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Madison, WI, United States
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  • Imp

  • By: Kevin Candela
  • Narrated by: Gary Bennett
  • Length: 1 hr and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 29

From the writer of Ghost Hunter, Little Women with Big Guns, and Krakenstein vs. Koalatron comes an unforgettable excursion into the depths of the unknown. Loaded end to end with chills, this terrifying narrative is loosely based on accounts of encounters with the legendary Pukwudgie, a cryptozoological "myth" originating in Massachusetts' mysterious Bridgewater Triangle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A puck-what-ie? Wedgie? I'm already freaking out

  • By Ray Johnson on 04-15-18

Liquid Courage vs Mythical Monster

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

Imp is authored by Kevin Candela. This audiobook is narrated by Gary Bennett. This audiobook has a running time of 1 hour and 57 minutes so it is a bit of a short story. The main character sees what he believes is a mythical cryptozoological creature in the frozen marsh near his home. So like any red-blooded Midwesterner with enough liquid courage, he plans a way to catch the creature to solve all his problems. But as with any plan, the devil is in the details. What to do with the creature if and or when he manages to catch the creature. There is a really good ending to the story that I do not want to spoil in this part of the review. It does help to redeem the middle of the story where it drags on.

The story did initially hold my attention but as the story progressed I only managed to keep listening due to my enjoyment of the narrator Gary Bennett. I was actually hoping the monster would kill the human after the first third of the audiobook as the main character lacked any empathy for the creature and failed to display any redeeming characteristics. The sad fact is he made so little impression on me I can not remember his name a few days after listening to the audiobook. The story is told from the main characters point of view and his name is not mentioned often either though. He was just a really unlikeable person and that had an effect on the story. I can see the overall payoff of creating a character like this for the story. But Imp is not going to be on any of my top ten lists for short stories this year.

The narration was done by Gary Bennett. Mr. Bennett once again delivered an excellent performance in the production. There were limited characters for the narrator to voice but he did an excellent job with the material in the production. The production value of this audiobook was Excellent. The publisher for this audiobook is Video Software Lab. I heard no problems during the entire performance. There were not any detectable flaws that I was able to hear during the entire performance. I did not hear any loops, breaks, or buzzing. The production was crisp and clear.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Blackwater

  • Two Stories
  • By: Christian Galacar
  • Narrated by: J. M. Needham
  • Length: 1 hr and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 25

Blackwater is a collection of two tales of horror and dark fantasy. In "Mercury Rain", a soldier fighting a new enemy learns the importance of holding on to his memories. "Blackwater", the title story of the collection, is an homage to Stephen King's short story, "Graveyard Shift", and it tells the tale of Paul Hawkins, a mine worker who disturbs something terrifying in the Blackwater Hills of Durham, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1976.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Two decent stories

  • By Spooky Mike on 02-08-18

two terrifying tales that will leave you sleepless

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

Blackwater is a collection of two short stories written by Christian Galacar. The narration is provided by J.M. Needham. The audiobook is self-published by Christian Galacar with a short running time of 1 hour and 26 minutes. Within the shorter runtime, you will get to enter two distinct worlds from the author. The first is Mercury Rain. This is the shorter of the two stories. The second offering is Blackwater.

Short stories are a challenge for any writer. They have to establish a hook and get the reader or listener invested quickly into the story. Mr. Galacar does that with Mercury Rain. This is a dark tale of the future of the human race. Many things have gone wrong. Soldiers are on the front lines daily fighting two separate but nearly equal enemies. The machines that have gain consciousness while the environment is raining mercury in a toxic form on them. This story reminds me of scenes from the Terminator Movies.

The second story; Blackwater the longer of the two stories is in a mine. This story held my attention as well; it told the story of Paul Hawkins. He is a Miner in 1976 in Pennsylvania. He is working an extra shift to string new wiring for the mine lights. The Lights that all blew out at the same time for no real apparent reason. While in the mine Paul finds something horrifying. The author wrote the short story Blackwater is as an homage to Stephen King’s short story, “Graveyard Shift”. The author did an excellent job doing that, as that was my first thought as the story developed as it held my attention.

J. M. Needham provided the narration on the short audio performance. I found Mr. Needham’s performance in both stories to be enjoyable. The narrator set the right tone as needed for the required setting of the story. In the first story, it was needed to be bleak, dark, and convey the sense of loss in the world. Mr. Needham did that well. In the second story where Mr. Needham had more characters to work with, I found his performance truly enjoyable as there were more characters to give voices too. Later in the story, the internal monologue was really enjoying how the narrator voiced the characters growing fear. The publisher for this audiobook is Christian Galacar. The production value is of the highest quality. I heard no problems during the entire performance. There were not any detectable flaws that I was able to hear during the entire performance. I did not hear any loops, breaks, or buzzing. The production was crisp and clear.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Journal of an Outlaw: Book 2

  • By: Mick McArt
  • Narrated by: Tom Adams
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

The Journal of an Outlaw series is a comedic take on the fantasy genre. Audiobook two has 100 journal entries that tell you more adventures of an unnamed rogue in the Unremembered Realms.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very fun book

  • By DBNB on 09-16-18

Light-hearted and fun

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

If you are one who loves books consisting of short chapters containing numerous quips, puns, farce, and plenty of satire around our modern world and a fictional fantasy land, “Journal of an Outlaw: Book 2” may be just what you are looking for. The audiobook comprises the second set of journal entries detailing the activities of an unnamed rogue coming from an unknown fantasy realm. The book is authored by Mick McArt and the audiobook edition is performed by Tom Adams. Note, this is a different narrator from the first book. Like its predecessor, the second book contains a set of one hundred new journal entries; the previous book had one hundred and twenty entries. If this sounds like something of interest, I recommend you pick up the first book and give it a listen as there are some tie-ins to it in this book.

For me, I found the book needs to be digested in small bite-sized pieces. I can only take so many one-liners, puns or crude humor in a single setting. Much like those mints you receive after a meal after eating out. They taste great if you eat only one, but if you eat the entire box it makes you sick. I’m glad the author used rather short chapters allowing a person to consume as many entries in one sitting they feel comfortable doing. Because each entry in the journal covers a stand-alone event, even though there are a few details that intersect, each can be listened too and enjoyed without much difficulty if you have a minute, or five minutes, to spare. The pokes and humor are very similar to that found in the first book, so if you liked that one, you will enjoy this one just as much. I will say that some of the humor is quite clever and witty, while other bits made me want to perform a facepalm. Comedy can be a difficult bit to pull off, and that is no exception with this book. There were some references I did not “get”, but I’m sure others would. I enjoyed the fantasy and gaming references, yet some not involved or in the know might not. So, I will say there are definite ups and downs while listening to this book.

In this book, we are given a glimpse of bugbears, fairies, and even a dragon. We are welcomed into a deeper view of the thieves guild along with much more. The world and interactions of our rogue are expanded and more defined than what I found from the first book. Even though there are fewer entries, book two is slightly longer and contains more detail than the first. I can see why some would say the series is a bit of Monty Python blended with Lord of the Rings. There is the fantasy along with the slapstick and outlandish humor, but this really is not a story in the story sense. It does begin to build aspects of a story as you go through the entries, yet I felt that things never fully congealed into an adventure.

The audiobook’s narration was performed quite well by Tom Adams. Even though he does not have a large number of titles narrated on Audible, many are decent books, the recording and audio quality were done professionally. I do not recall any issues with volume or background artifacts. The characters felt distinct as most had their own voices and personalities provided by the narrator. The narration itself was well paced, if not read slightly faster than others I have listened too.

For parents and younger readers, I would suggest the book is more targeted towards mature audiences. Mostly due to the adult references and cultural tie-ins. I do not recall any use of vulgar language as I listened.

In summary, if you are a fan of fantasy with plenty of tongue in cheek humor, you may want to have a listen to Journal of an Outlaw Book 2. Again, I suggest you pick up the first book and give that a listen before diving into the second. There were times I laughed out loud and other times I wanted to cry; due to the puns. The book is fun, light-hearted, and best when consumed in small bites.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Limitless Lands: The Commander's Tale, a LitRPG adventure

  • Limitless Lands Series, Book 1
  • By: Dean Henegar
  • Narrated by: Jack Voraces
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236

Colonel James Raytak is about to die. The 93-year-old combat veteran is living his last days in a nursing home; his only hope for survival is an experimental Medpod life support system controlled by an artificial intelligence. Co-developed by the world’s largest gaming company, Qualitranos the AI will also control the soon to be released game Limitless Lands. Without its creator’s knowledge, the AI decides the best course of treatment is to import its patient’s consciousness directly into the game.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unique take on LitRPG

  • By thompson on 11-21-18

Fresh ideas for LitRPG, real-time and fantasy

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

“Limitless Lands” is a blending of a LitRPG, real-time strategy, and a fantasy world containing some unique and fresh ideas. Who would have imagined and army of Roman soldiers in a fantasy-like setting? It is the first book in the Limitless Lands series and a premiere work from author Dean Henegar. The audiobook edition is narrated by Jack Voraces, who appears to be a newcomer to the narration scene having three audiobooks listed on Audible at the time of this review. I found the author’s closing chapter impactful even though it was short, detailing his reasons and perspectives driving him to write the book; in many ways I which it had been the first chapter listened too. Overall, I liked the story and found enough fresh ideas to make it interesting and entertaining even though there were a few potholes along the way. I felt the author attempted to blend too many elements and genres which at times made the story more muddled, faded and disconnected from the core reasons people often listen to this genre. Additionally, I had issues with the overly used sound effects, character voicing, and production quality in the audiobook edition. Some of these audio problems may have taken away from the story itself instead of enhancing it. In such a crowded and rather hot LitRPG space, it can be hard to stand out. For me, the book was not bad, but it also was not to the standards that many now expect from the genre. If you are more a fan of military tactics and movements, this might be the book you are looking for. I thought the story diverged from many of the basic RPG fundamentals (stats, experience, etc.) for me to recommend it to people interested solely in LitRPG type books. There was some stats usage, but this was not the focus nor did one feel it was necessary nor impactful to the story’s outcome. I felt more like I was watching a real-time strategy game being played then an RPG, and I was never a fan of that type of game.

I enjoyed both the physical and virtual worlds the author created in the book. In the physical world we have a very utopian futuristic place where drones and robots are now the way wars are fought. Physical human military personnel are no longer required and many of those who remember wars involving humans are few and far between. Like many of our remaining World War II veterans today, the story’s main character is aged and finds himself in a rather different world. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and game immersion are the things that some use for both escape and entertainment. The new system being brought online may have the ability to not only entertain, but help in slowing the aging process of our ninety-three-year-old veteran. A way to keep him alive is by having the all-knowing AI, running the game, import the patient’s conscience directly into the game. Here the main character leverages his skills and knowledge of war to win the many battles he faces all the while his body and mind are sustained and even enhanced in the physical world. There were some good transitional periods where the story shifts between the physical and virtual worlds. As with many other books in the genre, we have nanobots, medical reasons, and a few other standard tropes, but again it felt well-thought out and planned.

I liked some of the extra detail the author included such as the time compression of those in the game from those outside. A language translation system being included to make conversations with others around the world much easier, and there is the concept of one earning and converting virtual currencies to physical real-world ones. The world consisted of goblins, dryads, wolfs, spiders, and halflings along with quite a few others one meets along the way. The writing style was detailed and descriptive allowing the listener to be dropped in to the story having a good visual understanding of both worlds. What felt somewhat different for me was the additional RTS components around town building and resource management. It simply did not seem to fit the mold of a fantasy-based LitRPG, and in some ways it worked, but in others it just seems like an odd fit. A town requiring one building to be constructed before another could be built just did not feel right. I felt there was a good balance of action, adventure, strategy, and even emotion throughout the story. As I said earlier, it was entertaining but at time too different for my comfort level.

I think one of the main issues I had keeping me from enjoying the book was its audio quality and narration. No offense to Jack Voraces, the narrator, as such quality production takes time and honing and I’m sure will improve as he performs more books. But it was a bit too much for me and I can say that it was more a distraction than help. Many of the notes I took while listening to the book related in one way or another to the audio. During very quiet times or silence, I could hear audio compression artifacts. These were not excessive, but quite noticeable. Some of the character differences and voicing felt forced and a few times confused with another during conversation. As with many male narrators, voicing of female characters was not fluid, nor did it feel natural. In situations like these, I would rather a narrator just read the portion of text and not attempt to voice it as a character. I understand this is not easy for most narrators to get right when dealing with the opposite gender. Lastly, I think the sound effects often overpowered the narration and I would have liked to have had them more in the background.

For parents and younger readers, the book had some graphic scenes of war and violence which is expected in a book of this genre. I do not recall any mature subject matter or vulgar language used by the author which is quite unusual and in my opinion a welcomed change. I believe the book could be enjoyed by both younger and older audiences.

In summary, the premise, story and world are solid. A few of the components I felt did not belong in a LitRPG and I would have liked to have had more integration and impact of the main character’s stats as I watched him grow. I just felt this was a bit lacking. My biggest concern was with the narration of the different characters, the overpowering sound effects, and the annoying background compression noise. The story is detailed, yet it seems to lack continuity. I hope future books in the series are more RPG focused. A good listen if you can get past the issues I found while listening.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space

  • The Henry Gallant Saga, Book 1
  • By: H. Peter Alesso
  • Narrated by: Rich Miller
  • Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22

As the last star fighter in squadron 111, Midshipman Henry Gallant is on his way from Jupiter to Mars. With the United Planets' fleet on the verge of annihilation, he can expect no help as he passes through the asteroid belt and threatening aliens. In an era of genetic engineering, he is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. His classmates and superior officers have all expressed their concern that he will not be up to the demands of the space service.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story but could be improved.

  • By cosmitron on 09-05-18

When the weakest perceived link isn't

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space: The Henry Gallant Saga Book 1. The book was written by H. Peter Alessio. The narration is provided by Rich Miller. The length of the audiobook is 5 hours and 42 minutes and was released on August 28th, 2018 by Video Software Lab.

This is the story of Henry Gallant a non-genetically engineered (Natural) Midshipman in the early 22nd century who has completed his cadet training and is now on his way from Mars to the Jupiter fleet to begin his training as a Star Fighter pilot with the Jupiter fleet. He faces discrimination from his genetically enhanced crewmates and fellow junior officers. He’s a freak due to the fact that he is not genetically enhanced or what is termed as a natural. He is a rare person because he can interface with the neural interface and pilot his Star Fighter. While on is Ship he is continually harassed and given the worst duty and other forms of discrimination by other fellow officers of his same rank. Until one day when things change for Henry and the Fleet.

The story does hold your attention but during the first act, there are several events that are referenced as happening during the midshipmen’s academy days that seem to be missing and are never explained. The story seems familiar and was released in 2013. I checked for my own curiosity on Amazon and there is no version of a Cadet Henry Gallant on Mars. This is something that would fit as part of the Henry Gallant story. There are several instances referenced with a character from his academy days a former roommate in this story. I do seem to remember having read that at one time but I cannot find it in the author’s collection of works. I mention this and go off on a tangent about it because this little fact bugged me enough to stop listening and look it up. When I came back off me hunt for the back-story. I was able to finish the audiobook. This is a story similar to such as the Horatio Hornblower series and Honor Harrington stories. Some things are really never expanded too deeply and the character of Henry Gallant is a reluctant hero. The story never gets too deep into the character development but it is the first in the series.

The narration for this audiobook is provided by Rich Miller. Mr. Miller does an average job with the material he is provided he has a nice deep rich voice which is easy to listen to but his performance felt somewhat detached. Mr. Miller performed the same throughout the entire audiobook he only really changed his tempo and his intensity during the action sequences. Mr. Miller did limited variations between characters. This was the first performance that I have heard from Mr. Miller I don’t know if I will be listening again but I may give him another try depending on the audiobook. The production value of this audiobook was Excellent. The publisher for this audiobook is Video Software Lab. I heard no problems during the entire performance. There were not any detectable flaws that I was able to hear during the entire performance. I did not hear any loops, breaks, or buzzing. The production was crisp and clear

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • The Crimson Claymore

  • Claymore of Calthoria, Volume 1
  • By: Craig A Price Jr.
  • Narrated by: Ian McEuen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 20

When Searon loses everything he once held dear, he begins a quest for revenge, leaving behind everything except his crimson claymore. He runs into something he doesn’t expect - an arrogant wizard, who won’t leave him alone unless he forms an army - an army that could fulfill his revenge - and save all of humanity in Calthoria.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A caustic cavalier and his quest for revenge

  • By Ray Johnson on 05-16-18

Humorous quips with lots of action

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

“The Crimson Claymore” is the first book in the “Claymore of Calthoria” series written by USA Today’s bestselling author Craig A. Price Jr.; known for his “Dragonia Empire” book series. The audiobook edition is quite well narrated and performed by Ian McEuen who receives rather high ratings for this other works. The story is set in a fantasy world and it centers around a man who is out for revenge. He will do almost anything to see those who hurt his family either come to justice through the hands of the law or by his own hands; or blade. In some ways the story felt more like a LitRPG than a standard fantasy tale and is not a bad thing. It is more about the progression of the character and not the experience and leveling parts. We have the classic man vs. man (revenge style) tale, but this one also takes a few surprise twists and turns along the way. There is plenty of mystery, suspense, and wit making it a well-rounded adventure. If you are one who enjoys a well-written and narrated fantasy exploration piece, I recommend you pick up this book and give it a listen.

I like that the author included a prologue chapter giving the listener some insight and background before dropping you right in the world. What is not to like about a revenge story? As you listen to the story, you can feel that the main character oozes with hatred and the desire to seek revenge no matter the cost. There is almost a heightened level of despair throughout the story and one wonders if he will ever be satisfied. The author includes flashbacks giving the listener more details on who our main character is and why he is what he is. I like the addition of the characters having familiars. The main character had his trusty steed while another character a jaguar. The story flowed in a very vibrant and colorful way. It is as if one started with a black canvas and as the story unfolds, we begin to see the splashes of color building a scene. Not only the setting, but the characters were multidimensional, and each had a personality and skills that complemented one another; except for that annoying wizard. One is able to see that the main character needed to depend on his companions for help in achieving his goals. For me, the story felt well planned and executed from both the writing and narration. Good job.

Although the story was quite complex, at times it felt more Young Adult (YA) than I would have expected from our characters. I think some of it feels this way due to some of the character interactions and conversations. The story has a more traditional fantasy world along with the expected classes and creatures; many our party discovers along their travels. We are presented with mages, wizards, warlocks, magic, and plenty of fighting. I even liked how the author wrapped in some humor with the subtle events like the discovery of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There are a number of other humorous quips and pokes that pop-up and surprise you while listening. I found the game within a game an interesting component and brought me back to my childhood some. Our main character plays a strategy game, like Stratego, which they played as youths growing up. If he wins, he gets to control an army. If he loses, revenge may have to wait for another time.

The audiobook’s narration was solid and performed professionally. Each of the characters voices felt unique and distinct. There is even a point where the narrator sings, and he does a decent job here as well. Although I was not a fan of the Wizards voice, I think that was both the author’s and narrator’s intentions. He was intended to be an annoying character, and this was done well. I do not recall any issues with audio artifacts (swallows, background noise, etc.). The pace of reading and audio volumes remained consistent throughout the book.

For parents or younger readers, there is some light romance between characters and I do not recall any vulgar language being used. I feel it would be a good story for a pre-teen and up. The writing style was not overly complex and the narration clear and well-paced. However, younger readers may not fully grasp some of the sarcasm and snarky comments thrown around in this book.

In summary, the book had a fair amount of mystery and suspense while wanting to find out what happens with our main character. Revenge is a powerful motivator, but one has to be reminded that actions have consequences. Sometimes, these consequences can be deadly. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to listen too, I can say that I think you will enjoy this one; apart from the wizard that is. I look forward to listening to “The Obsidian Arrow” which is the title of book two in the series when it is released.

  • Agent G: Saboteur

  • By: C. T. Phipps
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

Agent G has left the service of the International Refugee Society, the world's biggest provider of murder for hire, in order to work for the US government. Unfortunately, they are sending him after his former employers, and they know him as well as he knows them. The clock is ticking, though, until the Society's remaining leadership starts eliminating their opponents and attempts to seize control of the presidency. A traitor is also providing them with all the information they need to survive until their puppet is in power. Will G and his allies survive the purge? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Professional Hitmen Never Retire!

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 11-28-18

Professional Hitmen Never Retire!

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

Reviewed: 11-28-18

The time has come for Agent G to leave the International Refugee Society. The most notorious murderer for hire and cyborg spy. In order to do so, and live in peace, Agent G must remove the president from her position, throw the Society into chaos and convince the other “letters,” the ones he has not killed, into joining him. Agent G’s ultimate goal is to retire and live out the rest of his short life but not before correcting some wrongs and making amends where he can.

CT Phipps continues the dangerous adventures of Agent G with new twists and villains with humor and pop culture references. The story of G flows smoothly with some intense moments that only Phipps can deliver.

Jeffrey Kafer, the narrator, performs the story with voices that are pleasant and interesting. He becomes Agent G as the puns and pop culture references roll off his tongue with no effort – it is as if he really were Agent G. Kafer has nailed the indifference, anger and every other emotion of Agent G to perfection!

This is an entertaining book that keeps the listener on the edge of their seat and guessing as to the pop culture references. The book is fun and highly entertaining.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this book. It was professionally done.


Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Coilhunter Chronicles - Omnibus (Books 1-3)

  • By: Dean F. Wilson
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109

Three audiobooks from the Coilhunter Chronicles: Coilhunter, Rustkiller, and Dustrunner. Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide - if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dean F Wilson, starting off great!

  • By Jessica Bond on 11-06-18

vibrant & colorful steampunk western

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

Reviewed: 11-28-18

Dean F. Wilson (author) and R.C. Bray (audiobook narrator) come together in an exceptionally well-written and produced premiere action-packed western steampunk trilogy titled “The Coilhunter Chronicles”. The audiobook I reviewed was an omnibus edition which included all three of the Coilhunter stories in a single easy to consume set. The three books in series order are: Coilhunter, Rustkiller, and Dustrunner. I am not a huge fan of the western genre, and I do not often go looking for books of this type. However, the author’s summary along with its steampunk elements and R.C. Bray’s narration made me pick it up and give it a listen; I am glad I did. As you will see below, I quickly became a fan of both the writing and quality of narration that I consumed the nearly fourteen hours of audio in a rather short period of time. If you are looking for a new series to start, and even if westerns are not your thing, I highly recommended you give this new series a try.

The stories contained in the omnibus edition can stand on their own. However, there are some recurring characters making appearances across all of the stories. Each book has its own storylines and objectives our main character (Nox) needs to accomplish, and a few times I felt as if I were dropped into a LitRPG book. It should be noted that books two and three of the series would be less enjoyable without first listening to book one. In the first book (Coilhunter), we learn of the Coilhunter’s background, drive, and what makes him who he is as a man. We are shown that even under that tough bounty hunter skin there lies a man who misses his family, is desperate for love, and ultimately wants to see justice served. Prior to the fateful events that changed him forever, this man was a tinkerer, toy maker, and experimenter who loved to make various contraptions. The books are not only entertaining and filled with scenes of action, but there were also a number of emotional periods when you wanted to reach out and give him a hug or comfort him in some way. At times we see just how broken a man he is and the few friends (or are they) who are by his side wanting to help him along his journey.

At one point in the story we are told he is a drifter, and in some ways, he reminded me of Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) from the TV series “Kung Fu”. Each story in this series was like a new TV show that at times included people from previous episodes yet there was always a central running theme; just like with the Coilhunter. I felt at times that I was watching a steampunk version of “Gunsmoke” blended with parts of “Dirty Harry” or “Dog the Bounty Hunter” sprinkled in. Nox is gruff, to the point, and a loner on the outside. I found it quite curious that our main character was called The Coilhunter when it was clear he was not in it for the money (coils) but instead was a man driven by seeing justice served. Each of the story titles in the series gives you a glimpse into what you can expect, but there are always a few twists and suspense added by the author keeping one guessing along the way. The steampunk and western aspects were well-balanced as I did not feel one overtook the other. Each of the stories also had a fair number of weapons, technology, creatures, and armor.

Let me say that I felt the writing was descriptive, vibrant, and colorful. At times I felt like I was watching a movie or TV show with my eyes closed. This does not mean that the author left out the core components that make up a story. It was not all eye candy without substance; not at all. There were multidimensional characters, memorable scenes, a deep central plot including a few side plots, plenty of conflict, and each story had its resolution. Again, for someone like myself who is not a big fan of the western genre, I enjoyed the complexity and depth of these stories. Although there is horse riding, gun slinging, adventuring and salooning, the core of these tales could be dropped into nearly any genre and it would be good. I could easily see a science fiction or fantasy setting for our hero; maybe a future series of books? Even with the complexity, the series of books had a fair amount of humor and light-hearted times. I laughed each time a character was introduced as I wondered what witty names the author would come up with. Names such as Lawless Lyle, Flying Feather, and many others litter the landscape in a fun and entertaining way. The subtle first letter of both parts of a nickname were the same. If there was one thing I would have changed, it would have been the titles of the chapters. These seemed to be less throughout and did not fit the overall complexity of the other story components. If this is my main complaint, I have to say that the author has done well for his first published work on Audible.

Let me say that I have always been a fan of books narrated by R.C. Bray. Of the over three-hundred he has already narrated, at the time of this review, I listened to a number of them solely because he has brought life to those he has worked on. Mr. Bray is great at enhancing an already good story and not overdoing it on the audio side. As with his other works I have listened too, this one was professionally produced and narrated. He does a good job of distinguishing the various characters and giving them each distinct characteristics. There were no issues with the audio itself; it contained no background noises or other artifacts. Volume was consistent which flowed from both chapter-to-chapter and even book-to-book, it was smooth and normalized. Simply what I have come to expect from works by R.C. Bray was in this audiobook as well.

For parents or younger listeners, I do not recall any use of vulgar language and apart from some light more mature topics (saloons, alcohol, and prostitution), the book really could be easily enjoyed by a younger person. There is some graphic violence and limited romance, but it is nothing that I would not expect in this genre of book.

In summary, I think this is a very strong series for the first one written by the author. It was very smart to have the audiobook performed by R.C. Bray due to his reputation of performing good books while enhancing them in ways he is quite skilled at. If you are a western steampunk fan, I’m sure you have already listened to this series. If not, you may be looking for more in the genre after finishing this one. I recommend you go out and pick this one up. It is entertaining and can be enjoyed in short stints or even during long drives.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Red Peace

  • The Starfire Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Spencer Ellsworth
  • Narrated by: John Keating, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 6 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 50
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 46

A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy. Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Rebellion wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Suits & Insects War & Technology

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 11-28-18

Suits & Insects War & Technology

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

Reviewed: 11-28-18

Listening to the space opera, A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth took me back to the Speculative Fiction college course taught by Professor Tull. Our reading list had some fantastic short stories from the early days of sci-fi and A Red Peace was reminiscent of those classic works. And I mean that in a very good way.

The story is told from the perspective of two cross-bred humans: Jaqi, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal and Araskar, narrated by John Keating. Araska is vat-born and Jaqi is the daughter of two vat-born cross-bred humans. Crossbreeds were manufactured specifically to be soldiers. The war Araska has been fighting has just ended but both he and Jaqi are immediately pulled into political intrigue involving an alien artifact. There are cyborgs called “Suits” and insect type aliens and all the technology and violence that goes with the aftermath of a galactic war.

The narration was a bit jarring at first with a posh sounding Keating reading as Araskar and Kowal narrating as Jaqi, with a Southern down-home country girl drawl. If this difference in voices throws you off at first, just stick with it. This is a well-told space opera that will stick with you after.

I had a difficult time with Keating’s narration in that I couldn’t always tell the characters apart. I could tell he was using a slightly different voice for each character but they weren’t consistent at first as they weren’t always distinguishable. Kowal’s alien voices were very harsh and I couldn’t understand what was said in one exchange. By the end, I couldn’t imagine Z sounding any different then Kowal’s harsh but cool interpretation. After finishing this first book, I’m still not sure what I think of Keating’s narration but I really like Kowal’s lively voices. That’s a bit of a change for me as in the past I’ve preferred male narrators.

A Red Peace is book one in the trilogy but it’s not really a stand-alone and the ending is a bit abrupt (probably because I was really getting into the story!) so be prepared to immediately want the second book in the series.

If you keep track of this sort of thing, there is mild profanity and sex is alluded to.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • All the F*cks I Cannot Give

  • By: Michael Carlon
  • Narrated by: Mike Dawson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

Kelly Carson is one of those Clark Kent-like guys who just can't stand up for himself. With three weeks to go before Christmas, Kelly receives the shock of his life when he's fired over the telephone while waiting to catch a flight. Terri Flynn, a free-spirited starlet who is running away to New York after walking off the set of her latest feature film, overhears Kelly's unceremonious firing and becomes hell-bent on transforming him from the Clark Kent he is into the Superman the impulsive actress feels he's destined to become. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Fun Fun

  • By cosmitron on 09-05-18

From Clark Kent to Superman in one leap!

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

Cautious and good-natured 42-year-old Kelly Carson’s life hits a new low when he is callously fired from his marketing job while waiting in an airport lounge. But then he meets wild and impulsive actress Terri Flynn and as they spontaneously head off for an island getaway, Kelly’s formerly uneventful, settled life suddenly becomes exhilarating, and he finds himself transforming from an unassuming middle-aged man in a loveless marriage to his very own version of cool and assertive Superman.

Kelly’s journey to turning his life around is simply hilarious and I found him to be a character I could easily root for. This was a quick listen and light entertainment. There is nothing too deep here; in fact, it is all pretty predictable, but it’s cleverly done and well written, and it was a great break from my usual diet of thrillers and dark materials. It’s a very uplifting book and I appreciated the message of wisely considering what you give and don’t give a f*ck about.

Along the way, the listener gets a comedic insight into marketing/focus groups and the entertainment industry from movie production to publishing books. Looking into the author’s background, you can’t help but wonder how much of his own experience in marketing and writing/publishing he has used for the creation of his protagonist. There is an abundance of music and TV/movie references. Some from the 80s/90s that went over my head, but I didn’t mind.

As you can guess from the title, if you find listening to some strong adult language objectionable then this may not be the right book for you. There are sexual innuendos and bad language galore. None of it is any way offending though, at least in MHO, instead, as mentioned before, it is very, very funny.

Mike Dawson was perfect for this first-person point-of-view narration. He really took on the persona of the main character and delivered the lines just right, expressing Kelly’s feelings, worries and humor to the point. There were no issues with the production of the audio.

I will definitely be checking out Michael Carlon’s other books when I need another pick-me-up and would love to listen to another narration by Mike Dawson.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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