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J. W. Mullins

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Second Hand Curses audiobook cover art

Happily ever after sometimes requires help.

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

I found this book to be amazing, sort of an adult version of Shrek or Charmed. It uses the basis of a fairy tale world to build something everyone is famailir with, but with the idea that fairies aren't as good as we though, and getting your 'happily ever after' might require some specialized help.

The main characters are amazing, I enjoyed the character growth and all felt familiar enough to latch onto but grew in realistic ways. The story progressed in not a shocking way, but it was so enjoyable that I can't complain about seeing the ending coming. Further the chapters were broken down in a series of almost stand alone adventures that moved the party farther along towards their goal which was nice. The narrators did an amazing job and really made the book. It would have been good alone, but the narration made it great, really allowing you to disappear into the story and characters.

The only downside was when I finished I was sad to discover there was no book two in the series yet. Because I really want to see how these characters grow and where they progress from here.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire audiobook cover art

The beginning of Ravenloft

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I, Strahd is clearly inspired by other great vampire novels such as the classic Dracula, but is isn't false about this. The feeling of Gothic Horror is well presented. This is a classic story of a good man who turns to evil through a cascade of missteps. It is also the beginning and defining story in the Ravenloft world. P.N. Elrod does a fantastic job and the story is well written with good pace. Paul Beohmer does a fantastic job making Strahd his own and not just sounding like another Dracula impostor either. He carries a good deal of emotions through the novel from the young mortal man to the young Vampire and then later when he has started to understand his powers and place. It is rather impressive work and and Paul make is feel very believable. I don't think that this is the best Ravenloft book written, but I do think it is the one every fan of the world should read at least once. Because this is where it all started.

Orphanage audiobook cover art

A worthy tribute and a good book in its own right.

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Any reader of Heinlien and the other great military Sci Fi authors will feel very comfortable just a few minutes into Orphanage. It is obvious where the author drew inspiration from but he manages to do so without making the book seem like a shallow copy or clone. The book itself is well written and fairly fast paced. It follows the traditional Sci Fi hero route of a troubled youth to a war hero all in 300 pages or less. One of the aspects I very much enjoyed was the use of old (at least to the characters) equipment and training styles. The technology in the book is not so outlandish that it seems completely foreign to a dweller of the current age. The book slows in places and some of the cliche are annoying but never show stopping. I found the very defeatist feelings in the beginning of the book to be a bit of a downer but the fact the book made me feel anything is a good indication of how good it is. All in all I was very happy with my spur of the moment buy and look forward to seeing where Jason Wander goes from here.

Star Wars audiobook cover art

Star Wars + Zombies = Mostly Good

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Zombies in the Star Wars universe had a certain appeal to me when I saw it. Part of me was afraid it would just be more bandwagon riding by transporting the zombie genre to space. But the chance of blasters and light sabers and zombies was too much not to give it a try. And it turned out to be a fairly good read. It is very cliche in parts and the introduction of some major Star Wars characters robs it of a fair amount of drama. Few of the characters were really very well developed and mostly served as card board stand ins. But it was over all an exciting read. It wasn't the best zombie novel. Nor the best Star Wars novel. But somehow it worked out to a pleasant read for someone looking outside of earth for their zombie horror fix.

American Gun audiobook cover art

American history is gun history

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Most everyone reading this review will be familiar with the late author, Chris Kyle. He is the current record holder for sniper kills in the US military. Having left the service after 11 years with the Navy SEAL as a Chief Petty Officer, he started his own sniper/precision shooting school Craft International.

This book cover the gamut of firearms history and how they have affected American history. From the Kentucky Long Rifle to the M16 he covers the ten most influential in his opinion. And then he lays out the reasons why. They book is full of fun historical facts and stories about history and the part the firearm design played in them. He covers the evolution of the model as well. For example when talking about the 1873 Colt Single Action he starts with the Paterson Colt and through the Walker, 1851 and 1860 Colt before getting to the SAA.

Having read American Sniper I know Chris is rather found of the old western American guns and the sections pertaining to them I found to be the best in the book. I enjoyed the book, its not a be all of history of the weapon or hidden tech data, but an overview of them and key moments in history. Its a great book and its a shame Chris was killed, I would have loved to read more from him.

Written in Red audiobook cover art

Solid Urban Fantasy

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I'm slightly conflicted over this book. To be fair I thoroughly enjoyed it as good urban fantasy and was hooked from the first chapter. I've read some criticism that Anne Bishop's world building in this book was somewhat lazy and I can see that. Despite being constantly at odds and often destroyed by the 'others' the technology level of the world in the book is pretty much the same as current day America. There is also the fact that despite being exposed to humans for several centuries the Others in the book still don't seem to have much grasp on humanity.

Of course those are criticism I can make looking back on the book, because I was enjoying it too much at the time to worry about it. I found it to be a good page turner with strong character development. The main character, Meg Corbin, can be annoyingly naive, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the story. The world and supporting characters are interesting, though the end seemed a bit rushed and even a little anti climatic to me. The 'bad guys' in the books also lacked a good strong showing.

There is one thing that left me feeling a bit odd about the book. The main character is something called a Blood Prophet. She can see the future by cutting her skin in a very specific way. I have no real experience with self harm or cutting, but that is what instantly came to mind when reading this book. The practice in the book is show as being morally ambiguous, but not vilified. It makes sense in the context of the story, but I don't know how I feel about the main character saving people by doing something that is damaging in real life. It doesn't bother me, but it is something I suppose certain people should possible be aware of.

All and all I really enjoyed the book and characters and I'm looking forward to seeing where the story and world goes in future books.

NPCs audiobook cover art

Liked it, didn't love it.

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

That said I wouldn't have made it through reading it. It wasn't a bad book to listen to in the background while on the computer, but it was slow, very slow, in parts. Don't get me wrong it was a neat book and concept, with the cross over between real life players and the NPCs in their play world living their NPC lives. The action wasn't bad and the characters and players seemed accurate. I like it, but I didn't love it or loathe it, so three stars. And having listened to the next book in the series I know the series itself gets better, as the author learned some from this novel. So I was glad I gave the next book a chance.

The narrator, Roger Wayne, does an admirable job I think think the story itself was working with some pacing and character development issues. Though his reading was somewhat laconic, but he voiced each character well. Some narrators I can't stand to listen too no matter how good the book, this fellow was middle of the road or better.

Unbreakable audiobook cover art

Space Marines, Cowboy planet, what is not to love?

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I really enjoyed this book. It hits all the sci fi military must haves, which could just make it cliche, but the author does well to make it all work. I am a huge fan of (current generation small arms) archaic weapons in military future sci fi, so that hooked me when I read to preview. I was glad to find the book turned out to be pretty good. The military is very much based on the US Navy and Marine Corps, which after sixteen years of service, I am familiar with both. The author doesn't religiously stick to accuracy, but makes it his own where needed and it doesn't distract even the veteran in me. It is familiar enough to make me feel I already know it, but with enough twist and difference to keep it interesting and fresh.

The Republic of Aligned Worlds Marine Corps (RAWMC) is very much a mix of our current day USMC with some Starship Troopers mech suit action going. The lead character is a strong, mostly competent female lead, which I enjoy. Too often it seems female leads are drowning in self doubt in these type of stories, that isn't the case here. They deploy to a fringe world planet called Montana, which is what you'd get if you made an entire planet out of the state of Montana. The population are hard core, independent, gun toting, gun loving, constitutionalists.

The planet is in a buffer area that is also wanted by the galaxy's other superpower the Empire of Lusitania, which is strongly modeled on the British Empire. There are equal parts politics, space battles, ground battles and interesting characters. There isn't much to dislike if military sci fi appeals to you.

I do have a few grips though. The RAW MC constantly give a better equipped and manned opponent verbal chances to surrender, and it costs them every time. There is also a chapter were the author keeps referring to the Sailors on the Republic ships and 'Navys' as in 'the Marines and Navys'. He later fixes that and refers from them from then out to Sailors, but it really grated on my nerves. The book takes a lot of proven elements from other stories and worlds, but does well in making it work. My biggest let down though is the ending. It not only feels rushed, but leaves out what I'd think important closure. I won't go into it as to not create a spoiler, but the ended really need more between 'climactic battle' and 'epilogue'.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Critical Failures audiobook cover art

Anyone who has rolled a D20 should read this

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I didn't go into this expecting too much, and finished it very happy. I listened to the book after downloading it off of Audible. I think this book suits listening to more than reading. The general setting being some fratish guys invite over an DM to run a role playing game for them. They were kind of jerks to the GM and ended up banished into the actual game world they were playing in, and as the players they were role playing.

That would leave a lot of options, but the author managed to keep it funny, fun and engaging. There is violence, blood, sex jokes, the usually from the players as you'd expect. And the players are aware of who they are and what their characters are, to the extend they were banished with copies of their own character sheets. The groups was old players who know each other, a new guy and several accidentals one of which had played before.

The story get slow in parts, which is why I am glad I was listening instead of reading. But there were many times I felt nostalgic and even laughed out loud ad their shenanigans. The end is sort of rushed and not really complete, since new books are out for the serious already. Jonathan Sleep is an amazing narrator and becomes the characters in this series and the D6 books which are short stories. He does an utterly amazing job.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Video Game Plotline Tester audiobook cover art

My first dip into litRPG

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I've never read or listened to a litRPG book before and I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It is a guilty pleasure, but I found it to be a figurative page turner. The in game story is rather cliche but interesting with good pacing and well written. It made the world interesting and the author did a good job at introducing game mechanics without just killing it in details. The out of game story was even more cliche and really there to make you feel something for the character. It wasn't terrible but really I cared more about what was happening in the game than to the character himself. The game focuses on the team instead of just the main character which was great. And the NPC interactions where done so well that you found yourself caring about them, which happens in actually videos games but would seem to be hard to capture in a story about a guy playing a game. The ending seemed a little rushed though you get actual closure before the start of the next story instead of just a cliff hanger.