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 …

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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: Crossfire (Omega Group 1) by Andrea Domanski

Introduction:

Now this is my kind of story. It’s got a gifted kid with the power and destiny to save the world, a huge cast of people to support her, and a bad guy who wants to rule the world. Superpowers and secret government organizations, what’s not to love?

Summary:

Marissa discovers some intriguing powers and finds herself at the center of a much larger conflict.

 

Additional Comments:

– The flashbacks at the beginning were a tad difficult to follow. That might be because I heard the audiobook version. But once it settled into a rhythm, it was a quick, intriguing “read.”

– Marissa came across as whiny at first, but by the end, she’s pretty cool.

What I loved:

– Characters: Marin and Steve are also interesting characters. There’s a whole host of other Omega Group characters with intriguing powers. Marissa’s okay. I think she’s got a ways to go, but that’s cool.

– I enjoyed the way this story wove in Greek gods/goddesses, demigods, and amazon warriors.

– Fight scenes were excellent.

– The narrator’s performance was good.

– Once the plot settled after the flashbacks it moved forward with great speed and nice tension.

– Overall, this is an awesome YA story about a young woman just discovering her destiny.

Conclusion:

Quick, entertaining YA adventure.

 

Special Treat:

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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

 

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Movie Review: 4/5 Stars Born in China

Summary:

This is a documentary that follows a mother panda and her baby, a mother snow leopard and her two cubs, some scrappy deer-like critters, and an adolescent monkey.

Additional Comments:

  • The script got a tad silly sometimes, but the narration was done well.
  • There’s triumph and tragedy in this relatively short movie.
  • The little additional snippets provided a nice look at behind the scenes. This must have been one heck of a long, hard job.
  • I noticed how most of the movie posters are harping on the pandas, but it actually follows 4 different animal families.
  • The beginning part with the map was pretty neat.
  • Best part by far = the music. Beautiful and sweeping, it’s definitely got an Asian flare to it.

Conclusion:

I’m not typically a documentary person, but I found this enjoyable. Definitely worth seeing.

 

 

 


A Note from Spencer Hawke on Audiobooks

The following is straight from the horse’s mouth as it were …

My editor and writing “confidant” has just asked me to record an audiobook of my recently released novel, The Arrows of Islam by Spencer Hawke. We can make a lot of money on Audible.com, ACX and Amazon.com I am assured. “What am I going to do?” I ask myself.

(Not always the truth, but audiobooks are one heck of a fun journey.)

“ME?” “I am not an actor, my voice is strange, I’m not a Voice Over Artist. At most parties I don’t talk very much, unless I stiffen my resolve with a martini!”

“So what’s the problem?” you ask.
You’ve obviously never met my editor, say I.
“So?” you say.
She is not very tall, but she packs the punch of a Texan Longhorn.
“She can’t be that bad,” you assure me.
Let me put it this way, a Texas Rainbow Cactus has the prettiest flower in Springtime, but ya still don’t want to sit on one!

(So true. Words of wisdom)
My editor pairs me up with a tech-guru … Fearing my first Voice Over Audition, we email back and forth. He suggests I come to his recording studio, way the heck out of town, “Shouldn’t take more than a couple of days” says he confidently. All I can see is the face of a Las Vegas slot machine, “CaShing, CaShing, CaShing!” I can’t possibly afford that, not at least not with my voice,
“ABSURD idea…” I tell him.
My first attempt is a disaster. Techy Dude listens to my audio, “What’s all that WHITE NOISE? “White Noise?” I ask ignorantly.
“It sounds like you have a bulldozer in the recording studio.”
I didn’t want to tell him I was doing this on my iPad in my home office and the bulldozer he hears is my air conditioning unit; it’s bloody 105 degrees here!
Around and around we go. “WHITE NOISE!” his emails bellow. I furiously type back “WHAT BLOODY NOISE?!”
After many, many false trials, I wait for all the family to leave, I switch OFF my A/C (YES IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER!) I even switch off every fan in the house. I’m ready to go to my new recording studio. Then a great big pick-up hauling a trailer pulls up outside my neighbor’s yard. Her lawn mowing people have just arrived. DO you KNOW how BLOODY LOUD those things are?
(Anything is loud when you’re recording.)
The sweat is dripping down my brow, but the mowing is finished. I sneak off to my studio. It is in fact my CLOSET, a mouse hole of a room where the clothes insulate me from WHITE NOISE. I am ready with a jug of water, a rag to mop my brow, my trusty iPhone and microphone.
Two days later, I get an email back from my tech-guru, the subject line, GREAT JOB. I think to myself ‘Yeah right…” With much trepidation I read his email. “Well at least he’s not yelling at me, I think.” Across the bottom of the email is a link to his professionally engineered work of my recording.

I am BLOODY AMAZED. I love it; it’s really good. Over my years perusing headlines, I have read of all different types of “CLOSET” people. Now I have to admit I am one; I’m a Closet Voice Artist. If you ever fly over Oklahoma, the pilot might warn you of turbulence ahead, don’t worry, tis only I, practicing my lines in my sweatbox of a recording studio. But you know what? I’m having more fun than any human being has a right to.

About the Author

A love for adventure as a young boy, travel across the African continent as a young man and a brief stint in Sao Paulo fed into the over-active imagination of Spencer Hawke to produce a plethora of interesting projects. His first work, The Eyes of Athena — the first in the Ari Cohen series — is now being produced as an audiobook. From his home base in Oklahoma City, Spencer spends his days with wife, Jenny, and grandson Devon, already an avid adventurer, and is always working on his next four of five projects …
Moral of the Story:
Anybody can become a VO artist!
Spencer Hawke is one of the brave authors trying out Audiobook Edge. If you want your clean mystery, scifi, fantasy, or thriller reviewed then placed on a monthly list to readers who love audiobooks, join us on Audiobook Edge for Authors/Narrators! If you’d prefer to see loads of free audiobooks every month, check out the Reader version.

 

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:

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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.

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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:

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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

Movie Review: 4/5 Stars Logan

(I don’t own the picture.)

Introduction:

My rating on this movie may be slightly generous, but according to Rotten Tomatoes, it’s definitely fresh. It’s an action-packed. Even the kid’s fight scenes are brutal, bloody, and cool all at once. Both Huge Jackman and Dafne Keen did an amazing job with their roles. If you want to see the full who’s who in the cast, go here. The dude they got to play Dr. Rice was suitably creepy. The cast list is actually pretty long.

Content Warnings: Definitely not for kids. It contains violence and strong language in high extremes.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • An action movie like this provides many opportunities for expletives, but this movie kind of took that to the outer extremes. It seemed like 90% of Logan’s dialogue consisted of the f-bomb.
  • I didn’t really get a good sense for the main bad guy. I’m probably missing background that’s given in the comics or previous movies.

What I Liked:

  • That little girl’s at once adorable and deadly. I don’t think she even gets lines of dialogue until the last half-hour of the movie.
  • The plot’s rather simplistic, but it works. An evil company creates genetically altered children. When the program’s shut down, the doctors and nurses are ordered to kill the subjects, and of course, some have an attack of conscience. Bad guys try to contain the problem by sending overwhelming force. What’s not to love? Okay, so I’m a sucker for those sorts of plotlines.
  • I’ll admit to not keeping up very well with the X-men movies, but as far as I know, the makers stayed consistent to Logan’s character while attempting to expand him.

Conclusion:

I’m not sure it enters my “must buy and re-watch 80 times” pile, but it’s definitely worth looking up and renting once or twice.

 

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.