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  • The Painter of Time

  • By: Matthew S O'Connell
  • Narrated by: Susan Fouche
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Bronx born and bred, Mackenzie Ferrara is both nervous and excited to begin her career as a restorer of fine art at the prestigious Cloisters in New York City. The star of the restoration team is a handsome and reserved Italian, Anthony Bataglia. On loan from the Ufizzi, he is renowned for his ability to bring pre-Renaissance treasures back to life. Despite a rocky start, the two form a close working relationship, which Mackenzie hopes will blossom into something more. But as she works with him she begins to notice patterns and unexplainable similarities in all of his restorations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Tour of the Great Italian Painters

  • By DabOfDarkness on 09-26-18

Tour of the Great Italian Painters

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This is a charming contemporary tale that incorporates the lives of some of the great Italian artists from Medieval and Renaissance times such as Berlinghiero Berlinghieri, Daddi, Giotto, Filippo Lippi, and Michelangelo. Mackenzie is an engaging character with her skills in art restoration, her cat Octavius, and living with her dad Joe (a retired detective). She’s very excited to be working at the Cloisters restoring old paintings. Anthony Bataglia, a renowned restorer, will be mentoring her. Indeed, Mackenzie is on Cloud 9 with the direction her live is taking. But then she starts to suspect something else is going on with some of the paintings. She notices a small anomaly in a few paintings that span several decades. Her dad offers to help her dig into the matter and what they uncover doesn’t look good for Bataglia.

The suspense is well done, cranking the reader up chapter by chapter. There’s also small flashbacks to the lives of these renowned Italian artists. Eventually, it’s revealed what Bataglia’s connection is to these artists and Mackenzie is astounded. I really liked the flashbacks even though they didn’t linger over historical details. The flashback that had the most impact on me involved the bubonic plague.

At that point, Bataglia becomes the focus of the tale. Mackenzie falls to the background, turning into a pale reflection of Bataglia’s interesting life. I was a bit sad to see that Mackenzie lost a good chunk of her personality at this point.

The romance is a slow burn that I could see coming a mile off. At first, I didn’t mind. After all, the two are interested in the same things. However, I didn’t like how Mackenzie’s personality shrunk as the story became all about Bataglia. While he is arguably the most interesting character in the story, I needed Mackenzie to continue to stand out to bring balance to it. The romance turned Mackenzie into a silly girl who lost her head over her first serious love interest.

Getting back to Bataglia, he laid out a believable past and one that Mackenzie eventually came to believe. There’s a dramatic bit near the ending that pushed Mackenzie to bouts of tears and depression and I was surprised that she couldn’t see through the ruse. It was obvious to me. Then finally, that little bit about Bataglia getting a few grey hairs – Ah! That was genius because now I question if Bataglia is really what he says he is or just a master story teller and manipulator. I get to decide and I really liked that about the ending. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Susan Fouche did a fantastic job with this narration. He New York and Italian accents really brought this story to life. Her pacing was perfect and her male voices were believable. She had distinct voices for all the characters. Plenty of emotions are on display in this tale and Fouche brought them all to life. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

  • Dragon's Heart

  • The Dragon Fey Saga, Book 1
  • By: Michelle Rabe
  • Narrated by: Karen-Eileen Gordon
  • Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

Serena Harlowe always knew her place. A foundling placed with the tutor of Illedrian royalty, she grew to be a talented fighter. After rising to the rank of lieutenant in the royal army, she proves her worth and thwarts the attempted assassination of the man she loves. The selfless act will change her life forever and start a chain of events that will unlock her hidden past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Different and fun

  • By erobbins33 on 08-26-16

Cute story, easy read

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This tale started off strong. Serena and Prince Killian have been friends for years and are in love with each other. They are comfortable with one another. While they don’t know how they will ever manage to be together in wedlock, they are ready to face the challenge together.

There’s plenty of scheming going on. Killian’s grandmother doesn’t want a lowly orphan (Serena) wed to her grandson (second in line to the throne). While Killian’s dad doesn’t put in much of an appearance, he isn’t willing to go against his own mother on this issue. However, there’s this past that has been kept hidden from both Serena and Killian. That secret could grant them the freedom to marry or rip them apart.

And once Serena learns that secret, things get a little silly. Serena no longer feels worthy of Killian’s love and spends way too much time worried what he will think of her new looks. Serena started off as a lieutenant in the royal army training Killian in sword play. This means she has callouses, a partial tan, grit under her nails, and possibly a few scars. Alas, she turns into a silly woman concerned with fashion and such as the story goes on. I really liked her in the beginning and I was sad to see all her good, practical traits get pushed aside for dramatic romance.

Killian also gets silly. He was basically a sidekick to begin with, having only a little personality and just his royal status to bring to the table. I was hoping he’d grow with the tale but he back slid a bit becoming a figure that gets pushed around by his grandmother and fiance.

Now there are worthy foes in this story. The Dark Fey have been working in the background for generations and are largely responsible for decimating the Dragon Fey a generation ago. Serena has to learn her true family’s history and culture but Otis (her adviser) withholds a key bit of info that strongly affected how she handled Killian. I felt that this was done just to add drama so I felt a little cheated when it was revealed to Serena near the end of the book.

I really liked the side character Ryan. He’s friends with both Serena and Killian and he works really hard to get the two back together while also respecting their wishes. There were times I just wanted to knock all their heads together but I also could see why Ryan played it like he did. I also liked Bronwyn, another Dragon Fey, as she provides a shoulder to cry on for Serena. I expect she will continue to be a good friend to Serena in the series.

The story leaves the two lovers in an unconventional relationship, which was fine since it isn’t the classic boring happy ending. However, by the end I was a bit fatigued by the romance. I’m more of a Fantasy Genre person and there was very little world building or magic systems in this tale. So once the main characters became boring, there wasn’t much to fall back on. All told, it was OK. 3/5 stars.

The Narration: Karen-Eileen Gordon did an amazing job on this narration. She had the perfect creepy voices for the Dark Fey. I also liked her old lady imperious voice for Killian’s grandmother. Her male voices were believable and she had distinct voices for all the characters. There plenty of emotions in this tale with the weepy romance and Gordon did a god job portraying those as well. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

  • When Tomorrow Calls

  • Complete Boxed Set: Books 1-3
  • By: JT Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Roshina Ratnam
  • Length: 27 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67

The complete set of the When Tomorrow Calls series is now available on audiobook, including Why You Were Taken, How We Found You, and What Have We Done. Experience JT Lawrence's chilling vision of the all-too-near future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Sci-fi Adventure

  • By cosmitron on 05-26-18

Yes! We need more African cyberpunk stories!

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

Why You Were Taken review

I’m thoroughly enjoying this series! The prequel gave us a taste of what was possible from these characters and setting. Kirsten and Keke make a great team. They are both dedicated journalists and each has a history of being in dangerous situations. Set in a near future South Africa, showers & swimming pools are practically unheard of, the fertility rate has plummeted, and paper communications (like printed receipts, etc.) are practically unheard of. Yet tech has continued to progress. I loved this aspect of the book! Keke has a tattoo that changes colors with her insulin levels, letting her know when she needs a shot. Some people have implants tied to a small tablet (called a tile) for all their communication stuff and more.

There are several flashbacks sprinkled through out the story. It did take me a while to realize that they were flashbacks. I know I should have picked up on that sooner, I just thought this flashback character had some fascination with the 1990s. Anyway, the flashback storyline turns out to be very important for our main characters and over all, I liked it. All told, 4.5/5 stars.

How We Found You review

This was a pretty good sequel though if you picked it up without Book 1, you could read it as a standalone.

Kate (aka Kirsten) is raising her two kids (Silver & Mally) with her brother Seth and their very good friend Keke. She knows that Mally is special and she has her guesses as to why but she’s not sure what to do with it. Pretty soon, it becomes apparent that someone is after one or both of her kids and she has to unravel the mystery she walked away from 4 years ago in order to save them.

Sometimes I loved Kate and sometimes she was tedious. Even though I understand why she’s stressed out and sometimes loses her temper and wits, I still wanted to give her a small slap to bring her back to reality. Freaking out isn’t going to keep anyone safe and it did create a few lags in the story. I still find Kate’s synethesia fascinating and so many of the side characters are great, including the new guy Zach.

Keke is my true fascination. I want to be her side kick! So I was a little sad to see how limited her role was in this book. The plot is wrapped around a prophecy that has the kids caught up in it. I really enjoyed how this unfolded. 4.5/5 stars.

What Have We Done review

Wow! What a mind trip! This tale opens several years after the ending of Book 2 but there’s plenty of things in this story that refer to earlier books in the series so it wouldn’t make a stand alone book. Mally and Silver are both nearly 16 and they have grown up in a very different world than their mother Kate (who is a self-imposed technosaur). For the first half of the book, we’re really just getting to know the tech of the day and catching up with the characters we’ve fallen in love with along the way.

Keke is still my favorite character. She’s got a bigger role in this novel than she had in Book 2 (yay!). Marko, her friend with benefits/non-exclusive significant other, has run off to an ashram in India and Keke is a little heartsick over it, not knowing if he will ever return. Meanwhile, Seth (Kate’s twin brother) has stuck around to help raise the kids and he still has this torch burning for Keke. By the end of this book, I think he might be a great fit for her even if she’s still pining for Marko. Kate herself is trying to be a good mom but two rebellious kids in a world filled with tech that Kate doesn’t fully understand makes things difficult. Zack has been doing hard time at SkyRest for all those pesky murders in Book 2.

OK, so robots are everywhere and doing everything for humans in this near future South Africa. Some robots are strictly service bots with no AI and then there’s a whole range of AI in the more complex bots. Some bots have rights and some don’t. Like sexually harassing a lingerie bot is illegal but is only referred to as interference and doesn’t carry the same weight as such an act against a human. There’s those that are fighting for equal rights for the bots and there’s those that don’t want any rights for the bots.

Then a few bots loose their crap and people die. Runawayrunawayrunaway! The ending gives us a big mindscrew. Yep. Oh my! I loved it because it means our heroes have to take a big leap. 4.5/5 stars.

Narration review

Roshina Ratnam is phenomenal with this series. I’m loving her narration and really appreciate the skill she brings to the table. This tale is set in a near future South Africa and there’s several African accents. I’m completely untutored in African languages but Ratnam was made it possible for me to hear the differences in the various accents (for example, Zulu and Nigerian). She also did a great job with Kate’s wildly swinging emotions (as needed), Seth’s fear & determination, Keke’s deep concern, and Marko’s intense fear. She had perfect little kid voices for Mally and Silver. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by JT Lawrence. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Punk Pandemonium: Metal Magic 2

  • By: Brian Barr
  • Narrated by: Rick Gregory
  • Length: 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

In this sequel to Metal Magic, a punk musician finds a guitarist grimoire. He simplifies the chord progressions and notes to turn the grimoire's songs into punk songs, which produces some interesting effects. Blood, gore, and mayhem await in Punk Pandemonium

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Old OG fan boys are the worst

  • By Spooky Mike on 06-06-18

Punk has never been so horrific!

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

Noter: Even though this is Book 2, it works fine as a stand alone story.

I had a lot of fun with this short tale. Joey is all about appreciating the music. He doesn’t want to get caught up in the haters, those that point and laugh at people for not being punk enough. And how punk is punk? Who has the definition of punk down anyway? The spikes and clothespins wearers? The classic punks? How about the new age punk smash ups? No, not Joey. He doesn’t care as long as the punk music rocks his soul.

Unfortunately, there’s Doc Martin heckling him, other patrons (especially those Star Wars t-shirt wearing fans), and the band. It’s a dark, seedy locale but the patrons don’t care about that. It’s just the right atmosphere for a truly punkish night. Joey is determined to not let Doc Martin ruin his night.

And then things get messy. Really messy! I was enjoying the story even as I waited for the gorefest to begin. This isn’t my first Brian Barr rodeo, so I knew it was just around the corner. Barr does not disappoint! Joey experiences the most horrendous night of his life.

The ending loosely ties back to Metal Magic but works fine for a stand alone tale. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory was a perfect match for this story. He makes a great Joey, a guy who’s just trying to mind his own business and enjoy the music. He also makes a great Doc Martin, having an older gruff voice for this obnoxious character. Gregory’s enjoyment of the the final gorefest came through as well. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

  • Liberty Landing: A Novel

  • By: Gail Vida Hamburg
  • Narrated by: Colleen MacMahon
  • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

After Angeline Lalande, a journalist and historian, unearths the real meaning of the name Azyl, conferred on the town in the 1800s by immigrant-hating politicians, the town elders begin the act of renaming it. During the course of the renaming, we meet the intriguing denizens of the town -survivors, strugglers, and strivers of every race and nationality, and see the intersection of their lives and the ways they find home, heaven, and haven in each other. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It's all about the characters

  • By DabOfDarkness on 09-26-18

It's all about the characters

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This wasn’t the book I was expecting but it turned out to be interesting. The story opens with Gabriel who’s just gotten off the bus in Azyl Park with no Green Card, no family or friends, no references. Within a few days he has a job working at an upscale store that sells diamonds. In fact, within the first week of working there, he’s trusted with access to the diamond vault. This seemed quite a stretch for me and I worried how the rest of the story would go. After all, Gabriel isn’t related to anyone at his new job, he’s not friends with the boss, and he arrived with no references. It’s just Gabriel’s good nature that prevents him from stealing some diamonds and running off.

Despite that unrealistic opening, the rest of the tale was endearing and rooted in reality. Gabriel went on to be one of my favorite characters. We also meet Neena who is a professional match maker, Tina Trang who works in real estate, Angeline who is a professional journalist, and an Australian celebrity in hiding. Tina often came off as a little mean and yet I still liked her. I could see why she was frustrated with her husband, who was stuck on searching for spiritual balance and peace instead of living life. I also really liked the Australian bloke (sorry I forgot his name) because he made the hard choice to walk away from his ridiculous celebrity life in search of something more meaningful.

Neena became the heart of this story but at first I wasn’t sure I would connect with her. I tend to view professional match makers with a bit of skepticism. While Neena’s truly in it for true love, not all her matches are twin soul matches. I especially became interested in her family. She and her husband emigrated from India and now their grown children need to be reminded of their heritage. I was quite attached to her by the end of the tale.

Angeline has been researching her own heritage as well as Alexander Hamilton. She comes from the Caribbean island of Nevis by way of Louisiana and Washington D.C. Gabriel has great respect for her work, especially covering Palestinian affairs. Initially, I was intrigued by Angeline and I thoroughly enjoyed the little snippets on Hamilton. However, there were several moments where I found Angeline to be a little immature and emotionally insecure. That bogged the story down a bit.

Over all, it’s a tale where not much happens but you fall in love with several of the characters anyways. It’s all about character development in this book. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Colleen MacMahon has a very pleasant voice to listen to. While she has a nice light English accent, her accents for many of the characters didn’t come through at all. Since so many of the characters are newly immigrated to the US, I expected to hear those accents reflected in this narration. Indian, Palestinian, Korean, Australian, etc. And since this story takes place in the US, I expected to hear an American accent but several words, like turquoise, were not pronounced in the American way. Her best accent was the Australian one, though it did fluctuate a bit. Sometimes I could hear that she was attempting the others, but they weren’t clear or consistent. Her pacing was also a little slow. There were no technical issues with this recording. 3/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Gail Vida Hamburg. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • The Secret Chord (The Conor McBride Series - Mystery Suspense Thriller Book 2)

  • By: Kathryn Guare
  • Narrated by: Wayne Farrell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Conor McBride has lost everything, and if he can't find a way to disappear in a hurry, the next thing he loses could be his life. Running from enemies he's never met and haunted by his own destructive actions, Conor needs a refuge secure enough to hold his secrets. A farmhouse inn tucked amidst the green mountains of Vermont seems ideal, but when his past catches up with him, Conor discovers the beautiful young innkeeper has secrets of her own, and hers are more likely to get them both killed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good adventure

  • By cosmitron on 03-31-18

Espionage versus Romance

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

I was really excited to dig into this book because Book 1 was so good. This story had it’s charms as well but I did enjoy the first book more. Our hero, Conor McBride, is in dire need of some serious rest and relaxation. He goes to great pains to walk away from the espionage business that entangled him and his brother in Book 1. A fancy but quiet Vermont Bed & Breakfast needs an experienced dairy farmer and that’s right up Conor’s alley.

At the B&B, he meets Kate (the owner) and Abigail (the motherly demanding chef). Kate is a painter who’s currently suffering from artist’s block. She sits in front of her canvas day in and day out not painting because she lacks that spark. She does have a good sense of humor and can be stubborn and decisive. Sometimes I liked her and sometimes I rolled my eyes at her. She’s initially a little prickly with Conor, assuming that Conor has assumed she’s incompetent at farm work. Kate says she’s good with the tractor but we never see her doing any farm work, so I have my doubts.

Kate is directly tied to my one complaint for this book. I don’t mind a little romance with my espionage thriller, but I do mind characters being idiots and Kate was often an idiot and it usually was because of the romance. She is idiotically jealous over something Conor mumbles in his sleep. In another incident, she feels that Conor needs to ask her forgiveness and I felt she was being high handed, needy, and immature. Finally, there’s this end stage of the spy operation and Kate insists on going along with no spy training. This was such a bad idea but she bullies her way into it, endangering everyone. I really dislike it when stories use this particular ploy to make room for drama later on. So, yeah, I wanted to like Kate but I felt that she was mostly useless and at times detrimental to the other characters.

I loved that Conor played his violin for Kate. They chat about art in general and her artist’s block. Conor makes a comment along the line that Kate is making it all about herself instead of the art – and that sums up Kate perfectly. She’s not a bad person but she is self-centered.

Along this same line, I have to say that the ladies in this book are all comforters or love interests. Kate and Abigail and Yvonne (I think I have her name right) are well written but I wanted more from the women in general. It’s the modern age and lady spies have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It would nice to see that reflected here.

Setting that aside, it was great to have Frank Murdoch and Sedgewick back in the game. Conor thought he had been clever, had left his old life behind, but he’s also new to all this spy business. So he’s not too surprised when Murdoch reaches out and has an assignment for him. There’s some unfinished business with Vasily Draganov, the big baddie from Book 1. Conor is still mourning his brother Thomas and his mother Brigid and the loss of the family farm. I could easily see how torn Conor was – go after this man or put it all behind him and try to heal.

At the end of Book 1, I wasn’t sure how much to trust Sedgewick and Murdoch but now there is a true bond among the three men. They each go through this new crisis and come out knowing each other better. Sedgewick is still a bit paranoid and rougher around the edges and Murdoch is still all proper English (doing his best to hide his heritage).

There’s plenty of double crossing and double agents stuff going on. It’s clear by the end of Book 1 that one of the good guys was feeding intel to one of the bad guys. Now in this book, that gets dealt with and wrapped up. Also, there’s a lingering string back to Thomas and to Conor’s farm caretaker (no longer employed since he sold the place) Phillip. I was delightfully surprised with the big reveal on that and also on how it got handled.

All told, 4/5 stars. If the next book comes to audiobook land, I will give it a listen because I think Kate can grow and become useful.

The Narration: Wayne Farrell was great! He has a light Irish accent for Conor that is just perfect. He also does a good job with the female voices. I loved his voice for Sedgewick, especially when Sedgewick was being rude or was in the grip of malaria or alcohol. He also had a good kid voice for the young lad. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kathryn Guare. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • The Hidden Village

  • By: Imogen Matthews
  • Narrated by: LIAM GERRARD
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

Deep in the Veluwe woods lies Berkenhout, a purpose-built village of huts sheltering dozens of persecuted people. But the Germans can find no proof of its existence. The whole community pulls together to help the Berkenhout inhabitants adjust to a difficult new life and, above all, stay safe. Sofie, a Jewish Dutch girl, struggles to adapt to living in Berkenhout, away from her family and friends. As weeks turn to months, she’s worried they’ll abandon her altogether.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Educational & charming

  • By DabOfDarkness on 09-26-18

Educational & charming

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This was an educational and charming tale about Nazi occupied Holland during WWII. ‘Charming’ probably sounds a little odd for the subject but it was mostly a light-hearted tale about hiding in the woods and pulling the wool over the eyes of the Nazis. Jan, a lad of 11 years old, plays a major role in the story and for much of it, this was just one big adventure. It was exciting running messages and supplies to the Jews hiding in the woods (Berkenhout). He slips through Nazi hands again and again. Also, he’s found a few pilots that had to bail out. Sometimes his family helps out pilots or Jews by hiding them in their attic. So I can see how it’s all very exciting for the lad.

It took me a while to like Sofie. She is separated from her family and lives in Berkenhout on her own as a teenager. There, she eventually learns to help out. I’m not sure if she had a maid come in and clean once a week before the war, but now she learns to cook and clean and eventually enjoys all the tasks she takes on.

I’m going to show my ignorance here but this one little thing keeps niggling at me. The characters in this story (Jew or not Jew) all enjoy pork. Ham or bacon is nearly a daily ingredient in the cooking. There’s no discussion of ‘Oh, well, things are desperate and we really need the protein so we’ll eat pork even though it’s not kosher’. So was it common for 1940s Dutch Jews to eat pork? I don’t know and my few on-line searches haven’t answered the question. A few lines in the story would have educated me and cleared up that minor mystery.

The ladies in general were comforters and romantic interests. When two or more got together, they almost always talked about boys or men. I was a bit disappointed in this aspect of the story. We all know that the ladies did plenty in WWII besides the cooking, cleaning, reproducing, and flirting.

The last hour of the book gets very serious and it was a definite change of tone from the rest of the book. Unfortunately, several people die or are injured. There’s also the question of whether or not a certain side character betrayed the people of Berkenhout. Unfortunately, that mystery is never clearly answered.

I enjoyed the two pilots. One was a Brit, Nigel. Then later in the book there’s Donald, an American from Ohio. Both were welcomed into Jan’s house, partially because Jan and his mom (who is British) speak English. They both made a good counterpoint to Jan’s dad, who was always in a bad mood and rather gruff with Jan. After Jan’s older brother Oscar went off on a small mission for the local resistance, Jan didn’t have a steady male mentor. Both Nigel and Donald treated Jan well and appreciated his help.

Liesbeth, Sofie’s best friend from school, is a small comforting presence for much of the story. At the end she plays an important role and I liked her all the better for it. Though once again, I had some questions about how Liesbeth’s generosity changed her life and how she pulled it off.

So, as you can see, it was educational for me (who knew nothing about Nazi-occupied Holland before reading this story) yet it left me with several small questions. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Liam Gerrard was great for this story. He was the perfect, excitable Jan. He also had believable female voices. I know it would be a lot to ask for, but I would have enjoyed a Dutch accent for the Dutch characters… but that would have been the majority of the book so I understand why it wasn’t done. Gerrard used a light British voice for the majority of characters, which was perfect for the two British characters but it did make it feel like the story was set somewhere in the UK rather than in Holland. Gerrard had a good German accent for the Nazis and the one German defector. I also liked his American accent for Donald (who is from Ohio). His pacing was good too. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Essential Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Straight Outta Fangton

  • A Comedic Vampire Story
  • By: C. T. Phipps
  • Narrated by: Cary Hite
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 127
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 127

Peter Stone is a poor, black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car is. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift, as being a vampire isn't all that impressive in a world where they've come out to mortals. Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas station's store.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So funny, you'll die!!!

  • By Jason on 09-29-17

Just what Detroit needed

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This was a fun tale and new take on Detroit vampires. Definitely no cliched Detroit vamps in this story! This is definitely a comedy with plenty of sarcasm and snark. There’s also plenty of pop culture references, which usually added to the fun but sometimes I found a little too much. Just my personal taste there.

Peter Stone is a decent fellow who gets caught up in bigger, badder things. A vampire hunter who’s been turned into a vampire (Melissa) turns up in his life and the two reluctantly join forces to save the vampire nation of New Detroit from a self- hating vamp. Yep, all sorts of vamps in this story. Not everyone wants to be undead, even if the undead now have voting rights, can get night jobs, and have to pay taxes.

One aspect I really liked about this story was part of the set up. The vamps have been carefully working behind the scenes to make vampires palatable to humans through media. There’s the books, the movies, the plush toys, and the bobble heads. After a hundred or so years, the idea of friendly vampires isn’t all that odd to humans.

David (Peter’s thrall), Melissa, and Peter all have lively banter between them. I really liked that some of the joking was centered around bigotry. There’s so many anti-vampers out there (and Melissa used to be one). It reminded me a little of how True Blood used the anti-vamper hate talk to mirror real world hate talk. It was well done, often eliciting a laugh even as the story takes a jab at bigotry in general.

Part of the tale involves solving a murder and for that, Peter needs to involve his master, Thoth. While Peter is in charge around David and Melissa, he has to rein it in and be a little subservient to Thoth. It was nice to see that Peter has this flexibility and also situational awareness. This bodes well for how the character will grow with the series.

Then in steps Renaud, a former French Templar. He’s the Big Baddie of the tale and it’s going to take everything our heroes have to survive. I did find the second half of the tale more fun than the first half. There’s more action. All told, the story could have used a little more world building and little less pop culture. All told, 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Cary Hite gave a really good performance to this story. He had a great voice for Peter stone and his female voices were believable. I enjoyed his voice for Thoth and for Renaud as well. All character voices were distinct. There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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  • Theft of Swords

  • Riyria Revelations, Volume 1
  • By: Michael J. Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 22 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,737
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,368
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,346

Acclaimed author Michael J. Sullivan created instant best sellers with his spellbinding Riyria Revelations series. This first volume introduces Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy bigger than they can imagine, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery - before it’s too late.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • And I didn't think I liked fantasies...

  • By AudioAddict on 09-27-13

Fun with hints of seriousness

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

This epic fantasy includes a little breaking and entering, plenty of snarky insults, political intrigue, magical beasts, and a chaotic neutral maimed mage. For me, the tale started off fun but not particularly special. It wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through the book that the tale grabbed me. Royce and Hadrian are a lot of fun. They’ve known each other for years and each is well into their adult years. This was a nice break from all those epic fantasy adventures that feature teen/young adults bumbling through their first adventures.

Royce was my favorite because we have the same dark sense of humor and have to sometimes be talked into doing the right thing. Hadrian is an enthusiastic believer in honor and all things good. It’s a very good thing these two have each other to balance things out. Each has a history veiled in questions and half truths. I look forward to Book 2 revealing more on this note.

The one weakness to this tale is the ladies. It’s not all bad, but for the most part they are comforters and romantic interests and need to be rescued. Arista shows promise with her wit and ability to grasp politics. Also young Thrace has a shining moment at the end of the novel. The ladies aren’t the worst I’ve seen in epic fantasy but I did want just a bit more from them.

There’s a big fat mystery with the elves. Ancient conflict and truces are eluded to and I expect that will become a big deal later in this series. There are a few elvish slaves in some areas of the human realms, but no elves roam free… or if they do, they can pass for human. The maimed mage Esra provides most of what we know about the elves. He’s ancient and was imprisoned for perhaps 900 years (if I recall correctly). Esra is a big enigma. I don’t know what he wants and he might not know either. He has to keep his head down as he’s still a wanted criminal.

Then there’s Myron. I adored this character because of his wide eyed wonder of the bigger world. He grew up in a monastery and had never been off the grounds. He had seen a few horse but never rode one and he’s never seen a woman. As he gets swept up into the adventure, he provides several chuckles. I too wish there were blue horses.

By the end, I had fallen in love with the main characters. I really look forward to adventuring further with Royce and Hadrian. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds gave a great performance for this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. He sounded like he had a lot of fun narrating this story too. I did notice a few short repeats but there were no other technical issues with the recording. I loved his voice for Myron (always full of wonder), his skeptical voice for Royce, and his honorable voice for Hadrian. 4.75/5 stars.

  • Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

  • Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3
  • By: Jennifer S. Alderson
  • Narrated by: Chelsea Stephens
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12

Art-history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua - the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man's last days and his connection to these ritual objects. Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist's mysterious disappearance 50 years earlier and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cannibals & ritual masks, on my!

  • By DabOfDarkness on 09-26-18

Cannibals & ritual masks, on my!

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

Note: Even though this is Book 3, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Zelda Richardson continues to stumble around the antiquities gathered in Holland, making enemies and uncovering old mysteries. I liked this story quite a bit more than Book 2 mostly because I like Zelda more. She’s grown up a bit and now comes off as perhaps 20 years old instead of 15. She’s still a bit unsure of herself and not the swiftest to catch on, but some of that can be excused by the extraordinary circumstances she finds herself in.

Papua, New Guinea is the featured culture in this novel. Once upon a time, Dutch colonists cluttered up the Papua countryside bringing Christianity, modern medicine, and boxer shorts while also taking away cultural artifacts. The story portrays both sides of how modern peoples with their religions and sciences both helped and harmed the native peoples. I really like that the author didn’t shy away from showing this. It would have been easy to throw a rosy blanket over it but it’s way more interesting this way.

Zelda is still hanging out with her friend Friedrich but he’s got a much smaller role in this novel. Zelda still has him strictly in the Friend Zone even as she dates a few other guys. Her boss (Meric – spelling?) still questions if she’s the right one for the internship or not. Basically, Zelda’s life is this constant teetering see-saw. Albert Schenk still isn’t her fan.

The Amsterdam museum she works for is trying to gather enough Asmat New Guinea art pieces for a good show and Zelda has been tasked with gathering as much basic info as she can. In digging up info, she learns of an American artifact obtainer, Nicholas, who went missing in the 1960s. The story has a series of flashbacks showing what Nicholas was doing up to his disappearance and those are quite well told. Even as I enjoyed them, I wish there had been more Papua characters in the tale.

In the 1960s, the priests sent to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity were instructed to destroy old, ritualistic artifacts and art (which had been obtained by trading medicine and living utensils for them). This put some people in a difficult place – not everyone agreed that destroying these cultural items was the right thing to do. It’s a great little slice of questionable history to explore through this murder mystery.

The murder mystery part is a little long in getting spun up but I felt it was a delicious burn. We have one murder at the museum that doesn’t point to anything Zelda is tripping around in. Then later we get a second one that definitely points to whatever Zelda has gotten herself in. Plus there’s that decades old mystery of the missing American to solve. In the end, things mostly get figured out by Zelda though one small piece to the puzzle comes out in a random confession… and I felt that was a plot device and not really something the character would do.

All told, it’s an interesting mystery and I’m now warmed up to Zelda. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: For some reason, this series switches narrators which I find a bit distracting when I’m listening to a series back to back. Chelsea Stephens does a good job with Zelda’s voice. All her character voices are distinct though her male voices need masculinity. She did a good job portraying Zelda’s emotions and her pacing was good too. I know it’s a bit to ask, but since this is set in Holland, it would be nice to have a Dutch accent for the Dutch characters. That would really make it feel like the story is set in Amsterdam and not just any Midwestern USA city. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer S. Alderson. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.