Golden Son by Pierce Brown

BrownGoldenSonWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2015)

Length: 19 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 2 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Note: You really need to read Book 1, Red Rising, to understand this book.

This book picks up several months (a year?) after the end of Red Rising. It’s a space battle! Well, it’s a training space battle for the Academy. Darrow and his crew finish out the contest well enough, but then Darrow is publicly humiliated. Darrow is on the brink of losing it all and he must make some daring moves to maintain what he has worked so hard to achieve. Yet with his boldness comes new challenges and new enemies.

I thoughts the story couldn’t get any better when I finished Book 1, but I was wrong. Golden Son has impressed me more than Red Rising did. I became attached to several of the characters in Book 1 and that held true for Book 2. Darrow remains a complex character, discovering new parts to himself as he continues his ruse as a Gold. The layers of lies start to weigh on him and some of his closest friends notice his moodiness. There were so many times where I wasn’t sure whether Darrow should open up to a friend or not – can any of them be trusted with his deepest secret? Argh! It was nail biting!

There were moments where I was cheering the book on, doing a little fist pump when no one could see me doing so. Then there were times that my eyes misted up a bit. There are several intense moments in this book. Tactus. Mustang. Quinn. Darrow’s mom. Even though this book wrung emotions from me I wasn’t sure I had before, when I finished it, I wanted to go reread the first 2 books again.

While Book 1 took place all on Mars, Book 2 spreads out a bit and we get to see more of this terraformed solar system. Book 1 taught us the basics of this hierarchical society, but Golden Son shows us people from these other castes and what they are capable of. Darrow certainly has his hands full with the Sons of Ares and trying to upturn this caste system.

And why don’t we chat about the Sons of Ares. I, like Darrow, was expecting them to be all on the same page. Unfortunately for Darrow, that was not so. This added another dimension to the plot and made one more dangerous pitfall for Darrow to avoid. Though I did guess who Ares was early on, it was still a great reveal scene.

Next to Darrow, Sevro is my favorite character. He acts crude and rude all the time, but he has these shinning moments where he sets the bar high for what true friendship is. To my surprise, I became a bit attached to Victra. Perhaps it was her unashamedly flirtatious manner. Ragnar was an excellent new addition to Darrow’s circle of friends. The characters all around are just very well done. I love that the author doesn’t hold back from placing female characters in every job a male character traditionally holds in so much of SFF literature. The swordswoman Ajah is terrifying. The Sovereign is wickedly smart but also too proud of that fact.

The ending is super intense and I am so glad I have Book 3 lined up and ready to go. Golden Son does end on a cliffhanger and if I had read this book a year ago before Book 3 was out, this might have bothered me. Books 1 & 2 have set the bar high for Book 3 – I have every expectation it will live up to it!

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds continues to do this series justice. I love that he shows a little of Darrow’s Red heritage in his accent when he thinks of home, yet maintains his cultured Gold accent throughout the novel. His voice for Ragnar is very well done, considering limitations on human vocal cords. Surprisingly, Reynolds does a very good sexy vixen for Victra. 

What I Liked: The series continues to impress!; we get to see more of the the settled solar system; the witty scene between Darrow and the Sovereign; this book brings out the emotions but also packs a lot of action as well; very intense ending!

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

What Others Think:

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Kushiel’s Mercy Read Along – The Schedule

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Mercy is Book 3 of the second trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. After dealing with some medical stuff, I’ve returned to continue the read along! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. 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 KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Dune by Frank Herbert

HerbertDuneWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrators: Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Simon Vance, Ilyana Kadushin

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2007)

Length: 21 hours 8 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dune, Book 12 Dune Saga

Author’s Page

Set in a sweeping science fiction universe, the human empire is vast and complicated. Spice, from the planet Arrakis (aka Dune) powers it all, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in not so subtle ways. For years, the Harkonnen family has managed Dune for the Emperor, but now the Emperor has handed control of that planet over to House Atreides. Of course, the Harkonnens will do whatever they can to take down the Atreides. Paul Atreides and his mother Jessica will have to learn how to survive the most harshest zones of this desert planet in order to survive the Harkonnen.

I have read this book so many times over the years and each time I take something new from it. I was originally fascinated by the book because of the desert planet, which holds such great significance for the plot. Having spent most of my life in one desert or another, I really appreciated that Herbert built real desert life into the scenery. It’s not all sandy dunes, dry heat, and wind. Plus there’s giant sandworms and who doesn’t love giant worms of any kind?

This book is full of cool SF tech as well. There’s the small transport ships for collecting the Spice in the desert, the enormous space going vessels, personal protective shields, assassin’s tricks and tools, the specialized desert suits that reclaim and recycle the body’s water, and plenty more. If you’ve only seen the various movies/mini-series based on the book, then you are missing out.

The characters are also fascinating. While some are drawn simply, they still have motives and are useful to the plot. The main characters are layered, complex, have faults and foibles. Duke Leto, Paul’s father, comes across as a capable ruler who is worthy of respect. He is sure in his priorities and his code of honor. Jessica, Leto’s concubine and most trusted companion, is Bene Gesserit trained. Yes, she does scheme but her reasons are solidly good. Still, she miscalculates and makes mistakes. Paul starts off as a smart but somewhat sheltered boy. His story arc tosses him into a world of danger, literally, and there are so many ways he could have ended up dead. Gurney Halleck, Paul’s troubadour warrior trainer, is also a favorite. He has some of the roughest humor but also pushes Paul the hardest.

For a book that has staunchly remained in the SF genre, there is a mystical side to the story. The Bene Gesserit is a long-standing sisterhood that has spread it’s seeds of religion throughout the human universe. Most are trained from birth in mental abilities as well as history, languages, and martial arts. They also have the Voice, which allows them to compel most people to simple actions. The Bene Gesserit use the Spice to peek into the future (a talent called prescience) and thereby have kept humanity from being snuffed out by this disaster or that (or it’s own stupidity). Yet there is a place they can’t look, a place that terrifies them. Paul will play a role in helping them discover what is hidden there. Since this mystical element to the story can’t be nailed down by science, it has fascinated me the over the years.

There is so much to love about this book. The desert people,  the Fremen, have their own well-formed culture, shaped by the environment of Dune. Indeed, Dune itself is like a character in the story because it’s nature has such a strong influence on the story. The little touches of various languages throughout the story are also appreciated. I find it immensely sensible that House Atreides would have it’s own battle language, making it that much more difficult for their enemies to figure out what they are doing during a fight.

If you haven’t given this book a read yet, I highly recommend it. There is plenty to be discovered and enjoyed in this classic SF novel.

The Narration: The narration on this book is a little odd. There are chunks where multiple narrators are giving voice to the characters and then chunks where it is only Simon Vance narrating all the characters. I wonder if a trimmed radio theater version was recorded and then the publisher went back later and had Vance fill in all the in between spaces for an unabridged version. Vance’s performance is really good and the multi-cast parts are really good, but I found myself not liking switching between the two. I would get used to a character sounding a certain way and then have to get used to Vance’s performance of the same character, and then switching back and forth throughout – it was an unnecessary annoyance. Still, I love this book enough to tolerate it and for the most part, I still enjoyed the narration. 

What I Liked: The desert planet Dune and how it shapes the human existence; all the SF tech; so many assassins!; the worms of Arrakis; Paul’s story arc; the use of languages; the mystery of the Bene Gesserit; a worthy classic.

What I Disliked: The narration is odd – switching between a multi-cast performance and a single narrator, and back and forth for the entire book was a little annoying.

What Others Think:

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Ray Jay Perreault, Science Fiction Author

PerreaultSIMPOCHumanRemnantsEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Ray Jay Perreault. I’ve quite enjoyed his various SF novels, especially those focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI). You can check out my reviews on his work HERE. Today, we chat about how his past work fed into his creativity as a writer, the subtle meanings of words, the AI classics, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY (ebook or audiobook) at the end of this post.

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?

Interesting question and to be honest, I’ve never thought of such a scenario. One way or another each of the options has a certain allure to it. I guess it boils down to the fact that I’m a Science Fiction Author which would lean me towards the space alien. Of course I don’t want to offend any superheroes or supernatural creatures. If the situation would arise where I need to be saved by one of them, I don’t want to burn any bridges as the saying goes.

PerreaultGoodMorningProcessesMustBeImprovedReality 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 think ‘reality’ is important in all stories. There needs to be elements of the story that readers can relate to.  Every element of our lives is based on shared experiences, even language. When we use a word it brings up a similar image in the mind of the other person. The same applies with storytelling. It is important to have a shared set of experiences for the reader to understand and appreciate what is happening. Of course an author can go too far and present a scene where the amount of mundane detail exceeds what is necessary for the story. Some readers like the details and others want to focus more on the story. My personal style is more towards the latter. My stories tend to move quickly along the story line and I use ‘reality’ in scenes all long as they support and contribute to the story. I have seen some successful authors that can take a couple of pages to describe a field of flowers, but that isn’t something that I do. When I write a story I focus on the story and action, then I have to go back and add the ‘reality’ where I think that it’s necessary to set the scene.

I do admit that I change my styles. Some of my books focus on the action and drama where others focus on the back story. In some situations I like to fully develop the back story because I think it helps when the reader gets to the action. In my book Gemini, I spend almost half the book describing a totally alien culture. I go into their agriculture, history, religion and social practices. I did that for a couple of reasons, first off there were few shared experiences with the reader so I had to develop the similarities. Second, their culture and religion was a key element of the action scenes. If I didn’t take the time to give their back story the action scenes wouldn’t have made sense.

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

This might seem as an evasive answer, but I’ve been very fortunate. I spent 10 years flying airplanes in the US Air Force, during which time I traveled to 27 countries. After that I worked for Northrop Grumman and helped design the best weapon systems in the world. During my years at Northrop I had a tremendous amount of autonomy and could do what I needed to get the job done. There were times where I had to make an appointment just to see my bosses. Some of my jobs were damn near impossible, but they were challenging and demanding with associated risks and potential success. They were difficult but I enjoyed the challenges.

I’ve always been lucky, in the fact that my jobs needed creativity. The creativity helped me to become an author. I’ve always loved storytelling and extrapolating future outcomes. Both skills contribute to writing a successful Science Fiction story.

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

I always enjoyed reading and letting my mind see the story the author was presenting. I got into Science Fiction early and loved the classic writers. They seemed to open up a world of possibilities that my mind grasped immediately. At that age I never saw myself as an author, although I did enjoy creative writing classes. I remember one of my favorite college courses on public speaking. In particular I remember one live speaking assignment where we would go to the head of the class and the instructor would give us the subject and we had to immediately put together a five minute speech on that subject. I remember one in particular where I was given a paper clip and I had to talk about it for five minutes. After a few seconds of thought I was able to come up with a very entertaining five minutes talking about the design, the functionality and even the artistic design elements of the paper clip. Needless to say I got an A for that and I think I got an A for the entire course.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Artificial Intelligence literature and non-fiction, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Without a doubt the first required reading would be Asimov’s “I Robot” series of 38 short stories and 5 novels. They are the basis for all AI writings and were a major influence in most of my books. I loved his ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ and I took them one step further in my short story “Progeny” and then in my novel “Progeny’s Children” where I created Four Laws. The context of my laws were different than Asimov’s because my laws were written without consideration for humans. The story takes place a long time in the future after man was forced to leave Earth because of pollution. The robots that the humans left developed their own society and eventually forgot who created them. Their lives and society was governed by their Four Laws of Conformity.

For non-fiction the list is long. I’ve read everything from political biographies to historical romance. I think the two recent books that I’ve read and left the biggest impression was “1491” and “The Accidental Superpower.”

“1491” is a historical analysis of the American Indian world before Columbus. It described the trade, politics and population. It also shows how large, interconnected and sophisticated the combined cultures were. Sadly it showed the precipitous decline in population because of contact with the Europeans.

“The Accidental Superpower” is a realistic projection of the world order over the next couple of decades. The inverted population pyramid shows that countries like Iran and Russia will be unable to sustain their position in the world as their populations decrease along with their earning power.

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

I haven’t had a ‘gushing event’ yet, but I have noticed what I call the ‘bartender effect.’ When a reader enjoys the works of an author they seem to connect with them on a personal level. That connection opens up email where the reader says things that are normally only shared with a bartender. I’ve got emails from well-meaning readers who share with me their challenges and how my writing has influenced some facet of their lives.

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

I tend to get involved in a lot of ‘geeky arguments.’ I enjoy language and the subtleties of words.  I drive my wife crazy when I debate which word is the best and how a sentence can be said in a multitude of ways and each one carries a slightly different meaning.

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

I can’t say that I remember the first book, but I do remember when I really embraced reading. During my sophomore year in high school I had a great English teacher that really challenged us. I think we had to read a book a week, and over the summer we had a long list. The interesting point was the varied topics. I read everything from “The Tropic of Cancer”, to “Rabbit Run” to the “Communist Manifesto.” It was during that period that I began to appreciate the written word and how many emotions it can create. I also learned how the author’s styles varied and how they used images and style to convey images.

About the Author

RayJayPerreaultAuthorRay was born in New Hampshire, received his Bachelors of Science in Aeronautical Engineering at Arizona State University.  He is now retired from an influential, multi-decade career in aerospace.

Bringing a new voice to science fiction writing, Ray realized there was a niche that was calling him as he began to write deeper characters, create more sophisticated stories and realistic situations for Sci-Fi fans to relate to.

Initially attracted to heroic characters with powerful weapons taking on hundreds of aliens, Ray began his literary career with a desire to extrapolate Sci-Fi stories with a touch of everyday reality that most of us experience in work and our every-day lives.

His literary work is thoughtfully enriched by his decade long experience in the US Air Force where he flew C-130s on missions to 27 countries, and T-38s while training the best pilots in the world, as well as the first female US Air Force pilots.

During his 28 years at Northrup Grumman, Ray worked on some of the most top-secret military aircraft projects in the world including the F-23, F-35, B-2, Global Hawk and many more that can’t be named.

He is grateful to his wife, Charlene and his two daughters, Christine and Robynn for their support on this new journey.

Places to Find Ray Jay Perreault

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

PearreaultSIMPOCBook Blurb for SIMPOC: The Thinking  Computer:

99.9997% of all humans have been wiped out by a very suspicious virus. SIMPOC’s programmer doesn’t come in to work, that day, the next; or ever. The commander of the space station Oasis, Joan Herl is forced to abandon the station because of dwindling resources. When they land on earth they are attacked by another thinking computer who would do anything to protect itself and to continue thinking.

The moon colony Dessert Beach, is trapped as their resources are running out and they must decide when to come home. They have only lifeboats to carry them back to the lifeless earth and what will they find when they enter the atmosphere and land.

The astronauts trapped on the Mars colony Red Dirt are in worse condition. Their systems will break down and resources will run out. Coming home for them is a different story. The lifeboats aren’t made for that purpose and must be rebuilt before the colony breaks down. Should they stay and take their chances on Mars, or should they journey back to earth.

PerreaultProgeny'sChildrenBook Blurb for Progeny’s Children:  

After many years people return to Earth and something else was living there.

People of Earth treated her badly, neglecting the needs of their home planet which resulted in a world that was hostile to life. They were forced to leave and find another planet.

Humanity traveled over 300 years to Horizon. They had learned from their mistakes and took care of their new planet.

1,300 years after leaving Earth they wanted to return to their home. The first ship entered Earth’s orbit and found a pristine planet welcoming them home, but they also found something else living there.

Purchase Links

Amazon US             Audible.com

GIVEAWAY!

Ray Jay Perreault is offering up 2 books, winners’s choices and the winners can each choose the ebook version or the audiobook version (Audible.com account required). You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Ebook or audiobook (Audible.com account required)? 2) What stories featuring AI have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends October 19, 2016, midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: S. C. Flynn, Author of Children of the Different

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author S. C. Flynn. I’ve quite enjoyed his Australian dystopian novel Children of the Different. Today, we chat about survival quests, making up stories in grain bins, a Doctor Who debate, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – an Audible.com version of Children of the Different, narrated by Stephen Briggs

If you were sent on a survival quest, which other 4 post-apocalyptic/dystopian authors would you take with you?

SCF: Margaret Atwood, because she would be our high priestess and could communicate in all known languages and cultural situations. David Brin, because he would invent anything we needed. Hugh Howey, because he would have plenty of time to tell me the secret of publishing success. Jeff VanderMeer, because of his experience in organising expeditions and group endeavours. 

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you choose to do?

SCF: Jazz musician. I grew up playing trumpet in my dad’s band.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

SCF: I really like finding new bloggers and serious readers. I have made lots of good online friends. The biggest challenge is simply finding the time to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

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

SCF: I always wanted to hide away and make up stories. I grew up in country Australia, and I used to sit in a wheat bin, where I was away from everyone and free to invent things; there’s a photo somewhere of me in there. Back then, I didn’t think in terms of being a writer as such, but I was already on the path.

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

SCF: Mary Shelley: spaghetti and clams. James Tiptree Jr: steak and chips, beer, neat whisky, with port and cigar afterwards. H.G. Wells: steak and kidney pie.. Jack Vance: fillet of black marlin. Philip K Dick: Baked Ubik.

What do you do when you are not writing?

SCF: Not much music these days, unfortunately! Reading, watching films.

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

SCF: The best era of classic Doctor Who (the 3rd Doctor, by the way, even though it was before my time…).

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

SCF: 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne; I still liked it last time I read it! 

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

SCF: This interview is part of a blog tour for “Children of the Different” that is running every day on various sites and podcasts till early October; details of what I am doing and where can be found on my site, www.scflynn.com

Thanks for your time.

SCF: Thank you, Susan!

About the Author

S. C. Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S. C. Flynn has written for as long as he can remember and has worked seriously towards becoming a writer for many years. This path included two periods of being represented by professional literary agents, from whom he learnt a lot about writing, but who were unable to get him published.

He responded by deciding to self-publish his post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, Children of the Different and, together with an American support team, aimed for a book as good as those created by the major publishers.

S. C. Flynn blogs on science fiction and fantasy at scflynn.com. He is on Twitter @scyflynn and on Facebook. Join his email newsletter list here.

Book Blurb for Children of the Different

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentNineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and either emerge with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of south-western Australia, thirteen year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia. If they can reach it before time runs out.

CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT is a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel set among the varied landscapes and wildlife of Western Australia.

Purchase Links

Amazon US             Amazon UK              Amazon Australia

GIVEAWAY!

S. C. Flynn is offering up an Audible.com audiobook of Children of the Different. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) What do you do when you’re not reading? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends October 17, 2016, midnight.

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Flynnchildrenofthedifferentfinalanimation2

Book Giveaway & Interview: June Gillam, Author of The Hillary Broome Novels

GillamHouseOfCutsEveryone, please welcome June Gillam to the blog today! She’s here to chat about other great mystery writers, first book loves, what makes a good book villain, and more! I’ve quite enjoyed the first two book in her Hillary Broome Novels, House of Cuts and House of Dads. If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Whom do you invite? And what books will you be discussing?

Virginia Woolf, Joanne Harris and Donna Tartt. I’d love to have tea (maybe even laced with brandy) with these three. I met Joanne Harris at an informal literary gathering in the Berkeley Hills soon after her novel Gentlemen & Players was released. I enjoyed that book but have been in love with her Five Quarters of the Orange over the years, for its exploration of mother/daughter relationships. Tartt weaves a southern spell of a journey as she takes me along with her young character in The Little Friend, including turning to similar themes of mother/daughter/aunties as Harris raises. And of course, Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is in my view the essential read for all women authors. Last, for the dreamy mood of it all, throw in Woolf’s essay A Mark on the Wall. I’d hate to have this book club session ever end.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Well, my novels have turned out to be a sort of combo of thriller and cozy, but everyone tells me that a cozy thriller is not possible… I’d love to know what readers think about House of Eire and what niche they’d put it into.

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

Being a mother of three and a stepmother of two for a total of five children to raise for ten years—it is similar to writing in that chaos is all around me at all times, yet I work mentally and physically to create order inside it, to the swirling characters in their multiple settings with their various agendas.

GillamHouseOfDadsWho are some of your favorite book villains?

I love Hannibal Lecter and Dexter—bad guys with brilliant minds and in Dexter’s case, good motives even though they are really his rationales. I love exploring the mind of a person who is pushed over the edge into murder, as my villains all are. I am fascinated by that urge to kill we all experience from time to time but for the most part, keep shut up in our inner basement, thank God!

What were you like as a kid?

I was a princess for my daddy until age 7 when my mom divorced him and threw me into grief and depression for a few years. I got a lot of poetry from that though—one of the best things about writing is that all our bad times are good writing material!

After that I just wanted to fit in with the other kids, not to be the oddball out from their intact families; my best friend had a widowed mother who was the closest thing to my divorced mother. I yearned for stability but had to go through a couple divorces before I found it, sorry to say.

Did your kid self see you being a writer?

I wrote a diary but never thought of myself as a writer though I loved to read. I did score highest on aptitude tests in the literary category but didn’t understand what that meant at the time. I started out in college attracted to philosophy as a major but then realized those guys were not including women in their audience or capable of discussion with them. I switched to English based on the alluring course descriptions in the Sacramento State English department booklet; I became a fervent feminist and poet and grew into loving writing stories.

GillamHouseOfEireIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in mystery literature, what book would be first listed as required reading?

The Secret History would be first. I’ve assigned this literary mystery by Donna Tartt to my Intro to Lit students many times. They love this book because it’s set on a college campus with spooky dorms and weird roommates and even weirder professors. Readers are trying to figure out who killed one of the college students and left him covered with snow for weeks before the authorities knew he was dead.

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

Like so many girls, it was Nancy Drew, and for me it was The Hidden Staircase. Went on to read lots of those. Soon after the Cherry Ames Nurse series. One night when reading Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse, I got up to go to the bathroom and discovered I’d started my period. My mom had prepared me for this, so I took care of the supply side with no issues. When I returned to bed and picked the book back up, I felt happy and thought to myself, Now I’m a woman just like Cherry Ames. So funny to look back on that incomplete understanding, to put it mildly, although kind of sweet in its innocent ignorance.

june-gillamAuthorAbout June Gillam

June Gillam teaches literature and writing at a Northern California Community College. She describes this series as psychological suspense novels in which Hillary Broome, reporter and ghostwriter, fends off complex villains of many kinds: a berserk butcher, a demented daughter and a haunted theme park developer.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook

GillamHouseOfCutsSynopsis of House of Cuts

When the dismembered bodies of managers begin turning up inside a small town’s only superstore, reporter Hillary Broome’s stories on the grisly murders catapult her byline into the national limelight and threaten to expose the shameful secret that could ruin her career—as well as bring her to the crazed killer’s attention.

Hillary must connect with detective Eddie Kiffin before the insane cutthroat finishes off a woman who has come to hold a special place in Hillary’s heart.

GillamHouseOfDadsSynopsis of House of Dads

House of Dads, a psychological suspense novel, features redheaded reporter Hillary Broome during the peak of the housing construction boom in December of 2005. When a powerful California developer collapses at a funeral, Hillary’s caught in a network of jealousy and greed that could topple financial institutions and destroy families.

GillamHouseOfEireSynopsis of House of Eire

In House of Eire, Hillary Broome, a reporter-turned-ghostwriter from Lodi, California, and her detective husband Ed fly to Ireland—Ed for a gang conference in Dublin and Hillary to research her ancestors in Galway. Hillary plans to meet up with her friend Bridget, who’s pushing a greedy developer to include a memorial museum inside his proposed Irish theme park. As Hillary travels through Ireland and learns more about her friend’s crusade, she uncovers secrets and mysterious forces nudging her to fly away home.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble

GIVEAWAY!!!

This giveaway is part of the iRead Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out more interviews, reviews,  & guest posts on the blog tour! Win 1 of 10 copies of House of Eire, a stand alone Hillary Broome mystery. Winners can choose between print or ebook (open internationally). Contest ends September 24th, 2016.  Just click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway.

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Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey

HarveyButterflyWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Laura Jennings

Publisher: Cherry Hill Publishing (2015)

Length: 18 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Butterfly Trilogy

Author’s Page

This book is about far more than simple seduction and erotic fantasies. The author spins a deep and engrossing tale that spans decades, showing what the drive of one young women can build over time. Butterfly is a unique and exclusive club that caters to women’s fantasies. The men, staff, and clients are all hand picked for their ability to be discrete. As a counter to that, there is the simple, elegant, and irreproachable Beverly Highland, who has become quite the businesswoman over the years. Her support of the evangelist-turned-politician Danny MacKay has helped him rise to his high station. But does she have ulterior motives? This book also has several engaging flashbacks to Rachel Dwyer in the 1950s. We meet her as a 14 year old girl and follow her through her troubles, watching her eventually transform into something else.

I’m sure this book has been labeled erotica or chick lit or romance and none of those labels do this book justice. True, it does have some of those elements, but they combine with other elements (suspense, historical fiction, etc.) to become something much more impressive. First, all the characters are so engaging. Even if I didn’t like some of them, I understood where they were coming from and wanted to know more about them. Second, the setting was interesting too. The modern-day parts happen mostly in Beverly Hills, California. The historical fiction elements happen in Texas, New Mexico, and California. Third, the plot had several unforeseen elements that kept me pleasantly surprised and turning the pages (well, listening to yet the next MP3 file and the next and the next).

The book opens with Dr. Linda Marques. She has a few failed marriages under her belt and that’s mostly due to her frigidity problems. She can’t seem to find joy in the bedroom. Her recent visits to Butterfly, where she dons a mask, have helped her start to face the deep reasons for her lack of enthusiasm. Trudie, who is head of a pool construction company, wants a man that considers her an equal, but she’s having a hard time finding such a person. Her regular hook ups at clubs and the occasional dalliance with someone else in the construction business have all left her unsatisfied. Yet her experiences at Butterfly, which often entail having entertaining arguments over brainy books, have shown her just how good things in the bedroom can be. Jessica, a lawyer for the celebrities, has a controlling and dismissive husband. She’s never really considered what she might be missing, that is, until she gets an exclusive invitation to Butterfly. There, she finds that she can call the shots in romance and it thrills her.

Now let’s bounce back to the 1950s and Rachel Dwyer, who was my favorite character. At age 14 she has to leave home as her father has made it quite clear, in his drunken abusive way, that she can’t stay there. She plans to head to California to beg a job from her mom’s friend but things go astray and she ends up on the wrong bus. Without enough money to make it to California, she feels stranded. That’s when she meets the young Danny McKay who offers to take her to his family’s farm and help her find a job. She instantly becomes smitten with him and they start a romantic relationship. Things become twisted when he places her in a house of prostitution. Rachel, still being somewhat naive, holds onto the hope that she will marry and have kids, that her love for Danny isn’t wasted. Rachel’s story shows us a woman who reaches her breaking point and at that point instead of accepting that life is awful and there’s no real escape from it, she becomes completely determined to find another way. At first, I thought Rachel’s story was one of those train wrecks that you can’t look away from, but really it’s about a young woman metamorphosing into something greater.

The men, while fewer that the female characters, are no less interesting. Of course, Danny MacKay is the lead male in this drama. We know from Rachel’s story that he’s not a great guy. From present-day Beverly Highland’s story, we see Danny for the political powerhouse he has become. He has the backing of his religious evangelical organization, plus other business people like Beverly. He has also invested in several properties and businesses over the decades, making him rich in his own right. He’s well known and now hoping to run for President. He’s still a very cruel man. I enjoyed very much hating on him throughout the book as he gives us so many reasons to dislike him.

This book does have several sex scenes, giving it an erotic flair. The scenes are quite varied showing what women desire at Butterfly, but also what they experience in the average, every day world (which usually lacks in quality when compared to Butterfly). A few of the scenes are violent and/or abusive (such as some of Rachel’s experiences) but the author doesn’t linger over them nor use them as shock factors. Instead, they reveal key points about the characters’s natures.

This was just an immensely satisfying book. I didn’t expect to like it so much when I dived into it. Quite frankly, I was expecting 16 hours of erotica with maybe 2 hours of character and plot development. What I got, which is much more desirable, is the opposite; the author built these amazing characters and did an excellent job revealing the plot. Going into it, I had no idea what Rachel would become, how Danny would rise so high, how Beverley would execute her end game. Truly, there is much more here than first meets the eye.

I received this audiobook at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Laura Jennings did a pretty good job with this book. I really liked her distinct voices for all the ladies. However, several of her young male voices all sounded very similar. She did well with the older male voices. She was excellent at imbuing the text with emotions, and there were plenty of them in this book, several of them subtle. I also liked her Spanish accent for Carmella.

What I Liked: It’s a well-matched mix of romance, historical fiction, and suspense with a few erotic scenes; Rachel Dwyer really is the star of the book; great character arcs; the Butterfly club itself; the surprise turns in the plot; the very satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: Some of the male voices in the narration weren’t very distinct – they all sounded like Danny MacKay.

What Others Think:

{Dive} Under the Cover

Long and Short Reviews

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