Book Review Descent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn

Descent of ShadowsDescent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Descent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn is a coming-of-age, YA fantasy about a young teenage girl, Anna, who must leave her childhood behind and accept the overreaching legacy of her parents. The tale begins with a heart-wrenching scene where Anna witnesses the murder of her parents at a festival by human-like shadows, the wraiths. Wounded, she barely escapes with her life and seeks refuge at a sanctuary where an ancient, magical barrier prevents wraiths from entering. On her sojourn there, she meets Alex, another orphan escaping mayhem. Anna deals with her grief with the singular purpose of avenging the deaths of her parents. Despite her youth, she is determined to join the army when she reaches the sanctuary and fight in the war against the wraiths. She catches the eye of General Collins who recognizes her leadership abilities are similar to her legendary parents. He takes her under his wing and mentors her like a father. Anna overcomes the doubts of the regime’s Council that considers her too young to join the army, and she quickly rises through the military ranks. Despite her successes in missions, Anna’s confidence is shaken as she faces the harsh realities of war, the awakening of her latent powers, and the internal strife that is as great as the threat from the wraiths. The climatic ending offers unexpected twists and dramatic changes to Anna, setting the stage for the second book in the trilogy.

Debut author, Ryanne Glenn, has woven deeper themes into a tale which, on the surface, seems straight-forward. The first couple of chapters are rich in sensory details, but then relaxes into a narrative driven by dialogue, magical world-building, and vivid descriptions of training and fighting scenes. However, the harsh realities of war are not glorified and profoundly affect the heroine. Make no mistake, Anna is a strong, female protagonist with whom teenager readers can identify. Beneath her risk-taking bravado, she harbors self-doubt that she must overcome to become an effective leader. Her different approach to leadership and training comes across as rebellious and brash to members on the Council. Her impulses to lash out must be reined-in by General Collins, who nonetheless gives her leeway to lead her regiment consisting of teens about her age. Although this is an action-driven fantasy, there are some subtle pauses when Anna reflects on how she fits into her world and the legacy of her family.

Descent of Shadows should appeal to YA fantasy readers who enjoy reading about strong, female characters and unique world-building. Highly recommended.

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Dagger’s Destiny

I’m honored to share a 5-star review posted by Literary Titan that was posted today, October 19th.


Dagger's Destiny (Curse of Clansmen and Kings Book 2) by [Tanner, Linnea]

If you’re looking for a fantastical adventure with a hint of historical influence, then look no further than Dagger’s Destiny by Linnea Tanner. Beginning in Britannia when the Romans were making their presence known to the island nation, we are thrust into the center of turmoil. This is book two in a series, so it’s advisable to read the first installment before continuing. However, even if you come into the series with this volume, you will not be disappointed. With our strong female lead, Catrin, we follow the princess as she deals with the possible betrayal of her people by the one she loves, and the cold, unforgiving judgement her father, the king, passes on her because of it. This is only the beginning. It is not easy to break a curse that has been afflicted since your father’s generation. Will Catrin succeed in her father’s stead?

There is never…

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Elen of the Hosts: Goddess of Sovereignty, King Maker, Warrior Queen of the Britons

Introduction Elen of the Hosts

The following is a reblog of a post entitled, Elen of the Hosts: Goddess of Sovereignty, King Maker, Warrior Queen of the Britons
This article was first published as British Legends: Elen of the Hosts – Saint, Warrior Queen, Goddess of Sovereignty on 21/06/2018 by zteve t evans

Historically, Elen of the Hosts was a real woman who lived in the 4th century, but in British legend and Welsh and Celtic mythology, may go back even further. She appears to have been a woman of many roles that have grown and evolved over the centuries to the present day.

Today, Elen is best known for her part as the subject of the affections of the emperor of Rome in the strange tale of The Dream of Macsen Wledig, from the Mabinogion. The story depicts her as a mysterious,  powerful woman who knows how to gets what she wants and appears linked to the giving and taking of sovereignty. The post discusses who Elen was and how she has changed and evolved over the centuries.

One of the most interesting abilities Elen possessed was the power of the dream. There are many arguments about the purpose of the dream, and what follows is a modern idea of how many people view the dream and Elen. Many people today see the dream that Macsen experienced as more than an ordinary dream. The lucidity of the dream makes it more of an out of body experience or form of astral projection rather than an ordinary dream. In Celtic and Irish tradition this kind of experience is known as an aisling, which is a kind of dream that supplies a strong spiritual message to the dreamer. The purpose of the dream experienced by Macsen appears to have been to draw him from Rome to Elen in Britain.

Under the influence!

This article was first published as British Legends: Elen of the Hosts – Saint, Warrior Queen, Goddess of Sovereignty on 21/06/2018 by zteve t evans

fantasy-3629943_1920 Image by kellepicsPixabayCC0 Creative Commons

Elen of the Dream

Historically, Elen of the Hosts was a real woman who lived in the 4th century, but in British legend and Welsh and Celtic mythology, may go back even further.  She appears to have been a woman of many roles that have grown and evolved over the centuries to the present day. Today, Elen is best known for her part as the subject of the affections of the emperor of Rome in strange tale of The Dream of Macsen Wledig, from the Mabinogion. The story depicts her as a mysterious woman of power who knows how to gets what she wants and appears linked to the giving and taking of…

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Fake News Damnatio Memoriae Mark Antony

Fake News Damnatio Memoriae Mark Antony

Bust of Mark Antony Vatican City


Damnatio Memoriae Mark Antony

The legacy of Marcus Antonius, commonly known as Mark Antony, has been one of the most fascinating historical factors that I’ve researched in support of writing the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series.  The primary male Roman character, Marcellus, from the series is cursed with damnatio memoriae of his great-grandfather—Mark Antony.

Octavian, who became known as Roman Emperor Augustus, had Antony’s memory damned forever after defeating him and Cleopatra in 30 BC. Most of the statues of Mark Antony were destroyed and his name was removed from all records. Even though Augustus achieved supreme power as the Roman Emperor in 27 BC, he refused to reverse his decision to restore Antony’s memory. It was not until Mark Antony’s grandson, Emperor Claudius, reversed the decree when he came to power in 41 AD.

Statue of Roman Emperor Claudius Depicted as the Roman God Jupiter

Fake News

Mark Antony has gone down in history as the tragic hero who gave up everything for the love of a woman. But is this the true legacy of Mark Antony? Or is truth molded to an alternative reality by those in power?

Octavian considered Mark Antony as a threat to his power. He embarked on a smear campaign that presented Antony as a weakling, completely dominated by Cleopatra who had ambitions to rule the world. As Antony was preparing for a war in Parthia that would elevate his standing in Rome, he had to go to war instead with his political rival. Octavian spread “fake news” to the Senate that he had been compelled to read Antony’s will left in the safeguard of the Vestals in Rome. Even though no witnesses were present when Octavian supposedly inspected the will, he proclaimed Antony legitimized the claims of Caesarion as Julius Caesar’s son, and as a co-ruler with Cleopatra and heir to the Egyptian throne.

Statue of Octavian, also known as the first Roman Emperor Augustus


The most damning part of Antony’s will is that he asked to be buried with his wife, Cleopatra, in Egypt even though it was forbidden for a Roman nobleman to marry a foreigner. This incited the Senate’s rage as they believed Antony was forming a new Roman government in Alexandria. This threat was enough to make the Romans clamor for war in unified antagonism towards Cleopatra and her bewitched consort Antony. To this day, the actual truth about Antony is lost in historical propaganda written by his enemies which still haunts his memory to this day.

When I first read Patricia Southern’s “Mark Antony,” during the 2016 presidential campaign, it struck me how history repeats itself over and over. Smear tactics effectively sway elections and public opinion. The facts from “fake news” blur into an alternate reality created by politicians to sway the masses. There is no doubt Mark Antony had some of the character flaws of which he was accused. Nonetheless, he was the last person who stood in the way of Octavian’s ambition to transform the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. This theme continues to repeat throughout history and in fiction such as Star Wars.

Tell me your thoughts about the relevance of what happened to Mark Antony to today’s news.

Book Review: Mark Antony by Patricia Southern

Below is my review of “Mark Antony: A Life” by Patricia Southern. I found her biography of Mark Antony compelling as she filters the truth from the historical accounts of many many of his enemies.


Mark Antony: A LifeMark Antony: A Life by Patricia Southern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Patricia Southern’s, “Mark Antony: A Life” is a well-written historical account of Mark Antony whose legacy was negatively impacted by derogatory comments made by Octavian Caesar and Cicero. One of the reasons I read this book was to glean additional information about Mark Antony’s true characterization as his reputation had been blackened by his rivals. It was frustrating to find a dearth of biographies about Mark Antony, but this book did not disappoint. Though, certainly, Mark Antony had his weaknesses, he also had a momentous triumph when he defeated Brutus and Cassius. After the civil war, he formed treaties and alliances with various rulers in the eastern Roman empire and Egypt who posed a challenge. One of his greatest achievements, though it is not widely recognized, is that he commanded a vast area of very diverse people and customs, many of whose rulers varied in trustworthiness. His diplomacy and careful sifting of who was reliable, and who was not, stood the test of time after his death. His greatest failure was not to recognize Octavian’s ruthless propaganda to dispose of him and return to Rome to promote himself. This biography is well-researched and is based on various historical sources. It was clearly written and has several pages of photographs which are of interest.

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Christy Birmingham Author Interview

Christy Birmingham Author Interview

Christy Birmingham, Author, Poet, and Blogger


It is my honor to introduce Christy Birmingham, a Canadian poet, author, and blogger. I’ve know Christy since 2014, when she asked me to do a guest blog about gender roles in ancient history and its relevance to modern times for her website When Women Inspire. It has been a pleasure to follow her and to see how her topics have expanded on her website. She does daily posts on a variety of issues that impact women. She has now begun another website When Business Inspire devoted to helping you grow your business.

Christy graciously accepted my invitation to interview her. Below is her biography, interview, and contact information. I encourage you to follow Christy Birmingham and check out her websites.


Christy Birmingham is a blogger, author, and poet who resides in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She uses her writing to show others that they too can get through difficult times as she has, personally with anxiety and depression, as well as professionally with starting her own business.

Interview Christy Birmingham

Would you provide an overview of the poetry you wrote in Versions of the Self?

In Versions of the Self, I describe the different relationships with the self that exist in the world. For example, there are romantic relationships, friendships, and also the special way of being one has with oneself. As we communicate with others, we can learn and change each other. The poems reflect on these different interactions.


In what ways does your poetry reflect who you are?

My poems are free form, which I think speaks to my ability to be in the present moment. Some readers tell me the poems are very unique and my life certainly has been that! I like that they are not so vague too that no one can understand them; I hope that when people meet me in person I come across as clearly as my poetry.

What inspired you to write the collection of poetry for Versions of the Self and what do you hope a reader will gain from reading these poems?

I was inspired by thoughts of being true to oneself. It started my introspection into who I really am and how time spent with others and by myself can impact my sense of self, as well as potentially positively impacting them.

What inspired you to host the website When Women Inspire?

This site is near and dear to my heart. I remember back in 2014 I was looking for women’s accomplishments and couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to read all in one place online. So I decided to create When Women Inspire to celebrate the amazing things women are doing worldwide. Since then it has grown into a space that offers women tips for making the most of their lives. Really I just want to help people be all they can be.

Is there any post that stands out that has inspired you?  Explain why.

There are too many to choose! Some guest posts have made me cry, including the one by Elaine Pereira about her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia. The heartfelt contributions I received from guest contributors are amazing, as are the comments I receive daily from readers.

You refer to yourself as a feminist. How would you define a feminist and what she believes in? How have these beliefs impacted you as a writer?

For me, a feminist is someone who believes in equal treatment between genders. I realize there are differences in strength but it is the equal respect that I demand in a world that has had a patriarchal structure for too long. These beliefs have come up time and again on When Women Inspire and I welcome the ability to spread word about how women are changing the globe for the better.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

I believe that we all can (1) determine what special gifts we bring to the table; (2) bravely use these abilities to help others; (3) continue to carry on with this objective, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable.

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

I’m older than most people think I am. I credit my parents who both look much younger than their age. I recently turned 40 and received a lot of comments on social media that I was turning several years older than they thought.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

The sound of someone laughing. I hope to hear that beautiful sound every day.

You can contact Christy Birmingham as follows:

When Women Inspire

When Business Inspires




Amazon Author Page

Books by Christy Birmingham:

Click on Book Cover to Order



Uther Pendragon, the Prophecy of Merlin and the Making of a King

The following is a reblog entitled, Uther Pendragon, the Prophecy of Merlin and the Making of a King. It was posted on September 20, 2018 at Under the Influence, one of my favorite websites which discusses myths, legends, and folktales around the world. The Arthurian legends are some of my favorite.

Under the influence!

The legendary Uther Pendragon was the father of Arthur Pendragon, who was destined to become the greatest King of the Britons. Arthur would drive out the invading Saxons, bring peace to the country and build an empire in Europe. Uther was usually seen as a strong king and a great warrior but could also be vain, quick tempered, impulsive and ungrateful at times. This impulsiveness and ingratitude came to the fore when he fell passionately in love with Igraine, the young wife of one of his oldest and most loyal nobles, Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall.Gorlois had served the king bravely and faithfully and through his wisdom…

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Power of the Tarot

Symbolism of the Tarot

Introduction Stephanie Reisner

It is my pleasure to introduce Colorado Author, Stephanie Reisner, who has graciously agreed to provide a guest post about the Symbolism of the Tarot. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and has been reading tarot for thirty years. She lives along the front range of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three cats. To learn more about Stephanie and her books, visit her website. 

Welcome Stephanie Reisner!

Guest Post: Stephanie Reisner |Symbolism of the Tarot|

Power of the Tarot

The power of the tarot is not in the occult sciences like many people would like to believe. The real power in tarot is in the imagery and the human mind’s ability to correlate these images to our deepest desires and greatest fears. Therefore, reading tarot depends a great deal on the reader’s ability to not only read people, but to read symbolism.

The origin of tarot goes back to the fourteenth century and the cards originally weren’t used for divination. That came much later. Originally, the tarot was used as a party game wherein random cards were dealt to players and the players would use the images from the card to inspire poetry. It was often said something to the effect of, whichever cards you were dealt were your lot in life. Whether that inspired their later use in divination is up for debate. In other instances, early decks were merely playing cards like the common playing cards we use today.

The popularity of tarot cards in mystical fortune-telling was likely due to publisher William Ryder and famed occultist A. E. Waite in the early 1900s. These are the tarot decks we think of when we think of tarot today. Modern tarot is imbued with various symbolism meant to have meaningful spiritual significance. Within the standard tarot deck there are the major arcana (twenty-two cards) and the minor arcana which are indicative of the standard fifty-six-card playing deck.

Symbolism of the Tarot

Hearts in the tarot deck are signified by cups. Cups correspond with the element water and issues such intuition, emotion, creativity, and wisdom are associated with them. The tarot’s Swords correspond with spades and represent the element air which includes all things mental. Areas covered by swords would include studying, worrying, decision-making, and all matters of the mind. Diamonds correspond with the tarot’s coin or disc cards and represent earth. These are matters of a physical nature, stability, work, career, monetary matters, and home. Finally, the wands of the tarot correspond with clubs and represent fire. Love, energy, passion, aggression, impatience, and action are all things of fire.

Notice how the symbols are correlated to elements which correlate to human emotion and experience. Of course, tarot symbolism goes further than that. The use of color and pictorial symbolism brings a myriad of meaning into a single card.

Let us take, for example, the card DEATH. In most modern decks, the death card includes the frightening figure of death itself, often as a skeleton. It’s important to remember that the meanings of various cards have changed over time based on the view or perception of the symbolism within popular culture. While further back in history the DEATH card may have been seen to foretell misfortune, the modern interpretation, agreed upon by every tarot reader I’ve ever met, is it’s a change/transformation card. Let’s look more deeply into the symbolism of this single card to discover why.


In the Rider Waite deck, one of the most common tarot decks in use today, death is riding a white horse and carrying a flag. On the ground lies the king, who has died – his crown a few feet from his body. In front of the horse a priest dressed in gold robes (signifying spirituality, which tells us he’s a priest) appears to be petitioning or bargaining with death for mercy. Meanwhile, a child looks upon death in awe and wonder as a woman turns her head away. All the while the sun is seen in the background either setting or rising over the entire scene. This card bears the number thirteen.

Pause for a moment and consider the rich symbolism in this single card. The only one who has accepted death completely is the king who is already dead. The child is more accepting than the woman or the priest. The fact that death is riding a white horse suggests that death is a transformation as white is a color in the tarot that means purity and gentleness. The priest who is bargaining with death appears to be hoping he can change the situation through spiritual means. The child is at peace with death and wears blue, the color of understanding. You can almost tell that the child finds death wondrous and interesting. The woman, who wears gray (the color of wisdom in the tarot) looks away as if looking upon death would seal her fate. And because we can’t tell if the sun is setting or rising we are unsure if this is the dawn of a new day, or the end of another.

In numerology the number thirteen, by the practice of gematria, can be reduced to the number four by adding the numbers one and three together. So, we can read meaning into both the number thirteen, and the number four. The number thirteen suggests a sort of transcendence. The ability for the spiritual world to descend and merge with the material world. The number four means completion, but also that things have not quite ended – they’ve only begun. Hence the reason we do not know if the sun is rising or setting in this card’s imagery. It is because of all of this rich symbolism that Death is viewed as a change card.

Therefore, the interpretation of the card means that the person it was pulled for is either in for a major change in their life or is having a difficult time accepting change. This card is a reminder that we cannot bargain changes away and must let go and accept that one door has to close in order for a new door to open.

To go through all the cards in this one blog post would be quite exhaustive and far too. However, if you find yourself interested in learning more, buy yourself a tarot deck. Study each card individually, taking into account the symbolism, images, and colors of each card. By doing this you can learn their meanings, and you too will be able to read tarot.