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review 2017-09-14 13:26
It might be more to your tastes than mine...
Worlds Within Worlds - Tahlia Newland

This is another example of fantastic writing from Tahlia, the prose was spot on, crisp and taught where it needed to be, and soft and flowing as needed too. 

The characters were an interesting mix, starting with slightly quirkly Prunella (Ella) Smith, who Tahlia assures readers is not her (although between you and me, I couldn't help but see Tahlia's face when I brought up Ella's face in my mind). My favourites by a long shot were Merlin the cat and James. James is the sole reason this book gets shelved on my 'a-lil-sexy' shelf.

This story consists of several threads and weaves them together to form a strong, eloquent book. However, the overall message certainly sat in the spiritual realm, which is where it loses me and my interest. I can't say I get the buddhist belief system and this was far too engrained in the story for my liking. 

I did enjoy Kelee's story that threaded throughout the tale, including the communication between Kelee and Ella. This was compounded by the fact that I have read some of Tahlia's Diamond Peak series; I was glad to get some background information on some of the characters I'd already met. 

Where this story came into its own was the interestingly complex look at badly behaving authors and their war on honest reviewers. Having been on the receiving end of some minor indie author angst for my own honest reviews, I found the whole story a bit too explosive. This being said, I have heard of some pretty crazy reactions from people for constructive, yet negative reviews, so Tahlia's fictional account isn't completely outside the realm of possible. 

I can't say this was my favourite of Tahlia's books, but it was an enjoyable, interesting mix that kept the pages turning. If you're interested in metaphysical and magical-realism books, give this one a try, it might be more to your tastes than mine.

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

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review 2016-05-25 09:50
The Locksmith's Secret- Tahlia Newland

   This is a total standalone that builds on the character Prunella Smith, who appeared in Tahlia Newlands earlier metaphysical, mixed genre delight, "World Within World's". This one is again a weave of differing themes and stories that interlink based around the thoughts, life and writing of the author Prunella Smith. Each of the main story elements would work as independent short stories. These superficially independent threads are spliced together into one mystical reality. The binding themes are ultimately metaphysical. Each of the four main plotlines run as strands in Prunella's possible past and certainly present being. Actually the book reflects, openly from a deeper level, many elements of Newlands real life that are flickering away in the background. Prunella isn't Newland, but she might be in some parallel existence. The Australian bush, cats, steampunk, crafts and Buddhism continually bounce around the complex reality that is the real author. All fiction carries some sense of the author. This one does everything but try hiding the connectivity. The beating heart of the book is classic romance, which is always, quite unavoidably, deeply personal. Possibly I'm not even deep enough yet, because there is another even stronger binding theme than romance, that being of female emancipation and the associated problems of finding real psychological independence from cultural and emotional ropes that affect all of us.

   The point of the book, as I read it, is that Newland is exploring different aspects of herself, not through introverted memoir but rather through extrovert expression in her layered fictional plot inventions. We have Newland herself, Prunella, Nell and Daniela, all giving us insight into each other and into one spiritual female whole. The stories strongest plot protagonist is also female, though, classically, true evil only rests in a male persona. We must excuse that device, as that is a more than fair reflection of the physical worlds in which most of us have always lived. The relative weaknesses and strengths of the sexes are after all the whole social history of mankind. The book is about both spiritual and physical emancipation. Male readers need not be put off by this review. We generally come out of these stories well. The romantic spirit wins through, but not without clear reflections from real life.
   This is a beautifully written and intelligently crafted book. It is at once, spiritual, contemporary, historical fiction, a steampunk thriller, speculative fiction, philosophical and a social commentary, and above all else, a classic romance. We are still in worlds within worlds, such that at finish I'm not sure if some sort of spiritual 'Buddhism' is driving the author, or the author is demonstrating her own magical realism. You may have to read several of Newland’s books before you can make any deep judgement. I've read them all and still can't be sure.


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review 2015-10-31 10:20
I liked the story and I will finish the series
Demon's Grip - Tahlia Newland

Demons grip is book #3 in Tahlia Newland's Diamond Peak series.

It took me 12 days to finish this book. Some of that delay was craziness in my life, but most of the reason it took so long was because this book is a slow burn, peppered with small constant struggles, but no real 'climax'.

Other reviewers have said this book is one of huge personal growth for the protagonist, Ariel, and that is 100% true. The down side to this book being so much about her maturity is that it's not as exciting and adventurous as the previous two books.

The struggles Ariel faces mirror similar issues any young teen would face. The question of lust and losing oneself in daydreams and cravings are just the tip of the iceberg.

In this way, I feel this book delivers something that the first two books don't, and that is a realistic, albeit fantastically tinged, look at what goes on in a teens mind.

Once again, I felt the balance between the story and all the 'inner light' stuff was a little too focused on the inner light, which further removed me from an already slower read.

This issue aside, the story offers interesting insights into demons and the complexity of the world Tahlia has built here.

I particularly enjoyed Emot Sai in this one. His character evoked a strong emotional response from me. I hated him in one chapter and felt empathy for him in another. This takes considerable writing skill. Well done!

His particularly menacing physical appearance, coupled with manipulation and greed all wrapped up in one wicked package. A great antagonist if ever I read one.

Overall, I liked the story and I will finish the series, but it might take me a while.

I am happy to report that little Spud makes a cameo appearance and I was very excited to see him resurface, even if it was only for a short while :)

One thing I noticed:

10% Kelee's waistcoat changes from purple to blue.

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review 2015-05-24 10:44
The Elements of Active Prose- Tahlia Newland

Okay- so you have your first ever completed fiction book. You are not alone, another thousand have been written today. So, how are you going to add enough to your great story to turn it into something that readers will think is great?
A good idea is to sit down with the 'Elements of Active Prose' for an hour, before you start your first personal edit.
Ten more private edits, then read again. You will hopefully find that you have absorbed at least a little from that hour of advice.
Of course, you could read Newland's guide first. But most of us won't, I wouldn't, I was born knowing how to write. Few of you will be quite as arrogant as I tend to be, but I'm sure you get the picture.
There isn't a wrong way to write, but there is often a better way.
Do I follow all the rules? Not a chance. Will you? I don't know, that's not the point. The point is to learn to sit outside your work looking in, seeing where you could do things just slightly better.
There are no rules though are there?
True, but you do want to be read don't you?
You may well be thinking, there's a self-publishing nincompoop that probably writes total rubbish badly. How dare he suggest I read about how to write?
Well, certainly some readers do have that opinion about my writing- so think how bad I'd be without reminding myself from time to time as to how I might be able to do better.
This is a useful addition to most new writers' armoury and for any old dogs that are slow to learn.


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review 2014-12-07 08:45
Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds- Tahlia Newland.

Wow- Four main themes, plus what could be a heap of short stories in one of the most innovative and original works I have read in a long time. I couldn't possible pin point this work to a genre, as the metaphysical, the fantasy, the thriller, the speculative, and the literary combine and melt into each other.

This is written on four levels of consciousness- the self disguised, the self as another, the self as omnipresent, and the self in a parallel existence.

If that sounds heavy- it isn't. Really well written books are open to most readers, not just to genre, academic and literary world toffs. This is a brilliant general readers book. I have almost never read a novel in one sitting, I am a very slow and precise line reader, but I came very close to doing so this time. Newland's vision, writing in the first person as the writer Prunella Smith, worked for me on so many different levels. I forget most books within days, sometimes less. I won't forget this one.


Sometimes a clever work like this can help readers escape the myopia of the favoured genre, and in doing so do many favours. Now, obviously one may argue that such books then fall into the trap of never really grabbing anyone. There is no answer to that, but there is no harm in trying something different. Think fusion in cuisine, mixed medium art galleries, market stall shopping, multi-themed gardens, and you will be on a suitably fluid wave to immerse yourself this book.


Once you get going you will get to the end only too soon. Yes, this is compulsive enough to collapse time, but actually it isn't a long book anyway. So don't do that skim-reading thing, but rather make sure you taste all the words as you float through. Listen to the contemplative Buddhist inside you, so as to suppress your own bit of Dita. No, nothing is required to enjoy this, nothing -ist needed at all. As for Dita- read to find out.



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