Halfway Bitten by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayBittenCheck out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2016)

Length: 7 hours 19 minutes

Series: Book 2 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Note: This book works fine as a stand alone though I think you would enjoy some of the characters more if you read Book 1, Halfway Dead first.

Set in the picturesque, touristy New York town of Halfway, Carlie is still making waffles at the local diner. Wulfric is enjoying his new-found freedom, and Carlie’s company. Gus still appreciates having human slaves to open his tuna and provide a warm bed. But something is afoot, and it’s more than just the circus in town and the clowns cluttering up the diner. As more bodies pile up, Carlie and Gran must put their witchy powers to use. Vampires are crossing their territory and not all are behaving nicely.

This was another fun addition to the series. Carlie is a little older, a little wiser, but also completely smitten by her half-vampire Viking lover. I think her love life had her a little distracted throughout the book, but I can forgive her. It’s her first love and she’s fallen hard. Plus, Wulfric is an interesting character in his own right. Things are complicated a little by his previous girlfriend, a shape-shifter named Anna. They have a child together and so it’s unlikely that Anna will ever truly be out the picture, much to the irritation of Carlie.

The librarian was also a favorite character, even though I don’t recall his name. He’s a little awkward, totally geeky, and definitely a worthy ally. He helps Carlie dig up info on the first body and he doesn’t lose it when he actually sees the body. I also enjoyed the mail delivery lady. She has a wholesome sexuality that everyone enjoys. I am glad the author put this character in the story because she serves as counterpoint to Anna. Carlie goes off a few times about Anna’s promiscuity and it really borders on slut shaming, but then we have the mail delivery lady who Carlie likes. I’d like to point out we never actually see Anna behaving badly, we just hear about it from Carlie. Jealousy? Perhaps.

I really enjoyed Gran sharing one of her secret information sources, a certain ghost. That scene has stuck with me and still has me chuckling. I love that Gran is not only an important person in Carlie’s life but also a worthy mentor.

Eventually the mystery starts to unfold as more than one vampire attempts to cross the lands protected by the McEwan witches. And, of course, the clowns play into it as well. How could they not? If you find clowns a little creepy, then this story will raise your gooseflesh. I really liked the underlying mystery and Gran and Carlie have to go to battle with their witchy spells. I’m on the fence about whether or not I liked Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

Overall, this was a solid story and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out it. However, I did enjoy Book 1 more. Still, I look forward to the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Erin Spencer does another good job with this installment in the series. She really sounds like a 20ish woman. I also like her accent for Wulfric and some of the clowns had accents as well. Her Gran is also growing on me quite a bit.

What I Liked: Carlie’s determined to protect her territory; vampires; ghosts; Wulfric the viking vampire; great narration.

What I Disliked: Slut shaming? Perhaps; still on the fence about Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

About the Author Terry Maggert

AuthorTerryMaggertLeft-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

About the Narrator Erin Spencer

ErinSpencerNarratorErin loves audiobooks!  As an actress, they have allowed her to creatively stretch by playing all kinds of characters, all kinds of ages and all kinds of accents!  She voiced roles in the Audie award winning title, Illuminae and was also nominated for a Voice Arts Award in the romance category.  She has narrated over 100 titles and as an audiobook director has worked on at least 100 more.  She has worked for most of the major publishers and also enjoys working with indie writers who are some of the most talented writers out there! Follow her on Twitter @ErinSpencerLA or find her on Facebook, Erin Spencer Actress.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Book Blurb for Halfway Bitten

MaggertHalfwayBittenThe circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird. When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be. When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after. With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.

Audible ~ Amazon

Bayou Moon by Geraldine Allie

AllieBayouMoonNarrator: Ashley Huyge

Publisher: Punch Audio (2014)

Length: 1 hour 18 minutes

Series: Book 2 Werewolves & Shifters

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone story.

In this dark comedy, Maggie is a lonely vampire. She contemplates suicide but decides to try to make some company for herself first. Kreel and Charlie work at a cemetery, which is the perfect place to meet suicidal, lonely vampires apparently.

Charlie drinks on the job, which makes him an easy target when Maggie attacks. Alas, his head is dented in so he provides much of the humor for the rest of the story. Kreel is dead set against being a demon blood sucker forever so he has a huge argument with Maggie, which isn’t what she was expecting. Toss in some voodoo and family ties and there’s plenty of fodder for humor.

This story was quite a bit different from Book 1, Blood Moon. There’s dark humor every where (which I liked) but no sex of any kind (which was fine). The pacing is still swift as there’s plenty of ground to cover and characters to introduce in this short story. Over all, I liked this book better than Book 1. I felt the characters were a little better formed, I liked all the humor, and I didn’t have to put my suspension of disbelief in overdrive over some sudden hormonal romantic hookup. The ending does have a solid tie into the first book but you don’t have to have read it to enjoy this story.

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Ashley Huyge was great with the accents but didn’t do spooky at all. Instead she sounds chipper the entire way through, like a flight attendant. This worked for the humor but not for the lonesome suicidal part of Maggie’s personality.

What I Liked: Dark humor; Charlie’s dented head; Kreel’s rejection of Maggie’s ‘gift’; voodoo; eventual tie in to Book 1; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the chipper narration didn’t fit the character’s inner turmoil.

Darkness Haunts by Susan Illene

IlleneDarknessHauntsNarrator: Cris Dukehart

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2014)

Length: 9 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Sensor

Author’s Page

Melena Sanders, ex-military, is planning to attend college in the fall in California but right now she has to track down her missing friend, Aniya. A cryptic message left by her points Mel to Fairbanks, Alaska. There she discovers a war brewing that involves plenty of supernatural folks. Not all are human friendly. Luckily for Mel, she’s a little more than human. She’s a Sensor and that gives her just enough of an edge to be a true threat to these werewolves, vampires, and witches.

This is my new favorite urban fantasy series. This book is off to a good start, introducing our main character, Mel, and the paranormal world she deals with. Her dedication to her friends is a key component to the plot for this book. In her search for Aniya, she tries to keep Lizette out of it for her own safety. However, this goes a bit awry and I’m sure these two will have some words for each other later. She also makes some new friends in Alaska, some out of necessity and others out of choice. She needs all the assists she can get as she tries to find Philip Mercer, the last person Aniya was seen with.

There’s tons of alliances in this book and some of those alliances pull good folk into bad situations while other alliances pull questionable people into doing good deeds. Things, actions, and people are not always clearly evil or good and I really liked this aspect of the book. It kept me on my toes and engaged throughout the story.

There’s a powerful magic user, Variola, who holds several witches and werewolves in fealty. Mel has to make a deal with her and she wants an ancient vampire, Nikolas, found so she can destroy him in some ritual. However, the alpha werewolf, Derrick, isn’t too happy with how things are going down. Then there’s this Nephilim, Lucas, that follows Mel around. Half the time he’s keeping her from harm and the other half of the time he’s threatening to end her life. It’s a complex relationship that involved Lucas killing Mel’s protector, Wanda, several years ago with no explanation. Just because allegiances aren’t convoluted and strained enough, things get shook up once again when Nikolas comes out of his vampire sleep. Oh, yes! Whoever decides they want Nikolas dead is going to have their hands full!

One of the main draws for me was Mel’s character. She’s not without training and life experience. She has some years under belt and has had to make her way in the world for some years. She has been honed by both joys and tragedies. In short, she knows her own mind and walks into this story knowing exactly what her goal is (to get Aniya back) and can make her own decisions on how to go about it. She’s knowledgeable about guns and other weapons and not afraid of hurting or killing, if that is what’s needed. Yeah, I want to be Mel when I grow up.

On the other side of the coin, there’s a touch of flirtation here and there. Others have told me that there’s a full romance later on in the series, so for those of you who enjoy romance, you have that to look forward to. I found the flirtations of Nikolas amusing and they added a little bit of humor to a pretty tense book.

The ending did leave me with several questions concerning Lucas and Mel’s future. She has some hard choices to make, I think, in the next book. So I’m glad that the entire 6 book series is out, ready for me to tear through.

The Narration:  I enjoyed Cris Dukehart’s narration. She started off a little rough, making bullet statements, but within the first hour she smoothed out. I did like that she didn’t sound all girly, but rather as a grown woman who’s used to making her own decisions – which fits the main character perfectly. I also liked her various accents for some of the older characters. She made a very believable flirtatious 800 year old vampire. 

What I Liked: The main character – she has some life experience under her belt; the Alaskan setting; moose!; werewolves, vampires, witches & more; Mel has no hesitancy about using guns or other weapons; things aren’t black and white when it comes to good versus evil; her complex relationship with Lucas; the cover art.

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

What Others Think:

Urban Girl Reader

Para-Urban Reviews

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

ButcherGhostStoryWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2015)

Length: 17 hours 36 minutes

Series: Book 13 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

In the previous book, Changes, Harry Dresden, Chicago’s finest (and only) wizard, lost everything in the gambit to save his daughter.  He lost his office, his apartment, his car, and broke his back. So he had to make a deal with the lesser of three evils. His ability to walk restored, he soldiered on and while he saved his daughter from the Red Court vampires he also lost his life at the end of Changes. So this story opens with ghost Harry in a train station. There he meets a familiar face, Karrin Murphy’s old partner who died in one of the earliest books. He gives Harry some info but mostly evades questions as he ushers Harry over to Captain Murphy’s office –  Karrin’s long deceased father. There Harry is given a choice – he can continue on his ghostly journey (and, no, they don’t know what waits outside of their ghostly city) or he can go back as a ghost to prevent harm from coming to three of his friends.

Of course, we all know what Harry decides. So he’s dropped off outside Mortimer’s because he’s the only guy Harry knows that has the ability to reliably communicate with ghosts. There we meet one of Mortimer’s protectors, Sir Steward. Sir Steward explains more about who the ghost world works and Harry has to be rather careful to not think too loudly less he attract ghosts who want to devour his essence. I really liked Sir Steward. He had a dry sense of humor and a strong sense of honor and a very solid idea of who and what he is, which has allowed his ghost to live on as long as it has.

Harry had an uphill battle the entire time in this book. It was crazy. He’s been dead for 6 months and while no one retrieved his body, there was far too much blood left at the scene. So lots of folks have trouble believing that either Harry is dead (Karrin) or that he is a ghost zipping around trying to rescue folks (nearly everyone). Even Mortimer, who accepts that Harry’s dead, doesn’t want anything to do with his ghost. But Harry saves his life and Mortimer gives him a small amount of his time, initially. Harry has to keep on hacking away (pleading, bargaining, threatening) at Mortimer to get more of his time.

Things have gone to rubble while Harry was away. Molly has become unpredictable and homeless. Karrin lost her job. The streets are dangerous now in nearly every neighborhood. Things that had stayed away from Chicago because Harry protected it have come creeping in. But not all is doom and gloom. Mister, Harry’s cat, made it out of the fire in the last book and found a decent home. Mouse, his dog, is happily guarding his daughter who also landed in a loving home. There’s plenty more along those lines, some of which jerked some emotions out of me. Harry, in classic ghost story form, gets a good look at what his presence meant to those that cared for him.

OK, so besides all the feels in this book, there’s plenty of action too. Harry has been tasked with finding his own killer, which is no easy feat. Then this bully and low-level magic user makes his presence known by ordering a drive-by shooting. Through him, Harry learns that one of his old enemies is in town, but this enemy has a new and powerful sidekick. So Harry is floating  around (or sometimes zipping around) Chicago learning to use his ghostly skills and fighting crime. Yay! He’s also learned to make use of that grave that the Black Court vampire lady bought for him several books back. A ghost has to rest sometimes.

Since memories have power in ghostland, and can also be used to trade for favors, we get to learn more of Harry’s past. I was particularly intrigued by the memories of his time with Justin DuMorn. Harry keeps getting more and more complicated – and I like it!

The ending was fantastic! I loved the final fight scenes and how folks came together to do what they could. It was a lot of fun but also filled with tension and since Butcher killed off Harry I have this fear that he might start bumping off favorite characters. Lots of good stuff went down in that final fight scene.

Afterwards, we learn a few more tidbits. The mystery of Harry’s killer has been revealed. Harry has a chance to see his family members, such as Thomas. I have to say that I felt Butcher bent the rules just a little on the Thomas/Justine love but don’t touch thing. It was sweet but I also felt it was a cheat. Anyway, it’s such a minor thing. The ending did have one last surprise, so I hope you have the next book handy. This was another excellent addition to one of my favorite series.

Narration: This book was originally narrated by John Glover but fans had become accustomed to James Marsters’s performances and didn’t want a switch in narrators this late in the series. So Penguin Audio re-recorded it with James Marsters. Hooray! His performance was spot on, as always. Harry has some really complex emotions in this book, usually about his daughter, and Marsters did an excellent job of getting those across to the listener. I also loved his voices for Molly as she impersonates various characters from the original Star Trek crew.

What I Liked: Harry has a whole new set of rules to figure out; the key to the mystery of who killed Harry; what became of his friends and pets after his death; Mortimer’s continued resistance to become entangled in Harry’s ghostly affairs; the big final fight scene; the warp up; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: There is this teensy criticism about Thomas and Justine and their work around.

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

Love Vampires

The Ranting Dragon

iO9

Fantasy Book Critic

Rhinehoth by Brian E. Niskala

NiskalaRhinehothWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: John Pennington

Publisher: Brian E. Niskala (2016)

Length: 10 hours

Author’s Page

Poor Simon Roberts. He doesn’t know what he’s in for. He fled England because he had made one too many mistakes in the criminal world. Now in Germany he hopes to make his entry into the jewelry heist business by acting as the getaway driver. Things go very, very wrong for him and he ends up in Rhinehoth prison, which is an isolated ancient castle that was converted to a prison in WWII. Rhinehoth has many secrets and Simon is afraid of most of them.

Earlier this year, I read the classic The Sound of His Horn by Sarban and this spooky, suspenseful tale has echoes of that classic. Isolated German castle – Check! Aristocratic jailers bent on a ‘higher’ purpose – Check! Strange, beast like qualities in some of the humans – Check! Dark mystery and deep suspense – Check! If you have enjoyed that classic, then I think you would like this book because it has much of the same flavor but with more going on. There’s werewolves and vampires and an ancient hero come to life and deep questions about choosing morally right over instinct. Quite frankly, I wish we had had two days of thunderstorms so I could listen to this book with lightning flashing outside my windows and rolling thunder above.

Simon Roberts starts off as a fairly simple man. Stuff always ‘happens’ to him (he’s never the architect of his own circumstances, according to him). Indeed, he’s a little bit of a whiner. Then he gets sent to Rhinehoth and stuff really does start happening to him that is weird and dangerous and often leaves bruises. I started to feel for the guy. For a chunk of the book, he does fumble around, simply trying to serve out his time. Then this mix of curiosity and self-preservation pushes him to look around a bit more. With his friends Mouse and Michael, they come across some really questionable things, like lots of bodies hanging suspended in vats. Ugh!

Dr. Maxine Huellen is the daughter of the warden (Adolph). Well, adopted daughter. She has a lot of secrets. She’s got these ice blue eyes and Simon finds he’s very drawn to her. In fact, he has several sexual dreams of her. The story makes much out of these dreams, but I have to say that Simon is dreaming what most of the inmates are dreaming, since it appears that Maxine in is the only female on the premises. For much of the story, she is the only female and nearly her entire role is as the sex object/object of affection, though we do occasionally get glimmers that she actually has a degree and does use it from time to time. A few other ladies appear much later in the book, such as Esmerelda (who is highly sexualized) and some witches.

Simon starts having these rather vivid memories that he’s not sure are his memories. The first one is from his childhood and involves wolves. Then a little later in the story he has a very, very long flashback of a dream that explains a chunk of the Rhinehoth history. While I enjoyed this part of the story, it really did take me out of the main story line for a significant amount of time. Also, I felt the timeline became a bit muddled. The book description talks about ancient times, centuries past. Yet I think that tanks and Hitler were mentioned in this long flashback, so I was definitely confused as to what happened when.

The last two or three hours of the book felt really sped up to me. A lot happens in those last hours whereas the pace has been steady throughout the rest of the book. For instance, Simon takes several weeks to become a trained fighting man in the space of perhaps three sentences. Still, the ending did maintain the tension we’ve had for the entire book and Simon has this big chance to show his true grit. This final bit of the book really plays out questions of souls, the morale good, might vs. right, etc. There’s a lot of good stuff going on in the end, I just wish it had the same page time as the rest of the book. All in all, it was a worthy suspenseful tale of werewolves and vampires that relied on characters and plot and not so much on gore and body count.

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

Narration: The narration is OK. The main narrator, John Pennington, sounds bored most of the time. Then other character voices (and I think some are performed by other narrators though I can’t find a credit to them) cut in and out, sometimes overlapping Pennington’s narration by a beat or two, and sometimes they aren’t the same volume. Then there are some sound effects here and there, but for most of the story they are so quiet I am wondering what they are and if they are really on the audiobook. The editing does get better as the story moves forward. The ladies especially put a lot of emotion into their characters. In fact, the performance of all the female characters is very theatrical and shows a distinct difference to Pennington’s subdued performance.

What I Liked: Plenty of suspense; ancient German castle with a dark history; Simon and friends risk much in trying to figure out what is going on; werewolves and vampires!; some deeper questions get to play out later in the book.

What I Disliked: The timeline of the backstory was a bit muddled; the ending didn’t have the same pacing as the rest of the book; the narration was mediocre.

What Others Think:

HorrorNews.net

The Audio Book Reviewer

S.P.I.R.I.T.

Taliesin Meets the Vampires

Changes by Jim Butcher

ButcherChangesWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 15 hours 28 minutes

Series: Book 12 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Out of Harry’s past, Susan Rodriguez gives him a call, though it isn’t to swap the latest news of their lives. Their daughter, Maggie, has been taken by the Red Court vampires and Harry is ready to go on the war path. Harry will give up plenty in this book in order to save a child he has never met.

Way back on my review for Book 3, I said that’s when the series gets real and the ante was upped. Now, this is the book that showed me the author isn’t afraid to push that envelope to the breaking point. I had plenty of emotions on this one, even on the reread. Harry can take only so much abuse!

Susan, who is tainted with Red Court vampire bite but has held off the change all these years, flies into town with her sidekick, Martin (who shares the same affliction). They work with Harry, Thomas, and Murphy to dig up info on one of the leaders of the Red Court, Arianna Ortega. Harry soon learns that he’s got a pair of vampire assassins after him and they have some monstrous near-jaguar thing (which he calls the Ick) with them. The Ick quickly scraps his car and the assassins take out his office. It only gets more heated from there.

Harry calls in every favor owed him and then some in his hunt for info on his daughter’s location. He even burns a few bridges with the White Council of wizards in doing so. A handful of folks guess why this one human child is worth so much to him and all who know advise him to keep that very, very quiet. Meanwhile, Harry is advised to seek out some assistance from crime lord John Marcone, who points him to Monoc Securities. This is one of my favorite little parts of the book. I love that the author starts to pull in some deities as Harry gains in power.

The assassins aren’t done with Harry and he continues to lose things that matter to him. Eventually, he’s trapped between a rock and a hard place and he has to do something he never wanted to do. That was tough. It makes a great read and a great story but I also felt for Harry in that moment when he makes the decision.

The last quarter of the book is this long running battle full of individual triumphs and failures as Harry and his friends face off with the Red Court. It’s incredible! So many people laying it all on the line against such odds and Harry really letting his inner dark side out to play! It was intense but not fatiguing.

There are plenty of repercussions to that lengthy fight. Some we know by the end of the book and some we don’t until later in the series. That’s one thing I really enjoy about this series: your actions have repercussions, no matter your reasons. For instance, Murphy took yet more time off from work to assist Harry and she will pay for that. We also learn some things about Harry’s past and about his mother. All in all, I think this is one of the best books in the series.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do awesome work with this series. He is angry Harry, tender Harry, sad Harry, relieved Harry, etc. He really owns this character. In this book, he also does a great job with some Mayan words (such as the full name of the Ick). His voice for the Red King of the Red Court Vampires is chilling. I also love his voice for the delighted, and perhaps slightly demented, Liana (Harry’s fairy godmother).

What I Liked: Several significant changes happen to Harry in this book; actions have consequences; Harry pulls out all the stops to rescue his daughter; there’s at least one kiss, betrayal, sword fights, might and magic, and overwhelming odds!; great narration; significant ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – one of the best books in the series!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

Love Vampires

The Ranting Dragon

Guild Master Gaming

iO9

Fantasy Book Critic

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

ButcherTurnCoatWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 14 hours 4o minutes

Series: Book 11 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only wizard PI, was quite surprised to find Warden Donald Morgan on his doorstep asking for his assistance. Even though Morgan tormented Harry for years, Harry can’t help but be curious. Morgan has been accused of treason by the White Council and Harry has a limited time to figure out who really did the deed.

For all those who wondered what Harry and Morgan could accomplish if they could set aside their animosities and suspicions, this book contains the answer. I loved the set up for this book. Harry and Morgan have detested each other for years and Morgan has tried to execute Harry every chance he got. Now Morgan is forced by circumstance to go to Harry for assistance. Haha! I think it’s Harry’s deathwish-cat level of curiosity that makes the decision for him to take up the challenge of hiding Morgan while trying to uncover the real culprit.

Harry and Morgan aren’t the only two that harbor suspicions – this book brings in various characters that distrust one another. Harry trusts Molly to tend to Morgan’s wounds, but Morgan has just as much dislike for Molly as he does Harry. Then Thomas is brought into the mix – and Morgan can’t contain himself when it comes to vampires, even White Court vampires! Luckily, Mouse, Harry’s dog, has the most common sense and forcibly quells disagreements a few times. Mouse is my hero!

Something horrible is tracking Morgan, besides the White Council wizards. I don’t want to spoil what it is, so I’ll just use Harry’s petname for it- Shagnasty. It’s strong. It’s brutal. Morgan defeated one once, but it took great timing and a serious bomb. Harry might not be able to pull off the same. Butcher does a great job of getting across just how evil and dangerous this thing is! Billy and the college campus werewolves make an appearance in this book and they take their first hard hit in fighting Shagnasty. A bit sad. But that just fuels the fire for taking out Shagnasty.

I do believe this is the first full length novel we meet the mortal, every-day kind of PI Vince in, though I think he appears in one of the earliest short stories. Vince isn’t willing to give Harry much info. However, he’s probably no match for Molly. We also have our first introduction to Binder, a low-level magic user with one trick, though it’s an effective trick. He wreaks havoc on Harry’s attempts to keep Morgan hidden and to keep his apartment in one piece. Toss in the on-going tortured love between Thomas and his mortal girlfriend Justine, a deceptive yet stupid cousin of Lara Wraith’s, Shagnasty capturing and torturing one of Harry’s companions, the distrust of Antonia Luccio, and then Harry has his work cut out for him!

The ending to this book surprised me the first time I read it. During this reread, it still hit hard. I can see this as one of those turning points in Harry’s life. He spent a chunk of his teen years and his early adulthood fearing and hating Morgan. Now, as a wizard in his own right and a man who has been through a lot of scary stuff, he still had all this emotional baggage towards Morgan. Yet he helps him because he believes in doing what is right. There at the end, Morgan asks Harry to continue to do what’s right even though that means covering up the truth for now. It was a bit of a gut-wrencher but very worthy!

Narration: James Marsters, our Harry Dresden incarnate, continues to do the character justice. I’ve always liked his stern voice for Morgan; in this book, we get to see more sides to Morgan and Marsters does a good job of keeping that stern voice while also letting some other emotions creep in. Shagnasty’s voice must have done a number on Marsters vocal cords! It was so harsh and creepy!

What I Liked: Morgan needs Harry’s help; Mouse’s common sense keeps Harry’s guests from killing each other; Shagnasty is probably Harry’s toughest opponent yet; the ending has plenty of serious stuff; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

The Ranting Dragon

Daniel’s Corner Unlimited

Fantasy Book Review

The Mad Hatter’s Book Shelf & Book Review

Small Favor by Jim Butcher

ButcherSmallFavorWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 13 hours 47 minutes

Series: Book 10 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Billygoat? If you’re not, then you should be and this story serves as a good example as to why. The story starts off with a friendly snowball fight at the Carpenter household, which then turns into a murderous brawl between Harry and some gruffs (which look a lot like upright billygoats). As Harry ponders over the implications of this latest tussle, Sargent Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD tasks him with checking out a site with his wizardly senses. There he finds a large pentacle…. and Mab, a Queen of the Winter Court. She calls in a small favor from Harry: John Marcone, crime lord of Chicago, has gone missing and Mab wants him found.

When Mab is in the human world, her voice alone can kill mortals. So she talks through a grimalkin, which is like an extra evil large cat. The things Mab can do to Harry with just her voice make me shudder! And Toottoot tried to warn Harry, but Harry is too curious for his own good.

This is probably my 2nd or 3rd reading of this book and for some reason I always forget everything about it except for the gruffs because they are awesome and scary. And perhaps because Harry is always mentioning their..um… tackle. So once again I was pleasantly surprised by what took place in this installment of the series.

The Denarians are back in play and they are after something pretty darn important, if only Harry could figure out what it is in time. He teams up with Anastasia Luccio (a Warden for the White Council of wizards), Ivy the Archive (who has everything that’s ever been written down in human history memorized), and her bodyguard Kincaide (who has a secret supernatural side). Eventually, Harry has to make some hard choices about whether or not to do a trade with the Denarians. He is not a happy camper about it and he decides to play dirty (hooray!).

Luccio actually makes a play for Harry and he is totally oblivious. Poor dude. Bob the Skull has to point it out to him later. Of course Bob does it with his usual entertaining sarcasm. Harry’s love life, tho small and intermittent, is a mess.

Sanya and Michael (both Knight Templars with saintly swords) lend a hand in the final showdown. Murphy, Thomas Wraith of the vampire White Court, Molly (Harry’s apprentice), and Toottoot with the honor guard faeries all volunteer to help Harry out in some way. This lengthy scene is pretty intense. Harry finally puts a name to what Ms. Guard is, besides being a very deadly assistant to John Marcone. Harry also discovers a new power which, upon explanation from Bob, scares a little poo out of him.

One of the things I really like about this series, is that as the stakes get higher, the consequences go up as well. People get injured. In this book, one of Harry’s friends takes a hard hit and the book leaves us wondering just how bad it is. It’s a good thing the next book in the series is already out. Also, more and more Harry is learning that he can’t be the sole person to fight evil; he needs help from friends and allies and he won’t be able to protect them all.

Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden. I really liked his creepy voice for the grimalkin and his uber-creepy voice for Mab. As always, his voice for Toottoot is both amusing and sincere. Marsters makes a pretty good gruff too, sounding like an angry billygoat.

What I Liked: The stakes are raised; Harry has friends and questionable allies along for the ride; the Denarians return for another round; Mab doesn’t accept Harry’s insolence lightly; the final big showdown at the end.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

The Ranting Dragon

Grasping for the Wind

Daniel’s Corner Unlimited

Notes from a Readerholic

Writing About Reading

White Night by Jim Butcher

ButcherWhiteNightWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 14 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 9 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Karrin Murphy has taken a vacation day and she has chosen to spend that day showing Harry a supposed suicide crime scene. She has her doubts and Harry Dresden, Chicago’s wizard PI, has his ways of accessing info that most people aren’t privy to. Now Harry finds himself drawn into a series of murders (which look like suicides on the surface) of low-level magic users. As he starts chasing down leads, he and Karrin can’t help but turn a questioning eye towards Thomas Wraith as a man matching his description was last seen with several of the victims.

Harry is now in charge, officially, of Molly’s magical training and this is the first murder investigation he takes her on. The first step is the morgue and a visit with the mortician Waldo Butters. Harry takes the time to teach Molly the basics about reading a corpse of some of it’s final memories. Molly was pretty nervous but her first foray into this little magic trick isn’t what any of them expected. Ha! It does give Harry one more piece of info on the killer but not near enough to figure out who it is.

This book brings back some old enemies and frenemies and brings in some new ones. There’s gentleman John Marcone, Chicago’s crime lord, and a personal favorite of mine. Harry and Marcone often grudgingly swap info and this time Harry will need Marcone’s muscle. Then there’s Thomas’s sister Lara Wraith. A new enemy plus an enemy Harry thought was dead bring some ghouls to the party and the festivities are well underway.

Murphy and Harry have messed with ghouls before. Pretty messy things and hard to kill when they are in a group. In this book, Harry has some flashbacks to one of his side jobs during a summer in New Mexico when he was training some of the new Wardens in combat magic. Ghouls are gruesome and Harry has it out for them. I like that we have this degenerate enemy that we can feel guilt-free in totally hating but I also like that Butcher doesn’t make them mindless.

Harry and a few other wizards have suspected for a while that there is some evil force working within the White Council but Harry has had no proof and no person to point the finger at. In this book, Harry gets a few more hints and some definite indicators that this nebulous evil force wants Harry out of the picture. This being a reread for me, it’s great to see how well Butcher lays some ground work here for some big things that come later.

Harry’s old flame Elaine returns to the storyline and provides Murphy and Harry with some help on their investigation. Now, I’ve never quite gotten around to trusting Elaine fully. But Harry does and for now that will have to be good enough for me. On one hand, I find her hard to trust because she doesn’t have an allegiance to any group and she works hard to stay under the radar. On the other hand, I think younger Harry might have done much the same if he had gotten the chance. So until Elaine proves to be a bad guy, I have to mark her down as an asset and a good guy.

Ramirez strolls back in to the plot and strikes up a flirt with Molly. Ramirez talks a bit of a game but once he’s faced with the White Court vampires, his sexual prowess is revealed in detail. Ha! Still, Ramirez stands besides Harry in the thick of it at the end of the book. It’s quite a show down. It is one of my favorite fight scenes in the series, and a lengthy one at that too. Harry’s snark is allowed to run lose and Lara takes the brunt of it at one point. Mouthwash indeed!

At the end, Harry discovers how Thomas has been keeping himself so well fed and he’s quite surprised! So was I the first time around. Molly has learned a bit about her own limits when it comes to combat magic and situations. Mouse, Harry’s dog, is more than he seems. And there’s tons more fall out from the happenings in this book but I don’t want to get spoilery. Over all, this book has a bit more serious tone to it. Harry is still a smart mouth and that brings some much needed comic relief to certain scenes, but the stakes have gone up. With that, the characters are all getting a bit more serious, pushing on each other harder, lines are drawn in the sand. All together, this is one of my more favorite books in the series.

Narration: James Marsters continues to give this series a fine performance. I greatly enjoyed his voice for Thomas especially when Thomas is putting on a fake French accent. His ghoulish voices sound just as demented, wet, slurred, and deceitful as I imagined they would. Once again, he does a very convincing seductive and charming Lara Wraith.

What I Liked: Thomas is a suspect; Marcone returns to the plot and there is a price for his assistance; Murphy continues to pay a price for helping Harry –  it’s not fair but it’s realistic; Molly’s first on a lot of stuff; the lengthy fight scene at the end; Thomas’s job.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Founding Fields

The Book Bag

Sarah’s Reviews

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

ButcherProvenGuiltyWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 16 hours 16 minutes

Series: Book 8 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only PI wizard and now a Warden for the White Council, gets called up by Molly to bail her friend out of jail. He’s not happy about it, but he knows that Molly is having some issues. He gets talked into checking out SplatterCon!!! where Molly is one of the lead organizers. The White Council has reports of some evil magic happening in Chicago and they’ve tasked Harry with finding the source and dealing with it. SplatterCon!!! turns out to be a bit scarier than anyone figured when a horror movie monster comes to life and starts taking out the guests. Someone is inviting in phages from the Nevernever. Not good!

Later on, Molly disappears and Harry has to try every trick in the book to locate her. While he is attempting to locate her, he learns some interesting things about Charity, Molly’s mom. I really liked that we get to learn more about her as she has been a rather minor character in the series so far. As we know from previous books, she doesn’t like Harry, and now with Michael (her husband and a Knight Templar) away on ‘business’, she is stuck in this position where Harry is her best hope of finding and helping Molly.

Later on, Harry and some trusted allies have to suit up and head into the Nevernever. Without giving too much away, Thomas of the White Court vampires, is an excellent fighter and there are some great scenes with him kicking in teeth and stomping on faerie wings. The efforts of Harry and crew in the Nevernever have repercussions, some of which are known by the end of this book, but then there are some that don’t become apparent until later in the series. That’s another cool thing about these books. In rereading the series, I can see these ripples easier and it’s just amazing how well laid out the big arching plot is for the series.

Before the book is over, Harry has to face some of his fears as well. One of them, he knows is coming and he has time to think about how he will handle it. The second comes as a bit of a surprise and a relief once he starts talking about. I really liked that Harry had to deal with some of his biggest fears in this book.

At the end of the previous book, Dead Beat, Thomas moved out of Harry’s place. Harry spends the entire book wondering what Thomas is now doing for a living. He’s looking healthy and Harry worries that he’s turned to the dark side in feeding. The ending to this little mystery is quite amusing but we don’t get that until later in the series.

As usual, there’s a slew of returning characters in this book. Police officer Rawlins, who knew Murphy’s dad back in the day, is tasked with guarding a crime scene that Harry wants access to. Murphy of course is around and also accompanies Harry into the Nevernever. Lashiel’s carbon copy in Harry’s head is rather insistent in being of assistance and Harry learns some mental skills in blocking her out. The Lady Summer Lily and her Knight Fix put in an appearance as well. Even Harry’s godmother has a little role. There’s more, but these are the ones that stood out to me. This book is another great addition to the series and I had a lot of fun with the fear theme for the book.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do a worthy Harry Dresden. His female voices are on good display with this book : Charity, Molly, Lashiel, Murphy, Harry’s godmother, the Summer Lady, etc. He makes them all distinct and feminine.

What I Liked: The theme of fear used throughout the book; SplatterCon!!!; Molly has a lot of issues; Charity’s trusting of Harry; the gang goes to the Nevernever; Harry has to face 2 of his biggest fears.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a joy to listen to!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Founding Fields

The Ranting Dragon

L. K. Evans