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DabOfDarkness

Ojo Caliente, NM, United States
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wow! original apocalypse tale!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-19

This book was full of surprises! It was a great ride from beginning to end. Starting off in Iceland, it looks like a group of scientists are caught in the middle of a major volcanic event. As they flee for their lives, Abe thinks he might have seen something odd, large, and impossible. But he doesn’t have time to mull is over as he and others scramble to get out of the path of disaster. Woo! I had to catch my breath after just the first 20 minutes of the book. Already, we got a sizable body count and it looks like the world will no longer be the same.

Then Abe gives some key info to the US President. In exchange for his family’s safety, he’s willing to go back out in the field. I loved Abe’s family. He and his wife Mina tried hard and long to have a child and when that didn’t happen, their relationship started to fall apart. That’s when Abe met another woman (Belle), and after a brief relationship, he learned that both ladies were pregnant. The awesomeness is that they made it work – all 3 adults living together raising two sons, Ike and Ishah.

Back in the field, Abe is with a highly trained and skilled group of soldiers. They plan to investigate the ‘aberration’ more closely, but things go horribly wrong. Pretty soon, it’s just Abe and Graham, one of the soldiers. Together, they manage to stay alive but they are separated from government and family.

Take another breath, because the action continues! One thing leads to another and then Mayer joins the small team in survival. This aberration walks the planet, going from one natural disaster to another, setting them off. Pretty soon, there isn’t any place on Earth that hasn’t been affected. The story leaps ahead several years by giving us a peek at how others around the world have survived one calamity after another.

The tale brings up a lot of great questions about mass extinctions and new species suddenly popping up in the fossil record without a clear evolutionary line. I love how a lot of people pulled together to survive, as well as learning to live with (or at least avoid) some of these new species (many of which are deadly).

Meanwhile, Abe is still dead set on finding his family. Mayer and Graham have nothing better to do, so all three make a life and a quest of it. Abe learns weapons and fighting, but he also shares his scientific knowledge and just as often keeps the three of them safe. I loved this one particular scene where he first meets the new US President. All that physical activity, training, and fighting has changed Abe, and for the better.

The one element that was a little jolting for me were Abe’s visions. These happened whenever he was in physical contact with the aberration and give him vague hints about the nature of the aberration. Even as the main plot wraps up fantastically with plenty of action, emotionally moving scenes, and sacrifice, these visions leave plenty of unanswered questions on the table. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is always a joy to listen to. He gives a great performance with Abe’s voice, sounding all nerdy. He also makes a great US Army Ranger (Graham) and a deadly Israeli Mossad agent (Mayer). Kafer did a great job with Abe’s many and varied emotions throughout the book. His female voices were believable and his foreign accents were well done. There were no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

zombies or prison - tough choice

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-19

Note: While this is Book 1 of the Starborn Redemption series, it is also Book 7 of the larger Starborn series. It’s works pretty well as a stand alone novel.

This story combines two elements very well – prison survival and zombies. In this case, the zombies are called greyskins. They act pretty much as normal zombies do. They shamble around scratching or biting living humans, which then infects them and when those humans die, they rise again as greyskins. However, the majority of this story isn’t so much about the zombies as it is about surviving this plague of zombies (and horrible humans who just have to make life harder).

Skylar and her dad Liam have both been captured, though they are smart to not let the guards know that they are related. At the prison, they are separated along with all the other new prisoners – men to one side and women to the other side of the prison. They each go through their own traumas, and each does their best to feel out the other inmates, hoping for allies.

Blackwell, the guy who runs it is quite brutal, but it seems that his off-site boss is even worse. Initial entry to the prison means a harsh cleaning by power hose, removal of hair, and also taking a blood sample. The boss isn’t shy about letting it be known that they are searching for Starborn, those that have special abilities. Right away, both Liam and Skylar know they have a limited amount of time before they are discovered. So lots of delicious suspense and ramping intensity throughout the story just for this little plot line alone.

I enjoyed the short flashbacks as they told the story of Liam and how they lost Skylar’s mom. Liam is certain he has discovered a cure for the greyskin virus, and that is their only bargaining chip. Both guard is closely until it looks like it’s the only thing that will keep them alive.

Nine is a great side character. She’s full of mystery and I wouldn’t be surprised if her back story is told in one of the other Starborn series. As it stands, this story does end a bit of a cliff hanger and I want to know what happens next for these characters. It’s an engaging story and I will be adding other Morrow audiobooks to my wishlist! 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Stacy Gonzalez had a great voice for Skylar. She sounded just like a kid stuck in a horrible situation. I also loved her old, hushed, worn out voice for Nine. Her male voices could use a little more masculinity. Sometimes they were spot on (like for grouchy Blackwell or young Hutch), but sometimes I had trouble distinguishing Liam from his daughter Sky. The pacing was perfect and there were no tech issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Stacy Gonzalez. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Pass me some cannibalism please

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-19

It’s another great addition to the series. That combination of insulting humor and gory zombie deaths has me snort laughing my way through the book. If you are squeamish about any type of bodily discharges or easily offended by religious or political jokes, then this might not be the series for you. For the rest of us that can laugh at ourselves, others, and blue, naked zombie cannibals, this is the series for us!

Book 5 followed our hero, Mo Collins, and his gang out on the pirate ship Viva Ancora. Here in Book 6, it’s the same time frame but focuses more on what’s happening back at home on the zombie-free island of Guntersville. It was great to explore this timeline more as Book 5 hinted at what evil was happening back home. Us readers know to watch out for Mike Brown, but the people of Guntersville have to investigate the multiple cases of missing children. In strides Sako, who takes on the persona of Rorscharch from The Watchmen. Yes! I loved this character and this alter ego.

While I do get a good laugh out of creative ways to kill zombies, there were a lot of penile injuries. The first few were funny, but I did get a little tired of it after a while. Though I did snicker when one of the characters (Mo?) comments that he didn’t think he could see another blue penis destroyed in a unique way ever again. Same with the zombie poo. So much poo everywhere! At first, it’s funny background and yet another reason to avoid becoming a zombie. But after a while, it was a little tiresome. I could use more nerd references instead. I adore all the movie and book references.

The ending wraps up some things but leaves us hanging on a limb over a canyon in other areas. So looking forward to the next book in the series! 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: S. W. Salzman continues to do this series justice. I loved his Rorschach voice – spot on! I always love his Mo voice – so funny and innocent well-meaning idiot average guy. His female voices sound feminine and all the characters have their own unique voices. The pacing is perfect and his delivery of the humor is excellent. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

Interesting but too much crammed into 1 book

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-19

Murder mystery plus supernatural elements – what’s not to love? I had solid expectations going into this story as it sounded like a tale I would really enjoy. There’s a lot of good things happening here but there’s also some things that bogged it down a bit. So, for me, it was a mixed bag.

Detectives Terri Marston and Michael Horton aren’t perfect people but they are dedicated to solving the mystery. They don’t always follow the rules, but Terri has a lot of questions for Horton, and he’s hesitant to explain. I really liked the interactions between these two characters and I liked them individually too.

The supernatural elements were a little clunky. They’re several info dumps that bordered on boring. And sometimes a character suddenly had a skill that conveniently got them out of a problem. You can do that once or twice in a book, but do it too often and it dilutes the plot. By the end of the book, I felt that the story tried to capture too much: sex trafficking ring, assassination attempts, inheritance scam, supernatural spirit walker dude, chatting with other spirits, the spiritual world dubbed Torment, an actual police investigation, etc. If the book was twice as long, I think all these elements could have been done well and woven together seamlessly. However, as it stands, certain parts were rushed and others parts crippled with info dumps.

So let’s talk a bit about Torment because this was a very interesting idea and I did like some parts of it. I especially liked the idea that most people in a coma have their spirits haunting the area, sometimes going for short walks near their medical facility. I had a great visual with the spirit magnets which tether a spirit to a body.

The ending is a little sinister. The main threads of the story are wrapped up with the main antagonist explaining hows and whys. While I could appreciate the wrap up, it also felt a bit like yet another info dump. Anyhoo, there’s definitely room for a sequel and it would be interesting to see what Terri decides to do with her new found info about Torment. 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Helen Birchall was OK. She did quite well with Terri’s voice, sounding like a professional cop. Her male voices could use more masculinity and there sometimes wasn’t much distinction from one character to the next, so I had to pay close attention to follow which character was talking. The pacing was good and there were no technical issues with the recording. 3.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Haha! I love all the snark!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-08-19

Set in the imaginary Falconcrest City, superheroes, monsters, and supervillains clash and clatter together. Gary Karkofsky has delusions of grandeur, specifically of becoming the lead supervillain for the city. He was given a magical cloak that gives him formidable powers. With this new wardrobe and a small group of henchpeople, Gary has big plans for the city.

First and foremost, there is humor everywhere in this book. I love that much of the humor is told in a straight manner, the characters taking the plot seriously even as they come up with corny supervillain or superhero names. For instance, Gary’s alias is Merciless: the Supervillain without Mercy. Now wouldn’t that make you quiver in your boots? 😉

So Merciless gets on the bad side of the Malt Shop Gang when one of their own, the Ice Cream Man, is taken out in a robbery that Merciless interfered in. The plot thickens when Merciless is contacted by the police to assist in a kidnapping – the girl’s parents are rich and Merciless is poor. He’s in it for the money. However, the local superheroes don’t take kindly to Merciless’s misdeeds. That’s quite a bit on the man’s plate!

You recall that magical cloak? Yeah, well that cloak actually has a personality and likes to be called Cloak. And it likes to argue with Merciless at the most inopportune times. Ha! This often incited chuckles from me. Cloak turned out to be one of my favorite characters.

Mandy, who is Gary’s wife, doesn’t feel quite the same way about supervillainy as Gary does. In fact, you could say she’s a bit on the opposite end of the spectrum. This causes some grief and consternation for our main character, partially because he really does love his wife quite a bit. I really enjoyed that Mandy was not a toss away character and held her own throughout the story, adding to the plot and the humor. She’s got some skills herself and that adds some twists to the plot.

I was very happy to see characters of various sexual orientation in this book. Hooray! SFF needs more of this! The story wraps up well enough, with the main characters going head to head with an unexpected monster. Not everything was tied up neatly but the next installment of the series is already available, so I think enthusiastic listeners/readers like myself can just jump into that. It was really the humor that made this book excellent for me. The plot was secondary to the characters and their interactions with each other.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a great voice for Gary/Merciless. He delivered the humor in the intended dry tone which made it that much more amusing for me. As usual, he had distinct character voices for everyone and his female voices were believable.

What I Liked: The humor; supervillains unite! or not!; Cloak and his timely lessons; Mandy and her skill set; great cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this book!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

Excellent space opera!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-08-19

Set in a galaxy far, far away, Cassius Mass, supreme star pilot, has lost his faith in his side of the war. All his life he believed he was fighting for the right side, the Crius Archduchy. Alas, the Archduchy fell to the Commonwealth and people rejoiced (much to Cassius’s surprise). Now he spends his days drunk navigating a freight hauler, the Melampus, going by the name Marcus Grav. That is, until he’s swept up into intrigue and revolution.

I know I have said this before about a new-to-me Phipps series: This is my favorite of Phipps’s works! Well, I say it again. This gripping scifi story is a little darker than some of his other works and yet still has moments of humor and all of it has this space opera feel going for it. I was rooting for Cassius throughout the story since I felt he would do his best to get the least number of average people killed.

Then I started rooting for Ida Claire, a spy master and captain of the Melampus who may or may not be on Cassius’s side, because she was so damn interesting! I kept picturing her with a bit of knitting as she read over the latest spy logs, quietly drinking rum-spiked tea and casually checking off boxes on the log that would determine who lived and who died. I know. She never had any knitting in the book and yet I always picture her with knitting. Maybe the knitting needle tips are poison dipped.

Let’s talk about Cassius’s tangled family tree. So he’s technically a clone of his father, yet he was raised as a sibling with his father’s biological offspring…. so that makes them his, well, we’ll go with siblings for now. Someone learned from that and decided to make a clone of Cassius to raise an Archduchy rebellion against the Commonwealth. Now Ida wants to stop that uprising and hunt down this clone and whoever is controlling him. Obviously, things are going to get messy for Cassius who was raised to have strong familial ties.

I loved the bioroids! Originally crafted to serve as a slave work force, sometimes a bioroid breaks free and spends the rest of their days working on some rundown freight hauler. Take Isla Hernandez, a medical officer, who is glad for her freedom but still harbors plenty of anger. The bioroids plight put me in mind of the human-like AI robots of Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica.

There’s also aliens! Yes! Humanity knows they exist but has very little to do with them, per the aliens’ choice. We’re not evolved enough to be of interest. Then there’s the nearly alien Chel, a race of once-humans that are so far removed from humanity in purpose, biology, and technology that they are considered alien by most. Clarice has had contact with them and it wasn’t pretty. She’s got her own scars to keep tucked away.

Cassius is in a relationship with Isla, who used to be in a relationship with William… so there’s some personal tension between the two men. There’s also the young Hiro who is everyone’s little brother and he does Cassius a good turn, earning his trust. It’s a ragtag crew that often put me in mind of Firefly.

My one little quibble is that I found Cassius a bit too trusting beyond reason. He has plenty of hints that a member of the Melampus is working for a different team but is then surprised when that betrayal comes to pass. Same thing when he meets up with his siblings once again. Since we’re experiencing the entire tale through Cassius’s eyes, if we see it, then Cassius sees it as well. So I felt it was just a touch clunky trying to portray these hints of forthcoming betrayal and yet still keep Cassius’s blinders on.

All around, I really enjoyed this tale. There’s plenty of skirmishes, spy networks, and individuals making plays for personal gain. Most of our would-be heroes have deep scars that affect their choices, which in turn, put them or others in great peril. I also loved the witty humor that kept popping up, providing breaks from the grimdark feel of the overall story. Plus, there were a few references to iconic movies such as The Godfather and Airplane. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Eric Burns was an excellent narrator for this story. I loved his voice for Ida, which could range from sweet grandmotherly to brutally honest. He also made a really good Cassius, holding onto that sense of honor throughout the story. He did a great job with the humor as well as the grim moments, expressing the right mix of emotions for any given scene.

Espionage at it's finest!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-19

Agent G is one of 26 hitmen for hire, working for the International Refugee Society (IRS). His memories of his previous life were wiped away even as cyber enhancements were installed. With the promise of restoring his memories, Agent G patiently works off his time for the IRS. His current mission is to infiltrate the opposition, the Carnivale, which is run by Caesar and his family. However, a mole within the IRS is making this a tricky, and possibly deadly, assignment.

Once again, Phipps brings me quality entertainment. This was a very fun read that had just enough seriousness to make me care about the characters and their fates. As Agent G wonders what kind of man he was before his time with the IRS, I too hoped he would find out and that it would be good for him. Each agent is assigned a handler (or personal assistant) and Marissa is assigned to Agent G. The two have a connection on a personal level. Marissa, like the Agents, has also had her memories wiped and has been enhanced to some extent by the IRS. However, she is much more replaceable than Agent G, so he sometimes worries about jeopardizing her life.

Besides the great characters, there’s plenty of fancy tech for us cyberpunk fans. Weapons, drugs, and criminal intrigue permeate this story. Agent G has plenty of mods and many of them come into play as he tries to wend his way through this double crossing, mole infested plot.

I also really enjoyed the ‘bad guys’, some of which are truly bad guys. Caesar and his adult kids bring out another side to Agent G, especially when he has to allow himself to be seduced. Yep, there’s a few sexytimes scenes sprinkled throughout the book. They were fine though not terribly erotic. That’s OK because Agent’s G’s sex appeal is written all over him with his competency and focus.

All around, it was a very fun listen and I look forward to seeing where Phipps takes this story next.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is still one of my favorite narrators. He has the perfect voice for Agent G. It’s a touch gravelly but still sounds like a man in his 30s. I liked his mild Italian accent for the Casesar. Also his voice for Persephone (one of the people in charge at the IRS) was clipped and domineering, just like I pictured her.

A Romantic Addition to the Frankenstein Genre

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-07-19

It’s an interesting addition to the Frankenstein fractured fairy tales out there. The first half of the book is mostly romance. It feels very Victorian romance even after Justine joins the ranks of Dr. Frankenstein’s creations. The second half of the book was much more interesting to me. Justine, who was renamed Persephone by Victor Frankenstein, and then later Penny, has gone off on her own. She’s made friends, lost people she cares about, tested her strength and ability to live and travel on her own.

Even though the second half was more engaging, it was still a romance story. Romance just isn’t my cup of tea. Penny/Justine is desperate to be loved and accepted but she also desires vengeance. This part of the story had a Wuthering Heights feel to it with all the storms and hate and misplaced romantic feelings, especially since Victor’s first creation (a very angry brute) is still around wreaking havoc.

I recently listened to another book by this same author, The Lords of Wrath, which I liked very much. So I had certain expectations going into this story, and I wasn’t expecting so much of the plot to be Romance driven. That said, this book is well written and the characters well developed. It’s just that the Romance Genre doesn’t often hold my attention.

Bride does give us a little bit of a redemption tale. So many characters have so much to be regretful for – those who wrongly accused Justine in the first place and are responsible for her death, Frankenstein’s first creation, Victor for so many reasons, and even Justine/Penny. She’s late to realize how she’s wasted her second chance, how her actions have harmed so many, including the innocent. In the end, some characters get what they deserve and some don’t. It was a realistic ending. I loved the little twist that closes the story out. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Becca Ballenger was a great choice for this book. She had the perfect voice for Justine/Persephone/Penny. Her male voices were believable and she had distinct voices for all the characters. I especially appreciate how she was able to capture the many, many emotions of the characters. There were no tech issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kyle Alexander Romines. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

A brute who takes out the bad guys - for fun!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-07-19

Berengar could be The Hound’s cousin. He’s big, rough, and had some wiggle room in his morals. I love how his character starts out – all unrepentant sharp edges. Someone has to rid the land of scum, and why not let it be someone who enjoys the work. Those that deserve death get it and Berengar enjoys dishing it out.

As the story continues, his character grows a bit. He comes to find that things aren’t always to black and white, people can redeem themselves, that those that might have once deserved death are now willing to put it all on the line to save someone else. Through these experiences, he learns about his own softer side. But don’t think that it gets all gooey! Nope! Berengar might have been altered a bit by the violence and trickery of those around him, but he’s the well armed man who will happily take out a savage brute to save children.

The story has a very Medieval wild Ireland or perhaps Wales feel to it. The moor, the mist, the Hag, the werewolf, etc. It’s a lush world to set this monster hunt and murder mystery into. Aha! Yes, this tale has a cerebral side. We must untangle the mystery, figure out who the real killers are and their motivations. Then we go stand behind a nice sturdy stone wall and let Berengar dispense some worthy justice.

Obviously, I really enjoyed this story. It clipped along at the perfect pace, having a balance of action and introspection. The magic is well matched with real-world woes (like mucking about in the dreary mist). While it appears the ladies need rescuing at the outset, that soon changes. Not all of them are in need of an assist.

The story ends with the mysteries solved and some justice meted out. Berengar is whole enough for another adventure to stumble upon him. I look forward to Book 2! Oh! and I love his wolf-hound too! 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Matt Addis has a great voice and is perfect for Berengar. I love his angry, gravelly voice for the ticked off would-be hero. Addis also voices the ladies quite well too, especially that creepy Hag! And I like his young man’s voice for Allistair (Rose’s love). The pacing was spot on and there were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a copy of this this book in exchange for an honest, free review. My opinions are %100 my own.

Pirate ship on a river & blue naked zombies!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-07-19

Another great addition to the series! Mo and crew are sailing their pirate ship off to the coast in the hopes of finding a crazy smart scientist who supposedly has a cure for this blue zombie epidemic. I loved that we started with Mo and crew and then had small snapshots of some of the new people we met in the previous book. Mo is the character I care about the most and the previous book didn’t give us enough Mo time.

And things are shaking up with the blunatics! Perhaps they are more than mindless nudist cannibals. But Mo and crew have no clue. I really look forward to seeing where things go with this little plot twist.

Back home, Mo’s parents are facing a serious issue. Kids keep going missing! The reader knows who is responsible, but the folks back home having figured it out. So I hope they can discover the villain before the crowd turns on them, blaming them for weak leadership, etc.

I do want a little more from the ladies. They do plenty, action wise except for Mo’s girlfriend, but they rarely have lines. The guys talk and talk and talk, and not just Mo. But the ladies rarely get to say anything.

Overall, this zombiedy series is still my favorite in this subgenre. 4.75/5 stars.

The Narration: S. W. Salzman continues to impress. I love his deep Alabama voice for Mo. He also gives us a great Rorschach (from The Watchmen) voice for a minor character. His female voices are believable and all characters have a distinct voice. There were no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are 100% my own.