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Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview



Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
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Customer Comments

nrlymrtl has commented on (178) products.

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
The Nymphos of Rocky Flats

nrlymrtl, January 17, 2014

This was a ridiculous book and I quite enjoyed it. Mario Acevedo has the government speak down perfectly for the Rocky Flats scenes. I had to laugh out loud at the first few ‘top secret’ pages to this book as it is so like these institutions. Having recently walked away from one after over a decade of service, I can tell Acevedo did his stint in bureaucratic hell too.

So let’s talk about the ladies. Yes, there are female nymphos, but Denver seems to have more than the average and they all once worked at Rocky Flats, at least until their hornyness got them fired. Yes, having sex on the job even at nuclear weapons facilities is frowned upon. Of course Felix’s interviews with them leads to some awkward (and funny) scenes.

Towards the end, I did feel the author tried to pull in a little too much for this one book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it was one more mystery, and something totally different from what was already going on. Still, I wonder what was done with it in Book 2.

One of the things I enjoyed (and it is with a naughty grin that I enjoyed it) was that Felix tended to knock people out and then pose then in questionable positions. Hehe….he’s my kind of vampire.

I will definitely be looking to read more in this series, especially when I need a chuckle and something light to pick me up with questionable humor. I think I can safely classify this book as one of my guilty pleasures.
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Outlander (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander (Outlander)

nrlymrtl, January 17, 2014

I read this book years ago as a teen and before I had a serious intimate relationship. Since there is plenty of sex, there were parts that I simply didn’t get (but still intrigued me). Now, having read it as a full adult, I still quite enjoyed it. Yes, there is sex but each scene reveals something about the characters involved and I never felt it was gratuitous. Read away, guilt free!

Now the bigger draw is the historical fiction aspect. It is great, such detail, so much going on with the plot. The setting is great and watching Claire try to navigate her way through it without becoming someone’s pawn, or killed, was sometimes heart-stopping. First, I really liked that the book started in 1945, a time of turmoil, with the unknown looming ahead for the folks of that time. Claire and frank are getting reacquainted after being separated as they served their country. We have plenty of time to get to know Frank, his love of genealogy, and Claire and her interest in medicinal plants.

Of course, before they can settle into their new life, perhaps start a family, Claire is whisked off to 1743 Scotland. Right off, she is practically thrown into a skirmish and runs into one of Frank’s ancestors, Jack Randall. Jack turns out to be the evil nemesis of the book and he lets his course ways be known straight off. But the Scots whisk her away. Of course, they have plenty of questions, and luckily, wounded that Claire can see to.

And that is another aspect I enjoyed. Claire, while not a warrior in standard sense, has seen some pretty gruesome things as a combat nurse. So she impresses the Scots both with her strong stomach and her swearing. Haha!

Now I do need to put it out there that there are a few scenes of near-rape and one scene that is detailed rape. Just a word of caution to those who might wish to avoid those scenes. I will say that they were not gratuitous and added to the story, and the character development.

There is also one scene where Claire takes a beating. Honestly, I was a bit conflicted over this. But Gabaldon does an excellent job of putting it into context of the time period. Plus, I liked Claire’s final response to it.

Overall, an excellent read. I am so glad I picked it up again after so many years and I plan to continue the series. Gabaldon pulled my emotions left and right, and even dug a few out of me that I didn’t know I had.

The Narration: Davina Porter was excellent. She did an English accent and the Scottish accents with aplomb. Plus there was a bit of French thrown in. She had distinct voices for the large cast of characters and she carried the various emotions of the intense scenes quite well.
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Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler
Shadows of Glass

nrlymrtl, January 17, 2014

Book 1 left us with Wren and her whole village scampering before a deluge of water. Wren, Pace, and a few Shiners find themselves outside the Dome via the underground tunnels. They also find that a lot of people didn’t survive the disaster. On top of mourning their dead, they must also get use to fresh air, wildlife, sunlight, and the elements. It soon becomes clear that they are not alone in the outside world as the Rovers are clearly interested in their goats and ponies. Luckily, some generous and helpful Americans descend in an airship, very intrigued by the smoke that continues to pour from the holes in the Dome. The Shiners easily make friends with the Hatfields (Jane & Lion and their daughter Xanth and her cousin Levi) and their well-stocked airship.

Wren has Shiner eyes, eyes that have evolved to low-light environments. And she makes the mistake of looking into the sun. Drama ensues. Everyone’s emotions are running high as those who made it out with Pace and Wren deal with the dead, or worse, the not knowing if loved are are alive, trapped, or dead and lost. James, ever the divisive force, and Pace square off while Wren feels torn between her remaining people and the bond she has with Pace. More drama.

Then the airship shows up and Wren is the first to stumble upon it. Luckily, the occupants are friendly and have extra resources. They trade Wren a grand meal in exchange for knowledge of the Dome and the surrounding area. Xanth takes to her right away, making sure she is bathed and dressed. Pretty soon, the remaining Shiners are taken under the protective wing of the Hatfields. They begin training on simple weapons, like bows, and also hunting.

Between the action scenes, we are treated to Wren’s inner turmoil. She’s had a lot of deal with and with no chance to rest. She is especially torn by her ability to kill, constantly questioning the morality of it. Luckily, Levi can relate, and the two start to form a bond. And yet more drama ensues as Pace and Levi vie for Wren’s affections.

There were many things I was taken with in this story. I love the idea of folks stuck in an enclosed environment, losing much of their knowledge of the surrounding world, and then coming out into that world. for instance, Pace was privileged in that he had access to numerous books. So he is able to figure out how to dig up muscles, cook them, and eat them. They all learn about sunburns and the Shiners have to take extra care with their eyes that are evolved for miner life. The American explorers and their airship was a nice touch, even if they are a little too nice and polite to be real. Still, they have an airship! And they bring knowledge of the bigger world.

Wren has so much to deal with, and by and large, she does a really good job. She helped many of the remaining Shiners when they first emerged from the caves. Then she spread the world about the Rovers so folks could keep an eye out. Then the airship brings much needed protection but also complications. They wish to make contact with those inside. While Wren worries for her friends who still remain inside, she doesn’t want to return.

But then it all gets complicated with the love triangle. You won’t give me the evil squinty eye if I tell you I kind of tuned out some of it because it was overkill? Wren acts like she doesn’t have any control over her emotions, which leads to lack of control over her actions. She also can’t decide what she wants. I didn’t really care for these dramatic sections of the book, but I guess they are required in modern-day Young Adult. Sigh…..

Levi is half Sioux, thought he doesn’t really look it. There are a few sections where he goes on about how much he learned during his single year with his mother’s tribe. This seemed to smack of putting the noble savage on a pedestal. Native Americans are real today and haven’t been lost to the mists of time. And they are supposedly real in this book too, still having healthy societies. Perhaps we could have had a Native American family piloting the airship? Just a thought. In case an author is looking for a new, crisp idea that hasn’t been explored/exploited.

The bad guys were terribly easy to spot. They all smelled bad, looked bad, and acted badly. I was hoping that the Rovers would have some sort of society as they managed to exist outside the Dome all these years through the calamity of the comet. But no, rather they all fell into this cookie cutter mold of ‘Bad Guy’. On the other hand, several got to die during the action scenes which provided an opportunity for character growth by our heroes.

OK, with those few criticisms, I still enjoyed the book. I want Wren to succeed and I want Pace to get his mom back. I want James to die a glorious death instead of being a dick all the time. Levi and his family are cool and helpful, but soon they will lose interest and fly away. So, yeah, I will probably check out the third book because I need to know how things end.
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The Hammer and the Blade (Tale of Egil and Nix) by Paul S. Kemp
The Hammer and the Blade (Tale of Egil and Nix)

nrlymrtl, January 17, 2014

The tale starts out with Egil and Nix doing a dungeon crawl, set on killing a demon and gaining treasure. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned and they slump off to their newly acquired bar & brothel in a rough part of the neighborhood. Lo and behold, their efforts have gained them stalkers and the kind of fans with demands. They are tasked by a sorcerer to travel with him and his drugged, unconscious sisters to a long-lost temple where the sorcerer plans to free a demon. Egil and Nix weren’t given a choice in the matter and reluctantly go on the quest. Meanwhile, they each start receiving psychic messages from at least one of the sisters, pleas for help.

For 3/4 of this book, I was hooked. I enjoyed the bantering, the adventure, the ridiculous situations the lads ended up in. I even enjoyed despising the bad guy. While the only females in the tale tended to be unconscious maidens in distress, mother figures, or brothel workers, I had hopes the sisters would rise at the end and take some much deserved vengeance into their own hands. After all, they are mindmages. I enjoyed the magic, the near-impossible situation, the backstory that explained what the sorcerer was up to and why.

But then I got to the end. I am still pondering if the author was trying to acknowledge the male-centric world that has dominated Fantasy Fiction for generations by having the main characters acknowledge their own rude & crude behavior towards women; Or was the author finding a new way to be condescending to women?

The sorcerer’s family has for generations had an evil pact with a certain line of demons. Once every 10 years or so, a portal is opened and for one night the demon is allowed to bed (mostly rape) all the child-bearing age females of the family. 9 months later, the demons get the demonic children and the ones that pass for human stay with the sorcerer’s family. The men of the family are also granted ever increasing dark arcane knowledge. I’m OK with all that. Dark, twisted �" definitely my thing.

SPOILER ALERT But at the end, Egil and Nix manage to rescue the sisters from being demon raped by knocking out their evil brother sorcerer and, through a magic talisman, changing him into a woman. They then allow the demon to carry off the newly feminized brother to be demon raped and probably impregnated. The ladies are then swept off their feet and carried into a new life by our heroes. My issues? 1) If you have an orifice that can be forcibly penetrated, you can be raped. By changing the brother to a female, the message was that only women can be raped. Dare I say that the message is that men are too strong to be demon raped? 2) Once converted to a female, all his brains fled. Surely he had various traps for an escaped demon in his own stronghold? Where did all his arcane knowledge go? Was his female brain too small to hold it all? 3) Egil and Nix didn’t stop the cycle of violence. In fact, they perpetuated it by giving the demon a viable female to impregnate. 4) The sisters didn’t have any say in their brother’s fate and were then oh so graciously given new lives by the heroes. END SPOILER

So I am not sure I will pick up another Paul Kemp novel. Even several weeks after finishing this book, I am still drawn to Egil and Nix but strongly put off by how Book 1 ended. Maybe with time I will forget and can check out his other books without prejudice.

The Narration: Nick Podehl was a great voice for Nix and Egil. He had this carefree, teasing voice for Nix and this gruff voice for Egil. It was a very good narration.
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City of Bones: Mortal Instruments #1 by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones: Mortal Instruments #1

nrlymrtl, January 17, 2014

Meet Clary Fray. She’s 15, lives with her mom, and has a bit of a submissive streak. Simon is her best friend, and he is a bit of a wallflower. So of course Clary needs to drag him off to a nightclub, Pandemonium. In an equipment room, Clary witnesses three armed teens kill what she thinks is another teen. However, the security guard and Simon don’t see anything. Later, at a poetry reading (Simon’s idea), Clary sees one of the teens, Jace. Clary learns a little about the Shadowhunters and their never-ending quest to slay demons. Of course, she has trouble believing it, but that becomes much easier when she is attacked by a giant bug-like demon in her apartment. With her mother missing, and tons of questions, she turns to Jace and his fellow Shadowhunters for answers.

Alec and Isabelle Lightwood live at the Institute with Jace, and the elderly, scholarly Hodge Starkweather. Isabelle can be a bitch, but she is always straight forward. Alec takes a huge dislike to Clary right away. So even though she is temporarily safe from demon bugs, she isn’t exactly being coddled and reassured all will be well. At that is one of the aspects I enjoyed about this book. The Shadowhunters are descendants of the first nephilim, those created from an angel mixing his blood with mortal blood. from this, they derive certain powers, such as the Sight which allows Clary to see Jace and crew at the night club.

The Shadowhunters also have other magical means, such as runes they draw upon their skin and then call upon for protection or healing. Yeah, it stings a bit, but they endure. they also have years of training in more mundane defense skills; hand-to-hand combat, various weapons training. Only Isabelle cooks, and she does that badly. Other than that, these teens all seem able to clean & dress themselves and order in when hungry.

The over all mystery was pretty compelling. Clary soon finds out her mother is more than she ever knew, along with he mother’s long-term boyfriend Luke. Turns out the Mortal Cup, which was used by the angel to make the first nephilim, has been missing for a generation. It disappeared when the evil warlock Valentine was destroyed. Or was he? So plenty to explore there, both in Clary’s present and also in the past.

The story quickly develops a love triangle, which then becomes a quadrangle, and then a pentangle. At that point, it’s just best to call it the Love Tangle. These teens need to get out more and meet more people, period. At first I was a little annoyed at the love triangle, but by the time we got to the Love Tangle, I could only chuckle at it. I don’t think anyone’s going to get laid.

While some of the plot twists were predictable, the author still executed them with drama and scenery. Yep, scenery. They were quite lovely scenes, just predictable. And Clary seemed to spend 90% of the book reacting to her surroundings or doing what someone else tells her to do. She rarely acted on her own.

But other than those points, it was a fun jaunt through YA. Will I read the next book? Hmm….I don’t know. If I find it on the library shelf while browsing and queue isn’t already full, sure.
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