Feet of Clay by J. A. Cipriano & J. B. Garner

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Jason A. Cipriano (2017)

Length: 5 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2 Clans of Shadow

Cipriano’s Page ~ Garner’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 of the series and it works best if you’ve already read Book 1, Heart of Gold.

Frank Butcher used to be a package delivery man but events nearly killed him and Dr. Gabrielle Perez placed a magical artifact, a heart of gold, in his chest to keep him going. The mayhem didn’t stop there and Gabrielle’s son Max was stolen by a group of murdering magic users. Now Frank and Gabrielle are trying to get him back and save the world along the way.

The Golem we met in Book 1 gets a bigger role in this book and I’m glad to see his character growing (hardening? setting up? baked?). Abner (who Frank annoys by calling Aby) saves the day once or twice. Also some of the bad guys from Book 1 get more depth in this book. Tabitha, who Frank likes to annoy by calling Tabi, has a bit more going on than I initially expected. In fact, there’s this pretty emotional scene between her and Frank where Frank gets some much needed answers but then things get messy.

There’s still some sparks between Gabrielle (who Frank annoys by calling Gabby) but she’s caught up with figuring out how to get Max back so romance is put on the back burner. Speaking of Max, he’s got some special power that the head of this murdering band of sorcerers wants to put to bad use. We get a glimpse of Max but we still haven’t rightfully met him. He’s basically an object to quest for or fight over right now.

The head of this unscrupulous group of child stealers is named something mellow like Virgil or Cecil or Liam or such. I keep picture him sipping tea and concealing a dagger behind his back. He definitely needs to be taken down!

Frank has the same humor as in Book 1 but here it’s put to better use. I didn’t tire of it as I did in Book 1. I like all the movie references. The heavier scenes definitely balanced out all of Frank’s throw away comments and quips.

The action rolls on through this book, it never being a dull moment. Looking forward to Book 3.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Joe Hempel was great with this book. He’s so good at playing Frank. I also like his voice for Gabrielle, it being feminine, and carrying the right mix of emotions depending on the scene. His voice for Abner is great as well.

What I Liked: Great cover art; Tabitha had more going on than I thought; Gabrielle doesn’t give up; Boss Evil Dude is evil; Frank’s humor; the more serious scenes balance the story out; great narration.

What I Disliked: I’d like to see a bit more done with Max. Right now he’s just a place holder.

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2010)

Length:  21 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 2 Naamah Trilogy

Author’s Page

Note: This is the second book in the third trilogy set in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. However, this last trilogy is set a few generations later and stands on it’s own. This book, as the second in this trilogy, works mostly well as a stand alone but is definitely enhanced by having read Naamah’s Kiss.

We return to Moirin’s adventures as she sets off to find Bao, her stubborn warrior love. She leaves the relatively comfortable Chi’in lands for the wilder and much colder territories ruled by the Tartar tribes. Once reunited, things don’t go as expected and some double crossing has them separated again. Moirin has to match wits with a Vralian religious zealot and later on face the Spider Queen!

It was good to be back in Moirin’s world. Her archery skills serve her well once again, as well as her small magics. For me, the beginning and then the last third of the book were more interesting than the middle part. She starts off on this solo quest to find Bao and that tests her determination and dedication to Bao. When they meet up, Bao is living with his father’s people. Sparks fly…. but then a complication becomes apparent to Moirin. The two simply can’t go off and have their own lives. The Tartars love their competitions which center mostly around horses and archery. Yep! Moirin has another opportunity to be the one that saves Bao.

The middle part sees them separated and Moirin is held captive by this man and his family as they attempt to convert her to their religion. There are a lot of good points in this section wrapped up in this story and these characters but I found that it lagged a bit. After all, I agree with Moirin 100% in this section so the arguments only reinforced my dislike for people who try to push their religious believes onto others.

The last third of the book sees us back in adventure land as Moirin befriends the Lady of Rats and has to face off against the Spider Queen and her husband, the Falconer. They have a band of assassins. Moirin is definitely in danger! Then there’s the caste system that has been strictly enforced for generations. Moirin had a real balancing act here between what she felt was right and also respecting local culture and religion. It was a tightrope walk.

Since Bao isn’t with Moirin for much of this book, he doesn’t play as big a role. He’s often in Moirin’s thoughts but she has herself to worry about as she travels from one strange land to another searching for him. One of the things I really like about them as a couple is that they aren’t a traditional couple. Throughout this book, they care greatly for each other, respect each other, but they each have other lovers along the way and they are OK with that.

Moirin often does the rescuing even though she’s not some tall, athletic warrior. She has certain skills (archery, summoning the twilight, etc.) and she uses them wisely and quite well. She often uses her compassion and patience to win people over. Also, she doesn’t shirk her fair share of the tougher chores be them tending to her horses or taking out enemy scouts.

While I enjoyed the first book in the series a bit more, this was a pretty good adventure tale. I look forward to seeing what Bao and Moirin get up to in the third and final book.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik keeps on impressing me. In this book she takes on even more accents as Moirin travels out of Chi’in (Chinese accent), into Tartar lands, then Vralia (Russian accent), and finally into Rasa (Indian accent). She manages to keep all the characters distinct even though this book has a sizable cast. Her male voices are believable. One of her greatest strengths is nailing the nuanced emotions of the main characters – truly impressive!

What I Liked: Moirin’s adventures; Moirin is often doing the rescuing; Bao and Moirin aren’t the traditional heroic couple; Tartar competitions; how the caste system was handled; the Spider Queen’s assassins; great narration.

What I Disliked: The middle part where Moirin is in Vralia lagged a little for me.

What Others Think:

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Homemade Food: World Flavors by Terrapetti Publishing

Narrator: Denise Kahn

Publisher: Terrapetti Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 51 minutes

Author’s Page 

Connecting traditional recipes with culture and history is what this book is about. This book contains nearly 70 recipes from 13 different regions around the world. This book was written by 3 different people who live in different cities around the world, though the book never names who these three people are.

I’ve listened to other cookbooks as audiobooks but this one was more of a conversation about food that happened to have recipes tossed in. I was amused to see the book starts off with poutine as I find that such a heavy meal suited for cold weather and ice fishing. However this North American section talks about the great melting pot that the continent is and what that means for typical, tasty meals in that location.

The book does a great job of providing this context for all the regions discussed: North America, Central America & the Caribbean, South America, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western Africa, Middle East along with South & Central Asia, East Asia & Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand. With the lens of traditional food, the world gets divided up a little differently than in the world of politics.

Each meal starts with an introduction, Meal Presentation, about how that meal came about, what significance it has in the local culture and the very basics of what make it. Then we get the How to Cook This Meal which is a very basic recipe without measurements. It’s more of a conversation about how to make this dish. I really liked this approach because I often view recipes as suggestions of how to make a meal rather than strict guidelines.

There were plenty of meals that I didn’t have a clue how to pronounce and had not heard of before but sound really interesting. Mofongo. Charquican Stew. Kjotsupa. Tochitura. Chorba Frik. MaPo Doufu. Kiwi Hangi. I could go on, but I expect this gives you an idea of the diversity of recipes in this book. All together, it was a delightful and enlightening book on food from around the world.

The Narration: Denise Kahn did an OK job. Her recording sounded tinny most of the time. I really don’t know if she pronounced everything correctly but the Spanish and Germanic words sounded correct to my novice ears. For some reason she read out the entire table of contents. Now this might have been a requirement of the publisher. It was really boring and didn’t really give me anything.

What I Liked: It’s a big conversation about food and not a recipe book; the lovely cover; the world divvied up by food culture; plenty of meals I haven’t tried.

What I Disliked: The recording was a bit tinny.

What Others Think:

Aural Addiction

A Wizard by R. F. Whittaker

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Richard Whittaker (2016)

Length: 5 hours 38 minutes

Author’s Page 

Ambrose is in a self-imposed exile after he accidentally killed a man with his magic. Now this wizard roams the wilderness looking for a purpose and possibly for redemption. He comes across Bertold who has a bloodsucker imprisoned. He’s waiting for the sun to rise and roast her alive. Ambrose won’t stand for this and his actions change the course of his life, bringing unexpected companions into his life along with deadly danger.

This tale had some high points, some amusing moments, and a lot of info dumps. Sometimes I was totally engaged and sometimes I was bored. the villains are really easy to spot being brutish, so that took some of the suspense out of the book.

Florentina is the bloodsucker (vampire) that Ambrose rescued at the beginning of the tale. She’s got some dimension to her. She’s suffering from an illness that means she needs fresh blood. Ambrose vows to find a cure for her but his wizard skills are still in their fledgling state. He bumbles his way through the book. Florentina offers some wisdom and acts like a central spoke around which all the other characters rotate.

Each time we got a new character in this tale, there would be a big info dump that would mostly be their back story. It was a rather tedious way to get introduced to each character. It often took me away from the plot. From Florentina to Reggie to the Wolfboy to even Bertold. It was like reading a character development sheet instead of being an integrated part of the story.

Florentina and Ambrose fall in love almost instantly. It’s not even lust. It’s this deep soul-cleaving love. Since it was so automatic I had trouble getting behind it.

The Tookingtons were amusing. They were these little animated flowers that acted as an honor guard for Florentina. Definitely dangerous in great numbers.

By the end, Ambrose and his crew still have some things to wrap up. I smell a sequel in the making. I was very satisfied to see that Ambrose had found his tribe. He’s the stronger for it.

The Narration: Jake Urry is so good in every book I have listened to him narrate and his performance here doesn’t disappoint. He gives Florentina an accent. The Wolfboy gets his own unique voice. The ladies sound like actual women. Ambrose’s emotions are nicely displayed in this narration.

What I Liked: The cover art; the initial set up; Ambrose’s quest; all these misfits that are brought together; ending left room for a sequel; great narration.

What I Disliked: Insta-love didn’t work for me; lots of info dumps.

Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

Narrator: Steve Rimpici

Publisher: Stephen Kozeniewski (2017)

Length: 4 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page 

William 790 (later known as Billy) is a good clone. He goes to work every day in his boring insurance sales job, has the same thing to eat every night, catches the ball game with the other clones, sleeps, and gets up and does it all over again. Each clone gets 1 year of life and then he gets slurried. It’s a world of monotony, Williams as far as you can see. Yet Billy manages to avoid getting slurried due to a freak accident. He then starts questioning his life and this entire existence.

I initially tried to read the ebook but then switched over to the audiobook. The beginning reminded me of that movie Ground Hog Day. Billy does the same routine again and again, even after the freak accident because that’s what his replacement would have done. So it was a little slow for me as I kept waiting for something more to happen. When I switched over to the audiobook, things moved along more quickly for me.

Billy has to get sneaky, something he isn’t programmed for. He learns about an odd building somewhere in the wilds in between two Williamsport cities. Yep. All the cities have ‘William’ in their name and everyone lives in the glorious country of Williamerica. Privately, this was all rather amusing to me since my husband is Bill. Ha!

OK, so Billy starts showing some initiative and the story gets more interesting. He stops to pee by the road and he happens to see this weird building (a windmill) and as he goes to investigate he finally comes across the cloneasaurus! Yes! Since this little guy is on the cover and in the title I really wanted to meet it. This reptile understandably freaks Billy out, since all animal life has been extinct for several generations of Williams. From there, Billy meets the William that made the cloneasaurus and then we finally get our one and only female, Willa.

The second half of the book was way more interesting than the first. Billy starts looking at the top of the hierarchy and how he can go on living. He’s also fascinated with Willa and some awkward conversations occur which are amusing to the reader but rather embarrassing for Billy. He’s never used his personal equipment for self gratification so he’s in the dark about natural procreation.

I was a little disappointed that Willa didn’t get a bigger role. She’s well read, educated in a biochemistry lab, raised by a man with radical political ideas. She has a lot of potential to be a force to change things. But then nothing other than being the romantic interest of the tale ensues for her. Sigh…

The ending was down right creepy. I loved the ending. It really made the book for me. Things don’t go as Billy had hoped nor how I expected things to go.

The Narration: Steve Rimpici was a really good fit for this book. He sounds just like a mild mannered boring accountant. He makes a really good William 790…. along with all the other Williams in this world. Honestly, it was probably a real challenge to come up with nuanced voices that all sound very similar and yet can remain distinct in a conversation. He did this with capturing each characters emotions. I found the conversations between multiple Williams easy to follow. He had a believable female voice for Willa.

What I Liked: The Cloneasaurus!; Billy finally rises to the occasion; Willa and her secret windmill laboratory; solid creepy ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: The beginning was a bit repetitious and boring; only 1 female character and all her potential is shoved to the side.

What Others Think: 

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Trista Borgwardt

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

GIVEAWAY!!!

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

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: Twelve to Murder by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: James C. Lewis

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 6 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 7 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

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

With the gruesome murder of the Stillmans, the police of Spencer, Maryland are out in force. Unfortunately, they fail to corral Derrick Stillman before he talks to the press, throwing blame for the murders on former child movie star Lenny Frost. From there, we end up with a group of drunk baseball enthusiasts held hostage while Mac Faraday and his half-brother police chief David O’Callaghan dig into the sordid pasts of all these people, the victims and suspects alike.

This was a delicious murder mystery that brings together failed movie careers, hostage situations, double and triple crossing, and guilt trips. Also, we delve into Mac’s love life a bit as his girlfriend Archie pushes to know why he doesn’t want to take the next step. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog is having girlfriend trouble of his own as he was pimped out, only to return to his regular girlfriend, Molly dog.

My favorite scenes were the old timers at the bar who are nearly oblivious to being held hostage (if only everyone would quiet down so they could enjoy the ball game!) and then when David takes on the female stunt woman Sela Wallace and walks away with some injuries. I also liked the jokes at Gnarly’s expense (lovingly doled out). He did over eat a bit, and it was weird bar food, so of course he would have digestive issues later on.

As a minor quibble, Wanda at the police station is described the exact same way in each book. I think I only noticed this because I have been listening to these books back to back. The sentences are the same, explaining that she’s almost always at the office because her grown kids and their offspring moved back home and she’s avoiding that chaos. With that said, we actually get to know more about her in this book as she has several lines while folks gather at the police station to figure out this tangled mystery.

I liked how we had two alcoholics/addicts in this tale. One has obviously worked hard to clean up his act while the other only enjoys the drama of the cycle (treatment, recovery, falling off the wagon, binges, treatment, etc.). It pulled at the heart strings a bit to see how one was trusted over the other with the resultant consequences.

Over all, it was a good solid mystery with plenty of moving parts and more than one guilty person with more than one motive. I love the way Mac puts challenges in front of his hotel manager, a really good guy who takes his job seriously.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: James C. Lewis was OK with this book. His female voices were good but his range wasn’t that big. Often, I had to listen closely to keep track of who was talking unless it was a character with a distinct accent. The narrators keep changing for this series and I think that’s part of it. I had gotten used to Mike Algers and previously Dan Lawson did an incredible job on one of the books. Book 1 was narrated by a woman, Janean Jorgenson. As a stand alone, I would say this is a decent narration.

What I Liked: A layered mystery; former child stars; an alcoholic who is succeeding with his recovery versus one who doesn’t take recovery seriously; the drunk baseball enthusiasts at the bar; Gnarly’s woman troubles; Sela the stunt woman; multiple guilty parties.

What I Disliked: There’s a minor character, Wanda, who gets the same descriptive paragraph for the last 3 books. This is a minor criticism and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 21st, 2017.

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: The Lady Who Cried Murder by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 7 hours 24 minutes

Series: Book 6 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 6 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Three years ago in Spencer, Maryland, young Khloe Everest was reported missing by her mom after she received a disturbing phone call. However, it turned out to be a publicity stunt and all of the the Spencer police felt a fool when Khloe strolled up during a press conference on the ongoing search for the young lady. Now, she’s planning another publicity stunt in order to relaunch her grab for fame and fortune. This time, things don’t go as she likes and she ends up dead. So many suspects, so little time.

David O’Callaghan, the Spencer Police Chief, isn’t too excited to be called in to check out Khloe’s current residence. The wannabe diva’s social media went dark 3 days ago but David still remembers the sting of her first publicity stunt. Grudgingly, he offers to check it out provided all cameras stay outside. What he finds is quite grisly and the murder investigation is launched.

This book was pretty good though not my favorite in the series. The investigation into Khloe’s murder along with David’s courtship of an old flame, Chelsea, are the two things that stood out to me. There’s also a politician (along with his son) that has some old beef with Mac Faraday (retired DC police detective). That mostly faded into the background for me.

Here is my one criticism for this book. There are some characters that are gay or cross dress and all the characters who do so are on the bad guy list. I can’t tell if the main characters believe that homosexuality or cross dressing are signs of deeper problems and nefarious behavior or not. I’m on the fence on this because I haven’t come across other gay characters before in this series (to my memory). At any rate, I would have preferred that the characters make it clear that there are bad guys that just happen to be gay and not that homosexuality is a trait of questionable behavior.

Back to Khloe. She did have a big bombshell of a secret that she was teasing her followers with, promising to announce it to the world on a specific date. Initially, David isn’t too sure she had any real secret but he has to investigate nonetheless. It was a big secret indeed! I was surprised by this twist and it added a note of seriousness to story. Someone is a real jerk and needs to be taken down!

Then there’s Chelsea. She’s got epilepsy so she has a service dog, Molly, who can sense her episodes coming on and warn her early. Chelsea and David had a relationship in high school and David messed up big time. Back then, he cheated on her and he has regretted that ever since. Now he has a second shot with her and he’s doing his best to prove his sincerity. However, Chelsea is afraid of putting her heart out there again and being hurt. It’s a touch/don’t touch relationship between the two throughout the book. For me, it didn’t have nearly as much appeal as Randi from Book 4. Poor David, I’m not sure he will ever meet the right woman.

Anyway, David and Mac pull strings and dig in the past, calling in Cameron (who we know from the Lovers in Crime series) with her case files that relate to this one. She brought her cat Irving who is a big coon cat that resembles a skunk in coloring. Irving makes me laugh. No one likes being screamed at all the time. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog and Molly make a very cute couple.

All told, it was good. I enjoyed the central mystery around Khloe the most. It was good to have the pets around for comedic relief.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Algers did a very good job with this book. His female voices were believable and his characters were all distinct. He was great at sounding like a real jerk when giving voice to the foul-mouthed bad guys.

What I Liked: Khloe burned bridges with her first publicity stunt; a grisly murder kicks off the investigation; big secrets indeed!; Gnarly and Molly; Irving the skunk cat; Cameron getting called in to help out.

What I Disliked: All the gay or cross dressing folks are on the bad guy list.

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Audible Giveaway & Review: The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

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Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com (2017)

Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

Series: Books 1-8 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

This charming collection of children’s tales all center around dragons of one ilk or another. Each story can be read as a stand alone. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing two of these stories previously and when I saw that he narrator had 8 stories in one collection, I couldn’t resist. I know it would be good stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. These stories are great for kids and fun for adults too.

The Book of Beasts – This is one of the stories I have previously listened to and reviewed. It was just as good the second time around. The child king Lionel finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too! 5/5

Uncle James – This story was so cute and it was mostly because there are cute little dog-sized elephants! Who doesn’t want a pet elephant that can snuggle on your lap and eat popcorn while you watch Flight of the Dragons? This tale takes place in Rotundia where all the sizes are backwards and a dragon has shown up that wants a princess as a present. Now this isn’t your typical ‘save the princess from the dragon’ story, as young Tom found out. By the way, keep your eye on Uncle James. He may not be trustworthy! 5/5

The Deliverers of Their Country – This was my favorite out of all the stories. It starts with young Effie getting something in her eye and that something is a teensy tiny dragon! Go ahead, squeal in love and excitement. I know I did. Who doesn’t want to adopt such a little dragon? However, these small dragons keep popping up throughout the land and they are starting to wreak havoc. Now Effie and her friend Harry have to find a way to reduce the number of dragons. It’s a clever solution to an over-population problem. 6/5

The Ice Dragon – Imagine North Pole dwarves dressed in seal skin. Now toss in an ice dragon. Lastly, make room for two adventurous kids, George and Jane, who just wanted to see the Northern Lights. things go ever so wrong. This story was actually a little gruesome because it has a bit of a body count. It’s not gory but I was a little surprised at little bit of darkness that crept into this story. Still, it was clever and the kids survive, so all’s well. 5/5

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – This was an interesting one. A childless Queen goes to an old witch begging for a child and the witch takes her jewels and uses them to whip up a baby girl. The Queen is totally satisfied but the King wanted a boy. So obviously, that makes a wedge between the couple. When the daughter reaches a certain age, he banishes her to an island that is protected by big beasties, like a dragon. Her mother, the Queen, and the witch both make sacrifices to make it possible for her to one day be rescued. I liked that the story hinged upon the love for an old crone. However, the princess to be rescued seemed rather daft to me, which I didn’t really care for. 4/5

The Fiery Dragon – This is the second story in this collection that gives a nod to St. George, a famous dragon slayer. Granddaughter Sabrinetta has got some skills on her which is a good thing because her unscrupulous cousin, Prince Tiresome, tosses her out of the dragon-proof tower to deal with the fiery dragon. Luckily she has a great friend, Elfin the pigkeeper, who can help her. That’s another thing I really like about these stories – so often there’s a ‘commoner’ that is essential to solving whatever dragon issue there is. 5/5

The Dragon Tamers – This had a little steampunky feel to it. John is a blacksmith and he and his wife have a new baby that cries often and loudly. Yet even with that intermittent noise, John has noticed an odd sound coming from the basement. He finally has to go down there for coal and he meets this dragon that needs rivets to repair his wing. The dragon isn’t shy about telling John what he plans to do once his wing is repaired: eat all the people including John and his family. Now John has to outsmart this dragon and that loud baby gets to play a key role in the subterfuge. It was clever and fun. 5/5

Kind Little Edmond – This is the second story I had the privilege to enjoy previously. This is the tale of young Edmond, who was filled to the brim with curiosity, so much so that he often irritated his elders. But not his loving and doting grandmother. Edmond decides to explore the nearby mountains and hears some very odd sounds. He meets and helps a mythical beast, a manticore, who rewards him by telling him magnificent tales. This was a great little tale and I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed this one as the tale has this underlying current about the value of learning things for oneself. 5/5

The Last of the Dragons – This great little story turns the typical princess + dragon + prince story on it’s head. Tradition requires the princess to be rescued from the dragon by a prince. However, this princess would much rather rely on her own fencing skills. The dragon isn’t too thrilled about the idea of coming out, threatening a nice young lady, and then being slain for the sake of tradition. This prince is up for doing something different. Why should he have to do all the hard work? It’s a great story to finish out the book. 5/5

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

The Narration: Karen Krause does such a lovely job with this classic. Her little kid voices are so believable yet she is also great at doing grumpy elderly characters as well. Her voices for the various beasts are also fun. You can tell that she enjoyed narrating these tales as much as I enjoyed listening to them. Great performance all around!

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; it’s great to see these classics come to audiobook; a charming collection of dragon tales; the author is great at switching things up; kids and adults, boys and girls, rich and poor, clever and kind – just a great representation with these characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – such a great little book. 

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About Author E. Nesbit:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness.

In “A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924”, Julia Briggs labeled Edith Nesbit Bland as the “first modern writer for children” and credits Nesbit with having invented the children’s adventure story.  Some of her best known stories are The Railway Children, Five Children and It and her Bastable family stories, The Story of the Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods.  Her stories combined realistic children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventure, including travel to fantastical lands.  She has influenced such writers as P.L. Travers (Mary Poppins), Edward Eager (Tales of Magic) and J.K. Rowling and several of her stories have been adapted for film and television.  

Nesbit was a free thinker, a political activist, and co-founder of the Fabian Society.  A young Noel Coward, who was a great admirer of hers, once said she was “the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen”.

Wikipedia

Synopsis of The Book of Dragons 1-8:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness. This is a collection of nine of her fairy tales with a common theme – Dragons! For children from five to 95, these stories are not to be taken seriously. Let your imagination run wild!

The Book of Beasts – A young king finds a magical book once owned by his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and unwittingly sets a wicked beast loose in his kingdom. Now he must find a way to best the beast and win back the love of his subjects.

Uncle James – The island kingdom of Rotundia is normal in every way but one – all the animals are the wrong sizes. And when a purple dragon finds its way to the island and desires the princess as a birthday present, young Tom the garderner’s son, along with his lap dog sized elephant Fido, must find a way to save her.

The Deliverers of Their Country – “It all started when Effie got something in her eye…” and before the week was out, the country was overrun with dragons of all sizes. Effie and Harry decide something must be done, so they set out to wake St. George.

The Ice Dragon – Have you ever wanted to travel to the North Pole? See the Aurora Borealis up close and personal? Well, make sure you catch up to George and Jane, two disobedient children, who on December 11th, set out to do just that, finding adventure and a dragon on the way.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – When the King and Queen were ready to have a child, the Queen did what all good queens do; she visited the local witch. But she forgot to specify the King wanted a boy child.

The Fiery Dragon – Poor Sabrinetta, granddaughter to brave St. George the dragonslayer, has been banished to her dragon-proof tower while her evil cousin rules her kingdom. But when the dragon wakes, Prince Tiresome runs to the safety of her tower, throwing her out to fend off the dragon by herself. Can she and Elfin the pigkeeper save her people before the dragon has his way with them?

The Dragon Tamers – John the Blacksmith doesn’t know what is at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the dungeon. With any luck, he’ll never find out. But one day when he goes into the dungeon to fetch more coal, he comes face to face with the dragon that has risen from the depths. It looks like today John’s luck may have run out. Or is it just beginning?

Kind Little Edmond – Edmund is not fond of learning but he loves to find out. One day he finds out about the creatures living in the mountain near his village and thinks maybe he doesn’t like finding out about things so much after all. But once the creatures have been found, there is nothing to do but find a way to save the village before it’s too late.

The Last of the Dragons – As tradition holds, on her 16th birthday, the Princess must be tied to a post and left for the dragon. Of course, the Prince has always slain the dragon and saved the Princess. But this Princess is none too confident in the Prince’s ability to save her. She’s much better at her fencing lessons than he. So why can’t the Prince be tied up and saved by the Princess? And, why must the last dragon in England be slain at all?

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Karen Krause:

Karen grew up in a musical family and started singing with her daddy’s band when she was knee-high to a grasshopper, as they say in her native Ozark Mountains.  She’s been performing ever since, playing to anyone who would sit still long enough. When she wasn’t demanding to be the center of attention, she was high in her backyard tree reading just about anything she could get her hands on.  Her love of theatre and the stage grew from school plays and backyard shows to a college degree and regional theatre.  And her love of literature grew as well.  She discovered the world of audiobooks when they really were books on tape and has been an avid fan ever since.  About five years ago, she had an epiphany (why it took her so long is a mystery).  She could combine her love of performing with her love of the spoken word.  She recorded her first audiobook in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.  She just finished her 39th book and it will be released on Audible in June.

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GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 3-month Audible subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 8th, 2017.
The Book of Dragons Giveaway

Solitude by Dean M. Cole

Narrators: RC Bray, Julia Whelan

Publisher: CANDTOR Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dimension Space

Author’s Page 

Commander Angela Brown has become stranded in space on the International Space Station (ISS) even as a strange light wave races across the Earth, cutting communications with the ISS. Meanwhile Army Aviator Vaughn Singleton and his astronaut friend Mark are test flying a new, cutting edge vehicle that can potentially lift itself up into orbit. When this phenomena hits their area, they are disconnected from the Earth in this vehicle. You can imagine their horror when they land and find no human or animal life anywhere!

This was a thoroughly engaging story. I was caught up in Angela’s tale right away. She’s the Commander by chance on the ISS when this event hits Earth and it’s simply bad luck that she was unable to get to the escape module in time, leaving her stranded in space. She gets a few more snippets from her contacts on Earth about the approaching wave of light before all goes dark. However, she’s not one to sulk. So she sets an emergency recording to play continually and monitors the frequency twice a day in case someone from Earth tries to contact her. As time goes on, she tightens her belt and tightens up the ISS, shutting down areas and experiments in order to conserve energy, food, and warmth. At first, I thought it was a bit reckless to get attached to the mice. However, they were the only living things she had for all that time in space. Her perseverance eventually pays off. I liked that she kept herself busy with observations about the Earth as she continued to orbit it, leading her to believe that CERN and the Hadron Collider in Switzerland is worth a visit.

Then there’s Vaughn. It took me longer to get attached this this character but I did and cheered him on and agonized with him throughout the story. He’s one of those lucky humans that was born with both physical abilities and brains; however, he’s a bit lazy and never pushes himself for something more. His natural abilities have made life easy for him. His best friend Mark points this out to him even as they are prepping this cool cutting edge vehicle that may change how humans get to and from space. So the big event happens and Mark and Vaughn are traumatized to find that all humans are gone; there are no bodies, no ash. Same for animal life though plant life seems unaffected. At first, they can’t believe this and they venture out looking for answers. Unfortunately, Vaughn ends up alone and he’s miserable. He does have a little pity party. Honestly, I wasn’t sure Vaughn would make it through this event. But he rallies and starts by working on himself first, exercising and making sure he has food and shelter. Then he starts trying to figure out how any other humans might have made it through this. Luck puts him in contact with Angela and this gives Vaughn a solid purpose. He needs to rescue her from the ISS as her food and water supplies are all but gone. This is where I really got attached to Vaughn, wanting him to succeed.

As an aside, Vaughn grabs his family jewels many times in an attempt to protect them from possible radiation exposure. Now, he’s an Army aviator that test flies cutting edge vehicles. He knows that cupping his huevos isn’t going to protect them. However, I think it was instinct. After the second time, I couldn’t help but giggle each time he did it. Also, I think the author must have consulted a thesaurus, using a different term for testicles each time.

I liked all the cool tech in this book. There’s some hypothetical stuff that has probably been tossed out by the scientific community but it makes for exciting reading. The massive light wave that eventually circumnavigates the world is left mostly a mystery, though Angela has a starting point to unravel that in the next book. The specialized vehicle Vaughn gets to fly was pretty darn cool! Then there’s the ISS which is always of interest to me.

All told, it was an exciting and interesting tale. Since the cast is small, I could really explore the two main characters, sympathizing with them, worrying with them, and celebrating in their triumphs. The story ends on a win even as it leaves the larger mystery (what happened to all the people and animals) open for the next book.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: RC Bray and Julia Whelan are two of my favorite narrators so it was great to hear them both in this book. Bray did a great job with Vaughn, sounding like a gifted, but lazy, man. His performance when Vaughn was at his lowest was really good, capturing those emotions well. Whelan was excellent as Angela, who has doubts about her ability to command at the beginning at the story but blossoms into a confident woman as she rallies to do what she can about this event. Those scenes with Angela and mice were poignant and Whelan was great with Angela’s emotions.

What I Liked: Great cover art; the big event that changes Earth; Angela stuck on the ISS by accident; Marc & Vaughn survive by chance; both main characters go through tough physical and emotional moments; both main character grow from this experience; the possible connection with the Hardon Collider; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a very fun read.

What Others Think: 

The Audiobook Reviewer

Jim’s Sci-fi Blog

Brian’s Book Blog

Dusty Sharp