Book Review: Jaguar by C. A. Gray

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Author: C.A. Gray

Narrator: Melissa Williams

Series: Uncanny Valley Series, Book 3

Publisher: Wanderlust Publishing

Released: Sep. 14, 2018

Length: 9 hours 48 minutes

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The Silver Six have blown the Renegades’ underground compound to bits, killing several of Rebecca’s best friends in the process – and to her horror, the boy Rebecca had convinced herself she loved for all these years was the one to betray them all. At the same time, General Specs, the company Liam was once slated to inherit, has developed a super intelligent robot called Jaguar which is quickly becoming godlike in her omniscience. As the remaining Renegades flee to their last bastion of safety in the Caribbean, Liam makes his way back to London, in a last ditch effort to convince his father to destroy Jaguar before it’s too late.

Rebecca, meanwhile, finally understands her own heart: she never loved Andy. He was merely a “safe” choice who would never require anything of her. Liam, on the other hand, exasperating as he was, had seen past her defenses. All of his teasing and provoking had been his attempt to get her to be real with him – but the more he made her feel, the further she had retreated. She had even substituted her companion bot Madeline for real, deep human friendships, and for the same reason: she’d been avoiding love to protect herself from another loss like the one she had experienced when her father was killed for the Renegades’ cause. Ironically, she only realizes this once Liam is on his way to a similar fate. But she’ll be damned if she lets him go without a fight.

This high stakes conclusion to the Uncanny Valley Trilogy envisions a world not too far off from our own, in which super intelligence is a reality, humanoid bots have supplanted human power and influence, and there are eyes watching and reporting our every move. If humanity is to survive, the Renegades will have to galvanize support across the globe, under the radar – and it will require every last bit of ingenuity they possess. But is attempting to outwit a super intelligent being really the answer? Or will it require something much more fundamentally human?

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By day, C.A. Gray is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) with a primary care practice in Tucson, AZ, and she writes medical books under her real name (Dr. Lauren Deville). She lives with her husband, with whom she maintains a facetiously contentious movie review blog, and travels as often as they can get away. When not writing or seeing patients, she does yoga, drinks red wine while eating dark chocolate, and consumes audiobooks like there’s no tomorrow!

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Narrator Bio

Melissa lives with her family, including two dogs and a cat, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado.

After having a corporate job for most of her life, and as a self-proclaimed introvert, she decided to leave corporate America to work from home. Voice overs had always tugged at her heart as something she would like to explore, so she attended some classes and landed with a company that taught her how to break in to the industry.

Loving to read, she explored the fast growing world of audiobooks and fell in love with it. She has ten audiobooks under her belt and is currently working on the 11th. Understanding that she should always be learning how to improve her skills, she is currently working with Sean Pratt.

When not talking to herself in a padded room, she can be found walking her dog, singing or fishing the Arkansas River.

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Those of us who have been reading science fiction and watching the old classic movies for longer than we may care to admit have harbored a not-so-secret concern that someday we would be confronted with robots who are not only sentient but super-intelligent and in a position to take over the world. In the Uncanny Valley Trilogy and especially Jaguar, Ms. Gray has brought a fresh approach to this concept.

Rebecca and the rest of the Renegades are living on the edge of such a doomed future and are really the last bastion against the Silver Six and Jaguar but they now need to spread their fight to other parts of the world. The AIs have been very successful at convincing people that having them in charge is best for all but there’s another, perhaps more dangerous, threat in Jaguar, the most self-aware and powerful AI ever.

This conclusion to the trilogy is thought-provoking, especially regarding our very real proclivity for believing the lies of those in power when they speak to our desires and fears but this is not the entertaining part of the story. Rebecca and her colleagues have to face up to personal issues, betrayals and life-threatening danger and Ms. Gray never lets the tension ease.

Once again, Melissa Williams brings life to an already exciting tale and I have to say she’s been an important element in my enjoyment of the Uncanny Valley Trilogy. I hope to hear more from her in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by C.A. Gray. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Uncanny Valley Series Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card
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THE SILVER SIX

May 2nd:

Lone Tree Reviews

May 3rd:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Turning Another Page

May 4th:
Momma Says To Read or Not to Read

May 5th:

Book Addict

May 6th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

May 7th:

Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

May 8th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

JAGUAR

May 9th:

Lone Tree Reviews

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

May 10th:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Buried Under Books

May 11th:

Book Addict

Turning Another Page

May 12th:

Momma Says To Read or Not to Read

May 13th:

Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

May 14th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

May 15th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

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Book Review: The Silver Six by C. A. Gray

The Silver Six
Uncanny Valley #2
C. A. Gray
Narrated by Melissa Williams
Wanderlust Publishing, September 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

What is it that makes us truly human?

Rebecca Cordeaux’s entire world has been turned upside down. In a single day, she’s learned that Senate Leader Halpert and his Board of Advisors are actually illegal humanoid robots created underground twenty years ago—and they tried to have her killed. Her mother Karen, whom she always believed to be passionately against the cause of the Renegades, turns out to be their leader. And Liam, a man she never thought she cared for, is now fighting for his life—and she finds that she cares desperately.

Fortunately Karen, known to the Renegades as M, has planned for exactly this sort of eventuality. Using Rebecca’s father’s blueprints, Karen patiently built an underground compound in an abandoned part of the Americas where they can regroup and plan for the coming war. The compound becomes an unlikely oasis as their number grows, both on accident and on purpose. In attempting to recover her best friend and companion bot Madeline, Rebecca gets what she thought she’d always wanted: Andy arrives at the compound too, along with her friends Jake and Julie. But with the sudden addition of an old flame from Liam’s past, Rebecca discovers just how little acquainted she has been with her own heart.

Meanwhile, the Silver Six are running a worldwide campaign of indoctrination to ensure that the people are on their side. In the name of peace, they want nothing more than to wipe out every shred of resistance, while pursuing their ultimate goal of robotic superintelligence. With the assistance of a neuroscientist who helped to build the Silver Six decades ago, Rebecca attempts to understand how synthetic minds work, hoping this information can be used against them. She’s sure that the mysterious, brilliant, and beautiful Alessandra Russo is the key somehow, but Alex’s hatred for the Silver Six is only matched by her hatred for the Renegades. Can the Renegades find and exploit the weakness of the Silver Six before synthetic intelligence passes the point of no return?

When I read or, rather, listened to Uncanny Valley, the first book in the trilogy, I was pulled into a vortex of misdirections and revelations, especially towards the end, and that alone made me  anxious to read the next book. The Silver Six is every bit as intriguing as the first book.

Now that Rebecca and the rest of the Renegades know that the Silver Six, lead by Halpert, are actually robots, all the earlier conspiracy theories have been proven correct. War is inevitably coming and the Renegades must plan for it while they work to subvert Halpert’s propagandizing. That in itself is perhaps the most critical part of their fight because humans are so gullible, easy prey for the lies that are so much more comfortable than truth.

And because life goes on, no matter the circumstances, Rebecca can’t help being distracted by the two young men vying for her attention. As so often happens, one of them will be found wanting but is it possible that the Resistance will be affected by this?

Melissa Williams is a better than average narrator, easy to understand and with good pacing. I couldn’t always distinguish one character from another but that didn’t impede my enjoyment of a strong tale with lively action. I appreciate this second book as much as the first; come back tomorrow to see what I think about the trilogy’s conclusion .

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

Book Review: Deadly Aim by Paty Jager

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Title: Deadly Aim
Series: Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 3
Author: Paty Jager
Narrator: Ann M. Thompson
Publication Date: July 21, 2017

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Deadly Aim
Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 3
Paty Jager
Narrated by Ann M. Thompson
Patricia Jager, July 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace send potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer. Visions from her dead grandmother reveal Shandra is on the right path, but the woods are full of obstacles; deadly ones.

Detective Ryan Greer believes Shandra’s dreams will help solve the mystery, but he also knows the curious potter could get herself killed. He’s determined not to let that happen.

Until he’s blind-sided. Are Shandra’s powers strong enough to save them both, or will the murderer strike again?

Big game hunters are not the most popular figures in the real world or in fiction so it isn’t easy to have much sympathy when Shandra finds J.W. Randal’s animal-ravaged body on her property. Perhaps it would be better to say my sympathy was with Shandra, first for finding another body on her Huckleberry Mountain and second for her finding out she had such a reprehensible neighbor. I guess this just goes to show that large properties can make it hard to know your neighbors. At any rate, finding a body on her own land at least provides some justification for Shandra sticking her nose in where it doesn’t really belong.

It’s fortunate for Shandra that the deputy sheriff, Ryan, is not averse to her sleuthing and, in fact, he respects her spiritual connection to her Nez Perce ancestry and the dreams that seem to lead them to important hints. What occasionally gets in the way is the growing romance between the two and their “mating dance”, if you will. I appreciate the way Ms. Jager is allowing a natural growth of their mutual attraction rather than the instalove we see too often. I was happy to learn that they still haven’t told each other their deepest secrets but that seems to be coming soon.

Meanwhile, back to the investigation…clues begin to mount that point in different directions including potential bad blood in the game hunting business and a possible illicit liaison. Most intriguing is a particular necklace whose provenance is difficult to track down .and this part of the hunt brings Shandra’s particular creative expertise to the forefront. When things come to a head, though, there’s more than one surprise

In this entry, a bit more editing could have been useful as occasional flaws are more obvious than in previous books in grammar and word choices as well as in shifting points of view. Also, while Ann M. Thompson is a better than average narrator, she did pull me out of the story every now and then with mispronunciations and odd pacing. Still, an interesting mystery and Ms. Thompson’s reading made this an appealing tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Pinterest

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About the Narrator

Audiobook narrator and voice over artist Ann Thompson continues to work in radio and TV news broadcasting as she has done for the past 25 years. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. A-P has named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology. Once she even rode the “Vomit Comet” to simulate zero gravity in a KC-135. Thompson has reported from India, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Belgium as part of fellowships from the East-West Center and RIAS. She values author partnerships like the one with Paty Jager for the Shandra Higheagle series.

Website

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Book Review: Tarnished Remains by Paty Jager

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Title: Tarnished Remains
Series: Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 2
Author: Paty Jager
Narrator: Ann M. Thompson
Publication Date: April 14, 2017

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Tarnished Remains
Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 2
Paty Jager
Narrated by Ann M. Thompson
Patricia Jager, April 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Murder…deceit…greed….

Shandra Higheagle is digging up clay for her renowned pottery when she scoops up a boot attached to a skeleton. She calls in Weippe County detective Ryan Greer. The body is decades old and discovered to be Shandra’s employee’s old flame.

Ryan immediately pegs Shandra’s employee for the murderer, but Shandra knows in her heart that the woman everyone calls Crazy Lil couldn’t have killed anyone, let alone a man she loved.

Digging up the woman’s past takes them down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit. Will they be able to prove Crazy Lil innocent before the true murderer strikes again?

When Shandra digs up the boot with a bone in it, the discovery naturally leads to an entire body and its identity doesn’t take too long. What’s surprising is Lil’s response to the news and her attitude is what leads the county’s detective, Ryan, to suspect that she may have killed the man for very personal and emotional reasons. That’s when Shandra feels the need to step in because she just doesn’t believe that her ranch hand is either guilty or crazy.

Fortunately for all three, Ryan doesn’t mind—although he has a few qualms—Shandra inserting herself into the investigation. He knows from a previous experience that Shandra is unusually intuitive and thoughtful and, in fact, he respects the dreams she receives through her deceased Nez Perce grandmother. It also doesn’t hurt that Ryan and Shandra are engaging in a bit of a romantic connection.

As pieces of the truth behind the cowboy’s death come to light, the attention points in an entirely different direction that has a lot to do with very dysfunctional family issues as well as Lil’s love for the late lamented Johnny. Along the way, light is shed on the reasons behind Lil being called “Crazy Lil”.

Ann M. Thompson does a fine job with the narration, using distinctive voices for various characters, and her tone is appropriately nuanced to emphasize stress and emotion. Occasionally, I heard a little hiccup, for lack of a better word, in the narration but certainly not enough to bother me much.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Pinterest

************

About the Narrator

Audiobook narrator and voice over artist Ann Thompson continues to work in radio and TV news broadcasting as she has done for the past 25 years. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. A-P has named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology. Once she even rode the “Vomit Comet” to simulate zero gravity in a KC-135. Thompson has reported from India, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Belgium as part of fellowships from the East-West Center and RIAS. She values author partnerships like the one with Paty Jager for the Shandra Higheagle series.

Website

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Play an excerpt here.

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Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

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Book Review: Finding Life on Mars by Jason Dias

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Title: Finding Life on Mars
Author: Jason Dias
Narrators: Jennifer Jill Araya
Publication Date: February 11, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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Finding Life on Mars
A Novel of Isolation
Jason Dias
Narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya
Jason Dias, February 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When the last man on Earth reveals he has a nuclear weapon pointed at the tiny Martian colony, the colonists can only survive by working together. Jaye, a Trueborn Child of Mars, isn’t like her father, Merlin. Like all the Trueborn, she is cursed with perfect memory and deep sensitivity. But not even the knowledge that Merlin killed her mother can change the fact: They need each other for more than survival.

Generally speaking, post-apocalyptic tales are dark and tense and any sense of attachment comes from the people trying to survive against all odds. That’s certainly true of Finding Life on Mars but the friction between the original colonists from Earth and the generation that was born on Mars brings a whole new level of anxiety.

Earth has essentially died and, while that was expected, the colonists didn’t realize just how bad things were and that they would be the only ones to survive. They’ve made a life for themselves on Mars and have raised families but the Landers will die out before much longer. The Trueborns, those born on Mars, are of a different sort all together with  somewhat rigid personalities and little empathy. Will these two groups be able to come together in the common cause of stopping a madman bent on destroying everything or will this be their last chance to understand and love each other in spite of their differences?

Narrator Jennifer Jill Araya is new to me but I was impressed with her ability to make Jaye more personable than she really is and it was her performance that kept me engaged with the story, despite her having to maintain a nearly robotic monotone. While I enjoyed the tale, I think I would have had more difficulty connecting with Jaye if I had read this visually. Still, Mr. Dias has left me thinking about the importance of the human personality and the need for emotional connections.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

About the Author

Jason Dias is a neurodivergent existential psychologist and author. He lives, loves and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado and keeps largely to himself.

Website

Twitter

Amazon

 

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About the Narrator

Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. She loves nothing more than giving life and breath to the printed word.

When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Book Review: Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Savior
The Watcher Series, Book 3
AJ Eversley
AJ Eversley, March 2019
Narrated by Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobooks

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

To get the most enjoyment from this book, I highly recommend reading the trilogy in order as this is really not a standalone. I’m glad I listened to this one so soon after the second volume because the pace is very fast and the interaction among the primary characters is intense; it helped not having to try to remember details from the earlier parts of the story.

While Sawyer and Max are certainly important, it’s Kenzie who held my attention the most this time. He’s truly a tortured soul and wondering how things would turn out for him…and Sawyer and Max…was more than a bit agonizing but I have to say I wish there wasn’t so much of the now-commonplace love triangle. With so much going on in the fight to save the world, the romantic elements were just a distraction.

Being perceived as the “savior” is uncomfortable for Sawyer but at least she’s finally accepted that her life will never be what it was before she learned the truth about herself and her world. Almost despite herself, she really is the last hope, so to speak.

I appreciated the way Ms. Eversley brought things to a close and don’t feel any lack in the ending. Ms. Stephens and Mr. Campbell rounded out their narration of the trilogy quite nicely and, in my opinion, had much to do with my enjoyment of the tale. I won’t be unhappy if these three collaborate again on another story in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Spotlight on Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Synopsis

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

************

About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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