Audio Book Reviews, Thriller

The Whisper Man – Audio Book Review

By Alex North
Published: August 20, 2019

This review focuses on the audio book version.

Prior to The Whisper Man being released, I started seeing the terrific reviews coming in for this book. I knew almost immediately I wanted to read it, but wanted to wait until October, which seemed to me to be the perfect month for this book.

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Sci Fi Short Stories/Novella

Mr. Fizzle Pops Ruins Everything – Short Story Review

Aeon 14/Perilous Alliance 6.5 by Chris Pike and M.D. Cooper
Published on: September 22, 2019

Cats in space! What’s weird is this is the fourth science fiction short story I’ve read recently that features a cat – and from different authors too. Personally, I’ve never actually thought about which Earth pet might work best in space, but apparently it’s already decided – and it’s cats. But what’s beginning to pop out to me is the message these authors are sending in three of these four books: Cats are not getting fed!

Description:

Mr. Fizzle Pop tells an epic story about his adventures aboard the Barbaric Queen. In search of a fifty-foot pizza, he pilots a shuttle refitted for love, steals a box of cigars, and nearly gets killed in the process. All in the day and life of your favorite uplifted cat.

Thoughts:

First – love the title. Titles aren’t usually a selling or non-selling point for me, but the name of that cat is awesome and most definitely attracted my attention. I mean, who doesn’t want to know how Mr. Fizzle Pops ruined everything?

But apparently sci fi writers are beginning to see a troubling trend that they are needing to address through their works- calling out like a canary in a coal mine. Do they know something we don’t? In Gerald’s Mistake and Gerald’s Regret, we see how not being fed on time leads Gerald to “accidentally” cause the end of the world. So perhaps they are just warning us of potential apocalyptic events that we can avoid if only we feed our cats. Or perhaps they are attempting to put mystery/thriller authors on notice. They are tired of police walking into the homes of potential victims (or suspects who have fled the scene) where it is noticed that the pet hasn’t been fed for days. But, I digress.

In the Forward section of this short read, the author actually identifies how Mr. Fizzle Pops came to be created and how he is based on their own cat who insisted on constantly being fed.

The short story starts with the crew of the Barbaric Queen crew having a victory party and neglecting to feed Mr. Fizzle Pops. They laugh about his constant need for food and it is this that leads Bubbs and Mr. Fizzle Pops to tell a few stories of past events. Stories are:

  1. How Mr. Fizzle Pops was found by Bubbs and came to be on the Barbaric Queen.
  2. How Mr. Fizzle Pops got rid of the dog (Moon Sausage) that used to be on the ship.
  3. Even though I read it I’m actually not 100% sure on what the third story is about, but I believe it is how some individuals left or were removed from the Barbaric Queen.

This is a series I am not familiar with – at all. I do this often – I see an interesting book, and then read it no matter where it is in the series. Generally, I can figure out the major plots and characters with little to no trouble. However, I had a much more difficult time with this one. The characters weren’t necessarily introduced by who they are within the story and prior plot points were not explained in enough detail that I could pick out what was going on. An example of this is the third story – it begins with Bubbs saying she will take care of another character right after he eats dinner. Then, Mr. Fizzle Pops strolls onto the bridge and cuddles with another character who is also giving him snacks. But, then someone else joins them on the bridge and the dynamics change, but we aren’t told why. I even wondered if they were putting on a show for the cat just to drive him crazy. The scene just didn’t make sense to me, partially because this is all from the cat’s perspective and we are given a “cat’s version” of what is actually occurring, but also because there is no reference point or explanation of the events to fall back on.

Even though I didn’t quite understand the characters and past events, I did find the stories to be very readable and would be interested in reading the series. It was most definitely filled with very memorable characters that felt like a true ‘crew.’ I just wish a little more background had been explained within the story so that I could enjoy it a bit more.

Rating: 3.5 if you’re new to the series 4.0 if you’re familiar with it.

Middle Grade

The Dark Lord Clementine – Blog Tour – Book Review

By Sarah Jean Horwitz
Published on: October 1, 2019

Rooting for the bad guys (or girl in this case) has never been so much fun. While Clementine is still a Dark-Lord-in-training, her father has been attacked by a curse and it is up to Clementine to find a way to break the curse as well as perform all of his required dastardly deeds.

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Audio Book Reviews, Fantasy - General

The Jester: A Riyria Chronicles Short Story- Audio Book Review

Riyria Short Story by Michael J. Sullivan
Published on: July 17, 2014

During the introduction of the audio book, we learn that this particular short story was part of the Unfettered Anthology. The Unfettered Anthology is a compilation of short stories donated by various authors to help Shawn Speakman pay a large medical bill due to his fight with cancer. He had previously had another form of cancer and was now uninsurable. Many well-known authors such as Terry Brooks, Lev Grossman, Mark Lawrence, Jennifer Bosworth, etc. donated their short stories and now there are multiple volumes of the anthology, which Shawn is using to pay it forward. This audio short story is currently free on Audible.

Description:

WHO WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A thief, a candlemaker, an ex-mercenary, and a pig farmer walk into a trap…and what happens is no joke. When Riyria is hired to retrieve a jester’s treasure, Royce and Hadrian must match wits with a dwarf who proves to be anything but a fool. Difficult choices will need to be made, and in the end those who laugh last do so because they are the only ones to survive.

This is a standalone short story of 7,200 words. No prior knowledge of The Riyria Revelations or The Riyria Chronicles is required to enjoy it to its fullest, making this a perfect introduction for new readers or a chance for Riyria veterans to spend a little more time with old friends. The Jester is a story of adventure, bonds of friendship, and a recognition that the choices we make dictates the future we find.

NOTE: This short story was originally published in the Unfettered Anthology edited by Shawn Speakman. It is also available for free in audio form on Audible.com, narrated by the amazing Tim Gerard Reynolds

Thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Hadrian and Royce, who are two of the main characters from the Riyria books by Michael J. Sullivan. I love these two guys, their adventures, their wit and their banter. I would gladly read anything where these two characters are center stage. With that being said, this book technically falls after the The Rose and the Thorn and the before Theft of Swords, but is not necessary to know about these books to enjoy listening to this story.

The story starts with Hadrian and Royce falling into a well. They had been escorting two individuals, Wilmer – a pig farmer and Myra – a candlemaker and the owner of several pieces of a map that potentially lead to a treasure of some kind. After plummeting into the well they find themselves into a dwarven mine full of plenty of dangers.

It is suggested that Royce would have left the two a long time before the mishap into the well and forgone the money they were being paid. But that’s what you might expect from Royce. Truthfully, all any of them wanted was to find an exit out and for the expedition to be over. Eventually, everything comes down to decisions and choices they must make in order to move forward and still be alive.

Overall, I found the story entertaining and a decent way to listen to an audio book when you don’t necessarily have time or desire for a full-length book. The narrator was decent and told the story well, especially given the type of humor Hadrian and Royce stories usually bring.

Length: 53 minutes

Rating: 4 stars

Sci Fi

The Contingency – Book Review

The Contingency War by G J Ogden
Published on: September 20, 2019

This is a science fiction novel I see in two very different lights. The Contingency that I started reading and the one I ended with were so very different from each other. It was a cohesive story line, but the reality of the story I was reacting too at the beginning was not the one I was reading in the end.

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Fantasy - General

The Throne of Five Winds – Book Review

Hostage of Empire Book 1 by S.C. Emmett
Published on: October 15, 2019

I absolutely loved this rich, complex story, which is filled with what feels like a multitude of characters that each have their own motives and purpose within the story. The Throne of the Five Winds is simply beautifully written and one I whole-heartedly recommend.

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YA Fantasy

Witch Hollow and the Wrong Spell – Book Review

Witch Hollow #1 by I.D. Blind
Published on: December 29, 2013

This cover totally sold me on the book when I ran across it. I love the color scheme, the slightly creepy October vibe, the witch flying dead center against the bright, full moon…. Never underestimate the power of a good cover. Thankfully, the story lived up to it.

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