Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

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Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

I received an ARC of Daughters of the Storm when I purchased After On at NYCC 2017.

Daughters of the Storm is the first book of the Blood and Gold series.

I actually finished the book about a month ago and have not had any time to review it, so this write up will be short.

What I really liked about DotS is that it’s a story about strong, flawed, complex women.
It’s a good story about sisters with their loyalty and their differences with each other.
Each woman has her own strengths and weakness that set up the foundation for character development.

I like the world building. There is the term Space Opera – this is a Medieval Opera, thought set in a fantasy realm with magic.

If I were to give one critique it’s that it drags a bit in some places, but never to the point where I was so bored it felt like a chore to read.

I certainly am interested to read the next book and see where the cliffhangers lead.

4 out of 5 Swords.

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Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

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From indie horror author and bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn, this brand-new supernatural thriller questions: how far would you go for success, and what would you be capable of if the promise of forever was real?

With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.

 

I picked this up last year at NYCC.

I enjoyed Within These Walls immensely. At 447 pages and taking me only 5 days to read, it’s a true page turner.

It stirs up all kinds of emotions. I was nervous, spooked, annoyed, angry, and saddened.

The f—ed up mentality, abuse, and manipulative behavior of the cult is really well developed; as was the loneliness, desperation, and vulnerabilty of the victims.

The story goes back to 1982/83 and forward to present day with some inclusions of articles, incident reports, and paranormal reports – which I really enjoyed. It connected everything really well.

This is one of those books that will keep me thinking for a few days. I have a book hangover. I even thought of a playlist that would go well with it:

-“Father Figure” by George Michael. The whole song is Jeff Halcomb.
-“Big God” by Florence + the Machine. “You need a big God. Big enough to hold your love.”  and “You always were my favorite ghost.”
-“”Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics. The whole verse about wanting to use and abuse and be used and abused.

There are some issues though which made me decide to downgrade it by 1 point. While I really liked the way it ended because it remained true to the powerful and ominous direction it was headed all along (and I think leaves it open for a sequel) not everything is answered and they are pretty important plot holes.

4 out of 5 Ornate Crosses.

These are major spoilers so enter at your own risk!

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DNF: A Crucible of Souls and The Abyss Beyond Dreams

These are both books that I picked up at NYCC 2016 and the last two from that pile. I am sad to say I couldn’t get through either one.

A Crucible of Souls (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence) by Mitchell Hogan

When Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, he is raised by monks and taught the arcane mysteries of sorcery.

Vowing to discover for himself who his parents really were, and what led to their violent end, he is thrust into the unfamiliar chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to earn an apprenticeship with a guild of sorcerers.

But he soon learns the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths.

As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that brings the world to the edge of destruction.

I feel horrible saying this because I wanted to like this story. It is in a genre I love and the synopsis sounds really intriguing. But there was something about it that was not clicking with me and I can’t even identify what it is.

When I was nearly 100 pages in I had to give in and give up. I am not even sure if I will pick it up again one day and try again. There are just too many books on my TBR.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers 1) by Peter F. Hamilton

The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel—self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void.

Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void, where the laws of physics are subtly different and mental powers indistinguishable from magic are commonplace. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics—the Fallers—that are intelligent but merciless killers.

Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever—if Nigel can uncover their secrets. As the Fallers’ relentless attacks continue, and the fragile human society splinters into civil war, Nigel must uncover the secrets of the Fallers—before he is killed by the very people he has come to save.

I could not even get through the first chapter. I thought it was just me so I went to read some of the 1 star and 2 star reviews on Goodreads. I found that a big reason I couldn’t get into it was that this is sort of a side story to another series. So the world building it already there and I was feeling a bit lost, no matter how much the author briefed the reader.

I kept reading reviews to see if maybe it got better and was worth going further, but many reviewers didn’t like how it switched stories and felt like a book within a book. Others said it started out exciting and then became boring. There was also a few complaints how it became too political in the middle. So I would have to be dealing with politics in a universe I am not familiar with.

Some fans of Hamilton’s even said that this was not the best of the series set in this universe.

Also, seeing a timeline of the history of the Commonwealth in the beginning was a bit intimidating.

In the end I decided have way too many other books to read. I can’t get involved in another series. Especially when they are long books. I saw one reviewer mention that at 640 pages this was one of his shorter books.

So I am moving on. Into the donation bag these go!

 

New York Comic Con 2017 – Sunday, October 8

Sunday, October 8

My sister decided to splurge for Mark Hamill’s autograph. (The price went up since he was last at NYCC in 2011). So in the morning she queued for his signing. Mark had the photo ops first, but the queues get really long real fast.

I left her briefly to go to Rob Reid’s signing at Random House’s booth.

I purchased After On. It was on sale and I got an ARC for Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins with the purchase. Rob’s first book, Year Zero, was a giveaway. He signed both copies.

I was wearing my new Jurassic Park shirt and Rob was wearing a shirt with the Jurassic Park logo, only his said “Golden Gate Park”.

 

 

Rob remembered me from the Deleted Scenes panel on Friday. (I was sitting in the front row.) I said the David Hasselhoff scene was hysterical and that really sold the book for me, and too bad it wasn’t in the book (After On). But he said that the character who writes the reviews is in there and all the reviews are online.

I pointed out our sort-of matching shirts and asked for a photo.

Then he said that he hopes I like After On. I read the first page while waiting on the queue. It’s funny.

 

 

Then I went back to wait on Mark’s queue. It was a long wait. First he had his photo ops. Then he had a break and I assume had some lunch (it’s only fair). So of course the autograph session stared like more than an hour late. The first people on the queue were cosplaying as Beauty and the (human) Beast. They were spectacular. Wish I had asked for a photo. Hundreds of others were asking.

Finally we get up to talk to Mark. Since my sister was the one actually getting her photo with him signed I just observed.

Mark saw their photo and said, “Look how cute you are.” I think my sister was too nervous and I had to tell her afterward that he said this. She was concentrating on the whole speech she prepared.
She told him that we were at his conversation last night. Mark had said how when he got the script for “The Last Jedi” he was surprised/disappointed about how Luke had lost his optimism.
My sister said she agreed with that and added that Luke also lost his Original Trilogy persistence to save Ben/Kylo.
Mark responded that he “has to be careful” of what he says, but it’s not a long wait. It will be answered before we know it.
We said we’d be there opening weekend and thanked him.

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New York Comic Con 2017- Saturday, October 7

Saturday, October 7

I would have really liked to see this panel, even though it was $45 and a separate ticketed event. You didn’t have to have a NYCC badge to attend. However, I already had bought my photo op with Mark Hamill that morning.

From a Certain Point of View: A Star Wars 40th Anniversary Celebration
October 07, 2017, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Hudson Mercantile – 500 W 36th St

In 1977 a princess, a farm boy, a scoundrel, a Wookiee, two droids, an old wizard, and a man in black set us off on a galaxy full of adventure. Forty years later, join an all-star panel of authors to celebrate the legacy of Star Wars with a new anthology that retells the story of Star Wars through the eyes of the background characters and creatures that bring the galaxy to life.

Moderated by Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo, this unique panel promises fun new insights into the characters and scenes of the film that you think you know, and features a rotating cast of more than a dozen Star Wars authors and contributors, including but not limited to: Ben Acker, Pierce Brown, Adam Christopher, Zoraida Cordova, Delilah Dawson, Jason Fry, Kieron Gillen, Claudia Gray, EK Johnston, Mur Lafferty, John Jackson Miller, Daniel José Older, Mallory Ortberg, Beth Revis, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Marc Thompson, Elizabeth Wein, and Chuck Wendig.

A ticket to this not to be missed event includes a New York Comic Con exclusive edition of From a Certain Point of View: A Star Wars 40th Anniversary Celebration, pre-signed by over a dozen of the contributing authors. This edition is extremely limited with only 1,000 copies in print.

Yay for youtube though. The panel is up and it is so funny.

My photo with Mark Hamill came out really nice. My sister’s photo is so cute. Mark is touching her chin, like he’s lifting it up with the tip of his fingers. She was so giddy about it.

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New York Comic Con 2017 – Friday, October 6

Friday, October 6
I had to work in the early part of the day so I missed:

The World of Philip K. Dick – The Man in the High Castle and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
October 06, 2017, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, Hammerstein Ballroom – 311 W 34th St

Amazon Prime Video presents a journey into the works of legendary author and sci-fi visionary, Philip K. Dick. This engaging panel, moderated by Deadline Hollywood Senior Editor Dominic Patten, will focus on two Prime Exclusive series – The Man in the High Castle, and groundbreaking new anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – and feature cast and creator discussion, exclusive sneak peeks, content and audience Q&A. Panelists for The Man in the High Castle will include cast members Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Rupert Evans (Hellboy) and Jason O’Mara (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), along with Executive Producers Eric Overmyer (Bosch, The Affair)and Dan Percival (Strike Back). Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams panelists include actor Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) and Executive Producers Michael Dinner (Justified) and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). The panelists will also be joined by Isa Dick Hackett (The Adjustment Bureau), Executive Producer on both series. Panel moderated by Dominic Patten. Talent subject to change.

I am interested in Electric Dreams since Ronald D. Moore is involved.

And I also missed:

Her Universe and Ashley Eckstein Spotlight
October 06, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Hudson Mercantile – 500 W 36th St

Hosted by Actress and Founder of Her Universe Ashley Eckstein, find out what’s new in the Universe!

Ashley will give advice to fans looking to get into the business of fashion, licensing or acting, share sneak peeks and give new information. Plus she’ll answer your questions!

Her Universe is Your Universe and we hope to see you there!

I got to the convention center a little after 3pm. I met up with my friend Nikki as I was waiting on the queue at the Random House booth for Pierce Brown’s signing.

I had my copy of Golden Son with me (Red Rising I had signed at NYCC in 2014 and Morning Star when it was released in 2016) and Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. Pierce’s story is called “Desert Son.”

While waiting I saw some people I recognized from the Facebook group. One man had shared a photo of himself in RR cosplay. He was wearing a wolf head cloak. I wanted to introduce myself and say hello but I didn’t want to lose my place in line since Nikki had not come to meet me yet. I thought I’d see them later but I did not.

When it was my turn Nikki took some video but it got cut off so I won’t share it (at this time). I’ll just sum it up.

So a little background: I went to Greece last year and while in Olympia visiting the ruins of the site of the ancient Olympics I bought a gold charm of a laurel. I bought it because it also reminds me of the cover to Golden Son.

I told Pierce I went to Greece and showed him my necklace. He said I got my laurel and it’s not bloody. Haha!

I asked how he came to write from Biggs Darklighter’s point of view in From a Certain Point of View. He said they asked him what he wanted to contribute and Biggs has always been a favorite character of his.

I told him he knows Star Wars so well because his interpretation of the scene was just like the movie. Pierce was surprised I read it already and I said it was the first one I read. (I still have to read the rest but since Pierce signed this copy I want to keep it clean and will listen to the audiobook instead. I also intend to ask the other authors to sign it someday.)

Then I spoke about the Iron Gold sampler.

Minor SPOILERS!!

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Bellwether by Connie Willis

Pop culture, chaos theory and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula winning author of Doomsday Book.

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O’Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions.

I got Bellwether at a signing at NYCC 2016. It was a double author signing and I was really there for the other book, but this was a happy surprise.

I liked that it was a short and fast read (the only reason it took me so long to finish was because work was busy and NYCC 2017 had me put the book on the back burner. Otherwise I could have easily read this over a weekend. I sailed through it to finish this weekend.)

It was really funny. The satire had me really laughing out loud at a few moments. The actions and herd mentality of some of the characters was amusing and comical.

I liked how each chapter began with a bit of history of a fad or trend. It was like a mini encyclopedia.

I was unsure about the time period it took place in because I often wondered, “Why don’t they just order this on amazon?” It was published in 1996. Surly people ordered things online 20 years ago?

Anyway, the romance is minimal and predictable, but the plot is simple and if you’re looking for a fast read that will keep you amused and give you some chuckles., this is it.

3 out of 5 Sheep.