The Christmas HirelingsThe Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received the audiobook free from Audible, and honestly, the best thing about this story is the narration by Richard Amitage, which is 5 stars. I’m going to have to listen to more books by him.

The story itself isn’t bad, more like 3 stars to me, which is why I have compromised at 4. This story has some wit/humor/irony, which is nice. It’s also sweet and charming, and I wouldn’t have known it was originally published in 1894 if I hadn’t looked it up. I think it does a great job standing the test of time, as far as storytelling goes. I especially like that it was written by a woman, considering the time in which it was published.

It’s definitely a strange concept–let’s hire some children to pamper at Christmas–but that keeps it interesting, since it’s a bit predictable.

Pages: 261

Christmas Eve, 1914Christmas Eve, 1914 by Charles Olivier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an audible freebie, and as a performance, it was excellent and heartfelt. It quickly captured the setting and the emotions of war, which made the story a success. It definitely has a feel good element, which can be hard to find in war stories.

Pages: 60

Twain’s FeastTwain’s Feast by Audible Originals
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Audible original was so random, in the most fascinating and delightful sort of way. It was not at all what I expected, but I definitely enjoyed the commentary on Mark Twain, food, race, and environmental issues. I didn’t expect to get all of that out of this short listen, but it really delivered.

Pages: 5

Zero GZero G by Dan Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely adorable MG sci-fi story that was recorded as an Audible original. The narration is fantastic and includes multiple narrators, as well as sound effects.

It tackles important science concepts in simple ways, and it would be a great way to introduce children and/or reluctant adults to the sci-fi genre, specifically space sci-fi. I usually like to learn while I read without feeling like I’m being taught a lesson, so that is my only minor, extremely minor complaint. I let it go, because there is a lot of science-y stuff that people should understand to enjoy the story and setting more.

This has some cultural diversity, a defective cryogenic freezing chamber, a humorous talking navigation system, and an argumentative pirate family. Does it get any better than that?

I love this, and I received it free from Audible (even better!). They are doing a great job with creating originals, and I look forward to receiving two free ones every month.

The Most Wonderful Tales of the Year: Holiday Memories Written and Performed by Our Favorite NarratorsThe Most Wonderful Tales of the Year: Holiday Memories Written and Performed by Our Favorite Narrators by Jonathan Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Audible narrators shared their favorite holiday memories in 2016. This is good, because it was free. Also, the narrators are excellent to listen to (especially if you want to explore some new voices), and they share some diverse memories and traditions. I actually liked hearing about the lives of the narrators, as you rarely think about the person behind the voice.

It is a little bit random, but I like that. It’s great to hear personal stories and memories from personal voices, even if some narrators are not the best writers. Honestly, there is nothing here that is just spectacular, in terms of storytelling, but it’s a bit nostalgic, like listening to an older relative talk about the past.

Also, it was the delightful price of FREE, so thank you, Audible. 3 stars for content +1 star for a free Christmas present.

The X-Files: Cold Cases (X-Files, #1)The X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this is a fun Audible original, but I’m obviously biased by how much I love the X-Files. Now I want to go back and rewatch the whole series. I wonder if I can get it on Netflix. It has been more than a decade since I’ve watched it.

The best thing about this one is the production, with a full cast of narrators (some from the show itself), as well as sound effects. It revisits some of the cold cases that I still remember after all these years, which is fun, as I already have visuals in mind for what is happening.

I'm From the Sun: The Gustafer Yellowgold StoryI’m From the Sun: The Gustafer Yellowgold Story by Morgan Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a weird, trippy, creative production, which I got free from Audible. The songs are catchy. This is humorous. If I didn’t know it was for kids, I would wonder how many drugs were consumed in the creation of this unique masterpiece of charm and ridiculousness. I’m sure the answer is none, which means Morgan Taylor is apparently very creative and thinks outside the box.

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