Audiobook Review: Crimson City by Liz Maverick

This fall I borrowed Crimson City by  Liz Maverick read by Rebecca Rogers from the library. Crimson City is the new name for Los Angeles after a bloody war between vampires and werewolves.  A tentative truce has come into existence, and it is threatened by assassinations of high level members of the vampires.


Summary from GoodReads:

Once, this was the City of Angels. The angels are no longer in charge. From the extravagant appetites of the vampire world above, to the gritty defiance of the werewolves below, the specter of darkness lives around every corner, the hope of paradise in every heart. All walk freely with humans in a tentative peace, but to live in Los Angeles is to balance on the edge of a knife. One woman knows better than most that death lurks here in nights of bliss or hails of UV bullets. She’s about to be tested, to taste true thirst. She’s about to regain the power she’s long been denied. And Fleur Dumont is about to meet the one man who may understand her: a tormented protector who’s lost his way and all he loved.

The story is told from two points of view. Fleur is vampire royalty, but has less ranking than she should in her community because of a youthful indiscretion. Dain is a human investigator who is assigned to the case and must work with Fleur to figure out who is targeting the Vampires and by extension the truce. What I thought started out as a really good concept, ground to a halt for me as the story and romance progressed. Fleur and Dain are rather one dimensional characters that can’t step off of their stereotype soap boxes and with some very overtly misogynistic tendencies thrown in there, without any hit of mutually agreed upon bondage contractual relationships or internal reflection on whether it is right or wrong, what I was hoping was a fun urban fantasy romance disappointingly sizzles away to nothing.

It is possible future books explore the characters in more depth and their relationship comes under scrutiny, but without a solid foundation to work from I am not that interested in finding out. Though future books are written by different authors, so maybe I should.

Rebecca Rogers was a decent narrator/ voice over actor. Her voices were not all that different, but as long as I don’t hate the sound of a narrators voice, I don’t really care about voices so much. It’s not one I would go out and buy the audiobook of to listen to again and again like some of my other books, but it is hard to tell if that is because of the author or the narrator.

There were some minor characters that I actually found more engaging and the entire premise is right up my ally, so there were enough interesting things happening that I finished the book. The case solving aspect was definitely a better plot than the romance aspect was.  It’s an easy read, but not campy enough to overlook the plot holes and not engaging enough to want to find out if the characters develop into anything more than stereotypes. Which is sad, because UV bullets to kill vampires and fight scenes with creatures that can basically fly should be a story that I can wholeheartedly endorse. If you are looking for an easy read that is more about brain resting than deep analysis Crimson City is a decently written urban fantasy novel.

Read a review from Likes Books.

Webseries Review: LARPs The Series and Some Honorable Mentions

This is another webseries I found while browsing for a couple more to review. It is hosted by Geek & Sundry. [via Raindance]

Summary from their Youtube channel:

In a LARP, or live action-roleplaying game, players assume the identity of their chosen character and physically perform their actions (as opposed to simply describing them). LARPs: The Series follows a group of friends and their journey through both their imaginary and real lives.

One of the reasons I picked this series to review is because I love the thought of LARPing. How much fun! Also, as it is hosted on Geek & Sundry I figured it had to be produced fairly well, and it definitely is. Good sets, good lighting, good sound production, excellent writing, and really great acting. The music added rather than took away from each episode. I also enjoyed the bit of explanation/trivia provided at the beginning of each epsiode so that you do not need to have a great understanding of LARPing to enjoy the series.

What I really dug was that the series is about the humans behind the LARPing. While the LARP characters may be a tad overboard and poorly acted, the humans behind the LARPing were not. They were played with subtly and humor and realism. Behind every fun geeky thing, the aspect that usually pulls me in the most is the human element, the humor, the relatability of the characters. If you like comedy, relatability, and geekisms in your webseries, definitely check this one out.

The first episode is below.

Honorable Mentions:

“Night Time with Harvey O’King” by Matt Wisniewski. This was not my cup o’ tea as I am not into weird horror puppetry, but someone out there might be. Have at it!

“Bun In The Oven” by Chris Weir about a boy who meets a girl who can’t find adoptive parents for her baby so the boy tries to sell the baby. There was some good humor bits, but not enough substance behind the characters to keep my interest. However, some of you may like the humor bits and they are not long episodes.

The Jolly Rogers Case Files” by Melissa Malone. If you enjoyed the Peter Pan webseries earlier this week, check out their other webseries that “follows Jane Hook & her team in misadventures in ghost hunting.”

Power Couple” by Andy Kushnir. The writer of Through the Door has another series about a “couple that runs a charity for the blind but terrorizes their employees.”

And here is a link to 10 Webseries You Should be Watching in 2015.

Webseries: Written It Down

I found this gem while searching for more webseries to enjoy. I watched the first season which is a series of couples breaking up, unscripted. It is a riot. [via Raindance]

Summary from their YouTube Channel:

“Delivering bad news is hard to do… especially when you don’t know what it is”

A completely unscripted new comedy show that puts two people in the ultimate uncomfortable situation without any idea where it’s going to go next.

In each episode a couple sits down and one of them reads a piece of paper with the reason for the break-up and the scene begins. It is comedy improv at its best. The improv actors know their craft and they know how to play off of each other. Each of the episodes had me laughing, but I guess my favorite was the third couple. You can watch it below. I just wish that at least one of the couples had been LGBT, like the Chicago series I reviewed yesterday.

Since each scene is in a public place, all they needed was access to a couple of cafes and pubs. Each setting is a little different, but familiar, in the way that cafes and pubs usually have familiar settings. The lighting is good and the sound production is as well. I liked the music intro into and exiting the scene helped segue the comedy.

With each episode only about four or five minutes and only five episodes in the first season you can breeze through it quickly with a lot of laughs.

Webseries Review: Through the Door

In August I was contacted by Andy Kushnir writer for the webseries “Through the Door.” Andy is located in Chicago and all the actors are from the local comedy/improv schools. How could I not be interested in a series that stars people from Second City. I still remember with great fondness my own time spent there.

“Through the Door” is a series about “those foot-in-mouth moments that take place in every relationship. Each episode highlights a different couple who get into an argument resulting in one of them locking themselves in the bathroom. The meat of the episode takes place as the two work through their problem, Through the Door.”

I thought this was a clever concept. Each scene takes place in an apartment building and all they really needed for the sets were a bathroom and a hallway. Can I just take a minute here to say how much I really really miss Chicago apartments. They are full of crannies, weird entry ways, real wood floors, and steam heaters. I miss my Chicago apartment on a daily basis. It had FRENCH DOORS! Texas is full of high ceilings, laminate floors, and carpet. So much carpet. Besides the nostalgia, I thought the apartment sets were a great idea, it meant having only six homes to film in. The shots taken in the bathrooms were cleverly done and interesting, I was afraid a shot of a person in a bathroom would get old, but it did not. The light and sound production was very good, to the extent I didn’t really notice it except to note I should make a point of saying so in my review.

But the best part was each and every couple and their dilemma. The writing was excellent, the acting really great, and I laughed every single episode. Such mundane little moments that show how people use laughter in their relationships to get over those bumps in the road. My favorite episodes were four and six and not just because they were LGBTQ inclusive. Dance recitals are the worst, though admittedly not as bad as Sound of Music remakes. Snide comments at parties are hard to take back and can be demoralizing and don’t help with anti-social tendencies.

If you want a laugh, check out “Through the Door.” With each episode lasting only about five minutes it wont take you long to get through all six . You can watch the first episode below and all of them here.

Wings – Episode One from Andy Kushnir on Vimeo.


Webseries Review: i can’t even

In August I received an email from Wendy, publicist for the “i can’t even” webseries about  “[o]ne apartment, two friends, and an exponential number of fandoms to argue about.”

Um, yes, please.

From the first this series made me laugh.  Louise Cox and Tiana Hogben, who star in the series, have great comedic timing. Every singe episode had me chuckling to myself until their were tears in my eyes.

“I’ve seen you talking to your Benedict poster.”

Their friendship is awesome and that they can live together and still be geeky friends is such a great model. They help each other out, when they can get through the fog of  obsession, and they share an interest in the geekdom while building each other up and supporting that interest.

The subject matter, background production, and sets ring true and add to every scene. I love the set up of all the different fandom posters and paraphernalia in the girl’s apartment.  Even the girls’ wardrobe is geeky. The homages to all the different fandoms are inclusive and wonderful. The lighting and sound production are really good and I thought the sound effects added to the production value of the series.

With 6 episodes on YouTube at only about 5 minutes an episode you can watch the entire series and it will go by as quickly as reading your favorite book on a rainy Saturday afternoon and leave you wanting more. Like, I really really want the second series, now.

Honestly, they had me at the Australian accents. This series is  just… I can’t even.

Ok. I had to do that. ;)

Geek lovers, dorks, and nerdy book worms, or people who love a good roommate comedy should check out this webseries! You can find out more about it by checking out their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts or read an article about the writer  and co-writer Alyce Adams here.   Watch the episode below, you wont be sorry.


Webisode Review: Or So the Story Goes: Happy Thoughts

**I thought I had scheduled this for yesterday, but I had put in the wrong date!**

Back in May I received an email from Melissa Malone asking me to review “Or So the Story Goes: Happy Thoughts”. Unfortunately, that is when my life started getting so super busy I couldn’t keep up with reviews on this site. Each year I get about 8 to 10 requests to review webseries, which I absolutely love to do. It’s definitely fun to get to preview series before they go onto the web, and I enjoy helping people out by sending my review out into the blogosphere. But, as this is a hobby of mine, I don’t often get to the reviewing processes right away.

Melissa’s email was intriguing. She wrote:

 I’m the creator of Or So the Story Goes, a young adult webseries that puts a dark modern twist on classic children’s tales. This season we are bringing to the web a dark Peter Pan with Happy Thoughts. The total runtime, however is 70 minutes, giving us the opportunity to display Happy Thoughts as a feature film, as well. Our project began as an outreach program to teach the teens of our town, here the ins and outs of filmmaking and has blossomed into a project that uses the combined efforts of adults and teens alike to make it happen. Not only do we have many talented child & teen cast members, but also a 13 Year Old assistant director as well as three teen musicians included in our soundtrack.

How could I not be interested and hopeful that this was a webseries for which I could give a good review? What a wonderful project!

Summary of the Story via Or So the Story Goes :

After a rocky year, the Darling family moves cross-country for a fresh start.  Little do they know their new home is already occupied by the ghosts of a charming yet homicidal teenage boy named Peter and his previous victims. Peter’s quick obsession with the oldest daughter Wendy puts the family at grave risk. This brings a band of ghost hunters to the Darling’s door, lead by a vengeful leader sought on ridding the ghost that destroyed her life. Time is ticking and it’s anyone’s game.

This story is quite a unique perspective on the Peter Pan tale. It is very dark and might be a bit of a trigger for some people. It does not get graphic, but it is does have scenes where children get hurt. However, I thought going to the dark side of the Peter Pan story was completely brilliant. It better explains why Peter does what he does and how he finds the Lost Boys. It makes so much sense that I’m not sure why I never really connected the dots before.

The story line is brilliant, but they definitely could have used some more money for a better production value. The lighting is not always the best, especially inside. Some of the music fits like a glove and works with the scene and some of it not so much. I did enjoy that there were a lot of different rooms/venues used for the flashback scenes and the main story arc. I thought that was quite impressive and better than a lot of webseries do. The acting of the main actors was quite good, some of the minor characters came across as acting, but for a webseries with a lot of kids, it was better than I expected.

The series has more than a couple of one liners that made me smile or chuckle. My favorite line from one of the ghost hunters is: Paranormal is so in.

You are so right Percy, you are so right.

Fans of fairy tale retellings, ghost hunter stories, and the Supernatural fandom would enjoy this webseries. Check out the first episode below.

Audio Book Review: Floors by Patrick Carman

I was looking for a fun light read, and after browsing through the children’s mystery section at my library ebooks/audiobook website I settled on Floors by Patrick Carman narrated by Jesse Bernstein.

Floors, Patrick Carman

Summary from GoodReads:

The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Leo should know most of them – he is the maintenance man’s son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him . . . boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake . . . and so is Leo’s own future!

I really enjoyed this book. I’m a big fan of books that revolve around children exploring a particular place. One of my favorites is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Floors has a lot of similarities to The Mixed-Up Files.  First, the child protagonist is relatable. In The Mixed-Up Files, Claudia runs away from home because she feels misunderstood by her parents. Like Claudia, Leo’s motivation for his adventures  is understandable. He desires to help his father keep his job at the hotel.

Secondly, the child protagonist has a sense of adventure and wonder that helps keep my own alive. In The Mixed-Up Files Claudia chooses to runaway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City because she wants to live in a place of beauty and wonder. When she discovers a mystery at the museum she can’t help but be drawn in by her natural curiosity. In the same way, Leo is drawn into a mystery in the Whippet Hotel a place of full of strange curiosities because he can’t let a cryptic box puzzle go unsolved.

Which leads into my third point, that the child protagonist in each story uses practical resources at their disposal to solve the mystery. In the Mixed-Up Files Claudia and her brother go bathing in a wishing well to pick up coins and use them to buy necessities, and after hours sneak around the museum searching for clues. In Floors, Leo uses his new found ally and his knowledge of the hotel to solve puzzles and search for clues without getting caught.

Jesse Bernstein is a fine narrator. He has narrated a lot of children’s and young adult books and his voice lends itself to that wonder and sense of adventure. Some of his voices were not that distinguishable, but that did not hinder my enjoyment of the book.

If you want a decent mystery (that you will probably figure out some of) set in a place of wonder, strange happenings, and full tilt excitement, check out Floors by Patrick Carman.