Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey read-along final week

Today is the final week of our readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

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Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by me) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

 

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?

This part of the story made me smile to be honest because the way everyone spoke of the black diamond put me in mind of Lord of the Rings and the way everyone spoke of the ‘one ring’ – you cannot wield it!  Apparently it doesn’t seem as though the diamond could be put to use – it feels like it manipulates the person who holds it and exaggerates there emotions to a heightened degree.  I thought the mission to retrieve the diamond went remarkably well in fact much smoother than I anticipated – I think I expected much more trouble somehow but it seemed like Jagrati and her falconer had a much smaller contingent surrounding them than I had imagined.  I must admit that when Jagrati poisoned herself I half wondered if she’d taken a potion that mimics death and was going to wake up and escape!  I obviously have too active an imagination because it was much more straightforward.

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 couldn’t help feel a little bit sad for Jagrati in some respects and I couldn’t help but wonder if the black diamond had had a detrimental effect on her.  That being said – she behaved very badly and let herself be twisted by anger and hate.  Amrita on the other hand is like the opposite, she’s very calm and gentle seeming.  She has had the privilege of course of being born into a very favourable caste so hasn’t suffered in quite the same way and I suppose you could question the fact that she never saw the unreasonable treatment of the untouchables until Moirin pointed it out.  I think Amrita can start to instigate changes, I think there will be plenty of resistance, a little of which we already read about, but eventually things could change.

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?

I think I finally did forgive Bao – he explained himself well I thought and he did go through a lot in the first place simply trying to find Moirin.  I liked that he actually set out to rescue her and I thought they were very honest with each other which is a great start.  They also seem to have come to a better place in terms of sharing the diadh-anam which was good to see.

Finally – any predictions for where the journey will take us next? Can you see a purpose in Moirin’s diadh-anam??

Other than suspecting we will eventually come full circle with Moirin returning to deal with Raphael de Mereliot I’m not sure at this point where the rest of the journey will take us – but, yes, I think Moirin will have to return to see if Raphael does still have a demon possessing him.  On reflection this story is almost like a coming of age story for Moirin – like her entire journey has really been about finding herself, of course she’s helped others along the way and I found it interesting that the journey and the events involved seemed to revolve very strongly around religion and the ways in which it can be distorted or corrupted.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness
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Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey, readalong – final week

naakissToday is the final week of our readalong of Naamah’s Kiss.  Feel free to join in with the comments.  This week the questions are being hosted by me.   Please be aware that spoilers may be lurking below for this and future books in the series so be careful – you were warned!

So, straight to the questions and answers then:

1. Moirin has come a long way since we first met her.  How do you think her adventures have changed her if at all – does anything stand out in particular?

I think that Moirin is a character who is very singular minded and in a way that can maybe come across as though she doesn’t form attachments easily.  For me, this changed as the story went along, she’s still very determined, she has a path that she feels she has to follow but she definitely shows a lot more feeling towards other people.

2. I was hit by how far Moirin’s magical abilities have come along, I don’t think I particularly expected it to be honest – why do you think that might be?

I was surprised a bit by this element.  When the story started Moirin had her twilight ability and also her skills with plants but as the story as progressed things have definitely moved further on.  Of course she was given one particular gift through her summonings with The Circle but her other gifts have increased – I can’t help wondering if this is because she is following her destiny and as things occur it’s almost like a reward from the Gods?

3. Looking back through the story it feels like most aspects had a bearing on the final outcome, do you think Moirin’s path is really set in stone or does she have the ability to change things?

I guess what I really meant with this is that Moirin’s path was guided to certain things, such as Raphael and The Circle – and even though they felt wrong at the time, if she hadn’t taken part in this aspect of the tale or decided not to choose to spend time with Raphael then she would never have received her gift – which, as we know, was essential to the final outcome.  It feels like Moirin’s destiny isn’t set in stone – she could veer from the path, or it seems like that to me, but I think the feelings she received are definitely trying to help her choose correctly.  So, not set in stone but definitely a lot of help in terms of guidance.

4. Do you feel that Moirin’s actions will have an impact on the Maghuin Dhonn in any way.

I couldn’t help thinking this may be what her destiny was about.  Maybe to restore some favour to her people?  I wondered if that was why her magical abilities were increased?

5. Were you surprised by the final chapters with Lo and Bao and the overall reaction of Bao?  

Yes and no really. I wasn’t surprised by Bao’s initial anger and upset.  I guess I was surprised that he chose to leave, but I guess on reflection with his teacher/master now gone perhaps he needs to find a new purpose?

6. We know that Moirin is about to set off an another journey as this book ends.  Any predictions, hopes or fears for what is to come next?

My fear is that she’s setting off by herself into unknown territory, but, I guess she has a certain way with her doesn’t she – something about her seems to attract people who want to help her along the way – she seems to fall on her feet I guess.  Plus she has her special abilities to help her.  In terms of what comes next – well, my feeling is that she will find Bao – what comes after that I don’t know.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers readalong final week

closed-and-commonToday is the final week for our readalong of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.  This week takes in Part 3 to End and is hosted by Mogsy at The BiblioSanctum.   Please be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so if you haven’t read this book yet and are intending to do so you might want to get out of here!

1. At the end of the last segment, we got to meet Laurian but this week we got to know him better in Jane’s sections and learn how he factors into these flashbacks. What do you think of his and Jane’s relationship and how has it impacted your understanding of the bond between Pepper and Blue?

Well, to be honest I kind of figured out that Laurian and Blue were one and the same character.  It made sense with the strong bond that he and Pepper seemed to share.  Nothing like risky business and dangerous ventures to bring two people close together.  I think that Oouoh said the same thing to Pepper when he highlighted how obvious it was that the two of them were so close.  Speaking of Oouoh what a great character – I wouldn’t mind having a comforting hug from Oouoh when needed.

2. In this section, we saw how Jane finally made it to the GC. Sidra, in her storyline, also makes headway in freeing herself from her programming and has developed a new kind of relationship with the kit. In a way, both of them managed to accomplish what they set out to do, but what do you think they each made of their results?

I thought the lightbulb moment for Sidra when she suddenly realises she’s missing her kit and the closeness and involvement that it allows her to share with others was really excellent.  The whole ‘finding a purpose’ storyline was really clever as well I thought.  Overall it was a great defining moment for Sidra and I really liked the direction it took.

Jane had a bit of a rotten time.  I realised that she was suffering from malnutrition and assumed that was why she was so tired before she made her escape but, wow, she was carrying a whole lot more health problems than I realised – I felt exhausted on her behalf.  I felt really sorry for her though, to have gone through so much, to have escaped, to have made it in a shape being held together with sticky back plastic and string and then to have Owl taken away from her – that was harsh.

3. When the seeds of Sidra’s plan started to form, what were your thoughts? Did you have any concerns about what she might do and how things might end?

I think my  concerns for Sidra’s plan were threefold: firstly, concerning Tak and whether she could pull it off with her emotions running riot and giving her away.  I did have a momentary concern when something seemed to be happening to Sidra’s programming and (linked to that) I also wondered if Sidra might end up being over written completely somehow!  Other than that – yeah, I wasn’t worried at all (haha not much).

4. What did you make of Sidra’s comments on the nature of “Purpose”? How well do you think her views match with the examples we’ve seen so far in the story?

I liked that Sidra finally reached this conclusion and was able to adapt her own purpose.  It was sensible and spot on for all the characters when you really think about it.  Jane (and all the Janes) were created with a purpose – even though it was a horrible storyline – that still remains true.  When Jane became Pepper she came up with another purpose for herself that was really quite similar so was able to carry on in a way that would probably make her feel comfortable.  Blue – I’m not really too sure what his original purpose was but clearly he creates art to be pleasing to others as does Tak.  Owl had a very nurturing and caring role and that was consistent throughout the story.  I liked the idea of this – I’m not sure that we maybe think of it in quite so simple a fashion but even so it has a certain ring of truth.

5. What did you think of the ending, and/or any closing thoughts?

Well, I was surprised, very pleasantly.  I really expected something to go horribly wrong and as it was it seemed like everyone had a really good outcome – I still keep thinking I’ve missed something – I was so convinced that something nasty was going to occur.

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong final week

kushiels-mercyToday is the final week of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week  Susan at Dab of Darkness is hosting.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.

1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?
Mmm, an intriguing question.  The spell was just not of the same strength as the ensorcelling I suppose – or looked at another way it couldn’t be sustained in the face of such an overwhelming strength of support.  So many people all suffering under the same delusion – difficult to not succumb – even Durstan fell back under the spell.  Interesting that Sidonie’s will power weakened when Imriel was finally sent away and she lost her final support.  The pieces of thread that were used in the spell seemed very flimsy but Imriel was using what he knew.  I wonder if there would have been something more substantial that the spell could have used – like leather bracelets or something else – although I don’t suppose that would have made the spell any stronger.  I was thinking of the spell that ensorcelled the city – I couldn’t help wondering though – surely there must have been some people who didn’t fall under – somebody who missed the spectacle as it were?
2) Mavros as part of the Queen’s Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua? 
I don’t think it did surprise me.  After all, everyone was suffering the same delusion so it makes sense that they all rallied round.  It was so awful watching these characters behave like this.  Durstan and Joscelin were the most surprising for me I think – they were just so different and out of character!
3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he’s knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways? 
It was such a strange moment wasn’t it.  I think it was the Gods helping.  Lateral thinking.  This way he got to look at the problem from a different angle (literally) and as everyone else then left he only had to subdue Joscelin (not as easy as it sounds of course). I couldn’t help thinking they should have tied Joscelin up!
4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel – his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn’t like? 
I thought the way the spell was broken was really well done.  I was wondering how Carey would manage it to be honest.  It certainly had the potential to be a bit of a let down but the whole, emerald exploding and the demon manifesting in the dirt like a little whirlwind before blasting everyone – well, it was pretty impressive actually.  And I like that Carey made both Imriel and Sidonie jointly responsible for breaking the curse.  I thought it was good that even though Sidonie was once again under the spell she still wanted to trust Imriel.
5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you? 
Well, the part I was looking forward to most was the reconciliation with Alais and her parents and to be honest I thought that was a little under played so I was a bit disappointed with that particular scene.  I wanted to have a bit more of a making up scene with Ysandre and Alais.
6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered? 
I think it was a really good ending with lots of possibility for more excitement to come.  It seems like maybe Alais is being set up for a future story?  I think the only thing I did want, but it seems a little like asking too much, was something more about Melisande.  I think at the back of my mind I thought she would sneak into the city in disguise to observe the wedding – very unrealistic I know!!  And, I know that she will never be forgiven for what she did but I think I would have liked it if Imriel and Sidonie visited her.  Is that wrong?
Overall though.  I loved this book and after a start where I at first felt that I still wanted to read more from Phedre and Joscelin I confess that Carey completely turned me around on that score.  I loved Iriel’s adventures after all.

Any Other Name (Split Worlds #2) by Emma Newman, readalong final week

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Cat has been forced into an arranged marriage with William – a situation that comes with far more strings than even she could have anticipated, especially when she learns of his family’s intentions for them both. 

Meanwhile, Max and the gargoyle investigate The Agency – a mysterious organisation that appears to play by its own rules – and none of them favourable to Society. 

Over in Mundanus, Sam has discovered something very peculiar about his wife’s employer – something that could herald a change for everyone in both sides of the Split Worlds.

Today is the final week of our readalong.  Such a lot of surprises this week.  The schedule is below and a link to the Goodread’s page here.  Feel free to jump on board or join in with the comments and if you haven’t read the book please be aware of spoilers below.

Week 1: Monday 6th June, Chapters 1-6, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Monday 13th June, Chapters 7-13, hosted by x + 1
Week 3: Monday 20th June, Chapters 14-20, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Monday 27th June, Chapters 21-End, hosted by The Illustrated Page

 

What a surprising last few chapters.  A lot that I really didn’t see coming and the duplicity and two facedness is really quite staggering – in fact nothing seems to be as it first seems!  To the questions:

After her meeting with Miss Rainer, Cathy is determined to tackle the Agency and bring feminism to the Nether. What are her odds of success? Is Lucy a trustworthy ally?

Aww, I was so gutted for Miss Rainter – I hope that something can eventually be done to help her.  In terms of Cathy – it has given her a renewed purpose and dI think she stands a very good chance of success and I certainly think Lucy is trustworthy – which adds even more to my conviction that change is possible.  After all, I don’t think it will take too much to garner a lot of support from some of the other women in this society – particularly those not used to such privileged positions.  I really like that Cathy is finally embracing the world in which she has been born and trying to change it rather than simply run away – not that I blame her for wanting to run away – but having now been in the position to live in her world and ours I think, more than a lot of the other women in her world, she has a good idea of what she wants and the unfair situation in which they all live.  I predict a riot!  Of lace and frills and bonnets, but nonetheless a riot!

Will wants another chance at a happy ending for him and Cathy. Thoughts? 

I’m very unhappy with a lot that has taken place with Will but I don’t believe in cutting my nose off to spite my face.  That being said he’s got a lot to do to gain back some ground.  I thought we got to really see how powerful the charm was that has been used on him – which was interesting – was the charm used early on to ensure his desire even?  Not sure. It also served to highlight that he doesn’t really have strong feelings for Isabella because he wasn’t interested in staying with her, in spite of her best efforts, until she used the charm again.  As to his ending with Cathy we’ll have to see what happens to be honest.  They will both have to start to be a bit more honest and maybe make a fresh start.  I think that overall Will could become an ally for Cathy and help her to make changes, maybe slowly, but he’s also been to mundanus so perhaps he can be persuaded to help.  If they start to have feelings for each other then so be it.  I think Will possible has the makings of something different in him – at the moment he does seem to be running around like a headless chicken and he seems a lot more easily manipulated than Cathy.

Do you think Lord Iron is to be trusted? Is Sam making the right move by joining CoFerrum? Any thoughts on his wife’s death?

No, I don’t think he’s to be trusted.  I don’t know why but if something smells bad – then it usually is bad.  I really don’t know why Lord Iron got my back up tbh – just something about him offering Sam such a good deal – a job, a decent salary, the chance for revenge, an attractive relocation package, it all smacks of him really being prepared to offer Sam anything in order to lure him in.  And, you can’t help wondering that the things he is offering Sam just so happen to coincide very nicely with Sam’s own desires.  Hadn’t he, just literally seconds earlier, been thinking he would sell the house and move?  Isn’t he out of work?  Wasn’t he thinking of revenge?  Something is rotten in Denmark I think – could be wrong of course but I just don’t trust Lord Iron at the moment.  Plus, the whole attack in the park – it’s like Sam was being played – throwing railings like an Olympian, having his injuries plugged up with Iron – and wasn’t Leanne trying to call him at the time?  Maybe she figured out something was wrong and was trying to get in touch.  She didn’t die at the same time as the attack in the park but later.  Maybe whatever happened to Leanne will now happen to Sam too – or maybe that’s the intent.  I don’t know, I’m running off at all sorts of tangents.

Do you think Mercia is behind the deaths of the Sorcerers? If so, what sort of deal do you think he struck with Lady Rose?

I don’t know about all this now.  I’m starting to think that Ekstrand is a bit of a funny onion.  He called a moot that he didn’t attend – and then everyone died and coincidentally and happily for him – he’s still alive.  He comes across as ridiculously dotty but I’m just remembering his original appearance at the end of the last book where he came across as anything but dotty in fact quite impressive when he was wielding his sorcery – and you can’t help thinking that there are now very few sorcerers left – so, you have to look at motives and survivors.  At the moment it seems that there may be two sorcerers left?  Perhaps they have a deal – or perhaps they’re at loggerheads and have great ambitions to be the only one?  Or perhaps I’m crazy.

What are your predictions for the next book?

I think the next book has the potential for a lot of excitement.  Apart from what’s going on with Cathy and her own personal endeavours I think that there is something much bigger at the heart of this – I don’t know what it is to be honest, perhaps it’s a way for the fae to break out from their exile, maybe they’ve made alliances?  I don’t actually fully know what to expect but it seems that there is definitely something bigger at stake here.

As an aside, did anybody think anything odd about Sophia – when she was at the park and all the other children went home crying.  As though she was maybe being very cruel to them all?  Makes me wonder if she’s not what everyone thinks.  We know the fae massively use their families – could Sophia have been enforced upon the family?  There was the whole discussion about children from the last book and I thought it was very odd that Will’s family would so blatantly flaunt the rules – especially when they have such a domineering Lord who controls them so microscopically.  Could Sophie have been placed with them – is she a changeling of sorts?  I don’t know but that scene in the park made me wonder about her.

The other thought I had concerned Lord Poppy.  I couldn’t help wondering in the dual at the end – the boon he gave to Will meant that his opponent was drugged and his reactions massively slowed down.  The boon that Lord Iris gave to Will just stopped him feeling anything through the first few strikes, it didn’t stop him from being struck  – it just seems that Lord Poppy gave the most useful boon in that situation which makes me think that he’s maybe pulling the strings here more than I originally thought.  I just have to look at the motivation, who stands to gain. I’m really not getting a full grasp on the situation at the moment but it’s certainly intriguing.

We will be reading the final book in the series as a readalong so any interest in joining let me know or check out the Goodreads pages.  An announcement to follow shortly.

 

 

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