Quest: an Audiobook Review

Hello and Happy New Year. I know it’s pretty late to be doing the first post of the year. Is it really almost February? But I needed a serious break from everything. I also had some cleaning up to do on my manuscript. (Don’t get excited. It’s not the sequel.) A couple trusted friends helped me get my commas in the right places so Runaway Lyrics would read better. There’s a couple good reasons why it needs to read better. Hopefully I can share good news about both of the reasons soon.

With so much going on I haven’t had much time for reading—at least not typed books. I can always find time for audiobooks.

Sylvalla escapes Avondale castle and the life of a princess, in search of the adventure she’s always wanted.
Once found, adventure bites back.

Fortunately, she’s not alone. Unfortunately, her new-found companions are less than heroic. Jonathan, would rather make money than learn wizardry. Dirk, would rather live a long and happy life than confront danger. And at 150, old Capro would rather stop gallivanting, and harangue unsuspecting wizardry students about his glory days over a nice cup of tea.
Quest has everything, heroes, monsters, chases, escapes and a complete lack of true love.

A celebration of adventure fantasy, Quest is a quirky and original fantasy from award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, A.J. Ponder on behalf of Wizardly historian, F Fraderghast. Become a student of magic today, and discover the true fighter, warrior, and most unprincesslike Princess Sylvalla, as she battles for her place as a hero.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Audiobook Review of Quest: book one in the Sylvalla Chronicles

*review of audiobook edition*

Quest is a fun little side quest of a read that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It has jokes sprinkled throughout by a Douglas Adams style narrator, character intro’s that read like D&D character sheet summaries, with gimmicks that could have carried the novel if they had to.

Quest is a fun read is you are just looking for surface level adventure and humorous antics. The story does get a little serious towards the end, which I fear may be setting the tone for future installments.

The Characters are all likeable enough and each has their own thing that draws you too them.

There is a wizard named Goodfellow who is trying desperately to reconnect with his adult son, Johnathan. These two are the characters that I connected with most. I felt like their plot thread was never fully developed to it’s fullest potential. There was an opportunity for some real deep feels here.

The rest of the characters felt like stereotypes of D&D classes. I suspect this book may be a novelized D&D campaign—or several. Like a Dungeon Master was trying to bring several campaigns together in one story.


Which brings me to this book’s one major flaw.

There are too many characters. They are not together as a party either. They are separate and seemingly unrelated to each other. The constant jumping from one character to the next makes it hard to care about any of them and also keeps them from developing.

The narrator Benjamin Fife was amazing as he always is. He handled the large cast of characters the only way he could, by giving each one a different voice. He even reads subtext and emotion into the really underdeveloped relationship between Johnathan Goodfellow and his father.

If you do pick up this book, I really hope you choose the audio version.

Will I continue this series? Yes, but mostly likely not until they release on audio. I like to complete series in the same format I start them in. I certainly hope Benjamin Fife returns for the next two books.

*Thank you to Story Origin and the author for providing me with a free reviewer code. This review is my own honest opinion.* 

Quest is available in ebook, paperback, and in audio formats from multiple retailers. As of this writing you can get the ebook for only 99cents.

A.J. Ponder

“Writing is about fun. Reading doubly so.”

USA Today bestselling author, and winner of the Wright-Murray Residency 2021, A.J. Ponder (BSc, Dip Teach) is the author of numerous novels and short stories including the award winning Frankie and the Netball Clone, Dying for the Record, The Sylvalla Chronicles, Wizard’s Guide to Wellington and more.

A.J. lives in a hundred year old house overlooking Wellington harbour with three cats and a family all obsessed with games, books and dungeons and dragons. A.J. has a head full of monsters, and recklessly spills them onto the written page. Beware dragons, dreadbeasts, taniwha, and small children—all are equally dangerous, and capable of treading on your heart—or tearing it, still beating, from your chest.

Epic Fantasy from Epic Gamers

I know I just posted an update the other day. Well today’s update is related. I promise.

Did you know I play D&D?

“What is D&D ?” you ask quizzically.

Well I am surprised that you don’t already know.

D&D stands for Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a table top roleplaying game.

My party plays it on the computer, though, not on a table.  It’s hard to meet in person when you live in different parts of the country.

The players create characters and then someone called the DM, or Dungeon Master, creates a story arc for the characters to complete. It’s sort of like writing a book, only you have a different author writing a separate character while one author lords over everyone pulling the plot threads together.

It just so happens that my D&D party is mostly authors. So you can imagiane the amount of fun that we have with this.

Today I’m featuring my D&D party and our books.

First up is me. It is my blog, after all.

Cathrine/Katrin

Yes I am aware that it’s basically the same name. I did that on purpose.

Book: Runaway Lyrics

Snow wants to perform music, Rose wants to perform magic. Luckily, for them, it’s the same thing.

When an airship crashes near their home, Snow’s magical abilities awaken. Together, the sisters must learn to use their magic, rescue a pair of cursed princes, and discover their own secrets.

Discover the magic of music in this retelling of Snow White and Rose Red.

My D&D character is Katrin Songsmith. She is a Human Bard. In D&D Bards use music to perform magic much like my main characters in Runaway Lyrics. In fact, if you read the book already, you may recognize Songsmith. It’s the last name of my main characters, Snow and Rose. 

Was this an attempt to play my book character instead of writing a new one?

Maybe?

Like Rose and Snow, Katrin also has a twin sister. The evil White Dragon kidnapped Cressida. Her soul is currently inside a ship, and it is Katrin’s mission to restore her sister to full humanity. 

She has purple hair and wears a Rainforest café t-shirt. Because D&D lets you do things like that.

I also enjoy being super meta to annoy the DM.

Naomi/Talice

Book: The Fey of Castle Garden

New York City, 1859: On Samhain night, a mage pledged to the Wild Hunt is violently murdered. Tensions between the Hunt and Triona, Fey Queen of Central Park, heat up and threaten to boil over into a full-scale conflict.

Sofia De Benedetti, mage and musician in Triona’s court, has her hands full making enough money to support herself and help women who are down on their luck in the rough corners of the city.

Now a fey war looms and a mage killer is on the prowl. Everything Sofia has built since immigrating, and her life itself, is at risk. With the help of a cait sidhe and a tempestuous storm fey, Sofia must find the murderer before the streets of the city erupt into a magical battleground.

Naomi plays as Talice a Cleric and a Drow. Drow are from the dark underground and are considered evil. But Talice has been called by Solaris to redeem the Drow and bring them out of the dark. I really like Talice, because in a game that is often accused of being evil she has created a character that feels very in keeping with the spirit of Christ.

Janeen/Dessa

Book: Wishing Against the House.My city is under attack by shadowfiends.
Apparently, this is my fault, thanks to the family I’ve never met.

At least the attack interrupted my first couples therapy session with Cendric. Small blessings, right?Personally, all I want for Christmas is to survive until New Year’s.
And maybe, a vacation.

Janeen plays as Dessa, a Half-Elf Ranger and Beast Master. She has a Wombat as an animal cmpanion, named Alfred. Alfred has toxic farts that Dessa has weaponized.

I love her character becasue she comes up with the most bizarre solutions to problems that our party encounters.

And most of the time they work.

Wishing Against the House is Janeen’s newest release but it’s the third in the series. Click the buttons below for the first two books. Trust me you don’t want to come in in the middle.

Books one and two are on sale until Tuesday 12/7/2021.

Now we come to the reason for this blog!

Happy Book Birthday to Power Play! The newest release in H.L. Burke’s ever expanding superhero universe. 

And yes, it just so happens that H.L. Burke plays D&D with me.

Heidi/Intuitive.

Book: Power Play

It’s dangerous to go alone. Even for superheroes.

Laleh Ashe has found her first real friends at Camp Sable, a refuge for at-risk superpowered teens, but her politically ambitious mother has other plans. Mrs. Ashe is determined to send Laleh to a fancy, overseas boarding school—far from her friends and the life she’s come to love. To drown her sorrows, Laleh agrees to a table top role playing game with her friends, Marco and Jake, as well as the new girl at camp—shy, withdrawn Rian. Too bad no one warned her about Rian’s reality bending superpowers.

Sucked into a fantasy world created by Rian’s imagination, Laleh and her friends must scramble to master their magical new surroundings and complete their quest if they are to have any hope of getting home again.

This magical world is less fun than it sounds, but as Laleh and her friends face the various challenges, Laleh can’t help but remember that all that waits for her in the real world is separation from her friends and a life under the thumb of her overbearing mom. Maybe going home is seriously overrated.

Superheroes meet Portal Fantasy in this second book of the Supervillain Rescue Project Young Adult Series.

Power Play was largly inspired by our D&D sessions. As I was reading it I couldn’t help laughing at all the inside jokes and events that she had copied.

But don’t worry this book is very accessible, even to people who have never played D&D before.

H.L. Burke (Heidi) plays a Tifling Wizard named Intuitive. 

Intuitive is a fun mix of book smarts and chaos, She once used octopus mating rituals to save the party from a Kraken. 

Intuitive also has a cat named Purrcival. He helps, sometimes, when he feels like it. He is a cat.

Intuitive is a fun character to play with because you never know what she’s going to do next.

The rest of the party…

Photo by Stephen Hardy on Pexels.com

There are two members of the party that do not have books out, but despite this oversight I will mention them, anyway.

The first is Matt, Heidi’s husband. He plays as Pyrrhic a Fighter. His character saves our butts in every session. He’s also the veteran D&D player in our group. He keeps gameplay on topic. Otherwise, we would all chase after every shiny side quest that presented itself.

The second person I need to mention is our long suffering DM who shall not be named. As the DM, he plays every other character in the game, including the bad guys. He also invents most of the story arcs and plots out how adventures will go. 

So do you play D&D?
Let me know in the comments.

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