March Audiobook Report

8 04 2014

My March listening was dominated by my decision to Binge listen to the Repairman Jack series. Binge series listening was something I enjoyed doing before I began blogging, but with the drive to keep current, I stopped. Well, f’ that noise. I love a good series binge. It offers interesting insights into the world the author created, and helps a reader like me who tends to lose the details about characters over a long delay. Since the Repairman Jack series is more or less completed and in audio, I gave it a go. Of the 16 books I listened to in March, 7 were Repairman Jack books. The highlight of the month, and perhaps the year was the release of a new Jack Ledger book and a few birthday audiobooks from friends also made the cut. Here is my listens for the month, with some mini-reviews.

Archetype by MD Waters

Read by Khristine Hvam

Penguin Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 12 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade: B

While Khristine Hvam does an excellent job bringing this highly textured novel to life, there was something in the structure of the novel that made Archetype a struggle in audio form. The transition between the dream/memory sequences and real time were confusing, and took time to adjust to. The story itself was solid, straddling the line between classic Young Adult themes and adult dystopians like The Handmaids Tale and The Testament of Jessie Lamb, with a touch more science fiction. MD Waters is a strong storyteller, and Archetype offers a thought provoking tale with a few clever twists along the way.

The Alligator Man by James Sheehan

Read by Ray Chase

Hachette Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 1 Min

Genre: Legal Thriller

Grade: B+

As a fan of James Sheehan’s legal thrillers and a recent convert to Team Ray Chase, I was very excited about The Alligator Man. Sheehan blends the Florida Thriller style of James W. Hall with the legal procedural in an effective manner. I struggled a bit with the storybook reconciliation story between father and son, due to many factors including personal issues. Sheehan doesn’t break too much new ground, telling the story of a Big Firm lawyer looking for redemption, and including some Perry Masonque legal happenings, but all together it works. His character development is superb, and there is enough solid courtroom machinations to please my legal thriller nerd. Ray Chase is again excellent. He struggles early with some breathy female voices, but I think this was more due to the characters than his performance. He has a deep gravely tone that can smooth out in unexpected ways offering surprising range.

Ruins (Partials, Bk. 3) by Dan Wells

Read by Julian Whelan

Harper Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 4 Min

Genre: YA Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Grade: B+

Dan Wells is one of the few authors I trust to properly end a series, and he does it solidly in Ruins. A good ending answers the questions you need answered while still leaving enough to allow you brain to linger in world the author created. Ruins is a strong fast paced post apocalyptic tale, with realistic characters and lots of cool weirdo shit along the way. As someone who has read a lot of apocalyptic lit, it’s awesome when an author manages to include elements you just haven’t seen before and her wells offers some of the strangest, most fascinating ecological and biological twists since Heiro’s Journey. Julia Whelan gives another solid performance, never getting in the way of this fun story. A strong finish to another quality Dan Wells series.

Eden Rising (Project Eden, Bk. 5) by Brett Battles

Read by MacLeod Andrews

Audible Studios

Length: 9 Hrs 43 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Pandemic

Grade: B

MacLeod Andrews reading about the apocalypse. Shit, that’s a no brainer. Brett Battles has upgraded the classic apocalyptic adventure series with a well crafted and fun look at a potential man made pandemic. Lots of cool characters, plenty of action and bad guys getting what they deserve makes this a series perfect for those apocalyptic fanboys and girls looking for something to fill their end of days. Plus, did I mention MacLeod Andrews. Dude kicks ass, right? His handling of these diverse characters adds a thrill to the listen, and he drives the pace like a high schooler with a Trans Am.

Already Reviewed:

Review Pending:

Armchair Audies Listens:

Repairman Jack Series:

Audiobook Review: The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan

31 01 2013

The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan

Read by Rick Zieff

Hachette Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 53 Min

Genre: Legal Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Layer’s Lawyer grabbed me from the beginning, and kept me ensnared the entire time. Full of engrossing characters,  touching friendships, heart shaking twists and high stakes courtroom action, The Lawyer’s Lawyer sets the bar quite high for this year’s batch of Legal Thrillers.

Grade: A-

I have always considered myself a pretty solid pop culture armchair lawyer. I am not a lawyer, nor have I had any legal training beyond a few college courses. Yet, I have watched and read enough legal fare, both fiction and nonfiction, to get annoyed at episodes of Law & Order. I like to watch Legal TV Shows, and read Legal Thrillers and figure out my strategies, what I would do in a courtroom, and blather to my friends about why those idiotic fictional lawyers are doing wrong. In fact, before life got in my way, I wanted to go to Law School and become the next Bobby Donnell or Jack McCoy. Yet, in no way do I actually know even a percentage of what a Lawyer knows. The thing is, when I watch these shows or read the books, I like to be the analytic type. I got shocked when a fictional detective would fudge things in their investigation. Don’t they know that when they are hunting a serial killer they should go above and beyond to adhere to the law to prevent the killer getting off on a technicality? And what if they have the wrong guy!  I get livid with those cops, or even the victim’s families that rudely chastise Defense attorneys. These people are doing a very important job. Sometimes, in my desire to be the technical; analytical lawyer type, I forget that these cases are about people. Emotional and flawed people. People who want to bring the killer to justice. People who have their lives turned upside down. People who bring their own ethics and morality to a case.

After years running his own firm, Jack Tobin is now living in a small town in Florida, taking a few small cases, and working with a non-profit defending Death Row cases. When asked to take a look at the case of a potential serial killer on death row which he may have a personal connection to, Jack is hesitant. Yet, something about the case isn’t quite right, and Jack finds himself fighting for his life amidst public outrage, corruption and murder.  James Sheehan’s latest entry in the Jack Tobin series had me enthralled from the very beginning. While The Lawyer’s Lawyer offers everything fans of Courtroom thriller would want it goes beyond that to include a hunt for a deadly killer, a realistic adult love story, and a tale of obsession and revenge. This wasn’t a typical, by-the-number’s legal tale. Sheehan takes a lot of risks here, and it truly pays off. Sheehan does an excellent job showing the human side of the legal process, with its inherent flaws and its ability to be manipulated yet he also manages to maintain some levels of faith in the process. While I really liked Jack Tobin, at times I found him to be too upstanding. I’m not sure if it’s the cynical side of me, but some of the decision that Jack made, I had trouble seeing someone make. Yet, I think that Sheehan did a good job keeping Jack’s nature consistent. I also had some level of frustration with the ending. Not that the ending was bad. It was a little pat, and in someway justified many of the issues I had with Jack’s decisions. This was what bothered me. On some level, I wanted to think that my ideas were better than Jack’s so I wanted there to be more consequences when we disagreed. This is one of the problems for me with legal thrillers, I insert myself a bit too much in the narrative. Yet, it’s a true testament to Sheehan’s plots and the characters he develops that I became so invested in the story. There were moments in the story that made me so upset, I was literally yelling at the characters, or flinging profanities in their direction. The Layer’s Lawyer grabbed me from the beginning, and kept me ensnared the entire time. Full of engrossing characters, touching friendships and heart shaking twists, The Lawyer’s Lawyer sets the bar quite high for this year’s batch of Legal Thrillers.

This is my first experience with narrator Rick Zieff and I sincerely hope it’s not my last. Zieff takes over the Jack Tobin role from Disk Hill and doesn’t miss a beat. He has a pleasant but gruff voice, that’s gritty yet manages to capture the slick oratory of the courtroom. His characterizations are spot on and well considered. He uses the clues the author gives to create authentic voices infusing each character with life.He does a good job with the humor of the tale, delivery the snarky back in forth with the right amount of levity His pacing, whether it be the laid back jocular bar talk of Jack and his friends, or the almost hypnotic rhythms of the courtroom, was impeccable. I think what I really loved about Zieff’s performance was how it just felt real. I didn’t feel like I was being read to by a professional voice artist Instead, I felt pulled into the story like I was sitting in the gallery experiencing the action first hand. Zieff impressed me as a narrator, and I definitely will be looking for his name in the future.

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