Blood Will Tell

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11768286So I discovered this trend with these Forgotten Realms stand alone novels.  I never think that one is enough.  Either it’s like Sandstorm where I think it needed more than the standard 350 pages to tell the story properly because there was too much info shoved into one story, or it’s like Venom in Her Veins and I just cannot get enough of the story or the characters and just want more.

Needless to say, I fucking loved this book.

You don’t often see stories about the snake people called yuan-ti in the Realms, last one I remember was the House of Serpents trilogy, so this makes the fourth book out of almost three hundred that have been written and printed in the Realms world that focus on this race.  Kinda understandable considering the entire race is defined as evil so 1) possibly not a lot of people want to read/write about out and 2) it’s sometimes hard to create a hero that rises up out of such a race, Drizz’t aside.  So all told I was really excited to read this and was not disappointed.

Long story short, yound female found abandoned in the woods, taken to live among civilization, hold her people were killed and had her yuan-ti heritage hidden from her until she was deemed old enough to accept the truth of things.  But on a family business trip into the jungle (a trip that she had routinely take twice a year for the past 16 years) she discovers first that her people were not killed, but rather enslaved and dragged into the Underdark.  Running off down into the dark to save them, she eventually comes to terms with her nature and in the process defeats a threat from the Far Realm that unknown to everyone was fueling her family’s business ventures.

Oh and it’s entirely possible that she is a Chosen of the snake god Zehir….

There’s a bit of a love story between our heroine and her cousin and I was really looking forward to seeing how that turned out, plus at the end they run off with a tiefling for new adventures! I really wish this was maybe like a trilogy or something.  I have no idea what the end game would be and part of me doesn’t care.  I just want to see more of the characters.

Coming up next now, we’re going to finish up the Chosen of Nendawen trilogy with Cry of the Ghost Wolf.

10931634Hweilan went into the Feywild a girl focused on avenging her family’s death, and emerged a brutal killer. Nendawen the Hunter has anointed her his Hand in destroying the demonic and undead forces of his nemesis–the murderer of her family–Jagen Ghen. But while she managed to survive long enough to become the Hand of the Hunter, the war with Jagen Ghen has just begun. And while she is hunting them–they are likewise hunting her. It will take every trick of the Fox, every drop of Lore, and every ounce of will she has to stand against Jagen Ghen, but Hweilan will have her chance to avenge her family–or die trying.

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Hunter Becomes the Hunted

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7976938Book two in the Chosen of Nendawen trilogy, Hand of the Hunter was a little hard for me to get into at first, mostly because I had forgotten how the first book Fall of Highwatch ended.

Loved this overall.  Not a lot happens as it mostly focuses on Hweilin living in the Feywild and training to become Nendawen’s Hand, one of his Chosen.  I admit I loved watching her progress as a hunter.

It was a little confusing at one point.  There was this scene with the bad guys and it was kinda hard to keep track of who was saying what so it kinda raised the question as to who was really in charge of the monsters who had taken over Highwatch.  We had always assumed it was Jagun Ghen up until that point, but now I’m not so sure.

Finally got confirmation on the origin of Jagun Ghen and all the creatures that are taking over and eating people are all the result of one warlock’s pact.  Apparently the spell scarred Nar Argalath reached out to Jagun Ghen and made a blood pact to bring it into the world, with the lives and blood of those at Highwatch as the sacrifice to open the doorway to allow Jagun Ghen into the world.  But of course after letting in an ancient powerful all consuming evil, things are now going horribly wrong.

Surprise surprise.

We learn more about what exactly Jagun Ghen and Hweilin really are, although I’m surprised that the two are not tied together.  It’s always been hinted that Hweilin had something ‘other’ in her, and up until the end of Fall of Highwatch I assumed that the something ‘other’ everyone saw in her was Nendawen, but apparently that isn’t so.  When Nendawen tried to take over Hweilin’s mind and wipe out her memories to mould her over entirely in his image, something else fought back and kicked Nendawen out.  So now I’m wondering if that other is tied to Jagun Ghen somehow, but creatures like that don’t reproduce so….

Looking forward to figuring it all out in Cry of the Ghost Wolf.  But until then, we’ll check out Venom in her Veins by Tim Pratt.

11768286Child of prophecy?

Harbinger of Doom?

Zaltys is a girl like any other to grow up ranging the jungles of the Southern Lluirwood. She’s a crack shot with a bow and no stranger to the dangers that lurk beneath the deep forest canopy.

On expedition with her family to harvest the forbidden terazul flower, a powerful drug that has gathered many a dreamer into its narcotic embrace, Zaltys is about to unearth a truth long buried by the feculent loam of deception.

As the veil is lifted on the world Zaltys thought she knew, a pathway to the Underdark promises the answers her family never gave. Venturing forth in search of truth, Zaltys finds betrayal to be a much easier quarry. But it will take more than a lode of lies to quell the venom in her veins.

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Lost Bloodlines

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8869598Sandstorm by Christopher Rowe is a stand alone story set deep in the deserts of Calimshan and follows the life of an earth genasi gladitoral slave Cephas as he is rescued from his chains, lead to freedom, then manipulated left right and center before discovering the truth about his past, and in the end, himself.

Overall, this was a very ‘meh’ book for me.  I liked that it was all about the genasi and explored their society a bit more, even though the genasi race is heavily suppressed and in many cases even enslaved in the deserts of Calimshan.  Learned something very interesting too.  All genasi are born with one elemental soul: earth, wind, fire, water, and storm, but genasi can usually manifest more than one.  And while it’s not uncommon for a genasi to have two souls, its even theorized that a genasi can manifest all five souls.

Cephas is one of those dual souled genasi.  He was born with an earth soul but was able to manifest a wind soul, and for me it was kinda cheap how it happened.  He’s being taught by a wind soul genasi on how to manifest a wind soul, and at first it’s all ‘mediate, clear your mind, hear the wind’.  But then the two have sex…like…almost immediately…and it’s all *poof!* wind soul.  Oh no, you didn’t need to meditate, concentrate and actually work to manifest your second soul, you just needed a good fuck.  Ugh.

It was a little confusing to keep track of some of the players here as they tend to have very similar sounding names, and there were a lot of plot devises/rescues that felt just kind of tossed in to move the story along.  And there’s this whole thing about a war between a djinn of the wind and an efreet of fire or something and it’s never really made clear what -if any- bearing it had on the story.

Overall I felt it was a lot of lost potential here.  I would have like Cephas to be like the destined hero to end the war between the djinn and the efreet and be the one genasi to manifest all five souls or something.  Just felt like a lot of info plugged into one book that might have been better spread out among at least 2.

Next up, second book in the Chosen of Nendawen trilogy: Hand of the Hunter is next.

7976938Nendawen the Hunter has accepted Hweilan’s sacrifice and claimed her as one of his. Now she must learn to truly become a hunter so that she may take on the powers of Nendawen and avenge her family. But while Nendawen’s faithful forge the young woman into a brutal killer, the undead forces of Jagen Ghen have found a way into Nendawen’s sanctuary in the Feywild.

WAR! What Is It Good For…

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23848096Butt effin all that’s what.

This was a bittersweet read for me.  I knew it was coming, but I had no idea what it’s effect on me would be.

An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea is officially the tenth book in the Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor.  Here we revisit the town of Ballybucklebo, Kinky nee Kincaid, Barry Laverty, and the still newlywed Mr. and Mrs. O’Reilly as they deal with new upheavals in their loves.  Kinky is settling in to her new married life, Barry is dealing with his sweetheart Sue Nolan off for training or some such thing, while Fingal is faced with some troublesome truths of Kitty’s past; mostly that she met and fell in love with another man when she served in Spain.  A fact that only comes to light when she receives a letter that he had passed.

Fingal dealing with his own emotions when he discovered that Kitty loved another man is the main focus of this story, and I guess as a way to cope with it he begins to remember his past during the war when he lost his first wife Dierdre.

It is no secret that Fingal was married before, or that his first wife died in a bombing raid, but nothing else was really known about her, so this book puts a lot of questions to bed and like a few of the other ones the perspective flips between Fingal’s past and his present. And his past focused on his domestic life, or at least what was leading up to it as there were quite a few hoops Fingal needed to jump through before they could tie the knot and live as man and wife.  The interesting thing for me though was they tried for a baby before Fingal went off to war again after they were married, and that they succeeded.  So not only did Fingal lose his wife in the raid, he also lost his first -and turns out only- child.

That really threw me.  I don’t think anywhere else in the series what it mentioned her pregnancy or ever their attempts at conception before going off to war so that was quite the shock for me.  Otherwise it was a goo book and a lot of new information to take in, both for Fingal and Kitty.

But I think that’s it for the Irish Country series for now.  The next book is out, but only in hardcover so it will be a bit before you see it here.  In the meantime I think you know where I’m going…back to the Realms!  Finishing off Sandstorm by Christopher Rowe.

8869598The genasi control almost all of Calimshan for their djinn overlords—all but a few outposts like the floating Island of the Free, where escaped slaves from Calimport’s coliseum run their own brutal games. There, Cephas, a genasi with no memories of his past has spent his entire life fighting But one day a circus of misfits, lead by the crowlike Corvus Nightfeather appear and free Cephas—and for the first time Cephas can harness his inborn powers and control the stones and dirt beneath his feet.

Thirteen Down for Ja No Read Mo 2017

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23847996I DUDDITS!  Reached my goal of 13 books for Ja No Read Mo 2017!  Now let’s hope I can reach my goal of 70 books for the year.

Here we have An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War, the tenth book in the Irish Country series, and I swear I am loving this series more with every book.

It’s a little bit hard to explain everything that happens in this one as the time is split between two very different eras.  First it’s between the ‘current’ time in Ballybucklebo where we finally see our miss Kinky Kinkaid remarry and move out of Number One Main street, leaving her old rooms open for Barry coming back to the practise.  Young doctor Jenny is running a women’s clinic, Mr. and Mrs. O’Reilly are fast approaching their one year anniversary and Kitty has a heartbreaking secret for Fingal, Sue is still with Barry and is trying to make a positive different in the lives of the children of Ballybucklebo.

The other side of it is Fingal O’Reilly’s time in the war, or at least parts of it.  This side of the story begins just as he asks a woman named Dierdre Mawhinney to marry him and she agrees.  Then he is called out of naval reserve status and assigned to the battleship Warspite for the first few years of the war, learning much about doctoring and surgery, and too much about the cost of war.  It doesn’t take us all the way to the end of the war and Fingal returning to Ballybucklebo after the death of Dierdre, but I feel that’s coming in the next one.

But that will have to wait for a bit, as I am going to try and squeeze one more out of Ja No Read Mo 2017.  I honestly don’t think I will be able to make it, but there’s no harm in trying is there?  Either way you slice it, we’ll be (FINALLY!) looking at Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code next, but will it be the 14th book for Ja No Read Mo 2017?  Stay tuned….

6314618An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

Twelve Down for Ja No read Mo 2017

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2769328So close…to…goal!

I was actually really disappointed in this book.  I had actually purchased the second book, Tyrant Storm of Arrows from a clearance bin years ago because it interested me.  And I finally got around recently to getting the first book because as we all know you can’t very well read book 2 without reading book 1 first.

The storyline when you look at it as a whole was very meh.  The begining and middle engaged me as the characters were actually doing things, but I would up skimming the entire last third of the book because it was just that boring to me.  Not sure I’ll be reading the second one after this…

Anywhoodle, this is the story of an Athenian calvary officer who is turned mercenary after being dismissed from the army of Alexander the Great and is hired by the tyrant of a small city to train their calvary force and all along the way the main character Kineas has to fight an uphill battel against politics, noblemen who dislike and distrust him, as well as new recruits who think they’re too good to serve in the calvary.

Now as I said in the beginning the first two thirds were interesting.  It was all about Kineas’ past in the army, gathering his mercenary group together, riding forth to the town, training the troops, and finally girding for war when it comes to them.  But then that final third…war is engaged and for the most part nothing happens.  At least nothing that keeps me interested in reading word for word.

There was a bit of a love story in there, but they made the female character so standoffish and their whole courtship so convoluted and complex I just didn’t see the point of it in the end.

Ah well.  Maybe I will read the second one someday, and maybe it will be better.

But now, that moment you have all been waiting for.  The final (?) book for Ja No Read Mo 2017! Ladies an gentlemen may I introduce the 13th book for this month and this year: An Irish Doctor in Love and At Sea by Patrick Taylor.

23847996Long before Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly became a fixture in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, he was a young M.B. with plan to marry sweetheart. Deirdre Mawhinney, and settle down. But those dreams are complicated by the Second World War and the call of duty. Assigned to the HMS Warspite, a formidable thirty-thousand-ton battleship, Surgeon Lieutenant O’Reilly soon finds himself face-to-face with the horrors of war, tending to the dreadnought’s crew of twelve hundred as well as the many casualties brought aboard. Also a struggle: remaining true to his beloved Deirdre despite temptations abroad…

Over two decades later, life in Ballybucklebo is far cry from the strife of war, but O’Reilly and young colleagues still have plenty of challenges on their hands, from an outbreak of German measles, the odd tropical disease, a hard-fought pie-baking contest, and a local father whose muleheaded adherence to tradition is standing in the way of his son’s future. Now older and wiser, O’Reilly has prescriptions of whatever ails … until a secret from the past threatens to unravel his own peace of mind.

Shifting deftly between two very different eras, Patrick Taylor’s latest Irish Country novel reveals more about O’Reilly’s tumultuous past, even as Ballybucklebo faces the future in its own singular fashion.

Eleven Down for Ja No Read Mo 2017

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17910148The Wiley O’Reilly is the ninth book in the Irish Country series, and it’s something I did not expect in the beginning.

Apparently Patrick Taylor began this series as short stories in the local paper and has collected those original short stories here, 9 books later.

Honestly, when I realized what it was, I was concerned I would not like it, as short story collections tend to go either way with me.  I either love it or I hate it.  But damn if this book isn’t funny as all hell.

Not to say that there weren’t a few issues.  I found a lot of the stories to be very wordy.  Almost needlessly so.  Some of them were very funny I wound up laughing out loud, but I am a beleiver in efficient writing.  Use as many words as you need to in order to convey what you want when you write, but don’t go overboard.  Don’t use twenty words when ten would do kinds of thing. And since a lot of the stories were really blown up language wise, it made reading them a bit difficult.

But the end game here is that I loved this book despite all that.  Especially the end story about O’Reilly coming home from the war.

And moving right along, I’m so close to my 2017 Ja No Read Mo goal of 13 books I can almost taste it!  Book 12 is next, Tyrant by Christian Cameron.

2769328Glory. Death. Well-born Athenian cavalry officer, Kineas, fought shoulder to shoulder with Alexander in his epic battles against the Persian hordes. But on his return from the east to his native city, he finds not glory but shame – and exile.

With nothing to his name but his military skills, Kineas agrees to lead a band of veterans to the city of Olbia, where the Tyrant is offering good money to train the city’s elite cavalry. But soon Kineas and his men find they have stumbled into a deadly maze of intrigue and conspiracy as the Tyrant plots to use them as pawns in the increasingly complex power games between his own citizens, and the dread military might of Macedon.

Caught between his duty to the Tyrant, his loyalty to his men and a forbidden love affair with a charismatic Scythian noblewoman, Kineas must call on all his Athenian guile, his flair on the battlefield, and even – he is convinced – the intervention of the gods, to survive.

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