Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review & Contest - Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert


Mia Lockhart has a secret. Her mother was a Keeper, as was her grandmother - women who were warriors, healers, and protectors. As Mia practices among the boxers and martial artists of South London, she has no idea that a man who calls himself "Dragonfly" is watching from the shadows. Adrian Ashton is a brilliant scientist, an expert in the field of biophoton emissions from cells within the human body. He is also a skilled martial artist - and a modern day vampire. With the aid of an ancient Chinese text, he has mastered the art of draining the chi of his opponents - the vital energy that flows through their bodies. Mia finds herself drawn to his dark genius. but when he targets the man she loves, she is forced to chose between them. It becomes a fight to the death in which love is both the greatest weakness and the greatest prize. A fast-paced, highly evocative thriller, Keeper of Light and Dust is a twenty-first-century novel exploring themes as old as time: the imperative of violence and the redemptive power of love.
(- inside cover flap)



~Author's Notes

Dragonfly

A thief of light...

I have always been interested in the concept of chi - the vital energy, which forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine and which is so prevalent in Oriental thought. I therefore decided to turn my villain into a brilliant scientist who is passionate about chi and who has devoted his life to the study of this mysterious life force. But Adrian Ashton is not just a genius, he is also a killer. He has mastered the secret of draining the chi of his victims and making it his own. It was great fun researching the world in which he lives and I enjoyed putting a twist to the vampire legend, creating a vampire for the twenty-first century: a thief of light.

My second source of inspiration was the world of martial arts. I am a kickboxer and I love nothing more than to spar with some very cool guys in the two London dojos where I train. For years I've wanted to write a book that draws on my knowledge of the fighting world. Furthermore, I have long been fascinated by the many myths and legends featuring battle-scarred men who are protected - or cursed - by beautiful, powerful women. And so I created the character of Mia Lockhart, a martial artist descended from a long line of Keepers: women who are both warriors and healers.

Tattoos, quantum physics, sweaty men and chi: I started writing Keeper of Light and Dust* with a number of haphazard ideas in my head. Some of these ideas have been germinating for a while. When I researched the topic of 'remote viewing' for my previous book, Season of the Witch, I became interested in the concept of psi-space and read up on Hall Puthoff's work at Stanford Research Institute and his enthusiasm for the Zero Point Field. A chance reading of Lynne McTaggert's The Field, in which she offers a compelling argument for the concept of an interconnected universe, further inspired me, specifically her chapter on Fritz-Albert Popp and his research into biophotonics. Her second book, The Intention Experiment, was invaluable to my understanding of remote healing. My imagination was also kicked into overdrive by Robert O. Becker's intriguing book, The Body Electric, which deals with organ regeneration and biolectronics.


~Chi

Chi

At the heart of my novel - like a golden pulse - lies the concept of chi.

Chi has never been clinically established inside a laboratory and it is not a concept used in Western medicine. In China, however, it is different. Chi lies at the heart of traditional Chinese medicine and the codified Chinese acupuncture studies go back two thousand years.

The concept of vital energy informs The Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine - the historical equivalent of the Western Corpus Hippocraticum.

Chi enters the body through acupuncture points and flows through twelve meridians and two midline collaterals and through paired yin and yang organs. The movement of chi builds up in wavelike movements, completing a cycle every twenty-four hours. In the early morning hours, chi is at its lowest ebb.

Although chi cannot be dissected under a microscope and does not fit the empirical model, many Western scientists have done experiments with acupuncture. Robert Becker, an American orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in biomedical electronics, found that there are electrical charges separate from the pulses of the body's nervous system, which correspond to the body's acupuncture meridians. Other scientists have proved that there are differences in the levels of potassium and sodium in acupuncture points compared to the surrounding tissue. Acupoints also exhibit lower skin resistance: these points conduct electrical current more efficiently. What's interesting is that this lower skin resistance is even measurable after death.

Chi and Reiki

In Keeper my heroine is a long distance Reiki practitioner who uses chi as a healing force to protect the fighters in her keep. The founder of Reiki is considered to be Usui Mikao (1865-1926) but it is worth remembering that the origin of healing through universal energy dates back before the time of Christ and Sammasambuddha. Fa gung - the transmission of chi through meditation -- is a very old concept.

Chi and martial arts

I believe in chi myself and I also think that we are all subliminally aware of each other's chi and react to it intuitively. Some among us are blessed with strong chi, in others vital energy is blocked and may lead to malaise and depression.

There is no place where I am more aware of my own vital energy than when I am training in the dojo. Increasing your chi sensitivity is central to the discipline of martial arts. For a beautifully written exposition of this journey I highly recommend Kenji Tokitsu's Ki and the Way of the Martial Arts.


~Review

I wasn't familiar with this book before I was approached for this blog tour. I had heard of the previous novel, Season of the Witch but not this one. I also didn't have a lot of knowledge about the topic of chi and martial arts but I knew enough to understand the description.

Natasha Mostert writes a detailed thriller that combines the western world with the eastern world, modern times with ancient times. Mia is a Keeper, a secret bestowed to her by her mother at the age of 18. She uses it to protect the fighters around her and since she is also a tattoo artist, she marks them each with a special tattoo. She has the closest connection with Nick, another fighter that she has been friends with since childhood. Their relationship has evolved into more than just friendship, they just don't seem to realize it yet. When Adrian enters their lives as Nick's new trainer you can feel the balance shift. Adrian helps Nick prepare for his big fight and achieve the best fitness of his life. Although Mia is drawn to Adrian's talent she senses that there is danger as well. And she is right. She eventually becomes involved in a battle of basic good versus evil. An evil man has the desire to live forever and he won't let anything get in his way.

The world of marital arts is described in detail and you can see how well Natasha's own experiences as a kickboxer have influenced her writing. It's not just about fighting but about the art and the history of it. Some parts of this took me longer to understand but as the story went on it became more clear. This story is a work of fiction but the concepts are not. While increasing chi sensitivity is an important part of marital arts, the author has used other seemingly unrelated ideas (to me anyway) and her own experiences and connected them to form a different kind of thriller. I am fascinated by the concept of Chi and how vital energy flows through our body. I have considered acupuncture for my own chronic pain but it's an expense that my medical insurance won't cover. (Big surprise) I have become more and more open to the study of other practices, to at least consider the possiblities of benefits and applications. I applaud Natasha for following her passion and for being so creative with this book.


~Blog Tour

There are other blogs having reviews and giveaways this month. Thank you to Sheri at A Novel Menagerie for asking me to join in.

A Novel Menagerie - April 2nd

Literary Escapism – April 7th

The Literate Housewife Review - April 10th

Peeking Between The Pages – April 17th

Saavy Verse & Wit – April 21st

Jo-Jo Loves to Read – April 28th


www.natashamostert.com - author's website
www.thekeepergame.com - *The Keeper Game* is a personality game based on the book. You will be assigned a profile based on your answers and prizes are possible. First prize is a Kindle and there are weekly gift vouchers offered.

Publisher: Dutton/Penguin
Release Date: April 2, 2009
Pages: 310
Price/Format: $25.95/Hardback
Type: Fantasy
Age: Adult


** My First Contest
! **

For a chance to win a copy of Keeper of Dust and Light leave a comment below.
For an extra chance, become a follower or subscriber (also those who already are) and let me know.

Contest ends April 20th.

52 comments:

  1. I entered LitHousewife's contest. Can I enter yours, too? :-D

    And you've been in my Google Reader for months!

    Is this really your first contest? Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, you're fast! You certainly can enter mine too. It is my first contest because I've been too lazy, and too far behind to do one sooner. Now I've got a bunch coming up (another one this week) so stay tuned and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sure, she can enter both. Wouldn't it be lighting striking if she won both? Hee Hee.

    FANTASTIC review. Natasha will love it!

    Sheri

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats on your first contest! I enjoyed your review.

    This book sounds really interesting and I like reading about the author's thought process while writing. Cool!

    Can you toss my name in the hat too?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds like a really interesting book - I'd love to win a copy :-)

    I follow your blog.

    angela.donner (at) gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yay for first contest! I have a feeling it won't be your last, as you'll soon find it highly addictive to give things away, just to warn you :p

    I loved Season of the Witch, so please enter me Wrighty! I'll have a link up at my blog for this shortly.

    Thanks

    ~ Popin

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Wrighty, There is an award for you at Merry Weather :D

    BevE

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, and I just have enter your giveaway. Congratulations on your first contest :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm looking forward to this book. I've been hearing mixed reviews on it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You made this sound so interesting that I really want a chance at it. I didn't know I would until I read this! Thanks!
    I also follow, of course!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I would love to be entered for this book.

    I am a follower.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would love to be entered please! Thanks!

    Lesley

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi! Just a note to say I've posted about this on Win A Book. No need to enter me, though.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would love to win this book. These are topics I have some familiarity with. And I like the new twist put on them.

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have been receiving your RSS feed to my google reader for the past few months!

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. sounds good, please enter me into this giveaway contest.

    thanks,
    jakewoodworth(AT)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is one of the books on my wish list, so I would love a chance to win a copy.

    I am a follower of your blog.

    Margay

    ReplyDelete
  18. This looks great! Please enter me!

    BookCrossingKitten22[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great review! I am dying to read this one, so count me in.

    gypsyrover21(at)yahoo(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love the new look! So cool. My daughter and her hubby are both martial arts nuts. I'd like a chance to win this for them. My granddaughter had her second degree black belt when she was 8 years old. It took my daughter until she was 38 to get hers.
    florida982002[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ooh, vampires and martial arts? YAY. Count me in please :D

    jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds really good. Please enter me.

    Lori
    lannoe@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. This looks so good. Thanks for the contest, Sararush at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I just started following your blog too. Thanks! Sararush at hotmasil dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. you know I am a faithful follower!

    florida982002[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Being half-Chinese myself, I am especially interested in seeing how Natasha crafts this tale, weaving in ancient Chinese philosophy!
    Thanks so much for the giveaway :)
    hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd love to win this book:)

    bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm a follower.

    bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  29. This book sounds awesome! Thanks for the chance!!

    areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  30. I've been following this blog tour, so please enter me!

    I am now a follower :)

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  31. This sounds really interesting, I would love to read it!

    marielay@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am also a follower!

    marielay@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Debbie, please enter me too if international.

    I am thinking of holding a contest too sometime for the first time. I bet it must be exciting :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. No need to enter me in this giveaway, but I wanted to stop by and check out the tour stop here. I really enjoyed your review of this book....look for mine next week.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Please enter me in this giveaway!! I follow you now 8)

    Thanks so much,

    mishtakes AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Please enter me. Thanks!

    tiffanyak1986(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I don't think I've read a bad review for this one yet. And I have to agree that it sounds like a great story. It's nice to find one that doesn't sound like everything else that's out right now. I would love to be entered for the chance to win. :0)

    Thanks so much!
    librarygrinch at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  38. This sounds like a great concept. I'd love to check out the book!

    -violetreads at gmail

    ReplyDelete
  39. I would love to be entered!

    lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

    ReplyDelete
  40. please enter me!

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Sounds like a great book I became a follower.

    ReplyDelete
  42. This sounds fantastic. Count me in.

    Nely
    Nelaine(dot)Sanchez(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I would like to be entered please.

    sharon54220@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. I know I'm cutting it close, but I'd like to get in the running too :P

    ReplyDelete
  45. You make this sound wonderful!
    quelleheure4[at]gmail{dot}com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I just subscribed through google reader.
    quelleheure4[at]gmail{dot}com

    ReplyDelete
  47. Please enter me! I also subscribed in google reader.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Great review. I'd love to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I loved Season of the Witch, so I'd like to give this one a try as well.

    Also, I am a subscriber.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Congrats on your first contest!!

    Wdebo :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh yeah, and I'm following and my email is

    electricalbookcafe@yahoo.com

    Wdebo

    ReplyDelete