GreyWarden

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

28117964

 

Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy. Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

What’s Good: How about the opening line for starters- “Blood. The blood of my enemies drips down my forearms, fleeing the confines of the spaces between my fingers, traveling toward freedom on the cold, stone floor.” Got your attention, yet?

 

This is a very imaginative twist on the fairytale. Everything old is new again in this one. There’s a few homages to the classic version of the tale, but ain’t no fairy godmothers floating around here. Nope- what comes to Ella’s aid is far more disturbing and best left undisturbed. Author F.M. Boughan cites researching historical texts and grimoires on necromancy, and it shows. Well done!

 

The necromancy comes into play as part of the struggle between Heaven and Hell, the forces of Good vs the armies of Evil. Ella’s struggles with what she’s doing and why are valid and believable. As her power grows, she thinks she’s come to terms with the price of it, but then she realizes that price is greater than she’s willing to pay. But will she be strong enough to do so anyway?

 

There’s several twists on the tale that’ll keep you involved; it’s like a full-on rendering of the original Brothers Grimm version- you know, with the sisters cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit the glass slipper and whatnot. Often gory and gruesome, this one ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

What’s Bad: Ella’s also a bit of a dunce. The author does a good job of putting you inside Ella’s head and making her feel like a vibrant, three-dimensional character, but too many times in the story she never bothered to question anything or stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She’s got a book of demonology/necromancy in her hands, but never bothers to read any further than what she needs to get what she wants yet always wonders about the dangers of abusing such power… maybe ya ought to flip a few pages ahead and find out???

 

She’s constantly skulking about the house trying to sneak around her new stepmother and siblings trying to learn things, only to bump, bang into or trip over something, leading to another Steve Erkel moment, “…oh, did *I* do that?!?” After a while you can pretty much see when they’re coming up.

 

There’s a few WTF moments in the plot that threaten to derail things. The night Ella’s father disappears he gives her something before he leaves- literally placing it in her hand. Does she look at it right away?- no. When does she look at it? Right after she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night, crawls under the locked main gate, runs all the way through the village to her mother’s grave, calls out to her mother’s spirit, meets a mysterious stranger who protects her from some Things That Go Bump In The Night, and sees her back to the village. Only after she’s safely home again after all that does she actually OPEN HER HAND to see what it was her father gave her. *facepalm*

 

The disappearance of Ella’s father made almost as much sense as all that did. For storytelling purposes he had to be out of the picture, sure, but… his reasons made no sense. It’s the usual “I had to leave to protect you” nonsense, except that he’s the one who created the problem in the first place by marrying Celia and knew full well what was going on, so clearly the best solution was to leave a bunch of people- including his own children- who’ve no idea about any of it at the tender mercies of some seriously malicious individuals and hope for the best. *double facepalm*

 

What’s Left: an entertaining, if flawed, work that you’ll enjoy reading. If all the Fairy Tale Re-imaginings are starting to get stale to you, this one’ll be a bit of fresh air.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Ariella's Escape by Carolee Croft

35609015

 

Ariella had always believed that the life of a warrior should include indulging in wine and men whenever they were on offer… And in Chaldea, the capital of the old empire, they certainly were. … Especially the man she finds in her bedchamber, a slave provided by her hosts to entertain her in any way she wishes.

 

But when betrayed and surrounded by enemies in a strange land, there is only one man she can trust—the slave who was meant only for her pleasure but is much more than he seems.

 

Demetrius had been captured in battle at the age of 15, and slavery was all he had known in his adult life. When his chance for freedom comes along, his fate is bound to the noble warrior maiden whose voice and body he cannot resist. Duty calls him to return to his kingdom, but the journey will take him places that will change him forever.

 

Together, they make their way through a den of thieves and an enchanted elf forest, but the biggest danger of all may be their fiery attraction to each other and the secret that will draw a dividing line between them.

 

***Disclosure: I was provided a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

This was an odd book. It definitely belongs in the Erotica Fantasy Romance category, even though it's not billed as such, which hurts it because if you knew that going in, you wouldn't feel so let down by it all.

 

What's Good: a female protagonist who swings a two-handed sword, rules her own lands and gets to make use of a sex slave while on a diplomatic mission? Heck yeah- I'm in! But that initial encounter at the start of the book is as good as it gets. The reasons behind the assassination attempt were interesting, showing a deeper game than some of the players knew they were involved in. But it needed more development, more to invest you into it.

 

What's Bad: where to start? How about the stilted, overly formal way everyone speaks all the time? All that was missing was a few doses of 'yea, verily' and we'd have Shakespeare.

 

Or the ridiculousness of the sexual situations? Ariella gets to bang Demetrius while visiting the castle- fine. But an innkeeper who wants a live sex show in exchange for room and board... and protecting them from the soldiers chasing them? Not buying it.

 

Or all the @$$ pull magicks that sound like they came from an all-night D&D session? Ariella happens to possess a magic crystal that creates a yellow-brick road that lets ride over the castle walls...? And that she's descended from a line of legendary magical warriors- a lineage she never knew about- so now she's also the Chosen One? Gotta be kidding me.

 

And that Wild Hunt-style thing with the elves... no, none of it made much sense and just felt like page filler. *smdh* The idea behind the prophecy is kinda interesting, but clumsily handled. It reminded me of a 90's anime called X- where two people were destined to be at opposite ends of a prophecy. And no matter which path one of them decided to take the other would have to automatically oppose them. Because reasons. That's pretty much what's going on here.

 

What's Left: what started out as an interesting fantasy adventure with a strong female lead that devolved into some kind of teenage hormone fest that's pretty much off the rails. Not that it can't be salvaged, but I don't see that happening.

 

2.5/5 stars

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapter 12

29749085

 

Chapter 12:

 

Diana and Alia bond over some geeky moments; Di confesses that on the island they’ve been keeping up with the outside world. *funny it’s never explained how, though*

 

Nim- Poornima Chaudhary- arrives.  Plump and wearing open toed laced up boots, a sparkly smock dress, one side of her head shaved and whatever remained falling over one of her eyes, one ear full of studs.  She’s FIERCE!!!  *and a caricature straight from Central Casting* Nim starts going on about Alia’s big adventure… until she catches sight of Diana.

 

Everything’s Ok- Nim’s here to save the day!  Alia said she needed clothes- Nim whips out a measuring tape and they start shopping online, still chatting a mile a minute about anything and everything- including how Alia’s such a jinx and she doesn’t get along with most of Alia’s other friends and they do better on their own.  Diana wonders if Nim gets along with Jason, causing her to wonder if Di’s got a thing for him.  FYI- Nim does; used to steal his dirty t-shirts.

 

Jason comes by with some last minute instructions and to let them know that Theo, their godfather Michael Santos’ son (whom Alia happens to have a thing for), will also be there.

 

The clothes arrive- time to drop in metaphors about armor, etc.  Nim moans about how Alia always chooses the least attractive thing she can get away with, usually in black.  Another bonding moment when Nim shares a story about in prep school for Macbeth both of them and the only other non-white girl were chosen as the three witches.

Alia steps out, all glittery in gold scales, like a warrior wearing armor.  159 pages.

 

*** I’ll take a moment to point out here that while both Jason and Alia are descended from Helen’s line, it’s all been about Alia.  Nothing’s been said about what Jason might be- and no one’s asked. This. Is. Stoopid.***

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapters 9-11

29749085

 

Chapter 9:

 

Uh… I don’t know where to start.  Try the beginning, jerk!  Di interjects with the short version; to Alia’s surprise, Jason doesn’t look so cynical.  How’d you say you know all this again?  It’s a legend among my people.  Who’s your people?  Nevermind that.

Mom & Dad had references to this Warbringer stuff, including haptandrai- from almost every country.  Yeah, so?- they were scientists, after all.  Di asks Alia how she’s so doubtful after all that’s happened.  There’s gotta be an explanation, even if science hasn’t found it yet.  Jason explains that’s what they were looking at- the science of it all.  They traced the Keralis line all the way back to Ancient Greece, every offshoot of Helen’s bloodline, tracking the Warbringers, thinking they could make a difference when Alia’s time came. 

 

What?!?- you believe this?  Look around: soldiers everywhere in the city, bombings, civil wars, stuff’s going on all over the world right now.  **Tell me this don’t sound just like the frakkin’ movie!**

 

You’re saying this is all my fault, I did this?!?   No, but… But it’s because of me?  Yeah, you’re procatalysia= she who comes before the world dissolves.  Alia’s stunned, suddenly remembering all the shocking outbreaks of violence that happened in her life.  Warbringer.  Haptandra.  Precatalysia.  Monster.  Me.

 

Jason, you believe this about me?  Yeah, I do; Mom & Dad were working on this a long time, thinking some good could come out of it.  But you knew people would come to kill me for this.  Yeah, but it’ll be ok; wars come and go, but humanity survives- so will you.  And I’ll be here to protect you, sis.  Diana objects, wanting to get her to the Greek spring.  Never heard anything about some magical spring in Greece- no way.  Wait- you believe I’m causing wars around the world but not in a magical spring that can stop it?  Too risky.  It’s my risk to take.  Nope- I FORBID…  Don’t even go there, bro; we only got one shot at fixing this and we’re gonna take it!  No way- I promised Mom & Dad… Di squares up, daring Jason to stop them.  Alia, you’re a minor; you can’t make these decisions!  Sez the guy who got drunk on eggnog and danced to Turn the Beat Around in our aunt’s wig!

 

We agreed never to mention that again…

 

We have to try!  Mom & Dad would want me to try!  Yeah, they would- ok, then.  We’ll take the company jet.  Hey- you guys got an airplane?  Wow, you really want to get on an airplane, don’t you?  My guys will protect Alia.  No way- I got this!  No way- appreciate the help, but she’s my sister.  I say Diana comes along; she saved my life and kicked your butt.  Fine.

 

Hey, Di… if we don’t make it to the spring in time- promise me you’ll kill me?  129 pages.

 

Chapter 10:

Driver picks them up out back and Diana’s all into that new car smell.  Mmmm… Corinthian leather.  Jason notices this; Alia explains they don’t drive where Diana’s from- practically Amish.  Amish with combat training, more like it.

 

They have to make an appearance at a company gala first- WHAT?!?  It’s for the company: even with their godfather Michael Santos running things, profits have slowed and now that Jason’s of age he needs to do more.  So it’s a show of strength for the board members.  Besides, anyone after Alia thinks she’s dead or at least not in NYC, so by the time word gets out they’ll be long gone, leaving the bad guys looking for them in the city. 

 

Diana objects, and Alia agrees.  Her I understand, you just don’t want to wear a fancy dress.  Plus if it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t even suggest it.  True dat- he’s real uptight.  No- I’m cautious.  Yeah, he seems high strung.  Only because I get jumped by WNBA players in hotels.  Back and forth- more zexy tension between Diana & Jason.

Diana’s first real elevator ride to their penthouse gets her a little claustrophobic.  It’s a penthouse. 

 

Jason only wants an hour for the party, then they fly right out to Greece.  Alia wants to bring her BFF Nim.  While she calls her, Jason steps to Diana, wanting to know who she really is and what she wants.  All I want is to do what’s right- maybe you should stop bullying Alia!  I don’t… All you ever do is tell what to do; maybe try listening for a change.   She’s not ready for the world!  Who’s fault is that?  Stay outta my way or else.  Or else what?  I’ll end you!   Diana laughs in his face; he has no idea what she’s already dealt with just to get here.   **This really reminded me of a scene from the original Thrawn trilogy when Sera threatened Han Solo and he almost laughed in her face as she clearly had no idea what he’d already been through!**

 

What’s so funny?  You- you’re pretty enough, but don’t get carried away.  Pretty enough?  139 pages.

 

Teh zexual tenzion- iz stoopid.

 

Chapter 11:

Nim’s on her way, just don’t mention anything about Warbringers around her.  In their parent’s study, Jason breaks out the Warbringer files for Alia.  **For some dumb reason there’s a clumsy sexual reference about the meaning of Haptandra inserted into the conversation that I won’t even mention.**

 

There’s charts, references and files on every know Warbringer and how long major conflicts lasted in their lives… and that the conflicts ended when their lives did.  But wars still went on without them, right?  But how much worse would they have been if they’d lived?  Nobody should have to bear this burden, Alia. 

 

146 pages.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapter 8

29749085

 

Chapter 8:

 

Dun Dun DUN!!!  Di tells Alia if anything goes wrong, run!  Got it!  Diana kicks the door in, driving it and whomever was trying to open it into the opposite wall.  Diana sizes him up- large male form, broad shouldered, quick reflexes, stronger than she thought.  Di manages to pin him face down, a firm grip on his arm.

 

Alia’s trying to get her attention; Diana’s got everything under control- whomever sent him sent a weakling.  Alia starts laughing- that weakling is my brother.  Really?  Yeah, really.  Now that Diana’s looking at him- same brown complexion, dark liquid eyes, shaved head- the resemblance was striking.  Ok, then.

 

Why’d you attack me?  You attacked me!  Ok, she had- but you’re breaking into our room.  I’m looking for my sister- who the hell are you?  Diana lets him up, and Jason suddenly draws a gun from an ankle holster.   You should’ve searched me first… and Di has disarmed and him up against the wall.

 

Easy- I was just making a point!   Hey- how’d you find us, anyway?  Burner phone in every bug out bag; followed the signal after I checked out the car alarm.  Alia looks embarrassed; guess she knew about the phone.  Di lets go, but pats him down this time, giving us our first brief instance of sexual tension.

 

Bro & Sis hug, then Jason chews Alia out for going missing- it’s been a week!  A week?- hey, when was the last full moon?  Almost a month ago; they had less than a week to make it to the spring.

 

Jason’s berating Alia while Di chimes in that Alia contacted Jason behind her back.  Or at least knew he’d be able to find her and didn’t say anything.  Who the heck are you, again?  I’m Diana, Princess of… Prince, Diana Prince!- yeah, that’s it!  Alia explains about the explosion; Jason’s glad Diana brought her back safely, but she shouldn’t have gone!  All I wanted was a normal life!  We’re not normal and you know it!  We’re targets, we don’t have that luxury.  Di sticks up for Alia; Jason’s had about enough of this girl.

 

Jason wants them to leave but Diana points out that the attack happened after he talked to Alia and told his people where she was.  Crap, you’re right!  Sorry, but it’s not about your family- Alia’s the real target here.  What?  She’s a Warbringer.  How do you know that word?  Hey- how do YOU know that word?  It’s was in Mom & Pop’s papers.  WHAT?!?  119 pages.

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapter 7

29749085

 

Chapter 7:

 

Alia’s feeling more like her old self now that she’s back.  They sneak up to where her brother Jason’s car is parked and Alia explains that being a control freak, he keeps a bug-out duffle bag in the trunk- they just need to get to it.  And this is where Diana comes in. 

 

Diana opens the trunk like the lid of a jar and they’re good.  Alia grabs the wad of cash and a small backpack from inside the duffle bag.  After Di does her best with uncrumpling the trunk, they leave.

 

Alia’s still not sure about all this Warbringer stuff, but then they did just travel halfway across the world in the blink of an eye.  And Diana did just rip open the trunk of a car.

Back on the street there soldiers all over the place- looks like 9/11 all over again.  They stroll into a Duane Reade and after glorifying the wonders of air conditioning head to the chotchkie section.  Diana looking like a fetish model and Alia a grubby black girl with no shoes on.  Nothing to see here.

 

Diana marvels at everything- the glossy brightness of it all, the different shampoos, deodorants, etc.  Alia gets what they need, including an I LOVE NY t-shirt and few other things to make Di stand out less, while Alia tries to explain why they’re standing out so much- which includes her skin color.  Diana’s academically aware of the problem but can’t quite grasp it. 

 

They make their way to a ratty hotel in Alphabet City, near a place where her mother used to take Alia to get her hair done.  After the accident, she almost couldn’t bear to go back but her hair got to a point she needed to do something.  The moment Alia walked in, she broke down and the ladies took care of her without hesitation.

Desk clerk charges them an arm and a leg, but it’ll do for now.  They take turns in the shower; while Diana’s in, Alia tries to slip out but Diana did a number on the doorknob.  So much for trust.

 

Alia finally crashes, only to be awakened by Diana- someone’s at the door!  108 pages.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapters 5&6

 

 

Chapter 5:

Despite the pain, Diana kept working.  Maeve & the others are really sick; Amazons are linked together by blood- even when sparring, they all felt the blows.  If one of them died… Diana didn’t want to think about that.

 

They got the raft together, Diana tying it with the strands from the phantom horse.  Each time she tied off a section it became invisible, protection from being spotted.   Diana thinks they can make it to a place no more than two days out on foot from Therapne.   Or maybe they could do better?  Nope; Alia says she can’t drive- what’s a girl from NYC need to drive for?

 

They get going and Diana still has lingering thought about just letting the island take care of things.  They passed the boundary with barely a ripple and the color’s already coming back to Alia’s cheeks.  They pass through the mists; Diana’s done it- she’s on her first adventure, her first quest- like a True Amazon!  This’ll show everybody she’s worthy!

 

Di takes out the Heartstone, and holds hands with Alia.  There’s no place like Greece… there’s no place like Greece…  The raft starts spinning, like it’s caught in a whirlwind!  The girls hold on for dear life.  Guess the gods were kinda pissed off after all.

 

Suddenly it’s over.   Half the raft is gone, but they’re ok.  Diana did it!- she’s in the World of Men!  The water are still and there’s a plethora of lights off in the distance.  Too many lights, actually- maybe they’re a little off course.  A large gray-green statue holds a torch aloft, like a beacon.  Alia is ecstatic- they’re in NYC!  81 pages.

 

Chapter 6:

Oh, crap!  This is all wrong!  Hey- what the heck did you do?  Me?- you were steering!  The Heartstone was steering, and I was thinking about Greece… and you were thinking about home!  *raise your hand if you saw it coming!*   Blast!- the Heartstone could only be used to leave or return to Themiscyra.  Returning to the island for another shot doesn’t seem like a good idea.  Ok- Improvise.  Adapt.  Overcome.

 

Ok, we’re in New York.   And it’s night.  First thing is get to shore.  No way in HELL are we swimming in the Hudson River!!!  Do you have any idea what…  SPLASH

Despite the situation, Alia makes a few snow angels on the ground once they reach Battery Park.  Diana takes it all in- the size ,the scope, the strangeness…  One thing to read about in books and hear tales, but to see it in person…

 

Time to make plans.  First, we need shoes, hot food and a bath.  No, no contact; the people trying to kill Warbringer think you’re dead and you gotta stay that way.  We need an airplane to get to Greece… That takes money and a passport!  What’s a… Exactly, and even if I agree with all this we still need money and supplies.  Except despite all your sneaking around someone knew you were on that boat and tried to kill you, so you can’t go home yet.  And we still need money, which we can’t get to.  But I have an idea!  First we need to hop a train.

 

Diana experiences a commute for the first time and learns the meaning of ‘personal space’ and  ‘subway stare’.   Two girls who are clearly partied out get on, attracting unwanted male attention, so naturally…

 

Off the subway Diana’s attracting all kinds of looks, as she’s still dressed like Xena.  Alia leads her to a parking garage and explains that Diana’s first trip to NYC will include a little Breaking & Entering.  94 pages.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapter 4

 

 

Chapter 4: (this is a long one)

 

Switching to Alia’s POV: the giantess is back, all built like she sells fitness gear on late night tv or something.

 

She tries to focus, but it’s all still kinda fuzzy.  Why no rescue teams, no EMT, no police?  What’s going on here?  Sorry, the giantess replies, everyone’s dead; you’re the only one who made it.  Can you contact help?  Nope; this place is pretty… isolated- it’s just us.  Who’s us?- this some hippie commune?  Kinda. 

 

Listen, could the explosion have been deliberate?   Uhhh… maybe? (darn it- I was wondering that myself!  Jason’s gonna kill me!)  See, my family’s kind of a big deal and not everybody likes us.  We’re Keralis- you know, the Keralis Foundation, Keralis Labs, Keralis Soaps…

 

Ok, whatever.  (Wait- she doesn’t know who I am?  Weird.)  So why do so many hate you- how many people have your parents killed?  Wtf?- we do research, science!  People get funny ideas about some of the work we do… I should’ve stayed in New York.  So why’d you leave?  Because I just wanted to get away for a little bit, do a scholarship, and I even lied to Jason- my older brother- he’s soooo overprotective.  See, I told him I was going with my BFF Nim to her parent’s place in Istanbul, ditched the bodyguards at the airport and didn’t say anything to him until I was on the boat.  He was so mad- he FORBADE me from going, and I hung up on him. 

 

Pffft- Men!  They’re always trying to control everything… so I hear.  See, my mom’s the same way- around here, I’m the weakling… don’t ask.  You were right to stand up for yourself- grrl powah!  Ya gotta live your life! Yeah, but maybe everybody else would still be alive.  Shut up, mortal- I’m pontificating, don’t interrupt!  Live your dream, pursue your goal, chase the rainbow…  you know any others?  No?  Ok, we’re done for now.  Let’s get moving.   Wait, I thought you said I couldn’t… nevermind, giantess.  What’s the plan?  You have to trust me but first, swear not to tell anyone what you’re gonna see here.  Uhh, sure- I swear on my brother, my friend and my shot at Ivy League.  Mortals… I just know I’m gonna regret this.

 

Giantess hoists Alia onto her back and scales the cliffside.  So, you’re the weakling, eh?  Look who’s talking- you’re so light, you must be calcium deficient.  And flabby.  Well, I prefer to exercise my mind.  Whatever, yo.

 

Maybe we should wait for a ship? Nobody’s gonna find you here, trust me.  What- like the Bermuda Triangle?  Kinda.  Not even Google knows about this place?  Google- is that a god?  (What the heck have I gotten myself into???)

 

Listen, folks come to this island because they don’t want to be found.  And they don’t like outsiders.  What are they- a militia?  Not a bad guess.  Great- a brown girl from NY stuck on an island full of survival nuts.  Where are we going? Need to take you to Therapne, off the southern coast of Greece.  Wait- we were in Istanbul just the other day…???  (Ok, the girl giant is crazy; I’ll play along as long as I have to.)

 

So why we going to South Greece?  Because you’re haptandra- Warbringer.  Sorry- never played that game.  *rim shot*  The Oracle said to take you there to bathe in the springs at Therapne, near Helen of Troy’s tomb before the first day of Hekatombaion to cleanse you of being the Warbringer.  Then you’ll be free.

 

Alia gets her first look at the main city, all glowing stone and everyone looking like they just came from Renfaire.  They make their way to the Armory, natch, and after some lame jokes they get inside and after looking around at all the stuff Alia notices that none of the armor is designed for men.  Wait- where, exactly, are we?  Some feminist cult?  You guys all lesbians?  No!  Really, it’s cool; my BFF Nim is gay… or bi… or trying to figure it out.  Well, around here we like what we like- or don’t.  Why no men?  Long story.  And how were you born here?  Longer story.

 

The giantess opens a case and grabs a crown with a big ruby, a Heartstone- it acts sort of like a compass.  There’s other stuff in there recognizable as WW paraphernalia- an unstrung bow, a quiver, a coil of golden rope, a golden belt set and a pair of wide metal cuffs that suddenly flow like mercury and attach themselves to the giantess’ wrists!  Wtf?!? (I have a concussion, no- I’m in a coma!  That’s it- I’m in a coma in a hospital somewhere!  This can’t be real!)  Giantess thinks maybe it’s a sign she’s doing the right thing and takes the rest of the stuff, too.

 

Well, as long as you’re taking those how ‘bout some weapons?  Nah, that’d be stealing.  So what’s this?  These are my birthright.  More tremors, so they head outside and into the woods.  Alia notices the topography doesn’t make sense- they just went from a dense forest to fields of grass- but what does in a hallucination?  The island is like that, full of gifts- just listen to it for a bit. All I hear is… horses?  Yep; the Phantom Herd!

Giantess makes a lasso, tosses it and when it lands a horse magically appears inside it!  Ok, when a rider is on one of these it makes them invisible, too.  So how can we see it now?  The lasso shows the truth.  Giantess plucks a few strands from the horse’s mane, saying they’re gonna need them, then let the horse free.

 

The island’s still poisoning Alia so she can’t move as fast as Di, and she doesn’t want to be carried again, so they agree to split up and meet on the beach.   Once there, Alia watches Di swimming back to shore dragging something behind her with the rope… it’s the BOAT!!!  Diana dragged the wreck up from the sea!  And she’s the weakling! *Yeah,  doesn’t make sense to me, either*

 

Oddly, Alia is more shook by the condition of the boat, which drives things home for her about being hunted for what she is.  So many people out to get her and her family.  Some still think the car crash that killed her parents was a hit.  She can still remember being in the back seat with Jason, the crash, waking up in the hospital and still smelling the burnt rubber.  Jason with his cheek stitched up, their godfather Michael showing up with his son Theo…  Looking at the wreck gave her the same feeling.

 

Giantess starts dismantling the boat like it’s a lobster dinner, saying they need a craft to get past the boundary… er, the open sea… so they need a raft.  Suddenly Diana doubles over in pain- it’s Maeve!  They have to hurry.  75 pages.

 

A very unimpressive chapter that took way too long and full of mumbo-jumbo.

SPOILER ALERT!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer- Book Flog, Chapter 3

29749085

 

 

Chapter 3: After a quick change and picking up what she hopes will be a suitable offering for the Oracle, Di sets out. The Oracle is known for being able to see deep into an Amazon’s heart and the predictions always come at a steep price. She realizes it’s been hours since she left Alia in the cave and hopes she didn’t try anything. The island is a flurry of activity and the winds have kicked up; one look tells her stealing a ship would be impossible right now- full winds, foreboding skies and too much activity.

 

Approaching the grove where the Oracle resides- which sounds like it’s located on Dagobah- Di recalls stories of Amazons visiting her and going mad. One woman, Clarissa, came out weeping blood, nails bitten down to the quick and to this day sleeps with a lit lantern next to her bed. (betcha never saw that one coming)

 

Di screws up her courage and makes her way through a bunch of snakes, frogs, creepy stuff… until her lantern goes out!!! There’s a figure ahead… it’s Maeve! No, it’s Tek- all old and wrinkly… Nah- the Oracle’s just jerking her chain. Even the Oracle takes a shot at her by calling her ‘daughter of Earth’. (if I was Di, I couldn’t wait to get off this fucking island!) Di produces some of her most personal and prized possessions as offerings, including the arrowhead that killed Hippolyta in mortal life. The Oracle accepts, her face shifting this time to Hippolyta’s from a time when she’d comforted Di after overhearing two Amazons calling her a mud creature or something.

 

The Oracle confirms Alia is the cause of what’s happening, as well as those before her (?). The solution- do nothing. Themiscyra is poisoning Alia as much as she’s contaminating it; soon it’ll kill her and that’ll be that. But can’t both be saved?- look, just let it go. Alia is a haptandra- a hand of war. Gaze into the hookah smoke and see. Just don’t breath too deep- you’re still a minor (ok, that was me).

 

Di gets the standard Horrors of War montage- think Leelo from Fifth Element- which includes all her friends.  Alia is a descendant of Helen of Troy, who was the daughter of Nemesis- the entire bloodline is bad. So long as she lives, shit happens. They’re the cause of all the Great Big Bad Stuff in the world (which kinda contradicts how inherently bad mortals are supposed to be, but still). Alia’s gonna mature by the next new moon, so the best way to fix things is for her to die before then. So the boat explosion wasn’t an accident. You catch on fast, princess. Wait- you said ‘best way’… but not ‘only way’- you Oracles always think you’re so damn smart! So what gives?

 

Listen kid- how ‘bout I tell you if everyone’s right about you or not? Are you gonna be a winner or a loser? Wanna know if you’ll be Queen of the Amazons one day? Wait- you can do that? Well, now that you mention it… Nah, screw it- I’d rather you tell me how to save everybody, including Alia.

 

Kids, these days- I swear… Like you weren’t ever a teenager once? Watch your mouth, training bra!

 

*sigh*  Take her to MacGuffin A which is next to Chekov’s Gun which holds MacGuffin B. Make sure not to step on Schrodinger’s Cat’s when you get there. And watch out for Occam’s Razor- it’s sharp. Dafuq?!? You mean I have to leave the island? Yep; it’s called adventure, being a hero, all that jazz. The rest will all make sense when and if you get there. Now go away kid, ya bother me. And don’t worry- for some strange reason I’ll keep my mouth shut when your mom comes ‘round. 46 pages.

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog: Wonder Woman- Warbringer, Chapter 2

 

 

Chapter 2:

On the way back home Diana hears the horns sounding the end of the race- she’s lost!  Not only that, she’s the last to return!  Rani, a runner when she was mortal, naturally won- again!  Wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t such a sweetheart.

 

Tek teases Diana, still calling her Pyxis; Diana recalls her mother’s lessons about always holding your head high.  Tek gets some backup from a few others; Diana gets a few shots of her own in, so it’s all good.  But it didn’t change that many feel Diana wasn’t truly worthy to be an Amazon, not having earned her place here.

 

Even with being distracted by how to deal with Alia, the evening continues.  Hippolyta & Tek sat together, snapping at each other like only BFFs can.  They were first among the Amazons, the first to turn away from the World of Men.  Diana recalls one night as a child overhearing the two of them arguing about her- her nature, what price the gods might demand in return for her... Tek had chastised Hippolyta for deciding to do this; Hippolyta counters that Di belongs to all of them.  Tek calls BS; she made the choice and they’ll all end up paying the price.

 

Rani and a few others decide to race each other, breaking up the festivities.  Di and Maeve slip away to talk for a moment when Maeve suddenly sways and falls over, burning up with fever.  Diana feels it too; all Amazons are connected by blood- some type of sympathetic magic. (?)  But how- Amazons don’t get sick!

 

As they seek help for Maeve, everything seems to shift and shake- it’s an earthquake!  Here?!?  Tek goes to find the queen, leaving Diana to wonder if any of this could be connected to Alia’s presence.  In the entire history of Themiscyra, only twice had anyone dared to bring a mortal to the island.  The first was Kahina, who saved a child from death on a battlefield and wanted to keep her, only for both to be exiled.  The second was Nessa, who’d tried to sneak her mortal lover onto the island by ship.  Di recalls the story of Nessa’s downfall- stripped of her armor as the land shook and the winds howled, so angered was the island, so angered were the gods.  One by one the Amazons turned their backs on her as Nessa passed into the mists, back to the World of Men.

 

Diana finds Tek with Hippolyta, who’s sending runners out to warn everyone.  More Amazons have fallen sick and Hipp wonders if it’s only affecting all the younger ones.  Tek casts a glance at Diana and says no.  Hipp decides they need to visit the Oracle.  The Oracle always demanded a sacrifice of some type, and if she didn’t like what was offered…

 

Tek goes to light signal fires and Hipp tells Diana to help her with her hair; the queen must appear regal at all times.  Diana decides to confess about Alia; the Oracle would know anyway and could have repercussions for her mother’s rule.  Hippolyta thinks she was going to mention to race, and offers a few soothing words- plus she didn’t think Di would’ve won, anyway.  That stings, especially since she would’ve won if not for Alia.

 

Alia.

 

Hippolyta leaves and Diana, princess of Themiscyra, decides to consult the Oracle on her own. 32 pgs.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Flog: Wonder Woman- Warbringer

Been meaning to do this for a while now. Picked up a copy at the BEA back in May, excited to read it, sailing along at an good pace... and then the shit pissed me off. Still haven't finished it yet, so this'll lead me into my review when it comes out next week. FYI: this isn't a tie-in with the DCU movies. It's a YA prequel in line with the classic comics version of Diana being shaped from clay and brought to life. Feel free to comment as you like.

 

 

29749085

 

Chapter 1: “You do not enter a race to lose”.

 

Pithy words of advice from Hippolyta to Diana just before the start of the big footrace during the Nemesian Games. Diana’s starting to come into her own; friends and rivals also are competing- you know the drill. Tekmessa, aka Tek, the queen’s right hand advisor, teases Diana by calling her Pyxis- a clay pot used to store makeup- as a reminder of Diana’s origins. Unlike the other Amazons, Di wasn’t granted immortality by calling out to the various goddesses upon her death and whisked away Valkyrie-style, but that she’s Hippolyta’s wish made real. Whatever… Di’s not gonna lose today- she’s got a plan! She and her BFF Maeve mapped out the course and even spied- well , not exactly spied… she’s scouted- the competition, and knows what she needs to do. Themiscyra has an unusual topography; a blend of different climes and terrains from all over the world, all the various places the women come from. The island seeks to please, it’s said. Diana knows it like the back of her hand. This time she’ll win!

 

Running along the coastline, Di spots a ship along the horizon, near the boundary- a schooner, maybe? So many different types of ships have developed through the years, hard to keep track of them all. She and Maeve had often tried to name all the ships and planes they saw, always keeping just clear of the island because their instruments and compasses would suddenly stop functioning properly.

 

The sound of an explosion reaches her and Di can see the schooner’s on fire! Shipwrecks were common enough along the rocks, helping to protect the secret of the island, a necessary evil… …until she hears the cry. It was a gull- yeah, that’s it. No, it’s not… but how could a human cry carry so far?

 

She’s got the lead, she’s ahead in the race- it’ll just be for a second, a quick look. No lifeboats or anything, doesn’t look like there’s even any survivors. Still got time; she can make it back to her route and still win the race. Turning around, she takes one more look back… And you know what they say about looking back. It’s the challenge, she tells herself. She wants to see if she could survive the dive off the cliff, like a true Amazon. Because even if there’s survivors, she knows she’s forbidden from helping them.

 

She feels the temperature of the water change, signaling the nearness of the boundary. She & Maeve always swam out here, testing themselves. Once a ship had seen them and Maeve joked they could be like sirens, luring sailors to their doom. Among the wreckage of the ship she sees a girl, bobbing facedown. The whole time swimming back to the shore her mind is screaming about the folly she’s committing. Better to just let go of the girl, let her slip beneath the waves…

 

On the beach, Di attempts CPR and almost doesn’t when the girl’s ribs bend on her first attempt! What are these mortals made of- balsa wood? Second attempt goes better; the girl lives. And she’s on the island. The girl asks about others- no, no one else survived. The human is brown skinned, with a mass of braids. Diana remembers they need to get out of sight; the mortal’s having some trouble even sitting upright. Diana tries to remember what her tutors taught her about mortals: body temperature, eating habits, war, pollution, bad grammar…

 

Di tells her to get on her back so she can take them up the cliffs. Soon as they take off the girl’s ready to vomit. Diana’s read about that. Not good. The cliffside is dotted with caves, including one Di & Maeve liked to hang out in and stocked with a few items- blankets, snacks, etc. The girl, Alia, is worried, wants to call the police, look for her friends. Diana discourages that line of thought. Diana knows she’ll be noticed missing; Alia doesn’t want her to leave, but Di promises to return. 17 pgs.

Review: The Wayward Astronomer by Geoffrey Thomas

34644108

 

Hal Adhil and Miri Rodgers are best friends. They spend their days working at a small observatory in the Starfall Mountains beyond the metropolis of Anduruna. Miri is the only person Hal trusts to understand a dangerous secret: Hal can see all wavelengths of light. Hal uses his superpower only when they are free from prying eyes that could report them to the authorities.

 

The lives of Hal and Miri quickly change one night, however, when a meteor crashes into the nearby mountains. When they set out to retrieve the fallen star, it quickly becomes apparent that things are not what they seem. What appeared to be an ordinary meteor is in fact a strange power source that Hal and Miri are not the only ones looking for. In order to rescue his closest companion, Hal must not only unravel a mystery that has eluded his people for ages, but also face unsavory characters from his own past. Can Hal, the Wayward Astronomer, harness his supernatural powers to rescue his friend before time runs out?

-read more-

Purple Heart Day: Military Romance Boxed Sets by Leslie North

Make sure not to miss Leslie North’s Massive Military Romance Sale on August 7th only!

All of her Military Romance boxsets will be $0.99 (a 70%+ Discount)!

PLUS: 100% of revenue will go to the Wounded Warriors Project.

All boxed set details and links can be found here!

 

Author Bio: Leslie North is the pen name for a critically-acclaimed author of women's contemporary romance and fiction. The anonymity gives her the perfect opportunity to paint with her full artistic palette, especially in the romance and erotic fantasy genres. The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren't afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east. Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie. She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don't hesitate to contact her via e-mail: leslie@leslienorthbooks.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

GIVEAWAY! a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Review: Royal Replicas by Michael Pierce

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

 

8fc24-royalreplicas2b-2bebookcover_hi-res

 

Synopsis: "Princess Amelia is dead... and one of you will replace her."

 

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Sandalwood has served the Duke and Duchess all her life. Over the years, she’s learned to make due with what she has and endure her surrogate father’s awful punishments. She dreams of escape, but never expected it to come in the form of a message from the Queen of Westeria. Victoria learns that she’s the Queen’s daughter, the younger sister to Princess Amelia, and it’s time to come home and claim her birthright.

 

When she arrives, she discovers she’s not the only one who received the royal message. Victoria must compete with six other girls to earn the affection of both the Queen and a princely suitor… and to replace the secretly deceased Princess Amelia. If she fails to win the crown, Victoria may just have to fight for her life…

 

Royal Replicas is the first book in a YA dystopian series. If you enjoy courtly intrigue, heart-pounding adventure, and sweet romance, then you’ll love this captivating story. Perfect for fans of Kiera Cass, Bella Forrest, and Veronica Roth.

 

-read more-

The New BookExpoAmerica Immigration... er, Vetting Process- yeah, That's What I Meant

With this year's BEA returning to New York- where it should stay- I went to the site to secure my place in these three days of literary nirvana.  My euphoria was short lived when I ran into what can only be described as applying for papers to enter East Germany. Now I know there's been issues in the past of knuckleheads and lowlifes using the BEA to load up on freebies and pawn them off on eBay and all, so I've no problem with them taking steps to curb that bullshit.  I get it.  But...

 

 

Dafuq, y'all? 

 

Who came up with this shit- Homeland Security?!?  My first thought upon seeing all this was "but I already live in the US!!!"  I work in the Security fieldand I've had less stringent job applications than this! 

 

So now I'm actually sitting her crafting responses to this nonsense, because it's already to the point of morbid curiousity just to see if I get clearance... I mean, approved- nah, fuck it- clearance!- to attend the damn thing. 

 

Unbelievable.

Is This Thing On?

Well- looks like the place is up and running again... Guess I've got some catching up to do.

 

Kinda upset with BookExpoAmerica (BEA). They're back in NYC this year and when I went to check the page about registering, there were some changes.

 

The big one is you have to APPLY before you can even register.  You have to be vetted before you can even give them your hard-earned money!  I guess this is a measure to keep out the "riff raff".  It's always been open to the public, but the last few years have seen a bunch of issue crop up so I guess this is their way of being proactive.  It's like the BEA was a rider attached to Trump's Muslim Ban...

 

 

And the prices have pretty much doubled.  A 3-day pass used to be in the $150-$175 range, as you can seen it's now $300!  $400 if you register "late" or onsite during the expo.  They've kept prices the same for industry professionals, tho.

 

Looks like I'm gonna be putting in lotsa OT this month.

 

Nice to be back 'round these parts.