Golden, CO, United States | Member Since 2004
Mercy is, without a doubt, the strongest, smartest, most amazing heroine there is out there today. She went through hell in the last book, things no woman should ever have to go through. She is damaged, desperately. But, unlike other authors, she KNOWS it is not her fault, she stands up, brushes herself off, takes control, gives the blame for what happened to her to the person who did it to her, not accepting the blame for herself. She relies on her friends to help her make it through. She knows that it will take time for her to heal, but she is willing to do the work to help heal herself. She is strong, smart, and did I say, amazing???
If you love strong urban fantasy, a main character who doesn't whine, doesn't blame herself for the actions of others, and can kick fanny and take names, you are going to adore Mercy.
The story moves forward beautifully in this book, and doesn't fail to continue the story in a wonderful manner. You get much more insight into Mercy's family, her friends and the world building continues to amaze. Mercy and Joanne Walker are my absolute favorite characters in urban fantasy today, and Lorelei King IS Mercy. I own the printed copies, but Lorelei assures that I spend much more time listening than reading. I TOTALLY DISAGREE with those who say Lorelei isn't a wonderful narrator for Mercy - she has a beautiful voice, clear and beautiful.
It IS IMPORTANT to read the books in order, and I can guarantee you that the investment is worth it. If you love them as much as me, every time you want to go back and read wonderful books over again, these are definitely the ones to go back to.
Mercy is not your typical female heroine. First off, she never intended to be a heroine. She is more interested in keeping her Volkswagen repair shop running, paying her bills, and living a quiet life in her 70's model trailer with her Manx cat. Oh, yea, and tormenting the werewolf in her back yard. The Alpha werewolf. Uh huh. Well, she WAS raised by werewolves herself, by the Maraq, in fact, the leader of all the werewolves in the US. A pretty good feat for a woman who shifts into a coyote. This books starts working out the whole Alpha thing, and it is fun, funny and keeps Mercy strong rather than making her weak, as some UF authors do to their heroines.
What develops is one of the more well developed series in UF. When Mercedes, or Mercy as she is called (yep. A Volkswagen mechanic named Mercedes) takes in a new, young, isolated werewolf, her life takes a new, and dangerous turn, leading her back into a life she thought she had left far behind.
Next to Kate Daniels (Ilona Andrews 'Kate Daniels' series) Mercy is one of the best realized female UF lead characters on the market today. She doesn't whine, cry, piss, moan, or otherwise turn into a whiny little boy-toy. As time goes along, you can see a romance coming on, but like Kate, Mercy's story is about the story, not about the smex. Thank goodness..... I like a good love scene as well as anyone else, but I am MUCH more interested in the story. There are none of the "seedy, ridiculous sexual encounters" (thanks to Leslie Sims of Denver for that little snippet) that are so common in other supposedly UF stories (read "the label says UF, and there are a few weird characters in there, but it is mostly about the sexual encounters).
I have read the whole series multiple times (there is nothing like reading a strong female character when you are feeling low!) and I am really looking forward to "Frost Burned" due out in 2013. I am rereading the series in order and have downloaded "Frost Burned" already - LOVE LOVE LOVE MERCY!!!!
Being a rabid Ilona Andrews fan I preordered Night Shift the moment it hit preorder status. I adore anthologies, and with both Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews as listed authors, I was so excited to receive it. There were two other authors in the anthology, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane, neither of which I had read before.
And this is why authors are brilliant to be involved in Anthologies, especially when they can be involved in them with more well-known authors. I may never have heard of Lisa Shearin before, but after reading Lucky Charms I knew I had to read more of her work.
"It was four in the morning. I was in a stolen bakery delivery truck that’d been nearly totaled by three gargoyles. In the truck with me were two hung-over elves, a pair of stoned leprechauns with the munchies, a naked Russian werewolf, and a hot partner, who was actually more of a bodyguard, in a race against a goblin dark mage to retrieve a leprechaun prince with a tracking chip embedded in his left ass cheek. "
Six hours earlier:
“How the hell did you lose five horny leprechauns in a strip club?”
What is NOT to love?!?! I immediately went out and purchased The Grendel Affair on Audible. Hey, it is narrated by Johanna Parker. The main character, Makenna Fraser, is a good-ole’ Southern girl, and Johanna’s southern voice is perfect for the character. Having first listened to Johanna in the Sookie Stackhouse Series, I follow her on Audible and give serious consideration to any books she narrates, just as I do with any books that are narrated by Renée Raudman, Khristine Hvam, Will Patton or . . . well, I have a list of narrators that I follow!
Makenna Fraser features in The Grendel Affair as well. Lucky Charms, the story in Night Shift seems to be a prologue to the SPI Files series. The second in the series, The Dragon Conspiracy (SPI Files), comes out January 27th, and I will be waiting impatiently for the Audible edition! I love the mythology of the SPI Files. A hidden paramilitary police force policing the supernaturals, which of course the human population knows nothing of. Yes, that concept has been used before, but when well done, it is the underpinning of many a truly marvelous story. In New York, just before New Year’s Eve, Grendels have been released, and are picking off both supernats and humans – leading up to what their leader intends to be a Times Square slaughter, ripping the blinders off the human population in a gory paean to carnage and chaos. It is up to the SPI to stop the Grendels (yes, just like in Beowulf) before the world is turned into a mythological nightmare. (Really, people – do you truly not understand that humans have a wee bit of an arsenal built up? Like, enough to destroy the world several times over? Sort of hard to fight a Predator missile with a Predator’s claws . . . Ah, the dreams of glory of a psychopath with a God complex.)
Makenna is a great heroine, mostly for the fact that she really isn’t a ‘heroine’ at all. Rather, she is a newspaper reporter who found herself thrust into the SPI because she is a seer – she can see underneath the veils that supernats wear to make them appear human. And her particular skill-set may be the only thing that can save the world from the planned chaos and slaughter. She is no Mary Sue – she makes mistakes, grave ones, but fumbles along the best she can under extremely difficult situations, helping and being helped by her new colleagues. Terror, sadness and guilt all hound her, but there are truly funny moments as well.
Lisa Shearin has another series, starring Raine Benares, which begins with Magic Lost, Trouble Found: Raine Benares, Book 1. One of my Audible credits will be grabbing this one soon!
I purchased the books listing in this review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please “Like” them on Amazon.com and/or Audible.com. Thanks you!
This was my first introduction to Elizabeth Hunter, and I am so happy that I found her through a book blogging friend of mine. I listened to the Audible edition, narrated by Liisa Ivary, and this is just another example of how a good narrator can take a good book and make it even better. Her smooth delivery led me through the book, introducing me to the characters and the world in a smooth and well-modulated way.
The story itself introduces us to Cambio Springs, a shifter town – a dying town since the military base closed down. Without something good happening, the town will disappear, and the safety of its inhabitants as well. A bar, a small school, and a tiny café are about it. Seven extended families started the town when one of their number had a vision of a crow flying over hot springs. And one of those springs is very, very special.
Jena Crowe is a single mother, trying to keep her two boys fed and a roof over all their heads. After losing her husband three years ago she is lonely, but so busy she has no time to make any changes to that situation. Here comes Caleb Gilbert, the new Police Chief – a normal, apparently. Well, maybe not.
The story is interesting, the mythology well written, and it kept my attention quite well. There are some congruency issues that should have been caught by the editor, but they weren’t enough to be completely irritating. As another reviewer pointed out the Caleb character was pretty dumb at times – an officer who makes the kind of mistakes he makes is a dead man – clearly illogical for someone with his background. I really enjoyed the world building the most about the book. Interesting world building, to me, is just as important as character development. Ms. Hunter does just that.
I will be trying out her other books when I get a chance. I picked up A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries, Book 1 narrated by Dina Pearlman. Right now it is on sale at Audible for $1.99, what a great deal!
The Windigo stories, it is surmised, came out of the fear of dwindling supplies and starvation. Underlying fear that glimmers in Windigo stories is the constantly desperate struggle to survive – food ran out, the weather was prohibitive, cannibalism was an inevitable result. There is nothing worse than being alone, cold and hungry – the mind begins to play tricks. As a result, Windigo became this huge creature, 20-30′ feet high, with a block of ice surrounding it, particularly its heart, he was lipless, great bloody fangs, and bloody feet, hissing breath you could hear for miles, great speed and supernatural strength. – Shannon Thunderbird, M.A., Gispudwada Tribe – An Interview with Thunderbird About Windigo
Life in the wilds of Alaska can be not only hard, but deadly. Bitter cold and starvation are very real, and loneliness in this bitter landscape can drive even the most stable beyond madness. When Caleb’s plane goes down in the backcountry, his cousin Logan knows that he must reach him as quickly as possible if he is to have any chance of surviving. However, what he finds when he finally locates Caleb at an old trapper’s cabin proves that sometimes, survival isn’t for the best.
Lucas McWilliams has written an action/thriller with researched elements of Windigo legend. Of course, the Windigo is not just a Native American legend, but rather an archetype settled within the collective unconscious of humanity, harkening back to a time when humans huddled together in fear of the dark. The dark is inherent in this particular tale, on many levels – from the Windigo to the modern day military political machine.
The research on the Seneca and the Windigo myth is good, and the overall storyline showed promise. Personally, as a Native Quapaw, I was uncomfortable with the “prototypical Native American Mythos/Character” developed by the author. It is easy for a non-native author to gather up legends and weave them into their books. It is harder to not fall into the trap of creating such a clichéd stereotype as to insult the very people you are writing about.
This is, in my opinion of course, a book geared towards teenaged male ideology.
The women in the book are weak and hypersexual, falling into bed with the lead character without a whimper, no matter how badly he treats them. Though there is a supposed relationship between the lead and one of the female characters, he has no problem with having sex with other women on a whim, encouraging the idea that “real men” don’t do honesty. The action is well enough written, but again, the stereotypes in the book were uncomfortable for me. There are highly unrealistic happenings in what should be the “realistic” parts of the book, but the horror portions make up for it. Overall, though I am a huge fan of Joe Hill, Matthew Reilly, James Rollins, Richard Matheson and other action adventure and horror writers, I couldn’t really compare this book with any of my favorites.
Maybe because I had issues with the Windigo portion of the tale, but also because of the misogynistic bent. Be that as it may, for a certain audience this book will definitely appeal.
I received this book from Audiobooks Monthly in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
My consuming lust was to experience their bodies. I viewed them as objects, as strangers. It is hard for me to believe a human being could have done what I've done. - Jeffrey Dahmer
We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow - Ted Bundy (Lady Killer)
Author: Sidney Williams
Rating: 3 Stars
We live in isolation. The 1950’s really started the whole “Nuclear Family” phenomenon. Mother, father, children, living in isolation, grandparents and the rest of the extended family in their own little isolated pods as well. But, what happens when the Nuclear family itself goes nuclear? And what happens to the children… Nobody ever told the story of the kids, after . . Because sometimes, those families contain monsters.
The setting of Midnight Eyes is one that I truly enjoy. The swamps of southern Louisiana are the perfect setting for a serial murder mystery, with its slow, deliberate pace, brutal wet heat and the scents of swamp water and death, magnolia and rot. As you enter the swamps, it is through the past, as a serial killer strikes and then disappearing, leaving a town and its sheriff shell-shocked and the sheriff embittered for the remainder of his life.
Now, many years later the murders are happening again. Murders of such horror and brutal viciousness that the mutilation of the victims while still alive horrifies even a hardened FBI Criminal Profiler who specializes in serial killers.
I found the pace of the story somewhat uneven, but still compelling as everyone from reporters to private detectives reach for what one can only call a twisted sort of glory as they track the monster in their midst.
Readers of “true crime” might actually enjoy the story as the author utilizes his own experience as a journalist to make the setting and characters as realistic as possible.
I would give the actual tale a solid four on a scale of one to five. The narrator, however, was embarrassingly substandard. He droned (my housemate came in while I was listening and asked me if I was listening to a lecture by the world’s most dry, boring high school history teacher. Remember those? The ones who made the most fascinating periods of history put you to sleep? So much so, she said, that it would turn her completely off audio books as a whole if she were forced to the whole 16 h 53 min. Yep. That long. Ugh.) And when a narrator cannot even bring himself to learn proper pronunciation of family names or cities, the author should know s/he has a problem. Overall, I would not recommend the audio edition; I would go straight to the print edition. That would be worth reading.
I received this book from Audiobooks Monthly in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. My review is printed in Audiobook Monthly, however, this is the full review, including my Narration review.
Cassandra "Cassie" Van Deene is a smart, artistic filmmaker who takes the Sundance Film Festival by storm. Ka-ching!! Her career is bright and shining and the world is her oyster. Well, for about five minutes. Then she meets Mitchel Thantos. Yep, he is gorgeous, rich, and rides a real white stallion. What is to dislike?
Weelllllll . . . how about if your brand new hubby is Plague? Yep, that Plague. Oh, man! Of course, she doesn't know she is married to Plague. Not at first. But when her security cameras pick up Mitchel turning to a deaths head figure on that same white stallion - on the apartment balcony at that - it is time to run, run quickly Padawan!! For when all the divorce court judges come down with horrific diseases, it takes a bit of cosmic ingenuity to keep away from the homicidal brothers of the Apocalypse long enough to exorcize her preternatural hubby.
Michael Angel is hysterical. He mixes mythology, modernity and comedy in an immensely enjoyable tale of whacked out, obsessively possessive immortals, other immortals who have actual day jobs (Circe works the Las Vegas strip) and a strong, funny heroine with tons of attitude and guts. When you are being chased around the West by War, Famine, Plague and Death, well, you really have to be rather gutsy, wouldn't you think?
And Gin Hammond does a kickin' job as the narrator! I will listen to this many more times than once . . . how cool is that?
Highly, highly recommended for fantastical humor!
Dayna Chrissie is the lead Crime Scene Analyst for the LAPD, and from the perspective of a former crime scene analyst, I found myself breaking out in laughter at just how apt our first introduction to Dayna is. Michael Angel really “gets it.” CSI may be “sexy” to the television watching public – but it really isn’t sexy in real life!
As Dayna arrives at the crime scene where we first meet her, she cracked me up right away. First, we have the idiotic politico, Deputy Chief McClatchy, whose response to the murder in question is to send beat cops swarming all over the crime scene, stomping any possible evidence into the ground, and telling the “scene techies” to “Hurry up, we’ve got real work to do,” is spot on, and her response to him, which has him running for a puke bucket, is hysterical. Then there is her description of her crime scene wear; ‘the overall which assures that her hips stay slim and the cottage cheese stays off her thighs,’ because, damn those things are hot, and her “Stompy Gothic Boots of Doom” (They wouldn’t win any awards on the fashion runway. But they would keep corpse juices out of my socks.) Angel caught my attention right away. If you can make me laugh and identify with the main character that quickly, you have my attention. And Angel never lost it.
This particular scene is an odd case, to say the least. Peculiar clothing is only the start. Besides bullet wounds, there is a huge, charcoaled hole in the middle of his chest and Dayna has no idea how it was caused. Add that to “python-like” patterning all over his face and upper body, well, he is a puzzle wrapped inside a riddle, forensics wise.
Oh, but this isn’t the oddest thing. Oh, no. For Dayna finds an odd gold coin inside the body – a gold coin that transports her to another world. Oh, and what a world! I was tempted to say that Centaur of the Crime could be described as Alice in Wonderland Meets CSI but that is doing Dayna a disservice. She is a strong, competent, take-no-crap woman (hey – if you are a woman in a police position, you have to be all those things – just breathing the testosterone in air can cause unwarranted beard growth!) But she is also kind, understanding and very, very intelligent. A balanced character that I couldn’t help but admire.
Pulled into another world to solve the murder of a king, Dayna takes the transition well. She doesn’t go hysterical and flighty when she realizes she is surrounded by centaurs and “The Parliament” (wait till you meet these creatures – they are wonderfully written) and tasked with an investigation that no one here thinks can be done. Especially not by a woman from another world.
I loved this book. The fantasy aspects, the world building, as well as the creative development of the species and their various aspects. I have read what I would call “modern-day day fairy tales” before, and this one is at the top of my list of favorites. Enough so that I am dying to see the second volume, The Deer Prince’s Murder, come out on Audible. I am also adding some of his other works, especially The Detective and the Unicorn, to my Audible library.
Of course, a narrator can make, or break, an Audible recording. In this case, I was very disappointed by the narrator, Katrina Carmody. Narrators should understand that they are creating a piece of performance art with every book that they read, and Carmody does a less than acceptable job. As another reviewer, Busy Reader from New York New York put it in their Audible.com review: The pacing was terrible, the characters all sounded the same (with the exception of one character, which had an Irish accent, which would have been fine except that she used this accent for the Hispanic character, who otherwise didn’t have accent); she mispronounced very basic words, sometimes used the wrong words which changed the meaning, and even left words out (I checked with the e-book). Where was the director?
Drove. Me. NUTS. Yes, I have heard worse, but she is far, far from the best. How can a professional narrator care so little for her work product? And how can the production company expect to retain business when they’re offering is so poorly done?
Other than the disappointing narration, I would highly recommend Centaur of the Crime to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel with centaurs, griffins, and other fantasy creatures. And if you also like procedurals, Angel has a good grasp on that aspect also, so it is all good! Highly recommended.audible
About Michael Angel
Michael Angel’s worlds of fiction range from the unicorn-ruled realm of the Morning Land to the gritty ‘Fringe Space’ of the western Galactic Frontier. He’s the author of the bestselling Centaur of the Crime – where C.S. Lewis meets CSI. His books populate shelves in languages from Russian to Portuguese.
Michael currently resides in Southern California. Alas, despite keeping a keen eye out for griffins, centaurs, or galactic marshals, none have yet put in an appearance on Hollywood Boulevard.
My review of "No Wake Zone" by Linda Lovely was published in Audiobook Monthly Magazine! Like Dream Student by J.J. DiBenedetto my review was featured in Volume 2 of this wonderful new magazine.
And here is my review of "No Wake Zone":
"In the nearer term, I think various developments in biotechnology and synthetic biology are quite disconcerting. We are gaining the ability to create designer pathogens, and there are these blueprints of various disease organisms that are in the public domain – you can download the gene sequence for smallpox or the 1918 flu virus from the Internet." -Nick Bostrom
"Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire." – Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Marley is more than ready for a vacation. After her adventures in "Dear Killer", the first in the Marley Clark mystery series, going home to visit her 79-year-old feisty aunt May and her much-loved cousin Ross in small-town Iowa seems just the thing to relax. Boy, has Marley got it wrong.
Volunteering at the last-minute to waitress for Cousin Ross on his double-decker excursion boat, “The Queen”, Marley is surprised to find that the wedding reception for local billionaire Jake Olsen is to celebrate his marriage to her best friend from college, Darlene Sherbert. But the surprises don’t stop there as Marley witnesses Jake flying over the stern of the Queen and into the icy Okoboji lake waters. Diving to the rescue Marley, a 52-year-old retired Army colonel, finds herself not thanked for her attempted rescue, but instead relegated to leading the suspect list. What’s a retired Army intelligence officer to do, but investigate?
Convoluted, vicious family battles over the will lead police on a wild chase, as family members drop dead one after the other. Things get worse when one of Marley’s old enemies, Quentin Hamilton, arrives on the scene. Tasked with protecting not only Jake, but also his biotech empire, losing his client is sure to drive Hamilton wild. And who better to subject to his ire than Marley, whose recommendation he believes cost Hamilton an important military contract?
While furiously jealous heirs brawling over a billion dollar inheritance seems the most logical reason for bodies falling left, right, and sideways, all is not as it seems. For the situation is much direr than first assumed. Jake’s firm conducts biological materials research for the military – and missing materials are killing the heirs.
"Our conversation veered to the topic of scientific advances and their potential for good or evil."
With help from her cousin Ross, her former Pentagon boss, General Irvine, and FBI agent Sherry Weaver, Marley must help find the murderer before more die, and before the biologicals originally meant to save lives instead slaughter millions. At the same time Marley must protect her aunt, while also enjoying a blooming relationship with local attorney Duncan James.
What happens, and why, makes for an edge-of-your seat thrill ride which will keep you guessing. Linda Lovely balances suspense and thrills with a strong theme of family, both the good aspects and the bad. Marley is one of my new favorite heroines. Sure, she is a retiree, but she is still a vivacious and active woman, with a healthy sex drive to boot. Marley, all of us “Boomer Ladies” salute you!
I received No Wake Zone from the author via Audiobook Monthly in return for my honest review. As you can tell, I enjoyed the book immensely. I have spent hundreds of hours enjoying audio books, from literary classics like "Frankenstein" and "Little Women" to modern stories of the quirky, the romantic, the terrifying and everything in between. What is not to like? I can listen to my books while doing other things such as quilting or knitting, or even working in my flower beds. Or I can simply curl up in a chair with a quilt and a cup of tea, close my eyes, and enter a new and wonderful world.
The pleasure of an exceptional narrator can add further levels of enjoyment, actually making me part of the story. Sadly, the narrator for "No Wake Zone" falls into the “not as pleasurable” zone for this reader, however this is solely a case of personal preference.
Overall, I truly enjoyed Linda Lovely’s No Wake Zone and have purchased "Dear Killer" the first in the Marley Clark series. However, I purchased the electronic version rather than the Audible edition to increase my reading pleasure. I will also be watching closely for Ms. Lovely’s next Marley Clark adventure, "With Neighbors Like These."
I received No Wake Zone from Susan Keefe, CEO of Audiobook Monthly in return for a realistic review for her magazine. All thoughts are my own.
Check out the Linda’s commentary on Audiobookmonthly (dot) com
A native of Iowa, Linda Lovely has called the South home for more than thirty years. She lives with her husband beside a peaceful South Carolina lake, where she regularly perturbs the geese and one honking big turtle by jumping off her dock for a swim or pedaling (yes, pedaling not paddling) her kayak.
Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the South Carolina Writers Workshop. She feels quite lucky to have found both close friends and exceptional critique partners—snarky, funny, talented and generous—through these writer organizations.
My review of Dream Student by J.J. Dibenedetto was published in Audiobook Monthly Magazine!! How Cool Is That? And here is my review of Dream Student:
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. – Edgar Allan Poe
Sometimes I find it harder than at others to begin a book review. Normally, when I am done with a book I can hardly wait to sit down and begin writing. The words are already there in my head, waiting to spill out upon the page. Dream Student was different for some reason. Oh, I don’t mean that in a bad way. Far from it. To tell you the truth, given the capability, I would have this book placed into the hands of every high school girl out there, just to show them what they can achieve with their lives, should they merely try. Ludicrous, I suppose, but I would give a lot to have had Sara as an example growing up. And maybe that is why I had more difficulty starting this review. Is that longing I feel, or sadness at my own limited belief in myself at her age? Sara feels so very real . . .
Sara is a premed student, studying hard and spending time with her roommate Beth. Life is going good – her parents are awesome, though far away, her friends are all working hard right alongside her, and all is well as she begins studying for her MCATs. Only, things are beginning to go wrong.
For Sara is dreaming.
Sara rarely remembers her dreams. She has no idea that she’s had more or less the same dream two or three nights a week since the beginning of the semester.
Sara’s is a dreamscape, at first, of wandering the dreams of others. We all know those dreams – the ones where you show up for class in your underwear, or you dream of the cute guy in your biology class who doesn’t know you exist. And it is in her dreams where she first meets Brian, a student she doesn’t even know – but who is dreaming of her. At first, she doesn’t believe that what is happening could possibly be real. Until, that is, she actually meets Brian, a very real Brian who lives in the dorm next door. Meeting Brian is a wonderful thing. But as for the other dreams, well, Is there a word for dreams that are worse than nightmares?
But how can Sara believe her dreams are real? Why would she? She is a medical student after all, a logical, realistic woman with logical, realistic beliefs that leave no room for the “woo-woo” stuff. But then, as her dreams are brought to brutal reality, she knows that things are very much as they appear – dreams of horror, dreams of pain. And Sara, Brian and Beth are the only ones who can stop what is happening. But how?
Dream Student, pulled me in, kept my attention and didn’t let go. A blend of the logical and the absurd, the frightening and the hopeful, it kept me listening well into the night. I have to laugh, as I spent one evening, though a raging lightning storm, breathless as I followed Sara and her friends through terror. What better atmosphere?
I received Dream Student from the publisher in audio format, and while I would normally be thrilled to receive it in this manner, I do have to admit that I was quite disappointed with the audio quality. The narrator is Heather Jane Hogan, who has at least twenty different audio performances for Audible.com to her record. I can’t say that she is my favorite narrator, but she isn’t my least favorite by any means. This is simply a matter of taste. Her reading style is a bit childlike in style, but she is not a poor narrator. However, I was appalled by the substandard quality of the sound recording. Within the first few sentences I pulled up the other books in the series from the Audible site and listened to the clips. In my admittedly extensive experience with audiobooks, they are just as poorly recorded as this. The only way I could listen to the book was to ramp up the playback to 2x speed, otherwise the recording sounded like Ms. Hogan was either purposely recorded at quarter speed, or she was reading a lullaby to a fractious infant. Frustratingly, since I can’t speed up my tiny Sansa player, this tied me to my Nook for the nearly twelve hours of the recording. So, no gardening, sewing, or anything else while I was listening, as I couldn’t carry my Nook around strapped to my arm as I can with my Sansa. To say this was disappointing is somewhat of an understatement. The ability to listen to books while doing other things is the whole point of my obsession with Audio books – of which I have over two hundred.
While the recording quality is poor, I do highly recommend Dream Student, and I am looking forward to reading the others in the series. Sara is the girl I wish I could have been back when I was in college. She is strong, capable, loving and very much a role model for young women. The story is rather unusual in the writing style, dreamlike while remaining frank and honest – unusual but appealing. If it weren’t for the poor recording quality I would not hesitate to give it five out of five stars. As it is, if you don’t have an audio book reader which allows you to speed up the recording to at least 1.5, I would recommend that you indulge yourself with the e-book edition. Whichever format you choose, it is a book that is well worth spending your valuable reading time enjoying.
This book was provided to me by Audiobook Monthly Magazine. All thoughts and statements are my own.
I first came across Deanna Chase in 2012 with her book Haunted on Bourbon Street. The book, featuring Jade Calhoun, was set in New Orleans and features Jade, an empath, and a creative and interesting group of friends, including a couple of strip club owners, a coven, and couple of ghosts with very different agendas. Since then, I happily enjoyed both Witches of Bourbon Street and Demons of Bourbon Street. There are still two more (that I know of) in the series that I have already purchased and are sitting in my TBR pile waiting for their turn. And I am very much looking forward to them.
Influential Magic is also set in New Orleans, and is the first in a series subtitled Crescent City Fae. This new series stars Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void. Oh, and she is also a faery – complete with wings and flight capabilities. Well, when she isn’t around vampires, whose walking death drains her earth magic, and thus her life force. A very uncomfortable position to be in when your evil faery auntie, who is also the Director of the Void policing agency partners you with a vampire in order to investigate dastardly deeds by the local vampire corporation. Especially when that vampire happens to be your ‘used-to-be-human’ boyfriend. A boyfriend, who suddenly dumped you with a quick text message (jerk!), then turns up later turned – literally.
What happens to Willow in this volume of the Crescent City series is a neat bit of creative urban fantasy, but it also carries an undercurrent of politics and xenophobia which reflects what is happening in this world, this reality, even now. I am, admittedly, not a ‘vampire groupie’ as so many are these days. Been there, done that, would really like for that whole ‘cold, dead, walking corpses’ to be over already. I mean, come on – have you ever felt a real corpse? Gross. I couldn’t imagine kissing cold, dead lips, much less getting down and dirty with other parts! However, in Chase’s alternate universe, her vampires are, though still cold and walking dead, much more ‘real’ people than others in the genre, with lives and families whom they love – even if they are still overwhelmingly entitled, making them both vicious and brutally efficient killers when crossed.
Overall, I really liked Willow. She takes a lot of damage, both physically and emotionally in this first book, and overall she handles it well. I did find her rather naïve at times, railing against those who would take care of issues in a vigilante fashion, while openly acknowledging that the governmental agencies are deeply corrupt. At the same time, I honestly admired her for understanding the siren song of power and how it can so easily corrupt.
The fantasy storyline is creative, well written, and believable as an alternative reality of a world which evolved under magical conditions, while still aligning closely with our own. There is a bit of a triangle aspect, between Willow and David, the vamp ex boyfriend and Talisen, her childhood friend and mentor who is another faery. The triangle seems to correct itself at the end, and I honestly hope that the concept doesn’t carry on through the other books, as I find those sorts of story lines to be crutches for poor story development. However, the Shih Tzu that turns into a wolf? Awesome! And I hope that Willow will be spending more time in her bakery, creating magically infused cupcakes, and more time with her best friend, Phoebe, a witch. There were a lot of ends left free, leaving room for a great deal of really good story development as we learn more about Willow, her skills, and her family and friends. And having listened to the Audible Edition, narrated by Gabra Zackman, one of my favorite narrators of all time, there was a whole other level of enjoyment that I was able to gain from the book. And right now, Influential Magic is only $1.99 for the Audible Edition! What's not to like? Especially when it is also text-to-speech enabled for the Kindle edition. I prefer the Audible editions, as I can download them onto my Zune and pop it into my pocket while I am doing other things, but having it in both editions means I can read it any way I wish. Cool...
As a culture, we are always looking for the next best thing. Computers, cars, you name it. And, of course, books. Everything from urban fantasy to suspense, young adult to horror. Sometimes, though, what is New isn’t what we really need. Instead, what is Old is new again, or rather, it should be!
I just listened to Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin, and narrated by Noah Michael Levine. First printed in 1978, I found the series way back then, and have the whole collection in paper. Recently, however, the books have come out on Audible.com and, of course, I have to buy them all again. How can I help it? Noah Michael Levine does an amazing job of narrating! His voice and cadence are absolutely perfect for the reading. His grasp of accents is amazing, and he really brings the characters to life. I spent all night last night in my workroom, working on holiday gifts, and though I got really tired about 4AM, I couldn’t tear myself away. There is a sample reading on Audible, check it out and you will love it too!
Why SHOULDN’T Robert Lynn Asprin’s Skeeve be the next Harry Potter?! It’s all there. Witches, Demons, and Wizards, Oh, My! And the Myth series is FUNNY. Like, burst out laughing on the airplane funny. And the voices by Noah take the laugh-out-loud character to a whole new level of laughter.
Skeeve, the main character of the series, is an apprentice wizard. He doesn’t really care all that much about being an apprentice wizard, of course. He was previously a thief, who got busted by the Wizard he was trying to rob. Instead of turning him into a frog, or something just as icky, the Wizard makes Skeeve an apprentice wizard. What are ya gonna do?
During the summoning of the Demon Aahz, an Assassin comes to call – and that is when things get rather messy. When the Wizard is killed, Skeeve is stuck now with the Demon Aahz, summoned from his own world, and none too happy about it. What follows? Well, you will just have to read the book to find out! Or rather, I would actually listen to it. You will NOT be disappointed if you like funny, well paced, creative and wonderful story lines.
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