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Ray Johnson

Ohio
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  • Accidental Duelist

  • Accidental Champion Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Jamie Davis, C.J. Davis
  • Narrated by: Stacy Gonzalez
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

Cari Dix didn't know her whole life was a lie; she only knew she didn't belong here. Growing up with the most ordinary parents ever, all Cari wanted was a life of adventure and a little bit of fun. When she discovers an old, restored computer from her father's past, Cari stumbles into a fantasy game world she'd always thought a part of her childhood imagination. Taking her combat fencing skills with her, she sets out to explore a world her parents said didn't exist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book

  • By Mike Hickox on 08-28-18

Better than Dueling Banjo's!

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

Reviewed: 10-04-18

Ok, so we return to the land of Fantasma for another round of who will I be this time. Only not. This time it is Kari Dix who has the spotlight, and she really takes the mantle her father laid down, and runs off into the night with it. I have to admit that I was initially skeptical of someone stepping into the hero role that Hal created, but I can see that Davis and his son have really thought this one out. Kari, and accomplished fencer has been told that her memories of Fantasma are all false, and that she was basically delusional, until the Empress sends out a call for her hero to return, and Kari is inadvertently pulled into her “imaginary” world. Upon her entry she opts to become a duelist, surprise surprise, but there were a few other choices she could have made that were pretty intriguing such as a paladin. Within about ten minutes of her arrival she manages to run afoul of some men who work for the Duke, y’know the guy who is after the Empress’s throne, and is challenged to a duel. Well, as you guess it bad things happen and she ends up on the lam. The book is then devoted to her reluctantly trying to protect the last grandchild of the ailing Empress.

What is really nice about this book is that it actually breaks the format of the old series. As much as I loved Hal, it was a touch repetitive in the last book. It had become a sort of wash, rinse, repeat sort of thing with him basically restarting with a different class each time he entered Fantasma. Each book also had Hal returning back home after each of his adventures had concluded. Not here, from the way it looks it seems that Kari is going to stay in Fantasma for a while. And that, my friends, was perhaps the most refreshing part. Ninety percent of the books out there always have the main character trying to make their way back home the minute they find themselves stuck in a game they love to play. Alright, 90% is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Kari is actually reluctant to go home, and shows little to no interest in doing so. SO, I can’t go into more detail but suffice it to say the book does not end like the other books do. Also, it sort of looks like Kari will be remaining a Duelist for a while longer. Additionally, it looks like Hal, and possibly his wife might be returning to Fantasma as well. Hmmm, maybe one of them will become a cool paladin! We’ll see.
Now, one change that I am not doing cartwheels over is that Roberto Scarlato didn’t return for this series. It is a real shame because I am a huge fan of his, and he was sorely missed. Although, from talking to Jamie and C.J. at the Dover Comic Con this year (where I got this totally awesome signed book, MY FIRST SIGNED book!) they told me that Roberto will be narrating his Extreme Medical Services series, in which a Paramedic helps humans and monsters alike. It isn’t LITRPG, but it is something I will be getting. But I digress. As I was saying, Scarlato isn’t returning because Stacy Gonzalez has taken over the accidental champion reigns, and is now leading the team with her vocal charms. She is new to me, but she seems to handle things fairly well. Now, I’m not going to lie. She does do voices, but her male impersonations are not as strong as they could be. There were a few times that I had to wonder who was speaking, and I almost wondered if they were female or not. But it isn’t like that with all of her male voices, just some. I chalk that up as a rookie thing, I think that this is only her 6th book that she has narrated, so I can cut her some slack. From what I’ve heard, once she gets her footing, she is going to become a really great narrator. She does this series some serious justice, and that is really all that matters.

The book is fun and is family friendly, if you don’t mind some killing every now and then. Kari, as much as I resisted her replacing Hal, I think that she has some real depth, and brings a new perspective to Fantasma that I really enjoyed. I have to say that I like the new format of the stories, so it isn’t a one and done kind of deal anymore, and that I have seen some serious improvements over all, there are a lot of changes to Fantasma, and it doesn’t feel like a “The Emporer is evil and oppressive” kind of tale. There is a lot more going on, and things are not so straight forward. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Invisible Carrier: A Bigfoot Horror Story

  • By: Roma Gray
  • Narrated by: JD Kelly
  • Length: 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

People are dying in the Northwest area of the United States and Canada from a terrible plague. The small towns bordering the forests have been hit the hardest, and no matter how closely the citizens follow the quarantine protocols, somehow the illness keeps spreading. It makes no sense, the towns are remote and isolated and the only thing they have in common are the vast, interconnected forests. It is almost as if it is being spread by an animal, but that theory doesn’t hold water. They know that the virus can only be spread by animals similar to humans…like a primate.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Only chapter one!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 09-18-18

Bigfoot, Bats, bugs (virus type), and blood

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

Reviewed: 10-04-18

Roma Gray seems incapable of just providing a straight up monster story. Ask for a bigfoot story, and she has to add in all sorts of extra levels of craziness just to prove to you that she can out unexpect you unexpectations! I always expect the unexpected, so she tosses in a few more monkey wrenches, just to keep readers like me off balance. This is sort of like Outbreak meets the Beast of Boggy Creek. You know things are bad when someone in a hazmat suit shows up in the neighborhood, but then if the 'hood is already covered in blood and bodies that have been mauled by what looks to be a rabid grizzly bear on steroids AND viagra you know that crap is gonna fly. At jet speed.

When I first listened to this, my first thought was if this is going to be the first chapter in a full book, then I hope that she is going to combine this with the shadow story she did earlier this year. It could just be that a crap ton of paranormal stuff is hitting all at once, and the govt is straining to keep things in check. Even if that isn't the case, and this is just going to be a straight up Bigfoot book then I'm in. I'm sold. Just hook up my IV now crack dealer, just hook it up and walk away.

JD Kelly narrates this story, just like he did with Black Shadows, and that might be why my mind went there so fast, but damn if that doesn't prove that these stories shouldn't be interconnected. He does a great job, and nails the atmosphere within about thirty seconds into the book. His narration is smooth and creepy, I don't know how he pulls that off, but it is well done I can tell you that for nothing. I do like his reading style, and his voice keeps your attention.

Gray pulls another crazy story out of her witches hat just in time for Halloween, so settle in and enjoy an interesting new take on Bigfoot. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Purgatory of the Werewolf

  • The Wolf of Dorian Gray Series, Book 2
  • By: Brian Ference
  • Narrated by: Alex Hyde-White Punch Audio
  • Length: 6 hrs and 6 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

Dorian survived being eaten alive, but time is running out to save himself and his loved ones before the full moon. He flees England and enlists with the Royal Navy hoping to escape the monster. But will his ship carry him to a new life before the full moon or plunge him into the horror of war? 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I hadn't pictured this kind of Werewolf

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-04-18

I hadn't pictured this kind of Werewolf

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

Reviewed: 10-04-18

Sorry, I like plays on words, and you know, Dorian has a portrait that is framed, so I hadn't pictured . . . .never mind. Shall I get to the book? Lets.

I did not realize that this was a Book 2. When I saw this advertised I just saw the main title, Purgatory of the Werewolf, and thought what a great title. It reminded me of a movie from the 50's or 60's, and it was a very fitting title, as most werewolf stories showcase the endless waiting the wolf cursed person does in expectation of the next full moon. Now, I have been into werewolves since I was about four years old. I know a ton of lore, have probably seen any Werewolf related movie up until 2000, then I stopped because all that was coming out was drivel, and read a lot of books about them. To say that I love werewolves would be an understatement. So, I was very happy to see a new WW book hit the shelves. I really wish I could have read book one first, because this book is so well written and well paced that the set up to here had to hav been great.

One thing I really enjoy is mash ups. Predator Vs Aliens, Billy the Kid Vs Dracula, Marvel's Dracula Vs Werewolf by Night, etc I love to see monsters joining up or fighting one another. Honestly, who doesn't? But, I think the concept of having Dorian Gray become a werewolf takes this just a step further, and amps it up a few notches. That's kind of like making Dr. Frankenstein a Voodoo master. I can completely repsect the thought that went into the project before it was ever written.

Thankfully, the writing manages to meet the expectations.Ference handles both the Gray aspects of the story and the werewolf portions equally well. It doesn't feel like the glossed over one to get to the other. Again, I would have loved to have known what drove him to China (i.e. having read the first book, recaps never do an entire book justice nor do book blurbs). Regardless of my ignorance of the preceding events the book manages to carry the reader (me) right into the tale with out a hiccup. So, he does a fine job of entertaining you even if you aren't caught up 100%. The battles are brutal and protracted, as they should be. Short flurries are fun, but a battle should not be over quickly if it is to be impactful and interesting. Just thinking of Indiana Jones and the Swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Great Scene, fun fight, but if every scrape was over as quickly was that it would get boring fast. The same could be said of a fight that went as long as the David Keith vs Roddy Piper in they live. That was a fight! But if they all went on too long it would devolve into dreck. Ference strikes a great balance in the battles, and in the quiet emotional interludes between wolf moments. He has a lot of fun with it, and I enjoyed every second. I think that my favorite bit came when the portrait changed into a wolf as well, to reflect Dorian's physical state when the moon rose. Great stuff like that really brings a story to life.

Alex Hyde-White handles the narration quite well, his accent brings an air of authenticity to the story, and lends some credence that a straight up American dialect wouldn't be able to provide. I found him to be quite crisp in his reading, and that he provided perfect pronunication. I listen to a lot of audio books, and his was a new voice for me. It was a rather pleasant discovery, although I do have to add that there were some odd pauses at times, and that there was something like a finger snap that I heard during a transformation scene (which was incrfedibly well written and performed). Otherwise, this is solid solid stuff. I really liked this book a great deal, plan of getting book one, and three when it hits Audible as well.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Respawn: An Epic Fantasy LitRPG

  • Killstreak, Book One
  • By: Stuart Thaman
  • Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 59

Lord Kadorax Darkarrow was born on Earth, but in Agglor, he's the highest-level assassin anyone can find. The leader of the famed Blackened Blades, he's made a name for himself, built a kingdom of sorts, and only had to respawn once along the way. Then a rogue band of jackals sends him all the way back to a dreary tavern in a tiny village to start over at level one. Hellbent on revenge, Kadorax sets out on a path littered with bodies - level up, find the jackals, slay their god!

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A fun diversion in an interesting MMO style world

  • By No Dice on 07-27-18

Is he in a game?

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

Reviewed: 10-03-18


This was a rather difficult book for me. It isn’t bad, but I took umbrage with a lot of things that either lack explanation or made no sense. The premise is that a man from Earth, hence the title Earth born, awakens one day in another world. He struggles for number of years to get back home, but finally gives up and decides to acclimate after an incident causes him to fend for his life. Now, in this world you seem to play, and I am only assuming this because it is never stated, on what seems to be a hardcore mode. You get one life, if you die you lose everything and have to start over from level 0. Which would suck, if it were a game, but there is literally no hint that he was uploaded into a game. None, so I don’t know. Oddly, this happens to EVERYONE in this world. You die, and you get reborn and get to pick a new life. Old crap you’ve done is forgiven or you can reestablish old ties and connections. So basically, the only thing you have to fear from death is having to restart your life over. So, I guess if you really hate your job you can just kill yourself. If this is the same for everyone, I wonder why anyone even cares if you are Earth Born. Why would it even matter? How could you even tell the difference? The weirdest thing in the whole book is the MC’s companion, who just so happened to be his pet snake on Earth. How he became a PC or NPC or whatever is never explained at all, but is referenced numerous times.

That was my big problem with this book, there was a complete lack of consequences for anything, nothing is explained, and there is no sense of danger at all. I had a hard time worrying that Cadaraacts, the MC, would have to restart his life over again. The book is just basically the MC and a couple of friends either doing some fighting, hanging around, or trying to score some XP to level. It’s slice of life meets go grind some monsters. Also, the new class that the MC takes is really vague and mysterious. I really dig new classes, check out Dakota Krout’s Ritualist to see how to handle a never before heard of class. He explains everything upfront. Thaman doesn’t do that. It almost seems like he is making it up as he goes along. It has a lovecraftian feel to it, but it is too mysterious to tell anything about it, even at the end of the book. And the ending is just an ending. There is no big pay off, climax, or battle; not even the slightest bit of resolution. The story does nothing to move ahead. Which is really sad because it could be a tour de force with some explanations, and consequences for the characters. The writing isn’t bad, it just has nowhere to go. A good editor could have given Thaman some direction and really helped this out.

Scott Bennett handles the narration, and he is one of my favorite narrators. Seriously, I know it isn’t LIT but the books he’s done like the Brother Bones series and Death Master are just great. Check them out. Here he does what he can, and does a fine job. He’s fun to listen to paces the story out well. He does everything he can to elevate it, too. I really respect what he does here, and have to say that the sound is flawlessly fantastic.


If Thaman had just fleshed out the world a bit more, and not kept everything so close to the vest this could have been a really fun book because there are things here that could be interesting if we had some idea of what the hell was going on. Never keep your readers out of the loop, give them a taste or a hint to keep them interested. I will get the next book, just to see if he reveals anything, and I sincerely hope so. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Rapture

  • Apocalypse Gates Author's Cut, Book 1
  • By: Daniel Schinhofen
  • Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
  • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 801
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 776
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 771

Alvin woke in a room that was not his, to discover that he had died and his brain had been bargained off cheaply to pay off someone else’s debt. It did not sit well with him. It didn’t surprise him that even in death, people were still using him for their own purposes. He had never exactly been a good guy, but everyone had their breaking point, and he had found his. The bastards in charge had uploaded his mind into a virtual death game. The whole world could now pay to see him play it and probably die. Regardless, he was not about to wait for death to come for him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great twist to the game genre. I highly recommend!

  • By Nicole C. on 03-24-18

HAve fun with the apocalypse and zombies

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

Reviewed: 10-03-18


Daniel Schinhofen has written something I have been waiting to hit Audible for some time, Horror Survival LITRPG. Survivalist horror isn’t a huge setting in the genre, and I don’t know why. Sometimes it seems we are lucky if we get anything outside of a Western Fantasy Style book, which inevitable means that we’ll get some sort of a sci-fi version instead. I have been wanting to see some other fields get a chance at the plate. I could really go for a good Western (Red Dead Redemption) LITRPG, or something comedic, but most especially I want a horror styled LIT book on audio. I know there are some that have been written, but nothing I can find, and so when I found out this was survivalist horror I was ecstatic.

The book is really well written, and the characters are all standouts. I really adored Gothy, though, far more than any others. I like that Schinhofen slips in some jokes here and there without announcing what he is talking about. They are either you get them or you don’t, such as his wanting to rename the AI known as Scott into Betty. The book has a solid crunch to it, for you gamer fans. But there were some things I found strange, such as when the MC, Al, tells everyone that they are trapped in a video game. You just don’t see that very often.

One thing that set me off a little was the easy pathway to weapons and unlimited ammo. For the entire beginning of the book, Al does his zombie whacking with a wooden baseball bat. He has a hard time upgrading, because upgrades cost him XP, and he doesn’t get a lot of it to start out. Next thing you know he is upgrading guns so that they have unlimited fire power. Now, to me, part of what makes movies like NOTLD fun is that the people fighting the undead have limited weapons and resources. We sort of skip that problem really quickly, and focus on base building and saving survivors. On top of the zombies we also get a few other creepy creatures that show up by the end of the book, so I am really looking forward to what comes next in the series, as the escalation seems to be right on point.

Narration is performed by the excellent and adorable Andrea Parsneau, who seems to really enjoy playing Gothy. She really makes that girl shine. She does a fab job on the other voices, and maintains the pace and flow of the story effortlessly. I actually kind of got upset when she had to switch off her Scott voice for the AI’s new personality, as she really killed it with Scott. Other guy was fun, but, he was no Scott. I really can’t say how much I enjoyed her here. If we do have a rapture, and for some odd reason she isn’t taken I hope that she makes play by plays over a loud speaker. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Outpost

  • Monsters, Maces and Magic Series, Book 1
  • By: Terry W Ervin II
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Waters
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 60

Glenn, a college sophomore, has a Sociology 102 paper that requires spending time with an unfamiliar group or culture. Luckily, two hot girls from his class have the same idea: Attend the university’s game club to get material for their papers. A creepy game moderator shows up, ready to start a game of Monsters, Maces and Magic. Glenn doesn’t fret over the GM’s disturbing vibe, figuring it’ll lead to potential fodder for his paper. Moments after rolling up his character and beginning the adventure, Glenn, his two classmates, and three other players are drawn into the game - literally.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Gamelit world, lots of humor, good Characters

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-03-18

Fun Gamelit world, lots of humor, good Characters

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

Reviewed: 10-03-18

If you saw the first LIT Audiobook Podcast, then you know that one of my all time favorite books is The Sleeping Dragon, book one of the Guardians of the Flame series, and that I had also enjoyed Quag Keep as well. I think that those are some of the best books written in the LITRPG genre, or at a minimum Gamelit. I really respect and admire them for their innovative stories and creativity, as well as some amazing characters. I now add Outpost onto that list. There is just something that really appeals to me about RPGer’s getting sucked into the world that they play in. It is fun and fascinating, if done right, and Terry Ervin does it right.

We start out with three students who are looking to write a class paper joining a local gaming session with a three regular players, one of whom is a kid from Jr. High. The MC, is one of the students, a necessary perspective for the listener since the world is supposed to be all new and shiny to him. He ends up becoming a gnome healer. The other two students, both female, opt for a warrior monk and an elven mage. One of the best bits and running gags is how the kid, tricks the girl playing the elven mage into having a pornstar body with goddess looks. Her boobs are good for more than a few chuckles. Each of the characters are interesting, and if I had to speculate, not all of them are neutral or good. Methinks one of them picked a dark alignment without telling the others. For me, the characters sell the story. Each is distinct and has their own voice, but the real standouts are the gnome, the half goblin, and the Elf.

One of the things I enjoyed so much about the Guardians of the Flame series was that it was not afraid to kill off characters, and Ervin has no such qualms either. PC’s are vulnerable, and do die. So the remaining troupe has to figure how to get back home and possible resurrect a comrade on the way. The answer to both might surprise you at the end. The book isn’t all crunchy and full of stats and numbers, and that is fine here. It works the way it is setup and you won’t miss those aspects at all. The only complaint was the shifting from the character’s real life names to their gaming names. For example, the big boobed elf was named Stephanie, and in game she was known as Marigold. At any given time she could be referred to by either name, and so it went for all the characters. I followed along no problem, but I can see where some might find it confusing; they should have settled on one or the other, and not both.

Waters narration is really really fun, and he does the ladies voices about as easily as he does the men’s, which is impressive, I only know a handful of narrators who can pull that off as easily as he does. His reading is rock solid, the sound quality is fantastic, and he really infuses a ton of emotion into the story. I hadn’t heard him before, but I must admit I was impressed with him. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com




3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Rogue Dungeon: A litRPG Adventure

  • The Rogue Dungeon, Book 1
  • By: James Hunter, eden Hudson
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 440
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 424
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 424

Roark von Graf - hedge mage and lesser noble of Traisbin - is one of only a handful of Freedom fighters left, and he knows the Resistance’s days are numbered. Unless they do something drastic... But when a daring plan to unseat the Tyrant King goes awry, Roark finds himself on the run through an interdimensional portal, which strands him in a very unexpected location: an ultra-immersive fantasy video game called Hearthworld. He can’t log out, his magic is on the fritz, and, worst of all, he’s not even human.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fantasy realm collides with Virtual Reality

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-01-18

A fantasy realm collides with Virtual Reality

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

Reviewed: 10-01-18

OK, I am going to come clean here. I am unquestioningly a huge fan of James Hunter. I enjoy everything he’s written from this Urban Fantasy Yancy Lazarus, his Litrpg Series Viridian Gate Online, to that grocery list he dropped while shopping the other day. I must also say, that you might further consider me to be biased because I do have a story in his upcoming Viridian Gate Anthology novel Side Quests, but that does not make anything I am about to say untrue or inaccurate.

This is a genuinely brilliant book, that much like the Land of the Undying by Dave Willmarth is just as interesting in the real world as it is in the game world. The “real world” is actually a fantasy realm in which the hero, Roark is a rebel. He fights against an evil Usurper who has used his ability to control magics unlike every mage before him to steal an empire. The setting seems to be slightly German in tone, with an interesting magic system in which written words convey power. When his attack on the Tyrant fails he tries to escape through a portal, which is a dicey proposition at best, and he finds himself not where he wanted to be, but in a strange world with new magics and an unlimited lifespan that allows him to respawn. What he doesn’t realize is that he has entered Hearthworld, which is actually an MMORPG. Obviously, he has no clue that he is in a video game, and simply treats it like he has entered another world which is a logical conclusion for him to reach.

That, my friends is the brilliance of this story. Roark is an interesting protagonist, and oddly the real antagonist is a player named Pwner Boner 007, that is a game name that will stand beside the most legendary Leroy Jenkins. That isn’t to say that the Tyrant lord doesn’t loom and play in the back of Roark’s mind, but honestly, he really goes at Pwner Boner 007 enough that he qualifies as the bad guy. That is another strength of this book, it goes some serious to silly and no matter the tone Roark plays it straight.

Truly, this book was far too short. I loved every second of it, and really think that this is quite possibly one of the best series he’s done to date. It stands right beside VGO. Don’t think that I am discounting eden Hudson, either. She is an incredible writer, and her novel, Two Faced, is about as top notch as they come. She has some serious chops. I mean like Mr. Miyagi chops. I know I said that I respected how well James was able to co-write with Aaron Crash because it seemed like it was a single voice, and the same is true here. Only thing is the voice is very different in tone from War God. This is a masterful piece of combining writing styles, vision, and attitudes. This book blew me away at every turn. The only drawback was that it was too short.

Now you might be calling me out on how this fits into the dungeon category for this special, and I’m going to tell you it is because Roark becomes a part of the dungeon. He grows in power and manages to lead a section of it all by himself. I can see him eventually taking the entire dungeon over at some point in the future.

The narration by Nick Pohdel is outstanding. He transitions Roark’s voice slowly as he gains levels, and it is subtle, but so realistic that you have to pay attention. He plays monsters so well, and embodies the snark of Pwner Boner 007. There simply is no touching the man here. He is amazing to listen to, every characte has their own voice, which are utterly distinctive and outstanding. His villains are just as great as his heroes, and he absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of Roark. I loved listening to him, and if you want to hear more get the Gam3 or Super Sales on Superheroes 2. Good stuff there.

Hunter and Hudson (they sound like colonial marines from Aliens don't they?) really are an amazing team. I really expect a lot from them in the future with this series. It is scary just how good it is, and it really makes me happy to see thme get recognized for the incredible work they are doing. I don't recommend you get this book. I demand it. You deserve this incredibly conceived and executed story more than you know. Get it, grab it, go for it but don't let it get passed you.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST DUNGEON SPECIAL, please check it out on Youtube.com




2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Inside Out

  • Bloodfeast, Book 1
  • By: Ellis Michaels
  • Narrated by: S.K. Linna
  • Length: 4 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 26

After a blinding flash, four terrified friends realize that they've been transported into their favorite video game Bloodfeast MMO. They are in their characters' bodies, trapped in a fantastic world filled with magic, mystery, and mayhem. Before long, the friends discover that their Bloodfeast characters are trapped in their bodies back in the real world. They're left with no choice but to embark on a heroic quest in a desperate attempt to get home.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Puerile humor and plotline barely get by

  • By Ray Johnson on 09-27-18

Puerile humor and plotline barely get by

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

Reviewed: 09-27-18

There are a lot of times I will bemoan how a good book was crushed by some crappy narration, but here the only real saving grace is the narration. The story wanders and lacks any real drama, danger, or character growth. The premise is pretty cool, I’ll give it that, in which a group of players swap places with their characters against their will. Beyond that it is all wasted potential. The story meanders, and has no real focus beyond the whole “we need to find our way back home” trope. The one element that could have been fun, the characters in the real world is squandered on them eating junk food and watching their players try to find a way back home.

A lot of the book is confusing because there are few, if anything, about the game that is explained or revealed. For example the game is called Bloodfeast, and you are supposed to eat the body f your fallen enemies, but no explanation is given as to why they should do that. I saw no buffs or benefits from the act, just kill and eat. Pardon me, but that sounds a little like a game a psycho would play. If they said what the boons were from eating the dead then I missed it every time they did it. Also, the book is unintentionally funny. What do I mean by that? There are lines that are not meant to be humorous, but are such as, “The area was full of beggars and prostitutes, who were mostly NPCs.” Poor grammar appeared, and it is hard to notice when doing an audible book, but there they were. It was mostly when it came to she versus her. By that I mean he would say, “Her and him went to the store.” That kind of stuff popped up all the time, and it tripped me up every time it happened. Poor grammar isn’t something to expect when having a book narrated to you.

You may recall a review that I did in regards to Archaic Venture, where I believed the narrator to have killed the story. Here, I’m going to say the opposite is true. While Linna isn’t a mind blowing narrator by any stretch of the imagination he does a good job, and I have to admit that his voice for the Luke character sounded like my Uncle Ron, and so I had to like him a bit more than usual. Honestly, he does do a good job here, and does different voices for each character, and does a decent job of it. I never heard an issue with the sound quality or voice work, he was as solid as the Great Wall of China. I really wish that he would have had a better story to work with, because he might have been amazing. Tough call, but the issues this story had did not fall at his feet.

I do find it sad that I have to hit this book with a hammer, but the fact is I cannot abide when things are not explained. One of the most annoying things in this book came when they gamers went on their quest to find the artifact necessary to send them home, and at every step they learn that they were on the trail of a group that looked just like them. (They were following their character’s routes to the magical object that could send them home), and the entire time I’m thinking that the object has to be gone because the characters had already gotten and used the orb they were seeking , but no. Surprise the orb was right there! You might argue that it reset, but I’m going to call BS and say it was poor writing because all signs pointed to it being missing, but then nothing ever came from that aspect of the story either. There were too many inconsistencies, a lack of explanations (for example how did their characters become self aware?), and grammatical problems that made this ship look like it was a submarine. Honestly, I don’t think it is worth your money for roughly eleven dollars for a four and a half hour book. I don’t think I’ll be looking at book 2 in this series.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Archaic Venture: The Myth of Cerberus

  • A LitRPG Adventure
  • By: Henry D. Milton
  • Narrated by: Jon Wilkins
  • Length: 3 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28

Archaic Venture, a brand new virtual reality video game, is hot off the press, and it is selling like hotcakes. However, the creator of the game, Soto Akiyama, has thrown in a twist. The game will no longer function correctly until someone defeats the evil spirit plaguing the lands of Archaic Venture. Along with returning Archaic Venture to normal, there is a cash prize that goes with it. For Michael Maddox, a 16-year-old who suffers from cerebral palsy and a dysfunctional home life, this game, and that money, could turn his entire life around.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Middle of the road tale with weak narration

  • By Ray Johnson on 09-27-18

Middle of the road tale with weak narration

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

Reviewed: 09-27-18

The narrator, Milton, sounds like Brad Garrett who just smoke five cartons of cigarettes and drank five bottles of whiskey and not in an endearing way. He speaks so slowly that I guess a benefit is that you have no issue understanding him, and that he enunciates very clearly due to his rhythm. He seems to struggle to do various voices. One voice seems to just be a little deeper than the other. No real accents exist that are discernable, nor is any real emotion is added into this storytelling. He lost me when the hobbit NPC sounded like an orc or ogre. There was no attempt to even sound like a tiny humanoid. Milton almost seems to read the story one sentence at a time. He really takes away from the actual tale, and for me a mediocre narrator can drag down a decent story. This makes it really hard for me to tell how good the story itself is, and the addition of sound effects and music DETRACTS from the narration rather than adding to it. For example, He talks about a crowd going crazy, then you hear applause, and then he picks up the narration again. It is like he waits for the clapping to die down. There are also bits of music added in at various places, usually at the start of a chapter or the end. The music starts, then stops, and there is a pause before the narration picks up again. It just starts and ends and serves no purpose other than to act as filler. Then there are parts where an annoying noise repeats over and over after the bar fight for no discernable reason. Additionally, when Michael does meet Komodo and Rampage I had no idea that one of them was a female, Rampage, as no attempt was made to even make her sound feminine. The narration was a miserable event.

I start out talking about the narration because I recently reviewed a story called the Glass Bard, and my interpretation of the story was harsh due to the narration. I did not like the story, but admitted that the narration could have been a major contributing factor, and then I saw that Ramon, from the LITRPG Podcast liked the story, and scored it much higher than I did. This means that the narration played a larger part than I anticipated. Which caused me to dissect the story more than I normally would, since I know that my interpretation was tainted by the less than stellar narration.

The writing isn’t amazing. I found large chunks of dialogue to be stilted and almost awkward. The fights were average and did not grip my imagination at all. The story itself was your standard tale of a young man who is disabled, and decides to enter the VR world Archaic Venture so that he can experience what it actually is like to walk and make friends. The odd thing is that Michael meets two players, Komodo and Rampage, and they reluctantly let him join them in a quest to kill Cerberus, a beast that will earn them $30,000 bucks, godlike in game abilities, and a visit with the game’s creator. Michael then takes them to a bar to seek info on Cerberus and ends up getting them into a battle with a higher level player because Michael just killed his horse. The fight bonds them. Huh? What? The guy is a noob that one half of the group wasn’t happy allowing to join, and he instantly gets them into a life or death battle and they become closer? I’d have booted the noob out the door once everything finished. I saw no reason for them to bond together other than the thinking that they fought together and now are pals from the experience.

One thing that bothered me was that the book takes about five minutes to start into the story itself, and another half of an hour is tacked on the end for an additional half hour for a book preview. I don’t mind previews, but I hate it when a book’s runtime is shot up longer than what it is, and honestly it feels a lot like books stuffing. Additionally, the story is only LITPRG in the barest meaning of the word. Leveling is involved, but it is never explained, but then none of the game mechanics are ever explained, and the loot tends to just be cash, exp, or jewels. Michael jumps from being a newbie to being level thirty in a very short period of time. The fact that they get a clue on how to power level is all the explanation that we ever get. We never get any stats, character information, or the ramifications for playing various races. Michael opts to play a Drow with a suspect class as well. You never see any NPCs having a bad reaction to his race or class. The story itself is basically just a go beat the monster for fabulous prizes quest. There’s not a lot about this story otherwise. Before I got this audiobook I looked at the reviews of this on audible, because I have really seeking a great LITRPG short story, and saw a lot of positive reviews, but they were very short, with not a lot to say. After listening to this I have to wonder what they were listening to. For me, this book was more of a fizzle than a sizzle.


Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Shard Warrior

  • Crystal Shards Online, Book 2
  • By: Rick Scott
  • Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 513
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 482
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 482

Transported to a new world, Ryan and his friends must figure out how to save their home city of Citadel while learning to survive in a game world where death is now all too real. But first, Ryan must keep his promise to Val Helena, and he sets out on a dangerous quest to the Vale of Sorrows to defeat the Shadow King. With an enemy 10 times stronger than a world boss, Ryan will have to do some serious leveling up as a Dodge Tank to be fit for task. But when he encounters a fellow gamer with an agenda of his own, Ryan finds his very life threatened by an enemy of his own making!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent!

  • By Jonathan on 07-26-18

Dodge Tank duck your head! Danger looms ahead

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

Reviewed: 09-27-18

Holy Moley, I have been waiting on this book since the first one finished and was not disappointed at all by the continuing saga of Reese and his compatriots. Book one left the team stranded in the real world, where death means death, and there is no respawning going to happen. Reese, Gilly, and Val Helena had just hooked up with Maxis and Rembrandt. Maxis being Reese’s brother. They found themselves in a barren wasteland, with enemies at every turn, and with Reese and Gilly being so low leveled that it looked to be certain death for them soon.

And this is where Scott does that thing where he takes something that should make you angry and makes it interesting. What happens is that the characters are not trapped in the barren wastelands surrounded by deadly enemies at every turn. Nope, turns out that there are safe zones in the real world, and these boundaries keep away the real nasties of the world. Normally, that would set me right off, we are promised a grim and gritty world unlike any other we have seen and we get safe zones where the characters spend most of their time. Secondly, we also find out that as dangerous as the place was made out to be the fact is there are players who lived on the surface for a long time. What was looking like a we’ll barely survive this place scenario turns into a place that some players vacation at for fun. That part I can’t let slide. If Maxis has been there 4 times and is one of the few people to do so and survive then it should be a lot harder a place to get around. The action scenes are still dope as crystal meth, and the character’s growth and development are impressive. Still, this book almost felt like some spinning tires that made a lot of noise and got nowhere fast, for every revelation you get two more questions. I also, did not like the way Iko became wimpified all of a sudden, and I doubt that Reese’s mother would have been so stupid to do what she did. So there were a lot of problems that I had here.

Still, Scott manages to make the story interesting, the characters, compelling, and the action flying. We get a decent villain, and some added worries for Reese as he becomes a town administrator. Each character has some small arc that they go through, and I appreciate that this is a series that I can listen to with my kids. I can listen to it with youngsters and still enjoy it as an adult. The writing is that strong.

Summerer’s narration is just as good as it was the first time around, and I have to say that he has really grown on me as a narrator. I loved him in the Dark Herbalist series, and here he continues to make my mouth drop open with his vocal skills. He really adds an element of fun to this audible anime series.
One thing I do want to comment upon briefly is the way the covers are set up. You place the title right over the center of the artwork, obscuring half of what you paid for. I would have like to seen Gilly on the cover of Book 2, but she is almost invisible. Move your title up a bit. Covers are a part of the book, and I will discuss them from time to time.

Again, I had some issues with the story and characterizations, but I still managed to walk away satisfied and eager to see what happens next. You will too.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

1 of 1 people found this review helpful