Audiobook Reviews: Diamonds and Cole by Michael Maxwell

Introduction:

I’ve had the privilege of listening to a lot of audiobooks of late, and I’ll say that this is one of the most compelling of the lot for large sections. The narrator fits the role very well. I have a few content reservations, but overall, the hours slipped by swiftly while listening to this.

Summary:

Cole Sage gets a call from an old flame and goes flying to her side. There, he finds her languishing in a nursing home with a couple of huge favors to ask of him. From there, Ellie and Cole’s story unfolds in detail. To him, she’s the one that got away, the one he walked away from because his career sang a siren song.

Why I have slightly mixed feelings:

  • There are some events in here that I find disturbing. They show a cruel streak in our hero. In one sense, it fleshes Cole out and gives him a few flaws, but in another sense, it just makes him look like a petty jerk. That’s not cool. I want to be able to root for the good guy always.
  • It’s categorized as a mystery, but it’s probably 30% mystery with 70% romance done in flashbacks. For once, the flashbacks are done very well. Cole has some downtime at various points in the book so he thinks and dreams about times with Ellie.
  • Ellie and Erin are decent characters, but again, choices are made along the way that cast them in a less flattering light.
  • I heard the audio performance by Lou Hecker. For the most part, it’s a stellar performance. Unfortunately, there are times he did his job too well. The few times he was doing a TV like preacher set my teeth on edge by being both loud and 130% annoying. There was one slight editing mistake in the almost 8 hour narrative.
  • Content warnings: some strong language; a disturbing/crude image within the first few pages. Aside from those though, it was fairly clean compared to the grand scope of modern mysteries.

What I liked:

  • The twist at the end is highly predictable but also satisfying.
  • I loved the narrator.
  • The story of Cole’s relationship with Ellie unfolds in a series of flashbacks. It’s filled with regret but beautiful all the same. I loved how he flew to her side and becomes her knight in tarnished armor. He might not be perfect but at least he’s willing to stand up for his friend.
  • The characters in here are quite interesting, flaws and all.
  • I liked the FBI guy – Ferguson (sorry about spelling, I heard the audio).
  • Aside from the few spots mentioned above, it’s an easy to listen to narrative.
  • Cole’s the kind of guy you can see getting in to a lot of trouble.

Conclusion:

This is only the first in a long series of books about the title character. If the opportunity arose again, I’d probably pick up another and see what’s up in Cole’s life.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

 

Audiobook Reviews: The King’s Trap by Peter Meredith

Introduction:

This is a beautifully performed high fantasy story about a prince trying to regain his throne.

Summary:

Erieden fights for his throne, Ella tries to find her mother, and battles are found all over the place. This is definitely high fantasy – elves, dwarves, goblins, maug (?? sorry, I might not be spelling that right since I heard the audio version), etc.

Additional Comments:

– I have not read book 1 in the series. Although I think it would be better to have read book 1, one can follow the events easily enough.
– The story itself was okay. It meanders all over the place and the romance seems either forced or ridiculous (ie. everybody’s falling all over themselves to love Erieden).
– The world-building is fine, but most of the “honor is everything” gets old pretty quickly. You just want to reach in and smack some sense into people.
– The bad guy doesn’t seem to have much of a motive besides “destroy everything b/c I hate everybody who’s not me”. Maybe that was explained more in book one.

– Switching back and forth between the Hidden Land and America was odd.
– This is high fantasy but there wasn’t much of an emphasis on the dwarves or elves.

  • Prejudice swings pretty hard in the book, especially with one of the MC’s at the end of the story. It seems silly.
  • Ella’s okay, but the quest to find her mother seemed a tad useless.

Content Warning:

  • Battle descriptions are gruesome but very well-handled both in the writing and the performance.
  • strong language
  • There are some awesome reversals at the end of the book.

What I loved:

– I listened to the audiobook narration by Tom Adams. He’s perfect for the story.
– Characters – Whip-whip is adorable. The effect for the fairy voices was neat.

Conclusion:

Excellent performance of an intricate story.

 

Special Treat:

If you want the chance to get the book on audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Audiobook Reviews: Earth-Sim: Escapades in Planetary Management By Jade Kerrion

Introduction:

This is a very unique look at Earth’s history wrapped in a short story about a girl with a secret.

Summary:

Jem Moran and Kir Davos participate in the world simulation program which sets clueless college and grad students in charge of planets. (It’s like risk on the galactic scale.)

 

What is Earth-Sim?

– Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s got an interesting premise: Every major disaster/event to touch Earth has an explanation in the incompetence and/or the moral decisions made by neophyte planetary managers or mishaps caused by letting a 5 year old boy near the planet.

– It’s almost like two stories though. Earth-sim is 80% philosophical discussion between Jem and Kir and 20% other plot that I can’t talk about too much without giving spoilers.

– The philosophical discussion piece could have been a hilarious short story. Not being a particular fan of philosophy though, the length of those discussions was on the long side to me.

– Content warnings: There are a few curse words scattered about.

  • I also love the ebook cover. The audiobook cover’s okay but not as pretty as the ebook one.

Bothersome Wiki quotes…

– The frequent Wikipedia quotes bothered me. Here you have a book about an advanced civilization and the inspirational and informational quotes at the beginning chapters come from arguably the weakest online source.

What I enjoyed

  • I was torn on the inclusion of the 20% other plot. Everything ties together nicely in the end, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. There are enough openings to set up a sequel but I’m not sure how that would tie back to the Earth-sim project. Jem’s secret is a quite significant. It adds a totally different dimension to the story.
  • There are enough references to history and geek stuff to keep it funny: origin of Superman, Atlantis, loch ness monster, tower of babel, the flood, etc. It’s like watching a movie for the Easter eggs.
  • The narration was handled well.

 

Conclusion:

A quirky look at planetary history wrapped in a scifi short story about a girl with a secret to protect.

Special Treat:

If you want to get the book on audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Awesome Audiobooks: Aranya by Marc Secchia

Introduction:

It’s been a while since I’ve heard a story like this. Don’t think I’ve ever come across the notion of Shapeshifter dragons, but Marc Secchia does a lovely job fleshing the concept out. The story’s on the long side, but it’s got fantastic world-building, great characters, and decent descriptions. I love, love, love this narrator. I’m super picky, so that’s saying a lot.

Summary:

Aranya goes from exiled princess to shapeshifter dragon.

Additional Comments:

– Content warnings: It’s a very enjoyable story with stellar narration, but this is not for children. I’d place it in the 14+ range. I’ve never seen so many references to nudity w/o there being a sexual connotation. (It’s mixed in with the rules of being a shapeshifter.) There’s mention of harsh torture. There are also a few curses.

– I love the narrator’s voice. The performance itself wasn’t flawless, but it was very, very good. (Some spots had the sound drop off oddly. Others, I think the character accents shifted about a bit.)

– It’s long; 14 hr 22 minutes as an audiobook. I get it, most fantasy books are long, but this one definitely could have been even stronger if it weren’t prone to quite so many meandering plot pts. For example, the big, long journey at the end didn’t add much. I think it went on for about 45 minutes or more and the basic gist was “it was a long, hard journey.”

– Character development is good, though I’m guessing some may think it clichéd.

 

What’s not to love:

  • Must every fantasy book use the word incorrigible? (It’s bothersome.)
  • Did I mention it’s long? It does have some pacing issues, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s a pretty mild complaint, esp in light of the fact that the narrator could make a dictionary sound awesome.

What’s to love:

  • Shapeshifter dragons! (awesome concept)
  • great world-building
  • evil empire/outnumbered good guys
  • Zip (some of her sass is hilarious)
  • end battle was sweet

Conclusion:

Overall – excellent dragon tale that will delight fantasy fans.

 

Special Treat:

If you want to get the book on audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Audiobook Reviews: Story Keeping: The Night I became a Hero by AR Marshall

Introduction:

I really am expanding my reading these days. A while ago, I’d done a series of reviews on Carol P. Roman’s “If you were me and lived in __” series. I think I also reviewed a picture book about bugs. Other than that, it’s been some time. These days, I tend to be more of a murder, mystery, and mayhem kinda gal. This series is more the “enjoy with your kids” sort of thing.

Summary:

A lovely introduction to a children’s series. Riles and his siblings find much more than words within the pages of a book their grandfather reads to them.

Additional Comments:

– I am not the target audience, but I can see the merits of a story like this. It’s got great imagination.
– I heard the audio version. The author did an admirable job bringing the story to life.
– It’s clearly the beginning of a series. The end spends more time setting up the next story than wrapping up this one, but it’s satisfying enough.
– The premise of being able to interact with stories is very cool. I’m sure it will appeal to many children.
– The cover is charming too.

Conclusion:

Short, intriguing tale for children.

Special Treat:

If you want to get the book on audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Awesome Audiobooks – Tea and Dark Chocolate by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Introduction:

I haven’t read too many books of short stories or humorous stories, but I think I may have been missing out. Flash fiction has never really been my thing, but this was a fun introduction. It’s full of twisted versions of the familiar. The author has a way of personifying objects that makes for delightful listening. The narrator did a lovely job. Took me a moment to get used to her accent, but it definitely fit the work well.

What is Tea and Dark Chocolate?

  • This is a charming collection of random. It’s filled with original short stories and a few twists of familiar tales.
  • I especially loved Mr. Dumpty’s interview with the psychologist.
  • The narrator does a lovely job with the haughty cat attitudes.
  • It’s relatively short for an audiobook.
  • The author has a great imagination.

Conclusion:

Highly recommended. This book will be featured in the May 7, 2017 edition of Audiobook Edge.

 

 

Special Treat:

If you want to get the book on audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Audiobook Reviews: Dragon’s Future by Kandi J. Wyatt

Introduction:

I’ve probably read 5 stories that have dragons in them in my life. Conclusion = dragons are cool.

Summary:

This is a story about dragons and the people who ride them. The dragon population is dwindling. If nothing’s done, the entire colony could cease to exist.

 

Additional Comments:

– It took me a while to get into the story, but the end fits well and is awesome. There’s a lot of setup that needs to happen.

– The names were a tad difficult to follow in audio format. Ruskya and Duskya, Kyn, Wynn (spelling??), etc. It was hard to keep straight who was a dragon and who was a human. I feel like seeing the words would have made that easier somehow. At least there was also a Carol.

  • It’s a series, so I think some of this will be explained in future books.

– The performance was okay. The narrator was good but didn’t have a great range of characters so it was difficult to delineate who was speaking based on voice alone.

– Duskya could have had more page time, but for the most part, there’s decent balance between who gets to be in what scene.

Pros:

– There are a lot of things to love in here: dragons!, the ability to ride them, mental connections, twin bonds, bad guys, and a ton of great characters. (Yes, distinguishing could be difficult, but there were a ton of people who were so down to earth. You just want to spend an afternoon getting to know them.)

– I think the story’s aimed at the middle grade audience, so even though there’s violence you’ll find it scrubbed fairly well.

 

Conclusion:

This is the type of story that would be good on a long car ride. It’s something to share with younger children. If you love dragons, you won’t want to miss Dragon’s Future.

 

Special Treat:

Please note that this book is permafree. You can grab a copy for FREE. Add the audio version at a discount after that. If you want the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Audiobook Reviews: Swept Up by Kayla Dawn Thomas

Introduction:

I don’t generally read romance so I can’t compare it to tons of other books. That said, I thought it was pretty good.

Summary:

This is a complicated book. Webster Baker and Kara Deleray meet in a very unusual way and their relationship stays cool, then rocky for a while.

Additional Comments:

– The beginning could be seen as the adventures of Web picks up the pieces of Kara. Every couple meets some way. Web almost runs over Kara with his street sweeper. The introduction of Web takes quite a bit but it’s worth it.
– Kara’s relationship with Darren didn’t exactly put her in a flattering light. Some people are probably going to have issues with her being a professor and him being a grad student.
– Romance isn’t a genre I necessarily gravitate to. That said, I’d categorize it as mild/medium heat level. It wouldn’t land on a “clean” fiction list, but the physical side of the relationship is handled with care.

– I didn’t care for the way Kara’s family was portrayed, (ie. that Christian = judgmental) but there are mitigating circumstances explained later in the story. She was a realistically flawed character.
– A plot point or two could be considered the “expected unexpected” but it works here. You’ll probably find yourself rooting for the couple.

Pros:

– The author includes some pretty heavy-hitting topics. (Alcoholism, need for love/acceptance, mental illness and it’s effects on family, etc.) All of these are also handled with relative grace.
– The main character’s struggle with alcohol is genuine, but I personally got annoyed at her a few times. This tells me that the author has some skill at creating realistic characters. Web’s a little too saint-like to be realistic, but I think that’s fitting. He’s not quite knight-in-shining-armor status, but he’s up there.
– I heard the audiobook. The narrator wasn’t my favorite, but she does a hands-down awesome job at male voices. (It might be the best I’ve ever heard from a female narrator.)
– My favorite scene by far is at the cowboy bar.

Conclusion:

Kara and Web’s journey together is a worthwhile one to watch if you enjoy romance stories.

 

Special Offer:

If you want the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge. Note, this will not be featured on the main list but it is available in the Matchmaker Program.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Awesome Audiobooks – Hide and Seek by Amy Shojai

For all who love audiobooks …

Welcome to this series of reviews. Since starting Audiobook Edge, I have had the privilege of listening to a slew of wonderful audiobooks. I’m eager to share them with you. These are the books that will be available to you – the reader courtesy of the author or in some cases, the narrator. In this case, that applies to both since the author did the narrator herself.

*I will do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum*

Summary:

September Day’s got a past that’s catching up in a dangerous way.

Random Comments:

– I’ve not read or heard the first in the series.

– There are a few sections in here from Shadow’s (the dog) pov. I’d become familiar with the author’s penchant for such things through her Kindle Worlds story, Born to Love, so it fit fine. It adds a charming element to the work.

– Much of the story is grim as there’s clearly a stalker at work. But there are enough other sideplots to keep it light.

– The narration was decent. I’m super picky about such things and I’ve heard a lot of audios, so I could hear where some of the edit pts weren’t completely clean. They were few enough and far enough between to keep from interfering with the entertainment value.

– There was quite a bit of setup. Things were tied together in the end, but it’s on the long side, so expect to need to wade in to get the full value out of the work.

– The cover makes more sense once the story’s done. I love when that happens.

– There are some authors you would never want to be a character for … this is certainly true for Ms. Shojai. Poor September.

Conclusion:

A great addition to the world of audiobooks. This can be read/listened to without having heard the first, though I’m sure that there’s an added layer of enjoyment for fans familiar with the series already. Check this one out.

Special Treat:

If you want the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge. This book will appear in the May 7, 2017 edition of the program.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

Audiobook Edge Matchmaker Program – for Readers

Introduction:

I’d like to introduce you to an exciting new opportunity within Audiobook Edge. You can see the full post on that at this blog post. I’m starting a Matchmaker Program. If you’re not a member yet, that’s cool, there’s a direct link below for you to join if it sounds like something you’d enjoy. Long and short of AE – Readers get free/discounted audiobooks.

Pros:

  • Access to many more genres. A book might be “rejected” from the normal Audiobook Edge list for one of several reasons: wrong genre (large list aimed at mystery, thriller, scifi, and fantasy), too much violence, sex, or strong language, too long, etc. Genres I hope to add through this: nonfiction, contemporary romance, historical fiction, and slightly darker mysteries.
  • You get a much better chance of grabbing the audiobook. (competition for it will be much smaller) I will only be sending matchmaker emails to 1-5 people at a time for any particular title.

Details:

  • Most of these books will be those “rejected” from the standard Audiobook Edge list as that will be highly focused on mystery, scifi, thriller, and some YA appropriate fantasy. I will try to be as clear as possible about what you’re getting.
  • That said, I will not have read these books, so it will be based on a proposal from the author. I cannot guarantee that you will love every book I send. The success of a match will depend largely on how well you fill out the interest survey. (Be as thorough and clear about your preferences as possible.)
  • I will still not represent several very dark genres. (ie. erotica, dark horror)

Fine Print:

  • This will involve way more email communication between you and me and you and the author I match you with. As such, you must grant me permission to use the public email address for this purpose. (Consent is implied in your application to this program.) I will not sell your email address to anybody. You will be working through me. The decision to contact the author after you see the pitch is completely yours.
  • You must apply for this. I’m looking for people who love authors, can communicate well, and will review the audiobook if they happen to enjoy it. All readers are welcome to the larger list, but the authors are paying a small fee for this program, so I want to be sure they have a good experience.
  • I reserve the right to remove you from Matchmaker if too many authors report poor experiences. (This is meant to be a great experience for everybody.  If it’s just not working out, it’s best just to part ways.)

Questions and comments may be directed to me at devyaschildren @gmail.com.

Not a part of Audiobook Edge yet? No problem. Go to this page to sign up.