Tag Archives: Horror

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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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:  * * * *

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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:  * * * * *

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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:  * * * *

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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

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Escaping the Dead (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Book 1) by W.J. Lundy

Set in Afghanistan, this Escaping the Dead (Whiskey Foxtrot Tango) focuses on an active military unit out on patrol only to find complete radio silence, local blood-crazed maniacs, and their home base completely overrun by these ‘primal’ crazies. Staff Sergeant Brad Thompson struggles to remain alive, keep his unit intact and find out what is going on. Feelings of abandonment and never-ending horror haunt these men in the Afghan wasteland.

An extremely short story, well written and action-packed. The plot was well constructed and the character development was excellent. The plight Brad Thompson was almost tangible through vividly detailed descriptions. Listeners could get caught up in Thompsons being cut off from everyone, being chased by primals and not knowing the fate of his friends and family.

This is a unique zombie book as it takes a very small group of survivors and drops them in the middle of a wasteland, completely removed from everyone and everything except the enemy. They are not given insight into what is happening or how it happened, where to go, what to do.

Lundy was considerate of his audience by not losing them in the descriptions of the military equipment. His writing style is laid back, informative and engrossing.

Eric Vincent did an excellent job of narrating and drawing the listener in with his talent.  His narration was smooth.

The audio production of the book was well done.

I recommend this volume 1 to anyone who enjoys zombie/military genre.

Star Rating:  * * * *

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DEAD: The Ugly Beginning by T.W. Brown

So this is the first book in a huge ten book, so far, epic saga, so I have my work cut out for me, and if you have been following my review all I need is another series to get sucked into. I was grabbed at once by the colorful and graphic covers they all have, seem to be the same artist for each which helps tie them all together. I have heard and read a lot of good things about this series and am not really sure what to expect.

If you have listened to the Zombie Fallout or the Blood Soaked series and loved the comical side of the stories, you’re not going to find much of that here. While there are funny parts Dead: The Ugly Beginning is definitely not a comedy. If you have listened to I, Zombie or the Timothy series and loved the brutality and gore, you’re not going to find much of that here either. What you will find is a meticulously intricate and well thought out zombie apocalypse story, told from multiple points of view, with a plethora of different complex and interesting characters, that explores, in my mind, several realistic scenarios and situations. All that being said there were a few completely grotesque and disturbing parts that made my skin crawl with disgust. Brown is quite obviously a fan of George Romero and Stephen King as this comes out in the many references throughout and is not a bad thing. While the book started out pretty cliché and predictable and even a tad slow, I started to think that there wasn’t going to be anything special here, but I was so wrong. Where this audiobook shines is, within a rather short period of time, when it became clear that Brown was shooting for realism, something that is missing from many of this genre. I could see myself and those that I know in the story trying to survive. I can only imagine where the rest of the books and soon to be audiobooks will take us, I can say that I cannot wait to plug in and forget all of reality.

This was my first time listening to a performance by Andrew McFerrin and he nailed this one. Dead: The Ugly Beginning call for a big booming crisp military guy narration. He gave it the subtle soft-spoken gritty charm that the main characters demanded. On the flip side, he was able to kick it up for the characters that needed it. McFerrin made me jump out of my seat when he started yelling into the mic to the situation the full emotional impact. I already have the second book to this series in my queue and am looking forward to letting McFerrin pilot my imagination.

Review written by Paul Stokes

Star Rating:   * * * *

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Extinction Ashes (Extinction Cycle: Dark Age Book 3) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith and Anthony Melchiorri

The latest book in the Extinction Series continues to deliver a powerful and action-packed ten hours of suspense.  It is truly up to Timothy, Fitz, Team Ghost, Kate, Beckham, and Horn to defeat the “new gods” and crack the purpose of the variant webbing.    There is not a moment in which anyone is at peace, it is a consuming war in which trust is valuable and not easily given but life can be snuffed out in an instant.  So many different pieces to the story are moving at once but the authors, Nicholas Sansbury Smith and Anthony J. Melchiorri keep everything flowing and consistent.

I would have to echo what many others have said about this series; the characters are so well developed that they are like one of the family.  As a listener one cannot help but groan out loud when Timothy, Fitz, Beckham or Horn are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Smith and Melchiorri have a talent for connecting the listeners to the characters in the book – there are some you can’t help but love and others … you hope Karma comes around in the form of a variant or bullet and takes care of the right ones!

This was an intense book, it took me several days to get through it only because I was so involved in the book.   I would find myself experiencing a wide range of emotions – relief, anger, fear, OMG moments and then the strong feelings of patriotism, dedication, and duty.  Those real feelings that not many of us experience throughout lives now except vicariously through books and movies but they are accurate feelings that I have seen throughout my family members who have served in Korea, Vietnam, WWII and more.  Smith and Melchiorri are very perceptive and talented storytellers to be able to invoke those feelings with words along.  Their words reveal the passion and dedication very strongly.

RC Bray, as a narrator, is the best!  His ability to speak in different tones and inflections helps move the book along as well as cement that connection to the characters for the listener.  His distinctive voices are strong and well-executed.  I cannot imagine listening to the Extinction Series without him present – he has become the voice of the characters!

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

Star Rating:    * * * * *

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Trudge (Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse #1) by Shawn Chesser

Cade Grayson has seen tough times in his life when he was in “the Sandbox” as they called it.  Little did he know that what he saw then couldn’t begin to prepare him for what happens when a virus is unleashed upon the US and its citizens.  Follow Cade on his journey to safety for both him and his wife and child (who are not with him when everything goes down)

The narration in Trudge was done by Chris Patton.  I liked his style and it really fit the book.  I think that Cade was a “manly man” for sure, and I think that Patton did him justice in that aspect.  My only complaint (and it’s not even a complaint, it made me chuckle a few times throughout listening) was when Patton would say something with a WH in it.  He would say “Hoowhat” instead of “what”, which reminded me of a Family Guy skit about how to say Cool Whip.  (Is it Cool Whip or Cool Hoowip?)  As I said, it doesn’t take away from the audiobook, just a personal thing I noticed.  The quality of production was also great.  No issues at all.

Trudge was one of those books where I felt like I’d been there before, but I won’t lie – you haven’t.  The story followed a similar character to the book I read RIGHT before this one (Max from Tomorrow War).  But, the storyline was totally different and was full of unique and different characters.

I can tell that the author either has military training or is extremely familiar or close to someone who has.  Chesser uses a lot of military terms and for the most part, he tries to explain what they are.  There are still a few that slipped through, either because he didn’t want to explain what it meant or he just assumed Civs aka civilians would know what it meant.

Another book that falls short with me based on the fact that it doesn’t have a proper ending.  Yes, there was some closure, but not nearly enough for me.  The book just felt incomplete because it is missing what I think is at least half of the story.  Damn sequels and trilogies!  Other than that, it was a quick read and an enjoyable one at that.

 

Star Rating:  * * * *

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(review written by Brian)