LISTENER

D. Backshall

  • 54
  • reviews
  • 157
  • helpful votes
  • 202
  • ratings
  • Extinct

  • Extracted, Book 3
  • By: R. R. Haywood
  • Narrated by: Carl Prekopp
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 784
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 733
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 730

The end of the world has been avoided - for now. With Miri and her team of extracted heroes still on the run, Mother, the disgraced former head of the British Secret Service, has other ideas.... While Mother retreats to her bunker to plot her next move, Miri, Ben, Safa and Harry travel far into the future to ensure that they have prevented the apocalypse. But what they find just doesn't make sense. London in 2111 is on the brink of annihilation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Time-Travel Story

  • By Mike Pluta on 05-19-18

Haywood saved the best for last

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

Reviewed: 12-06-18

The first two books in the hot-paced time-travel Extracted trilogy were fantastic, so I had high hopes for book three, Extinct. I am thrilled to report it was the best of the series, by a long shot. Maybe my mood wouldn't allow me to notice the all the hilarity before, because it was likely there, but in this installment I certainly found countless laugh-out-loud absurdity and raucous adventure. Something about big, gruff Mad Harry Madden in short denim shorts, preparing to step into a future culture of men with boobs and pirate makeup, had me choking coffee out my nose. (I know, right? It sounds ridiculous, but it totally worked) The team's F-this and Bloody-that banter constantly interrupted by a future AI monitoring conversations -- "Unknown adult male [female], the use of revolting, abusive or insulting words is prohibited in this public place" -- absolutely added to the hilarity.

Through the blood and gore Mother and her team inflict on a Roman Army, 1945 London and everything else in the timeline she can touch, I was panicked that the right timeline might never win out. And yes, I spent most of the book totally baffled by the jumps from Cretaceous to 126 A.D. to 2111, wondering what, if anything, they'll find each time they check. It didn't take much for me to let go of reason and watch Miri's team whirl through time, forgetting the questions and just riding their terrifying wave.

R.R. Haywood is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors. The guy who reads these audiobooks, Carl Prekopp, is already in my narration hall of fame. Prekopp's ability to distinguish between characters with tone and accents is astoundingly precise, and he gave each one a voice I felt was real as I listened. This is a rare case where I believe the audio version is an enhancement over the written word.

  • Freehaven Online Dragonsbane: A LitRPG Adventure

  • By: Jun Prince
  • Narrated by: Amy Landon
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 125
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 118
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 117

Freehaven Online is more than a game to Justine. By day, she creates monsters for the world, by night she's raiding dungeons. Most importantly, it's her one connection to her dead brother whose buffs still linger within the game. When his virtual shrine is threatened by an update, Justine reforges his guild to complete the Dragonsbane quest in his honor. As an experienced tank, she's no stranger to the bandit attacks, PvP combat, and dragons Freehaven will throw at her. Little does she know, a hacker organization known as Archangel tampers with the update.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A look at grief via gaming

  • By Ray Johnson on 11-04-18

A fine entry into LitRPG if you're a newb

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

Reviewed: 12-03-18

This is my first foray into LitRPG, and what a nice surprise! Stepping out of my comfort zone was fun, and I believe I have found a new genre to add to my favorites list! If all LitRPG is this much fun, it may become my latest obsession. My sons, both early 20s, listened in a bit while I was enjoying this audiobook in the car, and they thought it held up well to similar books in the genre.

That said, I do think a good part of my excitement here comes from this particular novel, Dragonsbane. The held-hostage-in-a-VR-world premise, the world building, the endearing characters (especially Justine/Mel), the audio narrator, the writing in general -- it all came together into a thrilling and fun adventure. The fact that I've finished and am still insanely curious to find out what happens to the new guild and what happened to the original Toxic Muffin guild members proves this was a story well done. I do hope the originals appear in the next book.

For those of you wondering, I don't believe it would take a gamer to enjoy this novel, but it definitely requires a bit of knowledge about high fantasy role playing games to understand all the lingo. And while the narrator definitely gave a valiant effort to the multitude of voices and accents, you might need to let go of some expectations of authenticity. Maybe 1% of the narrators out there could hit all those accents out of the park, and Amy is good, but she's not *that* good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • In Times Like These

  • By: Nathan Van Coops
  • Narrated by: Neil Hellegers
  • Length: 13 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 758
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 714
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 714

Benjamin Travers has been electrocuted. What's worse, he and his friends have woken up in the past. As the friends search for a way home, they realize they're not alone. There are other time travelers, and some of them are turning up dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Time Travel Adventure

  • By Thomas on 10-26-16

Excellent beginning to a rollicking series

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

Reviewed: 11-25-18

What a fun audiobook! Truth be told, I have a serious love-hate relationship with time travel books. They tend to irritate me, because they become so outlandish and contradictory that they make even the show Supernatural seem plausible.

But this one didn't completely butcher current science. It explained away a lot of the complexities in an almost satisfying (though vague) way. And the characters, while not as developed as I would have liked, were worth cheering on toward their goals. It was engaging, enjoyable, not at all flashy or hyped, and easy to read -- exactly the kind of brain candy for when work gets crazy and my mind needs an effortless and fanciful distraction.

I'll definitely pick up the next book in the series, The Chronothon. I want to find out what time has in store next for Ben/Benjamin/Benji and his friends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror with Meg: Origins

  • By: Steve Alten
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,446
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,355
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,348

On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean's deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom. The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he's sure he saw but still can't prove exists-Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark. The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best Ocean Thriller Since Jaws!!

  • By Natalie on 04-25-14

The disappointment I should have expected

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

Reviewed: 11-25-18

MEG is exactly the kind of bio-adventure novel I love to hate. "Could it happen?" is the kind of question that truly excites me, but when it's so ridiculous I think I can't stand it? Lord help me, I still have to see it through. If you watched even the first Sharknado on SyFy, you know *exactly* what I'm talking about.

Supposedly this book has been used by school teachers to inspire interest in science, but honestly, I can't see it. Sure, the theoretical science was carefully (and repetitively) laid out, but all in all the story and the cheese -- OMG SO MUCH CHEESE -- drown out any hopes of this novel impacting someone seriously. It's so far-fetched, swashbuckling and dramatic, it begs you to laugh, not learn, along with it. If you didn't look away in horror -- in a 'how did someone even write this' kind of way -- while our hero, Jonas, was using a fossilized MEG tooth to cut his way through the innards of a live MEG, you must have already turned your cheese filter up to 11.

Will I go on to book two? Nah. There is so much quality bio-adventure out there, I don't think I could respect myself in the morning if I went back for more of this testosterone-poisoned nonsense. Michael C. Grumley writes some seriously plausible bio-adventures that don't have me dizzy from rolling my eyes, and I know there are plenty more authors out there trying to keep the bio-adventure cheese-free for me.

  • Skitter

  • A Novel
  • By: Ezekiel Boone
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 122
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 113

First there was the black swarm that swallowed a man whole, the suspicious seismic irregularities in India that confounded scientists, the nuclear bomb China dropped on its own territory without any explanation. Then, scientist Melanie Guyer's lab received a package containing a mysterious egg sac; little did Dr. Guyer know that almost overnight, Earth would be consumed by previously dormant spiders that suddenly wanted out.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • B movie creepiness and action at its best

  • By S. Yates on 05-25-17

Oh chicken biscuits!

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

Reviewed: 11-25-18

The second in Boone's Hatching (spiderpocalypse?) series is just as darkly humorous and terrifying as the first installment. Humor is so hard to write, but Ezekiel Boone sets the perfect tone with his absurd descriptors, jabs, sarcasm and perfectly outrageous banter.

The spider outbreak which began in The Hatching is proving impossible to contain, so in Skitter we watch the bigwigs in Washington deliberate and finally decide to go with the drastic Spanish Protocol, designed to be "a last-ditch way of stopping the spread of something that is inherently unstoppable". In other words, "Operation Bomb the Crap out of Everything and Leave People to Fend for Themselves". Will it work? Perhaps, but in the meantime those skittering little monsters are going to wreak some serious havoc and leave a lot of scientists scratching their heads.

The perfect balance of horror and humor is what keeps me coming back to this series. Every paragraph offers something newly absurd or ridiculous to enjoy. I was especially entertained by the narrator having to read the entire name of The Interstate 80 High Times Truck Stop and Family Fun Zone Restaurant and Gas Station Taco Bell Pizza Hut Starbucks KFC Burrito Barn 42 Flavors Ice Cream Extravaganza Coast-to-Coast Emporium over and over. On paper it's not nearly as interesting, but read aloud it's way better than any limerick.

As well, I really love how we don't focus exclusively on just a handful of heroes in these novels. We move around the globe to see how the spider infestation affects everyone, from Marines in America's ground zero of LA, to some guy exploring a temple in India, to a bored-to-tears group in the nicest out-of-the-way shelter I've ever heard of, to a family in a remote island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. We follow a few main groups of people, for consistency, but we also get an up close and personal view from a variety of "redshirts (a Star Trek reference, if you are wondering) as they come face to face with egg sacs and hatching, skittering, biting arachnids.

  • The Silver Ships

  • The Silver Ships, Book 1
  • By: S.H. Jucha
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,472
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,370
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,372

An explorer tug captain, Alex Racine detects a damaged alien craft drifting into the system. Recognizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make first contact, Alex pulls off a daring maneuver to latch on to the derelict. Alex discovers the ship was attacked by an unknown craft, the first of its kind ever encountered. The mysterious silver ship's attack was both instant and deadly.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Smart protagonists!

  • By William R. Brown on 05-28-16

An original premise and a cool start to a series

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

Reviewed: 09-23-18

What an original sci-fi novel!

I've read plenty of sci-fi that quickly fits into a predictable "Oh, it's one of those" category, but The Silver Ships has a premise I had not encountered before.

Here we have two civilizations, originating from Earth at basically the same time, when its resources were drained beyond repair. The peoples were equipped with the same technology of the time, but brought different cultures with them as they escaped to worlds unknown. The differing peoples were unaware of other survivors, and focused on surviving and growing (apart) as their situations dictated.

Fast forward a millenia, and they find each other. Marvelling at how differently they have evolved is only part of how this story will excite and surprise you. I won't give anything away, but yeah, it's worth a read to find out what happens and what may be in store as the series progresses.

  • Hardly Even Rich

  • A Short Story
  • By: Dennis Canfield
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Three million dollars, illegal drugs, and a woman with a violent history - what could possibly go wrong? Brian Jeffries is a life insurance agent who's willing to cut corners if he must to sell a policy. It's all fine until the death of a client puts everything he values at risk.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE...

  • By Victoria Haugen on 09-10-18

Prepare for things to escalate quickly!

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

Reviewed: 09-23-18

What an exciting short story! Hardly Even Rich blends the sins of pride, greed, envy and wrath into one all-too-realistic spiral of events.One small lapse in judgment is all it takes sometimes, and in this case, a man's seemingly insignificant exception to a rule, paired with a woman's brazen greed, enables a huge nightmare for many.

What would I do in the same situation? That's the question you can't help but ask yourself as the feces hit the fan.

The narration for this short was remarkably well done by Nick Podehl. His work is worth searching out if you're looking for well-narrated books to add to your wish list.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Copycat

  • By: Alex Lake
  • Narrated by: Karen Cass
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 84

When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house. And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I highly recommend reading the physical book

  • By Mariam on 10-16-17

This was awesome! Why all the mediocre reviews?

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

Reviewed: 09-19-18

I put off reading Copycat for almost a year, because the reviews said it was merely "good", not thrilling or life-changing or even great. How I wish now I'd gone with my gut and jumped on it when it was released! I give it five enthusiastic stars.

Copycat falls into the category of a currently popular type of mystery novel: a female character witnesses something that affects her personally, she tries to warn people and figure out what's going on, NO ONE BELIEVES HER, and her sanity circles the drain as she tries to salvage her relationship, job, family, everything through some kind of resolution of the situation. I have to admit I love this kind of novel, and can never get enough of these frustrating but thrilling stories. The Woman in Cabin 10 and Baby Teeth are good recent examples of similarly structured novels that were also well-written and compelling.

Sarah, the main character, finds out she's becoming the victim of identity theft. Not in the old-fashioned taking-all-her-money way, but in the much more violating impersonation way. Someone created extra accounts in her name and is posting pics, sending emails and texts, and basically effing with her in strange ways. Sarah and her husband shrug it off as nonsense, but it ramps up quickly into something that seems too real and too perfect to be blamed on an outsider. When fingers start pointing at Sarah for sabotaging her own life, things go off in ways all of us can relate to.

While I didn't agree with how all of this was handled as it "went down", I can see how one might react similarly in real life. Books like this, that beg you to formulate a game plan and ask plenty of "what if?" questions, are important. In the 21st century, where more of our interactions are electronic than in-person, being faced with this kind of scenario is fairly probable. We *should* be scared, and we should be prepared, for when imposters try to invade our personal lives, hiding behind the veil of The Cloud.

  • The Fall of the House of Usher - Unabridged

  • By: Edgar Allan Poe
  • Narrated by: Kevin Theis
  • Length: 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

"The Fall of the House of Usher" tells the tale of Roderick and Madeline Usher, ailing siblings who inhabit a gigantic mansion that is, as they are, slowly deteriorating.   

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Classic story with a great narrator

  • By Spooky Mike on 09-18-18

Old school dramatization of a creepy story

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

Reviewed: 09-08-18

Narrator Kevin Theis gets totally into 19th century character for this creepy Edgar Allen Poe story. At a little less than an hour, it's more than worth your time to give it a listen. This dramatization allows you to drift back to a time when horror was less about gore and more about getting inside your head to free your worst nightmares.

  • Girls' Night Out

  • A Novel
  • By: Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke
  • Narrated by: Karen Peakes
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 471
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 408
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 408

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Waste of time.

  • By Yikes on 07-25-18

Much ado about nothing except drama and more drama

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

Reviewed: 08-01-18

I was so excited for this book, and bought it the day it came out. A travel adventure gone awry? I absolutely love that stuff!

And then once I dove in, I was like "ehh, this isn't all that". Thankfully the narrator was pretty good, or I would have dropped off within the first hour.

Truthfully, the girl drama was way over-the-top for me. It was MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. I get that people develop resentements, and I can accept how a long history can inspire some strong feelings, but the angst driving the plot here seemed so very contrived. If I personally knew women who were this dramatic and resentful, I'd have closed them out of my inner circle long ago. Life is too short for such exasperating entanglements.

So a whole book about three drama queens, without much going on besides their constant arguments, secrets and back-biting, didn't add up to anything compelling for me. Was it interesting? For the most part, kind of. Mostly I just grew to dislike each of them and their pettiness, and I don't think that was really the authors' point.

The litmus test: Was I dying to get back to the book, to find out what happened to Ashley? What would happen with the Revlon deal? Whether or not Marco was a bad guy? Nope, nope, and nope.

And a couple questions about the men were never answered, things that could have spiced up the story a bit. Were the women honest about them? We'll never know.

And there you have it. Three stars, because while it was well written, there just wasn't enough meat to it for me to state "yeah, that made for a good story".