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Leiah@soireadthisbooktoday

Golden, CO, United States
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  • Half-Resurrection Blues

  • Bone Street Rumba, Book 1
  • By: Daniel José Older
  • Narrated by: Daniel José Older
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 378
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 352
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 356

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead's most unusual agents - an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind - until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death. One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He's summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny, Sharp Urban Fantasy

  • By Alex on 10-18-15

The soulful cadence of a Blind Willie Johnson tune

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-05-16

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

“A secret's worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.”― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Delacruz lives as an enigma. Well, half-lives. You see, when the New York Council of the Dead brought him back, they literally did a half-assed job. With only the faintest memory of having suffered horribly, the rest of his life before his half-resurrection is a blank. He thinks he is Puerto Rican (well, at least that is what they told him – and he has to admit, it does feel right) but other than that? His life began on the day he died.

Now Carlos works for the council, taking care of the unseen of New York, the maybe-sorta-might-be-dead and others collectively known as the inbetweeners, making them really dead with the sword concealed in his cane. Hey, it may not be much of a life, but it’s his. He gets his fun from pissing off the council members whenever possible, and he has a few close friends – even if most of them are ghosts. It is difficult, being so alone, so different. As far as he knows, he is one of a kind, the only inbetweener he knows of who exists in this half-resurrected state.

But that is about to change, because there really are more like him. And they are determined to take down the wall between life and death, to open the entrada to the Underworld.

I listened to Half-Resurrection Blues, which is narrated by the author, Daniel José Older. His delivery is, in a word, musical. The story caresses the ear in a flow of lightly Puerto Rican accented English with a Brooklyn tone that carries the soulful cadence of a Blind Willie Johnson tune. I would compare his writing to one of my absolute favorites, James Lee Burke (and if I did that, you know I enjoyed it), in setting a tempo that draws you into the life of not only a man lost in pain and loneliness, but also into the attitude and rhythms of the Brooklyn Barrio. The imagery is knife sharp, cutting away artifice and revealing the soul of the character, and of the world in which he lives.

Carlos is sarcastic, with a biting humor that often takes a moment to comprehend, something I totally enjoyed. He is the perfect noir hero, Malaguena cigar tucked firmly between his lips, sharply dressed, calm and collected. He strolls the barrio, sliding between the worlds of the living and the dead, always calm, cool and collected. The perfect Puerto Rican don, hat pulled low and shoes shined. The people he knows, and the people he meets, though some cannot really be called “people” any longer – they are ghosts, trapped in the world of the here-and-now – have their own quirks, worries, and existences, often beyond even Carlos’ comprehension.

Mr. Older’s story offers that edge of heartbreak and loneliness that gives his characters depth, while his own voice is the perfect vehicle for the narration. I loved it, and will be reading (well, listening to) the others in the series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Spots

  • By: Melissa F. Olson
  • Narrated by: Amy McFadden
  • Length: 9 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,644
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,481
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,483

When LA’s vampires, witches, and werewolves make a mess, they call Scarlett Bernard to clean it up. Her ability as a null erases all magical traces from anything — or anyone — that comes within ten feet of her, and keeps humans in the dark about the city’s paranormal activity. One night when she’s called to a grisly crime scene, Scarlett is spied by the all-too-human LAPD cop Jesse Cruz, who strikes up a deal with her: he’ll keep quiet about the supernatural underworld if she helps him crack the case. She agrees, but the city’s chief vampire, Dash, starts to suspect Scarlett is behind the murders and will reveal all she knows of his shadowy empire. Now it’ll take more than Scarlett’s unique abilities to clear her name, keep the underworld underground, and track down the real killer.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Suprisingly pleased

  • By Jennifer on 07-03-13

Flawed but with great potential

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-25-16

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Scarlett Bernard is one pragmatic lady. Of course, she has to be considering her job is supernatural crime scene cleanup. As in, get in, clean up the mess, steal the body, and book the hell out of Dodge before the cops arrive. She is truly good at her job, and her boss, the cold and distant Dashiell, Master Vampire of the city, may be scary, but he pretty much allows her to do her job without interference. But then, the worst happens.

She gets caught. Caught by a newly minted detective, Jesse Cruz, just after she arrives at a scene more bloody and grotesque than any she has ever seen. What happens next is fast paced action with terrific world building and interesting characters. I first read the book back in 2012, and enjoyed it then. This time I listened to the Audible edition narrated by Amy McFadden (one of my favorite narrators) and, as sometimes happens, I liked it even more as I listened. Scarlett is a strong character with a well-developed, though brutal, background and is likeable. She isn’t perfect, but that is what makes her interesting. She has taken horrific hits in her life – but the one she walks into later on is absolutely devastating and Olson does a rather wonderful job of writing the horrors of betrayal. I would have liked her to be more mature in her interactions with others – her tendency to cope a nasty, self-serving attitude at times was a downer. I am hoping that the next books will show growth in her as a character (especially since I own them all). Her behavior isn’t as horrendous as other female characters in the genre, but I am hoping for more maturity in upcoming works.

There are some things that were irritating. The Dreaded Love Triangle. Irritating! Not only do love triangles make me retch, this one felt stilted and unnecessary, dragging down the storyline. Also, the POV switches between characters and from first to third person erratically and unnecessarily. Irritating, but not as irritating as the lurrve (titter titter, Groan) triangle. Olson’s take on werewolf psychology was more interesting than a lot of other books in the genre, and her friendship with the Alpha and Beta were more realistic than many others. The Alpha isn’t as ‘Alpha’ as in other books (thank the Goddess!) and the tortured Beta was very realistically portrayed in the vein of “I never wanted this in the first place.”

So, flawed, it isn’t perfect by any means, but I still enjoyed it as much as I remembered, and Amy’s narration was, as always, spot on.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Born of Hatred

  • The Hellequin Chronicles, Book 2
  • By: Steve McHugh
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,359
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,249
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,252

When Nathan Garrett’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. As powerful as he is, Nate fears he may be overmatched, but when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Another good book in the series.

  • By Cliff on 10-28-13

Brilliant British Paranormal Series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-20-16

British Noir Paranormal at its finest. My second choice after the Nightside Series by Simon R. Green.

  • The Accidental Alchemist

  • By: Gigi Pandian
  • Narrated by: Julia Motyka
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,928
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,637
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,617

Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can't help but notice she's picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle - not to mention a master of French cuisine - and he needs Zoe's expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who's trying to put her old life behind her, isn't so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I get it....you're vegan.

  • By Alia E Smith on 05-22-17

Life is never what you expect

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-02-15

“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold.

That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

When Zoe Faust moved to Portland she was hoping for a quiet, unobtrusive life, away from her memories. She wanted to start a new life. That isn’t anything unusual. Many people move to Portland to start over, away from their old lives. Of course, the fact that Zoe is over 300 years old and studied as an alchemist under Nicholas and Perenelle does make her a bit different from those others who have washed up upon the green and fertile shores of Portland. To-ma-to, to-mah-to. It seemed so simple. Buy the old, rundown house in a good neighborhood. Set up her online herb and antiques business. Have a nice, quiet life. At least for as long as she can get away with it.

All-in-all, it might have been better to stay in France.

Things began well enough. Find a discreet contractor to come in, fix up the house (including the nearly fallen in roof) and while he is at it, have him build an alchemical oven in the basement cum lab, then take his money and forget he was ever there. But as with all things, issues arise. Such as the fact that said contractor winds up dead on her front porch before he can even pick up a hammer. Then of course there is the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle who climbs out of one of her packing boxes. There is the break-in in which the gargoyle’s ancient alchemical volume, and several other volumes and items of great financial and alchemical value, are stolen. At least Dorian Robert-Houdin can cook. Although he really doesn’t get the whole vegan thing – but when it becomes a challenge, well, the food that comes from the kitchen is enough to make even a non-vegan’s mouth water.

A chemist, a cop, a tea shop owner and a 14-year-old housebreaker are only a few of the interesting characters you meet in The Accidental Alchemist. The mystery is well plotted and very well executed, and the author’s knowledge of the history of alchemy truly adds to the story. Being born in 1600’s Salem, Zoe has seen a lot in her time on Earth, not all of it good – but not all of it bad either. Now, in order to save not only the tea shop owner, Blue Sky, from being convicted of a murder she did not commit, but also to save Dorian from returning to stone – an excruciating way to “die” when he won’t really be dead, only trapped in an stone body, his mind still alive and functioning – Zoe must find out who really killed her contractor and get Dorian’s alchemical text back in order to save Dorian’s life.

There are some things about the book I really liked that others seemed to abhor. I loved how the author talked about food and cooking. I could nearly smell the scents from the kitchen as Dorian cooked – something he learned from a well-respected, but tragically blinded, chef long ago. It felt to me like a commentary on what it is like to live so very long, to be so very different that you have to hide yourself away. How lonely that life must be, and how Dorian immerses himself in cooking to fend off that aching loneliness. Coming to Zoe for help not only gives him hope that she might save him, but feeding her is a caring act, designed to show his respect and understanding of Zoe and her long, long life. So, I will respectfully disagree with those who found that part of the book unnecessary. To me, it was a very necessary part of the dialog – the understanding of the depths of loneliness and loss that surely burns at the soul of those touched by the Philosopher’s Stone. The same can be said for the complaints about Zoe not being ‘omniscient’ – not automatically remembering how to do absolutely everything she has ever learned. Being long lived must certainly be, in many ways, incredibly boring. You can’t retain relationships – someone might catch on that you aren’t aging. As the days flow on, pouring one unto the other, time certainly must begin to have no real meaning, lessons learned fading away until memory becomes dream.

I really, really liked this book, and look forward to more by Gigi Pandian. I listened to the audio version and Julia Moytka does a wonderful job with the narration. Her voice simply “fits” the characters, and her rendition of Dorian, rather than being “overly Frenchy” as one reviewer put it, is warm, carrying over the old fashioned French of the 16th century. If you try this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

2 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • A Little Night Magic

  • By: Lucy March
  • Narrated by: Amanda Ronconi
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,567
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,356
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,349

Olivia Kiskey needs a change. She’s been working at the same Nodaway Falls, New York, waffle house since she was a teenager; not a lot of upward mobility there. She’s been in love with Tobias, the cook, for the last four years; he's never made a move. Intent on shaking things up, Olivia puts her house on the market, buys a one-way ticket to Europe, and announces her plans to her friends - but then she meets Davina Granville, a strange and mystical Southern woman....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I really hope this turns into a series...

  • By Shelly on 01-07-13

Good possibilites-poor execution

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-15

“Be Careful what you wish for . . .”

Olivia Kiskey should have remembered that. I mean really – she should have learned that particular lesson when standing on the magic linoleum square by booth nine at Crazy Cousin Betty’s Waffle House granted her wish. But again – be careful what you wish for. Like when she wished on the magic square for “a little more space” from her college boyfriend, Charlie. Two days later? Yep. He dumped her for his roommate – Neal. Sigh.

“A Little Night Magic” starts out funny, and Amanda Ronconi does a beautiful job of narration, her slightly nasal voice is completely believable as Olivia.

When Olivia decides she is finally going to give up her crush on Tobias the cook, sell the house her mother left her, and travel to Scotland, well, people really don’t know what to think. And when Olivia finds out that she can turn objects to animals, things get really whacky . . .

There are things I liked about A Little Night Magic. Olivia is a fun character – she has been stuck in a small town, working as a waitress, for years. As she says, “Spontaneity without commitment is just wishful thinking.” So, in six weeks, she is outta-there. Well, at least that is what she is planning. For a twenty-eight year old, she is very ‘young.’ So when Davina, a supposed ‘magical person’ shows up, and things start getting interesting, Olivia starts learning new things – the hard way. Davina is sure that Olivia is magical – and is determined to teach her. Hence, the whole ‘my coffee mug is now named Gibson’ thing. There are secrets, evil, a stranger chasing her – and the people she has known all her life are even stranger.

Then there are the things that could have been done much better. The give-and-take between Olivia and Tobias is aggravating, to say the least. Tobias is passive-aggressive, the people trying to ‘help’ her are more harmful than helpful, and Olivia’s innocence, in my opinion, is laid on a bit thick. This is a ‘fluffy’ book – which I really don’t mind at all – but Olivia’s ‘friends’ are spiteful and the mystery was figured out within the first couple of chapters, which really doesn’t work for me. The other thing that really disappointed me? The “Bad Guy” is truly evil. And yet, instead of doing something about it, or helping others with the ability do something about it, Olivia is a complete gutless weenie loser. I mean, come ON! You have the ability to stop a murderous megalomaniac – and yet you are too cowardly to stop that person?

So, Olivia pretty much ends up in the “too stupid to live” category, as others have said. And that is a shame, because the concept was good – it was the execution that let me down.

  • Wolf Who Rules

  • Elfhome, Book 2
  • By: Wen Spencer
  • Narrated by: Tanya Eby
  • Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 436
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 405
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403

Tinker: just a quick-witted girl from Pittsburgh - who happens to be responsible for depositing high elves and her hometown humans into a melting pot of magic. Now the draconian oni seek to destroy the elves by breeding human git to do their evil bidding. But half-breeds who are half-human may not be the slaves the oni imagined. The revolt is on! Its leader - A certain newly-minted elven princess from Pittsburgh, PA, by the name of Tinker.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Science and Magic, Oh My! Continues!

  • By Leiah@soireadthisbooktoday on 07-16-15

Science and Magic, Oh My! Continues!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-16-15

On December 21 I noted in a post that Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series was out on Audible. Being a rabid lover of all things Spencer, and of Audio Books in general, I was thrilled.

Over the last few days I have listened to both Tinker and Wolf Who Rules and am more than happy to say that they didn’t disappoint – At. All. If you read my original review of Tinker back in July of 2013 you will read how much I enjoyed the first book. The blend of technology with magic completely charmed me. Magic, in the world of Elfhome, is based upon technology. Spencer delves into the world of quantum mechanics, chaos theory, physics, and various other sciences to build a world where Tinker, the heroine of the story and a junk yard owner, blends science with magic to create magical machines, like the hover bikes that made Wolf Who Rules: Elfhome, Book 2 | [Wen Spencer]her famous in a Philadelphia ripped out of our reality and transported to Elfhome by a mistake in quantum mechanics. A mistake made by her grandfather and extrapolated out to a Chinese space platform which allows travel between worlds. Philadelphians didn’t ask for their city to be transported – but now that it is, a new world of trade has been opened up, and Philadelphia transports monthly between Earth and Elfhome. Sooo interesting!!!

The narration, by Tanya Eby, is beautifully done, and fits the characters well. Tinker is a Elfhome: Elfhome, Book 3 | [Wen Spencer]very mature, very brilliant, eighteen – not a character I would normally identify with at her age, but being raised on another world, by a brilliant grandfather, makes her ‘older’ in some ways, while being incredibly naïve in others. She is an interesting blend of emotionally childlike and intellectually mature, and it shows in all of her actions.

Wolf Who Rules is the second installment of the series, continuing the story of Tinker and her interactions with the Elves whose world Elfhome is. There is danger, suspense, and mystery as there was in Tinker, but the story begins to expand beyond Tinker and her Wood Sprites: Elfhome, Book 4 | [Wen Spencer]cousin Oilcan, spreading out across space and time – and developing the storyline to include a war being waged against the evil (and they truly ARE evil, in the most disgusting and painful manner) Oni – true monsters from another, massively overpopulated word, who are determined to take over Earth and Elfhome, destroying both humans and elves. Complete savages, they can nonetheless breed with humans – a situation that leaves human women at risk, and half-human/half-Oni on the razors edge, brutalized by the Oni and hunted by the Elves. Betrayed by a friend, causing her capture by the Oni, can Tinker rescue herself before she is forced to open a new gate between worlds, allowing the Oni to capture both Earth and Elfhome? Will she be able to save the humans, the Elves, the half-Oni, and a new, previously unknown slave race being brutalized by the Oni?

Action, adventure, suspense – it’s all here in spades in the series. Elfhome and Wood Sprites are the two books of the series I still have to read that are available on Audible.com. I am thrilled to see that there are two “Shorts” also available that are set in the Elfhome world. Wyvern is a prequel of sorts, set in the world of Elfhome shortly after “Startup” – when Philadelphia is first brought over to Elfhome. Blue Sky is the story of human John Montana and his brother, Blue Sky, a half-sekasha – one of the elven warrior class who protects the leaders of Elfhome – a class which is above the law, and who are a danger to Blue Sky. Can Tinker protect Blue Sky and John? This story is set after Wolf Who Rules and it is highly recommended that you read that novel before picking up this short or you may spoil your read of WWR. I am about to pick it up now that I have listened to Wolf.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Detective & The Unicorn

  • By: Michael Angel
  • Narrated by: Alexander Edward Trefethen
  • Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

When a warlock from the magical world of the Morning Land murders Derek Ridder's friend, the LAPD detective gets a new partner. Her name's Tavia, and she's a brash, driven unicorn filly. She identifies the killer as Sir William Teach, the one man she's sworn to capture or kill at all cost. Together, Derek and Tavia race to uncover Teach's dark plans to unleash an ancient evil in order to conquer both of their worlds. Their path takes them through Los Angeles and deep into the fantasy realm of the Morning Land.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I found this very entertaining

  • By Bonnie on 01-08-13

Such FUN! You have to read it...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-15

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. – Maya Angelou
____________
The photo of a snow-white Pegasus in the company of the President of the United States had made the front page of the Los Angeles Times twice now. Both times this happened, someone close to me has been killed.

Derek Ridder knows about death. About loss, and pain, true. But most of all, he knows about Death. A Los Angeles cop, he sees humanity at it’s very worst; it’s darkest, cruelest moments. Three years ago, he saw that front page photo only moments before his beloved wife, Beth, died – the victim of a suicide who decided to take many with him when he parked in the path of an oncoming train. And the second time.

The second time nearly drove him mad.

Now, Derek Ridder’s life has been turned upside down, his niece and sister-in-law threatened, and the very fate of our world, The Other World as it is called by those who populate the dimension which has paralleled and overlapped our own, may come down to whether or not Derek, and those who help him, can find the key to destroying a man – a man who is also a Monster.

It is called The Morning Land. A land of pegasi and unicorn, of dryads and wizards and all manner of things that go bump in the night. And in this land, a wizard has gone mad, threatening our world, and his, with total annihilation at the teeth and claws of a demon horde.

He had dead, doll’s eyes, like a sharks.

Stuck in the middle of a war, Derek must do all he can to save the worlds, to take out the wizard who will use both technology and magic to become the mighty foot on the throat of our world.

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. – Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Much like Hamlet, Derek’s life had lost all meaning. But will he reach beyond, into what and who he was before, and use his pain to save his world? And possibly, his own soul?

Much like others of his work, such as Centaur of the Crime or The Deer Prince’s Murder, there is a strong fantasy theme throughout, which harkens back to the original Grimm, were fairies weren’t cute little winged creatures, and Red Riding Hood’s story was filled with blood. Angel’s works cross the boundaries of reality and magic, of this world and the next, and for all of their vast readability and notes of humour, there is lying underneath a dark pool of pain – and an immeasurable depth of hope.
____
If you follow my reviews you will know that Mr. Angel and I have a working relationship, and yes, the author gave the book to me. What must be taken into account is that we have that relationship because I truly enjoy his work. If he were to blow it, well, I would let you know. However, as always, Michael charmed me with his wit and wisdom, his humor and understanding. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Urban Fantasy and Fairy Tales. And anyone else who simply loves a well-crafted tale. Enjoy!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Cold Day for Murder

  • A Kate Shugak Mystery
  • By: Dana Stabenow
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 5 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,693
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,410
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,408

Eighteen months ago, Aleut Kate Shugak quit her job investigating sex crimes for the Anchorage DA’s office and retreated to her father’s homestead in a national park in the interior of Alaska. But the world has a way of beating a path to her door, however remote. In the middle of one of the bitterest Decembers in recent memory ex-boss — and ex-lover — Jack Morgan shows up with an FBI agent in tow.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Gritty Realistic

  • By SMH on 09-01-16

Great Alaskan Character-Driven Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-15

When I noticed A Cold Day For Murder was only $1.99 at Audible, I went back to look at my review here on my site. . . and realized, there isn’t a review here. Hum… Being a HUGE lover of Dana Stabenow, I am somewhat flummoxed that I only have a review for Fire and Ice, which is from her Liam Campbell series, reviewed on site. Well, fiddle. There are nearly 950 reviews on Amazon, so my review won’t make that much difference I suppose – and seeing as how I have over 500 reviews on Amazon (yea!) I am not going to go through pages and pages to see if I wrote reviews before I started SIRTBT. So, here is a short review (Me? A Short Review?! Will wonders never cease?)

Kate Shugak is one of my favorite female characters of all time. Tough and determined, she is also damaged and flawed – in other words, a very real, very human character. Kate is Aleut, raised by her grandmother Ekaterina, a former Tribal Council member and still chief. She grew up in The Park, “twenty million acres, almost four times the size of Denali National Park but with less than one percent of the tourists.” Occupied by Native Aleut and a collection of oddballs and “stay away from them or you will get your ass shot – and you might be dinner as well” types, The Park is a wonderland – and a cold, heartless land where the slightest misstep could mean a brutal death.

The story itself has been well described by others, and you get the gist from the summary. What I want to tell you about is the world of Kate and her tribe. The Aleut have suffered for centuries, first at the hands of the Russians, then the Americans, and Stabenow weaves that story in to her narrative – giving you a good idea of just why the tribal members could really care less that a rich little white boy has gone missing – good riddance to the Outsider with the rich and powerful daddy.

What is truly breathtaking about Stabenow’s writing is her descriptive narrative – her true love for her native land shines out through her writing. And being a huge Marguerite Gavin fan, I am always pulled into all of the Kate stories.

Book Two, A Fatal Thaw, is now on Audible, and I can finally add it to my collection! There are 20 books in the series now (Book 11, The Singing of the Dead, is still not available on 271297Audible, but hopefully whatever is keeping it unavailable will be corrected soon.)

I will warn you – if you like the first book, they are like potato chips – you can’t listen to just one!

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Fire and Ice: A Liam Campbell Mystery

  • By: Dana Stabenow
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 872
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 772
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 768

In this mystery series by Dana Stabenow, the Edgar Award-winning author returns to the Alaskan setting she's famous for, with a wonderful character - state trooper Liam Campbell. Liam's just been transferred from Anchorage to the small fishing village of Newenham, Alaska - where a local pilot seems to have lost his head.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A quick heads up!

  • By Kindle Customer on 05-30-14

Beautifully written Alaskan mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-15

Ms. Stabenow is a wonderful writer. Her knowledge of Alaska is from her own perspective, having lived there all her life. And she uses that knowledge exceptionally well. Admittedly, I am not as crazy about the Liam books as I am about her Kate Shugak mysteries, but that is a personal preference which has nothing to do with whether the Liam books are good. They are very very good. This is the first in the Liam series, and I highly recommend you read all of them. I have, and they are right up there on my all time favorites list.

The characters in all of Ms. Stabenow’s works are quirky, to say the least. They are the kind of people you would expect in a dangerous land like the wilds of Alaska – strong, determined, and sometimes weird beyond measure! Another thing I really like about the book is the fact that her heros and heroines are in no way perfect. Liam is a recovering alcoholic, riddled with self doubt and wanting badly to turn his life around. Moving from the “big city” of Anchorage to a small fishing village, Liam is immediately drawn in to the weirdness of an Alaska fishing village – the odd ducks, alcoholics, and various and sundry detritus of society who are more comfortable in the wilds than in civilization. And nobody writes these characters better than Dana.

The story grabs you from the first and doesn’t let go. Overall, Highly recommended. Then go buy all her other books too – they are well worth the read!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Tinker

  • Elfhome, Book 1
  • By: Wen Spencer
  • Narrated by: Tanya Eby
  • Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 657
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 609
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 613

Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. She runs her salvage business, pays her taxes, and tries to keep the local ambient level of magic down with gadgets of her own design. When a pack of wargs chase an Elven noble into her scrap yard, life as she knows it takes a serious detour.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great world building and characters

  • By MaryAlice on 04-11-15

Science and Magic, Oh My!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-15

I have to say, when I saw this book listed, I forget where, I thought it might not be all that much, but it was at hand, so I picked it up. Oh. My. God. I could not have been more wrong, or more happy to be so.

“Tinker”, and the follow-up, “Wolf Who Rules” are extraordinary. The concept of science as the foundation of magic is one I have always wished someone would write about – and Spencer does it in a believable, extremely well developed, and well written manner. I picked up the book for an ‘easy’ read, and within a few pages was totally hooked.

Admittedly, I am a sucker for BOTH fantasy and science books. The “multiverse” and “bubble universe” studies, as well as the whole concept of quantum physics, fascinates me. No, I am not a scientist, never got to learn, but I can still read about it, right? Many authors use alternate universes to base their stories. Spencer takes it further, placing her stories in a possible future, where layers of universes flow-through to a possible future Earth we all recognize. And set in Pittsburgh, no less? Ok, you write about the city you know, and even though I laughed when I read where it was set (who would think Pittsburgh for a land of fairie?) Spencer really makes you feel like you are there, walking the streets of Pittsburgh, that you know the people she writes about. And she makes you really care about them.

Tinker is fascinating. In a way genetically engineered to become the creature of her grandfather’s dreams, she is a genius at mathematics and mechanics in a Pittsburgh moved to a land of magic. Good hearted, down-to-earth, intelligent, and smart as a whip, she is a perfectly realized character, with enough confidence in herself to be strong, and yet not a total screaming bitch as some authors like their heroines to be. She knows that she is not always right, is often unsure of herself, but still takes care of business, taking care of the people who depend on her for their safety and their own. She takes physical change, pain, and uncertainty and becomes the stronger for it. She never gives up who she is – amazing given the situations she finds herself thrown into with no preparation, no training, and socialization to the laws and goals of the group she suddenly finds herself a part of. Kudos, Ms. Spencer, for a beautifully developed group of characters, firmly based in both fantasy, and reality!

Tinker’s grasp of technology, as well as her grasp of magic theory and the integration between the two makes this a fascinating new meld of my two favorite fields. Thank you, Ms. Spencer, for writing wonderful characters!!!!!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful