Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel

Death Knocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel takes a lesser known urban legend of Black Eyed Kids and turns it into a suspenseful, fun read. Maverick is about to start his senior year in high school and is spending the evening with his best friend playing video games when a knock at the door changes his whole life.

I thought that Hardy and Noel do a great job at writing characters that were likable, relatable, and yet flawed. Stakes are continuously raised throughout the story and the pacing was done well. The story kept moving forward at a good pace.

Memo from the nit-picking department: While this didn’t bother me enough to diminish my enjoyment of this book, it did nag at me. The book seemed to take place in the modern time of ~2017ish (there were game consoles and cell phones), yet not once was the possibility that the black eyes were caused by special contacts which exist. It just felt this possibility was overlooked.

I listened to this book on audiobook narrated by Jeff Simpson. Simpson did a good job making each voice distinct and bringing the characters to life, using different inflections and accents in an enjoyable way. The quality of the recording was excellent as well.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Wendigo Fever by Kevin Hardman

Wendigo Fever (Warden, #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wendigo Fever is a short novel that introduces the book series “Wardens”. Wardens are monster hunters trained to deal with monsters and creatures roaming the world.
Intro novel does not go into detail on how these creatures came to the earth, or history of Wardens but focuses on Errol the younger brother to Tom, a Warden. Errol has no interest in becoming a Warden. When his older brother Tom goes missing, Errol is thrown into assuming the duties of his brother as well as investigating his disappearance.

This first book in the series is a short introduction to this world of Wardens and monsters. Though short I felt this book did a great job with pacing and story. The characters are likable yet flawed. The story manages to simultaneously have its own mini story arc and setting up a larger story arc for later books, which left me feeling both satisfied with the story and wanting more.

Mikael Naramore did a wonderful job at narrating, much like he did with Sensation which I also reviewed. distinctive and consistent characters, and good inflection that matches the tone of the story. Looking through his other works I am looking forward to listening to “Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It”!

Visit Kevin Hardman‘s blog at http://kevinhardman.blogspot.com/

Find Mikael Naramore on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikaelNaramore

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Gabby’s Run by M.D. Massey

Gabby's Run (Them #3)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gabby’s Run is the first book by M.D. Massey that I have read. I must start out by stating that there is some confusion on where this book truly falls in the “Them” series. The book art and description on Amazon / Audible state that this is “Book Four”, however on Goodreads and other reviews it states “Book Three” and hints that this is actually a prequel or origin/backstory for a character in the other books. As I have not read these books I cannot comment on them, or how this book fits into the whole series.

The story follows 16-year-old Gabby Mendoza. Gabby lives in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters such as Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, and more are real. Gabby grows up being trained by ex-CIA “Uncle Tony” to hunt and kill monsters. As a child, she was given special serum injections that enhance her abilities giving her super-human speed, strength, and senses. The Serum however also has side effects as her body stopped growing when she was given the serum at twelve years old. Now she is 16, but she doesn’t look it.

While on a training exercise with her uncle, things go wrong and they get separated. She discovers a young boy Raleigh and his sister Violet while hiding out in a safehouse. Gabby follows them to the small camp they are living at and is taken in by Raleigh. When the boy is taken by a monster the boy calls “The boogeyman” Gabby takes off in pursuit to rescue him. During her time separated from her Uncle Tony and trying to rescue Raleigh Gabby learns a lot about who she is, and who she wants to be.

Overall I enjoyed the story as it had a unique feel to the Zombie Apocolypse / monster hunter genre. Gabby is an interesting character who is discovering herself and her place in this crazy world as she goes along. The pace of the book is nice and steady with lots of action and suspense to keep your attention and interest.

One problem I have is not with the book itself, rather that it is categorized as Young Adult (YA). Certain parts of this book have a very YA feel, but I do not think this book is not very YA friendly due to very dark subjects such as drug use, prostitution, rape, murder, gore, and cannibalism.

I listened to this book in Audio format. It was narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel who did a superb job. The voice of all the characters was done very well with different accents, inflections, and tones. I would be very interested in listening to more audiobooks narrated by her in the future!

Links:
M.D. Massey: Check out his website at http://mdmassey.com/ or on Twitter at @mdmasseyauthor

Laurie Catherine Winkel: Check out her website at https://www.lauriecatherinewinkel.com

*I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audio book by the author, narrator, or publisher.*

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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: Shadows in the Water by Kory M. Shrum

Shadows in the WaterShadows in the Water by Kory M. Shrum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I found out that Kory M. Shrum was working on a new crime thriller book, I was super excited! Then when I was able to get an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of the book to proofread, I freaked out even more!

Shadows in the Water is about a woman named Louie Thorne who is seeking revenge for the death of her parents. But this is not your typical revenge story, as Louie has a special gift. A gift that allows her to dish out punishment to members of a Mafia family involved in her parent’s deaths. As she uses this gift to exact her revenge, she learns that this gift does not come without costs and dangers.

The first chapter of this book was so intense and gripping, that to this day I get a little creeped out when I give my children baths! The characters are everything I look for in a good story: Complex, quirky, layered, and most of all… flawed. With the gift that Louie possesses it would be easy for her to become a complete “Mary Sue”, but she is far from that. Not that she isn’t a complete Bad-Ass, because she totally is!

With each new book that Shrum writes it just gets better and better, and it started off pretty darn great! This latest book was so good that I purchased it for my Kindle despite already having the ARC copy so that I could lend it out to my family and get them hooked as well.

I highly recommend reading this book – Just not in the bath!

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Review: Heart of Gold by J.A. Cipriano

Heart of Gold (Clans of Shadow #1)Heart of Gold by J.A. Cipriano

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Frank Butcher is a retired veteran with a passion for movies. Retired from the military he is now working his delivery job. On the last stop of the day – which happens to be the highlight of his day due to the attractive Doctor Gabrielle – some serious shit goes down and Frank is nearly killed saving the life of the beautiful Doctor. Gabrielle saves his life in turn by using a powerful magical artifact, throwing Frank into a world of magic and getting him mixed up right in the middle of two warring factions who would both kill to get their hands on the magic that Frank now possesses.

Frank would prefer to just walk away from all of this, lay low and let this all blow over. However, Gabrielle’s son Max has been kidnapped and she asks for his help to rescue him. Because Frank is a badass – Think Jack Burton meets Jason Bourne with a just a dash of Ash (Evil Dead) – he steps up to the challenge.

I found this book enjoyable and fun. It is what I like to call popcorn fiction: It has lots of action, good one liners, not too much depth.

The only complaint I have is that it is a tad on the short side, leaving me wanting more! Luckily it left off in an obvious setup for a sequel.

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