Audiobook Reviews: 3.5/5 Empty Threat by Danny Bell

 

Summary:

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

Additional Comments:

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

Conclusion:

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

Only $0.99 !

 

 

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Julie C. Gilbert

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

 

Summary:

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

Additional Comments:

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

Conclusion:

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

 

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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

 

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 Quest of the Dreamwalker by Stacy Bennett

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

Summary:

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

Additional Comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

 

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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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: The Natural Order by R.J. Vickers

 

Introduction:

A troubled teen goes off to magic school and finds trouble of a different sort.

Summary:

Tristan Fairholm gets a second chance at an extraordinary school where not everything is as it seems.

Additional Comments:

Neutral:

– There are a lot of plot threads being juggled here. Overall, this is done well, but a few seem to have petered off. (ie. Evie and the twins)

– There are 15 students gathered from all over the US (presumably), but the story focuses only on 5-6 of them. (I believe that’s for the best, but the number of overall students seems small. If the others don’t matter, then why bring them up at all?)

– Content warnings: rampant casual cursing

– There’s not much explanation for the vast wealth of the school.

– Tristan makes some gains in many aspects but not the driving force presented at the beginning.

– Passage of time was sporadic. It was almost like a survey of the holidays.

What I didn’t like:

*disclaimer – I am a teacher, so my perspectives on how schools are run might be different than the average reader.*

– The idea of rewarding students by letting them out of an assigned homework is terrible. Homework’s not supposed to be busy work. Either it has value or it doesn’t. If nobody “needs” to do it, then why assign it? If it’s vital, then letting some students skip it is kind of counter productive.

– There’s a strong emphasis on hours of punishments and students working them off. The dolling out of such seemed a mite capricious. Keeping discipline and order is important in school settings, and I imagine that’s magnified in a boarding school setting. However, when handing out discipline, it’s important not to punish oneself at the same time. Are the teachers working 90+ hrs a week?

– Some of the cardinal rules of the school seemed to matter one minute and not so much the next. (ie. can the students leave or not? Can anybody leave or not?)

– The vandal’s methods and logic are fundamentally flawed.

– The first practical exam was a terrible idea. The teachers admit this later, but it’s not really an exam if nothing’s taught first.

– Tristan’s acceptance of the end twists seemed way too easy. The mystery built up some good momentum then sort of fizzled.

What I liked:

– There’s a unique premise here and some nice twists in the end.

– The character development is pretty decent at least in the main character.

– I liked Amber and wish her role were expanded. She was left as the “little miss perfect student” instead of becoming a foil for the hero.

– Side characters were decent, although the Zeke/ Leila thing got old very quickly. The relationship has an interesting turn at the end, but nothing’s settled. They seem very antagonistic for no good reason.

– The book as a whole has a summer camp bonding experience vibe to it.

– The narrator’s performance was good.

– End twist is built on a very intriguing premise.

Conclusion:

I don’t think the things that bothered me about the running of the school will affect the general public. Overall, this is a decent coming-of-age fantasy with its own brand of magic.

 

 

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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

Audiobook Reviews: Shadow Grove by Lacey Edward

 

Introduction:

This is a case where the book probably makes more sense in context of it being part of a series. It took quite a bit of time and didn’t have that much of a bang in the end, but there is still potential for the series.

Summary:

Around her 18th birthday, Ariel finds out she’s a witch. The rest of the story’s pretty much about her training to use those powers and avoiding the people trying to kill her because of those powers.

Additional Comments:

Content warning: a few mild curses

Neutral:

– The plots pretty slow moving. I get that there’s a lot of setup, but really, I could only think of 2 pts in the book that had any sort of action.

– Some of the bad guys’ motives seem weak.

– Ethan kind of seems along for the ride. He doesn’t add or detract much. Wish he’d done more as Ariel’s father.

– I wish Ariel had done more. She’s learning a lot, but it seems a lot of other things/people are protecting her. I want to see her become the in control witch ready to take on the forces of darkness.

What I didn’t like:

– A lot of the training scenes involved inane questions that seemed designed solely to move the conversation on so the other character could continue his/her lecture. For some reason, in the audio, that drove me nuts. (Really? I’m a witch? A book? Etc)

– Unresolved questions: – Why does Oren offer to help her if he’s just a collector? Who is the queen? What the heck happened to James? The queen shows up at the beginning and the end, but we’re specifically not told anything about her.

– Lack of closure in the end. There would have been better closure without the very last scene. We already know it’s book 1 and the story continues, but the last scene sort of stamps a “to be continued” sign on the story. I find those annoying.

What I liked:

– I enjoyed Ariel as a character. The tried and true girl-has-special-powers trope is always a fun one, and Ariel’s pretty likable.

– Oddly enough, I enjoyed the Vampire. He was a nice addition.

– I think the series as a whole has merit. There’s a lot of setup in this book.

– I loved the narrator’s voice for Dione. (British accents rock.)

Conclusion:

It’s a slow start, but there’s a ton of potential for the series.

 

 

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.