Naamah’s Blessing Part II

The read along continues with Naamah’s Blessing, Book 3 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I’m the host. We’re covering Chapters 16-26 29, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) What do you think of the assistance the Sharhizai have provided to Moirin and Bao so far? Do you think there’s merit to their claim that the Sharhizai should govern the Shemizai district?

They say that their assistance and the housing is a gift with no expectations but at the very least it gave then the opening to present their claim to Moirin and Bao, who are now the guardians of Dauphine. Obviously, Moirin and Bao have to listen, even if they don’t agree, if they don’t want to be rude.

As for their claim, I’m not sure. I can see that they should be proud of their bloodline, but does that give them an innate ability to govern a province? No. I would need to seem them or their close kin in action along with the current governors being incompetent.

2) Did you enjoy the Oath Swearing Ceremony where Moirin pledged to be Desiree’s protector? What did you like best about it?

First, I liked the solemnity about the actual oath swearing. Not only do the Maghuin Dhonn take oaths seriously, but Moirin herself values her word of honor and wouldn’t swear an oath lightly.

I liked that Moirin was able to gently chivy King Daniel into spending the afternoon with this daughter enjoying the tumblers.

3) Finally, there’s news from Terra Nova. From chocolate to spices to riches to a vexing pox that Raphael may be able to cure to the loss of crown prince! Do you think Prince Thierry is really dead? If not, what kind of trouble might he be in? What else about Terra Nova intrigues you at this point?

Yes, I expect that Thierry is still alive and that Moirin’s dream is a true dream. However, he’s obviously in some serious trouble if no one has had word from him…. I can’t help but wonder if maybe Raphael and the demon Fokolor have something to do with it. If so, then Thierry’s in big trouble.

The other side of the coin is that Raphael has come up with a way for the Terra Novans to manage the pox, greatly reducing the numbers it kills. That makes it hard to want Raphael dead at this point.

I look forward to seeing how Carey tackles this tumultuous clashing of cultures.

4) Let’s discuss King Daniel. He spent some time with his daughter but then planned to abdicate to Thierry when he returned. Upon the sad news, King Daniel is no longer with us. Is there anything more that could have been done, either by Daniel or for him?

Tough to say. I think Daniel was suffering from depression for many years, perhaps even before losing his first wife. Losing Jehanne was tough but then to lose his son was another hard blow. If Daniel was a more ordinary man with people around him that felt they could boss him around a bit, then perhaps his friends could have nudged him into more healthy activities over the years instead of so much brooding and attempting to feel numb. But he’s not an average bloke. He’s the king with no queen, no close confident, and no close family to give him a shoulder or shove depending on what he needs.

5) Rogier is angling for more political power. What do you think of him using his grieve to obtain his goal? Will Moirin and Bao be able to head off to Terra Nova without provoking Rogier further?

Moirin acknowledges to herself that Rogier’s grief is real but like Moirin, I don’t like him using it to sway public opinion and gather political clout. Sometimes I’m OK with characters using this tactic because it fuels a greater end, but Rogier isn’t a beloved good guy. He’s manipulative and power hungry and his son has a nasty streak that makes me wonder if he does as well.

I expect that whatever Moirin does next (unless it was to leave the country quietly and I don’t mean on some stealth mission to retrieve Thierry) is going to piss off Rogier. I think he would love the excuse to either put her under house arrest or kick her out the country.

Other Tidbits:

The poetess can still understand ants, which I find amusing.

I’m glad that Moirin’s dad, Phanuel, broke off his relationship with Rogier.

So I messed up and didn’t catch it until after posting this. This week was supposed to be through Chapter 29 but the questions only reflect through Chapter 26. Anyway, for Chapters 27-29, I figure we can all discuss them in this Oddbits section.

Nice to hear that Phanuel will go to Alba with a letter from Moirin for her mother.

Balthazar plans to go along and he’s pretty good with a sword.

Dennis de Toulard says that Terra Nova is no place for a lady. Ha! Like there’s no women, noble, peasant, or otherwise in Terra Nova.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S BLESSING in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Bookish Giveaway & Interview: James W. George, Author of My Father’s Kingdom

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author James W. George. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, My Father’s Kingdom, which explores the relations between the Wampanoag tribe and the Puritan colonists of the 1670s.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Wow, what a fun question. Is time travel a possibility? I might have to go back to 1970 and pilot a B-25 while sitting next to Art Garfunkel in “Catch-22.” If I have to stick around 2017, I guess “The Tudors” is long gone so I can’t gallivant around with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Natalie Dormer and Henry Cavill in my finest sixteenth-century frippery.
I guess I’ll keep it simple and appear on the next “Avengers” movie. Maybe I can smack some of the smugness out of Tony Stark, and my daughter would be extremely jealous.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

My first answer is very predictable. When writing and marketing My Father’s Kingdom, I’ve held fast and true to a fundamental precept: King Philip’s War in 1675 New England was one of the most fascinating and catastrophic events in American history, and most of us have never even heard of it.

So certainly, I would welcome the opportunity to see seventeenth century New England, especially the first interactions between some of the Native people and the European settlers.

I would love to visit well-studied periods like WWII, the American Revolution, the Viking conquests of England, and Tudor England, but I feel like historical fiction and cinema have done such a remarkable job of recreating these eras, I almost wonder if anything would genuinely be surprising.

If you’re going to hand me a fully-functioning time machine, I think I’d like to see some really obscure and mysterious periods, such as the empires of South America.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Brom Bones from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a remarkable piece of American literature. I love it so much my daughter is named Katrina. The lyrical prose by Washington Irving is simply unbelievable.

Brom Bones is the villain, but what did he actually do? He deceived the interloping schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, with a brilliant ruse. No one was actually hurt, maimed, or killed. I guess in the end he already has his happy ending, but I would hope he and Katrina lived a wonderful married life together.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Wow. Let’s go with some intellectual giants of American history. Maybe Increase Mather, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let’s throw in some modern-day wit. Perhaps Mark Steyn can regale us with the conservative viewpoint, and Jon Stewart can hold down the left wing.

What to read? Probably 1984 and Catch-22, but we’re going to have to do an awful lot of explaining to all those old people. And of course, my book, so Increase Mather can tell me how unfairly I portrayed him.

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

I used to load trucks for UPS while in high school. It was physically exhausting and quite difficult. You don’t load one truck at once, you loaded multiple trucks.

In addition to the physical toil, it was all like one big game of Tetris; you have to make sure you’re building the wall of boxes in the most logical, sturdy fashion possible. I guess there’s a lesson there for writers; sometimes you think all the disparate elements are seamlessly coming together in a nice, impressive structure, but when they don’t, you have to tear it down and start over.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

As a writer of historical fiction, I rely on countless works of nonfiction that help make 1670s New England come to life. I think one book in particular, which is probably my favorite work of nonfiction, is Don’t Know Much about the Bible by Kenneth Davis. He approaches all the complex, thorny questions of the Bible with an open mind, and gears the book toward those who know little or nothing about the Bible. It helped me imagine how incomprehensible the Puritans and Bible must have been to Native Americans in the seventeenth century.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live my relatively mundane life here in southeastern Virginia. I work my day job (which I love) and spend time with my wife and two kids. I’m a big music fan and it’s been a great pleasure watching my sixteen-year-old guitarist son completely eclipse me musically.

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

Yikes. No distinct memory is coming to mind. It might have been Clifford the Big Red Dog. I also remember loving the “Encyclopedia Brown” series as a kid. We have a house full of books and have kept quite a few children’s books. My favorite, hands-down, is Yertle the Turtle. That is Dr. Seuss at his finest!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

I’ve completely immersed myself in the New England of the 1670s this year, but it’s reminded me how ignorant I am of so much history regarding the European exploration of the United States before the Mayflower. I live down the road from Jamestown, so I’m pretty familiar with that, but the tales of Spanish conquistadors like Coronado and DeSoto exploring the southern U.S. in the 1500s are unbelievable. How many Americans know the tale of the French Huguenot settlement in Florida?

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

Book Two should be out this fall, and I’m delighted with how it’s shaping up. I think Book One is quite atmospheric. It develops the characters and sets the tone for King Philip’s War, whereas Book Two is the actual war and is a little more action-packed. Benjamin Church, one of colonial America’s most famous soldiers, will play a very prominent role.

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author James W. George:

James W. George is a debut author currently residing in Virginia.  He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and a lover of historical fiction.

Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of My Father’s Kingdom:

In 1620, more than 100 devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plymouth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Angus Freathy:

Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).

Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.

Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.

Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $25 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 6th, 2017.

My Father’s Kingdom Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

My Father’s Kingdom by James W. George

Narrator: Angus Freathy

Publisher: James W. George (2017)

Length: 6 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 King Philip’s War

Author’s Page

Set in the 1670s, Plimouth has become a thriving colony in the New World. However, the once solid relationship between the English settlers and the local Native Americans, the Wampanoag chief among them, has become strained. Culture clash, religious differences, and disrespect could lead to much bigger issues. Israel Brewster, a Puritan reverend, is a bit idealistic but believes people can be won over to the faith through compassion and mutual respect. Linto, a once orphaned boy, was adopted into the Wampanoag tribe. Great things are expected of him.

While this story takes a little time to settle into, I found it quite worthy. At the end of the audiobook, there are two notes – an author’s note and a narrator’s note – and both express how this section of American history has mostly been overlooked. I wholeheartedly agree and it’s great that we now have a quality historical fiction novel to explore this section of history.

I knew going into this tale that religion would play a significant role in the story. There’s the Puritans, the nearby Quakers, and the more enigmatic religious believes of the Wampanoag. However, the first 2 hours of the tale are rather weighty with Biblical verses and such. For me, this was almost too much. While I appreciate knowing the lay of religious land in historical fiction, this first part was quite top heavy with it. That said, I’m very glad I stuck with it. The religious context, once established, slides to the side to make room for more interesting stuff. By the end of the book, I was looking around for the next book.

Linto was the most interesting character to me. He’s genuinely interested in the English and their odd ways. In fact, I really loved his way of repeating back Biblical stories when talking with Israel. The author did a great job in showing this culture clash that was going on at the time. The conversations between Linto and Israel really showed how strange some of the English and Christian ways were. Linto also carries quite a lot on his shoulders in his adoptive tribe. His own tribe was wiped out by disease, the Wampanoag finding him as a lone survivor as a baby. His adoptive father, Metacomet (Sachem or leader of the tribe), expects much from him especially as their Powwas (spiritual leader).

Meanwhile, Israel has an interesting story arc as well. He’s suffered a horrible tragedy and feels deep spiritual guilt over it. In reaching out with compassion and mutual respect (for not only the nearby Native Americans but also the Quakers in a nearby colony), he loses face with the Puritans. His life spirals out of control but much later in the book he finds his feet again and is able to provide a key piece of info to Linto about an event that happened a generation ago involving Metacomet’s older brother Wamsutta. Massasoit, Metacomet’s father, had welcomed the Puritans to the area 50 years ago. Both Israel and Linto want very much to preserve a peace between the Wampanoag and the English colonists. However, the Wampanoag have legitimate gripes with a colonist they refer to as Skunk Genitals. This, among other serious issues, could undo that peace.

There are a few female characters in this story and one or two of them even have spoken lines. Yes, this tale is woefully light on gender balance. The ladies during this time were important too and it’s a bit sad to see them overlooked. Despite this weakness, I still enjoyed this novel once I settled into it.

Towards the end, there is some courtroom drama which I felt would change the future one way or another. The author did a great job of building the suspense and not giving away how things would turn out. Since I haven’t studied this part of history, I really appreciated this. While I had heard of King Philip’s war in passing, I never really understood what it meant. Now I have a solid idea of what events lead up to it. I’m looking forward to Book 2 to see how things continue to unfold.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Angus Freathy was a good fit for this book. He has a variety of English accents that suited the various English colonists. He kept each character distinct. His female character voices were lacking femininity though. There is a little bit of singing which I quite enjoyed. 

What I Liked: Cover art; a much over-looked time period made clearer; the culture clash so clearly laid out; various religious believes; the Wampanoag get equal page time with the English colonists; compelling story, so much so I look forward to Book 2. 

What I Disliked: The first part is very thick with religion; very few ladies and they all have tiny roles, mostly as romantic interests.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

The Sky People by S. M. Stirling

Narrator: Todd McLaren

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2007)

Length: 10 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Lords of Creation

Author’s Page

In the 1960s, probes to Venus discovered something completely unexpected – life on Venus. Subsequent probes revealed plenty of animal life including dinosaur-like creatures and human-like people complete with civilizations. Now in the 1980s, the US and it’s allies have set up a small scientific outpost on Venus. The Soviet East Block has done the same thing. Venus comes with plenty of dangers but now it seems there might be a saboteur among the American & Allies crew.

Marc Vitrac, born in Louisiana and complete with Cajun accent, is the hero of this tale. He’s got the smarts and the muscles and the skills while also being friendly to Venusian canines and respectful of women. It’s rare to find such a man in science fiction (and even rarer to find one in real life). I really enjoyed this character partially because of all that stated above but because he’s also put in extraordinary circumstances in which he manages to keep his wits about him.

The setting was gripping. First, we know today that we are very unlikely to find Earth-like people and animals on Venus, but imagine if we had? Wouldn’t that raise all sorts of questions? That’s partially what these scientists are here to investigate. They also simply need to explore Venus, learning about it’s peoples and resources. I loved all the geeky science stuff about archaeology and paleontology.

There’s dinos! Yes! I loved seeing Terrans and Venusians interact with these beasties in all their variety. There’s also some intimidating predator mammals, like this large canine. In fact, Marc gets himself a puppy, Tyo, who becomes quite the novelty and Marc’s best wingman.

Meanwhile, the Venusians have several different cultures going on. There’s the ‘civilized’ Venusians of Kartahown city which is nearby the US outpost Jamestown. There are other cities as well. Then there’s the semi-nomadic and mostly peaceful human-like groups, such as the Cloud Mountain People lead by Teesa, a princess and shaman all rolled into one. Lastly, there’s the mostly nomadic and violent Beastmen, which are Neanderthal-like. Toss in tensions with the Soviet outpost, Cosmograd, then you’ve got some politicking as well (most of which happens behind the scenes).

The cast has a fair amount of diversity. Cynthia Whitlock is an African American geologist, and resistant to Marc’s charms. Christopher Blair is our British bloke with the RAF. Much later in the story we get a Russian woman who is doing her best to retrieve a downed Russian outpost exploration vehicle that had her husband, Captain Binkis, on it. Teesa has her moments, sometimes leading her people and sometimes playing the helpless princess.

Despite the well traveled tropes in this story, I got much enjoyment out of it. For me, the weakness is in the women. Sometimes these ladies are well drawn out with skills, brains, and opinions. Yet sometimes they fall into helpless damsels in distress that need rescuing (and I felt that was too easily done and just for drama). Still, I really enjoyed the story.

The Narration: Todd McLaren makes a really good Cajun Marc Vitrac. He kept all the characters distinct and had feminine voices for the ladies. There were some emotional moments in this book and McLaren was great at expressing those emotions through the characters. I liked his various accents (Cajun, standard American, British, Venusian, Russian, etc.).

What I Liked: Dinos and people!; Venus has much that needs exploring and much that is deadly; the variety of peoples on Venus; the political tensions between America & Allies and the Soviets; the deadly mammal predators; Tyo doggy; the very botched rescue mission; left me wanting more; great cover art.

What I Disliked: The ladies sometimes fall into helpless damsel mode.

What Others Think:

Dragon Page

RPG.net

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased

SF Reviews.net

River City Blues by Ward Howarth

Narrator: Ward Paxton

Publisher: Ward Howarth (2017)

Length: 9 hours 10 minutes

Author’s Page

1944 Richmond, Virginia is a gritty place and the local police department is part of that grit. Detective Bennie Sherwood has a lot of issues – his farther was murdered in the line of duty, he’s suffering from PTSD from his time at Guadalcanal, and now a friend has died in a suspicious manner. How crooked is the PD? How much can he rely on the intel on the black market? Bennie will have to figure it all out once he’s framed for murder, or go into hiding and never have his answers.

This was a pretty good noir detective story and I liked that our main character, Bennie, had so many issues. He’s suffering from PTSD well before our society really knew what that was and how to deal with it. The murder of his father, Detective Samuel Sherwood, is a big painful throbbing question mark in his life that is only 5 months old. But he’s got a job to do. He and his partner Detective Niles Hunter are set up to raid the black market along with Detectives Mills & Reed. However, things don’t go as expected there either. Skipper Holly, an old friend of Bennie’s father, is part of the black market and he’s mortally wounded during the raid. His presence there shakes Bennie up pretty badly. Right off the bat, I was caught up in this tale. I felt immersed in Sherwood’s world.

The Victory Squad and the wartime crime it was created to fight really fascinated me. I hadn’t really thought about how certain limited supplies during the wartime would have such a violent-riddled black market. There’s cheats and thieves and dealers in such numbers that you can’t help but trip over them. I really felt the author did his research homework and brought that to life in this novel. The missing gasoline was a nice side mystery.

The tale does have one weakness and that is the lack of female characters. I would have liked to see more of the ladies even if we do have one woman who’s a mechanic and a cab driver. She’s also a romantic interest and much of her page time is spent in that role.

The story includes some racism, sexism, and homophobia that was prevalent during the 1940s. I felt it was realistically portrayed without being gratuitous. I appreciate the author not veering away from this bit of historical accuracy. Humans are flawed, even our hero Bennie. I did get a kick out of how the acronyms SNAFU, FUBAR, and SUSFU were cleaned up a bit, substituting ‘fouled’ for the F word. While not necessary for me, I’m sure others appreciate it.

I liked the mystery surrounding Jedidiah King and his King Tobacco cigarettes. Skipper worked for him and that makes him a person of interest in the ongoing black market investigations. I also liked the Police Chief, The Cane, since he acts like a loud, demanding police chief. While such common character types sometimes made the story a bit predictable, it also felt like I was reading an old friend. It was easy to sink into this story.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Ward Paxton makes a really good noir detective. His voice for Bennie is a bit more gentle than the other cops, but since we get Bennie’s inner thoughts, I felt this was appropriate. Paxton did great with the regional accents of the time and place as well, keeping all the characters distinct. There were few females but I felt they could have used a touch more femininity in the narration.

What I Liked: The setting (it was turbulent times); Bennie’s life is full of interesting characters; plenty of mysteries surrounding the black market; the historical accuracy for the times.

What I Disliked: Could have used more female characters and ones that aren’t there for comfort or romance.

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3) – Read Along Schedule

I read Leviathan Wakes (Book 1 of The Expanse series) some years ago and I have watched the first season of The Expanse as well. Now the wonderful folks on the SF/F Read Alongs GoodReads group have put together this group read and we’re into Book 3, Abaddon’s Gate.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Prologue to Chapter 12, Friday 4th August, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Chapters 13 to 26, Friday 11th August
Week 3: Chapters 27 to 40, Friday 18th August
Week 4: Chapters 41 to End, Friday 25th August

Book Blurb for Abaddon’s Gate:

For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now.

The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus’s orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Caliban’s War Part IV

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 43-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Bobbie’s idea turns out to be sneakier than I expected! Do you think this is a case of brains as well as muscle power, or is she learning a thing from Avasarala?

Yes, definitely. Bobbie has been watching Avasarala maneuver and I think this has pushed her to rely on more than her mech suit and military training (tho both serve her quite well). I don’t expect she will ever become the great political chess master that Avasarala is, but she’s learning to step outside her comfort zone.

2. The crew split up to take on various missions, all different but all important. Holden, Prax, Bobbie… Which final battle POV sticks with you most, and why?

I was holding my breath until they found Mei as I was definitely concerned that she was a goo monster. I was also worried that Holden wouldn’t make it through this book. I agree with him shooting what’s his face on the ship instead of negotiating with him. Time was of the essence and I felt that man needed to be executed by someone. I hope Bobbie gets a new mech suit.

3. “What’s that?” What indeed. What do you make of whatever the heck just lifted off from Venus, and where do you think it’s going?

Oh my! I think it’s headed for either Mars or Earth. I expect it’s a giant protomolecule ball built to infest whatever it lands on. I really hope they can stop it. If not, humanity will either fall or expand further out into the galaxy… and since the series is called The Expanse…. well, that Mormon generation ship may well be more important than we first thought.

4. Speaking of what was on Venus, let’s discuss THAT ending. When you’re done (presumably) flailing, of course… Thoughts? Reactions? Theories?

Yeah! WTF? Either Holden is starting to lose it and his mind is doing it Miller fashion because that’s the best example it has or he really does see some version of Miller. Could the protomolecule have psychic abilities? Who knows. Either way, I’m intrigued and in many ways it’s good to have Miller back in the mix because he balances out Holden’s Justice For All attitude with a solid dose of reality.

Other Tidbits:

I love Bobbie’s banter with Holden’s crew. She jokes with Alex and calls Amos out on his open appreciation of her battle suit one piece.

I want to hug Avasarala for giving her backing to Prax, ensuring him and his daughter have a secure future.

I hope Bobbie stays with the crew even if she and Alex never hook up.

The crowd funding campaign for Prax to find his daughter was awesome, though I don’t like how his wife tried to turn it (I expect she was both threatened and paid to do so).

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs

Luxor kitty is our local rebel.

Narrator: Derek Perkins

Publisher: HighBridge (2017)

Length: 31 hours 13 minutes

Author’s Page

This is a very comprehensive biography of Jonathan Swift. I was drawn to this book because I was forced to read many of Swift’s work in school and I thought his life would be pretty interesting considering the fantastical elements to Gulliver’s Travels and the rather gruesome take on curing starvation in A Modest Proposal. I was not disappointed. Mr. Swift did indeed lead an interesting life.

This book is pretty heavy with the politics of the time. Swift was born in the 1660s and lived well into the 1700s. His satire and his dabblings in politics meant that I needed to learn the basics of British, Irish, and French politics of the time to understand Swift the better. This biography does a really good job of laying that all out for the reader. While I did find that this bogged things down from time to time, I also appreciated that the details were there if I needed to refer to them.

I was surprised to learn that Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland yet insisted he was an Englishman his entire life. Indeed, Swift seems to enjoy being a breathing, walking contradiction. I get the feeling he was never really happy or content and I think he brought some of that on himself. By the same token, I think he would own that and make a quip about it.

It appears that Swift disliked babies, perhaps even had an aversion. The author has an informed guess that Swift would have been a solid germaphobe in today’s time with our knowledge of bacteria and viruses. I totally agree with the author on this point. By the way, Swift didn’t reproduce.

Swift suffered from recurrent vertigo, which was referred to giddiness during his life. Poor dude. I bet this was a huge irritant to him. Later in life he would suffer other ailments such as losing his voice and possibly suffering from insanity. It must have been so frustrating for him towards the end, being a man of words and not able to use them effectively.

For me, the biggest mystery about Swift was his love life, or lack thereof. He had a close tie with Esther Johnson for much of her life and I found it very interesting the great pains he always took to maintain propriety. In fact, he often addressed his letters to her and her lady companion, Rebecca Dingley. Was it love or just a deep friendship? Did they secretly marry or was that just silliness? The author does a good job of laying out the known facts and then making a few educated guesses from there.

Of course, you can’t explore Jonathan Swift without getting into the details of his writings. There’s plenty of that here in this book and even if you aren’t familiar with all of Swift’s publications, the author makes it clear what’s important about each in regards to the subject at hand. For me, this also sometimes bogged down the story of Swift’s life but I also appreciate the thoroughness.

I received a free copy of this book via LibraryThing.

The Narration: Derek Perkins was a good fit for this book. He sounded interested throughout the entire book. There wasn’t much call for character voices, this being a biography. He did capture some emotions here and there as the story of Swift’s life unfolded.

What I Liked: A detailed look at Jonathan Swift and the times he lived in; his mysterious love life; his long list of contradictions; how me could charm or put people off with his sharp words; the politics of the times; Swift’s ability to capture the grunge.

What I Disliked: There were several times that the story bogged down a bit due to the amount of detail.

What Others Think:

Catherine Brown

Kirkus

Curing Doctor Vincent by Renea Mason

Narrators: Noah Michael Levine, Erin Deward

Publisher: Renea Mason (2015)

Length: 6 hours 10 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Good Doctor

Author’s Page

Elaine Watkins, a public relations adviser for a medical company, is both charmed and flustered when the esteemed Dr. Xavier Vincent asks her to join him for dinner at a conference. Things heat up from there when she’s asked to join him for a week in Paris. She’s expecting it to be work and perhaps a chance to flirt. However, the good doctor has other ideas. He proposes his idea of a week of sensuous sexual pleasure to her and she’s hesitant to engage. Will it end awkwardly before it’s even begun? Of will Elaine shed some of her ideas about sexuality and join Xavier in a week of pleasure and exploration?

Let’s be upfront about the sex in this book. It was quite good and took up much of the page time. Xavier has a hangup and he’s found a workaround which involves him watching his two trusted friends, Marco and Sebastian, pleasure her. The plot takes us from one sexapade to the next. They’re inventive and most scenes help develop the characters involved, except for Sebastian. He seems to mostly just stand there and rarely talks and we learn very little about him. There’s also some near instalove happening that wasn’t necessary for me. I’m OK with characters having a simple fun week of lust.

The plot has more than carnal pleasures going on. First, there’s Elaine’s history. She is the unfortunate daughter of a serial killer, The Basement Killer. This has made it difficult to do parts of her job. After all, who wants their brand associated with a man who hunted, tortured, and killed several women. So she has trust issues since her dad managed to hide his extracurricular activities from the family for so many years.

Xavier comes with a bundle of questions. At first, it just appears he has a kinky hang up about sex but as the story develops there’s deeper questions about his dead wife, her mentor, and even his own parents. Manipulation has played a big part in Xavier, giving him plenty of guilt. Despite that, he’s driven to create a greater good for humanity. Hence, his brilliant work in cancer research.

I really enjoyed the Celtic Queen and the Rain Ceremony part. Xavier weaves this little myth around pleasuring Elaine, empowering her to express her sexuality.

All together, it’s a delicious guilty pleasure with plenty of heat and a touch of mystery. The two main characters are interesting because they have baggage. While I would have liked some of the side characters to be fleshed out a bit more, perhaps that happens later in the series. I definitely want to know more about Xavier’s past and those who manipulated him and why.

The Narration: Erin Deward and Noah Michael Levine were a great pair for this book. They really seem to have some heat between them so that worked great for the sex scenes. Deward’s voice for Elaine was perfect and she portrayed Elaine’s numerous emotions quite well. I enjoyed her French accent for some of the ladies in Paris. Levine’s voice for Xavier was quite sexy and he also did a great job with Xavier’s numerous emotions. His accent for Marco was great too. There were a few things with the audio production. The volume changed from time to time so I found myself turning it up a smidge here and down a smidge there.

What I Liked: Plenty of heat; the Celtic myth; Elaine’s back story; Xavier’s hang ups and all the manipulation he’s been through; plenty of wonderful French locations; Marco; great narration.

What I Disliked: Sebastian didn’t have much of a personality; some minor audio production things.

What Others Think:

Collector of Book Boyfriends & Girlfriends

Dee’s Book Blog

Book Reads and Reviews

My Crazy Book Addiction

Naamah’s Blessing Part I

The read along continues with Naamah’s Blessing, Book 3 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I’m the host. We’re covering Chapters 1-15, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Wow! We’re back at Marsilikos and then into Terre D’Ange right away without any lengthy travel scenes. How was this change of pace for you after the lengthy travel journal we’ve had so far in this series?

I expect there’s some fanfiction out there some where that tells of some crazy happenings between Book 2 and Book 3. After all, they had to make it to a harbor and get passage home and then the entire lengthy trip itself.

But on the other hand, it’s good to be back in Terre D’Ange and ready to launch the last big adventure for this series.

2) What do you think of King Daniel’s management of the realm while he’s in mourning? The relationship he has with his daughter Desire?

He’s really stepped back, hasn’t he? And I guess his son isn’t ready to step in and manage everything just yet (tho he’s off doing royalty stuff). I get that he’s in mourning but he also suffered the loss of his first wife, so he knows he can’t just ignore stuff…. right? Even his daughter? Yeah, so he get’s a D for parenting at this point as neglect can have long-lasting effects on a kid.

3) Moirin has taken up the role as Desire’s protector. What do you think of the political quagmire she’s gotten herself into? Will her tumblers and poet be able to sway the general public in her favor?

I’m glad that Desire has a champion in her corner now but I think Moirin has done it more out of love for Jehane than for Desire herself (though that may become full blown parental love in time).

She’s definitely stirred up a not healed-over quagmire, hasn’t she? She left in the heat of Lion Mane’s embarrassment and it seems that is still seething a bit (probably due to Jehane’s death). Now she’s ‘picked a side’ by officially becoming Desire’s protector.

I hope her tumblers and poet will be enough to sway the public tho opposing factions can hire their own entertainers to smear her name. Seems that’s already started.

4) Moirin’s father has a lover, Balthazar Rogier, who is also in the king’s favor. How big of a problem for Moirin and Bao do you think he will be?

Hmm… well, right now he’s just being an inconvenience and a bit petty (like in assigning Moirin’s promised rooms to another at the last minute). However, I fear that he can become more of a problem, especially with King Daniel not paying attention to his realm all that much. Also, his name is one I associate with treacherous characters, so I expect he will become a much bigger problem soon.

Correction: Balthazar is one of the Sharhizai’s, not Phanuel’s lover.

Other Tidbits:

I like how Bao’s D’Angeline has improved and he doesn’t feel so foreign in Terre D’Ange now.

I also like that D’Angelines, for the most part, don’t know how to address Bao. Ha! His mere presence pushes most out of their comfort zone.

That sucks that Moirin can’t access her funds readily. I hope Bao doesn’t turn to competition fighting to pay the bills.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S BLESSING in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).