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: 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!

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?

Kushiel’s Dart – Part II

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, Allie from Tethyan Books 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.

Chapters 9-18 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

The first time I read this book, I was a little worried for the dove. After all, animal sacrifice has been around for a long time and is not unheard of in epic fantasy fiction. So I was quite pleased when it was more of a catch and release situation.

Many cultures and religions require children to make such a life long decision at an early age. As an example, consider the Catholic religion and how early a child can have their dedication ceremony. Most folks who go through such a ceremony still turn out to be OK people.

With that said, I still think it is unfair to ask a kid or teen to make such a sincere, life-long dedication (to the Catholic church, or Naamah, or some other religion/philosophy) at such a young age. After all, few of us know much about life at such an age, even if we believed differently then. For this book, the dedication ceremony is supported by the culture and religion and is not out of place.

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 love the sex ed in this book. I really wish our society, or at least my parents, had been as open minded and educated when I was a teenager. I especially like the Showing as it shows sex to be an act of joy, beauty, love, and respect. Honesty, I got most of my sex ed as a teen from the Benny Hill show(which my parents found quite amusing and now I wonder why), which is none of those things.

I definitely would have appreciated 2 years of book learning on the subject. Sex ed in the US public school systems is mostly pictures of diseased genitals and abstinence as the only form of birth control. There was no instruction on the mechanics of the act, and definitely no conversation on what a beautiful, joyful thing it can be.

Luckily, today’s kids have a plethora of sex ed available, like Laci Green.

3) Hyacinthe has some neat theories about Delauney’s past.  What is your favorite theory?

Well, with Delaunay, I always lean towards the romantic theories. He strikes me as a man who loves deeply, even if he has to hide those feelings. In this book and later in the series, we learn a bit more about Delaunay’s past. But for Delaunay’s back story, you may have to check out the anthology Unfettered in which a short story by Jacqueline Carey is included.

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?

When I first read this book, I had never heard of a signale, or safe word. So I totally expected her to use it on her first assignation. However, she didn’t, nor did she use it with the pincer fanatic, nor with the riding crop lady. This speaks to Phedre’s stubbornness. Later in the book, we learn that which yields is not weak.

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?

Ah. Alcuin! In many ways, even though he is slightly older than Phedre, he is so much younger in the ways of love. As Phedre noted, he did not grow up in one of the Houses and so was ignorant of so much that Phedre took for granted. Also, I think he feels he has a great debt towards Delaunay for rescuing him as a boy. At first, I don’t think he enjoyed the assignations as much. However, his sex ed instructor Cecile did borrow him for a night and introduce him to an experienced lady that left him dreamy eyed and dopey for a day or two.

Phedre is super special, being Kushiel’s chosen. She is almost always going to be in a class of her own when it comes to bedroom play. So I don’t think this will drive Alcuin and Phedre apart. After all, Alcuin and much of Terre D’Ange are totally accepting of her sexual preferences.

Other Tidbits

The old marquiste always gives me a laugh! How can he do quality work with Phedre squirming on the tattoo table?

It does not surprise me that Phedre abhors cleaning. ;)

The first few encounters with Melisandre still give me shivers – such beauty and intelligence rolled together!

Just because I am curious, where is everyone from? I believe we have quite the international crowd for this read along. I hale from the sticks of northern New Mexico, USA.

Participating Bloggers:

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

A Time of Demons: Before the End by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

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

Narrator: Wendy Tremont King

Publisher: Self published (2014)

Length: 18 hours 4 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Time of Demons

Author’s Page

In St. Louis, MO, the Graystones are musicians playing at a local bar and taking care of their elderly aunt and uncle. Cassandra and Johnny lost their parents and siblings in a fire when they were kids and ever since then, Cassandra has been plagued with a few supernatural powers: she can sense when someone is about to die, and (more recently) she can see demons (often disguised as humans). But now things are getting scary with more and more demons about and freak storms and accidents that force the Graystones and their friends on the road.

This book starts off pretty slow and stays that way for much of the story. On one hand, we get to know the main characters, especially Cassandra, pretty well. On the other hand, the long spaces between the bits of action were a bit tiring to get through as the characters are simply rehashing events and feelings we have already heard about. I place this book firmly in Christian Fiction first and paranormal fantasy fiction second. The only non-Christians in this book are the demons. While I understand this is a fiction based on the idea of Revelation, I was surprised that none of our non-demon characters were of a different religion, nor did any of our characters discuss any friends or family that were of another religious persuasion. I found this odd since our characters are musicians, fortune tellers, and circus clowns, all professions that at least rub elbows with a variety of folks. Plus St. Louis is a fairly large city with plenty happening.

Since there was lack of variety in religious backgrounds, all of our good guys were on the same page. This meant that the only conflict was between our heroes and the demons and that was pretty straight forward. This lack of differences meant no real conflict among our characters and this added to the dullness of the book; they were all on the same page. This also means that the character growth is limited to their religious take on the events they live through. The most interesting character was the blood demon Rayner and he is interesting because he has both internal conflict and conflict with his fellow demons as well as the humans going on. Unfortunately, his page time with readers is limited.

In short, if you enjoy Revelation or Christian fiction stories, then this might be right up your alley. There is some character development for our heroes and they do have to go through one travesty after another as the world approaches Revelation. However, for me, this book didn’t work. I like more diversity, which leads to situations where the characters face not only conflict with the forces of evil, but internal conflict and conflict with their friends and allies.

The Narration: Wendy King did a great job narrating this book. It is a quality performance with plenty of individual, distinct voices for the characters. She also has some great creepy voices for the demons. 

What I Liked: Cover art; great narration; the demon Rayner was the most interesting character.

What I Disliked: This is a pretty slow book; not much diversity; the conflict is simple and one-dimensional.

What Others Think:

Book Lover’s Life

Damnation Books

She Never Slept

Kushiel’s Dart – Part I

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, I am your host. If you post, leave a link 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.

Chapters 1-8 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

The few similarities between Elua’s stories and Phedre are not something I had thought on until I had read the book a few times. As with all great persons of history or religion, I think most people can relate to some of the stories or situations surrounding that person. Phedre’s parents gave her up and she has to find her own way. She is already gathering friends and useful acquaintances.

I really like starting with Phedre’s childhood. Here we have this alternative France and I found this an excellent way to get steeped in the mystery and culture of Terre D’ange without feeling like we have a big info dump.

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?

Ah, Hyacinthe. He’s such an interesting and colorful character. When I first read this, I felt that their friendship started off on an equal basis. Two kids stealing pies in the market for a laugh and a treat. Later, in this section, I can see how Hyacinthe might gain more from the relationship than Phedre. She has eyes and ears in the Court of Night Blooming Flowers. Some of that info might be useful for him. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil how things go for these two. He is one of the most interesting characters and I look forward to reading what others think of him.

Alas, I don’t have a particular fortune telling story. I grew up with a mix of Christian Science and ouija boards, dream readings, palm readings, crystal healings, and tarot cards. Today, I can’t say I believe in any of it, but it makes for fun fiction reading.

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?

Well, I would love to try a glass of joie. Mead will have to suffice. I love masques and how they can have a freeing effect on the wearer and those around the person. Amongst all that beauty and frivolity, we had Delaunay looking a bit serious here and there. So man connections can be made at such an event.

Alas, I have never been to such a party. Though I have many a midwinter’s eve curled up with this book to vicariously experience such a fete.

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

I think if things had gone as we have seen them so far, that Alcuin and Phedre would have rich, full lives that also happen to include collecting info for Delaunay. Eventually, the two might grow bored with sitting on the side lines, so Delaunay could take on more pupils for Alcuin and Phedre to train. While I thought all this was a possibility the first time I read it, alas, such was just a pretty fantasy.

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

Ah, such a tough question! I am inquisitive by nature and often feel that secrets do more damage than good. I am also a scientist, so I love digging into the minutiae. But all knowledge? Well, that means you would have to to know everyone’s dirty secrets and that might make it very hard to have friends. If you pursue the knowledge, there is a cost, and occasionally a great prize to be had.

Other Tidbits

Ever since I read this book, I can’t help but check people’s eyes for Kushiel’s Dart.

I absolutely love the language of this book the lush descriptions, and the not quite courtly manner of Phedre, even in her inner most thoughts.

Just for fun, does anyone have a Terre D’Ange related tattoo? I’m pretty tempted to get one.

I am listening to the audio version of this book and it is excellent.

Participating Bloggers:

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

Magic Factory by James Livingood

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

Narrator: Michael Gilboe

Publisher: Paperbackward (2015)

Length: 52 minutes

Author’s Page

What if magic was industrialized? If you could head over to the factory office and order up your own piece of magic, would you? Those who work at the magic factory have to deal with many of the same hazards that are found in other factories. Accidents do happen on the assembly line.

This is a great example of humor in story telling. We have a setting, the characters, the events – all of which the characters take seriously. But us readers can sit back and enjoy the humor. Told through a character who takes his factory job very seriously, one who has great pride in this abilities and precision, I quickly got caught up in the story.

The piece of magic being assembled happens to be an angel. Today is the new guy’s first day on the assembly line and mistakes do happen. What does a mismanufactored angle do? Haha! Well, give this story a read and see for yourself.

I really enjoyed the mix of modern day quality assurance terms and the fantastical. The manufacturing of magic, in this case, doesn’t take the fun or mystery out of it. Definitely a worthwhile read!

The Narration: Michael Gilboe was a delight to listen to. I really enjoyed his voice of the somewhat egotistical perfectionist. He also had a good voice for the angel, who plays an important role even if it is a minor one. 

What I Liked: Mix of magic and line assembly talk; there’s a bit of a message to the story that was a nice twist at the end; the main character’s story arc; the cover art.

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