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  • 106
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  • The Devil's Only Friend

  • John Cleaver, Book 4
  • By: Dan Wells
  • Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 222
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 221

John Wayne Cleaver hunts demons. They've killed his neighbors, his family, and the girl he loves, but in the end he's always won. Now he works for a secret government kill team, using his gift to hunt and kill as many monsters as he can...but the monsters have noticed, and the quiet game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full-scale supernatural war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic Book!

  • By Jeffrey Kline on 06-24-15

Crazed narrator for a psycho protagonist

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

Reviewed: 11-05-16

Currently going through those episodes of Writing Excuses Season 10 which I missed, and I decided to read this book before diving into the Project in Depth episode focused on The Devil's Only Friend. I was happy to find a pitch perfect supernatural thriller that really tears into its characters. Plenty of tense scenes paired with fragile morality and broken lives. Now I'll be reading the first three books to get the lowdown on all that damage haunting the protagonist. Narrator for the audio was great - screamed and shouted and whimpered when the dialogue called for it!

  • Ghost Talkers

  • By: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 460
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 425
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 427

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force. Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence. Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A very atmospheric, fast read!

  • By kara-karina on 09-04-16

Perfectly-tuned listen of spy intrigue and loss

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

Reviewed: 10-30-16

Wow, another read for Writing Excuses proves to be most impressive. A fun spy story and a tear-jerker of a ghost story. The characters had substance and feels, the plot plenty of action and intrigue. The twists and turns of the investigation served the emotional hardships of the drama throughout the narrative, though the readers are also provided with moments of laughter and pleasure to breathe between the breathless moments of suspense and loss. Recommended read for any time of the year though especially suited for October - I foresee another read of this fine novel next Halloween. Also, the narration by the author herself is among the best readers I've had the pleasure to hear. Every voice was distinct and realistic to their identity. What skills!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Great North Road

  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Toby Longworth
  • Length: 36 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,981
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,812
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,818

A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies. Or maybe not so friendly....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Get the Timeline and Cast of Characters

  • By Don M on 02-03-13

Pays off in the last stretch of SF pulpy goodness

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

Reviewed: 10-22-16

A massive deliciously pulpy SF novel with plenty of threads, both personal and epic. Unfortunately the lengthy dead-end investigation and convoluted mystery drag on a bit much. The bulk of the middle deserves skimming. That said, the last 20% of the book does pay off, and the underlying narrative is smartly connected despite seeming otherwise at times. The flashbacks are worthwhile insights into character and setting, and I do like the complicated heroine and the dipping into clashing views on expansion and economy, religion and environment, etc. Do check the character list and timeline to help wade through the 36-hour listen.

  • The Ballad of Black Tom

  • By: Victor LaValle
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 3 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 520
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 486
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 481

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his black skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their trained cops. But when he delivers an occult page to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best books I've heard all year.

  • By Jason on 05-24-16

Absorbing, sad, and uncanny Lovecraftian tale of an outsider from Harlem

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

Reviewed: 03-26-16

This story does a lot in a short space but never loses its cool focus. The author played with all the tropes just right to dig into the atmosphere, the character, and the unknowable, untameable, supernatural forces at play. Having blues music (its lyrics, its power, its emotion, its loss, its use as plot lure for the protagonist as musician) merge with a well-paced Lovecraftian tale of temptations and mistakes was a treat, and that state of segregation and blatant racism from whites with blacks and chinese and whoever else deemed foreign and as low as a beast in society of that time is emphasized by, and helps to emphasize, the sense of dangerous boundaries, of being an outsider and of having outside forces lurking in the corner of our lives. But besides these societal and Lovecraftian forces at play, we also have the protagonist's personal relationships and self-awareness bringing in a sad, touching thread of humanity struggling to survive its fall. I also enjoyed having the story flip to another character's view in the middle to give us another layer to the horror. Highly recommended listen. The narrator was spot on, and gave justice to different character accents. Get it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Witness

  • By: K. J. Parker
  • Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
  • Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 28

When you need a memory to be wiped, call me. Transferring unwanted memories to my own mind is the only form of magic I've ever mastered. But now I'm holding so many memories, I'm not always sure which ones are actually mine anymore. Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I'm trying to bury....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Highest recommendations

  • By Brandi Donathan on 07-16-16

A discomforting build-up of bad memories

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

Reviewed: 03-22-16

The latest read in my novella reading spree, and I have to say, I'm starting to form the opinion that novellas are the best, though yes, of course, it would depend on the story being told. Regardless, this was an excellent experience for my reading preferences, and I'm now impatient to read another story by K. J. Parker. This novella is a close character study of a despicable jerk with the ability to take people's memories away and make them his own. Not the kind of book you'll come away feeling happy about, especially after the last lines regarding how evil and ruinous love is and other such (I really want to quote those lines but they were the climax all of the events of the novella were building towards and I recommend you go experience that build-up yourself), but I did come away very satisfied with the twists and the follow through on every narrative thread and character flaw. Highly recommended for its exploration of memory manipulation, especially if you enjoy stories which follow the morally damned yet fascinating.

  • This Census-Taker

  • By: China Miéville
  • Narrated by: Matthew Frow
  • Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 70

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries - and fails - to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape. When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over. But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absorbing fog-wrapped dark fairytale

  • By RYLAND on 03-13-16

Absorbing fog-wrapped dark fairytale

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

Reviewed: 03-13-16

I listened to this twice, because I loved my first listen so much that I wanted to experience more of the atmosphere. I also wondered if I could find any more definitive answers regarding the questions raised. I could not. I did find much more clarity, piecing together bits and possibilities. It was a wonderfully unnerving puzzle to pick back through. There is an astonishing clarity regarding the world this story is set in, even as it resolutely sticks to its mysteriousness. That's part of the joy of reading this. Certainly a story that begs a second or third reading soon after listening to its last words. It's one of those books that loves being obscure and avoids easy answers, and yet is fully worth the extra time to let the story seep in further.

There are a number of darkly fantastical aspects to the narrator's childhood and figuring out exactly what they all mean for the narrator then and now is a big part of the pull of the narrative. From the start it's made very clear that we cannot trust the narrator, as there is confusion over the events in an innocent but haunting manner. It was well-wrought mix of the gothic and magical realism.

The point-of-view of This Census-Taker actually reminded me of the beginning third of Embassytown (Mieville's best in my opinion), in that Avice, the narrator in Embassytown, also felt innocent and confused and untrustworthy. However, there is certainly much more clarity that is revealed toward the end of Embassytown. This Census-Taker doesn't do that end reveal stuff. There's a reveal, sure, but it only presents further questions.

So yeah, if you need answers and trustworthy narrators, this is probably not for you.. If you love fathomless questions and mystery, give this two listens or more.

The narration for the audio was an excellent match.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Watch Me Burn

  • The December People, Book Two
  • By: Sharon Bayliss
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard. His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl - who happens to be a summer witch - begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • interesting characters with complex relationships

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 06-10-16

Tension & mystery builds between seasonal wizards

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

Reviewed: 03-13-16

I liked this one better than the first installment in Sharon Bayliss’ The December People. It felt more focused and had more mystery to it, and best of all, more exploration of the variety of magic and wizard types.

We’re immediately brought back in to an odd forgetfulness and obsession with a missing person that has affected David Vandergraff, and while this may seem familiar to those who read Book 1, which David himself comments on to his known-to-be manipulative wife, it also becomes more complicated and significant as the plot continues on, affecting other wizards as well. At first, it might seem his wife is playing her head games with David again, and David is trying to play hero in the same way as the last book, but it is basically set up for a bigger clash with opposing powers. It’s paced well and is pretty fun to follow how the family falls apart this time. We also get repercussions from the last book clearly affecting the characters, so that linkage is another strong point of Book 2.

The deeper exploration of the magic system and the world of wizards was nice. We get a better taste of all sides of the spectrum, with wizards from all seasons involved, and much more than just the brief experience with summer wizards we had in the first book. It’s great to have wizards who are normal people, not exaggerated or made overly epic, complicated and human and real, and I think I could really see what Sharon Bayliss is trying to do there. I want more of that.

Honestly, I wish the book was longer, so we could explore the world building here in more depth, but the book is more interested in keeping the pace moving forward. That would be main complaint, that we are not allowed many moments to digress from the plot and spend some longer moments with these interesting relationships and characters. Especially when it comes to the tensions between clashing seasons of wizards, I wanted to see more of their lives and struggles with both the magical and non-magical.

Still, despite that complaint of mine, it is a solid book and perfect in audio form. I have read some fantasy that divulges into more world building exploration that I love, but they are not enjoyable in audio form because they require some re-reading and extra work to fully grasp. This is not such a book. So, my recommendation is that you grab this series in audio, and leave the longer, meatier fantasy for paperback.

  • Destruction

  • The December People, Book 1
  • By: Sharon Bayliss
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice. Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can't imagine living without.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fantasy for adults not YA

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 03-30-16

Winter Wizards tread carefully for death looms.

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

Reviewed: 02-18-16

Any additional comments?

I received a code for the audio book in exchange for an honest review, and I'm very thankful I was given the chance to experience The December People. It wasn't perfect, but it was an enjoyable read. It works well for audio, because the language and dialogue is fairly easy-to-understand, and the story flows well. I recommend giving it a try. The review below avoids spoilers, so fear not and read on.


Anyway, I'd read it for the magic system, the moments of conflict between seasonal wizards, and the internal moral conflicts within several characters. Quick listen and very worth it for those moments.

The audio? Excellent. Flows and the reader does a good job of separating different characters. He doesn't go into full-on acting mode, which I do like some readers to do, but he does keep up good flow and is easy to understand.

What was good? Excellent opening chapters. They pulled me in and wrapped me up in a major dilemma of the MC like any good book should. It touched clearly on what the issues were and would continue to be, while not giving away the deeper issues that would come clear later in the story. The death and looming destruction suggested a story I wanted to keep listening to, and overall we get that, with characters trying to understand or deal with a death, conflicts between family members, mistakes and wrong-doings tearing the family apart, and a gradual introduction to a world of magic that received a lot of thought. Seasons and months affect what kind of wizard you are and what other wizards you can get along with, and what kind of magic you use. There are talismans that I'll let you read to find out more about, but they were probably one of my favorite elements of the magic system within this novel, as they integrate well with real world systems of faith, relationships, and general spirituality. The parts where the author lets us see characters and their magic really affecting the setting were great. All of this makes me want to read Book 2.

What didn't work for me was the dialogue and the final chapters. First, the dialogue felt overused. I prefer dialogue to be as embedded in deeper description as possible, and I dislike constant "he said" and "she said" in my dialogue, and I felt like that's what I was getting. For an audio book, I'd say this wasn't bad, it was easy to listen to, but I would've preferred it to be paired with more description than I felt I was getting on my first listen. It felt like info drops were often handled through dialogue, when there were a couple moments I wanted to see the characters illustrate the magic system more through their actions. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic moments where we do get that - one of my favorites was when the summer people come to visit the winter people (I'm leaving out the details of exactly who and why in order to avoid spoilers) and it's like a bomb is about to go off. Well-done. These moments make me on board for Book 2.

The other issue for me was that it felt like the ending fizzled. I'd say the threads were brought to a decent ending, and it did fit in with a decent plot line, but I wonder if that's the issue. It didn't quite match some of the beginning promises, as I felt like with what we'd learned of magic and destruction, some characters were let off too easy. As I said, the opening chapters were fantastic, which may be exactly what led me to be disappointed with the ending.

One more good point I'd like to add, the other does do a good job of creating characters who are not perfect. At first I thought this story would be all about how awful the husband is, but then I kept getting details that showed how every character had made or was making mistakes that their friends and family members would have to deal with. That rang of authenticity and good craft.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Koko Takes a Holiday

  • By: Kieran Shea
  • Narrated by: Hillary Huber
  • Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 112
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 104

Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an easy early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, Koko finds the most challenging part of her day might be deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun action

  • By Keith on 04-16-15

Fun sci-fi action

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

Reviewed: 01-07-16

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Nice fast-paced action set in a sci-fi dystopia. Dark humor, lots of violence, focused on the action and drive of the story. Some nice banter to the dialogue. I guess some are comparing it to a comic book, but my first thought was, oh, this reads sort of like a Lee Child book, which is meant to be both praise and criticism. Takes you on a fun ride for sure. I especially liked the first half, perhaps because there was more intriguing world-building going on before it was all about the action and plot threads being brought together in some typical fashion or other.

But my problem, as it was with the Lee Child I have read, is that I couldn't really get into any of the characters. They're cool, and fun to tag along with for the action and reaction that drives the plot, but I didn't find a deeper interest pulling me into their lives. As much as I wanted to with Koko and Depressus Guy (Flynn). It felt like I could've gotten that, if I'd a bit more here or there that made it meaningful for them, but Depressus was just sort've there for Flynn just because (maybe due to how messed up and dystopian everything was, but it just wasn't quite enough for me), and Koko of course was just naturally sarcastic about everything, which is fine and all, but I just didn't feel it mattered as much as it could have. I wanted a bit more pull and tug and tension there that I wasn't getting.

Still, worth a quick read when you need something light. Ironically, as dark and violent as this book felt on the surface, I needed something light after the Rick Remender comics I read at the end of 2015. Though with some of that constant push drive behind the action that has people comparing Koko Takes a Holiday to a comic, Remender's Low and Tokyo Ghost were both darker, heavier stories than this one.

Oh, yeah, Hillary Huber's narration for the audio was good. Kept me listening.

Would you be willing to try another book from Kieran Shea? Why or why not?

I'll probably try the next Koko book at some point, just to see where the author decides to take it. Makes for a quick read.

Which character – as performed by Hillary Huber – was your favorite?

Huber was a good fit for both protagonist and villain. Decent for Depressus side-kick guy, though he didn't always sound all that depressed honestly.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Would be a blast of a movie. Like a Die Hard flick.

  • The Churn: An Expanse Novella

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Erik Davies
  • Length: 2 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,397
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,211

Before his trip to the stars, before the Rocinante, Amos Burton was confined to a Baltimore where crime paid you or killed you. Unless the authorities got to you first.

Set in the hard-scrabble solar system of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate, and the upcoming Cibola Burn, The Churn deepens James S. A. Corey's acclaimed Expanse series.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Hmm...that was weird

  • By B. First on 01-13-18

Best Expanse Story

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

Reviewed: 12-28-15

This is a crime noir novella focused on a piece of backstory to Amos Burton from the main Expanse novels. While having read at least the first Expanse novel would enhance a reading of this novella, it is not necessary. The novella stands well on its own as a whole, fully-fleshed story. Much better than the other Expanse novella I read, Gods of Risk, which edged more on mere filler for me. I loved the way that, true to noir values, every character in The Churn is morally grey and broken. The idea of the Churn, while also speaking to themes that recur throughout the Expanse series, makes the events of the novella resonate with importance. Enough that, I gave this a second listening the day after I finished. The way these nobodies try to survive their harsh world made for a dark and twisted rough-and-tumble towards the inevitable ending, leaving me with a smirk. Good show.

And I have to say, despite popular opinion against the narrator of Book 4, I prefer Erik Davies' narration over Jefferson Mays.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful