The Hands We're Given

Aces High, Jokers Wild, Book 1
Narrated by: Kirt Graves
Series: Aces High, Jokers Wild, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
4.5 out of 5 stars (41 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Sex. Drones. Rock and roll.

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That's fine with the Democratic State Force base he's been assigned to command: they don't like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.

Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life's a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you're given.

©2018 Olivia Wylie (P)2019 Olivia Wylie

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What listeners say about The Hands We're Given

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good intro, looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Wildcards!

Hmm. Well. This book is slow-going. It’s definitely more romance-centric than what I was expecting since this wasn’t actually listed under the Romance category on Audible. I was expecting more rebellion and explosions? More suspense? Instead, this is a bit more light-hearted as far as the overall plot goes. The book is fairly long, and I may not have finished it otherwise if it wasn’t for Kirt Graves’s narration. The narration is top-notch and can I just say that he does children’s voices VERY well?? He also does an English accent for one of the MCs - Kevin. Although, I will note that the story is told in third-person but only Kevin’s speaking voice adopts an English accent and the narration of the story is still done in an American one. The story is a little choppy and since I listen to audiobooks at 2x speed, I got lost a lot between scene changes where days or weeks would pass with almost no warning. This entire book is like a setup for the second book. It introduces you to the characters and the world. This is set in the not too distant future, where a select few corporations run the United States and we’ve fallen into a state where every citizen is monitored and you have the rebels living off grid, or in the “dust”, just trying to survive. There are a few unanswered questions regarding how the rebel factions can be so organized and if they were once the military and somehow got edged out by the major corporations. I’m not entirely sure how that all came together. At the heart of this story is a romance between the new commander, Aiden, and the logistics officer, Kevin. Aiden is a trans man and is anxious and new to being a commander. His first big assignment is a group of people who come from all walks of life called the Wildcards (okay, I totally still call them Wildcats because High School Musical is totally engrained into my psyche). They’re a failing group now ever since their commander Taylor died of cancer and now it’s up to a newbie like Aiden to get them back up to their previous numbers. Aiden is precious and seems to do a good job as a commander? But the story seems to skip almost all the parts where he shows real leadership and shows him just trying to figure out how to get the Wildcards to work together. A lot of his anxiety stems from him not wanting the Wildcards from finding out he’s trans. In a world where it’s normalized to be genetically modified from birth, being homosexual is a crime, and being trans especially so. He makes it work off the grid, but he’s worried because he’s seen what can happen to those who aren’t deemed “normal”. Something I love is that Aiden is never “outed” as trans because of something awful, but it’s only because he chose to tell people he’s trans. He does choose to tell Kevin his deadname, but I think that was the only time it came up. I’m not sure I’ve seen an #ownvoices review for the book yet, so I’m not sure how this book rates for trans readers but the story doesn’t seem to fall into the usual horrid tropes in stories with trans characters for what it’s worth. There are quite a few sex scenes in the back half of this book. It’s sweet how the characters ALWAYS ask for consent and I love how both Aiden and Kevin are equally awkward. This one ends with a HFN seeing as there’s a hint at bigger things to come, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Wildcards in book two. I know the text is already out, but I’ll definitely be waiting for the audiobook release!

2 people found this helpful

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Unexpected in the best way!

I had a much different expectation when I started this audio book. And it surprised me, in the best way imaginable. The thing that impressed me the most was the balance of world-building, story, and character. O.E. Tearmann had the ability to know almost exactly what I was looking for as a reader. The moment I found myself needing to know what was happening with the larger narrative, we'd move on from a quieter moment with a few characters to see where the Wildcards were at with their bigger challenges. And as soon as we'd have a chapter with the ensemble, we'd return to a smaller piece letting you get to know more about a particular character or develop a key relationship. Kevin and Tweak were my absolute favorites. It's a sense of pacing I haven't seen in some time and made this audio book one of my favorite listens this year. I also am so eager to hear where the Wildcards are headed next. Thank you!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Corporate Controlled Dystopia

While browsing a list of offered review copy books, this title caught my eye. I received a oopy, at my request. I have just finished listening to it and am now posting a voluntary review. This book centers on Aidan, new commander of the 'Wild Cards'. The 'Wild Cards' are a group of soldiers/rebels assisting in the attempt to overthrow corporate control in America. Set in a near future 2155, a war has been waging for 60 years between the corporations and the displaced US military. The book starts out giving us little bits of background information about how the corporations gained control of the country and continues filling in the gaps throughout the story. There is a secondary main story besides the sci-fi/cyberpunk elements. A significant portion of the book is devoted to a romance between Commander Aidan and the logistics officer on base, Kevin. Aidan's character is a transgender male who is still coming to terms with his body. We see how the couple navigate and explore what that means for both Aidan and Kevin. It is a thoughtfully and sensitively told story that I liked very much. The sci-fi story is not non-stop action but there are a few nice suspenseful scenes. The author has constructed some wonderfully thought-out world-building. There is a believable plot with plenty of details about how this dystopian world works under corporate control. The characters are a wide mix of personalities and backgrounds. The focus is the alternating POVs of Aidan and Kevin in this first book of the series. I'm hoping subsequent books will give some of the secondary characters their own focus. The narration by Kirt Graves is stellar. His storytelling abilities had me immersed in the story. I'll be checking out his other work, for sure. Recommended. It's well worth the time to listen.

1 person found this helpful

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The Hands were Given

This is a very intriguing read that captured me right from the start. The Characters are like a close knit family. I love how the Author has brought the characters to life and the story to fruition. Its keeps you enthralled throughout the whole Audiobook, there are twists and turns everywhere. I find the characters fascinating, I love how the main guy gets on the level of his team. This is definitely right up there with the 100 and Hunger Games. I definitely recommend. Boththe Author and the Narrator really done a fantastic job. Shauna Joesten

1 person found this helpful

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Exceptional! Destined to be an all time favorite!

O.E. Tearmann has written a terrific story. The story is strong, genuine and never falters not even for a moment. Commander Aidan Headly captures your attention immediately and your heart soon after. Trying to reunite a group of broken and battered crew while keeping himself together is a challenge he’s not sure he’s prepared for. This dystopian sci-fi romance is peppered with 1980s music references while the characters - queer, trans, gay, lesbian, damaged, traumatized, straight - are just plain humans finding faith in themselves, trust in each other while fighting for freedom for all. Kurt Graves’ narration of the audiobook is perfect. -I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I expected

The book was different thin I expected and was not my usual type of book I would chose but the writing and narration was good and kept me entertained the whole time.

1 person found this helpful

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loved it

awesome story, loved the characters. narrator does a great job bringing the story to life! definitely recommend

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it!

I loved it so much I bought the whole series on Kindle. I was enamored with the story and especially the characters. The most memorable scene for me is the Touch down scene. I always enjoy listening to this narrator. There are times I forget that I'm listening to just one person; he gives a distinct voice to each character. I especially love how he does Kevin's voice. I highly recommend it and really hoping that the next book will come out soon.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

sensitive, diverse, and engaging LGBTQIA sci fi

I loved this story. It's a science fiction dystopian story, in which we meet a small ragtag base peopled by officers and enlisted members of a political entity engaged in rebellion against a larger government/corporation that has completely taken over and controls all aspects of its members. The Big Brother-type controlling corporation is based entirely on control and profit, and have genetically engineered its children to wipe out ethnicity, disease, infirmity, and homosexuality. The citizens are wealthy and attractive, with increased intelligence and high productivity. Conformity is demanded. Rebellion means death. Those that are not corporate-raised are ostracized to live in poverty and scavenge for broken technology and struggle to find clothing and food. Our heroes are fighting to break the corporate entity and preserve free will and diversity. The story is well-written and well-plotted, with a diverse ensemble cast of characters that provided contrast to each other. The core characters (Aiden and Kevin) were very well-developed, with lots of growth and development. It was heartwarming to watch as the crew at the base deal with being assigned a new Commander, one that they initially don't respect or trust. The crew is very diverse: male and female, gay and straight, cis and transsexual, old and young, strong and weakened by trauma. Characters had a variety of personalities from nuturing to haughty to mischevious to hostile. There is high tension and a decent amount of humor. It felt like a plausible group of rebels - strong personalities and high emotions. They are a flawed but tight-knit "chosen family", living under constant attack and a goal they believe in. The book reminded me of Firefly (the TV show) and also of Becky Chambers' A Way To A Small Angry Planet. The main relationship in the story is a gay love story, with one character being transsexual. That relationship is very deftly written - full of emotional intensity and insecurity. It's tender and raw, and felt real to true life with discussion of poor coping mechanisms and dysphoria. While I appreciated the deft writing, it meant that the last third of the book is almost all about that emotional and physical journey, with lots of talking and graphic sex scenes. Despite liking the characters and their relationship, I got tired of all the kissing and sensitive soul-baring, and missed the more exciting action of the rebellion itself. The book ends with a bang fortunately, resolving tension via a high stakes heist that pulls the team together. I'm eager for the next book in the series! Tearmann has carefully crafted this book. It's not awkward in structure or plot, and the author's ability to mange tension and conflict is almost perfect. The dialogue flows naturally. The level of representation is a bit heavy-handed, but it's a welcome change to address topics of gender, sexuality, inclusion, and anxiety in a story that is also entertaining and engaging on its own merits. This dystopian tale espouses a utopian goal for what it means to be inclusively human, and gives us a fight to cheer for. I got this Audible book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

1 person found this helpful

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it's heart wrenching!

I didn’t know what to expect when I started The Hands We’re Given, a cyberpunk novel by O. E. Tearmann. The story was more intriguing and riveting than I could have imagined. Tearmann explores a futuristic world set in the 22nd century, where corporations control everything. Our heroes attempt to survive on the outskirts of civilization as “Dusters,” rebels against the corporate overlords. Aiden and Kevin, our two unlikely friends. I don’t want to spoil too much about this story (and so much is easily spoiled), but at its core, it’s a profoundly human tale, dealing with real issues and internal conflicts paralleling fights of the present. People have identities and realities which other people despise and hate. When hate directs itself at a person, it tears them apart on the inside. Their mind breaks. And Tearmann explores the raw emotional reality of people experiencing bigotry, all while placing them in a devastated world seeking a way forward. I must warn readers: the story does include a few chapters of graphic sexual content. I don’t seek out those types of stories when I read SciFi and Fantasy, but in the context of this narrative, the scenes make a lot of sense. I didn’t feel like they were included just for the sake of having sex in the narrative. They’re meaningful and portray a powerful relationship formed over many chapters. Overall, if you’re looking for a story that will push your boundaries and make you think about people through new eyes, I highly recommend The Hands We’re Given. 4.5 stars (rounded up to 5).

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  • Magnus
  • 09-08-20

Great

Great work by OE Tearmann. The world build was paced nicely and the characters where amazing to get to know. Kirt Graves was as always, a star with the narration. Will be keeping an eye out for book 2. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • miss
  • 04-26-20

fantastic

if you dont mind s bit of gay eroticism this is a fantastic audiobook. Well written by O E Tearmann and narrated by Kirt Graves xxxxx

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  • I. Fenton
  • 02-17-20

Loved it!

This is one of the best Dystopian novels I've listened to in a long time. The world building drew me in knee deep before I knew what hit me. The Characters had me laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time, and the plot line was intriguing and action packed. I want to say so much about this book and the characters I fell in love with, but don't want to give away spoilers, so I'll just give a small warning instead: if you don't like LGBTQ in your Science Fiction don't bother reading/listening to this. Though I will admit the sensitive way that aspect was woven into the story was the cherry on top of the Sundae that this book was for me. One other thing: The narrator was new to me but I loved the way he read the story and can't wait to hear other books narrated by him.

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  • Thais Dematte
  • 02-01-20

Surprised me

This audiobook surprised me. I really love dystopian novels mixed with romances, and it's so hard to find them. The mention of Aiden being a trasngender was a huge, huge plus. I did not know this would have MM in it, so I was over the roof with a MM romance surprise. The bodybuilding is really great and detailed, the characters were believable and fun. More importantly, I could connect with both MCs and the problem they were facing. Kirst Graves is truly an amazing voice actor. His voice is soothing and his pace is spot on. He was able to show all the characters emotions and create different voices for them.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-12-20

Great Read

Great book, the story line was good and the Narration was also great, can't wait for the next installment.

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  • K. Ramjohn
  • 09-28-19

I enjoyed it

This book wasn't what I expected but I have to admit I really enjoyed it. The Hands We're Given is a futuristic dystopian story about survival however it's also about romance, family and acceptance. The world building in this novel was excellent as the author was very detailed in the description. There was a diverse cast of characters who you would love long before the story ends, however it was the close knit family feeling among the characters that makes them so relatable. There was MM romance where one of the characters is transgender (born a woman) and it was very much an eye opener as the author dealt with the insecurities of the characters. In addition the author did an excellent job portraying the honest emotions in the budding relationship between the two characters and brought out the emotional side of the story. I would highly recommend this novel to all lovers of dystopian and MM romances This audiobook was narrated by Kirt Graves who did an excellent job with the story and was able to create unique, distinct voices for each of the characters. This really brought the story to life and I fully enjoyed listening to this narration.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 08-24-19

great book

Sex. Drones. Rock and roll. lots of actions enjoyed this book very much well written By: O.E. Tearmann Narrated by: Kirt Graves who brought it to life