Review: The Feedback Loop Books 1-3 by Harmon Cooper

The Feedback Loop Books 1-3 (The Feedback Loop #1-3)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harmon Cooper adds to the “on the rise” genre of LITRPG with The Feedback Loop series. The Protagonist is Quantum Hughes. The series starts off with him stuck in a virtual world which he calls “The Loop” because every day is the same. He is also the only actual person in this virtual reality world for the past two years, so when another actual person appears it throws Quantum’s “life” into a tailspin.

This series is highly entertaining if you are into this new Genre. If you are new to LITRPG then this would be a good introduction. Each novel is fairly short but full of humor, action, and adventure!

The only thing I found lacking with this story is that there does not seem to be enough consequences for Quantum’s violent behaviors, and so far there has been no progression of character to learn to handle his anger issues. These are parts of his character but I feel that there was not enough growth for him to overcome these behaviors which should be hampering him in a civilized society.

Jeff Hayes does a great job narrating and bringing the characters in this story to life. There are some effects used on his voice that is done in moderation and only serves to enhance the experience.

** I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review **

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Review: The Last Warrior of Unigaea by Harmon Cooper

The Last Warrior of UnigaeaMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Last Warrior of Unigaea Written by Harmon Cooper is a new book in the LitPRG genre. If you do not know what this is, let me explain. LitRPG is a fairly new genre that mainly consists of story and characters based in either a Virtual reality world, MMO game (Massively Multiplayer Game Online Game – Like World of Warcraft), or other similar RPG (Role Playing Game).

The story follows Oric Rune as he lives in the world of Unigaea as a special class of character called a “Player Killer”. This class is universally hated and untrusted by other players and NPC’s (Think computer controlled characters) alike. Oric chooses this profession in order to be able to seek revenge on other “Player Killer” characters who had previously wronged him in the game. While he is on his quest he discovers another threat that is threatening his new world of Unigaea and must make a decision to ignore this threat or to put off his mission of revenge and face this new threat for the sake of the virtual world that he loves.

Harmon Cooper drops us into the world of Unigaea without any explanation of how this world works. We do learn a few things such as in Unigaea when you die, your character is DEAD and you must start completely over as a new character. We also learn that Oric in real life has opted to be “Perma logged” into this game. How or why is never explained. To me, these things are both a blessing and a curse. Other books in this genre that I have read have the tendency to explain these things as if they were explaining to someone who has no idea how video games or RPGs work at all and tend to go a little TOO into the details to the point that it is too much. Pretty much these days most people get the concept of Virtual Reality, Video Games and such. If not, then this genre is probably not for you.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have some more information than is provided in this book. I get the feeling that this book is in the same universe as other books by Harmon Cooper such as Fantasy Online and if I had read those books then I would have a better understanding.

Overall, I was still able to enjoy the story. The pace was a bit slow at first (never too slow though), and picked up nicely by the end. I found myself not wanting to put the story down and finding excuses to find time to jump back in!

The narration by Jeff Hays and Annie Ellicott was done very well! I enjoyed how the game voices had effects on them and how the character of Sam Raid was performed by Annie Ellicott. The dual roles really lent a great contrast to the experience!

** I received this book free of charge from the author / narrator / publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. **

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Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel

Death Knocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel takes a lesser known urban legend of Black Eyed Kids and turns it into a suspenseful, fun read. Maverick is about to start his senior year in high school and is spending the evening with his best friend playing video games when a knock at the door changes his whole life.

I thought that Hardy and Noel do a great job at writing characters that were likable, relatable, and yet flawed. Stakes are continuously raised throughout the story and the pacing was done well. The story kept moving forward at a good pace.

Memo from the nit-picking department: While this didn’t bother me enough to diminish my enjoyment of this book, it did nag at me. The book seemed to take place in the modern time of ~2017ish (there were game consoles and cell phones), yet not once was the possibility that the black eyes were caused by special contacts which exist. It just felt this possibility was overlooked.

I listened to this book on audiobook narrated by Jeff Simpson. Simpson did a good job making each voice distinct and bringing the characters to life, using different inflections and accents in an enjoyable way. The quality of the recording was excellent as well.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Wendigo Fever by Kevin Hardman

Wendigo Fever (Warden, #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wendigo Fever is a short novel that introduces the book series “Wardens”. Wardens are monster hunters trained to deal with monsters and creatures roaming the world.
Intro novel does not go into detail on how these creatures came to the earth, or history of Wardens but focuses on Errol the younger brother to Tom, a Warden. Errol has no interest in becoming a Warden. When his older brother Tom goes missing, Errol is thrown into assuming the duties of his brother as well as investigating his disappearance.

This first book in the series is a short introduction to this world of Wardens and monsters. Though short I felt this book did a great job with pacing and story. The characters are likable yet flawed. The story manages to simultaneously have its own mini story arc and setting up a larger story arc for later books, which left me feeling both satisfied with the story and wanting more.

Mikael Naramore did a wonderful job at narrating, much like he did with Sensation which I also reviewed. distinctive and consistent characters, and good inflection that matches the tone of the story. Looking through his other works I am looking forward to listening to “Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It”!

Visit Kevin Hardman‘s blog at http://kevinhardman.blogspot.com/

Find Mikael Naramore on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikaelNaramore

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Memories by Stephan Morse

Memories (Continue Online, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memories is the first book in the Continue online series by Stephan Morse. It follows Grant Legate, a man who lost his wife and has now thrown himself into his work while most everyone else has become obsessed with the latest Virtual Reality “pods” that allow people to fully immerse into fantasy worlds. When Grant finally catches up with the rest of the world and tries the most popular Fantasy game, Continue Online he finds more than he expected and gets to experience the game in a unique way.

Overall I enjoyed this book and while this plot has been done before, I felt that Memories put enough of a fresh spin on it that it kept it interesting and unique. The story provides enough mystery and intrigue throughout to keep my interest. There were times I felt that the plot was moving a little slow but not enough to really diminish my enjoyment of the story, though it came close a couple times.

As a long time gamer and MMO player, there were a couple elements that bothered me throughout the book. First off Grant is employed by the company who makes the Virtual Reality systems as well as the hottest game “Continue Online”, yet seems to know very little about the game and some of the VR systems functions. Before even trying the game Grant goes online to learn about the game but finds nothing useful. It is later hinted at that any specifics about the game put online have been deleted or taken down but it is not very well explained. The game also has no manual or instructions what-so-ever, yet millions of people including young teens are able to figure out the game easily – still, Grant seems to be completely lost despite being a gamer in his youth and working for the very company who makes the VR system AND game!

I was also a tiny bit frustrated that the end of the book barely answered any questions presented in the story, not even the main mystery that drives the protagonist throughout the story. I get it, this is a series and you want to leave some threads dangling to entice readers to continue reading the series but when none of the mysteries are answered it ends up accomplishing the opposite effect. I am more hesitant to jump into Book two as I do not want to invest my time into another book and find myself at the end of that book with still no answers! This has happened to me enough times before that I can often recognize the signs and this book has several of them. I will likely give book two a chance mainly because I am interested in the plot and world enough to give it a shot.

I listened to this story in Audiobook form, narrated by Pavi Proczko. At first, I was not sure about the narration as it felt a little robotic and dry… but there is a reason for that which I will not give away here as to not spoil anything. Once the story was underway and more characters were introduced the narration started to shine through and I was overall satisfied with the performance and would be willing to listen to more of Pavi’s works and see other sides of his narration.

I would recommend this book to people who like Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Role Playing Games, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

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Review: Gabby’s Run by M.D. Massey

Gabby's Run (Them #3)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gabby’s Run is the first book by M.D. Massey that I have read. I must start out by stating that there is some confusion on where this book truly falls in the “Them” series. The book art and description on Amazon / Audible state that this is “Book Four”, however on Goodreads and other reviews it states “Book Three” and hints that this is actually a prequel or origin/backstory for a character in the other books. As I have not read these books I cannot comment on them, or how this book fits into the whole series.

The story follows 16-year-old Gabby Mendoza. Gabby lives in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters such as Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, and more are real. Gabby grows up being trained by ex-CIA “Uncle Tony” to hunt and kill monsters. As a child, she was given special serum injections that enhance her abilities giving her super-human speed, strength, and senses. The Serum however also has side effects as her body stopped growing when she was given the serum at twelve years old. Now she is 16, but she doesn’t look it.

While on a training exercise with her uncle, things go wrong and they get separated. She discovers a young boy Raleigh and his sister Violet while hiding out in a safehouse. Gabby follows them to the small camp they are living at and is taken in by Raleigh. When the boy is taken by a monster the boy calls “The boogeyman” Gabby takes off in pursuit to rescue him. During her time separated from her Uncle Tony and trying to rescue Raleigh Gabby learns a lot about who she is, and who she wants to be.

Overall I enjoyed the story as it had a unique feel to the Zombie Apocolypse / monster hunter genre. Gabby is an interesting character who is discovering herself and her place in this crazy world as she goes along. The pace of the book is nice and steady with lots of action and suspense to keep your attention and interest.

One problem I have is not with the book itself, rather that it is categorized as Young Adult (YA). Certain parts of this book have a very YA feel, but I do not think this book is not very YA friendly due to very dark subjects such as drug use, prostitution, rape, murder, gore, and cannibalism.

I listened to this book in Audio format. It was narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel who did a superb job. The voice of all the characters was done very well with different accents, inflections, and tones. I would be very interested in listening to more audiobooks narrated by her in the future!

Links:
M.D. Massey: Check out his website at http://mdmassey.com/ or on Twitter at @mdmasseyauthor

Laurie Catherine Winkel: Check out her website at https://www.lauriecatherinewinkel.com

*I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audio book by the author, narrator, or publisher.*

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Review: Sensation by Kevin Hardman

Sensation (Kid Sensation, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SensationSensation by Kevin Hardman is a young adult book about a world in which superpowers are a reality. Those that develop these powers can try out to be part of the elite superhero team, the Alpha League.

The protagonist is Jim, a teenager who instead of having just one superpower has inherited multiple powers from his family which is full of other superheroes, and more powers seem to come to him as time goes on. When it is finally time for Jim to try out for the Alpha League, things don’t exactly go as planned and soon Jim finds himself fighting those who he wished to join. Two years after this, Jim finds himself with the opportunity to set things right and possibly become a member of the Alpha League. But of course, nothing is ever that easy!

Sensation is the first book by Kevin Hardman that I have read. I found the pacing of the book to be just about perfect. It had a good balance of action, character building, and drama to keep you interested and at the same time move the story along. I never felt like the story got into a slow spot or started to drag on at any point. The style is obviously written for a young audience, with plenty of teen angst and teen drama. However, as a 40-year-old, I did not find this to be so over the top as to affect the enjoyment I was able to get from the story. If you are a fan of superheroes then this book is definitely worth a listen!

The audiobook is narrated excellently by Mikael Naramore. Naramore’s narration checked off all the things I hope for in a good narration of an Audiobook: Distinctive and consistent characters, and good inflection that matches the tone of the story. His performance was done well enough that I will be looking for his name on other narrations in the future.

Visit Kevin Hardman’s blog at http://kevinhardman.blogspot.com/

Find Mikael Naramore on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikaelNaramore

*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review*

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