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.


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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.

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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.

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Wilde’s Fire

wilde's fire

By: Krystal Wade

Narrated by: Eileen Stevens

GoodReads Summary: “There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.” – Katriona Wilde. Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?

So glad I borrowed this with Amazon Kindle.

This isn’t the softest book I’ve read with so little grit it’s like wet plastic. But it’s right up there.

The idea of the story is very interesting. It’s something like Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, a comic that I read when I was very little. I love the idea of the MC being from another world and finding the way home after years of living in “ours.” In fact, I tried to write a short story with the same idea a while back. Even my story, for which I had such high hopes, fell flat and is rotting somewhere in a journal, unfinished and truly unmourned.

Krystal Wade, I think, did a pretty good job of presenting the precepts of a girl being the savior of another world. However, the world itself loses focus about halfway through and we’re subject to the inner workings of a teenager fluctuating between feeling sorry for herself and desiring the literal man of her dreams.

If you like romance to the exception of all else but a basic storyline, this is the book for you. It really just isn’t my cup of tea.

Everything is subjective, nothing more so than art. So there will be plenty of people who looooove this story. Unfortunately, I’m just not one of them, not matter how much I wish to be.

This is the first time I’ve listened to narrator, Eileen Stevens, while I’m not blown away by her talents, she is a splendid match to the softness of Wilde’s Fire. Her voice is smooth and sweet, just like the conflicted Katriona Wilde.

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Unhappenings

unhappenings

 

By: Edward Aubry

Narrated by: Josh Hurley

GoodReads Summary: When Nigel Walden is fourteen, the UNHAPPENINGS begin. His first girlfriend disappears the day after their first kiss with no indication she ever existed. This retroactive change is the first of many only he seems to notice.

Several years later, when Nigel is visited by two people from his future, he hopes they can explain why the past keeps rewriting itself around him. But the enigmatic young guide shares very little, and the haggard, incoherent, elderly version of himself is even less reliable. His search for answers takes him fifty-two years forward in time, where he finds himself stranded and alone.

And then he meets Helen.

Brilliant, hilarious and beautiful, she captivates him. But Nigel’s relationships always unhappen, and if they get close it could be fatal for her. Worse, according to the young guide, just by entering Helen’s life, Nigel has already set into motion events that will have catastrophic consequences. In his efforts to reverse this, and to find a way to remain with Helen, he discovers the disturbing truth about the unhappenings, and the role he and his future self have played all along.

Equal parts time-travel adventure and tragic love story, Unhappenings is a tale of gravely bad choices, and Nigel’s struggle not to become what he sees in the preview of his worst self.

So I used my Kindle Unlimited to listen to this one. However, it wasn’t until I started thinking about my own review that I glanced through some of what people were saying about this book.

I think this is going to be one of those love it or hate it books once more people get a chance to read this. The story is one that makes you think in a way that may be uncomfortable for some and very confusing for others.

Time travel always finds a way to throw me off. I mean, we’re all linear thinkers and I do pride myself for being able to grasp things easily some people find difficult. But I can see where parts of this crazy book will completely befuddle the huddled masses.

So in the beginning I’m curious about the story behind the story. It opens up in the young life of Nigel and his experiences with unhappenings. Granted, at first he has no clue what’s going on. But upon meeting Penelope, one would think he would ask more pertinent questions regardless of if she will answer them. And you’d think that little miss, I know everything you don’t would slip up a time or two to give a few more clues. But then, maybe that’s the point, the reason to keep reading.

I did enjoy this. I couldn’t stop listening. Towards the beginning of the end, though, the villain’s motives were still very unclear. The “why” behind the story just seems to peter out. So I kept listening, wondering…

Twists and turns almost overwhelm the end of the book. Yet I followed every convoluted turn of events until finally I gained a certain understanding of character motivation.

I believe, if you’re a true time traveling fan, you will complete enjoy this book and sink into the twists and turns with a fond, “yeah, now we’re getting somewhere.”

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Delicate Thorns

Delicate Thorns

By: Ainsley Shay and Miranda Hardy

Narrated by: Angie Hickman

GoodReads Summary: Waking up on a deserted island with no memory of who you are is scary, but when your throat burns for the thirst of blood, it’s terrifying.

For months, Jasmine has managed to feed her new hunger in solitude while teetering on the brink of insanity. As her delirium increases to a new level, an unthinkable opportunity offers an escape into a world of cruelty, vengeance, love and lust. Now the need to remember her past becomes vital if Jasmine plans to survive.

Delicate Thorns is a 26,000 word New Adult novella that brings an interesting twist to the vampire paranormal genre.

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

Delicate Thorns is such an appropriate title for this work. From the short form to Angie Hickman’s voice, everything seems like a gentle bubble that if you touched it, it would break into a thousand glimmering drops.

The movement of the rising action drifts daintily into the subtle drama of the climax, leaving me feeling that this is simply a few diary entries read aloud by the one who’d forgotten she’d written anything down.

I’m glad to see that other people like this story. I must be one of the few for whom this story does not resonate.

The imagery is interesting, lacking certain clichés most writers of intimate scenes fall into. In that, it was a bit different.

However, it just feels so soft that I can’t quite grip it in my mind. Even just after finishing it for the second time, I’m losing details that probably should have been able to stick with me.

Others have said that it is refreshingly different. Maybe I’ve read way too many vampire stories, but other than the amnesia, figuring out who you are once you’ve become one of the monsters is a constant in this idea of a story.

I really wish I’d been blown away. But I simply was not. Jasmine’s story simply lacks the grit that I enjoy.

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Consultation With a Vampire

consultation with a vampire

By: Patrick E. McLean

Narrated by: Patrick McLean

Series: How to Succeed in Evil

GoodReads Summary: Edwin Windsor, Evil Efficiency Consultant, returns with his manic lawyer Topper and his faithful secretary in this prequel to How to Succeed in Evil. Edwin is approached by a vampire, who offers him the prospect of eternal life if Edwin will help him with the troubles the modern world has presented his kind. It’s Edwin versus Nosferatu in this insightful satire of the highly exploited vampire genre.

Novella-length, 27,000 words

I’ve finally decided to return to one of my very favorite narrators.

After The Merchant Adventurer, I knew that while I will (and have) most definitely return to that listen, there is but one first time.

I found that there are only three Patrick McLean books ready for my listening consumption on Audible, and I have to space them out like savoring chocolate melting on my tongue.

But lately, I’ve had a hankerin’.

Nowhere else have I found such a broad range of voices (except for maybe full audio productions and Robin Williams on a lovely rant).

After reading the reviews for this one, it’s obvious that the best way to enjoy Patrick McLean is to hear Patrick McLean.

For all those critical reviews begging for more, it’s a novella, guys. It’s a short, entertaining prequel. It’s supposed to be that way.

Even though I truly loved the story and want more myself, I do not want to read the story. I want Mr. McLean to tell me the story. So I’ll have to wait for more How to Succeed in Evil.

I haven’t experienced any other book in this series. But apparently, others think the rest of them are even better than this little slice. Alas, I’ll just have to wait. I’ll have to adopt the patience of a vampire. (Wait, maybe I should kidnap Mr. McLean’s lawyer to get what I want. Hmmmm.)

I love the completely opposite take on vampires here. I mean, the idea of the vampire was a story that was supposed to scare the bejesus out of us, right? Then comes the twentieth century and the vision of the sexy, undeniable vampire. Then comes the twenty- first century where vampires love and sparkle.

Dark Shadows, the tv show is a bit before my time, but Johnny Depp’s version caught me because, well, Johnny Depp. And all I could see when hearing Barnabas was Johnny’s over the top make up and outdated assumptions of the world.

Part of me wondered, really sat and wondered, would a vampire have such a hard time adjusting? I mean, even though he’s lived a long time, how hard is it really to roll with the times, especially when you have the time to learn all kinds of things. OK, I’m still rolling that one over in my head.

At the end of the day, all I have to say is, just listen to Mr. McLean. That’s amazing in itself.

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