Bookish Giveaway & Review: Greatshadow by James Maxey

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Author: James Maxey

Narrator: Jake Urry

Series: Dragon Apocalypse, Book One

Length: 13h 20m

Publisher: James Maxey

Released: May 29, 2017

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Greatshadow is the primal dragon of fire, an elemental evil whose malign intelligence spies upon mankind through every candle flame, waiting to devour any careless victim he can claim.

The Church of the Book has assembled a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers to slay the dragon once and for all. But tensions run high between the leaders of the team who view the mission as a holy duty and the super-powered mercenaries who add power to their ranks, who view the mission primarily as a chance to claim Greatshadow’s vast treasure trove. If the warriors fail to slay the beast, will they doom mankind to death by fire?

 

James Maxey’s mother warned him if he read too many comic books, they would warp his mind. She was right. Now an adult who can’t stop daydreaming, James is unsuited for decent work and ekes out a pittance writing down demented fantasies about masked women, fiery dragons, and monkeys. Oh god, so many monkeys.

​In an effort to figure out how Superman could fly, James read a lot of science, books by Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking. Turns out, Superman probably wasn’t based on any factual information. Who would have guessed? Realizing it was possible to write science fiction without being constrained by the actual rules of science proved liberating for James, and led to the psuedo-science fiction of the Bitterwood series, superhero novels like Nobody Gets the Girl, and the steam-punk visions of Bad Wizard.

​In 2015, James was honored as the Piedmont Laureate by the United Arts Councils representing Orange County, Durham County, and Wake County. This is almost certainly a sign of the ongoing cultural decay gripping the nation.

​James lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his lovely and patient wife Cheryl and too many cats.

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Narrator Bio

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

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I had the pleasure to read a paperback copy of this book some years ago and I recall I really enjoyed it. That hasn’t changed at all now with this new audiobook version. It was a real treat to revisit this epic quest and these interesting characters.

In this little corner of this world, there are plenty of islands and some of the last bastions of true wilderness. That’s because an elemental dragon, Greatshadow, resides in the depths of one of the islands volcanic mountains. Stagger, who dies very early on in the book, watches as his friends, frenemies, and a few unknowns are gathered together to take on the great task of killing Greatshadow. They hope to free humans from his tyranny, forever making fire safe to humans to handle. each of the questers has their own reasons for going on this journey, ranging from a holy quest to a great treasure hunt. Stagger is along for the right, his spirit being tied to his old dagger that he left with his drinking buddy Infidel.

First, lets talk about the characters. Yes, there are plenty of them, but most of them are pretty interesting. Stagger is a 50ish man that never did much more with his life than hunt up treasure, drink himself stupid, and hold a silent crush on Infidel. Now as a ghost, he’s taking an active role in one of the greatest (and perhaps most foolhardy) acts of humanity in recorded history – the not-insignificant attempt to slay an ancient and elemental dragon. Through this quest, he has to face some old acquaintances and also see people he cares about put in danger. So, he’s kind of having a midlife crisis without actually being alive. These circumstances force him to grow if he wants to make a difference.

Then there’s Infidel. She’s the true focus of this story. Being in her 30s, she’s got this unusual power of super strength and nearly impermeable skin. She’s a tank build like a healthy young lady on the short side. With the death of her best friend Stagger, she has to reassess what she wants to do with her life. She realizes that Stagger made treasure hunting and drinking fun and that she didn’t need much more than that. With him gone, she’s ready for a change.

Aurora was my next favorite character. She’s an ice ogress, complete with tusks. She’s quite good with her ice magic and very talented with a harpoon. In fact, she’s seeking a sacred weapon that belongs to her people and she suspects that one of their party has that weapon hidden away. Then there’s Wreak. I don’t really like him, per se, but he was just so interesting. He’s a half-seed, meaning that his mother bought some alchemically enhanced animal semen and applied it appropriately, coming up with a baby Wreak 9 months later. Unfortunately, it appears she purchased skunk semen…. perhaps on purpose. Just one of those little mysteries that we may never solve. The character list is littered with odd misfits aplenty: righteously angry religious man, a deformed strong man with almost no face, another zealot who can alter reality, a dream spinner (Blade) and his deadly assassin of a dream (Whisper), a flying knight with his shiny armor and mighty hammer, a tattooed man that can shape shift (Menagerie), the time traveling Black Swan, and the thought stealing Relic.

Then we have this quest that’s all told from the viewpoint of dear departed Stagger. It’s not a straightforward quest; the group suffers plenty of set backs. I liked that there was a mix of motivations for going on this quest and then that the quest itself was not so easy. There’s some internal conflicts and pygmies and just the jungle island to cross. Then toss in a little romance that isn’t expected to go anywhere in a hurry. I loved the girl talks between Aurora and Infidel, two warriors with vastly different experiences when it comes to sex. Not all of these would-be heroes make it to the end of the book. Some die out of stupidity. Some die from jungle traps set by the pygmies. Some die doing what they do best and in a noble manner. A few I wanted dead and a very few I nearly cried when they did die.

The ending held a few more surprises. Things didn’t end as I expected them to and that made me happy. This is not a predictable sword & sorcery tale. While the ending wraps things up for this tale, it leaves thing open for the sequel. It was a most satisfying book.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Jake Urry brought a new level of enjoyment to this book. He really pulled out the stops for the variety of voices. I especially loved his creepy voice for Whisper. His muffled voice for the strongman with the face abnormality was well done. His voice for Greatshadow was excellent – deep, ancient, somewhat haughty, and powerful. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. There were many emotions the various characters lived through in this book and he did a great job at showing those as well. All around, a fantastic narration.

What I Liked: Everything; loved the characters – such variety!; an unpredictable plot; Stagger’s growth as a ghostly character; Infidel’s chats with Aurora; Aurora’s tusks and weapons skills; Wreak’s stinky power; Greatshadow’s sheer presence; a tidy ending with enough room for a sequel; great narration.

What I disliked: Nothing. It was a great listen.

Runs Aug. 20th-27th 2017⎮Open internationally

Greatshadow Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Naamah’s Blessing Part V

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, Allie at Tethyan Books is the host. We’re covering Chapters 58-71, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) What are your thoughts on the whole situation with Bao and Cusi? Was it right of Bao and Moirin to engage in blood sacrifice? What do you think of Cusi’s willingness?

Cusi was going to be a sacrifice anyway but it felt better knowing that she was willing to be one for the right reasons. Those right reasons involved Bao and Moirin because of their unique gifts, so I’m OK with them being a part of it. I do appreciate that they were strongly against it at first and that they will probably have a lot of mixed feelings on it for a chunk of time afterwards.

As for Cusi’s willingness… well, it’s not an experience I have reference for. I can see a person sacrificing themselves in an active way, usually in an emergency and for the greater good or for a loved one. However, Cusi’s sacrifice requires her to be most passive and for results that may or may not come to pass. It truly takes faith and that’s not something I am personally strong in. The fact that’s she’s underage (not married and as far as I can tell not treated as an adult in all ways) brings up more questions.

2) Was the secret of the ancestors what you thought it would be? Was it worth Cusi’s sacrifice?

Honestly, I was expecting a bit more. It was still fierce and frightening and a show of power… but was it enough to say, yes, this is worth the sacrifice of a vibrant young lady who is going to contribute decades of worthiness to her people? Well, I guess the next few chapters will answer that. Perhaps those ancestral ghosts did more than give Raphael a beat down. Perhaps they made the waters run pure, the fish plentiful, the plants heavy with fruits, and the tubers extra tasty.

3) Did Jehanne’s intervention, or Raphael’s reaction to it, surprise you? Do you think saving Moirin’s relationship with the Maghuin Dhon was worth eliminating their last resort to thwart Raphael?

It was good to see Jehanne doing what she could. She wasn’t one to apologize or plead in life but her better nature was on full display in that heart-felt talk with Raphael.

Too bad he was unable to take much good from it. He’s definitely all about himself, isn’t he?

As for weighing out Moirin’s link to her Great Bear & most likely Bao’s life versus thwarting Raphael/Fokolor – that’s a tough question. We don’t know what all Fokolor is capable of and there’s probably another way to (eventually) thwart him. And it was unclear to me if Fokolor would be permanently tied to Raphael or free to wreak his own havoc plus whatever else Raphael wants.

On the other hand, we’ve seen so much great good that Moirin has been able to do, and that is in part due to her Great Bear.

4) On Raphael’s attempted summoning, do you think his turn-around at the end is enough to bring him right enough with Elua to pass into the Terre d’Ange that lies beyond? Meaning, do you think he can be forgiven?

No, not yet. He has to pass Kushiel’s judgement first. I expect he truly has to be regretful, and I think he was in that moment, but would that regret last beyond that moment? I would like to think so, but I expect Kushiel would need him to seek forgiveness for many, many things. Once Kushiel’s gives his thumbs up (or two floggers up) then I expect Elua will welcome him into the Terre D’Ange that lies beyond.

Other Tidbits:

When Thierry’s men were punished, I was truly worried that either Thierry or Balthazar would be killed.

I wonder how much of Raphael’s varying moods was him on a power trip versus Fokolor showing through.

I do feel a bit bad for all those lizards that were sacrificed to get the dosing right for the paralytic. Also, many animals metabolize such poisons differently from humans, so yes, there had to be a human trial…. yet, still, that was such a gamble as there can be some big differences among humans.

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).

Abaddon’s Gate Part III

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 27-40, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. So, Ashford is a deranged man with a military force and a religious nut backing him up. Do you think the counter-coup will stick (or even stick together)?

I’m not sure how this counter-coup will play out. I recall that Bull had that Mars mech armor locked up good but I don’t recall where, but I expect those suits will come into play and would change the tide for whoever got their hands on them.

As for Ashford and Cortez being able to hold together this counter-coup, well, I think it depends on who’s the more unstable. If they are about equal, then, yes, they will hold together. If at some point either one of them does a drastic thing that makes the other reconsider his current path, then they will fall apart.

2. So we’re asking this question every week now. It’s a thing, okay? Where are you with the new characters NOW?

There’s some things I like about Anna, like her going over to the Roci and saving the crew (sort of) but then I don’t click with her naivete that all can be solved with love, compassion, and forgiveness. In a day to day setting, I would just shrug my shoulders and go on but here in this extreme situation, I’m not convinced she’s doing humanity a favor.

Melba/Clarissa – wow! OK, someone walked into the deep end and forgot how to float.

Tilly, while a secondary character, is awesome in some ways. I like that she’s willing to share her extravagance and for some reason I like that she’s trying to take Clarissa under her wing as best she can.

Bull – man! I love this guy. He’s so practical and interesting. Even though he’s bullheaded, such as refusing the medical coma, he sees that the ship (even the fleet) may need a strong leader. And that’s proven true with the counter-coup in progress.

3. Confronted by Anna, the crew of the Rocinante have a big decision to make. What do you make of their response(s)?

I’m OK with the crew keeping things quiet for now. It would only serve to anger an already stirred up hornet’s nest. Also, I’m pretty sure Clarissa isn’t playing with a full deck of cards at this point so executing her would bring all sorts of ethical questions into play.

Of course Naomi forgave her because that’s what she does.

I think when the crew said they owed Anna anything they weren’t expecting this. But I also think that out of all of them, Amos really meant it so when Anna asked for them to keep things about Clarissa quiet for now, it was easy for him to say Yes.

4. So Miller’s back then, and it’s all falling apart. Predictions for the finale? Will they get home?

I really don’t know how things are going to play out. In an earlier post, I said that I totally expected the crew to get back to the Solar System but now I’m not sure if that’s how things will end with this book. I don’t expect them all to die and I don’t expect them to be stuck at this big alien way station for the rest of the series, but they might be trapped here for a time, especially if Ashford and Cortez get the automated alien police all pissed.

Other Tidbits:

It was good to see Naomi do something other than be a peacemaker and love interest once again.

Lemonade, anyone? Tilly’s buying!

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.

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery

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Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Three

Genre: Classics

 

Anne of the Island was published in 1915, seven years after the best-selling Anne of Green Gables, partly because of the continuing clamor for more Anne from her fans – a fan base that continues to grow today!
In this continuation of the story of Anne Shirley, Anne leaves Green Gables and her work as a teacher in Avonlea to pursue her original dream (which she gave up in Anne of Green Gables) of taking further education at Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane enroll as well, as does Anne’s friend from Queen’s Academy, Priscilla Grant. During her first week of school, Anne befriends Philippa Gordon, a beautiful girl whose frivolous ways charm her. Philippa (Phil for short) also happens to be from Anne’s birthplace of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. Anne, always the good scholar, studies hard, but she also has many life lessons. This book sees Anne leave behind girlhood to blossom into a mature young woman.

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➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
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Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series it works just fine as a stand alone.

Anne Shirley is growing up and now in her late teens, she has the opportunity to go to college. Set in 1915, Redmond College in Nova Scotia, Canada is the nearest and best choice for her. Her dear friend Priscilla Grant also enrolls. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane, childhood friends, are returning for their second year of education. While there, Anne meets Philippa (Phil) Gordon who she becomes good friends with despite Phil’s honest vanity.

I missed these classics when I was kid but I have enjoyed the trilogy as an adult. Book 1 is still my favorite as I feel Anne has the most imagination and the silliest accidents in that book. Now that she’s an adult, she still has much to learn but she doesn’t have as much imagination nor does she have so many simple mistakes and accidents. No, her blunders are fewer but also are more serious, especially in matters of the heart.

Much of this book had to do with romance. Sigh. It seems that all the young people go off to college to find a spouse and if they happen to get a degree along the way, so much the better for it. While the ladies have some depth to them in this tale, the men are pretty much just stick figures. Even poor Gilbert Blythe has little to do with the tale. We learn so little about him that I as the reader could project any traits I like onto him to make him the perfect match for Anne. So I would have liked less romance and more details about the characters.

With that said, the ladies have their hands full learning how to manage their lives away from home. Anne discovers that she does have a soft spot for cats after all. While Phil usually lacks a filter between brain and mouth, I did find her honesty about everything, including her own faults, to be amusing. One of the ladies gets a Math degree which I thought was great considering the date this was set in and published. (Though we rarely see any of the ladies doing anything related to their studies, since they spend so much time gossiping about the men).

The most touching scene for me was when Anne returned to her birthplace. Phil happens to be from there and she invites Anne to come visit during one of their breaks from college. Anne has long wondered about her parents. Going to Bolingbroke held a lot of importance for Anne.

After much drama about Anne’s love life, the story wraps up rather quickly. Things are tied up neatly and with a happy ending.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Colleen Winton once again makes a great Anne. I like how she manages to make Anne sound a little older with each book while also managing to make her be distinctly Anne. Her male voices were also spot on as well as her elderly voices. Anne has a range of serious emotions in this book and Winton did great in capturing them with all their nuances.

What I Liked: Anne is growing up; Phil’s lack of brain-to-mouth filter; Math degrees for women!; Anne gets to visit her birthplace; things neatly wrapped up at the end; great narration.

What I Didn’t Like: So much silly romance and romantic gossip!; the men are pretty much stick figures – we learn so little about Gilbert Blythe!

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

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History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

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A Lovelorn Virgo
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To Read Or Not To Read
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Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Vacation by J. C. Miller

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Author: JC Miller

Narrator: Curt Simmons

Length: 7h 28m

Publisher: JC Miller Writer

Released: July 14, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

 

 

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JC (Jeanne) Miller is a freelance essayist, the author of five novels, including the best-seller, Vacation. An avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast, JC resides in Northern California.

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Narrator Bio

Curt lives in Seattle and produces and narrates audiobooks in his home studio. He began his performing career in college as a stage actor and radio personality. After college, in addition to acting, Curt also did voiceovers for commercials, which he also wrote, directed, and edited for broadcast TV. Following the birth of his daughter in 1984, he left the performing arts to pursue a more “stable” profession managing projects. Then, in 2014 he returned to the professional stage for the first time in over 30 years as Walter Flood in Becky’s New Car by Stephen Dietz. He has also appeared recently as Lyman in Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz and Ralph in The Last Romance by Joseph DiPietro. Vacation is Curt’s eighth audiobook.

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Dr. William Koval is a 40 year old widower. He loves his microscope and petri dishes, his life being pretty uncomplicated. However, a shadow glooms his life up a bit, his wife, Kathleen, having been killed by a mentally unstable man three years earlier. Now work forces him to take a vacation and he decides on a whim to sign up for an English walking tour, something him and his wife were planning to do before her untimely death. The walking tour brings him some closure and perhaps a new chance at happiness.

I have to say this isn’t my normal cup of tea but I was intrigued by the English walking tour and a still-grieving widower trying to say goodbye to his deceased wife and the life they had together. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The English walking tour has some bumps and burrs to it and that made it interesting. I was hoping for a touch more here and there. In fact, if the book had all been set in this English country walk, with rich history and some cultural tidbits tossed in, then I would have been very happy with the book. There were plenty of fun & interesting characters on the tour as well but we had to say goodbye to almost all of them when the tour ended.

Alas, the second half of the book is back in the states and is a pretty standard contemporary romance. Should he call her? Will she call him back? Can he get over his past? Will she forgive him? Can they come together over a shared travesty? Quite frankly, it was pretty boring to me. The first half is exciting and different and more than a simple romance. It had complexity. The second half lacked these traits.

The main characters themselves were interesting. William is a doctor, but not a people person nor does he seek glory in complicated surgeries or being a leading expert in some minute field of interest. He’s a practical, quiet man. Deciding to go off to England on a whim was so out of his norm and yet I could clearly see it was him trying to breath life back into this stagnant existence he was stuck in.

Annie Logan is a history buff and also hails from the Seattle area (same as William) and it’s one of those odd quirks that they meet in England. I liked that she was generally soft spoken but would hold her ground, politely but firmly, when she decided enough was enough. She had this trait not only in England but also back home on Vashon Island.

It turns out that Kathleen had a secret, one that William starts to put together on the English walking tour. Kathleen’s best friend, Liz, is now William’s best friend. It’s a friendship that has given them each much comfort, especially when William comes over for a homecooked meal with Liz’s family. I really liked how comfortable they were with each other and how their friendship kept the good parts of Kathleen’s memory alive.

So all told, this story had a solid start with a complex William in an unusual situation. The second half wasn’t my normal fare and while it bored me a bit, I had to know how things turned out for Annie and William. If contemporary romance is your thing, then I highly recommend this book. It has depth.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Curt Simmons was most excellent in this performance. I am truly impressed by his range of not only male & female voices but also his ability to capture nuanced emotions. He had the perfect voice for William, sounding as mild as milk initially and growing in complexity as learn more about William. His female voices were spot on. Each character was distinct and there were several accents for the English walking tour half of the book (Australian, French, British, etc.). He was a pleasure to listen to.

What I Liked: 40-year old widower is the main character; the English walking tour has it’s problems; all the interesting characters in England; Annie’s quiet determination once she’s set her mind to something; William realizing that Kathleen was not a perfect person; excellent narration.

What I Didn’t Like: The second half of the book was pretty simple and it was a bit boring to me.

 

Vacation Giveaway: 2 Free Audiobooks of Your Choice

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Naamah’s Blessing Part IV

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 am the host (Lynn’s life got busy). We’re covering Chapters 43-57, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Betrayal again! Did you expect it here in the heart of the jungle? How do you feel about this outcome versus what Durel has endured and has yet to face?

This time, I wasn’t really expecting such a big betrayal. I thought the disgruntled guide might leave, and perhaps that could put the party in a pinch, but I wasn’t expecting him to put both himself and his father is the middle of the violence.

It’s a tough situation but I think it was handled as best as possible. There wasn’t a feasible way to keep him under guard nor to send him back to the main city under guard to await some sort of ‘civilized’ law.

I do hope Durel hears of this and realizes how lucky he and his family are.

2) Raging rivers, deadly illness, efficient deadly natives, scary ants, big snakes: I know you don’t want to face any of them, but if you had to choose, which would you tackle?

So tough! So having faced 2 minor floods that messed up my property, I wouldn’t want to face a raging river. It’s really only luck if you survive that.

I can’t communicate with ants and they are rather single-minded once they get an idea. Unless I have a flame thrower, or a raging river between them and me, I am not tangling with them.

So snakes or people. Hmm… Snakes I guess. People are so unpredictable while snakes are pretty predictable and it pays not to be stupid.

3) Vilcabamba held a nasty surprise, didn’t it? An army of ants and Raphael controlling them! Were you surprised? How do you think Moirin will learn to deal with the ants?

Yes, I was surprised. I should have seen all the hints with Denis de Toulard mentioning the ants and even earlier with the D’Angeline poet and her 7th floor apartment, as far from the ants as possible.

I’m really not sure how Moirin will get around the ants. Perhaps she will be forced to summon Folkolor but as usual she will be polite and Folkolor will give her a small gift, one that lets her take control of the ants or destroy Raphael’s hold on them.

4) Raphael intends to summon Fokolor and force him to relinquish his powers or serve him without question. What do you think Fokolor’s reaction will be? Will he be so easily enslaved or tricked?

I really hope Fokolor plays some of his nasty tricks on Raphael. In fact I now wonder if he can take back his previous gift to Raphael and make it so he can no longer communicate with ants. I don’t expect anything concerning Fokolor to be easy.

Other Tidbits:

I keep noticing this underlying theme of family honor. Durel is concerned about having let his family down. Now this new betrayal leaves a grieving father feeling the need to make up for his son’s bad deeds.

Raphael has made the mistake of thinking of his servants and such as savages and letting them know it. Somehow I don’t think they expect their ‘god Raphael’ to think of them as savage. This is just another chink in his armor and I hope Moirin exploits it.

Potato planting! Yay!

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).

Abaddon’s Gate Part II

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 13-26, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) After two books that built mystery on top of mystery, we finally get some answers. What revelation excites you the most?

I like knowing what Miller is, though I daresay all of us half-guessed it. It makes me wonder if Julie was somehow the same thing for Miller (when he was alive)… but Miller and Julie never met in real life.

Intergalactic travel is now possible if only the human species can live long enough to harness the technology.

2) Was Holden right to head off on his own? And how do you think he’ll fare now that he’s been captured by the Martians? And is his crew still alive?

Yes, Holden was right. He’s the one that’s been chatting up Miller/Protomolecule. So he’s the logical choice for going. Plus, he doesn’t have any skills that aren’t matched (or outmatched) by his crew mates. He’s not a mechanic or a pilot.

Well, the Martians will keep him alive provided he doesn’t do anything stupid and if Anna, Bull, or the Roci crew can get them to listen, they will want Melba and the documentary crew much more than Holden.

Yes, I think the Roci’s crew is still alive simple because there’s like 3 or 4 more books in the series.

3) On a related note, how do you feel about the new POV characters now? Are you warming to any?

I’m still intrigued by Melba simply because she’s both obsessed and thoughtful, and yet still has a blind eye towards her dad’s actions and how that created much of this mess.

Bull is still very interesting though now I worry about his survivability. He really needs some serious medical attention but I don’t know if he will be able to get what he needs in time so I applaud him making a tough choice to stay awake and do what he can.

4) Do you think Earth and Mars will agree to the OPA’s plan? Do you think they’ll be stuck forever in this weird starless place or will they get back home?

I think they will hesitate, especially Mars, but will  ultimately agree to send over their wounded. Everyone is desperate and has suffered losses.

As to whether any of them will get home again, that’s a very good question. This series has been full of surprises so far. At the end of Book 1, I expected war between Mars and Earth and possibly the OPA, but we didn’t get a full out war at all. Then at the end of Book 2, I thought that tentacular blob ejected from Venus would head towards another moon or planet to take over; instead, it turned into the big ring gate. So while I don’t expect our key players to be stuck in this starless construct for the next 3 or 4 books, I really don’t know where the story will take us next.

5) Oh, and do you think that destroyer of worlds, strange darkness is still out there?

If this protomolecule could exist for 2 million years in the void of space & eventually take us to this weird waystation in another galaxy, then yes, I think whatever could take out the civilization that created those first two could still be out there. Whether or not it’s murderous is really the question.

Other Tidbits:

Is it just me, or is Naomi having less to do this book? She’s coming across as a little whiny to me and as someone who just pops up when Holden needs his moral compass or sanity checked.

Betrayed Amos is a sad, angry Amos. Poor dude.

Tilly is more than a pretty face and fashionista. I’m glad she’s got some smarts to her.

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.

Abaddon’s Gate Part I

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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 the Prologue-Chapter 12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. This time around the prologue shows us what became of The Thing That Abandoned Venus. Any ideas about what the purpose of the Ring might be?

My, I wasn’t expecting that! I was really expecting it to be some seed headed off to another planet or moon in our solar system. So now we have this ring and it seems to be a gate to somewhere very far off. I recall someone contemplating what was known so far, like sending in objects and light waves and also receiving radio waves from the inside of the ring that were older than the Big Bang. Perhaps that was Anna contemplating all that. Time warp? Just an intergalactic gate?

2. New book means new characters! Do any of these newcomers stand out to you at this point? If so, who and why?

Melba/Julie Mao’s sister (Clarice?) is interesting because she feels some regret over some of the horrible things she has to do… and yet she totally doesn’t explore the morality of her dad’s actions.

Bull is fun, coming from Alamogordo, New Mexico. I love that his special treat is some frozen Hatch chili. I liked the way he handled the Pixie Dust problem on the generation ship turned military vessel.

3. It looks like bureaucracy is finally catching up to the Rocinante crew. Do you think they’ll actually lose the ship?

Somehow I don’t think they will lose the ship through court. they have plenty of money and the ship is a moving target. They can hire their own lawyers and one court (OPA) has already granted them salvage rights to it. If Earth or Mars overturns the OPA’s ruling, the OPA could well be insulted, feeling like they aren’t acknowledged as a true sovereign realm.

But I do fear that someone could illegally take it from them or they could have to evacuate due to some sabotage or protomolecule stuff or the need to hurtle a very fast ship into a large alien ring, thereby destroying it….

Other Tidbits:

Brown sludge that looks like feces but smells like the best braised beef ever – yuck! I’ve never been a fan of foods that look like one thing but taste very different – like cakes that are made to look like litter boxes and such.

I think it was good of Ana’s wife to take their little girl to Earth so that she has the choice later on of where she wants to live. She can always return to the Belt or go to Mars, but if she grew up in low G, she wouldn’t have the choice of living on Earth.

I really like how Ana handled that domestic violence issue. Clever! Ana may well be a force to be reckoned with.

Sounds like Holden’s crew all have secrets they don’t want to share with the documentary crew. I do wonder the most about Alex.

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.

Naamah’s Blessing Part III

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, Grace at Books Without Any Pictures is the host. We’re covering Chapters 30-42, so be prepared for spoilers below!

Sorry for posting late this week. I went to Denver’s MALcon last weekend and actually met Jacqueline Carey, but it really wore me out so I’m behind on everything. Totally worth it though!

1) Were you surprised by Durel’s betrayal? Do you the captain and Balthasar handled it well?

I figured Durel would be some sort of disappointment. Perhaps he would have deserted them at a crucial point or become a bane upon the group by suggesting some stinging sap for genital warts to the soldiers. I wasn’t expecting an outright betrayal that so easily put himself in danger.

Yes, I feel that Balthasar handled it well. He took some pleasure in playing the role but I’m not convinced he would have taken it to depravity had he been left alone. Basically, I trust him to know where the lines are.

While the outcome was final, I’m glad that there wasn’t a lot of drama about it. Everyone had their say, including Durel, and it seems all understood what had to be. Durel has some honor left in him which shows in his willingness to testify against Rogier. Though I do wonder what would have happened had he said no outright.

2) Now that we’ve had some time to get acquainted with Terra Nova, what do you think of it? What do you make of the Nahuatl, and of the overall political tensions in Terra Nova? Do you think there’s any hope for reconciliation between the Aragonians, D’Angelines, other tribes, and Nahuatl?

What a mess! The native peoples had some organization between civilizations before the Aragonians got there but they also had (and still have to some extent) slavery, war, and human sacrifice. While it wasn’t perfect before the Europeans arrived, the Aragonians haven’t necessarily made it better. They are pretty disrespectful of the locals, especially the women.

I would like to think that the D’Angelines will get a toehold into the Americas and their wholesome ideas about sex will help establish respectful relationships. It won’t be perfect as the D’Angelines are prone to think of themselves as superior in many ways no matter their company.

3) What are your impressions of Achculati and the bargain he offered? How do you think Moirin’s choice will impact her going forward?

Moirin rocked this! She made it clear that an intimate night with her was as much honor as any man could ever hope for. Good for her! I like that she can value herself without being pretentious.

Obviously, Moirin is willing to meet the locals as equals, something the Aragonians haven’t been able to do. I hope her example shows them how relations could be if there was mutual respect.

Other Tidbits:

Moirin keeps trying to chat with the native American ladies, but with limited success so far. I hope that changes.

It’s interesting how the horses are such a status symbol, though I think few would enjoy riding llamas and obviously the llamas have distinct ideas about that…. and yet we haven’t seen any yet in this story.

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).

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

Scroll to the bottom for the Giveaway!

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Two

Genre: Classics

 

Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), this book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. We learn of Anne’s doings from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones: Mr. Harrison and his foul-mouthed parrot, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora (sweet and well behaved) and Davy (mischievious and in constant trouble). Anne matures, slightly, but she gets into a number of her familiar pickles, as only Anne can: She accidentally sells her neighbor’s cow (having mistaken it for her own), gets stuck in a broken duck house roof while peeping into a pantry window, and more.

AudiblePost Hypnotic Press

➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
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Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Anne of Green Gables returns in this classic. Now she’s a school marm at age 17. Her little batch of students charm and try her by twists and turns. Toss in the recently orphaned twins Davy and Dora Keith, and Anne has her hands full indeed! She has many mishaps and whimsical adventures in this tale.

This is a charming little book about Anne. While there’s no central plot to the tale (it reads more like a string of interconnected short stories), the characters really make it work. Anne is so well-meaning even if she makes mistakes and causes property damage. She always apologizes and makes amends (whether through doing repairs or paying for replacements). I especially liked Anne’s idea of the Avonlea Village Improvement Society (AVIS) and the Pye family.

Anne wants everyone to love her and she strives to find a way to win the trust, love, and approval of all those around her. However, as a school marm she sometimes finds this impossible when the rascals try her sorely. Then there’s Mr. Harrison and his sailor-mouthed parrot Ginger. Davy would probably give her early grey hairs if he doesn’t learn to behave.

Marilla, Anne’s adoptive guardian, is still a significant part of the story. I like her steadying hand and well-placed advice. While I did like Book 1 a little more since is was about Anne fitting into this new life, it’s so good to have Marilla be such a backbone presence in this tale.

Occasionally the tale dips a toe into the preaching pond with examples of good morals and what not. It was mild but once or twice I did roll my eyes. There is one short discussion about ‘injun’ feathered headdresses which dates this work.

Anne grows up a bit in this book. She’s working full time, has her own chores and adult friends. Then she and Marilla take on Davy and Dora. Marilla’s eyesight is failing so Anne has all the sewing to do for the household. Even though she hates sewing, she’s willing to do it to give these kids a good home, even if just temporarily.

There’s busted plates, caterpillars down a shirt, frog in a bed, a cow sold accidentally, a horrendous storm, and plenty more in this tale of Anne’s young adulthood. My favorite was the parrot Ginger. He swears a lot (though we never get to hear it swear) but it provides meaningful companionship for Mr. Harrison.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Colleen Winton was a great pick for Anne. She has that wonder and gentleness that Anne is well known for. She also does a great Marilla, being a little sour but overall well meaning. She has distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices are quite well done too. Her little kid voices are great as well as though few for the elderly.

What I Liked: Anne’s growing up; the parrot; both good and bad things happen; the taming of Davy, who is so naughty sometimes; the whimsical nature of some of Anne’s musings; great narration.

What I Disliked: From time to time, there’s a preachy bit here or there; one racial comment.

Win a store credit to Post Hypnotic Press (audiobooks!). Open Internationally. There will be 3 winners. Ends August 20th, 2017.

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

Aug. 6th:
History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

Aug. 7th:
The Book Slayer
A Book and A Latte
Tara’s Book Addiction

Aug. 8th:
CGB Blog Tours
2 Girls and A Book
Lilly’s Book World

Aug. 9th:
The Maiden’s Court
Macarons and Paperbacks
Canadian Book Addict

Aug. 10th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Dab of Darkness
Haddie’s Haven

Aug. 11th:
To Read Or Not To Read
Joy of Bookworms
Hall Ways
Bound 4 Escape

Aug. 12th:
Lomeraniel
Forever Literary
Life As Freya
WTF Are You Reading?

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