A Paul B Audiobook Review: The Autumn Lands by J. Scott Coatsworth and Narrated by Vance Bastian

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

autumn-lands-audioJerrith, a human boy from the Vandis city of Althos, has had a rough life.  His mother died when he was four.  The only thing he has to remember her by now is the leaf pendant he now wears around his neck.  His father has become an alcoholic and abusive since his wife’s death.  The only saving grace for Jerrith has been his apprenticeship at the blacksmith.  However he might have thrown even that away after he is caught kissing an elf boy in the town square.

Caspian has had things just as rough recently.  A prince of the land of Nevis, he has had his wings removed and forced into exile in the land of Vandis.  As part of the exile, Cas’s memories of what forced the exiled have been wiped clean, so he has no idea WHY he is in Vandis.  To make matters worse, members of the royal guard are keeping an eye on him.  He has no idea what compels him to kiss the cute Vanders boy, but he does.  Having been caught and beaten, Cas now awaits his fate in the dungeon.

Learning that the boy he kissed is in trouble and knowing he has no future in Althos once word gets out about him kissing the Nevers boy, Jerrith decides to rescue Cas.  Using what little magic he know chanting “I’m not here” over and over, he makes himself, and anyone in contact with him, disappear from view.  Having broken free, the pair must now travel back to Caspian’s home in the Autumn Lands on Nevis while trying to elude the royal guard on their tail.  Once there, they will have to confront the king as to the reason for Cas’s exile and hopefully stay alive in the process.

I was totally captivated by this story.  The author does a great job of building the worlds of Vandis and Nevis.  The dull drab world of Vandis stands in contrast to the metallic, futuristic world of Nevis.  The mythology of how the Autumn Lands serve not only to tell the history of the two lands but also compels the actions of our two protagonists.  Jerrith has an “Alice in Wonderland” type moment when his first sees the capital city of Nevis.  The happily ever after ending is not quite what the reader/listener would expect but it is satisfying.

Vance Bastian narrates this tale and I really enjoyed his style.  His voice is a little different from the other audiobooks I have listened to in that it is not quite as deep as the others I have heard.  He deftly moves between character voices and gives Jerrith a voice I would imagine him having.  I hope to have an opportunity to listen to more of his narration.

Sales Links

Mischief Corner Books

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Book Details:

Audiobook, 3 hours 12 minutes, 12 chapters
Published:  July 12, 2016 by Mischief Corner Books

A Paul B Audiobook Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune , Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars          ★★★★★

The Lightning Struck Heart audiobookOnce upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

Sam Haversford is the wizard apprentice for the kingdom of Verania.  For the past eight years, he has been studying under the King’s Wizard Morgan.  His constant companions are a gay hornless unicorn by the name of Gary and a nine and a half foot tall half-giant by the name of Tiggy.  His parents have received jobs within the palace where Sam is being taught.  And the king thinks of Sam as a second son.  Life could not be any better for Sam, right?

Well, there is this problem Sam has of getting himself and his two friends captured whenever they go out on a mission for Morgan or the king.  From battling dark wizards to almost getting “gay fairy married” Sam just cannot stay out of trouble.  Throw in the fact that the knight the Sam has been crushing on for the past five years, Ryan Braveheart, has been promoted and engaged to Crown Prince Justin, Sam’s future boss, his life has its complications.  To make matters worse, Sam realizes that Ryan is his cornerstone, the one person any wizard grounds his magic to as they build upon their base of knowledge.  When Sam is attacked and Prince Justin is taken away from the dragon, the king sends Sam and his friends, along with Ryan to rescue his son.  Sam must make this trip with the one man who he must have for his magic but cannot have because of Ryan’s commitment to the prince.  With the prince to save, Sam resolves that he will complete his mission even though doing so might kill him either physically or emotionally.

I love T J Klune’s books and this is no exception.  Sam is the neurotic protagonist in this story with Ryan serving as the steadying force for him both emotionally and magically.  The various supporting characters that are met along the way bring humor into most situations even if some are meant to be evil.   Sam’s take on evil characters giving monologues about their plans is both funny and true.  I am looking forward to more tales from Sam of Wilds and his crew.  As usual, this is a must read/listen from the author.

Narrator Michael Leslie’s rich voice gives life to the various characters.  His portrayal of the characters allows the listener to distinguish who is talking most of the time.  A couple of times the vocal switch from Sam to Ryan was difficult to discern.  The intonation for Mama, Sam’s fairy drag mother was quite well done while the other female voices were adequate considering the narrator’s deep voice.  The overall pacing of the story was good with tempo and pauses between different sections of chapters easily noticeable.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is dramatic and of course, striking.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 20 pages, 19 hrs 48 mins
Published December 10th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published July 20th 2015)
Original TitleThe Lightning-Struck Heart
ASINB0195I4B9S
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersSam Haversford, Ryan Foxheart, Gary, Tiggy, Morgan of Shadows…more settingVerania