Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Understanding the Stars by Xela Culletto

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Narrator: Lori Prince

Publisher: Xela Culletto (2017)

Length: 5 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page

This X-files-like tale is set in Colorado. Alex Blackwood is just about to graduate high school when her life takes an unexpected turn. Ronan drops a stunning revelation on her involving three alien races, the CIA, and some secret surveillance. In the midst of all this, Alex’s dad is suffering from cancer and she has her pizza delivery job as well.

Ronan was the most interesting character for me. He’s a human descended from a group of humans that left Earth ages ago to co-habitate with an alien race (Salurians? My spelling is probably off since this was the audiobook version). I would have liked to get to know him more in this book and what his life in space is like. Now the Salurians are back and have been watching Earthers for a few decades, simply learning about current cultures and such.

Now the creepy part is that Ronan was assigned to watch Alex since she was 14 (she’s 18 at this point in the story) and this involves an implant in her. Yep. He knows every time she went to the bathroom, had the stomach flu, or suffered growing pains. On his part, I can see the insta-love that we stumble into later. I didn’t really care for the insta-love stuff, but Alex seemed pretty happy with it. Setting aside the beginning of the romance, it later grows into something meaningful as these two develop a friendship.

The Salurians need to leave ahead of schedule because the aggressive Kema’dor are on their way. Initially, they are portrayed as these violent tech thieves. Later on, Alex meets some of them and has to form her own opinion. Much later in the story, a third alien race (the Meddas – again, spelling?) come into play. I really liked that not all aliens are created the same and each race has their own ethics and goals.

I did feel that Alex was a little too easy going about these bigger revelations but freaked out a bit over small things (like the first image she saw of a Kema’dor). This didn’t work for me in terms of character development but it did move the plot along swiftly. I did like that not everything turns out OK for everyone. Alex has to deal with some sadness and loss. This added some seriousness to the story and gave Alex a little depth.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Lori Prince was a really great Alex. She sounded young but right there on the cusp of adulthood. She gets an A for effort when it comes to the alien voices and accents. I realize this is a difficult thing to pull off but I have heard better. That said, I did like her voice for the alien Malsoar. She did great with Alex’s feelings.

What I Liked: Multiple alien civilizations; Ronan’s personal history; not everyone gets out unscathed; the CIA mixed in there.

What I Disliked: The insta-love; could have used more about Ronan; why wasn’t Alex more stunned about these big things?

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About Author Xela Culletto:

Xela is a working mother of three, living in the Utah. She teaches secondary English and after talking to students for years about following their dreams and doing whatever it takes to achieve them, she decided to take her own advice and complete her lifelong goal of writing a novel. The idea of life on other planets has always fascinated her, and she wondered what they would think of humanity, which is what spawned the idea for the plot of “Understanding the Stars”. When she’s not playing with her kids, or sorting through the endless laundry, you’ll find her watching The Walking Dead, horseback riding, or working on her next book.

Amazon ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Understanding the Stars:

Alexandra Blackwood is minding her own troubled life when she unknowingly gets caught up in an extraterrestrial conflict. Ronan, a human with his own alien-entangled past, has been keeping an eye on her and sets out to help her escape looming abduction, and maybe win her heart.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Lori Prince:

Lori Prince is a classically trained actor with a BFA from Syracuse University.  She has performed Off-Broadway as well as at top regional theaters including; The Denver Center, Alliance Theater Company and PlayMakers Repertory Company among others.  She has also appeared on Television in Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Are We There Yet?. Her voice work includes various characters in the feature film Epic, as well as additional dialogue recorded for over 50 feature films and TV shows.

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