Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMasterKiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so…innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

In my earlier days as a book blogger I remember Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster being one of the first steampunk stories I’d ever read, the other being Kate Locke’s series – Immortal Empire. I seriously fell in love with the world that McMaster created and the paranormal elements she molded to fit in with everything. When I saw the opportunity to listen to the audio version on McMaster’s entire London Steampunk series with Alison Larkin narrating, I knew that I had to experience this series in this format – the sample I listened to hooked me as well.

As always whenever you are revisiting a series in another format you are going to experience some inconsistencies simply because when you read it for yourself you imagine how certain characters sound, look, and the way they carry themselves. In listening to Kiss of Steel with Larkin’s narration behind it I did find myself not really liking her portrayal of Blade’s voice. Now the interpretation could be completely wrong on my part because I have no idea how his English accent was supposed to sound, but I envisioned him with a deeper voice. I digress, Larkin did an amazing job with everything and everyone except for Blade’s character.

The story of Kiss of Steel was also something that drew me in immediately. Yeah there are vampires within Kiss of Steel, which have been included in paranormal stories for decades upon decades, but the way that McMaster penned the challenges, hierarchy, and world elements within Kiss of Steel sets it apart from other paranormal/steampunk stories you will ever read.

Since I never did get pass Kiss of Steel when I was going through this series the first time I’m super excited to see how the world McMaster created expands and changes as the series goes on, plus I want to see how the series transitions into the spin-off series The Blue Blood Conspiracy.



Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter

Raven Cursed by Faith HunterRaven Cursed by Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #4
Published by Audible Frontier on January 3, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry master vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny.

The reviews of Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter didn’t have me as wary as I thought they would. Matter of fact the reviews on this series I feel have been warranted but are a little premature because with the vastness of Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series it’s going to take a few installments to work out all of the kinks, as well as the character development of some really complex characters.

Within the beginning of Raven Cursed I found myself checking out a lot, mentally. Since I was listening to this on audio, I sort of got lost in all of the dialogue and explanation that Jane had to go through with the new circumstances between Kinenbi (I think that’s how you spell his name), Rick, and Molly and her family. Sadly, I didn’t check back into Raven Cursed until about halfway through, when the action stared to make itself known.

Having read Hunter’s Soulwood series, and using that series as the persuasion to jump back into her Jane Yellowrock’s series, it’s fascinating to see how certain elements that make up the Soulwood series originated with the Jane Yellowrock series. For example, the grindalow’s (hope I’m spelling this right, it’s hard figuring out spelling when you only listen via audiobook) was a character I was curious about from the Soulwood series so it’s awesome that for Raven Cursed this species was sort of the focal point of the conflict that Jane faced.

With this installment in the Jane Yellowrock series there was another shift within the Jane, Rick, and Bruiser love triangle. In the last read I was totally team Bruiser because I actually saw the chemistry and longevity in a relationship between Jane and him, but in Raven Cursed Rick was actually more appealing. I don’t know if I like Hunter for showing the strengths and weaknesses between Rick and Bruiser so that I have more a well-rounded picture of who Jane will eventually pick and how viable a relationship could be with her, or loath her for what she’s trying to do, it’s no secret that I can’t stand Rick LaFleur – I don’t even like him in her Soulwood series lol.

My hope for the next story in this series is that things pick up with all the main characters and reappearing supporting characters. I also hope that Jane either finds out more about herself or her secret is blown wide open because her ability to cover up what she is is starting to get sloppy and it’s starting to make the other intelligent characters look dumb because they haven’t put two and two together.

Should I say again how awesome Khristine Hvam’s narration was for Raven Cursed? No, you all know that already? Awesome, lol.

About Faith Hunter

Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)
Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.
Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda JonesThird Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #3
Published by Macmillan Audio on January 31, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back in Darynda Jones' Third Grave Dead Ahead! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part human, part supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

Beginning Third Grave Dead Ahead I almost reached my tolerance level towards the Charlie and Reyes back-and-forth, not-really-a-relationship dance. I was so close to saying heck with this series because these two were working my nerves something fierce! But the duo that is Charlie and Cookie are what saved Third Grave Dead Ahead and this series for me; almost like Stephanie and Lula did for me in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

I love, love, love Lorelei King’s narration of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. Between the story and her narration I so easily get sucked into each book and hate when it ends. At this point I no longer hear Stephanie Plum’s voice in my head because the writing of Charley’s character is finally able to speak for itself and show the distinctions.

As I stated before Cookie and Charley really saved Third Grave Dead Ahead for me because with the way things were going with Reyes I was so over their ‘romance.’ My hope when it comes to these two is that they finally realize that the world doesn’t revolve around either of them outside of them being mythical creatures and that they either choose to be together or figure out a way to work together to deal with the chaos that has been hinted to coming their way.

Outside of a few character issues I thoroughly enjoyed Third Grave Dead Ahead. Quite a few scenes at the end have to go down as my favorite, especially the moment when Charley expressed to Reyes that she no longer wanted to play the never ending game between them. This was the moment I started to get what all the hype about Charley’s character was about.

Let Us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Let Us Prey by Jamie Lee ScottLet Us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott
Series: Gotcha Detective Agency Mysteries #1
Published by Tantor Audio Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

I loved the mystery of Let Us Prey, and I mean that in the most literal sense. Being a book lover myself I totally dug the murders playing out like how the author within the story wrote them (not speaking of Jamie Lee Scott, but the author character within the actual story, lol).

Mimi and Nick’s characters were so basic to me that they single handedly drug this story down. I don’t think that the narration could’ve done all that much to change my perception of them but I thoroughly enjoyed Gabra Zackman’s dramatization of Let Us Prey. Her narration really allowed you to look past the stoic and butt headed actions of Mimi and Nick, but not by much.

Let Us Prey on the mystery standpoint does a superb job of catching your attention and feeding you enough each chapter that you keep coming back for more. I will say that since Scott mixed in the romance between Nick and Mimi you might want to go the audiobook route because you might find yourself putting down Let Us Prey and forgetting where it was you laid it down at.

I hope that the other title I want to try by Scott does a better job of either balancing the romance and mystery, or simply making the romance as believable as the mystery.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. RedwineThe Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Published by Tantor Audio Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

For some reason I thought that The Shadow Queen would be more gothic and grittier than it turned out to be. I’m sure for a young adult reader it probably held these elements, but the story was tame from what I’m used to.

I appreciated the Snow White theme/trope that The Shadow Queen encompassed, but like with the Sojourney Weaver adaptation I didn’t too much care for the storyline. I don’t know, maybe the Snow White adaptations have been used to death, or I may just be over them entirely.

The characters of The Shadow Queen were pleasant enough and had enough mystery to keep them interesting, but they had basic character development. The characters weren’t really deep. But outside of this it was having Khristine Hvam as the narrator for The Shadow Queen, and the fact that there were dragons that really sold this story for me. Heck, anything with Khristine Hvam’s narration and I’m willing to try it out, and dragons almost always make a story more interesting.