The only thing I liked about the Time-Turning is that I got a whole chapter/scene/act/whateveryoucallthesedementedthings where Snape was alive again. And I remembered how cool and sarcastic he was. Then he died again...NO FAIR.  -- [END SPOILER]

The plot felt like the writers were really grasping at straws to get another book out. The entire Voldemort has a child was a bit over it, and I was skeptical of the whole idea. The whole thing was flat and the only time I really cared was in a Time-Turning scene where someone I liked died...again. Otherwise, there was just frustration (at Draco and Harry for not stopping fighting and starting friending) and a sort of detached 'oh I hope they don't all die'. It was page turning, but not because I was in the story, it was because I wanted to care about the characters and - I'll admit - I wanted to see how much more messed up it could get.

Scorpius Malfoy was the only character I liked for ages. He was funny and quirky and had no clue whatsoever what was going on, and I actually connected with him almost immediately. It wasn’t until nearer the end that Albus was a little more likeable. Draco and Harry frustrated me the entire book until they finally became friends. In all, I really struggled to feel for the characters and they never came alive to me.

I also just had to bring this up: my biggest disappointment was that it didn't mention George Weasley. Not even once or in passing. And nothing about Fred II either. Ron seemed to be the owner of the joke shop, and there was never any Uncle George or Cousin Fred. WHAT'S WITH LEAVING OUT THE BEST CHARACTERS OF THE ENTIRE SERIES?! Ahem, yeah. But it's like they didn't even exist! Very sad. And no Teddy Lupin. Or any of those other characters I had hoped for. Just the old ones. Albus Potter, Rose Granger-Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy were pretty much the only newbies, and Rose barely got any more than two pages.

So overall, it had massive potential but it didn’t live up to the HP standards. Part of this is just the play script, but also the plot and flat characters didn’t help. Don't get me wrong. I did kinda like this and I do vaguely recommend it, just so you can try it out and maybe like it. But if you read it, don’t expect anything much. Read it with a mind that it’s something entirely different, a fanfiction, only with the author's name on it.

Give it a go. Have fun. Keep your expectations low so you can be pleasantly surprised…Hopefully.

Honestly, I'm not guaranteeing anything though. I didn't say 'rantings of a disappointed mushroom' on the picture for nothing. 'Cause that's what I am concerning this book: a disappointed mushroom.

And there you have it, my view on the new Harry Potter book. I'm not sure it really deserves to be supposedly in the same series. But I've already finished the rant so I'm not going to start on that again.

Ahem, so yeah...It's depressing when a book doesn't live up to your standards. 

But now, until Friday...

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree

Friday, 12 August 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Adventuring After Altin

This, my friends (and Bob too), is fun. 

No seriously. 

(Or hilariously, since I said it, and I'm absolutely hilarious.)

I feel like I complain about how hard this is too much, because really it's something I look forward to.

I go 'Ooh Thursday. I'd better write. Can't wait to hear how much everyone likes it.' You're like a cheer squad. You're the pressy-down-button on a pen that makes the ink-thing come out so it can write.

You're the handle for the potato-masher-me. 

Yeah okay. That last one was just weird.

So, off the topic of potatoes. Unexpected Undoing got the most votes for option one. So one won on that one for once (sorry, I just like saying that. It'll get old one day I suppose...when I'm ancient or something...just kidding, I don't think the story is going to be that long)

It's slightly disjointed this week because I didn't want the nothing of travel to go on too long and get you all yawning and snoozing off...zzzzzz. Oh sorry. I dropped off then just thinking about it.

Guess we'd better get to it before even Bob falls asleep.

He looked at me, eyes flashing. “We’re going to get my prisoner back.”

I stopped short. “Whoa, just hold on a second there,” I protested. “You were just defeated by those guys, and now you want to chase after them?”

Warin jerked his head at the nearby first mate and handed over the tiller to him. “I cannot let him think to get away with my own prisoner,” he growled.

I took a pace backward before Warin’s fury.

The captain stood silently for a moment before turning and stalking to the back of the ship. Rigid with anger.

“Those two have complexed history,” the first mate said grimly.

I turned to him. “What kind of history?”

“They grew up in the same village. Rantu - that pirate captain - was always a bully. One day Warin found him beating up a small boy. He tried to stop him. Since that day they had a never-ending feud.”

“You said tried,” I repeated. “Only tried, or did he succeed.”

The first mate shook his head, but before he could speak, another voice joined the conversation.

“I was beaten hard that day.” Warin’s voice was low, and he didn’t turn from the sea. “The first boy ran as soon as Rantu was focused on me. I figured he was going for help.”

I didn’t say anything. What could I say?

“He didn’t return. It was months before I was well again. After that, I dedicated my life to learning the art of swordsmanship.” Finally the captain turned around. “Once I became the best fencer, I would be able to defend the weak and innocent when they could not do it themselves.”

“So you became a pirate?” I asked, unthinkingly.

Warin’s fists clenched. “In name perhaps, not in deed.”

“But you go around chasing after people just to fight them and make yourself more famous,” I pointed out, my voice rising. “How is that protecting the weak and innocent.”

Warin Wielder turned away, a shaking breath releasing.

I realised what I had said. “I--I’m sorry. I didn’t mean...”

The pirate captain turned back, a single stride taking him halfway across the distance separating us.

I could feel the anger radiating off him.

“Please, I didn’t--”

His eyes softened behind the blazing anger. “The deeds that become famous are not all I do,” he murmured. “Rescues, giving loot to that poor village suffering under the weight of its landlord, smuggling goods to the starving villages plagued by the Shadow Sickness.”

“You do all that?” I asked. “You risk your lives for all that?”

Warin didn’t reply, turning to his first mate. “Set a course for Pyre-ite Island. At this rate, we may even reach it before Rantu.”

“Wait...” I watched Warin as he strode into his cabin, the door shutting behind him. “Did he just say...Pyre-ite Island?”

I sat in large coil of rope, fiddling with the hem of my shirt. Warin had given me new clothes, boy’s clothes that were better for sea wear. Apparently, among other things, he had an assortment of clothing supplies for a poor coastal village.

That was still twisting my mind.

Warin Wielder, the infamous pirate of the Notrias Sea, delivering clothes and food to various villages.

It completely changed everything.

It was like he was the secret hero of half the coast.

More than half actually.

How they were even called pirates, I couldn’t understand.

The men on deck, nodded at me as they passed, the one man wearing a scruffy hat giving it a tip as he smiled in my direction.

“Part o’ the crew, it seems,” he remarked in passing. “Pleasure to meet ye. The name’s Gripper.”

“Louise Conwell,” I returned, licking my dry lips and tasting the salt of the spray.

 “Would yer like me to show you how as to tar ‘em ropes you be sittin’ on. Ter be useful-like,” he suggested.

I glanced down at the ropes. “Ah...I guess so,” I shrugged.

Gripper left, to return a moment later with a bucket of tar and a brush. “It’s like this, see,” he said, beginning to brush the tar along the thick fibres of the rope.

It wasn’t long before my hands were black with tar and the rope almost as covered. Gripper decided I didn’t need his assistance anymore, and left to take his lookout watch.

Being part of the crew was all well enough, but I was glad I didn’t have to do lookout duty. Heights didn’t always agree with me.

A scratching of fabric behind me made me look up, half turning to see Warin standing, a smile twisting his lips as he watched me.

“How long have you been there?” I asked.

“A couple of minutes,” he replied. “I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“But now?”  I prompted, glancing at my hands and wondering how to get the tar off.

“You could always ignore me,’ he suggested.

I shrugged, wiping my hands on the legs of my trousers. “How long will it take to get to Pyre-ite Island?” I asked, changing the topic.

Warin glanced upward toward the sun, and out over the waves for a moment before replying. “It this weather keeps up, I’m saying first light tomorrow. A little over two days from our starting point.”

I nodded, thinking hard. “Have you got a plan yet?”

Warin looked down at me. “Naturally.”


“We land on the west of the Island, travel overland and spirit Gypsy Boy away before they notice a thing.”

I flicked a clump of tar, only to get it stuck to my finger. Frowning, I wiped it on the deck. “What could go wrong with that?” I asked.

“First off, the wind could take us too far north and we get wrecked on the reef above the Island, barring that, we could get ashore and all be bitten by deadly snakes and die within the hour. Or, if we survive both of those, we could become lost and wander off the cliffs, drown in the swamp, or simply starve to death.” Warin shrugged matter-of-factly.

I raised my eyebrows. “That sounds cheerful.”

“That’s not even mentioning if Rantu see us before we do them. In that case there is a high chance of impaled guts, blood and swords all round,” Warin added.

Staring at him a moment with my mouth open, I started to say something, only to have him interrupt.

“Should I say something about the possibility that they see the Rift before they see us and just hang around there waiting for us to return successful only to find a horde of grumpy pirates on our very ship?”

I glared at him. “Do you mind?”

“Only answering your question, my lady.” He bowed deeply.

Snorting, I turned back to the tarred rope, pretending to study it with great interest.

Warin pulled on the oars, glancing over his shoulder to make sure we were headed in the right direction. “Keep a lookout,” he muttered. “Don’t want to land only to find pirates waiting to jump out of the trees at us. We avoid the reef, only two dozen obstacles left. Pirates and snakes come next. Pirates and snakes also keep coming until we’re back at sea again.”

I peered at the shore through the dawn mist, the dim light making it hard to see anything. “Are there any nice inhabitants of this island or is it all pirates?”

“Entirely populated by pirates,” Warin said, the corner of his mouth twisting upward in a grim smile. “Not many at the same time, generally, and Rantu is worst of them all.”

“And you?” I asked.

“I don’t advertise my presence the few times I come here,” he replied, heaving back the oars. “I may be the most infamous of the pirates, and apparently even own this sea, but many other pirates wish to heighten their own status by defeating me. My reputation is the thing that stops them most of the time. News of another defeated swordsman, another won combat. It keeps them guessing.”

“That’s why you do it,” I said. “You fight them to keep your reputation so you don’t have to fight the other pirates.”

“So I can keep them at bay for long enough to deliver supplies to half a dozen villages before the pirates come hunting once more.”

A movement in the trees just off the shore made me frown, narrowing my eyes to peer more closely.

“What is it?” Warin’s voice became suddenly tight.

A brown rabbit hopped out of the trees onto the seaside, white tail flashing.

“A rabbit,” I gasped, unable to not smile.

It was so cute.

“Good, fresh meat is something we’re going to be needing.”

“Fresh meat?” I blurted, shocked.

“Do you have a problem?” he asked, pulling the oars in and swinging his legs over the side into the water.

“But...” I blinked as the bunny disappeared back into the undergrowth. “It looked so...nice.”

Warin shook his head, shoving the boat forward onto the rocky beach. “Out,” he signalled with his hand. “And keep watching the forest. Don’t trust anything that moves.”

I scrambled out, my tall boots splashing through the water, thankfully oiled enough to keep my feet dry.

Warin waved his hand at the Rift, the ‘all clear’ signal.

The other rowboats started gliding out across the water, the main part of the crew on board them, six men left as guards.

They wouldn’t be much against Rantu’s crew.

As I looked back, a dull shape through the mist caught my eye. Frowning closer, I realised it was land, dark with trees. A cold finger traced up my spine.

“Warin,” I called his attention. “What’s that?”

He turned, following my gaze. “The land? Just another island in the archipelago. Why?”

I shrugged the question off. “Nothing.” Returning my eyes to the shifting mist through the trees. I stared at the forest, scanning the shadows for any sign of danger.

The rest of the crew landed on the shore, Warin stepping forward to drag up the first boat.

A hiss crept through the air.


I jumped backward sightly, searching the ground for the creature that had made the noise.

Then the hiss turned into a low laugh.

Sinister and echoing.

I spun around, a cold feeling creeping over me. 

I am waiting, little maid. Do not delay... you are so very near.

There is so much potential in you...I can feel it even from here.

You could be powerful.

Something seemed to be wrapping around my mind, invading my thoughts. The words coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

I pulled away, shoving at the dark tendrils inside of me.

They slid in tantalising circles, weaving slyly.

I waaaiit...

Get out, I screamed in my head.

Then everything went dark. Pain exploded in my mind.


1. “Louise, no,” it is the voice of Marius. “You must leave. You can’t be here.”

2. Something rough slapped against my cheek, wrenching me into reality.

3. “What’s happening?” Warin’s sharp voice barked in my ear. “Someone check around for a snake, she’s been hurt somehow.”


It appears that these story segments have minds of their own as to how long they end up. It came out almost to 2k again this week!

Hopefully the disjointedness was easy to follow. (Trust me, it's nothing to what my sister Alice gets when she reads through my unfinished 1st draft of Monsieur Scattlocke) And if I overlooked details, (like whether Gypsy Boy had all the spikes pulled out of his arms or not) do feel free to ask. I tend to overlook details at times.

Thanks for being my potato-masher-handle, everyone.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree