Here be nightmares

Spirit Breaker: Occult Assassin #3 (Unabridged)

Author: William Massa Date: 2015 Narrator: James Foster Provider: Critical Mass Publishing Running Time: 3 h 51 min Audible Enhanced Audio Technology engineered to battle the spirits of the dead…. In Spirit Breaker, Mark Talon must confront an evil psychic and the terrifying forces of the afterlife in his most heart-pounding adventure yet. Contain the bonus short story “Coffin Collector”! Talon heads to Italy to face a chilling coffin maker who has acquired the casket of a famed practitioner of the dark arts.


This book consists of 1 novella and 1 short story, both well written, and both with high “scary” factor.  In the novella, the author uses paranormal technology to excellent effect, and it adds enormously to the chill factor.  While these are certainly not character driven stories, the author develops his important characters, including his villains with enough care to make them interesting.  This is especially true of the main characters, and, in both books in this series I’ve read, I was happy to learn more about Mark Talon, which gives me insight into his motivations.


The paranormal world has been thoroughly mined In fiction, and all too many stories simply retell themes that have become familiar that they have also become clichés.  The author has avoided these traps, however, taking some ideas with which we have become familiar, but giving them very creative and unique twists.  These stories are best read in broad daylight, preferably with bright sunlight.


Mr. Foster provides an entirely professional narration, which, as good narrations tend to do, enhances this book admirably.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.


The creatures who live next door …

Working Stiff: The Cases of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Volume 5 (Unabridged)

Author: Kevin J. Anderson Date: 2015 Narrator: Michael Gilboe Provider: WordFire Press Running Time: 6 h 17 min Audible Enhanced Audio Back from the dead – and back on the case! Even being murdered doesn’t keep a good detective down, and in the Unnatural Quarter – inhabited by ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and all sorts of creatures that go bump (or thud!) in the night – a zombie PI fits right in. Dan Chambeaux, aka “Shamble”, solves a string of madcap cases with his ghost girlfriend Sheyenne, his Best Human Friend Officer Toby McGoohan, and his firebrand lawyer partner Robin Deyer.


Since I discovered Sookie Stackhouse some years ago, I have come to very much enjoy the lighter touch authors are using to deal with the interaction of unnatural (or “othernaturals?) and humanity in the modern world.  In this collection of short stories, we see all sorts of different um, species (for lack of a better description) interacting with humanity as nearly a normal part of everyday life, and the whole subject is treated with humor.  The cases are sometimes laugh out loud funny, as are most of the characters, and, while this book doesn’t have a serious bone in its body, it is grand, well written fun.


Mr. Gilboe provides his usual excellent narration.  He uses expression and character voicing to good effect, and his style enhances both the quality and the humor of this lighthearted romp through the world of legends that have come to life, and can now be found at the nearest gourmet coffee shop or mall.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.

Another wonderful Fantasy world!

Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons, Book 1 (Unabridged)

Author: Marc Secchia Date: 2015 Narrator: Shiromi Arserio Provider: Marc Secchia Running Time: 14 h 28 min Audible Enhanced Audio Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly? Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom – the Island-Kingdom of Immadia. Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter. Series Note There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons – or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.


I had read and enjoyed the Pygmy Dragon so much that the author very kindly gifted me a copy of this book.  I enjoyed it just as much, and for many of the same reasons.  First of all, the world building in both books is superb.  The author creates his own world, complete with geographic features, civilizations, and history. it all works together to enmesh and then captivate the reader.  Yes, one can trace certain inspirations back to the Earth we know, but those inspirations are merely jumping off points, and by the time the author is finished with them, they are creative and entirely his own, fitting perfectly into his world.


Next, there is the writing, which is vivid and engaging.  The author’s use of language is admirable, and he weaves his tale with a light but firm hand.


I had noticed, before, the deft way the author has with portraying young people, and that definitely carries on in this book as well.  His teens are just that, whatever world they live in.  they laugh and play (not always at appropriate times), tease one another, and have the same doubts and fears anyone approaching adulthood have, and they deal with them, with a minimum of angst, which I, frankly, appreciate.  These young people are far too busy living to dither and agonize, let alone be self indulgent or self absorbed.


The story is exciting, complicated, filled with lots of action, including some incredible aerael battles, the politics of diplomacy, and yes, romance.  This is a marvelous fantasy series, and a delight to revisit through the pages of this book.



The alternate police force

Taylor Street File of Red Cin (Unabridged)

Author: JoBe Cerny Date: 2015 Narrator: JoBe Cerny Provider: Actors Audio & Publishing Running Time: 9 h 06 min Audible Enhanced Audio A new millennium of Chicago crime… Chicago has always been a hotbed for violence, crime, and political corruption. Four governors served prison sentences; two of them were sentenced to longer jail sentences than their terms of office. There are always more crimes than cops. During prohibition, Detective Tug Collier created the “Widows and Orphans Fund”, a euphemism for graft money. That fund eventually financed a private investigative agency known as Taylor Street. When a case involving violence is closed for lack of evidence, the police department refers the case to the private detectives of Taylor Street who use alternative crime-fighting techniques. Frankie Turk and Lola Lahti were suspended for using excessive violence in the pursuit of justice. So they were the perfect detectives to investigate the murder of the husband of a wealthy young widow who owns Chicago’s hottest night spot, Club Red. Join Chicago’s most interesting crime-fighting couple as they investigate The Taylor Street File of Red Cin.


While I’m not a proponent of vigilante justice, especially not when it has, if even indirectly, the approval and backing of official law enforcement, I did enjoy this book, because the premise was presented and carried out extremely well.  The case was maze like in its complexity, but the writer managed to keep everything fairly straight, so that while I was often befuddled, I wasn’t actually confused.  Granted I saw the outlines of the resolution before that resolution occurred, but not *how* it would happen.


One of the things that hooked me and kept me reading was the marvelous character development.  Each person in this book is well developed, multi dimensional, and when not sympathetic, interesting.  There are some surprise “heroes” here, too, and the 2 main characters are humanly complicated.  The writing is excellent.  The author has a strong voice, leavened with a dry, often sarcastic sense of humor.


This is a very enjoyable mystery/adventure, but it also touches on more serious issues, without ever allowing them to overshadow the story.


I have found, generally, that authors do NOT make good narrators, since writing and narrating require 2 very different skill sets, so my rule of thumb is to avoid books narrated by their authors, usually by several miles.  However, every rule must have exceptions to prove it, and the narration provided by the author of this book is just such an exception.  The author provided a skilled, expressive narration, with perfect pronunciation and character voicing.  In fact, knowing that the author was the narrator, I had to check several times to make sure that was correct.  I was, and not only can Mr. Cerny write, but he can narrate, both impeccably!


I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review from AudioBookBlast dot com.



anatomy of an event

Operation Nimrod: The Iranian Embassy Siege (Unabridged)

Author: Russell Phillips Date: 2015 Narrator: Phillip J Mather Provider: Shilka Publishing Running Time: 3 h 20 min Audible Enhanced Audio On April 29, 1980, British police assured Iran that their embassy was secure. The very next day, terrorists stormed the embassy and took 26 hostages. With the Iranian government willing to let the hostages become martyrs, and the British government only willing to talk if the terrorists surrendered, 26 lives hung in the balance. What followed was six days of tension and terror. It was finally ended when the SAS launched a daring rescue mission, broadcast live on television. Millions held their breath, waiting to see the outcome of Operation Nimrod.


This is a very short book, but it gives a fairly in depth portrayal of what happened during these 6 days, and why it happened.  The extreme drama is showcased by the low key objective writing style.  The author has gathered, and presents documentation from various sources to excellent effect.  He has, in fact, made that documentation an integral part of the story he is telling.  This is more than another incident in the history of terrorism, because it shows the first time the British SAS became, essentially public figures, and in their success, viewed live around the world, popular heroes, as well. 


Mr.  Mather provided an adequate and professional narration.  Though he used expression fairly well, and though his pronunciation was excellent, I was slightly put off by his narrating style for reasons I can’t quite pin down.  However, that in no way distracted me from this book.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.

A Novel of Manners with a Modernperspective

He Taught Me to Hope: Darcy and the Young Knight’s Quest (Unabridged)

Author: P. O. Dixon Date: 2013 Narrator: Pearl Hewitt Provider: P. O. Dixon Running Time: 8 h 34 min Audible Enhanced Audio What if Elizabeth is promised to another when she meets Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the one man who captures her heart and imagination like no other? What’s more, Darcy has an entanglement of his own–an engagement of a peculiar kind. As dire as their chance for “happily ever after” seems, there is a measure of hope by way of a strong and enduring bond between them … The legend of King Arthur meets the timelessness of Miss Jane Austen’s endearing works in this delightfully entertaining Pride and Prejudice adaptation that takes you back to a magical time of enchantment and romance and lets you fall in love with Darcy and Elizabeth once again


Over the past few years, I have noticed a number of “fan fiction” works inspired by the brilliant prose of Jane Austin, particularly her Pride And Prejudice.  I have been curious to see whether modern writers could approach her writing skill, and just how modern writers would manage novels of manners.  While I won’t be visiting this sub-genre much, this book was well written, and retained much of the grace of the original.  One thing that I did find interesting, and even endearing was that, even though this story is told from a more modern perspective, it was true to the nature of 19th century novels, in that it was never quite explicit, while still managing to present intimacy, mostly through implication and innuendo.


The story itself is well told, and kept my interest throughout the book.  This was due, in no small part, to very good character development and presentation, especially of the main characters.  True, many of the young ladies reminded me of chattering sparrows, and reading about them was more tolerable than having to associate with them (just), but they flitted in and out of the main story so didn’t distract.


Such novels are a pleasant change from time to time, just as are occasional afternoons spent in ornate tea rooms, enjoying a full English tea with friends.


The narrator provided a professional narration in all ways, although some of the “sparrows” tended to be indistinguishable.


I received this book in exchange for this unbiased review from Audiobookblast dot com.