Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2009)

Length: 27 hours 52 minutes

Series: Book 2 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: It is possible to read this book as a stand alone as relevant events from Book 1 are reflected upon in enough detail for a reader of Book 2 to grasp the point. However, I highly recommend reading Book 1 as it is just so damn good!

We return once again to the alternate history of Terre D’Ange (France) and the surrounding lands. Book 2 picks up several months after Book 1 ended. Melisande Sharhizai is still at large. However, very early in Book 2 our heroine Phedre receives a challenge of sorts from Melisande – her sangoire cloak is returned to her via a carrier from Caerdicca Unitas (Italy) and more specifically La Serenissima (Venice). Phedre truly believes that Terre D’Ange and the queen (Ysandre) are in danger so long as Melisande is free. The challenge sets in motion events that will change Phedre’s life forever.

Here we have another masterfully crafted book from Jacqueline Carey. Sometimes sequels aren’t near as good as the first in the series but this series holds it’s own weight as it progresses. I have read this book several times now and this is my second time listening to it. First, I love how the characters continue to grow and how the world continues to expand as Phedre’s travels take her further afield. Second, Melisande continues to make a most worthy opponent. Phedre definitely has her work cut out for her in this book!

Once again, we are told the story through Phedre’s eyes. She was raised in the Court of the Night Blooming flowers and being subservient and unseen (expect maybe as a pretty plaything) comes easily to her. She polished off her training in Anafiel Delaunay’s house where she learned history, politics, languages, and how to think in a rational manner. Both served her well in Book 1 and they do so again in Book 2. Yet this journey she comes to understand her powers a bit more – her will power to live, her ability to forgive, her strength to deny Melisande. That which yields, is not always weak (a quote from Kushiel’s Dart).

There were two interesting themes that twined throughout the novel: loyalty and grief. Again and again, we see Phedre and other characters having to figure out where their loyalties really lie – with queen and country? To the deities they serve? To family? I think Joscelin struggled the most with this one. Grief made an interesting thread throughout the book. What is a mortal’s grief compared to the grief of a goddess? How do you mourn the passing of something not of a physical nature, such as friendship or love? These were some big ideas to contemplate even as my mind was fully engaged in the day to day decisions of the characters.

This time through, I listened to the book as part of a read along. It was a great experience and let me see things about the book I had not seen before. For instance, I had not really noticed before that Phedre is, on occasion, a little bit of a snob. Now I see it in small things and I see how it ties to her upbringing and culture. This in turn let’s me see it in other Terre D’Ange characters. And this leads to a nuanced part of the plot of this book – how Terre D’Ange has been a bit xenophobic towards other cultures for too long and it has cost them in the larger arena of politics. This book (and the entire series) is awesome because you can reread it and take something new away each time.

As with Kushiel’s Dart, there is also plenty of sex and it is told in just as much detail as the rest of the story. You may blush a bit. The sex scenes serve to show certain aspects of the characters involved or to move the plot forward. I never feel that space is wasted on these scenes. Plus, some of them are rather educational in and of themselves. ;)

As with Book 1, I was completely swept up into Phedre’s world once again. Jacqueline Carey makes great use of languages to round out a culture. If you’re a bit of a linguistics geek, you will love this aspect of the series. It’s a rich world, a devilishly intriguing plot, and characters you will never forget. Reading it the 7th time was just as good as reading it the first time.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik is once again the voice of Phedre, and a great fit she is too! Phedre’s voice is how we experience the story and, hence, Phedre’s emotions come through the loudest. Flosnik did a great job imbuing the characters with emotions, but especially, Phedre. My heart broke and soared for her multiple times throughout the tale! The linguistics keep piling up in this series and Flosnik met the challenge magnificnetly.

What I Liked: The cover art; Phedre, of course; yeah! more travels!; pirates!; interesting exploration of grief; Joscelin and Phedre have to work on their relationship; Melisande is the evil that you love to hate; fantastic narration; the ending was satisfying but left the door open for Book 3.

What I Disliked: Nothing –  I adore this book.

What Others Think:


Megan Cashman

Fantasy Book Review

SF Site


Fantasy Erotica by Derendrea

DerendreaFantasyEroticaWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Roberto Scarlato

Publisher: Derendrea Books (2015)

Length: 5 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

This book contains two short erotica stories: Valkyrie (urban fantasy) and Forgotten (science fiction)

Valkyrie: On a dark and snowy night, Jason comes across an injured woman, but she’s not exactly a woman. She’s got these large, bat-like wings. He’s really not too sure what she is or how she came to be injured but he’s an all-around nice guy. So he takes her in and nurses her back to health. The story then fast-forwards a number of years to when Val (which is short for her full name, Valkyrie) and Jason are living together in a major city in an apartment. The sexual tension between Jason and Val is very palpable and yet they have never completed an act to fulfill those needs. I felt this point of the story was unlikely as we have two full grown people living together for a number of years that are clearly attracted to each other and not attached to anyone else.

Setting that aside, the action really picks up in the second half of the story. Val doesn’t recall who she was before she was injured and left alone that snowy night. But all that is about to be revealed as she meets others of the night. Unfortunately for Jason, he becomes tainted and little more than a beast. Val desperately tries to save him. I didn’t know how this story would end. The author set it up perfectly to give a tragic ending or a fist-pumping save-the-day ending. The suspense at the end was nail biting. The tale is definitely Val’s. She’s the one the story focuses on and the other characters are just there to bounce stuff off of. Even Jason was sadly pretty one dimensional.

This book is more urban fantasy with erotica elements than erotica first and foremost. There’s plenty of sexual tension throughout the book but the sex doesn’t happen until the last quarter. There’s a minor sex scene and then a major love scene (and it is love between the two characters). The second scene was quite lovely and also smoking hot. I really enjoyed this book because we got hooked on the character Val long before we get to the sexy bits. I also enjoy the urban fantasy setting and the challenges for the characters such a setting brings.

Forgotten: In a scifi universe, Lifea is your basic house slave. She’s been a slave for some years and sees to menial chores aboard the spaceship. She wasn’t always a slave and she still has that spark that dreams and hopes for better days. Then, one day the slaver’s ship is attacked. She really doesn’t want to be captured or killed. She ends up in a storage room with this kind of mechanized space suit she found earlier. She was drawn to it then and now it seems this is her only option for hiding, and perhaps escape. Once inside the suit, it chats her up, much to her surprise. Tcai is a kind of ghost in the shell, a being that tied his essence to the suit many years ago. However, an organic being is needed to wear the suit and have it operate.

The two escape, but it’s not exactly to the ideal location. A deserted planet with lots of sand becomes their new foe to defeat. During that time, they learn more of each other. The last quarter of the book has flashbacks to Tcai’s previous existence as the two meet their latest struggle. I was completely taken in by this story and was concerned for the characters. I do believe this is the best story by Derendrea I have read so far. This story is definitely more scifi than erotica, though there are indeed steamy, very sensual, detailed love scenes. If you’re into scifi romance, then check this book out!

I received a copy of this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Roberto Scarlato did a pretty good job with this book. He has a rich masculine voice for the male characters and decent feminine voices for the lady characters. He didn’t balk at the love scenes. I especially liked his voice for one of the valkyries in the first story and for Tcai in the second story.  

What I Liked: We get tied to the characters before we get to the sexy bits; the cover art; definitely enjoyed the SFF backgrounds for the two stories; the love scenes were about sensuality and connecting for the most part; really, really enjoyed Forgotten all around.

What I Disliked: In Valkyrie, I would have liked Jason to have a little more personality; I found it hard to believe Jason and Val had lived together for years and not acted on their obvious attraction for each other.

Giveaway & Interview: Marc Johnson, Author of The Passage of Hellsfire Series

JohnsonCatalystFolks, please welcome Marc Johnson, author of The Passage of Hellsfire series, to the blog today. We chat about young kid Marc, Leonardo’s Flying Maching, actress Laura Harris, and plenty more. Also, thanks to Marc, we have two GIVEAWAYS below – print books (for US shipping) and ebooks (for International)! Don’t miss those at the bottom of the post.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I don’t believe that reality is that important in fiction. Every day and every second, people experience reality and its mundane trappings and extreme boredom. Fiction is a nice escape from it. That said, I do sprinkle in realty in my own work. Adds a sense of realism to it and keeps it grounded. It’s also something that people can relate to if they can’t relate to the magic, adventure, and life or death situations.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years and they’ve not been particularly difficult. I choose not to have to have difficult jobs, which for me would be mentally challenging jobs not physically challenging ones. That way, while I’m working I can think about my writing or any other thing I’m interested in that challenges me. If I wrote for my day job or actually had a challenging job, it’d probably make my writing suffer.

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhich ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Can’t say that there is. There’s plenty of books I’ve not read yet that I wish I had. Slowly making my way through some of those. Just wish they were cheaper on my Kindle.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

If I could own something, it would be Leonardo DaVinci’s Flying Machine. I’ve always wanted to fly and it just looks cool. Plus, it would remind me of my favorite Voyager episode.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

When it comes to movies, I would say reboots in the 80s were fantastic. If we’re talking about words on a page, I would say today I don’t much care for them. It’s not because they don’t have interesting ideas, but more because everyone tries to make the retelling “dark” and “edgy,” not to mention violent and graphic.

That said, I did enjoy Wicked. But those stories that retell or reboot the classics without making them dark, edgy, gritty, or sexualizing them are rare. Not that I’m a prude, but doing that doesn’t add to the story and makes it lose focus of what the story was about.

JohnsonReawakeningIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Warning: An extreme case of pride.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

As a kid, I was a pain in the ass. I had quite the mouth on me and an extremely sharp mind. Those parts of me haven’t changed. I was also very hopeful for the world and for people. That part’s long gone.

In any case, I did envision myself being a writer, among other things. I have a lot of stories I want to get out and plan on everything from books to short stories to film to comics to television. I want to do it all!

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I once met Laura Harris as I was getting meat from my local butcher. She was my butcher, in fact, and I told her that she once looked like the actress from 24, Dead Like Me, and The Faculty. She told me she was! Never expected to meet an actor as I was buying meat. She was pretty low key and cool, and far more attractive in person.

Sadly, no one has ever gushed over my work to me. That’s all right. It would be extremely awkward if it ever did happened.

JohnsonCatalystCatalyst book blurb:

For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace.

Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.

Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands.

Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power—power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.

In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn…

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhat Once Was One book blurb: 

Lead by the dark wizard, Premier, the kingdom of Alexandria was almost overrun by the foul creatures from the Wastelands. With the help of his friends and neighboring kingdoms, Hellsfire was able to defeat him, but only at the cost of his mentor.

Hellsfire is now a wizard, but he must finish what he started by hunting down Premier and retrieving the Book of Shazul. He must venture deep into the Wastelands, bypassing his way through thousands of creatures bent on killing him.

Beating in the heart of the Wastelands, is something far more dangerous than Premier or his beasts waiting for Hellsfire. It will force Hellsfire to make a devastating choice—a choice that will have repercussions not only for the Wastelands and Northern Shala, but for the entire land and the one he loves the most.

What once was one, will then be two, and never again be as whole…

JohnsonReawakeningReawakening book blurb:

To undo a mistake made a thousand years in the past, the wizard Hellsfire used his magic to bring down the Great Barrier that once divided the northern and southern lands. In doing so, he nearly brought war to his own homeland, and he afflicted the love of his life, Princess Krystal of Alexandria, with a potent and deadly curse.

Since then, Hellsfire has been working in Tyree with its Elemental Council, to rebuild its war-torn land and find a way to break Krystal’s curse. Now Krystal’s time is running out. As the princess fights for her life, Hellsfire learns that the wizard responsible for the curse—his old enemy Premier—is heading to the Burning Sands to steal the mysterious Jewel of Dakara.

If Hellsfire can capture Premier and learn the secret of the curse, he can save Krystal. But the Jewel of Dakara holds its own deadly secrets, and the hunt will take Hellsfire farther than he ever imagined, and cost him more than he bargained for.

The past is never gone nor buried…

Places to Find Marc Johnson






Folks, Marc has generously offered up two giveaways. 1) Open to US only consisting of both Catalyst and What Once Was One in print and Reawakening in ebook, as it’s only available as that for now. 2) Open internationally, winner will receive all 3 books in ebook format via email. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Are you USA or international? 2) What piece of art would you like to own? 3) Leave a way to contact you (email preferred). Contest ends October 27th, 2015, midnight.

Rafflecopter for USA Shipping Address (Print books)

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Rafflecopter for International (ebooks)

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Jeff Hays, Versatile Narrator

ForbesDeadLuckyOffer up the warmest welcome for Jeff Hays. I have enjoyed listening to several books he has narrated, including M. R. Forbes’s Ghosts & Magic series (which is freaking awesome!). It’s a great pleasure to have Jeff on the blog today as we chat about TV shows, challenging accents, cosplay, and much more. Interested in the US/UK AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY? Then scroll to the bottom of the post.

1) If you could be an extra on a period piece (Outlander, Spartacus, etc.) what would it be?

Peaky Blinders. If you’re asking what kind of extra, obviously I’d want to be one of the other gangsters.

2) If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Space alien. Then I’d want to look at all his gear!

3) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Neal Barrett Jr. I’ve worked on two of his books, and I’d like to do the rest. He was absolutely brilliant, and I could talk to him about writing, his work in particular, and philosophical stuff because it’s pretty clear to me we share a lot of the same unpopular views.

PiccirilliThrust4) If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Neal Barrett Jr.’s Aldair series. I’ve never been so wrapped up, or surprised by the discoveries and surprises in a story. The real beauty of these mysteries is that the answers are all obvious, the clues are scattered around in plain sight, but because of Neal’s ability to really put the reader into the mind of Aldair, we feel the impact of his discoveries far more than one should expect.

5) How does modern pop culture influence your work as a voice actor?

First of all, music, TV, movies, and video games are all great sources when it comes to finding voices, melodies, sound effects and inspiration. The varieties are literally endless. Since I can remember, which is about 3 years old or so, I’ve been a parrot. I hear things, I find them entertaining or intriguing, I try to imitate them with my voice, and if I find it difficult, it becomes a challenge and I keep at it. I especially imitate things that irritate me, such as radio commercials or overly sappy acting, and then try to imitate them for fun. I learn a lot when my emotions are stirred up by a sound I’m parroting because I compare the feelings I’m having and the feelings I know that sound is trying to evoke. I then try to find out where the sound is going wrong and figure out what I can do to fix it and make it more effective.

Actors in the myriad forms of media around us inspire me particularly. Most of the actors that live in my head and get cast in this role or another also have a specific actor associated with them. But, even though I attempt to mimic that living actor as I picture them, my impersonations still aren’t completely accurate. As I develop the actor inside my head associated with a specific influential actor, tendencies begin to emerge in their performance related more to decisions I make according to the text and sounds that I tend towards out of preference rather than adherence to an impersonation, so everyone in the troupe inside my head starts out as an homage to an actor Or personality that I like, but ends up having their own identity and style.

RobertsVikingWarrior6) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to voice acting?

I consider myself fortunate when it comes to “jobs.” By that I mean, I haven’t had many, so picking out the worst one makes me feel a bit ungrateful. I would have to say working for my parents managing rental property produces the most unpleasant work memories. I did not like being responsible for the living situations of other people. Thankless work, and the worst of it came from dealing with people who had their rent paid for by the government. Lots of plumbing (uuuuuuuuuuuggggghhhhhhh), cleaning, electric work (not that unpleasant actually), painting white walls white. I listened to a lot more audio books back then…

This job does not compare with voice-acting. It was actual work. Voice-acting is play that I get paid for… Except for marketing.

ConneelyWitchForHire7) More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, and audiobook, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend?

Of course, everything is going digital. I still pop in a blu-ray now and then, or an Xbox game once in a millennium, but for the most part we’re moving away from physical media. It saves a lot of shelf space. More importantly, the price of media is plummeting. This will allow those who really love and obsess over particular stories or fictional worlds to dive deeper into them, and experience them in several ways. In the future, I see particularly successful fictional worlds developing entire production studios that produce content solely for those worlds. Due to this digital age, artists, including myself, are becoming more and more versatile, able to work effectively and use principles they’ve learned from their preferred medium and apply them to others, communicate more easily with other artists in different mediums, and work in more tightly knit teams in order to make these worlds that much more real. Not only will audiences be better able to choose their favorite medium through which to experience these popular fictional worlds, but these mediums are constantly blending, and new mediums that we’ve never even conceived outside of sci-fi speculation will begin to emerge. Video games are a prime example of this principle. They require skills from every other medium that came before: modeling, writing, video, sound-efffects, music, acting, etc.

8) Have you ever done a cosplay of a character from an audiobook you narrated?

As a matter of fact I have ;)

9) If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Will Answer Difficult Questions Honestly

MenapaceHairOfTheBitch10) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Deborah Morgan (Dexter), Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones, haven’t read the books, sorry), Sean Connery (Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL), The Joker (The Mark Hamil one), Genie (Aladdin). Now that’s a fuckin party.

11) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Not sure what’s the most geeky, but the most recent one in memory was which iteration of Star Trek is the best. I argued for Next Generation. Picard is the man.

12) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I literally just finished “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain. The most difficult audio book I’ve ever produced, but I love how it came out and I’m really excited for people to listen. Also, I begin production on M.R. Forbes’s “Tears of Blood Series” at the beginning of October. This is his interesting take on high-fantasy, and it really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. By popular demand, I will be narrating in an Irish accent, which is my FAVORITE accent, and I will be using many different UK accents for the very large number of characters throughout the series. This will really leave me open to criticism from discerning listeners and other narrators, so I look forward to the challenge.

Places to Stalk Jeff Hays






Jeff is generously offering up 10 audiobooks from his Audible catalog, US or UK, which means 10 winners! You can enter the giveaway by doing the Rafflecopter thing below or answering the following in the comments: 1) What fictional characters would you like to have a drink with? 2) Leave a way for me to contact you (email preferred). Giveaway ends October 25th, 2015  midnight.

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Song Bird by Larry Weiner

WeinerSongBirdWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrators:  Kelli O’Hara, Ed Asner, Shirley Jones, Tom Dheere – For a complete list of narrators/performers, click HERE

Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America (2011)

Length: 1 hour 36 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in the same future universe as the much enjoyed Anne Manx series, rises this new tale. Maureen Barnett, a once famous singer and performer, is now lucky to be performing at a smokey dive. She’s constantly arguing with her teenage daughter, Holly, who she pretty much ignored as a kid as she focused on her career. But now she desperately wants that familial connection. Then Amelia Storm walks into her life telling her a fantastical tale of a song that grants the singer premonitions. Of course, Maureen doesn’t believe her. Then her daughter goes missing and she’s willing to give anything a try to get her back, including counting on the recently retired police officer Henry Powell.

This story didn’t have near as much scifi flair as the Anne Manx series that I adore but it was still quite enjoyable. The dialogue was crisp and full of small jokes for the reader to catch and chuckle at. The characters were fun and interesting. Maureen really steals the show in this story. She’s got issues. She’s a bit of a diva, but a diva who had a breakdown not too long ago and realized that her baby daughter was nearly all grown up and she didn’t know her at all. So she takes these small singing jobs at little restaurants, bars, and nightclubs (partly because she’s still paralyzed by large crowds, but also so she can stay in one place and be a part of Holly’s life). She’s not perfect but she is trying.

The rest of the characters have their flaws too and each plays off the other and that adds to the both the plot and the humor. Holly has a lot of anger towards her mom (and probably rightly so) but she’s also being a bit of a spoiled brat. So I didn’t feel too bad for her when things started to go awry and she went missing. Henry is bitter about essentially being forced into retirement but he’s still got something to give to society. Amelia floats into the story as either our savior with her magical song or as the crack pot that might still incidentally save the day. It’s a great combination of character traits divvied up among these engaging characters. There is some light adult humor bantered around which should be fine for most kids and a family car trip. It did bring out the teen in me, leaving me sniggering a few times.

The plot started off pretty simple. Strained relationship between mother and daughter, then a missing daughter, plus that magical song. It’s a solid start to a story. Once Henry (who is now a private investigator) gets pulled into the story, the plot really starts to move along and we get a few twists. I have to admit, I did not see the ending coming. I was pleasantly surprised by who did what and why. Another fine addition to the RRCA catalog!

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  The audio performance was of the same great quality as we have come to know and expect from the Anne Manx series. The dialogue comes through clearly with the background sound effects and/or music never drowning it out. This particular story has snippets of song throughout and those snippets were performed to the same high standard. O’Hara’s performance of Maureen when she was having her nightmarish premonitions was very well done. Think about how hard it is to get across to a listener that a character is asleep having a bad dream. I really enjoyed Jones’s performance in the big reveal scene. She kept in character while also showing this new side. Asner was great as both disgruntled cop and love-smitten retiree. Kevin Crawley was the voice of Jeff (Holly’s boyfriend) and I loved his voice as he fawned over Maureen Barnett. All around, another great performance!

What I Liked:  Excellent narration/audio production; lovely cover art; a fun, engaging story; crisp, quick humor; a little adult humor; a surprise ending.

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

What Others Think:

SFF Audio

Captain James Hook & the Curse of Peter Pan by Jeremiah Kleckner & Jeremy Marshall

KlecknerMarshallCptJamesHookTheCurseOfPeterPanWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrator: David Stifel

Publisher: JeremiahKleckner JeremyMarshall (2015)

Length: 4 hours 56 minutes

Series: Book 1 Captain James Hook

Kleckner’s Page      Marshall’s Page                    

This is the story of how young bookish James Hoodkins became the wicked pirate Captain Hook. It’s a tale full of tricks, escapes, defeats, captures, treasure, Never Never Land, and lost love. After giving this book a listen, I, too, wanted to hunt Peter Pan down and tie him to the main mast.

The story starts off in Port Royal in the Caribbean, probably in the 1600s or 1700s. At first, it reads a bit like a historical fiction, which I enjoyed. Young James is a scholarly kid and much more into books than into sword fighting or sailing. His mother quite enjoys telling him fantastical tales right before bedtime or during his bouts of illness. So, of course, when Peter Pan makes his first appearance in James’s life, he has no problem believing.

James’s father is not the coddling sort and makes a final decision, against the wishes of both wife and son, to take James on his next sailing venture. James’s best friend will be going with him, so at least he has that. James makes a  sweet farewell to his friend (and perhaps more than friend) Emily. As you might imagine, the venture doesn’t go as planned and little by little we see how the quiet, timid, sweet James Hoodkins turns into the bold, wretched, determined Captain Hook.

There’s death and romance, sword fights and alligators, pirate treasure and the English Navy. The fantasy elements are firmly grounded in events that could have really happened in our world. This lent a gravity to the story that made me appreciate it all the more. I read Barrie’s original Peter Pan novel sometime ago. I enjoyed it, though it was written for its age and contained touches of racism and sexism. It was very refreshing to have all the awesome bits of the tale without the disappointing bits in this fascinating retelling.

There are only two female characters in this tale but the authors write them well. We only get a few glimpses of James’s mom but she is her own character. We see much more of Emily and she has even more personality. Both women leave an indelible mark on the man who becomes Captain Hook.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator (via Audiobook Blast) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  David Stifel did an excellent job bringing this story to life. Over the course of the book, James goes from a pretty mellow kid to a hardened pirate. Stifel hardened the character’s voice as the tale went along and that was well done! He also had this great voice for Peter Pan being a youngish, mostly oblivious voice. His female character voices were believable.

What I Liked:  A great retelling of a classic; a villain’s origin story!; starts off like a historical fiction; great cover art; great narration; the development of Cpt. Hook; the ending leaves room for a sequel.

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

What Others Think:

The Gal in the Blue Mask

Fantasy of the Silver Dragon


Kushiel’s Avatar Read Along! The Schedule

Claudie snoozing with a very good  book.

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

Everyone! We are continuing to explore Jacqueline Carey’s D’Angeline Cycle with Book 3, Kushiel’s Avatar. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us. If you aren’t already on the weekly email list (for discussion questions) then just leave a comment asking to be added. Our first post date will be October 11th. So you have some time to find a copy of the book and read the first section.

The read alongs for Book 1 (Kushiel’s Dart) and Book 2 (Kushiel’s Chosen) were so excellent. I have read these books many times and I was surprised by how much more I gleaned by reading these books with a group. So I very excited to be continuing on with Kushiel’s Avatar.

Many, many thanks to Lynn of  Lynn’s Book Blog for putting together the schedule. She graciously offered to help me out when health and farm life got to be too much. Setting up the schedule can be the hardest part of a read along, so a round of applause to her! Thanks Lynn!

Kushiel’s  Avatar – The Schedule

Week 1: Chapters 1-13 11th October – Lisa (Over the effing rainbow)
Week 2: Chapters 14-25 – 18th October – Allie (Tethyan books)
Week 3: Chapters 26-37 – 25th October – Emily (Emma Wolf)
Week 4: Chapters 38-49 – 1st November – Susan (Dab of Darkness)
Week 5: Chapters 50-61 – 8th November – Lynn (Lynn’s books)
Week 6: Chapters 62-73 – 15th November – Emily (Emma Wolf)
Week 7: Chapters 74-82 – 22nd November – Susan (Dab of Darkness)
Week 8: Chapters 83-END – 29th November – Allie (Tethyan books)

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S AVATAR in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).