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Plugging July 22, 2008

Posted by thejinx in books, plugs.
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Because creating art and writing derive inspiration from various sources, and I love to share mine, especially if they help to inspire others, as well.

For you fantasy/scifi fans out there, if you did not sign up for the mailing list for Tor books’s new website – which has now launched – and received the free ebooks which would have been e-mailed to you, now’s your last chance to get them. The website has made all previous ebooks and wallpaper available for download for one week right here. How can you say no to free books? I’ve found some good ones among the ones I’ve read so far – reviewed right here, for the curious.

Yesterday, I received Inside Myself, the first CD released by Helen Trevillion. I first discovered this young British artist’s work with her rendition of a song from the Seiken Densetsu 3 soundtrack, a video game for the Super Famicom that never made it to the U.S., and was instantly hooked. Her original music has served to impress me even further. She is an incredible songwriter, musician, and poet, and I cannot recommend her music enough.

It’s difficult to describe her music in terms of genre; even were I good at it, her music transcends many. Simply put, it is ethereal, music in its purest form that really affects me deeply. It is a mix of new age, pop, ballad, cinematic, and Celtic with touches of various other genres in between. But, of course, the best way to get an idea of how it sounds is to listen. She has a number of free songs available for download, and you can listen to the tracks on Inside Myself online.

Beyond anything else, I find her lyrics phenomenal. She has an amazing talent for the written word, for making it rhyme and making the words flow, and for fitting it to the music. Her lyrics are among the best I’ve ever heard. In that respect, Inside Myself contains an excellent selection of her work. Waiting For the Snow, Stepping Stones, and Letters to You have, in my opinion, some of the best lyrics she has yet written and they always strike me when I hear them. The only thing I find this album wanting is her song The Message, which I cannot listen to enough for its appropriateness.

Examples of favourite lyrics:

She called it love but it was just an empty shell she’d found
Too frail to catch the mesh of dreams that spiraled to the ground ~ Waiting For the Snow

I watched them dancing from a distance
So sure I’d never be free
So fiercely protective
Of some darker shade of me ~ Stepping Stones

Sorry, I’ve gone on a bit longer than I intended to, but I really cannot recommend Helen’s music enough. At the current world market, the CD’s a little pricey – holy cow, those pounds cost a lot of dollars – but absolutely worth every penny.

For one final inspiration, I read a pretty unique book last week.

The Mask of Ra, P. C. Doherty – This is a novel that is really defined by its genre, but given the entirely unique aspect of it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is an ancient Egyptian murder mystery, taking place in 1479 B.C. and following the chief judge as he investigates the unexpected death of Pharoah Tuthmosis II.

It was a short book at a little under 300 pages and fairly simple as far as the story went, but the setting absolutely drew me in to this novel. There was just enough detail to paint a vivid picture of an exotic world and, honestly, it really didn’t need much else. Some of the characters were interesting, such as the lead character Amerotke’s dwarf manservant Shufoy, and the plot unfolded decently, though little was revealed through the first half of the novel. The story took a couple different turns later on, but the way it ended up right back where it started brought it together nicely, and like any good mystery, all the secrets were revealed in the final few pages of the story.

To be honest, there really isn’t a lot that particularly shines about this novel, but it was well written enough and the portrayal of the world alone really made it engaging. I highly enjoyed reading it and it has been very inspirational. It makes me wonder why, with all the fantasy books that are released each year, no or few authors try to branch out into settings outside medieval Europe. Imagine what an ancient Egyptian-styled fantasy would be like, or ancient Greek. Native American or Mayan-styled fantasy.

I’ve read a couple eastern style fantasies recently, but they really didn’t paint a different picture than any other fantasies, rather they read more like regular fantasy worlds with some quirks that instead made me wonder why the characters didn’t just use chairs rather than sitting on cushions on the floor. The only books that come to mind that really portray a very different and exotic world is George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. I loved the foreign and exotic feel to Daenarys’s narration.

I’ve been wracking my mind for characters unattached to stories which I could switch to a more unique setting since I read The Mask of Ra. I’m also a bit distracted at the moment by the idea of submitting short stories to writing contests, but that’s another rant entirely.

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