Monthly Archives: January 2020

DEAD: The Ugly Beginning by T.W. Brown

So this is the first book in a huge ten book, so far, epic saga, so I have my work cut out for me, and if you have been following my review all I need is another series to get sucked into. I was grabbed at once by the colorful and graphic covers they all have, seem to be the same artist for each which helps tie them all together. I have heard and read a lot of good things about this series and am not really sure what to expect.

If you have listened to the Zombie Fallout or the Blood Soaked series and loved the comical side of the stories, you’re not going to find much of that here. While there are funny parts Dead: The Ugly Beginning is definitely not a comedy. If you have listened to I, Zombie or the Timothy series and loved the brutality and gore, you’re not going to find much of that here either. What you will find is a meticulously intricate and well thought out zombie apocalypse story, told from multiple points of view, with a plethora of different complex and interesting characters, that explores, in my mind, several realistic scenarios and situations. All that being said there were a few completely grotesque and disturbing parts that made my skin crawl with disgust. Brown is quite obviously a fan of George Romero and Stephen King as this comes out in the many references throughout and is not a bad thing. While the book started out pretty cliché and predictable and even a tad slow, I started to think that there wasn’t going to be anything special here, but I was so wrong. Where this audiobook shines is, within a rather short period of time, when it became clear that Brown was shooting for realism, something that is missing from many of this genre. I could see myself and those that I know in the story trying to survive. I can only imagine where the rest of the books and soon to be audiobooks will take us, I can say that I cannot wait to plug in and forget all of reality.

This was my first time listening to a performance by Andrew McFerrin and he nailed this one. Dead: The Ugly Beginning call for a big booming crisp military guy narration. He gave it the subtle soft-spoken gritty charm that the main characters demanded. On the flip side, he was able to kick it up for the characters that needed it. McFerrin made me jump out of my seat when he started yelling into the mic to the situation the full emotional impact. I already have the second book to this series in my queue and am looking forward to letting McFerrin pilot my imagination.

Review written by Paul Stokes

Star Rating:   * * * *

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Patient 3 by Chris Chau

Michael was diagnosed with a disease in which there was no known cure let alone what caused it.  To live until a cure was found meant being placed into a deep coma.  Everything he loved, everything he knew when he went to sleep was alive and well.  Then seven years later he awakes to find everything he knew and loved was different; everything except for his roommates who were being woken up from their comatose state as well.  Now the race is on to get to a safe place, find his family and the cure.  Out there, in his world where nothing he knew remained and where beings from his wildest dreams hunt him, Michael takes off with voice recordings from his wife, food, a map and little else.

Chris Chau takes a terrifying story and adds a few twists that leave the listener thinking “Oh yeah, I knew he was going there” only to be left instead with one’s mouth hanging open declaring “I never saw that coming!”  The characters are appropriately developed – some more than others in order of importance to the story. Barely longer than 6 hours, this story had the potential to be much longer, and actually, I hated hearing it end.

Coy Dugger was the narrator who performed the story with a smooth pace and a natural tone.  He helped add to the suspense and never gave anything away through tone inflection or voice.  I have not had the pleasure of hearing him perform before but I hope to again.

There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

I would highly recommend this book if you want something unique and different.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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A Power Renewed, Sentinels of Creation #1 by Robert W. Ross

In the beginning, God created … then came the fall of Lucifer and other angels.  A bargain was struck – ok more of a teaching moment for God to show Lucifer he was a pompous and ungracious angel.  Unwilling to destroy Lucifer or allow him to destroy humans, God allowed for Sentinels to be selected.  They were to bring light or darkness beyond God or Lucifer’s vision.  They were to rescue or wreak havoc on humans but only through free will.  The angels Raphael, Michael help Micah ben Judah who willingly shouldered the responsibility to bring lightness where darkness rules and angels fear to tread.

Now in the 21st century, it is time for Micah to pass his sentinel duty to another.  Kellan Thorne is faced with skinwalkers wanting to rip him apart and a man with glowing emerald eyes and a glowing sword ordering him to stay put.  Thorne discovers he is to be the recipient of otherworldly powers and that he has free will to use those powers as he sees fit.

At first, I thought this book would be a fire and brimstone type book but instead after Kellan appeared it took on more of a superhero with a mouth type audiobook.  Thorne’s sarcastic wit and unique way of looking at things along with his female friends and the narrowmindedness of Raphael and Micah one cannot help but enjoy the story as it unfolds.  One has to wonder if Thorne will keep things in check or if he will let chaos have a little bit of reign.  Regardless, the showdown with the Prince of Darkness’s sentinel is intriguing and unexpected!

Robert Ross, the author, has written a wonderful book that leaves lots of room for more books just as interesting and engaging!  Clearly written, characters are well-developed and the imagery is vivid.  I enjoyed the pop culture references that kept popping up.  A fun story that makes you laugh, and scary at times that will make you gasp.

The narrator, Nick Podehl performed the story perfectly!  His ability to deliver a sarcastic witty comeback was spot on!  He nailed the angels as well!  I enjoyed his voice, it was smooth and clear.  He truly became Kellan Thorne!  And the female leads – he was perfect with the delivery of their smart remarks as well.  I am looking forward to hearing the other two books but know that he has a wealth of storylines here if he chooses to use them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was not what I expected when I first started listening to it.  It was fun and light. I highly recommend this audio to anyone who enjoys witty books with adventure and supernatural.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

 

Star Rating:   * * * * *

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Extinction Ashes (Extinction Cycle: Dark Age Book 3) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith and Anthony Melchiorri

The latest book in the Extinction Series continues to deliver a powerful and action-packed ten hours of suspense.  It is truly up to Timothy, Fitz, Team Ghost, Kate, Beckham, and Horn to defeat the “new gods” and crack the purpose of the variant webbing.    There is not a moment in which anyone is at peace, it is a consuming war in which trust is valuable and not easily given but life can be snuffed out in an instant.  So many different pieces to the story are moving at once but the authors, Nicholas Sansbury Smith and Anthony J. Melchiorri keep everything flowing and consistent.

I would have to echo what many others have said about this series; the characters are so well developed that they are like one of the family.  As a listener one cannot help but groan out loud when Timothy, Fitz, Beckham or Horn are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Smith and Melchiorri have a talent for connecting the listeners to the characters in the book – there are some you can’t help but love and others … you hope Karma comes around in the form of a variant or bullet and takes care of the right ones!

This was an intense book, it took me several days to get through it only because I was so involved in the book.   I would find myself experiencing a wide range of emotions – relief, anger, fear, OMG moments and then the strong feelings of patriotism, dedication, and duty.  Those real feelings that not many of us experience throughout lives now except vicariously through books and movies but they are accurate feelings that I have seen throughout my family members who have served in Korea, Vietnam, WWII and more.  Smith and Melchiorri are very perceptive and talented storytellers to be able to invoke those feelings with words along.  Their words reveal the passion and dedication very strongly.

RC Bray, as a narrator, is the best!  His ability to speak in different tones and inflections helps move the book along as well as cement that connection to the characters for the listener.  His distinctive voices are strong and well-executed.  I cannot imagine listening to the Extinction Series without him present – he has become the voice of the characters!

There were no issues with the production quality of this book.

Star Rating:    * * * * *

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Dirty Deeds #1 by Armand Rosamilia

Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia and narrated by Jack de Golia is a well-crafted book. It keeps the listener’s interest with fully developed characters with a unique plot. Most listeners will be hooked from the first few lines and want to go on this adventure with James Gaffney to see what happens next.

The main character is James Gaffney; a man who will take care of your problems for you. If you have a mistress and have a kid with her and you don’t want to pay child support he will make the kid disappear. That’s right he is paid large sums of money to kill kids to solve people’s problems. But he has a secret, using a one-way network he will take the kid and get him to a loving family who will raise him. Nothing’s ever as easy as it sounds. There is also an FBI Agent Keen who has been chasing him for years.

Running his sports card memorabilia side business James spends most of trying to appear above-board with the help of his long-suffering assistant Marissa. His assistant Marissa handles his day-to-day activities, online activity, and keeping Mr. Gaffney afloat in this technological age. James is what Marissa calls a dinosaur when it comes to anything electronic. All is well until one of his early cases, the son of one of a New Jersey Mob Boss Chenzo appears to have come back ‘from the dead’ and to the attention of the FBI.

This story does a great job of holding the listener’s attention with the great cast of characters. The plot moves at a good pace, and the dialogue is really great between these interesting characters. At times you don’t know if you should love or hate some of the characters with that changing as the chapters advance as the story evolves. The author had crafted a fun world. It a great place to get lost for an afternoon.

The narration is provided by Jack de Golia. Mr. de Golia does a stellar job narrating this audiobook. This is the fourth time I have heard a performance from Mr. de Golia and he always delivers an outstanding performance. The characters are diverse and each unique in this audiobook. The production value is of high quality. The book was clear and crisp throughout the entire program.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Trudge (Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse #1) by Shawn Chesser

Cade Grayson has seen tough times in his life when he was in “the Sandbox” as they called it.  Little did he know that what he saw then couldn’t begin to prepare him for what happens when a virus is unleashed upon the US and its citizens.  Follow Cade on his journey to safety for both him and his wife and child (who are not with him when everything goes down)

The narration in Trudge was done by Chris Patton.  I liked his style and it really fit the book.  I think that Cade was a “manly man” for sure, and I think that Patton did him justice in that aspect.  My only complaint (and it’s not even a complaint, it made me chuckle a few times throughout listening) was when Patton would say something with a WH in it.  He would say “Hoowhat” instead of “what”, which reminded me of a Family Guy skit about how to say Cool Whip.  (Is it Cool Whip or Cool Hoowip?)  As I said, it doesn’t take away from the audiobook, just a personal thing I noticed.  The quality of production was also great.  No issues at all.

Trudge was one of those books where I felt like I’d been there before, but I won’t lie – you haven’t.  The story followed a similar character to the book I read RIGHT before this one (Max from Tomorrow War).  But, the storyline was totally different and was full of unique and different characters.

I can tell that the author either has military training or is extremely familiar or close to someone who has.  Chesser uses a lot of military terms and for the most part, he tries to explain what they are.  There are still a few that slipped through, either because he didn’t want to explain what it meant or he just assumed Civs aka civilians would know what it meant.

Another book that falls short with me based on the fact that it doesn’t have a proper ending.  Yes, there was some closure, but not nearly enough for me.  The book just felt incomplete because it is missing what I think is at least half of the story.  Damn sequels and trilogies!  Other than that, it was a quick read and an enjoyable one at that.

 

Star Rating:  * * * *

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(review written by Brian)

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Allen Kirch

First let me say that very few people, including authors, can surprise me.  Donald Allen Kirch not only surprised me but totally blew my mind!  I was expecting an entirely different genre of book based solely on the title.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered through listening alone that it was straight up, spine-tingling, eye-crossing, mouth drooling horror!

Eve is a drop-dead gorgeous woman with an engrossing story to tell.  Of course, it helps that she has the ability to seduce a man with a single glance turning him into a blithering horn-dog.

Annabel, Steve’s wife, discovered that Steve committed adultery.  Now Annabel has become a vengeful, evil woman with the skill and drive to do dole out the most heinous, gruesome and shocking punishment on her cheating husband and his girlfriend ever imagined!

I LOVED this book!  Kirch took the characters to places they did NOT want to go but did it in a skillful and fascinating manner.  Each character introduced was thoroughly developed through rich and vivid details and dialog.  Everything appeared authentic – the dialog, medical and police terms, emotions, thoughts, actions – everything!  There was not a slow moment in the book, it was definitely an edge of your seat, nail-biting horror from beginning to end.

I wonder, will Eve just disappear off into the night or … guess only Kirch can answer that!  A definite five-star for the intense horror, gore, and sick twisted realism.

The cover is amazing and very accurate!

Kathryn LaPlante did an amazing job of narrating the story, bringing it to life with her talented voice and enthusiasm.  How she kept a straight face in some places while not cringing in others was amazing!  Her tones were spot on.  LaPlante added more dimension to each of the characters otherwise missed if just reading the story.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Inspector Hobbes and the Blood (Unhuman Book 1) by Wilkie Martin

Andy Caplet is a struggling reporter who is socially awkward and easily frightened.  Only because the normal reporter for the crime beat was injured by being thrown from a speeding car (implied that he had been gambling or a mafia encounter …) Andy is given the assignment to work with Inspector Hobbes.  From that moment onward, Andy is caught in a whirlwind of mystery and intrigue.  Of course, it does not help that Andy’s imagination runs away with him – he’s seeing trolls, ghouls, witches, and vampires at every turn. Then again, considering he finds himself in a freshly dug grave conversing with two ghouls and the inspector enjoys raw meat and bones, and then there is the housekeeper that collects teeth …  perhaps his imagination is NOT running wild… and it seems that perhaps Inspector Hobbes has a secret of some sort.

They have to work together to solve the mysteries and unusual circumstances surrounding the robberies and a murders that are occurring throughout the town.

Wilkie Martin writes a clever crime mystery with comedy and a good deal of fantasy mixed in.  One cannot help but laugh out loud at some of the antics Andy finds himself in!  This is the perfect pair of crime solvers and partners in law!  One cannot help but be charmed by the story and the characters.

Martin develops his characters fully, with a depth that enables the listeners to connect with them.  Martin is also vivid in his descriptions placing the listener into the book.

Tim Campbell, the narrator, was equally awesome in his talented reading.  Campbell became immersed in the book to the point that it was difficult to tell where he left off and the characters began.  His ability to give the appropriate voice and personality to the characters was spot on; I loved hearing how his voice would become squeaky whenever Andy found himself in hot water and how confident Hobbes sounded.

If you enjoy mystery and some fantasy characters, then this is the book for you.

I encountered no audio issues and the production of this audiobook was smooth.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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An American Weredeer in Michigan (The Bright Falls Mysteries Series Book 2) by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

Jane Doe finds herself in yet another mess in Michigan!  Seems she can’t take a step in the woods without stepping right in it!  Enjoying a picnic with Emma, Jane encounters two monster hunters, a religious fanatic who wants to be the world’s strongest wizard and discovers a mass grave!

Jane finds herself facing down yet another entity as well as figuring out how to live now that mom and dad are in witness protection! Oh, then there’s the little thing between her, agent “hottie” Alex and “luscious” Lucien!  Male testosterone is in full “charge ahead” mode leaving one anticipating a knockdown drag out between the two brothers.

C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttku are excellent storytellers utilizing snark, whimsical and humorous writing and dialog styles to tell the story of young Jane Doe.   Skilled in puns, the authors cleverly utilize their talent to draw the audience in and make them laugh.  This is a fun, easy read with lots of laughable moments.  I enjoy this series, it has everything – supernatural, mystery, romance, clever writing and … well, it’s just fun!  Of course, there are a lot of folks who think I am nuts given my frequent outbursts of laughter and such while in public with a Bluetooth headphone in!  My one question – when’s the next one????

The narrator, Arielle DeLisle performed the audiobook expertly.  She brought the book to life with her talent and enthusiasm.  She is Jane Doe!!

There were no issues with the production or quality of this book.   I highly recommend this series if you like light, fun reading with mystery and supernatural creatures!

Star rating:  * * * *

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The Enigma Source Book 10 from the Enigma Series by Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey

Breakfield and Burkey take topics from today’s headlines and show the terrifying side of it.  Through their magnificent storytelling abilities and their knack to take often misunderstood or unknown financial and technology-based possibilities and create a captivating tale involving the R-Group.  Combining past and present, Breakfield and Burkey creatively develop the storyline that will leave their listeners on the edge of their chairs as the R-Group attempts to foil the evildoers.

The past plays a heavy hand in this book as we see how Master Po’s unbreakable cryptocurrency code affects her life now as well as Wolfgang’s role in the establishment of the R-Group in the beginning.

Not only did this book put the fear of technology deep into my head but it left me in tears.  There were several moments that made my eyes water and my heart heavy but there were just as many moments where I pumped my fist in the air.   Comeuppance can be such a delightful thing to hear!

Derek Shoales performed the audiobook realistically and with a passion that one felt the emotional pain of Jacob, Frank and Su Lin.  Shoales has a solid voice and a talent that takes the listener further into the story.  One can visualize the characters much easier through Shoales.  I enjoy listening to him perform.

There were no issues with the publication or quality of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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