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AudioBook Reviewer

Madison, WI, United States | Member Since 2011

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  • High Moor 3: Blood Moon

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Graeme Reynolds
    • Narrated By Chris Barnes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (64)

    The war has begun...As the humans make their move against the werewolf threat in their midst, and civil war threatens to break the pack apart, John and Marie struggle to free the only person who can unite the werewolf factions against their common enemy: Marie's brother, Michael. However, their efforts may be for nothing. As tensions mount, the Moonborn prepare to combat the human aggression with an assault of their own; an attack that could spell doom for both man and werewolf alike.

    Dawnzilla says: "The Best Werewolf Series. Period."
    "Not. Twilight. This. Is. Brutal. Gritty. Horror."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Quite fitting that Blood Moon was released right before Christmas, as it is a Christmas story afterall. Meaning that it is Christmas time in the story and I was as giddy as when I was a kid after Santa came, when this was released. However, it has been a very long time since Moonstruck, High Moor book 2, was released. Going into this listen I was afraid that Graeme Reynolds wasn’t going to be able to create the same adrenaline pumping werewolf slaughter magic or that this third book would have a completely different feel than the others.

    This book picks up right where the last book leave off. Now everyone, including the government, knows of the existence of werewolves, they understand how dangerous they are. Detection devices have been installed in most of the European airports to help deter the monsters form crossing the borders. Europe is in werewolf lock-down. This is it, the war between humans and lycanthropes ensues.

    Reminder. This. Is. Not. Twilight. This. Is. Brutal. Gritty. Horror.

    This is a seriously violent and brutal werewolf story. There are no love triangles, steamy sex scenes, none of the bull crap that many seem to associate with werewolves and the paranormal. This is a horror novel through and through. This is a story about an unknown species trying to escape the reach of humans. Reynolds was able to show the true character of the human race. How we fear what we do not understand and we must rule over everything no matter what.

    One of the things that is sometimes lost in horror stories is the importance of character development. Reynolds did not miss this point. His characters were expanded in depth and weight throughout. Somehow he was able to do this with the large amount of them in this book. I look forward to hearing what comes next for Reynolds because with High Moor he has made me a fan of his imagination, as sick and twisted as it is.

    All my worries were for not. Reynolds was on point. Bringing all of the carnage I expected him to bring to the party.

    One of my favorite laugh out loud lines, “That’s the worst ideas since the Star Wars prequels.”

    This is one of Chris Barnes’ most dynamic performances to date. So many characters with so many different accents. German, English, British, even from other countries. Being able to keep all of this straight is mind boggling, an easy thing to do for the listener, but I would guess not so much for the performer. He was even able to use the same voices that he used almost two years ago with the last book. Barnes was able to inject emotions in the appropriate places without pause, at times this was done very subtly. I am so happy that Reynolds kept with the same narrator for the entire series, I don;t think many authors understand hoe truly important this is to the listener.

    Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

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    24 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • Looking for Dei

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By David A. Willson
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never been good at keeping secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious adoptive father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift. A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her and her friend on a path.

    AudioBook Reviewer says: "An exciting story that is well developed "
    "An exciting story that is well developed "
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nara is a small child, playing in the grass blowing on dandelions when she is quickly and silently abducted from the orphanage. The nun turns a blind eye and thus begins the adventure and life of Nara. Nara has secrets she must keep, a scar that she keeps hidden and a curiosity that will end in more pain than she could ever expect. Nara has compassion, an abundance of love and eagerness to help those she has known all her life. Taking her secret magic, she tries to help the townsfolk of Dimmitt only to find herself, her “adoptive father” Bilo and her friend, Michael on the run for their lives.

    Her act of kindness sets them on a path that is deadlier than they are prepared, they forge friendships and lose friends along the way – but ultimately, Nara must face the biggest threat she has ever encountered. She must defeat him or die trying to save her friends.

    An exciting story that is well developed and executed perfectly. The characters were well developed with a keen insight into their personalities from vivid imagery and their actions. Willson is a master wordsmith, creating scenes that leave listeners both emotionally and physically on the edge of their chairs.

    The narrator, Tanya Eby, performed the audiobook excellently with the appropriate emotion the engaging the audience to keep listening. I found her voice soothing and she skillfully moved the book forward enthralling the listeners.

    I enjoyed this book immensely and am looking forward to the next in the series. I cannot help but wonder where Willson will go with book 2! Lots of action and more gut-wrenching suspense I suspect!

    There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Demonic: A Supernatural Horror Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Lee Mountford
    • Narrated By Hannibal Hills
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (34)

    Years ago, a young girl ran away from her childhood home and vowed never to go back. It was a place of fear, pain, and misery at the hands of an abusive father. But now, her father is dead, and she is forced to break that vow and return home - to lay his body to rest and face up to the ghosts of her past. However, Danni is about to learn that some ghosts are more real than others. Something beyond her understanding waits for her there, lurking in the shadows.

    Muraenidae says: "Dead Goat Equals No Go "
    "refreshingly terrifying!!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Danni Morgan has returned to her childhood home where her mother left her and her father tortured and molested her.  Returning to bury her hated father, Danni brings her supportive husband and two children to her father’s funeral.  There she encounters a demonic evil so great and consuming that no one is safe from its touch.  No one and her life is about to change yet once again as she faces the demonic evil head on.

    I expected this to be scary but the level of horror this audiobook induced is by far greater than any I have heard.  I couldn’t put it down!  It was refreshingly terrifying!!!!  If you enjoy horror – this is the book for you!

    Lee Mountford built the suspense, horror and mind-numbing terror expertly.  When listening to the book and one begins to catch glimpses out of the corner of one's eye of something moving but nothing there … you know it’s truly a work of art!

    Hannibal Hills performed the voices with skill.  His performance left one shuddering to one’s core when the demonic evil spoke.   He was spectacular!  His talent carried the terror beyond the pages and gave them a voice.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Walk the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Robert Swartwood, David B. Silva
    • Narrated By Matt Godfrey
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

     Things are bad for Clay Miller and George Hitchens. For starters, they're on the run from a posse out for blood. Then, as they ride through the Utah desert, the two come across the crumpled body of a young boy on the brink of death. 

    Muraenidae says: "Very Different Western"
    "Western + Horror = Yes"
    Overall
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    Story

    In its opening moments, George and Clay, a pair of men on the run from the law and fleeing through the desert, come across a small boy lying near-death beneath the hot sun. The boy is the sole survivor of a massacre that wiped out a nearby town and when they take it upon themselves to care for the boy and investigate, George and Clay find themselves captured by bandits and tied up in jail. The men are to be sacrifices for the inhuman evils roaming the desert, the nightmarish creatures that wiped out the town and demand blood, creatures that only come out at night.

    Co-written by Robert Swartwood and David B. Silva, Walk the Sky is a very well-done work of western horror. It's also Silva's final piece of work, having passed away in 2013 mere weeks after the publication of this title as a limited edition hardcover by Thunderstorm Books. As such, Walk the Sky is dedicated to Silva, who, as an editor, author, and Bram Stoker Award winner, has a long, and very rich, legacy within the horror genre. Silva was not just a friend and mentor to Swartwood, but a co-author on one other title they penned together, At the Meade Bed & Breakfast. Listening to Walk the Sky in audio format, it's hard for me to tell where Swartwood's style separates from Silva's, and their prose blends together seamlessly. The end result is a perfectly engaging story filled with terrific characters, some of them quite smarmy, and a rich supernatural spine binding them all together.

    On narrating duties is Matt Godfrey, whose soft, natural reading style is one I'm quickly becoming a fan of after listening previously to his smooth delivery of The Happy Man from Valancourt Books. His subdued Southern twang lends a certain richness and authenticity to this particular work, and his use of a rougher, gravelly voice for Clay lends to that character an air of American Western classicism that I quite enjoyed. All in all, this a polished and professional production.

    Walk the Sky takes a number of Western genre tropes - outlaws on the run, gun-toting bandits, a town ruled by an iron fist - and twists them in a number of satisfying ways, with particular motives being wrenched in response to an ancient, mysterious force. Of the handful of supernatural historical horrors I've read thus far in 2018, Walk the Sky is easily my favorite, sitting tall in the saddle as the best of the bunch.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Chimera Jar: Aegis of Merlin Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By James E. Wisher
    • Narrated By Joe Hempel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (59)

    Defeat a three-headed fire breathing monster? All in a day's work for the world's only male wizard. Conryu returns to the academy after surviving his first semester by the narrowest of margins. Little does he know the monstrous threats waiting for him in the second half of the year. Back in Sentinel City things aren't progressing any better as the devious Lady Raven plots the city's destruction from her hidden lair. The exciting third book in the Aegis of Merlin series finds Conryu facing an ever-growing list of dangers. Can he conqueror his foes before time runs out?

    AudioBook Reviewer says: "This is urban fantasy!"
    "This is urban fantasy!"
    Overall
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    Story

    The Chimera Jar: Aegis of Merlin Series, Book 3 by James E. Wisher and narrated by Joe Hempel picks up where book 2 The Awakening: Book 2 ended. The fall semester was over and Conryu and Maria were on their way home for an uneventful break. They return to school and each to their studies. For Conryu the regular Dark Arts magic class is a waste of time with Mrs. Lenore. His Special Dark Arts Teacher Mrs. Umbra gives him something to work on so he can participate in the class and at least integrate socially with the female students.  Kelsey volunteers to join him in a fusion spell while others work circle magic.

    Maria has problems of her own with her light magic instructors due to her friendship with Conryu. She still has not resolved her feelings for him. Now that he is surrounded by women and those that actually give him a chance like Kelsey and Sonja who he only has platonic feelings for drive her into feelings of irrational jealousy because of her own insecurities. Then love triangle is not the only plot there is still Lady Raven and her boxes to be found before the floating city returns. Then the nasty LaFey Society and their desire to kill Conryu for being born to hear reappears to once again try and finish off Conryu. Mr. Wisher with these three audiobooks has crafted a very well written unique urban fantasy world. There are consequences for actions as the listener and reader will see and hear in this volume.

    I have heard people say when describing the series "Oh it’s a Harry Potter rip off I’ll pass. To which I respond did that whiny little git Potter ever have a contract with the demon Cerebus or a contract with the Dark Lady to be his agent in Hell? This is urban fantasy totally different genre." Some are interested and some reach for their wands to dispel me as a non-believer. Can't make everyone happy.

    Attention Holding

    The story is excellent at holding my attention and ended way too quickly. Joe Hempel's narration will just suck you into a great story like this and you find you have blown off an afternoon's plans put your feet up to finish the story that is how well this audiobook held my attention. The story had me hooked from the first few minutes. I really hope Tantor Audio decides to do the rest of Mr. Wisher’s books in the series with Mr. Hempel narrating them.

    Narration/Production Quality

    The narration is by Joe Hempel. Mr. Hempel provides an outstanding vocal performance in this third book in this series. From the Ultra smooth and Creepy Dark Lady who only has a small role to the very memorable Mrs. Umbra. Mr. Hemple just makes these characters so unique. The production quality by Tantor was top of the line as always they never fail to produce a high-quality audio product. Tantor delivered a crystal clear product of the highest listening quality.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dog Walker

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jack McGuigan
    • Narrated By Travis Baldree
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Ben Carter, pet care specialist, is hired to walk a Shiba Inu named Toby. Unbeknownst to Ben, Toby is no ordinary dog but an inugami - an immortal demon born in feudal Japan and bred for only one purpose...murder. A mysterious cult seeks to capture the inugami and harness its power for evil. With the help of an elderly luchador and a cop with a heart of gold, Ben must protect Toby and uncover the secret of the Tengu.

    Calvin Davis says: "Awesome, light read!"
    "characters are incredibly fun and likable"
    Overall
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    I love this book. Ben Carter is a clumsy, unlucky guy who walks dogs and picks up poop all day while trying to write a screenplay between charges. He seems to have about as much success with his work in progress as he does with the dogs and running out of bags at the wrong time. Of course, he's got a crush on the Blonde Hipster Girl he sees during his walks, and, when she asks him out one evening, he has no idea what he's in for.

    The author, Jack McGuigan, has quite an imagination and sense of humor. The creatures and settings he created are phenomenal. The story is fantastic with a moderate pace and just the right amount of twists and surprises. It isn't very scary but definitely a bit dark and disturbing at times. The writing is clever and vivid. I won't spoil too much for you by giving the best lines, but phrases like “eye butt” and “his head looked like a thumb that had been in the bath too long” have a way of hitting just the right synapses. I chuckled throughout the whole thing – both times I listened to it.

    The characters are incredibly fun and likable. My favorites are the (probably) alcoholic and hilarious luchador, “Dragon Mask”, and the Shiba Inu (being a sweet, though stubborn, pet when he's not a murderous beast), aside from our obviously unlikely hero. There are a handful of characters not to like, and one or two to despise.

    I was thankful this didn't turn into an all-out romantic comedy. It was a nice combination of (occasionally dark) urban fantasy, action, and adventure, and comedy – with just a sprinkle of horror. The “s” word is used a few times but otherwise, the language isn't too bad. There are elements of gore, violence, and animal cruelty, though I think the ends will justify the means for most readers. I'd say mature teens could handle this.

    The narrator, Travis Baldree, was excellent! He played a whole gamut of characters flawlessly, from an old, scornful woman, to a Hispanic female, to a Japanese luchador, and a mother at her wit’s end. The range of voices this guy can do is seriously impressive. I looked more than once to see if he was the only narrator. His voice acting and narration were phenomenal. I really liked the story but I don't think the book would have been nearly as amusing if I had simply read it. I certainly have a new favorite narrator. The production of this audiobook was flawless, sound quality was fantastic, and the only sound effects I picked up on that the narrator didn't do were pen writing sounds while Ben was writing notes. They were perfect for the story. Otherwise, sounds like the “dee-dee-dee-dee” of an alarm are voiced quite convincingly.

    Although this is most definitely a stand-alone novel, there's a sequel in the making and I can't wait to hear it.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Immorality Clause: Easytown Novels, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Brian Parker
    • Narrated By Daniel Penz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (34)

    The futuristic slum in eastern New Orleans is a violent place where any vice can be satisfied - for a price. As long as the taxes are paid and tourists continue to flock to the city, businesses are allowed to operate as they see fit. But a string of violent murders threatens to upset the delicate balance between pleasure and safety.

    AudioBook Reviewer says: "Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller"
    "Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “The Immorality Clause” is written by Brian Parker and the audiobook’s narration was performed by Daniel Penz.  Wow, let me start this review by saying that if you are at all a fan of great science fiction noir (not recommended for younger audiences) and you have not yet picked up and listened to this book, go do so now; you will not be dissatisfied.  I was not sure based on the author’s description how this book would handle some of the subject matter, but between the exceptional writing style and the superior narration, this book was a perfect storm; in a good way!  If you can put up with the adult material, this book is a masterfully nitty, gritty, science fiction action suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.

    Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller, like Blade Runner, along with solid procedural (homicide) elements.  The author is able to blend these two aspects wonderfully in this story.  The dirty world often had me wanting a shower after each listen, but I had to come back for more.  I enjoyed the new and fresh futuristic technology that similar to devices of today, still have their issues and quirks.  One has to love technology.  There are solid and believable components surrounding the world development and the characters each had dimension and form to them.  Not only did you get great human characters, there were cyborgs and even a quite likable AI with a sense of humor.  When the book finished, I wanted more, but in no way did I feel cheated in what I got.  The nice thing is that even though this is a series, this book can be read as a standalone novel.  All of the story plots are mostly finalized with only a few open-ended aspects whetting one’s appetite for more to come.  I can only imagine the possibilities and places the author will take us in future books.  No real plot cliff-hangers awaiting you, just potential.

    Not only was much of the story placed in the legal red-light district of Easytown, the author also took us around to see many of the more well off (and in some cases worse) locations of this world.  There are the ever-watching eyes of the government via surveillance cameras placed nearly everywhere.  All the while I was listening to the story, the author had me wondering who was the one they were looking for and how did they get away with the crime.  A real “who done it” story wrapped in a futuristic cyber world.  Not only was the world well defined, the characters themselves were as well.  Early on in my listening, I discovered a number of the character’s personalities, and what was nice was that these stayed consistent as one would expect.  This is not always the case with many of the books I have previously listened too.  I would have liked to have had a bit more interaction between Paxton and Andy in the book, but I’m sure there will be more of that in future books.  The attention to detail had me feeling like I was watching a movie while I listened.  On that note, I could easily see this being made into a movie and doing well.

    Even though Daniel Penz is a newer narrator, with just over thirty books on Audible at the time of this review, the book’s narration and additional extras made it feel like it was performed by a professional studio.  The book was clean, crisp, and well-paced.  All of the characters were unique in both voice and personality, and the narration helped that immensely.  Voicing the AI, along with the many droids was done flawlessly.  I also thought the addition of a few audio effects, both in voicing and sound, greatly enhanced the book without being overdone.  The amount of action and suspense was not lost by the narrator as he added the necessary inflection showing he understood his material.

    For parents and potential younger readers, I cannot recommend this book based on the subject matter and content.  The book contains subjects involving sex, drugs, and alcohol.   There are a few graphically violent scenes which I would not think appropriate for younger audiences.  I will add that the author’s focus on the topic of sex is done in a professional and non-sleazy manner.  The subject matter is there, but it is not salacious or over-the-top.  I still would still not recommend it for younger readers.

    If you are one who enjoys deep and rich science fiction with a decent mix of noir, this is a book I think you should pick up.  There was action, suspense, and technology.  What more could you ask from a book in this genre.  I look forward to newer books in the series and hope to listen to future books by both the author and narrator.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Happy Man: A Tale of Horror

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Eric C. Higgs
    • Narrated By Matt Godfrey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Charles Ripley has a good job as an engineer, a pretty wife, and an expensive house in a fashionable San Diego suburb. But it isn't until Ruskin Marsh moves in next door that Ripley realizes how passionless his life really is. Marsh, a connoisseur of the arts, high-powered lawyer, model husband and father, and effortless seducer of women, is so supremely alive that Ripley finds himself irresistibly drawn to him. But after Marsh's arrival, local girls begin to vanish, marriages end violently, and horribly mutilated corpses are found.

    AudioBook Reviewer says: "a neighborhood friend telling you a crazy story"
    "a neighborhood friend telling you a crazy story"
    Overall
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    Story

    In the opening moments of Eric C. Higgs's The Happy Man: A Tale of Horror, we learn of a murder - the Marsh family has been shot dead next door. We're told this by Charles Ripley, whose first-person account gives us insight into the San Diego neighborhood he inhabits. The victims next door are not the only murders this neighborhood has seen recently, and Ripley recounts the events leading up to this penultimate act of violence. In fact, strange things have been brewing ever since the Marshes moved in...

    Outside of his marriage, Ripley doesn't have a lot of friends and few men he can connect with. He quickly bonds with the newly arrived Ruskin Marsh, and their wives form a fast friendship. As Ripley and Marsh become better acquainted with each other, Charles is introduced to a very rare work of writing from the sexual libertine Marquis de Sade. Entranced by Marsh's own sexual exploits and lack of inhibitions, Ripley soon finds his own constraints diminishing and begins straying into extramarital affairs and, soon enough, darker exploits encouraged in de Sade's writings.

    Narrated by Matt Godfrey, The Happy Man is a slow-burn work of suburban horror that finely balances placidity with hair-raising, horrifying drama. This is a well-crafted work of psychosexual drama, and Godfrey's reading of the material captures the feel of a neighborhood friend telling you a crazy story. At only a bit over 5 hours long, Godfrey keeps the narrative moving along nicely. Higgs, meanwhile, keeps the work grounded, and the moments of horror are never implausible or outlandish. Higgs earns each of his twists and turns by giving us believable characters and a pot-boiler narrative that slowly builds toward the inevitable.

    Written in 1985, and recently reissued by Valancourt Books, The Happy Man taps into the anxiety of The Other with its themes of sexual promiscuity, casual drug use, fear of immigrants, and the rise of the Christian Right and their idea of what constitutes family values. While this latter is never overtly mentioned, given the period Higgs was writing in I can't help but feel like much of this book is a response to the political climate surrounding it. Marsh is very much a hedonistic figure, the kind of guy Nancy Reagan would encourage you to Just Say No! to, and his arrival to this suburban neighborhood threatens to destroy everything his fellow yuppies hold dear, upsetting the balance of their perfectly coiffed all-American lifestyles. With its themes of racism and the sexual objectification of women, The Happy Man is very much a product of the 1980s, yet much of horrors its reacting to, and certainly expounding upon, still feel topical today. Higgs takes all the fears of 80s Evangelicalism and runs with them toward their worst-case finale - the destruction of families at the hands of an outsider. It's telling, though, that while Mexican immigrants are often blamed for some of the seedier aspects of this white collar, upper-crust San Diego subdivision, the root cause of their problems lie much, much closer to home. Perhaps, in between the moments of eroticism and shocking violence, Higgs was trying to tell us something after all.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Splendid and Extraordinary Life of Beautimus Potamus

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Peggy A. Wheeler
    • Narrated By Kelley Hazen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    The mystical green planet of Rendaz is home to devout goddess worshiper and university professor, middle-aged Beautimus Potamus - who also happens to be a hippo plagued by hot flashes and poor self-esteem. Beautimus forms an alliance with Samuel S. Goodwings, a younger womanizing, atheist praying mantis. When these two are together, life morphs from the mundane into the fantastic. Our unlikely duo solve mysteries, bring a murderer to justice, and even help end a war, while experiencing their own trials, triumphs, and tragedies.

    M Stein says: "A BOOK FOR THE FUTURE"
    "ABR Reviewer's Choice Award Winner"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Petty Wheeler identifies herself as an author of fantastical fiction and she most definitely is!  I listened to The Splendid and Extraordinary Life of Beautimus Potamus and was captivated right away.  It is a story about a 300-year-old hippo who lives on the planet Rendaz and moves through life teaching earth history and interacting with others such as her good friend Sam, the praying mantis, her mentor and high priestess who is a blue crane, a gorilla named Rufus who tells bad fart jokes and a host of other fantastical creatures who live and interact as humans.  In one history class, she shares how the Egyptians and other cultures came to worship animal gods – yes, coincidentally, animals who visited earth from Rendaz!

    Beautimus is lacking in the self-confidence area but when she finds love – watch out!  In her gaining confidence, she manages to unintentionally set off a revenge-fueled hatred that will leave the listener on the edge of their chair.

    Wheeler creates a world, much like earth where her characters mirror humans in actions and beliefs.  I found the audiobook interesting and couldn’t stop listening.  Between the wordplay, satire, social situations that are political and religious peppered with puns and other jests and the excellently developed plot and characters, this book is awesome.  When I began listening to the book I thought, “OMG really?  A hippo as the main character???” But then Wheeler sucked me in and I fell in love with Beautimus, Sam, Lucas and all the other delightful characters.

    Kelley Hazen deserves an A+++ for her narration.  She did a fantastic job of keeping up with the voices and tempo of the book.  She was just amazing!  I would love to hear more of her.  I cannot imagine anyone else doing as magnificent a job as she did.

    There were no issues with the audio or production of this book.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Extinction Code: Ancient Origins Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By James D. Prescott
    • Narrated By Gary Tiedemann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (305)
    Performance
    (284)
    Story
    (284)

    Geophysicist Jack Greer believes he may finally have found the resting place of the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. A few miles off the Yucatán coast, Jack and a team of scientists tow an aging drilling platform over the impact crater with the aim of securing a sample. But buried deep beneath the earth lies a shocking discovery that threatens to shatter everything we think we know about the origins of our species.

    AudioBook Reviewer says: "the story is solid and entertaining"
    "the story is solid and entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “Extinction Code” is the first book available in the “Ancient Origins” series, and I’m looking forward to the rest to come.  The book is written by James D. Prescott and the audiobook edition is narrated by Gary Tiedemann; a prolific and well-liked narrator of mine.  Let me say up front, I enjoyed the book and it often kept me on the edge of my seat while listening.  It is an action-packed adventure where two seemingly parallel events converge in an attempt to save not only the individuals but the world itself.  As I listened to the book, it reminded me of a blending of “The Sphere” with portions of “The Abyss” including pieces of “The Da Vinci Code”.  Place on top of this, the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”, if you liked any of these you will like this book.  Also, if you like stories having intrigue, suspense, and mystery, I think you will find this book enjoyable.

    The author does an exceptional job making the characters and scenes feel three dimensional.  Each of the characters in the book are given depth and complexity which I found refreshing.  You will quickly find that the quote from the X-Files which says, “Trust No One”, is relevant to this book.  You are always wondering if you are rooting for the right side or not, and I found myself flipping many times and still surprised at the end.  What is even more exciting than to bring a team of scientists and clash them together with the U.S. military, is the discovery of a mysterious object during a drilling event which did not want to be uncovered.  Once you have opened Pandora’s box, it becomes very difficult to close it again.  Throughout the story, I like the level of research and scientific quips the author drops.  Not only am I enjoying a well-written story, but I’m learning along the way.  On a side note, I will say that at times the humor felt forced, but this was often required to relieve the built-up tension.

    I’m more a technology person than a science one, but I felt the science was rather strong whereas the technology may have been a bit weaker then I prefer.  As with television, I understand that deep dives into technology can be tedious and boring for non-technical people.  Much of a person’s time spent on hacking is waiting; which is not very interesting.  However, I would have like a bit more technology to go with the level of science this book provided.  Maybe a bit more jargon or usage would have made the book more enjoyable.  How can you not like a book that has hackers, human desires, genetics, and aliens?  The author did a good job of keeping this all in check while making the book very interesting and suspenseful.

    I liked the rather short chapters making the book easier to digest in smaller pieces.  Not until the end of the book do you find out who’s who, keeping the listener questioning?  The characters are mostly shrouded in mystery and each has its own issues making you think they are the good or bad guys.  The author does a good job of making you always question who you are loyal towards.  I felt the scenes and locations were well described, while also allowing me to include a bit of my own imagination.  I did not as much enjoy the flipping back and forth between the two teams, but the author did a good job of keeping me engaged during the transitions.  There was just enough geopolitical conflict to keep one wondering what could happen next.  I found the last chapter of the book quite informative as it lays out the science and other details the book was founded upon, and this was very interesting.

    Gary Tiedemann did a wonderful job narrating the book.  I have previously reviewed a few of his other books and really enjoy his voice.  In a few places I would have like to have had more inflection, but this is more a personal preference then a requirement.  By no means do I mean the book monotone or plain, I just would have likes a bit more variety during times of action.  The story flowed very well, and the narration was clean and clear.  I found no issues with audiobook’s volume or other audio artifacts that can often jolt a listener out of a story.  The recording was professional, and the voicing of the many characters was done satisfactorily.

    For parents and younger readers.  I do not remember, nor did I make note of, any vulgar language used in the book.  This does not mean there was none, but it was not prevalent enough for me to make note of it for my review.   There are a few elements in the book which could be considered anti-religious or poking fun at religious people, but this is limited and often used in the correct context.  There are a few scenes of graphic violence which may be intense for younger readers.

    In conclusion, the story is solid, entertaining, and from a discovery perspective an engrossing adventure story.  When you have aliens, ASCII codes, and the anticipation of E.T., what could go wrong?  For me, the cover art drew me in to listening to the book, but the story itself kept me listening until the end.  I would recommend this to anyone who likes disaster type stories or people who like suspenseful and mysterious stories of unknown alien civilizations.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Half-Assed Wizard: Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Gary Jonas
    • Narrated By Joe Hempel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (55)

    A couple of jerks wake me up at the crack of noon. Seems my klepto uncle stole an ancient deck of Tarot cards from a high-powered wizard, and too many losers want to ruin my day to get them back. The cards are cool, so I check them out, but my magic-happy cousin, Sabrina, tells me I'm not supposed to touch them. Oops. Too late. Now the damn cards are tuned to me, and if someone else wants to use them, I have to die. Why couldn't she have led with that information?

    TU says: "Short but great beginning to a new series"
    "a light-hearted romp"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Brett Masters is the son of one of the world’s greatest wizards.  Magic runs through his veins, and he should be as good, if not more powerful than his father.  Only problem is, he’s really lazy, and would much rather sleep until noon, play guitar with a magic pick and generally drink and smoke his way through life.  When a pack of ancient tarot cards arrives at his house, his whole easy life is turned upside down.  It seems everyone wants them and will use any means to get them.

    Sabrina, Bretts magically skilled cousin, comes to help, but he’s having none of, still doing everything he can to retain his easy life, graciously provided by his dad’s monthly allowance.  But the villains keep coming, ever more powerful, and  Brett’s just going to have to do something resembling magic to keep them off, well maybe after a nap.

    This tongue-in-cheek novel is a lot of fun.  Brett is all about sex, drugs and rock and roll and skating through life.  It’s full of colorful characters and magic objects that highlight the ridiculous nature of Brett’s world.  It’s a fun poke at Harry Potter and similar stories.

    The story is performed by Joe Hempel who does a great job as the voice of Brett describing his own story.  All the character voices are good and easily discernible.  A great job by a pro.  The production quality is excellent too, as you would expect.

    The Half-Assed Wizard is a light-hearted romp through the magically ridiculous.  It doesn’t take itself seriously, even making fun of its own plot.  “All this for a pack of tarot cards?”  It is book one in a series of unknown length, but still a complete novel that wraps up fully.  Future volumes are likely to involve the further adventures of the half-assed wizard and his colorful friends.  If you enjoy your fantasy/magic/wizard stories with a good helping of humor, you should give this one a listen.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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