The Rules of Supervillainy

The Rules of Supervillainy

By: C.T. Phillips

Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer

GoodReads Summary: Gary Karkofsky is an ordinary guy with an ordinary life living in an extraordinary world. Supervillains, heroes, and monsters are a common part of the world he inhabits. Yet, after the death of his hometown’s resident superhero, he gains the amazing gift of the late champion’s magical cloak. Deciding he prefers to be rich rather than good, Gary embarks on a career as Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy.

But is he evil enough to be a villain in America’s most crime-ridden city?

Gary soon finds himself surrounded by a host of the worst of Falconcrest City’s toughest criminals. Supported by his long-suffering wife, his ex-girlfriend turned professional henchwoman, and a has-been evil mastermind, Gary may end up being not the hero they want but the villain they need.

 

I’ve never properly fit into any group and comic-lovers is one of those groups I spend a lot of time on the outside looking in. I discovered a long time ago that I love the stories of superheroes. I love art that goes into a graphic novel. But I’m also cheap. I have been since my allowance was $2 a week. I mean, why spend the equivalent of a novel on a thin magazine that entertained me for 25-30 minutes when I could buy an actual book that maybe I could stretch out a whole week to read amid all the activities of my childhood? I loved the comfort of knowing I still had more to read and would carry a book around, reading in the school cafeteria, standing in line with my mother at the grocery store, when riding around with mom on her errands….you get the picture.

Anyway, comic books were not the most bang I could get for my buck back in the day. But that never stopped me from finding a way to know the story. Others who had extensive collections would tell me the stories and I’d listen to the geekfest arguments intensely. So even though I was so sheltered as a child, that in 1986 I didn’t know who Michael Jackson was, I knew Wonder Woman, Superman, Spiderman and any Xman you could name.

Add that outside-looking-in thing, to the cartoons of the nineties, the movies lately and ignore the fact that I’d like to hear the story from someone else who’s read the comic and you might just get why I like superheroes but have never been fully invested.

Take that perspective rather than the geeky one and you’ll understand why I jumped on this book as soon as I could.

I loved the cover from the start even though I still can’t pinpoint what it says to me. It makes my lips twitch up every time I see it.

Two things I found most interesting while listening:

  1. I thought it quite similar to Please Don’t Tell My parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. Sure the MC’s are quite different. Bad Penny is a young girl with aspirations of being a superhero with talents that lean toward supervillainy. Merciless is a married man with aspirations of being a supervillain gifted with a dead superhero’s cloak and an actual moral compass.
  2. Merciless is married. Merciless is in a good Merciless lives in suburbia. I found it highly refreshing.

The Rules of Supervillainy is campy and staggered as if someone put together a series of five graphic novels in one place. It is perfect for the book reader in me looking for more bang for my buck. Rather than buying each of those five comics, I’ve got the whole story in one place. That makes me jump and yeah inside.

This is not technically an origin story even being the first in a series. Nor does it leave the reader completely hanging at the end (a thing that some writers are doing to boost sales that just leaves dryness in my mouth).

Yes, there is an opening at the end for more. However, for this part of the story, the main threads are tied up neatly at the end even though the pattern might be a bit more random than some would like. The open end is just what you would expect from the first of a novel about superheroes and villains. You don’t want it all wrapped up in a neat little bow when you just know another adventure waits just around the corner.

Jeffery Kafer is familiar to me from his work on Preternatural Affairs, another series I completely recommend. While he doesn’t have the range of someone like Patrick McLean, his straight telling of the story with just a hint of emotion reminds me of how I read to my kids. (My husband is the one who does the voices.) Everything is clear and dry and a perfect rendition of how I think Gary would actually be telling the story. I really don’t know how Mr. Kafer got through this with a straight face. He is such a professional. I applaud the result.


Advertisements

Loose Ends: A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery, Book One

loose ends

By: Terri Reid

Narrated by: Erin Spencer

Series: A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery

GoodReads Summary: Dying is what changed Mary O’Reilly’s life. Well, actually, coming back from the dead and having the ability to communicate with ghosts is really what did it.

Now, a private investigator in rural Freeport, Illinois, Mary’s trying to learn how to incorporate her experience as a Chicago cop and new-found talent into a real job. Her challenge is to solve the mysteries, get real evidence (a ghost’s word just doesn’t hold up in court), and be sure the folks in town, especially the handsome new police chief, doesn’t think she’s nuts.

Twenty-four years ago, a young woman drowned in the swimming pool of a newly elected State Senator. It was ruled an accident. But now, as the Senator prepares to move on to higher positions, the ghost of the woman is appearing to the Senator’s wife.

Mary is hired to discover the truth behind the death. She unearths a connection between the murder and the disappearance of five little girls whose cases, twenty-four years later, are still all unsolved. As she digs further, she becomes the next target for the serial killers’ quest to tie up all his loose ends.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I picked this up from one of my free lists. I can’t remember when or which one, I’ve had this on my TBR list for so freakin’ long. Somewhere along the line, I added narration for the low, low price of $1.99. So I paid $2 and change for the opportunity to listen to this.

I think the cover appealed to me. I think the summary appealed to me. After listening to the sample clip a few dozen times, the narrator didn’t do that much for me. She didn’t make me want to listen to the book. I think I finally got it because I was running out of daytime listening. (Deep, rumbling male voices for night / Bright, upbeat female for day.)

Hell, even the first chapter kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Erin Spencer didn’t impress me as the narrator to enhance the dark and creepy.

But to be honest…the blend of Terri Reid’s writing and Erin Spencer as Mary O’Reilly…well, that’s just gold.

By the third chapter, I was hooked. By the end, I’d acquired an appreciation for the voice I hadn’t liked to start with. Erin Spencer is Mary O’Reilly. (Please don’t let me find out somewhere in the middle of freakin’ 15 books that someone else narrates this series.)

Add the ghosts, the devastatingly handsome police chief, a chewy mystery or two and that’s a recipe for a good afternoon (doing dishes, folding clothes…not stopping the cleaning because you’d have to take out your earbuds to do anything else….)

This is not your typical female running headlong into danger. This is not one where the gorgeous guy saves the day. This is different.

(Yeah, I knew what was what way before the end. It’s the journey getting there that I enjoyed.)

Hell, I enjoyed the whole experience so much, I’ve already purchased the next book. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow…. Well, the house is pretty much clean so yardwork?

Awoken: The Lucidites, Book One

awoken

By: Sarah Noffke

Narrated By: Elizabeth Klett

GoodReads Summary: Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights.

In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events.

And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle.

Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?

(I received a free audible copy in exchange for an honest review.)

I find it interesting that the beginning of the story drops the reader directly into the story, so much so that it doesn’t feel like the first book. I think I even did a bit of googling to make sure this was the first in the series, that I hadn’t missed something vital. (I hate reading things out of turn.)

After listening to the story from beginning to end, I am thankful that Noffke did not take us through the often overdone mysterious and usually unbelievable origin story. I’m glad we simply learned through reflection Roya’s immediate past. Of course, I still think that opening should throw off most readers, but judging by the majority of the reviews, it simply doesn’t. (Just browsing, I notice there are very few reviews rating lower than three stars.)

I also notice the comparison to The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay and Divergent (Divergent Series). It is only comparable in the sense that we’re seeing many of the same tropes that occur in every other “young adult” novel. So definitely expect that. But don’t expect the drama and bloodshed from Hunger Games. Don’t expect the secondary characters to ostracize the main character until the MC proves herself like Divergent tends to do.

Noffke creates a unique blend of characters. The ones that make up Roya’s team are more understanding and welcoming than most. The characters we are supposed to either hate or write off as “bad” for whatever reason are extreme. For instance, Roya’s “family” is of a kind I’ve never had the displeasure to meet or read of before, (excepting the way Harry Potter’s family treated him.) Goat girl is the extreme kind of entitled bitch we expect to dislike but she takes it to a completely new level.

Sarah Noffke has a unique turn of phrase. Descriptions from setting to character movement and emotion are interesting and keep you listening.

The villain is a nominal character entering the stage at not quite the end making this story’s focus on Roya’s characterization. This story is about Roya learning about herself, about her past, her powers and what is expected of her.

It is not one of those books where the ending is not really an ending but a cliffhanger intended to generate books sales for the sequel. It actually has an ending with the whisper of a promise for future books. (Of course, I say that now, even knowing there are two more books in the Lucidite series.)

There are certain things I look for with female narrators. I’m beginning to think that makes me a little picky, especially since there are tons of audiophiles out there who don’t care who narrates as long as they are good and the production quality is good.

I pick male narrators for nighttime listening. Not that I expect the book to be bad enough to bore me to sleep, but something about a deep voice is calming and sometimes keeps insomnia at bay. (I mean, James Marsters reading the Dresden Files (15 books)….aaahhhhh.)

Female narrators are for daytime. Their voices are of a higher pitch, enough to keep me awake, focused and attentive.

These narrators have to create distinct voices for each character, create believable accents that don’t grate on the nerves like nails on a chalkboard, and for those females, they have to lack that whiny quality most females put into their main character (especially, those poor melancholy teenagers with an overabundance of angst.)

Elizabeth Klett does a good job fulfilling my requirements which makes me wonder why she doesn’t feel right in the role of Roya. I’d be hard pressed to find a better female narrator who fit into my pickiest of standards, but Elizabeth just does not sound like Roya.

Of course, everyone has their opinion and I keep browsing through other reviews to find one like mine (there are none as of yet, if you wanted to know).

As for the series of books…even though I have only read two of Noffke’s dream walking worlds, I would recommend them simply for their considerable entertainment.

Click here to go to Amazon

The Experiment of Dreams

the experiment of dreams

By: Brandon Zenner

Narrated by: Jim Tedder

GoodReads Summary: Benjamin Walker’s lifelong career of testing experimental drugs and medicines, as well as participating in fascinating sleep-related studies, has come to an end. A new and lucrative job opportunity is offered to Ben, working on a project named Lucy, a machine capable of reading and recording a person’s dreams in intimate detail. All is finally going well for Ben . . . until strange dreams of a town named Drapery Falls begin to plague him, and memories once hidden begin to reveal themselves. The doctors and staff onboard team Lucy are not who Ben thinks they are, and Mr. Kalispell will stop at nothing to keep Ben’s emerging memories buried for good. Ben is put on a collision course that will bring him to the brink of total insanity, and perhaps even death. At the heart of it all, Ben’s worst enemy is his own mind, and he must confront his past in order to save his future. The twist and turns in The Experiment of Dreams will keep you guessing, down to the very last line.

This book repeatedly appeared in my recommendations on every site: Audible, Amazon, GoodReads, ets. So after reading and re-reading the summary, I think I purchased it when it was free something like a year and  a half ago. I still didn’t find the urge to sit down and read the thing.

Then I found it on Kindle Unlimited with narration. So, ok, I borrowed it and dove in.

Just like all the other three star and below reviews, I was very interested in the very beginning. Even with Ben sort of shrugging his shoulders at the hinky stuff and pressing the accelerator without too much introspection and curiosity, I was kind of ok with that. I mean, you have to put aside your disbelief sometimes, right?

The machine itself, Lucy? Well, scientists have been trying to build something like that for a while now, especially since those things have appeared in several movies over the past 50 years or so. I can wrap my mind around it easy.

So the first half of the book is beautiful, aside from the easy way Ben has of sliding into this strangeness in the first place. The descriptions are surreal, just like the cover. I liked it.

However, it starts flailing around the second half where suddenly we’re in the middle of so much exposition it felt like an historical text. I did like the twistiness of the end, but probably could have done without the character monologues telling me what happened.

So I’m hovering right about three stars despite the fact that I love the premise. Because who needs to make themselves finish a book when you’ve already figured out the ending and all the characters are doing is telling you in a very long winded fashion that you’re right?

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

 

Click here to go to Amazon

When She Cries

when she cries

By: Alex Westhaven

Narrated by: Kevin Clay

GoodReads Summary: Nicole Strickly is excited to get out of the city and spend a weekend in the mountains, even if her date is a little sketchy. They aren’t far down the road before she realizes her mistake, but there’s no turning back, and what awaits her when they arrive at camp is far worse than she could ever have imagined.

Forced to run or die, Nicole finds herself embroiled in a gruesome game where the only reward for winning is three more rounds with the huntmaster himself, and an experience that will change the fiber of her very being…for as long as she can survive.

*** – technically 3.5 stars

(I received a free audible copy for an honest review.)

Serial hunters call it a game….

I don’t know where or when the idea of hunting people first slid into a human, but it is a subject that inspires a certain kind of panic. Stuck in the wilds, the higher brain functions of a human can help befuddle any predatory animal and allow for escape. But when the predator is just as high functioning as the human prey, the idea of escape becomes an illusory goal.

I like the narration of When She Cries. It was easy to lose track of time listening to the story. However, I don’t think that Mr. Clay fully utilized the emotions inherent in the writing. While his voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, it might have been better with a few speed differentials within the different scenes.

Of course, some of the dialogue between the characters did feel somewhat stilted and may have influenced Mr. Clay while he read. I rolled my eyes a few times during Nicole’s inner monologues. Not as often as I expected, but a few times where it just seemed a bit forced into the plot rather than fluidly deriving from the character herself.

Because of these thoughts while I read, I did not feel the fear and panic intended by Mrs. Westhaven. But the story and narration is good enough that I really wanted to know how it ended.

And the end is worth gliding along Mr. Clay’s voice and slipping into Mrs. Westhaven’s mind. The end is very satisfying.

Click here to go to Amazon

Have You Seen My Son?

have you seen my son

By: Jack Olsen

Narrated by: Becket Royce

GoodReads Summary: Have You Seen My Son? is a powerful novel of child-snatching and a mother’s obsessed hunt for her five-year-old son — “a gripping, intensely moving novel,” writes Robert Daley, author of Prince of the City and Year of the Dragon. “The ending left me with tears in my eyes. There is no love like mother love, is there?”

And no greater test of it than what Lael Pritcher is about to endure.

One cool April day, Mike Pritcher visits the home of his estranged wife, Lael, and takes their son, Ace, for an overnight outing. “She pushed her son’s black-rimmed glasses up the slope of his thin nose. He jerked away like a puppy slipping its leash. A giggle, a crunch of gravel, a single wave of a grimy hand, and her only child was gone.”

Gone — child-snatched, though Lael won’t realize that right away, and won’t understand what it means even when the police tell her it’s a “domestic matter.” “You got the right to snatch him back,” her lawyer explains. “That’s about it.” So that’s what she sets out to do, in one of the most suspenseful, emotion-wrenching novels in recent years. Have You Seen My Son? is Lael Pritcher’s story, as she searches for her son throughout the Northwest, Canada and finally Mexico; an odyssey of near-misses and sudden reversals, searing loneliness and unshakable love, as Lael reaches deep inside herself for a resourcefulness and strength she never knew existed. Combining intimate drama with powerful suspense, this is a story with which every woman — and every man — will identify.

(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Considering this book was published in 1982, it should be seen as an example of the reasons we have new laws to protect children, even (especially) in the middle of custody battles.

Lael is very passive for a woman whose husband stole her asthmatic son in the middle of their divorce and custody proceedings. Of course, she does everything she can to get him back, which, at the time was very limited.

Because of that, the story seemed to lag a few times, her character making the story passive. However, you just can’t help pushing on as she does just to find out if she gets her son back.

Having said that, you must understand that even though I found this a very passive story (not the heart-stopping thriller I thought it would be) there were a few times I gasped aloud.

For an author to be able to do that makes it worth the listen.

Click here to go to Amazon

Girl of the Cloud Forest

girl of the cloud forest

By: Dennis J. Butler

Narrated by: Matthew Whitfield

GoodReads Summary: Carlo Diamante wonders if the beautiful and mysterious woman he keeps seeing is stalking him. If she is stalking him, why does she keep disappearing in the crowd when he approaches her? He wonders if she is just an illusion. Perhaps she is a dream woman created by his vivid imagination. Carlo finally confides in his very ill sister who tells him there is something very special about this woman and that Carlo needs to find her.

Meanwhile, another mystery is unfolding in the jungles of the Amazon. Carlo doesn’t know it yet but there is a connection between the mystery girl on the subway and the mystery unfolding in the jungle?

Carlo has never believed in miracles, but his life is about to change forever. Maybe miracles are real.

This book contains sexual situations and is recommended for young adults.

3.5 stars

(I received a free audible copy in exchange for an honest review.)

I’m not confident in the label of adventure for this. Sure, there’s travel. And there’s travel in faraway places. But it’s less adventure and more of a quest that leads Carlo outside his comfort zone and into another culture.

It has some paranormal elements that make bits of it a mystery. But it comes across as more of a paranormal romance than anything else. Yet, it is a sweet and a very different type of romance than I’ve ever read.

Everything about this story is soft: the love (even though powerful), the adventure, the bit of mystery, the tiniest bit of danger, and the narration.

For a peaceful afternoon, this is a nice read.

Click here to go to Amazon