Naamah’s Kiss Part I

Clementine being cute.

Clementine being cute.

The read along continues with Naamah’s Kiss, Book 1 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 your host. We’re covering Chapters 1-12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Firstly, Carey has picked up the story a few generations down the line. How do you think this will affect the story, if at all?

This is a great question. The short answer is: I don’t know. Perhaps not. While this is a reread for me, it was years ago and I only have vague memories of this book. I will point out that Carey did a great job keeping the focus of her second trilogy on Imriel and not falling back on Phedre and Joscelin, which probably would have been easy to do. So I expect Moirin will remain front and center.

So far, it has been interesting to hear of Alais the Wise and of the horrible memory magic played on the City of Elua from Moirin and her generation.

2) We have a new female lead.  What are your first impressions of Moirin?

Moirin is something unexpected. That’s my impression. She has Naamah’s whisper in her dreams and Anael’s gift of making flowers bloom or ripen to seeds. Yet she can also make herself invisible and the great Mother Bear has recognized her as her own. So, there’s great potential in Moirin even if it’s not the potential her people expected.

Plus, I like that she is excited to learn, even if that is how to read or to wear proper clothing or ride a horse.

3) I enjoyed the return to Alba, and once again meeting the Maghuin Dhonn – what did you make of the coming of age ritual?

Magic mushrooms can alter your perception of reality and give you what you need.

But for the sake of this story, I am very glad that Moirin was so very stubborn and that the Great Bear eventually came and claimed Moirin as her own. I think that fierce look of belonging and pride will sustain her through some hard times.

Also, I like that she got to meet some other teens of the Maghuin Dhonn.

4) The story already has the inclusion of magic and also visions of Gods – any predictions on what these visions and magic might bring to the story?

Yeah… Let’s chat about this. In the first series, there’s perhaps what one might call magical realism – the sexual magic of the Night Court and Phedre’s red dot in her iris. Later in that series, we get some definite glimpses of deities and magic, but it’s light. In the second series, we see more magic, though often Imriel is on the receiving end of it and not the person casting the magic (tho there was that tiny bit where he put charms on Sidonie). Now we have Moirin who is raised with magic. To her, it is a natural part of being and I don’t think she could imagine her life with her little magics or not knowing there are true deities out there that interact with folk of this world. It’s a beautiful progression of the Terre D’Ange Cycle, don’t you think?

As far as predictions, well this trilogy has Naamah’s name in each book title, so I am guessing we will have plenty of sexy times in this trilogy.

Other Tidbts:

Moirin’s first experience with a book was precious! I think I would have been the same if I hadn’t experienced a book until I was 9 or 10.

The memory erase magic is a powerful and dire magic indeed!

Moirin is sort of named for the Morwen of old, the one who tricked Imriel time and again in a vain and desperate attempt to save her people. That is a dire portent for the beginning of the story!

Oh, Killian! Let’s all raise a beer, perhaps a Killian Red, to the youth! Mostly, I feel for Moirin because she was basically kicked out of Alban society with his death.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
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 KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

McGuireIndexingNarrator: Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2014)

Length: 12 hours 5 minutes

Series: Book 1 Indexing

Author’s Page

In this urban fantasy, fairy tales can kill. A person can get caught up in their story and then the narrative will carry that person to the forgone conclusion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Sleeping Beauty, a Wicked Stepsister, or a Pied Piper, eventually the story will be too strong for you to ignore and then you will no longer have a choice.

Henrietta (Henry) Marchen runs an indexing team for the ATI Management Bureau. They are tasked with tracking down these narratives that just went active, indexing them (which is figuring out what class of fairy tale and how strong they are), and diffusing them before the story creates a body count. Sometimes the only way to diffuse a narrative is to take out the human at the center of the story, because they are no longer in control of their actions. Henry has to make some tough calls during this tale. Her little team is like family; they all have their hangups and they all care about each other.

In truth, I did find some aspects of this book difficult to keep track of. Once I figured out what was going on with the narrative, it got a little easier. Sometimes the long wordy explanations (which might have been a spoof on actual government procedure documents) was cumbersome and didn’t really help explain anything. Plus, they were a bit boring. Rather, the conversations between characters did the best to explain how a fairy tale can take over a small piece of reality and what, if anything, the ATI folks could do about it.

Other than that, there was some great stuff going on in this book. I liked thinking of modern Sleeping Beautys or Snow Whites trying to make their way working in an office or a daycare center. It often gave me a chuckle. My favorite side character was Sloan Winters. She was awesome! She got to say all sorts of cranky things I wish I could say at the office, and her team understood because that’s how her fairy tale built her. McGuire also pays a nod to the transgender community with a character and I thought that was well done.

There’s also this murder mystery going on. At first, it looks like random narrative attacks and there’s a few bodies piling up. However, the indexing team does love to analyze stuff so pretty soon it looks like there’s some sort of pattern and perhaps someone or something is controlling the narrative outbreaks. The murder mystery part took some time to get going, but once it did, it really added to the story.

Over all, I did enjoy this book, though I find McGuire’s other urban fantasy series, the Toby Daye series, much easier to get into. That series teaches you the rules as you go along, whereas this series tends to have big chunks of convoluted rules dumped on you, sometimes repeatedly. Still, I think it’s worth the time and effort.

I had access to a free copy of this book through the Kindle Unlimited program.

The Narration: Mary Robinette Kowal did a good job, as usual. I really liked her voice for Sloan, who is always snappish. She did a great job shifting from a character’s every day voice to their ‘possessed’ fairy tale voice. 

What I Liked: Fairy tales are trying to take over my life!; Henry is a good choice for team lead; Sloan and her work attitude! So funny! So snappish!; the murder mystery; the team pulling together for the ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: There are some convoluted rules that are given in big info dumps; these info dumps are repeated.

What Others Think:

For the Love of Words

Books for Ears

Cabin Goddess

Green Man Review

Tales of an intrepid pantster

SKJAM! Reviews

Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh, My!

Open Book Society

SFF Audio

Naamah’s Kiss Read Along – The Schedule

Clementine being cute.

Clementine being cute.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Naamah’s Kiss is Book 1 of the third trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. You don’t have to have read the first two trilogies to enjoy this third one, as it occurs a few generations after the second trilogy. Lynn over at Lynn’s Book Blog is acting as co-pilot for this read along as I deal with medical stuff. Thanks Lynn! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Dec. 5th Week 1 – Chapters 1-12, Hosted Lynn’s Book Blog
Dec. 12th Week 2 – Chapters 13-26, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Dec. 19th Week 3 – Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Dec. 26th Week 4 – Chapters 37-48, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Jan. 2nd Week 5 – Chapters 49-60, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Jan. 9th Week 6 – Chapters 61-74, Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Jan 16th Week 7 – Chapters 75-End, Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog

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
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

CareyNamaahsKissBook Blurb for Naamah’s Kiss:

Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn, the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago, the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath sworn in the name of all his people. Now only small gifts remain to them. Through her lineage, Moirin possesses such gifts—the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to grow.

Moirin has a secret, too. From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life—the bright lady and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Moirin learns only when she comes of age how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is. The great-granddaughter of Alais the Wise, child of the Maghuin Donn and a cousin of the Cruarch of Alba, Moirin learns her father was a D’Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance… on the condition that she fulfill an unknown destiny that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. Or perhaps oceans. Beyond Terre d’Ange, where she finds her father, in the far reaches of distant Ch’in, Moirin’s skills will be a true gift when facing the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, a noble warrior-princess desperate to save her father’s throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon.

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

Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Narrator: Simon Vance

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2008)

Length: 24 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 6 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 3 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3 of the first trilogy, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Mercy is best read as part of the second trilogy, if not as Book 6 in the larger series, since there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous books.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood, and Sidonie de la Courcel, Terre D’Ange’s princess and next in line to the throne, are in love. This doesn’t sit well with much of the realm because Imriel’s estranged birth mother, Melisande Shahrizai, betrayed the nation a generation ago. Imriel and Sidonie are faced with a difficult choice: Bring Melisande to justice or Sidonie will not inherit the throne. After beginning their search for Melisande in earnest, an unlikely city nation, Carthage, comes with luxurious gifts, promises of alliance, and an apparently heartfelt hope that Sidonie will consider their General Astegal for marriage. Things do not go as expected, for anyone.

This historical fantasy is another beautiful addition to the Terre D’Ange cycle. Through the adventures of Imriel and Sidonie, we learn more about this alternate world Carey has created. Carthage is a budding empire, rich in gold and gems but also dependent on slavery. General Astegal comes off as a very charming man, willing to bend to Terre D’Ange’s way of things when it comes to love; for instance, he wouldn’t be in a miff if Sidonie decided to have a harem of pretty young men. The other culture that really stood out for me was the Euskerri, which is akin to the Basque. Deeply proud and also demanding equality from their two neighboring countries – Terre D’Ange and Aragonia.

In the previous books, there has been some magic, though much of it is left up to the reader’s interpretation. In this novel, the magic is direct and has immediate consequences. Even though this is a reread for me, I always find myself surprised by how not subtle the magic component is in this story, as compared to the previous books. So how do you fight strong magic when you only have a passing experience with it? That is something that Imriel and Sidonie will have to figure out, though I do like all the hints that Elua, Terre D’Ange’s primary deity, may be giving them a hand. The magic does follow certain rules, which I liked, though it was quite the trial for Imriel to figure out what those rules were.

There’s plenty of adventure and sneaking about in this story. Imriel must make alliances with the most unlikely of people to even make a solid attempt to not only rescue Sidonie but the entire capitol of Terre D’Ange, the City of Elua. Indeed, spying, misdirection, and disguises make up a good part of the book. I think it was hardest on Imriel to deceive his beloved foster parents, Phedre and Joscelin. There’s some pretty intense scenes that had me holding my breath! Also, those scenes with Barquiel L’Enver, a man who has disliked Imriel since he was born, were quite worthy.

Sidonie really shines in this book. Even with everything told through Imriel’s eyes, Sidonie had some tough decisions to make and was at the center of some dangerous situations. Carey has this magical way of writing female characters behaving in feminine ways and still getting important stuff done. While Imriel is the character that carried me forward in this story, there’s a strong argument for Sidonie being that star of the story.

Each time we think our heroes have found the key to winning the day, there’s another twist or another spell or another hurdle or another bad guy that must be vanquished. One of the hardest things about this was that sometimes they had to find a way to sneak past, trick, or even fight friends and family that were ensnared in the magic. My poor nails! I was biting my nails too often with this story!

As with the series, there are incredible sex scenes that range from playful to desperate to healing to sad to joyful. Carey is just as detailed in her love scenes as she is with her use of cultures and linguistics. I always enjoy these scenes because they reveal something further about the characters.

The ending was well done. I was very satisfied that things were not easy to unravel and iron out. Not everyone gets everything they want. There’s plenty to be forgiven all around. Still, it was beautiful and satisfying.

The Narration: Simon Vance does this final book in Imriel’s trilogy justice. He had to take on further accents as our heroes experienced new cultures. There were also plenty of complicated emotions and intense scenes and Vance did a great job capturing the subtleties of those emotions in his voice work. Also, he did a fantastic job with the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Tangible magic with rules; Imriel has to make some unlikely alliances; Sidonie is at the heart of the matter and she shines through; exploration of further cultures in this alternate world; the love scenes; the intensity of Imriel interacting with his foster parents; Imriel and Sidonie really had to fight for their love; the ending was very satisfying.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is an excellent way to end this trilogy.

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

Eyrie

Fantasy Book Critic

Dear Author

Miss Geeky

The Bibliosanctum

Kushiel’s Mercy Part VII

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

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

This week, I am your host as Lisa had some unexpected appliance failures that wreaked havoc with her household this past week. We’re covering Chapters 76-End, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?

I actually don’t recall what I was expecting the first time I read this book. However, I do really like that these charms weren’t a cure all. Carey kept it real in that this is Imriel’s sincere attempt at a bit of magic he doesn’t really understand versus a well-wrought magic done by a master magician.

Other than having Kratos watch her as much as he could, I don’t think the three of them could have done anything more.

2) Mavros as part of the Queen’s Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua?

Mavros really was the one that shocked me the most. He’s been a stalwart friend, but I never pictured him in uniform! I wonder if he will keep the post, now that everything is back to normal? I can’t recall if that was mentioned at the end.

3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he’s knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways?

I want to believe that Elua and his Companions were making a true plea to the people of the City through Imri. Having Imri knocked unconscious and coming to in a position to see the the gem’s hiding place in the portrait was their backup plan.

4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel – his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn’t like?

I recall that the first time I read this book, I was truly worried that Kratos would die by Joscelin’s hand. That would have been a true sorrow! So that fight was definitely worrisome. I’m glad that Imri trusted the core of Joscelin and came up with his unexpected tackling.

When Imri put a blade to Sidonie, I knew he wouldn’t harm her, but I wasn’t sure she would trust him enough to do what was needed.

Demon! OK, so it’s freed and the spell broken and perhaps it was a grateful enough to give them a bow, but I have always wondered what the demon did next. Does it have a home with other demons that missed it? Or did it seek out Bodeshmun’s soul and torment him? Did it zip off to some other town and torment innocent souls?

5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you?

In a way, I’m glad we had Imriel’s madness and his return to sanity to show us how regretful he was over the things he said and did while his wits were not solely his own. I can only imagine how a big city and most of the nation’s army felt. Yet we also have the folks, like Drustan, who were bespelled but then left, regaining their wits. So they can now they can help guide the rest to reconciliation.

That scene where Sidonie requests Imriel to fetch her mom to help out in getting people settled and Imriel goes to Ysandre, only to have Ysandre turn him down, and then he pushed back – that was awesome.

6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered?

Yes, the wedding was beautiful. It was also good to see the Bastard returned and the real Leander (who I think Sidonie wants to do a three-some with). It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters, so of course I can think of all sorts of things I would love to see – like just where Phedre and Joscelin hid the lost book of Raziel. That whole demon question I had above. Alais and her role in Alba. What will Barquiel do now, or perhaps even more exciting, a young Barquiel’s adventures.

Other Tidbts:

Too bad there wasn’t a trusted female servant for Sidonie that could have kept an eye on her in the bath. Which also begs the question of how she kept her back scar from being questioned, because I suspect she did have bath attendants….

I love that she turned the scar into a beautiful tattoo. I expect that breaks all sorts of taboos, just as Phedre no Montreve having a marque and being a Peer of the realm was worth commenting on back in her day.

Melisande has her official pardon… and now I wonder about what’s his face who accidentally killed his sister Persia. Will he get a pardon?

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
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 KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Shifting Into Love First Gear by Evelyn Aster

AsterShiftingIntoLoveFirstGearPublisher: Hot Java (2016)

Length: 57 pages

Author’s Page

Lana has been shifting from place to place for years now. She lives in and works in the Harrigan’s bar and the bar shifts when it wants to and Lana doesn’t have a say in it. Then one day, Jones pulls up on his Triumph motorcycle, Alea, and Lana meets the first other person to know what it’s like to shift without rhyme or reason. In Jones’s life, Alea calls the shots about where they travel to next.

This was a fun little piece. From the title, I expected there to be shifters (werewolves or werebears or werehyenas or such) but instead we have these physical things (a bar, a bike) that are somehow psychically attached to their humans (Lana, Jones) and shift about the country. This was a unique take on the paranormal romance trope.

Harrigan (the entity that makes up the bar) has the ability to tell what kind of drink best suits a person when they walk in (which is an excellent skill to have). Since Harrigan is psychically linked to Lana, she also knows and can serve Chase a Zima (a drink I haven’t had since college) as he walks in the door. He’s handsome but carries a sorrowful weight that lends him some seriousness. Lana’s definitely interested in showing Chase her upstairs room for a night… before they shift away again. But then Jones shows up and Lana has never met a man like him before.

Since this is a romance, we do get a few sex scenes towards the end of the tale. One is hot and fast and the other is sweet and charming. While I’m not particularly into romance, I did quite enjoy the sex scenes. Things didn’t turn out how I imagined they would, so kudos to the author for surprising me yet again with this story.

I did find Harrigan much more developed than Alea, but we got to spend more time in Lana’s head than in Jones’s head. There’s some mystery around Harrigan’s and I want to know more about how long this bar has been shifting around the States, how he met (captured?) Lana, and why does Harrigan’s bar shift every day? Of course I have all these same questions about Alea, though I expect it’s easier for her to shift, being a bike. Looking forward to the next installment!

What I Liked: Shifting bar; shifting bike; Lana is Harrigan’s chosen human; Harrigan can tell what drink best suits a person when they walk in the door; the sex scenes; the author surprised me twice with this paranormal romance!

What I Disliked: I’m a take it or leave it (mostly leave it) kind of person when it comes to romance, which is probably on me since I chose to read a paranormal romance book.

Guest Post: Inkitt publishes 4 algorithm-picked books and launches iOS app

You’ve previously read about Inkitt on Dab of Darkness, they are the first readers-driven book publisher and a fast-growing community for readers and writers. Emerging authors share their work on Inkitt to get feedback and find an audience while fiction lovers discover new writers and ‘read tomorrow’s bestsellers today for free’. Inkitt has developed an algorithm which analyzes reading behavior: as readers read, the algorithm gathers data and analyzes to understand how strong a potential a novel has to become a bestseller.

Last week, Inkitt launched their 4th algorithm-picked book, Esper Files. Ryan Attard’s novel was the winner of Inkitt’s Sky Bound writing contest. Esper Files follows a group of supernatural people and their struggle to use their abilities for good or evil. The book launched on the 2nd of November and within hours of release became a best seller on Amazon in its genre.

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Prior to that, Inkitt published two YA books, I Was A Bitch by Emily Ruben who won Inkitt’s Grand Novel writing contest and Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan who won the Swoon writing contest. Right after launch the reviews on Amazon came pouring in and both novels quickly became best sellers in their respective categories. Just Juliet, a coming out novel by a lesbian author, received immense support and praise within the LGBT community and remains the #1 best seller 8 weeks after launch in the Teen & Young Adult LGBT Issues Fiction category.

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Inkitt’s first publishing contest, Dreamlands, introduced Linda L. Garcia and her novel Catalyst Moon. This is the first volume in the exciting new fantasy series Incursion and reviewers on Amazon are already anxiously awaiting the release of the next book in the series.

Inkitt runs regular writing contests to help new writers get discovered and kickstart their career. They are all free to enter and all submissions are accepted as long as they fit within the respective guidelines. Their latest contest, The Novelist, just wrapped up and Inkitt will soon be announcing the three authors whose novels have been chosen for publication. Along with the release of these new novels, Inkitt is also hard at work to launch their next writing contest. Keep an eye out for the announcement here and on their Facebook Page.

Finally, for those of you who prefer to read on your iPhone and iPad, Inkitt has just launched their iOS app globally: it’s available to download on the App Store here.

The app offers a substantially better reading experience:

  • It’s fast and seamless, optimised for iOS devices
  • You can also read when offline, by adding stories to your ‘Offline Library’
  • Each user receives personalized reading suggestions based on selected fiction genres
  • You can customize the font sizes and background colors to meet your reading preferences

Other cool features: autoscrolling with adjustable speed and navigation between screens with a swipe. Really liked those two.

Here’s an intro video where you can get a taste of the app, it’s free to download too:

Introducing Inkitt for iOS: Read great novels by up-and-coming authors on your iPhone and iPad from Inkitt – The Hipster’s Library on Vimeo.