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Al

British Columbia
  • 30
  • reviews
  • 33
  • helpful votes
  • 37
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  • Darkmage

  • The Rhenwars Saga, Book 1
  • By: M. L. Spencer
  • Narrated by: Simon Wright
  • Length: 18 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12

Darien Lauchlin has already lost everything. Now the only thing he has left to lose is his soul. When his own brother unseals the Well of Tears, Darien is the last Sentinel left alive to defend his homeland. Now he is faced with an impossible decision: either watch everything he knows shatter - or forsake his oath of peace to become an instrument of pure destruction. Accompanied by Naia, a priestess of Death, Darien embarks on a harrowing journey to save the people of the Rhen. But will he lose his own soul in the process?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dark Fantasy at its finest

  • By Al on 10-18-18

Dark Fantasy at its finest

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

Reviewed: 10-18-18

You may (or may not) remember I wrote a review for Darkstorm, the precursor to Darkmage, a while back. As far as I know (yell at me if I’m wrong), Darkmage was actually written (or at least published) before Darkstorm, so this is essentially book one, and Darkstorm is book 0.5. I liked Darkstorm, but most of the first 70% or so definitely wallowed in the YA range. Darkmage is very different.

AUDIOBOOK WARNING

Standard Young Adult fare tends to be less satisfying for not Young Adults (or me anyway), as it tends to skirt over issues that less young types find appealing . ML Spencer has skilfully crafted a novel that appeals to the broader audience by dealing with the likes of morality and loss, while maintaining well drawn characters and using a writing style that will appeal to younger readers (as in 18, not 8).

Darkstorm started hard, then softened for a significant chunk of the novel, although it still entertained. Darkmage, on the other hand, starts off dark with the death of the hero’s mother, and destruction of his city. From here, it’s all downhill.

The story revolves around two men, Kyle Archer, just your average Joe, or Kyle, who gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and sent to Greystone Keep to guard against invasion. This sounds bad enough, but just after he arrives, a huge army shows up ready to attack. Out of the frying pan, and so on.

The other is Darien Lauchlin, a mage and son of the Prime Warden. When his brother Aidan kills their mother and open the Well of Tears, Darien finds he is all that stands between the end of the world. Or is he?

This book has it all – friendships are made and ended, political intrigue, epic battles and most importantly, hard choices and sacrifices must be made. As mentioned earlier, I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator did a terrific job, narrating the book as if the weight of the world was on shoulders, while capturing the tone and humour.

Want to check out a new series, or interested in checking out one of indie publishing’s finest authors, look no further. But don’t take my word for it, just read the darn book.

  • Battle of Kinds

  • The Far End Prequel
  • By: C. A. Gleason
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 2 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9

While witnessing a significant battle between rival kinds, a slave realizes what he wants for his life - but first he must escape the servitude of a powerful Efftrul leader.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • great intro to a series I'd never heard of

  • By TU on 10-17-18

Solid sci-fi tale of a slave breaking his chains

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

I seem to be coming across a few of this author's audios lately, having listened to Ravagers not so long ago. Battle of Kinds was pretty good, a tale of different species trying to survive on a savage world that takes no prisoners. Well, except as slaves.

Rawluv becomes enslaved to a powerful Efftrul who rescues him from certain death. After initially accepting his fate, Rawluv decides to do whatever it takes to be free, which sends him on a dangerous path which could cost him his life.

It's a pretty good tale, with different sentient species at war with each other, with Rawluv and his kind stuck somewhere in the middle. It's a prequel, so there's more to come (or there already is more?), and I might take a peak at the rest of the series to see where it goes.

Oh yeah, and the narrator did a solid, but certainly not spectacular job, although there wasn't a huge amount of material to test him too much.

  • Straight Outta Fangton

  • A Comedic Vampire Story
  • By: C. T. Phipps
  • Narrated by: Cary Hite
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

Peter Stone is a poor, black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car is. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift, as being a vampire isn't all that impressive in a world where they've come out to mortals. Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas station's store.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So funny, you'll die!!!

  • By Jason on 09-29-17

Blade meets Clerks

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

Take this as you will, but I've come to see CT Phipp's work as the book equivalent of a pair of comfy slippers. Sure, there's always the excitement of picking up a new book and wondering whether it will be the next [insert favourite book here], but there's also the possibility that it could be the next DNF.

Not so with this author, you know what you're getting into - lots of humour, pop culture references, a plot full of twists and turns, and a jaded and sarcastic everyman/woman type. Assuming you can count vampires and weredeer as everyman/woman types.

In Straight Outta Fangton we have a vampire who works in a 7/11 clone with his irreverent servant who is also his best friend. When they find a recently turned woman in the washroom, you just know things are about to spiral out of control.

Fangton is set in New Detroit, in the same world as the author's Weredeer books (do I smell a crossover?), and has a class system of vampires, corrupt cops, vampire hunters. other monsters and all the usual CT staples. It's a laugh, pokes fun at genre tropes and the plot will keep you guessing. The audiobook, which I had the pleasure of listening to, is well worth your time.

I've read a bunch of the author's work, and I've enjoyed each and every one of them (although some more than others). If you like his books, then you'll like this one. If you haven't, this would be a good place to start.

A more than respectable 4/5

(Ironically, I don't wear slippers. I actually hate them)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Blood and Oak

  • By: Garrett Bettencourt
  • Narrated by: Travis Baldree
  • Length: 13 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Growing up on his father's ship was an adventure for young John. His world crumbled the day the Barbary Pirates took him away in chains, along with his mother and sister. Five years later, after a daring escape to America, John is eager to join the USS Philadelphia and meet the corsairs with steel. Then, one stormy night, a stranger brings word: His sister, Kaitlin, is alive. John must risk everything on a bold plan to sail to the Barbary Coast.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Adventure at Sea!

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 09-19-18

A Tale of Pirates and Revenge

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

Please note that no points were deducted for the murder of accents throughout the recording, as I have finally made my piece with such savagery.

So, I liked it. It was a fun story of revenge on a bunch of murderous pirates by by a lovable Irish rogue. John Sullivan and his family were captured by Barbary pirates when he was just five years old, and sold into slavery. John escaped, making his way to the US, where he spent his days seeking revenge and saving whichever of his family still breathes. A fortuitous card game gets him some much-needed sponds, and his adventure begins, although it certainly doesn't go smoothly.

John and his crew are a likeable bunch, and the narrator does a good job of passing this off, while there are some jerks trying to stop him, equally made obvious. The narrator also knocks out a baudy shanty or two, which made me chuckle heartily. The author does try to insert some big topics into the story which, while certainly worthy, get a little lost in the shuffle and seem a bit out of place. Perhaps they even make the novel a little longer than necessary.

Good fun though, worth a listen or a read, and come close to a solid 3.5 stars, but not quite.

  • Lucifer's Nebula

  • Lucifer's Star, Book 2
  • By: C. T. Phipps, Michael Suttkus
  • Narrated by: Eric Burns
  • Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Captain Cassius Mass can only run so far from his problems and the galaxy isn't big enough to hide from those pursuing him. Cassius soon finds himself blackmailed into a mission that will clear him of all charges as well as protect him from future persecution: bring an end to the civil war currently racking the galaxy. Accompanied by a new set of untrustworthy allies, the crew of the Melampus, and the A.I duplicate of his dead wife - Cassius needs to figure out how to not only deal with his target but also his employers. Because the entire universe is at stake.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Universe survives but with funny bad decisions!

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 08-31-18

Star Wars for grown ups (kind of)

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

Lucifer's Nebula, the sequel to Lucifer's Star, carries on the story of the Author's "dark Star Wars," as it's often referred to.

Cassius, the hero, is a former evil noble turned arms dealer (you'll see). He's like a boozy, sweary Han Solo type with a jaded wit that will have you chuckling. He has a supporting cast of characters painted as stereotypes initially, but the author does a good job of breathing some life into them. The universe is interesting, with humans dominating, and (shock, horror!) constantly at war with each other. There's also an elder race that appears to be pulling the strings.

Cassius and Co, instead of pulling out the heroics, continually putting themselves in danger due to a misguided sense of right, or just being petty (Cassius trying to one-up his father). At times the set pieces can seem ridiculous, but way less so than taking out an evil Empire with four X-Wing fighters (I remember that shot from the original original). This being a parody, it's all good.

My favourite thing though, is the narrator. He carries the pace well, and you can almost hear the constant sighing as he churns out Cassius' lines. His best bit is the woman who butchers a Scottish accent in the belief that she's honouring her culture. Even when she wasn't saying something funny, I was chuckling.

Great story, not the author's finest, but definitely a fun read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Restriction

  • The Rise of Magic, Book 1
  • By: CM Raymond, LE Barbant, Michael Anderle
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239

She didn't mean to use magic. She didn't even know she had magic. She just wanted to save her brother, who was dying in her arms. Accused of using illegal magic, and sentenced to a cruel death at the hands of the city's guards, Hannah has no choice but to trust in the aid of a strange old man who wields unimaginable power.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great

  • By Theresa Horton on 09-16-18

Interesting Post Apocalyptic fantasy

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

The premise is pretty interesting, set in a future post-apocalyptic earth where magic is used to divide classes. Typical. Even though the earth has been to hell and back, humans are still trying to better each other. It turns out though, that is, as in the case with class divides in general, utter bollox. The hero, Hannah, is a feisty gutter rat (yeah, yeah, I know), who discover she has magical powers, and sets about righting the wrongs of the world.

The world is pretty intriguing, and is the best part of the book. There is of course, the one city where almost everyone lives, and then there’s “not the city,” which is wild and dangerous. The city – Arcadia – is akin to any other, with it’s wealthy sections far removed from its slums. It is in said slums where we meet Hannah, a cutpurse who works while her partner Parker entertains the masses. While evading capture, her brother William has a seizure, and a strange man offers to cure him in exchange for Hannah learning magic. Needless to say, she agrees, or this would have been a short story.

There is a quasi-religion, which no one really believes in, with a Matriarch and a Patriarch, amusingly known as the Bitch and the Bastard (which wears thin after a while)and the Founder, who rescued humanity from potential extinction all those years ago before leaving to walk the earth in a Kung Fu kind of way. Then there’s the head of the magic academy, who is, of course, a dick, and he takes umbrage at Hannah’s attempts to end the status quo (not the band), they didn’t survive the apocalypse. Probably.

There’s actually lots of other fun stuff going on with the worldbuilding, and I’m going to pass on going into it in any detail, because, to be honest, my attention was mostly captivated when this was being expounded.

There’s the good stuff.

As I said, it wasn’t all good. For starters, there were more tropes that you shake a shitty stick at. In fact, it could almost be referred to as Tropical Fantasy. See what I did there?The dialogue, of which there was tons, was along the lines of a sweary Gilmore Girls. If that floats your boat, jump right in here. Granted, Hannah’s probably late teens, but surely language would have evolved (or devolved) over the time period in question.

The narrator is great though, rolling with the dialogue and showing the requisite emotions etc when needed, and voicing the characters so you never need to question who’s talking. I’d love to check out some of her other stuff. Maybe I will.

All in all, pretty good, probably more for a YA audience. A solid 3/5 stars.

  • Ravagers

  • By: C. A. Gleason
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner
  • Length: 3 hrs and 49 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

Searching for missing soldiers on a distant planet, Captain Nev and his squad are suddenly at war with fierce beasts. As they desperately fight for survival against this cunning, brutal, and relentless enemy, the devastating secrets determining their mission are revealed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Easy creature feature read!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 09-24-18

Decent Aliens rehash

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

Reviewed: 09-26-18

Okay here goes...

THIS IS ALIENS!!

Sorry for shouting, but this an aliens rehash. We have a bunch of hardass xenobait marines on an alien world, fighting against an apparently superior foe. Sadly for this bunch, Ripley doesn't come and save their sorry asses. There's the obvious setup from (slightly) behind the scenes figures, but at its heart it's a "save the colonists" deal.

Still, there are a couple of neat twists, and if the author had painted the Bad Guy as a more sympathetic character (and could have), I'd have given this another star. To be honest, I'd prefer this if it was a movie. Do you hear that author person? Turn it into a screenplay and make it a movie!

  • Wolf's Head

  • The Forest Lord
  • By: Steven A. McKay
  • Narrated by: Nick Ellsworth
  • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 285
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 258

After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions - including John Little and Will Scaflock - hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals. When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not your Grand-dad's Robin Hood

  • By presterjohn1 on 04-23-14

Robin Hood for Grown Ups

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

I'm on a mythology/historical fiction run at the moment, and seriously, who doesn't love Robin Hood? Remember all those movies over the years giving different portrayals of the lovable rogue? This one is different. Quite different. This one goes mostly for historical accuracy, hence it's dark. But don't let that put you off.

We start with a young Robin (17 or so), not the heroic Knight Templar, but essentially a country bumpkin who takes umbrage with an abbot who tries to take his ladyfriend, Matilda, to work in his brothels. Robin escapes from the abbot's guards, but now has a price on his head, so he escapes to Barnsdale Forest (Yorkshire). He can no longer go home, so he seeks out the local outlaw bunch, with all the big names - Will Scarlet, Little John and so forth - who are led by the mysterious Adam Bell. They take him in and train him to be one of their gang. And the legend begins...

This is a interesting take on Robin. The mystical side, with Hearne the Hunter and so forth, is pushed rudely aside early on in favour of political intrigue and heists. This is a harsh world they live in. Food is scarce and the common people are starving, while the nobles live like fat cats in their castles. Robin and his men do steal from the rich and give to the poor, but it's not an act of charity, more a move to keep the people on their side. 

There is action aplenty, but not the silly sword fights we've become accustomed to. Blood is spilled, people die agonising deaths and even a scratch can be fatal. The cast are likeable, but there is no failure on the author's part to point out that they are killers, some more bloodthirsty than others. They are, in fact, little better than the actual bad guys.

I mentioned political intrigue. There is more than just anti-church (it is corrupt) sentiment here. This is post-Norman invasion Britain, where the Saxons resent the current status quo, while the Normans are at war with the pesky Scots. Caught in the middle, Sir Richard (aha!) is trying to organise a rebellion against the current King Edward (II).  

The author does take a couple of liberties with historical facts, but defends it well, in my opinion. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was rock solid, doing a great job with a lot of characters and handling the tone well.

Before I sign off - be warned! This is not your Disney Robin Hood. This is a bunch of boozy, sweary thugs and the story is bloody and bleak. In saying that, I loved the old Michael Praed/Jason Connery Robin Hood TV show back in the 80s, so this could be second favourite retelling yet. Roll on book two - 4.5/5 stars.  

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Pilgrimage

  • A Post-Apocalyptic Survival Story
  • By: Tom Abrahams
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 9 hrs and 5 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 192

Pilgrimage is a stand-alone post-apocalyptic story of survival. It was previously published as three separate novellas: Crossing, Refuge, and Advent. High School teacher James Rockwell is vacationing in Maine with his family, when an earth-changing explosion sends them on a race for their lives. Their first step is escaping an island in the midst of a tsunami, and it only gets more dangerous from there. Can they find their way home as civilization crumbles around them? And if they do, what horrors will they find?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Collection Of Three Stories That Read Like One

  • By Brian on 08-29-18

An average apocalyptic tale with some new ideas

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

Reviewed: 08-28-18

I received a free audiobook from the author with the option of leaving a review.

So here goes.

This is based on the Perseid Collapse series by Steve Konkoly. Not sure if that makes it fan-fiction, but the characters are unique (to this story), just the "universe" is the same.

Pilgrimage has certain elements that set it apart from other apocalyptic tales. For example, it's set during the first ten or so days and it details a rapid collapse of society, as opposed to a slow decline.

However...

You've read this before. Despite the premise, the events in the book could have happened a year after. Or twenty years. There's little to make it unique to being smack bang in the middle of the apocalypse apart from some dinner table arguments.

The MC is a God-fearing science teacher turned killing machine, who seems to be too Rambo too soon. He has a moment late in the story where he questions his choices, but deals with it inappropriately - "Kill 'em all and let God sort it out" is essentially his thought process. His wife is his voice of reason early on, then encourages him later, while his pre-teen boy is all set to plug people. The other characters are the usual preppers with military grade weaponry or random civilians who end up seeing the light (by shooting people).

I've heard the narrator before (Erebus), and he has a tendency to make characters sound like they're preaching too you, he has a weird patronising tone that gets my goat. Maybe I'm just the sullen teen type.

On the whole, not bad, but not much new on display here. If you want some post-apoc action and "Walking Dead" style setting (no Zs though), jump on board, but it's definitely got a rinse/wash/repeat vibe to it.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Eldren: The Book of the Dark

  • By: William Meikle
  • Narrated by: Chris Barnes
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

Two boys in the west of Scotland awaken an ancient vampire. And the only way to stop it is in the power of a book - a bible detailing the dark religion of the Eldren. But time is running out, and the sun is getting low.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good read.

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 09-05-18

Pretty good vampire novel

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

Reviewed: 08-14-18

I kind of liked this. There were some great ideas, like vampires had their own version of the bible where they were the chosen ones, as long as they eschewed drinking blood. There were of course the troublesome element who fell in with Old Nick and became eeevvviiilll.

The story is set in a small Scottish town, and the characters fit the setting, if a wee bit stereotyped (it is a small town after all). It begins with a married couple discovering the burial place of the bloodsuckers, then later two kids looking for kicks accidentally wake up the vamps, who set about taking over the town. All the tropes are here - garlic, stakes and so forth - but in a nice touch, crosses don't work.There's some silly bits that are touched upon too, like the army coming to suppress the vamp uprising, having known about them all along, covering up other outbreaks.

The narrator was good, nice to hear a real "Scottish" accent on an audiobook, but I found at times I drifted when listening, as the material didn't always grab hold like audio needs to.

If you like vampy horror, you should probably check this out. Maybe I need to read it instead.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful