GreyWarden

Review: The Retreat (After Trilogy #1) by Kelly St. Clare

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Earth is ruined. Humankind destroyed. And it’s old news.

 

Romy’s life is simple—for a genetically enhanced space soldier; pick up space junk with her four friends, and stave off the invaders fixated on stealing Planet Earth.

 

It isn’t much. But it’s temporary—only another 850 years to go, give or take.

 

When her crew tangles with a gulp-worthy alien mothership, Romy’s return to Earth is brought forwards at hurtling pace.

 

Strength comes from the unlikeliest of quarters.

 

As does leadership.

 

…As does betrayal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

What’s Good: a well-paced read that can keep you turning the pages.  The premise is intriguing, even knowing the hammer’s gonna fall.  Once stranded upon Earth, things change in more ways than Romy and her friends could’ve imagined.  Despite all the teen drama & angst that dominates the book it never gets too bogged down by it.

 

Dialogue, while usually stilted, is often funny.  Houston, a medical doctor, is a walking rifftrack- always with a quip or one-liner, even at the wrong moment.  He needs more page time.

 

The plot, while nothing new, has a few wrinkles to it that’ll hold your interest.  Threads are woven together pretty nicely and there’s not a lot of wasted pages.

 

What’s Bad: the usual.  Main character Rosemary, aka Romy, is pretty much the Chosen One, evidenced by her nickname (instead of Rose or Rosie).  Except for one or two exceptions nearly every character is straight from Central Casting including Atlas- the mysterious, enigmatic leading man who leads the encampment and, of course, falls completely in love with Romy after about two weeks.

 

Despite the new wrinkles it’s still a YA novel and quickly falls back into the same old same old, so what felt kinda fresh becomes stale.

 

There’s also not enough about the Critamal- the aliens that humanity is fighting.  Once the crew is stranded on Earth the focus naturally shifts, but the alien invaders are all but forgotten, and not a whole lot was supplied about them to begin with.

 

Being a YA novel, there has to be artifical drama that makes no sense.  Romy & her crew are super-soldiers: enhanced reflexes & strength, nanobots in their bloodstream, etc.  Yet when faced with the threat of sexual assault suddenly Romy has no skills whatsoever, let alone presence of mind to simply punch him in the jaw and let someone know what’s happened.  Or at least level a few threats of her own.  Granted, this scene was groundwork for later developments, but it still didn’t make any sense.

 

What’s Left: an interesting arc that needs to get out of its own way.  Less reliance on the YA cliches and tropes and tell the story.

 

3/5 stars.

Amazon's Kindle Scout Program

Anyone familiar with this?  How's it working out so far?

 

Kindle Scout

 

With Kindle Scout, you can read excerpts from unpublished manuscripts and nominate your favorites to be published to Kindle. If a book you nominated gets published, you will receive a Kindle copy of that book for free.

 

To get started with Kindle Scout: Visit kindlescout.amazon.com. If you are not signed in, click "Hello. Sign In." in the upper right corner and enter your Amazon account information.

 

  1. Read excerpts of the available Kindle Scout books and nominate your favorites to be published by clicking Nominate Me. You can nominate up to three books at a time.

 

Each book’s detail page displays how many days are left in the book’s campaign. When the campaign is over for a book you nominated, you’ll be notified via e-mail whether the title was selected to be published.

 

You will receive a free copy of the Kindle book if a title you nominated is published.

Review: Fish Wielder by Jim Hardison

 

 

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

 

I almost don’t even know where to start.

 

This is simply one of the best satirical novels you’ll ever read.  It’s Python-esquely witty, meticulously referenced, surprisingly poignant, tightly plotted, sublimely ridiculous, damned stupid and you’ll enjoy every page of it.   Especially if you like pudding.  You’d better like pudding, because it’s everywhere in this thing.

 

“We are enemies of old, and I am sworn to an older swear than the swear I swore when I swore to the elves.”

 

Our hero, Thoral Fist Wielder, is everything you’d expect and more.  And less.  And something in between.  Tall, blond, muscular, speaks loudly and carries a big sword.  Knows lots of words and doesn’t know lots more.   Really likes being clean.  Surprised?- you’ll discover there’s a good reason for it.  His sidekick, Brad, is a talking, ambulatory Koi fish who can’t swim- you’ll notice him on the cover.  Also on the cover is a dark haired elven beauty.  Her name’s Nalweegie- which in Elvish means “the Evening Snack”, because to look on her in twilight quells the hunger of one’s heart without making one feel overfull, as can happen with a more substantial meal. 

 

And did I mention Thoral’s trusty steed named Warlordhorse?

 

Hardison’s style is pretty funny, if a little verbose.  Hardison delivers the most overstuffed, flowery, convoluted, so-purple-Prince-would’ve-sued-him prose you’ll ever read.   And that’s without even mentioning the color of Thoral’s eyes.  The man knows his stuff; you may not laugh out loud at everything but you’ll definitely be amused- even bemused from time to time.  Don’t worry; it’ll all sort itself out.  This guy’s a master of turning a phrase… on its ear. 

 

“Thoral swung Blurmflard, whistling through the air, the pink fire of its magic glow flaming to light, and the priest’s head left his shoulders with such force that it smashed an onrushing brother in the face so hard that it killed him, the guy behind him and the guy behind him.  The brother behind those three got a concussion and the guy behind him got a bloody nose.”

 

Believe it or not, there’s an actual plot going on here.  This isn’t some slapped together slapstick; there’s something sinister going on here, and even though you may lose sight of it amidst all the sporking and send-ups, Hardison never does.  It involves an evil sorcerer, of course, a powerful magic spell, a prophecy and the leader of the Bad Religion.  When you least expect it the plot rears its head to remind you what’s at stake, and the threads are very neatly woven together within the foolishness.  There truly is a method to all the madness.  And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, when you’re just along for the ride- he yanks the carpet out from under you.  There’s twists and turns to this story you’ll never see coming, especially in the finale.  And you’ll be hungry for more. 

 

“One does not simply walk into Flurge… it is a terrifying, dangerous, dread place, crowded with the twisted spirits of the dead and overrun by monsters… It drips with darkness like a burlap bag full of black paint.  The very air is a smelly fume…”

 

(If you don’t recognize that quote, don’t even bother picking up this book)

 

Lovecraft, Robert Howard, Lewis Carroll, Michael Moorcock, Tolkien, Fritz Leiber- none are spared from the rapier wit of Jim Hardison.  He pays homage to the masters of Fantasy by roasting their chestnuts over an open fire.   And you’ll love every moment of it.

 

 

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Guest Post: Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords by Jim Hardison, author of Fish Wielder

[caption id="attachment_12998" align="alignnone" width="5200"]KM_284e-20160815162841 Blurmflard- Thoral's Unbelievably Magical Sword... trust me, this thing is wicked cool![/caption]  

 

Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords He took out his sword again and it flashed in the dark by itself. It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave. —J.R.R. Tolkien  

 

Ever since I first read those words about Glamdring the Foe-Hammer in The Hobbit, back when I was about ten years old, I’ve been in love with magic swords. Since then, every time I’ve come across one in the pages of a fantasy novel, I’ve compared it with those excellent blades, Glamdring, Orcist and Sting that Bilbo and his companions recovered from the Troll cave in the chapter Roast Mutton.  For your reading pleasure, and with a few, hopefully minor spoilers, here’s a list of seven superbly ensorcelled swords that I had in mind when crafting the magic sword Blurmflard for my epically silly epic fantasy novel, Fish Wielder.  

 

  1. The Barrow Blade of Westernesse: This is the blade Meriadoc, the hobbit, uses to stab the Witch King of Angmar in the back of the knee in L.O.T.R. I’m starting with this blade because it doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. Yes, Éowyn delivered the killing blow, but her strike wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference if Merry hadn’t stabbed the Witch King first. Tolkien clearly states, “No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.” I was very upset when the whole Barrow-Downs scene was left out of the movies—and consequently the finding of the excellent magic Barrow swords never happened. Without that ensorcelled sword and Merry’s blow, the whole War of the Ring might have ended differently.

 

  1. Dyrnwyn: While we’re on barrow swords, my favorite is the flaming sword discovered by Taran and Eilonwy in the barrow under Spiral Castle in The Book of Three, the first book of the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Removing Dyrnwyn from the tomb destroyed the entire castle. The black blade had jewels studding its hilt and pommel, and an inscription was entwined around the hilt and scabbard (much of which had been scratched away) but which read, "Draw Dyrnwyn, only those of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the lord of death." The blade was the most powerful in Prydain and when drawn, glowed with fire. It would, however, kill anyone unworthy who tried to draw it. So, there’s that.

 

  1. Excalibur (Caliburn/Caledfwlch): And while we’re on swords that can only be drawn by a chosen few, what list of magic blades would be complete without Excalibur? Actually, there’s pretty solid agreement amongst experts on magic swords that Excalibur was not the sword from the stone, as Arthur was actually given Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake. You can read about Excalibur in literally tons of books, but I personally recommend Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger.
  2. According to legend, Excalibur's blade was engraved on one side with, "Take me up" and on the other with, "Cast me away". Its flashing metal could blind the wielder’s enemies and its scabbard prevented the wearer’s wounds from bleeding. It was supposedly able to cut through iron like it was wood and conferred the holy right to rule on whoever could draw it (not a bad deal, if you can get it). The Excalibur legend was based on a blade from Welsh myth called Caledfwlch which is a compound of the Welsh words caled "hard" and bwlch "cleft" or “breach”. Don’t ask me how that got translated into Excalibur. I’m a sword enthusiast, not a linguist.

 

  1. Caladbolg: As long as we’re kicking around legendary Welsh blades (figuratively! Never kick a sword!), let’s not forget Ireland and the two-handed sword of Fergus mac Róich. When swung, it was said to make a circle like an arc of rainbows, and to have the power to cleave the tops from the hills. Some people have suggested that Caledfwlch and Caladbolg were the same blade, but I don’t believe that for a second. You should read about this sword in The Táin translated by Thomas Kinsella.

 

  1. The Vorpal Blade: This is one of my favorites, although probably the most mysterious of the magic swords. It is mentioned in the poem Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and is used to slay the mighty Jabberwock. There’s really very little detail about it except this:

“One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.” So, apart from being able to chop off the head of a Jabberwock, it also clearly invented the Snickers bar as a tasty snack. Tons of people have borrowed the Vorpal blade for other stories, as in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline  

 

  1. Stormbringer: Another black blade, but unlike Dyrnwyn, this one is as evil as they come. Stormbringer is actually a demon that has taken the form of a sword. Its edge can cut through pretty much anything not protected by powerful magic, and it has the nasty habit of drinking the soul from whomever it wounds, even if it just scratches them. Its wielder, Elric, loathes the sword but he’s such a wimp on his own that he wouldn’t survive long without it. Unfortunately, the sword has a mind of its own and it’s an evil jerk. It often betrays Elric by blinding him with bloodlust so that he accidentally kills his lovers and friends. You can read all about this wicked, wicked blade in Elric of Melniboné (and its sequels) by Michael Moorcock.

 

  1. Anaklusmos (Riptide): There are so many great swords from fantasy fiction that it’s hard to end this with only one more, but I’ll finish up with Anaklusmos from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series because my older daughter would kill me if I left this one out. Anaklusmos was originally the sword of Heracles (that’s Hercules for you Romans out there), given to him by a daughter of the god Atlas.
  2. The sword is made of celestial bronze, which means it can harm gods, demigods and monsters, but will just pass through mortal flesh without damaging it. Anaklusmos also has the power to change shape, so that when it’s not in use, it appears as a ballpoint pen (although whether the pen is mightier than the sword, I can’t say). It also magically reappears in Percy’s pocket whenever it’s lost—which is really handy. The sword was given to Percy by Chiron the centaur, on the instructions of the god Poseidon. Read the books to find out why.

 

30168029   2893010 Fish Wielder is J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's first novel novel (He wrote a graphic novel, The Helm, for Dark Horse Comics). Jim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and film director. He started his professional career by producing a low-budget direct-to-video feature film, The Creature From Lake Michigan. Making a bad movie can be a crash course in the essential elements of good character and story, and The Creature From Lake Michigan was a tremendously bad movie. Shifting his focus entirely to animation, Jim joined Will Vinton Studios where he directed animated commercials for M&M’s and on the stop-motion TV series Gary and Mike. While working at Vinton, he also co-wrote the television special Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy with actor Paul Reiser. Jim has appeared on NBC's The Apprentice as an expert advisor on brand characters, developed characters and wrote the pilot episode for the PBS children's television series SeeMore's Playhouse and authored the previously mentioned graphic novel, The Helm, named one of 2010's top ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, a branch of the American Library Association. These days, Jim is the creative director and co-owner of Character LLC, a company that does story-analysis for brands and entertainment properties. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife, two amazing kids, one smart dog and one stupid dog.  

Water Tossing Boulders

Just picked this one up via Amazon Vine.  Can't wait to get into it.

 

 

Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South.

 

A generation before Brown v. Board of Education struck down America s separate but equal doctrine, one Chinese family and an eccentric Mississippi lawyer fought for desegregation in one of the greatest legal battles never told.


On September 15, 1924, Martha Lum and her older sister Berda were barred from attending middle school in Rosedale, Mississippi. The girls were Chinese American and considered by the school to be colored; the school was for whites. This event would lead to the first US Supreme Court case to challenge the constitutionality of racial segregation in Southern public schools, thirty years before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. In this case confronting the separate but equal doctrine, the Lum family, along with an eccentric Mississippi lawyer, fought for the right to educate Chinese Americans in the white schools of the Jim Crow South.

 

Through extensive research in historical documents and family correspondence, Berard illuminates a vital, hidden chapter of America s past and uncovers the powerful journey of an oppressed people in their struggle for equality."

Reading Progress: 14%- Blood & Magic

 
Magic didn't just find Luke Caulfield. It chased him down, bludgeoned him, and has been dogging him ever since. Some lessons are harder than others, but Luke embraces danger, upping the ante to give it one better.
 
An enforcer for the Coven, a large, established group of witches, his latest assignment is playing bodyguard to the daughter of Coven leaders. Abigail Ruskin is chaperoning a spoiled twelve-year-old from New York to her parents' home in Utah Territory when Luke gets on their stagecoach in Colorado.
 
A powerful witch herself, Abigail senses Luke's magic, but has no idea what he's doing on her stagecoach. Stuck between the petulant child and Luke's raw sexual energy, Abigail can't wait for the trip to end. Unpleasant truths surface about the child. While Abigail's struggling with those, wraiths, wolves, and dark mages launch an attack. Luke's so attracted to Abigail, she's almost all he can think about, but he's leery too.
 
The child is just plain evil. Is Abigail in league with her? It might explain the odd attack that took out their driver and one of their horses. In over his head, he summons enforcer backup. Will they help him save the woman he's falling in love with, or demand her immediate execution?
-read more-

Now Arriving on the New York Subway: Free E-Books, Timed for Your Commute

(reblogged from NY Times)

 

The author Harlan Coben used Subway Reads, a program that lets riders download novellas, short stories or excerpts from full-length books published by Penguin Random House. Mr. Coben showed Subway Reads to Rainier Velardo, right, a retired Sanitation Department employee.
 

Rainier Velardo watched the basketball-player-tall man in the blue shirt who sat down next to him — the man had gotten on at the last subway stop, West Fourth Street in Manhattan, and this was an F train going to Brooklyn. Mr. Velardo watched the man tap the screen of an iPad. He heard the man chuckle and say: “You’d think I would know this. I wrote it.” And then, with even more of a chuckle, “Didn’t see that twist coming.”

Mr. Velardo, 66, perked up at what the man said next: “Actually, it’s a big enough font. I can read it without my glasses.”

 

The man in the light blue shirt was Harlan Coben, the prolific, best-selling author whose fans really do not see the plot twists coming. He writes mysteries and thrillers — page-turners, some people might call them. But that term seems to have been forgotten in the universe of cellphones and tablets. “Page-swipers” conveys the notion of motion — the reader’s finger gliding on a glowing screen — but as a locution, it will never catch on.

 

And here on the F train, he was in the digital universe, trying out something called Subway Reads, a web platform that can be reached from a subway platform.

On Sunday, Subway Reads started delivering novellas, short stories or excerpts from full-length books to passengers’ cellphones or tablets. The idea is for riders to download a short story or a chapter and read it on the train. Subway Reads will even let riders choose what to read based on how long they will be on the subway — a 10-page selection for a 10-minute ride, a 20-page selection for a 20-minute excursion, a 30-page selection for a 30-minute trip. Delays not included.

 

“I would like to do it,” said Mr. Velardo, a retired Sanitation Department employee who was on his way to a bottle distribution center in Brooklyn.

 

He can, for eight weeks. Subway Reads will last longer than a summer romance, but not much longer. It was intended to promote something that will not disappear, something that transit officials see as a milestone in the digital age: Wi-Fi service in 175 underground stations.

Transit officials approached Penguin Random House, the publishing colossus with more than 250 imprints, because it had run a similar e-book promotion in the London Underground last year, celebrating Penguin’s 80th anniversary. Transit officials said they were open to other platforms from publishers, and platforms for more than books — anything to draw passengers to the Wi-Fi service.

 

But there is a difference between the e-books on Penguin Random House’s own website and the 175 selections on Subway Reads. The ones on Subway Reads will be free.

 

“When e-books first came out, everyone thought they’d replace the book,” Mr. Coben said. “As a writer, I don’t care if you read me on stone tablets, as long as you read me. If you give me 10 minutes and don’t like it, fine; I’m not for you.”

 

But he made a prediction: “Try it. I’m going to get you after 10 pages.” (He apparently got Bill Clinton, at least once. After the former president had heart surgery in 2004, a photographer caught him carrying a copy of Mr. Coben’s novel “No Second Chance.”)

Subway Reads may turn out to be another way to reach the younger, mobile-savvy readers that publishers worry about, and the idea of timing selections to the length of a trip may appeal to people who know exactly how long their commutes take. And no, Subway Reads will not force slow readers to skip over the good stuff. If someone does not finish a 10-minute selection in 10 minutes, it will not disappear.

 

Subway Reads is offering five novellas or short stories, what Penguin Random House calls e-shorts. Three are by contemporary writers: “High Heat” by Lee Child, “3 Truths and a Lie” by Lisa Gardner, and “At the Reunion Buffet” by Alexander McCall Smith. Two are classics: “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe. There are also dozens of excerpts from books, fiction and nonfiction.

 

The e-shorts come with pull quotes in the text, for easy sharing. Readers can tap a Twitter symbol above the quote, and it will go out on their Twitter feed. A Penguin Random House marketing official showed Mr. Coben one of the quotes while they were waiting for the F train at West Fourth Street.

 

I’m underground, he thought. I’m underground.

And then he started to scream.

 

“This is a really creepy quote,” Mr. Coben said.

 

Read the rest of the article here.

Cover Reveal: In the Beginning

 
Today Month9Books is revealing the cover and some excerpts for their Charity Anthology IN THE BEGINNING! Which releases October 25, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!
 
On to the reveal!

 

 
Title: IN THE BEGINNING: Dark Retellings of Biblical Tales
Editors: Laureen P. Cantwell and Georgia McBride
Author: Stephen Clements, Nicole Crucial, Mike Hays, Sharon Hughson, Marti Johnson, Elle O'Neill, Lora Palmer, & Christina Raus
Pub. Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N |Goodreads
 
In the Beginning (Oct. 25, 2016) –Eight authors come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books.
 
IN THE BEGINNING, edited by Laureen Cantwell and Georgia McBride
 
Daniel and the Dragon by Stephen Clements
A troubled orphan named Habakkuk dutifully follows his master, the prophet Daniel, into temples of blood-thirsty demon-gods, battles with unspeakable horrors, and bears witnesses to mind-breaking evil until his master's zealous defiance of the king's law seals their fate.
 
Babylon by Nicole Crucial
Far above the earth, in Second Eden, where moments and eternities all blur together, young Babylon befriends Sefer, the Book of Life. As Babylon awaits the moment she'll fulfill her destiny, she and Sefer try to understand the world in which they live.
 
Last Will and Testament by Mike Hays
A homeless young boy, Baz, bears the weight of humanity on his shoulders and upon his body. When dark forces test a new-found friendship, Baz’s willingness to bear the ugliness of their world will be shaken. 
 
The Demon Was Me by Sharon Hughson
Based on the story of the demon-possessed boy healed by Jesus, this tale provides a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where a teenage boy seeks to journey to a better land and yearns to discover the kind of man he's meant to be, only to be hijacked by an evil spirit intent upon chipping away at the hope, faith, and resilience of its host.
 
The Deluge by Marti Johnson
A non-believer shares the story of Noah’s ark-building and the deadly downpour that follows. Fear, faithlessness, and the fallibility of mankind collide in a community where second chances aren’t unlimited and a better-late-than-never attitude just might be your doom.
 
Condemned by Elle O'Neill
Just sixteen-years-old, Barabbas finds himself pulled out of Routlege Academy and into a reality show competition—against Jesus himself—where the reward for the winner is life.
 
First Wife by Lora Palmer
In a first-person retelling of the saga of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, themes of family, deception, guilt, and heartache emerge amidst the first days of Leah’s marriage to Jacob—a marriage mired in trickery a mere week before Jacob was to marry Leah's sister Rachel.
 
Emmaculate by Christina Raus
Based on the story of Mary's Immaculate Conception, we enter the troubled mind of Emma, who finds herself torn between her religious upbringing and the purity ring that binds her to her boyfriend and the pregnancy that results from her relationship with another boy.
 
Anthology Excerpts:
 
From THE DEMON WAS ME, by Sharon Hughson:
 
The ghastly black fog overtook me. Icicles pierced my back. Every muscle in my body spasmed. I plunged face-first against the ground. Something sharp gouged my cheek. Shivery tingles pervaded my insides. A vile presence pressed against my mind.
            
“Get out!” I rolled to my back, arms outstretched. I wanted to fight, throw the intruder off me. But how can you resist something as ethereal as air?
            
Laughter rang in my ears. Sinister. It shuddered against my soul. Terror and hopelessness collided in my chest. A foreign power clutched at my mind.
            
I screamed. I rolled to my side and squeezed my eyes shut. If only I could disappear.
            
Another dark wave of laughter echoed through my skull. Convulsions gripped me.
Against my will, my limbs flailed in every direction. A spike pressed into my mind. I cradled my throbbing head. My body, a tumbleweed in the wind, spun on the ground.
 
 
From BABYLON, by Nicole Crucial:
 
Only those will enter Heaven whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
 
These were the first words I heard, in the beginning of time.
 
But Sefer, the protest comes, Revelation wasn’t written until the first century.
 
My answer is that time is a funny little plaything to God, or so I imagine. That first sentence was the wind that breathed life into my chest, the binding of my pages, the ink in my soul. It knitted together my stardust-atoms from across centuries and millennia and planes of existence.
 
And when the first dregs of consciousness swirled at the pit-bottom of my spine, I yawned and opened my eyes to paradise.
 
 
From CONDEMNED, by Elle O’Neill:
 
To his surprise, as he heard the metal door grind to a stop, there was a popping sound, like the flash-lamp did when they experimented in Classic Photography at Routlege. Except no camera appeared—not that he could see anyway—but rather a digital time clock, bold red numbers, already beginning their descent, in striking relief against the black paint covering the walls.
 
29:48:12.
 
29:48:11.
 
Of course they would include the fractions of a second, he thought. He was now fighting a tiger against a racing clock. For all that they were merely numbers, he saw their dwindling trickle as if he were watching grains of sand pour through the hourglass of his fingers, helpless.
 
29:47:03.
 
The tiger looked at him. It didn't glance his way. It directed its massive head at him, its eyes trained on Barabbas ... and they didn't turn away.
 
Another man, in another arena, stood calmly while the tiger advanced. His breathing was even, he did not watch the clock, and he looked with love upon the prowling beast. When it snarled, he slowly exhaled; when its whiskers glanced his weaponless fingers, he blinked gently as the hot breath of the tiger dampened his skin.
 
 
From LAST WILL & TESTAMENT, by Mike Hays:
 
I’ve found money, I’ve found food, and I’ve found myself in plenty of trouble on plenty of occasions, but I’ve never found another human being just lying around. That’s what happened when I found a person-shaped ball of olive drab and camouflage clothing—which would have been more at home in the reject pile down at the army surplus store—under our decrepit, worn sign for the, “Extraordinary League of Witch Assass_ _ _.”
 
It’s true. I found a boy about my age sleeping at the end of the Extraordinary League of Witch Assassins driveway.
 
 
From UNWANTED, by Lora Palmer:
 
“Let me see you,” he whispers. “Let me truly see you.”
 
I swallow down the fear this moment brings, the anxiety that once he does see me, he will no longer accept me. No, I must stop thinking this way. My husband is not like Jacob, dazzled by the superficial beauty of my sister. My husband, my love, will see me.
 
Taking courage from this, I let out a shaky laugh as he helps me stand. I long to see him, too.
 
“All right,” I say.
 
He lifts my veil, his deft fingers moving slow, relishing the anticipation of this moment. At last, he lifts the linen over my face and lets it slip to the floor behind me. We stare at each other, stock still, in stunned silence.
 
It was Jacob.
 
From EMMACULATE, by Christina Raus:
 
The Ten Commandments are pretty straightforward. Killing? Bad. Lying? Nope. Adultery? Don’t even think about it. But is real life really that straightforward? If you tell your boyfriend that you’re going golfing, when really you’re going out to cheat on him, is the lying or the adultery worse? What if you stab the guy you’re having an affair with? Isn’t being a murderer worse than being a cheater? I think the stabbing is worse than the lying and the cheating combined. So, it was kind of unfair for God to group killing, lying, and cheating all together under one umbrella. They all seemed really different.
 
I was an adulterer. I couldn’t deny that. I was also a liar. A very, very good liar. But I wasn’t a murderer.
 
 
From THE DELUGE, by Marti Johnson:
 
The stench of mildew and mold is heavy in our nostrils, and my lungs feel as though they are on fire. My breathing is audible in the lulls between the thunderclaps. My mother huddles, shivering, propped between two rocks. She is coughing painfully, and I can hear her teeth chattering.
 
It is hard to breathe because the air itself is full of water.
 
A deeper shadow has fallen across the side of the mountain on which we are sheltering. I pull aside the brambles, and gasp in amazement when I realize what it is.
 
“Look!” I call to the others, and point at the sight. The ark has risen with the water, and now bobs up and down. It sits high in the water. We hear nothing from it but the creaking of the wood timbers and the sound of the branches and rocks on the hillside scraping against its hull.
 
 
From DANIEL AND THE DRAGON, by Stephen Clements:
 
Your god is a liar!” roared the wizened man in thin black robes, as he pounded his breast with his fist.
 
Habakkuk stood by the gates of the temple as his master picked a fight with a sanctuary full of the slavish followers of Bel, a bloodthirsty demon god. A fire raged in the fanged maw of a giant, stone head sunken into the back of the temple, there to receive the offerings rendered unto Bel. He had seen this before in other temple raids with his master, though not on such a massive scale, and not at the heart of the demon cult in Babylon itself.
 
The fire raged as the greatest offering that the Babylonians—who adored Bel above all other gods—could sacrifice to their deity was their own newborn children, rolled their screaming, helpless bodies down a stone, handshaped altar into the fire. They offered the fruit of their wombs to their dark god, who devoured the innocent souls sacrificed to him in eldritch rituals.

 

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Reading Progress: 100% of Fish Wielder

...wow.

 

This was the most fun I've had reading a book in a while.  It was funny, witty, silly and most important- clever.  There's an actual plot in here and if you're not paying attention you might lose a few threads, but it all comes together.  There were twists, turns and even some sadness.  And it all made sense... kinda.  Sorta. 

 

A wild romp, indeed. 

 

Review to come.

 

 

The Joint Post Request Line

OBD & I already have a post planned for diverse authors for tomorrow. We've not planned beyond that, and I was thinking that maybe there would be specific requests!

 

 

Are you having a lot of trouble filling your bingo square? Is there a specific square you'd like to see us cover in a joint post? Let us know in the comments!

 

This post was inspired by BrokenTune's comment on a different post, so I'll just indicate here that we will do a post on "Fall" Into A Good Book!

 

Reading Progress: Pg 216/286 of Fish Wielder

Quite a few things occur that I didn't see coming or expect, adding some gravitas to the silliness. Really enjoying the heck outta this one.

 

 

 

Reading Progress: Pg 65/286 of Fish Wielder

 

And now- a few fun facts about elves:

 

They ride unicorns.  A lot.  And don't use saddles.

 

They like to eat delicacies such as baked eel stuffed with bluebirds stuffed with salamanders stuffed with ground dragon tongue.  And they mostly drink water.  And are gluten intolerant.  They're also famous for their sherberts, which can't compare to the gelatos from Flurge but are still pretty tasty.

 

It's well known that girl elves are the toughest, most dangerous fighters.  And they aren’t bad to look at, either.

 

And when they get tired of being around humans, they can ride a great white pigeon to a land across the sea.

 

And the Princess-Who-Has-Yet-To-Be-Named finally gets one.  "She is called Nalweegie, the Evening Snack," King Elfrod revealed, "because to look on her in twilight quells the hunger of one's heart without making one feel overfull, as can happen with a more substantial meal."

 

*facepalm*

Reading Progress: Pg 45/286 of Fish Wielder

 

 

 

Thoral & Brad eventually end up in the elven kingdom of Windendale, which the elves themselves call Creekenvalley. Full of alabaster towers, wind chimes, door harps, rainbows, waterfalls- all the usual shit.

 

Elfrond, the king, was pleased to see them- after all they'd rescued his daughter from that evil sorcerer in the Godforsaken Swamp. The princess remains quite taken with Thoral; she even wears amethyst earrings cut into miniature figurines of his likeness.

 

Anyways, Elfrond admits there's some sort of evil presence out there that's killing his people... and we're out the door.

 

After two weeks of searching our intrepid heroes end up in yet another festering swampland with a black tower surrounded by the bones of elves looming over things. 

 

And then, this happens:

 

 

 

 

 

Turns out the evil sorcerer, Necrogrond, has returned- this time with his head nailed onto the body of a gorilla with elephant trunks for arms and wielding a magical hammer.  There's also some bailing wire helping to hold it in place.  The Bad Religion gave Necrogrond the Pudding of Eternal Life so he could help them get rid of all the elves.  It's all part of a much bigger plan- there's lots of moving parts and the whole thing is really complicated...

 

After an epic battle involving lots of bodily fluids being sprayed about and body parts flying around, Thorgal defeats him.  The whole tower dissolves away and he's left standing in the midst of the swamp just as the elves come riding up on unicorns. 

King Elfrod is glad he's ok- nevermind how his daughter reacts (and btw, we still don't have a name for her yet).  Elfrod tells Thoral that there's more evil out there and despite the Princess-Who-Has-Not-Been-Named objecting to his going off alone, he and Brad set off to continue their quest.

 

Getting a real kick out of this so far.  :)

 

 

Reading Progress: Pg 29/286 of Fish Wielder

 

 

After being accused of cheating at cards by a group of adventures hoping to win enough money to fund an expedition to go kill a lich or something, Thoral gets into an epic barfight, slapping one guy so hard his eyeball flies out. Random patrons in the bar start hitting on each other for no reason- it's a barfight after all. Afterwards, Thoral pays for the damages, leaves some money for a new eyepatch, gathers up Brad and staggers out to Warlordhorse and manages to leave the city, under the watchful gaze of three men clad in black who suddenly realize he was the guy they weren't supposed to let leave the city alive...

Reading Progress: Pg 19 of Fish Wielder

 

 

 

Thanks to Debbie's Spurts for the idea.  :)

Reading Progress: 7% Fish Wielder

 

 

A few lines from the opening chapter- The Fist Wielder:


*It was the anniversary of something bad.
*A less attractive or more effeminate man would never have been able to pull off such an outfit, but for Thoral it was no problem.
*There was no word for the vibrant purple color of his eyes, but they were violet.

 

Toss in a sidekick who's a foot long orange koi named Brad and a tiger-striped steed named Warlordhorse, and we're ready for adventure.  Warlordhorse is a Brendylschmylyn- a breed that can smell danger. And evil. And even evil sorcerers.

 

So Thoral is melancholy to the point of wanting to die in combat or something. While trying to mount his steed, Warlordhorse, three members of the Bad Religion sneak up and try to kill him with poisoned daggers, but... alas. And so we're off to the Godforsaken Swamp... which seems remarkably familiar to the Bog of Eternal Stench from Labryinth. With a castle that Warlordhorse can smell has an evil sorcerer inside.

 

In the depths of the dark, forboding castle- which the evil sorcerer usurped from the previous good king and poisoned the surrounding lands- Thoral invokes the runes on his magic sword, Blurmflard, which cause it to glow hot pink.  The evil sorcerer sneaks up on Thoral and almost hacks his arm off using a poisoned dagger (is there any other kind?) and runs off down some corridors that have confounding spells on them.

 

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So far just a few smiles, no real laughs yet.