Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Fireraisers (Detective Watters Mysteries Book 1) by Malcolm Archibald

The Fireraisers consist of a series of mysteries within one another and although they do not appear connected, Detective Sergeant Watters of the Dundee Police discovers far more than he was expecting including arson, murder and disturbing connections.  When I first started to listen to this book, I discovered it needed a more dedicated listen in order to follow the events.  I have discovered that the author, Malcolm Archibald is very adept at creating intricate mysteries and a variety of intrigues.  His use of historical facts to create his fiction and his not being content to staying on one continent is uniquely done.

His character and plot development were solid and well done.  His dialog was spot on as well, making the story flow easily.  I thought his twists were well executed as well.  This story has it all – mystery, suspense, history, intrigue, adventure with a touch of humor.

The narrator, Max Best, performed the book very well although, in the beginning, his accent was a bit hard to understand it gave a more realistic feel to the characters and plot.  After a short bit, I enjoyed his performance thoroughly and became enthralled in the story.  I hope to hear more performances by Max Best.

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

Star Rating: * * * *

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Deep Shadow by Nick Sullivan

Boone Fischer is a divemaster on the Bonaire island.  Living the life, he teaches scuba diving and enjoys Divers Paradise.  Until one day out on a typical dive, he captures a photo of a camouflage sub.  Of course, it is believed to belong to the drug Cartel but what is inside is way more explosive than drugs!  Boone’s world just got tangled up, tossed upside down, and completely out of whack in a terrifying tale that is extremely realistic.  Action-packed, the edge of your seat thriller!

The author and narrator, Nick Sullivan is very thorough and provides graphic details in an accurate and engaging style.  Sullivan is a powerful wordsmith that allows the listener to actually visualize the islands and beauty he is describing.  His plot is well executed with no holes, his character development is complete.  Sullivan’s powerful writing makes the story flow.

As the narrator, Sullivan has “personal” insight (as the author) and projects each character and storyline in such a way that makes the listening even more captivating.  He moves the story along with the use of his voice eliciting excitement and wonder.  His voice is strong and resonates.  As a narrator turned writer, Sullivan knows just how to work a nuance thus capturing his audience’s attention!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I am not one for terrorism stories but this one was very well done! This is just the first in what I hope is a long series!

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

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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The Enigma Beyond, The Enigma Series Book 11 by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey

The R-Group much like the rest of the world has been making new strides with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and technology.  Now, the tables have turned, and the R-Group is up against their most deadliest and advanced adversaries and they are NOT human!

This story takes place fifteen years after Wolfgang passes.  The youngest generation of the R-Group is becoming involved in the business and are now young adults.  ICABOD plays an integral role in the schooling and training of the newest generation as well as helping to define who the MAG group is and their ultimate goal.

Realistic dialog is one of Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey’s amazing gifts.  The storyline draws the listener in and keeps them riveted; history is full of charismatic figures known for their deadly manipulation skills and it is this that makes the story even more realistic and scarier.

This is one of those books that everyone should hear.  It is an edge of your seat, mind-blowing, realistic and far-reaching thriller that will leave you with nightmares.  These are the monsters one cannot see, but they are there, nonetheless.

Derek Shoales, the narrator, performs the book expertly.  He has become each and every character; I cannot imagine anyone else being Jacob, Juan, or Julie or ICABOD … well anyone else.  He has the right momentum to move the story ahead and has a connection to each character that shines through with each word he delivers.  He is a truly skilled and talented narrator.

This is a series that I love.  I am a huge fan of being frightened but this book is just a peep into what can and may happen and is terrifying!

5 Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Modern Sorcery: The First Jonathan Shade Novel by Gary Jonas

Jonathan Shade is a private investigator with a twist – he gets the cases with a paranormal twist to them.  Why?  He’s good at it, he’s the son of a powerful wizard family and while he does not have any magical powers of his own, he knows enough about it to solve mysteries.   When a husband enters a Colorado grocery store and hacks up his wife – both of whom are parents to his ex-fiancé – well, Jonathan has no choice but to get involved.

Naomi, his ex-fiancé hires him to prove his father’s innocence (the proof is in the camera evidence – he did it!).  Thus begins his involvement and near misses with death with members of the Dragon Gate Industry; owned and ran by wizards and other magical members of society Dragon Gate Industry. A long-dead and legendary sorcerer appears to be back and is hunting Shade – Shade has that effect on people.

Shade has connections too – like Charon, the ferryman of the underworld now known as Sharon the librarian; Kelly, a genetically produced mystical assassin/warrior; Esther the ghost and more.

Shade is a laid back, smart mouth man who takes sarcasm to new levels; his friend Kelly is a butt-kicking assassin/warrior who begs to kill; Esther his own personal ghost swoops in and helps save the day more than once!  Together this team of private investigators is top-notch, action-packed, and fun!

Gary Jonas creatively weaves a supernatural story that captures his audience with realistic dialog and action.  His characters are well-developed as is the plot.  He skillfully weaves a supernatural story around the myths of old intertwining the two and placing them in today’s society.

I enjoyed reading Jonathan Shade and look forward to the next in the series.  I am positive that the next book(s) will not disappoint!  I laughed out loud and earned several questioning looks, but it was worth it!

Joe Hempel did a superb job of narrating.  He took the character Jonathan and made it his own. As the listener I could not help but be swept away into the story as Hempel took control and became Shade. This is not something that is done easily but Hempel succeeds where others fail.

There were no issues with production.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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Watcher (Book One) by AJ Eversley

Sawyer is a strong, street smart young woman who has sworn her life to protecting humans and their humanity from the evilness of a power-hungry scientist.  Everything Sawyer knew is false, everything she believed is false and everything she feels is false.  With her head spinning, she pursues her hunt of carbons and bots without mercy trying to save the innocent.

AJ Eversley built a strong world with equally strong characters and a storyline that captures the attention of her listeners.  The character development is well done, the dialog matches each character and the way they move throughout the story is realistic.  Some parts are predictable, most are not.  Eversley has a talent for throwing curveballs into her plot twists.  Although a bit dark, there are humanizing pieces that make the listener smile – Chevy (dog not the car or actor), teenage love angst and discovering oneself.  Rich in detail and vivid descriptions Eversley paints the story with words.  Although it is a story of robots taking over the world that has been done in several different ways, Eversley brings a fresh take to it.

The narrators, Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell, performances were well done.  I enjoyed having Campbell narrating the male thoughts and Stephens narrating the female thoughts.  It helped give more perspective to the situations, you were seeing it from two points of view.  Stephens and Campbell’s performances were excellent.  They provided a connection between the characters and listeners helping to move the story along at a good pace.

I cannot wait to see what Sawyer does, as she continues to uncover half-truths and discovers just how deep the evilness goes.

There were no issues with the production or quality of the audiobook, it was clear and crisp.

 

Star Rating:  * * * *

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Conquest (The Chronicles of the Invaders Book 1) by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

Earth has been conquered with little bloodshed and is now ruled by a race of beautiful humanoids. Their control is seemingly schizophrenic, trying desperately to avoid loss of life, then being brutally cruel and even wiping out entire cities in retribution. The humans have not given up their planet and continue an unceasing campaign of resistance and rebellion.

The Illyri invaders have also conquered many different alien races and use them as servants and soldiers. But they have never met aliens so similar to themselves, nor as intellectually advanced as the human race. The Illyri are clearly far ahead of the humans technologically, but that is not much of a long term advantage. They are both fascinated and wary of humans.

Syl is the daughter of the Alien governor of Earth. Born in transit to Earth, she is Illyri, but raised on Earth and has a great affinity for humans. Her curiosity catches her in a vast web of conflict and lies, both from her people and the aliens; and she doesn’t know who to trust.

Conquest is a fast-paced story of action balanced with teenage romance and otherworldly technology. The teenage heroes are willing to do the right thing when their adult counterparts are not. The gentle Illyri is a contradiction, not wanting to harm the humans, but needing to put down the endless insurgencies, sometimes violently. The reason becomes clear at the end and would spoil the plot to reveal it here.

This is a well-crafted story with rich characters and believable technology. There is a hint of Dune in the novel, but more of a nod than any kind of derivative story. Perhaps because there are teenagers as the main characters, you could call it a young adult novel. But those are often arbitrary labels and Conquest should appeal to any SciFi lover, especially those who enjoy space opera.

The book is performed by Nicola Barber. There are many very good narrators working today, but Nicola stands above even this excellent crowd. She is magnificent, changing accents and voices with ease, male and female easily discernible. Her tone and pacing are spot on, moving the action forward, slowing when necessary and speeding up during the action, emotion oozing from her voice.  You will want to follow this talented performer and listen to other books by her. Just great.

Conquest is an enjoyable listen with a terrific performance. It doesn’t exactly break new ground plot-wise but has well-developed characters that are easy to like (and hate) with an exciting backdrop of war and intrigue. The novel wraps up the immediate action nicely but also starts the transition to the next volume.

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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Spellbound and Hellhounds by Nia Rose

**An Amazing Land of Magic with Life Messages**

Review by Rox Burkey 

Nia Rose created a captivating world in the start of this series with Spellbound & Hellhounds, Coven Chronicles Book 1. This fantasy world is alive with supernatural creatures of varying degrees of good or evil powers and structures constructed of magic described to create detailed images in my mind. A balance of exploits and achievements, to witty humor captured my imagination in a one sitting listen. Yep this audible kept me seriously engaged.

Vanessa, a new member of the Coven grows up in this complex world of Raen, in the country of Aeristria, within the city Tolvade as she works to achieve her assignments to reach the next level in the Coven. Each of the magical creatures she encounters are like the woven spells of complex wards including all the colors, smells, sights, and sounds. As Vanessa works to defeat the 24 evil ones, galloping from one compromising situation after another, hellbent on succeeding to the rank of spell weaver.  Not only has Leon, an accomplished spell weaver of the same Coven, come to her rescue previously, but also saves Vanessa and Bobo from the pack of hellhounds. Leon glowered down at Vanessa with smugness earned by his sage experience, teetering on the edge of promotion to the rank of summoner. They share an unlikely partnership in Vanessa’s quest.

Bobo was my favorite, endearing ogre with an accented voice that matched perfectly to the well-developed character. He is Vanessa’s pet, protector, and confidant. His saving her – “suicidal hide on a regular basis” – is merely a taste of the tongue and cheek banter. Infused humor made me laugh aloud more than one.

Alex Goodman’s engaging pace kept my attention with clear, crisp narration, from start to finish. His transitions of voices between the characters was consistent and helped color the images of each. Alex’s voice acting was so winning that finding the pause or stop button was impossible.

I highly recommend Spellbound & Hellhound for those who want to be taken to a magic land of fantasy this series for those who enjoy a fantasy of magic

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A Crucible of Order: Sentinels of Creation Book 5 by Robert W. Ross

Thankfully Robert Ross finally told us where Kellan Thorne ended up once he assumed the role as Sentinel of Chaos!  I know it’s not been all that long in the grand scheme of things, but the wait was well worth it!  Kellan Thorne, Sentinel of Chaos formerly of Order is in Rome, specifically 50 A.D. where he is a fashionable gladiator!

In true Kellan form, his sardonic wit and inner dialog that sometimes leaks out into the world, his life is entertaining and engaging.  We meet two new mantles and poor James loses his job – not nearly as momentous as other moments in the book but I didn’t want to give out any other spoilers.

Ross is an exceptional writer.  He takes his fans to varying degrees of intensity and plot twists.  This is an edge of your chair type of book.  Ross creates a dialog that is realistic and is his character – for instance, Kellan can ramble and argue with himself, Shannon never loses her brogue accent or Lucifer’s charmingly deceptive twist of words.  Ross has the knowledge and experience to create the characters in a manner that is solid and realistic.

I truly enjoy the places that Ross has taken each of his characters and the insight he has given us into each one’s personality.  He is deliberate in his writing; nothing is truly a waste of reading/listening – each word takes the story somewhere.

Nick Podehl does a magnificent job of narrating the story.  To me, he has become Kellan, Shannon, Megan, Sera (aka Ares), etc.  I love how he can roll out the Scottish brogue and then fall immediately back into the American slang that Kellan uses then to the formal speech of Ares.  Podehl moves the story along as he performs engaging the listener to stick around.

“Ah teel ye thes fur nathin’” Ross and Podehl is a winning combination!

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

Star Rating:  5

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Hell Divers (The Hell Divers Series Book 1) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

The earth as we know and loved it has been nearly destroyed by humans.  Floating above the clouds and well above the radiation levels, two airships – Ares and The Hive contain the only living humans.  All others are gone, fallen to the earth in crashes leaving no survivors.  All too often, the airships need supplies that only the war-ravaged and nearly destroyed earth can provide – parts to maintain the ships.

The ships are self-sufficient, crowded and depending on who you are – life can be pleasant or hellish.  Not only does The Hive have to attempt a rescue mission over Hades (a particularly deadly area of the world) but their ship is falling into ruin.  Hell divers are the men and women who dive from the airships and fall to the earth to scavenge what the ship needs to stay afloat.  X is one of the best but he carries so much baggage that one wonders if he still has it in him.

Action-packed, X and his crew must find the necessary parts to keep their ship afloat while the captain faces her own difficulties.  Residents are recruited younger and younger to be engineers, hell divers and more – there is no childhood anymore!  Diving to the planet from the airship is dangerous given the electrical storms and other conditions that mother nature throws their way.  While on the planet, X not only loses his best friend and becomes a surrogate father but he comes face to face with deadly vicious monsters that have mutated into unspeakable horrors that enjoy human flesh.  The Hive must fly, X must return with the needed supplies and the human race must survive – but is it too late?

Nicholas Sansbury Smith brings the injustices of society, mistakes, and fallacies of humans to the forefront and mixes in unimaginable monsters with razor-sharp nails and teeth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Smith’s Extinction series so I was looking forward to this series with anticipation and excitement.  Smith did not fail to deliver – Hell Divers is an exciting action-packed book that is well written and developed fully.  Rich in detail, the characters are fully developed along with the plot.  Everything moves together – in a fluid-like manner leaving no questions or holes.

Smith is a rare and unique story-teller; one that can grow a story into a very skillful piece of writing capturing the audience’s attention and interest.

R.C. Bray, the narrator, performs this oral narration perfectly.  He captures the roughness and personality of each person; he plays his voice as if it were a musical instrument – concise and with the correct tone inflections and emotion.  He embraces the book and allows the book and its characters to shine.

If you enjoy action and well-written stories of the apocalypse, then don’t miss out on this one.  It is riveting!

There were no issues with the audio production or quality.

 

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Ancient Echoes (Ancient Secrets Series Book 1) by Joanne Pence

Lots of secrets.  Deadly secrets!  Covert missions in the past with Lewis and Clark combined with the same type of covert missions with men in black, domestic and international all seeking the same place, the same mysterious pillars in Idaho – yes, Idaho!  Mix in some college students and renowned archaeologists, an Egyptian princess and the secret of alchemy and you have one attention holding, an edge of your seat thriller!

Slightly over 12 hours, this audiobook is enthralling and intriguing!  Combining the past with the present and everything in between would be confusing and distracting, however, Joanne Pence writes eloquently and thoroughly leaving nothing confusing, distracting or incomplete.  Vivid descriptions along with solidly built characters and a well-executed storyline, listeners will NOT be able to shut it off.

Pence allows her readers to believe everything is going smoothly, they expect an outcome then she gives them a major twist that will leave the listener wanting more.  Yes, there are some parts that are repetitive, but they are so for a reason – to drive home the point that things are not normal, and each character must experience it to come to that conclusion themselves.  It also helps to add to the terror of what is really going on.

The supernatural piece of this book was well done and blended well into the past and present happenings.  I have to say, she writes evil well!  There was no question at all who or when the evil was present!

The narrator, Tim Paige, performed the audiobook with a smooth, flowing style. Paige gave the listener a solid reading that was captivating and easy to follow.  He did not do voices which I think could have taken away from the story and lost some of the depth to the story. For a first time narrator, I give him a 5-star rating!  Hope to hear more from him.

The production and quality of the audiobook were good, however, there was some electronic noise about halfway through the book when a new chapter began.  It didn’t hurt the book or my enjoyment, but it was annoying.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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