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Brian

Niagara Falls, NY
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  • Gunpowder Moon

  • By: David Pedreira
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 55

The moon smells like gunpowder. Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, the chief of the US mining operation on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind - a reminder of his harrowing days as a marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth. It's 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors that are bringing Earth back from environmental disaster.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrific Space Thriller!

  • By Anonymous User on 03-24-18

A Sci-Fi Political Thriller/Murder Mystery

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

3.5 out of 5 stars

For some reason, there have been a lot of "murder mysteries in space" books in my queue lately.  Gunpowder Moon was another one to add to the list.  This was on my list of "most anticipated" for 2018 and I'm glad it was.  I enjoyed almost every second of it thanks to Pederiera's no-nonsense writing style and Jeffrey Kafer's delivery.

I called this a Sci-Fi Political Thriller/Murder Mystery because that is every category I think this book fits into. There is a murder of a miner on the moon and we are tasked with figuring out not only who killed him but why.  The government gets involved and it spirals from there.

The plot of this wasn't anything new to me since I've read a few other books similar to this in the last few months - but I did appreciate that it was set on the Moon and not Mars.  That helped it stand out a little to me (and made it a little more believable).  There was some science in this that I wasn't sure if it was real or possible - and some other science-y parts that bugged me a little.  I don't expect every author to be Andy Weir level of science by any means.  Or even capital S science. But some of the stuff written in this just got on my nerves.  I understand that it's set in the future and "anything is possible" but it's not the Sci-Fi parts that were the issue.

The characters were a little take them or leave them until later in the story.  I didn't know much about most of these people until they were thrown into the blender.  It wasn't typically how I get to know them - but it worked for this story.

Overall, for a genre-jumping book - I thought that Gunpowder Moon was a pretty good one.  There was a little too much political pandering for my likes - but I just got past it and enjoyed the Sci-Fi Mystery part of it.

  • Girl Last Seen

  • By: Nina Laurin
  • Narrated by: Vanessa Johansson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,898
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,656
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,653

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to 13 years ago. I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, with the right look, in the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Don’t do it

  • By Stacey on 03-21-18

Intense, Uncomfortable, and Raw

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

Something in the synopsis of Girl Last Seen hooked me right in. Maybe it's because "The Face on the Milk Carton" was one of my all-time favorite books as a young adult and this seemed a little reminiscent, with the main character seeing a familiar face on a missing poster, much like the Janie saw her's on a milk carton... but oh man. In this novel, Lane sees a face that looks like her own and is immediately pulled back into her past, and the hell she experienced at the hands of a kidnapper, the same kidnapper she suspects has taken Olivia Shaw.

Girl Last Seen can be intense, uncomfortable, and raw, as Lane recounts the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she experienced and struggles to cope with its physical and emotional scars. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I thought Laurin's character development was phenomenal, particularly with Lane's character. I don't think she was stupid, but I do believe she makes some rash, reactionary decisions, something a traumatized young woman like her might also do if left with so little support.

I liked the pace of Girl Last Seen and found the plot line to be pretty interesting, holding my interest through a few twists and turns, but it didn't blow me out of the water. I also found the last hour or so of the book to be somewhat rushed, as if Laurin was trying to tie up all of the loose ends in a hurry. Overall, Girl Last Seen was a good read and I'd recommend it, with a trigger warning for those who find reading or listening to another's stories of abuse traumatic.

I adored the narrator's voice and am looking forward to listening to more of Vanessa Johansson's work. I would give her narration a five and the book an overall three.  Overall, a book that I didn't love or hate - it kind of felt like a "take it or leave it" story.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sinful

  • By: Heath Stallcup
  • Narrated by: Rick Gregory
  • Length: 5 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

Charlie Johnson is your average American teenager. He’s a good student, he’s a good son, his girlfriend is the love of his life. He’s a nice kid. Charlie also murders people for their sins. A serious car accident leaves Charlie comatose, and when he comes to, he suffers from visions of unspeakable horror that keep him awake at night. He soon discovers that when he touches people, he can sense their evil and see their greatest evils. Some crimes are too terrible to describe. Some crimes are too terrible to go unanswered.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dexter meets Unbreakable

  • By Spooky Mike on 03-18-18

Gripping and Powerful

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-18

I'm going to paraphrase Stallcup's synopsis of Sinful here:  Charlie Johnson is your average American teenager. He’s a good student, he’s a good son, his girlfriend is the love of his life. He’s a nice kid. Charlie also murders people for their sins. A serious car accident leaves Charlie comatose and when he comes to... he soon discovers that when he touches people, he can sense their evil and see their greatest evils. 

I liked the first introduction to the "power" that Charlie has with the nurse.  I won't go into too much detail here but the scene was powerful and the thought process that followed was well thought out and written.

I will preface this with a compliment.  I liked this book.  Now I'm going to take some away from that.. but.  I liked this book but, there are a lot of serial killers who think the same thing that Charlie thinks.  That God is telling him to kill people.  Sure, in this book he has this "power" but can we really prove that it's true or not? I'm sure that other serial killers would love to prove that God was talking to them.

I'm the kind of person who appreciates a story this powerful in a book this short.  Some people don't like to spend the money on an audiobook this short but it was a perfect palate cleanser for some of the other things I've been reading lately.  This is my first book by Stallcup and I don't think it'll be my last.

Overall, I thought that Sinful was gripping and powerful and it only rubbed me the wrong way a few times.  Add in Rick Gregory's narration and you have a nice story with good narration. I requested a copy of this audiobook for review - it has not affected my review in any way.

  • Planet of the Dead

  • By: Thomas S. Flowers
  • Narrated by: Rick Gregory
  • Length: 5 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22

News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Zombie goodness.

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 04-25-18

A Mayhem-Filled Zombie Story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-18

A zombie story through and through with a lot of other elements that lots of people would enjoy.  You've got mayhem throughout and all of the things that come with mayhem.

Planet of the Dead was one of those stories that I didn't know I was going to enjoy.  Sure, I love zombie books as much as the next guy - but I just didn't know going into it.  Well, I loved it and had a blast flying through this book.

Flowers way of skipping from person to person explaining the story from their viewpoints really made this so easy to read.  Even if you didn't like a person or a point of view - you knew it was going to move on to another person soon after.

Bouncing from person to person can be hard to follow but I thought that Gregory did a great job tying everything together with good narration.  Every one and a while I find him to be a little too... flat in his narration (no ups or downs depending on the pace of the story for example) but nothing that would turn me away from another book narrated by him.  It's hard to add that to the story without over-acting the part.

Overall, an enjoyable zombie book by a great author.  Planet of the Dead - what's not to love?

Also, let's take a second to enjoy the cover art on this.  Well done and thought out - this one definitely had my attention before I knew anything about it. I requested a copy of this book from the narrator which has not affected my review in any way.

  • Silent Lies

  • By: Kathryn Croft
  • Narrated by: Antonia Beamish, Rosie Jones
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,933
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,804
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,801

Mia Hamilton lived the perfect life with her husband, university teacher Zach, and their two-year-old daughter. But everything changed when Zach committed suicide on the same night one of his students vanished. Five years later, just when Mia is beginning to heal, stranger Alison walks into her life, saying her husband didn't kill himself. Fragile, slight Alison leads Mia on a path into Zach's past, and Mia begins to think she never really knew her own husband.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Keeps you guessing -quite literally, until the end

  • By JK907 on 11-30-17

Kept Me Guessing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-18

You know how the publishers of psychological thrillers often tell you the book will "keep you guessing until the very end?" This book did just that.

Five years after a university student disappears and a professor is found dead of an apparent suicide, the professor's wife, Mia, is putting back the pieces of her shattered life. Coping with the ostracism she endured from strangers and friends alike in the wake of her husband's death, Mia seems to be balancing the many facets of her new life, raising their daughter as a single mother, working as a therapist from her home office, and enjoying a relationship with a wonderful man, until one day, a patient arrives and causes her to question everything.

That patient, Alice, claims to know the truth about what happened to the missing student and suggests Mia's husband may not have killed himself. But Alice seems...strange. Her reliability and credibility seem limited and her significant other offers insight into her past that further exacerbates Mia's concerns.

Told from two perspectives, this piece alternates between present-day Mia and flashbacks told in the voice of Josie, the student who disappeared. Having two narrators with two distinct voices truly helped me keep these characters straight (something that can be particularly difficult for me when listening to audiobooks with single narrators and multiple points of view) and enhanced the characterization Croft so carefully crafted.

As Josie's story unfolded, I wondered if perhaps Josie and Alice could be the same person, perhaps she assumed a new identity? But why? And how? This didn't seem right, but I couldn't rule it out. As details of Josie's life emerged, I suspected a few men from her past may have been responsible for both crimes but, with each revelation I found myself guessing again. Without giving too much away, I'll say that I had four or five different hypotheses and "suspects" throughout the duration of this book...and none of them were right.

Silent Lies was like an onion, with many layers to peel back before you find the truth. If you enjoy psychological thrillers that keep you guessing, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this book.

  • One Way

  • By: S. J. Morden
  • Narrated by: William Hope
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 19

It's the dawn of a new era - and we're ready to colonize Mars. But the company that's been contracted to construct a new Mars base has made promises they can't fulfill and is desperate enough to cut corners. The first thing to go is the automation...the next thing they'll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they'll send to Mars, when there aren't supposed to be any at all. Frank - father, architect, murderer - is recruited for the mission to Mars with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. But as his crew sets to work, suspicious accidents mount up....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A New Twist on a Space Murder Mystery

  • By Brian on 06-06-18

A New Twist on a Space Murder Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

4.5 out of 5 stars

One Way has been on my radar for some time – I ended up picking this book up to read (non-requested review) which I have very little time for anymore. My wife and I started another book on a drive home from DC and we just couldn’t get into it. We put One Way on and were instantly hooked. Literally the first 3 minutes were more intriguing than the hour we had given another book.

Morden knows how to build both suspense and intrigue as he builds the world, the characters, and the mistrust throughout. You follow one main character but are introduced to numerous others. Frank is one of those characters that in the beginning you don’t know if he is going to be a good or a bad guy – and you’re told right away that he’s a convict. You’re also told pretty early on why he’s a convict. While I’m not a parent – I could completely understand the crime that Frank committed.

Once the Earth part of the story was over – this entire book read like the synopsis said. It combines And Then There Was One and The Martian. And it references and I think pays a little homage to The Martian a couple times (there was at least one scene where duct tape was mentioned. I thought for sure one of them was going to mention Mark but they didn’t. I kept thinking to myself that this could have honestly been the prequel to The Martian. It was built in such a way that the convicts sounded like they were building the HAB that the characters in The Martian were going to live and work in. While I understand that the science and technology needed to power a Martian base would be the same – it felt so similar.

So, that bodes well for fans of The Martian. And if you like a good “whodunit” murder-mystery an are looking for something set in a new and unique environment you should check out One Way.

Overall, I thought that One Way was a well thought out and paced combination of a science fiction and murder mystery book. It has elements that a lot of people would enjoy and will have me thinking about it when it comes time to vote for my best books of 2018.

  • Helios

  • Cerberus Group, Book 2
  • By: Jeremy Robinson, Sean Ellis
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

A deadly swarm of earthquakes shakes the planet. In the sky above, the sun appears to stand still. While the world reels from the vast destruction, George Pierce and the Cerberus Group, a team of scientific and historical experts, uncover an imminent threat straight out of history that must be stopped. But not everyone wants them to succeed. An apocalyptic death cult, made up of suicidal martyrs and true believers who will do whatever it takes to ensure the destruction of all life on Earth, goes head-to-head with a billionaire tech genius commanding an army of robots on a quest to own the sun itself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Cerberus Group Is Back

  • By Hudson the Basset on 06-18-18

A Crazy Adventure

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

4.5 out of 5 stars

This was a crazy book from beginning to end.  I did read the first book in the series and it felt a bit confusing to start but then settled into a nice groove.  Helios was similar but Robinson and Ellis just bounced all over the place and didn't include one history lesson/relic/era in this book - the hodgepodged them together to make this crazy adventure book that had the Herculean Society bouncing across the globe.

The irony is that all of the pop culture things that I would compare this book to, they included in the book.  It's very Indiana Jones thrown into the world of Assassin's Creed with a little Tomb Raider thrown in there.  If Robinson and Ellis aren't gamers I'd be a little shocked. Some of the characters "origin" stories came from watching Indiana Jones as a kid.  A nice way to tie in the Jones references into Helios.

This was a little different than most Adventure books because they throw in a bit of a Sci-Fi vibe to it. There's an over-arching story that involves space and satellites.  They included some cool autonomous equipment, too - which I enjoyed.

Jeffrey Kafer provided the voice for this one and I'm glad he did.  There's something about when he works with Robinson that just makes it work.

Overall, I thought that Helios was an enjoyable adventure thrill-ride from beginning to end.  I flew through this one and I'm glad I picked it up.  It didn't disappoint me and I hope if you pick it up it doesn't disappoint you either. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Texas Strong

  • By: Bobby Akart
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116

Through prudent planning, Texas protected its power grid from the impact of the devastating electromagnetic pulse attack, but was it enough? The new nation is but an island surrounded by chaos and devastation. Food is running out for its nearly 30 million citizens while millions of refugees press against the border fencing erected to keep them out. The pressure is on and an unexpected catalyst is about to create havoc for all Texans, including the Armstrong Ranch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WOW

  • By kmass76 on 06-01-18

A Story With A Lot of Heart

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

I'm not one to write spoilers in my reviews and I'm not going to start now but I will warn you - Texas Strong ends on one of the biggest cliffhangers I've ever read.  Akart had me hook, line, and sinker with the ending.  I knew it was coming and I still said: "Come on Bobby!" when it ended the way that it did. 

Texas Strong tells the continued story of the Armstrong family and their quest to stay alive.  There are some politics in Texas Strong but I think that Akart tried to skirt the line a little (and I'm thankful for that).  I can't tell where he's going with it (he's still leading up to what will be a crazy finale) but I know that everything he's putting in the book is there for a reason. 

I love the pureness of these stories.  Akart is able to write a story that feels real, wholesome, and incredibly realistic.  The things that happen to these characters are completely believable and would probably happen darn close to how he's written them.  I just love that about them. I feel like I'm learning something and being entertained at the same time.  You can't find that in most books. 

The family aspect in the entire Lone Star Series has been refreshing too.  The Armstrong's are a welcoming family and one that is Texas Strong and Texas Proud for sure.  They have strong family values and are there for each other.  It's nice to read about a strong family getting through tough times.

There was a quote near the very end of Texas Strong that teared me up today on my drive home. There was a scene between two of the men of the ranch talking about their ladies - it was perfect and perfectly needed in this book.  It was a nice break from death and destruction.

Overall, Texas Strong might be my favorite book in the series yet - and I know I'm in for even more.  I almost too .5 away from Akart just because of the ending - but it would take away from an otherwise perfect book in my eyes. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Days of Panic

  • EMP Survival Series, Book 1
  • By: Jack Hunt
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 6 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 179
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 178

After an EMP obliterates the nation's electrical grid on New Year's Eve, it's not long before society unravels and panic ensues. As the lights go out and silence spreads over the city that never sleeps, four ordinary strangers - a bike messenger, a homeless person, a support rep, and an ex-convict - must forge a connection in order to stay alive. When they realize the danger is far greater than they expected, they must embark on a perilous journey out of the city.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great story and great characters!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 03-14-18

An Introduction to the EMP Survival Series

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-31-18

I've had this book on my list for quite some time now.  I've had my eye on Jack Hunt for even longer.  This is my first book by him and my first book in this series.  It has a dog on the cover so it's an instant win for me (unless the dog dies, PA authors if you're reading this - don't kill the dog).   Hunt wrote a very interesting take on the Post-Apocalyptic genre with this one.  A lot of the stuff that happens and prepared vs not prepared is here but the date (New Year's Eve) along with the types of characters helped make this stick out a bit to me.

The introduction of a bike messenger was something completely new to me.  In a world without power - someone who is used to riding a bike 50 miles a day should, in theory, do well since he would already have a bike and the knowledge of how to get around the city very quickly.

Surprisingly, this is one of the first books I've ever read where someone buys one of the prefab bunkers that companies sell.  I've read a lot where someone builds their own or has an entire bunker custom built for them in a cave.  But this is the first time I can remember reading about someone buying one "off the shelf".  That part also stood out to me.  They spent some time in and around this place and I'd be curious to see how the survivors and the bunker hold up. 

Overall, Days of Panic flirts the line between a typical post-apocalyptic story and something new.  I hope that the rest of the series is inventive and comes up with some new stories and ideas.

Add in Kevin Pierce the voice of the apocalypse and you have a winner.  If you like PA books and love Kevin's voice - I'd be shocked if you didn't like Days of Panic. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • The Case of the Antiquities Collector

  • A Joey Mancuso, Father O'Brian Crime Mystery
  • By: Owen Parr
  • Narrated by: Fred Filbrich
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 18

Retired NYPD homicide detective Joey Mancuso and his half brother, Father Dominic O'Brian, are hired to find a Greenwich, Connecticut, young lady abducted from her dorm at the University of Miami. Working from their investigative offices located inside Captain O'Brian's Irish Pub & Cigar Bar, located in the Financial District of Manhattan, the brothers are about to find out there is more to this than a simple abduction.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mancuso and O'Brian solve another one...

  • By shelley on 05-20-18

A Modern Day Sherlock Holmes

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-31-18

4.5 out of 5 stars

This is the fourth installment in the Mancuso and Father O’Brien series and I couldn’t wait to dive in. Parr has written a world full of craziness that feels real. The character development over the past 3 books has helped make this another home run for him.

The private detectives will have it in for them when they are investigating a live person instead of a murder scene. The daughter of an accountant at a large law firm has gone missing and he didn’t call the cops but Joey and Father first. Things don’t feel right and Mancuso and O’Brien are on their next adventure.

At first, I wasn’t sure how Parr was going to tie in the Antiquities part of this - and he didn’t even need to but it was an interesting turn that I found myself enjoying. It didn’t come into play until later in the book but once it did it helped tie everything together.

Overall, Antiquities shows that Parr has grown as an author. I can’t pinpoint any specific thing that was different but it just felt a little more “mature” which actually sounds terrible as I write it. Don’t get me wrong - the jokes and humor are still there but maybe it was the case type that showed me a different side to Mancuso.

As always, a narrator can make or break a book (and especially a series). Filbrich IS the voice of Joey Mancuso in my head - I hope that Parr and he continue to work together. He narrated this story with heart and I’m glad that I was able to listen to it.

I think that you could read this book without reading any of the other stories but why would you? Binge all four books for a PI hangover like you were drinking all night in the Irish bar that they co-own. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful