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Kawokee “I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. I had high hopes for this book, but it ended up being fairly mediocre for me. The premise hooked me right from the start, and the beginning of the story felt really promising. But then the pace slowed down and nothing really happened. What really aggravated me, however, was the fact that Jasmine Char was supposed to be an anthropologist, but she only acted with a scientific mind half the time. An incident occurs in the last third of the book where Char participates in a Kawokee tradition, but she gets so bored that she no longer pays any attention. You're an anthropologist! All of this is important to your mission! Without giving too much away, that scene goes on to pay an important part in the end, but because she essentially failed at doing her job properly, Char never realizes it until the last minute. All that was honestly too much for me to handle. If Char lived up to her potential as an anthropologist -one who actually does her job- and there was a lot more science built into this book, it could have been really good. But my aggravation with Char and the slow pace left me very underwhelmed. Caren Naess did a suitable job as a narrator. Nothing to write home about, but nothing that held the book back, either.”
Claimed As Revenge (Mafia Masters, Book 4) “I needed time to distance myself from this audiobook, because ... really? Being upfront, dark romance really isn't a genre that I care for, but I love mafia romances. So I felt like I would be able to handle the darker aspects of the romance just for the mafia part, but this was just too much. I hated Miguel. I don't think I've ever disliked a hero in a romance novel more than I did him. I hated the emphasis on master and slave, especially when no BDSM rules had been established. He demanded respect and obedience without ever trying to gain Valencia's trust. He freaking spanked her on the side of the road without her consent while traffic drove by honking in appreciation! And then the bathroom scene?! How in the ever-loving hell could anyone show respect for someone who treated you that way when there were no terms or discussion beforehand? "You have nothing of importance, Valencia." How freaking demeaning and cruel. Why do readers like this treatment of the heroines? This is not BDSM, it's treating a person like crap. In fact, it's borderline abuse. If a woman said their spouse was treating them this way, from barely consensual spanking to keeping Valencia's cello from her to refusing to allow her to talk to anyone, we'd be seeing all the red flags and telling her to get away from her significant other. As romance readers, we should be expecting better from our heroes and heroines. I don't care if this was a dark romance. This was abuse, pure and simple. Just thinking about this book has me angry all over again. Sorry, I'm off my soapbox. As for Valencia, I felt the author made her way too one-dimensional. She honestly felt more like a prop for Miguel than anything, and a stereotypical one at that. I honestly don't know why she fell in love with Miguel. Were the sex scenes hot? Yes, but they often didn't come with with any kind of emotional connection. I'm trying to think of something positive to say about this book and ... well, the narrator wasn't awful? It took me a while to adjust to how Jack Calihan read this book. Miguel lived in South Florida and was a first generation Puerto Rican, so hearing him have a slight accent sort of made sense. But Valenica was 100% Cuban and sounded like a typical rich American woman. Why? Just to make Miguel seem sexier? That's stupid. But as the book progressed, Miguel's accent slowly disappeared. Valencia's accent never appears, but at least it's sort of more even. I guess. I will say that Calihan did a pretty good job handling a woman's voice, even if she didn't have an accent. Then again, I don't know how this came across to those who read it, but Calihan made Miguel seem like a huge stereotype and it really turned me away from this book. And this is just more of a personal taste, but I wish authors would stop referring to grown women as girls. They're adults, treat them the same way you do the men. I received a free review copy of this book from Audiobooks Unleashed as part of its Verified Reviewer program and am voluntarily leaving a review.”
The Invisible Man – Unabridged “Though I rated this as 4 stars, I would say the story itself is more 3 stars and the performance 5 stars. I need to start this review by being upfront about my knowledge of The Invisible Man. Though I have long been aware of H.G. Wells' novel, what I knew of the Invisible Man came from the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ... and maybe a little bit from the Hotel Transylvania movies. So, to me, the Invisible Man was a quirky, ornery character who liked a lot of mischief. “He is mad,” said Kemp. “Inhuman. He’s pure selfishness. He thinks nothing but his own vantage, his own safety.” Whoa, buddy, did I finally realize what the original Invisible Man was like with this audiobook. Starting out, I really enjoyed this book. The Invisible Man was living up to my expectations, though maybe he was a little bit more irascible than I expected. It wasn't until Mr. Marvel was introduced in the story and I got to see the true depths of the Invisible Man that I realized how mean and self-centered he was. My enjoyment of the book dropped off from that point. A most interesting commentary appeared at the end of this audiobook, and it pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter. "Griffin (the Invisible Man) lacks the mental strength, if such exists, to understand and control himself or his actions after his transformation. The power that his invisibility has given him proves too alluring for him to resist. The anonymity and complete freedom to perform whatever acts he wishes without fear of reprisal is a temptation he cannot ignore or withstand for long. Griffin comes to believe himself superior to other mortals, his powers giving him a warped sense of invincibility and strength. Wells explores this weakness of character, asking if it is a temptation any man could resist if suddenly all the most basic human impulses could be expressed without fear of censure or consequence. From petty theft to outright larceny and burglary and worse, Griffin slowly and inevitably descends further and further into criminality and seems to have lost all control of himself, even lacking the will or desire to curb his malignant impulses. Could any human being with such powers at their disposal and without a worry of being caught and held responsible for whatever actions are performed, no matter how veenal and despicable, resist the temptation to give in to these, the basest of instincts? Or can morality and basic human nature curb these impulses? Is Griffin typical or atypical of how an invisible person might behave with such an awesome power at their transparent fingertips?" Despite not enjoying the story all that much, the audiobook I listened to was performed phenomenally. Produced by Fort Raphael Publishing Company and narrated by Kevin Theis, this work is something that I imagined playing on the radios in the 1930s (much like with the War of the Worlds broadcast) with the family gathered round and being terrified with each new chapter. It was wonderfully performed (it even included sound effects!) and produced. In fact, I believe Theis was the perfect person to narrate this book. It was such an enjoyable performance.”
Absolution “I’m really glad I had all four books in this series lined up in my Audible app so I could roll from one right into the other. I was doing some household chores when I finished Liberation and cued Absolution right up. Rachel Ford picked up nearly right where she left off and I feel like these last two books were the stronger ones within the series. The challenges that each character had to face were compelling and it kept the action moving so that I was no longer as annoyed by the narrator as I was in the first and, especially, the second book. I like how Rachel Ford combined the story lines of Nikia Idan and Brek Trigan: Nikia being forced to serve and act as a face of the successful revolution because of Grel and the baby; Brek learning how to be a minister in a world that he feels uncomfortable in. There was so much potential, both political and personal, here that I couldn't wait to see where it went. Again, I loved the story line for Captain Elgin. There was a bunch of action and intrigue with his parts, and I loved his interactions with his fellow Captain Mercer. I would have been happy to see more of him. One of the issues that I had with this series is that I felt many of the bigger story arcs were glossed over or too brief. I know the first three books were fairly short and Absolution was double the length of those, but I really wish Ford would have delved deeper into all the major areas of the series: the bad guys, the fights, etc. Just when I would really settle into the story it would jump into something else. The big scenes didn't have enough meat to sustain me. I wanted more! I will say that there was plenty going on in this final book of the series. Maybe a little too much? It just seemed like Ford kept tossing plot after plot into the story when it would have been stronger to break each new conflict into a different book and expand the series, or just cut some of the fluff altogether. Now that I've finished the series, I would rate the audiobook narrator at a solid C. I disliked Megan Green through the first two books. By the third I adjusted to her quirks and I mostly cruised along with her in the fourth book. I still believe this series would have been better served by having a male narrator or someone who is excellent at doing a range of male voices, considering the number of main male characters there are in this book. One note on the production of the audiobook. Green's transitions between scenes were so quick that sometimes I was bewildered on what was going on. It sounded more like a continuation of a sentence rather than a changing of perspective. It's a small matter, but would make it easier to listen to and understand if there were slight pauses in those parts. I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.”
Liberation “This was the kind of revolution action that I had been expecting from this series. From Captain Elgin to Brek to the Protector on the ice prison planet and the reformers marching on Parliament, these were the scenes and story lines that I had been wanting from the first two books. I feel like there's more tension and an actual way to move the story forward than what came from Catalyst and Uprising. I did wish, however, that Rachel Ford dug into each story line deeper. This book is where everything got really good, but I didn't feel like each part received the justice it deserved. Really, I think each story line - Brek, Nikia, Elgin, and the Protector - could have stood on its own rather than combining all the meaty stuff into one book. Those arcs each could have been expanded to make Liberation even better, though the arcs stayed within the theme of the book. I'm still not completely sold on Nikia. I think a lot of it has to do with how Megan Green voices her, which sort of comes across as breathless and innocent. To me, Nikia should appear stronger and harder for what she has been through. Maybe that's the fault of the author for not expanding and growing Nikia, but the voice doesn't help either. Again, I'll reiterate that I don't believe Green was a great choice for this series because her voices for the male characters are not very good. However, I was so hooked into this book that it didn't annoy me nearly as much in Liberation as it did in Uprising. I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.”
Uprising “As I started this book, I completely agreed with Grel about having kids when you can't afford them or bringing them into a world where they will suffer. But Nikia also had a right to fight for what she wanted, and I was really uncomfortable when she kept saying it's all for Grel. She had done all the sacrificing and I hoped Grel realized there needed to be a balance in their relationship. I don’t think the characters in this book were as strong as, or had as great of potential, as Brek in the novella. Honestly, I’m hoping that Brek’s story will be brought back into this world because right now I can’t figure out why it matters in the whole scheme of things right now when Uprising trod the same ground as Catalyst. I found more interest in Captain Elgin and the governor in the oil fields than I did with Nikia and Grel. Really, I hope the next book will spin off Elgin’s story. I still don't think Megan Green was the right narrator for this series. Honestly, she reminds me of the narrator that did Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, though that worked out great. Green struggles with men's voices and differentiating between the characters. Sometimes they will sound like they have severe colds with a bunch of phlegm, other times you can't tell who is supposed to be speaking. It even came to the point near the end of the book where Nikia’s father was talking with his lawyer and there was no differentiation between the two characters’ voices. By the time I finished this audiobook, which is halfway through the series, I decided that I probably would’ve enjoyed it better had I read it rather than listened to Megan Green. She’s not so bad that I would quit halfway through out of frustration and annoyance, but her work was not very enjoyable for me, especially when more and more male characters were added. I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.”
Catalyst “I should note that the main reason I picked this up is because I listened to Ford’s T-Rexes and Tax Law and absolutely loved it. Though I still got Ford’s writing style, this book definitely has a different, darker feel to it. This was a really short audiobook and left me desiring more from it. Luckily, this is a series, so I hope Rachel Ford expands more upon … well, everything. On one hand, I can understand writing something short to whet the appetite for readers to continue the series. On the other hand, this may have been too brief. Aside from this being incredibly short, I think there may be great potential here. Ford merely hinted at what’s to come and I think (or hope) that we’ll see a big change coming to Brek’s story arc in the series. I don’t know if Megan Green was the best narrator for this series. I think her posh British accent does work well for citizens in Brek’s ancestral home, but I really didn’t like her voice for Brek himself. It’s slow and makes him seem sort of stupid, when he’s merely a bit naive when it comes to what is really going on in Red Central. If Brek remains the central figure in this series, I wish that they the author or publisher had selected a male narrator or someone who is really good at male voices. I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.”
Time Slips & Tax Thieves “Another edition of the Taxman's adventures and another heckin' fun ride. Son of a biscuit, do I enjoy the team of Rachel Ford (author) and John Carter Aimone (narrator) in the Time Traveling Taxman series. This time we're treated to Alfred and Nancy traveling to an alternate universe with an alt-Alfred and alt-Justin in tow and antics ensue. I loved the interactions between Alfred and Nancy and the Alts. It's scenes like those that make this series so much fun. To be honest, this book didn't quite go how I expected based on the synopsis. It was probably my least favorite of the series so far, but still incredibly enjoyable. The only issue I would have is, now that Alfred and Nancy have been a couple for a little while, I wish Alfred was a little more confident in his relationship and not always thinking that Nancy is ready to jump ship. In this particular instance, I can sort of see his concerns, but I hope that this adventure is a turning point for him.”
MarvelousCon & Tax Cons “This entire review can be summed up with this: Yes, the Taxman is time traveling again! A time traveling taxman is just too good of a plot device not to bring back, and I'm glad Rachel Ford did so. As in the previous books in this series, we get an Alfred Favero who is gung-ho in his role as an IRS agent. But this Alfred is one who is learning how to love and what that means. I enjoyed Alfred's foray into understanding his emotions and how Nancy plays into that. Add in an Alfred that feels extremely out of place at a nerd convention - but he goes anyway because he loves Nancy and wants her to be happy - and you get a recipe for antics and laughter. The plot is pretty obvious and I had a good guess as to where it was going when it came to tax fraud. This series, however, doesn't depend on a great mystery. The best parts are Alfred and his surrounding cast of characters. Again, John Carter Aimone is a great narrator for this series and I can't imagine Alfred without hearing his voice. I'll reiterate that Aimone does narrate at a very slow pace, so I've routinely upped my speed on the audiobook to 1.35x. It sounds great at this pace. One last note ... the cover art for this entire series so far has been amazing.”
UFOs & Unpaid Taxes “Once again, Rachel Ford knocked it out of the park for me when it comes to this series. Last time I described T-Rexes & Tax Law as being ridiculously awesome. This time, it's totally a buddy caper featuring E.T. and the Taxman. What is it about Alfred Favero? Sugar cookies, I just don't know, but I adore that man. Maybe it's his progression as a character. Maybe it's his cluelessness. Maybe it's his growth when it comes to his relationship with Nancy. Maybe it's his animosity towards that son of a biscuit, Josh. Maybe it's his willingness to jump feet first into trouble even when he definitely shouldn't (or doesn't even recognized trouble when it's staring him in the face). I don't know, I don't care. Just give me more Alfred. I sped through this audiobook much like I did T-Rexes. Time (hehe) really did fly by for me because I enjoyed this book so much. Though there wasn't quite as much bangbang action as the first, UFOs does clip along at a great pace. Something is always usually happening and, even though I guessed exactly what happened and where Alfred went wrong, the characters (and narrator) made it an enjoyable ride. Once again, John Carter Aimone, the narrator, brings Alfred to life. He tends to be over the top in his acting, but it totally works for this series and its characters. For example, his tone and inflection for Lee really brought to mind the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns was all doped up and the citizens thought he was an alien. I think Aimone nails all the characters, honestly. The only criticism I would have for the audiobook in general is that Aimone delivers his narration at such a slow pace and there are long pauses that I have to increase the speed to 1.35x. Once there, it sounds great and the story goes by quickly. I already have the rest of the series queued up and can't wait to continue these Taxman shenanigans.”
T-Rexes & Tax Law “There are two words that I would use to describe this book: ridiculous and awesome. Ridiculously awesome. Picture a hybrid of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and Sandra Bullock's character from The Heat. Now imagine that that character got dropped into the middle of the Cretaceous period with his "sidekick" (who, let's be honest, is really the hero) in the form of a hybrid Leonard/Melissa McCarthy. Ridiculous, right? Awesome, right? Why not create a hybrid of ridiculously awesome? This is a book that does not take itself seriously, but does pack a lot of humor and enjoyment. I often found myself laughing or snorting out loud at Alfred's ridiculousness. He's not a completely likable character at first. In fact, he may only be tolerable. You'll get exasperated with his antics (or realize you know someone exactly like him) and roll your eyes. But you know that one person that can annoy the heck out of you, but you end up adoring anyway? That was Alfred for me, and the turning point was when Nancy had to educate him on mansplaining. I wanted to stand up and applaud her for it and give Alfred a pat on the back for realizing what he was doing and attempting to change it. Now, Nancy. She's really the hero in this book, but I like that we're getting everything from Alfred's perspective. He's not the big, buff soldier that takes charge. In fact, Nancy is definitely the leader and capable one in this relationship. Which all leads to this adorable relationship between Nancy and Alfred as Alfred learns to become a little less rigid in rule following and a little more understanding about the rest of humanity. I listened to the audiobook version of T-Rexes and Tax Law and absolutely loved it. I think the book would have been entertaining whether I read it or listened to it, but the narrator, John Carter Aimone, adds a whole other level to Alfred's ridiculousness. He created the perfect mix of comedic timing, cluelessness, and dry wit. Though sometimes the acting was a little over the top or added in odd places, overall it was incredibly enjoyable. The pacing is a little slow though and there’s odd pauses after sentences, but nothing that speeding it up to 1.35x can’t fix.”