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Ray Johnson

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  • Freehaven Online Dragonsbane: A LitRPG Adventure

  • By: Jun Prince
  • Narrated by: Amy Landon
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 112
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 105

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

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • IT'S DRAGON-A-GEDDON!

  • By Suji K. on 09-19-18

A look at grief via gaming

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

Reviewed: 11-04-18

I think that as a funeral director I see this book in a light that few others will. I look at it as an introspection of a character going through the grieving process. Jun really looks at loss in a couple of ways, and how it affects our lives, and I really appreciated that aspect because I had never seen it done in LITRPG before. Justine’s brother died, and she sort of steals his account, and finds herself entering the game as him just to get a feel for who he was, and what he was like. The best part of it is that she has to come to conclusions on her own because no one magically shows up and tells her how great her brother was, or what a D-bag he was to other players. She has to figure these things out all on her own. The book also deals with loss in a few other ways, the players become trapped in the game (not a spoiler it’s in the description) and have to deal with the possibility of never going home again. Also, some players learn that there is a way to permanently join the game, but die in the process. This leads to some complications, and Prince does not make it easy, as grieving never is just a simple emotional process.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the concept of two MMORPG’s merging into a totally new game. Let’s be honest, not every game can end up like World of Warcraft and exist in perpetuity. So, how could games stay alive? By merging with another game that is also losing traction. Can you imagine if City of Heroes merged with Everquest? How cool would that be? Great idea!

The story has some innovative battles, cool quests, dragons, and interesting NPCs, but it isn’t without its own issues. First, the whole trapped in the game thing kind of comes out of left field. Personally, I think it would have worked better if it had happened early in the book. As it was it was a little jarring even if you had read the book’s description. A lot of possible ramifications were overlooked, such as what if a single parent had gotten online just before the attack happened. Young kids would be left to fend for themselves, even if the parent was kept alive by the VR tech. It could be days before they were found. What if a person trapped had to have medication, and lived alone? I would have loved to have seen some other players voicing these concerns. We do have one dad who wants to get back to his kids.

The biggest issue I had, and only because I could see it being confusing was that the MC, a well as the other players, could all switch between their alts at any time. One it made it really hard for me to connect with Justine’s character side, as I enjoyed Scootie Wootums, but the dwarf got bounced as the party needs dictated. I was fully expecting a merging of her brother’s character and her own. I think a melding would have played better, so that all the alts merged into one unique class. That would have really amped the story up, if everyone was struggling to suss out what their capabilities were after the merge. As it was it was just a choice of picking your COH superhero or the Everquest Druid whenever you wanted for example. Also, I don’t really recall a lot of the other players swapping their characters all that often. I did appreciate that Justine’s squad was basically a playground group, you know you wander around the playground and ask kids if they wanted to play. This was a pack of LFG people, you know “Looking for a group!” That isn’t something that you see very often in Litrpg books either, while it should be the norm. Most times you enter a game with maybe one other person you know playing, and get to know others by shouting out Tank LFG or Rogue LFG. The story was good and well written, but I did have an issue connecting to the characters as much as I would have liked, but I loved the underlying theme that grief and loss played throughout the book.


The narration by Landon was fair. There were times that I just did not connect with her at all, she was very clear when she spoke but her non dialogue bits lacked any emotion at all. Go back and listen to the book’s audio clip. She almost says each sentence separately, and without any kind of inflection. Her dialogue isn’t bad, and she does some decent accents, but I could not connect with her reading style much at all. It was very distant and seemed cold. She’s not bad, but really needs to add some energy into the reading of non-dialogue portions of the novel. This had a major impact on me, as I found it a little harder to connect with the characters and their actions, especially during fight scenes.

So, just on the basis that I enjoyed the narration, but was not enamored of it, and a few other factors such as having a hard time identifying with the MC’s rotating character class, and the wonky delivery of the game trap I have to give this a 7.3 stars. I enjoyed it, but felt that some issues could have been better addressed and it really needed one class for me to latch onto as a reader/listener.

Final Score: 7.3 stars

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Valley of Death

  • Apocalypse Gates Author's Cut, Book 2
  • By: Daniel Schinhofen
  • Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 470
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 452
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 450

Alvin had a rough week. Thrown into a digital death game, Apocalypse Gates, with only his wits and a less than helpful AI handler, Alvin's prospects for survival looked bleak. Managing not only to survive but to thrive, he helped build a settlement of survivors in Green River, Utah. Along the way he met the very sexy and broken Gothy. He's taken on the undead, mutated bugs and animals and the worst possible enemy - other people - and triumphed. Nothing looked like it would be a major problem, except for the flight of dragons.  

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not as good as the first

  • By P West on 08-24-18

Valley of death fails to kill it

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

Reviewed: 11-04-18

Make no mistake, one of my favorite style of games to play was survival horror, I was a Resident Evil Junkie, and I played Dino Crisis long after I should have. Hell, I bought an entire gaming console just to play Alien Vs Predator when it first came out. I love horror, not the crappy stuff that Stephen King calls horror, I mean real horror. Like when John Caprenter was actually crafting films, rather than cranking them out. Ghosts of Mars, I am looking at you. So, when you hit me with a book with a horror theme I’m all in.

Valley of Death does that thing I like where they pick up where they left off in the last book. I just wish that the tone would have carried over as well. This book confused me on a couple of levels. Book one set up that Alvin, the anti-hero (because he’s a self professed A-hole) is set on the task of creating various safe places for humanity to rebuild from, or at least take a solid stance to survive from. He fought some zombies and mutated animals and basically did what he set out to do. He managed to start a settlement and have it prepared to defend itself. Then these things called the Apocalypse gates get opened, making things even harder to survive in. Sounded even more interesting, as we would now have more monsters for Alvin and Gothy to fight.

The truth is it kind of turned into a hodge podge of genre’s that took away the horror elements the first book established. Suddenly there are dragons, wyverns, drakes, and Fey to deal with making the book into more of a dark fantasy survivalist setting. Sure there are still zombies and mutated animals, but Alvin literally has a discussion with a set of mutated birds that eliminates a need to fight, and we gloss over that the zombies are becoming more intelligent and using weapons. This reminded me of the Walking Dead TV show in one way, they pretty much overlook the zombies until they are necessary to the plot. What could have been a great turn of events is overshadowed by boring flying lizards and and weaksauce elves. Oh, and you know how I am always kvetching about doing research before you write something? Here is a prime example. In the book, Alvin and Gothy are attacked by giant toads. It was a cool scenes and awesome premise, but toads do not live in the water. They are amphibians, yes, but the ONLY time that they live in water is during their metamorphic stages as tadpoles. Once they are adults they are land bound. They would not have gone into the water, and I don’t want to hear that they are monsters and so can do whatever the writer says. That’s a crap argument. If he meant frogs then he should have used frogs, the terms are not interchangeable. It is stuff like that that takes me out of a story pronto.

Another issue I had was that in spite of upping his charisma, which as supposed to make his life easier he still seems to run into jerks that don’t trust him or try to kill him. This is in every single potential settlement. Secondly, and my biggest beef is that there are massive changes that happen at the end of the book that really negates everything that Alvin has worked to achieve. It really makes no sense. It felt like Schinhofen had gotten tired of the outline that he had and scrapped it in hopes of making something more suited to what he wanted. Don’t change horses midstream. Don’t rewrite code while you are playing a game, and don’t shift a plot for no discernable reason. Granted, as I listened to this book I kept saying to myself that it felt like Schinhofen was just spinning his tires. It was try to start a settlement, have sex with Gothy, kill something, have sex, start a settlement. I could see that even with the gates open that it was just a kill a new kind of monster adventure.
My issue comes from the fact that I totally respect Alvin and Gothy’s relationship. It is very healthy and supportive and shows that two people can be adults and not fight all the time. There is no struggle in their relationship. This is the books shining achievement, and it gets a little undercut with the constant sex. I would have preferred a tender moment or two over three or four of the sex scenes. Sex scenes you can skip, but open emotional feeling filled scenes, ones played by the intense Parsneau add a hell of a lot more than them boning for two or more pages. I know there are people who skip the sex scenes, but I don’t, and even I felt like there were more than there should have been. Especially towards the end of the book. They just popped up like daisies.

Parsneau is what keeps this book on an even course. She fuels it with emotion, and can read an action scene far better than Michael Bay can direct one. I know that I often come across as an unabashed fanboy, but Andrea really knows her craft and tells one hell of a story. I doubt that I would have enjoyed this story as much if she hadn’t been given the reigns. It is her portrayal of Gothy that just resonates with the listener and rings so true she makes you believe that she is real.

The book lacks a solid direction, and really did nothing here to advance the story. I was not happy with the changes that were implemented, which seemed to be arbitrary, and by that I am talking about the entire Settlement issue. I don’t see why that was redone, and it pretty much negated a lot of what Alvin did in the first book. Still, I enjoyed the book. I just didn’t see any progression, and it was a step away from the horror elements introduced in book one. The fey are not creatures of horror, no matter what they do, and dragons in any setting are fantasy creatures.

I’m giving this book a 7.7 stars. It isn’t bad, but it was just one long run down a dark hallway that had no door at the end, in other words it went nowhere fast. I sincerely hope book three does a course correction and gets this back on track. 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.

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

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

  • Tamer 4: King of Dinosaurs

  • By: Michael-Scott Earle
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,185
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,131
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,127

Control dinosaurs. Tame women. Rule the world. Victor Shelby and his harem of beautiful alien women have defeated their first enemy tribe, but their troubles are far from over. A new enemy brings terror from the sky, and Victor must do everything in his power to protect the women that he loves. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another great one from MSE!

  • By Nicole C. on 10-16-18

Victor vexes velociraptors viciously

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

Reviewed: 11-04-18

First of all, I have to say it is nice to get a new MSE book on Audible. Earle might not have ever vanished from Audible like he did Amazon, but there really wan't anything NEW popping up. Honestly, I've read several series of Earle's, Destroyer, Lion's Quest, and so on but nothing really blew me away. Hell, it felt like three quarters of Lion's Quest was outside of th game, and Destroyer was so overhyped that I kept hearing, just wait till he snaps on the elves. Just wait. I did, and wasn't impressed. Then I tried Tamer, because I didn't hate the books, they didn't blow me away. Tamer clicked right away, and I have been a fane since.

Tamer is a light LITRPG that actually focuses more of world and camp building than it does leveling, stats, or character sheets. Everyone in Dinoworld has a power, some are amazing, some aren't but Victor has a killer one. He can control dinos, and in Dinoland that gives him quite the edge. He'd built up quite a (literal) harem, and seems to add more ladies to his roster each book.

One thing that I like is that this book picks up exactly where the last left off, and we find Victor negotiating with another camp for goods. Of course, something goes off the rails after their meeting and there is a scramble to prepare for the coming danger. Things they have to deal with, Trell's pregnancy, a flying humanoid, and an assualt on the fort. In between we have a few sex scenes, and get to know a little more about the mysterious Jade. For some reason, Victor seems to be able to understand her when no one else can. So, MSE gives you a likttle information that only serves to make the reptilian replicator even more mysteious.

I have always felt that MSE knows how to pace a story. I might not have loved Destroyer, but it moved right along. Here though, while the pacing is fine it is getting a touch predictable. As soon as he left the others camp I knew there was going to be a fight. Going to the watering hole has become a euphamism for going to bed with whomever he is with. There is a nice snappy drumbeat that says here is where we try to improve the camp, and here is where we have a fight. I'm not complaining. I still enjoy the story, and can't wait to see what happenes, but I sort of know what is coming next depending on the time of day or where they are.

The biggest issue that I have is that we are now four books into the series and it feels like we are treading water. No real advances have been made. Are they on a spaceship or a planet? Don't know. Who are their abductors, and what are they doing with the people they've snatched? Don't Know. How much longer will new people be added to the planet? Don't know. These are things that haven't even been hinted at. There are no solid answers, and while the stories are fun and fast paced they are on a treadmill. We are handed out bits and pieces thaty come from different puzzles and expected to trust that it is going to make an awesome picture in the end. After three books I think we need some answers, not more questions. A lsighter issue is that the more women that get added the more difficult it becomes to connect with the ladies. Sheila was a standout character to me, and I have long hoped that Victor would get a chance to fight her husband at some point. Now she is barely mentioned in contrast to Trell, who somehow manages to dominate each scene that the women are in. Earle focuses on only two or three women a book, and the majority of that deals with them having sex with Victor. It makes it hard to connect with the newbies and maintain ties to the classic guard of the camp. It makes me wonder just how many women becomes too many women in a Harem. Yes, I get that the village needs to grow, and that everyone who is new has some ability that will make thier lives easier in the long run, but it can be overwhelming. To be honest he added a couple of girls in the last book and I can't even tell you the name of the alien who can make things heavier or lighter. The newest batch of babes are just a blur to me.

Still, I think one of the biggest standout moments came during Victor's battle. It was great to see him finally go toe to talon with a bloke that he wouldn't have even considered a possibility of fighting in book one. It was a great bloody fight that showed Victor what he was actually made of, and that he belonged as the leader of the team. It was a cool villain, too. To me, that fight scene made the whole book worthwhile. I still want to see Victor tackle Shelia's husband sans Dinos now more than ever.

Luke Daniels is an narration BEAST. I know I tout Jeff Hays alot, but I have to admit that Daniels is my second go to guy for narration. He has a bag full of voices that are authentic and stunning, he just doesn't do women's voices as well as Jeff, but he does do one hell of a dog. Just listen to the Iron Druid and you will see what I mean. He does a killer Irish Wolfhound impression. Here he completely knocks this story out of the park. He lends emotion to Victor that you could only get from amazing voicework. It doens't come from the page so much as Daniels' heart.

The book is good, but I am starting to need more from the series than just setting up camp, sex scenes, and dinosaurs. 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

  • Lucid Dreams & Spiritual Warfare, Books 1-3

  • By: Maria Isabel Pita
  • Narrated by: Maria Isabel Pita
  • Length: 21 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

I'm 18 years old, and for as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by ancient Egypt. I'm staying with my best friend, Carol, who's working as a photographer in an Old Kingdom burial ground, where her Egyptologist boss is on the trail of a major discovery. But someone much more powerful than the antiquities department seems to have gotten wind of it, and for some mysterious reason, he is also intensely interested in me and the dreams I have begun having.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An amazing series of Spirituality and sensibility

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-31-18

An amazing series of Spirituality and sensibility

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

Reviewed: 10-31-18

Maria Isabel Pita really suckered me pretty good with this series. I thought her first book, the Spirit of Imhotep, was a "mummy" tale. You know, kid goes to Egypt, heads into a pyramid, wakes up some slumbering monster and all heck breaks lose. That was not the book at all. Nope. But I still listened to it, because, darn her, she writes an interesting story. She writes from her spirit, you really feel that as you listen to the narration that she does. Yes, she is also a double threat, writing and narrating her own book. It was pretty apparent to me that Pita was telling her own story, at least I had suspicions because everything she said had an air of honesty and realness to it.

You may not realize this, but like I said, I expected the first book to be about a mummy, which means that I am a horror junkie. I love action; blood and gore must be in my tales to keep my attention. At the very least I need an elf, a sword, or an alien to keep me happy. FYI, neither of the first two books in this series have any of those. Yep. I got the second one, too. Something about Pita, and her spirituality really struck home for me. Now, you find me with her third book in this journey in my metaphorical hand (it's really on my iphone). So, why would a guy who is an action hound read a spiritual romantic story that has deep religious/spiritual aspects to it? Because Pita's semi-autobiographical story really moves you. Even I, a manly man, was touched deeply by this journey. This is not an action tale, but the story of how one woman discovers who she is and where she fits in this world. It is a story of awakenings, almost like she was sleepwalking through her life until ge was touched by christianity.

The lucid dreaming aspects are relevant to my life, as I have seen one occur right in front of me with my wife and kid, so even as far fetched as sone of you may find this aspect it is real. I find Pita's voice calming and soothing, which is the tone of this book. It is a healing tome.

In spite of the lack of a bad guy needing beaten up, or a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity I have been lucky to have found a series like this. I'd like to think that on some deeper level I have changed a little for the better, and have a stronger faith and that my spirituality has grown more than I realize. There are levels to this book, and the rest of the series that you will have to really focus on to get the pay out on a concious level. I really am sorry to see this story end. I could not ask for more from a book, a series, or a writer.

Except, maybe she could write a mummy story now.

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. In fact, 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!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Vortena: Everybody Loves Large Chests, Volume 3

  • By: Neven Iliev
  • Narrated by: Jeff Hays
  • Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 495
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 467
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 466

What happens when one takes a murderous psychopath and forces them to team up with a cowardly tinkerer? Though not a question Jeremiah ever expected to ponder, he is nevertheless looking forward to seeing what the aforementioned duo will cook up. Success or failure does not matter to Richard, only that the journey be entertaining.     

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Boxy's back and your gonna be in trouble . . .

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-31-18

Boxy's back and your gonna be in trouble . . .

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

Reviewed: 10-31-18

. . . hey ya, Boxy's back.


Everybody's favorite murder box has returned for yet another installation of this amazing series of monstrous adventures. It has a few things going for it right off the bat. First, it pretty much picks up where the last book ended. I like that. Sometimes a months later type opening works, but not here; it is important to note that Boxy is still very young, in spite of his powers, and it is good to stay with that. Secondly, we get right into the lich action, we don't really dawdle around trying to set the story up.

Iliev knows how to write so that the more things change the more they stay the same. By that I mean that no matter what happens to Boxy, no matter how he evolves he is still that little chest full of teeth and as brutal as ever. Truth is, every time someting happened I nearly panicked thinking things were going to dramatically alter the way our monster worked, and no matter what evolution Boxy went through he remained Boxy. Clueless, cunning, and without mercy. There are numerous battles that are fairly epic in nature; I really enjoyed the encounter with the Lich and how the murder box dealt with her. The demons are as nasty as you remember, which means lots of naughty fun. The only issue that I have with the book comes in how the mimic treats Fizzy. Her brutalization actually bothered me a bit, because unlike the demons or undead she was a living being who was basically tortured on a constant basis, and then there is an event that occurs that pretty much nearly made me stop listening just because it was rather real. I sort of wish Iliev had just pulled a Shawshank move and rolled away around the corner and left things to our imaginations, but later on it is clearly spelled out what happened. As an adult, I can say that this is an adult book, and how can I complain about something like that when people are being murdered left and right and I didn't blink an eye. So, contextually it fit, but I have to admit it hit me kind of hard. So be warned, there are some very grown up issues taking place. One thing that really amazed me is that this somehow turned into a harem book, with the mad box at the center of all the sexcapades. Considering that Boxy is basically an amorphous asexual I didn't see that part on the horizon at all.

Vortena is not heavy most of the time. Generally you will find your self chuckling at the antics of one of th characters or situations. The book is funny as hell, and it made me laugh multiple times, and I won't lie I never enjoyed the book more than when Boxy was slaughtering people. Ignorance is his armor and his confidence is his sword. A paragon of humility he is not.

The narration is top of the line, and Hays really nails the vocals. Seriously, I think he played Fizzy so well that she become pretty real, and that was why her incident bothered me so much. Also, there are only two books that have amazing hotline phonecalls, one is After Life by Domino Finn, and the other is this killer series. I cannot wait for the moments when boxy calls Carl and talks things over. Those moments are so precious that I really appreciate the way that they are handled. Jeff really upped his game this time around, as the emotional stakes also increased to such a high point. He made some stuff real. Kudos, because as much as I admire Jeff's voicework I don't think he ever hit a Fizzy emotional rollercoaster moment like this before. This is some top tier narration, and it rocked me right back to 1981, when Stray Cats released Rock this Town, cause that ws just what he did. He rocked it inside out. Hays just continues to get better and better.

This isone of those books that you burn through like it was soaked in gasoline. You have so much fun that you are sorry that there isn't a new novel lined up, so I get jealous of people who are just discovering this series, because they can SBT and chill as the series unfolds. Seriously, I was not panning the events in the book, but I will say that they will hit you hard, so be prepared. Get the latest installment now, because I need my Boxy to come back and eat more towns. 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

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Black Tar

  • Cinema of Awesomeness Series, Book 2
  • By: Michael Kanuckel
  • Narrated by: Karl A. Nordman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5

Michael Kanuckel's story creeped me out from the start. It has moments that combine classic VHS movies like McQueen's The Blob and some from John Carpenters The Thing. It does this with minimal characters and locations and uses its uniquely crafted story to conjure up images straight from nightmares. The characters are drawn so well that they are real. Their (and your own) fear becomes truly and horrifically tangible. When you enter this desolate nightmare, it leaves you wanting more. It has one of the best cliff-hangers I have read. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Creepy and suspenseful Cinematic Splatter

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-28-18

Creepy and suspenseful Cinematic Splatter

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

Reviewed: 10-28-18

The Cinema of Awesomeness Series is really living up to its name. I would say that they all have a B-movie tye of feel to them, what with Hercules totting an arm cannon and people killing and becoming plants in books 3 & 1 respectively, this book comes across in a much creepier tone. Honestly, when I first saw this I was hoping for something along the lines of Night of the Ceeps, Return of the Living Dead, or even Night of the Comet. Those are all incredible B-Movies that just ooze awesomeness and are so unforgettable that you have to stop and watch whenever you see them on. That was not what I got.

This had more of a John Carpenter, when John Carpenter was good, kind of film. Honestly, one of my all time favorite horror films is the Thing, and this carries that vibe all the way through. Funny thing is, I didn't even read the book's description until after I had already come to this conclusion, and from what I could see I have to agree that it also has the McQueen Blob vibe. The feeling is hopelessness, desolation, barren, and loss. In other words, the perfect book for a nice weekend listen. I'll be clear, the book is not a downer, in fact it will keep you on the edge of your seat as you listen. It definitely has a mood all unto itself and is a standout in the Cinema series. The writing will grip you, it is vivid, descriptive and full of stomach churning events. This is not one to listen to before bed.

Nordman does a decent job, he doesn't quite fit the mood, so to speak, but I couldn't find any faults with his performance. He handles the characters and atmosphere, but I just think he was not meant in this style. It would be kind of like having Morgan Freeman narrate events in the Thing. Amazing voicework, wrong dude to do it. Still, I can't complain about his work as he carried the book very well, and I was creeped out so something must have clicked.

As much as I love Candela and Hill, this book really stood out. Maybe becasue it was a touch more grounded. It certainly had a Phantoms vibe going on, and I love that freaking movie to death. This is an excellent addition to the series and a real standout on its own. If you love horror then this is the novel for 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.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Hercules with a Shotgun

  • Cinema of Awesomeness, Volume 3
  • By: Kent Hill
  • Narrated by: Darrin Eigenbauer
  • Length: 1 hr and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Hercules, the legendary son of Zeus, has beaten all the monsters in the universe. In doing so, he has garnered enormous amounts of fame and fortune. Retiring to his island getaway, he is content to bask in his celebrity and do as little as possible. That is until a new monster comes to earth looking for trouble, Zeus and his brothers get booted out of Olympus, and the squad of showboats Herc left behind to handle the publicity are annihilated. Hercules is forced to get back into the fight, only to discover there is something missing, said something being his supernatural strength.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You know you're in trouble when Herc is packing

  • By Ray Johnson on 10-26-18

You know you're in trouble when Herc is packing

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

Reviewed: 10-26-18

You know you are in some deep spit when the son of Zeus is packing more than his six pack o' abs. Hill kills me with his concepts, one second he's writing about alien porn producers and the next he's pulling a mythical hero out of the mists to fight alien shark monsters that are devouring everything they see. That is one wicked imagination. It's cool to see the Lion of Olympus raining down death and destruction in new and innovative ways.

The story is pretty short, just over an hour, but it is worth it for the giggles and visuals that Hill provides. If you are looking for a quick dip into doofy fun and B-movie magic then go no further. I totally envisioned Lou Ferrigno as Hercules as the book went on, and it worked pretty well for me. I almost wish that Eigenbauer had given herc a slight speech impediment, that would have made it perfect for me. He does a good job on the narration, and was a solid performer. Either way this is an Amuse Bouche, a small tasty bite that fulfills a little need you didn't know that you had. Not something that you will want to miss out on. I can't wait for Hercules with an Uzi, or even a Bazooka as a follow up.Hmmm, maybe Thor with a Chainsaw would be a better follow up. Kent Hill could not only pull it off, but he'd make you BELIEVE a god of thunder could cut of limbs with an enchanted Black and Decker. 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.

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  • Outback Bites

  • By: Kent Hill
  • Narrated by: Tom Edwards
  • Length: 2 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 4

Things that bite are pretty common in the land down under. A predator could be lurking behind every tree, inside every shadow. It is, however, a horrible new menace that threatens the serenity of the vast, sunburnt country: washed inland on a wave of toxic waste, mixed with great white sharks and sleazy topless waitresses. The outback is dry and boring at the best of times...but now, it really bites!  

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not for me.

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 10-09-18

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear

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

Reviewed: 10-26-18

And it shows them pearly whites, Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe, Scarlet billows start to spread . . . .Traveling in a fried-out combie On a hippie trail, head full of zombieI met a strange lady, she made me nervous She took me in and ate me for breakfast!

Bloody Sheila's running around biting . . . .Sorry, spoilers. Can't tell you too much or I'd ruin all the fun. Wouldn't want that would you. This is where I unveil my love of B-movies to you, because I love cheesy over the top craziness filling my screen on a Saturday afternoon, so I am in heaven when I get it in the form of an audiobook, too. There have been some great B-movie styled books that I would put this beside Zombie Bigfoot and Sharkrantula to name a couple, but Hill just nails that genre so well (See Hercules with a Shotgun for an example). Plus he seems to love sharks, since his other book, the Aforementioned Hercules with a Shotgun also fights Shark monsters.

The take here is kind of like Jaws meets Humanoids from the Deep, and let's face it, Jaws only escaped being a B-monie by the luck of the box office gods. Hill takes us down under, or down undah as they pronounce it, and serves up a bloody and chummy vegemite sandwich. Toxic sludge, nekkid ladies, and great whites combine *ahem* to make for a brutally funny and amazing story. Hill never lets me down as a listener of Audio, his visual depictions are spot on!

Edward's narration wasn't bad, and the accent was decent. I honestly don't know if he was doing an accent or if he is Austrailian, but that is because I don't have an ear for that style except from shows like that Good Place and movies like Crocodile Dundee. The accent isn't the issue, his voice is a little weaker than I'd have liked for the story. Other than that he does a fine job reading and portraying the events in the tale, so I only bumped him one star for his part. Just not manly enough for a bloke fighting fanged terrors.

SO, Hill has struck again, this time with a bloody maw and megaladon sized story set in the deadliest land in the world. The toughest survivalist, i.e. people who make Bear Gryllis look like a three day contestant on the show Survivor, take on the deadliest predators on land or sea. Sheila's with no tops. Like I said, he pulls out all the stops. Get it now. 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.

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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
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64

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.

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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