Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mister Tidwell, Gunner by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

Mister Tidwell, Gunner by L Ron Hubbard cover image
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Mister Tidwell, Gunner
by L Ron Hubbard
performed by a Multicast

2014 Galaxy Audio
2 hours 13 minutes unabridged
Genres: adventure, pulp fiction
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  4 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: In the year 1798, Oxford academic Mister Tidwell, to his abject terror, finds himself pressed into the British Navy schooling young midshipmen aboard the HMS Swiftsure of Lord Nelson’s famed fleet. To compound his horror, Tidwell must man a battle station during combat–the makeshift operating room deep in the belly of the ship where the surgeons are no better than butchers.

Tension mounts as the Swiftsure sails into dangerous Mediterranean waters with the French fleet poised to strike at any moment. Things get worse when, due to a freak mishap in the heat of battle, Tidwell discovers himself alone and without any support against Napoleon’s naval forces!

Also includes the adventure stories “Submarine” and “The Drowned City”

©2014 Galaxy Audio

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Mister Tidwell is the soft-spoken, scholarly type; a professor at Oxford University no less. His relatively quiet, well-ordered life is suddenly turned topsy-turvy when he is pressed into service in Admiral Nelson’s British fleet as a schoolmaster. The Napoleonic Wars are in full swing and Professor Tidwell is terrified and overwhelmed to find his ship the target of French man-o’wars and every man, including himself, must fight. It is a defining moment in his sedentary life when he comes to the conclusion that this will be a case of kill or be killed.

All authors are often faced with the question, “Where do you get your story ideas?”, and it was no different for L Ron Hubbard. He explains that many of his stories begin with a single hard fact, in the case of Mister Tidwell, Gunner the fact that there actually was a schoolmaster aboard Admiral Nelson’s ship during the Napoleonic Wars. Hubbard went on to say that from that one kernel of truth a fertile imagination could go absolutely anywhere. Well, imaginations don’t come much more fertile than L Ron Hubbard and Mister Tidwell, Gunner is a prime example of that.

Also included in this 2-disk set are the sea adventures The Drowned City, the story of two deep-sea divers who set out in search of a lost treasure only to find that the waters are full of treacherous currents and even more treacherous men; and Submarine, in which a young sailor on leave enjoys a quiet interlude with his girlfriend—only to have it interrupted by a call to duty and danger.

Many readers of fiction know L Ron Hubbard as a master of science fiction, but it is perhaps less well known that he was actually a master of almost every genre of fiction: sea adventures like this one, air adventures, fantasy, mysteries, even westerns. During the 1930’s and ‘40’s Hubbard wrote literally hundreds of short stories for various magazines of the day covering just about every genre there is. I’m happy to say that Galaxy Audio has taken on the monumental task of collecting those stories into brand new audio editions complete with music, sound effects, and a talented cast of voice actors. The completed work is a delight to the ears and if you haven’t tried one of these yet you’re missing out on something special.

Mister Tidwell, Gunner features the talented voices of Enn Reitel, Jim Meskimen, and Christina Huntington, Submarine was narrated by R F Daley and voiced by Michael Yurchak, Brooke Bloom, Jim Meskimen, and Melissa Kirkland, and The Drowned City was voiced by Rob Paulson, Michael Yurchak, Jim Meskimen, and R F Daley. They don’t just read these stories, they actually act them out and they’re very good at it.

On Blazing Wings by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)
Hurricane by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)
Twenty Fathoms Down by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Galaxy Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

JLA: Exterminators by Christopher Golden (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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JLA Exterminators
by Christopher Golden
read by a Full cast

2008 Graphic Audio
5 hours unabridged
Genres: comic heroes
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  5 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. The Flash. Green Lantern. They are the World's Greatest Super Heroes, fighting endlessly against corruption and injustice. Each of them is a formidable opponent of evil, but banded together their powers are unmatched. Ever ready, they stand united as the -


When a mass outbreak of super-powered individuals threatens the world, the JLA determines that latent metahuman abilities are being triggered by an alien contagion, one that's spreading throughout Earth as it transforms its hosts into monstrous engines of destruction. Racing to contain the infection, the world's greatest super heroes link the parasitic plague to an alien invasion from the team's earliest days and make a horrifying discovery: the JLA itself is responsible for the imminent disaster they now face.

(P) and © 2008 DC Comics.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Ten years ago a newly formed group of super heroes called the Justice League of America battled invading aliens. The inexperienced and unorganized group reacted as best they could and managed to kill the aliens without looking in to why they had come in the first place. Around this same time a strange, metallic-tasting rain fell over the United Kingdom.

In the present, a more seasoned JLA is noticing a large increase in the number of metahumans. They seem to be everywhere but as Batman investigates he notices one thing that a majority of them have in common: most of them originated in the UK. This surge in metahuman activity worries the JLA because not all super-powered humans decided to become heroes, some choose another path. One way or the other the situation must be monitored closely and that’s exactly what the JLA does. It doesn’t take long to determine what the real crisis is. Shortly after their superpowers manifest themselves, the new metahumans are undergoing a terrible transformation, or metamorphosis. What they become are nothing less than monsters: powerful, thick-hided, lizard-like creatures that cause massive damage before they mysteriously burrow into the ground and disappear.

The members of the JLA, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern, have their hands full. Each monster is a handful and there are literally hundreds of them. Then the most shocking revelation of all is made: through their continuing investigation Batman and the Martian Manhunter find a link between these monsters and an old case the JLA had ten years ago. It seems that ten years ago, the JLA members made a terrible mistake and now that mistake has come back to haunt them.

If you’re a fan of the JLA or of comic books in general then this one should be a no-brainer for you. JLA: Exterminators is a great story with lots of good action scenes. The entire Justice League is here so don’t worry about your particular favorite being left out and as the plot heats up we even begin to see a lot of JLA reservists being called into action. I think a pretty fair portion of the DC Universe is represented here in one way or another.

Graphic Audio always does a fantastic job of producing these stories in an audio format using high quality music and sound effects. In addition they have a talented cast of voice actors that don’t just read the story, they actually play the parts and act out the story. The end result is a thing of beauty and it’s just what Graphic Audio calls it, “A Movie in Your Mind.”

JLA: Exterminators was written by Christopher Golden, was adapted for Graphic Audio by Dan Sondak, and features the voice talents of Richard Rohan, James Konicek, Colleen Delany, David Coyne, Thomas Penny, Eric Messner, Michael Glenn, Andy Clemence, Peter Stray, M.B. Van Dorn, Barbara Pinolini, Bruce Rauscher, Nanette Savard, Terence Aselford, Susan Lynskey, James Lewis, Dylan Lynch, Karen Carbone, Elliot Dash, Elisabeth Demery, Michael John Casey, Michael Replogle, Cate Torre, Greg Reinfeld and Mort Shelby.

Batman: No Man's Land Part 1 by Greg Rucka (Audiobook Review)
Enemies & Allies by Kevin J Anderson (Audiobook Review)
Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Graphic Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
read by Zach Appelman

2014 Simon and Schuster Audio
16 hours 2 minutes unabridged
Genres: general fiction, World War 2
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  5 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

©2014 Anthony Doerr (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Oh boy! I absolutely loved this book. I don’t even know what to say about it. Gosh! Okay let’s do this: instead of trying to write a synopsis for All The Light We Cannot See that would not even begin to do it justice, why don’t I just introduce you to a few of the main characters.

The Sea of Flames An enormous blue diamond, 130 carats, with a flare of red at its core, the Sea of Flames has a long and tragic history. The story goes that the goddess of the earth created the diamond as a gift for her lover, the god of the sea, and sent it to him through the river. When an earthly prince picked up the diamond she became enraged and cursed the stone. The keeper of the stone would live forever but misfortunes would fall on all those he loved. A tragic tale follows the diamond through time until finally it came to the King of France on the condition that he lock it away for 200 years. Thus it has been kept in a special vault at the Museum of Natural History in Paris for the last 196 years.

Marie-Laure (mar’-ee lore) Marie-Laure is the young daughter of the keeper of keys at the Museum of Natural History and she knows all about the Sea of Flames. She went blind at the age of six and her father built an exact scale replica of the six-block walk from their apartment to the museum so she could memorize it by touch. When the Nazis invaded, Marie and her father were forced to flee their home and they ended up in the coastal town of Saint-Malo (san ma-lo’) at the home of her father’s uncle. Unbeknownst to Marie, the Sea of Flames went with them in an effort to keep it safe. Remarkably, Marie ends up working for the French underground, carrying messages hidden in loaves of bread and using the radio transmitter in her great-uncle’s attic. The Nazi grip on Saint-Malo tightens however, and the members of Marie’s household disappear one by one, including her uncle, her father, and the housekeeper. As the war nears its end Marie is alone in the house while the city is being bombed to pieces all around her. Also, the radio transmissions have caught the attention of Nazi specialists and the Sea of Flames is also being traced to her location. This all places Marie in a very precarious position.

Werner (ver’-ner) Werner grew up an orphan in a small mining town in Germany with his sister. He once found a simple radio that someone had cast out because it was broken. He studied the device very carefully until he saw what was wrong with it and fixed it. From then on radio was his passion. By the time the Nazis came to power Werner had earned something of a reputation as a radio repairman. Even though his lowly status as an orphan would have precluded him from joining the third reich, his skill with radios caught the attention of the Nazis and he was sent away to a Hitler youth camp, where conditions were hard and he was taught many horrible things. When he was old enough, Werner was sent to the front but not as a soldier. Rather he was sent into France to track down underground radio transmissions using signal triangulation equipment that he had helped to build. After shutting down many transmitters, he stumbles across one that is broadcasting the voice of a girl. It is a sweet sounding voice that seems completely out of place in the bombed out city of Saint-Malo. Instead of reporting the signal to his superiors he just listens, undecided what to do.

von Rumpel Sergeant Major von Rumpel is a German officer who is primarily a treasure hunter. It is his job to scour France for the most valuable treasures: paintings, gems, sculptures, you name it. He is very aware of the Sea of Flames diamond and wants to possess it very badly for obvious reasons. What is not so obvious to the casual observer, however, is that von Rumpel is being eaten alive by cancer and more than anything he believes that the Sea of Flames is his only chance to survive. Beginning at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, von Rumpel tracks the progress of the priceless diamond to a house in the devastated city of Saint-Malo.

And those are the primary players from All The Light We Cannot See. It was fascinating to watch their individual stories slowly come together in the ruins of Saint-Malo. I don’t want to give away too much so all I can say is that some of them survive the war and some do not. But one way or another, the war had a permanent effect on them all.

Mostly this is the story of Werner and Marie-Laure. You see, many years before the war, Marie’s great-uncle and his brother built the radio transmitter in the attic of their family home. They would broadcast classical music and lectures about dinosaurs and anything else they could think of. All the way up in Germany, a young orphan boy who had just found his first radio and fixed it, came across their regular program and was captivated by it. Later on, near the end of the war, Marie finds herself all alone in her great-uncle’s house and there are no longer any messages to transmit for the French underground. Finally despairing of any hope, Marie decides to transmit one of her uncle’s old records, an album containing classical music and dinosaur lectures along with a call for help, even though it may alert the Nazis to her location. This is the transmission that Werner hears, the same one that captivated him as a child in better times, and the sweet voice of the girl. Even though she is supposed to be his enemy he knows that he must help her.

Gosh, I just want to sit here and tell you the whole story as I relive it for myself. It’s a beautiful story, definitely one of the best I’ve read this year. I’m going to try hard to restrain myself because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But you definitely need to read this book or listen to the audio as I did. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I have no complaints at all about Zach Appelman’s narration of All The Light We Cannot See. He was easy to listen to for several hours and his French and German accents sounded just fine. Appelman is an accomplished stage actor with a long list of credits on and off broadway. He also has a few television guest appearances under his belt including Law & Order: SVU, and Sleepy Hollow. He has very few audiobook credits so I’m guessing he’s new to the genre, but I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from him in the coming years.

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck (Audiobook Review)
On The Wings Of Heroes by Richard Peck (Audiobook Review)
Ghosts Of Bungo Suido by P T Deutermann (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Slickers by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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The Slickers
by L Ron Hubbard
performed by a Multicast

2014 Galaxy Audio
2 hours 14 minutes unabridged
Genres: murder mystery, pulp fiction
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  4 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: When Sheriff Tex Larimee of Cactus County, Arizona gets a message from his ailing friend, copper magnate John Temple, to escort him west from New York, he’s more than happy to oblige.

Things go bad for Tex soon after his arrival when his wallet is stolen, and he gets held up by a gangster at gunpoint. But when he finds Temple stabbed to death in his hotel, Tex’s situation gets downright desperate. He’s framed, accused of the murder and pursued by the New York police as their top suspect. Not bad for his first day in the big city. . . .

Also includes the mystery stories “Murder Afloat” and “Killer Ape”

©2014 Galaxy Audio

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Okay, The Slickers reminded me a lot of that old TV show McCloud, where a lawman from New Mexico goes on assignment to the big city. It was always a case of the honest and hardworking backwoods country bumpkin teaching the more “sophisticated” city crooks a lesson or two.

Tex Larimee isn’t from New Mexico, he hails from right next door in Arizona. He heads off to New York City to help out a friend in need, something any self-respecting range rider would do. When he gets there, however, he finds himself the victim of an elaborate setup. His friend has been murdered and the blame has been pinned squarely on Tex. Those city boys think they have Tex backed into a corner but they’re about to find out that that is where Tex Larimee is most dangerous.

L Ron Hubbard himself was born and raised on the frontier, right here in Nebraska as a matter of fact. And he too headed off to the big city but he had a better time of it than Tex Larimee did. It didn’t take Hubbard’s writing career long to take off and he eventually became one of America’s most prolific fiction authors, writing hundreds of short stories for the leading periodicals of the day.

Now Galaxy Audio is collecting all of those stories Hubbard wrote in the 1930’s and 40’s and reproducing them in stunning audio editions. Those old stories come to life with theater quality music and sound effects and Galaxy’s talented cast of voice actors who don’t just read the stories, they actually act them out. Voices for these stories include R F Daley, Enn Reitel, Tait Ruppert, Thomas Silcott, Michael Yurchak, Chandra Bernal, Corey Burton, Jim Meskimen, Phil Proctor, Kristin Proctor, and Tamra Meskimen. If you haven’t experienced one of these productions yet, then I highly recommend it.

This 2-disk set also includes the mystery stories Killer Ape, in which a man frees a mistreated orangutan, only to end up with a monkey on his back, as he’s accused of aiding and abetting the ape in a case of murder, and Murder Afloat, the story of a top narcotics cop in the U.S. Secret Service who’s pursuit of a million-dollar score could land him in some hot—and deadly—water.

Tomb Of The Ten Thousand Dead by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)
Hell'S Legionnaire by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)
Gunman'S Tally by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Galaxy Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman
read by George Wilson

1999 Recorded Books
9 hours 19 minutes unabridged
Genres: science fiction, military
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  5 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: When it was first published over 20 years ago, Joe Haldeman's novel won the Hugo and Nebula awards and was chosen Best Novel in several countries. Today, it is hailed a classic of science fiction that foreshadowed many of the futuristic themes of the 1990s: bionics, sensory manipulation, and time distortion.

William Mandella is a soldier in Earth's elite brigade. As the war against the Taurans sends him from galaxy to galaxy, he learns to use protective body shells and sophisticated weapons. He adapts to the cultures and terrains of distant outposts. But with each month in space, years are passing on Earth. Where will he call home when (and if) the Forever War ends?

Narrator George Wilson's performance conveys all the imaginative technology and human drama of The Forever War. Set against a backdrop of vivid battle scenes, this absorbing work asks provocative questions about the very nature of war.

©1974 Joe W. Haldeman; (P)1999 Recorded Books

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Well I decided to take a break from the new releases I’ve been listening to and revisit an oldie but a goodie. I like new books, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and relax with an old favorite. It’s like sitting down for a chat with an old friend. I know people who will never read the same book or watch the same movie twice and that just seems odd to me. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman was actually one of my very first audiobooks that I borrowed from the public library all those years ago and I’ve listened to it a few times hence but never got around to writing a review. So here I am finally doing it.

In the distant future of the late 1990’s, humanity is spreading itself out across the stars. Naturally we make contact with an alien race and naturally we start a war with them. As the war machine on Earth springs to life, a draft is initiated. They don’t just draft anybody, however, they only draft the best and brightest young men and women the planet has to offer. William Mandella is among the first of these. These elite draftees are taught to be lethal killing machines and they also learn about our enemy, the Taurans, although little is known about them as yet. And so begins the Forever War.

Science fiction writers naturally love to sit around and dream about what kinds of advances the future may bring. If said author simply wrote down his or her ideas about the future it wouldn’t be very interesting to read. So they come up with story ideas about characters who travel forward in time and then simply report what those characters see. If you’re a sci-fi fan then you are probably familiar with this type of story. Wells’ The Time Machine and Heinlein’s For Us The Living are good examples.

Joe Haldeman uses the time-distorting properties of near-light-speed travel to propel his characters forward. During the days and months that William and his squadmates are zooming across the universe chasing after the Taurans, years and centuries are passing on earth. Of course things have changed very drastically each time they make it home or to another human colonized planet. By the time the war ends, a thousand years have passed and William has hardly aged at all. So what we basically have here is Joe Haldeman’s thoughts on what the next thousand years of evolution and technological discovery might bring for the human race. But in between visits to Earth, Haldeman writes some great battle scenes. I think The Forever War was the first science fiction book I read that featured soldiers in fighting suits, highly advanced suits of weaponized armor. These have become fairly common in military science fiction today. Haldeman goes into a lot of detail about how they work and all the neat things they can do. And there’s even a little bit of a love story here as well. Not the gushy romance kind of love story, but simply two characters who, after spending a few decades fighting the enemy together, realize that they have fallen in love. That’s all well and good as long as they continue traveling together, but not so good when they are separated and realize that they will never see each other again. They did, however, find a rather ingenious way around that whole time-distortion thing. Or rather they learned how to use it to their advantage.

Anyway, The Forever War is a great science fiction book that has become a classic. I enjoyed the technology Haldeman dreamed up and it was interesting watching humanity battle problems like over-population and rampant crime and poverty. I highly recommend this audiobook to any fan of the genre.

George Wilson did a good job in his narration of The Forever War. I wouldn’t call him a great narrator, but he’s easy enough to listen to. His pacing and inflection are good even if his voice characterizations aren’t great. In addition to narrating over one hundred audiobooks, Wilson has a long list of credits in radio and television including ten years of radio broadcast news for Armed Forces Radio and mainstream radio stations. He has scripted and hosted several corporate videos for some big name global corporations and is currently working on his own novel and short story collection.

Germline by T C Mccarthy (Audiobook Review)
Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Audiobook Review)
Gears Of War: Coalition's End by Karen Traviss (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Carrollton Public Library for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.