Feet of Clay by J. A. Cipriano & J. B. Garner

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Jason A. Cipriano (2017)

Length: 5 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2 Clans of Shadow

Cipriano’s Page ~ Garner’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 of the series and it works best if you’ve already read Book 1, Heart of Gold.

Frank Butcher used to be a package delivery man but events nearly killed him and Dr. Gabrielle Perez placed a magical artifact, a heart of gold, in his chest to keep him going. The mayhem didn’t stop there and Gabrielle’s son Max was stolen by a group of murdering magic users. Now Frank and Gabrielle are trying to get him back and save the world along the way.

The Golem we met in Book 1 gets a bigger role in this book and I’m glad to see his character growing (hardening? setting up? baked?). Abner (who Frank annoys by calling Aby) saves the day once or twice. Also some of the bad guys from Book 1 get more depth in this book. Tabitha, who Frank likes to annoy by calling Tabi, has a bit more going on than I initially expected. In fact, there’s this pretty emotional scene between her and Frank where Frank gets some much needed answers but then things get messy.

There’s still some sparks between Gabrielle (who Frank annoys by calling Gabby) but she’s caught up with figuring out how to get Max back so romance is put on the back burner. Speaking of Max, he’s got some special power that the head of this murdering band of sorcerers wants to put to bad use. We get a glimpse of Max but we still haven’t rightfully met him. He’s basically an object to quest for or fight over right now.

The head of this unscrupulous group of child stealers is named something mellow like Virgil or Cecil or Liam or such. I keep picture him sipping tea and concealing a dagger behind his back. He definitely needs to be taken down!

Frank has the same humor as in Book 1 but here it’s put to better use. I didn’t tire of it as I did in Book 1. I like all the movie references. The heavier scenes definitely balanced out all of Frank’s throw away comments and quips.

The action rolls on through this book, it never being a dull moment. Looking forward to Book 3.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Joe Hempel was great with this book. He’s so good at playing Frank. I also like his voice for Gabrielle, it being feminine, and carrying the right mix of emotions depending on the scene. His voice for Abner is great as well.

What I Liked: Great cover art; Tabitha had more going on than I thought; Gabrielle doesn’t give up; Boss Evil Dude is evil; Frank’s humor; the more serious scenes balance the story out; great narration.

What I Disliked: I’d like to see a bit more done with Max. Right now he’s just a place holder.

Heart of Gold by J. A. Cipriano & J. B. Garner

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Jason A. Cipriano (2016)

Length: 5 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 Clans of Shadow

Cipriano’s Page ~ Garner’s Page

Frank Butcher delivers packages. He’s got a big ego and a crush on Dr. Gabrielle Perez. During one of his flirtatious encounters, the crap hits the fan as part of the building explodes around him. When he wakes, it’s a magical device that’s keeping him alive and the cultists want it. Pretty soon he has to make a hard choice as the cultists aren’t above threatening children to get what they want.

I want to say this is set in Florida but I may be wrong. Anyway, it’s a big city with some Hispanic and Latino influences. While I did like the Spanish used here and there, it’s el corazon and not la corazon. It’s a small mistake, but it did make me listen closer for other such linguistic errors.

Setting aside the language lesson, this was a very fun book. It’s brain candy and Frank is the star. True, he’s got a big ego, but he’s also got a big heart of gold, literally. There’s plenty of humor thrown in, though sometimes it was borderline punny and a little much. At times the humor felt like a worn thin comedic routine and at other times I was laughing out loud.

There’s plenty of action, and since Frank is a vet, there’s some gun play as well. Mixing magic and guns nearly always works for me. I really liked Gabrielle. She’s right in the mix. No shrinking wall flower status for her! She’s often the one keeping Frank on track or keeping him alive or getting him out of harm’s way. Then her son Max becomes a focus for the cultists so Frank and Gabrielle have to come up with a new game plan.

I did enjoy the bigger plot concerning the cultists and what they are up to. Frank and Gabrielle certainly have their hands full. And poor Gabrielle! I’m sure she feels betrayed by certain people. This tale wraps up well but leaves a larger story arc open for a sequel, which I look forward to enjoying with some popcorn.

The Narration: Joe Hempel makes a great Frank Butcher. It seems he really had fun with the character’s ego and humor. He also did a great job with Gabrielle’s voice and I liked his Hispanic accent for the little bit of Spanish in the story.

What I Liked: Fun brain candy; gorgeous cover art; great narration; some fun humor; Dr. Gabrielle Perez is awesome; the heart of gold magical item. 

What I Disliked: A few little slips with the Spanish; sometimes the humor was a bit worn thin. 

What Others Think:

AudioFile

Lomeraniel Audiobook Reviews

Kill It With Magic by J. A. Cipriano

CiprianoKillItWithMagicWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Rebecca Roberts

Publisher: J. A. Cipriano (2015)

Length: 7 hours 4 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Lillim Callina Chronices

Author’s Page

Lillim has magic and attitude on her side… and not much else. A kidnapping has her facing off demons and vampires to get the kid back. But there’s more going on and an ancient dragon wants her to do his bidding. Lillim isn’t so amenable to that idea. And the dragon is about to find out.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy with plenty of baddies, magical weapons, action, good guys with questionable personal agendas, and tough parenting going on. Lillim may currently be only 16, but she’s also a reincarnated badass from before in her mother’s days of power. This is one of the key things that really made this book work for me. She can be physically 16 – strong, quick, perhaps even cute – but she also has some memories from her past life so she has this knowledge base that assists with decision making. Often Lillim thinks and acts older than a teen and I could always point at that past life influencing her here and now to explain it.

Supernatural beings are every where in this book. I like that they fill a range in complicated motivations to simple grasps for power (or food). The werewolves are on the line of being bad guys or good guys, depending on whether or not Lillim can or chooses to help them out. Then we have some interesting vampires, one of which does some dumb stuff with a demon. There’s also the semi-aware magical weapons that are pretty cool. Toss in an ancient dragon and you have a very exciting, if somewhat wrecking-ball, party.

Lillim has this complex relationship with her mother that we learn in little snippets. I liked that it wasn’t a clear love or hate, but a twisted mix of the two. Lillim had to learn to fight badly behaving supernatural beings the hard way, usually by being tossed into a mess of them. But that tough love from her mom has made her the badass enforcer she is today. Lillim’s mom’s relationship with Lillim’s past-life self makes this aspect of the story all that more interesting.

The pace is very fast and there is always some action going on. In fact, if Lillim is taking a moment for reflection, she is usually reflecting on some past fight (her’s or her mother’s). So on occasion I did get some battle fatigue as one fight after another blended together. This is a very minor criticism as I enjoyed the book most of the time and it won’t hinder me from checking out Book  2.

I received this audiobook from the author (via his publicist) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Rebecca Roberts made a very good Lillim Callina. She also had distinct voices for the other characters. On occasion, she had to come up with an interesting supernatural voice and she pulled those off as well.

What I Liked: The cover art; fast-paced urban fantasy; Lillim is strong and young but also has wisdom from a past life; plenty of baddies with a variety of agendas; magical semi-aware weapons; complicated relationship with her mom.

What I Disliked: Occasionally I got battle fatigue as one fight scene after another blended into each other. This is a minor dislike and won’t keep me from checking out Book 2.

What Others Think:

Musings of a Starving Author

Cathi Shaw

Borderlein Publishing

Interview: J. A. Cipriano, Author of Kill It With Magic

CiprianoKillItWithMagicEveryone, please welcome the author of the urban fantasy Kill It With  Magic, J. A. Cipriano! We chat about the  Flintstones, genies, Penny Arcade, World of Warcraft, and plenty more! 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? 

Not particularly. What new fictional thing has come out in the last decade that really changed the way we look at stuff, really introduced new ideas and caught on? Even Harry Potter is almost twenty years old. Pretty much everything that’s out now has been around for a century. Most super heroes are 80 years old. When we come out with something new, then I’ll change my answer.

I mean, I’m no exception. I write about werewolves, vampires, and teenage girls with katanas, as if that hasn’t been done a billion times.

CiprianoTheHatterIsMadGiven 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’m pretty sure most fantastical beasts eat people, so I wouldn’t really want to encounter any of them really. Though I guess I could live with encountering a genie, only he’d have to be like the Robin Williams genie and not like Jafar. Then again I have always wanted a unicorn or a Pegasus. Could I catch a winged unicorn to use as my own personal steed? Is that allowed?

I don’t think I’ve ever taken a selfie, so that’s probably out. I got a new shirt one time I wanted to show my wife and got too embarrassed trying to take a pic of myself so I made the girl at the store take a photo of me.

CiprianoFairyTaleIs there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

I really like Fight Club. I like the movie and the book. I think the way they did the movie is just phenomenal. I was reading the book and was like how could they make a movie from this, then I saw the movie and was like, “wow!”

That being said, I haven’t read Vampire Diaries, but I like the show…

I was driving yesterday and was thinking about, of all things, The Super Mario Brothers movie. I want to see a sequel for it because Daisy comes back at the end all bad ass and is like “I need your help.” I want to know why, dammit!

CiprianoPursuitIn this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging? 

I actually can’t stand promoting myself. I always feel like I’m bragging or that someone is going to discover I’m a big fraud and break into my house and steal my cat. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened… yet.

If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

I want to eat those giant brontosaurus ribs from the Flintstones! I’d pull up in my bone mobile and ask for a strawberry shake, pterodactyl chili fries, and a brontosaurs burger, you know, for after the ribs. Plus I want to watch the girl skate around and pretend I’m in the fifties, you know, before I had an ipad at the table to summon my waitress and pay my bill. Wow… that answer makes me feel old.

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

I wrote a lot as a kid, and always wanted to be a writer. I was a pretty smart alecky kid. My parents swear that when I was like 2 and a half they took me to interview for a McDonalds’ commercial. All I had to say was “Mom, Dad, can we go to McDonalds?”

Evidently, I spent the next hour telling the person I didn’t like McDonalds and wanted lobster and caviar. Obviously they gave up and sent us home. As soon as we got in the car, I smiled really big and said “Mom, Dad, can we go to McDonalds?”

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

Actually, there was this time I met the creators from Penny Arcade, and I just forgot how to even talk. I just stood there with my mouth open with my wife and them looking at me like I was a crazy person. Finally, they asked me if I wanted a sketch. I nodded dumbly, and Gabe asked me which character.

I opened my mouth, but words didn’t come out. I couldn’t even remember a single character from the comic I’d read for years. I was just like… um the yellow one. Then I smiled awkwardly.

Just thinking about it now makes me blush because I remember them looking at me like “who is this person pretending to like our stuff and taking up valuable time from real fans.”

What do you do when you are not writing?

I play with my two year old and play World of Warcraft. I used to run a lot and do marathons, but I realized I hate, you know, exercising and sweating. I can’t stand sweating.

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

Probably when I asked why the shamans in WoW don’t say anything about the fire god, but they praise the others: water, earth, wind.

My friend said it was because Ragnaros was dead.

I looked at him and was like, but the Cataclysm released Al Akir and we killed him in tier one, so wouldn’t that mean they shouldn’t talk to wind either?

That was when it got quiet and everyone looked at me like who is this person who suddenly knows lore?

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (real of imaginary, living or dead)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Um… can I bring Nightcrawler from the X-men so we can just teleport through all the obstacles and go drink beer at the end? Because, you know, all races give out beer at the end. Unless this is a beer race, then I’d need one of those guys from Revenge of the Nerds.

CiprianoKillItWithMagicKill It With Magic book blurb: 

Sixteen-year-old Lillim Callina is good at two things: running away and magic.

Now, Lillim’s half-demon ex-boyfriend is contacting her for help, she has somehow gotten herself mixed up in a kidnapping, and her long-dead rival has risen from the grave.

So when a dragon plotting to take over the world offers her a choice: Work for him or else.

Lillim Callina is going to choose else.

Placed to stalk J. A. Cipriano

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