Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis cover image
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Iron Man: Extremis
adapted by Marie Javins
performed by a full cast

2014 Graphic Audio
5 hours unabridged
Genres: science fiction, comic heroes
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  5 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Advanced technology has given Iron Man life, but now that same future tech threatens to become Stark's death. A dangerous terrorist has ingested a new techno-organic virus, transforming him into a superhuman killing machine. Now immensely powerful, but driven mad by the virus' effects, the terrorist is seemingly unstoppable. To halt this madman's psychotic rampage, Iron Man must face this dangerous new virus a life-or-death battle that will forever alter Stark's calculated balance between man and machine. Experience Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's blockbuster re-imagining of the armored Avenger like never before in this new adaptation!

© Marvel

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Ever since the creation of Captain America during World War II, scientists have been trying to re-create the super soldier serum that gave the Captain his super abilities and then was lost for all time. Now, Maya Hansen, a top researcher in the field, has made a major breakthrough. Her Extremis serum has been successfully tested on animals but before it could go any further it was stolen by a low-level thug named Mallen, who promptly tested the serum on himself. Extremis was a huge success, giving Mallen all kinds of super strength and abilities.

What does Mallen decide to do with his new-found power? Naturally he wants to destroy the government whom he blames for the death of his wife and child. However, it just so happens that Maya Hansen is an old friend of Tony Stark so when Mallen begins his rampage she turns to Tony in hopes that Iron Man can stop the destruction. Now Iron Man is a pretty tough dude but let’s just say his first duel with Mallen does not go well. In fact, Iron Man gets his butt kicked. But don’t take my word for it, let’s hear it in Tony Stark’s own words as he describes his injuries to an EMT on the scene:
Everything is broken. I have pulverized bones, excessive bleeding and internal injuries. And the piece of Velcro I use to scratch my nose is missing.
So Tony’s in pretty bad shape. His armor is all busted up and his body is even more busted up. In fact, if the armor wasn’t holding his broken body together he would probably be dead already. Modern medicine might be able to save him, but that would take months and a full recovery seems doubtful. Stark’s only hope may be the Extremis serum itself. If successful, the Extremis could heal him and give him enough power to stop his enemy, but in his current state there’s no guarantee he could even survive the violent changes brought on by the serum. Probable death versus saving lives: it’s the same decision superheroes face all the time and there’s no question which way Tony Stark will go.

I appreciated the capable way in which Warren Ellis handled the character of Iron Man. Of course, the superhero in any story is at the mercy of the person doing the writing and it’s up to that person to have a good working knowledge of how that hero should act. Ellis showed a good amount of knowledge and imagination in handling Iron Man and using the abilities, and weaknesses, of his armor to the fullest extent. There was one scene in particular where Iron Man was trapped beneath a car and being burned alive until his suit began to actually draw energy and power from the fire itself. I never even knew Iron Man could do that but it makes sense; his armor is the most technologically advanced piece of equipment on the planet after all.

Okay, here are a few things that caught me by surprise in Iron Man: Extremis. While I was listening to the audio I thought this book was borrowing from the Iron Man origin story from the first Iron Man movie, where Tony Stark was wounded and captured by some insurgents in Afghanistan and he built his first suit of armor to save his own life and also to escape. I also thought that the Extremis story was borrowing heavily from the plot of the third Iron Man movie, where ordinary humans were deliberately infected with some sort of virus that gave them all sorts of crazy superhuman abilities like super strength and breathing fire. After I finished Extremis and began reading about its production I was surprised to learn that Iron Man: Extremis was originally written in 2005, three years before the first Iron Man movie hit theaters. It was actually the movies that borrowed heavily from the Extremis story.

Iron Man: Extremis was a six-issue storyline originally published in Marvel’s Iron Man comic book series. It served as a “new beginning” for Iron Man, redefining his origin and significantly upgrading his power and abilities. The original comics were written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Adi Granov. It was adapted for audio by Marie Javins. The audio production was directed by Richard Rohan and featured the voice talents of Richard Rohan, Richard Cutting, Sherry Berg, Andy Brownstein, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Kimberly Gilbert, Michael John Casey, Scott Graham, Nora Achrati, Jacob Yeh, Steve Wannall, David Harris, Christopher Graybill, Evan Casey, Drew Kopas, Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Sasha Olinick, Nanette Savard, Rex Anderson, Rebecca Sheir, Matthew Schleigh, Tim Pabon and James Lewis.

Batman: No Man's Land Part 1 by Greg Rucka (Audiobook Review)
Civil War by Mark Millar (Audiobook Review)
Enemies & Allies by Kevin J Anderson (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, August 20, 2014

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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The First Phone Call From Heaven
by Mitch Albom
read by Mitch Albom

2013 Harper Audio
7 hours 40 minutes unabridged
Genres: general fiction, inspirational
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  4 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief - and a page-turner that will touch your soul - Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven will recognize the warmth and emotion so redolent of Albom's writing, and those who haven't yet enjoyed the power of his storytelling will thrill at the discovery of one of the best-loved writers of our time.

©2013 ASOP, Inc. (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: If you follow the news at all you’ve probably heard this story a few times before. Somewhere in the world, someone sees the face of Jesus in a piece of toast or a potato chip or a tree and for a few days the whole world seems turned upside down. Religious fanatics flock to the site holding all-night vigils, the media swarm the area, the pope has to make a monumental decision on whether it’s a genuine miracle or not, while the rest of us watch in stunned disbelief wondering how things came to this.

In Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven the miracle that has everyone so excited is just what it says, a phone call from heaven. Actually many phone calls from heaven. In the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, several of the residents are receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones. It started with a single call, a woman who got a call from her mother who died four years before, and soon there were at least seven reported cases of these ethereal person-to-persons. The calls are usually brief and there are some common themes in the messages they deliver: don’t be afraid, stop mourning me, the end is not the end.

Just as in real life cases of alleged miracles, Albom’s characters respond in a variety of ways ranging from the skeptical to the fanatical. Some people believe it to be a hoax, some take it as a sign that the end times are approaching. Some of the people receiving the calls wonder why they were chosen, and some of those who have not received calls are left wondering just the opposite. Albom illustrates this point clearly and heart-breakingly in the form of a young boy who becomes obsessed with the notion that his deceased mother will soon be calling him. There is a group of fanatics who camp out on the front lawn of one person who is receiving calls. The media begin circling like sharks. And one man, the father of the aforementioned young boy, a man who has been struggling with faith since the tragic death of his wife, is determined to prove once and for all that the whole thing is just a fake.

Mitch Albom has written a compelling and completely believable story of faith and religion in modern times, although frankly it can’t have been that hard to write since, like I said before, we’ve all seen the story before. Still, Albom always does a good job of exploring the depths of human emotion and he always brings it home at the end, shooting straight for the heart with unerring accuracy. Upon reading The First Phone Call From Heaven you may find yourself wondering how you would react in a similar situation or how you might feel, and any book that can do that has done its job.

As with a few of his other audiobooks, Mitch Albom narrated The First Phone Call From Heaven himself. As with many author-narrators, Albom did a fine job. If you’ve ever read any of my older reviews, I always used to say that authors make terrible narrators but after listening to several hundred audiobooks I finally realized that that is just not true. Apparently I was unlucky enough to get a couple of bad ones early in my audiobook career. Albom has a pleasant speaking voice, his pacing is good, he differentiates the characters so you can tell when someone different is talking, and he reads dialogue pretty well, which I think is one of the hardest things. Overall it was a good performance.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom (Audiobook Review)
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom (Audiobook Review)
The Returned by Jason Mott (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Harper 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, August 13, 2014

Hector Trogg's Perfect World by P A Booth (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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Hector Trogg’s Perfect World
by P A Booth
read by P A Booth

2014 P A Booth
13 hours 40 minutes unabridged
Genres: adventure, middle grade
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  4 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: This unabridged audiobook is about a bored schoolboy who daydreams of aerial dogfights and tank battles. An inheritance leads to his dreams becoming reality, and this impulsive boy causes more damage and destruction than the assassin pursuing him. Yet, it is his annoying sister who often turns out to be the hero.

The book has adventure, comedy, a fast plot, the complications of a dog and a cat, as well as lots of incident and humour.

From its publication date of 1 July 2014, the book is available as hardback, paperback and audiobook. The unabridged audiobook is available through, as well as a CD with MP3 files.

There are two free chapters you can listen to at

©2014 P A Booth

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Hector Trogg is pretty much an ordinary young boy. He leads a pretty dull life but his daydreams are full of adventure and intrigue, something that is common to young boys I can tell you. But all that changes when Hector and his older sister Kate inherit a large sum of money. It begins with a narrowly escaped car bomb and just gets crazier from there. It is clear that someone wants to kill Hector and Kate to get at their money. Suddenly Hector finds all his extravagant daydreams coming to life, everything from an aerial dogfight to a tank battle to fighting off hordes of trained assassins. And all along the way Hector and Kate prevail, sometimes by accident and sometimes due to their own cleverness.

One of my favorite things about Hector Trogg’s Perfect World was the way Booth portrayed the dog Bandit and the cat Otto, giving them thoughts and personalities of their own. For instance, when Bandit first met Kate and Hector he knew immediately that Kate would be the most vulnerable to his big brown eyes and that the sticky-looking Hector would probably be good to lick. Upon Otto’s first encounter with the kids, he was trying to decide which of them to kill first but decided to wait a bit to see if they would give him something to eat first. Isn’t that just like a cat? Throughout the audiobook Booth seemed to perfectly capture the thoughts of Bandit and Otto and these were some of the funniest moments of the book for me.

Author P. A. Booth handled the narration duties for Hector Trogg’s Perfect World himself and I must say that he did an admirable job. His voice characterizations were pretty good, his pacing was comfortable, and he really sounded like he was enjoying himself, which made me feel the same way. Booth has been a university lecturer, owner of an IT company, and mediocre squash player. He began writing stories for his children and decided he quite enjoyed it. We enjoy it too Mr. Booth.

Hector Trogg’s Perfect World is one action/adventure story that is just chock full of, um, action and adventure. There are some scary moments when it looks like Hector and Kate are finally caught, and some elements of the mysterious as they try to figure out who is trying to kill them and why. There are plenty of moments that will have you chuckling out loud and also some more tender scenes where you can sense brother and sister (actually more sister than brother) maturing and coming to realize how important siblings are. I’m not sure what kind of daydreams girls have but I bet almost every young boy in the world would enjoy this book. The big kid in me enjoyed it very much.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (Audiobook Review)
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Audiobook Review)
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to P A Booth 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, August 6, 2014

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

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The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
by Ambelin Kwaymullina
read by Candice Moll

The Tribe, book 1
2014 Candlewick Audio
8 hours 46 minutes unabridged
Genres: dystopia, fantasy
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  1 out of 5 haloshalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: “There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centers. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured, vulnerable, with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

©2012 Ambelin Kwaymullina, original book published by Candlewick Press. (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Okay, I came across The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf in Brilliance Audio’s monthly email and it looked good. I usually go for this type of young adult, kids with weird powers, dystopian, messed-up-world book. Unfortunately this one didn’t work out so I have to give it a DNF or “did not finish” review.

As far as the plot goes, it seems that some people in this fictional world are born with strange powers and those powers can be just about anything. The government in charge frowns on this so everyone is tested at the proper age and anyone found to have these powers gets locked up. If a kid discovers their special ability before the testing, they might decide to run away or their parents might send them away. There’s no place to go really except out into the wild, outside the cities. This happens often enough that there are groups, or tribes, of these children existing in the wild. The government knows it and it galls them that these kids are breaking the rules and they would do anything to get them all rounded up. That’s why it was such a big deal when Ashala Wolf, a tribe leader, was captured. Except that we find out later she was actually betrayed by a member of her tribe. So now Ashala, which the narrator pronounces A-‘shay-la, is in custody and they’re trying to get information out of her.

All of that took maybe five or ten minutes to learn. Then I spent the next two hours or so waiting for something to happen or something new to develop, but it just never came. I finally got bored with it and moved on to my next book. The plot was just too slow to develop and even after a couple of hours I found myself not really caring what happened to Ashala, she just wasn’t that interesting.

Candice Moll is new to me, this is the first time I’ve heard of her. During my relatively short time in The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf I found her narration to be reasonably good. She read this book in an Australian dialect, which I thought was odd, but later found out that she actually is Australian. She has a few other audiobooks to her name and various radio commercial spots but I believe she is best known for the animated series The Fairies, although to be honest with you I’ve never heard of that either. Anyway, I’d like to hear her again sometime to get a better idea of what she can do.

Icons by Margaret Stohl (Audiobook Review)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Audiobook Review)
Pure by Julianna Baggott (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Brilliance 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.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jimi and His Friend Joe by Anna-Christina (Audiobook-Review

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

Jimi & His Friend Joe by Anna-Christina” cover image
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Jimi & His Friend Joe
by Anna-Christina
read by Anna-Christina and Adie Hardy

2013 Busy Bees Publishing
10 minutes unabridged
Genres: adventure, children
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews

  4 out of 5 haloshalohalohalohalo

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Based on a tabby cat with unusually large ears called Jimi, this is a story about two unlikely friends. The story takes you on a farm yard adventure and features an unexpected twist in the music. Written, composed and narrated by Anna-Christina, ‘Jimi & his friend Joe’ is the fourth audio book produced by Anna-Christina and producer/engineer Adie Hardy of Busy Bees Publishing.

The story includes an original classical soundtrack with an unexpected twist. Character voices by Anna-Christina and Adie Hardy. Rob Stitch (singer of Rhino) as Jimi the cat, Susie Lewis (you may have seen Susie as Harriet in the Play Colder Than Here) as Moorerag the Border Collie and Tom Meadows (you can find him touring the world drumming for some of today's biggest artists such as Kylie Minogue) as Piggy the Pig and drums. Accompanied by unique sound effects throughout.

©2013 Busy Bees Publishing

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: On a very ordinary farm lives a very ordinary tabby cat named Jimi. Well, he’s ordinary except for his unusually large ears. Jimi doesn’t mind that though, he believes that his big ears give him superfeline hearing. Also on this farm live a couple of border collies named Moorerag and Tyler. These two dogs, as you might have guessed, are bullies. They like to play loud music even if you’re trying to sleep and they always tease Jimi about his big ears. In short, they rule the farm and aren’t friendly to any of the other animals.

One day some exciting news began to circulate among the farm animals. A new animal was coming to the farm but no one knew just what kind of animal it would be. Well, when this new animal finally arrived, Jimi and the other animals were much chagrined to see that it was another collie. Everyone knew that Joe, the new collie, would hang out with Tyler and Moorerag and join them in bullying the other animals but when there is a crisis on the farm the animals all learn that working together and being friends is a much better way.

Jimi and His Friend Joe is one of the latest offerings from Busy Bees Publishing in their kid-friendly series of music audio stories. These are not just audiobooks but feature music, sound effects, and a full cast of voice actors to bring each story to life. The main narration is done by Anna-Christina, who also writes the stories and the original music. The stories are short and always have an important lesson to teach your children, in this case the importance of friendship and cooperation. I think these musical stories would be just the thing to share with your children at bedtime, or maybe just to break up a rainy afternoon. Your kids can learn something from these and they will always cherish the time you spent with them.

March Of The Ants by Anna Christina (Audiobook Review)
Chris The Caterpillar by Anna Christina (Audiobook Review)
Johnny No Cash by Anna Christina (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Busy Bees Publishing 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.