Category Archives: Review

Review: Dark of Night – Flesh and Fire

Dark of Night - Flesh and Fire
Dark of Night – Flesh and Fire by Jonathan Maberry narrated by Ray Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this audio book for review via AudiobookJukebox.com*

I cannot get enough Jonathan Maberry, so you could imagine my enthusiasm when I found out about this book. It takes three of Jonathan’s worlds and melds them together. Joe Ledger, from his bestselling thrillers, meets Des Fox of the Dead of Night series. That series leads into his run of hit Post-Apocalyptic zombie tales, Rot & Ruin. Rachael Lavin makes her debut as well laying out the adventure of Rachael; a cosplayer who, out of necessity due to the new world in which they now live, turned real life superhero. Having read virtually all of the books from those three series, save maybe a novella or two, I put this at the very tip top of the queue. I also was very excited to see how well Jonathan and Rachael work together. I have very high hopes as Jonathan Maberry is a proven editor, and exceptional one. These ingredients mixed with Ray Porter performing is a recipe for a hit.

The story starts off six months after the events of Fall of Night. Des Fox sets off in hopes of finding somewhere more secure for her people and ends up running into some major trouble, Joe and his dog are doing their best to save a girl from some thugs and ends up running into a situation he may have been better off avoiding, and Rachael sets off to find more survivors to bring back to her base and ends up coming across something only a hero can handle. In a world where the word “safe” has almost no meaning, the three take seperate paths as they battle their way through the dead and the living culminating in a thrilling and intense conclusion fit for a Maberry novel.

Jonathan Maberry’s writing was never in question of course; the man knows how to tell a story and tell it extremely well. Not to mention the fact he can write a very intense and completely enthralling fight scene. Rachael Lavin’s debut was a home run in my opinion. She has a very similar style of writing to Maberry, probably due in part to her time in his writing program, Writing for Teens. That said, she absolutely has a voice all her own and she knows how to use it. She channels her inner hero, intertwines it with her apparent love of comics, through her writing and delivers an enthralling tale. For any that may be concerned with jumping into this book without having previously read any of his other work, do not be deterred. The author does a great job of including backstory and easter eggs for his characters through very well done dialogue. Dialogue delivered with precision by Ray Porter.

Ray Porter is without a doubt my favorite narrator. Every book is a stellar performance. Despite the fact that he reads his books cold (he does no prereading, just jumps in), or maybe because of it, he reads with passion and precision, and speaks as if he knew the characters personally. Very few writer/reader combos can compete with Maberry and Porter; I’m convinced Ray is in fact Jonathan’s “writing voice” come to life. The fact that Rachael Lavin has such a similar writing style to her predecessor made for a seamless and stellar narration of all points of view in the novel. For fans of Jonathan Maberry and/or Ray Porter this audio book is an absolute must have. It brings the authors world together in epic fashion and explores new facets of the characters. It’s an outstanding debut for Lavin and a collision of awesome for Maberry.

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Review: Zombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part

Zombie Fallout 6: 'Til Death Do Us PartZombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

4 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audiobookreviwer.com

Zombie Fallout book 5 left us hanging on a brutal cliffhanger; Michael Talbot lying dead in the middle of the street. I assumed he wasn’t going to die, but I did not know what Mark Tufo had in store for the half-vamp. Anxious to finish what was an incomplete story in book 5, I put in my headphones and listened to Sean Runnette tell the next chapter of the Talbot Mythos.
Mike Talbot jumps to his feet and yells, “I’m back!” Then he quickly, or as quickly as a man who was just dead could, runs for cover. He was told a secret while he was dead—I’ll spare the details as it’s much more enjoyable to experience the beginning, rather than be told what happens— and now that he’s back, he will stop Eliza and show her followers the error of their ways. They should never have come after his loved ones. While BT, Gary, and Deneaux are making their way back to Maine in hopes of making a difference in the upcoming battle; Mike comes across a young woman held captive in the back of a Big Rig. Her name is Azile and she has goals very similar to Mike’s, she wants to kill Eliza. With a truck to drive, and his new friend in tow, he makes his way to his family.

Sean Runnette did a very good job, as usual. He just works for this author, his voice clicks with Mike & Co. The production quality was good and there was no background noise or echoing. This narrator always gives a good performance.

Overall a pretty good book, however, this series is on a downswing. Though I liked this one better than five, which didn’t have an ending, it was very slow. In my opinion, the plot was stale until about ¾ of the way through. Yes, that is when all the really good action starts, but it’s also when the whole group gets back together, and that is when Tufo is at his best. The banter and love between Mike and all his friends are what carries this series, when they are separated from one another I feel myself being pulled from the story. I’m hoping the whole gang stays together for the next installment.

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Review: Alive In A Dead World

Alive In A Dead WorldAlive In A Dead World by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

4 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this audio book for review from Audiobookreview.com*

Having listened to the previous Zombie Fallout books, I’ve grown to really enjoy this series. There is dark humor, witty dialogue, zombie action, mind controlling vampires, and a fair share of heart. This was pretty much the same.

Zombie Fallout 5 opens with Talbot & Co. looking for revenge. They plan to attack a caravan towing Eliza, Tommy, and a lot of zombies in hopes of crippling them enough to keep her off their backs. 3 survivors soon find themselves being taken in by a mother and her child, while another batch of the Talbot clan has difficulties of their own. It’s a race against time, and zombies, as Mike tries to find a lost friend and uncover a secret hanging over his head. Can Mike Talbot trust everyone in his group? Can he hold on to his sliver of sanity when he see the truth? I couldn’t tell you, the book ends with a brutal cliffhanger that is infuriating. Not only because the story doesn’t end, also because I want the rest of the story. Luckily, I already have the next installment available to me, otherwise it would have moved down on my list. I don’t typically mind cliffhangers in series, when they’re done well and the book tells a complete story. That’s not the case here. It’s just completely open ended, intriguing and exciting, but annoyingly unfinished.

Sean Runnette yet again takes the role of Mike Talbot. I haven’t listened to anything else Runnette has done, but his voice fits in perfectly with Tufo’s writing. There was no background noise, static, or mumbling. He’s a solid narrator and I couldn’t think of anyone else who could play these characters.

Mostly, I really enjoyed this story. There were a couple of long flashback scenes that kind of took you out of the story, but they were entertaining. If you like a zombie drama, you will probably like this book.

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Audio Book Review: Sick by Brett Battles

Sick
Sick by Brett Battles, Read by MacLeod Andrews

4 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this audio book for review from Audiobookreview.com*

This was my first Brett Battles book and I must admit, I’m a bit upset I haven’t tried his work before. I had no idea what to expect outside of the description. I am a sucker for a good techno thriller or post-apocalyptic story so I assumed I would enjoy it and plugged in my earbuds.
Captain Daniel Ash and his family had only lived here for just a few months when he woke from a nightmare to find his daughter burning hot, and though his son seemed fine, his wife was dead in bed. They were separated, put into containment trucks, and hauled off to a secure facility. After hours of being held Ash is informed by Dr. Littlefield that his daughter and son had fallen to the illness, but that he was immune to the virus.

The Virus being KV27A, an airborne virus that can seep into the eyes, nose, mouth, or any other open wound or orifice. Its fatality rate nearly 100%. Due to the fact that Captain Ash seems to show immunity, Dr. Littlefield plans to kill Ash and examine his body in hopes to make a vaccine. After eight weeks in the cell, Daniel Ash finds himself escaping, with the help of some new friends, from an exploding building. Though they saved his life, the strangers had Daniel drugged and tied down.

Upon waking he offered food and no longer restrained. He was introduced to a man named Matt Hamilton who runs an underground militia known as The Ranch. Matt informed him that his bloodline carried the immunity and that his children were, in fact, alive. He was also told the Virus was man-made and the name of the person responsible for the virus, and his wife’s fate, Nathaniel Karp. Doctor Karp is part of a secret government agency who has a extreme, and insane idea to “save” the human race.

Meanwhile, the virus spread farther than expected due to an oversight by the cleanup team causing the quarantine zone to expand and infect a group of students on their way home. Battles goes on to introduce you to a few characters: Paul, a teenager who tries to escape and witness something horrible instead. Tamara, a reporter trying to make her career but makes enemies instead, as well as Martina and Ben, who are among the group of stranded students. All interesting characters who seemingly have a larger role in the following books, which are already added to my “to-read” list.

This intriguing thriller is brought to life my MacLeod Andrews, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. He is actually what drew me to this book in the first place. After hearing him do STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson, I was hooked. This was no different than his other performances. If anything, he’s gotten even better and I will continue to follow him.

All in all this was a very engrossing story. Battles makes you care about the characters and unravels the tale at a great pace. There wasn’t constant action, nor was there a lot of dull dialogue. I’m extremely anxious to try more of his work, in and outside of the Project Eden series. I would suggest this techno-thriller to anyone who likes the Wayward Pines or Joe Ledger series.

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War Games meets Ender’s Game

Armada
Armada by Ernest Cline; Performed bye Wil Wheaton

ARMADA is Cline’s second novel, the first being READY PLAYER ONE, which I read about a year ago and loved. His follow up is extracted from the same vein, pop culture; emphasizing on video games and SciFi movies. I had so much fun listening to RPO, I wanted another one. I was pining for a new Ernie Cline novel. I picked it up on day one, listening before it even completed downloading.

Zack Lightman is sitting in his high school class, when he looks out the window and sees a UFO. What makes it worse, it is the same spaceship from Armada, the game he and millions of others play. –Armada is an online flight simulator in which you work for the Earth Defense Alliance (EDA) controlling combat drones remotely while battling evil aliens hellbent on destroying humankind. Prior to that, the same company released a game called Terra Firma; in that game, you control remote mechs and defend the planet from the ground. Zack thinks he may be suffering from schizophrenia, until the next day when an EDA transport ship lands on his school lawn. A familiar face steps out and calls for Zack. Apparently, the EDA is real, and due to his top 10 ranking in Armada, he’s being recruited! Zack goes on to meet some new friends, fight alongside some old ones, and discover a part if his past he thought long buried.

This has received some criticism for being a rip off of THE LAST STARSHIP. I haven’t seen the movie, so those criticisms fell on deaf ears. I’m a gamer, I’m a sci-fi and fantasy geek, and I love comic books; I think it’s safe to say this book is aimed at people like me. The pop culture references, I feel, are a big part of what makes this book so much fun. They tug at little strings of nostalgia, or they remind you of a movie you love but haven’t seen in awhile. However, it is a double edged sword; the same one liner Zack spits out that makes you think of your favorite scene from Lord of the Rings, also takes you out of the story you’re reading, it can be distracting. The pace of the novel was really good, there wasn’t a huge chapter filled with an info dump (well, maybe there was and I missed it because I was enjoying the story). and the dialogue was a lot of fun. The plot was slightly predictable with respect to how the journey would unfold. It follows a very typical coming of age layout — Young man has power thrust upon him, he struggles with new responsibilities, he charms the girl, he endures loss and overcomes, and ultimately, he becomes the hero. — however, I can honestly say the ending surprised me, I did not see it coming. That coupled with some really great writing, leaves me wanting more. Ernie has major writing chops, that’s obvious. I was completely engrossed in both this and RPO, from beginning to end.

This is a fun, light read brought to life by Wil Wheaton. As usual, he delivered a great performance. He is easy to understand, most of his voices are distinguishable, there’s never any background noise, and he has a way with Mr. Cline’s dialogue that just meshes well. I haven’t heard a Wheaton book I considered poorly read; he is always good.

Overall I loved it, I recommend it, and I will be listening to it again. I suggest you do the same, sir or madam who is reading this review, because if you were not interested in these themes mentioned above, you probably would not have made it this far. Go, enjoy some interstellar dogfights and a shared love of geekery goodness!

 

There is another really good review of Armada at Audiobookreviewer.com

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Review: After The End

After The End
After The End by Melissa Gibbo

Originally posted to Audiobookreviewer.com

I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, especially those featuring Zombies, and was excited to discover there would also be vampires. Though I had never read any of Melissa Gibbo’s work, nor listened to Piper Lewis’ narration, I was anxious to jump in.
One night while sitting around a fire with some new friends, a stranger approaches Squirrel and her companions with a free meal and an offer. In exchange for food he would help hunt Zombies and protect the group. The catch? The stranger, known as Cal, is a Vampire and blood is the sustenance he requires. Seeing no better option for survival the Nova Nocte is born. Over the course of the following months; the group sets up a base with walls and cabins, meets a new vampire, welcomes in new survivors, and even rid themselves of some.

This was an enjoyable Post-Apocalyptic tale. Though the story doesn’t bring a lot of new ideas, the book was well written, nicely executed, and never felt too tired. The main character was pretty good, though perhaps a little too trusting. However, you can see a change in that character trait over the course of the book, which was a relief to me. I’m also a big fan of Cal, a former member of the Roman Legion turned Vampire. I really hope Melissa Gibbo adds more character to an already intriguing persona.

The audio quality of the book was very good. The narrator, Piper Lewis, who is also new to me, did a pretty good job at telling the story. She was easy to understand, read clearly, and did a decent job of giving the characters individual voices. My only complaint with the narration is the tone of the reader. Her voice was monotonous and she did not display much emotion in her reading. That being said, I would not hesitate to spend a credit on her works.

Overall, a pretty interesting audiobook for anyone who may be a fan of Post-Apocalyptic stories. Good storytelling with an intriguing ending and, from my limited research, a fairly new narrator with plenty of potential to be great.

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Review: The End Has Come and Gone

The End Has Come and Gone
The End Has Come and Gone by Mark Tufo

Orignally posted to Audiobookreviewer.com

I love what Mark Tufo has created with this series. During the fallout of the Zombie Apocalypse, caused by tainted H1N1 vaccinations, Mike Talbot and his family battle against humans, Vampires, and of course Zombies. Despite having made a mortal enemy of an ever powerful vampire named Eliza, Mike fights his way to his family. He makes it but his adopted son Tommy is abducted by Eliza, it turns out they are siblings. His best friend, Paul, and a few others split off to find their own families.

Mike, Justin, Travis, Tracy, and Gary decide to set out and find Tommy. Two days before they leave Mike’s older brother, Ron, shows him a shoe box with some thing his grandparents left them. Included in that shoe box is a mysterious locket with a picture of Eliza. Even though nothing happens when Ron holds, every time Mike touches the locket it feels ice cold and pricks his finger, drawing blood. Where did this locket come from and why did his grandparents have it?

Shortly after heading out from the Talbot household, the group come across a small group of children. After a debate and a heartfelt goodbye, Tracy decides to take the children back to Ron’s house. Along the way, Tracy runs into a some familiar faces and a couple close calls. Meanwhile, Paul and a group of survivors get trapped on the roof of a furniture store surrounded by zombies. Their only hope of rescue was Mike Talbot, who somehow got an odd message to Marta, one of Paul’s group.

Along the way, Team Talbot comes across three more survivors that join their ranks, later regrouping with some people close them. Now back to a full roster, save Tommy, Mike and the others make it the furniture store to learn that Tommy and Eliza are both there. Upon making it to the roof with his friends, Mike Talbot discovers there’s only one way to save everyone’s life. Can he make the sacrifice and save everyone, or was the price too high for even him?

This is by far my favorite ZF story so far. It’s full of twists and surprises, dark humor only friends can share, and a lot of heart. There was plenty of feeling in this story and the narrator made it even more engrossing. Sean Runnette IS Mike Talbot, period. He brings the dialogue to life in such a way that becomes the characters. His reading, mixed with Tufo’s dark yet hilarious interactions and inner monologues, makes you feel like your there with them, part of the family. I often found myself having to pause the book just so I can pay attention to work, or more accurately, stopping work until a climactic scene passes. (Please don’t tell my boss). Completely addictive and engrossing. I’m going back for more.

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