New Spring, Part II

JordanNewSpringBannerWelcome everyone to Book 0 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is a prequel to the series set several years before Book 1. You can find the schedule to New Spring over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am the host. You can catch Eivind, our WoT, in the comments.  Stop by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning. Make sure to check out Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 7-16. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Throughout this section, we see that Moiraine is still having dreams about the babe born on Dragon Mount. Since we know dreams can have deeper meanings in this series, do you think it is just an anxiety nightmare? Or do you think it is something more?

I think it is something more. Sure, part of it is anxiety. After all, Randland is steeped in folklore, prophecies, religion about the next Breaking of the World (Tarmon Gai’don) and the Dragon Reborn. I guess it could be akin to worrying about the Devil or the Anti-Christ for those of Christian faiths. If you knew that a person of such legend/religion/spiritual belief had indeed been born, I guess your anxiety and/or enthusiasm would manifest in one way or another.

But in this world, we also know dreams can have deeper meanings. I don’t think Moiriaine is Dream Walking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone could be influencing her dreams just a touch (like Egwene with her Dream Walking and happening to stride into a Gawyn dream and take control of it) to give her that extra push to go out and find Rand.

2) There were several side characters/minions from the series in this section too. Who do you wish we got to see a bit more of? Is there anyone you wanted to snuff out here and now?

Elyas!!!! I definitely want to see more of Elyas and his time as a Warder and then the change – how and when he became a Wolf Brother.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind Elaida being removed at this juncture, but that would probably screw things up later instead of making them easier. Can you imagine a competent Dark Friend/Black Ajah becoming Amyrlin Seat and denying Egwene her cozy rainbow stole and den? That would suck. So better to stay with Elaida.

3) Moiraine and Siuan are raised to the shawl. Do you think the ter’angreal used in the testing was created for that purpose? Or do you think it has another, long lost purpose, and the Aes Sedai of old found it and put it to this use?

Having seen how opportunistic and often twisted the Aes Sedai can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ter’angreal was originally created for another purpose (such as ascertaining info from a captured foe by running him/her through various scenarios) and then was repurposed to test the Accepted for the shawl. Perhaps for a while it was used for both and then perhaps such creative torture went out of fashion, so it all had to be kept hush-hush for several decades, etc. I wonder if the Amyrlin secret histories say anything about the origin of this particular ter’angreal?

4) The Amyrlin Seat, Tamra Ospenya, died. How, do you think? What do you make of the new Amyrlin Seat, Sierin Vayu?

We had no word that Tamra was ill, so I am guessing that she had a rather sudden and unnatural death. Perhaps there were Black Ajah in the Tower even back then and this was one of their deeds. After all, if Rand had been brought up in the White Tower, or even under the Tower’s watchful eye on a designated farm, the Dragon Reborn would be an entirely different beast. And for an as-yet unknown reason, the Dark One wants the Dragon Reborn at Tarmn Gai’don, in tact (largely) and with his powers. I don’t think that would have been the case had Rand been raised by Aes Sedai.

The new Amyrlin, Sierin Vayu, seems to be a vicious thing indeed. She has kicked out all the men from the Tower (all the ones she can. legally) even if they are elderly or harmless. Is it just me, or do the Reds and women like Sierin have an inordinate fear of penises? Really, like 80% of the time, they are flaccid harmless things that aren’t particularly noticeable at all.

5) What do you think of Moiraine’s decision to leave the White Tower? Is she leaving for the right reasons? Do you think Siuan will be punished for Moiraine’s actions?

I think Moiraine is leaving for the wrong reasons. She’s use to getting her way and not having to ask permission to do or not do something, being royalty and all. But she is no longer the Lady Moiraine Damodred. She is Aes Sedai Moiraine. She swore the oaths, had a fair idea of what she was getting into, and ran when the first hint of being asked to do something she didn’t want to do wafted her way. She didn’t even try any other options before just taking off. So, I don’t think she has particular respect for the White Tower and definitely not for the new Amyrlin Seat. I don’t either, but I didn’t go through the lengthy training and then swear the oaths.

Yes, I completely expect Amyrlin Sierin to punish Siuan for Moiraine’s sudden departure. She is a nasty piece of work and I expect Elaida may be tasked with questioning Siuan about Moiraine’s absence.

6) We spent some time in Lan’s head in this section. How does young Lan compare to the Lan we know from the main series? What are your expectations of the possible forthcoming reunion between Lan and his first lover, Edeyn?

Lan as a young man seems to have a stick up his butt. Granted, he isn’t as well traveled as the Lan we know from the main series, but he certainly does seem to be concerned with receiving the proper amount of respect – lowered eyes and all. But he isn’t as bad as Bukama, who seems to want people to blink the correct number of times acknowledgement of his rank and superiority.

Edeyn definitely is a user and opportunist. She used Lan’s position in society when she claimed him as a lover all those years ago, parading him around court. And then she raises the flag when Lan is reported dead, gathering all sorts to her banner. I am not sure yet why she wants an army, and one without Lan leading it. I am sure Lan wants this question fully answered too. Obviously, Edeyn can’t control Lan and I expect that’s why she needs a dead, martyred Lan, instead of a live, feisty, heavily armed Lan.

Their little chat should be most amusing. I expect Lan, like all our male heroes in this series, would truly despise himself (needlessly) if he killed a woman (even if it was well deserved), so I expect that there shall be another way to neutralize her.

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine and Siuan had one final prank to play before becoming completely respectable and level-headed Aes Sedai. I approve. Though the mice probably didn’t.

As with Egwene & Nynaeve becoming Accepted, we only got to see one of our current Super Girls (Moiraine & Siuan) go through the testing to become full Aes Sedai. Even though it was expected, I still wish I had gotten to see a little of what Siuan went through.

I like the idea of the woman deciding when to get in and out of the romping bed. ;)

Prepping for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair

Weaving away for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair.

Weaving away for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair.

So I have this really big show coming up in just a few days. It is the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair. Last year over 8,000 people attended, so this will probably be the highest attended event this year that I participate in as a vendor. My weavings were juried in and it is my first year doing the event at all.

I am terribly excited! I literally start glowing every time I talk about this event. I also start talking really fast and go on and on. For those not interested in all this silliness, I ignore the fact that their eyes glaze over. There’s going to be all sorts of art vendors and food vendors. But then there will also be singing, dancing, fools of all sorts, equestrian jousting, falconry, and live steel combat. Yep. Fools of all kinds.

My man is also terribly excited about this event and has offered to help work the booth all weekend. I think this is so he can go watch the live steel combat more than once and sample all the food vendors over two days instead of just half of Sunday (just before take down). I’ll also be sharing a booth with my man’s brother, who does jewelry.

Booty from Battlemoor 2014!

Booty from Battlemoor 2014!

Now my man use to do the SCA thing (those folks who like to dress in Medieval clothing and reenact all the good parts) way back in highschool. So did his brother. Recently, my man and I joined our local SCA group. This is a whole new experience for me and kind of a home coming for my man. Anyway, lots of the SCA crowd will be at this event. I expect bardic singing at both the men in my booth, and at least one of them will gladly sing back. My man went to Battlemoor at the beginning of the month (5 days of singing and fighting in the woods) and brought back booty which included a pattern to make my own corset. Terribly cool! I just wish I had had time to do so before this event. But I will have time before the next Ren Fair.

Now for the bonus of the day! I have admired the work of three artists from afar and these three are going to be at the Fair as vendors. Not only that, they are on either side of me! OK, there is a bakery booth squeezed in there. But, basically, I am within easy shouting distance of these talented ladies. And I will try ever so hard not to go all fangirl on them.

The Wolf Sisters, Sandra SanTara and Goldie Grandjean, have had their work at Bubonicon, which is where I first admired their work. At Bubonicon, we can’t take any photos, so I will try to do their work justice via my words. Wolves and coyotes feature heavily in their work, and much of it has a Native American flair. The pieces that moved me in particular were of a more adult nature, showing wolves or coyotes with human attributes. I am really looking forward to showing my man their artwork. It stirs something visceral in me with the direct beauty. And yes, some of the pieces are arousing too. The combination of fantasy, nature, and allure is a potent, heady mix for me.

My Kickstarter packet full of Carla Morrow goodies. And Heldig kitty.

My Kickstarter packet full of Carla Morrow goodies. And Heldig kitty.

Then there is also Carla Morrow of DragonLady Art. I came across her work just a few months ago via Kickstarter. Her project was a 15 month calendar full of original dragon art. So I pitched in and a few months later got this incredible goodie bag that included the 2015 calendar, bookmark, postcards, a pencil drawing, and a fridge magnet. The artwork is stunning. I love the flow of the body lines of the dragons, making them sinuous and lithe. I keep returning to each scene, noticing something new each time.

So, yeah, there we have all my fangirl geekiness. Hopefully now that I have it all typed out, I won’t go all weird on them when I meet them.

This is just my second Ren Fair ever and I can use advice in general. So toss out quick easy hairdos, simple tent decorations, proper etiquette (is there such a thing if you’re carrying around a turkey leg?), and anything else that comes to mind!

 

All Bets Are Off by Sandra K. Marshall

MarshallAllBetsAreOffWhy I Read It: I find characters with an addiction to be interesting.

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

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like contemporary, sweet romance.

Narrator: Terran McGahae

Publisher: Eirelander Publishing (2014)

Length: 1 hour 32 minutes

Author’s Page

The book starts with a slap and a couple separating. Ana Torres has a gambling addiction and it has ruined her friendships, her marriage, and potentially her husband’s business. The book then rockets forward 2 years and Ana has her addiction under control, she has paid off her credit cards, moved out of her parents’ house, and now has her own business where she provides guidance to others trying to rein in their gambling addiction. Formally separated from her husband, Jason Gibbs, they have had little interaction since he tossed her out. Then an unexpected encounter at a party brings them face to face. Apparently, there are still sparks between them.

The book started off pretty serious with Jason giving Ana a slap, and then he immediately felt angry and ashamed at himself. Of course, this put me on Ana’s side right from the beginning and even once I learned she was the cause of financial ruin for the couple, I still felt some sympathy for her. If it had started with her gambling their lives away, I wouldn’t have been sympathetic to her character, so this was a clever intro by the author to get the reader invested in Ana from the beginning. When we jumped ahead 2 years, I was a little sad because I wanted to see Ana struggle with her addiction. We do get to see some of that in flashback thoughts as we move through the story, so that inner battle isn’t completely ignored. And this is a romance and about love, etc., not about addiction and the inner battle of the human soul.

The set up was good, the story OK. Contemporary romance isn’t my favorite genre, but because of the addiction angle I wanted to give it a try. Then there is the sex. I enjoy sex scenes in my stories and this book has 2 such scenes. The first is the better of the two. I was thoroughly getting into it but then the man stuck his tongue in her uterus. Yep. Uterus. Briefly, I hoped the story was going to take on some mutant scifi elements, but alas, it did not. To get to the uterus, you have to travel the entire vaginal canal and then get past the cervix. The cervix doesn’t let just any old object enter the uterus, being perhaps 1/8 inch opening nearly all the time (common exception is when a baby is headed out). So either the man had a very long and narrow tongue, or the woman had some mutant uterus that sat in the vaginal canal with the wide open cervix. Anyway, here is the Wikipedia article - and yes, it is safe for work. So I was totally into this sex scene – there was heat between the characters, great descriptors, etc. and then he sticks his tongue in her uterus. I giggled, totally taken out of the moment. At best, this is a big typo. At worst, the author is not well informed on the female genitals/reproductive organs. But, other than this one typo (I will be generous in my thoughts), the story flowed smoothly and was fun.

Jason has a type of woman he likes. This type is totally based on looks (petite, short, brown haired women). I have always found that having a type, romantically, really limits a person and I tend to avoid people who rely on measuring people against some type standard they have in their heads. So, I wasn’t really into Jason (even though, or maybe because, I am his type). The ending was a sweet ending to a sweet romance. While I felt that some issues were wrapped up a little too quickly, this is a short story. I left the story wishing the best for both Ana and Jason.

The Narration: Terran McGahae did a good job narrating. Her character voices were distinct and she had a good male voice for Jason. She wasn’t shy or hesitant during the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Starts off serious; underlying addiction story; sweet ending; good narration.

What I Disliked: Jason has a physical type of woman he is into; the use of the uterus during the sex scene; the ending was a little quick in wrapping up.

What Others Think:

My Tangled Skeins

 

New Spring, Part I

JordanNewSpringBannerWelcome everyone to Book 0 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is a prequel to the series set several years before Book 1. You can find the schedule to New Spring over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, our host is Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, and he can be found in the comments.  Stop by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning. Make sure to check out Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 1-6. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. We find ourselves back at the end of the Aiel war, with a long-lost friend. Are there any other time periods you would have liked to see instead? Other characters you would have liked to follow?

I’m not too sure when the Ogier pretty much stopped leaving their Steddings to do construction (was it before or after this Aiel war?) but I would have liked to see them at work, instead of just their handy work falling into disrepair over the ages.

For this book, I am really hoping we get to see Tam, maybe hang out in his head a bit, and see what he is like as a soldier.

2. Gitara Moroso foretells Rand’s birth. If you recall, she was also the one who told Tigraine (Rand’s mother) to leave and go to the waste. What do you think about one person having such an impact on history?

Maybe that is why Gitara had her heart attack. In her prophesy she saw Tigraine’s face and realized just what her impact on history was.

By now, we have had it repeated quite often that the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills and there is no escaping that will. So someone somewhere had to tell Tigraine to leave for the Waste, or help her, or force her to. So if Gitara had not done so, some other person/mechanism would have done so. With that in mind, no it is not so surprising that Gitara’s actions set in motion other actions that lead to Rand’s birth meeting the specifics of more than one prophesy concerning the Dragon Reborn.

3. Tamra Ospenya hopes to catch the Dragon Reborn in a big list of names. What do you think of this idea? Knowing what we know about Rand, do you find it likely that he’ll be in the lists somewhere?

I’m trying to recall if Tam came back with a big pouch of coins, even if he just tucked them away with his sword…..and I can’t recall. But since Rand was born to a dying woman, and Tam meets up with Rand’s step-mom just before or just after Rand’s birth, I am guessing that Tam wouldn’t have taken Rand to a long list and waited for such sad details to be recorded.

So perhaps someone else on the battlefield witnessed the birth and the death of the mother and will report it to the Aes Sedai when they take their own babe to be recorded, since we saw Moiraine and Siuan asking some of the women if they knew of other babes not being carried in the line. But even then, it might be pretty vague – Aiel mother, son with red hair, etc.

4. Elaida has apparently never been nice in her entire life. Was she even at this point seeing herself as a future Amyrlin, or has she just gotten ambitious later?

Oh I have the distinct impression that Elaida has always had a stick up her ass and has always planned to use that stick to climb as high as she can. And we all know she pulled it off. I feel a little sorry for the stick.

I do find it interesting that she seems to have it in for Siuan and Moiraine at the very start of their Aes Sedai career. I think this makes it that much easier to hate Elaida for what she does to Siuan later.

5. Am I the only one who can’t help drawing comparisons with Hogwarts? Do you have any funny ones?

LOL! I was doing that too throughout this section. The Amyrlin giving Moiraine a smile when it came to using the Power to clean the ink stain out of her skirt made me think of Dumbledore reminding Hermione about time and then casually locking them in so they won’t be disturbed as they rewind time to carry off the rescue.

6. Both Moiraine and Siuan are close to being raised to the shawl. Will we see that in this book? What do you think the testing will be like, and what new thing might we learn about Moiraine and Siuan from it? Lan is around also… will we see a warder bonding?

I expect we will see at least Moiraine raised so that she can bond Lan. Siuan seems ready and prepared to be raised, but will she be tested this book? I am not sure. The senior Aes Sedai seem to enjoy tormenting the young by moving too slowly on such matters.

We’ve heard a little bit that the testers can do anything short of physical abuse/maiming to break an Accepted’s concentration during the test. So I expect anything from outright goofy to vicious words to pains and threats of pain. Perhaps they will even threaten to harm an Accepted’s friends. Aes Sedai can be pretty darn cruel. But I bet if oneof them did something completely out of character, like suddenly appear in a clown suit, that shock factor may very well be enough to break the Accepted’s concentration.

As with Nynaeve’s testing from Novice into the Accepted ranks, I expect we will see some of what makes up the core of Moiraine’s character (and Siuan’s too if she gets to test in this book). Perhaps we will see something that points to her chaotic good nature – basically her deep dedication to save this world, and yet not really beholden to any one authority.

Other Tidbits:

Lan starts off with some interesting ideas of Aes Sedai, considering where he ends up.

I love seeing Moiraine and Siuan as somewhat insecure students still learning what they can do and what roads are possible for them.

It is also fun to see that Moiraine and Siuan totally buy in to some of these Aes Sedai assumptions and lies – like the superiority assumption that the Sea Folk and Tinkers turn over any girls who show a spark of the Power. Then there is the lie that all those who run away from the Tower are caught eventually and brought back to finish out their training.

Green Ajah are one of two warrior Ajahs (the Red being the other)! That’s a new way of looking at it!

OK. I need a family tree again. Moiraine is a Damodred. Elayne’s step-brother, Galad, is a Damodred, right? And Galad is suppose to be Tigraine’s first son, right? So is Moiraine like Rand’s auntie?

Interview: Gabi Stevens, Author of The Wish List

StevensTheWishListEveryone, please welcome Gabi Stevens to the blog today. She is the author of the Time of Transition series. She also writes under the name Gabi Anderson (Destiny Coin series) and G. S. Anderson (Preternatural). Today we discuss Harry Potter and Cinderella, Star Wars I and backstory, game shows, reboots versus retellings, and plenty more!

Who are your non-writer influences?

Dare I be cliché and say my family? Okay, now that that’s behind us . . . I have to thank the teachers in my life who taught me how to think and dream, especially in high school. I went to boarding school and not only did those teachers see us in the classroom, but they also lived with us on campus. We ate meals with them, I babysat their children, etc. They introduced me to Sci Fi and Fantasy novels.

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

Ooo, confession time. I haven’t read Dickens. I know. Shocking. But I will, one day. I’ve really never read Hemmingway, but I know the plots, and I just don’t want to. Okay, I have read The Old Man and the Sea, but none of the others. Steinbeck is another author I’ve never read. I tried to read The Red Pony once, but, well, no. I only kick myself for the Dickens. I haven’t read all of The Canterbury Tales or any of Beowulf, but I can claim to have read part of The Aeneid in Latin, as well as some Livy, Tacitus, and Palutus’s Menaechmi. And I can claim Faust, parts one and two in German. (Too much bragging?)

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

If you subscribe to the Joseph Campbell school of thought, there is only one story, so essentially every story is a reboot. That said, I loved Harry Potter (books more than movies, although I loved the movies too), which is essentially Cinderella. I myself have written a couple of Beauty and the Beast stories (one of my favorites). If you can’t tell, I love fairy tales (must be my German Lit background). I enjoy most of the new retellings of them–although no one has ever tackled my favorite, King Thrushbeard (or Grislybeard, as some have translated it, although the point of Thrushbeard is that the king’s beard looks like the beak of a bird).

StevensWishfulThinkingI’m not as fond of reboots. If it was good before, why remake it? Psycho? Really? And not enough time has passed to reboot some of the series (Could be that I’m just old). Dare I confess I haven’t seen the new Spiderman reboots? Planet of the Apes? Mad Max, ignoring the modern incarnation of Mel Gibson, is pretty awesome already. So what if it’s dated. That’s part of its charm. And clearly, the new one is not out yet, but did we really need a new one? There are so many untouched stories out there, why remake something that’s already been done and done well? But of course there are exceptions. I can’t wait for a good Hulk movie. And (I know this is controversial) I do like the reboot of Star Trek (but I loved the old series). But if they have to reboot, why not pick the really old stuff, like the Thin Man series. But my favorite is the reboot of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock (huge fan of this reboot).

There is this rumor that you have been on a few game shows – an experience worth repeating? What would your favorite characters from your own writing be like on a game show?

I have indeed. I was on the Family Feud with the women in my family when Richard Dawson was the host. We won twice then lost the third time, but only won the “Big Money” once. So many tales to tell from that experience, especially since two of our members had heavy Hungarian accents.

Then I appeared on Sale of the Century, and lost it in a tiebreaker because they said tiebreakers would be hard questions– it was easy, and by the time I thought, “But that’s easy,” the other guy had answered.

AndersonTemptation'sWarriorBut my favorite was on Jeopardy, where I came in third, but won the best set of pots and pans ever. No, seriously, they will be handed down to my children, the quality is that good. And I was doing great until Final Jeopardy. To myself I was chanting, “Don’t be US presidents, don’t be US Presidents”, and up pops the category: US Presidents. Man, the day before (because you watch several tapings while you wait) no one got the Final Jeopardy question right (What does Alice cross in “Through the Looking Glass?), and I was sitting in the audience screaming to myself because I knew it. My question: The last surviving president to have signed the US Constitution. Really?

So if my characters would be on game shows my characters, Tennyson Ritter, hero of THE WISH LIST, would do awesome on something like Jeopardy, but horrible on something like Family Feud. He’s got brains, but he just doesn’t have the exposure to the real world to answer questions about how other people would answer. Jonathan Bastion, hero of AS YOU WISH, is too savvy a businessman not to know how people respond to things, so Family Feud would be his game. And Hyacinth, one of the Fairy Godmothers who appear in the entire trilogy, couldn’t be bothered to do something like a game show. She would probably watch them and mock the contestants that appeared on them.

What is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th) is my favorite, closely followed by May the Fourth (Star Wars day!).

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

That was fun. I bought my daughters little tokens—one got a Pocket Dragon (porcelain figurine) reading a book, one got items for her Josefina doll, and I just can’t remember what I got the youngest. I bought my husband a ping pong table, which has since gone the way of the dinosaur. For myself, I bought a tiny Swarovski crystal inkwell with gold quill. When I got the call my husband was in the air, flying to Britain, so I had to leave a message at his hotel to call me as soon as he arrived with the words, “Good news” so he wouldn’t panic upon arrival. My two oldest daughters jumped up and down, and my youngest just looked up at me and said, “Chocolate milk.” Way to bring me down to reality quickly, but she was only four.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Mark Twain, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe, L. Frank Baum, and Agatha Christie. But I would order for them–tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chips and salsa, margaritas, green chile, and sopapillas. They need to be exposed to the food from where I’m from. Especially the margaritas. Can you imagine the conversation we could have after a couple?

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

How about for your 8th grade students?

I already did give my eighth graders SFF literature. Not only did we read a bunch of short stories—Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” “There Will Come Soft Rains”; Asimov’s Nightfall; Stephen Vincent Benet’s By the Waters of Babylon; but we also read the entire I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

As for college, here is my list of must reads: Stranger in a Strange Land, The Stars My Destination, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Martian Chronicles, The Foundation Series, The Lord of the Rings, Doomsday Book, Lord Foul’s Bane,…I know I’ve forgotten a ton.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

When isn’t such a moment awkward? When I’m the one doing the gushing, I figure I’m bothering the author. I had a chance to meet Brent Weeks last year and his wife and their little girl and all I could talk about was child rearing. And when someone gushes to me, I always wonder why? I’m not that good (did you know that most writers are terribly insecure).

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

When my husband and I watched Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, we spent two hours discussing the movie at the end. We are both huge Star Wars fans (the original series, and Han shot first) and we didn’t like it. What it boiled down to for me was it was all backstory. As a writer you’re taught not to dump backstory on the reader. Yes, you give hints to what happened in the past, but unless it’s relevant, you don’t need backstory. SW I, II, and III are all backstory. I didn’t need to know why Anakin turned bad. I already knew he had and that he was redeemed. Funny, considering I usually like spoilers, but the difference between spoilers and backstory is huge.

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

I am currently working on shopping around my first pure fantasy novel. I’ll keep you posted. In addition, I’ve got a story collection, Preternatural, on Kindle and Nook under the name GS Anderson, which is receiving some great reviews (Phew). Look for me and news about me at my web site: www.GabiStevens.com. You can also find me at Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Places to Stalk Gabi Stevens

Website

Blog

Goodreads

Facebook

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Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

Claudie oblivious to the photoshoot.

Claudie oblivious to the photoshoot.

Why I Read It:  Over the last two years, I have developed an interest in WWII, so this looked interesting.

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

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of romance and a touch of spyness.

Narrator: Daniel Gerroll

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 8 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 13 Night Soldiers

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this book is #13 in the series, it worked just fine as a stand alone.

Cristian Ferrar is a Spanish emigre living in France, having moved with his family at a young age, completed his schooling, and attained a position at a prestigious law firm. He is the sole financial support for his family, yet even with this on his mind, he can’t turn down the possibility to help the Spanish Republic in their civil war. Set in 1938, WWII wasn’t yet begun, but there is plenty of strive throughout Europe as powers large and small jockey for position and gather in weapons and assets. Cristian teams up with Max de Lyon as they enter Germany in search of a reliable arms dealer. They are joined off and on throughout the story by colorful associates and Cristian isn’t one to put his love life on hold just because he has to worry about spies and thugs.

I enjoyed the tandem plot lines of Spanish civil war and the hints that some bigger war (WWII) is coming. Germany is tightening up her borders and cracking down on dissenters. Russia is building up weapons stocks. The wealthy pick up and leave their homelands in search of safer grounds. There was plenty of uncertainty at this time and Furst captured that very well. Since Cristian’s family left Spain seeking a more peaceful and safer abode, he knows well the double-edged sword of being an emigre. His position at a prestigious Paris law firm, one that also has offices in New York, gave him heady creditability that let his bluff his way through more than one predicament.

While we are talking about Cristian, we have to talk about his ladies. I won’t talk about all of them, because that would take too many paragraphs. I will say that he seems to be a considerate lover, and usually a good one. Of course, his predilection towards love affairs from the start of the book made me suspicious that a woman may lead him into trouble with his spy work, so when that did happen, it was not a surprise. While there are several ladies in this novel, they are merely two-dimensional at best (they have a front side and a back side, and both are usually pleasing to Cristian’s eye). None of them have any role that impacts the plot and nearly all of them are love interests, though we do have at least 2 motherly figures tossed in. I think it is obvious that I would have enjoyed some of the ladies to take a more active role in the plot instead of being scenery.

Putting that one criticism aside, we had a pretty interesting plot that centered around trying to get weapons/armaments out of one country and into another. This was far more complicated than any movie ever depicted it and I was right there with Max and Cristian feeling their determined frustration over the matter. The story took us to several countries as secret agreements were made and potential assets were spied out. There were some grimly humorous scenes tossed in that made the book a joy to listen to.

As with any good historical fiction, I learned a few things. I won’t bore you with all of them, but here are two that I found particularly interesting. During this time, the Reich of Germany supported public nudity, as admiration of the ‘perfect Aryan body’ was very important. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy naked volleyball (except for maybe the heavy breasted – male or female!)? The second little bit was that Cristian took a date to an expensive restaurant and they were given male & female menus. The Lady’s menu lacked any prices. I guess in 1938, it was assumed in all the swanky places that the man was paying. An entertaining read!

The Narration:  Daniel Gerroll was a very good pick for the voice of Cristian – light European accent, very cultured. He did have an interesting pronunciation of the Spanish word ‘abuela’ which means grandmother. Here in the desert Southwest, it is a 2 3 syllable word and Gerroll gave it 3 4 syllables. Perhaps that is high aristocratic Spanish instead of the Americanized Hispanic Spanish I know. Anyway, it was a small thing. All his voices were distinct and he did a good job with the female voices. I enjoyed his Greek accent and the few Yddish words he had to do.

What I Liked:  Educational and entertaining; Cristian is an interesting character that I connected to; a few love scenes; Furst captured the feel of uncertainty that 1938 must have held for so many Europeans; the narration was very good.

What I Disliked:  The cover doesn’t really portray the spy aspect of the story so if I just looked at the cover, I would pass it by as a romance; the ladies have no impact on the plot.

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Words and Peace

FaceOff edited by David Baldacci

Waffles and her nightly grooming.

Waffles and her nightly grooming.

Why I Read It: I thought this would be a great way to check out several mystery/crime/suspense/thriller authors.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy crime in its many faces.

Narrators: Dylan Baker, Jeremy Bobb, Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Gerroll, January LaVoy, David Baldacci

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 10 hours 49 minutes

Editor’s Page

Authors who contributed to this anthology: Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, Dennis Lehane, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, James Rollins, Joseph Finder, Steve Martini, Heather Graham, Ian Rankin, Linda Fairstein, M. J. Rose, R.L. Stine, Raymond Khoury, Linwood Barclay, John Lescroart, T. Jefferson Parker, F. Paul Wilson, Peter James

This anthology contains 11 short stories, each one written by a pairing of authors, allowing characters from beloved series and standalones to be paired with another author’s famous character. Sometimes these characters worked together. Sometimes they were at cross purposes. Nearly always, it s was purely entertaining. Below is a list of the stories, the main characters, and the authors.
· Patrick Kenzie vs. Harry Bosch in “Red Eye,” by Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly
· John Rebus vs. Roy Grace in “In the Nick of Time,” by Ian Rankin and Peter James
· Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Aloysius Pendergast in “Gaslighted,” by R.L. Stine, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child
· Malachai Samuels vs. D.D. Warren in “The Laughing Buddha,” by M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner
· Paul Madriani vs. Alexandra Cooper in “Surfing the Panther,” by Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein
· Lincoln Rhyme vs. Lucas Davenport in “Rhymes With Prey,” by Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford
· Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack in “Infernal Night,” by Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson
· Sean Reilly vs. Glen Garber in “Pit Stop,” by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay
· Wyatt Hunt vs. Joe Trona in “Silent Hunt,” by John Lescroart and T. Jefferson Parker
· Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce in “The Devil’s Bones,” by Steve Berry and James Rollins
· Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller in “Good and Valuable Consideration,” by Lee Child and Joseph Finder

A few of these authors I have read before (Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child) but nearly all of them were new to me. This was a great way to check out such a selection of today’s brilliant mystery writers. Of course, I gravitated towards the Pendergast story as I have read a few in this series. I did find Slappy the Dummy rather disturbing, as I found the story on the whole. ‘Rhymes with Prey’ was my second favorite, featuring the paraplegic investigator and his clipped phrases and abrupt, sometimes rude, attitude. ‘The Laughing Buddha’ was an unexpected story. The character Malachai Samuels is a kind of past life psychic, helping people realize who they once were and what their hang ups are from past lives. At first I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, but now I want to check out both M. J. Rose and Lisa Gardner.  I aso want to seek out works by Heather Graham after listening to ‘Infernal Night’. Just a touch of the supernatural gave this mystery an extra facet. Plus that whole mausoleum scene was excellent. Khoury & Barclay kept me on the edge of my seat with ‘Pit Stop’. It was fast paced and intense!

Those were the stories that stood out for me. Many of the rest were interesting. However, ‘Surfing the Panther’ didn’t shine for me. I felt like too much was being crammed into a short story and I never really connected to the main characters. I was looking forward to the Reacher versus Heller story as my man is a fan of Lee Child’s work. I was intrigued and then it was over. Yep, just like that. It went by too quickly.

Other than those two stories, the anthology was a hit. I now have several more authors on my To-Be-Read list (or some would call it a small mountain range). I was kept entertained for most of the 10+ hours of listening time.

Narration: The narration was very good. With 11 stories, it was great that the publisher went the extra mile and utilized so many narrators. One of the reasons I usually steer clear of audio anthologies is that it is the same reader for the entire book, all the short stories. This makes it difficult for me to keep the individual stories individual. So thank you, S&S, for going the distance and using so many narrators for this book. It really made it stand out as an anthology.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: Great way to be be introduced to new-to-me authors; Some were creepy, others edge-of-the-seat action; nearly all were interesting; great narration.

What I Disliked: Only 1 of the stories didn’t do it for; one other story seemed too short and nothing much happened in it.

I am participating in the yearly reading event R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. I will count 2103 Act I as my mystery/crime read for the R.I.P. challenge.

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