LISTENER

Ray Johnson

Ohio
  • 861
  • reviews
  • 3,968
  • helpful votes
  • 881
  • ratings
  • Advent

  • Red Mage, Book 1
  • By: Xander Boyce
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 827
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 795
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 791

Drew Michalik was working in a top-secret facility in Washington, DC, when the Advent began. As all electronics in the world simply ceased to work, blue screens filled with information appeared before him. Drew was given access to a mana interface and a limited number of reality-altering crystals called Xatherite. Following the instructions on his vision-impairing screens, he "slotted" his Xatherite and changed his fate: He gained the ability to cast spells. Now alone in the dark, he must battle through the government bunker turned dungeon in a desperate bid for survival.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kona Blend

  • By Randy on 01-10-19

All I can say is wow!

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

I don’t think I’ve loved a story so much right out of the gate as much as I did Advent since Dante’s Immortality. This book was incredibly fun, well thought out, had a nice MC, and fleshed out characters. I have to admit though that there were some things that kind of scared me right off the back.
The cons. There are very few of these, but I have to say that right at the beginning of the book we get hit with this huge info dump on how the magic system works, and it came off as being so complicated that I got out my slide rule, my abacus, and boned up on my physics before I continued. It was a lot to take in, and it was a very sticky wicket to get through. Admittedly, once the book started flowing and the magic was shown in action it all made since, and became infinitely more simplified. In fact, I believe this is one of the cooler systems of magic that I’ve ever read about. It made me think of a point back in the 90’s when fantasy was in full swing and publishers were looking for something new and fresh, they never cared about characters, setting, or conflict. The first thing they asked was what kind of magic system do you have? This book would have knocked their socks off back then and been snatched up in a bidding war. So the magic is really neat, and I like how it progresses.
Another con. This one I’m not going to let go of so easily. The MC is in the Coast Guard, and once things go crazy the people he meets kind of agree that with the situation the way it is, and everyone having been drafted into an intergalactic navy that they might as well forgo all the rank issues, but the minute they come across a real officer they all defer to his command. My first instinct would have been to tell him to bite my bottom and get out of my way. That doesn’t happen. They sort of circumvent his orders, but still back down when he finds out. That was a real weak point in the story, and it still bugs the hell out of me, days after I read it, that Drew Michalik would kowtow so easily still bothers me. It was out of character.
Last con; Zoe. I need resolution. That is all.
The Pros, The rest of the book. Seriously. This is one smooth spread of peanut butter over a chocolate bar. I had a ton of fun seeing new monsters in addition to new takes on the old ones. I loved how the spells were able to be combined and connected and used in new and creative ways.
Drew is a slick and smart cookie who is tough and intelligent and a blast to watch get put through his paces. In spite of the OP nature of his abilities he is fascinating to watch grow. He plays out to be exactly like what he is, a normal guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances struggling to keep himself and his people alive. Oh, and that’s another thing that I liked about this book. People die. For real, in tragic and terrible ways and I mean from the core group of individuals. There is no rescinding or voided the losses. When they are gone that’s it, death aint the beginning, it’s the end. That is good writing, and it lets you know that just about anyone can buy it at any given moment.
Dakota Krout ought to be really happy with the way this book turned out, because it is bloody fantastic and smart. This is the way to break in his new publishing house.

Final score 8.4 stars. Xander Boyce looks to be at the level of Corvin, Willmarth, Krout, and Dean just to name a few. He knows how to craft and tell an amazing story.

As seen on the Litrpg Audiobook Podcast.

  • The Anime Trope System: Stone vs. Viper, Book 1

  • A LitRPG (ATS)
  • By: Alvin Atwater
  • Narrated by: David Reimer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100

At the mercy of an unknown entity, Clyde gets tossed into the anime world. Yes, it exists, we just don't know it. There, he's declared the Stone, the anime main character. One day, he must kill the Viper, or else it's good-bye, Earth. This is the comedic tale of a young man vs. cliche anime tropes. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • good book I need morw

  • By Ryan on 02-20-19

Tropes galore, story is wanting

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

You may have heard me recently say that I am a fan of Anime, but really only hit something like 3 series altogether, those being Naruto, Inuyasha, and Cowboy Beboop. I have watched a lot of others, but I am really only devoted to those three. I have seen Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach, Dragon Ball, etc. So, I may not be as knowledgeable as others I do know what anime is and the tropes it produces. So, I really thought I would love to give this a shot and see how this set in comparison to what I know about Anime tropes.
First of all, the narrator, David Reimer is going to play a huge factor in the score of this book. SO, I’m going to start with him. I want to say that he isn’t a horrible narrator, he does do some voices, and add inflections, but his normal reading of the non-dialogue bits really drops the ball. It was hard to tell if some of the bits would have worked with a different narrator, because he did not have a voice made for comedy or comedic moments. In Anime a lot of things are exaggerated including the way characters react vocally. Angry girls yell loud and talk fast, someone gets knocked for a loop and they (in the less serious anime) exaggerate their pain with moans as they speak. When they get hot and bothered they have a lovey dovey voice and none of that was done here, and it would have certainly helped. This was more of a mechanical reading, and it did not grab my attention. Again, I don’t want to bash, but if you are going to narrate an Anime styled book, do some research. Go to crunchy roll and watch a few shows and get a feel for what the tropes are like. Not having the narration fill in like it should have really hurt this book.

There were a few things that Atwater did as a writer that bothered me. One, I could tell when there was a typo because Reimer would say a wrong word, and while I always say that the narrator is the last line of defense against typos they ultimately are not to blame. Secondly, I really think that Atwater missed the mark with this book. At first it felt like it was going to be a kid friendly novel, but then POW sex scenes started popping up, and in every anime I’ve ever seen sex is hinted at, there might be some groping, but that is it. It really did not fit the spirit of the story, honestly if he was going to go Hentai I wouldn’t have had an issue, but it should have said so and I would have been fine with it, but this was the anime trope book. On the hentai topic I was a little surprised that he would so casually drop the F-bomb, but then would refer to a certain part of the male anatomy as his “horn”. He did this not once, but multiple times and I would have preferred any other euphemism than horn. It just felt very out of place. Again, I think that this book would have benefitted from one cohesive vision. If you are doing Anime then keep to the style of how they talk. I have never heard Inuyasha or Kagome utter the F-word. Additionally, the book is called Stone vs Viper and we never got to even see the viper until the end of the book. So, that was a bit of a disappointment. From what I could tell, Atwater did have some tropes down and he played them out well, but it was difficult to enjoy it like I should due to narration. Overall, the book has some real potential, but it didn’t make me not want to put it down or listen to it nonstop. Thankfully, it had a shorter run time.

Final score 6.6 stars, again I think a better narrator would have ratcheted up the score.



As seen on the Litrpg Audiobook Podcast.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • First Login

  • Chronicle, Book 1
  • By: Kevin Murphy
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 473
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 451
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 448

In a not-too-distant future ripe with marvels of technological convenience, wage and work disparity are as rampant as they ever were. A new game makes a claim that's bolder than its competition: So long as players are logged in, they'll have extra time to live. Like most, Corbin has been stunted by the real world. Now that chance has given him a new lease on life in the form of a game, he'll do whatever it takes to pursue it. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great start

  • By Umaros on 12-20-18

I logged in and never left

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

Well, well, well, it seems first time author Kevin Murphy has crafted a pretty cool series starter. I enjoyed every minute of this book, and I have to say that I think that is because the main character acts a lot like I would in the same situation. This book doesn’t have an overarching goal, and the MC sort of meanders around, but I wouldn’t call this a slice of life book. Too much happens, and there is an undercurrent of mystery that gets slightly revealed at the end of the book. The MC Dakkon loses his job and ends up playing the game for real life credits. You know that I hate that trope.
Anyway, first day in the game kinda sucks for him, and he ends up lying to some guards just so he can get inside a city by claiming that he was mugged. Oddly, the guards show up later with his “stolen” gear, which just so happens to include a really cool looking knife. Now, here is where the wandering part comes in. Dakkon has literally no clue as to what he should be doing, and basically bounces from one thing to another. He meets a guy, then a group and they hunt together, and he learns that his new knife has some super killy powers. Later efforts to discover what the knife is sort of fail, and he is left clueless.
The story is pretty much Dakkon either conning people to score some cash, and I have to say he’s a decent liar, or fighting higher level mobs and leveling up. One thing I have to warn you about is that there is no clear and concise system here. At least not one that is revealed. The writing seems geared to keeping a lot of things about the game obscure too. So, don’t expect to come out of this knowing all about the game system or the game’s storyline (if it has one). Dakkon pretty much deals with everything as it comes at him, he isn’t much of a planner (as in looking ahead) but he is apt at thinking on his feet and detecting an enemy’s weakness. It is his unorthodox play style that makes him able to defeat foes that are higher level than he is, and earn the cash he so desperately needs.
He allies with some interesting people, such as a lettuce salesman, and a mysterious player who is far more than he seems. Dakkon also manages to garner the attention of a player that wants his mysterious dagger, which eventually leads him to joining an organization of relic hunters. So, basically, the book is more about what adventure is going to occur today? So, slice of life dammit! But there is an undercurrent of things that are revealed at the end just enough to whet your appetite. Personally, I liked Dakkon, just because he wasn’t a know it all smart ass who cracked jokes at every turn. He really appealed to me because of his devious nature, the guy makes a better con man than he does a fighter, that’s for certain.
Nick Pohdel really does some fine work here, and I have to say that I am liking his incorporation of sound effects into the reading. Not only did they fit, but they were also pleasant to the ears, I don’t know if he found them or made them up, but I enjoyed the addition. My only complaint with Pohdel is that he is a one trick pony when it comes to women’s voices, that is why I didn’t swoon over his work on Super Sales on Super Heroes book two, that book had ton of women to work around, and his ladies sound very similar to one another. Here the female factor isn’t overly high, so it isn’t all that noticeable or bad. Still he did great otherwise and I anticipate more growth from him in the future.

Over all this is a solid first effort, and I am going to just barely give this one an 8 star review. There were a lot of things unrevealed, the class set up wasn’t really well explained, and it was a wandering aimless book to be honest. Still, the characters and the fun outweighed a lot of that and I say give this a go and eat an imperial salad while you do so.


As seen on the Litrpg audiobook podcast!

  • Guild: A LitRPG Novella

  • Monsters, Maces and Magic, Book 3
  • By: Terry W. Ervin II
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Waters
  • Length: 2 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

Eighteen years ago, Tom, a barber college student, got trapped in the Monsters, Maces and Magic game world as Josiah the thief. The first two adventures saw all of Tom’s party members, also trapped within the game world, perish within the fetid depths of the Dark Heart Swamp. His subsequent stint adventuring with NPCs proved short lived. He preferred survival. Over time, Tom became Josiah, adopting a life blending in with the game world’s NPCs. But life, even one lived as a faux NPC, can get interesting. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An excellent short story for MM&M

  • By Ray Johnson on 02-05-19

An excellent short story for MM&M

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19


I’m going to be honest. When I first saw the description for this book I was a touch disappointed, I didn’t see any mention of our party from the main series, and this looked to be an internalized battle between different guilds. I knew that with Ervin it would be good, I just wanted more of my good old adventuring party. So I started this with some trepidation.

Guild is a great gamelit short story that tells the tale of our adventuring party from the Mazes, Magic, and Monsters series from the perspective of another player who has been lost in the game for some time. The MC, is a thief who has gone semi-legit, working as a barber surgeon in that wonderful city of hills, but still keeps his toe in the seamier side of the underworld. Life as a non-adventurer hasn’t been bad, but it doesn’t seem to be as fulfilling as he’d of liked. Still, Josiah (the MC) has lived a life free of monsters and mayhem so he’s satisfied.
That is until the night everyone’s favorite half goblin strolls into his barber shop looking to get a haircut. Turns out Gurk is just in time to help Josiah battle against a rival guild that has targeted his establishment to serve as an example.
I have to say that I really liked this treatment of the group from another character’s perspective, and the question I kept waiting to be answered was whether or not he would cotton onto the realization that they were players trapped just he was. I won’t say if he does or not. What I did enjoy was getting the realization that Josiah had noticed Player Characters, i.e. characters that were actually operated from the other side of the veil so to speak. Players that manipulated their characters like puppets, and that one NPC was more than likely a former PC who had been abandoned by her player. That is just smart and creative gamelit hitting the pages. Seriously, some thought has gone into this book, and I ate it up. It helps that Josiah is fun and interesting, and that his takes on the “main” party are very observant and give the listener a very different spin on things in their world.
The story is pretty short, and basically just centers around Gurk having gone to see Josiah in the hopes of learning about his cursed dagger. All the action centers on what happens between the two of them, initial meeting down to the appraisal, and I have to say that I really loved this book. Normally, I get antsy when an author sort of abandons their main team in favor of a side quest, but this works in a lot of ways. First, because it includes the main party, secondly, because it is a short story and furthers the original story line.
Waters carries the story on able shoulders, and I have come to really appreciate his ability to tell a tale. He’s really made this his series, and I love his interpretation of Gurk. Oh, and I have to admit that he really played Josiah like a weary old player.
Kudos to Ervin for centering more on the half gobbling and not rotating between him and the gnome. Gurk is far more interesting, and is more fun to listen to and I think that he and Josiah mesh pretty well together.

Final score? This is a solid 8.1 stars. It adds to the main series, and fleshes out the game world in a wonderfully sublimated way that doesn’t smack you over the head. I really enjoyed this, I think you will to.

As seen on the Litrpg Audiobook Podcast!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Opening Moves

  • The Gam3, Book 1
  • By: Cosimo Yap
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,526
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,403
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,395

The Earth is changing. The alien invasion brought social upheaval, advanced technology, and an armada of peacekeeping robots. But Alan, a college student pursuing a now-useless degree, cares little about all of this. He has only one thing on his mind: the Game. A fully immersive virtual reality, the Game appears to be a major part of the invading civilization. Alan can't wait to play, recklessly diving into the digital universe. Soon though, Alan realizes the Game is anything but simple, and the stakes are higher than he ever imagined.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Quite good LitRPG

  • By Viesturs on 12-02-16

A classic opening move by a master

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19


While I liked Opening moves there were some things that bothered me a little. First, though, the set up. One promising feature is that this is strictly as sci-fi story and we really don’t get enough of those in Litrpg today. I’m not complaining about the fantasy stuff, but a huge portion of Litrpg has heavy fantasy elements to it. Sci-fi is almost the purview of our Russian comrades, of course it is odd to say that a genre that features game entry via computers, A.I. elements, and game mechanics is more fantasy based, but you understand my point.

Anyway, (you’ll get that reference once you listen to the book) the game is how aliens conduct their warfare. Humans have been inducted to play the “game” and are granted some leniency from outright attacks until they kind of get their game legs. The MC sort of buys his way into the game by having some money fronted to him. Alan, the MC becomes a machine lord, and has AI that he basically uses as a cheat throughout the book.
That was my biggest problem. Alan isn’t a very deep character, I would almost say that he belongs in flat land because he is a tad one dimensional. There is no character development or growth, he ends the way he starts, so yay for consistency. Also, he comes in with an AI that pretty much helps him route every thing he encounters. The book, however, is action heavy and very fun, and I can easily forgo character development in favor of some good ole butt kickin.
The story does draw you in, and I was pretty much kept on the edge of my seat as the story progressed. I can’t say that the story slowed down or didn’t keep me engaged, because I rode this story like a broken mechanical bull. I couldn’t ride a working one, I’d break my neck. The point is that this was a fun ride.
Surprise, Nick Pohdel narrates this book and does a wonderful job, I have pretty much accepted that he is a master class narrator, but that he still has issues doing women’s voices. That has been, and will be my biggest complaint when it comes to his work. Otherwise, he manages to make the story fun and really picks up the pace when it comes to the battle scenes.
The story has a ton of things going on, like an attempted capture/assassination attempt and some ancient beings offering to assist in the Gam3 if he can prove himself. Again, awesome book, not much in the way of characterization. Also, I will say that Allen’s growth as a player may have felt a little stunted when compared to other similar books. That’s ok, not every player should be OP, and he does have his AI to make up for his limitations.

Overall score is an 8. I thought it was fast paced, full of action, and had a good premise, but the lack of character growth really took it down a peg or two.

As seen on the Litrpg Audiobook Podcast.

  • Through the Belly of the Beast

  • Underworld, Book 2
  • By: Apollos Thorne
  • Narrated by: Graham Halstead
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 246
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249

Surviving Lord Darius' attack has put Elorion's level over the top. He must soon leave the Mistress' Labyrinth for the unknown dangers of the Underworld. There are three paths that stand before him. Should he absorb all the Blue Magic he can find, power level his fellow captives, or take on the bone palace alone?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extra saucy ranch flavored goodness inside

  • By Ray Johnson on 02-05-19

Extra saucy ranch flavored goodness inside

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19


I have read two books by Apollos Thorne and both have been utterly enjoyable, I have third book on audible to go, so I can’t wait to get to it. The belly of the beast is one of those books that I like because it sets you up to expect one type of story and it hands you another. CM Carney is good for that with his Realms series. Book one sets up this huge sweeping storyline, and then provides you with a dungeon crawl. Thorne sets you up to expect a dungeon crawl and gives you .. . . . . . . well, that would be telling.

Aw, what the heck. He gives you a fun book that generally flies in the face of what I usually like. For example, I prefer books where the player levels up slowly like in Domino Finn’s afterlife series. Talon and the team are just hitting level 10 by the time the third book ends. In contrast, Elerion is something like level 500 and counting. However, when one considers that the opponents that they face are thousands of levels higher than they are the player to enemy level ratio really seems to level out.
I think that my favorite aspect of the book is Elerion’s ability to steal other forms of magic. I like the collection method that he has and the way that he employs it to level up solo. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned this before, but I love solo games, because I hate grouping with other people. To me, Skyrim was the perfect game, and I have played it in every iteration since it came out. Elerion is a soloist, and I don’t mean he’s a fan of the movie Solo. I mean he does much better on his own and it is fun getting to picture him figuring out exciting ways to stop his foes via the various magics he has at his disposal. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other interesting characters, there are, but the book just moves along faster without them.

The book sees the kidnapped humans get into even deeper trouble and they are forced to find a special place if they are going to survive. This book centers around their attempt to find this place before their time runs out. All I can tell you is it was a blast seeing the characters grow and evolve. Like I say I normally would not like it when a character would hit a silly stat like 1000 intelligence, but in this case I do. Thorne keeps me captivated. He’ll do the same to you.

Graham Halstead has narrated a goodly share of books, including another Lit series you might know, the Neuro series by Andrei Livadny; so you know the man can read a story. I really wish he’d join the community, as I think he knows his stuff and can hold his own narrating alongside anyone. He does keep the pace going and maintains a fresh and fun atmosphere that a lot of books need, but lack. I really thought that after book one of this series I’d be hearing more from him, but no one else has used him. Makes me sad (pout).

Final score is 8.3 stars. This book rocked so hard I had to call a geologist to help me move on to my next book.


As seen on the LITRPG Audiobook Podcast

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Ascend Online

  • Ascend Online, Book 1
  • By: Luke Chmilenko
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,457
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8,038
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,013

Diving into a revolutionary new video game, Marcus and his friends escape a stagnant society, entering into a world that defies their wildest imaginations. But from the moment that he logs in, Marcus finds himself separated from his friends and thrown into a remote village under attack by a horde of goblins. Forced into battle, Marcus rallies the beleaguered villagers and, with their help, manages to drive off the invading creatures. With the village in ruins and their supplies spoiled, the villagers turn to Marcus for help in rebuilding the village.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Luke Daniels and a great LITRPG; enough said

  • By Don Gilbert on 08-07-17

Great book! Couldn't ask for better

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19




This is a tale of the two unbeatable Lukes, Luke Chmilenko and Luke Daniels. I just want to know which of them actually has Darth Vader for a father, because they pulled some Jedi mind trick stuff with this story. In fact, someone supposedly (I have to say that, right, like allegedly so I don’t get sued or something) liked it soooo much that they sort of copied part of it for their own story. You know what they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him. So, you know the story was pretty good. I mean it also happened to James Hunter (What up, James!).

Any who who, the entire gaming system is pretty well thought out to a point that the story easily avoids tropes such as stuck in the game or real world intrudes. The players are given a lengthy time to play, and will rotate out for a bit so they can return to real life until play resumes later. Although it does play with the whole the NPC’s are so real that it causes some ethical considerations to arise as they play. Another aspect that I liked was the concept of the nemesis that could strike at any time, and often did. It added an element of fun to the story that you don’t normally get. And the way the nemesis was dealt with was creative, too. If you know me, then you know I love getting the perspective of a MOB, and this played out pretty smoothly.

Another aspect that was important to me was the fact that the MC is not over powered. He’s just your basic player, as are his team mates. I also thought that even though this group seemed to have been together for a while that they still could not coordinate things as effectively as they should have. That was smart, because if you put me, my wife, and my brothers in a group none of us will cooperate as efficiently as we should. Well, OK, my wife would but she’s a healer and she is always on point. Point is, they felt like real people acting in real ways. The story itself is pretty simple. It is basically defend the town. They do this a few times, but that’s it in a nutshell. The stop goblins and players alike in order to protect the NPC’s and their homes. Less is better. The story is not convoluted nor is it hectic, it plays out in a simple well-crafted manner that is organic and natural. I will say that some of the characters come across as being less developed than they could have been, but when you are dealing with a group dynamic you don’t always need a backstory or standout personalities for every characters. Sometimes the Paladin can just be a paladin.
The fights are exciting, and even if there are just some goblins most of the time it isn’t played out like “just” goblins. They present a serious danger and do real damage. Again, I will reiterate that I love listening to town building take place, so some of my favorite parts of the book came when they were shoring up their defenses. There is a lot going on in this book even though no power leveling takes place.

Luke Daniels is just a narration green beret. He’s a vocal warrior from the sky, and like always he does one hell of a job. I have to say that the hardest part of my reviews are the portions that deal with narration. If the narrator sucks or are mediocre it is easy for me to say here’s where the problem lay. My real issue comes when I have to say how GOOD somebody is. It is really difficult to say how amazing they were that doesn’t sound like hyperbole. All I can say is that if you know Luke Daniels then you know by this point that he always delivers a solid performance, complete with character voices, emotion, and a pace that keeps you listening. So, um, he kicked butt!

Final score 8.4 stars. I really liked this book and I don’t know why it took me so long to do something by Mr. Chmlienko.

As seen on the litrpg audiobook podcast!


  • Unsouled

  • Cradle, Volume 1
  • By: Will Wight
  • Narrated by: Travis Baldree
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 521
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 496
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 496

Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world. Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan. When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must rise beyond anything he's ever known...and forge his own Path.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • He don’t need no stinkin’ badge

  • By Don Gilbert on 02-16-19

A great start to an amazing series

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

In this episode for the Izzit Lit segment I will be looking at:

Unsouled: Cradle Series
By: Will Wight
Narrated by: Travis Baldree
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins

Pause

So, I’m back to is it lit? Izzit, I dunno, we’ll see. Anyway, I have been hearing a lot of stuff about wuxia, and since I have been looking for Asian written LITRPG (translated of course) the wuxia, actually pronounced ooh-sha, stuff falls right in line with that sort of exotic flavor. I do enjoy our Russian compatriots, and their writings, so I don’t think it is too much to ask for a Lit book from China, Japan, or South Korea. I was going to preview this book last week, what with Cultivating Chaos being ut and all, but I set that aside because I have done a lot more IZZIT LIT than I have what else have they done, and sometimes people need spotlighted. This fits, though since I did the Anime Trope novel, so there is a slight theme going on.

The novel starts of in a pretty standard way, kids lined up to learn what their powers are, where they’ll fit into society, and so on. The MC, Lindon, comes from a powerful family who are pretty famous in their parts and so when it is discovered that he is Unsouled, that is lacking in powers, it is a huge disappointment, but he is still loved and accepted by his family. Lindon then goes on a journey just like you would expect. He learns a technique that will jank up other people chi, so to speak, and allow him to whup their butts good. So he starts to advance through the ranks. Now here is the thing. The book does not follow the paths of expectation that you will have. It sets up one thing, and then skews off in a surprising direction that you just do not see coming. That is a huge boon for a book, to take your expectations and throw them away. Another plus, for me, anyway is that Lindon is my kind of character. He relies on is wits and uses trickery to succeed. The entire climb the stairs bit was brilliant and quite telling of what he was willing to do to get stronger.

Travis Baldtree narrates the tale, and he kills it. I would love to see him get into some LITRPG stuff because he does an amazing job, and let me tell you if you ever want to hear one mind-blowing audio book of his, aside from this one, check out Dog Walker. It is not what you would expect and is brilliant. So, Unsouled is a place for Baldtree to shine, I’ve heard him in several other audiobooks, but he really stands out here. Great voices, and really pulls you in with the emotions of the MC.

The only real issue I had with the book was that most secondary characters were not fleshed out all that well, but truthfully, for a book of this length you can’t get a lot of background or personality shoved in.

So, is this Lit? No. Maybe there are other Wuxia books out there that are, but really the only thing that it had in common was Lindon’s need to level up. I would even be hard pressed to call this gamelit, even though I have had several people suggest this for a look. But this really has less of a lit feel than most of the other books that I reviewed that weren’t litrpg. I will still be on the look out for other wuxia styled books.


As seen on the litrpg audiobook podcast!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Runesmith

  • The Greenwood, Book 2
  • By: Galen Wolf
  • Narrated by: Damon Alums
  • Length: 1 hr and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

My name is Harald Runestorm. In real life, I help children with their homework and volunteer in a library project for homeless refugees (due to a probation order), but in my spare time, I log into the World of the Greenwood and kill people for fun. Sometimes I torture them too, and I generally rob them, but other days I stay in my tower and craft things. One day, from a shady informant, I heard about a shipment of ore going through the woods. It seemed the Druids Guild was taking its gold to market, so I thought I'd take it off them.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Too Perfect villain and unstable tale

  • By Ray Johnson on 02-01-19

Too Perfect villain and unstable tale

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

Reviewed: 02-01-19

You may recall that I reviewed another Greenwood Book called The Bard: A LitRPG Short Story. I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with the tale, but given that I hadn’t read the preceding novels I thought I’d give this short book a chance as well. I have mixed feelings on the matter.

I’ll start with Damon Alums who narrated the Bard story as well. With the Bard I found his voice to be so enchanting that it wanted to put me to sleep. I admit that he did one hell of an Antonio Banderas impression, but then really didn’t know if that was his actual voice or not. Here, his voice is much more tolerable and easy to follow and it does not lull you into a stupor from its droning cadence. I still wasn’t overwhelmed by his narration skills, but they weren’t bad. Alums seems to be a middle packer so far. I will say that he gave each character their own voice that was distinctive and made it easier to follow the tale.

Wolf’s writing seems to follow Alums narration. He doesn’t do much to stand out. Honestly, having listened to the two stories I can see that the only character that he really knows how to write is an Over Powered one. The character of Harald Runestorm is perfect. He’s all powerful. He’s the best there is at whatever he does, and he treats everyone around him like the inferiors that they are. He has the best of everything from ingredients to spells, he is the best fighter, best rune maker, you name it and he tops the list at it. It got repetitive listening to him brag about how awesome he was. One might argue that Wolf was just character building so that he could show you how great a jerk the guy was, but it just kept going and going. Then you had to listen to him harangue npcs and players alike and it really wore thin. I got it. He was an A-hole of th highest order, the greatest magnitude, the most expansive . . . get the picture? Couple the arrogance with a nasty personality and you’ll see just how unlikable the guy is.

Now, I will hand it to Wolf. He plays the long game. There are reasons that he makes the character so annoying, and that is so he can hit you with not one, but two plot twists. Neither is really all that original, but they do work in the context of the story. And therein lies the rub. The story isn’t bad, but it is much longer than it needed to be. Some editing would have resulted in a shorter tighter story that wouldn’t have been so annoying at times. You can only hear how great someone is before you don’t care.

The one thing that I found that didn’t fit was the fact that a grade A bunghole like Runestorm, who seems to know everything, doesn’t realize that just because someone says they are a pacifist it doesn’t mean that they won’t fight or hurt you in order to defend themselves, their property, or others. I just didn’t get what he was thinking. I will say that once more, that my issues with the story may come more from the narration than the tale itself. It may have come across much differently if it had been read by someone else.

As things go the story wasn’t overly bad. I think some trimming could have really produced a decent story. Alums performed professionally and it could have been a lot better. As it stands I’m giving this a 6.5. The twists at the end didn’t make it worth the time to listen.

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

  • Trojan

  • Afterlife Online, Book 3
  • By: Domino Finn
  • Narrated by: Justin Thomas James
  • Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 98
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94

Founding a headquarters is a good start, but the Black Hats aren’t the only empire builders in the land. As crusaders mobilize an army, assassins struggle for independence, and dissidents make waves in Stronghold, Haven’s tentative peace is threatened. The gears of war are churning, and Talon refuses to be crushed in the teeth. Enlisting the help of an old friend, Talon hatches an ingenious scheme to wrangle the embattled citizens of Haven to his cause. Except there’s another plot shaping the virtual world, one meticulously devised by a ghost in the machine. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Domino Finn Strikes Again!

  • By Erik on 01-09-19

Big Battles, Bandit the Bongo, and blades!

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

Reviewed: 02-01-19

So bongo, bongo, bongo I don’t want to leave the city without my mountain Bongo
Oh no no no no no
Bingle, bangle, bungle I’m so happy with my Bandit I refuse to go

Yeah, this book made me want to sing. It was fun, but then every trip I’ve made to Haven in Domino Finn’s After Life series has been a blast. That song was an old Danny Kaye reference to civilization, which is what this book is all about. It is about teamwork, trust, and faith.

A ton of stuff happens in this installment, and at first I actually thought that it might be an end point, as I think there were several points the story could have concluded, with a lot of unresolved plotlines, that would still have worked. Thankfully, that isn’t the case but it could have been.

By the title of the book, and the dragon on the cover you might have thought that this book was all about protection and prevention, but no. Finn hits you with a lot right off the bat and never lets up. Talon is the victim of an assassination attempt, and soon finds himself on the look for the person or persons who hired the killer. The quest soon spirals into a variety of events that serve to provide us with a high seas adventure, some Oakenguard intrigue, and an epic battle with yet another Titan. I have to add that there are some huge reveals in regards to Talon, Lucifer, and even Tad (talon’s living self).

The only real downside to this story is the complete and utter lack of VArnu Johnson, the greatest tech support that ever hit the pages of a book. He has just one brief cameo, and it just wasn’t enough. I need my Varnu. The only thing comparable is the Tech support scenes in Everybody loves large chests. I wait for my Varnu moments, Domino. I wait for them.

Anyhow, the book is packed so full of action that he has to write another book to keep up. It is a very fun wild ride and this is a world that I deeply love to visit. I am always glad to see another installment of the series pop up.



So, Justin Thomas James racks up points doing his pirate imitation and pretty much has a complete blast rolling through the various voices of the cast. Honestly, I laughed so hard at the party chat at the end of the book, I just envisioned it to have been done in one long amazing take as he literally does every character of any significance in the story, and it would just break my heart to think that he didn’t do it in one long uncut perfect tape of hilarity. I laughed throughout the chat, but the highlight was when he did the voice of the Kraken. I was driving when he did that and I laughed so hard that I almost crashed. My speeding had nothing to do with the peril that Justin put in through his comedic endeavors, either. What I’m trying to say is that he made this book utterly fun every second of it’s run time. I think of all the characters that he does in Afterlife my favorite is Kyle. He has the frat boy partier banter down cold, and the voice fits the brewmaster to utter perfection. I really enjoy listening to Justin whenever he returns to this world, since the first time I’d heard him was on book one of this series, and just listening to him takes me back to those first moments that I stepped into LITRPG. He nails the narration. Plain and simple, and he owns this series. No one else could ever do it now because it would lose a special spark.

MY final score is 8.2 stars. Finn and James are an unbeatable duo. If you haven’t started the series, go back and give it a listen, it is amazing.

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