Book #16: The Last Vampire (Book Two): R.A. Steffan and Jaelynn Woolf


My father has been kidnapped by my worst enemies.
Either that, or he willingly sold me out to them.

Whatever the case, I’m going to find him. Mind you, this would be a lot easier if every Fae in Chicago wasn’t already out for my blood.

They’re not getting it, though.

The only one who’s getting anywhere near my blood is the seven-hundred-year-old vampire who saved me. Yes, there are times when I’m convinced he’s not quite right in the head, but so far he’s the only supernatural being I’ve met who sees me as a person rather than a chess piece.

To the rest of them, I’m nothing more than the walking, talking evidence of a war crime. To him, I’m something else. He calls me a loose thread in the tapestry of his forgotten past, but he looks at me like I might be the key to his future.

The rest of them tell me I’m demonkin. They say I’m a succubus-human hybrid who shouldn’t exist.

One thing is very clear, though. My father is carrying a secret bigger than I ever dreamed, and I’m damn well going to pry it out of him.

I just have to get him back from the Fae first.
Because, hey—what could possibly go wrong?

I received an Audible code for an honest review via Audiobook Boom. There was no compensation made in the making of this review. Everything that follows is my opinion and mine alone.

As the title says, this is book two in an urban fantasy paranormal romance. It starts closely after the events of the first book. As with the last audiobook, the narrator did a good job and I did like the story.

It just wasn’t the best. I actually preferred book one in comparison.

Book Two did reveal more of the fae world and introduced a political dynamic between the Fae and Demons. The world expansion was interesting. That said, everything else just seemed to be less. That isn’t to say that I won’t listen or read Book three, I hope to. I just don’t think this one was as good as Book One.

Final Rating: 2/5

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Book #15: Little Killers A to Z by Howard Odentz

Bad things come in small packages . . .
EPIC Award finalist Howard Odentz has penned twenty-six disturbingly fascinating horror stories about the youngest predators among us.
From Andy and Boris to Yuri and Zena, this eclectic anthology is filled, A to Z, with psychopaths, monsters, and murderers!
So turn on the lights and huddle under your blankets because murder isn’t just for grown-ups anymore. Come meet our gallery of little killers.
After all, they’re dying to meet you!
Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work.
5 Stars “a relentless, thrilling ride” – Court Street Literary, on Bloody Bloody Apple.
“Howard Odentz takes this mis-mosh of dysfunctional characters and puts together a wonderful story that is equal parts horror and love.” – Scared Stiff Reviews, on Bloody Bloody Apple.
 

I received a copy of this book via Audiobook Boom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone.

From the first chapter, I was a bit hesitant about this book. The first chapter is a poem that hints at what each character’s story was about. It worried me for two reasons. I was a bit worried that every story would be in some kind of poem form. Which is a cool concept but I have some trouble reading things in poem form. The other reason was that I had just realized how many letters were in the alphabet and despite the Audible app saying that the book wasn’t very long, I was envisioning a long book.

These worries were silly.

Each story is well written, unique, and pulled you into their own world. I found myself trying to fit them all into my own headcanon universe, and, I still think it could work. There are some darker ones, some lighter ones, some that are supernatural, and others that make you question sanity.

Another thing I liked about the stories is the broad range of ages, racial identity, and sexualities. It made even the most unusual story that bit of possible.

As for the narrator and audiobook as a whole, it was well executed. The narrator’s voice didn’t sway me away from the story and the background music between stories only helped the experience along.

All in all, Odentz wrote a great collection of short stories each one able to hold on their own and be entertaining. I might reread this one in October. It is definitely an October read.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #8: A Temple of Forgotten Spirits by William F. Wu

A young guy named Jack Hong hitchhikes throughout America following the keilin, a mystical unicorn out of Chinese mythology. The keilin leads him to ten adventures with ghosts and other supernatural figures. These experiences reveal to him not only parts of American history he never knew, but also his own identity and the role he will choose for his life. 

~~~~~ Description ~~~~~ 

The moonlight was still strong, and Lo Man Gong still sat up on the overhead window, where few people and no old men could ever get. 

“Feel better, Chinaman?” he asked mildly. 

The night before, my resistance had been low, and his presence had somehow seemed tolerable, if not rational. Now I was more clear-headed … yet he was still here. I didn’t like him as much. 

I let my eyes drop closed again. Once I was cured of malaria, I’d be free of him. I had eaten twice today; now, if I slept well, I’d be in sound shape pretty soon. 

“You know the keilin, Chinaman Jack?” 

That was the Chinese unicorn, a mystical animal whose rare appearances were highly auspicious. In the Cantonese I normally heard, it was pronounced “keilun.” It wasn’t like European ones, though. This unicorn had the body of a deer, the hooves of a horse, the tail of an ox, and a fleshy horn. I knew that much. 

“The unicorn?” I opened my eyes and looked at him. As before, the moonlight glowed through his shape. 

“Ah, you know the keilin. He smiled and nodded thoughtfully. “The keilin means good things happen. It’s very powerful.” 

I watched him silently. 

After a while, he looked into my eyes again. “Nobody remember me, Jack. Some people remember, some of my frien’. A few of them. Most, nobody remember at all. No children, no relative. You, Jack. You like me. Unless you change.” 

Yes, I knew that. I had already come to understand that. And I knew that he had come for me, here in the middle of the country, away from his home as longtime Californ’. But I didn’t know why.

I received an audible code via Audiobook Boom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

A Temple of Forgotten Spirits is a full-length novel that is comprised of multiple short stories. It tells the story of a Chinese-American man and his journey across the United States on his search for a mythical unicorn. He is introduced to the history of the Chinese in America little by little.

I am a third generation Filippino-American (25% Filippino, if we get nitty-gritty). Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about that part of my family and what I do know is just the history that my grandmother remembers. I don’t know the culture and I’m still undecided about learning it. After all, is the history that rich in American culture?

So, I asked for this book because I already felt some kind of connection with the main character. He doesn’t know his family background or the culture. He doesn’t understand the intertwining history of being Chinese and Chinese-American. Just like I don’t know anything about that part of my family.

Now… I honestly didn’t start liking the book. The main character, though having a similar cultural ignorance as me, didn’t feel like there was any emotion behind him. I didn’t like him as a person. I did like the other characters we meet in each story. They had substance, there was a struggle with them. Jack was… a witness.

And in retrospect, I think that was Wu’s intention. He wanted Jack to be a blank slate. If Jack wasn’t, he would fight what is new to him just like we fight what is new for us. By making him into a blank slate, Wu not only made the reader into the character but was making a point that Jack was on a journey to a rebirth of sorts.

With each passing story, Jack grows a personality. We may not know the Jack of the past but we are learning about the Jack of the present and future. It is the past of Chinese America that is important, not the vehicle we are using to view it.

It was because of this that I needed to sit back and think. I couldn’t write a review right away because I would have made it into a 2 (because of Jack’s lack of personality) or a 3 (because the stories we learn). Now, I think a 4 is more appropriate.

The narrator does a decent job, though I did have trouble listening to him from time to time. The literary prose is good, it pulled me in and the minor characters meant something to me. But it is the emotional realization I have gained that seems to make a bigger impact for me. I’m growing more and more interested in learning about my own hidden culture after listening to this audiobook.

I recommend this for someone who doesn’t know as much as they think about Chinese American history and for the people who don’t know the history that is in their own blood and soul.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #6: The Last Vampire Book One by R.A. Steffan and Jaelynn Woolf

There’s a smokin’ hot dead guy locked in my garden shed.
That part’s bad enough. But now, he’s trying to get out.

Growing up, my father always told me that I’d come to a bad end, just like my mom did when I was a kid. Hearing that kind of shit when you’re little eventually gets to a girl, but I can’t say I ever expected my ‘bad end’ to involve an angry vampire with a severe case of iron deficiency and a panty-melting English accent.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Ever since my mother was assassinated, I’ve felt like there was something vast and frightening hidden beneath the fabric of the world. Something none of us are supposed to know about.

So far, finding out I was right hasn’t been nearly as satisfying as I’d hoped. I guess the trick will be staying alive long enough to shout ‘I told you so’ from the rooftops.

But before I can do that, I really need to figure out if the vampire who just bit me is one of the good guys or not. 

I received an Audible copy for an honest review via Audiobook Boom. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

The Last Vampire: Book One is the first in a trilogy about a 26 year old woman who is thrust into the paranormal world after a brief bitten encounter with a vampire. The last vampire in fact. Go fig.

The story is what I consider a slow burn. Our love interest and MC just barely know each other in the events of the book. In fact, they are only with each other in three solid instances. That says something there. It makes me label this book more on the urban fantasy versus romance field.

There is some sex going on near the last quarter of the book that I have read is more clinical than steamy. I personally found it to be both and I found the reason for that to be logical and interesting.

The MC is a “girl with unknown power” and does do the enigma trope well but I feel she could get better as the books progress. If anything, I’m not ready to pass judgment on her completely even if the book ended.

The writing is easy to get into and there were parts that were funny, as intended. I did find the book to be enjoyable and wouldn’t mind reading book two. There were moments I was scratching my head trying to figure out where the authors were going and I was super stoked at who the baddies were. Honestly, these guys are hardly ever the baddies… THANK YOU!

I did have an issue with the way it ended. It seemed to just end instead of having a climactic moment and solid resolution. That said, there is a second book and I do hope that book has a better ending in comparison.

All in all, it was a fun romp and I could see myself continuing the series.

Final Rating: 3/5