Bookish Giveaway & Review: Greatshadow by James Maxey

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway! 

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.

WebsiteBlogGoodreadsAmazon
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.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterSoundCloud

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

Aug. 20th:
Seitenwinde
Reading for the Stars and Moon

Aug. 21st:
Dab of Darkness

Aug. 22nd:
Shh I Am Reading
CGB Blog Tours

Aug. 23rd:
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Adventures Thru Wonderland

Aug. 24th:
terriluvsbooks
Jazzy Book Reviews

Aug. 25th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Lomeraniel
The Page Unbound

Aug. 26th:
WTF Are You Reading?
My World in Words and Pages
Book Lover’s Life
Elsie’s Audiobook Digest

➜Sign up as a host here

 

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

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

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.

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.
WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest
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

Aug. 13th:
History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

Aug. 14th:
A Lovelorn Virgo
2 Girls and A Book
Tara’s Book Addiction

Aug. 15th:
Dab of Darkness
Joy of Bookworms
Canadian Book Addict

Aug. 16th:
CGB Blog Tours
A Book and A Latte
Macarons and Paperbacks
Lilly’s Book World

Aug. 17th:
To Read Or Not To Read
Jorie Loves A Story
Reading for the Stars and Moon
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Haddie’s Haven

Aug. 18th:
The Maiden’s Court
The Book Slayer
Jorie Loves A Story
Hall Ways

Aug. 19th:
Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Lomeraniel
Life As Freya
Bound 4 Escape
WTF Are You Reading?

➜Sign up as a host here

 

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Vacation by J. C. Miller

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

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.

 

 

⚡️Show your support for the Vacation audiobook by joining the Thunderclap campaign!⚡️

 

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.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter
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.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterSoundCloudGoodreads

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

Aug. 13th:
Lomeraniel
CGB Blog Tours

Aug. 14th:
Buried Under Books
Dab of Darkness

Aug. 15th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

Aug. 16th:
Between the Coverz
WTF Are You Reading?
The Literary Apothecary

Aug. 17th:
The Bookworm Lodge

Aug. 18th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Bean’s Bookshelf and Coffee Break

Aug. 19th:
Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

➜Sign up as a host here

 

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.
WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest
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?

➜Sign up as a host here

 

Aranya by Marc Secchia

Narrator: Shiromi Arserio

Publisher: Marc Secchia (2015)

Length: 14 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shapeshifter Dragons

Author’s Page

Aranya, princess of the island kingdom of Immadia, is given up as hostage to the invading Sylakian Empire. Chained aboard a Sylakian dragonship (dirigible), she manages to save the commanding officer, a Warhammer, from a windroc. She has a bit of freedom once imprisoned with all the other hostages of subjugated nations but that doesn’t prevent the hostages from forming cliques and taunting one another. Matters get out of hand and Aranya is sentenced to die. She is shackled to a stone and tossed off a high escarpment. That’s when her life changes forever as she shapeshifts into a dragon. This might just be the turning point in the war with Sylakia.

There’s much to be enjoyed in this book. I liked Aranya as a character even though she didn’t wow me. She’s not perfect but she has a good heart. She has her strengths and weaknesses but she also has some good companions to help her along the way. My one quibble would be that she’s a little too good, only having minor flaws. She was rather bland and this made her a little boring.

Meanwhile, her best friend and dragonrider is Zip (short for Zuziana), another princess hostage. They don’t start off as friends but they eventually find merit in each other and bond over shared experiences. Zip has a mouth on her short frame and isn’t afraid to use it, like her archery skills.

The plot was in two pieces for me. In fact, it felt like this was two books pressed into one. First, Aranya must discover who and what she is. That whole bit about being tossed off a cliff that’s mentioned in the book’s description doesn’t happen until several hours into the book. The second half of the book is Aranya and Zip running some guerrilla tactics on the Sylakian air navy and eventually having a really big battle to determine the fate of the island kingdoms.

Let’s talk a little about the male characters. Mostly, they are either there for comfort (like Aranya’s dad) or are of a romantic interest (like Yolathian and the formerly nameless monk). Occasionally they get to do stuff and have a few meaningful lines. That said, most of their plot-related actions happen off the page and the reader only hears about it after the fact. It is both refreshing and odd to have a book that wouldn’t pass a reverse-Bechdel test.

Nak and Odya, an older couple who have experience with both natural dragons and dragon shapeshifters, get to play teachers and stand-in grandparents to Aranya. Sometimes this was very sweet and sometimes Nak was outright creepy with all his lecherous comments to and about Aranya and later Zip. Odya and Nak know something about Aranya’s parentage but are reluctant to give up all their secrets. Aranya’s mom is something of a mystery throughout the book and that’s one of the things I liked.

There’s also warrior pygmies on some of the isles and Zip and Aranya have to trade with them. Then there’s the dragonets, which are small dragons with limited intelligence and speech. This last bit really reminded me of some of Anne McCaffrey’s books. As a biologist, I got a kick out of the info about dragon anatomy – 3 hearts, 7 stomachs, etc. After so many mentions about dragon digestion I did start to wonder about dragon poo. For a good chunk of the book, Aryana in dragon form is being tracked by the Sylakians and spoor is a useful find when tracking anything. Alas, no dragon dung.

As the story goes on, Aryana’s powers grow. At first, this seemed natural and I was interested. Later on though, she has so many powers that she’s getting close to be invincible and I found this a bit boring. I like my heroes to have limited abilities and therefore, they sometimes have to rely either on others or on their wits to get them out of a jam.

All told, it’s a good solid start to an epic dragon fantasy series. The two main characters are pretty interesting and the world they inhabit has a lot left to explore.

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

The Narration: Shiromi Arserio makes a really good Aranya, both princess and dragon. I enjoyed the quick banter between Aranya and Zip throughout the book. For the most part, she usually had distinct character voices but sometimes there were a few conversations where the distinctions became muddled. The male character voices really needed some masculinity. She was great at imbuing characters with the correct emotions. 

What I Liked: A world made up of islands; natural dragons and dragon shapeshifters; Zip and Aranya make a great team; pygmies; little dragons; dirigibles; Odya playing grandmother.

What I Disliked: Could use some gender balancing; Nak is creepy; Aranya’s power grow so numerous and powerful during the book that she becoems a little boring; male characters don’t sound particularly masculine.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

Bookish Giveaway & Interview: Marc Secchia, Author of the Shapeshifter Dragons Series

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author Marc Secchia. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons Book 1 which follows the dragonish adventures of Aranya and her friends.

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

Snape – well, he’s not so much a villain, but he is a beautifully conflicted character who I found myself rooting for almost despite my instincts. Very well-written indeed.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

African fiction. I believe this is one of the most underrepresented fields of literary endeavour and I’d love to see powerful African voices taking their place on the world stage.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d choose a dragon. They are Fantasy’s finest and most magical creatures and they’d undoubtedly possess the skills and magic to pull off a crazy rescue.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Definitely The Lord of the Rings. It’s the classic fantasy tale of the insidious, corrupting power of evil and the courage of those who choose to stand against it. Peter Jackson did an awesome job of bringing the tale to the big screen, but I still love the rhythm, detail and power of the original text. I’d love to dive into that world afresh because it’s just incredibly immersive and every detail is thought out.

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

There are so many terrific books out there that would make amazing movies, it’s hard to choose. Let me throw out a classic author’s name here – Anne McCaffrey. I think it’s a travesty her works have never made it to screen, although some of the mores are a bit dated I think this series would still resonate with so many people, not just Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. I’d play Robinton, the Master Harper of Pern.

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

Let’s see … Dumbledore since we’re having a smallish Potteresque vibe here, Aladdin if he doesn’t come in his canned-and-potted Disney guise, since he’d have plenty of fun tales to tell, and it’s weird I know but I think Mulan just kicks it in her world and time. Two more (scratches chin) … Killashandra from one of my favourite books of all time, the Crystal Singer omnibus by Anne McCaffrey, and Aragorn from LOTR. Maybe I’d throw in a dragon just to liven things up. Toothless is awesome but not much of a conversationalist. He’d just have to make funny faces.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live and work in Ethiopia so that’s a little different to most. I love to play music – I play a range of woodwinds such as flute, panflute and Irish whistle – and when I’ve a quiet evening I love nothing more than a relax with an epic book.

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

Ha ha, it’s really boring, but it’s one of those “learn-to-read” books about Kathy and Mark I think. After that must come Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and then I had a Hardy Boys binge before graduating to older books.

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

Well, I’ve a sale coming up on 15th/16th August when I’m going to take a run at getting one of my books into the Top 10 free books on all Amazon. If you’d like to sample my work, Aranya will be free on the 15th and it is a bestseller in Coming of Age fantasy. http://smarturl.it/draconic

Secondly, I’m really excited about the release of Dragonstar on August 16th. It’s the 4th book in my Dragonfriend series and the culmination of the series. http://smarturl.it/dragonstar

I think you’ll love the cover art for this series – do check it out, thanks!

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

About Author Marc Secchia:

Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.

He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year – watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards. Look out for Whisper Alive, his latest release. The 4th tale in the Dragonfriend series, Dragonstar, is coming soon!

When he’s not writing about Africa or dragons Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there’s nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Aranya:

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom – the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Series Note

There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons – or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Shiromi Arserio:

A native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ SoundCloud ~ IMDB

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 16th, 2017.

Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey

Narrator: Jefferson Mays

Publisher: Recorded Books (2012)

Length: 19 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Expanse

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in the series and really should be enjoyed after having read Book 1.

Several months have passed since the events of Leviathan Wakes. Holden and crew are now working for Fred, basically being his enforcers in their sleek Martian ship the Rocinante. In fact, they’ve become rather humdrum about having to deal with space pirates. The ship’s broken coffee maker is a bigger nuisance than space pirates! But then something horrible happens on Ganymede, the bread basket for the Belters and stations. Holden and his crew are drawn into some protomolecule nastiness and they might not survive as a whole.

Book 1 was really good and Book 2 surpasses that. There are so many great points about this book. First, my only complaint from Book 1 has been addressed. We have more female characters and they affect the plot! Yay! Chrisjen Avasarala is a cross between a Spy Master and a top-notch politician. She’s got her reasons for going after the goals she sets and she’s got a harsh mouth. I loved her commentary. Then’s there’s Bobbie, a Mech Warrior with the Mars Military. She’s a very large Polynesian woman, all muscle with a good balance of brains and skills. Naomi didn’t shine as brightly for me in this book, but I didn’t agree with all her choices. That’s OK; I don’t have to agree with all the heroes to enjoy the book.

Amos got some depth on him and there were several great scenes with him. That canned chicken scene still stands out. Amos likes to fight but he also uses his violence as a tool. He’s not just some angry brawler. We still haven’t gotten much on Alex but he did get some good jokes now that there’s another Martian for him to joke around with. Jim Holden is still the central character and I enjoyed they various scenarios he’s put in that make him question his ethics.

So let’s talk about that protomolecule that everyone thought was safely locked up and in Fred’s custody. Well, somehow somewhere someone got their hands on some and started doing experiments with it. Now Ganymede is another goo zone. Prax, a botanist living on Ganymede before the incident, is desperately searching for his daughter. The crew of the Roci get pulled into this affair and Prax temporarily becomes both part of the crew and a paying customer.

There were so many moments in this book where I thought for sure we’re going to lose this character or that one or a planet or a spaceship. Mobile protomolecule monsters! Plenty of political intrigue. One man very determined to make life tough for everyone. The hunt for Prax’s kid, Mei.

The ending held some surprises. It closed out the big events for this book but set us up for the next one. There’s a character that’s back which I didn’t expect. Also, there’s big stuff happening on Venus and it looks like humanity will finally have to do something about it.

The Narration: Jefferson Mays continues to do a really great job with this series. I love his accents for Avasarala (Indian) and Alex (Texan). His female voices sound like ladies. He’s able to keep all the characters distinct and he pulls off the big and nuanced emotions alike.

What I Liked: Holden and his crew are more cohesive; space pirates!; mobile protomolecule monsters!; the hunt for Mei; Avasarala’s potty mouth; Bobbie’s skills; the ending wraps up some things while setting us up for more; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a lot of fun!

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

SFF World

Geekritique

The Book Smugglers

Beer Rants & Books

Obsessive Book Nerd

Elitist Book Reviews

Adventures in ScFi Publishing

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

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do when you are not writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Author James W. George:

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

Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of My Father’s Kingdom:

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

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

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

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

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Angus Freathy:

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

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

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

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

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

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

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

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

My Father’s Kingdom by James W. George

Narrator: Angus Freathy

Publisher: James W. George (2017)

Length: 6 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 King Philip’s War

Author’s Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.