1

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 3

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 3
Chapters 19-26

Kushiel's Dart

OK, I am a week late with this post but I did have the chapters read in time… promise!

1)  We get a lot of political intrigue to wade through this week, plus a couple of pretty big dramatic revelations, not least of which was the twist of fate for Prince Baudoin and his mother. What did you make of the trial, and what became of these two?
The trial was probably more substantial than I initially thought it would be and it was definitely setting the tone for the future of the story. I was surprised by the outcome of the trial, particularly for Prince Baudoin but then I guess you can’t assume anyone is safe in fantasy! I was hoping he’d stick around.
2)  On a rather different, much more personal note for the House of Delaunay was the drama that unfolded surrounding Alcuin (poor Guy!). What do you think might become of Alcuin now that he appears to be out of the game?
I don’t underestimate Alcuin at all – I think his sombre and sad persona just hides his true intentions. He keeps his cards close to his chest! I think he will strike out alone in some way and become rather powerful…
3)  As we’d suspected last week, Phedre’s refusal to use her signale gets her into some trouble with d’Essoms – but it also gets her the result that Anafiel had hoped for… Do you think she’ll be more careful from here or will this only make that addictive slope more slippery for her?
No, slippery slope.
4)  Speaking of Phedre and trouble, what do you make of the ‘relationship’ building between her and Melisande?
I am curious to see where this leads. The two of them combined would be powerful.
It’s all about power, isn’t it? 
2

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 2

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 2
Chapters 9-18

Kushiel's Dart

1) In these chapters, Phèdre finally gets to have her own dedication ceremony.  Were you surprised by what they did with the dove? Also, do you think it is fair to ask people to make a life decision about serving Naamah at such a young age?
I had to go back and check what they did with the dove as I couldn’t remember… I think releasing the dove didn’t necessarily register much with me but I have since read that others were expecting some sort of dramatic sacrifice. I guess this is an obvious sign that I am only an occasional fantasy reader! Upon reflection, perhaps releasing the dove was a bit predictable and dull. That’s what we do now at ceremonies, don’t we?
I think it’s tough to ask people to make life decisions at such a young age, particularly when they don’t really know what they are getting themselves in to – Naamah’s servants make this decision before even seeing The Showing. However, in the world of the book serving Naamah is so desirable and engrained in society that given time and other options they probably would still make the same decision. Same as what happens in cults I guess!

2) Sex ed is definitely different in Terre d’Ange.  Do you think the Showing was useful for the teenagers? Do you think, at their age, you would have appreciated something like the book-learning they received in the art?
I think it would be useful to have The Showing as learning the facts doesn’t really enlighten you as to what happens or how to be creative. Teens these days have the internet so I guess they have their own private showings! I think the book learning is a good idea but it could be embarrassing depending on who the teacher was.

3) Hyacinthe has some neat theories about Delauney’s past.  What is your favorite theory?
I don’t have a favourite theory but it all adds to the intrigue about the man himself, like with the different name he is called by his former teacher.

4) Phèdre seems to be making a name for herself as an anguissette, known for never giving the signale. Do you think she would ever actually choose to use the signale, even if she were in real danger? Do you think her inability to do so might get her into trouble?
I don’t think she’d ever use the signale… she is marked with Kushiel’s Dart, after all. I don’t think it will get her into trouble. Rather, it will probably help her advance…

5) Do you think Alcuin is enjoying his career as much as Phèdre, or do you think he has a different focus? Do you think their differing appeals and tastes will drive them apart?
No, I don’t think he is enjoying it that much but you never know, he may just be coy. I suspect he is being strategic for himself in his career. As Alcuin and Phèdre have different motives they won’t clash so therefore won’t fall out.

Tidbits
I like how serving Naamah is very gender-fluid. There should be more of this in fiction.
In response to Dab of Darkness: I am an Australian based in the glorious land of Alba, specifically London. I don’t know where Australia would be in the grand scheme of things. Probably far beyond the Tsingano lands…

1

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 1

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along Week 1
Chapters 1-8

Kushiel's Dart

Wow. I read these first 8 chapters really quickly. I was hooked!

1) Here we have the earliest days of Phedre’s life, and we have the story of Elua and his followers. Did you note any similarities between Phedre’s beginning and Elua’s stories? Do you enjoy having these stories upfront or would you rather have had the stories shuffled in later with an adult Phedre looking back?

I didn’t pick up on the similarities but now that you mention it, yes there are a lot!  At first I didn’t enjoy the stories and I hoped the whole book wasn’t going to be weighted down with descriptions of the mythology. However, as  I neared Chapter 8 and all the world started to make sense to me I actually went back and read the history of the land. I am reading a Kindle edition and it opens straight to Chapter 1. After I realised there was a map at the front and I had a look, everything started to make more sense. I like what the author has done with her world building!

2) Hyacinthe has become Phedre’s one true friend. Do you think she is the same for him? The dromonde, or fortune telling, fascinates Phedre. Do you have a fortune telling story?

I think at first the friendship was innocent and both were equals but I started to get the ominous feeling that Hyacinthe has the power and perhaps a sinister motive.

Fortune telling isn’t really my thing but I had my cards read while still at school and I was told I would be taking a journey. I was going on a school trip a couple of months later so maybe that counts?

3) The Midwinter Masque on the Longest Night is a long held tradition in Terre D’Ange. What stood out for you? Have you been to such a fete?

I immediately thought of the Venice Carnival which makes the idea of the world even more interesting. All the colour and action sounded great but it wouldn’t really be my thing.

4) Anafiel Delaunay has many secrets. How do you think those secrets will shape Alcuin and Phedre?

Well, he’s manipulating them, isn’t he? I don’t know exactly how or why but time will tell.

5) Delaunay has a saying; All knowledge is worth having. Do you believe this is so?

A tough one! I’m sure there are some things I just don’t want to know and I have definitely become more sensitive to terrible stories and events since my son was born so I guess I would like to remain ignorant on some fronts…

Other Tidbits

I love the marque tattoos!

42

WIN copies of The Ark by Annabel Smith and Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

LiteraryBlogHopNovember

 

This competition is closed. Thank you for entering.

This is the first time I have participated in this Blog Hop and I am excited to be giving away two prizes.

theark-annabelsmith 9781444762761

The first prize is a digital copy of The Ark by Annabel Smith.
(Suitable for Ipad, Ipad Mini, Kobo, Kindle)
The year is 2041 and a group of scientists and their families retreat into a bunker inside Mt Kosciusko to escape the chaos of environmental meltdown. They look after billions of plant seeds that hold the future to life on earth. Their story is told through a record of their digital documents. (Read my review here).

The second prize is a paperback copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.
A sonic boom hits Lagos and three of its residents are engulfed by a tidal wave. They must work together with a visitor from beyond the stars to save the city, the country and the world from environmental destruction and the worst of human nature.
(Read my review here).

Both competitions are open worldwide and if you enter you will automatically be put into the draw for both prizes.
If you only want to be in the draw for one of the prizes, please let me know in your entry comment.

To enter you will need to leave a comment below stating your favourite tree, plant, shrub or flower. (C’mon, both novels have an environmental theme and one is even set in a seed bank!)
If you are entering both competitions you only need to leave one comment.

Both competitions close 11.59pm GMT on Wednesday 5th November.

Winners will be selected randomly. If you are a winner I will contact you within 24 hours of the competitions closing. If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours I will draw the prize again.

Why not visit some of the other blogs participating in the Blog Hop giveaway:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)
2

Bizarre City Pulse: Lagoon

LagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

I was unsure about this novel: a fantasy novel set in Lagos? With environmental themes? Could I possible enjoy this?

Three disparate strangers meet on a beach in Lagos: Adaora, a marine biologist. Anthony, a famous rapper from Ghana. Agu, a soldier in trouble with his superior.

When a meteorite hits the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three will find themselves bound together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars. They must race through Lagos in order to save the city, the world… and themselves.

First Impressions: The first few chapters were well written but I found the plot was a little stilted as the sea creature alien arrived and settled into Adaora’s house. As it is a fantasy novel and this was a vital plot development you sort of just had to go with it and I’m glad I did.

Highlights: There is so much to like about this novel! Never having been to Nigeria, I am guessing that Okorafor has created a perfect representation of Lagos. I wonder if her life in America has provided a good distance in which to make such accurate comments? I laughed to read that Aliens chose to land in Lagos as the corruption would mean they could exist undetected. I later found out that the author started this novel in response to everything she disliked in the South African Film District 9.

Many people talk about London as being an addictive place to live but I had never considered Lagos to have the same pull to its residents; people look for greener pastures but always return. I found all the different Lagosian groups and tensions that Okorafor includes incredibly interesting and naturally written about, particularly the Muslim-Christian anxieties. I have never included quotes in a review before but I think this perfectly sums up daily life for residents of Lagos:

Some blamed the Muslims of the north. Others blamed the Americans. Al-Quaeda. Sickness. The British. Bad luck. Devils. Poverty. Women. Fate. 419. Biafra. The bad roads. The military. Corruption. (page 61).

My favourite character by far was the charlatan charismatic  religious leader Father Oke. I also loved the underground LGBT group from the university; so unexpected yet a perfect addition to this novel. Along with other terms peculiar to Lagos such as ‘Area Boys’ and ‘face me, I face you’ apartments, Pidgin was used successfully in some chapters and I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I didn’t understand it all, which really surprised me. Juju and other superstitions are seamlessly integrated into the mindset of many of the characters including Adaora’s businessman husband who believes in the three types of witches: white, physical and marine.

If I was an editor: I would still be a fair-weather fantasy reader and would like the fact the fantasy elements don’t overwhelm the story. There are a few (needed for the plot) chapters with fantasy elements towards the end; any more and I may have begun to lose interest but the author obviously kept a good balance with these elements. It is, after all, a fantasy novel.

Overall: Lagos brought to life.

Lagoon: 5 Stars

Thank you to Bookbridgr for a copy of the novel to review.

 

2

Amazing YA Debut

Product Details Blackbrooke by Emma Silver

I had seen the marketing for Emma Silver’s Blackbrooke on Twitter and was intrigued by the premise: due to the town of Blackbrooke being harassed by dangerous Crits walking the streets at night, the area has been fenced off from the Outside. Blackbrooke residents must follow a series of rules which include staying inside after curfew and having triple glazed windows. The long nights make winter hard and ‘walk outs’ are inevitable. Seventeen year old Liberty Conner begins to notice some odd behaviour and patterns in Blackbrooke and seeks to find out the truth before time runs out. I had it at the top of my ‘to read’ list on an earlier blog about YA fiction (Dystopian Survival) and started reading it last Friday.

I was gripped from the first page of this novel and became annoyed when I had to take a break from reading it! I often have a YA book on the go that I can dip into every so often when I am busy but I have to say that I read this book in two sittings. I enjoy YA fiction. As an adult I realise I am not the target audience so I am often rather forgiving when plot weaknesses and somewhat predictable characters pop up. Much to my delight, I found none of these flaws in Blackbrooke.

Emma Silver has done a remarkable job of creating three-dimensional characters; each character is unique and believable. The relationships between the characters are also clear and thoughtful. There is an obvious personal history between the characters that has developed over the years as a result of living in such an insulated town. The imaginative plot also seemed believable. The only thing I did wonder about every so often when I took a brief break was, Unless I missed something, why didn’t the residents just vacate the town when the rules were established? However, once I got back to the story I forgot all about this! The author has also created a believable setting. The town of Blackbrooke is somewhere in the mysterious north of England. There are only about 10,000 residents and the feelings of claustrophobia and depression permeate the story, particularly when the dark winter nights close in. For an imaginative story there is a reasonable amount of social realism included.

Due to the more sophisticated writing style, some of the themes and the raunchy elements that are included, this is a book for older teens. It is one of the best books I have read recently and stands heads and shoulders above other YA books. Secondary school libraries should have it on their shelves and adults who are interested in trying YA fiction will probably find themselves pleasantly surprised. I look forward to the second book in the series that is due for release in the summer.

Blackbrooke: 5 Stars

Crooked Cat Publishing are clearly able to identify a great writer. Blackbrooke was the first book I read from this publishing house and I would now like to try a couple more of their books. I have added these three adult fiction books to my ‘to read’ list:

Product DetailsA Guide to Becoming Distinctively Average – Amy Elliott-Smith. Humour / Contemporary Fiction about a 30-something dog groomer questioning life.

Product DetailsDragon Ring – Maggie Secara. First in a Fantasy series about a reality TV host who owes the King of the Faeries a favour.

Product DetailsHow to Look Like You – Rose McClelland. A chick lit story about frenemies.