Cover Image: Solstice Shadows

Solstice Shadows

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Thunder Creek Press for an advanced audiobook in exchange for an honest review.  

4 stars for archeological adventure and 3 stars for characters and their relationships.  

Twins Maddy and Will are back with their friend Bear on a world wide quest to save the world from the Russians. 

Enjoyed the narration of Tim Campbell.
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Great book and great audio book reader! I was pleasantly surprised to find myself starting in the middle of a series, but easily picked up the characters and plot - the sign of a great series writer! I love a great action mystery with a hint of sci-fi!  Exciting reader and recommended!
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*received audiobook for free from netgalley for honest review* 3.5 Didnt read the first book lol so wasnt sure what exactly happened in that book but was easily able to jump in and mostly understand everything. not really my kind of book tbh but it wasnt bad.
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Definitely a page turner.  I enjoyed the audio book and found it really intriguing.  I also enjoyed the narrator.  This was my first audio book and was impressed that the narrator could change his voice noticeably enough so that I could tell which character was speaking.  Overall, it kept my interest.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the advance audio copy.
Action, adventure, archaeology, relationships, assassins, thriller, spies, travel, black ops, archeoastronomy. Relatively clean, some violence.  I love that they travel all over the world!
Good narrator.  I didn't read the first book of the series, but enough background was given that I could easily read it as a stand-alone.
I would recommend that you not let your attention drift as you can easily get a bit lost.  The action moves swiftly.
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When I read the description of this it said Da Vince code meets Tomb Raider but I thought more like Jonathan Maberry!  Cool!  It was a bit of Jonathan Maberry without the self-awareness or sarcasm.  It was all macho with no self-deprecation or humor. Just too much manliness for me.  Does it matter that the lead character was a woman?  No.  Does it matter that the author was a woman? No.  It was still just too much dumb machismo for me.  Maybe if I had read the first book it would have been less ridiculous to me.  Without that, it was just laughable and I found myself rolling my eyes so much I wished it burned calories.

It is possible that the choice of narrator influenced my opinion.  His voice did not have the range to cover the characters and it just seemed like they all had the exact same voice.
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I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “Solstice Shadows" direct from the publisher Thunder Creek Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

About the Audiobook:

Regards to the Narrator's Individual Character performances:

Maddy: Her voice was the most distinctive of the cast of characters - she even sounded quite feminine which is sometimes hard with male narrators. She didn't sound too high pitched and her voice came through as very natural.

AJ: Most children I find come across as either pitchy or they sound like you'd think they might sound if they were performing their own roles in audiobooks. AJ sounded convincing as himself and the age he is in the novel.

Bear: His Southern drawl makes him feel separated from the other male characters in the story and allow you to connect his voice with his character quite immediately. You can even sense his disapproval of Maddy being around her ex Vincent.

Secondary characters:

Ravi: This is the first person we become acquainted with during the Prologue and his voice is barely audible due to the pain he has been given by his unknown attacker and yet, Campbell brought out the humanity in that singular moment of self-remorse as Ravi regretted his actions which led to this encounter. You could hear it in Ravi's voice and I felt that was quite an authentic way of starting the novel - by showing the threats behind the chase for the missing star chart.

How the story sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I found this audiobook to be spoken narrative moreso than theatrical. I will say, Mr Campbell has a knack for accents and as this story globe hops through different countries and settings, each individual character's voice he brought to life had a different accent which I felt was his true strength as a narrator. I only wished the tempo and delivery of his narration style didn't fall flat for me as it was an engaging story (to a certain point) but his voice just didn't match the context of it.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the story:


I felt Mr Campbell articulated himself well - both as the narrative pieces between the dialogue and the characterisations of the characters themselves; both leading and supportive cast. Except despite the fact his articulation is clear and crisp, it is how he sounds as he's narrating the story which affected my listening experience because at one point, all the chapters merged together and it was hard to separate them because it just felt like this was being spoken in one tone of reference and it became rather droll after that realisation. As everything just blurred together.


I had to decrease the rate of delivery of the narrator's narration in order to better hear what he was saying as he narrated the book. Generally I do not alter the speed of an audiobook as since I first started listening to them in [2016] I've appreciated hearing them in the speed in which they are delivered. However, on a few occasions now I have found myself using the reduction option for speed - this began at 1.0 and I had to shift it back to 0.75 in order to feel that the pacing in Campbell's delivery didn't feel too jolted and fast for me to hear the story he was narrating. That was the only issue I had when the audiobook first began - it felt rushed.

Outside of the speed of delivery for the narration itself, I felt there was enough distinctions made between characters and the narrative passages to understand where you are in the story without feeling lost. This helps with pacing and with processing what is happening in-line with the story.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

I had to raise the volume on my tablet in order to hear the narrator a bit more clearer than I would have if I were listening to this via Scribd or Audible. Being that I am still getting acquainted with both the tablet and with the NetGalley Shelf, I didn't mind the few adjustments the audiobook needed but initially I thought I was going to listen to this on a lower level of sound.

There weren't any additional sounds or soundscapes attached to the audiobook as some audiobooks have between chapters and/or in the opening or closing of the audiobooks. There wasn't anything in the background to distract the listener either as it was a solid copy with a crisp sound of narration.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

I didn't quite feel the narrator's voice fit the storyline as it was written - for me Campbell's voice fell a bit short for me as I was listening to him narrate the book. His style of narrating is different than I am used to hearing as it is quite a bit droll in places because he's voicing the story in such a serious tone it becomes a bit droll in the delivery. It was the context of the story which kept me rooted into the audiobook and thereby what allowed me to continue listening to him narrate Solstice Shadows.

However, if I were to re-read this series and start with the first novel in the series and shift forward thereafter, I would be seeking out the stories in print rather than in audiobook. By comparison, when I am listening to the Kay Hunter Detective novels which are Contemporary Thrillers in their own right by Rachel Amphlett I am so consumed by those stories it is hard to blink lest I'd miss something keenly important in Alison Campbell's narration. I wish I could say I had the same reaction to Campbell's narration style but sadly I did not. I just felt disconnected.

In closing, would I seek out another Tim Campbell audiobook?

I might consider it but it would depend if his narration style within Solstice Shadows is his standard narration voice or if he changes his style of narrating books per genre and/or subject explored therein. For me, I couldn't get behind the 'voice' as much as I could get behind the 'story' and this was a clear instance where I loved the story moreso than the narrator who voiced it. Until I reached a point in the novel where I was having trouble keeping myself invested in the story as it was being revealled - as I was losing traction with how the story unfolded. It just didn't grip me as much as I had hoped it might when I first started reading it.

About the "Solstice Shadows" the book:

As I listened to the story and read the story in tandem, I found the novel to be a bit choppier than continuing captivating my attention. Most chapters lead me to develop new questions about the characters and about key components of the story itself - yet not every new chapter gave me the answers I was seeking to find. It became a bit of a labyrinth of discovery - where you feel suspended from the novel in some ways because you cannot connect directly with it as it is written because each chapter feels like a standalone section of the novel to where you'd have to loop back to those characters being featured in order to better assemble where that section of the novel fits in with the general continuity of the novel (if it fit).

I think part of the issues for me was this novel read like a story of a heap of information being thrown at you all at once whilst you tried to sort through the information, take out what was important and dismiss the rest. There were a lot of moving parts to this novel and by the sixth Chapter I was still treading water trying to get a grip on the plot as we had moved so far away from the initial scene we were involved with where AJ and Vincent were by her side. And there seemed to be a run on attackers trying to use the same weapon and style of attack on the characters in this book. Each time there was a new attack on one of the main characters it felt like I had already read a similar attack which happened to another character and thereby it started to feel too predictable that this is the way the enemies in the story were going to handle how to keep certain characters silent.

The more interesting thread for me was the Order of the Invisible Flame which was a secreted spy organisation in Europe and one which Maddy was affiliated. It was her training through them which attracted her to the VanOps organisation - something that was an interesting shift in the story because Bear wanted her to be brought fully into the organisation rather than just exist on the outside edges of it. That made sense since he wanted to see a future with her in it next to him but for Maddy? I wasn't sure if VanOps is where her heart would lie or if it would feel like a compromise on her part as she had distinctive opinions about self-defense and counter-attack moves once you start to face off against an attacker.

I was much more intrigued by Maddy - from her wrestling conscience about pursuing the adoption procedures with AJ considering her current influx of dangerous liaisons and the ways in which she tried to compensate for her unorthodox and non conventional lifestyle. Maddy was an interesting character because of how she chose to live her life and the ways in which she didn't apologise for her opinions or her ideals therein. Her maternal instincts though did affect how she viewed her pursuit of adoption because she didn't want to dismiss the recent events which put everyone at further risk simply because of the secreted high tech missions she undertook.

I made it to Chapter Eight in both the audiobook and the printed ARC of Solstice Shadows before I had to call it quits on both. I just couldn't see the point in continuing to listen to the story at that junction because I was disappointed in the ways in which I had arrived in the eighth chapter. I didn't connect as directly to the lead character (Maddy) as much as I hoped I might - as there was no emotional connection for me. The most she came out of her shell and shined a light of hope in the story was when she was talking about AJ. Outside of that thread of interest, the suspenseful bits really washed over me because there were a lot of stops and starts to get to the point where you could feel any sort of urgency to solve this mystery.

There is a lot of back and forth happening in those initial chapters - where you feel most of the story has been turned on repeat and you're consistently reading and/or listening to the same content without making much progress to move forward. I do enjoy a lovely tightly paced Contemporary Thriller but unfortunately Solstice Shadows fell a bit short for me as a reader and audiobook listener.
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This review is for the audiobook version of Solstice Shadows by Avanti Centrae.  

Solstice Shadows is an engaging thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It is the second book in the VanOps Series, but can be easily read as a standalone novel.  This global thriller will take you to Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco in a race to save the world.  If you enjoy global thrillers, history, and science, you will enjoy this book.  

The narrator Tim Campbell is a little bit monotone, but what really bothered me was when he made the occasional attempt at a Southern accent, which was not good.  I admit that I live in the South and am particularly sensitive to fake Southern accents because I hear the real thing daily.  I would give Campbell 3 stars for his narration.  

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publishers and Netgalley.  My review is voluntary.
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This was the second entry into the VanOps series and I feel the first set the bar very high. I enjoyed this one overall and it definitely had strong Indiana Jones/Da Vinci Code vibes. I enjoyed seeing how our main protagonists grew in this one and will be curious to see where it goes next. 

Audiobook was well performed and well paced. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of the audiobook. All opinions are my own.
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Fans of Steve Berry and James Rollins will thoroughly enjoy Solstice Shadows, which is part history, part science, and part mystery, with a lot of non-stop action thrown in. It is the second book in the VanOps thriller series by Avanti Centrae.

The series follows a set of twins, Maggie and Matt, and a family friend knows as Bear, as they attempt to stop Russian bad guys who want to weaponize precious resources and end the American way of life. The team races against time and across ancient landscapes, including Mayan ruins and Egypt tombs. I did not listen to the first book in the series, The Lost Power (I didn’t start at the beginning with Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series either), and thankfully, I did not feel lost at all. 

I chose to listen to this audiobook on NetGalley due to the narrator alone - Tim Campbell. He does an amazing job narrating this audiobook, as he does with all of his narrations, providing a variety of voices for each character and several different accents. Tim’s artful performance and Avanti’s wonderful prose combined for a thoroughly entertaining experience. Simply put, I highly recommend this audiobook and can't wait to go back and listen to the first book in the series!
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A fast-paced thriller with unpredictable plot twists, lots of intrigue, a variety of locations and many historical references. It can be read as a stand-alone but more depth and understanding of the characters is gained if you read book 1 first. The main characters are twins, Maddy & Will Marshall. Will and Bear (Maddy’s love interest) are VanOps agents but software expert Maddy is not part of the black ops team. When foreign agents steal cryptic information that leads them to a source of power that would allow the development of a super weapon, Maddy agrees to help the VanOps team find and solve the mystery of the stolen ancient star chart. The plot weaves through the Middle East, the Philippians, Turkey and Mexico and has lots of action, suspense and tense near death experiences. The narrator, Tim Campbell, really brought the story to life. His pace and intonation showed the pressure, dangers and emotions in the story and his accents were spot on. The book builds through many twists and turns to an action-packed climax and a satisfying ending. I loved the strong female characters, the unfolding of the mystery surrounding the star chart and the touch of paranormal in the story. The missions were exciting and well done but I did find the quick shift of POVs a little off putting at times. Overall, this is an engaging thriller with great narration and an intriguing plot. I received an early copy of this audiobook from Thunder Creek Press via NetGalley with no obligation to review. This in no way influenced my review and all opinions expressed are solely my own.
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The narrator of this audiobook is excellent. In the excerpt, we meet Ravi on the beach, sun bathing.  He is taken by surprised by armed men with a garrote. They threaten to kill him unless he answers their questions. Ravi, a family man, has been having an affair with the Russian ambassador. They believe the ambassador has shared secrets with Ravi while they were intimate. Ravi knows the info shared is useless but his captors don’t. This story is very suspenseful and the narrator, with his commanding voice as the interrogator,  has me on the edge of my seat. I have a feeling Ravi is the type that people underestimate and will make this story interesting. Would love to hear the rest of this audiobook.
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This book sounded right up my alley because I love thriller/adventure books. However, it was really hard for me to get into this book. The beginning didn't catch my attention and draw me in. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but this narrator was particularly monotone - which didn't make it fun to listen to.
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Enjoyed Solstice Shadows. Did both the audio and reading, as I could listen, and then read a chapter or two at night before bed. Very exciting, fast pace as they hop around the world, searching for an ancient mystery. Will need to track the first book down, and can't wait for the next.
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Tim Campbell did an excellent job of narrating this book. He did commendable job of voicing all of the different characters making it much easier to follow the story line. 
No fault of the narrator sometimes the story got a bit muddled and hard to follow, going back and forth between 3-4 story lines at the same time. Since this was an audio book, sometimes that can be difficult to sense/see the change with print books it's easier because of separators/new paragraphs etc. This made it jarring sometimes while listening because all of a sudden you were following a different story line when you were in a different place two seconds before. I didn't read the first book in the series, but found that the author did a good job of filling in the blanks and did not think i was ever in the dark for not reading it. I did find a lot of enjoyable moments in the book, I think I would have liked it more in print form just for the ability to follow the story lines easier.

Thanks for the opportunity to listen to Solstice Shadows.
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About the audiobook
Vanops thriller, book 2
Read by Tim Campbell 
Print length 404 pages
Publisher Thunder Creek Press
Book release August 11, 2020
Genre Historical fiction/mystery/thriller. 
IBAP Members Audiobooks 

The narrator was excellent. I’ve not heard anything from him before and thought he did an awesome job. This as stated is book 2 and I believe it can be read as a stand-alone. And it’s an HEA. 
The story was sound but the relationships were weak and sometimes unbelievable. The secrecy and unfolding about the chart and mission were done well. And it did remind me of the Da Vinci Code a little. I feel like if you love this genre you’ll enjoy it. 

Thank you NETGALLEY and the publisher for this audiobook ARC, in exchange for my honest review. ♥️
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I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Solstice Shadows, by Avanti Centrae.This was a wonderfully fast paced page turner that will appeal to lovers of thrillers and intrigue. Imagine a Tom Clancy novel with the bit of Dan Brown thrown in. I absolutely loved the exotic settings and historical references the author used. This author really did their research! The characters are well developed and the plot is great. Avanti Centrae is now on my must read list. Excellent, excellent read. I definitely recommend it.

I would like to think Avanti Centrae, Thunder Creek Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book. It works as a great standalone book and I'm sure it's even better within the series.

I liked the characters and the adventure. I'm a huge fan of Dan Brown-type books and this falls in line with genre. There was a great story line with great suspense!

I listened to the audiobook, but did not enjoy the narrator. His voice was robotic and he tended to rush through speaking parts of certain characters.

I received this audiobook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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This is supposed to be a stand alone book in this series however I did feel there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning of this book. This book is a fast paced action thriller. On a quest to find a celestial map that leads to super conductive power source that could give whoever gets it first a way to take over the world.  On a race through the Middle East Maddie tries to reconcile her past transgressions, her feelings toward her new man, her feelings for her old man, and if she would be putting the boy she is trying to adopt in danger or would be protecting him.  Maddie is also part of a secret operation that seems connected to the one trying to recruit her.  

This is an interesting, Indian Jones, National Treasure type book, filled with mythology, biblical references, and celestial powers that could save or destroy the world. The narrator was great and really carried the book and all the action.  I really enjoyed this book.
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