Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Three Nails by Michael Maxwell

4.0/5 A Snapshot Look at a Teacher’s Personal Tragedy

Summary:

A public school teacher has his whole life turned upside down by a personal tragedy.

Additional Comments:

  • Plot: It goes all over the place, but it’s really a snapshot of a guy’s life. The description pretty much tells you what’s wrong in his world. Most of the first half centers around the devastating loss of his son, Logan. However, I’m not sure how the very first scene fits in. I know it plays into his nightmares later, but I’d thought the book must be a murder mystery given the way it begins.
  • The side characters felt a little flat to me. I mean Logan’s death obviously devastates this guy, but since the reader doesn’t really get to meet him, there’s not a big emotional pull.
  • The guy works in a much tougher school than I do, but the descriptions of some of the frustrations public school teachers face are accurate, except that his first teaching assignment probably would never have happened. I think you need a special ed license to be assigned a classroom like that. At the very least, it would probably be a co-taught class, meaning there would be two teachers/witnesses supervising and instructing the students.
  • I like that the book didn’t shy away from showing the dark side of life. The things some of these kids in this guy’s classroom face are horrific, and the sad part is that even though it’s fiction, the scenarios are very realistic.

    Characters:

  • The characters are pretty well fleshed out, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the main character’s name.
  • – Not sure why it’s categorized as Christian fiction. While there is nothing offensive besides a few curse words, the main character doesn’t ring true as a Christian. His daughter who becomes a missionary – maybe – but his comments at the end sort of tell the reader he’s not sure what’s “up/out there.” I don’t think there’s a set requirement that the MC has to be a Christian to categorize the book as one, but it certainly would help.

Conclusion:

A snapshot look into a teacher’s life during one of the darkest times he faces.

 

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Audiobook Reviews: 3.5/5 Empty Threat by Danny Bell

 

Summary:

Elana Black can hop into the pages of a book and save people.

Additional Comments:

  • This is the second time I’ve seen this premise. The idea of entering stories to save characters. It’s very cool. The first time was in a children’s book.
  • First person narratives lend themselves very strongly to conveying character voice. Elena’s voice is very strong. She’s uses self-deprecating humor all over the place.
  • Plot was all over the place, but that’s to be expected in a fantasy of this nature. You’re literally hopping into and out of books.
  • The bad guys made no sense to me at certain points. (I’m told that there’s a lot of stuff in here that will be explained in future, but that doesn’t really help the stand alone work.)
  • Elana’s big end strategy doesn’t seem like it would work as described.
  • The pacing is weird. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
  • Performance was nicely handled by Whitton Frank.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of story seeds that will likely be expanded in later books of the series. I’m pretty sure that I missed quite a few things along the way. Might have been easier to pick up on in the kindle version. Not sure. I’m on an audiobook kick. If you’re looking for a quirky female character with neat powers, this is a great book for you.

Only $0.99 !

 

 

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 stars Treasure: Seed Savers by S. Smith

 

Summary:

Two siblings, Dante and Claire, go on a journey to find a place where they can be safe from an overbearing government, a place where people can grow real food without fear.

 

Additional Comments:

– The premise – that genetically altered, government sanctioned plants and processes have taken over America – is well-handled but still not very believable. The idea that all knowledge of gardening and farming is pretty much gone from the world except for some books and a few brave souls, is hard to accept, especially given the ending. I believe the part where the government wants to control everything, but I just don’t buy that these kids have 0 knowledge of things like apple trees and chickens. The internet would have to be completely gone. It’s been renamed the monitor, so it’s still there.

– Claire and Dante are believable.

– Dialogue’s good.

– Plot’s okay. It’s a little slow for my tastes, but that could be because of the recent stuff I’ve been listening to.

– I don’t get much of a sense of danger or fear for the young travelers. It unfolds like that “Everything is Awesome” song from the Lego movie. By extension, that means it will be exactly what some people are looking for, but just wasn’t “my thing.”

 

Conclusion:

An intriguing look at a future where processing food has reached uncharted heights.

 

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Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Crane by Stacey Rourke narrated by Karen Krause

 

Content warning: Language; graphic violence

(Sorry about the name spellings. I heard the audio version.)

Summary:

Ireland Crane moves to Sleepy Hollow/ Terrytown to get away from a disastrous romance. What awakens in her when she gets there is much, much worse.

 

Additional Comments:

– There’s a good deal of snark in the lines of dialogue and in the protagonist’s thoughts. It adds a much-needed lightness to an otherwise gripping but very, very grim, dark, horrific plotline.

– Content warnings: language, graphic violence

– Characters: excellent. One can truly sympathize with Ireland. Noah’s kind of a flat character, but he’s still awesome. Rip is funny, but he doesn’t play much more of a role than inept conscience.

– Although the main character’s supposed to be a school guidance counselor, she does and says some stuff that makes me doubt she’s ever been in earshot of a school.

Plot: Good but there are some leaps of logic required that have nothing to do with the fantasy side of the story.

– It’s an interesting twist on the legend of the headless horseman.

Conclusion:

If you can handle gruesome, go for it. There’s even some fun to be had in this bloody tale.

It’s one of the creepiest books I’ve heard in a long time, yet it was very, very compelling.

 

 

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 The Time Pedaler by Michael Maxwell and Tally Scully

 

Summary:

Chant Baker finds and old time machine in the basement of his parents’ shop. He uses it to visit a few key spots in history and solve a small mystery.

Additional Comments:

– It’s middle grade appropriate.

– I’m not big on time travel books in general because logic always messes with my head. They tried to address the issue of clothes a few times, but it just seemed like everywhere Chant went initially, people were very friendly and totally accepting of the fact that he appeared out of nowhere. I can see his clothes blending in well enough in the 1960’s but 1860’s?

– His family’s perfect, but that’s cool. The fact that a perfect nuclear family strikes me as abnormal is probably just a sad commentary on the state of the modern world.

– The places Chant chooses to visit do follow a certain logic, which I appreciate. (Mostly, they’re places he wants to study for history or English class.) I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t get a perfect grade even though he’d traveled back in time and witnessed the event in person because history isn’t always remembered perfectly.

– There wasn’t a real sense of danger, but that might come from the general middle grade feel than something in the plot. Probably don’t want a story like this to come across as too scary anyway.

– I hear the audio version, which was very good.

– Fun, unique premise that’s well-executed (in audio format anyway)

Conclusion:

If middle grade time travel’s something you enjoy, Chant won’t disappoint you.

 

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Audiobook Reviews: 3.45/5 Diviner’s Prophecy by Nicolette Andrews

 

Summary:

A girl gets visions of the future and finds herself at the center of dangerous political games.

Additional Comments:

  • No ending. The end is more like the end of Act 1. Large portions of the story are therefore unresolved. Some people love things that are part of a larger story. I like that too, but I like there to be a complete closure to one story arc.
  • Characters are okay. Maea’s powers are cool. She can see other people’s dreams. I love the concept.
  • I loved Princess Sabine. Her guard was kind of a stick figure until the end of the story. I like that he gained more depth later.
  • The plot kind of meandered. There’s a lot of political intrigue going on. The beginning didn’t make much sense. Johai and the lady stole her memories? Why?
  • The thing with the handsome prince didn’t seem to make much sense either. One second she’s appalled by his casual sex with a lady during a party. And the next she’s inextricably attracted to him.
  • The end twist was decently handled.
  • The cover’s gorgeous, but the woman looks way older than the main character.
  • Narration was good. I like Anna Castiglioni’s voice.

Conclusion:

The beginning of a much longer tale that doesn’t really hold up on its own, but if you’re willing to read the whole trilogy, it offers a lot of magic and political intrigue.

The e-book is a free download. Go for it.

 

 

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

 

Summary:

Charley can’t abide by the system that would condemn innocent people to certain death.

Additional Comments:

  • Typical fun dystopia. The hero’s flat but he was never meant to be more. He’s perfect. A great fighter. A High Score. A compassionate kid. His justification for everything is what they did to his brother.
  • Side characters. Only Charley’s female counterpart had any depth to her. I liked her. Sven’s development didn’t go very far. It reads like this: he was a nice guy then he saw horrors in the tower and turned into a sullen violent jerk.
  • No ending… or very little ending. There’s a giant exciting battle at the end but it doesn’t really get resolved. It might as well have ended with the big, fat “TO BE CONTINUED” sign. There’s talk of a bigger, badder, meaner threat coming and then the book just ends.
  • I probably would have given it a much higher rating for the fun premise if it had a ton more closure, but as is it reads like a part 1.
  • Narrator did a decent job.

Conclusion:

Fantastic start but doesn’t stand on its own. If you are willing to invest in the whole series, you will likely enjoy it. If you like closure to your story, it’s not for you.

 

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Julie C. Gilbert

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Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

 

4.5/5 Fame’s not what Cassidy thought it would be

Summary:

Cassidy’s stint on a hot new reality TV show, Sink or Swim, propels her into unwanted stardom and earns her a stalker. She misses the million by five points, but still winds up with more attention than she’d like.

 

Additional Comments:

  • It’s a predictable yet enjoyable story.
  • I heard the audiobook, and the narrator’s performance was very good.
  •  I like the concept of the reality TV show and the idea of stalker angle. It went on a tad longer than it truly had momentum for, but there were some interesting red herrings. It’s not really about the TV series, but that’s a neat angle.
  • Her family dynamics worked for me. Mother and father divorced amiably and a devoted kid half-brother. I enjoyed the fact that the family wasn’t picture perfect with a white picket fence.
  • The murder angle was okay, but I think it distracts from the terror caused by the stalker.
  • The gun thing was kinda dumb, but I can forgive the character under pressure some irrationality.
  • I didn’t get a big “personal trainer” vibe from Cassidy. I’m not sure the book describes her running once, though I do remember her lifting weights or something. I haven’t had a personal trainer, but I think a lot of their job is the mental piece. I would have expected some of that disciplined mindset to bleed into her thought process while dealing with the stalker.

Conclusion:

Intriguing stalker book.

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Julie C. Gilbert

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Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Hound’s Bite by E.J. Stevens

 

Summary:

Ivy Granger’s a snarky faerie princess. The main plot can be summed up in a quest to save harboursmouth from Herne the Hunter and his hounds.

Additional Comments:

– Not sure where the psychic detective part comes in since this is my first experience with the series. I’m assuming the detective bit had more to do with earlier stories. This story just has her running around the city trying to forge alliances and save the human population from a few crazy plots. There’s some mystery but very little detective work.

– The character voice Ivy has is awesome, but you gotta like snark.

Content warnings: quite a few references to adult content (lots of innuendo); quite a few curses (and a few hexes thrown in too); definite references to the occult – can’t really escape that with a book stuffed full of mythological creatures (kelpies, faeries, vampires, etc).

– Side characters are well-developed, but I think that’s to be expected in a book 5 of a series. There are references to events that happened in previous volumes, but the work feels complete enough that you can jump in here without feeling too lost. There’s an opening for more without sounding like a blatant “buy my next book” plea.

– Narrators were well-picked. It was interesting to have a male and female split the narration duties. The sound effects were okay. It didn’t bother me, but I also don’t think it enhanced it too much either.

Conclusion:

If you like your heroine’s strong and weird, Ivy Granger’s the faerie princess for you.

 

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Julie C. Gilbert

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Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Quest of the Dreamwalker by Stacy Bennett

Disclaimers: Forgive any spelling issues I heard the audiobook. And I don’t own the rights to the pic. Got it off of audible.com.

Summary:

Cara’s a dreamwalker who’s practically raised by an evil sorcerer bent on gaining immortality. Captain Mason Khourey and Archer are mercenaries who get caught up in a tangled web of danger and intrigue. (Totally was not picturing the name spelled like that.)

Additional Comments:

– The world-building is fun, but a few aspects aren’t really fleshed out. Cara’s abilities aren’t really fully realized. I think that’s probably because this is book 1 of a longer story, but still, we’re told she’s a dreamwalker and then given maybe 2 glimpses of this at at play. Could be because it’s part one of a longer story.

– The characters are great, though I will say Cara kind of got annoying. I ended up liking Falin a lot more than Cara and she came into the book like 8 hrs into the story. There were a few points when she does something massively stupid that made me raise an eyebrow, but I can understand to some extent the necessity in moving the plot forward that way. It’s just not pretty.

– Several plot points fall under “well, that’s convenient” but it’s still a very compelling story.

– The end twist is excellent. But then the book continues, opening up a new aspect to the journey, which really messes with the sense of closure that could have been had.

Content warnings: at least 2 “adult” content scenes; graphic violence and disturbing images

– The narrator’s performance worked wonders in bringing the story to life. It’s a long story, but he handled it well. The voices are distinct and pleasant to listen to.

Conclusion:

If you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely a series to snap up.

 

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Julie C. Gilbert

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