meditation

Stalking Shadows

Stalking Shadows
Series:
Publisher:
Published: 11 Dec. 2013
Author's Twitter: @TahliaNewland
In order to find the key to her mother’s release, Ariel must negotiate a forest of evil spirits, escape a mind-numbing city of sparkling towers, travel through the treacherous gullies of Minion Hills, and avoid an attack by a demon lord intent on killing her. Ariel hopes that the great library at Sheldra holds the key to rescuing her mother. But in order to get there, she must negotiate a forest of evil spirits, escape a mind-numbing city of sparkling towers, travel through the treacherous gullies of Minion Hills, and avoid an attack by a demon lord intent on killing her. At the same time, a battle rages between her heart and her mind. A relationship with her travelling companion, the enigmatic Nick, is just too tempting, but can they be together without Ariel losing her focus and falling to the demons? Her life is at stake, but also her heart. She risks encasing it in stone and denying herself the very sustenance she needs. Will they make it to the safe haven of Sheldra, or will Ariel die at the hands of the yellow-eyed demon?  

Reviewed by Evie Woolmore

June 16, 2013

5 Stars

This second volume in Tahlia Newland’s YA series picks up just where the first volume, A Lethal Inheritance,

The will-they-won’t-they of Nick and Ariel’s relationship is well written, and we see the situation from both sides. Ariel worries, as many girls her age do, that having a boyfriend will distract her from what she needs to do to succeed, but will also turn her into someone who is less able to focus on what’s important because they are always worrying about how they look. In Ariel’s case, Newland makes it easy to sympathise with her worry about being distracted – rescuing their mother is the most important goal anyone might have – but she also shows well how contradictory our feelings can be, when we are inching into a new relationship. Nick himself is confused about how he feels, managing the conflict in his own feelings and his life before Ariel with the tension she brings. He wants to impress her, protect her, look after, but he also is overwhelmed at times by how she makes him feel. Often YA fiction sees things from only the girl’s point of view, so this is a welcome addition to the novel.

This novel has a much stronger romantic element to it than the first volume but it doesn’t overshadow what is, once again, a well-driven, well-plotted voyage through well-drawn, well-imagined worlds. Twitchet, the talking cat, is wonderfully expressed, and although the sage Walnut is absent for the first part of the novel, Twitchet more than makes up for his absence in his cleverness and his mischief. There are new friends and enemies made, and some whose allegiance is not clear. Tension is steadily built as the novel progresses and we also learn more of the metaphysical vision of this world, of how infectious darkness and self-doubt can be, and how compelling and difficult to escape too. It is impossible to talk in any detail about the plot without giving it away, but suffice to say after a steady beginning, life gets increasingly more complicated and Ariel must test herself again and again and again.

If you enjoyed the first volume of the series then this will not disappoint and will leave you eagerly anticipating the next stage of their journey.

5 stars

 

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

5 Stars

Great stuff! I would suggest reading Lethal Inheritance first, though it is certainly not essential. This really is a pure fantasy book, written with an older teenager as the target audience. I’m 57, and don’t really believe that I would have enjoyed it any more or less at 17.

I didn’t like it quite as much as the first book. This is mainly because I’m eager to reach the end of the quest, thus find the middle somewhat of a frustration. The books overall quality is top draw, with a good pace and easy style. Unsurprisingly, some of the fantasy elements are very familiar to anyone that has read any of the genre but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good deal of originality as well.
We can see all the classical elements of the moral quest, the long road searching for the magic that will allow evil to be defeated. The dark forces are embedded in the suffocating, black serpentine. Ariel, the heroine is growing in skill, becoming immersed in the magic of her inheritance, whilst fighting her instincts to run, or fall into the strong arms of her worldly lover, or even to sink into the smothering, beguiling, evil. Arial is as determined to defeat the Rasama as I am to reach the end of book three. I don’t think Ariel really found anything but frustration in this difficult middle road either, all sorts of frustrations in her case, especially when this book started with her realising that her personal quest had so far failed.
I really need to move on from Sheldra, and Arial and Nick really need to get together with the job done. There are so many cravings that need ending, so Tahlia Newland, please don’t keep us waiting too long. Don’t give the serpentine over much time to grow, or else Arial will need a forth book in order to bring things to a head. Would Newland do that to us?

 

Reviewed by Katt Pemble

3 Stars

Stalking Shadows is the second book in Tahlia Newland’s Diamond Peak series.

It picks up right after the ending of book one, so really should be read in order. Having said that, the book could still be enjoyed (if a little confusing in parts) even if you hadn’t read the first.

 

This one didn’t seem as smooth as the first. There were passages that overwhelmed me in a spirituality sense, too much focus on inner light and radiance. There were only a few points where this happened, but it was enough to pull me out of the story.

The adventure was just as exciting as the first book, with intricate twists and turns sporadically placed so as to keep the reader guessing.

I look forward to seeing the relationships between the characters grow in the next book in the series.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review***

You Can’t Shatter Me

You Can't Shatter Me
Publisher:
Published: November 13, 2013
Author's Twitter: @TahliaNewland
Sixteen-year-old Carly is set to become top of her art class until bully-boy Justin gives her a vicious payback for standing up for one of his victims. Her boyfriend, karate-trained nerd Dylan, wants to smash the guy’s face in, but a fight at school means suspension, losing his chance at school honours and facing a furious father. Carly is determined to find a more creative solution to her problem, but will she sort it out before Dylan’s inner caveman hijacks him and all hell breaks loose? Justin might be a pain, but his harassment leads to a deepening of Dylan and Carly’s romance, and Carly finds an inner strength she didn’t know she had. The magical realism style provides a touch of fantasy in an otherwise very real story that offers heart-warming solutions to bullying. You Can’t Shatter Me is food for the soul. It has received a BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction and an AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction.

Reviewed 

January 18, 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this short novel by Tahlia Newland to the extent that I chose to read it twice – and got even more from it the second time around. On the surface this is a story about high school teens – boy and girl becoming aware of one another, while outside that is the constant threat of bullying by an unhappy individual who knows no other way to escape his own, very real demon in the form of an abusive parent.

The way the story is written, with a strong magic realism aspect to it and emphatic underlying messages on morality: love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding, are a real treat, showing the force of faith in oneself and in others who may appear to be beyond redemption.

The writing is excellent, the dialogue natural, the settings totally appropriate for a story aimed at high school children. The thrust of the book is clear, the characters engaging and the story has a strong structure. It is exactly the sort of story schools should use to teach about the various aspects of bullying; how not only the victim but the bully can be helped and how it is so very important to look below the surface for the bully’s motivation.

Overall, a charming story about love and redemption that will appeal to more perceptive children of high school age and could be used to teach those somewhat less perceptive.

Review by Katt Pemble

4 stars

I tossed up between a 3 and 4 star rating for this one. I went with a 4 as you can see. The reason I wasn’t sure was because I felt that the imagery and the fantasy aspect seemed a little too prominent within the story.

Hold up, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Tahlia has a very strong story here, the characters are realistic, honest and believable. Their reactions are true to being a teenager and the situations they find themselves in is a realistic representation of what a teenager might go through at school. It’s important these days to teach children about bullying and how to deal with it.

An indie book to rival the finished products of the big six, Tahlia should be very proud of the highly glossy polish this book has. If all indie authors could produce this standard of work, the readers of today would be in for a treat!

Now, back onto the story, while there were cliche moments, it didn’t disrupt the storyline. In fact I think some of them helped to solidify the moment in the story and show character growth and development.

Where I took a step back from the story was with the imaginary happenings of the characters, the strange cut scenes that they used to help make important discoveries and growth. They seemed a little too ‘young’ for the story to me. It could be that I’m just not the intended target audience of You Can’t Shatter Me, and as I believe that is the case I overlooked that and bumped up the rating.

This book would be a great one to share with the young adult in your life, be they a son, daughter, niece or nephew. It highlights the bravery required to overcome bullying, but it also teaches them other valuable lessons about self worth and being kind to others. It should be compulsory reading for all Primary and High school kids today.

**Note: I was provided an electronic version of the book in return for an honest review***