Bookish Giveaway & Review: Deceptive Cadence by Kathryn Guare

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Publisher: Kathryn Guare (2016)

Length: 11 hours 519 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Virtuosic Spy

Author’s Page

Set in 2003-2004, Conor McBride is willing to go to great lengths for his family. He was a concert violinist when he found out just how badly his older brother Thomas screwed him over. He’s since fled the country, leaving Conor to pay the government back the large debt. He also moved back to the family farm in Ireland to help his ailing mom (Brigid McBride) out. Then a mysterious man shows up offering him knowledge of where his brother is in exchange for service. Pretty soon, Conor is wrapped up in a world of deceit, drugs, corruption, and guns. And magnificent Indian food.

This was a gripping novel! Conor and his brother Thomas have some serious history between them. Conor feels that his life was ruined when he was saddled with his brother’s enormous debt, having to return from London to the family farm on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland that he never had any interest in. Years have passed and Conor grows comfortable on the farm, even though it’s a far cry from his concert violinist life. Then Frank Murdoch from MI6 shows up offering information on the whereabouts of Thomas but it’s not free. The British Intelligence Service wants something from Conor and that involves 10 hard weeks of spy camp and several long months working in some of the roughest parts of India. I was surprised when Brigid sends Conor off with her blessing, saying that Thomas needs him.

There’s very little about the spy camp. Our hero goes from fiddling cow milker to trained deadly spy in several paragraphs, tho there are a few references to his time there later in the story. Conor brought some of his own skills to table from the beginning, like his intelligence, linguistic skills, and athletic build. With that, he surpassed his instructor’s expectations. Yet he isn’t ready for everything he comes across in the field. There are some tough scenes for this fledgling spy and despite the dirty business he’s in, he never loses his humanity. He’s this wonderful mix of competence, steel nerves, and soft heart.

Most of the book takes place in India, in and around Mumbai. I definitely felt that the author had done her research. She brought the beauty and the grunge. It was a very believable setting complete with child slavery, tasty food, generous hospitality, illegal arms sales, gentle religious rites, and drug use.

There’s several female characters in this spy novel which isn’t the usual for this genre. So that was a breath of fresh air. Yet the ladies were pretty much there to comfort the men. They each have some personality and some role in the story that is more than window dressing and yet none of them ever really touch the central plot. Conor’s world of spies is a man’s world. I would have liked a bit more from the ladies. However, this little weakness of the story didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. Kavita was the most prominent lady in that she provided medical care and comfort of a motherly sort to Conor when he really needed it. I really liked her calm and patience and yet she could also be insistent when needed. Radha is a 13 year old heroin addict and dancer at a pleasure house. Conor’s undercover persona brings him to this seedy side of town where he meets Radha and he wishes he could do something to permanently help her situation. They’re relationship, as fleeting as it is, pulled the emotions out of me.

Let’s chat about Sedgewick, who like Murdoch, presents a well-honed edge to the world at large. Conor in his endearing way manages to catch both men in unguarded moments, revealing something deeper. Sedgewick had a lot more page time and he’s definitely a complicated character. He’s wrestled with his demons but they left scars and he’s just a touch paranoid that those around him don’t trust him…. but he’s in the spy business. I loved this polarity about him. He works in a field that calls for deception yet craves solid relationships. I hope we get to see him again.

The McBrides have a sixth sense of a sort. It’s left pretty nebulous, something that can be chocked up to chance or a mystical element depending on how the reader wants to interpret such things. For me, I could leave it or take it. This element of the story didn’t do much for me other than keeping Brigid engaged in the storyline even when she wasn’t on the page.

The action scenes were great. There was plenty of tension throughout the tale as Conor does his best to navigate this deadly web. With each layer of lies he peeled back, I became a little more paranoid about who he could trust. Eventually, we learn about the main bad guy that everyone wants, Vasily Dragonov. Things don’t go as planned and I felt deeply for Conor by the end of the story. What an emotional ringer the guy has been through! I was engaged throughout the entire tale. Conor McBride is my new favorite spy!

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Wayne Farrell nailed this performance. Gallic, English, Hindi, and Russian accents pepper this story and Wayne did a great job with all of them. There’s some Hindi and Gallic prayers and swearing as well which he did with gusto. His female voices were all believable and each character was distinct. He was able to portray the variety of emotions of Conor McBride and the other main characters with moving accuracy.

What I Liked: Gallic and Hindi, Ireland and India – all in the same book; the spy life takes something out of a person; Conor McBride is a good mix of thoughtfulness and unhesitating response; Sedgewick with his prickly vulnerability; Murdoch with his carefully crafted gentleman persona; Kavita’s caring hands; Radha’s great need; those final scenes on the road from the ski slope; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would have liked a little more from the ladies.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Kathryn Guare:

Kathryn Guare lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and loves exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, Deceptive Cadence was awarded the Audiobook Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~Instagram ~ Pinterest

Synopsis of Deceptive Cadence:

Meet Conor McBride. He’s even more interesting than the trouble he gets into.

A talented Irish musician reluctantly reinvents himself, disappearing into an undercover identity to search for the man who ruined his career: his own brother. On a journey from the west of Ireland to the tumultuous city of Mumbai, Conor McBride’s only goal is to redeem the brother who betrayed him. But he’s becoming a virtuoso of a different kind in a dangerous game where the rules keep changing – and where the allies he trusted to help him may be the people he should fear the most.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Wayne Farrell:

Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.

Website ~ Soundcloud


The giveaway is for a 1 year Audiofile Magazine Subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 19th, 2017.

Deceptive Cadence Audio Tour Giveaway

The Djinn by J. Kent Holloway

HollowayDjinnWhy I Read It: I like djinn stories, and I liked the cover.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you like your historical fiction with lots of action and a hint of the supernatural, this is a book to check out.

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Publisher: Seven Realms Publishing (2012)

Length: 7 hours 59 minutes

Starting off with the ancient times of King Solomon, J. Kent Halloway puts the reader right into the action and the heart of the mystery that will drive the plot for the rest of the book. As Solomon realizes his horrible mistake, he makes a desperate attempt to contain the animated clay golems that are tearing his kingdom apart and slaughtering his people. Then we jump forward to ~1185 AD Jerusalem. Baron Gregory De L’Ombre has searched long and hard for the artifacts that will allow him to reanimate and control the golems of Solomon’s times. He is driven partially by the loss of his wife. Now he treats his daughter Isabella like a precious China doll while having disowned his younger brother, William, a knight who was wounded in crusade. William was subsequently treated by the Saracens and eventually adopted. Yet misfortune then saw fit to give him leprosy. While Gregory uses slaves and mercenaries to dig tunnels in an ancient city, the djinn heckles them, taking guard after guard, perhaps to hell.

So there’s the set up. We have a culturally and religiously complex setting, which Holloway lays out well, showing the reader through different characters. Then we have the golems – shudder! We know right from the first that they are real, and mindlessly deadly. The fact that Baron Gregory wants to dig these things up, reanimate them, and control them speaks to the less that stable mind he has. Gregory uses control, fear, and pain to manage his household, guards, and mercenaries. While William uses trust and respect in his daily dealings with people, enabling him to encircle himself with loyal friends. You can see right away that the two brothers are going to end up at odds.

Early on, the djinn gives knight Horatio and his squire (and cousin) Samuel quite the scare. The djinn appears magically, dangles Horatio in the air for a polite chat, and then disappears in a puff of brimstone. Of course Baron Gregory doesn’t take this latest report well at all. He ups his search for the lost relics. He wants Solomon’s Seal, AKA Aldaib’s Ring, bad, and a certain book. The mercenary Gerard, an excellent fighter, but basically a bad man goes toe to toe with the djinn more than once. Then there is a hashashin who also tries to take a piece of the djinn too. Being a djinn is a thankless job fraught with danger and inconsiderate names. The pace of the action scenes was great, interlaced with intrigue and inner monologues.

The book has a total of 4 women, one of which is the dead mother of Isabella, Isabella herself, Isabella’s maid, and a barmaid. Isabella is the only female we get to really see, and most of that time she is crying about something or other. If I have a criticism, it is that the character Isabella felt very incomplete. For the first 3/4ths of the book, she is something for her father to control, and an object to be lusted after. Her actions come too late in the book and feel very contrary to her character, as limited as it is, up to that point. Also, women make up 50% or more of the population depending on the age range. Perhaps we could have a few more ladies in the story? But if you read this blog, you already know that I comment on that last note often.

So, overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I love the ancient feel to it, the mix of intrigue and magic, and of course djinn and golems! We need more djinn and golems in our modern reading material, just saying.

Narration: Wayne Farrell did a great job with all the men’s voices. The few times he had to come up with a woman’s voice, it felt strained (perhaps he was physically straining is his attempt?) and I winced a little. Whenever Isabella sadly whispered, her voice was a rich low voice and sounded good on her. But her regular chit chat voice did not sound female to me. Anyway, Farrell gave different accents and age-ranges for the male characters. I could nearly see Samuel smiling or William’s leprotic pain.

What I Liked: Ancient, mysterious setting; dangling a knight upside down for a chat; hidden library; djinn!; golems!; the family last name L’Ombre; the ending was satisfying & set up for another book (if the author chooses to do so); the cover.

What I Disliked: Isabella’s character felt incomplete and her sudden capability towards the very end felt like a last minute addition by the author.

What Others Think:

Narrator Reviews

And They Called Her Spider by Michael Coorlim

CoorlimAndTheyCalledHerSpiderWhy I Read It: I really enjoyed two other books in this series (Sky Pirates Over London and Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande).

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Mystery fans who like a light steampunk flair.

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Publisher: Self-published (2012)

Length: 56 minutes

Series: Book 1Galvanic Century, Book 1 A Bartleby and James Adventure

Just a note: I have not listened to 3 books in this series and they each stand alone. So enjoy them here and there or Michael Coorlim‘s entire series back to back.

James Wainwright prefers his basement lab to any other place. Yet Alton Bartleby seems dead set on dragging him along on his latest commissioned adventure (or madness). An assassin painted up in white stage makeup and showing extreme flexibility is terrorizing London with her killings. She has been dubbed The Spider by both the news rags and her pursuers. James and Bartleby need to discover her identity and neutralize her threat, but she has other ideas.

Set in a lush alternative England at the beginning of the 20th century, Queen Victoria reigns over airships pirates and galvanic monsters alike. This tale is told through James Wainwright, who is something of a mad scientist, or inventor at least. His commentary on his gentleman friend Bartleby often had me chuckling and his dogged pursuit of The Spider once he became interested was entertaining. While not my favorite so far in the series, it is an excellent first book to introduce readers to two of the main characters and the setting. In short, it was an excellent way to spend a lunch hour.

I need to talk about the cover. I had seen this book here and there on the blogosphere, Kindle, etc. but had passed it by because of the cover. The covers for Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande and Sky Pirates Over London have airships and look steampunkish. I found these covers very attractive and that is why, in part, that I read them. Now I understand you can’t slap an airship on every book, especially if there is no airship in the story, but this cover looks cartoony to me and makes me think of the circus and clowns, two things I generally avoid in real life and in reading. So, there you have my little confession. I was passing up a fine book because I was judging it by it’s cover.

Narration: Wayne Farrell is an excellent voice for James Wainwright, capturing both his fascination of mechanized gadgets and his condescension of evening attire and the finer points of gentlemanly behavior.

What I Liked: The steampunk English setting; Wainwright in general (can I snoop through his lab?); the ending was good and satisfying.

What I Disliked: The cover (sorry! but true).

What Others Think:

The Book Instinct

Martha’s Bookshelf

Short Fiction Spotlight

Darkiss Reads