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  • Smith

  • By: Sam B Miller II
  • Narrated by: John Pirhalla
  • Length: 4 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

 

Every once and a while the voice that's in and out of our hero's head assures, “Fear not, for I am with you”. That voice is what will be called Smith, a voice from ancient and potent times. That voice - at once droll, clever, mercurial, and deliciously brutal - is one of the many highlights of this lively adventure.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hopefully just an intro

  • By Michelle on 09-05-18

Coming of Age story with a snarky talking ring

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

Reviewed: 07-17-18

Quite a different direction from his previous audiobooks, “The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.” and “Dawn of Chrysalis”, which I have previously reviewed, Mr. Miller instead takes us on an Earthly adventure to the regions of Israel. Our main character (Jake) is growing up in this part of the world because his father is an archeologist and researcher. The book “SMITH” is a rather short contemporary science fiction coming of age story about a boy who finds a mysterious ring granting him near super hero powers. The audiobook edition is exceptionally well narrated by John Pirhalla who has also narrated the author’s other books. There is action, there is adventure, and there is even a bit of romance all packed into this novelette. Even though it is not the space-based science fiction I have grown to like from author, it is a well written tale consisting of both mystery, action, suspense, and deceit. In just under four hours of audio, the author takes the listener on a path watching Jake grow from a boy into a man. If you like well written mysterious adventures, I recommend you give “Smith” by Sam B. Miller II a listen.

Although the book at times opened like your standard coming of age story, there were times where the author surprised me with the direction he went with the story. You have a boy who has some major relationship issues with his workaholic father. His mother died when he was younger, so he only has himself to trust; apart from a close friend. Because his is an outsider in this country, he is often bullied and considered the one people stay away from talking with. This often forces our main character to go out and discover the world, mostly on his own, and here is where is finds a surprising treasure. The author does a good job of building a level of tension between Jake and his father where one wonders if it will ever be resolved. For the most part, the main characters felt like they had depth and complexity, and each person seemed to stay consistent to their defined character. A few of the minor characters felt less defined meaning that I found myself not connecting with them as deeply.

As some may not be aware from the book’s title, I wanted listeners to know there is quite a bit of material dealing with religious overtones around the ring, along with its location near the conflict between Palestine and Israel. The book is in no way preachy, but it does use references from Biblical and non-biblical sources and weaves them into the story quite a bit. As with Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, I would not take the author’s theological stance as truth, it is clear that it is a piece of fiction. If you are aware of this from the start, you can better understand why the author uses such in his book. Even Jake’s father talks about his ability to separate, yet struggles as times, between both science and his religion.

Even though the book is rather serious most of the time, there are bits of pieces of humor thrown in helping to reduce some of the built-up tension. The ring is often humorous when it speaks with the main character as it has not been privy to our world and language over the past few thousand years. One of my favorite humorous parts is when the main character realizes that it is never a good idea to argue with an armed woman who also knows krav maga; Israel’s defense forces fighting style. She is the same one who is his romantic interest. There are also times where the author blends in some more conventional conversations between characters making the book feel more realistic. In some cases, I would have like to have had a few more periods of backstory or downtime chatter because much of the book moved from one action sequence to the next without giving me time to come up for a breath of air. As condensed as the book is, the author could have added some more to the story without greatly expending on its overall size. The book does a good job of also adding aspects of mystery and suspense to the story. Often the listener is left wondering who the good guys are and who are the bad ones.

Let me turn my attention to the audiobook’s narration. I have enjoyed the other works I have listened to performed by John Pirhalla. He has a rich, deep, and engaging voice that worked quite well for this story. He does a really good job of voicing the many different characters, and even those who had some difficult accents. I liked his use of inflection and each of the characters felt individual and unique. The book did not contain any audio artifacts or background noises. The only thing I will say is my finding of one missed edit near the end of the book where a word was repeated twice. Most will not even notice it, but I have to include it as many listeners like their audiobooks to be near perfect; and this one us is. I do not mind an issue here or there, but as a whole the piece is executed quite professionally.

For parents and younger readers, I can say that the author does not use any vulgar language in the book that I can recall. The elements containing romance are light and not a primary focus of the story. However, I will say the book does contain a fair amount of rather graphic and violent scenes of death. Smith is a killing machine and often the deaths occur so quickly that one begins to forget just how big the number of people die. Because of this, I would only recommend the book to older or more mature listeners that do not mind this level of violence.

In summary, if you liked “The Mummy”, “The Da Vinci Code”, or you like coming of age stories with a snarky talking ring, I would recommend you give “SMITH” a try. Mr. Miller weaves a tale that is mysterious, suspenseful, and feels a bit like a super hero story. Although it is shorter, the book does not feel incomplete. Could there have been some added pieces giving the story more depth, sure but I was glad to know this is a self-contained stand-alone audiobook that at this time I do not think there are plans for the sequel. I guess we will have to wait and see. Any comments Mr. SMITH?

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

  • The Flipside

  • By: Jake Bible
  • Narrated by: Andrew B. Wehrlen
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 63

The year is 2046, and dinosaurs are real. Time bubbles across the world, many as large as 100 square miles, turn like clockwork, revealing prehistoric landscapes from the Cretaceous Period. They reveal the Flipside. Now, 30 years after the first turn, the clockwork is breaking down, as one of the world's powers has decided to exploit the phenomenon for his own gain. Former head of security for Topside Command Trevon Cash must navigate his way through the chaos of the broken turns and take a team Flipside to try to figure out what is happening. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Creative Time Travel story.

  • By cosmitron on 06-26-18

Time Travel with a twist

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

Jake Bible and Andrew B. Wehrlen once again come together to create and produce a new post-apocalyptic action-thriller audiobook series where time bubbles around the globe permit people to journey back to prehistoric periods by simply entering them. These bubbles are soon developed as a way of profiting via tourism; but is it really a good thing? These are not your ordinary time traveling device, instead you are sent back to the period when dinosaurs roamed the earth and they are the ones at the top of the food chain. This familiar Audible duo have again created and brought to life new and exciting worlds, technology, and challenges in their book titled “The Flipside”. The book felt like a blending of Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park, and for me it worked. I liked the complex story, characters and world building, but I found the book lacking the normal amount of action Mr. Bible often includes in his Roak series. This does not mean it’s a bad book, not at all. Just that it is different from others he has written and I like the change. If you go into the book understanding this and/or if you are a fan of well-written and produced science fiction audiobooks, I recommend you give the book (and future series) listen.

As with most of Mr. Bible’s works I have listened too, this one opens with an action-packed scene along with many unanswered questions. This quickly brings the listener into the story and hooks them from the start. It made me think of a futuristic opening like that found in the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. It was quite powerful and impactful for me as the story began to unfold and I became aware of what was happening. I liked the suspense and mystery Bible creates in this story. Although this is not a fantasy tale, we are shown many new and different creatures which can only be described as something resembling a flying dragon; who has its own stash of treasure. I was a bit confused to see the book classified in the “Post-Apocalyptic” genre instead of “Military Science Fiction”. However, this may be the final direction the author intends to go with the series and this is only the first book setting up the scenario.

Because the story mostly focuses on a team of military people and a few scientists, there is quite a bit of graphic violence and over-the-top mean of people dying. Again, this is a Jake Bible book need I say more? Not only do we get a view into the needs of protecting these time travel bubbles from hostiles, we also are made aware of current dramatic and cataclysmic world events such as major earthquakes, etc. This may be some of the building of the post-apocalyptic theme. With all the action and events happening, I do have to say that Mr. Bible is able to weave in times of intense emotion. There are twists, turn, lives saved, and lives lost. I liked that there were elements that made me feel a part of the story as I cared about most of the characters he created. There were not always highs and lows, but also a fair amount of humor and surprise along the way. A pet dinosaur called Elvis, multiple pokes, jabs, and zings thrown around between the party members and much more.

Not only do we have the military parts of the story, but I also liked how Mr. Bible included and even raised a few questions around the science of time travel. Is there really a concept of a time travel paradox, or was that resolved by science in some way? You will have to read the story to find out. Although this story takes place in 2046, it did not seem otherly from what we know today apart from some advanced tech and knowledge. Much of the geopolitical facets of our world we know today also are a part of this futuristic Earth. At times I felt like I was dropped into a Mass Effect game that was combined with bits of Jumanji, and it worked well.

If we turn out attention to the narration performed by Andrew B. Wehrlen, I have listened to a number of his audiobook works and all of them were nothing less than what I would consider the highest of quality and professionally produced books I have listened too. His voice alone is a pleasure to listen too, and he is able to add the necessary inflection making the story feel like you are listening to a movie production; only with your eyes closed. This book is no exception. The audio was clean of any defects or artifacts, and the voicing of the many characters was done expertly. If I had one critique, this story seemed to be read a bit faster than his other pieces I have listened too. It was not a bad thing unless you are one who likes listening to audiobooks at a slightly faster rate than normal (1x).

For parents and younger readers, I would say this book is only intended for mature audiences. It is quite graphic regarding scenes of violence and the use of vulgar language is what one might expect when the various members of the book banter between each other along the way. If you are a younger reader or someone easily offended by the above, I recommend you pick up a book other than this one to listen too.

In summary, if you enjoy unique stories involving science fiction, time travel, war, and creatures with big teeth that can tear you to pieces, I believe you will enjoy this new book written by Jake Bible. Note, this book is only one in what appears will be a series of books. A number of the story plots conclude, but a good amount of them are left to be answered in the next book; not yet available in audiobook format.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

  • Paradox Slaughter

  • A Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter Novel
  • By: Jake Bible
  • Narrated by: Andrew B. Wehrlen
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 48

Robbed of his chits and betrayed by one of his oldest contacts, Roak is now on a rampage across the galaxy to hunt the duplicitous scumbag down and exact some serious payback. Bishop is on the run, and Roak is right behind him. System by system, planet by planet, contact by contact, Roak leaves no rock unturned and no lead unchecked. He beats answers out of those that dare help Bishop. He kills those that refuse to answer. Roak is waging war on the criminal grapevine, and no one is safe from his wrath.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Galactic manhunt.

  • By cosmitron on 06-08-18

A close call fro Roak this time...

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

Reviewed: 06-25-18

If you are looking for a science fiction story where the gas petal is always held to the floor, “Paradox Slaughter” is one of the many “Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter” novels that gives the listener a full action experience. The story is written by Jake Bible and the audiobook is expertly narrated by Andrew B. Wehrlen. This is the third book in the Roak series which I have reviewed of the four currently available. I have never once been disappointed when I’m looking for a book containing a solid story and heavy amounts of fighting. It should be noted, if you are one who steers their ship away from graphic violence, I would recommend you take a pass on this book; and series. If instead, you like your science fiction stories rather gritty and dark with over the top violence, this book, and the full series, is for you.

Roak is a man who has issues with revenge and demands payback no matter the outcome. What better person would you want to be a bounty hunter as his day job. He is not someone you would want to bring home for dinner, but if you found yourself in a dire situation, Roak will be the one to get you out. The books is a bit of Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Dog the bounty hunter combined into one. What amazes me is that Mr. Bible is able to create new and exciting adventures and worlds that all feel familiar to the listener, yet they are fresh and different with each story. The author blends in some new creatures while a few of his trusted friends (those that survive earlier adventures) are still at his side; including his trusty and snarky Artificial Intelligence (AI) “Essa”. We are given a view into newer and more exciting technology and weapons; never a bad thing. Always one of my favorite aspects of these stories. Roak has not matured much over the previous titles, he is still a man who mainly thinks of himself or his chits; often at the detriment to his limited number of friends. I feel sorry for anyone who has Roak on their tail, he is relentless I his hunting. Yet, his main nemesis, The Bishop, remains at large.

What I enjoy about this series is that it is predictable in its ability to be unpredictable. They always open with a bang and there are times of story building, but I find I’m always surprised at the number of twists and turns the author is able to weave into them. Even though the books in this series are rather gritty and gruesome, there are times where one is presented with an emotional turn. Often, these come at a time you did not expect. Even though the fight is often non-stop, the author is able to make each encounter fun and exciting. The listener has to wonder how Roak will get out of the current situation he is facing. His character feels a bit like James Bond and a little Dog the bounty hunter blended together. Although Roak may seem invincible, the author gives him enough vulnerability to always keep you wondering if he will survive a given fight.

This story is a bit different from the others in the series as Roak needs to partner with others in a hope to accomplish his goal. This is both different for him, and at times quite humorous as an outcome. I liked this change in direction for this book and look forward too many more to come. For those who like this series, it is clear from the book’s ending that the adventures of Roak and his friends will continue. There will be more in the series as the book leaves a few of the story plots open.

Let me turn your attention to the book’s narration by Andrew B. Wehrlen. I really enjoy listening to this narrator when it comes to the science fiction genre. He is able to voice the many different characters using unique voices that allow the listener to easily distinguish them from one another. Mr. Wehrlen has a rich and clear voice bringing the book’s characters to life. The audio was crisp and clear of any defects. The recording was professionally produced, which is what I now expect from a narrator of this level and skill.

For parents and younger readers, as with the other books in this series. There are vast amounts of vulgar language, gratuitous violence, and a fair amount of sexual content. I would not recommend this title to any but mature readers who are not easily offended.

In summary, if you are looking for full on action space story, the Roak series, and this book, will keep you on the edge of your seat. When I see something written or narrated by this team, I want to pick it up and give it a listen. If you are a fan of others in the series, it is a no brainier that you will want to spend a credit for this one. If you are new to the series, I would recommend you give this or others in the series a try. Well worth the listen.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

  • The Spaceship Next Door

  • By: Gene Doucette
  • Narrated by: Steve Carlson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,297
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,966
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,969

When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization everyone freaked out for a little while. Or almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another fun Sci Fi read with an Excellent Reader!

  • By bluestategirl on 12-30-16

Worth your time and credit

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

Reviewed: 05-10-18

Gene Doucette (author) and Steve Carlson (narrator) provide the reader with an in-depth, engrossing, and engaging contemporary science fiction story called “The Spaceship Next Door”. What’s even better is that the events take place in a fictional town in my home state of Massachusetts; more on that later. The book is the first in a series, with the second currently available on Audible (The Frequency of Aliens) which I have not yet listened too but plan too. What type of events can happen when one day, out of the blue, a spaceship lands in your backyard? At first people are nervous and apprehensive, that is until they became complacent with this ship sitting there for nearly three years doing absolutely nothing. Yes, nothing. People mostly went about their daily lives and ignored the ship, that is until strange things begin to occur, and Annie is taken down a rabbit hole she never knew existed. Not simply odd, but really abnormal things begin to happen to nearly everyone in town. If you enjoy well developed and narrated works of science fiction, I recommend you pick up a copy and give it a listen. At times it is light-hearted, and other times it is very serious and emotional, but one thing is for sure, the book is never dull.

Taking a coming of age story, blend in a few alien plots from the X-Files, stir in some conspiracy theories, and a dash of apocalyptic events and you have a good idea of what to expect when listening to this story. The author did an exceptional job of entertaining while also information the reader through his book. The world and scenes were well defined, yet left room for one’s imagination. The characters were complex and likeable. When you add on top of it good writing and research, you get an exceptional book like this one. As one can see by other reviewers, this book stands out in a rather crowded space. The author was able to weave in enough humor and fun to make it enjoyable while also having a few scenes that invoke strong and intense emotional feelings. The book starts out with a bang and you feel it is going ninety miles an hour, and that is until you get near the end and look back to see that all the previous action was only traveling at twenty-five miles per hour. There is action, mystery, mayhem, but there is also plenty of down time to allow the reader the ability to surface and take a breath. What appeared odd at first was also all the tech the people living in a trailer pack possessed. We saw facial recognition systems, high-end military hardware, and more. It was fun, but at times seemed over the top. I’m hoping some of this will be addressed in the future parts of the series.

So, let me turn to the one issue I had with the book taking place in Massachusetts rather than Nevada, etc. The state is quite small in area and also contains a quite densely packed population. One statement in the book said that the government thought the aliens were quite inconsiderate for landing their ship in such a remote location; also near a trailer park. I was unable to think of any places in the state where this would be the case. Again, not a show-stopper in any way, but it did take me out of the story as I pondered where Sorrow Falls would be located. Now, if you put it in Montana or one of the many Western states where there are miles and miles between neighbors, I would have been OK with that.

Let me say, that the book’s narration by Steve Carlson has made me seek out other pieces narrated by him. This is his only work that I have listened too and I’m now a fan. His voice was very clean, sharp, and easy to listen too. He was able to articulate and add inflection to the many characters which really brought the book to life. I was quite amazed at this ability to even voice the words of a teenage girl and make it sound believable; this is no easy task and only shows his ability and skill all the more. I do not recall any audio artifacts while listening nor any issues with consistency of volume.

For parents and younger readers, the book does contain some discussions containing sexual subject matter and topics. There are a few references to our main character’s coming of age and her at puberty. There are a few scenes involving gender along with a few references containing alcohol and drug usage. There are a some mild and infrequest anti-religious references sprinkled in a few places throughout the book. All of these were very lightly used, but if you are offended by any of the above I would recommend you find a different book to listen too.

In summary, I’m glad I picked up this book and took the time to listen. I was worth both my credit and time. If you like fun and interesting coming of age stories with very good science fiction writing, you will not be disappointed. All I can leave you with is a recommendation for the book. Go give it a listen.

  • Blind Man's Bluff

  • The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
  • By: Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew
  • Narrated by: George Wilson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 424
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 385

No espionage missions have been kept more secret than those involving American submarines. Now, Blind Man's Bluff shows for the first time how the navy sent submarines wired with self-destruct charges into the heart of Soviet seas to tap crucial underwater telephone cables. It unveils how the navy's own negligence might have been responsible for the loss of the USS Scorpion, a submarine that disappeared, all hands lost, 30 years ago.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WOW!!!

  • By Jeff Lambert on 09-29-17

Amazing Cold War Events

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

Reviewed: 05-09-18

“Blind Man's Bluff”, subtitled “The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage”, is written by both Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew. The audiobook edition is performed by George Wilson. The book has become a New York Times Bestseller upon its release and let me say that I can understand why after listening. If you are someone who grew up during the Cold War, or if you enjoy books with submarines, or if you are a person who likes a good Clancy spy novel, you will want to pick up a copy of this audiobook; it is fascinating. Consisting of nearly sixteen hours of action-packed and factual events from history, this book is well worth the Audible credit and your listening time. I have heard rumors and bits of many of these various submarine missions, but the authors of the book bring history to life and fill in many of the gaps in stories available elsewhere. Nowhere have I found a book that covers so much of what was kept secret for such a long period of time; much of it is still classified as Top Secret. Things we will never know and may never want to know.

What I found intriguing was all the amazing men (the Navy’s submariner program was mostly men during this time in history) who risked their lives to collect intelligence on our perceived enemy threats. I was also amazed how much the program expanded from not only leveraging this technology against the Russians, but also other countries we felt were hostile to the United States; and even a few of our allies. It was interesting to see how quickly a program could be developed and that it took so long for people to realize the potential of these “tin cans of death” under the cover of the seas. Not only did we want to build bigger, faster, and quieter submarine technology, we also wanted vessels that could be used to tap underwater communication cables without the other side knowing. All of this clandestine activity needed to be done via the highest level of secrecy while also attempting to build defenses around our own infrastructure preventing others from doing the same to us.

All of the technology and missions were what captivated me the most about this book, yet there was also such well researched material around the various programs, funding, and quite a bit of internal feuding to ultimately see who would get the credit when all of this rolled up to the higher-ups in government. The authors did an exceptional job of not just telling us about the missions, or what could be the more interesting parts, but instead gave us the whole story even when some of it was not all that pretty and people lost their lives. The book goes beyond covering the cable wire taping program that many are familiar with, it also dives into the many cat and mouse games played between the Russians and Americans at the heat of the cold war. It covers the multitude of near misses while the two countries played these games with one another. And, as most have been told by their mothers while young, it is all fun until some gets hurt. This book details what might have been at the heart of the loss of the USS Scorpion which failed to return to port at its assigned time.

The ability of the authors to research and catalogue so much about this program from papers requested via the freedom of information act, interviewing people who were there on the missions, and also from records found from the other side which gave a very different view of what we believe happened. I feel the book only exposes the tip of the iceberg, yet there is so much we will never know about this program.

For me, the book’s narration by George Wilson could have been more professionally recorded or edited prior to being made available on Audible. Overall the narration was decent, yet there were a few times where there were some noticeable volume inconstancies and a few times I could hear background noise. Nothing that would keep me from listening and being engaged with such a powerful story. The narration was not terrible, yet for those who like their narration and audio error free, just be aware there are a few spots if you pick up this book.

For parents and younger readers. This book does have a few places where profanity is used but is only used when the authors are quoting someone. It could have been beeped out, but the authors instead decided to leave quotes unedited, so be aware that there are a few places strong language is used and quite heavy at times. Being this book is a military piece of non-fiction, there are also some quite graphic events covered in the material, however these are factual events and the book does not contain anything that excessive.

In summary, the book was a fascinating piece that brought me into the historic events of cold war and the importance of information during these times. One needs to remember, this was pre-Internet and government hacking. All of these missions required men and women to put their lives as risk in the hope that the information gathered would keep you and I safe from future attack. If you are looking for a piece of engrossing non-fiction and you like to see the world of spies and submarines, I highly recommend you pick up “Blind Man’s Bluff” and give it a listen.

  • Mob Fest '29

  • By: Bill Tonelli
  • Narrated by: Kevin Gallagher
  • Length: 1 hr and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 17

According to the Encyclopedia of American Crime, "Perhaps the most important criminal conference of the American underworld was held during three days in May 1929 in Atlantic City", during which "the overlords of American crime discussed their future plans" at an event that was "earthshaking in its effect on the development of American crime syndicates". It's a great tale starring Al Capone, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, and Nucky Johnson, who inspired Boardwalk Empire. This story has everything...with maybe one small exception. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The facts about a famous meeting.

  • By cosmitron on 05-06-18

Solid narration, but weak conclusions

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

“Mob Fest ‘29” is the premiere audiobook release for Bill Tonelli available on Audible. It is a rather short book at just short of one and a half hours (1:24min to be exact) and covers details on a specific event in time where well-known mobsters met in Atlantic City to discuss their criminal activities. The book is well narrated by Kevin Gallagher; who I have reviewed three of his other performances. Let me say up front, I’m not an expert in early American crime nor is it one of my favorite genres. However, I found many parts of the book quite interesting and informative that it was worth my listen time. For me, the book opened more questions than it solved, but I will say that it piqued my interest in both these men along with the people who covered them and the police force of the day. If you are one who likes quick novella non-fiction mobster books, you may want to have a listen to this one.

When you have a group of criminals wanting to control prostitution, gambling, money laundering, and other non-legal endeavors, how do you do it? You call a meeting with the others and assign different roles and responsibilities; of course. In other words, you get organized. While listening to this book, I found it interesting that it took organization for what we call organized crime to be as successful as it was. Without meeting and agreeing on a level of organization, these crime bosses would never have achieved the success they had. Yet, as this book shows, crime does not pay as most, if not all, of these men either ended up in prison or dead. Not very good odds for what was perceived as a money making “business” venture. Not only are we given a view into these individuals and their crimes, but we are also shown that it was only successful because of some crooked authorities. There are also very different accounts because of poor or misguided journalism of the day. The author quotes other sources stating that nearly 75+ percent of the material we have relating to the early mob is either false or incorrectly stated. One good reason for this, the author states, is that people printing such salacious news would not face labial or slander changes from the criminal underground. It is similar to drug dealers who get robbed, they will often not report this activity to the authorities for fear of their illegal activity being uncovered.

I liked that the author covered some of the background on these mobster thugs and showed based on others research that most were of low IQ and often had quite bad spelling. We learn that much of the foundation of the US mob back in the 20s was due to the laws around alcohol prohibition. These men saw an opportunity to service the community by providing this forbidden beverage and saw a profit in it. Instead of fighting one another for various territories, the different groups decided it was best to form an alliance and divvy up parts of the US and assign them to the many members. This was all done at what is now the infamous Atlantic City Conference meeting. It was like with pirates, these men also had a code which each abided too, yet as we all know, you cannot trust a thief.

The book along with the research felt to me to be more like a school paper that was narrated to feel like a book. There were no real chapters or outline as the book was very short. It was simply broken down into two sections long with an included preface and epilogue section. The writing style seemed a bit less professional at times due to a few crass words that felt out of place in a researched piece. Words such a “crap” or “whoring” instead of replacing these with more professional words made me question some of the author’s word choice. These words were not a part of quoted material, so could have easily been subsisted for more acceptable words. The book felt a bit unfinished. I did not feel it had a stated premise nor did it fully address the many questions it raised or even more those that come after listening to the book.

The book’s narration was well done and professionally produced by Kevin Gallagher. He has a pleasant voice to listen to and even in this non-fiction piece he added a few elements of character accents when material was being quoted. The audio lacked any noticeable negative artifacts and I thought it was well paced for listening too. As stated earlier, I have enjoyed a few of his other works and they all have this high-quality production.

For parents and younger readers, this book is a piece non-fiction, however it does trace and quote a few portions where profanity is used. The author does not add any himself but be aware that it is included in the book’s narration. The book also discusses at a high level some topics which may not be appropriate for younger readers such as alcohol, criminal activity, and prostitution. I would recommend this book be read only by more mature audiences.

In summary, although the narration was top quality, I felt the piece lacked too many quantities to be considered a complete work on the subject. I can only assume volumes of information have been released on the subject matter (the author states from interviewing others that most is incorrect), yet there were few conclusions to the author’s covering of such a ground-breaking meeting. I felt that I was left with too many unanswered questions to recommend this book to anyone that is not someone versed in the subject matter. Like a said earlier, this subject matter is not one of my core competencies, so it might come down to requiring a pre-understanding of the items covered to fully comprehend and enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Arrival

  • War for Earth, Book 1
  • By: J. Thorn, Zach Bohannon
  • Narrated by: Chelsea Stephens
  • Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 23

Paramedic Maya Talbot assumes her children to be safe at Grandma's. However, nothing could have prepared her for the chaos created when a strange obelisk rises from the ground and generates an impenetrable dome over the city. Riots, looting, and violence run rampant. The situation in Nashville deteriorates, and then they arrive, thrusting Maya into a desperate race to escape the dome and save her children from the dangers on the ground and from above. When darkness falls, the intergalactic visitors manifest our worst fears and threaten the future of humankind.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Sci-Fi Adventure.

  • By cosmitron on 04-28-18

Familiar story told in a unique way

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon did not hold back in their new contemporary science fiction thriller, “Arrival” which is the first book in the “War for Earth” trilogy. The audiobook edition is well narrated by Chelsea Stephens, who at times elevates a weaker storyline keeping the book feeling alive and interesting. The publisher’s summary states the book is a post-apocalyptic thriller, and I could not agree more. There are overtones of horror along with elements of science fiction making up this somewhat fractured story involving survival, the unknown, and wanting to be reunited with one’s children. If you are a fan of aliens who are intent on talking over our planet for their own use, enjoy stories with decent character backgrounds and some good descriptive writing, I think you will like what this book provides you in return. Are there points where the story is weaker than I would have liked? Yes, but I found the solid narration helps bring the story upwards and between the two components, the book is worth a coveted Audible credit; that is if you are one who does not mind spending a total of three credits to complete the trilogy.

The book opens on a rather emotional note along with providing the reader with some good background about the various main characters. This extra information helps to ground the reader, so one can better understand the events faced in their new situations. I enjoyed knowing about the characters and the reasons they acted the way they did throughout the story. I will say that I felt this family was overly dysfunctional, but that may be based more on my own upbringing. We are also presented with a few of the standard character tropes one finds in a story like this one. We have the scientist, the know-it-all, and the crazy (but often correct) conspiracy theorist, etc. Even though they are regulars in a story like this, a few twists made them feel unique and slightly different.

What happens when a strange obelisk emerges from the ground and a protective domed shield separates those who are inside from those outside. What drives the story forward is that one of the main characters is separated from her children. She is determination to get them back which find her on an emotional roller coaster wanting to be reunited with them. This passion and desire fuels her every move along the way. If I were to boil the book down to a single word, it would be struggle. From its start to the finish, you could feel the pain, struggle, and drive to find a way of getting through this impenetrable force and once again be in the arms of her children. Often it reminded me of the events that took place in New Orleans after a hurricane stranded many. We quickly observed just how fast humankind devolves when in survival mode, and it is no different in this story. One often has to throw out all they have learned and instead turn to various make-shift weapons and means to stay alive. Even more heart breaking being that the main character determined she was unable to save everyone, only some people would make it out of this mess alive and she was already doing all she could. The story takes us from space, to inside the dome, outside the done, and even under the city looking for a means of escape.

I listen and review many book, and I was quite surprised when I found that Chelsea Stephens is a rather new comer to the Audible narration scene. At the time of this review, she only has a total of two books to her name. Why the surprise? Well the audio was of professional quality, the narration of the characters was better than many other books I have listened too, etc. The use of inflection and accents for the different characters helped make them feel alive. I do not recall any audio artifacts while listening (no swallows, no page turns, no volume inconsistencies), simply clean and clear narration. I look forward to new books by this narrator in the future.

For Parents and younger readers, this book does contain some light romance and topics covering sexual matters. The book also has a light use of profanity based on what one would expect from the genre, however it does get heavier later in the story. As one would have expected, there are quite a few scenes containing rather graphic violence that may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

In summary, this is an action-packed and suspenseful survival story involving aliens. If you are one who likes books such as “War of the Worlds”, I recommend you pick it up and give it a listen. Just remember this is a trilogy, so you will need to purchase all three books to find out what happens. As expected, this book does leave many cliff-hangers for those wanting to jump right into the second book.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

  • Waypoint

  • A Game of Drones
  • By: C. F. WALLER
  • Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 49

Stacy’s life is in free fall. She finds herself clutching a handgun, searching for a sign that tomorrow will be any better than today. Her cell phone rings, bringing an offer that may postpone her soul searching. The discovery of an airplane graveyard containing a dozen commercial airliners is shocking. When the salvage camera reveals them to be virtually undamaged under in the Indian Ocean, theories abound. Who put them there? How are they still in one piece? What reason could there be? Stacy is about to learn the answers to those questions, as well things she’d prefer to forget.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A book of action, adventure, mystery, and Tech...

  • By Quella on 05-02-18

A book of action, adventure, mystery, and Tech...

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

Reviewed: 05-02-18

“Waypoint: Game of Drones” is a captivating, entertaining, and gripping techno-thriller authored by C. F. Waller; who is known for a few of his other books such as “The Calling Tree” and “Tourists of the Apocalypse”. The audiobook edition is well narrated by J. Scott Bennett who is no stranger to Audible with over 130 books voiced at the time of this review. It is a rather long book consisting of nearly six-hundred pages, or twelve hours of audio, but the book did not feel or seem long when reading and listening to it. If you are a person who likes to be taken around the globe on adventures, enjoys technology and computers, along with a game of Hunt the Wampus, I recommend you pick up this book and give it a try. It contains action, adventure, mystery, and did I mention technology?

The story opens in a rather suspenseful and mysterious way. It quickly engulfs the reader in the rather broken and dark world of one of our main characters. We are given some insight into a few other mysteries which become relevant as the book progresses. In many ways, it is a hard book to review without giving away quite a few of the book’s surprises. Needless to say, this dissimilar set of characters must join forces to defeat their one true enemy. Who does not like a story that takes you from the bottom of the ocean to the tops of the clouds and everywhere in between? We are presented with strong AI (Artificial Intelligence), autonomous drones, conspiratorial countries, and characters who are often broken and in need of one another.

The story overall is believable and shows how vulnerable our wired and dependent on technology our society can be. The book was a bit over-the-top at times, but we are shown how friendships are forged, lost, and let go throughout the story. There are times of deep emotional aspects along with mindless points of action. The characters felt like they had depth and body to them; something that is often lost in many modern books of the genre. Characters were presented as being fragile and did not seem invincible like super heroes making me wonder if they would survive various incidents. The book’s technology was well researched and implemented. Some of the technology was more futuristic then what we have today, which is not a bad thing. It is a piece of fiction and not required to fit within our technological understanding of our present day.

A few things that I would call out, which are not major stumbling blocks to the book overall, would be some of the grammar and spelling issues I came across mostly in my reading of the book, I felt the audiobook edition made most of these disappear. Again, nothing that would prevent me from enjoying the book, but something that could easily have been addressed by an editor or others prior to going to print, once again the audiobook edition did contain a few updates from the pre-release copy I was earlier provided. Even though the book followed a specific path, I felt a few of the more open plotlines were not fully addressed once the book completed. I would have liked to have had a longer epilogue closing out some of the remaining mysteries. But once again, this is only a suggestion as I enjoyed the book’s ending and that it was provided as a stand-along novel not requiring a sequel, even though the story could continue into a future book; maybe if we ask the author nicely.

Let me turn briefly to the book’s narration by J. Scott Bennett. Mr. Bennett is a veteran in the audiobook narration space and I have enjoyed and reviewed a few other books, one of my favorites was “Titanic: Voyage of Death: The Final 48 Hours”. His narration is smooth, clear and well-paced. He provides inflection and emotion to the many different characters. Even the female characters are well voiced and much more enjoyable as they are not voiced in a falsetto tone. The audio is professionally produced with no noticeable audio artifacts. I feel like when he reads a book it is much the same way I myself read books, so I will need to pick up a few other books by him in the future when my queue of books is reduced a bit.

In summary, this book held my attention and drew me in enough that I wanted to read and listen to its end. There were simply too many unknows or mysteries that I wanted to resolve that a few of the book’s bruises pointed out earlier were moot. For me, that is a sign of a good solid story and skilled author. There were a few bumps along the way with grammar and spelling, but I can usually overcome or forgive them when the story takes me on a journey like this one did. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys book in the technology thrillers genre.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy book at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Deep Shadow

  • Caribbean Dive Adventure, Volume 1
  • By: Nick Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Nick Sullivan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101

Scuba divers travel from all over the world to visit the little island of Bonaire, with its crystal clear waters and a host of beautiful marine life. After three years in the “Diver's Paradise”, divemaster Boone Fischer thought he’d seen it all, but on a routine afternoon dive, he spots something that will turn his tranquil life upside down. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Diving, Drugs, and Deep Shadows

  • By Ray Johnson on 05-01-18

A thrilling and action packed ride

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

Reviewed: 05-01-18

“Deep Shadow” is the latest action-packed suspense adventure novel, both expertly written and narrated, by Nick Sullivan; also, the famed author of “Zombie Bigfoot” which I also reviewed. If you are someone who enjoys a good Tom Clancy story, 24 the TV series, or deep-water adventure like that found in both The Sphere or The Abyss movies, I really think you will be able to sink your teeth deep into this book. The story takes the listener on a journey not only to many of the most beautiful Caribbean islands, but also into the depths of the ocean which are a very different and unforgiving environment. If you are looking for an exceptionally well written and narrated book of adventure, pirates, terrorists, corrupt governments and drug runners, you will be happy when you dive (pun intended) into Deep Shadow.

I enjoyed that the author not only took me to one of the most stunning places in the North Western hemisphere, but he also added a level of action and intrigue reminiscent of an Indiana Jones story. What happens when an out of work Russian sub designer is approached by a successful drug cartel to build them a mini-sub needed to aide them in their distribution? This alone would make for a great story, but Deep Shadow is so much more. Add to this the people hunting the drug runners and a terrorist plot to bring fear and death to a large number of people; something needs to be done to stop them both. Here is where our band of explorers gets intertwined in all the events, and this is where the book really begins to shine.

The author paints this exciting world with big broad colorful strokes, yet one can also see the subtle and fine detail left by his inclusion of tidbits of information filling in and outlining the full painting. Not only are we given this detail of the world topside, but we are also privy to the undersea world and even to the harsh realities of riding in a mini-sub. The author uses chapter breaks to switch between the various groups of people, so the listener is able to see the activities of the searchers, drug dealers, and terrorists. I enjoy when book provide such well-defined story breaks. The main characters in the book all had depth, breadth, and unique personalities. There were characters I loved, some I liked, and others I hated which means the author brought them to life vividly. Instead of giving me a world made of cardboard, I’m presented with well thought out and developed world and characters.

Even though the book is mainly action-based, the author includes elements that make it feel real. We are given views into some quite scary and emotional scenes and even a few glimpses of romance. Even with all the very serious and powerfully emotional aspects, the author is able to weave in bits and pieces of humor along the way. Similar to the scene from Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom when he refers to voltage being “220 or 221 volts, whatever it takes”, the author has his “AK whatever” scene when one of the characters is referring to an assault rifle; AK-47. I also like the jab where one of the characters said, “boys and their toys”. There is a good balance of emotion but don’t get me wrong, this is primarily an action novel.

As with Zombie Bigfoot, I think Mr. Sullivan did a wonderful job in both strong writing and professional narration. I also thought the afterward chapter, found at the end of the book, to be informative and welcomed once the story was finished. For me, I find the reasoning and understanding of why a book was placed in a given location or based on actual people quite fascinating. It really helps me better understand the author’s intent and, in some ways, it feels like the author is opening himself up and leaving himself a bit vulnerable. The book’s detailed use of technology, diving, and the drug trade makes me believe that the author spent a period of time researching prior to writing the book. We learn about regulators, air mixes, active and passive sonar, sub steering controls, along with so much more, and at no time did I feel the author used technical terms to simply sound technical. I almost feel like wanting to go and get my diving certificate after listening.

Again, like with his Zombie Bigfoot work, the audiobook’s narration was professionally done. I like Mr. Sullivan’s smooth and rich voice, no matter the character he is narrating. Not only was he able to voice female characters quite well, but he was able to also give one a believable UK accent. It was fun to hear words common to a UK speaker also used by this character. The recording quality, I was provided with a pre-release copy, was better than many of the audio book I have reviewed in the past. The recording was clean of any audio artifacts and the narration flowed at a good rate. One can tell the years of experience Mr. Sullivan bring to his narration.

For parents and younger readers, the book’s subject matter dealing with drugs, terrorists, along with some light romance may suggest it be targeted at a mature audience. There was one innuendo I can recall and a few references to more indirect sexual topics. The book contains some profanity; however, the author does not use it in excessively nor was it a surprise when I heard some based on the books plot. Lastly, the book involves kidnapping and some quite graphic scenes of violence.

In summary, Deep Shadow is a fulfilling action-packed thriller with depth and dimension. It was quite an exciting ride and I look forward to future work from Mr. Sullivan. If you enjoy action movies or TV shows, I recommend you put them down and instead pick up Deep Shadow and give it a listen.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Edge of the Stars: A Techno-Thriller Science Fiction Novel

  • The Edge, Book 2
  • By: Andria Stone
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Barta
  • Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Mars invites scientists to participate in terraforming experiments which brings the MAVREK team all the way from Terra. But minutes after landing on the space station, Dr. Mark Warren is accused of murder. The warm welcome continues with an attack on his spaceship, then three Terrans are found dead, and killer cyborgs are spotted. Authorities immediately conduct a massive hunt throughout Martian space and terrible new enemies surface with a direct link to Warren's old nemesis. On the planet, the same fugitives hunting Warren also threaten the downfall of Mars itself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Action, Action, and Development

  • By Daniel Abrams on 04-06-18

Continues the action

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

Reviewed: 04-17-18

“Edge of the Stars” is book two of “The Edge” series. This book is a fast-paced romantic space-based thriller with many plot twists and turns keeping the listener engaged at all times. It has nearly all the elements one can ask for in a science fiction book including: cyborgs, distant colonies, clandestine military, intense action sequences, futuristic medical technology, and much more. The book is written by Andria Stone and the audiobook edition is well narrated by Nicholas Barta. The story picks up close to where the first one left off. This book contains many of the same characters from the first in the series but, there are a few new and more sinister characters found in this one. If you enjoyed the first book of this series, I think you will enjoy the second even though it is less a technology thriller than a suspense novel.

I was quite pleased the author included a prologue chapter allowing the listener the ability to get caught up with the events and activities that concluded from the first book. There are times that the next book in a series is not published for months or years after the first, so it is always nice to have a short chapter getting one caught up. This book takes place about six months after the first and the events occur mostly on mars. For me, I found the second book in the series to be less technology focused as it was concentrated on being a suspense thriller. I would have preferred more technology woven into the story as it was a critical component of the first book in the series, yet this one seemed to be more action and suspense then techno-thriller. There are still aspects of cloning along with medical technology using nanites, but I would have enjoyed having more technology based on the colony, weapons, etc.; yet it seemed to be lacking in this book.

I also enjoyed the author’s use of various small events that seems to run the length of the story such as one character’s drive to complete the task in hopes of receiving a tattoo when all was accomplished. There were also a few other instances where characters had well defined personalities that remained consistent throughout the story; I like this aspect of consistent characters along with their actions. I found it refreshing that both book one and book two stories were mainly completed without leaving many open-ended aspects; each book could be read as stand-alone story, yet you get much more when read them as a series. I enjoyed most of the character’s dialogue between each other, but I would have liked to have had less bantering amongst them. For their level of education and expertise, it seemed at times out of place or forced when they interacted this way or fluently used foul language. I enjoy authors who can paint a picture for me, but not too detailed that it takes away from my own imagination. In some way, I thought the author focused too much attention on descriptive detail such as clothing and less on the more technical aspects. Not a bad things, but more a preference in my part.

Mr. Barta did a decent job with the book’s audio narration. Being a new comer in the narration space with eight books (at the time of this review) on Audible, I felt he did a good job overall. There were a few slight inconsistencies with volume in spots, but these were minor. I also felt that Mr. Barta at times put dramatic emphasis in places where it just did not seem to fit. Overall, the recoding was professionally done and I’m sure his reading will become better as he grows in experience.

For parents or younger listeners, be aware that this book does contain a fair amount of vulgar language along with some mature subject matter. There are discussion involving sex or sexual topics which may not be appropriate for younger listeners. If this type of content is offensive to you, I would recommend locating a different series to listen too.

In summary, the book is a good book, but I enjoyed the first one more due to its emphasis on technology. Even though this book seems to focus more on character development, it still contains a fair amount of action and suspense. If you enjoyed the first book, I would recommend you pick up a copy of the second. If you have not yet listened to the first, I recommend you pick up that one and enjoy a new audiobook series.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.