A MelanieM Audio Review: Burn (Witchbane #1.5) by Morgan Brice and Kale Williams (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse.

Seth uncovers a cycle of ritual murders that feed the witch-disciples’ power, and he saves Evan Malone, one of the warlock’s potential victims. Neither Seth nor Evan expected to fall in love, but when the dust settles, they find themselves on the run and on the road together, heading toward Pittsburgh, on the trail of the next killer.

Seth wonders whether Evan will come to regret his choice to stay together, now that he’s living the reality of Seth’s nomadic life and the risks that come with it. He wants Evan to stay, but he’s afraid that Evan would be better off without him, living a normal life. Evan’s whole world has been upended, but there’s one thing he’s sure of, his love for Seth. Evan worries that he’s a liability, not yet able to hold his own in Seth’s rough-and-tumble world, but determined to do whatever necessary to have Seth’s back. On the way to face the next warlock, supernatural threats abound, forcing them to learn to fight as a team.

Fate and danger threw them together. But once the adrenaline fades, will love last?

Burn is a short follow-up story in the Witchbane series where Seth Tanner and Evan Malone are still adjusting not only to each other but recovering from the recents events from book one, Witchbane and before book two, Dark Rivers.  Their “partnership” is new, from the tentatively forming romance to the decision to carry on and find the rest of the  warlock’s witch disciples. And dispose of them.  So Burn is a story of uncertainty, adjustment, learning, and communication.  All while killing nasty supernatural and paranormal beasties.

It is most definitely NOT a standalone in any way shape or form.  Really wish they would stop doing that in blurbs and descriptions.  It’s a series, people, with world building and this is only an interim story. It most certainly rests on the shoulders of the rest one as any solid building block does.

So, if you’ve read Witchbane, this is a wonderful sequel and mirror into where the characters stood immediately after the events of that novel.  Not shockingly, they are having issues.  Not talking and it’s ready to combust.  As written by Morgan Brice and narrated by the most wonderful Kale Williams, this story flies by.  It’s action packed, the characters alive and full of torn emotions.  As they should be.  I was so caught up in the story that it was over before I knew it.  As I said it’s a short story and the audio reflects that.

Witchbane is just one of the many interconnected series that Brice has right now.  There’s Witchbane, Badlands, t and the the new one , Treasure Trail.  All with interconnected characters that appear in each others stories and series. If you read one or listen to one, you find yourself getting sucked, quite willingly, into the overall universe Brice is building.  Read one?  Nope, have to read them all.  Or listen to them.  Which I am finding equally addicting under the spell of Kale Williams.

Which means I am recommending Burn the audio to you all, after you listen to Witchbane of course.  That was a terrific audio too.  Now to wait for Dark Rivers to arrive in audio.  Be still my heart!

Cover art works for the characters and tone of the story.  Love it.

Buy Links

Audible US  |   Audible UK 

Amazon US  |   Amazon U

Audio Details:

Listening Length: 3 hours and 2 minutes

Audiobook
Published April 16th 2019 by Tantor Audio (first published September 26th 2018)
ASINB07Q4R76RK
Edition Language English
Series Witchbane #1.5

Witchbane Series

Witchbane

Burn 1.5

Dark Rivers 2

A MelanieM Audio Review: Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?

Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.

Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.

Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.

Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda was one of those stories I both liked and was left feeling sort of bereft of that happy warm feeling that I get from the romances and stories that I truly love and connect with.  The writing was well done,  the story layered, and the narrator did an excellent job with all the characters and storytelling.  Sigh.

So where exactly was the issue?

I’m not sure.  I like the slow burn stories and boy, was this one.  Both men identify as straight for most of the  story, the only “being” certain they are a perfect match is a AI called Archer, the IA forQ*Pid, who “bends” his creator’s rules and invents an algorithm that goes beyond their client’s checklists into their actual needs and wants.  And then paired them up with their actual mate, regardless of gender.  A company no no and a shock to these men and their perceptions about their sexuality.

The sections where Archer and Veera, his creator, although interesting, and the rest of her team, have a tendency to bog down the flow of the  story.  It picks up once they stop “popping in” often, interrupting the already molasses slow flow of Drew and Fox’s steps towards a relationship.  We do need to understand what when  wrong or right with Archer but the dynamics within   Veera’s team is messy, nasty (and however realistic) takes away from the romance.

The character of Fox is almost another problem in itself.  It takes an inordinate amount of time to actually like him.  And his friend or maybe it’s the voice assigned to his friend by the narrator.  Turned me off totally.  Fox is locked down tight by his background, history and riches. The author has written him as difficult to identify with, surface hard, and far too obnoxious.  Less personality than Archer at the start.  It’s not until he’s halfway into his “non dating” of Drew that he softens and his character changes enough that you can see his potential as a mate for Drew who has been a “real person” from the beginning.

Perhaps that’s it.  There’s been a real imbalance throughout most of the story, with our affections resting squarely on Drew’s side, including that of his neighbor.  Everything with Drew feels authentic.  Role on over to Fox?  Not so much.  It take a while for that to even out, and that happens only towards the last part of the story.

It was Drew that had my heart and he had it from start to finish.  Wish that I could say the same about Fox and their romance.   I think this story came really close on many levels but it just didn’t check all my romance boxes in the end.

Rudy Sanda did a wonderful job with the voices.  The only exception being Fox’s best friend. Chad.  For some reason I found that one extremely irritating and hard to listen to.

Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda (Narrator) ended up being a sweet contemporary romance with some terrific touches.  I liked the  narrator and thought the writing was great.  If this sounds like something you would like, than I recommend it for your listening pleasure.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  Great cover and I think it’s eye catching in model and colors.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 12 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published August 28th 2018)
ASINB07JNZFMMP
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: P.S. I Spook You by S.E. Harmon and Noah Michael Levine (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the blurb: SA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him. Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex. It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.

This was a great story with an established couple who drifted apart and are thrown together by work circumstances, one reluctant medium—FBI SA Rain Christiansen, and cold-case detective Daniel McKenna, who still loves Rain but not his ability to see ghosts. 

The story has so much potential with more than one ghost making requests of Rain whose friends and former lover all seem to think he’s lost his mind. One cold case provides the main plot substance as Rain is visited by the victim’s ghost who leads him to her car hidden in the Everglades. Explain that to his boss and his lover? No way do they understand. There’s a lot of push-pull on the romance and plenty of suspects. Of course, Rain is the type of self-willed character who leaps before he looks, landing him in deep trouble. I liked the plot and the dynamic between Rain and Daniel, as well as Rain’s snarky, humorous attitude.

What pulled the story down a notch for me was the narration. When the speaker wasn’t identified in the dialogue, I couldn’t really tell who was speaking until I figured it out based on what was said. In other words, the narration wasn’t good. The narrator didn’t have enough distinction between the voices of the two MCs. He also mispronounced words, though that’s minor in comparison to the major issue of having two similar voices. I was frequently lost, and though I found the story interesting, I feel sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as my friends who read the e-book seemed to. So, though I can recommend the story to those who enjoy a mix of romance and mystery, I don’t recommend the audio version.

The cover features two young men kissing in the upper pane while in the bottom pane of the cover a young girl stands with her back to the camera—a great representation of the missing girl.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published June 12th 2017)
Original Title P.S. I Spook You
Edition Language English setting Miami, Florida (United States)
Florida (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Hidden in Darkness (In Darkness #1) by Alice Winters and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Joel, Joel, Joel. The man of a thousand voices. And when he vocalizes a younger, less experienced, or smaller, less aggressive character, he brings such life, such wonderful humanity to the character’s interactions that I may as well be sitting in front of a big screen TV.  I can picture every wonderful minute.  That’s what happened here.

I really enjoyed this story, and I know that was due, in large part, to Joel Leslie’s narration. The characters were engaging and fun with each other. Their snarky and disparaging words may have come across as rude and nasty on paper, but delivered by this talented voice actor, the barbs and insults were just plain funny! I fell in love with Felix. What a gem! Totally enjoyable and not one to live with caution. He barges into situations without much forethought and then somehow manages to get himself out of trouble.

He also takes the straight-laced Lane and makes him unquestionably loveable. Lane was an undercover copy who was tortured and blinded by one of the men he was stalking. When Felix enters his life to “assist” him in his daily life, his life becomes something he never dreamed of. Instead of feeling sorry for the blind guy, Felix pokes and prods and nags and niggles and Lane gives back just as much as he gets.  Through Felix, we see Lane come to a greater acceptance of his blindness and definitely to a greater acceptance for and need for Felix.  Their relationship is solid by the last scene.

I highly recommend this story in audio format. I’ve just learned there’s a sequel narrated by Joel.  I’ll be on that like syrup on a pancake. This is just the perfect sort of action-packed, and humor-packed, adventure I like to listen to on my walks, or in the car, and because I couldn’t get enough of these characters in Joel’s voice, this one may have accompanied me while I was working. Yes. It’s that good.

The cover features a close-up of a man in a suit jacket and tie, but only the lower half of his face. The tone is dark with a black background. It’s very symbolic of the darkness in which Lane lives.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published February 17th 2018)
ASINB07HJD9RBH
Edition Language English
Series In Darkness #1