Audiobook Review 3/5 Stars: Plain Haven (Plainly Maryland Book 1) by Susan Lantz Simpson

cover from audible

Narrated by: Amy Deuchler

Run time: 8 hrs and 46 min

Genre: Amish; mild mystery; clean reads

Summary:

After witnessing a crime, Lily Brandt becomes Hannah Kurtz (spelling?) and hides in an Amish community. Jacob got burned in the past by a woman who didn’t want to be Amish anymore.

Additional Comments:

  • Disclaimer: This is not a genre I generally read. That probably heavily influenced my feelings about the story.
  • The pacing is very, very, very slow. I don’t think there’s one stitch of action until 7 hours into the story. And even then, it’s very small amount of action.
  • Side characters are numerous and decently fleshed out.
  • I can’t tell you how many times Jacob’s blue eyes were mentioned. Well, above 12 times.
  • Similarly, there was an overabundance of mentions of cookies.
  • Esther is my favorite character. At least she spoke her mind.
  • The twists were super-predictable.
  • The song (well-sung) at the end was scary. I don’t think that was the intended effect.
  • The performance was okay. I played it at 2x. (I realize that the nuances of the performance may be lost at faster speeds.)

Summary:

If you enjoy the genre, listen to a few minutes of the sample and give it a chance.

Audiobook Promotions …

Feb Promos on Audiobook Crave.com (requires email sign in):
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry
Spirit’s Bane (Guardian Angel Files Book 1)
Kindred Spirits (Guardian Angel Files Book 2)
Violence in Vegas (Eagle Eyes Book 1)
Rescue in Reno (Eagle Eyes Book 2)
Danger in Dallas (Eagle Eyes Book 3)

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

Check out my other titles available on Audiobooks Unleashed:

Beyond Broken Pencils – contemporary, literary
Shadow Council Combo (Books 1-4)
(Alternately, the individual titles can be found on Audiobook Crave
SC 1: Money Makes it Deadlier
SC 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter
SC 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos
SC 4: Treachery Makes it Tense)

Eagle Eyes – mystery thriller

Scratched Off – mystery, thriller; FBI agent vs serial killer, more intense than Shadow Council/Eagle Eyes

Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy

The Collins Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 1, Christian mystery
The Kiverson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 2, Christian mystery
The Davidson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 3, Christian mystery

Other titles on Audiobook Crave (but buried deep):
5 Steps to Better Blurbs – for authors
Innova – Christian Dystopia
The Golden City Captives – short fantasy
Fatal Interest – short mystery/thriller

Audiobook Review 3.5/5 Stars: Death of the Kona Man by Catherine Bruns

Audiobook cover from Audible

Narrated by Amy Deuchler

Series Title: Aloha Lagoon Mysteries, Book 9

Summary:

Carrie Jorgenson is back. She has a better boyfriend situation and she landed a part in a play, so she’s at least semi on her way to fulfilling those Hollywood dreams. She’s also run across yet another body.

Additional Comments:

  • As with the last book in this series by Catherine Bruns (Death of the Big Kahuna), the dead guy is not well-loved, so it becomes a litany of who had the most reasons to off him.
  • Carrie’s an okay character. I like her slightly less in this book, but maybe that’s just because of some of the plot points. I get that there needs to be development and conflict, but the amount of times she came across as completely clueless was painful to listen to. (Everything in her life is going fine, but she’s freaking out for no good reason. While that probably makes her realistic, it also makes her super annoying.)
  • Cozy mystery stars must run a fine line between nosy bumbling citizen and clever amateur detective. Despite numerous references to Nancy Drew, I think Carrie’s landing too many times on the bumbling citizen side of that line.
  • Side characters: Keanu’s parents are a bit stock, but that’s neither here nor there. Keanu himself is still perfect. Lola’s still the bff gossip. Coral’s an interesting addition to the cast. Kona man was suitable loathsome. Was rooting for killer from the first time Kona man showed up to the inevitable.
  • Also, as before, the wrap up is a tad too cliché. Bad guy comes and gives a speech that allows the MC to live. If he’d done his job and just killed her instead of chatted about it for 10 minutes, it would have been more realistic.
  • Amy Deuchler puts in another solid performance as Carrie and company.

Conclusion:

If you enjoy a good, clean cozy mystery, this book and its predecessor (Death of the Big Kahuna) are worth trying. Read that one first though so you get to know the MC.

Audiobook Promotions …

Feb Promos on Audiobook Crave.com (requires email sign in):
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry
Spirit’s Bane (Guardian Angel Files Book 1)
Kindred Spirits (Guardian Angel Files Book 2)
Violence in Vegas (Eagle Eyes Book 1)
Rescue in Reno (Eagle Eyes Book 2)
Danger in Dallas (Eagle Eyes Book 3)

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

Check out my other titles available on Audiobooks Unleashed:

Beyond Broken Pencils – contemporary, literary
Shadow Council Combo (Books 1-4)
(Alternately, the individual titles can be found on Audiobook Crave
SC 1: Money Makes it Deadlier
SC 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter
SC 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos
SC 4: Treachery Makes it Tense)

Eagle Eyes – mystery thriller

Scratched Off – mystery, thriller; FBI agent vs serial killer, more intense than Shadow Council/Eagle Eyes

Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy

The Collins Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 1, Christian mystery
The Kiverson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 2, Christian mystery
The Davidson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 3, Christian mystery

Other titles on Audiobook Crave (but buried deep):
5 Steps to Better Blurbs – for authors
Innova – Christian Dystopia
The Golden City Captives – short fantasy
Fatal Interest – short mystery/thriller

Audiobook Review 4/5 Stars: Death of the Big Kahuna by Catherine Bruns

cover from Audible

Narrated by Amy Deuchler

Series Title: Aloha Lagoon Mysteries, Book 6

Summary:

Carrie Jorgenson has a lousy boyfriend but lands a waitress job at a little café called the Loco Moco. It’s owned by a rich jerk who gets himself knocked off. Now everybody’s under suspicion, including Carrie.

Additional Comments:

  • Series features different authors. It’s an interesting concept and probably a fun project to contribute to. Basically, I think the only thing linking the series is the locale and maybe some side characters. You can certainly experience each of the titles on their own without the others. Except the ones by Catherine Bruns here. Death of the Kona Man should be read after Death of the Big Kahuna because Carrie comes back and the events take place right after.
  • The con to doing things this way is that it’s probably up to each author to get their own book made into an audiobook, so not every one of the titles is even available through audible.
  • Carrie’s backstory is harped on a little too much, but I did enjoy the fact that it’s not a typical upbringing.
  • Typical cozy mystery fare. Hapless girl gets in trouble, can’t resist a good mystery, finds killer, gets some things settled in her life, etc.
  • Side Characters: Not going to lie here, a few of the side characters are blurring. Tad’s interesting. Keanu’s perfect. Lola? is the gossipy new bff.
  • Amy Deuchler’s performance is good. She distinguishes the various characters and settles into the first person pov well.
  • Wrapup is just okay. There’s quite a bit of info dumping at the end. Maybe that’s a cozy mystery thing I’m just not used to, but the bad guys tend to have long soliloquy type speeches wherein they layout why the MC must die, then of course get foiled somehow.
  • The recipes at the end ticked me off, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be in the minority here. Why include that in an audiobook? (I’ve included charts before…and yup, it was a mistake. People typically can’t absorb things that way – not to the point where they could use the recipe.) Unless you’ve got a stellar memory, you’re better off Googling it so you can re-check instructions and ingredients.
  • Setting: I enjoy things set in Hawaii. It’s a great mix of familiar yet exotic.

Conclusion:

If you live and breathe by cozy mysteries, give this book a shot. They’re all standalones so I can’t vouch for any of the others.

Audiobook Promotions …

Feb Promos on Audiobook Crave.com (requires email sign in):
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry
Spirit’s Bane (Guardian Angel Files Book 1)
Kindred Spirits (Guardian Angel Files Book 2)
Violence in Vegas (Eagle Eyes Book 1)
Rescue in Reno (Eagle Eyes Book 2)
Danger in Dallas (Eagle Eyes Book 3)

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

Check out my other titles available on Audiobooks Unleashed:

Beyond Broken Pencils – contemporary, literary
Shadow Council Combo (Books 1-4)
(Alternately, the individual titles can be found on Audiobook Crave
SC 1: Money Makes it Deadlier
SC 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter
SC 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos
SC 4: Treachery Makes it Tense)

Eagle Eyes – mystery thriller

Scratched Off – mystery, thriller; FBI agent vs serial killer, more intense than Shadow Council/Eagle Eyes

Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy

The Collins Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 1, Christian mystery
The Kiverson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 2, Christian mystery
The Davidson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 3, Christian mystery

Other titles on Audiobook Crave (but buried deep):
5 Steps to Better Blurbs – for authors
Innova – Christian Dystopia
The Golden City Captives – short fantasy
Fatal Interest – short mystery/thriller

Comparison of Audiobook Free Code Sites

Please Note: There are 4 main sites and 1 new one for giving away ACX audiobook free codes. (I’m not sure which work with Findaway voices’ author’s direct codes, but I know at least one that is capable.)

Disclaimer: All opinions are 100% my own. I voluntarily spent money on the sites discussed. I’ve not tried the 4th major one yet, so I cannot accurately include it in my analysis.

Introduction:

Authors and narrators who create audiobooks are often given free codes to promote the works and give them an early boost. If your book is exclusive to ACX (which is affiliated with audible), you will get 100 promotion codes for each market (US or UK). For the longest time, giving away the codes has been horribly difficult because who knows that many people who like audiobooks? Since the last quarter of 2019, several sites have sprung up to fulfill that need.

You can check each site individually for their current price charts, but I’ve found them to be pretty reasonable. ACX codes count as sales, so if you can successfully give away several codes from the ad, it will pay for itself. In my mind, that counts as a successful advertisement.

Audiobook Promo Code Sites I have tried:

https://audiobooksunleashed.com/

AudioFreebies.com
AudiobookCrave Home

The one I am just checking out now: https://getfreeaudiobooks.club/ – I submitted 5 books to this yesterday, so it’s too early to tell the effectiveness. Advantage: It’s free unless you want to have extra promo banners made. It’s also relatively newer, so it’s not clogged with 5000 titles. It takes Findaway Voices author direct titles as well as those exclusive to ACX.

The one I haven’t tried: http://freeaudiobookcodes.com/ (What I’m hearing: It’s terribly slow right now, but the owner is aware and taking steps to fix the issue. I can’t include it in my report here beyond this mention because I’ve not tried it.)

Deeper Look: Audiofreebies.com

This was the first site I tried. My experience with it may differ from yours though because I believe the site has undergone some transformations since its early days. I love the fact that you can promote an entire series at once.

What happens when somebody requests a code?

I get an automated email telling me of the request. It falls to me to email the person.

Pro: high contact with the person requesting. I can pitch my other titles and put in a plea for a review.

Con: If I get a lot of requests, that’s a lot of emailing work.

I believe there is now an option to do automated code distribution, but I have not tried it.

Deeper Look: Audiobooksunleashed.com (formerly freeaudiopromocodes.com)

Second site I checked into. This recently underwent some major changes. Customer service is best on this site.

Pros: automatic code distribution worked swell. I believe there’s now a manual option too for a small fee. Has the ability to hide (free) or bump a listing (small fee), so you can safely move titles temporarily to a different site. That means this is a great site to have in your arsenal. You can see how many codes have been redeemed and what remains. Adding books is easy.

You can hide titles temporarily if you want to try the title elsewhere.

Cons: Recent price changes make it one of the more expensive sites if you have a lot of titles. Please note that prices are subject to change. As soon as I publish this, something could shift in any of the sites. I think the premium listing rate is $45 per month for 5 titles. (That’s still reasonable, less than $10 per title and you will almost guaranteed make it back in the first few days.)

With non-manual code distribution, I have 0 contact with who gets the codes.

Deeper Look: Audiobookcrave.com

This is the most recent site I’ve tried. It’s easy to use in addition to other ones because you get direct contact with the reader.

Pros: Has the best looking (easiest to read) dashboard. I get an email every time somebody claims a code and it tells me which code is used, which is awesome because I can update my records easily. I can cross-promo.

You can remove or disable certain codes. I accidentally put the wrong codes up for a book, but it was easy enough to fix because I could mark those as claimed on that title and upload it on the correct form. As far as I know, that fix worked.

Cons: Customer service is pretty much nonexistent. Oh, they have a fancy form you can fill in, but I don’t think they’ve ever gotten back to me. To be fair, only 1-2 messages were ones I was hoping for an answer.

As far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to remove large numbers of codes or hide a title. There is a handy little form for canceling codes one at a time. If you have good records, it’s not as painful as it sounds.

General Observations for all sites used thus far:

  • Every site I’ve used has been highly effective for a few days to a week, then dropped off to near nothingness. Mixing and matching the sites and cross-promoting on follow up emails may be your best bet.

How effective are we talking?

I can typically move 25-35 codes during the ad for each title.

Why are the ads less effective after a few days?

Because your book is buried under however many new titles got listed above you. Even with genre searches, it’s likely your book is going to get buried.

  • Success of the title will vary widely based on genre. Your book is going to disappear under an avalanche of romance titles regardless of which site you hit up.
  • There’s no way for these sites that move large volumes of codes to enforce people reviewing your book. Review stats are typical (~1/10 or 15 codes claimed).
  • I except the effectiveness of these sites to go down over time as they get clogged with titles, but so far, so good. There’s also the other side, as readers know there are endless freebies out there, they’re going to become choosier about which free ones to accept. There’s only so much free time to listen to audiobooks in a day.

Conclusion:

The site that’s right for you may vary based on your exact needs. Try them all over time. I recommend a mix because although there is likely a lot of overlap between the sites, there are probably some who prefer one over another.

Random Plug for Audiobook Edge

(The authors/narrators group is on Facebook).

I run this. I don’t have a website. It’s just a mailchimp newsletter for clean audio reads. If that interests you as a reader, signup today.

The FB group is where you’d go to submit a book. It’s free. I review clean audio reads and then pitch to the newsletter crew. (I have no idea how much exposure it gives you. And I’m sure the number of requests is pretty small, but you have a guaranteed chance of getting at least my review if I like your book.)

Audiobook Promotions …

Feb Promos on Audiobook Crave.com (requires email sign in):
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry
Spirit’s Bane (Guardian Angel Files Book 1)
Kindred Spirits (Guardian Angel Files Book 2)
Violence in Vegas (Eagle Eyes Book 1)
Rescue in Reno (Eagle Eyes Book 2)
Danger in Dallas (Eagle Eyes Book 3)

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

Check out my other titles available on Audiobooks Unleashed:

Beyond Broken Pencils – contemporary, literary
Shadow Council Combo (Books 1-4)
(Alternately, the individual titles can be found on Audiobook Crave
SC 1: Money Makes it Deadlier
SC 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter
SC 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos
SC 4: Treachery Makes it Tense)

Eagle Eyes – mystery thriller

Scratched Off – mystery, thriller; FBI agent vs serial killer, more intense than Shadow Council/Eagle Eyes

Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy

The Collins Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 1, Christian mystery
The Kiverson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 2, Christian mystery
The Davidson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 3, Christian mystery

Other titles on Audiobook Crave (but buried deep):
5 Steps to Better Blurbs – for authors
Innova – Christian Dystopia
The Golden City Captives – short fantasy
Fatal Interest – short mystery/thriller

Movie Review 4/5 Stars: Birds of Prey

Promo poster for the movie

Full Title: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Starring:

Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, and Ella Jay Basco

Summary:

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) finally declares that she’s over the Joker by blowing up a place that was special to them. This removes the protection she had as Joker’s paramour. So, everybody who’s ever had a grudge against her comes after her. Meanwhile, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is trying to take over Gotham. To do so, he needs money, a lot of money. To get said money, he found a diamond with some super-secret codes etched into it. What follows is a wild ride of cool fight scenes and weirdo costumes and surprisingly, a few neat sentimental moments.

Additional Comments:

  • This isn’t the sort of movie you’re likely to see on an awards show. That said, although it kind of veers wherever the heck it wants to in terms of plot, things do work out in the end. I like that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.
  • Fight scenes are cool. I especially liked the one where she busts into the police station.
  • Narration style is kind of like Zombieland, complete with amusing, sometimes nonsensical tags for certain sections.
  • The cast works well together. They didn’t ty to make anybody overpowered. Ewan McGregor pulls off crazy dude just fine. Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) hold down the well-dressed, sleek side, while Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) lends a good cop vibe to counter the crazy of Harley Quinn. The kid, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) has her own skills but nothing you couldn’t see a toughened foster kid having.
  • I loved the awkwardness of Huntress.
  • While the movie may come across as a hot mess, the weirdo, random plot actually works, which is surprising.
  • I hand-down did not recognize Margo Robbie without the Harley Quinn makeup. I wonder how long it took them to get that face in place every day. She also channels crazy pretty well.
  • The movie passes the “entertain me” test.
  • Strong language, pervasive violence, some disturbing imagery/behavior (I can think of at least one scene in the club where Black Mask is showing his crazy).

Conclusion:

While not exactly a movie I’ll rush out to see a dozen times in theaters, I do think the big-screen experience works well, given the amount of action.

Associate links to follow…

Available Audiobooks: I have free codes for almost everything.

New Release: Kindred Spirits – Guardian Angel Files Book 2

The Shadow Council Series 1: Money Makes it Deadlier – An FBI agent gets caught up in a robbery gone wrong.

Shadow Council Book 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter – A midnight summons calls FBI Special Agent Megan Luchek into a fight for a young girl’s life.

Shadow Council Book 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos – The FBI agent gets a strange ally in the quest to prevent chaos from rocking a lot of people’s holiday season.

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Beyond Broken Pencils – Contemporary literary tale of a school shooting. Ian unleashes his inner demons on his classmates and teachers…

Scratched Off – FBI agent vs a serial killer. When Sam Kerman sets out to hunt a serial killer, he has no idea how personal the case will become.

Nonfiction:
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry – A primer for chemistry students. Breaks down concepts into simple terms. 

5 Steps to Better Blurbs – A book for writers looking to improve their book descriptions

Choices Stories Review: 4/5 Stars Bloodbound

promo pic for Blood Bound – Choices Story

Genre: Fantasy (Vampires)

Summary:

This gets lumped up there with mindless ridiculousness that manages to be fun. The premise is that you’re a hot young personal assistant for Adrian Raines, and first day on the job, you manage to discover the boss is a vampire. Welcome to a world of weird.

Additional Comments:

  • Good Guy Characters: Adrian, your boss and vampire hottie 1, struggles with his inner darkness. Lily Spencer’s your best friend and roommate. She’s the lovable geeky sort. Jax Matsuo’s leader of the clanless vampires and hottie 2. Kamilah Sayeed’s also a romance option. She’s ancient and kinda awesome.
  • Bad Guy Characters: The Baron’s a sicko even for a vampire in the world. Ferals are vampires who kinda didn’t take to the whole turning thing. Think zombies but faster and more bug-eyed.
  • History: The premium purchases tend to revolve around seeing history scenes and occasionally getting a cool outfit or a weapon. Weapons are way more tempting than outfits.
  • They managed to throw in a few balls and parties and opportunities for general debauchery.

Conclusion:

Check your brain at the door and enjoy the ridiculousness.

Audiobook Promotions …

Feb Promos on Audiobook Crave.com (requires email sign in):
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry
Spirit’s Bane (Guardian Angel Files Book 1)
Kindred Spirits (Guardian Angel Files Book 2)
Violence in Vegas (Eagle Eyes Book 1)
Rescue in Reno (Eagle Eyes Book 2)
Danger in Dallas (Eagle Eyes Book 3)

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

Check out my other titles available on Audiobooks Unleashed:

Beyond Broken Pencils – contemporary, literary
Shadow Council Combo (Books 1-4)
(Alternately, the individual titles can be found on Audiobook Crave
SC 1: Money Makes it Deadlier
SC 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter
SC 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos
SC 4: Treachery Makes it Tense)

Eagle Eyes – mystery thriller

Scratched Off – mystery, thriller; FBI agent vs serial killer, more intense than Shadow Council/Eagle Eyes

Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy

The Collins Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 1, Christian mystery
The Kiverson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 2, Christian mystery
The Davidson Case – Heartfelt Cases Book 3, Christian mystery

Other titles on Audiobook Crave (but buried deep):
5 Steps to Better Blurbs – for authors
Innova – Christian Dystopia
The Golden City Captives – short fantasy
Fatal Interest – short mystery/thriller

Choices Stories Review: 4/5 Stars: Most Wanted

promo pic for the game

Genre: Action/Thriller

Summary:

Been a while since I read this one. I believe it was one of the early Choices Stories. These days, they usually let you name the character. This round you played as either Sam, a US Marshall, or Dave, a detective.

Additional Comments:

  • Pretty sure this one was action-packed because I can remember some of the chs even though it’s probably been over a year since I finished reading this story.
  • Samantha’s a bit more bull-headed. Her investigative style is in-your-face.
  • Dave’s the nice guy. He likes to talk his way out of trouble.
  • When the chips are down, either would make a great partner to watch your back.
  • They’re after Tully, a dude with a serious mean streak who’s not afraid to kill anyone and everyone in his way.
  • They didn’t continue the series, so it probably wasn’t a huge money-maker for them.
  • The premium choices that they had on offer had more to do with seeing little glimpses into history than collecting something. Like it or not, the collection choices tend to be ones that are more tempting to spend diamonds on.
  • They left it at a bit of a cliffhanger, which is sad, but oddly, I still find the ending satisfying. That’s a rarity as I tend to hate cliffhangers with a passion.

Conclusion:

I hope they return to the storyline at some point. They’re kinda hard core into the romances, but it’s nice when they put out a pure mystery/action thriller once in a while.

Associate links to follow…

Available Audiobooks: I have free codes for almost everything.

New Release: The Shadow Council Series 1: Money Makes it Deadlier – An FBI agent gets caught up in a robbery gone wrong.

Shadow Council Book 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter – A midnight summons calls FBI Special Agent Megan Luchek into a fight for a young girl’s life.

Shadow Council Book 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos – The FBI agent gets a strange ally in the quest to prevent chaos from rocking a lot of people’s holiday season.

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Beyond Broken Pencils – Contemporary literary tale of a school shooting. Ian unleashes his inner demons on his classmates and teachers…

Scratched Off – FBI agent vs a serial killer. When Sam Kerman sets out to hunt a serial killer, he has no idea how personal the case will become.

Nonfiction:
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry – A primer for chemistry students. Breaks down concepts into simple terms. 

5 Steps to Better Blurbs – A book for writers looking to improve their book descriptions

Choices Stories Review: 4.5/5 Stars Big Sky Country

Official cover they made for the game.

Genre: Modern Drama/Romance

*Will attempt to keep spoiler free

Summary:

Having your car break down in the middle of nowhere turns out to be the best thing that could happen to you. A cowboy comes along and takes you home to his ranch, where you meet his family and all the small-town intrigue you could ever want.

Additional Comments:

  • The Oakley clan is heartwarmingly disfunctional. There’s the older brother who wants to get with the new world by selling the ranch, the younger brother who wants to save the ranch and keep it going, the grumpy father, and the niece who’s just kind of along for the ride. To be honest, it’s been a while and I don’t really remember their names, except Brooke.
  • I sometimes take a long time naming my characters based on their looks. This one didn’t take me long. I went with Danielle. She seemed the trusting, naïve but hard-working sort.
  • The book features country fairs as well as natural and unnatural disasters and hardships.
  • This story might have one of the most satisfying ends of the Choices stories to date.
  • Sometimes, I surprise myself by liking stuff I wouldn’t normally read as a traditional book. Guess it helps that these aren’t quite traditional. So many pretty pictures.
  • Don’t judge on the cover. The cover they made reads “trashy romance” but it was a good story regardless.

Conclusion:

I’m usually fairly good at avoiding spending a lot of diamonds during the play throughs, but sometimes, one must spring for the extra satisfying ending. Its not my favorite Choices story, but the small town flavor added a lot of charm.

Associate links to follow…

Note: I’m starting to use a few ad sites for audiobooks, so codes are disappearing quickly.

Available Audiobooks: I have free codes for almost everything. That will change very soon.

New Release: The Shadow Council Series 1: Money Makes it Deadlier – An FBI agent gets caught up in a robbery gone wrong.

Shadow Council Book 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter – A midnight summons calls FBI Special Agent Megan Luchek into a fight for a young girl’s life.

Shadow Council Book 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos – The FBI agent gets a strange ally in the quest to prevent chaos from rocking a lot of people’s holiday season.

Shadow Council Book 4: Treachery Makes it Tense – The agent and the assassin have to team up if they want to survive.

Shadow Council is also available as a ~13 hr bundle.

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Beyond Broken Pencils – Contemporary literary tale of a school shooting. Ian unleashes his inner demons on his classmates and teachers…

Scratched Off – FBI agent vs a serial killer. When Sam Kerman sets out to hunt a serial killer, he has no idea how personal the case will become.

Choices Stories Reviews 4.5/5 Stars: A Courtesan of Rome

Pic somebody made of the 3 characters you can be…I chose the first.

My MC was named Gina. Who’d have thought naming could be the hardest part of some of these games.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary:

The main character is a young woman captured by the Romans during the reign of Ceasar as he tries to take over the world.

Additional Comments:

  • The end kind of let me down, but I thoroughly enjoyed most of the journey.
  • Every chapter begins with a flashback scene to your time on the run with your family.
  • This book switched quite often to other perspectives, mostly the main character’s father or mother.
  • These stories can be as sweet or risky as you wish, but you’ve got to spend diamonds for the extra scenes. Not paying is sort of the abbreviated version of each story.
  • You can adopt a monkey and a greyhound dog this round.
  • Your love interests are the wife of a Roman officer, a Roman senator, and Mark Antony.
  • The main character goes through a heck of a lot in her life. There’s only one point where they really went out of the way to stretch the plot beyond the illogical point to keep the MC alive. Despite this, I really loved that scene.
  • It must have taken quite a bit of work to get the MC’s life to parallel some key points in history.

Conclusion:

Story themes include: family, seduction, and revenge. They don’t have many historical fiction stories. In fact, this might be the only one. I’ll have to check. I tend to like the stories with higher stakes than winning a dance off. Well worth reading.

Associate links to follow…

Available Audiobooks: I have free codes for almost everything.

New Release: The Shadow Council Series 1: Money Makes it Deadlier – An FBI agent gets caught up in a robbery gone wrong.

Shadow Council Book 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter – A midnight summons calls FBI Special Agent Megan Luchek into a fight for a young girl’s life.

Shadow Council Book 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos – The FBI agent gets a strange ally in the quest to prevent chaos from rocking a lot of people’s holiday season.

Shadow Council Book 4: Treachery Makes it Tense – The agent and the assassin have to team up if they want to survive.

Shadow Council is also available as a ~13 hr bundle.

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Beyond Broken Pencils – Contemporary literary tale of a school shooting. Ian unleashes his inner demons on his classmates and teachers…

Scratched Off – FBI agent vs a serial killer. When Sam Kerman sets out to hunt a serial killer, he has no idea how personal the case will become.

Choices Stories Review 4/5 Stars: Red Carpet Diaries Book 2

A nice promo pic created by a fan…I think

*Spoilers possible in discussion

*They warn you that the content could be disturbing to some people.

Summary:

Your first major movie launched a dream career. You get a house upgrade! You also get an offer to do a spy thriller produced by one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Even better, you get to be in the movie with your friend, Matt Rodriguez. This is more his standard kind of movie. Action.

Additional Comments:

  • Things seem to be going all right until the bigwig producer decides he wants more of you than you’re willing to give. From then on, things at work turn very hostile.
  • Your friends are on your side, but they beg you to bide your time. You want to take down the bad guy thoroughly, not just throw random accusations around. You need a platform first.
  • The entire middle of the story turned out to be pretty frustrating. I enjoyed the beginning and the end, but like with Royal Romance 2, there’s a lot of chapters where your character is sort of a pariah or at least being treated like one.
  • They’ve begun a Red Carpet Diaries Book 3, but they’re not quite done yet, so I haven’t progressed far. The side characters aren’t my favorite, but they’re there for the MC when it counts.

Conclusion:

Overall, it’s an enjoyable series. This had a satisfying end.

Associate links to follow…

Available Audiobooks: I have free codes for almost everything.

New Release: The Shadow Council Series 1: Money Makes it Deadlier – An FBI agent gets caught up in a robbery gone wrong.

Shadow Council Book 2: Revenge Makes it Sweeter – A midnight summons calls FBI Special Agent Megan Luchek into a fight for a young girl’s life.

Shadow Council Book 3: Christmas Makes it Chaos – The FBI agent gets a strange ally in the quest to prevent chaos from rocking a lot of people’s holiday season.

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Beyond Broken Pencils – Contemporary literary tale of a school shooting. Ian unleashes his inner demons on his classmates and teachers…

Scratched Off – FBI agent vs a serial killer. When Sam Kerman sets out to hunt a serial killer, he has no idea how personal the case will become.

Nonfiction:
5 Steps to Surviving Chemistry – A primer for chemistry students. Breaks down concepts into simple terms. 

5 Steps to Better Blurbs – A book for writers looking to improve their book descriptions