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

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Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Three

Genre: Classics

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received a free copy of this book. 

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

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

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

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Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Vacation by J. C. Miller

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Author: JC Miller

Narrator: Curt Simmons

Length: 7h 28m

Publisher: JC Miller Writer

Released: July 14, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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

 

 

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

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Narrator Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received a free copy of this book. 

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

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

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

 

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Curing Doctor Vincent by Renea Mason

Narrators: Noah Michael Levine, Erin Deward

Publisher: Renea Mason (2015)

Length: 6 hours 10 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Good Doctor

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Elaine Watkins, a public relations adviser for a medical company, is both charmed and flustered when the esteemed Dr. Xavier Vincent asks her to join him for dinner at a conference. Things heat up from there when she’s asked to join him for a week in Paris. She’s expecting it to be work and perhaps a chance to flirt. However, the good doctor has other ideas. He proposes his idea of a week of sensuous sexual pleasure to her and she’s hesitant to engage. Will it end awkwardly before it’s even begun? Of will Elaine shed some of her ideas about sexuality and join Xavier in a week of pleasure and exploration?

Let’s be upfront about the sex in this book. It was quite good and took up much of the page time. Xavier has a hangup and he’s found a workaround which involves him watching his two trusted friends, Marco and Sebastian, pleasure her. The plot takes us from one sexapade to the next. They’re inventive and most scenes help develop the characters involved, except for Sebastian. He seems to mostly just stand there and rarely talks and we learn very little about him. There’s also some near instalove happening that wasn’t necessary for me. I’m OK with characters having a simple fun week of lust.

The plot has more than carnal pleasures going on. First, there’s Elaine’s history. She is the unfortunate daughter of a serial killer, The Basement Killer. This has made it difficult to do parts of her job. After all, who wants their brand associated with a man who hunted, tortured, and killed several women. So she has trust issues since her dad managed to hide his extracurricular activities from the family for so many years.

Xavier comes with a bundle of questions. At first, it just appears he has a kinky hang up about sex but as the story develops there’s deeper questions about his dead wife, her mentor, and even his own parents. Manipulation has played a big part in Xavier, giving him plenty of guilt. Despite that, he’s driven to create a greater good for humanity. Hence, his brilliant work in cancer research.

I really enjoyed the Celtic Queen and the Rain Ceremony part. Xavier weaves this little myth around pleasuring Elaine, empowering her to express her sexuality.

All together, it’s a delicious guilty pleasure with plenty of heat and a touch of mystery. The two main characters are interesting because they have baggage. While I would have liked some of the side characters to be fleshed out a bit more, perhaps that happens later in the series. I definitely want to know more about Xavier’s past and those who manipulated him and why.

The Narration: Erin Deward and Noah Michael Levine were a great pair for this book. They really seem to have some heat between them so that worked great for the sex scenes. Deward’s voice for Elaine was perfect and she portrayed Elaine’s numerous emotions quite well. I enjoyed her French accent for some of the ladies in Paris. Levine’s voice for Xavier was quite sexy and he also did a great job with Xavier’s numerous emotions. His accent for Marco was great too. There were a few things with the audio production. The volume changed from time to time so I found myself turning it up a smidge here and down a smidge there.

What I Liked: Plenty of heat; the Celtic myth; Elaine’s back story; Xavier’s hang ups and all the manipulation he’s been through; plenty of wonderful French locations; Marco; great narration.

What I Disliked: Sebastian didn’t have much of a personality; some minor audio production things.

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Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2010)

Length:  21 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 2 Naamah Trilogy

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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:

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: Twelve to Murder by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: James C. Lewis

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 6 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 7 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 7 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

With the gruesome murder of the Stillmans, the police of Spencer, Maryland are out in force. Unfortunately, they fail to corral Derrick Stillman before he talks to the press, throwing blame for the murders on former child movie star Lenny Frost. From there, we end up with a group of drunk baseball enthusiasts held hostage while Mac Faraday and his half-brother police chief David O’Callaghan dig into the sordid pasts of all these people, the victims and suspects alike.

This was a delicious murder mystery that brings together failed movie careers, hostage situations, double and triple crossing, and guilt trips. Also, we delve into Mac’s love life a bit as his girlfriend Archie pushes to know why he doesn’t want to take the next step. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog is having girlfriend trouble of his own as he was pimped out, only to return to his regular girlfriend, Molly dog.

My favorite scenes were the old timers at the bar who are nearly oblivious to being held hostage (if only everyone would quiet down so they could enjoy the ball game!) and then when David takes on the female stunt woman Sela Wallace and walks away with some injuries. I also liked the jokes at Gnarly’s expense (lovingly doled out). He did over eat a bit, and it was weird bar food, so of course he would have digestive issues later on.

As a minor quibble, Wanda at the police station is described the exact same way in each book. I think I only noticed this because I have been listening to these books back to back. The sentences are the same, explaining that she’s almost always at the office because her grown kids and their offspring moved back home and she’s avoiding that chaos. With that said, we actually get to know more about her in this book as she has several lines while folks gather at the police station to figure out this tangled mystery.

I liked how we had two alcoholics/addicts in this tale. One has obviously worked hard to clean up his act while the other only enjoys the drama of the cycle (treatment, recovery, falling off the wagon, binges, treatment, etc.). It pulled at the heart strings a bit to see how one was trusted over the other with the resultant consequences.

Over all, it was a good solid mystery with plenty of moving parts and more than one guilty person with more than one motive. I love the way Mac puts challenges in front of his hotel manager, a really good guy who takes his job seriously.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: James C. Lewis was OK with this book. His female voices were good but his range wasn’t that big. Often, I had to listen closely to keep track of who was talking unless it was a character with a distinct accent. The narrators keep changing for this series and I think that’s part of it. I had gotten used to Mike Algers and previously Dan Lawson did an incredible job on one of the books. Book 1 was narrated by a woman, Janean Jorgenson. As a stand alone, I would say this is a decent narration.

What I Liked: A layered mystery; former child stars; an alcoholic who is succeeding with his recovery versus one who doesn’t take recovery seriously; the drunk baseball enthusiasts at the bar; Gnarly’s woman troubles; Sela the stunt woman; multiple guilty parties.

What I Disliked: There’s a minor character, Wanda, who gets the same descriptive paragraph for the last 3 books. This is a minor criticism and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: The Lady Who Cried Murder by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 7 hours 24 minutes

Series: Book 6 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 6 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Three years ago in Spencer, Maryland, young Khloe Everest was reported missing by her mom after she received a disturbing phone call. However, it turned out to be a publicity stunt and all of the the Spencer police felt a fool when Khloe strolled up during a press conference on the ongoing search for the young lady. Now, she’s planning another publicity stunt in order to relaunch her grab for fame and fortune. This time, things don’t go as she likes and she ends up dead. So many suspects, so little time.

David O’Callaghan, the Spencer Police Chief, isn’t too excited to be called in to check out Khloe’s current residence. The wannabe diva’s social media went dark 3 days ago but David still remembers the sting of her first publicity stunt. Grudgingly, he offers to check it out provided all cameras stay outside. What he finds is quite grisly and the murder investigation is launched.

This book was pretty good though not my favorite in the series. The investigation into Khloe’s murder along with David’s courtship of an old flame, Chelsea, are the two things that stood out to me. There’s also a politician (along with his son) that has some old beef with Mac Faraday (retired DC police detective). That mostly faded into the background for me.

Here is my one criticism for this book. There are some characters that are gay or cross dress and all the characters who do so are on the bad guy list. I can’t tell if the main characters believe that homosexuality or cross dressing are signs of deeper problems and nefarious behavior or not. I’m on the fence on this because I haven’t come across other gay characters before in this series (to my memory). At any rate, I would have preferred that the characters make it clear that there are bad guys that just happen to be gay and not that homosexuality is a trait of questionable behavior.

Back to Khloe. She did have a big bombshell of a secret that she was teasing her followers with, promising to announce it to the world on a specific date. Initially, David isn’t too sure she had any real secret but he has to investigate nonetheless. It was a big secret indeed! I was surprised by this twist and it added a note of seriousness to story. Someone is a real jerk and needs to be taken down!

Then there’s Chelsea. She’s got epilepsy so she has a service dog, Molly, who can sense her episodes coming on and warn her early. Chelsea and David had a relationship in high school and David messed up big time. Back then, he cheated on her and he has regretted that ever since. Now he has a second shot with her and he’s doing his best to prove his sincerity. However, Chelsea is afraid of putting her heart out there again and being hurt. It’s a touch/don’t touch relationship between the two throughout the book. For me, it didn’t have nearly as much appeal as Randi from Book 4. Poor David, I’m not sure he will ever meet the right woman.

Anyway, David and Mac pull strings and dig in the past, calling in Cameron (who we know from the Lovers in Crime series) with her case files that relate to this one. She brought her cat Irving who is a big coon cat that resembles a skunk in coloring. Irving makes me laugh. No one likes being screamed at all the time. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog and Molly make a very cute couple.

All told, it was good. I enjoyed the central mystery around Khloe the most. It was good to have the pets around for comedic relief.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Algers did a very good job with this book. His female voices were believable and his characters were all distinct. He was great at sounding like a real jerk when giving voice to the foul-mouthed bad guys.

What I Liked: Khloe burned bridges with her first publicity stunt; a grisly murder kicks off the investigation; big secrets indeed!; Gnarly and Molly; Irving the skunk cat; Cameron getting called in to help out.

What I Disliked: All the gay or cross dressing folks are on the bad guy list.

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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).

Naamah’s Curse Part IV

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, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 48-64, so be prepared for spoilers below!

 

1) Moirin makes some new friends on the way to Rasa. What do you think will come of her decision to entrust them with the jade medallion? Do you see this as a betrayal of trust or do you think the Emperor would understand?

I think that any time the Emperor sends a traveler away with one of his jade medallions, he knows it could well end up in the hands of others. Perhaps this is a unique way to bring outsiders into Chi’in, providing them safe conduct. I bet he or his guards stationed around the country get to meet lots of random people this way.

I expect Moirin made the right choice in giving up the medallion to get one step closer to Bao and that these traders will do something worthy with it.

2) On her way to the Lady of Rats, Moirin ends up in a dangerous caravan. What are your thoughts on what happened, both with the assault and the illness?

Well, we all knew that the caravan leader was a shifty guy since everyone was concerned about Moirin traveling with his caravan, including herself. So the attempted assault doesn’t come as a surprise… tho I was a bit surprised that Moirin wasn’t really prepared for it. She did well and didn’t complain about losing all the little niceties she had become accustomed to. Later on, she seeks his counsel briefly but I felt that was quite awkward. Still, she needed as much info as she could get. And yet I feel the caravan leader deserved more punishment. He won’t try that again with Moirin but he will with the next woman who catches his eye and isn’t under someone else’s protection.

Sounds like she had some altitude sickness and that lead into some lung infection, perhaps pneumonia.

3) Is seems that caste/class is going to be a major point in this story. Even if Amrita agrees that the caste system may not be just, do you think there’s anything that she and Moirin can do about it? Do you see any path to happiness for Jagrati and/or do you think she deserves to be defeated?

I think Moirin is the spark to start the change of how the caste system is handled (and I suspect abused by some). I doubt the caste system will be done away with in Moirin’s lifetime. The caste system as presented here is too rigid and doesn’t allow for any mobility and keeps a chunk of the population locked into servitude of the lowest kind. It definitely needs reforming and in an ideal world, I would want it gone entirely. Moirin is right when she says that barring the lowest caste from their gods is cruel. I hope Amrita can come to see this and start to make some changes, setting the example herself.

Well, Jagrati was poorly treated, as so many are who are born into a low caste. That should be acknowledged but that doesn’t mean Jagrati gets away with all the naughty things she’s done. Her anger and frustration are a product of the caste system; what actions she took because of those emotions are her responsibility.

4) There is a lot of passion in Kushiel’s Legacy, but the sex scene in this section doesn’t involve much. Given all of the focus on “love as thou wilt”, what do you think about Amrita’s gift and it’s acceptance by Naamah? What do you think about the idea of sex without desire, but for compassionate purposes?

It’s interesting that we have a pity fuck thrown in here, isn’t it? It’s very nicely done, with both participants caring for each other even if Amrita has no passion for it. Compassion is a form of love and Amrita is compassion personified. That’s why she can be so accepting of Naamah’s presence even as she feels no true desire for Moirin. Carey does a great job of showing one more side to Naamah with this coupling.

5) Bao returns! I think we were all a little irritated with him for his Tatar adventures. Do his actions here change your opinion of him? Do you think he has escaped Jagrati’s diamond for good?

I think Moirin should have yelled at him in frustration and called him ‘Stupid Boy!’ during the first meeting. Even with Jagrati there, that stood a good chance of getting through to him. As it was, it was pretty amusing how he suddenly realizes it really is her and then passes out from illness.

Obviously, he went off seeking her and his heart was broken when he thought she died. So, yeah, I like the guy once again even if he’s still a bit thick skulled. He’s finally figured out what he wants and he wants Moirin.

No, I don’t think he’s fully free of Jagrati’s influence but the only way to test that is to put Bao in front of Jagrati and her diamond once again. For now, he has to shake off the opium, which will be a big enough challenge.

Other Tidbits:

Amrita’s son Javindra (spelling?) seems like a bright lad that will be able to lead his people one day.

Chess! Yay!

A temple full of rats. Hmm… so who cleans the temple if the lowest caste isn’t allowed in?

 

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).

Giveaway & Review: Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 5 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 3 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

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

Mac Faraday, a retired cop and the unexpected inheritor of a famed mystery writer’s fortune, decides to delve into a cold case file when a long-lost painting comes into his possession. With the help of his girlfriend Archie, his dog Gnarly, and his half-brother cop David, they may be able to untangle this cold case. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, lawyer Joshua Thornton has agreed to look into yet a different cold case, one that nearly everyone assumes was committed by a serial killer who has been behind bars for years. Detective Cameron believes him and offer her aid along with a bit of mutual affection.

I really enjoyed this addition to the Faraday/Thornton murder mystery series. It was great seeing how Joshua’s and Cameron’s relationship got started. Cameron’s cat Irving was also a lot of fun and Joshua’s initial response to this ‘detective’ cat was amusing. Honestly, I love how forward Cameron is about everything. She makes no excuses or apologies for her cat and she gets her job done even if it means pissing off management. It’s great that she was the first to show real interest in starting a relationship.

I’ve read several Lauren Carr mysteries by now and I was guessing that the two cold cases were probably related somehow but the link between the two was not immediately obvious and for a good chunk of the tale, I thought that perhaps this book would be the odd ball. No worries! It’s not and I enjoyed how the author tied the two together.

In this particular book, Mac reveals that he’d like a little more out of his relationship with Archie and he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t sleep over, or why he’s not invited to sleep over at her place. After all, they have a fully affectionate relationship otherwise. The answer at the end of the book was amusing and I’m glad these two worked it out.

The murder mysteries themselves were very interesting. Initially, I was more interested in Joshua’s since it involved a serial killer, who is in prison, making a heartfelt plea to the lawyer to look into this particular Jane Doe, swearing he had nothing to do with her. That definitely piqued my interest. Faraday’s mystery took me a little longer to get interested in simply because it looked like so much was known about it all those years ago. However, it turns out that it’s not that simple. There’s plenty there for Mac and Archie to piece together.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger was a good fit for this tale. I liked his voice for Cameron quite a bit as he managed to sound like a mature yet playful woman who knows her mind. I also liked his voice for Mac, sounding decisive. He was great with the humor as well. I did feel his accent for Greta could have used some polishing.

What I Liked: Cold case murders; how Joshua & Cameron got together; Irving’s need for company all the time; Gnarly’s love of beach towels; famous artwork; a serial killer’s plea.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really liked this one!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway & Review: Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 6 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 1 Lovers in Crime Mysteries

Author’s Page

The body of adult entertainment star Cherry Pickens turns up in the basement of Joshua Thornton’s cousin. It’s on Cameron Gates’s beat, throwing the two into a joint investigation. West Virginia-Pennsylvania state lines blur as they dig into this mystery.

While I have already ‘met’ Cameron and Jonathan in a later mystery (Kill and Run, Book 1 of Thorny Rose Mysteries), it was great to go back to this tale and meet them afresh. The tale starts off with a body in an old non-functioning freezer in a basement along with a bomb that throws some chaos into the mix. Turns out Cherry Pickens once lived in the area and disappeared years ago after the murder of teen Angie Sullivan. Discovery of Cherry’s body brings up old mysteries, feuds, and questions. I loved the layered mysteries in this book, as is such the case with other Carr mysteries I have enjoyed.

I have to say something about Cameron’s cat Irving. He is both a delight and a distraction. While I love that Irving is such a big part of Cameron’s life, I don’t get her taking him on investigations. She’s a police detective and good at it but having a ride along cat seems a bit silly. Other than that, I love how Irving isn’t too sure about Jonathan being around so much. The skunk scenes were great.

Jonathan’s teen son, Donny, had a great role in this story. He got to play undercover info gatherer at one point and there’s an older woman who’s willing to teach him some interesting things. However, both Cameron and Jonathan don’t approve of this woman.

Speaking of older women, there are two senior citizen ladies who have a bit of a brawl. In this scene they are actually rolling around on the floor yelling, punching, pulling hair, etc. I did find this to be a bit overkill and what might have been comedic turned into silly nonsense. This one scene sticks with me so well because it is simply ridiculous and doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the book. With that said, it does illustrate to great effect the distaste these two ladies have for each other. Their long-time feud becomes the center of the story.

On the side, the romance between Cameron and Jonathan is on. It feels like it has been going on for some time, so I wonder if this book is interconnected to yet an earlier series. Either way, it’s nice to have a touch of romance in the tale that doesn’t eclipse the murder mystery.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger did a pretty good job with this story. His voices for Jonathan and Cameron were good and he does a really good old lady voice as well. I liked his teen voice for Donny too. I did feel that some of his female voices could use a touch more femininity but I can also hear that he is giving it his best.

What I Liked: Layered murder mystery; the state lines issue; there’s a bomb in the basement!; an old feud finally put to rest.

What I Disliked: Why take your cat on investigation?; that rolling around on the floor brawl scene – too silly!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway