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William

Ojo Caliente, NM, United States | Member Since 2011

ratings
32
REVIEWS
23
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
34

  • Horror, Humor, And Heroes

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Jim Bernheimer
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    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
  • Unlikely: A Kingdoms Gone Story (Volume 1)

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Frances Pauli
    • Narrated By Lisa L Wiley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Satina knows better than anyone that gangs are bad news. As a Granter, she uses her magic to help people escape them. So far, her sole reward has been a life on the run, dodging from pocket to pocket and only landing in the ordinary world long enough to put her special skills to use. When the goodmother arrives in Westwood, however, a magic-hungry gang is just one step behind her, and their leader wants more than just the town. He wants Satina, and he'll do anything, use anyone, to get her.

    William says: "Magical pockets!"
    "Magical pockets!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Unlikely: A Kingdoms Gone Story (Volume 1) to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print. On one hand, the narration was sometimes stilted. On the other hand, I may never have read this book in print. My job lets me listen to audiobooks as I work, so I am very glad this is in audio format.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Satina - she complex. Sometimes scared, sometimes firm, sometimes brave. Very human.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Where Satina shows Marten her secret pocket where she harvests her medicinal herbs, which are guarded by a gargoyle.


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

    An unlikely group of characters trying to save just one small village.


    Any additional comments?

    This story was rich and magical. Frances Pauli created a world with its own lingo, a rich atmosphere that I sank into. I loved riding around in Satina’s head, figuring out her world and the mess she stepped into in Westwood. There’s history and lost knowledge to be considered, different cultures and peoples, and the broken down disarray that allows the gangs to rule. And of course, there are the other magical denizens keeping a low profile in Westwood.

    Enter the imp Skinner, Marten. Is he a bit of a mischief maker? A little chaotic good? At first Satina isn’t sure. Marten runs a little store in Westwood and the bullying gangs aren’t above wrecking the place and roughing up Martin to force Satina into helping them with their plans for total local domination. Marten was an intriguing character since I was not sure where he stood at the beginning. Of course, I became quite fond of him by the end. And one gang, lead by Zane, became more of a pain in the ass than the others. While Zane threatens Marten’s health to get Satina to help him, he also lets Satina know that more of her is desired.

    My favorite aspect of this story was the pockets, magical bubbles closed off from the real world unless you have the magic and can enter them. In these pockets, many of the remaining magical folks (faeries and such) choose to live. These pockets range in size from small grassy knolls perfect for a lovers’ tryst to small villages (where the magic folk can romp and play). Satina uses the pockets to travel safely, often setting up camp in one at night (provided she can find one). We learn a little about the magical denizens of these pockets, how they have chosen to shut out the real world and humanity. And because of this, much of humanity has forgotten how magic works.

    All in all, a very good start to a fantasy series. There’s been great set up of Satina’s world, with plenty more left to discover.

    Narration: Lisa L. Wiley was a good choice for the voice of Satina. She had a great mix of wonder, hesitancy, and resolve in her performance of Satina. Her male voices were also decent. On occasion, Wiley did narrate rather slowly and a few times there was some stilted speech patterns. These were not enough to make me put the book down.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dragon Stones: Dragon Stone Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Kristian Alva
    • Narrated By Adam Chase
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Sequestered deep in the capital, the tyrannical Emperor Vosper weaves a plan to destroy all the dragons. He succeeds in driving them to the very brink of extinction. Only a handful of dragons and riders remain; living in exile in the desert. When young Elias Dorgumir finds a carved dragon stone in the forest, it brings empire soldiers to his doorstep, and puts Elias on the run with a bounty on his head.

    William says: "A fantasy with a gravity to appeal."
    "A fantasy with a gravity to appeal."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Dragon Stones the most enjoyable?

    The narration was excellent. But so was the story. I liked that the story isn't all adventure and good people.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Elias - because he is in the thick of it and doesn't know squat.


    Which character – as performed by Adam Chase – was your favorite?

    Thorin - loved the burr.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The slaughtering of baby dragons was a touch disturbing, which made me want to read on.


    Any additional comments?

    I was hooked on this book from the beginning. It starts with a dark scene – the Emperor’s men have been out searching and destroying dragon nests and they have just found one. While not overly graphic, the point comes across loud and clear with the killing of newly hatched dragons. I definitely like my fantasy to have a little bit of a darker side, a more serious side, as this shows there are real consequences for the characters to consider. Then we moved to Elias and his grandma. She was a strong, guiding force in his life and such an integral character before Elias set off on his adventure. Through her, we have just enough background to be very curious about many things: her own past, Elias’s parents, dragon riders and dragons in general, etc. I definitely wanted more and the author delivered.

    Pretty soon, Elias comes across the dwarf Thorin (and I think Thorin is actually a half-breed dwarf-halfling, but I could have that wrong). And yes, is Thorin a nod to Tolkien’s work? Thorin and Elias become quick friends, mostly because Thorin has recently fallen out of a tree and needs some healing and Elias obliges. They adventure off together, dodging the Emperor’s men and necromancers, meeting more dwarves, ever heading for safety. The necromancer we meet was freaky scarey and the voice the narrator gave her was quite fitting and a little frightening.

    The adventure scenes are speckled with scenes of another kingdom – the last hold out from Vosper’s tyrannical reign. Dragons, their riders, and magic users are welcomed and safe there (or at least not actively hunted by the government). We meet some of the dragon riders, the dragons, and the king. There is an interesting scene involving star fruit (a personal favorite of mine). And in the second half of the book we meet a dragon and her rider who were once imprisoned and tortured by Vosper and his minions. Wow! I don’t know if they are the good guys, good guys gone a little insane, or potentially a chaotic bad element off on their own. I am fascinated by these two and really, really look forward to learning more about them in the next installment.

    This was a great start to a fantasy series. While suitable for most (if not all) audiences, it has enough gravity to strongly appeal to most adult readers. The characters have depth and history, the world building is just enough to give scope and interest without bogging down the story. The narration was excellent.

    Narration: Here is where I gush about the narration of Adam Chase. I loved his various accents for the different peoples of this book, especially Thorin’s voice and that creepy voice of the necromancer. His female voices were also done quite well, especially for Elias’s granma.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gladstone

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Miller
    • Narrated By Deren Hansen
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Jack Saunders just wants a new start after a messy divorce. He doesn't bargain on a wrong turn and a breakdown in the Arizona desert. A beautiful girl coming to his rescue on a classic Indian motorcycle might mean things are looking up. Or, they might be turning really strange in a town that time forgot, with friendly people willing to die for a cause...to save a founder's statue.

    Robert says: "Great Book, I loved it within 5 minutes"
    "Twlight Zone + Western"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Gladstone again? Why?

    Yes, especially if I finish the series. It would be fun to go back and relisten to it in a few years.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Gladstone?

    Susan and Jack under the stars.


    Which character – as performed by Deren Hansen – was your favorite?

    The Brit.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No. It wasn't that kind of book.


    Any additional comments?

    This story caught my attention early on. Jack breaking down on a dusty road in Arizona really isn’t that odd. Lots of dusty roads in the Southwest. Lots of people break down. But once he gets to Gladstone, we start to see interesting little bits that let us, the readers, know that all is not as it seems. So while I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on with the townsfolk, I had fun watching Jack start to notice the oddities. The town is small, tucked away in a canyon. There’s one bar where folks go to drink and socialize and lose at darts. One man goes out every few weeks to bring in supplies. So no deliveries from the outside world. Yet folks have cell phones and computers. So these folks are not ignorant of the rest of the world. Indeed the set up is excellent, giving the reader plenty to ponder and keep them reading on.

    The middle of the story sagged a bit for me as everyone was way, way polite. While we do start to learn of Susan’s strange affinity with animals, that was pretty much the highlight of the middle. But the last third picked up again with Haskell, who use to live in Gladstone. He becomes the main antagonist. Of course, Jack isn’t aware of Haskell or his reasons for wanting to cause destruction to Gladstone, so the townsfolk have to make a choice of whether or not to trust the man. Will Jack help the town? Will they kick him out? Will they tie him up and lock him in his car until all the excitement is over and then toss him out? I wasn’t sure until the last quarter of the book how things would turn out for Jack – and that is one of the things I liked about this book.

    The plot starts off strong, but by the end I had some questions, mostly about the other main character, Susan. She is Native American, but we never learn her family name. And since she has this strong affinity for the animals, wild and tame, I wondered how she felt about the townsfolk eating meat. I can’t recall her specifically eating meat, but she did go to a dance where a pig was being roasted. Luckily, the author didn’t mind chatting on line and assured me that all meat was brought in from the outside (so, no the townsfolk were not eating Susan’s friends). And Susan has her Caucasian name because her Native American name is too hard for many people to pronounce.

    Also, my one real criticism is that Susan is the only non-Caucasian in this book. If you have read the book and know the ending, this doesn’t make much sense. SPOILER ALERT The canyon has some magical quality that has preserved Susan since the 1800s. Her family left her there to go finish business warring and never came back. So after a few years, she was lonely, and started taking in strays – like these sick, dying folks who couldn’t keep up with a caravan heading to California. But for some reason she never found any Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, or Native Americans that were sick or wounded or being chased by bad people to take in and help. Given the racial mix of the Southwest over the 200 year time period, you’d think there would be at least one or two other non-Caucasian’s taken in and who also decided to stay. END SPOILER. Still, perhaps this will come up in future installments in the series and we’ll see a more realistic cast of characters.

    The ending wrapped up the major plot points for this story, but also left the door open for the next book in the series. By the end, we have more info about the antagonist and his reasons for attacking Gladstone and we also know something of the magical qualities of the canyon. Jack still needs to find his spot in life, and the townsfolk may have found an ally in Jack. Oh, and part of this book takes place in the town I was born in, albeit I only ever visited the hospital – my parents living in an even smaller town that had no medical personnel whatsoever.

    Narration: The narration was very good, Hansen capturing Jack’s often questioning attitude as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Hansen also had very nice feminine voices, a British accent, and a Tennessee accent too (when it was required).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death by Didgeridoo: A Jamie Quinn Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Barbara Venkataraman
    • Narrated By Carrie Lee Martz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit.

    luvshihtzu says: "Would Have Been Better in eBook or Print Format"
    "Didgeridoo, Asperger sydrome, and murder."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Death by Didgeridoo?

    Such a collection of characters!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jamie Quinn - she's not perfect, calls in help when she needs it, and does what she can.


    Which character – as performed by Carrie Lee Martz – was your favorite?

    Adam - his Asperger speech pattern was done well.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Jamie having a heart to heart with her aunt about the recent death of a relative.


    Any additional comments?

    Jamie Quinn doesn’t sleep, or at least, not much. So of course the job as a divorce attorney is perfect for filling her hours. Having recently lost her mother, Jamie is sleeping less than usual and consuming more coffee than usual to compensate. That is when her aunt calls in a panic; Jamie’s cousin Adam has been arrested for murder! Jamie drives to the rescue, facing down a hard-nosed detective, and starts digging into the death of Adam’s music teacher. Set in a small town in Florida, there are plenty of interesting characters to this humorous murder.

    This was a quaint, fun little mystery. I found Jamie easy to relate to. There was just enough background to give her some depth, but not enough to drag down the story. After all, it is just over 2 hours long. Not much room for pesky background details. Then there is Adam, a teen age boy with Asperger Syndrome. The police found him on scene when they reported to the 911 call, dead music teacher at his feet, repeatedly apologizing. yep, poor Adam looked pretty guilty.

    Jamie feels woefully inadequate to dig into a mystery and to clear Adam, let alone any client, from a murder charge. She is a divorce attorney, not a criminal case attorney. So she calls on a good friend for help, and a shady almost-friend for more help. Together, the mystery starts to unfold and it was quite fun to watch how the pieces came together.

    If I have any criticism, it is that I felt the ending was a little rushed. We had all this great, sometimes humorous, drama through out the book, and then the ending was a little rushed. Still, not enough of a negative to deter me from enjoying further works by this author.

    Narration: Carrie Lee Martz gave Jamie a clear voice, capturing her various emotions of alarm, anger, concern, sadness, relief. And she did a decent job at Adam’s stilted speech patterns too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities: Quirky Essays for Quirky People

    • UNABRIDGED (55 mins)
    • By Barbara Venkataraman
    • Narrated By Carrie Lee Martz
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    At 8,000 words, this collection of humorous essays explores such quirky topics as: disastrous home repairs, ("A Trip to the Hardware Store"), an unfortunate dinner party ("Dinner is Served"), the truth about lazy people ("Lazy Bones"), the weird life of a debt collector ("Your Account is Past Due") and obsessions with gadgets ("Gadget Girl"). Other essays examine how surreal the aging process is ("Where Did the Time Go?")

    Creating Serenity Reviews says: "Hilarious!"
    "Fun, inoffensive, very mild."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Barbara Venkataraman and/or Carrie Lee Martz?

    Yes. I have listened to Venkataraman's Jamie Quinn Book 1 and really enjoyed it. Same narrator.


    If you’ve listened to books by Barbara Venkataraman before, how does this one compare?

    It was so inoffensive, so mellow, that I am not sure it will stand out in my memory in 2 or 3 months.


    Have you listened to any of Carrie Lee Martz’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, I listened to her perform Jamie Quinn Book 1 and I liked that book better.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No. The sequence of short stories would not interest me as a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it stands alone just fine.

    This collection of humorous essays captures snippets of real life. From the hardware store trip, to debt collection, to a failed dinner party, and the finance among friends, these little stories provide amusement.

    I can see myself in several of these essays. I especially liked the dinner party story, Dinner Is Served. The narrator goes to great lengths to serve a tasty and impressive dinner. However, all her friends have dietary restrictions – allergic to nuts, avoiding gluten, etc. The tale ends on an amusing note of everyone deciding to order pizza, only to disagree on the toppings!

    Your Account Is Past Due was my second favorite with silly little stories from a debt collector’s point of view. People tell the collector all sorts of things about their personal lives while explaining why they haven’t paid their bill.

    Finally, the title piece, A Trip to the Hardware Store, gave me a giggle mostly because a confused pet dog became so flustered he piddled on fresh cement, creating quite a lot of rework for the owners. Yep, that would be my dog.

    Over all, the collection was fun but not brilliant. It is suitable for all audiences with no cussing, no violence, and no adult situations. Basically, it was inoffensive. However, if you have a shared commute and want to listen to something besides your carpool snoring, this could be a fun listen. I did prefer her Jamie Quinn murder mystery over this book but this can serve as a good intro to the author’s sense of humor.

    Narration: Carrie Lee Martz provided humor and surprise to the various characters in these essays. Her clear voice provided a nice narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Darkbound

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Michaelbrent Collings
    • Narrated By Steve Marvel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    There is no light at the end of some tunnels.... The New York subway system has:656 miles of track... 468 stations... 31 thousand turnstiles... and 1.64 BILLION fares yearly.

    For six of those fares, the trip is going to be one they will never forget.

    Six strangers will board a subway. But this subway is unlike the others.

    This subway doesn't take you where you want or where you need. It takes you where you fear.

    This subway...is Darkbound.

    Amy says: "Fast Paced Horror"
    "Direct line to Hell, no waiting."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Darkbound again? Why?

    Perhaps in a year or two. It was fun, in a twisted sort of way.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The abuelita as she had some of the best lines and obviously had some history - I kept wanting more of her story.


    Which character – as performed by Steve Marvel – was your favorite?

    Sarah - her deadly, quiet, controlled voice was chilling.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Near the end, one of the characters faces her children and talks of the family business.


    Any additional comments?

    A subway train driven by a skeleton takes on 6 passengers, all in one car. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have different reasons for being chosen for this very ride. Full of suspense, and at times, gore, this fast-paced thriller grabs you early on and keeps you interested the whole way through. Jim, our mild-mannered narrator and family man, provides the viewpoint for the story. It is through his eyes and his prejudices that we see these other characters. An abuelita (little Hispanic grandmother) actually first meets Jim on the platform as they wait for their train. She is kicking a man (Freddy) in the lower legs; he is dressed in a trench coat and sucking a lollipop and the other characters all assume him to be a pedophile. Once the train loads, we get to meet an older man who is from Eastern Europe’s Georgia and has been involved in some shady life style choices. There’s also a tall, model-esque woman (Sarah) in a business suit and NY gang member.

    I have read a few of Collings’s books now and all are easy to get caught up in; this is even more so. Right away, we have a hint of the paranormal and we have a short grandmother giving some vicious kicks to Freddy who is ogling the photo of Jim’s wife and daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of this novel. The characters were set and then the plot ran with them. While I will say that the characters are pretty one dimensional, this book is more about the action. We do get a little bit more on each character as one after the other suffers some gruesome death. And there are plenty of gruesome scenes. Out of all the Collings books I have read, I believe this to be the most graphic in violence and gore. And I was OK with that, because these characters have all done some pretty horrendous things in their pasts.

    There is a wonderful twist that I want to say something about with out giving anything away. Such a challenge this early in the morning! Not all the characters are as they first seem and the ending wasn’t what I expected. There. That is vague enough. For a fast-paced thriller, this was excellent; I was enjoying the book, but I had certain ideas of how it would end. But then the twist hits and the ending is different and that took this book to the next level for me.

    My one criticism is that the characters by and large are pretty one dimensional and fit into stereotypes. It’s not necessary that they be anything else for the plot, but a little more would have been nice.

    The Narration: Steve Marvel was a great fit for Jim (the main character) who is POV for the story. His mild-mannered voice caught on excitement, fear, sadness, terror. Indeed, he did an excellent job with all the emotions that Jim went through. A few of the stereotype accents were a bit over done (the Hispanic grandmother and the gang member) but I liked his soft, deadly voice for Sarah (the business woman) and Eastern European man. I would listen to another book narrated by him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rise to Power: The David Chronicles, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Uvi Poznansky
    • Narrated By David George
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Here is the story of David as you have never heard it before: from the king himself, telling the unofficial version, the one he never allowed his court scribes to recount. In his mind, history is written to praise the victorious—but at the last stretch of his illustrious life, he feels an irresistible urge to tell the truth. In the first volume, Rise to Power, David gives you a fascinating account of his early years, culminating with a tribal coronation. Rooted in ancient lore, his is a surprisingly modern memoir.

    James D. says: "A Fantastic Twist on a Familiar Biblical Tale"
    "Redeemable? Or should he be beheaded?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Rise to Power the most enjoyable?

    Educational. I felt like I was in a different place and time listening to this book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like that the main character is very interesting. He starts off one thing (young, on a lark, an artist) and becomes someone else through the story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The final scene. It was very intense. While the main character did some questionable deeds throughout the book, the ending left a short list of things he had not done.....but perhaps the character would be willing to do in the right circumstances. Chilling!


    If you could take any character from Rise to Power out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Abigail. Supposedly, she is clever and I want to see that first hand. Also, supposedly she is a great cook and I want to see what she thinks of modern cuisine.


    Any additional comments?

    The story opens with an old king, one who has had his claws and fangs pulled. Indeed, he is not a particularly impressive specimen. Through the course of one night, his memory flashes back to younger days. David started off as a court entertainer – a poet, a dancer, a harp player. But then one decision after another leads David down a road of tough choices, choices that often lead to blood. Set in the land of Israel in the 1st or 2nd century BC, we watch as David rises in power, watch as that power is snatched away, and then watch as David claws that power back.

    This story was new to me as I am not religious, though I am pretty certain that the life of David is chronicled in the Christian and Hebrew bibles. So some of you may already be familiar with many of the details of this story. Even I, who lives under a rock, had heard the tale of David versus Goliath. I have to admit that my overall ignorance of David and his deeds added to my pleasure in discovering this tale through this book. except for the David versus Goliath fight, I had no idea what would happen to David. So, yes I fretted over him.

    He started off so simple and care-free. He was a court entertainer and a bit of a ladies’ man. A young lad soon to be a man who had little a need to be noticed. Of course, the King (King Saul) offers him a daughter’s hand in marriage for defeating Goliath. This turns out to be a bit of a ruse and David ends up with another daughter. But don’t worry, later in the story he collects a few more wives. He has plenty of companionship in the bedroom. Just as he has plenty of conflict in the king’s court and later in the battlefield.

    David is a complicated guy. He starts off on a bit of a lark, off for adventure. Then marriage and court intrigue send him into a series of conflicts that bloody his hands. By the end of the book, we have a very different picture of David. I am not sure I like the man he turned into, even as I am sure that I am quite intrigued by him. The ending left me ready for the sequel in the series, wanting to know if David can redeem himself of his misdeeds, or if I am going to want to behead him.

    My few criticisms are small, as I quite enjoyed my time with this book. The first partly stems from my own cultural and (perhaps) historical ignorance. There is a scene where David must collect the foreskins of 100 Philistines. Now I assume that the only way to do that is to convert the uncut men to Judaism, and part of that conversion means the willing circumcision. The other option is to kill the Philistine men and then collect their foreskins. I can only imagine that would be a grisly task left to servants and they would probably do it quickly, so there might be a few extra tips thrown in with the foreskins. Ugh! Oh, and these were a wedding present. As you can see, I had to make some assumptions there as to why David would be tasked with foreskin collection duty.

    The other criticism is that the ladies are mostly wives and sex objects. We’re told one lady (Abigail, I think) is particularly clever, but in the few lines she had, I did not see it. The ladies don’t seem to have anything other than David to talk about, so I didn’t get a sense of their personalities.

    Still, with those in mind, I did enjoy this book, and I enjoyed learning a bit of history from it. David is a complex character that evolves through out the book and while I may not end up liking him and wanting to have him over for tea, I want to know more about him.

    The Narration: David George made a good David, scoffing and pouting and womanizing in all the right places. He also did a good job expressing incredulity (like the numerous times King Solomon has to throw his spear at someone in court). I especially liked his voice of the taunting David when certain items were liberated (quietly and sneakily) from an enemy’s camp. His female voices were rather similar, but as the women didn’t have major roles and didn’t chat with one another, it was easy to keep their characters apart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dastardly Bastard

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Edward Lorn
    • Narrated By Glenn Marcum
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    When war photographer Mark Simmons is sent to do a promo on Waverly Chasm, he assumes it's a puff piece, a waste of his talents. Widow Marsha Lake brings her son, Lyle, to help him heal after his father's death. Donald Adams, aka H.R. Chatmon, joins the tour to get away from a sticky situation. Justine McCarthy consents to the hike to placate her boyfriend, Trevor. For Jaleel Warner, the tour guide, walking the chasm is just part of his job. Each of these people must face their darkest memories in order to discover and defeat the secret buried in Waverly Chasm.

    William says: "Trevor ended up with no pants."
    "Trevor ended up with no pants."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Dastardly Bastard again? Why?

    Yes, it made me laugh and gasp and wonder what I would do if I had to face my deepest, darkest crap again. But in the great outdoors. With witnesses.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Dastardly Bastard?

    Mark carrying Donald football style. Donald facing his worst shame and fear. Justine ending the nightmare.


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

    His voice adds tension. I tend to read faster than the narrators, so audiobooks slow down a story for me and allow me to enjoy the details more.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Mark facing the dead soldiers, and then using them to take out an even worse foe.


    Any additional comments?

    Now you probably want to hear about the book. In short, I loved it. It was fast-paced, full of wit and suspense. Each character came with their own baggage, their own horrors, that they had to face. Justine was my favorite. She was a real hero in this story, pulling folks together, leading the way when the path was not clear. At first I didn’t care for Donald the writer. He was a bit of a dick. But then we get a peek at his deepest horror and shame and I think my heart cracked a little for him. After that, I liked him quite a bit. Mark was also a favorite as he faced a professional quandary as a war correspondent – what to publish and what to delete, how much truth to tell?

    I liked that not everyone survived (because I do find it unrealistic when all the good guys survive a paranormal attack of some sort). The pacing was good (never a dull moment). And the mix of people was great – various sizes, various skin tones, single, paired up, widowed, etc. The ending was more upbeat than the other two Lorn books I have read, so that was unexpected for me (but I liked it!). I really enjoyed that the characters had to go through some tough crap, face it, makes friends with it, and then they could attempt to come out the other side. Nothing was just given to the good guys.

    I’ve now read three Lord books and quite enjoyed each one. This one did not disappoint and may have been even more enjoyable because it was an audiobook and I could listen as I worked.

    Narration: Glen Marcum was an excellent fit for this audiobook. He infused the story with tension, tenderness, pissed-offness, etc. as needed. Edward Lorn writes well, and Glen Marcum did a great job of giving those characters a voice. I especially like his voices for Lyle and for Justine. Oh, and Trevor (who sounded stoned throughout the book).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Apart from Love

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Uvi Poznansky
    • Narrated By David Kudler, Heather Jane Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Secrets, passion, betrayal… Written with passionate conviction, this story is being recorded by two of its characters: Ben, a twenty-seven years old student, and Anita, a plain-spoken, spunky, uneducated redhead, freshly married to Lenny, his aging father. Behind his back, Ben and Anita find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. They take turns using an old tape recorder to express their most intimate thoughts, not realizing at first that their voices are being captured by him.

    Aaron P. Lazar says: "A Literary Masterpiece!"
    "It just wasn't for me."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The pacing: it is very slow. And the characters lack significant growth over a 10-12 year plotline.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Anita's storyline was the most interesting. Ben and Lenny were stagnant - once their characters were established, nothing much changed with them. The same issues were rehashed again and again.


    Have you listened to any of David Kudler and Heather Jane Hogan ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have listened to one other Heather Jane Hogan performance. I liked her performance in Twisted by Uvi Poznansky better.


    Did Apart from Love inspire you to do anything?

    There was one scene that left me wanting ice cream.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was well written with plenty of thought put into the plights of the characters, carefully mapping out how each responds to the emotional situations they find themselves in, considering each person’s needs and desires. With that said, this wasn’t the book for me. I found the pacing of the story extremely slow (and for someone who adores Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, the pacing must be pretty slow). Also, I saw very little character growth for any of the characters from the time Anita comes into their lives fastforwarded 10 years to the wedding of Lenny and Anita. Ben went off to college, to Europe and comes back at age 27. Didn’t he have adventures? Romances? Heartbreak? But he appears to be the same as he was at age 17 when Anita first came into his life. Also, Anita seems to have very little growth. While I found her story line the most interesting, I was left feeling that all she did for 10 years was watch questionable TV and keep Lenny happy in bed. I think if the storyline was compressed over a 3-4 year span, this lack of character growth wouldn’t have bugged me as it did.

    With that criticism, if you have an interest in child-parent relations when there is a divorce and a new, younger significant other takes the place of one parent, then this book might be of great interest to you. There was also that side tragedy of Natasha’s illness (which Lenny managed to hide from Ben for 10-12 years). I definitely understood Ben’s mix of emotions when he finally found out – deep sadness, betrayal (why didn’t his dad trust him with this news much earlier?). If you read the blurb on Goodreads for this book, you will see that a tape recorder with the recorded innermost thoughts of the main characters plays a key role in the story. However, this tape recorder doesn’t really come into play until the reader is perhaps 75% of the way through the book. So, it’s significance seemed rather minor to me, as compared the Natasha’s piano.

    While this book was not the book for me, I am not turned off of Uvi Poznansky’s works and will look forward to checking out further works from her. Her care in plotting and setting up characters was evident in this book, even if the subject didn’t move me.

    The Narration: Heather Jane Hogan and David Kudler did a decent job of narrating the story. Heather’s voice for Anita was especially good since she had the most emotional outbursts. David gave Ben an agonized voice for when he finally reunites with his ill mother and he filled Ben’s voice with longing when Ben was thinking of Anita.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Confessions of a D-List Supervillain

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jim Bernheimer
    • Narrated By Jeffrey Kafer, Talmadge Ragan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (634)
    Performance
    (596)
    Story
    (601)

    Exploding from the pages of Horror, Humor, and Heroes, Volume One - it’s the full length adventures of the one and only Mechani-Cal! So grab your battlesuit and prepare to get a little nasty.

    Raquel S. says: "Memoirs of a Supervillain turn Superhero"
    "This book was a highly entertaining messed up ride"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Confessions of a D-List Supervillain in three words, what would they be?

    Cal has issues.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Cal was easy to connect with, plenty of fun tech, crazy hive bugs trying to take over the world.


    Which character – as performed by Jeffrey Kafer and Talmadge Ragan – was your favorite?

    Kafer was great for Cal, cynical and ticked off at the world.


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

    Can the mech withstand the mind-controlling bugs?


    Any additional comments?

    In Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Mechani-Cal (or just Cal) is a beat up down and out supervillain in a beat up mechanical suit. The world has gone buggy, literally. Someone’s science project escaped the test tube and these bugs can now attach themselves to humans and make them part of the world hive. Cal has been living in his mech suit for far too many weeks avoiding being assimilated. the story opens with a quick, dirty fight between Cal and some of the Olympians, guardians of the East coast. He manages to knock a bug off Aphrodite (Stacey) and flies off with her to his secret hideaway dump. Alas, it is a trap. Luckily Cal has an exit strategy and perseverance. After all, he needs allies to rid the world of the mind-control bugs.

    This book was a highly entertaining messed up ride. Cal is such the anti-hero and yet not such a bad guy. He’s not afraid to do the tough deeds that need doing, as he sees it. He doesn’t shy away from a task just because society might frown on his resolution to the problem. Constantly doubting the good will of those around him (and usually with good reason), it is almost always Cal against the world. Couple that with his geek tinkering skills of creating mech suits, robots, body armor, and weapons and you have a supervillain who mostly just wants to be left alone. Alas, the world won’t let him curl up in his little cave of anger.

    Most of the good guys have nothing but disdain for Cal, even after he saves their asses. But that’s OK because they have silly names, like the Bugler. Yep. The Bugler. This book has me chuckling out loud at the casual way these superhero (and supervillain) names would be tossed into the narrative. Anemone, Hermes, Komodo, etc.

    The plot itself is really a series of smaller plots, one flowing into another. Kind of like a series of comics. One emergency ends just in time for another to develop, often popping up in just the right time and place to bite Cal in the ass. Poor dude. His love life is also complicated and I liked that it was all messy and not some cookie-cutter romance. Granted, all the women are hotties and only half the men are.

    Bernheimer isn’t afraid to kill characters off and I especially like this. Real life has consequences, and when I read my fiction I like to see that reflected. No, I didn’t cry over any of the deaths and while Cal catches some flak for his actions, I totally cheered him on. In short, this was quite the fun listen, a great escape from average superhero tales. This tale reminded me of James Maxey‘s Nobody Gets the Girl and the webisode silliness known as Dr. Horrible, both of which I am quite fond of.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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