Advise and Consent
Written by: Allen Drury
Narrated by: Allan Robertson
Length: 33 hrs and 17 mins
Series: Advise and Consent, Book 1
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks
I am currently listening to Advise and Consent provided by Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for a fair review. It is over 33 hours long so I am not done with it yet but I am very impressed. Allan Robertson does a fantastic job narrating this book. His cast of characters range from the President to Senators from multiple states and regions to women.
The book itself, written in 1959, is a political thriller. It is also a very accurate look at how things get done in Washington behind the scene. The author gets it right how most of the work is done in committee and caucus meetings. Before the bill ever hits the full Senate, it has already gone through countless hours of negotiation. While this may sound boring, Drury makes it suspenseful and exciting.
The writing is excellent. One of my favorite quotes so far is, "who will do what and why, all the web of interlocking interests and desires and ambitions and arrangements that always lies behind the simple ultimate, final statement, 'The Senate voted today-."
I still have a ways to go but just wanted to share how terrific the audiobook is so far. If anyone else is listening or reading it and wants to discuss it, let me know.
The Immortalist: A Sci-Fi Thriller
Written by: Scott Britz
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Dr. Cricket Rensselaer-Wright, the main character of The Immortalist, is a virologist who has just returned from Africa. She is coming back to the US to take custody of her only child from her ex-husband. Due to an incident in Africa, she has a staggering case of PTSD mixed with a near fatal dose of guilt. Cricket’s stability is an issue from start to finish in the book, it colors how she sees herself, how she reacts to situations and how others perceive her. It is an almost visible monkey on her back. Cricket returns to the research institute her father started and where she grew up. Her ex-husband, also a scientist, lives there with their teenage daughter Emily. Confession time: I was not always sure who had the more adolescent attitude, Cricket or her daughter.
The timing of Cricket’s return is based on her need to have her daughter. To Dr. Charles Gifford, the current director and Jack Niedermann, the VP of Development for Eden Pharmaceuticals, her timing is suspicious. They are ready to unveil the Methuselah Vector, the cure for mortality. The Vector, developed from Cricket’s father’s early work, is the cure all for everything from cancer to aging. Gifford and Niedermann suspect Cricket has returned to demand a share of the profit from the Vector, which will be historically huge. As with all human attempts at conquering death, hubris equals disaster. The Methuselah Vector has a very big flaw that only Cricket sees. Her warnings are written off to her instability or her attempts to extract more money from from the profits. No one believes her until people start dying.
The Immoralist was a good story, not a great one. None of the characters really made me care about them. Cricket’s character was shrill. Her actions towards her daughter set my teeth on edge. For a mother trying to reconcile with a daughter, she did everything wrong even when others tried to help. Emily’s was a brat. Gifford was actually stupid for a genius or maybe it was arrogance and not stupidity. Niedermann was a recycled villain. He sneered. He postured. His dialogue was taken from the Villain’s Handbook on Intimidation. The conclusion really dragged out. It was “how many different ways can Cricket be in danger” in the last section of the book.
Cassandra Campbell did a nice job narrating the book. Her volume was consistent. In the places where she did have to raise her voice, it was not distorted or loud enough to have to turn down the volume. There was enough shading in her characters to be able to tell them apart. Her accents were good. The production values were good.
I would try another book by Scott Britz. The Immortalist is compared to Coma by Robin Cook. It is a valid comparison. If you loved Coma, you will probably love The Immortalist. If you liked Coma, you will probably feel the same about the Immortalist. I have heard books by Cassandra Campbell and she is excellent. I would recommend the book just based on her performance.
Story (Plot) 3
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 3
I received a free copy from Audiobook Reviewer in exchange for a free review.
I requested a review copy of Life After the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair because I have a love for post apocalyptic literature. I think it comes from growing up during the cold war and practicing the bomb drills at school. Life After the Undead is an apocalypse brought about by, you guessed it, zombies.
Zombies are really a hot market right now. One of my son’s friends is taking a zombies in film class to fulfill an degree requirement. A whole class on zombie films, like I said they are a hot item. By virtue of so many mediums (books, films, comics and probably performance art) mining the topic, it is getting somewhat stale. The great zombie creations are fewer and fewer.
Life After the Undead has potential but it is not one of the great ones. Too much of the plot was been there and read that. The main character Krista is a teenager who deals with mean girls at school and parents who do not approve of her fascination with serial killers. When the event happens, her life changes very quickly.
This is where I had problems with the book. Krista is somewhat developed but the secondary characters are not. The first set of mean girls at the very beginning have almost exact twins later in the book. Her safe haven turns out to be working as a servant for one of the powerful families that control the state of Florida. But we never find out how they got control or why people would put up with virtual slavery.
The creepiest character is not the zombies but Krista’s second cousin, Liet. He is much older than her and seems to be grooming her for his own sick reasons. He flashes between psycho, pervert and big brother often and with very little explanation. He was not real to me. He was a cardboard cutout of a villain.
Even though there are aspects of the book I did not like, listed above, there is great potential here. The author has started creating a good universe that more can be done with. Krista is certainly a workable character. Allow her to mature and grow. Please, please allow her to be strong on her own and not need a man to rescue her (pet peeve).
I am sure from the ending of the book that there is a sequel coming. I hope the author does continue writing in this universe and does allow her characters to grow. I think other than the pervy Liet, this would be a great series for a older teen/young adult who likes zombies. I rate it 3 of 5 stars.
I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Hell on Heels: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Written by: John G. Hartness
Narrated by: James Foster
Length: 2 hrs and 47 mins
Publisher: Falstaff Media
The Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter series, is still going strong in Hell on Heels, the third title in the series. Harker and Detective Flynn have had changes in their relationship, a very slow building of trust and possibly a hint of friendship. Quincy’s language and attitude both remain foul, especially before, during and after any breath he takes.
The entity Quincy is fighting in this book is Renfield. Not that Renfield, the original. This is one of his successors. When you are Count Dracula, you do not have to remember servants names. You just call them all by their predecessors name. Makes life easier. Unfortunately one of the previous Renfield was disturbed, more than bug eating disturbed and has come back to seek revenge on the Count, or as Harker calls his, Uncle Luke. Disturbed Renfield has no problem with killing present Reinfeld to get his revenge on his former employer. Harker and Flynn are working together to help Dracula. With that the story is off and running and like others has great action and pacing.
When I wrote my review of the Kindle version of Hell on Heels, I stated, “The only way this book could have been any better is if it had been an audiobook read by James Foster.” And I was right. I enjoyed reading the book but listening to it narrated by James Foster is the difference between smelling chocolate cookies and eating them. His narration of the Quincy Harker series takes a two dimensional page and makes it three dimensional. He breathes life into the characters on the pages.
I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for a fair review.
Project Wormhole is the first book in a new series by Ken Preston, author of the Joe Coffin series. While Joe Coffin is aimed at an adult audience, Project Wormhole's target audience is middle school to young adult. It does not have any sex but it does have violence. Some of the scenes are tense so if you have a younger child or one who does not like scary scenes, read the book yourself first.
The premise of the book is that a top secret experiment goes horribly wrong. An unnatural storm hits the Birmingham, England. The storm brings lightning, thunder, torrential rain and dinosaurs. Yes dinosaurs. The project creates a wormhole that throws the past, the long past, into the present with disastrous results.
The main characters of the book are three young students. Daniel, who recently lost his mother, is running away from the research base where he father is working on top secret project at a secure military base. Will and Lee are students on a class trip to a museum. Lee is an American, recently moved to England. Will is a bullied and afraid of his own shadow. After the storm passes, the three children find each other and struggle to understand what has happened.
The story has some interesting and unexpected twist and turns. The dinosaurs are worked into the story in a very creative fashion. Some of the monsters are human with their own drive to survive at the cost of other's lives.
This book should appeal to middle school students and older. Many students will identify with one of the three main characters. If you have a reluctant reader, Project Wormhole may interest them enough that they are willing to give it a try.
I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a fair review.
I had not heard of Bohemian Gospel before I selected it from the Book of the Month club. It has been sitting on my desk for about two weeks. I began it this morning and finished it this evening. It was the perfect book to read during a blizzard. It kept me engaged and curious.
I can only imagine the amount of research the author conducted on the time period and the very complicated politics in addition to the Church. I am not an expert in any of those areas but I can tell you without a doubt she created a very real atmosphere. The places and characters who inhabited them seemed very real. Mouse, the main character, was a very unusual female for the time period. Her back story explains how she came to be better educated then most women at the time. Its not her education that struck me as much as her spirit. She was trying to live a life of her own choosing, and while it did not always work out, she still continued to try.
Although I have read a lot of historical fiction from this time period, I had not read any from this area. It was all new and very enjoyable. I would recommend Bohemian Gospel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
The Nazi Hunters by Andrew Nagorski will be released in May. I had the opportunity, through NetGalley, to read an advance copy. It was fascinating and disturbing. Two themes run through the book, understanding and justice. The need to understand why people acted in the way they did and then refused to take responsibility for their actions. The need for justice as opposed to revenge. One of the Nazi Hunters profiled in the book, Serge Klarsfelds, stated, “Justice, in its essence, is not effective: it cannot resuscitate people who were killed. So it’s symbolic.”
The Nuremberg Trials focused the world on the war crimes committed by the Nazi regime. The big trial was originally slated to have twelve defendants but one eluded capture. Adolf Eichmann was responsible for the deportation of the Jewish populations. It was in 1960 that Eichmann was finally captured in a secret operation by the Israeli Mossad. One of the Mossad agents who helped capture Eichmann is quoted as saying “What makes such a creature, created in the likeness of man, into a monster?” The author explains how political theorist Hannah Arendt objected to labeling Eichmann a monster. As the author stated, “He committed ‘monstrous acts in the name of a monstrous system, but labeling him a monster lets too many others off the hook and ignores how easily tyrannical regimes can enlist average citizens in their criminal behavior.”
Once the trials were over, the world moved on to the quickly escalating Cold War. The number of guilty parties brought to trial was very small. For the most part, they were the leaders. The lower level functionaries, brutal camp guards and others whose savagery was documented were left to leave their lives in peace. It was due to the relentless hard work of the individuals who were committed to bringing the Nazi’s to justice for all the victims who could not seek it for themselves. The author does an excellent job of detailing each hunter's personal reason for pursuing this difficult path. The intensive investigations required to track down each criminal was also detailed.
So much of this book is relevant to our world today. The author, discussing Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, stated “the greatest danger facing mankind is not represented by monsters but by those who blindly obey their monstrous orders.” This is exactly what we are facing with terrorism.
I received a free copy of The Nazi Hunters from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Thicker Than Blood
Written by: Claire C. Riley, Madeline Sheehan
Narrated by: CJ Bloom
Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
My original Thicker Than Blood (Thicker Than Blood, #1) audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.
Thicker Than Blood by Claire C. Riley and Madeline Sheehan has some similarities to other zombie apocalypse novels. The world they create is very, very bleak. There is constant danger and the living are often worse than the zombies. Bad things happen. It is a zombie apocalypse novel afterall. The big difference between Thicker Than Blood and others in the genre is two women are the main characters. All the action is told through their eyes, they narrate alternating chapters. The story is what happens to them, other than the dead husbands, only one male character has a significant role.
The story starts about several years after the virus overtook the world. Leisel and Evelyn and their husbands were very close friends before the world went down the drain. After the virus wreaks havoc, Leisel and Evelyn have only each other. Leisel is generally the delicate buttercup and Evelyn is the tough as nails dame. Both women evolve through the novel. I liked female main characters. I did not like way women are portrayed as totally powerless in the post apocalypse world. I guess I am a firm believer in brains over brawn. I did not like the use of sex as a means of illustrating the male dominance over the females in the world. I never really felt any connection to Leisel or Evelyn. They were almost too extreme to be believable. Liesel was too weak and Evelyn was too strong. A more believable character would have been somewhere in between. All in the all, the story was good, not great, not groundbreaking but worth the read.
The major problem I had with this audiobook was the production values and the narrator. It is somewhat hard to separate what was caused by the production values and what was the weakness of the narrator. To try to rule out any issues from my devices, I listened to this audio book on a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, and a Dell desktop computer with speakers. I tried both devices with JVC bluetooth speakers. No matter what device or speakers I used, the sound was tinny. It reminded me of listening to a recording on a cassette recorder (showed my age there).
I had to adjust the volume way too often. I could not just listen. I had to be ready to adjust the volume down for the raised voices and then back up for the quieter conversations. The production team should have make sure the volume was consistent throughout the entire book. Finally the narrator, CJ Bloom, was difficult to listen to. Some of the time, she had a very nice voice. But most of the time her voice was strident. So many sentences were said with so much emotion forced through them. It was exhausting to listen to. Again whoever was in charge of the production should have been picking up on the issues with the sound quality as well as the narrator’s performance.
I would be willing to try another audiobook narrated by CJ Bloom. It may be a simple case of me not liking the style she narrated this one in. I will eventually try another book by the authors, either another collaboration or a solo effort.
Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com
Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia came to my attention through the Kindle Scout program. I voted for the book to be published by Amazon. It was chosen and so I got a free advance copy. There are two problems with Dirty Deeds. First it has such an abrupt cliffhanger I almost broke my neck. Second and more importantly, I do not have the sequel and I need to know what happens now. This minute! Mr. Rosamilia I hope you have the sequel ready to publish soon because Dirty Deeds was incredible.
The main character, whose real name is still unknown, is great. He is totally believable. He is flawed both physically and emotionally. The more I got to know about him as the book progressed, the more invested in his fate I became. Great job from the opening line of hooking the reader. Why would you care about a character who tells you in the first paragraph he kills children for money? Trust me, you will care about him. And you will root for him.
The action was a good combination of suspense shot through with frenzied action and relieved by wonderful humor.. The side characters were well developed also. I will be on the look out for the sequel. I rate Dirty Deeds a shiny five stars.
The Ian McDermott, Ph.D., Paranormal Investigator (2 Book Series)Kindle Edition by David Reuben Aslin
Loup-Garou: The Beast of Harmony Falls (The Ian McDermott, Ph.D., Paranormal Investigator Series Book 1)
Red Tide: The Flavel House Horror / Vampires of the Morgue (The Ian McDermott, Ph.D., Paranormal Investigator Series Book 2)
The Ian McDermott Series, Books 1 and 2, were not bad but they were not great either. The concept, a cryptozoologist investigating unsolvable crimes, has potential. In the first book, Ian is looking into the case of missing hikers near Harmony Falls. He makes friends with the local sheriff and his deputy. Ian is a poor soul. He lost his wife and daughter in a car accident several years before and now lives in a camper and various liquor bottles. Working with the Harmony Falls police rekindles his love of investigations and he finds a purpose in life again.
In the second book, Ian goes directly from Harmony Falls to Astoria, Oregon to help another police department with a series of grisly slayings. He meets a local writer of horror stories who has quite a few secrets. Again Ian the driving force in the investigations and attempting to solve the crimes.
As I said, the concept, especially the future laid out at the end of book 2 has a lot of potential. There is a serious problem with the books in the way the dialogue is written. It is awkward and clunky. There is not a natural flow to it. All the characters always identify who they are speaking to by name, every time they speak to them. It gets tedious. I would suggest Mr. Aslin look at the conversations in the Adrian’s Undead series. They flow naturally and do not seem forced. I know conversation is a very hard thing to write but it really does need to be worked on in these two books.
I purchased both books because the descriptions intrigued me. I read the mixed bag of reviews on Amazon but still decided to try them. I would give the first two books of the series a solid three stars but am not sure whether I will continue with it when the next book is published.
2389: A Space Horror Novel
Written by: Iain Rob Wright
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
Length: 3 hrs and 50 mins
Publisher: WRIGHT IDEAS LIMITED
My original 2389: A Space Horror Novel audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.
This was my first introduction to the writing of Ian Rob Wright and narration of Nigel Patterson. It was a voyage of discovery. 2389: A Space Horror Novel is a relatively short listen, just under four hours. It is, as the title suggests, set in the future. And what a great setting, the Moon.
The setup of the story is great. A select group of cosmonauts (astronauts from multiple nations) are called in to address a special situation. The amusement park on the Moon (you read that right, amusement park) has gone dark. No one is answering calls. Let’s just let that image of Disney World on the Moon sink in for a moment. The entrance tunnel opens to a large dome with the cosmos stretching to eternity over their heads. Or as the author puts it “like standing inside a transparent golf ball or one of those spheres that children put hamsters inside of.” He paints an incredible picture that helps lock in the setting. As the story progresses, the reader never forgets this is the moon. You cannot just run outside to escape the danger.
The story takes about six chapters until the reader gets the first hint of what has happened. For the preceding chapters, I was holding my breath waiting. I knew it was coming. I didn’t know where it would come from or even what it was but the title says “Horror”. The suspense was great. I really enjoyed that the author did not reveal his whole plot the minute the team arrived.
His use of language to paint very vivid pictures was excellent. For example, at a food court “the scrolling menu screen listed the extortion of prices”. “Extortion of prices”, what a great phrase and so true (how much do they charge for a bottle of water at Disney these days?). Another example is, “spilled out of the canyon like pus from a wound, squirting in all directions.” Eww, but it certain paints a picture in your mind. I do not do spoilers in my reviews so I cannot comment any further on the story.
Nigel Patterson has a very nice voice. He does a good job on accents. I really enjoyed the fact that Mr. Patterson did not do falsettos or any distracting pitches for his female voices. His pacing was consistent with the action in the story. The major problem I had with this title was how it interfered with what I needed to get done today. Yes, I listened to it in one day. Yes, I kept stopping what I was doing (washing dishes, sorting laundry, whatever) because I was so caught up in the story. I would definitely pick up one of Mr. Wright’s books or Mr. Patterson’s narrations again.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com
Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash was an enjoyable read. It is the story of an amusement park. It is not so much Walt Disney World as it is Jurassic Park. No dinosaurs though, just vampires, werewolves and zombies. The back story how how the three species of legend come to public attention is well done.
The main character is a teen boy dealing with the wreckage in the wake of his parent's divorce. Moving from upscale LA to middle of nowhere, losing the financial support of his inattentive father and his mother's remarriage have given Wyatt a larger than normal dose of teenage angst. The girl, Jade, he likes is the football hero's girl. Wyatt's best friends are on the far end of the socially acceptable scale. Wyatt plods through each day with his irritating little brother Josh nipping at his heels adding another layer of misery to his life.
Shortly before the simultaneous world wide openings of all the Monsterland Parks, Wyatt's luck changes. He uses his own money to buy food for a seemingly homeless man at the fast food restaurant he works for. The man is not homeless, just eccentric and the owner of all the Monsterland Parks. Wyatt is given four VIP tickets for the opening while Jade,her boyfriend and two other friends are given regular tickets. Wyatt, his brother, two best friends and the President of the United States are all headed for the opening night of Monsterland. An amusement park that features real werewolves, vampires and zombies. What can possibly go wrong?
The book is really an enjoyable read. Wyatt is a likable kid. The vampires, werewolves and zombie are real, not guys in masks as in Scooby Doo. There is a nice build up to the action. Once the action does start, it does not stop. For anyone who grew up reading Famous Monsters Magazines or the like, Monsterland will be childhood dreams come true, including the running and screaming.
I received a free copy of Monsterland from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Very few series can keep my attention past a second book. Hell Freezes Over is the fourth Quincy Harker and I cannot wait for number five. The mystery is this book is much harder to solve and has a much higher body count. It also has a possible peak at a future revelation about Harker's guardian angel. I cannot wait to see where that leads. Harker continues to be his same nasty self, even in his sleep. His dreams could provide more than ample material for another whole horror series. But we also see a very different side of Harker. His tenderness and caring for children, although he fights it tooth and nail, shows that he is at heart a good person, or whatever it is he is. I cannot wait until this is an audio book narrated by James Foster. This is a great series and has not shown any sign of slowing down.
The third installment in the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter series, Hell on Hells, is just as strong as the previous two. Harker and Detective Flynn have had changes in their relationship. Although they are starting to work together, Quincy in no way softens up. His language and attitude both remain foul. The adversary in this book is Renfield. Not that Renfield. This is one of his successors. When you are Count Dracula, you do not have to remember servants names. You just call them all by their predecessors name. Makes life easier. Unfortunately one of the previous Renfield was disturbed, more than bug eating disturbed and has come back to seek revenge on the Count, or as Harker calls his, Uncle Luke. This story like the others has great action and pacing. It also advances the characters and helps the reader understand how they arrived where they are. The only way this book could have been any better is if it had been an audio book read by James Foster.
A famous author made me afraid of normal items: Clowns, balloons, elderly people in RVs. Now his son has taken my real fear of fire and thrown gasoline on it. Joe Hill has written The Fireman and I cannot wait to get my hands on. I was fortunate enough to have access to an advanced sample through NetGalley. I loved it. I really cared about the main character, Harper. I finished the sample and my first thought was, "I hope Harper is ok." I will have to wait till the book is published to find out.
The fireman of the title is such a mystery. I still haven't figured out who or what he is. He could be a savior or a madman and he is borderline creepy at times. I still want to finish the book to find out his mystery.
I love apocalypse literature. In fact, The Stand is my favorite book. The fireman is such a fresh approach. Apocalypse by fire? Been done with nuclear war. Apocalypse by disease? Done many times. How about apocalypse by viral fire? That is new.
I really cannot wait until the book is released so I can find out what happens with these characters I am invested in. I would just like to state that writing a review of only a portion of a book is tougher than I thought it would be.
I just discovered Netgalley. It looks like it may be another great source for discovering new authors and titles.
Joe Coffin, Season Two (A Vampire Suspense and Gory Horror Series: Season Two (Episodes 5 to 8) Book 2)
I need Season Three now, immediately. I enjoyed Season One. Season Two was even better. Again the action was well paced but impossible to predict where it was leading. The two main characters, Joe and Emma, are both flawed but sympathetic individuals. The part I really, really liked about this entry in the Joe Coffin series was getting to know Stump and Corpse better. They are still strange as hell but fascinating in a very sick way. I hope Mr. Preston gives us more of their backstory at some point.
The Joe Coffin series will appeal to anyone who likes paranormal, vampire, mystery and thriller genres. It fits the bill for each of those. I truly appreciate the author offering Season One Episode 1 Book 0 for free. It was a great introduction to the World of Joe Coffin and left me wanting more. Mr. Preston, how soon can we expect Season Three? Soon I hope.
I received a free copy in exchange for a fair review.
I enjoyed Hospital Hill. Ms. Anderson did a great job of helping visualize the setting and especially the atmosphere. For example, the hospital was "perched on top like a beautiful gargoyle" and "it was a strange sort of beautiful with its brick towers and fenced-in porches." I could see the location as well as feel the atmosphere. The main character was interesting and had a good back story that explained her actions. I did not solve the mystery until the author did the reveal because I was focused on a red herring so great job on not revealing too soon. There are some typos in the text which I believe are a problem for Kindle in how they format books. I am sure they will be fixed in the next edition. Lastly the history of mental illness and its treatment is something that should most definitely be discussed more. The beginning of this book takes place in the late 1950's. Over 50 years later, our society is not more enlightened or more compassionate towards mental illness. Hospital Hill can help create interest in the treatment of mental illness and hopefully start a conversation on how our society can move forward to help end stigma and truly treat mental illness instead of ignoring it.
Joe Coffin Season One is a nice pairing of mobsters and vampires. I liked the main character, Joe, despite the fact that he was a mob enforcer. Somewhat paradoxical that he is the better man compared to the police officer. The action was well paced. The other characters were also well written. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I received a free copy in exchange for a fair review.