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  • gilwilson 4:01 PM on March 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , brilliance audio, , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Missing in Death” (short story in The Lost Anthology book) “In Death”series book 29.5 by J.D. Robb 

    ‘”Missing in Death” (short story in The Lost Anthology book)
    “In Death”series book 29.5
    by J.D. Robb
    produced 2009 by brilliance audio
    read by Susan Ericksen
    approx 3.5 hours

    I just can’t help myself, I keep coming back to this sci-fi detective series by J.D. Robb, I know what it is, it is the characters.  J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts from book one has created some solid characters to fill these books.  They are solid, three dimensional, and intriguing.  Robb has created characters the reader can care about and want to hear/read more about their adventures.  Lt. Eve Dallas is a tough homicide detective in New York City in the mid 21st Century.  She led a rough childhood thanks to the some dark workings of Homeland Security.  Eve’s Husband, Roarke, also had a rough childhood, living off the streets in Dublin, Ireland, but is now a multi-billionaire (or multi-gazillionaire, depending on who you ask) who loves to dabble in computers and technology.   And a cast of many more that make the family of these books.

    Another aspect of these books is that they are set in the distant future, not too far to keep the stories on Earth, but far enough, that with the cool gadgets and some space travel to bring in the sci-fi fan.  In fact if a television series were ever made of this book series, I would place my bets on the Sci-Fi (SyFy) channel getting the rights.

    This story is a nice short story set in Lt. Eve Dallas’s world that provides a very interesting mystery with one of those sci-fi gadgets turning out to be the focus of the investigation.

    Lt. Dallas and her assistant Detective Delia Peabody are called in to one of the Staten Island Ferries (named “Hilary Rodham Clinton,” how’s that for futuristic?) because a woman is missing but what really brings the Homicide detectives to the ferry is that where the woman was last seen is a large amount of blood splatter, enough so that if it is from one source that person did not live.   The mystery is how did the killer remove the body from the ferry packed full of 3,000 plus tourists?

    When the missing tourist shows up, not only does the question of who does all that blood belong to, come up, but also a new threat.  That new threat is some sort of mind control/hypnosis device.  Dallas and her team set out to solve the mystery and catch a criminal that could be a threat to National Security.

    The reader, Susan Ericksen, is the reader for the entire series and does a excellent job voicing these books.  She is able to apply different voices to each character that not only separates who is talking but even adds deeper to the characters created by J.D. Robb, in fact at times you may think you are listening to a multi-cast performance.

    This series is definitely worth checking out, and this short story would be a great intro into the series, even though it occurs late in the series.

     
  • gilwilson 10:45 PM on February 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , brilliance audio, , fantasy in death, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Fantasy in Death (In Death Series) by J. D. Robb 

    Fantasy in Death (In Death Series)
    by J. D. Robb
    Read by Susan Ericksen
    Produced 2010 by Brilliance Audio
    approx 12 Hours

    I love a good mystery and I love sci-fi, when I first started reading these “…in Death” books by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) I knew I was gonna be hooked.  Here it is the 30th book in the series and I haven’t given up yet.  I will admit in the earlier books I was almost ready to stop reading this series because of the nearly softcore porn sections.  But Robb/Roberts has toned it down some and the skip feature on my iPod is ready for use, for this book I only had to skip ahead for about 10 minutes, in the earlier books I would have had to skip at least 30 minutes worth of the book to get back to the story.  Yeah, I know Roberts is a romance writer first, but the sex scenes just don’t fit in with these stories.  She writes great mysteries, and throws in enough sci-fi (the books are set around the years 2050 – 2060) to keep them fun.  Skipping over the sex scenes does not lose anything to do with the story.  If only she would cut them out completely, they are completely uncalled for and do not add to the story in any way.

    Okay, that being said let’s talk about this book.  This book should offer up a bit of fun for the cyber-geek, mystery fan and general sci-fi fan alike.  Like I said with the stories in this series set in the near future, Robb/Roberts adds just enough tech stuff to enhance the stories.  Here’s a small example, flying cars, offworld prisons, offworld resorts & casinos, wrist unit communications (video & audio), serious computer hacking, laser type stunners and blasters,  holodecks for gaming & fun and more.   This story dives head first into future gaming via VR  and holodecks.  Bart Minnock is one of the founders of U-Play, a gaming corporation, he and his 3 partners have created a fairly successful gaming company and they are on the verge of releasing the latest in greatest in gaming.  This new game will be the ultimate in gaming, allowing the user to create and control virtually every aspect of the game.  Bart gets home from work and goes into the holoroom to test out the latest version of the game in preparation for the game, “Fantastical,” release.  The next day he is found decapitated in his holo room and that’s where NYPSD homicide detective Lt. Eve Dallas comes in.  She fights for the dead.

    When Lt. Dallas and her team of detectives begin looking into the case they can find no reason why Minnock would be murdered, let alone decapitated.  He was a genius, likable and friendly.  His company was run by him and 3 other friends who all met in college and put together the gaming braintrust that is U-Play.  The partners all have equal parts in the biz.  The only thing Eve can figure out is that it is jealousy, but at first go round everyone has nothing but respect for Minnock.  As she digs deeper she realizes that one of the partners is the murderer, but how?  The security records and videos all show Bart was alone until his body was discovered by his girlfriend and servant droid the next day.

    So how does a murderer get into a secure building with extra security on the locked holoroom?  Dallas searches for the possible murder weapon, a sword that can send electrical jolts.  When this hits a dead end she then locks on to an idea that at first, seems to break the laws of physics.  When she begins looking harder at the remaining three partners in the company another is murdered.  This time Dallas has her suspect but the problem is to prove how the crime was committed.  Non-stop action, mystery and suspense.

    Robb/Roberts has had 30 books and numerous short stories to develop the characters in this series and from book one every single one of the characters are full of depth.  Each one has a history and life goals and Robb/Roberts brings these to each character creating full four dimensional characters that the reader/listener can fully relate to and actually want to know. From Lt. Dallas all the way down to McNabb the Electronics division detective they are all fully formed and a critical part of every story, including this one.

    The reader, Susan Ericksen, brings these characters to life by highlighting each characters depth with each one having their own voice.  Ericksen vocally manipulates each character’s voice to where these books sound as though they are a multi-cast performance.  Ericksen is supremely talented in voice work and she brings it all to the table when voicing this series.

     
  • gilwilson 2:04 PM on February 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , brilliance audio, , , , robert j. sawyer, , , www:watch,   

    “WWW:Watch” by Robert J. Sawyer 

    “WWW:Watch”
    by Robert J. Sawyer
    Multi-Voice Performance
    Produced by Brilliance Audio
    Approx. 12 Hours

    I think I may have listened to one of the most fun, nerdy, geeky, adventurous audiobooks I’ve ever heard.  The premise of the story is out there yet almost a reality, the characters are all believable and have depth and the pop culture references are timeless (yeah, I know, timeless pop culture?).

    First of all let me say the use of multiple voices was perfectly done.  This wasn’t an audio drama type of performance but rather the different voices read the different sections, the main characters each had a separate voice (Caitlin and WebMind) and one voice was reading when the government agencies were involved and another voice was reading when the section referring to the subplot was being read.  Each voice was perfectly cast and definitely keeps the listener enveloped by the story.

    Let’s talk about the story.  When looking for an audiobook to hear next, I was intrigued by the description of the story.  A girl is born blind and is enabled to see with a retinal implant which when first connected is also connected to the internet so the doctor/scientist that created the technology can monitor it from overseas, enables the girl to view webspace.  The ether in which the world wide web inhabits.  She sees the web as a series of circles (the websites) connected with multi-colored lines (links).  Upon further examination she discovers a presence in the background of the web, this presence turns out to be an artificial intelligence created by lost packets of information on the internet.

    Very intriguing description, so I gave it a shot.  I was not ready for the excellent book that came out of “WWW:Watch.”  This book is an adventurous journey through the internet that discusses the benefits of sentience and humanity.

    Caitlin Decter, born blind, receives a retinal implant that allows her to see.  The doctor responsible is from Japan and creates the ability for her to not only see the real world but accidentally see webspace.  Caitlin notices the presence in the background of the web and begins to explore.  The doctor keeps Caitlin connected to the internet through her eye via a connection through her iPod.  Caitlin soon discovers the presence is an accidentally created artificial intelligence which she dubs WebMind.  WebMind is actually helped into being when Caitlin begins trying to communicate with the being.  For a while WebMind and Caitlin maintain an online relationship as he learns about the world.  WebMind is only limited to text so all he knows is what he reads, and he’s read the entire internet.  WebMind asks Caitlin to get her doctor to try and make an algorithm that can enable him to view graphics and videos.  To do this Caitlin must first tell her parents of the entity, after all she’s only 16.  Her parents at first think WebMind is an online predator and when Caitlin’s father, a somewhat autistic former physics professor, now employed by the world’s largest think tank, forms a series of tests, he learns WebMind is what he says he is, an emergent A.I.

    Once this starts to happen the U.S. Government begins to discover the workings of the emergent A.I. and under command of the President begin to try to destroy WebMind before he can destroy the world.  It’s at this point when references to “Terminator,” “The Matrix” and other such movies start to arise.  Caitlin is even reading the George Orwell book “1984” and even notions of Big Brother begin to be discussed.

    Once WebMind is capable of viewing graphics and video he begins searching the internet for more information.  He comes across a young girl in Australia who is committing suicide via webcam.  Out of curiosity he watches.  When Caitlin learns he just watched and didn’t do anything to stop the girl, she begins to teach webmind morality.  WebMind can learn and know what is right and what is wrong but  that doesn’t seem to be enough.  Using gameplay theory the devise a plan in which WebMind will help humanity when it is a win/win for all involved.  WebMind wants to go public.  To do so Caitlin’s family devise a plan to help WebMind introduce himself to the world.

    WebMind destroys all spam e-mail.  This alone would have me sold, but that’s just me.  The government realizes that this is a perfect example of how WebMind can encroach upon privacy issues.  The government then decides to up their attacks on WebMind and try to end his existence.

    WebMind and Caitlin team up online in a battle to determine whether or not Caitlin’s Big Brother is tougher than the government’s Big Brother.  In an exciting adventure through cyberspace and beyond.  This audiobook should be on your “must read” list.

    One final note, there is a really interesting subplot in the book about a chimpanzee/bonobo hybrid that has been taught sign language and the trainers and a zoo are battling over who should have custody over the ape.  The ape must prove sentience and with the help of WebMind has an arsenal of intelligence that springs hope, and brings up some great references to the “Planet of the Apes” series of movies.

     
  • gilwilson 8:24 PM on December 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , brilliance audio, , , , , promises in death, , ,   

    “Promises in Death” by J.D. Robb 

    “Promises in Death”
    by J.D. Robb
    read by Susan Ericksen
    Produced by Brilliance Audio, 2009
    Approx. 12 hours

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited my favorite homicide detective from the near future, Lt. Eve Dallas, so I thought I’d give another book a listen.  I don’t think I could ever sit down with the actual hardcover (or paperback) version of this book because I’ve been spoiled by the outstanding vocal talents of Susan Ericksen.  Ms. Ericksen, has the ability to sound like a multi-cast performance all by herself.  Each character in this book has their own voice through her talent, and the voices not only sound different to help the listener to determine who is talking/thinking when, but also somehow she has been able to wrap up the entire being of each person in her voice for each character.  For example the main character Lt. Eve Dallas is a straight to the point detective that has no time for pop culture or things like how to throw a bridal shower, and the voice used is very stern and hard edge.  In fact the main thing bringing me back to these books is Susan Ericksen’s voice.  The stories are okay and the sci-fi gadgets are cool, but Susan Ericksen brings these books to life.

    Before I get to the summary of this book I first have to say that this is one of the better books in the series because of one aspect, sex.  Or rather, not as much as in previous books in the series.  This is book 28 in the  “…in Death” series from J.D. Robb.  As you may or may not know J.D. Robb is the pen name for Nora Roberts, a romance writer.  She went with the pen name to have a different sort of voice than her romance books.  The problem is that she still squeezes in steamy sex scenes in these books.  I don’t know why she does this, the books stand on their own merit and the sex scenes are blatantly gratuitious.  They actually almost ruin the books by turning a good, slightly sci-fi, detective novel into softcore porn.  with the audiobooks i can just fast forward or if reading I could flip the pages, but I shouldn’t have to.  The scenes are forced into the book with no redeeming value.  This book so far has the least of sex scenes than all the others.  Only one scene in this book.

    Okay that over, here’s the book.  Early morning NYPSD Lt. Eve Dallas is enjoying breakfast (or rather being forced to eat since she usually is too busy to eat) with her husband Roarke, the multi-billionaire former thug.    She’s called in to investigate a dead body,her and her assistant, Detective Delia Peabody discover that the woman is a fellow officer, Detective Amaryllis Coltraine, who worked out of another precinct. To add to the emotion of the case, Coltraine was the lover of Li Morris, the Chief Medical Examiner and a good friend of Eve and Peabody. Coltraine was shot with her own police stunner; it also appears that she may have known her killer.

    At first Eve thinks the kill may have been ordered by Amaryllis’ former lover from Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a man that Dallas and Roarke had put in a cage for murder some months before. The suspect’s reactions, however, as well as Roarke’s impressions from a private discussion they have, tend to steer the blame away from him. Eve is beginning to sense that the killer may have been one of the detectives Coltraine worked with at her precinct, receiving orders from the man imprisoned off-planet.  As Eve gets closer to finding who and why she realizes she has other parts of her life to deal with.

    Eve has to perform a duty of friendship she has never tackled before: hosting a wedding shower for Louise Dimatto, who is marrying former “licensed companion” Charles Monroe. The shower goes on in Eve’s home during the investigation; not only do we see Eve coping with a fresh aspect of life she has never had an opportunity to experience due to her dark violent childhood, but one of the guests helps put the finger on the murderer.  That is one of the things about these books that also keeps me coming back; the characters.  Robb/Roberts does a great job at building a myriad of characters that weave in and out of Eve’s life and all seem to be able to help in some form, whether in personal life or on a case.

    I say give these books a chance, they do have some redeeming values.  That and they are pretty fun sci-fi / detective novels.

     
  • gilwilson 2:42 PM on October 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brilliance audio, dr. watson, , , john joseph adams, neil gaimen, , , , , , the improbable adventures of sherlock holmes   

    “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” edited by John Joseph Adams 

    “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”
    edited by John Joseph Adams
    Performed by Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik
    produced by Brilliance Audio
    Approx 21.5 hours

    If you are a constant reader of my postings, you may be wondering what I’m doing listening to a Sherlock Holmes audio book.  I know, it sounds weird and most of my readings are in the Sci-fi, Horror and Fantasy realms, but once in a while I dive into the classics, but this time I’m not straying away from my favorite genres.  This collection of short stories takes the world’s most famous “Consulting Detective” into some very interesting adventures.

    The defining quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote for Holmes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,” is what guides this collection.  This collection explores the improbable and bends the limits on improbability.  There are 28 stories in this collection written by authors whose specialties range throughout the sci-fi, horror and fantasy realms.  Just a few of the authors are; Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Laurie R. King, Anthony Burgess, Stephen Baxter.

    Some of the stories in this collection are rewrites of original Holmes adventures, such as “A Study in Emerald” by Neil Gaiman.  Gaiman takes the introductory story to Holmes’ adventures , “A Study in Scarlet,” and places Holmes and Watson in an alternate universe in which Lovecraftian creatures have invaded the Earth and rule the contintents.  In the original story Scarlet referred to the color of the blood of the murder victim, in this story Emerald refers to the alien’s greenish blood color.   I found this story to be the most fun, in that having known the original story, how the aliens created a strange turn to the clues Holmes had to decipher.

    In the other stories you have Holmes traveling through time, meeting with the authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, explaining his 3 years of missing time when Watson believed him to be dead at the hands of Professor Moriarty.

    Whether you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or a fan of the strange genres of fiction you will have fun when listening to this collection.  There is a bit of something for everyone here.  Even some normal Holmes Adventures that just don’t seem to be solvable by Holmes.

    The readers, Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik swap the reading depending on whether the story is told from a woman’s point of view or a man’s.  Anne Flosnik reads the stories using various accents and emotions perfectly.  The gem in this audio book, in my opinion, is Simon Vance, throughout the book Vance captures the characters of Holmes and Watson flawlessly.  No matter where the adventure takes them he is consistent with their vocal qualities and that keeps the listener tuned in to the adventure.  I know there were several times I couldn’t stop listening until Holmes solved the crime.

     
  • gilwilson 10:44 PM on October 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alex flinn, , , beastly, beauty and the beast, , brilliance audio, , , modern,   

    “Beastly” by Alex Flinn 

    “Beastly”
    by Alex Flinn
    read by Chris Patton
    Produced by Brilliance Audio, 2010

    So I’m out looking for something different to hear as an audiobook, and I look through the young adult section of listings and run across this book, “Beastly.”  With young adult fiction it can be hit or miss, you can count big hits in the Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket series of books but when I tried the “Twilight” series I was let down.  This book looked like a promising telling of a classic story.  The premise of the book is based on the traditional fairytale “The Beauty and the Beast.”  The author researched various versions of the fairytale, and even makes some reference to them throughout the book.

    This is by no means the Disneyfied version, so if you are looking for that type of fun, musical story with a happy ending, it’s not this one.  This version of the story, while encapsulating the full meaning and feel of the classic, brings the story to modern times with some nice teen angst, cliques and materialistic views of life.

    In this book Kyle Kingsbury, the rich, handsome son of Rob Kingsbury, a famous news anchor, has lived all his life thinking that looks and money are all you need in life.  He seems to be living proof of that, he dates the hottest girls and is the most popular guy in school.  But when Kyle asks a not so good looking new student, Kendra, to the prom as a practical joke, Kendra, transforms Kyle into an ugly man who then turns into a beast.  It turns out Kendra is really a beautiful witch.

    Kyle’s father is ashamed of his son’s appearance and locks him in a large apartment in downtown New York so no one will see him. Kyle’s only company is his housekeeper, and, later, a blind tutor named Will and his dog. Kyle changes his name to “Adrian”, which means “dark one”. His only happiness comes from the rose garden he plants and maintains in his small backyard, encouraged by Will. Adrian has two years to break the witch’s spell by falling in love and being loved sincerely despite physical appearances.

    The Beauty in this story comes in the form of Lindy.  Lindy is a poor girl who attends Kyle’s school by scholarships.  Her only hope to get away from her poverty stricken life, taking care of her drug abusing father is to maintain her grades.  In being the bookworm sort she has gone through the school unnoticed.  She does have a crush on Kyle, and at the same prom where Kyle is turned into the beaste, Kyle gives her a white rose, only because his girlfriend wanted an orchid and wouldn’t wear a “cheap rose.”  This event is big to Lindy, but Kyle sees it as insignificant.

    A man breaks into Kyle’s/Adrian’s rose garden and when the Beast confronts him the man pleads for his life and offers his daughter to the beast to avoid the police.  Kyle learns this is Lindy’s father and finds this could be his last chance to find true love and break the curse.  Kyle takes Lindy in and he must discover the secrets to true love and find his way to her heart.

    I will warn you once again this is not a Disney version and the Happy Ending is relative.  The reader, Chris Patton delivers the story with perfect intonation of all emotions and character quirks that at times I almost thought I was listening to a multi-cast performance.

    The interesting thing I discovered is that this book has been turned into a movie, that will be released in 2011.

     

     
  • gilwilson 6:25 PM on August 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , brilliance audio, constitution, , national security, , , , ,   

    “Directive 51” By John Barnes 

    Podcast (to listen to review click here)


    “Directive 51”
    By John Barnes
    Read by Susan Ericksen
    Produced by Brilliance Audio
    approx 21.5 hours

    All you cyber junkies, technophiles and just anyone enjoying today’s modern comforts, enjoy them while you can, because if John Barnes new novel “Directive 51” is a glimpse into our future we could easily find ourselves flung back to times where technology doesn’t exist. “Directive 51” takes a look at an America where terrorists, both foreign and domestic all attack at once and not only are the creature comforts threatened but so is the Constitution of the United States of America.

    The year is 2024 and many factions are tired of America’s slothfulness and reliance upon technology. This time they all band together in a movement called Daybreak and bring not only America but the world to its knees. Think about this in today’s political world, there are many factions of those that want things to change in America. You’ve got the potentially violent militias, KKK, and other political factions such as; the tea party movement, Greenpeace, PETA, and many more. Now picture that on one day all these groups got together and since the big picture was to bring down the government and big business they all “attack” in their own way, all at the same time. Throw into this mix a Muslim terrorist group that has secretly infiltrated this domestic movement, all at once and our government would be scrambling, not knowing which side the enemy was hitting from. Being slightly set in the future John Barnes has created some nasty domestic weapons that these Daybreakers use. Weapons such as nanoswarm, which are tiny microscopic robots that attack electronics using the parts to reproduce the swarm and get carried along in the wind destroying cars, computers, mp3 players and anything electronic. Next we throw in a bio weapon that destroys plastics and other man made compounds reducing them to a smelly pile of mush. That would definitely put a hurt on today’s society.

    In “Directive 51” this happens along with the kidnapping of the vice president. As the plane is hunted by the military, the nanoswarm and plastic eating biotes are wreaking havoc on the system. The V.P.’s plane is found flying back in to the U.S. through the Baja Peninsula in Mexico and just as the plane is being tracked Daybreak strikes again taking out the radar systems on the west coast. The plane is loaded with a super powerful nuclear fusion bomb and headed to the final game of the World Series in Anaheim, California. Before the plane reaches it’s destination it is shot down over the California desert, killing the V.P. (if he weren’t already dead.) This devastates the President who was lifelong best friends with his V.P. and the President loses his mental faculties and resigns. This is where the governmental structure of America begins to deteriorate much like the plastics.

    In searching for the next successor the turmoil begins. The actual next successor is not a natural born citizen so, according to the Constitution cannot hold the office, the next in line is a senator that has been around since the 1970s and is a cantankerous liberal Democrat. He immediately begins promising jobs soon and not listening to the reports of food riots, violence and the deteriorating infrastructure in America, instead he rides around in a limousine and makes promises. Thanks to technology getting destroyed by Daybreak, the only form of mass communication is a newspaper set up by a woman that remembers the days of newspapers, but when she begins supporting the Republican candidate in her paper (yes it is also and election year) the acting president sends his newly formed special group of guards to arrest her and cease the operations of the newspaper.

    This book goes on with many more turnovers in the government while at the same time Americans are having to struggle and reform without the use of any technology. Just when you think the book is about to come to a peaceful “happy” ending, the author throws another wrench into the works. Such as 5 strategically placed fusion bombs which destroy Washington D.C. and the new government, and Chicago, Jerusalem, Shanghai, China and most of Europe.

    This book takes what is best about the U.S. Government and people and puts them to the test, showing that the culture can survive but it is not easy. Even through a possible civil war it is the Constitution that keeps America alive. John Barnes shows this extremely well in what can be called a thinking man’s sci-fi novel.

    The reader, Susan Ericksen, has a tough job in reading this one, but she pulls it off beautifully. I’ve listened to other audiobooks read by Ericksen and have always been amazed by her ability to create many different characters with her voice and in this book she carries on with that same talent. Each character is given their own vocal qualities and not only does it make it easy to discern who is talking or thinking but also Ericksen makes the vocal qualities match the personality.

    This novel will have you entertained, enlightened and constantly thinking about society and politics. Great combination of social commentary, political debate and sci-fi are worked into “Directive 51.”

     
  • gilwilson 4:29 AM on July 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , betrayal in death, brilliance audio, , eternity in death, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Eternity In Death” (novella) book 29 of “…In Death” series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) 

    “Eternity In Death” (novella)
    book 29 of “…In Death” series
    by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)
    read by Susan Ericksen
    Produced by Brilliance Audio
    approx. 3.5 hours

    Okay, I’ve been reading a huge batch of vampire, zombie and werewolf novels and thought I’d go back to listening to one of my favorite futuristic detective novels.  Once again I visit the “…In Death” series by J.D. Robb and the thrilling world of Lt. Eve Dallas of the NYPSD as she solves another series of murders.   Well guess what?  This book, which I just picked out of the blue as one in the series I haven’t read yet, has vampires.  Either that is synchronicity at work or just luck, either way this book was great to hear.

    To sum up Lt. Eve Dallas has escaped a childhood of torture only to become the best homicide detective on the New York Police and Securities Department in the mid 21st century.  She is assisted by a wonderful cast of characters including her husband, Roarke, an Irish immigrant that now seems to own half the world and even a few planets and satellites,  that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.   Other fun characters are here detective assistant Delia Peabody, Peabody’s main squeeze Electronics Division Detective McNabb, the Chief of Electronics division, Feeney (her former partner in homicide) and Psychologist/Profiler Dr. Mira.  The setting of these books is just far enough into the future to have some really cool sci-fi toys to work with or contend with, yet close enough where real detective work is still done.

    The entire series is read by Susan Ericksen, who does a smashup job of capturing each and every character vocally.  Sometimes I wonder if Ms. Ericksen doesn’t suffer from some sort of personality disorder with all the voices that come out of her.   Each character is distinct and acted vocally to perfection.

    This book opens with a young, famous-for-being-famous, socialite anticipating the visit of a dark stranger that has promised she will keep her 23 year old youthful appearance, but first she has to die.

    The next morning the socialite’s body is discovered drained of blood and two punctures on the neck.  Lt. Eve Dallas is called to the scene where the adventure into the darker side of New York City begins.   Dallas, in no way believes in vampires, but her assistant, Peabody, does get the creeps on this one and starts wearing a cross.

    The clues lead to a vampire themed club in New York’s seedy underground.  In Eve Dallas’s time New York’s Underground is a place where even the police have no jurisdiction.  A club called “Bloodbath” is where the socialite recently frequented and the owner of the club seems to have some strange powers.   Eve must pull in all her resources to ignore the supernatural beliefs trying to sneak into her thoughts and bring down a murderer masquerading as a vampire.

    Once again J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) creates an exciting detective thriller that you can’t stop until the last word is spoken.  Once again I will point out the single downfall of the entire series and that is the explicit sex scenes.  I realize that J.D. Robb is a pseudonym for Nora Roberts, and Nora Roberts is a romance writer, but come on, enough is enough.  The scenes are totally unnecessary.  The story moves great without them and they add nothing to the story, plot or characters.  The good side of this novella is that it is short and only one of these scenes is in the book.  In audio format I just fast forward and lose nothing in the missed scene.

     
  • gilwilson 4:35 AM on July 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , brilliance audio, , , , , steve hockensmith,   

    “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” by Steve Hockensmith 

    “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls”
    by Steve Hockensmith
    read by Katherine Kellgren
    produced by Brilliance Audio
    approx 9 hours

    So you’ve read “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, what next?   I highly suggest following up with this novel, the prequel.  The zombie smashing mashup that mixed the undead with Victorian primness was hilarious and yet a bit educational.  Sure you were reading about zombies, but by golly, Jane Austen’s classic was still in there so you got some culture.  This time around, though, there is no classic literature involved.   I will give you a heads up in that this book still captures some of that same mood and writing involved in Jane Austen’s style.  This time around there is a lot more humor.  I know, humor and zombies, what is he talking about?  Trust me, there are many laugh out loud moments.

    Let me first give the proper praises to the reader, Katherine Kellgren.   She read/performed this book with the same Victorian delivery, trying to keep the culture in the story telling, but when it came to zombie howls and moans and the Bennet sisters’ battle cry, she delivered with uncanny realism.  So while listening you feel high-brow until the carnage begins and the battles roar.

    Basically in the first book we learned that England has been over run by zombies, or rather the “unmentionables,” because no proper English person would ever speak the “Z” word.  The Bennett sisters have been trained, like their father, in the “Deadly Arts.”  They were trained int the fashion of Shaolin monks, with skills in the martial arts, katanas, nun-chuks, and throwing stars, in order to defeat the undead scourge sweeping the country.   In this prequel we learn not only the hows but the whys of their training and of their prejudices in finding suitable men to marry.

    As the book opens the Bennett family is attending the funeral of a friend.  All is quiet and solemn until the deceased rises from his coffin and begins to moan.  Mr. Bennett, having fought the undead in the previous war, knows what is happening and more importantly knows what must be done.  Ushering everyone, except his two oldest daughters out of the church, Mr. Bennett then begins the process of separating the unmentionable from his head.  However he has his daughters do the dirty work so they can begin to be trained in what must be done because the zombies have returned.

    Returning home from the funeral and beheading of the zombie, Mr. Bennett reclaims his Dojo (Mrs. Bennett has turned it into a gardening shed, hanging tools from the various swords and arsenal), and begins the Bennett girls’ training in the Deadly Arts.  At this time he also alerts the nearest officials that the zombies are back, and sends word back to his master that he needs someone to train his daughters.

    This book is full of fun and zombie smashing once the troops arrive.  The troops are all very young boys led by a recently promoted captain who has no arms or legs.  To make up for the lack of appendages he is wheeled around by some soldiers referred to as “Limbs.”  When he needs to shake someone’s hand he orders, “Right Limb, shake that man’s hand.”  This creates many comical moments.  It also seems that the Captain and Mrs. Bennett have a history that works in some more fun.  The troops are accompanied by a mad scientist.  This mad scientist is out to catch a zombie and try to turn him  back into a proper Englishman.

    The Bennett sisters begin their training once the Master arrives from the Far East, and during their training sessions there is more hilarity, especially having to deal with the different personalities of the sisters.

    The book leads up to Elizabeth Bennett’s coming out ball and a zombie invasion in which they all seem to be doomed.   But knowing that this is a PREQUEL, you know the important characters survive, but you will be on the edge of your seat while listening to this supremely funny horror classic.  I would have to say that this book is more fun than the first book but keep in mind the first one was a mashup in which Jane Austen’s writing was the basis.

     
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