Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland

1536209414.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain & Ireland by Kevin Crossley-Holland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchanged for an honest review.

Created to entertain one night and retold over the years then centuries, folktales came down to the early modern times in oral form before being written down before they were lost forever. Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland by Kevin Crossley-Holland is collection of nearly 50 tales that cover a variety of fantastical territory. Amongst the titles that I personally liked “The Dead Moon”, “Fair Gruagach”, “Mossycoat”, and “The Dauntless Girl” while the entire section entitled “Wits, Tricks, and Laughter” was a waste. While the primary audience is for middle school children, as an adult I did have a nice time reading the book overall though there were some stretches where I was just making it through several stories until a decent one came up.

World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics

0844259667.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics by Donna Rosenberg
My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars

Around the world numerous different peoples came up with explains about the natural world and their own cultural heritage, though separated by vast distances create obvious differences there is also many similarities. World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics by Donna Rosenberg brings together the stories of different cultures both well-known and hardly known together for a mass audience.

Rosenberg covers all corners of the world from such the well-known epics of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, Beowulf, King Arthur of the Middle East, Greece, Northern Europe and Britain while also covering from the Segu in African, Bakaridjan Kone, and from the Inuit, Sedna. Rosenberg also covered numerous creation and fertility myths from those same cultures or nearby neighboring cultures. Before each piece, Rosenberg would give an introduction and historical background giving the reader better context for what they are about to read.

This collection brings together well-known myths and epics that “Western” audiences know as well as those not known from the “Western” perspective, with a few exceptions like The Ramayana. From the standpoint of getting a large audience introduced to these myths, the book succeeds. However, Rosenberg literally sets off alarm bells to any discerning reader when she says that she will be retelling these myths for the modern world. While I didn’t expect the entirety of The Iliad or Beowulf to be republished in this collection, I expected a fairly authentic telling of these myths and the butchering of them made me appreciate less those myths and epics I hadn’t read before like The Aeneid or The Ramayana or that I hadn’t known of before like the aforementioned Bakaridjan Kone and Sedna because I knew it wasn’t a true representation of the myth. To add further insult were Rosenberg’s introductions and historical background that were wrong on history thus making her explanations of the myth questionable especially when she wants to push forward the Great Goddess theory on every myth that has an important female deity or heroine—I don’t deny that there was important Great Goddess religions but not every myth Rosenberg claims is a patriarchal takeover of a matriarchal religious system.

While World Mythology is an okay introduction to numerous cultural myths from around the globe, but do not get this for the classics nor consider those other myths you’ll read as the definitive versions.

Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Tales from the Eternal Archives #2

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Earth, Air, Fire, Water by Margaret Weis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The short story anthology Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis, the second and last collection of the Tales from the Eternal Archives, contains thirteen stories of varying quality loosely connected to one another through the titular mystical library. But unlike the first collection all thirteen stories were all fantasy genre.

The best story of the collection was “Strange Creatures” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which followed Chief Dan Retsler investigating the latest in a series of animal mutilations but suddenly finds out that the latest animal might be linked to mythical “selkies”. The next two best stories were “How Golf Shaped Scotland” by Bruce Holland Rogers, a fun and good natured short story about how a game of golf created Scotland’s iconic coastline, and “An Elemental Conversation” by Donald J. Bingle, a conversation between a Reverend and his friend during their weekly chess game about how the news of non-human intelligent life affects religion with a twist ending.

The two worst stories of the collection were “Water Baby” by Michelle West, which followed the life of a young woman who is emotionally connected to the ocean and how it affects her and others, and “Sons of Thunder” by Edward Carmien, in which a djinn recounts his time as a follower of Jehua and how his brother and his tribe converted to the new faith leaving him alone. These were the two “worst” examples of six stories that were not really good even though they had interesting concept, but just bad execution ruined them. An interesting facet was the unevenness of the number of stories for each element covered in the book, with Air only have one while Earth had five and Water had four and Fire starting off the book with three.

The thirteen stories that make up Earth, Air, Fire, Water were a mixed bag of quality from the excellent to downright disappoint, just like every other anthology collection that has been published. However I will be honest in how well I rated this book given how poorly it began and ended.

Individual Story Ratings
Burning Bright by Tanya Huff (2/5)
The Fire of the Found Heart by Linda P. Baker (2/5)
The Forge of Creation by Carrie Channell (2/5)
How Golf Shaped Scotland by Bruce Holland Rogers (4/5)
The Giant’s Love by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (3/5)
Family Secrets by Robyn McGrew (3.5/5)
Dvergertal by Nancy Vivian Berberick (2/5)
An Elemental Conversation by Donald J. Bingle (4/5)
Water Baby by Michelle West (1/5)
Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel (3/5)
Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold (3.5/5)
Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (5/5)
Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien (1/5)

Sons of Thunder (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

An air elemental, or maybe djinn, recounts to a missionary his time with Jehua Mashiah as one of his followers along with his brother whom Jehua names James and John, the Sons of Thunder. The djinn tells how the human sons of Zebedee replaced him and his brother as the Sons of Thunder but his brother remained in the group while he left. The djinn mourns his tribe that was converted to Mashiah’s faith by his brother, all of them becoming human in the process and die. The missionary’s sympathy breaks through the djinn allowing him to let go and find others of his kind.

This story could have been interesting, but the missionary angle just fell flat especially when she willingly had her picture taken for internet porn so she could connect with the djinn just blew any good will this story could have gotten for me.

Strange Creatures (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dan Retsler, Chief of Police of Whale Rock, overlooks his flood damaged coastal town and thinks back to what led to it. New Year’s Day (1999), Retsler is called to the beach to find a skinned seal pup which is the just the latest in a series animal mutilations. Retsler knows the culprit is probably a teenager, but things are complicated. Maria Selvado, a woman claiming to be employed by a local Science Center, keeps cropping up in various aspects of the investigation which intrigues Retsler. Yet it is Whale Rock’s secretly acknowledged weird history and speculation of mythological creatures, namely selkies, that makes Retsler a hero after learning that a bloody Selvado committed suicide by jumping into the ocean. With barely an hour to evacuate the town, Retsler visits the site of the only two victims of the flood, a father and his teenage son who had both gotten on the bad side of the selkies.

I must apologize for my bad description of this fantastic story, I didn’t do it justice. This one story mean I’ll be keeping the entire book on my shelf because I will want to reread this again.

Out of Hot Water (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jeannette, a CPA on an all-expenses-paid holiday from her company for her performance during tax time, is feeling disappointed with her life and with her holiday. While getting a massage, she engages in a conversation with the masseuse who she thinks is a elderly woman from the local Tewa tribe. Though warned that the hot springs the resort is located on are sacred, Jeannette wishes for excitement. It turns out the old woman is the spirit of the hot springs and grants Jeannette’s wish by enlisting her help to stop thieves from stealing from the ruins of the Tewa’s ancient settlement. Using her common sense, Jeannette disables the thieves’ car and gets to the local police to report the crime including a lead for one of the thieves. Months later, after being the star witness at the trial and using her accounting skills Jeannette has shut down several stolen antiquities rings. The old woman then shows up with her grandson, the Tewa tribe’s legendary hero to end the story.

Frankly the ending–the arrival of the grandson–was unnecessary to this very good story and made me downgrade it by half a star.

Only As Safe (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

On his sixteenth birthday, Lord Turell saw the blond-haired raiders returning to Brackham almost a year since they had killed his father during their last raid. Learning from the previous year, Turell and his captain have a plan only to find out the raider’s have changed tactics with a ram instead of digging under the wall. The defenders hold as best they can as Turell remembers how he was saved the previous year in the well by the aid of a naiad (who might be his mother). Unfortunately the raiders are on the verge of victory including Turell getting captured but the water from the well is killing the invaders including the foreign king thus saving the day.

I described this story not as well as it deserves, it was a nice story.

Water Baby (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Water Baby by Michelle West
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The story follows the life of the titular character, Amy, from when she assumes the title of “Water Baby” until her death. At the age of five, Amy becomes the emotional conduit for water and must keep the element calm so as not to allow devastating storms from killing innocent people. Throughout her brief life, Amy is given counsel by Grace, her fire counterpart, though only after she’s had an emotional outburst or has done something to anger “water”.

While the concept was interesting, the execution and the narrative structure were just off making this a frustrating read.

An Elemental Conversation (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_An Elemental Conversation by Donald J. Bingle
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reverend Frank and his friend Randy have weekly Thursday night chess game and discussion, the topic is news from SETI that they’ve detected an intelligent signals from deep underground, in the middle of the ocean, and from inside a Pacific volcano implicating multiple intelligent life-forms that aren’t human. Then as they play their game, they have a philosophical discussion about the implication on religion (namely Christianity) and science with the new of non-human intelligent life. The game ends in a draw and Randy leaves, but afterwards the chess pieces then devour the last donut thus showing that Frank already knew non-human intelligent life existed.

Although I disagree with some of the theological things Reverend Frank proposed, the discussion is still a nice one. The game, even though I don’t understand the lingo, and the talk are well constructed creating a very good story with a nice twist ending.

Dvergertal (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Dvergertal by Nancy Varian Berberick
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Herthe Amunddatter is angry at her brother Burgen and sister-in-law for ruining the reputation of her late father’s homestead for fair-handed to niggardly. One evening a stranger comes to the homestead and Herthe welcomes him as is right, but her brother and sister-in-law are ill hosts and the stranger turns out to be a dwarf named Motsognir. The dwarf offended by the treatment begins causing ill events to hit the house in quick succession, but Herthe stops him from harming her unborn niece/nephew which leads to Burgen giving her to the dwarf. Herthe is suddenly transported away into a dark area and over the ages is taught by Motsognir about the magic inside her and the dwarves, or spirits. Once she is ready Motsognir returns Herthe to her abandoned home where that night she meets a stranger who turns out to be Odin and she reveals to him Ragnarok and the two survivors.

Honestly I originally was going to give this a better rating, but unfortunately after thinking about it I downgraded it a lot. The first half of my review covered the first 7 pages and the last half the next 22, which should tell you all you need to know.