The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith

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

Narrator: Paul Hodgson

Publisher: Self published (2013)

Length: 7 hours 41 minutes

Series: Book 1 Overlord

Author’s Page

Zabdas tells us his story, that which is closely entwined with his relative, Zenobia. Palmyra, the jewel of Syria, is ruled by Odenanthus, a client king of the Roman empire. While he guards the frontier from the Persians, Rome refuses to send additional aid. Zenobia and her father, Julius Zenobius, feel it is time for Syria to stand on it’s own.

This is an exceptionally engaging historical fiction. Zabdas’s story was exciting, full of his own plight (going from slave to warrior), strained family relations, and the politics between Rome and Palmyra. His tale is told in a back and forth manner, his present day where he is a grandfather and a respected, aged warrior, and his past told through a memoir he is writing and his granddaughter is reading. I found it fascinating to see the young, unsure Zabdas versus the confident, aged warrior.

Before reading this book, I knew little of the Palmyrene Empire (I could spell it and I knew Palmyra was Syrian) and even less about Zenobia. I had no problems getting caught up in the story and learning as I went. The reader does not have to be versed in the times or area to follow this tale. It was delightfully educational.

Zabdas’s uncle, Julius is an interesting figure, being polite and gentile but also knowing when to be a bit cutthroat. He also has his fair share of secrets. So does his daughter, Zenobia. She is regal in her bearing, but also strong-willed. Various male leaders have a hard time tossing her out of meetings without looking the fool. She keeps her personal political agenda close to her chest until near the end of the book. Since we don’t get to spend time in her head, we must guess her motives, as Zabdas does.

I enjoyed every minute of this book and had a hard time putting it down, like for a few hours of necessary sleep. I am very much hoping Book 2 comes to audio.

The Narration: Paul Hodgson was the perfect fit for Zabdas. He did a great job switching back and forth from the unsure youthful Zabdas to the seasoned war veteran Zabdas. There are only a handful of female characters in this book, it being of a small cast. Hodgson had a nice female voice, but I found that all the ladies sounded alike. If two were talking together, I had to pay close attention most of the time to follow who was talking.  Hodgson had a variety of accents that added to the over all flavor of the book. 

What I Liked: Cover art; Zabdas is a fascinating character; I like that the cast was kept relatively small; educational and entertaining!; political intrigue; sword fights; so ready to jump into Book 2!

What I Disliked: The narrated female voices often sounded alike, so I had to pay extra attention when a scene had 2 or more of them chatting.

What Others Think:

Life, Love & Conflict in the Hill Country

Historical Novel Society

A Bookish Affair

Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Author of Dinosaur Lake

GriffithDinosaurLakeFolks, please slap your eyeballs together for an entertaining interview with the talented Kathryn Meyer Griffith. I have enjoyed a few books of hers so far (The Nameless One & Dinosaur Lake) and have a few more queued up. Today we chat about writing in the horror genre for decades, family, cover art, and much more! Enjoy!

(1) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d like to interview Edgar Allan Poe. He had such a tragic, short life and to this day the real reason for his death is a mystery in itself. Was it drink, drugs or suicide? I think of him as one of the early horror/mystery genre writers. I’d love to talk to him and know what his life had really been like. If he was as unhappy as history sometimes portrays him and why he decided to write the macabre and mysterious. Also at twenty-six he married his thirteen year old cousin. Wouldn’t the social networks and media have a field day with that these days?

GriffithTheNamelessOne(2)  Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I usually don’t or I breeze over them as a quick mention. Travel is easy to express; you only hit the highlights. People know, as humans, we have physical needs so why dwell on them in a novel unless they’re really necessary to the story or plot; most times they aren’t. Also, in my early writing days in the 1980s I bent to the times and my publishers’ pushy editors and sometimes put cuss words in my books. I was up against Stephen King, Koontz and others and they cursed in their novels, so I thought I had to also. Though I rarely used curse words myself in my real life. But as the years and books went by I stopped using the heavy curse words or profanity, because I wanted my novels to be read by people of all ages, and now days I hardly use more than a damn or a hell once and a while. I let a character’s actions depict their frustration or anger, not profanity.

GriffithDinosaurLakeII(3) Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Ha, ha…a lot of them. I’m afraid I’m one of these authors that like to read what’s current in fiction or my genres and not the real old stuff. I did read some of the old classics in high school as most kids did, but since I’ve been too busy writing to read anything I don’t really want to read…and the ancient works are some of what I don’t feel like reading. This is a secret I’ve kept for decades, but now I’m too old to care what others think of me. Writing good stories are all I care about. I was born a storyteller so all I feel I have to do is tell my stories.

GriffithHumanNoLonger(4) If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

In my life I’ve been, and am, an artist and when I was very young I sang out with my brother, Jim. Folk duo in the sixties and then in a few classic rock bands. Then I got married (way too young), got pregnant and dropped out for a while. Started writing out of despair and loneliness. My brother went on to sing out professionally, along with the real day job, as I had, for over thirty years and I went deeper into my art – I was a graphic artist for twenty-three years in the corporate world – and from age twenty-one on into my writing. I really loved singing but I wasn’t good enough (my brother always said) to do it for a living. Good thing. I wouldn’t have twenty-three novels, two novellas, twelve short stories published and eighteen audio books (soon to be twenty) if I would have continued on with the singing or the art career. But I had a passion for singing and miss it to this day. And my brother? He was a gifted musician and songwriter for over forty years but he’s been battling esophageal cancer the last two and can no longer sing or play. He’s such a brave man, but he misses the music, too. BUT if I couldn’t be any of those three, heck, I’d probably be broke and homeless because I’m a storyteller and that’s all I can be/want to be.

GriffithDinosaurLakeIII(5) 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?

I’m a neat freak. Always have been. Everything has a place in my house and it stays there. I hate messes. I got that from my mother. She always said, “We might be poor but at least we can be neat and clean.” And that went for our home as well. And I’m the same way with my home now. I’m very organized and I don’t abide clutter. I like to write on my laptop in my living room, TV on for company and a fire in the fireplace, sitting on my plush sofa with a hot cup of my chocolate coffee on the side table. I used to write at a stationary computer in a writing room, but it felt too much like work, so these days I like the comforts of my front room. If I had a deck with a view (trees not neighbors) I’d write out there on nice days, yet I don’t have a deck. Darn. I also like to be totally alone when I write. It’s easier to go into my make-believe worlds and live what I’m writing.

GriffithEvilStalksTheNight(6) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Beats me. Are you talking about five of MY characters or someone else’s? I can’t right now off the top of my head pick five other author’s characters (except maybe the five main characters in Stephen King’s masterpiece end-of-the-world novel The Stand…which would be neat) but if I had to pick five of MY characters I would pick the main five from my apocalyptic end-of-days saga A Time of Demons. One’s an angel, Manasseh; one’s a demon, Rayner; main character Cassandra and her cohorts, her singer-songwriter brother, Johnny; a carnival clown named Walter; his psychic girlfriend Sarah; and another demon-fighter named Obadiah – all warriors for God fighting demons in the end days as the Rapture approaches. Now I’d LOVE to go on that journey with them in their RV all across the country and fight the good fight with the swords given them by the angels. And I’d have my homemade chocolate coffee with them and maybe bake them a chocolate cake, too. They fight hard so they could use the treats.

GriffithWitches(7) 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? 

Since I’ve been writing now for over forty-three years and published since 1984, I do get people who say: “I read your 1993 book Witches when I was in high school, ages ago, and have never forgotten it.” Or someone will email me and gush over my very first horror novel published in 1984, Evil Stalks the Night, and how much they loved it…as a kid. Makes me feel so old but it’s also flattering that they remember one of my books decades later. I love it.

GriffithNightCarnival(8) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I’m going to be absolutely truthful…there are lots of great covers out there, too many to list, but my favorite are the covers Dawne Dominique has done for me the last five years. They’re amazing, especially my Dinosaur Lake covers. And yes I also believe a cover, and a good blurb, is a necessity for selling books, particularly self-published books. I’ve had so many awful covers when I had no choice in the matter with my legacy publishers, but now I get to pick and design my own (because I started self-publishing in 2012)  and Dawne seems to read my mind she’s so good. To me a great cover not only conveys the essence of a novel but has dynamic colors and a haunting ambiance. It’s got to jump out at you, bite you and then haunt you after it’s gone.

GriffithTheLastVampire(9) What do you do when you are not writing?

Lately (since 2010) I’ve been so busy bringing out my old novels, rewriting, writing new stories and working with narrator/producers creating the audio books that I have had little spare time for anything else. I hope to be able to slow down when all my books (fifteen are still with a publisher until 2015-2017) are finally self-published and I completely own their rights and have them all out again. But I try to spend time with my husband, of thirty-six years, and my family. I have five siblings and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, especially Jim. I love TV. Dramas and PBS or BBC America mysteries. Game of Thrones type stuff. Star Trek. I like to go to the movies. I love to read, of course. Horror and murder mysteries or anything spooky. I like to bake, sugar cookies and chocolate chip being my favorites, and I enjoy walking in the woods and marveling at nature. Colorful sunsets, ocean or lake vistas can mesmerize me. They give me a sense of peace that as I’ve gotten older soothes me.

GriffithEgyptianHeart(10) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I remember, way back in the dark ages of the mid 1950s, reading the Dick and Jane Primer books and having such a feeling of accomplishment being able to decipher them. I was very young and I had no trouble reading the words. I was so good at it as well as spelling. I loved reading from then on. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, going to the library for free books because my family was so poor, and developed a great love and respect for the written word and authors. But one of the earliest recreational books I ever read that left a real impression on me was a novel called Smokey. I’ve looked it up recently but it no longer exists and what a pity. It was about this horse and all the travails of its life. So many sad things happened to the horse but in the end the animal came home and grew old happily. It was so poignant it made me cry. I never forgot that book and years later it was one of the reasons I became an author myself. Imagine – being able to make people feel something that much that they cried, or laughed or grew angry. Now that was power. When I was young I thought authors were gods. Now I know they aren’t, they’re just people – storytellers – like me.

Thanks for having me here, Susan and Dab of Darkness.

And thank you Kathryn!

A short author bio:

KathrynMeyerGriffithAuthorKathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before she quit to write full time. But she’d already begun writing novels at twenty-one, over forty-four years ago now, and has had twenty-two (10 romantic horror, 2 horror novels, 2 romantic SF horror, 1 romantic suspense, 1 romantic time travel, 1 historical romance, 2 thrillers, and 3 murder mysteries) novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press; she’s self-published her last 7 novels with Amazon Kindle Direct. Her Dinosaur Lake novels and Spookie Town Mysteries are her best-sellers. She’s been married to Russell for thirty-six years; has a son and two grandchildren. She has one cat, Sasha, and the three of them live happily in an old house in the heart of a small quaint town in Illinois. Though she’s been an artist, and a singer in her youth with her brother Jim, writing has always been her greatest passion, her butterfly stage, and she’ll probably write stories until the day she dies…or until her memory goes. 2012 & 2014 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for The Last VampireRevised Author’s Edition and Dinosaur Lake.

Places to Find Kathryn & Her Books

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s books can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/ld4jlow

All her 18 Audible.com audio books here:

http://tinyurl.com/oz7c4or

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Meyer-Griffith/579206748758534  

Personal Site:

http://www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/889499.Kathryn_Meyer_Griffith

High Midnight by Rob Mosca

MoscaHighMidnightWhere I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Bernard Setaro Clark

Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (2014)

Length: 8 hours 3 minutes

Author’s Page

What do psychotic clowns, cryptid chimeras, drunk sheriffs, Russian novel reading monkeys, ghostly lovers, and zombies have in common? Not much beyond this book. Set in modern day, Unity, Texas is a place to the unwanted, drunk, and those not wanting to be found to disappear. Laredo Beaumont, the sheriff, takes his job seriously, especially the napping and drinking part. At least, until the day a murder of clowns shows up.

This is one of the oddest books I have ever read. I knew it was a mishmash of genres and plot devices going into it, but the various elements pulled in was beyond expectations. And the author made it all work beautifully. I was constantly entertained, usually surprised, and left wanting more. I hear rumors there is a second book in the making and I have my fingers crossed that is true.

The book starts off with psychotic clowns. Admittedly, it does jump around quickly from clown to clown, and often with swift punches of flashbacks showing a little bit of why that clown is now with a sadistic gaggle of clowns on a near deserted highway. Don’t be put off by this because the point of view settles down after that and gives a good story, with a few flashbacks here and there. The viewpoints do change throughout the tale, but we get to spend enough time with each character that the reader has time to connect with them.

I found Unity to be a fascinating town, especially all the problems they have with the cryptids such as the chupacabra and jackalope chimeras. The biologist in me wanted to do a summer study course in Unity. The half with the common sense knew we would have to get lost in a desert teeming with the shuffling undead. The zombies don’t feature heavily in this book, but do have a little key part to play.

Laredo and Sally Mae were my two favorite characters, one being a drunk authority figure and the other a ghostly bordello lass. They both kick ass in their own ways. And there is one sex scene. It is smoking hot, literally. There are flames involved. And a luchadero mask. Haha! Hooray for Mexican wrestling! That little detail gave me a good laugh, and yet, it really worked with the character.

Yes, there is a deputy sheriff. His name is Cicero, a chimpanzee. He wields knives and reads dreary Russian literature. Periodically, he smashes up the one and only bar, which is owned by the mayor of the town. She doesn’t appreciate such antics; hence, he has a job and has to keep it to work off his binges. Toss in the clowns (like Kiss me Kate) and some other town characters (the mayor’s bathrobe attired husband) and you have a very eclectic cast.

The plot was pretty straight forward. The clowns have been gallivanting about the country side looking for a specific person, someone they feel they need to payback (like by breaking said person’s kneecaps). In Unity, the sheriff struggles with the big question: why am I here? While he wrestles with that, all these other characters are just going about their lives, until some clowns with questionable makeup skills arrive in town. Really, the plot gave this backbone for all these character to play together on. I am fine with that because it was damn entertaining!

Narration: Bernard Setaro Clark was a good fit for this book. He had a variety of voices (and you definitely needed that for this book). His female voices were totally believable. Luckily, we weren’t treated to any monkey screeches. He had no hesitancy with the evil clowns or the love scene.

What I Liked:  The cover art; luchadero masks; such a variety in the cast of characters!; the hot love scene; the ladies have plot-related roles; the monkey has a Russian accent; cryptids; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – I really, really enjoyed this book!

What Others Think:

SFF Audio

I Have an Opinion on Almost Everything

Jezner.com

Zombie Blood Fights

Cassie Carnage’s House of Horror

Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

Heldig, my most evil cat.

Heldig, my most evil cat.

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

Narrator: Dion Graham

Publisher: HighBridge (2015)

Length: 6 hours 54 minutes

Author’s Page

Ronnie Bottoms and Lorraine Fell crash together in just the right place to activate the Silver Box, a box that the Laz (an alien race) placed on the Earth long before humans and which contains & constrains the last of a most powerful and destructive sentient force. Together, they struggle to contain what they inadvertently have set loose in order to save the entire planet.

I don’t like this book and I really did want to like this book. It is my first Walter Mosley book and I have heard great things about his work. HighBridge Audio is a quality publisher and the narrator, Dion Graham, is awesome. The cover art is intriguing. The story itself was a clash of themes and ideas that never melded into a coherent plot line. Quite frankly, I was bored with it.

First, Ronnie is a serial mugger and rapist. He has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. He ‘meets’ Lorraine in a New York City park when he attempts to mug and rape her. She fights back and he reacts harshly, killing her. This all happens in an area that is full of small boulders and large rocks and is right over the resting place of the Silver Box. Once Lorraine is dead, the Silver Box preserves her consciousness and this allows her to take over other bodies and eventually get Ronnie to return to the scene of the crime. At that point, using the power of the Silver Box, he has the greatest orgasmic experience of his life in bringing Lorraine’s dead, bloated corpse back to life, and in fine shape.

So we get all that very early on in the book. Ronnie and Lorraine have now become our heroes set on saving the Earth. They have been set upon a quest and given special powers. And they decide they need to visit family, friends, and folks from their past in order to hash some stuff out. Uh… wasn’t there a time limit for their quest? I kept waiting for the story to veer back towards the cool scifi part that involves aliens and saving the Earth. That is almost completely sidelined until the very end, which is hugely anticlimactic and not satisfying at all.

Next, Ronnie is now one of our heroes. Mr. Serial Rapist is going to save the Earth. He has completely turned over a new leaf (in record time from one scene to the next) and now sees that all those horrible things he did were wrong. He no longer has all the anger and hunger inside. So he digs up an old teacher to chat about the old days, stumbles into an old girlfriend, and crashes at Lorraine’s swanky uptown penthouse, complete with weekly maid service. He never visits his victims to redress his past ill deeds. I had a hard time routing for him because of his past bad behavior and also because he is not being very proactive in saving the world.

Lorraine wasn’t much better. She comes from a privileged family and she has to struggle with realizing that turning your head and looking the other way is wrong, especially when you have the power and money to make a difference. She has a shouting match with her parents, who threaten to stop making payments on her penthouse. So, Lorraine doesn’t work and isn’t paying for her upkeep at all, and that doesn’t change by the end of the book. I found her character to be boring because her circumstances didn’t change, so her behavior didn’t have to change much either.

Lastly, there is sex, and then there isn’t. Ronnie initially attempts to rape Lorraine, and once she returns to the land of the living, she has some choice words to say to him about that. But then they get super powers and there are 2 scenes in the book where they kind of have sex. And yet they think of each other as akin to siblings since the Silver Box changed them. So that added a yuck factor to their sexytimes, plus that whole attempted rape thing starting off their acquaintance.

So with all that, I had this feeling that perhaps the author was attempting to mash together opposing themes that would intentionally make the reader uncomfortable. Yes, I left this book feeling like I had been put through some kind of social experiment and then tossed out the back door with my meager compensation for my time – the pleasure of writing up this review.

The Narration: While I didn’t care for this book, Dion Graham was an amazing narrator. His voice is deep and smooth and a joy to listen to. He had dialects for the various New Yorkers and a range of male and female voices. The audio production was excellent.  

What I Liked: Excellent narration; cool cover art.

What I Disliked: I never connected with the main characters; the cool scifi element took a back seat to the boring philosophy lesson on good and evil; the ending was supremely anticlimactic and totally unsatisfying; very awkward sexytimes.

What Others Think:

Book Reporter

Two Serpents Rise – Part I

GladstoneTwoSerpentsRisingHello everyone! Welcome to the Two Serpents Rise read along! You can catch the schedule over HERE. Feel free to join us int he comments if you like!

This week, I’m your host, so make sure to swing by everyone else’s blog to see what everyone else thinks.

1) Poison in the Bright Mirror reservoir! What are your thoughts on the infestation? Then an explosion later on! Any ideas of who is the culprit yet? Are the two events related?

Wow! So the zemet (spelling?) infestation sounds like a real bugger. I like how the infestation is explained, and also how the folks who run the reservoir expected such a thing to happen eventually. What? They things pop up in other reservoirs? Have they occurred in this one before and it is something that has to be wiped out once a decade? Still, they are some cool beasties to throw into the mix.

I definitely think the poisoning and the explosion are related. I also think that whoever is behind it is using both Mal (for showing the way past security) and Timok (spelling) because of his past ill deeds and his political views. I would venture to guess further that 1) someone with a lot of power is behind it (so either the Red King or Alaxic) and 2) Mal’s shark tooth pendant was present at both sites, and I wonder if someone is using it as a conduit to conduct ill deeds. Now that Caleb as the pendant, we shall see if bad luck follows him around.

2) Let’s talk about Mal and the sport of cliff running. Care to compare this sport to one here in our real world? What do you think Mal gets out of the sport?

Cliff running made me think of parkour, of course. And also the slightly less crazy tradition of palo volador (pole flying). In the video below, skip ahead to about 3 minutes in to see the action start.

I think Mal gets several things out of the sport. We’ve seen a few hints that she comes from a more privileged side of town, so perhaps this is her freedom, where she can call all the shots, and suffer all the consequences. Her life is her own when she trains and competes.

3) Are you enjoying the deities and culture this book is infused with? Has any of the architecture wowed or frightened you?

I am really loving the world this story is set in. I’ve lived most of my life in New Mexico, which has vestiges and echoes of the ancient Toltec and Aztec cultures, so may of the proper nouns and myths sound familiar to me.

I will say some of the buildings and the way some things are done have been a little daunting. There are plenty of pyramids throughout the city, pyramids that not too long ago were used for regular sacrifice. And the description of the city’s slaughterhouse with the sharpened, whirling wires was pretty horrendous.

4) The Red King is a pretty serious guy. Will he make the deal with Alaxic concerning the powerhouses known as Achel & Aquel?

I think the Red King desires power more than anything these days, because it seems that is all that is left to him. So I expect he is feeling out multiple ways to gain control over the sister serpents. I am not sure Alaxic will make the deal, as I am not sure he would get what he wants out if it. He seems like the kind of guy who enjoys flaunting his power or a pretty item about to see who else is interested and then lead them on, never intending to give it up.

5) Finally, Caleb has a wealth of scars, linguistic skills, and a complex relationship with his father. Discuss!

Caleb is definitively a most fascinating main character. I think his father raised him to be a high priest, hence the linguistic skills and most likely the scars (which I think will turn out to be ceremonial). At some point, Caleb obviously decided that repeated, and perhaps mass, ceremonial human sacrifice was wrong for so may reasons and turned his back on it. In order to do that, it seems he had to turn his back on his father and certain aspects of his father’s culture. I can’t tell yet if the author will try to mend that rend in this book, or let it stand as simply the way things will be. Honestly, I am not sure how one would mend the damage caused by repeated human sacrifice.

Other Tidbits:

I am really enjoying Teo as Caleb’s best buddy. She’s smart, a good listener, and has a sense of humor when it comes to watching out for Caleb. Also, I love that we have a secondary character that is all these things, and also happens to be lesbian. Hooray for integration in fantasy literature!

There are lots of intense conversations in Part 1 of the book – Caleb talking with Mal over the sharktooth pendant (sexual tension), Caleb chatting with his dad (all sorts of anger and perhaps love), the Red King chatting at Caleb (power and fear and perhaps regret flowing through that conversation), etc. Its excellent that the conversations add so much to the story and aren’t simply filler and fluff.

Below are the blogs participating:

Lauren – Violin in a Void
Heather – The Bastard Title (who will be in and out as time allows)
Ria – Bibliotropic
Susan (me) – Dab of Darkness

The Ice Captain’s Daughter by S. G. Rogers

RogersIceCaptain'sDaughterWhere I Got It: Won a copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Rachel F. Hirsch

Publisher: Idunn Court Publishing (2014)

Length: 3 hours 45 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in Victorian England, Miss Jillian Roring, daughter to the ice captain and merchant Mr. Roring, is headed off to her first season in London. Unfortunately, there is failed kidnapping en route and she must seek assistance from the nearest estate, that of Logan. What ensues is a mess of flirting, confused signals, mild insults, and misunderstandings.

I will admit that it was the title that drew me into this book. The job of an ice captain has to be exciting, and I had pictures in my head of the daughter wrapped in furs, big rock pick in hand, hammering away at a small iceberg as the men of the ship collected the chunks and stowed them away in the hold. Alas, the captain is barely mentioned in this book, and his profession is only discussed by snide gossips who find his career far beneath them. Of course, they are sipping ice chilled drinks as they do this.

I think that if you like Jane Austen’s works, you wold enjoy this book. It is a sweet tale of two people struggling through their own fears and desires, London society’s strict rules of propriety, and vicious gossip. If that all sounds like your cup of tea, then check this book out. It is well written with a decent pacing. There is also a little sub-plot dealing with the failed kidnapping that added some dimensionality to the our main character, Jillian.

Unfortunately for me, I have never been much of a Jane Austen fan and so this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. I find all the gossip and people pushing against London society’s unspoken rules to be tedious and a bit boring. Also, none of our characters work for a living (except the ice captain, who we see so very little of) so their lives seem small to me.

The ending was sweet. I think romantics will enjoy it. Of course we know from early on that they must get together by the end, because that is how these books go. The amusement was in watching how they figured everything out.

The Narration: Rachel Hirsch was a good fit for this book. Most of the tale is from Jillian’s point of view and Hirsch had a nice, proper English accent for her. She also had dialects for the servants. Her range of male and female voices served this book well. 

What I Liked: Pacing of story was good; sweet ending; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Predictable; most of plot is driven by gossip and fear of gossip; has almost nothing to do with the ice captain.

What Others Think:

Romantic Historical Reviews

Books Are Sanity

Grandmother Maelkevejen’s Belly by C. S. MacCath

MacCathGrandmotherMaelkevejen's BellyWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: C. S. MacCath

Publisher: Triskele Media Press (2015)

Length: 55 minutes

Author’s Page

They lost a group of folks precious to them and now they dance and trance, attempting to communicate with them, hoping there is still someone left to communicate with. At the galactic core there is the grandmother of all black holes. Some folks drifted too close to the edge. Now the people left argue back and forth about whether they are dead or not, whether they can be rescued or not.

This is a rich and dense novelette, full of characters that obviously have back stories. The reader is tossed into the middle of a years-old debate, showing the hopeful and usually drug addled dreamers who believe their long-lost friends & relatives life on and the more scientifically-minded bureaucrats who way the odds and find them wanting. Over time, a percentage of the population has begun to suffer from various diseases – some are born with functional eyes but lack the connection to brain, and other afflictions. Humanity is dwindling with each generation. So they dance & trance, argue & survey, and stay in the area.

This is such a dense story, I highly recommend that you give it your focus in order to get the most out of it. Since you are tossed right in to the middle of things, you need to pay attention to work out what is going on. That said, it is highly worth your time. The characters and story line are well written. I love that there is so much that went on before we enter the story, as it gives this tale a full-rounded feeling. The character have agendas and hopes. They have history with one another, and with generations past. Dive into this tale and enjoy!

The Narration: C. S. MacCath narrated her own book and I am usually wary of books narrated by the author. However, with this audiobook, set aside all such concerns. She has a range of voices for both female and male characters and does a good job of imbuing the text with emotions when needed. It was a well made audio. 

What I Liked: I simply love the title because it is so unusual; the cover art; a rich, dense story; the ending was satisfying.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I found this story quite enjoyable!