Paperbackward Book Batch: Pale Rider, Magic Factory, and Summer Sword*

By: James Livingood

Narrated by: Michael C. Gwynne, Michael Gilboe, and Jack Nolan


(I received a free audible copy for an honest review.)


Pale Rider – GoodReads Summary: “I am often left to wonder why a zombie, walking around in the sun, smells better than a pooping dinosaur.”

Two worlds collide in this action novelette. Zombies have destroyed civilization. Gasoline fuel is no longer an option, but humanity must find a way to survive. In response to trying to restore our way of life, we engineer franken-monsters. Because of their small brains and massive sizes, these beasts make quick work of farming and clearing land. These large creatures are immune to the zombie virus and perform excellently in loud conditions. They are easy to train. They behave like war horses, prone to help charge in and defend our livelihood.

In honor of the past, and to help build our future, we named these creatures dinosaurs.

Two things stand out for me after listening to Pale Rider. One, the way my mind slipped through the story. For instance, some descriptions were spot on and managed to grab my imagination with a ruthless clarity. But, most just seemed to slip through my head like a silk thread through silk fabric and nothing to hold it there.

Second (and my favorite), is the sound of Michael Gwynne’s voice. I tend to slide narrators into certain personal labels (e.g. those that pierce with just the right tone to avoid annoyance yet keep me awake, aware and focused; those female voices that manage to whine without putting me completely off; male voices that transform seamlessly between characters that are so differentiated as to make me check that there is actually only one narrator, etc.). These are my own personal labels and I share my opinion only when I think I can describe the essence of the voice in a way that would help others choose to listen or not to listen. Michael Gwynne has a voice that is like salted caramel, just enough texture to avoid the smoothness that gathers sleep around you. His is the voice you want to hear when curled up during the height of a snowstorm and buried in blankets on the sofa drinking your warming liquid of choice.

Sticking his voice with the incongruity that is the base of this story was the perfect choice.


Magic Factory: GoodReads Summary: In a factory full of magic, some magic is bound to slip out and cause havoc.

Magical industry knowledge is precious and hard to find. Even the most minor of spells require an enormous non-disclosure waiver. Most of the experts claim the knowledge under patents to ensure they could make the most money possible. The harder that knowledge is to discover, the less competition you have. Magic factories are known to be high risk because of the stigma of sharing information. Unfortunately for the workers at this factory, that includes information on how to be safe.

Really? Magic produced on the line? Who in their right mind would think of such a thing?

Well, James Livingood, of course.

Mr. Livingood takes the art of magic, places it into the hands of a line worker with an overinflated ego, adds a defective little angel and completely twists the magical industry into a streamlined production company.

I think everyone should read/listen to this at some point. It takes the battle between good and evil into the morning meetings of a boardroom and adds just enough dazzle to keep it interesting.

The positive message at the end is fantastic.


Summer Sword – GoodReads Summary:

“To those that see the sky and can not fly, I feel this wind for them.”

An otherworldly friendship is forged under stress and fear. Wyatt, a recently unemployed camper, is looking for an escape from responsibilities. Thunder Born is a wind esper looking to escape from those who want to murder him. Together they start something surpassing both of them.

Summer Sword is an origin story with potential for future adventures. It is unique in that I’ve never read anything like this concept before, and refreshing in that the protagonist has less angst than usual (he’s just an ordinary man who meets the wind).

Jack Nolan does a wonderful job in voicing the two main characters.

Out of all the stories here, this one is my least favorite. However, it is still such a good story that I truly have nothing of value to offer as to why it is my least favorite.


BONUS: Frankenstein: IT Support

GoodReads Summary:

“My creator once reveled in his mastery over life and death. He dug from graves, stitched me together, and brought me to life. However, he never anticipated how hard it would be to get good tech support. Frustrated, he shoved books in my face. After I ate a few, he then taught me to read.”

I was lucky to receive the audible version of this collection of short stories which included Frankenstein: IT Support.

This was my favorite story in the bunch, but because it is a bonus, I’m reluctant to say more than that I enjoyed it from the beginning and that it had me laughing throughout the whole thing.

I want you to read it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. You just have to read it. (However, I highly recommend listening to it. The narrator is the icing on the cake that is this story. Who doesn’t like cake with icing?)


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