Movie Reviews 4/5 Stars: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

* Might contain mild spoilers *


The plot’s either overcomplicated or super simple. Guess that depends on your perspective. A pair of government agents start out with one mission and end up with a higher one.

Additional Comments:

– Okay, so this probably won’t end up on my list of “must watch endlessly on loop” movies, but I found it entertaining.
– Characters: The guy who played Valerian sort of reminded me of a young Mark Hamill/ Luke Skywalker. The woman who played Laurelain (sorry about spelling, dunno the comic) totally reminds me of an older Emma Watson. They might even be the same age, but the character seemed like the type.
– The special effects were pretty good.
– The three information brokers were surprisingly funny. The part with the jellyfish was hilarious.
– The story definitely reads like a comic book. Tons of action, adventure, madness, a dash of romance. Okay, so the romance bit wasn’t the forte of the movie, but it adds a new angle. Part of the trouble as a movie might be the “lost in translation” part of adapting a comic book story to a movie. The medium has different limitations.
– Favorite character: definitely Bubble.
– Overall feel to the movie: Weird, but good.


Worth watching as an oddball scifi flick. (Might tick you off if you’re a “true” fan of the comic series.


Audiobook Reviews 3/5 stars: Henry Pash and the Boztec Revolution by Prateek Goorha


3/5 stars Cute but Ultimately Inane


If you read the blurb after hearing the story you’ll realize that it pretty much sums up the entire plot. Henry Pash gets turned down flat by the patent office for a mysterious invention that you don’t learn about until roughly 2/3 of the book have gone by.

Additional Comments:

– I’m going to preface with perhaps this is just “not my thing” because I tend to hear way more epic fantasy, mystery, and science fiction than humor.

– For something filed under “humor” I’m a little disappointed. Don’t think I laughed aloud once, though there might have been a few things to chuckle about. That might be a simple matter of the humor being not my style. There were a ton of metaphors and similes, several quite clever, but most more annoying than anything else.

– The protagonist had a way of describing things that was very … thorough.

A simple concept like “I thought he would be impressed” becomes à “I was sitting at the edge of my seat hoping for an opportunity to spring out of the chair and lay out the idea upon him first hand. I knew it would floor him like I knew the time of the day. I imagined that awe-struck Turner, hanging on to my every word, eyes widening and mouth agape as I sketched the highlights for him.” While thorough, the way things were described also came across as tedious.

– Characters (2/5):

I get that this is a first person narration style, but nearly every character sounded the same. I don’t mean the narrator couldn’t do various voices – he did fine. I mean that all of Henry’s friends worded things and thought the same way. As a narrator, Henry’s unreliable. By that, I mean, he skips around, telling the story out of order, ultimately for effect. While it works, it’s also annoying. I didn’t particularly like the protagonist. There’s no real sense for what he does besides visit a café and pine/wallow in self-pity for being rejected for his brilliant idea.

– Plot (2.5/5):

This is where the deviation from my usual genres might be kicking in. I found it boring. Nobody died. Nobody got shot at. Nobody faced any sort of danger or crisis. Henry might argue with me on that point as the patent office’s rejections was hands-down the end of his world, so he decided to wallow for a third of the book.

– Twist (4/5) – The way things tie up in the end works. It’s a very neat little package. The conclusion also takes place almost instantly.

– Technology (3/5):

I suppose you could file the book under near-future dystopia or even scifi. The ideas represented by the Boztecs are very cool and all too close to reality.

– Narration (4/5):

Well-handled. There was one breathy character in the beginning who drove me crazy, but thankfully, he didn’t return for the rest of the book. The overall light-hearted tone suited the story very well.

Other Comments:

– There are not enough unrealistic elements to be a strange fairy tale. Moral being, money can’t buy happiness.

– Who do I think this will resonate well with?

Not exactly sure of the target audience, but I don’t think I’m in it. Middle age and older men. Please note that this is in no way a knock against older men. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that my tastes will probably not be identical to them. Also, not saying that nobody in any other age range or stage of life will like it. Just taking a guess at who might “get” the brand of humor being presented here.


Whether you’ll enjoy the book depends on your tastes. I suppose that’s true for everything in life. The things that bothered me are going to click with others. The humor type is very dry, perhaps too much so. Listen to the sample and/or read a few pages. If you like what you see, give it a go.


Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Audiobook Reviews 3/5: Sam & the Secrets of the Universe: Book 1: Monad by JA Cawood

3/5 stars Interesting Twist on Boy Learns he has Cool Gifts


Sam’s dead (not a spoiler, that’s in the blurb). He goes to a place called Havona to learn the secrets of the universe. You’ll have to forgive my lack of details. I’m partly trying to avoid spoilers and it’s been a while since I heard the audiobook. I meant to write this ages ago.


Additional Comments:

– Worldbuilding (3.5/5) – This book contains a lot of really cool ideas. They’re pretty hard to describe though, and the author does an admirable job of attempting the feat. For example, the switching bodies section was very cool.

– Characters (3.5/5) – Sam meets several aliens. Only about 4 of them remain central to the story. Can’t remember the names right now, and besides, my spelling of them would be atrocious anyway. I don’t feel like you really get to know the pre-death Sam well enough to like him as a character. I did like his friend, but our time with her is short too. That may be purposeful.

– Plot (3/5) – The book splits roughly 1/5 to 4/5 before death and after death. The after death sections play out like most “training” sequences with the added bonus of very neat new worlds being thrown in the mix.

– Closure (1/5) – Clearly, this book is meant to be a series. I have a thing about closure, as in I REALLY like it and this book severely lacked it. That said, there are definitely good parts to the book. The end fails to satisfy. It’s not quite a true cliffhanger, but the end sprang up and ran right to the edge of … something, a gentle slide into “well, there’s definitely more to come.” Please note, this might just be a personal taste thing. I absolutely hate endings that feel like teasers/ setup for a new book.

– Why couldn’t I connect with the book?

After some soul-searching, I’m ready to conclude “not my cup of tea.” It’s a decent book. One of my major pitfalls in buying into the story was a lack of a real sense of danger. They’re already dead. The sense of “oh, wow, this could truly be the END” never really kicked in throughout the story, even with the threat of “Reset”. That removed a lot of the tension for me. Without tension, I couldn’t get into the conflict. Without conflict, there’s not much of a story.

– Aside: Much of this story, probably right down to starting with the cover, felt stylistically like the “new” Willy Wonka movie with Johnny Depp or the Oz, the Great and Powerful. They’re over-the-top, crazy colors everywhere kind of movies.

– Who do I think would like the book?

Middle grade boys, an underserved market if there is such a thing in literature. This is not a knock against them in anyway. It’s an acknowledgement that their tastes and mine will differ.

– Narration (2.5/5) – Usually, I’m cool with narrators. This one is okay, but his voice isn’t my favorite. He has a very matter-of-fact style of reading that made parts come across as choppy.


The plot feels like the beginning act of a much larger play. If that sort of thing bothers you, avoid. If you’re cool with that, go for it. What it lacks in closure, it makes up for in imagination and neat concepts. Sam’s a likable guy. Give the audio sample a shot and see if you like it. Or read a few pages from the preview and take the leap if you like what you see.

Associate links to follow…

This book …

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

The Science in Science Fiction


Science fiction comes in many flavors. It’s not all aliens and spaceships. Sometimes, science that matters most. Writers who strive for near-future science fiction typically ask “what if” a lot.

What’s the trick to making it realistic?

Go a step further than what’s possible now. For The Dark Side of Science, the whole premise might be beyond what’s possible now, but not by much. Mostly, ethical guidelines and massive amounts of red tape separate reality and fiction here.

The Devya’s Children series features several genetically altered children. By turning certain genes on and off, the scientists gave the children special gifts. Also, the scientists played around with their features, so that even though the biological parents were white, one appeared Asian and another African.

Is that possible?

Several documented cases show that it’s possible to get kids of mixed descent turning out with different skin tones. Take this National Geographic article about black and white fraternal twins for example. We believe our understanding of science has come far in the last few hundred years, and it definitely has. However, we’re still making new discoveries all the time.

Could it happen?

Shoving ethics aside and unfettering science, it probably wouldn’t take long to get where The Dark Side of Science started.

In The Dark Side of Science, two companies compete for the same secret government contract. They’re showing off the “best” of their products by having the children created in the programs battle in a winner-takes-all, losers-might-die competition. Since they’re not sure how to make Minders, they’re trying to get those memories out of one of the scientists who turned away from the project.

Samples of the Science in the Fiction:

(Contains spoiler for The Dark Side of Science)

In chapter 13, we find Dr. Jessica Paladon having a disagreement with a molecule simulator. Her friend got poisoned, and she must create an antidote from the raw materials. First, she designs the molecule she wants in a computer. Then, she tasks the molecule simulator to create the compound so she can test it on her friend.

To my knowledge, molecule simulators don’t exist. But 3D printers do. It’s essentially the same idea, only applied on a smaller level.

While many genetically altered plants and animals exist, probably not humans … yet. The movie Gattaca explores some of the ethical questions behind a society that allows itself to choose skin color and traits that would favor certain abilities. Long before I even started writing, the “what if” question existed.

Spaceships exist, but not ones that can take humans to the far side of the galaxy. Yet. We’re limited by resources: the fuel, the technology, and so forth. But what if something new was discovered, a stable element that lasted far longer and burned hotter than any known fuel. That could be a game changer.


Science fiction takes the known and pushes it further into the unknown. It paints a picture where everything we know is true plus a few extra things.

About the Author:

Julie C. Gilbert teaches high school chemistry and writes in many genres, including nonfiction, fantasy, young adult science fiction, mystery/thriller, and Christian mystery. She collects Legos and Star Wars stuff.



Amazon page – has all the published works.




Instagram: juliecgilbert_writer

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Audiobook Reviews 3/5: Short Story Collection by Charlie Chitty Narrated by Petrina Kingham

3/5 stars Mixed Bag Short Story Collection


The stories range a bit in genre from zombie apocalypse to family drama to futuristic scifi to suspense to flat out horror. It’s a little hard to judge something like this on the whole. There are stories in here I absolutely loved, like the one with the 12 year old boy and the baby. On the flip side, there are some stories in here that are so disturbing that I can’t even recommend the book on a clean mailing list.

Additional Comments:

– Most of the stories have some sort of circular logic, a twist at the end that makes it wrap up nicely given previous events. That makes them cool but somewhat predictable.

– I can’t remember every detail right now, but I guess it followed a standard bell curve. 2-3 stories really impressed me in every sense, most didn’t move me one way or the other, and 2-3 either annoyed me or brought out some other negative emotion.

– Content warning: Adult content. There’s one story in particular where the plot involves teenagers getting into the porn industry. Very strong language. Several stories dropped unnecessary f-bombs. (There were about 5-7 throughout the book, maybe 1 was necessary to move the plot forward.)

– I heard the audio version. It was decently narrated.

– There’s a note at the end of the audiobook that bothered me because it came across as arrogant. It said something like “if you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a review …” (that’s standard and totally acceptable, but then it went on…I’m paraphrasing here.) “If you didn’t like it, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you don’t know how to have fun.” I get that it was meant to be funny, but it’s way more abrasive than it should be. People being people, at best you get a chuckle or two but at what cost?


It’s a very mixed short story collection. Some are worth reading, and some are not. This book will not be on the Audiobook Edge list, but I’m starting to believe that I should just post all opinions and let people decide for themselves what they spend their time on.


Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime


Audible – If you’d like some free codes, please email me at [email protected] with requests for any of my works.

Audiobook Reviews: 3.5/5 Derelict by LJ Cohen

3.5/5 Derelict by LJ Cohen


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.


  • 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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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?

My Audiobook Obsession and AE Code Shortage Remedy


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.


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


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


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.



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.


Julie C. Gilbert

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