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Larry

groveport, OH, United States
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  • 69
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  • Breeds, Book 1

  • By: Keith C. Blackmore
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,445
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,373
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,371

In a near-deserted coastal village, odd things are happening. Strangers are asking questions about the town's recluse. A local hunter discovers naked footprints in the snow. The stray dog population has ceased to exist. And with winter's most powerful weapon bearing down, things are about to become much, much worse. A werewolf book. Not a romance. Not at all.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Add another feather in Keith's cap!

  • By J.C. on 05-16-18

Outstanding atypical werewolf story

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

Reviewed: 01-29-17

Breeds is a new and fresh take on the werewolf genre. It starts with a grumpy (to put it mildly) old man and, within the first 5 minutes, you are hooked. No teenager angst, no “oh woe is me, I just want to be liked” here. This is a story about werewolves hunting and not being apologetic about it. The synopsis available on Audible/Goodreads is sufficient and I would recommend avoiding spoilers; experience the book with open eyes and you will enjoy the discoveries. Now, there are some new twists introduced that are not in the typical werewolf story (not gonna ruin the surprises with spoilers) and kudos to Mr Blackmore for the inventiveness of his plot. He certainly has built a novel plot worthy of further exploration in future books and, after finishing Breeds, Book 1, in two days, I immediately purchased the aptly named “Breeds, Book 2”, because, frankly, I simply didn’t want the adventure to end. Thankfully, Book 2 picked up immediately where Book 1 left off and was just as satisfying but ended on an excellent cliffhanger that has me “jonesing” for the third and final installment of the trilogy (not out yet as I write this, damnit!).

Sean Runnette is the voice talent/performer of this excellent audiobook. I immediately recognized him from Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series and, honestly, it took me a few minutes to disassociate the ZF experience with his voice and get in the mindset of a new, unfamiliar book. But after that initial “audio vertigo”, it was totally worth it. Mr Runnette completely owned every character and provided unique voices to all, male and female. In addition, he expertly built tension into the story with his pacing and nuanced performance. His professional and unique performance made an excellent book a “must-hear” movie-of-the-mind audio experience.

Bottom line: Breeds is among the best werewolf books I have listened to. Fyi, the only werewolf audiobook I can think of that is better off the top of my head is “Monster Hunter Alpha” by Larry Correia so Mr Blackmore is in rarified literary territory and is to be congratulated when his only real competition is the unsurpassable MHI franchise.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Cthulhu Armageddon

  • By: C. T. Phipps
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 306
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 288

Cthulhu Armageddon is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other "talking" monsters).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awesome.

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 11-07-16

Cthulhu updated and taken to the next logical step

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

Reviewed: 11-23-16

Cthulhu Armageddon is an outstanding addition to the Cthulhu mythos and faithful to the sanity-warping vision of H.P. Lovecraft. As someone who has listened to several of Lovecraft’s tales over the years, I can appreciate the obvious respect the author demonstrates for the Cthulhu genre while he solidly lays the foundation of his own unique new chapter that I believe Mr. Lovecraft would approve of. Of particular note, the author’s depiction of a devastated wasteland as a result of the rising of the Great Old Ones was expertly done while leaving plenty of room for further exploration in the upcoming sequel, The Tower of Zhaal, available in a few months (info courtesy of the author via his blog).

The synopsis found on Goodreads is a little misleading. It isn’t exactly wrong but it definitely doesn’t do the novel’s plot justice or inform the reader/listener enough. I was under the impression it was a Wild West version of an apololyptic tale involving Cthulhu. Forget the “Wild West’ part. The story is the equivalent of a squad leader who sets out to avenge his murdered soldiers and kill the Evil Professor who has gained Power from the Old Ones amidst the remnants of the fallen human civilization and survive the various factions of survivors living in the wasteland that the Earth has become as a result of the Great Old Ones’ rising. The story is not as simplistic as my description and there are many surprises and twists in the plot, but I think the above is enough to inform without ruining the pleasure of discovering for yourself the surprises in this excellent book. Just don’t expect a “Man With No Name” character/story…

The outstanding performance by Jeffrey Kafer really added to the various moods evoked by this novel. From the gruffness and stoicism of a combat veteran hunting horrors from beyond space-time to the machinations of a psychic/witch to the innocence of a child who has had her world turned upside down to a likeable ghoul trying to hold onto his humanity, Mr. Kafer’s narration/performance was spot on and added that extra ingredient that results in an audiobook that the listener is simply unable to stop listening to. Mr. Kafer has rapidly established his narration pedigree with quality performances and, having more than a handful of audiobooks with his narration, he has never disappointed. While I have listened to several of Mr. Phipps’ audiobooks and enjoyed them all (they were all narrated by Mr, Kafer), seeing that this narration was by Mr. Kafer was the deciding factor for spending my hard-earned Audible credit on Cthulhu Armageddon.

If you are not familiar with the Cthulhu mythos, I recommend hitting the library and I am sure you will find many audiobooks and print editions available. If you just want a taste to see if the genre is for you, I recommend the approximately 20 minute tale called “Dagon”. There are many tales to choose from, but Dagon is a particular favorite of mine. Anyways, it should serve as a good introduction and litmus test for your interest of the genre. Just be aware that this genre does not (and should not!) have many happy moments. Due to the Powers involved, there are no happy endings, the good guys don’t win, and characters are going to die.

Bottom line: Cthulhu Armageddon was an excellent listening experience. It benefitted from an excellent plot, suspense, vision, and a professional vocal performance that resulted in me finishing this riveting 8hr 30min audiobook in one day and immediately wanting more. I will be the first to preorder the sequel. Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Imperium

  • Caulborn, Book 1
  • By: Nicholas Olivo
  • Narrated by: Ian McEuen
  • Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 405
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 375
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 373

Vincent Corinthos has two things going for him: he's a top operative of a secret agency tasked with handling paranormal threats, and he's half-god. Normally that's a combo that leaves him well-equipped to handle any problems that come his way. Until now. Something is snatching Boston's most powerful paranormal entities right off the streets. Vampires, lycanthropes, fae, gremlins - no one is safe. No ransom notes, no bodies, no witnesses.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I enjoyed this audio book immensely!

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 06-27-16

Surprisingly excellent and original Urban Fantasy

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

Reviewed: 08-17-16

Imperium caught me by surprise only 10 minutes into it by how good it was. Original, imaginative, and complex all apply but what really threw me was how polished this inventive urban fantasy was. I have read/listened to many freshman and sophomore entries of the urban fantasy genre and, while most are good and a few are excellent, less than a handful of the freshman attempts achieve the sophistication, world-building, and tight plotting that Imperium does. Imperium is an outstanding novel and the first entrant to what promises to be an exceptional series called The Caulborn.

Vincent, our noble protagonist, is a demi-god living in Boston and working for a clandestine agency who polices the hidden supernatural elements of modern society. The synopsis for Imperium found on Audible/Goodreads is sufficient for an intro, just let me say that there are so many elements of growth and exploration available in this remarkable world Mr Olivo has built that I don’t see any of the tired and stale plot situations that one can readily find in some other Urban Fantasy series making an appearance in this series if you choose to follow it. I would even like some backstory, maybe even a prequel (which I usually detest), the story and characters are just that damn interesting. The supporting characters, not just the main character, are “fleshed out” wonderfully and their interactions are believable.

Ian McEuen delivered a superb performance and contributed significantly to my enjoyment of the audiobook. He had many unique voices for not only a lot of characters but a lot of species and did a wonderful job of keeping all of those unique voices tied to unique characters. Mr McEuen’s voices were so distinctive that I built mental images of the characters based solely on the particular nuanced voice he gave them. I haven’t heard a performance by Mr McEuen before, but with his professional performance of Imperium, I have no doubt he will be a Voice in demand. He delivered a nuanced performance that built tension when required and levity when appropriate.

In short, if you like the Urban Fantasy genre, Imperium deserves your attention and your hard-earned credit. With its marvelous world-building and unique characters coupled with a masterful narration performance, Imperium should serve as a wake-up call to the rest of the genre that they had best up their game or this upstart new author will show them how it should properly be done!

I received this audiobook for free in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. It has no impact on my review, positive or negative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Balance

  • The Divine Book One
  • By: M.R. Forbes
  • Narrated by: Jeff Hays
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 648
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 600

My name is Landon Hamilton. Once upon a time I was a twenty-three year old security guard, trying to regain my life after spending a year in prison for stealing people's credit card numbers. Now, I'm dead. Okay, I was supposed to be dead. I got killed after all; but a funny thing happened after I had turned the mortal coil...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surprisingly good!

  • By Raymond on 05-12-14

Fresh and unique urban fantasy novel

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

Reviewed: 07-18-16

Balance is a very good and unique entry in the already overly crowded urban fantasy genre. Balance is the first book of a 6 book series (so far, as of 7/16). If you are tired of the same old story of a magic using private investigator, give Balance a try. It is an enjoyable and interesting take on Good vs Evil and explores the possibility and responsibilities of a third party in that two party fight. I can see how there are going to be significant moral quandaries in future installments as one party or another gains the upper hand and the protagonist and his allies return balance to the conflict. It will be interesting to see how the protagonist and his allies handle them these moral dilemmas and where it takes them in their personal development.

Just a few minutes into the story our protagonist, Landon, gets killed. He wakes up in Purgatory and soon learns that he is unique: he is exactly equal parts angelic, demonic, and human and, as such, is needed to represent the cosmic force of balance in the ongoing battle between Heaven and Hell. His mission is to make sure neither party, Heaven or Hell, ever gets the upper hand because if they do, humanity will be the real loser. He is soon thrown, untrained, into the thick of things on Earth and learns that both of the forces of Heaven and Hell agree on only one thing: the representatives of Balance are universally hated and killed on sight. Landon has powers but no idea what they are or how to use them and it is interesting to see how he adapts to his circumstances. Along the way Landon picks up a few allies and their inclusion promises depth and character growth in subsequent adventures. The plot is fast-paced and easily held my attention as I finished this almost 10 hr audiobook in a day and a half. I *greatly* appreciated that the author refrained from making this an angst-ridden novel of “o woe is me, am I Good or Bad?” and had the protagonist accept his role and move on.

The narration by Jeff Hays was superb. He demonstrated remarkable skill with his voice. For example, a 10 year old girl sounded like a 10 yr old girl, not a man trying to sound like a girl (I am still trying to figure out how he did it!). There were plenty of opportunities for him to show off his talents: cultured Italian accented English, demonic and angelic voices of both sexes, rage, grief, remorse. There were several instances of appropriate and intentional overdubbing (for ex, a giggle/chuckle in the background as the character spoke) and several examples of the use of electronic voice modulation as a were-beast or angel or demon raged and it was said in the text how the character’s voice reverberated… This was an excellent example of how an audiobook experience can be more than just a book read aloud. This was simply a superb performance and it elevated a good book to very good status. I have added Mr Hays to my “Narrators-to-be-watched” category and would gladly base a buying decision on his choice as narrator/performer of that audiobook. The production quality was above average and showed an attention to detail that I normally associate with Audible Studios or Blackstone Audio productions; for production quality, a compliment doesn’t get much better than that!

Balance is a worthy entry into the urban fantasy genre and a promising start to a series with unlimited potential. The real stars of this book were the interesting premise and the excellent narration. With a lot of the character development and world building out of the way, I anticipate successive novels will be difficult for the listener to hit pause. I am definitely going to be exploring more of this interesting world and conflict Mr Forbes has given us.

I received this audiobook for free courtesy of Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for a fair and unbiased review and doing so has no effect on my review, positive or negative.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Stiletto

  • A Novel
  • By: Daniel O'Malley
  • Narrated by: Moira Quirk
  • Length: 23 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,910
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,756
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,756

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers - and the bureaucratic finesse - to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries: the Checquy - the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and the Grafters - a centuries-old supernatural threat.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Grafters take center stage

  • By Larry on 07-10-16

Grafters take center stage

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

Reviewed: 07-10-16

I rank this as a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5
In 2012, Daniel O’Malley published his debut novel “The Rook”. An instant best seller, it was nothing short of brilliant in its vision and execution and, in my opinion, the strongest and best debut of an author since Stephen King’s “Carrie”. In short, I LOVED IT! And I am not the only one with this opinion; look at the reviews on Audible or Goodreads and you will see overwhelming adoration of not only “The Rook” as a novel but the book’s protagonist, Myfawney Thomas.

2016 brings us the sequel: Stiletto. It took awhile to get to book form but, considering the tremendous height of the bar set by “The Rook”, “Stiletto” has some huge shoes to fill so I couldn’t begrudge the extra time. I had pre-ordered the audiobook a month or more in advance and stayed up late so I could download it as soon as it was available. Yep, I am a fanboy…

I was caught off-guard immediately when not only was the book narrated by Moira Quirk (as opposed to Susan Duerdan, who narrated “The Rook”), but the book is told in first person by a young Grafter woman, Odette, and a young Checquy woman, Pawn Clemens. You have to understand that Myfawney Thomas of “The Rook” inspires such feelings of loyalty (“love” wouldn’t be too strong a word also) that it is almost heresy to not have her at the forefront of its sequel. Not only is she not at the forefront, she is barely mentioned until the second half of “Stiletto”. I see it as a huge gamble by the author, but one that I believe payed off and will ultimately provide freedom to the author in future sequels. Other reviewers will probably not agree: they will say that while “Stiletto” is good, they couldn’t get into it because Myfawney wasn’t there. This is why I felt I needed to expound on Myfawney’s overwhelming influence on the success of “The Rook”: any sequel that didn’t continue with Myfawney’s first person narrative was going to be doomed to lukewarm reviews by a significant percentage of reviewers because of her absence alone, regardless of Stiletto’s plot or the author’s skill.

A brief synopsis: “Stiletto” picks up immediately following the events of “The Rook” with the proposed incorporation of the Grafters and a Grafter delegation is in London to hammer out the terms and conditions of the Grafters joining the Checquy. The Grafters are keeping secret (or trying to) the fact that they are being systematically hunted by an unknown group. Combine this with the inbred hatred the Grafters and the Checquy are taught to feel about each other from a early age and the tension is a powder keg with a lit fuse. Stiletto is told in the first person by Odette, a young Grafter woman and the Checquy guard who is assigned as her body guard, Pawn Clemens. Through their eyes, the listener/reader gets to experience the intense hatred and mistrust that each group has for the other and to contemplate what it might take to have the two groups become one without outright civil war.

Moira Quirk delivered an outstanding performance and narration. I had noticed immediately that she was not the same narrator who performed “The Rook”, but since “Stiletto” isn’t about Myfawney Thomas, it makes sense to have a different narrator and she demonstrated skill, talent, and a remarkable amount of distinct voices and accents for the myriad of characters contained in “Stiletto”.

Bottom Line: “Stiletto” is an excellent sequel to “The Rook” if the listener/reader is able to accept it on its own merit and a continuation of the Checquy's storyline. If the audience is looking for “a part two to The Rook”, he/she is going to be disappointed. At over 23 hrs of entertainment, “Stiletto” is a welcome addition to the mythos of the Checquy and will contribute significantly to its current and future success in both plotlines and fresh characters.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Esoterrorism

  • From the Secret Files of the Red Room, Book 1
  • By: C. T. Phipps
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

Derek Hawthorne was born to be an agent of the Red Room. Literally. Raised in a conspiracy which has protected the world from the supernatural for centuries, he's never been anything other than a servant of their agenda. Times are changing, though, and it may not be long before their existence is exposed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent!!!!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 08-03-16

Very good premise

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

Reviewed: 07-10-16

I rank this as a 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5
This is one of those urban fantasy novels that will have every other urban fantasy author thinking “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” It is a worthy entry into the genre and should garner quite a following for the inevitable series.

The synopsis available on Goodreads and Audible is sufficient for the plotline. In brief, it is about a James Bond type character who works for a secret global organization that polices the supernatural and keeps the existence of the supernatural from rest of the world.

I had just finished two books (the Supervillainy series) by both the same author and same narrator, had been intrigued by the premise of “Esoterrorism” and was a little curious on what I was getting into. After all, the hallmark of “Supervillainy” was the snarkiness and humor and it was portrayed well. But “Esoterrorism” sounded like a more serious minded work based on the synopsis. Let me say right here that Esoterrorism bears nothing in common with “Supervillainy”: this is a serious treatise on policing the paranormal and Jeffrey Kafer delivered a serious performance with a gravitas that I didn’t associate with him after becoming associated with his very good comedic performance of “Supervillainy”.

“Esoterrorism” isn’t as polished as a Jim Butcher/Dresden novel and the climax/showdown was a tad brief and anti-climactic for my tastes. It made me think the author hit a desired number for his word count and that it was time to wrap it up. I could be wrong but I don’t feel the plot dictated the climax as soon as it occurred, that the flow of the events and plot was a little forced if that makes sense. I don’t mean to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy the novel, just that this good novel had the potential to be a great novel. I will get the sequel when it comes out and I think this series will be one I will be following for years to come.

Jeffrey Kafer’s performance was excellent. He far exceeded my expectations in delivering a serious performance and I had difficulty reconciling that this was the same narrator I had enjoyed listening to the previous day deliver a comedic performance.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Dinosaur Four

  • By: Geoff Jones
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 295
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 276
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 279

A ticking sound fills the air as Tim MacGregor enters The Daily Edition Café, hoping to meet his new girlfriend for coffee. Moments later, the café is transported 67 million years into the past, along with everyone inside.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Dinos, Baristas, and Coffee Addicts, Oh My!

  • By Lilyn G. on 02-23-18

A fun bit of escapism

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

Reviewed: 07-04-16

It was only 30 minutes or so into “The Dinosaur 4” that I began to compare this fun audiobook to the various “creature features” available on any given weekend on the SyFy Channel. Whether it is Megladon vs Mecha-Shark or Sharknado, there is an inherent joy to be found in a little escapism mixed with the blood of characters that were too slow to get out of the way of something with rediciously large teeth. Especially so when it is well done within these mainly low-budget movies. Dinosaur 4 compares very favorably to the “Well Done” members of this genre and I could very easily see it as a SyFy movie one day. Dinosaur 4 shares many characteristics of the typical entrée of this genre: small cast of characters, a minimum of different locale changes, stereotypical characters, and (most importantly) predators with big teeth.

This 8 hour audiobook started off with a bang, wasting no time in getting to the action. Within 10 minutes of hitting play, we are back in time and can see the writing on the wall for the first victim. Character development is done on the fly and, while the characters are stereotypical in their motives and actions, it works: we have a dislike for him or her, we are rooting for that one to survive, we have the 70 yr old widow knitting a scarf, and the 20 know-it-all punk and everyone inbetween… in short, like in the creature features, we have the annoying ones who we want to get eaten and we have the brave noble ones who we hope will save the day. We start off with 10 characters and not everyone is gonna make it to the end. And some of the victims and survivors are going to be surprises.

The performance by Nick Podehl was excellent. Mr Podehl has established himself as a new arrival to the Top Tier of professional narrators and he does not disappoint with his skilled narration. He provided unique voices and accents to each character and there was never a question of who was speaking at any given time.

I would not say The Dinosaur 4 is a literary masterpiece, but then again, it isn’t supposed to be. It is simply a well written, fun bit of escapism. I enjoyed it and I think you will also.

I received a copy of The Dinosaur 4 in exchange for a fair and unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookJukebox.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Gabriel

  • Only One Gets out Alive
  • By: Mike Evans, Shaun Phelps
  • Narrated by: Jack Wallen Jr.
  • Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

In 2013, terrorists struck the Chicago Marathon. It took more than just people; it took their peace of mind and security for the entire country. For Jacob August it took his entire family. After the bombing his life was changed forever. Abandoning his parents' dreams of his education at medical school, he became America's most deadly CIA assassin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • jack ryan meets batman

  • By Jeff on 05-22-15

Very Good Assassin Story Without the Angst

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

Reviewed: 07-03-16

I was pleasantly surprised by this assassin novel. It started off knee-deep in action, let off a tad for a very brief but interesting backstory, and kicked some significant butt all the way to the conclusion.

The brief synopsis available on Audible and Goodreads is sufficient. This is one of those books that is best when the listener/reader doesn’t know what is coming next and I highly recommend avoiding spoilers for this fast-paced story. There are some very good plot twists and the ending was quite good, serving as a stand-alone novel while leaving the window open for sequels.

The narration by Jack Wallen, Jr was very good. I initially thought his voice for Gabriel was too quiet and was expecting more of a “Scott Brick bad-assedness” type voice but after only a few minutes I became comfortable with the narration and Gabriel’s portrayal. Mr Wallen’s performance was admirable, with distinct voices and many accents/dialects and there was never a question of which character was speaking at any given time. This was my first audiobook with Mr Wallen as narrator, but I am sure it won’t be my last.

I have been spoiled by Tom Wood’s “Victor the Assassin” series and, I have to admit, I was not anticipating Gabriel to be as good as it was. Gabriel compares very favorably to Victor (still my favorite). If you are looking for a novel of assassins without all of the angst (popularized by Ludlum) and you are waiting impatiently for the next Victor novel, give Gabriel a try: it will definitely serve to fill that assassin escapism in your listening.
Story (plot) :4
Performance. :4
Production Quality :3
Attention Holding. :4

I received Gabriel: Only One Gets Out Alive for free in return for a fair and unbiased review.

  • The Nightmare Stacks

  • Laundry Files, Book 7
  • By: Charles Stross
  • Narrated by: Gideon Emery
  • Length: 14 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 725
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 679
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 679

After stumbling upon the algorithm that turned him and his fellow merchant bankers into vampires, Alex Schwartz was drafted by The Laundry, Britain's secret counter-occult agency that's humanity's first line of defense against the forces of darkness. Dependent on his new employers for his continued existence - as Alex has no stomach for predatory bloodsucking - he has little choice but to accept his new role as an operative in training.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Back on Track!

  • By Michael on 06-30-16

Most action packed Laundry File yet

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

Reviewed: 07-03-16

I have to admit from the git-go that The Laundry Files series by Mr Stross is one of my top 5 series I have been following the past 5 yrs. I relisten to various books in the series often and am always amused at the absurdness of the bureaucracy that our intrepid hero, Bob Howard, has to deal with. In short, I am a big fan of Bob. Having said that, Bob is barely even mentioned in The Nightmare Stacks, the 7th novel of the series so I was inclined to dislike The Nightmare Stacks before I had downloaded it. But the series is so unique and the author so skilled at his craft that I still pre-ordered it.

The Nightmare Stacks’ protagonist is Alex Schwartz, a likable character we first meet in book 5 of the series, The Rhesus Chart. He is a “victim” of PHANG syndrome and still trying to wrap his morals around being a PHANG (not PC to use the “V” word) and struggling with how to break the news to his parents that he left his high paying job as an analyst at a bank for a civil service job. Meanwhile, series-wise, events have been rushing to bring Case Nightmare Green ever closer (as evidenced in book 6 of the series, The Annihilation Score). Well, in this book, Alex, a newbie to the magical world, is smack dab in the middle of another Case Nightmare scenario coming to a head before a shocked Britain. And that’s all for the synopsis because any more involves spoilers…

So, did I enjoy the book without Bob? Surprisingly, YES! This was a much better book than book 6 because the characters were more likable (to me, at least). We do not get to deal with the Dilbert-esque bureaucracy hell that gets so many chuckles from me usually, but Mr Stross makes up for it with action and mayhem. I do have some criticisms of the book:

1. The ending was wwwaaayyy too abrupt. Should have had a 10min epilogue to tie things up…
2. No Bob at all. He was mentioned in the second half of the book to be in Japan. That’s it.
3. No Mahogany Row action. As the series has progressed, we have been allowed to peek behind the curtains more and more to see the invisible hands guiding the Laundry. That is lacking here, even though we have a situation that drastically alters Britain, if not the world…
4. No “superpowered” players. As introduced in book 6, “superpowered” are now in the public eye. However, in this situation, not even one makes an appearance.

These criticisms are from a huge fan of the series. If you have read/listened to the series and are not an avid fan of the Laundry, then the above points may not be an issue for you.

Gideon Emery’s performance as narrator was stellar as always. If you need a British narrator/performer of your projected-to-be NYTimes bestseller, Mr Emery is your man: distinct male/female voices, nuanced performances portraying emotion and feelings combined with a master’s sense of timing and cadence, and skill at delivering that unique British sense of humor that I, as an American, will always love but never quite understand.

If you are a fan of the Laundry Files, you will enjoy The Nightmare Stacks. Action and tension are the hallmarks of this latest installment and it further advances the Case Nightmare plotline dramatically. Just don’t be expecting Bob to be making an appearance.
Story (plot) :4
Performance. :5
Production Quality :3
Attention Holding. :4

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Guardian's Grimoire

  • The Guardian Series, Book 1
  • By: Rain Oxford
  • Narrated by: Todd Menesses
  • Length: 17 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 490
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 450
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 455

Dylan thought he was an average man with a dead-end job and no great aspirations. When he finds a black book lying innocently on his lawn with peculiar words and markings, he discovers the universe is bigger than he imagined. The guardian of Earth, who kept the book and its immense power safe from falling into the wrong hands, was killed. Now Earth needs a new guardian.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Different spin

  • By erobbins33 on 01-06-16

Bogged down in usless minutiae

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

Reviewed: 06-19-16

The Guardian’s Grimoire had promise but lost its way early and never quite made sense again. There are many 5 star reviews of it on Audible and maybe my listening experience was an aberration. So, in order to justify my thoughts on this audiobook, I am going to get a tad specific. Unfortunately, this means there may be a few spoilers ahead.

*This review contains spoilers*

The Guardian’s Grimoire had promise and started out good. It didn’t require a lot of backstory to identify with the protagonist (Dylan) and his situation (college student just getting by). He finds a book on his doorstep, puts it on a shelf and forgets about it. A couple of weeks later, an imposing stranger (Edward) knocks on his door asking about the book. Soon (that night), the protagonist learns he is a wizard and must protect the book and Earth against otherworldly threats. So far, so good. Unfortunately, this is where the book goes horribly wrong, in my opinion. Dylan and Edward go to Edward’s world because Dylan is untrained, and, suddenly, I felt like I was at a comic convention and had stumbled into the “So, you want to learn to speak Klingon” seminar. The next 10 hours of this 17 hr audiobook is spent exploring, in excruciating detail, the new world Dylan is in. For example, Dylan decides he needs new clothes. Edward, who is now Dylan’s mentor, tells him it is an exceedingly dangerous trip hundreds and hundreds of miles away to get these new clothes (remember: they just left Earth because Dylan is untrained and has enemies hunting him). The next day they are on their way and we spend the next couple of audio hours learning the language of this new world, the naming conventions, the social structure, the fauna, etc. An example of more useless minutiae: we get hundred word descriptions of what each shopkeeper is wearing. And, lest I forget to mention it: the author really made a concerted effort at teaching the reader the USELESS ability at speaking his completely made-up language!!! I REALLY had to struggle to keep listening.

The narrator, Todd Menesses, did a very good job narrating and is probably the only reason I was able to finish this book. He had many distinct accents, both male and female, and was consistent in their use. The new world Dylan and Edward in has Japanese/Asian characteristics and Mr Menesses displayed skill in giving unique Asian voices to different characters.

I don’t know if Mr Oxford self-published this book but I feel it would have greatly benefited from a good editor. Mr Oxford has skill at writing, it’s just that I feel he wanted to explore “this” or “that” in particular (say, the culture) and rather than letting the characters or plot take the story there naturally, he (the author) “forced” the characters into situations or environments so he could overwhelm the listener with more useless minutiae…

This is the first book of a promised series. I would gladly consider listening to another book performed by the narrator, Todd Menesses, but I won’t be looking for the sequel to “The Guardian’s Grimoire”.

I received an audiobook copy of The Guardian’s Grimoire in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

2 of 10 people found this review helpful