Thief Prince by Cheree Alsop

AlsopThiefPrinceWhy I Read It: I wanted to know what the thief would steal, and yet remain a prince.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Fantasy adventures fans who like a note of seriousness in their fiction.

Narrator: Michele Carpenter

Publisher: Self published (2014)

Length: 9 hours 6 minutes

Author’s Page

Princess Kit, second born to her kingdom, grew up riding, sword fighting, and spending more time with ‘common folk’ than her brother, heir to the throne. However, he becomes ill and it is grim. Kit is elevated to heir status and is forced to hang out with other kingdom heirs, much to her despair. Once a year, all the Crowns (heirs to the thrones) of several small nations gather to socialize. This year, they had the extra treat of ostracizing Kit, seeing her as a stand in and inferior. One night, they gather and things change drastically. They are all kidnapped and forced on a horseback journey of several days as winter draws near. Prince Andric, defacto ruler of the dying nation Antor, has determined that the only way to ave his people and his kingdom is to kidnap the Crowns and hold them as ‘guests’ for the winter.

Kit, who has a longer and much more formal name that she hates, is nice to everyone. In fact, if I have any complaint at all about this book it is that Kit is inhumanely nice, making her character a little unreal. She’s nice to her parents and ill brother (which is cool) but she is also nice to the snotty royalty she is forced to hang out with, including the Thief Prince (who later turns out to be a decent type). But I enjoyed this book greatly and I told my nit-picking self to ignore this character flaw. She’s in her late teens and has acquired many useful skills by not having to sit around being royal all day. These come in to great use once the thieving commences.

The other Crowns have a range of snobbish behavior going on. A few of them are friendly towards Kit even if they don’t see her as an exact equal (and they sure as blue blood aren’t dancing with any commoners at the Antor winter ball). Other Crowns are cruel in their comments and pretty darn hostile to anyone of inferior status. I liked that there was this range because it made them more human. They each reacted a bit differently to their kidnappings and each character grew, even if it was just a smidge.

Prince Andric, who has been ruling the kingdom since his mother died (his father fell into deep grief upon her passing and then stepped right into dementia), is making one last desperate play to save his people. His kingdom has only a single valuable export, diamonds, and the mines have run dry. There are also allegations that some of Antor’s neighboring kingdoms stole from Antor, weakening the kingdom still further. Of course, many of the Crowns didn’t want to hear that. The land of Antor can’t support so many people much longer and Andric and his people may have to leave their kingdom. The relentless attacks of the Brazens, human raiders gone wild and vicious, Antor’s population is in desperate straights indeed.

Now, for the magic. And I loved this bit. Many Antorans have a gift for communicating with animals. An Antoran will notice during their teen years that they have an affinity towards a species of animal. For some, it is horses, others it is most birds. They bond deeply with the animals they communicate with, often seeing through their eyes, and develop lasting friendships. For Andric, it is a small wolf pack. There’ more to this magic, but I will leave that for you to discover. It was very well done in this story.

While Thief Prince has a good solid ending, I was hoping there was a sequel. There’s room to grow with this world that Alsop has created and I very much hope she revisits it at some point.

Narration:  Carpenter did an excellent job. She had the perfect voice (that of a quickly maturing young lady) for Kit. Her male and female voices were distinct, making it easy to keep characters straight. She conveyed emotion quite well and I often was engrossed in a scene.

What I Liked:  Damn near everything; Kit was easy to get attached to and I was often cheering her on; despite Andric being a kidnapper, I grew to like him; the animal magic was great; the ending was very good and felt complete but left the door open for further adventures.

What I Disliked:  My one little quibble is that Kit was too damn nice, to everyone. is any human capable of being that nice?

What Others Think:

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Loren Weaver

Interview: Terra Harmony, Author of The Akasha Saga

HarmonyWaterPlease welcome Terra Harmony! We chat about ecosystems, obstacle courses (enhanced through wine), board games, and much more. Please sit back and enjoy!

You consider yourself an eco-fantasy author. What ecological niches of Earth have you pulled into your writings and expanded upon?

Each of my books of the Akasha Series is titled as an element, Water, Air, Fire, and Earth. I really try to focus in on the plight of each element, why they are so important to us, and how we can use them as natural resources.

‘The Painted Maiden’s Trilogy’ is a lot less in-your-face eco-ism. (I think I just made up a word.) In this series, I try to portray the beauty of the oceans, our planet’s most valuable resource. I want my readers to fall in love with this element, and to understand everything that will be lost if we continue along our current path.

HarmonyTheRisingGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

A dragon! Totally. A nice dragon, to be a little more specific. I would definitely try to ride it. I think I would want to avoid any beast that could read my mind. Sorry, Edward.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Game of Thrones should definitely be a board game. Or is it already? I just googled it…..and putting an Amazon order in now, very good reviews. My gosh it’s like $45! I’m gonna have to wait until the next paycheck. Anyway, I would love to play as Daenerys Targaryen (the dragon lady, of course). But one of those Facebook quizzes told me I am most like Jaime Lannister, so either one of those characters would be good!

HarmonyTheKindredCurseAnthologyWho are your non-writer influences?

Anyone who gives back (especially to the environment). I don’t think I am necessarily influenced by any one or group of people, especially celebrities. I am encouraged by small, every day acts of kindness or hints of confidence and strength.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I don’t enjoy classics – or their reboots. Is that terrible of me to say? Give me vampires, romance, comedy, horror – but give it to me in a contemporary writing style and don’t remake something that has already been done!

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Let’s make it red wine, and instead of a table let’s make it an obstacle course (we will down the wine first). I find you can really discover a person’s true character when putting them through a challenge. I’m not that great at discussion – or talking, for that matter. Actions speak so much louder than words.

I’d love to experience this with Jaime Fraser from the Outlander Series, Captain Jack Sparrow (we need a wild card in there somewhere), The Black Widow from The Avengers, Pippi Longstocking (she is so awesome), and Franklin (the turtle from those children’s books – I have to be able to beat someone).

HarmonyTheDreamerPlaces to Stalk Terra Harmony
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

About the Author: Terra is author of the eco-fantasy novels in the Akasha Series, ‘Water’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Earth’, as well as the Painted Maidens Trilogy. Terra was born and raised in Colorado but has since lived in California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, and Virginia. Terra has served a 5½ year enlistment in the Marine Corp, has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree and presently runs the language services division of a small business. Terra currently lives in a suburb of Washington, DC with her husband of fifteen years and three children.

Doorways: A Book of Vampires, Werewolves, & Black Magic by Tim O’Rourke

O'RourkeDoorwaysWhy I Read It: It was well suited to this spooky season.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Fantasy quest folks who like a touch of the dark.

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Ravenwoodgreys (2014)

Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Series: Book 1 Doorways

Author’s Page

In a dreary isolated house somewhere in the UK, 16 year old Zach Black hates his uncle Thandel and wishes his sick sister, Anna, would recover swiftly. Zach and Anna recently lost their parents and were placed in the care of their bachelor uncle who is rather creepy. Zach stumbles upon a doorway into another world and is swept off to adventure by a very hairy man, the werewolf William Weaver. Once in Endra, a mirror of Earth, Zach is off and running for his life as zombies chase William and his companions, including the injured and unconscious vampire Neanna. Once they reach relative safety, they explain to Zach that their queen is dying and that Zach must help save her as she is the mirror twin of Zach’s own sister; if the Endra queen dies so does Anna.

Plenty of action follows Zach around as he tries to figure out the rules to Endra and search out a key and a box with a heart in it. Back home, Zach is merely a 16 year old kid but in Endra he is a Peacekeeper, complete with magically reloading crossbows. Lots of vile forces work against Zach and his friends, but the worst of them is Throat. He oversees the care of the dying queen and also directs Thandel’s ministrations of the weakening Anna. He also has spidepedes (spelling?) that are pretty creepy, even for this bug lover. Neanna, once she wakes up, and William are both forces to be reckoned with and are loyal friends to Zach. Their adventures take them back into Earth at one point (and it was quite fun to see their mere appearance terrorize the populace), through a haunted graveyard, and to a prison. William has a pretty detailed family background and he was the most in-depth character in the novel. I quite enjoyed learning about his motivations, past injuries, his shame, and his family.

I think this story is geared more for teens as some of the imagery was pretty simple. For example, referring to what would be a graveyard on Earth as a Gray Yard in Endra. However, while some things lacked imagination, there were plenty of beasties that did require the author’s imagination – such as the spidepedes. We get to know Zach through his actions and don’t get a whole lot on his back story. There are 3 female side characters and all 3 start off needing rescuing. Eventually, Neanna rallies and becomes a force in action and wit. For much of the book, Anna is a character to be pitied and hopefully rescued, though she does get to do a little independent action late in the book. The queen must still be rescued. There are 1 or 2 other minor female roles but they didn’t stand out. So most of the action is carried out by the males. I would have liked to see this more balanced. It’s a fantasy world, equality could happen. Still, I enjoyed it enough to check out Book 2 in the series.

The Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a pretty good job with this book. He had a variety of voices, both male and female, both human and nonhuman, and each was distinct. I especially liked his voice for William, which had a werewolfish burr to it and the occasional howl. He also threw in some special effects, such as for the ghosts. They were well placed and weren’t overdone. He gave some of the ghosts a Scottish burr and some ghouls a Hispanic accent. While I personally felt the Hispanic accent was a little overdone (I hear Spanish weekly if not daily), it will probably work for most folks. I do have to say that most of the time the voice for Zach sounded more like a 12 year old boy instead of one for a boy on the cusp of manhood.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: Plenty of adventure; creepy beasties; William’s storyline and history; set up very well for a sequel.

What I Disliked: The women have limited roles; much of the time Zach’s voice sounded like a 12 year old instead of a 16 year old.

Tis the season for spooky suspense. I am participating in this year’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Anyone is welcome, so swing by SSD to join.

What Others Think:

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Book Reviews by Susan Keefe

Audiobook Reviewer

The Gathering Storm, Part III

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for logic and tiny, tiny violins (on occasion). Stop by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia. There’s plenty of cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered the Chapters 14-21. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) When get a little more quality time with Semirhage. Cadsuane seems to have come up with a way to get under her skin. Do you think it will be enough to get answers from Semirhage? Cadsuane believes it is important to keep Semirhage alive in order to learn useful weaves from her. Do you agree with this logic? Or are you all for killing her?

I think that Cadsuane’s first victory with Semirhage was partly due to the surprise factor. It has probably been millennia since someone spanked Semirhage (there is a lot of spanking in this series, don’t you think?). But I expect Semirhage will get over this initial shock and the ladies will have to come up with more insidious ways to disrespect Semirhage. What could be worse than being spanked in front of servants and eating your green beans off the floor? Well, the Aiel are pretty good at degrading people, so I expect Sorilea will play a part in breaking Semirhage.

I don’t agree with Cadsuane about keeping Semirhage alive in order to learn weaves from her. We have some Aes Sedai who are 1) very strong in the power and 2) have been developing new weaves and rediscovering old forgotten weaves. I would sleep easier knowing Semirhage was dead.

2) Moridin and Rand have a heart to heart. Rand seems to understand the two of them are connected somehow. Do you think he will make use of this information? Upon waking from this chat, Rand confesses to Min about Lews Therin. Will Min tell others as she told others about Rand’s time in the box? And would that be a good or bad thing?

Rand has a lot on his plate right now and I don’t think he will put too much thought into the fact that he is tied to Moridin. I expect that this little fact won’t occur to him again until some critical moment where either someone damages/kills Moridin and it sends Rand into shock or Rand needs Moridin taken out and decides to put a sword through his own foot to distract Moridin.

I expect that Min will tell someone at some point. Perhaps Cadsuane real soon in order to explain to her why Rand is snappish. Perhaps she will tell Elayne or even Aviendha later in order to explain why Rand is trying so hard to keep them all at arm’s length. In this particular case, I don’t think it would be a bad thing, though if Rand were to feel a little betrayed by Min being chatty, I couldn’t blame him either. This struggle with Lews Therin has been very private and very personnel for several long months.

3) Egwene matches wits with three White Sisters (Ferane, Miyasi, & Tesan). And then she is forced to match wits wits with Elaida in front of the Sitters. Will there be harsh punishment for Egwene, beyond the beating Elaida gave her? How will the Sitters react to this? Or will we still have to wait for the Seanchan to invade before the Aes Sedai get their act together?

Oh yeah. I expect that Elaida may even order Egwene Stilled. I think this is my greatest concern for Egwene right now. If Elaida ordered her killed, I believe too many of the Tower Aes Sedai would object or even outright smuggle Egwene out. Of course, Egwene can show others Sisters Traveling and be out of the Tower that way too. But Elaida could order her Stilled and Egwene might not have the time to escape that punishment.

I really, really want the Sitters and the rest of the Aes Sedai to rise up against Elaida but I expect we will need the Seanchan to come boiling over the Tower walls before the Aes Sedai decide Elaida is too stupid and arrogant to lead a paper doll making class. So I expect the Sitters will talk amongst themselves, maybe even among the strongest of each of their Ajahs. Perhaps they might even start making plans, drawing up draft letters to Elaida asking her to step down, etc. But I wouldn’t expect any of them to take action right away.

4) The rebel Aes Sedai have word that the White Tower now has the art of Traveling. Do you believe Elaida is aware of this weave? Or is it just a handful of Red Aes Sedai testing it out? And what do you make of Lelaine’s latest actions? What can Siuan do from this point on in holding the Aes Sedai together?

I don’t think Elaida is aware of this weave, nor does she know how to do it herself. If she did, she wouldn’t be able to hold back from throwing that fact in Egwene’s face. I this it is the Black Ajah that has finally learned it and is testing it out while gathering tribute. The rebel Aes Sedai would be wise to check with their folks on the inside of the Tower to see if any gates have opened behind the walls or if there is talk about this new miraculous weave.

Lelaine is an idiot. She won’t be seen as the hero of this mess that she helped create. Of course she thinks by encouraging chaos and panic that she will be able to step in and be the voice of reason. But things won’t go down that way. Of course, I have a bit more knowledge than she does – like Egwene’s current conflict inside the Tower and also the Seanchan plans to invade the area.

Siuan is taking the correct actions- making sure the camp is as secure as possible. Of course, when the Seanchan show up she will still be surprised, but at least the camp is already on full alert. As to holding the camp together, I expect more Novices will be coming to her to help carry her laundry, bringing her info and listening to her advice. But Egwene needs to hurry up!

5) Tuon holds court in Ebou Dar. Did you find her offer to Beslan fair? Now that she has seen the heads of trollocs, creatures she believed to be of myth, do you think she will be more open to listening to Randlanders?

OK, I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of the Seanchan when they first appeared and it has taken like 10 books for me to start to like them as individuals. Tuon’s high-handed take with Beslan just ticked me off once again. Beslan was given 2 choices – swear fealty or be executed (with honor). That’s it. And Tuon made it sound like both were favors. The Seanchan don’t understand why the Randlanders resist them so, continue to uprise, don’t take the Seanchan oaths seriously and it is because of this kind of thing. Tuon did not show respect for Beslan’s culture nor for his sovereignty. Leaving him in place to rule under the Seanchan is a convenience for them. I think Tuon needs a spanking.

I really hope that she takes on a Randlander as a consultant, even if it is Mat. Having trolloc bodies and heads as examples should give her pause the next time a Randlander says something about ta’verens or bubbles of evil, etc. It might be easier to convince her Truthsayer/Speaker and then have her convince Tuon that she needs to put weight behind reports of such things.

6) Mat opens by comparing women to goats. Did you find his behavior to be ‘husbandly’? Was his own ta’veren-ness working against him in keeping the Aes Sedai with him or was it his own goat-like behavior?

Ha! Well, for Mat, yeah, he was acting a bit protective of Tuon. I guess I need to see him in a tavern, a little toasted, with plenty of flirtatious young ladies around to see if he is truly acting husbandly.

I am guessing that Mat will run into some trouble soon and that the Aes Sedai will come in handy. Therefore, I think his own ta’veren-ness kept him from sending them off with 20 horses and being free of them. Perhaps he will need their help getting off to his super secret mission to rescue Moiraine.

7) Perrin returns to the dream-wolf world, promptly insults the wolves, and is tossed out. Will he be able to conquer his own fears? And if he does, what will he do with the wolves then? Faile has yet more secrets from Perrin. Do you find this good or bad?

Perrin has set his mind to conquering his fear of his inner wolf and I expect he will do just that. Perrin takes a while to consider and decide his course of action. but once he has made that decision, that is what he does.

I expect that we will see Perrin using his inner wolf and the willing wolves around him as scouts at first, but then as soldiers. In the end, I am pretty sure they will be at the last battle and once that is all done, I expect Perrin will have to howl in grief as he buries their numerous bodies. sniffle

I think Faile is silly to keep the secret of Masema’s death from Perrin. But I can see why she would find it difficult to tell Perrin about Rolan, how it protected her even as he flirted with her, how Perrin killed him. For now, I say let her have her privacy in this matter but I expect their relationship would be the stronger if she shared this tale later, perhaps after Tarmon gaidon.

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

You know how some movies and books do body counts – the total number of dead by the end of the story? Well, WoT needs a spanking count – total number of characters spanked, and yes, if a character gets spanked more than once, we can count each individual spanking. Swats to the bottom while being carried through snow by an Aiel counts too.

We have several arrogant groups who all try very hard to hold to their ideas of honor and justice; the Aiel, the Aes Sedai, and the Seanchan. I could toss in the Sea Folk but we haven’t heard much from them this book yet. I sometimes find myself wanting to smack all their heads together. Each seems convinced their way is the best way and to hell with learning about the others.

Everyone wants the Dragon Reborn to kneel at their feet – the White Tower (even Egwene!) and the Seanchan in particular. I find this notion very amusing. Rand, kneel. Ha!

The Seanchan still want to enslave all the women who can channel! Argh! I can’t root for these folks no matter how organized they are, no matter how likely they would be the ones to actually get the job done of uniting Randland.

Interview: Lorne Oliver, Author of The Cistern

OliverTheCisternPlease welcome Lorne Oliver, author of The Cistern, Red Island, and Red Serge. We have a chat about promoting one’s work, favorite T.V. detectives, tasty food, and more. Sit back and be entertained!

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

I don’t see a problem putting cultural references into a novel. It gives readers the chance to go, hey I know that show or song or what have you. If I’m describing a room that has books on a table I will put authors that I like or respect. In 2 of my books I have named characters after songs by the Canadian music group Barenaked Ladies. My books take place in a certain time, so putting in those familiar bits just helps the reader relate.

While working on my current manuscript I fell in love with the TV show Firefly, so of course I had to put in a few references.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

In my Sgt. Reid Series reality, for me, is what makes the fictional stories seem real. One of my most used email contacts is to a real sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I love other police procedural books and TV shows, but seeing a detective walk through a crime scene in spiked heels makes me cringe. I love Rizzoli & Isles and I love Castle, but no cop would ever where 4 inch heels. Not in the RCMP at least. At my crime scenes the police put on full body suits to stop the risk of contaminating the scene. It’s a big deal when an RCMP member tells me I got that part right.

In Red Island and Red Serge I will admit that I put too much of the travel into the story. They take place on Prince Edward Island and I wanted to show some of the island, but at least one or two parts I might cross the line of travel brochure. The cussing…I swear. In my books the characters swear. I had one review complain about it and she gave me a 1 star review, so I came back with The Cistern. It takes place mostly in and around a restaurant. I work in a restaurant and you can’t have a sentence without a foul word. It’s really bugging me right now not to throw some profanity out there. I am working on making the “bad language” more creative and colourful so that the reader may see some humor in it. That’s how I write and I won’t apologize for it. Bathroom breaks is something that I haven’t written yet.

I always tell anyone asking me how to write that you have to put in reality. Even fantasy and sci-fi have reality. The real things – smells, sights, sounds – those are the things people can relate to and what will keep them coming back.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

I think so. Years ago villains were these outrageously bad characters with beady eyes and a scar across their face. They had to be the villain because there was nothing left for them. I think in modern time we are more aware that the boy kicking the ball on the sidewalk, the mom driving kids to soccer could all easily be a villain. In my books I try to emphasize that the nice quiet people are the ones you really have to watch. Heroes that I remember from the past never had any flaws. Really, did James Bond have a wife who hated his work like my Sgt. Reid? Heroes now seem to be tainted in some way.

OliverRedIslandIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

In Red Island I wrote how the bad guy becomes a serial killer. I start him at age 8 being bullied and show through the years how he becomes walking evil. I was hoping readers would hate him, but for some reason they like him.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I’ve always been a really shy person, so self-promotion and getting out there in peoples faces is really hard. This past weekend I was at the Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo. My booth was put right beside a small publisher that had a lot of sci-fi books. The lady there was a great sales person. She started talking to people and offering them free bookmarks. Once they had one of those most of the people took a look at the books. I’m quiet and shy. I had to force myself to talk to people. I find the whole thing challenging. I’m also very competitive, so if I see some other author selling something I start wondering what I’m doing wrong. It’s all a confidence thing.

If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

I’m a chef. I started my career in an Italian restaurant. (the same restaurant The Alcrest Gastropub in The Alcrest Mysteries is based on). If I could go into a fictional world for a meal it would be to go into the world of Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series to have a huge Italian supper with Rizzoli’s family.

OliverRedSergeHow did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

I don’t really remember. It was a long time ago. I know that I have been paid with a $25 hunters seat, a pair of hunting pants, a $25 cheque, and a cheque for $500.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I’m more of a TV guy, so some of these are going to be from there. Castle from Castle, Chrys from my own book The Cistern (I just really love her character), Dexter from Dexter, Dirk Pitt from the Clive Cussler novels, and Gordie LaChance from the Stephen King story The Body.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’m currently working on THE MENU which is the next Alcrest Mystery. After that comes the next novel in the Sgt. Reid Series.

Places to Stalk Lorne Oliver

Facebook page for The Alcrest Mysteries https://www.facebook.com/TheAlcrestMysteries
The Cistern on Amazon (my latest book) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KYHVZTY
Red Island on Amazon (first book / 1st in Sgt. Reid Series) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0085MGA40
Red Serge on Amazon (2nd in Sgt. Reid Series) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HEBVJUS

The Stargazey by Martha Grimes

GrimesStargazeyWhy I Read It: Have enjoyed her other works.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Cozy mystery fans.

Narrator: Steve West

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 13 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 15 Richard Jury

Author’s Page

Note: Although this is Book 15 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

The book opens on a cold night with an assassin in waiting. She has a been of a clean up to do as someone saw something they weren’t suppose to while she was on a job. From this brief prologue, we jump into Richard Jury’s life, superintendent with Scotland Yard. It’s a boring Saturday, at least for Jury. He has few friends, and most of them are police such as he. So he finds himself riding a bus just to be out of the apartment and around people. But of course, he can’t turn off his brain. He notices a woman in a fur coat get on the bus. She stands out because why would someone that dressed up be on the bus? She then gets off and walks a few blocks before boarding the same bus, which had been slowed by traffic, again. But when she leaves the second time, Jury follows out of curiosity. She enters the public grounds of some palace and Jury hangs back under a street light wishing for a cigarette for a time before heading home. When he reads in the paper the next day that a body of a woman was found in the grounds, he wants to smack his head against his desk.

This is my favorite Richard Jury mystery so far. It was a bit more complex than others I have read, and while I could guess certain elements of the various hidden agendas, I didn’t see how it all fit together until the very end. Richard Jury let us in a bit more than usual with this mystery, showing the reader his lonely, empty life and his attempts to fill it. His sidekick Wiggins, who suffers from some never ending cold, was at his side making small talk with those under suspicion. We also got plenty of time with Melrose, formerly lord of this and that, having given up his titles some years back.

The plot twists together art appreciation, foreign travel, astrology, pet sitting, and Jury’s chance encounter on the bus with the woman in fur. Jury taps Melrose to help him with the art appreciation facet since Melrose has some passing interest in it, and the funds to pull off the interest. He in turn goes to his lady friend painter to obtain her assistance. She rents a room from the Crypts family. This family is terribly interesting, being full of small children, a harried but caring mother, and a father who skirts the law or outright breaks it. The descriptions of the various members had me chucking out loud.

One thing that I appreciate about Grimes’s writing is that pets and kids are not simply stand in blanks used to fill out the scenery. Nor does she go overboard in describing them, making them scene hogs. Instead she gives them enough personality ticks to have them add to the scene/plot without being unbelievable. From the dog named Stone to the child witness who poses as the dead woman, these small scenes had me chuckling once again. While I do wish we had at least one main female character, the female side characters, for the most part, bring something to the table.

The Narration: West did a good job once again, giving the male and female, old and young voices distinction. And I always enjoy his congested Wiggins. I do tend to confuse the voices for Jury and Melrose if I am not paying attention. Sure, Melrose has a talking voice laced with ennui, but when it is simply Melrose’s thoughts, the voice is rather similar to Richard Jury’s.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: Jury’s lonely life; untangling the mystery of the paintings; commentary on gentlmens clubs; the tie in to the opening assassin scene was clear to me until near the end.

What I Disliked: Could use at least 1 main female character.

Tis the season for spooky suspense. I am participating in this year’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Anyone is welcome, so swing by SSD to join.

What Others Think:

All Readers

The Gathering Storm, Part II

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host and can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for logic and tiny, tiny violins (on occasion). Stop by Liese’sl at Musings on Fantasia. There’s plenty of cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered the Chapters 7-13. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Questions are being raised about the loyalty of the Aiel, and that Rand keeps misusing them. What are your thoughts? Could we really see another Shaido-like uprising?

Once again, we have culture clash. While the Aiel feel they have worked hard to teach Rand proper Aiel etiquette, few have tried to learn wetlander ways. And, really, they have only had several months, not several years, to get to know each other, and under stressful circumstances. Normally, I would say slap them all upside the head and tell each of them they each have to meet the other partway. But in this instance, Rand really does need their backing and he has been rather callous in several ways. But Rand probably doesn’t need yet another slap upside the head. He needs a life assistant with some political finesse.

I don’t think we will have another Shaido uprising. After all, can there possibly be two Aiel as stupid as Sevanna in a role of power? I think, if anything does happen other than Tarmon Gaidon, it will be that some Aiel choose to quietly leave, melting off into the night, returning to their land of sand.

2. Siuan and Bryne have a heart to heart. Do you see this relationship finally blossoming? Everyone still thinks Moiraine is dead. What impact do you think she could have on the story when she returns?

Well, as slow paced as this relationship has been, I think they might not actually get around to kissing until after Tarmon Gaidon. But, yes, I think they will make quite the formidable team, whether in a time of war or in a time of peace. And I was a little surprised that Bryne had not put together at least the underlying reason Siuan and the rest  put their oaths on pause and ran away. He has known Siuan for some months now and can clearly see she is a serious person, with all her swearing about fish guts, etc.

While I believe Siuan and Moiraine were once upon a time lovers, I don’t think Moiraine’s return to the land of the living will endanger Bryne’s chances with Siuan. I do think that plenty of people will be astounded, maybe to the point of turning into quivering jelly (like Lan) and then the hunt for Lanfear will begin anew.

3. Perrin is belabored by refugees, but is still reluctant  to take on his lordly duties. Will something more have to happen here, before Perrin achieves his “final form” before the Last Battle?

Maybe someone needs to tell Perrin a little white lie, like Faile. And that lie is that Perrin only has to be Lordly until the final battle is said and done and then he can go back to forging, sheep, and carrots. Now, us world savvy people know that is highly unlikely to be the case, but I think if someone with an honest face lied to Perrin he would believe them and get on with being lordly for a bit.

Though I do like his style of holding court. At least he is getting something worthwhile done while telling everyone ‘No, are you an idiot?’

4. Ituralde is delivered from his death trap and is sent to Bashere’s homeland, while Bashere is in Ituralde’s. Would it perhaps have been prudent to switch places? If a shadow invasion of the Borderlands really is imminent, wouldn’t it be good to actually approach the Borderlanders instead?

Once again, I think Rand is just trying to juggle a lot of things and some of them, he doesn’t juggle well. He is rather handicapped in some ways, and I am not talking about his missing hand. He has very little experience dealing with world leaders, and most of that has been under less than pleasant circumstances. He doesn’t know what the final game board will look like. He has all these independent thinking and acting entities, some actively working against him some accidentally acting against him. So, I think he grabs a friendly, usable piece and puts them where they are immediately needed, and then doesn’t bother to switch things around later.

Besides, If either Bashere or Ituralde had to stay behind to keep their country safe instead of honoring a call from Rand, I think that is exactly what they would do in their homeland. And Elayne might very well be pissed at Rand for scooping up the Borderlanders and putting them back in the Borderlands, since she is using them to shore up her own crown.

5. Egwene’s infiltration is gathering momentum. She’s talking to sitters as a near equal and has even been in contact with the Black Ajah hunters. Meanwhile, Lelaine is winning the political war on the outside. Should Egwene start hurrying? Having earned the respect of these sisters, what would be her next step?

Of course I want Egwene to hurry, but these are big reptile squashing tomes for the final 3 books. Really, as much credit as she has garnered from the Tower Sisters, I still think that Elaida will have to do something stupid before they really take Egwene’s side. And then there is that prophetic dream Egwene had back in Book 11 or Book 12 – about the Seanchan washing over the Tower. It would be funny if Rand asked the Seanchan to give Egwene an assist…..

As for what Egwene should do next….Well, I think she needs to start a knitting or sewing circle where novices, Accepted, Sisters of any Ajah are welcomed. There would be biscuits and forkroot tea, of course. She does want to start breaking down all these barriers between Ajahs and this seems like something simple that she would be able to do quietly.

6. Gawyn is finally on the move, but where? Egwene does not want a rescue… do you expect him to listen or will he just make a mess of things?

In many respects, Gawyn isn’t an idiot so I expect he will get clear of the Younglings and the White Tower Aes Sedai before he tries to head for Tar Valon. And, yes, I expect him to bollucks up his ‘rescue’ of Egwene.

I need to consult a map. Is there the slightest chance that while he is dodging the Younglings, he will run into Perrin and Faile, and hence his mom? Because that would take one major task off his list (Kill Rand for killing Morgase). Of course, if Egwene doesn’t get off her high horse about Asha’men bonding Aes Sedai, she may send Gawyn after Rand’s head herself. Egwene will at least have sense to wait until after Tarmon Gaidon, right?

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

It was fun to watch Cadsuane bring Rand up short in that meeting with the Aiel and have Nynaeve thinking she was just about to do the same thing. Though I don’t think it would have had quite the same effect since Nynaeve has been bossing Rand around for years, whereas Cadsuane just does it when he needs it.

I know Lelaine and Romanda think they are the only two vying for power, but they really have over looked Siuan. She is playing them off each other, buying Egwene time, and holding the ‘rebels’ together. Oh, and has time to do laundry, and do it well.

I think Ituralde took it pretty well, having the Dragon Reborn swing by for tea, a chat, and a magical gate opening to relative safety.

As with so many drugs, can you build up a tolerance to forkroot? The imp in me is hoping that Egwene will be the first one to notice this and put it to good use.

Gawyn’s final chat with the older Warder was chilling. I wasn’t sure Gawyn had a friend there or not until he turned and left Gawyn to saddle his horse.