LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 024 - Re-Start, How to Train Your Kaiju, Life Reset: EvP , Is it Litrpg?  -The Four Lords of the Diamond series

LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 024 - Re-Start, How to Train Your Kaiju, Life Reset: EvP , Is it Litrpg?  -The Four Lords of the Diamond series

“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: ”

Re-Start (00:21)

Score: 8.4 out of 10

How to Train Your Kaiju - Kaiju Wars Offline, Book 1 (11:40)

Score: 6.9 out of 10

Life Reset: EvP (Environment vs. Player) (24:09)

Score: 8.3 out of 10

Is it Litrpg?  (37:14)

-The Four Lords of the Diamond series

Lilith: A Snake in the Grass

Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold

Charon: A Dragon at the Gate

Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail



Level UP Series, Book 1

By: Dan Sugralinov, Irene Woodhead - translator, Neil P. Woodhead - translator

Narrated by: Ramon De Ocampo

Length: 15 hrs and 3 mins


Well this book has made me change my tune.  I would never have thought that I would actually enjoy a Slice of life book, but that is really all this book is; as it follows around an average schlub named Phil who is in a loveless marriage, is unemployed, and has no ambition.  Phil suddenly finds himself “awakened” to the realization that he is in a game and that he can level up, gain skills, make friends, and influence people. That is all the book is about, Phil slowly turning his life around one step at a time through meaningful social interactions.

That is what really stunned me.  Dan Sugralinov made a book about going to the gym, buying an apartment, getting a dog, and making friends really exciting.  Honestly, If you told me I would even read a book like this and loved it I would have said you were insane. I read fantasy and sci fi to avoid mundane stuff like that, but this book, with the wiley addition of the Lit Elements cleverly keeps all of the everyday stuff in the fun zone.  Honestly, reading about a dude going to his estranged wife’s hotel room to make sure she is safe is not something that I would even glance at, by dang if Sugralinov didn’t keep me hooked the entire time.

The premise is brilliant, and is handled adeptly and wisely and he manages to balance the real world antics with game elements so that at no point was I bored or wishing for my life to end as so many books do to me.  I actually cared about Phil, and got mad right along with him when something crappy happened to him. I hate to admit it, but the book was a roller coaster that really went from highs to lows really fast.

The narration was above average, but again I wasn’t overwhelmed.  I have pretty high standards, and am used to Hays, Pohdel, Daniels, Parsanau, Rennie, Scarlato, and Toma setting such high standards that a good narrator comes across a lot weaker than he or she actually is.  Either way, it takes a lot to impress me. Ramon De Ocampo does a nice job and manages to add vocal elements such as voices and emotion, and he has nice pacing.

I did have a little issue with the translations, for example one line that stands out in my mind was, “We made it back home without any further innuendo.”  There was no innuendo before that statement was made, and it occurred again later. Some things just got mixed up or were misunderstood and I have to wonder if these translators ever looked at the spirit of the sentence or just words.  I’ve studied Latin and ASL, and My Latin teacher would say that you needed to see the bigger picture when translating, you couldn’t look at a sentence word by word and get it right, there was more to it. I think that is what happened here.  Still, the overall translation was pretty smooth.

I loved every minute of this book.  It had real heart and made me enjoy everyday life type stories, and actually made me consider that I might want to start living my life like I was in a video game, but then I realized two things.  First, I’d have to go to the gym and that I already live my life by code based on a cherished movie. I can’t go changing lifestyle creeds midstream.

My final score is 8.4.  This is a strong first book to what looks like an amazing series, and I for one want another slice.


How to Train Your Kaiju

Kaiju Wars Offline, Book 1

By: Nicholas Knight

Narrated by: Ethan Jesse

Length: 7 hrs and 1 min


This book is an utter conundrum to me.  So much so, that I think that this is one of the books that I would actually place on the Is It Litrpg segment if it didn’t already claim to be litrpg.  To me the book was a bit of a mess, and I really am not sure what it wanted to do. So please allow me to elaborate on what the book is about before I go any further.  The book centers on a protagonist who is in jail. The lad has some anger issues centering on his father who abandoned him and his mother, and is given an out by a mysterious psychiatrist who offers to have him play a game called Kaiju Wars in exchange for an early release.  He gets out only to find his mother is dying of ALS, Lou Gherigs Disease (man, talk about your Typhoid Mary. This dude even whacked Stephen Hawking with his germs) and that she doesn’t have long to live. He is forced to go to college in order for his absentee now returned father to pay for her care and maintenance.   At school he gets a chump for a roommate and hits upon a hot chick who is friends with his despised cousin. His cousin, Lusitania (Who has to be named after the ship, no symbolism there) is a witch who does everything she can to make his life miserable. Needless to say, the protagonist becomes antagonistic a lot, and soon finds that his sessions in the game help him to control his aggression.  Things are pretty cool until he has to find a Kaiju on his own turf and that is where things flip.

So, several things.  First of all, in spite of the reasoning behind him going to school there is no way that I can believe that a guy who professes some much love for his mother would leave her and go to a place where he cannot get to her easily.  Secondly, this book is about as LIT as a wet cigar stub. Here is my beef. The game play takes a back seat to the real world issues that go on. The MC levels without our ever seeing him do so. He just jumps numerous levels by saying he’d played a lot.  Part of LITRPG is seeing the progression, and learning the game/world along with the player. Additionally, game mechanics are pretty few and far between. They talk about stats and special abilities, but don’t really explain much, and the other Kaiju are used infrequently.  Even the fights seem more like something out of a Godzilla Movie rather than Tron or Scott Pilgrim. That would be fine in a straight Kaiju book, but this is supposed to be LITRPG. We get health and rage bars, but that is really the extent of it. I would say that it smacked of playing that Arcade game Rampage (a game I sacrificed many quarters to), but even that doesn’t feel right.  This just does not feel like Litrpg at all. The ending was not a shocker, in fact you rather expect it, since there are more books to come.

The narration was about par.  I was not blown away or amazed.  It came across as a decent first effort, C+, but nothing to make me look for more work by Ethan Jesse.  This was also a huge factor in how the book came off to me. If it had been a different narrator I might have liked this book more, but I just felt like this was someone who was feeling their way and was more worried about getting the technical stuff right rather than the story stuff.  The voices, inflections, emotions just came out as ok. It was simply stiff reading, and it hurt the tone of the book. I really do not think I’ll be going on with this series as I really didn’t care about the narration, the story had ok fights but was VERY predictable, and was not a true LIT book.  Being in a game does not guarantee that you are in the RPG zone at all.

My final score, 6.9 stars.  The story had no life in the reading, has some predictability issues (see if you can’t guess who the PKer is two seconds after they figure out they are getting PK’d), and does not feel Lit to me.  You might like it, but it just left a giant footprint in my eardrum when it was finished. A better narrator might have saved this book.


Life Reset: EvP (Environment vs. Player)

By: Shemer Kuznits

Narrated by: Jeff Hays, Laurie Catherine Winkel, Annie Ellicott

Length: 21 hrs and 53 mins


This is this week’s Soundbooth Spotlight, and man was it fun.  Practically 22 hours of goblin goodness to gnaw on. Orin, the MC who is trapped in the game world, is a goblin Dread Totem who is running a goblinish village.  The book plays out a lot like the original world of Warcraft orcs vs humans game. He creates new peons who do jobs assigned to them, builds and upgrades vital facilities for the advancement of the tribe, and fights off invaders with his limited militia.  I enjoy this aspect more than anything. Granted, I like watching Orin level up and get new powers, but I really love to hear how he adds a new building or upgrades one. Like I say, Tamer by MSE has my attention because the characters are building a fort.  The book really deals with a ton of things happening to Orin and his village after the events of the first book. It seems that no matter what Orin does nothing is going to prepare him for the trials to come.

Orin is in deep trouble as his ex-guild members are looking for him, and he has limited time to prepare for their arrival.  To top it off new monster players have begun showing up, and it seems that one of them is a traitor. Somebody is going around ganking hapless goblin workers, and stealing vital potion supplies.  The urgency of the need to expand, gain experience, and leveling his troops is palpable. To top it off, Orin now struggles to retain his identity as a player. He is sinking more and more into his role as the Dread Totem and losing bits of himself in the process.  One of my favorite bits that got added this time around is the mandibled brain eating seneschal that made me envision a hobgobliny Predator. He was a fun character, and Kuznits uses him quite effectively to demonstrate the importance and dangers of reputation in a very slick way.

Another impressive thing is the way that SBT handled this book.  Last go around, Jeff Hays did the whole thing himself, now he’s added some of the Sound Booth ladies into the mix, but quite wisely keeps himself on the voices that he did the last time.  Annie and Laurie both bring their A game and the sisters of Soundbooth supercharge the story with their sublime storytelling. Jeff is the man, handling more characters than a juggling guillotine operator during the French revolution, I just don’t know how he does it but he has impeccable pacing and knows how to wrap a chapter or add life into a battle scene.  He definitely infuses a sense of urgency into everything that Orin does, and lets his smugness play out oh so very well that you cringe when Orin says something so snide that you know whatever it is is going to come back and bite him on the rump. One thing that sort of surprised me was that Jeff didn’t figure out a way to sound fx to the shadow magic. I would have loved to have heard a light wind to a full breeze blowing when Orin used his shadow powers, but that is really just my own personal desires, SBT really nailed the book down and provided some top notch high quality narration.

My final score on this book is 8.3 stars.  I like that Kuznits doesn’t spit out shorter books, and that he knows the proper thing to do is to put his MC through the wringer as often as possible.  The narration is on a nuclear level, and the overall story is a fun fast paced ride of leveling, struggling to become stronger, and preparing for a point when PC’s will invade the village.  This is slick and smooth, and will sucker you in for more hours than you realize. Get this book and enjoy it.


Is it Litrpg?

The Four Lords of the Diamond series

Lilith: A Snake in the Grass

Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold

Charon: A Dragon at the Gate

Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail

By: Jack L. Chalker

Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne

Length: 10 to 12 + hours


For this segment I’m going to review an entire series; I know this isn’t how it’s normally done, but what the hey! this works much better if I do it this way.  This is a pretty slick sci-fi series that revolves around 4 planets that have been discovered in a distant quadrant of the galaxy. Mankind has spread itself among the stars, and they colonize every planet that is habitable.  The only thing is that these four worlds have something strange about them, that makes it impossible for you to leave once you enter the diamond (a name for the solar system that holds the four planets). See, it holds these tiny little mindless creatures called Wardens that flood the cells of your body.  Once they’re in they can’t come out without killing you, and they can only survive in the diamond. The wardens fix your body up to its physical perfection. If you go in sick you are cured within hours, and they have a trait that makes them imbue everyone who has them gain some kind of superpower. The powers are planet specific, and tend to only work for newcomers.  Long time natives see their skills fade generation after generation.

The way the wardens work makes it an ideal prison system, so enemies and criminals of the Confederacy find themselves sent there to keep them out of the govt’s hair.  Essentially only the worst of the worst make it there. This means that each planet is run by the nastiest, smartest, most self-centered people you can find in the galaxy.  Bad news for the confederacy is that they discover a conspiracy in the diamond system that may or may not involve aliens. Either way there is a massive threat to their way of life.  So, they send in their top assassin to infiltrate all four worlds to uncover the threat and stop whatever is going on. How do they do that, you ask, since once you go to a planet you are marked by that planet and can only use the abilities of that planet?  Well, the confederacy has this thing called the Merton Process in which they can record your mind, and download it into other people. Also, in Matrix style it can also include some info that gets downloaded right into the MC’s head, such as maps and data about each planet.

The way it works is the nameless assassin will sit just outside of the warden system and receive mental uploads from each of his dopplegangers.  The plan is for his mind to override one prisoner on each transport that is going to each planet via the merton process. Each duplicate agent will have a small device implanted in their head which will allow the assassin to learn what they discover and allow him to piece things together until he can solve the big mysteries.  This is all well and good until some of his duplicates get a little upset that they are permanently trapped and he gets to sit in his chair in the sky and walk away after its all over. Needless to say, not all of the duplicates stay true to their assignment, and not all survive and that is where the real power of these books lies.  While there is a formula you don’t always get what you expect. The only real downside to the book is that there is a formula, and one that can be a little maddening. Basically, after the initial break in for the story each book has an almost identical verbatim explanation, with minor variations for what happens once his mind is uploaded into the unsuspecting criminal’s body.  I seriously recommend just listening to find out who each person he uploaded into was and then moving on to when he arrives on the planet, unless you like repetition and stats about populations, planet temperatures, locations of cities, etc. I’ve read these books enough that I jump over it all, but it can be a bit boring otherwise. As I’ve said, each planet provides different powers on one planet you can swap bodies, on another you physically adapt to the environment, on another you can cast “spells”, and on another planet you can literally reshape the world around you with a thought.  Each book is extremely interesting and slowly reveals that there is a conspiracy and what the conspiracy is. Eventually you learn the purpose of the wardens and how the Lords of the diamond (criminals who run each world) are striking at the Confederacy. In spite of being recorded in 2013 the narration is surprisingly good, it is crisp clean, and Kirby Heyborne does different voices for the characters. I liked that, and it added to what I expect from a narrator. He’s vocalized almost 500 books, hitting a majority of genres and is still working in the field to this day, so the man has skills.

Now we get to the meat and taters of it all.  This series is fraught with lit over tones. The MC uploads his mind into a computer and wakes up in a new world with powers he’s never experienced, powers that he has to figure out how to use, and if he figures it out he needs to level up as quickly as possible, and he has a quest to discover (and stop if possible) a threat to his world.  Given that the different protagonists all slowly level their powers, and actually become different people than their base template this feels a lot like a portal theme coupled with a trapped in the game feel. Additionally, the nameless assassin has an A.I. companion who helps him navigate through the clues, but doesn’t necessarily work on his behalf.

Thus you have a semi-helpful A.I., portal plus trapped in the game so to speak, uploading into a computer, getting powers and having to level them up coupled with a quest that is wrought with opposition, danger, weird alien creatures and a time limit I have to say that while this technically isn’t LITRPG it sure as hell looks, smells, and feels lit.  This is probably the most lit series that isn’t lit that you will find. Honestly, each of the four worlds has its own set of rules, abilities, and challenges and that makes it feel like differing game worlds. I really love this series and I am going to call it Lit. PLease check it out. Not going to score it, but it is one of my most loved series, and I have it in three formats, paperback, kindle, and audio.  You won’t be sorry you checked them out.


Thanks oh so very much for watching everyone, I do appreciate you taking to the time to watch or listen to the show. If you want to support us, you can like the LitRPG Podcast facebook page or the YouTube Page, or just share and like the video.  I’m going to ask for more suggestions for the Is it LIT segment, I’ve got a good one for next time, but will always need ideas. Please leave comments or suggestions in the comments below, and feel free to tell me whatever you like. I enjoy the feedback.

For LitRPG Audiobook Podcast, I’m Ray. Keep listening!!!

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