Naamah’s Blessing Part I

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’m the host. We’re covering Chapters 1-15, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Wow! We’re back at Marsilikos and then into Terre D’Ange right away without any lengthy travel scenes. How was this change of pace for you after the lengthy travel journal we’ve had so far in this series?

I expect there’s some fanfiction out there some where that tells of some crazy happenings between Book 2 and Book 3. After all, they had to make it to a harbor and get passage home and then the entire lengthy trip itself.

But on the other hand, it’s good to be back in Terre D’Ange and ready to launch the last big adventure for this series.

2) What do you think of King Daniel’s management of the realm while he’s in mourning? The relationship he has with his daughter Desire?

He’s really stepped back, hasn’t he? And I guess his son isn’t ready to step in and manage everything just yet (tho he’s off doing royalty stuff). I get that he’s in mourning but he also suffered the loss of his first wife, so he knows he can’t just ignore stuff…. right? Even his daughter? Yeah, so he get’s a D for parenting at this point as neglect can have long-lasting effects on a kid.

3) Moirin has taken up the role as Desire’s protector. What do you think of the political quagmire she’s gotten herself into? Will her tumblers and poet be able to sway the general public in her favor?

I’m glad that Desire has a champion in her corner now but I think Moirin has done it more out of love for Jehane than for Desire herself (though that may become full blown parental love in time).

She’s definitely stirred up a not healed-over quagmire, hasn’t she? She left in the heat of Lion Mane’s embarrassment and it seems that is still seething a bit (probably due to Jehane’s death). Now she’s ‘picked a side’ by officially becoming Desire’s protector.

I hope her tumblers and poet will be enough to sway the public tho opposing factions can hire their own entertainers to smear her name. Seems that’s already started.

4) Moirin’s father has a lover, Balthazar, who is also in the king’s favor. How big of a problem for Moirin and Bao do you think he will be?

Hmm… well, right now he’s just being an inconvenience and a bit petty (like in assigning Moirin’s promised rooms to another at the last minute). However, I fear that he can become more of a problem, especially with King Daniel not paying attention to his realm all that much. Also, his name is one I associate with treacherous characters, so I expect he will become a much bigger problem soon.

Other Tidbits:

I like how Bao’s D’Angeline has improved and he doesn’t feel so foreign in Terre D’Ange now.

I also like that D’Angelines, for the most part, don’t know how to address Bao. Ha! His mere presence pushes most out of their comfort zone.

That sucks that Moirin can’t access her funds readily. I hope Bao doesn’t turn to competition fighting to pay the bills.

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).

Feet of Clay by J. A. Cipriano & J. B. Garner

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Jason A. Cipriano (2017)

Length: 5 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2 Clans of Shadow

Cipriano’s Page ~ Garner’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 of the series and it works best if you’ve already read Book 1, Heart of Gold.

Frank Butcher used to be a package delivery man but events nearly killed him and Dr. Gabrielle Perez placed a magical artifact, a heart of gold, in his chest to keep him going. The mayhem didn’t stop there and Gabrielle’s son Max was stolen by a group of murdering magic users. Now Frank and Gabrielle are trying to get him back and save the world along the way.

The Golem we met in Book 1 gets a bigger role in this book and I’m glad to see his character growing (hardening? setting up? baked?). Abner (who Frank annoys by calling Aby) saves the day once or twice. Also some of the bad guys from Book 1 get more depth in this book. Tabitha, who Frank likes to annoy by calling Tabi, has a bit more going on than I initially expected. In fact, there’s this pretty emotional scene between her and Frank where Frank gets some much needed answers but then things get messy.

There’s still some sparks between Gabrielle (who Frank annoys by calling Gabby) but she’s caught up with figuring out how to get Max back so romance is put on the back burner. Speaking of Max, he’s got some special power that the head of this murdering band of sorcerers wants to put to bad use. We get a glimpse of Max but we still haven’t rightfully met him. He’s basically an object to quest for or fight over right now.

The head of this unscrupulous group of child stealers is named something mellow like Virgil or Cecil or Liam or such. I keep picture him sipping tea and concealing a dagger behind his back. He definitely needs to be taken down!

Frank has the same humor as in Book 1 but here it’s put to better use. I didn’t tire of it as I did in Book 1. I like all the movie references. The heavier scenes definitely balanced out all of Frank’s throw away comments and quips.

The action rolls on through this book, it never being a dull moment. Looking forward to Book 3.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Joe Hempel was great with this book. He’s so good at playing Frank. I also like his voice for Gabrielle, it being feminine, and carrying the right mix of emotions depending on the scene. His voice for Abner is great as well.

What I Liked: Great cover art; Tabitha had more going on than I thought; Gabrielle doesn’t give up; Boss Evil Dude is evil; Frank’s humor; the more serious scenes balance the story out; great narration.

What I Disliked: I’d like to see a bit more done with Max. Right now he’s just a place holder.

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2010)

Length:  21 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 2 Naamah Trilogy

Author’s Page

Note: This is the second book in the third trilogy set in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. However, this last trilogy is set a few generations later and stands on it’s own. This book, as the second in this trilogy, works mostly well as a stand alone but is definitely enhanced by having read Naamah’s Kiss.

We return to Moirin’s adventures as she sets off to find Bao, her stubborn warrior love. She leaves the relatively comfortable Chi’in lands for the wilder and much colder territories ruled by the Tartar tribes. Once reunited, things don’t go as expected and some double crossing has them separated again. Moirin has to match wits with a Vralian religious zealot and later on face the Spider Queen!

It was good to be back in Moirin’s world. Her archery skills serve her well once again, as well as her small magics. For me, the beginning and then the last third of the book were more interesting than the middle part. She starts off on this solo quest to find Bao and that tests her determination and dedication to Bao. When they meet up, Bao is living with his father’s people. Sparks fly…. but then a complication becomes apparent to Moirin. The two simply can’t go off and have their own lives. The Tartars love their competitions which center mostly around horses and archery. Yep! Moirin has another opportunity to be the one that saves Bao.

The middle part sees them separated and Moirin is held captive by this man and his family as they attempt to convert her to their religion. There are a lot of good points in this section wrapped up in this story and these characters but I found that it lagged a bit. After all, I agree with Moirin 100% in this section so the arguments only reinforced my dislike for people who try to push their religious believes onto others.

The last third of the book sees us back in adventure land as Moirin befriends the Lady of Rats and has to face off against the Spider Queen and her husband, the Falconer. They have a band of assassins. Moirin is definitely in danger! Then there’s the caste system that has been strictly enforced for generations. Moirin had a real balancing act here between what she felt was right and also respecting local culture and religion. It was a tightrope walk.

Since Bao isn’t with Moirin for much of this book, he doesn’t play as big a role. He’s often in Moirin’s thoughts but she has herself to worry about as she travels from one strange land to another searching for him. One of the things I really like about them as a couple is that they aren’t a traditional couple. Throughout this book, they care greatly for each other, respect each other, but they each have other lovers along the way and they are OK with that.

Moirin often does the rescuing even though she’s not some tall, athletic warrior. She has certain skills (archery, summoning the twilight, etc.) and she uses them wisely and quite well. She often uses her compassion and patience to win people over. Also, she doesn’t shirk her fair share of the tougher chores be them tending to her horses or taking out enemy scouts.

While I enjoyed the first book in the series a bit more, this was a pretty good adventure tale. I look forward to seeing what Bao and Moirin get up to in the third and final book.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik keeps on impressing me. In this book she takes on even more accents as Moirin travels out of Chi’in (Chinese accent), into Tartar lands, then Vralia (Russian accent), and finally into Rasa (Indian accent). She manages to keep all the characters distinct even though this book has a sizable cast. Her male voices are believable. One of her greatest strengths is nailing the nuanced emotions of the main characters – truly impressive!

What I Liked: Moirin’s adventures; Moirin is often doing the rescuing; Bao and Moirin aren’t the traditional heroic couple; Tartar competitions; how the caste system was handled; the Spider Queen’s assassins; great narration.

What I Disliked: The middle part where Moirin is in Vralia lagged a little for me.

What Others Think:

The Book Smugglers

io9

The Eyrie

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Cafe

Speed-Reading Book Nerd Reviews

A Wizard by R. F. Whittaker

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Richard Whittaker (2016)

Length: 5 hours 38 minutes

Author’s Page 

Ambrose is in a self-imposed exile after he accidentally killed a man with his magic. Now this wizard roams the wilderness looking for a purpose and possibly for redemption. He comes across Bertold who has a bloodsucker imprisoned. He’s waiting for the sun to rise and roast her alive. Ambrose won’t stand for this and his actions change the course of his life, bringing unexpected companions into his life along with deadly danger.

This tale had some high points, some amusing moments, and a lot of info dumps. Sometimes I was totally engaged and sometimes I was bored. the villains are really easy to spot being brutish, so that took some of the suspense out of the book.

Florentina is the bloodsucker (vampire) that Ambrose rescued at the beginning of the tale. She’s got some dimension to her. She’s suffering from an illness that means she needs fresh blood. Ambrose vows to find a cure for her but his wizard skills are still in their fledgling state. He bumbles his way through the book. Florentina offers some wisdom and acts like a central spoke around which all the other characters rotate.

Each time we got a new character in this tale, there would be a big info dump that would mostly be their back story. It was a rather tedious way to get introduced to each character. It often took me away from the plot. From Florentina to Reggie to the Wolfboy to even Bertold. It was like reading a character development sheet instead of being an integrated part of the story.

Florentina and Ambrose fall in love almost instantly. It’s not even lust. It’s this deep soul-cleaving love. Since it was so automatic I had trouble getting behind it.

The Tookingtons were amusing. They were these little animated flowers that acted as an honor guard for Florentina. Definitely dangerous in great numbers.

By the end, Ambrose and his crew still have some things to wrap up. I smell a sequel in the making. I was very satisfied to see that Ambrose had found his tribe. He’s the stronger for it.

The Narration: Jake Urry is so good in every book I have listened to him narrate and his performance here doesn’t disappoint. He gives Florentina an accent. The Wolfboy gets his own unique voice. The ladies sound like actual women. Ambrose’s emotions are nicely displayed in this narration.

What I Liked: The cover art; the initial set up; Ambrose’s quest; all these misfits that are brought together; ending left room for a sequel; great narration.

What I Disliked: Insta-love didn’t work for me; lots of info dumps.

Naamah’s Blessing – The Schedule

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Naamah’s Blessing is Book 3 of the third trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. I’ve been saving this book for something special since it is the final book in the Terre D’Ange Cycle. I’m very glad to be reading it for the first time along with this great group of bloggers.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Chapters 1-15, July 24th, hosted by Dab of Darkness
Week 2: Chapters 16-29, July 31st, hosted by Dab of Darkness
Week 3: Chapters 30-42, Aug 7th, hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Week 4: Chapters 43-57, August 14th, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 5: Chapters 58-71, August 21st, hosted by Tethyan Books
Week 6: Chapters 72-END, August 28th, hosted by Dab of Darkness

And here is the current list of participators:

Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

Book Blurb for Naamah’s Blessing:

Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three-year-old Desiree is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances. As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest. Another specter from the past also haunts Moirin. Travelling with Thierry in the New World is Raphael de Mereliot, her manipulative former lover. Years ago, Raphael forced her to help him summon fallen angels in the hopes of acquiring mystical gifts and knowledge. It was a disastrous effort that nearly killed them, and Moirin must finally bear the costs of those bitter mistakes.

 

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 NAAMAH’S BLESSING in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Audible Giveaway & Review: The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com (2017)

Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

Series: Books 1-8 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

This charming collection of children’s tales all center around dragons of one ilk or another. Each story can be read as a stand alone. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing two of these stories previously and when I saw that he narrator had 8 stories in one collection, I couldn’t resist. I know it would be good stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. These stories are great for kids and fun for adults too.

The Book of Beasts – This is one of the stories I have previously listened to and reviewed. It was just as good the second time around. The child king Lionel finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too! 5/5

Uncle James – This story was so cute and it was mostly because there are cute little dog-sized elephants! Who doesn’t want a pet elephant that can snuggle on your lap and eat popcorn while you watch Flight of the Dragons? This tale takes place in Rotundia where all the sizes are backwards and a dragon has shown up that wants a princess as a present. Now this isn’t your typical ‘save the princess from the dragon’ story, as young Tom found out. By the way, keep your eye on Uncle James. He may not be trustworthy! 5/5

The Deliverers of Their Country – This was my favorite out of all the stories. It starts with young Effie getting something in her eye and that something is a teensy tiny dragon! Go ahead, squeal in love and excitement. I know I did. Who doesn’t want to adopt such a little dragon? However, these small dragons keep popping up throughout the land and they are starting to wreak havoc. Now Effie and her friend Harry have to find a way to reduce the number of dragons. It’s a clever solution to an over-population problem. 6/5

The Ice Dragon – Imagine North Pole dwarves dressed in seal skin. Now toss in an ice dragon. Lastly, make room for two adventurous kids, George and Jane, who just wanted to see the Northern Lights. things go ever so wrong. This story was actually a little gruesome because it has a bit of a body count. It’s not gory but I was a little surprised at little bit of darkness that crept into this story. Still, it was clever and the kids survive, so all’s well. 5/5

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – This was an interesting one. A childless Queen goes to an old witch begging for a child and the witch takes her jewels and uses them to whip up a baby girl. The Queen is totally satisfied but the King wanted a boy. So obviously, that makes a wedge between the couple. When the daughter reaches a certain age, he banishes her to an island that is protected by big beasties, like a dragon. Her mother, the Queen, and the witch both make sacrifices to make it possible for her to one day be rescued. I liked that the story hinged upon the love for an old crone. However, the princess to be rescued seemed rather daft to me, which I didn’t really care for. 4/5

The Fiery Dragon – This is the second story in this collection that gives a nod to St. George, a famous dragon slayer. Granddaughter Sabrinetta has got some skills on her which is a good thing because her unscrupulous cousin, Prince Tiresome, tosses her out of the dragon-proof tower to deal with the fiery dragon. Luckily she has a great friend, Elfin the pigkeeper, who can help her. That’s another thing I really like about these stories – so often there’s a ‘commoner’ that is essential to solving whatever dragon issue there is. 5/5

The Dragon Tamers – This had a little steampunky feel to it. John is a blacksmith and he and his wife have a new baby that cries often and loudly. Yet even with that intermittent noise, John has noticed an odd sound coming from the basement. He finally has to go down there for coal and he meets this dragon that needs rivets to repair his wing. The dragon isn’t shy about telling John what he plans to do once his wing is repaired: eat all the people including John and his family. Now John has to outsmart this dragon and that loud baby gets to play a key role in the subterfuge. It was clever and fun. 5/5

Kind Little Edmond – This is the second story I had the privilege to enjoy previously. This is the tale of young Edmond, who was filled to the brim with curiosity, so much so that he often irritated his elders. But not his loving and doting grandmother. Edmond decides to explore the nearby mountains and hears some very odd sounds. He meets and helps a mythical beast, a manticore, who rewards him by telling him magnificent tales. This was a great little tale and I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed this one as the tale has this underlying current about the value of learning things for oneself. 5/5

The Last of the Dragons – This great little story turns the typical princess + dragon + prince story on it’s head. Tradition requires the princess to be rescued from the dragon by a prince. However, this princess would much rather rely on her own fencing skills. The dragon isn’t too thrilled about the idea of coming out, threatening a nice young lady, and then being slain for the sake of tradition. This prince is up for doing something different. Why should he have to do all the hard work? It’s a great story to finish out the book. 5/5

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

The Narration: Karen Krause does such a lovely job with this classic. Her little kid voices are so believable yet she is also great at doing grumpy elderly characters as well. Her voices for the various beasts are also fun. You can tell that she enjoyed narrating these tales as much as I enjoyed listening to them. Great performance all around!

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; it’s great to see these classics come to audiobook; a charming collection of dragon tales; the author is great at switching things up; kids and adults, boys and girls, rich and poor, clever and kind – just a great representation with these characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – such a great little book. 

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author E. Nesbit:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness.

In “A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924”, Julia Briggs labeled Edith Nesbit Bland as the “first modern writer for children” and credits Nesbit with having invented the children’s adventure story.  Some of her best known stories are The Railway Children, Five Children and It and her Bastable family stories, The Story of the Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods.  Her stories combined realistic children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventure, including travel to fantastical lands.  She has influenced such writers as P.L. Travers (Mary Poppins), Edward Eager (Tales of Magic) and J.K. Rowling and several of her stories have been adapted for film and television.  

Nesbit was a free thinker, a political activist, and co-founder of the Fabian Society.  A young Noel Coward, who was a great admirer of hers, once said she was “the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen”.

Wikipedia

Synopsis of The Book of Dragons 1-8:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness. This is a collection of nine of her fairy tales with a common theme – Dragons! For children from five to 95, these stories are not to be taken seriously. Let your imagination run wild!

The Book of Beasts – A young king finds a magical book once owned by his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and unwittingly sets a wicked beast loose in his kingdom. Now he must find a way to best the beast and win back the love of his subjects.

Uncle James – The island kingdom of Rotundia is normal in every way but one – all the animals are the wrong sizes. And when a purple dragon finds its way to the island and desires the princess as a birthday present, young Tom the garderner’s son, along with his lap dog sized elephant Fido, must find a way to save her.

The Deliverers of Their Country – “It all started when Effie got something in her eye…” and before the week was out, the country was overrun with dragons of all sizes. Effie and Harry decide something must be done, so they set out to wake St. George.

The Ice Dragon – Have you ever wanted to travel to the North Pole? See the Aurora Borealis up close and personal? Well, make sure you catch up to George and Jane, two disobedient children, who on December 11th, set out to do just that, finding adventure and a dragon on the way.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – When the King and Queen were ready to have a child, the Queen did what all good queens do; she visited the local witch. But she forgot to specify the King wanted a boy child.

The Fiery Dragon – Poor Sabrinetta, granddaughter to brave St. George the dragonslayer, has been banished to her dragon-proof tower while her evil cousin rules her kingdom. But when the dragon wakes, Prince Tiresome runs to the safety of her tower, throwing her out to fend off the dragon by herself. Can she and Elfin the pigkeeper save her people before the dragon has his way with them?

The Dragon Tamers – John the Blacksmith doesn’t know what is at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the dungeon. With any luck, he’ll never find out. But one day when he goes into the dungeon to fetch more coal, he comes face to face with the dragon that has risen from the depths. It looks like today John’s luck may have run out. Or is it just beginning?

Kind Little Edmond – Edmund is not fond of learning but he loves to find out. One day he finds out about the creatures living in the mountain near his village and thinks maybe he doesn’t like finding out about things so much after all. But once the creatures have been found, there is nothing to do but find a way to save the village before it’s too late.

The Last of the Dragons – As tradition holds, on her 16th birthday, the Princess must be tied to a post and left for the dragon. Of course, the Prince has always slain the dragon and saved the Princess. But this Princess is none too confident in the Prince’s ability to save her. She’s much better at her fencing lessons than he. So why can’t the Prince be tied up and saved by the Princess? And, why must the last dragon in England be slain at all?

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Karen Krause:

Karen grew up in a musical family and started singing with her daddy’s band when she was knee-high to a grasshopper, as they say in her native Ozark Mountains.  She’s been performing ever since, playing to anyone who would sit still long enough. When she wasn’t demanding to be the center of attention, she was high in her backyard tree reading just about anything she could get her hands on.  Her love of theatre and the stage grew from school plays and backyard shows to a college degree and regional theatre.  And her love of literature grew as well.  She discovered the world of audiobooks when they really were books on tape and has been an avid fan ever since.  About five years ago, she had an epiphany (why it took her so long is a mystery).  She could combine her love of performing with her love of the spoken word.  She recorded her first audiobook in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.  She just finished her 39th book and it will be released on Audible in June.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 3-month Audible subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 8th, 2017.
The Book of Dragons Giveaway

Naamah’s Curse Part V

The read along continues with Naamah’s Curse, Book 2 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 65-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

What did you make of the mission to retrieve the black diamond and what do you actually make of the black diamond and whether it could be used for good?

It was great to see Amrita draw the line in the sand and say ‘This is enough!’ Of course, she had Bao who had the key to the labyrinthine way into the mountain keep. She also had Moirin to assist in taking out scouts and twilighting the power of the diamond. I think if any one of them hadn’t been available for this quest, it would have failed.

I was surprised how little the Falcon lord got to play in this. We learned very little about him and he died in the fighting. Seems he really doesn’t like pregnant women nor vagina that has seen a baby pass through it.

Much like the Lost Book of Raziel that Phedre ended up with or the knowledge of how to make a trapped demon that Imriel had, somethings are too powerful to use often or at all. I think this is one of those things.

The Spider Queen and Amrita – what were your final thoughts on both of them – did you have sympathy for Jagrati? Do you think Amrita can affect change in the caste system?

I think Jagrati needed sympathy many years ago, but no, I didn’t have sympathy for her now. She’s right in that the caste system is corrupt and often used as an excuse to treat other humans like garbage or slaves. However, instead of using her anger to better people, she used it to enslave others and enrich only herself.

I hope Amrita can make a lasting change. She is using small steps (she hasn’t abolished the caste system, merely given some basic rights to the lowest caste) and she’s getting plenty of resistance. However, she’s also leading by example like when she visits the slums and touches members of the ‘Untouchable’ caste. I hope these experiences bolster her new found beliefs and perhaps even show her further that poverty in and of itself doesn’t mean you’re paying for some past life’s sins.

Moirin and Bao – they’ve made peace with each other. Did you finally forgive Bao? Do you think they’ve reached an understanding that will work for them?

Yes, I think this will be a lasting bond. Moirin has been honest with herself and then with Bao, even if she was only fooling around in a dream with the dead Jehane.

Bao has done much to show that he truly cares for Moirin and I think seeing the caste system may have dampened his own need to ‘make a name’ for himself. He is worthy of Moirin and she of him. Royal titles aren’t needed to prove that.

Finally – any predictions for where the journey will take us next? Can you see a purpose in Moirin’s diadh-anam??

I haven’t read the third book as I have been saving it for something special, like this read along. I’m guessing we might make it over to the Americas with the third book. In the Terre D’Ange Cycle, the characters have taken us nearly everywhere in the world now, so we have the Americas, the Poles, and some islands (like Australia and such) left. Plus I’m guessing Moirin will have to make it back to Terre D’Ange to deal with some issue there and then finally home to see her mom.

 

Other Tidbits:

 

I’m glad to see the harem rescued and everyone who was it in found a home with Amrita and her people. I was a little sad that so many of them can’t return to their families because they are considered sullied.

It was interesting to see how shy Amrita’s people were about huddling in that horrible cold for warmth.

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 CURSE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Fade Rippers by Kenny Soward

Narrator: Scott Aiello

Publisher: Broken Dog Press (2017)

Length: 4 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 Galefire

Author’s Page 

Lonnie is a gofer to a low-level Cincinnati gang, the 8th Street Gang. He’s been working for them for years and his memories, both long-term and day-to-day, are fuzzy. He has vague memories of a wife and 7 year old daughter but he also has memories of riding a dragon once upon a time. Obviously, he chocks that up to all the drug use, at least until a drawn out gun fight reveals to him that his boss, Selix, has some supernatural powers.

This is both a gritty and drug-hazy urban fantasy. Lonnie and his gang live in this grungy, questionable place and spend quite a bit of time watching bad TV, doing a variety of drugs, and screwing around. That’s when they aren’t involved in illegal activities like gun fights and selling drugs. Lonnie himself is in a perpetual drug haze for most of the book and as he starts to break through that haze, more and more memories come to the forefront, causing him to question what’s real and what’s not.

I really enjoyed this story because it wasn’t the typical mystery + magic urban fantasy and Lonnie wasn’t your typical hero. He’s mopping up blood while listening to the news, letting his mind wander. He does whatever he’s told to do because he’s the lowest man in the gang though he often doesn’t like it. In fact, we learn that early on when he decides not to take a call from the Brit, who is second in command of the little gang. I had fun with this character because he can be so proper and deadly at the same time.

Then the shooting starts. There’s this great fight scene that is probably one of the longest in fantasy literature. This prolonged fight acts like a trigger for the real Lonnie that’s buried under years of drug use and mind manipulation. It turns out Selix, leader of the gang, has some supernatural powers that include memory manipulation. As with all the members of the gang, the right combination of drugs can bolster their supernatural powers or keep them suppressed. I was a little concerned that this would be used as an excuse to do as they please, and there is a bit of that with some of the characters (such as with the raven-haired goth twins Ingrid and Elsa). After all, they do live in pretty dismal conditions. Crash (who has a Jamaican accent), one of the biggest guys Lonnie has ever seen, acts as muscle for the gang. Then we learn there’s a bigger secret they are trying to keep hidden and that one centers around Lonnie.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Fade. That’s where Selix and the rest draw their power from. For Selix, dancing and the right drugs can help her pull on that power. However, there’s more going on there as well. There’s a revenge story in the middle of all this and Lonnie has his part to play. This tale was never boring! With that said, I would have liked a bit more explanation on the Fade and how is works with this gang.

I liked that the author included specific weapons. For instance, Lonnie uses a Springfield XDS instead of the author just saying Lonnie had a handgun.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Scott Aiello was a great pick for this book. His narration was a great performance. He was perfect for Lonnie as he goes through all the changes he does in this book. His female voices were believable and he kept all the characters distinct. He even threw in some well done accents, like British and Jamaican.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; not your typical urban fantasy; drug use; dancing; the Fade; the various supernatural powers; Lonnie’s journey in this book; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would liked to have seen more time on how the Fade is used by the gang. 

What Others Think: 

Rob J. Hayes

The Audiobook Reviewer

The Bookwyrm Speaks

Brian’s Book Blog

The Devil’s Due by CM Raymond & LE Barbant

Narrator: Ben Smith

Publisher: Smoke & Steel Press (2017)

Length: 2 hours 53 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Jack Carson Story

Raymond’s Page ~ Barbant’s Page

Set in a small town in Iowa, the story opens with the mysterious Jack Carson, who goes by Jack York. He’s obviously on the run from something and the local bartender, Maizey, is the first to call him on it. There’s something very odd about Jack. The Feds are very interested in finding him, believing he has the answers concerning an exploded building. Jack is also searching for something, a girl in a photo he carries with him. However, his quest is waylaid as he becomes entangled in the local illegal going-ons.

This was a fun story that reminded me of The Jack Reacher series but it has a touch of the fantastical since our Jack has some special, otherworldly abilities. The opening of the story requires some focus since the authors drop us directly into the middle of Jack’s life. We have to figure out that he’s on the run, what he’s on the run from, and what abilities he’s hiding. I was intrigued from the start and the tale held my attention all the way through.

Jack’s got quite a bit on his plate already, but he entangles himself with the local small town criminals when he defends the bartender Maizey in a little bar brawl. While this is a little cliched, it’s a useful plot device to suck our beleaguered hero into the local bad guy antics.

Mr. Hill runs most, if not all, of the town’s illegal activities and his two main henchmen take a decided interest in Jack. When they turn up rather injured, Mr. Hill makes it clear that Jack can either work for him or Mr. Hill will turn him into the Feds. So our Jack is hired on as muscle for Hill’s crew. That doesn’t go as expected, as you might imagine and Jack finds himself in an even tighter position. Now he has to decide whether to stand with the town against Mr. Hill and his crew, or flee from Iowa continuing to hide from the Feds.

There’s really only 3 female characters in this tale. There’s Maizey, who has a little mystery to her and is an interesting character. Then there’s a female Federal Agent hunting Jack who is continuously underestimated by her coworkers. She has potential but has very little time in this story. Then there’s the girl in the picture. She’s basically a place holder now. We don’t know if she’s a grown woman or an actual girl, we don’t have her name, and we don’t really know why Jack is searching for her (though I have this impression he wants to protect her). So I would have liked a better gender balance with the characters since there are plenty of male characters in this story.

The action and the twists and turns of the story were well done. They are well interspersed among quieter moments in Jack’s life, many of which were his various chats with Maizey. By the end, some things are resolved but other things are left hanging. It’s not until near the end that we learn it was a science lab that was destroyed but since that’s in the book’s description, I don’t mind mentioning it in this review. This mysterious girl in the photo is still a big question mark. The source of Jack’s special abilities and his limitations are also big question marks. While there’s plenty to build upon here in future books, I would have liked a bit more info on Jack’s personal quest to find this mystery girl.

All in all, it’s an entertaining listen and a solid start to a new action-packed series. I really like this little twist of Jack’s special powers. I look forward to learning more about his past.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Ben Smith was pretty good for this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. He did speak a bit fast but with the Audible app, I could slow it down and it sounded normal. Occasionally, there were a few mouth noises and at least once, he repeated a short sentence. He did a really good job with the various emotions the characters had.

What I Liked: The lovely cover art; Jack’s troubles – all of them piling on him; Maizey isn’t your typical bar tender; Mr. Hill makes a great villain to hate on; the various mysteries surrounding Jack; the Feds hunting Jack; how Jack leaves the town.

What I Disliked: Could have used more female characters; could have used a few more loose ends tied up.

Escape from the Overworld by Danica Davidson

Narrator: Dan Woren

Publisher: Audible Studios (2015)

Length: 2 hours

Series: Book 1 Overworld Adventures

Author’s Page

Minecraft comes to the real world! Stevie is happily building his treehouse when night begins to settle. Oooopppsss! He’s suppose to be home by now. But he has to fight his way past a creeper then a mob of zombies! Things don’t go smoothly and he feels like the worst mob fighter ever. The next day he spots a portal and he takes his chances, popping out of a computer screen on the other end into Maison’s bedroom. The sixth grader and Stevie quickly become friends, which is a good thing because the monsters of Minecraft have also discovered the portal and the people of Maison’s world are not well-equipped to deal with them!

I’ve never played Minecraft but this book was easy to get into anyway. Stevie is seeking his dad’s approval and is constantly measuring himself against his dad’s great deeds with his diamond sword. This little misadventure into Maison’s world gives him a chance to stand on his own and have great deeds to tell of later.

Maison was fun and bright. She’s keen on building things and wants to be an architect like her mom. While surprised to have Stevie pop out of her computer screen, she’s also very excited to show him her school and perhaps visit his world. Unfortunately, this also means having to deal with the school bullies, Dirk and Mitch. Argh! I wanted to pinch their ears and haul them off to the principle’s office!

Later on, once the zombies and spiders start showing up at the school, the bullies get their comeuppance. Also, Stevie’s wood working skills are greatly appreciated. Maison gets her wish as she and Stevie have to go back to Minecraft to deal with the portal. Together, they and Stevie’s dad come up with a solution that lets them continue their friendship. I really liked how Maison was able to get Stevie’s dad to see how worthy his son is.

All around, it’s a great little family-oriented story. You don’t need to be familiar with the Minecraft game to enjoy it.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Dan Woren was a great fit for this book. He sounds like a young Stevie and he was great at portraying his emotions. He also made a really good Maison. Then he had adult voices as well for Stevie’s dad and the school shop teacher. His bully voices were spot on as well.

What I Liked: Fun story line; Stevie’s wood working skills; Maison’s enthusiasm for building stuff; how the bullies were dealt with; big spiders!; showing Stevie’s dad that Stevie is worthy; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it’s a great family-oriented story.

What Others Think: 

The Simply Me Blog