All Bets Are Off by Sandra K. Marshall

MarshallAllBetsAreOffWhy I Read It: I find characters with an addiction to be interesting.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like contemporary, sweet romance.

Narrator: Terran McGahae

Publisher: Eirelander Publishing (2014)

Length: 1 hour 32 minutes

Author’s Page

The book starts with a slap and a couple separating. Ana Torres has a gambling addiction and it has ruined her friendships, her marriage, and potentially her husband’s business. The book then rockets forward 2 years and Ana has her addiction under control, she has paid off her credit cards, moved out of her parents’ house, and now has her own business where she provides guidance to others trying to rein in their gambling addiction. Formally separated from her husband, Jason Gibbs, they have had little interaction since he tossed her out. Then an unexpected encounter at a party brings them face to face. Apparently, there are still sparks between them.

The book started off pretty serious with Jason giving Ana a slap, and then he immediately felt angry and ashamed at himself. Of course, this put me on Ana’s side right from the beginning and even once I learned she was the cause of financial ruin for the couple, I still felt some sympathy for her. If it had started with her gambling their lives away, I wouldn’t have been sympathetic to her character, so this was a clever intro by the author to get the reader invested in Ana from the beginning. When we jumped ahead 2 years, I was a little sad because I wanted to see Ana struggle with her addiction. We do get to see some of that in flashback thoughts as we move through the story, so that inner battle isn’t completely ignored. And this is a romance and about love, etc., not about addiction and the inner battle of the human soul.

The set up was good, the story OK. Contemporary romance isn’t my favorite genre, but because of the addiction angle I wanted to give it a try. Then there is the sex. I enjoy sex scenes in my stories and this book has 2 such scenes. The first is the better of the two. I was thoroughly getting into it but then the man stuck his tongue in her uterus. Yep. Uterus. Briefly, I hoped the story was going to take on some mutant scifi elements, but alas, it did not. To get to the uterus, you have to travel the entire vaginal canal and then get past the cervix. The cervix doesn’t let just any old object enter the uterus, being perhaps 1/8 inch opening nearly all the time (common exception is when a baby is headed out). So either the man had a very long and narrow tongue, or the woman had some mutant uterus that sat in the vaginal canal with the wide open cervix. Anyway, here is the Wikipedia article - and yes, it is safe for work. So I was totally into this sex scene – there was heat between the characters, great descriptors, etc. and then he sticks his tongue in her uterus. I giggled, totally taken out of the moment. At best, this is a big typo. At worst, the author is not well informed on the female genitals/reproductive organs. But, other than this one typo (I will be generous in my thoughts), the story flowed smoothly and was fun.

Jason has a type of woman he likes. This type is totally based on looks (petite, short, brown haired women). I have always found that having a type, romantically, really limits a person and I tend to avoid people who rely on measuring people against some type standard they have in their heads. So, I wasn’t really into Jason (even though, or maybe because, I am his type). The ending was a sweet ending to a sweet romance. While I felt that some issues were wrapped up a little too quickly, this is a short story. I left the story wishing the best for both Ana and Jason.

The Narration: Terran McGahae did a good job narrating. Her character voices were distinct and she had a good male voice for Jason. She wasn’t shy or hesitant during the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Starts off serious; underlying addiction story; sweet ending; good narration.

What I Disliked: Jason has a physical type of woman he is into; the use of the uterus during the sex scene; the ending was a little quick in wrapping up.

What Others Think:

My Tangled Skeins

 

Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

Claudie oblivious to the photoshoot.

Claudie oblivious to the photoshoot.

Why I Read It:  Over the last two years, I have developed an interest in WWII, so this looked interesting.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of romance and a touch of spyness.

Narrator: Daniel Gerroll

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 8 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 13 Night Soldiers

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this book is #13 in the series, it worked just fine as a stand alone.

Cristian Ferrar is a Spanish emigre living in France, having moved with his family at a young age, completed his schooling, and attained a position at a prestigious law firm. He is the sole financial support for his family, yet even with this on his mind, he can’t turn down the possibility to help the Spanish Republic in their civil war. Set in 1938, WWII wasn’t yet begun, but there is plenty of strive throughout Europe as powers large and small jockey for position and gather in weapons and assets. Cristian teams up with Max de Lyon as they enter Germany in search of a reliable arms dealer. They are joined off and on throughout the story by colorful associates and Cristian isn’t one to put his love life on hold just because he has to worry about spies and thugs.

I enjoyed the tandem plot lines of Spanish civil war and the hints that some bigger war (WWII) is coming. Germany is tightening up her borders and cracking down on dissenters. Russia is building up weapons stocks. The wealthy pick up and leave their homelands in search of safer grounds. There was plenty of uncertainty at this time and Furst captured that very well. Since Cristian’s family left Spain seeking a more peaceful and safer abode, he knows well the double-edged sword of being an emigre. His position at a prestigious Paris law firm, one that also has offices in New York, gave him heady creditability that let his bluff his way through more than one predicament.

While we are talking about Cristian, we have to talk about his ladies. I won’t talk about all of them, because that would take too many paragraphs. I will say that he seems to be a considerate lover, and usually a good one. Of course, his predilection towards love affairs from the start of the book made me suspicious that a woman may lead him into trouble with his spy work, so when that did happen, it was not a surprise. While there are several ladies in this novel, they are merely two-dimensional at best (they have a front side and a back side, and both are usually pleasing to Cristian’s eye). None of them have any role that impacts the plot and nearly all of them are love interests, though we do have at least 2 motherly figures tossed in. I think it is obvious that I would have enjoyed some of the ladies to take a more active role in the plot instead of being scenery.

Putting that one criticism aside, we had a pretty interesting plot that centered around trying to get weapons/armaments out of one country and into another. This was far more complicated than any movie ever depicted it and I was right there with Max and Cristian feeling their determined frustration over the matter. The story took us to several countries as secret agreements were made and potential assets were spied out. There were some grimly humorous scenes tossed in that made the book a joy to listen to.

As with any good historical fiction, I learned a few things. I won’t bore you with all of them, but here are two that I found particularly interesting. During this time, the Reich of Germany supported public nudity, as admiration of the ‘perfect Aryan body’ was very important. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy naked volleyball (except for maybe the heavy breasted – male or female!)? The second little bit was that Cristian took a date to an expensive restaurant and they were given male & female menus. The Lady’s menu lacked any prices. I guess in 1938, it was assumed in all the swanky places that the man was paying. An entertaining read!

The Narration:  Daniel Gerroll was a very good pick for the voice of Cristian – light European accent, very cultured. He did have an interesting pronunciation of the Spanish word ‘abuela’ which means grandmother. Here in the desert Southwest, it is a 2 3 syllable word and Gerroll gave it 3 4 syllables. Perhaps that is high aristocratic Spanish instead of the Americanized Hispanic Spanish I know. Anyway, it was a small thing. All his voices were distinct and he did a good job with the female voices. I enjoyed his Greek accent and the few Yddish words he had to do.

What I Liked:  Educational and entertaining; Cristian is an interesting character that I connected to; a few love scenes; Furst captured the feel of uncertainty that 1938 must have held for so many Europeans; the narration was very good.

What I Disliked:  The cover doesn’t really portray the spy aspect of the story so if I just looked at the cover, I would pass it by as a romance; the ladies have no impact on the plot.

What Others Think:

We Love This Book

Historical Novel Society

Words and Peace

FaceOff edited by David Baldacci

Waffles and her nightly grooming.

Waffles and her nightly grooming.

Why I Read It: I thought this would be a great way to check out several mystery/crime/suspense/thriller authors.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy crime in its many faces.

Narrators: Dylan Baker, Jeremy Bobb, Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Gerroll, January LaVoy, David Baldacci

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 10 hours 49 minutes

Editor’s Page

Authors who contributed to this anthology: Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, Dennis Lehane, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, James Rollins, Joseph Finder, Steve Martini, Heather Graham, Ian Rankin, Linda Fairstein, M. J. Rose, R.L. Stine, Raymond Khoury, Linwood Barclay, John Lescroart, T. Jefferson Parker, F. Paul Wilson, Peter James

This anthology contains 11 short stories, each one written by a pairing of authors, allowing characters from beloved series and standalones to be paired with another author’s famous character. Sometimes these characters worked together. Sometimes they were at cross purposes. Nearly always, it s was purely entertaining. Below is a list of the stories, the main characters, and the authors.
· Patrick Kenzie vs. Harry Bosch in “Red Eye,” by Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly
· John Rebus vs. Roy Grace in “In the Nick of Time,” by Ian Rankin and Peter James
· Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Aloysius Pendergast in “Gaslighted,” by R.L. Stine, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child
· Malachai Samuels vs. D.D. Warren in “The Laughing Buddha,” by M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner
· Paul Madriani vs. Alexandra Cooper in “Surfing the Panther,” by Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein
· Lincoln Rhyme vs. Lucas Davenport in “Rhymes With Prey,” by Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford
· Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack in “Infernal Night,” by Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson
· Sean Reilly vs. Glen Garber in “Pit Stop,” by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay
· Wyatt Hunt vs. Joe Trona in “Silent Hunt,” by John Lescroart and T. Jefferson Parker
· Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce in “The Devil’s Bones,” by Steve Berry and James Rollins
· Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller in “Good and Valuable Consideration,” by Lee Child and Joseph Finder

A few of these authors I have read before (Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child) but nearly all of them were new to me. This was a great way to check out such a selection of today’s brilliant mystery writers. Of course, I gravitated towards the Pendergast story as I have read a few in this series. I did find Slappy the Dummy rather disturbing, as I found the story on the whole. ‘Rhymes with Prey’ was my second favorite, featuring the paraplegic investigator and his clipped phrases and abrupt, sometimes rude, attitude. ‘The Laughing Buddha’ was an unexpected story. The character Malachai Samuels is a kind of past life psychic, helping people realize who they once were and what their hang ups are from past lives. At first I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, but now I want to check out both M. J. Rose and Lisa Gardner.  I aso want to seek out works by Heather Graham after listening to ‘Infernal Night’. Just a touch of the supernatural gave this mystery an extra facet. Plus that whole mausoleum scene was excellent. Khoury & Barclay kept me on the edge of my seat with ‘Pit Stop’. It was fast paced and intense!

Those were the stories that stood out for me. Many of the rest were interesting. However, ‘Surfing the Panther’ didn’t shine for me. I felt like too much was being crammed into a short story and I never really connected to the main characters. I was looking forward to the Reacher versus Heller story as my man is a fan of Lee Child’s work. I was intrigued and then it was over. Yep, just like that. It went by too quickly.

Other than those two stories, the anthology was a hit. I now have several more authors on my To-Be-Read list (or some would call it a small mountain range). I was kept entertained for most of the 10+ hours of listening time.

Narration: The narration was very good. With 11 stories, it was great that the publisher went the extra mile and utilized so many narrators. One of the reasons I usually steer clear of audio anthologies is that it is the same reader for the entire book, all the short stories. This makes it difficult for me to keep the individual stories individual. So thank you, S&S, for going the distance and using so many narrators for this book. It really made it stand out as an anthology.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: Great way to be be introduced to new-to-me authors; Some were creepy, others edge-of-the-seat action; nearly all were interesting; great narration.

What I Disliked: Only 1 of the stories didn’t do it for; one other story seemed too short and nothing much happened in it.

I am participating in the yearly reading event R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. I will count 2103 Act I as my mystery/crime read for the R.I.P. challenge.

What Others Think:

 Lit Reactor

Bill’s Book Reviews

Beth Fish Reads

The Book Diva’s Reads

Alive on the Shelves

Bea’s Book Nook

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

FremantleSistersOfTreasonWhy I Read It: I really enjoyed Fremantle’s Queen’s Gambit so I had to check this one out.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Elizabeth Tudor fans who have always been curious about the Grey sisters.

Narrator: Georgina Sutton, Teresa Gallagher, Rachel Bavidge

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 15 hours 28 minutes

Author’s Page

Opening in the mid-1500s England, the remaining Grey sisters (Catherine and Mary) are still in mourning after the execution of their elder sister, Lady Jane Grey. Mary Tudor rules England and holds strong, vehemently, to the Catholic faith. Religious executions become, perhaps not normal, but far too common as religious intolerance grows over the years. The plot takes place over several decades as Queen Mary Tudor is replaced by her half sister Queen Elizabeth Tudor. Much of the story is told through the eyes of Catherine and Mary Grey, along with their mother’s best friend, the court painter Levina Teerlinc. Catherine is a bit of a flirt and seeks love and safety in affection. Mary Grey, who was born with a crooked spine and a small stature (which becomes apparent with age) must rely on her wits as she has zero prospects for a marriage. With court intrigue ever threatening to turn them into the reigning monarch’s enemy, these ladies are hard pressed to stay out of trouble.

This was an excellent read. It’s that simple. I loved learning about this little corner of history that I was previously ignorant of. I greatly enjoyed the characters. The plot, while driven by history, was still captivating. While I had heard of Lady Jane Grey an her execution I had never considered her immediate family and what became of them. Her two younger sisters were kept close at court, I expect to see if they had any designs upon the throne that needed to be squelched quickly. Jane’s mother goes on to have a second marriage, one that removes her from court but not from worrying about her remaining daughters. With Mary Tudor on the throne, there is royal intrigue constantly circling the Greys as they have a strong claim to the throne via their Tudor blood.

From the artist Levina we learn some gruesome details about the weekly burnings of heretics as Queen Mary attempts to make the whole of England Catholic. Of course weekly executions are never really useful in maintaining a stable government. Queen Mary needs an heir. From Levina, I got a very good sense of constant tension she and the Greys were in. Those wishing for more religious freedom pushed for another queen, one who could reproduce. However, once Queen Elizabeth takes the throne, the Grey sisters may or may not be in worse circumstances.

With all that said, I believe my favorite character was Mary Grey. She is physically deformed in an age where good looks were associated with the grace of Heaven and bad looks (including birth deformations) were often considered the sign of the Devil. due to Mary’s small stature, she is often treated like an intelligent pet or a doll by the courtiers and the Queen. She is commanded to sit upon the Queen’s knee and keep her entertained with her quips. Mary also has to tolerate the rude remarks by the other court ladies when the Queen isn’t looking. Indeed, her life from a young age looks bleak except for the fact that she will never be eligible to rule England as she can bear no children. No, Mary must use her eyes, ears, and mind to sift her way through decades of court intrigue.

Catherine Grey is also interesting because she had so many love entanglements. She was married at a young age, and pretty much in name only, though the two younglings did their best to sneak a few kisses here and there. With the fall of the Greys from grace (execution of Jane Grey), the marriage was ignored by the parents. Catherine goes through a few years of keeping a few young men dancing on their toes around her. Early on, I found her quite vapid, which suited her character’s actions. But as time went on and life became more serious for her, I found myself getting attached to her character too.

Levina Teerlinc as not quite an anomaly of her time; she earned the bulk of the yearly income with her court paintings and kept her household staffed and fed. In an age where so many women were dependent on a husband or male relative, she stood out in this regard. The author included an afterward in which she explained that very little is known about Levina and she was required to make several educated guesses about Levina’s life. I say she did a very good job and made Levina quite believable.

This book makes history interesting not only for showing what the women were up to, but also capturing how the whim of a monarch can affect so many at this time and place in history. The ending was very satisfying, and there were a few poignant moments that got a little tear from me. That speaks to how attached I became to some of these characters.

The Narration: I think the publisher did the listener a good turn when they decided to employ three narrators for this book. I felt that all the female characters were given greater distinction with the additional narrators. Each of them performed well and feel there was good continuation from one to the other when the point of view shifted. I especially loved the main narrator for Catherine as she caught her often silly and sometimes vapid inner monologue quite well. I truly felt like I was listening to the inner thoughts of a love struck fool.

What I Liked: I feel I am no longer an ignoramus on this facet of history; the characters were excellent; the plot, even knowing the general outline, was still riveting; Mary Grey was a most fascinating character; Levina stood out as being employable and monetarily self-sufficient; the explanatory afterword; the narration.

What I Disliked: No dislikes on this one.

What Others Think:

History and Women

Madame Guillotine

Bibliophile’s Reverie

These Little Words

Historical Novel Society

Tudor Book Reivews

Shiny New Books

Killer Aphrodite

Luxury Reading

2103, Act I by Drew Avera

Avera2103ActIWhy I Read It: I enjoyed Avera’s Reich and decided to give this a listen.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who enjoy a cautionary note underlying their thriller/suspense stories.

Narrator: Al Kessel

Publisher: Drew Alexander Avera (2014)

Length: 2 hours 31 minutes

Series: Act I of 2103

Author’s Page

As you can probably guess, the year is 2103 and it has been just over 50 years since the second American Civil War. However, this civil war left the USA in 3 separate pieces. This book, Act I, takes place in one of those three – the American Union. Martial law is the usual law with anyone who shares an opinion that is contrary to the government’s is labeled an Outlier. Death usually follows shortly after the label is affixed.

With plenty of suspense and no little amount of action, Avera leads us through this future America in grisly fashion. There’s sorrow, death, selfishness, madness, greed for power, and no little amount of anger. President Caleb Fulton rules everyone and everything with an iron fist, including his actor persona, a man names Stephen he hired to play himself for the public eye. Being wheelchair bound and suffering from a disfiguring illness, he knew the American people would never have elected him president; hence the subterfuge. Stephen and his family live under constant threat from the real Fulton and his shadow administration.

Throughout the book, we see many different viewpoints. As with Reich, everyone is a hero in their own head and this is an aspect I really enjoyed about the book. Some justify their actions more than others. Some simply assume they are a good person, hence all their actions must be the right actions. A few of the characters I thoroughly enjoyed hating on (the real Fulton and this other psycho who I won’t name so as to avoid spoilers) while other characters I could completely sympathize with even though I disagreed with some of their actions (such as the priest). It made for dynamic reading.

My one criticism concerns the female characters. They are love interests, wives, or sex objects. None of them stand alone as an individual character. Rather they are something the men must take care of, rescue, or use in some way. Needless to say, I found their characters to be the least interesting of the story.

This tale has an underlying cautionary note, as did Reich, concerning power unchecked and allowed to blossom (inevitably?) into a brutal tyranny draped in bureaucracy that punishes all but those at the pinnacle of power. Plenty of questions were left open ended for the reader to ponder, and also for a sequel. I hope there is a sequel. After all, not all the bad guys met their deserved end.

Narration: Over all, the narration was good. each character had a distinct voice, the female voices were believable, and the pacing was good. There was one psycho bad guy whose voice I thought was a little over the top, and little too sinister and creepy, so we always knew he was up to no good, but this quickly became apparent and then this creepy voice matched the character’s actions.

lavinia-portraitRIP9BannerWhat I Liked: A thought-provoking piece; each character believes they are a hero; the true baddies were delicious to hate on; plenty of room for a sequel.

What I Disliked: The women’s roles were minimal and predictable, and hence, boring.

I am participating in the yearly reading event R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. I will count 2103 Act I as my thriller/suspense read for the R.I.P. challenge.

What Others Think:

Scripturience

Hook My Brain

Origins of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerOriginsD-ListSupervillainWhy I Read It: Really enjoyed other works by the author.

Where I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Anyone like superhero stories? Want to know how to become a lesser Supervillain? Check this book out!

Narrators: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Jim Bernheimer (2014)

Length: 7 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 D-List Supervillain

Author’s Page

Having enjoyed several other Jim Bernheimer books, I had to give this one a go. I was not disappointed at all. Even though it is written after Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, it is actually set directly before it in story timeline. Our hero (or villain) of the story was once an engineer working for Ultraweapon. However, when a boss basically steals his design for a bigger, badder force blaster, he quits seeking glory and decent pay through self-employment. But Ultrweapon’s parent company, the Promethia Corporation, hound him with lawyers. Hence, he needed a place to hide; he needed a supervillain’s lair. Why not shack up with his buddy in an underground mechanic’s workshop? Sounds perfect. Except for the lack of plumbing.

As Cal (AKA MechniCal) works his way into supervillainy, he becomes aware of the need for cash to buy the supplies needed to build his mechwarrior suit. Hence, the bank robbing. He has a specially programmed getaway car, operated by a blow up doll in a suit and hat. But eventually, Cal gets caught. And no, it is not a long, hard chase, taking out numerous buildings, etc. He’s caught by the Superhero known as The Bugler. Yep. Cal was bugled into submission. Granted, the Bugler employs this sonic device that can melt your eardrums, but a pair of mufflers would have come in pretty handy. Cal was kicking his own butt over that one for a long, long time.

As with Confessions, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, it only took two sessions of listening for me to devour this book. Cal’s dry sense of humor, the occasional self-deprecating naughty joke, the kicking of the little guy while he is down – all of that had me bonding with Cal and hoping he would rise to infamy and world domination. Then there are the other Supervillains that always let Cal know how little he is in the pond filled with very big fish. They make demands on him, because, quite frankly, he’s good at building mechanical gizmos and weapons.

While this book has more female characters than Confessions, they play lesser roles. That’s my only criticism. I would love to see Cal go eye to eye with some lady mechanic who grew up working in a Hispanic car garage, bench pressing transmissions, using engine grease for permanent tattoos, and is impervious to head trauma due to repeatedly knocking the guys out with head butts. But that could just be me. Cal might be a bit intimidated by such a woman.

Both Confessions and Origins can be read as stand-alones, though I think newcomers would find a little more enjoyment reading Origins first then Confessions. I eagerly await the next installment in Cal’s story.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer once again kicked ass. His narration is so full of energy and he does a great job making the characters distinct. There is this one female character that tends to talk at super fast speeds, and Kafer pulled that off. Very impressive performance!

What I Liked: Cal is so easy to identify with; cool tech; funny superpowers (like the sonic bugling); Cal is permanently in a tight spot.

What I Disliked: Few women in the story.

What Others Think:

Grigory Lukin

Treasure of the Silver Star by Michael Angel

AngelTreasureOfTheSilverStarWhy I Read It: Space opera that combines treasure hunting, archaeology, and space chase – can’t miss that!

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For light space opera junkies.

Narrator: Lee Strayer

Publisher: Banty Hen Publishing (2013)

Length: 5 hours 34 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in a far flung galaxy, we have a disgraced starship captain (Drake) and an independent archaeologist (Tally) who must join forces to save the galaxy and perhaps earn a little money. Drake’s command crew made me think of Star Trek (Sebastien, Kincaide, Ferra, etc.) and the space battle scenes were reminiscent of Star Wars battles. Definitely a mix mash of pulp fiction and space opera.Drake struggles through the book to regain his former polish and glory after wrongly being placed in the Losers box with a bunch of Loser rejects on a Loser ship.

Then we have the treasure hunter/archaeology aspect thrown in. Tally made me think of a female Indiana Jones; she was very focused on her goal and not afraid of the physical effort it would take to get it. She had some of the most interesting scenes because they had to do with history, and therefore, had the most detail.

The plot was pretty straight forward and the characters, once established, didn’t change much. The bad guys were stereotypical and our heroes are 100% good guys. Normally, I enjoy a bit more variation in all of that, but for a fast paced, short space opera, it was decent. If you have some task where you need your hands and a bit of concentration, then this would be good braincandy for the background.

We had more men than women and I would have enjoyed seeing that a bit more balanced. But the few females we had in the storyline added to the plot and weren’t just scenery. The one sex scene came off as a bit awkward and didn’t engage my libido. I like my sex scenes and if one (or more) are going to be thrown in, they should count.

Narration: Lee Strayer did a good job of keeping the characters distinct. There were a few passages where the sentences were repeated, so not the cleanest on final editing. Still, the actual narration was well done with clear feminine and masculine voices, different accents, and proper emotions.

What I Liked: Fast-paced; fun; archaeology, hurray!; space battles!; treasure hunting; the ending.

What I Disliked: Only a few female characters; awkward sex scene; no character growth.