LISTENER

Ray Johnson

Ohio
  • 744
  • reviews
  • 2,531
  • helpful votes
  • 761
  • ratings
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-09-18

Red Sonja tempered with Capt Kirk style

You know, I am always on the look out for something different. I love Sci-fi and fantasy, and am really into Gamelit so I can enjoy something that is new and original, and baby . . . this is it! I like my heroes and heroines tough as nails and lugging around a take no crap attitude the size of King Kong's ping pongs. Shaska fits this bill like few others. She is a real warrior maiden, a bloodthirsty Valkyrie who isn't afraid to risk it . . . or even bare it . . . all. This was so much fun. I got this a lttle after 10am and finished before 5pm today. You have to respect a story that not only grabs you, but drags you down to the ground and doesn't let you up until it is finished with you.

I said in my headline that she has a Capt. Kirk style, and that is because she usually ends up losing her clothing or ditching them during a fight. Shatner lost his shirt in practically every fight he ever had. You ever see what Red Sonja wears? Well, if Conan wears a mankini, then Shaska makes him look like a pansy since she willingly strips down to her bare arse to fight. No armor, just her weapons against her foe. You might say that it is for a distraction, but I like to think that she's like one of the ancient Celts who went into battle naked just to terrorize their enemies.

The story, if you can't already tell, is action packed. The writing is crisp and clings to your ears, but more importantly it is a fun tale. While Shaska is stone cold serious, her talking furever friend is what really brings some light hearted levity into the equation. The two counterbalance each other very well, and one without the other wouldn't be half as excellent. I will say that this fits right in with Howard's Conan and Karl Edward Wagner's Kane saga. Shoot, I'd even stand this story beside Fritz Leiber's Ffafhrd and the Gray Mouser, since she is from that snowy area. The point is, even though this isn't one of those tales, this stands up to the ideas and concepts set forth, but lacks the sexism that some of those tales had.

There are a lot of various villains and foes for her to fight including wizards and beastmen. Each battle just exemplifies an excellence in storytelling, as they are vivid, detailed, and bloody. One thing that I enjoyed was that even though the MC gets nekkid a lot, she does not climb on every man she meets. Sex is a non-issue, which is great as it really wouldn't have a place here, and would only serve to hinder her characterization. I am sure that if she ever does the deed she will be in total control.

Franklin's narration is solid, and he really gets into it hardcore. The man has a seriously mean monster compatible voice that he makes sound effortless when he is in his inhuman mode of speech. He also sets a good rhythm to the story, and paces the plot along like a real pro. I have not heard him before today, but I'd have to say it sounds like he has been doing this for a looong time. He really made the story interesting, and You could just hear the steel in the MC's voice when he spoke. The man can do grit like he just rode out of the old west on Clint Eastwood's stolen horse. He really cranked this up a few levels.

Look at this, a four hour book and I am just rambling, but that is because it is sooo fun. I really enjoyed this tale, and I am sure that anyone who appreciate monsters, mayhem, bloody battles, and naked warrior goddesses will too. Seriously, how could you not? Don't waste your time with other books series, get in on the ground floor of this one and start enjoying a fantastic series.

By the way, the art on the covers is what initially dragged me in, it is phenomenal, and if you asked me, I wouldn't scoff at a graphic novel based on this book. She looks deadly and sexy, and you can't help but look at it and think why isn't this in a comic format already? If it was was it would already be a movie! Yes, this has a real cinematic feel to it, and it would make for a fantastic property. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review. Please check out my other live reviews on the LITRPG Audiobook Podcast.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-18

A glass tale in a land full of stones

This is a weird little short story that runs for just over an hour, but feels like it is twice that time. The Story is about an MC who is a PC who wants to help an NPC while stuck in some MMORPG. Got that? Ok, lemme flesh that out for you. The main character falls into a game tutorial, and meets Sai, an NPC. She is not only an NPC, but she is also the tutorial guide, and within minutes of meeting the titular Bard, she tells him just how many times she has been raped by one player, and sold into slavery by others. She is surprised to learn that he, the MC, is self aware when he is also back at his desk clicking away on his keyboard (or at least that is supposed to be where he is at).

There are a few problems with this audiobook, and the run time isn’t one of them. When I first saw this I thought well here’s a great opportunity to get a LITRPG short story, hopefully get a cool premise or world, or even see something great about a Bard. Little known fact, bards (when done right) can be fun as hell. I refer you to read the bard in Quag Keep by Andre Norton. When done wrong they come across as a wannabe singer for a Carpenter cover band. Here, I really never got to see the Bard do bard stuff. Ok, so he sings in order to speed along his journey, and he sings to a few people, but there is no real bard magic at play here. The most clever thing I saw was the use of the autosave. The rest of the story is basically the bard being a complete gentleman to his slave companion and doing everything from sleeping in an uncomfortable chair for her to be willing to throw away his very life for a computer generated character. There is no real reason for this, he literally makes no connection with her to a point he should be willing to die, but hey, plot points! Aside from some overwrought angst or unrealistic sympathy I could see no reason for such instant and automatic willingness to die for her. The only reason I could logically conceive of was that he had been the player that raped her 200 times, and had logged in under someone else’s profile. Otherwise he has no real connection to her.

The narration is rife with background static, and the narration by Servheen serves no one here. This is mediocre work at best. Let me tell you. I can allow some mispronunciations, but there are certain words that I cannot let slide. Given that I work with blood vessels all day long, and with this particular beast especially, I have to say that I could not believe that he pronounced carotid as carroted. Yep, you don’t have a carotid artery, you, like Bugs Bunny, have a carrotted artery. Like I say, nothing horrible, but this is really the sign of a low level narrator. If you don’t know how to pronounce something, look it up! His delivery is most likely responsible for the low score, because he doesn’t bring this story to life, but he sure as hell shoots it in the foot. Given the right voice work this story might not have been so bad.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, he is called a glass bard because he eventually realizes that he is just like a glass tank. A character who packs a good punch, but shatters when hit. The only problem is, we never really see him actually pack a powerful punch to account for his tank accredidation. Lack of real Bard action in a bard story, mediocre narration, and some audio issues leave me no choice but to go with the low scores. Clean it up audibly, change narrators, and this could have been much better. As it is, I'd suggest the book on Kindle rather than Audible.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

Read More Hide me
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-18

Dismal narration makes Legendary difficult

This was a tough book for me to review. I keep trying to find a really good short Litrpg story, something that in under 5 hours to listen to and be amazed by, and so far I keep coming up short, no pun intended. The issue that I have is that the story is pretty decent, but the narration is of such meh quality that it lowers the potential of the tale. The reading style is solidly mediocre and mostly monotone in melody. The story is set in the future where you get entry into a game called REFUSE one time. You get to play as long as you can until you die, and then that is it, as Hudson would say it’s Game over man, game over. You don’t get to go back. The MC, makes it inside the game for an hour before dying, because he is sent to a level 70+ area even though he is level 0. He protests the death, because he was not placed where he needed to be, but it all falls on deaf ears and he is doomed to enter military service. Then, someone sends him a cheat and he reenters the game, with a chance to earn some much needed credits for his family. He then proceeds to doing every single thing wrong that he possibly can, and never learns from anything. He is a complete and utter noob.

That is the one part that makes this believable to me. His family is really poor, and it takes credits to do everything in the society he is in, and just looking information up on the internet costs more money than he can afford, so he never really had a chance to learn about the world he is entering, or what options he had skill wise, magic wise, and so forth. He goes into it blindly, and his trusting (or stupid nature) is evidenced by how he handles a woman on a bus in need of credit to get home. So, you can forgive him for doing altruistic things even though you know that they will never work out right for him.

As I said, William’s narration is unexciting, weak, and lacking any real impact to the story. It’s kind of like someone in need of sleep trying to read you the business section of the newspaper that’s upside down. It’s not going to get far. It’s not so bad that I wanted to plug up my ears, but this was a short book, and I didn’t have to listen all that long. There is a follow up tale called Tinker, Tailor, Giant, Dwarf, which I have already purchased, so I may review it in the future. We’ll see, because that is a 7 plus hour adventure, and I don’t know if I can handle Williams that long.

This could have been a real gem, but the narration was a major flaw.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

Read More Hide me
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-18

Not very Spoofy

A spoof is when you take a particular genre or film, imitate it, and then exaggerate the characteristics of said item for comic effect. Warscapia is not a spoof by any standards that I could think of. You want a Spoof, watch Spaceballs. That is a spoof. If you want a great literary spoof, that is on Audible, then go an check out Bored of the Rings: A Parody written by the Harvard Lampoon and narrated by Jim Meskimen. It is funny and attacks its target mercilessly. Seriously, it might not be LITRPG but it is a good listen. Warscapia does none of this. You don’t have player issues outside of the game, there is no recognizable world that is being riffed on, no races, or situations for that matter. For all intents and purposes this book should be considered a LITRPG comedy, and only barely so. You want honesty? The book is silly, but not a fun ha ha kind of silly. The MC, a mage named Sparrow summons ducks to do his fighting, the fighter, a guy named Rock Star, knows just how cool he is, and their female companion is so integral to the plot and story that I have forgotten her name. I think it was Jade. Maybe, not sure what she did either.

The book itself is about as LIT as an unopened box of matches. If leveling weren’t involved I don’t think it would qualify in my eyes. Titles do not make it so. The book itself is a very weak, like a tea bag that has been used 100 times and now actually purifies the water more than flavors it. It has a story arc, and the characters do get more powerful, but there is no development or character growth per se. Sparrow does come to accept his ability to summon ducks, but that is as far as it gets.

As for the funny stuff, for a spoof there is little to be found. Boggs attempts to slightly break the 4th wall by inserting himself into the story, but that fell flat. The group fights a lot of monsters with stupid names like lizard monkeys and a Dracula Dragon. Slight spoiler, the dragon is actually an alt form of a real vampire. Count Dragula. What was the missed opportunity here? With a name like Dragula he either should have been in a race car, per the old Munster’s dragula, or in ladies clothing for the drag aspect. Nope. Dracula lite. That’s all. There are a lot of things that you might consider funny if you were reading the book, but Broadhead lacks the proper timing or inflection to sell the joke. For example, there is a lot of talk about heavy metal goblins, whose music will corrupt your soul. A party member retorts, “But I don’t have soul.” Would have been funny if read right. The only thing done right here, by Broadhead, are the various quacks that the ducks do. Zombie duck was the best, but tracker duck came in second. A shame because I have immensely enjoyed his readings of the Bathrobe Knight, a beloved series of myself and my family. My son still says Broadhead can’t do female voices well, and I will note that here they tended to sound the same to other characters he’s done, but he really nailed the Heavy Metal Goblin Guard and Chuckles voices. His Count Dragula was your standard Blah blah blah vampire Lugosi imitation.

Boggs has another LITRPG book out called Dragon Mastery: Daybreak. I will be passing that one by. I don’t want to beat him up any further, and if someone out there listens to it and likes it, let me know and I might give a try, but for now I’m just going to do what Count Olaff says and look away.

Not funny. Lame characters. No real plot.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

Read More Hide me
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-18

Let it Reign, let it reign!

Dawn Chapman is one of the first LITRPG authors I ever read. She is among Blaise Corvin, Dakota Krout, and William D. Arand; which, in my eyes is some fantastic company to keep. The first three books of Putera were really different than your standard LITRPG fare, in so far that it focused on an NPC, named Maddie who was just trying to get by and keep some people she held near and dear safe.

Then Dawn did something crazy. First, she slips away from Maddie in her new book. Then, she triples the length of this book compared to the first three Putera stories. Finally, she ditches Andrea Parsneau in favor of a new narrator. Now, if you knew Mr. Ray, that’s me, you’d say Mr. Ray, out of respect, I know that leaving behind characters and narrators who have done beautiful work in the past behind in favor of some new characters and narrative perspectives is just plain craziness. You just don’t do that. That’ll upset your stomach. And, I’m touched that you’d be so concerned for me and aware of my feelings, but I have to say this. I really like the longer book length. The first three Putera novels had a serial feel to them, and it worked. This is one cohesive uninterrupted tale. Secondly, in order to get this perspective, we needed a new character, and if you HAVE to replace Andrea, well, Anneliese Rennie is a good choice. She gives the series a new voice, figuratively and literally, and I like Maddie belonging to Andrea.

The story itself is already centered in a familiar place, and so we flow into the story rather than being swept away. Emma/Akilla the MC is a complete noobie, and she is one of those clichés in that she is special, but considering the populations size of the other players It isn’t so hard to swallow. I have always appreciated that Chapman keeps the crunchy stuff to a minimum in her books, I think that spouting numbers would just break the flow that she achieves, and she plays this riff out with the constant pings that Akilla receives. The really nice thing is that the world building is pretty much done at this point, and all she needs to do is tell an amazing story, which is exactly what she does. Chapman’s attention to detail is pretty legendary, and she never fails to make the detail interesting rather than verbose and boring. The whole story is well written and full of adventure.

Anneliese Rennie is not Andrea P., but she manages to hold her own. She does give each character their own distinctive voice. But there are a couple of audio nibblets or hiccups that I noticed, nothing major though. I really liked her characterization as Akilla, and can see why Chapman opted to give the new spinoff series a distinctive voice. This is my first time listening to her, and I think I would be happy to hear her again in the future.

A great way to continue Puatera, but bring back Maddie soon!!! Needs my Mads. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

Read More Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Invest in a 1/2 hour book for an 8 hour sleep

As a parent of 5 I can tell you that babies aint easy. Sleepy nap time comes at inconvienient places and times and never when you want them to zonk out. In fact, they never seem to sleep through the night, which means that you don't either. I can say that my wife and I have tried all sorts of things to make the eyelids heavy for the kiddos, and had mixed results at best. Donald lays out a fairly decent plan that should elicit sleeping children if you follow through with everything. Clinger's narration is simple and easy to follow, and you will have no problem understanding him; he speaks very clearly and directly. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Vol 2? Where does the time go?

JOhnny Cot has crafted a second book detailing the proper way to employ and use the Amazon Echo Show in conjunction with Alexa. This is a detailed piece of information that is extremely useful to anyone new to the AES, or has issues with syncing their Alexa to anything. Personally, I have two Alexa's and getting her to understand anything is nearly impossible sometimes. The book is highly detailed, is very helpful, and easy to understand. If you are having any issues getting this device to do what you want then this is the book you will want to turn to. CLinger narrates in easy to understand words, and you will have absolutely no issue following along with what he says. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Crime Scene Clean up crew meh

The best part of this story is the narration by Gregory, he keeps what would be an otherwise uninteresting look at a couple of brothers doing crime scene clean up. I've done that job a few times, and it sucks. This isn't going to be an overly long review. The start of the book is solid, well fleshed out, and paced well. It gets your attention, but somewhere around the halfway point it starts to meander, and almost wanders off, leaving your attention behind. The ending was meh. I was hoping for some sort of twist or shock, or something unexpected and got meh. I don't know what happened, as it started pretty good, but the characters lacked depth, to say the were two-dimensional gives them one more dimension than they deserved.

Like I say, the only good bit about this is Gregory's narration, he manages to hold your attention while the book starts to walk away on you. If it were anyone else narrating this I would have to admit this would have a few stars less, just because he holds it all together so well. Not much to say after that. For a book under 5 hours I need some real bang for the buck, something that pays off in the end. Trickery doesn't have that, so the story is just three stars. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Sid really is a one man Kill Team

I listened to Rated R, and was stunned at the pure perfection that Leon had managed to carve in tribute to the ultra violent R-rated movies of the 70's and 80's. He had packed in tons of violence, brutality, conspiracy, and cover-ups. Here he amps up the senseless violence like he's trying to make a point, probably a knife point, about . . . um . . . something. Hell, he amps up everything in this novel. As great as book one was, book two just runs over book one repeatedly before double tapping the brain just for kicks. I don't know if Leon understands the term escalation, but he sure knows how to apply it to a story.

The book is witty, violent, and so full of action I accidentally punched myself while listening. The characters, including Sid, are more fleshed out and detailed, and show some actual signs of growth. Oddly enough, I also found myself bursting into fits of laughter in various spots, as if the action wasn't enough Leon decided to toss in some serious humor too. He's so sinister.

Buzz Blackburn slashes and burns the narration of this book like he is a member of Kill Team Nine, a Special Ops Agent, whose voice is like the weirding module in Dune, the movie. His words can kill, and man he murders this book! He makes it so visceral that you can hear the body parts ripping off, and brains splattering with every grevious headwound. He is a word sniper, firing intense narration directly into your eardrums from a thousand yards away. I really enjoyed listening to him. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Bloody good fun!

Having just finished this I have to complain and say that I am very upset that I missed out on Sword Dude book ONE! Why is it not on Audible??????? Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy!!!!!! Huh, oh, sorry. Seems like it is actually a part of this audiobook, it just follows the 2nd book. Just like Hill to put the sequel before the original story. Kind of keeps you off balance. Funny thing is, I kind of liked Sword Dude more than Sword Dude 2, but that's not saying much. It's kind of like comparing real Kobe Beef with another Kobe Beef steak. Both are delicious, succulent, and leave you wanting more even though you just gorged on two huge steaks. Book two is told first person style by one of the crudest barbarian sword weilders you will ever not meet in real life. Book One is a third person yarn that just hits home like a grand slam in Japan. Sorry, Kobe beef has me thinking Japanese for some reason.

Anyway, having just recently come off of listening to his Deathmaster "amazingpiece" I had to get this book ASAP. Hill is a madman who knows how to make crazy fun. The only other writer I can compare him to is Carlton Mellick III, who has written stuff like the Haunted Vagina and Apesh*t. Meaning these are not your normal stories, and are so full of delirium that you will feel like you have spent the day at Disney Land while high on NO2 with a fast pass. You will find yourself giggling like Joker has just hit you with his SmileX gas. What I am trying to say is that the stories are fun, engaging, humorous, and completely and creatively original.

Master narrator Scott Bennett plays his pipes like he is on a hill in Switzerland, and some sonnofagun is all out of Ricola. he is a blast to listen to, and you can always tell when he is having fun on a project because is just comes out so clearly in his voice as he speaks. This is totally one of those times. Man, I could listen to him all day, and here he is in the ZONE!

Seriously and quite sincerely, get this book and enjoy not one but 2 great stories, and then lock and load up Deathmaster for a ride you will not believe. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

Read More Hide me