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Al

British Columbia
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  • 54
  • helpful votes
  • 52
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  • Fire & Ice

  • Icefire Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Patty Jansen
  • Narrated by: Edward Mittelstedt
  • Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 14

Deep under the City of Glass in the frozen Southern land, an age-old machine called the Heart of the City radiates a power that locals call icefire. Most citizens are immune to it, but a few, always born with physical disabilities, can bend it to their will. For 50 years, the ruling Eagle Knights, who fly on the back of giant birds, have killed these Imperfects, fearing the return of the old royal family, who used icefire to cut out people's hearts, turning them into ghostly servitors. The old king's grandson Tandor only sees the good things icefire brought. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • needs better balance for the bad stuff

  • By TU on 02-20-19

Solid frozen fantasy

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

Reviewed: 02-10-19

Pretty good. Part Handmaid's Tale with a splash of JV Jones and a pinch of Jon Marco, and we have a decent fantasy set in a harsh frozen land. It's a little too humourless for my taste, and all the cast seem too earnest, but the world is interesting and the ending sets the tone for some big things down the road.

The narrator was good, dealing with a number of different characters, yet giving them unique voices.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tunnels and Other Short Stories

  • By: P.J. Blakey-Novis
  • Narrated by: David Sweeney-Bear
  • Length: 2 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

From the author of Embrace the Darkness, Tunnels takes you on six terrifying journeys full of terror and suspense. Join a group of ghost-hunters, dare to visit the Monroe house on Halloween, peek inside the marble box, and feel the fear as you meet the creatures of the night.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Glad I listened to this during the daytime

  • By audra dryer on 03-26-19

More quirky horror from PJ Blakey-Novis

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

Reviewed: 01-31-19

Got some time to kill? I basically listened to this in the space of a couple of hours this morning. It may be short, but the stories are fun, creepy and bizarre enough to whet your appetite. This is the second anthology I've read by this author (Embrace the Darkness), and I think I preferred this one, although both were great. In this sextet, I'm not sure whether the trick-or-treaters or the ghost hunters was my favourite, but all six were highly entertaining.

The narrator, too, was bang on, adding a lot of character to the, eh, characters. I'll have to check out the PJ's full length stuff to see if the author can match this over the course of a few hundred pages.

  • The Highborn Longwalker

  • By: Joshua Robertson
  • Narrated by: Todd Menesses
  • Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

After receiving an ominous message about forthcoming demons and doom, Falmagon Sej is sent to retrieve a magical staff to protect the Anshedar. But he has unknowingly fallen in love with the sister of his enemy, and the price for betraying love may be too high for him to stomach. Falmagon's footpath to becoming the Highborn Longwalker is riddled with sorrow, promising an undying hate for himself, unless he can somehow find salvation under the grace of the light bringer.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More Slavic tales of yore

  • By Al on 01-31-19

More Slavic tales of yore

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

Reviewed: 01-31-19

The author continues his re-imagining of Slavic mythology, this time telling of a highborn longwalker journeying to retrieve a magic staff. Along the way he falls for the sister of his enemy, which affects his better judgement. When demons come a-calling, can he regain his faith enough to save the day?

The author has this re-imagining malarkey almost down to an art form at this stage, properly evoking the epic vibe that permeates much if his work. The characters could slot into any mythology, and the world it is set in sounds very familiar (longwalkers assuming that other peoples will automatically defer to them?).

The narrator does a pretty good job, although the pseudo-Scottish accents for the longwalkers seemed a bit out of place.

A good story, not the most original, but definitely entertaining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Claus Boxed 2

  • A Science Fiction Holiday Adventure
  • By: Tony Bertauski
  • Narrated by: James Killavey
  • Length: 26 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

The Christmas adventures continue. The second volume of the holiday tales you never heard growing up! This bundle features HumbugThe Miser; and Ronin.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • What the Dickens, Bertauski style

  • By Al on 01-27-19

What the Dickens, Bertauski style

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

Reviewed: 01-27-19

Before we start, let it be known that I listened to the audiobook version.

I've experienced the author's work before, and it's usually fun, clever and plays with your mind a little. Or a lot. This threesome of tales is no different, although for whatever reason, they didn't do it for me this time. The stories are all related to some degree, and as the title might suggest, revolve around Christmas.

The first, Humbug, is my favourite. A retelling of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge runs a technology company, and has fame, fortune and so forth. However, he's also a jerk, so he's none too popular. When he starts having dreams and believing his dead partner, Jacob Marley, is visiting him at night, his life starts to spiral out of control. This is Tony Bertauski, so this isn't about some crotchety old git changing his ways. Instead there's robots, malicious code, holograms and so forth. It's good fun watching Eb lose his mind.

The second tale, The Miser, is about a girl who's dragged off on a mystery job on a tropical island by her dad. However, who is voice who controls the island, and who are these kids who are popping up all over the place? This one entails cloning and links into the other stories in the author's holiday adventure series.

Finally, we have Ronin. This has an interesting premise of a woman who wants to have Christmas every day, and part of the plan involves a Big Brother (TV show, not 1984) type scenario where the groups are split into Naughties and Nicies, But they didn't count on Ronin, a badass reindeer who has other plans.

Did I mention this was an audiobook? The narrator was absolutely the best thing about the trilogy, adding life and a seasonal vibe to the proceedings. I could easily imagine him narrating Frosty the Snowman or the Grinch, and I'll have to check out what else he's done..

The stories are pretty good, and enjoyable enough, but I enjoyed them less than Maze or the Socket Greeny saga. Still, if you want some Christmassy sci-fi this is worth a listen. Or a read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Toric's Dagger

  • Book One of the Weapon Takers Saga
  • By: Jamie Edmundson
  • Narrated by: Greg Patmore, Bridget Thomas
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

Toric's Dagger is just another religious relic, until it's stolen. Belwynn and her twin brother, Soren, volunteer to lead a team tasked with its retrieval. Drawn into a world of danger and treachery, they must rely on Soren's magical abilities, and on the telepathic bond they share. Now, as kingdoms and empires start to fall, the twins confront the dark forces that threaten them. They must not let the Dagger fall into the wrong hands. But when mercenaries, zealots, and sorcerers are all hunting for the same weapon, who should they trust?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good Start to the Series

  • By Lachlan Kendall on 07-14-18

A quest story with some fun twists

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

Reviewed: 01-17-19

Okay, I've got to admit, I didn't give this book a fair crack of the whip. I've had other stuff going on that was somewhat distracting, and I was also reading Chasing Graves and We Ride the Storm in the same period.

On to Toric's Dagger. The story tells of twins Belwynn and Soren, who take on the job of retrieving an ancient religious relic,that doesn't seem to have any real value. They were wrong. Their road leads the twins and their merry band down a twisting path that leads to a war that could end all wars. Can they hang onto the dagger, or will one of the other "interested parties" steal it for their own nefarious means?

I liked what I heard of this book. The story was good, the characters were likeable and funny, and it had a dark touch that always puts a smile on my face. The two narrators was an interesting idea. Normally it would be mostly redundant, but the twins could communicate telepathically,so the having a female voice for Soren made a lot of sense when trying to figure out who was talking.

I am going to get back to this, probably give it a reread/listen in a couple of months. Well worth checking out for fans of dark or epic fantasy. 4/5 stars.

  • Winds of War

  • By: Rhett C. Bruno, Jaime Castle
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 192
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191

Full-scale rebellion rages in the south, and Sir Torsten Unger must lead the Glass Army to face it. But when a new and unfamiliar king forces Torsten to march alongside one of his fiercest rivals, he must draw on his faith to keep the army from fracturing. Whitney Fierstown continues his tutelage of the blood mage, Sora, who is desperate to get a better handle on her mysterious powers. Their journey brings them to the merchant city of Winde Port, where they seek passage to Yaolin City aboard a ship. It's smooth sailing until they realize an old nemesis is hunting them....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4.5 Stars

  • By Joe on 12-18-18

The Buried Goddess Saga continues

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

Reviewed: 12-28-18

Before I ramble on, let me just add that is a joint effort between (mostly) sci-fi author Rhett Bruno and Jaime Castle, who writes (mostly) fantasy. I’m not always sure of the dynamics of two authors creating a joint effort, but our intrepid duo seem to have this one under control. I read Web of Eyes, the first part of the Buried Goddess Saga back in February, and I liked it a lot. It was fun, fast-paced and mildly insane.

Zoom forward 10 months, and an audio copy of Winds of War came my way. Instead of just sticking with the odd couple formula of the first, they went with a slightly different tack. Whitney has taken Sora under his wing, looking to turn her into a thief of his quality (perceived or otherwise), but Sora has other ideas. They travel to Mei Ping, but find that trouble is following in their wake. An old foe has sent an assassin after Whitney, and even his prodigious luck might run out this time.

Torsten returns home, but faces his own woes. Lumbered with the boy king Liam, who has forged an alliance with the heathen Redstar, he must lead the Glass Army against the Shiatsu, but needs to watch his own back as Redstar tries to undermine his leadership of the armyat every juncture. But Torsten needs Redstar and his army if he is to win the day. Can he maintain a tenuous peace for the greater good?

So, here’s the good. The story is still fun, action-packed and mildly insane. Dour Torsten is constantly on the verge of blowing a gasket as he has to deal with Redstar and the king, who seem to be constantly undermining him. Whitney and Sora are often amusing, but their bickering can also grate at times, but Whitney’s ingenuity in face of certain death (or imprisonment at least) is still a chuckle.

Here’s the bad. It’s not the story, it’s as good as the last. It’s not totally the narrator. One would also imagine Idris Elba voicing Torsten or his sidekick Wardric. My beef is with his narration of almost everyone else. Whitney and Sora spend their time screeching at each other in some pseudo-Oirish accent, while Redstar sounds like some snickering pervert. It’s a pity, because the audio could have been really good otherwise.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Price of Now

  • By: Michael Bussa
  • Narrated by: Krage Brown
  • Length: 1 hr
  • 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 short story set in the small, fictional town of Now, Indiana, circa 1940. A man, Troy, returns to his hometown after 10 years when he is diagnosed with cancer in his prime. Distraught, Troy visits a local antique store on Halloween night, hoping to find something to comfort him in his last weeks. He stumbles across a painting so compelling, he must have it at all cost - he must have it...now! Soon, Troy learns there is something more to the painting than for which he bargained. Something diabolical.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hang the Dang Picture

  • By Spooky Mike on 12-12-18

Not your father's Dorian Grey

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

Reviewed: 12-13-18

Troy Price is terminally ill. He decides to return to his hometown in Now, Indiana after a decade's absence, despite his family having all passed away. While there, he discovers a strange antique shop, and decides to seek something unique to help combat his waxing depression. A painting catches his eye, and despite the exorbitant price tag of $10,ooo (this is set in 1940), he springs for it. He brings it to his parents now derelict house, and then things start to get weird.

This is a rather engaging short story, with a nice job done by the narrator (it's an audiobook), although he sure doesn't sound like he's from Indiana. The plot moves nicely, and while your never likely to poop your pants, the double ending - yes, double - is well worth your time. I'll have to investigate more of this author's works.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Malefic

  • House of Souls, Book 2
  • By: Ambrose Ibsen
  • Narrated by: Joe Hempel
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

The move into 889 Morgan Road was supposed to be a fresh start for Joseph Dubois and his family. What they got instead was a nightmare. At night, guttural noises issue from behind the walls, and the family reports seeing a terrifying figure wandering the premises. Desperately seeking someone with experience in supernatural matters, Joseph calls upon his uncle, Marcel. Retired surgeon Marcel Dubois has a special gift: The ability to communicate with his dead wife. Harnessing this gift allows him to plumb the depths of the afterlife and to confront the paranormal. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't Buy the Cheap House in a Nice Neighborhood

  • By Spooky Mike on 11-13-18

A standard haunted house story with nice touches

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

Reviewed: 12-02-18

A family believes their house to be haunted and turns to their uncle for help. Said uncle, Marcel, arrives at the house, and finding nothing amiss initially, endeavours to explain things by more rational means. But Marcel is no hardened cynic, and very much believes in ghosts, as he has contact with his dead wife. The spooks finally materialise, and they are as bad, if not worse, than previously advertised. Marcel sets out to discover who is haunting the house , and why, and it leads him down a rabbit hole of twists and turns that leads to a surprising end.

I haven't read part one of the book, but this seemed to work well as a standalone. The plot isn't particularly novel, but has some interesting turns. There were some nice touches, like the wife haunting a fountain pen, and they communicate through writing each other. This was an audio version, and the narrator did a good job adding life to Marcel. The story is pretty good, although not particularly scary, and it's reads more like a detective story as Marcel investigates the case.

Pretty good. Somewhere between 3-3.5 stars.

  • Embrace the Darkness: And Other Short Stories

  • By: Mr P.J. Blakey-Novis
  • Narrated by: David Sweeney-Bear
  • Length: 1 hr and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

Step into the mind of the unstable, where nightmares become reality and reality is not always what it seems. Embrace the Darkness is a collection of six terrifying tales exploring the darker side of human nature and the blurred line between dreams and actuality. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Embrace the light

  • By Taj-Marie Lingofelter on 02-21-19

Fun weird horror anthology

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

Reviewed: 11-23-18

I had a listen to the audiobook version, and it was an enjoyable spin on the ordinary people in extraordinary situations sub-genre. The stories range from a man going for an operation to have a cyst removed from his foot, to twins who have supernatural powers at a time when witches are burnt at the stake, and others. All are well written, and the audiobook is well narrated. The anthology is reasonably short, about 90 minutes or so, and well worth a read or listen if you like weird horror.

  • Shield of Winter

  • Legend of the Gods, Book 2
  • By: Aaron Hodges
  • Narrated by: David Stifel
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Alana has been captured. She expected an agonizing death to follow, but instead, she now finds herself a guest of the Tsar. Locked away amidst the wealth and luxury, it isn’t long before she learns the reason she was spared - her entire life has been a lie. Her true identity lurks within, chained by magic, but with promises of untold power. It terrifies her, and yet she must know the truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Surprise! The truth is hard to swallow!

  • By Paul Vasquez on 12-04-18

An excellent middle book in a trilogy

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

Reviewed: 11-21-18

**AUDIOBOOK AND MINOR SPOILER WARNING**

I was only commenting recently on how tough it can be the middle book in a trilogy. THIS is the middle book in a trilogy (Legend of the Gods), and the author pretty much nails it.

Alana has been taken by Quinn to the Tsar's palace, much to her surprise, and there are more surprises to come as she finds out she is so much more than some brave woman rescuing her brother from the fate of other magickers. Devon and Killian head to Trola to find allies. Maybe not his finest idea, as he is known as the hero of Trola after leading the slaughter of thousands of Trolans years before, but he has found allies are in short supply at home.

So far, so standard as far as plotting goes, but in the author's usual fashion, the characters are far more interesting than meets the eye. Devon murdered thousands of men, women and children in the battle of Trola, and has vowed since to change his ways. His friend Killian had a good life, but gave it all up out of loyalty to his friend. Alana and Braden are on the run from the Tsar, but were never sure why - they find out in shocking fashion. Anala finds out she's not the only hero from The Sword of Light trilogy still alive (she is also unaware she is a character in a trilogy).

The author has this writing lark down. He writes enjoyable, pacy adventures with interesting characters and epic plots, and is accessible to both (older) teens and adults. He throws in a lot of gallows humour, and his heroes don't always get their way. The narrator, who I believe also narrated The Sword of Light trilogy as well as Oathbreaker (I could look it up, but I'm too lazy), does a great job in making distinguishable characters and keeping the story ticking along.

Here's the thing though - I think this series could have ended here. I can see the scope for continuation, but I'm mildly concerned it might drop the ball trying to string out the plot. The author, no doubt, will prove me wrong, and I look forward to the end of the trilogy.

A solid 4.5/5 stars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful