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

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

Narrator: Alex Hyde-White

Publisher: Charles River Editors (2015)

Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Author’s Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Holiday by Jodi Taylor

TaylorRomanHolidayWhere I Got It: Was free on Audible.com when I picked it up (thanks!).

Narrator: Zara Ramm

Publisher: Audible Studios (2015)

Length: 1 hour 12 minutes

Series: Book 3.5 The Chronicles of St. Mary’s

Author’s Page

Note: Although this is Book 3.5 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

The folks of St. Mary’s are time travelers. They have rules and a whole costume department and some pretty snazzy tech, along with whole sheets of language cheats. The mission for this book is one to merely observe. They are sent back to 44BC Rome. Julius Caesar has installed his mistress Cleopatra in his wife’s house. Yeah. The dude has big brass ones.

This was my first Jodi Taylor book ever and it will definitely not be my last. The mix of history, cool tech, and humor had me hooked. I kept alternating between chuckling and, when surprised, snorting hot tea through my nose. I switched to cool water after the second time. The humor was often sharp and pointed (such as calling out Caesar on the wisdom of where to install his mistress when in Rome) – just my style of humor!

Also, our time travelers are lead by an older female, which makes her perfect for this mission as she can totally play the respectable wealthy matron. Plenty of unforeseen circumstances occur, and the proper mayhem follows.

I’ll be catching up on this series for sure!

The Narration: Zara Ramm was a great voice for the lead female in this book. She had the right mix of humor and experienced self-assuredness that really brought this character to life. She also had distinct and believable voices for the other female and male characters.

What I Liked: Time travel!; sharp-tongued humor; famous historical figures; a crazy set of circumstances.

What I Disliked: The cover art and the title don’t really say ‘time travel’ to me,which is probably why I haven’t taken note of this series before.

Dog Training by Daniela Emerson

EmersonDogTrainingWhere I Got It: Review copy from Cosmic Crate (thanks!).

Narrator: Kelly Dievendorf

Publisher: Sender Publishing (2015)

Length: 55 minutes

Author’s Page

Here is a good primer for taking on a puppy or an older dog. If you’ve never taken a dog obedience class or read other dog training books, then this is a good place to start. It covers all the basics without getting bogged down in example stories or trying to delve into doggy psychology.

I am one of those life-long pet owners that has never taken a pet obedience course. Instead, I have found nuggets of useful information along in the way in books like this one. For this particular book, I like how the author distinguishes the different set of challenges an owner may have taking on a puppy versus an older dog. Since I have done both, I can attest that the challenges are indeed quite different. There are also bonuses to each, which the book explains as well.

I was quite pleased to see that the book drew on consistency and patience as key in training a dog. The author also doesn’t pull any punches letting a potential dog owner know when they probably aren’t ready for a pet. We’ve all known adults who were not in a place (emotionally, mentally, physically) to properly care for a pet and some of us have probably been there. So kudos for the author for not shying away from saying it. If you are looking for a dog training book for kids or for adults new to the idea of pet ownership, this is a great place to start.

The Narration: Kelly Dievendorf was a good voice for this book. She had a clear voice that you could easily imagine belonging to an experienced pet trainer. 

What I Liked: Easy to take in info; different challenges in adopting a puppy versus an adult dog; not holding back on who probably isn’t ready to adopt a dog; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Nothing – good source of info!

How to Be Creative by Clayton Geoffreys

GeoffreysHowToBeCreativeWhere I Got It: Review copy from Cosmic Crate (thanks!).

Narrator: Jake Stevens

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Length: 1 hour 10 minutes

Author’s Page

This is a short little book on how to become creative, or how to get out of a rut and get back to being creative. If you’re one of those folks that feels life is dull and your glued to your routine, you might well find this interesting.

Once again, the author does a great job of packing a lot of info into a short amount of time (I recently enjoyed his book Milk Thistle). The section on defining creativity was interesting and informative. Also, I liked the sections on how to incorporate creativity in your daily life and how to let your creativity grow. There were two case studies on famous creative people: Steve Jobs and Jerry Seinfeld. I have not followed either one other than in passing. I have caught several episodes of The Jerry Seinfeld Show and found the jokes repetitive and therefore, easy to spot on the horizon. So for me, the second example didn’t really work, as the point was to not be repetitive when being creative. Setting that aside, the book used these examples to show that these two famous men didn’t just do one thing with their lives; they had several projects going, usually at the same time.

The author shares steps to keeping creativity alive in your daily life and I think these are useful. As a weaver myself, when I get in a slump I often do some of these things and they give me a fresh perspective. Basically, it is just shaking up your routine and doing something you like and that is a bit different from what you had planned that day. The author keeps it simple (like taking detours when walking the dog, or gardening instead of doing laundry, etc.) and I like that he doesn’t turn it into a big production. You don’t need to go skydiving or try out a new-to-you narcotic to get your creative juices flowing. All in all, if you find you are not a creative person, this book could be just the stimulant you are looking for.

The Narration: Jake Stevens’ performance was great. He kept a good pace and had the right mix of excited and serious.

What I Liked: Easy to take in info; plenty of examples; simple actions to take; the cover art.

What I Disliked: The famous creative men examples didn’t particularly resonate with me.

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:

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Damnation Books

She Never Slept

Peril in the Park by Barbara Venkataraman

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

Narrator: Carrie Lee Martz

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Length: 4 hours

Series: Book 3 Jamie Quinn Mystery

Author’s Page

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

Jamie Quinn, a divorce lawyer working in Hollywood, Florida, is on the case again. This time it is out of necessity and not a paid gig. Her boyfriend, Kip, works for the local parks service and he has a problem, or maybe a few. Someone keeps vandalizing the park and the potential suspects are more than he likes. But then things get more serious as a body turns up along with threatening emails.

Here we have yet another entertaining mystery from the talented Barbara Venkataraman and my favorite so far. Not only do we have Jamie (who is such an easy character to connect with) but we also have the great outdoors of Florida and a Renaissance festival (which Duke or Kip describes incorrectly as LARPers getting together and dressing up like they are in Medieval times, but hey, it’s within character)! Couple that with more than one mystery, and we have a pretty entertaining murder mystery.

Jamie has a lot on her plate in this book. Her boyfriend Kip has some unusual stresses in his life (the vandalism and more) that spill over into Jamie’s life. Then she is trying hard to work out a way to attain a Visa for her long-lost Cubano father who is currently exiled in Ecuador. Toss in a dead body and Jamie has a great need for caffeine to keep her going. I really liked all the different dimensions going in this tale, plus we have some new interesting characters. Kip works with an attractive Indian lady (who goes on to play a crucial role at the end of the book), Jamie’s father, and the unforgettable PI Duke Broussard.

While I found the ending satisfying, I did feel it was a bit rushed. Jamie made some leaps in logic that were not supported by facts known to the character at the time. I felt there needed to be a little more investigation, or perhaps character interaction that lead Jamie to figure out the whodunnits. Also, there as an incident with a stun gun that was used repeatedly and yet didn’t leave any marks. I think that is highly unlikely. With that said, I still found the book entertaining and definitely look forward to the next in the series.

The Narration: Martz once again was a good voice for Jamie. I am glad the author waited to work with Martz (as the book itself has been out for some months) instead of switching narrators. Her Hispanic accent started off pretty rough but got better as the story went on. Her Indian accent was great! as always, I love her slow drawl for Duke.

What I Liked: Renaissance faire!; more than one plot line to keep the reader guessing; Jamie’s father; the cover art.

What I Disliked: I felt the ending happened a little swiftly and I wanted a little more.

What Others Think:

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