LISTENER

Quella

  • 183
  • reviews
  • 220
  • helpful votes
  • 221
  • ratings
  • Cyber Wars

  • Hacks That Shocked the Business World
  • By: Charles Arthur
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14

Cyber Wars gives you the dramatic inside stories of some of the world's biggest cyber attacks. These are the game-changing hacks that make organisations around the world tremble and leaders stop and consider just how safe they really are. Charles Arthur provides a gripping account of why each hack happened, what techniques were used, what the consequences were and how they could have been prevented. Cyber attacks are some of the most frightening threats currently facing business leaders, and this book provides a deep insight into understanding how they work.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • For the security professional and average joe

  • By Quella on 01-11-19

For the security professional and average joe

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

Reviewed: 01-11-19

“Cyber Wars” subtitled “Hacks That Shocked the Business World” is the second book written by Charles Arthur available on Audible in audiobook format. His previous work titled “Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the Battle for the Internet” appears to have been well received and reviewed; I may have to give that one a listen as well. The Audiobook edition of this book is well narrated by Joe Jameson who has over a hundred books currently narrated on audible at the time of this review. Let me start by saying that I have been in the information security field for over thirty years and I continue to fight the cat and mouse game alongside other when it comes to attackers vs. defenders. Most of the attacks covered in this book were front and center not only in the security community but on the front cover of most newspapers as well. Even if you are not a professional having a deep understanding of computer security, I think you will be fascinated by the research uncovered in this book. It still amazes me when I see just what dedicated and driven people will do when they put their minds to it. The author does a decent job of breaking down some of the technology for novices, but he also does not lose the seasoned professional. It is a fine line to walk, and this book did an exceptional job of permitting both types to enjoy it equally.

Overall the book felt well researched and presented in the clear manner. Each of the various attacks were outlined and then the author provides a deeper dive in to what happened. Much of the books research appears to have come from the author interviewing or conversing with people who were in the know for a given attack; either ex-workers, people in the security field, etc. For me, I was not as much a fan of the lessons learned section at the end of each chapter. However, some reading this book might gain from this information and hopefully think about or improve their security posture because of it. I just felt that security advice is often easier when we look back and analyze what could have been done to prevent an attack. Reviewing an attack and learning from what went wrong is a major way of preventing future attacks from being successful, yet the details the author provided were often high-level and not specific to a given organization.

As much as the author tried to make the book work for security enthusiasts and lay people alike, there were a few places that I felt he could have provided more detail to the less experienced. Maybe a more information on what an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is and how many have names with specific animals assigned to them (bear, panda, dragon, etc.). A bit more time spent on the benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). I felt overall, he did a good job of discussing what a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is and why they can be so devastating to a company or person who depends on the Internet for a living. It also seemed that the author breezed over the importance of data brokers when it comes to protecting one’s information; think credit bureaus. More and more we are seeing the release of information from these data collection agencies and often there is no ramifications when it happens; the UKs GDPR is a positive direction here.

A few other areas where I thought the author did a good job was around the recent rise in tech support and bank phone scams. Ever had the “IRS” call you saying you owe them money and you have to pay them back using Google’s Play cards? He also touched on the critical nature of Internet of Things (IoT) and the usual tradeoffs between security and ez-of-use. Who or what is required to patch a device that is vulnerable to attack, and if such a device is used in an attack who is responsible? All very difficult questions to ask that will become even more important as this area of connectivity grows, and more lives are at risk. There was also a small chapter at the end of the book where the author covers future attacks. Here is not only talks about medical and IoT systems, but the idea of vulnerable machine learning systems. What if someone is able to teach an autonomous vehicle that a stop sign is really a go symbol. Or, what if humans are ignored from the equation and simply seen as just part of the pavement. These and many more attacks mentioned in this portion of the book will become the next TJ Maxx or Sony Entertainment.

The book’s audio narration was good. It is often difficult determining the performance quality based on one’s reading of a non-fiction book. We did not have multiple characters needing to be voiced, it was a simple reading of the book itself. Mr. Jameson did a good job of performing the piece and I do not recall any audio artifacts (page turns, swallows, background noise) while listening. The reading was well paced, and the volume levels were consistent. I do not recall listening to other works by this narrator previously, yet the book felt like it was performed by a professional.

Parents and younger readers, I do not have it in my notes, however I believe there were a few places when the author quotes others containing vulgar language. Apart from the infrequent use of profanity, the book could be enjoyed by younger audiences who are interested in the cyber security field.

In summary, if you are looking for a book that uncovers many of the security issues the plagued the early days of the internet and had a great impact on the companies effected, you have found it here in Cyber Wars. Even today, as attacks become more sophisticated, the means of defending them will be even more difficult. The book is not a Cyber Wars for Dummies, yet it is approachable and enjoyable by both those in the industry and not. The book gets a recommendation from me.

  • Living Proof

  • By: Peter J. Thompson
  • Narrated by: Gary Tiedemann
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

In a top-secret complex surrounded by miles of Texas scrubland, the United States military is working on a new form of germ warfare. Taken from homeless shelters and prisons, the subjects, discarded men and women of America, serve their country as unwilling lab rats. Ramon Willis didn’t commit the murder that put him on death row. But he’s guilty of something worse - surviving the virus and escaping his captors. Knowing he can’t take on the corrupt system alone, there’s only one person he can turn to - Lena Dryer, the reporter who covered his case and watched him die.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Worthwhile debut stand alone...

  • By shelley on 12-31-18

A premiere thriller that stands with the others

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

Reviewed: 12-28-18

If you are a fan of TV shows in the like “24” or if you are a person who enjoys suspense thrillers, I suggest you give “Living Proof” by Peter J. Thompson a listen. The book is energetic, well-paced, and fast-moving. It is what one might expect from a thriller story. The audiobook’s narration is performed by Gary Tiedemann; who I have enjoyed listening too through many other audiobooks over the years. His voice seems to fit whatever the book he is voicing like a glove. One of the things I enjoyed about this audiobook is that it is a stand-alone story, not a serial like many others available today. I am not saying that the book does not leaves a few open ends making way for a future sequel. What could go wrong when you have corrupted penal personal, clandestine military bases, covert experiments and conspiracies around every corner? This sums up what you will find in this book. The United States military begins an experiment with deadly viruses to control more than just an enemy. If this sounds like something that you would enjoy, I recommend you pick up the book and give it a listen. For the author’s premiere work, I think he accomplishes his task quite well. Are there a few bumps and bruises along the way? Yes, but many can be forgiven if you are looking for an enjoyable story.

As the book’s summary says, there is a secret government agency and a few rogue agents who are developing a custom virus that will infect and kill large numbers of people once they are infected. Not only a virus is required, but an antidote as well. This secret agency needs human subjects to perform their testing on, and where better than to get them from people on death row who are going to die anyways. To supplement their needs, they also take to the streets offering food and shelter to the homeless. Prisoners are brought nearly to death from the normal concoction of drugs during the process of terminating the life of a sentenced criminal. Once these people are pronounced dead by the prison doctor, who is in on the game, they are whisked away to this facility to be used as test subjects; or rabbits as some call them. Things begin to unravel when one of the test subjects escapes and the hunt to return him to the facility or kill him to keep their activity a secret begins. There are a few well-known stereotypes one finds in books of this genre such as the nosey reporter, hardline military, and scared scientists just doing their jobs. However, the book adds life, purpose, and direction to its characters making the story quite enjoyable overall.

The author weaves a believable tale that could be taking place right now without our knowledge. There are a few places where one needs to suspend belief, but much of the book felt like I was watching a TV show or movie. I can recall the process where someone breaks a strong government encryption cypher in a matter of hours where in reality it would have taken hundreds or thousands of years to truly accomplish the task. I understand this is a piece of fiction and like with TV and movies much of the slow boring stuff has to either be removed or sped up for the general population. For me, I would have liked to have had a bit more action and things being smashed during the story line than what the author included. But, as thriller are not my strongest genre, I can say there was a good amount of suspense and mystery keeping me engaged the whole way though. In some ways, the story felt more like Psycho where it was less about the action and visual stimulus as it was engaging one’s brain working out all the various elements as they come together.

The book’s narration by Mr. Tiedemann was what I have come to expect. It was professionally produced, had no audio artifacts (only a few compression noises during times of silence), and his ability to voice different characters was spot on. Volumes were consistent and I do not recall any other background noises such as page turns or swallows. The narrator did a good job of voicing both male and female characters along with giving them distinct personalities. With over one-hundred and twenty-five book already narrated by Mr. Tiedemann, this is one more that I can say was done with high standards.

For parents and younger readers, the book contains a fair amount of vulgar language, references to mature subject matter such as rape, sex, and other material I would think inappropriate for younger readers. The book also contains some quite graphic violence. There is one scene where two people engage in sexual activity which is quite descriptive. If you find this type of content offensive, I would recommend you find a different book to enjoy.

In summary, for the authors first work, I found it compelling and likable. The main characters felt real and that they each had a purpose. There was a fair amount of tension not only around the hunt but also if there would be some romantic attraction between two of the characters. The narration enhanced the story and was on par with other works by Mr. Tiedemann. If you enjoy mental thrillers where you are always trying to figure out how our main character is going to escape, I recommend you give “Living Proof” a listen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Broad Band

  • The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
  • By: Claire L. Evans
  • Narrated by: Claire L. Evans
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76

Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. VICE reporter and YACHT lead singer Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the Internet what it is today. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can't imagine life without.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring

  • By Jean on 03-29-18

A decent primer of women in computer history

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

Reviewed: 12-28-18

If you were like me, you grew up in a very wonderful and exciting world of computers and innovation. It was the golden age when people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were building computers in their garages before Apple became a trillion-dollar brand. Even before this, we had computers that filled entire rooms, used vacuum tubes and punch cards for programming and they often broke down after only a few minutes of operation. These early computers were used by the government mostly to compute weapons trajectories during the war. Often, we remember or have read in history books of the men who were paramount in making computers what they are today. But, have ever wondered what role, if any, women played in this information revolution? If so, “Broad Band” which is subtitled “The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet” may be just the book you are looking for. The book covers a swath of computing history from the time of Babbage to the mid-90s when the Internet really began to take off. The book is both written and narrated by Claire L. Evans and she packs a bunch of information into just over nine hours of audio. Although it is not a deep historic dive, the book does a good job of giving the listener a primer where they can do additional research if they desire.

Many of the people the author covers in this book may sound like familiar names to those growing up during this period, but we often cannot connect their roles or efforts to a given technology or innovation. These spots of prominence were often reserved in historic records for their male counterparts. In this book, the author does a good job of showing the many women who impacted the industry. People like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hooper, Elizabeth Feinler and Stacy Horn to name a few. The author does a fine job of showing how the efforts of these women changed history and made the Internet what it is today. What would I have liked to see included in this book? First off, I would have like to have had a deeper dive into the efforts of the female staff working on the bombe computer system used to crack the German Enigma cypher. The author did a better job covering the Manhattan project and the role of women, but I would have enjoyed more depth and detail as this was a very pivotal time in history. A little less on the female specific chat groups and forms, yet I did like her focus on the role of early day BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) which were pre-Internet communication systems. I liked the detailed section around networking standards (RFCs) and the role women had in creating and maintaining WHOIS, Hypertext, and the ability to link to other files or locations; which we all take for granted today. Each of these were revolutionary and innovative and women had a key role in their development.

I will say that at times, the book’s underlying agenda is pealed back and revealed. It is not always in your face, but this is very clearly seen in the last chapter where the author speaks of cyber feminist. I know the book is about the role of women in the industry, but at times I felt that the author had to dig deep to find a gem she could use in this book. I grew up during this golden age and I can admit that men were the ones we often read about in books and magazines when females often had a superior role in some way. I was looking for something that would educate me without feeling that I needed to be converted to a given worldview. Teach and educate me but let the facts of history speck for themselves. In full disclosure, I may see things quite differently if I were a female writing this review.

The book’s narration was performed by the author herself. In most cases, I do not think an author is a good fit to read their own work; and I can say this is the case with this book as well. I would have liked to have had a more experienced author narrate the book. At times I felt emphasis was placed at points it was not necessary or clearly pressed the author’s agenda where she felt a point needed to be made. This is not to say that the book’s narration was bad; it was not. Overall it was professionally produced, and the audio quality was good. It was more that the author seemed too close to her material to read it in a way that felt natural.

For parents and younger readers, note that the book does contain some subject matter that may not be appropriate for younger readers. There are places where vulgar language is used; mostly when quoting others. There are also a few topics which discuss or are associated with sex or sexuality. If any of this is offensive to you, I would recommend you skip this one.

In summary, the audiobook did a decent job of showing where, how, and why women were instrumental to building and maintaining computers and the Internet. I would have liked to have had more history and even how many of these females functioned alongside their male counterparts to achieve success. It is a good primer and for someone who wants to study the subject in more depth, the author provides some good steeping stones to start form. To me, it did not feel it was as much a historic piece, but a work that was written towards a specific agenda. Would I read it again? Was it worth my time? Yes, and yes. It was a well thought out work and apart for a few areas covered, I enjoyed it very much.

  • Hello World

  • Being Human in the Age of Algorithms
  • By: Hannah Fry
  • Narrated by: Hannah Fry
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Hello World takes us on a tour through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us on a daily basis. Mathematician Hannah Fry reveals their inner workings, showing us how algorithms are written and implemented, and demonstrates the ways in which human bias can literally be written into the code. By weaving in relatable, real world stories with accessible explanations of the underlying mathematics that power algorithms, Hello World helps us to determine their power, expose their limitations, and examine whether they really are improvements.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Probably one of the Best books written on this

  • By Samer Chidiac on 11-24-18

You will think twice about easily giving up data

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

Reviewed: 12-20-18

If you are looking for a book that will scare you in a similar way to the many who refused to go swimming after watching the movie Jaws, “Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms” by Hannah Fry is the book you will want to pick up and give it a listen. No, the book is not a piece of horror fiction like that of Steve King. Instead it details a number of actual real-world examples of how computer and mathematical algorithms guide nearly every one of our daily actions. The book is not only well laid out, concise, and eye opening, the narration is skillfully performed by Dr. Fry herself. I’m not usually a fan of an author narrating their own work, but in this case her accent, pace, and inflection really brought the material to life in audio format. As the subtitle suggests, the book covers how simply being a human today makes you one who is continuously tracked, lead, and whose information is often sold to the highest bidder all collected from various algorithms. Hannah Fry is no stranger to mathematical algorithms, she is a well-known British mathematician who can often be found on the Numberphile’s YouTube channel and she has also presented a few TED talks.

The author does an exceptional job of educating the listener on both the good and bad aspects of algorithms. Much like any tool, algorithms can be used for their intended purpose, but many algorithms are used in ethical or evil ways. Early on she defines what an algorithm is and why they are important. Next, she provides some high-level examples of a few very useful algorithms and a few not so useful ones. No book covering such as subject matter would leave out the importance of machine learning and the author gives some details on why this type of algorithm is important along with how it differs from procedural algorithms. What I really liked was that she did not stick to only examples that were computer or math based, but we are given a view into how most business sectors today leverage algorithms in one way or another. Sometimes to drive sales, sometimes to guide decisions, and sometimes to get ahead of their competition. The book is not intended to be a doom and gloom piece, yet it truly is a wakeup call for most. I also liked that the book was targeted at the average user, you do not have to understand computers, mathematical formulas or science to enjoy the book. It is written a way that nearly anyone would be able to listen and understand her points.

Dr. Fry spends some time diving into data brokers. She explains why they exist, how they survive, and just how powerful they are when it comes to knowing who you are. Imagine one company aggregating all the data from your computer (browser history, searches, social posts) and blend this information with your credit card purchases, loyalty cards, photos, and phone/GPS data. Such a company may just know more about you then you know about yourself. Many say that Google alone by the data collected about your search history knowns more about you than your closest family members. These data broker companies slurp up every bit of data you leave behind and profit by selling it to people wanting to target very specific people. What is even more concerning is that these data brokers are often not bound to regulatory bodies, so what they collect and how they use this information is like the wild west and what is even more worrisome is that there is not much one can do to limit or stop it. We are beginning to see more regulations in both Europe (GDPR) and the United States to require such companies to notify you of how such collected data will be used. As with most people who use “free” services today, they do not take the time or effort to read the End User License Agreements (EULA) which often state that information will be shared with data broker companies. As Dr. Fry points out, we should not be surprised that companies sell this information especially for free services like Facebook and Gmail as they need to profit someway. As the saying goes, “If you do not pay for a product, you are the product.” And after listening to this book, you will wonder what value you should be placing on such important details. Much of the trading between companies and brokers is usually for misuse and abuse then for your or my good. When it comes to data brokers, think of all the crumbs one leaves behind from all the activities in our lives and imagine a large vacuum cleaner coming behind us to collect and assemble them into the loaf which they came. Again, very scary!

I did want to say that the book itself does not cover anything new or ground shattering, but it is a part of our lives we often ignore or are ignorant to, and I can say that the author does a great job of waking up the listener to better understand how these algorithms affect and impact our lives ever day. She educates us on what is often referred to as the “creepy line”. It is an artificial line which targeted marketing company may cross at times and when they do, it is perceived as being more creeping then good. As the author says, both sales and marketing desire it to get as close to the creepy line as possible without actually crossing it, and that really is a fine line as most have a different buffer zone. Not only is the information we drop and collect used for marketing, but as the author points out, it can also be used to sway us one way or another via techniques call micro-manipulation. It is a way of influencing and emotionally leveraging data they have collects and use it against us (overtly) to lead us to a conclusion or decision which they desire. As she says in the book, “Data is the new gold” and it will be a standard we will all be measured by in the coming years. What began with supermarket loyalty cards for some has grown into a large government control data profile on the population. It sounds Orwellian in many ways but do some research on the Chinese Sesame Credit systems and you will quickly find out how a volunteer system will become mandatory in due time.

Dr. Fry covers situations where algorithms are used in shopping to get you to buy one more item, judicial for sentencing, automotive when we talk about autonomous cars, healthcare for automating the reading of test results, to our money systems (cash, credit, and stocks). As the book unfolds, you quickly see how these algorithms, directly or indirectly, impact one’s life. In the United States, just think of the importance and focus on having a “good credit score” when looking at getting a loan or buying a house. Now apply that same logic (like in China) which one’s ability to receive government services, timely healthcare, etc. are all based on one’s profile. It is not about being worried by the things one does online, but all the information one is willing to give up saving a little on some grocery item. One area where the author spends some time is the issue with most algorithms being either black or white. There is little to no grey areas (as with human judgement or compassion). Also, algorithms are only as good as the people who developed and coded them. There is no such thing as a perfect algorithm. We have issues on two extremes called false negatives and false positives. These both need to be adjusted to cause the least amount of issues within a given system. For example, take breast cancer screening. An algorithm that is set to limit false negatives (telling people they do not have cancer when they do) increases the chance of more false positives (telling a person they have cancer when they do not.) Neither outcome is good, and any algorithm has to take such things in to consideration. She also covers that there is no such thing as a non-bias algorithm. They are only as good as the information being feed in to them. For example, if you feed criminal convection data into a database seeking people that may be considered high-risk, such an algorithm will be bias towards males who are of color from females that are Caucasian. That is only because of the bias of the data feed in I the system.

One of the more interesting section for me was her dive into algorithms being used to be creative. Can a computer compose music, write a book, or create art. Many will say yes, and a few will say no. Again, this all comes down to the information fed into the algorithm and what makes something like this creative. A piece of music or poetry and follow specific rules assigned to them but is it really art or simply regurgitating data based on the rule feed into it. I can play a musical piece precisely following the rule of music, yet creativity often comes from how a piece is interpreted and played by the individual. I can speed up notes, lengthen their durations, and give it life and body. Can an algorithm accomplish the same thing? I think it is still being debated. Lastly, the book has a really good summary chapter where the author closes out and covers at a high-level why algorithms matter and why we should care. It was very well done.

I can say that this is the first audiobook I have listened too that was narrated by Dr. Fry, and I can say that if she ever wants to give up her day job, she could become a full-time audiobook narrator. Her voice is pleasant to listen too, and a wonderful accent that is not difficult to comprehend, and her pacing of the book was just right. I do not recall any issues with the audio itself, no pops, volume issues, or page turns. The piece was very professionally produced.

For parents and younger readers, there were a few places that vulgar language was used in the book. As I recall, it was only used when quoting a source or individual. There are very few places I remember words being used, and I believe the subject matter is important for people to understand. For this reason, I would still recommend it but be aware that there are a few places such language is used.

In summary, I know this has been a rather long review so I will not spend too much time on a summary section. If you want to learn more about algorithms and not get lost in the weeds of maths or science, you will find this book very approachable, entertaining, and educating. The examples she gives are relevant to not only today but will greatly impact future generations if this data collection via algorithms is left unchecked. It is well worth the credit and I look forward to future pieces by her.

  • You're Going to Mars!

  • By: Rob Dircks
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 598
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 563
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 562

Living and slaving in Fill City One, you get used to the smell. We call it the Everpresent Stink. But every once in a while, on a spring day with a breeze, it clears away enough to remind us that there is something more out there. Most Fillers' wildest dreams would be just to get past the walls and live in the mainland. But my dream? It’s a little bigger. I’m going to Mars.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Reviewers Choice Award, its that good

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 11-13-18

Mr. Dircks Once again hits a homerun!

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

Reviewed: 12-15-18

I have been a fan of Mr. Dircks’ works from his premiere release “The Wrong Unit”, to his “Where the Hell is Tesla” series, along with many of his short stories released by his publishing company Goldfinch Publishing. If you have not visited his site or signed up for the free shorts, I highly recommend you do as these often fill that science fiction gap when you need it. It might come as no surprise that this award-winning author has hit yet another home run with his latest work entitled, “You’re going to Mars!”. Although I have very much enjoyed Mr. Dircks’ narration of his previous works, this book does not follow that tradition and is instead skillfully and outstandingly narrated by Khristine Hvam. She is no stranger to the audiobook scene with over two-hundred and fifty books narrated on Audible at the time of this review. As only Mr. Dircks can do, this story is a well-crafted mash up of humor, loss, suspense, survival, and even love told in a way that is both engaging and entertaining. If you have listened and enjoyed any of the author’s previous titles, picking up this book is not optional; but a must. If you have never listened to any of his works, shame on you! This is a great book to begin a delve into the many colorful science fiction worlds created by Mr. Dircks. What am I trying to say? Simple, go get the audiobook and give it a listen, it really is that good and well worth your hard-earned credit.

Take a futuristic world where the real money is still found in those who control the planet’s waste and trash; much like our world today. In this dystopian realm we have people that must work to survive, and most are indentured servants from generations past. Being raised in this environment means that one has a limited understanding of things taking place on the outside. Not only do you have your standard growing up struggles, but a mother who left years ago. The family is raised by a father, sisters and a 97-year old (nanna) grandmother who makes things happen. I know that was always the case in my family. If you wanted something, go ask nanna. Even in such a harsh environment, our main character has dreams and aspirations of one day going to Mars. An impossible and unachievable goal in her current circumstance. By shear happenstance our main character has her biggest dream almost in her grasp. Does she get to Mars? Well, you will have to read the book to find out.

So, what is the book really like? The best way I can describe it is a combination of “Charlie and the Chocolate factory”, a bit of “Mad Max”, and a fair amount of reality TV; much in the way of Survivor, Big Brother, etc. We have a dysfunctional family who interacts with one another often via numerous pokes, jabs, zings, and disses, yet they have to come together as one to accomplish their goals. Not only the family, but we see a large number of people willing to sacrifice and suffer to fulfill the dreams of our main character. We are given a view into an evil corporation trying to control everyone and everything, yet has a hard time suppressing the activities of a rather wealthy and eccentric TV producer. It sounds like a very odd mash up, but Mr. Dircks makes it work and I enjoyed it all the way through. At times it is very slap-stick and light-hearted, but there are time of deep emotion, seriousness, and pain. The author adds elements of suspense and surprise and even some whodunit mystery with a few of the contestant members. I can say this is a story that only Mr. Dircks could pull off and it is very enjoyable. The writing is detailed and entertaining like many of the author’s other material. The twists and turns he weaves into the story are subtle and clever. The scenes are vivid and detailed.

I like his ability to make fun of pop culture and reality TV while not making them the center of the story. We see all the crazy and salacious activities people will do to get more views, likes, or publicity on the show. Often at the detriment of their lives and morals. The show in the story reminded me a little of Fear Factor where the contestants needed to eat or perform an unnerving stunt to win. Often such activities led to people vomiting all over; and in this book it is not very different. Events like these often makes for ‘good’ TV, but we see that our main character has a laser focus on her goal of one day getting to Mars. She is not one to play the game unfairly but realizes that being the only one to follow the rules may be to her loss. I had to laugh out loud when one character makes a reference to Star Wars episode 15, and in many ways that is not far off after the Disney purchase. We are also treated to how these shows are sponsored; this one by the beet foundation. The funny thing is that one actually exists, I never knew. Who also knew that it was a mother’s duty to correct their child’s grammar in life? As I look back, I have to say this is also true.

The book’s audio narration by Khristine Hvam is near perfect. The audio quality and performance were smooth and seamless. Her ability to voice the many different characters and give them all unique personalities was done very well. I have grown to be a fan of Mr. Dircks narrating his own works and although many authors are unable to be successful at both, I was happy to hear a female narrate this book. I will say that Mrs. Hvam gave the book emotion, feelings, and life. She did a good job of enhancing this already well-writing piece of fiction. I look forward to listening to more works by her in the future.

For parents and younger readers, be aware the book does contain a fair amount of vulgar language in various places. A few scenes also contain mature material referencing sexual portions of the human body. There is also some graphic violence that may not be appropriate or quite scary for younger readers.

In summary, the book is one of adventure and discovery. Although it is not a coming of age story per se, it does follow our main character as she grows and matures due to her circumstances. You want so badly to see her accomplish her goals, yet there are so many obstacles she much overcome first to get there. We also see how such cannot be accomplished in a vacuum, but requires the help of others (family, friends, and co-workers) to achieve. As I said earlier, you cannot go wrong giving this book a listen if you like science fiction and great writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Small Fry

  • By: Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  • Narrated by: Eileen Stevens
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 826
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 766
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 761

A frank, smart, and captivating memoir by the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs' poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents' fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the '70s and '80s, Small Fry is an enthralling audiobook by an insightful new literary voice. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You feel as though you are there.

  • By Anonymous User on 09-07-18

A view into this very private man's life

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

Reviewed: 12-11-18

The audiobook “Small Fry” contains the emotionally engrossing memoirs of Lisa Brennan-Jobs whose biological father was the famous Apple Computer co-founder; Steve Jobs. The audiobook edition of this book was skillfully and wonderfully narrated by Eileen Stevens; who has narrated over two-hundred title on Audible at the time of this review. I am not what some might call an Apple “fanboy”, but I have followed and used the company’s products dating back to the days of the first Apple ][ series; yes I’m that old. I have lightly followed the activities of Mr. Jobs because of there great impact and influence upon the computer industry. From Apple to the NEXT and back to Apple, Mr. Jobs has been an innovator changing how we interact with computers even today. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to grow up poor, raised by a single parent who not only had multiple financial difficulties being an artist but numerous mental issues while your estranged father is a multi-billionaire, this book is for you. Even if you are not a person who understands computers or knows about the life of Mr. Jobs, I think you will enjoy this moving and emotional rollercoaster ride where we are shown many of the author’s lows and highs interacting with her eccentric genius father while he was alive. I can say that this book does not end like your typical Disney fairytale, it is real-life as one can tell. There are often times of hardship, loss, and love. Although the family is quite dysfunctional, I have to say that in many ways it represents families today.

The book mostly consists of a chronological progression from the author’s early years up to the time of her father’s death. Some of the earlier details I’m sure were filled in by her mother as a number of them were from periods she would have been too young to recall. When I first started the audiobook, I thought it was going to be filled with stories showing a negative light on Mr. Jobs. However, I found the book very well balanced and enlightening into the life of a man who often kept his private life protected from the public. Frequently, books like these portray the author as loving, kind, and supportive while others in their life are troubled, abusive, and unkind. Even though we are given some of this in the book, we are also provided a view into Mrs. Brennan-Jobs troubled pass as well. She does not show herself in the best light at times and instead shares many of her flaws as well.

I thought the book’s narration by Eileen Stevens was fantastic. It was well paced, felt like she knew her material and there was no issue with the sound having any noticeable audio artifacts. Her voice was clear and sharp, and the audiobook’s volume was consistent. When narrating fictional works, a narrator often has to track and voice multiple characters, yet with this book it is mainly told from the perspective of the author. I did like the use of inflection in the narration as it helped bring the book to life for me. Emotional times in the were expressive and felt like the author was telling them in her own words.

Parents or younger readers who may be interested in this book, note there are scenes containing vulgar language and some mature content. It may not be appropriate for younger readers, but I can say that the language use is mostly when quoting others. Just be aware such language exists and if it is an issue for you, I recommend you pick up a different audiobook.

In summary, if you have ever wondered what it would be like growing up in the Jobs household or being one of the individuals in the inner circle of this family, I suggest you pick up this audiobook and give it a listen. The book is engrossing, compelling, and emotional on many fronts. I thought the book was well laid out, covered both the good and bad times, and involved a rather large span of time. The narration was solid and clear. Bring together these many elements and you have a rather good piece of non-fiction that will have you listening from start to finish.

  • 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 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 78

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 54
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 53

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 5,495
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,154
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,156

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.