Random (but not really)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

You Want to Spend Money on WHAT?!

There are not words strong enough for me to describe how I feel about this: Three delegates want to divert $10 million from WV surplus to fund border wall.

I love West Virginia.

But this? This is despicable.

Idiot 1, R-Upshur, Idiot 2, R-Lewis, and Idiot 3, R-Webster

First of all, this is no more and no less a political game.

Second, WV is struggling so much, the idea of throwing away money on ANYTHING that doesn’t directly benefit the state enrages me.

Let’s take a look at just a couple of things the state could be spending money on.


Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/

Here are the numbers for the five states at the bottom of that list.

Colorado 46,506
West Virginia 45,701
Oklahoma 45,245
Mississippi 42,925
South Dakota 42,668

Here we see how WV compares to the surrounding states:

Maryland 66,961
Pennsylvania 65,863
Ohio 57,000
Kentucky 52,339
Virginia 51,049
West Virginia 45,701

See also: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wv.htm#25-0000, https://www.wvea.org/content/goal-set-starting-teacher-salaries-west-virginia


Let’s move on.


Last year I ranted about high speed internet access .

These numbers are the percent citizens in the selected counties with access to broadband internet.
Pocahontas = 0%
Calhoun = 0%
Ritchie = 14.0%
Clay – 16.7%
Monroe = 17.9%
Barbour 21.4%

That’s right. We have two counties where there is NO ACCESS AT ALL to high speed internet.

You can go to my original post for the sources and data.


Moving along again.


You may remember I’ve also ranted about the number of food deserts in WV. The data in that post was from 2017, so it’s about two years out of date. Unfortunately, I can’t update it because of the government shutdown means much of my source data is currently inaccessible, but here’s what I found.

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

Here’s a more recent articles about food deserts in WV:
In McDowell County ‘food desert,’ concerns about the future


Let’s continue further.


One of the things I will go on about are the roads in WV.

Here are the “major” roads in WV. The heavy green and red lines are our interstates.

The rest of those highways are anything from four lane divided highways to two lane roads with 11% grades and hairpin turns. (Note the significant amounts of area without interstates or highways.)

Outside of those “major” roads?

Well, I’ve mentioned them before. The GPS Really Is Trying TO Kill Us, Traveling WV: The GPS Really Is Trying To Kill You

Also: ‘Enough is enough’ say advocates for better W.Va. road maintenance


One final thing (for now).


Lots of people heard about the crisis when the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water in 2015.

Thing is, in many areas of WV, lack of safe drinking water is a way of life, rather than a one time event.

Today, an estimated $17 billion is needed to correct water infrastructure challenges for all of West Virginia, per the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council, a state agency that serves as a clearinghouse for funding on infrastructure projects. That figure is almost four times the state’s entire budget for 2018.

Stirring the Waters: In Southern WV, days without water are a way of life

$17 billion so all of WV can have access to clean drinking water.

Here’s an excerpt from a WV DEP report on streams and rivers in WV:

(There are currently) 1,142 impaired stream segments, covering approximately 5,091 stream miles that are impaired…

The most common criteria violations in West Virginia streams in order of total stream miles are:
Fecal coliform
Total iron (warmwater)
Biological impairment, as determined through application of the West Virginia Stream Condition Index
Dissolved Aluminum

Why is stream and river health important? Because here in WV, that’s where our drinking water comes from. Here’s a bit from our water company on where my water comes from.

In 2016, MUB produced 3.67 billion gallons of drinking water, an average of 10.868 million gallons per day. The main source of drinking water for the Morgantown area is surface water from the Monongahela River, which supplied 75.7 percent of the area’s drinking water. The remaining 24.3 percent of our raw water supply was taken from the Cobun Creek reservoir.

And I’ll give you three guesses as to where our treated sewage goes.

Here’s another article on drinking water in WV:
Millions consumed potentially unsafe water in the past 10 years

So, here in WV we have underpaid teachers. Many areas WV lacks the roads for industry and manufacturing to be willing to move here. Significant stretches of the state are food deserts and lack access to safe tap water. And we didn’t even get to the opioid crisis.

All that? THAT’S why we lack jobs and economic growth.

You want to fix WV? Improve education. Build roads and infrastructure. Fix the water supply. Until those things happen, we’ll remain at the bottom. And with the ideas of the Republicans currently in power, that won’t be happening any time soon.

Written by Michelle at 10:38 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Books of 2018: STATISTICS!


If you aren’t a tremendous geek, it’s probably best if you look away now.

I read 205 books this year. Less than last year, but this is still only the second year I’ve broken the 200 mark.

Here the ridiculous chart I maintain solely for my amusement.

Those high points tended to be when I was sick, since when I’m ill generally all I want to do is lie on the sofa and read.

It is an utterly insane chart, which is why I find it so amusing.

Next up, the type of book.

Trade Paperback: 7
eBook: 148
Audio: 50
Total: 204
Multiple Formats: 46
Re-read: 94
% Re-Read: 46%

I listened to quite a few audio books this year–a quarter of the total. You can also see that I read almost no paper books–the ones I did read tended to be part of a series where I’ve gotten only part of the series as eBooks, and couldn’t find the books I still own only in paper on Overdrive.

I also had a LOT of re-reads this year, however, part of that is because I cannot listen to a fiction book for the first time. I can only listen to fiction I’ve already read. (This is mostly due to my rule that I have to be moving to listen to an audio book, either exercising or cleaning or cooking.)

I’d like to also note the “multiple formats” category. This is a story that I own in one or more formats, generally either paper and ebook or ebook and audiobook (although in some cases I own a book in all three formats).

This is mostly to point out my frustration of having to purchase an electronic copy of a book I already own as a paper book. I love re-reading books, but I am not going to pay $7.99 for an electronic copy of a book I already own a paper copy of. I’m just NOT. So it frustrates me that there is once again no way to get a cheaper eBook when I already own a paper copy.

Just a pet peeve.

Fantasy: 95
Mystery: 90
Romance: 72
YA: 12
Comic: 7

Genre-wise, things were relatively evenly split between fantasy and mystery. And no, that series is larger than the total number of books I read this year, because books often fall into two categories.

Male: 53
Female: 118
Joint + Anthology: 9
Initials: 12
Male Pseudonym: 13
Female Total: 70%

In finally, the apparently contentious topic of the gender of the author.

Including male pseudonyms and books published under initials (which can hide the gender of the author) 70% of the books I read were written by women.

If I ever get really bored, I’ll create a cross reference for gender by genre, but I have yet to feel that masochistic.

I like to point this out, however, because although I read quite a few romances this year, they account for only a quarter of the books I read. Which means that the other 35% of the books written by women were fantasies or mysteries.

So don’t even think about giving me that “there are no women writing good SFF” crap, because it is obviously false.

And there you have it! My year in books!

My favorite YA books of 2018
My favorite audio books of 2018
My favorite paranormal romance books of 2018
My favorite romance books of 2018
My favorite fantasy books of 2018
My favorite mystery books of 2018

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Categories: Books & Reading  

The Books of 2018: Fantasy

Fred, the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014)(8/10), Undeath & Taxes (2015)(8/10), Bloody Acquisitions (2016)(8/10), Deadly Assessments (2018)(8/10)

Frederick the accountant was as surprised as anyone else to discover himself a vampire. He had none of the qualities one expects from pop culture as a vampire, and was, in fact quite happy being an accountant. So that’s what he kept doing after being turned.

I recorded my journeys in the hopes that, should another being find themselves utterly depressed at the humdrum personality still saddling their supernatural frame, they might find solace in knowing they are not the only one to have felt that way.

This is just fun series. Fred is a total nebbish, but he’s also totally okay with being himself, which is awesome.

He does change over the course of the series, but it’s not because he wants to become cooler, but because he wants to help protect his friends better. It’s lighthearted and fun and very enjoyable.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017)(8/10), The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018)(9/10) by Mackenzi Lee

The first book is a YA coming of age, as Monty is sent on a Grand Tour with his best friend Percy (with whom he has been in love for years) and told that if he can’t straighten himself up, he shouldn’t bother to come home, since his father has a new heir.

I had trouble getting into the first book, because Monty initially felt like a spoiled brat, until you discover just why he drinks and carouses so much.

The second book is about Felicity, Monty’s sister, who wants more than anything to become a doctor; except that women aren’t allowed to become doctors or surgeons.

It’s also a story of misunderstandings and acceptance and fighting for what you want.

Both books are wonderful.


The Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan

Voyage of the Basilisk (2015)(8/10), In the Labyrinth of Drakes (2016)(8/10), Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017)(9/10)

I’d had the Lady Trent series on my wish list for a couple years. I finally got the first book, and used gift cards for the next several, then just broke down and bought the last.

This series has some of THE most beautiful covers I have every seen. But beside that, it’s a marvelous story, set in a universe that is similar to the world after the Napoleonic wars, but still quite different, since the world has dragons.

Lady Trent grew up wanting to know about dragons, but education wasn’t something girls were truly allowed to have, since they were expected to marry and breed more ladies and gentlemen. This is the story of how Lady Trent became a natural historian, traveled the world, and generally turned things upside down in her search for knowledge about dragons.

It’s delightful and marvelous and doesn’t shy away from subjects that are of importance to female adventurers.


Firebug (2014)(8/10), Freaks & Other Family (2016)(8/10), Pyromantic (2017)(9/10) by Lish McBride

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Lish McBride, yet I’d get a new book and I’d hold off reading it because OMG WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT??!!!

Reader, I am an idiot.

Freaks & Other Family follows the characters from the Necromancer series.

Firebug is a series following Ava, who has the unfortunate power of being able to set things on fire. This is unfortunate not just because a failure of control means she can burn down her home, but because the women in control of the local supernaturals likes to use Firebugs to punish those who don’t follow her orders.

It’s technically the same world as the Necromancer series, but there is no overlap of characters.

It is lovely however.

Pyromantic is the sequel to Firebug, and resolves the issues left open at the end of that story.


Sixth Watch (2015/2016) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield (8/10) [Night Watch]

This is the final book of the Night Watch series. Definitely and irrevocably the final book of the series.

I love this series, and regularly re-read it because it’s fun and generally perfect for when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read.

Arkady, who had only recently started working in the Watch, used to be a schoolteacher. And, exactly as his new colleagues expected, he claimed that hunting vampires was far easier than teaching physics in tenth grade.

If you think that a six-year-old child is nothing compared to an adult, then you’ve never been assaulted by thirty preschool children.

This is, as I said, the final book. Nadia is growing up, and she’s done very well as a teenager. Also, now that Sveta is no longer spending all her time protecting Nadia, she has redeveloped a stronger personality.

It was a good and satisfying ending to the series.


The Myth Manifestation (2018) Lisa Shearin (8/10) [SPI Files]

Our world is populated by a greater variety of creatures than we might imagine, from vampires and werewolves to goblins and dwarves and all variety of creatures considered mythical. For these creatures to hide in plain sight, a treaty was hammered out 100 years earlier, to keep fights that existed on their home worlds from boiling over here, and to make sure that these creatures remain hidden from most humans.

This is another fun series.

Mac is a seer, which means her superpower gives her little-to-no protection against monsters, so she has learned to run away from danger when she can. I LOVE THIS ABOUT HER. She’s not a wimp, she just knows her limitations.

She also has a handsome partner with whom she is NOT romantically involved. I also adore this.

Plus, she’s very southern, and remains a bit of a shock to her NYC colleagues.

But mostly it’s just a very fun series.


Dreams Underfoot (1993) Charles de Lint (8/10)

This was the first Charles de Lint collection I came across, and I immediately fell in love. I like his novels, but I really love his Newford story anthologies. I’ve been waiting for awhile for this book to come out on kindle–when it did I snatched it up.

Dreams Underfoot is a short story collection, and almost all the stories are set in Newford, the mythical northern town, where the seams of the world between the mundane and the magical are thinner than they are elsewhere.

Dreams Underfoot is the introduction to many of the characters who populate Charles de Lint’s later stories and books: Jilly Coppercorn, Sophie Etoile, Geordie and Christie Riddell, Meran and Cerin Kelledy, the Angel of Grasso street, Maisie and Tommy. These are characters you’ll meet again, some of whom get their own books, some of whom drop from sight, appearing later only in passing.


By the Sword (1991) Mercedes Lackey (8/10)

It’s been decades since I last read this book. Partially because I haven’t been much in the mood for straight-up fantasy, partially because I didn’t have it as an ebook, and partially because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memories of it.

So, how did the story hold up? Much better than I feared. The things I loved about the story are just as I remember them, first and foremost how sensible the more mundane parts of war and training are presented.


The Raven King (2016) Maggie Stiefvater (9/10) [Raven Boys]

I’d pre-ordered this book, and then put off reading it because I didn’t really want to series to end. So I decided I should just re-read the entire series so it’d all be fresh in my mind when I read the final book.

I really adore this series. The main characters are teenagers, four of whom go to an elite private school, and one of whom is the daughter of a psychic who lives in a house of psychics, yet who has no psychic ability of her own.

My favorite character of the series ended up being the character I didn’t like at all in the first book. Ronan is extremely complicated, and was struggling with discovering his father’s body and the inheritance of his family.

Yeah, the other characters are also wonderful, but I adore Ronan.


The Books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Mystery

The Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber

This Side of Murder (2017)(8/10), Treacherous Is the Night (2018)(8/10)

I’ve read quite a few books this year set after The Great War, and it really is a fascinating time period. Although the war changed the world, people were still trying to pretend that everything could go back to normal. There were also tremendous technological advances as the world changed at a pace that would have been more startling if people weren’t really still in shock over the horror of the war. ?

Verity Kent married right before her husband went off to the front, and they had only a couple of long leaves before he was killed. Her work for the war department kept her busy–especially since she occasionally acted as a courier as well as an analyst–but now the war is over she doesn’t know what to do with herself, and is unsure she wants to attend a house party thrown by her late husband’s friends.

And then it gets complicated.

I really like the post WWI setting.


The Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber

A Study in Death (2015)(9/10), As Death Draws Near (2016)(8/10)

Lady Darby is the widow of an anatomist who married her only because of her artistic skills–he forced her to watch his dissections and draw what he showed her, and after his death, when her work came out, she was shunned by society (even though women at the time had no recourse as to how they were treated by their husbands).

Her knowledge of anatomy has led her become involved in attempting to solve several murders, and eventually she married she Inquiry agent Sebastian Gage, and is slowly returning to society.

The mysteries are very good, and this historical period, the 1830s, is also fascinating to me. (OK, I admit it, I tend to be fascinated by historical mysteries in any period.)


Gilded Deceit (2017) Tracy Grant (8/10) [Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch]

Another historical mystery series that is amazingly complicated. Luckily there is a cast of characters to help you keep everyone straight.

Suzanne was a spy for Spain, and during the war, at the encouragement of her handler and lover, met and married Malcolm, an English spy and attache. Who had known Malcolm since childhood.

And it gets far more complicated from there.

Some of the later novellas I don’t like nearly as well as the earlier books, but they’re all fascinating, and I love the way the family lives of the characters are part of the story.


Lady Helena Investigates (2018) Jane Steen (8/10)

Lady Helena Whitcombe survived the death of her first love, and now she must get past the accidental death of her husband. Except that her husband’s doctor doesn’t think the drowning was an accident, but a murder.

This is a lovely story of a woman coming into herself after the death of her husband. It’s sweet and I very much enjoyed it.


The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories (2015) Ian Rankin (8/10) [Inspector Rebus]

Rebus is an Inspector in Edinburgh, but having been in the Special Forces, never quite integrated well into society. He’s divorced, troublesome, and a heavy drinker.

He’s also a brilliant detective, which is why they put up with him, but it’s frequently a close call, and he regularly gets in trouble.

One of the things I particularly like about this series is the Rebus ages with the books, and is eventually forced into mandatory retirement. Also, his drinking isn’t a quirk, but a struggle that he sometimes wins and sometimes loses.

The books tend to be very dark, but the stories in this collection are a little lighter, and a good introduction to the character.


Why Kill the Innocent (2018) C.S. Harris (8/10) [Sebastian St. Cyr]

I’ve been reading this series since I came across the first book, and I really love it.

Sebastian St Cry was a third son, and as such went off to fight in the Napleanic war, but after he accidentally becomes the heir, he is forced to come home and pretend to act the part.

Unfortunately, what he saw and did in the war still troubles him, and he spends most of his time carousing. At least until he is accused of murder.

Sebastian is complicated, and as more and more of his past comes to light over the course of the series, he gets all the more fascinating. He’s changed slowly but significantly over the course of the series, and that’s one of the best parts of the series, although the mysteries are also excellent.


The Books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Romance

I believe that all of these are boinking books. Which means that I really liked the writing to have read multiple books by the same author in the same series.


Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1994)(8/10)

This is an older book, but it was so fun I couldn’t leave it out.

This book opens with a glimpse of the childhood of Lord Dain. Which is the only thing that lets you tolerate his behavior towards… pretty much everyone.

Jessica Trent wants to remove her brother from the circle of Lord Dain before he loses all the family money and leaves her with nothing. So she does her best to convince Dain.

Dain may be a complete jerk, but she generally has the upper hand.

(discussing a miniature of the Virgin Mary) “And she’s almost smiling. Usually they look exceedingly unhappy.”

“Cross, Miss Trent. They look exceedingly ill tempered. I suppose it’s on account of being virgins— of experiencing all the unpleasantness of breeding and birthing and none of the jolly parts.”

“Speaking on behalf of virgins everywhere, my lord,” she said, leaning toward him a bit, “I can tell you there are a host of jolly experiences. One of them is owning a rare work of religious art worth, at the very minimum, five hundred pounds.”

Dain is a complete jerk, which makes the back and forth between the two all the more wonderful.

Bewitching Benedict (2017) C.E. Murphy (8/10)

This is an historical romance along the lines of Georgette Heyer, with twists and turns and conniving aunts with fortunes and war heroes etc.

It’s a fun romp.


The Haverston Family series by Alissa Johnson

Nearly a Lady (2011)(8/10), An Unexpected Gentleman (2011)(8/10), Practically Wicked (2016)(8/10)

These are three stories of impoverished young women trying to do the best for their families.

I like that there were misunderstandings between the couples, but they were dealt with by (of all things) talking out the problem. Most of the issues were because the women wanted to keep their families safe, and didn’t trust the men to do so.

I also liked that when there were kids, they were written as… kids.

The only whirlwind was George, who strenuously objected to having to bathe and wear Sunday clothes on a Friday and made his displeasure known by leaping out of the tub and streaking about the house while screeching at the top of his lungs like a soapy, irate piglet.

I really love Alissa Johnson’s writing–she writes realistic characters with realistic problems (even if the solution of rich and handsome eligible men seems like it would be finite.


Band Sinister (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

Like other KJ Charles, this is a M/M romance, however, there is also a secondary romance with the sister.

Although there is boinking, there is far less than usual for a KJ Charles.

And like most KJ Charles books, there is a varied cast of characters, including men of color, one of whom is a freed slave.

It’s a sweet story, and I really enjoyed it.


The Sins of the City series by K.J. Charles

An Unseen Attraction (2017)(9/10), An Unnatural Vice (2017)(8/10)

An Unseen Attraction is the first KJ Charles book I read, and although I was a bit taken aback by the amount of boinking, I adored the fact that the main character, Clem Tallyfer, was complicated–he was a bastard, a child of rape, barely acknowledged by his family, and struggling not only with his Indian heritage but also with what struggles to make sense of social interactions.

The three books all revolve around his family, and then men who become involved in the entanglements of Clem’s half-brother. Which meant there was a fair amount of mystery (which of course I liked).


The Society of Gentlemen series by K.J. Charles

A Fashionable Indulgence (2016)(8/10), A Seditious Affair (2016)(8/10)

This series is about a group of friends who have an exclusive society–partially because they are friends and partially because they all could be hung or prosecuted for sodomy.

I did not read this series in order–I read A Seditious Affair which fascinated me because one of the men is struggling with his desires to be dominated, and how his best friend struggles to accept those needs.

The two men are extremely different–a lord and a writer of seditious pamphlets who both love books and literature.

One of the things I very much like about KJ Charles books is that these relationships have additional struggles in that their relationships are illegal–they cannot openly display their affections, which makes it even more difficult to have a relationship.

That aspect makes the stories even more fascinating.


Unfit to Print (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

This is a stand alone story.

Gil is the son of a wealthy man and that man’s housemaid, but unlike many, Mr Lawes claimed his son, despite his dark skin. Unfortunately, after his father’s death Gil was thrown out by his half-brother.

Vikram has been a lawyer for years, fighting (often for free) for the poor and dispossessed–much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to represent his people, perhaps in the house of Commons.

The two men had been best friends in school, but after the death of Gil’s father, hadn’t seen each other again. When Vikram is asked to find a missing boy who worked the streets to help support his family, he discovers that one of the sellers of prurient materials who might have a lewd photograph of the missing boy is none other than his long lost friend.

I very much liked the mystery, but what I like best about KJ Charles books is how she focuses upon the people who were present but invisible to much of society because of their color or nationality as well as their poverty.


Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances (2017) Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole (8/10)

This is a trio of novellas set during the revolutionary war, and revolving around Alexander Hamilton, in that his wife is collecting stories of those times.

These are LGBTQ romances, as you can tell by a close look at the cover.

If you’ve not read any of the authors (I’d only read Courtney Milan) this book is a great introduction, with three very good stories.


The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017)(8/10) and The Ruin of a Rake (2017)(8/10) by Cat Sebastian

The thread that ties these two books together is Simon, Lord Radonor’s acknowledged son.

The first book is about Lord Radnor and the confidence man who ends up his secretary (because he’s fled London) and ends up making Lord Radnor pay attention to his son–and the rest of the world.

The second book is about Simon’s uncle, who is such a notorious rake that even Lord Radnor (who is as oblivious as they come) wants Lord Courtenay to stay as far away from Simon as possible, and the son of a businessman who has struggled to become accepted by proper society.

The fact that Courtenay’s primary goal is to make sure Simon is safe and loved is why I wanted Courtenay to be happy. The second fact that the man who ended up being his partner was incredibly unlikable made me fascinated.

The Books of 2018

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Books of 2018: Audio Books

Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater and narrated by Will Patton

The Dream Thieves (2013)(10/10), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (2014)(10/10), The Raven King (2016)(10/10)

I love this series, and I am delighted that Will Patton did an excellent job of narrating the series. There were a lot of southern accents here, as well as a British accent, and some non-Southern accents.

It does come out in later books that Blue’s mother is from southern WV, and he doesn’t get that accent, but that’s ok, because it’s a very specific accent and only WVians would know when it’s not quite right.

There are four different teenage boys, and the three women in Blue’s life, plus other characters, and it was always very clear who was speaking. It wasn’t just Adam’s accent making him different, but Roman’s brash growling, and Noah’s soft passivity.

It’s an excellent job on an excellent series.


The Rook (2012) by Daniel O’Malley narrated by Susan Duerden (9/10), Stiletto (2016) also by Daniel O’Malley and narrated by Moira Quirk (9/10)

I absolutely adored these books, and I was pleased to discover that I also enjoyed the audio versions–even if they two books had different narrators.

These books also had a lot of characters, and both narrators did a good job of giving various characters unique voices. And for a British narrator, the American accents weren’t awful. (It’s funny, I can’t place various British accents, but I do catch that different regions and classes have different accents. Which is why it always amuses me that so many Brits utterly fail to get an American accent–it’s always something general that definitely isn’t British, but also belongs to no region of the US.)


The Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter and narrated by Khristine Hvam

Cold Reign (2017)(8/10), Cat o’ Nine Tales (2013)(9/10)

I really love her narration of Faith Hunter’s books.

There are not a lot of female characters in this series, but there are a LOT of male characters, and it wasn’t until I listened to another female narrator muddle all the male characters that I realized just how good of a job she does with this series.

And no, I haven’t listened to the most recently Jane book. I wanted to wait a bit–possibly close to the release of the next Jane book, which doesn’t even have a release date.


Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014) Patricia Briggs narrated by Alexander Cendese and Lorelei King (9/10)

This is an odd one. I don’t dislike Lorelei King’s narration, but she doesn’t do a great job of making all the male voices distinctive. But I really liked Alexander Cendese’s turns in these stories (far far more than the normal narrator for the Alpha & Omega series actually).


New Watch (2012/2014) by Sergei Lukyanenko, translated by Andrew Bromfield, narrated by Paul Michael (8/10) [Night Watch]

The first time I listened to the first book in this series, I had trouble with the fact that the dialog was done with accents, but narration was in an American accent. That was just really weird, but I did get used to it.

Aside from that quirk, I really enjoyed the narration of this series, even liking the narration of the first story in the second book better than reading it, because I found it a difficult story to read.


The Spenser series by Robert B. Parker and narrated by Burt Reynolds

Small Vices (1997)(9/10), Hush Money (1999/2000) [WARNING: The production and transfer to digital on this are awful. Truly terrible.] (8/10)

Small Vices is the reason I started reading the Spenser series, and Burt Reynold’s narration convinced me that maybe I might actually like fiction audio books.

In retrospect, after listening to other narrators read the Spenser books, I’m even more impressed with Burt Reynold’s. Some of the other narrators were so awful I absolutely couldn’t listen to them, and ended up re-reading rather than listening. Luckily those were books I borrowed from the library rather than purchasing.

I do want to note that the quality of Hush Money really is terrible. The narration is fine, but the transfer from tape / CD to digital is utterly horrible and decreased my enjoyment of the book.


The Nightside series by Simon R. Green and narrated by Marc Vietor

Hex and the City (2005/2008)(8/10), Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth (2006/2008)(9/10)

This is another British series with a British narrator, and I enjoyed the audio version, but when Michael wandered into the kitchen while I was cooking and listening, he said he didn’t care for the narrator.

Take that as you will.


Dead Men’s Boots (2007/2009) Mike Carey narrated by Michael Kramer (8/10) [Felix Castor]

This series has been the car book, and he does a decent job.

I will say that we’re currently on the 4th book, and I was completely thrown because they switched narrators, and it’s a very strange transition, because I really like the new narrator, BUT, I associate his voice with a different dark supernatural fantasy set in London. So that’s kind of bizarre. I suppose it’s an issue that if a narrator does a good job with a type of book, they want him to do another similar type, but as a listener, I want to associate that voice with a different world entirely.


The Books of 2018

Written by Michelle at 11:30 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

The Books of 2018: Paranormal Romance

Every book in this group is by K.J. Charles. Three of the four are the same series or an off-shoot, the other is the first book in a new series.

All four are historical M/M romances and all four have boinking.

Spectred Isle (2017)(8/10)

This is the first book in a (hopefully) new series, set after The Great War.

The war upended many things, and for Randolph Glyde, it destroyed his life, as he is the last of his line–almost all other members of his family having been killed during the war. Which makes him the sole heir to the magical traditions, and the protection of many places of power.

Saul Lazenby was disgraced during the war (and lucky he wasn’t shot for being a traitor) so he has been utterly unable to find work as an archeologist, and has ended up working with a man looking for historical traces of the supernatural.

Neither man trusts the other, but they keep being drawn to places and events and don’t understand why.

I really adore her world building–the magic use is marvelous, but her characters are even better. I’ve read a LOT of her books this year, and every character is distinct and engaging.

The Magpie Lord (2013)(8/10), Flight of Magpies (2014)(8/10)

Lucien Vaudrey has spent the last 20 years in exile, returning to England only after unexpectedly becoming the heir. His plan is to get things settle and get out of England.

Stephen Day is a Justicar–a magician who enforces the rules. Justicars are generally disliked by other magicians, and also frequently have to take care of magical problems no one else wants to deal with. Stephen also has a past with the Vaudrey family, and is very unhappy when asked to look in on a problem.

This is a three book series, that tells how the two men fell in love and how magic unexpectedly shaped their relationship.

Plus other stuff.

Rag and Bone (2016)(8/10)

This story is an offshoot of the Magpie series. Crispin Tredarloe was raised in an illegal magical tradition, and has been struggling to learn how to properly practice magic. Ned Hall is Crispin’s lover–and was displeased to discover he had a natural affinity for magic.

Both men fear being left, and each believes he isn’t good enough for the other, which is the second story-line of the book (the first being the magical problem that Ned has discovered.

I really like the world-building here, and I think the M/M romance fits in well with a world where magic users have to hide their practice from the general populace, since homosexuality could be a death sentence at that time.

The Books of 2018

Written by Michelle at 10:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  
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