The Crescent Strikes by Dean Warren

WarrenTheCrescentStrikesWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: David Dietz

Publisher: Dean Warren (2014)

Length: 10 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Pacification of Earth

Author’s Page

This book picks up a littler over a year after Book 1 ended. Benjamin Bjorn is still a man of power and still married to an Achiever (Jenny) who got pregnant and had his child. While North America has settled somewhat into the new regime, rumblings are occurring across Europe – their Welfies want the same things. Also, the Middle East and Asian countries are wanting to expand their territories into Europe, needing more resources for their large populations. War is imminent.

Honestly, I was lukewarm on Book 1 and I am the same with Book 2. There’s still a good pacing, the story line having a nice mix of politics, action, some quiet contemplation, and sexytimes. I enjoyed the various betrayals as that mixed things up a little. Bjorn is no longer the underdog but he still champions them.

Again, the plot lines were pretty predictable. I never worried that our heroes would be killed or that the bad guys would get away unscathed in some manner. We did have several more cultures involved in this book (which I liked) but their portrayals in the book relied heavily on dated cultural stereotypes (which made things predictable and a little boring).

There were some additional ladies in this book and we even had a female Prime Minister for the UK. However, nearly all the plot decisions were made by men and most of the women were incompetent. Contraception, or rather, the lack of it, came up several times throughout the book. The responsibility to hold off on reproducing was always laid at the woman’s feet. This struck me as an oddity for this story: The world as a whole is over populated; there are several types of contraception available to both men and women today; this is set in the near future where there would be more types of contraception available if anything. So I didn’t get why our hero Bjorn was putting all the blame on Jenny and none of the responsibility on his own shoulders. It was a recurring theme throughout the book and it struck me as a dated idea. Perhaps even a sexist one.

One of our female characters does get to carry the day at the end, which was nice. However, it felt more like an apology for making the ladies so inconsequential for 1.8 books. I still liked Uncle Will, though we saw less of him in this book. There were a handful of other characters that had their moments. Over all, it was a little more disappointing than Book 1, American Revolt.

I received this audiobook at no charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: David Dietz did a fine job with this book. It called for plenty of accents, had a sizable cast of characters, and required emotion from time to time. He did a really good job with all the various accents. He also had distinct character voices for all the different characters.

What I Liked: Underdog hero leading the way; good pacing; plenty of cultures.

What I Disliked: The plot lines are mostly predictable; the ladies are mostly vapid things; responsibility of contraception placed on the women alone; relies heavily on dated cultural stereotypes.

Giveaway & Interview: John C. Dalglish, Author of Torn by the Sun

DalglishTornByTheSunFolks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction & mystery author John C. Dalglish! We chat about dead authors, villains, obstacle courses, and plenty more. For details on the giveaway of a signed copy of Torn by the Sun, then scroll to the bottom.

If you could be an extra on a TV/movie mystery, what show would it be?

DEXTER– it was the first show my wife and I ever binge watched. We were addicted.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

ERMA BOMBECK– I know that probably comes across like-WHAT?!- but she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever read. I would love to swap family stories about my kids.

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

I don’t know if they’re more or less evil than before- but the acts of the villains are more heinous by description. The heroes are probably a little less plastic.

In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

The book I will be giving away on your blog (Torn by the Sun) is my first attempt at Historical Fiction. I found the process very interesting. The main thing I had to keep in mind was that if I made up something that wasn’t factual, then it would definitely be caught by someone. It kept me on my toes and made sure I did my research.

DalglishWhere'sMySonWhat do you do when you are not writing?

Mostly play stay-at-home husband and grandpa. Oh, and think about writing alot!

What side characters in your work have caught more attention than you expected?

Actually, I tell the story about how my main character in the Det. Jason Strong series came to be. It turned out that I met him at the same time as my readers, when he showed up at the first crime scene of the first book, WHERE’S MY SON? He was the lead detective but not someone who was supposed to be a lead role. I liked him enough to make a whole series about him!

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

“The Great Airport Mystery”– a Hardy Boys novel. I read the whole series.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

First of all, I’m not much of a drinker-wine or beer occasionally- but I love me a Diet Cherry Limeaid from Sonic.

I would probably invite Macgyver– or the Rock!

DalglishTornByTheSunTorn by the Sun Book Blurb:

Keiko Yoshida is a beautiful, young Japanese-American in Pre-World War 2 San Francisco.

Jesse Sommers is a native San Franciscan, who walks into Keiko’s life just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Neither has any way of knowing what is coming, nor the impact events will have on their lives, but they are determined to hold on to a love being ‘TORN BY THE SUN’.

DalglishWhere'sMySonWhere’s My Son? Book Blurb: 

What would you do if your son went missing? How far would you go to get him back?

Michael Barton comes home to find his infant son gone. There is no trace of the kidnappers, and the police have no leads. Michael is driven by a promise and he won’t stop.

Detective Jason Strong led the task force to find Michael’s son and has become his friend. But as Michael’s darkness grows, Jason fears he may be the only one who can stop him.

It is a race against time, as the detective tries to stop the events that will change everyone, before it’s too late.

Places to Find John Dalglish

http://jcdalglish.webs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DetectiveJasonStrong?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/

http://www.amazon.com/John-C.-Dalglish/e/B007LS4SV6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_18?qid=1434564423&sr=1-18

Giveaway!

The author is giving away 1 signed copy of his Historical Fiction, Torn by the Sun, to a US/Canada winner.

To enter, answering the following in the comments:

1) What now-dead author would you like to interview?

2) How do I contact you? Email is preferred.

If you share this post on social media, let me know in the comments and you get extra points. Contest ends Mon. July 13th, 2015 at midnight.

DalglishTornByTheSun

Kushiel’s Dart – Part VIII

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

Hello everyone! Welcome to the read along of Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart. You can find the schedule HERE. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We also have a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs. Folks are always welcome to join us.

This week, Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog is your host this week. Leave a link to your post in the comments so we can all visit you. Folks are also most welcome to answer any and all questions in the comments and join in the conversation.

So just an FYI for next weekend (July 4th). I will be working an event out of state and I don’t know yet what my internet access will be, so if I post late (like Mon. or Tues.), it’s because I was busy, tired, didn’t have internet access, or all of the above.

Chapters 64-73 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

1.  We finally go sailing and everything seems to be going so well that we were lulled temporarily into a false sense of security!  Sailors are a superstitious bunch, throwing coins to the Lord of the Deep, for example.  What did you make of the Master of the Straits?  Any similarity to other myths or legends?

When I first read this, I thought this must be some sort of ocean deity, but other than Ariel’s dad in Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Greek mythology, I didn’t have too many references. I have been land locked most of my life, so not too many ocean myths and and such in my life. Since my first read, I have read a lot more mythology mash up stories and I can better appreciate what Carey has done here. Here, the Celtic god Manannan mac Lir might be the closest. Next section we learn more.

I really love that Phedre paid their passage with a Skaldi hearth song. It was oddly fitting.

2. Hyacinthe plays a much larger role in this instalment and has come into his own, plus given a new title – ‘Waking Dreamer’.  His travels so far have been very bitter sweet and you really do feel for him.  Bearing that in mind what did you make of the strange dream that Breidaia had where she saw Hyachinthe on an island – this was skimmed over a little but did it give you pause for thought.  Do you have any ideas of what’s in store for our Waking Dreamer?

This being a reread, I know the answer. But honestly, my first time reading this I totally missed this strange dream. After all, there were both old and new prophesies or visions being tossed around a lot in this section.

I do like that Hyacinthe had such an integral role in this section. He’s been a fun character, but a side character. Last week’s and this week’s sections really fleshed him out. Also, as Phedre does, I kind of ache to Anastazia knowing that she probably saw somewhat of what was to come for Hyacinthe.

3. You have to hand it to Ysandre for choosing Phedre as Ambassador.  It seems her strange talents come in very useful indeed.  What did you make of her tactics and powers of persuasion?

Well, Phedre was using the skills she has at her disposal. She was spot on with Duc de Morbhan (spelling?), guessing his deepest desires correctly. Yet she was also cautious enough to have a priestess witness the contract. Then when it came to the twins, she had to have it pointed out to her by Graine that she now had the key to push her brother into the desired decision. So I like that she isn’t totally use to thinking of how to manipulate people, even for a  good cause.

Also, I find it totally believable. If you could experience a night of sexual bliss with a highly trained, experiences, and skilled lover that you found desirable in many ways, what would you give? After all, these folks only have limited adult entertainment, and extremely limited once you get out of Terre D’Ange.

4. We finally meet Drustan. He at first seems like an unlikely match for Ysandre and yet they both seem to have a shared vision.  Can they make it work do you think?  They have so many differences even if they do succeed in battle?

When I first read this, I really didn’t know how Carey was going to let this play out. We already have one pair of star-crossed romantically entangled yet arguing couple (Joscelin and Phedre) and to add another…. I just wasn’t sure. After all, we haven’t seen Ysandre and Drustan together yet and I think their chemistry, or lack of it, will tell the readers much more. As for their shared political dream, sure, that all sounds well and good. Plus is allows the women to hold some power in world where male rulers are the status quo.

5. Can we discuss the Dalriada and the Cruithne – do they put you in mind of any particular races?  What do you make of them??

Definitely the Celtic races. I love that the women can go off to battle and the men don’t count it as odd. I also love that the women can take what lovers they like and raise their kids with love no matter the father. I’m glad to see that their fighting techniques vary from the Terre D’Ange highly organized methods. Not every culture is going to approach battle the same way, no matter how logical.

6. I’m puzzled about Joscelin – he’s always so severe on himself, particularly after the battle and Moiread’s death.  I wonder why he blames himself so much – and I also wonder how he’s coping with watching Phedre’s actions – in particular her closeness to Hyacinthe.

Once again, Joscelin has been isolated in the Casseline Order for much of his life. He never thought he would have to deal with the pangs of jealousy or even (possibly) love. He probably thought sooner or later he would have to deal with the death of someone he was protecting, yet this was the first time that has ever happened to him. Also, I expect that had he been charged with protecting Moiread, as he is charged with protecting Phedre, he would have seen her death as Cassiel himself turning his back on him. The Casselines are a very stiff bunch and I highly suspect that failure is not tolerated.

Phedre and Joscelin have not talked much about their one night together nor what either of them wants from the other. Phedre may well feel like it isn’t her place to tempt or seduce Joscelin, trying her best in her way to respect his vows. Joscelin on the other hand has zero experience with women and matters of the heart so I expect he hasn’t worked out what he wants long term. Perhaps he is hoping his feelings will fade with time.

7. Finally, we’re working ourselves up for the grand finale – do you have any predictions as to how this will all pan out?

So we have 2 more weeks to go and plenty of stuff to fill them! The new readers are in for a treat! We have to get at least Phedre and Joscelin back to Terre D’Ange, but it would be very nice if they could take a fighting force with them. The Master of the Straights was a pill before, so I expect Rousse will be wary of him on the return trip.

Then there is finding out what all is going on in Terre D’Ange and getting everyone to Ysandre’s forces without causing a stir, or at least, losing too many fighters. Also, I very much doubt that Melisande is one to sit around and just wait for things to unfold. If she isn’t actively doing something now while Phedre and Joscelin are in Alba, then she has multiple plans ready to spring based on what happens.

Then we don’t know to whom the Duc de Morbhan is loyal. If he told Melisande, or just some of her informant network, then things could be afoot in Terre D’Ange already.

Other Tidbits

I’ve always wondered if the Master of the Straights would have granted Rousse and his ships safe passage if they had sailed directly for Alba instead of trying to avoid the Master’s territory and sneak by.

Joscelin’s fighting prowess was on full display once again. I love the way his fight scenes are described.

Phedre’s conversation with Joscelin about his temper and how good it feels to give in to it, even if he knows he will be beaten, etc. was very interesting.

I wanted to shake Drustan’s hand to pointing out to  Joscelin that he was over-stepping his bounds in his excessive self-hate concerning the death of Moiread. No one charged or asked Joscelin to protect Drustan’s family.

Whenever I read this section I am always surprised how quickly Hyacinthe falls into (the beginnings of) love with Moiread.

Participating Bloggers:

Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

Giveaway & Interview: Jennifer Anne Seidler, Author of Dry Land

SeidlerDryLandFolks, it is my pleasure to have Jennifer Anne Seidler on the blog today. I very much enjoyed her scifi romance, Dry Land, and it was a real treat to interview her. Today we chat about hard scifi, best & worst jobs, show chickens, scifi romance, and much more! If you’re interested in the audiobook giveaway, scroll to the bottom.

If you could be an extra on a SF series or movie,  what would it be?

I love this question! I would say I would love to be someone in a control room at a launch of some important mission, whether it be from Earth or as a controller guiding ships from some distant planet. I would suppose that if I were actually part of the mission, I wouldn’t be an extra. So, give me a uniform and a pair of headphones, a mic, and some sort of display to watch, and I’ll be happy. That, and I can use my Chuck Yeager voice, do the countdown, and say “roger that.”

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? How does this feed into your idea of hard science fiction?

I love Space Opera, but my preference is for hard sci fi. I prefer that in most of my reading, to be honest. I love created worlds but I really love it when a writer can take our world and make it fantastic. I read Michio Kaku’s books about science in the future and mankind in that future and it is amazing the potential this world has – both for the amazing and the frightening. I find it fascinating to explore that in books and in the things I write. There’s a rule that technology the way it’s going now renews itself, turns over every eighteen months. Part of me wonders if the fantastical future will happen during my lifetime. If not, I can die knowing I’ve at least dreamt and read a taste of it.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I don’t think I’ve had a job that I can say is the “worst.” Perhaps it was one of my first jobs out of law school, when I was relegated to a desk, reviewing documents day in and day out. Important for the litigation, maybe, but boring as hell for me. I prefer to be “out there.” My favorite job was when I was deeply involved with the legal aspects of arson investigation – getting out in my grubby clothes and slogging around fire scenes, tagging behind some of the most brilliant minds in fire investigation. That was some amazing stuff. But, yes, it’s true that none of that compares to writing. Dry Land is my first touch into published fiction, but I do feel that I have to write every day. If I don’t write in some form or another I go a little stir. :) Whether it is throwing down ideas for more Ted and Colby or hobby writing with some of my writing partners, writing gives me a sense of peace, accomplishment, and sanity.

Dogs, chickens, rabbits, & a hamster! Who gets fed first? Are any of them show animals, or purely for family enjoyment?

The dog gets fed first. :) The chickens and rabbits, my husband takes care of. I do go out there and help him clean things up every few weeks (gross!) but the care and feeding is his bailiwick. We did show chickens for a few years. My oldest son, Ian, won junior showmanship a few years back at the Lodi Fair — something he was pretty proud of. My daughter tried her hand at showing rabbits, but it wasn’t her thing. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a moratorium on showing poultry at fairs this year because of that bird flu, but… maybe next year.

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

A beer. Definitely a beer. I would invite: Eugene Wrayburn, Thursday Next, Lord John Grey, Hercule Poirot, and Captain Jack Harkness. How’s that for a crowd?

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in science fiction romance literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

OOH! I think I’d devote entire units to Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jasper Fforde, Rob Shearman, Ursula K. LeGuin, KM Herkes, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Jennifer Roberson; and then to the indies, of course, and there are so many of them that I love! I’ve probably forgotten some, therefore, I will leave room in the syllabus for my students to do independent studies on their favorite SFR authors.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Of course, to quote Weird Al, “Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?” That and… which is better – Star Trek or Star Wars? And finally… why does everyone love Loki so much when he’s a psychotic mass murderer?

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I had this volume of poetry and fairy tales called “Young Years.” I remember my grandmother challenged me to read through it, and I did. And I loved it. I still have that book to this very day, although I have passed it on to my daughter. I still vividly remember the illustrations.

SeidlerDryLandDry Land Book Blurb:

When mankind toys with nature, nature fights back. Astronaut Ted “Shakespeare” Hardiston is setting off on the adventure of a lifetime — for the rest of his life. He reluctantly leaves behind his wife, an android/human hybrid, to command the first base on the surface of the moon. Ted and the crew of Space Shuttle Liberty complete their mission, gifting the Moon with gravity and an atmosphere. In doing so, they cause mass destruction on the Earth below. By Ted’s side during this ordeal is Codie-5, another hybrid and a genetic duplicate of Ted’s wife. Ted, Codie, and the crew must work fast and make sacrifices to save the world — and for Ted, to return to the love of his life.

Places to Find Jennifer Anne Seidler

Website

GoodReads

Facebook

Giveaway!

The author is offering 1 Audible USA copy of her book, Dry Land! Hooray! To enter, answer the following question in the comments:

1) Do you have an Audible USA account?

2) If you could be an extra on a SF series or movie,  what would it be?

If you don’t sign into leave the comment with an active email address, then leave on in the comments. If you share the post, tell me in the comments and you get extra points. Contest ends Midnight, Saturday July 11th, 2015.

The Great Big War by Bob Nick Shields

ShieldsTheGreatBigWarWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: David Winograd

Publisher: Short on Time Books (2014)

Length: 2 hours 9 minutes

Author’s Page

This is Bobby Booclear’s story. He remembers the day long war clearly and is finally telling his side. In a time when kids could play outside during daylight and girls weren’t allowed in war games, Bobby reenacts some of the great big screen death scenes of his time.

This is a tale of childhood days gone by. Bobby is a kid playing with his buddies from the apartment building. Based on the movie references in this book, perhaps it is the 1960s. There’s a field near the apartment building and the kids organize a war with two sides and objectives. Everyone has some sort of toy weapon. These kids take their play very seriously! That made me smile because it made me recall childhood games and how seriously we all would take them sometimes.

There’s only 2 women in this book. One is a kid just heading into puberty. A game of spin-the-bottle leaves Bobby feeling  left out, poor dude. Then there is Bobby’s mom who makes all the kids tasty Kool-Aid ice cubes. While the men far out number the women in this book, they still contributed to the story.

I was charmed by Bobby because he takes his acting so seriously, especially his death scenes. In fact, there is a point later in the story where the death scenes are critiqued by the other boys. It was quite amusing!

I think due to my age (I’m in my 30s), some of the cultural references went over my head. Also, I have never lived in a big city or an apartment building. So some parts of this tale didn’t resonate as much with me as they might with other readers. Still, there was enough here in the story itself that I enjoyed hanging out with Bobby for a few hours.

I received this audiobook at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: David Winograd did a good job. He made a good Bobby Booclear, especially since the story is told from older Bobby’s voice as a long flashback to his childhood. I also enjoyed his serious warrior boy voices for when the kids were pretending to be generals or what not.

What I Liked: A tale of childhood; such dramatic acting from the kids!; the only 2 female characters contribute to the story; movie references.

What I Disliked: I didn’t get all of the cultural references; there are only 2 ladies.

Eye of the Scarab by Bill Meeks

MeeksEyeOfTheScarabWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: Bill Meeks (2015)

Narrator: Nathan Beatty

Length: 4 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 4 Dogboy Adventures

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly fine as a stand alone.

In small town, USA, Colta City is in need of a hero or two. The police are corrupt and the politicians even more so. Bronson Black, aka Dogboy, has been putting on the mask and cape for a few years now to protect his home town. However, the Colta City Shadows (a collection of kids with super powers) find themselves in some twisted version of a cage fight for a mad scientist and the corrupt Mayor Lane. Dogboy may or may not be able to save them, just like he may or may not be able to save his relationship with his girlfriend Cindy McNeil.

This is another fun addition to the growing Superhero Genre. What I liked most about it is that Dogboy strives to hold on to these high ideals (like trial by jury) while other superpowers have a bit more wiggle room in their moral compass. At the beginning of the story, there are only tiny hints that this will become a big issue by the end. I really like how the author built it up over the story arc.

The various superheroes have interesting, and sometimes very simple, powers. They put them to amusing uses in their quest to do good. One character can walk through walls, another can erase specific memories, etc. Dogboy can fly.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of evil-doers. The police are corrupt and the average citizen is starting to feel the pinch of them and are pushing back. Then we have an arch-nemesis, Mayor Lane, and his immediate followers. They know about the kids and their powers, and they want to make more of them to create a personal army.

In this particular adventure, Bronson and Cindy, and their friend Mr. Harum (spelling?), go through some of Bronson’s dad’s old stuff. Apparently Bronson’s parents are no longer in the picture. His dad use to be a magician or such and they find this metal flying scarab which has a tiny camera. This leads to hard feelings later when Bronson checks on Cindy, and Cindy sees it as spying. Of course, Cindy has her own secrets and these two have some heartache to live through in this book.

Over all, it was a fun ride. The author relied more on plot and character development than on fancy powers, super-gadgets, and big fight scenes than many other superhero novels. I really enjoyed this take.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author via Audiobook Blast Facebook in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Narration: Nathan Beatty was a good fit for this book. He had great voices for all these teens that aren’t quite adults yet but have to run around making adult decisions. He also had a variety of accents (some regional, some foreign) for the characters.

What I Liked:  Variety of super powers; no single one is all-powerful; good story arc; nice character development; set up for the next book!

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this one.

IZ ~ The Izzy Story – Encounters by Ddwlem

DdwlemISTheIzzyStoryEncountersWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrators: Roy Kelly & the whole crew

Publisher: Ddwlem, LLC (2015)

Length: 2 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Izzy Story

Author’s Page

 

Scientists from the far off planet Authair are in a race against time. A plague is killing their people and the must find a safe haven to complete their research. Earth looks like a winner. Meanwhile, a group of archaeologists and archaeology students are peeking into ruins and find something unexpected.

The action and humor are a lot of fun in this book. We start off in space with aliens, scientists (mad or otherwise), and  Izzy himself (who is like some sort of intelligent cat lizard). There’s this plague and some bad guys and the good guys must flee and continue playing with their glass beakers at the same time. They spot Earth and discuss, determining that it looks like a good place to hide out.

Then we totally switch character lists. Now we get to play with the Earthlings and the pace slows way down. This second half of the story is definitely more about a mystery and building some suspense. An archaeology student’s dog digs something unique up and the professor is consulted. Various shenanigans ensue.

For the most part, this book was fun, combining two of my favorite things – space opera and archaeological mystery. My only criticism is that the book is so cleanly divided in half in location and characters that I felt I was reading 2 separate stories. Plus this book cuts off before the connection between the two is cleanly tied together. So be ready to jump into Book 2!

I received this audiobook from the author (via the Audiobook Blast Newsletter) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: The narration, sound effects, and music for this book are excellent. It made the book extra fun to have so many voice actors and sound effects. The music was a nice touch too, never drowning out the dialogue.

What I Liked: Fun mix of space opera & archaeology mystery; Izzy is a strange cat lizard thing; both good and mad scientists abound; plenty of humor.

What I Disliked: Felt like I read 2 smaller books as the two story lines weren’t solidly connected by the end of this book.