Audiobooks Unleashed Library

Ryan Pascall
Realmbound: Sword of the Void (Volume 2) “Following on from the first book in this series, which I was a little disappointed by due to the surprisingly immature content, I had hoped that this one would take an more dark and grown up turn. While this wasn't the case, there was certainly more here to get my teeth into. Please note that there are some spoilers below. With the introduction of several more key characters and, equally, more villains there was definitely a much improved sense of scale and threat to the proceedings. I really enjoyed the arrival of Vivian and the dynamic this caused between Rian and Carina. Shortly after her arrival, the battle against the Terrareaper was one of the best scenes in either book and conjured images or many a great anime or comic book. With Vivian's arrival, along with her desire to protect herself, Carina chose to leave the group and this was very a bold move but I do feel her departure was handled with an apparent of importance and almost felt brushed over. This did lead to a very interesting and enjoyable side-story though surrounding Corina's tutelage in Bolivar and the eventual attack by a long thought dead friend. How the stories then reunite during the siege and Carina gets to prove her martial and magical capability was brilliant and her battle against her rival was really enjoyable and thrilling. To summarise, there is a lot happening here and a lot more character growth than the original book. Equally, while not a dark moody book, it does feel like the author has embraced the YA style and this story was all the better for it, meaning I am certainly eager for the next story. Of course, all this would be naught had Sean Duregger not given the story such passion, infusing every battle with tempo and excitement and every character a sense of ID that a lesser narrator may have missed. In closing, as a YA book this tale really works. Characters are deeper and more interesting, the battles are far more complex, written with much more visual flair and the overarching story is exhilarating. My only real complaint is the link to the real Earth Realm is pretty much gone, with only the rarest mentions of anything that link us to Rian's world and this, I feel, is a real shame.”
Realmbound: Sword of the Scion “I feel a little misled. Not in a bad, Donald Trump-y way but by the dark, foreboding synopsis blurb on this book. All this talk of dragons ruling the skies of a post-apocalyptic world where mankind fights for it's very survival and I expected some kind of dark tale of death, misery and hopelessness like Reign of Fire. Instead I got a very light tale with enemies who acted like bad-guys from 80s kids cartoons and fight scenes lacking any real sense of grit. This isn't to say it's a bad book, far from it. The characters are interesting and there's a good amount of growth for all of them pretty much right off the bat. Also the world itself is well put together but I did feel that more emphasis needed to be put on the dereliction of our own world as I did, at times, almost feel this was a High Fantasy setting. Narration-wise the characters were all voiced extremely well and Rian's character carried a great sense of pressure throughout the book. A very worthy attempt was also made for female characters and the evil characters voiced with sufficient venom as to make them feel more dangerous than maybe the writing itself portrayed. In all I did enjoy the book a lot. I've moved straight onto the sequel to see how these characters proceed as this has left genuinely interested but I do hope there's more maturity in the next one.”
Hunter “As someone who loves books set in snowy plains and books about unknown monsters, this was right up my street. The inclusion of soldiers hunting said monster was a bonus, after all, who doesn't like Predator? Unfortunately, while one-dimensional characters work well in a 90-minute movie, they're hard to get excited about in a 19 hour book and this is one of the major failings of this book Everyone is a total caricature, from the main hero (the A-typical Alpha Male called Hunter who lives off the land, is unshakeable in danger, unbeatable in combat, has giant wolf called Ghost but also cares about kids) to the evil corporate-types. In addition to this there is a problem with the the description of an early squad leader that the protagonist works with. Now this man is a soldier of Japanese descent and so I would expect him to be referred to as The Captain or Captain Takakora but instead he's referred you repeatedly as "The Japanese" which is, in all honesty, borderline racist. Now I have been very negative but the description of survival techniques was incredibly interesting including such things as edible plants and trees, the calories available through certain grubs and a very startling way of catching Tigers. Also, while the characters are very cliched and lack any growth, the story does progress well as more characters are introduced, particularly the evil corporate guy, and the story became more interesting. What started as a simple run and gun through snowy plains soon became a battle of wits between Hunter and the creature but also more 'terrestrial' dangers. Thanks to this the latter half of the book did pick up somewhat and, while I was still lacking any love for the cast, I was beginning to root for the good guys towards the end. As an audiobook, I felt the narrator pretty reliable as far a reading goes. There was a lack of vocal range and they always pronounced the word Human (a word that must be said 100 times in the book) as Uman but overall they did a good job with a rather flat story. I'd like to experience more of their work as I feel, given the right book, they'd be a brilliant narrator. The question of whether I can recommend this book really depends on whether you like this sort of tale If you grew up loving films like predator and other such mindless action movies, then I guess this might well be right up your street. I managed to listen all the way through nearly 20 hours and there are only a few parts where it really dragged but I came away having been mildly entertained and certainly not hating the book by any means. My only complaints remains primarily the cliched style of character and the tasteless use of the term "The Japanese" and so it's an average score for me.”
White Sheep of the Family “With a subtitle announcing books being "A Legend of.." book, I always expect that each book will be a different tale set in the same world/land as its predecessor. I was therefore pleased to find that this sequel pretty much carries on from where Thorns of the Night Blossom ended. Much like that book, the action (while brilliantly written and mind-boggling in execution) is secondary to the mystery and thrills of the court here and, with the addition of several new characters, the story feels all the more broad for it. Speaking of characters, Tien is brilliant. equal-part Shelock'ian genius and idiotic adolescent I found myself facepalming on several occasions but never to the detriment of the tale. Once again each character and story point is brought to life wonderfully by Natalie Naudus and, while in the first I found it hard to catch character names from her, this time her pronouncing speed seemed spot on. Another really good tale, better than the first in my opinion and so it is on to book Three.”
Thorn of the Night Blossoms (Book 1) “I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was dubious at first as books like this can often offer a poor portrayal of women but this wasn't the case at all here and the characters were all well conceived and treated with a good degree of respect. As a tale of political intrigue, revenge and assassination the story could well have been bogged down with huge swathes of exposition but this was avoided and only that which was necessary was given to avoid overloading the reader. As for the action, I really enjoyed how Jie attacked crucial parts of an enemy to disarm, disable and weaken her foes and it made the scenes very enjoyable and visceral without feeling like it was trying to be gory for the sake of ticking a box. My only quibble is how the narrator, while excellent, often stated the names of characters very fast and, where they had more than one name, it was easy to confuse one with another. This aside, I did really enjoy this story and look forward to reading the next ones.”
Fantasy Swap Online, Book 1 “Ok, let's deal with the elephant in the room first. Yes, this is a sexually explicit LitRPG. As a rule, while I love LitRPGs, I don't like harem/sexually explicit types but, having chosen to rely this one, I will review based on the book itself and not my own personal opinions of this type of novel. Story-wise, it's pretty simply and tight with a character trapped in the virtual body of a female courtesan after years as a half-giant barbarian and basically having to learn their new abilities and seek a way to reverse what's happened. Comedy is there and is usually cheeky, almost Carry On style and there are several sex-scenes but, while explicit, it doesn't feel dirty or over the top which is impressive. Narration throughout was really good with amusing squeaky girl moments and I particularly liked the voice for the big-bad. While my heart says I should dislike the book I honestly can't say I do. The humour was good, the story lacks unnecessary padding and it manages to fit loads of XXX sex without feeling smutty and as such I will be trying the sequel also to see how our mister-miss proceeds.”
Hawk: Hand of the Machine “In a universe under attack by The Enemy, The Machine appeared and gifted us its Hands who, as supreme warriors and masters of their craft, turned the tide and became the police of the universe. But this was millenia ago and the machine is quiet, its hands gone and something evil is stirring in the dark of space... This book made me feel like a kid again. Not because it was silly, childish or humorous but because it really reminded me of Battle of the Planets. With characters named such things as Falcon, Hawk and Eagle it was hard not to draw a comparison but this wasn't to the detriment at all and the existence of a peace-keeping force was cool. Story wise I felt it could've done with another hour or two as the sheer amount of world-building through exposition caused it to drag somewhat in the middle but there was enough excitement and danger to keep the story rolling along to a great conclusion which paves the way for (hopefully) more tales of The Hands. As for narration, this has the broadest spectrum of voices I've yet seen from Sean and whether a female assassin, a machine or a tough-as-nails cyborg he rises to the challenge and gave them all a distinctive voice and style that helped to bring them alive. A jolly good romp and well worth a few hours of your time :)”
The Brain Eaters “This was a strange book for me because of 2 reasons. First, a probably foremost, is that I am listening to a story about what appears to be a killer flu and I'm sure the power of this fact isn't lost on anyone. The second point is that I rarely read all the blurb on books, as often they give more away than I'd like, and so I came into this story expecting something totally different than what I got and for that I am thankful (as I had expected a hokey zombie novel). As for the story itself, I really enjoyed it! I felt at times that this story would work excellently as a 50s sci-fi novel such as The Magnetic Monster as it carried a charmingly innocent feel of that era coupled with some truly horrific and tragic acts of violence.This isn't to say the book is some gore-fest, far from it. I found the whole story very clinical and straight which added to that timeless feel and yet it wasn't until the 'credits' at the end that I realised the book was written 35 years ago! The narration meanwhile was exactly what I would expect from Sean Duregger as the man has the excellent ability to give a real sense of identity to each character and make them recognisable from scene to scene. Equally, while in some other narrations he has felt very relaxed and flippant, here there was a real sense of drama and gravitas that really worked to drive home the tragedy that was unfolding. All in all we have a great story that, while quite limited in scope, has a real sense of threat but I would recommend against listing to it during our current Corvid-19 pandemic as it doesn't help to alleviate any worries.”
Eight-Bit Bastards: A Gamelit LitRPG retro gaming adventure “As someone who grew up at the advent of home videogames, this book worked really well for me. As a lover of retro, 8-bit is my thing (not this silly pixel-art fad occurring in games today) and the idea of a group of MMORPG gamers entering an 8-bit world is my dream and the narrator was suitable exciting and animated to fit the classic game style perfectly. With a pretty interesting cast and a great sense of urgency due to the toil the 8-bit world took on the players, the book was a real page-turner but I do have to say that quite often the book seemed to forget it was 8-bit and described things in a far more real-world way which was quite jarring. With a solid, yet strangely unsatisfying ending I am looking forward to the next but the author needs to find some new tricks to pull to prevent the series becoming a one-trick-pony.”
Truck Stop “To start, I would say that the synopsis of the book needs to be trimmed, it simply gives too much away. I'd forgotten the full write-up and so parts of the tale were a real surprise to me and, re-reading the synopsis I think a lot of people are really missing out on this discovery. As a father this book really tapped into my deepest fear, the same one all parents have when they turn around and their child is gone. Luckily this is only a brief fear for most of us but the panic that sets in is something no non-parent can truly understand and I felt that this book really did a good job, initially, in tapping into this. I say initially as I did feel that the story didn't do enough to explain the protagonists sudden easing of panic but I can forgive this as a minor niggle considering the insanity that ensures as what we have is a really good who-dunnit with a whole slew of twists right up until the end. As a horror tale that latches onto my own primal fear the book did an excellent job but I admit that there were just a few too many unanswered questions at the end that prevent it being the absolute classic status the ending deserves.”
How Not to Be a Scribe “What A Fantastic Story. It always amazes me how an author can, with just a few words, create. Be it creating an image of a person, a sense of emotion or an entire world, the power of words never ceases to amaze me, My reason for this opening statement is I am astounded that in just 4 short hours Zack Brooks has created a living, breathing world, an incredibly likeable character and made me equal parts saddened by his plight and excited for his tale. This is a strangely emotive story that touches on such subjects as racism, loss and guilt and I grew in just a few short hours to really care Roland and I was really cheering for him through all the difficult situations he finds himself in and Sean Duregger's excellent narration really brought the little man to life. I admit that when it ended I was sad to see his tale end so suddenly and I can only hope that, one day, I'll get to experience more of Roland's exploits in Amaford and maybe, just maybe, visit Berstead.”
Gods Of The Dark Web “A Stunningly dark story. I love horror, always have since I read The Rats by James Herbert when I was 9 and have devoured millions of stories since. Unfortunately I have noticed a steady decline in the savagery and horror in tales in the last 20 years and they seem more and more sedate in the handling of horror. Maybe it's down to the popularity of authors such as Stephen King who excel at character pieces but lack the true bite that I grew up with and crave. Due to this I expected further disappointment from this tale as, while the synopsis was really interesting, I figured it'd be another wet fish of a tale... How wrong was I. A tremendously dark tale of true body horror with a side-salad of Lovecraft all mashed together with the threats posed by our secondary existence in the internet. Beautifully descriptive in all it's bare-nerve horror and fantastically narrated by Sean Duregger this tale drew me in and held me by the throat through the entire single-sitting listen I did and boy was it a fun ride. Horror's back baby and Lucas Mangum's at the top with the greats!”
Into The Shadow Of Dark “While very short, this introductory tale fits in a surprising amount of story and the setting, a single location helps to direct the tale and allow the author to concentrate on the players themselves. While no real history is provided for the cast, you quickly get the feeling that Mr Darkk is a well-traveled and learned sorcerer. The presence of Miss Shadow works really well as she helps to ask the questions we have to avoid more literary chaff. I've given the narrator a 4/5 not due to any perceived failings but purely down to the lack of range shown in the tale but I do put some onus on the narrowness of the story for preventing them really stretching their verbal muscles but there really is nothing wrong with their work and they did an excellent job with what they had to work with. Again this is a very short, tight tale but has easily achieved its aim, that being to convince me that I need to follow up with more of the writers works.”
How Not to Be a Rogue “As someone who tends to gravitate towards huge, epic tales that last 20+ hours, I was dubious about a short, compact story such as this but the cover really drew me in. What we have here though is a tightly written story which doesn't waste a word with pointless wandering and everything, from the way things look to the conversations characters have, add colour and life to the world the author has created. Within 10 minutes the fantastic narration of Sean Duregger had me wrapped up in this grimy world and colourful characters who's dirty clothes are only slightly overshadowed by their mouths but quickly I saw past the rough exteriors and found a group of very likeable and caring characters. The story also is straightforward and doesn't miss a beat in drawing you in, making you care about the main characters and then, when you think everything is ok, kick you right in the feels. It is also rare that a book can bring a physical reaction out of me hut the final few lines of the book did make me laugh audibly on a bus full of people.. All in all, for one of my first forays into a shorter 'novella'  this was a real success and I am looking forward to experiencing more works of both Zack Brooks and Sean Duregger.”