Wizard's Nocturne by Gary Jonas

JonasWizardsNocturneNarrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 6 in the series and I recommend reading at least the previous 2 books as there are major things that happened in those books that both explain and affect characters’s decisions in this book.

This book takes place in New York 1926 roughly 50 years after the previous book, Sunset Spectres. The Jonathan Shade from the previous book that decided to raise the young Henry Winslow long ago changed his name to John Eastman. Now Henry is a man in his prime and he and John are in business together and have a good relationship. However, John knows from his previous timeline that his younger previous self, Jonathan Shade, is due to show up and kill this version of Henry Winslow. Also, his once-girlfriend Reina is due to show up as well, from a different time jump. Things are about to get very, very complicated.

This was a fun book and while there are many things I liked about it, I did feel all the time traveling stuff got jumbled and was difficult to keep track of. I wanted a time jump map. Still, with that confusion I got enough enjoyment out this book to want to continue the series.

First, I like that John gave 50 years of his life to raise Henry in a loving environment, giving him the basis to become a good human being instead of the evil Henry Winslow that Jonathan Shade and crew have been trying to stop from becoming immortal. John is the mastermind in this tale, knowing some key specifics about how things will go down with the time jumps. In short, he’s trying to keep everyone he cares about alive. As we know from the previous book, one of his best friends died back in 1877. Now he just might have the chance to change that.

As John’s friends and even Jonathan start popping into 1926, none of them seem to recognize him as a much older version of Shade. This allows him to manipulate things. John and Henry have been leading members in an occult group for many years and John has set in motion a plan to initiate a new member, which will give John access to this man’s stunning find – the Emerald Tablets. These ancient artifacts are the source of the immortality spell that the evil Henry Winslow is trying to enact. 1926 is the stage for his final step in that spell.

This story had little bits of sentimentality laced through it everywhere. For instance, a vibrantly alive Esther is doing quite well as Mr. Eastman’s secretary. John knows he probably shouldn’t have hired her, based on his past experience with her ghost, but he couldn’t turn her down. Plus this way John believes he can ensure that Esther, alive or dead, doesn’t fall in love with him and suffer a broken heart for decades. I liked these little nods to characters we lost in previous books. Yet their appearances and different reactions/interactions with various characters also added to muddying the timelines and making it difficult to keep things straight.

Along with all the scheming that takes place in this book, the story wraps up with a decently long action sequence. Some people get what’s coming to them and, as always with this series, some good folks perish as well. This time they weren’t characters that I was heavily invested in so my heart didn’t ache like it did at the end of Sunset Spectres. There’s a lovely afterglow in which some things are explained and the surviving characters make plans to have lovely lives. I am pleased that my favorite characters are still alive and kicking though I do wonder what the author will do next. What a mess with the timelines!

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Joe Hempel is just simply great at this series. I really enjoyed him giving voice to the older, wiser John Eastman and the younger, still cocky Jonathan Shade. As always, his Kelly Chan and Esther are great. His emotional scenes, such as that between John and the good Henry, were very touching. 

What I Liked: 1926 New York; John’s long-term commitment to young Henry; the return of favorite characters (and then some) that I thought had been lost for good; not everyone gets out alive; great narration.

What I Disliked: Wow! I really need to map out the various timelines and the multiple versions of each character to keep that part of the story straight.

Book Giveaway & Review: David Travels to the Past by Gonzalo Martínez De Antoñana

DeAntonanaDavidTravelsToThePast

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Illustrator: María José Mosquera

Publisher: Saure Publisher (2016)

Length: 74 pages

Author’s Page

Note: This book contains two distinct adventures: The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period and also The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia. Each story starts with a little introduction page. David is an apprentice artist to Master Messina and Angela joins in the second adventure. While there are a few typos, perhaps due to translation errors perhaps, in the first story, there are more in the second, including a few lines that are rather clunky. Please note that my copy was an ARC and these typos and translation errors may be corrected in the final publication. They did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

In the first tale, The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period, Messina uses hypnosis to transport both himself and David into the distant past – the Paleolithic period. There, they befriend a small group of nomadic hunters and they then spend weeks with them learning about their various types of art. Po-pec and Ae-tel are the most prominent characters among the the tribe. They act as guides for David and Messina in exploring caves and learning how to do their art.

What I really loved about this story is that the author didn’t shy away from using big words, which were then usually explained by Messina or by the context of the images the words related to. Also, the story shows several different types of art, such as portable art (images carved on small bone pieces), narrative art (art that tells a story), clay modeling, bas-reliefs, and others. The story also goes into some of the techniques used in making the art.

In between the bits of art lesson, David and Messina are on an adventure. There’s animal hunts, dancing, mudslides, and more. Not only do our heroes get to examine the prehistoric art up close, they get to live the life for several weeks, giving them a deeper appreciation of the art. My little criticism for this story is that while there are a few females depicted in the tale, none of them get names, get any lines, and aren’t a significant part of the story.

In the second story, The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia, David and Messina use the same method to be transported back to around 600 BC in the city of Babylon. Angela, Messina’s niece, was also transported with them and she’s just as ready as David for an adventure. They start their hunt for the origins of Mesopotamian art. They see several famous buildings, such as the Ishtar Gate and the Babylonian gardens. It’s not just architecture they investigate, but also the decorative friezes and and the glass bricks with relief patterns.

Still they hunt for the origins of this fine art. With the aid of the god Marduk, they are transported even further back to 645 BC at the Ninive library. At this point in the story, somehow they are able to understand the Niniveans and vice versa. In the first story, such linguistic abilities were not possible. However, they are unable to understand the written cuneiform. While I found this odd, it wasn’t a major point in the story. Besides, I was having too much fun with this ancient history adventure. There’s the ruler Assurbanipal and the mythological hero Gilgamesh to meet! There’s wall paintings and sculptures to enjoy!

The next leg of the journey has them even further back in time, in the second millennium BC, where they meet Hammurabi. Here, I was pleased to see the diorite sculptures. Finally, Marduk transports them to the third millennium BC, in the city of Uruk of the Sumerian civilization. Here they meet the high priestess of the goddess Innana. Finally, they discover the origins of the Mesopotamian art. Indeed, I found it very clever to walk back in time and see how architecture and art grew from these earliest Sumerian works. I enjoyed this second adventure more than the first, partially because it wasn’t just an art adventure, but also architecture and history. Also, this story had three female characters (though only two have names) that each had lines and roles in the story.

Illustration: I really enjoyed the illustrations for this graphic novel. In the first adventure, The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period, I especially liked that Mosquera has this distinct style for the story, but then also uses a different style to depict the Paleolithic art. Her depictions of the cave art is immediately identifiable as such. As with the first story, The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia has the distinct style for all the characters and background, but then totally different styles to depict the various art. I like that Mosquera rendered true-to-life depictions of the various art, which added to my delight in the book.

What I Liked: Adventures in art and history!; great illustration!; David and Messina appreciate the art more with each adventure; Angela joins in for the second adventure; the Mesopotamian gods and rulers; how David and Angela mimic the art they’ve learned about.

What I Disliked: The first adventure was all about the men.

Be sure to check out other reviews on the book tour via iRead Book Tours!

Buy the Book

USA: Amazon  ~  Kindle ~  Barnes & Noble

UK: Amazon  ~ Kindle

Australia: Fishpond  ~  Booktopia ~ Kindle

Author and Illustrator

María José is a teacher. She won international illustrations awards.

Gonzalo has a degree in art history. He works in museums and as a tourist guide.

Connect with them: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook ~ Pinterest

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win a print copy of the graphic novel David Travels to the Past (open int’l / 5 winners)

Ends Dec 10

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Sunset Specters by Gary Jonas

JonasSunsetSpectersNarrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 4 hours 48 minutes

Series: Book 5 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 5 in the series and I recommend reading the previous books as there are major things that happened in previous stories that affect characters’s decisions in this book.

Book 4, Anubis Nights, left us with quite the cliff hanger, so I was very glad I didn’t have to wait too long for this book to come out on audio. Jonathan Shade and his crew are still hunting Henry Winslow through time. Jonathan, Kelly Chan, and Ankhesenamun were yanked from ancient Egypt into 1877 at the end of the previous book. At the beginning of this book, Jonathan & Kelly are reunited with Brand and Esther, and they all have the opportunity to bring the confused Ankhesenamun up to speed.

And that’s the perfect set up for things to go very, very wrong. First, they finish traveling to San Francisco, hoping to catch up to the sorcerous Henry Winslow before he expects it and well before he can complete the next stage of his immortality ritual. Meanwhile, Douglas Freeman, a former slave, has suffered a great loss. He’s made a list of men who must die. Vengeful, angry ghosts accompany him as he tracks his quarry to San Francisco.

San Francisco is a mixing pot of cultures but it’s far from any kind of equality in 1877. Might still makes right and being any skin tone other than white leaves you with plenty of extra hurdles. Very few establishments outside of China town will serve Kelly Chan and nearly everyone assumes she is Jonathan’s slave. This provides plenty of opportunities for Kelly to set people right, much to my amusement. I’m really glad that the author didn’t ignore these facets of historical San Francisco as it made the story very interesting; Jonathan and crew can’t help but apply their 21st century standards to whatever time period they happen to be in.

The bad guy is very bad indeed! Henry Winslow is a very formidable foe as we saw in Book 4. That continues on in this book, though his powers have grown a bit. Still, Jonathan and crew think they can take him if they can just get the right combo of might, luck, and surprise going. At the very least, they can mess up this stage of his immortality ritual. For the most part, Winslow ignores them (or tosses them over houses) until they become a true nuisance. Then, there is hell to pay. There is this one scene that was a little bit of a tear jerker. Jonathan, in the first trilogy, managed to undo a few deaths with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. However, I don’t know if that will be possible this time around. This book’s description doesn’t lie about not everyone getting out alive.

In the previous book, I felt it was a bit silly that all 3 main female characters were in love with Jonathan. That theme was carried forth in this book, but now things are more complicated. Kelly and Jonathan had this romantic relationship in ancient Egypt and they continue that in 1877, but now they have Brand (Kelly’s ex-boyfriend) and Esther (a ghost who’s had a crush on Jonathan for years) to pay witness to it. This makes for some uncomfortable moments for these friends. However, I am better with the idea of Jonathan being the center of so much female attention now that I’ve read this book, especially in light of how this one ends.

OK, leaving all this mushy romance stuff to the side, Jonathan has more than one bad guy to deal with in this book. He and Douglas Freeman eventually cross paths and a deal is struck to assist each other, as they have one bad guy in common. This eventually brings plenty of pain and a few broken bones to Jonathan as he fights a man who is near indestructible. I quite enjoyed how he resolved that issue.

In the end, this is one of my favorite books of the series. There’s a lot going on in San Francisco in 1877 and a lot going on with Jonathan and his crew. The books ends on a bittersweet note with a bit of suspense for what will come next. So looking forward to Book 6!

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Yet again, Joe Hempel continues to be the perfect Jonathan Shade. As per his usual performance, he does an excellent light Chinese accent for Kelly Chan and a Southern drawl for Esther. I liked the little bit of high-and-mighty he put into Ankhesenamun’s voice. There were some pretty emotional scenes in this book and Hempel did a great job getting those emotions across to the listener. Indeed, I believe he must be attached to these characters by now and that really shows in his narration.  

What I Liked: 1877 San Francisco was a very interesting place; Kelly has plenty of opportunities to kick ass; Henry Winslow is such a powerful foe that I do wonder if Jonathan will be able to defeat him; not everyone gets out of this book alive (sniffle); Jonathan’s convoluted love life makes more sense now; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is a solidly good story.

A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Chupacabra
Chupacabra

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.

 

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Interview: Bob Kat, Author of the YA Series Time Shifters

KatNotMyLifeEveryone, please give a warm welcome to authors Kathy Clark and her husband Bob Wernly to the blog today! Kathy and Bob Wernly write as a team under the pen name of Kathy Clark for their adult books and Bob Kat for their YA series, Time Shifters. Kathy has answered the questions, totally disregarding Bob’s input because he’s watching a football game!

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

There are so many books that I loved at different stages in my life. As a child, I devoured all the Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley books I could find. In junior high, I loved Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney. Then I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. The Flame and the Flower was a delicious introduction to romance novels that changed my life because it made me want to write books like that. I also remember fondly Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. And I loved the Twilight series. It’s magical when you find wonderful characters who touch your heart and stay with you forever.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

I think Karen Robards writes the best villains because she takes you inside their heads. They are vicious, cold, cruel, and totally insane.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Warning! Kathy and Bob will use anything you say or do in their next book if it’s entertaining!

As a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

Just sit back and listen. Everyone has such a great story to tell about their life. That’s the theme of our latest YA romance/time travel/mystery, NOT MY LIFE. It’s about a homeless man who lives under the pier on Fort Myers Beach and is befriended by our teenage characters. When they have a chance to find out what brought him to such a drastic place, they discover that beneath his weathered exterior is an amazing person with a rich, full life.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

We are sort of unique in our writing style because we write as partners. First, we sit on our deck with some wine and Diet Coke and thoroughly plot our books. Then Bob writes the first draft, usually in the morning, sitting at our bar and using his laptop. I am strictly a night writer. I have zero creativity during the daylight hours. I can’t even make a complete sentence before noon. So, I sit on the couch and add flesh and color to the bones that Bob has given me, often working until two or three in the morning. Then, we both polish it before passing it on to our beta readers.

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

Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler would be first. Never have there been two characters that were so well-developed that you felt like you were in the room eavesdropping.

I’d also like to hang out with Kelly, Scott, Austin, and Zoey from our Time Shifters series because they are so much fun to write about, it’s as if they are real.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

We just finished an adult romantic suspense series called Austin Heroes. It was about three brothers, all in different branches of law enforcement. They were wonderful characters, and I fell in love with all of them. But their grandmother, Grammy, somehow became a bigger-than-life secondary character. We’ve gotten more fan mail about her than anyone else. In the last book, ANOTHER CHANCE, that will be out in November, she finally got to tell her own story.

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

NOT MY LIFE, book #5 of the Time Shifters YA romance/time travel/mystery series will be out on October 18th. ALMOST FOREVER, book #2 of the Austin Heroes series came out in July, and ANOTHER CHANCE, book #3 of the Austin Heroes series comes out on November 1st. All are available on Amazon and most other ebook sites. We are currently working on book #1 of our Breathless series, an adult romance set in Cripple Creek, Colorado. And in between, we’re dying to get our toes in sand somewhere tropical.

ClarkKatAustinHeroesSeries

Visit us at our website www.LoveRealityRomance.com or write us at Kathy@Nightwriter93.com. We would love to hear where and when you think our teenagers should travel to in the next book. Reviews are always appreciated.

Kathy Clark and Bob Kat love to hear from our fans. Write us at TheThrillOfSuspense@gmail.com and tell us where you’d like to have Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey travel to next.

Places to Find Kathy Clark and Bob Wernly

Website: www.LoveRealityRomance.com

Email: LoveRealityRomance@gmail.com
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Link to purchase NOT MY LIFE on Amazon
Link to purchase ANOTHER CHANCE on Amazon

KathyClarkBobWernlyBobKatAuthorAuthor Kathy Clark’s Bio: 

NOT MY LIFE is Kathy Clark’s 42nd novel.  She’s been a Vice-President of the Romance Writers of America, Co-Founded the Colorado Romance Writers and has been a member of the Mystery Writers of America Rocky Mountain Chapter for many years. She’s been a RITA Finalist, Romantic Times award winner, NY Times best seller, had several books named Best Indie Book and has won the Reader’s Choice competition in addition to several top film festival honors.  Her books have sold over 3 ½ million books globally.

Her website has all her books and links and information about her screenwriting career.  Find it at www.LoveRealityRomance.com  Find her on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/150098.Kathy_Clark .  The universal link to Amazon is http://lrd.to/not-my-life .

KatNotMyLifeBook Blurb for Not My Life, Book 5 of Time Shifters: 

Right place wrong time…that’s never happened before and what they don’t know could kill them.

On their way home from a trip to the Stanley Hotel in 1911, an accidental detour drops Kelly, Austin, Scott, and Zoey in 1977.  They discover that their old friend, Dan Denucci has been arrested for murder.  They knew him as a homeless man living under the fishing pier and making jewelry.  How had this gentle old man become a killer?

He needs their help, but first they must convince him they have the power to travel through time.  But can they trust him?

Anubis Nights by Gary Jonas

JonasAnubisNightsWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 7 hours 28 minutes

Series: Book 4 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 4 in the series and I recommend reading the previous books as there are major things that happened in previous stories that affect characters’s decisions in this book.

Private investigator Jonathan Shade starts his day off having a serious argument with a witch and the ghost of her son. Things only get worse when Sharon and Chronos show up at Kelly’s dojo and force Jonathan and his friends into taking care of a little problem for them. Henry Winslow, a powerful magician, is attempting to become immortal. To do so, he split himself into three aspects and placed each one at a different time and place in the past. Now Jonathan and his friends must travel back in time and kill each aspect.

This was a fun addition to this urban fantasy series that I have enjoyed so much. Jonathan has done a smidge of time travel before (a fact that he keeps hidden from his friends) but this time he and Kelly (a magically constructed warrior) are sent back into ancient Egypt to find Winslow and kill him. Meanwhile, Brand (also a magically constructed warrior) and Esther (a ghost who is tied to these old typewriter keys) go back to the 1870s. Reina (who isn’t of this world and has some special abilities) heads to the 1920s.

Let me get my one criticism out of the way. We have three main ladies in this series now: Kelly, Esther, and Reina. For some reason, the author chose to write them all as being in love with Jonathan and that really comes to the forefront in this book. It’s silly and not really necessary for the plot. Plus, there are other interesting men, so why not spread the joy?

OK, back to the good stuff. Most of the book is spent on Jonathan and Kelly in ancient Egypt. I really enjoyed the scenes where everyone was getting ready for their trip and had to dress the part. Reina got a flapper dress plus some practical wear. Brand had some rough yet really durable clothes. Meanwhile, Kelly and Jonathan were given revealing (by today’s standards) clothing that was the norm for King Tut’s time period. Eventually, Kelly and Jonathan rebel and a compromise (sort of) is made. In the end, it didn’t matter much because the two of them materialized in front of people and therefore, folks thought they must be deities.

We get a little bit of time with Brand and Esther in the 1870s. They soon land in some serious trouble with Priscilla and Edward that they weren’t expecting. Brand used to be a very strong warrior, but at the end of the previous book, things changed for him. Now he finds himself in a next to helpless position but I think he’s too stubborn (or dense) to notice. He keeps on thinking, bidding his time, quietly flexing those muscles.

Meanwhile, Reina goes to the 1920s. She doesn’t know much about this time period and she’s never been to New York  city. We only get a smidge of her story and she swiftly finds herself in trouble. I was surprised at how quickly she was subdued and also a bit disappointed. Not much is being done with this character that has so much potential.

It’s a swift moving plot with fun characters and I like that Kelly and Jonathan continue to be at the heart of the story. I also like that things between Jonathan and Sharon are unresolved. Her previous betrayal still rankles him (as it should!) and I look forward to seeing how the author deals with that. The ending was great! I loved the last big fight scene and how things in Egypt resolved themselves. This book does leave us on a cliff hanger, so I’m really looking forward to having Book 5 in audio.

I received a copy at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Joe Hempel continues to be the perfect Jonathan Shade. Also, he’s the perfect Kelly Chan, with her light Chinese accent. He really pulls it off well. I also liked his ‘dumb jock’ voice for Brand (which suits his humor and character well) and I continue to like his light Southern drawl for Esther. All around, it’s a great performance.  

What I Liked: Ancient Egypt!; things are not yet resolved with Sharon; Brand and Esther have their own troubles; King Tut and all the court; the final fight scene.

What I Disliked: All three main ladies are romantically inclined towards Jonathan, which is a little silly.

Women Destroy Science Fiction!: Lightspeed Magazine Special Issue edited by Christie Yant

YantWomenDestroyScienceFictionLightspeedMagazineWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Gabrielle de Cuir, Harlan Ellison, Grover Gardner, Jamye Grant, Susan Hanfield, Jonathan L. Howard, John Allen Nelson, Bahni Turpin, Stefan Rudnicki, Molly Underwood, and Judy Young

Publisher: Skyboat Media Inc. (2015)

Length: 15 hours 11 minutes

Editor’s Page   Lightspeed Magazine’s Page

Over the past few years, there has been a series of ‘XXXXX Destroy Science Fiction’ anthologies, but this is the first one I have read. While the title may smack of too much ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’, the anthology was quite balanced with characters of all genders, action and contemplation, mystery and exploration, happy endings and not-so happy endings. Most of the stories had some real meat on them, including several of the flash fiction tales, giving me something to chat about over tea. Some were humorous and some required some thoughtful contemplation afterwards. Over all, it’s an excellent science fiction anthology.

Contained in this audiobook are 11 original short stories, 4 short story reprints, 1 novella, and 15 flash fiction tales. If you pick up the text version, you also get 7 non-fiction pieces, 28 personal essays, and 15 author spotlights. Authors for stories in this audiobook include Charlie Jane Anders, Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Porter Birdsall, Heather Clitheroe, Tina Connolly, Katherine Crighton, Ellen Denham. Tananarive Due, Rhonda Eikamp, Amal El-Mohtar, Emily Fox, Maria Dahvana Headley, Cathy Humble, N. K. Jemisin, Marina J. Lostetter, Seanan McGuire Maureen F. McHugh, Kris Millering, Maria Romasco Moore, Samantha Murray, K. C. Norton, Anaid Perez, Sarah Pinsker, Rhiannon Rasmussen, Holly Schofield, Effie Seiberg, Gabriella Stalker, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Vanessa Torline, Carrie Vaughn, and Kim Winternheimer.

Below are the 11 original stories.

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire

The Navy has modified whole submarine corps of women into ‘mermaids’ to explore and claim the ocean floor for bubble cities and resources. The main character finds something in the deep that she didn’t expect. The narrator did a great job with the elongated vowels and such (sounding like in between ocean animal and human) and keeping each female character distinct. This was my favorite story of the whole book and a great way to start the anthology off. 6/5

A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering

Maurine is an angry artist in space. Her only ‘companion’ is a dead man in the corner. Rather eerie but interesting. Good narration – kept the eerie quality to it. 4/5

Cuts Both Ways by Heather Clitheroe

Spencer is a memory recall specialist. He floats through his memories, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Held in high regard for the work he does but it messes with his personal life. Was OK. Didn’t hold my attention like the first 2. Narration good. 3/5

Walking Awake by N.K. Jemisin

Sadie is a caretaker, helping raise the kids until they are old enough for the Masters to inhabit. Henri, one of her young charges, has been chosen. Abrupt ending. Don’t know if Sadie was successful or just nuts. Narration good tho Sadie sounded a lot younger than 40 years old. 4/5

The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp

A Gearlock Holmes & Watson story. There is murder at Gearlock’s mansion and the robotic amalgam Mrs. Hudson is in custody for the murder. Fun piece. Steampunky. Good stiff upper lip narration. 5/5

In the Image of Man by Gabriella Stalker

Set in Houston, TX, Wendell & his parents live in a mall. Big Box stores, and their advertising, dominate Wendell’s life, including church and living quarters. Teen loans are the norm. Very interesting piece on materialism and debt. Narration very good with a light Western twang. 5/5

The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick by Charlie Jane Anders

Roger and Mary broke up. Mary’s friend Stacia convinces her to ask for Roger’s memories of the beginning of their relationship when things were on a high note. Interesting piece. Good  narration. 4/5

Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley

Set in a far future where the Moon is colonized, Bert, a restaurant critic, has told the secret of the dim sun restaurant. Now it’s crowded. Rodney and Bert are having a lunch there when Harriet, Bert’s ex-wife and a powerful politician, joins them. It was a very fun piece – creative dishes. Great narration. 5/5

The Lonely Sea in the Sky by Amal El-Mohtar

Laila is encouraged to talk to the psychologist. She’s an interplanetary geoscientist. She has an ism – addicted to diamonds or the idea of diamonds. This tale explores various stories about diamonds as part of Laila’s fascination. Interesting piece but kind of broken up, not clear in places. Narrated by several people. At least 1 line repeated. The volumes varies, but mostly much quieter than the rest of the book. Main narrator does great with emotions. 3/5

A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall

Genevieve’s a thief. She makes her debut burglary and runs into another thief, Catherine. They bond over the difficulties of breaking into the Marquis’s place. Some cool tech. Love the proper British accent and social niceties. 4/5

Canth by K.C. Norton

The Canth is an underwater vessel, part animal, powered by a perpetual motion machine. Capt. Pierce has lost the Canth but pursues her in a ship, the Jeronimo, captained by Rios. Portugues flavor to the story. Cod in every meal. Very interesting story. Narration was good, especially with the Portuguese  words. 5/5

Below are the reprinted stories, including the 1 novella. 

Like Daughter by Tananarive Due

Paige looks after Denise (Neecy) as much a s she can. She often reflects on their childhood and how things were different between them. Now Denise needs her to take her 6 year old daughter. Heavy story. Well done. Good narration. 5/5.

The Great Loneliness by Maria Romasco Moore

A slow apocalypse happened. Now clones of one flavor or another live out their lives in the few pockets of habitable space on Earth. Various groups have sent probes and manned space missions over the years into space searching for another habitable planet. I really like the imagery that was every where in this story- the underwater museum, the main character’s plant-like daughter Verdant, the human’s Eyes, Brain, etc. walking around independently. The narration was great, even a little song. 5/5

Love is the Plan the Plan is Death by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon)

Mogadit has discovered a little one, Lililu, and his teen hormones all at once. Strange, enthralling. Sometimes felt like I was watching animals mating. Stefan Rudnicki narrates and he does it excellently. 4/5

Knapsack Poems by Eleanor Arnason

Strange story. Main character seems to have more than 1 entity and this is the norm. The main character has a scout and a poet and such. It finds a child of some sorts and carries it along falling in love with it. The entities can be more than one gender, but not necessarily so. I don’t get all of it. Rudnicki narrates, doing a good job. 3/5

The Cost to Be Wise by Maureen F. McHugh (novella)

Scarline is a colony on a little populated world. Not much tech. Dogs as sheep – for food. An outworlder, Veranique, comes to visit along with her Professor Ian. Janna, who is an unwed teen of the colony, is fascinated with plastic. Scaffalos is a great clan that visits Scarline for trade, though sometimes they just take what they want. Travesty befalls the colony. Interesting story. A thoughtful, perhaps harsh, ending. Well narrated. 5/5

Below are the 15 original flash fiction stories. 

Salvage by Carrie Vaughn

A spooky ghost ship story with a happy ending.

A Guide to Grief by Emily Fox

Sad story.

See DANGEROUS EARTH-POSSIBLES! by Tina Connolly

Narrator sounds drunk, which isn’t necessarily bad for this story.

A Debt Repaid by Marina J. Lostetter

The 2-headed monster has dual addiction – gambling & drink.

The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced by Sarah Pinsker

Those that suffer from accidental time travel can hang out in an asylum. There’s jello.

#TrainFightTuesday by Vanessa Torline

Fun tail told through tweets. Super heroes/villains. Cute noises to denote switching between tweeters.

The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen

A beautiful story of interstellar kamikazes come home. This was my favorite on the Flash Fiction.

Emoticon by Anaid Perez

:-$

The Mouths by Ellen Denham

Cracker obsessed aliens with only 1 orifice.

M1A by Kim Winternheimer

M1A is her clone there to give her parts as she needs. They grow up as sisters, but she is always sick while her clone is healthy. Poignant story.

Standard Deviant by Holly Schofield

A punkass homeless lass is given the opportunity to become an intergalactic ambassador. Fun story.

Getting on in Years by Cathy Humble

Immortal 800 year old man tired of hiding it. Interesting. Ending up to interpretation.

Ro-Sham-Bot by Effie Seiberg

Robot wants to play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Everything That Has Already Been Said by Samantha Murray

An odd duck of a story.

The Lies We Tell Our Children by Katherine Crighton

She tells her daughters about space and what that means. They become sad. Very nice sadly sweet story.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the publisher (via Audiobook Jukebox) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Nearly all of the narration was well done for this anthology. There was one story with more than 1 narrator and it definitely sounded like the narrators were in different studios, not recorded at the same time. However, the  majority of the narration was excellent. I especially like seeing Stefan Rudnicki’s abilities tested in the James Tiptree story.  

What I Liked: Such a variety of SF – horror, steampunk, time travel, romance, exploration, etc.; it was great to have so many narrators for this anthology, which helped keep each story distinct;  beautiful  cover art.

What I Disliked: The title does make me chuckle a little.

What Others Think:

NPR

Tangent

Adventures in SciFi Publishing

11-22-63: A Novel by Stephen King

King112263Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Craig Wasson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2011)

Length: 30 hours 44 minutes

Author’s Page

Al Templeton has a secret and that secret is that he has a little time portal to 1958 in the basement of his diner. Each time he goes through, it resets everything, which has been allowing him to buy ground beef for his diner at an incredibly low price for years. Then Al decided he should do something worthy with this time portal. Alas, he is going to die of cancer before he can complete his self-assigned mission. So he entrusts this mission to his friend Jake Epping. Of course, Jake needs to test the portal out before he believes Al, but once he’s satisfied that it’s real, he’s willing to sit with Al and hear his plan out. The mission is to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Al believes that by saving this one man, the Vietnam war (and then some) will be avoided.

This is my first Stephen King novel and it’s quite a dense work to start with. The first 6 or 7 hours of the book were pretty slow for me. There’s a little bit of action as Al explains the ‘test’ he did to verify that the timeline could indeed be changed, but mostly it’s a lot of convincing Jake and setting up the reasons why he needs to do this. I also believe that’s it rare that saving or killing one person can alter a major event, so it was a hard sell to me as to the merit of saving JFK – I don’t think saving him would necessarily avert the Vietnam war. So I found myself only listening to this novel in short spurts of an hour or two. But then Jake decides to the plunge and test the timeline himself. That’s when things really got interesting.

Jake Epping becomes George Emberson in 1958. He travels to Maine and settles in while waiting for the chance to set right a grievous injustice done to a mother and her children. The people in the small town are suspicious of newcomers and George’s real estate excuse doesn’t wash with everyone. George basically spies on the family he intends to save and the man who historically tore it apart. Jake of 2011 has no experience doing these sorts of things, so George of 1958 has to get comfortable deceiving people. I liked that George bumbled around a bit as he picked up the lingo and absorbed the atmosphere of 1958.

Once he’s done what he came to do, he returns to 2011 to check on the timeline and see what changes his efforts made. Once satisfied that he can indeed change history, he has the big choice to make. If he goes through to 1958, he has to live several years in the past before he can stop Lee Harvey Oswald on that fateful day, but then he may well also be trapped in the past.

I found myself more interested in George’s side projects at first – saving that mother and her kids in Maine, and then another person from a hunting accident. There was drama and apparently Time herself puts plenty of obstacles in the way, wanting to keep things as they are. Then things slowed down a bit as George settled into a teaching position in Texas (which is what he did in real life in 2011). Eventually, he starts making friends and becomes wrapped up in their lives. The drama rises again as he finds a romantic entanglement with Sadie, the school librarian.

The most interesting part of the book was probably the last 7 or 8 hours. These are the events in George’s life leading up to the JFK parade in Dallas, his attempts to stop Oswald, and the aftermath of those actions. Not everything is rosy and fine, which I thought was great and realistic and really made the story for me. George is faced with yet more tough choices and I felt my heart break just a little for him.

At first, I was a bit concerned that the author wouldn’t be addressing racial prejudices in this book, even though they were definitely alive and kicking in the 1960s. While George is in Maine, we don’t see much, though there are some characters that have racial issues with a Jewish character. Once George heads south, the author does a decent job of inserting a few well-wrought scenes that show the racial divide between folks at the time.

Over all, I’m glad I put the time into this book. It’s definitely well researched – from the foods available, to the TV shows, to women’s rights, to nearly everyone smoking nearly every where, to the cars, to the politics. I had zero interest in the Kennedy assassination before I read this book and now I have at least a little interest in the times and politics of his presidency. The author gives a brief talk at the end of the book about why he wrote this book and how his life was affected by the assassination and I thought that was a nice bonus to us listeners.

The Narration: Craig Wasson did a pretty good job with this book. Several accents – Russian, German, French, along with regional US accents – were required and he did them all well. There is also this huge cast of characters ranging in ages and jobs and situations. Wasson pulled them all off giving us a very good performance. George’s breaking heart and Sadie’s near-suicidal attitude really came through. 

What I Liked: George’s side projects of helping a few people out where he could in the past; the book was well researched and that came through in so many details; great narration; the building tension towards the end of the book; not all is rosy and fine at the end.

What I Disliked: The book started off pretty darn slow; I initially had no interest in the Kennedy assassination.

What Others Think: 

The Guilded Earlobe

Fantasy Book Review

Kirkus Book Reviews

Giveaway & Interview: Bijhan Valibeigi, Author of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship

ValibeigiBeginningOfABizarreFriendshipEveryone, please welcome Bijhan Valibeigi to the blog today! She’s here to chat about RPGs, Power Rangers, Steven Saylor books, and plenty more!  If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom. You can also check out my review of her book, The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship, which I quite enjoyed.

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

My first instinct would be to say one of the upcoming Star Trek films, in no small part because I would look excellent in one of those red skirted uniforms, but when I think about the set on which I’d probably have the most fun, it would probably have to be Power Rangers.

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?

Again, the answer comes back to Power Rangers. Who wouldn’t want to be swept up into the arms of those beautiful heroes? If footage existed of me being saved by the Power Rangers, I would watch it every morning with my breakfast.

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

Parks and Recreation. Every once in a while, I remember that there will never be another new episode, and my heart breaks a little. The answer would be 30 Rock, but now that The Muppets is on the air, that void has been filled.

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

There’s something especially grueling about working a job with a lot of down time and a lot of physical labor, like the work I did as a grocery clerk. Most people would assume that the strenuous labor would be the worst part, and it is not pleasant, but the real pain came from the need to turn my brain off. I cannot turn my brain off. That’s why I write, design games, compose music, and paint: My brain is constantly overflowing, and not having anywhere for my ideas to go is a special kind of pain.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

Star Trek was a pioneer in this field in the 1970s. Selling Spock shirts and Captain Kirk action figures was big money, so they began licensing for other products, including wonderful novels, comic books, and tabletop games which expanded the context of the Star Trek universe. This effort was decentralized, however, and therefore often contradictory and incompatible. George Lucas stepped up the multimedia game with Star Wars, which enhanced the core movies with novels, comics, television, and genuinely high-quality games of both the electronic and tabletop variety. Realizing the power of unified branding and cross-platform storytelling, Marvel and DC followed Star Wars’ lead. Unfortunately, Star Trek never made the leap to a wholly unified universe.

The Time Wars universe is one of my own creation, a vast series of interconnected timelines, sewing together the fates of Humanity, Vampires, aliens, spies, soldiers, heroes, and every people. In the tabletop RPG I designed, Time Wars: Strike Team [link: timewarsuniverse.com/StrikeTeam.html], which is available as a free downloadable PDF, players can take on the roles of superhuman time travelers who battle vampiric enemies from the Stone Age to the Galactic Age. I’ve also created a strategy card game, the world’s first deck-stacking game, Time Wars: Supreme Command [link: timewarsuniverse.com/SupremeCommand.html], where players use cards to assemble their Time Travelers, and duel for control over the Timeline as they set their own goals and foil the goals of their opponents. There are cards in the game which represent characters from not only The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship [link: timewarsuniverse.com/Books.html], the first novel in the Time Wars Tales fiction brand, but also the ongoing flash fiction series Time Wars Tales: Legends of the Order  [link:timewarsuniverse.wordpress.com]. The events of Legends of the Order provide a deeper context for the events of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship, although both can be thoroughly enjoyed on their own.

My ideas have always transcended any one form of media. I can’t help but write music for the characters I create, develop stories for the games I design, and weave together my various stories into a larger narrative. In fact, one of the first games I ever designed came from sheer excitement at just having read the first Harry Potter novel, at which point I promptly invented a board game where players became students at Hogwarts. Perhaps it’s from consuming so much Star Trek and Star Wars as a youngster. It’s certainly enough for me to name my series Time Wars as an homage.

If you’d like to support the strategy card game, we will be having a Kickstarter for Time Wars: Supreme Command starting March 27th, and you can follow @TimeWarsRPG on Twitter for updates on that. You can also support all my multimedia work, including my music, comics, recipes, and more at Patreon.com/BijhanValibeigi.

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?

The “Roma Sub Rosa” books by Steven Saylor would make a fantastic video game. Because it’s a murder mystery series, I would want it to be an original story so I couldn’t guess the ending. In the stories, there’s often a sense of running out of time, and there’s a lot of daring escapes, but very few out-and-out fights. Since so many video games are either currency-based, or about obvious violence, it would be really fun to have an action mystery game to change it up. Also, it would be a lot of fun to solve crimes while immersed in the sights and sounds of Ancient Rome.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

I’d have a few…
“Cries at children’s television shows, but not funerals.”
“Needs chocolate daily, and hugs three times daily, or else unit ceases to function.”
And, finally, “Not a meaningful source of f**ks.”

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Most definitely. At a very young age I came to understand all media as having been created by a person, and therefore I could be that person. I wrote children’s books as a very small child and made copies for my parents. I would create elaborate stories and draw the characters in great detail. As I grew older I wrote embarrassingly self-indulgent action stories with no literary merit, along with some pretty funny sketch comedy. So it feels like a very natural progression into being a writer of more elaborate and meaningful fiction. Although, directly to the point of the question, what was I like as a kid? I was very strange. I would embody the characters of my imagination in every way. My mother likes to tell the story of how, one day, when I was a very small child, I went to sleep while pretending to be a dog, and when I woke up, I woke up as a dog, down to the bark and the panting. The realm of my mind has always felt very real, and something I’m eager to share.

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

A large part of me just wants to see some awesome drama. It would be an occasion for me to kick back and watch people yell at each other.

So, therefore, I would want the first three to be William F. Buckley, Jr., Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote. The final two, to fill out the rabble-rousers who would absolutely loathe one another, would have to be Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. These five people would absolutely hate one another, and I would love to watch them argue and feud. I imagine Buckley and Vidal would find some way for their orders to be barbs at one another, while Capote would probably order something self-indulgent. Hobbes would make a very conservative choice, based on the cost and health; Locke would likely have brought something from home.

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

I have a terrible memory for faces, and I’m not much better with names, so I often have fans who have met me before approach me as if we are old friends, but whom I cannot recall at all. I, personally, have not had an opportunity to geek out over an author in person. I did, however, have an extended e-mail correspondence with Keith DeCandido when I was in high school about the Star Trek novels he wrote. I have no idea why he provided such detailed responses to such a bratty child – which I most assuredly was at the time – but our conversations on the non-binary nature of Andorian gender roles actually played a part in my own awakening to my identity as a gender outside the binary. I had a chance to email him again, as an adult, to thank him for that correspondence. He admitted no memory of it, which is understandable, and was very kind and gracious – as always.

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

I have three arguments I get in most regularly, and perhaps most passionately, because my opinions are not popular. To be brief, and not to go into detail:

1) Star Trek: the Next Generation was a bad sequel to Star Trek.

2) Power Rangers is deeply underrated as a science fiction series.

3) Most contemporary mainstream video games are really boring and derivative.

BijhanValibeigiAuthorAbout Bijhan Valibeigi

Bijhan Valibeigi is a writer, game designer, musician, and trans Muslim from West Seattle. When Bijhan is not pwning newbs in every kind of game ever made, hating on TNG for being objectively worse than Star Trek, or cheering for the BC Lions, she spends time at home with her partner RaeRae, three lovely cats Reza, Kya, and Jasper, and old cranky dog Elsa.

Find Bijhan and her works online

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ValibeigiBeginningOfABizarreFriendshipSynopsis of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship

In the 161st Century, the Vampires have conquered their own Homeworld of Earth, and driven Humanity into the furthest reaches of space. From our exile across the galaxy, our people use time travel technology to wage a war against Vampirekind. We must change the past to protect the future.
Yet there are heroes who do not use time travel technology – clandestine warriors who remain in the shadows to hunt the monsters who lurk there. This secret-cloaked sorority is usually quite skilled at protecting its mysteries.

But sometimes, secrets can become revealed…

 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Bijhan is graciously offering up 3 ebook copies of The Beginning to a Bizarre Friendship. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below, or answer the following in the comments:  1) Which dead author(s) would you like to have dinner with?  2) Leave a way to contact you (email or twitter or facebook). Giveaway ends midnight June 10, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Sound of His Horn by Sarban (aka John William Wall)

Heldig is not perturbed by the Wild Hunt!
Heldig is not perturbed by the Wild Hunt!

Where I Got It: Won a copy

Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki

Publisher: Skyboat Media Inc. (2014)

Length: 4 hours

Author’s Page

This is one of those classics that I somehow missed until I won a copy. I’m very glad it came to my attention. It’s a very interesting mix of alternate history (what if the Nazis had won their war?), time travel, and a retelling of the Wild Hunt. The story starts off slow, with hints of ‘something not quite right’ as Alan Querdilion reacquaints himself with an old friend years after WWII has come to a close. The two find themselves drinking and smoking by a late night fire when Alan relates his odd tale of a walk on the weird side.

Alan finds himself in a future world 102 years after the Nazis obtained dominance. He stumbled upon it after having escaped a WWII POW camp, lost, dehydrated, and zapped by something he bumbled into. He wakes up in a German hospital-type place. The two nurses and the doctor try to help him, thinking he is suffering from a bad hit to the head. Eventually, he learns something of the baron whose land the hospital resides on. Slavery is common place for both young men and women. Alan won’t let go of his believe that this place and time is not quite real, but he quiets down enough about it for the doctor to start taking him out and about.

What Alan learns is disturbing. The slaves have been bred or perhaps genetically altered at the zygote level to provide a service or entertainment for this baron. Some are physically altered as kids or teens, such as having vocal chords cut. The baron treats many of these specialized slaves as animals, using them to hunt as well as providing them to be hunted. It’s all rather disturbing and very well written. The book doesn’t get caught up in bigger picture morality issues. Instead, it stays focused on Alan’s tale as he tries to survive this encounter and his thoughts on what is wrong or right.

Alan eventually offends the baron by sneaking about and he is tossed into the fenced forest to be hunted at leisure. This starts the heart pounding suspense as Alan must avoid the Hunt again and again. The moonlit Wild Hunt scenes were absolutely riveting. The plot thickens as he meets others who are part of this hunt and he learns a little of the politics off of the baron’s property.

As you might guess, since Alan is telling this story from the beginning years after the even happens, he survives the event, though not unmarked. The reader is left to decide whether or not Alan truly experienced this event, if it was his hallucination, or if Alan made it up to mess with his friend. It’s an excellent suspense-filled tale.

I won a copy of this book from the publisher (via The Audio Book Reviewer) with no strings attached.

Narration: Stefan Rudnicki was excellent. His performance really added to the tension and excitement and the disgust Alan felt from time to time. His female voices were good and his accents were well done. During one of the hunting scenes, these wild cats (sort of) are being used to hunt and Rudnicki was in the middle of the narrative that explains the wild yowling sounds as they go on the chase when my old deaf cat let out a yowl of her own. I almost jumped out of my skin!

What I Liked: Interesting mashup of alternate history and the Wild Hunt; great use of suspense followed by action; the reader is left up to determine their own morals on the issued raised by the book even as Alan makes his own judgments; very satisfying ending; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: The book cover is a little odd because I don’t recall anyone in a gas mask in the story.

What Others Think:

Graeme Shimmin

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