Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction & Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Wicked Run Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 29 minutes

Editor’s Page

This anthology focuses on addiction, mostly drug and alcohol addiction. They range from science fiction to horror to the paranormal. The editor opens with a short foreword about addiction and his hopes that this anthology will provide some insight into the struggle of addicts and hopefully bring about some compassion for those suffering from addiction. Even if this anthology doesn’t do that for you, it’s still quite entertaining, insightful, riveting, sometimes disgusting, usually disturbing, and chock full of examples of bad decisions made.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Melinda and this guy, our unnamed narrator of this story, meet at a bar. They go back to her place and have sex, sort of. Then he wakes up out in the street being drowned in a rainwater puddle. A specter of Steven Carver, his former AA sponsor, reminds him of his failures. The timeline jumps around a little as our alcohol-sodden character tries to muddle through the night. What’s real, what’s not? What’s in the present and what’s in the past? This tale did a great job of showing the inner confusion of someone deep in the clutches of alcoholism. There’s this scene where this guy is burying his daughter’s dead cat and he cries, not for the cat, not for his daughter, but for himself and stuff that happened during his own childhood. This scene really brought home how this character has so much stuff that’s left unresolved in his life. 5/5

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

Set in a future 2080s Patterson Park in Baltimore, the new drug of choice is Atlas. Heavy users like to inject it directly into their genitals, giving them a long-lasting incredible high. Perry Samson is still obsessed with his ex-wife Serina. He watches her from afar and thinks of her when he masturbates. He needs another high but his junkie friend Loshi thinks it’s high time Perry be the one to score and share. The author shows us the keen edge of depravity in this story. The Atlas junkies are willing to sell their flesh for a hit and some cash. Meanwhile, the rich who can afford the delicacy of well prepared human meat enjoy it in swanky restaurants. It reminded me of high school and college students who would sell plasma to go buy some pot. This was my favorite story in the bunch easily. I love the future SF setting (there’s TVs spread throughout the park showing The Wire reruns with all the hopeful scenes cut out) and yet we still have this drug culture, one in which there’s those who suffer and those who profit from it. 6/5

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

Terra Snyder is in Narcotics Anonymous, living with her parents and trying to get her life back together. Then her former boyfriend Brett unexpectedly shows up. He’s in the Work Release Program while in prison. Against her better judgement, she goes with him to Russell’s place where they used to buy their drugs and hangout. The author shows us step by step how easy it is for someone to be roped back into the users lifestyle. The point of view bounces back and forth from Terra to her dad Gregory throughout the story. Gregory, Heather, and their daughter Terra (somewhat reluctantly) have been working on this urban farm in the middle of Detroit. Heather is one of those always upbeat, optimistic types who would never give up on her kid. Gregory, while not a perpetual optimist, would do anything to keep his daughter safe. This tale really showed how the blame game turns into an excuse to either shuck responsibility for past bad deeds or to commit more bad deeds. 5/5

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This bit of flash fiction dealt with a different kind of addiction, but I feel the spirit of it (exploring a new-to-you high) could be applied to any new addiction. Julia, 39, went to a party, buzz wearing off, so she’s looking to try something new. This guy Toussaint bites off the tip of his pinky finger. Julia thinks it’s a trick. However, as the week goes on Julia notices bits missing from her friends. This little horror flick ended a bit too soon for me. I felt there was more for Julia to tell us. 4/5

Last Call by John FD Taff

Ted is in AA but he keeps falling off the wagon, going from group to group. His sponsor Sam reluctantly sends him to a liquor store with a special card, telling him to ask for the last bottle he will ever need. The store owner gives him a little lecture about choosing life or death. The unlabeled bottle is referred to as a shortcut, which I thought was a great way to show later on that there is no shortcut when it comes to dealing with addiction. The story leaps forward 5 years here, 10 years there, etc., showing how Ted’s life has changed and yet how this shortcut bottle is still tucked away, hiding in his closet. The ending is left dangling and I would have liked a line or two to close it out. It would have made the story more poignant or hopeful depending on how things ended. 4/5

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is headed from Phoenix to Aurora, IL to hunt down her long-lost father, Desmond Gabriel. She can see demons and her online paranormal activities, where she goes by Jenny Halloween, have finally given her a hint as to where her father is. Her father, a homeless man, was mentioned on a paranormal chat site, Torment of the Fallen. She meets a short man that goes by Cheddar near the supposedly haunted house where her father sometimes crashes. I enjoyed this story because it had that urban fantasy feel to it where demons were being investigated and a lost person would be found, hopefully. If this story wasn’t in an anthology that focused on addiction, I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on those elements of the story. I hope we see more of Jenny Halloween in the future. 5/5

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III

Jeremy, 26, is bleeding from his urethra. Perhaps the hepatitis is getting to him though he asks his lover Eliza if she bit him. He hasn’t told her about his hepatitis yet. At work, it gets worse so he goes to a clinic where he runs into Nick, a former junkie friend. He has one confrontation after another and things get worse and worse for him. Let me just whisper it to you – spiders. Yep. This was easily the most creeptastic and scary story of the anthology! I don’t even have a penis or hepatitis and it made me shudder. 5/5

Returns by Jack Ketchum

In this short tale, Jill Hunt’s husband’s spirit returns from the dead. She’s been drinking since he was run over by a cab. He thinks he’s returned to help Jill get past his death and not succumb to alcoholism. She can see and hear him but she thinks it’s all in her head. This little story was rather sad as it involved a pet and this failed relationship. I felt that things were left a bit unresolved as I wanted to know what ultimately happened to Jill or her husband’s spirit. 4/5

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job with this anthology. There was a lot of ground to cover, that’s for sure! His female voices were pretty good. Melinda and Terra sounded like women. For the most part, he had distinct characters though in the story Garden of Fiends he occasionally sounded a bit mechanical and the characters weren’t distinct (I had to follow closely the dialogue between Brett and Terra to keep straight who said what). In the entire book, I only caught a single mispronounced word – conflagration. It just happens to be one of my favorite words and that’s why the butchering of it stood out. The pacing and volume were all well done. Over all, a well-done narration.

What I Liked: The variety of substances abused; the different genres; the various tones; spiders!; genital drugs!; great cover art; pretty good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing, it was an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining anthology.

What Others Think:

Grim Reader Reviews

Horror After Dark

The Horror Bookshelf

Horror Novel Reviews

Book Den

Lee Murray

Bark’s Book Nonsense

Bookish Giveaway & Review: Hound’s Bite by E. J. Stevens

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrators: Melanie A. Mason, Anthony A. Bowling

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press (2017)

Length: 7 hours

Series: Book 5 Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 5 in the series, I feel that one could enjoy it as a stand alone.

Ivy Granger has returned from the Unseelie Faerie Court after learning some earth-shattering news about her parentage. But there’s no time to rest and deal with that because the Lord of the Hunt is about to hit Harborsmouth. She must call upon her allies, her latest training, and her friends to combat the Wild Hunt or suffer the loss of her beloved city.

This was a gripping read! I really enjoyed this installment in the series. First, there’s the great characters and they’re all written so well in this book, with great lines and actions that give them depth. Then there’s more than one crisis Ivy has to deal with, so it’s not just one long meandering battle with the Wild Hunt. Lastly, there are consequences and some of them are a bit rough. I like it when my urban fantasy drags talons across some of the major characters.

Jinx is still a big part of Ivy’s life and I’m very glad these two friends were able to deal with their recent falling out. And, yes, Jinx still has her crossbow. She and Forneus (who is a demon and a lawyer) are still together. Then there’s Torn, the cat sidhe, who flirts with both Ivy and Jinx, which really irritates both Forneus and Ceff (Ivy’s kelpie lord boyfriend). Then toss in Sparky, Ivy’s adopted demon child. Father Michael gets called in to babysit while the heroes work on a game plan to deal with Hearn, Lord of the Hunt.

Yet before they get too far along, Sparky goes missing. Now a powerful witch, Kaye, has a plan to save Harborsmouth from the Wild Hunt but things are going disastrously wrong there. Ivy and her friends will need the help of the mysterious Circle before they can regroup and get back to dealing with Hearn. I loved this part of the book. It was a bit of a detour from the big event but I really enjoyed how it added to several of the characters. Ariadne, a witchling who is in training to Kaye, really gets to be in the spotlight for part of it. Then there’s Ivy’s new Faerie and Wisp powers to put on display. Also the beetles! The next time I get something stuck in my throat, I will be looking for beetles.

So then we get past that and allies must be gathered for the big fight. Now the thing about the Wild Hunt is that if a hound of the Wild Hunt bites you, you turn into a hound yourself and you’re bound to serve the Lord of the Hunt. Armor! Bring me my armor! Obviously, things don’t go well for everyone involved and Ivy faces the very real danger of losing people she loves to the Wild Hunt.

I was very satisfied with the ending. Not everyone got everything they wanted but there’s still enough good stuff that people can pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. I especially like how far the Pooka came in this series, despite their choice of condom hats.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Once again, Melanie Mason narrates the bulk of this story, being the perfect voice for Ivy. I also love her Jinx voice. Anthony Bowling has all the male character lines and he does a great job with Torn (a flirtatious snot) and Father Michael (a sincere man). Most of the time, Bowling’s lines are inserted smoothly into the recording but other times it definitely felt like these two narrators weren’t in the same room during the recording. There were a few sound effects mixed in, and for the most part they worked. There were a few that I wasn’t sure what they were until the story told me what they were.

What I Liked: Great cover art; no rest for the wicked or the good; the segment dealing with Sparky’s abduction; the beetles!; the very real consequences of being bitten by a Hound; the Pookas; the way things ended.

What I Disliked: I would like the audio production to be a touch smoother, but this is a minor quibble and didn’t detour me from enjoying this book.

Synopsis of Hound’s Bite:

Ivy Granger thought she left the worst of Mab’s creations behind when she escaped Faerie. She thought wrong.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ivy has unleashed a powerful horde of Unseelie beasts upon her city, turning her homecoming into a potential slaughter of innocents. Now Ivy must gather her allies to fight a reputedly unstoppable force – The Wild Hunt.

Will the training Ivy received in her father’s court be enough to save her city, or will Harborsmouth be forced to kneel before the Lord of the Hunt? She is willing to risk her own life, but some sacrifices come at a cost worse than death. When an ally is bitten by one of The Wild Hunt’s hounds, Ivy must face the possibility that winning this battle may mean killing the one person she has come to love most.

Hound’s Bite is the fifth full-length novel in the award-winning, best-selling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens. The world of Ivy Granger, including the Ivy Granger Psychic Detective series and Hunters’ Guild series, is filled with action, mystery, magic, dark humor, quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, flirtatious demons, sarcastic gargoyles, sexy shifters, temperamental witches, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

Audible ~ Amazon

Author Info

E.J. Stevens is the author of fourteen works of speculative fiction, including the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys teaching writing workshops, dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and on her Blog.

GIVEAWAY!!!

To celebrate the Hound’s Bite audiobook release and Audiobook Month, we are giving away a HUGE Ivy Granger Prize Pack, including an Ivy Granger button, pen, flashlight keychain, custom earbuds, a Hound’s Bite mini poster signed by the author, and a Passport to the World of Ivy Granger signed by the author and the audiobook narrators!  This giveaway is open to the US/UK/CA.  Giveaway begins June 1, 2017 and ends June 30, 2017.  Entry is by Rafflecopter form.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Narrators: Ful Cast Including: Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, Oliver Wyman, Dennis Boutsikaris

Publisher: HarperAudio (2011)

Length: 19 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 1 American Gods

Author’s Page

Shadow Moon is being released from prison a little early on account of the unexpected passing of his wife Laura. On his way home to the funeral, he meets Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job that is part body guard and part problem solver. Without anything else to lose, he makes it official. Then weird stuff starts happening. TV characters talk to him. A leprechaun teaches him a special coin trick after beating the crap out of him. Someone wants to give his skull a love tap with a large hammer. That’s just the start of things.

I’ve read this book multiple times over the years but this was my first time experiencing the full cast audio production. It was quite good and lived up to my expectations. Shadow is so easy to connect with. He’s got this big heart at his center but he also doesn’t want to be anyone’s push over. Mr. Wednesday was highly amusing with his love for bad food and lust for life. He’s a conman and makes no attempt to hide this from Shadow. These two make an unlikely team and you can’t help but wonder what is Wednesday’s final end game. You can see that Shadow is wondering the same thing and yet he’s still drawn to this man and sucked into whatever he’s playing at.

There’s several female characters in this tale, though they are all pretty minor. Laura has the biggest role in that her actions affect the other characters, though she doesn’t have much actual page time. Bilquis and Easter were my favorite side gods. One is worshiped through sex and the other provides a bounty of food for the homeless in a park. If there is one weakness to this book, it is that all the main characters are male and almost all the decisions and action in this book are carried out by male characters. I would have liked a bit more gender balancing.

Some of my favorite scenes for this book happen in a small frozen town during winter. Shadow has been sent there to lie low while Mr. Wednesday works on whatever scheme he’s got underway. While there, Shadow gets to know some of the people and he learns about some missing kids. In a way, it turns into a little murder mystery. Then there’s also the mortuary and that crazy carousel and the final vibrant scenes at the conclusion of Mr. Wednesday’s big scheme. In some ways, the story is all over the map (sometimes literally as Shadow travels around the US), but it is these American versions of various deities along with the newly minted technology and media-oriented deities that tie everything together. I was glad to see entities that represented the Native Americans as well.

This edition, the 10th anniversary edition, includes an afterword by Neil Gaiman. There he talks about his own journey in coming up with this extraordinary story and characters. He also includes a scene that has Jesus and explains why he ultimately decided not to place that scene within the story. It was great to hear the author’s thoughts on this well loved book.

The Narration: This full cast production was very well done. There were no volume issues and whenever there are two or more characters talking, they sound like they are in the same room. Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, Oliver Wyman, Dennis Boutsikaris, and the rest (though I haven’t been able to find a complete cast list online) did a great job with the various characters. Oliver Wyman makes a great 6 foot tall drunken, angry, magic coin producing leprechaun. McLarty does well with Mr. Wednesday’s character, though in my head I always revert to George Guidall for Mr. Wednesday (Guidall narrated the original version of American Gods and it’s also quite good).

What I Liked: This tale is a piece of modern Americana; it was great trying to guess what deities some of the characters represented; several different locations, each with a distinct feel; Mr. Wednesday’s grand plan; Shadow’s ultimate role; great narration.

What I Disliked: While there are several female characters, not one of them is a main character.

What Others Think:

Little Red Reviewer

Nerdist

Best Fantasy Books

Supposedly Fun

Jonathan C. Gillespie

Interview: Kenny Soward, Author of the Galefire Series

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Kenny Soward. He’s the author of Fade Rippers, Book 1 of the Galefire Series. We chat about favorite authors, construction work, and the dream board game. Enjoy!

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

I would probably be the “guy” at the bar having a beer. Or the “guy” at the late night diner having a cup of cheap coffee and piece of pie. Or the “guy” in the coffee shop writing on his Mac and having some expensive coffee. So, I guess just the “guy” drinking a beverage. I’ve worked a long time to perfect that role 🙂

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?

I would say a supernatural creature. For someone who writes about supernatural creatures, I have my doubts about their existence. I long to discover something that proves amazing beings do exist outside our own. I guess an alien could pull that off, too. 🙂

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

There are quite a few now-dead authors I’d like to talk to for various reasons, but I think Ken Kesey might be fun to hang out with. I think he’d blow my mind with some of his thoughts on the power of the mind (and hallucinogens) and how we treat various mental disorders (or even if they are disorders). I’ve always been interested in writing a science fiction novel where the latent power of the mind is unlocked and allows someone to travel to other parts of space. Sure would save on rocket fuel!

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

My worst job was definitely construction work. I did commercial painting (new homes) and spent a lot of time working in the Kentucky outdoors, which meant you could be freezing or burning up any day of the week. And the yards were always churned up, dried mud…real ankle-turning stuff. Just a lot of long hours and tired bones where it takes a super long shower just to feel human again. Writing is a joy compared to those days, although construction work taught me the value of fighting through exhaustion, and it’s really helped me stay strong when writing seems hard.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I would take Mark Lawrence first, because we’d need Jorg’s wit. I would take Robin Hobb because she turns an incredible phrase and could probably solve the magical riddles. Jeff Salyards, to write us up a band of brutal mercenaries should we run into orcs. J.R.R Tolkien, for the pipeweed, music, and feasting.

What 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?

Since this series is about to air, and the book is great, I think American Gods would be an amazing card or board game. All the various gods, players, and thugs! So many possibilities to play a faction of warring entities! I would definitely want to play Shadow Moon or Mad Sweeney.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

I tend to enjoy underdog or anti-heroes, those wonderfully written who live a tragic existence or perish before their time is realized. But as far as interesting hero duos, Louis and Lestat, from Interview With the Vampire. Raistlin and Caramon, from DragonLance. Of course, Gimli and Legolas, from that one series 🙂

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?

I occasionally get a note from Mark Lawrence who has promoted my GnomeSaga stuff a few times, and I do my best to not sound like an idiot when I respond. One time, I was getting Caitlin R. Kiernan’s autograph, and I said something like, “I just love your work. It’s just…I want to write like you. It’s so cool.” I mean, I had some pretty slick things I was going to say, but everything came out “cool” and “awesome” and “amazing.” I was so embarrassed. Thankfully, she gave me a quiet smile and sent me on my way. You spend so much time reading these authors, and you sort of fall in love with their brains. And then you stand next to them and can’t speak. I guess it’s sort of like a crush.

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

Well, if it’s one of those where you have to drink a beer every quarter mile, I’d bring Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. Also Dutch from Predator and Ellen Ripley from Alien in the event there are monsters, really nasty ones. Of course, we’d need a medic and comedy relief, so Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. I heard it’s a tough mudder!

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

Book 3 of Galefire will be out in the middle of summer, and that will conclude the trilogy. The best thing folks can do is sign up for my mailing list where they’ll receive free books and short stories set in the Galefire world. Or, ‘like’ my Facebook page where I’m pretty active.

Places to Find Kenny Soward

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Mailing List

Book Blurb for Fade Rippers

Lonnie is just your average runner for the infamous Eighth Street Gang when he gets an urgent phone call to back up his crew after trouble follows them home from a drug deal gone bad.

During the ensuing firefight, Lonnie sees some things he wishes he hadn’t, including the gang’s leader, Selix, channeling her powers from a place called the Fade by getting high…and dancing. Memories begin unraveling inside Lonnie’s darkened mind. Memories of dragons and fiends and fire-swept otherworlds. Memories Selix controls with a simple touch.

But what is real and what is not?

In the strange and violent world of Galefire, Lonnie comes to realize not everything is as it seems, including his own identity. But will Lonnie and Selix reconcile the past before they are caught by those who seek to drag them home in chains?

Amazon ~ Audible

Author Bio: 

Kenny Soward grew up in Kentucky in a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970’s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.

Kenny’s love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien. He spent quite a few days in detention for reading in class.

In later years, Kenny took inspiration from fantasy writers such as China Mieville, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. If you enjoy urban and dark fantasy, paranormal and horror, with brooding, broken characters and fast paced action, you can visit Kenny at www.kennysoward.com.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Will Collins, Author of A Darker Shade of Sorcery

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to William Collins. He’s the author of The Realmers, a dark urban fantasy series, of which A Darker Shade of Sorcery is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for info on the ebook giveaway!

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

Awesome question. I’d love to be an extra in any sort of medieval or epic fantasy movie/tv show. I think it would be particularly fun to be the extra during a massive battle scene. I also think playing the part of an elf or orc would be an incredible experience.

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

All of the jobs I’ve had have been manual labour, so writing is a stark contrast, but far more enjoyable.

Who are some of your favourite book villains?

Oh, there’s many, often I like the villains more than I do the good guys. I’ll have to give a nod to Lord Loss, from the Demonata Sage and Tyler Durden from Fight Club; if he counts.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Oh it’s definitely a creative mess. I can plan/brainstorm anywhere, but I always have to do the serious writing in my ‘author cave.’ I get into a zone and often write the first versions of my works very fast. I’d proably look like a mad man if I did it in public. J

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

H.P Lovecraft – Creator of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Katherine Kerr – Author of the Deverry series.

Terry Pratchett – I’m sure everyone knows who this is.

Ray Bradbury – Another very famous author, a master of short stories too.

Robert E Howard – Credited for creating the sword and sorcery genre, his most famous character is likely Conan the Barbarian.

I can’t decide where they would rank, but I’d be most fascinated by merely sitting at the table with all five of them and seeing them interact.

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?

Unfortunately, I haven’t met any other authors yet, although I’ve talked briefly with Darren Shan and Philip Reeve on twitter, but that doesn’t really count. J

The first time a fan gushed over my work was quite a surreal experience. It’s still surreal to me when readers reference the little things in their reviews, such as using the swear words I invented etc. It’s cool though, I haven’t experienced anything awkward. I myself would be the one to bring the awkwardness if I encountered a favourite author.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I love side characters, they’re often my favourite characters in novels. My favourite side character in Harry Potter is Gilderoy Lockhart, who probably isn’t a character popular with many people, but I think he’s awesome. In my own works a few side characters appear to be liked by many readers, when I didn’t necessarily write them to be likeable, so that’s really interesting to me.

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

Can I cheat and jump on Luke’s back like Yoda?

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

You can find the first book in The Realmers Series, A Darker Shade of Sorcery.

Inside the Amazon page are links to book 2 and 3 in the series.

Book 3 was published recently, and I’m currently writing book 4. Meanwhile, I have a spin off set of novella’s that accompany the main series, the first of which has also recently been released. Here is Choo Choo Your Food, Book 1 of The Realmers Chronicles Book 1.

A second novella will be published within the next few weeks, and I’m halfway through a prequel novella for the main series too.

Thanks for having me, and I hope any who read this enjoyed it.

Places to Find William Collins

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for A Darker Shade of Sorcery

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Will Collins is offering up 3 ebook copies of A Darker Shade of Sorcery, open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? Who is your favorite side character? Giveaway ends June 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Heart of Gold by J. A. Cipriano & J. B. Garner

Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Jason A. Cipriano (2016)

Length: 5 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 Clans of Shadow

Cipriano’s Page ~ Garner’s Page

Frank Butcher delivers packages. He’s got a big ego and a crush on Dr. Gabrielle Perez. During one of his flirtatious encounters, the crap hits the fan as part of the building explodes around him. When he wakes, it’s a magical device that’s keeping him alive and the cultists want it. Pretty soon he has to make a hard choice as the cultists aren’t above threatening children to get what they want.

I want to say this is set in Florida but I may be wrong. Anyway, it’s a big city with some Hispanic and Latino influences. While I did like the Spanish used here and there, it’s el corazon and not la corazon. It’s a small mistake, but it did make me listen closer for other such linguistic errors.

Setting aside the language lesson, this was a very fun book. It’s brain candy and Frank is the star. True, he’s got a big ego, but he’s also got a big heart of gold, literally. There’s plenty of humor thrown in, though sometimes it was borderline punny and a little much. At times the humor felt like a worn thin comedic routine and at other times I was laughing out loud.

There’s plenty of action, and since Frank is a vet, there’s some gun play as well. Mixing magic and guns nearly always works for me. I really liked Gabrielle. She’s right in the mix. No shrinking wall flower status for her! She’s often the one keeping Frank on track or keeping him alive or getting him out of harm’s way. Then her son Max becomes a focus for the cultists so Frank and Gabrielle have to come up with a new game plan.

I did enjoy the bigger plot concerning the cultists and what they are up to. Frank and Gabrielle certainly have their hands full. And poor Gabrielle! I’m sure she feels betrayed by certain people. This tale wraps up well but leaves a larger story arc open for a sequel, which I look forward to enjoying with some popcorn.

The Narration: Joe Hempel makes a great Frank Butcher. It seems he really had fun with the character’s ego and humor. He also did a great job with Gabrielle’s voice and I liked his Hispanic accent for the little bit of Spanish in the story.

What I Liked: Fun brain candy; gorgeous cover art; great narration; some fun humor; Dr. Gabrielle Perez is awesome; the heart of gold magical item. 

What I Disliked: A few little slips with the Spanish; sometimes the humor was a bit worn thin. 

What Others Think:

AudioFile

Lomeraniel Audiobook Reviews

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 1 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Montana, this book starts up right after the events in the prequel, Alpha and Omega. While it’s not necessary to have read the prequel story first, it does help explain several things about Anna Latham and her first impressions of Charles Cornick. This romance driven tale follows Anna and Charles on their quest to find a rogue werewolf in the wilds of Montana.

Charles is the son of Bran, the Marrock for North America. Bran leads all the werewolf packs and Charles is his right hand man for handling disputes among the packs, hunting down rogue werewolves, and sometimes carrying out executions. Anna just came out of the Chicago pack; having been terrorized by them for a few years, she is now learning what it’s like to be part of a caring and mostly stable pack in Montana. She’s an Omega, which means she isn’t compelled by the werewolf magic and hierarchy to follow the rules all the time. She can be a peacemaker and become the glue that holds a pack together.

On the surface, these both seem like interesting characters. For me, they were OK. Charles is Native American, but that part of his character feels a bit forced. Perhaps it will become more natural as the series progresses. Anna is so submissive and while I get she’s just come through the other side of some hellish years, I expected her to blossom a bit more in this tale. I don’t need her to become some badass archer. I just need her to feel like she can go have a pee without asking permission first.

Asil was the most interesting character for me. His past is a bit nebulous, but he looks Middle Eastern and had spent some quality time in Spain at some point. He’s still in mourning for his wife and adopted daughter after all these years and his mind may be slipping. Lots is going on with this character and I really wanted to know more about him. There was this other really interesting character, but they were eliminated, so I can’t name them without giving out a spoiler. I was bummed. I thought they added something to the story and Briggs could have done much more with that character in subsequent stories.

The ladies in this tale, for the most part, have no status unless the man in their lives has status. Such a turn off. A woman’s self-worth is not inherently tied to the men she’s related to nor the man in her bed. I’m OK with characters believing this, but I need the storyline to show why this isn’t the case, show me how women step outside of the system, or show me the shadow hierarchy among the ‘lesser’ members. That way, we have something interesting going on instead of a worn-thin trope.

Now the hunt for the rogue werewolf was fun. Anna had the chance to show off some of her camping skills, which was great. And who doesn’t like watching werewolves frolic in snowy forests? The mystery surrounding the rogue werewolf was two fold and I enjoyed watching Charles and Anna figure out what was truly going on. There were some chilling moments and I wasn’t sure everyone was going to make it out OK. This part of the tale was well done.

The sex scene was brief. It started off hot and we got just so far before all the truly interesting details were skipped over and the lovers are laying side by side, satisfied. Since this is paranormal romance, I could have used more here. It would have made up for the weaker points of the story.

The Narration: Holter Graham continues to be an excellent Charles and an excellent Bran (the Marrock). His female voices were OK, though sometimes I had trouble discerning one woman from another. I love his accent for Asil! He sounds so much like Puss in Boots, so I kept picturing Asil as a large orange cat.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; Montana woods; Bran’s level head; Asil is a complex guy; the rogue wolf mystery; Anna’s camping skills.

What I Disliked: In werewolf society, a female’s worth is tied to the men in her life; a character I felt had much more to give is killed off; Anna feels she needs permission all the time.

What Others Think:

The Bibliosanctum

Love Vampires

Fantasy Book Cafe

Vampire Book Club

Sarah’s Reviews

Eyrie

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2013)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Chicago, Anna is the lowest in her pack, a werewolf pack she wasn’t given the choice in joining. After years of abuse, she is ready for a change. The Marrock has sent his son Charles to sort things out. Neither Charles nor Anna get what they expected.

I listened to this book as part of a group read and it’s a prequel to Cry Wolf. The Alpha and Omega series is a spin-off of the Mercy Thompson series and is more romance oriented. Honestly, it’s been some years since I read Mercy Thompson but I believe I like that series quite a bit more than this series.

So Charles is a dominant male among the werewolves and he’s a big handsome guy with skills. He meets Anna and discovers she’s an Omega, which is a person who can soothe and bind a pack together. However, her pack isn’t using her skills; instead they are just using her. By that I mean they take a chunk of her paycheck, have her clean and run errands, and pass her around sexually to reward pack members for questionable deeds. Obviously, Charles is not pleased at this at all. There shall be a reckoning!

There was insta-love between Anna and Charles on a primal level in which their inner wolves recognized it but their human sides took longer to figure it out. I liked the dual nature of this aspect of the story. I also like that this tale shows just what the Marrock, Bran, doesn’t want among the North American packs.

While some justice is meted out by the end, I felt that certain wolves didn’t show remorse over their actions, claiming they were ordered to abuse Anna and other lesser members. Obviously, some of these wolves will need further calibration.

The story had some intense moments, but the romance was a meh for me. I felt that Anna’s character was just too submissive all around. There’s the need to survive a bad situation, sure, but we could have used some inner Anna thoughts about how to avoid the worst of it, or change it, or sabotage food. Something.

The Narration: Holter Graham makes a very good Marrock and a very good Charles. His feminine voices were OK. I liked the harsh tones he can adopt when two wolves are squaring off. I also liked his soothing, patient voice for the Marrock.

What I Liked: Werewolves; Chicago; not all that bend are weak; the dual nature of the werewolf; the worst of the batch do meet justice.

What I Disliked: Anna is always bending, giving way; many of the misbehaving wolves showed no remorse over their actions. 

What Others Think:

The Bibliosanctum

Dear Author

All Things UF

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Speakeasy Dead by Vicky Loebel

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadScroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrators: Emily Beresford & Nick Podehl

Publisher: Pentachronistic Press (2013)

Length: 12 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Demonic Intervention

Author’s Page

Note: This book and it’s loosely tied-in sequel, Keys to the Coven, can each work just fine as stand alones.

Set in Falstaff, Arizona in the 1920s during Prohibition, the Woodsens run a speakeasy bar and also sell some of their surplus alcohol to others. Now a Chicago-based mob is trying to move in and run the alcohol trade. They will be surprised at how little pushing it takes to upset a witch. Meanwhile, the youngest of the Woodsen cousins, teen Clara, is desperate to save her beloved movie star Beau Beauregard. She’s willing to break some rules in the name of true love (or her first crush). Her older cousin, Bernard (Bernie) Benjamin, is just the guy to help her out, even if he has to be lured to the basement and tied to the center of a pentagram. Demons and zombies have never had so much fun as they will during the dance competition!

Once again, Vicky Loebel has given me something original and very funny. There’s a bit of sexy (though it’s pretty PG-13 for this book) as well. Clara is a driven character who’s young enough to not know to look at the bigger picture when it comes to love, yet old enough to have just enough responsibility and autonomy to get into big trouble. She’s dead set on saving her ‘beloved’ Beau even if he has no idea she exists (and that’s because they’ve never met). She’s even willing to become a warlock by summoning a demon and striking a bargain with it. Hans is the handsome demon that appears and somehow he talks things around so that his demon familiar, Ruth, will enter a dance contest. The pit just gets deeper from there on out.

With the Chicago mob, Bernie and his personal schemes, Gladys the Golem, Beau’s resentment over the whole mess, zombies, stolen booze, and an older Woodsen sibling arriving soonish, Clara really does have her hands full. It was so funny! There’s plenty of clever lines and each person really has their own agenda in mind. Clara wants love from Beau, and to not get caught. Bernie doesn’t want to die a horrible death (which is surely what will happen when Clara’s older witch sisters find out about this whole mess). The mob want their booze, the money, and control (and they seem constantly surprised when that doesn’t happen easily). Beau is quite angry with his situation and Clara is totally surprised by what he truly wants. Gladys just wants to get back to housekeeping.

I really enjoyed the various magical elements. There’s the demon Hans and his familiar Ruth which have their intricate little dos and don’ts. Then Gladys who is a Golem and rather protective of young Bernie. One of Clara’s best friends is a ghost whisperer and she has a ghost familiar (Gaspar, complete with Spanish accent). Loebel manages to pull each one into the storyline seamlessly. Moreover, she gives each one rules to work with and she keeps them within those rules. With a comedy, it would be easy to have these various magical folk breaking rules, so I appreciated that once the author laid down a law of this is how this type of magic works, she kept her characters in line.

I did quite enjoy all the flirty, sexy behavior that popped up here and there. Demons love to trade on sex because it builds up their karma, which is basically spiritual coinage. Clara knows all this from her older witch sisters and her book on demons. Yet when the offers are made to her, she’s tempted. Bernie isn’t as naive but he’s not as well-schooled as he likes to pretend either. Ruth, being a large hunting cat most of the time, has a sexy confidence all the time, even when she’s totally mangling her dance partner’s foot during practice. There’s plenty of wit and humor with the sexy bits, making them just as fun as the rest of the book.

Having listened to both audiobook set in this urban fantasy world, I really hope Loebel gives us more. The humor is a bit unique and I love the mix of serious situations, magic, and laughter. Not everyone makes it out of this story unscathed. In many ways, Clara comes of age in this tale. Loved it and looking forward to more of it!

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Emily Beresford and Nick Podehl once again did a great job on this book. Even though they voiced totally different characters for Keys to the Coven, I read them far enough apart that I didn’t have character echos in my head, as can sometimes happen when you listen to books set in the same universe that have different characters yet the same narrators. These two are great with all the emotions and also delivering straight lines so the humor is left hanging there for the reader/listener to catch even as the story moves onward.

What I Liked: Arizona!; the Prohibition era; silly mobsters being all tough and hard to take a hint; Clara’s first real crush; Beau’s reaction to that crush; Bernie’s role in all this mess; Gladys is probably the most dangerous one in the mix but knows when to hold back; Ruth is a sexy beast; Gaspar and his Zorro sword; how it all ends with a Charleston.

What I Disliked: Nothing – so darn funny!

GIVEAWAY!

Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Speakeasy Dead! 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) What attracts you most to this book? Zombies? Prohibition? Demons? Dance Contests? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends April 4th, midnight, 2017.

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Halfway Hunted by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayHuntedCheck out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2016)

Length: 6 hours 56 minutes

Series: Book 3 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Note: This book can work as a stand alone though you would get more out of it if you had read the previous two books just because of the relationship between Carlie and Wulfric.

Set nearly 1 year after the ending of Book 2, Halfway Bitten, Carlie is still fretting over Wulfric’s fate after he sacrificed his humanity to defeat the Big Baddie from Book 2. But she’s also still working at the diner and playing servant to her 35 pound cat Gus. Then her librarian friend gives her a new puzzle to work on – a stranger has turned up in town and he looks like he needs be brought up to speed. Exit Wainwright is a miner and mineralogist who recently woke up 100 years after he was cursed into a forced sleep.

Immediately, Gran and Carlie are on the case. It takes a bit of powerful magic to put someone into a suspended sleep for so long. Exit’s first concern is to find out what happened to his wife. He’s a practical man and he expects that she is dead but he wants to find her grave and perhaps learn how the rest of her life played out. Gran and Carlie immediately take him under their wings.

Early on, Carlie is able to use a spell to try to locate the remains of Mrs. Wainwright. However, what they find only deepens the mystery and also saddens Exit. Carlie then brings her shape-shifter friend, Alex, and his sister Anna (who Carlie isn’t a fan of) up to speed on the unfolding mystery. Alex is really growing on me. Anna is still mostly in the shadows in this book, despite her tie to Wulfric (they have a child together) and Carlie’s dislike of her.

It turns out there is a hunter in Halfway and Gran and Carlie disagree with his methods and his choice of prey. This book surprised me because they solve one problem only to have another layer revealed and yet another foe or obstacle to be tackled. Meanwhile, Carlie has been working for the past year on a spell to help Wulfric, whose vampire half has taken over. Carlie is in danger from more than one front! I wasn’t sure how things would turn out in the end and I was kept guessing until the last chapter.

Gran continues to surprise me. I am growing really attached to her character. In this book, Carlie makes a tough but perhaps a dangerous choice. Gran shows her what happened to a relative of hers in the past and that bit of family history really sobers Carlie.

As a final note, I really enjoyed the mail delivery lady in this story. She was introduced in the previous book, but she gets a bigger role in this story. Her wholesome sexuality is also a welcome addition to the tale. Plus, she rather practical and capable – two things that I always appreciate.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Erin Spencer continues to do this series justice. She makes a really good Carlie and I love her Gran voice as well. Her light accent for Wulfric remains charming. I also like her big bear of a man voice for Exit.

What I Liked: Carlie walks a narrow path between good and evil in her spell for helping Wulfric; Gran continues to be a font of wisdom; Exit is a fun new addition; Alex is turning into a good friend; great narration. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a fun read!

About the Author Terry Maggert

AuthorTerryMaggertLeft-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

About the Narrator Erin Spencer

ErinSpencerNarratorErin loves audiobooks!  As an actress, they have allowed her to creatively stretch by playing all kinds of characters, all kinds of ages and all kinds of accents!  She voiced roles in the Audie award winning title, Illuminae and was also nominated for a Voice Arts Award in the romance category.  She has narrated over 100 titles and as an audiobook director has worked on at least 100 more.  She has worked for most of the major publishers and also enjoys working with indie writers who are some of the most talented writers out there! Follow her on Twitter @ErinSpencerLA or find her on Facebook, Erin Spencer Actress.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Book Blurb for Halfway Hunted

MaggertHalfwayHuntedWelcome to Halfway; where the waffles are golden, the moon is silver, and magic is just around every corner.
A century old curse is broken, releasing Exit Wainwright, an innocent man trapped alone in time.
Lost and in danger, he enlists Carlie, Gran, and their magic to find the warlock who sentenced him to a hundred years of darkness. The hunter becomes the hunted when Carlie’s spells awaken a cold-blooded killer intent on adding another pelt to their gruesome collection: hers.
But the killer has never been to Halfway before, where there are three unbreakable rules:
1. Don’t complain about the diner’s waffles.
2. Don’t break the laws of magic.
3. Never threaten a witch on her home turf.
Can Carlie solve an ancient crime, defeat a ruthless killer and save the love of her life from a vampire’s curse without burning the waffles?
Come hunt with Carlie, and answer the call of the wild.

Audible ~ Amazon