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

In the Mist of Killarney by Robert McCallum

McCallumInTheMistOfKillarneyWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: David Ocean

Publisher: Books by R. L. McCallum (2016)

Length: 5 hours 12 minutes

Author’s Page

Starting off in 1911 Ireland, Professor Emmet Brehon is on the hunt for fairies. He believes they are more than simple bits of folklore. He finds a secluded place that is rumored to be visited by fairies and surprisingly, he sees two young fairy like girls and a mysterious light. He snaps a photo, intending to use it as proof of the existence of fairies. Alas, one misfortune after another falls upon Emmet and those close to him. He starts to suspect the photo may be more than a simple picture.

The story took a little while for me to get into. Things start off quaint and cozy. Once horrible things start happening, the pace picks up and things are much more interesting. First, there’s this mysterious photo and Emmet is the only one who seems to be able to see the fairies and the ghostly light in it. Then he notices that when he sees nothing but the background vegetation in the photo, bad things happen. First, there’s a car accident and the mother of his fiance is killed. At the funeral, there is an awful storm and the open grave fills with water and the coffin floats off, perusing Emmet and Katherine (his fiance). It goes on from there – the spooky and misfortunate and disfiguring and sometimes deadly events pile up.

Emmet eventually learns that he can’t destroy or bury or pass off the photo to be free of the troublesome spirits that inhabit it. Unfortunately, he also can no longer get stinking drunk and forget about the photo. Poor dude. Emmet tries to the flee Ireland, hoping to leave the magic that powers the spirits behind. However, this proves very difficult. I really enjoyed that it was not easy or simple for Emmet to be free of these spirits. It becomes the thing that drives him but also the thing that gets him in trouble with friends and authorities alike.

The story spans 4 years and the author threw in some references to famous people or events of the time, like Houdini and the Titanic. I like that he did this,  giving me reference points to other things happening in the world at the same time that Emmet is struggling with his spirits….. or a mental illness? Indeed, as the story moved forward, I had to start wondering if Emmet was all there, as some characters in the story wonder. The author doesn’t push the reader one way or the other and it’s up to you to decide.

Over all, it was a fun tale of classic horror. There’s not much gore, as the story relies mostly on the psychological terror of the events Emmet is party to, or at least a witness to. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story and I’m glad I stuck with it.

I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: This was a tough book to get through because of the narration. The volume keeps changing. The narration in general sounds either muffled or like at the end of a long metal tube. David Ocean tries to spruce it up a bit with a few sound effects but these are roughly pasted into the performance, like the sound of two girls giggling. Also, sometimes when he does a different character voice, like Katherine’s, that also sounds pasted in – not always, just sometimes. With that said, he does do an Irish accent for Emmet and Katherine all the way through the book. His female voices are believable. 

What I Liked: Psychological horror; the quest to prove fairies are real; the cover art; references to other events and famous people of the times; mental illness or true fairie trouble?; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: The narration; started off a bit slow and dull.

Liverpool Connection by Elisabeth Marrion

MarrionLiverpoolConnectionWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author Audiobook Monthly (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Narrators: Nancy Peterson

Length: 6 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 2

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in a trilogy, The Night I Danced with Rommel being Book 1. This book can be read as a stand alone.

The story starts in 1926 in Ireland. Annie and her friends feel they need to emigrate to England to find work and a better life. At age 16, she arrives in Liverpool and starts off with relatives. Pretty soon she has found a sweet beau. Marriage and children follow. As WWII erupts through Europe, Annie and her family and friends are tested in ways none of them had anticipated. This story is based on the actual lives of the author’s ancestors, which makes it that much more poignant.

I really enjoyed Book 1 in this series, but I think I enjoyed this one just a smidge more. Maybe that is because this book references Hilde’s life from Book 1 from time to time and I can clearly see the parallels between Annie and Hilde. For both of these books, I really appreciate how the author simply tells the tales of the ladies during WWII without relying on drama. Life was a handful to start with and it doesn’t need extra drama to validate the characters.

One of the things I learned from this book was that the Irish did not have to participate in WWII. However, several of Annie’s family and friends (Irish) living in England decide to join up with the English forces. This caused a lot of grief for Annie’s family and some felt this was betraying their heritage. And those that joined the service weren’t limited to just the men. In England during WWII, women were also drafted into war service. The author does a great job of showing how suddenly one’s life can change during this time period. One moment you’re getting dressed, making tea, planning to go to work at the clinic or local grocery and the next your answering the mail and realizing that you have to report to the military for uniforms and training.

I highly recommend this book, and series, to folks who want a realistic view of noncombatants during WWII. Everyone was affected and it’s great to have books like these to show more than just the great battles and espionage.

Narration: Nancy Peterson did another excellent job, putting on the perfect Irish lilt for Annie and her family. I was really impressed with her range of character voices and I loved how much of the book was performed in an Irish accent.

What I Liked:  Such a realistic fiction; shows how severely lives of noncombatants were affected; educational while being entertaining; poignant; the cover art. 

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

What Others Think:

Historical Novel Society

Mary Ann Bernal

The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda van Stockum

VanStockumTheCottageAtBantryBayWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Valerie Gilbert

Publisher: Bethlehem Books (2014)

Length: 4 hours 44 minutes

Author’s Page

The O’Sullivan family is an Irish family doing their best to get by in the first half of the 1900s (1930s, I think). The four kids (Michael, Brigid, Liam, and Francis) star prominently in this book. First published in 1938, the book is a fun and quaint look at Irish country living of the same time period.

The story starts off with the eldest two kids on a small adventure. Their father has sprained his ankle and can’t take the donkey to market. So off the kids go with packed lunches to sell the beast. Along the way, they come across some gypsies and end up walking away with a dog, who they name Bran. The book continues with many other adventures (or difficulties) the kids get into. Bran himself causes a certain amount of grief with his outdoor manners, but the family strives hard to turn him into a suitable house pet.

There’s storms and stories, lost kids and secret caves, irascible cows and picnics. One of the twins, Francis (aka Francie), has a bad foot that occasionally slows him down. But he doesn’t let that keep him from trying all sorts of questionable feats. Brigid (aka Bridie) seems to have gotten the common sense for the lot of them. It was quite fun seeing the kids get into and out of trouble.

My one criticism is the string of racism towards Gypsies in this book. Now I have no doubt that it was historically accurate for racism to be a part of the O’Sullivans’ lives, but we never get to see things from the Gypsies’ point of view to off set that. So, if you plan to read this to your kids, or have them read it, be prepped to chat about the racism.

Narration:  Valerie Gilbert did a great job with this book. Her Irish accent, carried over all the characters, was great. There were a number of Gaelic words as well as the colloquial Irish terms (like for potato) tossed into the mix and Ms. Gilbert did a good job on them all. Her kid voices, and the variety, were totally believable and had the right mix of impishness, fun, and child-like wonder. She also had a variety of voices for the adults, including uncle Patty. There was even singing! Great narration!

What I Liked: Fun adventures for the kids; irascible cow; uncle Patty and his tales; the dog Bran; great narration.

What I Disliked:  Racism towards Gypsies.

What Others Think:

Love 2 Learn