Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Audio Book Review: The Kings

The Kings

By:  Kimberly Loth

Publish Date:  December 14, 2016, Audiobook Release October 6, 2017

Format:  Audiobook - 6 hrs 5 mins
Narrated By:  Angela Rysk

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  5th in The Dragon Kings series; 1st Book ~ Obsidian, 2nd Book ~ Aspen, 3rd Book ~ Valentine, 4th Book ~ Skye

Impression:  The prophecy is heard and seen come to pass.

Synopsis:
Sid and his friends wake from a nightmare of a prophecy to find themselves right in the middle of a war they didn't even know had arrived. All three kings plunge right into the fray knowing only one will survive.

Out of nowhere, the war takes a terrible twist when instead of attacking dragons, the white witch goes after human cities, slaughtering hundreds of thousands. The humans band together and declare war upon all dragons.

With the arctic and canyon dragons bearing down on the rest of the dragons and humans coming after them with new weapons, the war seems all but lost.

Will they win the war? Or will all the dragons be wiped forever from the earth?

Don’t wait to read this exciting conclusion to The Dragon Kings. Full of exciting twists and turns, be prepared for an ending that changes everything.

First Sentence:
Sid blinked his eyes open.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible    (Box Set of Series)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Angela finishes out the series for us as she returns to voice the final book. Angela brings the voices she's assigned to each character back for us. What sticks out in my head for this book is Aspen when she makes a point and tells she's the dragon queen. There was a strong feel to her voice here. Even Runa when she's excited or disappointed sticks out strong for me. There was one spot where there was a delay between characters speaking, but that would be a second longer than normal, nothing extreme. Thank you for carrying through with the series, Angela.

This story starts where Skye leaves off. And we get the prophecy!! Woot woot. We finally get to hear it as it is written. The story holds to the prophecy as well. We get to see how it all plays out in the end. Though, there is a small part that's different, who is prophesied to kill another does not come to be.

I listened to the whole story and remember getting Sid and Skye's POV. I think we get Val's too, but I can't remember now. Most of the story is with Sid or Skye that I remember. We do get to see through Aspen's eyes from time to time too.

Death is something that happens in this book, also in previous books, but it feels the characters are not as emotional when it happens. It felt like a lacking part in their empathy for me. I guess if you are going to rule, you can't feel strongly or show it to the world. I found I liked Skye's reaction to what they had to do to protect themselves, yes this is war but it fit.

I was bummed at the loss of life in this one, but the epilogue helps with that. There is one loss that I felt wasn't dealt with as I'd like to have seen how others reacted to it. I think there would be a rift with one person for what it.

This book brings an end to the series. It's hard but there is hope for the future as well. I wasn't sure what I expected at the end, but this had a few different takes to it. They work nicely.



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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Audio Book Review: Skye

Skye

By:  Kimberly Loth

Publish Date:  October, 2016, Audiobook Release August 28, 2017

Format:  Audiobook - 5 hrs 26 mins
Narrated By:  Angela Rysk

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  4th in The Dragon Kings series; 1st Book ~ Obsidian, 2nd Book ~ Aspen, 3rd Book ~ Valentine

Impression:  Skye can't love and danger is coming for the kings.

Synopsis:
Rowan Winters is completely in love. With a shifter dragon.

But the drop-dead gorgeous Skye only thinks of Rowan as her best friend. But when she turns up in his room in the middle of the night in tears, he yearns to do whatever he can to help her. Even if that means running away and letting his family think he’s dead.

Skye’s entire world turns upside down the day her scales turns black. She knows she’ll have to flee to find answers. But she wasn’t planning on Rowan coming too. She just wanted to say goodbye. He is so eager to help that she can’t leave him behind even though she knows she’ll never be able to love him in return.

Together, they fight off murderous dragons and uncover sinister plans. But can they find the answers Skye so desperately seeks? And can Rowan sacrifice everything he knows to win her heart?

First Sentence:
Nerves settled in Skye's belly as she and Rowan flew toward the council.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible   (Box Set for Series)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Angela has returned to voice Rowan and Skye along with friends again. I've noticed I don't have a focus on her voice but on the story. That's a great thing in audiobooks because she's letting the story tell itself through her. The audio is clean and clear, easy to listen to.

Skye's story starts at the exact same moment that Valentine ends at.

I really like that Kimberly has taken a different approach to each dragon's story of finding out about Kings and finding their love. The variety fits the dragons and the story of the dragon war approaching.

For me, the beginning is a bit slow moving. It's basically a reiteration of how Rowan loves Skye and how Skye can't love anyone. A few times. We do get the explanation for Skye's inability to love though. The beginning focuses on Skye's comfort with Rowan and how he's her best friend then how Rowan loves Skye and would do anything for her, even if they are only friends. There's no real danger present yet, just Skye with questions. When things start to move, it picks up and goes.

Once into the story, we start to see the dangers present. We even see the potential danger in others, and don't trust them wholly. We see where trust is questioned between a few of the dragons, as it is one thing to hold dear with war on the horizon.

Skye comes across as a woman who needs someone with her, emotionally. She doesn't know everything in the human world so she does need help, but it feels like more with her. Skye even notes how she's not been alone before. She doesn't feel clingy needy, just that she likes to have a companion with her in the world. Rowan has started to figure out what to do to help with his anxiety, which he doesn't have his medicine for. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I agree in some cases what he does really helps, but I know of other cases where it does not. I do like how Skye and Rowan balance each other though. They bring a comfort to each other.

I do like the realization that comes to Skye when she finally talks to Rowan about her issue with love. This is a great turn for her.

This book does end with what leads into the next book, as each book has done. There is a small cliff hanger at the end. So it's a good thing I have to complete set in audio. On to the last book to see how things end with the war that's rising.



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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Audio Book Review: Valentine

Valentine

By:  Kimberly Loth

Publish Date:  June 30, 2016, Audiobook Release June 14, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 5 hrs 58 mins
Narrated By:  Angela Rysk

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  3rd in The Dragon Kings series; 1st Book ~ Obsidian, 2nd Book ~ Aspen

Impression:  New couple, new adventure in love finding.

Synopsis:
Three kings will arise. One from the land. One from the sea. One from fire.
Hazel’s entire world is turned upside down after her brother Rowan goes missing. Everyone believes he was eaten by a dragon. Everyone but Hazel’s sister, Aspen, that is.
Hazel has never heard of the dragon prophecy before. She knew about dragons, of course. Her sister, Aspen, made sure of that even though Hazel would have preferred to stay ignorant of the vicious creatures. But the more Hazel learns about Aspen and their family’s connection to the dragons, the less she wishes she knew.
Val never wanted to be king. He never even considered it a possibility. But now the prophecy’s fulfillment has begun, and it starts with him. His journey begins by training with Obsidian. In the process, he learns secrets from his past that shatters everything he knows..
On the way to mainland from Hawaii, Hazel and Val’s worlds collide and will soon have to rely on each other to find Rowan and prevent a human-dragon war.

First Sentence:
It didn't matter how often she made this journey, Hazel didn't like the flight home or, for that matter, waiting in crowded airports.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible    (Box Set for series)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Angela Rysk returns to continue narrating the series for us. She has given voice to the characters in previous books and continues on with the same voices, along with adding in Val and Hazel. The audio sounds seamless in narration. Angela has become a voice to the world by now.

Going into this book I had one huge question. How does a dragon that's NOT a royal turn into a human? It was said through the first two books that only Royal dragons can turn human. Skye had a small pass because she's half Royal. Valentine is not a Royal dragon. This is explained quickly in the beginning, how Val gets a human form. I'm not sure if I agree to the quick reason for it, I thought there was more to the transformation process, but we move on from there.

Valentine is a new dragon to view. He was mentioned at the end of the previous book, but the order of the story fits with Valentine next. I'm not one for instant love, and shortly after meeting it happens here. Though, it feels to work for Val. Val feels to be a genuine nice guy. He's not out to play all the ladies and he seems as though he's truly interested in Hazel and people. He has a humble feel to him.

This story is of Val finding his way as a king and finding his queen. I like that the story of Val falling for his queen, and she for him, is different than Aspen's. It would have been easy to repeat the same story, but it's different.

I noticed in listening that there are wrong names and pronouns in place. I'm thinking this is an editing thing on behalf of the author and not the narrator, but I don't know.

I like Hazel's evolution in this book. I think she still has further to go and much to learn, but she's got a fair mind about what she sees. Hazel is a tough girl to get close to though, and she has her reasons for this. Hazel questions everything, and gets frustrated when she doesn't get answers. I understand this feeling. I was getting frustrated for her too. But there is an order to things before you can blurt out the truth about dragons to someone who does not like dragons.

We do solve the human killing dragon issue in this book. And start to see the possibility of war among the dragons. This book ends with the arrival of a dragon and person that have been searched for in this book. That will be the next stories tale. I am curious about their tale and why they stayed hidden, so on to the next book I will go.

The series is arcing nicely with the troubles in each book and when the troubles get solved along with adding new elements to the danger list.



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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Audio Book Review: Aspen

Aspen

By:  Kimberly Loth

Publish Date:  April 4, 2016, Audiobook Release May 30, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 6 hrs 30 mins
Narrated By:  Angela Rysk

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  2nd in The Dragon Kings series; 1st Book ~ Obsidian

Impression:  More in depth look at the dragon's world.

Synopsis:
Sid thought the deaths would end when Marcellus died.
But he thought wrong.
Reeling from the loss of those around him, Sid sets off, not only to avenge the deaths of those he loves, but also to find a way to save his own life.
But the closer he gets to answers, the more people he puts in danger.
Only Sid has the power to end the killer's reign. But it might cost him the one thing he holds most precious.

This thrilling follow-up to Obsidian is a journey of love, death, and betrayal and answers the one question everyone’s been asking:

Is Aspen alive?

First Sentence:
Snow started to fall as Sid drove into the parking lot.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible    (Box Set of Series)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Angela Rysk returns to narrate the characters as we know them. It's always nice when a narrator returns to continue a series as we've gotten to know the characters in her voice, and she continues on with them as she did in the first book.

A few things going on in this book. Sid is in love with Aspen, and her him. They are not willing to give up that love, even at the threat of death. Sid is settled with the idea that when they are found out, he will die. But when a dear friend is sent to help him avoid Aspen he learns there could be another way to save his and Aspen's lives and rule the dragons. It's done with ancient magic and if the council found out...it'd be instant death for him and those involved. Also, they thought the deaths were over with Marcellus now gone, but there is still a golden dragon eating humans.

This book feels to explain much more in the dragon world and their ways. We get to learn more on the different species of dragons and what their gifts are. We even get a look into the Queen's position and her test. I liked learning these details as it feels to flesh out the world more.

This book felt to flow better than the first in events and why things happen. I would say give the second book a try if you liked the idea of the first book but felt there were some holes. The holes aren't 100% filled but the story feels more whole here. The story feels to be a simple one with Sid and Aspen and their fight for love. Sometimes I felt things were as I expected them to be, so I felt the story was easy in it's adventures in this way.

There is still a dragon out there, killing humans. I have my suspicion who that Golden dragon is. I've thought it was this person from the beginning. The small hints left do lend toward who I'm thinking, but we haven't gotten his name yet.

There is more coming in the dragon world. There's danger ahead for the king but it also seems the gods have prepared for that. Listen or read the book and you'll know what's coming along with how the gods prepared for it.

I enjoyed Sid and Aspen together here. They felt like a team and a great couple. There are still boundaries, and they are working on getting to know each other better.

I will be continuing on with the series to see what will happen. I have an idea as the whole series is out, but I look forward to the adventure.



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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Audio Book Review: Obsidian

Obsidian

By:  Kimberly Loth

Publish Date:  February 17, 2016, Audiobook Release April 16, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 6 hrs 5 mins
Narrated By:  Angela Rysk

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  1st in The Dragon Kings series

Impression:  A young girl's love for dragons could save them.

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Aspen is a skydiving, rock climbing, adrenaline junky. All her life, she’s been fascinated by the dragons who roam near her home in Yellowstone Park. Yes, Dragons. Though no human has ever gotten close enough to touch one.

Except Aspen.

While most people avoid the national parks because of the resident dragons, Aspen spends most of her free time in search of the feared and misunderstood creatures. For her, studying the dragons is a way to escape a painful past and avoid getting too close to anyone.

She’d rather track dragons in the wild and through the lens of her camera than talk to real people. But then Aspen meets a hot new guy at school, Sid King. He’s the one person she’s ever met who shares her obsession with all things dragon. But even as she feels strangely drawn to the mysterious boy, she senses he’s hiding his own set of dark and powerful secrets.

When hikers start turning up dead in the park, everyone suspects the formidable predators. Unless Aspen can prove their innocence, every one of her beloved dragons is in danger of eradication.

After Aspen and Sid uncover a sinister plot behind the brutal attacks, Aspen can no longer deny that Sid somehow knows more about the deaths than he should and the secrets they both keep threaten to rip their lives apart forever.

First Sentence:
Travis Springs usually didn't hike in the national parks.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible   (Box Set of Series)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Angela Rysk is a new narrator for me. I found I liked her narration as she voiced Aspen and the characters. There are slight differences in tone or attitude, but not drastic shifts. I found I listened to the story more than her voice as I went along. The audio is clear and clean, making it easy to listen to.

Obsidian has to do his ten years as a human, that he's been putting off, now that he's turned to be king. He makes his arrival and finds a young girl that's caught his attention. However, there are people dying in the forest where the dragons roam. Humans view the dragons as dangerous, but now there's one eating humans. To keep the fear of the large, mysterious beasts at a minimum and keep people from attacking, Aspen is determined to prove that the beautiful, majestic dragons are not dangerous. Obsidian, as the king, wants to find the killer. Aspen's love for the dragons brings her to meet Obsidian.

The story is easy to follow. I found the story went the path I sort of figured it would. Which isn't a bad thing, I got what I expected from the characters as the story went. And no great surprises hit me. I have a few questions at the beginning. One of them being the tattoo, but it gets answered. Another question was more a 'I can't believe a mom would do that' moment. I know I'm not a perfect mother and I don't want to question others and their ways, but I can't understand why Aspen's mother would spike her ice cream with Valium. That feels a bit extreme when she didn't even know what was going on with Aspen.

I like Aspen. She seems like a smart girl. I think she pieced things out early on, but then was mislead by Sid to not know the truth. Aspen's a bit of a dare devil, but I got the feel she likes the excitement. Maybe an adrenaline addict or one with lack of fear with what she enjoys - propelling and other activities, along with pushing her limits with dragons. Aspen loves dragons, which are not known about and are feared by the majority of humans. Aspen's got a bit of past that she's not shared with anyone, abuse from a boy. This is important in Aspen's character and comes into play with what's happening.

Sid is an interesting character. I do like him though. He seems to know how things are going to eventually end for him, but he doesn't care.

A few small things had me curious though. I'm curious as to how Sid was able to easily fall for another after all the years with Skye. He seemed to genuinely care for her, maybe even love. But then things change in an instant. When Aspen started spending more time with Sid, did she still go out to see Obsidian? It seems as though her nightly visits with Obsidian ended, but I don't know. And Sid is to be watched closer because of who he is to be. But it felt as though he wasn't really watched at all. Sure there was Theo and Pearl on occasion, but that felt to be it. I thought there'd be more stopping by to check in on him. Although... maybe.... Hmmm. If that's who I think it is that might explain why Sid is so free to do as he wants.... Yep, you have to listen or read the book to piece that one together. I'm hoping the next book will answer some of these holes for me.

This book can be read by Young Adults and Adults alike. However, I do want to mention there is a memory of a terrible night for Aspen. There is hinting of and mention of rape. I want you to be aware. There is death in the book as well. There feels to be little emotion from the characters other than Aspen or others not allowed to go hiking.

I enjoyed the idea of the book, but it could have used some help with the holes in the events and emotions. The way the story ends, I have to go to the next book to see what happens to Aspen. Ugh. It is a cliff hanger ending. But all the books are out and ready for you to read or listen to.



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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Audio Book Review: Mad God's Muse

Mad God's Muse

By:  Matthew P. Gilbert

Publish Date:  July 23, 2019, Audiobook Release July 23, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 13 hrs 27 mins
Narrated By:  Ralph Lister

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  2nd in Sins of the Fathers series; 1st Book ~ Dead God's Due

Impression:  Moving characters to where needed.

Synopsis:
The fate of the world rests on his shoulders. Will he crumble?

Ahmed’s faith is strong, and so is his sword-arm, but as for details, those were for his fallen master. Now, he must somehow rise to the task of leading his men and, by Ilaweh's grace, thwart the Dead God's apocalyptic prophecy.

But how can he command hardened veterans of war, men with much blood on their hands, when he has accomplished so little in his young life?

If Ahmed can earn their respect, there might still be time to do as his master had hoped--ally with the sorcerers of Nihlos. They are dangerously unpredictable and capricious, perhaps even mad, but their power is undeniable.

Ahmed will need that power. For he knows something even his master never guessed: their ultimate destination is the true heart of darkness. An ancient city of evil and death that none survive.

First Sentence:
Am I a god?

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Ralph Lister is the narrate the story once again. He's created the voice of the characters along with the pronunciations and continues with it here. As in the first book, Ralph's work is clean and clear. He's easy to listen to.

This book shows some of the magic the Meite's possess. We get to see them in action, implying their power and control. This gives a nice fantasy feel to them and the book.

We dive deep into the politics of the Nihlos in this book. There is corruption and games played by all in the council and high seats. It can get confusing at times because people play both sides of the fence to get what they want. There are moments where I'm confused as to what is going on or why people are saying what they are saying. I think that the conspiracy found in what people are saying and how they are acting is not as clear in audio at moments. When people say one thing and do another it's hard to pick up as well.

I found this book slow moving. This book is one that places people in places. Some of the events to get to these places are interesting but I felt there was a lot of filler to detail out Nihlos and the characters more. Much of this was what made the story slow for me. It felt as though this book is a transition, creating a reason to move the players where they need to be and removing others that stand in their way.

In the end we get a quick glimpse of where we will be heading next. I'm hoping things move along faster to this new place as I'm looking forward to going there and see what comes to be.



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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Audio Book Review: Death's Mantle

Death's Mantle

By:  Harmon Cooper

Publish Date:  September 25, 2019, Audiobook Release December 17, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 10 hrs 25 mins
Narrated By:  Andrea Parsneau

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  1st in series

Impression:  Light and dark in gamer view.

Synopsis:
Lucian North is supposed to be dead.

Suffering from a rare heart condition that doctors say should have killed him over a year ago, Lucian is playing a video game when Death finally comes.

Rather than give in, Lucian pulls a gun on the Grim Reaper.

As the two stare each other down, terrible demons known as injuresouls swarm into the room in pursuit of Death.

Summoning courage he never knew he had, Lucian comes to Death's aid. And for his troubles, he is awarded Death's Mantle.

Transported to a spiritual world he could have never fathomed, Lucian finds that he is instantly powerful, able to conjure weapons from scratch and perform incredible feats. He introduces game mechanics to his new role, develops a carefully curated inventory list, and modifies a HUD system that allows him to better track his targets.

It isn’t easy being Death, and Lucian will need just about everything he can get as he faces off against fallen angels, appalling parasites, demon-born injuresouls, and savage Death Hunters.

Regardless of his sudden strength, his newfound enemies, and his gamer ingenuity, Lucian can't communicate with the living, which wouldn't be a problem if he hadn’t discovered something terrible about his family...

Lucian’s brother is scheduled to die, and only Lucian has the power to do anything about it.

Death’s Mantle is a dark fantasy GameLit novel that LitRPG, metaphysical fantasy, occult sci-fi, and thriller readers will love. Death’s Mantle is written by Harmon Cooper, bestselling GameLit author of Way of the Immortals, House of Dolls, Cherry Blossom Girls, The Feedback Loop and Monster Hunt NYC. It was inspired by the anime Parasyte, the comic book series Sandman and Spawn, the books On a Pale Horse and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

First Sentence:
Any day could have been Lucian North's last day on Earth.

Purchase At:
Amazon   

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Andrea does a great job of voicing each character with different voices. Wow. There's great differences and great detail in each characters voice. I enjoyed the variety found between the characters. I did listen at 1.4 speed, which felt to go well with the narration. The audio sounded clean and clear and full of life with the characters emotions.

Lucian has a rare heart condition. He's lived beyond his time the doctor gave him, and his last day arrives. When he sees Death's arrival he is ready to stand up to him, and ends up helping to save Death. Lucian is the given Death's position. Now Lucian gets to help people pass on by removing the parasite that's feeding off of them and prolonging their life.

This is a very interesting concept! I like learning the basics with Lucian as he learns what Death does along with those that will try to kill Death. The twist of being Death and seeing things as a gamer's view is very interesting. I really enjoyed this creation.

The story starts right in with Lucian and how he gets to the LitRPG world. No delay in learning, we get there ASAP. There were moments I wasn't sure where the story was going as we see Lucian visit his family and go through moments with them as he's in his new position. I know he's worried about his brother, Connor, and wants to help him. But I feel as though we are living through life's moments and not in a story. We then get direction, to help Connor and to find Old Death and bring him home.

Along the way, Lucian powers up and learns about the parasites in the world. Lucian also learns about other beings; Deaths, Lifes (angels), Fallen Angels, and more that can harm him. Lucian has a way about him to make a few friends along the way too. I enjoy these friends and what they bring to the story with information on how things work.

As I listened to the book, I started to feel as Lucian does about death. I understand his questions, and I had my own start to pop up about the position of death and details. It felt like death was turned into a job and wasn't personal, or even a game. When I started to think about this I wondered if the gamer style detail view Lucian makes is what brings it to feel this way. Maybe the gamer view isn't the best for something that feels so personal.

I found I wanted to be with these people in their last moments, as they pass on. It feels like death is so lonely.

I liked the concept of using a gaming system setup with what is a reality for the character. If there's more in the world, I'd be curious to see where things go with all the characters.



About the Author:
Harmon Cooper is a prolific Amazon best-selling author of 50 science fantasy books and counting. He was one of the earliest authors to bring GameLit to the West. His most popular series include Way of the Immortals, House of Dolls, Cherry Blossom Girls, The Feedback Loop and Monster Hunt NYC. Originally from Austin, Texas, Cooper was a musician before transitioning to world traveler and writer, spending five years in Asia honing his writing skills, wanderlusting, studying languages, and teaching English. He now lives in New England (and loves it!) with his wife. www.harmoncooper.com.