An Excerpt: Willows of Fate — Suzanna J Linton

willows of fate banner This is my stop during the blog tour for Willows of Fate (Lands of the Sun and Stone series #1) by Suzanna J Linton. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 3 till 16 October, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours. WillowsofFateFinalWillows of Fate (Lands of the Sun and Stone series #1) by Suzanna J Linton Genre: Urban Fantasy Age category: Adult Release Date: October 3, 2014

Blurb: Know thyself… All her life, Desdemona has seen things others haven’t. Dragons, knights, dwarves, kids with three eyes. Heeding her mother’s advice, she keeps silent about this and struggles through life, pretending everything is normal. At her mother’s death, Desdemona returns to a home haunted with memories but she is determined to not be shaken from what little normalcy she has. However, when her brother is murdered and she uncovers a family secret, Desdemona realizes that there is more to what she sees. Perhaps a whole other world, one that’s willing to kill to have her as its own.

Excerpt: I pick up the first journal, the one I’d fallen asleep while reading, and flip until I come to place where I’d left off. An image of the teenager in the photograph fills my mind, writing the words in these pages as I read them. Time ticks by as the sun eases through the afternoon, drawing light slowly from the room until Eric is forced to flick on the overhead.
I wince and rub my eyes. Tense shoulder muscles tangle in a snarl and I roll them.
“Maybe we should take a break,” Eric suggests.
“Maybe. Have you come across anything useful?”
He shakes his head. “Just paranoid rantings, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it’s lucid. She talks about childhood memories or things that have gone on at the nursing home.”
“What kind of paranoia?”
“People stealing her things. People watching her. She complains that someone comes into her room every now and again and reorders it or knocks things over.”
My face feels cold as the blood drains away.
Eric frowns. “What is it?”
I shake my head, looking back down at the journal in my hands. “Nothing.”
“It doesn’t look like nothing.”
I close the book and stand. “I’m going for a walk.” Turning, I stride toward the hallway.
His chair scrapes back as he springs to his feet. “Desdemona, wait.”
I stop in the doorway and face him, crossing my arms. “What?”
“This isn’t going to work if you hide things from me.”
“I’m not hiding anything.”
Scowling, I glare at him.
He moves to stand in front of me. “Des.” His voice is soft. Soothing. Like I’m a frightened filly and he seeks to calm me. “You can trust me. To get through this, you’re going to need to trust someone.”
His summer-blue eyes plead with me. Maybe there are those who can stand alone in the worst of situations, relying on inner strength and commitment to see them through. I am not one of those. My resolve crumbles beneath those eyes. I step back, his hands slipping away.
“I see things, too,” I tell him.
He frowns. “Things? Like Samantha sees?”
“Not like what she sees. I see and experience the exact same things.”

You can find Willows of Fate on Goodreads SuzannaAbout the Author: Suzanna Linton became a writer the first day she picked up a pencil, scribbling happily in magazines and books. Growing up in (very) rural South Carolina, she was steeped in legends and ghost stories and was surrounded by her mother’s ever-growing book collection. She graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in Professional Writing and bounced from job to job until she landed in a library, where she met her now-husband. She lives with him in South Carolina with their two dogs and cat. You can find and contact Suzanna here: – WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Willows of Fate. These are the prizes you can win: – e-copy of Willows of Fate through smashwords – 20$ amazon gift card Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway
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“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.” ― Sylvia Plath

There are two sides to every story

The Confidant – Hélène Grémillon

Confidant final cover.448x688

Another truly beautiful piece of literature to add to my read list. ‘The Confidant’ was given to me by my partners godparents as a Christmas present last year, and sadly ended up hidden in the bottom of a box until a few weeks ago, one of the downsides of having moved house and never fully unpacked. Having just read and thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ I was excited at the prospect of getting started on another piece of French literature, and potentially giving myself a nice topic of conversation for our next family dinner.

‘The truth lies hidden in the past’ is such a fitting tagline for this novel. Grémillon draws the reader into the depths of a long hidden secret, of longing, forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge. The novel achieves an almost perfect blend of historical narration, thrilling suspense and harsh reality, the result of which is truly stunning.

It is 1975, and in her apartment in Paris, Camille receives an anonymous letter, a letter narrating the lives individuals seemingly unrelated to Camille, surely the letter has been sent to her by mistake? The anonymous letters continue to fill the post box of Camille’s Paris flat, and a long hidden secret begins to unravel before her very eyes. As the story unfolds Camille becomes desperate to discover the source of the letters, before finally succumbing to the realisation that it is her own story which is being told. The story of pre war France, a young boy in love, a young girl eager to please, and a rich and lonely madame is inextricably linked to Camille’s unlikely friendship with the concierge of her apartment building, the recent death of her mother, and the future of her unborn child.

What struck me about this book was the profound effect it has on my emotions. As the secret unraveled I found myself taken on an emotional journey of empathy and hatred of Annie, and simultaneous hatred, and empathy for Madame M. There are two sides to every story, and Grémillon highlights this so perfectly, by the end of the novel I felt as though neither character did anything wrong. Their actions were inevitable, driven by emotion and instinct.

The story presents a fierce, raw examination of women, coupling motherhood and feminism with love, passion, and desire. In this respect there was one theme in particular that struck a chord with me, and that is Grémillon’s unrestrained examination of infertility.

Madame M’s yearning to have a baby is spoken of at length throughout the novel, and I find the way in which her desires are portrayed incredibly moving. The world around M seems almost super fertile, numerous women in Paris are falling pregnant, and the newspapers are awash with stories crying for the need for more babies:

‘Have more Children! Have more children, France must make up for her losses in 1914’.

M is described as going to all lengths to sure her infertility, even physically injuring herself in a desperate hope that someday she will discover a solution. She describes her constant consumption of an aphrodisiac made from wine and spices,  resorting even to bathing in the concoction to the point where:

‘Over time my skin acquired a spicy scent that disgusted me’

Gremillon delves further into the realms of M’s depression, describing at length her dismay at her sudden transformation into ‘the infertile woman’. What I think is the most striking description of this comes during a dinner with her Husbands family, his grandmother makes an announcement that someone at the table is with child, and the guests begin to guess who it could be:

‘Every name except Granny’s and my own. Because it was no longer possible for her, and for me, it never had been.’

This seems to be time when M finally succumbs to the fact that she will forever be the elephant in the room, the person whom everyone must be careful around, who is looked upon with pity. I found reading the following passage quite emotional, my heart goes out to anyone, who is ever made to feel this way:

‘Suddenly her eyes met mine and she looked away at once, her broad radiant smile frozen on her face, and a moment of awkwardness spread round the table. Silence. The game had yielded to the weight of reality, my reality. At that moment I realised I had become ‘the infertile woman’ in the family, the one whose presence absolutely precluded any displays of joy , the one who was so unfortunate that the happiness of others could prove fatal. My shame was confirmed

M’s story touched on something I feel is shied away from far too often: the unspoken ‘shame’ that is placed upon infertile woman. I found myself asking why? Why is being infertile considered something to be embarrassed about? The following quote was taken from a comment on a feministphilosophers blog post ‘On Becoming Infertile – Part 1’:

‘I feel like I’ve often been treated like a faulty baby machine rather than a person. The guilt, the shame, the sense of failure, the indignation and the grief have all been a lot to deal with’ (Commenter: L Stokes).

The idea that anyone should be made to feel this way is incredibly sad. M’s story took place in the early 20th century, and this is an issue that is still felt today. I very much admire Grémillon for approaching the subject.

There is so much more I could say about this book, so many themes which could be explored, but I feel I have written enough for now. For anyone reading this who has not, I would urge you to read the book, it is a beautifully written, thought provoking read. You will not be disappointed as you read the final page, and see the secret of fully unraveled and laying before you in its entirety. The novel is captivating to read and satisfying to have read.

When I finished ‘The Confidant’ I felt the indescribable mix of sadness and fulfillment which accompanies the completion of a really fantastic novel.

“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” — Wallace Stegner

A tramp is a man like any other

Down and Out in Paris and London ― George Orwell


Originally published in 1933, Down and Out in Paris and London was Orwell’s first full length novel, written when Orwell was a struggling author in his early twenties. The book, set in two parts, is Orwell’s memoir of a seemingly depressing time when he found himself jobless, homeless and penniless. The experience was, however, very much self induced, as Orwell was from a privileged background and set out for Paris with the intention of submerging himself in the dregs of society. Somewhat ironically, it was this period in Orwell’s life which allowed him to establish himself as an writer.

Orwell tells of a time when he first set out in Paris, living in the dingy, insect infested Hôtel des Trois Moineaux, of persistent shouting in the streets, singing at night, and a constant overturn of so called ‘floating’ lodgers. The desperate search for employment, at times going for days without food, having to pawn all but the clothes he stood up in in order to buy a loaf of bread. His bizarre friendship with ‘Boris’ the starving Russian, and final pitiful employment as a dishwasher in the dismal Paris kitchens, working physically and mentally exhausting 17 hour days.

Finally overcome by the long hours of work required to ‘live’ in Paris, Orwell sought help from a friend to return to England, at the promise of securing employment caring for a mentally disabled gentleman when he returned.

Orwell’s story was only just beginning, as he found himself without the hope a job for another month. Fending for himself on the streets of London Orwell tells of life in the overcrowded English bedsits, gathering round the fires in the communal kitchens, the biblical sustenance that was the a cup of tea and bread and butter, or ‘tea and two’. And, when luck was really down, finally resorting to the ‘spike’ – the dreaded poor house, locked away, tobacco confiscated, being forced to sleep on the cold stone floor, and always with the possibility of unwanted homosexual advances.

At the time of publishing Down and Out was a sneak peek into an underworld that the educated knew little about. Indeed even today I feel the book has a lot to say about a part of life which remains fairly hidden from the more privileged in society. Allowing the reader a more ‘educated’ if you like, understanding of the homeless, those people whom we all see, every day, with their eyes permanently fixed towards the ground on the look out for spare change. A sad, lonely and exhausting existence.

While tramps today cannot so easily be compared to the men Orwell rubbed shoulders with in the 1920s, I feel one can take a lot from the straight forward way in which Orwell describes the plight of the tramp. A man who is has found himself shunned from society, and has become something other than human, a man despised by everyone, a lazy, greedy, corrupt creature.

I feel Orwell’s argument is best summed up in this extract from chapter 36:

“It is said, for instance, that tramps tramp to avoid work, to beg more easily, to seek opportunities for crime, even—least probable of reasons—because they like tramping. I have even read in a book of criminology that the tramp is an atavism, a throw-back to the nomadic stage of humanity. And meanwhile the quite obvious cause of vagrancy is staring one in the face. Of course a tramp is not a nomadic atavism—one might as well say that a commercial traveller is an atavism. A tramp tramps, not because he likes it, but for the same reason as a car keeps to the left; because there happens to be a law compelling him to do so. A destitute man, if he is not supported by the parish, can only get relief at the casual wards, and as each casual ward will only admit him for one night, he is automatically kept moving. He is a vagrant because, in the state of the law, it is that or starve. But people have been brought up to believe in the tramp-monster, and so they prefer to think that there must be some more or less villainous motive for tramping.”

To think that anybody would choose this life for themselves. The life of a wandering vagrant, shoved from pillar to post, never allowed to spend more than one night in an evil smelling, cold and hard bed before being moved on. Never able to sustain himself beyond the point of mere existence.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Orwell’s memoir. I found it thought provoking and insightful, and would strongly urge any keen bookworm to add it to there ‘to read’ list.