Audio

Speculative fiction in audiobook format.




Long Black Curl: Music is magic

Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe

Long Black Curl is the third novel in Alex Bledsoe’s TUFA series. You don’t need to read the previous books, The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing; Long Black Curl can stand alone because its three main characters are new to the series. However, most of the other characters are from the previous books, so you’ll be missing some background on them if you haven’t read them. For maximum enjoyment, read them first.

Bledsoe’s TUFA books are about a tribe of swarthy backwoods folks who live in the Smokey Mountains. If you were passing through that region and met any of the Tufa, you’d think they were inbred ignorant rednecks with little education and fewer moral... Read More

Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles: More Atticus and Oberon, please!

Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Well, I just can’t get enough of the Druid Atticus O’Sullivan and Oberon, his Irish Wolfhound. So, when I saw that two of Kevin Hearne’s IRON DRUID CHRONICLES short stories were recently produced in audio format and narrated by the amazing Luke Daniels, I had to have them. These stories have also been released in ebook format.

“Kaibab Unbound” is Kevin Hearne’s first short story. It takes place just a couple of weeks before the events of the first IRON DRUID CHRONICLES novel, Hounded. Atticus and Oberon are driving from Phoenix, where they live, to the Grand Canyon for a little nature retreat. When they stop in at their favorite coffee shop, Atticus notices a pretty young witch with a bad aura. As they’re driving on the interstate... Read More

The Rebirths of Tao: Satisfying conclusion, but I hope there’ll be more

The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous books, The Lives of Tao and The Deaths of Tao. You can’t read The Rebirths of Tao as a stand-alone — you really need to read the previous books first. My review will not spoil The Rebirths of Tao.

The Rebirths of Tao is the third and final book in Wesley Chu’s TAO series about a race of aliens (called the Quasing) who crash-landed on Earth millennia ago and, in an effort to get their spaceships working so they could get back to their home planet, are responsible for the evolution of the human species. They have managed this by possessing the bodies of creatures they found on Earth and guiding their actio... Read More

Philippa Fisher and the Fairy’s Promise: A nice children’s tale about friendship and loyalty

Philippa Fisher and the Fairy's Promise by Liz Kessler

In this sweet conclusion to the PHILIPPA FISHER trilogy from Liz Kessler, Philippa is once again visiting her new friend Robyn, who we met in the previous book, Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter. While the girls are investigating some standing stones, Philippa is magically transported to the fairy godmother agency where her best friend and fairy godsister Daisy works. While Philippa’s parents are frantically searching for her, Philippa has learned that her mother is in grave danger. It was illegal for Daisy to give Philippa that information, but the girls are best friends and Daisy feels like she has to warn Philippa. This act of loyalty starts a whole string of unexpected events that change everybody’s lives forever and that, perhaps, may h... Read More

Tokyo Raider: A quick GRIMNOIR fix

Tokyo Raider by Larry Correia

Tokyo Raider is another of Larry Correia’s audio “shorts” in his popular GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES series. There’s not much to these little stories, but they’re hard to resist because they’re narrated by the amazingly awesome Bronson Pinchot and they give fans a little fix while we wait for another GRIMNOIR novel.

A couple of decades have passed since Warbound, and the United States and Japan are not friendly. But that doesn’t stop Japan from asking Joe Sullivan, a heavy, for help in banishing a demon summoned by the Russians to terrorize Tokyo. Joe is the son of Jake Sullivan, the protagonist of the previous GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES books. Joe’s mother is Japanese. The Imperium has built a 12-story high... Read More

The Martian Chronicles: A melancholy meditation on failed American ambitions

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I really didn’t like The Martian Chronicles when I first read it last year. Considering its legendary status in the genre and its very high ratings by other reviewers I respect, I was really looking forward to finally reading this classic SF tale. But what I discovered was a series of loosely-connected vignettes with some connecting material that seemed fairly superfluous. While I found the first few stories actually featuring Martians very well written and intriguing, once the Martians went offstage and were replaced by an endless series of annoying, hokey Midwesterners from 1950s America, my interest died more quickly than the Martians themselves.

However, I knew I must be missing something.  This is considered one of the greatest works of mid-20th century science fiction, and is highly regarded even by the literati outside the genre. So I decided to try the aud... Read More

Undercity: An underground society with real-world social concerns

Undercity by Catherine Asaro

I’m a sucker for stories that take place underground, so when I saw the cover and title of Catherine Asaro’s new book, Undercity, I knew I had to break my commitment to not start a new series until I’d finished all the other ones first. (For the last seven months I’ve read only books that continue or finish a series I’ve previously started.)

When she was an orphaned child, Major Bhaajan used to live in the dark dirty tunnels under the city of Cries. She was one of the dust rats — the kids who run in packs through the tunnels. They live in poverty, are malnourished, don’t go to school, and have few opportunities. Bhaajan was hard-working and motivated, though. She left the Undercity when she joined the military, and she hoped never to return to Cries. Now, retired from t... Read More

Solaris: Can we communicate with an alien sentient ocean? If so, about what?

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Solaris is an amazing little novel with a colorful history. First written in 1961 by Stanislaw Lem in Polish, it was then made into a two-part Russian TV series in 1968, before being made into a feature film by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. It only reached English publication in 1970 in a Polish-to-French-to-English translation. And just when you thought it had faded from attention, both James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh expressed interest in doing a remake, with Soderbergh getting the nod in 2002 because Cameron was busy with other movies. Finally, a direct Polish-to-English translation by Bill Johnston was made available as an ebook and audiobook in 2011. In my case, I saw the Tarkovsky film back in 1995, watched the Soderbergh film in 2002, finally read the 1970 translation in 2013, and listened to the audiobook version in 2015.

Are the book and films wort... Read More

Leviathan: What Would Jack Do?

Leviathan by Jack Campbell

Leviathan is the most recent book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER series. It wouldn’t make any sense to read Leviathan before reading the ten books that precede it. This review will contain spoilers for the previous books, but not for Leviathan.

At the end of Steadfast, Admiral Blackjack Geary’s fleet had been escorting their new alien friends back to the hypernet gate to their own star system when they discovered a fleet of invisible ships laying waste to a nearby planet. They realized that a virus in their own software made the ships invisible, that the “dark ships” were nearly invulnerable, and that when Geary’s ships engaged them, they seemed to be programmed... Read More

Steadfast: Episodic and teachy, but fun

Steadfast by Jack Campbell

Steadfast is the tenth book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series and the fourth in the BEYOND THE FRONTIER subseries. You really need to read all of the previous nine LOST FLEET books to best enjoy Steadfast. I’ll assume you have. There will be spoilers for previous books in this review.

Steadfast has an episodic and teachy feel. Geary and his crew have several different missions, some more exciting than others, and each seems to give Campbell a chance to speak to something going on in our world today. I agreed with Campbell’s “lessons” more often than not, but I was always aware that the lessons were there and that Campbell was using his story as a platform.

Rec... Read More

Guardian: Trying to get home… again.

Guardian by Jack Campbell

Guardian is the ninth book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series and the third in the subseries called BEYOND THE FRONTIER. You really need to have read the previous eight books to fully understand the background, so I’ll assume you’re familiar with the series if you’re reading this review.

Admiral Blackjack Geary and his wife Tanya Desjani (captain of the warship Dauntless which is the admiral’s flagship) are once again far from home and trying to get back. Now that the war with the evil Syndicate Empire is supposed to be over, Geary’s fleet has been sent by the Alliance “beyond the frontier” to investigate the first alien species that humans had ever encountered. (It’s a little hard to believe that the Alliance government would... Read More

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter: Another sweet story

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter by Liz Kessler

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter is the second book in Liz Kessler’s trilogy about Philippa Fisher, a lonely 11 year old girl with eccentric hippie parents. When we met her in the first book, Philippa Fisher and the Fairy Godsister, she had come to the attention of the fairy godmothers because her best friend had recently moved away and she was sad. A young inexperienced fairy named Daisy was assigned to grant Philippa three wishes. Both Philippa and Daisy learned a lot and became best friends. But Daisy had to go back to the fairy organization after the case was over.

Now it’s summer and Philippa and her family are going on vacation. Daisy has been assigned to take care of a girl named Robin whose mother recent... Read More

Carpe Jugulum: DISCWORLD gets dark

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Carpe Jugulum (1998) is book 23 in Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series. Like most of his books, this one could stand alone, but it will be most appreciated by those who are familiar with the Discworld and, in this case, Pratchett’s loveable witches — Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, and Agnes Nitt. I’d advise reading Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, and Maskerade first.

Magrat, who is now queen of Lancre, has just given birth to a princess. Her husband, King Verence, a good natured man who is always reading books to learn how to be a good king, has diplomatically invited some foreigners to the celebration. Unfortunate... Read More

Swords and Deviltry: The origin stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

If you want to read “sword & sorcery” tales, why not go back to the source? Fritz Leiber’s FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER (LANKHMAR) series was first conceived in the 1930s and the first story “Two Sought Adventure” was published in 1939 in Unknown. For the next two decades he wrote additional stories but it was not until the 1960s that Leiber decided to organize and integrate the stories more closely by ordering them chronologically and added connecting materials and backstories. Therefore, Swords and Deviltry (1970) is the first of the series based on characters’ storyline, but was actually written much later. The seventh and final book, The Knight and Knave of Swords (1988), comes almost 50 years after the init... Read More

The Chestnut King: A satisfying conclusion

The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson

In this final installment in N.D. Wilson’s 100 CUPBOARDS fantasy trilogy for children, Henry is living in the world behind the cupboards with his “real” family, but he is still able to get to Kansas to play baseball with his friend Zeke. Henry has a lot on his mind. He’s been having scary visions that seem prophetic and he is worried about the scar that’s growing on his face. It was caused by a drop of the evil witch’s blood and Henry suspects that it will eventually drive him mad and/or give the witch control over him. Henry’s friend Frank the Fat Faery has been disowned by the faeries because he helped Henry break the curse that bound Mordecai.

Henry is happy to be reunited with all the people he loves, and to meet his older brother James who has arrived to see him, but the fami... Read More

Dandelion Fire: Better than predecessor

Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson

Dandelion Fire is the second book in N.D. Wilson’s 100 CUPBOARDS trilogy for children. In the first book, 100 Cupboards, we met Henry, a boy who went to live with his aunt and uncle in Kansas and discovered 100 oddly-shaped doors behind the plaster in his attic bedroom. There are different worlds behind all those doors and toward the end of the book Henry finally gets into one and inadvertently sets free an evil witch queen. I thought this was a great premise, and I liked Henry, but I was disappointed that so little time was spent exploring the other worlds.

At the beginning of Dandelion Fire, Henry is about to be sent home to live with the overprotective but unloving parents who adopted him when he was a baby. He know... Read More

Maskerade: Pratchett does The Phantom of the Opera

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Marion and I both read Maskerade around the same time. I listened to Nigel Planer narrate the audio version (he's so good) while Marion read the book in print format. She joins me here as we discuss this DISCWORLD story featuring the witches of Lancre.

Kat: After Magrat Garlick married the king in Lord and Ladies, there were only two real witches in Lancre: Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. This isn’t right; everyone knows you need three witches. Granny realizes that their best prospect for a replacement for Magrat is Agnes, a girl who is known for having a nice personality (which means she’s unattractive). Agnes is full-bodied (to put it nicely), but she knows there’s a skinny girl inside. Unfortunately, that skinny girl has a name... Read More

Straits of Hell: Like WOT on water

Straits of Hell by Taylor Anderson

My reviews for Taylor Anderson’s DESTROYERMEN series are getting shorter and shorter. That’s because, with each book, I have less to say.

Here’s the bottom line: Taylor Anderson has created a wonderful world full of loveable characters. It’s fun just to hang out with them. However, at this point, it feels like that’s all what we’re doing: just hanging out. Sure, there are battles and a bit of personal drama, but it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. In Straits of Hell, book 10, Matthew Reddy and his crew and their allies are once again fighting Don Hernan’s Dominion on one side while they fight the second battle for Grik City on the other. Meanwhile, enemies — including the Japanese — continue to plot and shift alliances. Also, a mysterious new power enters the field. We got a glimpse of them at the end of the last book. Will t... Read More

Anathem: This book could be anathema to some readers… DNF

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

At one point do you admit defeat and give up on a book? Especially one that you really WANT to like, by an author whose work you respect, and has been lauded by critics and readers alike. I’ve put off tacking Anathem for many years because: 1) it’s a massive door-stopper about an order of monks millennia in the future devoted to philosophy, science, and mathematic theorems; 2) it’s got an entirely new lexicon of neologisms invented to describe this alternate world; 3) most of the readers I respect have found it challenging but rewarding; 4) will I lose all my SF street cred if I admit to not liking this?

I decided that the audiobook format might be the best way for me to take on this behemoth. It features four different narrators (Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and Neal Stephenson d... Read More

Soarer’s Choice: Satisfactorily concludes the second COREAN trilogy

Soarer’s Choice by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

The second trilogy in L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s COREAN CHRONICLES closes with Soarer’s Choice. While this book is better than the previous novel, Cadmian’s Choice, that’s mostly because (1) It closes out this overly-long trilogy and (2) It gives the background that helps explain the world Alucius lives in in the first three COREAN CHRONICLES books, LegaciesDarknesses, and Scepters. (The story of that first trilogy occurs generations after the events in the second trilogy, Alector’s Choice, Cadmian’s Choice and Soarer’s Choice).

Mykel and Dainyl continue to be noble and upright and, consequently, continue to be promoted up their respective ... Read More

Snow Crash: So much more than just “cyberpunk,” and funny as hell

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

This is probably my favorite cyberpunk novel of all time, but “cyberpunk” really doesn’t capture the book’s range. It runs the gamut of the Metaverse and avatars, skate punks, an anarcho-capitalist Balkanized United States, super-cool technology, neurolinguistic viruses, hacker communities, burbclaves, ancient Sumerian mythology, Aleutian harpoonist super assassins, the Church of Happyology, and last but not least, Uncle Enzo’s Cosa Nostra Pizza, where your pizza is delivered in less than 30 minutes or Uncle Enzo, the Mafia boss owner, will fly by helicopter to apologize to you in person. And the driver’s life is forfeit.

The opening chapters feature Hiro Protagonist, Last of the Freelance Hackers and Greatest Swordfighter in the World, as he strives to deliver a Pizza with 20 min already on the clock, in his black, kick-ass Deliverator vehicle, which sounds like the Batmobile customized f... Read More

Lords and Ladies: Pratchett does A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

“If cats looked like frogs, we’d realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That’s what people remember. They remember the glamour.”

In Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett’s fourteenth DISCWORLD novel, we get to see what happened to the land of Lancre after Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick stirred things up and changed its fate in Wyrd Sisters. You don’t need to read Wyrd Sisters first to enjoy Lord and Ladies, but some familiarity with the witchy ladies might add to the enjoyment. Please note that in writing this review, I can’t help but spoil one aspect of the ending of Wyrd Sisters.

So (and here is the spoiler for Wyrd Sisters), Magrat Garlick, the youngest... Read More

Cadmian’s Choice: A long middle book

Cadmian’s Choice by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Cadmian’s Choice is the fifth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s COREAN CHRONICLES and the second in the trilogy about Mykel and Dainyl. You don’t need to read the first trilogy in the COREAN CHRONICLES (Legacies, Darknesses, Scepters) before reading this one. In fact, I think it makes more sense to read this trilogy first since it focuses on events that occur generations before Legacies. However, you do need to read Alector’s Choice before starting Cadmian’s Choice.

In Alector’s Choice we met Mykel, a “lander” who lives on the planet Corus. He, like most of Modesitt’s protagonists, is ultra-honorable and ultra-competent, and he has risen remark... Read More

The Darkest Part of the Forest: A fairy-tale remix with a touch of realism

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Holly Black's latest book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, is a marvelous YA fairy-tale remix. It follows siblings Hazel and Ben as they work to unfold the mystery surrounding the sleeping prince in the forest outside of Fairfold, a town where humans live in close contact with the fairies the rest of the world doesn't believe in. As Hazel and Ben get closer to understanding the history of the town and the forest, they begin to hide secrets from each other and themselves. Only when all the secrets are told can they work to save the people they love.

Jana and I read this book at the same time. I listened to the audio version. Here are our thoughts.

Kate: The Darkest Part of the Forest combines the favorite themes of young adult fi... Read More

The Soldiers of Halla: Finally, some answers!

The Soldiers of Halla by D.J. MacHale

It’s been a few years since Bobby Pendragon first found out he was a Traveler. He’s been all over the territories of Halla, trying to thwart Saint Dane’s plans to throw all of Halla into chaos. Now the final battle is here. Can Bobby and his friends kill Saint Dane, or will all of Halla be forced to live in the terrible universe he has created?

The Soldiers of Halla, the final PENDRAGON book by D.J. MacHale, begins with Bobby learning who he is, where he came from, and what happened to his family — all in one huge infodump. I’m not sure why Bobby couldn’t know these things before... (Well, actually, I do know why — it’s because MacHale likes to withhold information for dramatic effect, even if it doesn’t make sense to the plot. This happens freq... Read More