Audiobook Review: Dark Winter by A.J. Tata

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In a blistering scenario almost too close to the headlines, former Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata delivers a chillingly authentic glimpse of tomorrow’s wars—and the anonymous hackers who hold the fate of the world at their fingertips . . .

By the time anyone realizes what’s happening, it is too late. A dark network of hackers has infiltrated the computers of the U.S. military, unleashing chaos across the globe. U.S. missiles strike the wrong targets. Defense systems fail. Power grids shut down. Within hours, America’s enemies move in. Russian tanks plow through northern Europe. Iranian troops invade Iraq. North Korean destroys Seoul and fires missiles at Japan.

Phase 1 of ComWar is complete.

Enter Jake Mahegan and his team of highly trained operatives. Their mission is to locate the nerve center of ComWar—aka Computer Optimized Warfare—and to shut down the operation through any means necessary. Mahegan knows it’s a virtual suicide mission. There are three ComWar headquarters, each hidden deep underground in Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Each contains a human biometric nuclear key that the team must capture to shut down the imminent nuclear strikes. Splitting up the team is Mahegan’s only chance to prevent the next wave of cyber attacks. But even that won’t stop the sleeper cell agents—here in the United States . . .

When Phase 2 ends, World War III begins.

 

Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

 

 

BOOK REVIEW

 

This book was phenomenal. For Jake Mahegan and his group of highly trained operatives, the stakes couldn’t be higher. A maniacal, narcissistic genius’; with global influence, creates an unbelievable plot to destroy the world as we know it and recreate it with himself. He has the perfect leverage to manipulate the worlds superpowers and create chaos. The writing was brilliant from beginning to end. Great villains with quirky motivations, personalities that seemed all to real.

 

NARRATOR PERFORMANCE:

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection: 10/10

Narrator Jonathan Davis does a great embodying the story with it’s full cast of characters. Very impressive!

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over: 10/10

There were a number of quality voices in this one. All of them skillfully portrayed with the personality to match. Jake Mahegan, Ranger Cassie, Russians, Iranians, and various American accents.

 

  • Pacing 8/10

The pace was perhaps a bit slow for my taste, but matched the length of the book, so no complaints here.

 

  • Emphasis 9/10

This was excellent. Davis did a splendid job bringing out the personalities of each character and making them his own. You can’t ask for more in a narrator.

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  9/10

I was brought into the depths of the story as the result of good narration. Definitely impressive!

 

  • Emotional Intensity  8/10

The emotional intensity wasn’t that much of a factor. I think the style of this particular narrator was quite adequate. When there’s too much, or too little it can become a problem for the listener.

 

  • Sound Quality: 10/10

Publisher:  HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Great sound quality throughout the book.

 

  • Overall Performance: 9/10

Great performance overall that added to the quality of book. These characters will stick with me for a while!

 

 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: The Enigma Factor by Charles V. Breakfield, Roxanne E Burkey

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The Enigma Factor book one

 

About Audiobook #1

Author: Charles V Breakfield, Roxanne E Burkey

Narrator: Steven Jay Cohen

Length: 12 hours 15 minutes

Publisher: Enigma Series LLC⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction; Technothriller

Series: The Enigma Series, Book 1

Release date: Jun. 9, 2017

 

Synopsis: Rogue cyber-criminals want Jacob Michaels, a brilliant young programmer, to join them. He just doesn’t know it yet. Jacob has the brains, expertise, and programming methods to get them what they want without discovery. With his best friend, Buzz, and a distractingly beautiful encryptionist in tow, Jacob enters the world of the Dark Internet here in the 21st century where the computer is the weapon of choice! With the cyber criminals engaged in international hacking, it’s easy to have your identity slip through your fingers. No one, including Jacob, believes it when he learns he has been targeted. Jacob finds the space between cyber good and cyber evil difficult to navigate as well as highly deadly.

Jacob has settled into a quiet routine of a techno geek after his mother dies. The plans he made are disrupted when he discovers his life is in danger. He sets off on a mission that takes him into new technology views and exposes to him the inner-workings of unknown global technologists. Jacob learns that safeguards for technology are always evolving and being exploited. His challenge becomes how to keep ahead of the criminals and identify who to trust.

Book one of The Enigma Series brings relevant technology elements of programming, encryption, crypto-currency, identity theft, and hacking to highlight the professional excellence of Jacob, more so perhaps due to his sheltered upbringing. Explore the horrific damage cyber criminals can inflict as the award-winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, weave a complex tale of danger, intrigue, and international cyber combat in their debut thriller, The Enigma Factor.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #1

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Review

 

 

This book was quite interesting in its scope of computers, programming and cyber security. I understood some of the technical jargon, but definitely not all of it. However, it did fascinate me as I tried to wrap my head around the overall plot of the book. Jacob, young programmer and his relationship with a mysterious European encryptionist named Petra was one of the highlights. Jacob’s life is turned upside down when he’s caught in the middle of an international game of rogue hackers.

 

 

NARRATOR PERFORMANCE:

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection:  8/10

I give the narrator high marks here. He seems to completely embody the story in his performance.

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over:  7/10

There were a number of good voice creations in this one. Russian, English (southern), European. I think the voices of Otto, Petra, Andrew, and of course Jacob were my favs. Accents were good.

  • Pacing 6/10

I think this was one of the downfalls of the book overall. The tone seemed a bit slow for some reason; almost dull, which makes it hard on the listener.

 

  • Emphasis 6/10

This was another weak point in the performance. The Emphasis wasn’t poor, but lacked in a way that took away from the overall impact of the book.

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  7/10

Due to the pacing and emphasis issues I rated this a bit lower. It wasn’t terrible, but I did struggle overall.

 

  • Sound Quality: 9/10

Publisher:    Enigma Series LLC

 

  • Overall Performance: 7/10 

I know that this narrator is skilled based upon the performance. I’d listen to Steven Jay Cohen again in other titles. The voice creation with the various accents, personalities were actually pretty good. I also think the something in the story structure made it more difficult but not impossible to enjoy. Overall The Enigma Rising is a fascinating beginning to the technothriller series. I’m curious to see where the following books will lead.

 

 

About the Author: Charles V. Breakfield & Roxanne E. Burkey

Breakfield is a renowned technology solutions architect with 25+ years of experience in security, hybrid data/telecom environments, and unified communications enjoys leveraging his professional skills in these contemporary TechnoThriller stories. His love of World War II history from multiple viewpoints, extensive world travel, and cultural exchanges are a part of his DNA. Charles’ love of wine tastings, cooking, and Harley riding has found ways into the nine books of The Enigma Series. Being the son of a military father allowed early exposure to various outposts, which has positively contributed to Charles contributions to many characters and the various character perspectives explored.


Burkey is a renowned customer experience professional, she is adept at initiating business solutions optimizing existing technology architecture to positively impact business outcomes. Her 25+ years in technology and business has allowed her to be a featured speaker on customer experience, subject matter expert, interviewer, instructor, and author of technology documents, as well as creator of the award winning stories within The Enigma Series. She recognized a few years ago, after several white papers and non-fictional technology books that writing fiction is a lot more fun, creative, and yet leverages relevant technology. As a child she helped to lead the other kids with exciting new adventures built on make believe characters which she brings to the stories in a grown up manner. Rox enjoys family, listening to people, any kind of travel, sewing, gourmet cooking, and imagining the possibilities.


Breakfield & Burkey – Combining their professional expertise, knowledge of the world from both business and personal travels, many characters whom have crossed their paths and are now a foundation for the 150+ characters which are a part of their series. They find it interesting to use aspects of today’s technology that people are actually incorporate into their daily lives. They will openly claim this experience and knowledge of people is a perfect way to create these adult good guy/bad guy stories. Relevant technology is combined with travel, romance, intrigue, mystery, and humor design for each book to be enjoyed alone or in sequence. Reviewers have positively compared Breakfield and Burkey to the works of Tom Clancy and Clive Custer which are some of their influencers.


The nine books currently in the series include The Enigma Factor, Rising, Ignite, Wraith, Stolen, Always, Gamers, Broker, and Dragon have received awards individually as a series, and audio books. They have also created some award winning short stories including one for The Enigma Chronicles focused on how one of the founding family was fractured due to the greed for information superiority.

 

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The Spybrary Podcast Discusses the Works of Frederick Forsyth

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SPYBRARY PODCAST 48: Spy Fans Guide to the Works of Frederick Forsyth

This podcast originally appears on Spybrary.com July 14, 2018. Duration: 1 hr 5 min. 

 

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Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator. He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the JackalThe Odessa FileThe Fourth ProtocolThe Dogs of WarThe Devil’s AlternativeThe Fist of GodIconThe VeteranAvengerThe Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.

The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge School and later attended the University of Granada. He became one of the youngest pilots in the Royal Air Force at 19, where he served on National Service from 1956 to 1958. Becoming a journalist, he joined Reuters in 1961 and later the BBC in 1965, where he served as an assistant diplomatic correspondent. From July to September 1967, he served as a correspondent covering the Nigerian Civil War between the region of Biafra and Nigeria. He left the BBC in 1968 after controversy arose over his alleged bias towards the Biafran cause and accusations that he falsified segments of his reports. Returning to Biafra as a freelance reporter, Forsyth wrote his first book, The Biafra Story in 1969.

Forsyth decided to write a novel using similar research techniques to those used in journalism. His first full length novel, The Day of the Jackal, was published in 1971 and became an international bestseller and gained its author the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. It was later made into a film of the same name.

 

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Jesse Kellerman interview – Episode 226 Reading & Writing podcast

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Jesse Kellerman interview – Episode 226 Reading & Writing podcast

This podcast originally appears on readingandwritingpodcast.com May 30, 2018. Duration: 22 min.

 

 

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Jesse Kellerman has written dozens of plays and published seven novels, two of them cowritten with his father, Jonathan Kellerman. He has won numerous awards, including the Princess Grace Award for Playwriting (“Things Beyond Our Control”) and the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle (“The Genius”/”Les Visages”). His novel “Potboiler” was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. An essay, “Let My People Go to the Buffet,” was included in Penguin’s Best American Spiritual Writing (2011). His next book, Crime Scene, was also cowritten with Jonathan Kellerman and will be published in fall 2017. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.

 

 

Crime Scene Jesse Kellerman

 

 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A former star athlete turned deputy coroner is drawn into a brutal, complicated murder in this psychological thriller from a father-son writing team that delivers “brilliant, page-turning fiction” (Stephen King).

Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Jessekellerman.com

 

 

Author Steven James hosts special guest Mark Greaney on the Story Blender

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Author Steven James hosts special guest Mark Greaney on the Story Blender

 

 

Mark Greaney

 

Mark Greaney is the #1 NYT bestselling author of TOM CLANCY TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE. He has written or cowritten seven Tom Clancy novels, and is also the bestselling author of the Gray Man series, including GUNMETAL GRAY, BACK BLAST, DEAD EYE, BALLISTIC, ON TARGET, and THE GRAY MAN.

Mark lives in Memphis, Tennessee

 

The Gray Man is back in another nonstop international thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novel

 

Agent in Place Audiobook

 

Learn more at MARKGREANEYBOOKS.COM

 

Original air date Jan. 22, 2018 Length 50 min. Audio Link

 

 

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Steven James hosts Thriller Author John Lescoart

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Host Steven James talks books and writing with best-selling writer John Lescroart on the The Story Blender.

 

Original air date: Feb. 5th, 2018 Length: 46 minutes John Lescroart

 

 

Poison John Lescroart

 

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John Lescroart author

 

John Lescroart’s previous book, FATAL, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, his eighteenth NY Times bestseller. His latest, POISON, hailed as “a marvelous novel” by the Associated Press, debuted on February 13, 2018. 

John Lescroart is the co-President (with Heather Graham) of the International Thriller Writers (“ITW”) and the New York Times Bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, available online and in bookstores. He has written twenty novels in the San Francisco based Dismas Hardy/Abe Glitsky series, and three in the Wyatt Hunt series. Libraries Unlimited has included him in its publication “The 100 Most Popular Thriller and Suspense Authors.” His books have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and his short stories appear in many anthologies.

John’s blog at JohnLescroart.com is updated regularly with writing tips, insights on his books, recipes, recommendations, book give-aways, and more! Please also find John on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Steven James author

 

 

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book THE BISHOP their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

 

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Storyblender

 

 

 

The Story Blender Podcast: Authors Steven James & Sandra Brown

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THE STORY BLENDER: Author Steven James hosts the prolific Sandra Brown. Don’t miss out on this one!!

From the The Story Blender Original air date: Aug. 8th, 2017. Time: 57 min

 

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CONNECT WITH SANDRA BROWN

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

The Writing Train

Mystery Thriller Week

 

 

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