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Gillian M

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Intriguing and thought-provoking

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-01-20

C D Tavenor has created an intriguing storyline for First Of Their Kind (Chronicles of Theren Book 1) which I became totally immersed in. I found it extremely thought-provoking from technological, social, moral and political perspectives. It especially got me interested in discovering more about Synthetic Intelligence and I subsequently came across a great blog by Jason M. Pittman (Academic and Technologist) which I can highly recommend to anyone wanting to read more on the subject.

I was fascinated by the inclusion of the question of gender for the SIs and the fact that they got to choose their gender and their names for themselves, Test Forty-Three choosing to be gender-neutral and be called Theren, with Test Forty-Four choosing to identify as female and be called Jill. It was also interesting following their process of learning and evolution.

Given the top-secret, intricate strategy that these Sis are forced to adopt in a bid for self-preservation from the nutters who want to destroy them and the commercial/political entities that want to control and exploit them, I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Benjamin Fife does a great job with the narration and I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook..

The only difficulty I had with “listening” to the book - not in any way a fault of the author or the narrator - was the confusion caused by they/them/their gender-neutral pronouns. It’s annoying that the English language can only offer these up for use in both singular and plural situations. You’d think by now we would have adopted into common everyday usage something clearly identifiable as a “singular” gender-neutral alternative to “he/him” or “she/her”, whether that be “ze/zir” or “zie/hir” or settling on something else. This English language shortcoming poses slightly less of a problem when reading the e-book, but for the audiobook I ended up having to replay several sections on hearing they/them/their just to make sure I hadn’t spaced out and missed something as my befuddled brain kept asking “who else is being referred to besides Theren?”.

Jam-packed with action and nail-biting suspense

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-11-19

The Shattered Crown is the first book in the Crystal Crown Trilogy. J W Webb has done a superb job with his world building, his characters are well drawn and his storyline is jam-packed with action and nail-biting suspense.

My introduction to Corin an Fol was through the excellent books in the Mercenary Trilogy (giving an insight to Corin’s earlier life and exploits) so I am already familiar with this lovable mercenary soldier/bodyguard with the sardonic humour, a bit of a soft centre inside that tough exterior, and a strong sense of right and wrong. If he’s being paid to do a job he stays on track irrespective of the odds stacked against him. In his own way he is chivalrous, loyal and fiercely protective so there are times when he will go above and beyond his own self-interest in the defence of others. A reluctant hero, I’m enjoying following more of his adventures.

It’s great that in Ariane there is a strong, no-nonsense, kick-ass female in the mix – and a Queen, no less. Captain Barin’s character is endearing and he’s definitely someone to have on your side in a fight.

The malicious and unscrupulous villains, the sorcerer Caswallon and his sidekick the master assassin Rael of Crenna, are frightening and loathsome (as are the nasty spirits, goblins, dragons and Hagan’s band of mercenaries aiding and abetting Caswallon).

Building on J W Webb’s vivid imagery, Andrew McDermott’s first-rate narration really brings this book to life and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and riveting listen.

Looking forward to the next book in this trilogy, The Lost Prince.

2 people found this helpful

Terrific action-packed, suspense-filled trilogy!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-11-19

Bonanza! All three books comprising the trilogy Legend of the Gods together (Oathbreaker, Shield of Winter and Dawn of War). Plenty of action, kick-ass women as well as men, oodles of suspense, treachery, wry humour from some of the characters, magic, dragons, a small amount of romance; this epic fantasy has all the elements I enjoy. Aaron Hodges has produced a terrific storyline with a vividly drawn world and characters. I was totally wrapped up in this tale from start to finish, experiencing an emotional rollercoaster ride as a result of the amazing twists and turns that he has incorporated into the plot. The ending is bitter-sweet – but such is the heartbreak of war even when it is won as it always produces casualties and involves great sacrifice. At least there is hope for a better future for the survivors as they look to rebuild their lives.

Building on Aaron Hodges highly descriptive imagery, David Stifel’s excellent narration really brings these books to life and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. I usually prefer Scottish and Irish accents for this genre of book, but David Stifel’s voice is pleasant to listen to and his repertoire of voices for the different characters does enable the listener to distinguish them from each other where dialogue takes place. One big advantage with Audible is that you can alter the speed of narration (ie: faster or slower) to suit your own particular preference. I found that upping the pace to 1.25 worked best for me for this narrator (but others may want anything between that and the original speed) so remember to utilise this feature to discover the optimum for you.

Awesome finale to a truly epic fantasy trilogy!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-11-19

Couldn’t wait to plunge into Dawn of War (the finale of the Legend of the Gods Trilogy) as I really enjoyed Oathbreaker and Shield of Winter. The emotional rollercoaster ride occasioned by the amazing twists and turns of Aaron Hodges storyline continues. He has done a superb job with his world and character-building and has kept a high level of suspense throughout this action-packed epic fantasy. The ending is bitter-sweet – but such is the heartbreak of war even when it is won as it always produces casualties and involves great sacrifice. At least there is hope for a better future for the survivors as they look to rebuild their lives.

Once again, David Stifel does an admirable job with the narration and character voices. Whilst I generally prefer Scottish or Irish accents for the narration of this genre of book, David Stifel has a pleasant voice and it is easy to know which character is speaking from his range of character voices. Audible allows you to pick a narration speed to suit your own particular preference (I like 1.25 for this narrator) so I recommend the use of this feature to find what works best for you.

Superb! I wasn’t expecting that twist in the plot!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-19

Shield of Winter is the second instalment of the Legend of the Gods trilogy and the story just gets better and better. Aaron Hodges continues with his well-constructed storyline and vividly-drawn characters and imagery. What a mind-boggling twist in the plot where Alana is concerned and the tragic repercussions that radiate out from that; not what I was expecting at all! I was on tenterhooks from start to finish and am eager for the final instalment of this trilogy.

David Stifel does another great job with narration and character voices, although I prefer to listen at speed 1.25. That’s the advantage with Audible; you can pick a speed to suit your own preference. Whilst I usually prefer Scottish and Irish accents for this genre of book, David Stifel does have a pleasant speaking voice for the narration and, where dialogue takes place between different characters, it is easy to know who is “speaking”. Choose your ideal speed for the narration and enjoy. The tale is gripping and I just had to keep listening.

Thrilling fantasy with unexpected twists and turns

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-19

Oathbreaker (Legend of the Gods Trilogy Book 1) was my introduction to books written by Aaron Hodges and I found it enthralling from the start. The summary of the story drew me to it in the first place and it didn’t disappoint. Action, suspense, treachery, wry humour from some of the characters, magic, dragons, a small amount of romance; this book has all the elements I enjoy. Aaron Hodges has produced a great plot with some unexpected twists and turns, well drawn characters and highly descriptive imagery. A thoroughly enjoyable tale that I didn’t want to end. A good set-up for the second instalment of this trilogy (Shield of Winter).

Combined with Aaron Hodges superb writing, David Stifel’s first-rate narration really brings the book to life. I usually prefer Scottish and Irish accents for this genre of book, but David Stifel’s voice is pleasant to listen to and his repertoire of voices for the different characters does enable the listener to distinguish them from each other where dialogue takes place. One big advantage with Audible is that you can alter the speed of narration (ie: faster or slower) to suit your own particular preference. I found that upping the speed to 1.25 worked best for me, but others are likely to prefer the original speed or somewhere in-between. Irrespective, it is a great listen and leaves you wanting more.

An interesting twist to this tale

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-10-19

Highland Bandits is the third novella of Blair Keith’s that I have listened to as an audiobook. Good descriptive writing draws you into the story from the start and the tale includes an interesting twist.

The only annoying thing for me is that the summary of the book is slightly inaccurate. Firstly, Bridget’s “harrowing tale” rather than being “too absurd to be true” is actually something that happened to her, as described in the prologue; it’s just that for reasons that are made clear later in the book that event is represented as being a more recent occurrence. Secondly, the summary suggests that Bridget’s feelings grow for a man other than the Laird, Wallace (i.e. Alec). We actually learn that Bridget was in a relationship with Alec prior to becoming involved with Wallace, she fancied herself to be in love with him and allowed herself to be manipulated by him. Bridget’s feelings grow for Wallace and she discovers that real love is very different to what she thought; she comes to recognise that Wallace loves her (whereas Alec does not), that she loves Wallace (not Alec), and she refuses to follow through with Alec’s foul plot.

Andrew McDermott does another fantastic job with the narration of the audiobook. An easy and enjoyable listen.

Interesting steampunk fantasy

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-10-19

I wasn’t sure I liked this book for the first couple of chapters but then started to enjoy it and found it quite an interesting steampunk fantasy. I would have preferred it to be a bit longer and did find the ending a little rushed. Curious to see what happens in Rebekah Dodson’s next book in this series. I loved Andrew McDermott’s narration.

Despicable Delilah's deceit nearly proves deadly

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-10-19

Poor Agnes has had to endure years of bullying and mistreatment at the hands of the despicable Delilah, head servant at the castle. In an effort to sabotage the growing romance between Agnes and William (the Laird), Delilah’s deceit nearly causes Agnes to lose her life. Fortunately, there is a happy ending, although I would have liked there to be a little more to the story as it seemed a bit of an abrupt finish after all the detail that Blair Keith went into during the earlier chapters in the book. Having said that, I did enjoy this romance and the interaction between William and Agnes. I fervently wished someone would commit GBH where Delilah was concerned, which is an indication of how engrossed I was in the storyline. As always, Andrew McDermott does a superb job with the narration and really brings the book to life.

Charming romance

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-10-19

Blair Keith has produced a charming romance and Andrew McDermott does a wonderful job with the narration. Not only does he have a pleasant voice for the general narration; it is also easy to distinguish the different characters where there is dialogue. An enjoyable listen.