Book Giveaway, Interview, & Review: Time Reavers by Jacob Holo

Author: Jacob Holo

Narrator: Tess Irondale

Series: Time Reavers, Book One

Length: 8 hours 36 minutes

Publisher: Holo Writing

Released: July 13, 2017

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The monsters are real, and time is their weapon.

Fed up with bad teachers and daily fights with her sister, 16-year-old Nicole Taylor yearns for something better. Sadly, she’s in for a letdown, because the world ends next week.

Nicole discovers she has a rare gift. She can bend time around her and even stop it completely. With her powers awakening, she must face the Reavers: horrific killing machines that exist outside our time.

Plagued with nightmares and ambushed by monsters at every turn, Nicole has one chance to stop their genocidal invasion. With help from a chain-smoking pyrokinetic, a neurotic sword-wielding assassin, and an icy goth chick with a crossbow, she may stand a chance.

But the Reavers are tireless foes, and time is on their side.

 

 

Jacob Holo is a former-Ohioan, former-Michigander living in sunny South Carolina. He describes himself as a writer, gamer, hobbyist, and engineer. Jacob started writing when his parents bought that “new” IBM 286 desktop back in the 80s. Remember those? He’s been writing ever since.

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Narrator Bio

Tess​ Irondale​ is a professional audiobook narrator and voice actress, credited with bringing ​nearly ​5​0 titles to life. ​She ​specializes ​in ​Fantasy, Adventure, and Erotica, although ​her​ work ​has covered​ nearly every genre including Young Adult, Humor, Spirituality, ​LGBTQ, Sci-Fi, Self Help and ​Mystery​. ​She is on Audible’s in-house voice roster, and ​also works directly with authors through ACX.​ When not in the recording booth, she can be found hiking in the woods or hunkered over a crossword puzzle.

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Time manipulators, a secret society based in the secret city of Chronopolis, and the Reavers (giant bugs) make this a hell of a fun ride! Nicole unexpectedly finds out that she can manipulate time while on a class trip to Russia. There she meets Daniel, a friendly guy with a sword in a trench coat who slays these gigantic bugs. And that’s just the start. I was caught up in this tale right away and the party continued the whole way through the book.

First, Nicole was an easy character to like. She does enter the story a bit deer in the headlights but once she accepts this is her new reality, some of her inner spark and humor start to show. I didn’t always care for her passive aggression with her sister Amy, but I did find it added to her character. They’re sisters so there’s bound to be some love and hate all mixed together. Speaking of Amy, I really liked her. She’s got some issues as well but I like that she owns them.

Then there’s Daniel. This guy had me laughing out loud. He’s got this quirky sense of humor and he can be almost innocent at times. But then he’s also a trained assassin with special gifts. So, yeah. He’s a cuddly, friendly dude who kills people for the leadership of Chronopolis. Those two polar opposites in one character made him fascinating to me.

Enter Rudigers and his cousin Melanie Krieg. They also work for Chronopolis but Ruddy has some different ideas on some things. He and Daniel have history and that gives barbs to their comments to one another. Still, they are committed to saving people and that means they are stuck working together. These 5 young adults make a great team, each one bringing their own unique powers to the story. Later in the tale, we meet Shoto, a swords-smith at Chronopolis. She has some choice words for Daniel, in Japanese. Daniel really does need to get some linguistics lessons.

I loved the bugs! Some are sentient, some aren’t. Some are hive drones, some are brain bugs. These Reavers were all scary and deadly. I especially enjoyed Nicole’s look into the bug leaders’s ideas. While I expected that this story would turn out OK, I did have these little moments where I wasn’t sure if someone would fall to the bugs. They have so many ways to kill humans!

My one little quibble was that I found it a bit unrealistic that Nicole’s parents weren’t more involved. They were quite OK with 16-year-old Nicole and her older sister gallivanting around Europe (that’s the tale they told the parents). So in moments like this, Amy and Nicole felt more like college students instead of high school students. Other than that, I really enjoyed this tale and was entertained throughout it.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Tess Irondale was great for this book. She had plenty of accents to pull off (Russian, British, German, Japanese, American) which she did incredibly well. I was impressed with the speed and accuracy she showed for the various languages. Then there were some emotions in this book and she did great with those as well. Each character was kept distinct and her male voices were believable. A great narration all told!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jacob Holo. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Q&A with Author Jacob Holo
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • It was actually a lot easier than we expected it to be! Several of our indie author pals had great success with Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), so when we decided to dip our toes into audiobook creation, it was the first place we looked. All we had to do was select a narrator, send the manuscript, and voila! Finished audiobook in a few months. Of course, there was a little more to it than that: Once the first recording was done, we listened to it multiple times to catch and smooth out any errors, so it was definitely an arduous process – but it was also a lot of fun.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I work closely with my wife H.P. on most projects, and this was all her. She scoured ACX’s database of voice actors for days to find the perfect voice, and Tess Irondale was the clear stand-out. The main character of Time Reavers, Nicole, is a teenage girl who is flung from a life where her biggest problem is rivalry with her adopted sister Amy…to a life where she suddenly has superpowers and has to use them to fight giant, dimension-hopping, time-manipulating cyborg insects. That’s a pretty big change, but Nicole is a no-nonsense girl who does her best to keep a cool head, even when faced with problems as big as that, and we wanted a voice actor who could capture that type of character. However, the novel also required the ability to convey a wide range of accents, ages, and even monster noises, so that was another big factor in our decision. Fortunately, when H.P. heard Tess’ voice samples, she hit every checkbox perfectly!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Oh, we worked very closely! Time Reavers is set in at least four different countries with characters from at least as many nationalities, some of whom speak with accents you would expect of their home country (in this case, Russia, Germany, Japan, and the US), one of whom is German but raised in conditions that give him a slight British accent. Then there are the reavers themselves, each of which make unique roars that basically sound like the Balrog from The Lord of the Rings movies combined with a jet engine – which is not exactly an easy sound for the human voice to emulate. Tess did a fantastic job with all of it, though. We went back and forth about the characters’ backgrounds, verbal quirks, and even their fates in upcoming books – the sequel, Mind Reavers, is going to be one of our next projects.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Lots actually, though I’d say the biggest contributor came from the time I spent in Germany. I really enjoyed interacting with another culture up close and personal during the time I was working over there, and I actually visited some of the locations that appear in the novel.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I’ve had a passion for writing since a very young age. There are times when I’ll do nothing but write for weeks at a time, often putting in ten, twelve, or even fourteen hour days one after another. Somehow that hasn’t burned me out yet, so I think I’m doing pretty well in that regard.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I’m not. I prefer having an actual book in my hands. But H.P. devours audiobooks, and she loves how a good reader can bring an entirely new dimension to a book. Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, for example, is one of her favorite series, and though Stiefvater is a stellar writer, Will Patton rocks the reading on the audiobook enough that though H.P. owns the series in print, she almost always revisits the series in audio.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I think the characters’ relationships come through more vividly in the audiobook version simply because listeners can hear the emotions behind the words rather than just reading them – and there are a lot of intense emotions in this book. Nicole and Amy have a trying relationship (as teen sisters often do), and Daniel and his fellow Tau Guard Rüdiger have a particularly dark and tempestuous history that bubbles up at tense moments. Beyond that, though, Tess’ unique performances for each individual character gives them all a chance to shine even more brightly than they did in the text version. H.P. said she actually developed a little crush on Rüdiger’s voice.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I’d travel into the future and pick up some “history” books or whatever the equivalent turns out to be. Then I’d check them out just to see how far off my science fiction is.
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • It astonishes readers when I say this, but even though my stories play out like movies in my imagination, I rarely have specific people in my for the characters I write. H.P. is the opposite: She pictured teenage versions of Saorise Ronan as Nicole, Daniel Radcliffe as the assassin Daniel Cadinsky, and Rinko Kikushi as the weaponsmith Shoko.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I don’t consider it cheating, and H.P. finds that sort of elitism very tiring – and frankly, what does it matter? Whether listening or reading, a person’s still experiencing the same content, just in a different package. Plus, one of the reasons why we considered making audiobooks in the first place is because certain groups of people specifically requested them, as reading physical books is somehow difficult for them. For some the reasons were circumstantial – One worked as a truck driver and so had no time to read physical books, but had hours upon hours in which he could plow through audiobooks. For most, though, the reasons were unavoidable – We’ve met a number of people at cons who struggle with dyslexia or similar difficulties, and audiobooks allow them to experience the pleasure of reading while taking away the processing difficulties. All this to say, audiobooks are in no way inferior, just different.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I started another novel – or three! Soon after releasing Time Reavers, I released Bane of the Dead, Throne of the Dead, and Disciple of the Dead, which are a complete trilogy of giant robot novels that take inspiration from mecha anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Suit Gundam. Fun Fact: My love of anime actually influences a lot of my writing, so sometimes I’ll stick anime easter eggs into my books. Daniel’s ringtone? It’s “Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” the theme song from Evangelion.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • I generally find stand-alone novels to be easier to write. Problems come up in the planning and writing of any novel, and the “tools” available to the author in a standalone novel are a lot more flexible since it’s not part of a larger universe. But ultimately, I really enjoy working on a series and getting to dig deeper into difference aspects of a fictional universe as well as show the progression of characters through a series of the events. For instance, I’m really looking forward to exploring the backstory of the reavers in Mind Reavers, which is something I barely touched on in the first book.
  • What’s your favorite:
      1. Food – Sushi is basically its own food group in our house.
      2. Song – Oh, this is a tough one. I’m going to have to go with “Don’t Worry” from Xenoblade Chronicles X, arranged by Hiroyuki Sawano and performed by Aimee Blackschleger. Through a strange series of events (involving my wife’s retina suddenly detaching from the back of her eye, her lung spontaneously collapsing, and this music playing in my car as I drove her around), “Don’t Worry” has, in a strange way, become our song.
      3. Book – Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was the first book I read that really captured my imagination in a way that made me want to create my own worlds.
      4. Television show – Oh, wow. So many good ones to pick from. Hmm, let me think here. I’ll have to go with Doctor Who.
      5. Movie – This one’s easy. Dirty Pair: Project Eden. It’s definitely a product of its time (1986), but once you get past that, it’s a fun, goofy action anime where the simplest mistake can result in a string of explosions.
      6. Band – Anything featuring Yuki Kajiura.
      7. Sports team – The closest I come to watching sports is watching Starcraft tournaments, but if I could choose a favorite player, it would be Scarlet.
      8. City – Kyoto. My brother and I visited the city on my way back from a long term assignment in China, and it was the best vacation of our lives. The city was a fantastic mix of modern conveniences and historical temples and shrines. The weather was perfect, the food was awesome, and the people were ever so friendly.
  • Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
    • Occasionally. For instance, a major sequence in Mind Reavers will take place in Kyoto.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • We encounter a lot of aspiring authors, especially at conventions, and the main piece of advice we give them is always WRITE! A lot of people say they have a great idea for a book but never actually get it down on paper, and that’s the key – If you want to be a published writer, you have to finish your book. It may not be as good as you think it should be, but that’s ok. If you’ve finished the first draft, you’ve already accomplished a lot more than many aspiring authors. From that point, you edit and edit and edit again until you’ve polished it into something you’re ready to share with the world.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • An audiobook can be made or ruined by its reader, so make sure you find a reader who suits the characters and style of your book. Time Reavers would not have been the same book if it had been read by a gravelly-voiced old man (even though that same gravelly-voiced old man might be well suited to some of our other books)!
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’ve had the exciting privilege of collaborating on the first book in a new series with New York Times Bestselling author David Weber! It’s a time travel novel, the first draft is nearly complete, and I hope we’ll be ready to share some of the juicy details soon. Any readers who’d like to learn more can subscribe to our newsletter at https://holowriting.leadpages.co/dragonsofjupiter/. Subscribers are the first to learn about our new releases, as well as any contests or giveaways that we run. (We usually do two a month!)

 

Win a signed copy of Time ReaversRuns Sep. 20th-27th, 2017. Open to Continental US Only.

Time Reavers Giveaway: Signed Copy of Time Reavers

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Audiobook Giveaway: Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr.

Book Details:

Book Title: Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Category: Adult Fiction; 126 pages
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: March 2011
Tour dates: Sept 11 to 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG

Audiobook Details:

Release Date:07-13-17
Publisher: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Written by: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Narrated by: Alistair Dryburgh
Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
Series: Alexander Steele Mysteries, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook

Book Description:

Alexander Steele is a private detective turned night club owner in the city of Philadelphia. Steele and his longtime girlfriend Shakia’s plans for him to retire are derailed when his cousin brings him an encrypted travel drive. The drive is opened by Steele’s hacker friend Stan. A few days earlier every transformer in Canada had been shut down by the terrorist. The drive in Steele’s possession gave details as to how the event would happen. What made it even more frightening was that the documents on the drive were created 3 months before the actual event; Steele finds himself drawn into the well-crafted mind games of a madman known as Chameleon an American terrorist.

His goal is to shut down the country by collapsing the economy of the United States. From the snow cover streets of Montreal to the tropical beaches of Nassau Steele follows a trail of clues and dead bodies. As he gathers more puzzle pieces Steele inches closer hoping to reveal and thwart the plot to bring down the U S government. He finds himself narrowly surviving constant attempts on his life. The dramatic face-off between Steele and Chameleon takes place in downtown Philadelphia. How will it end? Find out in Blackout, now on Audible.

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Meet the Author:
Born and raised in the city of Brotherly Love I have been writing for nearly 10 years. I am the author of the 2012 scifi novel Escape 2 Earth. In early 2009 I completed the second installment in the the Escape 2 Earth trilogy called Return 2 Earth also several short stories including a fantasy story titled Dimensions in Time and a sci fi story titled Planet of Doom.
In 2011 I completed my first detective novel called Blackout. Before writing Escape 2 Earth I began putting together a collection of inspirational and motivational quotes titled Observations from the Edge of Society. I am currently working on the final book in the Escape 2 Earth series called Earth 2, Redemption which will be completed in 2017.
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Win one of four audiobook copies of Blackout (open to USA and Canada)(ends Sept 30)

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Blood Divine by Greg Howard

Author: Greg Howard

Narrator: Gary Furlong

Length: 9 hours 6 minutes

Publisher: Anakim Press

Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Genre: Paranormal

Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield, the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he’s ever loved, Cooper must embrace the dark power threatening to consume him, and choose sides in a deadly war between the righteous and the fallen.

Greg Howard grew up near the coast of South Carolina, or as he fondly refers to it, “the armpit of the American South.” His hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina is known as the “Ghost Capital of the South,” (seriously…there’s a sign), and was always a great source of material for his overactive imagination.

Raised in a staunchly religious home, Greg escaped into the arts: singing, playing piano, acting, writing songs, and making up stories. After running away to the bright lights and big city of Nashville, Tennessee with stars in his eyes and dreams of being the Dianne Warren of Music City, he took a job peddling CDs and has been a cog in the music business machine ever since.

Now an adult with a brain, Greg finds the South Carolina coast to be a perfectly magical place where he vacations yearly. Currently, Greg resides in Nashville, TN with his husband, Steve, and their three rescued fur babies. Molly, Toby, and Riley.

Greg’s debut adult paranormal novel, BLOOD DIVINE, was released by Wilde City Press in September 2016. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers acquired Greg’s debut young adult novel, SOCIAL INTERCOURSE, which will be released in Summer 2018.

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Narrator Bio

Gary Furlong grew up in Wexford, Ireland. Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee; and as a singer and actor all over Ireland. He started narrating audiobooks in late 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

Gary made his acting debut in the musical Godspell as a student. Since then he has pursued acting both on the amateur and professional circuits. Notable roles include Tom Collins in Bare Cheek’s production of Rent in 2010.

Over the course of his five years in Japan, he was an actor, director, and audio producer. It was during this time that he discovered his interest in audiobooks and voice-over.

He now works full-time as an audiobook narrator and voice actor from his home in Ireland.

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This paranormal mystery has some Southern Gothic flair to it while also being set in the modern day world. Cooper Causey starts off as a bit of a man whore, flitting from man to man in a string of one-night stands. Part of him knows he wants a deeper relationship yet he runs from the idea of it. Then he gets a very strange and a little frightening voicemail from his granma, his only family left, and he hightails it to South Carolina and then Warfield to rescue her. Turns out Granma Maymay (as the locals call her) had some secrets! I can’t recall her real name – Anne-May? Lilly May? I think it was Granma Lilly May so I’ll just call her that.

What a treat this book was! The dark Gothic style to it pulled me right in. I love that there’s family secrets Cooper has to dig up even as he has to decide whether or not to keep his own secrets. He’s gay and he doesn’t know how Lilly May will take it. Silly Cooper! You’ve got much bigger problems on your hands!

So he calls the cops to help locate Lilly May and in walks 6 ft 4 in tall, all muscle, Chief of Police Randy. Yep, Cooper had a crush on him in his teen years and it seems that crush hasn’t faded. Definitely a complication when Cooper doesn’t need one, but a very handsome complication. So, the police are doing their thing when Betsy swoops in and rescues Cooper from Alexander and Stephen (our two main nemeses).

That’s when Cooper has to learn all about the Anakim, which are basically vampires, and how Betsy and her crew have been working hard for centuries to eradicate them from the planet. Cooper’s bloodline has special powers and are called the Divinum. Cooper’s blood does special things for the Anakim.

The story becomes a bit of a hostage swap game as Alexander demands Cooper submit to him as a blood slave in exchange for whoever he has captured at the moment. Yes, there’s plenty of flirtatious and lascivious comments, some double entendres, and some outright compliments between all the men. They often lightened up the mood, putting a little humor into the story line.

I especially liked the two old lady ghosts that set up watch and info center at the Phipps house (Lilly May’s place). Now these ladies don’t like to be called ghosts as that’s an out dated term and considered a little insulting. They prefer to be called spirits. So even as Cooper is learning his ethereal political correctness, one of these old ladies uses out dated terms, such as Negro, which was commonly used when she was alive. Cooper tries to bring them up to speed but eventually shelves it for more important matters. This whole situation gave me a bit of a chuckle.

All together, it was a very good listen. I liked the mystery, and the mystique, the jokes and the underlying seriousness to many of them, the bad guys and their minions, the good guys and their complicated motivations. The story wraps up several major points but leaves plenty open for a sequel. I do so hope things work out OK for Cooper!

The Narration: Gary Furlong is the reason I decided to give this book a listen and I’m very glad I did. The story was engaging and Furlong added to that with his excellent narration. He was perfect as Cooper while also keeping all the other characters distinct. He performed a few regional accents and his female characters were believable. I really liked his voice for Randy both when he was pissed off and in his softer more intimate moments.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Greg Howard. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Audiobook & Ebook Giveaway: Interview with Natalie Wright, Author of the H.A.L.F. Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Natalie Wright. I recently met her at Albuquerque’s Bubonicon where we spent close to an hour talking about books (of course!). It’s my great pleasure to have her on the blog today. Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the ebook and audiobook giveaway of Books 1 & 2 of her H.A.L.F. series.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

This one is hard because I love so many movies and shows! I’m a huge Star Wars nut, so it would be great to be an extra in a Star Wars movie. I’d love to be cast as a Jedi knight, swinging a light saber in the background. But given my short, squat stature and lack of athleticism, they’d probably cast me as an Ewok!

I also love Game of Thrones and would love to wear a beautiful silk gown and perhaps be a lady-in-waiting in a court. But given my flaming hair and Celtic genes, they’d probably cast me as a Stygian-witch sort of character, wearing rough-spun peasant clothes and gathering herbs or brewing potions.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?

Wow, that’s a great question! I think it would be A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Of course she is no longer with us, so it’s not going to happen! But that book was so influential to me as a child. It was the first science fiction book that I ever read and it opened a world of possibility for me.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Ooohh, a delicious question. I’m a huge fan of the Bard so I’d have to invite William Shakespeare. And since I’m inviting dead people, I’d also invite Charles Dickens, Madeleine L’Engle (and hopefully get that autograph we talked about ;-), and Robert Jordan (author of the Wheel of Time series). And speaking of the Wheel of Time, I’d love to meet my current book boyfriend, Rand Al’Thor in person so I’d invite him (so long as he promises not to channel the One Power and burn anything down).

But who wants a party with only dead people? I loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I think she’d get along nicely with the ghost guests. Another favorite and all-around cool lady, I’d love for Anne Rice to attend. I think I owned at least one copy of every one of Anne’s books when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. And of course J.K. Rowling. I mean come on, any book party has to include the icon that pretty much created the YA genre. Finally, I’d want to meet Suzanne Collins. I’d love to pick her brain about many aspects of The Hunger Games trilogy.

We can discuss only three books?! Impossible!

Given the folks in attendance, it would be fun to compare and contrast the young protagonists/heroes of Hamlet, Harry Potter and Rand from Wheel of Time. And wouldn’t it be cool to get William Shakespeare’s opinions on Katniss Everdeen? Okay, that’s four books.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

The invention that I want is teleportation. I’m ridiculously curious and want to see everything and love to travel and see new things. Even if I had an unlimited purse, the time (and pain in the arse) of travel makes it a drag. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get into a telephone booth-type gadget and like Dr. Who, basically instantly and relatively painlessly travel to another part of the world? Or even another part of the galaxy?

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Okay, I’ve had some crappy jobs. Right up there was the summer between my senior year of high school and college when I worked at a SuperAmerica gas station/convenience mart (like a Circle K for west coasters). Absolute worst thing ever? Working on July 4 and a biker gang stopped and all of them used the toilet. I refuse to speak of what I had to clean up in that restroom!

The most difficult job though was my twenty years as a divorce lawyer. Better pay than the convenience mart job and I didn’t have to clean nasty bathrooms! But it was emotionally intense. I enjoyed helping people, but it was hard to be involved in rancor day-in and day-out.

Writing has its own difficulties, but I truly love every aspect of my writing life. I even like editing.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Being a big fan of The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, I was super excited last year when I found out he would be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. I had a table in the vendor area that was right across from George’s bookstore and though he didn’t work the table, he popped in from time-to-time to chat with the folks running it for him. I had several chances over the three days to at least say hello. I watched as other people approached him, respectfully, to get autographs.

I sat at my table and each time he walked by, it was like I had been hit by a spell that made me mute! I couldn’t even speak or make eye contact! I was so afraid of sounding like a babbling idiot that I didn’t even say hello.

Maybe next year I’ll work up the nerve to at least say hi.

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

I travel quite a bit to appear at sci-fi/fantasy cons, comic cons and book festivals. My next travel will be in late September for Salt Lake Comic Con. It’s my favorite large con (around 120,000+ people attend). It’s a gathering of nerds and geeks from all over the northwestern US and lots of readers! I’ll also be at Tucson Comic Con (TusCon) and the Mesa Book Festival this year.

Now that I’ve finished writing the H.A.L.F. series—which I worked on for seven years!—I’m free to explore anything. Exciting! I’m toying with the idea of writing a spin-off from the H.A.L.F. series involving the M’Uktah culture on their planet. I’m also developing an epic high fantasy series, but I’m keeping the details of that one quiet for now. If it goes as I envision, I think readers are going to love it.

About Author Natalie Wright:

Natalie is the author of the award-winning science fiction series H.A.L.F., and The Akasha Chronicles, a popular young adult fantasy trilogy with over 2 Million reads on Wattpad. She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, teen daughter, and two cat overlords.

Natalie spends her time writing, reading, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, and meeting readers and fans at book festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. Natalie appears frequently on radio, podcasts and vlogs such as The Speculative Fiction Cantina, Front Row Geeks and iHeart Radio.

Website ~ NewsletterFacebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath, Book 1:

H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

Amazon ~ Audible

Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Makers, Book 2:

Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.

You’ve seen the aliens known as “the Greys” in movies and on TV. But what if everything you think you know about them is wrong?

And what if the Greys are only the beginning?

On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the M’Uktah have evolved from a wolf-like predatory creature into a highly advanced species that has mastered intergalactic travel. They are cultured. Refined.

And hungry.

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is she on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and have promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with the Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay?

Commander Sturgis has the vindication she craved and the alien war she prepared for. But while she cleans up the mess the aliens left behind, The Makers have other plans for Sturgis and her prized creation, Alecto.

Caught up in their personal battles, will any of them realize the threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Each winner will be allowed to choose either Book 1 or Book 2 of the H.A.L.F. series. There will be 2 ebook winners and 2 audiobook winners. That’s 4 winners total! Giveaway is open international. Ends October 16, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Who are some of your favorite science fiction authors? If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? Leave a way to contact you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Storm Raiders by P. T. Hylton & Michael Anderle

Narrator: Gabra Zackman

Publisher: LMBPN Publishing (2017)

Length: 6 hours 28 minutes

Series: Book 1 Storms of Magic

Hylton’s Page ~ Anderle’s Page

Book Blurb: 

In a time when magic rules the sea, she only trusts her sword.

Abbey has always been an outsider in Holdgate. While the people of her adopted city dominate the seas with their weather-controlling storm magic, she prefers the work in her father’s blacksmith shop – besting any foolish enough to question her skills with a sword. But when her father is falsely accused of murder, she has to sneak aboard a stormship and take to the seas in a quest to clear his name. Teaming up with a young storm mage and a no-nonsense Captain, Abbey sets off on a swashbuckling adventure. She’ll soon learn that the legendary Storm Raiders – a terrifying group of seafaring pirates – are all too real.

Set on the foundation laid by the Kurtherian Gambit series, Storm Raiders tells an entirely new story in the Age of Magic – and of the heroes and villains who battle for control of its destiny.

My Review

Note: This series is part of a much bigger series and is technically Book 59 of The Kurtherian Gambit Universe. This book works just fine as a stand alone.

This was the book of badassery I needed and didn’t even knew existed until a few weeks ago. Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. The characters were fun, the plot was full of action, and the world building drew me in completely.

Abbey is my favorite character. She’s been working in her dad’s blacksmithery all her life and playing with sharp pointy things since she could stand. She’s a full on action hero in this book but she’s also NOT a cliched broken character that needs to find redemption or her place in life. She comes from a loving single-parent home and has self-confidence.

Sid was my second favorite character. She’s a warrior on board the ship that Abbey sneaks onto after her dad is falsely accused of murder. She’s bald headed and swings two swords like nobody’s business. She’s also a great commander in battle. Such a practical woman! Then there’s Dustin, who took longer to grow on me. He’s just recently gotten his cloak and staff and is officially now a Storm Caller. Yay Dustin! Dustin initially is a little standoffish to Abbey but he comes around, especially after Abbey saves his life a time or two.

Benjamin, Abbey’s dad, has a past that adds some mystery to the mix. He also has a special staff that is a bit of magictech from his hometown of Arkadia. Tor and Dallia are the foremost Storm Captain and Storm Caller of Holdgate. They sail the Thunderclap and they and their crew are always treated as heroes when they return to port.

The plot has these Viking-like reavers that the Storm ships are suppose to repel, protecting Holdgate and nearby settlements. However, Abbey and Dustin find out that not all is on the up and up on their first trip out. Once I learned the full extent of it, I briefly wondered how such a secret was kept with perhaps as many as 300 Holdgate citizens involved. Later we find out that certain people have been suspicious that something was afoot but hadn’t put it all together yet. Plus, you need a very strong case to take down the instigators.

They story was well paced bouncing between quieter moments where someone is learning a bit of magic or have a useful conversation and bigger moments where buildings are on fire and juiced up warriors are trying to take your head! Plenty of snarky comments are tossed around, making me laugh out loud at times. There’s a real sense of camaraderie among the main characters.

All told, this was a delight. It has the epic fantasy feel to it while being a book you can listen to in a day. This tale ended well, answering most of the questions presented but leaving just enough open for the sequel. I’m ready for Book 2!

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Gabra Zackman was great for this book. She was the perfect Abbey, pulling off the snark and Abbey’s emotions with ease. Her male voices were all distinct and sounded like men. I love her calm, collected voice for Sid even in the heat of battle. Zackman’s narration really added to suspense and action. Awesome narration all around.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; the setting; Abbey’s skills and determination; Dustin definitely grows as a character in this book; the storm magic; Benjamin’s magictech staff; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a very fun novel!

What Others Think:

See Sadie Read

Giveaway, Interview, & Review: Adam Vine, Author of Corruption

Author: Adam Vine

Narrator: Kevin Meyer

Series: Corruption Cycle, Book One

Length: 13 hours 57 minutes

Publisher: Lilydog Books

Released: July 18, 2017

Genre: Dark Fantasy

A dishonored swordsman running from his past.

A city shrouded in dark magic.

An antihero born.

Daniel Harper was champion, until a single mistake destroyed his fencing career forever. With nothing left to lose, he flees to Eastern Europe, where he can start over… where he can be someone else.

In the exotic, lantern-lit crevices of a nameless city, Daniel meets two people who open very different kinds of doors than the ones he is searching for: the troubled flower girl Kashka, who holds the key to a nightmarish otherworld; and the enigmatic street magician and self-professed love tourist Ink, who has the power to bend others to his will.

As Daniel plummets into a downward spiral of hedonism and dereliction, he is tormented by macabre visions of a frozen world in endless darkness where an evil tyrant has stolen the sun, where humanity’s remnants fight to scrape out a cruel existence underground, and wandering spirits inhabit the bodies of the recently deceased. Daniel is doomed to return to this Night Country every time he falls into a deep sleep. But the longer he spends there, the more Daniel realizes his curse is anything but an accident….

Adam Vine was born in Northern California. By day, he is a game writer and designer. He has lived in four countries and visited thirty. He is the author of two novels and many short stories. When he is not writing, he is traveling, reading something icky, or teaching himself to play his mandolin. He currently lives in Germany.

WebsiteTwitterGoodreads
Narrator Bio

Kevin Meyer is a devoted Midwesterner, raised in rural Wisconsin and transplanted to Tulsa, Oklahoma over three decades ago. A career-long voice-over and music radio guy, his iPhone playlist ranges from Alice Cooper and Waylon Jennings to Twenty One Pilots and The Zac Brown Band. Favorite reads are dominated by political biographies (Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy)… and Stephen King.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterLinkedIn

This story was a bit different from what I normally read. First, you have Daniel Harper, an ex-Kendo champion, who has moved to an ex-Soviet country to work for a publishing company translating local works into English. Then you have the Night Country, a post-apocalyptic world that is dark, grim, cold, and cluttered with scary creatures where the Vermin (the last true humans) do their best to survive underground. Then we have a few bits about a very talented masked swordsman called the Rat Catcher, a nemesis of the Vermin.

This story is full of opposites and it caused opposite feelings in me. I was totally engaged all the way through and yet I don’t really like Daniel. Still, I found myself rooting for him; I want him to pull it together and become that hero this story is crying out for. The ladies at first are all sex objects and silly, one-dimensional things. This does change about 4 hours into the book with the Vermin. Those ladies can take care of themselves and then some! So, at first I was a little turned off the story but once we get some gender balance going on, I really started to love this story.

Let’s talk about the two main story lines. First Daniel is laden down by guilt over the death of his past girlfriend and this colors all this relationships. He seems to have given up on steering his own life and he’s willing to take guidance from anyone, including these two questionable guys he meets at the bar. Ugh! I just wanted to slap Daniel so many times. It’s like he’s ghosting through his own life, not really attached to it. I wonder if this is what Adam Vine wanted the reader to feel about Daniel.

So Daniel starts drinking too much on a regular basis and he asks any woman who gives him the chance if she’s French, because that’s the pick up line he was told to use by his new buddies at the bar. Yep, Daniel is not your typical hero, is he? Anyway, eventually he meets Kashka (who has her own issues) and he spends the rest of the book breaking up with her and getting back together. There’s also the Blot! Hahahaha! I’m surprised that’s the only thing he picked up.

Now to the Night Country. Daniel wakes up in clothes not his own in the freezing cold and right away he has to do a fight to the death with this eyeless hulk of a beastman. Then he comes across Zaea, a woman who also wonders how she got here to this frozen world. I loved the Night Country! Though Daniel takes his sweet time becoming an active participant in his own fate even in this messed up world.

The biologist in me reveled in the beasties of the Night Country. There’s giant mites! Not cat sized, not pig sized, no, they are house sized! Aaacchhhh! Run away! And the Vermin do, taking Daniel and Zaea prisoners as they flee. Now Zaea at first isn’t much more than a pretty face and someone for Daniel to ponder on how to flirt with. Later on she also comes into her own, demonstrating her skills.

The Rat Catcher and his overlord kind of tie everything together with this mystical spiral and some weird traveling and what not. I don’t understand it all yet, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. It does give a magical way for Daniel’s soul to travel between his humdrum translator job and his hopeful hero role in Night Country.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. It’s a bit of a mystery as to where it’s going but I like that’s it’s not your typical quest fantasy story.

The Narration: Kevin Meyer was a decent choice for this book. The volume was steady all the way through and I think there was only one repeated sentence in the whole performance. He makes a really great Daniel. However, his female voices were lacking femininity. Also, he doesn’t have a wide range of voices and didn’t use accents, so sometimes the characterizations weren’t distinct and I had to listen closely to keep track of who was saying what. I don’t know why he didn’t use accents for Daniel’s friends and colleagues in the ex-Soviet country, but perhaps the author asked him not to. He was really great at portraying Daniel’s emotions throughout the story. His narration definitely added to the suspense and the gravity of the tale as needed.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Adam Vine. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Dab of Darkness Interview with Author Adam Vine

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I wasn’t very good at cleaning the local coffee shop when I was a teenager. Writing is more fun.

If you were trapped in a dark fantasy world, which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I don’t think I know any fantasy authors in real life well enough to answer this question properly, so I’ll say that I would prefer to surround myself with people who have useful skills: hunting, smithing, cooking, woodcraft, archery, fencing, telling great campfire stories…

What makes you cringe?

When readers trash books they didn’t finish. This is a rhetorical question, but: if one never reaches the end of a road, and has no idea of where it actually leads… how is that person qualified to give others directions?

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

My girlfriend got eaten alive by bedbugs recently, after staying a night at a sketchy hotel in the Scottish highlands. So I did a ton of research on those nasty little bloodsuckers. Did you know that bed bugs can survive for up to a year in your walls or in your box spring before they need to emerge and eat a blood meal?

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

A friend of a friend read my first novel, Lurk, and asked me about it during a barbeque at her house. She really picked my brain about the main character and why I chose to write him the way I did. I purposefully wrote the protagonist of that book as a rather unlikeable, unreliable narrator, which some readers have not been able to get past. But she totally got while I was trying to do, and this was a milestone moment for me as an author, because I don’t think anyone up to that point had ever spoken to me in such detail about my own work. Not awkward, but still a good memory. On the flip side, I exchanged emails with George R.R. Martin once. That was cool.

Which favorite bookish worlds would you like to visit?

The Shire seems nice.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Redwall was my first “real” series. I read tons of books before that, but that is the first series of complex books I remember diving deeply into without the help of grownups. I met the author, Brian Jacques, too. He was a kind and hilarious man.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My dog, Lily. Teamwork makes the dream work. RIP.

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

Check out my debut novel, Lurk if you like horror. My next book is a short, standalone horror novel, tentatively titled Sindago, and will be out this winter. Book two of the Corruption Cycle is coming, too, but that won’t be out for at least a year.

Adam Vine is giving away 5 $10 Amazon gift cards – yep 5 winners! Runs Sep. 13th-20th, 2017. Open internationally.

Corruption Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card (5 Winners)

Sep. 13th:
Notes from ‘Round the Bend

The Literary Apothecary

Sep. 14th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

It’s Novel to Me

Sep. 15th:

Lomeraniel

Shh I Am Reading

Adventures Thru Wonderland

Sep. 16th:

Blogger Nicole Reviews

Jazzy Book Reviews

Turning Another Page

Sep. 17th:

Wonder Struck

Loves Great Reads

Sep. 18th:

The Bookworm Lodge

Lilly’s Book World

Sep. 19th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

My Creatively Random Life

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Under the Moon by Ariana Young

Narrator: Trevor Clinger

Publisher:  Ariana Young (2015)

Length:  21 minutes

Author’s Page

Sarah takes a tumble while hiking in the woods, finding herself pursued by wolves and then in the arms of a strange man who makes her tingle. Things heat up from there.

OK, so I like the premise of the story but the execution needed some help. First, this tale is marked BBW – Big Beautiful Woman. Yet there’s never any mention of Sarah’s proportions at all. So, it’s just a label slapped on the cover.

Next, several descriptive phrases are repeated more than once. This is a short story and in order to not sound repetitive, it’s important to dig out that thesaurus and make it work for it’s existence. The repetition definitely dulled the sexytimes. On the other hand, at least we get to the sexytimes pretty quickly. That’s a bonus because that’s why we’re all here, right?

Then there was this silly moment where Sarah realizes her mystery man isn’t wearing any underwear and it makes her blush in embarrassment. The problem is, she already has his personal bits in her mouth. Yep. I mean how embarrassing can the lack of underclothes be in that moment? But I will give it a point because it made me laugh.

Lastly, there’s more than one reference to a man’s personal equipment being limp. In context, after the act, it’s totally logical. However, it’s not particularly sexy. So over all, this story didn’t do anything for me. This tale was supposed to all sexy bits; instead it was just all kinds of awkward.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Trevor Clinger’s technical production was well done. The volume is a steady level and there’s no repeated sentences or such. However, he does have a ton of odd pauses, kind of like Shatner when he’s poking fun at himself and pausing between every 2 or 3 words. Also, Clinger didn’t really have different voices for the characters and he doesn’t have a particularly sexy voice.

What I Liked: The story’s premise; we get to the important part quickly.

What I Disliked: BBW is just a label slapped on it; that lack of underwear moment; so many repeated phrases killed the mood; reference to limp parts; narration isn’t good.

Red Lantern by Alethea Kontis

Narrator: Michael Sanguinetti

Publisher:  Alethea Kontis (2017)

Length:  33 minutes

Author’s Page

Set on Halloween, Jack Brown is one frustrated painter set on not having any fun. His neighbor Cassie, a Wiccan, has invited him to her party but he plans to stay in and brood. That is until a little dab of blood gets his painter’s inspiration flowing again. What he paints changes his life.

Right from the start, we get a feel for Jack’s life. He’s taking photos of an aged beauty, Molly, who also is well-to-do. He doesn’t really want to paint her portrait but he feels he needs the money. Still, he has this inner monologue that is grumbling about everything. He doesn’t like his neighbors either. In fact, Cassie’s cat somehow got into his apartment once again. Cassie does tease him a little but in a good-hearted way. Alas, Jack can’t take it for what it is.

So in a moment of self-harming, inspiration strikes! But is this the good kind of inspiration or is it something that will consume him, soul and all? It is Halloween and evil spirits may be about. What follows had me on the edge of my seat. I know this is a short story, but it grabbed me from the start and those 33 minutes flew by!

Red, red, red is what consumes Jack. A bit of his blood goes a long way in this tale. I liked that I wasn’t sure where things would go in this story. I knew Jack was in trouble but I wasn’t sure what form the trouble would take. Even at the end, I wasn’t sure how things would go for Jack until all was said and done.

And I like the little bits of humorous imagery thrown in as people in costumes make small appearances in the story. For instance, the woman in camo fallowed by a 6 ft tall squirrel gave me a little laugh.

All told, it’s a great story to set you in the mood for Halloween.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Michael Sanguinetti did a really good job with this story. His narration was smooth with no technical issues. His voice for Jack was spot on, making use of various emotions as the story called for. I liked his simpering old lady voice for Molly and his gentling teasing voice for Cassie.

What I Liked: Had me hooked right away; There’s that moment of hope for Jack as he gets his artistic mojo back; wasn’t sure how things would end – kept me guessing; delightfully creepy tale for Halloween; little bits of humor; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was an engaging tale!

Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4) Part I

The read along of Cibola Burn, Book 4 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Prologue-Chapter 12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Bobbie Draper is back! Though we don’t get much more than a re-intro scene with her in this section … Any thoughts on what form her role in this book might take?

Well, she’s Martian military so I expect she’ll be the muscle to protect Holden or his crew at some point. Yay! I loved that scene with her and how she told that guy off without using violence.

2. We also get to see Havelock again, and in a larger role than before, as we’re set up with a colonisation/(another) ‘evil’ corporation story this time. How do you feel about those kinds of stories? Does this one grab you, and what are your thoughts on Havelock’s role in particular?

Wow! We haven’t seen Havelock since Book 1, right? So it’s good to see he survived the craziness and has a cozy little job with a potentially evil corporation. I expect that Havelock will be slow to catch on to any nefarious schemes but once he does, I think he will sabotage whatever they’re up to. I think it would be awesome if Ghost Miller noticed Havelock and told Holden to go rescue his ass.

3. We’re given perspective on both sides of the battlefield here, as it were – not only with the colony vs. Murtry and his goons, but with the teams of scientists (and Elvi as a new POV character) who are there for their own reasons. What were your first impressions of Elvi, and your thoughts on the general attitude of the scientists present?

I think Elvi and the scientists are all gaga over the science – it’s a whole new biosphere! So exciting! With archaeological ruins too! What scientist wouldn’t be like a kid in a candy store with an unlimited expense account?

So in their quest for scientific studies and answers, I think they have forgotten the people that make the colony run – all the worker bees. Still, I don’t see yet how that deserves the murdering we’ve seen so far.

Murtry on the other hand, well he just likes killing and stomping on people. Amos recognizes this immediately and I’m glad he’s there to keep Holden safe. If it was just the worker bees and the scientists, I think Holden could get them to work it out. But we have Murtry there who’s out for blood.

4. Once again, Holden appears to have the crappy end of the stick, trying to mediate between these two sides. Do you think Avasarala is setting him up, expecting failure, or is there some way he can actually make this work…?

I don’t think Chrisjen expects Holden to fail. However, I can see her using this entire situation as a litmus test of how things will go with colonizing all these new habitable worlds.

If Amos kills Murtry and Holden’s crew takes over the security unit, then I think things will work out ok. Hear that Holden? Unleash Amos!

Other Tidbits:

That scene where one of the scientists is all sad that folks have been trampling through this one ruin, contaminating it with human DNA – that was both funny and sad. As a biologist, I totally understood what they were saying. However, I also know that that minuscule bit of knowledge won’t really matter in the long run.

I want to go to Bobbie’s family’s house for dinner!

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Allie at Tethyan Books
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Heart Strings by Domino Finn

Narrator: Neil Hellegers

Publisher: Blood & Treasure (2016)

Length: 7 hours 26 minutes

Series: Book 3 Black Magic Outlaw

Author’s Page

Note: As Book 3 in this series, it works best if you’ve read the previous books. I wouldn’t recommend reading this as a stand alone.

Cisco Suarez, dead necromancer, and Milena (Cisco’s dead sister’s best friend) team up to take out some serious foes. It doesn’t help that a SWAT team lead by his former best friend Evan Cross is breathing down his neck as well. As the Miami heat rises, so do the stakes. It’s only been 3 weeks since Cisco awoke from his zombie status (Book 1) to find that 10 years of his life had gone by as well as losing his closest family members.

This wasn’t my favorite of the series even though some significant things happen in this book. I think this is because Cisco seems to have a new power every other chapter. I like him complicated and desperate, as he was in Book 1, yet here he’s getting his feet under him (which is good) but he has new skills that give him the upper hand one too many times.

Setting that aside, I really liked that things have gotten messy between him and his friend Evan. The SWAT team is even hunting Cisco! Of course, this means things are strained between Cisco and his ex-girlfriend Emily (who is Evan’s wife now). Fran, Emily’s daughter, also plays an important role in this story, tugging on Cisco’s heart strings.

There’s a covey of magic users that want something Cisco has and one member of the covey (a paper mage) comes pretty close to taking Cisco out more than once. Speaking of that coveted object – the Horn of Subjugation – it comes with the Spaniard, who has glowing red eyes. The Spaniard is easily one of my favorite characters. In some ways he reminds me of an evil-held-in-check Bob the Skull from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

This book pulls in creatures from the Nether and Aether – the Silvans and the Fae. I am still impressed in how Finn keeps tying in various cultures and mythologies. Miami is the perfect place to center this series as it’s so full of people from all over the world. I’m glad to see that he continues to draw on that. A few other mythical beings are tossed in like Throok the Minotaur, mermaids, and a satyr.

All together, it was enjoyable even if I got a little battle fatigue here and there. The big series arc mystery continues to interest me and the ending here left some questions answered while opening up a whole new set of questions. Looking forward to Book 4.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Neil Hellegers continues to impress. Of course, he does Cisco justice in this book once again. As more creatures are pulled into the series, Hellegers has to come up with more unique voices. He certainly rises to that challenge and delivers. Great narration!

What I Liked: Milena is playing a bigger role; the paper mage; complicated friendship with Emily and Evan; the Spaniard!; great narration.

What I Disliked: Cisco conveniently has yet one more skill or power for every situation.