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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 02:02
Parallax by D. T. Dyllin
Parallax - D.T. Dyllin

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, this works fine as a stand alone novel.

It was fun getting to know Tamzea in this novel. In Book 1, Starblind, she was a rather minor character. Here, she is center stage. Even as memories from her past haunt her dreams, her future lies rooted in that past. The Pittsburgh has bumped into an unexpected spacepod with an even more unexpected cargo. This cargo drags Tamzea back into a hell hole she once escaped.

Eron, Tamzea’s other half, has been trapped in that hell hole all these years. The two must figure out their escape together even as they decide on their new relationship. There’s plenty of sexy scenes in this book, as there was in Book 1. They are delightfully steamy even if some of them are rather brief.

This space opera is quick and breezy fun. Jane still has a role as captain. She’s got a whiny side when her mate, Ash, is off doing something, leaving her alone. Zula and Masha also put in appearances but their roles are small. I liked the new addition of Eron though I felt that most of the focus was on his most masculine attributes (especially during the sex scenes).

The pace is fast and well spaced between action scenes, sexy bits, and a little bit of character reflection or growth. The Denards continue to be the baddies in this series with little depth but I can live with that. While I did like Book 1 a little more, this was a good addition to the series. 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Ashley Holt continues to have a distinctive cadence in her narration. It’s not bad but it is an acquired taste. Since I was already familiar with her work from Starblind, I found her narration a good continuation for the series. Mostly, her character voices were distinct but sometimes they were muddied. Her male voices were masculine. Once again, I did speed up the narration just a touch (1.25X) as so many of the syllables are really drawn out. Increasing the speed made the narration sound more natural. 3.5/5 stars.

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

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review 2018-06-13 01:04
The Final Enemy by Dan Petrosini
The Final Enemy - Dan Petrosini

Imagine Jack Amato as a older, boring, arrogant Peter Parker who never got bit by a crazy spider and became a super hero. I never really warmed up to Jack and he plays center stage for the entire story. He wants to be an investigative reporter but mostly he has contacts where he wheedles info out of people, through begging or guilt trips. I also simply found him boring. I don’t have to like the main character to find them interesting and get into their story (like in Brave New WorldWuthering Heights, or Breaking Bad).

The main premise of the story held promise. A mysterious meteorite has crashed into the Earth and it has a very fascinating power: it grants immortality to most humans. You can still be murdered or die in an accident and there are a few medical conditions it can’t cure. So initially, there’s the breaking of the story and figuring this out. Then we have the sharing of the meteorite so all can benefit. Finally, what happens to the world if the population greatly increases because birth rates remain the same but death rates greatly drop off. Yet there was very little science and I do love my science in my science fiction. What little science bits were included made me cringe. As a biologist, I felt the author was just tossing some genetics terms in there without really understanding what they meant.

The setting was very one dimensional. This story takes place in the later half of the 21st century. Initially, there’s a few remarks about self-driving cars and other tech but we never have any examples. Honestly, this story could take place in the 1980s since the future tech had no role in this story.

All the decisions are made by male characters. Laura (Jack’s girlfriend) and Jack’s granma are the two recurring female characters. They are there to provide support and not much else. Laura initially has her own life but that is quickly minimized. In fact, there’s a scene where Laura is talking with Jack where she tells him she doesn’t want to be eclipsed by him. That gave me a chuckle because that happened several chapters back.

My favorite parts of the story were all the different ways the US government attempted to keep everyone fed. Some of these were pretty straight forward, like limiting the number of births, while others were more radical (and therefore more interesting). There’s also little snippets about how other countries are handling this unexpected world tragedy. I did feel that the tale left some big ideas out such as what people would grow at home to supplement their diet (anything from veggies to mushrooms to insects).

All together, the story has an interesting underlying backbone but it was clumsily executed. The characters were one dimensional and boring. I wanted more science but would have been satisfied with awesome characters had they been there. The story does leave us on a cliffhanger with possible hope hanging ready for Book 2. 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Joseph Kidawski was a good pick for the voice of Jack Amato. He sounds like a corn-fed midwestern reporter and he did a decent job of putting emotion into Jack’s voice. His female character voices were feminine and all his characters were distinct. There were a few times where a sentence or two were repeated. Twice I noticed a slight change in volume. 4/5 stars.

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

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review 2018-06-13 00:55
A Medical Miracle? by Alec Birri
CONDITION - Book One: A Medical Miracle? - Alec Birri

I was pretty impressed with this book. My favorite thing about it was that I was right alongside Dan Stewart, the main character, as he discovered one thing after another. It was absolutely delicious trying to work this story out. As Dan fits one puzzle piece together after another, so did I. Dan didn’t always have it right at the first go, but even his wrong guesses gave us another smidge of info.

Dan is plagued by the same daily questions from his doctor, visions of his brother Bryan, and that odd feeling that folks around him are constantly lying to him. Is he paranoid? Maybe… maybe not. Tracy, the head nurse who he interacts with the most, seems to have his best at heart but he’s still not sure about that. It could just be that he’s in love with the size of her bosom. His wife and good friend Tony seem to have secrets from him too, the kind that makes his blood boil. Even Bryan refuses to answer some of his basic questions.

Every time I thought I had the underlying mystery figured out, a new bit of info would present itself and I would figure out that I’m wrong. I was totally OK with that because it meant this story had more to offer. At first, it appears Dan is being treated for burns and has been unconscious for 6 months, which would explain his muddled mind. But why all the little lies from staff and family?

This story has one weakness and that is the ladies. Tracy gets the most page time and has the most developed character. However, most of her character centers on her chest and her desire for a serious romance. The Lady Prime Minister could turn out to be an interesting character later in the series but right now she is one dimensional: righteous anger. Dan’s wife gets a few lines here and there and she’s just in the story to be of comfort. There’s a few other female minor characters.

The real villain of the tale, Professor Savage, doesn’t make a strong appearance until the last third of the book. He’s the genius behind this new treatment for the ‘condition’ and yet he may have an ulterior motive. He doesn’t seem to mind sacrificing a few eggs to make an omelette. I look forward to him being a bigger character in Book 2. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jonathan Keeble did a very nice job with this story. He makes a perfect Dan, with his posh air and demanding to know this and that while also keeping him very human in his confusion, anger, and fear. His female voices were good too. Each character is distinct in his performance. I especially liked his sinister, older voice for Professor Savage. 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 Alec Birri. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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