All posts by bookworm

Brightblade: The Morgan Detective Agency, Book 1 by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

Brightblade: The Morgan Detective Agency, Book 1 is a fun, exciting read.  It has everything in it that a person could want – detective, magic, witches, vampires, ghouls, superhero turned bounty hunter, monster hunter, psychic, men in black … just to name a few!

Ashley Morgan, an up and coming Bright with psychic empath abilities as well as telekinesis powers, has failed at every career she has chosen.  Settling on being a bounty hunter for the supernatural element who bail jumps, Ashley may not be walking away from this career anytime soon, if ever!  Faced with the deadliest of supernatural beings, a villainous god-like creature, Ashley meets everything and every one head-on.  Having almost died, her brother gives her vampire blood adding dhampir to her growing list of supernatural abilities and identities.

Aided with her motley crew of bounty hunters, an ex, and a magical sword, Ashley jumps in to save the day with some interesting results!

Both C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus, authors, do a magnificent job of building the story and characters.  This first book is more focused on the development of all the characters – you are given a good solid backstory to each character enabling the listener to connect more easily.  The villain is definitely a fearsome character but is not the sole focus of the story.  Yes, he gets his own backstory told but it is not as in-depth as the other characters. Phipps and Suttkus are not just writing a story – no, they are creating another piece to the New Detroit world that makes it more realistic and attention-holding.  They are not authors who do anything halfway – they totally enmesh the listener into their world with a thorough backstory and character development as well as down-to-earth dialog.

The dialog is realistic and engaging.  One cannot help but smile, laugh out loud, or even facepalm at something a character is saying; it is that lifelike.

The narrator, Heather Costa, provides an excellent performance.  Her ease at delivering the dialog is done very well.  It was clear that she enjoyed the story greatly and was able to specifically give the story and dialog the type of performance they deserved.  Her voice was even and soothing.  There was no question as to how the character was feeling as Costa captured and projected the emotion very well.

If you are looking for something fresh, fun, and has a magical supernatural story to it … run, don’t walk to get your copy of this book!  I cannot wait to see what trouble Ashley Morgan and her friends get into next!

5 Star Rating!!!!

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Disclaimer: The audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias review.

Eight Pointed Cross: A Novel of the Knights of Malta by Marthese Fenech

Reviewed by Rox Burkey

A Deliciously Ambitious History Saga!

Author Marthese Fenech presents the violent history of 16th century Malta with living breathing storytelling vignettes from one end to the other. The details of life for the Maltese people as they succumb to slave traders, bow to Christian Knights, and sometimes serve as common soldiers clearly conveyed the difficulty, harshness, and violence present in that era. The history is more digestible because of the character relationships within these interwoven tales; good and bad.

The myriad of stories within the book as a writing technique is awesome. It helped fill in the murky background and additional depth to the violence of the Ottoman Empire’s Muslim Turks. Many parts of this historical saga filled my eyes with tears, with the suffering of the Gozotain families particularly horrific. Wars and conquest are filled with terror and fear, but the heroes and heroines are often found in Eight Pointed Cross.

The siblings Domenicus and Katrina Montesa are so real and relatable as a family unit who grow up over the course of the book. I loved Katrina with her determination and independent thoughts, not common among females of the period. Yet her character is very relatable and sadly naive.  Frankly, all the characters are well developed regardless of their role from the Montesa siblings to their father; Angelic overcoming her initial suffering, and Demir who knows right from wrong in his heart and mind. Ms. Fenech laces her extensive research into a compelling history brought to life because of her amazing characters and their interactions. The story has twists and turns that are more enjoyable with the concise bite-sized chapters.

I was concerned initially with the length of this novel, but I was immediately captivated by the clear expression-filled voice of Simon Hester, as he embraced the superb prose. Simon’s voice adds a realistic richness to a historical fiction masterpiece. The overwhelming sincerity to his narration made me think he watched the scenes as they were occurring and related it just for me. Simon Hester is the ideal narrator for Eight Pointed Cross This audible book had no production issues and the quality was consistent from beginning to end.

I enjoyed listening to the comprehensive descriptions, richness of history, extensive character development, and personalization of this historical saga. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy listening to a story with unfiltered realism. Not for the squeamish, but then war and conquest never is.

5 Star Rating!

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Disclaimer: The audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias review.

SAS: Body Count: The Wicked Will Perish (Book 1) by Anthony Vincent Bruno

Jim Brannigan, a former military policeman and whose wife is found brutally murdered by the hands of a Jamaican drug dealer, is facing a mystery that even he may not be able to solve without more loss and heartache.  Stymied by a corrupt system, Brannigan muddles through.

Enter an elite group of vigilantes – formerly SAS Special Forces soldiers.  Disillusioned and finding the judicial and law enforcement system corrupt, they take exception.  They seek justice for the innocent, the paedophiles, drug dealers, and corrupt members of the system who find themselves at the short end of the stick.

A life and death struggle to right the wrongs; albeit unconventional and illegal, means the book will capture its listener’s imagination. Strong characters that could be developed a bit more, a plot that is not only well developed but takes exciting turns and twists until the end.

Definitely violent and not for the faint of heart; the descriptions of the children’s deaths can be a trigger for some.  Vastly dark, this book will give you nightmares, wondering how close to the truth it is.  The author, Anthony Vincent Bruno knows how to bring you to the edge and then leave you in a precarious situation.    In fact, I found him far scarier than any Stephen King book when it comes to real-life situations involving children. This is not a book that one can walk away from and forget;  it is a book that lingers in the back of your mind . . . haunting you.

Colm Farrell, the narrator did a solid job of performing this book.  He kept true to the British language and accent.  He captured the essence of each character and projected it clearly. His performance underscored the darkness of the book vividly.

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

Star Rating:  5 Stars

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Disclaimer: The audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias review.

Terror in the Appalachia (Terror Series, Book 2) by J. Esker Miller

A stalking, four-legged monster lurks in the wooded areas of the Appalachia; well, more than one actually.  The terror induced by these creatures is almost tangible.  Night, morning or noon, one is not safe alone or even in small groups.  They are not timid at all especially when they are hungry and feeling territorial.  They have a plan to migrate.

The author, J. Esker Miller, has captured several different aspects of the Appalachia life.  The dialog is realistic and demonstrates a common approach to discussions.  On example is when the ranger questions when he can be considered a local.  The response is 100% spot on – “after at least three generations, nothing sooner.”  For small town, rural setting, this bit of conversation is real and which adds a realistic flavor to the book.

The characters in the book are well developed and easily relatable to their role.  Could there have been more character development?  Yes, but that can be said for any book.  I thought the plot flowed smoothly and I appreciated the subtle and steady build of suspense.

The narrator, Ward Paxton performed the audiobook perfectly.  He delivered a performance that was well-timed, expressive and moved the story along.  It is obvious that Paxton performs the action-packed, terrifying tale well.  As a voice actor, his voices are solid but like most male actors, he struggled with the female voice.

I did not experience any difficulties with the quality or production of this audiobook.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves horror and adventure.

Disclaimer: The audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias review.

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Sons of War by Nicholas Sansbury-Smith

Nicholas Sansbury-Smith is an excellent writer who knows how to weave an engaging yet terrifying story that the reader cannot help but connect it to what is happening today.  In a time where a pandemic situation could very easily bring about the economic downfall of the world, Sansbury-Smith could not have picked a better time to debut his newest novel, Sons of War.

Mixing mafia, politics, military, and paramilitary all into one novel was a bold move. One that I feel, as a reader, was brilliant.  It is exciting when an author moves from one genre to another and does it as well as Sansbury-Smith has done.

This story follows a small community within Los Angeles through a cataclysmic economic and political breakdown affecting the U.S.  A father and son bent on protecting not only their wife and daughter/mother and sister but their friends, the innocent, and their country.  The mafia intent upon building an empire based on drugs, sex/human trafficking as well as death and destruction; the paramilitary bent on removing the power of the US government into their own hands all while riots and starvation occur.

Vividly detailed, the plot and character development are flawless as are the plot twists! The dialog is realistic and well done. Sansbury-Smith has a knack for storytelling and does so in a riveting style.  Complete with action, adventure and edge of your seat moments, Sons of War promises to be all that listeners desire and you should know upfront that you will NOT be able to put it down until the end!  When you do reach the end, you are going to want more!

Ray Porter, the narrator, gives an excellent performance.  He masters the characters in a manner that leaves the listener thoroughly engaged and moves the story along at the appropriate pace.  I cannot think of anyone better for this performance.  With both Porter and Sansbury-Smith, this is another successful series.

If you have ever listened to a book by Nicholas Sansbury-Smith you already know he is a vivid and impressive storyteller, this book just drives that point home.

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

Star Review:  * * * * *  (5-star)

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The Rose Diary by Curtis Maynard

Jacqueline finds herself dealing with death much more intimately than most her age would ever be expected to do.   First, it’s her childhood best friend, Chase who passes in a mysterious fire, and now it is her older sister, Sandra who is discovered dead in her bed.  Family rifts and accusations follow her throughout the book until she discovers her sister’s death was much more than an illness … so much more!

Curtis Maynard develops the story vividly and realistically through dialog, character development, and plot twists.  The author is meticulous in details, leaving nothing to chance.  Every movement of each character is carefully choreographed to make the story realistic and accurate.  The plot twists and supernatural occurrences resonate with many because of the simplistic approach used in the storyline. Maynard expertly communicated the story, emotions, and character relationships.

I had a difficult time stopping the book until I was free to listen again.  Maynard does not scratch the top of the story, but rather takes the listener deeper and reveals a much darker story.   I enjoyed listening to the book and hearing the plot and twists evolve with each passing second.  The cliff hanger at the end was a bit of a shock and well done but it makes me need to hear the 2nd book now.

The narrator, Jess Combs, performs the story with just the right amount of emotion.  Her performance engages the listener to vividly see the book and each step of the mystery until the end.  Her voice for the story was very well done – one would not believe she wasn’t 14 or 15 years of age!

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

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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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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