Through A Glass Darkly by Miss Mae

MaeThroughAGlassDarklyWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrator: Owen McCuen

Publisher: Miss Mae (2015)

Length: 1 hour 7 minutes

Author’s Page

Vexen Rheinhart and Remard are aboard a medical transport ship that is about to suffer some major mishaps. Computer viruses are a thing of the past and one has just wreaked chaos on Vexen’s ship. Unfortunately, there is also a homicidal alien that stowed away, lying in wait for the perfect moment. Several other things will go wrong before anything goes right.

There was plenty of action, a little humor, a touch of romance in this fast-paced space opera. Vexen, our main character, is quick-witted, dedicated, and not afraid to follow through on a good punch if it means saving her friends, ship, or herself. Remard, a blue fingered alien, makes a worthy sidekick. When the computer virus strikes Della, the ship’s computer, the ship drifts off course. This makes it impossible for Vexen’s husband Leland to transport over. So he sends a hologram instead. This hologram, unfortunately, has an identify crisis. This leads to both humor and tragedy.

I liked all the various tech involved in the tale. There’s a handful of weapons, especially once an alien ship demands to board the medical supply ship. Then there’s all the references to the computer virus. Next, at least one person will need doctoring before the tale is through. I definitely felt like we were in some far flung future aboard a snazzy medical space ship.

The stow-away alien was both scary and fascinating. It was a kind of blobby spider and it was unclear if it was sentient or not. Other than acting on it’s homicidal urges, there was no direct communication with it. Remard, who is also an alien, is obviously of a more rational and congenial sort. It’s obvious from the beginning that he and Vexen have a true friendship and have been in tough places together before. Then there is the evil alien commander Delphan, a reptilian race, that demands to board the drifting medical supply ship. I really liked that we had more than one alien variety.

The ending leaves a little up to the reader to decide and I was OK with that. Usually, I like it when the author has chosen a definite ending but in this case, it was well done. Over all, there was plenty here for scifi fans to enjoy. I am hoping the author revisits this little universe she has created, granting us more Vexen stories.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator (via Theater of the Mind FB group) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Owen McCuen was a good fit for this tale. At first, I was a little concerned because our main character is female, so why not a female narrator? But then I heard his voice for Vexen, which is very well done, and my concerns were laid to rest. He had a most excellent voice for Remard which consisted of this odd alien accent – very well done! Later on, he comes up with another, distinct, well done alien accent for the reptilian Delphan. There’s a handful of sound effects thrown in, mostly connected with Della the ship computer. The first loud beep startled me and the cats, but then the rest were well integrated into the narration. 

What I Liked: Interesting main character Vexen; so much going wrong in such a short amount of time; Remard is a great side kick; variety of aliens; the ending was sound; great narration.

What I Disliked: Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the cover, and that is such a minor thing.

What Others Think:

Tattle Tale

Singer of Lies by Michael R. Collings

CollingsSingerOfLiesWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Darren Marlar

Publisher: John Betancourt (2013)

Length: 9 hours 49 minutes

Author’s Page

Marquette and Baanfeld become shipwrecked on a colonial planet. At first, things don’t look too bad. They can call for help and hold out until it arrives. That is, until they are attacked by a large, aggressive native animal. Erik Baanfeld soon finds himself living among the descendants of the original colonists, fighting to find his path in their society.

On the surface, this book looked very exciting. I was quite looking forward to jumping into it. Indeed, it starts off strong. The vast galactic empire seeded viable planets with colonists through the ages. Now, ships have been sent out to investigate these colonies, and bring them back into the tech fold as necessary. Marquette is the man in charge on this mission and Erik is his little-noticed engineer. Once they crash land on the planet, Erik tends to Marquette’s wounds. They have supplies and the ship provides shelter, so there is no immediate threat…. except for the native fauna.

With the animal attack on the ship comes first contact with Wierden, who is a kind of scout for his people. Wierden himself starts off a bit enigmatic, but we learn more about him in little pieces. I quite liked his character. It quickly becomes apparent that Erik and Marquette must go with Wierden. Unfortunately, Marquette is lost to the wilds of the planet pretty quickly. Erik is grudgingly taken in by Wierden’s people, who have based their society on the old Beowulf sagas.

And that is where the strong points of the story end. From this point forward, the tale is a re-imagining of Beowulf, complete with a Grendel beast and warriors. This made the tale predictable. In fact, it reminded me a bit of Michael Crichton’s The Thirteenth Warrior in which we have someone from an outside culture looking in at the Nordic culture.

Erik Baanfeld’s character started off interesting. At first, I honestly wasn’t sure if he was fully organic of some kind of cyborg created to be the ship’s engineer and all around laborman. But later it becomes clear that he is, indeed, totally organic. He is smaller than all the other males in the story, and this seems to weigh on him over much. In fact, this point came up again and again and became a bit tedious. I wondered off and on through the story if he was bred that way as he belongs to this particular work class. So, I had this impression that he was created or grew up in a kind of sterile environment devoid of friendships and family and with a solid focus on training and servitude. But later we learn that the Empire put him through university and he was on a track team. Lots of mixed signals on this character – do I feel sorry for him or not? In the end, I didn’t.

There are only two female characters for the entire story. Sigh….. And, I bet you can guess their roles: sex object and love interest. Yep. That was a huge disappointment. I think between the two of them, they had perhaps 20 lines, maybe less. They make no decisions and don’t add to the plot. For modern published SF, this is a huge drawback for me.

There’s a lot of emphasis on caste in this story. In fact, the lowest of the low is the shepherd who tends the goat-like animals. While this made for some drama in the plot, it also didn’t make sense. This little society needs all the food they can scrape together. So treating the shepherds so poorly means the animals will suffer in some regard and therefore the society as a whole will suffer. Additionally, since this society is basing it’s norms on the old Nordic sagas, then they would have some respect for the shepherds, as in the old Nordic culture. Once again, as with Baanfeld’s background, we have this contradiction that doesn’t add up.

Erik spends quite a bit of energy trying to find a place in this society and he eventually notices the role of the story teller. As said in the description of the book, Erik must make a try at becoming the Singer of Lies – this story teller. When he makes his big move, there is some build up and the scene holds promise. However, then it falls short and I was left unimpressed with Erik’s story telling skills. He comes from a galactic empire and he has so little to share with this isolated society?

There you have it. The story started off strong with lots of potential. It had me excited to be here giving it a listen. Then it became predictable, a bit misogynistic, and it lacked in originality. The ending does have an exciting action scene followed by little more on the Empire’s scout ships checking on the colonies. The door was left open for a sequel, though the story arc for this book felt complete.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the narrator (via Audiobook Blast) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Darren Marlar did a good job with this story. It is told in Erik Baanfeld’s voice and Marlar had a nice even tone for him. He imbued the characters with emotions, as needed. I liked his gruff, accented voice for Wierden. His female voices were distinct and believable.

What I Liked: Story started off strong; lots of potential; crash landing on a hostile planet – always exciting!; Wierden is an interesting character. 

What I Disliked: Story soon became predictable; a re-imagining of Beowulf; only 2 female characters and they add nothing to the plot; Baanfeld’s character is not clear; ill treatment of the shepherds just doesn’t make sense. 


SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer by Ray Jay Perreault

PearreaultSIMPOCWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Zachary Johnson

Publisher: Raymond  J. Perreault (2015)

Length: 2 hours 19 minutes

Author’s Page

SIMPOC is a new AI and his programmer is just starting to introduce it to the wide world. However, a new deadly virus breaks out and spreads like wildfire. Pretty soon, SIMPOC is having to think and act on it’s own, and SIMPOC chooses to protect the few humans it can find – in space.

This was a fascinating story of AI and world calamity. Yep, lots of meat to this little story. First, I enjoyed how the AI came about, being programmed and brought into consciousness on purpose. Then there’s the careful, graded introduction of SIMPOC to the world. As SIMPOC explores newsfeeds from around the world, it comes across the Havarti virus. It is asked by the programmer to monitor it.

The Havarti virus is named after a cheese for a reason folks. Yep. I will let you contemplate the disgusting aspects of that. Pretty soon, SIMPOC is on it’s own. And this is where the second interesting part of the story steps in – all the humans in space.

There’s astronauts in orbit on the space station Oasis, some on a Moon colony, others on a Mars colony. They each have their own challenges. The action really picks up as SIMPOC tries to keep these humans alive. But there are forces working against SIMPOC, so this new AI must be clever and quick and sneaky.

I had a lot of fun listening to this story. My one criticism is that there is only one female character, Joan, who is the commander of the space station, and she doesn’t show up until perhaps half way into the story. Obviously, I would like to see a better gender balance, especially since this is a world calamity and science fiction where women get to do more than tend house and have babies. Joan is written well and is integral to the story so I hope the author continues to write female characters into the story line as the series goes forward.

The tale wraps up the arc for this part of the story but leaves open the bigger picture for a second book (yay!). In fact, the audiobook has a preview of Book 2 at the end. It will be interesting to see what SIMPOC does next and how the remaining humans react to it in the long term.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author (via the GoodReads Audiobooks group) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Zachary Johnson did a very nice job with this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and the one female character had a believable feminine voice. I liked his slightly clipped, very practical, calm voice for SIMPOC.

What I Liked: Great mix of world calamity and AI;  SIMPOC is new to all this and still tries to help (perhaps to keep boredom at bay?); Mars colony!; Moon colony!; a virus named after a cheese. 

What I Disliked: Only 1 female character (sigh……)

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Peter Riva, Author of The Path

RivaThePathFolks, please give a warm welcome to Peter Riva, author of The Path. We chat about space exploration (real and fiction), memory virginity, a fantastical book club meeting, and plenty more! And don’t forget to check out the print, audiobook, & gift card giveaway (International!) at the end of the post!

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Dr. Norman Borlaug, Dr. Linus Pauling, Robert Heinlein, Joseph Conrad, and Arthur C. Clarke. Let me explain why.

Arthur because I was lucky enough to have him write a foreword to a book I did on NASA photography in 1985 – at which time he and I talked for hours discussing the state of astronautics and the hopes and dreams he had for a space elevator in Sri Lanka – if only they would perfect single, continuous molecular wire that would be able to take the strain – Arthur was an eminently practical person who would add to any discussion with feet firmly planted in the possible, not fantasy.

Conrad because he always saw accurately into the heart of man, understood that the real danger was always in the well-meaning do-gooder, a person so myopic that they do not realize the dangers they pose.

Heinlein because his ability to be prescient of the actual future we all face – everything from Waldos (robotics), video glasses, omnipresent recording everything, portable telephones, commercialization of space, burgeoning open sexuality and so on – that vision of his would open up any conversation in a hurry.

Pauling because I met him, through his grandson who I went to school with for a while, and he struck me as a very frustrated man, way ahead of his time, pushing the boundaries of human biomechanical possibilities. In any discussion, he would be able to assess the effects of any postulation upon humankind’s ability to tolerate a different future.

And Dr. Borlaug? People don’t know him very well. They should. The Nobel Peace Prize winner said, in his acceptance speech (for growing more wheat per acre and thereby avoiding conflict due to want) that more food also could mean more people and that is NOT what he had in mind. Dr. Borlaug, America’s leading environmentalist and an admirer of Teddy Roosevelt, understood the real global environmental threats better than almost anyone.

The choice of the three books is selfish – I would love to listen to such great minds discuss the future of humanity, this planet, and space.

“Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology” – the writings of the man who said about humans (to paraphrase), “It is a paradox that the only creature able to appreciate the beauty of nature is also the only creature on earth able to bring about its destruction.” Wallace also hinted at something gaining traction today – that survival of the individual is not the main evolutionary pathway – survival ability of the tribe leads to greater evolutionary changes than the individual alone.

“The Heechee Saga” by Frederik Pohl – a most optimistic look at a futuristic confined galaxy around us – replete with seriously flawed humans. The conclusion of the novels being a version of “duck and cover” – escaping a deadly outcome by hiding inside the edge of a black hole – so typically human.


Well, I was going to pick “Remembrance of Things Past” by Marcel Proust (only the first book)[i] but then Orson Scott Card dealt with the same issues brilliantly in “Speaker for the Dead” – where people’s memories are questioned for recall for what they wanted (or tried) to remember or actually did remember – which brings into question the whole concept of the human brain’s ability to store anything accurately or, indeed, what the brain conjures up as a parallel memory or original thought. Bang goes copyright in one paragraph.

[i]  – sticking especially to the Episode of the Madeleine….

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of Madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray… when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A supernatural creature, of course. If you consider that evolution has confined all our muscular and brain ability in favor of increased longevity (and thereby accumulation of wisdom which is better for our tribe’s survival), my hope is that a supernatural creature would have the ability to unlock those restrictions – mental and muscular – and save me from doom.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

What an interesting thought – memory virginity… putting thoughts back into the (Pandora’s) box… someone should write that book.

I remember loving Bonanza, first time color TV and all the wonderful Colorful World of Disney hours – especially the science ones. I guess I would add the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World and my friend James Burke’s brilliant Connections – these always blew me away.

Seeing one of my favorite films for the first time again – Lawrence of Arabia – on the giant screen, or, indeed, yes, 2001, A Space Odyssey, sitting in the front row, staring up at the screen, being blown away. It was a time of societal “otherness” and 2001 fit the bill perfectly.

On the book front, that is harder. Book memories are always colored by where I read them, and the more thought-provoking titles rarely were a pleasure to read initially, only to savor in the coming months. I suppose I would love to read any of the Dr. Seuss stories for the first time again, there is an innocence there that is still captivating – similarly, I miss Paul Gallico’s “The Hurricane Story” that thrilled me to my core. That I would love to re-experience.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

To be frank, this is about the most fun an author can have – answering serious questions without restriction. Book writing is all about sharing. In my case perhaps a bit too much of a desire to impart what I know before it is all gone… “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” well, perhaps, but if no one ever hears of them, how can they be evident to everyone? It causes me to want to talk too much, makes me feel I am bragging, when in fact I really don’t like to talk about me, I just want to give all this information to people so they can color their own lives the way they want. Book promotion should not be about self-promotion but about imparting the stuff you write about. Sadly, often it is about people only wanting to buddy up to the author – and for that you need to open your sphere and promote yourself – but hopefully as little as possible.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I grew up with the notion of responsibility. Jobs were merely the manifestation of responsibility. Every “job” I have ever had was deeply personal and I attacked each one from that perspective. That includes writing. You want to write? Write, finish. Re-write.

I have a life motto – try and be at the vanguard at least three times in your life.

One of the least rewarding jobs I ever had was like pushing boulders up a huge hill. UCAR set up a team to negotiate, in 1986, to make NASA leave the Shuttle External Tanks in high Earth orbit instead of ditching them in the Indian Ocean. Vast pressurizable islands in space, they could have formed the habitat for space living for centuries to come. I got the program as far as a MOU with NASA and then they pulled the rug – NORAD and others didn’t want more space “junk” floating up there. Three years and countless hours, all for nothing. I put it down to shortsightedness, but the truth was, we tried to get NASA corporate on board before we got Congressional approval and support. That one failure still hurts.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

“Caution: He tries, hard – but means well.”

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Well, it has to be me with John Young the astronaut, America’s first real spaceman. He seems to be a most boring person… totally disinterested in mundane trivia – until you ask him anything about walking on the moon – then his eyes light up, he smiles and won’t (thankfully) stop telling you how great it was, how mind-expanding the new reality to stand on another planetary body… His outpouring was interrupted by fellow spaceman Robert Crippen, in building 2 at JSC where we were editing astronaut’s images, because they had a meeting to go to… my plea, said like a five-year-old, squeaky voice and all, “Please, don’t go! I want to hear more!” John smiled and patted me on the back as he walked out. My face was red for long time.

RivaThePathBook Description for The Path:

All life on earth is about to be terminated by an entity as old as the galaxy itself. To make matters worse, Simon has broken everything already.

In a future world that is run by computer systems and that is without want, how can a man find his role? Then, if the very computers he works on to try to make them more human suddenly try to kill him, revealing a secret so vast that it affects every living soul on the planet, can that man be a hero?

These are the questions that face the stumbling, comic, and certainly flawed Simon Bank. His job is to work with the System’s artificial intelligence, making it fit more perfectly into human society so that it can keep the country running smoothly. But when the System threatens the peaceful world he knows, Simon suddenly must rush to save his own life, as well as the life of everyone on earth. Forced to reassess everything that he thought he knew, he is caught within circumstances way beyond his control.

Simon’s only hope is to rely on intellect and instincts he didn’t know he had, and on new friends, not all of them human, to change himself and all humanity. And he doesn’t have much time.

Buy the book:     Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Indigo/Chapters

Peter Riva AuthorAuthor’s Bio:

Peter Riva has worked for more than thirty years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration. His daytime job for more than forty years has been as a literary agent. He resides in New York City.

Connect with the author:   Website     Twitter     Facebook

There’s plenty of more interviews, guest posts, reviews, and book spotlights on this tour, courtesy of iRead Book Tours. You can check out the tour schedule HERE.


Win 1 of 10 print or audiobook copies of The Path and (2) $25 Amazon gift cards (International)

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The Path by Peter Riva

RivaThePathWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrator: Jonathan Yen

Publisher: Audible Studios (2015)

Length: 11 hours 2 minutes

Author’s Page

It’s a well controlled world with the System in charge of everything from world finances to the weather. Politics is more for entertainment and so the humans can feel like they have a modicum of control than anything else. Skeptical Simon Bank knows this, and like nearly everyone else he knows, he’s OK with that. But then a small tornado hits downtown and it’s too much damage for it to be completely swept under the rug. Plus Simon actually witnessed it and he has the skills and position to figure out what went wrong.

Now the story did hit a slow patch early on. There’s plenty computer geek speak about outdated languages and such. I am pretty sure there were some hidden jokes in there, but they went right over this biologist’s head. I’m glad I stuck with the story because once you get past this slow part, the story picks up. There’s talk about how the human life has been extended hugely and people can have a certain number of biological kids and after that they can special order synth-children. They basically have a pre-programmed end date, but behave and act just like real kids. These bio-tech bits interested me the most.

Simon and a few friends (such as Markerman) suit up and take a dunk in the pool. Mary hangs back outside, ready to assist or pull them out if need be. This is where their special suits allow for a swifter connection with the system, letting them navigate it in an almost Matrix kind of way. Throughout the book, Simon uses this interface a few times and I found the tech to be very interesting. He has to take a certain drug to speed up his nerve response in order to interface with the System via the pool. When someone comes out of the pool, they can let it wear off or take drugs to slow their responses. I do like me some fun and cool tech in my SF stories. And it gets more interesting when Simon comes across an entity within the System. Yep, we’re talking Artificial Intelligence people. Awesome!

Now this new entity at first behaves a little badly and Simon has to think and act quickly to keep his comrades safe. Then the entity kind of clings to Simon. So Simon starts to teach this entity (who we come to know as Apollo) about The Path. Basically, Simon is trying to the teach Apollo some basic rights and wrongs. The Path becomes a subject that is discussed at length at several points throughout the tale. Sometimes the repetition, while realistic for teaching a fledgling entity, slowed the story again.

Now a little oddity is that Apollo has a secret pet name he/it picked out for himself – Peter. Yep, the same name as the author. Whenever an author does this, I get caught up wondering why – Ego? Inside joke? Just for fun? So every time I heard ‘Peter’ in the story I was immediately pulled out the story for a few seconds to contemplate this once again. Basically it was a distraction.

So the tale continues with more action and a deeper worry than the sudden accidental birth of an AI entity. Simon and Apollo have to go into hiding while still trying to figure things out in order to save the world. They have plenty of people after them, most of who want things to remain the status quo. The last quarter of the book was the most entertaining because everything was coming together and there was action. Cramer, and agent of Control, shows up pretty early and is a bit of a wild card. He definitely feels the need to be in control and Simon isn’t sure he can convince Cramer to help him, or at least, to not hinder him. Cramer is also the source of much of the action throughout the tale.

Most of the cast in this story is male. There are a few secondary and tertiary female characters. Mary is the most prominent one and gets to do the most. Even the AI Apollo gets deemed a ‘he’ by Simon. I would have liked a better representation of the ladies.

This book had some pluses and minuses. In the end, I am glad that I stuck with it. The ending is one of those great big concept idea endings. I really enjoyed how we started off with a small localized issue, how it then got bigger, then even bigger, and then the grand finale concept. The author has left the door open for a sequel.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author (via the blog tour company iRead Book tours) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Jonathan Yen did a pretty good job. The entire tale is told from Simon’s point of view so mostly it is his voice we hear. He had a good, distinct voice for Apollo, sounding a bit clipped and proper. There were a few speaking females and Yen’s female voices were distinct and believable.

What I Liked:  Lots of interesting concepts; I liked how one small concept let to a larger one and that one to yet a larger one, etc.; plenty of interesting future tech; eventually Cramer brings the action; the ending is one to make a person think; the cover art.

What I Disliked:  More ladies please!; there were several slow bits in the story that really bogged it down; the use of the author’s first name as a character name kept pulling me out the story – it was a distraction.

What Others Think:


Audiobook Reviewer

The Island of Doctor Moreau (dramatized) by H. G. Wells & Mondello Publishing

WellsTheIslandOfDoctorMoreauDramatizedWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Nathalie Boltt, Matthew Posner, Andrew McGinn, and see the full cast HERE.

Publisher: Mondello Publishing (2014)

Length: 2 hours 47 minutes

Author’s Page

Dr. Edward Prendick finds himself on a plane that is crashing into the sea. Luckily, he survives and is eventually found on his little raft by a passing ship. Dr. Angela Montgomery nurses him around and eventually the ship drops all passengers and their cargo at a little know island. There, Prendick is pulled into a world of animal experiments that will push the boundaries of his moral compass.

This story is told as a series of flashbacks. Prendick lies in a hospital bed recounting his tale to his insistent daughter. Prendick is a mathematician who did some classified work during WWII. He’s a Brit who is still highly respected in his field by both the British and the Americans. Too bad his plane went down. He was believed lost to the world by all but Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Moreau. I was a little surprised by how much of a delicate flower Prendick was. He was usually freaking out about something or making rash decisions. He was a right nuisance on the island, even if he was the only one with what society would call normal morals. Still, he was a great character for Dr. Montgomery to stand beside and appear very reasonable and I think this made the story more intriguing. As a reader, it forced me to slow down on making a judgement and to truly consider the merits of the work of Moreau and Montgomery.

I was surprised how few lines and appearances Dr. Moreau had in this story (or, at least, this rendition of it). After all, he is the master mind behind all this. So while we see little of him, his large ego leaves a lasting impression. He’s playing God with his experiments and he doesn’t hesitate to say so.

As a biologist, I have long been both repulsed and fascinated by the experiments in this story. When Prendick first meets a few of these talking experiments, he thinks they are merely odd, deformed people. Later, he mistakenly believes that Moreau took living men and experimented on them, bringing out animal characteristics. Once he finds out the truth, that Moreau took animals and gave them human characteristics, he calms down a little, at first. The final step in the experiment is a pretty gruesome, painful one, requiring the chosen animal to remain awake and aware. Not all those who live through the experiment appreciate the gifts they have been given.

As you might guess, things start to spiral out of control shortly after Prendick arrives on the island. Part of the reason is that he goes mucking about in a very excitable manner. But, then, Montgomery and Moreau don’t treat all the living experiments with respect either. Then there is the basic nature of the experiments and what will out in time. It was like the perfect storm.

And then we quickly come to the ending which was rather anticlimactic for Moreau and a bit drawn out for Montgomery and Prendick. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more from Moreau over all for the entire story and I was definitely a little sad to have his part of the story come to a swift end. After all, he is the reason, the driving force, for this tale, right? But then I enjoyed having more time with Montgomery and Prendick. From the flashbacks, we obviously know that Prendick makes it off the island alive somehow. It was fun to see how that came about.

While I have enjoyed other HG Wells stories, this was my first time listening to a version of his book The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was not disappointed. All the drama associated with the moral conundrums of the tale was there. Also, I enjoyed the divided loyalties of Dr. Montgomery, who was saved by Dr. Moreau back during WWII, who loves the science of their work, but also has questions. Prendick was somewhat of a spazzing butterfly much of the time, but this personality trait went well with his sheltered, well mannered, bookish mathematician air. I look forward to future Mondello Publishing performances.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher (via the GoodReads Audiobooks Group) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: The performance all around was pretty worthy. Ms. Boltt had a spot on German accent for Montgomery that I really enjoyed. Posner did a great job as the highly excitable Prendick, sounding disturbed throughout the entire performance. I want to say that Jeff Minnerly had a great disgruntled voice for the ship captain and also a perfect mesh of human and monkey for Monkey Man. Bob De Dea did an awesome Hyena Man. There were plenty of animal sounds (screeches, grunts, cries, hyena laughs, etc.) throughout the performance and my hat’s off to that – well done! There was some exciting music in between scenes that I enjoyed, keeping the scene shifts clear to me as the listener. Most of the sound effects were great. There were a handful that took me an extra second or two to identify, but that is my only little quibble on the performance. 

What I Liked: The moral conundrums of the story; the interesting mixes of human and animal and how they turn out; Montgomery’s torn allegiances; the cover art; excellent performance.

What I Disliked: I wanted a bit more of Dr. Moreau. When his part of the story came to an end, I didn’t have any real emotional reaction because he had such a small part in the tale.

What Others Think:

J. Barron Owens


Anne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxAndTheTroubleOnChromiusWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Narrators: Claudia Christian, Patricia Tallman, and you can see the complete cast list HERE.

Publisher: Radio Repertory Co. of America (2003)

Orchestral score & Sound mixing: Angelo Panetta

Length: 1 hour 47 minutes

Series: Book 3 Anne Manx

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Did you know Anne Manx has a terrible fear of drowning?  Well, that’s how this tale starts out, along with her rescue. Unfortunately, her rescuer is swiftly dispatched and before Anne knows it, she is swept up into the political intrigue that has long been brewing on the backwater world of Chromius. There, tyranny has gained a stranglehold and a few citizens are pushing back for justice, or, at least, the right to eat dinner without being under surveillance.

Plenty of people will attempt to kill Anne in this story but she is not likely to make it easy for them. Once on Chromius, she is joined by Archie who she hires as a tour guide while she snoops around. The quick and witty word play between these two often had me chuckling. Archie has his reasons for not showering or brushing his hair or living in clean environs. Of course, these are all a part of his charm….. and why he can be easily spotted across the room.

As Anne digs into the political mud slinging, she comes across a prostitution ring that services various politicians. She begs with Wendy for info while promising to protect her and help her get into some other line of work. Wendy isn’t quick to trust and Anne must use her wits and keep digging. Once Wendy is thrown into the mix, there’s some adult humor tossed in that added to my chuckling. I especially liked Archie’s repeated question of ‘What did she mean by ‘in between’?’ Obviously, the poor guy was distracted by the few details he got concerning a prostitute’s regular business.

So, there is a bit of a mystery here as well, which gives Anne, our galactic private eye, something to do. Folks have been killed and some other folks are trying to kill Anne. At first, it looks like a pretty straight forward deal. I did not see the ending coming and I was pleasantly surprised by this twist to the mystery.

Over all, this was another great addition to the Anne Manx series. Honestly, this may be my favorite yet. The dialogue was tight, the humor had an edge to it, the plot was a little more complex than some of the other stories, and Anne is just such an enjoyable character to follow around.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

The Narration: The voice acting was great, as I have come to expect from RRCA. I can just picture the facial expressions on the characters via the dialogue. Also, the sound effects are sharp and clear (I can identify them right away) and they never drown out the dialogue. I also like the bits of music tossed in. Oh, and Anne singing in the shower was a nice little bonus for us fans. 

What I Liked: The dialogue was quick, humorous, well timed; the plot had an excellent twist at the end; I now know Anne is afraid of water; Archie and his aversion to neat & tidy; the adult humor; the voice acting, sound effects, and bits of music were all great; the cover art. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – This was a most excellent book!

What Others Think:

SFF Audio