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review 2018-01-26 23:36
The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper
The Feedback Loop: (Book One) (Sci-Fi Series) (Volume 1) - Harmon Cooper
Initially, I was drawn into this world that Quantum is trapped in. Every day starts off with yet one more attempt to kill him. He’s got it down to a T now because he’s stuck in this cybergame on some kind of loop. Life holds no more mysteries for him, except for the big one: why is he trapped here and how can he get out? This story definitely has elements of the movie Groundhog Day (which I always found boring) but luckily this story gives us just a taste of Quantum’s repetitive life before something new happens.
Frances Euphoria walks in, boobs first. Yep, her physical attributes are the first things we learn about and her skills only come on display later. In fact, all the ladies in this story (including a voluptuous waitress) are described first by their looks and perhaps, maybe, later by some important skill they have. After I finished rolling my eyes at this, I really liked what Euphoria brought to the table: A possible way out! Quantum will do nearly anything at this point to escape this personal hell.
The plot thickens as Quantum tries harder and harder to escape. He had slipped into a kind of complacency but now as he pushes back against the Loop, more and more deadly things and characters are set against him. There is also an unexpected ally.
Just as I was getting sucked into this tale, we neared the end. Things felt a little rushed towards the end and I wanted more out of Euphoria. While Quantum was surprised by who was behind his imprisonment, it wasn’t a surprise to me. 3.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Jeff Hays never disappoints. All of his character voices were distinct and his female voices are excellent. Also, his enthusiasm for this story came through in his performance. I liked his grumbly voice for Quantum and his ticked off voice for Euphoria. 5/5 stars.
I won a free copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own.
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review 2018-01-26 21:54
Welcome to Ludus by Blaise Corvin
Delvers LLC: Welcome to Ludus - Blaise Corvin
Henry and Jason are engaging characters. They have a little knowledge about weapons, armor, and fighting and these are definitely put to the test right away on Ludus. Dolos, the omnipotent god of Ludus, is a jerk but Henry and Jason strike a bargain with him and are determined to win. I am skeptical that Dolos will hold up his end of the bargain. Still, I hope Henry and Jason best him by the end of the series.
The first big hurdle for the guys is to take out some orc-like creatures that have taken some human-like captives. Enter Mareen, the first maiden that needs saving. Now she’s not all helpless. She puts up a fight and is quick to recover enough to get out of there with the guys and back to safety where she can fall apart in private. So, she held potential from the beginning…. if only the author had used that potential.
The quests and magic continue from there. Henry is more the reactive, leader type while Jason is much more the thinker. The inhabitants of Ludus know how Henry and Jason got here because either they themselves were brought here for Dolos’s entertainment or their ancestors were. So they offer what knowledge they have to Jason and Henry.
There’s caves and dungeons to explore to gain treasure and the chance to level up your magical skills. It really felt like these characters were immersed in an epic fantasy computer game. Mostly I enjoyed the world building, though there were a few times where explaining the rules dragged things down a bit.
For some reason, Mareen remains our only female character for some time. Also, her destiny is to fall in love. Yep… sigh…. really? Eventually, we get Uulula who is basically an elf. She’s a bit more interesting than Mareen when we first meet her. Both ladies do get some skills but their main focus is to serve as love interests for Henry and Jason. Since there are so few ladies in a large cast, I really needed them to shine and they didn’t. While they had a little depth by the end of the book, they were pretty much cookie cutter, interchangeable characters which was greatly disappointing. Keeja is the one female character that holds my interest but she comes in near the very end of Book 1. I’m really hoping that the author keeps her around for the rest of the series.
All told, it’s a fun, breezy take on the epic fantasy genre even with it’s flaws. I hope Book 2 holds my interest more than Book 1. 3.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Jeff Hayes was the star of this book. It’s his performance that kept me going. All his character voices are distinct and his female voices are very believable. Hayes sounded engaged for the entire book and appears to have enjoyed giving voice to this story. I loved his serious, grumpy voice for Henry and his flippant voice for Keeja. 5/5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own.
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review 2018-01-14 02:56
Audio Book Review: Hero of Thera
Hero of Thera - Eric Nylund Hero of Thera - Eric Nylund

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Hector Savage is on death row, for a bombing he's framed for. He's received his last request and ready to game on the laptop for his last twelve hours of life. As he readies to log in, time stops and a demon visits who claims to have business to conduct with Hector. Play as a character in the world of Thera. This is a live action game that keeps many universes from warring. Hector has a choice - die via lethal injection in less than twelve hours or play the ultimate, coolest game there is...and maybe live.

Jeff shines again with a multitude of characters and voices to match. It's great to see Mr. Null in 3 forms when we meet him, and the voice in each form matches, making it feel real and fitting. Jeff never lets me down in his performances. He entertains me while I'm drawn into the story, listening to what feels like a live show. Thank you for another amazing voice action performance!

I found I was drawn into the creation of the realm of Thera. The way Hector is drawn to it, it's like a game but oh so real. You live or die here, but it's the adventure and action that everyone who's played video games could ever want.

I love the early on irony that appears in Hector's life here. The Hector's reason for being in prison and what the last choice to save those in a village in Thera is. The one thing he didn't do in life, he'll have to do in Thera. Then when we get the secrets behind all that's happened with Hector. Wow. I loved how things panned out.

There was a few moments the direction of the character felt to get a little distorted for me. When we start we know exactly what he wants, and still wants, and where things are going with the trial. We then know he does not want to be a fighter for the clan he's in (demons, that's not good), so he figures out how to adjust for that. After that... I'm a little fuzzy on what his new drive and direction is. There was a lot of details given at one time here with the Game Master so it could be tucked in there and I missed it. I'm thinking his new direction is to stay alive on Thera, and prevent the Abyssal Lords from coming after him. But there felt like there should be more. He has a huge secret that NO ONE can know of, and that's something that's got to stay that way. When things calmed in the story, after I thought this, we got Hector listing things out and this is clarified.

I got the feel of a theme that asked and had me wondering, what really is evil. There are things people do in their lives that's not good, but it's to survive. There are those who just do mean things. But which is worse than the other? This got my mind spinning on the idea and thinking.

I do enjoy the world of Thera. It's a fantasy world with rifts. Rather cool. Sort of like many fantasy worlds we've seen or read about in the way of creatures and living. And rifts that connect to other worlds. Hector has to live here in Thera, but he has an overlay that he can tap into to see his health and skills along with a virtual carrying system. It's real life with a game overlay for him and any other players here.

I like the need of balance along with the creation of Game Master (GM). GM is neither good or bad, but the one that works to keep things on an even keel in the world. This feels to go hand in hand with the theme of what's evil. I found there is much you can play with on this type of board and feel to a character.

In the end, I found I really liked the world created and how the game is also life for the characters. I will gladly listen to future installments of books in this world.

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review 2018-01-14 02:50
Audio Book Review: EverRealm
EverRealm (Level Dead Book 1) - Jake Bib... EverRealm (Level Dead Book 1) - Jake Bible

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

The human world has ended. Humans and animals are now the undead and own the world. Steve is one of nine who have created virtual worlds that join at the place they call Center. They plan to live in their own Domains for eternity, as long as the main power keeps going. But, when they arrive at the Center there are two of the nine missing. Trying to help his friend, then warn others, Henry brings the nightmare of the real world to them when he thought he could filter the infection out while transitioning to where they were to be safe. Now they need to find the infected that's loose in their worlds...somewhere...

When I go into an audiobook knowing Jeff's the narrator, I have high expectations. I look for different voices and personalities to come to life. And I get them. I love listening to Jeff voice all the characters differently. It's entertaining for me in listening along with makes it easy to differentiate everyone. When a voice actor puts this much effort into a piece, it shows and makes the book along with his work shine. Sometimes the small things make the book all the better, like overlaying several voices at one time when all speak. Jeff does that, and it's totally cool. He really makes me feel as though it's a show and live.

Let me talk about the world creation. I wasn't sure how it was all going to relate at the beginning. Jake gives us the ground work as to why and how this is done, though it's quick to not slow the pacing of the story. I followed it all easily and found it interesting to see it come together when I get into the Center with Steve and others. And what we learn through the book in how the worlds are connected.

Undead, gaming worlds of different structure... action has to happen! Cool combo!

Steve's relationships with each of the characters grows more as they fight together to save the worlds they've created for themselves. And we get to know his friends as we go. I like the humor Steve's written with. And felt bad for him because when he tried to make a joke or state anything he was wrong in his doing in EverRealm it Always seeming to cause problems.

Speaking of problems... wow, do things really get messed up here in EverRealm. With the undead and with what Steve and friends do. It's crazy! But it all works together and somehow works out in the end. For me, the story felt smooth in flow with these problems. It all fit the world, characters, and situations.

Another cool creation for the LitRPG world in books. I really like that they are leaving the "real" world behind for virtual ones, and the reason behind it all. This gives the solid reason for coming to the gaming worlds in my mind. We get the explanations of how it's done, but it's not over science-y to lose us. It's just what it is.

I will say this is a game RPG setting, but I don't feel like I'm in a "game". The RPG setting is actually to be their homes. That makes the world real and important to them. What they do here has an impact and they try to live knowing that. Also, we aren't always grasping for our tool bar to see supplies and stats. Steve does do it, but it's not a constant thing.

I'm really enjoying the LitRPG books I've been getting lately. Jeff's voice acting is fun and fits the worlds and characters so well. And the stories are alive and feel more than just a "gaming" atmosphere. Well done with this one Jake!

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review 2018-01-14 02:13
Audio Book Review: Hyperborea
Fantasy Online Hyperborea: A LitRPG Saga... Fantasy Online Hyperborea: A LitRPG Saga - Harmon Cooper,George C. Hopkins,Jeff Hays

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Ryuk and Tamana have gamed together for years. At Tamana's request, they restart with new avatars in Titania. When they logout, Tamana is attacked and Ryuk watches her jump to her death in a train station. Then Ryuk is attacked by a Thulian warrior from the game. He knows it can't be real but seeing it makes it hard to believe. With the help of his human droid bodyguard Ryuk realizes it's not real. There are posts in gaming forums that people have been experiencing this, and dying. Someone's hacking their iNet. Ryuk is determined to warn others he once knew, and spend time with his lost friend in the world of Titania.

Jeff is always a treat for me to listen to. I have high standards going into one of his narrations, and he delivers! I expect to the characters to each have their own voice and life to come through as he acts them. I expect to have the characters easily differentiated in their voices and personalities. I expect to be entertained with the enthusiasm of the narrator. Jeff hits all these points and more with clear audio.

Harmon takes the world we last visited with Quantum and creates it's own series with it. Titania is the perfect world to play with as a spin-off. There are three layers to the world which you can only get to by reaching different levels in your character.

But! We also have a new trouble for the players several years after Quantum and his battles. Their iNet, a program in their eye, is hacked and they are seeing the evils from the world they just logged out of. It's getting them killed! Ryuk is a character that is not going to take this, especially after the girl he's known for years and asked out is now dead because of it.

It's neat how the game world is connected to the real person. See, if the person dies in the real world they will be reborn in their game - RPC (reborn player character).

There are mentions of Quantum and the characters from the original series. This book takes place years after Quantum has been through the game. We hear the name of the guild that Quantum started, Ryuk had been part of that guild before he reset to start over in the game. Then he goes in search of them, leveling up, to tell them what is happening in the world now. Ryuk is determined to help his friend in RPC form as it's the closest thing to her he can get, and wants. Ryuk's wants seem to go against what he should be doing in Titania. But this is his inner conflict with what has happened to his dearest friend. This is something he'll have to work through in order to move on to what the next step is.

We are introduced to Ryuk and his friends and family here. The new problems in the gaming world of Titania is strongly influencing the real world. We learn there is more going on and in the end we are anxious to get to the next book. It felt a bit like a cliffhanger with the leads on Kodai. I want to find out who he's working with and what the next phase is. There is something bigger than Kodai knows going on here, and I want to know what!

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