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

Author’s Page

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.

What Others Think:

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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 Rogier, 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.

Correction: Balthazar is one of the Sharhizai’s, not Phanuel’s lover.

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).

Caliban’s War Part III

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 28-42, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So a lot happened this week! What do you make of all the POV characters meeting up? Do you think there will be any new additions to the crew of the Rocinante?

I was hoping that Avasarala would join the group at some point. The Rocinante needed someone with great swearing abilities! But I doubt that she will end up staying with the crew long term. She doesn’t really like changing gravity, does she? Also, she’s got her career (which might be on the rocks at the moment but she could have a come back).

I half hope that Meng will join the crew. I think the crew could really use a botanist/scientist on the crew, especially with the possibility of more unexpected labs holding bits of the protomolecule.

2) Holden has had some self realizations. Do you think he’ll really change his ways? And how does it tie into the new decisions for the Rocinante?

I’m on the fence about this one. Yes, he’s not the great thinker he was in Book 1 but is he a violence-happy man? No. Amos enjoys violence a lot more than he does, tho we do see him using it judiciously here (like when he insults the port security so they don’t notice how nervous Holden is). I felt a lot was made of this little storm in a tea cup.

3) What do you think they’ll find on Io?

Goo. Lots of dangerous goo. And hopefully clues to finding Mei. I really hope she isn’t one with the goo.

4) Apparently, the UN was involved after all, and now Avasarala’s been out maneuvered! But Bobbie thinks she has a plan to save their skins. Any ideas what her big revelation was? And do you think they’ll succeed?

I really like how Avasarala can reflect on the ‘how’ of being outmaneuvered and still keep her eye on the ball – she’s moving forward. Bobbie has a mech suit. I think she’s going to go all Iron Man on us. Yay! I do hope they succeed and I think they will win this one but will they both survive the end of this book? Not sure. After all, the first time I read Book 1 I didn’t expect Miller to go out in a blaze of glory.

Other Tidbits:

I think it’s very telling that Amos chooses to stay with Holden instead of following Naomi off the ship. I think she’s leaving for the wrong reasons and it’s more about her instead of it being all Holden.

Bobbie is my new favorite hero.

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

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

Exodus by Kimberly A. Bettes

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Clifford Bettes (2017)

Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

Set during the Great Depression, this horror historical fiction follows the Carlson family as they try to survive the biggest mistake of their lives. They stopped at a small mining town in Arizona (Exodus) on their way to California where they hoped to be hired on as fruit pickers. Now they have to do their best to survive Frank and his murdering cannibalistic family.

This is a horror fest. It’s not for the squeamish. If you can’t handle the first chapter, then this is not the book for you. Such was not the case for me. I listened to the whole thing and was entertained, grossed out, hopeful for the main character, and wanted the despicable family that perpetrated these acts dead.

Cannibalism, murder, rape, human lactation fascination, and incest make up this story. Frank’s family owns and runs the little diner in Exodus as well as the thrift store where they sell those items they take off of their victims. Frank’s mom is a loud, heavy handed matriarch that rules over her kids. Frank’s brother and his sister carry of an affair that they have to hide from Frank, since he gets rather jealous if his sister/lover even looks at another man. Yep, it’s one severely messed up family.

Sometimes the creepiness was a bit excessive like it was pushed to such a height simply to get a reaction out of the reader instead of moving the story forward. Occasionally it was gratuitous horror but over all I enjoyed the tale. I was really rooting for Anne, hoping she would get out of this hell hole with her baby James.

Speaking of them, this story was extra creepy for me because so many of the names match names of my family members. My paternal grandparents (also named John and Anne) were migrant farmers from Tennessee that went out to California to work in the fruit orchards. I have lots of cousins in small mining towns in Arizona because of this migration. My dad is also named James, though he was born in the 1940s instead of the 1930s. The characters John and Anne lost their first born daughter Sarah due to illness. My sister is named Sarah. So, yeah, talk about creepy! Now I want to ask my dad if there are any stories from that migration that the family doesn’t like to talk about.

Initially, I hoped that one of the Exodus siblings might turn good and help Anne, John, and James escape. Frank’s sister was the most likely candidate however she has a lot of serious character flaws to overcome. I did find that I was a bit squeamish about people suckling on Anne (she’s lactating for baby James). It didn’t bother me when it happened in Grapes of Wrath but here it feels like a violation instead of sharing nutrition.

Perhaps 2/3 of the way through, we get an info dump on Frank and his motivations. He’s this big monstrous object doing horrible things for most of the book and then we get a peak inside his head. I would have liked a bit more of that behind-the-scenes stuff in the first 2/3 of the book instead of one big info dump. Still, we got to know Frank a bit more before the big, messy finale. The ending was a good solid one that wraps up any questions. If you’re in the mood for a good jolt of horror to the system, then this in your book. I will be avoiding meat at small diners for a while.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a great job with this book. His female voices are feminine and distinct. He has individual voices for each of the characters and he’s so good at being scared and determined, or disgusting and sly, or angry and violent with his voice. He also went the extra mile and did a little special affect that included Frank’s favorite song that he likes to work to – ‘Ain’t We Got Fun’. He plays it in just the right moments and in little snippets so it doesn’t eclipse the narration.

What I Liked: Small Arizona mining town; Depression Era; John & Anne & baby James; Frank and his family are so easy to hate; initially, there might be hope for one of Frank’s siblings; the ending was solid; great narration.

What I Disliked: Some of the horror was for shock factor only; big info dump on Frank late in the book.

What Others Think:

Lomeraniel Audiobook Reviews

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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:

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Homemade Food: World Flavors by Terrapetti Publishing

Narrator: Denise Kahn

Publisher: Terrapetti Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 51 minutes

Author’s Page 

Connecting traditional recipes with culture and history is what this book is about. This book contains nearly 70 recipes from 13 different regions around the world. This book was written by 3 different people who live in different cities around the world, though the book never names who these three people are.

I’ve listened to other cookbooks as audiobooks but this one was more of a conversation about food that happened to have recipes tossed in. I was amused to see the book starts off with poutine as I find that such a heavy meal suited for cold weather and ice fishing. However this North American section talks about the great melting pot that the continent is and what that means for typical, tasty meals in that location.

The book does a great job of providing this context for all the regions discussed: North America, Central America & the Caribbean, South America, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western Africa, Middle East along with South & Central Asia, East Asia & Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand. With the lens of traditional food, the world gets divided up a little differently than in the world of politics.

Each meal starts with an introduction, Meal Presentation, about how that meal came about, what significance it has in the local culture and the very basics of what make it. Then we get the How to Cook This Meal which is a very basic recipe without measurements. It’s more of a conversation about how to make this dish. I really liked this approach because I often view recipes as suggestions of how to make a meal rather than strict guidelines.

There were plenty of meals that I didn’t have a clue how to pronounce and had not heard of before but sound really interesting. Mofongo. Charquican Stew. Kjotsupa. Tochitura. Chorba Frik. MaPo Doufu. Kiwi Hangi. I could go on, but I expect this gives you an idea of the diversity of recipes in this book. All together, it was a delightful and enlightening book on food from around the world.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Denise Kahn did an OK job. Her recording sounded tinny most of the time. I really don’t know if she pronounced everything correctly but the Spanish and Germanic words sounded correct to my novice ears. For some reason she read out the entire table of contents. Now this might have been a requirement of the publisher. It was really boring and didn’t really give me anything.

What I Liked: It’s a big conversation about food and not a recipe book; the lovely cover; the world divvied up by food culture; plenty of meals I haven’t tried.

What I Disliked: The recording was a bit tinny.

What Others Think:

Aural Addiction

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.

Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

Narrator: Steve Rimpici

Publisher: Stephen Kozeniewski (2017)

Length: 4 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page 

William 790 (later known as Billy) is a good clone. He goes to work every day in his boring insurance sales job, has the same thing to eat every night, catches the ball game with the other clones, sleeps, and gets up and does it all over again. Each clone gets 1 year of life and then he gets slurried. It’s a world of monotony, Williams as far as you can see. Yet Billy manages to avoid getting slurried due to a freak accident. He then starts questioning his life and this entire existence.

I initially tried to read the ebook but then switched over to the audiobook. The beginning reminded me of that movie Ground Hog Day. Billy does the same routine again and again, even after the freak accident because that’s what his replacement would have done. So it was a little slow for me as I kept waiting for something more to happen. When I switched over to the audiobook, things moved along more quickly for me.

Billy has to get sneaky, something he isn’t programmed for. He learns about an odd building somewhere in the wilds in between two Williamsport cities. Yep. All the cities have ‘William’ in their name and everyone lives in the glorious country of Williamerica. Privately, this was all rather amusing to me since my husband is Bill. Ha!

OK, so Billy starts showing some initiative and the story gets more interesting. He stops to pee by the road and he happens to see this weird building (a windmill) and as he goes to investigate he finally comes across the cloneasaurus! Yes! Since this little guy is on the cover and in the title I really wanted to meet it. This reptile understandably freaks Billy out, since all animal life has been extinct for several generations of Williams. From there, Billy meets the William that made the cloneasaurus and then we finally get our one and only female, Willa.

The second half of the book was way more interesting than the first. Billy starts looking at the top of the hierarchy and how he can go on living. He’s also fascinated with Willa and some awkward conversations occur which are amusing to the reader but rather embarrassing for Billy. He’s never used his personal equipment for self gratification so he’s in the dark about natural procreation.

I was a little disappointed that Willa didn’t get a bigger role. She’s well read, educated in a biochemistry lab, raised by a man with radical political ideas. She has a lot of potential to be a force to change things. But then nothing other than being the romantic interest of the tale ensues for her. Sigh…

The ending was down right creepy. I loved the ending. It really made the book for me. Things don’t go as Billy had hoped nor how I expected things to go.

The Narration: Steve Rimpici was a really good fit for this book. He sounds just like a mild mannered boring accountant. He makes a really good William 790…. along with all the other Williams in this world. Honestly, it was probably a real challenge to come up with nuanced voices that all sound very similar and yet can remain distinct in a conversation. He did this with capturing each characters emotions. I found the conversations between multiple Williams easy to follow. He had a believable female voice for Willa.

What I Liked: The Cloneasaurus!; Billy finally rises to the occasion; Willa and her secret windmill laboratory; solid creepy ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: The beginning was a bit repetitious and boring; only 1 female character and all her potential is shoved to the side.

What Others Think: 

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Caliban’s War Part II

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 13-27, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So – lots of character development this week, and not necessarily in a good way. What do you think about Amos and Jim’s behaviour?

It’s nice to see that Amos has a soft gooey center for kids even if it is rather tiny and hidden under lots of armor and probably full of hard pebbles. However, he’s not the great thinker of the group, is he? In a twisted way, I like that he enjoys bar fights and can be so casual about violence. It makes him immensely useful.

Jim has gotten lazy. He’s been flying around on the Rocinante with all her big guns and hasn’t had to do much quick thinking and smooth talking to get what he wants lately. It’s made him a little too quick to reach for his gun but I don’t feel he’s off the deep end. I wonder why Naomi is so put off by it as I don’t feel it’s extreme. After all, she’s been Amos’s boss (‘friend’ seems like the wrong word) for years now and he’s quick to violence (tho his discernment of when to dish it out seems to be better than Jim’s right now). I think Jim is many far steps from being Miller.

2) What do you make of Avasarala’s management style? Do you think Bobbie will go the distance?

Ha! She makes me laugh. I wish I had more bosses like her because she’s pretty direct about what she wants and how she wants it and she doesn’t mind if you verbally spar with her as long as you’re useful. I hope Bobbie goes the distance. She managed to get this far which is further than I expected.

3) Okay – we’re halfway – time to place our bets. Who do you think is behind the situation on Ganymede? What do you think they are trying to achieve?

I think the protospore has been modified and this is yet another petri dish to see what it does. As to who is behind it, I’m not sure. Holden seems convinced it’s OPA behind it but I’m not sure. Yes, the only publicly known mess of this alien spore was in OPA hands but there’s all that stuff on Venus (and I bet there’s a way to get a probe to steal a bit of it) and then there’s the corporation that placed the goo on Eros. Perhaps they held back a sample that fell into other hands or is still in the hands of the remnants of that corporation.

I don’t know how these kids tie in. They lack a real immune system unless they get regular meds and I think that lack is the key. If you wanted to see what this alien spore could do to human tissue, probably best to find some human tissue that can’t defend itself (lacks an immune system).

4) Is it dead? Do you think putting it out an airlock was the right decision? (…although if you can think of any better ideas, I’m all ears)

I don’t think they had any other better choices in the moment. If they had another friendly ship nearby, I guess they could put the Roci on autopilot for the nearest uninhabited rock or the sun and evacuate. But they didn’t have a nearby friendly ship and it would be a shame to lose the Roci. I hope it’s dead or they just spread bits of this alien spore all over the space near Ganymede. Can it latch onto other ships or even rocks and survive a drop through burning atmosphere? Perhaps.

Other Tidbits:

We haven’t gotten much of Naomi or Alex this round. Tho Naomi’s ability to control that food riot was pretty awesome…. but then folks get food only a few hours before Ganymede starts falling apart. I hope folks died with full stomachs.

I like Prax’s full name (Praxidike Meng).

Holden’s ability to hire security on the fly was great. Amos using canned chicken to get the info was brutal but efficient. Prax’s use of his gun wasn’t particularly useful. I like Amos’s casual acknowledgement that it was his bad.

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

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