LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 005
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 005 - Mitigating Risk, Temple of Sorrow, Stuff and Nonsense, Supers: Ex Heroes
You can read the full reviews and shownotes if you visit us at:
Score: 8 out of 10
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Score: 8.75 out of 10
Supers: Ex Heroes (23:17)
Score: 6.5 out of 10
“Hello everyone. Welcome to the LitRPG Audiobook Podcast. I’m Ray. I’ll be reviewing some recent and classic LitRPG Audiobooks for you. I’ll begin with:”
Mitigating Risk Nora Hazard Series, Book 1
By: Blaise Corvin
Narrated by: Emily Beresford
Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
I make no exaggeration in stating that Delvers LLC is one of my favorite series, and that I was miffed when I learned that the master craftsman, Blaise Corvin had decided to shoehorn this series in between the next Delvers book. Still, I trust that Corvin is going to craft a tale that will make me happy in the end, and so I got the first Nora Hazard book.
First of all, I can see that Corvin has finally crafted a character that he can appreciate. Nora is a streetwise, tough as nail, knife fighter. Anyone who knows Corvin will recognize his penchant for blades, and Nora is his Valkyrie warrior maiden made flesh. The only umbrage that I had anywhere in the book came from the overly emotional reaction that Nora experiences from a loss early in the book. It really colors everything that she does, and only when she frees herself from its constraints that she fully embraces her destiny and potential. Of course, that is something that every character in every book has to face, but she is just overly whiney about it. That, however, is a minor detail. I have to point it out, otherwise I'm not doing my job as a reviewer properly.
On the upside, the book has a ton of fantastic stuff going on including magic knives, superpowers, naughty drakes, and evil villains. Corvin can most assuredly cast out a vivid battle scene, one full of blades, fire and death. He also manages to bring in one or three faces from Delvers for us to clap at when they appear. Nora is a complex and riveting character whom you will automatically empathize with and want to succeed. The woman's story is one of tragedy and loss, but with an unrelenting perseverance that pushes her forward. Her attitude and grit will keep you listening as the story goes. The final show down between the White Shadow . . .no. . .White Darkness . . .um, Eggshell and Nora is epic, and it shows that ingenuity and the ability to keep going can be unbeatable at times.
Emily Beresford does an incredible job narrating, right now she is in my top three for lady narrators and with good reason. She fuels every step that Nora takes with emotion and gravitas. You bleed right along with her, your eyes water when she cries (if you are nancy boy wimp, that is. I had dust in my eyes). You can feel the heat from her rage, and the strength in her resolve. Beresford knows how to pace a story, and speeds up and slows down naturally. She really makes storytelling seem effortless.
Corvin most certainly stepped out of his comfort zone to pen this amazing book, and he nails it like he was hanging a Picasso. This is an excellent addition to the world of Ludus, and really serves as a prequel to Jason and Henry arriving. If you have enjoyed Delvers you will love Nora Hazard. If you like strong independent female leads you will love Nora, if you are fan of action, adventure, magic, knife fights, sword fights, monsters, hidden dungeons, intelligent weapons, crazy priestesses, and Dolos Orbs then this is not something you will want to miss!!!
Final Score: 8 out of 10 stars
Next up is . . . .
Temple of Sorrow Stonehaven League, Book 1
By: Carrie Summers
Narrated by: Annie Ellicott, Jeff Hays
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
Temple of Sorrows is a book made for readers new to Gamelit/Litrpg stories. It has some crunch, but nothing someone coming in fresh couldn’t handle, and it gives you the “I’m going to build up my character blindly” MC. She is basically an awesome gamer, until Devon, the MC, enters Relic Online. At which point she turns into a such a complete noob that she knocks herself out within five minutes of entering the game. She then does just about everything wrong that she can, until she starts using her head and gets into the game. Once she has made her decision to actually help out the area she is in she begins to make semi-intelligent choices. Which allows new readers to flow into the game world with her, and sink their teeth into something not so overwhelming. Hardcore readers of LITRPG may find this tale a little less spicy than they like. Although the book has some action scenes, there is no real major battle that takes place. Even the confrontation with the book’s big bad had no teeth. It was not exciting nor action packed. It was more of a resolution created by one swift action. You might argue that the scene with the tainted animals might qualify as action packed, but I will disagree. I never got swept away in any of the fights. I can compare it to going and actually watching gladiatorial battles in ancient Rome, and then coming back and watching professional wrestling. It was nice seeing Devon use her head, and out think some things, but the action was completely watered down and carried no weight. Storywise, this looks to be a lengthy series, as Devon has to acquire several objects in order to revive an ancient city.
The writing is actually really good, it is articulate, verbose, and descriptive. It is not boring, and it is fun. There were some research issues that drove me crazy, things that someone not familiar with animals and insects might make, such as Summers wrote that when a snake was stunned it blinked. Snakes don’t have eyelids, and so cannot blink. She also called spiders insects, they are arachnids, and I swear to you I was congratulating her in my head after those two slips for saying venomous snakes, and not calling them poisonous, when she referred to the spiders as spitting poison. Little stuff like that stands out to me. I am not a grammar nazi, but if you are going to refer to something, know how to refer to it. Research takes minutes nowadays. Otherwise, the tale is pretty flawless, and is a fun listen. I only pointed out those details because they kicked me out of the story. Like I say, the story is good, and the character of Devon is interesting. She’ll keep you reading.
The narration by Annie Ellicott and Jeff Hays is top notch as always. The pair interact with one another effortlessly, and really add some depth to the story. I will say that Annie really fills her voice with emotion that I don’t see in a lot of narrators, male or female. Jeff, on the other hand has a toolbox filled with different voices that he uses to reflect Annie’s acting. I also really appreciate the production quality of this book, it had nary a hitch nor glitch soundwise. Soundwise? Is that Pennywise’s evil narrating sibling? Either way, the narration really picks this book up and meshes with the direction that Summers is taking the story.
Final Score: 7.5 for lack of a pay off and no real big battle scene.
Stuff and Nonsense Threadbare Series, Volume 1
By: Andrew Seiple
Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Series: Threadbare Series, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
I’m sure that most of you have seen this book, after getting such high praise from Whoopi Goldberg. That is NOT what brought me to this novel, I had my sights on it when I first heard it was coming out. Honestly, I thought it was going to be similar to another book series called Teddy Bears in Monsterland: An Urban Fantasy Novel: Teddy Defenders, by Justin Sloan. But it wasn’t. This is a fairly powerful stand on its own story, in which the main character, a golem who happens to be a Teddy Bear, goes from sentience to sapience. This is book one of the series, and it was incredible, but I could have done without the Epilogue. Had it ended on the preceding chapter the book would have been near perfection.
The setting is strange, and it has the distinct feel of having been a world based off of a tabletop rpg, that somehow transitioned into a computer game. There are little hints here and there as the characters all discuss how things suddenly changed overnight for no particular reasons they could fathom. Threadbare, the main character, is just as adorable and cuddly as you would expect, right up until he pops his claws and starts slashing foes. For the majority of the book he runs on instinct, and it is a fascinating look into the mind of a creature that slowly becomes self-aware.
One thing that threw me was that this really plays out like a book a kid could read, and then suddenly the cursing and killing begins, and it throws you. Granted, in a book that deals with bloody kills, some cursing shouldn’t stand out, but it does. Once you get into the book it kinda of becomes background noise and it doesn’t bother you, but it takes a little while for that to happen. Otherwise the story is intense, and while it does vacillate between Threadbare and his human girl in POV, the story never slows down. It is a crunchy LITRPG book, too. You get stats, notices, etc. The book hits every box needed to make a fun and exciting story.
One thing that really sealed the deal for me was the narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds. At first he comes across like Sebastian Cabot reading Winnie the Pooh. He has a very distinct, Mr. French way of speaking, and I half expected Threadbare to start thinking, Tut Tut, it looks like rain, but then he morphs his voice once other characters are introduced and he does a spectrum of male to female and human to inhuman that is distinct in each case, and is believable. At no point did it feel like this was a guy doing voices. He was living the parts, and that only added to the fun. I think he played the cat better than anyone else, and everyone knows that cats are notoriously hard to play.
Like I say, the book is nearly flawless, but could have done without the Epilogue. The writing, characterization, plot, drama, and willingness to kill characters coupled with the incredible narration make me give this book a final score of 8 and three quarter stars. I really hope that Seiple can maintain the momentum that this book has got going for it. Give this book a big listen and enjoy a teddy bear picnic.
Final score: 8.75 Stars
Supers: Ex Heroes
By: Jamie Hawke
Narrated by: Justin Thomas James, Laurie Catherine Winkel, Annie Ellicott, Jeff Hays
Length: 5 hrs and 47 mins
This book really feels like a Harmon Cooper or JA Cipriano story melded into William D. Arand’s Super Sales on Super Heroes. That’s not bad, but it doesn’t have its own distinctive voice per se. The story itself is a Harem/Portal/Litrpg tale about a man framed for murder and is then abducted by aliens to be placed in their intergalactic jail for super criminals. His problem is, he doesn’t have any powers, and he makes some pretty powerful enemies as soon as he arrives. The book then turns into a survival, level up, stop the big bad who is coming story. That bit isn’t bad, but the tale is really swamped by sex scenes. Now, I get why the sex is important to the story, but the MC, Breaker, stops to have sex about every five minutes, even when he is on the clock and there is a timer counting down. Granted, there are times when the sex serves a purpose, but if you did a fade to black every time he had sex you would probably shave an hour and a half off of the run time of the book. I’m no prude, and I am not offended by sex scenes, but sometimes the story should play out a bit more before the characters engage in coitus. Just as an example, in JA Cipriano’s the Pen is Mightier 2, the MC meets a girl in Vegas, and actually takes some time to get to know her before they finally do the deed. Here it was almost like a pizza guy making a delivery in a porno. Ding dong, Hi gotcher pizza! Thanks, you want a slice? Wink Wink. And that is a real shame because Breaker, and his bevy of beautiful bouncy babes all are interesting characters, and have some pretty cool back stories that could be further expounded upon. Their powers are all fairly unique, or at least used in new ways, and the leveling worked enough for me to consider this to be Litrpg.
The real saving grace here is the audible antics provided by Soundbooth Theater. The team is on point and packing heat for this one, and you can tell they were having fun with it. The girls really know how to turn on the naughty, and JTJ manages to make you believe he is just a regular guy simultaneously having the best and worst day of his life. Jiffy Jeff Hays gets to play the heavy, and he knows how to bring the menace and monstrous to a character. I know, I sound like a fanboy, but I know that when I have SBT as my auditory attackers that I will have been handed the best quality narration I could ask for.
Again, this could have been an amazing book, if Hawke had added some more story to make up for the overriding sex scenes. Then they wouldn’t have felt so overwhelming or broken the storyline up so much. I really think that we needed a little more time in the prison, with some added danger, a few more minor characters, and a little more revelation about all the fighting going on. We could have met a few more faction leaders, or some character that Breaker did not want to have sex with or get to have sex with.
Final Score: 6.5 for focusing more on sex than story or character development. If this had been more fully fleshed out the score would have been much higher.
This podcast is sponsored by Soundbooth Theater, makers of great audiobooks.
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