Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

FremantleSistersOfTreasonWhy I Read It: I really enjoyed Fremantle’s Queen’s Gambit so I had to check this one out.

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

Who I Recommend This To: Elizabeth Tudor fans who have always been curious about the Grey sisters.

Narrator: Georgina Sutton, Teresa Gallagher, Rachel Bavidge

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 15 hours 28 minutes

Author’s Page

Opening in the mid-1500s England, the remaining Grey sisters (Catherine and Mary) are still in mourning after the execution of their elder sister, Lady Jane Grey. Mary Tudor rules England and holds strong, vehemently, to the Catholic faith. Religious executions become, perhaps not normal, but far too common as religious intolerance grows over the years. The plot takes place over several decades as Queen Mary Tudor is replaced by her half sister Queen Elizabeth Tudor. Much of the story is told through the eyes of Catherine and Mary Grey, along with their mother’s best friend, the court painter Levina Teerlinc. Catherine is a bit of a flirt and seeks love and safety in affection. Mary Grey, who was born with a crooked spine and a small stature (which becomes apparent with age) must rely on her wits as she has zero prospects for a marriage. With court intrigue ever threatening to turn them into the reigning monarch’s enemy, these ladies are hard pressed to stay out of trouble.

This was an excellent read. It’s that simple. I loved learning about this little corner of history that I was previously ignorant of. I greatly enjoyed the characters. The plot, while driven by history, was still captivating. While I had heard of Lady Jane Grey an her execution I had never considered her immediate family and what became of them. Her two younger sisters were kept close at court, I expect to see if they had any designs upon the throne that needed to be squelched quickly. Jane’s mother goes on to have a second marriage, one that removes her from court but not from worrying about her remaining daughters. With Mary Tudor on the throne, there is royal intrigue constantly circling the Greys as they have a strong claim to the throne via their Tudor blood.

From the artist Levina we learn some gruesome details about the weekly burnings of heretics as Queen Mary attempts to make the whole of England Catholic. Of course weekly executions are never really useful in maintaining a stable government. Queen Mary needs an heir. From Levina, I got a very good sense of constant tension she and the Greys were in. Those wishing for more religious freedom pushed for another queen, one who could reproduce. However, once Queen Elizabeth takes the throne, the Grey sisters may or may not be in worse circumstances.

With all that said, I believe my favorite character was Mary Grey. She is physically deformed in an age where good looks were associated with the grace of Heaven and bad looks (including birth deformations) were often considered the sign of the Devil. due to Mary’s small stature, she is often treated like an intelligent pet or a doll by the courtiers and the Queen. She is commanded to sit upon the Queen’s knee and keep her entertained with her quips. Mary also has to tolerate the rude remarks by the other court ladies when the Queen isn’t looking. Indeed, her life from a young age looks bleak except for the fact that she will never be eligible to rule England as she can bear no children. No, Mary must use her eyes, ears, and mind to sift her way through decades of court intrigue.

Catherine Grey is also interesting because she had so many love entanglements. She was married at a young age, and pretty much in name only, though the two younglings did their best to sneak a few kisses here and there. With the fall of the Greys from grace (execution of Jane Grey), the marriage was ignored by the parents. Catherine goes through a few years of keeping a few young men dancing on their toes around her. Early on, I found her quite vapid, which suited her character’s actions. But as time went on and life became more serious for her, I found myself getting attached to her character too.

Levina Teerlinc as not quite an anomaly of her time; she earned the bulk of the yearly income with her court paintings and kept her household staffed and fed. In an age where so many women were dependent on a husband or male relative, she stood out in this regard. The author included an afterward in which she explained that very little is known about Levina and she was required to make several educated guesses about Levina’s life. I say she did a very good job and made Levina quite believable.

This book makes history interesting not only for showing what the women were up to, but also capturing how the whim of a monarch can affect so many at this time and place in history. The ending was very satisfying, and there were a few poignant moments that got a little tear from me. That speaks to how attached I became to some of these characters.

The Narration: I think the publisher did the listener a good turn when they decided to employ three narrators for this book. I felt that all the female characters were given greater distinction with the additional narrators. Each of them performed well and feel there was good continuation from one to the other when the point of view shifted. I especially loved the main narrator for Catherine as she caught her often silly and sometimes vapid inner monologue quite well. I truly felt like I was listening to the inner thoughts of a love struck fool.

What I Liked: I feel I am no longer an ignoramus on this facet of history; the characters were excellent; the plot, even knowing the general outline, was still riveting; Mary Grey was a most fascinating character; Levina stood out as being employable and monetarily self-sufficient; the explanatory afterword; the narration.

What I Disliked: No dislikes on this one.

What Others Think:

History and Women

Madame Guillotine

Bibliophile’s Reverie

These Little Words

Historical Novel Society

Tudor Book Reivews

Shiny New Books

Killer Aphrodite

Luxury Reading

Interview & Giveaway: Drew Avera, Author of 2103, Act I

AveraReichHello Dabbers, please welcome Drew Avera to the blog today. I have been enjoying his audiobooks and it is time that others have the opportunity to do so as well. Drew is offering a giveaway of his audiobooks 2103 Act I and Reich. Just scroll to the bottom for details on how to enter. Otherwise, please enjoy the interview where we chat about villains, Falling Skies, dragons versus snakes, comics, and more.

Have you utilized your Navy experience in building your characters and worlds? If so, in what ways?

It’s hard not to take from life experiences and put them into your writing. Typically I will see personality traits from people I’ve met and use some of them in the characters I write. Honestly, some of the biggest a-holes I’ve met have been in the Navy and it helps draw inspiration for antagonists.

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

That’s a tough one because I don’t usually watch anything more than twice. I’m tempted to say Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, but now I’m second guessing myself. On TV Breaking Bad was awesome, but then again I really like shows like Continuum and Falling Skies. I’m also an avid comic book fan and shows like Arrow are fun. Maybe I should pick a book…sorry I can’t pick just one, but I will say that What Savage Beast written by Peter David was the first novel I read that made me love reading. It’s a book featuring The Incredible Hulk. Maybe reliving that experience would be nice.

Avera2103ActIGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

The answer to both is a dragon. After seeing How to Train Your Dragon I would be tempted to try and ride one, but I’m also very afraid of snakes (we have a lot of poisonous snakes where I grew up in Mississippi) and a dragon is like a big snake.

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?

What I think would be cool is a mix between an audiobook and film. It would be hard to pull off for long novels, but I have some science fiction short stories that are being professionally narrated that I plan to create a video for. It would last about 20-30 minutes and have images of characters or maybe even video footage of the character. I could even score music for it and make it as close to a “movie” as possible. Unfortunately I haven’t found the time to put it all together yet to test my theory, but I think it would be fun to watch.

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?

I am horrible at video games and I’m not really into things like Magic: The Gathering so I’m not really sure. I would say live action role playing The Hunger Games would be kind of fun though…unless you’re the first one to die.

AveraDeadPlanetexodusIn my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

Everything I write is founded on a fear. I don’t think it is paranoia, but that’s probably what every paranoid person would say. Anyways, if you look at the story Reich, it is about a German society that lives in a utopian state. They live under the pretense that Hitler won the war and he is now a god-like figure. That’s not reality, but what if people drank the Kool-Aid and believed in that Aryan superiority? I also have a non-existent relationship with my mother which finds its way into creating the character Jenna. I tried to justify her actions with my abandonment issues with my own mother. It wasn’t intentional, but I can see it now that the book is done.

Other books like Dead Planet: Exodus, 2103: The Fall of America, and a new one I’m working on called The Banished are all dystopian books about government corruption. Everyone is potentially a villain in most of my books. There’s that string of paranoia again, but I bet no one thought Rome would fall did they? Seriously though, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that. I just fall prey to answering the “what if” question. And like I said, the foundation is always based on fear.

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I think a good villain has to believe they are the hero. They are fighting for something worthwhile, but maybe the other people are just too ignorant to see it his/her way. I use that method for development most of the time, but sometimes I write crazy serial killers with no legitimate rhyme or reason to their methods. Those people scare me J.

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

Batman, Wolverine,  Pope (from Falling Skies),  Captain Weaver (Falling Skies), and Jesse (from Breaking Bad) because everyone needs someone to poke fun at lol.

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?

Jesse from Breaking Bad was great. He could lighten any serious moment with just one word…”B****!” hahaha.  As far as my characters go I use them just to support the main character in some way. Sometimes they are almost an extension of the main character’s development. It’s kind of hard to explain, but essentially I want all of my characters to grow and I want them to influence each other like real people influence each other. It’s not just experience, but also relationships that shape a personality. I try to keep that in mind when my characters react.

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

I am always working on the next book. I’m moving into different genres now with a set of books that will be more crime thriller based. I’m working on the first Nathan Fox novel called Born to Die and I will follow it up with another called Dead Eye. All of my books are short, action packed, and fast paced. I jokingly say that my books are written for people with ADHD. You can finish my book before something shiny grabs your attention! Growing up with ADHD I struggled with sitting down to read. That’s why comic books were a big part of my life until I discovered books about the very things I was passionate about. Now as an adult I can focus more, but I understand not wanting to be tied down to a five hundred page book.

If anyone is interested in checking out my work you can find my books at www.amazon.com/author/drewavera  and on facebook at www.facebook.com/authordrewavera  I’m active on twitter at www.twitter.com/drewavera and I have a blog where I feature other authors at www.drewavera.wordpress.com  I have many authors on there so there’s a little something for everyone.

Also I have a few free stories here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drewavera if anyone is interested.

Thank you for having me on your blog! I really appreciate it.

Giveaway!!!

Drew is giving away 1 audiobook copy of Reich and 1 audiobook copy of 2103 Act I. You must be able to download via Audible.com. To enter the giveaway, comment below with 1) a way to contact you should you win (email, twitter handle, etc.), 2) Are you able to download Audible.com audiobooks? Yes or no, and 3) Answer this question: What little facet from history would you like to see projected into a future utopian/dystopian story?

The giveaway will run through October 8th, 2014. Good luck everyone!

Places to Stalk Drew Avera

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2103, Act I by Drew Avera

Avera2103ActIWhy I Read It: I enjoyed Avera’s Reich and decided to give this a listen.

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

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy a cautionary note underlying their thriller/suspense stories.

Narrator: Al Kessel

Publisher: Drew Alexander Avera (2014)

Length: 2 hours 31 minutes

Series: Act I of 2103

Author’s Page

As you can probably guess, the year is 2103 and it has been just over 50 years since the second American Civil War. However, this civil war left the USA in 3 separate pieces. This book, Act I, takes place in one of those three – the American Union. Martial law is the usual law with anyone who shares an opinion that is contrary to the government’s is labeled an Outlier. Death usually follows shortly after the label is affixed.

With plenty of suspense and no little amount of action, Avera leads us through this future America in grisly fashion. There’s sorrow, death, selfishness, madness, greed for power, and no little amount of anger. President Caleb Fulton rules everyone and everything with an iron fist, including his actor persona, a man names Stephen he hired to play himself for the public eye. Being wheelchair bound and suffering from a disfiguring illness, he knew the American people would never have elected him president; hence the subterfuge. Stephen and his family live under constant threat from the real Fulton and his shadow administration.

Throughout the book, we see many different viewpoints. As with Reich, everyone is a hero in their own head and this is an aspect I really enjoyed about the book. Some justify their actions more than others. Some simply assume they are a good person, hence all their actions must be the right actions. A few of the characters I thoroughly enjoyed hating on (the real Fulton and this other psycho who I won’t name so as to avoid spoilers) while other characters I could completely sympathize with even though I disagreed with some of their actions (such as the priest). It made for dynamic reading.

My one criticism concerns the female characters. They are love interests, wives, or sex objects. None of them stand alone as an individual character. Rather they are something the men must take care of, rescue, or use in some way. Needless to say, I found their characters to be the least interesting of the story.

This tale has an underlying cautionary note, as did Reich, concerning power unchecked and allowed to blossom (inevitably?) into a brutal tyranny draped in bureaucracy that punishes all but those at the pinnacle of power. Plenty of questions were left open ended for the reader to ponder, and also for a sequel. I hope there is a sequel. After all, not all the bad guys met their deserved end.

Narration: Over all, the narration was good. each character had a distinct voice, the female voices were believable, and the pacing was good. There was one psycho bad guy whose voice I thought was a little over the top, and little too sinister and creepy, so we always knew he was up to no good, but this quickly became apparent and then this creepy voice matched the character’s actions.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: A thought-provoking piece; each character believes they are a hero; the true baddies were delicious to hate on; plenty of room for a sequel.

What I Disliked: The women’s roles were minimal and predictable, and hence, boring.

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

What Others Think:

Scripturience

Hook My Brain

Knife of Dreams, Part VIII

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

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

This week, we covered Chapters 32-End. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) As we predicted, Birgitte was left to rescue Elayne from certain maiming at the hands of the evil Black Sisters. Were you surprised by her solution to Elayne’s capture? What did you think of the way that she manipulated the Windfinders: do you see this causing problems for Elayne in the future?

While I didn’t not even think of the Windfinders as a solution to the captured-once-again Elayne, it makes total sense. Birgitte had to use the resources she had on hand and with the Aes Sedai out of the picture, that left the Windfinders and the Warders.

I expect there will be some initial uproar about being tricked/forced into the fray, but by the time we reach Tarmon Guidon I believe the Windfinders will have realized that they can’t simply sit this one out on their sea ships.

I would be more worried that Elayne’s closest advisers and those that will make up her government will see her as a rash idiot.

2) Arymilla is defeated and Elayne is suddenly alone in her claim to the Lion Throne. Did you expect a more difficult fight for the Far Madding Gate, or did you think that Arymilla’s plan was doomed to fail? What did you think of Elayne’s assessment of Sylvase Caeren: did Lord Nasin’s sudden incapacity surprise you at all?

Since there was this underlying dissension to Arymilla’s forces, I didn’t expect her plan to work. When Elayne was captured, I thought briefly that Arymilla might give her a good fight for the throne, but then Birgitte stepped in and sorted it all out with a forceful hand.

I thought Lord Nasin and this ‘daft’ granddaughter (or niece?) Sylvase were in it together, so I was a little surprised that he was actually removed from the picture. Sylvase seems like a vicious little creature, doesn’t she?

3) We finally get to really meet one of the Ogier Gardeners, who are surprisingly similar to their cousins on this side of the Sea. Were they what you expected or did you expect them to be more violent or aggressive than Loial? What do think that each group of Ogier would think of the other?

Yeah, I expected them to be more militant. We see a little bit that they appreciate hierarchy and proper respect, but I did expect them to be more into warrior codes and warrior way of life.

I think the Randland Ogier are going to be rather upset to meet their Seanchan cousins. After all, they are pretty non-violent unless pressed. They spend most of their time in long-winded talks and deep contemplation. They have taken a much more philosophical approach to life. But this causes problems too as their inaction can lead to death and mayhem just as the Seanchan cousins can bring death and mayhem by blindly following orders.

4) Frankly, I was amazed by the way that Luan and the others capitulated so easily, giving Elayne an uncontested path to the Throne. Were you surprised that we finally saw the resolution of a plotline? Do you think that Ellorien will cause any real trouble, or will she remain loyal to Andor?

Since Arymilla was defeated, the other Houses were looking for an excuse to capitulate. Elayne’s ‘deft’ handling of the ‘invading’ Borderlanders was their excuse. After all, they know that she has some tie to the Dragon Reborn, is a super strong Aes Sedai, is a personal friend to the (contested) Amyrlin Seat, and apparently, has the cooperation of the Windfinders. So, yeah, I would capitulate as soon as I saw a path to do so without losing too much face.

I don’t expect Ellorien to be a problem. I see in this book that several baddies have met their fall from grace and I think this is because we are gearing up for the big challenges. Once the Forsaken and the Dark One start playing hard ball, all the remaining little idiots (for example – Elaida) are going to fall. More and more, folks will realize that Randland must unite, at least temporarily, if there is to be a chance to survive and get back to the constant struggle for world domination.

5) Speaking of resolutions: Mat is married! We knew that it would happen, but how far did your jaw drop when Tuon made her declaration? We learn some of her reasons for saying the words, but do you think that the marriage can survive their positions on opposite sides of the Seanchan invasion?

Even though I really wanted Tuon to say the words this book, I was still surprised when she did it. It wasn’t a romantic moment. It was basically a political move, even if she enjoys kissing him.

Yeah, this is one messed up marriage. Tuon and Mat are on such opposite sides when it comes to the invasion. Tuon believes it is her right to rule Randland, collar all the Channelers, and have everyone be OK with that. Perfectly logical. NOT! And Mat, well, I am totally on his side about this one. Perhaps they can have a long distance relationship? Tuon and the Seanchan can return to Seanchanland where Tuon can rule and enslave people and have everyone be OK with that. Nat can be Rand’s wingman at his wedding to the ladies after Tarmon Guidon.

6) Suroth’s treachery is revealed and Tuon takes direct control of the Return. Did you expect Suroth to be removed so easily? Do you think that the remaining Seanchan nobility, such as Galgan, are loyal to Tuon or do you suspect that further Darkfriends are lurking in their ranks?

No, I didn’t expect Suroth to be that easy to remove. Despite her Darkfriend taint, she seems to still have this Seanchan hierarchy in her blood and can’t so easily, nor openly, break free of it. I expect there are further dissenters, even Darkfriends, among the ranks. How can there not be? Some will surely want to return home and salvage what they can. Others just want to grab power for themselves and see this invasion as a way to do so.

7) Taim ‘welcomes’ a delegation of Reds looking to find Warders. Does Taim’s demeanor, trappings and attitude give you any hint that he might NOT be a Very Bad Man? Do you expect the Red Sisters to leave the Black Tower alive and will any asha’man agree to Bonding?

Ooo! This is a very bad thing indeed. Logain and his crew have bonded sisters, but they are not evil like Taim. If Taim and his like-minded asha’men have bonded aes sedai (because I totally expect Taim to turn the tables and forcibly bond the ladies to his trusted men), then Taim has that much more power for taking out whoever he sets his eyes on. I think he has been glaring at Rand for the past 4 books, so if I was Rand, I would be concerned.

Other Tidbits:

I thought it interesting that Elayne and Birgitte and the rest of the ‘adults’ all have this idea in their heads about what age is appropriate for a young ruler to join in battle. No one likes having kids killed in battle, but sooner or later, everyone is going to be involved in the fracas, right?

Ogiers can be hurt by name calling – makes their ears droop. Poor things.

Guest Post: Christmas Wrapping the Cat by Stephen Kozeniewski

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesDabbers, please welcome Stephen Kozeniewski back to the blog, author of Braineater Jones, a zombie mystery noir with more than one twist. You can catch my review of Braineater Jones over HERE and my interview with Stephen over HERE. Today Stephen is here to share some very funny, and perhaps incriminating, pictures of his cats. Oh, and yes, we will try to talk about his books a little too.

I was in charge of Christmas wrapping the cat….and other impossible feats by Stephen Kozeniewski

Anyone who knows me even slightly knows of my immense love of cats. Specifically my two cats, Nibbler and Felix.

KozeniewskiCats1

An Eternal Love

In fact, my Facebook profile photo is of me and Nibbler right now. Nibbler is just over one year old and still in her cute stage. This is somewhat offset by also still being in her “pooping outside the box” stage, but I digress.

Felix just turned ten, so for the vast majority of his life, he was an only fur-child, and was treated as such (and grew used to such treatment.) In fact we largely justified the second cat because we felt like he needed a playmate.

And why did our dear, beloved feline need a playmate? Well, true enough that my wife and I both work, so Felix was spending eight hours or so a day finding things to knock off of shelves instead of cuddling with his owners. So part of it was to keep him from getting bored (read: destructive.) But a second, and perhaps larger segment of this concern was the entire 22 lbs of his bulk.

More Of Me To Love

More Of Me To Love

Yes, our dear, sweet Felix is larger than most cats. And dogs. And some of the sportier European sedans. We hoped a second cat would encourage him to exercise a bit. You can imagine, I suppose, what it’s like trying to get a cat the size of a car tire to do something he doesn’t want to do.

Nevertheless, three or four times a year we go through the futile exercise of trying to dress him up for various holidays. Most times we manage to furtively jam a costume onto him and take pictures until one, usually by accident, turns out.

Rudolph was the hap-hap-happiest reindeer.

Rudolph was the hap-hap-happiest reindeer.

I think when Susan asked me to write this guest post about “Christmas wrapping the cat” she meant it as a metaphor. You know, like “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” or “the better angels of our nature.” Little did she realize, I suppose, that I actually DO have to Christmas wrap the cat every year.

Last year was the worst. I got a wild hair up my ass that we should have a professional photo done for the Christmas card. I take 100% responsibility for this one. The problem is that Felix does not care for other human beings. Not a one of them. And you remember what I said about trying to get 1 ½ stones of cat to do what he doesn’t want to do.

Literally, all we had to do was get Felix to sit still for long enough to get one decent picture. My wife and I were dressed up, and we decided to eschew the entire reindeer costume in favor of just the jingle bell collar, hoping it would calm him.

It did not. He did not care to sit still for even a portion of a second as our photographer friend attempted to take picture after picture.

At 220 lbs (according to my driver’s license) I should, theoretically be able to calm a cat 1/10th my size. Not so. In fact, in the following photo, you can see how badly he shredded up my hand:

Photo Credit: George Griffo (https://www.facebook.com/griffography)

Photo Credit: George Griffo (https://www.facebook.com/griffography)

KozeniewskiBillyAndThenCloneasaurusSo, yes, sadly, for me Christmas wrapping the cat is not a metaphor, but, in fact, an annual chore that results in holiday cheers of pain and colorful ribbons of blood, usually my own. Thanks to Susan for having me and I hope you’ll all check out my newest novel, BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, which somehow I haven’t managed to mention this entire post, so I’ll just jam it in here at the end.

Stephen – thank you so much for stopping by the blog and sharing your fat, ornery cat story!

Places to Stalk Stephen Kozeniewski

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Hand of Chaos by J. Hamlet

HamletHandofChaosWhy I Read It: I really enjoy the theme of government sanctioned arcane/paranormal beastie hunters.

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

Who I Recommend This To: Like your detective novels with a heavy dose of the magical and paranormal? Check this book out.

Publisher: Createspace (2013)

Length: 311 pages

Series: Volume 1 Chaos Theology

Author’s Page

Set in modern day Washington DC, Anna Wei is a government employee. But not a boring employee with a boring job. No, she uses arcane powers to track down paranormal baddies. And she is not alone. She is part of an entire team that does this sort of thing for a paycheck. Of course, they can’t really talk about their work outside of their organization, which might explain why Anna can be quite the weeknight party animal she is; she is seeking companionship but also fears it. So she settles for some drunken sport sex here and there and lives with the hangovers.

And today, at 530AM, she is dealing with a hangover as she heads off to fight a nest of zombies. Wish her luck!

And that is just the opening folks. This was a fun urban fantasy that employs the right mix of magic and nitty gritty detective work. Anna was easy to connect with because she wasn’t perfect and occasionally, knowingly, made bad decisions. Her partner Roy, a paladin blessed with (or cursed with) immortality brought some weightiness to the storyline with his age and experience. A summoner, a shaman, a wizard (Ayham), and a shapeshifter also played parts in the story (though I don’t want to spoil anything for you).

And Anna uses body jewelry/adornments to spell cast. I really liked this aspect because we start out getting to know Anna a little bit (her over indulgences, her job of saving the world) and then Hamlet throws in all the body piercings. We, the readers, don’t judge her first by her body modifications, and hey, they are work related. If I had a nose piercing that helped combat local paranormal baddies, I would wear it all the time. Except during a fist fight.

Speaking of baddies, our biggest antagonist of the story was Ethan. Now Ethan has a sponsor, a demon from Hell named Plague, so he can’t be given all the credit for every little bad thing that happens in this book. I quite enjoyed hating on these two, even though I started off a bit sympathetic to Ethan. After all, he is trying to avenge the death of his brother, even if he loses himself in the process.

My two criticisms are small. There were some typos throughout the book, so it could have used one more round of editing to give it that polish. Also, the cover art doesn’t really portray the book well. I see the government authority on the cover, but where is all the arcane stuff?

All in all, a fun read and I look forward to seeing what this author does next.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: Anna’s mistakes, even though she is the main hero; Anna’s team of sometimes misfits; the body ornamentation as work required; Ethan and his back story.

What I Disliked: Needs another round of editing; the cover art didn’t do it for me.

I am participating in the yearly reading event R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. I will count Hand of Chaos as my dark fantasy read for the R.I.P. challenge.

What Others Think:

Check out the blog tour organized by Masquerade Tours for more reviews, interviews.

GIVEAWAY!!!

There is a giveaway for this tour. A $50 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.

Open Internationally. Ends 9/15. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Places to find J. Hamlet

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerCarl from Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting another awesome reading event. I have thoroughly enjoyed R.I.P. in the past and look forward to doing so again this year. Anyone can join this event and the primary purpose is to have fun, so no pressure.

This year, the group read is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. One again, The Estella Society is hosting the group read. Right now, I am planning to participate in this, but I have been having some trouble with my eyes. Don’t worry, I probably just need a new prescription and I see the eye doctor tomorrow, and will hopefully have new glasses within 2 weeks. But because of that, I am hesitant to commit to a reading level this year. Instead, I am just going to keep it open ended and enjoy the fun.

I do have some audiobooks lined up to listen to as I beat out some rugs on a loom.

A few Kathy Reichs books kicking around – Temperance Brennan series

Points of Origin by Darden North

Contamination by T. W. Piperbrook

Double Forte by Aaron Paul Lazar

Provided I simply need new glasses and I can get back into eyeball reading like I am used to:

The Cistern by Lorne Oliver

The Wish List by Gabi Stevens

Vampires of the Scarlet Order by David Lee Summers

Dragon’s Fall by David Lee Summers