The American Fathers: Emperor by Henry L. Sullivan III

Narrators: Adrianne Cury, Karin Anglin, Kevin TheisAmro Salama, Antonio Castillo, Jeff Cummings, Scott Duff, Steve Downes, and Tony Dobrowolski

Publisher: Sullivan Serials (2017)

Length: 3 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 4 The American Fathers

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works well as a stand alone, though it is definitely enhanced by enjoying the first 3 episodes previously. However, if you do pick this up as a stand alone, you might want to check out the glossary first to pick up some of the lingo, characters, and overall atmosphere of the series. For the audiobook, this glossary starts at the 2 hours 41 minutes mark and lasts just over 20 minutes.

Set in 2032, Victor Daco is at the height of his career, being America’s king in all but name and official letterhead. He’s been the power behind this New Rule movement for decades, setting up this rulership step by step. Now he just has to crush the POP Watchers, a hacktivist resistance group, and have the US President sign the final piece of legislation that will allow him total authority.

This is the book I had been waiting for in this series, the tale that ties all four stories together. The history of how the ruling Houses came into being is clearly laid out, past characters (such as Victor’s daughter Irene) are mentioned or brought into play, and the entire story arc moves forward a bit as Victor’s enemies circle him like waiting sharks.

My one quibble is that the female characters aren’t particularly important to the plot as they were in the first 2 books. Natalia, Irene’s mom, has the most lines. She is clever and elegant but nearly all of her role is to comfort Victor even as she builds up or reigns in his ego. I think she has more to give and I’m doubtful we will get to see that in future installments.

The science fiction bits were great. I love Victor’s chosen mode of transport, all the corporate spying that goes on, and cyber enhancements the rich can obtain. While I did like Victor’s fancy suit of armor, I felt the story was a little rushed in taking us from Victor the Ruthless Businessman to Victor the Iron Man. The story spends plenty of time on the political intrigue (which I like) but I would like to see this level of detail in Victor’s character arc as well.

Hispanic US President – yay! I quite love the multi-ethnic character list this series continues with. Take Victor’s college nemesis, an Arab royal, into account as well because Victor hasn’t made note of him, a failure he will regret. There’s a solid ending to this installment though I do wonder where the author will take the series from here. I expect Big Things to come about from the events of this book.

I received a free copy this book.

The Narration: The audio production and narration for this series continues to be excellent. The full cast provides a range of distinct voices for the characters. There’s also sound effects that enhance the story instead of distracting from it. I especially liked the use of this heavy metal music for this particular scene; it wasn’t loud enough to drown out the story but it was prevalent enough to make me believe the characters were having a hard time with the volume.

What I Liked: Great narration; Victor Daco is an interesting characters; his story arc from college student to the New Rule to his current high station; all the SF bits; the ending of this installment of the series.

What I Disliked: The ladies aren’t nearly as important in this part of the tale as they were for Books 1 and 2.

Apex Magazine Short Fiction Podcasts #11-15

Smudge kitty

Apex Magazine regularly puts out a podcast that features short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Below are my reviews more of the podcasts. You can find all their podcasts HERE. Podcast #11 was narrated by Windy Bowlsby, Lolly Foy, Tim Wick. Windy also narrated #12,13, and 15. Chikodili Emelumadu narrated #14. Apex Magazine is currently doing a Subscription Drive through April 17, 2017 and they have plenty of interesting bookish things up for grabs – autographed books, postcards, the entire Apex Magazine ever, even knitted hats. Yes. I bought a signed copy of The Buried Life by Carrie Patel and it’s already here! Knitted. Podcasts 1-5 are reviewed over HERE. Podcasts 6-10 are reviewed over HERE.

Podcast #11: Not Smart, Not Clever by E. Saxey

This was a clever little piece, being about 30 minutes long. Four university students spend a lot of time and effort on faking their essays instead of writing them. There’s some neat cyberpunkish tech too. The main character, Lynn, tells most of the story. Barb freaks out often, scared she’ll get caught. Zack, Lynn’s nerdy boyfriend, is a nice addition to the mix. A few sound effects were mixed in though I wasn’t sure about this particular one – was it to indicate chatting over a phone or was there suppose to be rain in the background? The mixed narration (3 narrators) was smoothly done. I felt they were all in the same room during the recording.

Podcast # 12: Soul of Soup Bones by Crystal Lynn Hilbert

Wow! Just simply wow! This was a fascinating and elegantly written short story about necromancers. It made me hungry. Yep. That’s right. I wanted to be cooking right alongside the two main characters. I love how the story wound me up just as Adrienne was winding herself up. She’s so frustrated that she cant find the key to the spell. She put a lot of effort into finding the bones of that necromancer and still no answers were forthcoming. At least until later in the story. But I will leave that for you to discover. The narration was very good on this production. I think the narrator also enjoyed the tale. ~20 minutes long.

Podcast #13: The Food in the Basement by Laura Davy

This is a deliciously creepy story about a vampire and the human he feeds on. I love the way the vampire is described in this story. Kaden is something otherworldly when he’s feeding. It was a good ending too. I’m all for the chinchilla having a good home. The narration was excellent. ~16 minutes long.

Podcast #14: Juniper and Gentian by Erik Amundsen

This was a complex bit of science fiction. I liked it but I think I would have appreciated it more if I had eyeball read it, or perhaps I should listen to it twice to catch all the nuances. Gentian (Gen) is a spaceship, I think, and is sentient to a point; or, rather, she is sentient in a way that we can barely comprehend. Anyways, there’s lots of beautiful prose and imagery in this little tale. The narration was also good even though I don’t think English was the first language of the narrator. Her voice lent an foreignness to Gentian which definitely added to the story. ~18 minutes long.

Podcast #15: Economies of Force by Seth Dickinson

~37 minutes long. It’s an interesting piece. In a world where everyone’s tendencies, words, and mannerisms are monitored by a much removed automated system, there are those that strive to break out of the normal mode and be individuals. However, this often results in catastrophe for those individuals and small groups. Even so, there are a few brave souls that document the drone raids and the random executions. This is a food for thought story. The narration was also quite good for this tale.

Apex Magazine Short Fiction Podcasts #6-10

Apex Magazine regularly puts out a podcast that features short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Below are my reviews more of the podcasts. Podcasts 1-5 are reviewed over HERE. You can find all their podcasts HERELynne M. Thomas narrates Podcast #6. Podcasts #7, #8, #9, and #10 are narrated by Windy Bowlsby. Apex Magazine is currently doing a Subscription Drive and they have plenty of interesting bookish things up for grabs – autographed books, postcards, the entire Apex Magazine ever, even knitted hats. Yes. Knitted.

Podcast #6: What You’ve Been Missing by Maria Dahvana Headley

Betty’s husband is losing it. Somewhere, there’s hooves beating upon waves and it seems he’s the only one who can hear them. Wow! This was an intense story. It’s sadly sweet with a touch of magic to it as well. ~19 minutes long. The narrator did a good job with this one, especially portraying the emotions of the frustrated man.

Podcast # 7: Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon

In 30 minutes, Vernon has painted a desert full of magical beings. The story focuses on the jackalope wives. They dance to firelight and their grace and alien beauty attract Granma’s reckless grandson. Pretty soon, damage is done and it’s up to Granma to fix it. This was an elegant piece that says so much in a short amount of time. Being a desert dweller myself, I really liked the jackalopes with their little horns. Granma is the unsung hero of this tale. The narration was very good complete with various character voices.

Podcast #8: Maria and the Pilgrim by Rich Larson

This is another excellent podcast. Set in a small village, the pilgrim is coming and all the villagers give thanks to Jesus. There’s little hints along the way that the ‘pilgrim’ isn’t what the villagers think he is. The villagers themselves, including young Maria, all have an odd but important mutation. It’s simply an excellent story. The narration was very good on this one. There’s a variety of character voices and Bosby performs both male and female voices very well. ~30 minutes.

Podcast #9: Waking by Cat Hellisen

This is an eerie story about angels. In fact, I’m not convinced they are angels but the people in the story have no better name for them. From the sky, silent and unmoving, they would expire shortly upon touching the earth. Three siblings may be the key to understanding them. It’s an interesting little piece. I feel it ends a bit too early as I really wanted to see where things go from there. I will have to look up the author and see if she ever built upon this tale. The narration was really good. I liked the kid and teen voices used for the characters. ~30 minutes.

Podcast #10: Repairing the World by John Chu

This story took a little bit for me to understand what was going on. Set in a world where men and women, for the most part, have distinct roles in society, Lila and Bridger break some of those societal rules. Lila repairs rifts between worlds and actually attends university – very unladylike! I really enjoyed her character and could feel her frustration at being hampered by society believing that women were unfit for certain duties. Meanwhile, Bridger is a linguist, which is a pretty mighty job as there are plenty of people popping in and out of their rift-torn world that need to communicate. Bridger also prefers the company of men but he lives in a world where homosexuality is an arrestable offence. Once I got into the story, I was caught up in these two main characters. It’s them that pulled me and wouldn’t let me leave their tale until it was over. The narration was great on this one. Bridger sounded like the big moody, gruff guy he was. Lila sounded a little precocious as she worked hard to keep her job. ~30 minutes long.

Apex Magazine Short Fiction Podcasts #1-5

Apex Magazine regularly puts out a podcast that features short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Below are my reviews of the first few podcasts. You can find all their podcasts HERE. The narrator for all five is Lynne M. Thomas.

Podcast #1: If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky

Coming in at just over 5 minutes long, this short piece poses the question of how life might be if your lover was a dino. What shape they would take, how the lovers’ lives would be spent, and how their relationship would bolster science to new heights of bio-engineering. I loved how the author didn’t try to sugar coat what living with a dino would mean. It’s a meat eater. There might be a little gore. It was a fun piece and the narrator did a good job.

Podcast #2: The Face of Heaven So Fine by Kat Howard

In this short fiction (~5 minutes), Rose explores her curiosity about Juliet. It gives new meanings to both ‘love token’ and also ‘lover’s mark’. This luscious little tale shines a new light on love lost. The narration has a few mouth noises but the piece was so engaging I didn’t mind.

Podcast #3: Someone Like You by Margaret Ronald

Oooo! If you enjoyed Peter Clines’ The Fold then you will appreciate this nearly 12 minute long story. Asim and Athnay (I apologize if I have butchered character names) are two scientists working on a project that could change the world. However, a little glitch, something unexpected happens and a second chance is born. The ending was a little poignant, giving weight to the tale. The narrator did a good job.

Podcast #4: Becca at the End of the World by Shira Lipkin

This is a touching story about the end of the world via zombie apocalypse. A mother and daughter share some touching moments together. In only ~9 minutes, Ms. Lipkin managed to squeeze a sympathetic tear out of me. This little tale pulls on the heart strings. Excellent job by the narrator – no mouth sounds and she has clear, distinct voices for the the two characters. She was also excellent at portraying the emotions of the characters.

Podcast #5 This Is a Ghost Story by Keffy R. M. Kehrli

In 16 minutes, the author covers some serious ground. From protests to suicide to commercialism to unrealized dreams. It’s a piece that stirs the blood and makes one wonder where their inner rebel went. There is a cat in the background during this narration and its meows kept on tricking me and my cats. This gave me a chuckle. The narrator did a great job giving attitude at all the right places.

The American Fathers: Escape from New Orleans by Henry L. Sullivan III

SullivanEscapeFromNewOrleansNarrators: Adrianne Cury, Cameron KnightJennie Moreau, Juan Francisco Villa, Kevin Theis, Rebecca Cox

Publisher: Sullivan Serials (2016)

Length: 1 hour 13 minutes

Series: Book 3 The American Fathers

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works well as a stand alone, though it is definitely enhanced by enjoying the first 2 episodes previously. However, if you do pick this up as a stand alone, you might want to check out the glossary first to pick up some of the lingo, characters, and overall atmosphere of the series. For the audiobook, this glossary starts at the 59 minutes 20 seconds mark and lasts just over 14 minutes.

Devin Wayne is a hunted man and he doesn’t know it yet. He’s just waking up to another day in the near-future New Orleans that is complete with AI, coffee, and annoying yet loyal friends. Mike has unexpectedly stopped by Devin’s hotel room and Devin, always on the edge, nearly took Mike for an assassin. Devin isn’t far off the mark because Mike is there to deliver some bad news: a hit has been taken out on Devin and one of the most skilled assassin’s in the trade as been hired.

This addition to the series is quite different from Books 1 and 2. While Swept Away and Dinner Invitation were more cerebral and full of political intrigue, this book is all action. It starts with Devin pouncing on the unexpected Mike to their attempt to escape New Orleans to the cat and mouse game Devin and MCM play throughout the rest of the book. Also, there’s no sex. Still, even though this book has a totally different tone, it is still pretty darn good.

There’s a decent amount of future tech built into this tale. I loved the vehicle AIs and all the stuff that can go wrong with such things. Then Devin, who is a highly skilled operative, has some tricks up his sleeve for evading MCM. Yet not to be outdone, MCM has some tracking gadgets that Devin and Mike weren’t expecting.

The action rolls in waves throughout the book so I never got battle fatigue from the story. Things start off mellow with Devin waking up and then he goes on high alert as he tackles an unexpected Mike. Things mellow out again as the two men catch up and then things peak again with the first attack from MCM. This really worked for me because I don’t need one adrenaline rush after another in my stories.

The banter between the two men was very amusing. They obviously have a long history and have built up this trusting friendship over time. Like Mike, I was hoping just a little that Devin would describe some of his intimate moments with his girlfriend Irene Daco (who we met in Book 2) but I can respect a person who doesn’t kiss and tell. I do want to know more about MCM and if this episode will be the last we see of this assassin.

While this episode of the series had a nearly all-male cast, it balances out well with the series as a whole. The female characters were definitely the stars for the first two episodes. Now we’ve seen that Sullivan can do action scenes as well as he does political intrigue and sexy relationships. All around, I’m impressed. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

I received a free copy this book.

The Narration: The quality of this series continues to be top rate. The vocal narrations are well done, each character being well cast. I especially liked Devin’s voice, being a rich manly voice. Mike was playful and impertinent and I could just picture the impish grin on the narrator’s face as he performed this character. There’s a handful of other voices throughout the story and I really liked the New Orleans accent some of these characters had. Sound effects and background music complete the experience. These are well timed and also don’t compete with the narration, which remained crisp and clear throughout.

What I Liked: Future tech stuff; plenty of action; some humor as well; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was an excellent story!

Giveaway & Interview: Heather Henderson, Narrator of The Egg and I

Everyone, please welcome Heather Henderson to the blog today. I really enjoyed her narration of the classic The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. A big thank you to Jess at The Audio Book Worm for setting up this book tour. Swing by the tour page to catch more interviews, reviews, giveaways, and audio excerpts. If your interested in the giveaway (and who wouldn’t be?), scroll to the very bottom to learn how to win an Amazon GC, or credit at Post Hypnotic Press (audiobooks, yay!). On to the interview!

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?

Actually, in thinking about this question, I came up with a cool idea (well, I think it’s cool!).   I would invite a group of my friends who are audiobook narrators, and I would ask each of them to bring a book to discuss that he or she had narrated.

I thought of this because narrators’ experience of books is so much different from that of readers or even listeners.  No matter how well I might know a book in print, when I perform it, I learn all these new things about its style, cadence, rhythm, syntax — new layers of meaning and technique.

Narrators live in these books for weeks, as we prep (pre-read and study) the script, figure out how to perform the author’s intention, decide how we are going to do each character and accent, research pronunciations . . . And then we go into the studio and record every word, every sentence for hours and hours a day for a week (or three, depending on the book).  I think it would be fascinating to hear other narrators share what they have learned about an author or a book through narrating it.

For our first meeting, I would bring Betty MaDonald’s Anybody Can Do Anything (the third in her memoirs series that I narrated, and I think my favorite of the four).  I would invite . . . well, I wouldn’t know where to start.  We narrators are spread all over the world, and sometimes the only time we see each other is at conferences, so I would want to see all them.  Off the top of my head: Judith West, Cassandra Campbell, Hillary Huber, Scott Brick, Johnny Heller, Grover Gardner, Andi Arnt (who would keep us all in stitches), Xe Sands, Elizabeth Wiley, Ann Richardson, Simon Vance . . . .

Oh, forget it: I couldn’t possibly choose!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to voice acting/narrating?

The worst job I ever had ever was through a temp agency in 1978, in the days before computers or even copy machines that collated for you . . . read on:  I was sent to a company that made utility boxes for electric companies — you know, those bland green things on street corners?  This company designed a whole range of shapes and sizes of these boxes (who knew?), and they needed me to collate their 12-page catalog.  I spent two weeks, eight hours a day, taking one page from each 12 piles and stapling it into a catalog, over and over again.  It was absolutely silent in there all day.  If only Walkmans had been invented — I could have listened to music, or an audiobook!

Voice acting — especially audiobook narrating — is on the other end of the spectrum.   It is all kinds of things: incredibly technically difficult, exhausting, rewarding, and exhilarating, intellectually stimulating.  It challenges all of my training in theater and voice, is wonderfully creative.  And I get to work with wonderful people — and with books!

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite heroes from the pages?

Iago (from Shakespeare’s Othello) comes to mind as the worst villain.  I think it’s because he’s so intentional about doing evil, and he does it parasitically, through Othello.  Othello is one of the most kind, intelligent, loving characters in Shakespeare, but Iago manages to get to him.

Heroes:  Jane Eyre.  She has a heart willing to give everything, but she’s made of steel.  She speaks her mind, and she insists that everyone around her live up to her high standards of honesty and authenticity.

You are co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. What is the toughest accent for most American voice actors to do well?

That absolutely depends on the actor.  I honestly could not identify a single accent that “most” actors struggle with.  We all have natural abilities with some and not with others, and we have all gotten different training.

A tougher challenge, especially for less experienced narrators, is not to overdo an accent.  You don’t have to speak East Indian like a native — you just have to sound like an Indian who is speaking English with an Indian accent.  Otherwise you’ll come off like Apu from The Simpsons (which Hank Azaria does brilliantly — but that’s a whole different kind of character voice and voiceover specialty).

I worked really hard on this balance when I was narrating the character of Kimi in The Plague and I (Betty MacDonald’s third memoir).  Kimi is Betty’s Japanese-born best friend, and her dialogue is written with a pretty strong Japanese accent.  But I didn’t want to make her sound like, you know, Mickey Rooney doing Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  I did many takes of Kimi’s lines as I recorded the book — I’d do sentences over until they sounded natural enough to my ear.

On AudioEloquence, we list two types of resources: pronunciation sites and dialect/accent sites.  The pronunciation sites are the most valuable part to most people, I think.  You would not believe how many words you need to research when you have to say every single one of them correctly — character names place names, technical terms, sci-fi character names . . . etc.  If you go onto AudioEloquence.com, you can see what I mean — we have resources for pronunciation sites on everything from music to microbiology to Alaska towns.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

For some reason, all the people who come to mind for this question are not fictional — they’re authors.  They would be:

1)  Robert Heinlein.  I met him at a Star Trek conference in 1976 (yes, you heard that right), and he was so sweet and interesting that I always wanted to get to know him better!

2) Betty MacDonald, of course.  When you read The Egg and I and her other memoirs, you feel like she could be your most loyal and hilarious BFF.

3)  Charlotte Brontë.  I would love to meet the woman who created that amazing character of Jane Eyre.

4)  M. Wylie Blanchet.  She wrote one of my favorite books, which I was fortunate enough to be able to narrate: The Curve of Time.

5)  Alice Hoffman.  I like to imagine that we could have tea and do magic spells together.  🙂

What is the first book you remember reading on your own? And what is the first book you narrated professionally?

I have no idea what the first book I ever read was.  As soon I learned to read (via Dick and Jane books in first grade — I clearly remember that), I read so constantly that it’s all a blur.  On more than one report card, I had the teacher comment, “Heather must stop reading during class and pay attention.”  🙂

The first book I narrated professionally was a wonderful young adult fiction, Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney, produced by Audible Studios.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, the final book in the Betty MacDonald memoirs series — Onions in the Stew — is just about to be released, which means that the whole set will now be available in audio for the first time ever!

The back-story to this is that I had been searching my whole career to find a producer who would collaborate with me on pulling this classic series out of obscurity.  Most of the book jobs I do are new releases, and I don’t choose them — I get asked to do them by audiobook publishers.  But I had a dream of narrating Betty MacDonald’s humorous memoirs (published betwen 1945 and 1955), because they are some of my favorite books ever.  There are four: The Egg and I, The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew.  Finally, I found Carlyn Craig, who owns Post Hypnotic Press . . . and my dream came true.

About Heather Henderson:

NarratorHeatherHendersonHeather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts.  Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire;  and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine.   She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry.  In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

Connect with the narrator: Website ~ YouTube ~LinkedIn

MacDonaldTheEggAndISynopsis of The Egg and I:

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall – through chaos and catastrophe – this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor.

A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on the American frontier.

Audible        Amazon

About the Author Betty MacDonald:

AuthorBettyMacDonaldBetty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters. 

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island). 

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

Find out more on Wikipedia

Connect with the Publisher Post Hypnotic Press

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ YouTube ~ LinkedIn ~ SoundCloud ~ Pinterest

GIVEWAYS!!!

There are 4 different giveaways for this tour. You can enter any of them or all of them. These giveaways are hosted by The Audiobookworm and the prizes provided by the publisher. Enjoy!

Giveaway 1: Grand Prize! $100 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and I Grand Prize

Giveaway 2: $80 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and I Runner Up

Giveaway 3: $60 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and 2nd Runner Up

Giveaway 4: $20 Amazon Gift Card

The Egg and I 3rd Runner Up

The American Fathers: Dinner Invitation by Henry L. Sullivan III

SullivanDinnerInvitationNarrators: Adrianne Cury, Amy MontgomeryFawzia Mirza, Cameron KnightJennie Moreau, Juan Francisco Villa, Karin Anglin, Kevin Theis

Publisher: Sullivan Serials (2016)

Length: 1 hour 56 minutes

Series: Book 2 The American Fathers

Author’s Page

Note: Since this is Book 2 in the series, it is better (though not absolutely necessary) to have read Book 1, Swept Away, before reading this book.

Once again, we return to the near future America, where powerful houses run the country from behind the scenes. Irene Daco, the first American dynastic princess, is a current hot topic. Sheila, a smart academic who believes the dynastic houses will ruin the country, has been swept up into an undefined relationship with the mysterious Jasira, a congressional correspondent. Now Sheila is offered a dinner date with this dynastic princess and she’s tempted to go.

It’s been over a year since Book 1 came out in audiobook format, but this sequel was worth the wait. I think it’s even a little better than Book 1 (which I really enjoyed). First, my little criticism about the lack of cutting edge tech in Book 1 has been blown away by the wonderful tech integrated into the story here in Book 2. I can’t tell you all the awesome stuff going on in this book because that would be spoilery, but I was definitely impressed with the cutting edge tech and how it added to the ambiance of the story. I will say one thing: artificial intelligence. Yay!

Jasira and Sheila continue to be my favorite characters. Sheila is so open and straight forward, perhaps even a little naive in some ways. Jasira is full of grace and mystery and I can’t tell what her motives are, but I do hope she’s on the side of good. The chemistry between these two was sweet and intense in Book 1 and it continues to be intense in Book 2. The love scene was fantastic – detailed, hot, and charming all at the same time.

Irene Daco plays an important role in this story and she isn’t what I was expecting. I was glad that we finally get to meet someone from one of the big American dynastic houses. Sheila has pre-formed ideas about Irene and I think that’s going to be hard to shake. Yet I have faith in Sheila because she’s a fair person… and yet I also worry that someone is trying to trick her. Perhaps we’ll find out in the next episode which way that will fall out. This book does end on a little cliffhanger, so that’s another reason to look forward to Book 3.

Just as an side note, I want to give this story credit for bringing the Peters map into play. It’s difficult to portray the Earth accurately on a flat surface and the Peters map shows land area correctly, which looks a bit different from the maps we typically see in American school systems. The conversation between Sheila and Jasira about Sheila’s work on the dynastic houses was pretty intense, and the Peters map was the perfect comparison.

Over all, this is a smart and sexy story and I really enjoyed this second installment. I’m definitely looking forward to what the author will do next with this tale!

I received a free copy this book.

The Narration: The audio experience continues to be excellent. The ladies performing Sheila and Jasira do an incredible job – the accents and emotional inflections are spot on. Also, the love scene is so well done I have to wonder if there’s real chemistry between the performers. All the character voices are distinct. The production includes ambient sounds to add to the over all experience, never drowning out the dialogue. Just a quality production all around.

What I Liked: Political intriuge; to trust or not to trust; Jasira and Sheila continue to captivate; Irene Daco; the love scene; the AI; the cliffhanger – I need more!; great narration and sound effects.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was an excellent story!

Anne Manx and the Empress Blair Project by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxAndTheEmpressBlairProjectWhere I Got It: A review copy

Narrators: Claudia Christian, Elle Muth, Robin Atkin Downes, Tom Dheere, and you can see the complete cast list HERE.

Publisher: Radio Repertory Co. of America (2009)

Original Score: Angelo Panetta

Length: 1 hour 56 minutes

Series: Book 5 Anne Manx

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 5 in the series, it works just fine as a standalone.

Empress Blair of planet Iaranix (spelling?) just lost her father to assassination. A political group on planet Anyu is thought to be behind it, but no one is sure. Empress Blair needs a bodyguard, one that doesn’t have any preconceived ties to her enemies. Anne Manx, one of the best private investigators around, is on vacation and plans to keep it that way. Alas, Empress Blair makes her case to her and Anne agrees to the job. As she delves into the messy, back-stabbing, double-crossing politics of the situation, it becomes hard to tell friend from foe. For example, there’s Mr. Logan. Just who hired him and where his loyalties lie are a mystery.

Once again, I have dived back into the world of Anne Manx. I do so adore this series. It’s science fiction and humor with a little sexy thrown in. Anne’s humor with the young 17-year-old Empress Blair is very amusing. There’s a little adult humor between the two and one scene with a personal item that had me chuckling into my morning tea. Then Mr. Logan gets tossed into the mix and the humor goes up a notch. He’s got this special power to hypnotize almost anyone. Sometimes he gets creative and brawls break out. He and Anne hit it off by showing off their warrior skills to one another, and then trying out their sexytime skills.

As always, the plot is fast moving, the witty banter can be lightning speed, and the characters tricksy. Someone is always double crossing someone else. Anne is on the look out, having been burnt before. Yet Mr. Logan’s loyalties remain a mystery until the end. I really liked all the double and triple deals, all the scheming. Everyone seems to have a secret agenda, except for Ann herself who just wants to finish the job and get back to her vacation.

When all is said and done, when the body count has been tallied, I find this to be one of the best additions to the series. Perhaps I have said that about each story. Truly, this is one of the best sci-fi humor series out there, with a great cast and wonderful music and sound effects. Now that I have completed all the Ann Manx audiobooks to date, I hope RRCA decides to create more such works in the Anne Manx universe. You can now catch some of the Anne Manx books and other RRCA works on Audible, free, if you have a subscription via their Members Fantasy Channel.

I received a copy of this audiobook free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Once again, RRCA brought together a great group of voice actors and the Panetta studio. I really liked Elle Muth’s Empress Blair – she comes off as everyone’s best friend with gentle humor. Robin Atkin Downes had a great sexy voice for Mr. Logan –  sometimes all business and sometimes all seduction. As always, Claudia Christian makes a great Anne Manx. I love her sarcastic humor and willingness to kick butt first and ask questions later. Bob Arsena was a great drunk General Hawks. And while it was a very small part, Raini the singer was a great humorous addition! The sound effects and music never drown out the dialogue and greatly add to the story. That joke about Empress Blair’s massage device would not be nearly so funny without the sound effects. 

What I Liked: Witty banter all the way through the story; Empress Blair and her friendly save the whales attitude; drunk General Hawks; Anne Manx’s physical competition with Mr. Logan and the sparks that creates; everyone is double crossing someone; great sound effects and music; the adult humor; gorgeous cover art. 

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

The Book of Jordan by Jeremy Michael Joseph

JosephTheBookOfJordanWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jeremy Michael Joseph

Publisher: Jeremy Michael Joseph (2016)

Length: 31 minutes

Author’s Page

This interesting little piece starts off as a creation myth and I was caught up in it. Honestly, I didn’t know if this story would be my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it. The creation myth is thoughtful and inventive and involves both genders.

Jordan and Sun have kids – Bird, Thunder, Wind, Ocean, Night. Again and again, this family meets with tragedy, destroying each other. For example, Thunder reincarnates as a religious warrior over and over again. Night is known for eating people. The reincarnation swaps genders, skin color, religions, cultures, etc. I really liked this aspect of the tale because it makes it inclusive of everyone. We all have something to contribute and we all could do better at how we treat others.

The tale moves from a creation myth into a parable. There’s bits about reincarnation and why it’s important to treat people good even if they are opposed to you in some things. The final part asks people to reflect on being reincarnated into less lucky circumstances. While the story does get just a touch preachy at the end, it doesn’t link itself back to any particular belief system. Plenty of food for thought here, but also just an interesting little creation story.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Jeremy Michael Joseph has a good cadence, giving it the sound of an important tale. Dramatic music plays in the background but never drowns out the dialogue. I felt that Joseph was passionate about the story but not overwhelming the tale either.

What I Liked: Interesting creation myth; the characters cross all genders, cultures, religions, etc.; reincarnation parable; good narration.

What I Disliked: The tale gets just a touch preachy at the end but I can forgive this because I enjoyed the rest of the tale quite a bit.

Anne Manx on Amazonia by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxOnAmazoniaWhere I Got It: Review copy

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

Publisher: Radio Repertory Co. of America (2005)

Original Orchestral Score: Angelo Panetta

Length: 1 hour 59 minutes

Series: Book 4 Anne Manx

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works just fine as a standalone.

 

I return once again to the world of Anne Manx! This time, the rightful heir to the Amazonian throne seeks her aid. The planet of Amazonia has been peacefully ruled for generations by the Queen, who raises up a clone of herself as heir to the throne every several decades. However, the current Queen’s first clone was imperfect and she was discarded. A second clone has been raised to take the Queen’s place when the time comes. Meanwhile the first clone was adopted by a poor woman who named her Spunky. Now Spunky Brandburn seeks out the diamonds that are needed to run the cloning machine, the only machine that might fix her imperfections.

Jean Richmond returns to the series! I first met Jean Richmond in an off-shoot story, Jean Richmond Smokes a Joint, and then again in the early Anne Manx books. I have a bit of a girl crush on her. I know, she’s the evil one but I can’t help enjoying her character so much! Now she’s here causing havoc and entertaining me. Her presence does bring up the memory of loss for our hero Anne Manx and Anne wants her incarcerated or dead, understandably so. I really enjoy the dynamic between these two ladies.

Spunky Brandburn was an amusing character most of the time. Sometimes her personality was just a touch too much. She had some great lines though. Spunky is borderline mentally deficient, so her character gets to say some odd things that come across as amusing instead of as offensive. Spunky is a kind-hearted soul that has trouble seeing evil in anyone and I couldn’t help but root for her.

The heart of this story is good overthrowing evil but because of the cloned royal family thing going on, it’s a bit more complicated. Then there’s the stolen diamonds to deal with, even if they were stolen for a decent cause. This book had a few twists I wasn’t expecting and I loved that one of the main characters was handicapped. Science fiction in general could use more such diversity.

The trademark humor of this series is on full display. Double entendres had me chuckling through my hot tea (poor computer keyboard!). A chunk of the humor is definitely intended for adult audiences though there’s no descriptive sex or such. I think teens would be fine with it and this book would probably give them a good example of what witty adult humor looks like.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Once again, the performances all around were excellent. Claudia Christian will forever be the voice of Anne Manx in my head. Patricia Tallman’s enjoyment in the role as Jean Richmond comes through clearly. Barbara Harris pulled double duty as both Spunky and the Queen of Amazonia. It’s amazing how different the two characters were and Harris performed both quite well. There’s a slew of other voice actors picking up the smaller roles and it was great to have such different character voices. The music and sound effects were put to good use, adding drama and tension, yet never drowning out the dialogue.

What I Liked: Jean Richmond returns!; Anne Manx is always a favorite; Spunky has a handicap but does well nonetheless; great cover art; excellent narration and sound track; a few unexpected twists. 

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

What Others Think:

SFF Audio