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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Aug
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Wildfire Listening to Wildfire is my “re-read” of one of my favorite books of 2017. To recap: the book opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous one, with fears that Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, has located the Baylors and wants to take the girls away to become part of her own House. Additionally, we discover that, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee and daughter of Olivia Charles (antagonist from book 2), wants to hire Nevada because her husband is missing. Add to it the budding romance between Rogan and Nevada, a huge conspiracy to overthrow the existing government, and some crazy family issues, and you’ve got an amazing story! As with my audiobook review of White Hot (book 2), there isn’t much more I can add about Wildfire that I didn’t say in my original review. From that review: “The relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona.” “Wildfire is a wonderful story in an amazing series. The authors have taken incredible care to create a whole set of characters beyond just the hero and heroine. I have become attached to each member of Baylor clan, and I adore that every character has purpose, each with their own story. While the action is intense, the emotional depth takes this story and series from great to amazing. I highly recommend reading the entire three-book Hidden Legacy series from the beginning.” As I have stated numerous times, the addition of Renee Raudman’s narration takes any book up a notch. By now, her unique and separate voices for each character have become so familiar to me, and listening to her read the story is a comfort, like hearing my mom’s voice on the phone after not talking for a while. But more than the voices, it’s the emotion she puts behind every performance that blows me away. From anger to fear, from joy to sorrow, I feel the power of her performance deep inside my heart. She takes the already amazing characters and makes them real. Wildfire is simply amazing and one of my favorite...
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Aug
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased White Hot Listening to the audiobook of White Hot is a “reread” for me. I reviewed the book in May 2017, and my review still stands as I originally wrote it. Here is an excerpt from my original review: “The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. “The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. There are many hurdles to jump, and I really want them to make it.” By listening to the book, I picked up plot nuances that I missed when reading the book the first time. However, It is Renée Raudman’s performance that makes the story so much more. While the writing team of Ilona Andrews is an amazing storyteller in its own right, Ms. Raudman adds so much feeling and emotion to their stories that I can’t help but get choked up every time I listen to one their books. She breathes life into these amazing characters and tales, making them ones I would listen to again and again. She takes an A book and makes it an A+. In the end, White Hot is an amazing, entertaining story, and coupled with Ms. Raudman’s talent, the book is unforgettable. My Rating: A+ Narration: A+ About the Book: Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan. Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally...
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Aug
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Silver Skull Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #2 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Silver Skull As the daughter of a prominent Duke, Lady Olivia is expected to marry, produce heirs for her husband, and run a successful household – all things she was taught to do. Except Olivia is also a Queen’s agent, trained to marry a politically motivated target and report on his activities. Olivia sees this as a means to an end; becoming a widow and then a field agent. Tired of waiting for field assignment, Olivia takes matters in her own hands when she decides to follow Lord Ian Rathsburn. Ian is a man with a tarnished reputation; a former Queen’s agent whose life work was stolen and is being developed by the enemy: Germany. Yet when his enemies kidnap his sister, Ian must act traitor to his country and help the Germans further develop his ideas, working along side his former friend – the man who stole his work. Finding stowaway Lady Olivia on his dirigible, Ian isn’t certain if she’s a bubble-headed woman looking for a husband, or an agent of the Queen looking to bring him in. The second story in Ms. Renwick’s wonderful Elemental Web Chronicles is equally exciting and doubly adventurous as its predecessor. The story not only takes readers across the sea to Germany, but also opens up the setting to the much larger world. The world building continues as new characters are introduced, some with long-term potential. I feel like the entire Elemental Web Chronicles universe has expanded immensely after just one additional book. Even though things are growing within the series mythos, The Silver Skull is a tightly-woven story. The author does a fabulous job bring her world and characters to life without overwhelming readers/listeners. The romance between physician Ian and engineer Olivia is entertaining. I love the use of “scientific exploration” as a means for examining their mutual and intense attraction. They banter and play as only two geeks could, which is very enduring to me. I appreciate the conundrum of being spies and the need to keep secrets versus creating a solid rapport  based on honesty. Their romance burns slowly, but the unfulfilled desire keeps pulling the two together. At first I was concerned that the similarities between The Silver Skull...
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Jul
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries By Familiar Means Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio By Familiar Means is another delightful read in the Witch’s Mystery Cat series.  I enjoyed the continuing journey of Anna as she learns more about her heritage, her abilities and the community of Portsmouth. The novel begins a few weeks after the conclusion of the previous novel, A Familiar Tail.  Anna is settling into the house she is renting along with the coven of Portsmouth.  She is excited that her Grandma BB is coming to visit her.  What makes this so momentous is that her Grandma hasn’t been back to her home town since she left during a town-wide feud.  As Anna is looking forward to this visit, she is also looking forward to a new job painting murals at a new coffee shop in town. However, as things did in the previous book, things do not quite go as Anna anticipates. I love how much Grandma BB brought to the humor and character development of Anna.  It was fascinating to watch old wounds begin to heal and people come together.  Anna has a truly unique group of friends around her in Portsmouth.  I especially enjoyed seeing that Alastair has friends of his own as well.  The little bit of romantic thread that is developing is also a delightful side element to the overall story.  I’m really enjoying following Anna. She is a caring and vibrant character and I look forward to watching her grow in Portsmouth. Though like the previous novel, the “who” of the “who-dun-it” was simple to figure out, there were other twists that added to the revealing of motive and such.  I really enjoyed how Anna investigated this one; not quite as reckless as before, but just as impulsive.  It was interesting that the magic can and does seem to affect Anna, possibly increasing her impulsiveness.  There are several different threads being woven nicely together; the mystery, the family/friends drama, the romance, and Anna’s own growth in her heritage.  I find this series absolutely enchanting and enjoyable.  I now understand the term cozy mystery.  Again, it’s something I can enjoy without worrying about my kids listening with me in the car. I enjoyed Ms. Arsenault’s performance a little more this time around.  It could be...
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Jul
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Besieged  Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5 (but contains tales #0.3, #4.7, #8.6) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source:  Penguin Random House Audio Besieged Anthology Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Besieged is a collection of tales all set in the Iron Druid world. All but the last few are not directly related to the current storyline. Many are fun recountings of events in the long lives of these characters. *Note: I could not find a listing of the story titles within the book, so I did my best trying to catch the names when listening to the audiobook. “Eye of Horus” This is a story Atticus shares with Granuaile and Oberon; told between Tricked and Two Ravens and One Crow, when Granuaile is still an apprentice. Atticus narrates a story from back in the third century when the Celtic god Ogma wants Atticus to steal some books from the library in Alexandra. We find out that the Egyptian and Celtic gods do not get along. It was an interesting side-story about a much younger Atticus and how he first meets the iron elementals. The story makes direct reference to another short story, “Grimoire of Lamb,” which I haven’t read so I may have missed a joke or two. “Goddess at the Crossroads”  Another story shared by Atticus during the same time period as the previous book, that is actually a recounting of a story from long ago. This one takes place during time of Shakespeare, just after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Atticus links up with Shakespeare for an adventure during the time he was writing MacBeth. It doesn’t have any relevance on the current series, but was fun. “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”  This one takes place two weeks after “Two Ravens and One Crow,” and was originally published in the Carney Punk anthology. The tale is a bit of a non sequitur about a trip to a fair where demons and ghouls are feasting on humans. The story takes place in Granuaile’s hometown as she attempts to visit her mom. The story felt a wee bit gorier and darker than the usual stories, but was interesting. “Gold Dust Fairy” This one is another recounting of a story during Atticus’s history. He shares it shortly after the time of...
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Jul
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Familiar Tail by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Familiar Tail by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries A Familiar Tail Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I am delighted that I picked up this audiobook, A Familiar Tail.  On a whim, I thought I would enjoy a story that blends mystery with magic.  Overall I really enjoyed both the story and the narration and can’t wait to listen to the next Witch’s Cat Mystery. Though the story was a tad sluggish in starting because Anna was slow in getting into the magical pool, I enjoyed learning along with Anna about Portsmouth and especially the local witches’ coven.  What first began with Anna going to visit a friend for a little bit, turns into a huge life changing event.  Anna was a mostly carefree spirit, able live her gypsy-esque life as an artist while hiding her vibe ability.  Until this fateful visit, when she discovers her family’s roots, a persistent cat, and a murder mystery only it seems she can solve.  It seems Anna is descended from a magical family, and this vibe (her ability to perceive events that occurred or will occur in a particular space) is a gift of heritage. I really enjoyed the detective bumbling of Anna as she tried to figure out who killed the local witch.  Though it was somewhat easy to figure out the “who,” the motive was elusive until the end.  I did really enjoy how Anna thoughtfully progressed through her investigation.  The plot was gripping, and I found it difficult to stop listening.  I also enjoyed that this was an audiobook I could listen to while in the car taking kids to school.  It’s akin to watching my beloved Hallmark Murder and Mysteries, nothing graphic or too mature for little ones to see or hear.  In fact, my son enjoyed asking questions about Alastair the cat. The coven members and Anna’s friend, Martine, are all wonderful supporting characters.  Each seems unique and added their own energy and support to Anna’s investigation and new found roots.  But Alastair, the cat, was my favorite supporting character.  Though he cannot talk, I really enjoyed how he communicated with everyone, especially Anna.  Ms. Arsenault did a fabulous job in portraying Alastair’s personality and communicative skills. Speaking of the narration, I did like Ms. Arsenault’s performance. Though some voices blended a bit, making it...
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Jul
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews Dating You / Hating You Author: Christina Lauren Narrator:  Shayna Thibodeaux and Deacon Lee Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio What to say about Dating You / Hating You? I really, really wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. Christina Lauren authors some of my favorite titles, but this unfortunately isn’t one of them. And rather than continue to listen to it, I decided to call it quits at the 57% mark (through Chapter 15). Let me tell you why… Carter and Evie are wonderful characters who have a beautiful initial chemistry. They are adorable together, both a bit shy and unaware of how sexy they are. And while their jobs as talent agents in LA have kept each from relationships in the past, the instant connection the pair feels compels them to make a go of things. They have one great date and a hot make out session until everything falls apart. When Evie’s firm buys out Carter’s firm, the pair is forced to compete to keep a job in the LA offices. While it isn’t certain either would be let go or asked to relocate to New York, their asshole boss, Brad, along with their individual competitive natures creates bitterness and conflict, setting up the need to vie for the job. And things fall apart quickly from this point. Carter and Evie are both underhanded, doing things to make themselves look better while potentially sabotaging the other. It’s not horrible at first, but a poke here and a poke there creates such animosity that I cannot stand to listen to it. I finally gave up after a rather silly, yet cruel exchange of pranks involving coffee and hand lotion. It was a tough decision for me to stop listening. The narration is actually part of the reason I went as long as I did. Both Ms. Thibodeaux and Mr. Lee are fantastic! Both have very clear, sharp voices that are simultaneously relaxing. Ms. Thibodeaux gives weight and maturity to Evie, while Mr. Lee brings manages to get adorkable for Carter. Both narrators have excellent narrative voices and a range to fit a variety of both male and female rolls. In the end, Dating You / Hating You had too much Hating You and not enough Dating You. I’m guessing at some point, the couple works out...
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Jun
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Buns by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Buns by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Hudson Valley Series Buns Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Elizabeth Louise with Jason Carpenter Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Clara lives for her job, going all around the world, rebranding and restoring resorts to their former glory. Her latest job is in the Catskills at the Bryant Mountain House. She excited to tackle the project, but the owner’s son, soon to be sole manager, Archie, fights Clara at every turn. Luckily she’s near her two besties, who have settled in nearby Bailey Falls. Archie’s life is the Bryant Mountain House, and ever since his wife passed from cancer, he doesn’t do anything but ensure this regal resort runs smoothly. So when an outsider comes in and not only starts making all sorts of changes, but ignites feelings that he’s not experienced since his wife, he can’t help but butt heads with the gorgeous, vivacious Clara. Now he must decide if making changes is the only way to survive in modern times. The third book in Ms. Clayton’s utterly delightful Hudson Valley series, Buns takes readers on a journey of friendship, romance, and love. Both Clara and Archie have strong reasons not to trust or get involved, so when they start to have the feels for one another, it’s conflicting, sweet, and sexy all at once. Despite (or maybe because of) their constant bickering, Archie and Clara are soooooo hot together. They both want the forbidden sexual fruit. Their constant tango of attraction and stepping back rivets the sexual tension to such incredible heights. Each feels something more than attraction and lust, and it scares them both. Yet once they give in and start a secret affair, they still hold so much back. It truly hurt my heart to listen to Clara refuse to open up, choosing to keep her guard firmly in place, even when Archie tries his best to coax her out. Their romance is genuine and the connections strong, but it’s two-steps-forward-one-step-back until they finally realize what each wants out of life. Jobs and the hotel are important, but so is friendship and love. Elizabeth Louise’s performance is solid and highly enjoyable. I’ve not listened to her work before, but she sounds very familiar. She’s easy to listen to, reminding me a lot of Amanda Ronconi, but without the southern twang. The familiar feel allows me to connect to Clara quickly. Ms. Louise...
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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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