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Ray Johnson

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  • Conquest

  • The Dungeon Core Gambit, Book One
  • By: Antony W.F. Chow
  • Narrated by: Camille DuBois
  • Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 215
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 202
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 204

When Markos Turloch is murdered by his boss, Bobbi Nox, as revenge for whistle-blowing on his employer, he loses his humanity and is reincarnated as a diamond-like dungeon core in another world. When his dungeon helper, Jessica, comes across a dying young man being sexually tormented by a female ogre, Markos' decision to save his life becomes the turning point in Markos' new existence. Upon learning the truth of this new world as one where females dominate in both numbers and social status, Markos decides to conquer the land of Enwald and reassert male dominance as its king!

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Don't Buy

  • By Zachary on 12-16-18

Barely Dungeon Core

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

Reviewed: 01-02-19


Conquest is a book that feels like a dungeon core book, but then doesn’t feel like a dungeon core book. It starts off with a guy being murdered in a pretty hardcore fashion. I think Chow is a big fan of Lorena Bobbitt, because his assassin sure as heck makes the MC live out a John Wayne Bobbitt scenario prior to his death. The guy gets reborn as a dungeon core, and immediately starts making monster friends, absorbing people, and growing his territory.
The story flips between dungeon building and sex scenes, since the world has a dearth of viable males to support the population. I’m not sure if this originally started out as a naughty book that evolved into a dungeon book, or a dungeon book that evolved into an erotic book but it is very hard to tell what the focus actually was on. I have no problem with sex scenes, but I need a solid story behind it. I do read harem books, and I am no prude, but this was not my cup o tea sex wise.

My issues with the story are thus. First, the book never really delivers a challenge to the MC. He pretty much overcomes and outthinks any obstacle in his way. There was never a threat or serious concern for his success. Secondly, the way that the story explains that dungeon cores need to keep themselves hidden and secret, but I never saw the protagonist do that ever. Pretty much every person or thing that he encounters he tells. Third, he expands really quickly, most dungeon books take time building rooms, levels, etc. This dungeon expands its territory and range by incredible leaps and bounds. Third, the core’s helper was either deliberately obtuse or was a savant, because she was constantly goofing things up, and then she was a master. It made no sense. Fourth, the cheat that the dungeon exploited, garnering limitless mana pretty much at will. Fifth, there were literally no monsters in the dungeon. That is what is fun about the dungeon genre. New monsters. I wanted to see more with the nematode or queen ant, but no. Also, there is only one real party of adventurers who take on the dungeon, and they mostly quit halfway through. What does it say when a band of adventurers don’t even want to do a dungeon run? Then I even had a grammar issue in the audiobook. This is me being picky, but I have to call it out when I hear something like this. The word Dwarfesses is used a lot, which comes across like dwarfesses. I would have rather that the terms she-dwarves, female dwarves, lady dwarves, or even just dwarves, as it was very clear that he was only referencing the female variety of dwarven folks. It might have actually worked ok on the page, but when spoken out loud it was mildly silly.
Speaking of out loud, Dubois is clear and clean, but almost robotic in her speaking. She had a very boring delivery style. I found her to be intently hard to listen too. She also had some mispronunciations, but I’ll just call out one. Look, if you are entering a specific style of genre like Sci fi or fantasy, get used to technobabble or strange creatures being named. In other words, prepare yourself. Dubois uses the pronunciation of Like in place of Lich. This was very irritating and coupled with her style every little error that she made stood out like the Eiffel Tower on Liberty Island. I have said it before, and I will say this again. Narration is key to keeping your story interesting on Audible. Choosing a bad narrator is like shooting yourself in the foot. You might hobble along, but you aren’t going to win any races. She crushed this story with her monotone flat reading. She is not, by far, the worst I have ever heard, but man, she is not even a middle of the pack narrator, unless you are talking about a pack of cigarettes.

I really struggled with this, I tried to figure out if it was a Litbook that wanted to be a dungeon core book or a dungeon core book that lost its way. I really did not feel like this was a dungeon core book. It was missing too many elements for it to be that, it also strained my LITRPG perceptions since there was no real attempt at levelling or other standard fare things like stats abounding. Taking it for just the story I was given I have to, coupled with the narration, give this 6.5 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






9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Steam Whistle Alley

  • An Adventure in Augmented Reality
  • By: Joshua Mason
  • Narrated by: Sena Bryer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

When an augmented reality game’s creator offers him goggles, Jacob enters a city he thinks he knows. But towering monuments of Victorian architecture have replaced the skyscrapers. Airships float between the buildings. Fearsome enemies, from steam-powered rabbits to clockwork werewolves, lurk in every shadow. But with the game comes a quest, and to the victors go the deed to Steam Whistle Alley, the social and financial heart of the game. And some of his adversaries aren’t playing games. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More like a cat call whistle than a steam one!

  • By Ray Johnson on 01-02-19

More like a cat call whistle than a steam one!

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

Reviewed: 01-02-19

Fans of Steampunk should enjoy this book, but so will people who are not steampunk fans. I say it like that because I wasn’t overwhelmed with a ton of steamy punky stuff, and that is because the book fluctuates between plain everyday reality as well as the augmented reality of the game. So the steam is there, but it isn’t super heavy. I really appreciated what Mason has done here, adding an element of real life to the game that is being played so that it isn’t a simple enter the VR realm by putting on a visor and laying in bed all day. I loved how the goggles were used for that purpose. He also adds a hint of the Blade Runner tech, what with the synthetic monkey Banjo, who is a monkey in every way except for the actual matter of him not being a real monkey. I have to admit two things, I get a little leery of monkeys, and especially monkeys named Bingo, which is pretty close to Banjo, after watching Space Ghost Coast to Coast years ago. I will never forget Brak’s admonishment to never trust a monkey. Never.

Our intrepid hero, Jakey, gets partnered with the gal of his dreams, and makes a new friend or two along the way. This was one of the things that I didn’t like about the game play. The game creators chose your partner for you. I don’t care what algorithm you use, I don’t want my gaming partner chosen by Tinder. Technically, I hate joining teams, and often played my games alone, which is really hard in an MMORPG. Getting to 60 in WOW by myself sucked, and I wished that they made gameplay work so that you could play in a group or individually. Here, you aren’t given a choice. They pick a partner for you and you have to play together. One thing that actually bothered me was, again, how long it actually took to get into game. I understand set up, and the importance of building a the world, but I really believe that you should get your listeners/readers into the game as soon as possible. We were a good while into the book before we actually got into Steam Whistle Alley.

Truth be told, Sena See-na) Bryer’s narration really had to grow on me. It was really annoying at first, and I don’t know why. It was like there was a nasally tone to everything, very hard for me to describe. Bryer did pretty well, the narration itself was pretty clean and easy to understand. Different voices were used to varying effect, and the pacing was excellent, but it took me almost 2/3rds of the book before I could listen and not be driven crazy by whatever her voice was doing to my ears. After that point I was fine, but it really took me some time to settle in on her voice and I could just listen. Like I say, she did great, but I had some issue with her voice for some reason. Had nothing to do with her style or ability, it just wasn’t musical to my ears, but upon acclimation I didn’t notice it anymore.

So here’s the rundown, Jacob gets a chance to Alpha test a new game that takes place in Augmented reality, that is it takes place in the actual world, which means it required you to get off your fat butt and actually walk, explore, and fight outside. Considering I’m a misanthropic hermit who hates to leave the house I can already see that I’d be playing another game, but other people might actually like sunshine on their faces while they play. Once he’s is in game he learns that there are a couple of villainy type who are looking to take control of the game, and it comes down to Jake and his team to put the kibosh on them and their plans. One of my favorite aspects of the story is that there was no power leveling, no cheats, no backdoors, just straight up gameplay, grinding, and honest leveling. The only real issue I had was the way the story ended. It is a cliffhanger, and I don’t mind those, however the way it ended had some actual implications that weren’t all that great. I can’t give them away, but it bothered me a little. Either way, the book was fun, and I actually liked Banjo, even though I’d never trust him, and he was most importantly, not annoying. So, cool characters, sidekicks, and concept.

Final score a solid 8 stars. I actually forgave the issues I had with the narration since I could find no flaws, other than one part that was repeated, and that came when they were watching gears within gears. I look forward to the next book.

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

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

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Eden's Gate: The Reborn

  • A LitRPG Adventure, Book 1
  • By: Edward Brody
  • Narrated by: Pavi Proczko
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,914
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,805
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,799

When Gunnar Long is transported into the first fully-immersive virtual MMORPG, he finds himself in a new world filled with magic, mystery, and adventure. No more 9-to-5 job. No more studio apartment. No more reality TV. Finally, he's in a place where he can call home, a place with people he can call friends. But as more people want to trade their real world lives to get inside Eden's Gate, the government of the outside world wants the "game" shut down at all costs.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • very melancholy narrator.

  • By Justin on 01-01-18

A great LITRPG series starter

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Brody pens one helluva book here. I give him credit, he takes a few tropes here and turns then on their head. For me, this was a really fun ride, and I felt that this is one of those series that has a lot of potential, which means it is either going to soar or crash and burn horribly. Personally, I believe it is going to be the former rather than the latter, there is just too much beefy goodness here for the series to drop off. I can honestly only see it getting better.

So, here is the book in a nutshell. A new innovative virtual reality MMORPG is released, and everyone who is in the game on launch day dies as their minds are uploaded into the world of Eden’s Gate unwittingly and against their will. The games creator happily accompanies them and promptly shuts the game off from the outside world. There is no communication between the game world and the real world.

Gunnar, the protagonist, is told what happens via a message alert, but like you or me, he doesn’t understand nor believe what he’s been told. So he goes forward looking for a way out, and for his girlfriend, whom he believes had entered the game in a distant land due to her being a different race when they started out, but he admits he has no idea if she was in game when the great massacre occurred.

Now, where this book really stands out is the characters, Gunnar and his pals are fully fleshed individuals. I think the best example of how realistic Gunnar is comes when he makes a deal with Jax, a man who takes him in when he first arrives in the game, and then tries to weasel out of it. The entire event had the ring of truth to it. I could see a player doing that to an NPC. The repercussions were even better which just shows that the writing is excellent, and the plot is paced perfectly. Normally, I hate interludes with info from the “real world” but real world event had actual significance and had bearing on events in the game world in spite of there being no communication between the two. And that is the issue. People in the real world are killing themselves to enter the game, and the government feels it has to be stopped. So they implement a plan to shut down everything in an effort to wipe the game out. When Gunnar finds out he reluctantly agrees at first to help try to initiate contact between the two realities. And that is the crux of it all. The gamer’s reluctance to actually try to save the world he is in because of doubt is very believable, as is the staunch belief by the politicians that the game is just a game that must be shut down. The reactions, the reluctance, the revelations are all believable, and I enjoyed the whole aspect that Gunnar wasn’t out to win any prizes, nor was he an uber super character. He was just a player who happened to be at the wrong? Place at the right time. He is drafted more than he volunteers, but once he is onboard he is all in. Plus, he has ulterior motives, getting where he needs to go might just help him find his girlfriend. All in all, this book is really fun and my only concern is that the rest of the books will just focus on Gunnar’s lost love, and if it is just a secondary quest then great, as Gunnar really makes some strides in other game related areas then fantastic. I’ll wait and see, because I am most definitely going to be picking up the next book.


Proczko is an excellent narrator. He hits every mark that I can ask for. He does excellent voices, he is crisp, clean, and easy to follow, he paces the story well, he adds emotion and emphasis where needed and he makes you care about the characters in a way that the written word can’t convey. I keep going to Jax and the betrayal, he handled very well.

This is a solid book that was music to my ear holes. For that, I am going to say that this is a firm 8 out of 10 stars. Excellent work.
Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

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

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Awaken Online: Apathy (Side Quest)

  • By: Travis Bagwell
  • Narrated by: David Stifel
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,076
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,017
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,012

Eliza's parents are relentless - forcing her to constantly take extra courses to prepare for college and medical school. Sometimes, it feels like her entire life has already been planned out. Which is why she leaps at the chance to escape into a new virtual reality game, Awaken Online. What she wasn't expecting was to encounter a capricious god and his loyal "pet". Or to be chosen as this god's "avatar" within the game and forced to tackle a series of asinine quests. Yet she just can't shake the feeling that there is more to the irritating god than first meets the eye.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More, Need More!

  • By niaskywalk on 09-19-18

Story slowing down, not a fan of the character

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Here it comes, I am really getting bored with this series. Awaken Online is the title because I need three cups of coffee and a handful of no-doze to get through the latest books. Honestly. You want the truth, the best part of this book was that there was no chance of Alexion showing up, and he still had a mention. Eliza is just a more milquetoast version of Jason. She has his crappy parental relationship, and gets jerked around by an in-game god. The only difference is that Jason’s god is much cooler and much more tolerable. I absolutely hate every moment that the Hippie appears. I cannot stand Fluffy, and I think that every joke that they do or is done in their spirit falls flatter than a sheaf of rice paper. I just don’t see the appeal of the guy or the black sheep. His every appearance sends shivers down my spine.

The quests that he send Eliza on are neither funny nor very exciting. Honestly, at no point did I have a sense of danger or concern, nor even when she was killed. Yes, she does come up with an innovative way to kill the troll, but it was as exciting as watching someone spray a wasp with a can of Raid. Her solution for the Stag was slightly better, and she actually showed some life when she confronted the other players, but that went by the wayside as soon as she got back home. One moment of real growth and it was squished quickly. Seriously, she kills a ton of players but feel bad when she is given a quest to basically wipe out a band of pirates. It made no sense.

For some reason Bagwell has decided that it is much better to have an intellectual battle or solution rather than an actual fight. I don’t know about you but I like my intellectual battles fought in conjunction with a sword or spear. In his third book the most mind numbing scenes came when the team was doing the Hippy’s trials. This felt like a longer more drawn out version of those trials. I really don’t know why Bagwell is going this direction because in the first two books Jason not only out thought but he out fought his enemies. Here, it seems like Eliza is afraid to get her hands dirty. The only real moment where I saw a touch of Jason came when she confronted the PKers. There she duped and destroyed them. Then she went and became old Eliza again. That was the whole book, cry about how hard her life at home was, arguing with the hippy, doing an asinine Hippy quest, and then complaining about it afterwards. Wash, rinse, repeat. I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I am not liking the direction this series is taking. Again, I will reiterate, this felt like a pilot episode for a spin-off within an established series. Chandler from Friends goes to visit his awkward cousin Eliza, we then spend some time with Eliza, Chandler pops back in to say good bye and next fall we have Eliza’s show, The Awkward Herbalist or the Anguished Alchemist, not sure about the title yet, but you get the idea. This is not a series that I will continue out of love. I’m sure I’ll get it just to keep up the reviews, but that is the only reason.

David Stifel stays true to form, and does his solid work as always. If you liked him in the other three books you won’t be disappointed here. He is probably the one saving grace that this book had, because if he hadn’t have been here to keep this story anchored it would have drifted far afield of where it should have been.

I know that there are a lot of Travis Bagwell fans out there, hell, I know authors who won’t even try to do a release near him, but I am growing to be less enthused about this series the longer it goes on. I’d like to see him stick to Jason’s exploits or create a character who doesn’t have trolls for parents and actually has a spine and a brain. They can be a little broken, but I need a break from the weak and obsequious characters that he pummels us with, and Eliza is the biggest offender.

I’m giving this book a rating of 7 stars. I feel that this is just a revisit from the last book that really didn’t need written. Thankfully it wasn’t a 22 hour novel because I would have had a hard time finishing it.

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 3 people found this review helpful

  • Martyrs

  • Legends of the Great Savanna, Book 1
  • By: Justin Lincoln
  • Narrated by: Matthew Broadhead
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 127
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 128

After being approached by the military with a contract he couldn't refuse, James winds up uploaded into a virtual-reality game as a beta tester. Waking up in the Great Savanna, James struggles with a less-than-useful interface before he comes across two creatures locked in battle. The shoulder-high grass allows him glimpses of a lionesque creature fending off a torrent of scales and claws. He grows to love the beauty of the Great Savanna and his adopted game brother, whose life he saved.... That is until Patrick arrives and the tranquility of the game is shattered.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • MY NEW FAVORITE SERIES

  • By Amazon Customer on 07-20-18

Cool concept

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Martyrs is a book I would readily recommend to a few types of listeners, those who are new to the genre, young adults, or families looking to listen to something together that’s light and fun. The book is not overly heavy on the numbers, and is most certainly meant for a younger audience with references to characters like Lion Dude. Well, I should say that it starts off stat lite and works it way into the numbers and game info at around the 30% mark of the book.

James, the MC, wakes up and finds himself in game. His mission, as far as he knows is to take six months and figure out what he can about the game. He arrives in the camp of the Martyrs, a group of lion folk, and settles in with them for a bit. The mechanics of the game do work pretty well, and one aspect that I liked was how the game gradually altered as he learned about how to play. I enjoyed the town building aspect a lot, but the one thing that did throw me was the sort of game within the game, that got played out like Tower Defense. I could have done without that bit altogether. Still, it is nice to see a new fantasy race, and not your standard elves, orcs, dwarves, and goblins as the MC’s best pal.

One thing that really bothered me was the way the Martyrs were handled. They were on their last legs as a species so to speak, and yet they continually do nothing to stop the rapid decline of their numbers. At the end all I could think of was here is a pretty neat new race, and they are doomed to extinction because of poor decisions and lackluster defense. Another thing that bugged me was the way that the MC and pals behaved. I have five and seven year olds who act more mature and consider their actions better than James. I find it ironic, too, because at the beginning of the book he is mistaken for a human child because of his size. I just wish that he had acting more like a grown up (I hate that term), rather than a child.

In spite of this the book does hold your interest and has some solid moments that keep you hooked, it is certainly worth the time that you put into it, and like I say this is some good family fare, and if you have ever listened to me you know that I love family books because then I can listen to a book while I drive and get the added bonus of the kids keeping their yaps shut for a few hours. I really didn’t mean that. Much.

Matthew Broadhead has become kind of hit or miss with me. He was great in the Bathrobe Knight series by Charles Dean and the Artificer by James Hunter, but then he tanks hard in Warscapia by Garrett Boggs. Here, he kinda hits the middle of the road, not bad, but not amazing either. I’d say he was solid, but did not stand out. I really think for him it is the material. If he doesn’t have a strong connection then he doesn’t pop as much as he should. Here he seems almost languid in his approach to reading this, and I know I have said there were times that I wanted to slow down my narration speed because the action was so hot, here I wanted to speed it up. I didn’t but I should have. It might have helped. Either way he was just a 5 or a 6 on the narration scale. This saddens me because I think he was the first narrator that we found who was for the whole family, that even my wife enjoyed.

There were some issues, so I’m going to give this a 7.5 stars. Honestly, the game within a game bit just made no sense other than to throw it in just because, and the narration choked the book a little as well. It is a fun slice of life styled book, and I think it only struggles when it gets away from that aspect.


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

  • Anomaly

  • Somnia Online, Book 2
  • By: K.T. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 195
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 186
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 184

As Murmur reels in the wake of the secret her friends tried to keep, her grip on what is real and what is virtual begins to slip. What's more, she's no longer sure whom she can trust. Stalked across the continent by a rogue with a vendetta, Murmur is forced to dig deep and develop her abilities before she finds a knife in her back. Suspicion surrounds the AIs as well. Their behaviors are too human, their reports too perfect. Shayla and Laria must uncover the truth before the system raises concerns and Murmur is lost forever.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Moving ahead, but needs second wind

  • By Ray Johnson on 12-27-18

Moving ahead, but needs second wind

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

I am going to caveat this review by saying that I am not a huge fan of slice of life books. I try to love them, but they really do very little for me. In my eyes a book needs a real direction. For example, I don’t believe Lord of the Rings would have been all that popular if it was just a buddy road trip tale about Sam, Frodo, Pip, and Merri flouncing across the countryside as they sort of made their way to drop off a ring. This is my big problem with Neil Gaiman’s American God’s novel. It was whole lot of tire spinning to get to an ending that could have been accomplished in a lot less pages. So, me and Slice-of-life don’t get along, unless it involves Dexter Morgan.

K.T. Hanna has released her second book in the Somnia Online series, and this is one of those tire spinning numbers that I get hung up about so often. Remember how I felt about Daniel Schinhofenn’s latest Apocalypse Gates book? Well, I have to say this kind of mirrors that in that it does a lot of tire spinning but not a lot of story advancement. Murmur, Sin, and the others all get together to kind of figure out the situation now that our MC has been clued into the fact about her situation. We do get a bit of a reveal as to what happened to the corporate boss once he entered the game, and why one of the AI’s has Murmur picking up chunks of black rocks all over the area.

The rest of the time we see Murmur’s mother and boss IRL trying to figure out what happened and how to help murmur, or we get Murmur having a hissy fit over her condition and the way the others all kept things from her. I think she and Sin have an apology and reconciliation at least twice over the same thing, and Murmur snaps on her team numerous times even though she knows that what they did they did to protect her. That is pretty much the entire story. Murmur advance some levels, takes umbrage with her condition in some way, and vents on those around her. Then makes up or apologizes.

Now, while this sounds a bit lackluster I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the story or the character’s, and how they progressed. I also thing we will be seeing an AI go rogue and the non-villain from the first book grow into the role of a villain proper. I also standby my assessment in my first review that at some point that Sin is going to confess her romantic love for Murmur, which will throw yet another kink in the gears for poor Mur. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it is only a matter of time before this comes to light.

I did enjoy Murmur growing in power, but I felt that it was odd adding in a druidic element to her powers and giving her a “pet” as well. I think that her psionicist class was interesting enough on its own, and the only reason I can see her getting Snowy (the wolf) is so when Sin does confess her feelings that she has someone to talk to that won’t judge her. So, did I hate the book? No. But I certainly felt a sophomore slide as the tale itself really didn’t progress much other than it the ways I have already stated. I could have really used some more fights, the guild clash was fun, but it didn’t have as much impact as the train scene in the first book. Train scene? Not what you think! MMORPG type of train. Really people!

Andrea Parsenau continues to do her magic here. She conveys a ton of varying bits of emotional expressions from each character, for example, Tell is deeply concerned in a fatherly way with Murmur, whereas Sin definitely acts much more clingy and tied to Murmur. She makes the AI that is seeking the black stones seem like he is slowly becoming more treacherous with each appearance and will be developing into the real heavy of the story. The only thing I didn’t get, and this is just a minor thing that I noticed; the female AI is supposed to be mysterious and a little unstable. I’d have almost wanted her played out like Harley Quinn, so that when she was serious then you’d know that something bad was really happening. Again, Andrea is great here, but I think the female AI needed a bit more instability in the way she spoke just to convey how her siblings saw her. She seemed more like a fey queen, which might be what Hanna wanted.

The story is rock solid, just like last time, but there was really no forward motion, and it felt like it was riding on the big reveal at the end of book one to carry this book onward. There are great characterizations, but I don’t think that anything happens in either world that wasn’t from the actions in the first book. Slice of life is fine if you have a point, for example, the big reveal was enough for the last book. Here we completely miss that, and it was sorely needed Final Score is 8 stars. I still look forward to book 3.

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

  • The Slime Dungeon

  • The Slime Dungeon Chronicles, Book 1
  • By: Jeffrey "Falcon" Logue
  • Narrated by: Ryan Turner
  • Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 346
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 329
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 330

Death came on swift wings. A soul, blessed by a goddess, falls to the land and enters his new life. He clings to a single memory, the defining moment of his previous life. Now he learns how to succeed in his new life as a new dungeon heart. To become the best dungeon he can be, he partners with the one existence all dungeons need: his bonded dungeon pixie.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Short, expensive, vague, and cringworthy.

  • By Nathanael on 08-22-17

Who doesn't love a slime?

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

This book came out shortly after Dungeon Born, by about five months, and actually bears a lot of similarities to the novel by Dakota Krout. For example, the companion is a Dungeon Pixie, and the dungeon is unique in its own way too. Doc, the dungeon, has no recall of who he was only that he must save “her”.

That is where the similarities end. Doc is not interested in how things are normally done, he likes to follow the unbeaten path, and really goes in for using slimes as his vessels of destruction. Now, I am very much a fan a short story called Slime by Joseph Payne Brennan, which appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology called Monster Museum and predated one of my favorite movies, the Blob, by five or so years. There is also the movie Creepshow 2, with the piece titled the Raft, and the movie Phantoms, as well. There were also movies like Caltiki, the Immortal Monster, and the H-man that made me love gelatinous monsters. Heck, my favorite monsters were Cubes, green slime, and the various puddings. So, I think you can see my attraction to a dungeon filled with voracious slimes.

Doc, however, is a fair lair of death, and does his best only to kill when absolutely necessary. He feeds himself in other ways. And while the dungeon is the Main character, there is a story in which a royal person is plotted against, and targeted for murder. The dungeon intervenes, as he recalls that he must save “her” and goofs up the plot. This leads to a mess of events happening, which slowly reveals the big bad of the book.

The writing is pretty good, but it does almost feel episodic, like each chapter was written in and of itself, it isn’t bad, but it doesn’t seem to flow as well as it could have. Also, while Doc and Claire have a nice relationship it feels a little weird, almost like two kids wanting to play doctor but never getting there. Part of the episodic feel stems from the way the characters are introduced, it’s sort of like Bob the paladin came in, he was from the bo-shan province, and he was so good looking people called him the face of bo. He worshipped the sun god, Dial, and had six brothers and sisters. It really isn’t that bad, but it gives you an idea of how they are not given a chance to develop some depth, and allow us to find out about them naturally. It isn’t bad, but it does detract from the fun of discovering a character on our own. That is about it for flaws. It isn’t perfect, but there are a lot of good things. The relationship between Claire and Doc, Doc’s desire to be a “good Dungeon” and not kill people. The way he takes in the wolf cubs, and grows his slimes. Even the villain is cool, and properly evil. The book is fun, and sets up a good bit to make the next book flow a little easier now that the world building is out of the way.
In the spirit of honesty, I have only recently listened to this book. I got it just so that I could review it for this special. The reason I held off for so long is that I had listened to the audio snippet that Audible provides, and I was leery about the narration provided by Ryan Turner. It didn’t grab me, but I said, hey here is an author that I am not giving a chance because of my impression from a 5 minute clip. That’s not exactly fair, so I gave this a try. Turner is a fair narrator. He does quite well on most voices, but he does stumble on the female ones a bit. It was hard to discern which lady he was speaking for sometimes, and none of them stood out to me like Vikas Adam’s Dani, or Jeff Hay’s doing Jade for example. I would say he did a more than competent job, I just wasn’t overwhelmed with the ladies in the book. When he just does the straight reading he’s fine.

I did enjoy this book, and have subsequently gotten the other books in the series, so I know that I liked it. I don’t know what happens later on, but book one provides a lot of set up for what looks to be a fun lighthearted series. I would almost say that this had the potential to be a great family book or Young Adult series, but there is a potential rape scene, and that puts it right out of those categories for me. I can let my kids listen to a man get dissolved by a hostile slime, but yes, I do balk at them hearing someone talk about rape. My priorities may be a little skewed. Either way, just a few minor issues, so I have to give this an 8.1 stars. My biggest problem was with the narration, more than the story. The dungeon building and slime evolution was some of the best bits.


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

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

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











3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Off to Be the Wizard

  • By: Scott Meyer
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,696
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,072
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,073

It's a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hang in there

  • By Kelly on 03-04-17

Temporal distortion has never been so fun

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

This series fell into my lap as a suggestion in the Podcast’s Youtube page. I really appreciate that, as it keeps me from having to seek out books blindly.

Let me say, I hadn’t heard of Scott Meyer before this book, but this cat is on my radar now. The man knows how to set up a story, and make it funny. The tale revolves around a guy who discovers a small piece of code that makes him realize that he is living in a computer program, and that he can manipulate the system. In other words, there is no spoon. He can rewrite some of his code and provide all kinds of benefits to himself such as making himself taller, teleport, or wealthier by inflating his bank account, etc. Naturally, this leads him into getting himself into trouble with the law, and before you know it he flees to the past where he plans on setting himself up as a wizard. Now, we all know that nothing good comes from thinking like this, and that things are not going to go as planned. Still, the book really takes off and there is a ton of magic, time travel, thugs, FBI types, and wizards to keep you entranced before you know what hit you.

Meyer never misses a beat, and has a built in rim shot that appears every couple of beats to make you laugh. It is a good mix of funny, ironic, satire, and seriousness that all blends together in one hell of a sweet literary smoothie. I looked and there are quite a few books in this series, and I look forward to getting my grubby mitts on each one, just as much as I do other big names in the Litrpg genre.

One huge benefit for this series is that the book is narrated by Luke Daniels, and like Jeff Hays, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a book that he narrated that I didn’t love. Daniels proves to be as professional and silly as a person can be simultaneously. I think my favorite part was where he imitated sounding like someone speaking into a fan. That was pure narration brilliance. And his portrayal of Jimmy was soooo funny that I squirted milk out of my nose, and I wasn’t even drinking anything.

So, the question is is this book LITRPG or not? There are a lot of things to consider, but I’m going to go with two things. First, the wizards are all self aware NPC’s if nothing else. They know that they are algorithms, and it doesn’t bother them at all. Secondly, they are in a computer game. Of that there is no question. They literally rewrite code in order to achieve things that they want. Just on those two things alone I will say this is LITRPG, it doesn’t matter if it was a “real” human who entered the world or if the NPC’s suddenly became sentient. The end result is that the MC is trapped in a Sims like game and regardless of whether he is “alive” he is a player, and that too qualifies. So for this I’m calling it Lit! Final score for this Litrpg book is 8.1 stars. I can’t wait to listen to more of this wonderful series..

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

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

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Dahlia's Shadow

  • Puatera Online, Book 6
  • By: Dawn Chapman, Jess Mountifield
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Barbetta
  • Length: 3 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Dahlia has spent her entire life in Lila's shadow. Being the quiet twin, Dahlia shied away from sports and never excelled in any of the ways her sister did. Yet, thrown into the glitch-filled world of Puatera, her sister is no longer there to protect her, forcing Dahlia to uncover hidden strengths or be buried by her weakness. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This isn't the Black Dahlia, way better

  • By Ray Johnson on 12-27-18

This isn't the Black Dahlia, way better

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

Dawn Chapman brings us one step closer to the end game for her putera series, as I think the next book reunites us with a full time Maddie MC. I do so hope anyway. One of the things that I love about this series is that while it has action it also has a lot of emotion, and I never feel like it is spinning its wheels. There is always forward motion and the story never stops or slows down. Up until now we have just been getting puzzle pieces, each piece has a nice shape and is interesting, but it weaves a much bigger picture once you let the pieces fall into place. This is the final solo story of the sisters, and it is a fun ride.

There were a couple of things that I really liked about this book. First, we stayed with the three hour format that has been the case in all of the books except Akilla, book four which was 9 hours. Which was understandable, as it broke away from the first three books of the series. I also love the glitch factor in this game, you don’t see that very often in many LITRPG books where the glitches give stiches, but in Putera it is par for the course. I also have to say that Chapman & Mountifield have really woven an intricate and detailed world for these characters to play in. What I think I liked best was Dahlia’s struggle to finally shine on her own. Even though she is a twin she has sort of been in her sister’s shadow for some time. A place that she essentially skulked about, never really trying to be her own person. Her time in Putera forces her to stand up for herself and actually take control of her life for the first time. This, my people, is how you write character development, and it is pretty impressive just how much character growth the pair of writers manages to get out of Dahlia in just over three hours of time.


Suzanne Barbetta returns for another stab at the Puatera universe, an she brings her A game. She makes the story interesting and fun, but at the same time lets you realize that Dahlia is in danger and that at any moment a glitch is gonna get her. The only umbrage I took with her work is that she very clearly made Jessica sound have a completely different voice and style than she did in the last book. It sort of threw me off. I wanted to stop and then go back and listen to the last book, but I didn’t. I waited until I finished and then double checked and I was right. Same character different voices used. Just needed a little more consistency. Otherwise, a great job.

Oh, and one more thing, I find that usually, books that are four hours and under in length are not as good as I would generally hope they would be, but that isn’t the case here. Chapman, and I’m giving her the credit here since she started this series and did so in 3 hour increments, knows how craft an excellent short story. I didn’t give a lot away on this because it is pretty short, and anything I say could impact your listening pleasure, so I tried to play this close to the vest and not give a lot of specifics here just to avoid any issues of spoilage.

The book has a nice pace, as solid foundation, excellent character growth and development, and a cool ending that looks to lead us into the final book of the series. As things go I say this is a solid 8.2 stars. I am really looking forward to the next book in this series, even though I am saddened to see it coming to a close.


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

  • The Laboratory

  • A Futuristic Dungeon Core
  • By: Skyler Grant
  • Narrated by: Gabriella Cavallero
  • Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 359
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 340
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 339

Emma is an artificial intelligence with a love of science, insults, and devilish traps. When her systems are booted up, she finds herself in control of a long-abandoned facility in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The world is filled with dangerous threats, granted great powers by the same cataclysm that befell the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Ok quality video game fanfic

  • By The Nightgaunt on 12-12-17

Cool Concept

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

I have been wanting to try some of Skyler Grant’s stuff for a while now, but for some reason I always kept holding off with other books taking a priority in my queque. I’m really sad that I didn’t have an opportunity to get into this book sooner. I really love the Dungeon sub-genre, and honestly, only listened to this because I wanted to review a few different dungeon stories so that I could compare and contrast, because Grant has a few other books that I really want to put my ears to such as Glitch Hunter and his Shards series.

What is really great about this story is that it isn’t set in a fantasy world. It is a post cataclysmic event tale in which reality itself is changing. The tale rockets to a start with a reawakened computer core coming online just as the girl who rebooted her/it is about to be raped. Once that event is dealt with the core and the woman who wants to rule the world decide to join forces in order to see their wishes come to fruition.
One of the best things about the story is that the Computer core, Emma, is not a likable character. This kind of flies in the face of other dungeon stories as Cal from Divine Dungeon, Ryker from Dungeon Deposed, and even Edward from Dungeon Lord all seem to be honorable and likable people. Emma is rude, crass, and seems to do what is best for herself for the most part. This sets her apart from the other dungeon core types. Furthermore, her human companion is really just as single minded and power hungry as Emma is. All she wants to do is rule the world. So, you essentially have two characters who aren’t very nice or sympathetic. That can be hard on a reader. Now, I will admit that the book itself really doesn’t have much character growth, although there are points when Emma starts to question her relationship with her human partner. The book really is just one encounter after another with a boss fight at the end. There were points that it just felt like events happened because something needed to happen, and the oddest thing was the way in which all of these core users just sort of fell into Emma’s scope. She needed subjects, and lo many did appear.

The one thing that sort of fell flat for me was the narration. For the most part, Cavallero did a good job, but when she was not doing a voice for one of the human characters she was very monotone. I don’t know if this was in order to reflect that it was from a machine’s perspective, or if it was just her style of speaking because she did not pace the story like Andrea Parsinaeu or Laurie Catherine Winkel would. It was a direct and matter of fact reading in my opinion, and I feel she could have slipped in some emotion, I mean hell even Data and Spock had inflections when they spoke. Otherwise, she does a good job, I’m just picking at nits.

One of the best parts about the book was the setting, as it is mysterious, foreboding, and not an underground lair in the middle of a magical forest. I really appreciate the change in scenery, so to speak. Not all dungeons need to be magical, and Grant proves that here. In spite of story issues, such as flat characters and some we need a fight scene here moments, I enjoyed the book. I wanted to see more of the core’s world and find out just what had happened that broke the world. I have to be honest. In spite of some flaws, I really liked the book, and I think that the series will get better as it goes forward. I’m going to give this 7.5 stars, it is a fair start for a series, and is well written in spots.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful