Interview: Jake Urry, Narrator of Shadows of Tomorrow

MeatsShadowsOfTomorrowEveryone, please welcome Jake Urry to the blog today. I really enjoyed his narration of The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry. Today, we’re here to promote his latest narration, Shadows of Tomorrow by Jessica Meats. 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, spotlights, and audio excerpts. On to the interview!

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved amount of attention?

I think that although the genre is very popular with a lot of people, Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels can often be disregarded as ‘all being the same’ by many readers who haven’t tried them, and won’t because they think they’ll be reading about wizards and aliens that they can’t relate to. I think if more people tried an occasional new Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel they’d be surprised at the diversity of the stories and the legions of complex and relatable characters!

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

I spent a short time (that felt like a lifetime) in a factory assembling cosmetic displays, which involved the same mindless repetitive tasks day in and day out. One of my final jobs there was gluing tiny rubber feet on to thousands of Hello Kitty nail varnish holders. I was very happy to say ‘Bye Bye Kitty’ when the time came. Voice acting in complete contrast is different every day, challenging, more fun and most importantly lets me use my imagination!

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

The 1975 animation of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island is something that terrified and enthralled me as a child and has stayed with me ever since. There have been a lot of live action versions but I think the animation is the best. I’m also partial to Nick Park’s claymation classic Chicken Run, as a re-imagining of The Great Escape. I don’t mind admitting I think it’s a glorious piece of cinema.

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

‘If sleeping, wake me up at your own peril’

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

Miss Mowcher from David Copperfield
Gandalf from LotR
Dumbledore from Harry Potter
Winston Smith from 1984
Captain Ahab from Moby Dick

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I tend to do things in the wrong order).

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

I’ll be taking part in Mystery and Thriller Week in February (12th-22nd), it’s shaping up to be awesome with a lot of authors and contributors involved! Check it out here – https://mysterythrillerweek.com

Thank you for having me over on your lovely blog!

JakeUrryNarratorAbout Jake Urry:

Jake Urry is a British actor and audiobook narrator, and also co-founder of Just Some Theatre. Since graduating from an Acting degree course in 2012 he’s toured with Just Some Theatre as an actor and producer, worked on a number of commercial voice over projects and most recently started producing Audiobooks. Jake has produced over 10 titles since March 2016 and has rapidly found himself at home narrating Thriller, Horror, Mystery and Suspense titles. His audiobook work includes dark psychological thrillers White is the Coldest Colour and Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl, occult mystery series The Ulrich Files by Ambrose Ibsen, and gritty Sci-Fi novel Shadows of Tomorrow by Jessica Meats.

Connect with the narrator: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Voices ~ Soundcloud

MeatsShadowsOfTomorrowSynopsis of Shadows of Tomorrow:

Earth is at war. Portals are opening across the planet and bringing creatures known as Outsiders. Their only desire is to eat, leaving a trail of destruction in their path. The only people who can stop them are the Defenders – led by Gareth Walker – who can open portals of their own to target the Outsiders in minutes. Gareth’s only advantage is an ability to see glimpses of his future.

For the past decade the Defenders have held back the incursion, but now a new portal opens, bringing something that Gareth did not see coming. As he must find a way to stop this new threat, he starts a quest for answers. He must learn how the war began and find a way to stop them once and for all.

All the while, he is aware of a shadow in his future; a moment he can’t see past. Will stopping the Outsiders cost him everything?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes

JessicaMeatsAuthorAbout the Author Jessica Meats:

Jessica Meats is a graduate of the University of York and works in the IT industry. She draws on her experiences as a technology specialist and martial arts student to create a unique and interesting fictional community of combat experts and computer geeks.

Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodReads ~ tumblr

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

McGuireIndexingNarrator: Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2014)

Length: 12 hours 5 minutes

Series: Book 1 Indexing

Author’s Page

In this urban fantasy, fairy tales can kill. A person can get caught up in their story and then the narrative will carry that person to the forgone conclusion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Sleeping Beauty, a Wicked Stepsister, or a Pied Piper, eventually the story will be too strong for you to ignore and then you will no longer have a choice.

Henrietta (Henry) Marchen runs an indexing team for the ATI Management Bureau. They are tasked with tracking down these narratives that just went active, indexing them (which is figuring out what class of fairy tale and how strong they are), and diffusing them before the story creates a body count. Sometimes the only way to diffuse a narrative is to take out the human at the center of the story, because they are no longer in control of their actions. Henry has to make some tough calls during this tale. Her little team is like family; they all have their hangups and they all care about each other.

In truth, I did find some aspects of this book difficult to keep track of. Once I figured out what was going on with the narrative, it got a little easier. Sometimes the long wordy explanations (which might have been a spoof on actual government procedure documents) was cumbersome and didn’t really help explain anything. Plus, they were a bit boring. Rather, the conversations between characters did the best to explain how a fairy tale can take over a small piece of reality and what, if anything, the ATI folks could do about it.

Other than that, there was some great stuff going on in this book. I liked thinking of modern Sleeping Beautys or Snow Whites trying to make their way working in an office or a daycare center. It often gave me a chuckle. My favorite side character was Sloan Winters. She was awesome! She got to say all sorts of cranky things I wish I could say at the office, and her team understood because that’s how her fairy tale built her. McGuire also pays a nod to the transgender community with a character and I thought that was well done.

There’s also this murder mystery going on. At first, it looks like random narrative attacks and there’s a few bodies piling up. However, the indexing team does love to analyze stuff so pretty soon it looks like there’s some sort of pattern and perhaps someone or something is controlling the narrative outbreaks. The murder mystery part took some time to get going, but once it did, it really added to the story.

Over all, I did enjoy this book, though I find McGuire’s other urban fantasy series, the Toby Daye series, much easier to get into. That series teaches you the rules as you go along, whereas this series tends to have big chunks of convoluted rules dumped on you, sometimes repeatedly. Still, I think it’s worth the time and effort.

I had access to a free copy of this book through the Kindle Unlimited program.

The Narration: Mary Robinette Kowal did a good job, as usual. I really liked her voice for Sloan, who is always snappish. She did a great job shifting from a character’s every day voice to their ‘possessed’ fairy tale voice. 

What I Liked: Fairy tales are trying to take over my life!; Henry is a good choice for team lead; Sloan and her work attitude! So funny! So snappish!; the murder mystery; the team pulling together for the ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: There are some convoluted rules that are given in big info dumps; these info dumps are repeated.

What Others Think:

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SFF Audio

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald

MacDonaldTheEggAndINarrator: Heather Henderson

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc. (2015)

Length: 9 hours

Author’s Page

The Egg and I is a mostly autobiographical account about Betty MacDonald’s time on a chicken farm in the late 1920s in Washington state. Filled with humor, there’s plenty of odd characters, hardships to over come, new foods to be explored, and eggs to be gathered, cleaned, and packaged for sale.

The story starts off with a brief, but laughter-inducing, account of Betty’s school years leading up to her whirlwind romance with Bob, their marriage, and then moving to the Pacific Northwest in search of heaven – a chicken farm of their own! Betty isn’t your typical heroine with perfect hair and stylish figure. Nope, she’s like all the rest of us. She was considered rather too tall for the times, being 5 ft 9 in. I like that she had a belly and rough hands and messy hair. In many ways she’s a very practical person, but she’s still a city girl moving to the country, so there’s plenty for her to learn.

There is one big negative to this book, which was typical of the time period (this book was originally published in 1945): racist remarks towards Native Americans. At the time, such remarks were common and considered accurate. Thankfully, our society as a whole has grown and such remarks today would not sit well with me at all. In truth, even in a historical perspective, these remarks make me a bit angry. However, I am glad that the publisher decided to keep the book as it was originally written instead of washing out these remarks, maintaining the historical accuracy of views at that time, and showing that people of every ethnicity, including the author, are flawed.

OK, so now that that is out of the way, there’s plenty I enjoyed about this book. First, this story spoke to me in many ways. My husband and I some years ago left city life for rural living and had a little farm. We had to go through many of the same learning curves as Betty – starting a fire every day in winter to heat the house, irrigation, gardening, chickens, plowing with equines, stray dogs getting into our property, etc. While we have indoor plumbing, it’s not too hard to picture Betty briskly walking out to the outhouse on a crisp autumn morning.

The Pacific Northwest, and several places named in this book, hold a special place in my heart. Having family in Port Angeles and Seattle, we have visited the area many times. So it was a real treat to see these places through Betty’s eyes in the late 1920s when things were really rugged. She talks of all the edible local foods including the Dungeness crabs and the geoduck clams. Having a chicken farm, they were never short of eggs, so she learned to add an extra egg or two to any recipe that called for eggs, and to a few recipes that did not.

Ma and Pa Kettle feature prominently in the story, being some of the closest neighbors to the isolated chicken farm. There’s also the Hicks, who are eccentric in other ways. I think anyone who moves to the country will find a bevvy of interesting characters in the area and Betty doesn’t skimp on telling how odd her neighbors are. Also, Betty told amusing tales about the animals on the farm, her husband Bob, and inanimate objects, like the wood-burning kitchen stove. She doesn’t leave herself out of this well-meaning, laughter-inducing critique either. There’s plenty of chuckles to go around.

It being a chicken farm, we have to talk about the chickens. Since Bob was often working away from the farm during the day, Betty was the main care-taker of all the beasties. I love her descriptions of all the loving labor she, and sometimes Bob, put into caring for these birds. There’s the daily cleaning of their houses, maintaining the fences around their yards, putting together their feed, tending to the chicks (which far too easily succumb to death), gathering the eggs, and regularly culling the flock. She very accurately describes how with any other beast, such care would be returned with affection. Not so with the chicken! So true, and I say that from a place of love for chickens.

While Betty often jokes, she also usually tells it like it is. I hope others enjoy this classic as much as I do.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Heather Henderson did a great job with this book. I love how she carries the humor, telling it with a sense of irony where needed. She has a unique voice for each character and her male voices are quite believable.

What I Liked: Plenty of humor; city folk moving to the country; the hardships of country living; the realities of chicken farming; the sheer amount of work that goes into living without indoor plumbing; more humor; great narration. 

What I Disliked: There are broad-stroke negative remarks about Native Americans.

What Others Think:

Mother Daughter Book Club

Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph

JosephMarkerStoneNarrator: Paul J. Joseph

Publisher: Paul J. Joseph (2015)

Length: 2 hours 58 minutes

Series: Book 1 Through the Fold

Author’s Page

Sally Buds is the doctor on an underfunded and rather ill-equipped asteroid mining station full of gravity sick miners. She doesn’t get along with the station chief, LaValley, but in some ways his hands are tied with the steep budget constraints. She confides in Ian Merry Field, a shuttle pilot, about the records from a lost ore shuttle that mysteriously returned from the Kelthy region. There is something very odd and plenty of people don’t want Sally and Ian poking their noses into this mystery.

This was a fun story with lots of great tech. In many ways, this was a pretty straight forward story, which let me sink into it quickly, sit back, and enjoy it. Jackie, Sally’s significant other back on Earth in Santa Fe, provides a key piece of info for Sally and Ian in their investigations.With that, Ian and Sally go on a secret mission to figure it out. What they find is one of the biggest discoveries of humankind.

I’m not big on romance, so I was glad to see that it didn’t really play a role in this story. When I read the description and saw we had Sally and Ian thrown together, I was worried we might get distracted with some soppy romance. But never fear! Both Ian and Sally have other romantic ties, so they were able to focus on the mystery at hand. Yay!

I liked all the geeky, science bits tossed in. Plus we get all this cool tech for exploring and mining the asteroid belt. Also, the Canadian Mining Consortium was not the good guy we all expect from friendly, polite Canadians! This was great because we need more Canadians trying to take over the universe. Muwahahahahahaha!

I listened to this book for free on Podiobooks.com.

Narration: The author, Paul J. Joseph, narrated his own story and it was pretty good. He was consistent in his voices and accents. While he was not quite as good as a seasoned professional, I have listened to far worse. The production was really good – volume was consistent, no mouth noises. There was perhaps 1 repeated sentence in the entire book.

What I Liked: All the cool tech; lots of science bits; Ian and Sally are not a romantic item; reference to Santa Fe; asteroid mining; evil Canadians; Sally has a girlfriend; pretty good narration. 

What I Disliked: Not really a dislike, but the cover is rather so-so for this book and doesn’t really indicate the asteroid mining that plays such a central role in the book. 

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Tofu cleaning his foot

Tofu cleaning his foot

Narrator: Jeff Gurner

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 15 hours 57 minutes

Series: Book 1 Daemon

Author’s Page

When master computer game creator Matthew Sobol passed away, gamer geeks mourned. Life continued for everyone else… except for two programmers who each died mysteriously. This sets off a chain of events which appear to be controlled by Sobol himself. However, it’s really Sobol’s computer daemon, a near AI program that Sobol created to carry out all these tasks upon his death. Those who realize what is really happening race against the daemon, attempting to stop it in it’s tracks before it’s final task can be carried out.

There were some things I liked about this book and some things that I did not. So let’s start with the negative and get that out of the way. This book did drag in several places. Each time I thought it was time I gave it up, something exciting would happen and pull me back into it. But then it would drag again and I contemplated shelving this book unfinished perhaps 4 times throughout the story. While there are some female characters, this book is definitely male dominated, which is bordering on unlikely in today’s age. Plus this is science fiction, so why not live a little and have a few more female characters, right? Finally, there were several times where I simply thought to myself, ‘That’s not bloody likely, ‘ in regards to a characters decisions or actions. Each time I did that, it took me out of the story and made me question how much thought did the author really put into this story.

So, besides all those things that dragged a decent book down into mediocrity, there’s some exciting stuff going on here. The major premise of the story, a master daemon program that can carry on after your death making decisions as you would have made them, was the thing that drew me to this book. Then we have the murder mysteries happening. Detective Seebeck was one of my favorite characters, being assigned to the investigation on the death of one of the programmers early in the book. He played an important role for the entire story. Lots of crazy stuff happens to him and he’s hard-pressed to explain much of it.

The news media plays a significant role in this book. For instance, the daemon is triggered to come on and run it’s program when news headlines report the death of Matthew Sobol. The reporter Anderson is contacted by this Daemon and offered the story of her life if she follows it’s instructions. Then, of course, the news agencies have a feeding frenzy over all the deaths and strange attacks linked to Sobol in some way. For instance, there’s this pretty intense attack by remote controlled Hummer vehicles at Sobol’s estate.

Finally, Sobol was a computer game programmer and a fan of computer games in general, so there’s at least one Easter Egg for game savvy fans to hunt down. I really liked this aspect of the story since that is so true to Sobol’s character, which we learn about through his daemon. It also allows tech analyst Ted Ross, who has played Sobol’s games, to predict some of the daemon’s next moves.

There’s many action scenes and plenty of odd deaths in this book. Yet there are stretches were things are just being reiterated and characters are making decisions that aren’t in line with what has already been established. All told, there’s a decent story in here somewhere and at the end I was glad I stuck it out and finished the book. I may or may not continue the series.

The Narration: Jeff Gurner was really great with this book. There’s a handful of accents for the characters and he does them all well. He kept all his character voices distinct and his female voices were passable. I liked his voice for the daemon quite a bit.

What I Liked: Computer game geeks; a master daemon carries on his creator’s wishes after his death; remote controlled everything!; news media can be a help or a hazard; plenty of action scenes; murder mystery.

What I Disliked: There were plenty of places that dragged in this book; few female characters; unlikely character decisions.

What Others Think:

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Matt Cutts

Blog Critics

The Great Geek Manual

Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Narrator: Simon Vance

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2008)

Length: 24 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 6 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 3 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3 of the first trilogy, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Mercy is best read as part of the second trilogy, if not as Book 6 in the larger series, since there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous books.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood, and Sidonie de la Courcel, Terre D’Ange’s princess and next in line to the throne, are in love. This doesn’t sit well with much of the realm because Imriel’s estranged birth mother, Melisande Shahrizai, betrayed the nation a generation ago. Imriel and Sidonie are faced with a difficult choice: Bring Melisande to justice or Sidonie will not inherit the throne. After beginning their search for Melisande in earnest, an unlikely city nation, Carthage, comes with luxurious gifts, promises of alliance, and an apparently heartfelt hope that Sidonie will consider their General Astegal for marriage. Things do not go as expected, for anyone.

This historical fantasy is another beautiful addition to the Terre D’Ange cycle. Through the adventures of Imriel and Sidonie, we learn more about this alternate world Carey has created. Carthage is a budding empire, rich in gold and gems but also dependent on slavery. General Astegal comes off as a very charming man, willing to bend to Terre D’Ange’s way of things when it comes to love; for instance, he wouldn’t be in a miff if Sidonie decided to have a harem of pretty young men. The other culture that really stood out for me was the Euskerri, which is akin to the Basque. Deeply proud and also demanding equality from their two neighboring countries – Terre D’Ange and Aragonia.

In the previous books, there has been some magic, though much of it is left up to the reader’s interpretation. In this novel, the magic is direct and has immediate consequences. Even though this is a reread for me, I always find myself surprised by how not subtle the magic component is in this story, as compared to the previous books. So how do you fight strong magic when you only have a passing experience with it? That is something that Imriel and Sidonie will have to figure out, though I do like all the hints that Elua, Terre D’Ange’s primary deity, may be giving them a hand. The magic does follow certain rules, which I liked, though it was quite the trial for Imriel to figure out what those rules were.

There’s plenty of adventure and sneaking about in this story. Imriel must make alliances with the most unlikely of people to even make a solid attempt to not only rescue Sidonie but the entire capitol of Terre D’Ange, the City of Elua. Indeed, spying, misdirection, and disguises make up a good part of the book. I think it was hardest on Imriel to deceive his beloved foster parents, Phedre and Joscelin. There’s some pretty intense scenes that had me holding my breath! Also, those scenes with Barquiel L’Enver, a man who has disliked Imriel since he was born, were quite worthy.

Sidonie really shines in this book. Even with everything told through Imriel’s eyes, Sidonie had some tough decisions to make and was at the center of some dangerous situations. Carey has this magical way of writing female characters behaving in feminine ways and still getting important stuff done. While Imriel is the character that carried me forward in this story, there’s a strong argument for Sidonie being that star of the story.

Each time we think our heroes have found the key to winning the day, there’s another twist or another spell or another hurdle or another bad guy that must be vanquished. One of the hardest things about this was that sometimes they had to find a way to sneak past, trick, or even fight friends and family that were ensnared in the magic. My poor nails! I was biting my nails too often with this story!

As with the series, there are incredible sex scenes that range from playful to desperate to healing to sad to joyful. Carey is just as detailed in her love scenes as she is with her use of cultures and linguistics. I always enjoy these scenes because they reveal something further about the characters.

The ending was well done. I was very satisfied that things were not easy to unravel and iron out. Not everyone gets everything they want. There’s plenty to be forgiven all around. Still, it was beautiful and satisfying.

The Narration: Simon Vance does this final book in Imriel’s trilogy justice. He had to take on further accents as our heroes experienced new cultures. There were also plenty of complicated emotions and intense scenes and Vance did a great job capturing the subtleties of those emotions in his voice work. Also, he did a fantastic job with the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Tangible magic with rules; Imriel has to make some unlikely alliances; Sidonie is at the heart of the matter and she shines through; exploration of further cultures in this alternate world; the love scenes; the intensity of Imriel interacting with his foster parents; Imriel and Sidonie really had to fight for their love; the ending was very satisfying.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is an excellent way to end this trilogy.

What Others Think:

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The Bibliosanctum

The Wrong Unit by Rob Dircks

DircksTheWrongUnitNarrator: Rob Dircks

Publisher: Goldfinch Publishing (2016)

Length: 5 hours 37 minutes

Author’s Page

Heyoo, an autonomous servile unit housed in a bipedal chassis, was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Now he’s in the middle of nowhere with a most cumbersome, demanding package, one that could save humanity. Heyoo rewrites his mission to include getting the package to the indicated place, even if it takes a very long time. What Heyoo finds there is unexpected…. and rather foul-mouthed.

This was a very fun piece of science fiction! Don’t be fooled by the rather bland cover art, this story is full of humor, adventure, and a quest to save humanity. Heyoo is an interesting character, being a mobile AI unit that is now on his own. He likes humans, but he doesn’t really understand them. Now out in the middle of nowhere with a rather needy package, he has a lot of time to rewrite some of his programs to make him adaptable to the demands of this new adventure.

While Heyoo is certainly the star of the book, there’s plenty of other interesting characters. Of course Wa is central to the storyline. He’s proof that humans can get rather attached to their AI units as well. Brick was a great addition. She provides the much needed human history and also the link to the future of humanity. As more humans and at least one other AI servile unit (Arch, Sarah, Oscar, Tener) are brought into the storyline, the plan to free humanity becomes clear.

There’s plenty of humor mixed in, keeping the story light and fun. It also moves along at a good clip, so I never got bored even when there was lengthy travel going on. The storyline takes place over many years. As such, our hero Heyoo gets a little beat up. I found the story especially endearing in how Heyoo’s friends came to care for him. All together, it’s a fun, humorous story with a touch sentimentality.

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

Narration: Rob Dircks did a really good job. I’m always a bit concerned when I see that an author has narrated their own work, because not every writer can narrate well. However, that was not something I had to worry about with Dircks. His performance was great, having distinct character voices and a few effects that enhanced the audiobook experience. I especially liked his accent for Brick and her wonderful endearments for people.

What I Liked: AI – yay!; Heyoo is a unique character; plenty of humor, some of it involving cussing; the package that will save humanity; how AIs can get attached to their humans and vice versa; a touching story that isn’t heavy; Brick because she’s awesome; great narration. 

What I Disliked: Not really a dislike but the cover art doesn’t really speak to the SF nature or humor of the story.

What Others Think:

J Barron Owens