Review: The Bartender Always Dies Last by Gene Penny

The Bartender Always Dies LastMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first book by Gene Penny, but it will probably not be my last! I experienced this book in Audiobook form narrated by Kirsten Leigh.

I will be honest and say up front that I was not sure if I would enjoy this story as it was described as horror. I decided to give it a try because it also was described as humor and it was short (148 pages or 3 hrs and 58 mins listening time). I decided that I would step out of my comfort bubble and give it a shot, and I was glad that I did.

The general plot of the book is about Roger – an aging stoner who lives in a college town with his stoner roommate. Roger and his Roommate take a bookshelf off the hands of a distressed neighbor who claims the bookshelf is possessed by a demon, who soon demands sacrifice. The rest of the story has a lot of the typical horror staples: College town, Coeds, hot girls, creepy neighbors, demons, mysterious murders that happen every seven years. You get the picture. Though once you get into the story it is hard to fit it into the single genre of horror. You have to throw in bits of supernatural, sci-fi, romance, mystery, and of course lots of comedy. If you are uncomfortable with bad language and crude humor this book may not be for you. I, however, love it.

Narration: At first I was thrown off a little bit by the fact that a female narrator was narrating a story told primarily from a male perspective, and his voice is roughly 40-50% of the narration. I was quickly relieved however as Kirsten Leigh did a fantastic job with all of the voices, the comedic delivery and even the tension and suspense. I would love to listen to another book narrated by her. Looking briefly through her works however it seems it is mostly romance which, again, is not my usual cup of tea.

Follow Gene Penny on Twitter at @genepenny or visit Gene’s website www.graveyardcontinuum.com

Find more books narrated by Kirsten Leigh on GoodReads.

* I was provided a copy of this book by the author, narrator or publisher in exchange for an honest review. *

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Review: The Vesik Series: Books 1-3 by Eric R. Asher

The Vesik Series: Books 1-3 (Vesik Series Boxset)The Vesik Series: Books 1-3 by Eric R. Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is for books 1-3 (spoiler free)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Vesik Series is an Urban Fantasy series about a Necromancer named Damian Vesik, told in first-person from Damian’s perspective. Damian works with and against such creatures such as Faries, Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, Ghosts, Gods and of course… Zombies!

As a huge fan of urban fantasy such as Jim Butcher‘s The Dresden Files, Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid series, Carrie Vaughn‘s Kitty Norville, and Kim Harrison‘s Hallows series, I found this series quite enjoyable.

Eric Asher starts the story in a world with a rich history and characters all have deep backstories that you get to learn as you go along. Some things are explained, some things are hinted at and remain a mystery. It is executed in a way that feels as if you just joined a group of old friends. It is done in a way that feels organic. Between the books, time passes without us and events have happened that you catch up on during the course of each book.

I do have to comment on one nit-picking thing that bothered me throughout all three books. This book has a good amount of humor, in the form of jokes, sarcasm, and innuendo. Mostly it is done well however after every joke the author has to make sure you know that a joke was made by having another character react with a snort, chuckle, or laugh.

Every. Single. Time.

The jokes and humor themselves are done well, but when the reactions have to point out the jokes so often it subtracts from the joke itself. In the same way having to explain why something is so funny, pointing out that it IS funny kills it. Some jokes deserve a reaction, but the frequency in which it is done in these novels quickly started to get to me. Not quite enough to kill my enjoyment of the story, but enough to diminish it. Eventually, I had to just convince my imagination that these parts didn’t happen. Perhaps because I experienced these books on audiobook format, it was more noticeable. OK, I am done with my nit-picking!

The Narrator William Dufris does an excellent job especially depicting different characters of different sexes, accents, and inflections. I have enjoyed William’s work in Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, The AMAZING Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo and many other great Audiobooks. He is a great narrator and I always enjoy his work.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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Review: Critical Failures by Robert Bevan

Critical Failures
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Critical Failures by Robert Bevan is a humorous novel about four friends who are getting together to play a game of “Caverns and Creatures” or C&C (a.k.a. Dungeons and Dragons) with a new Cavern Master who they found online and never met before.

In no time the group gets on the bad side of the Cavern Master and as punishment he traps them inside the world of C&C as their characters. Soon they discover that their actions and choices have consequences and adventure ensues.

While the concept behind this story is nothing new—even the rules and concepts in the game seem an exact copy of D&D—I found myself unable to put this book down. The story is a good blend of mystery, adventure and humor. I probably woke my wife up on more than one occasion literally laughing out loud several times.

I would readily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and/or role-playing games. While it helps to be familiar with the general rules of role-playing games, Bevan does a decent job at explaining it without over-explaining.

Critical Failures is the first book in a trilogy, and I will definitely be picking up the other books.

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