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William

Ojo Caliente, NM, United States | Member Since 2011

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  • 103 reviews
  • 112 ratings
  • 725 titles in library
  • 135 purchased in 2015
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  • Horror, Humor, And Heroes

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jim Bernheimer
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    Horror, Humor, and Heroes is a collection of twelve short stories, one novella, and a preview for my next novel that should contain enough variety to entertain you readers. Sample some of my finest offerings, such as - a guardian wolf fearing the coming of man, a producer willing to do anything to bring the first pay per view live werewolf hunt to the world, and a zombie running for congress.

    William says: "With plenty of twisted humor, oh yes."
    "With plenty of twisted humor, oh yes."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Horror, Humor, And Heroes?

    The variety in the stories. Halfway through, you didn't feel like the next story was just a rehash of one you had already heard.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    As this is a short story collection, hard to choose. My top 3 short stories were Adventurers Beware, Charlie Horse, and Lieutenant Armchair. The first - a new twist on the D&D adventure motif, the second - zombies for green energy!, and the third - nitty gritty and there were big, big bugs.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Again, hard to choose just one. I liked the ending to Raw and Reel quite a bit. Also Adam on his moon taking his picture. Then Kelley saved by gender bias. Oh,and of course so many bits from the first 5 chapters of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Twisted humor for the twisted soul.


    Any additional comments?

    This short story collection is full of werewolves, zombies, Greek idols, giant bugs, and the first kid born on the moon. With plenty of twisted humor. Oh yes. If the average puns and jokes that populate SFF literature merely get a weak grin out of you, then perhaps you need some deeper, darker humor? It can be found here. This collection contains 11 or 12 short stories plus the first 5 chapters of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain and the first few chapters of Prime Suspects. So it’s a great way to see if this author is for you. And it is thoroughly entertaining.

    While I won’t go through each and every short story, I will share my thoughts on my favorites.

    Raw and Reel – David is a TV producer, and he is filming a questionable show in Mexico. It’s a werewolf hunt. Yeah, werewolves turn up here and there and as long as they cage themselves during the full moon and don’t make a ruckus, no one much cares. But once one goes wild and crazy, then they have to be put down. Well, this particular werewolf may or may not have done the deed, but it looks like he will have to pay the price. And what of David and his sleazy soul? Well, there’s a surprise waiting for him. I liked the twisted nature of this tale from start to finish.

    My Son, The Monster – Daedalus and his son Icarus have been imprisoned by Minos. Daedalus is quite the inventor and manages to fashion a way to escape. As the narrative moves forward through the escape scenes, we also get small flashes of Icarus’s past, and it is not pretty. I liked this story for it’s new spin on an old, old tale. The ending was bitter and just.

    Charlie Horse – Oh my! Now this was such an excellent story. I am hard pressed to say which is my favorite of the lot, but this might be it. I am not much of zombie person, but this was awesome. Ted and his band, including the new kid Chuck, round up zombies. Yep. They have a few runners to entice the zombies out and get them to congregate in one location, and a nice big tank or caravan or such for holding them while they are transported to market. Most are sold to the zombie-powered turbines, generating green energy. A good zombie can walk in a circle for a few years before giving out, all the time pushing on a spinner connected to a turbine. Nice. I actually laughed out loud at the idea, thoroughly liking the take on zombies as something useful. Of course the stronger and faster ones can end up doing other things, like at the race tracks…….I’ll just let your twisted little minds chew on that.

    Reality Bites – Life insurance and vampires. You’ve been declared legally dead, zero heartbeat for the past week, but you can’t claim your life insurance benefits because you’re still ambulatory. Nor can you claim any government paycheck or social security. Sucks. Literally, for you are a vampire. well, Mr. Merril is anyway. As he tries first logic, then pleading, and finally the vampire thrall seduction stare on Fundamental Insurance worker Cheryl, his sad little tale unfolds. But Cheryl is an old hand at the insurance company, and has a few surprises of her own. Yep, it’s a messed up situation captured here for my amusement.

    Adventurers Beware – This is one of the stories that vies for my favorite of the litter. You’ve got your adventurers, Lord Byron, Lady Anise, Ragnor, and Nimblefingers. They adventure, whether the locals need some adventurers to swoop in and save them or not. Duncan runs the inn and he and the senior business women and men gather about. How to get rid of Lord Byron and his crew? Mulling it over a nice local beer, they come up with a plan. Adventurers love maps. Listening to this story made me think of my man’s D&D games, and of course the numerous hours I’ve logged playing one dungeon crawl PC game or another. very funny.

    The View From My Room - Adam was the first person born on the moon. His parents emigrated there perhaps 20 years ago and now Adam is a teen. He is prepping for his first trip the Earth to see his grandparents in person. Wearing a weighted full-body suit daily for several hours to build his muscles and bone density, he contemplates what it will be like to leave the moon. A crowd on the sparsely populated moon is perhaps 20 people. On Earth, the crowds will be unlike anything he has ever experienced. This was probably the only story in the lot that didn’t ride on twisted or dark humor. It was simply cute watching this teenager prep for his first big trip.

    Lieutenant Armchair – So here is the 3rd of my favorites. It’s nitty gritty and dark. Some biological agent escaped the labs a few years back and now Kansas is no more. Large, aggressive bugs (just one result of the agent) cause grief and consternation as they spread and make places uninhabitable to humans. Along the TX-OK border, Chris Gibson and his band of merry bug whackers have been sent out to take out a bee hive. But it’s dirty, dangerous business and their armchair lieutenant, who is safely tucked away back at headquarters, is barking orders that make no sense and may get one of them killed. Later, back at base, Gibson gets to unwind with a beer and gives his shoulder to teary Kelly, who had a bad day. There’s a lovely twist to this story, but I don’t want to ruin it.

    This book also includes the first 5 chapters of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, and it works quite well as a short story, or short novella. Mechani-Cal (Cal, for short) is a guy who has been screwed over one too many times. And now is looks like the world will be screwed over by mind-controlling bugs. Luckily, he has been able to lock himself up in his battlesuit and avoid being taken over. Unfortunately, it looks like the superheroes known as the the Olympians have been brainwashed. Battling a few of them, he manages to stun Aphrodite (aka Stacey), whose bug falls off. taking her back to his secret lair, she threatens all sorts of death and anatomical contortions upon him if he doesn’t release her. She needs her bug; it’s an addiction. And it goes from there. And it is pretty cool. Cal has issues, Stacey has issues. But somehow, someway (twisted and full of U-turns) they find a way to work together. I definitely need to read the full-length version.

    The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was once again an excellent narrator. I loved variety of voices he pulled off, from young Adam to battle-scarred Gibson. He even had a variety of female voices for this collection that were believable and not strained. Perfect pick for this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Fascinomas: Fascinating Medical Mysteries

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Clifton K. Meador, M.D.
    • Narrated By James H Kiser
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Fascinomas - fascinating medical mysteries. A paralyzed teen recovers overnight. A woman complains her breast implants speak. A man and his dog become gravely ill at the exact same time. These strange real-life cases and many more can be found in author and physician Clifton K. Meador's newest collection, Fascinomas. Combining the word fascinating with the term for a tumor or growth, fascinoma is medical slang for an unusually interesting medical case.

    William says: "Educational & Entertaining!"
    "Educational & Entertaining!"
    Overall
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    Story

    Here is another collection of fascinating medical mysteries. Written in the same vein as his other book, True Medical Detective Mysteries, Meador delivers an entertaining array of the bizarre, little known, and unusual medical cases. I enjoyed this book just as much as his previous collection.

    This collection has a greater number of self-inflicted illnesses and conditions than the first book did. I found these to be especially interesting. Sometimes they were seeking attention, sometimes they were ingesting something they did not know was the cause of their illness. There was once a time, not too long ago, when it was unknown acetaminophen could damage the liver if ingested in a large enough dose. Then there was the blue cheese case. The other side of the coin is well demonstrated by a case with a young athlete – the first three doctors assumed he was a drug seeker. Unfortunately, he was suffering from a real medical issue and only his life-long doctor took him seriously.

    The stories are told as if you have sat down to have a whiskey and chat with Meador. I can just picture the author and a colleague telling old war stories in a cozy library. While I enjoy big words and have a biology degree, I still appreciate that this book is written so that it is easily accessible to non-medical people.

    Narration: James Kiser did another great job on this book. He delivers the cases in a clear, yet conversational, voice. He has no trouble with the occasional medical jargon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Is Biocentrism Dead?: Understanding the Universe and Nature

    • UNABRIDGED (54 mins)
    • By Raj Bogle
    • Narrated By Valerie Gilbert
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Is Biocentrism Dead? It is a topic that many find a bit off-putting but it is a question that many individuals are starting to pose as they become wiser. The book explains what biocentrism is and how the tenets that surround this concept came into being. This is a book that the inquiring mind will appreciate, thus it is ideal for the individuals who want to learn more about themselves and the world around them. The author gradually disseminates the information to the listener, allowing them to fully understand what biocentrism really means.

    William says: "Interesting philosophy"
    "Interesting philosophy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an interesting little book on biocentrism. It is great for those who haven’t ventured into this philosophy before (such as myself). The concept is well explained along with the history of how it came about.

    What I took away from this book is that biocentrism puts biological life at the center of everything. This philosophy incorporates a deep respect for any life, human, non-human, plant, etc. Humans are a part of the world, and the larger universe, instead of being held above or aloof from it. As a biologist, there was much in this book that I resonated with.

    The book goes on to contemplate what was before the universe and gets rather philosophical, contemplating if life itself birthed the universe instead of the universe birthing life. While this book places biocentrism as a science and a theory, I don’t feel that it is quite there. A theory is testable, and this concept hasn’t been pushed that far yet. Some may place this idea in the realm of psuedoscience.

    Over all, it was an educational piece. Even if you don’t subscribe to this concept as a theory, it is still worthy of contemplation. I very much like the idea of biology being at the center of everything, instead of physics or chemistry.

    Narration: Valerie Gilbert was a great narrator for this book. She performed in a clear voice with excellent pacing. She had the right mix of questioning and enthusiasm.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unusual, Unknown & Unexplained

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By LaVonna Moore
    • Narrated By Shaun Toole
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    Seventy-two true-account short stories. The most comprehensive compilation of the bizarre, the unexplained, and supernatural experiences. A must read for anyone with an interest in ESP, life after death, ghosts, angels, or other matters not currently fully explainable by resorting to the laws of science.

    Teresa says: "GOOD Scary Stories!"
    "Quite the variety of stories!"
    Overall
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    Story

    This book is a collection of over 70 short accounts of the bizarre and unexplained. It covers a variety of paranormal events such as angels, after life experiences, and ghosts.

    This was an interesting account of various unexplained experiences. The variety was such that I never got bored with the book. While I felt some of the accounts could possibly be explained easily with coincidence or pranks, it was still good fodder for the imagination.

    I think this would be a useful little resource for authors wanting inspiration for a paranormal aspect to their writings. What I found most interesting were the reactions of the humans involved – did they believe immediately? Were they skeptical? If so, what changed their minds?

    Some of the ghost stories do have little advertisements for the haunted house turned bed & breakfast. For me, this diminished the validity of the story. But that is a small complaint and shouldn’t deter anyone who is interested in this subject.

    Narration: Shaun Toole did a decent job. The stories were so short that at times they blended into one another. Toole didn’t employ any particular voice distinctions for the various stories, instead choosing to read out the stories in a clear voice. I can see how it would be difficult to come up with different voices for each story, especially since few of the stories gave any hint of where they were located.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • To Light The Dragon's Fire: Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My!

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Margaret Taylor
    • Narrated By Fred Wolinsky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Dragon King, Draven Taraxus, never wanted the crown. Born to a dying breed of Rulers, Draven has sat on the throne for the last 100 years, thanks to his father's impeachment. Boredom and stagnation have left his kingdom, and his heart, ripe for the picking by a power hungry evil that has spent the same amount of time plotting and scheming to take over.

    Joan says: "Non-stop Dragon's ride for sure!"
    "Shifters & Chimeras, Oh My!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Twin sisters Terra and Lanni Heegan go caving in the wilds of Wyoming. For Terra, it is her last hurrah before entering into a loveless marriage. However, things take a turn pretty quickly and soon they are swept up in another world where shifters and chimeras rule. They will each face numerous foes, and perhaps even find a mate.

    Draven is a shifter and lord of the land. He is use to being obeyed and his every word taken seriously. That is, until he is presented with two examples of the mythical being known as human. Terra is pretty sure Lanni has set this up. Perhaps it is with actors. Perhaps it is one of those all submersive vids that you can buy. Maybe even a dose of mushrooms. So when she doesn’t take Draven seriously, things go awry. He has to shift into his dragon form to save her from a nasty fall. Unfortunately. Draven’s guards take Terra’s actions as an act of aggression and she and Lanni are tossed in a dungeon, only to be rescued by an unlikely being.

    The action picks up really quickly and Terra and Lanni, neither of the shrinking violet variety, do their best to hold their own. Periodically, they are being rescued. Sometimes they do the saving. Draven and his wing man (Arin) make a good duo for the twins to alternately argue with and fight evil side by side. The world building is full of fantastical creatures, such as talking animals, all sorts of chimeras, the shifters, and magical creatures who don’t appear to do any shifting (like the unicorns and rhocs). Arin is a bit of an outcast as he is part of a small group of beings that are never fully human, always retaining some traits of what they shift into. So I pictured him as looking a little like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, but more disgruntled and trimmer, being the war commander he is.

    While Terra is a bit more kick ass than Lanni, they both contribute to the plot and are not simply there as romantic interests. They do tend to do more thinking than the men, but this is required by someone if they are to outwit their foes. And the foes are many, with several of them hidden.

    My one quibble is that Lanni becomes a trauma medic without having had any hands on training or experience, but just from having read a medical book or two. At one point, a character is injured, passes out, and Lanni stitches this character up. That’s fine. Lots of people can do stitches in a pinch. Once the character wakes, she goes on to say how they must have had some internal bleeding. Uh… well, if that is the case then it is pure luck they didn’t die and that the bleeding either stopped on it’s own, or slowed enough to leave the injured stable until a real medic could be called.

    The romance is a light thread that carries throughout the book. For some of the characters, the connection is made really swift, and others it takes a while. It did not detract from the plot and in certain instances, added to it. There’s also a touch of modern and just over the horizon tech. I liked how this was done lightly, so that we could stay focused on the characters and the plot and not get hung up on whether this was fantasy or science fiction. The ending left us on a very dramatic note (which I liked) and then a bit of a cliffhanger. So be ready to jump right into Book 2 because there is plenty of plot left to unfold and resolve!

    The Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a good job with all the character voices. I especially liked his slightly furry voice for Aaron (and since he has whiskers and a kind of leonine face it totally fit). His female voices were believable and he had a range that allowed for distinct characters. There was a true challenge in doing voices for Terra and Lanni (who are twins) and yet making them distinct for the listener and he met that challenge with excellence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Over Her Head

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Nora Fleischer
    • Narrated By Anna Starr
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Maine, 1905: historian Frances Schmidt travels north in hopes of reading lawyer Garrett Hathaway's collection of books about mermen and mermaids. Ready to charm a crotchety old man, she's surprised to find a handsome young music-lover. But while Garrett seems more than willing to be her friend, he shies from getting any closer.

    William says: "Historical fiction + merpeople = Win!"
    "Historical fiction + merpeople = Win!"
    Overall
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    Set in early 1900s Maine, Frances Schmidt isn’t your average historian. Nope. She’s a woman. She has worked very hard to get her peers to ignore this fact so that she can finish her degree. She’s so close and the last big hurdle is completing her dissertation, one that she has focused on the myths and legends on merpeople. So she must travel to Maine to try to persuade Garrett Hathaway of letting her study his collection of such legends and tales. Since he is a very private person, she has quite a challenge ahead of him.

    The bulk of this story is told through Frances eyes and I really enjoyed her character. She’s chosen a field that is male dominated and has a passion for it. Her peers are a mix of men; some support her efforts, some don’t mind her as long as she doesn’t act like a woman, and then there are some who actively try to block or sabotage her efforts. Also, I liked that she isn’t tall and willowy, but rather short and curvy. Some even call her stocky.

    Garrett starts off as a pretty ordinary, if a little reclusive. However, he has a secret, one that has both left him lonely and hating himself but also given him such glee. I also suspect it is the reason he has such an athletic body.

    The relationship between these two starts off perfectly professionally. Frances stays at a boarding house while in Maine, making sure to leave Garrett’s house each day before sunset. Propriety must be maintained. She initially bribes him with cookies she baked herself. This later turns into a mutual enjoyment of baking. It was quite sweet to watch the romance blossom between these two, and come to near disastrous ruin a few times due to misunderstandings. These two had to work for their love!

    Sprinkled throughout the story are tidbits on merpeople – fanciful bits tossed in by the author but then also poems and works by other authors are cited by the main characters. These were especially nice touches.

    My one little quibble occurs near the end of the story, and as such, deals with a spoiler. SPOILER ALERT It wasn’t clear to me how or why Frances became a mermaid when she takes a swim with Garrett. He thinks he transmitted a disease to her, but surely he (or other merpeople) have swum with other people and they didn’t run into merpeople. I could have used a few lines stolen from mythology to make this more plausible. Or perhaps some mystical/magical reason for the transformation. END SPOILER

    Other than that one minor criticism, I really enjoyed this novella. The mix of merpeople myths, historical fiction, and romance kept me listening and not wanting to set the book down.

    The Narration: Anna Starr was a good pick for Frances. She had a solid, no nonsense voice for her that could also be a bit vulnerable when it came to matters of the heart. Starr had a range of voices that allowed both male and female characters to come through distinctly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Consumed: The Hunger, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jason Brant
    • Narrated By Wayne June
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (107)
    Story
    (107)

    Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and dissected by three rivers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an idyllic city. It's quiet, the traffic is nonexistent, and floating down the Allegheny River on a boat is peaceful and serene. It's perfect...as long as you can ignore the mindless monstrosities roaming the streets, vampires ruling the night, and the insane, power-hungry human survivors. Mankind has devolved, mutating into mindless horrors. Only weeks ago, they built skyscrapers and traveled to space.

    Mike Naka says: "worthy continuation of the story"
    "Lance + Cass = a very entertained listener"
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    Book 2 picks up about 1 week after Book 1 ended. Our heroes, Lance York and Cass of the War Axe, are on a boat in the Allegheny River outside of Pittsburgh. Dr. Emmett Brown and soldier Meghan Iverson are still with the duo, providing cover fire and medical treatment as needed. The world continues to devolve in to mutated monsters that roam night and day and militant, power-hungry humans. Yet, the river seems the safest….at least until they lose their boat.

    If you read my review of Devoured, Book 1, then you know I really enjoyed the start to this series. Book 2 does not disappoint in continuing the tale. In fact, I will say it is even better because Lance worked through a lot of his issues with his e-wife in Book 1 and we don’t have that slowing down the story line of Book 2. Our main characters are a unit, swiftly reacting to each other. Our plot is moving forward at a good clip. The scenery continues to devolve, creating more traps for our heroes. All the elements are present for a great zombie story, which this is. I enjoyed this book all in one day, coming up with additional chores to keep me in the kitchen or folding laundry, just so I would have a bit more listening time.

    Cass continues to be my hero. I want to grow up to be her and do shots with her. She’s very practical in how she tackles this new world, taking axe to monsters and human threats as needed. Plus, I like the way she dresses, even if many of the side characters think it strange. I expect as the world continues to circle the toilet, we’ll see more and more folks dressing as they like instead of according to supposed societal norms.

    As Lance spends more time with her, he comes to realize that he isn’t nearly as adept at dispatching foes as Cass is, and this bothers him a little bit. I loved that he was aware of his feelings of inadequacy, and how silly that was with the world as we know it ending and all, and yet he struggled with it. It created some humor and made Lance very human.

    Brown and Iverson become more prominent in the story and we get some back story to each of them. Of course, the Back to the Future jokes continue with Dr. Brown’s name, but they are sprinkled throughout the tale and don’t become annoying. Also, we learn the source of the Xavier Virus name – which I won’t spoil here. It is a little joke for geeks and nerds. It made me chuckle.

    All in all, this was an excellent continuation of the The Hunger series. Book 2 closed off a few smaller story arcs while opening a larger one. I am very much looking forward to Book 3!

    Narration: Wayne June is a great voice for Lance, who is a pretty average guy. Wayne brings Lance to life with his emotions and his humor. I can’t imagine another narrator portraying Lance. Wayne also has a variety of voices for the ladies and other men. He does a great gruff old geezer and a crazy radio codger.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ravaged: The Hunger, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Jason Brant
    • Narrated By Wayne June
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (73)

    Welcome to the mountains of Pennsylvania, one of the last vestiges of the human race. Lance York, a self-described loser in another life, has rediscovered himself in the midst of the apocalypse. Along with a cadre of other survivors, including the hardened, sexy Cass, Lance has taken refuge in a compound, struggling to survive the onslaught of monstrosities descending upon them each night.

    The Lone Mopper says: "If you haven't heard all 3 books---"
    "Cass & her axe continue to carve a path!"
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    Book 3 picks up roughly 1 month after Book 2 ends. Our heroes are still at the compound they wrested away from the maniacal Ralph. Other survivors continue to join them and the camp’s resources are starting to strain. Add to that, the infected monsters seem to be getting smarter and are targeting the camp. Even with the arrival of a new ally, they might not survive.

    Our main foursome continue to face the odds. Each one of them has a demon or three to face in this installment of The Hunger series. Lance York, the man who started the apocalypse in nothing but a hospital gown, has gone from being a sad couch potato to a man of action. He’s at that point where he can look at himself and see the changes – both physically and psychologically. The world has gone to crap and he has risen from it, becoming a man he can respect. I have really enjoyed his story arc because he is just such a normal guy. Perhaps we would all benefit from an apocalypse.

    Cass continues to grow as a character too. She was use to fending for herself before the infected covered the Earth. However, her time spent with Lance has shown her the benefits to being a little soft around a few select humans. She’s still a bad ass with a war axe and has her own dress code, but now she has opened a bit to Lance and even Emmett and Meghan.

    Speaking of Emmett and Meghan, they play more central roles in this book as well. The group as a whole face some difficult decisions, but both Meghan and Emmett, who have trained and served in their own ways to protect and preserve life, must face the decision to take life. They were fine sidekicks in Book 2; in this book, they are integral and I would miss them if they weren’t there.

    The plot line keeps us moving along. There’s still plenty of action and savagery from the infected, but those are punctuated with moments of reflection or humor. One of the things I really like about this series is that the dangers change with each book. We have the human dangers – humans like to be jerks to each other and that probably won’t change. Also, the infected – those savage monsters – have started to show more than bestial reactions to stimuli. They are already incredibly deadly, but now imagine them able to reason and problem solve! It makes for a very exciting plot!

    With new foes and dangers, I was concerned for more than one of our foursome throughout the book. The ending was very satisfying and I can only hope that the author continues on with these characters. I am not ready to let them go.

    Narration: Wayne June once again was THE voice for Lance York. I like his average guy in a crappy situation voice. It really suits Lance’s humor. As usual, Wayne had a good array of male and female voices for all the other characters. He even pulled off a Pittsburgh-specific accent for one side character that I thought was very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cult of Sutek: The Epic of Andrasta and Rondel, Vol. 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Joshua P. Simon
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    His life has no purpose. She's out to prove hers. An unlikely alliance forms. Their legend is born. Rondel a once famous minstrel is crippled and rotting away in prison. He has nothing to live for until Andrasta, a mysterious warrior, gives his live meaning again. The pair escapes prison and in the aftermath, form a partnership they hope will lead to fame and fortune. Their journey is a long one, filled with peril, adventure, and even failure.

    William says: "Something new for the Sword & Sorcery genre."
    "Something new for the Sword & Sorcery genre."
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    Another addition to the ever-growing Swords & Sorcery genre, this is a tale not to be passed by. Oh, all the expected elements are there, they just aren’t quite what one is expecting. We have our warrior, Andrasta, who is a a well-muscled, highly trained half-breed woman with almost no sense of humor. We have our near useless (at the beginning) comic relief – Rondel. He use to be a great bard and something of a fop. However, he starts this story off mutilated and having spent too many years in prison. These two make an unlikely alliance, and the adventuring begins with an escape!

    Every time I thought this book would take a turn and head down the often-trod trail of mediocrity, it surprised me. Are there maidens who need rescuing? Well, yes but they are also willing to stab your eyes out if you turn out to be with the bad guys. Is there an untried young magician in the group? Well, yes but Andrasta puts him through some really tough & rough training before he has to do any actual battle. Is there a horrendously evil cult that everyone must try to escape from at the end? Well yes, and not everyone makes it.

    Plus, there is all this other great stuff going on in the book. Like Andrasta has his huge chip on her shoulder that only she can knock down. But until she is ready to do that, she will just pound Rondel into some semblance of a fighter. There’s this horrible place called the Blood Forest. Yeah, it’s creepy and hungry, evil things lurk with in it. Of course I want our heroes to have to enter it! So, that was awesome, twice over because they had to go through the forest twice.

    Our two main characters had excellent story arcs for a first book. We met them and then they slowly changed through out the book. Rondel is the more compassionate of the two and he rubs off on Andrasta, even as she teaches him to use the sword and make shim run laps to build up his endurance. Then the author takes it one step further and has a few of our side characters also grow and change through out the book. I think I will miss two of our side characters, as I don’t expect them to be in the next book. On occasion, there is a minor character that happens by at the right time who provides critical info to the heroes. While I understand this is done to help move the plot forward, and it was decently done, it was also obvious that was the character’s entire point. If I have to have a criticism about this book, that would be my tiny, little one right there.

    By the end of the book, we have plenty of murder and mayhem because the Cult of Sutek is full of evil people who need to die. Hopefully, the good guys got them all. While there is plenty of death, it is not particularly gory and the author doesn’t linger of spilled guts or the blood rituals the cult practices. Enough details are given to make you want the cult dead but not so much that your lunch will revolt on you.

    I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this series. Andrasta is a fascinating character because she pounds against boundaries until they break. Rondel has also earned a warm little place in my heart with his mix of practicality and compassion. The two make a great duo!

    Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a good pick for this book. Much of the tale is told through Rondel’s eyes and he Kafer makes a very good broken bard turned sellsword. He also had a plethora of female and male voices to fill out all the other characters. He had a good young male voice for the untried magician. The book does talk of accents from time to time, and I couldn’t discern much of an accent given to any of the characters, to that would be my only quibble. If the book hadn’t mentioned accents as much as it did, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hidden Masters of Marandur: The Pillars of Reality, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (890)
    Performance
    (829)
    Story
    (824)

    Someone wants to kill Mari, a young steam mechanic in the guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization and that mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young mage who has learned that mechanics are not frauds, as his guild teaches, and that mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

    Joseph says: "Exceptional"
    "A great sequel in a masterful series!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Book 1 in the series left us with Mage Alain and Master Mechanic Mari going separate paths. Both strive to fit in and make strides in their respective guilds. Mari takes on every task required of her, until one day she is told she must travel to a war-torn area, on her own. Mage Alain is in a similar situation, having been assigned to protect a group of people, only to be targeted by other mages who are tossing around lightning. Mari & Alain unite forces once more and strive to come up with a solution to turning aside the storm they both sense is about to hit their world. They turn their eyes towards the long buried and forgotten archives of the long dead city Marandur.

    I absolutely loved Book 1 in this series and Book 2 did not disappoint, though I would be hard-pressed to say which one I enjoyed more. Mari and Alain have great chemistry and I love watching them try to figure out their relationship, as well as survive the numerous enemies they have gained. Alain is delving into long suppressed memories of family in order to regain his emotional side. He is also developing social skills, which adds some much appreciated humor even in the bleakest moments. Mari struggles a bit with an age-old prophecy concerning the possible ending to the world as they know it. If I have any complaint about this book, it is that sometimes Mari is a little too emotional. Also, she has a streak of jealousy that is a little ridiculous and isn’t fully resolved by the end of this book. I wasn’t a particular fan of this trait in her and felt it could have been less emphasized.

    That little complaint aside, the plot is rich with further developments. Both guilds have secrets, but they also have folks who want those secrets out. Plus there are the Dark Mechanics who we briefly glimpsed at the end of Book 1. So many folks want these two dead! So with great reluctance, the duo finally head off to Marandur only after they feel other possibilities have been exhausted.

    Now Marandur was not as expected. It was more complicated and what they found there could be a huge asset….if only they can get out alive. I really don’t want to spoil any of this for you, as all the Marandur scenes happen late in the book. Let me just say it was a bitch to get into and, even then, they were not safe.

    This book does a masterful job of weaving steampunky science fiction with philosophical fantasy. It’s an excellent combination and sets the bar high for the small, but growing, subgenre of science fantasy.

    Narration: MacLeod Andrews once again did a great job of Mari and Alain. He can totally cut all emotion from his voice when doing a Mage, and yet imbue Mari’s voice with so much emotion when she is frightened or angry. I especially like his voice for Mari as it is a bit throaty and it makes it so easy to picture her as a serious mechanic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shattered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4088)
    Performance
    (3809)
    Story
    (3795)

    For nearly 2,000 years, only one Druid has walked the Earth - Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword have kept him alive as he’s been pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company. Atticus’ apprentice, Granuaile, is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy. And Owen has some catching up to do.

    D says: "The third druid"
    "This series keeps getting better & better!"
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    Story

    Fans of this series are in for a treat with this latest installation. It picks up where the previous book left off. Granuaile is a full fledged druid. Atticus (our 2000+ year old druid) has unstuck his teacher, Owen Kennedy, from a bubble of time. The three must gather their wits for the forthcoming battle with Loki. But, alas, there is much to do before they can get to that.

    If you’ve read my reviews for the previous books in this series, then you will know that it took me a long time to warm up to Granuaile. Well, with this book I can finally say that I have connected with her and that I would be sorely sad to see her dead. She and her companion hound go off to India to see about rescuing her dad. The witch Laksha does her best to assist her. Things do not go as planned and for a while there, I was pretty worried about Granuaile. Some of the most intense scenes of this book belonged to Granuaile.

    Atticus spent time bouncing around, tending to some of his own matters, but also in educating Owen and seeing that he was acclimatizing to the modern world. How did he do this, you might ask. Well, by leaving him with the Arizona werewolves of course. All werewolves love a sharp tongued, ill-mannered druid who can shape shift into either a bear or a hunting hound. All sorts of colorful exchanges were had, much to the amusement of this listener. Owen’s crazy remarks, some of which had to do with his nipples, had me chuckling out loud.

    So, without spoiling anything for this book, it is a worthy installation in this enjoyable series. The deities still play a major role in Atticus’s life. His friends are still stalwart, but in ever more and more danger. And epic battle gives us a very satisfying end to this book, but not to the series.

    Narration: Once again, Luke Daniels does a great job. He has so many difficult names and words to roll off his tongue and he does it with seeming effortlessness. I especially love his cantankerous voice for Owen Kennedy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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