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

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

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!

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

VonnegutCatsCradleTofuNarrator: Tony Roberts

Publisher: HarperAudio (2007)

Length: 7 hours 11 minutes

Author’s Page

John, who starts off researching what family members of the makers of the atomic bomb were doing on the day when Hiroshima was bombed, but soon gets caught up in a minor mystery that involves the children of physicist Felix Hoenikker. Add in a calypso singer’s personal theology, the odd substance called Ice-Nine, and a large helping of satirical humor and you have quite the book!

This was my first Vonnegut book (yep, I know, where have I been?) and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Sometimes I don’t care for satire because so often it is tied to certain political events or a political climate, and if you aren’t versed in those happenings, lots of it flies over your head. Not so with this book! Sure, there is some satire that refers to people and events that I’m not familiar with, but much of it was easy to pin down. Plus there’s plenty of other humor and the whole plot going on to keep me entertained. I was especially interested in the Ice-Nine. I figured it was tied into the dystopian theme the book’s description mentions, but it took forever to get around to it. Indeed, Ice-Nine and the ending of the world don’t play a part until the very end of the novel. So if you’re going into this novel hoping for a dystopian story, you will be a bit disappointed.

The calypso singer, Bokonon, has this theology (called Bokononism by the practitioners) that kicks off the book as John relates his story to us as if it’s all over, said, and done. John, in his own tale, doesn’t come upon Bokononism until he travels to the island of San Lorenzo, where he meets two of the Hoenikker children. The theology is filled with little truths that gave me a chuckle here and there. One of the little rituals Bokononists partake in is touching the soles of their feet to one another, making them feel closer to each other. Oddly enough, Bokononism has been banned on San Lorenzo even as everyone is secretly a Bokononist.

Each of the three Hoenikker children are rather different, but it was Newton Hoenikker, the youngest child, who caught my attention. He’s a dwarf and also a medical student. I liked his recollections of his dad and older siblings, his sister being the care-taker of the family once their mother passed away. Indeed, his descriptions of his father, the physicist, reminds me of so many scientists I knew when I worked in Los Alamos.

It took me a while to figure out why this book is called Cat’s Cradle and if you’re wondering the same thing, the answer does eventually come. It seems much of the book is that way: there’s this set up at the front end but it takes time to eventually arrive at those same things once again so that we fully understand them. For instance, the book starts off with some Bokononism stuff but it’s only later that we learn the origins of Bokononism. John hints that the world has ended, but we only find out how and why towards the very end of the novel. In this regard, I think this is one of those novels that is best read all in one sitting rather than broken up over a week.

In the end, I liked it. Yes, I did spend the entire book eagerly awaiting the dystopian bit the book’s description promises, but when it comes it is indeed a bleak world and I’m not sure how humanity will survive it. I didn’t get all the Bokononism stuff but it did provide quite a bit of entertainment. Hoenikker and his kids are the backbone that made this book interesting to me. I really enjoyed hearing what the now-grown kids had to say about their now-dead dad and growing up in the shadow of the atomic bomb project.

The Narration: Tony Roberts was a good pick for narrating this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and carried off the humor quite well. I liked his Indiana accent for Ma Hoosier and his Caribbean accent for the native San Lorenzoans. Also, this edition of the audiobook contained an older interview with Kurt Vonnegut that I found informative and amusing. In the interview, it’s rather informal as the interviewer is one of his good friends and it sounds like they are simply having a chat about his book and other things, like Vonnegut’s military experience. 

What I Liked: This book is odd and fun at the same time; the mystery of Ice-Nine; Felix Hoenikker and his kids; Newton and his stories about his older siblings and dad; Bokononism; how things end; the bonus interview with Vonnegut.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was an interesting book.

What Others Think:

SFF Book Reviews

Honor Society

Teen Ink

Grown Up Book Reports

The Past Due Book Review

Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy by Steven Campbell

CampbellHardLuckHankScrewTheGalaxyNarrator: Liam Owen

Publisher: Steven Campbell (2014)

Length: 9 hours 20 minutes

Series: Book 1 Hard Luck Hank

Author’s Page

Hank is a thug and a Level 4 mutant. He’s chosen to live on the out-of-the-way space station Belvaille because his skills are appreciated there. Those skills include being able to take a bullet to the face and keep right on talking. This skill set makes him perfect for playing negotiator between rival gangs. Then the mysterious Jian and her brother show up and have an unusual proposal for Hank. Coupled with the dredaled robots and the Colmarian navy, Hank is in for a tough time of it.

This was a very fun scifi comedy! Hank is this big, nearly indestructible thug that some mistake for simple or dumb. Hank’s motivations might be simple, but he does use his brain when his mere presence isn’t enough to change people’s intentions.

There’s a fun cast surrounding Hank. Gorm is a crooked cop, but a good person. She’s Hank’s voice of reason when he’s not thinking. Then there’s the mutant Jian (who is beautiful and may or may not be interested in Hank) and her brother (whose special abilities are fueled by drugs). Eldablo is a procurer of odd bits and he has one big secret that may or may not be possible to keep under wraps. Hank is definitely the star of the show but these other characters give Hank a great backdrop to do his thing.

The dredaled are independent robots that have their own society, etc. Also, they are deadly to most humans and extremely hard to destroy. Hank’s efforts to deal with these bots were heroic and monumental! Yet he alone is not enough! I came to have a great appreciation for the dredaled as they trashed the space station.

Meanwhile, the Colmarian navy is on it’s way to the Belvaille space station for an inspection. The residents have a few weeks to get the place cleaned up before they arrive. Obviously, the various crime lords aren’t happy about this as it means destroying some illegal things and putting nearly all criminal activities on suspension. There’s plenty of pressures on Hank to help keep the peace.

There’s humor everywhere in this book but I most appreciated Hank’s straight forward viewpoint on so many issues. He pretty much takes the simple approach to problems. Again and again, he has to point out the consequences of not complying to the station-wide clean up and I just had to grin as I imagined various crime lords working through their options and not coming up with much.

Crime lords, dredaled robots, the navy, and…. yes, there is yet one more adversary to toss into the mix. Hank has a lot of hurdles and stuff to fix in this book, all for a space station that may or may not be worthy of calling home. An excellent start to the series!

Narration: Liam Owen was great in his narration of this book. I loved his voice for Hank! He had distinct voices for all the characters and a variety of accents. He pulled off the humor quite well. I also liked his little touches here and there, like taking the time to mimic a bullhorn when the scene called for it.

What I Liked: The cover art; Hank’s straight forward nature; so many hurdles!; the dreaded dredaled!; Gorm and her crooked ways that maintain the peace; Eldablo and his secret; great narration. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a very fun story!

What Others Think:

Ben Reviewed

PG’s Ramblings

New Age Mama

Cannonball Read 8

Positive Novels