Audiobook Giveaway & Review: A Human Element by Donna Galanti

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaways!

Narrator: Chase Bradley

Publisher: Auspicious Apparatus Press (2017)

Length: 10 hours 8 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Element Trilogy

Author’s Page

By a lake surrounded by mostly empty cabins, a spaceship crashes and the government covers it up, calling it a meteorite. Ben Fieldstone lost his family that night. Sarah, a teen runaway, wouldn’t know just how affected she was by this event until 9 months later when she gave birth. A mysterious man in black from the government was there to whisk away the unusual child. The doctor and nurse did their best to hide the twin sister, Laura, that was born that night, turning her over to the loving Armstrongs to raise as their daughter. Years later, Laura survives one tragedy after another even as she starts manifesting powers from out of this world. Something hunts her but means to make her suffer emotionally before the final confrontation.

This is a science fiction story that turns into a romance. There’s a smidge of thriller in here as well as the hunter catches up to it’s prey. I enjoyed the scifi part and the thriller part was pretty gripping. However, the romance part was a bit too much for me. The middle of the books spends a little too much time talking about emotions and learning to love one’s self and how to love others, etc.

For the most part, Laura Armstrong was an interesting central character, though later in the book she ends up unconscious and needs to be carried to safety several times. I found the antagonist, X-10, to be the most captivating character. Right up to the end I kept hoping ( or wondering?) if he would be able to change despite all he had been through. He was raised in captivity undergoing tests and torture on a regular basis.

Ben ends up in the military and so there’s some true-to-character swearing and objectifying of women. It takes some serious events for him to decide he wants something else, even if he doesn’t know what he wants. I give full marks to the author for including a near-rape of an adult male situation as it is something that is not often addressed in fiction even though such crimes occur in real life. Once Ben meets Laura, he goes all mushy and doesn’t do much beside explore his feelings until the big action scene near the end. I could have used a bit more action in the middle instead of it being solid inner exploration of Ben’s character.

The plot was OK though certain parts were no mystery at all. We know from nearly the beginning that Laura’s twin is going to be a problem child. Even though Ben is ~10 years older and he traveled the world with the military, I knew that somehow he and Laura would have to come together. Still, I had to know how things would end. Mostly, this was because I wanted to see how much X-10 could change, if he could change at all. Part of me wanted him to continue on for the next book and part of me knew that wouldn’t be possible.

The mystery man in black eventually plays a larger role, though I sometimes found him a convenient catalyst, suddenly showing up with certain powers or knowledge, that helped move the plot along. The elderly Mr. B. was a lovely addition to the main cast. I adored his thesaurus skills and his grandfatherly guidance for Laura. All in all, I’m glad I gave this book a listen even though it left me wanting a bit more action and little less on the touchy feely bits.

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

The Narration: Chase Bradley was OK as the narrator. Initially, his voices were all distinct. He even had a few accents, like for Andy’s wife, which were well done. Once Ben and Laura meet, they always talk so soft and sweetly to each other no matter the subject or the situation that they actually sounded too much alike and sometimes I had trouble keeping track of who said what. He did have a lovely deeper voice for Felix and I wish he had used that voice for Ben as it would have worked so well for the sex scenes. And speaking of those few sex scenes, Bradley sounded a bit bored during them, like a yawn was just hiding in the corner of his mouth. He did a great job with Mr. B’s voice as he aged and he had an excellent wicked voice for X-10.

What I Liked: Spaceship crash; people overcoming tragedy; Laura’s special powers; X-10’s character development and the possibility that he could change; the mystery man in black and his back story; Mr. B because he simply is cool; Ben’s brush with personal injury.

What I Disliked: It’s a SF turned romance; the middle is heavy with characters doing a lot of inner reflection and too light on action.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

About Chase Bradley: Chase was born and raised in a quiet town in upstate New York. He concentrated on musical pursuits through most of his younger years, excelling in anything that had to do with using his voice. He attended college in Potsdam, NY, where he studied Wilderness Leadership, Sociology and Vocal training at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Chase’s dream since he was a kid was to be a voice over artist and professional musician, but after college he decided to spread his wings and explore the world a bit first. He worked as a mountain guide in Alaska, leading Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, and Backpacking trips. He traveled all over North and South America for work and and pleasure, climbing and skiing everything that stood in his way. After meeting a beautiful woman (in Alaska of all places!) and falling in love, he settled down in Lake Tahoe California, where he currently resides with his wife and two children. Chase has finally returned to his roots and works as a full time voice over artist, and plays weekly shows with his band. Things have come full circle, and the dream has been fulfilled. Chase does commercial voice over work, but has found that his true passion is narrating audiobooks. He has narrated 14 audiobooks to date, with more to come! Chase is constantly looking for ways to improve his narration, and deliver the best possible performance for the authors and listeners.

 Website ~ LinkedIn ~Facebook ~ Twitter

Synopsis of A Human Element: Evil comes in many forms… One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts L
aura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

Audible        Amazon

About the Author Donna Galanti: Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.

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GIVEWAYS!!!

$10 Amazon Gift Card

A Human Element Giveaway #1

A Hidden Element (Book 2) Audiobook

A Human Element Giveaway #2

The Atomic Sea Vol. 3 by Jack Conner

ConnerTheAtomicSeaVol1Narrator: Ray Greenley

Publisher: Allen Wise (2015)

Length: 5 hours 41 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Atomic Sea

Author’s Page

Note: This is Volume 3 (or Part 3) in the series and I feel this is a series best read in sequence. Volume 1 is freaking awesome but it also gives you a good basis for the characters’s motives in Volume 2. Also, I want to say that the author has made things a little confusing by combining parts or dividing them up. So sometimes we have volumes and sometimes we have parts.

Once again, we have another interesting and enjoyable tale from the Atomic Sea! This is just a great series about messed up fish-faced people. In Vol. 2, we left our heroes trying to find another altar for Layanna to do her big thing. They decided to try for the heart of Octung, where the Cathedral of Lors rests in Golna. Things don’t go as planned – cue evil laughter!

Dr. Avery remains one of my favorite characters. In general, he’s a rather gentle soul, but that benevolent characteristic is slowly being beaten out of him by this quest of Layanna’s. He once had a daughter and his memories of her come into play in this book. How much would he sacrifice to have her alive and whole again, as if that were possible?

Janx and Hildra are still around, as well as the monkey. Every fish-faced dirigible crew that’s out to save the world needs a monkey. Hildra makes me laugh even though most of her lines are pretty simplistic.

Much to my delight, Captain Sheridan, who I think is now an Octung General, makes another appearance. This time she wants more from Avery than just his body. Plus she has more to offer Avery than bedroom restraints, decent food, clean water, and a place in the medical research unit. Dr. Avery will have to make the hardest choice of his life in this book.

We lost a favorite character in a previous book but that character gets another shot at fame in glory in this tale. There’s plenty of opportunities for our heroes to turn sell-outs and leave the rest of them to be sacrificed. Layanna is obviously driven to complete her mission but she also has this deep natural drive that is sometimes at odds with her bigger goal. This series continues to grip me! Where will the author take us next in this fishy tentacle land?

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Ray Greenley continues to give us an excellent performance. I love all his fishy voices. Really, I don’t know how he does it! Plus there’s some pretty emotional scenes in this book and he does a great job with those as well. I still love his voice for Sheridan who can be both sexy and a stone-cold killer.  

What I Liked: Dr. Avery’s faced with some big choices; the altar is pretty bloody; Layanna isn’t the lovely dainty otherworldly being her friends all want her to be; monkey; fish-faces everywhere!; great narration.  

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

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

DickTheManInTheHighCastleNarrator: Jeff Cummings

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2015)

Length: 9 hours 58 minutes

Author’s Page

In this alternate history, the US and it’s allies lost WWII in the 1940s. The US in 1962 is divided up between Germany and Japan, with an unoccupied strip in the middle following the Rocky Mountain Range. A banned novel, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, is read by many of the main characters, influencing their choices, but perhaps not as much as the popular I Ching.

It was very interesting visiting this SF classic after having watched the first season of the TV series. Juliana is one of the few ladies to have a full name and a role in the plot. She’s Frank Frink’s ex-wife and lives in Canon City in the neutral Mountain States teaching martial arts. Meanwhile, Frank is still in San Francisco working at a metalsmith’s shop. He’s one of a shrinking number of Jewish Americans living in the Japanese occupied states. For me, it was these two characters that I initially gravitated towards the most.

A Mountain States author wrote The Grasshopper Lies Heavy some years ago and it was initially banned in all Axis occupied lands. However, Japan lifted it’s ban and this has allowed the book to spread a bit. This book depicts a world in which the Allies won; the book’s WWII outcome doesn’t reflect our historical reality but provides yet another possible scenario which I found interesting. Most of the main characters have an interaction with this book and each character’s reaction is a bit different. Juliana becomes a bit obsessed with the book after she meets a truck driver, Joe Cinnadella, who let her borrow his copy.

I didn’t particularly like Juliana after she hooked up with Joe. Her character really had this shift that I didn’t find fully believable. I also noticed the same thing happen with Robert Childan, the man who runs a San Francisco antiques store. Both characters change direction and are then used by the plot. It felt like PKD wrote a quarter of this novel, set it aside, and when he came back to it he decided he wanted to take a different path but was too lazy to rewrite these characters to fit what came next. Instead, he just has this rather swift shift in character for each of them that feels unnatural the rest of the book.

While there is not much more than a peek into Nazi-occupied US, we do hear quite a bit about the Germans. They have a huge advantage in technology, so much so that they are sending Germans to Mars and Venus to colonize them. Japan is increasingly falling behind in their tech and tensions continue to mount between these two world powers. I did get a giggle out of the apparent jump in tech and science (colonizing Mars) and yet the Germans and Japanese continue to use tape recorders. I just had to keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1962 and many authors, even the SF greats, rarely saw any tech beyond physical recordings on some sort of plastic strip.

The story winds up the reader, tightening the tension with each chapter. Some characters are just trying to get by. Others are actively assisting the German government in maintaining their current world dominance. Some few are interested in finding a way out of this Germany/Japanese controlled world for everyone. Yet even as the story reaches what I was expecting to be the final crescendo, nothing truly big happens at the end. Most of our characters are still, for the most part, stuck in their various situations trying to find a way out. Nothing is truly resolved. Since I wasn’t fully invested in the characters, I was OK with that. This novel was pretty mediocre for me.

I received a free copy of this book from eStories in exchange for a review of their audiobook services. Their service is set up much the same as other audiobook platforms. When you sign up, you get 1 audiobook for free and you have this free audiobooks trial period as well. There’s also the free audiobooks download app for iPhone or Android. Keep in mind, my experience is for this single book. Nowhere on their website does it say that you can download to a PC or laptop, so I had to clarify that with a representative before I agreed to give their services a try since 90% of my audiobook listening happens on a laptop. Once I signed up, I picked out my book, I went to my eStories library, and there is a DOWNLOAD button, which I clicked. I was expecting options to pop up – various formats, perhaps a eStories specific player for computers (or links to Windows Media Player or iTunes), etc. However, instead it just started downloading a zip file full of the MP3s for my book. Now, for me, this was fine. Once fully downloaded in my Download Folder, I wanted to move my audiobook to another folder but the move failed completely and I had to redownload. (I don’t know if the failed download was due to corrupted files or not, but considering the small difficulty with the Android player, that might well be the case.) Later on, since we were headed out on a road trip, we downloaded the same book from eStories to my man’s Android cellphone. The download went swiftly, however there was some minor corruption of each MP3 file. Each file ended with a random sentence fragment taken from that file. At first, we thought the eStories player was cutting off the last word or two of the chapter but a spot check of my laptop audiobook revealed what was happening (though not the why of it). I informed my contact of this and the info was passed on to the tech team, so hopefully that is already fixed if you go to use the Android player. Browsing their selection is pretty good – genre, length, abridged or unabridged, etc. They don’t have as big a selection as Audible.com but they do have some small publishers and indie authors/narrators as well as the big publishing houses. You can create a Wish List as well. One cool thing is that you can upload any audiobook from your computer to your eStories library and from there listen to it on your Android or iPhone. I haven’t tried this yet but I like the idea for Librivox audiobooks for my husband’s Android. Each book has a detailed description – author, narrator, publisher, length, series, etc. However, unlike other platforms, I can’t click on the series and have all the books in the series pop up. Overall, eStories has potential.

The Narration:  Jeff Cummings was OK. He did fine with regional American accents but his foreign accents were pretty rough, especially his Italian accent. He did do a good job imbuing the characters with emotions at the right times. 

What I Liked: It was an interesting look into a world where WWII had a different outcome; Frank Frink is an interesting character; Having the US divided up into 3 sections gives a view into 3 different sets of human standards; use of the I Ching; the alternate WWII ending in the fictitious book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.

What I Disliked: Juliana is one of the few female characters; a few characters have sudden shifts in their outlooks and then their motives feel forced the rest of the book; no real look into German-occupied US; the story winds us up and then just leaves us; narration was a little rough with foreign accents.

VintageScifiBadgeVintage SciFi Month! This book was originally published in 1962, and being of the alternate history SF genre, it easily qualifies for my Vintage SF challenge. Hooray! Anyone is welcome to join the yearly Vintage SF Month!

What Others Think:

Philip K. Dick Fan Site

Conceptual Fiction

Prometheus Unbound

Infinity Plus

Rat Race Refuge

Man of la Book

Vintage SciFi Month 2017

WoodruffeTheSecondEarthClementineOnce again, my yearly foray into vintage science fiction will be lean. I do so love this yearly reading activity but I’m rather scattered this month with our planned trip to California for my big surgery.

Once again, I will be giving this beautiful book, The Second Earth, by Patrick Woodroffe a try. It is magnificently illustrated. My mom found it at a thrift store or perhaps a garage sale in Taos a little over a year ago. I actually started reading it last year for Vintage SF 2016 but a hospital stay waylaid my reading schedule. One of the things I really like about this book is that the author is also the illustrator.

Heldig getting a tongue bath from Tofu
Heldig getting a tongue bath from Tofu

Then I also plan to reread The Book of Frank Herbert, a little DAW edition. I read this oh so many years ago and really enjoyed this collection of his short stories. While I was stuck in doctor’s waiting room last week, I started this book and even got the first story read.

Vintage SF Month is going on all January and anyone is welcome to join. The rules are simple – it has to be in the science fiction or fantasy genres and must be originally published 1979 or earlier. Check out The Little Red Reviewer who came up with the brilliant idea and has been hosting the event for years.

VintageScifiBadge

 

Zero-G by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin

ShatnerRovinZero-GNarrator: William Shatner

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)

Length: 10 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Samuel Lord Series

Shatner’s Page  Rovin’s Page

In the near future, the US has the space station Empyrean under the control of Director Samuel Lord and has now decided to send up FBI personnel to govern this station. These FBI men have been dubbed the Zero-G men. The US, Russia, and China are all still competing with one another for supremacy but some new science has upped the stakes. Something is mimicking natural disasters on the Earth and the Moon, wreaking havoc with a station-born super vine, and causing nanites to go off kilter and basically create a kind of walking, talking cyborg zombie. Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Wait! There’s more! There’s plenty of espionage going on as well as shifting loyalties. Our heroes zoom from place to place in a vain effort to rescue everyone. I truly didn’t know if the Zero-G men would be able to save the day.

This is a convoluted action-adventure story that has bits and pieces of scifi tossed into it. There are concepts I really liked but the execution was sloppy or only half carried out. First, let’s talk about the 80 year old Samuel Lord. He’s our guide through out the story, offering advice to the younger crowd, keeping the station functioning with his wisdom, and calling the hard shots when a man of action is needed. He’s basically an 80 year old Captain Kirk (William Shatner’s famous character in the original Star Trek series). Yep. Shatner wrote a main character based on himself (or, at least a character he played for years aged several decades). In some ways this worked for the good, bringing up the nostalgia of watching the Star Trek TV series. In other ways, it meant that certain plot points and even some dialogue were completely predictable.

I was very excited about the pansexual character, Adsila, who is also a full-blooded Cherokee. This story in general is very sexual-orientation friendly. Adsila, as a pansexual, has the ability to shift from male to female at will. So, A+ for concept. Unfortunately, the execution fell short (C+ at best). Adsila’s Cherokee heritage is merely nodded at and not an integral part of his/her personality. Also, there are times when gender biases become apparent in the writing. Nearly all of Adsila’s action scenes happen when he is in the male gender. There was some comment about how Adsila finds it easier to be focused as a man….. which quirked my eyebrow. If it had been one single comment, I could say it was simply that character’s experience and let it be. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. There were several similar remarks along those lines.

At first I was pretty excited by all the scifi bits. I love having futuristic tech incorporated into a scifi story. I believe it is one of the main things that makes scifi science fiction. Once again, we have A+ for concepts and Cs for execution of these science-y bits. In the end, I felt the scifi tech was simply window dressing to an action flick. Having said that, as an action flick, there is never a dull moment in this tale. Things are always in motion. We might not always get where the story is going or why it’s going there, but it is always in motion.

All together, it was an OK story. I think another round of solid polishing would have made this a good story. Not an outstanding story, but a good one. There is a lot of ground being covered in this novel and as such, some of it was pretty sparse. I think it could have used less intrigue, less future tech, and perhaps a smaller cast so that each bit of science could shine and each character could reach their full potential.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Narration:  William Shatner is William Shatner. He starts off with a pretty even pacing but shortly falls into the odd cadence he has become known for. On one hand, this was soothing because I am a Star Trek fan and this sounded like a really long, convoluted Star Trek episode in some ways. However, there were times when I became fatigued over his odd staccato speech pattern. Also, Shatner doesn’t perform character voices very well, and sometimes doesn’t do so at all. As such, I really had to pay attention to keep track of who was talking. 

What I Liked: Cool cover art; Shatner’s narration and elements of the plot brought up my nostalgia for the original Star Trek series; lots of interesting near-future tech; plenty of intrigue; a range of sexual orientations in the characters; lots and lots of action.

What I Disliked: Several of the concepts were poorly executed; this is more of an action flick than a solid science fiction story; tale could have used another round of solid editing and polishing to make it a good story; Shatner doesn’t do character voices in his narration.

What Others Think:

The Bookish Life

Two Nerds Talking

AudioFile

Vick's Vultures by Scott Warren

WarrenVicksVulturesNarrator: Steven Barnett

Publisher: Parvus Press LLC (2016)

Length: 6 hours 30 minutes

Author’s Page

In a galaxy full of politicians, aliens, and royalty in distress, Victoria Marin her crew of the privateer U. E. Condor are having difficulty locating some worthy salvage. The Vultures are getting restless, so Victoria takes a chance on a faint distress signal. What the Vultures find may be more than they are prepared to handle – First Prince Tavram and his entourage.

This was a fun fast-paced space story. Vick and her Vultures are an efficient crew. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of Tavram and his crew, same as Vick. I was pleased to see several of Tavram’s people meshing with the Vultures. There’s even a little side romance.

Meanwhile, the aliens that tried so hard to take out Prince Tavram won’t easily be put off. Best Wishes of the ship Spring Dawn is in pursuit. I really enjoyed the names of these aliens, such as Modest Barry. Wishes and his crew have their orders and their empire has these hidden motivations that eventually become clear. There are bigger things at work and Vick and her Vultures are now caught up in the middle of this mess.

I read somewhere that this book has been compared to the TV series Firefly. For me, Firefly has a lot of great humor, and it’s a mix of the obvious and the subtle. This book really only has the obvious humor, which is good but I wouldn’t compare this book to Firefly in that way. This book has a great mix of cultures represented in the characters, such as Hu-wan, Uri, Red Calhoun, Vega, etc. In some ways, this story has greater diversity than Firefly.

Over all, it was a pretty fun, light action story. There’s no great in-depth meaning or some soulful love story. It was the perfect book for a busy time of the year when I just want some brain candy. I look forward to seeing what the author does next with this series.

The Narration: Steven Barnett does a great job with all the accents and then the made-up alien accents as well, which included a kind of bug voice and a slightly bubbly like underwater voice. I was really impressed with his range. 

What I Liked: Great cover art; just a fun read all around; great narration; Vick’s Vultures and how they mesh with Prince Tavram’s crew; Best Wishes and his hunt.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a fun light read.

What Others Think:

The Speculative Herald

Space and Sorcery

The Scary Reviews

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!

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

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:

SF Signal

SF Site

Matt Cutts

Blog Critics

The Great Geek Manual