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Jul
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice Tempted

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice Tempted Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Twice Tempted Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Prince #2 (Night Huntress Universe #10) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. Twice Tempted #Audiobook Review The second Night Prince book starts with an emotional rollercoaster and ends on a bit of a jaw drop reveal, leaving me ready for the next book. Twice Tempted opens about six weeks after the conclusion of the Once Burned, and Lelia’s electrical powers and psychic telemetry are still blocked due to Vlad putting his fireproofing essence on her. She’s not happy because of the distance Vlad has placed between them, and after realizing she’s fallen in love with him, she decides to leave him to protect what’s left of her broken heart. Unfortunately, someone is after Lelia, and she finds herself on the run from an unknown foe. Overall, I really enjoyed Twice Tempted. The highlight of the story is the continuing romance between Vlad and Lelia. I admire her emotional fortitude, making the decision to leave the man she loves because he refuses to entertain the possibility he will ever love her. Their goodbye scene wrecked me inside, making their eventual reconciliation all the more rewarding. I found myself completely engaged on an emotional level. My only issue with the romance is the similarities of the sorta-love-triangle to Cat, Bones, and Tate from the original Night Huntress series. I understand the need to create tension and drama in the story, but having it come in the form of another suitor, Vlad’s second Maximum, was not the direction I would have liked. It just felt too similar to the original series, and although there are distinct differences, it irritated me. The mystery of who is after Leila was fairly entertaining, even although I had pretty much figured it out well before the end of the book. The reveal in the concluding moments of the book was exciting, regardless of my correct suspicions. Once again, I enjoyed Tavia Gilbert’s narration (see earlier reviews for more on my thoughts of Ms. Gilbert’s performance). Story Rating: B+ Narration: A- Reviews in the...
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Jul
23

Listen Up! When is an #audiobook better?

Listen Up! When is an #audiobook better? Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Listening vs. Reading When do you decide to listen to an audiobook instead of reading the story? For me, I pretty much continue to read books in series that I’ve been reading, and I use audiobooks to catch up on books/series I’ve had on my wish list/TBR. But it’s not always that simple. Listening to a story gives the “reader” a completely different experience than reading it. Sometimes one way works better for a reader than another. Recently, I decided to listen to Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones, rather than read it. Here is a series in which I’ve read every book and had planned to read this one as well. However, I struggled reading the last two books in this series, with certain aspects of the characters’ actions and the overwhelming number of storylines making it difficult for me. Knowing that the narrator is one of my favorites, I opted to break the string of reading and listened to the story instead. In this particular case, I feel I made the right decision. I was able to let go of some of my issues and just enjoy the narrator share the story with me. On the other hand, I feel that I may have enjoyed Anne Bishop’s The Others series a bit more had I read the books. Part of the reason is the narrator, who is a bit slow. However, I think it’s also the writing style, which can be very drawn out and detailed. When listening to a book, I am not able to skim and selectively read pieces and parts, which may be may be better suited for this type of book. Finally, there are books where it doesn’t matter, like the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. These books are so engrossing and well narrated, that I can and do flip-flop mid-book between the audio and written word. These are the books I just can’t put down and can easily drift between the two different media. So what about you? Are there books, series, narrators, or authors you will only “read” in one format or another? Have you ever switched mid-book or mid-series?...
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Jul
16

Listen Up! Vlad gets his own book! (#Audiobook Review)

Listen Up! Vlad gets his own book! (#Audiobook Review) Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Once Burned Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Prince #1 (Night Huntress Universe #9) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. Once Burned #Audiobook After a terrifying accident killed her mother and left Leila with bizarre electrical powers, she ran off to the circus and became Frankie the carnie worker. The electrical currents that run through her body make touching another human nearly impossible; however, if she does make connections, she will see a person’s worst sins and possibly even their future. When a dangerous vampire learns about Leila’s talents, he orders her kidnapped and forces her to help locate his enemy, Vlad Tepesh. Vlad is no stranger to dangerous enemies, but when an intriguing female finds a way into his head and sees into his soul, he takes a chance and believes her when she says that she is searching for him against her will. Once he saves Leila from his enemies, his interest transforms into sexual desire, and he is confident he will have Leila in every way. While she turns his world upside down, he finds a way to help her accept her powers and reshape her into a powerful woman in her own right. Once Burned is the first story in the Night Prince series, but falls as book 9 in the overall Night Huntress Universe. Although Cat and Bones and a few others make a brief appearance in the book, knowing the history of the Night Huntress world has little impact on this story. Once Burned can be enjoyed without having read any of the prior novels; however, I found it more enjoyable having witnessed Vlad in previous situations and adventures. Overall, I really enjoyed Once Burned, mostly for the in-depth character development of Leila and her relationship with Vlad. Since the book is shared from the first person point-of-view of Leila (which was surprising to me since the series is named for Vlad), we spend a lot of time “inside her head,” learning her past, her fears, and her interests. I like that she’s a survivor, and rarely listens to that dark inner voice of doubt. She’s already been at her lowest point and decided to live and persevere, which gives her the toughness I love in UF heroines. She’s extremely interesting and not the least bit whiny....
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Jul
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Night Broken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Night Broken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Night Broken Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Mercy Thompson #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: borrowed NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. I started to listen to Night Broken almost eight months ago and quit after the opening scene. I realized that I needed a break from the Mercy Thompson series because I couldn’t take the pack’s treatment of Mercy any longer. The fact that after seven books and the countless times she’s helped them, the pack still treated Mercy with utter disregard and dislike completely ticked me off. This, coupled with the introduction of Adam’s ex-wife, told me a break was needed. So when I picked the book up again recently, I skipped the opening scene and jumped in where I’d left off all those months ago. And I’m glad I did. Night Broken is another well-developed, exciting tale in the Mercy Thompson world. The enemy is unique, aggressive, dangerous, and just plan bad. I enjoyed listening to Mercy, along with her mate, Adam, her friends, and even newcomers, figuring out the pieces of the puzzle and determining how best to take on a god-like entity. I also love that Coyote is back, and he even displays some affection for Mercy, in his own twisted way. Background storylines weave in and out, some which started several books back, and even one that originally came from Mercy’s sister series, the Alpha and Omega. All of this, plus the introduction of two new characters made this one of my favorite Mercy titles. While I didn’t forget what turned me off from the book all those months ago, time away from the series brought fresh air and a new perspective. Mercy had a couple great heart-to-hearts with some of the pack, conversations that warmed my heart and gave me hope for Mercy’s place among them. I know she’ll never be buddies with everyone, but Mercy knows this too, and is okay with it. I’m also hopeful that having the pack see Mercy in action and listening to her expose hurtful lies may help her cause among the pack. Additionally, Mercy and Adam have to deal with his ex-wife coming into the picture. We know from earlier titles that she’s not the best mother and can be a horrible manipulator. This was very evident during the book, and I did get ticked off...
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Jul
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cat & Bones Get Good!

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cat & Bones Get Good! Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Night Huntress series Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Huntress #5-#6 (Night Huntress Universe #7-#8) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased NOTE: These reviews may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. This Side of the Grave (NH #5 / NHU #7) After a two book hiatus from Cat and Bones’ adventures, the Night Huntress universe returns to its roots with a first person narrative told from heroine Cat’s POV. Chronologically, the book takes place after the two spin off stories, and having read them will fill in a lot of backstory that is assumed in This Side of the Grave. The story picks up with the ghoul uprising lead by Apollyon, a ghoul bent on killing Cat and attacking the vampire nation. Masterless vampires are being picked off by ghouls and our dynamic duo turn to the ghoul queen of New Orleans for some hints as to what is going on. Soon the pair are deep into the ghoul uprising, trying to predict where they will next strike. I absolutely enjoyed this story! This Side of the Grave is hands-down the best book in the series so far. The book genuinely embraces its urban fantasy roots and gives readers a smart adventure, full of action, romance, and humor, not to mention sexy good guys and dangerous bad guys. The story is well executed, with Cat having to use both brains and brawn to stop her enemies. The fight scenes are kick-ass, but there are so many tender moments as well. I love how Cat struggles with her growing powers, but gets through it because she’s tough and determined. Some of my biggest issues with the earlier stories have all been addressed in This Side of the Grave. Previously, the pair didn’t work together, letting jealousy, deception, and stubbornness get in the way of a healthy relationship. This time around, the pair is a team, sharing in the ups and downs, shouldering responsibilities, and genuinely loving one another. They are a tight-knit pair, considering the other and their relationship before decisions. They listen to one another and the book is so much better for it. Additionally, I am happy that Cat finally deals with once-friend Tate and his inexcusable behaviors. This is something that should have happened 4 books ago! I enjoyed seeing Cat back with her old team, and some of the changes going on are downright fun! I hope we see...
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Jun
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 8-9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 8-9 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Kowalski Family Series Author: Shannon Stacey Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Kowalski Family #8-9 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased Taken with You Although I wasn’t won over by the opening scenes, Taken with You is definitely one of the best in the Kowalski Family series. While still set in Whitford, Maine, the series shifts to a non-Kowalski pairing between town librarian Hailey Genest and new-comer Matt Barnett, the “hot game warden” assigned to Whitford. The story hits all the right notes for me, and I adore how Hailey and Matt learn to love despite their differences. Hailey has watched all of her friends fall in love while she remains single and alone. Feeling like she really doesn’t have time to fool around, Hailey is determined to find the “9-to-5” man who will sweep her off her feet and be the father of her children. And although she’s got chemistry with her new neighbor, with his love of the outdoors and unpredictable job, Hailey feels Matt is all wrong for her. Meanwhile, Matt has been burned in a previous relationship by a woman who didn’t appreciate his outdoorsy nature and wanted to change him into something he’s not. He carries that baggage with him into every new potential relationship, setting himself up for failure before there is any chance of being hurt. I completely adored Matt and Hailey’s romance as they try to convince themselves that they are only friends with benefits. The pair have amazing chemistry, even when they are pushing each other into potentially disastrous situations (like a 4:30 AM outdoor date or a dinner at a fancy bistro). What I love most is the genuine feel of the romance, which doesn’t tarnish the happy ending. Their love comes from sexual chemistry and true friendship, but they do have to compromise, and their path isn’t easy. I laughed and cried during the book, which I found emotionally fulfilling and ultimately rewarding. Narration by Lauren Fortgang is once again superb. However, I noticed that (to me) Hailey’s voice had changed from earlier books. It’s not a huge thing, but it sort of bugged me, especially in the beginning scene involving Tori and Hailey. Eventually as the story moved forward, I forgot about it. Overall, Taken with You is a sweet, fun, sincere romance that swept me off my feet. A must read! Rating: A Narration: A- Falling For Max Falling for Max is the final tale from...
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Jun
18

Listen Up! Audiobook Challenge: 2nd Quarter Update

Listen Up! Audiobook Challenge: 2nd Quarter Update Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Now that I am firmly part of TEAM AUDIOBOOK and an avid listener, I signed up for the annual Audiobook Challenge hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens. My personal goal is to meet the My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) level 30-50 audiobooks during 2015. For more information about the 2015 Audiobook Challenge, click the image below. Audiobook Challenge Second Quarter Update I am kicking butt on the challenge, and at 28 books through mid-June, I am nearly at the lower end of my goal category. I really want to get to 50 books by the end of the year, and at this rate, it shouldn’t be a problem. My listens for April – June 2015 include: Book 15: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy, Narrated by Cris Dukehart (3/31) Book 16: All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Renee Werbowski (4/3) Book 17: All Her Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (4/7) Book 18: All Her Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (4/9) Book 19: Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (4/14) Book 20: Taken with You by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (4/17) Book 21: Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (4/21) Book 22: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox, Narrated by Coleen Marlo (4/24) Book 23: First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (5/5) Book 24: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (5/10) Book 25: This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (5/20) Book 26: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones, Narrated by Lorelei King (5/26) Book 27: One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (6/2) Book 28: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs, Narrated by Lorelei King (6/14) My favorite story I listened the second quarter of 2015 is Taken with You by Shannon Stacey; however, many of the books I listened to rated an A- or better. I found renewed love for the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost after taking a break because I didn’t care for the fourth book. I love the direction of the spinoff series and later books in the series. I also found a great new series (that I had to finish reading on my Kindle because only the first title is available in audio)...
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Jun
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Shards of Hope Author: Nalini Singh Narrator: Angela Dawson Listening Speed: 1.0x Reviewer: Una Audiobook Source: Tantor Media What I’m Talking About: Nalini Singh is one of my favorite writers, and I am an avid follower of her Psy-Changling series.  This is the first time I’ve listened to one of her new releases via audio book before reading a hard copy.  It was an interesting experience.  Not only did I enjoy the story, but I learned about what type of reader I am. Overall, I liked Shards of Hope, even though it wasn’t quite what I expected.  I feel that the romance of Aiden and Zaira was not balanced within the overall plot of the future of the Arrows.  Their story felt like the background to Aiden trying to secure and create a family or pack for the Arrows.  Though I really enjoyed the plight of the Arrows, the predominance of this plot line gave the book a more urban fantasy feel than paranormal romance.  Aiden and Zaira’s journey had similarities to a few other previous pairings, though there were enough unique characteristics that though it felt familiar, it still was fascinating and touching. This story starts very slowly as compared to some of the other novels in the series.  In fact, I felt that it was moving very slowly until about the fifty-percent mark.  It was then that the story really started moving, the action and romance barreling towards the conclusion.  There were quite a few different groups that needed to come together and there were quite a lot of pieces to get into position before the story could reach its climax and begin the resolutions.  All of this, although it slowed the progress of the book, was very fascinating and intricate.  I found the political ramifications very intriguing.  The ending resolution was surprising and holds such promise for more in the future novels. Nalini Singh is an expert writer.  Until this experience, I never realized the nuances and subtlety of her writing, or rather how many I’d miss by listening to the title before reading it.  I’ve listened to a Psy-Changling novel via audiobook after having read it a thousand times or more via my ereader.  I enjoyed the experience of hearing it, but the plot and the characters were familiar if not memorized.  This time around, I felt as if I were missing...
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Jun
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love a Little Sideways

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love a Little Sideways Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Love a Little Sideways Author: Shannon Stacey Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Kowalski Family #7 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased What I’m Talking About I am binge listening to this series, and although each book is unique, I have to admit, they are all starting to blend into one big Kowalski-story-of-doom, and it’s hard to distinguish each of the individual pieces to write a comprehensive and distinctive review. With that said, Love a Little Sideways marks a change in the Kowalski Family series, moving from a focus on saving the Northern Star Lodge, which reached its peak in the previous book All He Ever Dreamed. This time around, the story centers on the return of sister Liz, who ended a long-term relationship and moved back home after a 15 year absence. Back a couple books ago, Liz was home for her eldest brother, Mitch’s wedding, and had a quick hook-up with Mitch’s best friend, Drew Miller. Drew had also recently ended his relationship, a marriage to his high school sweetheart. Telling themselves that it was only a one-time thing, the pair skirt around their mutual attraction for the sake of Mitch and because they wanted different things in life. But when the pair is forced to spend a lot of time together at the Kowalski Family camping trip, they can no longer deny their feelings. Overall, Love a Little Sideways is a good story, but not nearly my favorite of the Kowalski Family series. As a stand alone, it works, but Drew and Liz’s story really starts way back with Drew’s split in the fourth title of the series. While I liked the pair together, they didn’t seem to have the spark that the previous couples exuded. Possibly because both Drew and Liz have baggage, or because they are convinced it won’t work, but I found myself not as connected to the couple as I would want. And while I loved that the book went back to the campground where the entire series started, I actually missed Whitford and its residents. I also missed the side stories that have always accompanied each book in the series; Love a Little Sideways only had two POVs – Drew and Liz. Having an additional POV and side story would have helped diffuse the monotony of the constant baby discussion, which grew tiresome after a while. It wasn’t until about the 90% mark of the...
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May
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Eighth Grave After Dark Author: Darynda Jones Narrator:  Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased from Audible If you are a reader of my reviews, it’s no surprise to you that I have a love-hate affair with the Charley Davidson series. While Charley is one of my favorite characters in literature, she’s also one of the most frustrating. And after having several issues with the previous two books, reading Eighth Grave After Dark became a “make or break” book for the series. While I still had some issues with the book, it is by and large a step above the subsequent two titles. I did make one big change this time around… I listened to the audiobook rather than read the story. I realized that I needed to step away from the trappings of the written word and my note taking, and rather just sit back and enjoy the story. I think that went a long way towards helping me reconnect with Charley and the gang. Picking up eight months after the conclusion of the previous novel, we find out that Charley and Reyes have moved into an old convent outside of Albuquerque – onto sacred ground – to keep the 12 hellhounds away from attacking Charley, Reyes, and their unborn daughter, Beep. The story opens with a special wedding between Charley’s Uncle Bob and her best friend and partner, Cookie. Unfortunately, evil doesn’t stop for the festivities, and soon Charley and Cookie find themselves working on a missing persons case for Special Agent Carson. And of course, Charley, once again, makes her own way into trouble. As I mentioned, overall Eighth Grave After Dark was much better than the sixth and seventh books. Two of my biggest complaints with those books were 1) inconsistencies and continuity errors and 2) too many subplots and storylines, especially ones that didn’t give value to the overall story. I am very happy that Eighth Grave After Dark did not fall victim to these pitfalls. The primary storyline of the missing girl was entertaining and kept my interest, and I was glad it didn’t have any misdirects, although it did result in a trip Charley won’t soon forget. And per usual, there was a ghost who need Charley’s help, leading to another enjoyable subplot, again, with consequences that were a direct result of the storyline. Additionally, the book does a great job finally answering some long running questions that have been dragging from book...
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