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

Halfway Bitten by Terry Maggert

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

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2016)

Length: 7 hours 19 minutes

Series: Book 2 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Note: This book works fine as a stand alone though I think you would enjoy some of the characters more if you read Book 1, Halfway Dead first.

Set in the picturesque, touristy New York town of Halfway, Carlie is still making waffles at the local diner. Wulfric is enjoying his new-found freedom, and Carlie’s company. Gus still appreciates having human slaves to open his tuna and provide a warm bed. But something is afoot, and it’s more than just the circus in town and the clowns cluttering up the diner. As more bodies pile up, Carlie and Gran must put their witchy powers to use. Vampires are crossing their territory and not all are behaving nicely.

This was another fun addition to the series. Carlie is a little older, a little wiser, but also completely smitten by her half-vampire Viking lover. I think her love life had her a little distracted throughout the book, but I can forgive her. It’s her first love and she’s fallen hard. Plus, Wulfric is an interesting character in his own right. Things are complicated a little by his previous girlfriend, a shape-shifter named Anna. They have a child together and so it’s unlikely that Anna will ever truly be out the picture, much to the irritation of Carlie.

The librarian was also a favorite character, even though I don’t recall his name. He’s a little awkward, totally geeky, and definitely a worthy ally. He helps Carlie dig up info on the first body and he doesn’t lose it when he actually sees the body. I also enjoyed the mail delivery lady. She has a wholesome sexuality that everyone enjoys. I am glad the author put this character in the story because she serves as counterpoint to Anna. Carlie goes off a few times about Anna’s promiscuity and it really borders on slut shaming, but then we have the mail delivery lady who Carlie likes. I’d like to point out we never actually see Anna behaving badly, we just hear about it from Carlie. Jealousy? Perhaps.

I really enjoyed Gran sharing one of her secret information sources, a certain ghost. That scene has stuck with me and still has me chuckling. I love that Gran is not only an important person in Carlie’s life but also a worthy mentor.

Eventually the mystery starts to unfold as more than one vampire attempts to cross the lands protected by the McEwan witches. And, of course, the clowns play into it as well. How could they not? If you find clowns a little creepy, then this story will raise your gooseflesh. I really liked the underlying mystery and Gran and Carlie have to go to battle with their witchy spells. I’m on the fence about whether or not I liked Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

Overall, this was a solid story and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out it. However, I did enjoy Book 1 more. Still, I look forward to the next book in the series.

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

The Narration: Erin Spencer does another good job with this installment in the series. She really sounds like a 20ish woman. I also like her accent for Wulfric and some of the clowns had accents as well. Her Gran is also growing on me quite a bit.

What I Liked: Carlie’s determined to protect her territory; vampires; ghosts; Wulfric the viking vampire; great narration.

What I Disliked: Slut shaming? Perhaps; still on the fence about Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

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 Bitten

MaggertHalfwayBittenThe circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird. When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be. When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after. With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.

Audible ~ Amazon

Wizard's Nocturne by Gary Jonas

JonasWizardsNocturneNarrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 6 in the series and I recommend reading at least the previous 2 books as there are major things that happened in those books that both explain and affect characters’s decisions in this book.

This book takes place in New York 1926 roughly 50 years after the previous book, Sunset Spectres. The Jonathan Shade from the previous book that decided to raise the young Henry Winslow long ago changed his name to John Eastman. Now Henry is a man in his prime and he and John are in business together and have a good relationship. However, John knows from his previous timeline that his younger previous self, Jonathan Shade, is due to show up and kill this version of Henry Winslow. Also, his once-girlfriend Reina is due to show up as well, from a different time jump. Things are about to get very, very complicated.

This was a fun book and while there are many things I liked about it, I did feel all the time traveling stuff got jumbled and was difficult to keep track of. I wanted a time jump map. Still, with that confusion I got enough enjoyment out this book to want to continue the series.

First, I like that John gave 50 years of his life to raise Henry in a loving environment, giving him the basis to become a good human being instead of the evil Henry Winslow that Jonathan Shade and crew have been trying to stop from becoming immortal. John is the mastermind in this tale, knowing some key specifics about how things will go down with the time jumps. In short, he’s trying to keep everyone he cares about alive. As we know from the previous book, one of his best friends died back in 1877. Now he just might have the chance to change that.

As John’s friends and even Jonathan start popping into 1926, none of them seem to recognize him as a much older version of Shade. This allows him to manipulate things. John and Henry have been leading members in an occult group for many years and John has set in motion a plan to initiate a new member, which will give John access to this man’s stunning find – the Emerald Tablets. These ancient artifacts are the source of the immortality spell that the evil Henry Winslow is trying to enact. 1926 is the stage for his final step in that spell.

This story had little bits of sentimentality laced through it everywhere. For instance, a vibrantly alive Esther is doing quite well as Mr. Eastman’s secretary. John knows he probably shouldn’t have hired her, based on his past experience with her ghost, but he couldn’t turn her down. Plus this way John believes he can ensure that Esther, alive or dead, doesn’t fall in love with him and suffer a broken heart for decades. I liked these little nods to characters we lost in previous books. Yet their appearances and different reactions/interactions with various characters also added to muddying the timelines and making it difficult to keep things straight.

Along with all the scheming that takes place in this book, the story wraps up with a decently long action sequence. Some people get what’s coming to them and, as always with this series, some good folks perish as well. This time they weren’t characters that I was heavily invested in so my heart didn’t ache like it did at the end of Sunset Spectres. There’s a lovely afterglow in which some things are explained and the surviving characters make plans to have lovely lives. I am pleased that my favorite characters are still alive and kicking though I do wonder what the author will do next. What a mess with the timelines!

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Joe Hempel is just simply great at this series. I really enjoyed him giving voice to the older, wiser John Eastman and the younger, still cocky Jonathan Shade. As always, his Kelly Chan and Esther are great. His emotional scenes, such as that between John and the good Henry, were very touching. 

What I Liked: 1926 New York; John’s long-term commitment to young Henry; the return of favorite characters (and then some) that I thought had been lost for good; not everyone gets out alive; great narration.

What I Disliked: Wow! I really need to map out the various timelines and the multiple versions of each character to keep that part of the story straight.

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayDeadTo check out the book tour wide giveaway, scroll to the bottom! And check out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2015)

Length: 7 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 1 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Set in Halfway, New York, Carlie works at the only real diner in town. She has a large, ornery cat named Gus, and she treasures her grandmother. Oh, and she’s also a witch. Things were pretty quiet until a few restless spirits and a determined cop started pestering Carlie. Now there is a child’s spirit trapped in the depths of the forest that she must free or learn to live with a troubled conscience.

I had a lot of fun with this book. Carlie is a character I want to be friends with. She’s independent but not prickly about having friends who show they care about her. She also takes care of her things in the belief that they will be there, in good condition, to take care of her. It’s an idea that I strive for even if I don’t often obtain it. Carlie doesn’t hesitate to show folks that she can take care of herself and she doesn’t apologize for whatever bruises a heavy-handed person might receive from her. Yet she isn’t some alpha female always feeling she has to fight to maintain her place in the world. Over all, she’s really well balanced and I really like that about her.

My inner biologist loved the bit about the long-lost chestnut species. They were key in locating the source of the troubled spirits. The first third of the book is spent in the small town of Halfway (there are wendigo!) but the rest of the story is spent in the woods. Get your nature hiking boots out folks! Carlie and Major Pickford, a cop involved in the case, set out to find this mysterious source of unsettled spirits. My one teensy spoiler is that along the way they meet Wulfric who I think will continue on in the series. Wulfric’s existence in the woods brings up plenty of questions but he also supplies plenty of answers. Carlie and crew have quite the fight ahead of them. Not all will come out of it OK.

I was truly surprised by what they found in the woods. First, there was Wulfric (but I won’t spoil why he’s such a surprise). The next surprise was a kind of lost legends surprise. I found it clever and amusing at the same time. Finally, there is an epic battle near the end. For the first in the series, I wasn’t expecting that level of a fight but in retrospect, it does fit. Carlie isn’t some newly minted witch. No, she’s had years of training and has a good idea of what she can and can’t do. All around, it was a great ride and a satisfying read.

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

The Narration: Erin Spencer was a good pick for this book. She mad a very practical Carlie. I also liked her accent for Wulfric. Her male voices were believable and she did a great job imbuing scenes with emotion as needed.

What I Liked: A witch who knows her business; practical Carlie; wendigo!; plenty of unexpected secrets in the woods; disturbed spirits; satisfying ending; 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 Dead

MaggertHalfwayDeadCarlie McEwan loves many things. She loves being a witch. She loves her town of Halfway, NY – a tourist destination nestled on the shores of an Adirondack lake. Carlie loves her enormous familiar, Gus, who is 25 pounds of judgmental Maine Coon cat, and she positively worships her grandmother, a witch of incredible power and wisdom. Carlie spends her days cooking at the finest – and only – real diner in town, and her life is a balance between magic and the mundane, just as she likes it.

When a blond stranger sits at the diner counter and calls her by name, that balance is gone. Major Pickford asks Carlie to lead him into the deepest shadows of the forest to find a mythical circle of chestnut trees, thought lost to forever to mankind. There are ghosts in the forest, and one of them cries out to Carlie across the years. Come find me.

Danger, like the shadowed pools of the forest, can run deep. The danger is real, but Carlie’s magic is born of a pure spirit. With the help of Gus, and Gran, and a rugged cop who really does want to save the world, she’ll fight to bring a ghost home, and deliver justice to a murderer who hides in the cool, mysterious green of a forest gone mad with magic.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

$10 Amazon Gift Card

$10 Amazon Gift Card

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Esoterrorism by C. T. Phipps

PhippsEsoterrorismScroll to the bottom to check out the audiobook giveaway!

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Audible Studios (2016)

Length: 9 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Secret Files of the Red Room

Author’s Page

In this urban fantasy, the morally questionable fight the morally void. Derek Hawthorne and his twin sister Penny were raised within the secret organization known as the Red Room. This organization has kept the larger world safe from the supernatural for millennium. However, Derek is now caught up in a plot that is wrongly accusing him of treason while at the same time he hunts down the evil and powerful Wazir. Things are about to get messy.

This was a fun story. It’s got dark humor, plenty of action, and really interesting characters. I give extra points for all the Richard Matheson references. Derek is our main character and we experience the entire book through his point of view. He’s been raised to be this spy who happens to have some supernatural abilities and his primary job is to keep the populace at large from learning about the existence of supernatural creatures. The Red Room doesn’t really have a retirement plan, so once you’re in, you’re in for lfve. In Derek’s case, he (and his sister) were born into the Red Room. This is what they know. Penny is the witch in the family whereas Derek is more like a scruffy James Bond with some unexpected talents.

Lucy was one of my favorite side characters. She’s so cute and such a geek and doesn’t pick up on social cues. She’s grown up in the lab of the Red Room creating supernatural gadgetry for all the agents. She seems happy if a bit odd. I do wonder what she and Penny do on date night, since Lucy seems to never leave the lab….

While there is plenty of entertaining snark and jokes passed back and forth among the agents, there is this more serious underlying plot. First, there’s the unexpected reappearance of the Wazir and his henchmen. Then there is evidence that a mole is releasing critical information about the Red Room to outsiders. Derek eventually picks up on the fact that some higherups at the Red Room think that mole might be him. As a test of sorts, he’s given a new partner (Shannon O’Riley) and they are sent to question Derek’s ex-wife Cassandra. This plot kept me engaged the entire time because I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. I knew Derek wasn’t a mole but I wasn’t sure about Shannon or Penny or Cassandra. The story kept me guessing and I really like that.

Shannon is a bundle of mysteries. She’s assigned to Derek out of the blue and he’s immediately suspicious of her and whoever arranged for her to be his partner. Still, she’s efficient and pleasant company. As the story progresses, Derek learns some of her secrets and, for the most part, these revelations just make him more wary of her. Still, there’s this sexual tension between the two that make for some entertaining conversations, in or out of the locker room.

Battling the Wazir was more difficult than Derek expected. I really liked that the story started off with a cocky Derek but as one misjudgment or mishap after another occurs, Derek becomes more cautious. The man is trainable! While I was expecting a higher body count, I was pleased that several of my favorite characters made it out alive (if not unscathed). I look forward to seeing what happens next in this series.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a great pick for this book. He makes a really good Derek Hawthorne. I also loved his snarky voice for Penny and his excited, geeky voice for Lucy. His Irish accent for Shannon started off a little rough but quickly smoothed out. He pulls off the humor so well! 

What I Liked: Snarky humor everywhere; Shannon’s secrets; Derek isn’t as emotionally devoid as he would have everyone think; I really wasn’t sure who the traitor was; the Wazir was harder to take down than expected; love the cover art.

What I Disliked: It’s a tiny criticism – the Irish accent in the narration started off a little rough.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

My World… in words and pages

Book Lover’s Life

Beauty in Ruins

Fantasy Book Critic

GIVEAWAY!!!

C. T. Phipps is offering up 3 copies of his audiobook The Secrets of Supervillainy! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following questions in the comments section: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Who are your favorite book villains? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Contest is open until Jan. 20, 2017, midnight my time. 

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Spirited Christmas by Gary Jonas

JonasSpiritedChristmasNarrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 2 hours

Series: A Jonathan Shade Holiday Story

Author’s Page

Note: While this book fits somewhere into the Jonathan Shade series, it works perfectly fine as a stand alone and can be read at any point in the series.

Set in modern day Denver and surrounding area, paranormal private investigator Jonathan Shade is hired by young Madeleine Franklin who is tired of being bothered by a ghost that shows up every Christmas. Each year the sightings of this ghost have gotten worse and worse. She’s determined that this Christmas her family won’t be bothered by it. Jonathan reluctantly takes on the case.

This was a charming holiday tale by one of my favorite authors. He utilizes my favorite characters from the series in the story – Jonathan, Kelly Chan (his friend and part-time bodyguard), and Esther (who is a ghost who died in the 1920s and her spirit is tied to a typewriter). Little Maddy offers up all her money (which can easily be counted in coins) to Jonathan to perform an exorcism. Jonathan gives her a discount and heads over to perform a simple exorcism. It’s a ghost alright, but now he’ll be spending some time and money doing some house repairs over at Maddy’s for the unexpected side effects of the exorcism.

The story doesn’t stop there. Jonathan suspects he doesn’t have the whole story, but he’s not sure what he’s missing. He digs around a bit and discovers a hidden truth. I was quite pleased that this wasn’t a simple little case for Jonathan and crew. Nope. There’s flames and a sewage treatment plant involved.

The ending doesn’t leave everyone with everything they want, but it did leave me with a good warm fuzzy feeling. Jonathan and crew helped out a little girl and still had time to decide if they really wanted to go to a holiday party or not. The tale captured the humor I so enjoyed in the first 3 books of the series, with Esther and Kelly teasing Jonathan and him throwing it back at them. I also liked Jonathan’s little song about the bones.

At the time of posting this review, this short story is free on SoundCloud.

The Narration: Joe Hempel continues to do a great job with this series. He’s a perfect fit for Jonathan Shade. I also love his Kelly Chan voice. Esther is always great, especially with the accent Joe gives her. He did a great job of imbuing the characters with emotion. 

What I Liked: An exorcism!; young Maddy is determined to have a great holiday; flames; sewage; carrying a typewriter everywhere; the humor; the ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing! Perfect for the holidays!

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

McGuireIndexingNarrator: Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2014)

Length: 12 hours 5 minutes

Series: Book 1 Indexing

Author’s Page

In this urban fantasy, fairy tales can kill. A person can get caught up in their story and then the narrative will carry that person to the forgone conclusion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Sleeping Beauty, a Wicked Stepsister, or a Pied Piper, eventually the story will be too strong for you to ignore and then you will no longer have a choice.

Henrietta (Henry) Marchen runs an indexing team for the ATI Management Bureau. They are tasked with tracking down these narratives that just went active, indexing them (which is figuring out what class of fairy tale and how strong they are), and diffusing them before the story creates a body count. Sometimes the only way to diffuse a narrative is to take out the human at the center of the story, because they are no longer in control of their actions. Henry has to make some tough calls during this tale. Her little team is like family; they all have their hangups and they all care about each other.

In truth, I did find some aspects of this book difficult to keep track of. Once I figured out what was going on with the narrative, it got a little easier. Sometimes the long wordy explanations (which might have been a spoof on actual government procedure documents) was cumbersome and didn’t really help explain anything. Plus, they were a bit boring. Rather, the conversations between characters did the best to explain how a fairy tale can take over a small piece of reality and what, if anything, the ATI folks could do about it.

Other than that, there was some great stuff going on in this book. I liked thinking of modern Sleeping Beautys or Snow Whites trying to make their way working in an office or a daycare center. It often gave me a chuckle. My favorite side character was Sloan Winters. She was awesome! She got to say all sorts of cranky things I wish I could say at the office, and her team understood because that’s how her fairy tale built her. McGuire also pays a nod to the transgender community with a character and I thought that was well done.

There’s also this murder mystery going on. At first, it looks like random narrative attacks and there’s a few bodies piling up. However, the indexing team does love to analyze stuff so pretty soon it looks like there’s some sort of pattern and perhaps someone or something is controlling the narrative outbreaks. The murder mystery part took some time to get going, but once it did, it really added to the story.

Over all, I did enjoy this book, though I find McGuire’s other urban fantasy series, the Toby Daye series, much easier to get into. That series teaches you the rules as you go along, whereas this series tends to have big chunks of convoluted rules dumped on you, sometimes repeatedly. Still, I think it’s worth the time and effort.

I had access to a free copy of this book through the Kindle Unlimited program.

The Narration: Mary Robinette Kowal did a good job, as usual. I really liked her voice for Sloan, who is always snappish. She did a great job shifting from a character’s every day voice to their ‘possessed’ fairy tale voice. 

What I Liked: Fairy tales are trying to take over my life!; Henry is a good choice for team lead; Sloan and her work attitude! So funny! So snappish!; the murder mystery; the team pulling together for the ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: There are some convoluted rules that are given in big info dumps; these info dumps are repeated.

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SFF Audio

Bayou Moon by Geraldine Allie

AllieBayouMoonNarrator: Ashley Huyge

Publisher: Punch Audio (2014)

Length: 1 hour 18 minutes

Series: Book 2 Werewolves & Shifters

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone story.

In this dark comedy, Maggie is a lonely vampire. She contemplates suicide but decides to try to make some company for herself first. Kreel and Charlie work at a cemetery, which is the perfect place to meet suicidal, lonely vampires apparently.

Charlie drinks on the job, which makes him an easy target when Maggie attacks. Alas, his head is dented in so he provides much of the humor for the rest of the story. Kreel is dead set against being a demon blood sucker forever so he has a huge argument with Maggie, which isn’t what she was expecting. Toss in some voodoo and family ties and there’s plenty of fodder for humor.

This story was quite a bit different from Book 1, Blood Moon. There’s dark humor every where (which I liked) but no sex of any kind (which was fine). The pacing is still swift as there’s plenty of ground to cover and characters to introduce in this short story. Over all, I liked this book better than Book 1. I felt the characters were a little better formed, I liked all the humor, and I didn’t have to put my suspension of disbelief in overdrive over some sudden hormonal romantic hookup. The ending does have a solid tie into the first book but you don’t have to have read it to enjoy this story.

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Ashley Huyge was great with the accents but didn’t do spooky at all. Instead she sounds chipper the entire way through, like a flight attendant. This worked for the humor but not for the lonesome suicidal part of Maggie’s personality.

What I Liked: Dark humor; Charlie’s dented head; Kreel’s rejection of Maggie’s ‘gift’; voodoo; eventual tie in to Book 1; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the chipper narration didn’t fit the character’s inner turmoil.

Hellbent by Cherie Priest

Chupacabra is sacked out.
Chupacabra is sacked out.

Narrator: Natalie Ross

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2011)

Length: 10 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 2 Cheshire Red Reports

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel.

Raylene is an expert thief and a wayward vampire. Her fixer Horace has an unusual job for her. He needs these rare yet odd relics stolen and he offers her a big financial incentive to take on the job. However, someone else is also after the relics – Elizabeth Creed. She’s a warlock and one who isn’t all there. Tossing in some trouble on the homefront, Ian (a blind vampire) has been summoned home by his House. It’s a death sentence to go and a death sentence to not go. Ray may not be able to help Ian with this one.

First, there was lots of humor and banter in this book, and plenty of it is a bit dark. The odd relics that Ray is hunting for are actually baculum, which are penis bones. Yep. Many placental mammals have penis bones. Alas, humans do not. Anyway, these particular baculum are from things like werewolves and such, making them perfect for magical spells. I’m sure you can see how this particular job was rife with humor.

The quest takes Ray out of Seattle and to Houston and Atlanta. She’s also trying to give her support to Ian as he tries to reconnect with this son Brandon. So we get to see a chunk of the country in this book. Adrian, an ex-military drag queen, is also along for the ride. Hooray! I really enjoyed his character in Book 1, Bloodshot. When he’s in drag, she’s Sister Rose. In the previous book, he was searching for his younger sister Isabel. That search comes up again in this novel and I was glad to see that Adrian had not given up his hunt.

There’s a touch of romance in this novel. There’s a low simmering heat between Ray and Ian, but since they live in the same big house, they have been keeping things casual. They also share space with two orphaned kids, Domino and his little sister Pepper. Domino is going through his angry teen years and I really was worried he was going to get dead in this book! Pepper is the brains of the two even if she’s only 7 or so.

There’s plenty of action as Ray tries again and again to doge the crazy warlock, the military group that once held Ian captive, and also Ian’s House. There are so many ways that things could go very, very wrong for Ray! Eeeeep! This was a real page, or, rather, disc, turner for me. I didn’t want to put this book down. Between the humor and the high-stakes action, I was hooked and enjoyed the entire book.

Narration: Natalie Ross did another great job with this book. I continue to be amazed at her performance with Adrian/Sister Rose. I also enjoy her various accents as needed here and there. Her rough, kind of seedy voice for Horace was perfect – just like how I picture him.

What I Liked: Raylene continues to be a very approachable hero; there’s even a kitten to rescue; Sister Rose/Adrian kicks ass and looks good doing it; Horace is mostly good but also self-centered; the baculum – hahahahahahahahaha!

What I Disliked: Nothing – too much fun!

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