Category Archives: Book Review

Audiobook Review: The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You KnowScribd has been handy for discovering new books, and finding The Devil You Know by Mike Carey was a real winner.

I’m pretty sure I discovered it by doing a search for Michael Kramer, one of my favorite narrators, and he’s an excellent reader for this book. As an added bonus, since the main character, Felix Castor is British, you get to hear Kramer do lots of fun accents. He’s not at all bad for an American, although I did hear a few small goofs, mostly words not quite pronounced the way a Brit would, but nothing that detracted from my enjoyment.

The premise of the book is that ghosts are real, and, in the last few years, have become more active, to the point that people have mostly accepted their existence. Not everyone can see them, but enough have that national governments have even debated updating laws to acknowledge the rights of the deceased.

Felix Castor is an exorcist, and he made a pretty good living at it until two years earlier when he had an experience which made him question his vocation. A local museum has been having ghost troubles, and he gets sucked into helping them.

What starts out as a simple exorcism turns into something more complicated when he receives the message that pursuing it will lead to his death.

I loved the premise that ghosts, zombies and certain other creatures exist. I won’t spoil the nature of loup-garous, but suffice it to say that it was cooly awful and I didn’t see it coming. The very end was also more than a bit of a shocker, though as a good twist ending should be, completely obvious in hindsight.

The story dragged a tiny bit, and I think Carey could have tightened it up by a few thousand words without harming the plot, but it wasn’t enough to make me lose interest. Kramer is an excellent narrator, and he brought all the characters to life for me. I’ve already started listening to the second book in the series. I plan to finish all of them (five as of now), assuming the quality stays at least as good as the first one.

Audiobook Review: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

8643407When I wrote my post on books like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, I said I would be reviewing one of the books, Hard Magic by Larry Correia. As with my previous book review, this is both a review of the book and the audio version.

Hard Magic is the first book in the Grimnoir Chronicles, and it’s a fun urban fantasy set in the time of Prohibition. Although it follows most of the urban fantast tropes, the time frame made it feel original, and Correia’s magic system feels unique. It has a few similarities to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn magic series, so if you enjoy those books, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

In the world of the Grimnoir, certain people have a magical ability focused in one area: manipulation of fire, affecting gravity, strengthening the body or teleportation, to name a few. Some people have just a minor ability-one character can produce a flame roughly equivalent to a cigarette lighter, while others, known as Actives, have more control or mastery of their powers.

The main character, Jake Sullivan, is an ex-con private eye who was released from prison on the condition that he perform a few jobs for the FBI. This story begins with what Jake thinks is the last of his required jobs. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go quite as he expected. Throughout the book, he discovers there is more to magic than he had thought and that there is an epic battle going on between the forces of good and those of evil. While that sounds cliched, trust me, it works.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as did my husband, who listened to it on a two-day drive to and from North Carolina on business. He was so grateful for the book that he made me brownies, which I think says something about how much he enjoyed it and how much easier it made the long drive. 🙂

Bronson Pinchot, the reader, made this book. His voices were superb. I found his voice for Jake to be distracting for a few minutes, but as I learned more about the character’s personality, I realized the voice was a perfect fit.  His voice for Faye, one of the other important characters, fixed her personality firmly in my mind, and it was a joy to listen to her scenes. While she was a great character, I don’t think I would have enjoyed her as much if I had read instead of listened to the book.

Faye, however, is my one criticism. While I loved the book and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the series, I did think that Faye ended up having too large a role. The book was supposed to be about Jake, and he was important, but some of the major plot points were resolved by Faye, and I felt like she was a character who kind of took over the story. Fortunately, she’s a fantastic character, and I can mostly forgive Correia for letting her get away with so much of the plot.

Definitely a solid 4 stars. It might even be worth 4 1/2.


Looking for books like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files? Here’s some.

Harry Dresdenbooks like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files was my introduction to the urban fantasy genre, and his books are still my favorites. However, Jim Butcher is only one guy, and unfortunately, he can only write so fast. Last I checked, we are still waiting for a release date for the next book. So, if you are also a fan, you may sometimes go hunting for books like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I’ve done that search, and here are my recommendations.

Although it’s more steampunk than urban fantasy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Butcher’s new series, The Cinder Spires. The first book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass is available now, and I highly recommend it. I really hope someone picks it up for a movie.

Hounded_coverThe Iron Druid series (first book is Hounded) by Kevin Hearne is pretty darned close to the feel of the Dresden Files. Atticus is a sarcastic bastard, kind of like Harry, and the books have a similar feel. Hearne has a neat magic system that holds together well, and you’ll either love or hate Oberon the talking Wolfhound.

11737387Next up has to be the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka. Verus is a diviner, and while Jacka does stretch my suspension of disbelief sometimes, the way he uses precognition is original and fantastic. Verus feels lots like Dresden without being an outright copycat. I picked up Fated, the first book in the series because of the Jim Butcher blurb on the cover. I’m a couple of books behind in this series, but I’ll be catching up soon.

Lots of people add Simon Green’s Nightside series to the list. Although I liked the premise (P.I. investigating hidden supernatural world in London), I couldn’t warm up to Green’s writing. Doesn’t mean you won’t like it, though.

8643407I new series I just discovered is The Grimnoir Chronicles. I listened to the audio version of the first book, Hard Magic, and I’ll be reviewing it in the next few weeks. It’s urban fantasy set in the era of Prohibition, and I loved it. I highly recommend listening to it. Bronson Pinchot is so good as a narrator.

I’ll close with Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson and its two sequels, Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning. It’s not modern-day urban fantasy, but it’s steampunk meets the Wild West meets fantasy magic, and it’s one of my favorite series ever. It has an urban fantasy feel to it, even though it’s not set in modern day Earth. I’m a bit behind and haven’t read the third book yet, but it’s on my to be read list.

10803121Well, I said I’d close with Alloy of Law, but okay, not quite. Jim Butcher was an inspiration for my series, and I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t recommend my own stuff too.

What’s your favorite urban fantasy series? I’m always looking for new great books to read. Please leave some recommendations in the comments.

Audiobook Review: My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart

24693755A few months ago, I reviewed Give Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell by Martin Rose, and I mentioned the sequel was coming out soon. I was fortunate to receive a review copy of the audiobook version of My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart, and I’m excited to be writing my first audiobook review.

Because the reader makes the book, I’ll start with him. Christian Rummel was the perfect reader for this book. He had a scratchy, world-weary, sarcastic tone which matched my mental image of Vitus’ voice. Since the book is written in first person, having the right reader was critical, and Rummel nailed it. He was great with all the other characters, but his Vitus just shone. I just checked him on Audible, and it looks like Brandon Sanderson uses him for his self-published works, which is a testament to his ability as a reader. I also see that he reads the various Lost Fleet books, which I have been meaning to catch up on. Lucky me. I have two free Audible credits coming in the next couple of months.

Enough about the reader. What about the book? It’s an odd one. When we last saw Vitus, he had recovered from being a zombie, so I wasn’t certain what to expect in this book. Turns out recovery has a price. He’s in a new body, but he’s in jail for murdering his brother. Some sketchy government types who have some connection to Vitus’ father offer to get him released in exchange for some investigative work.

The book went in several different directions and tossed out lots of twists, red herrings, action sequences and some not inconsiderable body horror. You have been warned.

I have two complaints with the writing. First, we spend way too much time in Vitus’ head. I get that the guy has had a rough life. I do. However, I would have enjoyed the book more if he had done more and whined less. Second, he was stupidly blind to the motivations of one of the characters. To reveal which one would be a spoiler, although I’m pretty confident readers will know which one I meant.

Of course, he was on drugs through most of the book, so maybe I should cut him a big of slack.

The afore-mentioned drug, atroxipine, which was how Vitus controlled his zombie instincts in the previous book, plays a surprising role in this one. Honestly, I can say I didn’t see where Rose was going with the drug until I got there.

The plot behind the plot was entertaining and intriguing and, without spoiling anything, took me back to one of my favorite movies from the 80s. (Email me, and I’ll let you know which one, if you’re curious. Revealing it here really would spoil the entire book.)

Rose has created an interesting cast of characters, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them in future books, at least, the ones who survived this one. Vitus is a worthy character, although I’d still like to see him do more and whine less. I think if I had read the book, I’d give it 3 1/2 stars like I gave the previous one. However, considering how good Rummell was as a reader, I’m adding another 1/2 star to my rating. It’s worth a listen just to hear his narration.


Review: Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell by Martin Rose

Cover of Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring HellGoodness, Vitus has issues! That was the refrain running through my mind as I read Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell by Martin Rose.

Vitus Adamson is a zombie, but not your usual zombie. He was created as part of a government experiment gone bad, and unlike your usual zombie book, this one isn’t about an apocolypse (or not exactly about one). He’s a unique creature for most of the book. He’s not brainless. Far from it; he’s a private investigator, which makes the book an intriguing mash-up of horror and noir.

The plot starts when two clients show up, looking for their son, but the picture they hand Vitus is of the son he thought he lost when he became a zombie. As the book progresses, we learn more about Vitus, his family and how he became a zombie.

The horror in the book is more of the body horror type than the scare-you-into-keeping-the-lights-on type. I can’t say I was ever spooked by the events of the book, but I will say that reading it while eating is not the best idea.

Vitus was an intriguing character. Bring Me Flesh isn’t my usual reading fare, but I met Rose at a writer’s convention, and I bought the book to support a fellow writer. That said, I was never bored and did not think about quitting. It held my attention all the way through, even though the writing was awkward at points. I did occasionally need to go back and re-read passages to make sure I understood what was being said.

There were some good twists and turns. Without spoiling anything, I will say I had one classic “never saw that coming!” moment. 🙂 The blend of horror and noir was handled well and makes this more than just “another zombie book.”

The sequel, My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart, was released earlier this month, and I intend to purchase it as soon as I get my TBR list a bit more under control. Considering how Bring Me Flesh ended, I’m curious to see where Rose is going to take Vitus’ story. I kind of  hope he gives the guy a break, but somehow I doubt it.