Railroad: Volume 1: Rodger Dodger by Tonia Brown

BrownRailroadRodgerDodgerWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author via Audiobook Blast (thanks!).

Narrator: JoBe Cerny

Publisher: Tonia Brown (2014)

Length: 4 hours 11 minutes

Series: Book 1 Railroad!

Author’s Page

Rodger Dodger is a man with a past, a past he rather not have to explain. Hieronymous Dittmeyer is the creator of the fabulous train Sleipnir. It puts down tracts of it’s own, letting them travel wherever they wish. Dittmeyer recently lost his Security Specialist and he’s looking to hire a replacement. Dodger (aka Carpenter) was the only one foolish enough to answer the ad.

This book starts off a little slow, being a bit of an info dump on the fancy train and her occupants. Still, there was enough steampunk awesomeness there to keep me interested and I am very glad I continued on with this book. the story gets good, really good. I do believe I am now hooked on the series, which is awesome since there is something like a dozen of these books.

Professor Dittmeyer is something of a brilliant ditz, being one of those brainiac types that can get lost in the details of whatever he is focused on. He has a mechanical assistant he created that brings drinks and snacks when asked. Then there is the chief engineer and driver Ched. Now you might say Ched was a zombie, but only if you wanted to be subjected to his dry, cutting humor. He was one of my favorite characters, often being the one to cut to the heart of something.

There was really only 1 female character and we see her way at the end of the book. When she finally arrives on scene, the first thing we learn about her are her looks. Basically, she is a sexual object from the beginning. There are glimpses that she is more, but then back to her sexy looks. We had very little of her but I still hope the author chooses to do more with her and perhaps balance the gender ratio in future installments; tossing in a token estrogen is not enough.

The ending is set up perfectly for the next adventure and I am definitely looking forward to that. There are bigger story arcs to explore, and it appears each character has a few secrets that need uncovering.

The Narration: JoBe Cerny did a very good job. He was a great choice for the voice of Dodger, giving his character that gruff wild west wanderer voice. Also, I loved his voice for the undead Ched and the mechanical manservant.

What I Liked: Steampunk!; love the cover art; Ched and his cutting humor; the train Sliepnir; Dodger has to face some inner demons; set up for the next book.

What I Disliked: Only a single female.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

Sixth Dimension Audiobook Reviews

Eccentric Cowboy

Liverpool Connection by Elisabeth Marrion

MarrionLiverpoolConnectionWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author Audiobook Monthly (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Narrators: Nancy Peterson

Length: 6 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 2

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in a trilogy, The Night I Danced with Rommel being Book 1. This book can be read as a stand alone.

The story starts in 1926 in Ireland. Annie and her friends feel they need to emigrate to England to find work and a better life. At age 16, she arrives in Liverpool and starts off with relatives. Pretty soon she has found a sweet beau. Marriage and children follow. As WWII erupts through Europe, Annie and her family and friends are tested in ways none of them had anticipated. This story is based on the actual lives of the author’s ancestors, which makes it that much more poignant.

I really enjoyed Book 1 in this series, but I think I enjoyed this one just a smidge more. Maybe that is because this book references Hilde’s life from Book 1 from time to time and I can clearly see the parallels between Annie and Hilde. For both of these books, I really appreciate how the author simply tells the tales of the ladies during WWII without relying on drama. Life was a handful to start with and it doesn’t need extra drama to validate the characters.

One of the things I learned from this book was that the Irish did not have to participate in WWII. However, several of Annie’s family and friends (Irish) living in England decide to join up with the English forces. This caused a lot of grief for Annie’s family and some felt this was betraying their heritage. And those that joined the service weren’t limited to just the men. In England during WWII, women were also drafted into war service. The author does a great job of showing how suddenly one’s life can change during this time period. One moment you’re getting dressed, making tea, planning to go to work at the clinic or local grocery and the next your answering the mail and realizing that you have to report to the military for uniforms and training.

I highly recommend this book, and series, to folks who want a realistic view of noncombatants during WWII. Everyone was affected and it’s great to have books like these to show more than just the great battles and espionage.

Narration: Nancy Peterson did another excellent job, putting on the perfect Irish lilt for Annie and her family. I was really impressed with her range of character voices and I loved how much of the book was performed in an Irish accent.

What I Liked:  Such a realistic fiction; shows how severely lives of noncombatants were affected; educational while being entertaining; poignant; the cover art. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

What Others Think:

Historical Novel Society

Mary Ann Bernal

The Statement of Andrew Doran by Matthew Davenport

DavenportTheStatementOfAndrewDoranWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Shaun Toole

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Length: 6 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 Andrew Doran

Author’s Page

Dr. Andrew Doran is an anthropologist and a trouble shooter. The Nazis have stolen a powerful book, the Necronomicon, from the Miskatonic University and they are almost certainly planning wreckage and mayhem with it. His mission is to recapture the book. Along the way, there will be creatures of Void, temptations, the undead, and the French Resistance. Which will be his undoing?

Andrew Doran was an intriguing character to follow around. At first he comes off as a little stuffy and scholarly but then we see what he sees: creatures from the Void. I loved all the Lovecraftian stuff going on in this book, much of it centered around our main character. The Fishmen were particularly creepy. Obviously the fact that Andrew has been exposed to these types of things for sometime has made his outlook on life a little jaded. I really like that about him because he is about to get tossed from the relatively safe USA to the heart of Germany in search of a super evil book.

There is only 1 female character, Olivia, and if there was another female, she was in passing and I can’t recall if she had a name. Obviously, I would have liked more female characters since the ladies make up ~50% of the population. Olivia herself is OK. She’s a total sexkitten – scrumptious to look at, and the sexual object for a good chunk of her time on the page. Yet she isn’t totally useless. She doesn’t scream or faint too often and she gets to fire a gun and successfully run away. Still, more could have been done with her character.

The action scenes are well balanced with quieter moments where Andrew is reflecting on circumstances. Of course he has to worry about the Nazis, but then there are also the plans of the Traum Cult that stole the Necronomicon. Toss is concerns about being sold out by one of his boon companions, and Andrew has quite a lot on his mind. Overall, it is a solid start to the series. the mix of Lovecraftian creepy, action, and bigger picture save my soul stuff is great.

The Narration: Shaun Toole had absolutely awesome voices for the creepy Fishmen. I was really impressed with how he got that underwater gurgly voice and still be understandable. His German and French accents felt forced. While I could appreciate his effort, they didn’t work for me and definitely could use some improvement. That said, he was the perfect voice for Andrew Doran, being a mix of scholarly skepticism and decisive action.

What I Liked: Dark Lovecraftian creatures; a bit of WWII history; the hunt for the Necronomicon; the cover art; mysterious cult; the narrator’s voices for the Fishmen.

What I Disliked: Only 1 female; some of the narrator’s accents sounded forced.

Kushiel’s Dart – Part III

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

Hello everyone! Welcome to the read along of Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart. You can find the schedule HERE. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We also have a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs. Folks are always welcome to join us.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is your host. Pop over there and leave a link to your post in the comments so we can all visit you. Folks are also most welcome to answer any and all questions in the comments and join in the conversation.

Sorry I am a little late posting today. I had commitments yesterday all day and was dead tired when I got home.

Chapters 19-26 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

Yep, plenty of intrigue! Honestly, it wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th read that I understood most of the politics. Still, there are some big things I recall from my first read – like Melisande borrowing Phedre for a night as a goodbye present to Baudoin. Obviously, there is something going on behind the scenes there.

So at the end of the trial, Baudoin and his mother, the Lioness of Azalle, have been sentenced to death. Meanwhile the husband and daughter have been exiled. This really made me think of that poem that has been referenced several times – the Exile’s Lament? First, I grew up moving around the country and when I first read this the longest I have ever stayed in one place was 6 years. So I didn’t really get it. Now that I have been in one place, a most beloved place, for over a decade, I have an idea of what it would be like to exiled from a home that has seeped into your bones and blood.

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?

Ah! He risked so much for just a piece of the puzzle. Since I have read this many times, I know where this goes. However this book left such an impression with me the first time I read it. I remember thinking that he would probably sit through a long tattooing session and have his marque completed. Since he is so scholarly and has a knack for genealogy and languages, he could go one to be be a scholar in Delaunay’s household. Perhaps he could strike out on his own in the future serving as a translator at the palace.

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?

A bit of both. She has learned not to underestimate how far a patron will go. But she has also learned that she can and will heal from such a thing. Right now Phedre is young and a little cocky. She can read people well, but not totally. I think that is one of the most important things she learned here – not to be cocky.

4)  Speaking of Phedre and trouble, what do you make of the ‘relationship’ building between her and Melisande?

Sexy!

OK, it will be more than that but I love the mix of brains and sex appeal and political intrigue surrounding Melisande. Even Delaunay doesn’t know what her game is. Phedre doesn’t seem particularly interested in Melisande’s politics though. ;)

Other Tidbits

3 whole days to choose your method of execution! Ugh! I think I would pick something and then want it done and to not have to wait 3 days.

While the Lioness and Baudoin Trevalion were traitors to the crown, I liked how the country was allowed to quietly mourn the fall of House Trevalion.

So glad Phedre and Alcuin got horse riding lessons, and not just because it was practical. Horses are fun in and of themselves.

I like how Phedre reflects back about how young she was then and how some of her actions were petty, like her treatment towards Guy. Sigh…. I really liked Guy.

Participating Bloggers:

Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures by TW Brown

BrownThatGhoulAvaWhere I Got It: Won a copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Celia Aurora de Blas

Publisher: Todd Brown (2013)

Length: 2 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 That Ghoul Ava

Author’s Page

Ava is a ghoul and didn’t know it at first. Indeed, life sucked and her human life ended one night. The next day she awoke and the changes were already done. Sunlight burned like a laser. Her sense of smell and hearing were intense. Teeth and claws appeared and her skin was a uniform grey. Oh, and the dead smelled divinely tasty.

This first book contains two short stories about Ava and her side kick Lisa. They work fine together as one happens shortly after the other chronologically. I so enjoyed this book! Ava is the next thing in urban fantasy. She has a sharp it and a snarky tongue. I repeatedly found myself snort laughing at the dark humor.

Ava has no grief over eating the naughty or the dead and I like this about her. After all, she has now entered a seedier world where the questionable and evil roam free. She doesn’t get all emotional over it; she simply deals with it, often with her shark mouth.

Lisa is a great sidekick because she is so very human. She’s messed up, fell in with a bad crowd. Yet she has maintained her sweetness and Ava is rather protective of this. Together, they are a well balanced team.

I especially like that Ava isn’t your typical Causcasian heroine. Hooray for diversity in fiction! Toss in the equivalent of a psychic gang boss for the area, a few vampires, and the run-of-the-mill street punks, and you have a very entertaining story!

The Narration: Celia Aurora de Blas was awesome! I absolutely loved her as Ava. She was so fun and I really felt she brought the humor to life in her performance.

What I Liked: Ghouls!; plenty of snarky humor; Ava is so capable and doesn’t cry about it; the cover art; Lisa is an excellent sidekick; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I so loved this book!

What Others Think:

D. R. Johnson

The Bookie Monster

What Does the Fluffy Red Fox Say?

Robin Hood: The History & Folklore of the English Legend by Jesse Harasta & Charles River Editors

CharlesRiverEditorsRobinHoodWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!).

Narrator: Jack Chekijian

Publisher: Charles River Editors (2015)

Length: 1 hour 10 minutes

Author’s Page

The legends of Robin Hood arose in Medieval times and were carried forth in the Renaissance and modernized by Hollywood. This book takes us back to the earliest stories of Robin Hood, the changes the tales underwent in the Renaissance, and the enduring traits that have survived into modern retellings.

Here is another educational book from Charles River Editors. I had always assumed that Robin Hood was a fictional legend. However, there may indeed have been a man that the earliest stories were based on. It’s still debated in history circles. In addition, the earliest tales had a much more practical, gruff man at the center. He wasn’t the Lionheart loving, giving to poor hero that we all think of today.

In fact, many of the attributes that modern retellings include didn’t come about until the late Medieval, or early Renaissance time period. For instance, there were no Friars in Medieval England, so the character Friar Tuck obviously didn’t occur in the earliest tales. Also, the Renaissance Tudors felt the need to elevate Robin Hood and managed to ‘research’ a noble lineage for the man.

Indeed, this book was an eye opener for me. Granted, I had never really looked into Robin Hood’s history. I think this book would be great for other folks for have previously only had a passing interest.

The Narration: Once again, Jack Chekijian did a great job. I like that he has the right mix of excitement for the subject and professorial air to keep us all grounded. 

What I Liked: Educational and entertaining!; the book explores the history of the man and the tales; it’s interesting to see how the stories changed over time; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this one!

The Earp Brothers: Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp by Charles River Editors

CharlesRiverEditorsTheEarpBrothersWhere I Got It: Review copy from Punch Audio (thanks!).

Narrator: Alex Hyde-White

Publisher: Charles River Editors (2015)

Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Author’s Page

Many folks know the Earp brothers from the gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. Wyatt Earp in particular is seen as an icon of the Wild West. However, this book gives you so much more than that. Each of the Earp brothers was a flawed human, leading interesting lives. There’s law breaking, brothels, drug use, affairs and multiple wives, gambling, and the rough & tough enforcement of the law.

Charles River Editors has put together yet another fascinating read. I knew very little about the Earp brothers before diving into this book and now feel that I can hold a decent conversation about them. This book starts off with their family back east and shows how the brothers grew up, went separate ways, and then ended up together again in AZ. The story doesn’t stop there and the book continues the tale of each brother, following them until each one passes out of history.

The Earp’s flaws and sometimes outright lawlessness isn’t sugar coated or glossed over in this book. Indeed, we get to know the factual story for each man, including all their documented indiscretions. I especially like that when the facts become a bit muddied the book is honest about questionable or conflicting historical sources.

My only criticism is that sometimes I would lose track of which brother the story was focused on at any one time. Often, the book would start a section or perhaps a paragraph with the full name (i.e. Wyatt Earp) but then just refer to the man as Earp the rest of the section. So if you missed the full name, you could easily think the story was still focused on whichever brother before. I wish the book had stuck with first names when referring to the Earp brothers for much of the book instead of going with Earp, Earp, and Earp for like 80% of the book. As each brother dies off, it becomes easier to follow which brother is doing what. I expect this wouldn’t be such an issue with a print or ebook edition as you can quickly flip back and visually check which brother you are reading about at any given time.

Overall, this was a very educational book for the uninitiated. I really liked that the gunfight at Tombstone did not make up the bulk of the tale, as there was so much more to the Earp brothers. The book ends by giving a list of various movies made based on the Earps, nearly all focused on the fight in Tombstone.

The Narration: Alex Hyde-White was a good choice for this book. I really felt that he enjoyed narrating the book as much as I enjoyed listening to it. His appreciation for the subject matter came through.  

What I Liked: Educational and entertaining!; The Earps were flawed humans and this book doesn’t flinch from telling it like it is; the gunfight in Tombstone is covered but not the focus of the book; when historical references are conflicting or questionable, this book let’s the reader know that.

What I Disliked: Quite often all 3 brothers are referred to by their last name, so several times I lost track of which Earp brother the book was referring to.