James Maxey: Greatshadow – Review and Giveaway

Author: James Maxey

Narrator: Jake Urry

Series: Dragon Apocalypse, Book One

Length: 13h 20m

Publisher: James Maxey

Released: May 29, 2017

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Greatshadow is the primal dragon of fire, an elemental evil whose malign intelligence spies upon mankind through every candle flame, waiting to devour any careless victim he can claim.

The Church of the Book has assembled a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers to slay the dragon once and for all. But tensions run high between the leaders of the team who view the mission as a holy duty and the super-powered mercenaries who add power to their ranks, who view the mission primarily as a chance to claim Greatshadow’s vast treasure trove. If the warriors fail to slay the beast, will they doom mankind to death by fire?

 

James Maxey’s mother warned him if he read too many comic books, they would warp his mind. She was right. Now an adult who can’t stop daydreaming, James is unsuited for decent work and ekes out a pittance writing down demented fantasies about masked women, fiery dragons, and monkeys. Oh god, so many monkeys.

​In an effort to figure out how Superman could fly, James read a lot of science, books by Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking. Turns out, Superman probably wasn’t based on any factual information. Who would have guessed? Realizing it was possible to write science fiction without being constrained by the actual rules of science proved liberating for James, and led to the psuedo-science fiction of the Bitterwood series, superhero novels like Nobody Gets the Girl, and the steam-punk visions of Bad Wizard.

​In 2015, James was honored as the Piedmont Laureate by the United Arts Councils representing Orange County, Durham County, and Wake County. This is almost certainly a sign of the ongoing cultural decay gripping the nation.

​James lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his lovely and patient wife Cheryl and too many cats.

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Narrator Bio

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

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Jake Urry does it again!

My first book narrated by Jake Urry was a psychological thriller, and his way of narrating really got to me. I then listened to his performances of an occult thriller series; so when I found out that he was the narrator of Greatshadow, and fantasy being my favourite genre, I absolutely ‚had‘ to listen to it.

Now, the brain is a funny organ: when starting Greatshadow, at first I couldn’t help but picturing Harlan Ulrich, the main protagonist from the occult thriller series. I hasten to add, that this is none of Jake Urry’s fault, his narration was immaculate, as I’ve come to expect from him. So, I had some serious talking to myself, and after a while, Ulrich faded, and Stagger and Infidel came to the fore.

I thoroughly enjoyed the narration, the various characters and voices. The good thing is: I enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed the narration!

Being an avid reader/listener of fantasy stories, I sometimes wonder what new stuff authors can still come up with, cause it seems I should have read it all by now.

Far from it! On the foreground, this is a book about mankind’s fight against the evil dragon, but there is so much more to it.

The world building is excellent, and the world is populated by very strong and different characters and fascinating races. The narrator’s perspective is a bit of a funny one, because he is dead. Yes, you read that right. And he isn’t the sort of ghost I would have expected, either, because he can still feel like a living being — only he can no longer act like one, which causes him a lot of frustration.

Then there’s Infidel, an invincible woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around.

There are mercenaries with various special abilities, there’s the knight in shining armour (and he isn’t as boring as I expected him to be, either). And of course there’s a representative of the church who claims to hold the one and only truth, and there’s his (and the church’s) antagonist, some sort of Antichrist. And then there’s the mysterious — well, sort of wise man, or wizard — who knows it all.

These are only the main characters, but the sidekicks are just as fascinating and memorable. I hope in a sequel we’ll get to know more about the Black Swan, for instance.

All these characters make for a hell of a mix in their common goal to slay Greatshadow, the most powerful dragon on earth, not least because their motivations for the mission are so very different.

The story is full of surprises, and it is funny in parts, too. The mix of action and reflection, disputes and building of friendships makes for great entertainment, and I highly recommend it.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jake Urry. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

 

 

 

Greatshadow Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Review: Brandon Sanderson – Calamity (Reckoners #3)

Brandon Sanderson: Calamity (Reckoners #3); narrator: McLeod Andrews; audible studios, 11:51h, 24,46 €

 

This is the grand finale to the Epic tale. We’re no longer in New York, and we haven’t gone back to Chicago, but we’re in Atlanta now, which, just like the steel-city and the water-city, has a specific feature: the buildings, trees, etc are made of salt, AND the city moves, destroying and rebuilding itself every seven days.
David and his decimated team of Reckoners meet old foes and new ones, and they aren’t well equipped or prepared. However, they get help from unexpected quarters, and so they take up the fight against Prof — and ultimately, against Calamity.

Again, this book is full of surprises, there are so many unexpected twists and turns, it is a joy to behold. I really need to make my son listen to this epic (sorry, can’t resist the pun here) trilogy, so at least somebody will know what I mean, should I ever find myself exclaiming: „Sparks!“ or „Calamity!“ Yes, that’s all the cursing there is (and it’s very often just an exclamation of surprise).

Oh, and I love didgeridooing — I want that filter for some of the books I read/listen to!!

McLeod Andrews’narration was perfect again, and I think I prefer him to Michael Kramer (who is a great narrator, too).

So, I guess you can see that I’m quite enthusiastic about this trilogy, it’s great ya stuff that makes you think, because of course all the right questions are being raised (about the legitimacy of killing a foe, for instance, and how you go on living with the knowledge that you’ve killed –admittedly dangerous, tyrannical — people who never chose to be like they are. Can you overcome the darkness within you? Can friends help you with it? And what about love?
This trilogy isn’t just a great ya story, but it is food for thought, too.

Review: Wilkie Collins – The Evil Genius

Wilkie Collins: The Evil Genius, ebook, 296 pages, Project Gutenberg (public domain)
Wilkie Collins: The Evil Genius, ebook, 296 pages, Project Gutenberg (public domain)

 

I’m a bit of a Wilkie Collins fan, and since there are a number of his novels that I don’t know yet, I decided to revisit his works.

This work is one of his weaker novels, but not quite as weak as ‚Poor Miss Finch‘, which is by far the weakest of his novels that I’ve read.

The characters are plastic, and they develop, but I think I prefer his mysteries to his romances.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the moral views, either. They’re somehow twisted, but then I guess they’re indeed mirroring the general sentiments of the time, and as such, you can understand why the characters act as they do. The oddest thing is, that in Catholic circles, nothing has changed until today. Fascinating.

Since I have to rate it, and semi stars aren’t possible, let me just say that I’d award this novel 3.5 stars.

Review: Mike Shelton – The Dragon Orb (The Alaris Chronicles Book 1)

Mike Shelton:The Dragon Orb (The Alaris Chronicles Book 1); Kindle edition, 260p., 0,99€ (preorder)
Mike Shelton:The Dragon Orb (The Alaris Chronicles Book 1); Kindle edition, 260p., 0,99€ (preorder)

Like in the Cremolino Prophecy trilogy, Mike Shelton manages to sweep us into a world full of imagination, adventure, and magic.
There is a conspiracy thriving to push the kingdom into turmoil, and this is closely linked to a barrier which has separated the Elvyn land and the kingdom for 150 years, but which is now coming down.
What will be the consequences?

We have various characters: the good ones, the evil ones, and those on who the verdict is still out.

The chief characters are young wizards, supported by other young people. They need to do something to save their country from civil war. Whose side will they take? Can they be influenced in one way or the other, or are they at liberty to choose their loyalties themselves?

I really enjoyed this novel, it has everything you can wish for, but there is one thing that made me
subtract a star: this story would be very unsatisfying as a stand-alone, and although it doesn’t end in a complete cliffhanger, it is clear that it needs more books to fully explain the goings-on.
I hope we won’t have to wait for too long for the sequels, and I hope there’ll be an audio version at some point, too.

This was an Advance Reader Copy, provided to me by the author. Many thanks.

Review: Brandon Sanderson – Steelheart (Reckoners #1)

Brandon Sanderson: Steelheart (Reckoners #1); Brilliance Corpaudio, 12:15h, € 15,99

If you’re familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novels, be prepared that this is different.

We’re in a new Chicago (Newcago) sometime in the future, and something has happened that caused Calamity, which in turn bestowed super powers on some humans – but not super humanity, alas.

Chicago becomes a permanently dark place of tyranny, where the ‚epics‘ rule. It’s a dangerous place to be. A group of rebel fighters take it upon them to fight the epics.

Sanderson develops a very somber scenario, and we have to ask ourselves where the fight for freedom ends and terrorism starts (it is a question the rebels themselves can’t give an answer to).

Of course there is hope.

The characters are very well worked out, the book doesn’t lack humour, and the plot is well thought out. It’s fast-paced and one of the ‚unputdownables‘ from this author’s pen.

It’s not a fantasy story, and I wouldn’t say it’s scifi, either, but some sort of Dystopia.

I look forward to listening to the sequels. McLeod Andrews’s narration was fantastic and makes a nice change from Michael Kramer, who narrates most of Branderson’s other books.

Review: Michael J Sullivan – Age of Myth

Michael J. Sullivan: Age of Myth, Recorded Books/audible, 16:56h, € 23,58
Michael J. Sullivan: Age of Myth, Recorded Books/audible edition, 16:56h, € 23,58

 

This book certainly is another burner from Michael J Sullivan. Once I had started listening, I was unable to stop. I was drawn in right from the start, and I can’t wait to listen to the sequels — but I’ll have to be patient for another four months before I can continue with volume 2.

If you’ve read the Riyria Revelations, you’ll recognize a few names, but it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read anything by the author before (although you really should).

Once again, this isn’t just a great story about magic and lore. There’s racism, superstition, prejudices and more the protagonists have to contend with.

Again, we have strong female and male characters alike, a fantastic plot, and some humour (although I think there was more of that in the Riyria Revelations).
I was very happy that Tim Gerard Reynolds is the narrator again, because he does such a fantastic job.
Do yourselves a favour and read or listen to this book, you won’t regret it.