Lucifer’s Star by C. T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus

Narrator: Eric Burns

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2017)

Length: 10 hours 20 minutes

Series: Book 1 Lucifer’s Star

Phipps’s Page ~ Suttkus’s Page

Set in a galaxy far, far away, Cassius Mass, supreme star pilot, has lost his faith in his side of the war. All his life he believed he was fighting for the right side, the Crius Archduchy. Alas, the Archduchy fell to the Commonwealth and people rejoiced (much to Cassius’s surprise). Now he spends his days drunk navigating a freight hauler, the Melampus, going by the name Marcus Grav. That is, until he’s swept up into intrigue and revolution.

I know I have said this before about a new-to-me Phipps series: This is my favorite of Phipps’s works! Well, I say it again. This gripping scifi story is a little darker than some of his other works and yet still has moments of humor and all of it has this space opera feel going for it. I was rooting for Cassius throughout the story since I felt he would do his best to get the least number of average people killed.

Then I started rooting for Ida Claire, a spy master and captain of the Melampus who may or may not be on Cassius’s side, because she was so damn interesting! I kept picturing her with a bit of knitting as she read over the latest spy logs, quietly drinking rum-spiked tea and casually checking off boxes on the log that would determine who lived and who died. I know. She never had any knitting in the book and yet I always picture her with knitting. Maybe the knitting needle tips are poison dipped.

Let’s talk about Cassius’s tangled family tree. So he’s technically a clone of his father, yet he was raised as a sibling with his father’s biological offspring…. so that makes them his, well, we’ll go with siblings for now. Someone learned from that and decided to make a clone of Cassius to raise an Archduchy rebellion against the Commonwealth. Now Ida wants to stop that uprising and hunt down this clone and whoever is controlling him. Obviously, things are going to get messy for Cassius who was raised to have strong familial ties.

I loved the bioroids! Originally crafted to serve as a slave work force, sometimes a bioroid breaks free and spends the rest of their days working on some rundown freight hauler. Take Isla Hernandez, a medical officer, who is glad for her freedom but still harbors plenty of anger. The bioroids plight put me in mind of the human-like AI robots of Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica.

There’s also aliens! Yes! Humanity knows they exist but has very little to do with them, per the aliens’ choice. We’re not evolved enough to be of interest. Then there’s the nearly alien Chel, a race of once-humans that are so far removed from humanity in purpose, biology, and technology that they are considered alien by most. Clarice has had contact with them and it wasn’t pretty. She’s got her own scars to keep tucked away.

Cassius is in a relationship with Isla, who used to be in a relationship with William… so there’s some personal tension between the two men. There’s also the young Hiro who is everyone’s little brother and he does Cassius a good turn, earning his trust. It’s a ragtag crew that often put me in mind of Firefly.

My one little quibble is that I found Cassius a bit too trusting beyond reason. He has plenty of hints that a member of the Melampus is working for a different team but is then surprised when that betrayal comes to pass. Same thing when he meets up with his siblings once again. Since we’re experiencing the entire tale through Cassius’s eyes, if we see it, then Cassius sees it as well. So I felt it was just a touch clunky trying to portray these hints of forthcoming betrayal and yet still keep Cassius’s blinders on.

All around, I really enjoyed this tale. There’s plenty of skirmishes, spy networks, and individuals making plays for personal gain. Most of our would-be heroes have deep scars that affect their choices, which in turn, put them or others in great peril. I also loved the witty humor that kept popping up, providing breaks from the grimdark feel of the overall story. Plus, there were a few references to iconic movies such as The Godfather and Airplane. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Eric Burns was an excellent narrator for this story. I loved his voice for Ida, which could range from sweet grandmotherly to brutally honest. He also made a really good Cassius, holding onto that sense of honor throughout the story. He did a great job with the humor as well as the grim moments, expressing the right mix of emotions for any given scene.

What I Liked: Cassius being a fallen hero hiding in booze and mediocrity; Ida Claire’s spy abilities; the bioroids in general and Isla in particular; the Chel are scary!; plenty of double crossing; Cassius’s convoluted family ties; great narration. 

What I Disliked: In a few instances, Cassius was a little too oblivious to obvious signs of forthcoming betrayal.

What Others Think:

Beavis the Book Head

The Bloggin’ Hobgoblin

Beauty in Ruins

The Audiobook Reviewer

Brian’s Book Blog

The Bookwyrm Speaks

The Tower of Zhaal by C. T. Phipps

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2017)

Length: 9 hours

Series: Book 2 Cthulhu Armageddon

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 and works OK as a stand alone. It would definitely be enhanced by having previously read Book 1.

Set in and around a post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, John Henry Booth and Mercury Halsey now work as security for merchant caravans. The world was reformed some decades back when the Old Ones and aliens took up residence on Earth, nearly wiping out humans. Unfortunately, most of these new arrivals found humans useful in some way or another, such as interbreeding or as a food source. John is undergoing a transformation into an unknown something he fears and perhaps the University can cure him. However, their assistance comes at a price. They must hunt down and kill a powerful sorcerer (wizard? magician?) Marcus Whatley, who is determined to released the last of the Old Ones, potentially dooming both humanity and Earth.

Yeah. John and Mercury have their work cut out for them.

The end of Book 1, Cthulhu Armageddon, saw the death of much of the cast. Here, we get several fresh faces and, yes, many of them perish in interesting ways before the end of the book. In fact, several folks from the merchant train John & Mercury are guarding die right away when the cultists of Yith show up unexpectedly. Professor Harvey Armitage of the Miskatonic University wanted a word with John & Mercury and this was his douchey way to getting their attention. Right off the bat, I didn’t care for Armitage and I hoped that John & Mercury found an interesting way to kill him off. And yet…. yet Armitage does has a wealth of knowledge and some healing powers. Perhaps this messed up world needs him… for now.

Mercury used to be a professional torturer and she’s an expert on EBEs, these extra biological entities. So she’s a pretty interesting character that has had an intense career path. In this book, she continues to grow with some training in the magical arts. She’s done all she can for John as a doctor (of sorts) short of killing him (if that’s possible). Perhaps the magical arts are the only way to assist John in controlling or containing his mutation.

I’m interested in seeing how things turn out for the side character Jackie Howard. She’s the teen-aged adopted daughter of John and Mercury and she’s half ghoul. Yes, ghoul. Like Richard Jameson from Book 1, she likes human flesh. But she’s cool. Don’t worry. Donated meat only. There’s this great scene between her and John where John is explaining why they are leaving her behind instead of taking her on this insanely dangerous mission. Lots of great lines in that scene where Jackie acknowledges that John & Mercury care while also calling them on their BS.

Jessica O’Reilly, John’s previous girlfriend, shows up later in the book, as well as his ex-wife. As if that doesn’t make his life complicated enough, his ex-wife is a psychic and she can tell that John is hiding his true nature from all but his closest companions. John also has a bit of a crisis of conscious when he and his team end up in a kind of paradise that relies on slave labor. John was a slave for about a year previously, so he has some strong feelings on the subject. Yet this labor pool is made up of these squid faced entities that could happily slaughter all humans planet wide if they were inclined to… and weren’t being held in slavery. So he’s got 99 problems along with his love life.

The ending was complete with great imagery and phrases like, ‘We must summon Cthulhu!’. There’s plenty of drama and yet things work out. I hope we get another book in this series because there’s plenty more for John to explore even as he goes through his own evolution.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer really shows off his skills with this book. This story is full of lots of nearly unpronounceable names such as Nyarlathotep and Shak’ta’hadron and Kafer has to pronounce them all with consistency and accuracy throughout the book. There’s also plenty of crazy cult ramblings in a nearly unpronounceable language, which Kafer makes the characters sound fluent in. I was impressed by the dexterity of this tongue multiple times throughout this book. He’s great at keeping the characters distinct and also imbuing the text with emotion as needed.

What I Liked: Great cover art; great narration; I just love this wild weird west thing happening in Massachusetts; Mercury’s a great character; Jackie could become a very interesting character; John’s internal battle with whatever is taking over; the answer to the slavery issue John faces.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is a great sequel to Book 1!

What Others Think:

Shoggoth.net

Beauty in Ruins

The Audio Book Reviewer

Brian’s Book Blog

The Science of Supervillainy by C. T. Phipps

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Amber Cove Publishing (2017)

Length: 6 hours 5 minutes

Series: Book 4 The Supervillainy Saga

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 4 in the series and it works best if you have read the previous books.

Gary Karkofsky, a professional supervillain, is up against some serious foes. President Omega has brainwashed the mighty USA military while Gary’s doppelganger from another reality has all of Gary’s abilities and most of his knowledge. Gary, aka Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy, might have to do the unthinkable. He might have to become that thing he dreads most: a hero.

The gang’s all back and for some of them, we get a bonus copy. For ease, the doppelganger Gary from another reality will be called Other Gary. This book was just as much fun as the previous books in the series, though I feel it has a touch more seriousness (which I liked). Gary is still popping off one-liners, there’s plenty of Star Wars references, and the crazy supervillain outfits & names continue to be amusing. Also, if you’re a Phipps fan, you might catch a few references to his other series here and there.

Mandy, Gary’s vampire wife, has a lot of great lines in this book. Several of the characters make references to adult relationships that don’t fit the standard married couple routine. Mandy’s extended life and need for blood has given her an extra spin on such relationships and I have to wonder where Mandy and Gary will take their relationship from here. Is there a harem in the future? Maybe….

Both El Diablo Man and Cloak have some serious chats with Gary. There’s a few points in this tale where things get a little heavy. Take for instance young Gizmo. She’s definitely going to need a parent around. Also, Phipps kills off a favorite character of mine (though I do hold a secret hope that this character will return in some sort of form).

Some of my favorite scenes were actually in the first part of the book. Gary and Mandy are being held in a warped prison where they and everyone else there are under this mindcontrol. It’s a cruel version of happy home-makers from the 1950s, complete with period outfits and enforced gender roles. Mandy has some great lines about blood and mayhem said in the sweetest happy significant other voice. Luckily, Night Girl comes along and helps them escape but it’s at a cost.

All around, it’s another great addition to the series. I like the few scenes that bend toward seriousness. It bodes of bigger things to come for Gary. Bigger things that may very well squish him.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer Is just great at this series. His enjoyment of these characters comes through in his performance. He makes a great Gary/Other Gary and I love his snarky voice for Cindy. He’s great at pulling off all the humor while also making the characters sound very concerned when they come up against a worthy foe.

What I Liked: Love the cover art; great narration; awesome brainwashed 1950s scenes; Mandy’s take on relationships; all the humor and nerdom references; Gary’s quandary of becoming a hero to take out a foe; Gizmo.

What I Disliked: Nothing! This was very fun!

What Others Think:

The Bookwyrm Speaks

The Audiobook Reviewer

The Blogin’ Hobgoblin

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Agent G: Infiltrator by C. T. Phipps

Scroll to the bottom for the Giveaway!

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Amber Cove Publishing (2017)

Length: 6 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 1 Agent G

Author’s Page

Agent G is one of 26 hitmen for hire, working for the International Refugee Society (IRS). His memories of his previous life were wiped away even as cyber enhancements were installed. With the promise of restoring his memories, Agent G patiently works off his time for the IRS. His current mission is to infiltrate the opposition, the Carnivale, which is run by Caesar and his family. However, a mole within the IRS is making this a tricky, and possibly deadly, assignment.

Once again, Phipps brings me quality entertainment. This was a very fun read that had just enough seriousness to make me care about the characters and their fates. As Agent G wonders what kind of man he was before his time with the IRS, I too hoped he would find out and that it would be good for him. Each agent is assigned a handler (or personal assistant) and Marissa is assigned to Agent G. The two have a connection on a personal level. Marissa, like the Agents, has also had her memories wiped and has been enhanced to some extent by the IRS. However, she is much more replaceable than Agent G, so he sometimes worries about jeopardizing her life.

Besides the great characters, there’s plenty of fancy tech for us cyberpunk fans. Weapons, drugs, and criminal intrigue permeate this story. Agent G has plenty of mods and many of them come into play as he tries to wend his way through this double crossing, mole infested plot.

I also really enjoyed the ‘bad guys’, some of which are truly bad guys. Caesar and his adult kids bring out another side to Agent G, especially when he has to allow himself to be seduced. Yep, there’s a few sexytimes scenes sprinkled throughout the book. They were fine though not terribly erotic. That’s OK because Agent’s G’s sex appeal is written all over him with his competency and focus.

All around, it was a very fun listen and I look forward to seeing where Phipps takes this story next.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is still one of my favorite narrators. He has the perfect voice for Agent G. It’s a touch gravelly but still sounds like a man in his 30s. I liked his mild Italian accent for the Casesar. Also his voice for Persephone (one of the people in charge at the IRS) was clipped and domineering, just like I pictured her.

What I Liked: Great cyberpunk spy hitman story; great narration; Agent G’s developed character; Agent G’s desire to get his memories back; the mole; infiltrating the Carnivale.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was awesome brain candy!

What Others Think:

 The Blogin’ Hobgoblin

The Audio Book Reviewer

Brian’s Book Blog

Timothy C. Ward

GIVEAWAY!!!

Phipps is generously offering up 3 Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of Agent G: Infiltrator. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer this question in the comments: Do you have an Audible.com or Audible.co.uk account? Giveaway ends May 16th, 2017 at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audiobook Giveaway! The Worlds of C. T. Phipps

Welcome audiofiles! It is my pleasure to have Charles Phipps on the blog once again! He’s already released 4 new audiobooks this year and his latest three are up for grabs in this giveaway! Want to know more about the mind behind these entertaining stories? Then check out his Dab of Darkness interview. To enter the giveaways, scroll all the way to bottom. Phipps is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of each of the 3 books, via Audible.com and Audible.co.uk. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book.

Now here’s something new from Phipps – Agent G: Infiltrator. It’s a delicious spy flick with some future tech, betrayals, and a conflicted main character. The notorious Jeffrey Kafer narrates this book.

In a world where virtually any death can be bought for the right price, follow the path of a high-tech assassin searching for answers to questions he shouldn’t be asking along with his next target. Agent G is a Letter, one of the Society’s 26 weapons for hire.

Unfortunately for the Society, G is starting to think for himself.

Unfortunately for G, he’s in the middle of infiltrating a rival organization and is running out of people he can trust.

Audible ~ Amazon

 Ah ha! I was hoping there would be a sequel to Cthulhu Armageddon. Now here it is! The Tower of Zhaal is out! Narrated by the nefarious Jeffrey Kafer.

It has been a year since John Henry Booth’s exile from New America and the fall of the Black Cathedral. Cursed with a slow transformation into a monster, he has begun a doomed relationship with fellow escapee Mercury Halsey as they seek some way to arrest his transformation.

Dubious hope arrives in the form of the University, the deranged scientists and cultists descended from the staff of Miskatonic University. Except their offer of help comes at a price. Having sold themselves to ancient aliens called the Yith, they wish John and Mercury to join a group of rogues in hunting down a wayward member of their faculty: a man who intends to release the last of the sleeping Great Old Ones on an already ravaged planet. If they’re telling the truth, John and Mercury will be heroes. If.

The Tower of Zhaal is the second novel of the Cthulhu Armageddon series, a post-apocalyptic continuation of H.P. Lovecraft’s popular Cthulhu Mythos.

Audible ~ Amazon

Yes! The fourth book is out! The Science of Supervillainy – I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I look forward to seeing what happens next to Gary Karkofsky and Falcon Crest City. Narrated by the infamous Jeffrey Kafer.

Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy (TM) returns in the fourth volume of the popular Supervillainy Saga. Having discovered the world’s greatest superhero slain by his doppelganger from another reality, Merciful: The Supervillain with Mercy (TM), and the arrogant President Omega, Gary dedicates himself to overthrowing both. Unfortunately, this is harder than it looks since Merciful has all of Gary’s genre savviness while President Omega has the entire brainwashed United States military behind him. In the end, though, there can be only one ruler of the world and two of these three feuding villains will have to go.

Audible ~ Amazon

Places to Find C. T. Phipps

Blog

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Phipps is generously offering up 3 Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of each of the 3 books. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Which book(s) are you interested in? Do you have an Audible.com or Audible.co.uk account? Giveaway ends May 16th, 2017 at midnight.

Agent G: Infiltrator Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tower of Zhaal Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Science of Supervillainy Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: The Secrets of Supervillainy by C. T. Phipps

PhippsTheSecretsOfSupervillainyScroll to the bottom to check out the audiobook giveaway!

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: James Steven Bernheimer (2016)

Length: 6 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Supervillainy Saga

Author’s Page

Note: This book really works best if you’ve read the previous two books.

Set almost 1 year after the ending of Book 2, The Games of Supervillainy, Gary returns to continue the nefarious fight as Merciless, the Supervillain without Mercy! The end of Book 2 left Gary’s wife, Mandy, in a bit of a lurch. She’s now a blood sucking soulless vampire and no one wants to hang out with her. Gary has continued his search for a way to bring back Mandy’s soul but hasn’t had any luck. At least, not until Death rears her ugly head once again and makes an offer Gary can’t refuse. Earth’s greatest hero has died and Death wants Gary to hunt down the killer. In exchange, she offers to bring one soul back from the abyss.

Of course, Gary be the single-minded, bull-headed, stubborn idiot that he is, he can’t refuse. Even as he strives to solve this case to bring back his wife’s soul, he comes to realize he has deep romantic feelings for his long-time friend and current henchwench, Cindy. To complicate matters, his ex-girlfriend Gabrielle (AKA Ultragoddess) is also on scene bringing up old feelings.

Besides Gary’s complicated love life, there’s plenty of action, snark, and pop culture references. I personally enjoyed the references to one of Phipps’s other books, Esoterrorism. Gary has plenty of friends doing their best to keep his stupidity from killing him. Cloak is always handing out advice whether you want it or not. El Diablo Man and his luchadero mask! So funny! One of the newest supervillains is the Fruitbat. Yep. Every time he was mentioned, I had to giggle. Besides Gary’s friends and coworkers, we meet his niece and his mom. His niece wants to join the family business but Gary firmly insists she’s too young for it. Meanwhile, his mom sees dead people; in fact, most of her good friends are dead.

With the help of some time travel shenanigans, things get twisted and weird – all in a good way. Honestly, it’s the humor and the costumes that keep this plot together and amusing. I was laughing throughout the book. The Supervillain/Hero names, costumes, and powers were always amusing to me even if Gary did not find them so. I also enjoyed the flashbacks, several of which explored Gary’s former relationship with Gabrielle.

Besides Gary, Cindy is my favorite character. She’s a villain to be sure, but she does have scruples and she is loyal to her friends. I love picturing her in her Red Riding outfit, a basket full of weapons. Yes, I would not want to tick Cindy off! Her wit and humor, often inappropriate, had me laughing the most. If Gary doesn’t hook up with her then I might just see if she’s free for beer.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer makes a great Gary the Merciless once again. I also continue to like his voice for Cindy with it’s regional accent. There were a few emotional scenes in this book (like when Gary meets with his parents and such) and Kafer did a great job of portraying those emotions. 

What I Liked: Time travel; the costumes; the awesome supervillain/hero names; Gary’s complicated love life; all the humor; great narration; gorgeous cover art.

What I Disliked: There’s this tiny little thing that’s bothering me. Gabrielle/Ultragoddess is African American but on the this book cover she appears Caucasian. I need to verify with the author…. Perhaps Ultragoddess can change her skin tone? If so, I missed that little bit of superhero powers in the story.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

My World… in words and pages

Pulled It Outta My Ass

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Best & Worst of 2016

2016 is finally over! It was a tough year for me, even right up to the end where I caught a nasty holiday bug. I did read a lot of great books last year. According to my Goodreads profile, I read 208 books, nearly 100 less than the year before. I blame my new found love of Netflix bingewatching for that. Here are my favorite 11 books of the year, in no particular order (no counting rereads).

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRising

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ClineReadyPlayerOne

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

ButcherSkinGame

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Tofu will help me hide the bodies.
Tofu will help me hide the bodies.

Anne Manx on Amazonia by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxOnAmazonia

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

PriestChapelwood

The Green Children by Domino Finn

FinnTheGreenChildren

Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas (Jonathan Shade #3)

JonasDragonGate

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Kiera Gillett

GillettZariaFierceAndTheEnchantedDrakelandSword

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Chupa being weird.
Chupa being weird.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddon

I did some rereads this past year – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (yep, from the beginning), Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (I’ve been reading with a great group of on-line friends and we’re up to Book 7 now), Dune by Frank Herbert (just because it’s awesome), Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney (I read this in paperback some years ago but now it’s available as an audiobook and it is incredibly well done).

Here are the top 3 books that didn’t do it for me:

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

WardLoverEternal

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

ColeAHungerLikeNoOther

Hair Power by Piers Anthony

AnthonyHairPower

I also joined a romance book club. I’ve never really enjoyed romance novels. I don’t mind if a book has romance in it but the main plot has to be something more than finding true love or getting laid for me to really enjoy it. So, I thought perhaps I was wrong in binning romance books all together and pretty much ignoring them. With that in mind, I joined this lovely group of people and gave the romance genre a real shot at winning my heart. We read several paranormal and urban fantasy romances, a few contemporary romances (some with suspense and one with BDSM), and 1 historical fiction romance. In general, I was underwhelmed. Some of the books did exceed my expectations and for romance novels they were good, but none of them made it into my top 50. Let me slightly amend that. I had the opportunity to host twice, which means I picked the book we read. Both times I picked books I had not previously read and one of them was Darkness Haunts by Susan Ilene. There is no romance in this novel. There’s a spattering of flirting, but that is all. While several people enjoyed it (including me), it does not count as a romance novel. Obviously, I’m not a good host for a romance book club but the group was great about it.

Also here are some of my notable firsts for 2016:

My first Stephen King novel – 11-22-63

King112263

My first Star Wars novel – Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Guess which side of the Force Chupacabr is on?
Guess which side of the Force Chupacabra is on?

My first Podiobooks audiobook – Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph

JosephMarkerStone

My first Kurt Vonnegut novel – Cat’s Cradle

VonnegutCatsCradleTofu

As 2016 ends, I am looking forward to a better year in 2017. I spent all of 2016 sick and most of it on bed rest. It took quite some time and many doctors to get diagnosed. I now know that I have CTEPH and in February I will be in San Diego having PTE surgery to hopefully correct the issue. It’s a major surgery and I could be in the hospital recovering for up to 20 days. So if Dab of Darkness goes dark between Ground Hog’s Day and Valentine’s Day, it’s just me laid up in a hospital recovering. Life should get better after that surgery and I’m just really looking forward to being on the other side of it. 24/7 supplemental oxygen makes life rather boring, as I can now attest to.

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. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: The Games of Supervillainy by C. T. Phipps

PhippsTheGamesOfSupervillainyScroll to the bottom to check out the audiobook giveaway!

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Amber Cove Publishing (2016)

Length: 6 hours 55 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Supervillainy Saga

Author’s Page

In this excellent follow up to the The Rules of Supervillainy, Gary Karkofsky (AKA Merciless: The Villain Without Mercy) has returned from the Moon prison to find Falconcrest City over run with zombies. Yep. Freaking zombies. Add to that, it appears his wife was kidnapped. Merciless and his henchpeople set out to stop the Brotherhood of Infamy, rid Falconcrest of zombies, and rescue his wife. Nothing goes as planned.

Once again, there’s a ton of humor in this book. The characters all take their jobs very seriously and that makes the humor stand out. Most of them have ridiculous supervillain/hero names but some of them have cool powers. So it’s this wonderful balance of the silly and the serious.

It’s a good thing that Gary has his sidekick, Cloak, which is his actual cloak. Gary needs all the advice he can process and Cloak is definitely willing to dish it out. Cloak used to be a superhero and one could argue Cloak is still trying to be that hero even though he is tied to Merciless at the moment. This creates some tension for Gary, who is relying on Cloak’s powers part of the time, yet Gary (especially when he’s dressed as Merciless) isn’t nearly as goodie-two-shoes as Cloak.

Some new characters are introduced into the story (and some are killed shortly thereafter, but every good superhero story needs it’s Red Shirts). I loved all the Canadian superheros. A fit of giggles overtook me on that one. I’m married to a Canadian so that whole section struck me as super funny. Then we have the supervillain Angel Eyes. His sheer beauty can overwhelm most mortals. Much to Gary’s consternation (and my amusement), he finds Angel Eyes attractive.

Besides all the humor, there’s little bits of seriousness tossed in. Gary and Mandy have hit a rough patch in their relationship. There’s all these zombies tearing up their beloved city. Then the author kicks it up a notch and Gary and crew have to deal with gods from the underworld. Without spoiling anything, there were some unexpected twists to the story. I was stunned and also impressed. I’m so very glad the next book is already out in audio format so I can jump in and see what happens to these characters next!

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer continues to do an excellent job with this series. I’m really enjoying his voice for Cloak this time around. His Canadian accents were great. His voices for female characters are good. 

What I Liked: Zombies; Moon prison; great cover art; all the humor; Angel Eyes great powers; Mandy and Gary as a couple; the unexpected twists near the end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a really fun book.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

The Bloggin’ Hobgoblin

My World… in words and pages

Book Lover’s Life

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonNarrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2016)

Length: 8 hours 30 minutes

Author’s Page

The Old ones rose more than 100 years ago and humanity dwindled and fractured in their struggle to survive. John Henry is a highly trained ranger for one of the last ‘civilized’ cities. However, he lost his friends and his sanity (temporarily) while battling a one-time friend who had gone over to worshiping the Old Ones. Now he seeks vengeance for his dead friends and his own lost future.

This was a wonderful mix of wild weird west, post-apocalyptic, and creature feature. John Booth is an intense man and it was great to live this story through his character. Also, just a side note, it’s refreshing to have the main hero be non-Caucasian. Hooray for diversity in SFF! OK, so back to John. The story starts off with him and his small group of rangers heading out to find several children who had been kidnapped by Cthulhu-monster worshipers. Things go very, very wrong. John wakes up while being interrogated with his memory all fuzzy. Yeah, that sucks.

John goes on a quest of sorts to find out if all his ranger buddies are dead and to regain his lost memories. Specifically, he’s hunting for Jessica who was the last ranger standing with him before everything went blank. He needs the help of a skilled torturer, Mercury, if he’s going to be successful. John gets a few brief moments with his estranged wife Martha throughout the story. Then there is also an ex-lover of sorts that he and Mercury come upon later in the story. I really enjoyed the main female characters – they were so diverse and written so well. However, nearly all the ladies in this story had some sort of sexual/romantic interest or tie to John. I felt that was a little silly, but it was a very minor part of the story so I won’t let it detract from my enjoyment of the tale.

The Old Ones were gooey and deadly and scary and awe-inspiring. Phipps did a great job with these creatures from the beyond. There’s your typical squidhead Cthulhu-looking monsters, horrible bat-winged flyers, and things that defy description but the characters have to describe anyway. I want to see these things but not feel their wrath, so it’s a good thing I have John’s story to enjoy.

There’s plenty of action scenes but they are spaced out well with scenes that touch on dark humor or on deeper things. It’s not just humans versus the Old Ones but also human versus human all too often. There’s slavery and bigotry and government assigned marriages. Phipps has the start of a whole world to explore here. I especially liked Richard the ghoul. He brought in humor but also fed on corpses. No one’s perfect.

The story kept me guessing right up to the end. I really didn’t know if John would persevere. After all, the title does have the word ‘armageddon’ in it. I was definitely attached to John and several of the other characters so I really did care how things turned out. I was very satisfied with the ending and I am hoping Phipps gives us another story set in this world.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did a great job with this book, as I expected he would. He’s got the right voice for the main character, John. I also like his female voices, especially for Mercury in this book. She doesn’t have an ounce of tact and asks such personal questions so straightforwardly. He’s great at imbuing the characters with emotion as well. 

What I Liked: Great cover art; the world setting; Cthulhu monsters!; non-Caucasian hero; the female characters are plentiful and interesting; plenty of action; the hint of deeper waters in this story; had me guessing right up to the end; great narration.

What I Disliked: One tiny little thing – nearly all the ladies have a thing for John. 

What Others Think:

Grimdark Magazine

Audio Book Reviewer

Beauty in Ruins

Fantasy Book Critic

On A Dark Stormy Review

The Blog Goblin