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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Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesWhy I Read It: With a title like that, how could I turn it down?

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Haha! Well, anyone who needs a mystery, a laugh, and some questionable humor.

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (2013)

Length: 234 pages

Series: I really hope there is more to come…..

Author’s Page

A man wakes face down in a pool, staring at some submerged stone figures. Then he starts to notice things – like his lack of need for breath and the gaping hole in his chest. Eventually, he finds himself under a bridge with cardboard for a best friend. And that is when the other homeless name him Braineater while trying to kick the crap out of him. As he can’t remember who or what he was before waking up a zombie, he calls himself Braineater Jones. Of course, he wants to solve the mystery of his death and this leads him into the seedier side of life in 1934 Smalltown, America (actually a place called Ganesh). Prohibition is on it’s wobbly way out, but alas, is still in effect for his little town of other walking dead. So of course, he takes up a small apartment above the only speak easy for his kind as booze is the only thing that holds off the eventual dementia and brain cravings all of his kind suffer.

This was a fun romp through a small slice of history and the more indelicate side to being a walking, talking corpse. Taking elements from the Prohibition Era and detective noir, Kozeniewski has come up with something original. Filled with zombie humor and fast-paced, I looked forward to reading a few chapters each night. Braineater’s humor was also amusing, being a bit rough and crude. Hey, when you can inadvertently scratch a body part off while idly considering a bug on the ceiling the humor is bound to be a little crude.

In a neighborhood where one can be separated from one’s body parts, and still be able to wiggle them, the local cathouse has got to have a few new twists, right? I won’t give away anything, but I was not expecting that, nor was Braineater. So I had fun being surprised and a little wierded out with him. Specialty doctors can be paid to keep the dead looking recently deceased. And the living have an interest in the walking dead, sometimes leading to less than necessary experiments. Whatever turns a person zombie isn’t limited to the full-grown either – just check out The Old Man who runs the show at the zombie speak easy. There’s a reason he resides in a jar folks.

If I have any complaints, it is that the women had limited and predictable roles. While there are stereotypes for women of the 1930s, I had hoped that one or more of those ladies would have something more going on, something to surprise Braineater. But perhaps he couldn’t handle any more surprises in this book. Still, the language used in the book, such as the various words for one kind of woman or another, reflects the time period and that added to the detective noir ambiance of the book.

As the description of the book notes, there is a talking head sidekick (Alcibe) for part of the novel. Ever seen a talking zombie head eat? Hehe….yeah, don’t try to picture that. Alcibe had some of the most amusing circumstances, since he really only had the ability to kind of shrug-walk on his neck stump – or roll around.

I also liked that one of the characters swung one way in his breathing life and another way in his zombie life. The fluid sexuality of this character was handled well, and was really just a side note that simply added to the character, instead of overshadowing him.

Towards the end of the novel, the plot really ramps up. Braineater has been facing more than one opponent and he finally untangles the different threads of the mystery. His short stature doesn’t keep him from taking the challenge to the most nefarious of his opponents. And no, I was not expecting that ending but I quite liked it. And I want more. I really hope this is simply Book 1 in a series.

What I Liked: The cover; zombie bits and pieces – ugh!; booze keeps the zombies fresh and sane; the detective noir element; the ending was great; bisexuality is no big deal; the crude humor fit right in; the ending was satisfying.

What I Disliked: The women had predictable roles.

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