Tag Archives: Science Fiction

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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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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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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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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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)