Guest Post: Dinner Guests by Henry Herz

HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesHello everyone, please welcome Henry Herz to the blog today. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Henry in the past as well as reading his wonderful children’s book Nimpentoad. He was also the editro for a great anthology, Beyond the Pale. We’re celebrating the release of his latest children’s book, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Without further ado, enjoy the guest post!

Dinner Guests by Henry Herz

When I interview authors on my blog, I often ask them, “If you could have any authors over for dinner, who would you choose?” With the pending release of my debut picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, I find myself thinking a lot about fantasy and mythological creatures. And which fantasy characters would I like to have over for dinner.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES includes a hydra, which could be viewed as a multi-headed wingless dragon. And when I think dragons, I think Pern, Earthsea, and Game of Thrones. So, my first guest would be Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. An excellent choice, no? She’s beautiful, brave, and compassionate. She’s been robbed of the throne, but she’s not whiney about it. She can eat raw horse heart without complaint, so my cooking is probably safe for her. But, her dragons would probably wreck my furniture, and formally introducing her to the other guests would mean we wouldn’t start eating until midnight.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES features a dwarf, and that’s just the right character to keep those pesky dragons in check. While Gimli is well-known, I have to go with The Hobbit’s Dáin II Ironfoot. He earned renown as a young dwarf by slaying the Orc chieftain Azog at the Battle of Azanulbizar. Like his kindred, the Lord of the Iron Hills is tough and battle-hardened. But unlike some dwarves of Middle Earth, Dáin has wisdom. He knew that even though the goblins were defeated, it was not yet time for the dwarves to reoccupy their ancient home of Khazad-dûm. After the Battle of Five Armies, he rules the Lonely Mountain with the good sense to keep on good terms with the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Dale. But, he’d probably drink all my ale.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES also features a witch, an ettin, sprites, a werewolf, and a minotaur. And since the witch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a false one, I will instead invite Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Châtelaine of Cair Paravel, and Empress of the Lone Islands. What is it with the ladies and long names? You may recall her by the more convenient title of White Witch, played so deliciously by Tilda Swinton in the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The seven-foot tall sorceress could teach a class on being cold and goal-oriented. She uttered the Deplorable Word in order to vanquish her sister, even though that eradicated all life in the world of Charn. She subsequently sends Narnia into a deep freeze, although that skill could turn out quite handy keeping my ale chilled (at least until Dáin drinks it all). Jadis is tall. She’s immensely strong. She’s petrifying. And I mean that both figuratively and literally. And Jadis has minotaurs, ettins, werewolves, sprites, and other assorted minions. But, she’d probably eat the Turkish Delight I prepared for dessert.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES briefly mentions an elf. The Lord of the Rings offers us many elves, but none more tragic than Fëanor. Here’s a guy born with a mithril spoon in his mouth. He’s immortal, his dad is High King of the Noldor elves, and Fëanor lives in Valinor, which is THE primo real estate in Arda. He is the most gifted gemsmith to ever live. He crafted the palantíri, and he captured in the three infinitely valuable Silmarils the light of Laurelin and Telperion, the two trees that illuminate the world. When Morgoth kills the two trees, Fëanor is told he can restore them by giving up the Silmarils. But his pride, anger, and hatred prevent him from doing so. Morgoth steals the Silmarils, and Fëanor convinces many Noldor to pursue Morgoth to Middle Earth, even killing on three separate occasions fellow elves that won’t do their bidding. Though Fëanor and countless elves die in the attempt, they fail to finally recover the Silmarils. What a douche.

Hmmm. Upon further consideration, maybe I should just have some authors over for dinner…

Learn more about MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES at http://www.birchtreepub.com/mgnr.htm

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A Memory of Light, Part II

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week,  Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host this week. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments at Sue’s. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Pevara and Androl have done some mutual Bonding, which seems to have created a rather uniquely intimate link between the two. Do you think that the other Aes Sedai /Asha’man pairs could create something similar, or do we have an example of mushy, romantic specialness in this case? Have you been surprised by the Red’s ability to work with male Channelers, or do you think that she is unusual for her Ajah?

I expect that other Aes Sedai/Asha’men bonds will happen – perhaps not in this book, but after the big battle is won and folks have a chance to get back to normal lives.

I think there are other Reds like Pevara that will be able to overcome their squeamishness towards male Channelers, if for no other reason than they don’t want to look weak and silly in front of other Aes Sedai.

I have to say that when Pevara had her little panic attack and Bonded Androl, without his permission, I wanted to slap her. Aes Sedai are such bullies. I did cheer a little when Androl turned around and Bonded her so that she could experience it first hand. I think this is nearly the only way the Aes Sedai can learn.

2) I was beginning to worry that Aviendha’s quadruplets would need to be the product of some sort of bizarre ‘virgin’ birth scenario, but now there is at least a biological chance that they could be created in the normal way! Yay! Do you really think that it was necessary for her to use sexytimes as a way to persuade Rand to grant her a boon? Were you disappointed or relieved not to have more details of what was obviously a rather extended night of baby-making?

I expect that Elayne will become injured in some fashion, perhaps end up in a coma, and Aviendha will have to raise her kids along with Elayne’s.

No, I think Rand would have granted her a boon just for getting a look at her tits. Though I am sure he is grateful for the sexytimes. Plus, the three ladies had to gather and discuss how they were going to handle Rand. I wonder what Min and Elayne did to distract themselves from the night of bedroom gymnastics they surely sensed through the bond.

Well, I think you all know me by now. I like the sexytimes to be as descriptive as the rest of the book, so, yeah, I would have enjoyed seeing how Aveidnah (who is super athletic) put Rand through his paces.

3) Apparently, being Turned to the Dark Side does not improve your intellect very much. Do you think that we will ever see a truly intelligent Darkfriend? Did the sequence with Dobser make you more hopeful of Androl and his party surviving against Taim’s attack?

No, I don’t think we will ever have a truly intelligent Darkfriend or Forsaken…. well, not one that can work with others. Cyndane/Lanfear has some cunning to her, but she despises everyone and has difficulty playing nice on Team Dark One.

Yes, I expect that Androl and Pevara will do some major ass kicking before this book is through and one of those asses may very well be Taim. Up until this week’s reading, I had expected that Logain (maybe with Rand’s help) would be the one to take out Taim. But now I suspect that Androl and Pevara will take out Taim, perhaps with Logain’s help (though he is merely a bit of a drool monkey right now due to his long imprisonment and ill treatment).

4) Rand is beginning to manifest some startling new powers and can now manipulate the Dream more successfully than Moridin. Do you think this will cause the Nae’blis to alter his plans and be more aggressive in his pursuit of Rand? It seems that Lanfear is managing to somehow slip away from his control via the mindtrap: or was that all staged for Rand’s benefit?

I think Rand’s new abilities within the Dream will irritate Moridin and while making him more aggressive, it will also make him more careless. Basically, I don’t think Rand is in increased danger on account of this.

I think Lanfear is indeed managing to escape Moridin’s complete control and this will also make him more aggressive and more careless. I don’t think he is cautious enough to have staged the whole Lanfear crying for help thing. Plus, Lanfear is not really a team player (and there are suspicions she was giving Slayer/Luc/Issam orders to kill Rand, which is in direct contradiction to Moridin’s orders).

5) And, yay verily, there will be much politicking and arguing and then Moiraine will appear and quote the Prophecy, thus creating peace and harmony amongst the leaders of the World. Did anyone else expect her to wink at Perrin in a conspiratorial way as she walked past him? Do you think that the new and improved Dragon’s Peace will hold and also stop the future we saw in Aviendha’s visions? Who do you think Rand expected Roedran to be?

So much to say here! First, I don’t know why Rand suspected Roedran. I expect that is something I will pick up on a reread.

1) Egwene almost cost the world not only peace, but existence with her inflated sense of importance. I am so glad Moiraine pointed it out (and in such a way that Egwene could swallow it).

2) Yes, Moiraine is extra awesome, and I definitely could see her and Perrin trading nudges and winks back and forth. They were the two even-headed ones on scene.

3) Aviendha was right to demand the Aiel be included in the Peace and Perrin was great to point out that they needed a job. The Aiel can not meet toh nor generate honor unless they have a task before them, be it small or large.

4) I think rand left out some folks and that may or may not cause issues later – like the Dark Tower and the Traveling Folk (though since they follow the Way of the Leaf, it may not be such a big deal for them). Perhaps even the Ogier should be allowed to sign the Peace and guarantee their rights in this new United Nations of Randland. And the newly risen Malkier, will they sign?

5) Here is my biggest criticism of the Peace – Elayne will lead the armies! At first, I thought it was a joke or some sort of subterfuge by Rand. But, nope, he meant it. Sigh….OK, Elayne is an entertaining character and she has her moments. But she is entertaining because she keeps messing up and she has her shining moments because she has dug herself into yet another trap. The entire series, she has walked into one trap or another, acted on impulse and feelings instead of logic. In fact, just last book (like 300 pages ago) she was threatening to execute Perrin. So I am guessing that this is a plot point that Sanderson was committed to via Jordan and he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to make Elayne look competent. But I also expect that Elayne will be competent the rest of the book and this will be a huge character change for her with little reason/time to make it happen. I expect this point will continue to bother me. Some people believe that beauty = competence. Alas, that is not one of the magical qualities of this world.

You know who would make a good leader of the united armies? Someone who has a lifetime of training and experience? Someone who’s culture and training allows them to absorb new tactics and use them immediately? Someone who has Channelers and flying beasts to sends swift messages? Tuon/Fortunata, Empress of the Seanchan. So, I am quite surprised that Rand didn’t try to bring them into the fold by offering the Seanchan this chance to prove that they are worthy leaders to the folks of Randland.

6) Great Trees and a singing Ogier army, then Gateways bringing aid to Lan’s final charge. Discuss, with specific dimensions for the size of your grin and/or the number of tears shed! :D

This was pretty fricking awesome. I really enjoyed the whole scene of Lan’s final charge. He rallied the men, but didn’t lie to them about their odds. He had Nynaeve in his thoughts (but somehow couldn’t sense her exuberation at finding out Rand meant to go to his aid). The charge beginning and then suddenly being joined by 4,000 extra men. Then another gateway, and another, and another. Yes, that was great. I had dramatic theme music rolling in my head for the entire scene.

It was nice to see Loial and his mum too.

7) Mat is off in Ebou Dar doing something mysterious. Can we hope that he is trying to talk some sense into Tuon? Will he accept the Horn from Faile or run away screaming?

So Perrin knows that Mat is married to the Seanchan empress, right? Has he mentioned that to anyone? that could be a very important and useful piece of intel right now. I expect Mat is either trying to get some sexytimes with his wife (and he needs some after the Tower of Ghenjei) or arguing with her about how slavery is basically evil and she really needs to saddle up and ride with the White Hats on this one.

I think Mat will accept the Horn readily enough. He might not like it, but he already knows the necessity of it. I expect grumbling and perhaps a badger to mysteriously appear in Elayne’s sleeping quarters at some point (for ordering Mat to blow the Horn).

Other Tidbits:

Aviendha sneaking into Elayne’s tent was awesome! And she was just trying not to be a bother to the guards. But this also has me worried about the capability of the evil Aiel and the inability of Elayne’s guards and scouts to detect them.

Rand comes up with the first shower this Age has seen! Hooray! Maybe Aviendha will tell Elayne and Elayne will commission some castle engineers to make it possible for the royalty. And in perhaps 200 years, the middle class will have showers. Then all will smell better.

Androl! Gosh, this late-to-the-party side character is turning out to be pretty interesting. I could definitely enjoy a book (or trilogy) just about Androl and his adventures prior to the Dark Tower.

(Ooops! I read a chapter too far and this little comment is actually from Chapter 8). Elayne finally announces who the father of her twins is (though Bashere had to show her the logic in it). It was overdue and I am glad that whole Evil Mellar Daddy rumor can be put to bed for good.

I did like that Elayne was direct with Aiel, making it clear that they simply couldn’t run off and do their own thing, no matter how competent they believed themselves to be.

 

Jack Templar, Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus

GunhusJackTemplarMonsterHunterWhere I Got It: Review copy provided by Ebooks For Review (thanks!)

Publisher: Seven Guns Press (2012)

Length: 197 pages

Series: Book 1 The Templar Chronicles

Author’s Page

Jack Smith, who will be 14 tomorrow, is headed off to school for another boring, mundane day. Or perhaps not. He’s feeling stronger, faster, more agile than ever before. And strange things keep happening – like the creepy dude of pale skin on the way to school who wished him an early happy birthday. Then there was challenging the school bully while protecting his friend, and winning. But things got really weird with the principle, who seems to be more monster than school matron. Pretty soon, Jack is caught up in battling monsters left and right, his aunt is more than she seems, and the Monster Hunters (a secret society) need Jack because he may be the ‘One’.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read filled with plenty of action and monsters out of myths and legends. While it has a definite Young Adult genre feel to it, we also had some darker issues in the background which gave it a touch of seriousness that pulled it all together for me. Jack is a fun kid who has a secret identity that even he isn’t aware of at the start of the story. He has a crush on a girl at school, but is too shy to do anything about it. He has 2 friends in the school who are both outcasts (each for different reasons). And his parents died when he was kid, leaving him to be raised by his Aunt Sophie (who has secrets of her own).

Then in steps Eva and she is an awesome one-handed (the other being whatever weapon she needs at the time that can screw on to her stump cover) Monster Hunter. She shows up and starts explaining the rules of the whole Creach society (the monsters – creatures) and what the Black Guard (Monster Hunters) are all about. However, she keeps getting interrupted by this flow of monsters who want Jack either dead or captured. This creates a great pacing of the story, where we get these little tidbits of background in between action scenes. No big info dumps here!

But if you are concerned that this is just one big monster slayer fest, don’t worry! Some of these ‘monsters’ have more going on for them. Of course, this leads to grief and consternation for some of the Monster Hunters. That was quite OK with me, as it added another layer to the story and left plenty for the author to explore in future installments of the series.

The book does break the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader several times through out the tale. Mostly, this is Jack telling us (the readers) to beware! Horrid monsters will hunt us if we read this book! While I didn’t exactly dislike these sections, I felt that they were so much younger than the tale itself and the break in narration always took me out of the story. I think I would have preferred to just let the story speak for itself.

What I Liked:  The cover art; Jack is easy to get attached to; monsters galore!; not all the characters (including the monsters) are what they seem at first glance; loyalty of friends; Jack’s secret past.

What I Disliked:  The narration breaks at several points so that Jack can speak directly to the readers, and this kept taking out of the story when I just wanted to stay in the story.

 

What Others Think:

Mother, Daughter, & Son Book Reviews

The Solitary Bookworm

Mission Viejo Library Teen Voice

Eric Buffington

My Love for Reading Keeps Growing

Bound 4 Escape

The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbit

NesbitTheBookOfBeastsWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Audiobooks by Mike Vendetti (2014)

Length: 30 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

A child king (Lionel) finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too!

This was a great story for kids and fun for adults too. The very young Lionel knows he is king, but also knows he must answer to his nurse for any bad behavior. He will be sent to bed without supper if he misbehaves. This was a great point about the story because, while the king supposedly had great control over his kingdom and people, he also had to face the consequences of poor choices.

The story starts off with some harmful ‘beasts’ that are really quite pretty to look at and enjoy. So at first, the consequences of messing around with this magical Book of Beasts is not readily apparent. But as the story continues, we find our young hero king in a world of trouble! I think this is great fun for both kids and adults and would be fine entertainment for a car ride.

Narration:  Karen Krause did a great job having the perfect little boy voice for the child king. She also had a stern, yet amusing, voice for the king’s nurse.

What I Liked:  The cover art; giant butterfly!; there’s a dragon involved; subtle point about consequences to actions/choices but not preachy at all.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this is a great short story!

VintageScifiBadgeI’m taking part in Vintage SciFi Month over at The Little Red Reviewer. Fantasy is allowed too! This book was originally published in 1900 as part of a collection called The Book of Dragons. Anyone can join, so feel free to check it out!

What Others Think:

Weekend Notes

Mr. Grimm by Drew Avera

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

Narrator: Al Kessel

Publisher: Drew Alexander Avera (2014)

Length: 1 hour 24 minutes

Series: The Twin Cities Series; Apparently, The Twin Cities Series has several contributing authors. You can catch all the latest info at The Twin Cities Series blog. And here is a listing of the series by all the different authors on Amazon.

Author’s Page

Mr. Alexander Grimm is in servitude. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul) is a special place, concealing a door into The Realms. This is not good for humans as The Realms contain things of myths and legends such as vampires and demons. Mr. Grimm serves The Raven, who rules over The Realms with an iron fist. But several factions with The Realms would like to see a change in leadership. Mr. Grimm may be the key to that change.

This was a dark urban fantasy that was treat to listen to. Avera has created a noir world, albeit much of it behind the scenes. It’s gritty and dangerous, with things waiting the shadows. I loved the mystery to the story, the hint of deeper secrets to be told in forthcoming installments. Mr. Grimm is a deeply conflicted character. He’s in servitude to a vampire (that he hates) and yet he is pretty darn good at carrying out his job – taking out anyone The Raven points his finger at. He has a daughter he must protect at all costs and as the years go by, that cost becomes steeper and steeper.

I only have one quibble. There was a leap in time in the storyline and it had me slightly confused for a bit. During the first part of the story, Mr. Grimm is a family man, but then we move forward a decade or so. Perhaps the first part of the story was flashback for Mr. Grimm? I’m still not sure. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The secret world that Mr. Grimm moves through was intriguing and I look forward to listening to future installments of this series.

Narration: Al Kessel did a great job. He was a good voice for Mr. Grimm. He also did a few accents competently and had distinct male and female voices. His French vampire is entirely creepy, in a sophisticated way.

What I Liked: Dark, noir feel to the story; plenty of mystery left to explore; intriguing characters all over the place; Mr. Grimm is left in an impossible position.

AveraMr.GrimmAudiobookWhat I Disliked: I didn’t like the cover for the audiobook (seen here are the right), so I used the ebook cover for this review; there is one time leap in the storyline that caused some little confusion.

A Memory of Light, Part I

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is out host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments at Liesel’s. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has fine intellect and a wicked sense of humor.

This week, we covered the Prologue through the end of Chapter 1. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. We get a terribly interesting chapter from Isam’s POV in the Town below Thakandar. So many things we could talk about here, including the pointy-toothed Aiel. What stood out to you? What did you think? What do you want to know more about?

There’s a lot going on here. First, I enjoyed getting this little insight into Isam/Luc/Slayer. When he saw the scruffy child across the street, his thoughts about urging him/her to try crossing the desert, that it is better to die than growing up in the Town, were fascinating. It seems Isam grew up in this creepy Town. That explains a lot about his inability to make friends.

Next, there was a caravan (or large wagon) that came in with 13 aes sedai. Isam concluded the ladies had trapped another male Channeler, but he wondered why since the Taint had been cleansed. Now I wonder too.

2. Talmanes becomes a freaking hero in his own right. Will Nynaeve’s healing be enough to save him? What did you think of his antics against the trollocs in Camelyn?

Talmanes is my hero!

I really want him to live but I fear he may have been living with the Red Shirt far too long. Nynaeve is a great healer, but she may only be able to put off the inevitable. Plus, there is this whole Last Battle thing. So, even if Talmanes is now healed, he has to go fight the big battle. He has learned that the best way to take out Myrrdraal is to be dead yourself. This kind of thinking could save thousands, but at the cost of the hero.

I LOVED how Talmanes ‘recruited’ the mercenaries and got them to fight the Trollocs.

3. Leilwin offers her services to Egwene. What do you think will come of this? Will Egwene be accepting of a Seanchan servant?

Well, we got a chunk of Leilwin’s thoughts. She is Seanchan in blood and she is desperately worried that the whole empire will collapse if/when the truth of the Channelers is finally realized. So she is offering to serve the Amyrlin Seat to either 1) show the Seanchan that there is another way and so the nobility doesn’t have to go all suicidal; or 2) she plans to assassinate Egwene to forestall the fall of the Seanchan empire.

Egwene will be stubborn and distrustful at first but, yes, she will accept Leilwin into her service.

4. Bair goes to Rhuidean after hearing Aviendha’s account. Do you think she’ll see what Aviendha saw, or something different? Do you think she was wise to send herself?

I think she will see something similar. I get the impression that each person sees similar things, but not the exact same images. Or perhaps each person can only retain so much of what they are shown, so individual recollections would vary a bit.

Yes, I think Bair is a good choice. She is not as reactionary as some of the Wise Women. Also, she is the one who can walk Tel’Aran’Rhiod but isn’t a Channeler, right? So she has skill and power without relying on Saidin.

5. Evil Mofo Meeting! Taim is raised to the level of Chosen and Moghedien is commanded to “help” Demandred. What disasters do you see arising from these decisions, if any.

So way back in like Book 4 or 5, whenever we first start getting Asha’men, we had a discussion question about them and I couldn’t recall names. So I stupidly went to the WoT Wiki to look up Asha’men names. Under Taim, the sentence about him being raised to Chosen by the Forsaken was like the first sentence. Ack! Big fat spoiler slapped right across my face like 10 books before it actually happens! Ugh!

Now that I have that off my chest, on to the question.

So Taim, Demondred, and The Dark One all want to be THE one to kill Rand. I don;t think any of these guys are team players, so I expect there to be a lot of wrangling for power on the Baddie side. In fact, Demondred and Taim may even decide to kill one another off. All this could be good for the good side, but it also means there are 3 Baddies dedicated to killing Rand. Oh, and Isam has explicit orders from a female Forsaken to kill Rand too. Maybe Isam will take out Demondred? Could be amusing.

6. What do you think of Egwene’s argument about when to break the Seals? Is she right?

Egwene has just won her seat and it was a long hard battle. Of course she wants to be cautious and if the world had even 6 months, I would say, sure, call an assembly of world leaders and argue it out for 3 or 4 months about whether or not to break the seals. But, alas, the world doesn’t have 6 months. Perhaps someone could show Egwene a calendar?

I liked Rand’s chat with Perrin about forging metal. He’s right. This has to be done. It’s going to suck, but it will suck more the longer they wait. So Egwene needs to get her Big girl Panties on, and perhaps some sensible boots instead of slippers, and get ready to kick ass.

7. Rand says it is the last night of peace they will know before the end, and on the morrow he will meet with every leader of the known world to forge an alliance. Predictions?

In Aviendha’s Ruidean visions, the Dragon Reborn’s peace was a theme that was repeated. I think that is what Rand will be forging at this big meeting. And I think this is where Aviendha will have to step in and save the Aiel from whatever inadvertent mistake Rand will make that would doom the Aiel to a slow dwindling death.

Other than that, I am not sure at all what to expect. Perhaps he will give them all a tongue lashing and rousing, inspiring speech all together about how differences and grievances must be put aside in order to face the Last Battle, etc.

Other Tidbits:

The book opened with a crazed military dude and his starving men, who basically mutinied, left him tied to a tree, and walked out on him. I think they are wise, because who wants to miss the Last Battle, really? And metal that has turned to putty! Good thing there are still stone workers!

The Wise Women (and the Aiel as a whole) seem snubbed that Rand told them not to worry about whatever he has planned at the big powwow. But Aviendha was good to point out that his insults have mostly been by accident/ignorance and not intentional slights. Still, the Aiel are stuck believing that their ways are the best ways, 100%. If they don’t get a bit more flexible, they won’t do well in the world that is left after the Last Battle.

We haven’t heard from Padan Fain in some time. Where is he? What is he doing? It can’t be good. And when is Mat going to return and get his Horn? Where is the gholam? elayne just lost a throne, good thing she has a second spare. Tuon is still planning to attack the White Tower and she has Traveling now. This could really fuck things up.

 

 

Blood on the Mississippi by Colin Webster

WebsterBloodOnTheMississippiWhere I Got It: Review copy from via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!).

Narrator: Hubert Williams

Publisher: White Feather Press (2014)

Length: 5 hours 44 minutes

Series: Blood & Tequila, Book 2 (Audible also says it is Book 2 of Triple Trouble series)

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it stood well on it’s own.

Clay and Maria are newly weds and they are being constantly attacked as they travel up and down the Mississippi. Maria is a newly minted vampire and still getting use to her powers and how to control her thirst for human blood. Clay turned over a new leaf with his marriage, trying to earn an honest living (usually via gambling) instead of robbing trains. They have a pet vampire horse that was a pretty cool addition to the story. The Order hunts them with priests and guns; a stone angel wants Maria destroyed; and Clay has been invited to an exclusive (and shady) riverboat poker game.

This books starts off with action (a hunt through a moonlit graveyard) and only lets up well past the half-way mark when Clay and Maria are tricked into a deadly game of poker. Maria sleeps buried in the earth (snuggling her pet vampire horse) while Clay roams around buying new clothes, drinking whiskey, gambling, and usually trying to get himself killed. A rather spooky young priest leads the charge in hunting them down, flinging insults at them along with deadly knives. Just when it looks like the two newly weds will get in some quality marital bliss time, the stone angel Michael finds them and attempts to destroy Maria (and Clay along with her since he is deadly earnest in defending her). While each action scene was well written, I found myself in a battle fatigue well before we get to the poker game that takes up the last third of the book. It started to all blur together for me.

The poker game itself had an interesting twist to it that I enjoyed even while the game itself lacked the intensity of the previous obstacle course of gunfights, knife throwing contests, and stone angel evasion. I am not much of a card game player myself, so I think some of the nuances of the poker game were lost on me and that another reader who enjoys poker games would take more enjoyment from these scenes.

The story was full of western cliches and stock idioms. At first, this helped set the scenery and gave me the impression that Clay was not from the Mississippi area (and later we find out that he is from the desert Southwest). But after a while, with repetition of the cliches and idioms, I was a bit dulled by them. Maria herself is from Mexico. She does fight hand to hand several times in the book, but later has to ask what to do with a gun (which might have been in sarcasm but it was unclear), has to be protected and rescued more than once, and doesn’t know how to play poker. I felt that her character was underutilized; she definitely played second fiddle to Clay. In fact, we didn’t have a single other female character until the poker game at the end of the book. So I guess there are know knife-wielding, vampire-arse kicking nuns out there to help out The Order.

The book was mildly entertaining though I can see how the author has left the door open for both character and series growth. There is potential for it to get better as the series continues.

The Narration: Hubert Williams has a deep voice that I enjoyed listening to. However, his accents came and went and were often muddled. Sometimes he seemed to get into a reading rut himself and there was no emotion to the performance. Also, several times throughout the book there was an odd background sound and I think it was the sound of rustling papers as he read.

What I Liked: The setting was fun; plenty of action; the zombie horse was an excellent little addition; the stone angel was worriesome!

What I Disliked: The story was cliched to the point of being predictable and repetitive; I got battle fatigue from the gamut of fights; Maria’s character was underutilized.