Movie Reviews: 4/5 Stars Spiderman Homecoming

Note: I don’t own the rights to the movie poster. You can find it here.

Introduction:

I enjoyed this movie. It’s an origins story for Spiderman, but it gets past the stuff we’ve seen before and dives into Peter’s struggle to balance school and life as the webslinger. He’s frustrated because Tony Stark/Iron Man’s treating him like a kid. He’s also crushing on a girl who’s head of the Academic Decathlon team. He’s a genius but unreliable when it comes to competing.

Additional Comments:

  • I loved how doing the right thing didn’t always make everything better.
  • Much of the movie turned into typical Marvel action fare – how many buildings and vehicles can we destroy in the next two hours?
  • Tom Holland fills the role nicely. Aunt May works. Her last line’s perfect. I like how they worked MJ in.
  • I’m never a fan of home videos so the beginning was annoying. I like the idea, but the shaky cam style messes with my head.
  • There’s a good balance between ups and downs for the hero, sentiment, growing pains, and action. And comedy. I don’t think there were quite as many funny lines as other Marvel movies, but they worked in some situational comedy like the gangster giving him interrogation advice.
  • I wonder how many Death Stars they broke for that one scene?
  • They’re definitely shooting for a sequel, but there’s enough closure to feel like you’ve seen a complete story.
  • Except the stinger. It’s a stinker. (Okay, so mildly amusing but leaves one feeling annoyed nonetheless.)

Conclusion:

They’ve successfully passed along the Spiderman torch, yet again. Not even sure I saw the Andrew Garfield version. Last Spidey I remember was Toby…and that was a very long time ago. Definitely the sort of movie worth seeing in theaters and adding to your blu ray collection if you have such a thing.

In the mood to splurge on your Spiderman Obsession?


Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Stars The Kili Wanna Affair by Scott A. Combs

4.5/5 A study in ridiculousness

Summary:

A semi-competent ensign gets assigned as the liaison to Kili Wanna with the job of getting them to sign a treaty with the Galactic Guild. What follows is a series of predictable yet amusing events.

 

Additional Comments:

– Don’t take the book too seriously. If you’re looking for serious, you are definitely in the wrong place.

– At times, the book was kind of annoying, but I broke it up with a family drama/romance book so it’s all good. In the end, it leaves one with a mildly amused feeling, which is a great note to end on.

– The narrator did a lovely job with all the voices. Definitely worth getting the audiobook. Grab the free kindle version and you usually get a discount on the audio.

Content warnings: brief mention of nudity, a few sophomoric references to George’s breasts, and a few curses. Most of the curses were confined to tick-tick-pops.

– Sali Terri’s a dude, so of course George Shooters is a lady.

– I love Bethel. She’s hilarious, and she does everything.

– You can get a feel for the tone of the book by some of the names. i.e. Snookums, royal cat like thing. I won’t attempt to spell that because I heard the audible version.

– The characters are more like caricatures, but that’s definitely done on purpose. Sali’s a (lovable) bumbling idiot who happens to get everything right. George is a top-of-the-class, straight-laced sort who ends up being the assistant for the bumbling idiot.

– The style’s like A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy without quite so much dry humor. (It’s more in-your-face stupid humor like Flex being an Arnoldian and always wanting to break things or maim people.)

 

Conclusion:

Amusing opening to what’s sure to be a series of galactic misadventures.

 

As Always …

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

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Stars Recovery of a Colony Ship by John Thornton

Summary:

Michael and Jamie are sent on a desperate mission to find a new home for the sad remnants of Earth’s population.

Additional Comments:

– It’s a pretty grim future if the remaining population numbers in the thousands.

– The title is … functional, but it might have more zip with just the main colony ship’s name.

– Narration was all right, but the male AI voice got on my nerves. He did great with the female AI though. Other characters are good too.

– I’ve not heard too many stories of this type, but it’s definitely a type. I’m not a big dystopia, end of the world fan, but I enjoyed this tale. (I think it helped to have it read to me.)

– There are frequent references to a disaster in Dome 3, but that thread’s not really explored. I would have liked to see that be a prologue or something for the amount of references it garnered.

– Michael and Jamie are likable enough as main characters, but for Adventurers, they’re kind of naïve. How do they manage to get their stuff stolen out from under their noses on day one?

– The plot reminds me a bit of a video game. They have a mission which promptly goes awry, and they have to figure out a new way to reach their end goal.

– The wrap up is quick.

– The religious fanatics have a fiercer reputation than most of the people Michael and Jamie meet.

– I liked most of the side characters, especially Abigail and the quartermaster guy from Earth.

– Some of the tech was very cool. I like the part about them trying to get into the colony ship.

– I didn’t get a great feel for the colony ship itself. I think some of that was because of the terminology and acronyms. OCM and RC were both explained eventually, but I’m pretty sure I was confused on that (along with the characters) for about an hour. The dimensions were mentioned at one point, I think, but then, later, there was talk of other habitats as worlds.

– The last hour or so had quite a bit of action. I wish the main characters did more of the fighting though. Legionnaires = awesome.

Conclusion:

Scifi adventure across the stars to find a home.

 

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge. Last I checked, the ebook’s only $0.99.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Audiobook Reviews: 3.5/5 Derelict by LJ Cohen

3.5/5 Derelict by LJ Cohen

Summary:

Ro and a motley stow-away crew find trouble on a derelict ship.

Additional Comments:

What I Didn’t Enjoy:

  • There’s a LOT of strong language in here, which is weird because the book otherwise seems aimed at young adults. I work with teenagers. Some of them curse, but very strong languages loses its impact when used this casually.
  • There’s not one fleshed-out, competent, sympathetic adult. The adults here come in three flavors: overbearing jerks or manipulative, overbearing jerks or manipulative, overbearing, psychopathic jerks.
  • The friendships and rivalries seemed genuine but there’s also a bizarrely paced, subtle (F/F) romance.

Neutral:

  • At its heart, the plot’s actually rather simple. (Girl wants to get away. Girl and acquaintances get into trouble. Runaway ship nearly kills ’em all.)
  • The purpose of Deadilus (sorry about spelling, I heard the audio version) was never really made clear. Is the station strictly for research or survival?

What I Enjoyed:

  • The technology aspects of this book were pretty cool. The computer programming aspects were nicely described.
  • The music integration and purpose where Halycone is concerned rocks.
  • Bill Burrow’s performance fits very well.
  • The four main characters are both well-developed and likable. I enjoyed how their names unfolded piece by piece. Their nicknames work.

Conclusion:

If you’re okay with a lot of strong language and quite a bit of adult-bashing,  you would probably enjoy this book.

As Always …

Note: this book will not be on the regular Audiobook Readers’ Edge, but it is available via the matchmaker program.

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

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Audiobook Reviews: Unexpected Superhero by Kitty Bucholtz

Introduction:

Some superhero books try to be serious. This isn’t one of those times. There might be possible spoilers ahead in my discussion. I have some mixed feelings about the book as a whole. There’s a lot to love and some stuff that raises eyebrows.

Summary:

Tori Lewis discovers she has a superpower. Meanwhile, her new husband, Joe Clarke, also has a secret identity.

Additional Comments:

  • I love the pop culture references. The references include: Spiderman, The X-Files, Superman, and much more.
  • Comic books do not qualify as research.
  • Neutral:
  • Limited first person sometimes slips into stream of consciousness. In general, the amount of arghs and grrs should be kept to a bare minimum in books, especially audios.
  • The MC gets mugged twice.

What I couldn’t connect with … :

  • The genres flip quite regularly. It’s mostly a lighthearted romantic comedy set in a mildly urban fantasy setting. In addition, there are elements of Christian romance, Harlequin romance, mystery, and scifi. I happen to like most of those, but I’ll admit the blend is not always pretty. Odds are very good that either you’re going to be offended by the amount of intimate scenes described between the newlyweds or you’re going to be offended by the amount of times Tori prays or somebody brings up a Bible verse.
  • Content warning: contains curse words and “moderate spice adult scenes”
  • There’s a fair amount of very slow build. I clocked it. Tori took 7.5 hrs to tell Joe the truth, and he took about 9.2 hours to tell the truth. That’s weeks upon weeks in their time. I’ll tell him soon, I’ll tell him later, I’ll tell her soon, I’ll tell her later, well maybe … It got maddening.
  • Some plot threads get brushed off in a “that’s not really our focus as super heroes” vibe instead of wrapped up.

What I liked:

  • The narrator fit the character very well. She gave a solid performance.
  • The scifi and mystery aspects are great. I wish more of this existed.
  • I enjoyed Kane (sorry about spelling, I heard the audio) as a villain.
  • The last hr and a half was excellent. Once they leveled with each other and finally got to the exciting stuff including the showdown, it was awesome.

Conclusion:

If you can handle the “heat level” and don’t mind genres flipping all over the place, it’s an intriguing tale.

 

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

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

 

Music Unlimited

Home Services – Is there anything Amazon doesn’t dabble in?

Movie Review: 4.5/5 Guardians of the Galaxy Spoiler Free Version

 

Introduction:

I know a lot of movie review sites use a 4 star system, but I’m too well-trained by Amazon reviews to adhere to it. Just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. As I didn’t know much besides what I’d seen in the first movie, I shall leave this spoiler-free for now.

Summary and First Impressions:

Crude humor and well-placed jokes punctuate the movie in all the right places and a few oddball ones. Still, there’s a surprisingly deep and touching story to be found if you really dig through the crassness. It probably won’t be on my must-buy and watch 80x list, but I’m glad I saw the movie. Most people will think it pales compared to the first in the series. While it suffers a tad from being a sequel, the makers took the story in a cool direction.

Fun Stuff:

Guardians of the Galaxy would never fall under “serious” movies, but I love how much fun they had with it. Things like “Taser Face,” the Sovereign golden people fighting with video game like drones, repeated “I am Groots” all over the credits, and so forth.

How many “I am groots” did you come up with in the credits?

I found 9, but I may have missed a few. Marvel does a stellar job of making you want to watch the credits. There’s so much going on in the sides.

Conclusion:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 lives up to the ridiculous tone set by the first movie while also moving the story along. (It doesn’t come off as a “gee, we just want to cash in another payday” sort of movie.) Go see it!

My Audiobook Obsession and AE Code Shortage Remedy

Introduction:

In the last couple of months, I’ve spent much time setting up Audiobook Edge to bring authors/narrators and readers together. (If you’re not a member yet, no problem. Go here to fix that.) I want everybody to get something good out of the experience, but I realize that some weeks there might be a shortage of codes. To help remedy that, I will be offering up to 5 copies of my books each week as necessary to fill in some of the gaps.

*Please note, that I’m not purposefully shorting the list, but I am keeping the number of books low so people get the maximum exposure possible.

This post will introduce you to the works I have available.

My Audiobooks:

Over the past few years, I’ve embraced the opportunity to work with several talented narrators to give my books that added layer. I have 8 titles with one in the works and another under contract. I’m waiting to see what happens with The Davidson Case before leaping to find somebody for The Keres Case. First, I’ll break down which books are credited to which narrator. Then, I’ll give you details on which are available to you.

Who Did What:

Ashlynn’s Dreams became my first book to morph into an audiobook. I knew zip about the process, but luckily, Kristin Condon submitted an audition. Eager to begin, I closed auditions very soon after hearing how close Kristin came to how I pictured the characters of Jillian and Danielle.

These things, meaning audiobooks, don’t happen overnight. They take weeks and months, depending on how much time the narrator has to devote to a project. The sad reality is that very few people can make a living off of this sort of work. Over the course of several years, Kristin worked on Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, Nadia’s Tears, The Collins Case, and The Kiverson Case. Then, life interfered and we parted ways.

Julie Hinton stepped in to take over the creation of Malia’s Miracles. She did a lovely job taking my scattered notes on the characters and bringing her talent bear here. I’m grateful for her willingness to tackle the center of a series. She’s currently working through Varick’s Quest. My guess is that should be ready Summer 2017.

Brian Troxell performed the prequel to the Devya’s Children series, The Dark Side of Science. I absolutely love this guy’s voice and range of characters. He did a superb job. It’s best to be familiar with the Devya’s Children characters before jumping into this book, but it can stand alone. Some might disagree with my choice, but I wanted a male voice for this story. The rest of the Devya’s Children series is set very much in the head of Jillian and Danielle, but Dark Side is third person. I wanted more of a storyteller of old feel to its presentation.

Caitlin Jacques became the voice of Victoria Saveron and many more characters from Awakening. I would have hired Julie Hinton again as I enjoy working with her, but I wanted a new voice for the Redeemer Chronicles series. The auditions for this one were very tight. It was a very tough decision because I got some great auditions, but I’m happy with how the project turned out.

Lightning Quick Summaries:

      Devya’s Children (YA, Science Fiction)

  • The Dark Side of Science (prequel) – a scientist struggles to regain her memories so she can help her children survive a brutal competition.
  • Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts (short stories, prequel) – Jillian’s pre-kidnapping journal entries.
  • Ashlynn’s Dreams – Jillian and her babysitter get kidnapped so she can learn to be a Dream Shaper.
  • Nadia’s Tears – Jillian struggles to wake her sister from a coma while Danielle tries to save a friend from stupid decisions.
  • Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings fight cancer and try to stay free.
  • Varick’s Quest (coming soon…) – an admirer of Dr. Devya snatches Jillian and Danielle for his own purposes.

    Heartfelt Cases (Christian Mystery)

  • The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents race against time to save a kidnapped family.
  • The Kiverson Case – Ann and Patrick play a deadly game with a man bent on revenge.

    Redeemer Chronicles (Fantasy)

  • Awakening – a girl and her two friends try to survive zombies and her uncle’s schemes.

What You Can Request:

Although technically anything I have available in audio form is up for the asking, you will likely get the most out of the first in each series. If you’d like Malia’s Miracles but you want to catch up first, head over to my website and join the Spec Fic list. You’ll get Ashlynn’s Dreams for free. That should help a little. If you like the book and review it on amazon, you can then email me the review link with a request for a copy of Nadia’s Tears. (These are very limited, so act fast.)

As with all audiobooks, you should listen to the retail sample to see if you enjoy the narrator’s voice. I personally love each of the narrators I’ve worked with. That said, having listened to 15+ audiobooks in the last few weeks, I understand that not everybody’s going to fall in love with every voice. That’s just the way life goes.

For Kristin Condon, I’d recommend going with Ashlynn’s Dreams.

 

The others currently only have one title each.

Sorry, I couldn’t find the audiobook version of The Dark Side of Science. Click through and you should still get to an audiobook sample though.

Caitlin Jacques’ audiobook debut:

Julie Hinton’s first work for me.

 

Audiobook Buying Ninja Tips:

Any book you own the official kindle version for, you should be able to buy on audio for around $1.99. I have mixed feelings on this. From a reader perspective, it’s awesome, but it does tend to short the authors/narrators. (Royalties are based on sale price.) For example, the Dark Side of Science was free on amazon for a few years. If you download it, you should be able to add the audiobook for the steeply discounted price.

If you find that you love audible and want to move to a paid plan, an easy way to help your favorite author/narrator is to buy their book first. ACX offers bounties, which is an ingenious way on their part to get some free advertising out of people. I’ve got 8 title, so if you’re moving that way, I’d love for you to choose one of them as your first book. Oh, and before you move to a paid plan anyway, do the free trial, so you get the first book or two free.

Meet the Narrators:

Kristin Condon

Brian Troxell

Julie Hinton

Caitlin Jacques – Sorry, she’s a bit of a mystery. I couldn’t find an official website.

Conclusion:

Audiobooks allow one to do other things while still experiencing stories. They’re great for long car rides, quiet afternoons, and something to do while ironing. Let me show you a whole new world.

As Always …

If you haven’t done so yet, join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

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

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

Audiobook Reviews: The Amazing Adventures of Mr. Tinker by Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson

Introduction:

Lately, I’ve been expanding my reading palate. It’s been quite an adventure, which is fitting given the book being featured today. I’ve not read a time travel story for a very long time. I think the last time travel movie I saw was Timeline (excellent movie by the way). Here, we meet Jovan. He’s an orphan taken in as an apprentice to this brilliant professor. In 59 pages, there isn’t a lot of time to develop their characters, but a lot happens. They meet up with Hitler, visit Woodstock, and much more.

Summary:

Mr. Tinker, in of Nicola Tesla’s associates, works with a young assistant named Jovan to try and recover 9 missing time travel devices.

Slight Disappointments:

  • This is not a novel. It’s a short story.
  • It doesn’t really have an ending either. It’s more of a part 1 of 3 or 4. As a big fan of closure, that’s disappointing.
  • Content warnings: There are a few curse words near the end, ~ last half hr. Their trip to Woodstock leaves them with some striking images burned on their brains.

What I Enjoyed:

  • The story is filled with wonders of a wild imagination. That’s one of the most compelling aspects of scifi in general. You never know what you’re going to get because the author can break almost any rule as long as there’s a plausible explanation.
  • The premise is simple yet fun. A professor and his assistant travel across time to prevent 9 villains from destroying time with their misuse of a great invention.
  • The tiger and little aliens are interesting side characters.
  • The book has an unusual yet interesting cover.

Conclusion:

In The Amazing Adventures of Mr. Tinker, we have a neat intro to an intriguing series.

Want a crack at owning this book for free?

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: 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.

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.