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Black Dog Blues

The Kai Gracen Series, Book 1
By: Rhys Ford
Narrated by: Greg Tremblay
Series: Kai Gracen, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Summary

Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone's rescue when something shadowy appears.

It's a hard life but one Kai likes - filled with bounty and a few friends and, most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he's one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder's fledgling Dawn Court. It's supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and, best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old, either, and it doesn't look like Kai will be the exception.

©2015 Rhys Ford (P)2015 DSP Publications

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Rhys Ford does it again.....

Great world building from Rhys, although I have to admit it was slow going to begin with...but that's what you get from a great storyteller, an info dump right at the start of the series. 4.5 stars from me.

Obviously, I'm glad I didn't get caught up in the Human/Sidhe war, and as for the Unsidhe and their type of Hellhounds, forget it but Greg Tremblay could take me anywhere with that warm and enticing voice he has. ;)

Kai...well, an horrific upbringing doesn't even begin to cover it, but you'd have to read/listen to the story to understand what he's gone through, why he trusts so few people and that there's maybe more stuff we haven't learned about him yet **shudders**. As far as Ryder, Alexa and the rest of the Sidhe are concerned?? Well I'm fence sitting at the mo but that complete bitch of a grandmother deserves all the nasty stuff that can be wished down upon her...with bells on!! Looking forward to the next instalment Mad Lizard Mambo, which is out in September in e-book form. Me?? I'll wait for Mr Tremblay's version. :D

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Took me a little while to get in, but loved it!

Would you listen to Black Dog Blues again? Why?

I was not asked to review this book, as it was a gifted copy. But felt that I should because I enjoyed it so much.
So in answer to this question...
Yes, yes and yes! there were several things that I did love about this story, ( a couple of things that I didn't.)
Kai, as a character is moody, sometimes just darned right nasty, but his past made him who he was, and as the MC you just can't help but get swept away in all that befalls him. The joy of his BFF and the love that he really, wants. Even if he fights him all the way. Kai makes you feel sorry for him, and you want him to have something good in his life happen, it really doesn't seem like it will, but there are some... you have to hold onto those.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I would say Kai, but I really enjoyed Carrie and Ryder to.

Have you listened to any of Greg Tremblay’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have, because I've now hired him for mine. But I wanted to tell just the one off point I had with it. There were some parts where a passage of time happened, and I felt that the 'cut' wasn't right, sometimes they almost read as if a follow on sentence. Some time between cuts is defo essential.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Script writing is my thing, but no... not being put on the spot for this. If you (the writer) really want me to work on one, then you can email me. I'd be happy to sort out a fantastic tag or logline with my contacts :)

Any additional comments?

I am fairly new to audio books, and have been expanding my lists over the last few weeks. I even bought 24 credits, lol the fact that Greg and a few others are introducing me to new stories and writers. I've been very humbled. I drive for a living and this new 'joy' of being immersed in these worlds is just fantastic.

More please. :) 'goes off to search if there's a second book by DSP' :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Blood and Stomach pills. What a ride

It starts with blood and gore, there is more blood and gore throughout and it ends with the promise of more! Interspersed with witty banter and sexual tension and anticipation, this is a gripping listen ( and read) from start to finish. I'm so glad it's a series! Greg Tremblay's narration is as expected Outstanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpected delight

Didn’t expect much going in, but thought I’d give this book a whirl. I loved it! I’m a fan of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series, and Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series as well as her other urban fantasy series. This book had a similar feel. The story is more about what escapades Kai is getting up to, but there’s a nice thread of romance with Ryder too (definitely not the focus of the book though). Thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely get the next one in the series.

It’s set in a world where bisexuality and polyamory is accepted, and the person is more important than what labels and categories are put upon them. This isn’t a big deal in the book, just the way it is. Kai is attracted to men and women, but he doesn’t have any other relationships in this book. The romance is more chemistry and a suggestion of possibilities with Ryder (a man), rather than them starting a relationship, and there’s no sex. Not in a PG rated aimed at teenagers way, just that they’re too busy having an epic adventure for that to happen.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Elves, dragons and he'll dogs

Would you listen to Black Dog Blues again? Why?

Maybe, but I will definitely listen to book 2

What about Greg Tremblay’s performance did you like?

Greg's performance was flawless

Any additional comments?

This is a good solid fantasy book.
The only negative in the story that I could find was the fact that the merge is mentioned many times, but no real details are given about when or how the merge happened. I would have liked to know much more about the side of the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Nothing blue about this!

Would you consider the audio edition of Black Dog Blues to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Black Dog Blues?

A difficult one! As with all of Rhys's books there are just too many, and this one is no exception, and I wouldn't want to spoil your enjoyment. Brilliant characters and excellent storytelling from start to finish!

What about Greg Tremblay’s performance did you like?

Greg always delivers. Certainly one of the best narrator's

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Chills, thrills and spills!

Any additional comments?

Yet another winner from Rhys Ford. This is somewhat different from her previous work - but don't let that put you off! This is book 1 in the Kai Gracen series and I can't wait for the next one. This is story telling at its best and will have you gripped from the start. There are chills and thrills throughout, not to mention all the underlying sexual tension.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 30-07-16

Tremblay's narration is perfect for this story!

Any additional comments?

Now this was some damn interesting world building. Wow. Throw in the always excellent narration by Greg Tremblay and I was one happy reader.

It behooves me to note this isn't a romance. It's more along the lines of Rhys's Ink and Shadows, and has hints of possible romance to happen in the series, but it's first and foremost about Kai and the world building.

Based in an alternate universe where Kai Gracen is an elfin outcast and a Stalker (which is kind of like a bounty hunter, but much, much cooler) just trying to eke out a living in a world where humans and elfin races are at odds, monsters abound, and violence is the norm.

Kai is prickly, bitter, sometimes harsh and wants nothing to do with race politics or the dark and light Sidhe courts, but when he's forced into helping Ryder, a sidhe lord, into making a run through dragon territory into the light court to pick up a pregnant human everything unravels and his life will never be the same.

I really enjoyed this, though I'll admit that has a lot to do with Greg Tremblay's narration because it is absolutely perfect for this story. Kai has a sort of gravelly slight-Irish accent that really suits the character and helps make listening a real pleasure.

For fans of fantasy and audio this should definitely make it on your list!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JP-NH
  • 22-05-15

Wonderful narration paired with terrific adventure

I first read Black Dog Blues about two years ago and I really enjoyed this dark story. The narration makes the story even better. It is set in an alternative San Diego and Rhys Ford created an amazing and interesting world. The story is a bit different than other books by the author. This is a very fast paced adventure story with a lot of snark, violence, elfin, monsters and great characters.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nekko
  • 12-11-15

Fresh take on Elven urban fantasy

Some days it sucks to be an Elf. And other days it sucks more. Kie was raised by one tough human and his 9 to 5 is a job most don't want. But its his life and given his past he wants to keep it just the way it is....as far away from 'his people' as he can get.
If you are a fan of sexy vampires then you will probably like this sexy Sidhe. No sparkling. Promise.
A liberal sexual outlook (though not too explicit) it worked. Fair amount of gore and violence. I really liked it. Hope Rhys is writing the next one fast....

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tessa Sullivan
  • 20-09-15

Worth listening to, even after having readthe book

What made the experience of listening to Black Dog Blues the most enjoyable?

I had already read the book when I found it available on Audible. I listened to the sample and, since it was only $2 (because I own the Kindle version), I bought it and listened. I got a bargain; it's good enough to spend a credit on. The story is good enough to be worth 'reading' twice and Tremblay's voice really works for the story but especially for Kai's voice.

The story - I enjoy stories where fey and the modern world intersect. Ford does a great job here; the world he creates is complex, nuanced, and rich. The world building is done such that you feel immersed in the story very quickly. Others make you wade through a lengthy exposition before you get to the people and that can be dull as well as feeling less 'real'. The characters are also quite compelling. The chemistry between Kai and Ryder is sizzling and Kai's resistance to said chemistry is both understandable due to his history and manages not to be the "oh no, I must resist" fainting maiden-esque voice that occurs in many romance novels. Kai's sense of humor is quite dark and I appreciate that as well. Another aspect to the story that I like is the lack of a rigidly defined sexuality for any of the characters. Spoiler alert (small) - Kai likes women and men. The author doesn't make a big deal over it. You only learn this because Kai reveals in a natural way that he dated this woman and that man. No one in the story feels the need to draw attention to a person's sexuality - no banners raised; no repudiations. I hope there comes a day when that's the norm in our world.

There are a couple of hiccups in the story - primarily over a couple of bad guy reveals. I won't spoil that for you, though. However, these are fairly minor and don't detract much from the story.Tremblay's voice sounds a touch Irish when voicing Kai's character. I quite liked that as it was subtle but present. And he is good enough that, once he's introduced a character, you can recognize the character later on based on the voice heard. I hate it when I get confused over who is speaking during a lengthy dialog.

Looking forward to the sequel. Not only because I want to see how the romance progresses but especially because I want to see what happens next in the broader picture.

What other book might you compare Black Dog Blues to and why?

The Bordertown series - the interesting mix of fey and technological societies.

What does Greg Tremblay bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The lilt in Kai's voice makes him even more likable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Heather K (Dentist in my Spare Time)
  • 08-06-15

Not the story for me.

In theory, I should have loved this book. In reality, I didn't.

To start, I love urban fantasy books. Give me a great plot, some humor, and some supernatural beings, and I'm along for the ride. I don't care if there is a lick of romance, I just need that special something and I'm in it. In addition, this book was narrated by one of my favorites, Greg Tremblay. I also adore Rhys Ford, who has written some of my favorite books in the past few years.

But when you put it all together, it still fell a bit flat.

I had a really hard time connecting to Kai, so much so that I DNFed this book in ebook form. I picked it up again in audio, but my disconnect with him was still there. He is bitter and sometimes randomly harsh on people, and I had a very difficult time getting into his mindset. There isn't much humor in this book, so that wasn't a way for me to connect, and when you combine that with Kai's sort of surly personality, I had a hard time getting engaged. I also didn't see Ryder as a strong character, and I didn't really get why he was so enamored with Kai.

To top it off, the plot felt a bit... unfocused. There was something about the pace or the set up that felt far more boring than it ought to have based on the amount of action in the story. I wasn't excited at all, and I faced the twists and turns far more casually than I usually do, especially with an audiobook.

If I had to rate this book on content alone, I would give it 2 stars. I simply didn't jive with the plot or characters all that much, and I felt very wishy-washy, overall.

However, the narration is another story. I LOVE Greg Tremblay, and I think he really did a fantastic job with this one. I loved how Kai's voice was different than Cole's (Dirty Kiss), with a faint Irish accent and far more attitude. I loved how Greg really thought about each character and what they would sound like. His narration was so nuanced that it made me able to get through a story that I had such difficulties with in ebook form. I'd give 5 solid stars to the narration, no question.

Unfortunately, a good audio does not a good experience make. I'm certainly quitting this series at this story, but I encourage other fans to give this one a shot. I think if you like something edging more towards high fantasy, this might work better for you.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

25 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • DJR
  • 05-07-19

Too violent and heart wrenching. Needed more info.

What is the merge? Where did the elfin come from. For being a fantasy based story, I was left with an incomplete picture of the world. But the descriptions of what Kai went through both as a child and adult were almost too vivid. I don't have a problem with some angst and cruelty and torture but, wow, I think the story was more about how much Kai could endure more than anything else.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cappa
  • 21-05-15

Love this author; Love this narrator; Love this!!

Rhys Ford is one of my top 2 favorite authors in this genre, and I love Greg Tremblay's narration. I loved the audio versions of the Cole McGinnis series, and I'm so glad they teamed up again for this book.

The accents are awesome! Love how Kai ended up with a lighter version of the accent that his mentor has. Which makes total sense, since that's who taught him to talk. The Elven accent is good, particularly because it's completely made up. Great performance, as usual.

I'm definitely thrilled that this is the start of a series, and particularly looking forward to getting a more fleshed out look at the world. The world building in this book is just enough to leave the reader seriously intrigued, and I can't wait to learn more about the world, Kai's history and hang-ups, and to watch as relationships between the characters grow and change. I liked the slow build between Kai and Ryder. It fits the charactets and the circumstances and leaves you wanting more. Can't wait for the next book in the series!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Akela
  • 10-03-19

Everyone wants to have purple-eyed babies with me

Usually, I like urban fantasy and the mix of elves, dragons and a lot of adventure seemed tempting. Well, this happened to be one of the biggest disappointments this year (or the last five). It's a rambling pointless sequence of random scenes with lots of badly cliched dialogues. It's humorless and devoid of any logic. Practically every single scene of the hero interaction with somebody else is centered around this somebody wanting the hero. Girl, boy - doesn't matter, they all instantly fell in thrall and love with the anime handsome surly teenager.
I kept trying to figure out if this was written as a try at exotic erotica, but there is simply no sexual charge there at all. It's descriptive, dull and using the simplest word - boring.
At times it is purely disgusting - I really did not need reminders of how disgusting it was to suck birth juices from a baby's face at every page or the very detailed and thoroughly vomit-inducing description of the peyotl chewing ritual. My thanks to the author for long-lasting nausea.
In fact, I am still not sure what it is I am listening to - an urban fantasy, flopping try at exotic erotica, smth in-between, But as a "mary/marty sue" job this was a pretty indisputable success. Still very boring, though.

Unfortunately for me, the narrator is rather good, It's always a bad thing - makes you keep listening to some drivel instead of dropping it after 15 minutes and asking your money back.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Abigail
  • 09-11-16

good read

im use to reading/listening to works such as this one and with that being said; no, this book isnt for everyone. theres gore blood gore and some straight kissing action. kai aint use to burning for a male so it takes some time building.
i loved the book loved the narration and the accents. im satified with its turnout.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Peggy Preiss
  • 17-07-15

Fast paced fun

When worlds collide the struggle is ongoing closer for our hero. The book is a little rough in places put grabs your attention and is hard to stop listening to for the most part. Looking forward to the next book in the series. I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot com

1 of 1 people found this review helpful