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review 2017-05-21 16:05
Audio Book Review: Command Decisions
Command Decisions: Book 3 of The Empire of Bones Saga (Volume 3) - Terry Mixon

*I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

Captain Jared Mertz and Princess Kelsey have been living in Pentagaran space since the fight with the Pale Ones that crippled their ship. They've been working to get Courageous up to speed along with helping Pentagar build their fleet of ships to fight the Rebels when they return to Erorsi. Surprisingly, six ships from the Empire come through the weak flip point that has stranded Jared and his crew here. And the captain is one who's not a fan of Jared's and difficult to work with. Jared and Kelsey have their work cut out for them on all sides of the line as battles come faster then they hoped.


Veronica has returned for the next Empire of Bones novel, yea! She voices each person as their own. The characters have their own voice tone and personality. By doing this Veronica makes listening entertaining and easy to differentiate the large cast of characters. Thank you! The audio is clear and easy to listen to.


I love the character interactions here! The ones we love are here and interacting better than we ever hoped. Relationships of all kind are growing stronger. I absolutely love Jared and Kelsey. Then their's Elise and Talbot and all others that surround them. All are amazing people and lived through so much already. Kelsey gets to demonstrate her power as second in line to the throne (of the Empire) and it's awesome! Add to it the strength she holds from the implants. Dang that woman is a force to reckon with.

Kelsey. Wow. She's such a strong female character. She's everything wrapped into one little package. She's small, but she is mighty! She has the power to verbally put people into place and quick thinking to get around things. But with her implants, she's also a physically strong woman. Everyone tries to protect her with being the princess, but she can protect herself just the same. Jared faced the frustrating prejudice he has always faced in the Empire as the Kings illegitimate son. I feel he does this with the honor he feels he should, and accepts it. However another doesn't see it that way and feels Jared is worth more credit (tons more!) than he's given. There is a direction taken in the story for this very reason, and it's well deserved.

Then we have new members added. Oh, the new captain we see... Captain Breckenridge. Grrr. I hate him when we meet him. And continue to not care for him as the story goes. Though, he is written to be that way. He's a stubborn old man that won't listen but thinks he knows all. Grrr. He adds a new challenge to the story. I found I was not looking forward to seeing him in scenes because he was just trouble, but I love Kelsey as she stands up to him.

The ships from home that are now stuck in space with them adds a new difficulty in Kelsey and Jared's lives. They are already working to prepare for fights that are coming. And there are more to worry about getting home or what they are going to do next.

The AI and computer connections are starting to unfold for Kelsey and Jared. Wow. The things that we learn here. I'm stunned. And the potential of what's yet to come by learning this... Oh this is so good. Then there's what we learn of the Rebel Empire forces that were to come in contact with the AI on Erorsi (which was found)... The connections are becoming open to us with Kelsey, Jared, and Elise and so many more.

Oh Terry has done an amazing job of creating a system with the Empire I find believable. And the history to go with it! I love the chain of command we see in the space fleet. We get to see that a bit more here. I get the feel we are constantly moving forward with the characters, never going backward - except for that darn new Captain getting in our way, even then things move forward. There is always something to explore and learn about here. And Kelsey is written in a way that she wants to hear all opposing thoughts, which opens up the story even more. Wonderfully written!

Oh man! I know there's more to this history of the Rebel Empire and AI's. And I want to know it! What was the intent of the ship Invincible that they found? There are connections to the planet. Dang! I want more! This book ends with the big battle in space, but leaves me wanting more with the curiosity of what will happen on the planet they found. Thank heavens I have the next audio book!

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review 2017-05-21 15:57
Audio Book Review: Primal Dawn
Primal Dawn - Ryan Kirk Primal Dawn - Ryan Kirk

*At my request, this audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.


From the beginning I enjoyed the suspense added by Andrew's voice to Ryan's words. The action of what the character was doing was something common, but between the two (Ryan's writing and Andrew's vocal) the tension is added, bringing the hunt to life. Andrew gives each character their own voice in tone and feel. Andrew has brought the story to life without me even knowing it. His narration has given the characters voices and personality, and he doesn't get in the way of what the author has created. A wonderful job for Andrew.


The clash of a primal world of simple humans with humans of another world full of science and technology.

The story is well written, from what I feel and hear in the audiobook, but it just feels as though Ryan hasn't brought anything new to the idea of humans coming to a new planet to take samples.

We get two point of views in this story; Tev and Kindra. They are both of different origins and views of what's to come about in their lives. They are both very strong characters as well. In the beginning I wasn't sure about Tev, but he quickly became my favorite character as he developed into more through the pages.

Tev is a smart and logical person. I liked that Ryan does not downplay Tev's mental capacity even though he's not of the technologically inclined world. Tev logically thinks things out, even though his world's not as advanced as Kindra's. By getting Tev's POV we see how he thinks through things to communicate and takes in what he finds.

What I found interesting was Kindra and a huge decision she makes. This decision feels unusual from what I thought she would do. Ryan takes the leap to make his characters go further and gives them a setting to do things they would not normally do. This is a decision that will change lives, but could be the only choice to save the life on the planet they've visited. Very interesting. This is one thing that sticks out in my mind about the story, and makes the story individual.

This is the starts to a new series. It feels basic in humans searching for life and finding it. But I think the series will take off now that we've gotten through this and heading back out to space to search some more. I'm looking forward to the situations the characters will have to face.

I'm curious to see where the characters go after this. There is another planet being searched at the same time, so what's found there by others? And where else is there to visit?

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review 2017-05-21 15:19
Audio Book Review: The Feedback Loop
The Feedback Loop: (Book One) (Sci-Fi Se... The Feedback Loop: (Book One) (Sci-Fi Series) (Volume 1) - Harmon Cooper

*I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

Quantum Hughes has been stuck in The Loop of a virtual game for nearly two years. Reliving the same day, over and over killing the assassins who come for him. Until one day he receives a message from Frances Euphoria claiming to have returned for him. Things change in the world, the way they interact with him and more.


Jeff is one of the amazing narrators I know I love listening to. He adds entertainment to the stories by voicing them all completely different. Each character has their own voice and personality. I love it! You can feel the moments in them, like when sarcastic along with humor and more. The different voices, for male and female, makes it tremendously easy to quickly differentiate the characters and get a feel for the story.

Sometimes the books of being stuck in a virtual game or video game are boring for me. I just feel as they are the same read written by a different person. This one, however, felt more alive to me. Quantum felt to be connected to his world he was stuck in. Even though it repeated he was use to a pattern and it became something he relied on. When it all changes, Quantum tries to slip back to what he knows best even though he doesn't want to be here any longer. This book was strong character wise.

The world in which Quantum lives has a 1950's feel with a dark dreariness to the places Quantum visits. There is danger with a higher tech feel as it's a virtual game setting he's stuck in that combines the elements. It's neat because we get small phrases from the time frame. Yet it's a fantasy setting as well with assassins.

What do you do to not get bored repeating the same day for nearly two years? Quantum tries changing up the weapon he kills the assassins coming after him with. This I found humorous at times. He does different things and goes different places, but you can only do so much after 544 days have passed.

I enjoyed the humor in some of Quantum's quick clips and comments. This was entertaining to listen to. I had a feel of a few different blends in this creation. Fantasy, 1950's, Matrix, and more. I enjoyed this story to the end and look forward to seeing Quantum get stronger and venture in the virtual world again to help more people.

I see there are many more books in this series and hope they will be narrated because I'd love to listen to them!

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review 2017-05-21 15:08
Audio Book Review: A Human Element
A Human Element - Donna Galanti

*I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Donna Galanti and Auspicious Apparatus Press. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


Chase is a new voice for me. In the first chapter I wanted a little more emotion from him, to feel Ben's excitement at looking at the starts and his stunned sorrow at what happened when the meteorite hit. After listening, Chase did do some softer tones with the female characters or deeper tone if noted for a male character. But not a lot of difference between characters other than that. Chase was an okay voice for me. The audio felt clean and no mistakes while I listened.


We have two characters we follow through their lives, Laura and Ben. Ben lives a completely different life than Laura, it's a bit darker in growing up and living. We see little things that Laura does to help those she meets and cares for. Ben...I wasn't sure he has any abilities, but he's had a rough life after the meteorite crashed into the cabin his parents were in. We get the answer to why Ben is so important. But Laura has abilities and we see that from the beginning. There is something more to her.

I know the beginning is building up our relationship with the main characters, building who they are from main events in their lives. But it felt slow for me. We get glimpses of their lives over the years, moments that are (I guess) to be huge impacts on them. I liked Laura but not Ben as much. I should feel bad for Ben with his upbringing, but I just didn't feel it.

Laura makes a vow when her parents die, to never use her powers again. I found this to not connect for me. She wasn't there to try to help them when they died, so that wouldn't connect to her powers. The other two vows, yes they fit and connect. Though I grew to accept this vow as the book progressed.

We get most of the story between Laura and Ben. But there are a few moments that we get from others. The other views share input on if that person is really good or bad, or shares about things we don't know yet. These characters are interesting and highly influential to out main characters.

Each chapter gives us the year it's happening in. We also get told how old everyone is. It's specifically given, so we don't have to do that math but feels like it's an extra in each chapter. After a while, I got tired of being told.

In the chapters there are moments where we reflect on things that happened or how the character came to this moment. Sometimes, with being audio, I would get confused as to when I am in their lives. But then the author would give a solid line that lets me know what I read was a reflective moment and where we are now. There's a lot of reflective moments.

I struggled with believing Laura and her reasoning. At times it felt like she was doing what the author wanted, not living her life. That sounds strange as it's written by the author, but her movements didn't feel to have a continuous flow for me all the time, she was going through the actions of the story. I guess it's more I just didn't feel the sympathetic or empathetic feel for the characters.

The story felt traditional in the genre it's written. This isn't a bad thing, just didn't wow me either.

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review 2017-05-21 02:10
Decision at Doona by Anne McCaffrey
Decision at Doona - Anne McCaffrey

I’ve read many of Anne McCaffrey’s books, but for some reason I never got around to her Doona books. This first one primarily stars Ken Reeve. Earth is enormously overcrowded, so Ken is excited to learn that Doona, a planet uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings, has been discovered and that he and his family have been picked to be some of the first colonists.

The “uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings” part is important. Two hundred years earlier, a botched first contact situation led to an entire alien species, the Siwannese, committing suicide. This led to the Non-Cohabitation Principle, which stated that humans could only colonize a planet if there was no evidence that intelligent beings already lived there. Doona seems perfect - until the human colonists come across a settlement of cat-like aliens known as Hrrubans.

Nobody wants to go back to overcrowded Earth, but the Non-Cohabitation Principle is serious business. Still, it isn’t as easy as just packing up and leaving. They need the bigwigs back on Earth to believe what they’ve seen and reported, they need a ship, and they need orders on how to conduct themselves until a ship can come pick them up. Meanwhile, the Hrrubans don’t seem to care about any of that and are just as determined to interact with the humans as the humans are to keep their interactions with the Hrrubans friendly but brief.

I tend to gravitate towards first contact science fiction. And one with stubbornly friendly cat-like aliens? Gimme! Unfortunately, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I expected I would.

The first third of the book was probably the best. I enjoyed the humans’ initial interactions with the Hrrubans, particularly the Hrrubans’ polite determination to work together with the humans. I also liked that this seemed to be a subversion of the usual “colonists with more advanced technology save the poor low-tech natives” story, without going the “mystical natives” route. The Hrrubans were polite and friendly, yes, but even the humans noticed that the Hrrubans seemed more concerned with them learning the Hrruban way of speaking and doing things than the other way around. And although the Hrrubans asked the humans for help building a bridge, in the end it didn’t seem like the humans were particularly necessary at all. The Hrrubans had all the necessary materials, technology, and knowledge, so the bridge-building was really more of a cross-species togetherness activity than anything.

Early on, I suspected that there was more going on with the Hrrubans than they were letting on. How had whole Hrruban villages gone unnoticed during the initial evaluations of Doona as a possible colony planet candidate? Why were the Hrrubans handling first contact with humans so calmly and so well? I had a guess as to what was going on, and I really wanted to find out if I was right or if McCaffrey had something even better up her sleeve. I enjoyed the big reveal, when it came, although I was a little less thrilled with it when I realized that the book included an enormous spoiler at the beginning that I just hadn’t been observant enough to catch. It also bugged me that the big reveal essentially negated some of the things I’d previously enjoyed about the book.

The characters were pretty flat - most of them were little more than names to me. Also, many aspects of the story were dated. There was a reference to a hugely important event in 2010 that, obviously, never happened (and was linguistically suspect). And the colonists anxiously read communications from Earth using microfilm readers.

The thing that really turned me off this book, though, was Todd, Ken’s 6-year-old son. Since Earth was so overcrowded, everyone was taught from an early age to be quiet, move carefully, and not take up too much space. Todd violated societal norms by being loud, energetic, and occasionally aggressive. He was so difficult to deal with during the journey to Doona that he’d had to be locked up and supervised in 4-hour shifts. One of his first actions upon arriving on Doona was to run up to one of the Hrrubans and yank his tail as hard as he could.

While I could sympathize with Todd’s frustration with the requirement to keep his behavior restrained and with the way he was treated (more on that in a bit), the tail-yanking was absolutely not okay and he should have been old enough to know better. The humans were horrified, but surprisingly the Hrrubans treated Todd indulgently. Later on, one of them even said that his behavior indicated he’d one day be a leader.

As much as I disliked Todd, I also didn’t like the way his parents spoke of him. Until a certain point in the book, Todd’s mom (Pat, Ken’s wife) never said anything truly positive about him and Ken’s feelings about him were mixed but leaned heavily towards negative. At one point, Ken almost beat Todd but refrained because he’d have had an audience. When the Hrrubans offered to essentially act as Todd’s daycare, Pat couldn’t have agreed more quickly and Ken’s protests were token at best. (I initially understood the Hrrubans’ offer as a kind of temporary adoption, which made Pat and Ken’s relief and celebratory sex especially difficult to take.)

Todd turned out to be instrumental to the book’s ending, and...ugh. McCaffrey wanted readers to believe that 6-year-old Todd was incapable/unwilling to conform to behavioral norms on Earth, and yet

willing and able to become fluent in both the formal and informal varieties of a new language, learn an alien species’ formal etiquette, and behave according to those rules for hours on end.

(spoiler show)

Um, no. Even an adult would probably have had periods of boredom and mental exhaustion.

McCaffrey was one of my favorite authors when I was a teen, but this definitely isn’t making it onto my list of favorite books by her. Still, I won’t rule out reading the next book in the series, which was published a couple decades later and might potentially work better for me.

 

Rating Note:

 

I debated between 1.5 and 2 stars for this. In the end, I decided that the stuff with Todd, plus the many difficult-to-believe aspects of the world-building, pushed this more towards 1.5 stars than 2.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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