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Lady Meserole

Discworld
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  • Book of Names

  • Casters of Syndrial, Book 1
  • By: Rain Oxford
  • Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48

Nathan, who has been plagued with a strange and dangerous curse since he can remember, just wants a normal life. His brother, Luca, wants nothing to do with normal. When they fall through a portal and end up on a foreign world with magic, monsters, and gods, Nathan realizes that normal is relative. In a world where names are power, a book has been stolen that can destroy more than just Syndrial.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brothers Battle for a world not their own

  • By Ray Johnson on 02-10-18

Book of Names

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

Reviewed: 01-20-18

Book of Names was an entertaining read. Rain is always a beautiful writer, so the scenes are vivid and clear, you can really ‘see’ them in your mind. There are lots of exciting fantasy elements like magic, time travel, creatures and even Ancient Egyptian Mythology. The world building was well done and very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this world. I have to admit I am a huge fan of Egyptian Mythology (to the extent of doing course work at University), so it was fantastic to have it play a large role in this story. I also liked the idea of the two distinct types of magics and their different applications. The concept of the Book of Names was cool as well, I love magical books in stories (esp ones that fight back like in HP or Unseen University).

The beginning of the book is very fun, and you get to see the close bond between the brothers. Although the elements of the book are magic and fantasy, the core of the story for me was the love and loyalty between the brothers, Nathan and Luca. Whenever there is trouble each brother is always thinking of the other first, and are only focused on making sure the other is safe. I also loved the abilities that the boys have in the real world (doing escape rooms, writing, research, etc) are all played as strengths in the fantasy world. I enjoyed all the pop culture references between the brothers, they showed how families interact and have their family inside jokes. It also made the differences between life on Earth and life on Syndrial stand out, as the reader can relate to the boys’ life on Earth with all the familiar references in contrast to the stark antediluvian world of Syndrial.

The narrative is told mainly from Nathan’s POV, but there is some backstory that is given by another character later. Generally I’m not a big fan of switching back and forth between characters in a first person narrative, but this was well done and provided a really important understanding of another pivotal character.

The end of the story is darker and takes on a much more serious tone. I really wasn’t expecting how it played out, and had it running around my head trying to process it after I finished. This is one of the few times in my reading history where I honestly did not see the plot twists coming, so there were lots of surprises. The story did have a firm ending, but there is definitely a need for more books and hopefully soon!

Narration: J. Scott Bennet did his usual great job narrating. He has excellent pacing and tone, so the story moves along in a manner that keeps the action exciting yet still keeps the slower parts interesting. Scott has a great technique of injecting the emotion into the story, so you really hear what the characters are feeling. He is on my list of talented narrators.

I received Book of Names: Casters of Syndrial Book 1 free in exchange for an unbiased review.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Waiting Game: Another John Pickett Novella

  • John Pickett Mysteries
  • By: Sheri Cobb South
  • Narrated by: Joel Froomkin
  • Length: 2 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 163
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148

Bow Street Runner John Pickett and Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, seem to have reached an impasse as they wait for the annulment of their accidental marriage to come before the ecclesiastical court. In the meantime, Pickett is summoned to investigate the theft of almost 200 pounds from a linen-draper's shop - but finds no sign that either the shop or the safe where the money was kept had been forced open. Given the lack of evidence, he can only assume the money was taken by someone inside.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sweet Holiday Novella

  • By Jessica M. on 12-14-17

A John Pickett Christmas Story

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

Reviewed: 01-03-18

Waiting Game was a delightful novella about the Christmas Season for John Pickett and Lady Julia. John has a case regarding a robbery (big thank you for no murder in a Christmas story) to solve over the holidays. The case is an interesting and fun whodunnit, complete with an et tu Brute moment;). Although a short story, it is complete mystery. The rest of the story treats us to the festivities and the current situations that John and Lady Julia are experiencing during the Christmas holidays. A lovely look at where their lives are and how they are coping after their last meeting. This story shows more depth to all of the main characters and fleshes out more regarding their personal lives. For me, it was really fantastic to get a glimpse into the home life of the magistrate, Patrick Calhoun. Patrick is one of my favourite characters, so it was really fun to have more about him and his family life. I loved his family! This part was truly my favourite. Sheri has this brilliant ability to introduce more characters into her stories that you enjoy so much that you don’t want them to leave! Even the jerky ones (Lord Rupert Laytham) are still super interesting;) This story was short and sweet and definitely a treat to read at Christmas time. It will be on my list of Christmas reads for the years to come. Narrator Joel Froomkin as always delivers an amazing performance which just makes me want to go right back to Pickpocket’s Apprentice and start the series all over again. Really fabulous series with a wonderful blend of historical fiction, mystery and romance all written with a skillful hand and a light touch. I can not wait for the next book! Too Hot To Handel!!

I received Waiting Game: Another John Pickett Mystery free in exchange for an unbiased review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Dinner Most Deadly

  • Another John Pickett Mystery
  • By: Sheri Cobb South
  • Narrated by: Joel Froomkin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 217
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 217

When Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, returns from Scotland restless and out of sorts, her friend Emily Dunnington plans a select dinner party with half a dozen male guests from whom Julia may choose a lover. 

But Emily's dinner ends in disaster when one of her guests, Sir Reginald Montague, is shot dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great story supported by excellent narration

  • By Em Jay Reads on 12-13-17

A Delicious Dinner Mystery

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

Reviewed: 01-03-18

Dinner Most Deadly was a really great read. While I loved all of it, I adored the mystery part. Dinner party tension has always been one of my favourite murder mystery themes. In this story, Lady Julia Fieldhurst’s friend Lady Emily Dunington throws a dinner party to introduce Julia to a choice of potential new lovers. After the dinner, one ends up dead - time to call Bow Street! I loved following all the clues. Sheri is a giving author who provides all the info to the reader as John discovers it. The reader is able to follow all the steps with John, or even may manage to get to the truth before him. The backstories that are delved into regarding the suspects were all very interesting, and made me wish there were more chapters about each of them. Sheri introduces some great new characters that I hope she will keep around or maybe just bring back from time to time. This is definitely one of Sheri’s strength. She writes fascinating and fabulous characters that you want to be included in more of the series. Have to admit as much as he’s unpleasant, I enjoy reading the passages about Lord Rupert Laytham. He’s such good value and entertaining in his role, however I’m very glad he’s not the MC;) I was also delighted that Sheri chose to bring back another character from the last book, which was wonderful, am hoping we get to see more from that character popping up from time to time too.
.
Other random mentions regarding the story... I loved the matchmaking scene, it was a highlight. I also appreciated the reference to the three Bs - birth, breeding and brass and their reality. Class differences are really highlighted/magnified in this story, and rightly so. John and Julia are headed into territory where this is going to impact them dramatically, so it was imperative that the story involve all aspects of their situation. It was carefully detailed throughout the story and historically correct.

Lastly, I have been constantly impressed throughout this series with how Sheri has created a MC/hero/detective who is truly a kind, sincere good man. It is very refreshing to have a leading male who is decent, and not brooding, domineering and forceful. As a reader that means that I can enjoy John’s character and his journey completely without being conflicted by that kind of boorish behavior. There was a scene that was very slightly rough, however I seriously LOVED that Sheri did not in any way portray the anger as romantic. Intense emotion yes, but not sexy. Very well written!!

Favourite moments/quotes:
‘He was able to clear me of any involvement in Fredrick’s death, because I was innocent!’
Pickett wondered wistfully if there was any way to prove a conspiracy of five and thus hang the lot of them.
‘No one threatened to stab him with the butter knife.’
‘Particularly if he himself were unaware of the problem until quite recently, say within the last hour or two.’
‘I can assure you Mr Pickett will be well familiar with masculine bluster, after all I have met his magistrate.’
‘Mr. Pickett is leaving now, please throw...show him out.’
There could be no other reason why, in a city of a million souls, the absence of one should be so keenly felt.
This attempt at the epistolary arts joined its predecessor in the flames.
‘I doubt there is a married couple in existence who has not considered annulmnet at some point, or divorce or murder.’
‘If youth but knew. If age but could.’ (Henri Estienne)
‘Balderdash, if she were capable of such a thing I should have been dead years ago.’
‘Ah, but you know that I am not much of a lady, and I believe you have a greater claim to the title of gentleman than many who are born to it.’
Life is too short and love is too precious to waste time on things that don’t matter, not really, not when one’s future happiness is at stake.’
‘Do you know, I don’t think I shall tell you. It seems to me that a great part of your charm springs from the fact that you are utterly unaware of your own appeal. I should hate to spoil it.’

Narration: Joel Froomkin is one of those narrators who immediately makes you forget that it is just one person voicing all the different characters. His choice of accents and tones for the many characters are distinct and fantastic. Joel completely immerses the reader in the story, so it’s like taking a mini holiday. I’m loving this series and very happy that it has such an excellent narrator!

For those who like to know... an excellent clean read with no sex, profanity or graphic violence.

I received Dinner Most Deadly: Another John Pickett Mystery free in exchange for an unbiased review.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Warlock for Hire

  • Arcane Inc., Book 1
  • By: Sean Stone
  • Narrated by: Hannibal Hills
  • Length: 5 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 46

Just any warlock. Oh no, I'm a warlock for hire. Need magical assistance? I'm your guy. Whatever you need: spells, cures, or potions - I can provide. For a price. My life gets a tad more difficult when one particular customer comes knocking. Enter Ashley Sheridan. She's sexy, mysterious, and in a whole lot of trouble. I should have turned her away, but I just can't resist a good mystery. So I poked my nose where it doesn't belong and landed myself in trouble with a malignant seer. I have to do as he says or people are going to die. I'm not really known for cooperation, so I'll just have to find a way to kill him, before he kills the people I care about.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Everything ties together neatly at the end

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 02-15-18

Sorcery and Sarcasm!

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

Reviewed: 12-12-17

‘I have no one to blame but myself’ for reading this, and I’m sure glad I did, lol! Warlock for Hire was amusing and entertaining with an interesting storyline, and hard to put down until I finished. This is book one of Arcane Inc series by Sean Stone, and I was pleased that the book had a conclusion to the main storyline. There is a continuing arc that will lead into the rest of the series obviously, but the main focus of Warlock for Hire was resolved and had a solid ending. I always appreciate a complete story per book within a series, thanks Sean! I don’t believe in comparing books (every one is different, so ‘apples and oranges’), however I will just say that this book had a similar feel to Hearne’s Iron Druid, Butcher’s Dresden Files, Jonas’s Half Assed Wizard and Jacka’s Alex Verus series. They’re all great fun, and it’s always wonderful to see more authors adding to an exciting and fun genre.

Eddie Lancaster is a warlock for hire. Eddie is a self-confessed jerk and a straight-up dog, unapologetically so, but he still manages to be an enjoyable character. In all honesty, I think the author has been pretty realistic with Eddie’s inner monologue, as I don’t think most people would come across as very noble if we were all privy to their inner-most thoughts. Eddie is a decently fleshed out character. Sean has managed to give him a backstory, yet still maintain some mystery about Eddie’s past, so there is more to explore there. The story was fast and exciting with some mysterious elements to keep the reader guessing. Eddie’s latest client, Ashley Sheridan brings big trouble to Eddie’s door in the dangerous form of millionaire Killian Myers and Eddie is suddenly in way over his head. Sean has created lots of cool avenues to explore and expand as the series progresses. I'm looking forward to finding out exactly what kind of favour a very old vampire would request. I also think a future cameo by Jeffery could be interesting.

Narration: Han Hills' voice acting was great. The narrative was first person, so it was important that Han really embodied Eddie’s character. Han delivered, and his portrayal of Eddie’s sarcasm and snark was bang on. He did a fine job of defining all the characters’ voices and keeping the action riveting right up till the end. I hope Han continues to be the voice of Eddie, he was a hoot to listen to!

PS. I loved the reference to the Barnum effect. I was familiar with the technique, but hadn’t encountered the term (or its history) before. Always great to learn something new!

For those who like to know... there is violence and profanity. The profanity suits the characters and the story line, and is not overdone. There is no sex.

I received Warlock for Hire: Arcane Inc., Book 1 free in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • Hand and Talon

  • World of Kyrni, Book 1
  • By: Melonie Purcell
  • Narrated by: Kristin James
  • Length: 14 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

When Sorin, a cranky old soldier, barges in and decides to take over her life, Krea is less than enthused. Sure, he saved her from a brutal death at the hands of the guards, and he did stop decrepit faerie monsters from eating her. But declaring she isn’t human and dragging her through a cursed forest to the Royal City is going too far. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awesome listen!

  • By Heather North @AudiobookObsession on 12-26-17

I want to have a Counter!

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

Reviewed: 12-11-17

Please forgive my attempts at spelling the fantasy names:)

Hand and Talon was a great read, I’m really looking forward to book two. The story starts immediately as you are pulled into Krea’s world with your heart pounding, running and hiding from the guards. That really was the wrong bag to steal! Krea luckily encounters Sorin who alters her life path and takes her on an unexpected journey opening her eyes to her potential future. Along the way they add another young thief, Dane, to their traveling party. The foreshadowing in the story is captivating with hints that keep you guessing. All three characters have some mystery in the past that will be interesting to see unfold.

Teenage thief Krea is a bit of an antagonistic character at the start and not completely lovable. She has been surviving on her own for as long as she can remember, so she has developed somewhat of a prickly exterior. I loved that throughout the book Krea’s character grows and changes as she learns to adapt to her suddenly expanding world. She learns to consider other and care about them. The development was realistic and very well done. Krea’s history is intriguing as she has gaps in her memory, so there is a backstory still to be revealed in subsequent books. (I did like too that author Melonie Purcell gave an explanation for Krea's diction. I was curious from the beginning, so it was nice to have that addressed in the storyline). Sorin, the older mage/Caller/mentor provides the balance of maturity and sensibility to the trio. Dane is a young boy being used as a thief by a Runner. He’s adorable, but not at all twee. He is a street kid and Melodie has written him as such. Not all authors can do a good job of child characters, but Melonie really nailed it with both Krea (~15years old) and Dane (~7years old). Their bickering gave me a chuckle as they were so typical for their ages.

The world building was really interesting. I loved hearing about the different places in Krea’s world as well as the different creatures. There were so many wonderful elements that Melodie included in the tale: shape shifters (dragons, griffons, hippogryph, etc), mages, fairy creatures (Proth, Lorags, Fawath, Sheema), the protective strength of nature in the trees and water, and even an enchanted dagger with personality! I’m hoping there will be more in the next books about the Circle of Three, the Torbudon and of course Cricket! The Callers link with their Kyrni (shape shifters) and their songs to bring their Kyrni back was an ingenious idea. I liked too, how she called the shape shifter’s creature-identity their Counter. I can’t wait to see more of it as the series progresses. Melonie has done an amazing job of creating something new in the world of fantasy. I have seen and loved companions in fantasy before (ex. Mercedes Lackey), so I really enjoyed Melonie’s new approach to two beings linked together.

Favourite quotes:
‘The melody streamed into her mind and left her paralyzed as it floated around her, dancing, breathing with a life all its own.’
‘You couldn’t pass for a commoner if you were found dead in a pig trough.’
‘The thick lording oaks and elms had long since given way to tall white-barked aspens and airy willows that dipped their heavy branches in homage to the river that dominated the landscape.’
‘Only a fool tries to stop a river and only a fool underestimates one.’
‘The woman’s movements were mesmerizing, she was beyond graceful, each motion flowed into the next, much the way water navigated the rocks of a stream bed.’
‘They cloak themselves in the skin of men, but you can see their gnarled and twisted insides when you look right at them, when you look for their hearts and find only hatred, they be evil.’
‘How could you name me in such an offense.’
‘What kind of forest was this that even the path was afraid to enter!’
‘When clouds, mists and rain did not blink at the sky, the thick canopy of the forest pushed away the blue with leafy green and brown fingers.’
‘Learn to grow something instead of always trying to tear things down.’

Narration: Kristin James did a fine job of narrating Hand and Talon. I loved her choice of voices for the three main characters. Her children’s voices were particularly fabulous. When Krea and Dane started bickering, it really was like two little kids having a spat. Kristin’s pacing was perfect, she really kept the story moving and alive. I really hope she stays with the series and continues to voice these characters.

For those who like to know... there is no profanity or sex. There is some violence, I would recommend 12+ with caution for sensitive readers.

I received Hand and Talon: World of Kyrni Book 1 free in exchange for an unbiased review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Family Plot

  • Another John Pickett Mystery
  • By: Sheri Cobb South
  • Narrated by: Joel Froomkin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 221
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219

The third installment of the John Pickett series of humorous Regency mysteries finds Bow Street Runner Pickett in Scotland investigating a woman found unconscious on the beach - a woman who bears a striking resemblance to the local laird's daughter, a girl missing and presumed dead for the last 15 years. Pickett is surprised to discover that the woman was found by none other than Lady Fieldhurst and her three young nephews - and gratified to learn that her ladyship has registered at the seaside inn as Mrs. Julia Pickett.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Amazing John Pickett!

  • By Lady Meserole on 11-25-17

Another Amazing John Pickett!

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

Reviewed: 11-25-17

I have been absolutely loving this mystery series by Sheri Cobb South. Book one is called ‘In Milady’s Chamber’ and book two ‘Dead Bore’, but there is also a prequel called ‘The Pickpocket’s Apprentice’. I found that while each of Sheri’s books can easily be read as stand-alones, reading them in order and especially reading the prequel provide an even richer background for John Pickett. The books are all consistently great with intriguing mysteries and engaging characters, and just a bit of romance. An excellent blend and written exactly how a historical mystery should be written with the emphasis being on the mystery.

Sheri has done an incredible job with the historical aspect of the story. Her research must have been meticulously done. Being a massive Georgette Heyer (the Queen of historical fiction) fan, it is exciting to me to find another author who has taken the time and care to provide an excellent period piece.

The characters in Family Plot are well developed and very relatable. John Pickett is an unusual detective. He’s neither highly educated nor remarkably talented, and comes from a poor background. Irregardless of his birth, John is a true gentleman. He has integrity and treats everyone with respect and curtesy. As a detective, John is painstakingly careful and never rushes into judgment. He does his job well, as he is methodical and openminded. He is an extremely likeable character. Lady Julia Fieldhurst is as well. The best description I can think of for Julia is classy and practical with a dose of spunk. While I love the two main characters, the other characters are pretty terrific as well. I got a huge kick out of Lord Fieldhurst’s three boys, Harold, Robert and Edward (Ned). I hope that Sheri brings them into more books in the future. As always the magistrate, Patrick Calquhoun, is fantastic. His care and concern for John is very touching. I also loved how Patrick became more Scotch the longer they stayed in Scotland:) I love his scenes, he is always so amusing.

The storyline for Family Plot was exciting, captivating and sometimes very funny. Lady Julia had been banished to Scotland ‘for her sins’ by her deceased husband’s family. However, during her exile she was to have company in the form of her brother-in-law’s three illegitimate sons, banishment and babysitting combined in one trip. Once underway, the exiles decided to make their own arrangements, choosing both a different destination and surname. At their journey’s end, they stumbled upon the mysterious return of a local girl and the resulting family chaos. Bow Street was summoned and Lady Julia had some explaining to do. Julia and John, with some help from the kids, had another mystery to solve. Along the way, the reader gets all the clues to solve the mystery beside our sleuths. The denouement was very satisfying and rather funny, with Patrick having the last word, ‘I warned you to be circumspect in your dealings there…’ LOL!

Favourite quotes:
‘Arise slugabed and greet the dawn.’
‘A title, as you must know, covers a multitude of sins.’ ‘How very fortunate for him, for he has certainly committed a multitude of them.’
‘To where might they banish me for this new infraction, the Black Hole of Calcutta.’
‘You knew I wasn't a gentleman when you married me.’ ‘Very true, in fact it was a large part of your charm.’
‘With nary so much as a blush between them - scarcely a blush anyway.’
‘Surely a beautiful lady decking herself out in silks and satin is a case of gilding the lily.’
‘You were hardly alone in your indiscretion, I was an active participant and must be equally culpable.’
‘It was the high point of my existence.’
‘Needs must when the devil drives.’
‘Those with the most talk generally have the least action.’

Fun Fact: There was a real Patrick Calquhoun who was appointed the Magistrate of the Bow Street Runners in 1785. He began the Thames River Police Force (eventually called the Marine Police Force) and created the first preventative police force. Calquhoun’s methods, as written in his book ‘The Commerce and Policing of the River Thames’, were the building blocks for the Peelers/Bobbies, the police force under the direction of Sir Robert Peel operating out of Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police Act 1829).

Narration: Joel Froomkin is a fabulous narrator. His range of character voices and accents is quite extraordinary. His formal tone for the narration really sets the mood for the Georgian era. As well as the men, Joel did an amazing job voicing the young boys and the women. I can’t figure out how he did Lady Fieldhurst, she sounds just like an upper class woman. Joel has been added to my list of favourites narrators.

For those who like to know... there is no profanity, no sex and the violence is very mild. An excellent clean read.

I received Family Plot: Another John Pickett Mystery free in exchange for an unbiased review.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Smugglers & Scones

  • Moorehaven Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Morgan C. Talbot
  • Narrated by: Amina Cee
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

Pippa Winterbourne runs Moorehaven, the Oregon Coast's quirkiest bed-and-breakfast and former home of world-famous mystery writer A. Raymond Moore. Guests come there to write their own crime novels. When a real-life murder takes a local's life and washes a handsome boat pilot into her arms, Pippa is yanked into a deadly plot of her own. A tangle of secrets crashes past into present, and Pippa must uncover clues dating back to Seacrest's Prohibition days, including a secret Moore himself hid from the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Small-Town Cozy with a Literary Twist

  • By Megan P. on 11-07-17

A Sweet Mystery!

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

Reviewed: 11-15-17

Smugglers and Scones is an entertaining new cosy mystery by author Morgan C. Talbot. Morgan shows her writing talent as the story draws you in immediately and takes you to a quaint oceanside bed and breakfast with lots of quirky characters. Morgan provides a detailed history for the Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast Inn(catering to mystery writers only), and its former owner, mystery novelist A. Raymond Moore. It was a great idea to make the deceased author Moore present throughout the story, he was a very interesting character (I even looked him up to see if he was real:). The history of the Inn and its previous owner really brought a rich background, as well as a little mystery, to the story. I kept imagining the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Oregon (look it up and check out the fun rooms designed after famous authors) as Moorehaven.

Other fun and interesting additions to the story included the ‘mandatory’ cats (with the names of characters from Raymond Moore’s books), the library with Moore’s manuscripts and the bookstore in Moorehaven (selling the guest writers’ books), the local history of rum running and the old speakeasy under the On the Rocks club, a treasure hunt, the zany Glaze and Gossip crowd and of course the scrumptious scones!

Favourite lines:
‘Donuts are gooey lies, you can trust scones.’
‘That’s the difference between real people and fictional characters. Real people are allowed to be boring.’

Besides the history, the mystery writers were my favourite part of the story. The pop quizzes Pippa gives them where they have to ‘put your MC in this scenario...’ at the dinner table was a cool concept to throw into a mystery novel. Then of course the writers’ joy and ‘helpfulness’ when dealing with an actual crime was pretty fun as well. I wish there had been more focus on the authors and their interaction with the main character/Inn owner Pippa. Great Uncle Hilt was also a great character. I hope there will be more of the writers and Uncle Hilt in her subsequent books. I would like an Uncle Hilt!

Minor quibble: Pippa was a likable, strong, smart character until she was alone with Lake and then she seemed to devolve into a rather vacuous teenage girl. The rest of the book was so good and I liked Pippa very much, so it was disappointing to have these moments where her personality changed. I don’t mind the Pippa and Lake romance, I just wish Pippa’s character had stayed ‘herself’ while relating to Lake. I’m not sure if the narration exaggerated these moments. The dialogue may come across better in the print version.

Narration: Amina Cee had good pacing and a pleasant reading voice, and there were some shining moments in the narration. She did a good job of differentiating between characters and keeping her tone suitable for the action/emotion in the story. She sounds like a fairly new narrator and I think she has a lot of potential to become a strong voice actor.

For those who like to know... Smugglers and Scones is a sweet clean read, no sex, no profanity, and the violence was mild.

I received Smugglers and Scones: Moorhaven Mysteries, Book 1 free in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • Steamborn: The Complete Trilogy Box Set

  • By: Eric Asher
  • Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
  • Length: 27 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,802
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,682
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,681

A supernatural swarm. A treacherous scheme. A tinker's apprentice may be the village's only hope. This collection includes Steamborn, Steamforged, and Steamsworn. Grab it and crank up a whimsical thrill-ride today!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Incredible Ride!!

  • By Lady Meserole on 11-09-17

An Incredible Ride!!

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

Reviewed: 11-09-17

For honour, for friends, for family, for country, protect those who cannot protect themselves and woe be unto the man who shatters his vow, for we are the Steamsworn.

This was my first foray into the world of Steampunk and it was outstanding. I loved The Steamborn Trilogy by Eric Asher. It’s so rare to find a series where all three books are equally excellent. It really was 27+ hours of sheer excitement and enjoyment. The characters in these books were wonderful and fully realized. While there is tons of action in the series, the story is very much character driven and definitely a team effort. All characters are important and have their strengths and weaknesses, and their value to the team. The characters really bring heart to the story with their love and loyalty, and their dedication to do everything they can at whatever cost to protect their cities and their people.

The story opens with regular life in the Lowlands (the poor section) in the city of Ancora and the main character gearing up to dance the Cotillion (I was surprised/happy to see the Cotillion, haven’t seen it mentioned outside of a Georgette Heyer) at the big Festival Dance. Fifteen year old Jacob splits his time between thieving to help his poor family and working with a wonderful and brilliant old tinker named Charles to learn the trade. Jacob’s best friend, and partner in the Cotillion and other amusements is Alice, a very capable and caring girl. Alice is usually the one to temper Jacob’s proclivity for pilfering and misconduct, well, unless there is a bookstore she can’t get in to and then it’s ‘Should we break the window?’ Then there is Samuel, a Spider Knight, who patrols the city on his Jumper (massive spider), Bessie. As the story progresses, terror and chaos soon rain down upon the Lowlands and the characters must work together to find resolution. In doing so they must set out to travel the lands outside the city of Ancora. The world opens up and we learn about mysterious places like Cave, The Scorched Plain, The Deadlands, Bollwerk, Fel, Dauschen, The Burning Forest, Beldorn and the Sea of Salt. New characters are introduced as the story unfolds; Drakkar, Skysworn Mary, Smith, Gladys, George (#1), Archibald and more. There are some really fabulous characters and I hope we will see more of this world and these characters in the future!

Full disclosure: I am terrified of spiders. I know, it’s silly and irrational, but my immediate response is terror (not terribly fond of bugs either.) However, I was fascinated by all the insects in Steamborn. The descriptions were so vivid, I found myself listening intently to every word, so I could really visualize what these creatures looked like and how they moved. In the end, I quite fell for Jumper spider Bessie and got a kick out of George #2 (a Walker with 40 legs!) with his quirky personality during his small part in the story. The creatures in the books were really quite fantastic. There were Jumpers, Walkers, Red Death, Widow Makers, cute Pill Bugs, Giant Mantises, Sky Needles and that was just in the first book. Just when you think you’ve encountered them all there’s Fire Lizards, Tail Swords, Stone Dogs, Tree Killers, Plague Bugs, Emerald Needles and still more. They were all so different and so intriguing that I wanted to hear more about each creature, except maybe the Carrion worms. Ok, those ones were really icky (but I was still mesmerized by the details;).

Eric has done an amazing job of world building. He manages to introduce the reader to the world and its history through the dialogue and the action that takes place. It’s such a seamless integration, enriching the story without any info dumps. His treatment of the technology was pretty amazing. Everything from the weaponry (bolt guns, grappling guns, chain guns), transport (Porcupines, Bollwerk Cruisers, Puffing Demons/Crawlers), bio-mechs and everyday tools were described in such a way that they could be visualized and understood without the descriptions ever becoming too technical or heavy handed. Eric really does have a brilliant imagination and the ability to convey his imaginings through glorious detail. You really experience the ride as you read!

Favourite lines:
‘What did you shoot that with?’ - ‘Science!’
‘I have no use for cruelty.’
‘I have heard tales of the fire in the hearts of flame haired maidens. I begin to think they have some truth.’
‘Leave me to my complaints would you, I don’t know what else to do with myself.’
The architecture changed so fast it almost felt violent.’
‘I’ve always found humans to be the most frightening thing that lurks in the dark.’
‘Whoever loses has no say in what history remembers.’
‘Mankind will always be mankind. It fights what it fears. It rages against change and it kills almost without conscience.’
‘It will also get better and those are the times that must live in your heart to chase away the darkness.’
‘You will change your mind when you’re older and have less sense.’
‘The bombs added their own instruments to the chaotic symphony of stamping invaders and the cannon fire of warships outside.’
Mantra of the Sky Riders: ‘Look at the world with an unbiased eye and its secrets will fall away.’

Narration: Saskia Maarleveld’s narration was absolutely gorgeous and her pacing was perfect. She voiced women, men and children equally well, providing excellent and appropriate voices and depth of emotion for each character. She pulls you right into the story and you never want it to end. Saskia is right up there with top narrators like Barbara Rosenblat, Katherine Kellgren, Steven Crossley, Hugh Fraser and Stephen Briggs.

I have been recommending the series to everyone. A good friend bought the trilogy for her 13 year old daughter who is an avid reader (reads JK Rowling, Jean Auel, Ken Follett, Steven King, Cassandra Clare, etc). She has so far zoomed through the first book and proclaimed it ‘amazing’, and is now in the midst of the second which she is loving.

For those who like to know... There is lots of violence (battle situations), no sex and no profanity until the last book where it is sparingly used and does fit the scenarios. Unless a sensitive reader, I would recommend 13+ .

I received The Steamborn Trilogy free in exchange for an unbiased review.

Through the black we ride once more within the flames our fortunes told.
The gates of hell lay broken wide within the steam no hold abides.
Feared and cast upon the stones, we fight to save the sacred lives.
When all is done and all is safe, find me in that Steamsworn grave.

62 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Reawakening

  • The Passage of Hellsfire, Book 3
  • By: Marc Johnson
  • Narrated by: Bryan Zee
  • Length: 7 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

To undo a mistake made a thousand years in the past, the wizard Hellsfire used his magic to bring down the Great Barrier that once divided the northern and southern lands. In doing so, he nearly brought war to his own homeland, and he afflicted the love of his life, Princess Krystal of Alexandria, with a potent and deadly curse. Since then, Hellsfire has been working in Tyree with its Elemental Council, to rebuild its war-torn land and find a way to break Krystal's curse. Now Krystal's time is running out.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best in Series

  • By Striker on 06-05-18

Reawakening

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

Reviewed: 10-10-17

First off I should mention that I am starting the series with book three. I haven’t read books 1 and 2, so I can’t comment on how well this book fits into the trilogy. I will say that I didn’t have any trouble getting into the story and didn’t feel like I was missing any vital information. Marc Johnson’s writing flows very well, and keeps the reader engaged. First person narrative can be difficult, but he did a nice job of not just characterizing Hellsfire, but also providing depth for some of the peripheral characters as well as describing the world. There were some cool concepts/beings he introduced like the Malika (sp?), Hellsfire’s Darkfire, Crosswalkers, the Burning Sands, the walking construct and the Elemental Counsel.

I’m not sure if discussing the book’s first few pages constitutes spoilers, so I’ll say **Spoiler** just in case: The book began and I was fully engaged with the story, then I was let down with a bump as it was merely a dream sequence. I’m not enamored with dream sequences especially when they start off a story, as the reader feels that they are starting off on the adventure only for it to be a fake scene in a character’s head. That being said after I read the next event, I realized the author was using the dream and the following event as a method to provide backstory for the MC rather than just a straight info dump. So for anyone who dislikes the dream idea, do hang in there as it does serve a necessary purpose and is more interesting that just paragraphs filling in the history. **End Spoiler**

Hellsfire is a decent character. He tends to dwell a bit on his guilt, but he is likable and tries to do right by everyone. I found the scrying and flashbacks to Krystal an interesting way of keeping her somewhat of a main character and present throughout the narrative even though she isn’t actually along for the ride. I would really like to see more of what she’s like as a character when she’s not incapacitated. There were also some interesting and quirky minor characters that would be fun to explore in more detail in the other books (previous or subsequent depending on the character’s intro).

Minor quibbles... I didn’t enjoy the part of the story with Serena and Alana as much as the rest. It felt like this part stalled the storyline a bit and the family bickering was annoying. Also Serena’s use of ‘cutie’ pulled me out of the narrative every time she said it. However, it wasn’t a long part of the adventure and was over fairly quickly.

Narration: Bryan Zee had a pleasant voice and he read at a decent pace. His accent (Australian?) added to the narrative. As a personal preference, I like fantasy read with an accent as it tends to add to the other world-ness for me. Bryan did a good job of voicing Hellsfire, showing both the heart and determination of the character. Occasionally some of the minor character voices weren’t consistent, but he did a nice job of showing character emotion and relaying the excitement of the story. You could tell he was fully engaged in the story and enjoying the narration.

For those who like to know... there are two ‘almost’ sex scenes (very mild) and the swearing was kept to such a minimum, I think there were only two words uttered in the entire book. There was much violence and gore, but it did suit the storyline. I think the book could be suitable for YA depending on the teen.

I received Reawakening: The Passage of Hellsfire, Book 3 free in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • Thread of a Spider

  • By: D.L. Gardner
  • Narrated by: Lee Brophy
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 16

Following an ambush at the Upton Rail Station in 1921 Ireland, British troops burn Ailis' home to the ground and arrest her fiancé, Liam, for murder. She and her younger brother Paddy flee to an enchanted glen. Lured by a haunting song, Paddy is abducted by forest folk. Perilous obstacles and a questionable stranger hinder Ailis' attempts to find her brother or free her fiancé, until her only hope for survival rests on the magic of the fae.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent!

  • By Lady Meserole on 10-03-17

Excellent!

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

Reviewed: 10-03-17

Wow, I just went to Ireland. The sights, the sounds, the smells were all around me and I felt like I could actually reach out and touch the things described in each scene. DL Gardner's writing is so vivid you are there with the characters, running, hiding, fighting and weeping. Thread of a Spider is such an amazing story, I had book depression when it ended. I wanted to go back to Ireland and spend more time with these wonderful characters and roam in this amazing country.

The main characters in the story are Paddy and his older sister Ailis. It is 1921 and the Upton Rail Station ambush had just taken place in County Cork. The IRA had attacked a passenger train carrying British soldiers. In retaliation, the British burned homes and beat or killed anyone they suspected of being involved with the rebellion. The story begins at this point in history. DL Gardner weaves the actual history of the time period with the folklore of the Irish. I really loved this idea as the reader is introduced to both real history as well as Irish myths. I liked very much how the real world stood in stark contrast to the beautiful world of the Fae, it really added to the imagery. I also felt anyone who has lived through war or desperate times ‘would’ wish that mythical worlds, creatures or magic were actually real and might provide some escape from their plight.

The story is appropriate for 13+, but adult readers please note this is not a childish portrayal. It is based on real history with its violence and horrors as viewed through the eyes of young adults. We study a lot of history in our family and I wish this book had been available when my kids were younger, though they will still love it now. Thread of a Spider is a part of history that kids today should learn. The characters are very normal teens living during a terrible time. They are brave, loyal and very likable characters that you root for all the way through the story. Their care and concern for each other is the light that keeps them fighting against the darkness brought by the Black and Tans and the dreaded Auxiliary soldiers.

Some favourite passages:
‘A soft evening to you.’
'I'm a coward, but I swear I'll get over it!'
‘He was so calm, a sharp contrast to the quivering of her heart.’
'Iridescent colours danced in the sunlight teasing the eye with shades of blue, purple and green.’
'I hear mournful hearts.'
'Humans puzzle us and often irritate us.'
'None of us has much defense, but we fight anyway.'

Stand-out moment: When Ailis takes the Webley and does what she has to do. Amazing scene with no fluff or needless conversation. Unfair that she is in this position, but there is no option.

Narration: Lee Brophy did an amazing job narrating. His beautiful Irish accent was perfect for the story, and combined with DL Gardner’s writing it really was a brilliant match. Lee did a great job of giving voice to each of the characters and expressing their emotions. I will be looking for more stories narrated by Lee.

Full disclosure: I listened to the story twice it was so good!

For those who like to know... there was no profanity or sex. There was violence, but not gore.

I received Thread of a Spider Free in exchange for an unbiased review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful