Tag Archives: audiobook

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

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

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:  * * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

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:  * * * *

Click here to purchase vis Audible

Click here to purchase via  Amazon

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection Books 1-3 by Barbara Venkataraman

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection is the first three books in the series.  Jamie is grieving, is continuing with a successful family law practice and finds herself thrust into mystery and intrigue.  All the while, her emotional turmoil plays a significant and sometimes entertaining role in the stories.

Barbara Venkataraman does an excellent job of building Jamie’s character along with other characters who are not only pivotal but just as interesting.  Duke Broussard is key to all three books although Venkataraman brings him in slowly in the first book.  From a murdered rock star, a divorce case turned murder, and murder in the park system – while they are out of Jamie’s league, her friends step up and help her solve the cases.

Venkataraman takes her time building the characters and story plot.  The dialog is well done and realistic.  In each book, there are moments of hilarity yet also seriousness.  One cannot help but love Jamie – she is a small part residing within each of us.

The narrator, Carrie Lee Martz performed the book very well.  She spoke clearly and added the emotions needed to further the story and engage the listener.  My only issue was Duke did not sound like he was described in the book; I had trouble reconciling his looks to his sound.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and intrigue.

Star Rating:  * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

 

Heaven, Hell, or Houston by Thom Erb

WARNING:  Explicit violence and rape of women and young girls as well as foul language.

Some people have all the luck and then there are guys like the volatile, alcoholic Texas Ranger, Jay McCutcheon.  From a long line of Texas Rangers and alcoholics, McCutcheon just wants to dump the stupid drunk perverted Governor’s security detail and get home to his wife and baby girl.  A year of living apart, McCutcheon wants to save his marriage and change.  He was well on his way until the yellow rain fell raising the dead to walk and eat. Oh, then there was Stacy-Jo a runaway who won his heart and whom he protected as much as possible from the uncanny situations she often found herself thrust into.

Toss in the evil Isandro Dianira, who recently escaped from prison and decided to rape and pillage everyone and thing in sight, and McCutcheon’s night just got worse since he’s the one who was responsible for Isandro’s prison term.  Isandro was the leader of a gang and one who had a special friend living in his head who told him to do “things.”  Such as slicing animals and … well torturing and murdering anything that has a pulse since he was old enough to walk!

If one can get past the violence, it is an authentically written book with the dialect, words and everything written in a very realistic manner.  Thom Erb has written an excellent book (violence aside) that captures what everyone fears but doesn’t realize  – who is the person entering the convenience store?  What are they likely to do?  What sets them off?

Vivid imagery, Erb paints a picture with his words.  Listeners can see the tired, angry Texas Ranger vividly as well as the evil Isandro.  Zombies do make an appearance but it is the evil Isandro and McCutcheon that are the center of the drama.  A strong plot and well-developed characters.

Doug Miller did an excellent Texas Ranger voice for McCutcheon, he was a little weak for Stacy-Jo’s New York accent but overall, he did an excellent job.  Not only could I feel his energy through his reading, but I could also feel the oozy slimy gunk flowing from the evil Isandro and the pervert on the bus by his talented reading by tone and voices.  His enunciation was perfect.

I enjoyed the book and was sorry to hear it end.  I would recommend this book to adults only given some of the content.

There were no issues with the production of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

Demon Fallout #1 by Mark Tufo

Mark Tufo has moved from Zombies and vampires to demons and creatures of the underworld in Demon Fallout – The Return. Talbot’s adopted son and vampire, Tommy gets a message to Talbot –  he’s in desperate need of help.  Talbot, a loyal friend and one who holds nothing else above family rushes to his aid crossing into the underworld of demons.  We are introduced to new characters and see the return of old ones as well as crossing over into other realms of Tufo – Talbot vs Timothy (the deadly flesh-eating zombie clown)!

Tufo is not one to rest on his tried and true writing style, this book shakes the world of Talbot and his readers into gut-wrenching moments that will leave you gasping and shocked! It has the Talbot humor and Talbot charm but the twist is quick, unexpected and well done; the reader has no opportunity to regain their balance period!  Imagine, if you will, being sideswiped by a semi driven by a cab full of Elves on the Shelf with crazy demonic eyes and maniacal laughter that appears out of nowhere – that is what this book is like!

Sean Runnette, once again performed superbly.  I cannot hear Runnette in anything else without connecting him to Michael Talbot first.  He IS the perfect voice for Michael Talbot.  He is skilled at drawing the listener in and keeping them there.  Tufo and Runnette together make a deadly combination!

I loved the book and while I am still reeling from it, this was perfect!

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

Star Rating:  * * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

Sam Green and the WhipEye Great Ones by Geoffrey Saign

Sam Green is a young girl hurting from the recent passing of her mother and isolation due to her father’s grief.  Seeking sympathy, she confides her feelings to a pet store parrot, Charlie.  Then the unthinkable happens and Sam finds herself thrust into a mystery and adventure that’s outcome rests on her shoulders. Then, Jake, her cute neighbor, becomes entwined in the adventure and together they help the Great Ones face off with the evil shopkeeper guardian who wants to kill Charlie for his magical powers.

Given a magical staff, Whipeye, Sam and Jake together must discover its secret powers, so they can defeat the evil creatures released by Magnar, the shopkeeper guardian, and defeat his plans as well.

Geoffrey Saign has created an adventure that is mesmerizing!  Vividly described, Saign has created a world that lures listeners of all ages in.  The story flows naturally and with ease; this is one of those rare books where the listener can sit back and enjoy it.  The characters have realistic qualities and personalities and depth that allows the listener to relate to them.

The audiobook allows one to hear Sam’s pain, Jake’s confusion, and angst and the evilness of the shopkeeper guardian.  While it’s not an emotional rollercoaster, one cannot help but feel the emotions.  There are multiple layers to the story.  There are no dull moments, it’s action and forward-moving from beginning to end.  The only thing difficult about this audiobook … is shutting it off before the end.

I highly recommend this book – it is the first in a series.  It is fascinating, entertaining as well as engaging!

The narrator, Lauren Holladay performed the story perfectly making each character unique.  She kept the story moving smoothly adding the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and doubt and anger and fear.  Holladay’s voice was calming and pleasurable to hear.

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

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

You’re Going To Mars by Rob Dircks

Triplets named Paper, Rock and Scissors live in Fill City One with their father and grandmother.  Paper’s dream is to go to Mars someday.   Good news for Paper!  Zach Larson, a private entrepreneur is funding a private trip to Mars.  For one lucky person who competes on his TV game show and wins!  Much like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Paper has to find the much sought-after prize, a red scarab.  If she’s lucky enough to find a winning scarab, she has to escape Fill City One; ride over 2,000 miles with her absentee mother, then she has to compete in Larson’s live TV show for three months and beat out 25 other contestants. Can she do it?  Thing is Paper is smart and strong but she’s not without feelings.  She has to decide to what depths she will sink to get to Mars …

Rob Dircks, the author, gives his audience an action-packed adventure full of twists and emotional highs and lows. Dircks creates characters that he gives depth to and cultivates them into likable (and hate-able) beings.

The plot is well structured and solid.  Each character is realistic as is the dialog.  The reactions of his characters are spot on as well.  Dircks has carefully and delightfully constructed a memorable story.  I would love to see it filmed!

I got this audiobook two days ago and I finished it within the 48 hours I had it.  It is captivating, interesting and creative.  I could not put it down!

Khristine Hvam performed the audiobook excellently!  She was comfortable with the story and characters, she made the audiobook pleasant and memorable as well.  This is the first time I have heard her; she is perfect!

I loved it this book.  I enjoyed the different messes Paper found herself; I found the emotional discoveries she made were insightful and at times painful.  This is an audiobook I will listen to again and again!

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

Star Rating:  * * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

Spiders in the Garden by Jason R. Davis

Everyone has had a job they hated during their lifetime but George has never moved away from his; he has always been digging.    He has remained in the dirt for his entire life – shoveling, digging holes, and now in his retirement, he is still working in dirt.   Like most retirees, George and his wife have their daily patterns – she cooks and cleans and George tends to their garden. Their life is pretty predictable except for today.  Today something different leaves the garden.

Jason Davis teases us with zombies but in reality, the evil vile creature is worse than zombies but no less dangerous.  Those tiny eight-legged creatures that haunt our nightmares, fairy tales and nursery rhymes come for them.

Jason Davis continues to haunt his audience with the most horrifying of all creatures – eight-legged monsters that creep into a room without notice, spins its web to trap prey and its ability to survive is frightening.  How many of you have even thought about spiders crawling into your ear or up your nose and laying eggs?  Not many of you I’m sure, but after Davis is done with you – you will have thoughts, you will experience those fears and relive this book for a long time.

Davis is commanding with his words weaving the story almost as thoroughly as his spiders trapping his audience.  I shudder to think how absolutely terrorizing Davis can be in his creativity.  The only issue I had was the audiobook was way too short!  Although that may be a good thing considering I don’t like spiders …..

Darren Marlar is the narrator and does a remarkable job.  First, the confusion and then fear that George and his wife feel are evident in his voice and tone.   Although an extremely short audiobook, Marlar does not waste time getting into the roles.

There were no issues with production.  Everything was clear and went smoothly.  The quality was superb.

Star Rating:  * * * *

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon

Artic Storm (Ares Virus Book 1) by John O’Brien

Review by Joe Mahoney

Story

John O’Brien has crafted a new world from his previous works in this genre. This time around our government has gone a step too far in its biowarfare program and created the unthinkable called the ARES Virus. In true government fashion with congress critters and oversight committees all calling for transparency, they have to send everything out to independent labs for testing and verification or lose those black budgets they depend on to thrive on. Even the worst virus including ARES must be tested or bad dog no biscuit. True to the government employee stereotype men in black deliver the virus to the wrong address at a college campus. The well-meaning person attempts to take it to the correct address on a nice sunny day across campus loses containment and the nightmare begins.

The infected become enraged carriers of a hybrid rabies virus that has only one goal, to perpetuate its existence with the host as the carrier attacking everyone it sees. Those that are bitten rise and continue the infection spreading it with horrifying speed. The government’s theory is they should die off after three days of dehydration and go into a hibernation state with no more to infect. In one of John O’Brien’s rare Meta moments Sgt. Brown is reading a series of books on the lawn on his Kindle. He is the ROTC Instructor for the University and just returned from deployment and mentions the New World order fast zombie series. Just as the virus contagion begins. Sgt Brown is caught in the middle of the infected and the only way to survive and remain uninfected is to leave the campus and possibly the nearby town. He picks three up three cadets at his office but only two survive the exodus out of the city, Cadet Clarke and Cadet Hayward. Along the way, they also find a little girl named Emily and convinces her to come with them. Sgt. Brown knows that with this level of the outbreak the extremes the government and military decide to use to stop the virus and it will be scorched earth for anyone surviving in the town or anywhere close to it.

Attention Holding

The audiobook does a good job of holding the listener’s attention through the entire story. The story is filled with plenty of action, adventure, violence, and horror. If you are a fan of Mr. O’Brien’s previous work this will for sure hold your attention. There are enough twists and turns in the story that it does keep things interesting.

Narration/Production Value

Mark Gagliardi provides the narration for this audiobook. This reviewer did not enjoy Mr. Gagliardi’s narration style through this audiobook. There are some narrators who do not change pitch for male and female characters and it works for them. In this instance, I was just not that big of a fan of his narrating style He just did not connect with me as a narrator. I have nothing personal against the narrator just a personal preference. It did not draw me out of the story though. The production value was of the highest quality.

 

Star Rating:  * * * 1/2

Click here to purchase via Audible

Click here to purchase via Amazon