Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Shadows from Boot Hill" by L. Ron Hubbard

"Shadows from Boot Hill"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast Performance
produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

No matter what genre of audio book from Galaxy Audio's Stories from The Golden Age by L. Ron Hubbard I choose, I am never let down. I've stated before, I've never been a fan of Westerns, but with the professional quality behind the production of the audio books makes these books fun to hear. Great sound effects, great voice acting and music between stories and chapters all combine to keep you charged in the story.

From the days of pulp fiction (the mid 20th century), these stories all are fun to hear. Galaxy Press has taken these stories that were published in various magazines at the time and have recreated that pulp magazine feel with short stories in one edition, some are a short novella but most are 2 or 3 stories in one edition. I've seen the books at bookstores and have been tempted to pick them up, but I just keep going back to the audio books. Galaxy Audio takes these stories and produces them into 2 hour audio pulps that are reminiscent of the old time radio dramas from around the same time period.

This audio book contains three stories from the Western genre:

"Shadows from Boot Hill," originally published in June, 1940 tells the story of a hired gunman who acquires sinister shadows. The outlaw, Brazos, has skipped town before collecting his blood money for killing a local banker. With the law hot on his tail, he escapes to Los Hornos and his "friend" Whisper Monahan. The last time they parted ways, they weren't exactly on good terms, but Brazos is on the run and is desperate to rid the posse on his tail. Whisper greets Brazos with orders to kill a local named Scotty Brant that has poisoned over 4,000 acres of his land by sitting on the headwaters of a rare stream using cyanide to extract gold from oxide ore. But this time, Brazos bites off more than he can chew when he learns Brandt's hitched up with a witch doctor out of New Orleans. So to kill Brandt he must first take out the Witch doctor. The witch doctor's last words as Brazos kills him is, "I'll get you white man." Brazos leaves the witch doctor's funeral and finds he now has two shadows, Brazos doesn't put any faith in any myths so he goes on to finish the hit on Brandt, but the shadows haunt him in his task.

"The Gunner from Gehenna," originally published in April, 1949 is a fun cat and mouse/ good guy bad guy story. The renegade “Gunner” returns with plans to steal the miners’ gold but the local Sheriff has other plans. He and the Gunner have a history, in fact the Sheriff used to be a "bad guy." The Gunner plans on recruiting the sheriff to distract the miners while he steals the gold. The Gunner then vanishes into the desert with the deputy sheriff in angry pursuit. But the sheriff seems to have his job made easy, was it all pre-planned?

"Gunman!" originally published February, 1949 is the story of the last days before the railroad takes over the town of Deadlight. With three days left to save his badge, the marshal of Deadlight Brazos Kincade has to prevent the the bank from being robbed. With the town full of railroad shysters and banditos Marshall Brazos has his hands full. But the surprise is who is trying to rob the bank and who gets deputized. I found it odd to include two stories with characters named Brazos, but it was a nice contrast with one good and one bad. This story has the good one. Would it be too much if they had a 3rd that was ugly?

Once again Galaxy Press, Galaxy Audio and L. Ron Hubbard deliver an exciting collection of Western stories to make reading or listening fun.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

"The Hunger Games"
by Suzanne Collins
Read by Carolyn McCormick
Produced by Scholastic Audio Books, 2008
11 hours and 10 min. (unabridged)

I've said it before and I'll say it again today's youth have some great literature written just for them. Here is yet another shining example. "The Hunger Games" takes several ideas and wraps them together to form an exciting bit of big-brother-dystopian-sci-fi. While listening to this audiobook I kept getting thoughts/memories of various bits from media, I would be reminded of the 70's sci-fi film "Logan's Run" at times, or maybe "Rollerball" or "Death Race 2000," then Stephen King's short story turned Schwarzanegger movie "The Running Man," then at times the book reminded me of the multiple reality shows like "Survivor" in which the contestants compete and get voted off. In fact when researching the info on this book I found that the author, Suzanne Collins, was influenced when switching her television back and forth between coverage of the war in Iraq and "Survivor." Collins threw in a bit from the Greek Myth Theseus, who was forced by Minos to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, but survived and created this exciting story.

After reading I found that this book is part one of a trilogy, and the trilogy follows this story's heroine, Katniss Everdeen, as she is chosen to be a tribute to the government to battle in the Hunger games and eventually leads a revolution. But the revolution gets ahead of our story. Let's talk about this one first.

"The Hunger Games" is set in a distant but seemingly not too distant future, after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region Appalachia. Coal is the regions contribution to Panem as all districts have some specialty/export to contribute. The problem is that the government keeps all the regions poor and the people of the districts further from the capitol (which is located somewhere near what is Denver, Colorado) are the poorest. District One near the capitol is the least poor and the higher the number the more the suffering. Katniss is forced to illegally hunt in the woods at an early age after her father dies in a mining accident and her mother becomes locked in grief. Katniss hunts to keep her and her sister alive.

At one point there were 13 districts but the 13th was destroyed when they tried to rebel against the capitol. As punishment for the rebellion every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants, or "tributes", must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. Katniss, in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss knows from school and who once saved Katniss's life by giving her bread when her family was starving.

Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol, where they meet the other tributes and are publicly displayed to the Capitol audience. During this time, Peeta reveals on-air his long-time unrequited love for Katniss. Katniss believes this to be a ploy to gain audience support for the Games, which can be crucial for survival, as audience members are permitted to send gifts to favored tributes during the Games. The Games begin with 11 of the 24 tributes dying in the first day, while Katniss relies on her well-practiced hunting and outdoors skills to survive. As the Games continue, the tribute death toll increases, but both Katniss and Peeta are able to evade death.

Katniss and Peeta are split up and the Gamemakers use dirty tricks and foul play to make the games more interesting by using some of the government's genetic animal mutations, like tracker jackers, a form of wasp that when it stings it can case vivid hallucinations and kill. Or human / wolf hybrids that hunt like wolves but can think like humans. One mutation a Jabber Jay was created to spy on the population, it has the ability to imitate human speech perfectly so they would record the coversations in the districts and report back to the capitol, when this was discovered the populus would feed the Jays false info, after this that project was abandoned, the Jabber Jays were released and later mated with Mocking Birds, creating the Mocking Jay which could sing beautifully. This Mocking Jay becomes a symbol of the people and of their freedom and has a large part in this novel.

The adventures during the battle in the Arena are very exciting and will keep you glued to this one. If you get the audiobook like I did you'll soon discover the talent that is Carolyn McCormick. Carolyn delivers the reading of this book with enthusiasm when needed and differentiates the characters by giving each their own voice.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Promises in Death" by J.D. Robb

"Promises in Death"
by J.D. Robb
read by Susan Ericksen
Produced by Brilliance Audio, 2009
Approx. 12 hours

It's been a while since I've visited my favorite homicide detective from the near future, Lt. Eve Dallas, so I thought I'd give another book a listen. I don't think I could ever sit down with the actual hardcover (or paperback) version of this book because I've been spoiled by the outstanding vocal talents of Susan Ericksen. Ms. Ericksen, has the ability to sound like a multi-cast performance all by herself. Each character in this book has their own voice through her talent, and the voices not only sound different to help the listener to determine who is talking/thinking when, but also somehow she has been able to wrap up the entire being of each person in her voice for each character. For example the main character Lt. Eve Dallas is a straight to the point detective that has no time for pop culture or things like how to throw a bridal shower, and the voice used is very stern and hard edge. In fact the main thing bringing me back to these books is Susan Ericksen's voice. The stories are okay and the sci-fi gadgets are cool, but Susan Ericksen brings these books to life.

Before I get to the summary of this book I first have to say that this is one of the better books in the series because of one aspect, sex. Or rather, not as much as in previous books in the series. This is book 28 in the "...in Death" series from J.D. Robb. As you may or may not know J.D. Robb is the pen name for Nora Roberts, a romance writer. She went with the pen name to have a different sort of voice than her romance books. The problem is that she still squeezes in steamy sex scenes in these books. I don't know why she does this, the books stand on their own merit and the sex scenes are blatantly gratuitious. They actually almost ruin the books by turning a good, slightly sci-fi, detective novel into softcore porn. with the audiobooks i can just fast forward or if reading I could flip the pages, but I shouldn't have to. The scenes are forced into the book with no redeeming value. This book so far has the least of sex scenes than all the others. Only one scene in this book.

Okay that over, here's the book. Early morning NYPSD Lt. Eve Dallas is enjoying breakfast (or rather being forced to eat since she usually is too busy to eat) with her husband Roarke, the multi-billionaire former thug. She's called in to investigate a dead body,her and her assistant, Detective Delia Peabody discover that the woman is a fellow officer, Detective Amaryllis Coltraine, who worked out of another precinct. To add to the emotion of the case, Coltraine was the lover of Li Morris, the Chief Medical Examiner and a good friend of Eve and Peabody. Coltraine was shot with her own police stunner; it also appears that she may have known her killer.

At first Eve thinks the kill may have been ordered by Amaryllis' former lover from Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a man that Dallas and Roarke had put in a cage for murder some months before. The suspect's reactions, however, as well as Roarke's impressions from a private discussion they have, tend to steer the blame away from him. Eve is beginning to sense that the killer may have been one of the detectives Coltraine worked with at her precinct, receiving orders from the man imprisoned off-planet. As Eve gets closer to finding who and why she realizes she has other parts of her life to deal with.

Eve has to perform a duty of friendship she has never tackled before: hosting a wedding shower for Louise Dimatto, who is marrying former "licensed companion" Charles Monroe. The shower goes on in Eve's home during the investigation; not only do we see Eve coping with a fresh aspect of life she has never had an opportunity to experience due to her dark violent childhood, but one of the guests helps put the finger on the murderer. That is one of the things about these books that also keeps me coming back; the characters. Robb/Roberts does a great job at building a myriad of characters that weave in and out of Eve's life and all seem to be able to help in some form, whether in personal life or on a case.

I say give these books a chance, they do have some redeeming values. That and they are pretty fun sci-fi / detective novels.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Treasure Island" By Robert Louis Stevenson

"Treasure Island"
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Read By Alfred Molina
produced by Listening Library, 2007
Approx 7.5 hours

I've been on a "revisiting the classics" kick lately and I realized I had never read "Treasure Island." How could I have missed that? Wasn't it assigned in school? Maybe that's why, but anyway, now i have the chance and finding it in audiobook form was a Treasure.

This audiobook version has Alfred Molina doing the reading, and I say any guy that pulls off Doc Ock in the "Spider-Man" movie, has to be able to read a book. Well, not only yes, but aaarrrgggh, yes. Molina does a great job creating the complete ambiance of the story by creating different voices for each character. Molina's Long John Silver, was captivating.

As for the story itself, it's almost a coming of age story, but with pirates and treasure. Young Jim Hawkins, lives with his mom, who runs the Admiral Benbow Inn. A mysterious man of the sea takes up residence at the Inn and is constantly looking out for a one legged man. He even pays Jim to keep an eye out. The one-legged man never shows up at the Inn but other pirates do and eventually Billy Bones, or "the captain" as he is known to Jim, meets his end. Upon his death Jim and his mother seek to find the captain's secrets and discover a treasure map. The local magistrate and squire then set off to find this Treasure Island and put together a crew to sail the seas, bringing along Jim.

While they tried diligently to keep any questionable sailors from joining, it happens the ship's cook, Long John Silver, a one-legged man, has placed his men among the crew and are geared up to take over the ship when they arrive at the island.

Jim warns the captain and the "honest" men, but to no avail, Silver manages to take over the ship and seeks out the treasure. Jim soon discovers on the island a maroon who he brings back to the honest members of the crew, who have holed up in a stockade on the island. Jim also manages to recapture the ship and land her on the island where only he can find her.

Now to get back to the stockade. Once Jim arrives at the stockade, he finds Silver and his men. All the pirates will be hung for mutiny if caught and Jim uses this to get Silver back on the good side and they all eventually battle it out in the search of treasure.

Jim Hawkins seems the hero, after all he single-handedly gets the ship back and "converts" Silver, but Jim is just a young lad, so he has done some growing up fast. Learning the ways of men and the world.

In a classic adventure of piracy, treasure, the high seas and true humanity, "Treasure Island" definitely keeps you hanging on till the very end. So with a hearty "aaarrghh" I say, grab this book in either audiobook or whatever format you choose, and give it a good read.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Tomb of the Ten Thousand Dead" by L. Ron Hubbard

"Tomb of the Ten Thousand Dead"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
produced by Galaxy Audio
approx 2 hours

It's time once again to go on a far flung adventure with L. Ron Hubbard and stories from the Golden Age. In the middle of the 20th century Hubbard wrote numerous stories that were published in the various pulp fiction magazines of the time. He wrote science-fiction, fantasy, westerns, war stories and sea & air adventures, and adventures from afar. This time around Galaxy Audio/Galaxy Press have put together their own Hubbard pulp fiction/audio pulp fiction that covers the world from the Arabian sea to Russia to the West Indies.

As with any well written story these stories will sweep you away and take you to these lands and leave you on the edge of your seat the whole way. This is especially true if you give the audiobooks a listen. The audiobooks are produced with excellent voice acting consisting of a great cast of voices, great sound effects that will create the theatre of the mind that was well known to those that listened to the old radio shows that used to be broadcast around the same time these stories were originally published, and the incidental music really gives you a feeling that you are on these journeys around the world.

This publishing contains three short stories;

"Tomb of the Ten Thousand Dead," originally published in October, 1936 tells of a search for the lost treasures of Baluchistan, an arid mountain region now part of Pakistan bordering the Arabian Sea, which leads to an ancient tomb, murder, and the obliteration of an entire expedition. Told in the first person by the pilot of the expedition, Captain Gordon, the only man to escape alive.

Gordon is hired to fly a team of American anthropologists to the area and all goes well until an ancient map is discovered in an old pottery jar, revealing the site of a vast treasure that Alexander the Great was bringing to Greece from his conquest of India. At this point Gordon is discovered over the body of one of the anthropologists who has just been murdered. Gordon is not trusted by the leaders of the expedition and is forced to stay behind with the local guide while the rest follow the map. Gordon and the guide find the tomb where more than 10,000 of Alexander's soldiers and camp followers lay buried in the high desert plains along with the loot of India—hidden in a tomb never to be reclaimed. Gordon must then fight for his life to escape with or without the treasure.

"The Price of a Hat," originally published March, 1936 tells of a A fur hat, a Kubanka, with a secret message stitched into its hatband costs the lives of six men in a belated effort to save the lives of Nicholas II, the last Russian Czar, and his family.

"Starch and Stripes," originally published January, 1936 is a story that has a bit of humor at the expense of the Marine Corps brass. A marine captain is trying to ensnare a dangerous rebel leader, but just when the Marines are closing in on the villain, top brass and U.S. senators decide to inspect the base and decide on future funding for the marines.

Some great adventures to be had in this release from Galaxy Press.

LESS LOVE - "If You"

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Vermilion Drift" by William Kent Krueger

"Vermilion Drift"
by William Kent Krueger
Published by Atria books, 2010
305 pages

When it comes to sitting down with a good book, you have to get one that not only piques your interest but also is told in such a way that you not only get lost in the story but the setting as well. William Kent Krueger does this superbly. This is the second of his novels I've read and both novels have the intriguing storyline that gets tangled and twisted the more involved you become in the story. Krueger also has a skill when it comes to wordcraft. He describes the scenery of the settings in such a masterful way that the his world comes to life. I found myself not only easily visualizing the settings but I could do this in full panoramic color. Krueger is the Michelangelo of words.

This story is another Cork O'Conner mystery. Cork is a part Native American former Sheriff now performing services as a private detective in Tamarack County, Minnesota. He recently lost his wife and his children are pretty much out seeking their own lives. Cork begins this book working two cases; one, a missing person and the second mysterious threats to mine workers.

The Department of Energy is looking at an abandoned iron mine to bury nuclear waste. The locals, especially those that live on the Reservation above the mine are protesting. Several members involved have received notes written in a dripping blood font warning not to go through with the nuclear waste disposal plans. When the same warning appears in a section of the mine that is supposed to be inaccessible unless through security stations Cork sees a mystery that needs to be solved.

On top of that Cork is hired to find a prominent woman that has gone missing. The two cases come together when a hidden section of the mine is discovered along with numerous dead bodies. Some of the bodies go back to when Cork was only 13 years old, nearly 50 years, when his dad was sheriff and the area was plagued by the disappearance of several local women.

The case then forces Cork to revisit his past and uncover secrets that may have been best left buried.

With twists and turns in the story and plotline, this book will keep you guessing through to the end.

Monday, December 06, 2010

"Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus" by Mary Shelley

"Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus"
by Mary Shelley
Read by Simon Vance
Produced by Tantor Media, 2008
Approx 8.5 hours

Once again I get to revisit a classic. I've read this book several times but this is the first time I've listened on audiobook. Simon Vance does a first rate job of reading this story. His vocal characterizations are spot on in every aspect I ever heard in my head while reading the story. I think I may have found my new favorite audiobook voice.

Each time I read this book I get something new out of it. That's what happens when the books are well thought out, and I'm guessing that's one thing that makes them a classic. This time around the theme of loneliness seemed to stick out with me. Victor Frankenstein does not create the "creature" out of loneliness but the struggle from that point for the monster is loneliness.

The story is told through a few viewpoints, first through a series of letters from Captain Walton, who spots the creature on the ice in the north and then rescues Dr. Frankenstein from the same icy waters, to his sister Margaret. Then through Victor Frankenstein telling the Captain his tale, then through the creature telling his story to his creator, back to Frankenstein and back to Walton as a close. A very unique storytelling format that not only works but definitely keeps the reader/listener attentive.

The loneliness aspect really comes out when the creature is telling his story to his creator, Victor Frankenstein. The creature is abandoned by Frankenstein after Frankenstein is disgusted by the final outcome, Frankenstein simply flees, leaving the newborn creature alone and confused. The creature explores the world through a forest after it escapes and learns he is hideous when people run away from him in terror. Frankenstein used various body parts to create the creature, I refuse to call him a monster, with the intent to make him larger than humans around eight feet tall. The skin of the creature is yellowish with some transparency. So as you can see from the description he would be a bit scary. But he's only misunderstood.

Being abhorred by mankind, the creature sets off to be alone. But along the way he finds shelter in a cubby hole attached to a family dwelling. Over a long period of time the creature observes the family and learns that humans are actually loving caring beings. He learns over the time to speak the language and even read. He then begins to long for the family's companionship but when trying to meet the blind father the son and daughter walk in and are horrified by his appearance and chase him away.

The creature then runs off to Geneva, home of Frankenstein, and finds a young boy, who is young enough to not be influenced by the mores of the public and can learn to be friends without thinking the creature is something to fear. The boy as it turns out is afraid but to make matters worse he is the younger brother of Victor Frankenstein. The creature is agitated by the boy's fear but becomes angered and vengeful when he realizes this is something he can take away from Frankenstein.

When Frankenstein returns for the funeral of young William, the creature begins stalking him. Frankenstein is then captured by the creature and the creature then states that he wishes Frankenstein to build another creature as a mate. With no more loneliness the creature promises to move to where no man lives and live out his life with his bride. Frankenstein is horrified by the thought of creating another horror and refuses. The creature then begins to kill all those around Frankenstein making the doctor feel some of the creatures loneliness. From there the hunt is on for Frankenstein to destroy his creature, which leads to the frozen North Sea and the where the book began with the ship picking up Dr. Frankenstein.

All the creature wants is a friend.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Fall" Book 2 of "The Strain Trilogy" by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

"The Fall"
Book 2 of "The Strain Trilogy"
by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Read by Daniel Oreskes
Produced by Harper Audio
Approx. 11.5 hours.

The teaming up of del Toro and Hogan to create this trilogy has turned out to be a pretty haunting affair. "The Strain" (the first book in the trilogy) introduced the horror world to a different view of vampires. This time around the heroes are not the vampires or are the vampires the subject of lustful desire, instead the mythology of vampires returns to the dark horror of life stealing blood suckers to be feared and staked or in this case killed with silver. Some other twists that del Toro and Hogan have added are; instead of fangs the vampires have stingers under their tongues, the spreading of vampirism is through parasitic virus-like blood worms and that there are seven "Ancients" that basically are the leaders of the vampires and have been around for centuries.

The story behind the "Ancients" is where this book focuses. The first book told of the spread of the strain of virus turning New York City back to ground zero, this time for the spread of vampires.

The heroes are Abraham Setrakian, a proffesor from the old world who has been hunting vampires since before World War II, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather a formerly with the CDC, he was listed as a criminal when he tried to alert the world of the vampire invasion, Eph's Son Zach, whose mother was turned and is now hunting him, andFet an exterminator who now has a new form of vermin to hunt.

Setrakian has revealed to all that he has been hunting "The Master" for most of his life and that "The Master" is responsible for the sudden influx of vampires in the New World. The Ancients have all been around for centuries and have maintained their anonymity, so why now do they become public and seek to ponentially wipe out their food source? The secret lies behind the Master.

Setrakian, Fet, and Eph join up with a battle force from the Ancients in order to prevent The Master from completing his plans. Using silver weapons and UV lamps to battle the vamps the various skirmishes lead up to one big battle with The Master. A new character brought into this story takes part in the final battle and has some great fighting styles throughout the book. His name is Angel and he's a former wrestler turned movie star, not a normal wrestler but a Luche Libre, a masked Mexican Wrestler. His movies usually had him pitted up against vampires, but nothing like he's experiencing now.

The reader, Daniel Oreskes, does a great job of reading this book, his voice adds to the drama and horror underlying the story and at the same time he is able to allow the listener to discern between who is talking/thinking by subtle vocal changes.

The nice thing about this audiobook, in that it is part of a trilogy, but del Toro and Hogan write enough of the backstory so that if you were to jump in with this book instead of the first or that a long span of time passed between books, you wouldn't be lost in what is going on. Don't get me wrong though, read the first book, because both of these stories have some great storytelling of epic proportions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"The Phantom Patrol" by L. Ron Hubbard

"The Phantom Patrol"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio

Once again it's time to dive into the stories from the golden age with a sea adventure from L. Ron Hubbard. This time around the motto is "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready), that's right we've got a Coast Guard adventure. With this story Hubbard has thrown in some rescues, pirates, drug runners and of course a dame for the hero to fall in love with.

As is usual with the Galaxy Audio productions, you will be swept away on this sea adventure, through the superb voice acting, sound effects and music. All these combine to create an audio version of a pulp fiction piece, an audio pulp, or better yet a leap back to the radio shows from days of old. Good times to be had.

This story was originally published in "Five-Novels Monthly," January 1935, and tells the story of Chief Petty Officer Johnny Trescott and how he attempts a rescue, gets captured by drug runners/pirates, escapes and tries to save face.

While out chasing down a notorious drug runner in the Gulf of Mexico, Trescott's patrol boat gets a distress call from a downed plane that is sinking. The passengers on the private plane will lose their lives if Johnny doesn't act fast. Breaking off his chase he has the boat search for the plane. Just as he gets the plane's passengers and crew onboard and headed for safety, the drug runner ship is seen closing in, having heard the same distress call. Johnny cannot get his boat powered up to full run before the criminals board. With a bit of a fight Johnny, his crew and the rescuees are captured and taken prisoner to a small island off the coast of New Orleans. The drug runners take the stolen Coast Guard boat and use it to raid other ships in the Gulf.

Johnny plans an escape in order to bring back help, but when he arrives on base in New Orleans he is arrested for piracy. The officials think Johnny stole his own boat and is responsible for the raids. Johnny must escape another prison, capture the drug runners and come back in order to save face.

With some exciting battles and a great storyline, this sea adventure will keep you on the edge of your seat whether reading the book or listening to the audio book. Definitely some fun times.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
by Robert Louis Stevenson
read by Scott Brick
Produced by Tantor Media
Approx 3 hours

Like I say, every so often you have to go back and revisit the classics. This time around I decided to listen to a tale that has been portrayed as a horror story, but in reality it is the exploration of man's darker side. I've seen the 1931 film starring Frederick March as the lead and while the movie focused on the horror side of things they did a pretty good job of showing the duality of man. But the idea of drinking a potion to become a monster has been the bulk of what popular culture relates back to the Robert Louis Stevenson tale.

One of the reasons I decided to give this book a listen was two-fold; 1 - because it was an audiobook and I could listen while I worked around the house, showered and commuted to work, after all a good audiobook can make a great soundtrack. 2 - because this book was read by Scott Brick. I've always enjoyed listening to Scott Brick narrate books, he puts emotion into the readings that are subtle yet effective. This time around, Brick brings to life the many aspects of late nineteenth century London.

The book covers the piecing together of the story of how Mr. Edward Hyde can be so ruthless and yet be the man the Good Dr. Jekyll has bequeathed everything to through his will, and then through written correspondence from Dr. Jekyll is fully realized as he confesses to his exploration of the split personality through chemistry. Hyde is observed brutally knocking over a child and when confronted offers no apology, instead he buys his way out.

The problem arises when Jekyll discovers his original formula was tainted and after ordering the chemicals for more of his personality splitting concoction, finds they are pure and he cannot repeat the original without first finding what was the impurity in the original. The original formula allowed him to shift back and forth at will between the two personalities. The later formulas allow Hyde to take over without ever getting control of his situation. But Jekyll has a plan and will sacrifice himself to save humanity from his dark side.

Hey this novella is not too long of a read or listen, so do yourself a favor read a classic and enjoy some mystery with a little philosophy thrown in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Immortalis - Part 2 of 3" Book 7 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore

"Immortalis - Part 2 of 3"
Book 7 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R.A. Salvatore
Multicast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours

The tension builds, the excitement mounts, the story continues and soon comes to a close. It is a bittersweet emotion I feel as I just finish listening to the second of three parts that make up the final audio book in "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore. The adventures continue but I am saddened to know that there is only one more audio book left before the end of the saga. This series introduced the world to the Ranger Elbryan, who was trained by elves to protect the citizens of Honce-the-Bear, his wife Jilseponie who was trained by a renegade monk, soon become a Saint, who taught her how to use the magic gemstones. Bradwarden the Centaur, Bellimar Juraviel the elf who has trained rangers through the ages and many more heroes. Salvatore also introduced some great villains such as; Marcalo De'Unnero the were-tiger monk who seeks to rule the Abellican Church, Father Abbot Marquart who was possessed by the demon dactyl, Bestus Belzibar.

In this audiobook, the son of Elbryan and Jilseponie, Adryan, who has become king through a technicality seeks to conquer the world. Adryan was taken from Jilseponie's womb by Lady Dasselrond, the leader of the Tu'elafar, the elves of the north, and raised as a ranger in hopes that he would save their land. It turns out that not letting the child or the mother know of each other's existence has stained Adryan's view on life. Adryan left the elves and found the renegade monk De'Unnero and under his tutelage, sought and killed to gain the throne. Now he seeks to conquer the world. Those that don't bow to him will be destroyed.

Adryan has sent emissaries to Behren to conquer the southland. The land of Behren has just found out that their religious god head was a fake, and the country is in turmoil. Adryan hopes to take this confusion and use it to his advantage. The problem is that Brynn Dahrielle has just freed her people, the To-gai, from Behrenese slavery, and only sees Adryan, a former friend, as another slaver.

To exact his revenge Adryan first must destroy Lady Dasselrond and the elves. To do so he must find Anderblok Innerness, the land of the Tu'elafar. Dasselrond sacrifices herself to hide the land. It can now only be found once Adryan's blood has been spilled. The elves are homeless without a land and seek out Jilseponie to offer their assistance in defeating Adryan.

Jilseponie has gone to the north to aid Prince Midalis, brother to the king slain by Adryan. Juravial finds Jilseponie and Bradwarden and offers his magicks to tie all the forces together in that they may destroy the false King Adryan.

At the end of this audiobook the major battles begin, now I must get to the finale, but I don't want to rush it, I'll be saddened to reach the end of this epic saga. But the excitement awaits.

To make this audiobook even more exciting, it is produced by Graphic Audio. Graphic Audio promises "A Movie in your Mind," and boy do they ever deliver. Superb acting and characterization by the talented voices would normally be enough, but with the original music and Earth shattering sound effects, this audio book will engulf you in the story and excitement that is "The Demon Wars Saga."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Falcon Killer" by L. Ron Hubbard

"The Falcon Killer"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours.

I'm really loving the vast array of genre's from L. Ron Hubbard's pulp fiction days. More to the point I'm loving the production work of the Galaxy Audio releases of these stories from the various genres. During the mid-20th century Hubbard wrote numerous stories for the numerous pulp fiction magazines that were published during the time. What got me hooked were the science-fiction and fantasy stories, which are my favorite genres of any literature. After listening to all the Stories from the Golden Age in the sci-fi/fantasy genres I was highly impressed by the production of each audiobook.

Galaxy Audio, part of Galaxy Press, is releasing all the old Hubbard stories to create these 2 hour audio pulps, that bring to mind the old radio dramas from around that same time. Each one of these audiobooks is a flash back to when stories were fun. Galaxy Audio has a great team of voice actors for the books and the sound effects and music are superb. Just picking out any book will get you hooked.

This time around I listened to one of Hubbard's Tales from the Orient, "The Falcon Killer," which was originally published in April, 1939. This story takes place in War-torn China in the early part of the 20th century. This is the story of an ace free-lance fighter pilot, nicknamed "The Falcon Killer (Tzun Kai)," who is actually Bill Gaylord, raised in Peking by his American parents. Gaylord lost both of them as a child during the violent Boxer uprising and then saw his foster family slaughtered in wartime. With a past that's hardened his soul and given him nerves of steel, Gaylord has used his resolve to down more Japanese aircraft than can be counted. Gaylord has a tattoo of a half dragon which has some meaning that only the Chinese know. This tattoo provides the great twist at the end of the story that makes this a true Hubbard pulp-fiction.

Events pit Gaylord against a Japanese spy who has caused untold trouble for the Chinese. Gaylord must somehow find and defeat him or risk losing an ancient Chinese kingdom to the land of the rising sun.

Just before the local ruler can sell out his people Gaylord is discovered to be within the town and is called join the ruler for dinner. Gaylord discovers his dinner has been poisoned, but will it be too late before the Japanese move in and take over, creating one more province under the rising sun banner?

This story has some great aerial battles, escapes and intrigue that will keep you wondering whether the Falcon Killer will live to see another day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Deep Blue" by David Niall Wilson

"Deep Blue"
by David Niall Wilson
Narrated by Chris Patton
Published by CrossRoad Press, 2010
Approx. 11.5 hours

"Crossroads or Cross-hairs, it's all the same. There's only one way through the pain and that's through the music." That's what the mysterious old bluesman tells Brandt when Brandt learns he as a new musical power. This quote grabbed me in this novel by David Niall Wilson, and kept hold as Brandt, a burned out musician begins to play music that can absolve or dissolve people of their pain. But as Stan Lee says, "With great power, comes great responsibility." What Brandt must do with this new found power is yet to be revealed.

David Niall Wilson has written a haunting tale of a down and out bar band that is either on the verge of making it or burning out. The band's leader Brandt is trying to find that one thing in the music that is constantly eluding him, what that is he's not sure, yet. After leaving their latest gig and being too drunk to drive Brandt walks home. As he's walking he keeps hearing a haunting blues harmonica being played. When he arrives home he realizes he's forgotten his keys and decides instead of walking all the way back he swigs some courage from the tequila bottle and decides to track down the mysterious musician. Who he finds is a ghostly figure of Wally, a harmonica playing old bluesman. Wally shows Brandt his hidden talent of playing music by absorbing others' pain.

The night after learning this Brandt takes the stage with his band-mates and begins playing. As he plays he gets visions of Nazis killing Jews, American Indians being forced to walk the trail of tears and more painful events. Over his shoulder as he's playing he hears Wally repeat the quote, "Crossroads or Cross-hairs, it's all the same. There's only one way through the pain and that's through the music." When Brandt finishes the audience is still and his band is staring at him all asking, "What was that?" Brandt leaves without an explanation.

The next night the band has a record exec in the audience, but no Brandt, this time the bassist Cynthia, takes her bass playing to new levels. She has always seen "angels" but tonight she seems to be playing for the angels. Before the angels never paid her any attention, but this time as she plays they are all looking at her and listening with intent. She finishes the song as she sees a vision of her mother, as she reaches out, the record exec breaks the vision and starts his schpiel. She is slightly frightened and leaves.

This now leaves the band down to the Drummer, Dexter, and the rhythm guitarist, Shaver. Shaver has been trying to find "The Song." "The Song" being what Brandt and Cyn discovered. He plays so much he tears up his fingers so bad he cannot touch anything. His girlfriend Liz tends to his wounded hands and takes him back to Dexter's apartment so they can find "The Song" and find Brandt and Cyn.

The band all seem to have strange pasts, Dexter was raised by a Church that handled snakes as part of worship (he was left at the steps of the church as an infant). Dexter could handle the snakes because he found the pattern in the snakes, the pattern that is existence. Cyn has always seen "angels," by this I mean everywhere and all the time. Liz was raised in a church where as each member died the church held a service where food was placed over the body and a dark man known as "The Sin Eater" would gorge on all the food placed in the process eating the sin so the person can reach salvation.

The band meets a man named Payne who seems to be keeping them from their "mission." But the band heads west to Liz's home where her father is the "Sin Eater," but the church is under new leadership and has forgotten their past and the "Sin Eater." This is where the showdown between the band and Payne will be held.

Through some great musical imagery and excellent sub-plots, David Niall Wilson, has written a captivating story that is full of surprises. The reader, Chris Patton, fully captures the imagery in his excellent voice work and telling of this story. While listening I wasn't sure if it was Wilson's words or Patton's voice, or the combination of the two, but I swear I heard the music in every scene.

Monday, November 08, 2010

"Does My Head Look Big in This?" By Randa Abdel-Fattah

"Does My Head Look Big in This?"
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
Read by Rebecca Macauley
Produced by Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd, 2008
Approx 9 hours

When It comes to life lessons, it seems that the youth have it made, at least in literature aimed at them. As adults the only ones that seem to offer advice are those who have a slant or an issue to press. This book, "Does My Head Look Big in This?" offers up a dose of reality when it comes to multi-culturalism.

Anyone who has been through them can tell you, the teen years are not the easiest of times to get through, you've got peer pressure, body & hormonal changes and pressure to decide what you are going to do with your life. Imagine all that and then one day some people that claim your religion as their cause decide to destroy a couple of buildings in New York. Now the entire world looks at your religion as evil. Even worse live this as a High School student. That is just what Randa Abdel-Fattah has offered up in this book, a look from a typical Muslim girls eyes.

Amal Mohamed Abdel-Hakim is a sixteen year-old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim girl living in Melbourne with her mom and dad. Her father Mohamed drives a metallic-red convertible because he's convinced that he's still young and cool, he fails to remember that he has a receding hairline, and he blasts Italian opera or 'Palestinian Folk' songs from his car stereo system. Her mom's name is Jamila, which means beautiful in Arabic. She’s loud, fun and energetic, loves to laugh, and is neurotically clean. Just before starting her 11th year in school she makes the decision to adopt the Muslim custom of wearing the hijab, the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, with varying reactions from her family and peers. This book is about those reactions.

She gets support from one of her Muslim friends, who also wears the hijab, but her mom and dad are worried about what she will have to go through. With the terrorist attack of 9/11 not quite a year past, the world looks at Muslims with suspicious eyes. Logically thinking Amal goes by the the premis that a small group of fanatics shouldn't condemn a whole religion, a very peaceful religion at that. After all are all Christians hated because of the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis, they were all Christian based. Too bad the world as a whole does not think logically.

At first her small group of friends think she is forced to wear the Hijab and feel sorry for her, after she makes it clear it is her choice, some begin to approach her out of curiosity and realize she is the same. To give a little slice of the world some of her friends include, a Japanese girl, an Aussie girl with body image issues, a Greek Orthodox woman that came to Australia not speaking English and more.

This book not only deals with the typical problems of the teen years but also shows a very eye opening view of a religion that is misunderstood.

The reader, Rebecca Macauley, does a smash up job of reading this book, she does a great job of portraying the various accents and cultures. Just to give you a hint of what verbal gymnastics she has to go through, she has to portray an Australian Muslim, then also some Pakistani, Orthodox Greek, British Cockney and even American accents. She does a great job delivering the story and manages to express all the emotions on this roller-coaster of life view.

Friday, November 05, 2010

"The Art of Zombie Warfare; How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead" by Scott Kenemore Illustrations by Adam Wallenta

"The Art of Zombie Warfare; How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead"
by Scott Kenemore
Illustrations by Adam Wallenta
published 2010 by Skyhorse Publising, Inc.
266 pgs.

It all started out as a great promotion on the radio station I work for (WAKO radio in Illinois), I would interview some authors and have a pre-Halloween party. I found Scott Kenemore's series of Zombie books and thought, next to George Romero, here may be an authority on zombies. After several LOLs and needing stitches for my side I decided not only does Scott Kenemore know his zombies but he knows some history as well.

"The Art of Zombie Warfare" is a funny book about how you can not only fight like a zombie but how to raise your own zombie army and become a zombie general. So at this point you may be asking, why fight like a zombie? I think this section of the book best explains why.

If cut off from communications with HQ:
--Conventional soldiers will hold position and attempt to reestablish lines of communication
--Zombie soldiers will hunt and kill the enemy.

If caused to encounter unforseen obstacles, natural disasters, or confusing signs from the enemy:
--Conventional soldiers will wait for word from senior command on how they ought to proceed in light of this new development.
--Zombie soldiers will hunt and kill the enemy.

If faced with an overwhelming foe they cannot possibly hope to defeat themselves:
--Conventional soldiers will call for reinforcements, request an air strike, or just run away.
--Zombie soldiers will hunt and kill the enemy.

See a pattern here?

Scott goes further to explain how throughout all history ,mainly through movies and books, that zombies are the best fighting machine ever. He does this with the best tongue in cheek humor that while it may appear from the cover you are reading a horror book, but in reality you will find yourself laughing out loud several times while reading. Not only are there some funny parts throughout the book but Scott also makes references to all zombie movies ever made, from Dawn of the Dead to Return of the Living Dead to Army of Darkness and all the ones in between.

The first half of the book fully explains how to fight like a zombie and the virtues of fighting like a zombie while the second half describes how to become a zombie general. This is an important part, because, well basically because zombies can't be led. So how do you lead the unleadable? Scott explains that it's not leading because you may get in the way, but that you are there to take credit and rule the world. Whether it's storming a castle, encroaching on visiting early 19th century missionaries ona small island off the Haitian coast, or taking over the local shopping mall, the zombies will win.

Scott Kenemore even discusses historical figures that fought like zombies. People such as Civil War General Ambrose Burnside, 2nd Century Chinese zombie commander Sima Yi, and the Nazis.

So if you are looking for a fun romp through Zombie land, check out Scott Kenemore's "The Art of Zombie Warfare," the most fun you'll ever have with the undead.

Recreate Your Night with David Guetta!

Recreate Your Night with David Guetta!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"UR" by Stephen King

by Stephen King
Read by Holter Graham
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio, 2010
approx 2 hours

It is a running joke that Stephen King can take any inanimate object and turn into a vassal of evil, and in this short story King seems to perpetuate that bit of humor. In the past he's had a possessed car, lawnmowers, household appliances, and more, now King has turned the latest form of literature, the e-book, or more specifically Amazon's Kindle, into a bringer of evil.

Stephen King wrote this story specifically for the Amazon Kindle e-reader and was previously only available as a Kindle download, now Simon and Schuster have released the book in audiobook form. Being a huge King fan, I almost bought a Kindle just to have this story but I'm still a hold out for buying an e-reader. So, when it came out in audiobook form I jumped at the chance to listen.

Holter Graham does a great job performing the book. He captures the eeriness in the story and does a great job voicing the different characters. His voice is very captivating and keeps the listener in the story. In a very interesting not, Holter Graham is not a stranger to King's work, he starred in the film "Maximum Overdrive" which was written and directed by Stephen King. Graham played the kid, Deke.

In "UR," a Midwestern English instructor, Wesley Smith, has recently broken up with his girlfriend and is haunted by her parting shot, "Why can't you just read off the computer like everyone else?" In trying to create an atmosphere that could lead to reuniting with his girlfriend, the coach for the college's ladies basketball team, Wes logs on to his Amazon account and orders a Kindle. The Kindle arrives the next day via "One Day Delivery" which Wes did not request. The other odd thing is that the Kindle comes out of the box with no instructions and is pink in color (at the time the Kindle only came in white).

Once Wes powers up the Kindle he finds a menu for UR functions. The UR functions seem to be various alternate realities. At this point, King does one of the things I love about his books and stories, he ties in this story to his Dark Tower Mythos. Each reality is a different level in the tower. In one reality Wes and colleagues discover that the Bay of Pigs conflict led to nuclear annihilation of the Earth. Wes' colleagues are another English teacher and a student.

Wes decides to look at UR Local, which is stated to be under construction. UR Local will only download local papers from future dates and is governed by Paradox Laws which are enforced by the "low men in yellow coats" (remember "Hearts in Atlantis"?). When Wes and his student explore this function they discover that the Lady's Basketball team is involved in a tragic accident with a drunk driver. Can they stop this drunk driver? Can they avoid the low men? You'll have to find out for yourself.

As to purchasing a Kindle...well I'm still undecided...probably so, as long as it's not pink.

The Headhunters by L. Ron Hubbard

The Headhunters
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx. 2 hours.

Once again I dive into a Story from the Golden Age, some mid 20th century pulp fiction penned by L. Ron Hubbard. This time I take a far flung adventure to the Solomon Islands following adventurer Tom Christian and what leads to his path for revenge and gold. Tom's path is overgrown with headhunters whose specialty of shrinking heads is sought after by an professor from the United States and two assistants, one of which happens to be the beautiful, Christine Forsythe. Yep, it's an L. Ron Hubbard adventure and there's always a beautiful dame involved.

Originally published in August of 1936, the story opens with Tom Christian confronting Punjo Charlie who murdered Tom's partner attempting to gather gold worth half a million dollars, Tom Christian sets off to the jungles of the Solomon Islands to retrace his partner's footsteps and finish the job. But Tom's gold fever makes him unaware that the notorious thief Punjo Charlie has laid a trap to snare the young man and collect the treasure himself. Just when Tom is about to become the second victim of Punjo Charlie, Tom's native sidekick, Hihi saves the day. Punjo Charlie, though, slips away.

Christian's problems soon triple when a trio of Americans, one of whom is the aforementioned Christine Forsythe, are taken hostage by Punjo Charlie. Christian now must rescue the ill-fated party before their heads are shrunken by the headhunters and before Charlie can get the gold.

What follows is an all-out war which pits Christian, his first mate Hihi and their contingent of coast men against a horde of bloodthirsty headhunters, all under the control of the man who killed his partner. So be prepared to be constantly on the edge of your seat as arrows and spears fly and gunshots ricochet off the trees in the deep jungle of the Solomon islands.

Once again this book is available from Galaxy Press as a sort of modern Pulp Fiction or as a 2 hour cd audio pulp from Galaxy Audio. The cast are also again supremely talented in bringing this tale to life with fun accents and voicework. The sound effects and music make this tale alive with a rich ambiance that will spoil your audio book experience forever. You will never again wish to hear a book unless it is performed by the multi-talented production of Galaxy Audio.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" edited by John Joseph Adams

"The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"
edited by John Joseph Adams
Performed by Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik
produced by Brilliance Audio
Approx 21.5 hours

If you are a constant reader of my postings, you may be wondering what I'm doing listening to a Sherlock Holmes audio book. I know, it sounds weird and most of my readings are in the Sci-fi, Horror and Fantasy realms, but once in a while I dive into the classics, but this time I'm not straying away from my favorite genres. This collection of short stories takes the world's most famous "Consulting Detective" into some very interesting adventures.

The defining quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote for Holmes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth," is what guides this collection. This collection explores the improbable and bends the limits on improbability. There are 28 stories in this collection written by authors whose specialties range throughout the sci-fi, horror and fantasy realms. Just a few of the authors are; Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Laurie R. King, Anthony Burgess, Stephen Baxter.

Some of the stories in this collection are rewrites of original Holmes adventures, such as "A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman takes the introductory story to Holmes' adventures , "A Study in Scarlet," and places Holmes and Watson in an alternate universe in which Lovecraftian creatures have invaded the Earth and rule the contintents. In the original story Scarlet referred to the color of the blood of the murder victim, in this story Emerald refers to the alien's greenish blood color. I found this story to be the most fun, in that having known the original story, how the aliens created a strange turn to the clues Holmes had to decipher.

In the other stories you have Holmes traveling through time, meeting with the authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, explaining his 3 years of missing time when Watson believed him to be dead at the hands of Professor Moriarty.

Whether you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or a fan of the strange genres of fiction you will have fun when listening to this collection. There is a bit of something for everyone here. Even some normal Holmes Adventures that just don't seem to be solvable by Holmes.

The readers, Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik swap the reading depending on whether the story is told from a woman's point of view or a man's. Anne Flosnik reads the stories using various accents and emotions perfectly. The gem in this audio book, in my opinion, is Simon Vance, throughout the book Vance captures the characters of Holmes and Watson flawlessly. No matter where the adventure takes them he is consistent with their vocal qualities and that keeps the listener tuned in to the adventure. I know there were several times I couldn't stop listening until Holmes solved the crime.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Bloody Jack" by L.A. Meyer

"Bloody Jack"
by L.A. Meyer
Read by Katherine Kellgren
Produced by Listen & Live Audio, 2007
Approx 7.5 hours

So do you like pirates, street urchins and love stories? I think I may have found the perfect audiobook for you. This time around I listened to another young adult novel, and had a grand adventure from the streets of London to fighting pirates on the high seas. This adventure novel is also a nice historical novel. The story takes place during the 18th century when his majesty's navy was battling pirates and preparing for war against France.

The story is told through the voice of Mary "Bloody Jack" Faber as she lives out these adventures. It all begins with her as a young orphan on the streets of London trying to survive. Mary takes up with "Rooster" Charlie, the leader of a gang of orphans who beg on the streets to survive. Charlie takes care of his gang and Mary looks up to him as a brother. When Mary discovers Charlie dead on the dark backstreets of London, she no longer has someone to take care of her so she decides to be her on person. She takes Charlies clothes and the persona of Jack, she soon learns that as a boy things are a bit easier in the street life.

Now living as Jack, she finds her way to the docks, where Navy ships are looking for ship boys, these are the boys that do the grunt work on board the ship, Jack gets on board the H.M.S. Dolphin as a ship boy and maintains her secret of being a girl. She soon boards with 3 other boys taken on at the same time and leads a life as a Navy ship boy. After a year or so on-board she finds it harder and harder to maintain the secret because her body is betraying her. Not sure what all the changes of puberty will bring, since she never had any parents to tell her, she strikes out on the next port call to a bordello to ask one of the women there what she needs to know. Upon leaving the bordello the other boys see "Jack" and add to to the myth of her being a boy, after some teasing. During this same port call the 4 ship-boys have created a pact among each other to always be true. To prove this they get tattoos and whenever a secret must be kept they swear upon their tattoos.

Jack gains her nickname "Bloody Jack" after the crew of the HMS Dolphin boards a ship and she, still only about thirteen years old, shoots a plundered pistol to kill a pirate who is about to stab one of her fellow shipmates, Jaimy, who is paralyzed with fright. She comes back to the Dolphin covered in blood, and her proud shipmates nickname the little "boy" Bloody Jack.

During a battle with a pirate ship in the Caribbean the HMS Dolphin is damaged and takes on water. The ship is forced to seek shelter in the cove of a small island until repairs can be made. On this island there is no wood of use to repair the ship so one of the crew members, who has been experimenting with kites, puts Jack on the kite and flies her high to scout for land. During the "flight" the kite breaks free flying Jack 30 miles or so from the Island to be marooned on another Island by herself.

Growing up alone and trying to maintain a major secret create a great adventure in "Bloody Jack." Basically start out with a little "Oliver Twist' throw in some "Treasure Island" with a dash of "Robinson Crusoe" and you have this fun adventure.

Katherin Kellgren does a wonderful job voicing this book. From the cockney accent of the street kids to the distinguished officers on-board the HMS Dolphin, she delivers the book with realism.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Walking Dead on AMC

I just Spread the Dead. Click below to do the same and you could win $5,000! Don’t forget to check out the premiere of The Walking Dead Sunday Oct. 31 at 10/9c on AMC. http://www.amcspreadthedead.com/share?ref=1415245048

Friday, October 15, 2010

Your Chance to win: "The Art of Zombie Warfare - How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead" by Scott Kenemore

Your Chance to win:
"The Art of Zombie Warfare - How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead"
by Scott Kenemore
Skyhorse Publishing
266 pgs.

I've got a Halloween treat for you. This time I'm teaming up with Skyhorse Publishing http://www.skyhorsepublishing.com to give you a chance to win a copy of the book, "The Art of Zombie Warfare - How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead" by Scott Kenemore. All you have to do is comment below and on Halloween I'll draw the winner's name and you'll receive your own copy. Comment and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email address then email me gil (at) gilwilson (dot) com and let me know you commented. Drawing to be held Sunday, October 31, 2010.

Do you dream of becoming a soldier who fights with the efficacy and skill of a zombie? Are you a general commander seeking to imbue your troops with the ruthless, soulless killing efficiency of an animated corpse? Are you a voodoo priest or wizard desiring to raise an actual army of zombies to help you conquer the land and install yourself as ruler? Then this is the book for you! With "The Art of Zombie Warfare" you will learn how to fight without weapons, communicate wordlessly, and enjoy the multifarious battlefield strategy benefits that come with always just walking straight at the enemy.

5 tips for adopting the zombie combat style in this book:
Withstand massive amounts of damage.
Dish it out like a zombie.
Don't follow treaties or rules of any kind
Fight like you're already dead.
Be quiet.

Written by the author of "Zen of Zombie" and "Z.E.O," "The Art of Zombie Warfare" is the most authoritative tome available today on the subject of zombie combat.

Available @ Amazon and http://www.skyhorsepublishing.com

comment below to win. Drawing to be held Sunday October 31, 2010.

What happens to your internet presence after you pass on?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Buffalo Unbound, A Celebration" by Laura Pedersen a book review and how to win a copy of the book

"Buffalo Unbound, A Celebration"
by Laura Pedersen
Published by Fulcrum Books
216 pages

At the end of this review I'll tell you how you can win a copy of this book and and Laura Pedersen's memoirs of growing up in Buffalo, "Buffalo Gal."

Laura Pedersen columnist, trader, humorist and author loves her native city of Buffalo, New York. In her memoirs of growing up in Buffalo, "Buffalo Gal" she told humorous stories of growing up during a time in Buffalo when times were tough. In 2009 "Forbes" magazine ranked Buffalo as one of the top ten most miserable cities in which to live and then had the gall to repeat the insult in 2010. Pedersen didn't stand for this and has written a humorous and at times heartfelt book to retaliate and portray Buffalo, NY as a top-tier city and "The City of Good Neighbors."

Pedersen takes the reader on a wonderful journey through the history of Buffalo from the times when the Iroquois Indians ruled the land to now where the city is thriving with locally made candies, food festivals, multicultural events, theatre and stunning architecture drive away the reminders of great blizzards past.

Each chapter/essay in this book covers something about Buffalo that I found fascinating, whether it was the history or descriptions of the beautiful and even some strange sights. Buffalo is always changing with the times. Laura Pedersen could always throw in some comment that leaves you smiling. Her humor really makes this book one that cannot be put down.

The Buffalo Chamber of Commerce had better have a thank you basket handy for Laura, because every section had me wanting to move to Buffalo and set down roots. My only reservation, was the snow and cold. Pedersen even covers the "Blizzard of '77" and a few other tragedies such as the "Cleveland Hill Fire," when an elementary school burned down killing many children, but the bright side, if there can be one in such a tragedy, is that this New York tragedy created the need for schools nation wide to organize fire drills.

If you like architecture then you already know of Frank Lloyd Wright, but did you know of the many Buffalo area buildings he designed? Architecture is covered as well as sculpture, and other arts, so it seems Buffalo has a bit of something for everyone.

This book is a fun read that not only teaches a little history, but entertains with the not quite dry wit of Laura Pedersen and creates the urge to shuffle off to Buffalo. But there's still that snow thing...maybe if a radio station in the Buffalo area needs an employee and will pay to move me there, for that I would love to see the sights written about in this book, maybe I'll have to plan a vacation to Buffalo, after all Niagara Falls is close by.

Now let's talk about how you can win a copy of this book. All you have to do is comment on this posting and you'll be entered in a random drawing to win not only this book, "Buffalo Unbound," but also Pedersen's memoirs, "Buffalo Gal." Comment and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you. If you don't feel comfortable leaving your email address then email me gil (at) gilwilson (dot) com and let me know you commented. Drawing to be held Friday, October 22, 2010.

Also check out Laura Pedersen's website for more information about her and her other books.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Devil's Manhunt" By L. Ron Hubbard

"Devil's Manhunt"
By L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast Performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

It's time once again to go back to those thrilling times of yesteryear...okay so that was the opening for "The Lone Ranger" TV series, but listening to this audiobook reminded me of the series I used to watch as a kid. I also realized that hey, I actually do like reading/listening to westerns, but only good westerns. It seems L. Ron Hubbard wrote some pretty cool westerns. With Galaxy Press and Galaxy Audio re-releasing the old pulp fiction stories from the mid-20th century that Hubbard penned, or rather typed ( I read somewhere he could carry on a conversation and type out a short story at the same time), I can now go back and enjoy those stories I've missed or denied myself due to not thinking I like westerns.

Maybe it's just that these productions from Galaxy Audio keep me glued to the audiobook. Galaxy Audio provides the complete theater of the mind experience in every one of these releases. This audio book is no exception. When the horses ride off they actually ride off not just some one slapping coconuts together. These guys have no need of the Wilhelm Scream in their vocal sound effects, because each of the voice actors are top notch and every grunt and scream occur in the moment and fit the story perfectly. The original music also pulls you into the story and with these stories, the music had that authentic western feel.

This release features three stories not only all falling into the western genre but all having the same theme of being hunted down. The fun part in all of Hubbard's stories is that they end with a bit of a twist that is nearly hard to see coming. After hearing several of these stories I've discovered I can almost predict the twist to come....almost.

"Devil's Manhunt," originally published February, 1950 tells the story of Young Tim Beckdolt who had been working in Arizona for eight long, treacherous months before striking a rich seam of gold. Now, after three months of hard, grueling labor, he's stockpiled that gold ore. Just as he's about to set out and sell all the gold a Swedish giant named Sven and the foppish Virginian killer named Bonnet, arrive to jump his claim. Forced by gunpoint to mine the remainder of the gold for this villainous pair. Sven and Bonnet hunt game each night to keep them all nourished, but one night Bonnet chances across a bear and finds that game to be a challenge. Bonnet then realizes he loves the hunt and wonders what the best game to hunt would be. Bonnet and Sven then decide to hunt Tim, after all they were going to kill him anyway, might as well make a sport of it.

"Johnny, the Town Tamer," originally published August, 1949 is a fun story in which Texas Johnny frustrates an attempt to kill him, and runs off the man who tried to do it. Johnny comes into a town that is crooked all the way up to the town manager. They all see Johnny has some gold dust and a herd of cattle that will soon be coming through town and see the opportunity to get rich. Johny and a mysterious partner outwit the entire town, but the fun...is how they do it.

"Stranger in Town," originally published December,1949 introduces the reader/listener to Zeke Tomlin, who may be a little paranoid, but he has good reason. New in Dry Creek himself, Zeke knows someone will ride in one day, looking for him. Because in his past he was blamed for murder by a corrupt marshal, and has been hiding out ever since. When the corrupt marshal arrives in pursuit, Zeke must deal with him and the town.

Strap on your spurs and get a shot of some red-eye and enjoy these stories from the Golden Age.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Immortalis - Part 1 of 3" Book 7 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore

"Immortalis - Part 1 of 3"
Book 7 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R.A. Salvatore
Multi-cast performance
produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 7 hours

I knew it was coming, the beginning of the end, and here it is. This is the first of three parts of the final book in "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore. This saga has been a great adventure in fantasy taking place in the land of Corona. The heroes have included wizards (of a sort), elves, dwarves, goblins, giants, a centaur that plays bagpipes, humans and a dragon. Everything one could ever want in a fantasy series. Salvatore not only created this fictional Land of Corona and populated with some great heroes and villains, but he also created several forms of government and religious doctrine.

One of the things that forms a great work of fiction is how in depth the characters and their adventures are explained. By creating brand new forms of politics and religion these characters have strict rules to go by and how or when they cross those lines create the great stories. Salvatore has done just that by at first in the saga creating a demon that threatens the land and how these governments and religions react. Even more to the point the excitement occurs when heroes are the ones acting and the government and religion stand by idly.

Throughout the adventures I have grown quite fond of he central characters. Jilseponie (Pony) who as a child was left alone to die after goblins raided her town. She grew up to become a soldier in the king's army, a weilder of magic and then Queen of Honce-the-Bear. Now she is no longer queen because her son, who was thought to have died at birth, has usurped the crown and has left her in her own exile. But she will not go quietly, she is now out to find why Lady Dasselrond, the leader of the elves took her baby and released his evil on the land.

Bellimar Juraviel, the elf that trained rangers so they may protect the humans of the Land of Corona, is now in love with one of his lost kinsfolk. Juraviel is of the Touel'alfar elves and centuries ago the Touel'alfar had split in ideals from the Doc'alfar. The Doc'alfar left the lands and were never heard from again. Juravial was escorting the most recently trained ranger Brynn Dharielle to the lands of To-gai to free her people from slavery when they discovered the Doc'alfar. Juraviel fell in love with one of the Doc'alfar and now will be having a child with her. Juravial brings the King of the Doc'alfar back to Lady Dasselrond in hopes of reuniting the elven folk, but learns that King Adryan may be a threat to the elves.

King Adryan killed King Ursal to gain the crown and a few others and as he decides to conquer the Behren and To-gai lands of the south his murderous past starts to haunt him. He awakes from dreams where those slain have come back. His reign not only includes conquering the lands to the south but with the aid of his mentor, the evil, Marcalo De'unnero, Adryan also plans on reforming the Abellican church.

All this is where part one leaves off. Now on to part 2 so I can get more of this excitement. The nice thing about listening to these audio book productions from GraphicAudio is that they split them up in six or seven hour installments. For me this provides convenience of enjoying the events in the saga and enjoying the breaks between the excitement and turmoil created by R. A. Salvatore. This same excitement and turmoil is made more exciting through the superb production from GraphicAudio. They use excellent voice actors that not only express the emotion and action of the characters at the moment but also seem to be able to express the character's history that led to this moment in time. The music and sound effects also move you along through the saga leaving you on the edge of your seat for the entire run.

So strap in and enjoy this beginning of the end of the saga.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Beastly" by Alex Flinn

by Alex Flinn
read by Chris Patton
Produced by Brilliance Audio, 2010

So I'm out looking for something different to hear as an audiobook, and I look through the young adult section of listings and run across this book, "Beastly." With young adult fiction it can be hit or miss, you can count big hits in the Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket series of books but when I tried the "Twilight" series I was let down. This book looked like a promising telling of a classic story. The premise of the book is based on the traditional fairytale "The Beauty and the Beast." The author researched various versions of the fairytale, and even makes some reference to them throughout the book.

This is by no means the Disneyfied version, so if you are looking for that type of fun, musical story with a happy ending, it's not this one. This version of the story, while encapsulating the full meaning and feel of the classic, brings the story to modern times with some nice teen angst, cliques and materialistic views of life.

In this book Kyle Kingsbury, the rich, handsome son of Rob Kingsbury, a famous news anchor, has lived all his life thinking that looks and money are all you need in life. He seems to be living proof of that, he dates the hottest girls and is the most popular guy in school. But when Kyle asks a not so good looking new student, Kendra, to the prom as a practical joke, Kendra, transforms Kyle into an ugly man who then turns into a beast. It turns out Kendra is really a beautiful witch.

Kyle's father is ashamed of his son's appearance and locks him in a large apartment in downtown New York so no one will see him. Kyle's only company is his housekeeper, and, later, a blind tutor named Will and his dog. Kyle changes his name to "Adrian", which means "dark one". His only happiness comes from the rose garden he plants and maintains in his small backyard, encouraged by Will. Adrian has two years to break the witch's spell by falling in love and being loved sincerely despite physical appearances.

The Beauty in this story comes in the form of Lindy. Lindy is a poor girl who attends Kyle's school by scholarships. Her only hope to get away from her poverty stricken life, taking care of her drug abusing father is to maintain her grades. In being the bookworm sort she has gone through the school unnoticed. She does have a crush on Kyle, and at the same prom where Kyle is turned into the beaste, Kyle gives her a white rose, only because his girlfriend wanted an orchid and wouldn't wear a "cheap rose." This event is big to Lindy, but Kyle sees it as insignificant.

A man breaks into Kyle's/Adrian's rose garden and when the Beast confronts him the man pleads for his life and offers his daughter to the beast to avoid the police. Kyle learns this is Lindy's father and finds this could be his last chance to find true love and break the curse. Kyle takes Lindy in and he must discover the secrets to true love and find his way to her heart.

I will warn you once again this is not a Disney version and the Happy Ending is relative. The reader, Chris Patton delivers the story with perfect intonation of all emotions and character quirks that at times I almost thought I was listening to a multi-cast performance.

The interesting thing I discovered is that this book has been turned into a movie, that will be released in 2011.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Transcendence Part 3 of 3" Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore

"Transcendence Part 3 of 3"
Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R.A. Salvatore
Multicast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours

Sad to say, but my adventures in the Land of Corona are coming to a close. With the finishing of this final part of book 6, I realize there's only one more book left and the story seems to be ready for a huge finale. This last trilogy builds up the new leaders in the land of Behren and Honce-the-Bear. This book in particular covers the land of Behren and how the Behrenese have conquered the To-Gai and the ranger that is out to set the To-Gai people free, Brynn Dharielle.

In the previous five books the land of Behren has been mention, but only in passing. This time around R.A. Salvatore explores the government and religions of the southernmost lands. The main outline of the land seems to derive from an equivalent of our Middle East and Asian countries. The Behrenese are closely related in many senses to the Muslims where the To-Gai seem to be loosely based on Mongolians of Asia, then you have the Jhesta Tu Mystics that could resemble the Shao lin Monks of China.

This final installment of "Transcendence" builds to two great battles, one for the leadership of Behren and one for the final stand of the To Gai.

The Behrenese are ruled by holy clerics known as Yatols, and the leader of the Yatols is the Chezru Chieftain. The latest Chezru Chieftain is Yakim Douan, and it is time for his transcendence, a period where his body dies but the next chieftan is born into the body of an infant, much like the idea behind the Dali Lama. But in this case Yakim Douan has been cheating the system by using the soulstone, one of the magical gems of the Abellican monks from the northlands. The Behrenese religion forbids the use of magic gemstones, but Yakim Douan has been using the soulstone to possess the bodies of unborn infants to be reborn for many centuries. He is now getting old and is ready to invade his next body, but with the problems in Honce-the-bear and the rebellious To-Gai, he has to put this off.

Brynn Dharielle was taken by the Touel'alfar, the elves, and trained as a Ranger so she can return to free the To-Gai. Her campaign has been successful in that she has been constantly making dents in the Behrenese armies, not enough to conquer but enough to ruin the day of the Chezru Chieftan. She has been called the Dragon of To-Gai, because at her side she has a dangerous ally, Agradelus the dragon. Agradelus has been underground for many years and the taste of battle keeps him hard to control.

Brynn is assisted also by a Jhesta Tu Mystic Pagonel. Pagonel discovers the secret to Transcendence and returns to the Behren capital city of Jacintha to uncover the truth and ridicule the Chezru Chieftain. This could turn the land into a land of turmoil knowing their ruling party and religion has been deceiving them all these years.

Once again through the magic of GraphicAudio's superb production this saga continues with some of the most exciting audio books ever produced. GraphicAudio uses great voice talent, sound effects and incidental music that leaves you feeling as though you need to wash the sands off from the desert battles and checking yourself for arrow wounds. Their production is magical.

Monday, October 04, 2010

"On Blazing Wings" By L. Ron Hubbard

"On Blazing Wings"
By L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours.

Galaxy Audio and Galaxy Press continue to release L. Ron Hubbard's short stories written during the Golden age of Stories, back in the pulp fiction days of the mid-20th century. This January starts another round for the year and the first one out of the archives is this gem of a story,listed under the Air Adventure category, but mixes in a little science-fiction and fantasy. Originally published in May of 1940, this story combines destiny and war heroes at a time when war heroes were the popular read.

David Duane, artist, adventurer and air ace learns his destiny in the mystery-shrouded city of golden minarets, Puhjola. Duane, is an American fighting for the Democratic People's Government of Finland, only because he found himself in the country when the war started and knew he could make some money in their air force. After all he's been an air ace for several wars.

When David Duane goes after a group of Russian Bombers he sees a city in the clouds. This city turns out to be the mythical land of heroes, Puhjola. There he is reuinited with his other air team that have been shot down in this recent raid. Not only that but he meets up with buddies from previous wars who died in action, he also meets up with the Russians he shot down. When he apologizes for shooting them down, one of the Russians says "No big deal, it is war." The strange being that runs the city of Puhjola, tells Duane that was his last chance that no matter how many times he returns he cannot change his destiny. Duane is told that he will meet up with a Russian Woman and fall in love and then lose his life while trying to protect her, instead of saving the thousands of others he should be protecting.

Duane says he can change it this time, just give him one more chance. The leader says no and tells him he can no longer return to Puhjola. Duane is determined to change his destiny, but when he wakes up his plane is buried in the snow and burning and Russian soldiers are beating him. He cannot recall his time in Puhjola, but something about his destiny is buzzing in his brain. He is then rescued by a female Russian intelligence officer and falls in love. But he knows he needs to change something.

Can David Duane become a hero again and change his destiny or is his destiny unchangeable? As with all of L. Ron Hubbard pulp fiction stories not only is a dame involved, but you can expect twists and turns until the very end.

One of the best ways to enjoy these stories is in the audiobook form produced by Galaxy Audio. Galaxy Audio, a division of Galaxy Press, combines superb voice actors, stunning sound effects and mood enhancing incidental music that keeps you locked in to this story from The Golden Age.

Friday, October 01, 2010

"Countdown" by Greg Cox

by Greg Cox
Multi-cast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio, 2010
Approx 6 hours

DC comics had/has a great configuration of crossover comics with their multi-verse "Crisis" series.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Countdown to Infinite Crisis
Infinite Crisis
Countdown to Final Crisis (novel form titled "Countdown," this book)
Final Crisis
The series told a tale of 52 alternate realities otherwise known as multiverses. The problem consisting of multiple realities coming together could destroy all realities. In this book, "Countdown," The aftermath of "Infinite Crisis" led to the series "52" which consisted of the Primary Earth dealing with the aftermath. This book, as the title suggests, is a countdown to events that lead to yet another multiverse crisis which will be the "Final Crisis." The original "Countdown to Final Crisis" comics were published in 51 issues, Greg Cox has created the novelization of the series into this book.

So once again the comic books are converted to a novel. What happened to the awesome graphics that make a comic so much of an experience? Well, Greg Cox uses words to convey the images and any fan of good fiction would appreciate this. But what happens if the comic fan wants those images? I suggest picking up the audio book created by GraphicAudio. GraphicAudio has a slogan, "A Movie in your Mind," and let me tell you, they deliver. From the moment I heard my first GraphicAudio audiobook, I've been hooked. They use a cast of very talented voice actors that can creat every subtlety of a superhero through voice only. For Example, when you hear someone acting the role of Batman in a GraphicAudio audiobook, you hear Bruce Wayne's loss of his parents, his calculating the next 30 moves in defeating a foe, and more, just through superb voice acting.

The acting is not the only thing that keeps these audiobooks interesting there is also incidental music that rises and falls with and enhances all the emotions and action in the story. And even more fun are the sound effects. So how do you give sound to the Green Lantern's ring creating a boxing glove and punching his foe? You can't just simply punch something and record it, because the power behind the ring is what is creating the glove. GraphicAudio create some superb effects that you can see in the mind's eye all aspects of just such an action. These guys really know what they are doing.

So with all that said let's talk about this audiobook. The excitement abounds, the story twists and turns and ultimate good is pitted up against ultimate evil. Exactly what you'd expect from a comic book, but in this series all this takes place without the big name superheroes. The Justice League members do make their appearance near the end to help wrap up the final battle and outcome, but for the most part what were normally minor characters now take the lead.

First off we've got Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen, suddenly endowed with superpowers. Not sure where they come from, Jimmy's not one to ask, being the epitomical good guy, Jimmy immediately takes on the guise of Action Man and tries to right wrongs. The problem with these newfound powers is that they only occur when his life is threatened. But when his life is threatened the powers are doozies. Powers such as, porcupine like quills suddenly erupting from his skin and shooting at foes, his body turning to ooze and more weirdness. Even not being able to control his powers Jimmy tries to fight crime.

Next we have Mary Marvel. After the events in 52, Mary is now just simply Mary Batson, sister to Billy Batson (Captain Marvel/Shazam). Her powers were mysteriously taken away and she awakens in a hospital scared and powerless. To find her brother and eventually her powers Mary seeks out Madame Xanadu, warns Mary not to go to Gotham City. Ignoring her, Mary is chased by thugs through the Gotham subway, and finds the former Kahndaqi Embassy, where Black Adam has been hiding. Adam appears, saves Mary, and transfers his powers to Mary. Mary acquires the powers of Black Adam, Isis, and Osiris as a result. These dark powers change Mary's psyche and she seems to be one of the bad guys.

Holly Robinson, former Catwoman (the good Catwoman not the criminal one) meets up with Harley Quinn (Joker's former girlfriend) at a women's shelter in Metropolis where a woman claiming to be Athena is recruiting Amazons to go to Paradise Island, which was vacated by the real Amazons (Wonder Woman's family).

Jason Todd (former Robin that should have died), and Donna Troy (former Wonder Girl, who also should have died) meet up with a Monitor who recruits them to find The Atom. It seems The Atom, Ray Palmer, is the key to fighting the New Gods who are waging war against each other and could destroy the Universe.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Transcendence - Part 2 of 3" Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore

"Transcendence - Part 2 of 3"
Book 6 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
by R.A. Salvatore
Mult-cast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours

I'm rolling through "The Demon Wars Saga" by R.A. Salvatore and I keep thinking, I should slow down, after all, the series only has 7 books and this latest one is book 6 and I'm two-thirds of the way through it. But as much as I would love to let these drag out and savor each one, the story is just too exciting to stop. I'm already opening part 3 and will start listening to it after this review.

The saga is one of the best pieces of fantasy fiction I've read/heard since "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. (Interesting that the good fantasy writers use initials instead of first names.) What makes this saga so good is that in the writing Salvatore is consistent with the characters and includes all the favorites through the entire saga. Some heroes die but they are not forgotten. The heroes that do live on while staying consistent with their central character, Salvatore knows how to write in the room for growth.

Even more exciting about this series is that I'm listening to the audiobooks produced by GraphicAudio. GraphicAudio turns these books into great auditory theatrical events. They achieve the "Movie in your Mind" reality by using excellent voice actors, superb sound effects and incidental music that pushes the excitement to even higher levels. Many times during great battles in the saga I found myself getting closer and closer to the edge of my seat and only able to relax once the music fades out. The special effects are achieved through some great sound effects, when the elves let an arrow fly you hear every detail from the moment the arrow is notched, through its flight and the sound of the arrow hitting the target, whether it is into flesh or stone. It's really amazing the effects that are achieved by GraphicAudio.

This installment continues with the adventures of Touel'alfar trained ranger, Brynn Dharielle. Brynn was trained by the elves to become a hero of her people the To-Gai who are being enslaved by the Behrenese. Brynn is trained and sent to Behren with the aid of her main trainer, Belli'mar Juraviel, elven trainer of the ranger, Elbryan (Nightbird) Wyndon. Along the way Juraviel & Brynn come across the Doc'alfar, the dark elves of legend. The elves send one of their own to accompany them under the mountains into Brynn's land. The party of 3 come across the lair of a dragon and are separated. Brynn escapes and goes on to her land to find a small revolution led by a prideful warrior. This warrior falls to his pride.

During the campaigns Brynn meets up with a Jhesta Tu mystic by the name of Pagonel. Pagonel rescues Brynn from death by the Behrenese army. Pagonel is one of the few mystics that has achieved the highest state of enlightenment. The mystics are able to perform magicks without the use of the magical gemstones like the Abellican Monks. Pagonel falls in love with Brynn and she with him. Pagonel begins teaching her the enlightenment of the Jhesta Tu.

In the meantime Juraviel and the female Doc'alfar also begin to fall in love while being held by captive by Agradeleas, the dragon. Agradeleas soon learns that Juraviel is duty and honor bound to escape and find Brynn. Agradeleas decides to accompany the 2 elves to find Brynn.

The Behrenese soldiers seek out Pagonel because he murdered one of their higher ranked soldiers. This brings war to the Jhesta Tu. The Jhesta Tu are at first winning the battle but more soldiers arrive, surrounding the mystics.

I will leave you hanging there until the next installment, enjoy.