TRATWD 153 – The Lost and the Least, Chapter 11

Kate investigates the missing Mrs. Roberts. Meanwhile, vampire medical examiner Morgan Drauling has some one-on-one time with a Jane Doe — and makes an alarming discovery.

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MCP 045 – Whispers in the Wood, Part 4

Will Abbey’s plan work? Can Rosanna be saved from the clutches of the Leanan Sidhe? And what will the faery do to Wells if the plan succeeds? Find out, in the conclusion to Whispers in the Wood!

Cast:

Malcolm ard’Valos – TD-0013
Rosanna Venturi – Deirdre Reed
Emilio Venturi – Nobilis Reed
Melodia/Leanan Sidhe – Danae Winters
Isaac Wells – Michael Spence
Abbey Preston – Jenivi Seven
Janus Starson – Indiana Jim

 

MCP 044 – Whispers in the Wood, Part 3

What is the creature that lives in the violin? How is it connected to the Leanan Sidhe? And how much does Dr. Wells really know about the monster inside his instrument?

Cast:

Janus Starson – Indiana Jim
Abbey Preston – Jenivi Seven
Candace – Susan Murph
Isaac Wells – Michael Spence
Rosanna Venturi – Deirdre Reed
Emilio Venturi – Nobilis Reed
Leanan Sidhe/Melodia – Danae Winters
Malcolm ard’Valos – TD-0013

The Parasol Triumphant: being a review of the forthcoming novel, SOULLESS, by Gail Carriger

If I needed any further proof that podcasting is my gateway to a life at the cutting edge of social commentary, it has arrived: Gail Carriger, she of the imported tea and harem of Armenian lovers, has provided me with an Advance Reading Copy of her new novel SOULLESS. The book is being published by Orbit USA and will reach store shelves on September 29th, 2009.

I’ll be perfectly frank and say that I didn’t expect much of this book. Gail is a dear friend of mine, and I have had several friends over the years who fancied themselves writers and were, sadly, not nearly as good as they thought they were. The fact that Gail was published did little to change my expectations, because the urban fantasy/paranormal romance market has published some really bad books in recent years. (I won’t name names, but skim the reviews on Amazon if you want to see what kind of crap can get past the editors these days.) When Gail gave me a copy to read, I accepted it with the genuine pleasure of being invited to share in a friend’s success, but I didn’t have much hope of being impressed.

I am very pleased to report that I was proven utterly and completely wrong. This is a marvelous book, and I am tremendously excited to know that it will soon be available for the rest of the world to share.

In SOULLESS we are introduced to Alexia Tarabotti, a proper Victorian lady who is burdened with a number of embarrassing social problems. First, her father is both Italian and dead. Second, she is still unmarried at the appallingly old age of twenty-six. And nearly as embarrassing as either of these, she has no soul. In Gail’s world, that doesn’t make Alexia a zombie or an automaton — though she is known for being blunt and rather uncreative — but it DOES make her anathema to the vampires and werewolves who occupy the highest levels of London society. All it takes is a touch from Alexia, and the fiercest vamp or were becomes temporarily human again.

Alexia gets herself into a bit of trouble when she accidentally slays a young vampire who tries to bite her without permission at a party. This catches the attention of Lord Maccon, the loud, crass and devastatingly handsome Alpha werewolf who has been charged by Queen Victoria with policing the supernatural set. As Alexia and Maccon dance through a love-hate relationship of increasing intensity, they find themselves facing a set of interlocking puzzles: solitary vampires and werewolves are disappearing from the surrounding countryside, and new vampires are appearing without any apparent knowledge of the rules governing their kind. Alexia, Lord Maccon and their allies must unravel a tangled web of conspiracies while coming to terms with their complicated and conflicted feelings about each other.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of romances OR Victorian comedies, but I adored this book. Gail has created a wonderful cast of memorable and enjoyable characters; I’m particularly fond of Lord Akeldama, a flamboyantly gay vampire who dresses in High Rococo and speaks mostly in italics, and Professor Lyall, the quiet, intelligent and longsuffering Beta who tries to keep Lord Maccon out of social trouble. Just as importantly, though, Gail has done a first-rate job with her research: the characters talk and act like genuine Victorian Brits, and everything from the food to the clothes to the slang is authentic and period-appropriate. While this is technically an alternate history, Gail is much more interested in explaining the actual weirdness of the Victorians than in veering too far into lurid visions of a parallel universe. Those odd Victorian fashions and social rules? Obviously the work of vampires. Britain’s inexplicable rise to military dominance over half the world? Thank the werewolves and their highly efficient pack dynamics. And so on.

While Gail clearly takes her research seriously, the book maintains a light and humorous touch throughout. While there is darkness and horror in some places, and torrid romance in others, Gail has a habit of finding humor just about everywhere. It never feels forced, though, nor ventures too far into the land of farce. She keeps you laughing while consistently playing fair with both the characters and the audience. It’s an extraordinary balancing act, and the fact that Gail pulls it off so well in her first novel is a sign of just how talented she is.

If you’re a fan of urban fantasies, period mysteries, romantic comedies, or any combination of the above, I heartily recommend SOULLESS. Alexia Tarabotti may have no soul, but her first book definitely has it in spades.

MCP 041 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 31

The battle is over, the bodies have fallen, and it’s time for the survivors to count the cost. The Sommers cell has defied the norms of its society; Daniel unwittingly aided enemies of the Collective; Abbey is a former fugitive. How will the Hive choose to deal with this band of misfits? And what will Malcolm ard’Valos do, now that his pawn has been taken from him?

The Cast:

Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Abbey Preston – Heather Nowak
Danni Sharabi – Sara Lloyd
Rebecca Brower – MA in PA
Jared Tamlin – Jason Adams
Kathryn Kitaen – Heather Welliver
Malcolm ard’Valos – TD-0013
Braddock – Marc Bailey
Brian Sommers – Bryan Watson
Young Disembodied Voice – Kimi Alexandre
Old Disembodied Voice – Bryan Watson

MCP 040 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 30

It all comes down to this! With Sasha poisoned by the psi drug Mad John and Victor only moments away from finding them, Sasha and Abbey must make a last desperate stand against the psychotic psi. Can they hold out long enough for help to arrive? And what will become of Victor after he crosses the final line?

The Cast:

Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Abbey Preston – Heather Nowak
Victor hin’Kavos – Bill Bowman
Brian Sommers – Bryan Watson
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Miriam Bakhtavar – Paulette Jaxton
Morgan Drauling – Kim Fortuner
Danni Sharabi – Sara Lloyd
Rebecca Brower – MA in PA
Evan Selindi – Tee Morris

MCP 039 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 29

Brian, Fiona and Daniel are in a fight for their lives — and more than that, for their souls. Sasha is the only one left to protect Abbey as Victor seeks his revenge. Do our heroes have any chance against such overwhelming odds?

The Cast:

Brian Sommers – Bryan Watson
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Abbey Preston – Heather Nowak

MCP 038 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 28

Miriam leads Brian and Fiona into her trap, unaware that Daniel is on his way to join them. Meanwhile, Sasha is charged with watching over the hospitalized “Jenny Bloggs”, not realizing who she has in her care … or who is coming after her.

Special thanks to J. Daniel Sawyer and Kitty Nic’Iaian of Artistic Whispers Productions for letting me use their studio to record the outro for this episode.

The Cast:

Brian Sommers – Bryan Watson
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Miriam Bakhtavar – Paulette Jaxton (understudy)
Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Security Guards – David Van Sunder, Tim Dodge, Mark Smith, Christina Reagan, J. Daniel Sawyer, Kitty Nic’Iaian
Morgan Drauling – Kim Fortuner
Abbey Preston/Jenny Bloggs – Heather Nowak
Rebecca Brower – MA in PA

MCP 037 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 27

As Miriam puts her new orders into action, Abbey Preston seeks out the one person in the Psi Collective she believes she can trust: Daniel Sharabi. But how will Victor react when he learns that Abbey has betrayed him?

The Cast:

Victor hin’Kavos – Bill Bowman
Brian Sommers – Bryan Watson
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Miriam Bakhtavar – Martha Puskas and Paulette Jaxton (understudy)
Rebecca Brower – MA in PA
Danni Sharabi – Sara Lloyd
Meg – Vivid Muse
Abbey Preston – Heather Nowak
Morgan Drauling – Kim Fortuner
Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Isaac – J. Daniel Sawyer

MCP 036 – MAKING THE CUT: Chapter 26

The horrible secret of Fiona’s past is revealed, and Malcolm ard’Valos has some new orders for Miriam…

The Cast:

Young Fiona – TReed’s Girl
Fiona’s Mother – Mindy Smith
Victor hin’Kavos – Bill Bowman
Egan Hunter – Chris Miller
Cop – Mark Smith
Sasha King – Dani Cutler
Fiona hin’Connaill – Christiana Ellis
Seralina Greyhaven – Kimi Alexandre
Peter – Steve Riekeberg
Sarah – Andrea Martin
Miriam Bakhtavar – Paulette Jaxton (understudy for Martha Puskas)
Malcolm ard’Valos – TD-0013