Project Nemesis by Jeremy Robinson

RobinsonProjectNemesisWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Breakneck Media (2013)

Length: 8 hours 58 minutes

Series: Book 1 Nemesis Saga

Author’s Page

Jon Hudson, a lead investigator with the Paranormal Fusion Center of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), finds himself sent to Maine to check out yet another Big Foot sighting. He meets the local sheriff, Ashley Collins, while he is hung over, clueless, and dressed only in black underwear. There had been a noise complaint and Collins thinks Hudson is the source of that disturbance. Meanwhile, at a secret research site in the Maine woods, former military personnel work hard to perfect growing brainless adults in a short amount of time in order to harvest their organs. However, things are’t going well, at least not until some mystery DNA is added to the mix. Then things go from ‘not well’ to crazy freaking bad! And that is just about the time Collins and Hudson decide to go for a stroll to check out the Big Foot sightings.

Pretty soon they are running from this monster and also the heavily-armed people trying to keep it under wraps. Hudson contacts his team to call in reinforcements. Things continue to get crazy when a helicopter arrives on scene to fly them about. Collins is quite comfortable with the big gun mounted in the helicopter while Hudson continues to feed info back to Washington DC. The monster continues to eat and grow. A single helicopter, a big gun, and two determined humans just aren’t enough to stop this thing. More agencies are pulled in and more resources. Of course, folks have trouble believing in the monster until they see it, which just adds to the tension of the book.

Hudson and Collins make a great team, keeping each other safe and also finding time for some banter. This was a very fun monster romp – plenty of action, lots of weapons, some cat and mouse hunts early on, and then the US finally ends up with their own kaiju. Hooray! OK, maybe ‘hooray’ is the wrong word, but from a purely entertainment perspective, this was a great read and one of the best monster books I have read in some time.

The fun and action are balanced out by a few darker scenes, many of which deal with a young girl name Maigo. The book opens with her and right away I was on her side and wanted to make things right for her. Alas, I don’t think things will ever be OK for her again. As the body count grows, the author tosses in some specific people here and there which made me connect with the victims instead of just reading a body count number at the bottom of a game screen.

The bad guys were interesting too because they came in different flavors. The main bad guy is ex-military and he came across a mystery at some point in his career and this mystery was at the center of many of his actions which lead up to the American kaiju. Then we have the lead scientist who was developing brainless bodies for organ harvest – she’s got some dark past that is being used against her. I also found the body guard to the main bad guy very interesting. He does have a code of honor, it’s just one that depends on him following a worthy leader. Toss in the interdepartmental bickering, and you have lots of people willing to set up road blocks for our heroes. Excellent! It was pure enjoyment to watch Collins & Hudson maneuver around, over, or through so many obstacles!

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did a great job. I like his attitude for Hudson, especially early on when the character believes he’s just off on a wild goose hunt. His female voices are believable. He’s great at getting the excitement or seriousness of a situation across.

What I Liked: Kaiju!; various types of villains; Collins and the big gun; Hudson and his smart mouth; the mystery of Maigo; plenty of action; satisfying ending; excellent narration; great cover art.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this book!

What Others Think:

The Poptart Manifesto

The Post Modern Pulp Blog

The Kaiju Planet

The Audiobook Reviewer

One Day in New York by J. F. Penn

PennOneDayInNewYorkWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: The Creative Penn Ltd. (2015)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 7 An ARKANE Thriller

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 7 in the series, it worked just fine as a stand alone story.

ARKANE agents Jake Timber and Naomi Locasto work together to thwart the efforts of a radical group called the Confessors. A burnt corpse on a cross marks the start of their efforts to tract down an ancient relic. Plenty of action and mystery makes up this tale.

Jake was a pretty interesting character. He’s South African by birth. Normally he works in London or Europe, but his last mission left him a bit dinged up. So he was sent to New York to work an easy case. However, this mission didn’t turn out to be as easy as he expected. Luckily, he had a local, Naomi, to show him around.

Naomi was also an interesting character. She’s worldly, clever, and a linguist. She’s also the one with the intel on what little is known about the Confessors. Together they seek answers by checking out the Cloisters Cross. Things do not go as planned. The action really picks up at this point and the ARKANE agents must move swiftly to successfully stop the Confessors.

Behind the scenes is a very determined man who will stop at almost nothing to obtain a cure to a long-term poisoning he is suffering from. While this character was pretty one dimensional, he added extra depth to the plot. Not only does ARKANE have to deal with the Confessors, but they also got this guy pulling strings.

I really enjoyed the mix of action, quiet contemplation of larger things (like angels), and the very light romantic interest between the two main characters. If you haven’t checked out other books in this series, then I feel this is a good one to give a try. It has definitely intrigued me.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did a very nice job with this book. He had a nice, light South African accent for Jake. His female voices were believable and distinct. His French accent was also excellent.

What I Liked: Mystery upon mystery; action; contemplation of larger things; more than one baddie to be dealt with.

What I Disliked: Nothing – great way to get introduced to a new-to-me series. 

What Others Think:

My World … in Words and Pages

The Big Thrill

Starship Eternal by M. R. Forbes

ForbesStarshipEternalWhere I Got It: Won a copy via Audio Book Reviewer.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Podium Publishing (2015)

Length: 9 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 1 War Eternal

Author’s Page

Set a fair distance in the future, mankind has settled the galaxy. And yet we still fight one another: Alliance versus the Federation. Mitchell ‘Ares’ Williams is a war hero and currently the hottest thing driving military enlistment. He’s paraded from world to world, talk show to signing event, telling his battle stories to starry-eyed youngsters dreaming of combat and glory. Also, he’s got a price on his head by the opposition. After surviving yet another assassination attempt, he is badly injured and perhaps a little mentally damaged. He keeps hearing voices that tell him he must find the Goliath, the long-lost initial FTL ship Earth ever made.

This was an immensely satisfying book. This is what military scifi should be. Fascinating characters (both male and female): check! Intriguing, consuming plot: check! Enough science in my fiction to make me believe this could some day come true: check! Cool tech and weapons: check! Yes, indeed, I was mightily impressed with this story and didn’t want to put it down.

Mitchell Williams is a conflicted character and that made him easy to connect with. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that he was part of a critical and intense battle that left all his comrades dead. The military totes him around showing him off to the population like more of a war trophy instead of a war hero. Mitchell doesn’t feel like a hero because he knows things didn’t go down as they were reported in the newsfeed. His handlers and supervisors know it too, but they won’t let him back into the fight, instead believing he is more valuable for driving up enlistment.

There’s plenty of other characters in this story, most of which came with some background and a purpose. I truly love that there are so many female characters and they almost all of them are plot related. Christine is Mitchell’s handler after the assassination attack, keeping a tight leash on him. Millie is captain of the Riggers, a rag tag crew of military personnel who hit the end of their rope in one way or another and who were consigned to patrol the outer most edges of settled space. Both these ladies have their own personal goals, actions that relate to the storyline, and just enough past events to fill out their character. With all that said, here is my one tiny criticism: nearly all the women in this book have a thing for Mitchell. He’s a handsome man, but aren’t there other handsome men or perhaps some lesbians in space?

The plot is primarily military scifi, but also with a touch of time travel. There’s this long-standing war between the Alliance and the Federation. All of society has been militarized in some way to assist in the war effort. The time travel element doesn’t come into play until the second half of the book, so I won’t say much on it other than to say that it is well done.

I really didn’t want to put this book down. I kept finding little ways to prolong my listening time so that I finished this book in 2 big chunks of blissful (if chore-filled) listening. I do believe Forbes has raised the bar for military scifi.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer has long been a favorite narrator of mine. He does not disappoint in this his performance here. As always, Kafer has distinct male and female voices for all the characters. I especially appreciated how he imbued each and every character with emotion. He made a very good Mitchell Williams.

What I Liked: Military scifi at its finest; plenty of real female characters; a touch of time travel which was done well; very satisfying end; so ready for Book 2!

What I Disliked: Nearly all the ladies had the hots for Mitchell Williams.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

Secrets of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerSecretsOfADListSupervillainWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Jim Bernheimer (2015)

Length: 6 hours 27 minutes

Series: Book 3 D-List Supervillain

Author’s Page

The world thinks Cal Stringel, aka Mechani-Cal, is dead. However, Cal knows differently. He is in hiding, building back up his power and his alternate identity. He and a few select folks don’t agree with the status quo and they are going against it. On one side are the bureaucrats of the powerful nations of the world backing the sanctioned superheroes. On the other hand are the supervillains willing to sabotage Cal and his rogue buddies. Now toss in Cal’s personal life, such as his relationship with Stacy Mitchell (a sanctioned superhero known as Aphrodite) and his boss (Whirlwendy) who happens to be his baby momma, and you have quite the setting for reader entertainment.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and I believe this is the best yet. Bernheimer’s writing gets better with each new work. This tale is told mostly as a series of flashbacks. Stacy and Cal had a falling out and a year later they reconnect. So of course Stacy wants the inside story of Cal’s life for the past 12 months. As Cal and Stacy do mundane things like make dinner or shower together, Cal tells his tale. It’s a great story, something that is worthy of headlines if only the world at large knew the half of it. It was a great way to break up all the action with moments of reflection on the consequences.

Then there is the whole idea of Cal as a father. He reproduced! That happens to real people, so why not our D-List supervillain. Of course the dynamic between his baby momma (Whirlwendy) and him is a source of entertainment. Cal and a few others have joined forces and their default team captain is the mother of Cal’s baby. You can imagine my amusement.

At one point, Jim Bernheimer had a contest or such and several fans of the series had their names built into this book as minor characters. That includes me! Hooray! I was quite surprised and amused as to how my character ended up naked on a football field with several others.

OK, back to the plot and characters. Even though the story is told in flashbacks, so we know that Cal survived, there are still several twists and turns that made Cal’s story telling engrossing. Yep, I know he’s still intact and relatively healthy, but I wanted to see how he outwitted or outfought or outhid all these powers that he was up against. I was not disappointed. Then there is the character development. Cal started off the series by burning nearly all his bridges. In this book we see how that has shifted and he is actively trying to build relationships, and not just for the sex. He’s still an ass with a good heart, but he more self-aware and not just reacting to his raw emotions.

Overall, a great addition to the D-List Supervillain series.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer once again was awesome. I love his voice for Cal as it is always a little sarcastic. He has great voices for all the other characters and does a great job conveying emotion.

What I Liked: Cal grows as a person; my name was used a side character; plenty of action interspersed with reflection; some twists and turns; the cover art.

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

What Others Think:

Bookie Monster

The Cult of Sutek by Joshua P. Simon

SimonTheCultOfSutekWhere I Got It: Review copy via the narrator (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Length: 8 hours 22 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Epic of Andrasta & Rondel

Author’s Page

Another addition to the ever-growing Swords & Sorcery genre, this is a tale not to be passed by. Oh, all the expected elements are there, they just aren’t quite what one is expecting. We have our warrior, Andrasta, who is a a well-muscled, highly trained half-breed woman with almost no sense of humor. We have our near useless (at the beginning) comic relief – Rondel. He use to be a great bard and something of a fop. However, he starts this story off mutilated and having spent too many years in prison. These two make an unlikely alliance, and the adventuring begins with an escape!

Every time I thought this book would take a turn and head down the often-trod trail of mediocrity, it surprised me. Are there maidens who need rescuing? Well, yes but they are also willing to stab your eyes out if you turn out to be with the bad guys. Is there an untried young magician in the group? Well, yes but Andrasta puts him through some really tough & rough training before he has to do any actual battle. Is there a horrendously evil cult that everyone must try to escape from at the end? Well yes, and not everyone makes it.

Plus, there is all this other great stuff going on in the book. Like Andrasta has his huge chip on her shoulder that only she can knock down. But until she is ready to do that, she will just pound Rondel into some semblance of a fighter. There’s this horrible place called the Blood Forest. Yeah, it’s creepy and hungry, evil things lurk with in it. Of course I want our heroes to have to enter it! So, that was awesome, twice over because they had to go through the forest twice.

Our two main characters had excellent story arcs for a first book. We met them and then they slowly changed through out the book. Rondel is the more compassionate of the two and he rubs off on Andrasta, even as she teaches him to use the sword and make shim run laps to build up his endurance. Then the author takes it one step further and has a few of our side characters also grow and change through out the book. I think I will miss two of our side characters, as I don’t expect them to be in the next book. On occasion, there is a minor character that happens by at the right time who provides critical info to the heroes. While I understand this is done to help move the plot forward, and it was decently done, it was also obvious that was the character’s entire point. If I have to have a criticism about this book, that would be my tiny, little one right there.

By the end of the book, we have plenty of murder and mayhem because the Cult of Sutek is full of evil people who need to die. Hopefully, the good guys got them all. While there is plenty of death, it is not particularly gory and the author doesn’t linger of spilled guts or the blood rituals the cult practices. Enough details are given to make you want the cult dead but not so much that your lunch will revolt on you.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this series. Andrasta is a fascinating character because she pounds against boundaries until they break. Rondel has also earned a warm little place in my heart with his mix of practicality and compassion. The two make a great duo!

Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a good pick for this book. Much of the tale is told through Rondel’s eyes and he Kafer makes a very good broken bard turned sellsword. He also had a plethora of female and male voices to fill out all the other characters. He had a good young male voice for the untried magician. The book does talk of accents from time to time, and I couldn’t discern much of an accent given to any of the characters, to that would be my only quibble. If the book hadn’t mentioned accents as much as it did, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of them.

What I Liked:  Andrasta is such a fighter all the time!; the Blood Forest is a worthy foe; Rondel has a great character arc; the women in this tale never simply allowed the plot to happen to them – they were always an active part of it; excellent ending. 

What I Disliked: There are a few times where a one time character appears at the right time to casually provide critical info to our heroes, and while this moved the plot forward, it was also obvious that was what the character’s entire point was. However, this would not dissuade me from wholeheartedly recommending this book.

What Others Think:

Adventures Fantastic

Dead Eye: The Skinwalker Conspiracies by Jim Bernheimer

BernehimerSkinwalkerConspiraciesWhere I Got It: review copy via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Gryphonwood Press (2012)

Length: 7 hours 54 minutes

Series: Book 2 Dead Eyes

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, I think it stands on it’s own pretty well.

Mike Ross returns in this excellent sequel to Pennies for the Ferryman. He’s still missing an eye, still plagued by ghosts, and his love life is still nonexistent. However, he has been working out so he should be able to punch ghosts with more effectiveness. Perhaps his love life will even come back from the grave.

Mike is on a quest. His dad walked out on him and his mom when he was a kid and he learned in Book 1 that it might not have been by his dad’s own volition. His dad may have been possessed by a skinwalker and Mike has to know the whole truth in order to put his past to bed. In his hunt for his dad, he also has to work through the revelations from Book 1 concerning his genetic ties to Edgar Alan Poe. Mike isn’t the first Ferryman in his family tree. With all that and the ever clinging ghosts dying to chat with a mortal, Mike is in for an adventure.

I enjoyed this story even more than Book 1. I think it is because Mike is indeed a reluctant hero. He’s still recovering from wounds received in military service and his disability check barely lets him get by while living at his mom’s. So, yeah, he likes to see some financial gain for assisting the numerous ghosts that want him to carry a message or return some family trinket to a long lost niece. But on occasion, Mike feels compelled to do something simply because it is the right thing to do. In the end, it is this sense of good that drives Mike onward even when he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

This adventure featured a Cadillac that broke down more than once (electrical interference from emotionally disturbed ghosts), a wedding ring (haunted with memories of  a honeymoon gone awry), a body swap (say ‘Woof!’ for me boy!), and a female ghost hunter turned personal trainer (she’s quite comfortable handling Glocks). Toss in a powerful ghost on the brink of insanity, a few skinwalkers, and the Alamo and you have one wicked crazy adventure.

I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, which is a well known urban fantasy series. I think Bernheimer’s Dead Eye series is every bit as entertaining as the early books in The Dresden Files series and I very much look forward to seeing where he takes Mike next.

Narration:  Jeffrey Kafer did another excellent job. He’s a great voice for Mike, sounding like a determined but down and out man who is just trying to get by. Kafer has an array of distinct voices for both men and women. He also carried off accents for the Alamo quite well.

What I Liked:  Mike’s powers continue to grow; several storylines in this book pulled together and tied off nicely; Edgar Alan Poe; looking forward to the next adventure!

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

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Critic

Reading Rainbow Six

Schesarazade

Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Gryphonwood Press (2012)

Length: 8 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dead Eyes

Author’s Page

Mike Ross is ex-military, having lost an eye and received some leg injuries while serving the country. He now lives with his mom as he tries to pull his life together; re-acclimatizing to civilian life, finding a job, multiple doctor visits, and plenty of physical therapy. Oh, and that ever so annoying tendency to see & hear ghosts. They aren’t all nice ghosts either and some of them can hurt him.

Mike decides to enroll in college, mostly as a way to stave off having to find a job at some fast food joint. There, he meets a young woman who has a ghost problem. Once he solves her ghost problem, their relationship starts having problems. If it’s not one thing, then it’s another. For a while, I was worried Mike would be a lonely hero. Then entered Candace (Candy) who is older and refreshingly secure in her sexuality. Also, she is responsibly employed as a police officer. These two make a good team.

As Mike starts to question his sanity, ghost after ghost proves that it isn’t just all in his head. His ability to interact with the spirit world make him a Ferryman. But as his ability becomes more common knowledge, various entities start messing with him – ghosts, humans, Skinwalkers. Yep, it’s never a slow day in Mike’s world. Luckily, he has some good friends in his corner.

If you check out my blog often, then you know I am a Jim Bernheimer fan. Pennies for the Ferryman does not disappoint! It was a great listen from start to finish. The action is nicely mixed with moments of introspection or character building (via his relationships with others). While there are fewer ladies than the guys, they play pivotal roles. The world building was fun to watch coalesce, as Mike explores his new abilities and the world those abilities dump him into. And these abilities (for both Mike and the other supernatural characters) followed distinct rules which gave the story a nice framework for the plot to happen.

Part mystery, part ghost story, all good intense fun. So looking forward to the sequel!

Narration:  Jeffrey Kafer did another excellent job. He also narrated the D-List Supervillain novels. He had a great beat-upon voice for Mike. His female voices were feminine and distinct. He had to come up with a variety of accents and sometimes spooky voices for the ghosts. His narration was a joy to listen to!

What I Liked:  The rules of the supernatural world; Mike’s practical take on his new abilities; the female characters; the cover art.

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

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Critic

Simply Stacie

Mugglenet

Hidden in Pages

Reading Rainbow Six

Origins of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerOriginsD-ListSupervillainWhy I Read It: Really enjoyed other works by the author.

Where I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Anyone like superhero stories? Want to know how to become a lesser Supervillain? Check this book out!

Narrators: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Jim Bernheimer (2014)

Length: 7 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 D-List Supervillain

Author’s Page

Having enjoyed several other Jim Bernheimer books, I had to give this one a go. I was not disappointed at all. Even though it is written after Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, it is actually set directly before it in story timeline. Our hero (or villain) of the story was once an engineer working for Ultraweapon. However, when a boss basically steals his design for a bigger, badder force blaster, he quits seeking glory and decent pay through self-employment. But Ultrweapon’s parent company, the Promethia Corporation, hound him with lawyers. Hence, he needed a place to hide; he needed a supervillain’s lair. Why not shack up with his buddy in an underground mechanic’s workshop? Sounds perfect. Except for the lack of plumbing.

As Cal (AKA MechniCal) works his way into supervillainy, he becomes aware of the need for cash to buy the supplies needed to build his mechwarrior suit. Hence, the bank robbing. He has a specially programmed getaway car, operated by a blow up doll in a suit and hat. But eventually, Cal gets caught. And no, it is not a long, hard chase, taking out numerous buildings, etc. He’s caught by the Superhero known as The Bugler. Yep. Cal was bugled into submission. Granted, the Bugler employs this sonic device that can melt your eardrums, but a pair of mufflers would have come in pretty handy. Cal was kicking his own butt over that one for a long, long time.

As with Confessions, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, it only took two sessions of listening for me to devour this book. Cal’s dry sense of humor, the occasional self-deprecating naughty joke, the kicking of the little guy while he is down – all of that had me bonding with Cal and hoping he would rise to infamy and world domination. Then there are the other Supervillains that always let Cal know how little he is in the pond filled with very big fish. They make demands on him, because, quite frankly, he’s good at building mechanical gizmos and weapons.

While this book has more female characters than Confessions, they play lesser roles. That’s my only criticism. I would love to see Cal go eye to eye with some lady mechanic who grew up working in a Hispanic car garage, bench pressing transmissions, using engine grease for permanent tattoos, and is impervious to head trauma due to repeatedly knocking the guys out with head butts. But that could just be me. Cal might be a bit intimidated by such a woman.

Both Confessions and Origins can be read as stand-alones, though I think newcomers would find a little more enjoyment reading Origins first then Confessions. I eagerly await the next installment in Cal’s story.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer once again kicked ass. His narration is so full of energy and he does a great job making the characters distinct. There is this one female character that tends to talk at super fast speeds, and Kafer pulled that off. Very impressive performance!

What I Liked: Cal is so easy to identify with; cool tech; funny superpowers (like the sonic bugling); Cal is permanently in a tight spot.

What I Disliked: Few women in the story.

What Others Think:

Grigory Lukin

Interview: Jim Bernheimer, Author of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainFolks, Jim Bernheimer has been tremendously entertaining to me with his books and it is with great pleasure that I have him on the blog for an interview. Of course we have to talk books (Heinlein and C. T. Westcott), along with the Harry Potter fanfiction universe, audiobooks, Gryphonwood Press, and lots of other stuff. Sit back and enjoy!

1) On your Goodreads page, you cite such influences and favorites as Tolkien, Heinlein, Poe, and C. T. Westcott. That’s quite a wide range in literature. Will you give a few examples of what about their works caught your imagination?

I first read Tolkien when I was around 10. His descriptions were extremely vivid (look at the way they’re making 3 movies out of a single book!). Robert Heinlein, as far as I am concerned, was the master of the first person narrative. My three favorites have always been Starship Troopers, Glory Road, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The way he got the reader inside the main character’s head is something I’ve always tried to emulate. As for C.T. Westcott, his Eagleheart trilogy gave me the definitive anti-hero in Wil Bucko. He’s a rogue and a scoundrel with an odd streak of nobility. The author’s wit and abrasive, dark humor is an inspiration. Cal Stringel from the D-List Supervillain series is my version of an anti-hero and I owe a debt of gratitude to all three of these authors.

BernheimerPenniesForferryman2) You came out of the world of fan fiction. Mind sharing some of the SFF worlds that you wrote fan fiction about? What about those particular worlds captivated and wouldn’t release you until you had spilled some ink?

I write fanfic under the name of JBern and carved out a decent sized following in the Harry Potter fanfiction universe. I really enjoyed the first 4 books in the series, but for me the wheels started coming off on the series in book 5. There was and still is so much potential in that universe and I still have ideas that I hope to have the time to visit. One of the things I did with fanfic was to be bold and experimental. The first fic I published was my attempt to do a bloody and violent wizarding war a Saving Private Ryan version of the HP universe. It was dark gritty and horribly long by novel standards. Then I wrote another novel length fanfic and the sequel to it all in 2nd person present tense just to try the style that just about everyone and their brother say to never ever do. I also had another story going at the same time in 1st person called The Lie I’ve Lived which cemented the notion in my head that I’m most comfortable writing in that style. (There was one terrible 2-3 month block where I had all three of those stories going at the same time and I was writing in 1st person present, 2nd person present, and 3rd person past tense all at the same time – I do not recommend doing this by the way.) One of the nice things about the fanfic world that helped my development as a writer is that I got lots of feedback in a short period of time. Getting people to read and evaluate what you write is no easy task. Review sites like your own are inundated with requests all the time. For example, the first novel I published on Amazon (Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman) has, at this time, 81 reviews. That’s pretty good. At the peak of my fanfic writing, when I put out a single chapter of one of my main fanfics I would get somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 reviews. The serial nature of fanfiction lends itself to a greater level of feedback. Thankfully, there seems to be less of a stigma surrounding both that and self-publishing these days.

BernheimerPrimeSuspects3) Has your superhero identity as a SFF writer caused any issues with your day job as IT Guru and System Administrator? How do you balance it all with family life?

It’s a delicate balancing act. The writing has never really caused any issues at work since I keep them separate. Most days at lunch, I’ll go sit in my car and hammer out a few hundred words on my smartphone. The majority of Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective mystery was written in that fashion on a slide out keyboard using my thumbs. As for home life, my wife generally lets me know when I’ve been spending too much time on the computer and neglecting my other responsibilities. I won’t lie and say there has never been a rough patch because of my writing, but am eternally grateful that she puts up with a bum like me.

4) Having read a few of your books, I know that some of your characters have flexible moral boundaries. Where has this allowed you to take your stories that you didn’t expect? Have you ever written a scene that made even you squirm?

I try to write as realistically as possible and that’s usually where the flexible morals part comes in handy. It’s really all about suspension of disbelief. If the reader can buy into the fact that Cal Stringel or one of my other characters could do “X” because of the circumstances, then it lets me push the envelope. Early in D-List, Cal has the Olympian Superhero Aphrodite prisoner and is attempting to get her clean from this substance controlling her mind. The plot complication there was that Cal was a criminal with his own festering ball of issues and ill-suited to be anyone’s 12 step partner. From any other perspective other than Cal’s, he tortured her. That was a difficult chapter to write.

BerheimerRider5) Are there other writers in your family and how have they influenced you?

I’ve only met her once in my adult life at a family reunion, but my 2nd cousin is Nora Roberts. Each summer, she hosts a reunion at her house in western Maryland. If I reap one thousandth of the financial success she has managed then I’ll probably be more successful than most writers ever will be. I keep meaning to go back to the next reunion, but events keep conspiring against me.

6) What fictional character or beastie from your own works would you want to meet? Which would you hide from indefinitely?

Of the characters in my books, I probably most want to meet either Cal Stringel (who can invent cool stuff) or Mike Ross (who can speak to ghosts). Since a lot of the short fiction I write is horror, I could see myself hiding from the swamp monster in the short story, Existence, or the various zombies, werewolves, or vampires that I have written. However, if I had to stick with one, it would be that swamp monster.

BernheimerHorrorHumorAndHeroes7) Some of your books are published via Gryphonwood Press and others are self-published. You even took it a step further and self-published some audiobook versions. Print versus ebook versus audiobook – what were the high points and low points for each for you in the self-publishing world?

As long as you keep a positive attitude, there aren’t any low points when it comes to publishing something you’ve written. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Probably the nastiest criticism I had ever received in the self-publishing world was right at the beginning when I first put out my short story collection, Horror, Humor and Heroes. The reviewer took his time and picked apart every story in the book and while he did like one of them, he then proceeded to use his criticism to launch what I considered to be a personal attack. That experience is one of the reasons why I recommend to all new writers that they should strongly consider the use of a pen name.

When it comes to working with a publisher, the waiting is always the hardest part just like Tom Petty says. Right now, I’m waiting for one of the other Gryphonwood authors to finish proofreading the second Spirals of Destiny Novel, while fending off the fans who are waiting for that long-delayed second installment. As for the audio book world, I’ve had great experiences with Jeffrey Kafer. He’s incredible to work with and I was fortunate to stumble upon him when I was first getting into audiobooks.

8) The New Year is upon us. How do your favorite characters celebrate?

I suppose Cal Stringel would have a small party in what you aptly termed his “Cave of Anger.” Mike Ross would likely be at a larger party filled with both the living and dead. David Bagini 42 would still be wondering how his life had arrived at that particular point.

BernheimerSorceress9) And I always ask this because I am nosy: What new projects or upcoming events can you tell us about?

In the next month, the second book in the Spirals of Destiny series will be released (hopefully), and I’m currently writing the rough draft for the prequel to Cal Stringel’s adventures that will be called, Origins of a D-List Supervillain. I am also working on a short story for an upcoming anthology called Apollo’s Daughters from Silence in the Library publishing that I am really excited about. Both Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston are among the many talented authors who will be working on this project edited by Bryan Young. It’s a companion piece to Athena’s Daughters which features stories from female authors featuring strong female lead characters. When that is completed, I expect to be working on the third D-List novel and then the third Dead Eye installment. That should keep me busy through most of the year. As far as conventions go, I will be attending Marscon in Williamsburg Virginia this month. I am also confirmed guest at ConCarolinas in June. I also to attend the next XCon in Myrtle Beach South Carolina during May and ShevaCon in September. If there is any room, I wouldn’t mind doing a couple more conventions, but we’ll have to see.

Places to Find Jim Bernheimer

Website

Goodreads

Amazon

Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainWhy I Read It: Really enjoyed other works by the author.

Where I Got It: Own It (Audible.com).

Who I Recommend This To: Anyone like superhero stories? If you want to know what’s going on in the mind of a supervillain during a world crisis, check this book out.

Narrators: Jeffrey Kafer, Talmadge Ragan

Publisher: Perfect Voices (2011)

Length: 5 hours 46 minutes

Series: Hopefully Book 1 of the series…..

Author’s Page

I enjoyed Bernheimer’s other books so much, I turned around and bought this one (which may be the first sign of  serious book addiction). If you missed it, you can catch my reviews of Prime Suspects (a clone scifi thriller) and Horror, Humor, and Heroes (an anthology of Bernheimer’s short fiction).

In Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Mechani-Cal (or just Cal) is a beat up down and out supervillain in a beat up mechanical suit. The world has gone buggy, literally. Someone’s science project escaped the test tube and these bugs can now attach themselves to humans and make them part of the world hive. Cal has been living in his mech suit for far too many weeks avoiding being assimilated. the story opens with a quick, dirty fight between Cal and some of the Olympians, guardians of the East coast. He manages to knock a bug off Aphrodite (Stacey) and flies off with her to his secret hideaway dump. Alas, it is a trap. Luckily Cal has an exit strategy and perseverance. After all, he needs allies to rid the world of the mind-control bugs.

This book was a highly entertaining messed up ride. Cal is such the anti-hero and yet not such a bad guy. He’s not afraid to do the tough deeds that need doing, as he sees it. He doesn’t shy away from a task just because society might frown on his resolution to the problem. Constantly doubting the good will of those around him (and usually with good reason), it is almost always Cal against the world. Couple that with his geek tinkering skills of creating mech suits, robots, body armor, and weapons and you have a supervillain who mostly just wants to be left alone. Alas, the world won’t let him curl up in his little cave of anger.

Most of the good guys have nothing but disdain for Cal, even after he saves their asses. But that’s OK because they have silly names, like the Bugler. Yep. The Bugler. This book has me chuckling out loud at the casual way these superhero (and supervillain) names would be tossed into the narrative. Anemone, Hermes, Komodo, etc.

The plot itself is really a series of smaller plots, one flowing into another. Kind of like a series of comics. One emergency ends just in time for another to develop, often popping up in just the right time and place to bite Cal in the ass. Poor dude. His love life is also complicated and I liked that it was all messy and not some cookie-cutter romance. Granted, all the women are hotties and only half the men are.

Bernheimer isn’t afraid to kill characters off and I especially like this. Real life has consequences, and when I read my fiction I like to see that reflected. No, I didn’t cry over any of the deaths and while Cal catches some flak for his actions, I totally cheered him on. In short, this was quite the fun listen, a great escape from average superhero tales. This tale reminded me of James Maxey‘s Nobody Gets the Girl and the webisode silliness known as Dr. Horrible, both of which I am quite fond of.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did another excellent job. He was the perfect cynical, ticked off, trodden on voice for Cal. Talmadge Ragan had a short segment at the end (epilogues) and she was OK. I think I was already attached to the voices that Kafer had created so I wasn’t able to judge her performance on it’s own merits.

What I Liked: Cal and his cynical out look; such questionable superpowers (sonic bugling?);  the various cool tech; there were consequences.

What I Disliked: all the women were hotties while about half the men were average looking.

2014SFExperienceI’m taking part in the reading event of the season, The Science Fiction Experience 2014, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

What Others Think:

The United Federation of Charles

Best in Fantasy

Bookish Ardour

Kalpar’s Arsenal