Although I read one or two of the Chicago Stars series I have really enjoyed the rest of the series on Audible and am glad I have them to go back to listen to when I want a fun, easy listen. The characters are flawed and have issues and that makes them more realistic. As in all of SEP books, there is fun and snappy dialog and good sexual chemistry. The sex scenes are steamy and fun without being unnecessarily graphic like a lot of authors are doing today. As I have noted with some other SEP books, there is a primary couple, but also a love story for a secondary couple. I think April Fields does a GREAT job narrating and changing voices. She even does a fine job singing a little in this one!
This is an intensely active series - always danger. There are strange waves of wicked magical energy reeking havoc in Cinncinnati and the Hollows. These are causing magical spells to backfire resulting in physical damage around the city. Strangely the waves seem to be following Rachel Morgan. Meanwhile the undead vampire masters, who control the younger living vampires, have all disappeared and the living vampires are beginning to attack humans and Inderlanders, including some of Rachel’s werewolf pack. Rachel isn’t a werewolf but she is a powerful witch and day-walking demon with a tie to the werewolves through her friend, David, the true Alpha leader.
Rachel has been working as security for Trent while Quinn is away with the girls, Lucy and Rae. Rachel and Trent have enjoyed working together as they dance around their mutual attraction. Trent wants one night with Rachel on a date instead of as security employee. Dangerous but tempting. They are clearly drawn to each other but Trent is expected to marry one of his own kind, a high elven society member, Elsbeth, the mother of Lucy.
As Rachel tries to help the authorities control the chaos in the community, elven leaders arrive with Elsbeth at Trent’s home. The elven leaders suspect that the wild magic may be coming from an elven goddess who is seeking to make contact through Rachel. The tension increases as one of the elven leaders betrays Trent by lying to Rachel, talking her into a ritual that turns out to allow the goddess a partial possession. Tiny bits of sentient energy move into Rachel threatening to drive her mad unless she can find a way to communicate and control them and stop the goddess from more destruction.
This is what I call a ‘high octane’ series! Rachel seems to be a trouble magnet but somehow, with the help of her friends - vampire Ivy, pixie Jenks, David and Trent - she manages to save the city and come out alive. I love the action intensity and the romantic tension that is finally developed in this book between Rachel and Trent. I wonder how Kim Harrison keeps coming up with great plots and I will look forward to the next adventure.
Audio Notes: Marguerite Gavin is a fixture for me with this series. She does such a good job and makes the series more enjoyable listening entertainment.
At the end of Surviving Home, Book Two in this series, Morgan and his friends, Danny, a neighbor, Thad, his traveling companion, and Sarge and his three team members (met in Going Home, Book One), had done a reconnaissance of the local ‘government’ camp to see if they could tell how things were going. It wasn’t clear if those living in the camps were being helped or mistreated but Morgan and Thad were surprised to spot a young woman that looked like Jess, the girl they helped travel home to Ocala in Book One. Unfortunately the spies were spotted and had to pull out under gunfire.
Sarge is insisting that everyone start panning the move to an alternative location since the government troops most likely know where Morgan and Danny live. Morgan’s wife doesn’t like the idea although the girls think it might be a fun ‘camping adventure.’ The guys begin to make trips moving necessary and wanted equipment and supplies to the rugged cabins that Morgan showed them.
Many trips with a lot of gear draws some unwanted attention and the survivors face an ambush. Finally the attack on their own homes comes including the hostile presence of one of their old neighbors who insists they all move to the government facility.
Contact is made by a stranded Marine troop who offers some helpful intel to Sarge in exchange for needed supplies. These men have come across a man who survived a disastrous escape attempt from the government camp. Meanwhile, the slave-like conditions of the government camp are portrayed through Jess and her roommates.
This is the third installment in the series and seemed not quite as action packed as the prior books. There was still good action but I would say that this was a ‘preparing’ interlude to the next book. I was fully engaged by the story which read (listened) very quickly. I am looking forward to the next installment.
Marty Singer is a retired DC Homicide cop about to begin chemo treatments when an unexpected visitor knocks on his door. Amanda is now a graduate student who remembers Marty as the lead Detective in the case against Michael Wheeler, her mother’s murderer from twelve years before. Although Wheeler walked free due to trial errors and lost evidence, Amanda is sure that Marty can help her. She needs protection because the killer is back, leaving white carnations at her door.
Marty vows to protect Amanda seeking help from his old partner who is still angry about the botched trial but agrees to help. Trying every lead, Marty practically accosts Julie, the defense attorney who represented Wheeler. She is pretty bitter about the experience and doesn't really want to talk about it.
Amanda goes into hiding with Marty and soon Marty discovers goons ransacking his house for his files. Threats and circumstances change Julie’s mind so that she returns to Marty and now all three are hiding from an unknown threat as well as the killer. Marty continues to investigate even as his usual strength and reactions fail him due to weakening from the chemo treatments.
There is good suspense, action and twists in this mystery thriller. It is very sharp and realistic with ‘real-to-life’, characters complete with physical (age and illness), mental (madness and weakness) and moral (greed, pride and more) flaws. Some of the investigation paths lead to dead ends which adds to the realism. Also, the primary hero being older and coping with cancer issues makes him an interesting character with more depth than some young, hot shot detective.
Mr. Iden does a good job of weaving in unexpected twists, a little bit of romance and a bit more of moral dilemmas that have the reader/listener pondering levels of madness, ethics, loyalty and honesty. How far do professionals go to protect themselves, their families and their clients? I like Marty as a character and love the crisp suspense. I recommend this to mystery readers and would enjoy more suspense stories featuring Marty's tenacious pursuit.
Audio Notes: I was impressed with the narration by Lloyd Sherr. He was able to capture the emotional stresses of the characters and maintain the movement and suspense of the story. I was engaged for the full story and my assessment of the presentation is “well done.”
Atticus is a two thousand + year old Druid living in modern day Tempe, Arizona. He draws his magic primarily from the earth in a beneficial sharing of care, healing and power. Atticus’ closest companion is his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, with whom he mind-speaks. Oberon’s mind is mostly dog-like with treats, runs and females taking priority. Atticus’ other friends include his attorneys who are a pack of wererwolves and a vampire, Lief. He has an interesting relationship with Morrigan, the goddess of death, with whom he has a deal: she has agreed to never take his life in exchange for him sharing the secrets of his protective iron amulet.
Atticus has become quite sought after with the spreading news of his killing one of the Celtic gods. (Book One, Hounded.) Leif wants him to kill Thor, the thunder god, and numerous other parties want him to kill their enemies too. Atticus isn’t interested but, in the meantime, he has to fight off the demons, and fallen angels, that have been bound with the mission to kill him. In this story Atticus is also negotiating a treaty with local witches and he gets tangled in protecting them from witch hunters.
This series deals with a complex balancing of powers among the Greek Gods and the paranormal groups. There is wonderful action and great humor with Atticus’ “customary curtain of wit.” I love the fun language contrasts and word games: formality with the formal Vampire and earthy fun with the doggy Oberon. Atticus is a great character--part hapless, part fearless, part magical, mostly male and surprisingly not arrogantly obnoxious. There is some gratuitous sex alluded to with the details kept pretty much behind doors.
Luke Daniels does a super job narrating this series. He really nails the characters through voices and expression. The narration enhances the danger and fun of an already good story. I recommend this series for action and fun entertainment.
Noah Gardner is a lackluster son of a highly powerful, political puppet master, Arthur Gardner. Noah is lured in by Molly Ross who intrigues him with her disdain as well as her passion for the cause of American freedom. She is part of a group known as the Founder’s Keepers, who seek to peaceably preserve American freedoms as set out in the Constitution.
Noah is embroiled in Molly’s schemes to gain access and information from his father’s computers. They learn that Arthur Gardner is part of a group of elite power brokers who are seeking to bring about a one world government. These men will use money, power, manipulation, bribery, coercion, and whatever other means necessary to achieve their goal. Molly (and the reader) learn of a tool known as “the Overton Window” which measures public opinion. This tool allows the monied powers to manipulate public opinion by setting up events that slowly push the boundaries of public acceptance closer and closer to the desired controls sought by the puppet masters.
Noah is kidnapped and it becomes clear that Molly used him from the outset. Yet he thinks there was more between them than the obvious lies. Noah again seeks to help Molly as a nefarious terrorist plot slowly unfolds -- a horrible act of violence that is being arranged by the puppet masters but will be blamed on Molly’s group.
The beginning was a bit slow as I wondered at the detailed descriptions of Noah’s obsessive interest in Molly. However that is understandable as the plot progresses. After an hour or two in I was glued to listening to this story until it finished. I was impressed with the writing skills as well as the characterization and plot. All of the elements reveal the extreme intelligence of the author – regardless of what one might think of his political and religious views. Does it contain a message on politics and religion? Yes - clearly on politics and subtly on religion. Is it a good thriller? Absolutely.
Beck starts the book with a preface that declares the work to be in the nature of “faction” – a fictional story woven around facts. The story presents a present day situation that should open eyes and make each of us look at the circumstances around us to see if we can really discern truth from intentionally manipulated PR. I loved the story and am anxious to begin the next book, The Eye of Molech, which I am reviewing for Simon and Schuster through Audiobook Jukebox.
Audio Notes: This story was good on its own but the narration enhanced my enjoyment and made it move much more quickly than if I had read a print or ebook version. James Daniels does a really good job keying into the character personalities. I will look for other works narrated by Mr. Daniels.
Don’t let the slow start in this episode dissuade you - it just builds a basis for getting to know the characters and made me feel like part of the crew!
The first half of this book fills in the backgrounds of the characters and events to bring a new reader up to date in the series. There is a lot of behind the scenes details, building characters, setting the locations, revealing society positioning and strategy for the upcoming battles. Though it’s not exciting, still I found it very interesting. I liked even the geographical descriptions as a comparison between the alternate world and the world that the Americans came from. This story also introduces a few new characters, including some pre-American Revolution British officers who choose to remain outside of the alliance.
I had already like Captain Matthew Reddy and many of the crew members from the prior books. By the time the battle begins in the second half of this book I felt like I knew the American crew personally. When this book jumps into the battle action there is excitement, fear, horror, loss and sorrow. A couple times I actually found myself holding my hands over my face as I dealt with the emotions during the battle.
Audio Notes: William Dufris does a grand job of narrating that captures the nuances of the characters– good guys and bad guys– and the excitement of the battle. I get wrapped into the narration which to me signifies both a good story and a delivery that keeps the reader focused on the characters and action with no negative distractions from the reading.
Mercy Thompson is a rare creature, a Coyote Walker. She is the wife of Adam, the Alpha leader of the local werewolf pack. The entire pack has gone missing while Mercy and her step daughter, Jesse, are out shopping. An injured Ben, a British werewolf with attitude, finds Mercy at her garage and she learns that he is the only one who escaped when supposed government authorities rounded up the pack and subdued them with silver tranquilizers.
Mercy is able to use their mate bond to contact Adam mentally and determine that the pack is alive but weak from silver poisoning. Mercy must keep Jesse save from the kidnappers who would use her as additional blackmail to coerce Adam to do their bidding. She must also keep herself safe and find a way to rescue the pack before Adam has to make a devastating sacrifice.
There are political implications that require careful handling. Mercy calls for help from her fae friends, Zeek and his grandson Tad, to guard Jesse, Gabriel, Mercy’s college-age employee, and Gabriel’s family. Then Mercy calls upon her vampire friend, Stephan, to help rescue Kyle, a prominent attorney who is the lover of one of the kidnapped wolves.
Mercy risks her own well being by ‘changing the rules’ to help Adam and then she faces an ambush attack. Even when the pack is free, Mercy is not out of danger. She is summoned to a special meeting with the Queen Vampire. At first she fears it may be over the Mercedes she borrowed which has suffered from a bleeding werewolf, battle dents and a (supposedly) dead body in the trunk. Soon Mercy learns that the car is a trifling matter compared to the political Vampire war she is pulled into.
I love the strength in Mercy and in her bond with Adam. Coyotes are not as strong as werewolves and not all of the pack accept Mercy. But her position as Alpha mate and her bond with Adam allows her to bring along an Alpha attitude in her own presence. I like the strong pack atmosphere of ‘family’ that is exhibited in these stories. I also like that Mercy has friends among the other paranormal communities. This particular story has some brutal killing but also Mercy’s own special touch of faith and forgiving grace. Ms. Briggs brings a unique and new tale of danger and action to each of the books in this series. They never fail to entertain me.
Audio Notes: I greatly enjoy the narrations of this series by Lorelei King. She distinguishes the voices so you can almost see the different creature personalities– the werewolves, the fae and the vampires. There is an even flow to the reading that keeps it moving well at rare moments of calm as well as the usual emotional times of danger and action.
I highly recommend this series for the warm relationships presented in action packed and entertaining plots. Preferably read/listen to the books in order for the full impact of the character involvements and nuances.
Dylan Hunter is a complex, mysterious man. He is a hard hitting reporter who goes after injustice in his articles. He exposes criminals and the prosecutors, judges and psychiatrists who help them go free or get out of prison when they should have stayed behind bars. He doesn’t let people close as he has a past and secrets to protect. Then he meets Annie Woods who has secrets too and trust issues resulting from her cheating ex-husband. Not to mention her wariness due to her work with the CIA. As their relationship deepens, neither knows the past or truth about the other and Annie’s past is soon to collide with Dylan’s present in a way that is hazardous to all involved.
Annie introduces Dylan to a group of hurting crime survivors – people who have lost a loved one to brutal criminals. Dylan writes about the horrible and tragic deaths and then the vicious perpetrators begin to show up dead with copies of his articles placed at each crime scene. There are no leads to the vigilante killer and, needless to say, the police aren’t too broken-hearted about the deaths. Annie is assigned to a special task force to find the vigilante.
This story kicks off with intrigue and it continues at a steady, high pace. I liked how Mr. Bidinotto presented the stake outs and the murders with methodical detail that built the tension for each scene. The characters are well developed and it was hard not to like Dylan even though his actions are outside of the law. The ideological arguments are interesting: that misguided sympathy and well-minded idealists are enabling the criminals and making the judicial and penal system completely ineffective in fighting true criminals. This is really a great thriller that kept my attention from beginning to end as I waited for the collision of secrets to hit Annie and Dylan.
I enjoyed the narration by Conor Hall. He does a fairly good job with the different voices. Although the female voices were a bit rough, this didn't distract from the overall effect for me. Mr. Hall does a good job of conveying the sense of tension and danger and carries the intensity throughout the reading.
This title was provided to me for an honest review.
A religious cult, the Disciples of Judas, believe that Judas was the real Messiah who made the true sacrifice. The cult has sent messages to 13 cities in Europe promising a reign of terror - forty days and nights - to devastate the faith of the Christian believers. There are bio-chemical suicides in Berlin killing many innocents; then poisoned water in Rome killing more. Fear is wide spread as no one knows where or what evil will strike next as the forty days continues.
A covert government group, Ogmios, is racing in at least four directions to uncover the leaders of the cult and try to stop a believed plot to assassinate the Pope. The story follows the operatives in their efforts.
The story was a bit convoluted - maybe due to the audio. Chapters of history flashbacks popped in among the current day action without being identified by date so it caused some confusion. I really was impressed though by a very complex plot that the author tied together by the end.
There was plenty of action and yet there were moments of slowness so I think the pacing could have been improved. There were some philosophical discussions included that might not interest readers who just want flash and bang. Although that slowed the story in parts I found it interesting especially in the full scheme of the plotline. I enjoyed learning the characters’ backgrounds, demons and vulnerabilities. This made them very real in their actions.
Audio Notes: I have always enjoyed Dick Hill as a narrator and he is part of the reason I chose this audio to review. He does a wonderful job with accents on the different character voices. The reading didn’t seem totally consistent as there were areas of heart stopping anticipation but other spots in the discussion portions and even some points of action where dry in the narration.
Overall this was a good reading performance and a positive listening experience of a very interesting story. I recommend it for readers who enjoy action thrillers and who don't mind a bit of philosophical, religious pondering mixed in with the action.
I selected this title for review through Audiobook Jukebox.
Yes although I am ready to listen to Ever After now! I hadn't listened to one of the Hollow books for about a year. I found I really enjoyed catching up with the characters again. The back story is filled in well so you don't feel like you've missed too much. Rachel, as usual, rushes in without a good plan and backup. This is particularly dangerous as she is wearing a bracelet that protects her from being pulled into the Ever After but also prevents her from accessing many of her magic powers through ley line use. Rachel and Winona must escape to save themselves and to keep the group from using more of Rachel's demon blood. Every time it looks like the HAPA criminals are caught they slip through the net and it soon appears that they are getting inside information.
I liked the surprise effect when Rachel uses the ring Trent gave her to try to jump out of a dangerous situation.
I have listened to all the Hollow's books. Ms. Gavin does a fabulous job distinguishing the characters. She is able to get a snarky, Pixie voice for Jenks and a deep, slow voice for the gargoyle, Biz. She inflects the nervousness of Nina the new vampire as well as the arrogance when she is possessed by Felix, the old vampire. Ms. Gavin adds intensity and mood, fear and weariness, with her excellent reading. I have listened to all the books in this series and I do enjoy the voices! Ms. Gavin may have had a bit of a cold as some of the reading sounded a little nasal. It wasn't enough to effect my enjoyment.
I like the friendship that continues to grow between Rachel and Trent.
I enjoy the action in this series even with Rachel’s misadventures and tendency to rush into trouble. I like the friendship with David, her werepack 'leader', and I love Jenks and his vibrant vitality and love. I am very curious to see what's in store for Rachel as she faces the dangers in the next book and as she continues to try to resist her feelings for Trent.
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