Review: Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw

Jam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So after recently enjoying Mogworld (See my review here), I decided to give this book a try in audiobook form while on a road trip to Vegas with my wife. I was a tad nervous that she would not enjoy it having not knowing the Author’s other works. My concern was quickly dashed as within the first 10 minutes she was laughing at the quick and dry wit on display.

The story is a pretty unique take on the apocalyptic, end-of-the-world genre. The premise is as simple as it is silly: The protagonist wakes up to find that his city of Brisbane, and maybe the world, has been covered in three feet of carnivorous jam that smells of strawberry. The result is a wacky and yet still interesting survival story.

I am impressed with how Yahtzee Croshaw is able to tell a story so well with witty humor. Not once did I find myself thinking “well that’s stupid they should just… “, because before I could do that he was already doing it himself in a hilarious way.

This is probably one of the few books that I would recommend experiencing in audiobook form as opposed to reading in book form as it is narrated by the author and his brand of witty humor transfers over PERFECTLY in a way I am not sure it would in text.

Review: Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw

MogworldMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mogworld is a fantasy story about a mage in training named Jim who dies in an unremarkable way, in a senseless battle between his Mage college and a rival fighters school. And frankly, he is fine with that. It sure beats life back home on his families pig farm. Then, years later to his utter consternation he is brought back from the dead by a necromancer.

Jim immediately tries to put an end to his life, again. On his quest to end his unlife he discovers something has gone wrong with the world and in order to finish his quest to die, he may first have to get to the bottom of this mystery.

If you are familiar with the work of Yahtzee Croshaw reviewing video games in a video series called Zero Punctuation on the YouTube channel The Escapist (YouTube link), then you will be familiar with his snarky, dry-wit brand of humor. This book is overflowing with that same feel but without the sped up jump cuts that he uses on YouTube.

I was ready for a trope heavy romp through a cookie cutter fantasy story. And while there definitely some tropes, it feels like they were included more for the opportunity to poke fun of them than to actually use them in earnest.

I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to seeing what else Yahtzee Croshaw has to offer in his other novels. I have already purchased Jam and it is in my to-read pile.

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Review: The Feedback Loop Books 1-3 by Harmon Cooper

The Feedback Loop Books 1-3 (The Feedback Loop #1-3)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harmon Cooper adds to the “on the rise” genre of LITRPG with The Feedback Loop series. The Protagonist is Quantum Hughes. The series starts off with him stuck in a virtual world which he calls “The Loop” because every day is the same. He is also the only actual person in this virtual reality world for the past two years, so when another actual person appears it throws Quantum’s “life” into a tailspin.

This series is highly entertaining if you are into this new Genre. If you are new to LITRPG then this would be a good introduction. Each novel is fairly short but full of humor, action, and adventure!

The only thing I found lacking with this story is that there does not seem to be enough consequences for Quantum’s violent behaviors, and so far there has been no progression of character to learn to handle his anger issues. These are parts of his character but I feel that there was not enough growth for him to overcome these behaviors which should be hampering him in a civilized society.

Jeff Hayes does a great job narrating and bringing the characters in this story to life. There are some effects used on his voice that is done in moderation and only serves to enhance the experience.

** I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review **

Review: Faith Against the Wolves by Jonathan Chateau

Faith Against the Wolves (Travis Rail #1)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Travis Rail is a transporter. He picks up packages and delivers them. He is told these items are artifacts that possess supernatural powers. Travis does not believe in the supernatural, but he is good behind the wheel and good in a fight. When Travis is attacked by a group of people called “The Rift”, he finds out that they are not only after artifacts but him as well. Travis is determined to finish this one last job so he can retire but it turns out a lot harder than he thought.

The story starts off strong with good action and plenty of mystery. About halfway in however, the narrative starts to get a bit of a “preachy” feel to it. The Preachy message also starts to get a little repetitive. At some points it felt more like Christian fiction however, the book is also fairly violent, gory, and the use of profanity would turn off most people looking for a Christian message. If you can get past this, there is enough of a story underneath to keep it interesting though I did have to skip forward 10-20 seconds a few times.

The Audiobook is narrated by Chris Rice. Chris does a great job narrating the action scenes and the main character. The one weakness to his narration (at least in this performance) was his female characters could have been done better.

** I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. **

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Review: The Last Warrior of Unigaea by Harmon Cooper

The Last Warrior of UnigaeaMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Last Warrior of Unigaea Written by Harmon Cooper is a new book in the LitPRG genre. If you do not know what this is, let me explain. LitRPG is a fairly new genre that mainly consists of story and characters based in either a Virtual reality world, MMO game (Massively Multiplayer Game Online Game – Like World of Warcraft), or other similar RPG (Role Playing Game).

The story follows Oric Rune as he lives in the world of Unigaea as a special class of character called a “Player Killer”. This class is universally hated and untrusted by other players and NPC’s (Think computer controlled characters) alike. Oric chooses this profession in order to be able to seek revenge on other “Player Killer” characters who had previously wronged him in the game. While he is on his quest he discovers another threat that is threatening his new world of Unigaea and must make a decision to ignore this threat or to put off his mission of revenge and face this new threat for the sake of the virtual world that he loves.

Harmon Cooper drops us into the world of Unigaea without any explanation of how this world works. We do learn a few things such as in Unigaea when you die, your character is DEAD and you must start completely over as a new character. We also learn that Oric in real life has opted to be “Perma logged” into this game. How or why is never explained. To me, these things are both a blessing and a curse. Other books in this genre that I have read have the tendency to explain these things as if they were explaining to someone who has no idea how video games or RPGs work at all and tend to go a little TOO into the details to the point that it is too much. Pretty much these days most people get the concept of Virtual Reality, Video Games and such. If not, then this genre is probably not for you.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have some more information than is provided in this book. I get the feeling that this book is in the same universe as other books by Harmon Cooper such as Fantasy Online and if I had read those books then I would have a better understanding.

Overall, I was still able to enjoy the story. The pace was a bit slow at first (never too slow though), and picked up nicely by the end. I found myself not wanting to put the story down and finding excuses to find time to jump back in!

The narration by Jeff Hays and Annie Ellicott was done very well! I enjoyed how the game voices had effects on them and how the character of Sam Raid was performed by Annie Ellicott. The dual roles really lent a great contrast to the experience!

** I received this book free of charge from the author / narrator / publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. **

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Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel

Death Knocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel takes a lesser known urban legend of Black Eyed Kids and turns it into a suspenseful, fun read. Maverick is about to start his senior year in high school and is spending the evening with his best friend playing video games when a knock at the door changes his whole life.

I thought that Hardy and Noel do a great job at writing characters that were likable, relatable, and yet flawed. Stakes are continuously raised throughout the story and the pacing was done well. The story kept moving forward at a good pace.

Memo from the nit-picking department: While this didn’t bother me enough to diminish my enjoyment of this book, it did nag at me. The book seemed to take place in the modern time of ~2017ish (there were game consoles and cell phones), yet not once was the possibility that the black eyes were caused by special contacts which exist. It just felt this possibility was overlooked.

I listened to this book on audiobook narrated by Jeff Simpson. Simpson did a good job making each voice distinct and bringing the characters to life, using different inflections and accents in an enjoyable way. The quality of the recording was excellent as well.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Whack A Mole by Chris Grabenstein

Whack A Mole (John Ceepak Mystery, #3)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whack A Mole is the third book in the John Ceepak Mystery series. This is one of the few series that you do not need to worry if you have not read the first two books in the series. The same could probably be said for Mad Mouse (book #2). So far each book is its own stand-alone mystery which is resolved entirely in the novel. This is a nice change of pace from many other series that I have read lately where even after three books into the series nothing major has been resolved.

The story is set in the New Jersey summer spot Sea Haven. It is told from the first person perspective of now rookie police officer Danny Boyle. Danny is partnered with John Ceepak, a man with a strict code: “Don’t lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do.”. After a discovery on a beach, Danny and Ceepak start investigating a cold case of a missing person that is 30 years old. Soon new evidence comes to light that raises the stakes.

This book was a fun, light read much like the previous two books. One thing that bothered me in this book more than previous books, was the complete ineptitude of the other police in this book. The pinnacle of this is Officer Santucci. The degree to which Santucci took the inept police work, was just a bit much for me at times.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will probably continue with this series!

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