Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRisingWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2014)

Length: 16 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 1 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Set in a far distant future on Mars, Darrow works hard mining below the surface. Mars’s caste system has kept the population, and especially the Reds like Darrow, working hard for a better, brighter future for their children for generations. However, Darrow loses much even as he gains knowledge of the great betrayal perpetrated by the ruling classes. Now he’s determined to up end things, even if it takes becoming what he most despises.

This was an excellent book, one of my favorites of the year so far. It has depth, a brilliant plot, a unique and gripping setting, and characters with teeth. The story is told through Darrow’s eyes. His story arc for this book takes him from hard working family man to accomplished upper-crust warrior. Generations past, those terraforming Mars set up a caste system, complete with color coding. The Reds, which is Darrow’s caste, is the lowest of the castes. The Golds are the rulers of the planet and live in comfort and excess. Initially, Darrow is quite happy to spend his life working hard to provide a better future for the next generation. He has a loving wife Eo who he dotes on. She is the first in the story to hint that there is something more to be had and she encourages Darrow to dream bigger. Then tragedy opens his eyes to the reality and he undergoes a bit of terraforming on his own body and mind in order to infiltrate the Golds and set in motion a long-term plan to up end the caste system. Darrow was a hard man to start with. He had to be in order to be the brilliant, talented Hell Diver he was on the mining crew. What he undergoes by the end of this book chisels him, mind, soul, and body, into an even harder person.

The secondary characters are just as brilliant. Darrow expected all the Golds to be the same but his time at the Institute, a kind of war games training ground for the up and coming Golds, shows him that not all Golds are the same. Alliances must be made in order to dominate the game, but they are playing for keeps and this means there will be serious injuries and even deaths. It’s a brutal sifting to remove the chaff from the grain.

I loved all the references to Roman deities and the use of Roman titles in the military hierarchy. The setting for the war games is little more than Medieval – no indoor plumbing, being hunted by wolves, castles to lay siege to, etc. There are a few bits of cool tech that come into play and there’s references to human colonies on other moons/planets in the solar system. The author does a great job of keeping us focused on Darrow’s circumstances while also hinting at the larger picture.

This book brought out some strong emotions for me, which I always love in a book. Darrow lives through some harrowing things, but he also has to do some heinous things. There are plenty of tough choices for him in this book. Several of the other characters also held my attention, such as Sevro and Pax. Sevro’s family history makes him interesting but then Sevro himself beat the odds against at the Institute, surprising everyone. Cassius is another curious character, capable of great loyalty and true brotherly affection. Yet if he is betrayed, his vengeance can be a game changer. Quinn is a scary, scary woman. I definitely wouldn’t want to cross her. There is also Mustang, who kept her loyalties close to her chest throughout the story.

All  together, it’s a brilliant science fiction setting coupled with the brutality of a tale of the Roman Empire. I very much look forward to reading the next installment.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds did an excellent job with this book. His voice for miner Darrow had a bit of an Irish accent, and accent that the character must dampen as he morphs into a Gold. Reynolds did a great job of portraying this with his voice talents. His character voices for the other characters were each distinct and his female voices were believable. He also did a great job of imbuing Darrow’s voice with emotion. 

What I Liked: Great setting; impressive story arc coupled with Darrow’s character arc; so many  betrayals; unexpected friendships; the war games – brutal!; clever book cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

What Others Think:

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Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

FrostHalwayToTheGraveWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Tavia Gilbert

Publisher: Blackstone Audio,  Inc. (2010)

Length: 11 hours 17 minutes

Series: Book 1 Night Huntress

Author’s Page

Cat Crawfield is half human and half vampire, her mother having been raped by a vampire, which left her pregnant. Cat has hated her vampire side her whole life and started hunting them in her teens, with her mom’s blessing. Now in her early 20s, she’s come across Bones, a vampire bounty hunter. Seems like a great person to team up with, right? Alas, Bones is also a vampire and Cat is torn between her single-minded approach to vampires (stake them and bury them) and her desire to learn more about vampires in order to hunt down her father.

This was a mostly fun paranormal romance. There’s a lot of witty banter, though by the end it was getting predictable. The characters started off interesting but then melodrama set in and I was wobbling about finishing it towards the end. While the romance was a bit silly, the sex scenes were pretty good – steamy and sweet.

Cat has a lot of hang ups which aren’t a big deal at the beginning of the book. Her unusual heritage and her mom’s hatred of vampires drive Cat to excel at her evening past time – going to clubs, luring vampires to secluded spots with the promise of sex, and staking them. She then buries them in the family orchard – vampnure! She had to learn much of what she knows on her own and there’s been no one to train her. So, that’s pretty impressive.

Alas, she has this whiny side. We all have one, and I don’t mind a character sharing a bit of it in a story, but she whined about something the entire book. First, she has no friends because she’s this outcast in a small town since her mother had her out of wedlock. Well, aren’t there other outcasts that you can at least sit around and commiserate with? There’s always other outcasts. So the idea of her never having a single other friend by her early 20s just seemed a bit over done. As the story progresses, she has hangups about her developing friendship and romantic interest in Bones. He’s a vampire and she’s also a bit afraid of sex, having only one other short lived experience. Near the end, it’s all gotten a bit too melodramatic for my tastes and Bones adds his own melodrama over their relationship as well. This was my biggest turn off for the book. I wanted more bad guy butt kicking and burying, more character development, and less angsty weeping heart-on-the-sleeve stuff.

The plot was decent. Bones has been in the bounty hunter business for some time and he’s made some friends and some enemies. Cat has an obvious goal – hunt down her father. Initially, it’s just Cat and Bones doing some training and then some work together. Then Bones introduces her to some of his friends and some frenemies. There’s plenty of action and injuries.

I really liked that we learned some of Bones’s earliest background later in the story and I especially liked that it forced Cat to rethink some of her assumptions about Bones. I think that Bones could be a rather interesting character if he wasn’t all hung up on Cat and her drama.

The ending was OK. The melodrama was a big part of it. But I did like that Cat had to make some hard decisions in order to keep some control over her own life. One of my favorite parts of the book was Bones calling Cat out on her hypocrisy. Since Cat hasn’t had a real friend before this both hurt and was truthful so it was big stepping stone for Cat to see the truth in it and decide what to do with it. I know several people really enjoy this series and I’m on the fence about continuing it. It’s fun in a brainless, just tune out the world sort of way, but the melodrama coupled with the narrator’s voice for Bones… not so hot.

Narration: Tavia Gilbert did a great job with voice of Cat. She sounded like a 22 year old female vampire hunter with a chip on her shoulder. However, I didn’t really like her voice for Bones. He’s suppose to have this English-Australian accent that’s been softened by 200+ years of living wherever he likes. However, her voice for him is over done and not sexy at all, which normally wouldn’t be too important except he is the main love interest in a romance novel. Gilbert did do a great job of imbuing the voices with emotion and I liked her voice for the alcoholic ghost, Winston.

What I Liked: Strong start to the book; Cat has had to teach herself all  of what she knows; Cat has some hangups; Bones is a bounty hunter; Bones’s back story; the butt-kicking and burying of the bad guys; Cat has to make some hard choices.

What I Disliked: So much drama; Cat has a LOT of hangups; Bones joins in the melodrama; the narrator’s voice for Bones.

What Others Think:

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Star-Crossed Book Blog

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Children of the Different by S. C. Flynn

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Stephen Briggs

Publisher: The Hive (2016)

Length: 9 hours 39 minutes

Author’s Page

This post-apocalyptic tale is set in Western Australia. 19 years ago, the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. Now when children enter their adolescence, they go into a trance-like state, entering the Changeland, and may come out of it fairly normal or a bit deranged and prone to cannibalism. Arika and her twin brother Narrah are at that age and their adventures in the Changeland will alter them, and perhaps their small society, forever.

This tale was just a bit different from anything else I have read recently. First, I loved the setting and all the Australian animals that come into play throughout the tale. There’s even stromatolites! From dense forest to dry desert to cityscape to ocean-side village – this story covers a lot of ground. Then we have the Changeland, a place that can only be entered by your spirit through a trance-like state. Everything is warped in the Changeland. Sometimes a person sees images of cities healthy and whole before the Great Madness and sometimes a persons sees things as a they are now, but far, far from where they live. For both Arika and Narrah, they each run into the Anteater, which is like our Coyote trickster of the desert southwest here in the states. His motives aren’t clear until the end of the story, but he uses both charm and threats to set things in motion.

While Arika in undergoing her Change, her brother is out of the village when he comes across Weiran, who used to be part of the village before he went a bit feral after his own Change. Narrah ends up captured by a group of city people and hauled away. Once Arika comes back to reality, she insists on going after him but she has to sneak away to do so. Turah, another childhood friend who now has strange prophetic abilities, goes with her. Both Arika and Narrah will have some harrowing experiences before they are reunited. Once they do, there is the task of taking one of the few remaining military bases in the area! The plot kept me guessing the entire time. There’s a little Mad Max action too when folks take some of the few remaining functional vehicles on the last jog of the story.

This was an exciting story. At times, it was beautiful and strange, and at other times I was biting my nails in anticipation of what would happen to our heroes. The Changeland is an eerie, unpredictable place and adds an unexpected dimension to this post-apocalyptic tale. S. C. Flynn is an author to keep an eye on and see what he comes up with next.

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

The Narration: Stephen Briggs was a great choice for this tale. I loved his Australian accent he did for all the characters (except for the 1 or 2 minor characters who weren’t Australian). He also had this great gritty voice for this character Bowman who doesn’t show up until the second half of the story. Sometimes the volume did wiggle up and down a bit, but not so much I had to turn the volume down or risk ear damage. Over all, a great performance. 

What I Liked: New-to-me settings; the Anteater!; great twist with the Changeland; stromatolites!; such a beautiful book cover; plenty of action; great to have 2 heroes to follow through the tale; great narration.

What I Disliked: Occasionally, the volume dipped a bit for a section, or rose slightly for the next section. Not a big deal, but I did have to turn up the book a handful times.

The Queen of Swords by Alana Melos

MelosTheQueenOfSwordsWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Rebecca Wolfe

Publisher: Alana Melos Erotica (2015)

Length: 2 hours 37 minutes

Series: Book 1 Villainess

Author’s Page

This is a sexy supervillain story set in the fictional metropolis of Imperial City. Caprice (Capricious Whim) is very good at what she does but even she can be bested sometimes. In this tale, she will choose to trade certain favors for info and more. Will her evil plots be thwarted, or merely delayed as she dallies over an evening of pleasure?

This is one of the funnest sexy eroticas I have listened to in some time. I love the supervillain theme with all the costumes, super powers, and characters with loose morals. Caprice herself has the dual powers of telekinesis and telepathy, though each has it’s limits. Couple those powers with her swordsmanship, and you have a formidable foe. She’s not above a little murder and mayhem if it suits her needs or if someone tries to double cross her. I love her practical take on wearing Kevlar when needed and always going armed.

The main plot is pretty straight forward. She meets her ‘work’ associate Michael at a night club and they go meet Harry Sidowski together for this possible job. Michael is a unique villain in that his body has two souls – Michael’s and a vampire’s. After talking with Harry, they team up to take on the job, which they do but Caprice loses her sword and is injured. Later on, she will go on the hunt for her sword and more.

While the plot does move along pretty darn quickly, the author does let us linger over the sex scenes. Most of the scenes are energetic but pretty straight forward – one female, one male, various positions. Yet even though they are basic, they are written very well. In fact, I was surprised steam wasn’t coming off my audio player! There is one domination scene (with Caprice doing the dominating) that was OK for me. Caprice’s character wasn’t as excited about it as the other participant, so there wasn’t as much passion as with the other scenes. I really liked that the men in the story varied in height, weight, physical fitness, etc. Over all, it is a sexy, fun story that involves costumes, sexytimes, and a touch of violence.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author (via Audiobook Boom) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Rebecca Wolfe had the perfect voice for Caprice – certain, determined, sexy. She did a good job with the various male voices as well, keeping them distinct. She never faltered during the sexytimes scenes, sounding enthusiastic and natural. 

What I Liked: Beautiful cover art!; Caprice is a fun, naughty character; costumes and sexytimes – what could be better?

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a lot of fun.

Women Destroy Science Fiction!: Lightspeed Magazine Special Issue edited by Christie Yant

YantWomenDestroyScienceFictionLightspeedMagazineWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Gabrielle de Cuir, Harlan Ellison, Grover Gardner, Jamye Grant, Susan Hanfield, Jonathan L. Howard, John Allen Nelson, Bahni Turpin, Stefan Rudnicki, Molly Underwood, and Judy Young

Publisher: Skyboat Media Inc. (2015)

Length: 15 hours 11 minutes

Editor’s Page   Lightspeed Magazine’s Page

Over the past few years, there has been a series of ‘XXXXX Destroy Science Fiction’ anthologies, but this is the first one I have read. While the title may smack of too much ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’, the anthology was quite balanced with characters of all genders, action and contemplation, mystery and exploration, happy endings and not-so happy endings. Most of the stories had some real meat on them, including several of the flash fiction tales, giving me something to chat about over tea. Some were humorous and some required some thoughtful contemplation afterwards. Over all, it’s an excellent science fiction anthology.

Contained in this audiobook are 11 original short stories, 4 short story reprints, 1 novella, and 15 flash fiction tales. If you pick up the text version, you also get 7 non-fiction pieces, 28 personal essays, and 15 author spotlights. Authors for stories in this audiobook include Charlie Jane Anders, Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Porter Birdsall, Heather Clitheroe, Tina Connolly, Katherine Crighton, Ellen Denham. Tananarive Due, Rhonda Eikamp, Amal El-Mohtar, Emily Fox, Maria Dahvana Headley, Cathy Humble, N. K. Jemisin, Marina J. Lostetter, Seanan McGuire Maureen F. McHugh, Kris Millering, Maria Romasco Moore, Samantha Murray, K. C. Norton, Anaid Perez, Sarah Pinsker, Rhiannon Rasmussen, Holly Schofield, Effie Seiberg, Gabriella Stalker, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Vanessa Torline, Carrie Vaughn, and Kim Winternheimer.

Below are the 11 original stories.

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire

The Navy has modified whole submarine corps of women into ‘mermaids’ to explore and claim the ocean floor for bubble cities and resources. The main character finds something in the deep that she didn’t expect. The narrator did a great job with the elongated vowels and such (sounding like in between ocean animal and human) and keeping each female character distinct. This was my favorite story of the whole book and a great way to start the anthology off. 6/5

A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering

Maurine is an angry artist in space. Her only ‘companion’ is a dead man in the corner. Rather eerie but interesting. Good narration – kept the eerie quality to it. 4/5

Cuts Both Ways by Heather Clitheroe

Spencer is a memory recall specialist. He floats through his memories, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Held in high regard for the work he does but it messes with his personal life. Was OK. Didn’t hold my attention like the first 2. Narration good. 3/5

Walking Awake by N.K. Jemisin

Sadie is a caretaker, helping raise the kids until they are old enough for the Masters to inhabit. Henri, one of her young charges, has been chosen. Abrupt ending. Don’t know if Sadie was successful or just nuts. Narration good tho Sadie sounded a lot younger than 40 years old. 4/5

The Case of the Passionless Bees by Rhonda Eikamp

A Gearlock Holmes & Watson story. There is murder at Gearlock’s mansion and the robotic amalgam Mrs. Hudson is in custody for the murder. Fun piece. Steampunky. Good stiff upper lip narration. 5/5

In the Image of Man by Gabriella Stalker

Set in Houston, TX, Wendell & his parents live in a mall. Big Box stores, and their advertising, dominate Wendell’s life, including church and living quarters. Teen loans are the norm. Very interesting piece on materialism and debt. Narration very good with a light Western twang. 5/5

The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick by Charlie Jane Anders

Roger and Mary broke up. Mary’s friend Stacia convinces her to ask for Roger’s memories of the beginning of their relationship when things were on a high note. Interesting piece. Good  narration. 4/5

Dim Sun by Maria Dahvana Headley

Set in a far future where the Moon is colonized, Bert, a restaurant critic, has told the secret of the dim sun restaurant. Now it’s crowded. Rodney and Bert are having a lunch there when Harriet, Bert’s ex-wife and a powerful politician, joins them. It was a very fun piece – creative dishes. Great narration. 5/5

The Lonely Sea in the Sky by Amal El-Mohtar

Laila is encouraged to talk to the psychologist. She’s an interplanetary geoscientist. She has an ism – addicted to diamonds or the idea of diamonds. This tale explores various stories about diamonds as part of Laila’s fascination. Interesting piece but kind of broken up, not clear in places. Narrated by several people. At least 1 line repeated. The volumes varies, but mostly much quieter than the rest of the book. Main narrator does great with emotions. 3/5

A Burglary, Addressed By a Young Lady by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall

Genevieve’s a thief. She makes her debut burglary and runs into another thief, Catherine. They bond over the difficulties of breaking into the Marquis’s place. Some cool tech. Love the proper British accent and social niceties. 4/5

Canth by K.C. Norton

The Canth is an underwater vessel, part animal, powered by a perpetual motion machine. Capt. Pierce has lost the Canth but pursues her in a ship, the Jeronimo, captained by Rios. Portugues flavor to the story. Cod in every meal. Very interesting story. Narration was good, especially with the Portuguese  words. 5/5

Below are the reprinted stories, including the 1 novella. 

Like Daughter by Tananarive Due

Paige looks after Denise (Neecy) as much a s she can. She often reflects on their childhood and how things were different between them. Now Denise needs her to take her 6 year old daughter. Heavy story. Well done. Good narration. 5/5.

The Great Loneliness by Maria Romasco Moore

A slow apocalypse happened. Now clones of one flavor or another live out their lives in the few pockets of habitable space on Earth. Various groups have sent probes and manned space missions over the years into space searching for another habitable planet. I really like the imagery that was every where in this story- the underwater museum, the main character’s plant-like daughter Verdant, the human’s Eyes, Brain, etc. walking around independently. The narration was great, even a little song. 5/5

Love is the Plan the Plan is Death by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon)

Mogadit has discovered a little one, Lililu, and his teen hormones all at once. Strange, enthralling. Sometimes felt like I was watching animals mating. Stefan Rudnicki narrates and he does it excellently. 4/5

Knapsack Poems by Eleanor Arnason

Strange story. Main character seems to have more than 1 entity and this is the norm. The main character has a scout and a poet and such. It finds a child of some sorts and carries it along falling in love with it. The entities can be more than one gender, but not necessarily so. I don’t get all of it. Rudnicki narrates, doing a good job. 3/5

The Cost to Be Wise by Maureen F. McHugh (novella)

Scarline is a colony on a little populated world. Not much tech. Dogs as sheep – for food. An outworlder, Veranique, comes to visit along with her Professor Ian. Janna, who is an unwed teen of the colony, is fascinated with plastic. Scaffalos is a great clan that visits Scarline for trade, though sometimes they just take what they want. Travesty befalls the colony. Interesting story. A thoughtful, perhaps harsh, ending. Well narrated. 5/5

Below are the 15 original flash fiction stories. 

Salvage by Carrie Vaughn

A spooky ghost ship story with a happy ending.

A Guide to Grief by Emily Fox

Sad story.

See DANGEROUS EARTH-POSSIBLES! by Tina Connolly

Narrator sounds drunk, which isn’t necessarily bad for this story.

A Debt Repaid by Marina J. Lostetter

The 2-headed monster has dual addiction – gambling & drink.

The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced by Sarah Pinsker

Those that suffer from accidental time travel can hang out in an asylum. There’s jello.

#TrainFightTuesday by Vanessa Torline

Fun tail told through tweets. Super heroes/villains. Cute noises to denote switching between tweeters.

The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen

A beautiful story of interstellar kamikazes come home. This was my favorite on the Flash Fiction.

Emoticon by Anaid Perez

:-$

The Mouths by Ellen Denham

Cracker obsessed aliens with only 1 orifice.

M1A by Kim Winternheimer

M1A is her clone there to give her parts as she needs. They grow up as sisters, but she is always sick while her clone is healthy. Poignant story.

Standard Deviant by Holly Schofield

A punkass homeless lass is given the opportunity to become an intergalactic ambassador. Fun story.

Getting on in Years by Cathy Humble

Immortal 800 year old man tired of hiding it. Interesting. Ending up to interpretation.

Ro-Sham-Bot by Effie Seiberg

Robot wants to play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Everything That Has Already Been Said by Samantha Murray

An odd duck of a story.

The Lies We Tell Our Children by Katherine Crighton

She tells her daughters about space and what that means. They become sad. Very nice sadly sweet story.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the publisher (via Audiobook Jukebox) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Nearly all of the narration was well done for this anthology. There was one story with more than 1 narrator and it definitely sounded like the narrators were in different studios, not recorded at the same time. However, the  majority of the narration was excellent. I especially like seeing Stefan Rudnicki’s abilities tested in the James Tiptree story.  

What I Liked: Such a variety of SF – horror, steampunk, time travel, romance, exploration, etc.; it was great to have so many narrators for this anthology, which helped keep each story distinct;  beautiful  cover art.

What I Disliked: The title does make me chuckle a little.

What Others Think:

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Adventures in SciFi Publishing

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

AndrewsOnTheEdgeWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Renée Raudman

Publisher: Tantor Audio (201o)

Length: 12 hours 8 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Edge

Author’s Page

There’s the Broken (with big box stores, vehicles, and the IRS), there’s the Weird (with nobility, magic, and a strict hierarchy), and then there’s the Edge where those that are a bit of both reside. Rose Drayton and her young brothers live in the Edge: Rose works as a cleaner in the Broken while the boys go to school. Then Declan Carmine shows up from the Weird putting Rose to a challenge even while they deal with strange creatures turning up in the Edge. All sorts of sparks fly as Rose is pushed to her max magical abilities, Declan’s patience is tested half a dozen ways, and the Edge residents will either stand together or fall prey to these creatures.

This was a very fun book. I really liked the world building, even though it was pretty straight forward once laid out. The Edge is a place without a law presence, so family ties and alliances usually work as the backbone for solving grievances. I especially like how guns are treated as a necessity in the Edge and not toys nor for sport. Rose has trained her brothers to respect guns at all times which I really appreciated. Some few folks in the Broken know about Edgers and they know they can exploit them, such as Rose’s boss paying her under the table and demanding crazy work hours. We learn some little about the Weird through Declan later in the book and I hope the Weird is explored much more in later books in this series.

Much of the story is told through Rose’s eyes and she’s only experienced the Edge and the Broken. Her parents aren’t in the picture so she has had to work extra hard to keep the boys clothed, fed, happy, and in school. Her grandmother lives nearby but Rose has her pride and will only accept so much help. Her strong magic has made her a target in the Edge, where the only law is that which the residents apply through might. We learn in little snippets throughout the story why she is so distrusting of nearly everyone. Being hunted, kidnapped, tricked, and trapped for your magic tends to make one a little skittish.

Declan also has his secrets and traumas. He was interesting to begin with – from the Weird, of noble birth, and what brings him to the Edge is a bit of an unknown. At first, Rose is very concerned about her brothers’s safety around him, but once he saves them once or twice, she starts to wonder if it is possible for him to be of noble character as well as birth. Declan has quite the history, some of which comes into play in this story, but I did find that his Supper Commando background was a  little over kill and really wasn’t necessary to keep me interested in his story arc. Through him, we learn some interesting things about the Weird – such as how differently shape shifters are treated there versus the Edge. At times I felt that poor Declan as suffering from culture shock, which made him more human and endearing.

Jack and George, Rose’s two brothers, are my second favorite characters. OK, maybe they come before Declan. They were very well written as each has their own challenge in life, and at a young age! At first, we aren’t too sure what’s going on with either of them. Jack is always distracted by shiny or flittery things. Meanwhile, George seems to have such a big heart that any little deceased critter nearly makes him cry. As the story unfolds, we learn more about each and their challenges seem scary, cool, and a little sad all at the same time. Rose is doing the best with the knowledge she has, but luckily Declan has forced himself into their lives. He has some insights that might prove key to lightening the load for each of the boys. There’s several side characters that shine out as well: William, a stranger new to town that also has an interest in comic books; a neighbor’s daft granma and her teddy bear collection; the resident pretty boy/bully; Rose’s coworker in the Broken. All together, it’s a very interesting cast.

The plot was riveting. We have this intriguing world, these fascinating characters, and now the author gives them all a potentially devastating foe! Of course, our heroes Rose and Declan don’t know at first this is truly what they are up against. There’s some random monsters lurking about the forests of the Edge, and at first folks are able to deal with them on their own. But when the bodies start showing up, and Rose gets a direct threat from the person behind it, that’s when the Edgers start to consider coming together to defeat this intruder. The story builds and builds until we get a big fight at the end that takes more than just Rose or Declan to win. It was impressive!

Sadly, there is only one sex scene in this book. Now it is a hot sex scene, even if it is short lived. It was fueled by the possibility that their little part of the world would end, so it was firey and desperate.

All together, this was a fun urban fantasy romance and I look forward to enjoying more Ilona Andrews novels. I hear the Kate Daniels series is especially good.

Narration: I liked Renée Raudman’s performance for this book. She was great with Rose’s voice and I really liked her kid voices for Jack and Georgie, though I did sometimes get them confused. She had a hard edge of masculinity for Declan, especially when he was being a bit of a stuffed shirt.

What I Liked: The world building; Rose has taken on so much at a young age; Jack and George have to be adult about many things; Declan and his protective manner; the mystery behind the intruder; great side characters; the epic fight at the end.  

What I Disliked: Declan’s über warrior part is a little over done – it wasn’t necessary for me to be interested in his character.

What Others Think:

On Starships & Dragonwings

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Dear Author

Dust by Arthur Slade

SladeDustWhere I Got It: Gifted a copy

Narrator: Arthur Slade

Publisher: Arthur Slade (2016)

Length: 4 hours 13 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in a dry, dusty  Canadian town during the Depression Era, young Robert Steelgate is missing his young brother Matthew. Yet the disturbing thing is that he seems to be the only person missing him. A stranger comes to town promising rain and that is the same time kids start disappearing. Coincidence, or not?

This book was like a really good episode of The Twilight Zone. Things start off so plain, so dried out, so matter-of-fact. Then young Matthew, who insisted he be allowed to walk to town that day (instead of riding in the cart with his mom), meets a pale stranger (Abram Harisch) on the road. Meanwhile, Robert is left at home to read his science fiction story (The Warlock of Mars) that his uncle lent him. Reluctantly, Robert sets his book aside to see to the chickens like he promised only to find some scared chickens and some nasty blood eggs. Yuck! That’s when Sargent Ramson and Officer Davies show up to take Robert to town to be with his family as they begin the search for Matthew.

With a blend of historical fiction, mystery, and science fiction, the author spins a tale of a town hoping too hard for good rains, of good people willing to let their memories of lost children slip from them, and of how one boy with a strong, questioning imagination may be the only one to save them. Quite frankly, it was those scared chickens and their blood eggs that sucked me into the story. It was spooky and yet the biologist in me wanted an egg to examine. But I couldn’t have one of those eggs, but I could examine this story. From there, I wasn’t disappointed.

Abram with the odd eyes (I think he’s an albino) sets up a movie screen and the town gathers to see the attraction. Once the stranger has gained some small amount of trust with the town, he starts setting in his motion his bigger plan: promise the rains & happiness, take their wealth & memories, keep his end of the bargain with an unknown entity (which means more children disappear). At one point, Abram confides a bit in Robert because Robert has this innate ability to see through Abram’s charms. That was an eerie scene!

The ending reveals the master plan of Abram while also keeping some things up to the reader to decide. I liked that there was a little mystery left over at the end. We have everything resolved that counts, but the exact how and why of it may never be fully understood. Also, there is some wonderful imagery involving butterflies and moths. It’s a recurring small touch that kept me hooked. I was quite pleased with the ending. Not everything ended in rainbows but enough did for me to say it was a happy ending for our main character, Robert.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author with no strings attached.

Narration: Arthur Slade was pretty good as a narrator for this story. He had distinct voices for each person and decent female voices. I especially liked his voice for Robert’s uncle who was always giving him SFF books that his mom might not approve of.

What I Liked: Depression-Era small town Canada; the promise of rain; the mystery of the stranger;  the imagery of the butterflies and moths;  SFF keeps your mind on alert to trickery – that’s the moral of the story; good solid ending that left me feeling good – evil  was thwarted once again!; great cover!

What I Disliked: Nothing – an interesting story.

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