Monthly Archives: March 2020

Before the Reign Falls by David Black

Review by Rox Burkey

A Thoughtful Historical Fiction! 4 Stars

Author David Black uses literary license to relate the intense historical fiction of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen. A royal, descending from Henry VII, she was put on the throne only to be deposed by her cousin Mary, Queen Mary I.

This story unfolds using a diary type of format that has the listener moving between 16th century England and modern-day. The prologue sets the listener up with the history of the royals which provided me a suitable frame of reference for those times and the relationships. From there, the story moves to modern-day with Alice and Elliott traveling the backroads of England to help a buddy who is restoring an older property he purchased.

The combination of the historical back story told from the modern-day viewpoint was enjoyable. I liked how many of the characters told their own story, especially Lady Jane Grey. None of her short life was easy and though she was privileged I found her a tragic character.  The author weaves surprising twists and turns that piqued my interest all the way to the unexpected ending.

Sarah Jane Rose was a good choice as the narrator of this tale. She has a delightful quality to her voice, with accents ideal to the story location. Her speed and timing were perfect along with well-placed emotional highs and lows as the characters told their portion for the story.

The production quality of the audible was done well and without flaws.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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One if By Land, Two if By Submarine by Eileen Schnabel

History is about to change.  Paul Revere is missing, presumed kidnapped and Samuel Adams and John Hancock are in a precarious situation as well.  Kep, TJ, Max, and Tela are charged with traveling back and taking the infamous ride to warn the colonists of the British invasion as well as rescuing a trunk of documents for John Hancock that could put a deadlier spin on the outcome of the war.  Several twists keep this listen exciting and riveting!  Kep, TJ, Max and Tela are all kids and in 24 hours or less they must right the wrongs.

Action-packed, Eileen Schnabel captures our imagination and runs with it.  Well written, the plot is executed beautifully with finesse and charm.  One cannot help but fall in love with the kids and smile with the fresh take on Hancock and Adams.  It is a fresh way to look at time travel and the intrigue was fascinating.  The characters were very well developed, each character was realistic and her attention to detail made the story unforgettable.  Well written with realistic dialog and interactions, it is an easy listen.

Narrated by Kevin Clay, the story is wonderfully performed.  Clay moved the story along with his skilled voices and added just the right mix of emotions.  Clay brought the characters to life, including the nasty Fox and Rat Face!

The production quality of this book was well done and clear.

Regardless of your age, this is a book that will drag you in.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker

The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker is one of those unique stories that would only improve with length.  Attention to detail, Walker tells the story of John 999801.  John is a clone but a clone with questions and dreams.  Relegated to the front line of the war, John discovers answers to his questions … questions better left alone.  An action-packed adventure with unique and developed characters that bring the story to life.

This is one of those rare stories that would only benefit from being longer, as a novella it is too short.  While it works ok, the story could have gone in many different places.  And yes, Walker is a bit into the “big” words but that comes with the territory, I think.

Jack de Golia performs the audiobook very well.  Like most male narrators his female voices sound less feminine but overall his performance was very good.  De Golia is well versed in moving a story along with tone and appropriate emotions.

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

Star Rating: ****

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2036: The Year Trump Stepped Down! by Michael Sandels

Review by Rox Burkey

Michael Sandels delivers a politically incorrect fiction that will make you laugh, chuckle, and think. He creates an imagined 2036 life in a place filled with injustice. The conversations and interactions are positioned as relating to the distortion of the world’s future, due to social and political choices. You can enjoy this book regardless of your political preferences but only if you have a sense of humor.

2036 is laid out with a focus on people and communities that remain.  One of the chapters, Above Myrtle Beach, June 4, 2036 introduces listeners (readers) to Ted and Bob.  Their conversation takes you on a serious, yet whimsical tour of life at that time with creative license.

Ted and Bob were both smiling and feeling like they were floating in the sky. “This is the life.”

            “Oh, yeah,” responded Ted, “You kidding?”

            “Just checking.”

            (They relaxed and drank from cups with paper umbrellas.) “So no more saying anything?” Ted asked Bob.

            “Nope.”

            “About it?”

            “Nope.”

            “Abut Him too? Can I even say ‘Him’?”

            “just probably don’t,”

            “And this is not the law?”

            “That’s what I hear.”

            “From the Administration?”

            “Well, yes. And Facebook.”

            “Can I even say that now? ‘The Administration? Without getting’ a look-see from above? From ‘Space Force!’?”

And on these guys go while applying their 147 sunblock. Each area of the remaining world highlighted in each chapter provides those characters’ viewpoint and highlights the errors made that resulted in this new world, while Facebook watches everyone and everything.

Michal Sandels provides a fabulous rendition of the story using distinct voices and specific accents in a non-stop manner that kept me fully engaged. Michael is closest to the story he created and effectively uses his voice to make this an enjoyable experience. I can say with confidence that no one would subscribe to this as the outcome of our world, so it will give you pause.

Star Rating: * * * * *

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The Splendid and Extraordinary Life of Beautimus Potamus by Peggy Wheeler

Peggy Wheeler identifies herself as an author of fantastical fiction and she most definitely is!  I listened to The Splendid and Extraordinary Life of Beautimus Potamus and was captivated right away.  It is a story about a 300-year-old hippo who lives on the planet Rendaz and moves through life teaching earth history and interacting with others such as her good friend Sam, the praying mantis, her mentor and high priestess who is a blue crane, a gorilla named Rufus who tells bad fart jokes and a host of other fantastical creatures who live and interact as humans.  In one history class, she shares how the Egyptians and other cultures came to worship animal gods – yes, coincidentally, animals who visited earth from Rendaz!

Beautimus is lacking in the self-confidence area but when she finds love – watch out!  In her gaining confidence, she manages to unintentionally set off a revenge-fueled hatred that will leave the listener on the edge of their chair.

Wheeler creates a world, much like earth where her characters mirror humans in actions and beliefs.  I found the audiobook interesting and couldn’t stop listening.  Between the wordplay, satire, social situations that are political and religious peppered with puns and other jests and the excellently developed plot and characters, this book is awesome.  When I first started listening to the book I thought, “OMG really?  A hippo as the main character???” But then Wheeler sucked me in and I fell in love with Beautimus, Sam, Lucas, and all the other delightful characters.

Kelley Hazen deserves an A+++ for her narration.  She did a fantastic job of keeping up with the voices and tempo of the book.  She was just amazing!  I would love to hear more of her.  I cannot imagine anyone else doing as magnificent a job as she did.

There were no issues with the audio or production of this book.

 

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Timberwolf by Tom Julian

Timberwolf is an action-packed, edge of your seat audiobook. Timberwolf is an ex-top black ops agent who has faced many adversaries but nothing like the alien spider who “left a bit of himself behind” in Timberwolf’s mind. He volunteers for every dangerous and potentially suicidal mission available. So not only does he have to protect the universe from impending war, from a religious madman but he has to figure out how to rid himself of the spider.

Picture Tom Cruise or Matt Damon on superhuman steroids! Tom Julian, the author, captivates his audience through detailed and complex plot twists, fully developed character development and attention to detail. This is a military styled sci-fi action-adventure that one cannot put it down. Julian allows us to see just how damaged Timberwolf is but also how human he remains. One cannot help but become engaged in this book!

C.J. McAllister, the narrator, performs the audiobook superbly. He captures and projects the characters realistically. His narration is smooth and flawless. His deep resonating voice for Timberwolf is just how one pictures it would sound.
There were no issues with the audio quality or production of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and narration!

Star Rating:  * * * *

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