Guest Review #1: The Pelbar Cycle by Paul O. Williams, reviewed by Baldr (aka Ed Hanzel)

•3 May, 2022 • Leave a Comment

I was thrilled when my last post garnered a few interested replies. Baldr and I are both in a group on Facebook devoted to the novels of Nathan Lowell (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper). He mentioned his love of The Pelbar Cycle and was kind enough to write up a short review. I asked Baldr if he’d be interested in returning to review each book more in depth at a later date, to which he has agreed, time permitting.

So, without further ado.. our first guest review:

The Pelbar Cycle is five books written by Paul O. Williams in the 1980’s.  The story take place years after an Armageddon event.  Great stories of individuals that help to bring isolated groups of people in the North American continent together again while dealing with their own struggles.

I love that the book does not use bad language, although you will hear a few “slithering snake” or “fish guts” insults.  Perfect for young readers and adults alike.

This is one of the few authors I go back and read time and time again.  If you enjoy Nathan Lowell’s Solar Clipper Ship series, you will enjoy this as well.

You can find book one of The Pelbar Cycle, The Breaking of Northwall in ebook format on Amazon and at Apple Books (and other fine book sellers I’m sure).

Thanks Baldr! Looking forward to seeing what each book in the series brings to the table.

Call for reviews!

•28 March, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Greetings all. I’m wanting to try something new. For most of it’s time in existence, View from Valhalla has been dedicated to finding stories of interest and trying to bring them to a wider audience. Occasionally, I have reviewed something other than a book, for the same reason.

Life has a way of getting busier than we’d like. I’m finding it harder to make time to create reviews these days and have been giving a lot of thought about what to do about it. I’d prefer to keep VfV alive and on mission, but I’ve decided I need a bit of help from the rest of you Asgardians.

Do you have a book, an album, a painting, a series of photos or anything else art related you’d like to help gain exposure? Then I have a deal for you.

I’m looking for guest reviewers. It can be about anything you have found interesting, or even had hoped to find interesting (not all reviews need be positive).

So, let’s talk about the rules and how to go about this:

  • If you’re reviewing something that has a beginning and an end, you need to get to the end before you review. Yes, even if it’s painful.
  • Try to find at least one thing positive (if possible). This isn’t mandatory, and if something is totally without merit in your opinion, you’re welcome to share it in a professional way.
  • No politics. This is hard and fast. If you’re wanting to review Tucker Carlson or Hilary Clinton’s newest books, please find another outlet.
  • Independent and less well known authors, artists, and artistic types have always been my preferred targets of review. This is not a hard and fast rule, but more of a suggestion. However, if you’re wanting to review the latest SuperHero movie, bring a fresh take on it if possible.
  • Provide a short bio. Each reviewer will be given (or you can choose for yourself) a Norse deity’s identity for the reviews. You can choose to identify yourself in the bio or not, but give us a bit of your personality. No, we are not playing 2 truths and a lie. I don’t care if any of it is truth. It’s a blog for Valhalla’s sake.
  • Please do not review something you had a hand in creating. If you’re the artist, author, publisher, agent, son, daughter or best friend, try to find someone that will give an honest review for you. But feel free to review someone else’s content!
  • Please email all reviews to Valhalla.
  • I, as the All Father, reserve the right to refuse any review for any reason. Yes, that does mean if you try to post positively about Twilight (in either book or film iteration) it will be denied.

I really am hoping I’ll get some people that will come play in my sandbox. I’ll try to keep the bullies from knocking down the castles made by others (in comments, etc). Hope to see you’re review soon.

Tea

•7 March, 2022 • Leave a Comment

For many years I was a hard core coffee drinker. For a time I even considered buying a commercial roaster so I could buy, mix and roast my own blends.

Somewhere, somehow, about 2 years ago, I randomly decided to have a cup of tea instead. While I enjoy the flavors of the different coffees, something about tea piqued my interest like it never had before. And down the rabbit hole I went.

First I had to find a supplier of “good” tea. I knew from the beginning boxed bags of tea that had sat on a shelf for who knows how long wasn’t going to cut it. An author friend (Nathan Lowell, some of the best books I’ve ever read came from his mind) pointed me to Adagio.

I knew that if I was going to replace coffee, I was going to need an alternative caffeine fix. I generally prefer black teas, though I do enjoy green as well. Rooibos and Pu erh ….. well, let’s just say I’m still trying to find one I like. Matcha, well, I want to like it.. I love the idea.. I keep buying it, but so far I keep dumping it.

So, what’s in my tea cabinet? A lot. Lol. If you like a good camp fire, I highly recommend Lapsang Souchong. It’s my go to and the tea I’ve probably drank the most of. I also have an apricot/ginger black tea blend that I picked up at a spice store in San Antonio that I’ve really been enjoying. It’s in my mug today.

I’d always loved the smell of earl gray, but something about the bergamot always upset my stomach. Again, I found (for me) it was all about the quality. A good loose leaf earl gray is amazing and I drink a lot of Adagio’s Bella Luna (yes, its a gimmick, but its a great tea) that is only sold on the day of the fool moon.

I also have a good apple blend black tea that reminds of me of apples and oats. It’s lovely.

Lastly, I’d be sadly lacking if I didn’t have a good jasmine tea. It’s my favorite of the greens. If you’ve never tried jasmine iced, I’d highly recommend it.

Finally, if I’m on the road (which work requires) and looking for a short cut to taking my own infusers or bags I fill myself, I usually take some sachets of Harney & Sons that I’ve picked up from one of the stores in the area. Target usually has my favorite (Hot Cinnamon Sunset) in stock. This is an amazing tea, especially since it’s a mass produced tea. Naturally sweet, and very, very full of cinnamon. It is my favorite tea to turn into a latte.

Do you have a favorite tea? How did your tea journey begin?

Book Review #138: Oblivion (Rakkan Conquest Book 1) by Andy Blinston

•12 January, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Title: Oblivion
Author: Andy Blinston
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2020
Located: Amazon
Formats Available: Audiobook, dead tree and ebook
Rating: PG for disturbing scenes of violence with several involving children

It’s been a while since I’ve added a review to the blog. It isn’t that I haven’t been reading, it’s just that I haven’t been reviewing. To be honest, many of the books that have existed on my iPad in the last year are from big name authors that have budgets for advertising and much had all ready been said about them. I mean, who really needs another Dresden review? (But seriously, if you do, let me know.. I guess I can write them up too.)

What I haven’t done lately is follow through on my inclination to read more indy published or self published authors. I believe Mr. Blinston falls into this category and I am aware that he is currently publishing on Amazon through their KDP program.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis:

Once a god.

Now a target.

They stole the greatest part of him, and he damn well wants it back. 

Waking confused on a still battlefield, Darius knows he must be a great fighter, because all around are the bodies of lesser warriors. As he gathers himself up, he has but a singular memory that haunts him. 

There’s only one more thing he knows. 

He wasn’t just a god… 

…but an assassin of gods. 

In the midst of a centuries-old war between the human empire and savage invaders, Darius finds his name uttered with terror and curses by both sides. 

How do you fight when you don’t know on which side you belong? 

Follow Darius, his loyal panther, and the secretive Alexandra in this dark fantasy series as they’re hunted by a sinister enemy who wants to finish what he started. (Stolen from the Amazon listing for the book.)

Review: I am a subscriber to the BookBub listserve. Once a day, I get an email from BookBub with book titles that are currently on sale, free or drastically reduced. The recommendations are based on my preferred reading types on their site. I was made aware of BookBub by my favorite author, (who also happens to be self published) Nathan Lowell. Mr. Blinston’s novel was suggested to me and, I admit, the cover immediately grabbed my attention. A good cover is hard to deny, and Mr. Blinston’s novels do indeed have extremely professional covers. Once I read the above synopsis, I figured it was worth the loose change in my pocket to give it a shot. I’m glad I did.

Characters: Darius is hard to peg. Without spoilers, it is safe to say, that Darius quest for identity initially makes him a bit of a blank slate. He has no passions and yet is easily angered. Initially, he’s not a sympathetic character, but regardless, I found him intriguing. Lyra, his panther, needs to have a larger role in forthcoming books, and I’ll leave it at that. Lex (Alexandra) has many secrets making it something of a chore to know whose side she is really on.

Suffice it to say, that singularly, I don’t know if any of the characters from Oblivion would rank highly with me, but as a cast, taken as a whole, I became very interested in where the story was going, and found myself routing for Darius as the novel unfolded.

Plot: I’d characterize Oblivion to be a quest driven book. However, it isn’t your normal quest, and it isn’t your normal questing party. As you travel with Darius, you’re unsure who is the hero, and whom is the villain. I truly dislike anti-heroes, so I admit to being a bit concerned at different points along the way. Darius’ quest is to find himself. The part of himself he woke up missing. I will state that I was a bit surprised with how Mr. Blinston found an ending to this first book in this series.

Recommendation: I really enjoyed Oblivion and found it read very quickly and left me wanting more. Let me speak just a bit about the “more”.

There are many storylines introduced in Oblivion that are not tied up by the final page. I sincerely hope that they are addressed by the end of the series. However, since only the first two books (Oblivion and Viridian Legion as well as a prequel short story) currently exist, I have a feeling that it might be awhile until I find out. (Yes, Viridian Legion is currently on my iPad.)

There is a feeling of the Roman Legionnaires being dropped into a fantasy world with this novel, though there is not a lot of world building. I do hope for more character study in future novels in the series, but am comfortable giving Oblivion a two out of two raven recommendation. Both Huginn and Muninn enjoyed it, though Muninn was a bit more pensive.

You can find out more about the author of Oblivion, Andy Blinston at https://andyblinston.com

Book Review #137: Imager

•4 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Title: Imager
Author: L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 2009
Located: Chirp, Amazon, Apple’s Books
Formats Available: Audiobook, dead tree and ebook
Rating: PG for suggestive content, mild violence, explosions and mischief.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love books, but hate subscriptions. Audible was a no go for me, I just couldn’t justify the cost for the return (not meaning to demean anyone that loves it. If you find it a good value, good for you!). Chirp just works better for me, especially since I limit myself to the “deal” sections. A month or so back, I picked up a book by Modesitt. I’ve enjoyed a book or two of his in the past, but was unfamiliar with the Imager series. I purchased it (at the time) for less the $5 and gave it a listen.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis:

Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master artisan-in another two years. Then, in a single moment, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager-one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real.

Rhenn is forced to leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle. Because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep) and because they are both feared and vulnerable, imagers must live separately from the rest of society. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life. He makes a powerful enemy while righting a wrong, and he begins to learn to do magic in secret. Imageris the innovative and enchanting opening of an involving new fantasy story.

Production/Narrator: The production of this audiobook is topnotch. The narration is fair.

The narration is done by William Dufris. I’ve never listened to anything read by him before. He has a surprising range and capability of doing multiple voices. The only problem I had is that I enjoyed the voices of the supporting character much more than I did his actual voice, which of course is the main character’s and the one used to narrate the story. Since voice is a personal preference, I can’t and won’t mark it down. The quality of the production from Tantor Audio is top notch and the story lasts a respectable time, coming in just four minutes under 18 hours.

Grade: A

Story: I really enjoyed Imager. More than I’ve enjoyed a mass market fantasy novel in a good long time. I don’t know what it was, the characters, the storyline itself, or the way Mr. Modesitt used the supporting characters. I’m guessing it was a bit of all of the preceding. I very much enjoyed the take on magic he uses, which he calls imaging, and the geopolitical ramifications of the nation he has created on his characters.

Grade: A

Verdict:  I really did enjoy Imager and feel comfortable giving it my highest two raven rating!

Two Ravens

 

Book Review #136: Cape Grace

•13 February, 2020 • Leave a Comment

51eY-hApO5L.jpg

Cover art

Title: Cape Grace
Author: Nathan Lowell
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Released: 2020
Located: Amazon
Formats Available: ebook, paperback coming soon
Rating: PG-13 for violence and abuse

I would be willing to bet that Nathan Lowell has been reviewed more on View from Valhalla than any other author. It isn’t because he pays me (he doesn’t) or because I count him as one of my few true friends (I do). It’s because he writes amazing stories. It is through his stories that our friendship began, but I can honestly say that if you have the chance to talk to Nathan, you’ll want to count him as a friend as well.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: When Otto Krugg’s daughter follows in his footsteps, he’s faced with the task of changing a century long rule that will force her to make decisions no one should have to make.

When Jimmy Pirano gets tasked with enforcing that rule – no matter what – he goes down the rabbit hole to try to find out who established the rule. And why they can’t let it go. (Stolen from Amazon)

Story: This is a sequel and a prequel of sorts. Nathan is most well known for his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper stories. Ishmael Wang lives and breaths in many of our hearts. If you haven’t read these books (or listened to them) I recommend you stop what you’re reading now, and go obtain a copy of Quarter Share. The rest of the series will be waiting for you. The second book in the series (Half Share) introduces us to the character of Sarah Krugg as a young adult and shares with us some of the tragedy she’s all ready experienced. Many readers I’ve conversed with have been haunted by Sarah’s story since they first encountered her.

Mr. Lowell many years ago wrote a story centered on the planet of St. Cloud, South Coast, in which we met the Krugg family, and watched the boy, Otto, that would grow to be Sarah’s father become a young man. Cape Grace finally tells us the story of the previously lost years of Sarah’s childhood.

SettingCape Grace takes place predominantly on St. Cloud, a company owned planet where all inhabitants either work for the company or are married to somone that does. If one of these two conditions are not met by the time you’re 18, you are expelled. There is one exception to this rule, and this exception drives the story.  Both South Coast and Cape Grace are centered in fishing villages along the coast of the planet. Life on the coast is comprised of hardwork and hard people.

Characters: The story revolves around Sarah and her father Otto. Both are complex beings and are dealing with issues and trials that reduced me to a quivering mass on more than one occassion. Mr. Lowell excels at writing complex characters. His characters are almost always beautifully flawed in all the right ways.

VerdictCape Grace is truly amazing. It’s painful in a way that you know it has to be, but that knowledge still doesn’t really prepare you for the reality. There will be a third book in the series, but Mr. Lowell has indicated that Sarah’s story is complete. Anyone that has read Mr. Lowell’s books can verify when I say, he never has promised us a happy ending, and this one was more bittersweet than most.

Grade: A+
Just buy it.

Disclosure: Alhtough I did beta read this story for Mr. Lowell, I did not receive this books in return for a review, and I did purchase a final copy.

Obvious self promotion: As a reminder, I will review books (in ePub or audio) provided for review, but they will be noted as such.

Review #135: Agents of the Crown (The Complete Series: Books 1-5)

•24 January, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 12.13.46 PMTitle: Agents of the Crown, Books 1-5
Author: Lindsay Buroker
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 2018-2019
Located: Audible, Amazon, Apple’s Books
Formats Available: Audiobook and ebook
Rating: PG for suggestive content, mild violence, explosions and mischief.

So, for my first review after years away from the game, I settled on the series Agents of the Crown by Lindsay Buroker. If you’re a longterm reader of View from Valhalla, you might recall I had initially discovered Ms. Buroker due to her Emerpor’s Edge series (which I do recommend). The original version of those books were released as a podcast serial and were read  by someone I was familiar with on Twitter. Boy do times change. I am no longer on Twitter (sorry, it’s morphed into something I don’t enjoy), and I am not part of the same reader/author community I was before. To say I am rusty, well, that doesn’t even remotely describe how I’m feeling. However, I am still an avid reader, and when I can afford it, still love a good story being read to me while I drive.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: In a far away kingdom, an immensely powerful soul is trapped in a jewel called a dragon tear. Whoever holds it has access to great magical power, but, as in all times and places, power is seductive and dangerous.

And, as with all trapped souls, this one wants to escape.

~

Orphaned at a young age, Zenia Cham has fought and scraped her way into a position of honor as an inquisitor for one of the city’s temples. But an even greater destiny awaits. Impressed by her deeds, the king offers her a prestigious position as one of his elite Agents of the Crown.

The missions will be dangerous, and she’s not sure she wants the partner she’s being assigned—a cocky noble lord from a wealthy estate—but she has the opportunity to distinguish herself as she serves not only the city but the entire Kingdom.

How could she say no?

There’s just one problem. The king gives her a mysterious dragon tear that’s nothing like the other magical gems she’s seen. She may need its power to stay alive in this perilous new job, but dare she rely upon it?

Production/Narrator: The production of this audiobook is topnotch.

The narration is done by Ms. Vivienne Leheny. I’ve never heard Ms. Leheny read a book before, but she does an admirable job. She does a good job of making good use of inflection rather than voice modulation in making the characters unique. What I mean by that is that Ms. Leheny does change the pitch of her voice to a degree, but leans more heavily (in my opinion) on making each character’s word pacing and diction a bit different rather than relying on pitch. I much prefer this because it is always jarring to me to hear men trying to sound like women, or women trying to sound like men. I enjoyed Ms. Leheny’s voice work quite a bit and wouldn’t hesitate in buying another book narrated by her.

The rest of the production shines as well. I don’t recall a single artifact being heard during the roughly 45 hours of audio the five books entail. (I didn’t add each one, but rather took an average of 9 hours per book. If someone wants to do that which I was too lazy to do, I’ll gladly update the review.)

Grade: A

Story: So, if you’re a fan of Ms. Buroker, you know she’s somewhat prolific. I’ve probably read 15-20 books by her in the last year (okay, listened to some too). Yes, her Emporer’s Edge is what starting me down this path, but I’ve enjoyed several of her series (not to be mentioned yet, they might be reviewed later ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). When I discovered Agents of the Crown on a severe discount several weeks ago, I went ahead and bought all five. (If you’re an Apple user, it looks like the audio version is still cheapest at Apple’s Books.) Since then, I’ve been looking for excuses to be headed down the road, as that’s when I listen to audiobooks.

Setting: The setting of the book is a fantasy world of Ms. Buroker’s creation. One issue you have when listening to a book is you’re never sure of the spellings, and in my case, even remembering the names of places is more difficult without the word recognition. However, it really doesn’t matter to me because this is my favorite kind of world. One with dwarves, elves, orcs, unicorns, trolls, ogres and (yes) dragons. Magic is not easily assessable but not necessarily rare. Firearms are used alongside swords, maces, and hammers. I very much enjoyed Ms. Buroker’s world and would love to visit. At least the human settlements.

Characters: Ms. Buroker might be faulted due to the fact that many of her characters through multiple books share many of the same characteristics. There is often an insecurity that is characteristic of at least one of the main players. Here, it is somewhat apparent in both. There is almost always a love story waiting to jump out of the pages, and Agents of the Crown is no different in that regard. However, I maintain this is only a fault if you don’t like Ms. Buroker’s characters. And this is a situation that has not been an issue for me yet. Zenia and Jevlain, Cutter and Lornish, and the ever present Ree (spellings are mine, sorry) were exceedingly fun and I enjoyed the many hours spent with them.

Plot: In the five stories told in making this series, there truly are five unique stories. Yes, they are connected in a very convincing and important way, but it isn’t one long continuous story. Each of the stories was very good and enjoyed them all. Did I have a favorite? Hmmm… I don’t know. The last, Dragon’s Tear, I enjoyed quite a bit, but it might be standing out the most because I finished it this morning.

I can say this: If you try book one, and it isn’t for you, I don’t feel you have any need to progress. However, if you enjoy it, boy howdy, you’ve got some good hours of reading/listening ahead of you.

Grade: A-

Verdict:  I really did enjoy Agents of the Crown and, along with finding my old review files, these stories were tantamount in making me decide to begin reviewing again. If you like a good fantasy/romance that is well told with sarcastic and fun characters, I have no trouble recommending Agents of the Crown.

Thanks.. and don’t forget to choose joy!

Disclosure: I did not receive these books in return for a review. I purchased them from Apple’s books at a time when they were nicely discounted.

As a reminder, I will review books (in ePub or audio) provided for review, but they will be noted as such.

Podcast Review #134: Tools and Means

•22 January, 2020 • Leave a Comment

originally published June 4, 2012

Title: Tools and Means
Author: John Mierau
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 12 March 2012 – 22 May 2012
Located: iTunes
Formats Available: podcast
Rating: R – for violence

Yup… John Mierau has put out another novella in his Serving Worlds stream on iTunes. Now, will I only review the stuff I like by John, or will I also review the stuff I hate? Read on dear friends.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Tom Brogan. An ordinary guy. With a sister in a coma. Seeing visions of a murderer. Becoming one himself…. and Tom is the hero. (Stolen from the author’s website.. and if I may say.. woefully misleading.)

Production: The production of Tools and Means is right in line with the rest of Mr. Mierau’s podcasts: quite good quality audio with the occasional repeated line (becoming fewer as time goes by) and a single piece of music to open and close each episode. Overall, John creates an environment that is conducive to listening to the story he tells.

Grade: A-

Cast: As always (or at least to date), Mr. Mierau does Tools and Means as a self read. If you’ve never listened to Mr. Mierau read one of his stories, I would have to say, I would put him in the top 5 of self read authors. He does an exceptional job of reading life into each of his characters. Authors considering podcasting their book as a self read should consider listening to Mr. Mierau read one of his stories.

Grade: A

Story: Tools and Means opens as a story that is more of a crime/serial killer novella. It actually takes a while for this one to take a speculative fiction twist. When it does, Mr. Mierau plays to his strengths and does a fine job. My one criticism of Tools and Means is that it ends a little too quickly. Tools and Means definitely sets itself up for a much larger story to follow. And it had better follow.

Grade: B+

Verdict:  As I was listening to Tools and Means, I tweeted Mr. Mierau that after the slow turning of this story into speculative fiction, I now strongly desire a story by him that doesn’t turn into spec/fic. This is a good story. I really enjoyed it and even if you are not familiar with Mr. Mierau’s work, I would recommend it to any that enjoy speculative fiction in line with Puppetmasters or similar works. To answer the opening question: would I review something of Mr. Mierau’s I hated? Sure I would. However,  Tools and Means is not that story.

Disclosure: I do follow Mr. Mierau. He’s a Canadian with a huge interest in the U.S. and writing. He’s an extremely nice guy and fun as well. As nice a guy as he is, he’s still never offered me anything in return for a review. If he did, I’d tell you here.

Podcast Review #133: Tainted Roses

•22 January, 2020 • Leave a Comment

originally published May 28, 2012

Title: Tainted Roses
Author: Mark Kilfoil
Genre: Steam science punk fiction (well you listen and come up with a better genre)
Released: 3 May 2012 – 26 May 2012
Located: iTunes, Every Photo Tells 
Formats Available: podcast
Rating: PG-13/R – for violence

I’ve been a fan of the Every Photo Tells Podcast since it’s inception. I’ve even written for it on a number of times. In fact, I’m a pseudo-member of the staff as the first line editor. However, since this story fell outside of the normal guidelines, I never read it (or heard it) until it was released. The final episode was released earlier today.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Pricilla and her mother are saboteurs and assassins. They’ve just completed a job and have stolen a ship to aid in their escape. Unbeknownst to them, the ship carries a stowaway. A young lady named Elizabeth who happens to have a unique set of talents herself. A young lady, that just happens to be the daughter of their last target. Have Pricilla and her mother gained an ally or inherited a whole new set of problems as they continue to their next job? (This synopsis was created by me. I apologize now and implore all authors to make sure your have a good synopsis for your story.)

Production: The production of Tainted Roses is good. Very good. Most of the episodes of Every Photo Tells are stand alone and contain a minimum of effects and production elements. Because Tainted Roses is a novella, the producers of Every Photo Tells (namely Mick Bordet and Katharina Maimer) are given a bit more of a story to play around and have fun on. Though not overpowering, there are a number of special effects and a new theme song that I truly hope Every Photo Tells will consider continuing with.

Grade: A

Cast: The cast for every episode of Every Photo Tells is the same and consists of the aforementioned Katharina Maimer and Mick Bordet. In Tainted Roses these two find a groove and ride it to the end. Mick, in particular, seems to have a lot of fun with the variety and number of characters he is prevailed upon to voice and both do a fine job and provide their audience with a podcast that is a pleasure to listen to.

Grade: A

Story: Mr. Kilfoil made Tainted Roses very authentic, at least in my opinion. His characters were written with an element of fun and the awkwardness of one male character reminded me greatly of .. um.. a friend I had in high school… yeah.. I’ll stick with that story.

Grade: A-/B+

Verdict:  I greatly enjoyed Tainted Roses. I am not overly familiar with Mr. Kilfoil’s writing, but I can honestly say that after having heard Tainted Roses, I am definitely looking forward to hearing/reading more from him. This story greatly combined standard science fiction with steampunk and other popular genres. I enjoyed this blending and I believe many of you will too.

Disclosure: I’m very familiar with all the parties involved with putting this story together. Ms. Maimer and Mr. Bordet are both good friends and supporters of this blog. Ms. Maimer can be found on twitter at @kmlaw, Mr. Bordet can be found @mickbordet. I met and followed Mr. Kilfoil because of Ms. Maimer and have found him to be funny and opinionated. You can follow him @encaf1. Regardless of my relationships with these people, if this story would have sucked, you would have heard it here first.

Podcast Review #132: Paraffin Winter

•22 January, 2020 • Leave a Comment

originally published May 21, 2012

Title: Paraffin Winter
Author: Peter Chowney
Genre: fiction
Released: 12 January 2009
Located: iTunesPodiobooks
Formats Available: podcast
Rating: R – for violence and adult situations

This is another podcast I picked off of Podiobooks.com site on a whim. Authors, I don’t know about others, but be aware, I will choose a book by the title. Quite possibly even over the cover art. I know.. I’m weird.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Paraffin Winter is set in the South Coast UK town of Poole in the long, cold winter of 1963. This was a time when the country was still struggling with the after effects of the war, a time of fried spam dinners, starting handles and paraffin oil stoves, a time when the population eyed each other suspiciously across the class divide. Many young men had survived the war with high hopes and experience of killing: not a happy combination. The enlightenment of the nineteen-sixties had not yet begun.

Struggling to keep their heads above the icy water, Ronnie and Jenny Delaney are getting by. But then, when Ronnie allows himself to be dragged into investigating a murder, his past catches up with him and he soon finds that he’s out of his depth, in a mire of protected interests that stretch all the way up to the Government. It’s going to take someone cleverer than Ronnie to get to the bottom of this one. And that someone is closer than he could ever have imagined …

Paraffin Winter is a book about a murder, and tracking down a killer. But it’s also about Britain in the early 1960s, about relationships, about social class, and about how everything was about to change as the 1960s unfolded. For Ronnie and Jenny, for the abandoned heroes of the second world war, for the whole of Britain, nothing would ever be the same again. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: The production of Paraffin Winter is quite good with a couple of largish exceptions, the largest being the outro music. At least to me, the music used (which is also the opening music, but there used to good effect) is faded in at a moment where the song shrieks. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one to notice as before the end the music is brought in a few bars earlier which made all the difference. I remember only one repeated line. Perhaps two. In a work this large, that is quite good.

Grade: B+

Cast: Paraffin Winter is a self read by the author. Mr. Chowney does more than an adequate job in voicing the characters in his story. He does both male and female voices in a unique way. Though I’m far from acquainted with accents of the U.K., I expect that Mr. Chowney calls some part of the London area home.

Grade: A-

Story: Paraffin Winter starts out strong with a series of events that are both macabre and challenging. The story is told in the first person perspective of Ronnie Delaney. Ronnie is a simple man that somehow becomes embroiled in the proceedings. This is unique in itself as he is a simple, undereducated delivery man. The story holds your attention and keeps moving forward; until that is, the perspective changes half way through to Ronnie’s girlfriend, Jenny. Once Jenny takes over the story, things slow down dramatically but continues until almost the very end.

Paraffin Winter is also a large story. With 27 eps, many in the 45 minute range, the listener will need to set aside a good amount of time to finish this story.

Grade: C-/D

Verdict: While the story started strong for me, the plodding quality of the plot overall makes me say give this one a pass. The second half of the story slowed the pace to a crawl. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the pending review, I might have given up on this one. Something I rarely do.

Disclosure: I’ve never conversed with Mr. Chowney in any fashion. Nothing was offered or accepted in return for this review.