Bob’s Audiobook Report: January Roundup

7 02 2014

Despite surgery, preparing for a move and general life unpleasantness, I was able to listen to a respectable 11 audiobooks at just over 131 hours in January. My priority in January was to focus on some series books that have been sitting on my TBL pile for way to long. I made some good headway into F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack series, completed Ian Douglas’s Heritage Trilogy and rounded that out with a Burke novel. All the books I listened to where backlist novels, except for Myke Cole’s latest Shadow Ops book, Breach Zone and the start of a new series for BV Larson.

Overall, January was tough, but now most of the hurdles have been jumped and I am starting to get the blog moving again. In February, I have a bunch of new releases on my list, including new ones by William Forstchen, Tim Dorsey Jeff VanderMeer and Daniel Suarez. I also plan on continuing my focus on series, with more books by Andrew Vachss and F. Paul Wilson. Expect quick and dirty reviews of the new releases and roundup style reviews of everything else.

Also, sometime in the next month the Audies will be announce, and Jennifer, The Literate Housewife has some fun things planned for The Armchair Audies. This blog will again be taking on the Science Fiction and Fantasy categories. I haven’t decided whether to take on the Paranormal Category. I may wait until the announcement and see how many titles I will need to tackle.

Besides reviews, look for my Top 10 Post Apocalyptic Audiobooks of 2013 Post and some fun Audie predictions.

Here’s the roundup of the books I listened to in the second half of January.

Luna Marine by Ian Douglas (The Heritage Trilogy, Bk. 2)

Read by Ray Chase

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Science Fiction

14 Hrs 57 Min

Grade: B

Europa Strike by Ian Douglas (The Heritage Trilog, Bk. 3)

Read by Ray Chase

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Science Fiction

14 Hrs 23 Min

Grade: B-

The Heritage Trilogy was a whole lot of fun blending high concept space exploration and exogenesis with Military Science Fiction. The book often gets bogged down in concepts, then shift to fast paced action, leaving the listener disoriented. The narration is top notch. Ray Chase is quickly becoming a personal favorite.

Choice of Evil by Andrew Vachss (Burke, Bk. 11)

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Genre: Thriller

10 Hrs 46 Min

Grade: B+

This edition to the Burke series gives more insight into Burkes past, and the mystery presence of Wesley. The Burke series is one of the more disturbing yet fascinating looks at the darkside of humanity out there. Phil Gigante is excellent as always.

Hosts by F. Paul Wilson

Read by Christopher Price

Brilliance Audio

Genre: Thriller

13 Hrs 13 Min

Grade: B+

Probably wasn’t a good idea to read this one right after surgery. Hosts was one of my favorite Repairman Jack novels so far, blending supernatural and biomedical thrillers.

Also, check out my review of Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole and my Top 20 Audiobooks of 2013.





Bob’s Audiobook Report: January Week 2

13 01 2014

Week two of 2014 saw me completing 4 Audiobooks, two from the same series, and two of series that have been sitting on my TBL Pile for a while. Since I have a lot of stuff coming up in January, a move at the end of the month, surgery this week, as well as plenty of other stressors, I have been looking for lighter, more straightforward stories that are easy to focus on. This is why I have been choosing mostly action based series with well drawn characters, because during times like this, I have trouble focusing on highly conceptual plots and esoteric storylines. I like monsters and explosions and aliens and my choices all pretty much hit the mark.

Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, Book 3)

Read by Christopher Price

Brilliance Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 28 Min

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Grade: B+

All The Rage by F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack, Book 4)

Read by Christopher Price

Brilliance Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 17 Min

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Grade: B+

I completed two of F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack novels, COMSPIRACIES and ALL THE RAGE. In the beginning of long running series, especially those with a supernatural edge, I always enjoy watching the development of the series mythology. I feel both of these book are important to building the Repairman Jack Mythos, while still pretty much self contained stories. Both were a lot of fun, each giving more incite into Jack, while continuing the frustrating interpersonal conflict between Jack’s desire to be a part of his girlfriend Gia and her daughter’s life, while knowing that he also lives on the edge of society and must feed his need for adventure and violence. I am still less than thrilled with Christopher Price’s narration, especially in comparison to the other narrators in the series. I think his voice is too deep for the character, and while his vocal range is admirable, I don’t thing he ever nails the characters. They always feel just a tad off of what they should be, like listening to a celebrity impersonator, just after listening to the real thing.

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell

Read by Kirby Heyborne

Blackstone Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 36 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Alien Invasion

Grade: B+

Midnight City has been languishing on my mountainous TBL pile for a long time, and with the recent release of the second book in the series, I thought I had to give it a go. Midnight City has a War of the Worlds meets Chtorr feel. A classic Alien Invasion vibe with an esoteric spin and a touch of magic. While marketed as a Young Adult novel, it definitely has a more mature vibe that should fit a large range of readers. It did take me a while to get into the book. Mitchell doesn’t ease you into his world, but throws you right into the deep end, and it takes some time to adjust. But when the book gets moving, it gets bad ass moving, with now stop action in a fascinating apocalyptic setting. Kirby Heyborne’s excellent performance shouldn’t be a surprise to any audiobook fan. His reading is crisp and professional, with just the right amount of edge.  

Semper Mars (Book 1 of The Heritage Trilogy) by Ian Douglas

Read by Ray Chase

Audible Frontiers

Length: 13 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Grade: B+

Military Science Fiction is one of my go to genres when I find myself in a reading slump and just want something fun, fast and furious. MilSF has a way of making fascinating concepts accessible and throwing in lots of pyrotechnics for effect. Yet, not all MilSF hits the spot. My first attempt at a Ian Douglas novel failed miserably. Didn’t like it at all. Yet, the concepts around The Heritage Trilogy seemed fascinating, and I had been looking for more stuff performed by narrator Ray Chase. Semper Mars is jingoistic, HOORAH! near future MilSF at it’s best. Full of lots of Marine history, potential alien tech, World War between the ol’ US of A, and those pesky univeralist United Nations. and clever battles, Semper Mars was just the right listen for my mood. Ray Chase continues to impress. While I think he’s a better 1st person narrator than a 3rd person, his voice is pleasant, and he brings the characters alive. He never hampers the relentless pace of the narrative, and at times can be just as clever with his delivery as a marine with a beer bomb.

Coming Soon: Well, this week I have surgery, so I’m not sure how it will affect my listening. I plan on continuing listening to Repairman Jack, and The heritage Trilogy (currently listening to book 2). I also plan on listening to a book called Noise by Darin Bradley read by Chris Patton. Plan on a bit more print reading this week during my time off.





Audiobook Review: Bloodstar by Ian Douglas

10 09 2012

Bloodstar by Ian Douglas (Star Corpsman, Bk. 1)

Read by David Drummond

Harper Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 45 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Bloodstar has everything a good military science fiction novel should have, lots of action, some cool alien baddies, and well thought out tech, but sadly it stutters along the way with endless exposition, cheesy male fantasy tropes and a poorly executed twist. I liked the characters and overall story, but too many bumps along the road kept me from fully enjoying the trip.

Grade: C

So, I know not to trust Skynet, right. I get it. Some day, when the machines runs the world under the guide of the sentient computer mind that currently inhabits Amazon’s Recommendation program, I will kick myself for giving into its tantalizing suggestions of novels I may like to read. I know that it spends the majority of its time plotting world domination, with only a cursory glance at its book recommendations, and I know it’s using the funding it gets by trapping people into buying their books solely from its hive mind collection of entertainment devices but I still fall for its trap. The Amazon algorithm is a pretty simple standard, "You liked this, and other people who liked this purchased this…" switchaaroo that I could probably have programmed using BASIC in my 9th grade Computer Math class. 10 If Bob Likes ***** Then GOTO 20. 20 Joe Liked ***** and Purchased ****** 30 End. So, one of my favorite sub genres is military science fiction. I have read books by Jack Campbell, John Ringo, David Weber and the like. Back in the day, I used to rate and review Military Science Fiction on Amazon. So, for a long time Amazon has been saying, "Hey Bob, You Like Military Science Fiction. Ian Douglas writes Military Science Fiction, henceforth and so on, you would like Ian Douglas.” Really, despite the evils of Skynet, how can I argue with that logic? So, when I discovered Ian Douglas would be releasing a new book, which is the start of a new series, I thought, "Might as well start appeasing our eventual Overlord now by taking one of his suggestions."

Elliot Carlyle is a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Unit called The Black Wizards. Carlyle dreams of traveling to a new planet where he can discover some new Alien tech and get rich. Yet, when he get’s his first active assignment to travel to Bloodworld where a breakoff religious colony is being threatened by an Alien race, getting rich is the last thing on his mind. He just wants to survive, put his past behind him and make sure his fellow soldiers come home in one piece. There is a lot to like in Bloodstar. Douglas fills his military science fiction tale with lots of details on new technology and Alien biology. Yet, despite these fascinating details, the story is held back by seemingly endless exposition, stilted dialogue, and an overall permeation of cheesiness. Bloodstar feels like the novelization of a shtickty SYFY sequel to the original Starship Troopers movie, which let’s face it, was a pretty cheesy version of a good book. The major problem was, it wasn’t cheesy fun, it was take-yourself-too-seriously but still cheesy. I didn’t hate Bloodstar. At points I enjoyed it. Then, some female soldier would show up to some dinner party in a not simply revealing but basically not existent outfit so the guys could lust after her, and I was like, “Come On!" I actually liked Elliot Carlyle as a character. There were moments where his story was really working, then suddenly it was like Douglas got this brilliant idea for a twist, and went with it despite the fact that it didn’t really match up with what he did in the past. I would call it a continuity error, but it was more like the author was saying, "Oh, what I really meant was that, and you just made a natural assumption that any human being would make.  So really, it‘s your fault if you can’t slam the round pegs of your assumptions into this square hole of a plot twist I just chiseled" It was frustrating because the twists could have been awesome, if executed properly but here it just left me with a case of the "but… butt…”’s." Bloodstar has everything a good military science fiction novel should have, lots of action, some cool alien baddies, and well thought out tech, but sadly it stutters along the way with endless exposition, cheesy male fantasy tropes and a poorly executed twist. I liked the characters and overall story, but too many bumps along the road kept me from fully enjoying the trip.

This is my first time listening to David Drummond as a narrator. For the most part, he did well. His pacing was fine, and his characters all came off well, I just didn’t really like his voice. Now, I can understand why he was cast for this novel. He actually almost sounded like the voice in the propaganda portions of the Starship Troopers movie. He had this sort of old school tone with exaggerated inflection that reminds me of how I assumed most books on tape sounded before I became an audiobook convert. Drummond sounds like a guy you would hire to voice your political ad, if you were running in the 70’s. It wasn’t bad, I just never really engaged with it. I think, with the right material, Drummond would be a lot of fun to listen to, but in Bloodstar, his voice actually highlighted what I didn’t like about the novel. I’m sure fans of Ian Douglas’s work would probably enjoy Bloodstar, but for me, it just didn’t work.

Note: Thanks to harper Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.