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nrlymrtl has commented on (264) products.

Magic Factory by James Livingood

nrlymrtl, May 11, 2015

What if magic was industrialized? If you could head over to the factory office and order up your own piece of magic, would you? Those who work at the magic factory have to deal with many of the same hazards that are found in other factories. Accidents do happen on the assembly line.

This is a great example of humor in story telling. We have a setting, the characters, the events ��" all of which the characters take seriously. But us readers can sit back and enjoy the humor. Told through a character who takes his factory job very seriously, one who has great pride in this abilities and precision, I quickly got caught up in the story.

The piece of magic being assembled happens to be an angel. Today is the new guy’s first day on the assembly line and mistakes do happen. What does a mismanufactored angle do? Haha! Well, give this story a read and see for yourself.

I really enjoyed the mix of modern day quality assurance terms and the fantastical. The manufacturing of magic, in this case, doesn’t take the fun or mystery out of it. Definitely a worthwhile read!

The Narration: Michael Gilboe was a delight to listen to. I really enjoyed his voice of the somewhat egotistical perfectionist. He also had a good voice for the angel, who plays an important role even if it is a minor one.
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Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary A. Ballard
Under the Amoral Bridge

nrlymrtl, May 11, 2015

In this cyberpunkian near future novel, Artemis Bridge is a fixer ��" the go-to guy for when you need something illegal or under the radar. Bridge doesn’t care how foul your need is, he simply finds you the guy who can make it happen, taking a small fixer fee along the way. He’s proud to say he himself never does anything indecent; he merely facilitates. Of course, that all goes sideways when a dying associate feeds him a recording of the present mayor doing something quite distasteful.

Our main character Bridge likes to think of himself as a cool cat, making his money on the morally depleted but never dipping in the dirty waters himself. I can’t say I particularly liked this character, but he was so fascinating I didn’t have to. He obviously has morals concerning his own behavior and yet holds back on enforcing those morals on others. Plus he makes most of his money off of one type of degenerate or other. He has a body guard (Archimedes is his handle) who is paid to look aware and tough but not paid enough to take a punch for Bridge. I found their banter and dynamic both comical and interesting.

While there are few females in this story, they are integral to the plot (hurray!). The main female character is Bridge’s ex-girlfriend. I think she got all the brains in the relationship. She too is an interesting character with her own values and hobbies and actions. Much of the cyberpunk hardware belongs to her and hence, much of the the cyberpunk scenes include her.

The plot has a few unexpected twists and turns and they were a treat to watch unfold. Bridge has to call in favors, rely on friends, and outwit the bad guys. However, bad guys are nearly all he deals with, so there’s plenty of fancy foot work to stay ahead of a bullet. All in all this was an enjoyable ride with an original lead character. Definitely worthy of my time.

The Narration: Joe Hempel had a variety of voices, each distinct, for all the characters. He even pulled off a few accents as the roles required. While I found his voice for Bridge more of a boy-next-door voice instead of shady, slick, psuedo-criminal, he still made it work and I connected with the character through the narration. He even went the extra length with one of the cyberpunk voices, giving it the echo described in the scene.
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The Sea Peoples: The Mysterious Nomads Who Ushered in the Iron Age by Charles River Editors

nrlymrtl, May 11, 2015

This book explores the changes in the Mediterranean during the late 13th and early 12th centuries BCE. This was an exciting time when well established city states and cultures fell, and the Iron Age arose. The mysterious Sea Peoples were at the center of many of these changes.

I have long been fascinated by the Sea Peoples and will probably go on being fascinated by them because they will always remain something of a mystery. This book does an excellent job of giving an over view of what is known and what is guessed (in an educated fashion) about the Sea Peoples. Indeed, they were a collection of tribes and peoples and they came in more than one wave. Sometimes, some of them hired out as mercenaries and occasionally they fought on both sides of the same battle. Their origins are still in dispute, however descendants of some of the tribes that eventually settled have been verified through linguistical and archaeological analysis.

The most fascinating thing I learned was that these invaders brought iron weapons and whole new way of fighting with them. These two things revolutionized the whole area over a short amount of time. For instance, some well established civilizations, like Egypt, were still battling with chariots. Chariots take a lot of care and maintenance, not just for the wheeled contraption but also for the horses. Plus they also need a flat plain on which to be effective. The Sea Peoples with their iron age weapons and advanced fighting techniques, put the charioteers to shame.

If you haven’t read extensively on the Sea Peoples or simply want a refresher, then this is an excellent source. It’s a great lunch time break, feeding the mind while you feed your body.

The Narration: Jack Chekijian did a great job with this book. He came off as scholarly without being dry or stuffy. Plus there are several difficult to pronounce tribal names and personal names in this book ��" Chekijian nailed them all.
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Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley
Inside a Silver Box

nrlymrtl, April 19, 2015

Ronnie Bottoms and Lorraine Fell crash together in just the right place to activate the Silver Box, a box that the Laz (an alien race) placed on the Earth long before humans and which contains & constrains the last of a most powerful and destructive sentient force. Together, they struggle to contain what they inadvertently have set loose in order to save the entire planet.

I don’t like this book and I really did want to like this book. It is my first Walter Mosley book and I have heard great things about his work. HighBridge Audio is a quality publisher and the narrator, Dion Graham, is awesome. The cover art is intriguing. The story itself was a clash of themes and ideas that never melded into a coherent plot line. Quite frankly, I was bored with it.

First, Ronnie is a serial mugger and rapist. He has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. He ‘meets’ Lorraine in a New York City park when he attempts to mug and rape her. She fights back and he reacts harshly, killing her. This all happens in an area that is full of small boulders and large rocks and is right over the resting place of the Silver Box. Once Lorraine is dead, the Silver Box preserves her consciousness and this allows her to take over other bodies and eventually get Ronnie to return to the scene of the crime. At that point, using the power of the Silver Box, he has the greatest orgasmic experience of his life in bringing Lorraine’s dead, bloated corpse back to life, and in fine shape.

So we get all that very early on in the book. Ronnie and Lorraine have now become our heroes set on saving the Earth. They have been set upon a quest and given special powers. And they decide they need to visit family, friends, and folks from their past in order to hash some stuff out. Uh… wasn’t there a time limit for their quest? I kept waiting for the story to veer back towards the cool scifi part that involves aliens and saving the Earth. That is almost completely sidelined until the very end, which is hugely anticlimactic and not satisfying at all.

Next, Ronnie is now one of our heroes. Mr. Serial Rapist is going to save the Earth. He has completely turned over a new leaf (in record time from one scene to the next) and now sees that all those horrible things he did were wrong. He no longer has all the anger and hunger inside. So he digs up an old teacher to chat about the old days, stumbles into an old girlfriend, and crashes at Lorraine’s swanky uptown penthouse, complete with weekly maid service. He never visits his victims to redress his past ill deeds. I had a hard time routing for him because of his past bad behavior and also because he is not being very proactive in saving the world.

Lorraine wasn’t much better. She comes from a privileged family and she has to struggle with realizing that turning your head and looking the other way is wrong, especially when you have the power and money to make a difference. She has a shouting match with her parents, who threaten to stop making payments on her penthouse. So, Lorraine doesn’t work and isn’t paying for her upkeep at all, and that doesn’t change by the end of the book. I found her character to be boring because her circumstances didn’t change, so her behavior didn’t have to change much either.

Lastly, there is sex, and then there isn’t. Ronnie initially attempts to rape Lorraine, and once she returns to the land of the living, she has some choice words to say to him about that. But then they get super powers and there are 2 scenes in the book where they kind of have sex. And yet they think of each other as akin to siblings since the Silver Box changed them. So that added a yuck factor to their sexytimes, plus that whole attempted rape thing starting off their acquaintance.

So with all that, I had this feeling that perhaps the author was attempting to mash together opposing themes that would intentionally make the reader uncomfortable. Yes, I left this book feeling like I had been put through some kind of social experiment and then tossed out the back door with my meager compensation for my time ��" the pleasure of writing up this review.

The Narration: While I didn’t care for this book, Dion Graham was an amazing narrator. His voice is deep and smooth and a joy to listen to. He had dialects for the various New Yorkers and a range of male and female voices. The audio production was excellent.
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High Midnight
High Midnight

nrlymrtl, April 19, 2015

What do psychotic clowns, cryptid chimeras, drunk sheriffs, Russian novel reading monkeys, ghostly lovers, and zombies have in common? Not much beyond this book. Set in modern day, Unity, Texas is a place to the unwanted, drunk, and those not wanting to be found to disappear. Laredo Beaumont, the sheriff, takes his job seriously, especially the napping and drinking part. At least, until the day a murder of clowns shows up.

This is one of the oddest books I have ever read. I knew it was a mishmash of genres and plot devices going into it, but the various elements pulled in was beyond expectations. And the author made it all work beautifully. I was constantly entertained, usually surprised, and left wanting more. I hear rumors there is a second book in the making and I have my fingers crossed that is true.

The book starts off with psychotic clowns. Admittedly, it does jump around quickly from clown to clown, and often with swift punches of flashbacks showing a little bit of why that clown is now with a sadistic gaggle of clowns on a near deserted highway. Don’t be put off by this because the point of view settles down after that and gives a good story, with a few flashbacks here and there. The viewpoints do change throughout the tale, but we get to spend enough time with each character that the reader has time to connect with them.

I found Unity to be a fascinating town, especially all the problems they have with the cryptids such as the chupacabra and jackalope chimeras. The biologist in me wanted to do a summer study course in Unity. The half with the common sense knew we would have to get lost in a desert teeming with the shuffling undead. The zombies don’t feature heavily in this book, but do have a little key part to play.

Laredo and Sally Mae were my two favorite characters, one being a drunk authority figure and the other a ghostly bordello lass. They both kick ass in their own ways. And there is one sex scene. It is smoking hot, literally. There are flames involved. And a luchadero mask. Haha! Hooray for Mexican wrestling! That little detail gave me a good laugh, and yet, it really worked with the character.

Yes, there is a deputy sheriff. His name is Cicero, a chimpanzee. He wields knives and reads dreary Russian literature. Periodically, he smashes up the one and only bar, which is owned by the mayor of the town. She doesn’t appreciate such antics; hence, he has a job and has to keep it to work off his binges. Toss in the clowns (like Kiss me Kate) and some other town characters (the mayor’s bathrobe attired husband) and you have a very eclectic cast.

The plot was pretty straight forward. The clowns have been gallivanting about the country side looking for a specific person, someone they feel they need to payback (like by breaking said person’s kneecaps). In Unity, the sheriff struggles with the big question: why am I here? While he wrestles with that, all these other characters are just going about their lives, until some clowns with questionable makeup skills arrive in town. Really, the plot gave this backbone for all these character to play together on. I am fine with that because it was damn entertaining!

Narration: Bernard Setaro Clark was a good fit for this book. He had a variety of voices (and you definitely needed that for this book). His female voices were totally believable. Luckily, we weren’t treated to any monkey screeches. He had no hesitancy with the evil clowns or the love scene.
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