Tag Archives: audio book

Review of Blood Ice & Oak Moon: A Coon Hollow Coven Tale, by Marsha A. Moore

I won an audible copy of Marsha A. Moore’s Blood Ice & Oak Moon.

Description from Goodreads:
Esme Underhill is about to discover a darkness hidden inside her that could destroy her chance for independence and possibly kill her.

Esme’s mother took her young daughter away from Southern Indiana’s Coon Hollow Coven to prevent her from learning about the unusual witchcraft she had inherited. When Esme is twenty-seven, her beloved Grammy Flora passes away and leaves her property in the Hollow to her granddaughter. With this opportunity to remake her life and gain independence, Esme attempts to emulate Grammy Flora as a wildwood mystic who relies on the hedge world of faeries to locate healing herbs. But fae are shrewd traders. When they open their world to her, she must meet the unknown malevolence of her birthright.

Thayne, the handsome king of the fae Winter Court, faces his own struggle to establish autonomy as a new regent. He is swept into the tempest of Esme’s unfolding powers, a dangerous threat to his court. His sworn duty is to protect his people, despite Esme’s beauty and allure, which tear at his resolve.

Both Esme’s and Thayne’s dreams of personal freedom are lost…unless they can trust each other and overcome surmounting dangers.

Sigh. This may just be a case of a book being poorly matched to a reader, but I didn’t much care for this. It wasn’t all out bad, but it wasn’t great either. If I had to break the review of my experience with this down to one statement, it would be both the book and the audio narration (by Jean Lowe Carlson) were only ok. Neither very good, but not all out bad either, or at least not to my liking.

I found the writing, especially the dialogue really stilted and stiff. This was apparent in the actual writing, but I think it was exacerbated by the way it was read by Carison.

Some people will probably like this kind of Mary Sue heroine, but I don’t see the appeal. She was 27, but the book reads like it is YA. Esmerelda was constantly on about becoming (not being, but becoming) and independent woman. Despite this, she was also always moaning about her mom, or daddy or grammy. And in the end, wanna know what she felt made her feel more independent than anything ever did before? Getting married. Arg, someone get me a drink STAT! And this after spending most of the book all cut up because of one bad past relationship. It was cliched.

She also defeated an all-powerful enemy with presumably hundreds of years of training and experience in less than a page with no training or experience of her own. I won’t quite call it deus ex mechana, because she had the power already. But I also couldn’t believe it.

I felt no chemistry between Esmeralda and Thayne and at no point did I see their relationship develop. They were just in love all of a sudden and she was being handed a princess’ happily ever after for no apparent reason.

I didn’t truly understand why her and her black amber were so sought after. I have no idea what the underlying motivation of at least one of the villains was, and only a vague idea about the others. (And why have so many independent enemies?) And at one point an established dictum of the universe, that fae can’t lie, is broken.

All in all, this is a strong case of ‘special snowflake’ heroine and I didn’t care for it. But I bet others really will.

Review of Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

I borrowed an audio version of Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch from Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

I quite enjoyed this once I figured out that it and Midnight Riot are the same book. Why do publishers change titles other than to confuse readers? Anyhow, once I figured the title out, such that I realized it was the first of the series and picked it up, I enjoyed it. I loved Peter’s sarcastic voice, the cast and the introduction to all of the magic creatures of London. Not to mention the descriptions of the city and it’s rivers.

As an American I can imagine that Peter’s casual references to race could be uncomfortable. But I have to say, after living in England for several years, the ability to acknowledge it without the instant assumption that it is meant to be racist was refreshing. I never sensed Aaronovitch was being racist simply because he acknowledge someone to be of Nigerian decent or Arabian or Traveler. Peter is supposed to be of mixed race, his mother from Sierra Leon and his father white English. It’s not that it was always delicate or tactfully handled, it’s just that it was matter of fact and benign; the character’s insider perspective. Seeing a main character of color was nice in and of itself.

I laughed a lot in the course of this book and I was especially impressed with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration of the audio version I eventually got my hands on. The obvious swallowing and the fact that some sections ended abruptly was annoying, but beyond that I thought it was an amazing rendition. In fact, despite having the next book in paperback already, I think I’ll get the audio instead.

Review of Stone Cold Bastards by, Jake Bible

I received an audible copy of Jake Bible‘s Stone Cold Bastards for review.

Description from Goodreads:
Only a rag-tag team of gargoyles stands between humanity and extinction.

Hell has released its ravening horde of demons, leaving most of humanity a puke-spewing, head-spinning mess of possession.

Humanity’s last hope? A team of misfit gargoyles—including a cigar chomping, hard-ass grotesque—come alive and ready for battle during the End of Days. They guard the last cathedral-turned-sanctuary atop a bald knoll in the North Carolina mountains.

Gargoyle protection grudgingly extends to any human who can make it inside the Sanctuary, but the power of the stonecutter blood magic, which protects the sanctuary, may not be enough when a rogue grotesque and his badly-wounded ward arrive.

All the hounds of hell are on their heels. The last Sanctuary is about to fall.

I rather enjoyed this. I had a few complaints, namely that the human bodies in this book appeared to have a consistency somewhere between a ripe tomato and play-doe. I don’t generally have a problem with gore in a novel, but there was a lot in this book. And where it didn’t bother me on its own, the fact that grotesques (gargoyles…notably not gargoyles, but gargoyles for the linguistically challenged) seemed able to produce it in a manner that seemed to disregard physics and tensile, bodily durability grated on my nerves. I got seriously sick of heads getting ripped off, spines yanked out, skulls popped, etc. Not because of the gore factor, but because it was too clean, easy and pervasive.

Secondly, I didn’t think humans were represented well or realistically. They were all either weak to their flesh and causing devastation or cowering in a corner. They were almost all essentially characterless. Given the circumstance, I would expect a little more human resilience.

Beyond those complaints, I loved grumpy Morty and the rest of the sanctuary crew. I liked the idea of the demon apocalypse and the ending.

All in all, not a book that is going to make the favorites list, but not one I regret listening to either.