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The Jesus-Video, Episodes 1-4 audiobook cover art

Not A Book, But An Experience

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

Reviewed: 06-12-19

The Jesus-Video is probably the most delightful surprise I've had on Audible. I picked it up on sale due to the interesting premise, but the low rating count lowered my expectations. I was blown away by the level of writing and production quality this book has and already downloaded its sequel. Audible needs to hire the team behind The Jesus-Video and bring them into their production house; it really is the best listening experience I've had on Audible. Each character has their own voice actor, with the narrator separate as well. There's a few sound effects placed in sensible places but not overly so and they don't crowd the dialog; just enough to set the atmosphere. Also, the music perfectly compliments the tone of the story and further heightens the drama.

The story is very unique, it can be described as Indiana Jones, meets National Treasure, meets a touch of Outlander. The archaeological aspects brings back memories of Indiana Jones while the competitive race to learn the truth reminded me of National Treasure. These two parts are really fun and exciting as different teams discover clues to the final prize. It's also fascinating to imagine what life would be like 2000-years ago and to see the events of Christ unfold before our eyes.

I also appreciate the respect the author paid to faith without pandering. In my experience books often pick a side and make it obvious who the target audience is, either disrespecting those of faith, or overly pandering to Christians. The characters and organizations act realistically and it's easy to believe this could happen in today's world.

Again, I'm very impressed with this production and has set the standard for full cast productions. The story is super fun and exciting while also drawing you into the mystery. I highly recommend this book!

Wholesale Slaughter audiobook cover art

Mechs, Pirates, and Mysteries!

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

Reviewed: 06-12-19

Wholesale Slaughter is the beginning of at least a trilogy and based on the universe built and the progress into the plot's driver, this could easily be more than just three books. This is a good thing as we're introduced to an intricate universe, interesting characters, and dynamic and exciting combat... much of it with giant mechs. I've been looking for a mech book for awhile, and I was delighted when I was given a free book credit (my review is voluntary.) As awesome as giant mechs are, it's a struggle to make them believable for the reader, and while the story addresses this point it doesn't go deep into why they're used in combat. A reference to rules and restrictions is made and although satisfies, I really want to learn more about the governing politics and why certain things exist.

The story mostly follows Jonathan Slaughter, our main character, but doesn't exclude other interesting personalities. It balances the ability to flesh out the motivations and emotions of those in the story while also connecting deeply to the main protagonist. As already mentioned, this book spends the majority of the time building out the main plot points and universe, but does close with some exciting actions. The action scenes are mostly in mechs but also very personal; mostly one on one combat. It's described in visceral detail but not overly violent or gory.

Marc Vietor is a well known narrator and he again does an excellent job here. Little effort is needed to follow the plot and speakers, and Marc's tone compliments the story nicely. I appreciated the way he described the action and brutality of the action sequences; he definitely lifted the quality of the overall story.

To summarize... although I was given the book for free, I'll be picking up the next series for myself because I've been looking for a good mech series. If you're looking for solid military sci-fi or like me, just giant mechs fighting each other, then I highly recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Coilhunter Chronicles - Omnibus (Books 1-3) audiobook cover art

Not Subtle, Not Complicated, But Fun

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

Reviewed: 05-28-19

"You're the disease, and I'm the cure." - Marion Cobretti

Lines like this were a mainstay in 80's action flicks; this gem is from the Sylvester Stallone movie, Cobra. If you recognized it and smiled, then this book is definitely for you. The Coilhunter Chronicles is 3-parts Cobra, 2-parts The Outlaw Josey Wales, and a few pinches of Firefly to round out the few sci-fi elements. Together they form a blunt force story of a bounty hunter (Coilhunter) who relentlessly pursues wanted fugitives across desert plains, distributing the only form of justice he knows how, at the end of a barrel (queue 80’s music here.)

The Coilhunter Chronicles won’t reveal anything new about the human condition, stretch your sci-fi imagination, or even deeply connect with any of the characters… but I did enjoy it. While I enjoy complex stories and characters sometimes I just want to turn off my brain and watch an old 80’s action flick. For this action flick, you exclusively follow Nox as the story’s POV and see the world through his eyes. As stated, the world isn’t complicated and most of Nox’s emotions are left out of the story but you'll watch as he tracks down each wanted fugitive. Along the way he picks up several sidekicks with their own simple motivations and experience their eventual bonding. Some conflict and tension makes it way into the stories although I wish we could have gotten more of the Josey Wales dynamic as our team learns to trust each other. I also hope to learn more about the Iron Empire, which is the ruling force in this world.

As for the narration? R.C. Bray… nuff said.

To summarize, there seems to be a complex world in here but little is fleshed out. Enough to enjoy but not enough to fully satisfy. A chocolate bar for breakfast; a guilty pleasure we can spoil ourselves to occasionally but nothing to build a healthy diet too. I received this book for free and was not asked to leave a review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

GodsRealm: Betrayal audiobook cover art

A Good Idea Ruined By Pace & Narration

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

Reviewed: 05-12-19

This is another book entering into the crowded LitRPG; following closely to the formula popularized by Ready Player One. Many LitRPG books follow two primary story arcs: a VR world with real life consequences like prize money, or being trapped in the game world with real life & death. GodsRealm follows the earlier formula and as suggested, following closely to Ready Player One in that our main characters stories take place in VR and in real life.

GodsRealm is a short book at exactly 5-hours and 30-minutes and it shows up in the story subtleties and character development. There's a rich history in GodsRealm but they're not explored deeply; quick references to the great financial crisis and how the world eventually migrated to the game world's currency of DC. There's even a short mention of crypto currencies rise and collapse. I enjoyed these tidbits as I could more easily connect with this new world, but they happen sporadically and aren't explored deeply. Likewise character development is shallow; you're quickly introduced to several characters and follow the entire group equally, rather than picking a hero's POV. This works when characters are completely fleshed out but again the shortness of the book hampers here. I will say however, that there's an amazing scene in which each main character confesses their most shameful moment. It served as a powerful moment that binds the group together but also pulled me in emotionally for their cause. A few more of these moments would greatly enhance the world Luke has put together.

Narration is my main complaint however. Dalan Decker narrates almost like a bad Japanese anime. He picks voices for some characters that were way to nasally and whiny. I couldn't help but form a mental picture of young spoiled children, not VR heroes that braved dangers. Dalan has talent and was able to emote for each character but I'd question his use of some of the voices he picked.

To summarize, there's a great story here that pulls inspiration from Ready Player One. I hope Luke does a sequel but takes the time to let the story breath, goes deeper into character development, and explorers the world he's created. I was given this book for free for an unbiased review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Captive Embers audiobook cover art

A Great Story w/ Over Acting Narrator

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

Reviewed: 04-30-19

Story:
If you love military science fiction then you'll love this story. Brian Mansur does a great job creating a universe that goes beyond the simple aliens attack human worlds and a brave lone hero emerges to defeat the threat. As much as I love those story lines, experiencing a new angle on military science fiction is quite refreshing. Brian uses several vantage points to give the listener a multi-faceted view of the story which start out separated but eventually come together to a cohesive and satisfying conclusion. Each character is unique with thought out motivations and actions lending to the believability of the story. I really enjoyed the action and drama Brian was able to weave throughout the story.

Narrator:
This is an extremely personal choice and I recommend anyone considering this book to listen to the entire sample provided. I found myself frustrated with the narrator, Scott Aiello.. He reads many sections as if they're action scenes even though nothing was at stake. This gave me a disconnect on what I was hearing versus what the narrator was emoting through the story. On the flip side, Scott does an amazing job differentiating the characters with different tones and accents. I consistency knew who was speaking throughout the book even without Brian telling me who was speaking. All this said, I did find the narration less distracting if I listened exclusively to the book instead of flipping through a few others at the same time. This is a very personal opinion so again I recommend listening to the sample.

Summary:
I was given this book for free but I'll be picking up the next one if it becomes available because I'm very interested in the world Brian created; very believable, interesting characters, and great action.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Red Rising audiobook cover art

Redefined What I Thought Five Stars Was

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

Reviewed: 11-15-17

Occasionally something comes along that completely redefines your measuring system; something so great it actually makes you rethink what great means to you. Red Rising is that experience for me. I've been an audible listener for many years and scored numerous books a five, but this book made me go back to re-score some of previous five star books to four. It’s also the book that’s making me write my first review. It's that good.

This is Pierce Brown’s first book so it’s impressive he’s been able to weave a complex futuristic/fantasy world with its own unique rules, culture, and characters. The story is told purely from a Darrow’s perspective, and is the first book that doesn’t ‘cheat’ to fill in missing story components. What I mean by ‘cheating’ is using journals, spying tech, or other story arcs to fill in the antagonist’s plan for the reader. You follow Darrow exclusively throughout the story and any surprises for him are a surprise to you the reader. I also enjoyed Darrow’s growth and mistakes. I found myself agreeing with Darrow’s reasoning even when we latter learned they were mistakes. This made every decision and story arc engaging.

It goes without saying but Tim Gerard Reynolds is a great narrator. His smooth but powerful voice fits Darrow perfectly. For this book, Darrow is Tim Gerard Reynolds. He also does fine job differentiating the characters so following the story is simple and easy.

If you’ve been on the fence to get this book, now’s the time to get it. The original trilogy is amazing, and a new set of books begin in January.

Origin audiobook cover art

Almost Perfect, But Not Quite

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

Reviewed: 09-26-17

This is an interesting story to review, because for me to explain why it missed the mark would also give away a big reveal. I absolutely loved the tone, characters, and mystery of the first 90% of the book. The characters and their motivations unfold slowly and so their actions make sense throughout the book. Characters are introduced, but then backstories are revealed to provide context to their actions. I really enjoy this type of story telling because it brings tremendous depth to the people we're following. Likewise, the primary mystery is laid out to the listener early on but you'll find yourself flipping between one theory to the next as more context is added. For me this was the best aspect of the book; and to some extent the book is a victim of its own success in that the reveal didn't live up to the hype. When a mystery is masterfully presented to the listener it can be very difficult to live up to the many theories a listener comes up with (think the TV show Lost.)

That being said, I really enjoyed the book and even with the reveal I still highly recommend it. Of course having Luke Daniels narrate the book puts you right in the middle of the story. He doesn't just narrate stories but acts them out and becomes the characters. Every one has their own voice and personality; but most impressive is his take on the antagonist. Luke Daniels does a wonderful job and takes this story above and beyond its capability.

So to close, I highly recommend the book but some may be let down slightly by the resolved mystery. Luke Daniels narrates masterfully and creates an effortless listening experience.