Bookish Giveaway & Review: Deceptive Cadence by Kathryn Guare

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Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Publisher: Kathryn Guare (2016)

Length: 11 hours 519 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Virtuosic Spy

Author’s Page

Set in 2003-2004, Conor McBride is willing to go to great lengths for his family. He was a concert violinist when he found out just how badly his older brother Thomas screwed him over. He’s since fled the country, leaving Conor to pay the government back the large debt. He also moved back to the family farm in Ireland to help his ailing mom (Brigid McBride) out. Then a mysterious man shows up offering him knowledge of where his brother is in exchange for service. Pretty soon, Conor is wrapped up in a world of deceit, drugs, corruption, and guns. And magnificent Indian food.

This was a gripping novel! Conor and his brother Thomas have some serious history between them. Conor feels that his life was ruined when he was saddled with his brother’s enormous debt, having to return from London to the family farm on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland that he never had any interest in. Years have passed and Conor grows comfortable on the farm, even though it’s a far cry from his concert violinist life. Then Frank Murdoch from MI6 shows up offering information on the whereabouts of Thomas but it’s not free. The British Intelligence Service wants something from Conor and that involves 10 hard weeks of spy camp and several long months working in some of the roughest parts of India. I was surprised when Brigid sends Conor off with her blessing, saying that Thomas needs him.

There’s very little about the spy camp. Our hero goes from fiddling cow milker to trained deadly spy in several paragraphs, tho there are a few references to his time there later in the story. Conor brought some of his own skills to table from the beginning, like his intelligence, linguistic skills, and athletic build. With that, he surpassed his instructor’s expectations. Yet he isn’t ready for everything he comes across in the field. There are some tough scenes for this fledgling spy and despite the dirty business he’s in, he never loses his humanity. He’s this wonderful mix of competence, steel nerves, and soft heart.

Most of the book takes place in India, in and around Mumbai. I definitely felt that the author had done her research. She brought the beauty and the grunge. It was a very believable setting complete with child slavery, tasty food, generous hospitality, illegal arms sales, gentle religious rites, and drug use.

There’s several female characters in this spy novel which isn’t the usual for this genre. So that was a breath of fresh air. Yet the ladies were pretty much there to comfort the men. They each have some personality and some role in the story that is more than window dressing and yet none of them ever really touch the central plot. Conor’s world of spies is a man’s world. I would have liked a bit more from the ladies. However, this little weakness of the story didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. Kavita was the most prominent lady in that she provided medical care and comfort of a motherly sort to Conor when he really needed it. I really liked her calm and patience and yet she could also be insistent when needed. Radha is a 13 year old heroin addict and dancer at a pleasure house. Conor’s undercover persona brings him to this seedy side of town where he meets Radha and he wishes he could do something to permanently help her situation. They’re relationship, as fleeting as it is, pulled the emotions out of me.

Let’s chat about Sedgewick, who like Murdoch, presents a well-honed edge to the world at large. Conor in his endearing way manages to catch both men in unguarded moments, revealing something deeper. Sedgewick had a lot more page time and he’s definitely a complicated character. He’s wrestled with his demons but they left scars and he’s just a touch paranoid that those around him don’t trust him…. but he’s in the spy business. I loved this polarity about him. He works in a field that calls for deception yet craves solid relationships. I hope we get to see him again.

The McBrides have a sixth sense of a sort. It’s left pretty nebulous, something that can be chocked up to chance or a mystical element depending on how the reader wants to interpret such things. For me, I could leave it or take it. This element of the story didn’t do much for me other than keeping Brigid engaged in the storyline even when she wasn’t on the page.

The action scenes were great. There was plenty of tension throughout the tale as Conor does his best to navigate this deadly web. With each layer of lies he peeled back, I became a little more paranoid about who he could trust. Eventually, we learn about the main bad guy that everyone wants, Vasily Dragonov. Things don’t go as planned and I felt deeply for Conor by the end of the story. What an emotional ringer the guy has been through! I was engaged throughout the entire tale. Conor McBride is my new favorite spy!

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

The Narration: Wayne Farrell nailed this performance. Gallic, English, Hindi, and Russian accents pepper this story and Wayne did a great job with all of them. There’s some Hindi and Gallic prayers and swearing as well which he did with gusto. His female voices were all believable and each character was distinct. He was able to portray the variety of emotions of Conor McBride and the other main characters with moving accuracy.

What I Liked: Gallic and Hindi, Ireland and India – all in the same book; the spy life takes something out of a person; Conor McBride is a good mix of thoughtfulness and unhesitating response; Sedgewick with his prickly vulnerability; Murdoch with his carefully crafted gentleman persona; Kavita’s caring hands; Radha’s great need; those final scenes on the road from the ski slope; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would have liked a little more from the ladies.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Kathryn Guare:

Kathryn Guare lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and loves exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, Deceptive Cadence was awarded the Audiobook Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~Instagram ~ Pinterest

Synopsis of Deceptive Cadence:

Meet Conor McBride. He’s even more interesting than the trouble he gets into.

A talented Irish musician reluctantly reinvents himself, disappearing into an undercover identity to search for the man who ruined his career: his own brother. On a journey from the west of Ireland to the tumultuous city of Mumbai, Conor McBride’s only goal is to redeem the brother who betrayed him. But he’s becoming a virtuoso of a different kind in a dangerous game where the rules keep changing – and where the allies he trusted to help him may be the people he should fear the most.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Wayne Farrell:

Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.

Website ~ Soundcloud

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 1 year Audiofile Magazine Subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 19th, 2017.

Deceptive Cadence Audio Tour Giveaway

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Clementine could use a few manners.
Clementine could use a few manners.

Narrator: Moira Quirk

Publisher: Hachette Audio (2015)

Length: 12 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 1 Custard Protocol

Author’s Page

The metanatural Rue and her friends are on a mission for Queen and Country! And tea, of course. Prudence Alessandra Macon Akeldama (Rue) has been gifted an airship, which she charmingly names the Spotted Custard. She’s also been given a charge, and that is to fly off to India on a mission of secrecy – it involves tea. There’s proper manners and attire, werewolves, tea-time, weremonkeys, and plenty of proper British manners.

Rue and her best friend Primrose (Prim) Tunstall make a great team for mayhem. In fact the opening scene is one where Prim and Rue work together to turn a stuffy British cocktail party into a race through the Victorian London streets. Rue’s metanatural abilities allow her to temporarily ‘borrow’ the powers of a paranormal. For instance, she can become a werewolf (which tears her lovely gown and underthings all to hell) and then Prim can catch a ride on her back as they make a noisy exit from the boring party.

Of course these hijinks are just the latest and Rue’s parents, along with her adoptive vampire father Dama, decide she needs a job. Hence, she’s given a mission that involves tea in India. Rue selects Prim, of course, to accompany her but then also Prim’s bookish brother Percy. Toss in the intense Quesnel Lefoux, who Percy detests, and you have quite the madcap company for the trip. The crew who actually do all the work are quite fun as well, not giving a fig if the passengers are practically nobility or not.

This was a my first Gail Carriger book and it was so much fun! It was light and silly and full of adventure and flowery phrases that just had me giggling. Maybe I was just in the right mood for this book, but I really did get a kick out of it. There’s some light flirting between Rue and Quesnel but there’s also some pond tossing that comes up as well. It’s a love/hate thing and very amusing.

There’s a bit of a steampunk flavor to this story but it’s not a heavy element of the tale. Of course the dirigible is fun. I enjoyed all the action scenes because they were often had some bits of comedy involved. I especially enjoyed Percy and his hunt for mushrooms. He was delightfully bookish.

Once the Spotted Custard gets to India, things change as the local paranormal citizens checkout the Londoners. There’s plenty here that surprised me! It’s a whole different rule book and Rue and Prim have to do some improvising, even if it means ticking off the local English gentry. I was entertained throughout the entire book and I look forward to reading more Carriger novels in the future.

The Narration: Moira Quirk was so good in this book! She’s the perfect Rue but she’s also the perfect Prim and the perfect Dama and the perfect Percy! She’s got these English characters down to a T. I loved her light lisp for Dama as I could totally picture him talking and every so often on certain syllables, a touch of a lisp due to this teeth. I loved her distracted Percy, his head always in a book. She really did a most excellent job with this narration. 

What I Liked: The dirigible; proper English manners tossed out the window again and again; all the humor; plenty of action; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing! This was such a fun book!

What Others Think:

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Fantasy Book Critic

Vampire Book Club

For the Love of Words

The BiblioSanctum

Interview: B. T. Lowry, Author of Fire from the Overworld

LowryFireFromTheOverworldFolks, please welcome author B. T. Lowry, author of Fire from the Overworld. We chat about pulling rickshaws, the consciousness behind all things, the Vedic pantheon, and much more! Please enjoy!

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how? 

Great question.  I definitely think that fantasy affects human cultures today.

I’ve heard that Tolkien was upset to see modern society losing its connection with mythology. He saw that these myths gave people moral guidance and connected them to deep truths, so he wrote The Lord of the Rings partly to reconnect readers to their mythological heritage. His story is rooted in ancient myths.

I believe that we will always crave myths and legends. Impartial logic can never fully satisfy a human being, because we are so multifaceted. Reality is subtle, expansive and multi-layered, and stories reflect this wonderfully.

Joseph Campbell argued that myths have reality in the subconscious world, but that they shouldn’t be taken literally. While I agree with this, I also feel that there are plenty of mysteries beyond the scope of scholarship, anthropology and science. Unicorns may not exist, but other myths could be historical records which are so outside our current cultural context that we can only classify them as fictional. We might rule out as impossible whatever it can’t understand, but we cannot say for certain what is real and what is not. The old cultures certainly had knowledge that we do not.

My own stories are largely rooted in the ancient teachings of India. These teachings speak about levels of consciousness where different kinds of beings reside, and give methods on how to go to each one. There are gods and other celestial beings, and lower beings too. Many consider all this to be mythology, but as in all traditions, the perspective sees things in a deeper way than the observer. Call me pretentious, but like Tolkien, I hope that some deeper truths resonate my fiction. I’d like the reader to get both a good story, and something substantial to consider. That’s the kind of fiction I like.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I would like to encounter Airavata, the four-tusked elephant carrier of Lord Indra, the leader of the demigods in the Vedic pantheon. I would avoid Vrtrasura, a massively powerful demon who is an enemy of Indra.

Even though at heart he was a self-realized sage, Vrtrasura somehow found himself in the role of a great enemy of the gods. In their final showdown, Vrtrasura actually schooled Indra on the principles of being a ruler and a warrior.

If I had a camera and it didn’t break the mood, I might just take a selfie with Vrtrasura 🙂

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

You know, I’m very new to promotion. In fact, this is my first blog interview! Initially I did not want to do any promotion. I just wanted to live in my cave, writing away. But slowly I started a site and am now putting up a new scene each week. Readers can vote which scene they’d like to see made into a story. And I’m gradually figuring out what to do next.

I love to connect with people interested in the same kind of things that I am, and to hear how they feel about my work. I just wish I didn’t have to go through all the technical stuff to meet them!

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

I pulled a rickshaw in the wee morning hours through the streets of Calgary, Canada. Mostly my customers had been drinking, and I would bring them to their home or their car. It was a weird job because I saw the seedy underbelly of the city – drugs and violence and sex. I got hit on many times a day by men and women, and sometimes offered money for… services. I didn’t take it! I lost some of my innocent outlook during that job, though it did get me to India for the first time.

Compared to writing, that job was hell. Writing is such a great creative outlet. I can make an entire movie in words, with no budget and no crew. But I do draw from the experiences I’ve had in my life, like the ones in that weird job, so I can’t say I regret it.

Do you have any superstitions?

Ha! I sometimes find myself avoiding walking under ladders and such, just in case.

I also have convictions which others might consider superstitions. I believe that plants and animals are conscious beings, not so different from us. I think there is consciousness behind the movements of the clouds and rivers and oceans, kind of like nature gods. I can’t believe that everything is just made up of inert chemicals, moving around by chance. I think there is consciousness behind everything. In this way I relate more with the old cultures of the world than the post-renaissance scientific worldview.

LowryFireFromTheOverworldBook Blurb of Fire from the Overworld:

“Fire from the Overworld” is a terrific debut!” -David Farland, New York Times Bestseller.

Two students of natural magic study under their master, living in a desert village. One, a young woman, travels from her body to higher realms. She finds a battle raging there which threatens their world. The other, a young man, enters the minds of humans and animals. There he uncovers a spreading psychic disease.

To restore balance, she must leave everyone she holds dear. He must skirt into the realm of death.

Filled with extraordinary adventure and mysticism, Fire From the Overworld takes the reader on an inner and outer journey. This is Epic Fantasy rooted in ancient wisdom.

Places to Find B. T. Lowry

btlowry.com

twitter.com/BTLowry,

facebook.com/btlowry