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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Jun
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… The Adventures of Owl series Book: Owl and the Japanese Circus Author: Kristi Charish Narrator: Christy Romano Audio Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: The Adventures of Owl #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Purchased Audiobook review: Owl and the Japanese Circus Owl (former archeology student Alix), is a well-paid antiquities thief. A year ago, she stumbled into the hidden world of supernatural creatures, accidentally killing a vampire in the process. Now she’s on the run, and it looks like her only way out of the mess is to make a bargain with a powerful dragon. Trusting only her best friend, Nadya, and a man who could break her heart, Ryan, she sets off on a dangerous journey, one that most likely will leave her dead. Follow review teammate, Una, raves about this unique and interesting urban fantasy series, so I decided to give it a try on audio. Overall, I enjoy the mythology and storyline behind The Adventures of Owl series. I appreciate that Owl is a flawed human and makes mistakes. She is intelligent, but not always smart, which makes her a more realistic heroine. However, the very things I like about Owl also caused problems for me. She can be reckless and juvenile at times. Her character is inconsistent: at times smart and others not as much. She doesn’t seem to learn from her missteps. For example, the fact that she doesn’t walk away and hide from an online “friend” makes NO SENSE. She’s super careful, private, and protective, yet keeps going back to him, even though he is stalking her. Also, knowing how concerned she is with privacy, how can she NOT have any security lock on her phone? Again, an inconsistency of character. The narration by Christy Romano was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed her narrator voice, which is fitting for the first person heroine. I started listening at 1.25x speed, but upped it to 1.5x after about five chapters. Ms. Romano does well with accents, however, at times they seems to drop. So when the dialogue is quick and clipped, both Nadya and Ryan’s voices sound very much the same. Also, Ryan loses his masculine sound at times, and it sounds like Owl is talking to herself. Overall, I like most voices, but the only voice I’m not fond of is the Red Dragon. It’s described as perfect Western with no hints of Japanese. But it’s too feminine....
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Jun
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Goal by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Goal by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Goal Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Susannah Jones & Andrew Eiden Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Off-Campus #4 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: purchased After the pregnancy bombshell delivered at the end of the previous book, The Goal actually goes back a bit in time and begins when Tucker and Sabrina first meet. Readers/listeners relive certain scenes and moments from the The Score, with a new perspective and focus, as well as several new scenes. Tucker is probably the most likable, easy-going guy we’ve met thus far in Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. He’s genuine, and while he’s easy on the eyes, he’s not all about scoring with the ladies. When he first lays eyes on Sabrina, he senses she is something special. I adore everything about this guy. He’s nearly perfect and has the patience of a saint. He never takes his eye off the end goal of making Sabrina his, but he allows the ebb and flow of life to take its course along the way. On the other hand, all we knew about Sabrina before this book is that she is Dean’s educational nemesis, and his perception is that she is a cold-hearted bitch. Ms. Kennedy removes that mantle from Sabrina immediately, by showing us Sabrina’s deplorable home life and the motivations behind her desire to achieve perfection at Briarwood. I fell for Sabrina’s flawed character hard. She’s driven and sometimes too focused, but she has a heart of gold underneath the layers of protection she’s built. Sabrina and Tucker make a great couple. There is insta-lust and sexual chemistry big time, creating an immediate interest in the pair. I like that they have time to fall a bit for one another before the baby news comes. I also appreciate that there are several ups and downs. It’s very realistic with a happy ending. While I enjoyed their story, and I’m thankful to finally have Tuck’s book, I was overwhelmed by the amount of focus on the pregnancy/baby storyline. Don’t misunderstand, Ms. Kennedy does an amazing job with the baby storyline; she didn’t sugar coat what it’s like to be pregnant and have a child. She also didn’t minimize the impacts on the parents’ lives and their relationship. However, it’s too much baby for me. I am just not a fan of baby-romances. Generally, the narration is good; better than book 3, but still not as great as the first...
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Jun
9

Listen Up! 2017 #Audiobook Challenge Semi-Annual Update

Listen Up! 2017 #Audiobook Challenge Semi-Annual Update Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Once again this year, I signed up for the annual Audiobook Challenge, this year hosted by Hot Listens and The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. My personal goal is to listen to 50 audiobooks, meeting the My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) level (30-50 audiobooks) during 2017. For more information about the 2017 Audiobook Challenge, click the image below. 2017 Audiobook Challenge Update: January – June I’ve been enjoying several audiobooks so far this year. At 25 books finished in the first week of June, I’m right on track to meet my goal of 50 books. Here is a list of the books I’ve listened to so far this year. Book 01: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, narrated by James Marsters (1/11) Book 02: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken, narrated by Hollie Jackson (1/19) Book 03: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais, Narrated by Rebecca Estrella (1/24) Book 04: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais, Narrated by Rebecca Estrella (1/26) Book 05: Any Time, Any Place by Jennifer Probst, Narrated by Madeleine Maby & Sebastian York (1/31) Book 06: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais, Narrated by Rebecca Estrella (2/9) Book 07: Trapped by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (2/15) Book 08: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones, Narrated by Lorelei King (2/20) Book 09: Hunted by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (2/24) Book 10: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs, Narrated by Lorelei King & George Newbern (3/6) Book 11: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop, Narrated by Alexandra Harris (3/15) Book 12: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (3/20) Book 13: Shattered by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (3/28) Book 14: Staked by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (4/3) Book 15: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (4/5) Book 16: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews, Narrated by Renee Raudman (4/11) Book 17: Cold Days by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (4/19) Book 18: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi, Narrated by Zachary Quinto (4/20) Book 19: Skin Game by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (5/3) Book 20: The Goal by Elle Kennedy, Narrated by Susannah Jones and Andrew Eiden (5/9) Book 21: My Bluegrass Baby by Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi (5/12) Book 22: Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi (5/16) Book 23: Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi (5/18) Book 24: Owl...
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Jun
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Golden Spider Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #1 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Golden Spider Set in a time when England and Germany have heightened tensions, spy networks are vast, and the ton continues with its balls and social obligations unaware of the secrets around them, Lady Amanda wars with her father, the Duke, over her ability to attend medical school. Amanda is driven by her keen intelligence and a guilt over her brother’s injured leg, to produce a clockwork device to repair nerve damage. Under pressure to find a husband within the year, Amanda courts a classmate, but finds no sparks. However, when her work captures the attention of Lord Thornton, noted physician and neurologist, Lady Amanda finally knows what it is like to have her mind appreciated. Lord Thornton lives with the guilt over the betrayal of his best friend in his damaged leg that will never heal. As a spy for the Queen herself, he finds Amanda’s work to be the break he needs in a rash of Gypsy murders. However much he is attracted to both her brain and her body, Thornton must keep the relationship professional, especially since he’s not on the market for a wife. The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance! Right from the start, I was drawn into this exciting mystery, trying to discover who is behind the Gypsy murders. Watching Amanda’s mind work to piece the puzzle together is fascinating, and made all the much better as she and Thornton grow closer. I love the science of the story – the author does not brush over Amanda and Thornton’s work, but rather gives listeners the details of both test subjects and gadgets. While the engineering, science, action, and adventure is completely fascinating, it is the romance between Lord Thornton and Lady Amanda that gives The Golden Spider heart and makes it such a wonderful story. The pair are meant for one another; not only do they share a passion for science and ingenuity, but they are able to openly be themselves with each other. Thornton doesn’t trust easily, but he finds a confidant in Amanda. Working side by side, their passion grows until they finally give into their burning desires. The story is read by British-born actress Henrietta Meire,...
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Jun
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Skin Game Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #15 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Skin Game Skin Game opens with Harry on Demonreach, a place he’s been living alone for the past year. He can’t leave until he removes the parasite from his head, and it’s clear that Mab has been running interference when he tried to reach out to his friends. Harry spent the time learning more about his new job as the prison warden and perfecting his parkour moves. When Mab finally shows up, she tells Harry his next task is to work as her emissary helping Nicodemus. I have always been a bit fearful of the stories revolving around Nicodemus and the Blacken Denarius. The stories tend to be a bit darker, and Skin Game is no exception. However, I have to say that even with my initial apprehension and the terrible violence of the book, I think this was my favorite Blacken Denarius story. The book is filled with plot twists and gritty action, but also tender moments (Harry and Maggie finally connect!!) and Harry’s trademark humor. Overall, I enjoyed Skin Game. There were great highs, but some very dark lows. The darkness of the mood and malice found in several scenes was a bit much for me at times. I loved several of the changes; most notably what happens with Butters, the changes between Karen and Dresden, and Harry uniting with Maggie. I also loved the addition of Goodwin Gray and Hades, and would love to see them again in future titles. Harry is finding his way again, learning to trust both himself and his friends. There was a lot of positive emotions in the underlying storyline message. But the gruesome scenes were hard to handle at times. James Marsters turns in another amazing performance. Expanding his cast of voices with the addition of several new characters. The voice for the evil forest creature was ominous and dark, the voice for mercenary Gray was laid back and charming. Perfect. Now that I’ve finished Skin Games, I’m 100% caught up and have nothing new. With the delayed and unknown release date for the next title, I’m a bit sad. My Rating: B+ Narration: A...
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May
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Cold Days Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #14 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Cold Days Cold Days opens with a fully alive, yet still recovering, Harry under the care of Mab, who is determined to shape him into her active Winter Knight. It takes a few chapters, but eventually, Harry makes his way back to Chicago and reunites with his friends and brother. Cold Days tackles a lot! Not only is Harry back from the dead, but he’s taken on the mantle of the Winter Knight. He’s got to figure out if he should and how to fulfill Mab’s first task for him, save Demonreach from exploding, which in turn will save all of Chicago, deal with a new and extremely powerful player on the paranormal scene, and by the way, he has a parasite stuck in his head. Honestly, it was all a bit too much for me at times. That, coupled with the several too-close calls, made the book drag a bit because it was over the top. Yet, it was filled with undeniable wit and a sense of humor that complements Harry’s new found fearless attitude.  My new favorite word may just be Vajazzled… referring to the “costume” of jewels Mauve wore along her woman parts (and nothing else). The best parts of the book came when Harry reconnected with his friends, most especially the scene with Thomas. I was in tears. And Karen… she’s really changed since his death. But I was so glad to see she and Harry working together. The narration was excellent. There were times of fast-paced bantering, when dialogue tags were dropped, and I clearly knew who was who. There were scenes of heighten emotions that were so palatable, my own heart nearly broke. The inner battle of Harry the Wizard vs Harry the Winter Knight rivaled Andy Serkis’s performance as Smeagol/Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The vast array of voices, both human and other, are unique, distinct, and perfectly formed. Listening to James Marsters is like listening to a cast of dozens. In the end, I enjoyed Cold Days, even though I felt it went on a few too many chapters. But knowing I only have one book left until I’m caught up leaves me a bit melancholy. I’ve enjoyed exploring this series and don’t want to...
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May
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: The Purloined Poodle Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased The Purloined Poodle The Purloined Poodle is a delightfully entertaining tale shared from the point of view of series regular, Oberon. Yes… Oberon the Irish wolfhound. As readers of the Iron Druid Chronicles know, Oberon has gained the ability to think and understand with humanlike intelligence thanks to his human, Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. When Oberon and Atticus discover that someone has been dognapping prized hounds in the Pacific Northwest, Oberon compels Atticus that it is their responsibility to save the hounds and get to the bottom of this mystery. Oberon has become my favorite character in the Iron Druid Chronicles. I’ve enjoyed watching him learn more and evolve as his life is extended well beyond that of a normal wolfhound. His sense of humor and lack of human pettiness endears him to me, but in The Purloined Poodle, it is also his sense of right and wrong, along with his insight that make him the perfect narrator for this tale. I enjoyed getting Oberon’s take on everything he and Atticus run across as the zigzag across both Oregon and Washington state to uncover what happened to Jack, the prized poodle, as well as several other missing dogs. The addition of the Boston terrier Starbuck was entertaining, even though we have no idea what he is thinking or feeling. He is Watson to Oberon’s Holmes, and shines through both Atticus and Oberon’s impressions of Starbuck. I hope we’ll see him in future tales. Luke Daniels absolutely shines with his narrative performance in The Purloined Poodle. Maintaining his silly, yet houndish, voice of Oberon for the entire story, I honestly felt like I was inside the dog’s head. The narration only adjusted when one of the other characters spoke aloud, and even then, Mr. Daniels used the perfect voice for each new character. Although it could be enjoyed as a standalone mystery, The Purloined Poodle is a treat for those who’ve followed Oberon and Atticus since their start. Additionally, the epilogue wraps up a few things for Atticus that were left open at the conclusion of Staked (IDC #8). I highly recommend this mystery to all! Rating: A- Narration: A+...
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May
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Staked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Staked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Staked opens with Atticus back in Toronto, a place he swore he’d never visit again. He’s there to steal the list of all vampires in the world. While there, he runs into Joseph – the head of Hammers of God, who has retired and married. Atticus learns that Joseph has seen the errors of his youth, and now Joseph wants to help Atticus kill off the vampires. We also finally learn what happened when he was in Toronto years ago, under the name of Nigel. Meanwhile, Granuaile is in Asgard with Oden, working on a way to remove Loki’s mark. And Owen has moved to Flagstaff with Greta, where he plans to train six young humans to become Druids. As with the previous book, Staked is shared in three different POVs: Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen. This time around, there are actually three separate stories, as each of the Druids is on his/her own journey. I wasn’t as confused this time around since I was used to the jump from character to character. While I truly enjoyed listening to Staked, Atticus’s life weighs heavily on his soul, and it brought me down at times. Also, I continued to worry about what would happen to the characters, especially with Jesus’s dire prediction in the previous title. I was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop, and didn’t feel lighten by the end of the book. I don’t like feeling this way. But as Owen would say, Atticus has really cocked things up, and I fret at how far-reaching his actions will reverberate. Although at the beginning of the book I felt the narration was off, it settled back into its usual patterns after a couple chapters. Mr. Daniels’ voices are all pretty consistent from the last book – Granuaile’s voice remains not as light as she was when we first started hearing it – and I think it’s because she’s not the same wide-eyed girl she once was. But Luke Daniels continues to provide a top-notch performance, and he does a great job with all the voices, especially the trolls. Staked is emotionally dark at times, which makes for a gripping, if not heart-wrenching,...
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May
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Shattered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shattered Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Shattered opens with the exciting addition of Atticus’s arch-druid, Owen, fresh off one of the time islands and unaware of the millennia that have past since he was last awake. As Atticus and Oberon work to acclimate Owen to the twenty-first century, Granuaile takes her own Druidic journey and heads to India to meet up with Latcha and save her father from a demonic possession. So much happened in Shattered! It was exciting to listen to; however, it did get confusing at times. This time around the story is shared by three voices (Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen) and two different POV tenses (Atticus in past tense, while Owen and Granuaile are present tense). Additionally, there are time lags and overlaps between the different narrators which left me scrambling at times to keep up. The overall stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann chasing after Atticus AND Loki’s intentions for Ragnarök, seem to take a backseat in this one… at first. But then the pieces of the puzzle slowly lock into place until BAM! two huge reveals and a lot of forward momentum. In fact, the events are so huge, that there will be impacts from the revelations for a long time. I loved the addition of Owen, Atticus’s arch-druid, who is now physically younger than Atticus (even tho he looks older) by a couple millennia. Atticus helps restore his body to a more youthful state and acclimate him to the modern times. His POVs add additional comic relief and thoughtful insight to the tale. Allowing the pair to come to terms over their past filled a void I didn’t realize was there. Watching teacher become student was humbling for both. I also enjoyed the addition of Orlla, Granuaile’s Irish wolfhound, and look forward to the time when she and Oberion can speak together. I spent a lot of the book fretting for Granuaile. Between the ominous predictions from Jesus and Granuaile’s own hindsight on her actions, I seriously was afraid of what would happen by the end of the book. No spoilers – something significant does occur, and I survived the tale. haha. But not since the battle with the Norse pantheon in...
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Apr
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hunted Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #6 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hunted Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. After completely enjoying the previous title, Trapped, I couldn’t wait to get into Hunted; however I was a bit apprehensive over what would happen to my favorite trio of characters as life seemed to be going “too good” for them. Of course, life didn’t stay safe, and the opening of Hunted was rather surprising as the Morgain helps fight off the Roman-Greco goddesses of the hunt to save Atticus. She confides in Atticus some rather telling information that made me relook at her character. Now Artemis and Diana are hunting Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon across Europe to seek retribution for perceived losses, and all of Europe has been struck with Pandemonium, preventing their escape to Tír na nÓg. I love that Hunted is a blend of pure adventure as well as a mystery to be solved. Someone/s is out to end Atticus and has recruited a number of players in the effort. Not only are the Olympic pantheons after him, but there are vampires, dark elves, and gods tracking his every move. Oh, and Loki is on the loose, again. Finding out that Jupiter, Zeus, and Odin are following along and watching the chase for entertainment is the perfect nod to the classic tales. The battles are epic and even a bit frightening. Meanwhile, Atticus believes a powerful fae is orchestrating the efforts against him, and his weariness and fear had me on the edge of my proverbial seat. With so much going on, I thought I’d be lost, but rather, I was completely engaged as I followed along the frantic chases. The book also treats us to chapters from Granuaile’s POV. While the first time it occurred it almost felt out of place, later I realized it was setting me up for the events to come. I enjoyed seeing life through her younger and unfettered eyes. Although, being Atticus’s apprentice and now companion has forced Granuaile to quickly mature and deal with the ugly. Granuaile’s perspective and powers, along with her powerful feelings, adds so much to the series and each story. She balances Atticus perfectly, and I simply love how much Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon have become a genuine team....
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