Category Archives: Macmillan Audio

Frightful Friday: Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry:

  • Listening Length: 16 hours and 3 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (March 25, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: This is a review of the sixth book in a series. Please proceed with caution if you have not read/listened to the previous books in this series*

 

Joe Ledger and the other members of the Echo Unit of the Department of Military Science (DMS) have had their share of interesting experiences. From battling the zombie plague to designer viruses, they’ve seen it all. Any remnants of these weapons have been stored in a remote and isolated location known as the Locker. Until now…

After other units of the DMS are decimated in attacks, the DMS is spread thin. Weapons they thought destroyed or locked up are appearing in public locations. Their new nemesis, Mother Night, has managed to break into the DMS’ impenetrable super computer system, Mindreader, gaining access to knowledge that shouldn’t be made available to the public. Even worse, she broadcasts a video of a rescue mission in which a team went in to put an end to a plague of zombies. The same plague the DMS thought they conquered and destroyed. Before doing so,  she dubbed over the sound to make it appear as though the individuals being shot upon are citizens begging for their lives.

This isn’t the first time the DMS has been under fire. The timing, however, couldn’t be worse. The must put an end to Mother Night and her league of rogue “soldiers” before she can unleash something more dark and devastating than before. In doing so, they realize that the individual responsible for their actions isn’t a stranger to the DMS. Her identity shatters the tough exterior of the DMS. Rather than weakening them, however, it makes them stronger, more dedicated and determined to put a stop to Mother Night.

Told in a series of flashbacks to the time Joe Ledger originally joined DMS, Maberry takes readers (or in my case, listeners) on a path through the history of the DMS and Ledger’s existing unit.

Maberry’s Joe Ledger series is one I rush to listen to as soon as it is released. Not only are they truly outstanding novels filled to the brim with action and less than natural enemies, but they contain truly outstanding characters that have grown tremendously since the culmination of the series. Joe Ledger, on the surface, is a mean, brusque, no-nonsense kind of guy.  Yet in the past several novels, Maberry has slowly unveiled a softer, more vulnerable side of Joe.  To me, this has created a more dynamic, more genuine character in Joe Ledger.

Fans of Maberry’s writing will appreciate the return of characters from the past (as well as one from another series). I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning and have to say, without a doubt, this is the best one yet.

As with the other titles in this series, I listened to the audiobook production of this title. I don’t see myself ever “reading” them.  That’s not to say that the writing doesn’t stand on its own, it genuinely does. Yet Ray Porter’s narration has captivated me. To me, he is the voice of Joe Ledger and the other cast of characters. He completes the package for me, his narration capturing the essence of Joe and the rest of the cast of characters.  I won’t say I wouldn’t enjoy reading the titles, it would just feel different, not complete. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend going with the audio.  Some of the best out there!

I know this goes without saying, but this, and other Ledger novels, come highly, highly recommended.

Other titles in the Joe Ledger series (in order):

Patient Zero
The Dragon Factory
The King of Plagues
Assassin’s Code
Extinction Machine

 

Frightful Friday: Runner by Patrick Lee

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Runner by Patrick Lee:

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (February 18, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

Sam Dryden is taking a nightly run when he runs into a young girl. The look of terror on her eyes instantly has his undivided attention. When it becomes obvious that the men chasing after her have deadly intentions, Dryden uses his skills as a retired special forces operative to help her evade capture.  After her attackers flee, Dryden learns that this eleven-year-old girl, Rachel, was held captive in a secret prison. She remembers only the last two months of her life, nothing of her existence outside the prison.

Dryden lost his wife and daughter in an accident five years ago. Seeing the genuine terror and fear in Rachel’s eyes, he vows to help her get answers.  Little does he realize how much his experience in a black-ops will help them in their attempt to elude her captures.

What they learn in the next few days is life altering, for both Dryden and Rachel.  It’s quite possible that the memories Rachel is desperately trying to recover are of a danger so unimaginable that millions of lives are at stake.

I’m intentionally being quite vague in my summary of this title for it is best to be experienced first hand, without any preconceived notions of what may transpire. The best way to put it would be a combination of the thrill of a Jack Reacher novel meeting the science-fiction-esque aspect of a Joe Ledger novel. What results is a novel jam-packed with a unique thrill and intensity.  Each time I paused in my listen of this audiobook, my heart would be pounding.  I made every excuse I could to listen to more, including taking the longer route home or sitting in front of my  house listening to just a few minutes more.

Raul Esparza’s narration of this book just added to the intensity. His tone captured the feel of the moment so expertly, demanding the listener’s undivided attention.

Runner is truly one of the best thrillers I have listened to in some time. I’m new to his work and it is now a personal mission of mine to read it all. I’m ecstatic to see that this is the first in a new series. Dryden’s character is the best of both worlds: a character that is both sensitive and flawed but also intense and unrelenting. I honestly cannot wait for more. Highly, highly recommended!

 

Thank you to Bob at The Guilded Earlobe for the recommendation. Once again, my zombie-loving friend, you are spot on!

Frightful Friday: Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

The featured title this week is audiobook production of Jonathan Maberry’s Extinction Machine:

  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 58 minutes
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Release Date: March 26, 2013
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: this book is the fifth in a series. Reading this review, I assume you have read/listened to the other books in the series*

When the President of the United States disappears from the White House, the only evidence left behind includes a crop circle on the front lawn, the Department of Military Science (DMS) is called upon to investigate. Unfortunately with the President missing, Joe Ledger and his team are under the harsh criticism of the Vice President, now assuming the role of Commander in Chief in the President’s absence. Still obsessed with destroying the DMS, he begins an investigation into Ledger’s past, desperate to bring him and the rest of the team down. Meanwhile, during a test flight, a top-secret prototype stealth fighter is destroyed by a craft that immediately fled at impossible speed.

Despite everything that is transpiring around them, Ledger and the Echo team must focus on rescuing the President. His “ransom” is a mysterious “black book” that contains very detailed information on alien technology. Something unworldly is definitely amiss and, using their cunning and creative investigation and recovery skills, the Echo team is once again responsible for the safety and future of a nation.

Admittedly, when I heard Maberry was taking a stab at aliens I was a bit hesitant. Never a fan of UFO stories involving little green men, I was worried that one of my favorite authors was crossing a line I would not be able to follow.  I don’t know how I doubted Maberry’s talent because Extinction Machine may very well end up being my favorite in the Joe Ledger series.  As with nearly everything he writes, Maberry adds a completely unique interpretation of aliens and alien hybrids that left me completely entranced. Not even adding a love story (yep!) diminished my love and adoration of this novel.

What I particularly liked about the Extinction Machine was that it showed a deeper, more emotional side to Joe, the Echo Team, and Church himself. In this novel, we see them at their darkest and most vulnerable. It shouldn’t surprise any fan of this series that the team rises above the devastation, guns blazing, taking no excuses.

I listened to the audiobook production of this novel. What can I say? Ray Porter is outstanding always.I have listened to every single Joe Ledger title and can’t imagine reading the print at the risk of missing out on one of the best narrators I have ever experienced. Ray Porter is Joe Ledger, at least in my mind.  He picks up on the emotional cadence of the characters and is expertly able to vacillate through the multitude emotions of the characters.

All in all, Extinction Machine is a tremendous addition to an already outstanding series. It is by far one of my favorite series, particularly in audio, and one I find recommending quite frequently. Fans of science fiction, paranormal, military, and more will be handsomely rewarded if they opt to join in on this adventure. Highly, highly recommended.

Guest Review: Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road by Annie Wilder

Today I’m pleased to welcome Susan Dunman with a guest review today! Susan is a librarian with the Kentucky Dept. for Libraries and Archives. She’s hooked on audiobooks and invites you to find your next great listen by visiting Audiobook Jukebox, a review site she and her husband maintain which offers indexed links to audiobook reviews across the Web – 10,000 review links and counting.

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Narrator(s): Tavia Gilbert and Peter Ganim
  • Listening Time: 3 hours, 44 minutes
  • ISBN-10: 1427214816

It’s easy to get in the mood for Halloween with  so many great horror stories available to listen to this year. And in my opinion, it’s always a more frightening experience to hear a good scary story rather than reading it in print. While it can be a challenge to find the best unnerving tales, Trucker Ghost Stories stands out because it claims to be a collection of true ghost stories.

Author Annie Wilder is a firm believer in the supernatural and says that her own house is haunted. She hit upon the idea of collecting stories of unusual events from the nation’s highways after recalling a ghost story she was told by a long haul trucker when she was a teenager.

Wilder asked for contributions from a variety of sources. On her web site she wrote, “I’m looking for true ghost stories, weird experiences, and legends of the road from truck drivers or those closely connected to the trucker world (married to a truck driver, work at a truck stop or diesel repair shop, etc.”

The resulting collection of 54 stories attests to the fact that some strange things happen out on the road – whether driving cross-country on an Interstate or down a narrow country road late at night. Most of the stories are told by truckers, although some are shared by regular motorists who had strange experiences while driving. Many of the stories are about ghosts or hauntings, but a few UFO experiences are also shared.

Because most of the stories were shared by people who are not writers, their narratives are rather straightforward and written in a “this is what happened to me” format. Narrators Gilbert and Ganim bring their vocal talents to the unadorned narrative, giving the writing depth and personality. Each story lists the contributor’s name, so Gilbert performs the stories shared by women while Ganim voices the men’s contributions. At times, the narrators even use regional accents if the story mentions the city from where the writer hails. Both have pleasant voices and offer listeners an enjoyable listen.

You don’t have to believe in ghosts or UFO’s to enjoy these stories.  Most are short – between 2 and 5 minutes long – and while some are rather standard fare, there are a few that gave me chills while listening. Some of my favorites were “The Bloody Bride Bridge” where the apparition of a bride killed in a car wreck haunts the site of her death; “Babe” describes the friendly haunting of a rig named Babe after a driver dies in the cab;  and “Last Goodbye” relates an unexplained happening at the funeral for a trucker.

I’ve never seen a ghost or had anything I’d call paranormal happen to me. But it’s obvious that the people telling these stories feel very strongly that they witnessed or felt something that defies logical explanation. Give a listen and see if you don’t become more cautious and observant the next time you drive alone, late at night, down a lonesome stretch of highway.

 

 

Audiobook Review: The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 48 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Source: Publisher

Geiger’s art is “information retrieval,” he can tell if someone is lying the instant the words are spoken. His methods aren’t always traditional, using physical and psychological means to obtain the information his clients seek. Unlike his competitors, he rarely draws blood, instead invoking so much fear in his “subjects” that they share the information relatively willingly.

One of Geiger’s restrictions is children; he refuses to work with them. Yet, when a case requires that he interrogate a twelve-year-old boy, the son of their “subject,”Geiger does something unprecedented: he rescues the child from his abductors, promising to protect him from harm. Soon Geiger and his partner Harry Boddicker, a former journalist, realize how determined their adversaries are to obtain the information they seek from this innocent child. The information presented to them upon the onset of the case was false, and Geiger and Harry soon learn that in order to guarantee the safety of this child, they must prevent one another from being killed.

Smith creates quite the unique character in Geiger. No first name, no history, no memory of his past and a high tolerance for pain. He reminded me somewhat of Robert Crais’ character, Joe Pike. Both Pike and Geiger seemingly are tough, cold-hearted guys, but beneath all that brute strength is a truly caring individual. Geiger, a man not known for his ability to communicate well, instead speaks volumes in his actions. Throughout the novel, the reader learns a bit about Geiger’s past, the events and situations that shaped him into the man he is now. The author skillfully weaves Geiger’s search for his own truth with the search for more information about the twelve-year-old boy they are attempting to keep safe.

Like Geiger, the pacing of this novel is quite intense. There are some pretty brutal scenes, but that’s to be expected given the main character’s line of work. Listening to the audio book production of this novel, narrated by Ari Fliakos, initially I felt no connection to the characters. The narrator seemed cold, the characters distant. In time, however, I recognized this as a sign of the narrator’s talent in portraying Geiger’s character. Eventually, as we learned more about Geiger’s character, I found myself forming a connection with him.

Bottom line: Smith provides a truly unique novel in The Inquisitor. Highly recommended.