Audible audiobook review roundup Jan 2017

Here’s a few short reviews of the audiobooks I’ve been listening to over recent weeks. Check them all out on Audible!

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Read by Simon Vance although his name isnt listed first in the credits for some reason

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I enjoyed this but, let’s be honest – only the first book in this series is truly a classic. Herbert’s writing style is good and the narration is absolutely fantastic but the story here is only good rather than great. Paul Atreides is still here and so are many of the other characters we bonded with in Dune, but this is a shorter book.
Still highly recommended, but maybe only worth 4 stars rather than the 5 Dune deserved.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Read by Simon Vance

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Well, you know I MUST have enjoyed Dune Messiah because I straight away moved onto this, the next in the series! Paul is gone (or is he…?) and we follow his children in this book. There’s not a lot of action but the politics and psychology of the tale are really well done and this is a worthy successor to Dune Messiah.

It’s still not as good as Dune though!

Another 4/5.

HP Lovecraft The complete omnibus vol 2 

Read by Finn J.D. John

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I bought this because the previous audio collections of Lovecraft I’d bought didn’t include certain stories for some reason. At the Mountains of Madness for example, which I really wanted to hear (bear in mind I’ve read all Lovecraft’s stories multiple times over the years).

The narrator here initially struck me as really good, to the extent I thought about buying volume 1 too. But for some reason, after a few hours listening, I’m not really drawn into this collection. It’s not the stories that are at fault because The Shadow Over Innsmouth and my favourite Lovecraft tale ever, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, are included. These are really excellent stories but…I don’t know what it is. The narrator has a great voice, he acts out the parts very well and it should be great but, for some reason I seem to switch off completely when listening to him and before I know it I’ve missed half the story and need to replay it!

The previous Lovecraft collection I listened to used a variety of narrators and, at the time, I didn’t understand what the point was but now I think it may have been a good way to hold the listener’s interest.*(See my review of that collection at the foot of the page!)

I really don’t know how to rate this – the tales are fantastic, the narrator certainly seems good but I’m bored listening to it and it’s NOT spooky even when I listen to it on my own, in the dark, out in the middle of nowhere around Glasgow when I’m at work!

Weird tales indeed….

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Read by Nigel Planer

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I love Planer’s reading of Pratchett’s stories so much, he is perfect for them and this is no exception. As usual, the sound quality is horrendous, but other than that this is a good tale that will make you laugh (does anybody remember laughter? – I hope you read that in a high-pitched rock god’s voice). Death himself working as a cook in a greasy-spoon cafe is great as is the titular hero wondering WTF is going on as he slowly morphs into the grim reaper. Hugely imaginative as always with Sir P!

4/5

The Cross and the Curse by Matthew Harffy

Read by Barnaby Edwards

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Longtime friends and followers of mine might know that I endorsed Harffy’s debut novel, The Serpent Sword. That was a self-published affair which garnered enough interest and sales that Matthew was taken on by a major publisher, Aria, and this is the resultant sequel.

The tale is quite straightforward with love, action and beautifully written prose aplenty and, combined with a really good narrator, makes for a great listen. It gets especially nasty (in a good way!) about two-thirds in and things really start to come together there.

I felt a little as if this was a bridge between the first book and the next, setting things up for what’s to come for the rest of the series. That’s no bad thing and there is enough to keep your interest up throughout although I did miss a bit of humour. The events are dark and gritty and the characters know it – but it would have been nice to have a bit of childish banter between the men just to lighten things. As it is, the word I kept thinking of as I listened was “earnest”. The dialogue is earnest, the characters are earnest and the prose is too. I was wishing someone would fart or stand in a dog turd but sadly there’s no slapstick silliness here!

This series has been compared to Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred stories (by me, actually, in that previously-mentioned endorsement!) but, although settings and time period are similar, the writing is completely different in The Cross and the Curse. Fans of one author will enjoy the other I’m sure, as both are absolutely brilliant.

5/5

Finally,

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Read by Luke Daniels

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The narrator here sounds so much like the guy that did VH1’s “Behind the Music” that I kept expecting him to say something like “Dave Mustaine’s drug use spiralled out of control and left Megadeth in a state of limbo. When we return…!”

But he never did and, Googling the guy it seems he’s got nothing to do with “Behind the Music”. It was quite off-putting for a while but I got into it soon enough and I started really enjoying the narration. His voices are really good, nailing the 60’s hippy stoner in particular, and it leads to a great listening experience although it’s quite short.

The story is Dick’s usual mindf**k that leaves you scratching your head wondering if reality is as real as we’re led to believe, with twists and turns all over the place. Some of which don’t make much sense but you can forgive that because it’s such an interesting book.

It’s a slow burner but stick with it because by the end of it you won’t want it to stop! I still want to know what happened next!

5/5
Next time I’ll be listening to Bernard Cornwell‘s The Flame Bearer and the final two books in the Dune series so keep it here…Also, don’t forget the final book in my Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf, is now available from Audible, read by Nick Ellsworth as usual. Save a credit for it, it’s an incredible listen!

 

 

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*The Necronomicon by HP Lovecraft

Read by various. This review is one I posted originally on Audible.co.uk

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“Eldtrich and unspoken horror…no, wait!”

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I’ve loved it! I assume you already know Lovecraft if you’re looking at this so I’ll review it with that in mind.
The stories are well read and, although it’s not quite as creepy as reading them yourself, it’s still great and…come on, you get about 65 stories here, for ONE CREDIT?
That has to be (at the mountains of) madness!

What did you like best about this story?

I sometimes work at night and driving around the dark, wintry streets of Glasgow, often out in the sticks, with this audiobook playing in the background….brilliant!

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

Some of the narrators are great, some not so much.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I locked the doors in my car when I was listening in the dark….who knows what lurking horror might have crept up on me?
Lovecraft is never terrifying or shocking in a 21st century way, but his writing is always creepy and sticks in your mind. This collection does a fine job of bringing that crawling chaos to life.

Any additional comments?

Considering I got this for one monthly credit I honestly can’t complain. There’s 60-odd stories, all professionally read and that is just great value for money. I’ve read the stories dozens of times myself over the years and yet still found myself wanting to listen more to this to see what happened next. And I’ve only listened to the first few stories so far! Can’t wait until I hear the likes of “Shadow Over Innsmouth” or “The Call of Ktulu” (oops, sorry, I’ve got Metallica on just now, got mixed up for a sec!).
Needless to say, if the quality drops I’ll edit my review but for now I just wanted to post my thoughts as there’s not a lot for other listeners to go on.
Trust me – if you’re a fan of HPL give this a go.

5/5

Blood of the Wolf now on Audible and an extract from my brand new series!

Audiobook fans rejoice (or just mumble “woohoo” if you prefer)

The fourth and final Forest Lord novel, Blood of the Wolf, is now available as an audiobook from Audible and, I believe, iTunes. Read, as always, by Nick Ellsworth it clocks in at 12 hours, being the longest book so far by a fair margin.

Click on this link to go to your own country’s Amazon page or just use your Audible account to find it in the store.
getBook.at/BotW

On another note, I have finished the first draft of my final Forest Lord novella – The Abbey of Death starring Will Scarlet. Look out for that around March/April with a cover reveal very soon. This will be the last book featuring the Robin Hood characters so it will be an interesting time for me.

Up next is my brand new historical fiction series, set in 5th century Britain, with the first book tentatively titled “The Druid” since it’s about, yes, you guessed it, a druid! I started writing it yesterday and it was so much fun to be creating an entirely new character after four or five years with Robin, John, Tuck etc. Very exciting indeed!
Here’s a short, unedited, extract, I hope you enjoy it. All being well this book will be out this year but I need to make certain it’s perfect as the first book in a series is the all-important foundation the whole thing rests upon. It will be worth it though, I’m sure…

As ever, please comment below and SHARE using the buttons for Facebook, Twitter etc etc!
Cheers!
Steven

Bellicus regained his stool which groaned under his weight as he relaxed, tearing off a piece of bread from the fresh loaf on the trencher before him and chewing thoughtfully as his light-blue eyes scanned the long hall, taking in everything and everyone. He had a special talent for understanding people. For accurately judging a man’s character from just his facial features and the way he carried himself.

His intuition was greatly valued by Coroticus and it had led to the young druid’s newly elevated position as the king’s personal advisor.

“Who better to have at your side,” Coroticus had smiled, “than a giant druid who can read a man’s intentions in an instant and fight like a centurion?”

Bellicus felt a warm glow, from pride at the remembered praise as much as from the beer which he raised now to his lips and sipped appreciatively.

It was true, he was a fine judge of character – a gift from the Gods which he couldn’t really explain himself. His martial prowess though – that was mostly down to hard work and the finest teacher this side of either of the Romans’ ridiculous walls.

Being taller than any other man he’d ever met was also helpful when it came to a fight although, as a druid, he wasn’t expected to form part of his lord’s shieldwall. That hadn’t stopped him trying it a handful of times though. The first time had almost turned his bowels to water but he forced himself to go through it again, and again, until one day he’d found himself nervous, rather than terrified, as he and his comrades faced down the charge of two-dozen Saxon marauders from the south-east.

After that, he’d given up the shieldwall. He’d conquered his fears and it had served its purpose.

Some new audiobook reviews

As you probably know, I have an Audible account and listen to quite a lot of audiobooks. Here’s some reviews of my latest purchases, check them out!

comrades at odds review

Comrades at Odds: A Tale from The Legend of Drizzt
UNABRIDGED
by R. A. Salvatore
Narrated by Ice-T

I’ve read a few of Salvatore’s Drizzt books and thought they were really good. I’m also a big fan of Ice-T, either in Law and Order:SVU or his metal band Bodycount – the guy just has a great voice!

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Ice-muthaf**in’-T, y’all!

So I saw this short story read by him and I thought it was just such a strange combination that it HAD to be cool.

And it kind of is, but ultimately isn’t the best book you’ll listen to this year.
The story is okay, presumably setting up a new character for later full length novels, but not a lot happens and I felt like this was probably aimed more at fans who are familiar with this era of the stories.
Ice-T’s reading is quite good, but it IS reading. He doesn’t try to act any of the parts and never varies his voice when it comes to different characters. He reads a woman’s lines in the same voice as he reads any of the men’s. To be fair, Ice-T putting on a girly voice would have seemed pretty hilarious so it’s not surprising he avoided it, but it does mean the performance is lacking something.
It doesn’t cost much and it’s overall a decent listen so I can recommend it – just don’t expect too much. You might be better starting with one of Salvatore’s full length novels like The Chrystal Shard.

Rating – 3.5/5

empire

Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome
UNABRIDGED
by Steven Saylor
Narrated by James Langton

I’ve read some of Saylor’s stuff in the past and enjoyed it so when I saw this very long audiobook for the princely sum of one credit I knew it would be good value.
And it is! It lasts for a long time so will keep you going until the next credit rolls in. But is it any good? Yes, for the most part it’s well written, has interesting characters and is almost a history lesson without becoming boring or dry.
It follows one family, from generation to generation, as they deal with the various emperors and great events that shaped the mighty Rome. It’s all set within Rome itself and it’s mainly about people and political events, so don’t expect battles or heroic centurions. This is no Ben Kane or Douglas Jackson book but it works, mostly, just as well as something more action oriented as it’s so interesting and so well read – the
narrator really does a fine job.
The only downsides for me were a) everything is rather bleak and depressing, with lots of descriptions of people being tortured for fun while the populace lap it up like rabid dogs and b) there’s too much emphasis on the sexual appetites of everyone. It seems like everyone in Rome was either a sadist or a nymphomaniac which might be true for all I know, but it doesn’t make for the most exciting book. At times I felt like it was too depressing and I just longed to listen to some throwaway, light fantasy or something fun by the likes of Terry Pratchett.
But, overall, this is a fine audiobook – great value for your credit, with a nice performance by the narrator James Langton, and, in general an interesting and nicely structured tale.
Give it a try!

Rating – 4/5

azure

Azure Bonds: Forgotten Realms: Finder’s Stone, Book 1
UNABRIDGED
By Kate Novak , Jeff Grubb
Narrated By Kristin Kalbli

I first read this book a long time ago when I was a teenager. So, probably about 25 years or so ago. At the time I thought it was great, so when I saw it listed on Audible I thought it’d be worth a listen. This is one of the old-school, 80’s American fantasy novels a la Dragonlance and, as such, it’s aimed more at young adults than the likes of Game of Thrones. This is no bad thing in itself but some fantasy fans new to the genre might find this kind of book a little twee.
I was happy to find myself enjoying the tale, which is a good one no matter what age you are, and the characters and events were interesting enough to keep me listening right to the end. I’ll buy the second book in the series too at some point, no doubt.
Dragons, magic, sword fights, friendship, a dangerous quest – it’s all here and the fact it’s aimed at teens means there’s some light humour and nothing gets too dark or depressing.
The narrator is okay without being either brilliant or annoying.

Heartily recommended.

4.5/5

macbeth audiobook review

Macbeth: A Novel
UNABRIDGED
by A. J. Hartley , David Hewson
Narrated by Alan Cumming

Narration was very good (can’t beat a Scottish accent, even if it IS from the wrong side of the country here!) and overall I enjoyed this audiobook. A bit light though, it seemed to flick between scenes without much character development. I’ve never seen the play so thought this would be a good introduction but now I’m not fussed about ever seeing it.
Feels a bit like a wasted opportunity, I think the bones of the story could have been turned into a better modern novel.

Rating – 3.5/5

eagles at war ben kane audiobook review

Eagles at War
UNABRIDGED
By Ben Kane
Narrated By David Rintoul

I’ve been a big fan of Ben Kane’s since his very first Forgotten Legion series, and I was reading his first Spartacus novel in the hospital just after my son was born. I really wanted to check out this new series of his, but I don’t have much time to read these days so the Audible version was downloaded as soon as I had a spare credit.
The narrator is excellent, really putting himself into the tale and acting rather than simply reading which I really enjoy.
The tale, based on a true story, is a good one, with a few nice twists and turns, some good characters and an ending that sets up the rest of the series very nicely. I liked the way the author made me wonder who I should be rooting for – who was the “goodie” and who was the “baddie”? In most books that is very clear cut but here you empathise with both sides and that elevates this work above the usual run-of-the-mill action romp.
If I have a criticism it’s the fact that a certain character was blind to what was coming, even when it was pointed out to him on more than one occasion. It seemed so obvious that it made the guy in question come across as a bit of a fool but I suppose this is something authors must deal with when they choose to write about true events and people.

Overall, another great book by Ben Kane, although I personally liked the Spartacus novel better and will be downloading the second in that series next.

Rating – 4.5/5

Don’t forget, if you have an Audible or iTunes account, check out my own audiobooks, they’re all excellent, honest!

 

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Click the pic to check out my own audiobooks!

 

 

Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil audiobook PRE-ORDER up now.

The Kindle and paperback versions have been up for a couple of weeks, and now the audiobook is available to pre-order from Audible. Includes a foreword written AND read by Phil Rose from Robin of Sherwood, you don’t want to miss this, it’s the perfect thing to listen to in the festive period!

UK:

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Crime-Thrillers/Friar-Tuck-and-the-Christmas-Devil-Audiobook/B017HNZJGC/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1446486708&sr=1-1

USA

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Friar-Tuck-and-the-Christmas-Devil-Audiobook/B017HNY332/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1446486896&sr=1-1

friar tuck

Happy Easter – FREEBIE again!

Happy Easter/ spring/ rebirth festival to everyone, whatever your leanings or faith! How better to celebrate the day than reading about a knight of God banishing ancient evil – topical eh, since today is all about nature seeing off winter?

Knight of the Cross is again FREE on Kindle today so if you missed it last time, get your copy now. I believe this offer is open WORLDWIDE, check your local Amazon page to see. Don’t forget the audiobook (available from Audible and iTunes) is only about £3 if you like that format.

If you like a bargain, keep your eyes open because both Wolf’s Head and The Wolf and the Raven will be on sale this month, around the middle and the end of the month. I’ll post about it nearer the time.

Have fun rolling your painted eggs!

Download UK

Download USA

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Want a signed copy of The Wolf & The Raven?

To celebrate the imminent release of The Wolf & The Raven audiobook I’m giving away a couple of signed copies of the paperback version on Goodreads. Free to enter so click the link and good luck!

The audiobook has been completed, just waiting on it being approved so it should, all being well, be available from Audible and iTunes within the next few days!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/119664-the-wolf-and-the-raven

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