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Madison, WI, United States
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  • Black Marks

  • By: Pete Aldin
  • Narrated by: Travis Baldree
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

No good deed goes unpunished. Detroit is a hole where even a werewolf's sins can be buried. Or so Jake Brennan hopes. Hiding from his hunters, shooting heroin to negate the effect of the full moon, he is beginning to turn things around. And the day he is witness to a brutal attack on ER doctor Gwen Cheevey, Jake is forced to transform into something new: a hero. But when a clip of his good deed goes viral, Jake's days of hiding are over. To keep Gwen safe, Jake will need to embrace the beast within.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Black Marks Absolved

  • By Spooky Mike on 05-16-18

Transient Werewolf Do Gooder

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Black Marks takes the werewolf story and adds something new to it. Sure, not many people want to turn into a raging beast and rip up anyone within a mile’s radius every full moon and Jake Brennan is doing his best to avoid that…. with illegal street drugs. Yep, Detroit is a tough place for this down and out werewolf. He only uses for the 3 days of the full (and near full) moon. The rest of the month he’s clean but unemployed and bumming it around. Sometimes he can find a bit of day labor, perhaps stay a shelter for longer than a week, but he’s constantly worried he will hurt someone when that time of the month comes around.

He’s also being hunted and that means he doesn’t want to get too friendly or have his name on utilities, etc. Then one day he witnesses some men trying to kidnap a woman (Gwen, an ER doctor) right off the street and he has to intervene. This gets him noticed by too many people, including the Hunters.

Most of the time I really liked Jake. He’s got an honor code even though he’s rubbing shoulders with some shady people. He’s a bit socially awkward which is fine. There’s a few scenes where he’s really hung up on making his dead mom proud. He carries around her broach and wants to do enough good to balance out the few bad deeds he’s done (while he was a werewolf) because he wants to see his mom in Heaven. Those felt awkward and almost like a child’s fairy tale he kept telling himself over and over again. In those moments, I did wonder if Jake had a learning disability or something but could never get a solid read on that.

Gwen was a good addition to the tale. She’s got a career and her own life that gets messy when Jake saves her from being kidnapped. She’s in a good position to help but will she? Ethics get in the way when Jake asks for epi pens (which also help him control his wolfy side) as Gwen has no idea about his inner wolf. But one thing leads to another and pretty soon there is some romance between the two. Sometimes I felt that Gwen was having drama just to have drama and it didn’t fit very well with her ER doctor training.

The Hunters are mixed bag. One guy has a legitimate issue with Jake, though both men are ignorant of one very important fact. Once that fact becomes known, it’s a game changer for both Jake and this Hunter. I really liked this aspect of the story because it created a lot of tension and suspense. There’s the danger to Jake but also I wanted to see if these two honorable men could both come out a live and not enemies.

Over all, it was good addition to the werewolf subgenre of books. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Travis Baldree did a very good job narrating this book. He has the perfect gravelly, shy voice for Jake. I also liked his female voices, including Gwen. Baldree used regional accents (such as the Detroit accent) to give each character a distinct voice. In many ways, Jake is the most emotional person in this story and Baldree brought those emotions to life with his performance. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • The Trapped Mind Project

  • Emerilia, Book 1
  • By: Michael Chatfield
  • Narrated by: Tristan Morris
  • Length: 18 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,356
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,275
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,276

Austin Zane leaves behind his CEO position with RB Corp to play Dave, a half-dwarf in the virtual reality game Emerilia, trying to escape his life. What Dave doesn't know is that Earth as he knows it is really a virtual reality simulation and Emerilia is a world imbued with futuristic technologies to mimic early MMORPGs.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the Top Five LitRPG Stories

  • By Don Gilbert on 03-05-18

Epic Battle Scene Lit-RBG style

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

I’m becoming a fan of Lit-RBG and I have to put The Trapped Mind Project on my favorite Lit RBG list.

The novel is built around the fact that our reality is really a game and the MMORPG game Emerilia, is the reality. This is a great idea and not unlike The Matrix.

After finishing this audiobook, my first thought was Michael Chatfield knows how to write an epic battle scene. My mind’s eye saw how large the battle was and how difficult the fighting was. Chatfield writes the battle from several POV’s and what was so well done was that some of those characters aren’t heroic figures. Although some of them were not likable, the listener sees how they can still be courageous and succeed. I actually cried a little at the end that’s how invested I was in some of the NPC’s.

The player Dave, evolves his character by using all of his skills rather than just leveling up specific fighting skills. Because he doesn’t just start killing every NPC he sees, he begins to interact with the NPC’s in Emerilia and forges real friendships with them. I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who loves Lit-RBG’s.

That being said, I have some observations. The writing could have used a bit more time or more editing. There is a lot of rehashing previous scenes and happenings as if the reader/listener needed reminding. It’s almost as if The Trapped Mind Project was originally supposed to be several different books. The dialogue between the characters is a bit repetitive at times. That and Dave’s stats being repeated fairly regularly, I found my mind wandering and I had to back up a ways and start listening again. The writing is a bit unpolished but it is still a great book and I already requested to review the second in the Emerilia series.

Narration: Tristan Morris does a great job and I am happy to see that he narrates the other Emerilia audiobooks as well. He did some accents and subtle voice changes just enough that you can tell it’s a different character but not to the point it’s distracting. His demon minion voice is awesome! I was reminded of Mark Hamill’s evil voice.

Occasionally I’ll run into an audiobook that I have to force myself to listen to the narrator until I get used to their style. There was none of that with Morris. From the get-go, I forgot I was being narrated to and just saw the world Chatfield created.

I caught one production error – around 6:21:50 one sentence is repeated.
Note: There is profanity and sexual situations in The Trapped Mind.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen

  • Steampunk Fairy Tales
  • By: Melanie Karsak
  • Narrated by: Lesley Parkin
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

When actress Elyse McKenna fell in love with Lord John Waldegrave, she was prepared to keep their liaison secret. What she wasn't ready for was how her newfound love would rock her relationship with her dearest friend, Doctor Kai Murray. With the 1814 London Frost Fair in full swing, Elyse and her troupe at the Ice House Theatre find themselves at the heart of the excitement on the frozen Thames. But when an exotic ship captain, whose vessel is trapped in the ice, turns her attention to Kai, everything Elyse thought she knew about her feelings for her old friend gets flipped upside down.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Elements of Shakespeare and Steampunk

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 10-05-18

Elements of Shakespeare and Steampunk

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

This is a retelling of the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. In London, there are two upstairs apartments that share a flower box. One apartment was where Kai Murray lived with his grandmother and the other is where Elyse McKenna lived with her grandmother. The two children grow up this way and become close friends. Kai becomes a doctor and Elyse, an actress. As they still live in the same apartments, their friendship has become even stronger.

I didn’t see a lot of steampunk elements in Ice and Embers. Yes, it was set in 1814 London, however, the tinkers, Mr. Hawking and his daughter Isabelle, who have their own fairytale Beauty and the Beastly, were the only characters that seem to fall into the steampunk category. Now the story definitely has an enjoyable Midsummer Night’s Dream vibe to it which happens to be one of the plays Elyse is performing with her troupe during the Frost Fair (I love the title change her troupe gives it). I also like that Karsak told the Cinder Girl story as it was originally written and not the sweet Disney version. The frozen ships stuck in the iced-over Thames was a beautiful setting for the audiobook. The novelty of a Frost Fair and theatre being directly on that ice makes for the perfect backdrop symbolizing the fragility and magic of falling in love.

I had a difficult time sympathizing with Elyse but that could be because the Midsummer Night Dream romance plot was being mirrored in her heart and life, poor thing. Dr. Kai’s life was also turned upside down much like his character in Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen. I didn’t dislike the audiobook, but I think I was expecting more steampunk devices. I must say I enjoyed seeing how Midsummer Night Dream and Snow Queen overlapped. Just looking for those moments, kept my mind engaged and interested. I ended up listening to the entire audiobook in one sitting.

The narration by Lesley Parkin is spot on. She brought so many characters to life with her ample range of dialects. Her male voices take some getting used to. I found them more distinct when she used regional and social dialects rather than just deepening her voice. She and Karsak are such a wonderful combination. I hope Parkin narrates Karsak’s upcoming Steampunk Rapunzel.

There is some description of nudity and scenes that imply sex took place so I wouldn’t say this is for children. In truth, many fairytales aren’t rated G. The real Cinderella story is pretty gory in parts.

This is a beautifully written story with an HPE.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • The Black Shriving

  • By: Phil Tucker
  • Narrated by: Noah Michael Levine
  • Length: 16 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 222
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 221

After a harrowing battle Lady Kyferin and her stalwart followers have earned themselves a brief respite from Lord Laur's fury. They know, however, that the next assault will be impossible to resist. Their sole hope of survival lies in forging an alliance with the only force capable of resisting the empire's might: the Agerastian heretics themselves.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • very fun listen

  • By RobT on 10-09-17

May cause Facial Twitches!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

I don’t even know where to start with this book. Yet another stunning listen from Phil Tucker and Noah Michael Levine. As I was listening to this book, I caught myself mimicking some of the facial expressions in the book because I was so into it. The only issue I had with the last book was taken care of quickly and my two favorite characters got some amazing screen time in this one. Audsley definitely came into his own and became way more than just that scholar in the back who was too scared to even talk most of the time and I have to say that I really enjoyed his character arc. Likewise, Therok got a lot of time as well and his storyline is just…. enchanting. He goes through so many things that I wish I could talk about but I can’t without getting too spoilery.

I was kind of expecting this one to be more of the same, but Mr. Tucker did it again and just tore asunder my expectations. Some of the chapters seemed a bit off balance, but the way that every chapter left off with a cliffhanger, all the new places in the book, and the rapidly unraveling ideas behind ascension, this book just kept me coming back. I was also quite pleased to see Ser Tiron do something other than glower and yell at everything that moves. He is actually becoming a fleshed out character.

The “Sin Casters” AKA “Flame Walkers” are slowly turning in to my favorite group in the series and I’m just absolutely dying to see how things develop for them in the next book. Nothing quite like binding demons every so often to keep the body young and the skin fresh!

As far as Noah Michael Levine is concerned, I don’t know what I can say about him that I didn’t say in my review for the first book… Fantastic narrator! His many voices definitely keep the story from getting confusing, as it often does in audiobooks, and he just has that right tone of voice to really engross you into the story. Probably my favorite narrator by this point, right up there with Wil Wheaton.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Bombshell: An Ava Romantic Mystery

  • What Doesn't Kill You, Book 9
  • By: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
  • Narrated by: Chanté McCormick
  • Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11

A musical career in the making. A murdered childhood friend. One chance to catch the killer. Ava dreams of building a better life for her daughter through her island pop songs. Her new temp job leads to a once-in-a-lifetime shot at a record deal, but before she can pack her bags for New York, she discovers a dead body outside her office building. Horrified, Ava recognizes the murdered sex worker as her childhood friend. The single mother finds herself torn between pursuing her life’s passion or justice for her murdered friend. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyed the Narration

  • By BookLover on 07-13-18

Sassy Female Sleuth in the Carribean

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Bombshell is the ninth book in the “What Doesn’t Kill You” romantic mystery series by Pamela Fagan Hutchins and also the first book of three with Ava Butler as the main character. Ava is a single Mum who has returned to the Carribean island of St. Marcos after breaking up with a boy-friend in the States. She is now living with her parents, working a temp job, and singing in bars at night. When she comes across the body of a murdered woman, who she recognizes from her childhood, Ava becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery.

The premise of this sounded really exciting and I enjoyed the unique Caribbean island setting. The mystery aspects were intriguing and the plot quite complex. My problem was the protagonist. Bombshell is presented from Ava’s first-person point of view. I don’t usually need likable characters to enjoy a story but I found Ava very difficult to warm up to. She came across as extremely self-centered, was using people, and treating everyone rather badly. I know she’s meant to be this sassy, sexy, and outwardly confident woman, but a lot of her behavior rubbed me the wrong way.

I haven’t listened to any of the other books in this series. This worked fine as a standalone, although there were a couple of instances where I thought I would have probably felt more engaged if I had further background information on some of the characters and their history with each other.

This was a fantastic book to devour in audio format. Ava regularly switches from Carribean dialect to American, and the narrator, Chanté McCormick, absolutely killed it with her superb reading. She enhanced the story to no end with her wonderful changes of accents and her wide range of voices. She made a rather average story into an enjoyable listening experience for me.

So while Ava certainly stands out from other heroines in romantic mysteries, which was good, my dislike for her ultimately made it difficult to care about her or become fully invested in the plot. Bombshell is advertised as a romantic mystery, but I wouldn’t really describe anything that happened as particularly romantic.

Overall, this was ok, but I’m not sure I want to spend any more time with Ava. However, I would certainly want to listen to Chanté McCormick again.

There were no issues with the production of the audio.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Day of the Flying Pot Roast

  • The Absurd Adventures of Monkey, Puppy, and Lion
  • By: Nick Stockton
  • Narrated by: Carole Smith
  • Length: 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Monkey, Puppy, and Lion live in a treehouse in their nine-year-old friend Pete's backyard. They don't always know the right thing to do, so they do what they can, which isn't always the best thing to do! Hear about their adventures trying to sneak food from Pete's house, running around in plain sight, and getting into trouble!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lovable Adventure Story

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 10-05-18

Lovable Adventure Story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

The Day of the Flying Pot Roast: The Absurd Adventures of Monkey, Puppy, and Lion written by Nick Stockton. The narration is provided by Carole Smith. The Day of the Fly Pot Roast is the first audiobook in Author Nick Stockton’s Children’s series Absurd Adventures of Monkey, Puppy, and Lion. Monkey, Puppy, and Lion live in a tree house in their nine-year-old friend Pete’s backyard in Washington, D.C.

Pete has a vivid imagination and can talk with Monkey but does have to go to school. His Mother, Father, and Sister Lizzy are unaware of the trio of self-aware animals living in the tree house and using the house during the day as they try to act like humans. This is a really great audiobook for children and adults. There is plenty to hear to keep the listener entertained.

This story does have a short running time of 29 minutes it is focused on a younger audience. As an adult, it still held my attention the entire running time. I found this to be a very enjoyable story with lovable characters that just made the story fun. I am sure this will be something that younger kids would enjoy hearing in the car or before bed. The animals trying to act like people was truly funny.

The Monkey dialing 911 and not able to speak to the 911 dispatcher because only Pete can speak to him. This is due to Pete’s vivid imagination and Monkey forgets only Pete can hear him. This was just one of those great things to hear. The Monkey using the internet after having watched Pete’s Father was also really good at keeping the listener entertained.

The narration by Carole Smith was excellent. This is the first audio performance that I have heard from Ms. Smith but I greatly enjoy her work on this audio production. Ms. Smith really made these characters come to life in this short children’s story. Each had a unique voice and pacing. I look forward to hearing more of her work on this series. Nick Stockton published this Audiobook and the performance was crisp and clear through the entire audiobook performance the audiobook offers great production value and audio quality.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Black Market Angels

  • Fallen Angels Series, Book 2
  • By: C. Mack Lewis
  • Narrated by: John Bell
  • Length: 16 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

Private investigator Jack Fox will sweet-talk the Devil on a Sunday and kiss the Pope on a Monday - whatever it takes to get to the truth. Between his newest case involving the brutal murder of a Russian mail order bride, his 17-year-old daughter who is the poster child for anger non-management issues, and his ex-girlfriend-from-hell who is giving him an ultimatum that threatens to end in murder, Jack is pushed past his limits as he tries to keep his sanity - and catch a killer!  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • High Stakes - Thrills and Deals

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 10-05-18

High Stakes - Thrills and Deals

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Following “Gunning for Angels“, private investigator Jack Fox is back in this second installment in the Fallen Angels mystery series. If you haven’t listened to the previous book, there is enough information here to get new listeners caught up, but for a deeper understanding of the characters’ relationships, and simply because it was so much fun, I’d suggest listening to Gunning For Angels first.

In Black Market Angels, Jack is trying hard to become a better Dad to seventeen-year-old Enid, but Enid has a way of attracting trouble and her anger issues are by no means under control yet. Throw in a life-altering issue with his incarcerated ex-girlfriend, his current case of a missing Russian bride, and Jack has his work cut out for him. True to form, he takes everything that’s thrown at him with the necessary pinch of humor and ready wit. Favorite characters from the previous book, such as detective Bud Orlean with his marital and health problems, are back, and new characters are introduced. I loved the addition of Enid’s new school friends.

This is a brilliant follow-up to the first book. The plot hooks you from the beginning and the suspense and mayhem just keeps building and increasing. C. Mack Lewis takes great care with the descriptions of the Arizona setting and ensures all characters are fleshed out to make the story come fully to life. Told from multiple perspectives, it is easy to follow and thoroughly and originally plotted. Yes, there’s a lot of drama, and some over-the-top action/developments but it is all so much fun to follow and the characters are incredibly entertaining, it’s impossible to not become fully engaged in it all. The growing relationship between a fairly new, hesitant father and his troubled teenage daughter who become embroiled in some dangerously dark crimes makes this series unique.

Fortunately, John Bell is also narrating this second book. His character voices are distinctive and underline each character’s personality perfectly. His style of narration fits this type of story flawlessly. I’m already looking forward to the release of the third book. There were no issues with the production of the audiobook.

I would highly recommend this to anybody who enjoys well crafted, fast-paced crime fiction with plenty of wit and drama.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Tales of Arilland

  • Books of Arilland
  • By: Alethea Kontis
  • Narrated by: Gabrielle Baker
  • Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

In the fairy tale realm of Arilland, stories are told at children's bedsides - and not the stories you think you know. Tales of Arilland is a collection of fairy tales, presented in the magical topsy-turvy way that only Alethea Kontis can do. Discover the story of Bluebeard's first wife ("Blood From Stone"), what really happened to Snow White in those dark woods ("The Unicorn Hunter"), how dangerous the Little Mermaid might have been ("Blood and Water"), and just how far Little Red Riding Hood was willing to go ("Hero Worship").

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic Fairy Tales retold

  • By Lisa Guertin on 12-21-17

Unique take on Fairytales

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Tales of Arilland is a collection of fairy tales set in the universe of Alethea Kontis’ Arilland series and it is the first book by this author that I have partaken. I listened to it in audiobook form and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed these tales!

I believe there were 8 more “traditional” fairytales (traditional meaning that they were self-contained) and 2 excerpts from a couple of books the author had already published. Those excerpts were the last tales in this book, and although they were well written and just as beautifully performed as the others, I did not find myself enjoying them as much. I think someone who is familiar with the rest of the series would find the insights into the characters enjoyable. The rest of the stories were really engaging. They are darker than most fairy tales we hear today (closer to the Grimm style of a fairy tale), but entertaining nonetheless. Honestly, that might have been part of the charm!

The grim nature of this collection of tales seems to gear the book towards Young Adults but I love fairy tales and believe they can be for all ages! Also, based on the tone of this book, I would say that the Arilland series, in general, is written for the Young Adult population.

I particularly liked the variation in writing style. The Red Riding Hood story was told through a collection of letters, and the story was just as vibrant and bittersweet as the others. The medium gave us insight into the protagonist without clunky language (she felt, she seemed, etc).

Another story, titled Sunday, started in first-person and transitioned to third-person. The transition was a little confusing to get a grip on through the narration but after a couple of minutes, it started to make sense. (It started as a first-person diary entry, and then suddenly the story of the protagonist started in third, and eventually, the diary entry was read to someone). This framing might be a little clearer in the print version of the book, but it was difficult to follow through the audiobook narration. But, I think this might have been the only flaw in the narration.

Gabrielle Baker breathed life into these stories! Her tone, voices, everything about her seemed perfectly fitted to the fairy tales in this book. Soothing but still emotional and vibrant and evocative. I imagine this is what it’s like having your grandmother read you fairy tales before bed, but better because she is amazing. I would definitely listen to other books narrated by her!

All in all, this book was entertaining and worth the time to listen. Alethea Kontis has a great way of re-spinning fairy tales into recognizable but very different stories. Gabrielle Baker is a talented voice actor and perfectly suited for this book.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Autonomous Future

  • Autonomous Series, Volume 1
  • By: Victor Illian
  • Narrated by: Steve McCutcheon
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

When given an offer he can't refuse, software developer Lucas Trent joins Korelucent and finds a new technology far too advanced for any one corporation. He also discovers a hidden agenda so big he can't trust anyone. Enlisting the help of his Marine brother, a team forms endeavoring to stay one step ahead of Mark Holt, CEO of Korelucent. As Korelucent's new technology comes online, entire countries fall under the corporation's power. Will Lucas and his team be fast enough to stop the growing company before its control becomes too great? 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Technology Take Over

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 10-05-18

Technology Take Over

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

If you are a fan of artificial intelligence (AI) or enjoy a decent story of what such a future may look like, you might want to pick up the debut novel “Autonomous Future” by Victor Illian. It is a multifaceted tale of computers (much more powerful than a TRS-80 which the author worked on.) which includes the continued rise of self-learning and quite intelligent machines powering drones, cars, and other technology. The audiobook edition is narrated by Steve McCutcheon, who is also rather new to the narration scene. I have to admit that the book’s cover art was what first drew me to listen. I thought the premise of the story was well thought out, yet there were areas where I believed execution (both written and narration) could have been better. For two rather newcomers in their respective roles, the book was mediocre when compared to many of the other book available today in the genre. This is not to say the book was poorly written or narrated, but that does not stand out when compared it to the number of audiobooks I have listened too. I understand such a comment is quite subjective, so if you are interested, give the book a listen. If you have other books in your listening queue, you may want to pass this one by at the moment. Also, be aware that this is a series and only the first book is currently available at the time of this review.

I felt the book started out like many other coming of age stories with our main character facing the multiple pains and traumas of his childhood. However, the author does a good job of filling in the main character’s backstory by way of multiple flashbacks. I liked that the main character had depth and form, yet many of the other characters felt pasty and two dimensional. The world was well described, and it had a feeling of Blade Runner or a dystopian cyberpunk setting. You had the ever-present evil corporation holding all the power around artificial intelligence from both a software and hardware perspective. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Our main character dreams of working for such a well advanced and trusted entity, yet what he uncovers during his employment not only rocks his world but the entire world. The author includes a fair amount of action and intrigue to keep the listener hooked. Many of the issues being faced in the future are relevant and emerging technologies of today such as automated cars, drones, security appliances, etc. The term machine learning is becoming commonplace, and the story shows us a world where this gets out of control.

The book was overly verbose for me. I like books that have quite descriptive writing, but a fair amount of this book could have been reduced down to a more concise piece. I enjoy knowing what people are like by what they wear, but I do not need to know every bit of clothing being worn in each scene. Details on a character’s heels, tight dress, hairstyle, etc. is good to set the stage, but again this can be lessened or removed farther into the book once a listener is able to understand them. Secondly, the technology research seemed weak or flawed at times. I also come from a background of TRS-80s growing up and have been in the computer industry for my entire career. I just felt there were too many holes in how some of the technology was used or the terminology such as the difference between a virus, trojan, and a worm. I’m sure for most this will not an issue, but I hoped for more in this book. Thirdly, there were many placed in the book where the author always used the character’s name instead of a pronoun or other word and it seemed forced. Something like Lucas said…, Lucas then said …, Lucas next said… I like more style and flow by breaking things up a bit. Lastly, I was not a big fan of the quick changing of scenes within chapters and short chapters going right into another. I just started to get a feel for my location and action and was pulled out of this to something else. I know we live in a society of microwaves, but I like a book that knows how to do a good simmer or slow cook.

The book’s narration by Steve McCutcheon was done well overall. There were a few places where the audio volume was not consistent, but the book was manageable and enjoyable even with a few technical issues. The narrator provides more of a reading of the book than bringing it alive as some narrators are capable of doing. Again, not bad, but I have heard so many others that have done it better than I can only say that it was average. I know it is a learned skill and I believe both the narrator and the author will improve in future works.

For parents and younger readers, the book is rather clean of vulgar language, but it does contain some romance and light sexual topics. Other than that, I do not recall any other issues that my make this book targeted at more mature audiences.

In summary, the premise is solid, yet the writing and narration would be categorized as average. The book felt like a blending of a young adult coming of age with a cyberpunk feel. I thought the story was OK, but I would want future books in the series to be more complex, less verbose, and slower transitions between events. It is a good first piece, and if it sounds interesting to you, give it a listen.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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  • Tamer: King of Dinosaurs

  • By: Michael-Scott Earle
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,425
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,282
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,277

Victor Shelby ends each day wondering when his life is going to get better. His parents are dead, he struggles to pay rent, and his boss at the animal control shelter has him cleaning cages instead of working in the field. His dream of helping animals seems destined to end in a mop bucket. Then, Victor is abducted by aliens and deposited on a prehistoric world filled with hungry dinosaurs and beautiful alien women. He doesn’t know why he is here or what his purpose is, but he finds himself fighting for survival.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • If Destiny's Crucible and Jurassic park had a kid

  • By John on 02-18-18

Modern Day Tarzan with Dinosaurs

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Tamer: King of Dinosaurs by Michael Earl Scott is one of those books that really does very little in the way of plot progressive, and yet manages to maintain your attention from start to finish. Honestly, the whole series is like that, with The MC finding some alien women, fighting dinosaurs, and trying to make a safe place for himself and the ladies. That’s about it. BUT, and this is a big but, the story is so intricate, the characters are so detailed, and the setting so unique that you don’t mind that you don’t see a lot of movement towards getting things done. There really isn’t a main villain in this book, just Dinos and that says a lot since it holds your attention so well.

The story itself centers on an everyday guy who works for animal control who is sent off to corral a rattlesnake at a home. Turns out the home is owned by his high school crush, and she is hotter than ever and just so happens to be having a party that is host to a ton of half-naked babes that he can barely keep his eyes off of. To show his manliness, and impress the ladies, he snatches the snake barehanded, and as he places the snake in a container in his truck is spirited away by an unknown alien force. He finds himself on a beach with some other aliens males, and they are promptly attacked by dinosaurs. He barely survives the scuffle and flees into the woods. It is there that he is discovered by a harem of hot alien chicks whom he teams up with. That’s it, the rest would be spoilers, so I’ll stop with the recap.

The story is fast paced, and while it starts off interesting, things go from zero to sixty as soon as the MC, Victor Shelby, wakes up on the alien beach. The action is dazzling, frantic, and deadly. MSE certainly knows how to write an action scene, how to set your danger sense buzzing, and how to make your heart leap when a dino pops up out of the blue. This is sort of like Jurassic Park on Meth. Oh, and the action isn’t always life-threatening (Wait, there are parts where the sex just might be). Yeah, MSE doesn’t hold back once he’s established his Harem. Vic tries to play nice but eventually does what every guy would do when he was faced with a horny trio of babes. There isn’t a fade to black that occurs, nor can I say that it isn’t graphic. I will say that it isn’t Penthouse hard, more like a touch above a Cinemax late night show.

What can I say about Luke Daniel’s narration? I have never heard him do a mediocre performance, let alone a bad one. He is always one narrator that I can count on for an exceptional story. His sound quality is perfect, his voice is pleasant, and the voices that he provides, male, female, and alien make me think of Mel Blanc (who was known as the man of 1,000 voices but really only had about twelve that he used). Daniels paces the tale like he’d written it himself, and knows how to build tension or express complete terror. I love listening to the man.

The book does have a right proper climax, even sans an obvious villain, and we see a lot of character growth from Vic, and his bevy of babelicious beauties. In spite of minor steps being made in the first book, it is clear that the team is making progress as a family unit/tribe, in gathering things they need to survive, and in building their shelter. It might seem like they are continually spinning their wheels, but truth be told even if they were going nowhere fast this book is still one hell of a good read/listen. This is a nice break from MSE’s other books, like Destroyer, which I could not stand, but everyone kept telling me it would pick up and was really great. I never cared about one character in that first book. I connected with everyone in this novel and enjoyed every minute that I listened. I have no doubt that you, dear reader, will also enjoy this story so long as you aren’t squeamish or a complete prude. I treasure this book. You will too. This is a great start to what looks to be a fantastic series, and the best part is is that it is accessible, exciting, fun, sexy, and carries an air of danger that most books want but never achieve. This is a five star across the board book.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.
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