Audio and E-book Review – Somnia Online – Anomaly

Anomaly (Somnia Online 2) AudioBook and ebook.

 

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Somnia Online is developing and so are the AI! *Insert AI Overlords joke here*

With the cliffhanger Initializing left us at, Anomaly picks up right where we left off. We soon see the fallout from what was kept from Wren and how it affects everyone, in-game and real life.

Real life:
Hanna gives us more perspective to the game developers and Wren’s family’s reaction to “the event.” We see more real life interactions with the AI servers as they start developing more human characteristics. Probably the most intriguing thing to happen is Murmur being able to hear her mom, Laria, in-game while Laria is by her bedside talking to her.

In-game:
I’ll agree with most other reviews that Anomaly is much heavier on the female emotions. Yes, it may be a drawback. However, I’d like to point out that most female leads are written by male authors. It’s rare to see a strong female lead written by a strong female author.

On a plus-side, the game world is becoming more intricate and evolving. We see Murmur and her guild acquire their secondary classes and starting growing their crafting roster. Two amazing supporting characters come out of all that, Snowy and Neva. The AIs really do take into account what Murmur will do now when guildies log out. They answered with Snowy! Murmur’s secondary Druid class really is a compliment to her Psion main class. We also have more interaction with the city fountains. That’s a topic I can’t want to come to fruition further into the story.

At times it was a little hard to read, but in the end, it was an enjoyable book. Yes, Anomaly is heavier on the emotions but the story and supporting cast makes up for that. Aside from that though, the game world, characters, and story intrigue are progressing amazingly. For book three I have the hope that there will be more action and named mobs, similar to Initializing.

7/10

Review 2 –

From listening to Andrea Parsnau narrate the first book I was totally hooked in this world created by K.T. Hanna

There are several things I love about this book and more so than the first. Mostly it’s that it doesn’t go with what most writers would consider the norm. This is a deep look at the character Murmer is, and what makes her tick. Some of these insights won’t and haven’t sat well with male readers/listeners and that’s because they don’t get it and I really think they should take a long hard look as to those reasons.

The real hard-hitting books in this genre are going to be carved out by authors who really know how to not only created believable worlds but those that can and do understand characters on that level. So far there are few and far between in authors that actually do this, and I place K.T. amongst those.

What makes this book special for me, is both what goes on inside the game and out of it, and I hope I can see where K.T is taking this… I think I do, but I’m guessing at best.

This is a really good series, one that I’m really waiting for the next one on.

Narration –

As usual, Andrea is amazing with her character voices, tone and all-round performance. I can’t wait for the next book, which is soon i believe and even more so for the audio.

8/10

https://www.amazon.com/Anomaly-Somnia-Online-B…/…/B07HXBFV49

AudioBook Review – Stainless Steel Rat

The Stainless Steel Rat Series
By Harry Harrison
Narrated by Phil Gigante

I must say, I have loved this entire series, ever since I first started reading them. I was drawn to the auspicious cover art of a Hawaiian T-shirt-wearing James DiGriz and some nefarious nemesis nearby. This book, A Stainless Steel Rat is Born is #6 in the series and starts you in the middle of the story. This outlines the beginnings of “Slippery Jim” and his burgeoning crime career. Honestly, any book you pick up is pretty stand alone, with the exception being the first three or four. In those Jim gets married and has baby spies who, yes, all follow him around the universe playing Robin Hood and thwarting the plots of would-be evil-doers. Oh, did I not mention Jim is recruited directly into service among an association of fellow thieves who are placed around the galaxy just for the purposes of stopping any major criminal mastermind? Well, I did now.

Just in those two brief descriptions of books 6 and 1 respectively, you can see my pure fascination with this series. That hasn’t even scratched the surface on what is going on elsewhere in this epic saga of space-age piracy. My favorite characteristic of Jim DiGriz and his penchant for passivity. He does protect himself via martial arts if need be, but his goal is to only rob and steal – never to kill. This seems a mite bit tricky sometimes for Harry Harrison to have written into his stories; the workarounds are so incredible they boarder into the fantastic.

My favorite part of this series is just the pure written language of it. The way Harrison wrote in general was akin to reading beautiful music. This work of his outshines the rest like a bleak star collapsing unto itself; short as it may be, it remains the most glorious of spectacles. If you have need of a great sci-fi book, written and performed by two of the greatest artists this line of work has produced. I beg you, look no further.

Thank you for reading, and as always, Live Long and Prosper.

If you enjoyed this review, let us know! Even if you didn’t enjoy it, we take criticism as well. In fact, that’s exactly what we do! If you have any works in need of a review or know someone who does, let us know! We are always looking for a good time waster!

Stainless Steel Rat – Book 1

https://www.audible.com/…/The-Stainless-Steel-Ra…/B0041M5MRE?

A Stainless Steel Rat is Born – Book 6

https://www.audible.com/…/A-Stainless-Steel-Rat-…/B004LY2GLC?

AudioBook Review – Gamer for Life

Alpha World by Daniel Schinhofen is a litRPG novel about a former prison guard turned prisoner who agrees to test a long-term virtual reality system for his sentence. He begins playing the new VRMMORPG, Alpha World.

 

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Honestly, this book was a bit disappointing. The character interactions were entertaining and fun, the MC’s class was interesting, and I did appreciate that there was a variety to the types of people (mostly NPCs) we encountered. I have two major gripes though; one, grinding is probably the most boring aspect of any RPG, and the majority of this book was grinding. In fact, I would say the middle third of this book could be cut with nothing would be lost but a few fun character interactions and a somewhat interesting boss fight. That’s being a bit too harsh though.
The second gripe is that he was rewarded very early on for exploring, and yet does absolutely no more of it for the rest of the book. That may not seem like a big deal, but one of the main tenants to game design is teaching your players how to play your game. The protagonist does it in how he fights his enemies, why did he ignore the more tangible rewards he was given from exploration to grind?

A smaller complaint but one still important, I lost meaning for the values of the stats maybe about halfway to three quarters in, which is pretty early for a series. I also feel writing is a bit lackluster, not very much description. In contrast, the grammar is certainly good.
I was told there was sexual content in this book, and while there are some sexual jokes and a few sexually charged scenes, honestly, I was expecting (and hoping) for a bit more. I did enjoy what I got.
Despite my many complaints, I do think this is a decent opening book, if a bit bland.

The characters are fun and definitely enjoy each other’s company. 6/10

P.S. I have in fact read book 2 now, and it is /much/ better. More interesting things happen, there is a bit more description, overall superior.

Ebook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gamer-Life-Alpha-Worl…/…/B06XC6YJSH

E-Book Reviews – Reborn 1-5

 

 

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The Reborn Omnibus 1-5 by D. W. Jackson is an odd duckling. Even as I write this review I am not entirely sure the best way to go about it. First off, it is an omnibus of 5 short novellas as opposed to a book. I thought about reviewing each individually but figured that there wouldn’t be much of a point in going with the omnibus then.

 
Ok, so about the series. It is stylized as a Japanese isekai web novel; with a dense protagonist, slaves that fall in love with MC, and a womanizing combat instructor. Before I go any further, I will say I enjoyed this story, it was fun. Not much depth, but it was simple and enjoyable. MC somehow dies and then gets transported to another world with a stat system. When choosing a race, he picks random and ends up with a cheat ability.
Unfortunately, I have a laundry list of complaints to mention about it as well. First and foremost, book one is simply godawful. There were misplaced words all over the place (i.e. ‘week’ instead of ‘weak’), capitalization issues, and punctuation problems. Thankfully those were reduced significantly as I moved onto book 2 and above, though they still remained throughout. A bit strange to see a writer improve while reading a novel. The language is somewhat simplistic, which does match up with the web novel format, but one thing that really bothered me is the author’s constant overuse of the word ‘said’ for dialogue. There are so many more interesting ways of saying things, like ‘shouted’ or ‘spat’, just to name two.
There is also a moment in book two where I had to stop reading for a short while because of a thought that the MC had. Now picture for a second that the MC had just spent the last 100 or so pages dense-protagonisting his way out of learning any information that wasn’t immediately useful to him, then all of a sudden he says something to the effect of “knowledge is the key to surviving in this world.” I couldn’t handle it.
As far as story is concerned, almost all of it centers around one city with a labyrinth in it and only occasionally deviates from there. Little to no world building, even when the main character reads a history and/or geography book. The main problem though is the consistent lack of goals. Occasionally a short-term goal is given to him and he complies with it, but no long-term goals are ever discussed, and I don’t think he even considers why he needs/wants to kill things.
I found the stat system fairly unimpressive. The classes are barely gone over, the abilities are all over the place and I’m not sure I understand how the stats relate to damage and other functions. Another problem is the ability bloat, the MC picks up many abilities way too quickly, then just kind of sits on most of them without using them. I noticed that for one in particular that it had a level during one stat page but didn’t for another. Not sure which was the error.
Tl;dr: Though fun, with some formatting issues, ability bloat, a bland protagonist, and punctuation and capitalization issues, there are better options available for the Japanese web novel style story. I cannot recommend this one. Try Growth Cheat or Shield Bro. 4/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014659532

AudioBook Review – The Ritualist

The Ritualist by Dakota Krout
Narrated by Vikas Adam
(Just buy the ebook)

I have a real love/hate relationship with this book. On one hand, really enjoy Dakota Krout’s work. On the other, this book is totally boring. At least that is what I thought until I accidentally left it playing last night and woke up an hour later into it than I usually stop listening. 
After back tracking, I found a lot of what the real problem was. Initially, I had blamed it on the prologue and first couple of chapters. Mr. Krout appears to use the old “ex marine as the MC” quick cash grab kind of story. However, after some research I find out, he was actually in the army. He is a vet, ok! Well now, I feel like a smacked ass indeed.
I continue to listen to the book with as much of a non-biased view as I can manage as this creeping thought worms its way into my head: “this book is boring”. That’s when I realize the mixing for Vikas is terrible, honestly. I use a 600 watt stereo system to do my audiobook reviews with, that is less than 5 feet away from me. I could barely hear a large portion of the book as there are screen prompts Vikas decided to read as Hans from the Divine Dungeon series. This voice is usually immediately followed by some inane shouting that scares the living daylights out of me. Terrible mixing all around for the audio.
It’s a shame really, as the book opens up into this funny and action-packed world taking a completely separate but just as detailed view of the gaming universe. Since our main character is a human and uses actual stats, they come into effect as much as any regular game. Even slowing him from encumbrance due to not enough strength or stamina. If you can get over the terrible mixing job, then try the audiobook.
Me, personally, I’m going to buy the ebook instead and skip the middleman. Don’t try to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Vikas worked for Divine Dungeon, should have gotten a new voice.
Have a great day!

AudioBook Review – Dungeon Born

The Divine Dungeon series (so far) books 1/2/3 by Dakota Krout
Narrated by Vikas Adam

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I stared at the cover to Dungeon Born for weeks, trying to decide whether to invest my last credit into it or not. Fortunately, I was able to acquire a copy to do the review for the series. I have to say, I should have just gone with my gut from the start. I have been really blown away by the writing talent shown in between these hours of pages.
The series focuses around a “Dungeon Core named Cal” and his ever helpful and eventual wife “Dani the Dungeon Wisp” no real spoilers, they make that pretty obvious. Cal is created by nefarious means and begins life totally unaware of who or what he is. Dani’s job is to be his guide in the world and explain the processes of life as he encounters them. That’s the series in a nutshell. What happens as far as the details are concerned is an entirely wild and unusually brilliant explanation if what Dungeons really are in video game lore and why they drop boots off of rabbit mobs.
There is another second string of characters just as important as Cal, but you are going to need to read to find out about that lot of languorous lounge lizards. Speaking of alliteration, examples of it are abundant and awesomely arranged around this author’s particular work. What really grabs my attention are the situations in which the dungeon finds himself, asking seemingly profound, yet preposterous questions.
Eventually, you see the answers for all of the questions posed along the way, including ones you never thought of asking. This book is really a fun ride and a great read. Performed by Vikas Adam, the characters grow so much closer to you as the story goes on. That Hans, what a dreamboat. I’ve said too much!
Check out the book! I’m so sorry it took me this long to get to enjoy it!

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Have a great day!

https://www.amazon.com/Dungeon-Born-Divine-Book/…/B06XQ44QVK

AudioBook Review – Slime Dungeon

Slime Dungeon by Jeffery Falcon Logue
Narrated by Ryan Turner

The Slime Dungeon is a tale about a Dungeon Core named “Doc” and his Dungeon Pixie, whose name escapes me while I am writing the review. That is the majority of this book, I am afraid. I appreciate the attempt into the sub-genre this author decided to bring to the table, however it feels really rough. I would have taken this idea back to the drawing board once or twice and nailed out a lot of the dents and dings the plot holes created in this story.
It is definitely a more satirical and comedic form of the litrpg genre, having been around for a while and not having gotten to it yet tells you something. If you are really interested in some more dungeon-world building and really love Slime as a game mob. This is the book for you.
I had a hard time getting into the characters and the story, as the dialogue and relationship seems a little…forced? Non-organic perhaps. I found myself quickly wandering off mentally and getting bored easily. The series may improve with the next books, I, unfortunately, will not be there for them.

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Have a great day!

Link – https://www.amazon.com/Slime-Dungeon-Chronicle…/…/B074CJQLPR

AudioBook Review – Travail Online: Soulkeeper

Travail Online: Soulkeeper by Brian Simons
Narrated by Andrea Parsneau

As far as LITRPG goes, I would put this book somewhere in the beginning, near the tutorial as it were. I wanted to review this book to give the subject in question a shot. Badass seamstress? Alright, I’m in. Comes out a lot like it sounds, I’m afraid.
I am one who is very fond of the workings for Andrea Parsneau, and I love her voice acting in what she does. But I just could not get into the book. I listened to it several times and always zone out at the same part and miss everything else for the most part.
There are some sections at the beginning that are funny, you can see there is a sense of humour. Overall though, it is a book about a seamstress who kills monsters and makes armour. Honestly, I would be bored if it was anyone killing things and making armour.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some highlights in the actual story; the world-building has some very delicate and nice touches to it. Imagination is not really the problem, except maybe its abundance. The series may even out down the road, but I will leave that to another brave soul, as this one has defeated me.
It could just be me as Amazon is full of 3-4 star reviews that all love the book; however, all are new to LITRPG from the looks of it. However, like I said. Apparently, this is not my brand of soft drink.

Thank you for reading this review. If you are an author or narrator who wants us to review your work, please send us a message.

Have a great day!

Link – https://www.amazon.com/Travail-Online-Soulkeep…/…/B06VY2Z2N7

AudioBook Review – Arisen Finale

Epic Zombie Series

Michael Stephen Fuchs – Arisen – Narrated by R.C Bray

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16 books, some over 10 hours in length… 160 hours plus in audio heaven. I promise, if you love zombies. This is just an amazing listen.

Originally I picked this series up over 2 years ago, you know the enticing box set of 3 books, (1 credit) 15 hours was just long enough for me to give it a try.

What I didn’t expect to happen did though, I fell in love with RC’s voice, and with the writers’ world and characters and was hooked… devouring all the series up to what was produced and written at the time.

I went on a very long and amazing journey with these guys and gals. I witnessed so much, felt every emotion going and I never wanted it to end.

When my driving job ended last year and I was waiting for book 13 and 14 to come out, I didn’t know it would then take me so long to listen through to the end, but I finally got through it, and I shared my reviews today.

Yes, I can’t help but gush, this series to me is a 10/10. Full 5 stars through till the end.

I could list all my reviews, but I won’t. – So, here’s my first and my last.

Do yourself a favour, get this series… today….

——-

Books 1-3 Box set.

I have to admit, I’m a sci-fi girl, but I picked this up because I’d some credits to spare and liked that it’s 3 books in one. Bargain.

I liked the read up and being a Brit thought yey, someone who might actually get us a little. I did think that R.C struggled just a little in the first book with the brit accents, but by the time I’d got through to the third, I think he’d really settled into it and I began to enjoy the whole performance.

When the end of the world hits, there’s Britain and by sheer luck managed to batten down the hatches and stay alive….. that is until one of the zombies digs it’s way out the channel tunnel from France. (and what an ordeal for those still in the tunnel)

I have to say the characters also started out a bit flat. 2D kinda military people who just seemed to get on and do their job no matter what was thrown at them, but by the end of book 3, I’d started to really connect with them all. The military bravado is just that, a huge attempt to just get on with the really crap situations these guys just seemed to keep finding themselves in.

So, top and bottom of it. I enjoyed spending the 15 hours with these die-hard characters, so much so I went and bought the rest of the series. And am already on book 5 

Thanks to both narrator and writers, who together made a really good team, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.

—————

Book 14

This was 18 hours of none stop pure adrenaline action and my heart couldn’t take it at some points. I could break down the story and the way this all came together, but the truth of the matter is I just can’t.

I felt everything these guys/gals went through, I got angry, I laughed, and I cried in buckets. There’s no emotion that this series can’t get, even sometimes a little frustration… these are serious military men in the hardest of situations and you kind of expect the utmost professionalism, but they show that humans are flawed and that being on the longest and most profound mission can make them do stupid things. I respected that and I enjoyed the fact that although we do want more from the men who serve, they are just people. 

What made this series so special for me from the get-go was just how epic I could see it was, and that it gave me something I’d not experienced before in audio.

These books and this adventure I will savour for a long time. As an audiobook fan and a writer, I will come back to these for the moments I remember and I’ll enjoy it again and again. (I do not do this, I usually don’t re-read or listen, too much to experience in life for that) but for this guy, this series and for RC’s performance, I’ll be back!

Awesome job, I am a fan of both this writer and narrator for life. Thank you so very much for a years worth of amazing stories to take me away somewhere exciting! off to find a new series to gobble up now…. I’m not sure I will be able too  tears of sadness here… guys. loved it.

Dawn https://www.audible.co.uk/…/Arisen-Omnibus-Editi…/B00QSFTYGM

E-Book Reviews – The Elder Ice

The Elder Ice: A Harry Stubbs Adventure (book 1) by David Hambling

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Ebook review #1

The Elder Ice by David Hambling is a delightful little Lovecraftian novella that gives us a taste of the world – and mind- of Harry Stubbs. Now I don’t generally read short stories as they tend to leave you wanting, and that’s something Hambling definitely accomplishes. An introduction into the universe is what this felt like, wetting our toes.
I enjoyed the investigative aspect of the novel, it helped build the mystery and suspense, learning more about not only the ‘Shackleton Case,’ but also our protagonist. I appreciated the depth he had and his struggle to remain meticulous and observant in his new profession. The author’s take on the Lovecraft mythos was interesting as well. I am quite interested and learning more about where he will take that. The grammar was great; the word choice was odd at times, though I think it helped set the scene. I definitely enjoyed some of the descriptions. They helped bring some scenes to life.
My biggest complaint was the rather large info dump that was the conclusion/reveal of what really happened to Shackleton and what he found. It felt awkward and somewhat ham-fisted, especially considering the elegance of the setup to that point, to just throw it all on the readers in a couple pages felt rushed. Certainly, this is not a mystery novella, but it does have mystery elements. I would have appreciated allowing the reader to connect more dots, or at least revealing more of this info gradually instead of all at once.
I won’t say the ending was exactly unexpected, but it did leave me unsatisfied, partially due to the length, but also due to how things worked out. If I had to summarize it with a statement, it would probably be: “Welp, that happened.”

Overall, a good read and worth the small time investment. I hope his next book is longer, I will be reading it for sure.
Rating: 7/10

The Elder Ice by David Hambling

Ebook review #2

The tip of the iceberg looms in The Elder Ice by David Hambling. This no-frills introduction to the world of Harry Stubbs is as brutal and practical as its protagonist, an erstwhile boxer and hired muscle for a solicitor’s office. The pacing suits the noir detective motif, comfortably couched in a Lovecraftian pseudohistory.

This story feels like part of a much bigger world and it does a great job of setting us up readers to want more. The style is suited to readers who enjoy pulp serials like Dr. Who, Hellboy, or The Dresden Files. With a languorous build-up of history, investigation, and espionage without really exploring the sense of mystery that it deserves. The first half of the story takes its time to set up a living, breathing world, reverent of tales of adventure and exploration. Hambling’s scenes set in the local tavern are lovingly described and genuinely welcome the reader in detail while the cold winds blow in the streets beyond.

The story pulls readers in up until the very end that rushes upon us and frantically ends with a climax that unfolds too quickly for its own cleverness. A standard for the genre, the story is genuine and quite enjoyable but needs space to breathe, needs more stirring.

Harry Stubbs is presented initially as relatable and thoughtful, self-conscious of his own shortcomings, but it’s unclear how and Edwardian-era boxer and son of a butcher owns such a robust vocabulary, this ends up feeling jarring amidst the otherwise tight and thoughtful dialogue.

The world is crisp, the story is direct and effective; The Elder Ice rings true to century-old detective novels or strange tales in general, with some rough edges that don’t really slow it down until the abrupt and expected end that leaves us wanting more in a good way.

Overall rating: 7/10

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