Although I read one or two of the Chicago Stars series I have really enjoyed the rest of the series on Audible and am glad I have them to go back to listen to when I want a fun, easy listen. The characters are flawed and have issues and that makes them more realistic. As in all of SEP books, there is fun and snappy dialog and good sexual chemistry. The sex scenes are steamy and fun without being unnecessarily graphic like a lot of authors are doing today. As I have noted with some other SEP books, there is a primary couple, but also a love story for a secondary couple. I think April Fields does a GREAT job narrating and changing voices. She even does a fine job singing a little in this one!
Aimee is a modern day nurse who has settled two hundred years in the past. She chose to remain with mountain man, Daniel, in the Yellowstone wilderness. They are raising their three young sons in a secluded cabin. Aimee has insisted on her modern day tradition of selecting a fresh tree and decorating their Christmas tree with homemade decorations.
The little family enjoys a fun tracking adventure on the way to pick their tree. However, when they return home they are alarmed to find a newborn infant on their doorstep. Aimee and the boys take the babe inside while Daniel heads out to track the mother. After he returns Daniel and Aimee try to uncover the story from the reluctant mother. She appears to be of one tribe but wearing clothes from another.
Danger comes to their home while Daniel and his tribe brother are out. Now Daniel must do more tracking to protect his family. Two other tribes are involved in the conflict to be resolved. Meanwhile the family members hope they will be able to decorate their tree and share in Christmas blessings.
This is a warm Christmas novella, with love, action, mystery and danger. I enjoyed the easy style of the story and I loved the historic details which are a distinct and wonderful element. I enjoyed meeting the characters in this quick listen and look forward to reading/listening to more from this series.
Audio Notes: Alexandra Haag does a nice job narrating. The voices of the characters flows easily and the overall presentation is direct and engaging.
I failed to heed the warning and the language is explicitly rough making this less pleasant for me than it might have been otherwise.
The story follows six or so characters who wake up to discover their family, friends, neighbors and strangers in the surrounding areas gone. There are no traces and no explanations. The chapters bounce between the characters which makes it a little hard to follow. There is a journalist in the city who seeks his wife and son; an awkward teenager at home is sort of pleased to be alone; a young boy follows rainbows looking for his parents; and a sociopath is glad when he finds other survivors to kill. There is also a mother trying to protect her daughter and a fugitive who views his plane crash as a means to a second chance.
There is something strange about the cats and dogs that have survived and most of the survivors sense they are not alone. This episode ends with a horrific discovery but it does not reveal the cause of the disappearances.
I found some of the characters interesting and their stories were engaging with a sense of fear and some of horror. This might be well suited to those who like horror mystery and don’t mind horrendous foul language. I don't think I'll be pulling up other episodes right away.
Audio Notes: I enjoyed the narration from all of the readers. I really didn’t focus on the narrators so it seemed natural and unobtrusive to the story. This is a story I would like better in audio mode than reading.
James McGill and the Legion Varus troops are back in action again. Their mission is to seek out a lost earth colony. Before they locate the colony their ship is attacked by a new alien species, dubbed the “squids”. The troops have to make an emergency evacuation to a dust world or a water world. Since the hostile aliens may be on the water world, they head for the other planet.
They find strange plants and critters on the planet as they do reconnaissance for food and supplies. Then McGill makes human contact! Although the colonists dress as primitives they have weapons that are advanced nano technology. McGill's first attempt at diplomacy ends in his death but he swears he will return. They are shocked when McGill makes good on his threat after being ‘regrown’ by the replication machine.
It looks like Varus troops are going to have to battle the local colonists until another huge ship lands and giant hunters start seeking ‘prey’. Apparently the Squids capture humans for breeding or mutation into slaves. A temporary truce is reached so the troops and the colonists can fight the common foe. But what will happen once the Squids are defeated and the alien ship is captured? And what will happen when the Galactic enforcers arrive and find an Earth colony?
McGill continues, with his brash arrogance, to woe his favorite ladies, even adding a colonist to his conquests. He also continues to anger many of his team and superiors with his refusal to abide by the rules. McGill's tendency to go outside the box and follow his own, sometimes unorthodox, methods gets him into trouble but also provides solutions to problems.
Several of the characters, including McGill at times, are annoying and most of the superiors tend to be callous. McGill really has a caring heart for others even though some don’t recognize it. The story and action are very entertaining and I liked how the political issues were worked out with the Galactic enforcers. I recommend this to action fans and I am definitely looking forward to listening to the next book, Tech World.
Audio Notes: Mark Boyett does a great job narrating this series. He manages to give distinct accents to the characters. He also conveys the action with good pacing and energy. I have enjoyed both book 1 and 2 on audio and will listen to the next on audio too.
Gigi comes home from college to spend Christmas Holidays with her sister, Iris, a newly turned vampire. Iris has been afraid to be around Gigi so she gathers many family friends to help out. Most of the friends at home are supernatural, either vampire or werewolf. They all - well mostly all - care for both Iris and Gigi and are glad to support the reunion. The one awkward situation might be with Ophilia, the icy, leader of the vampires and possibly Gigi’s soon to be boss. Gigi’s computer skills would be a great asset to the vampires but Iris will be furious if Gigi takes the job that will not only require a ‘till death’ type of commitment but will also expose Gigi to danger...even more than she is now.
While home Gigi hopes to figure out how break up with her long time boyfriend, Ben, whom she cares for but “not in that way.” Between cooking accidents, juggling new and old family traditions and coping with the emotional issues of her relationships, Gigi keeps getting glimpses of a vampire with golden, flashing eyes. She thinks he may be a phantom even after an up close and personal kissing encounter.
I have not read this Half-Moon Hollow series but I find that Molly Harper stories have a wonderful underlying humor with pleasing, and sometimes wacky, characters. This short audio fits the formula and makes for a really fun Christmas visit with these characters. Although short, the story has a little bit of intrigue, a hint of danger and plenty of warm camaraderie. I will keep the series in mind when I am looking for some light, fun action and warm romance. This is a quick, fun listen that is a lovely free gift.
Audio Notes: Amanda Ronconi does a great job narrating. She picks up different accents and conveys the proper sense of the situations, including the snark and affection. It seems to me that certain narrators fit well with certain stories or authors and Ronconi seems to be an excellent fit with Harper. Her narration makes the reading/listening more fun for me.
This is an intensely active series - always danger. There are strange waves of wicked magical energy reeking havoc in Cinncinnati and the Hollows. These are causing magical spells to backfire resulting in physical damage around the city. Strangely the waves seem to be following Rachel Morgan. Meanwhile the undead vampire masters, who control the younger living vampires, have all disappeared and the living vampires are beginning to attack humans and Inderlanders, including some of Rachel’s werewolf pack. Rachel isn’t a werewolf but she is a powerful witch and day-walking demon with a tie to the werewolves through her friend, David, the true Alpha leader.
Rachel has been working as security for Trent while Quinn is away with the girls, Lucy and Rae. Rachel and Trent have enjoyed working together as they dance around their mutual attraction. Trent wants one night with Rachel on a date instead of as security employee. Dangerous but tempting. They are clearly drawn to each other but Trent is expected to marry one of his own kind, a high elven society member, Elsbeth, the mother of Lucy.
As Rachel tries to help the authorities control the chaos in the community, elven leaders arrive with Elsbeth at Trent’s home. The elven leaders suspect that the wild magic may be coming from an elven goddess who is seeking to make contact through Rachel. The tension increases as one of the elven leaders betrays Trent by lying to Rachel, talking her into a ritual that turns out to allow the goddess a partial possession. Tiny bits of sentient energy move into Rachel threatening to drive her mad unless she can find a way to communicate and control them and stop the goddess from more destruction.
This is what I call a ‘high octane’ series! Rachel seems to be a trouble magnet but somehow, with the help of her friends - vampire Ivy, pixie Jenks, David and Trent - she manages to save the city and come out alive. I love the action intensity and the romantic tension that is finally developed in this book between Rachel and Trent. I wonder how Kim Harrison keeps coming up with great plots and I will look forward to the next adventure.
Audio Notes: Marguerite Gavin is a fixture for me with this series. She does such a good job and makes the series more enjoyable listening entertainment.
At the end of Surviving Home, Book Two in this series, Morgan and his friends, Danny, a neighbor, Thad, his traveling companion, and Sarge and his three team members (met in Going Home, Book One), had done a reconnaissance of the local ‘government’ camp to see if they could tell how things were going. It wasn’t clear if those living in the camps were being helped or mistreated but Morgan and Thad were surprised to spot a young woman that looked like Jess, the girl they helped travel home to Ocala in Book One. Unfortunately the spies were spotted and had to pull out under gunfire.
Sarge is insisting that everyone start panning the move to an alternative location since the government troops most likely know where Morgan and Danny live. Morgan’s wife doesn’t like the idea although the girls think it might be a fun ‘camping adventure.’ The guys begin to make trips moving necessary and wanted equipment and supplies to the rugged cabins that Morgan showed them.
Many trips with a lot of gear draws some unwanted attention and the survivors face an ambush. Finally the attack on their own homes comes including the hostile presence of one of their old neighbors who insists they all move to the government facility.
Contact is made by a stranded Marine troop who offers some helpful intel to Sarge in exchange for needed supplies. These men have come across a man who survived a disastrous escape attempt from the government camp. Meanwhile, the slave-like conditions of the government camp are portrayed through Jess and her roommates.
This is the third installment in the series and seemed not quite as action packed as the prior books. There was still good action but I would say that this was a ‘preparing’ interlude to the next book. I was fully engaged by the story which read (listened) very quickly. I am looking forward to the next installment.
Marty Singer is a retired DC Homicide cop about to begin chemo treatments when an unexpected visitor knocks on his door. Amanda is now a graduate student who remembers Marty as the lead Detective in the case against Michael Wheeler, her mother’s murderer from twelve years before. Although Wheeler walked free due to trial errors and lost evidence, Amanda is sure that Marty can help her. She needs protection because the killer is back, leaving white carnations at her door.
Marty vows to protect Amanda seeking help from his old partner who is still angry about the botched trial but agrees to help. Trying every lead, Marty practically accosts Julie, the defense attorney who represented Wheeler. She is pretty bitter about the experience and doesn't really want to talk about it.
Amanda goes into hiding with Marty and soon Marty discovers goons ransacking his house for his files. Threats and circumstances change Julie’s mind so that she returns to Marty and now all three are hiding from an unknown threat as well as the killer. Marty continues to investigate even as his usual strength and reactions fail him due to weakening from the chemo treatments.
There is good suspense, action and twists in this mystery thriller. It is very sharp and realistic with ‘real-to-life’, characters complete with physical (age and illness), mental (madness and weakness) and moral (greed, pride and more) flaws. Some of the investigation paths lead to dead ends which adds to the realism. Also, the primary hero being older and coping with cancer issues makes him an interesting character with more depth than some young, hot shot detective.
Mr. Iden does a good job of weaving in unexpected twists, a little bit of romance and a bit more of moral dilemmas that have the reader/listener pondering levels of madness, ethics, loyalty and honesty. How far do professionals go to protect themselves, their families and their clients? I like Marty as a character and love the crisp suspense. I recommend this to mystery readers and would enjoy more suspense stories featuring Marty's tenacious pursuit.
Audio Notes: I was impressed with the narration by Lloyd Sherr. He was able to capture the emotional stresses of the characters and maintain the movement and suspense of the story. I was engaged for the full story and my assessment of the presentation is “well done.”
Atticus is a two thousand + year old Druid living in modern day Tempe, Arizona. He draws his magic primarily from the earth in a beneficial sharing of care, healing and power. Atticus’ closest companion is his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, with whom he mind-speaks. Oberon’s mind is mostly dog-like with treats, runs and females taking priority. Atticus’ other friends include his attorneys who are a pack of wererwolves and a vampire, Lief. He has an interesting relationship with Morrigan, the goddess of death, with whom he has a deal: she has agreed to never take his life in exchange for him sharing the secrets of his protective iron amulet.
Atticus has become quite sought after with the spreading news of his killing one of the Celtic gods. (Book One, Hounded.) Leif wants him to kill Thor, the thunder god, and numerous other parties want him to kill their enemies too. Atticus isn’t interested but, in the meantime, he has to fight off the demons, and fallen angels, that have been bound with the mission to kill him. In this story Atticus is also negotiating a treaty with local witches and he gets tangled in protecting them from witch hunters.
This series deals with a complex balancing of powers among the Greek Gods and the paranormal groups. There is wonderful action and great humor with Atticus’ “customary curtain of wit.” I love the fun language contrasts and word games: formality with the formal Vampire and earthy fun with the doggy Oberon. Atticus is a great character--part hapless, part fearless, part magical, mostly male and surprisingly not arrogantly obnoxious. There is some gratuitous sex alluded to with the details kept pretty much behind doors.
Luke Daniels does a super job narrating this series. He really nails the characters through voices and expression. The narration enhances the danger and fun of an already good story. I recommend this series for action and fun entertainment.
Noah Gardner is a lackluster son of a highly powerful, political puppet master, Arthur Gardner. Noah is lured in by Molly Ross who intrigues him with her disdain as well as her passion for the cause of American freedom. She is part of a group known as the Founder’s Keepers, who seek to peaceably preserve American freedoms as set out in the Constitution.
Noah is embroiled in Molly’s schemes to gain access and information from his father’s computers. They learn that Arthur Gardner is part of a group of elite power brokers who are seeking to bring about a one world government. These men will use money, power, manipulation, bribery, coercion, and whatever other means necessary to achieve their goal. Molly (and the reader) learn of a tool known as “the Overton Window” which measures public opinion. This tool allows the monied powers to manipulate public opinion by setting up events that slowly push the boundaries of public acceptance closer and closer to the desired controls sought by the puppet masters.
Noah is kidnapped and it becomes clear that Molly used him from the outset. Yet he thinks there was more between them than the obvious lies. Noah again seeks to help Molly as a nefarious terrorist plot slowly unfolds -- a horrible act of violence that is being arranged by the puppet masters but will be blamed on Molly’s group.
The beginning was a bit slow as I wondered at the detailed descriptions of Noah’s obsessive interest in Molly. However that is understandable as the plot progresses. After an hour or two in I was glued to listening to this story until it finished. I was impressed with the writing skills as well as the characterization and plot. All of the elements reveal the extreme intelligence of the author – regardless of what one might think of his political and religious views. Does it contain a message on politics and religion? Yes - clearly on politics and subtly on religion. Is it a good thriller? Absolutely.
Beck starts the book with a preface that declares the work to be in the nature of “faction” – a fictional story woven around facts. The story presents a present day situation that should open eyes and make each of us look at the circumstances around us to see if we can really discern truth from intentionally manipulated PR. I loved the story and am anxious to begin the next book, The Eye of Molech, which I am reviewing for Simon and Schuster through Audiobook Jukebox.
Audio Notes: This story was good on its own but the narration enhanced my enjoyment and made it move much more quickly than if I had read a print or ebook version. James Daniels does a really good job keying into the character personalities. I will look for other works narrated by Mr. Daniels.
Don’t let the slow start in this episode dissuade you - it just builds a basis for getting to know the characters and made me feel like part of the crew!
The first half of this book fills in the backgrounds of the characters and events to bring a new reader up to date in the series. There is a lot of behind the scenes details, building characters, setting the locations, revealing society positioning and strategy for the upcoming battles. Though it’s not exciting, still I found it very interesting. I liked even the geographical descriptions as a comparison between the alternate world and the world that the Americans came from. This story also introduces a few new characters, including some pre-American Revolution British officers who choose to remain outside of the alliance.
I had already like Captain Matthew Reddy and many of the crew members from the prior books. By the time the battle begins in the second half of this book I felt like I knew the American crew personally. When this book jumps into the battle action there is excitement, fear, horror, loss and sorrow. A couple times I actually found myself holding my hands over my face as I dealt with the emotions during the battle.
Audio Notes: William Dufris does a grand job of narrating that captures the nuances of the characters– good guys and bad guys– and the excitement of the battle. I get wrapped into the narration which to me signifies both a good story and a delivery that keeps the reader focused on the characters and action with no negative distractions from the reading.
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