Tag Archives: Science Fiction

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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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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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:  * * * * *

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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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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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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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