Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week 3

Today is the third 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.

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 Susan at Dab of Darkness) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

1) What stood out to you for Moirin’s baptising ceremony? Have you ever been through such a religious ceremony and did it go as you expected? 
I was a little bit surprised at how quickly the ceremony seemed to go after all the build up to it – but, in fairness, I never expected it to go well, I thought that Rostov would have some cunning plan up his sleeve that wasn’t part of the ceremony and indeed he did.  What really surprises me is the speed at which he turned and condemned Moirin to death.
2) Now Moirin and Alexsie (spelling?) are free. Alexsie has much to learn not just about Moirin but also about the larger world. What moment do you think challenged his ingrained beliefs the most? What do you think he will do ultimately with his life? 
Well, Alexsie was very naive about so many things wasn’t he.  I think there were plenty of moments that challenged his beliefs but partly I think that’s because his religion has been twisted by Rostov into something that it shouldn’t have been where the most natural feelings have been turned into something vile and sinful.  I would like to think that without such a repellant influence in his life he would go on to teach his religious beliefs in a way that is much more accepting of others way of life.  I also think he will find another love – Moirin and Alexsie just weren’t right – they had a brief and lovely interlude but it was never going to be anything more – I think Moirin had probably one too many strange ways that he couldn’t get his head around but I liked that he said sorry to her for the abduction and his part in it.
3) There comes a moment when Moirin realizes that she did come to love Alexsie, in a way, and that’s the same moment she knows she will not see him again. Naamah’s curse indeed! Have you had such a moment yourself? Do you think this curse also applies now to Moirin’s love of the departed Jehane? 
Fortunately I haven’t experienced such a moment to be honest.  It was a sad moment for both of them but like I said above I don’t think their relationship was ever going to amount to anything more – Moirin knew that herself.  Deep down they never would have been truly happy together –  I suppose Alexsie found himself first love and Moirin got to have some fun after a long period of abstinence.  I feel that the loss of Jehane has affected Moirin much more than Alexsie parting ways, but that’s not really a surprise as she will never get to see Jehane again after all – this Curse really is a bit nasty isn’t it!
4) Falcons and spiders and rats, oh my! What stood out the most for you in Moirin meeting up again with Erdina, Bao’s wife? And what do you expect Moirin will find as she heads towards the Falconer with his Spider Queen? 
I was surprised by how much trust Moirin put in Erdina – it could have been a trick after all – but at the same time I was pleased that she did decide to trust her.  I was also a bit surprised at Erdina – she’s certainly changed in terms of accepting that Bao loves Moirin – to be honest that whole chapter of their meeting and the way Erdina and Moirin behaved just served to shine Bao in a really bad light all over again for me.  Even Moirin trying to justify to herself his actions – she admitted herself that she couldn’t understand what he’d done and really he behaved very badly to both of them – it makes you wonder why they’re both so keen to help him now!  Well, I understand why Moirin has to help him but I’m surprised that Erdina doesn’t feel more anger.
This next step of the story – it all sounds very dark and foreboding doesn’t it with spider queen’s and Falcon kings.  I actually really don’t know what to expect but I’m thinking it will be a bit sinister.
That’s it for this week – feel free to join with the readalong, all welcome, or please add your comments.
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire, readalong week 3

chimesToday is the third week of a four week readalong of Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire.    How I’m loving this series and it feels as though each book just keeps adding more depth to the world created by McGuire.  Feel free to join us.  A Goodreads page is set up here or simply jump in with the comments.  Also, be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so be careful!

This week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is providing the questions so lets get a budge on:

1. “We took titles as a warning. ‘Stay away. Here there be monsters.'”

This week we learn the Luidaeg’s original name, and also that she really does, perhaps, have her sneaky ways of answering some of Toby’s unasked questions – or starting to, anyway. What speculations are you drawing from what we learn in Toby’s blood-vision? Given this teaser, what questions might you ask the Luidaeg if you were in Toby’s shoes.

Personally, if I was in Toby’s shoes I’d be gobbling those frozen blood pills down like they were candy in search of questions – which would probably be very unwise.  I’m getting from these flashbacks, and how ingenious of the Luidaeg by the way to come up with that, that Toby’s mum was very much trying to protect Toby – I don’t know if I’ve picked everything up but clearly Armandine is very powerful and clearly sometimes being so powerful is a risky business – why else would the other firstborn have the titles and ‘stay away. Here there be Monsters’ thing going on.  But, we had a different hint in this section – I think I would be asking just exactly who my father was if I was Toby – we know that one king already tried to hide his family to save them – what if Toby’s father wasn’t human.  Toby could be very powerful and maybe a potential threat to others – maybe in danger.  I don’t know, I’m jumping around all over the place but I’m beginning to wonder if Toby really is a changeling.

2. “I know a lot about being royal.”

Surprise! So the truth about Quentin’s background is out, and I’ve got to know: did you suspect this at all or did it in fact surprise you? Any predictions for the young squire-prince going forward from here?

I was completely surprised.  I’ve been making a lot of surprises about Toby but I really didn’t follow the breadcrumbs with Quentin and I was gobsmacked.  At least I didn’t have a pie in the face!  I really don’t know – will he be required to complete his time as a squire?  I can’t see how that would work really.  It feels like Toby has already started to change towards him and although she has always been a little bit protective I think she will feel differently towards him.  I don’t think it will affect their friendship – just maybe the way she feels about the whole situation or how comfortable she is ordering him around.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Toby changes the way the acts around people depending on their status, I just think that knowing him to be a prince now will just change things.  You can’t ‘unknow’ it can you?  Perhaps Quentin could help Arden to become accustomed to her new role?  I definitely think that he would be a champion for Toby in the future which can’t be a bad thing – he’s seen how she works and how fair she is so…

3. “You protect your family by making the world a better place for them to live. Not by running away.”

Toby’s got some hard truths for Arden, and well she should know about them… Do you think Arden will stand by her choice here? And what do you think of October Daye looking set up to have the ear of the next Queen in the Mists?

Yes, for once I can see that maybe Toby won’t be hated by the Queen in the Mists – of course Arden will be a relatively innocent Queen – in terms of what she doesn’t know, she’s led a very innocent life in terms of the fae after all – I think she will need somebody like Toby, who tells her things the way they really are and doesn’t bow and scrape or curry favour or seek power.  In terms of Toby – having the ear of the Queen probably won’t make a difference – she’s not really seeking power or titles is she?

4. There’s plenty more to chew on in these chapters, but what parts stand out the most for you, and why?

So much in these chapters.  Where to start.  This book is so good.  I pretty much know that things are going to get so much worse before they get better or maybe that’s my pessimism sneaking in.  I want to know more about Quentin for a start.  Tybalt and Toby – very revealing that Toby finally has found her place – no more floundering around for her – she’s chosen where she wants to be and that might come with sadness over what she’s leaving behind but she is ready to move forward.  May – I think she might be getting ready to leave Toby and set up with Jazz but I could be wrong.  She’s always ready to step in and I think she’ll always be there for Toby but the scene where she was leaving with Toby to go to Muir and she was looking back at the house worrying about Jazz, well, I couldn’t help thinking that the two of them are becoming very serious and ready to move on together.  I loved reading about the Cu Sidhe – dog fae!  Especially winding down the window on Danny’s cab – why do dogs love to stick their heads out of car windows – which basically means a blast of cold air in the face – but yet they hate it if you blow in their face!  What is that.  Why?  And the Luidaeg – I can’t help thinking that everything could be improved by her appearance.  So tetchy and grumpy and pushing people around – but underneath it all – yeah, she’s still a grumpy puss, but she has heart.



Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey : Readalong week No.3

naakissToday is the third week of our readalong of Naamah’s Kiss.  Feel free to join in (the schedule is below) or to jump in with the comments.  This week the questions are being hosted by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures.  Please be aware that spoilers may be lurking below for this and future books in the series so please be careful.
1. What are your impressions of Queen Jehanne?
I wouldn’t say that I like her.  Which isn’t necessarily that I dislike her – I don’t know her well enough at the moment.  But, I certainly wouldn’t trust her.  I get the impression that everything she does is self serving – the incident with the viper – being annoyed because she felt Moirin had stolen her thunder.  And then there’s the whole step-mother vibe – let’s see!
2. Moirin has found herself in the middle of a sticky love triangle. How do you think it will play out?
I think that Moirin is going to have to step away from both of them to be honest.  They’re just using her – it feels almost like she’s just a plaything to distract or tantalise them both or maybe bring a little spice into their relationship.  I think it could end badly for Moirin because she’s obviously getting sucked in and I don’t trust either of these two.
3. Now that we finally get to meet Moirin’s father, what do you think of him?
He feels like a very calming influence.  Very reasonable, nice – he seems like a good guy to be honest.  He wasn’t judgemental of Moirin and he had a good natured laugh at her too.
4. The scene with the summoning of Valac seems to be a shift in tone from the rest of the series. Is the Circle in over its head? What do you think is happening here?
This has a bad feel doesn’t it.  Sharp white teeth, slit eyes – it makes me think of something that is just waiting to be released by trickery.  I think the Circle thinks its much more clever than it really is and I think they’re dabbling with things they know very little about.  It definitely feels like something dark is going to come of this.
5. What do you think of the descriptions so far of the Ch’in?
I guess they’re as I expected.  The master who is all patient and comes out with lots of wise statements.  Then we have Bao, scowling and prickly.  Moirin and Bao put me a little in mind of Phedre and Joscelin when they first met – each disapproving of the other – I wonder.
Dec. 5th Week 1 – Chapters 1-12, Hosted by Lynn
Dec. 12th Week 2 – Chapters 13-26, Hosted by Susan
Dec. 19th Week 3 – Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Grace
Dec. 26th Week 4 – Chapters 37-48, Hosted by Allie
Jan. 2nd Week 5 – Chapters 49-60, Hosted by Susan
Jan. 9th Week 6 – Chapters 61-74, Hosted by Lisa
Jan 16th Week 7 – Chapters 75-End, Hosted by Lynn

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers readalong week No.3

closed-and-commonToday is the third week for our readalong of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

Here’s the schedule:

Week 1: Friday 2nd December – Start of Part 1 up to Page 94 (“…yellow, silver, white…”), hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 9th December – Page 95 (Jane, Age 10 “Jane was still tired…”) to End of Part 1, hosted by imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Week 3: Friday 16th December – all of Part 2, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Friday 23rd December – Part 3 to End, hosted by Mogsy at The BiblioSanctum

To the Q&A with the customary spoiler warning!  Be warned folks, spoilers will be lurking.  And, feel free to dive in with your comments.

So, the opening chapters brought us an apology from Tak to Sidra following the tattoo debacle.  What were your thoughts on that particular scene?
It was a touching scene really wasn’t it.  Plus was a good demonstration of Tak’s change of mind – it probably wouldn’t have occurred to Tak to apologise to an AI previously and yet here we have an apology.  The thing is, sometimes you can give offence, not out of malice but out of ignorance and I think Tak needed time to think about things.
The stories between Jane and Sidra have a certain symmetry and this week’s was no exception as we watched the pair of them almost go through a period akin to puberty.  Did any of their particular experiences bring back fond, or not so fond, memories for you?  
I don’t suppose puberty is a pleasant time for anyone.  It made me smile reading about Jane’s experiences – particularly because she didn’t have any real reference about what was really going on.  When we go through puberty we’re surrounded by a whole bunch of people who are experiencing similar things at the same time.  I must admit I didn’t have a particularly tough time during that period – the worst of my experience revolves around having a face that turns crimson at the slightest thing – and then having a host of people only too happy to point it out.  “Ohh, you’ve gone all red”  *yeah, thanks, I had no idea!*
I love the two separate storylines going on here and though Jane and Sidra share some common ground I think their stories both have something different to say.  What are your thoughts on that?
I guess the two stories are about survival but in different ways.  Jane is living on a planet in fairly dire circumstances.  She seems to be slowly starving and every time she goes out she risks either attack by feral dogs, hurting herself on the terrain or some other accident.  Sidra on the other hand is trying to survive by learning how to blend in.  She isn’t going to starve and physical attack seems unlikely but nonetheless her situation is still serious.  She’s in an illegal kit – I have no idea what the repercussions of discovery would be but I imagine it would involve her being closed down somehow!  I confess it still does my head in why this body kit is illegal but that’s a whole other thing!
I’m curious about the Enhanced.  We haven’t really spent a lot of time with them but I still  think we can draw some conclusions.  Is there any aspect of the Enhanced and the planet on which they live that really caught your attention?
I can’t help wondering if the Enhanced are in some way reflective of our lives to some extent but magnified – I’m over simplifying but we live in a society that has a very ‘throw away’ attitude – the planet that Jane is on seems to have a huge ass scrap pile!  The Enhanced – kind of makes you think that the people have been genetically modified to perhaps make them perfect – so maybe a little bit focused on outside appearances – I’m just saying.
At the end of the chapters we have a couple of new developments.  Sidra has managed to alter the protocols that compel her to speak the truth and the spaceship that Jane escaped in has been uncovered.  Do you have any predictions how either of these might affect what is yet to come?
Well, we’re getting into the last chapters so I’m a bit worried about what exactly is going to go horribly wrong – maybe nothing – you never know, but I got a bad feeling!  I’m hoping that the fact that Sidra doesn’t have to tell the truth might get them out of a sticky situation but I have no reason to suspect that, I just can’t help wondering if there was a hidden reason for it all.  As to the uncovering of the spaceship – I don’t know what that signifies really – other than it being a way to bringing Owl back to fill in the final chapters of Jane’s story.

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.3

kushiels-mercyToday is week 3 of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week, Allie at Emma Wolf is our host.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

Yes, I think he will visit her again.  I don’t really know why but I have a feeling that his feelings towards her may be softened somewhat, especially now he’s met her again and heard her talk – not to mention that very frank conversation they had when they looked at each others weaknesses or fault lines.

2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete? 

I must confess this part of the story was so strange following in the mind of Leander!  Some of his thoughts don’t exactly portray him in the best light!  But, yes, I do think there is obviously quite a bit of Imriel’s personality shining through.  I think the desire to meet Sidonie and his thinking that he might be falling in lover with her – I think that’s obviously persuaded by Imriel – maybe not directly but I just can’t help feeling that somehow Imriel’s love is determined to come out and this will in some way affect Leander.  After all, even the tiniest seed can grow in the right conditions  – of course that could all be nonsense!

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

It’s so odd, like I said above – both of them are having their natural feelings, and in the case of Sidonie her memories, surpressed, and yet both of them seem to be drawn to each other inexplicably.  For me there is clearly something about that relationship that wants to shine out in spite of all the magic currently heaped onto them to prevent it.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel’s cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?
Carthage is an intriguing place – Carey is an expert at giving you a feel for a place and infusing it with culture and religion and this is no exception.  I don’t like the slavery and the trips to the market were really unpleasant.  Especially with the young frightened boy!  And then there are the sacrifices to the Gods which was a bit unexpected.
5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander’s eyes. Has your impression changed?
This is a really intriguing aspect to this particular plot.  He clearly has an old relationship with Sunjata that has picked back up and the pair seem to like each other and have a certain degree of trust although whether they could completely trust each other remains to be seen.  Bodeshmun is just a scary character I think – no matter whose eyes are doing the looking!
6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?
I don’t really know with this one.  My immediate answer would be to think it was Imriel but it could equally have been Leander – especially given his history and the time he’s spent with Melisande.
The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)
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