Book Review: Netherfield by Maria Grace @WriteMariaGrace @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Netherfield
Series: Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 3
Author: Maria Grace
Narrator: Benjamin Fife
Publication Date: February 2020
Genres: Historical Fantasy

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Netherfield
Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 3
Maria Grace
Narrated by Benjamin Fife
Maria Grace, January 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Elizabeth Bennet thought she was prepared to do anything to make the Dragon Conclave accept her beloved young dragon Pemberley into the Blue Order, but she had not anticipated it would leave her banished from her ancestral home and betrothed to none other than Mr. Darcy. But before Elizabeth and Darcy wed, they must find a dangerous rogue dragon before it provokes a war amongst the dragons and brings the fragile peace between dragons and mankind to a catastrophic end.

Nothing written in the annals of dragon lore has prepared Elizabeth to manage a dragon not governed by the Blue Order. Dragons have always loved her, but this one finds her arrogant, selfish and insensitive to others. With only her instincts to guide her, she must convince the rogue of her good intentions before the Blue Order loses patience and decides on more drastic measures.

Called away to the other side of the kingdom, trying to settle the dragons’ unrest, Darcy learns the nature of the force poisoning the rogue dragon against Elizabeth. One nearer and dearer than they could have imagined.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy convince with rogue dragon to cooperate before darker forces turn it against them, without destroying the fragile bonds uniting the couple?

We’ve come to the end of the saga entangling dragons with the original Pride and Prejudice (except for the prequel, A Proper Introduction to Dragons) and all comes to a head, potentially a more concrete meeting of the minds between humans and dragons. First, though, there are many threads to follow, not least of which is the mystery surrounding a rogue dragon. This particular dragon is unknown to both societies and, thus, not governed by the all-important treaty that supports their co-existence.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been banned from Longbourn, partly because she insulted the petulant and entitled landed dragon of the same name by refusing to marry Mr. Collins to whom the estate is entailed. Lydia has apparently run off with Wickham and is being chased by Darcy and Fitzwilliam, someone is involved in smuggling and leaving poisonous dragon venom where it can endanger others and an emissary from another dragon federation has gone missing. Add to that the trials of tending to the baby Pemberley and the somewhat tepid romance between Elizabeth and Darcy and the scenario is perfect for a lively adventure.

Once again, Mr. Fife wowed me with his narration, most especially his dragon voices (my favorites are April, Longbourn and Walker), and he certainly had great material to work with from Ms. Grace. I suspect I’ll be listening to this trilogy again, more than once 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.

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Purchase Links:
There has been a delay in publishing this third
audiobook but it will soon be available on

Audible and iTunes

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About the Author

Five time BRAG Medallion Honoree and #1 best selling Historical Fantasy author, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gaslamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.

Author Links:
Website // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest

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About the Narrator

Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes.

Fife grew up in Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of animals. When their oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December.

Benjamin enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90% cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”

Website

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Custom Statue of the Dragon, ‘Pemberley’

Enter here.

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Book Review: Longbourn by Maria Grace @WriteMariaGrace @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Longbourn
Series: Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 2
Author: Maria Grace
Narrator: Benjamin Fife
Publication Date: December 4, 2019
Genres: Historical Fantasy

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Longbourn
Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 2
Maria Grace
Narrated by Benjamin Fife
Maria Grace, July 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Darcy thought his problems were over when Pemberley hatched and successfully imprinted on humans. But baby dragons prove far more difficult than any dragon lore prepared him for. Only Elizabeth Bennet’s notes offer him any help. When his imperious Aunt Catherine takes matters into her own hands, things take a turn for the worse and Pemberley’s life hangs in the balance. He desperately needs more of Elizabeth’s help, but she ignores all of his requests. 

Elizabeth, though, has problems of her own. After the Bennet family dragon sent Pemberley away, life at Longbourn was supposed to return to normal and Elizabeth get on with the all-important business of marrying the heir to her father’s estate. Except that he is the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed on to marry – a bumbling, addle-pated dragon-hater who demands she gives up the dragons she lives for. 

Can she, with the help of her dragon friends, find her way back to Pemberley before they both suffer their fate from the Dragon Entail? 

You could say that Darcy is suffering the trials of single fatherhood only the baby involved is a dragon, not a human, and there aren’t a lot of folks around who can offer experience and advice. The infant Pemberley is unhappy at being apart from Elizabeth to whom she’s very attached. As for Elizabeth, who does have more experience and a better connection to the scaled creatures, other matters are keeping her occupied, not the least of which is an arranged marriage that she really doesn’t want. Mr. Collins is entirely unsuitable. especially considering his views on dragons but, oddly enough, the Bennet estate’s landed dragon, the crabby Longbourn, is adamant that this marriage should happen.

Elizabeth is a woman ahead of her time, resistant to the societal controls that keep her from making the most important life choices for herself and Darcy still has remnants of his former arrogance and dismissal of the less wealthy Bennets but the two are drawn more and more towards each other. Meanwhile, the infamous Wickham seems to be up to something that does not bode well for anyone. Numerous plot threads intertwine but it’s all fun and I adore the many different dragons, each with his or her own distinctive personality.

This alternate Regency universe created by Maria Grace, with more than a little help from Jane Austen, continues to be immensely intriguing and compelling and, as with the first book in the series, I’m enchanted with the characters, human and dragon, and with Benjamin Fife’s impeccable narration and particularly with his vocalizations of the various dragons. I’m moving on now to the third book, Netherfield, with great anticipation.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

************

About the Author

Five time BRAG Medallion Honoree and #1 best selling Historical Fantasy author, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gaslamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.

Author Links:
Website // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest

************

About the Narrator

Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes.

Fife grew up in Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of animals. When their oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December.

Benjamin enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90% cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”

Website

************

Play an excerpt here.

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Giveaway

Custom Statue of the Dragon, ‘Pemberley’

Enter here.

************

Book Review: Pemberley by Maria Grace @WriteMariaGrace @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Pemberley
Series: Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 1
Author: Maria Grace
Narrator: Benjamin Fife
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Genres: Historical Fantasy

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Pemberley
Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 1
Maria Grace
Narrated by Benjamin Fife
Maria Grace, July 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind. Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.  

When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley, the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.    

Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg. But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?  

Can he win her trust and recover the stolen egg before it hatches and sends England spiraling back into the Dark Ages of Dragon War?  

Reader Alert!! If you’re a Jane Austen purist, meaning you can’t bear to have someone mess with your favorite characters, having them do things Jane Austen didn’t intend, you need to walk away. Now, you’d think a purist would never dream of reading this book since it has a dragon right there on the cover but I’ve actually seen a few reviews by people who complained mightily about this retelling, particularly the dragons, even though they had to know what was coming. Why read them if you can’t stand the idea? Sheesh.

Normally, I’d save my comments regarding the narration till the end of my review but I have to bring it up now. Mr. Fife is purely amazing with the widest range of vocalizations I’ve heard in a long time and he truly breathes life into a story that’s already wonderful. His dragons are especially well done; when I first heard his interpretation of the tiny April, I was so taken with it—and her—that I had to pull off the side of the road and listen again without the distraction of driving. That wasn’t an anomaly as I soon discovered when other dragons spoke, each in a very distinctive voice. Even if I didn’t love this story, I would still have to listen to Mr. Fife’s rendition.

Ms. Grace’s worldbuilding is brilliant with much attention to detail. This is a sort of alternate universe but still with the trappings of Regency England, just with dragons, and we have the bones of Pride and Prejudice if not the exact story. For hundreds of years, dragons and humans have co-existed peaceably and each estate has its own landed dragon, named for the estate. In addition to the landed dragons, Ms. Grace has created a myriad of others of all types and sizes and they kept my attention psyched up.

Darcy and Lizzy are, of course, the main players on the human side and they sort of tiptoe around each other at first, much like in the original story. They have a mutual interest that takes precedence over any awkwardness and that’s the retrieval of the stolen dragon egg, legacy of the firedrake named Pemberley. If that egg hatches without a human present, the baby won’t imprint and the long-lasting treaty will be broken.

I can’t come up with sufficient praise for Pemberley other than to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s the first book I’ll be putting on my list of best books read in 2020. Now, on to the second book, Longbourn 🐉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.

************

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

************

About the Author

Five time BRAG Medallion Honoree and #1 best selling Historical Fantasy author, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gaslamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.

Author Links:
Website // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest

************

About the Narrator

Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes.

Fife grew up in Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of animals. When their oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December.

Benjamin enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90% cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”

Website

************

Play an excerpt here.

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Giveaway

Custom Statue of the Dragon, ‘Pemberley’

Enter here.

************

Book Review: The Exile by C.T. Adams

The ExileThe Exile
Book One of the Fae
C.T. Adams
Tor, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-7653-3687-3
Trade Paperback

Helena Hai and her half-human daughter Brianna escaped the faerie world when Helena began to fear for their lives. Power struggles had become more and more violent and war looked to become inevitable. Since Brianna was the daughter of the present Fae king, it seemed she was a likely target of those trying to eliminate any competition to the throne. Besides, King Leu had a new lover.

Helena, a powerful witch in her own right, closed the veil between the human and faerie worlds to fae magic when she fled. In the human world, Helena ran a magic shop and she and Brianna made a good life for themselves. After Helena passed, a living stone gargoyle named Pug helped guard Brianna.

But even as Brianna enjoys her life and her friends, dissension is building in Fae. Leu, Brianna’s father, must fight for his life and protect his world from those who would usurp his power. Family members, afraid Brianna may be favored to be named the next ruler, seek to destroy her, even through the veil.

A large cast of characters people (or creature) this book. Pug, the gargoyle, is Brianna’s good friend. Ju-Long and his daughter Mei, shape-shifting dragons are firmly on her side. The Diamond King is unique and trustworthy. Even some of the lesser fae creatures prove themselves good citizens.

The wicked adversaries of all different ilk are super strong and well-depicted in this story. Unfortunately for Brianna, many of those enemies are King Leu’s own children and her half-siblings, which makes for interesting family dynamics.

Filled with action as the war of succession heats up, Brianna’s human friends and employees are drawn into the struggle. Nick Antonelli, a police detective, is drawn into the faerie world in a violent introduction, possibly souring an attraction Brianna would like to explore.

This is a big book, well-plotted with nicely drawn characters. It’s fairly rare to find a book where the lesser characters are so well developed. There’ll be more Brianna Hai stories, which I’ll look forward to reading. I’m hoping most of these characters will follow her into fae.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, June 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last DragonslayerThe Last Dragonslayer
The Chronicles of Kazam Book One

Jasper Fforde
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, October 2012
ISBN 978-0-547-73847-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Jennifer Strange, who will be 16 years old in two weeks, is an indentured servant till 18 and, as such, runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management. Jennifer has a knack for handling fractious practitioners of magic and is always accompanied by a loveable critter, Quarkbeast. Quark is 1/10 Labrador and 9/10 velociraptor and kitchen blender and absolutely adores Jennifer for taking him home when she found him at Starbucks.

Then, one day, Jennifer meets a fellow named Brian Spalding who lives at the Dragonstation and drives an armored Rolls-Royce he calls the Slayermobile. Brian is  the outgoing dragonslayer and he is intent upon making Jennifer his apprentice. Apprentice for what? Well, it seems an old dragon, Maltcassion, lives in a sanctuary/wilderness known as the Dragonlands and he is supposed to die next Sunday at noon at the hands of a Dragonslayer wielding a sword named Exhorbitus. Unfortunately, Brian disappears rather precipitously before Jennifer feels quite prepared so she hires her own apprentice Dragonslayer, Gordon van Gordon Gordonson ap Gordon-Gordon of Gordon.

So why does Maltcassion have to die next Sunday at noon? Come to find out there have been three Dragonattacks and that voids the Dragonpact that has protected him. One minor detail—by ancient decree, a dragon’s land belongs to whoever claims it when he dies and that brings out the worst of greed in an awful lot of people. In this world, commerce is mightier than kings and celebrities and The Consolidated Useful Stuff Land Development Corporation is ready to take advantage of the decree.

Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors and I so wanted to love this book but I just can’t quite say that I do. There’s not much joy in this story even though there is a lot of humor. Heavyhanded agendas like greed, environmentalism, trashy media and product endorsements got in the way of the pure enjoyment I usually get when reading a Fforde tale and I also felt there were far too many characters, making it difficult to care a lot about most of them. Have I been permanently turned off? Of course not—the author may not have been at the top of his game with this one, his first young adult novel, but it’s just as possible that I read it in the wrong mood. The second in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast, is already out in the UK so it should be showing up here in the US next fall and I’ll definitely be reading it.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2013.

Book Review: Dragon Justice by Laura Anne Gilman

Dragon Justice
Paranormal Scene Investigations #4
Laura Anne Gilman
Harlequin, July 2012
ISBN 978-0-373-80348-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

In my time with PUPI, formally known as Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations, I’ve seen a lot. Learned a lot. And not all of it’s been good. But what we do—make people accountable for crimes committed with magic—is important work.

Still. Even I need to take a break every now and again. Or so I’ve just been told (ordered).

So hey, vacation. Maybe I’ll finally figure out what’s going on with the “special bond” between me and the boss man, Benjamin Venec. Venec seems to like that idea—he’s invited me down to join him on a jaunt to Philly. But no sooner do I arrive in the City of Brotherly Love than we’re called in to look at a dead body.

And that’s when life gets really complicated….

I first “discovered” the world of Cosa Nostradamus and the good folks from Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations a few months ago, meaning that’s the first time I read one of the PUPI books although I’d known about them and other works by Laura Anne Gilman for quite a few years. I’ve regretted the lost time but my procrastination does mean there’s a lot for me to enjoy before I have to join the hapless many who wait impatiently for each new book.

The one I read last March was the third in the series, Tricks of the Trade, and I intended to go back to read the first two but we all know what happens to good intentions, don’t we? So, here we have book number four and a wild ride it is.

Life is never exactly what we would call “normal” for Bonnie and the rest of the Talent she works with, that is, a handful of  humans with  magical abilities who fight magic-related crimes. To do this, they have to keep their skills away from the notice of Nulls, those poor humans who have none, and always be on the alert for the misdeeds of the fatae, supernatural creatures. Bonnie has been ordered to take some vacation but her boss, Ben Venec, has invited her to help with an outside job at a museum in Philadelphia and, the next thing she knows, she’s in the thick of the search for a truly vicious serial killer as well as trying to figure out why young girls have been living in a park in New York City. A very large side issue involves money and Ben’s partner, Ian Stosser, with some deadly collections efforts.

Bonnie and Ben finally give up their fight against a mutual attraction but the romance in this particular book is kind of lightweight. I’m not actually sure if that disappointed me but I think maybe not. It was enough to lighten the mood a bit but the investigations are too important so I can wait for the romance to develop more in future books. Some very dark things happen in Dragon Justice and it will be interesting to see where Ms. Gilman takes us next.

One of my all-time favorite dark fantasy characters, the well-to-do Great Worm known as Madame, is once again an important element and I loved visiting her along with Bonnie. Wouldn’t you love to have a dragon friend in your corner, especially one with such good taste?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2012.