A Wish Upon the Stars by T.J. Klune ~ Audio Review

Title: A Wish Upon the Stars

Series: Tales of Verania 04

Author: T.J. Klune

Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: High Fantasy

Length: 18 hrs, 17 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (28th November 2018)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Nearly a year ago, blinded by grief and betrayal, Sam of Wilds made a desperate decision to fol-low the Great White into the Dark Woods. Now, he emerges to a world changed.

The City of Lockes is a prison. The King has been locked away in the dungeons. The Kingdom of Verania has fallen, and the Dark wizard Myrin sits on the throne.

But soon after his return, Sam learns of a resistance fighting in his name, led by a courageous knight, a defiant prince, a pissed-off unicorn, and a half-giant who wants to smash everything in sight. If he has any hope of defeating the villains who have taken their home, Sam must face the consequences of his choices – and the friends he left behind.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: I absolutely adore TJ Klune. I adore just about every book he writes. I love how he can make a reader laugh and cry within the same book within pages of each other. But mostly I love how he can keep an audience entertained where I am, more often than not, laughing throughout a book, and in the case of audio books I’m often on public transport trying not to be obvious. However, that also applies for when I’m on public transport and trying not to cry.

A Wish Upon the Stars is the fourth and final book in TJ Klune’s Tales of Verania. The whole concept of wishing upon the stars is a theme that has been present throughout the series, as have the titles of the other books. However, I feel that this is the most aptly named of the series. It is essential to read this series in order because this is complex world that has been built, with some equally complex characters that are very well developed and at this point I am completely invested in.

The world is completely different in the aftermath of the previous book, The Consumption of Magic. Sam, strong willed as he is, decided that he had to fulfil the prophecy of the Great White Dragon (or as Sam calls him, GW). And so after being away almost a year, he has returned to chaos. On top of that his friends are furious with him, especially his very own knight and wizard’s cornerstone, Ryan Foxheart. They have become hardened warriors as the dark wizards take over and it is pure heartbreak. On top of that, the king is now held prisoner, but this has given the chance for Prince Justin to step up and become an absolutely amazing character. The only person he has on side at first is Kevin, who is also in the proverbial doghouse with Gary, since the dragon had followed Sam with no words to his sassy unicorn lover.

There is more heartbreak to comes as the ends of the stories are eventually woven and we find out the fate of Verania. This book brings in a lot more humour as the gang is reunited and are finally working together once again to defeat Myrin and the dark wizards he commands. There are so many funny moments, including when we get to meet Gary’s twin brother or the interpretive dance that was performed as Gary tells the story of how he lost his horn and therefore a great deal of his magic. I was so glad that that storyline was resolved and we got to see Gary return to all his glory as the pieces came together and the final battle takes place.

As with the previous instalments in this series Michael Lesley’s is an absolute joy. His delivery is heartfelt and pretty much flawless. He has carried on to the end with the same distinct voices that he gave to all the characters, which I feel has enhanced the entire experience. He wonderfully articulates the emotion in the characters as they go through their highs and lows. I don’t want to keep gushing as I know that I am repeating myself about my adoration of Lesley’s narration and Klune’s writing. Cannot recommend enough.

I am sad to see the end of this series. I was surprised that I did in fact love The Lightning Struck, which is why I continued on to the next three books, after not enjoying reading it a few years ago when it first came out. I absolutely loved the ending as the ends all tied together. I feel battered and bruised but just as Klune expertly does, he’s pulls you apart with the emotions he injects into his words and slowly builds you back up, even when the odds were completely against our heroes. Rumour has it TJ plans to do a story for Prince Justin (Sam’s best friend 5eva) and that is something I look forward to, although the man seems so busy I’m sure it’s going to be at least a few years.

The Consumption of Magic by T.J. Klune ~ Audio Review

Title: The Consumption of Magic

Series: Tales of Verania 03

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: High Fantasy

Length: 18 hrs, 18 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (30th April 2018)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.

It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.
Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.

With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits – the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tig-gy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin – must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining drag-ons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.

A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: I absolutely adore TJ Klune. I adore just about every book he writes. I love how he can make a reader laugh and cry within the same book within pages of each other. But mostly I love how he can keep an audience entertained where I am, more often than not, laughing throughout a book, and in the case of audio books I’m often on public transport trying not to be obvious. However, that also applies for when I’m on public transport and trying not to cry.

The Consumption of Magic is the third book in TJ Klune’s Tales of Verania. It is essential to read this series in order because this is complex world that has been built, with some equally complex characters that are very well developed and at this point I am completely invested in.

We pick up once again after the events of A Destiny of Dragons. The situation in Verania is going to shit quite quickly. Correction, it has gone to shit and it will only get worse before it can get better. The dark wizards are taking over, led by Myrin (I’m sorry, as a Harry Potter fan I had to think of Voldemort) and it is Sam who must prepare with help of Ryan, his mentor, parents and his friends Tiggy, Kevin and Gary to bring the prophecy full circle. This is an even rockier journey than book 2, with a cliff hanger that will leave you absolutely gutted (lucky for us the series is now completed so no need to wait for the next book to be published!). Sam has so many tough decisions to make, all he wants is to protect his dearest friends, family and his beloved Ryan. He will do anything for them and that unfortunately is his weakness. There are still moments of hilarity but the stakes are getting higher and so there is a lot more serious moments and a lot more moment where you sense the impending doom as we make our way to the end of the series.

As with the previous instalments in this series Michael Lesley’s is an absolute joy. His delivery is heartfelt and pretty much flawless. As in book 2, he also carried on the distinct voices that he gave to all the characters. He wonderfully articulates the emotion in the characters as they go through their highs and lows. I don’t want to keep gushing as I know that I am repeating myself about my adoration of Lesley’s narration and Klune’s writing. Cannot recommend enough.

A Destiny of Dragons by T.J. Klune ~ *Audio Review*

Title: A Destiny of Dragons

Series: Tales of Verania 02

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: High Fantasy

Length: 16 hrs, 41 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (17th November 2017)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice, Sam of Wilds, got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Jus-tin they will be best friends forever. Life is good.

Until it’s not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv. Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: I absolutely adore TJ Klune. I adore just about every book he writes. I love how he can make a reader laugh and cry within the same book within pages of each other. But mostly I love how he can keep an audience entertained where I am, more often than not, laughing throughout a book, and in the case of audio books I’m often on public transport trying not to be obvious. However, that also applies for when I’m on public transport and trying not to cry.

That being said, there are a few of his books which I’ve not really connected with when I first read them and never went back. The Lightning Struck Heart, the first book in the Tales of Verania series, was one of them. However, I’ve seen the light, I gave it another go and absolutely fell in love (for this reason my review of book 1 is quite long, but I promise to tame reviews for the rest of the series). So here I am, at the end of book 2, A Density of Dragons, in the Tales of Verania series and ready to continue.

This series is an epic saga so it is vital to read this series from the start and not do it out of order either.

A Destiny of Dragons picks up where we left off at the end of book one. Sam and Ryan (aka Knight Delicious Face, which I say in my head in the voice lent to Tiggy by Michael Lesley) are finally together, but Sam still has the tendency to get into trouble. His friends are as whacky as ever and part of Sam’s antics is to become Prince Justin’s “best friend 5eva” and help him find love. This is sort of changed when Sam’s estranged gypsy grandmother, Vadoma, makes an appearance and reveals that Sam’s fate and his importance to Verania is something prophesised and essential to the survival of the people. I mean, this just shows that Sam is always getting into trouble for a reason. This book is the start of what I can already see is going to be a long, winding and very hard road for our hero, which is uplifted by continual moments of hilarity. Once again, Gary, Kevin and Tiggy are wonderful highlights of the book as they help Sam, and by extension Ryan too, start to unravel the extent of what is about to shake the foundations of their world.

As with the first book, and I suspect with the next two books of the series, Michael Lesley’s is an absolute joy. For me, I call a book which is laying in a lot of groundwork for the complex storylines to follow a “filler book”. As a very general rule, I find the even numbered books in these complex type series good not as good as the odd numbered books. Mostly because these books feel like they have a less meaty plot but are absolutely necessary. I’m saying this because Lesley’s narration kept me hooked and I never once got tempted to skip through scenes or chapters.

Lesley’s delivery of the story itself was just as brilliant as the first book. He carried on the distinct voices that he gave to all the characters in that instalment. He wonderfully articulates the emotion in the characters as they go through their highs and lows. Seriously, this is audio bliss.

The Lightning Struck Heart by T.J. Klune ~ Audio Review

Title: The Lightning Struck Heart

Series: Tales of Verania 01

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 19 hrs, 49 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (10th December 2015)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the king’s wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam’s 14, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At 15, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle – Knight Ryan Fox-heart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the king sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or, so he thinks.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: So this is going to be an interesting review for me. I absolutely adore TJ Klune. I adore just about every book he writes. I love how he can make a reader laugh and cry within the same book within pages of each other. But mostly I love how he can keep an audience entertained where I am, more often than not, laughing throughout a book, and in the case of audio books I’m often on public transport trying not to be obvious. However, that also applies for when I’m on public transport and trying not to cry.

That being said, there are a few of his books which I’ve not really connected with when I first read them and never went back. The Lightning Struck Heart was one of them. I remember struggling when it first came out, although it had all the hallmarks of something that I would love. I love the book series Temeraire and Eragon, which has some similar themes and feels – mostly dragons, but I also love The Princess Bride which this audio had me thinking as I listened. I’ve also read a review of someone referring to Monty Python too, and to be honest I suppose the line “Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony”. So think that can be a valid comparison too, although I had initially scoffed because I love Monty Python and at that point I was still sceptical of trying this book again.

But being that I am a Klunatic I would see many “Gary and Kevin” references and “Sam and Ryan” references on the group Facebook page – cartoons, lots of unicorns and dragons. Out of respect to TJ, who is in the group, and to all those that love the book, I simply let it be and never said anything because this was just my opinion. However, I eventually decided that I need to give this another try. I just hoped that perhaps when I read it, I simply was not in the right frame of mind – the amount of stress that I was under at that time in terms of health and education I figured that was reason enough to finally give it another go.

I am so happy that I did because quite suddenly I adore this book too and everything about it.

The Lightning Struck Heart is the first book in the saga that is The Tales of Verania, where we meet Sam of the Wilds. Sam has the potential to be an extremely powerful wizard and for some years now he has been the apprentice wizard to the king’s wizard in the City of Lockes. He is a bit of disaster but has the aspiration to become the youngest wizard to have ever passed his trails to graduate from apprentice wizard to full wizard. He never made a good impression on his mentor’s own mentor, and that is a hilarious story that I can’t spoil. For years Sam has been in love with dreamiest of knights in the kingdom, Ryan Foxheart, who is about to be promoted to the leader of the king’s knights. The problem being that Ryan is engaged to Prince Justin. Justin and Sam do not get along but one day Justin will be king and Sam will be his wizard. Sam is also never far from his best friends, a half giant called Tiggy (love Tiggy!) and a sassy talking unicorn who lost his horn, Gary. Honestly, Gary is a total star.

This book is just laying the foundations for the rest of the series, so we are introduced to Sam and all these other characters. Although Sam and Ryan are the main characters, they aren’t the only prominent ones. Tiggy, Gary and Justin take over as well, and towards the end of the book we also meet the charmingly sexually perverse dragon, Kevin, who is also a bit of a wild ride to get to know (pun intended).

Michael Lesley’s is an absolute joy to listen. I really don’t know what I loved more, the story itself or how it was delivered. He gives distinct voices to all the characters, including Sam’s parents, the king and the rest of the gang that I’ve mentioned. He wonderfully articulates the emotion in the characters as they go through their highs and lows. And in the midst of ridiculous hilarity as Sam gets kidnapped and despairs of villains who monologue has sounding absolutely serious down to an art. This is the start of an epic journey and I can’t wait to hear Lesley’s narration as the series goes on.

The Queen and the Homo Jock King by T.J. Klune

T.J. Klune - The Queen and the Homo Jock King Cover AudioTitle: The Queen and the Homo Jock King

Series:  Tell Me Its Real 02

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: Contemporary, Comedy

Length: 17 hrs, 5 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (1st August 2016)

Heat Level: High

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts

Blurb: Do you believe in love at first sight?

Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.

Or so he tells himself.

It’s not until the owner of Jack It – the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket – comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.

Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.

The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren, and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Product Link: Audible US | Audible UK

Reviewer: Prime

Review: If there is something better than reading a TJ Klune novel, it would have to be listening to a TJ Klune audiobook. The Queen and the Homo Jock King is the sequel (and if you follow TJ on Facebook you will know that there are another 2 stories to go with this series). For fans of TJ Klune, I don’t need to gush about how awesome and uproariously hilarious this is (and no trademark Wookie cry face) – that is for those who have not read the book before.

The Queen and the Homo Jock Queen shifts to the story of a different couple from Tell Me It’s Real (the name of book 1 and the series), although Paul and Vince feature heavily throughout the plot as this centres on the romance between Vince’s half-brother, Darren, and Paul’s best friend, Sandy, a.k.a. the drag queen Helena Handbasket.  Sandy and Darren are about as crazy and just as hilarious as their friend/brother. Their attraction is palpable through the audio. Their story is a series of misunderstandings and well meaning friends, which means that this seems anything but normal.

I have to say, that Michael Lesley did an absolutely wonderful job narrating the book. He captured Helena’s and Sandy’s persona wonderfully, along with the other characters – I personally love his voice for Vince, Darren, Charlie and Paul. Also, another Easter egg for TJ’s fans – when Paul starts babbling about sending Sandy away, he mentions that Sandy should use the name Gustavo Tiberius. Paul also says that anyone called Gustavo Tiberius would be totally kick ass. For fans of How to be a Normal Person, we all know that why Gustavo is a totally kickass person it definitely is not in the same way that Paul had been thinking.