Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: Dirty Little Angles

Wow - what can I say about Chris Tusa's "Dirty Little Angels" that has not already been written.

This is a hard as nails, in your face look at the life of a young girl burgeoning into womanhood in the seamier side of New Orleans. There are no white picket fences, no happy families, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This part of New Orleans is reflective of the lives of those who live there - tough, gritty, and and barely surviving.

Hailey spends her days like most others - hanging out with friends, getting into trouble - but her actions have consequences. And when all else fails, she turns to religion.

Chris knows New Orleans - and it shows in his writing. These characters seem so real, and yet they are not the type that you would know as friends and neighbours. But their story will suck you in so much so that you cannot leave.

If contemporary literature and social commentary is your genre, make sure you read "Dirty Little Angels".

Chris on the web:

Chris Tusa - website

Reviews for "Dirty Little Angles"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Alberto O Cappas

I have the pleasure of being an "i-friend" (ie: internet buddy) of Alberto. And as such, was honoured when I had the opportunity to read some of his works.

A Little About Alberto
Alberto O. Cappas is both a poet and social observer. His works reflect the changing conditions of Puerto Ricans in both their homeland and mainland America.

He is active in promoting self-empowerment among his local community and encouraging people to take life the the scruff of the neck and make something for themselves.

Dona Julia
A collection of poems that tell of life on the "other side of the tracks" - where life is both hard and cheap; where people struggle to eke out a living day by day; where violence dominates; and yet it is also a place of the home and family, of comfort and familiarity.

The language is not flowery and gossamer-like - it is harsh, sometimes brutal but always upfront and in your face. It is a reflection of reality - it is not something akin to the fantasy poetic worlds of Keats and Byron. It is poetry for today and for today's society.

Alberto provides a glimpse into the ying and yang of life.

Lessons For Myself
A work dedicated to young people who feel trapped by their environment; who feel that there is no possible way out of the day to day struggle with life; who feel nothing but despair and anger.

Alberto's work compels young people to "think outside the box" - to not accept stereotypes, to take charge of their destinies, to make the change necessary themselves rather than sit wallowing in self-depredation. Life is there to be lived, enjoyed, and experienced to the fullest - and only you can make that detour on life's great journey.

Never Too Late To Make A U-Turn
"Never Too Late" was specifically written with students in mind, and has been accepted and utilised within the American educational system.

Alberto speaks of his own trials and tribulations in an attempt to help young people cope with their own. He is the voice of experience in a world where the lessons of experience can sometimes comes at too late in life. He offers guidance and understanding to a youth that really needs a helping hand. A man dedicated to empowering our youth and thus the world we live in.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book of Outremer

Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem cannot but be struck by the similarities in the Book of Outremer trilogy by Chaz Brenchley.

Book One - Tower of the King's Daughter
"The Kingdom of Outremer was born of blood and pain and passion; forty years on, enemies still threaten its borders and heresy still threatens its peace."

The First Book of Outremer is loosely based upon the first years of European settlement in the Holy Land after the First Crusade. It mixes a combination of magic and fantasy with the right amount of near history.

Feast of the King's Shadow
"The Kingdom of Outremer was raised on sands steeped in the blood of war, and to war it is returning. The Sharai tribes, bitter and divided in defeat, have regrouped in their stronghold of Rhabat. Observing an uneasy truce under the banner of the charismatic Hasan, they await the coming of the Ghost Walker, the long-promised deliverer of their people."

Hand of the King's Evil
"The Kingdom of Outremer was forged from the hot blood and cold steel of battle but a fragile peace has come at last. Still the threat of war stalks its borders and heresy lurks from within, the poison seeping from its own renegade state ... An army of poor is also marching to an uncertain end, following a preacher with a blessed relic and a gift for miracles."

Chaz on the Web:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christopher Marlowe

"O, thou art fairer than the evening air clad in the beauty of a thousand stars."

Marlowe was born in February 1564, about 2 months before Shakespeare. His father was a prosperous middle-class merchant of Canterbury. Christopher received his early education at King's School in Canterbury and at the age of 17 went to Cambridge, where he held a scholarship requiring him to study for the ministry. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1584 and a master of arts degree in 1587. Toward the end of his stay at Cambridge he evidently aroused the suspicions of the university authorities, who threatened to withhold his degree. The Queen's Privy Council intervened, however, and assured the authorities that Marlowe "had done Her Majesty good service." The nature of this service is still a mystery, but it is likely that Marlowe was involved in a secret espionage mission abroad.

Shortly after receiving his master's degree, Marlowe went to London. He soon became known for his wild, bohemian ways and his unorthodox thinking. In 1589, for example, he was imprisoned for a time in connection with the death of a certain William Bradley, who had been killed in a violent quarrel in which Marlowe played an important part. He was several times accused of being an "atheist" and a "blasphemer," most notably by his fellow playwright Thomas Kyd. These charges led to Marlowe's arrest in 1593, but he died before his case was decided.

His Death:
The circumstances of Marlowe's death first came to light in the 20th century. On May 30, 1593, Marlowe dined at Deptford with a certain Ingram Frizer (Fraser) and two others. In the course of an argument over the tavern bill, Marlowe wounded Frizer with a dagger, whereupon Frizer seized the same dagger and stabbed Marlowe over the right eye. According to the coroner's inquest, from which this information is drawn, Marlowe died instantly.
Despite the unusual wealth of detail surrounding this fatal episode, there has been much speculation about the affair. It has been suggested, for example, that the deed was politically motivated and that Frizer (who was subsequently judged to have acted in self-defense) was simply acting as an agent for a more prominent person.

His Works:
Marlowe wrote only one major poem (Hero and Leander, unfinished at his death) and six or seven plays.

Tamburlaine the Great
, a two-part play, was first printed in 1590 but was probably composed several years earlier. The play itself is a bold demonstration of Tamburlaine's rise to power and his single-minded, often inhumanly cruel exercise of that power. The hero provokes awe and wonder but little sympathy.

Although written sometime between 1588 and 1592,
The Jew of Malta was not printed until 1633. The chief figure, the phenomenally wealthy merchant-prince Barabas, is one of the most powerful Machiavellian figures of the Elizabethan drama. Unlike Tamburlaine, who asserts his will openly and without guile, Barabas is shrewd, devious, and secretive.

Doctor Faustus, which is generally considered Marlowe's greatest work, was probably also his last. Its central figure, a scholar who feels he has exhausted all the conventional areas of human learning, attempts to gain the ultimate in knowledge and power by selling his soul to the devil. The high point comes in the portrayal of the hero's final moments, as he awaits the powers of darkness who demand his soul.

  • The Reckoning by Charles Nicholl (Review)
  • Christopher Marlowe by Park Honan
  • Christopher Marlowe by JE Bakeless
  • Who was Kit Marlowe? The story of the poet and playwright by Della Hilton
  • Christopher Marlowe by Philip Henderson
  • Christopher Marlowe by GM Pinciss

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Queen Nefertiti

Nefertiti, "the Beautiful One Comes", wife and consort of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt at a time of great upheaval. Very litle is known of this enigmatic Queen, whose daughter Ankhesenamun married the young Tutankhamun.

Akhenaten created controversy in Egypt by worshipping one God alone - the Sun God - Aten, and moving his power base to a new city, Armana, created in honour of Aten.

Kazimierz Michalowski speculates that at some point during Akhanaten's reign at Armana, the royal couple experienced "problems" and Nefertiti moved into another palace, with Tutankhamun and four of her daughters.
Following the death of Akhenaten (1362BC), Tutankhamun became Pharaoh, and the royal court was moved back to Thebes. Nefertiti all but vanishes from history.

Nefertiti Resurrected on Discovery Channel - this presentation takes you on the journey of Egyptologist, Dr Joann Fletcher on her quest to find the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti (See also her highly recommended book: "The Search for Nefertiti").
Queen Nefertiti by Jimmy Dunn

Nefertiti is the subject of many a book ... a selection follows:

The Search for Nefertiti by Joanna Fletcher

Nefertiti, the Mystery Queen by Burnham Holmes

Nefertiti by Philipp Vandenberg

Akhnaten: the Rebel Pharaoh by Robert Silverberg

Nefertiti by Evelyn Wells

Akhenaten and Nefertiti - Cyril Aldred

The Life and Times of Akhnaten, Pharaoh of Egypt by A. Weigall

King Sun: In Search of Akhenaten by Joy Collier

Nefertiti Lived Here by M. Chubb
Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten: Nefertiti: Tutankhamen by Rita E. Freed

Amarna, City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti by Julia Samson

Fictional accounts...
Nefertiti of Egypt by Mary Englar

Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead by Nick Drake

Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen by Joyce A. Tyldesley
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Valley of the Kings by Cecelia Holland

The Golden Pharaoh by Karl Bruckner

The Lost Queen of Egypt by Lucile Morrison

Pillar of Fire by Judith Tarr

The Goddess Queen: A Novel Based on the Life of Nefertiti by Johanna Harwood

Sun Queen: A Novel About Nefertiti by Emma L. Patterson

Nefertiti by Alexandra Hamilton

Queen Nefertiti by Francis B. Rylance

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Voices of the Sidhe

Kenneth C Flint is an author whose works predominantly cover ancient Celtic or Irish mythology.

A great introduction into the Celtic Otherworld comes from the Sidhe Trilogy which relates the stories of the Tuatha de Danann:

Riders of the Sidhe
Out of the mists the Fomor came to enslave the isle of Eire, a dread race of twisted men ruled by an inhuman lord: Balor of the Evil Eye. But a champion came from out of the sea, a youth called Lugh, seeking his destiny, sent to Eire by the seagod Manannan MacLir to fulfill an ancient prophecy.

With Gilla, a jesting rogue, and Aine, a spirited warrior-woman he came to love, Lugh challenged the Fomor to restore the True King to the throne of Tara, and summoned the Silver Warriors of the Sidhe to fight in the realms of men.

Champions of the Sidhe
The evil lord Balor and his dark Druid Mathgen send the traitorous Bres with an inhuman army to recapture the isle of Eire. But the young hero Lugh and his band of champions join together to defend their homeland. As the de Danann warriors seek Queen Danu's cauldron on the mystic isle of Manannan Mac Lir, Lugh and his beloved Aine host the Silver Riders to rouse the people for a final battle for the throne of the High Kings of Tara.

Master of the Sidhe
Now the final battle approaches. The races of Erin join to free their homeland from the foul fomor and their nightmare engines. But the evil lord Balor plans a fearful vengeance, and captures the sea-god Manannan Mac Lir. On a deadly mission go the Champions of Eire: young Lugh, the Master of the Silver Warriors; his beloved Aine; the fearless Taillta; Morrigan, the Raven warrior-woman; Shaglan, the Pooka Shapeshifter; the mighty Dagda and his brave son Angus. Together they storm Balor's Glass Tower fortress, to end the dread reign of the Dark Lord forever.

Kenneth's other trilogy concerns the adventures of the Fianna, a band of ancient Celtic warriors.

Challenge of the Clans
Cumhal MacTredhorn, the proud chieftain of the Fianna warriors, had defied Conn the Hundred Fighter, Ireland's cruel High-King. Urged by the whispers of his evil Druid Tagd, Conn ordered the murder of Cumhal- and all his kin.

Warned by a vision, Cumhal's bride escaped with her newborn son. Raised in secret in the depths of the forest, this golden-haired youth learned the stealth of the fox, the speed of the stag, and the strength of the bear, and grew into a mighty hunter called Finn the Fair.

Pursued by the High-King's armies, and the dark powers of the Sidhe, Finn began a heroic odyssey to reclaim his heritage, aided by the mystic harper Cnu, the giant warrior Caolite MacRonan, and the hotblooded Fionulla, who taught him the ways of love. Then, at last, came the hour of his destiny, and he was determined that no sorcery or might of arms would stop his thirst for justice.

Storm Shield
Warrior, outlaw, poet, lover, born in the midst of strife and sorcery, such is the legend of Finn MacCumhal, the greatest hero of Irish history. This is the tale of his perilous quest to the magical realm called the Land of the Fair, to win a weapon of awesome power... Storm Shield.

The Dark Druid
Ireland's greatest hero, legendary warrior and lover, heir to a world of strife and sorcery, this is Finn MacCumhal. With steel and courage, he sets off on a perilous quest to save a desperate land and to free his beloved from the shadowy magic and thunderous evil of the one known as the Dark Druid.

And for ancient Ulster.....
Isle of Destiny
From a land lost in the mists of time, in a realm of myth and magic, where legendary heroes fought undying foes in ultimate battles of good and evil, comes the story of a proud and indomitable people and a magnificent nation whose birth was foretold by the darkest visions and the direst prophesies.

It is the story of Conaire Mor, the bastard son of Ireland's high-king and fated to be her greatest leader; Ulster's outcast queen Meave, willful daughter of the mysterious Sidhe; the powerful and spiteful King Conchobar, a man obsessed with his own might; Sentanta, the fearless young warrior of the notorious Red Branch; and the high-druid Calatin, whose twisted magic and dark cunning threatens them all.

Hound of Culainn - or A Storm Upon Ulster
The son of the god Lugh and Deichtine (sister of Conchobar mac Nessa), he was originally named Setanta - but gained his better-known name as a child after he killed Culann's fierce guard-dog in self-defense, and offered to take its place until a replacement could be reared. At the age of seventeen he defended Ulster single-handedly against the armies of queen Medb of Connacht in the epic "Tain Bo Cuailnge" ("Cattle Raid of Cooley"). It was prophesied that his great deeds would give him everlasting fame, but that his life would be short – one reason he is compared to the Greek hero Achilles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mary Queen of Scots

There have been literally hundreds of books dedicated to this Queen - some fact, some fiction - and others falling somewhere in between. So, a brief tale:

A Death:
Shrewsbury: ” … Madam you must die, you must die!…”

The executioner held up the severed head of the Queen of Scots for all to see — but horror as the hair separated from the head, and the head dropped to the floor. There was a stunned silence from the spectators — the Queen, once considered the most beautiful woman of her time, had lost her hair and vanity dictated the wearing of a wig.

The Dean of Peterborough stood over the corpse of the dead Queen and uttered the words all longed to hear: “So perish all the Queen’s enemies”.

The body of the dead Queen was stripped, in readiness to be received by the embalmers — but the dead Queen’s corpse held yet another surprise. Concealed within her skirts was a small terrier, which positioned itself betwixt the severed head and the body, and nothing could move it. It alone remained loyal to the Queen.

But the indignity of the execution of the Queen of Scots was not over. The execution block, her clothing and any other object which could be considered a relic was burned at Fotheringhay, which was in lock down.

It was not until approximately four in the afternoon that the Queen of Scots’ body was prepared for burial — but not the burial one would associate with a monarch. No — the Queen’s lead coffin was walled up within the precincts of Fotheringhay Castle. It was not until her son succeeded as James I of England, that the Queen was accorded a suitable and more Christian burial at Westminster Abbey.

A Life:
Mary was born 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow, Scotland, the daughter of James V of Scotland (d. 1542) and Mary of Guise (d. 1560). From the day of her birth, Mary was betrothed to the future Edward VI of England — the vetoing of this marriage led to war with England.

In the ensuing conflict, the Scots were defeated at Pinkie (10 September 1547) by forces of the Duke of Somerset. A French alliance was decided upon. Mary was sent to the French court aged 5 (1548), where she received a Catholic upbringing under her Guise uncles. Mary married the Dauphin Francis at Paris, France (24 April 1558). Her husband succeeded to the French throne as King Francis II (1559).

Mary became Queen of France but shortly after, Francis died (1560/1561). Mary was returned to Scotland (1561), and upon her arrival promptly proclaimed herself rightful Queen of England as the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor.

However, during her absence, things had changed in Scotland, and Mary had to adapt to the anti-monarchical, anti-Catholic, anti-French elements that now dominated Scotland. Then Mary embarked upon an ill-considered marriage to her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (29 July 1565) at Edinburgh, Scotland. Mary soon gave birth to a son, James VI (of Scotland) & I (of England) (1566).

The following year Mary was caught up in the scandal surrounding the murders of her Secretary David Riccio and her husband, Darnley (1567). From then on, Mary made mistake upon mistake. Soon after both deaths, Mary made a scandalous third marriage to James Hepburn, 4th Earl Bothwell (1567), who just happened to have been recently acquitted of Darnley’s murder. Mary claimed that this marriage was made under duress — but none were convinced. There was an immediate uprising of Scottish lords which resulted in military defeat for Mary at Carberry Hill and Langside (1568).

Mary fled Scotland for England and threw herself on the mercy of Elizabeth I, who kept her imprisoned in various strongholds. Following numerous intrigues to rescue her and place her on the throne of England, Mary was placed on trial (Oct. 1586). She was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death (25 October 1586).

After delaying for as long as possible, Elizabeth reluctantly signed Mary’s death warrant (1 February 1587) and Mary was executed at Fotheringhay (8 February 1587).

A Question of Legality:
Was the execution of a monarch of one country by a monarch of another lawful? Mary was initially brought to trial under the English Act of Association (1585) — which in the eyes of the English made Mary just as guilty as those who conspired against the Queen of England, either with or without her knowledge. Guilt by association — a phrase I am sure we have all heard of.

Mary herself said: ” … as Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone …”

In fact, just how was it legal for a Queen of a foreign country to be tried for treason by a Queen whose subject she was not; in fact, how could one then execute this foreign sovereign?

The sovereignty of any monarch, at this period in time, was taken with all solemnity. Elizabeth I herself was fully aware of the implications — if Mary could be treated and punished like an ordinary subject, then what could Elizabeth herself expect should she venture beyond the English Channel? In fact, Mary could only be judged by her peers — and to this end, only Elizabeth filled this position — not the privy councilors or nobility.

The English jurists pondered over this question — if Mary committed treason, she should have been expelled from English soil. But in the end, the legal minds of England came up with a suitable solution. King Henry VIII claimed suzerainty over Scotland; thus, Mary was a subject of the English Queen and could be tried (and executed) for treason under English law.

As author Antonia Fraser wrote: “In the case of the trial of Mary Queen of Scots the traditional blindfold across the eyes of Justice was ruthlessly torn aside by English commissioners so that the desired verdict might be reached.”

A Selection of the Books:
Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
Life of Mary Queen of Scots by Henry Glassford Bell
Memoirs of the Life of Mary Queen of Scots by Elizabeth Benger
Mary Queen of Scots Vindicated (3 Vols) by John Whitaker
Mary Queen of Scots by Carol Schaefer
Mary Queen of Scots & Her Accusors by John Hosack
Mary Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Mary Queen of Scots by Mary Queen of Scots by Susan Watkins & Mark Fiennes
Mary Queen of Scots: Politics, Passion & a Kingdom Lost by Jenny Wormald

Mary: Queen of Scotland & the Isles by Margaret George
Mary Queen of Scots: Queen Without A Country by Kathryn Lasky
Fatal Majesty: A Novel of Mary Queen of Scots by Reay Tannahill
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
Mary Queen of Scots by Sally Stepanek
Mary Queen of Scots: The Fair Devil of Scotland by Jean Plaidy

Mary Queen of Scots: An Historical Play by Thomas & William Francklin
The Albion Queens (or the Death of Mary Queen of Scots) a play by John Banks
Mary Queen of Scots (or the escape from Loch Leven) a play by William Henry Murray

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jason Who?

Welcome to my page on author extraordinare Dan McGirt. Never heard of him?? Well that's your loss. Dan McGirt is a force to be recknoned with when it comes to fantasy adventure novels. He is the author of the "Jason Cosmo Trilogy" (Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, and Dirty Work). These are not your typical fantasy novels, but then, Dan McGirt is not your typical fantasy author ... or is he??. So, to the books:

Jason Cosmo
Who is this Jason Cosmo? Well he is a woodcutter turned reluctant Superhero. Follow Jason as he does battle with nefarious villains, assorted monsters, wizards of the highest (and darkest) order; gasp as Jason is pursued by the cream of the Bounty Hunters; marvel as Jason is seduced by beautiful damsels in obvious distress (this is a fantasy book after all); be amazed as Jason comes to the attention of the Gods (and one scatterbrained Goddess in particular). All this is just a typical day in the life of a Superhero. Will Jason and his good friend the wizard Mercury Boltblaster save the Eleven Kingdoms from the Dark Magic Society or will Jason end up on the Superhero scrapheap. Jason soon learns that this Superhero business is not always what it is cracked up to be.

Royal Chaos
Terrorists have taken over the Tower!!! --- and once again Jason Cosmo must wear his underpants on the outside (hardly a fashion statement for today's aspiring Superhero). Just who is responsible for this dark and darstedly deed?? The Dark Magic Society have re-opened for business (Under New Management of course); the maniacal nobles are on the chilvalric warpath (well some of them are, the others are just on the warpath); every man and his monster wants a piece of our Superhero, and the good wizard Mercury just wants a piece of whoever is responsible. But who is this new kid on the block, putting forward his bid for Number One spot on the Charts of Evil, and just what has he done to upset our Superhero and his pal?? But wait, there is a late challenger breaking loose from the back of the pack??? This doesn't look good for our Jason and Mercury.

Dirty Work
...""Retirement just wasn't what it was cracked up to be - especially when no one would take your retirement seriously. SDtill, Jason Cosmo, the ex-woodcutter now known as the Mighty Champion, was sick of being an invincilbe hero. All he wanted to do was turn in his magic armour and his loyal, demon-slaying sword, his sun-goddess medallion and his secret decoder ring - and, of course, his Heroes Club charge card - and settle down someplace quiet to raise turnips. But rumour had it that the Superwand, the "ultimate implement of power" had just come back into the world, and no one but Jason stood a chance of finding it and pitching it out of the universe again before the arch Demon Lord got hold of it. So, depsite the ongoing distractions of persistent assassins, lesser demons, and murderous magicians, Jason and his soon-to-be sorceress love set out on an impossible quest that would take them from noble courts to pirate dens to the very gateway of Hell."

About the Author
Dan McGirt is the author of the Jason Cosmo fantasy adventure series, including the all new Hero Wanted and the original Non-Trilogy: Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos and Dirty Work. He was recently named one of the 100+ Best Authors on Twitter.

Read more about Jason Cosmo at:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Welcome to Melisende's Library

Welcome to my new blog wherein I shall add my favourite books and favourite authors; where I shall post blubs and news and other tidbits of information.