Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it can be read as a stand alone.
Ben has decided to continue on with his time travel explorations. He’s been traipsing around with Mim Quickly, Dr. Quickly’s daughter. But before he knows it, he’s tricked into entering a competitive race, the Chronothon! Each competitor is matched up with a guide and they all vault through time, hunting out their specific hidden items at each stop, each hoping to be the winner. Alas, there’s a lot more going on with the Chronothon than just a simple time travel race.
I had a lot of fun with this story. I love this take on the Amazing Race. Ben has learned some great skills in the few months he’s been time traveling and this race will need all his tricks and wits. Even before he can get started, his assigned guide is murdered and he’s suspected of it! But the race must go on, so he gets a new guide (Viznir, who packs practical stuff like snacks).
There’s one weak spot in this entertaining story. It’s the ladies. Fresca from book one has a tiny cameo. Mim is a ridiculous woman who spends much of the story in a jealous sulk; the rest of the time she’s relegated to love interest & doesn’t get to do much else. There’s some new ladies introduced, out of whom Kera is the more interesting. I hope she gets a bigger part in the next book. I like her attitude and weapons. Mim grew up time traveling and yet the author hasn’t used her character for much. Such a shame. That’s a missed opportunity.
We have tons of new characters in this book. The other competitors include the kid Jonah and his dog Barley (yay!), the Ivans (two copies of the same guy), a tattooed green skin alien named Bozzle, and several others. There’s also several new bad guys like Ariella (who lured Ben into all this madness) and the time purists who don’t get names until near the end. Ben’s life is threatened more than once during the adventure. The scariest moment was when he tangled with the circus freak! Eeek! Yes, a real paid circus freak who lives and travels with a circus.
I loved the time traveling dog and his kid. Such an excellent addition to the story. This tale would have a been a bit less great without those two characters. Jonah’s special ‘organism gun’ brought a lot of humor to the story. Awesome! Can I have one of those guns? <img class="emoji" draggable="false" src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/11/svg/1f609.svg" alt="
This story started off really good. I was pulled in straight away and the tale gripped my attention for the first 3rd of the book. By then, I was attached to certain characters and rode the rest of the story out. It lagged a bit in the middle but picked up with intrigue and action during the last third.
Sawyer is a capable young lady who has been training since a young age to protect her people and combat the bots and carbons. I love that sometimes she’s in charge of a mission but she’s also got bosses back at base. The world has long since been in disarray and humanity is losing the fight against the artificial beings. Everyone wonders when their last day will be. As far as everyone knows, there are only 2 remaining cities in the world: Cytos and Kuros. No one is sure how many free humans are left since they are all in hiding. This setting really drew me in.
I did get a kick out of some of the character names like Tennyson and Byron. Then some have regular names like Kyle and Sam. Toss in Kenzie, who we know from the beginning has something to do with a nefarious group. I do wish there had been more female characters. There is one who serves as the main cook for the humans and Sawyer’s memory of her mother plays a strong emotional role. Still, there is only 1 woman, Sawyer, who gets plot-related stuff done. We need more ladies in this story.
The romance was silly and I felt it dragged the story down. It was cliched and didn’t hold any special magic to it. I found myself hoping the two lovebirds would find out they were blood relatives so then all their angst would have a real reason behind it. I’m evil that way.
Coleman, the Big Baddie, was also a bit cliched too. His lines were always predictable and all the traps could be seen coming a mile off. I wanted a bit more from the evil ones. Also, for some odd reason, most of the humans have never even held a gun…. which doesn’t make sense at all. It’s not like the world fell just last month. No, these women and men have had years (maybe decades) to build secret bases, have organized missions, and a little bit of espionage on the carbons. I expect most would be armed with some weapon all the time and all would know the basics of a handgun.
Chevy the dog was a cute touch but I felt he was put there more to pull on the heart strings and provide some comic relief than anything else. Who takes an untrained dog on a dangerous rescue mission? Sawyer, that’s who! But, why? Sawyer, you’re in charge. You can leave Chevy behind. The base literally locks it doors behind you once you leave for your mission. He’ll settle down eventually, chewing on your favorite shoe.
The last third of the book picks up again with a few twists. I got back into the story and was rooting for Sawyer. Things aren’t looking good for the humans but perhaps Sawyer and crew can pull off a miracle. Sawyer now has some internal, personal battles to work on as well. The sequel holds promise. 3.5/4 stars
The Narration: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell do a good job narrating this book. Stephens makes a great Sawyer with her clear voice that can be both tough and tender. Campbell makes a great eerie Kenzie. Most of the story is narrated by Stephens and she did a good job with distinct character voices. Her male characters sounded like men. I especially liked her voices for the cook and the elderly mad scientist on Sawyer’s side. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by AJ Eversley. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
There is a lot going on in this story! Rolland has fallen on hard times since his mom died and his dad disappeared. He’s been trying to finish out highschool on his own, living out of a car when he can’t hang at a friend’s house. His pride keeps him from telling people his true situation, that, and a healthy sense of self-preservation. It’s always good to not appear vulnerable. Right away, I was cheering for Rolland and wishing him well on whatever horrible undertakings he might be forced into.
Then Time Knights! Yes, I think they need their own theme music. They swoop in and change his life forever, which includes the unfortunate permanent demise of his car and all his possessions. Sephone, Tina, and the old Prof Turtledove try to ease him into his new life, but there’s just no easy way to rewrite your personal history, is there? Rolland has little time to absorb the truth about his parents before fate sweeps them up into a dangerous adventure that involves Andrew Jackson. Yep. Prepare yourself for some fascinating US history (and not the boringly bland stuff you had to learn in school).
I did find most of the ladies and their interactions with Rolland to be silly. Tina dives right into some pre-teen-ish lust thing that just comes off awkward and weird. Meanwhile Rolland is having his own lustful thoughts about Sephone. Later Joan joins the mix, but she’s totally worthy (and great at hand to hand combat). Then we get Blaisy (spelling?), a Native American princess who pulls her own weight. These last two ladies made up for the short comings of the other ladies. I just couldn’t see Tina being the successful leader of anything.
Andrew Jackson is written as a villain in this tale and he’s right up there with the Time Villain (cue evil theme music) Edward Vilth. I will say that Jackson is the better written villain as we get details about his mindset and lack of consideration for others. Tho that hypnosis bit was silly. Vilth is indeed a bad guy but he’s covered all in shadows and doesn’t really stand out at any point in the story.
Towards the end, I did get a little battle fatigue. There’s a lot of back and forth with alliances, new enemies around every corner, but, hey, wait, maybe they could be temporary allies as we kick some butt over here, but then yet another person is kidnapped and held hostage while the others try to rescue them or are forced into doing things their mom told them not to do. So, yes, the story could have been shortened up a bit in this area and it would be more exciting.
All told, there’s a decent story here with a blend of scifi and fantasy going on to propel the time travel. 3.5/5 stars.
The Narration: This is where this audiobook fell down for me. Williams decided to narrate his own book and with some polishing, he could manage it. He has distinct voices for each character most of the time. His female character voices are feminine. His verbal pacing is good too. However, there’s several repeated half sentences, mispronounced words, mouth noises, and why is he pronouncing Rolland like ‘Rawlins’ most of the time? There are significant issues with the recording as well. Sometimes it sounds tinny, sometimes like it was recorded in a cavern. There’s these odd pop sounds (and I’m not referring to the finger snaps) that I think might be from bumping the mic. Then there’s the rustling sounds (paper I think). Also, irregular long pauses between chapters too. If this book was narrated by a professional, it would be so much better. As it was, the narration/recording made it a chore to finish. 2.5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Brett Matthew Williams. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
This book was a pure joy to listen to. I enjoyed every minute of it. Paper Forest was the perfect character to lead me through this near future scifi tale. She’s blessed with caring family & friends even as she grows up in one of the poorest areas, working in a giant landfill. She and her sisters (Rock and Scissors, and yes, they are triplets) each have different talents and Paper’s is her fascination with rockets and Mars. This causes several model rocket mishaps, much to Duggie’s amusement (Paper’s best friend). Everyone in the Fill watches the game show You’re Going To Mars, the entertainment child of trillionaire Zach Larson.
Then a magical thing happens. People have conspired to get Paper on that show because they believe in her, love her, and want a champion of the Fill. The Gitanos, a ruthless family that owns and runs the Fills around the world, have near-slavery multi-generational contracts with the inhabitants of the Fills. The horrible living and working conditions are unknown to outsiders.
There is so much well placed humor in this story. Sometimes it’s used to lighten a moment, sometimes just to give some snark, and then sometimes to make a serious point. Paper is great with her snark. It’s just the right amount and I never got tired of hearing her thoughts on everything.
The other contestants on the show were fun too. Aurora stands out because of all her sass but also because she’s both needy and distrusting all at the same time. She’s one of those celebrity stars known for her music and not her math or engineering skills. The real astronauts that have been training for years for this Mars trip aren’t too thrilled about taking along some bratty contestant winner, whoever that turns out to be. Astronaut Dan Daniels sure isn’t happy and he lets everyone know it.
The suspense winds up and one contestant after another is dropped from the competition. I loved that it wasn’t a bad thing for everyone (in fact someone wins a pet store! Ha! What a consolation prize!). There’s also more humor as the would be astronauts learn about astronaut life, like all those close living arrangements…. when you are doing everything. I mean everything!
Paper has some scary moments but I love how Jane does her best again and again to keep Paper in the game. The Gitanos are just one hurdle. There are others that don’t want a private organization successfully setting down on Mars. Perhaps there is something there we don’t expect after all.
This story gave me one fist-bump moment after another. I was verbally cheering Paper on at times, much to the amusement of people around me. You go Paper! The ending has a few sad moments and some great want to the hug everyone moments. Honestly, this has been one my favorite books for the year. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: Khristine Hvam did an amazing job. She is Paper Forest. I also applaud her ability to make all three sisters sound closely related but to also give each a distinct voice, mostly through attitude. Her male voices are spot on too. She had the perfect older male voice for Zach Larson. Her sass for Aurora was just as I pictured it. The recording quality was top notch. Excellent all around. 5/5 stars.
Note: Even though this is Book 2, it works just fine as a stand alone.
This was a lot of fun. Set in a near future, G is an enhanced assassin. He’s got cyber enhancements, bio enhancements, perhaps even… uh… personal private enhancements. But he also has a limited shelf life. He was created to be used and then discarded (and his realization of all that is in Book 1 but is summarized for this book in bits and pieces). The International Refugee Society (IRS) is a front for a world-controlling power-hungry gang. They’ve been successful for many years but now things are falling apart and G has enemies coming at him from every corner and perhaps even from within his small circle of allies.
The action never ends for G and Marissa Sanchez (another shady character with hidden motives). Along the way, he picks up James (who he has to convince to come over to his side where they at least have paid vacations). There’s also the AI riding around in G’s head. She has a to-do list as well and not everything on there will jive with what G wants to accomplish.
One of the things I enjoy so much about any Phipps novel is that there is usually a reference to his other works tucked in to the tale. In this novel, the term ‘bioroid’ is used, which is a reference to this Lucifer’s Star series (which is great space opera stuff). Then there’s the Supervillainy references as well (which is a great superhero/supervillain series). I love that it’s a TV show in G’s world. Ha!
The ladies are just as diverse and deadly as the men in this series, which is a thing I always love finding in spy & cyberpunk stories. One of the big baddies here is Persephone who has been running things from the shadows for some time. Coupled with Dr. Gordon and his black tech from the Karma Corp, G needs to bring his A game if he’s going to survive to the end of the book!
I was glad that we got to see Lucita Biondi again. She was key in Book 1 for bringing down the Carnivale and she’s still a player here, just not as big a part. Being transgender has brought her all kids of grief from her family, but she’s persevered. With a handgun.
The story also has plenty of references to other cyberpunk tales, including the classics. I loved this! I know I didn’t catch them all but it makes me want to go binge a bunch of cyberpunk and then come back to this series with that on my mind. Action and mayhem keep the plot moving forward even as G and others, like the AI, contemplate what it really means to be human.
All told, it’s a great sequel but it also stands well on it’s own. I was never bored with the tale and I like the few moments of seriousness. I look forward to seeing what Agent G does next. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is always a treat to listen to and I love his voice for Agent G. It’s perfect. Also, Kafer’s delivery of the humor is so well timed! Kafer’s female character voices are feminine and each character has their own distinct voice. There are no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.
What a fun story! I really enjoyed this urban fantasy. Reagan is my kind of bounty hunter – efficient with weapons and full of sass. I so enjoyed all her quips and how that affected those around her. Through a series of work technicalities, she gets stuck working with a powerful and handsome vampire Darius. They are hunting down some strange magics.
Now this isn’t your typical vampire tale. While there is a hint of flirtation that could develop into romance, there are no sex scenes in this story. It’s all about solving the mystery and if a few instances of dry humping occur, that’s just one of the hazards of dealing with magic. While Darius is all for entering into a formal bond with Reagan, she’s an independent sort and not interested.
Reagan has her secrets and apparently some old family friends (Callie and Dizzy) know some of those secrets plus a few more. Reagan’s magic isn’t like any other magic she knows and she goes to good lengths to conceal that. I can see how Callie could become a surrogate mother to Reagan as the series moves forward.
There’s plenty of humor in this story and I applaud the use of sarcasm and pointing out the obvious. Her mouth lands her in trouble a few times but she has the muscle and magic to handle it. Sword, gun, and magic all get equal time in the fights.
When I finished this book, I was quite ready to jump into the next. Looking forward to the rest of the series. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: Nicole Poole was a perfect fit for this book. Her voice for Reagan is spot on and she makes a sexy Darius as well. I love her harsh voices for Reagan’s neighbors, Callie’s commanding shout, Dizzy’s old man apologetic voice, and the mechanical modified voice of the Big Baddie. I felt that Poole had a lot of fun with this story; her enthusiasm shows in the performance. 5/5 stars.
I love that our hero in this tale is an independent, older woman. Angie Bonaparte is an independent investigator that often works closely with the local Milwaukee police. However, she’s also got some character flaws that made it difficult for me to like her. She’s really hung up on looks and comparing herself to other women. Angie assumes all women do this and she does so through out the entire book. I would have liked more self-confidence in her character. She trades some petty gossip about her boyfriend and that puts her in Mean Girl territory. I felt it was small of her… but then I liked how things ended there and felt she deserved it. So, yeah, I had a love/hate relationship with Angie. Despite that, I have solid hopes that she will grow as a person and do better in Book 2.
The plot itself is solid and I quite enjoyed this aspect of the story. Anthony Belloni, a mob boss, is the obvious suspect when his dish on the side (Elisa Murano) gets murdered. Angie was hired by Gracie Belloni (Tony’s wife) to look into whether or not Tony was having an affair. After digging around in Tony’s affairs, she believes Anthony was honestly re-prioritizing his life with the imminent birth of his 4th or 5th kid by his wife. Of course the local police assigned to the case are way more skeptical.
I especially liked Ted Wukowski, one of the police detectives assigned to the case. He’s grumpy and not personable but Angie sees there’s something more going on there. It was a joy to see the back and forth between these two.
The story does beat on one particular drum quite often: a woman’s independence. Angie comes from a very traditional Italian family that expects women to be stay at home wives and mothers. Angie, after her divorce, has broken away from that. She went even further by choosing a traditionally male occupation. I like all of this but, even so, sometimes that drum beating was a little too often. Angie has a bit of a chip on her shoulder while also being a bit silly worrying over her personal sex appeal. I would have liked the story a little more if this aspect had been toned down a bit.
The pacing is good with clues, some action, character building, and this budding relationship between Angie and Wukowski. Over all, I look forward to Book 2 and seeing if Angie can gain some self confidence. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Kieren Calland Metts was OK for this book. Her narration needs some polishing all around. She has a decent voice for Angie and her pronunciations are very clear. She is hesitant with any accent so sometimes it came out a bit fumbled or over-accentuated. Her male voices need some masculinity. The pacing is a little slow and the volume sometimes fluctuates a bit. 3/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nanci Rathbun. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.
I’ve been a fan of Lauren Carr’s works for several years now. Sinking into this book was like joining an old friend for a lengthy cup of tea. I enjoy the writing style and characters equally. There’s also a twist or three and there’s usually more than one mystery to solve.
Jessica and Murphy are trying to balance her schooling and his career with their personal lives. And that’s how they get pulled into a minor investigation that involves a couples’s cooking class. Natalie Stepford is a well known cook and quite the looker too.
Of course, we get a body or two and the investigations into each are off and running. Then Murphy turns up missing. So the timeline jumps around a little in regards to Murphy and that through me a bit more than once. Still, I loved it that Murphy, this very capable man with lots of combat training and other special skills gained from his time in the super secret Phantoms, is the one that goes missing and it’s up to his wife and family to save him.
Newman was a source of amusement, a mix dog of some sort that rules over the TV, changing the station if the show doesn’t suit him. I also found the electronic butler Nigel fun, as people are sometimes started by his disembodied voice.
This tale had a few more cliches than normal for Carr’s works. On one hand, that made it easy to follow along and just enjoy the characters. On the other hand, it did make some things predictable. Despite this, I had a lot of fun with the story.
Murphy’s twin brother gets called in to help lay down a ruse that will bring the culprits to light even as other members of the family continue to pursue their investigations. I didn’t really like that Jessica had to use her feminine wiles, playing a woman in emotional distress, as her part of the ruse. First, she hasn’t acted like that at all, and secondly, she has plenty more to offer as a character.
The action is well balanced with humor and I also liked the flirtations between Murphy and Jessica as they do their best to fit in some sexytimes with their busy schedules. The end leaves us on a very satisfying note. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Mike Alger has narrated several of Carr’s books and listening to his narrations is like listening to an old friend at this point. I love his voices for the men. He manages to make all the related men sound like relatives while also giving them their own unique voices. He makes a perfect Murphy. His female voices are usually feminine but there’s less range there and sometimes more then one woman will sound like the other. His pacing is perfect and there’s no issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.
Note: Even though this is Book 2, it works fine as a stand alone novel.
Private instigator Angeline Bonaparte is growing on me. I was on the fence in Book 1, but I like her better in this story. She’s a bit more mature and not as lacking in confidence as in Book 1. The plot is tighter than Book 1 and the mystery takes a bit more to solve. I also enjoy the continuing relationship between Angie and Ted Wukowski.
I didn’t care for all the fashion name drops and the repeated descriptions of Angie’s underwear. I don’t care that much about her matching bra and panties, even if Ted does. I liked that a 50+ year old single woman enjoys her sexuality, but I don’t need to know her daily choice in under garments. I don’t pay attention to fashion name brands, so dropping those names to describe what characters are wearing was boring for me. Honestly, I’m not going to go google what this type of hat is or that type of jacket.
Back to the plot: Adriana Johnson is a young adult who recently lost both her parents in an apparent robbery gone bad. Now she’s inherited millions of dollars but she’s got lots of questions. Her family didn’t live like they had money so Adriana has suspicions about where this money came from. Considering her family has a bloody past, I think this prudent of her. Adriana has a mix of distrusting nature and innocence. She doesn’t know how to do her own makeup but she’s wise enough to hire a PI to look into this money.
It’s a small cast this time, so it soon becomes apparent who’s the bad guy, but tracking that person down and keeping Adriana safe isn’t so easy. Most of this tale is about the hunt which I liked. Angie carries concealed & knows how to handle her gun, which is great. The fact that she feels she needs to repeat this was a little tiring. Angie had a chip on her shoulder about women working in traditionally male jobs in Book 1; she’s still got that chip in this book. I don’t mind the point being made, but to keep hammering away at it is a little tiring.
Ted and Angie continue to circle each other, figuring out just how deep their romance really is. I liked the back and forth between them. It’s quite sweet how their families get pulled into it. I didn’t feel that Angie should have to apologize to her dad, but I also could see how a traditional Italian family might take the minor ‘scandal’. This tale ends on a sweet, happy note. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Kieren Calland Metts did OK with this narration. Her pacing is a little slow but she has a very good voice for Angie Bonaparte. Her masculine voices are better than in Book 1 but could still use a little more masculinity. Metts accents are hesitant and muddied. Also, and I don’t think this falls on the narrator, but there are several moments in the book where the author explains how certain names are pronounced. With an audiobook version, there’s no need to spell out how to pronounce Adriana, etc. Metts has great little kid voices and a perfect elderly woman voice for Ted’s mother. 3/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nanci Rathbun. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Ben and his friends just wanted to play a bit of softball but that lightning strike zapped them back in time, going from 2009 to 1986. Ben, Fresca, Carson, Robbie, and Blake. They’re all in their mid-20s and quite baffled by the common fashion sense of the average 1980s Florida resident. The story has a bit of nostalgia to it but also plenty of action. Once they come to terms with their reality, sort of, they decide to address their immediate needs: shelter & food & perhaps clothes. Luckily, Robbie’s grandfather lives in the area in the 1980s and luckily he’s bored enough or lonely enough to give these young people a chance.
I love the pace of the story. The tale doesn’t linger over the how and the characters don’t get to wallow in self pity. Sure, some are more concerned than others (Blake – I’m looking at you pining away for Mallory) and some take longer to deal with the shock of it, but pretty soon our fab 5 are hunting for some scientists to help them figure things out. That’s there Dr. Harold Quickly comes into the picture, along with this well traveled daughter Mim.
There’s a challenging foe in the story as well. Strenger is an arsonist who doesn’t mind killing people along the way. Somehow he also got sucked back into 1986 and he is also hunting for answers. I liked this aspect of the story because it complicated matters for our heroes. As if accidental time travel wasn’t bad enough; here’s this murdering evil fire bug to stop.
There was so much I liked about this story. It’s all about the adventure and avoids the often drawn out drama of time travel that can bog a story down. Things keep going wrong and there were a few times that I wanted to give Ben a little shake for making such a simple mistake. There’s side characters that help our heroes and there’s those that do them wrong. I also loved that not all of the fab 5 decided to put everything on the line just to get back to their natural timeline. After all, there’s plenty of time travelers that live when they want to.
The one issue I have with this story is the dearth of female characters. Fresca holds potential but she’s pretty one dimensional in this book. There’s a handful of female side characters, and they do get names and a few lines. However, I had to get about 5 hours into the book before we got another main female character: Mim. And, of course, she’s immediately slotted into the role of main love interest. She contributes little else for the rest of the story. There’s no female scientists or individual time travelers and they make few plot related decisions.
The story leaves us with enough wrapped up to be satisfying but plenty open enough for the sequel to just stroll right in. I was especially happy with Robbie and his choices. I can see Ben becoming the great time traveler we all need him to be. 4.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Neil Hellegers is a shear delight to listen to. He gives Ben the barest goofiness to his voice which makes him sound like the relatively innocent young man he starts off as. I loved his rough, angry voice for the villain Strenger. His female voices are believable and I liked his very light accent for Fresca. His Montana cowboy voice was also well done. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nathan Van Coops. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
I had the great pleasure to listen to Howl of the Lambergoon and was very happy to see a sequel to the series (Gad the Zig). While this is the second book, it stands on its own. As with Book 1, the story captures the fanciful and instantly pulled me in. I own both the audiobook and the paperbook, so this review is for both formats.
A potter lives a lonely life on the Hebrides so he uses a bit of magic to craft a kid (who gets a robin’s nest for a cap and an iron nail for a heart). Gad is then sent on his first quest – to find a meal. The potter warns him seriously to stay out the Fendrees woods.
And we can all see where Gad will have to venture for one reason or another. There’s a turtle involved and faeries! Gad wasn’t sure he would be able to make it out alive! Thankfully, more than one comes to his aid and the faerie queen of Fendrees woods takes their pleas into consideration.
While the plot is straight forward, it is eloquently told. The cadence and word choice are just as well used as the imagery. I would recommend this for adults and kids as there’s enough here to capture the heart of any age. 5/5 stars.
The illustrations are beautifully done, as with Book 1, even with the change in illustrators. The cover illustration didn’t pull me in as much as Book 1 simply because it has so much pink. I can clearly see the artistry in the cover despite the pink and I knew the story would be worthy. The interior illustrations use the full palette and don’t rely heavily on pink. Once again, I love that there’s a fanciful map at the beginning. The illustrations near the end of the tale, when kids are encouraged to hunt out their own magical woods, were my favorites. It’s great that kids of different walks of life are included, such as the kid in the wheelchair. 5/5 stars.
Narration: Derek Murray gives a superb performance. He nails the rhythm perfectly. He has distinct voices for all the characters and his faerie queen voice is feminine. Murray’s Scottish accent adds to the book since it’s set in the Hebrides. 5/5 stars.
I had the pleasure to review the audiobook for Audio Book Reviewer and you can catch my review over there. Derek Murray gives a marvelous performance for the narration of the audiobook. Here is an additional review of the paper version.
This story is just as enchanting the second time through and just a bit more engrossing with all of these luscious illustrations. The characters come to life so quickly and it was easy to put myself in their shoes. The tale holds adventure, mystery, and a quest of sorts. The physical book has a simple but well done map to go along with the story, which is set in the Hebrides. A touch of history and myth curl their way throughout this engaging story. I love Aud’s hairstyle in the illustrations and the lambergoon is a treat to behold!
Told in rhyme, it’s easy to fall into the near sing-song pacing. The charm continues to grow with each passing page. I can see how kids would be easily caught up in this story with all the fun, silly words (like lambergoon). In fact, I bought a copy for my niece. At this rate, she’ll be reading before she’s out of the womb!
This is easily one of my favorite tales of the year, despite most of my reading being dark fantasy, epic scifi, and murder mystery. 6/5 stars.
I’ve listened to this book twice and it was great both times through. The first go drew me in with this airship and the hell divers and the destroyed land beneath them. The second pass let me appreciate the characters more. Xavier (X to most) and his sorta adopted kid Tin are both great characters. Both have a lot on their shoulders and both save their little society in their own ways.
The setting really captured my imagination. Yes, this is post-apocalyptic fiction, but in this world, the apocalypse came a bit further along the human timeline. Even the remnants of the technology that was once available is just beyond what we have now. The Hell Divers jump to gather much needed supplies for their airship, keeping it in the air, away from the worst of the radiation for generations now. But stuff is breaking down, supplies are limited, and the situation becomes more and more desperate.
I did get a little chuckle over Hades being what once was Chicago. All those deadly lightning storms! And the monsters dubbed the Sirens! I’m a huge Dresden Files fan and I can just see Harry Dresden rolling over in his grave that Chicago has fallen to lightning and monsters!
Even with everything being in a desperate state, politics still plays a role in the management of the ship. So true. I can see why the rebels demand more meds and more food but their efforts end in a body count and could have easily ended them all! The captain was put in a very tough situation. She couldn’t let this minor rebellion grow but any body count earns her a bit more hatred from part of the population. Captain Ash earned my respect with her actions during this crisis.
I loved that the ladies were part of every aspect of this story. They were in the military management of the airship. They were Hell Divers. They were teachers, cooks, kids, drug addicted desperate people, etc. For a military post-apocalyptic scifi, this was a very important aspect for me and Smith met the challenge! Yay! It’s only practical to have women be on an equal footing at the end of the world.
The action never stops with this book. There were so many moments where I thought for sure this character or that was toast! I was on the edge of my seat the first time I read it. On the second pass, you could still catch me nibbling my fingernails as I relived this scene or that. This was a very enjoyable book! 5/5 stars.
The Narration: R. C. Bray is a delight to listen to. His deep voice for X is perfect. His female voices sounded feminine and his little kid voices were realistic. He makes a great Tin as well as a great Captain Ash. The pacing is perfect and he performs those emotional scenes perfectly. 5/5 stars
With the way Book 1 ended, I had to jump right into Book 2. Set 10 years later, the book keeps us in suspense as to what ultimately happened to X from Book 1. While that question was in the back of my mind, I got caught up with Tin, who’s real name is Michael Everhart. He’s now a young man, considered a full experienced adult in this post-apocalyptic society. The Hive airship is still flying. Yet things haven’t been all rosy these past years. It’s been one emergency after another. Captain Leon Jordan handles some of these emergencies well and others not so much. As the pressure builds, he makes more and more mistakes.
Once again, the action keeps this book moving along at a swift clip. I worried over this character or that one and was on the edge of my seat for the entire book. Michael is a great character to follow. He’s become a Hell Diver (like his dad and like X). I was glad to see that Layla was still a significant part of Michael’s life. I love that they work as a team and there’s no ridiculous chauvinistic chivalry from Michael and no fainting flower silliness from Layla. These two are a great hero duo.
There’s a canine companion, Miles, in this book which makes life bearable for a certain character. Yay! Of course, there were several times where I worried about the dog’s safety. No fears! The dog makes it through this book.
Captain Jordan is not a good person. I think he once was, but the constant pressure since he assumed control (after Cpt. Ash succumbed to cancer) has brought out the worst traits in the man. I think Katrina, who was once X’s lover, has tried her best to keep Jordan level-headed. I knew Jordan had gone to the dark side when he removed the ship’s historical artwork from the hallways. Bad move!
Hell Diver Magnolia is back in this book but early on I worried if she would make it through this book alive! Her accident acts as a catalyst for Michael and his Hell Divers to break some rules. She’s got some of the best lines in the book.
All told, this is a worthy sequel to Book 1. I found it just as enthralling. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: R. C. Bray continues to do this series justice. I liked his grown up voices for Tin (Michael) and Layla, who were kids in Book 1. He had the perfect voice for jerk captain Jordan as well. His female characters sounded feminine and each character had a unique voice. The pacing was perfect as well. 5/5 stars.
X is my hero! Well, perhaps Miles (his bioengineered dog) is my first hero and X is a close second. I have totally binged read this series. I already have Book 4 on pre-order too. The pace is swift, the setting gripping, and the characters engaging. This series has been one of my favorite stories I’ve listened to this year and one of my favorite post-apocalyptic stories of all time. Book 1 was great and Smith has managed to carry that awesomeness throughout the series.
Team Raptor, lead by Hell Diver Michael Everhart, spends some quality time on Earth rather than up in The Hive airship. Captain Jordan has rocked off his hinges and Team Raptor was in danger of being exterminated. Now Michael knows that X survived the ending of Book 1, even left a recorded radio message that Jordan was aware of, and now Michael needs to find out if X is still alive. Plus, things in the air aren’t going well. The inhabitants of The Hive will need an earthly home sooner rather than later.
Through X, we get to learn more about the remnants of humans and their tech. One of the things I have really enjoyed about this series is that the apocalypse happened further down the timeline so the tech is more advanced than what we have now, but considered remnants by X and the other airship humans. There’s bioengineered animals, and cryogenics, and some AI. This really gives it a near-future scifi feeling as well as being post-apocalyptic.
Katrina has done her best to smooth things out with Captain Jordan but he’s gone too far on too many things. She can no longer keep him stable and reasonable. He’s dead set on keeping The Hive in the air no matter the costs; he’s willing to ignore any facts to the contrary. Katrina has to make some hard decisions in this book and I admired her for that.
Team Raptor (Michael, Layla, Magnolia, and Roger) come across more dangers than just the Sirens and radiation. As they explore the surface, they discover aggressive plants and evidence that the humans in the sky aren’t the only ones that have survived this long. Once again, Magnolia and her smart mouth was one of my favorite characters.
The action propels the story forward and before I knew it, I was done. Now I had to wait for Book 4. The sweet torture! Good thing I can go back and re-read the series before Book 4 comes out. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: R. C. Bray is excellent to listen to in this series. He’s aged and rasped up X’s voice so it’s perfect. I love his smart mouth for Magnolia and his angry, frustrated voice for Captain Jordan. There’s some emotional moments in this tale and Bray captures those perfectly. 5/5 stars.
My addiction to Smith’s works continues. I tore through his Hell Divers series (which I totally loved) and then jumped into this series. Finally, I’m writing reviews.
This post-apocalyptic series is set in modern times, mostly set in Estes Park, Colorado (which is an easy day’s drive north of me). In this scenario, EMPs are set off in key points of the USA, shutting down our electric grid and wreaking havoc. The North Koreans have nearly paralyzed the US government! Even as people start to grasp what has happened, the hits keep coming for Washington DC.
I became attached the Estes Park characters much quicker than I did with the Washington DC characters. I did like the alternating view points. Sam ‘Raven’ Spears (retired Marine) and his dog Creek are my favorite characters hands down. Sam has been a bit of a loaf in Estes Park but now with this nationwide emergency he has a chance to really make a difference. Also, this is a murder mystery story and Raven gets caught up in that too since he and Creek are excellent trackers. Raven’s sister Sandra, who works as a nurse at the hospital, and her daughter (Allie) become caught up in this mystery too.
The reaction of the average citizen was very realistic. Sure, a lot of stuff has stopped working, there looks to have been a bomb off on the horizon (maybe a nuclear bomb), but some things still work and surely the government will be by any time to set things right, right? Some people were more skeptical, some caught on quicker, some didn’t wait to find out one way or another, etc. It was a great mix of believable responses.
I was a little surprised by the ladies. I’m coming to this series from Hell Divers where the ladies do everything the men do; gender equality is a given not a ‘check the box’ thing. So here we have several well made female characters that are competent in their given jobs and yet none of them are in the thick of it. They generally don’t handle weapons and they certainly don’t go out on missions to scout, track, or rescue. I was left wanting more from the ladies.
While Raven works with police chief Colton on tracking down a killer, Nathan Sardetti goes on a rescue mission near Estes Park. His handicapped nephew, Ty, was at a special camp when all hell broke lose. Nathan’s sister, Senator Charlize Montgomery (who’s a retired fighter pilot), was in DC when things headed south. She’s recovering from serious injuries and can’t join in the search herself. Her body guard, Big Al Randall, do their best to rejoin the remnants of the US government.
Unfortunately, there’s a group of white supremacists (Sons of Liberty) in the area near Estes Park and they would be quite happy to have some important captives. I loved hating on their leader, Fenix. He was so hate worthy but also calm, collected, smart. He makes a worthy foe for both Nathan and Raven.
The murder mystery, the believability of the EMP attack and response, and the bits of Sioux & Cherokee believes all worked well for me. The tame ladies left me wanting a bit more. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Bronson Pinchot gave a pretty good performance. There was this side character that was written as very loud and a bit rude and Pinchot did that voice well but sometimes I had to turn the volume down a little. I liked his voice for Raven and he also made a great Colton. His voice for Charlize Montgomery was feminine and carried her strength as well. His voice for President Diego was a little too much Texas politician for me, but that also made it distinct. 4.5/5 stars.