Tag Archives: Fiction

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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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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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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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

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Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry

Review by Nathan Tullis

Ghostwalkers is book one in a planned three-book tie-in to the Deadlands RPG games. And did they pick a great author to start it off. Jonathan Maberry is an exceptional storyteller, multiple Bram Stoker award winner, and a perfect fit for this world. Best known for his award-winning Pine Deep Trilogy, as well as his Joe Ledger series and his YA zombie series, Rot & Ruin. I’ve listened to all of them and they’re all great. It wasn’t a question of if I would read this, but when. Especially when you consider Ray Porter is narrating.

Welcome to the Wild Weird West, “a country made for dying.” After The Great Quake in 1868; California has been shattered and released veins of a new, mysterious metal called Ghost Rock. Which is used in various steampunk weapons and gadgets, as well as some more devious uses that I will leave the reader to discover on their own.

Grey Torrance is running from ghosts as he sees a man being chased by six others. Torrance doesn’t like the odds and goes to help. He quickly discovers there’s more to the chase than meets the eye. As he’s – let’s say talking – with a couple from the group doing the chasing, he sees a blinding flash of blue light and quickly loses consciousness. When he comes to, he sees a man standing over him. This man, Thomas Looks Away, explains why he was being chased and what he’s trying to accomplish. After some entertaining dialogue, which Maberry is always good at writing, Looks Away hires Grey to help him save the people of a little town called Paradise Falls. After helping them reclaim their very own town well, Grey discovers what Ghost Rock can really do and it terrifies him. Looks Away and Torrance set out to stop the man responsible for this new hell, each obstacle more terrible and horrific than the last.

This was performed by Ray Porter, “‘Nuff said” as far as I’m concerned. However, the man deserves more than that. He is an exceptional narrator and is at the top of his field. He has read everything from horror and thriller to fantasy and non-fiction, always delivering a great performance. This was no exception. Jonathan Maberry and Ray Porter’s chemistry is astounding as if Porter can crawl into Jonathan’s mind and understand exactly how Maberry is hearing the words as he writes them. Listen to anything read by Ray Porter, the man is a force.

This has everything I wanted from it. It’s a Western, Fantasy-Horror weaved in such a way that it would be enjoyable for anyone who isn’t interested in any of those genres. It’s a story about a man who is haunted by guilt and grief trying to right past wrongs and a group of people who just want their lives back. It’s filled with horror, heartache, determination, and love. Written by a man who understands the art of storytelling better than most, and performed by a man who’s voice talent is one of the top reasons I fell in love with audiobooks.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Struck by Rachel Langley

Imagine being in love with your soul mate and everyone in your world knows it.  Then waking up the next morning only to discover your world is no more; everything has changed; everyone is … just gone.  Laney and her twin, Leela, travel to a distant place to try to set things right and rescue their friends/family but to do so means traveling in the light, a powerful and dangerous journey with a most uncertain outcome!  The girls are faced with serious consequences as they move forward with their plan, it becomes clear that not everyone will be coming home.

Rachel Langley, the author, weaves a delicate story of love and compassion, intrigue and betrayal, and morality.  The dialog, action, emotions are all genuinely young adult and realistic.   Langley builds each character slowly with detail both physically and emotionally.  There were a few twists that made the story more moving and exciting.  The story, the characters all flowed smoothly.  I liked the way in which we heard from both of the twins – seeing their perspective was satisfying.

The narrator, Jelyne Helms performed the audiobook wonderfully.  Her voices were realistic and comforting – just the perfect pitch and tone for each character.  She read the book comfortably and seemed very familiar with it.  Her tone and inflection gave weight to her characters sounding appropriate ages.  Plus she captured the personality of Leela and Laney perfectly.

There was only one small minor glitch in the publication.  Otherwise, the production quality of this audiobook was top-notch.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Struck.  I hope to hear the second part of this series.  I want to see how things play out.  The cliffhanger was perfectly timed and presented.

 

Star Rating:  * * * * ½

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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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