Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Transcendence - Part 2 of 3" Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore

"Transcendence - Part 2 of 3"
Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R.A. Salvatore
Mult-cast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours

I'm rolling through "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore and I keep thinking, I should slow down, after all, the series only has 7 books and this latest one is book 6 and I'm two-thirds of the way through it. But as much as I would love to let these drag out and savor each one, the story is just too exciting to stop. I'm already opening part 3 and will start listening to it after this review.

The saga is one of the best pieces of fantasy fiction I've read/heard since "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. (Interesting that the good fantasy writers use initials instead of first names.) What makes this saga so good is that in the writing Salvatore is consistent with the characters and includes all the favorites through the entire saga. Some heroes die but they are not forgotten. The heroes that do live on while staying consistent with their central character, Salvatore knows how to write in the room for growth.

Even more exciting about this series is that I'm listening to the audiobooks produced by GraphicAudio. GraphicAudio turns these books into great auditory theatrical events. They achieve the "Movie in your Mind" reality by using excellent voice actors, superb sound effects and incidental music that pushes the excitement to even higher levels. Many times during great battles in the saga I found myself getting closer and closer to the edge of my seat and only able to relax once the music fades out. The special effects are achieved through some great sound effects, when the elves let an arrow fly you hear every detail from the moment the arrow is notched, through its flight and the sound of the arrow hitting the target, whether it is into flesh or stone. It's really amazing the effects that are achieved by GraphicAudio.

This installment continues with the adventures of Touel'alfar trained ranger, Brynn Dharielle. Brynn was trained by the elves to become a hero of her people the To-Gai who are being enslaved by the Behrenese. Brynn is trained and sent to Behren with the aid of her main trainer, Belli'mar Juraviel, elven trainer of the ranger, Elbryan (Nightbird) Wyndon. Along the way Juraviel & Brynn come across the Doc'alfar, the dark elves of legend. The elves send one of their own to accompany them under the mountains into Brynn's land. The party of 3 come across the lair of a dragon and are separated. Brynn escapes and goes on to her land to find a small revolution led by a prideful warrior. This warrior falls to his pride.

During the campaigns Brynn meets up with a Jhesta Tu mystic by the name of Pagonel. Pagonel rescues Brynn from death by the Behrenese army. Pagonel is one of the few mystics that has achieved the highest state of enlightenment. The mystics are able to perform magicks without the use of the magical gemstones like the Abellican Monks. Pagonel falls in love with Brynn and she with him. Pagonel begins teaching her the enlightenment of the Jhesta Tu.

In the meantime Juraviel and the female Doc'alfar also begin to fall in love while being held by captive by Agradeleas, the dragon. Agradeleas soon learns that Juraviel is duty and honor bound to escape and find Brynn. Agradeleas decides to accompany the 2 elves to find Brynn.

The Behrenese soldiers seek out Pagonel because he murdered one of their higher ranked soldiers. This brings war to the Jhesta Tu. The Jhesta Tu are at first winning the battle but more soldiers arrive, surrounding the mystics.

I will leave you hanging there until the next installment, enjoy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your chance to win "Buffalo Unbound" by Laura Pedersen

Laura Pederson is releasing another book and this time she and I are giving you a chance to win a copy. All you have to do is comment on this blog and you'll be entered to win. Make sure you include an email address so I can contact you if you win. The winner will receive a copy of "Buffalo Unbound" and Pedersen's previous book "Buffalo Gal"

I'll be drawing the random winner Friday October, 22 so enter now. Only one entry per e-mail address.

BUFFALO UNBOUND: A Celebration by Laura Pedersen.

When Forbes magazine recently ranked Buffalo, New York, eighth on a list of America's 10 Most Miserable Cities, former New York Times columnist Laura Pedersen set out to celebrate the people and places that make Buffalo the Most Exciting City. In BUFFALO UNBOUND, a follow-up to her award-winning memoir BUFFALO GAL, Pedersen captures the current renaissance in a humorous conversational style that would make former Nickel City newspaperman Mark Twain proud.

Writing about the economic collapse and social unrest of her 1970s childhood in Buffalo, New York, Laura Pedersen was struck by how things were finally improving in her beloved hometown. As 2008 began, Buffalo was poised to become the thriving metropolis it had been a hundred years earlier—only instead of grain and steel, the booming industries now included health care and banking, education and technology. Folks who'd moved away due to lack of opportunity in the 1980s talked excitedly about returning home. They missed the small-town friendliness, and it wasn't nostalgia for a past that no longer existed—Buffalo has long held the well-deserved nickname the City of Good Neighbors. The diaspora has ended. Preservationists are winning out over demolition crews. The lights are back on in a city that's usually associated with blizzards and blight rather than its treasure trove of art, architecture and culture.

"Buffalo Gal"
Growing up in the snowblower society of Buffalo, New York, Laura Pedersen s first words were most likely turn the wheel into a skid. Like many families subsisting in the frigid North during the energy crisis, the Pedersens feared rising prices at the gas pump, argued about the thermostat, fought over the dog to stay warm at night, and often slept in their clothes. While her parents were preoccupied with surviving separation and stagflation, daughter Laura became the neighborhood wild child, skipping school, playing poker, betting on the horses, and trading stocks. Learning how to beat the odds, by high school graduation Pedersen was well prepared to seek her fortune on Wall Street, becoming the youngest person to have a seat on the American Stock Exchange and a millionaire by age 21. Combining laugh-out-loud humor with a slice of social history her hometown was a flash point for race riots, antiwar protests, and abortion rallies, not to mention bingo, bowling, and Friday night fish fries Pedersen paints a vivid portrait of an era.

Read Laura’s account of the rise, fall and rebirth of the Rust Belt city.
More information about Laura Pedersen and her books can be found online at:

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll,

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
by Lewis Carroll,
read by Michael York
Produced by Blackstone Audio, 2005
Approx 3 hours

Every once in a while you just have to read a classic. In my adult life, I've gone back and read, "Moby Dick," "Catcher in the Rye," "A Brave New World," and a few others and each time I find something new I didn't catch before or enjoyed something new that I knew was there but didn't have the life experience to fully appreciate. This time around I got the opportunity to listen to the audiobook of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." I had re-read this to my son a few years ago and we had a blast with all the absurdities and adventures. This time I could have the book read to me, and what a treat it was.

One of the nice things about this version was that it is read by Michael York. I've listened to audiobooks by Michael York before and am considering myself a fan of his voicework. His British accent is nice for this Yank to hear and he has the vocal range and talent to create some great character studies. This book is filled with some very interesting and strange creatures/characters and York does a superb job of making each character not only stand out but the voice fits what the character should sound like. York makes the White Rabbit not only sound in a hurry but through his voicework makes the rabbit come to life. All the characters come to life with the expertise of Michael York.

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" has been analyzed through and through over the years but in my humble opinion it's just one of those books that should be enjoyed. During the 60s the book got a revisit due to the possible drug use mentioned, even Jefferson Airplane based a song on the book, "White Rabbit." Sure there may be some psychedelia to the book, but I feel that's just due to the book's absurdities.

One of the best sections I found this time around is Chapter 3 "A Caucus Race and a Long Tale." The play on words in this section definitely made me chuckle as did the chapter featuring the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle. In reading the book to my son, we had a version with the original drawings, we got the entertainment from the pictures as I read. This time around I had no pictures by Michael York made up for that by delivering the descriptions and absurdities with ease.

I'm not sure what classic I'll be visiting next, but I can tell you, it'll be hard to capture the fun I just heard in this presentation.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Transcendence Part 1 of 3" Book 6 of "The Demon Wars" Saga by R. A. Salvatore

"Transcendence Part 1 of 3"
Book 6 of "The Demon Wars" Saga
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours.

Here I go starting on book six of the seven volumes that make up "The Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore. This book is called "Transcendence," and tells the story of the second Ranger trained at the same time as Adryan Wyndon, who became King of Honce the Bear in the last book. Brynn Dharielle, was rescued by the elves of Touel'alfar after her parents were murdered by the Behrenese. The Behrenese have been enslaving Brynn's race, the To-Gai, and her purpose as a Ranger is to free her people and start a revolution.

This book begins as Brynn and Belli'mar Juraviel, elven trainer of the rangers, begin their journey south from Andur'Blough Inninness, the elves' home, to the lands of Behren. Along the way they must cross the mountains called The Belt and Buckle. Traveling through the mountains Belli'mar and Brynn are attacked by zombies. The zombies are found to be under the control of the legendary Doc'alfar, the Dark elves. The Doc'alfar are amazed to see Belli'mar, or any member of the Touel'alfar, the split between the two occurred hundreds of years in the past and the each elven branch believed the other perished. Belli'mar convinces the king of the Doc'alfar that Brynn is not a typical human and that they both should be allowed to live.

The Doc'elfar know of a secret passage under the mountains and send a guide with Belli'mar and Brynn. The passage is not safe as is found to be true by the scattering of bones, abandoned villages of powries (dwarves) and a Dragon. This is when the this book really gets exciting as Belli'mar, Brynn and their Doc'elfar guide must battle for their lives as the dragon attacks. Brynn finds the remains of the last To-Gai ranger trained by the elves, and realizes she will be the first to survive, if she can survive. Taking the sword of the dead ranger and a few shield like armaments Brynn does manage to survive and arrives in a To-Gai village run by the Behrenese. As for the elves, it is not known.

GraphicAudio delivers this story with the excellent production they use in all their releases. The acting is simply the best. The voice actors not only portray the different characters but implement various accents and vocal qualities that allow the listener to listen to this "Movie in Your Mind." The sound effects and incidental music create the perfect auditory cinematic experience, creating the best experience you may ever have in audio books.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"All Frontiers are Jealous" by L. Ron Hubbard

"All Frontiers are Jealous"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast Performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

If you are and adventuring sort then you need to check out the adventure stories from L. Ron Hubbard. These stories are all being re-released by Galaxy Press and in audio book form by Galaxy Audio. Each story contains some excitement, thrills and chills while telling a bit about a time in world history when we were a bit naive about goings on in the rest of the world.

If you choose to go the audio book route (which I highly recommend) you will get even more of an adventure thanks to the superb talent at Galaxy Audio. Highlighting the mystery and suspense of Hubbard's stories, Galaxy Audio has a great cast of voice talent to bring the characters to life. Along with the talented cast there are great sound effects and original incidental music that keeps the story flowing with cinematic ease.

This book, "All Frontiers are Jealous," which was originally published back in June of 1937, sweeps the listener away to a time when the Dark Continent, Africa, was just starting to get railroads to connect the major cities. An American engineer, Dan Courtney, surveying the route of Sudan railway in Africa, saves a girl from the fierce tribe of Dinkas. In the process he kills a man and upon searching the man's body finds a badge marking him as a "Diamond Cop," part of an international police force to fight the lucrative diamond smuggling business. Knowing he's in trouble deep he proceeds to try to rescue the woman's companion. Courtney, sneaks into the village of the Dinkas and in order to escape with his life takes on the tribal chief in a face-to-face encounter.

As is typical with all of L. Ron Hubbard's stories from the Golden Age, there are some twists and turns that he explores that keeps you wondering what will happen next and not until the very end does the full story come to light.

As a reader/listener in the 21st century, going back to these early 20th Century writings seem at first odd. Some of the the writings may seem stereotypes of the people, and some unfairly so, but given the time, they make complete sense. Hubbard didn't write anything to offend anyone and none of it is offensive, it just makes you realize the differences that can exist within a 70 year time frame.

Keeping honest with the times and writing style all the books in the Stories from the Golden Age series allow the reader/listener to escape and enjoy some simple adventures. Perfect for the person who likes to have fun while reading or listening to a good book, and fun you will have.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Dead in the Family" Book 10 of the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

"Dead in the Family"
Book 10 of the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries
by Charlaine Harris
Read by Johanna Parker
Produced by Recorded books
Approx 9.5 hours

In each of the books in the Southern Vampire Mysteries the title of the book will tell you what to expect in the story. This time around "Dead in the Family" hits the nail on the head. It seems as though every character major and minor ever mention in the series has a family problem in this one.

To sum up what has happened so fair; The Fairy war is over, Sookie's great-grandfather Niall (a powerful fairy) has closed most of the portals between the Fairy world and the human world. Sookie's cousin Claude (a fairy) chose to remain with the humans. The two natured (were-wolves, shape-shifters, et. al.) have revealed themselves to the world and it's not quite as positive a response as when the vampires did it. The government is trying to get the two-natured to register, even though they have been citizens and veterans all these years. Louisiana's Vampire territory has been taken over by the "King" of Nevada and Eric Northman Sheriff of area five of Louisiana, and Sookie's boyfriend is the last remaining member of the former Queen's "court."

With all this happening the future is pretty much unsure, the Shreveport, La. werewolf pack is under pressure from the government to get registered, and the government is just looking for a reason to lock up all two natureds. Alcide Herveaux, leader of the pack asks Sookie's permission to have the monthly pack run on her land since his is being watched. When the run is over Sookie is told that there have been fairies running around her land recently and a dead body. One of the fairies can be explained in that Sookie's cousin and full fairy, Claude has moved in with Sookie because he needs to be near someone like him, even if she's only 1/8th fairy. The dead body is that of Debbie Pelt, Alcide's former girlfriend, whom Sookie killed. The other fairy scent, needs to be explained.

Eric & Sookie's relationship seems to be building, at least until Eric's maker shows up with his latest progeny, Alexei Romanov, only son of the last Czar of Russia, who as an adolescent witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution, including the slaughter of his entire family. Alexei seems to be bordering on the brink of insanity (who could blame him?). Eric returns to Shreveport, but not before sending a tracker to find out who the other fairy may be.

This tracker discovers another body. This second body is new and has been buried on Sookie's land to frame her for murder. Who is this other body? Who killed them? Why is Sookie being Framed? All these questions get answered and but they don't solve anything. This just creates more turmoil in Sookie Stackhouse's life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Ascendance - Part 2 of 2" Book 5 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore

"Ascendance - Part 2 of 2"
Book 5 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
approx 6 hours.

R.A. Salvatore's epic tale of the Land of Corona just keeps getting more and more exciting, and GraphicAudio's productions keep these books exciting with the superb audiobook productions. "Ascendance" is book five of the series and tells the tale of Aydrian Wyndon, the lost son of Elbryan the Ranger and Jilseponie the warrior. When Jilseponie was battling with the demon possessed Father Abbot Dalebert Markwart, the supreme leader of the Abellican Church, she thought through his magic Markwart killed her unborn son. The truth is that Lady Dasselrond, leader of the Touel'alfar, the elves, rescued the baby from Jilseponie's womb, and raised him as a Ranger among the elves.

In Part one of this book Aydrian escaped the land of the elves and set out to make a name for himself. As fate would have it Aydrian crosses paths with Marcalo De'Unnero, the former Bishop of Palmaris, who has been possessed by the were-tiger spirit, and is the man that murdered Aydrian's father. De'Unnero begins plotting against Jilseponie, who is now Queen of Honce-the-Bear, in the land of Corona. De'Unnero's plan is to put Aydrian on the throne, topple the church and put himself back in power. Aydrian, powerful with the magic gemstones used by the church and an equally powerful Ranger, goes along with these plans and even develops a few of his own.

To further the cause, De'Unnero places himself among the nobles in the kingdom and running the long con gets the Duke Callis to hold a series of contests as a show for the King's 50th birthday. Bringing to mind scenes from the classic tale of Robin Hood and the movie "A Knight's Tale," nobles and peasants alike compete in melee battles, jousts and sword fights to prove who is worthy of the King's Pennant. Aydrian defeats the strongest man in the Kingdom Duke Callis by killing him on the field. But before he does this the Duke says he battles for the King and in a show of rebellion Aydrian says he battles not for the king but for Queen Jilseponie.

Salvatore has a great skill of weaving this tale that includes many subplots that come together to produce a extremely exciting climax to the story. GraphicAudio combines their cast of talented actors with realistic sound effects (especially during the jousts and sword fights) and music that seems to build to a climax along with the story to the very end. I found myself on the edge of my seat while listening to all the battles and then at the end I felt as though I were going through those battles and was experiencing an adrenaline high from the excitement fueled by GraphicAudio's superb production.

Super exciting fantasy novel, not sure how Salvatore and GraphicAudio can top this, but the next book, "Transcendance," is sitting by my side as I write this ready to continue the adventure.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

"Ascendance - Part 1 of 2" book 5 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore

"Ascendance - Part 1 of 2"
book 5 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
approx 7 hours

Being a big fan of science-fiction, fantasy and supernatural stories, I jumped at the chance to begin reading the "Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore. I first looked at this series and saw there were seven books in the series and knew it would be a fun adventure. I then found out they were available as audiobooks from GraphicAudio and knew that was a convenient way to get into the saga. When GraphicAudio first produced these I was so enthralled by the story that they couldn't release them fast enough. I then thought well, just go read the books. That didn't work because GraphicAudio had me addicted to their superb production quality and presentation that I just HAD to hear these masterpieces of audiobook production.

You see, GraphicAudio has a slogan, "A Movie in Your Mind," and they take it pretty seriously. It shows from the first words spoken in these audiobooks. The full cinematic feel of these stories is pushed along with superb voice acting and sound effects that come exploding out of whatever sound-system you hear these productions on. They really know how to suck you into the story. The storytelling prowess of R. A. Salvatore is enhanced a thousandfold through GraphicAudio's production quality. The nice thing is that GraphicAudio separates the books into 2 or 3 parts keeping each edition to about 6 or 7 hours in length. This is nice in that the books can be absorbed in chunks and then give you time to recover from the experience before continuing.

So let's talk about this book. This is book 5 of the 7 book saga that is "The Demon Wars," years have passed since the "Miracle of Avelyn" occurred on Mount Aida healing the country of the Rosie Plague. The Abellican Church is well on its way to canonizing Avelyn, even though he was once called a heretic.

Jilseponie after losing her husband, the Ranger, Elbryan (Nightbird) Wyndon, has settled in to becoming Baroness of Palmaris and serving the people. The Abellican church, who realize that with her talent of magic using the holy gemstones would better serve the Church and the folk of Palmaris by becoming a Bishop of Palmaris. The Bishop being a representative of both secular and church interests. At this same time King Danube Brock Ursal, king of Honce-the-bear wishes for her to become his wife and Queen. The King is actually in love with Jilseponie, but the church seems to have a hidden agenda.

The elves of Touel'alfar took Jilseponie's unborn son (also son of Elbryan) and raised him to become a ranger even greater than his father and to, hopefully, be the salvation of the elves. The plans of the Touel'alfar go awry due to Aydrian's own arrogance, cultivated by a dark force he encounters at Oracle.

The focus of this book is on the development of Adryan and what could possibly be a dark future for all the residents of the land of Corona, elves and humans alike, and GraphicAudio delivers this story with a punch.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Hurtling Wings" by L. Ron Hubbard

"Hurtling Wings"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast Performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

I've got to tell you, these audio book releases from Galaxy audio are just plain fun. During the mid-20th century L. Ron Hubbard eked out a living by writing stories for the many pulp fiction magazines that were in heavy circulation at the time. He wrote the stories in various genres so he could cover a wide range of the publications and even used aliases/pen names for some of the stories. Some of the genres he wrote in are; Science-Fiction, Westerns, Mystery, Fantasy, and Adventure (the adventure could be further broken down to sea, air and orient adventures.) Galaxy Press began re-releasing these stories and packaging them down to books that cover the various genres. Galaxy Audio in turning these into audio books has gone a huge step further by creating some very entertaining audio drama with each book.

Each book contains one or more stories, and with the audio books these come out to about 2 hours of pure audio pleasure. Using a cast of very talented vocal actors, these stories come to life in full audio glory. The actors not only perform the characters they create the mood and express the action they make you HAVE to listen to the stories. The sound effects are not simply thrown in when the story asks for it but instead layered into the full production so that they fit perfectly in to make the full experience completely engulf the listener.

So with all that in mind I try out another genre in the Hubbard/Galaxy inventory and gave "Hurtling Wings" an air adventure a listen. Soon I was caught up in the action and enjoying the full theatrical spectacle that is this audio book.

Hurtling Wings was originally published in "Adventure" November,1934, and seems at first like a simple story about aircraft racing teams competing in various aerial events. But with Hubbard's stories from the Golden Age nothing is simple. Cal Bradley is a daredevil racer and test pilot and during the acrobatics section of the event loses his plane in what turns out to be sabotage. Speed Kyle's company which builds the best planes around needs a good pilot to show of his planes at this event. This National Air Meet is important because the winner of the meet could get a valuable air mail contract, which could pull Speed's company out of the possibility of financial ruin.

Cal happens to be dating Speed's daughter Georgia, and this means they could be together more, but the sabotage follows Cal as it turns that some of the other businesses competing are not very honest. During the various flying contests Cal battles sabotaged planes to keep them in the air and battles the saboteurs to keep everyone around him safe. The excitement of this story will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time and not until everyone is safe and back on the ground can you relax.

Check out this latest release from Galaxy Audio for some exciting air adventures from the Golden Age of stories.

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Strange Brew" Edited by P.N. Elrod

"Strange Brew"
Edited by P.N. Elrod
Multiple readers
produced by Audible Frontiers (2009)
approx 12 hours.

In continuing my search for more Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" stories I find another collection of short stories that have a few of my other favorite supernatural authors and I may have found a few more. This book features 9 stories all dealing with the supernatural, in particular witches, wizards and potions. There is no Professor Snape to let this lot know if they are doing it right or wrong, but for the most part they all get it right. The nice thing is that for most of the authors in this book, they have a running series and these short stories take place within the realm of that same series and for the die-hard fans, here's one more source for some quick pleasure while waiting for that next book.

Each story has their own reader thus giving this collection in audiobook form a better sound of being different stories from different authors. Now let's talk about each story one by one.

"Seeing Eye" by Patricia Briggs: Patricia Briggs returns to the world of Mercy Thompson, but follows an entirely new character – the witch (Wendy) Moira Keller. Tom Franklin, werewolf and second in the Emerald City pack, shows up on Moira’s doorstep asking for her help in finding his kidnapped brother Jon, Moira cannot refuse him, even though it could mean her death. For Moira is no ordinary witch, and she has a dark past connected to those who have taken Jon – the Samhain Coven, led by the cruel and power-hungry Kouros. Together, Moira and Tom set out on Jon’s trail, using her magic and Tom’s strength to discover Jon’s fate, and to face Samhain once and for all.

"Last Call" by Jim Butcher: Harry takes on the darkest of dark powers--the ones who dare to mess with his favorite beer. All Harry wants to do after a long hard day of wizarding and private investigating is have one of Mac's famous home brews and possibly a steak sandwich, but when Harry, walks into Macanally's, he finds the place in disarray, not the normal planned disarray but one which finds several tables turned over, customers and Mac,himself, unconscious. Harry then finds that the home brew has been tampered with and a deeper darker mystery unveils in which an ancient being wishes to take over Chicago. This story takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat.

“Death Warmed Over” by Rachel Caine: This story takes place in a world where witches moonlight in extremely specialized fields. Holly Caldwell is one such witch with a rare affinity for resurrecting the dead, working at her day job when she receives a last minute email from her other boss, Sam – a request for a “disposable,” or a long-term resurrection from the local police department. Holly has sworn off disposables ever since her first and last job – because of the pain her impossible relationship with the resurrected caused her. Now, Sam and the police want Holly to raise the same man from her past, a powerful witch named Andrew Toland who died in 1875 fighting an army of resurrected dead gone violent (or more commonly, zombies). Though it pains her to reopen a relationship that is in all ways impossible, Holly breathes life back into Andrew. Unfortunately for them both, only later do they learn that someone has been killing resurrection witches, and Holly is next on the list. This turns out to be kind of a creepy love story of sorts that has a twist in the mystery unfolding.

"Vegas Odds" by Karen Chance: The longest story in "Strange Brew" is Karen Chance’s "Vegas Odds." The story bursts with excitement from start. Half-Were Lia and her boyfriend Were Cyrus destroy her house while under attack from a group of War Mages. From there the listener is thrwon into a world full of magic and a strong instantly likeable heroine while never letting up on the non-stop action.

"Hecate’s Golden Eye" by P.N. Elrod: Yes even the editor gets into the action with a story from her Vampire Mysteries series featuring the Vampire Noir, Jack Fleming and his partner Escott from 1930's Chicago. Fleming and Escott are asked to recover a stolen heirloom--a rare yellow diamond with a curse. Any man who touches it DIES. Of course, since Jack's already dead he should be immune, right? Maybe, maybe not. Mix in some con artists and a homicidally violent mad Irishman and see what happens! Just picture the old film noir detectives, but picture one as a vampire and you have this fun tale.

"Bacon" by Charlaine Harris: A beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. This story has the funniest ending and is worth the purchase of this book alone. This story takes place in the world of Sookie Stackhouse (you know, from "True Blood" fame) featuring the vampire Dahlia. There was a previous Dahlia story in the anthology “My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding,” and Dahlia does appear in "All Together Dead."

"Signatures of the Dead" by Faith Hunter: The story is told from the perspective of Molly, a witch who is asked by the police to track down a group of killer vampires. The star of the story is actually Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker and vampire hunter, who has the job of actually finding and exterminating the vampires. This story is an introduction for the Jane Yellowrock character, who is going to be the protagonist of her own series of books.

"Ginger: A Nocturne City" by Caitlin Kittredge: This is the story of werewolf detective Luna Wilder’s witch cousin Sunny Swan. This thriller is a morality tale of sorts showing how doing the right thing can get you into more trouble then you can imagine, and that in everyone is the will to get done what needs doing. Who knew that the small task of supporting her cousin by visiting the trial she is testifying in will lead her into the dark depths of Nocturne’s City underworld?

"Dark Sins By" Jenna Maclaine: Recently turned vampire, witch Cin Craven may be the strongest witch in existence if she knew how to use her magic. This small fact allows for the imprisonment of Cin and her companions The Righteous a group of vampires that act as judge, jury, and executioner of their own kind.

So if witches are your cup of tea, check out "Strange Brew."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"13 Bullets" by David Wellington

"13 Bullets"
by David Wellington
read by Bernadette Dunne
produced by Blackstone Audio
approx 11.5 hours

If you're tired of the recent trend of vampires being used to tell stories of teen angst or of eroticism, and think it's time to get back to staking those bloodsuckers, then I have just the book for you. David Wellington not only gets back to hunting down of these undead but also throws in a bit of a twist in the story that doesn't detract from the true vampire horror fans have come to enjoy. In fact, Wellington takes us back to the Nosferatu type of vampire, bald, rows of sharp teeth, pointy ears and pale skin. Not only does Wellington bring back a terrifying look of the vampires, but his words create a terrifying story that will keep you looking into the shadows.

Bernadette Dunne does a smashup job of voicing this audiobook. She not only differentiates the characters with subtle vocal changes , but she captures the mood of every scene and presents the horror with her vocal tempo. This creates not only a great audiobook experience but also sucks (pardon the pun) you into the story so you don't want to stop listening.

In "13 Bullets" vampires are not mythical creatures but have been known about for centuries. The vampires in this world cannot simply swap blood to create other vampires, the victim must commit suicide to complete the transition into undead status. The vampires also create an army of minions by bringing back their victims and creating half-deads to do the vampires bidding. The half-deads are weak, have no skin and scare easily, but they will do the vampire's every demand.

The story begins when a Fed named Arkeley has tracked down the vampire Lares and in the process of trying to capture him, the vamp wipes out a SWAT team and nearly takes out Arkeley. Lares takes Arkely as his "hostage" to a boat where in 3 coffins are 3 other vampires, these vampires, however, are in a severly deteriorated condition. When Lares begins disgorge all the blood drained from the SWAT team onto the near skeletal remains of the vampires, Arkeley realizes Lares is trying to bring back the other 3 vamps. Arkeley destroys Lares and 2 of the remaining 3 remains. One vampire, Malvern, is taken into custody and is being studied. This is the opening action of this book, with the chase the fights and the horrific scenes the listener knows they are in for a great scare fest.

The book really takes off when a state trooper running a sobriety check point on a highway meets a half dead with a trunk full of dismembered bodies. She calls in the feds and Arkeley is the one who takes over. That night the trooper, Laura Caxton, is visited by one of the half-deads and when she tells this to Arkeley, he realizes they want more from her, but what?

Caxton and Arkely then team up to try and destroy at least 3 known vampires and "13 Bullets" will take you on a journey through some dark places and unravel a classic vampire tale.