Steelheart

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Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s first venture into the YA market (The Alcatraz series is middle grade, from what I hear) tackles this issue of absolute power corrupts absolutely into a revenge story that is both surprising and inevitable.

Readers of any age will find the David’s bad metaphors a riot. It blends non-sensical humor found in younger children’s books with the literary styles of a high school English teacher doing a lesson on poetry and focusing on the differences between metaphors and similes. Set in our world, the government considers super powered beings natural disasters. These Epics (humans with super powers) have taken over the United States and unleashed an era of dystopia upon the country. The main plot the book presents is defeating a villain known as Steelheart, who is the most powerful Epic in the former Chicago area. Much like Mistborn: The Final Empire, the story revolves around a group of rebels known as the Reckoners as they try to kill Epics across the nation. Steelheart is going to be their toughest challenge. Luckily Dave has spent most of his life thinking about revenge and how to defeat the Epic who killed his father.

When the third act comes, it hits you. Hard. The battle between the reckoners and Steelheart is both epic and at the same time “down to earth.” With all the revelations happening by the end of the second and third acts, a sequel was inevitable. Sanderson achieves complexity with both his characters and his resolutions, making Steelheart a hybrid of YA and adult, and excellent read or listen all around.

5/5 Stars

Audio Drama Reviews: 3 Years, 100 Reviews – Coming Soon (September 28, 2014)

ADR 100 Reviews Cover
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To celebrate the 100th review, I’m re-releasing an updated version of Audio Drama Reviews Collection One. It can be found here with its new cover and title already live. If you’ve already downloaded the Kindle version, the updates should take effect within 72 hours after I hit publish (which will be on on 27th of September at 11 PM Central). Hopefully the updates take affect sooner, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

Amazon will probably send an e-mail out to people who bought the book to tell them about the newer version. However, you will need to turn on automatic book updates. I believe it’s set to on as default, but just in case here are the instructions.

1.  Visit the Manage Your Content and Devices page
2.  Select “Automatic Book Update” from the left navigation bar.
3.  Click Turn On.

For the other platforms (Kobo and Smashwords), Simply e-mail me to receive the updated version. I’m not sure if they do updates the same way Kindle does.

Again the release date is 9/28/2014. So I won’t be sending out advanced copies until that date.

The Philadelphia Xperiment

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My first listen from Camp Fire Radio was a wonderful treat. Great story, acting, and a tale that made me wince in fear and disgust—but in a good way. What I found most fascinating was the hypnosis scene. The way it combined the “blind” medium of audio with John Doe closing his eyes and remembering the past was ingenious. I felt like I was John, as scary as that thought might be given the ending.

What makes the tale scary isn’t the gruesome sound effects—even though they are extremely visceral. It’s the fact that it’s based on actual history. Well, more like conspiracy type history. You can find more about the Philadelphia Experiment on its wikipedia page.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. Short and sweet, but packed with tons history, horror, and imagination.

5/5 Stars

The Table Round Episode 4

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After the dark and ominous ending of the last episode, it was nice to take a breather. After all, the tales of King and Arthur and the knights of the roundtable should be lighthearted and fun, not gloom and doom.

The duel between Lancelot and Arthur was humorous, but at the same time the SFX sounded haphazardly put together at times. There’s one SFX that sounded like it came from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”. It was so well placed, assuming it was ripped, that it added to the lighthearted and dramatic irony of the scene. I laughed out loud.

4.5/5 Stars

The Table Round Episode 3

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By far the darkest episode, the third chapter of “The Table Round” takes the story told thus far and provides a common denominator for the series to follow.

Before now, the episodes seemed too episodic. There were loose connections, but nothing concrete enough to say that these stories were related. The reveal in episode three about Kind Arthur and the force which would one day take the thrown away from him tied in the first two episode and by the end, the story had taken a darker turn for the better.

One can only hope that the next episode isn’t as dark, because while certain aspects of the King Arthur myth are gritty and unpleasant, a lot of what people remember are the positive things like the Knights of the Round Table. (Or maybe that’s thanks to Monty Python). Characters like Mordred and Morgan La fey give fans of the mythology a reason to squee, while others will find their introduction to be a great development for the story regardless.

 

5/5 Stars

The Table Round Episode 2

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The second episode is leaps and bounds better than the first in terms of production value. There’s still some parts that perhaps could’ve been better, but as the episode progressed the sound quality let go of the wheel and hopped in the passenger seat. leaving the driving to the story and characters.

If getting over a rough beginning is hard, you may not make it this far. I hope you do, because episode 2 shows the talents of the cast and crew much better than the first episode. That’s not to say they weren’t good in that chapter, but the amateurish sound quality hindered the overall enjoyment.

The scene where Arthur receives Excalibur is the best one out of this episode. I can’t wait to see what the this series has in store as it’s only getting better; not only as each new episode is released, but during the episodes themselves.

4/5 Stars

The Table Round Episode 1

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An Arthurian full cast production finally makes the pod-air waves and it sort of disappoints in terms of the production value. The first episode didn’t have good sound effects. This would be good for when audio drama first resurfaced, but nowadays it’s considered sloppy quality. For a first time go at an audio drama, this is still good. It’s the sound level issues that are the main problem.

This is also an interesting take, not on the King Arthur legend, but on audio drama. It both educates and entertains the listener. This is made clear at the end of the episode, when someone comes onto the microphone and tells the listener what happened during the events they’ve just experienced. Don’t worry it comes after the episode is complete and more of a pre/post credit teaser. Obviously there’s no factual history here, aside from the legends and writers who greatly influenced and added to the King Arthur mythology.

Regardless of whether there was a King Arthur, this first episode of an ongoing adventure recounting his adventures (real or not), shows some promise. The acting was good, but the quality of some people’s microphones was poorer than I’ve personally come to expect from independent audio productions nowadays. Still I will listen onward, keeping my optimism high.

Rating: 3.5/5

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Part 3 of 3)

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I remember being unsatisfied by the ending of Mistborn: The Final Empire when reading the book/listening to the audiobook. I thought the way the protagonist killed the bad guy was lukewarm. It wasn’t until reading the author’s annotations on his site that the ending suddenly received weight in terms of its resonance. Needless to say, I went into this 3 part audio drama/audiobook hybrid knowing what to expect in terms of the beats. Graphic Audio did a fantastic job of making the book come to life to another part of my imagination and brain.

It goes without saying that reading and listening to an audio drama both depend on the individual’s imagination more than the visual mediums like television and film. It’s why the idea of a combination is so kick-ass. I said in the review of part one that I found the narration annoying. I tolerated it in part two, coming to expect long passages of the narrator just describing the setting and the characters acting or reacting within it. By the end of the book, it was barely noticeable.

The “real plan” reveal, when I first read it did not have much emotional weight. The actors and actresses performances of the scene after this plot twist occurs was outstanding. I was on the verge of tears at the actresses’ of Vin response. Sometimes experiencing the story in a different light is all one needs to truly understand it.

5/5 stars

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Part 2 of 3)

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The middle (part 2 of 3) of this audiobook/audio drama hybrid is easily forgettable. That’s probably due to the lapse in listening I took and because having read/listened to the book, it was hard to differentiate what happened in what part. An event that happened in the beginning of part three could’ve happened at the end of part two. It’s not important, but it does make reviewing these hard. People who listened to this without a 1-2 month gap have larger attention spans than I do. While I enjoy political intrigue, all the ball scenes felt out of place. The tone was too different from the rest of the story. I realize it was necessary for having the plan established in part one to work, but the way it was handled could’ve been better. The sound effects were great. Each metal had a distinct sound, but sounded familiar enough to each other that it could be identified as allomancy. For example, Iron and steel are both external metals, but have opposite effects. One pulls objects towards you, while the other pushes them away. Their sounds are both similar and different, thus adding a certain ambience to the world through the SFX.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Part 1 of 3)

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Originally published on graphicaudio.net

I finished reading the Final Empire sometime in the fall of 2011. However, I don’t remember much of the opening chapters, because I took a long gap of about 3 months before picking the book back up again.

Having read half of the second book in the trilogy, all I can say is “wow” at all the clues and hints I missed.

The one downside is that the narration is sometimes not needed. and seemed to drone on in places. A really good sound effect could do much of the heavy lifting in the “action” department. If I hear a coin being tossed, I don’t need the narrator telling me the same exact thing. It’s redundant.

That aside, it’s a shame that this part ended where it did. The book kicked it into high gear, during the heist planning scene and hearing it again was a real treat. Then again, it got me wanting to buy the second part.

Rating: 4/5 stars