04 August 2009

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time there was a book...a very special book...called Broken Wing (Judith James). And there was much talk of this book and it was all good. However, in various (online) realms this book languished unopened...and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (because how could I not include that line?). And those who perpetrated this lapse were ashamed.

So a challenge was issued, a monumental task, to read Broken Wing and to speak (online) openly of the book. Fourteen brave knights stepped forth to accept the challenge. Their stories may be harrowing and dark (yes, I'm laying it on a little thick, but I'm telling a story so, you know, artistic licence and all that) but they have (mostly...because some fair knights have yet to return from their crusade *cue dramatic music*) triumphed!

Seek below for their tales and learn...and speak boldly your thoughts...for on this day all will be revealed...

- orannia
- Aymless
- azteclady
- Renee
- Christine
- Marg
- SarahT
- Kris
- Lisa Marie Wilkinson
- ShellBell
- Maria Lokken
- Mad
- LeeAnn
- Mariana

Update to add the tale of the brave and fair azteclady, who has returned hale and hearty with tidings of Broken Wing...

Updated again to add the tales of the numerous knights who have returned triumphant from their harrowing quest...

Updated yet again to ask all ye brave knights to tell us, in your own, humble words, of the high and lows of your travels, the weird and wonderous characters that ye did meet...the wonders that ye saw...so that we may be amazed...


  1. cough


    [love the story--could we have some more?]

  2. Apologies fair azteclady! Mine grevious error has been corrected!

    [love the story--could we have some more?]

    Really? I posted it thinking everyone would wonder what I had been drinking/smoking/inhaling/injecting [insert other route of administration here] *grin*

    And BTW, great review! I really, really have learnt a lot from reading it. And introspection...it is so nice to put a name 'that' (I'm obviously on top of the English language this morning...not :)

  3. Okay so I'm remiss - I accepted the challenge and I've failed in the given time frame. But AND however, I am still prepared to take on the challenge - so don't count me out yet.

  4. Many a fair and brave knight must travel far and brave unseen horrors when facing their challenge. The home fires will always be kept burning for those stalwart few.


    Life has a habit of interfering with the best laid plans of mice and men (it's bad that I don't know where that quote comes from, isn't it?). Plus, I'm a great believer in extensions :) So I'm definitely not counting you out.

  5. Love the post, orannia! :-)

    I am determined to finish and review by (my time zone) tomorrow, the 31st.

    Reading feverishly . . .

  6. Thank you Renee! Good luck with the readin, but no stressing...it will always be 31 July somewhere in the universe *grin*

  7. Mine is here:


  8. I finally posted mine just in the nick of time! I was cutting it to the wire or anything :o) And I love the post!

  9. Love the post. I'm working on my post... hope to have it finished and posted before the end of July 31, 11:59 pm MY time. :P

    Operative word hope.

  10. *waiting patiently for all the erm... missing brave knights to report so a round table can be set up and a discussion begun (yes, and THAT is why I do not write fiction)

  11. Phew! I made it.

    Woo hoo! Now, I can read all of the other reviews! (I've been keeping my eyes averted to remain influence free.)

  12. Mine's up! And I loved it, by the way.


    I'll try to get to everyone else's reviews and comments over the weekend, but its a busy one. If a discussion gets started, I might not get a chance to chime in until Monday.

  13. Here's mine:

    I have to as far as first books go this was stellar. I have high expectations for Ms James's next book.

    If it comes to choose between Derek Craven or Gabriel. I'm going with Derek. (Kristie can have Gabriel). G was just too angsty for me. He was too much of a downer. I understand that he had a really awful life but to continuously dwell on it so much was a bit too much for me. Talk about carry around baggage! *sigh*

    I guess I am too much of a "the past is the past" and "tomorrow is a new day" kind of gal.

  14. Orianna, I laughed my butt off at the lead-in you wrote announcing the results of the "quest."

    Any knight who hasn't checked in yet might have had their legs bitten off by the Black Knight (you have to be a Monty Python fan to appreciate).

  15. Thank you Lisa! And I'm glad you liked the 'scene setting'. I thought I was mad while writing it :)

    Thank you Aymless, Christine, LeeAnn and Renee! I've added the links to your reviews!

    As for the discussion - apologies all! Yesterday kept me away from the 'puter. I do have a question for everyone - who was your favourite secondary character? For me, it was the 'Frenchman' :) I loved his loyalty to Gabriel and his...I don't know, his way of living life in spite of the obstacles in his path.

  16. Hello, m'lady orannia!

    I actually liked the Chevalier quite a bit myself, but it bothered me a little to have such an important character introduced so late--though now that I think about it, that fits with the saga-like structure of the novel. It's as is we had two separate lives for Gabriel, isn't it?

  17. I vote Gyspy Davey. Got to love those uncoventional bad boys! Lovely character and I hope she does something with him.

  18. It's as is we had two separate lives for Gabriel, isn't it?

    Really good point...the book did have a far more saga-like structure, and it was like Gabriel had two separate lives. Hmmm...maybe the book should have been divided into two parts...

    I liked Gypsy Davy too Aymless, but the Chevalier was....hmmmm ;)

  19. "but the Chevalier was...." an unrepentant rake?? LOL. I liked that about him too.

    I haven't really been blogging for that long and this is the first challenge I've been involved in so I have to say I'm pretty impressed so many of us where able to meet it. Go us!

  20. but the Chevalier was....'an unrepentant rake??'

    *nods* And I liked that about him *grin*

    I haven't really been blogging for that long and this is the first challenge I've been involved in so I have to say I'm pretty impressed so many of us where able to meet it. Go us!

    Definitely! I think we all did marvellously! Knighthoods all around I say!

    Oh, and this is my first challenge too and I really only started blogging in January :) I *gulp* have signed up for Aymless' book club.

  21. *snicker*

    I don't sign up unless they dragged me--like they did here, by the by--but I may "look in" at Aymless'

  22. LOL... I'm sure we can sufficient bait that will make you want stay... or something ^_~

  23. You are truly Shaymless AND evil *pout*

  24. I don't sign up unless they dragged me - like they did here, by the by...

    Dragging? There was no dragging involved. Casting aspirations on my character? I should challenge you to a duel Sir Knight! (Although if I challenge you then I can't name the weapon....) *considers*

    Hook her in Aymless :)

  25. Er, yeah, I'll read this book eventually. I swears. :D

  26. So, m'lady orannia... may I suggest a post stating the conditions for a discussion? (i.e., spoilers, dissecting characters, plot, tropes, etc)

    That way each of us can post the link to the discussion in our reviews.

  27. Hi All,
    Sorry I've been so checked out-crazy, busy weekend!

    Gypsy Davy is my favorite, and I'd love a book just about him.

    I also still feel like a blogging newbie (it'll be 1 year this month) and I too am so impressed with the follow-thru of most of the group!

  28. LOL - heidenkind. Let me know when you do (and if you review it) and I'll add the link :)

    Sorry azteclady. I kind of meant for this to be the discussion post...but I was swept along with my story and obviously didn't explain it very well. *hangs head* I can go and list all the conditions at the top of this post?

    Almost one year blogging Renee? We so need to have a party :)

  29. OOPS! I hit post comment too early. Or would you prefer a completely separate discussion post azteclady? I'm not very good at this moderation thing, am I?

  30. M'lady orannia, I bow to your wishes, whichever these may be, for this is your kingdom and we but your humble guests and servants.


  31. Thank you :) Sorry - things messy on the home front at present and me not very on the ball :(

  32. I’m with Aymless in liking Gypsy Dave my favorite secondary character.

  33. Aymless/Renee/LeeAnn - yes, Gypsy Davy had...hidden depths. I think there is a lot more to him that meets the eye :)

    Am still a huge fan of the Chevalier *grin*

    So, who is interesting in reading the author's second book? (Don't worry, that isn't a challenge, just a question :)

  34. I have my eyes on Highland Rebel, but I have a ton and a half of books to review so I don't know when I'll do it.

    On secondary characters: I like Davey a lot, and frankly, I would like to know more about his earlier years. The backstory for that family seems more hinted at than explored--Sarah's years with Davey, for example--and I for one would love to know more about it.

    The thing is, though, that the Chevalier is more interesting to me because of his late introduction to the storyline.

  35. ...Sarah's years with Davey...

    Oh yes. Searching for Ross! That in itself would be a good story! Hmmm, you're right about the back story being hinted at...I know some author lasy the scene for future books but I don't think Judith James did it intentionally...it just happened.

    And yes, having the Chevalier appear late in the book means we know less about him and therefore want to know more...

    I know what you mean about loads of books all clamouring for attention... *hides from TBR list*

  36. ARGH! Just finished logging in all my RWA loot. Now the TBR is nearly 250!!! Don't have anymore place for all these books!

    Okay now must read them all! *buckles down and prepares tea*

    What's was the name of that book? *sure there's space somewhere*

  37. Now the TBR is nearly 250!!!

    YIKES! At least mine is under 100 (I think) and mostly lists (since I'm a library junkie :)

    Which book? Judith James' second novel? Highland Rebel.

  38. You are not helping!? *scribbles madly on TBB* ^_~

  39. Aymless, do not talk to me about "no space"

    (hint: there is always space, it's all about getting creative :wink: )

  40. Am now considering under-bed storage or perhaps another bookcase! Hmm... Will have to wait until employment comes through. Will have to live with random piles of books everywhere.

    AL: I know you are way creative about book space. Unfortunately I have just enough general OCD to drive me nuts about organizing stuff.

  41. Oh I know what you mean--I used to have piles organized by genre. Perhaps behind the door?

  42. You are not helping!?

    Sorry...kind of :)

    Behind the door is ingeneous azteclady! I have all my books packed into boxes awaiting purchase of a house and creation of a library... Ah, a girl can dream :)

  43. Am I the only one that thought Gypsy Davey and Ross were lovers? When I first read it, I thought the big secret of their affair would surface... (I'm not saying this sarcastically or sensationally, I really did think this).

    Also, I really enjoyed the Chevalier, although I love Gabriel the most.

    I wished JJ would have shown more of the relationship between Gabriel and Sarah's younger brother (I forget his name)... I thought that could've developed another layer in Gabriel's journey.

  44. The TBR pile: I've actually stuck to my guns about my purchases. I've been using Goodreads.com to maintain what I'd like to read and purchase my books as I can.

    I have the most fantabulous sister in the world, who bought me a Sony PRS a couple of years ago. I've been buying only digital and have been slowly replacing all my paper books. Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have a huge book sale.

  45. Interesting take, Mariana! I confess that I never saw that--perhaps because from the beginning I saw Davey's affection for Sarah as much more than brotherly.

    There is another aspect of the story that bothered me that I haven't seen discussed much: Gabriel's self-mutilation (the cutting).

  46. It did cross my mind Mariana...initially, not so much about Davey and Ross but about Ross...

    There is another aspect of the story that bothered me that I haven't seen discussed much: Gabriel's self-mutilation (the cutting).

    LeeAnn mentioned that in her review, but IIRC she was the only person to note it.

  47. I only briefly touched on the self mutilation. It's a bit overwhelming, and I don't think it was ever discussed in depth in the book. It's not discussed at all during the latter part of the book (I don't think).

    I'm leery of ever delving into such a subject as I've no practical experience (myself or anyone I know). It's incredibly sad to me that he did that, and one of the reasons I put the book down for as long as I did.

  48. My issue is that, from what little I understand about self mutilation, is that it's not realistic that Gabriel would have done it for so long to cope with the misery that was his life pre-Sarah, and then when his life is even more miserable, there's no mention whatever. Like it never happened.

    That bothers me--a lot. If he wasn't healed enough to go back to Sarah, then how come he didn't cut himself again again?

    His anguish was enourmous before knowing Sarah, wasn't it all the more piercing for having known and lost her?

    And if it is for her that he doesn't cut himself, why is there no mention of this?

    This is a thread that is made much of at the beginning and then abandoned in a most unsatisfactory manner, IMneverHO.

  49. I only briefly touched on the self mutilation.

    Sorry Mariana. Classic example of my current poor memory at it's 'best'.

    Mariana/azteclady - excellent point. It is mentioned at the beginning, discussed with Sarah and then...nothing. I don't know anything about the subject...but I think I know someone I could ask...

  50. I agree, azteclady.

    Also, for me, the end of the book felt rushed and so many things were just magically resolved: his cutting; Sarah forgiving him so quickly; the younger brother isn't discussed...

    Sarah's character isn't delved into enough either... she just seemed like a prop.

  51. I think that here the labeling hurt a bit--we all expected a romance, wherein most of the focus would be on the couple, but I think this is basically Gabriel's story. If I had not expected a romance, perhaps I would have been much less annoyed by the last hundred pages... :wink:

  52. Hello friends!
    I've been reading the comments via emails and wanted to chime in at least a half dozen times... and now here I am. Finally. =)

    I actually had a couple of points I had at first included in my review, but ended up taking them out for fear of my review reading more like a dissertation. Gabriel's self mutilation was one of those points. At first I found Gabriel's act of cutting his wrists very disturbing and it made me a bit uncomfortable, as it should. Then there was an exchange of dialogue between Sarah and Gabriel in which he explains why he cuts himself and it changed my discomfort to empathy. Gabriel cuts himself because living the life he was leading he always felt numb. He felt numb when under the influence of drugs or alcohol in order to "work" AND he felt numb when sober simply because he has never had any emotional or physical intimacy with anyone his whole life. Cutting himself and seeing blood run from his veins was the only way he felt alive. I think it is a very important component of Gabriel's character and of course, of his story as told in the novel. I also think the cover art captures that part of Gabriel beautifully.

  53. That's ok orannia, I barely remember the names of the characters, much less what everyone's review says ;) Isn't memory the second thing to go with age? Can't remember what the first one is :p

    azteclady, you may have a point; it may have been mislabeled. I still wish though that we could've gotten a deeper perspective of the other characters in the book; if only to get a richer experience of what Gabriel had gone through.

  54. Christine, I do see all that--but it doesn't explain how he never relapses. And here's the part where I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough: people who self mutilate relapse, just as people who indulge in any kind of self-destructive behaviour: drugs, alcohol, etc.

    That is what I would have wanted to see acknowledged somewhere--even if it was a passage with Gabriel struggling with the urge to hurt himself, and stopping in the nick of time (and it would have been great if memories of Sarah would have been the catalyst for him not to relapse) but the fact that *that* urge to cut again is never addressed... well, I couldn't just accept it.

  55. Hi Christine! I got why Gabriel did it. It made sense to me and hurt me. But, it was not mentioned again... for all the pain he felt and for all the feelings he wouldn't allow himself after escaping a second time (from a horrible situation), the self mutilation was not discussed again. It felt incomplete to me.

  56. Ahhh.. and here it is I thought I was pointing out an important aspect of his self mutilation that you guys missed or forgot. lol

    I can see your points, then, that it wasn't brought up again. Maybe it would have been effective for Gabriel to have attempted cutting himself at least when back in Paris and then finally in London with Chevalier... but stopping himself at the thought of Sarah.

  57. I think that here the labeling hurt a bit...

    I'm with you on that. It felt more like...a romantic historical saga than a historial romance.

    Christine - you're right, the self mutilation is a very important component of Gabriel, which is why azteclady's point about it not reappearing in any shape or form in the second half of the book is so spot on. It just needed that little bit more...although I wonder if it was there originally but was (and I'm sorry to use this word, it is unintentional) cut...

  58. I guess I didn't think about it because I was preoccupied by that point of wishing him back with Sarah.

    I kept thinking, "Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel,"
    (shaking my head)
    "To hell with your lack of self worth (again)... you KNOW Sarah accepts you and loves you for YOU no matter what you've seen, done, or had done to you. Go to her, you dolt."

    "Gabriel! She's your wife!! GO.TO.HER.!"

    NOW, dammit!

  59. Oh, Christine, yes!

    It annoyed me no end that he seemed to look around for excuses. Hello, you are alive and she loved you when you were much lower in your own eyes than you are now, why the hell won't you go see what she thinks of you NOW?


    Not that it, you know, irritated me or anything...

  60. LOL! Ditto azteclady; I'll just let you speak for me ;)

    It annoyed me a bit (or more than) how quickly she forgave him. I realize she loves him, I mean, I do too... but I would've made him work a little bit before accepting him back.

  61. I just realized I wrote a spoiler up there about her being his wife and all. That should be okay, right? I mean... this is a book discussion after all?

    When Gabriel showed up in Sarah's room after their confrontation at his house, I was hoping she'd be really angry and make him beg for her forgiveness. Not just beg, but really work for her, you know? Yet... they were already husband and wife and if I were Sarah, I'm pretty sure I would have reacted just as she did. I think I'd still feel heartbroken for a long time afterward, but I wouldn't have wanted to waste any more time apart, and I would have still needed a lot of reassurances from him for a while. But I wouldn't have let him leave my room that night or any other night after he came to me. Life is too short and love is too precious.

  62. Oh no, Christine, that's the point of this thread, discussion of the book in much more detail (read: spoilerish) than we would normally indulge in a review.

    And now you are making me wonder at how I would react in Sarah's circumstances (though I'm still annoyed at Gabriel)

    Erm... unless my lady orannia deems otherwise, naturaly.

  63. AL/O: Behind the door would work. Hmm... how much space should be allotted for clearance. Hmm... I mean really I only have to open it enough to get out, right?

    O: You just remember this when your TBR is taking over your house... because I intend to be just as helpful :D

    Marianna: I just like the feel of paper. Don't know if I could go completely paperless. Knowing me I'd probably have both. (thus would still be looking for more book space ^_~)

    On the multilation thing: I didn't really think much on it. I think everyone has their own versions of self multilation. Gabriel's is just more visual and in the open.

    I too found the ending to be most unsatisfying. I'm with AL. The ending was too tidy. I mean they were Married! How much more could she commit to him? *sigh* At that point I was ready to slap him upside the head. And when she took him back with so little fuss! *ugh*

    As to how I would react in Sarah's situation... bit more ranting and raving but would eventually take him back. But on the other hand I wouldn't have married him as I fear commitment so its all probably a moot point.

  64. To hell with your lack of self worth (again)...

    See, I got that. Battling low self-esteem is a day-to-day battle IMO, so it didn't surprise me that Gabriel kept falling.

    As for how I would react in Sarah situation...I don't think I would trust him not to leave me again.

  65. Aymless, if you pile your paperbacks behind a door with their spines parallel to the wall, you can usually open the door all the way--you can check the picture of the paperback bookcase I made for behind my bedroom door. Unless the piles are as high as the doorknob, you shouldn't have an issue with clearance.

    Of course, if we are talking trade or hardback, then it's another matter entirely.

    On the book: I believe that the fear of him leaving is why Christine said she wouldn't let him out of her sight again--which is basically what Sarah does. And that does feel more realistic than the (relatively easy) forgiveness she grants him.

    Something else about the book that bothered me is this: the first two thirds are rich in details. Even though there is the occasional jump in time (a few months that we only hear as "and they got used to each other" or what not) for the most part we get quite a bit of day to day interaction and detail. We *see* Gabriel's progress as he gets used to being free and accepted, etc.

    On the last hundred and fifty pages we get years worth of stuff with only a couple of pages here and there describing actual scenes. There as a lot of "and then they lived there and did this, but then this happened and they moved to this other place, and then this happened..." Too much telling, very little showing--and what was shown was more about the Chevalier than Gabriel--or so I felt.

  66. Wow I feel late to the party. For me the self mutilation ended when she gave him the leather wrist bands. I think it helped to make him feel a little bit more understood and accepted.

    As far as just being able to stop, it can be done. A lot of the time (not always) self mutilation is a cry for help or to be acknowledged. It’s someone feeling alone and misunderstood. Feeling like there is no end to the pain and the hurt one feels. And there are many different ways, cutting although the most common I think is not the only way and is a lot more common than I think people realize.

    And as someone said he cut himself because he was numb and it helped him feel alive. After he and Sarah became closer he felt alive again and didn’t need to cut himself to help fight the numbness. And even after being captured and then not going back to Sarah he still felt alive and had to work at being numb again. So I don’t think that he needed to cut himself anymore because while he didn’t feel worthy enough to go back to her he still felt alive because of her.

  67. Azteclady said: I believe that the fear of him leaving is why Christine said she wouldn't let him out of her sight again--which is basically what Sarah does.

    This is a really good point and quite possibly how Sarah felt. I think for me, I wouldn't have let him out of my sight again because I wouldn't have wanted to waste any more time apart. But yeah... I could see Sarah feeling the way you said.

    LeeAnn said: For me the self mutilation ended when she gave him the leather wrist bands.

    Excellent point, LeeAnn. I almost forgot about the leather wristbands and agree with your reasoning on his self-mutilation.

    And even after being captured and then not going back to Sarah he still felt alive and had to work at being numb again.

    This is a great observation! I didn't even think of the fact that when he returned to Paris with Chevalier he was working in the opposite direction--trying to feel numb knowing he was alive.

    But oh how I wish he had enough faith in Sarah to go back to her sooner. Then again, orannia reminded us of how it would be more natural for him not to in her comment above when she said that battling low self esteem or self worth is a day-to-day thing and she wasn't surprised that he kept falling instead of going back to Sarah. It really would have been more comfortable and natural for him to not go to her straight away.

  68. Thank you LeeAnn! Excellent points IMO :) And yes, Gabriel was trying to work in reverse...capture that numb feeling...

    Being placed in the custody of the Frenchman from his past, when he thought he had...not escaped (because I guess you can never escape your memories just make them less strident) but moved forward...no wonder he attempted to use the only weapon he had (to numb his feelings) so as not to drown. But, by not cutting, he had made progress.

    Just thinking of what he went through...