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: Sensation by Kevin Hardman

Sensation (Kid Sensation, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SensationSensation by Kevin Hardman is a young adult book about a world in which superpowers are a reality. Those that develop these powers can try out to be part of the elite superhero team, the Alpha League.

The protagonist is Jim, a teenager who instead of having just one superpower has inherited multiple powers from his family which is full of other superheroes, and more powers seem to come to him as time goes on. When it is finally time for Jim to try out for the Alpha League, things don’t exactly go as planned and soon Jim finds himself fighting those who he wished to join. Two years after this, Jim finds himself with the opportunity to set things right and possibly become a member of the Alpha League. But of course, nothing is ever that easy!

Sensation is the first book by Kevin Hardman that I have read. I found the pacing of the book to be just about perfect. It had a good balance of action, character building, and drama to keep you interested and at the same time move the story along. I never felt like the story got into a slow spot or started to drag on at any point. The style is obviously written for a young audience, with plenty of teen angst and teen drama. However, as a 40-year-old, I did not find this to be so over the top as to affect the enjoyment I was able to get from the story. If you are a fan of superheroes then this book is definitely worth a listen!

The audiobook is narrated excellently by Mikael Naramore. Naramore’s narration checked off all the things I hope for in a good narration of an Audiobook: Distinctive and consistent characters, and good inflection that matches the tone of the story. His performance was done well enough that I will be looking for his name on other narrations in the future.

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

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

*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review*

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Mason Dixon: Monster Hunter Episode 1

Mason Dixon: Monster Hunter Episode 1
Series: Mason Dixon – Monster Hunter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
 
 
| Buy Links |
 
Something waits in the rural hills of Missouri, terrorizing a small town and leaving a path of destruction. The secrecy of the endangered cryptid population is threatened, capturing the attention of reality show host Mason Dixon, Cryptid Hunter and conservationist. When the beasts of folklore stray too close to humanity, Mason has no choice but to track them down. While he does all he can to protect cryptids, Mason knows sometimes it’s humanity that needs protecting.
| About the Author |
 
 
Eric is a former bookseller, cellist, and comic seller currently living in Saint Louis, Missouri. A lifelong enthusiast of books, music, toys, and games, he discovered a love for the written word after being dragged to the library by his parents at a young age. When he is not writing, you can usually find him reading, gaming, or buried beneath a small avalanche of Transformers.
 
 

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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: Steamborn by Eric R. Asher

Steamborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsys:
Steamborn is about Jacob, a young man with a gift for mechanics and pick-pocketing. Jacob lives in the Lowlands, the slums of the mountain city Ancora. When the towering city walls – that have protected the Lowlands and its people from the creatures that live outside of the city in what is called the Deadlands – are breached and fall Jacob and his family and friends must flee to the Highlands, the wealthy part of the city. Jacob and his friend Alice stumble upon a terrible secret about the truth behind the attacks on the Lowlands.

Review:
I was excited about this new series from Eric R. Asher, as I enjoyed his The Vesik Series: Books 1-3. I have not read many novels of the steam-punk genre, So I was even more interested in giving it a try. I was not disappointed!

What I enjoyed most is the world this novel is based in. There is a rich and deep history full of mysteries, many of which go unanswered in book 1. Not only is the city and world surrounding it written well, the political tensions and intrigues are also done very well. Every character carries with him or her pieces of this history or political conflicts making each character an integral part of the overall story.

I found the writing in Steamborn more polished than in the Vesik series. In my review of The Vesik Series Books 1-3, I stated there was an issue I had with repetitive reactions. I found absolutely none of that in Steamborn, and the overall feel was more polished.

I experienced this novel through Audiobook. The Narrator was Saskia Maarleveld. I found her narration quite enjoyable. The voices were all performed excellently. Each character was consistent and distinct.

My only complaint is that the story ended too soon as I was not ready to end my journey with Jacob, Alice, and Charles! I look forward to the next book in this series, Steamforged!

Check out Eric R. Asher’s site here: http://www.ericrasher.com/

Check out Saskia Maarleveld’s site here: http://www.saskiamaarleveld.com

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher

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Review: Cached Out by Russell Atkinson

Cached OutMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cached Out is my first book by Russell Atkinson. I should note that I listened to the Audio version of this narrated by Joe Hempel, who I also enjoyed listening to narrate Heart of Gold.

 

Synopsis:
While out Geocaching, Ex-FBI agent Cliff Knowles comes across skeletal remains of a human body and reports it. When it turns out the body belongs to a criminal leader of a drug cartel previously involved in a major drug bust that Cliff had been a part of, but was never arrested. When more bodies start turning up near geocache sites that Cliff had visited, the investigation turns on him as a suspect. To clear his name he has to do some investigating of his own to find the only other person who has also visited the geocaching sites, the owner only known as Enigmal.

Review:
Overall, I found this book enjoyable. Throughout the story, there was enough mystery and suspense to keep me engaged. The cast of characters are all distinct and well done. The story is told from the third person perspective, and while it mainly follows Cliff it does also give the other characters quite a bit of spotlight.

If you are a geocacher, then you may enjoy this book but be forewarned: as with any book about a hobby it goes out of its way to explain practically every aspect of geocaching so that someone who had no knowledge of it would be able to understand and follow along. I can see how this would get old to someone who is very familiar to geocaching. If you do not know what geocaching is, you should check out https://www.geocaching.com/guide/.

OK, now it’s time for the nit-picking. While none of these things were huge negatives they are worth mentioning. The biggest problem I had is there are a few parts where it seems some editing was missed. Through most of the book when it comes to the crime drama, it discusses the details about things like investigative procedures and how law enforcement works together it is fairly well done. Once in a while however, there are parts that seem to be lazy or overlooked in editing. While investigating multiple murders connected together, multiple agencies supposedly cannot get a warrant to obtain identity information from a geocaching website because there is no official case?!?! And discussing how to proceed one of the FBI / DEA agents literally says something to the effect of “Yeah, to heck with all the procedures…” (while I cannot find the exact quote this is very close). It made aparent that the Author wanted to drag out discovering the identity of this person, however it could have been more realistically done other ways such as having that person always post from internet cafe’s or hotspots making his identity hard to know. At Another point, the FBI agent says to another Investigator “I have some FBI stuff to do”. There are a few times like these that feel like it breaks away from a serious approach at crime drama.

Narration: Joe Hempel does an excellent job narrating in this book. All of the voices are distinct, have character and none feel cringy, which can happen especially often when trying to depict the opposite sex. Such a good job was done with this novel, I have bookmarked other Audiobooks narrated by Joe to listen to in the future.

Disclaimer: This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

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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: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The ChemistMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I was interested to see how this book turned out. I had a LOT of issues with the The Twilight Saga, but I really enjoyed The Host (Still waiting on the sequel – The Seeker!). The synopsis of this book definitely seems different enough.

 

The result, however, is just…

Rating: 3.5
I feel that fans of her previous work (especially Twilight) will not love the governmental conspiracy, spy thriller parts. Fans of spy thrillers will not be completely satisfied either. Both will—at best—be in the middle. Fanatics of Meyers will probably love it though and forgive all the obvious flaws of the book, nothing wrong with that though as I myself have authors that I am that way about

(My reaction to anything Patrick Rothfuss)

Not surprisingly the characters are really one dimensional. This is not always a bad thing, sometimes a story calls for it or does not suffer because of it. Usually when there is enough action and suspense to cover for it. This was not the case in The Chemist though. Much of the book is spent with the characters “in hiding”, which would be a great time for them to get to know each other but there is not much to that. The majority of the characters can be summed up in a single sentence:

Alex (for simplicity) – Former government chemist interrogator on the run.
Daniel – White knight.
Kevin – Super macho ex-special ops who is on the run and trains dogs.

Surprisingly, one of the most multidimensional characters is the main antagonist—whom I can’t for the life of me remember the name of—Alex’s former handler.

The thing that was the hardest for me to swallow in this book is the whole romance angle. Daniel just felt completely unbelievable and hard to swallow. From the first moment he enters the story he is obviously smitten with Alex. At first this is fine, but after the torture scene where she tortures him, he just acts as if that never happened and it doesn’t change how he feels about her at all? And the whole “love at first sight” stuff?

I do give Meyer tons of props for completely changing genres and stepping out and writing something completely… ok mostly different.

In conclusion, there were definitely enjoyable parts of this book and it entertained me sufficiently. I do wish there was either more character and relationship development or more fast-paced, nonstop action.

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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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