Venators: Promises Forged (Audiobook) by Devri Walls, Daniel Thomas May: Out of the Frying Pan and into the . . . Clutches of a Life Siphoning Fae?

Promises Forged

Venators: Promises Forged

by Devri Walls, Daniel Thomas May (Narrator)
Series: Venators, #2

Unabridged Audiobook, 12 hrs., 14 min.
Tantor Audio, 2020

Read: May 22-27, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


Like the Ultimate Blog Tour for the first Venators novel, Venators: Magic Unleashed, back in March, I’m going to take what I posted last year when the novel was initially released and then add on some new thoughts, with a focus on the recently published audiobook.

So the ending of the previous book (Venators: Magic Unleashed) focused on a dragon being unleashed by the series’ (apparent) Big Bad, the sorceress Zio. Not surprisingly, the series central characters survived the encounter. This book starts with a quick recap of that survival from the point of view of Zio—which is a great way to get the reader back into the moment and build on their understanding of what happened and Zio.

We quickly return to our Earthlings, Grey and Rune and the aftermath of their unauthorized excursion to rescue humans from a werewolf pack, which culminated in the aforementioned dragon attack. Rune’s proving to be a quick study of Council politics and was able to turn things to their advantage and buy them some leniency from the Council. The ways the two humans respond to and interact with Council members is pretty interesting and I suspect will be one of the more interesting developments from this point forward in the series. I suspect the Venator abilities that make these two the warriors they are in this world are in play with Rune’s politicking—no one mentions mental acuity when talking about Venator abilities, but maybe they should. Watching Rune play the games (both successfully and less-so) that the various Council members throw her way is probably my favorite part of the character.

And she has to do a lot of politicking and game playing here because her co-Venator and friend Grey has found himself in quite the pickle. After their ordeal with the werewolves, the two Earthlings’ need for training was even more apparent. They get just a little of it (a good, promising start) before getting momentarily side-tracked. Before they get a chance to build on that, Grey is lured into the one place the two have been told they absolutely cannot go. Because forbidding people from going somewhere always works out (how many Hogwarts students stayed out of the forest? How long did Belle stay out of the West Wing? Even the Federation had to know that forbidding landing on Talos IV wouldn’t work for long).

Grey has found himself in the clutches of a powerful Fae, Feena. Feena will spend days/weeks/years sucking the life out of her prisoners to feed her own magics. Given that Grey is more powerful than your typical Eonian, you know she’ll drag it out as long as possible. It’s a torturous experience for Grey, but he does what he can to resist and fight back. On the one hand, watching him stupidly and blindly put himself in this situation was maddening. But after that, watching Grey endure what he has to and struggle in response is pretty cool. As much as I appreciate Rune’s playing politics, I enjoy watching Grey in action.

So the book boils down to this—can Rune get permission to run a rescue mission—or at the very least, find a window in which she can pull off another unauthorized mission? Can Grey survive long enough for the cavalry to arrive? Assuming they do, how can Grey be rescued and the Venators get back to their training without causing a diplomatic incident that will shake up everything?

The actions of the Venators’ guides, teachers, allies confuse me. They’ve got these two kids in a world they clearly don’t understand, with abilities they don’t understand and then expect them to react appropriately in new situations. Even worse, all of them are keeping things from Grey and Rune—telling them half-truths, deflecting legitimate questions, and delaying explanations. It’s maddening. It’s bad enough that the Council, who are clearly only using these two for their own ends do that, but the people who supposedly are looking to them to change the world? A little honesty, being a little forthcoming, helping them to avoid the minefields they keep running into rather than saying “oh, you shouldn’t have done that”—it would make it a lot easier for this reader to stomach them.

The Council? I need to see more of them. I have little patience for them as individuals or as an entity at the moment, but as individuals and as an entity there’s great potential for something interesting to happen. Feena’s a good villain—she’s not worth several books, but for one novel? She’s a good opponent. The Fae? It’s simple—any universe, any world, any author—when it comes to Fae politics, Fae dealings with other Fae, Fae dealings with non-Fae? It’s complicated, tricky, and messy. It’s good to know you can count on something.

So much is happening in a very short period of time, it’s hard to know what kind of impact the events are having on anyone—it’s been less than two weeks since these two jumped into this world, leaving St. Louis behind. It’s hard for them—or a reader—to really take it all in. We do know that already both Venators are changing because of their abilities (as well as the experiences in this new world)—both are self-aware enough to see how it’s happening (at least in part) and are both resisting and embracing the changes. Both are, naturally, deluded about how easy it will be to resist this kind of thing—denial’s not just a river on Earth.

I’m enjoying these books—I do hope that under the new publisher, they’re able to come out pretty regularly, it’ll help sustain my interest (and, I’m guessing, the reading public’s). I know that Walls has several more books planned, so it makes it okay that I’m still on the fence about the series as a whole—there’s a lot of potential to the series and these characters and she has time to help them reach their potential. There are aspects of the books (the prospective—and lingering—romantic entanglements, for example) that I’m withholding an opinion on until more happens. And I’m not sure if I should appreciate how little we’re getting with Zio and Rune’s brother, or if it should annoy me. Is Walls building suspense, or is she simply being obfuscatory? I’m hoping that after Book 3, I’ll be more settled with my expectations about these books—I know I’m enjoying them, I’m just not sure if I should wait on them getting better.

May’s narration is as strong as it was last time. He captures the emotion and characters and tone with both skill and art. He’s doing the narration for another series due to be released in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles that.

This time through, two characters really stood out to me: Ryker and Tashara (a succubus who sits on the Council). I’m not sure if Walls is setting Ryker up for a major redemptive arc or if she’s going to cause an irreparable rift between the twins (or both). I guess this ties into what I said above about him and Zio. As far as Tashara, she’s a complex character—May does a great job of depicting that—and I’m intrigued by both her and her relationship to Grey (her incubus counterpart, on the other hand, just annoys me).

One last thing. This is just a personal hangup, I’m sure, but I hate Arwin’s name. Last year, when I got to ask Walls some questions, I talked about how much it reminded me of a certain Lady of Rivendell. This year, when I listened to the books, it kept making me think of Lloyd Alexander’s Arawn Death-Lord. He’s hands-down my favorite Council member (I’m waiting for Walls to pull the rug out from under me and reveal he’s a turncoat or more Machiavellian than the rest), but his name trips me up in print or audio.

Again, I find myself rating this a tad higher in audio than in print. I’m not sure where that comes from, also not sure if it matters. Walls and May are a great combination. An interesting world, great characters (even if they frustrate me), good action—and a fast-moving plot. This YA fantasy is a crowd-pleaser, I’m sure of that—you should join the crowd.


4 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

But For The Grace (Audiobook) by Peter Grainger, Gildart Jackson: DC Smith Investigates an(other) Unexpected Killing

But For The Grace

But For The Grace

by Peter Grainger, Gildart Jackson (Narrator)
Series: A DC Smith Investigation, #2

Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 17 min
Tantor Audio, 2016

Read: April 20-21, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


When I talked about the first installment in this series last year, I said, “There’s something about this one that got under my skin more than a typical procedural does—it’s maybe DC Smith, it’s maybe Grainger’s style (there’s a lot of subtle humor in a dark text)—it’s a Gestalt thing, I think. I really dug it.” I’m tempted to leave this at that, too. But that’s giving this short shrift.

There are three main stories—the least interesting to me (at present, but it keeps coming up, so I expect that it’ll be of vital importance and interest at some point) is the “big case” that defined Smith’s career. There’s a True Crime writer who wants to revisit the case with DC’s help. There’s a couple of good moments revolving this, but I’m not (yet) seeing the appeal.

The more interesting thread centers on DC Smith’s future. Smith’s old partner, and father of the newly-minted detective Smith’s training, owns a private security firm and wants him to come aboard in a senior position. At the same time, there’s an opportunity that many are urging Smith to take in a regional criminal investigation task force. But Smith’s inclination is to stick with his current duty—but he’s tempted by both over the course of the novel.

But the focus for the book is a death in a retirement home that’s identified as suspicious. Smith and his team start investigating this pretty colorful home. The characters—staff and residents—are well-drawn, colorful and the kind of characters you want to spend time with. The case goes pretty much how you’d expect (motive, culprit, and resolution), but there are a couple of twists that keep the reader/listener on their toes. Watching Smith and his colleagues pursue the killer is the joy in this. The pleasure is in the journey, not just the destination here.

Once again, Jackson weaves a spell with his narration—he sucked me in once again. A perfect combination of narrator and text.

A solid follow-up novel, that also provides plenty of incentive to move on to the rest. This is a series you should jump into—in print or audio.

4 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

The Sword-Edged Blonde (Audiobook) by Alex Bledsoe, Stefan Rudnicki: This Hard-Boiled Fantasy Mixes the Best of Both Genres

The Sword-Edged Blonde

The Sword-Edged Blonde

by Alex Bledsoe, Stefan Rudnicki (Narrator)
Series: Eddie LaCrosse, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., 28 min.
Blackstone Audio, 2012

Read: April 22-24, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


I’ve read this novel at least twice (13 and 11 years ago), and apparently have forgotten almost all of it. In fact, what I did remember as the climactic scene must belong to the second novel in the series, Burn Me Deadly. I can do better with the rest of the series (and not just because I actually wrote something about them—but I’m looking forward to taking another look at them in the coming months.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, I should introduce you to Eddie LaCrosse and his world. It’s your basic Fantasy world—swords, rumors of sorcery, small kingdoms, and so on. Eddie’s an ex-soldier, ex-mercenary, now “sword jockey” (basically a private cop). He’s got a little more on his résumé, but you’ll learn more about that as you dive in yourself. He’s been hired by an old friend, the King of a neighboring country to clear his wife of the horrific murder of her son. She doesn’t remember him, but when he meets her, Eddie realizes that he knew the Queen long before the King did.

Eddie’s investigation takes him through multiple kingdoms, into the remains of a cult, and into a criminal network that rivals anything that Varys put together for efficacy or ruthlessness. At the same time he does this, Eddie takes a trip through his personal history, reliving the time he knew the Queen (and events leading up to that). The two storylines are interwoven to help Eddie solve what seems like a perfect crime.

Both in the narration, LaCrosse’s character and the kinds of people we meet along the way, Bledsoe channels Chandler. LaCrosse is casually violent in a way that Marlowe indulged in a bit too often for me, and the (for lack of a better word) grotesque (in physical appearance and morality) criminals Eddie deals with in the latter parts of the book felt particularly Chandler-esque to me.

There’s some things that happen at the end that point to Eddie coming to terms with parts of his past that he’s been unable/unwilling to acknowledge existed. The character won’t change as a result of this (at least not much), but I think it opens the door for some of his rougher edges to be rounded out. How well that actually happens, I’ll have to see (I don’t trust my memory enough right now)—but at the very least, Bledsoe made it possible for the character to grow and evolve here.

Rudnicki’s narration didn’t really work for me initially—there was a quality to his voice that just didn’t click with me. But, I kept going because I liked the novel. Before the halfway mark, however, he’d won me over. I can’t put my finger on it (either good or bad), but he sold the emotional moments, the humor, and Eddie’s general attitude. Which is good enough for me.

It’s hard for me to rate this one on its own terms—I remember liking it. I remember what Bledsoe does with the characters. And those things color my rating, leading me to probably giving this another half-to-whole star more than I would otherwise. But also, for the world. The merging of Fantasy and Hard-boiled genres in a way that’s seamless and well-executed. I recommend this one and will be back for more soon.

Bookstooge posted about this book yesterday. It’s probably worth a read (I’ll read it later today, I didn’t want his voice in my head as I wrote this).


4 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Audiobook Catch-Up Quick Takes on Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator); Heartless by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator); Demon Born Magic by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator); Stardust by Neil Gaiman; Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Eileen Stevens (Narrator); Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary; Paradise Valley by C.J. Box, Christina Delaine (Narrator)

The point of these quick takes post to catch up on my “To Write About” stack—emphasizing pithiness, not thoroughness. This is a little longer than most of these that I do, I just wanted to get caught up on my Library Book Audiobooks (I’m so thankful that I can get audio downloads from my library right now—I’d be lost without them!)

Caliban's War

Caliban’s War

by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator)
Series: The Expanse, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 21 hrs.
Hachette Audio, 2017
Read: April 6-14, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
90% of the reason I’m doing this in a Quick Take post is because if I don’t cover it in a paragraph or two, I’ll take 15 pages (or the equivalent). I’m kicking myself so hard for not jumping on each installment of this series as soon as it was published (although, if I did, I would be missing out on the audiobooks). I read the first book shortly after publication, but missed the release of this bookso before I realized it I was two novels and over a thousand pages behind, and I just couldn’t find the time to catch up.

Anyway, this might not have been the right time to listen to a novel about an unexpected, largely unknown, biological enemy of all humanity and the inexplicable reactions of several governments to itthrough the eyes of people living in fairly enclosed spaces. Still, it’s gripping, imaginative, wonderfully told and very compelling. I can’t wait to see what’s next (although, I’m pretty apprehensive of it, too). I loved the new characters and hope they stick around.
4 Stars

Heartless

Heartless

by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator)
Series: The Parasol Protectorate, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hrs,, 19 mins
Hachette Audio, 2011
Read: April 1-3, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
I think I’m about over this series, but maybe it was just this novel. Alexia seemed to run around oblivious to what was going on for almost the entire booksure, it’s kind of explained by the effect “the infant inconvenience” is having on her mind, but I don’t totally buy that. (maybe that’s my maleness talking). The first couple of chapters and the little bit at the end with the newborn were the highlights for methe climactic battle sequence was fun, I just didn’t like how we got there. Still, it was a fun listen and I enjoy the characters. I hope the series finale is better.

That said, Emily Gray is a delight. I seriously cannot listen to her enough.
3 Stars

Demon Born Magics

Demon Born Magic

by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator)
Series: Ella Grey, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., and 52 mins.
Tantor Audio, 2017
Read: April 24-27, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
Ella now knows where her brother is, but she’s been cut off from her power, so she can’t move on it. Due to her lack of power (and some other stuffincluding a total and inexplicable lack of due process), she loses her job. She and Damien start a private consulting business, make a Faustian deal and will deal with the consequences over most of this book and the next. Along the way, Ella learns why her brother is off the grid.

The luster has really worn off this series for me. I think it’s possible that Faith will stick the landing and I’ll be happy with the set as a whole, but I think she’s squandered a good start. If there was more than one book left, I’m not sure I’d bother.
3 Stars

Stardust

Stardust

by Neil Gaiman
Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs., 23 mins
HarperAudio, 2006
Read: April 28-29, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
I remember being disappointed when I read the book a few years ago, because the movie version (that I love) was such a lousy adaptation. The text eventually won me over, but it took a long time. This is backward, I realize, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, I came into this audiobook with low expectations, but I wasn’t in the mood to spend money on an audiobook and everything I wanted from the library was checked out. Listening to Gaiman’s always fun, so I gave this a whirl. Between Gaiman, low expectations, knowing it’s not the movie, and a story that’s really good when you give it a chance, I had a great time.

It’s a fairy tale that isn’t. Gaiman draws on every convention, every trope and uses them the way a child uses a play-doh set.
4 Stars

Dumplin’

by Julie Murphy, Eileen Stevens (Narrator)
Series: Dumplin’, #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 45 mins.
HarperAudio, 2015
Read: April 29-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
This was just cute. Another “don’t make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available” listen. A YA story about a fat girl (her words, not mine) who joins her small-town beauty pagent, and the scandal that ensues. It’s almost entirely predictable, but Murphy’s style makes it feel fresh, and you just don’t care about the predictability. Steven’s narration is spot-on, too. I had a lot of fun with this.
3 Stars

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic

Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum

by Michael McCreary
Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., 37 mins
Annick Press, 2019
Read: March 31, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
McCreary was five when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but it had challenged him and his parents far before then. In this short memoir, he talks about growing up with ASD and finding his place in performing and comedy. This wasn’t as funny as you might hope from a comedian’s memoir, but given that the focus of it was on the way he got through life and learning his craft while learning how to live in a neurotypical world, it’d be hard to be funny. Still, there was a light-heartedness to the entire book that made it pretty appealing.

I had plenty of fun listening to this, and gained some insight (much needed, I expect) into ASD. I think the hard copy might be a bit better because there are charts, graphs, etc. he mentions throughout (yes, there are pdf versions available on the publisher’s site, but who listens to an audiobook when they can stop and look at a pdf?).
3.5 Stars

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

by C. J. Box, Christina Delaine (Narrator)
Series: The Highway Quartet, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 mins
Recorded Books, 2017
Read: March 26-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
Here we go. Cassie Dewell vs. The Lizard King: The Final Battle. Kyle Westergaard comes along for the ride, toobecause we can’t have a Highway novel without a young person’s perspective. A lot of other characters from the entire series make appearances (important ones), too.

This was a solidhorrifying, but solidconclusion to this arc. And it does set up a way for things to continue beyond this point.

I’m really glad that I started this series (it, too, started with a “don’t make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available” listen)
3.5 Stars

2020 Library Love Challenge
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from any of them, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton: A Parallel Universe/Body Swap Story Story Full of Laughs and Heart


Back to Reality

Back to Reality

by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 Min.
The Bestseller Experiment, 2019

Read: March 19-25, 2020


Oh, boy… how do I talk about this? I thought about calling this a bundle of joy, but that means something else. A bundle of audio joy, maybe? This was just so much fun that I want to start with that. If you’re looking to have a good time, this is a book for you.

If you read the Book Spotlight I just posted, you’ve got a good idea about the plot (and if you haven’t read the Spotlight, why not?). But for the sake of completeness here’s the gist: connected by something across the multiple parallel universes, two versions (one 18 and one almost 2 decades older) of one woman swap bodies for a few days. The older version works in PR, is the mother of a teen who can’t stand her, with marriage problems. The younger version is a pop star on the verge of breaking through in the ’90s. If they don’t swap back, there’s every sign that they won’t survive in this new world. But how can they do that?

That sounds sort of intriguing, I hope. But the book never really feels like that kind of Fringe-inspired take on a Back to the Future/Freaky Friday mashup, because of the voice, the style and approach of Stay and Oliver—which is characterized by humor and heart. It’s like early-Rainbow Rowell/Jennifer Weiner/Emily Giffin/Sophie Kinsella. These are strong women in very strange circumstances, surrounded by interesting characters responding to unbelievable situations.

We meet Jo on a night out with people from the office, which turns into an alcohol-fueled karaoke sensation (Jo has a fantastic voice, but a lot of stage fright). I enjoyed this chapter so much that I probably could’ve written 3-4 paragraphs about it alone and would’ve read an entire book about this woman’s life (especially because what happens to her in the next couple of chapters deserved a complete novel to see her respond to). It took me a little longer to get invested in “Yolo” (the 90’s version), but I came around and started rooting for her, too.

I am not the target audience for this (note the authors I mentioned above—some of which I only know through my wife’s description). And there were a few times I asked myself why I was listening to this—each time, I decided I was enjoying myself enough that I didn’t care if this was my typical read or not. There’s just a hint of SF, a dollop of Time Travel (more like jumping between parallel universes), and a healthy amount of “women’s commercial fiction.” This is a recipe for a wonderful literary dessert.

I’ll frequently (maybe too frequently?) talk about an audiobook narrator bringing the text to life. And Kim Bretton does that. But she does more than that—she fills it with life. Dynamic, energetic, vibrant…are just some of the adjectives that spring to mind. I was very happy when I just looked over her other audiobook credits and saw a couple of titles I was already thinking about—if she’s doing them, I’m giving them a try. (although, if I never hear her do another American male accent, I’d be more than okay).

Funny, sweet, amusing, heartfelt, laugh-inducing, touching, comic, imaginative—and did I mention humorous? This is 606 minutes of pure entertainment. I really encourage you to put this in your ear-holes. It’d probably work almost as well in print—Bretton’s great, but she has to have something to work with—but in audio? It’s close to a must-listen.


4 Stars

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for the delightful audiobook of Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator). Following this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)
Release date: September 25, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: The Bestseller Experiment
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Book Blurb:

The bestselling ’90s nostalgia time travel comedy

Jo’s world is about to change forever, and it’s about time

Her marriage is on auto-pilot, daughter hates her, job sucks and it’s not even Tuesday.

As Jo’s life implodes, a freak event hurls her back to ‘90s Los Angeles where, in a parallel universe, she’s about to hit the big time as a rock star.

Jo has to choose between her dreams and her family in an adventure that propels her from London to Hollywood then Glastonbury, the world’s greatest music festival.

Jo encounters a disgraced guru, a movie star with a fetish for double-decker buses, and the biggest pop star in the world… who just happens to want to kill her.

Back to Reality is a funny, heartwarming story about second chances, with a heroine to rival Bridget Jones and the rock n roll nostalgia of Keith A Pearson.

The novel from the Bestseller Experiment podcast presenters Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux. The Two Marks went to more gigs in the ’90s than in any other decade and are currently working on a time machine to see Prince in concert.


Praise for Back to Reality

“Like if Nick Hornby wrote a time travel, body swap adventure!”—New York Times bestselling author Mimi Strong

“Everything the world loves about British comedy. For those who wished Simon Pegg wrote novels, you now have the Two Marks.”USA Today bestselling author Shannon Mayer

“Written with an authentic touch and plenty of good humour. A tough book to put down.”—Mark Dawson, USA Today bestselling author of the million-selling John Milton series

“A compelling story where the comedy compliments the drama and keeps you turning the page… A delight.”—Bestselling author of The Dublin Trilogy, Caimh McDonnell

“I LOVE IT! It’s Back to the Future meets Freaky Friday.”—#1 Kindle bestselling author of Hot Mess, Lucy Vine

“Crackles with all the addictive energy of a pop hit, and the heart of a soul classic.”—Samantha King, bestselling author of The Choice

“Like a book version of Hot Tub Time Machine with fabulous female characters and great music.”—Kate Harrison, author of the bestselling 5:2 series

“If you love time travel and rock and roll, you’ll love this book!”—Julie Cohen, author of Together

Sliding Doors meets Back to the Future in a story to make you sing with joy.”—Karen Ball, Speckled Pen

“A magnificent book! Loved every page. Beautifully written.”—Callan McAuliffe, actor The Walking Dead


What Amazon readers are saying:

★★★★★ ‘A real page-turner overflowing with humour.’
★★★★★ ‘All kinds of funny, from laugh out loud to quiet snorts of recognition.’
★★★★★ ‘I miss the characters so much I think I’ll start reading it again!’
★★★★★ ‘Pure pleasure to read. You won’t put it down until you reach the last page.’
★★★★★ ‘An absolutely cracking read. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s heartwarming, and completely impossible to put down.’
★★★★★ ‘It’s —Spinal Tap meets —Back to the Future meets —Freaky Friday.’
★★★★★ ‘Funny, fast and massively entertaining. Hugely recommend.’
★★★★★ ‘—Back To Reality has it all; It’s funny, it’s thrilling, its thought-provoking and inspiring, but be warned, once you start reading this book you won’t want to put it down.’
★★★★★ ‘Think —Peggy Sue Got Married meets MTV. Funny and warmhearted. Highly Recommended.’
★★★★★ ‘This book reads like the best comedy movies. Great pace, humour and loads of action. Recommended for fans of Douglas Adams and Helen Fielding.’
★★★★★ ‘Belts along at a cracking pace, at times reminding me of Douglas Adams.’

About the Authors:

Mark Stay

Mark StayMark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. Author of the fantasy novel The End of Magic, he is also co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

Mark Oliver

Mark OliverMark Desvaux writes fiction as Mark Oliver. He also authors inspirational non-fiction and online courses, and is a professional speaker in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth. He is chairman and co-founder of the charity Foodshare. As a bestselling recording artist (Urban Myth Club), Mark’s two critically-acclaimed albums have led to appearances at festivals such as Glastonbury (which he tries to mention on every podcast). He lives on Vancouver Island with his family, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and seas, with chickens, bees and very tall trees.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

A Few Quick Thoughts about The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Audiobook) by Stuart Turton, James Cameron Stewart

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

by Stuart Turton, James Cameron Stewart (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 17 hrs., 4 min.
Tantor Audio, 2018

Read: March 6-19, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.

If I said everything I wanted to here, I’d blind you with too much information.

In the interest of A. Time and 2. Not wanting to overwhelm you with anything but mostly III. I don’t want to take away the impact that reading/listening to this would bring to you. So…I’m going to be brief.

Let’s start with the publisher’s description:

The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.

There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.

We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Understood? Then let’s begin…

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others.

For fans of Claire North and Kate Atkinson, The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive novel that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer—but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

When I grabbed this audiobook, I remembered less than 1 percent of what I’d read about it. I just remembered bloggers loving it. Also, it was on Chirp, so…you know, cheap, and I needed something to listen to. So without even reading the blurb again, I grabbed it.

What a mind-bending book. I’ve seen comparisons to Clue (the movie, not the game), Agatha Christie, Groundhog Day, and Quantum Leap—I’d add Knives Out. Those comparisons are all apt. Add those things with some incredibly brilliant writing—there are sentences here that justify the expense and/or time involved just to hear/read them. Throw in a clever, clever book and it’s a real winner.

It’s sort of a fantasy. It’s a very old school mystery. It’s impossible to encapsulate. The themes explored include:
bullet Identity
bullet Memory
bullet Vengence
bullet Corruption (inner and public)
bullet Forgiveness
bullet Redemption

Stewart’s narration was pretty solid—occasionally I wondered about his choices for female voices—but all in all he kept me engaged and entertained.

I thought the book dragged a bit from time to time, but it’s hard to think of anything Turton really could’ve cut/rearranged to help that–and the large portion that didn’t drag made up for the rest easily. To say that the plot is intricate is to undersell it, I don’t remember the last book I read that was quite this intricate and well-constructed. It’s truly impressive, thoroughly entertaining, and completely provocative.

Listen to it, read it, whatever…put it on your list and you’ll be glad you did.


4 Stars

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