Audiobook Review – Mechcraft

Mechcraft by Brian Fitzpatrick

Narrated by Meghan Kelly

#nomorehashtags

Jake is special, not by any ordinary means. This man is special in one peculiar way, he was born with the ability to create objects out of living metal from within his own body! Oh yea, how awesome is that?! I was so excited upon my initial receiving on this book for review that I immediately dived into it. The thrill, did not last long however.

Jake is in college and finds out that his family were also special. Belonging to a secret government experimental group, “The Phalanx”. This group of people were given injections of a living nanotechnology which allowed them to create and control living metal. Kind of like a mash up of the “T-1000” and “The Green Lantern”, the injected can summon the metal through their skin to take whatever shape they choose.

Sasha is our antagonist in this book. Having broken away from the secret group and making HER OWN secret group; she is tasked with finding and capturing Trent so he may be used for their own evil needs. Pretty basic concept as far as protagonist and antagonist go. The idea of the living metal through skin is interesting but it seems not totally thought out.

There seems to be no end to the items these nano robots can create. Anything from whipping tentacles to a 9mm handgun at one point. It seems to me that this is a little “too generous” with the ability as a whole. There need to be set backs of some sort or else the story will just be “who gets the lucky shot in and wins”. Being the first book written by Brian Fitzpatrick, this actually reads fairly well.

The narration was the harder pill to swallow for me. Meghan Kelly shows a lot of potential as a new up and coming narrator. Unfortunately, more often than not she is speaking to you in a soft whisper. Her voice plays through very sensual and heavy breathing; that doesn’t work for an action sequence. More often than not I would need to replay a section and turn up the volume; in doing so I would be hit with the more loudly mixed “regular speaking voice” and hear my speakers rattle at the difference.

All in all this book is ok, good but not great. The narration is ok, it needs work but it is good for a quick listen. None of this book really stands out to me except the overpowering ability to sling metallic liquid around like a total boss. Other than that however, I would be interested to see how the next book turns out.

Give it a listen and tell us what YOU think!

Overall: 4/10

https://www.audible.com/…/Te…/Mechcraft-Audiobook/B07FDPCPHJ

AudioBook Review – Blademage Beastmaster

Blademage Beastmaster by Deck Davis

Narrated by J. Scott Bennett

“He thought about lying, but it was pointless. It all came back to “protecting the ego”; that is the only reason for it.”

I had been looking at the cover for this book for some time now. Eagerly anticipating the day I am to be given the opportunity to review it. At first look the cover speaks to me of fond memories in my younger literary world. Perhaps I have mounted this particular work a bit too high for my expectations.

First let me just say, overall, the book is good. Not great, but not really bad either. It definitely has some peaks and valleys however, which median result into just that; average. The story is simple and one fans of this genre have heard time and again. A man is brought into a fantastic video game world by one or several gods.

The pivotal pantheon player here is the unlikely source of divine power in; The God of Corn. Shucks, what an earful you’re going to get in unraveling this tale indeed. In its entirety, the first chapter explains why the gods are meddling in the the affairs of mortals. It would seem our lowly valued, but highly charismatic “God of Harvests” is tired of being the low man on the totem pole. Wishing to have more ability to impact the lives of his worshippers; he seeks employment in a different category of work. Being denied the job he applied for, yet still loved by a few other gods. He is given the chance to shape the life on an individual in a video game world to which will neither harm the human’s reality or give the God much room to fail.

This is where the book started to completely lose me, which isn’t good as I have stated this was the first chapter. Moving along we follow the human “Charles” on his adventure and exploits into this video game fantasy world. A lot of the elements to the book are the same archetypes as usual however being put into interesting new skins. For instance, he meets a spear wielding-alchemical practicing-half gnome female almost immediately upon entering his first dungeon. That character sounds so cool in theory; it just fell flat for me.

This is the recurring theme to this book, unfortunately. There are many ideas given to which sound good on paper, ironically, do not work in practice for a book; at least not written this way. The use of language Deck Davis employs is actually pretty good, however, it reminds me of a teenager’s first attempt at writing. That feeling of “I’m going to be so different, it is bound to be original!” rings very loudly throughout the narration.

As an avid fantasy reader, I can appreciate the attempt to shine light on some of the more overlooked races and class types found in some of the older roleplaying games. They just do not work in this instance. Take the title of the book “Blademage Beastmaster” right off the bat, I as the reader, am expecting an awesome sword wielding spell slinger who can control animals. What we get instead is a lacklustre dagger friendly character who just likes animals. Like I said, it falls pretty flat.

The narrator chosen for this book has a lot of the same going for him. I really liked his voice, but not for this book. All through my time listening, I was constantly thinking that J. Scott Bennett sounded like a joyous Father Christmas who was sharing a bedtime story with his tired worker elves. In fact, the book even put me to sleep, twice. That is quite the accomplishment. I spent twice the length of this book, listening for and double checking my opinion on the material. Through both listens I kept an open mind and prepared for plenty of notes. I was rewarded with a short, restful nap and the same opinion each time; meh.

I honestly will have forgotten this book by next week, as such, I can say definitively that this book is safe to avoid. You will not feel any less accomplishment by not adding its title to your purchased works. With that being said, if you read this review and fancy yourself an audiobook reviewer then please give it a go and tell us what you think.

Once again to reiterate; I enjoyed J. Scott Bennett as a narrator; not for this book, however. The writing was good, but nothing noteworthy or outstanding. The characters tried really hard, but ended up getting nowhere. The book lasted a lot longer than I think it should have; yet somehow seemed to get nothing done. Give it a whirl, maybe it is just me, somehow I doubt it, however.

Overall: 3/10

https://audible.com/…/Blademage-Beastmaster-Audi…/B07D2JQZZZ

AudioBook Review – The Zee Brothers Omnibus

The Zee Brothers omnibus by Grivante Press

Narrated by Ian McEuan

“…did you try 0420? Didn’t work?!”

Have you ever wanted to see a Monty Python & Kevin Smith zombie mashup? Well, I present to you the audiobook version. This book is literally nothing but punchlines, one liners, and bloody carnage.

Being someone who reviews books often I am very pleased when I come across a book and author who makes this story type actually work. Most often the jokes end up being lost in the seriousness of the actual story and plot later in the book or even the series. So far with these two books, which stand at a just over a whopping five hours together; delivers just that. Five hours of nonstop laughter and brutally murdered ex-humans; sounds like a great time to me!

This series opens upon a phone call to the “Zee Brothers” Jonah and Judas; by way of a third party ex employer. Summoning these specific “pest control guys” an irate homeowner is suddenly attacked by the living dead emerging from his basement. The fact these unfortunate heroes are given the names Jonah and Judas plays right into the idea and flow of the remaining story. Eventually our heroes encounter a buxom beauty by the name of JJ and her canine companion “Xanadu”.

Oh no you read correctly; I told you Monty Python and Kevin Smith.

It gets even better than that my friends as this unsuspecting pup pulls a pivotal trick from it’s sleeve by literally channeling the powers of Olivia Newton-John herself! Xanadu also has some other incredible abilities that I will not spoil for you here; never the less, they are magical indeed. Basically the story ends after a couple hours of righteous zombie slaughter followed by the epic dance of Xanadu.

Book two is more of the same, however opening up this time within the walls of a school. The principal in the scene being patient 1 in this case, as patient 0 is his secretary; with her head buried in his lap. More of the same violence is portrayed throughout this book as in book one. Honestly, as I said before, I absolutely loved it. If you are a fan of nonstop brutal blood baths and hilarious one liners then you need to add this to your collection.

One last thing, Ian McEuan…this guy really gets into his job. You can tell he really liked doing the voices and reading for this book. Half of the enjoyment for me was listening to the smirk on his face while he would be reading some of those punch lines. Honestly, I found very little I didn’t like about this book, except his voice for Jonah. It sounded a bit off for the character. I mean the man barks for Xanadu, yet Jonah sounds like a gruff military Sargent. His younger brother Judas’ voice seems spot on; maybe McEuan was channeling his inner Ving Rhames for Jonah.

Buy the book and tell us what you think!

Overall 7/10

https://www.audible.com/…/The-Zee-Brothers-Vol-1…/B07BHXJH28

Audiobook Review – Desert Sequence

Desert Runner Omnibus by Dawn Chapman

 

Box Set Advert Desert Sequence

Narrated by Andrea Parsneau

“No one messes with Maddie and her Hog”

Lit: This book was interesting in a literary aspect. Contrary to the norm of this genre the main character is actually an NPC “gone rogue/becoming self aware”. This type of archetype is often seen in the background for a LITRPG but hardly taken as the focal point. Dawn Chapman does her damndest to bring the world of Puatera Online to life in the first book, but the story really takes off in the second and third. With that being said, do yourself the favor and grab the omnibus collection right off the bat.

The cliffhanger for book one would have driven me insane, whilst waiting for the others to come out. So many questions go unanswered in the first book that you have nothing left but to crave more.

On the surface, the story is pretty simplistic. An AI dies then is reborn with her memories intact. This allows her to start making decisions outside of her original programming parameters. Upon meeting Alex, the AI “Maddie” is taken on a quest to help Alex cross the desert to deliver a package. At the end of the first book, Maddie is confronted by the same beast whom has killed her before thus unlocking her memories for her new life.

The second book picks up back in the game with Maddie trying desperately to help Alex. Eventually Maddie discovers just how special of an AI she really is.

RPG: Puatera Online is a post-apocalyptic type world with a very “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” feeling to it. Personally, I kept seeing Maddie as a leather-clad Tina Turner badass prowling the desert for enemies and escorting players to safety with the help of her monstrous vehicle “Hog”. Named for its first kill, Hog is a brutal war machine as used to the raided desert landscape as Maddie herself.

Monsters, evil humans, swords, daggers, potions, all of the things we love about RPGs are represented in this book in a classic and loved way. The fighting that does take place will ring memories of several classic gaming scenarios throughout the book. For example, close to the end of book 1; Maddie is confronted by two vagabonds who have held a family hostage. Bearing her twin daggers and being ready to rumble, Maddie soon discovers that these men aren’t at all what they had appeared to be at first.

Audio: Andrea Parsneau once again graces us as an audience in another fantastic iteration of her talent as a narrator. Somehow, keeping the same voice, she still manages to bring life to so many characters and the world itself that you are lulled into a comfortable and loving embrace of storytelling. Look out for this narrator, she is going to make serious waves in the perception of audiobooks in the future to come.

Overall: 6/10 (too much romance for me)

https://www.audible.com/…/Puatera-Online-Box-Set…/B07BYLYFCY

Audiobook Review – Zombie Lake

Something different this time; Zombies!!!

 

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Still Alive series book 1 by Javan Bonds

Narrated by Shawn Salzman

THIS IS NOT YOUR USUAL ZOMBIE/APOC…For me the narration of S.W. Salzman brings a range of voices for the characters in a way that you can tell them apart, but, it’s not done in a way to seem “forced”; the female characters do not have a tonal inflection change, but you can hear the difference between “Hammer” and “Smokes” talking without being lost in translation. He does seem to add a slight over punctuation in breaks in a sentence for grammar, however that seems to be the same for most narrators reading a for a new author.

The zombies, or “peeves” as this book describes them, are a blue tinged cannibalistic humanoid, who are weary of light for a current unknown reason. This makes it easier for Javan Bonds to move the story forward by allowing characters “free roam” of the city during daylight hours. At first glance there would seem to be some “plot holes” to the story, i.e. zombies who do not like sunlight, but, upon further reading, you understand his use of this as a way to give himself time to write in a better “zombie antagonist” in his plague victims so it can be explained to the reader as the story continues. Kind of like, making it up as he goes along, which I enjoy immensely, since it really keeps us ZOMPOC veterans guessing what’s coming next.

My favorite of Javan Bond’s particular writing style is to cast an “all knowing prophetic character” in the guise of an IMMENSELY fat, dope peddling black man who sounds like Chris Tucker. I loved this idea, and his use of the character to explain “how zombie stories usually play out” for the inexperienced ZOMPOC reader. With that being said, this book is also RIDDLED with obscure references to well known, and simultaneously, not very well known media culture. In the first 10 chapters, you get references to: Dawn of the dead (original and reboot), Monkey Shines, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Magic the Gathering TCG, the song “Red Solo Cups”, even a very well known news anchor.

The protagonist is played out by the author writing journal entries ala Mike Talbot (if you know who that is perfect, if not, you are SORELY missing out). This gives the author a chance to really put himself into the book by going off on diatribes about situations at hand and explaining them off in the most hilarious and sarcastic ways. So far, every entrance scene for a character has been as remarkably remembered as much as “Some asshole is licking my peephole!” Again, if you know to what I am referring, you will love this book.

Ok, with all of that being said…my only real CONs to this book are in the eyes of an inexperienced reader. On the surface this book can be taken for “racist, crass, uneducated, and weird” however, as a long time fan of both zombies and APOC series’; I have to say that this story is still refreshingly unique and honestly modern. The other CON is for me personally, it took me several times of re-listening to the same couple beginning chapters to get into S.W. Salzman’s reading style and cadence. At first is is a bit choppy, it sounds a little like stumbling over the sentence structure. In retrospect, that problem is not a big one as I have heard this begin, and disappear in the same book; at most it lasts for the first book or 2. If you give yourself the time to relisten to the beginning once or twice, you will thoroughly enjoy the rest of the book.

Honestly, I have a hard time giving a book anything over 4 stars unless it is really amazing, or, it has made me realize something about myself I never thought of before. Without doing the latter, this book exceeds my expectations to the former.

Overall: 8/10

If you like:

Zombies, post apocalypse, gender reverse roles, sarcasm, whitty humor, fat dope dealing prophets, trained (possibly in some lethal ninja combat art) helper monkies, gratuitous racial and homosexual slurs, seriously in depth character building, one eyed survivalist pirates, and a unique take on the end of the world. You NEED… to pick up this book!

https://www.audible.com/…/…/Zombie-Lake-Audiobook/B07D4QZDTX

Audiobook Review – World Seed

World Seed by Justin Miller

Narrated by Neil Hellegers

Baneful Baby Bunnies!

As long as I have been reading fantasy books, I have never encountered such a way for a main character to be killed. Thousands of different variations on manslaughter have been portrayed in the likes of fantasy novels since the dawn of time. All in the name of “entertainment”, rightfully so because it is hilarious.

As an avid gamer as well as bibliophile; my feelings of the macabre are the antithesis to “cringe”. I love reading or as in this case, listening to new and varied ways of death. Almost immediately you are greeted with an interesting take upon an otherwise average fantasy world. Starting in a typical new player locale, the main character is greeted by an amoral sarcastic advanced AI; tutorials being run on the player to determine the starting stats for his character.

The world creation for this book is astounding. Apparently the magic and world(s) that exist in this reality are massive. Not only are all four elements represented (earth, air, fire, water) but they play a pivotal role in the mage using them to balance out the cause and effect of their magic. Take for example, a plant mage can not cast their spells in space; being a vacuum, no plants can live in it, so the magic has no power.

Our fearless protagonist however is not only attempting to tackle that, but also his profession of alchemy (which includes it’s own very complicated steps of progression), but also his Character’s Class; which in this case would be a druid. Each base class has several subclasses attached to them that are unlocked upon meeting specific requirements. All of this is pretty basic in terms of gaming and fantasy books in general.

Here is where it gets complicated.

Not only does this world exist in the VR game, it is an entire universe of digital worlds spread out adrift in this particular binary cosmos. Thus generating thousands of playable races, classes, professions, and every mix and match of gaming archetype you can think of. For me, that is playing a little greedy with “the rule of cool”. Normally this will trump any logic to be found in a situation.

I am all for having some amazing things happening in a novel. I also know what happens when a restaurant tries to sell food from 10 nationalities at once; it just doesn’t work. Most of the time during this book I am trying to focus on one subject long enough with the narrator to not feel like I am in a dissertation about the balance of life. As soon as I start to get a grasp on that the story changes to tackle some new aspect that is equally as involved and complicated as explaining the mana system.

I would have really liked this book if the world building was stuck to just one location for the first book. There is a LOT of attention to detail here but you lose the forrest through the trees honestly. If you want to rewind and listen to the same chapters over and again to understand what is going on before moving forward; you will love this book. Personally, I save that for books I’ve already sat through in one listening and just HAD to read it again! Unfortunately this is not one of those books.

If you have read everything else on your list for the genre, then I would start this series. As far as Neil Hellegers, this was the first story I have heard him in and really enjoyed his performance. The voices and subtleties he brought to the book definitely added some color to the otherwise overpowering gloom of detailed information. I look forward to hearing something else of his, maybe the second book will make things come together more. Only time will tell.

Overall: 4/10

https://www.audible.co.uk/…/World-Seed-Game-Star…/B06Y65TKXY

AudioBook Review – Dominion of Blades

Dominion of Blades by Matthew Dinniman

Narrated by Andrea Parsneau

Lit: I was hesitant at first to pick up a copy of Dominion of Blades, being a fan of “super sexy cover art” this one did not strike me as such. I found out how wrong I was; after hearing just the intro and first chapter. Matt Dinniman does a fantastic job in telling that great LITRPG story we all know so well.

One player is stuck in a game, either on accident or not; unwillingly becoming a pawn in a much bigger and more devious plan than they could ever imagine. The evildoers for this set of books so far, are far from your classic Bond villain however. Often the wolf hides in sheep’s clothing throughout Dinniman’s book, keeping even veteran readers like myself on our feet. Where this story differs from the majority is that Dinniman loves to include some really wacky, bizarre, and hilarious twists to his literary chemistry.

Seriously, who sits down at a keyboard and thinks “7 year old girl barbarian, who cries lucky charms and is inhabited by the consciousness of a 40 year old man”? Thankfully, Dinniman does.

For the most part the characters play out like you see in any other LITRPG. You have: the unknowing protagonist, the total know it all friend/ally, the side kick and laugh track, insert random bad guys here; do not forget the twists! Every one of these basic character archetypes are chewed up and spit out by the sadistic and sarcastic witt that is Matt Dinniman.

RPG: As it turns out, Dominion of Blades is the name of the video game all of our characters seem to be stuck in. Further reading of the book details exactly what, how, and why they became stuck; the story growing with the characters.

All around the story however is this magical word that Dinniman has built, using (at first glance) the basic building blocks of any good Fantasy book. Dwarves, mages, monsters, questing, gear upgrades, new skills and special abilities; all of these are found within the digital covers of this book. Again however, we must take note to the Dinniman twist on all things seemingly “normal”.

For instance, an epic battle ensues near the start of the book between a horde of rampaging evil gnomes; and the village that fights them off religiously. As the quest to dispatch of the gnomes becomes more and more complete however, new and more dreadful steps are added in order for the quest to ultimately be finished. Somehow, some way, Dinniman’s brain was able to take something like “an evil gnome raid on a village” and make it end with “the gigantic demon exploded into a billion pieces and killed everybody”.

Yea, that’s right, you read it correctly.

Audio: This was my first real listen to Andrea Parsneau. Having received a copy of this book to try after my conversation with her had included me saying “I just haven’t heard any good female narrators before”.

Andrea delivers!

This book is peppered with amazing talent by both Dinniman and Parsneau. The voice of the characters are portrayed by both author and narrator in this amazing spot light, it seems as if each voice is deserving of it’s own background story (which happens often!). Andrea brings some amazing talent in her work with this book as well. I have heard many Male narrators try to pull off the rolling dwarven brogue of a town smithy; few actually succeed. Andrea not only pulls that off, she also pulls off: south African hippogriff, British voiced beaver-noids, male and female roles believably, a haughty demoness, 1 pompous king, sadistic mercenaries, and, of course…Poppy.

With the combination of these two astounding artists for both of their crafts, this book is surely NOT one to miss. Do yourself the favor now, and read this book.
#dominionofdinniman

Overall: 7/10

https://www.audible.com/pd/Dominion-of-Blades-Audiobook/B072XTFXLG