Abaddon’s Gate Part III

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 27-40, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. So, Ashford is a deranged man with a military force and a religious nut backing him up. Do you think the counter-coup will stick (or even stick together)?

I’m not sure how this counter-coup will play out. I recall that Bull had that Mars mech armor locked up good but I don’t recall where, but I expect those suits will come into play and would change the tide for whoever got their hands on them.

As for Ashford and Cortez being able to hold together this counter-coup, well, I think it depends on who’s the more unstable. If they are about equal, then, yes, they will hold together. If at some point either one of them does a drastic thing that makes the other reconsider his current path, then they will fall apart.

2. So we’re asking this question every week now. It’s a thing, okay? Where are you with the new characters NOW?

There’s some things I like about Anna, like her going over to the Roci and saving the crew (sort of) but then I don’t click with her naivete that all can be solved with love, compassion, and forgiveness. In a day to day setting, I would just shrug my shoulders and go on but here in this extreme situation, I’m not convinced she’s doing humanity a favor.

Melba/Clarissa – wow! OK, someone walked into the deep end and forgot how to float.

Tilly, while a secondary character, is awesome in some ways. I like that she’s willing to share her extravagance and for some reason I like that she’s trying to take Clarissa under her wing as best she can.

Bull – man! I love this guy. He’s so practical and interesting. Even though he’s bullheaded, such as refusing the medical coma, he sees that the ship (even the fleet) may need a strong leader. And that’s proven true with the counter-coup in progress.

3. Confronted by Anna, the crew of the Rocinante have a big decision to make. What do you make of their response(s)?

I’m OK with the crew keeping things quiet for now. It would only serve to anger an already stirred up hornet’s nest. Also, I’m pretty sure Clarissa isn’t playing with a full deck of cards at this point so executing her would bring all sorts of ethical questions into play.

Of course Naomi forgave her because that’s what she does.

I think when the crew said they owed Anna anything they weren’t expecting this. But I also think that out of all of them, Amos really meant it so when Anna asked for them to keep things about Clarissa quiet for now, it was easy for him to say Yes.

4. So Miller’s back then, and it’s all falling apart. Predictions for the finale? Will they get home?

I really don’t know how things are going to play out. In an earlier post, I said that I totally expected the crew to get back to the Solar System but now I’m not sure if that’s how things will end with this book. I don’t expect them all to die and I don’t expect them to be stuck at this big alien way station for the rest of the series, but they might be trapped here for a time, especially if Ashford and Cortez get the automated alien police all pissed.

Other Tidbits:

It was good to see Naomi do something other than be a peacemaker and love interest once again.

Lemonade, anyone? Tilly’s buying!

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

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

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Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Three

Genre: Classics

 

Anne of the Island was published in 1915, seven years after the best-selling Anne of Green Gables, partly because of the continuing clamor for more Anne from her fans – a fan base that continues to grow today!
In this continuation of the story of Anne Shirley, Anne leaves Green Gables and her work as a teacher in Avonlea to pursue her original dream (which she gave up in Anne of Green Gables) of taking further education at Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane enroll as well, as does Anne’s friend from Queen’s Academy, Priscilla Grant. During her first week of school, Anne befriends Philippa Gordon, a beautiful girl whose frivolous ways charm her. Philippa (Phil for short) also happens to be from Anne’s birthplace of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. Anne, always the good scholar, studies hard, but she also has many life lessons. This book sees Anne leave behind girlhood to blossom into a mature young woman.

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➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
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Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series it works just fine as a stand alone.

Anne Shirley is growing up and now in her late teens, she has the opportunity to go to college. Set in 1915, Redmond College in Nova Scotia, Canada is the nearest and best choice for her. Her dear friend Priscilla Grant also enrolls. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane, childhood friends, are returning for their second year of education. While there, Anne meets Philippa (Phil) Gordon who she becomes good friends with despite Phil’s honest vanity.

I missed these classics when I was kid but I have enjoyed the trilogy as an adult. Book 1 is still my favorite as I feel Anne has the most imagination and the silliest accidents in that book. Now that she’s an adult, she still has much to learn but she doesn’t have as much imagination nor does she have so many simple mistakes and accidents. No, her blunders are fewer but also are more serious, especially in matters of the heart.

Much of this book had to do with romance. Sigh. It seems that all the young people go off to college to find a spouse and if they happen to get a degree along the way, so much the better for it. While the ladies have some depth to them in this tale, the men are pretty much just stick figures. Even poor Gilbert Blythe has little to do with the tale. We learn so little about him that I as the reader could project any traits I like onto him to make him the perfect match for Anne. So I would have liked less romance and more details about the characters.

With that said, the ladies have their hands full learning how to manage their lives away from home. Anne discovers that she does have a soft spot for cats after all. While Phil usually lacks a filter between brain and mouth, I did find her honesty about everything, including her own faults, to be amusing. One of the ladies gets a Math degree which I thought was great considering the date this was set in and published. (Though we rarely see any of the ladies doing anything related to their studies, since they spend so much time gossiping about the men).

The most touching scene for me was when Anne returned to her birthplace. Phil happens to be from there and she invites Anne to come visit during one of their breaks from college. Anne has long wondered about her parents. Going to Bolingbroke held a lot of importance for Anne.

After much drama about Anne’s love life, the story wraps up rather quickly. Things are tied up neatly and with a happy ending.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Colleen Winton once again makes a great Anne. I like how she manages to make Anne sound a little older with each book while also managing to make her be distinctly Anne. Her male voices were also spot on as well as her elderly voices. Anne has a range of serious emotions in this book and Winton did great in capturing them with all their nuances.

What I Liked: Anne is growing up; Phil’s lack of brain-to-mouth filter; Math degrees for women!; Anne gets to visit her birthplace; things neatly wrapped up at the end; great narration.

What I Didn’t Like: So much silly romance and romantic gossip!; the men are pretty much stick figures – we learn so little about Gilbert Blythe!

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

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History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

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

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Dab of Darkness
Joy of Bookworms
Canadian Book Addict

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CGB Blog Tours
A Book and A Latte
Macarons and Paperbacks
Lilly’s Book World

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

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

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Lomeraniel
Life As Freya
Bound 4 Escape
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Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Vacation by J. C. Miller

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Author: JC Miller

Narrator: Curt Simmons

Length: 7h 28m

Publisher: JC Miller Writer

Released: July 14, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

 

 

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

 

JC (Jeanne) Miller is a freelance essayist, the author of five novels, including the best-seller, Vacation. An avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast, JC resides in Northern California.

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Narrator Bio

Curt lives in Seattle and produces and narrates audiobooks in his home studio. He began his performing career in college as a stage actor and radio personality. After college, in addition to acting, Curt also did voiceovers for commercials, which he also wrote, directed, and edited for broadcast TV. Following the birth of his daughter in 1984, he left the performing arts to pursue a more “stable” profession managing projects. Then, in 2014 he returned to the professional stage for the first time in over 30 years as Walter Flood in Becky’s New Car by Stephen Dietz. He has also appeared recently as Lyman in Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz and Ralph in The Last Romance by Joseph DiPietro. Vacation is Curt’s eighth audiobook.

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Dr. William Koval is a 40 year old widower. He loves his microscope and petri dishes, his life being pretty uncomplicated. However, a shadow glooms his life up a bit, his wife, Kathleen, having been killed by a mentally unstable man three years earlier. Now work forces him to take a vacation and he decides on a whim to sign up for an English walking tour, something him and his wife were planning to do before her untimely death. The walking tour brings him some closure and perhaps a new chance at happiness.

I have to say this isn’t my normal cup of tea but I was intrigued by the English walking tour and a still-grieving widower trying to say goodbye to his deceased wife and the life they had together. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The English walking tour has some bumps and burrs to it and that made it interesting. I was hoping for a touch more here and there. In fact, if the book had all been set in this English country walk, with rich history and some cultural tidbits tossed in, then I would have been very happy with the book. There were plenty of fun & interesting characters on the tour as well but we had to say goodbye to almost all of them when the tour ended.

Alas, the second half of the book is back in the states and is a pretty standard contemporary romance. Should he call her? Will she call him back? Can he get over his past? Will she forgive him? Can they come together over a shared travesty? Quite frankly, it was pretty boring to me. The first half is exciting and different and more than a simple romance. It had complexity. The second half lacked these traits.

The main characters themselves were interesting. William is a doctor, but not a people person nor does he seek glory in complicated surgeries or being a leading expert in some minute field of interest. He’s a practical, quiet man. Deciding to go off to England on a whim was so out of his norm and yet I could clearly see it was him trying to breath life back into this stagnant existence he was stuck in.

Annie Logan is a history buff and also hails from the Seattle area (same as William) and it’s one of those odd quirks that they meet in England. I liked that she was generally soft spoken but would hold her ground, politely but firmly, when she decided enough was enough. She had this trait not only in England but also back home on Vashon Island.

It turns out that Kathleen had a secret, one that William starts to put together on the English walking tour. Kathleen’s best friend, Liz, is now William’s best friend. It’s a friendship that has given them each much comfort, especially when William comes over for a homecooked meal with Liz’s family. I really liked how comfortable they were with each other and how their friendship kept the good parts of Kathleen’s memory alive.

So all told, this story had a solid start with a complex William in an unusual situation. The second half wasn’t my normal fare and while it bored me a bit, I had to know how things turned out for Annie and William. If contemporary romance is your thing, then I highly recommend this book. It has depth.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Curt Simmons was most excellent in this performance. I am truly impressed by his range of not only male & female voices but also his ability to capture nuanced emotions. He had the perfect voice for William, sounding as mild as milk initially and growing in complexity as learn more about William. His female voices were spot on. Each character was distinct and there were several accents for the English walking tour half of the book (Australian, French, British, etc.). He was a pleasure to listen to.

What I Liked: 40-year old widower is the main character; the English walking tour has it’s problems; all the interesting characters in England; Annie’s quiet determination once she’s set her mind to something; William realizing that Kathleen was not a perfect person; excellent narration.

What I Didn’t Like: The second half of the book was pretty simple and it was a bit boring to me.

 

Vacation Giveaway: 2 Free Audiobooks of Your Choice

Aug. 13th:
Lomeraniel
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Buried Under Books
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Between the Coverz
WTF Are You Reading?
The Literary Apothecary

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The Book Addict’s Reviews
Bean’s Bookshelf and Coffee Break

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Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

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Naamah’s Blessing Part IV

The read along continues with Naamah’s Blessing, Book 3 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am the host (Lynn’s life got busy). We’re covering Chapters 43-57, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Betrayal again! Did you expect it here in the heart of the jungle? How do you feel about this outcome versus what Durel has endured and has yet to face?

This time, I wasn’t really expecting such a big betrayal. I thought the disgruntled guide might leave, and perhaps that could put the party in a pinch, but I wasn’t expecting him to put both himself and his father is the middle of the violence.

It’s a tough situation but I think it was handled as best as possible. There wasn’t a feasible way to keep him under guard nor to send him back to the main city under guard to await some sort of ‘civilized’ law.

I do hope Durel hears of this and realizes how lucky he and his family are.

2) Raging rivers, deadly illness, efficient deadly natives, scary ants, big snakes: I know you don’t want to face any of them, but if you had to choose, which would you tackle?

So tough! So having faced 2 minor floods that messed up my property, I wouldn’t want to face a raging river. It’s really only luck if you survive that.

I can’t communicate with ants and they are rather single-minded once they get an idea. Unless I have a flame thrower, or a raging river between them and me, I am not tangling with them.

So snakes or people. Hmm… Snakes I guess. People are so unpredictable while snakes are pretty predictable and it pays not to be stupid.

3) Vilcabamba held a nasty surprise, didn’t it? An army of ants and Raphael controlling them! Were you surprised? How do you think Moirin will learn to deal with the ants?

Yes, I was surprised. I should have seen all the hints with Denis de Toulard mentioning the ants and even earlier with the D’Angeline poet and her 7th floor apartment, as far from the ants as possible.

I’m really not sure how Moirin will get around the ants. Perhaps she will be forced to summon Folkolor but as usual she will be polite and Folkolor will give her a small gift, one that lets her take control of the ants or destroy Raphael’s hold on them.

4) Raphael intends to summon Fokolor and force him to relinquish his powers or serve him without question. What do you think Fokolor’s reaction will be? Will he be so easily enslaved or tricked?

I really hope Fokolor plays some of his nasty tricks on Raphael. In fact I now wonder if he can take back his previous gift to Raphael and make it so he can no longer communicate with ants. I don’t expect anything concerning Fokolor to be easy.

Other Tidbits:

I keep noticing this underlying theme of family honor. Durel is concerned about having let his family down. Now this new betrayal leaves a grieving father feeling the need to make up for his son’s bad deeds.

Raphael has made the mistake of thinking of his servants and such as savages and letting them know it. Somehow I don’t think they expect their ‘god Raphael’ to think of them as savage. This is just another chink in his armor and I hope Moirin exploits it.

Potato planting! Yay!

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S BLESSING in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Abaddon’s Gate Part II

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 13-26, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) After two books that built mystery on top of mystery, we finally get some answers. What revelation excites you the most?

I like knowing what Miller is, though I daresay all of us half-guessed it. It makes me wonder if Julie was somehow the same thing for Miller (when he was alive)… but Miller and Julie never met in real life.

Intergalactic travel is now possible if only the human species can live long enough to harness the technology.

2) Was Holden right to head off on his own? And how do you think he’ll fare now that he’s been captured by the Martians? And is his crew still alive?

Yes, Holden was right. He’s the one that’s been chatting up Miller/Protomolecule. So he’s the logical choice for going. Plus, he doesn’t have any skills that aren’t matched (or outmatched) by his crew mates. He’s not a mechanic or a pilot.

Well, the Martians will keep him alive provided he doesn’t do anything stupid and if Anna, Bull, or the Roci crew can get them to listen, they will want Melba and the documentary crew much more than Holden.

Yes, I think the Roci’s crew is still alive simple because there’s like 3 or 4 more books in the series.

3) On a related note, how do you feel about the new POV characters now? Are you warming to any?

I’m still intrigued by Melba simply because she’s both obsessed and thoughtful, and yet still has a blind eye towards her dad’s actions and how that created much of this mess.

Bull is still very interesting though now I worry about his survivability. He really needs some serious medical attention but I don’t know if he will be able to get what he needs in time so I applaud him making a tough choice to stay awake and do what he can.

4) Do you think Earth and Mars will agree to the OPA’s plan? Do you think they’ll be stuck forever in this weird starless place or will they get back home?

I think they will hesitate, especially Mars, but will  ultimately agree to send over their wounded. Everyone is desperate and has suffered losses.

As to whether any of them will get home again, that’s a very good question. This series has been full of surprises so far. At the end of Book 1, I expected war between Mars and Earth and possibly the OPA, but we didn’t get a full out war at all. Then at the end of Book 2, I thought that tentacular blob ejected from Venus would head towards another moon or planet to take over; instead, it turned into the big ring gate. So while I don’t expect our key players to be stuck in this starless construct for the next 3 or 4 books, I really don’t know where the story will take us next.

5) Oh, and do you think that destroyer of worlds, strange darkness is still out there?

If this protomolecule could exist for 2 million years in the void of space & eventually take us to this weird waystation in another galaxy, then yes, I think whatever could take out the civilization that created those first two could still be out there. Whether or not it’s murderous is really the question.

Other Tidbits:

Is it just me, or is Naomi having less to do this book? She’s coming across as a little whiny to me and as someone who just pops up when Holden needs his moral compass or sanity checked.

Betrayed Amos is a sad, angry Amos. Poor dude.

Tilly is more than a pretty face and fashionista. I’m glad she’s got some smarts to her.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Abaddon’s Gate Part I

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering the Prologue-Chapter 12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. This time around the prologue shows us what became of The Thing That Abandoned Venus. Any ideas about what the purpose of the Ring might be?

My, I wasn’t expecting that! I was really expecting it to be some seed headed off to another planet or moon in our solar system. So now we have this ring and it seems to be a gate to somewhere very far off. I recall someone contemplating what was known so far, like sending in objects and light waves and also receiving radio waves from the inside of the ring that were older than the Big Bang. Perhaps that was Anna contemplating all that. Time warp? Just an intergalactic gate?

2. New book means new characters! Do any of these newcomers stand out to you at this point? If so, who and why?

Melba/Julie Mao’s sister (Clarice?) is interesting because she feels some regret over some of the horrible things she has to do… and yet she totally doesn’t explore the morality of her dad’s actions.

Bull is fun, coming from Alamogordo, New Mexico. I love that his special treat is some frozen Hatch chili. I liked the way he handled the Pixie Dust problem on the generation ship turned military vessel.

3. It looks like bureaucracy is finally catching up to the Rocinante crew. Do you think they’ll actually lose the ship?

Somehow I don’t think they will lose the ship through court. they have plenty of money and the ship is a moving target. They can hire their own lawyers and one court (OPA) has already granted them salvage rights to it. If Earth or Mars overturns the OPA’s ruling, the OPA could well be insulted, feeling like they aren’t acknowledged as a true sovereign realm.

But I do fear that someone could illegally take it from them or they could have to evacuate due to some sabotage or protomolecule stuff or the need to hurtle a very fast ship into a large alien ring, thereby destroying it….

Other Tidbits:

Brown sludge that looks like feces but smells like the best braised beef ever – yuck! I’ve never been a fan of foods that look like one thing but taste very different – like cakes that are made to look like litter boxes and such.

I think it was good of Ana’s wife to take their little girl to Earth so that she has the choice later on of where she wants to live. She can always return to the Belt or go to Mars, but if she grew up in low G, she wouldn’t have the choice of living on Earth.

I really like how Ana handled that domestic violence issue. Clever! Ana may well be a force to be reckoned with.

Sounds like Holden’s crew all have secrets they don’t want to share with the documentary crew. I do wonder the most about Alex.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Naamah’s Blessing Part III

The read along continues with Naamah’s Blessing, Book 3 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Grace at Books Without Any Pictures is the host. We’re covering Chapters 30-42, so be prepared for spoilers below!

Sorry for posting late this week. I went to Denver’s MALcon last weekend and actually met Jacqueline Carey, but it really wore me out so I’m behind on everything. Totally worth it though!

1) Were you surprised by Durel’s betrayal? Do you the captain and Balthasar handled it well?

I figured Durel would be some sort of disappointment. Perhaps he would have deserted them at a crucial point or become a bane upon the group by suggesting some stinging sap for genital warts to the soldiers. I wasn’t expecting an outright betrayal that so easily put himself in danger.

Yes, I feel that Balthasar handled it well. He took some pleasure in playing the role but I’m not convinced he would have taken it to depravity had he been left alone. Basically, I trust him to know where the lines are.

While the outcome was final, I’m glad that there wasn’t a lot of drama about it. Everyone had their say, including Durel, and it seems all understood what had to be. Durel has some honor left in him which shows in his willingness to testify against Rogier. Though I do wonder what would have happened had he said no outright.

2) Now that we’ve had some time to get acquainted with Terra Nova, what do you think of it? What do you make of the Nahuatl, and of the overall political tensions in Terra Nova? Do you think there’s any hope for reconciliation between the Aragonians, D’Angelines, other tribes, and Nahuatl?

What a mess! The native peoples had some organization between civilizations before the Aragonians got there but they also had (and still have to some extent) slavery, war, and human sacrifice. While it wasn’t perfect before the Europeans arrived, the Aragonians haven’t necessarily made it better. They are pretty disrespectful of the locals, especially the women.

I would like to think that the D’Angelines will get a toehold into the Americas and their wholesome ideas about sex will help establish respectful relationships. It won’t be perfect as the D’Angelines are prone to think of themselves as superior in many ways no matter their company.

3) What are your impressions of Achculati and the bargain he offered? How do you think Moirin’s choice will impact her going forward?

Moirin rocked this! She made it clear that an intimate night with her was as much honor as any man could ever hope for. Good for her! I like that she can value herself without being pretentious.

Obviously, Moirin is willing to meet the locals as equals, something the Aragonians haven’t been able to do. I hope her example shows them how relations could be if there was mutual respect.

Other Tidbits:

Moirin keeps trying to chat with the native American ladies, but with limited success so far. I hope that changes.

It’s interesting how the horses are such a status symbol, though I think few would enjoy riding llamas and obviously the llamas have distinct ideas about that…. and yet we haven’t seen any yet in this story.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S BLESSING in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

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

Scroll to the bottom for the Giveaway!

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Two

Genre: Classics

 

Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), this book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. We learn of Anne’s doings from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones: Mr. Harrison and his foul-mouthed parrot, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora (sweet and well behaved) and Davy (mischievious and in constant trouble). Anne matures, slightly, but she gets into a number of her familiar pickles, as only Anne can: She accidentally sells her neighbor’s cow (having mistaken it for her own), gets stuck in a broken duck house roof while peeping into a pantry window, and more.

AudiblePost Hypnotic Press

➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
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Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Anne of Green Gables returns in this classic. Now she’s a school marm at age 17. Her little batch of students charm and try her by twists and turns. Toss in the recently orphaned twins Davy and Dora Keith, and Anne has her hands full indeed! She has many mishaps and whimsical adventures in this tale.

This is a charming little book about Anne. While there’s no central plot to the tale (it reads more like a string of interconnected short stories), the characters really make it work. Anne is so well-meaning even if she makes mistakes and causes property damage. She always apologizes and makes amends (whether through doing repairs or paying for replacements). I especially liked Anne’s idea of the Avonlea Village Improvement Society (AVIS) and the Pye family.

Anne wants everyone to love her and she strives to find a way to win the trust, love, and approval of all those around her. However, as a school marm she sometimes finds this impossible when the rascals try her sorely. Then there’s Mr. Harrison and his sailor-mouthed parrot Ginger. Davy would probably give her early grey hairs if he doesn’t learn to behave.

Marilla, Anne’s adoptive guardian, is still a significant part of the story. I like her steadying hand and well-placed advice. While I did like Book 1 a little more since is was about Anne fitting into this new life, it’s so good to have Marilla be such a backbone presence in this tale.

Occasionally the tale dips a toe into the preaching pond with examples of good morals and what not. It was mild but once or twice I did roll my eyes. There is one short discussion about ‘injun’ feathered headdresses which dates this work.

Anne grows up a bit in this book. She’s working full time, has her own chores and adult friends. Then she and Marilla take on Davy and Dora. Marilla’s eyesight is failing so Anne has all the sewing to do for the household. Even though she hates sewing, she’s willing to do it to give these kids a good home, even if just temporarily.

There’s busted plates, caterpillars down a shirt, frog in a bed, a cow sold accidentally, a horrendous storm, and plenty more in this tale of Anne’s young adulthood. My favorite was the parrot Ginger. He swears a lot (though we never get to hear it swear) but it provides meaningful companionship for Mr. Harrison.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Colleen Winton was a great pick for Anne. She has that wonder and gentleness that Anne is well known for. She also does a great Marilla, being a little sour but overall well meaning. She has distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices are quite well done too. Her little kid voices are great as well as though few for the elderly.

What I Liked: Anne’s growing up; the parrot; both good and bad things happen; the taming of Davy, who is so naughty sometimes; the whimsical nature of some of Anne’s musings; great narration.

What I Disliked: From time to time, there’s a preachy bit here or there; one racial comment.

Win a store credit to Post Hypnotic Press (audiobooks!). Open Internationally. There will be 3 winners. Ends August 20th, 2017.

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

Aug. 6th:
History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

Aug. 7th:
The Book Slayer
A Book and A Latte
Tara’s Book Addiction

Aug. 8th:
CGB Blog Tours
2 Girls and A Book
Lilly’s Book World

Aug. 9th:
The Maiden’s Court
Macarons and Paperbacks
Canadian Book Addict

Aug. 10th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Dab of Darkness
Haddie’s Haven

Aug. 11th:
To Read Or Not To Read
Joy of Bookworms
Hall Ways
Bound 4 Escape

Aug. 12th:
Lomeraniel
Forever Literary
Life As Freya
WTF Are You Reading?

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Aranya by Marc Secchia

Narrator: Shiromi Arserio

Publisher: Marc Secchia (2015)

Length: 14 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shapeshifter Dragons

Author’s Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

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

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do when you are not writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Author Marc Secchia:

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

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

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

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Aranya:

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

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

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

Series Note

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

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Shiromi Arserio:

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

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ SoundCloud ~ IMDB

GIVEAWAY!!!

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

Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card