An Uncollected Death by Meg Wolfe

Publisher: Wolfe Johnson (2014)

Length: 373 Pages

Series: Book 1 The Charlotte Anthony Mysteries

Author’s Page

Set in Indiana, Charlotte Anthony is looking at having to downsize from her lake-side house to a small apartment in nearby Elm Grove. Her daughter is off in Paris continuing her education. She’s recently become unemployed since the magazine she’s edited for has had to close down. Luckily, her friend Helene has a sister who needs an editor for a semi-autobiographical work. Unfortunately, Charlotte finds her new employer Olivia dead on the first day with plenty of questions to be answered.

It took some effort to get into this book. I liked that Charlotte was going through this major shift in her life. She had become comfortable and then her stability is gone and she has to pare down her life. Yet the paring down part was mostly long lists of things in her kitchen or clothes closet. That was so tedious I almost gave up on the book. The story went on and on about minimalist lifestyle and how to achieve it, why it’s good for you, etc. It was really harped on and while I like the idea, I didn’t need a step by step tutorial on how to get there.

I liked Helene and even Olivia, who dies early on but we have bits and pieces of her life through these notebooks she left behind. Charlotte has been tasked with finding all these notebooks in Olivia’s cluttered house and then editing them into a publishable book. There are several long info drops when it comes to most of the characters. It’s like I was reading the authors own detailed description notes. This made for boring reading at times.

I did enjoy the treasure hunt for Olivia’s notebooks. She would fill each one, hide it (because she had a disapproving and controlling husband), and begin a new one, starting with a clue as to where she hid the previous one. So while Charlotte and Helene (and sometimes Helene’s photography friend) hunt for these notebooks, someone else keeps coming in at odd hours and stealing small items. Olivia’s estranged son Donovan is the obvious culprit but there’s more to it (which I liked).

Much of the book is focused on Charlotte as she goes through this midlife crisis. The murder mystery is secondary. I wanted to like Charlotte but at times the story was really angsty and that kept putting me off. I wanted to sympathize with Charlotte, but I also felt that she repeatedly sold herself short. She has skills, connections, and resources. She’s not that bad off yet she felt like her life was falling into the gutter. She went from upper middle class to average middle class. It felt like a great fall to her but for many folks, her final landing place would be a step up. So the angsty stuff made it difficult to connect with Charlotte.

In the end, I wanted more mystery. I would have enjoyed reading more about Olivia’s life as an author in Paris during and after WWII. The romance for Charlotte was sweet but also an extremely slow burn. I did like the cat that adopts her.

What I Liked: Olivia’s hidden journals; Helene’s character; Charlotte’s core character; the final wrap up; Charlotte’s new cat friend.

What I Disliked: Lots of long info drops; the long, long lists of Charlotte’s stuff (just not that interesting); the often angsty bits.

The After by David Hernandez

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: David Hernandez (2017)

Length: 1 hour 36 minutes

Author’s Page

Peter has an obsession with solving this ancient question – what happens after death? From his childhood when he loses his beloved pet, he has been driven to find the answer. Now he just might have found the key to unlocking this secret.

Dude, bro, dude, bro…. These two words were over used in this work.

The basic premise is an interesting one. Of course most of us would like an answer as to what happens after death. Peter has become a hazard to those around him with his quest to find the answer. Using his software engineering skills, he created a gizmo that can capture a few seconds of info on the after life. He needs more data, more subjects, and that becomes a slippery slope. From animal experiments to questionable uses for the elderly, Peter blows past these limits that most of humanity would hold to. The mechanics of how the gizmo worked were left very vague and I would have liked that tightened up a bit. I don’t need schematics but I need more than ‘Hey, look I invented this thing last night in the basement and I bet it’ll answer this big, huge question all of humanity has!’

Besides the over use of drunken college slang between Peter and his best friend Brian, the story is written in a screen play format which came across as a bit clunky in the audiobook format. Perhaps this works better visually as a text edition. For me, it made the story feel a bit disjointed. One scene didn’t flow smoothly into the next.

Peter’s girlfriend, Vanessa, is a bit clingy and seems to be just filler. I wasn’t impressed with her character and I think she may have been the only female character… There may have been some other incidental female, but if so, I don’t recall her. As usual, I would have liked a better gender balance and if you can’t do that, than make your single lady count.

Peter’s experiments eventually do come back to bite him and I liked that part of the book. It had a little bit of a karmic feel to it: you get what you put out there and Peter’s getting it.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job. My one quibble is that his voice from Vanessa sometimes came off as cartoony and really whiny. He did have a great voice for Peter, being able to take that voice from sounding like kid Peter, to teen Peter, to adult Peter. He did really well with the over use of Dude and Bro, never sounding like he was rolling his eyes each time he had to utter these terms one more time.

What I Liked: Basic premise held promise; Peter’s obsession and how he breaks one limit after another; the karmic ending.

What I Disliked: One scene didn’t flow easily into another; the gizmo was so vague; the dialogue was repetitive; Vanessa was just filler.

Bookish Giveaway & Review: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham (2017)

Length: 6 hours 46 minutes

Author’s Page

Set on Cape Cod island just after July 4th, plenty of folks are heading home after the holiday weekend. Terrorists put an end to their fun by cutting the island off from the mainland killing several and threatening more damage. On top of this, Hurricane Chad is about to hit land and hit it hard.

This was a fast-paced fun action read. There’s Marcus, a CIA operative, who’s been following a suspicious crew and ended up saving Seth’s life. Seth has a key to the terrorists’s plans. Meanwhile, disgraced ex-police detective Sara has noticed Marcus skulking around and the two have to decide whether to work together on this major threat or work independently. Then there’s Joe Doyle who made a very questionable decision to steal from his boss, but he got more than he bargained for and now he’s on the run for his life. With the island cut off, he decides to hide in a little tucked away place, taking the elderly Anne hostage.

I love big weather events and how they impact humans, so the hurricane element of this story was a lot of fun for me. People have to prepare for it. Well, the smart people prepare for it. Hopefully the authorities prepare for it. It was interesting to see how having the island completely cut off affected this aspect of the story. Now the folks on the island can’t expect supplies and recovery crews to come in right after the storm. So they have to adjust, stretching out the supplies they do have to last longer.

My favorite character in this tale was Anne. She’s in her 80s and has weathered many a storm on the island. She’s gone the shelters before and found them wanting so some years ago she made the decision to wait out any storm at home. She’s smart enough to prepare her home for the fury of Mother Nature and has laid in supplies and boarded up windows. But she wasn’t expecting a desperate Joe to show up at her door. I like her response to this situation though I felt that Joe’s ineptness was a bit overplayed. He’s in his mid 30s and yet he acts like he’s in his 20s. Anne treated him like a wayward kid that just needed some guidance, but I think there comes an age where very few of us can pull off being simply a wayward kid who just needs a little push in the right direction.

The back and forth between Sara and Marcus was OK. I liked Sara’s backstory but I found her acceptance of Marcus (who she just witness kill someone with a silencer) to be a little too quick. I don’t recall anyone at any time during the story independently verifying Marcus’s credentials. Seth was a bumbling idiot who was used by the terrorists but he helped move the plot forward.

The plot pulls in many threads. The US President made a promise 3 years ago to spend the weekend at a certain key supporter’s house on the very weekend of the attack. Then there’s anthrax, which may or may not be more of problem with the hurricane coming in. Then a lost valuable that belonged to a murdered priest turns up. The mastermind behind it all has a personal vendetta with a Cape Cod family. All these little strings got pulled into the overall plot and some of them mattered and some of them didn’t go anywhere at all. for instance, I would have liked a line or two to wrap up the ending for the murdered priest.

All together, it was a fun action flick with some interesting characters. I would like to see Sara and Marcus team up again. I hope Anne gets a chance to have a little vacation in Bermuda.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Greg Hernandez was OK. While he was good with some emotions (excitement, surprise, anger), he didn’t really have distinct character voices. I had to pay close attention during dialogue sections to keep track of who said what. His female voices weren’t particularly feminine. His pacing was good and the volume level was steady all the way through.

What I Liked: Hurricane Chad; Anne was my favorite character; how the island was cut off; Sara and Marcus working together.

What I Disliked: It was hard to think of Joe as some wayward kid that just got in over his head; anthrax seems dated; some threads weren’t neatly tied off.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Andrew Cunningham:

I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including  25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

​I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon

Synopsis of Deadly Shore:

It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Greg Hernandez:

For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer.  I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau.  I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House.  I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years.  At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States.  The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period.  They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

Twitter ~ ACX

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift card. Open internationally! Ends June 28th, 2017.
Deadly Shore Giveaway

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction & Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Wicked Run Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 29 minutes

Editor’s Page

This anthology focuses on addiction, mostly drug and alcohol addiction. They range from science fiction to horror to the paranormal. The editor opens with a short foreword about addiction and his hopes that this anthology will provide some insight into the struggle of addicts and hopefully bring about some compassion for those suffering from addiction. Even if this anthology doesn’t do that for you, it’s still quite entertaining, insightful, riveting, sometimes disgusting, usually disturbing, and chock full of examples of bad decisions made.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Melinda and this guy, our unnamed narrator of this story, meet at a bar. They go back to her place and have sex, sort of. Then he wakes up out in the street being drowned in a rainwater puddle. A specter of Steven Carver, his former AA sponsor, reminds him of his failures. The timeline jumps around a little as our alcohol-sodden character tries to muddle through the night. What’s real, what’s not? What’s in the present and what’s in the past? This tale did a great job of showing the inner confusion of someone deep in the clutches of alcoholism. There’s this scene where this guy is burying his daughter’s dead cat and he cries, not for the cat, not for his daughter, but for himself and stuff that happened during his own childhood. This scene really brought home how this character has so much stuff that’s left unresolved in his life. 5/5

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

Set in a future 2080s Patterson Park in Baltimore, the new drug of choice is Atlas. Heavy users like to inject it directly into their genitals, giving them a long-lasting incredible high. Perry Samson is still obsessed with his ex-wife Serina. He watches her from afar and thinks of her when he masturbates. He needs another high but his junkie friend Loshi thinks it’s high time Perry be the one to score and share. The author shows us the keen edge of depravity in this story. The Atlas junkies are willing to sell their flesh for a hit and some cash. Meanwhile, the rich who can afford the delicacy of well prepared human meat enjoy it in swanky restaurants. It reminded me of high school and college students who would sell plasma to go buy some pot. This was my favorite story in the bunch easily. I love the future SF setting (there’s TVs spread throughout the park showing The Wire reruns with all the hopeful scenes cut out) and yet we still have this drug culture, one in which there’s those who suffer and those who profit from it. 6/5

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

Terra Snyder is in Narcotics Anonymous, living with her parents and trying to get her life back together. Then her former boyfriend Brett unexpectedly shows up. He’s in the Work Release Program while in prison. Against her better judgement, she goes with him to Russell’s place where they used to buy their drugs and hangout. The author shows us step by step how easy it is for someone to be roped back into the users lifestyle. The point of view bounces back and forth from Terra to her dad Gregory throughout the story. Gregory, Heather, and their daughter Terra (somewhat reluctantly) have been working on this urban farm in the middle of Detroit. Heather is one of those always upbeat, optimistic types who would never give up on her kid. Gregory, while not a perpetual optimist, would do anything to keep his daughter safe. This tale really showed how the blame game turns into an excuse to either shuck responsibility for past bad deeds or to commit more bad deeds. 5/5

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This bit of flash fiction dealt with a different kind of addiction, but I feel the spirit of it (exploring a new-to-you high) could be applied to any new addiction. Julia, 39, went to a party, buzz wearing off, so she’s looking to try something new. This guy Toussaint bites off the tip of his pinky finger. Julia thinks it’s a trick. However, as the week goes on Julia notices bits missing from her friends. This little horror flick ended a bit too soon for me. I felt there was more for Julia to tell us. 4/5

Last Call by John FD Taff

Ted is in AA but he keeps falling off the wagon, going from group to group. His sponsor Sam reluctantly sends him to a liquor store with a special card, telling him to ask for the last bottle he will ever need. The store owner gives him a little lecture about choosing life or death. The unlabeled bottle is referred to as a shortcut, which I thought was a great way to show later on that there is no shortcut when it comes to dealing with addiction. The story leaps forward 5 years here, 10 years there, etc., showing how Ted’s life has changed and yet how this shortcut bottle is still tucked away, hiding in his closet. The ending is left dangling and I would have liked a line or two to close it out. It would have made the story more poignant or hopeful depending on how things ended. 4/5

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is headed from Phoenix to Aurora, IL to hunt down her long-lost father, Desmond Gabriel. She can see demons and her online paranormal activities, where she goes by Jenny Halloween, have finally given her a hint as to where her father is. Her father, a homeless man, was mentioned on a paranormal chat site, Torment of the Fallen. She meets a short man that goes by Cheddar near the supposedly haunted house where her father sometimes crashes. I enjoyed this story because it had that urban fantasy feel to it where demons were being investigated and a lost person would be found, hopefully. If this story wasn’t in an anthology that focused on addiction, I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on those elements of the story. I hope we see more of Jenny Halloween in the future. 5/5

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III

Jeremy, 26, is bleeding from his urethra. Perhaps the hepatitis is getting to him though he asks his lover Eliza if she bit him. He hasn’t told her about his hepatitis yet. At work, it gets worse so he goes to a clinic where he runs into Nick, a former junkie friend. He has one confrontation after another and things get worse and worse for him. Let me just whisper it to you – spiders. Yep. This was easily the most creeptastic and scary story of the anthology! I don’t even have a penis or hepatitis and it made me shudder. 5/5

Returns by Jack Ketchum

In this short tale, Jill Hunt’s husband’s spirit returns from the dead. She’s been drinking since he was run over by a cab. He thinks he’s returned to help Jill get past his death and not succumb to alcoholism. She can see and hear him but she thinks it’s all in her head. This little story was rather sad as it involved a pet and this failed relationship. I felt that things were left a bit unresolved as I wanted to know what ultimately happened to Jill or her husband’s spirit. 4/5

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job with this anthology. There was a lot of ground to cover, that’s for sure! His female voices were pretty good. Melinda and Terra sounded like women. For the most part, he had distinct characters though in the story Garden of Fiends he occasionally sounded a bit mechanical and the characters weren’t distinct (I had to follow closely the dialogue between Brett and Terra to keep straight who said what). In the entire book, I only caught a single mispronounced word – conflagration. It just happens to be one of my favorite words and that’s why the butchering of it stood out. The pacing and volume were all well done. Over all, a well-done narration.

What I Liked: The variety of substances abused; the different genres; the various tones; spiders!; genital drugs!; great cover art; pretty good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing, it was an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining anthology.

What Others Think:

Grim Reader Reviews

Horror After Dark

The Horror Bookshelf

Horror Novel Reviews

Book Den

Lee Murray

Bark’s Book Nonsense

Giveaway & Review: Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 5 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 3 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Mac Faraday, a retired cop and the unexpected inheritor of a famed mystery writer’s fortune, decides to delve into a cold case file when a long-lost painting comes into his possession. With the help of his girlfriend Archie, his dog Gnarly, and his half-brother cop David, they may be able to untangle this cold case. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, lawyer Joshua Thornton has agreed to look into yet a different cold case, one that nearly everyone assumes was committed by a serial killer who has been behind bars for years. Detective Cameron believes him and offer her aid along with a bit of mutual affection.

I really enjoyed this addition to the Faraday/Thornton murder mystery series. It was great seeing how Joshua’s and Cameron’s relationship got started. Cameron’s cat Irving was also a lot of fun and Joshua’s initial response to this ‘detective’ cat was amusing. Honestly, I love how forward Cameron is about everything. She makes no excuses or apologies for her cat and she gets her job done even if it means pissing off management. It’s great that she was the first to show real interest in starting a relationship.

I’ve read several Lauren Carr mysteries by now and I was guessing that the two cold cases were probably related somehow but the link between the two was not immediately obvious and for a good chunk of the tale, I thought that perhaps this book would be the odd ball. No worries! It’s not and I enjoyed how the author tied the two together.

In this particular book, Mac reveals that he’d like a little more out of his relationship with Archie and he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t sleep over, or why he’s not invited to sleep over at her place. After all, they have a fully affectionate relationship otherwise. The answer at the end of the book was amusing and I’m glad these two worked it out.

The murder mysteries themselves were very interesting. Initially, I was more interested in Joshua’s since it involved a serial killer, who is in prison, making a heartfelt plea to the lawyer to look into this particular Jane Doe, swearing he had nothing to do with her. That definitely piqued my interest. Faraday’s mystery took me a little longer to get interested in simply because it looked like so much was known about it all those years ago. However, it turns out that it’s not that simple. There’s plenty there for Mac and Archie to piece together.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger was a good fit for this tale. I liked his voice for Cameron quite a bit as he managed to sound like a mature yet playful woman who knows her mind. I also liked his voice for Mac, sounding decisive. He was great with the humor as well. I did feel his accent for Greta could have used some polishing.

What I Liked: Cold case murders; how Joshua & Cameron got together; Irving’s need for company all the time; Gnarly’s love of beach towels; famous artwork; a serial killer’s plea.

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

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: Hound’s Bite by E. J. Stevens

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrators: Melanie A. Mason, Anthony A. Bowling

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (2017)

Length: 7 hours

Series: Book 5 Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 5 in the series, I feel that one could enjoy it as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger has returned from the Unseelie Faerie Court after learning some earth-shattering news about her parentage. But there’s no time to rest and deal with that because the Lord of the Hunt is about to hit Harborsmouth. She must call upon her allies, her latest training, and her friends to combat the Wild Hunt or suffer the loss of her beloved city.

This was a gripping read! I really enjoyed this installment in the series. First, there’s the great characters and they’re all written so well in this book, with great lines and actions that give them depth. Then there’s more than one crisis Ivy has to deal with, so it’s not just one long meandering battle with the Wild Hunt. Lastly, there are consequences and some of them are a bit rough. I like it when my urban fantasy drags talons across some of the major characters.

Jinx is still a big part of Ivy’s life and I’m very glad these two friends were able to deal with their recent falling out. And, yes, Jinx still has her crossbow. She and Forneus (who is a demon and a lawyer) are still together. Then there’s Torn, the cat sidhe, who flirts with both Ivy and Jinx, which really irritates both Forneus and Ceff (Ivy’s kelpie lord boyfriend). Then toss in Sparky, Ivy’s adopted demon child. Father Michael gets called in to babysit while the heroes work on a game plan to deal with Hearn, Lord of the Hunt.

Yet before they get too far along, Sparky goes missing. Now a powerful witch, Kaye, has a plan to save Harborsmouth from the Wild Hunt but things are going disastrously wrong there. Ivy and her friends will need the help of the mysterious Circle before they can regroup and get back to dealing with Hearn. I loved this part of the book. It was a bit of a detour from the big event but I really enjoyed how it added to several of the characters. Ariadne, a witchling who is in training to Kaye, really gets to be in the spotlight for part of it. Then there’s Ivy’s new Faerie and Wisp powers to put on display. Also the beetles! The next time I get something stuck in my throat, I will be looking for beetles.

So then we get past that and allies must be gathered for the big fight. Now the thing about the Wild Hunt is that if a hound of the Wild Hunt bites you, you turn into a hound yourself and you’re bound to serve the Lord of the Hunt. Armor! Bring me my armor! Obviously, things don’t go well for everyone involved and Ivy faces the very real danger of losing people she loves to the Wild Hunt.

I was very satisfied with the ending. Not everyone got everything they wanted but there’s still enough good stuff that people can pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. I especially like how far the Pooka came in this series, despite their choice of condom hats.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Once again, Melanie Mason narrates the bulk of this story, being the perfect voice for Ivy. I also love her Jinx voice. Anthony Bowling has all the male character lines and he does a great job with Torn (a flirtatious snot) and Father Michael (a sincere man). Most of the time, Bowling’s lines are inserted smoothly into the recording but other times it definitely felt like these two narrators weren’t in the same room during the recording. There were a few sound effects mixed in, and for the most part they worked. There were a few that I wasn’t sure what they were until the story told me what they were.

What I Liked: Great cover art; no rest for the wicked or the good; the segment dealing with Sparky’s abduction; the beetles!; the very real consequences of being bitten by a Hound; the Pookas; the way things ended.

What I Disliked: I would like the audio production to be a touch smoother, but this is a minor quibble and didn’t detour me from enjoying this book.

Synopsis of Hound’s Bite:

Ivy Granger thought she left the worst of Mab’s creations behind when she escaped Faerie. She thought wrong.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ivy has unleashed a powerful horde of Unseelie beasts upon her city, turning her homecoming into a potential slaughter of innocents. Now Ivy must gather her allies to fight a reputedly unstoppable force – The Wild Hunt.

Will the training Ivy received in her father’s court be enough to save her city, or will Harborsmouth be forced to kneel before the Lord of the Hunt? She is willing to risk her own life, but some sacrifices come at a cost worse than death. When an ally is bitten by one of The Wild Hunt’s hounds, Ivy must face the possibility that winning this battle may mean killing the one person she has come to love most.

Hound’s Bite is the fifth full-length novel in the award-winning, best-selling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens. The world of Ivy Granger, including the Ivy Granger Psychic Detective series and Hunters’ Guild series, is filled with action, mystery, magic, dark humor, quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, flirtatious demons, sarcastic gargoyles, sexy shifters, temperamental witches, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

Audible ~ Amazon

Author Info

E.J. Stevens is the author of fourteen works of speculative fiction, including the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys teaching writing workshops, dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and on her Blog.

GIVEAWAY!!!

To celebrate the Hound’s Bite audiobook release and Audiobook Month, we are giving away a HUGE Ivy Granger Prize Pack, including an Ivy Granger button, pen, flashlight keychain, custom earbuds, a Hound’s Bite mini poster signed by the author, and a Passport to the World of Ivy Granger signed by the author and the audiobook narrators!  This giveaway is open to the US/UK/CA.  Giveaway begins June 1, 2017 and ends June 30, 2017.  Entry is by Rafflecopter form.

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The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

Narrator: Dick Hill

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2008)

Length: 13 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 1 Harry Bosch

Author’s Page

Set in Los Angeles in perhaps the early 1990s, Harry Bosch is on the case of a dead man found in a drainage pipe. In fact, he identifies the victim, having served with him in Vietnam. Internal strife in the LAPD and the involvement of the FBI make life hard for Harry.

While this book did have many cliched plot points, I still enjoyed it. In fact, I think the tried & tested cliches made it easy to slip into the book. Harry has a chip on his shoulder and not much going on outside of his job. He smokes, doesn’t eat healthy, and drinks beer. He seems to be in trouble all the time. Either his lieutenant is yelling at him or the Internal Affairs office is threatening him. Now that his old Vietnam buddy, Billy Meadows, has been found dead, his PTSD is stirred up.

This story is rather light on female characters and when we do get an interesting one, Elizabeth Wish with the FBI, she’s quickly turned into a romantic interest. Still, she has her secrets and this gave her a little depth. I hope the author can do more with her character in future books.

Despite the typical plot points for this genre, Harry stands out for a few things. His mother was a prostitute who was murdered. Harry doesn’t hate prostitutes and seems to have a protective streak in general for women. He’s got a lovely house because a movie company paid him handsomely to use his name in a movie that was loosely based on a case he was involved in. So I really liked that he’s this older cop (early 40s) whose got this interesting past and knows that he truly wants to be in law enforcement.

The mystery itself was interesting for the most part, though there were times I felt that Harry or another character did something out of character just to up the drama or move the plot forward. In general, it’s a decent start to a series and I will probably check out more books by this author.

The Narration: Dick Hill is a favorite go-to narrator for me. He did a good job here, keeping all the male characters distinct. His female characters could use more femininity. I especially liked his ability to portray Harry’s emotions.

What I Liked: It was easy to slip into the story; Harry is a fully formed character with a past; Elizabeth Wish has potential to become a major character; the mystery of dead Billy Meadows.

What I Disliked: Plenty of cliches made much of this book predictable; few female characters; does Elizabeth have to be a romantic interest so soon? Sigh…

What Others Think:

Mike Finn’s Fiction

Mystery File

Simon McDonald

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Giveaway & Review: Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 6 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 1 Lovers in Crime Mysteries

Author’s Page

The body of adult entertainment star Cherry Pickens turns up in the basement of Joshua Thornton’s cousin. It’s on Cameron Gates’s beat, throwing the two into a joint investigation. West Virginia-Pennsylvania state lines blur as they dig into this mystery.

While I have already ‘met’ Cameron and Jonathan in a later mystery (Kill and Run, Book 1 of Thorny Rose Mysteries), it was great to go back to this tale and meet them afresh. The tale starts off with a body in an old non-functioning freezer in a basement along with a bomb that throws some chaos into the mix. Turns out Cherry Pickens once lived in the area and disappeared years ago after the murder of teen Angie Sullivan. Discovery of Cherry’s body brings up old mysteries, feuds, and questions. I loved the layered mysteries in this book, as is such the case with other Carr mysteries I have enjoyed.

I have to say something about Cameron’s cat Irving. He is both a delight and a distraction. While I love that Irving is such a big part of Cameron’s life, I don’t get her taking him on investigations. She’s a police detective and good at it but having a ride along cat seems a bit silly. Other than that, I love how Irving isn’t too sure about Jonathan being around so much. The skunk scenes were great.

Jonathan’s teen son, Donny, had a great role in this story. He got to play undercover info gatherer at one point and there’s an older woman who’s willing to teach him some interesting things. However, both Cameron and Jonathan don’t approve of this woman.

Speaking of older women, there are two senior citizen ladies who have a bit of a brawl. In this scene they are actually rolling around on the floor yelling, punching, pulling hair, etc. I did find this to be a bit overkill and what might have been comedic turned into silly nonsense. This one scene sticks with me so well because it is simply ridiculous and doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the book. With that said, it does illustrate to great effect the distaste these two ladies have for each other. Their long-time feud becomes the center of the story.

On the side, the romance between Cameron and Jonathan is on. It feels like it has been going on for some time, so I wonder if this book is interconnected to yet an earlier series. Either way, it’s nice to have a touch of romance in the tale that doesn’t eclipse the murder mystery.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger did a pretty good job with this story. His voices for Jonathan and Cameron were good and he does a really good old lady voice as well. I liked his teen voice for Donny too. I did feel that some of his female voices could use a touch more femininity but I can also hear that he is giving it his best.

What I Liked: Layered murder mystery; the state lines issue; there’s a bomb in the basement!; an old feud finally put to rest.

What I Disliked: Why take your cat on investigation?; that rolling around on the floor brawl scene – too silly!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Understanding the Stars by Xela Culletto

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Narrator: Lori Prince

Publisher: Xela Culletto (2017)

Length: 5 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page

This X-files-like tale is set in Colorado. Alex Blackwood is just about to graduate high school when her life takes an unexpected turn. Ronan drops a stunning revelation on her involving three alien races, the CIA, and some secret surveillance. In the midst of all this, Alex’s dad is suffering from cancer and she has her pizza delivery job as well.

Ronan was the most interesting character for me. He’s a human descended from a group of humans that left Earth ages ago to co-habitate with an alien race (Salurians? My spelling is probably off since this was the audiobook version). I would have liked to get to know him more in this book and what his life in space is like. Now the Salurians are back and have been watching Earthers for a few decades, simply learning about current cultures and such.

Now the creepy part is that Ronan was assigned to watch Alex since she was 14 (she’s 18 at this point in the story) and this involves an implant in her. Yep. He knows every time she went to the bathroom, had the stomach flu, or suffered growing pains. On his part, I can see the insta-love that we stumble into later. I didn’t really care for the insta-love stuff, but Alex seemed pretty happy with it. Setting aside the beginning of the romance, it later grows into something meaningful as these two develop a friendship.

The Salurians need to leave ahead of schedule because the aggressive Kema’dor are on their way. Initially, they are portrayed as these violent tech thieves. Later on, Alex meets some of them and has to form her own opinion. Much later in the story, a third alien race (the Meddas – again, spelling?) come into play. I really liked that not all aliens are created the same and each race has their own ethics and goals.

I did feel that Alex was a little too easy going about these bigger revelations but freaked out a bit over small things (like the first image she saw of a Kema’dor). This didn’t work for me in terms of character development but it did move the plot along swiftly. I did like that not everything turns out OK for everyone. Alex has to deal with some sadness and loss. This added some seriousness to the story and gave Alex a little depth.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Lori Prince was a really great Alex. She sounded young but right there on the cusp of adulthood. She gets an A for effort when it comes to the alien voices and accents. I realize this is a difficult thing to pull off but I have heard better. That said, I did like her voice for the alien Malsoar. She did great with Alex’s feelings.

What I Liked: Multiple alien civilizations; Ronan’s personal history; not everyone gets out unscathed; the CIA mixed in there.

What I Disliked: The insta-love; could have used more about Ronan; why wasn’t Alex more stunned about these big things?

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Xela Culletto:

Xela is a working mother of three, living in the Utah. She teaches secondary English and after talking to students for years about following their dreams and doing whatever it takes to achieve them, she decided to take her own advice and complete her lifelong goal of writing a novel. The idea of life on other planets has always fascinated her, and she wondered what they would think of humanity, which is what spawned the idea for the plot of “Understanding the Stars”. When she’s not playing with her kids, or sorting through the endless laundry, you’ll find her watching The Walking Dead, horseback riding, or working on her next book.

Amazon ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Understanding the Stars:

Alexandra Blackwood is minding her own troubled life when she unknowingly gets caught up in an extraterrestrial conflict. Ronan, a human with his own alien-entangled past, has been keeping an eye on her and sets out to help her escape looming abduction, and maybe win her heart.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Lori Prince:

Lori Prince is a classically trained actor with a BFA from Syracuse University.  She has performed Off-Broadway as well as at top regional theaters including; The Denver Center, Alliance Theater Company and PlayMakers Repertory Company among others.  She has also appeared on Television in Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Are We There Yet?. Her voice work includes various characters in the feature film Epic, as well as additional dialogue recorded for over 50 feature films and TV shows.

Website

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Audible Giveaway & Review: Darkside Blues by Ambrose Ibsen

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Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2017)

Length: 5 hours 43 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Following upon his success with the Exeter House mystery, Harlan Ulrich’s private investigation business has been doing quite well. He’s got a decent apartment, an admirable collection of fancy coffees, and a cat. Now he’s been hired to find yet another missing person. However, there’s more than one twist with this one. The missing person isn’t really missing but she’s not alive either.

I do believe this is my favorite of this series so far. Harlan Ulrich is truly becoming a ghost talker. He’s got his paranormal experiences of the past two books to draw on, so with this one he starts off on firmer ground, knowing some of the rules of engagement right from the start.

And we have Sparkles! Well, he was renamed by Harlan. His new name is Beardsley though I don’t think the cat really cares what Harlan calls him as long as there is food in his dish. Beardsley has a thing for coffee too and that mainly involves batting the beans about the apartment once he’s torn a hole in the bag.

Michael Poole has hired Harlan to approach his estranged daughter, Vivian. He says he’s seen her three times in an old neighborhood they used to live in when she was a teenager. However, he can’t bring himself to approach her and needs an intermediary. He’s chosen Harlan to be that man. However, Harlan discovers right away that Vivian died 10 years ago. As he continues to dig into the case, he finds other things that don’t match what Michael told him. Someone is lying. It becomes a tangled web as Harlan tracks down the ex-wife (Laguerre) and speaks with the stepmother (Meredith).

Let’s not forget the apparition that appears to be the teen-aged Vivian. However, she’s walking about with a limp. In life, she was wheelchair bound. Harlan has to unravel the truth about her apparent suicide. As Harlan makes more attempts to communicate with her, she responds in turn. However, her attempts of communication are rather disturbing to both Harlan and Beardsley.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was getting to know more about Harlan. He’s a teetotaler and his father was an alcoholic. This tale provides more glimpses into his past and that also provides a starting place for Vivian to communicate with him.

I really wasn’t sure where the author was going to take me with this one. I liked that I couldn’t guess major plot points right away. The story’s ending hung on a tipping point right up to the end. Will this character go this way or that, will it end in justice or vengeance, will Harlan have nightmares for months or sleep like a man after a fulfilling day’s work? I found the ending to be satisfying and I expect Harlan can live with the horrors he’s seen knowing he helped where he could.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry continues to be great as Harlan Ulrich. His British accent continues to diminish with each book as he smooths out his American accent. Harlan sounds like a proper gent who happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. I liked his spooky voice for Vivian, who has a messed up face. Urry also added in a few sound effects here and there that worked quite well. I especially enjoyed the wind sounds in the background of some of the final scenes of the book.

What I Liked: Great narration; Beardsley the cat and his treatment of coffee beans; Harlan’s getting quite good at ghost talking; we learn about Ulrich’s past a bit; unraveling all the lies; very good ending.

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

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Ambrose Ibsen:

Once upon a time, a young Ambrose Ibsen discovered a collection of ghost stories on his father’s bookshelf. He was never the same again.

Apart from horror fiction, he enjoys good coffee, brewed strong.

Ambrose Ibsen has penned numerous horror and thriller titles, including The Ulrich Files, Transmission, The Demon-Hearted Series and the Winthrop House Series.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Darkside Blues:

“Ghosts don’t simply latch onto places, investigator. People can become haunted, too.”

A missing person. A city plunged into unforgiving winter. A dangerous spirit.

Though enjoying an increase in business following his last case, life isn’t all roses for private investigator Harlan Ulrich. His newest job, another missing person’s case, is unlike any other he’s ever taken on.

Local businessman Michael Poole hires Ulrich to find his estranged daughter.

The problem?

She’s been dead for a decade.

Join Ulrich on a trip into the darkness, into the frostbitten underworld, as he seeks out a hateful phantom with only a cat and a thermos of good coffee on his side.

Darkside Blues is the third novel in the Ulrich Files series by Ambrose Ibsen.

Audible ~ Amazon

Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Jake Urry:

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

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Win a 3 month subscription to Audible (US or UK)! Ends June 15th.

Darkside Blues