Book Review: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

Author: Chris Kennedy

Narrator: Craig Good

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained: I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages: 432

1119129791

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after Janissaries, the first novel in The Theogony Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and his special forces platoon just returned from a three-month mission to the stars.  The technology they brought back will help, but it won’t be enough to hold off the alien menace headed their way.  Although they returned alive, they returned without finding any new allies or help in building the fleet necessary to ensure the Earth’s survival.

They’ve got to go back out to the stars.

“When the Gods Aren’t Gods” is the second book in “The Theogony,” a trilogy that takes Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his special forces platoon to the stars, where they have found out that there is much more to Earth’s history than is written in the history books!

What do you do when myths become reality, and nothing you have ever been taught about history turns out to be true?  How do you find the truth when everything you know is a lie?  What is there left to believe in, when even the gods aren’t gods?

 

Characters:

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, nor did Chris Kennedy didn’t sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  I felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  Like his previous novels, I was helped by my time in the service, because Chris used his military service color this science fiction military thriller.  Here is a brief summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs: He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He got involved with the resistance and ends up leading a small band of disenfranchised troopers in a war against the occupying force.  These actions caught the attention of the aliens spying on humanity, and end with him being requested to lead humanities efforts to assist their new alien allies.  In this book we follow him as he helps unify the Earth around the

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!

 

Plot:

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Sino American War world, after China invaded Seattle as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  Immediately after the war ends, aliens make contact with Earth.  We find out that most of Earths mythologies are actually aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As part of the quest to find allies in the pending war against the Drakuls, Shawn Hobbs gets to meet these aliens.

The premise was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We see a conclusion of the goal of a unified Earth and a one world government, which granted access to more bad assed advanced tech from the Psiclopes’s stranded on Earth.  Chris covered the needed political gamesmanship very well, with the required non-action scenes not bogging down the plot.  I would love to give some examples, but this is a spoiler free review!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  On a happy note, this book ditched some of the aviation porn in favor of ground combat.  This was excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

World Building:

This is the second book in The Theogony Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this world!  Like in the previous novel in this trilogy, this world was very flushed out.  I was especially pleased with the way Chris Kennedy handled the evolution from our current geopolitical status quo into the unified Terran Government created in this book.  The new Republic of Terra conversion was handled well, I was sold on the way it happened.  Even with a pending alien invasion, there was dissent and political gamesmanship.  The changes were believable, and there was no waving of the hands to address the realities of geopolitics at the international level.  There would be no panacea for the new world government, as each nation jockeyed for power.  Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and made his divergent path extremely plausible.  I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.

 

Description:

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  There were some scenes which were confusing, and difficult to envision, but like the last novel he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  There were very few places where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  He was, alas, a little light on the details of what the various characters looked like.  And he went overboard on the mythology and religion, which isn’t something I normally look for in my science fiction.  Overall, I give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category!

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  You might notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last three books, and it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.

Like the previous book in this trilogy, the cover was amazingly invocative.  I love how the trilogy has a similar theme running through it, and picking military unit patches for the space marines definitely fit this book.  I could definitely see this on some swag!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that he was just a silly fly boy!  As for the military equipment, well it was a lot smoother than the previous novel.  None of the future tech was perfect, it didn’t always work and sometimes failed at the worst possible moments.  That is a good thing, as it adds realism to his novels!  As an additional plus, we got to play with his believable small unit tactics when the new Republic of Terra Space Marines were formed and used by Calvin Hobbs.  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  I even stayed up to late, reading in the hotel bathroom once the kids went to bed!!  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering which grunt he bribed for the insight into how we think!  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: Janissaries (The Theogony Book 1)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN.  It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time.  There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List.  And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points!  So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review.  Now let’s get to it! 

 

Title:  Janissaries (The Theogony Book 1)

Author:  Chris Kennedy

Narrator:  Craig Good

Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained:  I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages:  408

 

Janissary Cover

 

Rating:  5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

 

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on in the world of the Occupied Seattle duology with the same cast of characters.  The war with China, the Sino American War, was over and Lieutenant Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs just wanted his life to get back to normal.  As the hero of the war, he had a small ream of paperwork to fill out, a deployment with his Navy F-18 squadron to prepare for, and a new girlfriend to spend some quality time with.  Life was good, until the aliens showed up.

The aliens had a ship and needed to get to their home planet, but they didn’t have a crew.  They had seen Calvin’s unit in action, though, and knew it was the right one for the job.  There was just one small problem–a second race of aliens was coming, which would end all life on Earth.  Calvin’s platoon might want to do something about that, too. Having won a terrestrial war with 30 troops, winning an interstellar war with nothing but a 3,000-year-old cruiser should be easy, right? “Janissaries” initiates “The Theogony,” a trilogy that will take Lieutenant Hobbs and his Special Forces platoon to the stars.  It will also show them that there’s much more to Earth’s history than is written in the history books!

 

Characters: 

In this novel, we see more focus given to Shawn Hobbs with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  Given the amount of head hopping in his previous series, I would say there was a lot of improvement here.  Even better, Chris Kennedy didn’t sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology awesome.  With this change, Hobbs was flushed out, and I felt like I could relate to him as a person.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  Like his previous novels, I was helped by my time in the service, because Chris used his military service color this science fiction military thriller.  Here is a brief summary of the main character.

 

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs:  He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He got involved with the resistance and ends up leading a small band of disenfranchised troopers in a war against the occupying force.  These actions caught the attention of the aliens spying on humanity, and end with him being requested to lead humanities efforts to assist their new alien allies.

 

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!

 

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Sino American War, after China invaded Seattle as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  Immediately after the war ends, aliens make contact with Earth.  We find out that most of Earths mythologies are actually aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.

The premise was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  Also, again I’m no aviation savant, so I just went with how convincing the story was.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how Chris Kennedy executed it.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

 

World Building:

This is the first book in The Theogony Trilogy, and I’m already hooked.  Like in the previous novel in his Occupied Seattle Duology, this world was very flushed out.  Unlike before, this series takes the past the world as we know it and into one that’s simply amazing to think about!  The changes were believable, and there was no waving of the hands to address the realities of geopolitics at the international level.  There would be no panacea for the new world government, as each nation jockeyed for power.  Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and made his divergent path extremely plausible.  I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.

 

 

Description: 

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  Unlike his previous world, he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  There was never a place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which I enjoyed.  He was, alas, a little light on the details of what the various characters looked like.  And he went overboard on the nicknames, though it was an improvement over the duology.  Overall, I give Chris 5 out of 5 grenades in this category!

 

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novel, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, though that bastard Chris Kennedy kept me up all night because when I hit the 80%-mark I couldn’t stop.  But, I mean, who needs sleep right?  Like the previous duology, the cover was amazingly invocative.  It was a unit patch for the space fighter squadron.  I could definitely see this on some swag!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, especially the nicknames, even though the author laid it on a bit thick.  Again, with such a compelling story you won’t notice!  As for the military equipment, well it was like a Naval Aviators porno, the amount of details given but I was able to skim over these details so I could enjoy the action in this story.  As an additional plus, we got to play with his believable small unit tactics with the Ranger platoon and foreign Special Operations guys and gals that were ported into the unit manning the spaceship.  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering at his mental stability!  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Con Learning

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Since I recently mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to attend HonorCon this year, I thought I would throw up a blog about what I learned at RavenCon 2016. I wrote it immediately afterwards, then promptly lost in among my unorganized filing system. I’m now more organized and have a system, so hopefully this won’t happen again. No, this won’t happen again!

 

Since I want to attend again in 2017, obviously I had a great time at the Raven Con. I also learned a lot of useful stuff that I wrote about right after the Con ended. The Con seemed to be geared towards writers, with a ton of useful panels/classes that helped me immensely. They had everything from marketing in ‘The Age of Amazon’ to editing and world building. I took notes like I was back in college again, arm nearly falling off, and now I want to discuss my thoughts.

Unfortunately, with so many electronically inclined nerds in attendance, the hotel Wi-Fi was basically non-existent so I couldn’t write or edit from my DropBox account. Although, come to think of it, I hadn’t set that up yet. (Note to reader: DropBox is an amazing way to securely back up your files!) Moving right along, this conference was invigorating and I was definitely motivated to get back to finishing my novel. Just the kick in the pants I needed and it worked! Maybe I should find another to push me into finishing book three!

Originally my word count goal was 2,000 words a day, however, that isn’t always possible as life inevitably gets in the way. Hey, I am long winded but even I can’t stop adulting full time!! Without further ado, let me get to what I took away from my first conference.

 

SWAG: The bigger sellers, at least the ones who attended the Con, all seemed to think having things for giveaways at events and on your site are was a must. They had things like coffee cups, phone cases and t-shirts which they sold as supplemental income. It gave them prizes for promotional giveaways and generally just looked cool. As for my swag, I had a buddy make a graphic representation of the unit crest from my book and now we are checking on the legalities of using it. The legalities of art rights aren’t my thing, so I’m letting my editor handle that.  However, for anyone who has access to Ye Olde Facebook, I recommend chatting with the authors there.  The Listeners of the Dead Robots Society had some thoughts on the subject, contradictory to what the experts at RavenCon thought.  They basically suggest your money could be better spent with business card, then any extra cash put into spiffy covers and a professional webpage.

 

PRODUCTIVITY: I received some really great advice on increasing productivity and avoiding the dreaded writer’s block. Such advice was especially good for me as I occasionally get suffer from writer’s block. Well, maybe not blockage so much as my mind tends to wander to other stories and I get things mixed up. Then I have to spend time reorienting myself to the correct story so I can move forward. Basically they suggest that you always stop at a point where you know what scene you’re writing next – this keeps you from psyching yourself out. This makes a lot of sense, so I’ve been using it a lot.

 

BUSINESS CARDS: According to the powers that be, these are a must! Several authors asked for mine when I mentioned I was working on my second novel, but I had nothing to give. I wrote my information down on scrap paper, their convention programs and the back of their business cards, but all for naught. None followed through and reached out, likely because the things I wrote on were easily lost. A nice, clean business card could’ve prevented that and netted me valuable contacts and resources for the future. Instead I am left with a missed opportunity, though not a wasted one since I learned from it. I even received a lecture about these missed opportunities to spread the word about the Human Legion Universe. The anonymous author felt that my loss was SOLELY due to my lack of business cards filled with my contact information.  To be fair though, I didn’t follow through either, which I should’ve done and will do going forward.

 

EDITING: One of the biggest suggestions I came away with was not to edit mid-paragraph. Rather, they suggested waiting until the end of the novel before I went back and edited it. The presumption they were operating off of was that it was a waste of time since you don’t yet know what is important. When you fleshed out the more critical plot points, then you could more accurately target the errors. Also, fine tuning is a tedious process which will slow your word count. What I call ‘the machine gun method,’ where you use the time honored tradition of the ‘spray and pray.’ This is where you ‘spray’ the words on paper and ‘pray’ that the well of red ink dries before your editor is through with your story!!  If you want a good blog, written BY an editor for advice on such topic, click here and follow the link.

 

BOOK BLURBS: Some of the authors suggested making friends with some of the YouTube Book Bloggers to review your stuff. This would help you receive some initial critiques, allowing you to improve your text and raise visibility. This works because it spreads the word to your target audience, though you run the risk from bad reviews so send them final drafts that have been edited! Basically, anyone who has a voice that reaches your target audience should be approached about helping you.  Finding some way where you could help them in return wouldn’t hurt either!

 

INTERNET PRESENCE: According to just about every singe panelist at the convention, this was a must for life in today’s society. The experts in attendance recommended a focus on your blog on one or two topics/themes. This would help you practice your writing chops AND avoid doing the “Buy My Books” route favored by too many. Instead it was suggested that you provide other content to get readers in your door – while providing links to your books. One way of getting traffic to your blog is to write a list of interview questions for bigger authors and mail it to them. You would be asking them to respond so you could post on your blog. The benefit was that you get the association in a Google search, so a Stephen King interview means that your name and his could come up together in a Goggle Search. The benefit to the other author is that they get an open forum to control the narrative, while you receive some exposure. The mechanics of HOW you make sure to link the two isn’t my specialty, luckily I have ‘people’ to handle that aspect of things!!!  Another suggestion was to run contest on your blog where the prize is to have a secondary character in the book, named after you or you get to name some piece of equipment. Basically, fan involvement and connections. The fans get to be redshirt characters and participate in the creative process.  I’m unsure, and it wasn’t mentioned, of the legal considerations of using real people as characters in your novel and it is something I want to look into.  The people SAY they’re okay with things but you want to cover your backside for posterities sake.

 

WRITING GROUPS: The consensus was these groups are a mixed bag. They can be helpful, but you need to be wary of any groups which are more interested in ‘talking’ about being writers than actually ‘writing.’ Further, you can sometimes start to run into trouble as you get more serious about your writing since you might offend those for whom it is a hobby. Basically, if you are interested in pursuing writing as a career, join a group of like minded folk. If, however, writing is merely a private pleasure you should find a group with similar intent so that you can best meet each others needs. One thing they seemed to agree upon was that internet groups were not recommended. It was mostly about the lack of accountability in the way the groups were managed, but it is possible you could find an internet group that actually served its intended purpose, invalidating their cautionary tales. Like I said, they just felt that meeting in real time gives people more accountability for their actions.  While not a writing group, per say, I HAVE found the other WordPress bloggers to be encouraging so that might be an option.  Author Kim Chance has a blog where others can connect to find themselves critique partners which could be a route for you to consider.

 

HISTORICAL MINING: Finally, the various panels of authors felt that you should never forget that you shouldn’t forget to pull ideas for the future out of a shared knowledge of the past. Patterns repeat and can be adapted for futuristic space sagas. This is where my historian training could be a huge asset!! That, and my ability to research. While they didn’t cover this in relation to fantasy, or if they did I missed the panel as I focused on science fiction, the past could also serve as inspiration. If you doubt me, look up this wee phenomenon known as Game of Thrones! 😛

 

I know that this isn’t exactly profound, or even something that isn’t already known, I still figured I’d share it because it refreshed my own memories of the experience of attending RavenCon 2016! If you have any thoughts on these topics, feel free to comment below…. I look forward to hearing from you!

HonorCon 2016

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I was hoping to attend HonorCon this year… lots of good panels for the budding military science fiction writer, but it was sold out.

2016-08-07 23.30.42

Probably for the best, I hadn’t realize it would be $150 a head!!  My only Con experience was RavenCon and that was a more reasonable $50 a person to attend.  Naturally I assumed all Cons were about that cost.

Maybe 2017 will be my year!! 🙂  And who knows, maybe my first royalties can pay for the cost to attend!!!  Either way, I WILL be attending RavenCon again in 2017, it was too fun not too!

 

–> Authors Note:  The computer screen grab image was taken by J.R. Handley and is owned by him.  Anyone wishing to use them may do so, provided proper citation is used.

–> The RavenCon logo belongs solely to that fine organization, which I highly recommend you check out!  And if you are attending in 2017, shoot me a line and we can meet for liquid refreshments!  I have linked to their site above, so go take a gander at it!