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:

Dear Author

Love Vampires

Star-Crossed Book Blog

SF Site

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Rissa Blakeley, Author of the Shattered Lives Series

BlakeleyBrokenDreamsFolks, please welcome author Rissa Blakeley to the blog. Get ready for a lively interview that includes The Christmas Story, Black Dagger Brotherhood, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

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

Worst job was retail. I started working at Lerner NY when I was fifteen. I don’t even think it’s called that anymore so I think I’m showing my age a bit! Anyway, I was working there maybe a week or so and the district manager came in. As I was adjusting some racks in the leather coats area, she came over and yelled loudly … Never turn your back on the door! Then she stormed away chapping to another employee about me…and my back to the door. -shrugs- How does this compare to writing? I’m my own boss. I can turn my back to the door anytime I want to.

If you were trapped in your post-apocalyptic world, the Shattered Lives series, which 4 other post-apocalyptic authors would you take with you?

I think putting four PA authors together could be dangerous! Writer’s are already a special kind of crazy. Then add four together who may or may not look at you like you’re the rogue or the one who was about to run away or even the one who would sacrifice the good of the group to survive… Maybe we should have a post-apocalyptic author, a romance author, a fantasy author, and a nonfiction author. Someone needs to keep it light, adventurous, and we would need someone to document everything.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Sarcasm used as main form of communication.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was quiet and shy, then overcompensated until I figured out who I was. Now, I’ve just been growing as that person. I didn’t see myself as a writer at all. I wanted the usual things – doctor, lawyer, teacher. Things changed drastically in my life in 2004 and here I am today, living completely different than I thought I would.

BlakeleyTheKing'sFateIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Hmmm good question. I’m not a social butterfly so I’ll go small. Let’s start with Vishous and Rhage from Black Dagger Brotherhood.

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?

Nothing too crazy yet. I’m not sure how I would react. I may be just as excited as them.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

It’s not really a debate or an argument, but my mother and I have had this long time ‘feud’. She hates the movie The Christmas Story. I dislike pink flamingo decor. So we are forever sending each other stuff. Most recently, I filled her birthday card with TCS stickers. I have been known to wrap her gifts in TCS paper. I send my father TCS stuff so she can’t throw it away. One year for his birthday, I bought him a huge Ralphie in the Pink Nightmare bunny outfit ornament. He thinks it’s hilarious, my mother just thinks of revenge.

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

In October, I will be signing at the Carolina Book Fest in Charlotte. It’s a great event and I’m excited to be part of it again this year. As of right now, I don’t have any more release dates set. Soon. I think after this next read through of Full Circle (Shattered Lives, Book Five), I will have a better idea. The second book in the Corvidae Guard series, The King’s Destiny, will be written once I’ve sent Full Circle off to my betas. I do have an amazing thing happening in fall. I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Keep your eyes open!

Places to Find Rissa Blakeley

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Instagram

BlakeleyBrokenDreamsBook Blurb for Broken Dreams (Shattered Lives #1): Elaina Cooper’s world was turned upside down on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. She was about to marry Henry Daniels, the man of her dreams — or so she thought. Just as she was to walk down the aisle, screams pierced the air.

In the days that followed, questions lingered in Elaina’s mind. Why did Henry seem to know so much about what was happening? And why did she feel like he was keeping secrets from her? Henry knew that his haunted past would eventually catch up to him…in more ways than one. Through all of this, he must face his demons, and Elaina must decide whether she can accept who he is. Henry is determined to fight to the very end to make their sexy, mercurial relationship work no matter what staggers in their path.

Along with their ragtag band of survivors, they must travel south to face Henry’s fears. There will be joys and loss but, in the end, is love enough to hold them together?

BlakeleyTheKing'sFateBook Blurb for The King’s Fate (Corvidae Guard #1): In a world where Fae and Vampire will forever be at odds, a Vampire wins the crown, ruling the Fae Realm for the first time in history.

An Incubus, Leolin Kyffin, and his barren Succubus, Louise Bach, plot to end King Zachariah Orsova’s life, allowing them to rule the Fae Realm.

Through Louise’s encouragement, Leolin walks into a female Vampire’s dream and mates with her, breaking Zachariah’s law. His hope is to create what he thinks will be the most powerful half-breed known to the Realm.

When Zachariah kills the Succubus, Leolin vows revenge, sacrificing his half-breed son, Monty Saxon, and using him as a pawn to tear out the King’s heart, hoping to make him feel the pain of death while living.

When Leolin walks into Zachariah’s dreams, he fills his mind with unimaginable thoughts and desires. Doing the same to Monty, he secures his devious plot, patiently waiting for the precise moment Zachariah and Monty will be brought together as one.

The choices Leolin makes all add up to delivering a fate worse than death to his half-breed son and the King of the Fae Realm. Will Leolin avenge the murder of Louise? Will Zachariah and Monty survive, or will they be left suffering in the end?

GIVEAWAY!!!

I’m so excited to have Rissa here on my blog that I’m  giving away 1 ebook of Rissa’s works (winner’s choice). Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have a memorable or on-going geeky argument? 2) Please leave a way to contact you. Giveaway is open internationally. Ends September 25th, 2016, midnight.

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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.

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

Black Girl Nerds

Book Binge

The Book Smugglers

Love Vampires

Dear Author

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

ButcherSkinGameWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2014)

Length: 15 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 15 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

At the end of the previous book, Cold Days, there was some game changers that came out in that nudity fight. The biggest one for me was that Molly became the new, and youngest, Lady Winter. Mab was supremely happy with that and is enjoying training Molly up. Harry has been stuck on Demon Reach island because he has this parasite in his head that is nearly ready to pop – which means his head would explode. Messy! But the power of Demon Reach can keep it under wraps for a while until Molly can show up and help remove it. So Harry has been working on all his physical and magical skills, running through the underground Prison of Nasty Badasses yelling ‘Parkour!’ as he leaps over obstacles and careens around corners.

Mab shows up and she has traded Harry’s skills in order to pay off a debt; Harry will have to assist his arch nemesis Nicodemus Nickelhead in a vault heist. Harry isn’t happy about this, but on the surface it doesn’t sound particularly hard. But this wouldn’t be a Dresden Files book if things weren’t difficult, right? Nicodemus plans to steal a powerful religious artifact right out of the vault of Hades in the Underworld. To do that, he has to first break into the highest security vault on Earth to match a Way into the Nevernever that corresponds with Hades’s vault. It’s going to be a mess!

The good, the bad, and the shaggy will team up in this crazy and deadly effort. Harry wants to bring along Karrin Murphy. Nicodemus brings along his daughter, who also has one of the demon-possessed coins. A variety of other folks join in, a few of which we have seen in previous books. Some are on the fence when it comes to good versus evil and Harry is expecting a lot of double crossing. Out of this crew, Mr. Grey was the most interesting to me. Throughout the entire book, I wasn’t sure what side of the line he would eventually land on. Indeed, he had my fooled more than once. There’s also a pretty cool reveal about his origins at the end of the book.

There is one sex scene in the book and it is smoking hot! It’s been some time since Butcher included such a scene in this series. It’s definitely worthy. Ach! There’s plenty I want to say about the characters involved, but that would be spoilery. Trust me, it’s worthy and yet there is definitely more to be done between these two.

The action is well spaced out with sneaky alliances, reuniting of friends, and hashing out hurt feelings. Waldo Butters is especially distraught over how Harry has treated his friends these past several years. Indeed, Harry has been through quite a bit, but Waldo does a great job of pointing out how Harry hasn’t really stopped to look at things from another point of view. Harry has had increasingly less contact with those outside the Fae and he’s started thinking too often like one of the Fae court, trading favors and owing debts. Plus he has this whole Winter Knight mantel toying with him – his thoughts are more predatory towards everyone, even if the reasons differ. The Fae code of favors and debts seems to help Harry hold the Winter Knight instincts in check, though this doesn’t excuse the hurt he’s caused his friends.

Once Nicodemus and crew make it into the Underworld, there are multiple gates to be defeated before they can get to the vault. Hades and his minions are a real concern and things get pretty dicey. I really enjoyed Hades’s dog Cerberus. Butcher is excellent at tossing in a little humor at the tensest of moments to have me laughing and biting my nails at the same time!

Michael Carpenter also plays a role in this book. I won’t share too much, just know that it is worthy. Also, because Michael is involved, Harry has to face the fact that he has spent almost no time with his daughter. All his friends want him to correct that. It’s a difficult thing for Harry as he wants to protect her and having an active relationship with her may well put her in danger.

The ending was pretty darn good (though I have one criticism I will get to in a moment). We have a surprise hero which I did not see coming! It was well done and I even did a little fist pump in joy when I got to this point. My criticism is with a flashback that Harry has at the end of the book that pertains to some of his actions at the beginning of the book. Since this entire tale is told through Harry’s eyes, it stood out as a weak plot device. The only time in the 15 books that we haven’t lived through all of Harry’s doings as they happen was that one time he ordered Molly to erase a chunk of his memory. So leaving something out that definitely affects the out come later and revealing it at the end of the book was clunky. However, that quibble is definitely small in comparison to my enormous enjoyment with this latest book in the series. As usual, Butcher wraps up the main points but leaves enough open for the next book in the series to build upon.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do this series justice with this latest installment in the series. I like how Harry’s voice has aged a little over the span of the series. I liked his confident Molly and his ticked off Waldo and his still supportive Michael. I thoroughly enjoyed his voice for Hades, especially when Hades talks about his dog.

What I Liked: Big stuff happens in a vault heist; Mab brooks no argument from Harry; lots of fun characters (both good and bad) return in this book to join the adventure; Waldo Butters points out how Harry hasn’t been the best of friends in the past few years; Mr. Grey is a very interesting addition; that lovely sex scene; Hades vault; the final show down.

What I Disliked: There was a flashback/reveal scene near the end that stood out as clunky.

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Critic

The Hysterical Hamster

Fantasy Book Review

The Book Bag

SFF World

S. Krishna’s Books

Dial H for Houston

Cannonball Read 8

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Vicky Loebel, Author of Key to the Coven

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadEveryone, please give a warm welcome to Vicky Loebel! We chat about Wodehouse, spaceships, defying certain death, and plenty more! Don’t forget to check out the audiobook giveaway (available to Audible.com and Audible.UK account holders) below!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

If this is fiction, the person who rescues me from certain death is going to be (a slimmer, braver version of) me. But I’d love to have Spiderman, the ghost (Gaspar) from my book Speakeasy Dead, and Harry Dresden on my side. If this is reality and the jaws of a death look anything like a centipede, my superhero husband gets the job.

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

Anyone who knows me will rat me out as a huge fan of the 2015 Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie. I got my writing start by creating fanfiction based on the original TV series, and seeing the essence of the show captured on the big screen was a dream come true.  As far as books, if I could erase them from my mind every few years, I might not read anything but P.G. Wodehouse.

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

Writing is both the hardest and the best job because I spend every day confronting my best and worst qualities. Oh wait, I meant parenting is the hardest job. No, writing. Wait….

LoebelKeysToTheCovenWhat book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series made into any sort of game. The beauty of her books is that you can pick any of the characters and step right into their skin. So while everyone else was fighting to be Cordelia, Miles, and Ekatarin, I’d nip in as Ivan for the win.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Anything you say may be used against you in a work of fiction. And you’ll never even know.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I never wanted to tell stories. I wanted to live them – preferably as either an astronaut or an international spy, preferably riding a spunky American quarter horse. Eventually I accepted the fact that if I wanted adventures, I’d have to write them.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Alexander Dumas (Three Musketeers),  Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice/no zombies), Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey/Maturin series), and P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster). Jim Butcher is alive and I can’t really justify altering that to get him to my dinner table, so for the fifth author I’ll invite Sir Terry Pratchett whose audiobooks have brought me hours and hours of pleasure. Since I have no idea what any of them eats, I’ll arrange a big Tapas party where we cook dishes together in my imaginary gourmet kitchen.

LoebelVacationBrideCare 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?

I once had the distinction of attending a science fiction convention and making small talk in an elevator by asking guest of honor Octavia Butler if she was there for the con. Yes, I loved her books. No, I had no idea what she looked like. She smiled graciously and said yes.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Where does Spiderman hang his webs when he swings down the street? Do slow zombies pose a threat to anyone who’s not too stupid to live? And why would you hide a perfectly good spaceship under water? Couldn’t you hide it in space?

Places to Stalk Vicky Loebel

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Book Blurb for Keys to the Coven:

LoebelKeysToTheCovenThe Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions. Get ready for Keys to the Coven, a witty, tightly plotted, (adult) urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it’s not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.*

To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test with flying colors and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now Max has been given the job of breaking a young witch’s family curse. But what she doesn’t know, what Max can’t bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.

When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother’s coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity’s only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth risking her soul with another?

Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He’s purchased hundreds of souls, and he’s created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.

Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity’s mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity’s mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky’s power as an arch-demon is about to end.

No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he’ll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell. But then, why break promises when they’re so easy to corrupt?

GIVEAWAY!!!

Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Keys to the Coven! The audiobook is available through both Audible.com and Audible.UK. To enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1)  Do you have either an Audible.com or an Audible.UK account?  2) Do you have an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends September 9th, 2016.

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Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

Tofu is not bothered by bugs or books.

Tofu is not bothered by bugs or books.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Lauren Fortgang

Publisher: Audible Studios (2010)

Length: 11 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 1 Elemental Assassin

Author’s Page

Gin Blanco is a stone elemental and an assassin known as the Spider. She also works part time at the Pork Pit in Ashland, at the junction of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. A job goes south when she discovers she has been set up and now an air elemental is after her, along with the local police. With her handler dead and her base of operations currently unsafe, her resources are limited. However, she does gain a temporary ally – Detective Donovan Caine. The stage is set for Gin to fail spectacularly – and she knows it. The knowledge that the cards are stacked against her won’t stop her from taking out those that set her up.

This was a fun addition to the urban fantasy genre! I liked that it was more action and character development than romance, though there is a touch of that sprinkled in here. The story starts off in a mental health asylum. Gin is there undercover as that is the only feasible way of getting to her target. I had a lot of fun with this opening as it was not what I was expecting. Gin’s limited morals make her an interesting character right from the start. I like that she doesn’t go all emo when it comes to killing people. She’s already figured out what her limits are and where the lines are drawn for her in the matter of killing humans.

Her adoptive family trained her and now act as her partners in the business. Fletcher Lane is her handler, setting up the jobs and keeping her from direct contact with those that require her services. Fletcher’s son, Finn, is really good with documents and can make nearly anything that Gin might need for her jobs. They’ve been working together for years, and with the Pork Pit as their base of operations, they have a really good thing going. That is until someone set’s the Spider up for assassination herself.

So I wasn’t expecting things to get personal for Gin in the first book, with her adoptive family targeted along with her. That made this story much more exciting! As the injuries occur and the body count increases, we meet other magical misfits that have worked with Gin and her family for years. Jojo is a Dwarf beautician and a healer. Gin definitely needs access to a healer. Regularly. Sometimes desperately. Jojo’s Goth sister, Sophia, is good at disposing of bodies; another must for the assassination business.  I really enjoyed Sophia and her usually monosyllable responses to queries. The image of a grunting, aloof Goth Sophia is awesome!

Then we have the problem of Donovan Caine. He’s a straight arrow detective and he has a personal beef with the Spider; his partner was killed several months back by the Spider and now he wants this assassin behind bars or dead. Yet Gin saved his life even as she was busy taking out targets that were there to set her up. So now he owes her and agrees to help her on this one case. Pretty soon it becomes clear there is an undercurrent of attraction between the two, even if it is an unwelcome distraction for Gin and an undeniable fact for Detective Caine. Gin had very good reasons for killing Donovan’s partner but she holds off on telling him. After all, she doesn’t have to defend her actions to this detective! Part of me wants Donovan to ask and learn all the facts and part of me wanted Donovan to figure it out on his own – he’s a detective after all! This situation added a delicious dollop of tension to the book.

In the end, I really enjoyed this story. It was a fun mix of magic and mystery. The romance was an undercurrent and didn’t become the main feature – which is just how I like it! Gin is a very interesting character that already has a strong sense of who she is and what she will and will not do. I liked that we learned some keys things about her past but the book wasn’t flooded with flashbacks. Over all, a most enjoyable urban fantasy romp!

I won a physical copy of this book from AudioGals (thanks!). As always, my opinion is my own.

Narration: Lauren Fortgang was great with her southern twang for the Spider. She had distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices were masculine. She did read the one sex scene in a kind of monotone, like she was bored with it, but that is my only criticism.

What I Liked: Gin is already a well-molded character; she’s an assassin; the elemental magic is fun; her adoptive family and friends mean much to Gin; things are complicated with Detective Caine; this is definitely more urban fantasy than romance.

What I Disliked: The sex scene was narrated in a monotone – was the narrator bored with it?

What Others Think:

AudioGals

Books That Hook

She-Wolf Reads

Fantasy Book Critic

The Book Smugglers