The Man From The Broken Hills by Louis L’Amour ~ Western Adventure #AudiobookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Louis L’Amour

Performed by MacLeod Andrews

Released March 2019 by Random House Audio

Category: Western Adventure, Audiobook Review

For years Milo Talon had been riding the outlaw trail, looking for a man who had betrayed his family. Only Hank Rossiter wasn’t the man he had been: old now and blind, Rossiter was trying desperately to hold on to a small ranch to support his daughter, Barbara. Suddenly Talon found himself in the middle of a range war, siding with the man he’d marked for payback. But had Rossiter really changed? And could his daughter be trusted by either of them? 

In the mood for something different as I looked through the new releases on Audible, I saw The Man From The Broken Hills narrated by MacLeod Andrews. It fit the bill perfectly, although I didn’t realise at the time it was part of a series. As it happens, it can easily be read, or listened to, as a standalone. 

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Promise by Robert Crais (An Elvis Cole/Joe Pike Novel) #CrimeFiction

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week I’m revisiting The Promise, an audiobook released in 2015, and narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Luke Daniels. 

My Review

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One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus ~ #YA Contemporary Fiction @writerkmc #AudiobookReview #FridayReads #Mystery

Author: Karen McManus

Performed by MacLeod Andrews, Kim Mai Guest, Robbie Daymond, Shannon McManus

Released: June 2018 by Penguin Books Ltd

Category: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Audiobook Review

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app

When five students, Simon, Addy, Cooper, Bronwyn and Nate find themselves in detention one Monday afternoon, they have no idea what is about to unfold.

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The Quiet Child by @JohnBurleyBooks #Audiobook #Psychological @MacLeodAndrews #FridayReads

  • Author: John Burley
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: August 2017 by Harper Audio
  • Category: Psychological, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Crime, Audiobook, Books, Review

From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.

It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Innocence by Dean Koontz #Audiobook #Fantasy #SciFi

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

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Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart #YA #Audiobook # Review @DanGemeinhart

Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys–an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves.

When twelve year old Jonathan Grisby arrives at Slabhenge, hungry, cold and tormented, he faces at least ten weeks in the forbidding and Dickensian-like reform school. Run by The Admiral and his staff, who take pleasure from making life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible for the unfortunates who have been sent there. Slabhenge has had several incarnations, including a facility for the mentally ill, but to the boys it seems more like a prison with it’s many corridors, staircases and stone-walled, dank rooms. Continue reading

Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson ~ #Audiobook narrated by @MacLeodAndrews #YA

A new fantasy-adventure trilogy about a misfit twelve-year-old with a dangerous destiny to fulfill, a mystical time walker who is sent to protect him, and a maniacal villain with a deadly vendetta that began two hundred years ago in the heart of the Old West.

Outlaws of Time is a mix of adventure, legend and fantasy, set in the Arizona desert where twelve year old Sam Miracle is in foster care at the St Anthony of the Desert Destitute Youth Ranch (SADDYR) run by the Spaldings, who agreed ‘to guardian absolutely any boy the state of Arizona might be willing to send them (along with a check.)’ According to the Spaldings, Sam was the worst boy they’d ever fostered. Firstly because Sam got totally lost in powerful and detailed waking dreams. Dreams that seem so real they’re like recollections from his past, which confuses Sam no end. Added to that, the bones in Sam’s arms have been so damaged that they are incapable of movement, fused at the elbow, and sometimes very painful. Continue reading

Morrighan (The Remnant Chronicles 0.5) by Mary E Pearson #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #PostApocalyptic

Before borders were drawn, before treaties were signed, before wars were waged anew, before the great kingdoms of the Remnant were even born and the world of old was only a hazy slate of memory told in story and legend, a girl and her family fought to survive. 

Although this is a prequel it can be read as a standalone novella. I haven’t yet read any of the Remnant Chronicles so I’m not sure of the connection to the series. From what I can gather the characters in this don’t feature in the main storyline and are, perhaps, ancestors.  Continue reading

That Bright Land by Terry Roberts ~ #Historical Fiction post War of the States #TuesdayBookBlog @robertsterrylee

Based on true events, That Bright Land is the story of a violent and fragile nation in the wake of the Civil War and a man who must exorcise his own savage demons while tracking down another.

Jacob Ballard arrives at Alexander’s Station, North Carolina on his way to Warm Springs. He was to meet with one of a few contacts whose names he’d been given in Washington City by his uncle, Governor Zeb Vance. Under the pretence of investigating and assessing veterans’ disability claims, Jacob was charged with finding out who was targeting and murdering  veterans who fought for the Union. Returning to his birthplace held no appeal for Jacob, nor did the task he’d been set. Continue reading

#FridayBookShare ~ The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim #8) by Richard Kadrey #UrbanFantasy @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare ~ an excellent idea created by Shelley Wilson

With the weekend approaching it’s the perfect time to seek out new books to read, so Shelley created a Friday Book Share game to help search for that ideal read.

FridayBookShare

Anyone can join in. Just answer the following F.R.I.D.A.Y. questions based on the book you’re either currently reading (or listening to, in my case) or have just finished reading. Use the hashtag #FridayBookShare and remember to tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72)  Continue reading

Fair Coin/Quantum Coin ~ the #audiobooks #SundayBlogShare #YA SciFi #BookReview

 

  • Fair CoinFair Coin ~ Book 1
  • Author: E C Myers
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • November 2013 by Audible Inc
  • Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • four-stars

After Ephraim’s mother believes she has identified his body after an accident, she’s grief stricken and attempts suicide. Ephraim finds her unconscious and slumped over the kitchen table when he gets home from school.  

While in the hospital with his mother, the boy’s belongings are inadvertently given to Ephraim and among them he finds a strange coin that can grant wishes….except it doesn’t grant them in quite the way Ephraim expects and before long Ephraim realises the coin is much more than a ‘genie’ type object, it’s something a lot more sinister and convoluted. And he’s unable to control what happens after he’s made a wish. He’s the only one who knows he’s wished for something to change and the only one who remembers what it was like before.  Continue reading

The Promise ~ Elvis Cole

Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are joined by Suspect heroes Scott James and his K-9 partner, Maggie, in the new masterpiece of suspense from the number one New York Times bestselling author. 

Loyalty, commitment, the fight against injustice – these are the things that have always driven Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. If they make a promise, they keep it. Even if it could get them killed.

Meryl Lawrence hires PI Elvis Cole to find missing chemical engineer Amy Breslyn, who has supposedly embezzled a large amount of money from Woodson Energy Solutions, the company she works for. They manufacture fuels for the Department of Defense, which gives their work a classified status. Continue reading

The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

AudiobookReview

  • NextAlwaysThe Next Always~ Book 1
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: November 2011 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • five-stars

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, the changing of hands, and even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major face-lift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect in the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

Nora Roberts’ books are, generally speaking, a given for a feel good and comforting read. I love her characters, their interactions, chemistry and the sense of family and community. This trilogy is one of my favourites, I’ve listened to it a couple of times. The Inn and Boonsboro are real places, as are Turn The Page bookstore and Vesta, the family pizza restaurant (all owned by the Roberts family). The beautifully detailed descriptions of the Inn, the remodelling, decor and fittings, just make me want to spend time there (in Jane and Rochester, I think) and explore the area. A bucket list item, perhaps. I love the paranormal layer to the story and how it’s resolved in the following books. And yes, there are similarities between this trilogy and the four Mackade Brothers books but in this instance it doesn’t worry me or spoil the enjoyment of either set of books. There must come a time, especially for such prolific writers, when storylines are replicated to a certain degree. The Montgomery brothers, Beckett, Owen and Ryder are restoring a dilapidated old inn to it’s former glory. The idea is their mother, Justine’s vision.  The inn has stood on the corner of The Square, Boonsboro, Maryland for over two centuries, surviving whatever the years had thrown at it, and is crying out for renovation. 

It knew war, heard the echo of gunfire, the cries of the wounded, the prayers of the fearful. It knew blood and tears, joy and fury. Birth and death. It thrived in good times, endured the hard times. It changed hands and purpose, yet the stone walls stood.

Clare Brewster moved back to Boonsboro, with her two boys and expecting a third, after her husband was killed by a sniper in Iraq. She and the Montgomery brothers have known each other since high school and Beckett has had a crush on Clare since he was a teenager. Clare is a great character, juggling her book store business and family life, and under the circumstances, happy to be back in her home town with her best friends, Avery and Hope, and near her parents. A stalker adds some tension and suspense. The characters are all well-developed and the brothers have distinct and different personalities. The amusing banter between them re-enforces their closeness and the dialogue, as always, is easy and genuine. The blossoming relationship between Beckett and Clare is well portrayed and Beckett’s interactions with the children is in turns hilarious and touching.

  • LastBoyfriendThe Last Boyfriend ~ Book 2
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: May 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • four-stars

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist – and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers give him grief for his compulsive list making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery MacTavish….  Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation – and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

Avery McTavish owns and runs Vesta, the Pizzeria across from Inn BoonsBoro. She and Owen Montgomery have been friends forever and he was her first ‘boyfriend’ when she was about five. They have contrasting personalities but fit well together, Avery is spontaneous, sometimes stubborn and dealing, or trying to, with the issues her mother’s abandonment left her with, while Owen is thoughtful, likes order, to be organised and plan everything out. After Avery’s mother walked out on her and her father, Willy B, they were absorbed into, and made a part of, the Montgomery family. Avery and her father have a lovely and incredibly close bond and the family dynamics are at the forefront of all the books which serves to enhance each of the characters. Owen and Avery’s dawning realisation of the shift in their feelings for each other, the friends to lovers thing developing slowly, is charming. They both worry that taking their relationship further will spoil the friendship they share and hold dear. There aren’t any major upheavals but Avery has to deal with her conflicted feelings, wondering if she takes after her mother, and learn to let down her guard. Willy B and Justine Montgomery are having a thing and the three brothers’ reaction to finding out their mother actually has a sex life is so funny. Especially the scene when Owen stops off at his mother’s house for breakfast and walks in on a steamy kiss in the kitchen.

‘You – But – What? Mom.’ ‘Try to make a complete sentence, Owen. Have some coffee.’ She reached for a mug.  ‘Ah…I should…’ Still bright red, Willy B shuffled his enormous feet.  ‘Put some pants on.’ ‘Yes!’ Owen felt his hands flapping in the air, but just couldn’t stop them. ‘That. Pants. You. Please God.’ Rumbling in his throat, Willy B scooted off like a bear towards his cave. Mom.’ ‘That’s my name.’ All cheer, Justine beamed smiles. ‘Sit down, honey. Drink your coffee.’ ‘What-‘ Justine picked up the tongs to take the bacon out to drain. ‘Finish it this time. I’ll get you started. What…?’

Storylines from the previous book are wrapped up, Beckett and Claire’s wedding, the grand opening of the Inn, both of which were detailed and fun, and Hope moves into the Innkeeper’s apartment. There are interesting developments between Ryder and Hope which promise controversy and fireworks in the final instalment. And we get to know more about Lizzie, the resident ghost. Hope and Owen are researching, trying to find out more about Lizzie and why she seems to be connected to the inn.

  • ThePerfectHopeThe Perfect Hope ~ Book 3
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: November 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • five-stars

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out – with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except, apparently, Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro….  As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be – except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

Hope Beaumont, smart, practical and sophisticated, is loving her job as innkeeper at the inn renovated by the Montgomery family. She loves the quaint and historic small town, the sense of community and having her friends close by, being able to share their joys and triumphs. Boonsboro is her home now and she is very happy with her life. Choosing to leave Georgetown and her job at The Wickham after being treated abominably by Jonathan Wickham, the heir apparent, was the best decision she’d made in a long while. And she has Avery and Clare to thank for suggesting, or rather urging, her to apply for the innkeeper’s position. Ryder Montgomery, gruff, sexy and a man of very few words, although when he does have something to say he’s totally honest and up front, has a great relationship with his brothers and loves and admires his mother. He’s seemingly indifferent to Hope although there’s a definite attraction there, just under the surface, and it’s beginning to win out over the irritability and sparring between them. Ryder can’t understand why Hope appeals to him, but since their very first meeting there’s been something he can’t quite pin down. It takes Hope’s upfront approach to set things in motion, with a little help from Lizzy.  Between the sparks flying every which way, the brothers are rehabbing Avery’s new restaurant, a bakery and a fitness centre. When Hope’s past makes an unpleasant appearance in the person of Jonathan Wickham, followed by his jealous wife, Ryder takes matters into his own hands. No-one is going to upset Hope and get away with it.

He wasn’t going to screw with her. And he sure as hell wasn’t responsible for her history with assholes..…..He’d kept his distance, until recently. He’d kept it because there’d been something right from the jump…….She wasn’t his type, and he sure as hell wasn’t hers……She’d started it, and if they finished it, he’d make sure they both laid their cards on the table first. He played fair…..And if the time came when they both gave the nod, he’d play extra fair. No problem.

There’s a fairly high steam factor in this book but Nora Roberts is an author who can write sexy scenes very tastefully. A lot of dialogue also, compared to the others, and that’s not a bad thing, it serves to give a real insight into the characters. I loved the conclusion of Lizzie’s story and the reason she was at the Inn, even though that aspect was tragic and very poignant, and told extremely well.  Elegant book covers lend themselves to a peaceful and luxurious  atmosphere. I love the characters, the books are written beautifully and put me right there, in the story. This was my first ever introduction to a MacLeod Andrews narration and it’s wonderful, each character distinct and lots of emotion. No one can quite nail the sexy, gravelly male voices like Mr Andrews. Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Duplicity

AudiobookReview

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Seventeen year old hacker, Brandon Eriks, a bad boy with multiple tattoos, piercings, dyed black, messy hair and an attitude to match, thinks he’s covered up his money-making hacking activities pretty well. Until one day he finds warning and personal messages on his computer. Things get even more bizarre when Brandon’s reflection takes on a life of its own, writing messages on mirrors and altering Brandon’s appearance by removing the metal from his piercings, ripping off his tattoos and washing the dye out of his hair. Then the unthinkable happens and Brandon is watching his life unfold from behind the mirror.

Because who found me? Who cares enough to find me? Can’t be a cop, because he’d cut to the chase and knock on my door with a warrant, not play cat and mouse on my laptop. Can’t be a bot because he knows personal details about me. Like what happened with Emma. But I can’t think of anyone, even super hackers who get their thrills hunting other hackers, who would even care what I say or do offline.

Brandon, quite different from a lot of young adult protagonists, has built up his image as a shield and perfected it over the years. His ‘don’t care’ attitude stems from the hurt of his parents’ thoughtlessness, the tattoos and piercings a reaction against his flawed family life as well as a bid for some sort of attention. He pushes people away before he can become attached or emotionally involved. The one person he can’t step away from is Emma, who believes in him and sees past the face Brandon shows to the world.

Brandon’s character evolves genuinely and substantially during the story, mostly due to his feelings for Emma. The romance itself doesn’t figure hugely in the plot which centres more on the multi layered science fiction aspect and the complex digital world in which Brandon finds himself confined. This allows him to consider and acknowledge his convoluted relationships with others, as well as his own situation, from a different perspective. N.K. Traver does a really good job of showing the reasons Brandon chooses to use his computer skills unwisely, eliciting some sympathy for an emotionally starved teen, while at the same time exploring the issue of privacy in the digital age.

N.K. Traver has created a unique concept, a great storyline, with well-developed and engaging characters, and even though it’s full of technology speak it’s not too overwhelming. The supporting characters are realistically portrayed, my favourite by far is Seb, also hurting and distrustful. For such an extraordinary storyline it’s really well done, so suspend your belief, leave it by the door and enjoy a tense and very imaginative cyber thriller that didn’t go in any of the directions I expected. An extremely good debut novel.

As with all his narrations, MacLeod Andrews’ performance is excellent, really getting inside the characters and bringing them to life individually and vividly.

Book links ~ Amazon US Amazon UK

About the author

As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said “no one could make a living” with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later Traver realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped.

Traver’s debut, DUPLICITY, a cyberthriller pitched as BREAKING BAD meets THE MATRIX for teens, is now available.

Author links ~ Website, Twitter, Goodreads

Down ~ Project Eden #7

AudiobookReview

  • 530 Brett Battles ecover Exit NineAuthor: Brett Battles
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: March 2015 by Audible Studios
  • Category: Post Apocalyptic, Suspense, Thriller
  • five-stars

Matt Hamilton’s last words have led Daniel Ash and his team to the snow-covered town of Everton, Vermont. On a field just outside city limits sits an unassuming hut. But this is no innocent building. Inside is the entrance to the secret Project Eden base known as Dream Sky, the key to the project’s success. Or its defeat, as Ash hopes. To give the team the best chance to succeed, resistance groups have moved into position outside project installations around the globe. The purpose: to create diversions that will draw project attention away from Dream Sky. These groups have been waiting for the signal to attack. The wait is over.

The world population is down to just over seven hundred million in the months since Project Eden’s implementation day and the release of the Sage Flu virus from specific points across the world. Daniel Ash and Chloe White have learned what Matt Hamilton’s last words meant; Dream Sky is Project Eden’s top secret base and the one they need to neutralise in order to stop the Project once and for all.

Working in conjunction with each other, individual groups from the Resistance are targeting Project Eden facilities with the purpose of giving Ash, Chloe and their team the chance to take Dream Sky. Robert and Estella from Isabella Island are part of the team in Everton, Vermont at Dream Sky. Sanjay, Kusum and Darshana in Jaipur, India, working in direct contact with the Resistance headquarters in the US, play their very important part in the drama. In Cairo, Miami, Berlin, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo and Guangzhou in China the teams rescue survivors and destroy installations. Pax, Gabriel and Nyla are in Los Angeles after liberating the survivors centre there.

But what the Ash and the team find at Dream Sky defies belief… and Chloe begins to remember…

Earlier that night, when she’d first seen the hut entrance to Dream Sky, she had a strong feeling she had been there before. A possibility that was not entirely out of the question, given that, with the exception of the last few years, she could remember nothing about her previous life. When she looked at the steeple though, the feeling wasn’t that she might have seen it before. She knew she had. Knew she’d been inside the building. Flashes in her mind – laughter, a handshake, a forced smile.

I really enjoy the way the narrative spends time with each group, building up the tension and moving the story along while giving an overview of everything that’s happening. The storylines are all brought together wonderfully in this final episode with no loose ends. The characters are authentic and engaging, as they have been throughout, the books so well written and with a succession of really good action sequences.

This is an extremely tense and exciting series that kept the suspense going throughout, and is one that I’ll definitely revisit. It’s a realistic, if utterly chilling and very sad, sequence of events which lead to an enormous question. How do you restart humanity?

If you’re a fan of the genre it comes highly recommended, MacLeod Andrews does an amazing job with the pacing, voices, accents and expressing the mood of the narrative.

Book links ~ Amazon Uk Amazon US

View all my reviews on Goodreads

About the author

BBBrett Battles is the author of over twenty novels and several short stories. His novel THE DECEIVED (part of his Jonathan Quinn series) won a Barry Award for Best Thriller. He is one of the founding members of Killer Year, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. He lives and writes in Los Angeles. More info available at www.brettbattles.com, Facebook and Twitter

HellHole

AudiobookReview

  • HellholeAuthor: Gina Damico
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: Audible Studios; released January 2015
  • Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high.

Max is the quintessential awkward teen who has zero luck with girls, loves crosswords and digging for fossils on Ugly Hill. He cares for his sick mother who’s waiting for a heart transplant as well as attending school and working long hours at a convenience store. One day at work he steals a cat statue for his mother, who loves sparkly junk. He can’t afford to buy it but wants to give his mother something he knows she’ll appreciate. Max is terrified the security camera will pick up his theft but little does he know getting caught is the least of his worries.

Max had been up on Ugly Hill hundreds of times, alone and in the dark, but this was the first time he’d ever been truly scared. “What the hell?” his voice quivered. Just then an air pulse sent up a small fleck of ash – black, light as air, a gothic snowflake. It floated out of the hole, then descended and landed on the back of Max’s hand. He tried to wipe it off, but all that did was create a black smear across his skin.

Max’s problems begin in earnest when he unwittingly releases one of the 666 Satans from hell during a dig for fossils on Ugly Hill. Burgundy Cluttermuck, or Burg as he prefers to be known, takes up residence in Max’s basement. Now he’s above ground he’s here to stay and Max has to keep him happy and supplied with stolen junk food, beer and video games…or else! After several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of his houseguest, Max and Burg strike a bargain. Max agrees to find Burg a house with a hot tub, plus a string of other requirements, and Burg promises he’ll cure Max’s mom. But trying to bargain with a devil is not a wise move and one that’s more than likely not to end well. 

Max enlists the help of new friend, Lore, who had a similar experience the previous year, and together they try to rid Max of his problematic ‘guest’, with help from Max’s cat, Ruckus, who plays an unusual part in the drama.

This is an entertaining, offbeat and comedic story. Very clever too, even though it does have its heavy moments. The humour for the most part is quite dark but nevertheless laugh out loud in places, due in no small part to MacLeod Andrews’ superb narration and wonderful characterisations of Max and Burg, among others.

Burg is loud, brash and cunningly manipulative, knowing exactly how to get Max to do his bidding. Max’s intentions are all good but every action taken has consequences, which Max realises too late. A cautionary tale of how one small error of judgement can snowball into a gigantic and terrible predicament in no time.

There’s a wealth of unique and individual characters including Max’s best friend, Audie, his boss at the convenience store, Stavroula, and Lore, with her trusty ‘Russell’ crowbar with its stick-on googly eyes. I love that Max and Lore are not the usual protagonists found in a YA novel. Max has never had a girlfriend, although Audie tries her best to help him out in that area. After a rocky start Max and Lore’s developing relationship is quite touching and the humorous observations and exploration of their characters is enjoyable and extremely well done.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

GDI grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, and I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. I am the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (Croak, Scorch, and Rogue), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the upcoming Hellhole (January 2015). I live in Western Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, one dog, and while I have never visited hell in person, I have spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close.

Author links ~ www.ginadami.co, Twitter, Facebook

Dead Wrong ~ The Rho Agenda Inception #2

  • deadwrongAuthor: Richard Phillips
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: Brilliance Audio, released on Audible January 2015
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense, Supernatural, Sci-fi
  • five-stars

Ex-CIA assassin Jack Gregory has been hired for a singular mission: to journey to South America and rescue an imprisoned shaman. Beloved by the struggling masses and feared by the ruling elite, shaman Tupac Inti is destined to unite Bolivia’s indigenous people and bring down the corrupt government.

The second of the Rho Agenda prequels centres around a very powerful and ancient Incan artefact known as the Sun Staff, formerly held by Pizzaro after conquering the Incan empire hundreds of years ago, now being hunted for the mystical and alien powers it’s believed to possess.

Tupac Inti, a shaman in the Quechua tribe, is currently in Palmasola prison, Bolivia. Only he knows the whereabouts of the Sun Staff. Jack Gregory has been hired to keep Tupac alive and out of the hands of an evil group of Neo-Nazis led by Conrad Altmann, the bastard son of Klaus Barbie, who needs Tupac in order to gain control of the Sun Staff. Barbie realised the Sun Staff had mystical power and had managed to return the artefact to Bolivia. Now Altmann was about to lay claim to the reality.

But Jack still had to meet the man. And then he had to get them both the hell out of here. In this part of the world, bribery was the best option for making something like that happen. The trick was to find the right people to bribe, and then to make sure that they feared Jack more than they feared the UJC. He’d accomplished the first part before getting in here. Yesterday’s violence closed the deal. Now, if Jack could avoid being poisoned in the meantime, so much the better.

Janet Price is employed by the NSA and accountable to Admiral Jonathan Riles, who has been working towards the opportunity to study the Sun Staff for the last three years, although he doesn’t subscribe to the theory claiming the activation of the Sun Staff will be the catalyst to bring a master race back to earth. Janet’s assignment is to get to Tupac Inti before Jack.

Jack is slowly succumbing more and more to the entity known as Anchanchu, and understanding more of it’s interaction with human hosts makes it vital that Jack controls Anchanchu rather than the other way around. 

Jack is no stranger to dreams of a past not his own but now vivid waking visions plague him, of memories that also aren’t his, about Pizzaro and the Sun Staff. They give his mission a new meaning when he realises what they imply. It’s more than just a job to Jack now, it’s a matter of survival.  Can Jack free himself from the being that controls his mind and wants to kill him? The ever more violent emotions Anchanchu evokes in Jack threaten his state of mind.

The characters, and Jack and Janet’s relationship, continue to develop as more of their back story is revealed, along with an extraordinary and well thought through storyline full of action, suspense, Neo-Nazis and corrupt officials. The writing is descriptive, detailed and powerful and it’s really a confirmation of that writing, and narration, that I was totally engaged in the story.

And again, each short and compelling chapter is from different characters’ perspectives, which works extremely well. I always enjoy MacLeod Andrews’ excellent, and wonderfully voiced, narrations and I’m looking forward to the third instalment to see how it all plays out and ties in with the Second Ship.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Sandman Slim Series ~ the Audiobooks (4-6 )

AudiobookReview

Getting out of Hell is just the beginning.
What do you do after you’ve escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer?
Well, if you’re James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it . . . again. Plus there’s the small matter of surviving. Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James Stark.

Stark, still tucked away in Pandemonium in his role as Lucifer, finds himself totally bored with admin work, dealing with Hellions and trying to sort out the chaos that is Hell so he is almost relieved when he’s on the receiving end of assassination attempts. At least it livens things up a bit and he can forget about court politics. Hell is just a lot of administration and red tape with infighting thrown into the mix.

Welcome to Hell. It’s just like high school but with more boredom and entrails.

After telling Candy when he left he would only be a few days but has now actually been stuck in Hell for months, Stark is absolutely ready to go home. And, of course, when he gets there via Hellion Hawg, LA is in big trouble. Reality has taken a nose dive and a killer ghost along with Aelita are causing havoc while the Dreamers are doing their best to hold reality together. Stark and St James have parted company so Stark no longer has the key to the room of thirteen doors but he returns from Hell in Lucifer’s armour and with a new and fascinating weapon.

Stark, still trying to save the world, is his usual coarse, snarky, irreverent and entertaining anti-hero self. All the fantastic characters from previous stories are back and I love who gets to be the permanent Lucifer.

The writing is dark and witty, the full on action plot does get a little convoluted at times but is still deliciously gratifying with lots of outrageous and exaggerated violence and everything that makes a Sandman Slim novel.

  • KillCityBluesKill City Blues #5
  • five-stars

James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.

A great opening chapter has Stark, Candy and Samael in Donut Universe while Candy updates Stark and Samael’s Wikipedia pages. Stark and his angel half have reunited, he is back to being a nephilim and again has the Key to the Room of Thirteen Doors. 

Stark is in a race to find the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon greater than any other, before the old gods, namely the Angra Om Ya who existed before anything else, can take back and destroy the universe. Aleita has hidden it somewhere and Stark needs to find it before she can do her worst. Which requires a trip to Kill City, a creepy, abandoned shopping mall.

The world building is described in intricate detail and the dialogue and banter between the characters is superb. The violent action is way over the top and there’s a serious eww factor as Stark acquires more scars. Some surprise plot developments too. 

I love the growth of Stark’s character and how he gets a little introspective in this story.

Most nights I still dream about Hell. I can feel it inside me. It’s in the stink of my sweat. Flashing on the place even for a second makes me furious and sometimes afraid and sometimes ashamed of both those things.
On the plus side, I got up close and personal with the killer inside me. I learned I was good at taking lives. Doc Kinski called me a natural-born killer, so now it’s what I do. But I don’t always like it, and when I do, I don’t always like myself for liking it. That’s what Hell is. It’s the shithole bottom of the universe, but it’s a place where you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know.

This is gritty urban fantasy at it’s darkest. Richard Kadrey’s off the wall sense of humour and amazingly imaginative writing, not to mention the unique take on Heaven and Hell and their residents, make this series one of my favourites. The cast of characters, some new and others returning from previous books, is as bizarre and outlandish as ever. 

 

  • TheGetawayGodThe Getaway God #6
  • five-stars

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city.

As the Apocalypse draws ever nearer and the non stop rain in LA has driven most of the population away, Stark is working to prevent the Old Gods, the Angra Om Ya, from finding the means to destroy the world and everyone on it. Add to that a serial killer running riot, and given to extremely gory tendencies with body parts, who turns out to be a very unexpected blast from the past. 

You’d think the end of the world would be exciting, but this apocalypse is about as much fun as dental surgery.

Take the current situation. Sitting at a dead stop in traffic, as lively as a stone angel over a tomb. Not one car has moved in ten minutes. It’s bumper to bumper on Sunset Boulevard, which is nothing new, but this kind of traffic is 24/7 these days, as it seems like half the city is hightailing it out of Dodge all at once. And the rain. It’s been coming down non-stop for two weeks. It’s like L.A. lost a bet with God and the old bastard is pissing his Happy Hour whiskey all over the city. Which, when you get down to it, isn’t far from the truth. This isn’t how I figured I’d ring in the apocalypse.

And as things get even more disastrous there is confusion, violence and shocking developments. Stark is once again working with The Golden Vigil as well as a mummified centuries old mystic called The Shonin. There’s an abundance of bizarre characters, flawed gods, angels and demons, and a huge amount of often gruesome action packed into this story. I like the way the relationships between Stark and the other key characters develops, albeit complicated and rocky in places.
An extremely tight, irreverent and darkly humorous narrative bringing to a satisfactory and surprising conclusion to the Angra Om Ya storyline. Also, it seems, bringing to a close this stage of Stark’s life. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. And it’s actually quite amazing to realise the whole series spans just twelve months!

 

MacLeod Andrews’ performance is superb, I love his characterisation of Stark, and the way he handles all the other utterly diverse characters with their own individual ‘voices’ is perfect.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves

AudiobookReview

Driving home after being kicked out of college, Tucker meets and picks up the mysterious Corinne Chang at a rest stop. Infatuated, and with nothing better to do, he ends up with her in St. Louis, where he gets a job as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. Even though he’s a gwai lo—a foreign devil—his cooking skills impress the Chinese patrons of the restaurant, and his wooing skills impress Corinne when she joins him there as a waitress. But when Chinese gangsters show up demanding diamonds they believe Tucker’s kind-of, sort-of, don’t-call-her-a-girlfriend stole, he and his friends—which luckily include a couple of FBI agents—have to figure out just who is gunning for Corinne and how to stop them. Good thing Tucker is a Mandarin-speaking martial arts master who isn’t afraid to throw the first punch.

The story is narrated by Tucker, lately of Beddingfield College, who happens to be a highly skilled Chinese chef, a martial arts practitioner and he also speaks Mandarin. After picking up hitchhiker Corinne Chang, a gemologist from Montreal, on his way to St Louis to hook up with his best friend, Langston Wu, they are entangled in a caper involving criminals, diamonds, murder and the FBI. 

Each chapter begins with one of Tucker’s rules, of which he seems to have an unending list, relating to unfolding events..

Rule #19: Never pick up strangers at a highway rest stop unless they speak Mandarin…

…She reached over and took the strap of her duffle and stood up.
“Fine,” she said. “But I’m accepting a ride from you not because I believe a word you’re saying but because I just think it’s unlikely I’m going to be in danger from anyone who uses a word like ‘exsanguination.’”
She followed me out to the lot behind us, tossed her duffle into the rear of the car and sat in the passenger seat, clicking on her seat belt.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
I backed out of the lot and threaded through the parking lot to the exit back onto the I-93. “St Louis, Missouri,: I said, “by way of Massachusetts. How about you?”
“Buffalo, New York. By way of any way I can get there.”

Tucker is a charming protagonist, if a little unconventional, full of quick, witty dialogue, tough yet sensitive. The banter between him and Corinne is fun and their attraction to each other is touching. Original and off-beat characters, Chinese culture in-depth and romance, sometimes it’s a refreshing change to have a more lighthearted mystery without the deep and dark aspect.  The action scenes with Tucker using xing-i, his preferred form of martial arts, are well written and very interesting.

The author is unmistakably very knowledgable about Chinese food, it’s preparation and cooking, as well as the workings of a Chinese restaurant kitchen. It was interesting to follow ‘a day in the life’ of a chef and fun to have an insider’s view of the kitchen and what goes on, especially the insults that are thrown back and forth as a matter of course and in a non serious way. 

For me, a little more time could have been spent on the plot and the characters, the cookery and food descriptions, although incredibly and deliciously detailed, seemed to take over at times and overshadow the main story. 

MacLeod Andrews delivers one of his consistently excellent performances to make this an entertaining and fun narrative.

The book may be purchased from Amazon US Amazon UK

Hunted ~ The Audiobook

Caroline Wallace is one of New Orleans Police Department’s top hostage negotiators, and she’s never failed to get every hostage out alive. But this time, it’s different: the hostages include her father – the superintendent of police – and the mayor. And this time, she’s trying to negotiate with Reed Ware, a former co-worker who left the force in disgrace, and who is considered to be volatile and extremely dangerous.

As police snipers arrive on the scene, Caroline has only a few moments left to persuade the hot-headed, reckless (and extremely handsome) Reed to turn himself in before anyone gets hurt. But when the SWAT team runs out of patience and launches an attack, Reed manages to escape – taking Caroline hostage in the chaos. He then tells her he’s uncovered corruption at the highest levels of the police department and city government, and those involved will stop at nothing to keep him from exposing what he knows . . . including murder.

Now Caroline must question everything she thought she knew about her job and her city and join Reed on the run . . . putting both her life – and her heart – in jeopardy.

 

The story concept was an interesting one and promised suspense and action, or so I thought. NOPD detective Reed Ware finds out about corruption and murder in the police force and the next thing we know he’s holding the city’s main players to ransom. The hostage negotiator, Caroline, gets taken hostage herself. What happened to make Reed flip? Caroline had a teenage crush on Reed and can’t understand why he’s turned into someone who, she believes, will blow up a roomful of people if his demands aren’t met. She needs to find out what’s going on and as the plot unfolds Caroline begins to believe Reed is innocent and all is not as it should be in the NOPD.

The start of the story was exciting as was the end and the police corruption/murder scenario could have been a good one but the majority of the book was taken up with the steamy romance between Reed and Caroline and had hardly any storyline. Had I realised I wouldn’t have chosen this title.

There were far too many long and repetitive scenes describing how their bodies looked, felt and reacted to each other. Total overkill. So much ‘pulse racing’ and ‘heart pounding’ and ‘going up in flames’ from Caroline’s perspective I was quite surprised she actually survived to end of the book. No matter what the danger all Caroline and Reed seem able to think about is sex. Leaving to rescue the two boys he has time to give her flowers before they set off and they have a moment or several before they get back to the problem at hand.

Under the circumstances it was a sad state of affairs when just looking at her made him hot

I’m not a huge fan of dual narrations, although some do work, but not with each narrator just reading chapters and not the male/female parts. Since this was written in the third person, I think it would have been better with one narrator. Having said that, MacLeod Andrews’ New Orleans accent seemed spot on to me, as were his characterisations, especially that of Reed. The emotional inflection was strong and left me in no doubt of each characters feelings. I wasn’t fond of Cassandra Campbell’s Reed, she gave him a mocking quality which didn’t seem right. Her other characterisations were good though.

tt10407952fltt   Amazon US Amazon UK

My Life, The Theatre and Other Tragedies ~ The Audiobook

8524429

 

High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he’s achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he’ll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don’t mix. Set against the backdrop of a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zadoff’s latest is a bromance, a love story, and theater story in one. The politics of love and high school collide as Adam struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light.

After I’d listened to ‘Since You Left Me’, which was very good, this book also appealed. I love the way Mr Zadoff writes, touching and funny at the same time and again dealing with a teenager’s real and deep issues in an insightful way. The words drew me in and the characters felt real and as diverse as you’d find in any high school. I liked Reach, Adam’s best friend and dastardly Derek was the one you love to hate. 

Adam is likeable, sweet and insecure, my heart went out to him. I felt total sympathy for a boy, full of pain, who has withdrawn into himself, missing his father dreadfully and hiding away from life. He became a techie in the drama department of his High School, lighting being the only thing he can feel a connection to, because his father was an artist and loved the effect of light. And so Adam loves being on the catwalk high above the stage, working the lights for different effects, where he can see everything that’s going on without being seen himself. 

Mr Zadoff really gets inside the mind of an angst ridden teenager and Adam’s narration of those thoughts comes across in a powerful way giving the reader/listener compassion for a boy dealing with more than he should be. And on top of all that Adam has a crush on Summer, one of the actors in the school play. It’s an unwritten rule though, that techies and actors don’t mix. Think Sharks versus Jets and you have the general idea. 

This is a coming of age story dealing with not only relationships between friends and the boy/girl dynamic but also the way someone deals with their own personal problems of self-confidence, or lack thereof, and fear. In Adam’s case, fear of the dark and the flashbacks or visions he has of his father. 

Different ethnicities and sexual orientations are introduced in a natural way without making them a big deal. I also very much enjoyed the ‘behind the scenes’ viewpoint, one which, even as a theatre goer, I wouldn’t necessarily know anything about. Whether or not such harsh conflict between actors and the crew is actually true to life I’m not sure but it certainly added drama to this story.

One of the reasons I enjoy MacLeod Andrews’ narrations so much is the way he adjusts his voice to fit the story. From sounding like a teen in YA novels to a seasoned New Orléans policeman or a gravelly voiced Sandman Slim and countless others, his characterisations are totally convincing and authentic.

tt10407952fltt  Amazon US Amazon UK

March New Releases

On my to buy list for March…

Publisher’s Summary from Audible


51X1K2R6h5L._SL175_Kait Winchester inherited a special gift from her Arapaho ancestors: She can heal with her touch. And there is no one she would like to get her hands on more than the super-sexy SEAL who seems determined to ignore their off-the-charts chemistry. When the wounded warrior finally seeks her help, she’s ready to nurse him back to health…and into her bed.

Navy SEAL Lieutenant Marcus “Cosky” Simcosky is no stranger to hot water, but recent events have boiled over into one hell of a mess. His team is under investigation for a hostage rescue gone wrong, a crazy female stalker is on his trail, and the last few bullets he took just may sideline him for the rest of his career. The kicker? The one woman who can help him get back on his feet – and has haunted his fantasies for years – is his teammate’s sister. He’s looked but never touched. When his stalker targets Kait, though, Cosky will have no choice but to do whatever is necessary to keep her safe.
Amazon UK Amazon US

 
Publisher’s Summary from Audible


61a-kSgGW8L._SL175_When Santa Claus is a cop, you better watch out.

It’s not looking like a very merry Christmas for San Diego cop Nick Pappas. Suspended from his job, alienated from his family, and persecuted by the press, he’s sorely tempted to turn his gun on himself. Except for his first name, he couldn’t possibly have less in common with jolly old St. Nicholas. But when a local mall decides it needs a secret Santa to help collar some vicious muggers preying on its holiday shoppers, Nick’s persuaded to red-suit up so as to take the naughty punks down and avert a ho-ho homicide. For a chance to bust bad guys, Nick’s willing to deal with crying kids, pushy parents, and a chronically cheerful “elf” sidekick. But the biggest challenge for this cop-turned-Claus is one that would confound even the real Kris Kringle: Making a pair of next-to-impossible Christmas wishes come true for two children in need…before it’s too late.
Amazon UK Amazon US

 
Publisher’s Summary from Audible
51pvQtmVbeL._SL175_What’s a sweets-loving young boy growing up gay in North Carolina in the ’80s supposed to think when he’s diagnosed with type-1 diabetes? That God is punishing him, naturally.

This was, after all, when gay-hating Jesse Helms was his senator, AIDS was still the boogeyman, and no one was saying, “It gets better.” And if stealing a copy of a gay porno magazine from the newsagent was a sin, then surely what the men inside were doing to one another was much worse.

Sweet Tooth is Tim Anderson’s uproarious memoir of life after his hormones and blood sugar both went berserk at the age of 15. With Morrissey and The Smiths as the soundtrack, Anderson self-deprecatingly recalls love affairs with vests and donuts, first crushes, coming out, and inaugural trips to gay bars. What emerges is the story of a young man trying to build a future that won’t involve crippling loneliness or losing a foot to his disease – and maybe even one that, no matter how unpredictable, can still be pretty sweet.

Amazon UK Amazon US

Sandman Slim Series ~ the audiobooks (1-3.5)

 

James Stark has spent the last eleven years in Hell as the slave of Azazel, Lucifer’s second favourite general, fighting for his life in the arena and as an assassin.

So what would you do if your boss gives you a particular key so you can kill another of Lucifer’s generals? Especially since this key can can take you anywhere and everywhere in the universe via shadows and the room of thirteen doors.

You kill your boss and get the hell out of Hell, of course, along with the key which is now buried (literally!) in Stark’s chest. That’s how James Stark aka Sandman Slim “wakes up on a pile of smouldering garbage” in a graveyard in LA.

So now he’s back, with Hellion magic, and looking for revenge against his old magic circle friends who sent him Downtown for being a better magician. The only advantage he has is the fact he’s become very hard to kill after his time in Hell.

It’s not too long before Stark finds one of his former friends, Kasabian, who pays a high and very weird, price for the part he played. Stark’s main aim though is to find Mason Faim and his sidekick, Parker, for killing his girlfriend, Alice.

Thoughts

A dark and gritty story told from Starks point of view with sarcasm and snarky humour. Things don’t quite work out as Stark thought as Heaven and Hell have their own agenda and he has to deal with every demon you could conjure up and more besides.

It’s witty, with laugh out loud moments, brutal but kind of sad as well and I find myself in compete sympathy with Stark. He’s the flawed anti-hero, the “monster that kills monsters”  It’s a roller coaster ride of the weird and wonderful.

  • 8026445Kill the Dead ~ book 2
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: October 2010 by Brilliance Corporation
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

After saving the world at the end of Sandman Slim Stark is back and freelancing for The Golden Vigil, a secret angelic arm of Homeland Security, tracking down and killing off monsters. A young vampire who goes on a rampage sets in motion the events leading to another LA apocalypse featuring several different variations of the undead, Zombies, Lacunas, Drifters and Vampires.

When Lucifer comes to LA supposedly to collaborate on a movie being made about him, he enlists Stark as his bodyguard for reasons he keeps to himself. That is, until Stark realises what those reasons are and how they will affect him.

You know you’re in for a fast and fun listen with the opening sentences…

“Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting “April fool” and hoping the rhino thinks it’s funny. That’s about how much fun it is hunting a vampire.”

Which is how the story begins and Stark gets more than he bargained for from a pod of vampires.

Thoughts

Being a nephilim, of angel and human parentage, has played a key part in Stark’s personality and we get to know more about him as his character evolves.  And although he is as tough and acerbic as ever, underneath it all there is morality and his own set of ethics despite his penchant for violence. We lose Stark for a while there too, but I’m glad he’s back.

Lucifer figures quite a bit in this story, not in a cartoonish or over the top way either. He’s not to be trifled with but he’s humorous, cool and composed. And hurt, physically and by his banishment from heaven, which is surprising and not at all like the usual interpretation of Lucifer.

I love the addition of Brigitte Bardot, a Czech porn star who is starring in Lucifer’s movie and has a hidden agenda. She and Stark bounce off each other in more ways than one.

So now, the question is will Stark take Lucifer up on his offer.

  • 51PELCnbLrL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Aloha from Hell ~ book 3
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: July 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell

A few weeks have passed since Stark’s zombie killing spree. Stark and Kasabian are living in a motel room while Max Overdrive is being rebuilt. Stark thinks he’s getting the respite he deserves afar saving the world yet again….but no, that would be too easy.

He and Vidocq steal an artefact for Mr Muninn and have a run in with a demon. Stark is pulled into an exorcism gone wrong and meets an interesting new character, Father Traven. The boy who was being exorcised just happens to be the brother of one of the original magic circle. Coincidence? Stark doesn’t think so and the trail leads where he thought it would. Straight to Mason and into the middle of a planned war between Heaven and Hell.

Mason, along with Aelita, has been planning and plotting, gathering armies together and Stark has no choice but to go back to Hell and try and sort out the chaos Lucifer left behind. And while he’s there maybe this time he can save Alice from being murdered again by Mason. The downside, apart from the obvious, is what he has to do to get back there.

And now that he has his Angel under control he’s back to his old self.

The angel half of me got shaken loose a while back when a High Plains Drifter – that’s “zombie” to you – bit a chunk out of my hand. The human half of me almost died and the angel half thought that was its chance to take over. It was for a while, but then I got my strength back and I locked the angel upstairs in the attic like Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It still bangs on the door and shouts but I’ve learned to ignore it most of the time

The snarky humour and wit is here again, in spades, along with the gruesome, the grotesque and the violence. It’s dark and hellish and Richard Kadrey’s writing is as entertaining as ever, made even more so by the narration. I love the way Hell and L.A. are written as versions of the same place and the descriptive writing paints vivid, if sometimes scary, pictures. It’s an insane, imaginative and creative ride through mind-boggling places. 

DevilintheDollhouseDevil in the Dollhouse ~ book 3.5

four-stars

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, has a new job, but being the new Lucifer in town gives fresh meaning to the word “Hell.” Especially when he hears of hideous massacres near a haunted fortress out on Hell’s frontier.

As far as Stark’s concerned, the more dead Hellions, the better, but he still has to prove that no one screws with Sandman Slim. And facing creatures so terrible even Hell does not want them is no cakewalk, even for Lucifer.

Being Lucifer isn’t a fun job and it takes Stark into the outer reaches of hell in this short, violent and very bloody story. Lucifer #1 has left him a hell of a mess to clean up and although it’s the last thing he wants, Stark has to make sure he is acknowledged, if not approved, as the Lord of the Underworld. 

I used to be James Stark or sometimes Sandman Slim but then Lucifer 1.0 pissed off back to Heaven and stuck me running Hell. I thought that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. That was three days ago. Today things got worse. Today I’m in a truck convoy heading somewhere I never heard of to find someplace that scares even these evil fallen-angel pricks.

So, while trying to negotiate the politics in Hell, sorting out a demon even the worst Hellions fear and trying to find a way back home, Stark has his work cut out, to put things mildly.

A great bridge between Aloha from Hell and Devil said Bang filled with Richard Kadrey’s brilliant writing.

I love the gravely pitch of Stark’s voice, MacLeod Andrews absolutely nails it. Shifting seamlessly and without obviously ‘doing’ voices, he changes from Stark to a two hundred year old Frenchman, to several female voices, Hellions galore, the Kissi, a Texan sheriff and Lucifer to name a few. 

The books are available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Rho Agenda Series ~ the audiobooks

 

An alien spaceship crash landed in the Mexican desert in 1948 and was taken in total secrecy to the Los Alamos laboratory under the code name of the Rho Project. Scientists have spent decades trying to unlock the alien technology. Some 60 years later the President admits the United States government withheld information about the spaceship.  But now the alien technology, or a select amount anyway, is about to be made public.

The sinister Deputy Director of the Rho project, Dr Donald Stephenson, has his own corrupt agenda however, illegally experimenting with the technology on human subjects.

Twins, Jennifer and Mark, and their best friend Heather stumble upon a hidden cave in a canyon. In the cave there’s something that has lain undiscovered for years, except by one man who believes it’s sign from God. No-one except him yet knows the three friends have found a second ship and it will change the course of their lives forever, in ways they could never imagine.

Thoughts

The imagery from Richard Phillips’ writing is strikingly vivid and breathes life into the story, emotionally and visually. He takes the ‘what ifs’ and interprets it in an exciting way, as a fascinating and intriguing science fiction storyline. It’s certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that governments could and more than likely do withhold information from the public.

The characters are strong and have depth, the protagonists are likeable while the bad guys are most definitely not. I liked the introduction of Jack Gregory and Janet Price to the story, they’re great characters, and I believe their back stories are to be published later this year. 

It’s a well structured, fast paced and tense story with lots of threads running through which are woven together well and lead on to book two.

The second instalment of the Rho Agenda series finds Heather, Mark and Jennifer plunging deeper into the complexity of the alien powers they’ve acquired with their visits to the Second Ship. They are assimilating and learning to use their enhanced abilities, gaining control and focus.

After the supposed suicide of Jonathan Riles, Jack and Janet and the rest of the NSA team are on a hit list put out by corrupt government officials. Jack and Janet barely escape, only with the help from an unexpected quarter.

Dr Stephenson’s use and exploitation of the power gained from the Rho Ship increases to a frightening extent as Raul’s situation becomes even more nightmarish and twisted.

Thoughts

As with the Second Ship the writing and descriptions in Immune are first-rate and the images and emotions conjured up are tangible. The strong character building continues with the three young protagonists drawn ever deeper into danger and evil conspiracies.

This story is much more dark and sinister with the horrific goings on in the tunnels under Henderson House, the release of the modified alien nano technology and the high level governmental corruption.

I love the introduction of Jim ‘Tall Bear’ Pino, a Native American reservation sheriff, to the story as well as Freddie Hagerman, an investigative journalist, who is instrumental to the story.

Richard Phillips’ characters are extremely well written and the intrigue and intricacy of the storyline fuels the tension and fascination as events unfold.

Dr Stephenson, imprisoned for his crimes, has been granted a pardon. He has initiated the threat of an anomaly, a black hole, which would destroy the earth. Only the Rho Ship technology can stop it. In return for his freedom Dr Stephenson consents to creating a wormhole in order to push the threat through, far away in space where it can do no harm. His plan all along.

Mark, Jennifer and Heather have been undergoing an intense training program under the supervision of Jack and Janet. The relationship between them all deepens considerably as they spend more time together. 

Their secret Bolivian hideout is compromised after the three teens could stand it no longer and contacted their parents. They will need all of their new survival and enhanced skills in the days and months to come.

Thoughts

This is an utterly compelling series, everything comes together in Wormhole, the tense and riveting third instalment of the Rho Agenda series. The evil Dr Stephenson is, of course,still  working to his own agenda which is hidden beneath his creation of the wormhole.

It’s down to Jennifer, Mark and Heather to stop Dr Stephenson, whatever it takes and now they also have poor Raul with his terrible mutilations and increasing madness to contend with. All of which results in an epic battle and a horrifying and sad outcome for one of the teens. Very emotional plot details and one of those stories that will stay with me for quite a while.

The description of the treatment Heather, Mark and Jen were subjected to in the secret government facility is shocking in the extreme. The whole premise gives rise to questions about what goes on behind governmental doors, how far they would go and how little is actually known by the general public. Are their decisions always made for the greater good?

I’m really hoping this is not the end and we get to follow all the teens again at some point. I’d like to know more about baby Robbie too with the intriguing little hint about his imaginary friend.

Performance

MacLeod Andrews gives insight and personality to the characters  which adds to a superb narration, you know exactly who is speaking, the pacing and characterization expertly done.

Buy the books from  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Project Eden Series ~ the audiobooks

 

Captain Daniel Ash is woken by his daughter’s cry. As he stumbles into her bedroom he is catapulted into the beginning of the worst nightmare imaginable. His life is going to be turned upside down and inside out. But at that moment Ash can’t comprehend what has happened and is happening to his wife and daughter. Only his son seems ok for now,  just confused. And no wonder.

There’s something terrible going on and after over a week incarcerated in a cell, not knowing why and believing his children are dead, Ash is rescued in the nick of time and taken by stages to a safe place. What happened wasn’t an accident and there’s worse, much worse, to come. Ash has a hard time believing the devastating truth.

Sick starts out with a terrific, although moving and tragic, scene which pulled me in immediately and didn’t let go from then on. It’s intense, scary, heartbreaking, action packed and exciting.

The fundamental threat that is the basis of the story is mind-boggling, especially when it’s introduced by a dark and shady organisation run by calculating activists. The confusion, rage and determination Ash feels fairly jumps off the page, or in my case out of my ear buds ^_^

There’s so much going on (in a good way) including the sad descriptions of the people succumbing to the virus, the cold deliberation of the ‘soldiers’ in helicopters firing on civilians. The news anchor whose brother falls foul of the killers and a nail-biting, daring rescue. These villains are the worst possible with no regard for human life and so no remorse for their actions. This story sets up the series brilliantly.

Ash and his children have new identities and are living quietly in Iowa.  That is, until members of the Resistance show up at their house and ask for his help…The Resistance, including Matt, Rachel and Pax, who orchestrated Ash’s rescue in Sick are doing their utmost to stop Project Eden and their plan to eradicate 99% of the world’s population. They have only one mole left undercover with Project Eden, who manages to get information to the Resistance indicating a possible location for Bluebird, Project Eden’s secret base somewhere in the Arctic Circle.

When it becomes obvious the teams already sent out haven’t succeeded in their mission Ash is recruited and joins up with Chloe and several others in a last-ditch attempt to find and neutralise Bluebird. They only have a few weeks to try and stop the horror from being unleashed on the world.

“Even after what Ash has seen, what he’d been through with his children and living through the outbreak that killed his wife, he never thought it would get to this or even could get to this”

Project Eden’s plans are well under way and they have set up sites globally in different regions for the release of the Sage Flu on what they are calling Implementation day

This is another fast and furious ride, intense and exciting. The good guys are compelling and likeable, easy to relate to and care about. The supporting characters, who are portrayed really well, are working as they believe, for corporations that promise better things for themselves and their community, but are in fact being manipulated. This part of the storyline goes a long way in racking up the tension.

The narrative hops from country to country and cleverly shows the scope of the planned operation. The disturbing and nightmarish scenario created in Sick develops into something even more horrific. And oh my! the ending! 

The opening of Pale Horse piggybacks on the cliffhanger ending of Exit 9. Ash, Chloe and their team are at BlueBird, Project Eden HQ, trying to stop implementation of the virus but Olivia Silva has her own agenda. All it will take to change the world irrevocably is a click of the computer key.

All over the world something strange is happening with the shipping containers. Matt gives Bobby and Tamara the go ahead to upload their ‘worst case’ video in the hope of saving some lives. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all is not going well. Their location has been discovered and they are under attack. Taking refuge in the Bunker Matt decides on drastic action to safeguard their position while Sims, and his men, part of the special operations and commanding one of the projects tactical strike teams, are searching the area.

After what has already happened to them all Ash was determined his son would have some basic knowledge of how to take care of himself and had been coaching Brandon before he was recalled to the Resistance. And when Brandon finds himself alone in the woods after the attack on the compound he remembers his father’s lessons.

Pale Horse continues the suspenseful story of the attempt by Project Eden to restart humanity. as before there are several story lines running simultaneously which definitely keeps the tension at a high level. There are various supporting characters, all of which are strong and add to the story albeit tragically in most cases.

My favourite, though, is Sanjay in Mumbai. He discovered what Pishon Chem are really up to after he found his cousin was so sick with the flu. He now knows the anti malaria spray is no such thing and they all have been duped. He will do whatever it takes now to save Kusum and her family.

The devastating significance of what has happened is written with vivid representation which drew me in completely…again! The suspense and tension continue.

Ashes begins after the release of the virus by Project Eden. Ash is badly hurt while trying to find Brandon and Chloe races against time to get him the medical help he desperately needs. The doctor Chloe kidnaps is a good surgeon but it’s touch and go for a while.

Brandon Ash is on his own in the wilderness until he’s picked up b the army and taken to a facility for children left on their own. He doesn’t know when or if he is ever going to be reunited with his dad and sister. Chloe, Miller and Josie are on his trail but will they reach him before the Project Eden people.

Martina Gable and her family thought they would be safe in a cabin in the mountains. Dominic Ray runs a luxury holiday complex on a private island and hopes he can keep everyone safe by not letting anyone come onshore and keeping all boats away. He misses one. Sanjay and Kusum, whose little group has grown considerably. And Ellie, the little girl found with her dead parents. 

 All the survivors in their groups dotted about the globe thinking they may have a chance. Then Project Eden launch phase two of their deadly plan.

 This continues to be an enthralling series. The supporting characters are all wonderfully developed and show the utter horror and sadness in the aftermath of the release of the virus. Their stories are told with a poignancy that can really be felt.

It’s New Years Eve and a message is being transmitted across the world, supposedly by the United Nations, urging any survivors of the Sage Flu pandemic to go to designated checkpoints for immunisation against the flu.

Belinda Ramsey has been shut away in her dorm room at the college throughout the holidays keeping a journal of her thoughts, feelings and day-to-day life. When she heard the message she was so relieved to think her self-imposed exile would be over soon.

Sanjay and Kusum, however, are not fooled and attempt a daring rescue at the Mumbai ‘immunisation’ facility.

Pax and his team have been marooned on Amund Ringness Island by a storm since they arrived to search for Bluebird. They’d had no contact with the outside world for a week. Pax had no idea if Ash had succeeded in the attempt to stop Implementation Day. 

The tension and suspense remain sky-high in the fifth story of this amazing series. The skipping from place to place and group to group helps to maintain the level of anticipation and foreboding. The character development is wonderful and the isolated groups of survivors and their stories all combine to make this an edge of the seat ride.

It was interesting to get to know how and why the Resistance was formed, I couldn’t help but feel for Matt. But will his dangerous plan succeed.

What will happen to Martina and will she find Ben. Has Belinda made the right decision. Will Sanjay and Kusum and their ever-growing group continue to survive. Are the people on Isabella Island safe at last.

What an ending…again! Who saw that one coming. This has to be one of the best series ever. 

  • 20530045Dream Sky ~ book 6
  • Author: Brett Battles
  • Released: March 2014 by Audible Inc
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Category: Crime/Suspense/Thriller
  • five-stars

After the shock ending in Eden rising the Resistance needs to pause and regroup although not for long as the human slaughter by Project Eden is not over. Rachel is having a hard time coming to terms with Matt’s loss and has taken a back seat.

Ash, who has become the leader of the Resistance, and Chloe are doing their best to work out what Matt meant by ‘Augustine Dream Sky’ 

Pax is having problems getting the survivors off Isabella Island before a fly over by Project Eden members checking for anyone left alive after they saturated the island with the Sage Flu virus. Pax manages to get the ferry out into the open sea just in time but Robert doesn’t make it to the ferry in time. There is a speed boat in the harbour  but he can hear the drone of the plane’s engines in the distance.

Martina and Ben are still searching for each other and Ben’s search leads him to a survival station. It doesn’t take long before Ben suspects all is not as it seems. Belinda also makes it to a survival station but she too is suspicious and wishes she’d stayed at the dorm.

In Mumbai Sanjay, Kusum and their friends find an abandoned station which proves invaluable to the Resistance.

Top marks to Mr Battles for racking up the suspense and tension even more, if that’s possible, while keeping up to date with the groups of survivors. It’s impossible not to be drawn in, it’s like being there, part of each group and willing them to succeed.

There’s so much evil running through the Project Eden people and it’s intensified in this story in comparison to the good work the Resistance is doing trying to save as many people as they can at great risk to their own safety. The parallel stories and characters are so well written and the final section of the story is amazingly nerve-wracking with the world-wide co-ordinated attacks on the survival stations.

Ash and Chloe finally understand what Dream Sky is and means and Ash is ready to give the go ahead for their part in the operation. Watch this space! I’m emotionally drained 😉 but I so want the next instalment!

MacLeod Andrews always delivers the perfect narration, breathing life into each character and actually taking on the personalities, with all the emotions expressed wonderfully. No mean feat. There are countless characters  and accents and all are performed seamlessly.

Buy the books Amazon UK and Amazon US

All That’s Missing ~ the audiobook

 

When his grandfather’s dementia raises the specter of foster care, Arlo flees to find his only other family member in this genuine, heartening novel. Arlo’s grandfather travels in time. Not literally — he just mixes up the past with the present.

Arlo Sabatini’s parents died when he was two years old so there’s just been himself and his grandfather, Poppo, for as long as Arlo can remember.

Lately though, Poppo has been getting the past mixed up with the present and Arlo has been doing his best to look after him but how long can he carry on without someone finding out. Then Poppo has a stroke and is taken to hospital.  

Arlo is sent to a children’s home when it becomes apparent there’s no-one to look after him. And so Arlo takes matters into his own hands and runs away to his grandmother Ida’s house.  Ida and Poppo haven’t spoken for years and Arlo can’t really remember his grandmother.

Poppo recovers well but decides it’s best for both him and Arlo if he goes into sheltered accommodation and Arlo stays with his grandmother in Edgewater.

While Arlo is trying to come to terms with his mixed emotions about the changes in his life and work out why his grandmother and Poppo have been on bad terms, he and his new friend, Maywood help to solve a decades old mystery.

A very emotional and touching story given a convincingly sensitive and warm delivery by MacLeod Andrews.

This is such a moving and thoughtful story with a lovely main character. I wanted to scoop Arlo up and look after him. It’s also the story of a boy’s determination, strength and love as well as family and trust. Real emotion shone through the writing without it being slushy or soppy.

Buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Suspect ~ the audiobook

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking late-night assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty – until he meets his new partner.

A story involving man’s (and woman’s) best friend is a very good starting point for me. Especially when the dog in question is a GSD.  Maggie is military trained and on active duty with her handler, Pete, in Afghanistan. They have an incredibly close relationship, living and working together. While on a job one day Pete is killed by a suicide bomber and Maggie is shot and badly injured by a sniper.

Scott James is a police officer with the LAPD and while on patrol with his partner, Stephanie, becomes unwittingly involved in a shooting.  Stephanie doesn’t make it and Scott is seriously wounded.

Several months later Scott and Maggie are recovering physically but both are severely traumatized.  Maggie misses her pack leader and is sunk in depression and Scott blames himself for Stephanie’s death and is suffering from flashbacks and nightmares as well as coping with the lasting effects of his injuries.

Scott doesn’t want a medical discharge and joins the LAPD’s canine division. Maggie is classed as unfit for active duty and is taken to the canine division. And here begins an incredible story of the bond between a dog and her human, the interaction and building of trust and love after the traumas they both suffered.

MacLeod magic strikes again 🙂  A perfect narration expressing the despair Scott feels and the growing attachment between him and Maggie, the ‘doggie speak’ delivered without sounding corny. The character portrayals are first-rate, both soft voiced and gruffer and gravelly.

The opening chapters particularly are powerful and moving and it’s very easy to become emotionally involved with the Maggie and Scott.  If you’re a dog lover ( and maybe even if you’re not) be prepared to shed a few tears.

There are multi layers to this story and running alongside Scott and Maggie’s bonding is the murder mystery. Scott is determined to find Stephanie’s killers and together he and Maggie bring down the bad guys in a suspenseful and tension filled storyline.

 I like the way Mr Crais writes some scenes from Maggie’s point of view. He has a wonderful insight into the relationships between dogs and humans.

Buy from Amazon UK

Since You Left Me ~ the audiobook

 

For Sanskrit Aaron Zuckerman, it isn’t easy to believe. Especially when all the people you care about leave.

His dad left after the divorce. The love of his life left in second grade. His best friend in Jewish school found God and practically left the planet. Now his yoga-teacher mom is falling in love with her spiritual guru, and she’s threatening to leave, too.

Sanskrit is a boy dealing with a lot of concerns. He is compelled to attend a Jewish school because of a stipulation in his Grandfather’s will but feels a fake because he doesn’t believe in the Jewish faith. Which doesn’t help when his best friend, Herschel, finds religion and doesn’t seem like the same person. 

His parents are divorced and feels his yoga mad mother has no time for him. He never got over his first crush and with all these things swirling around it’s no wonder he invents a lie when his mother fails to turn up for his parent/teacher evening.

MacLeod Andrews’ narration reflects the sentiments and feelings perfectly and all the character portrayals are spot on.

I like Sanskrit a lot and couldn’t help but feel a whole load of sympathy for him. He’s struggling with beliefs and very unsure of himself. And although he’s far from a stereotypical teen he tells his story with teenage angst, wit and sarcasm but for all that it’s heartbreakingly sensitive.

This is a delightful story, very different and written with lots of humour but underneath dealing with more serious matters such as religion and family dynamics. The writing and narration really bring the characters to life and pull you into the story. There’s real depth and uniqueness…I loved it.

Buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Innocence ~ the audiobook

 

He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.
 
She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.
 
But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

Addison lives in complete seclusion under the city, only venturing above ground at night.  He is not like other people and has known nothing but hatred and disgust all his life. Even his mother cannot bear to look at him and, although she loves him, it doesn’t stop her from attempting infanticide several times.

Eventually she gives him a backpack with supplies and tells him to leave.  Addison is rescued by a man like himself and together they survive under the city streets until his ‘father’s’ death. 

One night as Addison visits the library he sees a young girl fleeing from a man. After she manages to give him the slip Addison finds her and they strike up a conversation. Gwyneth has a social phobia and does not want to be touched in any physical way. They make a bargain, Addison doesn’t touch and Gwyneth doesn’t look. And so begins a friendship of sorts which soon turns to love.

The story alternates between the present day and Addison’s life leading up to his meeting with Gwyneth.  This builds the tension nicely and also the compassion for a human being shunned and forced to live in such an unnatural way. Bit by bit the mysteries are revealed and it’s heartbreaking and shocking.

Just as you think the story has reached its tragic conclusion there is a glimmer of hope……

The pacing and articulation of the narration enhances the emotion and suspense of the story almost beyond bearing sometimes. Each character is portrayed to perfection.  And I loved the very descriptive writing, especially of the snowy city scenery which, coupled with the narration, was hauntingly beautiful.

This is a story of friendship, trust and love. A masterful, moving and in the end quite spiritual story. It’s also about the age-old fight between good and evil, you can guess which side wins but what an ending!

Buy the book from  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Truesight Trilogy ~ the audiobooks

 

In the first of this futuristic trilogy we’re introduced to 12-year-old Jacob. He lives with his family on a space colony, Harmony, where everyone is born blind.  The thought of sight is almost an abomination and the belief is ‘true sight’ leads to crime and dishonesty. Little do they know! Jacob finds out a lot about the people in his community when inexplicably he begins to see.

 Shocked and horrified Jacob hides the fact of his sight and tries to carry on as he would normally, which becomes increasingly more difficult. He is hit by another bombshell when he is told his best friend, Delaney, has committed suicide.  

 Eventually Jacob is found out and the leader of the community’s ‘solution’ to Jacob’s newly acquired sight is a terrible one. Jacob has some serious decisions to make about which life he wants, the one he’s always known and been comfortable with or the one he now sees is the real one.

  • The SeerThe Seer ~ book 2
  • four-half-stars   

Now Jacob is a seer he is trying to get to grips with the new, unknown and incredible world he finds himself in. He has left Harmony to save his sight and is befriended on his travels by Xander, a great character who has his own troubled and sad past.

Jacob misses his family and Delaney, who he found out hadn’t committed suicide but was banished from Harmony by her father and Jacob wants desperately to find her.

Jacob needs to find his place in this new world and deal with what’s happened to him.

The pace and tension are upped in this book, especially with Jacob’s visionary dreams giving him a fore warning of things to come.

  • OtherspaceOtherspace ~ book 3  
  • four-stars  

A very good ending to this trilogy with lots of engaging characters.  Jacob learns more about himself and finds the place he’s been drawn to in his visions after a long and arduous journey. He finally arrives at a colony on a distant planet for people like him who have gained sight.

This isn’t the end of Jacob’s adventures as he is instrumental in bringing more people to the safety of the new colony. He has finally discovered who he is and what he needs to do.  And Jacob’s visions of himself as a man returning to Delaney and Xander comfort him with the knowledge he will see them again.

 Performance

Once again MacLeod Andrews’ considerable talent and ability with young adult fiction come to the fore in a superb narration.  

Thoughts

An extremely creative storyline with a distinctive protagonist emerging and growing as he turns 13 and his world changes irrevocably.

As a young adult series I think it would raise questions for the reader, the issues of extremists and friendships, good and evil are not glossed over.

The descriptions of space travel are fantastic.

Buy the books Amazon UK and Amazon US

Multiple Wounds ~ the audiobook

Holly Troy’s mind is a complex maze of myth and reality, multiple personalities vying for time in the spotlight. As an artist, she is creative and compelling. As a witness, she is painfully unreliable, unsure of even which person she was the night of the murder. Even Holly can’t be sure of her own innocence. Homicide detective Orson Cheever never thought he would find himself playing psychologist to a Greek goddess in a modern-day murder investigation, but many of Holly’s personalities come straight from classical mythology, from Cronos and Pandora to the Fates. As Cheever attempts to unravel truth from myth, he learns that there is even more to Holly than meets the eye. One personality in particular—that of a five-year-old girl—hits a little too close to home, and Cheever is forced to finally pull back the dark curtains of his own past in order to uncover the truth in this psychological thriller.
An intriguing concept for a murder story.  Helen Troy has a multiple personality disorder and her ‘other selves’ originate in classical greek mythology. 
 
The story begins with the murder of Bonnie Gill, the owner of the gallery where Helen exhibits her sculptures.  Orson Cheever, the homicide detective leading the investigation who, against his better judgement, finds himself wanting to help the disturbed and vulnerable young woman after he witnesses her crying tears of blood.
 
Helen is a probable suspect in Bonnie’s murder and the case evolves into something Cheever has never witnessed, or had to deal with, before. Cheever and Rachel, Helen’s psychologist become close and unite in trying to help Helen.  As Helen’s past is revealed slowly bit by bit Cheever can’t help but be moved and angered by the sad and shocking truth.

MacLeod Andrews alternates brilliantly between the gravely voiced Cheever, Holly and the varied voices of her personalities, not to mention an array of other characters.

This is a gripping psychological murder/thriller, full of suspense which doesn’t let up.

The descriptions of Helen’s psychotic episodes are very well written. Suspenseful, complex and captivating it’s also a story of love, loss and suffering told with flashes of humour and a lot of emotional turmoil.

The intricacies of multiple personality disorder are handled with thoughtful consideration and, along with the references to greek mythology, have been well researched.

Buy the book Amazon UK

Steelheart ~ the audiobook

 

  • cfa0d67825b34bff42772d35239e17e7The Reckoners ~ Book 1
  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: September 2013 by Audible Frontiers
  • Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic
  • four-half-stars

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

A very descriptive and sad prologue sets up the storyline, the trauma suffered by David and how that affects the choices he makes.

In a post Calamity world ruled by dark and chilling Epics, humans who gained fearful super powers, a small group of resistance fighters, The Reckoners, are killing Epics to try to undermine their hold on the world. 

David wants revenge against the most powerful ruling Epic, Steelheart, for the murder if his father 10 years ago. He joins The Reckoners (great characters) and they devise a plan.

David knows Steelheart has a weakness, he saw him bleed, but he doesn’t know for sure what the weakness is or how to utilise it to The Reckoners’ best advantage.

A good narrator makes all the difference to an audiobook but an exceptional narrator takes it to a whole new level. MacLeod Andrews comes into the latter category. He brings David to life and gives him personality and moves easily between each of the characters giving them all distinctive ‘voices’ and emotional depth as well as intenseness to the whole of the story.

Although this is classed as a young adult title it kind of hovers on the mid line between YA and adult.

There are morality issues to confront and lessons to learn, several unexpected twists and revelations turn things upside down. The characters are solid and likeable and I love how David is portrayed. He’s had to grow up fast but still has teenage moments of impulsiveness and acting without thought of the consequences. The banter between the group is appealing and comical at times.

Imaginative storytelling, which leaves enough unsaid to make me want to follow on with the next book, lots of fast paced action and suspense. In the Epic world superpowers are used for destruction and corruption but the Reckoners have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

The writing style appealed to me, very well done with vivid imagery and clever world building and I liked that there’s a darkness to the story. 

The book is available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Knowledge of Good and Evil ~ the audiobook

 

Ian Baringer may have stumbled upon the greatest discovery of all time.

Or the greatest curse . . .

This is riveting, a very well written and researched story with likeable, developed characters.  Ian Baringer, an ex priest, is on a quest to find answers about whether there is a life after death.  After his parents died in a terrible accident while saving his life when he was a child, he is determined to try to see them again somehow.  And he may have found a way, a very dangerous one.  Ian risks his life in the hope he might succeed despite the total anxiety and fear of his fiancée, Angela.

Fast paced, thrilling, thought-provoking and intriguing on a religious level. Strict Catholic dogma brought into question and pitched against the eternal battle between good and evil. 

Corruption in the Vatican and assassins on the loose make for lots of action and suspense and the fact the story includes real people and places and so many elaborate and intricate details add so much to the story.

The near death experiences and visits to horrifically dark places are more than a little scary. From Hell to Heaven, the descriptions of both are fascinating and vivid and make you reconsider previous assumptions. Great ending which left me wanting more. A thrilling listen, I loved it. 

MacLeod Andrews has the ability and the voice to adapt to any narration with ease, regardless of accents or language. A stellar performance.

Buy the book from  Amazon UK and Amazon US