Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2010)

Length:  21 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 2 Naamah Trilogy

Author’s Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Others Think:

The Book Smugglers

io9

The Eyrie

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Cafe

Speed-Reading Book Nerd Reviews

Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2009)

Length:  26 hours 57 minutes

Series: Book 1 Naamah Trilogy

Author’s Page

Note: This is the first 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 so don’t be afraid to start here if this book intrigues you.

The Bear Witches of Alba are all but extinct but for those few that remain, they do possess small magics and the Great Bear does look out for her own. Moirin grows up in a cave in the depths of a forest and from these humble beginnings she will be tasked by her divine Bear to fulfill a destiny that lies over seas. First she travels to Terre D’Ange to find her D’Angeline relatives, including her father. A D’Angeline lord and healer is intrigued by her small gifts and she’s soon wrapped up in a semi-secret demon summoning circle. She also meets a Chi’in Master and his student/body guard Bao. Perhaps her destiny lies even further than she could imagine.

I read this for the second time as part of a group read and there were weekly discussions which hold plenty of detail on what I think of the book. Once again, I was wrapped up in Carey’s world building. I fell in love with the D’Angelines when I read Kushiel’s Dart so many years ago. I recall my first time reading this book and how it didn’t wow me as much as the first 6 books. However, knowing this round that this is Moirin’s tale, I gave it a better chance. Indeed, I did like this book quite a bit more the second time through. I think with the first read through, I was constantly looking for reflections of the characters I had come to know and love from the first 2 trilogies. Now with the second reading I was focused on Moirin.

I loved Moirin’s small magics. She’s inherited a few from her D’Angeline side as well as her Alban side. Each individual one is rather small, but as we see Moirin grow from a child to a young lady to a woman, she learns to use her powers to great effect. Carey does a most excellent job of showing the reader this growth as the story unfolds.

Moirin is of the Maghuin Dhonn, the Bear Witch people, which we learned a little about in earlier books in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the Maghuin Dhonn directly through Moirin. While much of Maghuin Dhonn live in near isolation, they are still a connected people and will come together in larger groups for certain occasions, such as Moirin’s coming of age ceremony. Moirin has to work hard to be acknowledged by the Bear Witch herself, but that acknowledgement comes at a steep price, one that I think we won’t fully understand until the end of this trilogy.

As usual with this series, there are several lovely sex scenes. Carey doesn’t skimp but she also doesn’t toss in throwaway love scenes. These interactions always reveal something more about the characters involved. I found this especially true in the later part of the book where there is a princess and a dragon. I won’t say anything further as I don’t want to be spoilery. Just know that it’s worthy.

I do have one quibble for this book. At the end, there is some drama and death and I did feel there was some deus ex machina involved. It involves the ultimate bad guy and why he wasn’t properly trussed up. Even with this one small criticism, I did enjoy how the ending leaves our heroes in a complicated place, setting us up for the next adventure.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik is a joy to listen to. She does such an excellent job with the multitude of accents needed for this book. She’s also great with a voice for Moirin that ages as she comes of age throughout the story. Her male voices are quite believable.

What I Liked: The cover art; great narration; Moirin in her own right; the quest to find one’s heritage; the desire to fulfill the Great Bear’s wishes; Bao as the main love interest; the dragon; from humble beginnings to world traveler!

What I Disliked: There was a bit of deus ex machina at the end.

What Others Think:

Eyrie

Book Smugglers

Dear Author

Fantasy Book Critic

A. V. Club

Fantasy Cafe

Strange Horizons

The Bibliosanctum

Books Without Any Pictures

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Eva Gordon, Author of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Trilogy

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Eva Gordon. She kindly let me heckle her with questions and is also offering up an ebook set of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet trilogy to one lucky winner. Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Wow. There are so many. How can you make me choose? I would love to be on any Lord of the Rings movie, perhaps a hobbit. Or a rogue fighter on Star Wars. A zombie on The Walking Dead. However, since I’m a big fan of Outlander that’s the one I would choose. Being in Scotland and wearing period clothes would be a dream come true.

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

You do realize you are asking a former anatomy/physiology and biology teacher? So many so little time. I’m a big fan of scatology or the study of feces. I was once part of a mountain lion study and we were able to determine what they fed on and their health based on analyzing their poop.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I would make sure I was the alchemist and take along Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth series) Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel’s Legacy series), Neil Gaiman, and throw in Diana Gabaldon (because she might bring along Jamie Frasier from Outlander). Maybe put them in my fantasy novel, The Stone of the Tenth Realm.

Do you have any phobias?

I don’t have any phobias, however I do suffer from a different neurological condition known as Misophonia. Not a phobia. Triggers such as chewing noises, gum popping, slurping and sniffing for example drive me crazy. I’m not alone; celebrities Kelly Ripa and Kelly Osborne are misophones. Authors Franz Kafka and Anton Chekov also suffered from this condition. Ear plugs help.

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

As a kid I was a tomboy who wanted to be an explorer and animal behaviorist like Jane Goodall. Hence, my degrees in Zoology and Biology. Although, I was a bookworm I never thought about writing until later.

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

Survival books and my iPad filled with plenty of science fiction and fantasy novels. Naturally, I would have a solar charger for my device.

Which favorite bookish worlds would you like to visit?

The world of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Tolkien’s, and shamelessly, my novels. My worlds can be dangerous, but I’m smart and there is always a gorgeous hero will give me a hand. Winks.

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

The Debate of All Time, would you rather live in the Star Trek or Star Wars universe? I think I would have to choose Star Trek where I would be a science officer. Safer. Although, it would be cooler to be a Jedi master in the Star Wars Universe.

About Author Eva Gordon:

Eva at Stone Henge

Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. Alpha heroes and brilliant feisty heroines. HEA with a kick. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.

Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. When not in her den writing, she can be found teaching animal lore at writing conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure.

Sign-up for Eva’s Newsletter!

Places to Stalk Eva Gordon

website ~ blog ~ Amazon ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ goodreads ~ pinterest

Book Blurb about The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Trilogy: 

The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Collection includes the entire trilogy. Each book is a different stage in the romantic relationship between alpha werewolf, Dominic and Mia, his human lover. Paranormal steamy romance and page turning suspense. Alpha Wolf’s Pet series introduces the universe and some of the characters in the offshoot paranormal romance suspense series: Team Greywolf, Slade, Book 1 and Chernobyl Werewolf, Book 2.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ kobo ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Eva is graciously offering up one ebook set of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet trilogy to one lucky winner [OPEN INTERNATIONALLY]. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What geeky argument have you been a part of? 2) Where do you live? Giveaway ends May 4th, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Giveaway & Interview: Rebecca Chastain, Author of A Fistful of Fire

ChastainAFistfulOfEvilHeya folks! Please give a warm welcome to urban fantasy author Rebecca Chastain! We’re hear to chat about her latest book, A Fistful of Fire, which is a sequel to her book A Fistful of Evil. We also talk about temp jobs, Firefly, fantasy book clubs, and plenty more. There’s also a spiffy giveaway so scroll to the bottom of the post to check that out!

If you could be an extra on a period piece what would it be?

Does a futuristic show count? If so, I’d love to an extra on Star Trek: Voyager and get to work with Captain Janeway. I’m a big fan of the themes the Star Trek TV shows have covered. I’m a sucker for books and movies with themes revolving around a group of people working together to accomplish more than they could singularly, the strong bond of friendship making life better (even if it sometimes makes life harder, too), and a pursuit of knowledge without leaving behind humanity and ethics.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

The best things about book clubs are getting to discuss fun reads and socialize, so with those criteria in mind, I’d invite:

  • Phèdre nó Delaunay (from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series), for her insatiable quest for knowledge; I imagine she’d raise a lot of interesting points.
  • Rupert Giles (from the Buffy the Vampire TV series), who seems like he’d have insight and amusing anecdotes.
  • Temeraire (from Naomi Novik’s popular series), for his fresh perspective, and because any chance I can include a talking dragon in one of my clubs, I’m going to jump at the chance.

Our three books for discussion would be E-Squared by Pam Grout, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. The first to see what sort of wonderful things we as a group could manifest, the second because I imagine everyone would be fascinated and come to the science from very different perspectives, and the third because it’s a great novel that I think would appeal to everyone in the group—and getting a dragon’s take on a dragon-origin novel would be entertaining.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireIf you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Definitely a supernatural creature. In my scenario, I’m rescued from drowning by a friendly kelpie who I can converse with telepathically. She and I form a great friendship, and she introduces me to a whole wonderful supernatural world. Having always been horse crazy and also yearned to speak telepathic with animals, this fantasy satisfies the eight-year-old me and makes the current me want to write a novel…

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Firefly. For its very brief lifespan, the show packed in so much. I’ve rewatched the series many times now, but… The first time the reavers are seen on screen was one of the creepiest things I’ve watched in a long time (I’m not a horror fan, too, so it almost turned me off the show). Now, I’ve spun the story so many different directions in my head—where I’d take the characters, how I’d redo different character arcs, what I’d like to see in all-new episodes if I could write/watch them today—that it has lost the novelty I felt during the first viewing.

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

For a few months after I graduated college, I worked temp jobs. The worst position was at a non-profit doing cold calls to businesses to try to get the managers and CEOs to participate in a fancy dinner, during which they would make cold calls to their business associates to get them to donate to the non-profit. The process combined several of my least favorite things: talking on the phone with strangers, asserting myself while asking for something, and extreme, endless monotony while simultaneously being mildly panicked by the whole experience.

In A Fistful of Evil, I gave the main character, Madison Fox, a temp worker background, though it’s only referenced and never seen on the page. It was a minor tribute to a hellacious time in my life, one which every day I’m enormously grateful is far in my past. The only comparison I can make between that job and writing is that they are the exact opposite. Now, I spend my days talking with a bunch of people I’m intimately familiar with because they exist and were created in my head, I get to decide when they say yes or no to my plans, and the days are never boring.

ChastainMagicOfTheGargoylesIf you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

  1. Brandon Sanderson: He creates great magic systems that are unique, and he might have something special up his sleeve to help our quest.
  2. Ilona Andrews: (is this cheating, since Ilona Andrews is two people?) For sheer bad-assery.
  3. Kim Harrison: The way she weaves big-picture and smaller plot points together makes me think she’d be great with any puzzles we encountered along the way.
  4. Robert Asprin: Because you always need a little humor in your quest.

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

I’ve known I was a writer for pretty much my whole life. I’ve always made up stories to entertain myself—during road trips, in class, at recess, while riding my horses, and especially while dressing up my cats. My kid-self was more intense than I am now: a lot shier and more serious. I’ve overcome some of my shyness, though I still need more solo/down time than my more outgoing friends. I know my kid-self would be in awe of the life I lead now and very impressed that I have three books out for sale. But she’d also be disappointed that it took me so long to get here. (She expected to be a New York Times bestselling author by the age of eighteen.)

Thanks for the great interview!

AuthorRebeccaChastainAuthor Bio:

Rebecca Chastain is the International Amazon Fantasy Bestselling author of A FISTFUL OF EVIL and MAGIC OF THE GARGOYLES. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Dreaming up the absurd and writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in northern California with her wonderful husband and two bossy cats.

ChastainAFistfulOfFireBook Blurb for A Fistful of Fire:

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, defending her region against imps, vervet, hounds, and one lascivious demon. If her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

Sizzling with adventure and sparking with magic, A Fistful of Fire is fused with Madison Fox’s trademark blend of humor and ass-kicking action.

Places to Find Rebecca Chastain

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

As part of the book blog tour, Rebecca Chastain is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Just enter via the Rafflecopter link below. Hurry because this giveaway ends October 16, 2015 midnight EST. Good  luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway