Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

ButcherDeadBeatWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 15 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 7 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 extend, 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.

It’s going to be another long weekend for Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. Mavra, a Black Court vampire that Harry has previously tangled with, blackmail’s Harry into seeking out the Word of Kemmler (a powerful book by the necromancer Kemmler). This will be no easy task for Harry and he will be constantly weighing which is the lesser of two evils for the entirety of the book.

This is one of my favorite books in the series for several reasons. First, I really felt the stakes were higher in this book and I like that Harry doesn’t have many clear cut good/bad choices in this story. True, he’s trying to save all his friends some grief, but in order to truly pull that off he has to deal with Mavra or find a way to double cross her that doesn’t put any of them in peril. Second, Harry gets more responsibility in this book. I think he’s ready for it even if he doesn’t and while he doesn’t like the guise that responsibility comes in, I think he will be a positive influence on others who share the same responsibility. Finally, there’s a dinosaur. Yup. Harry Dresden and a dino. Freaking awesome!

Waldo Butters, the mortician, gets a larger role in this installment of the series as well. I really like how Harry doesn’t discount Butters’s abilities just because Butters is afraid. There’s plenty of scary bad guys in this book and it makes sense that non-magic users would find them super intimidating. Polka will never die! – thanks to Waldo Butters.

Sheila Starr, a woman who works at a bookstore, is another interesting character. She offers Harry the chance to flirt but she also has her secrets. Then there is Carlos Ramirez, one of the Wardens for the wizarding White Council. I like his cockiness and willingness to jump into the middle of things. Then there is the Wild Hunt and the Erlking who makes life for Harry just that much harder. Bob the Skull also plays a critical role and we learn a bit more about Bob’s past.

Harry – the poor man! He has to face some tough truths in this book and one of them is about his own flexible moral compass. Another is about what powers he is offered by stronger beings and how much he is or is not willing to lean on them. However, the ending was just as satisfying as ever. I like that things are a little messy and that not everything is wrapped up with a pristine halo at the end.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do Harry Dresden justice with this series. I also like his nerdy, Jewish voice for Waldo Butters – he does a great job with this character when he is panicking. Ramirez’s smooth Hispanic accent was nicely done as well. Captain Antonia Luccio’s Italian accent was lovely as well as decisive and tired from the fight. Marster’s voice for Mavra once again sent chills down my spine.

What I Liked: Playing with dead things; Waldo Butters’s keeps the beat; a dino!; Harry has to deal with bad guys every step of the way; Harry gets more responsibility foisted on him; great narration; we learn some of Bob’s past; the Wild Hunt!

What I Disliked: Nothing – tons of fun!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

The Founding Fields

The Useless Blog

Confessions of a Christian Freak

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

ButcherBloodRitesWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 13 hours 11 minutes

Series: Book 6 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: The previous book (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 extend, 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.

Many years ago, a friend lent me her old Kindle in an attempt to bring me into the 21st century and this book was one of the first books listed and so I jumped right into it not knowing it was Book 6 in this series by some author I had never heard of. I absolutely loved it and went back and read the previous books. Now, finally, I have recently read the first 6 in order and I’m glad I did. Each book definitely builds upon the others and the larger story arc that holds them all together is much more apparent when the books are read in order.

Chicago’s only phone-book listed wizard is about to get pulled into a very odd job. Thomas Wraith, a White Court vampire, has helped Harry more than once and Harry isn’t too sure why. But now Thomas calls in a favor – he wants Harry to help his friend, a movie producer. He believes he is at the center of a curse, the Evil Eye. And since Thomas just helped him rescue a litter of Temple dogs from monkey poo flinging demons, Harry can’t say no. However, Thomas failed to mention that his friend works in the adult film industry. Harry is in for an education!

As Harry digs into the Evil Eye mystery, he is attacked by a vampire. It looks like he has to deal with a nesting Black Court vampire in the area and he suspects Mavra. Harry starts building his team of vampire hunters even as he narrows in on the cause of the Evil Eye. He taps Karrin Murphy for this hunt which is great. She was mostly absent in the last book. He also calls in Ebeneezer McCoy, his old mentor, and Kincaide, the bodyguard of the Archive. This mix leads to some interesting revelations about Ebeneezar and Kincaide. Pretty serious stuff!

Another reason I really enjoyed this story is that it introduces Mouse, Harry’s dog. In this book, he’s just a puppy and he gets snuggles from everyone, whether they be a police detective, a porn star, or a vampire. Everyone loves a floppy-eared pup. There’s also this dynamic between Harry and Thomas. They aren’t quite friends but they do have some mutual trust going on. Yet Harry still wonders why Thomas has helped him out as often as he has. In this book, Harry finds out. It’s pretty intense and we get to see the darker side to the White Court, which up to this point has been a rather mild bad guy organization of incubi.

There’s plenty of Harry’s snarky humor flung about in this book. I recognized some favorite movie references as well. While Harry works the Evil Eye case, he makes some interesting observations about the adult film industry, like how it’s not all that sexy to have someone yelling directions as you get busy. It’s done really well without being raunchy. By the end, Harry has suffered a serious physical injury and he’s also learned some truths that are hard to swallow. While the humor is great in this book, I enjoyed the serious parts more. I definitely feel like Dresden is being prepped by something (fate? a twisted author?) for something bigger.

 

The Narration: James Marsters is a continued win for the voice of Harry. He also did a Greek accent for the movie producer that was well done. I really liked the screaming of Harry and Thomas as they attempted to avoid the demons in the opening scenes. His regional accent for Ebeneezar was great and his ultra-spooky voice for Mavra was hair raising!

What I Liked: Fun with the adult movie industry!; Mouse the pup; some key revelations in this book; Yeah! Murphy’s back!; learned more about the White Court; Harry takes his first serious long-lasting injury; the mix of seriousness and humor.

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

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

Love Vampires

L. K. Evans

Merric’s Musings

The Founding Fields

That’s What I’m Talking About

Daniel’s Corner Unlimited

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

ButcherDeathMasksWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 11 hours 21 minutes

Series: Book 5 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: This is the book where reading them out of order stars to do you an injustice. It does work as a stand alone to some extend, 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 first 4 books before you jump into this one.

 

Harry is about to have yet another tough weekend. It’s not going to be just one thing coming down hard on him. Nope. He’s going to have to deal with John Marcone (Chicago’s crime lord), hunting for the Shroud of Turin, Michael Carpenter’s fiery wife Charity, his old girlfriend Susan Rodriguez (who’s dealing with her semi-vampiric state), a scheduled duel with a Red Court vampire, and a new breed of bad guy – the Denarians. It’s amazing Harry gets to be as old as he does.

I’ve been so-so about the character Susan for the series so far. This is the book that changes my opinion of her. She took a very hard hit back in Book 3 (Grave Peril) and I can see that it sobered her. Harry had been telling her again and again that the supernatural beasties she so wanted to catch on camera and write about were very dangerous. She really didn’t take those multiple warnings to heart and it cost her dearly. So here she returns to the series with this new and weighty knowledge. She’s also learned the advantages of body armor, weapons, hand-to-hand combat training, and following Harry’s orders in the midst of a fight. She’s not a total bad ass, but she has learned a bit and she does have some vampiric strength too.

Wow! The Denarians! Let me say that these are some of the most dangerous foes yet for the series. The Denarians, lead by Nicodemus, are a collection of fallen angels/demons. Each one resides within a coin and the owner of that coin can communicate with the specific demon, gaining knowledge and power. Of course each demon does their best to insinuate themselves into their master’s life and eventually take it over. Couple that with the supposed powers of the Shroud of Turin and you have a formula for disaster for Chicago. Which means that Michael Carpenter, knight templar extraordinaire, is returned to the story. And he brought friends (Shiro from Japan and Sanya from Russia).

As always, the plot is fast-paced and with the several threads weaving in and out of each other, I was never bored. Butcher does a great job of packing character development into the little downtimes (such as driving from point A to point B) the plot permits. For instance, Charity and Harry get to have chat while making dinner together. Charity is not a fan of Harry and they get to clear the air a little.

The duel with the Red Court vampire War Lord Ortega comes up early but doesn’t happen until later in the book. This particular plot thread brings into play two very interesting side characters –  the Archive (who presides over the duel to ensure fairness and record the outcome) and her bodyguard Kincaide. Also, Thomas (the white court vampire we met in Book 3) makes a reappearance. The White Council (ruling body of good wizards) are quite willing to sacrifice Harry if it means an end to the war with the Red Court vampires. Argh! Makes me want to strangle them!

Butcher ups the ante with this book, sacrificing some characters and forcing others to make tough choices. I really like how the seriousness continues to ratchet up for each series installment so far. The Denarians play rough and Harry and his friends will not get out unscathed. We also learn a very interesting thing about John Marcone that makes him a little more human. There’s very little Murphy in this book and I missed her. However, we get to meet Wizard Ebeneezer McCoy, who fostered Harry in his late teens.

So far, Harry has ended up in cuffs in each book for one reason or another. That happens again here. I find that amusing. Harry continues to grow as a character. We know he isn’t invincible and he knows it too. Yet he can’t stop helping his friends, protecting Chicago, and standing up to the bullies. The ending had a little unexpected twist for me that I expect will have major repercussions for Harry later on.

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as Harry Dresden and he does a fine job of it. In this book, his performance includes believable Spanish, Japanese, and Russian accents. I especially liked his kid’s voice for the Archive. He also does a great job with Wizard McCoy who comes from Arkansas and has that noticeable regional accent. 

What I Liked: So many bad guys for Harry to deal with; even those on the side of good aren’t always on Harry’s side; John Marcone does have a heart; Susan returns and is a useful character; Michael returns with friends; the Denarians are a major complication; interesting little twist at the end; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: I did miss Murphy.

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Ranting Dragon

Love Vampires

Geeks of Doom

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

ButcherGravePerilWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 11 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

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

Harry Dresden, Chicago-dwelling PI and wizard, is about to go head to head with a very powerful foe. But first he has to subdue the ghost in the baby ward of Cook County General hospital. Luckily, he has brought along his pious friend, Michael Carpenter. Something has been stirring up the ghosts in Chicago and the two have been quite busy of late putting these angry shades back to bed.

This is the book where the series starts to get serious. Significant things happen in this book that ripple throughout the rest of the series. There’s a fairy godmother, the Red Court vampires, these irritated ghosts, not to mention things getting a bit more serious between Harry and Arcane news reporter Susan Rodriguez. Then there’s Michael with his solid faith and Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD. Meaningful things happen to all these characters and not all of them are good things.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like Michael because I wasn’t sure how preachy (or not) he would be. It turns out that Michael isn’t preachy so much as he is sure that his path is one of virtue. His mild reminders to Harry of the so called right path are given from a place of love, respect, and friendship. Quite frankly, it’s part of his personality and he wouldn’t be Michael if he didn’t periodically remind his good friends of the Christian way. With that said, he’s a badass in a fight. Harry is lucky to have him around.

I found Harry’s fairy godmother, the Leanansidhe, to be a very intriguing character. There is definitely history between these two. I have never seen Harry so scared of any one person! Bianca of the Red Court vampires makes another appearance and she’s still holding a grudge over what happened in Book 1 (Storm Front). If these two ladies aren’t enough, there’s another bad guy or two waiting in the shadows, secretly causing Harry grief.

The mystery behind what is stirring up the ghosts was pretty chilling. It had ties to more than one bad guy so this made it harder for Harry to nail down and solve. Unfortunately, some of Harry’s friends get hit by the bad guys and there are lasting ramifications from this. I really felt for those affected, and for Harry who feels he should have been able to protect them, but I also applaud the author for having such consequences – it makes the story that much more interesting and intense.

Susan is ever on the hunt for a good story. While Harry is her boyfriend, she’s not above hanging out with him to get a great interview or a few awesome pics of something supernatural. She keeps pushing the envelope, thinking she is safe from these supernatural critters, and it blows back on her. She’s not an idiot but she can be one when it comes to running down a story. She’s too blithe about what can hurt her and that doesn’t work out for her. While I wasn’t particularly glad that happened, it was almost inevitable and I am glad the author kept the cause and effect logic going for her storyline.

We also have our first appearance of Thomas Raith and his lover Justine, which introduces the White Court of vampires, which are essentially succubi. Thomas is glamorous and likes to play the fool. His manner towards Harry is almost playful and it’s definitely hard to tell what side, if any, Thomas is on.

All around, this is another great addition to the series. I really liked that the take-me-seriously bad guy level was raised. It made the whole story much more intense and, hence, more enjoyable.

 

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and still does a spiffy job of it. His playboy voice for Thomas Raith is also great. Marsters also got to show off his spooky voices with this one – from the lullaby-singing ghost in the opening scenes to Mavra (a seriously creepy vampire) to the thing that is behind the riled up ghosts – all were done very well.  

What I Liked: Idiot moves have real consequence; this is the book that makes the series serious; the bad guys behind the ghosts; Harry’s fairy godmother; a rather poignant end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a great story!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Knite Writes

SF Site

Fangs for the Fantasy

 

She Who Writes Monsters

The Berserker and the Pedant: Season One by Josh Powell

PowellTheBerserker&ThePedantSeason1Where I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Robert Ashker Kraft

Publisher: Josh Powell (2015)

Length: 3 hours 51 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Berserker & the Pedant

Author’s Page

Gurken Stonebiter is a berserker dwarf, not a specialized cucumber. He’s on a mission and not much will stand in his way other than his rash temper. Along the way, he picks up a grammatically-oriented magician, Arthur, and a pre-pubescent lass, Pellonia, who has snark to share. There’s plenty of death, and thankfully resurrection, and even more mayhem.

When Arthur died the first time, I was a little sad. After all, we had spent some quality time getting to know his love for proper punctuation. But I was happy to find out that there was a way or two to bring even a dismembered person back to life. Arthur blamed the very large ants, and rightly so! Arthur would not be their last victim. Later in the story, Arthur has to be resurrected again but there is a bit of a mix up and Arthur has to make do with what he gets. Ha!

Gurken is my hero throughout the story playing the uncomplicated straight man to all the humor and the occasional pun. Over time, he becomes attached to both Pellonia and Arthur. With his rough edges and big heart, he stole the show. When he’s made a decision, he follows through with everything. Towards the end, he has a tough choice, and once made, he has to shove it down the authorities’ collective throats. He did it with style.

Pellonia started off as the kid side kick. She was cuter than a button and as obnoxious (in a funny snarky way) as a broken zipper. Later in the story, we meet one of her siblings and then plenty is revealed about her to her new friends. Her secret family ties explained her knowledge on certain subjects and her adult attitude. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the surprise was a nice little twist and let the story take a larger, unexpected turn later on.

The answer to one quest leads to another. The action for these three never ceases. This story has a really good balance between humor and action. I was never bored with the tale. In fact, there were moments where I snort-laughed out loud. This book definitely starts off a solid fantasy humor story. However, there is a bit of a curve into science fiction by the end. It was nicely done and totally made sense with the characters and plot. Sometimes I don’t enjoy stories that try to meld scifi and fantasy as it feels forced. However, in this case, it was smoothly done and never made frown. There is a bit of cliffhanger at the end. Definitely looking forward to season 2!

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

The Narration: Robert Ashker Kraft was an excellent fit for this story. He had a very nice brogue for Gurken that totally suited the character. He had this nasally ‘I always know best’ voice for Arthur, especially when he was going on about grammar. His female voices were quite good, especially for Pellonia.

What I Liked: The cover art; awesome characters I was instantly attached to; great balance of action and humor; a touch of the punny but not too much; a nice blend from fantasy into scifi; excellent narration.

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

What Others Think:

The Fish Place

Accepting the Moon by K. S. Haigwood

HaigwoodAcceptingTheMoonWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Pyper Down

Publisher: Kristie Haigwood (2014)

Length: 1 hour 39 minutes

Series: Book 1 Moonrising

Author’s Page

Mena recently found out her husband, Mark, has been lying to her and she’s ready to divorce him after 12 years of marriage. They argue and it gets ugly. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be the end of her troubles for the day. Nope. Mena is in for a nasty surprise concerning werewolves and vampires.

There were things I really liked about this book and then there were things that just didn’t work for me. Mena is angry at Mark, and has every right to be so. She isn’t sticking around for more of his BS. I really like this attitude of hers. She’s not one to bow to another’s will easily and this stubbornness (or bullheadedness) works to her advantage through out the story.

Then we switch point of views and go to Jaxon who is at a questionable bar looking for something. He’s a vampire and it never becomes clear if he was hunting for sex or a meal or both. He bumps into Mena at the even more questionable hotel where he was staying and he is instantly drawn to her. Then the werewolves show up.

Now, here is one of those things that didn’t work for me. The fight scene was ridiculous. Jaxon had been carrying Mena and then he swung her up onto his back once the face off with the werewolves began. Yep. She fights and he fights and all the time she is on his back piggy back style. I know he’s a vampire, but she’s just a human. Have you ever tried to hold on to anyone piggy back style while they were moving fast, bending over, running, kicking, fighting? Plus Mena was doing some fighting herself. Yeah, it just doesn’t work. And it also looked pretty silly in my little mental theater I have going on as I listen to this book.

OK, but then we have more good stuff. There are several intense scenes as Mena deals with the vampires, especially the local leader Phoenix. She’s a strong-willed person and this is like catnip to the vampires. These scenes individually were very well written and I really enjoyed them.

Yet there is this one thing that bugged me. Mena has left her husband and had a few monumental shocks for the evening (Werewolves! Vampires!). Yet there is nearly no reflection on these events or the ending of her relationship with her husband of 12 years before she is falling in lust with another character. So that moved way too swiftly for me without even the casual nod to the events of the day.

But then we have more awesomeness with the ending. Mena has to deal with the werewolves and this is going to be tricky. Without giving out any spoilers, I found the ending satisfying and an excellent setup for the next book in the series.

I received this book at no cost from the author (via the Audiobook Blast Facebooks group) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Pyper Down was a good fit for Mena. She had the hard feminine voice that worked so well for Mena (who was having the toughest day of her life). Her male voices for Mark and Phoenix were very good, and each distinct. She also had a distinct voice for Jaxon but it was not sexy at all, even though according to the text it was suppose to be. Instead, Jaxon sounded like a 50 year smoker that might have asthma.

What I Liked: The cover art; Mena’s character; several deliciously intense scenes; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: A ridiculous piggy-back fight scene; very little to no reflection done by the main character; one of the male character’s sounded like an asthmatic instead of sexy.

What Others Think:

Just Talking Books

Book Reviews by Lynn

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Grahame-SmithAbrahamLincolnVampireHunterWhere I Got It: PaperbackSwap.com

Narrator: Scott Holst

Publisher: Hachette Audio (2010)

Length: 10 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in the 1800s, this book follows Abraham Lincoln’s life. Initially, the story  is told from the viewpoint of the author who stumbled upon the hidden, secret diaries of Lincoln. The story then shits to a historical retelling of Lincoln’s life, with snippets of Lincoln’s diaries added in here and there. There’s vampires, and hunting, and politics.

First, I adored Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride & Prejudice & Zombies so I was really looking forward to this book. However, this book is told in a very different manner and I have to say I didn’t like it near so well as my first Grahame-Smith book. First, the point of view shifts back and forth often, and not just the POV, but also the tone. We start off with the amiable author finding the secret hidden diaries. He uses these as a basis for writing a new history on Lincoln. The reader is then tossed into this ‘history’ with no more amiable author POV. The history is written rather dryly being mostly dates, places, events, people. But then little snippets of Lincoln’s hidden diaries are tossed in nearly every other page. These snippets are much more personable and have a very different pacing and flavor from the ‘history’. I often found myself frustrated that the author, Grahame-Smith, didn’t just pick one style or the other to the story telling for the majority of the book. The historical parts would put me to sleep and the diary parts would jolt me awake, get me hooked and then leave me sad and weeping for more.

Perhaps I should get a paper edition and cut out all the diary entries, paste them together, and read the book that way. That would probably be more satisfying.

The other thing that made me sad was that there were almost no women and what few women there were, had little to do with the story. Grahame-Smith set such a high bar with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which has several lead female characters, that I really expected something of the same here. Alas, the lack of female vampire slayers had me weeping again.

Lastly, the author over-used a dramatic ploy. You know how an author will launch you into an action sequence with all the characters you have become familiar with, then something horrible happens, and you start to think through all the consequences this has for the plot… and then the character wakes up and realizes it was a bad nightmare. I think this little ploy was used like 4 times in the book. And to make me shed a few more tears, these dream sequences were some of the best written action scenes of  the entire book.

Really, I haven’t cried this much over a book (in frustration) in forever.

There were a few things I liked about the book. Since it is written like a history, we do learn quite a bit about Lincoln’s life. He did have some issues with family members that would have been scandalous today. I really liked the dark, deeply serious tone of the diary entries.

Over all, it was a real let down.

Narration:  Scott Holst did a good job. He had to sound like a dried up history professor for the dry historical bits and then completely switch gears and become Lincoln for the diary entries. Since many of those entries also recorded conversations had with other folks, Holst had to come up with several male character voices with regional accents. He performed well!

What I Liked:  The cover art; the underlying premise of the story; the diary entries; learned a bit about Lincoln’s life.

What I Disliked:  The book switched style and POV almost every other page, sometimes even more frequently; few female characters and they have almost nothing to do with the plot; the dramatic ploy of dream written as plotline until the character suddenly awakens was over used.

What Others Think:

io9

Prairie Fire

Tosche Station

Literary Fictions

Nerdist

Reading Lark

Kill It With Magic by J. A. Cipriano

CiprianoKillItWithMagicWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Rebecca Roberts

Publisher: J. A. Cipriano (2015)

Length: 7 hours 4 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Lillim Callina Chronices

Author’s Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Others Think:

Musings of a Starving Author

Cathi Shaw

Borderlein Publishing

Blood Moon by Geraldine Allie

AllieBloodMoonWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Alex Hyde-White

Publisher: Punch Audio (2014)

Length: 1 hour 29 minutes

Series: Book 1 Werewolves & Shifters

Author’s Page

Maxine Lewis and Nate Jackson find themselves thrown together in a dark, dirty place. Nate, as leader of his shifter pack, was on the hunt for some murderous vampires. Maxine was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Things happen super fast in this one. Nate goes on the hunt, rescues Maxine from some vampires, they end up running and hiding and getting to know one another via some sexytimes, and then there is more vampire killing. There’s only one female character, and she needs rescuing. So the whole Damsel In Distress thing was a bit predictable. Also, sometimes the events happened so quickly I felt like I had whiplash.

Now that I have my criticisms out of the way, I did enjoy Nate’s character throughout the story. He is focused and wants what is best for his pack. Falling for Maxine is definitely not what’s best, and that constant flow of contradictory emotions was well played. While I did enjoy the sexytimes, they were over too quickly and since I hadn’t really connected to both characters, it was not as enjoyable as when I care about both parties involved.

There’s plenty of potential with this story. It’s short and perhaps should be read with the intent of jumping right into Book 2 so that the world and character development can continue.

The Narration: Alex Hyde-White was a good pick for Nate. He definitely pulled off the take-charge attitude. He had a decent feminine voice for Maxine.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art!; fun basic premise (vampires versus werewolves); Maxine & Nate definitely have sparks; plenty of room to grow in world & character development.

What I Disliked: The pacing is sometimes very fast (like whiplash fast); Maxine is the damsel in distress.

What Others Think:

Eargasms

Bubonicon 2014: Sunday

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014
David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

On Sunday, the panels and author readings didn’t get started until 10AM, but the Con Suite was open at 8AM. They had donuts, and not just any donuts, but donuts with bacon. Yep, you read that right. You could have a chocolate frosted donut that also had a strip of crispy bacon in it. (I think I heard one of the Con volunteers say the donuts came from Rebel Donut shop). I almost snagged one, but I feared that I wouldn’t like it and then who would I share it with? If my man was at the Con with me, I would just grab one for him, eat half of it, and then tell him how good the second half was. Instead, I stuck with the cheese, crackers, bagels, chips, bottled water, and a regular donut. The Con Suite also had a sizable spread of fruits, but there was a lot of chopped melon, and unfortunately, I am very allergic to melon.

I went to David Lee Summer‘s reading first thing. He read the first chapter from his latest book, Lightning Wolves, which is a steampunky desert Southwest alternative historical fiction that is quite fun and inventive. Then he read an interlude from his vampire novel, Dragon’s Fall. This book appeals to me because of the historical fiction aspect and his reading of the interlude only peaked my curiosity. And I asked my moonlight question. Growing up, I never really paid attention to vampires. But then vampires became a little more popular in the 1980s with The Lost Boys, and then with Interview with a Vampire. And that is when I started to wonder why most vampires weren’t reactive to moonlight, since it is simply reflected sunlight. Summers had a great answer for this in that it really depends on how the author has set up their vampires – is there a scientific basis for this existence (virus, blood defect, etc.) or are they magic based? From there, you can build logical reasons to how vampires do or don’t react to moonlight.

Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014
Steven Gould & Walter Jon Williams at Bubonicon 2014

Then it was off to the Co-Guests of Honor Presentation. Steven Gould was the Toastmaster, with Walter Jon Williams helping out. They started off with some trivia questions concerning lizards mating in space aimed at the audience and then moved on to quizzing the co-guests of honor, Cherie Priest and John Hemry. Once the silliness was concluded, important matters were discussed, like the Chad Mitchell Trio song featuring Lizzie Borden. Yeah, that little girl from the nursery rhyme who gave her parents 40 whacks was indeed a real historical person. Priest’s soon-to-be-out book, Maplecroft, features Lizzie fighting Cthulu monsters. Damn! That’s some creepy nursery rhyme turned mysteriously cool yet still creepy all at the same time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wlO-J0v9ZY

John Hemry was asked to talk about retiring from his navy career to become a writer and stay-at-home father. He spoke openly of his three children, all who are somewhere on the autism spectrum and each requiring some amount of special care. I have to admit that this little bit of a reveal on his personal life is why I want to give his books a try. The military SF genre is filled with books written by military/ex-military men and, to me, much of it is interchangeable, lacking distinction from author to author. But since Hemry has been a househusband and a father to challenged children, I expect he has more insight into the human condition than most writers in the military SF genre. With my fingers crossed, I will be plunging into some of his books soon.

John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014
John Maddox Roberts on the Secret History/Alternate History panel, Bubonicon 2014

The first panel of the day for me was The Weird Weird West: SF with Six-Guns, moderated by John Maddox Roberts. He was joined by Craig Butler, Josh Gentry of SnackReads, David Lee Summers, and Walter Jon Williams. This was a fun, fun panel that was part history lesson and part romp through all the weird westerns out there, in print and on screen. Sitting down to enjoy this panel, I instantly thought of Westworld. The discussion started with a bit of history about the Wild West (and how short lived that actually was) to the paranormal side of the Wild West (think ghost stories and native folk lore) and then to the various cultures that have homaged the Wild West – Spaghetti westerns, Samurai 7, and more. For your traipsing through the Weird West, check these out: Joe Landsdale, Jane Lindskold, Emma Bull, Ambrose Bierce, Red Harvest, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, The Haunted Mesa, and Science Fiction Trails magazine.

Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014
Cherie Priest & John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), Bubonicon 2014

After taking a break to check out the Bubonicon auction, I ended up enjoying the panel Cthulu Lives! Lovecraft’s Old Ones in Today’s Fiction. Moderator Cherie Priest was joined by Yvonne Coats, John J. Miller, Harry Morris, and John Maddox Roberts. The panel spent a lot of time on their love for H. P. Lovecraft and his influence on today’s writers and the entertainment world in general. From the bookish world, check out Caitlin Carrigan, Fritz Leiber, Molly Tanzer, Livia Llewellyn. From the big screen and TV, check out True Detective, Cast a Deadly Spell, Pacific Rim. Then folks got a little serious and discussed the darker side to Lovecraft: his racism and sexism. Miller and Priest had the most to say, and seemed to have studied not only Lovecraft’s works but also his personal life. Morris also pitched in here and there with anecdotes. Priest pointed out that you don’t find hate without fear, and Lovecraft had a great hate of women. Miller pointed out that Lovecraft came from a highly dysfunctional home. It was a very interesting discussion and I think Lovecraft’s biography would be a worthy read. Then Priest told her story of her large framed Lovecraftian poster above her bed, and the squirrel falling down behind the wall late at night as Cherie sat up reading.

Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She's My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014
Claire Eddy & Connie Willis on the She’s My Tardis panel, Bubonicon 2014

By this point I was fading fast and thinking about that 2 hour drive home. But there was one last panel, She’s My TARDIS, Except She’s a Woman, moderated by John Hemry. He was joined by Connie Willis, M. T. Reiten, David Lee Summers, and Claire Eddy. This started off as a discussion of ships or even planets that became a personality within the story, such as Firefly‘s Serenity, the ship from Farscape, even the planet Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Willis recommended the movie Dark Star. And then someone asked the question of why ships are usually referred to as female, which lead to a deeper discussion of animism and the female psyche. Needless to say, the men kept digging themselves into a hole and it was terribly fun to watch. Indeed, I spent much of this last hour of the con laughing out loud (with everyone else, so it was the good kind of laughing out loud).

And there you have it folks. I’ll try to do one more post about the autographing session, the auction, the costume contest, and the art room. I didn’t get to explore the gaming room nor the vendors this year. And there was a late night charity auction Friday night. Really, I should just replicate myself for this event so that I can enjoy everything. Next year’s Bubonicon will be later in August, instead of the first weekend, so I only have a whole year to wait.