Shadow Sight by E. J. Stevens

StevensShadowSightWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: E. J. Stevens (2013)

Narrator: Traci Odom

Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Series: Book 1 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Set in a northeastern port city, Harborsmouth, Ivy Granger, psychic detective, tackles the supernatural. Ivy has this little twitch – she can’t touch anything or anyone without having a vision, which entails reliving the strongest memories imprinted on that item or person. Along with her best friend Jinx, they set up a private eye business sometime ago. Now, the two are hired by a demon, Forneus, to solve the mystery of the many human livers found floating around the harbor.

This was a fast-paced and fun urban fantasy steeped in mythology. Ivy is in her mid-20s and has worked hard to do the best with what she has. She can see the fae in their numerous forms due to her fairy sight and she can use her psychometry to relive past events when she touches items or people (though she doesn’t really enjoy doing this). In fact, one of my few quibbles with the book is that it is beaten into the reader for perhaps half the book that Ivy does not like to touch people or things and we’re told why again and again. I was quite glad once the repetition on this point was over. Other than that, Ivy is a fun character to follow around on this adventure.

The plot itself involves tons of beings from myth, which is way cool. We have a Red Cap, a kitchen brownie, a witch or two, some trolls, vampires, several water folk (like the Kelpies), and plenty more. In this particular story, one set of baddies are the each uisge, which I had never heard of. So, there was entertainment and education going on, which is never a bad combination.

While Ivy and Jinx are figuring out the mystery, and then the solution to the mystery, Ivy keeps bumping into little hints about her past and her own nature. Now, here is my second tiny quibble – Ivy was so dense about these hints concerning herself that I kind of wanted to give her a little shake and spell it out on a big white board for her. While I can appreciate she was distracted with the big bad mystery, there were also decent periods of quiet and reflection and she didn’t connect the dots. I thought this was a little out of place for her personality, one that is skeptical and always questioning.

We have a lot of great characters populating the story. Marvin is a young troll that took a beating sometime in the past and Ivy makes sure he has a safe place to sleep. He also does some work for Kaye O’Shaye, a witch and Hunter that Ivy spends time with. I especially liked Hob, the witch’s kitchen brownie. He has a thing for shiny objects. Jinx, Ivy’s best friend and chief side kick, was OK. I think I need more time to bond with her. She is into shoes and hairstyles and flirting, which aren’t my things, but she makes an interesting counterpoint to Ivy.

The last hour of the book was pretty darn intense. The mystery started off with a missing Kelpie king (Ceffyr) and that comes full circle at the end. Ivy has to face some fears and do some trusting. Lots of different types of folks come together to face the main threat and many of them have different reasons to do so. It was a neatly woven web there at the end.

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

Narration: Traci Odom once again was a good voice for Ivy. She sounds like a woman who hides knives and fights for troll rights while staring down vampires. I like her girly voice for Jinx (I can picture the makeup and curls whenever she uses Jinx’s voice). She also has distinct and believable voices for all the male characters. I especially liked her supremely distressed voice for Ceffyr. She did mispronounce the word ‘chitin’ and its derivatives a handful of times, though I won’t hold this against her.

What I Liked:  Plenty of action; a worthy mystery; worthy foes; lots of mythological creatures; Ivy’s practicality; a very well written ending that had me on the edge of my seat. 

What I Disliked: Ivy’s dislike of touching things/people is bashed into the reader repeatedly; Ivy is dense when it comes to her own nature and all the hints the people around her are throwing at her.

What Others Think:

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Giveaway & Interview: Elizabeth Jeannel, Author of The Travelers

JeannelTheTravelersFolks, please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth Jeannel, author of The Travelers, to the blog today.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

As a child, I definitely would have chosen a space alien because superheros were real to me, actively saving the world, I just hadn’t met them yet. As an adult, I’ve somewhat grown up. I currently think superheros just live among us waiting for their time to shine. I’d have to say Batman would be my chosen hero because, lets face it, there’s enough billionaires out there that someone could realistically step up and do the job. Until then, my life will not be complete. So, someone who knows a billionaire needs to tell them its Batman time; we are all waiting.

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?

Modern fantasy definitely affects human cultures today. People are constantly stepping up as they prepare for the zombie apocalypse (which is inevitable, might I add), some are even claiming to be vampires, others are searching for vampires, whether it be lover or hunter, people still look for Big Foot, and the age old Loch Ness, and we all know that the idea of time travel is secretly on the mind of everyone who can comprehend the idea. We want to believe what isn’t real because if the imaginary stay imaginary, life is just too normal.

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?

I think my favorite aspect about the self-pro process so far is that I’ve really had full control. I decide where to go, what to talk about, who to talk to, and why. No one tells me where I have to go or what I have to do. Ultimately, its up to me.

My least favorite part is that I’m alone. Everything I do is sort of in my hands, and its a learn as I go experience. Most of the steps I’ve taken so far have really come from reading the experiences of others, and trying my best to learn from them. The writing world is so vast, and unless you make the right friends, you aren’t really going anywhere. I’m still trying to make friends in general, but those that I have are amazingly supportive.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

When I read this question, I imagined that each of us would have the ability to use our writing freely. I.e. we could magically create things and change things just like we do in the word world. So, that being said, I would definitely bring J.R.R Tolkien back from the dead because who doesn’t love classic, by his side C.S. Lewis would be kicking it, I’d definitely add Jim Butcher along for the ride, and finally I’d add one more female to this group of manly men with Lauren Kate. I feel like I’d definitely be the weakest link with this group of literary geniuses, but I still think we would take that magical quest by the horns.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Sadly, I do most of my writing at my day job. Between caring for my spoiled cat, spending time with my disabled girlfriend, and doing that real work thing, I just don’t have a lot of spare time, except when work is slow. However, I typically leave an earthquake wherever I go, so if I had a Writer’s Den, it would most likely be a beautiful disaster. In all honesty, I’ve written at work between 911 calls, the park, school, the library, Starbucks (because I am a typical white girl and I don’t care), and even in the car at one point, BUT I prefer to be curled up with a blanket, munchies, and my favorite drink by a rainy window. I think that’s when I have my best creating juices flowing.

Care 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?

I can actually honestly share two of these moments because both are equally worth it.

Since my first book has not been released, and a recent accident forced me to put it off, I’ve had some of my friends and family in full suspense waiting for the release since the spring of this year. Well, about a month ago, I bumped into an old high school friend at our local mall, and she had to stop me and beg me to release my book soon. She even said she checked my facebook page regularly to see if I had posted any tidbits about the book. It was the first time that I realized that other people actually do care about my work, and I can’t get over that day.

My second story flashes back to the dark days before my self publishing adventure began. These were dark times, Susan, very dark times. I was doing the unthinkable and querying like crazy, when I stumbled upon the agent of one of my favorite authors (who shall remain nameless for lack of ridicule from the general public). I literally squealed, scaring my cat, my girlfriend at the time, and my in laws. Quickly, I began forming a query letter, without explaining my outburst, and clicked send. Of course, I never received a response, and it just so happens now that I’m glad about it, but at the time, the idea of having the same agent as one of my favorite authors was something beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank you for the interview, and I hope you have an amazing day!

JeannelTheTravelersBook Blurb for The Travelers:

The town Alex calls home has always felt safe to her, until three girls her age are found dead. When Alex’s father forces her mother to skip town with him, possibly for good, they leave Alex behind to fend for herself and unfold years of lies they have built her life upon. Jaze, who has been invisible by her side for months, appears just in time to eliminate any normality that remained in her life. He’s tall, dark and terrifying, though that wasn’t his intent. Just as Jaze is earning Alex’s trust, the Council, a feared and powerful group of leaders from his world, orders him to protect her with his life.

Jaze quickly becomes torn between his duty and his love for Alex. When her real memories of her childhood return, Alex tumbles head first into Jaze’s strange world and into his arms. While Jaze soon finds that Alex may not be the ordinary girl he had originally assumed her to be. Together the two of them discover that sometimes love and simplicity aren’t always options in life.

Places to Find Elizabeth

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GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!!!

Elizabeth Jeannel is offering up 2 ebook copies of her book The Travelers. This giveaway is open International! To Enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you think fantasy fiction affects modern society? 2) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends December 7th, 2015, midnight.

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Aurora Sky by Nikki Jefford

JeffordAuroraSkyWhere I Got It: Won a copy.

Narrator: Em Eldridge

Publisher: Nikki Jefford (2014)

Length: 6 hours 44 minutes

Series: Book 1 Vampire Hunter

Author’s Page

Aurora Sky just wants to finish out high school so that she can flee the frozen lands of Alaska for warmer weather and college. However, a nasty car accident leaves her life in the hands of some interesting secret government scientists that see a hidden potential in her. Now she’s stuck in Alaska receiving her necessary regular injections and paying off her debt by hunting vampires. As if high school was socially awkward enough.

I really liked how this was government sanctioned and assisted vampire hunting. I also liked that Aurora was given no choice about it and while she’s not terribly happy to have this life forced upon her, she pulls herself together and gives it a good try. Aurora’s blood can paralyze a sucking vampire for a short period of time, so she can turn around and behead the horror. Now, she just needs some fighting skills and a few sidekicks.

There’s plenty of action in this urban fantasy and I quite enjoyed all that. After all, if you are going to sit down to a vampire hunt, you need some good action scenes. There are nice breaks in between these scenes, giving depth to the book. For instance, since the car accident, Aurora has a very reasonable fear of being in vehicles and even driving. This obviously cramps her dating scene. Then there’s plenty of discussions with her assigned body guard. Home life is awkward too as her father has taken off while her mother feels both guilt (for signing off on the government procedure that kept her daughter alive) and huge relief (that her daughter is alive to be a bit miffed about the whole situation).

Then there is the romance element. So, there’s this somewhat bad boy at high school – Fane Donado. Obviously, this is the guy she’s going to fall for. Yet he has a secret and it is one that could put a permanent end to their budding romance. While I found the individual scenes flirty and even a little hot at times, the obviousness of Fane’s secret blared loud and clear. So, once Aurora figures it out, I am wondering if she’s been paying attention to all that special vampire hunter training or not. Over all, Aurora comes off as a little angsty, which is normal for someone who just had their life trajectory up ended, and pretty smart…. until she meets Fane. It’s like all her wits got pushed to the side and I felt it was too much even for puppy love to explain.

Also, this is a little pet peeve of mine. Why do we have a supernatural person who is a few hundred years old thinking it would fun to move to Alaska and go back to high school, again? It smacks a little of teen predator. I know this is a somewhat common theme right now in the vampire urban fantasy world, and yet it still gives me the creeps, just a little. So, I had to shove that tidbit aside and pretend Fane was as old as he acted in order to be OK with the romance.

Over all, it was an enjoyable quick listen. There’s several elements I enjoyed and I intend to check out the next in the series to see how Aurora meets her next challenge.

Narration: Em Eldridge had the perfect voice for Aurora – she was the teen who just had her life turned up side down, going through all these emotions and recovery, and settling into her new super secret life of vampire hunting while trying to finish out high school. Yep. Eldridge did an amazing job of portraying all that. She also had distinct and believable male voices and some wonderfully chilling vampire sounds as well.

What I Liked: The cover art; Aurora has her life turned up side down; the vampire hunting; great narration; the action scenes.

What I Disliked: Aurora loses her wits when it comes to romance; the romantic dude is like a couple hundred years older and trolling a high school for fun.

What Others Think:

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews

Club Nexus by E. J. Stevens

StevensClubNexusWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: E. J. Stevens (2014)

Narrator: Traci Odom

Length: 2 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2.5 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2.5 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This book reads more like 5 short stories as there are 5 viewpoints of basically the same event, an event that takes place at the questionable bar Club Nexus. Ivy Granger and her gal pal Jinx head out for a drink, well armed. There’s a faerie that was tricked into servitude by the bar owner and she is none too happy about it. Below the bar are a series of rooms for the special clients who have special needs. I’m sure Ivy wouldn’t mind firebombing them all.

We also have our favorite demon, Forneus. He’s had an attraction to Jinx for some time and she has always rebuffed him. However, this time the ladies have to deal with a blood thirsty Southern vampire. So Forneus’s martial skills may just come in handy. I really enjoy the tension between Jinx & Forneus. I look forward to exploring the other books in the series to see more of this. In this particular book, we get to ride around in Forneus’s head for a bit and it was very interesting to see how he truly feels towards Jinx.

My only complaint about this book is that some of it was repetitive, which can be expected since it’s the same situation told over and over again by all these different people. It was kind of like taking different witness statements at an accident scene actually.

The book has that right mix of sexy tension and action. Ivy, as usual, is good at smacking the bad guys. The real big bad guy in this story is worthy of the title and also worthy of his ending. While Jinx isn’t really battle-hardened, she does make a contribution to the mayhem. It was a fun listen.

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

Narration: Traci Odom was a nice pick  for this book. She had a very good range of voices, as this book required since it is told from 5 distinct viewpoints. There were also various accents (British, Southern, etc.). I really enjoyed her performance.

What I Liked:  Mix of action and sexy tension; Forneus’s point of view was the most entertaining; the bad guy was worthy of my hate; the end. 

What I Disliked: The book had some points that were a bit repetitive.

What Others Think:

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Rantings of a Reading Addict

The History & Folklore of Vampires by Charles River Editors

CharlesRiverEditorsTheHistory&FolkloreOfVampiresWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!).

Narrator: Jack Chekijian

Publisher: Charles River Editors (2015)

Length: 1 hour 21 minutes

Author’s Page

In this informational book, Charles River Editors looks at the history of vampiric folklore world wide, with a strong focus on Europe. The vampires of modern literature and cinema are not the vampires of the ancient past. Indeed, those beings that have been called ‘vampire’ often bear little resemblance to Bran Stoker’s version. This book explores the folklore, the history to the modern version of vampires, historic figures, and a biological explanation of why some corpses may be accused of being vampires.

Charles River Editors has given us another informative book. I have listened to several of these short histories and each one has been quite impressive in the depth of information that can be imparted in just over an hour. I have read a little on vampiric folklore and history and yet, there was more for me to learn from this book. I especially like that there is an emphasis on the original meaning of the vampire and the powers of vampires in ancient folklore. In many tales the vampire would be the spirit of a dead person who was determined to feed on the life force of a living being. There are a variety of world folklore shared in this book, including those about the chupacabra. Many of these tales have evolved over time, especially since the popularity of Bram Stoker’s Dracula hit Europe.

A chapter is devoted to historic figures that became wrapped up in the vampire folklore. Of course, this included Vlad ‘The Impaler’ Dracula. Vampire hunters are also discussed. Indeed, plenty of detail is provided about historic events where people dug up bodies, believing them to be vampires slumbering away the day, and the various ways the vampires were dispatched. This was a fascinating topic and I can only imagine that contagion was sometimes spread by those hell-bent on destroying vampires. Everyone today knows it is unsanitary to play with corpses.

I think this would be useful to those wanting a primer on vampire folklore as it definitely gives you a list of places, events, and people to research further, should you be inclined. I  found it fascinating because it demonstrates how human behavior and beliefs have kept this myth alive for centuries.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no charge via the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Jack Chekijian has given another worthy performance. There were several hard to pronounce proper nouns in this book, mostly places, and Chekijian did a great job not stumbling over them. I am sure there are a few myths (goat sucker?!?) that must have made the narrator giggle a little the first time he read them. However, none of that came through in the final product. He treated each myth with seriousness. 

What I Liked: Educational and entertaining!; fascinating subject; good reference for the beginner; very pleased to world folklore explored, not just European folklore; included historic figures.

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

That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures by TW Brown

BrownThatGhoulAvaWhere I Got It: Won a copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Celia Aurora de Blas

Publisher: Todd Brown (2013)

Length: 2 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 That Ghoul Ava

Author’s Page

Ava is a ghoul and didn’t know it at first. Indeed, life sucked and her human life ended one night. The next day she awoke and the changes were already done. Sunlight burned like a laser. Her sense of smell and hearing were intense. Teeth and claws appeared and her skin was a uniform grey. Oh, and the dead smelled divinely tasty.

This first book contains two short stories about Ava and her side kick Lisa. They work fine together as one happens shortly after the other chronologically. I so enjoyed this book! Ava is the next thing in urban fantasy. She has a sharp it and a snarky tongue. I repeatedly found myself snort laughing at the dark humor.

Ava has no grief over eating the naughty or the dead and I like this about her. After all, she has now entered a seedier world where the questionable and evil roam free. She doesn’t get all emotional over it; she simply deals with it, often with her shark mouth.

Lisa is a great sidekick because she is so very human. She’s messed up, fell in with a bad crowd. Yet she has maintained her sweetness and Ava is rather protective of this. Together, they are a well balanced team.

I especially like that Ava isn’t your typical Causcasian heroine. Hooray for diversity in fiction! Toss in the equivalent of a psychic gang boss for the area, a few vampires, and the run-of-the-mill street punks, and you have a very entertaining story!

The Narration: Celia Aurora de Blas was awesome! I absolutely loved her as Ava. She was so fun and I really felt she brought the humor to life in her performance.

What I Liked: Ghouls!; plenty of snarky humor; Ava is so capable and doesn’t cry about it; the cover art; Lisa is an excellent sidekick; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I so loved this book!

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Delicate Thorns by Ainsley Shay & Miranda Hardy

ShayHardyDelicateThornsWhere I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Angie Hickman

Publisher: Quixotic Publishing (2015)

Length: 2 hours 40 minutes

Shay’s Author’s Page & Hardy’s Author’s Page

She awoke alone on an island and has been so for some time now. She hungers for blood and avoids the sun. She has no memory of who she is nor does she know how she came to be on the island. Then a chance encounter with a group of tourists allows her to leave the island and rejoin society. Her missing past is a constant reminder that she isn’t normal. Her constant awareness of all the walking, talking meals is an annoyance.

Jasmine (for that is the name she chose for herself) fumbles through her life, Part II. At first, it was just about survival, and then it was about a little bit of happiness. She ended up in a larger city, one with a beach and a bad section of town, along with some higher end apartments that are mostly only inhabited by seasonal visitors. As she settles in and starts seriously wondering about her past, she also meets a young, handsome man who lives just a few doors down.

The most intriguing thing about this book was Jasmine’s hidden past. Of course I wanted to learn how she came to be on that island. Was she shunned by a vampire community? Was she once an oblivious tourist who was ambushed on that island and left to die to turn? There were plenty of questions swirling around Jasmine. Eventually, we do get the answers and they were doled out bit by bit, keeping the suspense high. The answer to this particular question was satisfying.

There are only a handful of characters in this book, being a novella or long short story. Jasmine gets the most page time and, hence, has the most development. I enjoyed her character arc from survivalist to answer seeker to someone just trying to fit in and live a life. The young man a few doors down was nice enough, though he was a little too perfect. If this had been a longer story, I would hope that he would have revealed some flaw sooner or later. Other characters show up late in the story so they don’t have time for deep thoughts, but they do play critical roles in unwinding Jasmine’s secret past.

The ending to the story was bitter sweet, and that is how I like it. Jasmine gets some, but not all, the answers and has to make some choices. I am hoping the authors choose to make this a start of a series as there is more for both Jasmine and the reader to explore.

Narration:  Angie Hickman was a great voice for Jasmine, using the perfect mix of anguished, ticked off, and lost soul. Eventually, as Jasmine’s character starts to settle in, we get other feelings. There are some very ugly characters in this book that have very small roles and Hickman pulled these off well too, though it was probably a bit hard. She had a good range of male and female voices, and also accents for a few of the characters.

What I Liked:  The mystery!; the cover art; Jasmine’s character was well rounded and had a good story arc; the ending was satisfying.

What I Disliked:  The handsome young man/love interest was a little too perfect – so perfect it was almost like he didn’t have any character depth.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

GladstoneThreePartsDeadWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Claudia Alick

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2012)

Length: 13 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Craft Sequence

Author’s Page

Tara barely graduated and was, in fact, kicked of of school upon gradation. Still, she managed to land a provisional job with a firm. Her first task is to use her Craft to find out how and why the fire god Kos died. The city of Alt Coloumb, once powered by the fires of Kos, is slowing down; soon, there may be riots, or worse.

This is a wonderfully complex tale, full of the imaginative (using star-light fired Craft to argue legalities), the unexpected (gargoyle protectors and vampire sailors), and the impertinent (Tara, our lead character). The world in which Alt Coulumb is set is big, but thankfully, the author has nearly all the scenes set in the city itself. There is a lot going on this world and this city is a great place to get some of the basics down. In a world of multiple deities, and some dead ones, we also have the once-human Deathless Kings, vampires, Stone Men, Wardens, and much more. There is plenty here to keep the reader entertained.

The magic system does take some getting use to. At first, we learn a few bits and bobs and then just have to believe it works. As the story unfolds, Tara, and her mentor Lady Elayne Kevarian, explain more of the mechanics to Abelard, a priest of Kos. Abelard doesn’t need to know how Kos’s power works; faith alone is enough for him. However, he can’t help but be curious as to what Tara is doing with her powers, and the body, in figuring out the mystery of who is responsible. So don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the Craft. Much will be revealed, a little won’t; but it’s all entertaining and worthy.

Tara herself is a joy to follow around. She has a sense of humor, a strong idea of write and wrong, and just enough crazy to jump in with eyes closed when that seems like the quickest route (or the only way). She was a wonderful character to explore this new world with. Her partner in justice, Abelard, was also fun, but in a different way. He approaches life quite a bit differently, through faith, and leather pants. Then there was Lady Kevarian – who may be good, may be evil, or simply might be on Tara’s side for now because it is convenient. I like having characters like this in the mix – they keep me (and the characters) guessing.

With more than one dead body to mess with, Tara has her hands full. Then toss in the Wardens, the Stone Men, and some other hazardous beings and you have a very good time (even if Tara doesn’t, running around constantly trying to keep herself alive).

The Narration: Claudia Alick was a good fit for Tara. She gave her the right mix of sincere quest for the truth and a shrug of the shoulders as you dive off the cliff.  She had a variety of male and female voices, plus really spooky voices for some of the not-quite-human beings we run into. 

What I Liked: The cover art; excellent narration; Tara was a very fun character; such a fascinating world!; gargoyles!; a very satisfying end.

What I Disliked: Nothing! This book was a real treat!

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The Vampire Dancer Saga: Part 3 by Shalimar Ali

AliTheVampireDancerSagaPart3Where I Got It: Won a copy from AudaVoxx (thanks!).

Narrators: Fatimah Halim, J. Lyle

Publisher: Belly Dance with Shalimar Ali (2014)

Length: 1 hour 7 minutes

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works OK as a stand alone.

Told in a series of short scenes, ancient queens and vampires compete and couple in the past, just as their dopplegangers do the same in our time. From Cleopatra to Dracula, belly dancing to the grind, ancient witch Queen Salome to modern day witch Grany Rosa Smith, this tale is anything but traditional.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this book. It does skip around quickly, so you have to pay close attention. There is also a large cast of characters, so you never have time to get attached to any one character. Instead, you simply have to sit back and enjoy the experience, like watching an hour of 80s music videos. Not every video has to make 100% sense, and they don’t have to necessarily relate to one another, and you certainly don’t get to know the individual band members from the one video they feature in within that hour.

The over all experience was definitely different. I wouldn’t have thought to pair vampires and belly dancing, both of which can be sexy things. I liked that we had more female roles than male roles (something that is still hard to find in today’s literature). However, I didn’t like that at least half of these ladies were in direct competition with each of for a man. Sigh. So cliche.

Still, it was an interesting experience and for an hour’s entertainment, you could do far worse.

The Narration: Fatimah Halim and J. Lyle were excellent narrators. For having to switch characters, locations, and times so often they did a very nice job. I really liked Halim’s rich, full voice that made me think of comfort food and curvy sexy women all at once. J. Lyle had to pull off some accents while sounding like he had pointy teeth, which he did very well.  

What I Liked: The cover art; the narration; so very different than anything else I have read lately; belly dancing!; plenty of female roles.

What I Disliked: Often the ladies were in competition with each for a man’s attention, which is simply boring.

Interview: Theresa Snyder, Author of Shifting in the Realms

SnyderShiftingInTheRealmsEveryone, please welcome Theresa Snyder, author of The Star Traveler series, The Farloft Chronicles, and contributor to the Twin Cities series. I first met Theresa through the Twin Cities series Facebook page which is doing a month long event this February with author specials and free books. Check it out!

Today we chat about Minotaurs, myths, gardening, shape shifters, and so much more! Enjoy!

1) 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?

In The Realms there are all manner of fantastical beings from shape-shifters to vampires and Minotaur to fire demons. I would really lover to meet my character, Cody, the wolf shape-shifter. I would avoid Raven the head vampire at any cost. Selfies? I would love one with Azur, the fire demon, but I know she would outshine me.

2) With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I think the Twin Cities Series, in particularly the ‘Shifting’ books could fall into multiple genres. They are paranormal due to setting, but some of the characters are fantasy and there is definitely a bit of romance running through them. I think this type of writing might make it difficult for a reader to find a specific genre book, but I also think it stretches a reader’s focus. They might find they like romance if it is tempered in a fantasy setting. Or they might enjoy paranormal if there is not a lot of violence like some straight paranormal might present to them. I like a mixture of several genres. I find that in Sherilyn Kenyon’s books. I was lured into them thinking they were paranormal and they have a good dose of sexual content which I did not expect, but found it added to the story significantly.

3) In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I have been told that I write very gray characters, meaning my bad guys are not ALL bad. I try very hard to put myself in all my character’s shoes and see things from their point of view. None of us are truly horrible all the time. Even a serial killer can be charming. Sometimes my villains redeem themselves, sometimes they do not.

SnyderJames&TheDragon4) In 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 love social media, in particularly Twitter. I enjoy meeting people and making friends. I have had personal encounters with folks I have met on Twitter and they are just as nice in person as on the web. Once again, I wish I had more hours in the day. I hate time zones. I am asleep most of the time that the folks in England are awake. It makes for some challenges to hook up and chat.

5) As a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

I love gardening. I can daydream my way through a tough spot in a story while I am trimming or nuking weeds. A nice garden also gives you a lovely place to sit and write or read when the mood strikes you.

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

I would go to The Realms and have a burger from Cody’s food truck. They are supposed to be the best in The Realms, and just think about all the people/paranormal watching you could do while you ate it.

7) Writing in the fantasy genre, how do you take the standard tropes and turn them sideways? Or even upside down?

I like taking the old tales of mythology and tweaking them. If you had a clan of Minotaur what would they be like? In the myth they are violent and eat men, but they are also bullheaded, literally, so what if you educated one? Would he be stubbornly fixated on his work? Since he is large, would he be a body builder? Could the introduction of a lady calm him? Would his interest or skills in other activities help him curve his violent tendencies?

8) What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I have a screened in/glassed in porch on the back of the house done in a Moroccan motif. It is my reading/writing cave. Only soft instrumental music is allowed, no TV. It looks out on the garden and I am inspired by nature around me. It is always neat. I can’t work if something is nagging me to clean it or pick it up.

SnyderTheHelaviteWar9) What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was the only girl in a house full of boys. I didn’t go to school until I was almost eight years old due to illnesses, so I spent a lot of my younger life telling myself stories and acting them out in my bedroom a night before bedtime. I have written since I can remember, letters with many pen-pals back in the old days of snail-mail and then journaling and short stories. I wrote my first novel during recesses in middle school. I never thought I would BE a writer. I thought I WAS a writer.

10) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Aside from my own stable of character, who I do sit down with on occasion, I would like to meet Smaug from The Hobbit. I am sure there is a side to his story we should know and there is no place better than over a cup of tea to find out a person or creature’s inner feelings. The Velveteen Rabbit, because he has always had a special place in my heart. Frankenstein, because I think he was terribly misunderstood and I could help straighten his life out for him. Stephanie Plum so I could get her tricks and secrets for attracting men when she eats donuts and pizza for almost every meal. And Akron from the Dark Hunters books because he just sounds so yummy.

11) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

1984 by George Orwell

The Stand by Stephen King

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

12) Do you have any strange writer ticks? Little oddities that come out when you’re working on a difficult passage?

If I ever encounter a passage where I cannot determine how to write it or which way it should go I always ‘sleep on it.’ I take a nap or let my mind work on it overnight. The answer is always there when I awake.

13) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I am currently working on the third ‘Shifting’ book in the Twin Cities Series. It will be a bit different and I hope my readers will enjoy the change. I didn’t want to fall into writing a formula series where the hero always saves the heroine, so I have borrowed one of the other author’s in the series character and it will be through his eyes. He will even witness events we have already seen from Cody’s point of view. I am finding it fun to write. I hope my readers find it as much fun to read.

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