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review 2018-06-13 03:28
Rise and Fall by Michael Whitehead
Legion Of The Undead: Rise and Fall - Michael Whitehead

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works mostly well as a stand alone.

I have returned to the land of Roman legions and zombies! I really loved the first book in the series and this is a decent follow up. My new favorite character is Garrick, a butcher who lives in Rome. He’s basically conscripted to guard the wall but he soon earns the respect of his centurion and fellow guards.

Vitus, the archer from Book 1, is still around but he’s not the sole main focus of the story. He does a great job of being the counterpoint to Garrick. Two Roman emperors are fighting for superiority. Titus is the rightful emperor but he doesn’t hold Rome. Indeed, he’s quite a distance away and there’s all those pesky zombies in the way. Meanwhile Otho holds Rome. However, he’s got these crazy secret zombie plans that could bring him to ruin.

This tale does have a weakness and that is the lack of ladies. Book 1 had some impressive female characters getting stuff done but this book totally sidelined Lucia and Flavia. We only get glimpses of them and when we do, they are there for comfort or romance. There is one woman who gets to smash some zombies but her role is brief and part of it is spent being rescued. Another woman gets her chance at Otho, but once again, she has a small, fleeting appearance.

The zombies themselves come in a few flavors. The newer, more robust ones can leap! Yikes! There also appears to be some evil paranormal force that drives them, having some hidden motive. I hope we learn more about that in Book 3. The pacing is really good, keeping me engaged the entire time but also avoiding zombie battle fatigue. 4/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Terry Self gave us yet another amazing performance. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his lady voices are feminine. I like his spooky voice for the evil paranormal entity. I also like his voice for Otho, who sounds like he’s talking with a mouth full of marbles. There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-06-13 03:20
Vacation Bride by Vicky Loebel
Vacation Bride: A Tropical Billionaire Marriage of Convenience (Brides of Paradise) (Volume 1) - Vicky Loebel

While contemporary romance isn’t my cup of tea, I absolutely loved Loebel’s paranormal/urban fantasy novels. So I decided to give her contemporary romance novel a try. I did enjoy it even if it didn’t wow me like her other novels.

Brideacuda! Ha! I love that phrase. Anna finds herself entered into the contest by her best friend but it means she can leave the Milwaukee winter for the tropical beaches of St. John’s island. Plus, she can bring one ‘stylist’ with her and she chooses her dad who has recently survived cardiac surgery. So right away I liked Anna.

Meanwhile, on St. John’s, the Andersons have cooked up this crazy idea of how to boost interest in their vacation hotel (the Paradise Resort) – host a contest to win the hand of the handsome Ryan Anderson! Chris Anderson isn’t too thrilled about it. He rather stay in the background and keep on fixing air conditioner units but he also knows that the resort needs the promotion. Ryan ends up eloping with the shows producer, Bobbie, so Chris gets stuck being the stand-in groom. He was none too pleased.

This story borders on being a romantic comedy, which I liked. There’s no slap stick comedy or totally ridiculous situations yet there still is humor. After all, we have these potential brides doing crazy stunts for each stage of the contest. Then there’s Chris with his Danish ancestry, humor towards Ryan, the secret Danish p0rn stash, and a tragedy that left him a bit scarred. I liked Anna’s character too but I felt we got more background on Chris.

So not all the potential brides are witches. Loni right away does Anna a favor and the two remained friends throughout the trials and tribulations of the show. Yay! It was good to see that not all the female side characters were horrible people.

There’s obvious sexual attraction between Chris and Anna right from the beginning and I really liked how it built and built. I didn’t care so much for the misunderstandings and apologies, etc. but that seems to be a requisite for this genre. I was a little sad that we didn’t get any sex scenes. Sigh… But I imagined that they had a very good time.

The ending is sweet and charming. All told, I did enjoy this story despite it being a contemporary romance. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Emily Beresford did a great job with this narration. She’s perfect for Anna. I also liked her voice for Tiffany (the evil brideacuda). Her peppy, professional, commanding voice for Bobbie the show producer was spot on. Her male voices were masculine and all her character voices were distinct. She sounded engaged throughout the entire novel. There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Vicky Loebel. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-06-13 03:13
Starblind by D. T. Dyllin
Starblind (The Jane Sevis Chronicles #1) - D.T. Dyllin

Ha! This story wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I still had a lot of fun with it. Jane is all woman, reveling in her sexuality as much as she revels in being a bounty hunter. Set in a far future where Earth no longer exists and pure humans are a thing of history books, Jane travels around the galaxy sweeping up criminals and getting paid handsomely to do it.

Her latest bounty comes with specific instructions. Jane likes the idea of the challenge and she takes off after Ash, a Phoenix. He’s got special powers that make it hard to keep him in custody. And Jane would love to have him in custody all right. He’s a handsome attractive man with muscles in all the right places. Sex is never far from Jane’s mind and while I found this amusing most of the time, sometimes I did role my eyes. I could have used a little more plot and little less innuendo.

Then there’s Jane’s skimpy steampunk outfit. We don’t get much description so it’s mostly left up to the reader’s imagination. Jane does use her curves and legs and other feminine attributes like a weapon… or a snare. While I’m all for using whatever you have to hand to get the job done or get yourself out of trouble, I do wish we could have seen some of her other skills in action.

Zula was a fun sidekick. She’s Jane’s second in command on the Pittsburgh and she’s a bit snarky with that high IQ of hers. There’s 2 other crew members (Masha and Tamzea) but we don’t get to know much about them. Perhaps that will change as the series moves forward.

The baddies for this book are the Denards. They have a thing for annihilating whole planets and whipping naked captives for personal satisfaction. I also hope the series expands on this alien species and their motives (as individuals or as a whole culture).

All told, it was a fun, fast paced action-packed scifi flick. While I would have liked a bit more on plot and character development, it was still entertaining. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Ashley Holt has a unique cadence. Initially, I thought this was just a unique voice for Jane but Holt uses the same cadence for all her characters for the entire book. It reminded me a little of William Shatner’s unique cadence. Mostly she had unique voices for each character but sometimes the voices got a bit muddied and the clarity of who was saying or doing what was muddled. Her male voices were masculine. I did find the narration a bit slow as some syllables are stretched out for emphasis. So I did something I rarely do – I sped up the narration to 1.25X. The narration was much smoother at this speed and increased my enjoyment of the book. 3.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Ashley Holt. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-06-13 03:01
Legacy by Jesikah Sundin
Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles series Book 1) - Jesikah Sundin

The basic premise of this story pulled me right in. Take some Medieval LARPers and stick them in a biodome for decades and monitor how their society evolves. Now it’s 2 generations later and the grandchildren of those original LARPers are coming into their own. Willow and Leaf Watson just put their father, Joel, to rest in a grave and they have many questions about where their lives will go from here. Being the two oldest members of one of the reigning houses, they know they hold some power but are not sure what to do with it. Their young sister, Laurel, is still a child and unaware of what perils may befall their family.

Meanwhile, out in the real world with all it’s technology, the Game Master Hannley Nichols plots. The biodome was originally set up to study human psychology when a society is confined yet separate from the larger whole of humanity (as it would be on Mars or such). However, I wonder if his goals have changed over time or if he had ulterior motives all along. A good chunk of the world sees the biodome and it’s residents as entertainment and not a serious scientific study. Initially, Hannley was just a side character, but by the end of the book I had a real interest in him and what his story arc will be for the series.

The word ‘biodome’ makes me sit up and take notice. For many years now I have been fascinated with this concept and the limited number of actual biodome experiments that have been done. The concept definitely helped pull me into this story but I found that it wasn’t executed very realistically. A self-sustained, closed society needs a lot of cross over training and strong connections among it’s members to work. The regular, daily tasks that it takes to live in a Medieval-like society in a biodome were glossed over and I found the enforced gender roles to be unlikely to work in such a situation. Plus, if we ever do send a chunk of humans to Mars to set up a biodome, we will probably make sure they have quality medical knowledge. This group didn’t have that.

So, setting that quibble aside, I was initially interested in the main characters. Willow, who prefers to be called Oaklee (and never let us forget it), is almost 16 and boys are starting to look her way as a potential partner in marriage. However, she lets her emotions rule her. At first, this was a charming quality about her as everyone, even herself, acknowledges this and loves her anyway. As the story went on, though, I found myself tiring of her emotional tantrums, weeping, fainting, crying to the point her stomach aches, etc. Since she was the main female character, I really wanted more out of her.

Leaf is rather mild and not that memorable other than he is easily offended. Meanwhile, Fillion revels in offending people. So maybe Leaf and Fillion were made for each other. Fillion has been a bad boy and is sentenced to a kind of community service that puts him ever closer to the biodome inhabitants. I found his character inconsistent at times even as I enjoyed his cheek. On one had, he claims no woman has offered him true affection before yet in other scenes he bemoans the fact that so many women have thrown themselves at his feet. While many of those girls could have been star struck or inconsiderate fortune hunters, I expect there were a few that served up true affections.

Then there’s some connection between the Watsons and the Nichols that I don’t fully understand yet. Della, Fillion’s mom, was also involved with Joel Watson at some point. So does that make Fillion and his sister Lynden stepsiblings (or divorced stepsiblings?) to the Watson kids? I’m not sure. I felt I needed a little family tree.

The story also gives us some insta-love which isn’t my thing. I expected more out of the biodome inhabitants as they don’t seem to have any method for divorce so I would think that pairings would be made with plenty of consideration for actual love matches. There’s also a love triangle to contend with, and again, that’s not my thing. So I could have done without the romance in this story as it seems to be there just to add drama.

The ending had plenty of drama and some of it was good (like Fillion’s final fist fight) and some of it was silly (Willow’s emotional tantrum). There’s this bit of failed drama where Fillion assumes a false name. This doesn’t go over as planned and yet Willow is fooled… hmmm…. really? And that’s when I decided I really wanted some other main female character. Anyway, all around, the setting and plot hold potential for the next book in the series. 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Sunil Patel has a very enjoyable voice. It’s rich and clear and just makes me want to listen to him all day. However, his narration skills need a little polishing. There were a few mispronounced words but his French was good. I felt his Japanese was a bit rough. Also, he doesn’t really do distinct character voices. He did try to soften his voice for the female characters, but that wasn’t consistent either. Whenever Willow was yelling, she sounded just like her brother or Fillion. The biodome inhabitants are supposed to have a general British English accent, which Patel does well, but Fillion and Hannley and all the outsiders really sound just like biodomers in accent. The recording was OK but there are a few places where the volume goes up or the recording sounds a little rough. 3.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jesikah Sundin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-06-13 02:41
A Witch's Path box set Books 1-3 by N. E. Conneely
A Witch's Path Box Set Books 1-3 - N. E. Conneely

Book 1 Witch for Hire

 

It was very easy for me to get into this book. It’s a pretty standard urban fantasy detective mystery story. Set in Georgia, Michelle is a clanless witch, which means she has to make a go of it on her own, working a job, paying bills, etc. She lives in a bed and breakfast run by a brownie, works as a consultant with the local police departments, and has girls’s night over pizza once a week with her best buds.

The best part of the world building were the various magical beings and creatures. Humans aren’t the only sentient beings and trolls are real, real enough to remove your head and slurp your innards out like a squeezed juice box. Elves, mermaids, dragons, griffons, unicorns, shifters, vampires, and more make up the cast of characters.

There’s a little dark humor mixed in with the clue hunting and action scenes. I especially liked the remarks about well-meaning but naive people trying to live side by side with the trolls. There was also that crazy, fast growing plant in Michelle’s bathroom. The various enchanted items that Michelle has to help un-spell were interesting too. Imagine having something useful spelled to keep people in their dinner seats until excused from the table yet then that item ends up in a yard sale. Some unsuspecting soul buys it and before you know it, they’re calling you from their dinner nook seat where they’ve been stuck for hours. Yep, makes me think twice about yard sales.

I don’t really know why the 1500 year old elf Elron is in this story. He doesn’t really fit into the scene and he doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. However, it does seem that his head has been turned by Michelle and she’s both interested in and annoyed by him. Sigh… can we please break the mold of 1000+ year old magical male being falls for young lady? Michelle is 25 in this story, but I still felt like rolling my eyes every time the two made eyes at each other.

The story ends on a total cliff hanger. Luckily the next book is available so you don’t have to wait for the rest of the tale. Over all, the book was a fun, easy urban fantasy. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeff Hays was absolutely excellent in this story. I have enjoyed his narrations before but this is the first time I have heard him narrate a female-lead full-length novel. His female voices are great and all his character voices are distinct. I love how he goes the extra mile with making people sound like they are on the phone or through a radio. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jeff Hays. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Book 2 A Witch's Path
 

Note: A Witch’s Path is Book 2 in the series and it is also the title for the box set of the first 3 books in the series. It should be read in order and doesn’t work well as a stand alone.

Book 1 left us hanging off a cliff by our finger tips so it was great that Book 2 was immediately available. Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 left off. The mess with the death threats deepens. In fact, Michelle screams and falls down a few times over these threats but I find it hard to fault her. After all, if a really big spider spelled out a death threat on my ceiling I would have some immediate gut reactions too.

Meanwhile, Elron is still in the story. I didn’t really care for him in Book 1 but I am finally starting to warm up to him. I don’t think he and Michelle are really a good romantic match but I do think they can be friends. Elron wavers back and forth on being romantically inclined towards Michelle and still mourning his long dead wife. He seems too stiff and proper for the modern times and yet that is part of his charm.

I totally fell in love with Michelle’s new pet, Ty the T-rex. It was a crazy, dangerous event that led to her adopting Ty but I’m sure glad she did. Michelle needs all the help she can get. Then there’s the whole mysterious crap with her parents and their clans. Michelle is an adult standing on her own for some years now but her parents still feel the need to shield her from her family history. I was on Michelle’s side with this, totally frustrated with her parents. I think they are doing more harm than good by keeping secrets from her.

The whole werewolf fiasco was a lot of fun. Michelle’s good friend Amber is kidnapped by this local clan leader. Amber is also a shifter but not a powerful one and Michelle has good reason to be very worried for her friend. I did feel that Michelle was a bit slow to put her powers and abilities into hunting for Amber but she was dealing with a lot of other stuff too. Michelle’s eventual efforts earn her some new, much needed allies.

Gargoyles! Who doesn’t love gargoyles? I can see these characters adding to the series immensely and I look forward to seeing what the author does with them. Then there’s the teen suicides that Michelle’s mom asks her to look into. The pace is fast all the way through this tale except for the tiny little bits where Elron is contemplating his life and missing his dead wife Sylvia.

Once we reach the end, there’s tons of stuff not wrapped up. Now it’s not the big cliff hanger we had from Book 1 but it still leaves a lot to be tied up in the next book. A mysterious book with dreams comes into play and throws Elron into a downward spiral. The Big Baddie is still at large. Then there’s trouble on the horizon with Michelle’s parents’s clans. So, once again, I’m glad the next book is immediately available. 4/5 stars

The Narration: Jeff Hays continues to do this series justice. He has the perfect voice for Michelle and he sounds so animated throughout the entire story. He makes a great angry werewolf and a serious gargoyle. I also like his somewhat formal voice for Elron.  5/5 stars.

Book 3 A Witch's Trial
 

Note: A Witch’s Trial is the 3rd book in the series and it really does need the previous books to make sense.

I’m really glad to say that this book wraps up the big cliff hangers from the previous two books. Michelle certainly has her hands full! She now knows for sure that there is a demon, Gremory, walking the Earth and it wants her suffering and dead. Also, the witch clans have finally taken notice of her and they all want her to join their clan. Some are far ruder about it than others. Also, things with her possible boyfriend Elron have tanked. The wife he thought long dead is still alive and he’s grieving anew.

Ty the Trex is still one of my favorite characters. He’s both a protector and pet of Michelle’s. He’s pretty formidable because, hey, he’s a Trex. I did find it odd that Michelle insists on keeping him secret. First, she took him down in a previous book when he was rampaging around taking out gas stations and such on news cameras. Second, Michelle and Ty live at a Bed & Breakfast. I think most people know there’s a Trex on the property.

Elron is still a problem for me. I started to warm up to him in the previous book but I didn’t find him a good match for Michelle. Now in this book, he is weepy almost all of the time. On one hand, I can appreciate having a lead male character be in touch with his feelings. On the other hand, Elron was a very boring, dull, exhausting character.

Landa the Brownie who owns and runs the B&B is a great bit of comfort to both Elron and Michelle. While Michelle has a mother, it’s nice to see Landa step in here and there and provide a bit of motherly comfort. And the gargoyles! Yay! Horst who we met last book, has asked Julius, another but more powerful gargoyle, to come hang out and help protect the area. These gargoyles have secrets and I hope we see them again later in the series.

The rest of the book was fun. I like that Michelle is having to juggle so much at once and she’s not sure she’s capable of taking on some of these challenges. I loved how she repeatedly blew off the clans, including her own grandmother’s. These clans had no use for her or her mother before they learned how powerful she was. Also, no clan has offered to accept both her and her mother.

The demon Gremory is a whole different flavor of trouble. Michelle faces a serious foe in Gremory and he has many weapons, one of them being the body of Sylvia, Elron’s wife. He brings minions to the final battle, which was OK. I did find it a bit anticlimatic as I really wanted a good, major rumble with Gremory. Then there’s the wrap up, which could have been shorter for me.

I know this is a quibble but I’m going to say it anyway. Michelle says, ‘thank you’ so many times in this book. It started to grate on my nerves. I wanted the author to use a thesaurus to mix it up a bit with ‘thanks’ or ‘much appreciated’ or such. In some conversations she says, ‘thank you’ 3 or 4 times. It was repetitive. All told, a fun urban fantasy with a Trex. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeff Hays continues to do a great job as the voice of Michelle. He really does sound like a 20-something woman. He also has a great voice for Elron the Sad. I absolutely loved his voices for the gargoyles, making me think of sandpaper on stone. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jeff Hays. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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