Friday 23 December 2011

The Scars by William Tennant

Official Blurb

Peter Everett is a man stained with grief, his life becomes a struggle of decisions as he watches the lives of the people around him dissolve and burn.

Mags Donne is a damaged, bruised young girl, reaching out into the darkness, trying to take control of her life.

Their Scars are what begin to unite them, with the people that surround them.

The Scars is a novel of difficulty, hatred, love, intrigue, kidnap, wrongdoing, abuse, laughter and beauty.

My Review

This is a thriller/soap style book with high drama at its core. To be honest I was not sure I was going to enjoy it and only tried it as a punt in the dark.

I am very glad I did try it. The reader has a delicious voice that is like lovely sweet treacle and it was his voice that kept me downloading the chapters.

The story starts out like a love story, and rapidly turns to tragedy that turns a knife in your gut. Part of this is the story itself, and part the fact that the reader has a way of presenting that pain so that you can almost feel it.

The middle section of book started to feel a bit soap-like while I was listening and I thought the author had lost his way for a while but as the story neared its climax I realised just how he had set me up! Nothing was wasted, nothing was "filler".

In summary, this was a tremendous book, and I heartily recommend it, although the subject matter is not safe for work.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9

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Listen to the first part
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Thursday 15 December 2011

Mr Dead Eyes by Roberto Scarlato

Official Blurb

Strange things happen when the lights go down in the shady setting of the Roseville Hospital. Unexplained sightings of a man resembling that of a doctor is known to walk the hallways in search of patients he has yet to help. His name was Derek R. Schillar, M.D. He was a complicated man with a desire to help people, but felt that he didn't do enough. Now, his friend has betrayed him, his wife thinks he's dead, a mysterious detective is on his trail, and the medical staff is perplexed at the growing number of inexplicable miraculous phenomena occurring within the hospital walls. Is there an answer? Why is a dying boy drawing pictures of this man? And just who is Mr. Dead Eyes?

My Review

Set in a modern hospital, we have some very strange and un-medical things are going on! The official blurb above gives you a pretty good idea of how weird these things get.

When I started listening I really had no idea what to expect. If anything I thought it was going to be a horror piece, but what a I got was part thriller, part speculative fiction, part super hero, and part detective, as real mashup.

In the end this mash up worked for me. I like things a little unusual and this story has it in spades.

I loved the protagonist and his family and learnt to hate the bad guys. The author is reading his own work and did a great job, although I think the intro which seems to suggest a nasty Horror, was overplayed a little.

If you want a dark story which probes the mysterious this is for you.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Listen to the first part
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Monday 14 November 2011

Guardians by A. S. Frye

Official Blurb

Guardians is set in the near future and follows the life of a young girl, Kathy, who suffers a head injury which gives her some amazing psychic abilities, and then, through various extraordinary circumstances, ends up in a small town near Roswell, New Mexico. Along the way, she joins up with Megan, another psychic who is also being drawn to that same town.

When they arrive, Kathy is abducted by a UFO and after some alien technological wizardry, she gives birth to a hybrid baby. In the meantime, the aliens are surprised at how strong the psychic force is in some humans and fear that this power could destroy them, so they use the hybrid baby in a plot to wipe out the entire human race before anyone discovers they are here. Kathy dares to resist them and fights to save her hybrid child.

But in the end, it is the child, himself—half alien / half human—who will determine which race will live, and which will die.

My Review

If I was afraid of including any spoilers in my review, I need not worry, as the offical blurb has out-spoilered anything I ever included in a review!

I found this a very interesting book. Even when you know the plot up front the characters themselves are very attractive and the twists and turns in the story itself keep everything fresh so that you are always wondering what's coming up.

The plot revolves around a group of people with strange occult powers that come together and fight an alien influence. That summary is honey to this particular Bee! I was hooked after a couple of chapters. It also took me that long to get used to the reader who has his own style of pacing. Once I settled into his pace or reading I found it very graceful.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Listen to the first part
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Saturday 12 November 2011

Anon Time by Craig Robertson

Official Blurb

What if you weren't who you thought you were, what others saw you to be? What if the structure of time depended on you to keep it steady. What if unseen forces, both good and evil, surrounded you, effecting your life in way's you could not begin to imagine? Well, if that were the case, you'd be Mark De Martel, unobtrusive advertising agent in Los Angeles. Or would you? Possibly you were a Mark, but possibly you would be a powerful warrior, using skills such as the manipulation of gravity itself to save existence.

The answer can be found by listening to Anon Time. It is a science fiction formatted novel with philosophical and spiritual underpinnings guaranteed to whisk you on an adventure of wondrous scope and amazing clarity. Treat yourself to this fantastic story, trust us, you deserve it.

My Review

This was a pretty good story. A man discovers that he's not who he thought he was, or even WHAT he thought he was. As soon as the discovery is made is he finds himself embroiled in a battle across time and space against the great enemy of humanity.

I've said it's a pretty good story, and it is, I really enjoyed it. Yet, I have "But" to add. After it was over I felt that the big-bad was a bit of whiner, that is he seemed more like a spoiled child rather than a terrible enemy to be feared.

Now that I've written that, I fear I may have overstated it. The book was good. It was a fun sci fi story that kept me thrilled and interested right to the end, and yes there may have even been a tear in my eye.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Listen to the first part
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Saturday 8 October 2011

Marco and the Red Granny by Mur Lafferty

Official Blurb

By bringing back the patronage system, a new alien species has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, and Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate other senses than simply sight. When someone asks a starlet, “Who are you wearing?” she could as easily say “J.K. Rowling” as she could “Gucci.”

Every creative person in the world wishes for a patronage. It’s quite competitive.

Marco wanted one, once. But then his girlfriend got one and shuttled off to Mollywood for fame and fortune, and Marco stayed home, waiting for his own patron. After several years, he gave up entirely. His career faltered. His agent dumped him. And then, one morning, he gets a call. At last he has a patron, at last the aliens want him. But he’s about to find out that an artistic patronage isn’t what it was in the good old days, and that the only friend he’s made, a tiny old woman who’s the star of a blood sports reality series called The Most Dangerous Game, has secrets of her own.

My Review

I had no idea if I was going to enjoy book, it was a punt in the dark! The title kind of put me off, it sounded a bit ... dumb. When you read the blurb it is quite clearly a sci fi story but the last line of the blurb makes it sound like a kids book (remember "Super Gran"?). I just didn't know what to expect.

All that confusion wafted away once I started listening, it was a character driven play in a sci fi story. It's not a high action story, although there are battles to the death in an arena on the moon!

The story is fundamentally a 50's or 60's style one-trick story. In a way it reminded me of [SPOILER AHEAD] "Star Surgeon" where there's a massive plague that in the end is beaten by simply smoking cigarettes. This story has that kind of feel.

I enjoyed the story well enough, but I feel like it's a lost opportunity. If your reading this Mur, I think you need to rename it, and swap out the granny. It seems you were trying to write a satirical piece, but there is no humour in the story, it's a character-play-adventure. Kill the granny and insert an ex-Marine in her stead. (Or tell me to shut-up!)

The production suffers a little, the theme music levels seem at odds with the voice over narration, I had adjust volume every time the theme came up.

Reading 2/3
Production 1/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 5/9

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Listen to the first part

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Saturday 17 September 2011

Cheating, Death by Teel McClanahan III

Official Blurb

When the walking dead fill the streets, who can cheat death? Who can survive?

Featuring a zombie outbreak that devastates Denver, an indecisive adulterer, and a series of violent, disturbing, and perhaps even heart-rending events of the sort you'd expect when the dead rise up to eat the living, Cheating, Death is a roller-coaster ride through a horror show both of death and of the heart.

My Review

I fancied a bit of horror fiction and this book jumped out at me. Can't go wrong with zombies.

The story mostly follows a family man living in Denver when a sudden outbreak of zombism goes manic. Zombies in this story are the shuffling sort that can infect you with a bite. If you get bitten you catch the virus, and will "turn" within a few hours.

The characters in this story all know about zombies from the movies, but with a twist. They are not just fictional to these characters, they all start knowing zombies exist as a fact, not just the fiction. I loved how within the story people have been misled by the movies into what they should do, just how our minds are misled by various things in the media we watch.

Although I kept listening and wanted to hear how it ended I didn't like the lead character at all. He was a bit of a whiner, and worse he was a bit of a loser. He certainly wasn't the sort of person I would aspire to be and that put me off a bit.

There was no real story arc, but rather a series of events that overwhelmed the characters.

To summarise, the horror of the story kept me listening and the reader (who sounds a little like Tracey Hickman) did a splendid job, but I warn you not to expect high adventure from the story.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

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Listen to the first part

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Friday 16 September 2011

Spirit Blade by Paeter Frandsen

Official Blurb

In a future where the government mandates the spiritual beliefs of its citizens, only a few rebellious "Seekers of Truth" remain to free the world from deception.

On his quest for meaning, Merikk follows a path that leads him across our world, and into another. Against his will he is thrown into action alongside members of the Underground Liberation, standing face to face against forces human, alien and demonic. Science fiction and the supernatural collide in a genre-bending adventure! Open your mind and then brace for impact as you discover the power of the Spirit Blade!

My Review

This is a high action story with a message.

As the blurb says, it's in the future, but not too far and the major aspect of the future outlined here, is that any religion claiming to the "only way" is outlawed. Bibles, Torah, Quoran are all banned and followers of the old faiths are ostracised and driven underground. The new religion is where "everyone is right".

I found this background highly interesting. As a Christian I can see a movement like that described starting to appear in today's world, and this story may well represent a possible future. The protagonists in this story are an underground movement that is nothing less than a group of Christians.

I opened this by stating that the story is high action, and the previous two paragraphs may have you questioning that, do not be misled. The action includes a lot of cinematic fight scenes, people leaping out of windows, gun fights, sword fights versus demons, and a dramatic pace that had me captivated.

There were a couple of moments that I thought were getting "preachy", but after due consideration I'm willing to admit they were really just advancing the character motivations so I'm not going to let that effect my rating.

The narration was sound, although a few of the "voices" sounded a bit samey. It's full of background music and sound effects that really make this book a stand-out example of how to do a good audio book.

Reading 2/3
Production 3/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

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Listen to the first part

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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Harvey by Phil Rossi

Official Blurb

Television singing sensation Calvin Hubbard has been caught with his hand in cookie jar. An illicit affair with a contest judge costs him not only the competition crown, but his musical credibility as well. Fleeing the media fallout, Calvin exiles himself to the backwoods town of Harvey, Virginia. With a little solitude and a lot of cheap beer, he plans to write the next great rock and roll album and resurrect his career. But Calvin doesn't know that a man has just been buried alive in the woods outside of town, and that this quiet murder is just the first in a string of macabre events. As the town goes silently mad around him, Calvin is unable to abandon the record of his dreams. Drunk on inspiration and blinded by an inexplicable lust, he careens headlong into the maelstrom, only to discover that he may be the town's only salvation. Something is alive in the trees—an ageless, nameless evil—and it's coming for everyone in Harvey. Now Calvin has to decide whether to run or to stay and fight… if it isn’t already too late.

My Review

This is not the first Phil Rossi story I've listened to, and I've loved all of his other books. I liked this one, didn't love it, just liked it.

The blurb tells you everything you need to know about the story itself. What it doesn't tell you is that the characters created are very real and it's easy to relate to them and that helps to draw you into the story. He's got some really nasty characters in there and some loveable ones and I felt interested in all of their individual stories, so every time the POV changed I happy to follow along.

I've said that I liked this story, and I did, but I did not love it, so let me tell you why. Some weird stuff happens in this story, weird and scary, but I never felt it was sufficiently explained. Also I felt the ending was too easy for the good guys, I felt like they didn't have to work too hard to get to where they got. That was only a minor disappointment.

Phil reads his own work, and has a voice to-die-for, perfect for this kind of dark material, I could listen to him all day.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

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Listen to the first part

Thursday 8 September 2011

Act of Will by M. Darusha Wehm

Official Blurb


Andersson Dexter is a new man, still living his old life.

Part vigilante, part private eye, part cop, Dex is muddling his way through his day job as a faceless customer service rep for a giant firm, while solving routine cases in his off hours. But when a gruesomely mutilated corpse is found, things heat up for Dex and the underground organization he calls the Cubicle Men.

Soon, Dex finds himself racing against the clock to find a killer who seems to be determined to strike him close to home.

In a grim future where people live and work in crowded, utilitarian cities, but escape to an online virtual world, Act of Will explores the capacity we have to choose the directions our lives will take, and the consequences of those choices.

My Review

This is the third audio book by this author that I've listened to and the second starring Dex, the part time detective.

The world the book is set in is very interesting.  In the not too distant future when the "everywhere-net" is ...everywhere, and everyone is on it, enjoying themselves and escaping the drudgery of real live in the virtual world.  In the last book the mystery was revolving around the death of a virtual character, this one is set in the real world, and a serial killer is doing their thing.

The author does an outstanding job of reading in this case.  After listening to two previous books read by the same author, I judge that she has hit her narrating sweet spot in this book.

The characters are once again as interesting as the plot and that plot is very interesting.  As the plot evolves the world is expanded and the characters grow in a way that is very appealing.  This is not a rip-roaring adventure full of high action, it's a slow burner that builds some excellent tension before reaching the very climatic ending.


Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 7/9

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Listen to the first part





Monday 5 September 2011

3 Dooms of America by Eugene Fairfield

Official Blurb

"Prophecy is not a prediction of tomorrow. It is a description of the doom contained within today."

Three stories of the end of American society, from one Tuesday, the 11th of September into the near future.

Shock & Awe: "At the end of this story, a baby will be born, and touch off an insurrection. Before that, a woman makes breakfast."

The Greening of Blue England: "It took three-quarters of a ton of plastique to get rid of all the box stores in Taft Corners."

Spider's Dreams: "The rose is still unfolding, a thousand petals and every one scribed with tragedy, with enough grief to end the world."

My Review

Another book I did not like, nor did I finish listening. The first Dooms was written in a strange style; the writer broke the fourth wall to tell us about his story, which ruined it for me. I felt that the story was okay but the distraction was constant and got-my-goat!

Alas I was but half way through the second story when I ceased listening. I can't tell you the second story was badly written, what I heard of it was fine. Frankly I was still feeling grumpy after the first story and just gave up.

Therefore I don't think I can fairly give it a rating.

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Listen to the first part

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Friday 2 September 2011

A Coffee Crusade by Theodore Isaac Erski

Official Blurb

Bridget Hall is a driven & successful entrepreneur running a non-profit company named the Coffee Exchange Alliance. She’s working to establish a fair-trade business presence on the Caribbean island of Salavandra, but must overcome the corrupt Minister of Agriculture, Rafael Gallegos, who profits by marginalizing the island’s farmers and smuggling their coffee to Jamaica. Bridget tackles personal & professional challenges on Salavandra that ultimately shake her belief in the choices she’s made in life as well as in her self-appointed role as savior of the island’s coffee farmers.

My Review

Let me start by saying this is not a book I can recommend. It's well written and very well produced.

This is a thriller that thrills.  It has likeable protagonists who you can easily like and you'll want to follow their exploits.  It's got "driven" people, people on a mission, very good bad guys, and lots of likeable people in between.  As I said it's very well put together and I really enjoyed listening to it until the end of the last chapter.

So what was wrong with it. Simply put, the ending.

It's like half a book.  The plot of the story does not end or even reach a good climax. It simply stops at a point where the plot is on a downer.  This left me with a real bad taste in my mouth.


Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

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 Listen to the first part
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Thursday 1 September 2011

Eternity by Casey S Townsend

Official Blurb

 The world you know has changed. Science has been replaced by dark, supernatural forces and those that know how have harnessed them to control the world. You no longer have the right to believe what you want. You do not have the right to choose the kind of life you will live. But you have a choice: you can surrender and live in fear, or you can join the resistance. As part of Red Horizon, a quickly-growing resistance movement, Gibson Craig has devoted his life to opposing these dictators. But he is not the only one. There are numerous rebel factions hidden underground, as much at war with each other as they are with the government, but in the struggle for freedom, they must unite or be crushed. As they move closer, events spin into motion the most epic of battles the United States, and the world, has ever seen.


My Review

This story is set in the future within a couple of hundred years of today. As the blurb says, it's set in a very different United States, one that's a horrid religious oppressive nightmare. It' s not any religion you've heard of, it's been invented for the purposes of the story. The authoritarian regime is being fought by bands of rebels, rebels that have in fact taken over entire cities. This means that the government are fighting an open rebellion. The story starts with action and really doesn't let up, until it explodes through the really exciting finale. There are bad guys, gun fights, out right war and monsters, lots of monsters summoned up by magic. It's a very chaotic scene. There were a couple of points in the story that jolted me out of the story, such as references to real people you'll have heard of. I really enjoyed the story, it was fast paced, full of excitement and a real joy. I hope there is a sequel soon.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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 Listen to the first part

Friday 26 August 2011

Ida by Tim Callahan

Official Blurb
Ida, one of the largest Asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, has finally been colonized. A group of engineers lead by John McVey, Craig Osborn, Gail Trabor, Andrew Dee and Jennifer McGee, occupy the largest space station every built to plan the future of the tiny colony. Sent there by Kennedy Lacombe, the richest man in the world, their only task is to find ways to mine the asteroid as efficiently as possible. John, however, has grandiose plans including riding a comet around the sun to obtain enough water for the colony to one day survive independent from Earth. His ambition quickly shifts when he discovers an accident with the station's birth control pills causes 20 women, including Jennifer, the woman he loves, to become pregnant. The rules on pregnancy are simple; a baby is a drain on resources and must be removed. John, his friends, and a large group of miners will do anything they can to prevent that, including declaring themselves the first independent colony outside of Earth.
My Review
This was one of Tim Callahan's first audio books.  He's since gone on to create and publish the "Arwen" series of books over at Podiobooks.  This book it not a part of the Arwen series, although it could conceivably belong in the same universe many many years before the Arwen.

I was given one of those "oh" moments when listening to this book.  I was a few chapters in when I realised that the sci fi part of the book is almost incidental to the human story at it's core. The characters are the focus here, Tim does not waste a lot of prose telling us about the working of some "flux capacitor" but focuses on people, what they think, what they feel and what they do when driven by those emotions.

That said, the last couple of chapters do hot up with non stop action. I really enjoyed this one, the characters felt real, they made mistakes and made choices that I could relate to.  The sci fi future described was interesting, worrying, and believable.

There were a few repeated lines in there, but no more than five or six spread out across the whole book and really didn't spoil my enjoyment.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Listen to the first part

Saturday 20 August 2011

Enemy Lines by John Mierau

Official Blurb

In the near future, an alliance forged by powerful men will challenge the US government for control of secret technology. As their machinations gear up, the true owners of that technology will face a challenge of their own, deep in the asteroid belt. At stake? The future of the human race. ENEMY LINES is a science fiction adventure about conspiracies, spies...and aliens... in a future where the lines aren’t as clear as you think.

My Review

This is a near future science fiction book that takes place when humanity has just started mining asteroids. If you've ever wondered about the "Greys" of the popular UFO memes then this story will explain everything.

What if aliens were giving mankind a technological lift. What if someone didn't want you to know that. What if someone didn't want it happening at all. What if the only hope for mankind's survival was a criminal, or a man who's emotionally on the edge?

That's a lot of what-ifs! Well them and a lot more are included in this fantastic story. I absolutely loved it. A good dose of what I call "proper sci fi". If you like a tense story that will keep you guessing and thrilled by action all at the same time, then this is a book for you.

The reader is excellent and fits the pace and tone of the story very well. there are a couple of repeated lines and a couple of clipped sentences but that's all there is to mar this otherwise excellent audio book.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

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Listen to the first part
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Saturday 23 July 2011

Self Made by M. Darusha Wehm

Official Blurb

Ever wish things were different?

Ivy Velasquez did, so she became someone else. In the 3D virtual world Marionette City, you can be anything you want — but everyone still knows who you are. Driven by her desire for a new life, Ivy takes her future in her hands when she makes another identity for herself. A brilliant designer, Ivy works for one of the huge firms which control the online system the world relies upon for both business and pleasure. But one day, Ivy discovers that her alternate self, Reuben Cobalt, had been murdered.

Since alternate identities are forbidden by the firms which control access to the nets and to M City, Ivy has nowhere to turn — until she finds Andersson Dexter. Part private eye, part vigilante and part cop, Dex sets out to uncover Reuben’s killer. Since the firms control almost every aspect of life, including law and order, justice for average people comes only at the hands of the outlaw organization to which Dex belongs.

Self Made is a murder mystery set in a vision of a future that seems to lurk just over the horizon. But above all, it is a story of how people strive to control their own destinies, and how that desire affects them and the people around them in ways they could never imagine.

My Review

The blurb basicly tells you all you need to know about the story itself,yet...

In the near-ish future everyone still has jobs but also has a life on the "nets". This second life is played out using avatars in a virtual city and everything that can happen in real life seems to also happen in this virtual world, plus a lot more. People apparently spend so much time in the virtual worlds that real life existence is considered secondary. So secondary in fact, that most people survive on food bricks and tasteless drinks. Why spend money or time on real food, when you can have sumptuous feasts for hours in the virtual world for free.

This novel not only investigates the crime that is its plat but also gives us a peek into what the world might be like if virtual reality ( including taste/sounds/feel ) takes off and becomes ... well, a reality.

This is not the authors first novel. I've reviewed the previous novel, "Beautiful Red" a while ago. In Beautiful Red the "nets" were everywhere but poeple were not living in them, so this novel appears to be the same world, but just a little further into the future. This novel has a sequel ( a different story, some of the same characters), so if you like it, you'll be able to have more of the same.

The author is reading her own work here and does a good job, the audio quality seems to have stepped up a notch from her previous work.

In summary, I found the story, interesting and engaging, a good listen.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Listen to the first part

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Thursday 21 July 2011

The Gearheart: Maiden Flight of the Avenger by Alex White

Official Blurb

Agent Augustus Elsworth is a Seeker of the Arcane Unknown, mechanic, pilot and thief... or so he believes. When he is caught trying to steal a magic artifact from the ruthless mobster Charles Patrick, he is offered a choice: buy it outright, or forget about his mission. In order to win the money, the young mechanic decides to enter the Cliffside Aeroprix, the most dangerous air race in the world. Can Augustus win the race, or even survive it?

My Review

This is a novella set in the Gearheart universe, as used in the "Gearheart" podiobook which I reviewed a little while ago. I believe this novella is a prequel to that book. Just as with Gearheart, this story is action packed with action, magic and super science.

We get an insight into "the Seekers" a secret organisation that protects humanity from the dangers of magic and alchemy.

It's a thrilling adventure, involving air races, magical attacks, plenty of gunfire and organised crime. It was great to hear these characters again, and I hope there is more to come

It's a great listen, I only wish I listened to it before hearing "Gearheart"

Reading 3/3
Production 3/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 8/9

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Listen to the first part

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Wednesday 13 July 2011

Cybrosis by P.C. Haring

Official Blurb

For Agent Ciris, the mission should have been simple: get in, apprehend the target, get out. But when the simple snatch and grab goes horribly awry, the worlds first cyborg finds herself backed into a corner. At odds with her superiors, she becomes embroiled in two conspiracies — one intended to destroy her with a cybernetic virus that will neutralize the technology that keeps her alive, the other intended to keep hidden the untold secrets of her origin. With the walls closing in around her, Ciris becomes a rogue agent with no one to trust and only one objective — unravel the shrouds of secrecy before time runs out

My Review

This story was a trip, a good trip. It was Sci Fi goodness through and through. There are lots of action scenes, high speed chases, computer hacking, uplinks, cyborgs, power guns, back stabs and great narration.

The official blurb gives you the details of the story and my summary above tells you what's in there, if any of that appeals to you, you should be downloading by now!

I can also report that the character development is good, the pacing excellent and the multi voice narration excellent.

Reading 3/3
Production 3/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 9/9

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Listen to the first part

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Sunday 10 July 2011

Fighting the Flying Circus by Eddie Rickenbacker

Official Blurb

This is the WWI memoirs of Medal of Honor winner, Capt Eddie Rickenbacker. He fought in and eventually became commander of the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron, which ended the war with the highest number of air victories of any American squadron. The circus mentioned in the title refers to the German squadron commanded by the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen.

My Review

As a producer of audio books relating to WWI I was really interested in listening to this free offering from Librivox. I was not disappointed. As the description says its the memoirs of Captain Rickenbacker and it starts out with him joining up and having to fly hand-me-down aircraft that are really quite pitiful. These aircraft were not only slower and less manoeuvrable that the German aircraft they had a tendency for the wing covering to peel off in flight!

It's quite a fascinating listen. Rickenbacker is not a natural pilot ace, as you follow his story you'll hear him working on his tactics trying to work out how to defeat the enemy. he has to keep learning as his squadron keeps getting new missions. They attack enemy fighters, then bombers, strafe the ground and even take on observation balloons.

Later they get better planes and the tables are turned, and they even come up against the famous ace pilots of Flying Circus mentioned in the title.

If you have interest in WWI, then this is a natural for you to download, and I reccomend that you do.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Dreams and Wings (A Searcher and Stallion story) by Scott Howard

Official Blurb

One Man, One Machine, One Destiny.

Searcher awoke, alone on a laboratory table, with an ageless body and no knowledge of his past in a post apocalyptic world. Now in his exoskel, a powered suit of armor, he roams the galaxy with his robotic companion Stallion, seeking clues about his unknown origins. Meanwhile, His existence threatens to destroy balance among the ageless ones, a group of never dying humanoids that secretly run all aspects of human society in the shadows of the surviving colony worlds. Is the Searcher the key to humanity's salvation.....or its final destruction......

My Review

I was really impressed with the production in this short story. It's an enhanced reading. The narrator has a cast of actors providing the voices and a whole lot of sound effects and music to back him up and it's very well put together.

It's a gripping story that had me hooked from the beginning.

As the blurb states a man with no memory wakes up on an abandoned lab table and the trouble just get worse and worse. It's got a good hook and a fantastic driving narrative. In short it's great!

Unfortunately it's just enough to get you interested and hooked and nothing more. It's not a complete story just the opening scenes. I was sooo disappointed! I wanted to hear the whole novel not just this little tease. Oh well. If you're a rabid sci fi fan like me you'll love it, but want MORE!

Reading 3/3
Production 3/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 7/9

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Listen to the first part

Wednesday 29 June 2011

This World Is Taboo by Murray Leinster

Official Blurb

Calhoun is an Interstellar Medical Serviceman, and he's needed on Dara. Trouble is: Dara is forbidden. Taboo. And breaking quarantine will make Calhoun a presumed plague-carrier and subject to being shot on sight by anyone from Weald. But hey! If he did the smart thing, we wouldn't have a story! But why are men from Dara shooting at him?

My Review

This is a classic Sci Fi story and it's a good one. The protagonist is the typical hero, no a muscle bound hero, but one that works with his mind. The story starts with him arriving for a very late appointment at the planet Weald. But instead of being welcomed, he's immediately questioned about who what and where he's been. This is the opening of a story that presents the hero with a desperate situation where his very life is in peril, but his duty will not allow him to step away.

I really enjoyed the story and Marks reading was a real joy. He brought the characters to life and made the whole book a project he should be proud of.

If your a fan of classic sci fi stories then is one you should definitely download.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 9/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

Thursday 16 June 2011

The Mad Planet by Murray Leinster

Official Blurb

It is 30,000 years following dramatically changed climate conditions on earth which had let massive amounts of carbon dioxide belch from the interior of the planet into the atmosphere. Over the millenia this would have quite devastating effects on life as it had once been known. Much of the human and animal population would not survive the climate change, and indeed those few humans who did survive knew nothing of all which their predecessors had learned and built. Indeed, they knew not even of their existence. On the other hand insects and fungi would flourish over time.

And so those few remaining humans were unknowingly at the very beginning of the building of a tribal society, which at the time of the story of Burl simply meant food and survival. And so it was Burl who chose to travel beyond his small tribal community in an effort to hunt for something new and different to hopefully impress Saya, the young female of his tribe to whom he felt a peculiar attraction. The Mad Planet is Burl's adventure.

My Review

The world of our protagonist is quite frankly revolting, full of insects and fungus and not a lot else. The sky is always dark, the hunt for food is constant and death near at hand in a myriad of forms.

The hero of the piece is ripped away from his home by accident and then wanders back, and that's about as much as I can say about this story. Although nominally set in the future it's a dark ages story... hang on, story is too grand a word really. There's no plot to speak of. It's really a protagonist wandering along and looking at the world around him with a couple of minor life threatening hiccups thrown in.

I can not reccommend this book. I "just" managed to get through it, and kept hoping something, anything really, would happen, alas the plot never appeared. If the reader hadn't been as good as they were, I would have given up on it.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

Saturday 11 June 2011

The Dawn of a To-morrow by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Official Blurb

A wealthy London business man takes a room in a poor part of the city.

He is depressed and has decided to take his life by going the next day to purchase a hand gun he had seen in a pawnshop window. The morning comes with one of those 'memorable fogs' and the adventure he has in it alters his decisions and ultimately his life.

My Review

A break from my usual adventure and sci fi fair with this story. This time round it's a story of despair and hope! As the blurb says just about the whole story I'm not sure what I can add!

It's interesting to note however that the "fog" being talked about is not something I've experienced, but I remember my father telling me about the "pea soup" fogs of his youth. The smoke from coal fires used to literally make a foggy night so thick that it was like looking through pea soup. It's this kind of fog that is a turning point in the story. A man set of self destruction takes a misstep in the fog and has his life and world turned around.

Ultimately it's a moral story, no high adventure, just a step by step progression from despair to enlightenment.

All in all I enjoyed the story and the reader was pretty good too!

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9


Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Saturday 28 May 2011

The Gearheart by Alex White

The Blurb

Jonathan Andrews, Initiate in the Seekers of the Arcane Unknown, joined the society two years ago with the hopes of protecting the secrets of magic from the greedy world beyond. However, a ravening shadow appears with a hunger for Seekers and Jonathan finds himself out of his depth. When Jonathan's friend is attacked and the young initiate is assailed with apocalyptic visions of the future, he must find a way to uncover the past and stop the beast before it tears his group, and the world, asunder. It's a ripping tale of magic, adventure and gunfights!

My Review

I found this book at Podiobooks when by chance I decided to take a look at the "Steampunk" category, it was the only book listed, so I decided to give it a go. As it turns out I'm not sure it qualifies as what I'd call steampunk, but it does qualify as a darn good book!

So what's under the covers? Well it's set in the our world , modern day, but with magic under the covers, known about by only be a select few. The protagonist is a new member of this group, an "Initiate". The book opens with the initiate on a mission to retrieve a magical relic from the hands of organised crime. Bullets, swords, magical blasts and car chases follow in rapid succession, a rip roaring start.

At this point I thought we'd be following this little crew on a new important mission or something along those lines. No. Instead we find a magical villain set on destroying the world and quite capable of actually doing it. The "Seekers", pitched as the good guys, turn out to not be all they promised.

I'm afraid to give too much away as I'll spoil the plot, but let me just say, magic, guns, swords, prophecy, robots, monsters and doomsday weapons. Wet your appetite?

Reading 2/3
Production 3/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

Friday 13 May 2011

Skylark Three by E.E. Smith

Official Blurb

This is a sequel to The Skylark of Space. The novel concerns Richard Seaton and his allies who have encounters with aliens while fighting DuQuesne and the Fenachrone.

My Review

This is a classic Sci Fi story from a classic author. It contains super science, space battles, aliens everything I like. Except I didn't like it.

Why? I think it went on a bit. Some chapters felt like they were inserted just to fill out space rather then advance the plot! There was quite a bit of blathering on about learning new science and going for a swim being necessary when working. What?!

Other than these down bits the action was rather good when it got going. Slicing ships up, smashing them with torpedoes, traveling faster than light into combat and even a ticking time bomb of dread - when will the bad guys arrive.

Yet in the end I was glad when it ended.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Sunday 1 May 2011

The Dambusters

Official Blurb

Taylor played pilot David Shannon in this dramatization of Paul Brickhill's best-selling novel about World War II. The documentary series focused on the 617 Dambusting Squadron and is full of air force adventure. There were 26 half-hour episodes, and the cast also featured Charles "Bud" Tingwell
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16/17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", using a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis. The MÃhne and Edersee Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley, while the Sorpe dam sustained only minor damage.All 26 episodes in excellent condition.

My Review

As you may have gathered from the blurb this review is not an audio book in the usual manner. It is in fact an old radio dramatisation of a book. I'm sure you've heard of the Dam Busters and the bouncing bomb designed by Barnes Wallace, this serial is not about that! It does include the bomb and the raids but that's done and dusted by episode 7 of this 26 episode series.

This drama follows the famous 617 squadron from its creation through to the end of the war. They did much more than the Dam raids, much more. After the Dam raids 617 was designated as a specialist unit. They were trained for pin point accuracy with other special bombs designed by Barnes Wallace. These included the "Tall Boy" and 10 ton monster bomb called the Grand Slam.

The most amazing trick they pulled off was being a deliberately mistaken for an allied invasion flotilla!

This old time radio drama is not cursed with too much hiss and crackle and is a real gem for drama fans.

Reading 2/3
Production 3/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

Download it from the Internet Archive

Listen to the first part

Sunday 17 April 2011

Fourteen Months in American Bastiles by Francis Key Howard

Official Blurb

Francis Key Howard recounts in this book his life as a political prisoner of the United States. He points out that he was held captive at the same location where his grandfather was inspired to write the national anthem about the "land of the free," which makes a very stunning contrast. The sufferings that were imposed on him by the Union forces had the effect of solidifying his determination to resist unjust governmental dictates.

My Review

I though this was going to be a military history when it turned on on my radar, but turned out to be something a little different. It takes place during the American Civil war and features the events surround a newspaper man who finds himself arrested as a political prisoner.

As the author states he held the opinion that a war with the south would only leads to two nations and for this he was arrested, taken from his home and imprisoned with military prisoners, without trial or any recourse whatsoever.

The book is half memoir with the other half being made up letters sent and received by the author while in prison.

It's a quite fascinating read/listen for anyone with interest in the civil war. there have been many books written about the war but very few seem to deal with the prisons so this is quite a gem.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

Sunday 3 April 2011

Asteroid of Fear by Raymond Z. Gallun

Official Blurb

John Endlich needed to clean up his act. Gambling, drinking, a hot temper and wanderlust were the last things Rose and the kids needed. So he went to the Homesteaders Office and signed up to terraform Vesta, a chunk of a once thriving alien planet that had exploded from within; a flat lump of crust which was now the remains of a farm on one side and a mining operation on the other. The miners hated Endlich and sabotaged his plans at every opportunity. They were going to kill him and his family if he didn’t find a way to stop them.

Written by :

My Review

When I settled down to write this review it occurred to me that this was a western story set in space. The protagonist is a homesteader in the back of beyond and the "indians" are played by the miners.

Apart from that, the story is pure sci fi. It's set on an alien world that includes a dead ancient civilisation. People flit about in space ships and shoot "blasters" so it has all of the good sci fi stuff.

What it boils down to in the end is 80-90 minutes of classic sci fi story, a man with a history trys to settle a barren land and defend his family and his home from a bunch of bully boys that are armed to the teeth!

Add to that, the story being read by Gregg Margarite and you have a recipe for a great listen. Highly recommended.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

Sunday 27 March 2011

The Silent Bullet by Arthur B. Reeve

Official Blurb

The many adventures of Professor Craig Kennedy were chronicled by Arthur B. Reeve (October 15, 1880 - August 9, 1936). Reeve was an American mystery writer who created 82 Craig Kennedy mystery stories. The stories have a very Sherlock Holmes type feel, In fact Kennedy has been referred to as the "American Shelock Holmes". Along with his reporter friend, Walter Jameson, Kennedy solves many crimes and unveils mysteries using science.

Each story features a facinating look at life in the early 20th century, and even includes some action along the way.

My Review

I'm really not sure what to say about this book! It's a collection of short stories about a Professor who is investigating crimes. As the blurb suggests the character is a Sherlock Holmes clone. He does perhaps rely more on forensic science rather than deductive reasoning, but the differene is only marginal.

Simply put, if you like Sherlock Holmes, I think this will be right up your alley. I'm a Sherlock fan and really did like this audio book. The stories are varied as they should be in such a collection but all revolve around the solving of a crime.

The reader is pretty good. He gives the lead character a very nasal voice. I thjought that an odd choice at first, but in the end it makes the story all the more clear for its distinctiveness. A pretty good job.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9


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Listen to the first part

Friday 25 March 2011

Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph

Official Blurb

There’s trouble on CMC-6 and it’s been brewing for a long time. The golden age of space travel and asteroid mining has ended almost before it began and the bean counters have taken over. Sally Buds’ patients are all suffering from low-gravity syndrome because the Canadian Mining Consortium won’t spring for gravity generators and the miners won’t exercise. On top of this the station might be facing hard times. An expensive mining robot disappeared while surveying a region of space known and KEL-30 or “Kelthy.” The problem was not in replacing the robot, but rather in the fact that the machine reappeared after the replacement had been ordered. How could the station personnel have been so incompetent? But Sally has another question. Where did the probe go when it was out of contact? Where did the strange rock samples come from and why did the images it saw not correspond with known star charts? Her new friend Ian Merryfield, an RAF shuttle pilot, wants to know, too. But the station commander does not. What is in the Kelthy region and why do things disappear there? Is it a hoax intended to scare away claim jumpers or is it the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century? Ian and Sally intend to find out even if it means risking their careers or even their lives. Not knowing would be worse.

My Review

This book is a prequel of sorts to Homesick which was the audiobook I last reviewed, so yes, I'd reviewing them in the wrong order!

I'm really wishing I'd discovered this book first as it takes some of the same characters from Homesick and includes discovering "the fold" which plays a major role in the second book of the trilogy. Now having said that, I'm not disapointed in the book. It does stand alone with a pretty good ending, but the ending clearly leaves an opening for "Homesick" as the sequel.

I enjoyed finding out more about the characters I'd come to know in Homesick, their origins if you will.

The plot of this book, is "thinner" than that of Homesick, but I'm pretty sure I would have still enjoyed it as much if I'd listened in the correct order.

The reader is very good ( its the author ) and has a smooth voice that really set sthe mood well. All in all, this book is worth a listen. I can't find the third or fourth books in the series at podiobooks as yet... I'll keep looking.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Homesick bu Paul J. Joseph

Official Blurb

The mission to New Ontario, is not going as planned. The first landing ends in disaster when the American astronaut, Scott Anderson, goes down alone and dissappears. Captain Sally Buds, Ian Merryfield, Vladamir Coronov must put aside their personal differences and attempt an umarmed rescue unsure of what awaits them below.

On the surface, they find only the remnants of a civilization. Buildings are rotting and the remains of human-like bodies are scattered around what may once have been streets. But the rescue trail leads them to a Nazi-style concentration camp populated with crowds of human cattle living in squalor. The camp has no walls or barbed wire, but no one is trying to escape. In fact, the workers are smiling. There among them is Scott Anderson. To rescue him, they must face an unspeakably cruel regime with no concept of mercy.

But this turns out to be only the beginning. The Masters have discovered vital information about Earth, its technology, and location. Will the same madness that consumed New Ontario ultimately engulf Earth? Sally and Ian must risk their lives to prevent it.

My Review

This is a facinating and engaging sci fi story. Having fininshed listening to it I only then discovered that it was in fact part two of a loosely linked series. I didn't realise this, and still really enjoyed the book.

The blurb above tells you all you need to know about the stories plot which I found quite enthralling. The UN spaceship is populated with interesting characters who are well put together form a superb story telling dynamic. This group is neither the perfectly fitting and friendly carboard cuit outs from Star Trek, nor some grotesque groups of misfits you'd find in a bad soap. They don't all get along, but their differences are reasonable and what you'd expect from a group of real people. Making the characters this "real" is what makes the story so good. Real people in extraordinary situations.

Throughout the story you get little tid-bits of Earths recent history and the way they are dropped during the story was really nice, it added depth to the environment withiout having to go off on an info dump.

If your a fan of sci-fi, download this book. I was glad I did. I'm now looking to download the prequel and sequel.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

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Sunday 13 March 2011

Unkillable by Patrick E. McLean

Official Blurb

Unkillable is the story of a young man who is cruelly murdered then brought back from the dead to revenge himself. The kicker is: He’s not really alive. He can be hurt, he just can’t be killed.

It’s dark and funny and sad and beautiful and violent and magical -- if it could be summed up with just a few words, there would have been no point in writing a novel.

Unkillable. Life sucks. Death blows. In between is worse.

My Review


I've been listening to this fairly short book as its been released and I have to say I really looked forward to each new release. It has been a real treat to listen to.

The story is darkly humourous. Well, when the protagonist is a dead guy, you know it's not your average story.

The lead character is just your average joe, thrown into a highly unlikely occult type situation. Not only does he get quickly and inexplicably killed he then gets taken advantage of too by the undead occult powers. This guy just does not get a break even when he thinks he has. That's where the humour comes in. The author has made his lead character self aware, that is, aware that where he is, is bizarre and strange, so he's able to look wryly at himself.

After listening to this story, I've learnt that being dead isn't all it's cracked up to be!

The reading is by the author who has done a top notch job, his voice brings the characters to life in a way that only author readings can. He has a soft subtle voice that fits the work just-right.

Well worth a listen.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9


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Listen to the first part

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Saturday 12 March 2011

Stand by for Mars by Carey Rockwell

Official Blurb

Tom Corbett - Space Cadet was one of the first multimedia sensations. In the 1950s the character had his own radio show, TV series, comic book, breakfast cereal, and a line of young-adult novels. A cross between "Tom Brown's School Days" and Horatio Hornblower (and loosely based upon Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Space Cadet"), the books follow the adventures of Tom and his friends Roger Manning and Astro as they work their way through Space Academy to become officers of the Solar Guard. Along the way they tangle with space pirates, smugglers, and the threat of demerits for breaking the rules.

My Review

This is a pure sci fi story in the true 1950's/60's tradition. Unlike many such stories, in this book the protagonists are not all super expert and good at everything. The characters in this story have their faults and don't all get along. This makes the story much more interesting.

The story follows the exploits of a group of young cadets as they work through training and even get sent on their first mission, which, of course in such boys-own stories does not go according to plan. As the blurb says they encounter all kinds of problems that need to be overcome.

It's got all of the great story elements of classic sci fi. Hero's, space ships, high tech and bad guys, and they're put together in a fun light story that will keep any sci fi happy.

Don't expect hard hitting gritty story here, it's light pop corn literature.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Saturday 5 March 2011

Bone Machines by John Dodds

Official Blurb

They suffer for his art...

When a number of women are reported missing in Glasgow, the spectre of a previous spate of unsolved disappearances in the city rears its head.

Journalist Ray Bissett is drawn into the case when his daughter joins the ranks of the missing. And ambitious police detective Tom Kendrick won't let Ray forget a terrible incident from his past which resulted in the death of a young boy.

Damaged lives and dark secrets...

The streets of Glasgow haunted by the ghosts of the missing...

And an artist driven by a deadly inspiration.

My Review

This is a mystery/crime story set in modern day Scotland. It's a dark tale that might well turn your stomach during some of its ... juicier... moments.

The story starts out following the various seperate characters in thier own lives and gently weaves them together as the mystery is presented.

From it's nasty opening to the final climax I was gripped by the stories exploration of mans inhumanity. As I listened I couldn't help but remember news stories of the past where such dispicable deeds were truely done. They are repeated here in story form, and its quite gut wrenching. That said, I have a weak stomach for this kind of thing. Pain slowly inclicted really gets to me.

The author reads his own work in this presentation and does a sterling job. I only have two critisms of the reading. The first is that he leaps from the end of a chapter straight into the podcast outro, without even a pause for breath which takes a little getting used to. The other, is one piece of editing when a missing sentence has been patched back into the flow, and it's obviously recorded with a different microphone or in another room. Neither of these problems should stop downloading this horrific story.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9


Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

p.s. Thanks to Mosse for mentioning this book, or I would have missed it!

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Operation Terror by Murray Leinster

Official Blurb

An unidentified space ship lands in a Colorado lake. Equipped with a paralyzing ray weapon, the creatures begin taking human prisoners. A loan land surveyor and a journalist are trapped inside the Army cordon, which is helpless against the mysterious enemy. Can they stop the aliens before it is too late?

My Review

This a classic Sci Fi story set on earth when aliens turn up with super weapons. As the blurb says, it actually follows the exploits of a few ordinary people caught up in the attack. The characters are pretty believable and I have to say I found the main protagonist to be my kind of guy. Driven by love yet honourably self deprecating makes for a character I'll cheer for.

The plot closely follows the protagonist as he has to look after himself and his friends while the aliens buld up their base of operations and send out patrols.

The book runs for just over five hours but it didn't seem like that long because the story was captivating and the reader Mark Nelson gave a brilliant delivery.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9


Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Monday 31 January 2011

Officer 666 by Barton Wood Currie and Augustin McHugh

Official Blurb

Bored with his life as a wealthy businessman's only son, Travers Gladwin learns of a plot by a renowned art burglar to rob his house, so rather than thwart the planned burglary, he borrows a police uniform from a friend and decides to confront the robber by posing as an officer. When the burglar arrives at the house, he tries to pass himself off as Travers Gladwin. From there, things only get more complicated, including the arrival of the burglar's girlfriend who believes that her beau is the wealthy man's son.

My Review

This is a comedic farce in the best tradition of such things. If you like P.G. Wodehouse's farces, then this will be right up your street.

This story does rely on a certain suspension of disbelief, the characters making somewhat odd decisions that lead to outrageous situations. This is to be expected of course otherwise there would be no farce! In fact, now I think about it, it's not just farce, characters in horror stories make odd decisions too!

The lead characters are all attractive to the listener and although perhaps not as distinct as Wodehouse's characters, they are the sort of people you'll laugh along with their antics. There are no real bad-guys in the story, even the thief is a likeable rogue.

The reader lends a voice to the story that is perfectly paced for this kind of story, he doesn't race through the comedy moments nor dawdle in between. This kind of pacing helps you keep track of things, and you need to do that in a farce.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9


Download it from the Librivox

Listen to the first part

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Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Immortals by Tracy Hickman

Official Blurb

The future story of United States Internment Camps ... of the dreams of the pre-deceased ... and of triumph beyond oblivion.

It's 2020, and an attempted cure for AIDS has mutated into a deadlier disease, V-CIDS. The U.S., under martial law, has set up "quarantine centers" in the Southwest. Searching for his gay son, Jon, media mogul Michael Barris smuggles himself into one of centers only to discover that it and the other centers are actually extermination camps. With a strange assortment of allies, including the leader of the camp's gay barracks, an army officer and a local cowboy, Barris precipitates an inmates' rebellion that promises the unraveling of the death-camp system and the overthrow of the government that established it.

My Review

This is a good audio book. It's well written and has a loverly production including a minimalist approach to sound effects and some delightful incidental music. I found the story itself compelling, it was a book I HAD to finish.

It is a story set in depair, in a world an environment where life has no value, it's dark and upsetting. If not for the few sci fi elements thrown in this could so easily be just a couple of years in our future, or even today.

I was moved by the moments of human kindness presented in the horror of the camps and the audio presentation works perfectly to reinforce this.

Do not expect to be cheered though, this is not a happy story, its a sad tale that can give you scarey chills with it's likeness to reality.

Reading 3/3
Production 3/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 8/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

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Owners Share by Nathan Lowell

Official Blurb

When Diurnia Salvage and Transport undergoes a change in management, Captain Ishmael Horatio Wang finds himself adrift in a sea of red ink, and intrigue. He dives in only to find that he is over his head in a universe where cut-throat competition takes on an all new meaning.

What price will he pay for his Owner’s Share?

My Review

This book is the sixth book in the series, it is also the final. The book continues the story of Ishmael Horatio Wang's rise in power and station. The author does another sterling job of reading his own work.

I remarked in reviews of the previous books in the series that despite nothing happening they were still good. This book breaks that pattern. The author has written a strong and fitting final episode to his serial.

I really do not want to give away any spoilers, (the title kind of does that) but what I can say is that I was blown away with this fantastic ending. I actually cried when it finished. Part of that was me wanting it to go on, but mostly it was down to the shock, the horror and the bitter sweet emotional elements that the author wove through his story.

If you haven't been listening along with the whole series, then this is not the place to start. The stories impact and meaning will be lost on you. Go back to the beginning of the series "Quarter Share" and start there.

If you've started this series, then I reccommend you finish it.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

Listen to the first part

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Saturday 22 January 2011

The Arwen, Season 3: Armada by Timothy P. Callahan

Official Blurb

The Earth Alliance prepares itself for a new war. Two old enemy's have allied themselves with Regal, the planet the Arwen saved two years earlier, to build a massive Armada assigned to destroy Earth. Vice Admiral Payton Cook must defend the planet against insurmountable odds while Captain Cook does battle to save Ulliam from a deadly surprise attack.

The Arwen: Season 3 is the final chapter of the Gyssyc trilogy which started with the Parsec award winning novella, the Arwen: Season one Regal, and continued with The Arwen Season two: Ulliam.

My Review

This a the third part of a series of books. I've reviewed the previous installments in the trilogy and liked them both. Frankly, this is just as good. There is more action in this segment than the previous two books and its all good stuff.

The series follows the trials and tribulations of the starship "Arwen" and its crew. They don't have an easy life, as the Arwen is constantly bound up in galactic scale politics and battles.

This book is pure sci fi, aliens, battleships in space, future weapons and real people running the whole show. Just what this sci fi fan really enjoys.

This book would stand fairly well as a stand alone book, but does make reference to the people and events of the previous stories, so I recommend you dont start with this part, but you could if push came to shove.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

Download it from the Podiobooks

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Friday 21 January 2011

The Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, volume I

Official Blurb

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805) was an English flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He won several victories, including the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, during which he was killed. These are the letters that he wrote to Lady Hamilton, with whom he was having a notorious affair until his death in 1805.

My Review

I have to admit to being a bit of fan of history. I've also read pretty much every "action under sail" type of novel I have ever got my hands on. Also I might add, blowing my own trumpet, the first audio book I ever recorded was "The Death of Lord Nelson".

So with those caveats in place let me tell you what I thought about this book... I loved it!

As the title suggests it is a series of letters from a man to his lover. Each of them is facinating on a couple of levels. I really enjoyed the little details to be found here. From the delightful way he would sign off dedicating himself to his lady, to the details of the admiralty politics.

Little historical facts pop out of these letters that give you facinating insights into how life was for these people. For instance that letters sent via the admiralty had weight limits, that they often had to be redirected, that workers for the postal service took fiscal advantage of people who didn't know better.

The letters also show just how human "Nelson" was, how worried about offending people, how money troubles pursued him, how he hated black guards!

I can't really tell you more without ruining the delight you might discover for yourselves.

The only down side is that this book is not voiced by just one person and the change of voice can be distracting when the letters come from the same person.

Reading 2/3
Production 1/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 5/9

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Peace Lord of the Red Planet by Steven H. Wilson

Official Blurb

Shepherd Autrey is a Quaker, a physician, and a man deeply disturbed by the madness around him as the War Between the states bears down on his America in 1863. Dared by a friend to take an active role, Shep volunteers to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of Sherman’s scorched earth campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. There he runs foul of a Confederate recruiting drive and fi nds himself hanged by the neck from a tree. Awakening in a strange land which can’t possibly be earth, Shep is plunged into battle and saves the life of an alien warrior prince. Hailed by bloodthirsty killers as the bravest man alive, Shep combats his conscience, his flagging faith, and an ever-growing number of people who want him dead.

My Review

The title and the blurb suggest that this might be set in Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom world. Even the civil war link to the red planet suggests it may be a Barsoom story. Sadly I have to report it is nothing of the sort.

The world that the protagonist is pulled through to is Red, but its not aliens with six arms on the planet but men. Yes they do have flying boats and fight with swords over a mostly desert world but its not Barsoom. I was severely disapointed.

The story started so well , Shep the protagonist is an appealing character and the opening chapters put him in some really interesting situations. Sadly it does not stay that way. The story gets exceptionally preachy. At one point two consecutive chapters focus almost entirely on various characters trying to convince the protagonist that his Christian based anti-homesexual sentiments are wrong. Two chapters!

The end of the story was also a dispointment. Instead of building to a big battle or highly adventurous final climax it resolved with lots of explaining what happened in the past rather than showing us the action.

In the end, I was very disapointed, I kept listening hoping it would get better, be more what I had been hoping for.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 1/3

Total Score 5/9

Dont bother downloading it from Podiobooks

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Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Hand of Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer

Official Blurb

Further adventures of Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie as they continue their battles against the evil genius, Dr Fu-Manchu.

My Review

This is the third Fu-Manchu book available via Librivox and I think the actual third in the original series of books. In case you don't know Dr Fu-Manchu is an evil genious working for mysterious eastern powers, the goal of whom is to subjugate the west to the power of china. The Yellow-Peril as it is known in these books.

Set against the evil doctor is Nayland Smith, an intrepidagent of the British Government and his faithful companion Petrie, who narrates these tales. In the previous two books Nayland Smith is constantly on the back foot trying to catch up and overtake the plots of the evil genious. This third book is no different. If you liked the earlier books, you're getting more of the same here.

The evil doctor is trying to kill people, kidnap others and generally cause mischief bit things do take an interesting twist in this book. Not only does Petrie's love Karamina (thats not how you spell it) get kidnapped but we also discover that Fu has other loverly slaves to do his bidding. We also, and this the twist, discover that Dr Fu-Manchu is not the head honcho, he has to report for his failures to a higher power!

So it's an adventure story, episodic in nature, full of daring do and slimey bad guys.

The reader is excellent and employs a nice variety of voices.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Friday 14 January 2011

In the Shadows by Basil Sands

Official Blurb

A collection of Short Stories by action author Basil Sands.

These stories will get your heart racing in thirty minutes or less as you plummet to the depths of human emotion and the desire to protect what is dearest when all hell breaks loose and there is no one there to do anything about it but an Average Joe...or an almost Average Joe. Think of each episode as something like the Twilight Zone, with guns, knives, and whatever the hero can find to defend themselves and their families from the bad guys. These are Basil's original action novels taken down to single episode bite size chunks that'll get your blood pressure up on the commute to the office, or while on the treadmill at the gym.

From a former Navy Seal, to a dad trying to make things right for his son, to a bunch of twenty something adventurers high on an Alaskan mountain you'll get the hardcore action you crave. Twice a month, delivered right to your MP3 player.

You want action? You want pulse pounding excitement? You want to see the bad guys get their due?

Here it is in a way that only a guy named Basil can do.

So make sure to put your tray table in the upright and locked position, and fasten your seat belt... it's going to be a wild ride.

My Review

As the blurb says the author has presented us with high action in ten different stories. Each is an action based story with the emphasis on action rather than story. this is because they are just too short to contain any real story.

Think of stringing the action scenes from your fave' movies into sequence and you'll have a feel for how listening to these stories present themselves. All of them share a second common trait, apart from the action, in that someone is not what they seem.

There are ten stories, I rated nine of them as good, and one as OK. The author is reading his own work here and does good job of it. Well worth listening to

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Tuesday 11 January 2011

Shadow Falls: Badlands by Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff

Official Blurb

After a condemned ex-soldier cheats the gallows and wakes to find everyone in a small Texas town dead and his jail cell door wide open, he begins a cross-country journey to follow his nightmarish visions of mankind's end. But as he searches for a way to stop the coming apocalypse from happening, he soon discovers that what lays behind destiny's door is a darkness beyond his control.

My Review

The first thing I shoudl point out is that this is the second in a series and I haven't listened to the first part. I Only realised it was part two as I listened to the last section. I didn't realise that I was in part two because it you didn't need to know what came before!

This story is part horror, part mystery, part adventure. The author has created a story that jumps back wards and forwards through time to tell a mysterious story of horrific people and dark powers. It's very cleverly done. Sometimes as the author takes us forwards opr backwards in time it can take you a breath or two to catch up and this blends the differn't parts into a mystery that hooks you.

This story primarily set in the old west when people still used muskets and pistols that used black powder, but does go further back into the earliest days of the settlement.

Pretty much everyone in this story is a nasty piece of work, and they are often making sure you know it, with bullet, knife AND teeth!

This book is not for those with a weak constitution, but does have a pacing and mystery that will keep you glued to the ear buds.

Reading 2/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 6/9

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Tuesday 4 January 2011

Dead Hunt by Kenn Crawford

Official Blurb

Off the coast of Nova Scotia on a remote island, a lonely scientist, a powerful computer, a simple mistake. Unleashes a new threat, somewhere in the hills of Margaree.

"Dead Hunt" is Kenn Crawford’s chilling tale of a desperate father’s undying love, a daughter frozen in time, and the small group of teens trapped in the aftermath.

"Everyone makes mistakes. Some are small, some are bigger. My father’s mistake, born of an innocent heart and fueled by sadness, was the greatest mistake. Some thought the death of his little girl drove him to the point of insanity; some thought he was trying to be God. But, this is not how it happened. The truth is, he wanted to save me. To give me life. And, in doing so, everyone was doomed." ~Robin

My Review

Imagine a slasher movie, imagine a bunch of teens starring in a saturday night zombie flick and thats where this book sits. It's blood and guts and teens surrounded by zombies. A simple theme but the author has put more than a little thought into it.

The first third of the novel deals with the cause and effect of the zombie outbreak, and does it with stylish, intellectual way. This is no plague caused by a passing asteroid, instead the author builds up the science behind it with some great characterisation in the process. It all makes sense to my semi logical mind, sure the science is probably guff, but I didn't spot it.

The teens that star in the story are nice, are individual, and best of all intelligent! So often in these stories teens act stupid, they go down into unlit basements, out into the eveil woods etc, but not in this story. That makes this a step up from the usual zombie dross.

There is blood, there is gore, there are sexual situations ( not explicit ) so it's you basic horror collection of tropes, but as I said nicely done.

It's a full cast drama with music and sound effects and a delightful narrator. If you like horror, give it a try.

Reading 3/3
Production 3/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 8/9

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Monday 3 January 2011

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

Official Blurb

Writing at the end of the American Civil War, Verne weaves this story of a Scottish merchant who, in desperation at the interruption of the flow of Southern cotton due to the Union blockade, determines to build his own fast ship and run guns to the Confederates in exchange for the cotton piling up unsold on their wharves. His simple plan becomes complicated by two passengers who board his new ship under false pretenses in order to carry out a rescue mission, one which Capt. Playfair adopts as his own cause. This is going make the Rebels in Charleston rather unhappy with him.

Sure, his new ship is fast - but can it escape the cannonballs of both North and South?

My Review

This is a short two hour audio book by one of my favourite writers ( Jules Verne ) and one of my favourite readers ( Mark Smith ), so whats not to like! As the blurb says it's set during the war between the states and predominently on board a steam ship that is about to run the yankie blockade.

It's not a swashbuckling adventure, we dont have any heros leaping about sword in one hand pistol in another, no, it's much more sedate than that. In fact the high action takes place off stage, yet in the end that is not a disapointment.

The story is much more a character piece, that's set in exciting times. As with many of the stories written in these times, you get a feeling that all will end well at the end but that's not why you're listening, you want to hear how they get to that point. So sit down , stick this light adventure in your ears and you wont be disapointed by what is a delightful and well made audio book.

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 2/3

Total Score 7/9

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Saturday 1 January 2011

Personal Effects: Sword of Blood by J.C. Hutchins

Official Blurb

Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital art therapist Zach Taylor is endlessly curious, perhaps to a fault. When his cheerful elderly patient Gertrude “Spindle” Spindler completes her latest quilt and informs Zach that a 30-year-old "grand design of nine" has just concluded, Zach’s curiosity is piqued ... and he soon embarks on a quest to unwind the meaning of the woman's cryptic phrase.

He isn't expecting a descent into a world filled with mystery and ruthless subcultures -- and he isn't expecting to be haunted by Spindle's coy clues. What is The Great Blade of Blood? What are The Charred? What is the grand design of nine? And who is the dark-skinned stranger stalking Zach at every turn, threatening his life?

The answers may lie in Spindle's granddaughter, a willowy self-proclaimed psychic named Hen. But Zach soon discovers that Hen may be crazier than the patients he treats ... and the treasure he's pursuing may be more dangerous -- and deadly -- than he ever imagined.

My Review

This audio book is a prequel, it's also of novella length, and when it finishes you'll be saying "what!? You can't end it there!" At least that's what I said. It's an investigative mystery with the protagonist not being a detective but rather an art therapist of all things!

It's been written by the author of the 7th Son trilogy and he's brought his own very distinctive and very good style of writing and narration to this audio book.

This book is a short thriller with just a hint of the super natural to add flavour. The protagonist is a likeable guy with some problems and an "interesting" life. As the story proceeds you learn more and more about him and his world, which when combined with a racing plot keeps you glued to your MP3 player.

I really enjoyed it, but it does suffer from being a prequel, so you're left wanting more, and it's so short you'll just have to buy the book "Personal Effects:Dark Arts". These are not bad things, but if you dont have access to the sequel do yourself a favour and don't start listening to this!

Reading 3/3
Production 2/3
Story 3/3

Total Score 8/9


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