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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Mar
12

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Holter Graham Audio Speed: 1x Series: Alpha and Omega #4 Source: borrowed Having recently devoured the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs, I found myself anxiously awaiting the release of Dead Heat over the past couple of months. Werewolf mates Anna and Charles Cornick have become one of my favorite book couples because of their well-balanced and loving relationship. The urban fantasy series, set in a world filled with dangerous Fae and newly outed werewolves, splits time between an action-filled paranormal/UF plot and the emotionally satisfying love story of Charles and Anna. For the second book in a row, the story takes place outside the normal pack setting. Anna and Charles find themselves in Scottsdale, AZ visiting Joseph, Charles’ longtime friend who is near death, and to purchase a horse from Joseph’s family for Anna’s birthday. Unfortunately Charles and Anna’s getaway is cut short when Joseph’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren are the target of a Fae attack. Soon the pair are reunited with FBI Special Agent Fisher (Fair Game) and the hunt begins for a deadly Fae with a taste for young children. Like its predecessors, Dead Heat is a marvelous mix of action-filled conflict and thoughtful character interactions. The storyline following the malevolent Fae and its horrific actions is suspenseful and well-written, leaving readers guessing who is behind the attacks and what are the motivating factors. Ms. Briggs excels at laying out clues and feeding bits to readers a little at a time, which kept me glued to the pages and in a hurry to find out what was happening. While the storyline behind Dead Heat is all of the above, I was a little disappointed that more was not discussed regarding the significant events occurring at the close of the previous book. I want to know what motivates the Fae and what is going on with their self-imposed exile. Maybe this storyline will play out more in its sister series, the Mercy Thompson series. One thing that I did appreciate is that there seemed to be a great percentage of the book spent on the personal interactions of Charles and Anna. Readers learn more about the mysterious Charles, including some of what motivates him and makes him the stoic man he is in present day. Through the process of horse shopping, we see a new side to both Anna and Charles, and I enjoyed following along...
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Mar
5

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1x Series: The Others #3 Source: Penguin Audio Vision in Silver is the third book in and continuation of the Others series by Anne Bishop. The books outline with great detail an alternate world populated by the terra indigene, or Others, top predators with the ability to shape shift into forms such as wolves, crows, bears, and even vampires. After befriending Meg Corbyn, a special human known as a cassandra sangue, the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard are learning to adjust to having a “human pack” within their own, and even learning to trust and care about these humans. The books are all interrelated and build upon one other, making it important to start with the first book in the series, Written in Red. Due to the nature of the series, this review will have spoilers from the previous books. As with the previous books, Vision in Silver showcases several plotlines, all occurring simultaneously, most of which are tied together before the end of the book. Of key interest this time around are stories focusing on Lakeside Police Officer Montgomery and his concerns over his daughter Lizzie, the outfall from the attack on and subsequent closing of the institutions that house the cassandra sangue, the relationship between the Lakeside humans and Others, and the growing power of the HFL (Humans First and Last) movement. And while not covering as much of the page time as it did in the second book, we witness Simon Wolfgard and Meg continue to explore and stretch the boundaries of their unique friendship. While one strength of the series is the intricate world-building and well-developed characters, at times this is also part of its weakness. I enjoy how the author takes the time to share some of the everyday details and going-ons of the courtyard and its denizens; however at times, I felt like the book took too much time meandering though insignificant minutia when I wanted more meat and to move forward with the overall storyline. I did enjoy the deepening look at the cassandra sangue, especially finding another girl who is learning how to live outside the specialized compounds. I also liked that while Meg has made a successful transition without much difficulty, she isn’t perfect and will make mistakes. Luckily she learns from them, which gives the reader more insight into Meg’s character, as well as those around...
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Feb
26

Listen Up! Alpha & Omega Series, part 2

Listen Up! Alpha & Omega Series, part 2 Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Alpha & Omega Series Books 2-3 A couple weeks ago, I posted my audiobook reviews of the first two Alpha & Omega books (prequel novella and book #1). With the upcoming release of the fourth book, Dead Heat, I’m sharing my reviews for the rest of the series. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I do! Note: This series can be read independently from the Mercy Thompson series, but the two series are somewhat intertwined. For more information on chronological reading order, please visit Hurog forum website. Due to the building nature of the series, each review may contain spoilers from previous books. Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Holter Graham Audio Speed: 1x Series: Alpha & Omega 2, 3 Hunting Ground, Book 2 As Hunting Ground opens, we find Anna and Charles married and mated, working on discovering the necessary give and take required for both to feel comfortable and whole. The pair is sent to Seattle as Bran’s representatives to oversee a dialogue with the European werewolf packs over the issue of coming out to the humans. While Bran is planning on doing this no matter what (see Mercy Thompson series), he wants to make the Europeans at ease with his decision. Unfortunately, Charles and Anna are both put to the test from foes coming at them in all directions, and the pair must work even harder at their relationship to ensure their very survival. I now understand, when I told people that I was going to start reading Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, why so many told me 1) how much they loved Charles and Anna and 2) how they like it more than the Mercy Thompson series. While I would love to discuss the merits of these statements, especially the second one, that would not be helpful as a review for this wonderful book. (Find me… let’s discuss!) Anna and Charles MAKE this series absolutely wonderful. Like Kate and Curran of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, each compliments the other so beautifully that you know as a team, they will be able to concur all obstacles in their path. I admire that their mutual, growing love is the strongest bond portrayed by the author. I also adore that neither really has a clue, and with open, honest dialogue, they are learning together what works. The internal struggles each experience creates rich, three-dimentional characters that I care about...
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Feb
19

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Will by Kristen Ashley

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Will by Kristen Ashley Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Will by Kristen Ashley Today Una shares with us her audiobook review of The Will by Kristen Ashley. This is Una’s first audiobook review for the blog. Please leave her a comment and let her know what you think! Author: Kristen Ashley Narrator: Hollis McCarthy Audio Speed: Series: Magdalene #1 Source: Audible Studios I admit it. I’m not a big contemporary romance fan. I have read a few in the past that I didn’t like and decided the whole genre wasn’t my thing. After listening to The Will, I have decided that I do like contemporary romances; I’m just picky. And, this novel may make me a fan. My biggest complaint about contemporary romance is the couple falls into bed too quickly. Maybe it is because I’m not a fast mover and shaker. I’m shy when it comes to intimacy and can’t see myself plunging into a one-night stand situation or allowing myself to be vulnerable with someone I’ve barely met. I want the slowly burning romance, the flirting, the butterflies in the stomach, and the anxious anticipation. I want the real stuff and I want to see them get to know each other and build some trust and foundation first. Don’t skip to the end, and give me the warmup! The Will has that and more. The majority of the story is from Josie’s point of view. I have to give some major credit to Ms. Ashley. I didn’t like Josie at first. In fact I really disliked her. I found her superficial, self-absorbed and haughty. I have nothing in common with a fashionista. But through the course of the novel, I was able to get to know Josie. As she delves into her own issues, we learn that Josie is a fiercely loyal and loving person who had been severely scarred. Though she appears perfect, she is actually broken and a bit awkward. As her walls and barriers fall, her disguise was dismantled, and the beautiful soul within her was revealed. What was wonderful was the realization that the people in Josie’s life knew that but allowed her the space and the security she craved. They took what she allowed them to have and cherished that. There are few precious chapters that are from Jake’s point-of-view. I treasured these. Jake is a seriously fabulous and perfect guy. It isn’t until the end that you find out how...
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Feb
12

Listen Up! Alpha & Omega Series, part 1

Listen Up! Alpha & Omega Series, part 1 Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Alpha & Omega Series Books 0.5-1 After picking up and blazing through the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs on audiobook, someone encouraged me to listen to the spinoff series, Alpha & Omega. I was more than a little frustrated with the Mercy series (possibly another Listen Up! post), and I was told by a number of people that they, in fact, enjoy Alpha & Omega more than Mercy. After finishing the first two stories, I can whole heartedly agree! Overall, the Alpha & Omega series has a balanced feel, sharing equal time between romance and action, as well as male and female characters. Whereas Mercy is told from the first person point-of-view of the heroine, the Alpha & Omega stories have multiple points-of-view, adding to that sense of balance. Today I’m sharing my reviews of the prequel novella and first book, and be sure to come back next week for my reviews of books 2 and 3. Note: This series can be read independently from the Mercy Thompson series, but the two series are somewhat intertwined. For more information on chronological reading order, please visit Hurog forum website. Due to the building nature of the series, each review may contain spoilers from previous books. Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Holter Graham Audio Speed: 1x Series: Alpha & Omega 0.5, 1 Alpha & Omega, Book 0.5 The series opens with this novella, sharing the story of how Charles and Anna meet. For those unfamiliar with the Mercy Thompson world, Charles is her adoptive brother of sorts – the son of Bran, head of all werewolves, the man that helped raise Mercy. This story takes place during the same time as the first Mercy book, Moon Called.Anna is an emotionally and physically abused female werewolf, who didn’t ask to be turned (a big no-no in this world). She knows little about her own kind except darkness and cruelty. When she realizes something isn’t quite right with her pack, she contacts Bran and shares her concerns. Charles is Bran’s second and executioner. He arrives in Chicago to discover what is wrong with the local pack, but finds himself inexplicably drawn to the timid female wolf, Anna. Anna and Charles are special right from the start. There is a huge gap in their experiences, ages, and knowledge, yet the pair click immediately – even through Anna’s fear. What I love is that instead of this being explained away...
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Feb
5

Listen Up! The Night Huntress series

Listen Up! The Night Huntress series Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: The Night Huntress Series Books 1-3 One thing I love about audiobooks, is the opportunity to finally “read” some of those books that have been on my TRB list for a while now. One such series is The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Cat and Bones, I’m glad to finally begin their journey. Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Huntress 1, 2, 3 Halfway to the Grave, Book 1 Halfway to the Grave introduces readers to Cat Crawfield, a half-vampire, half-human anomaly. She was raised to believe that all vampires are evil, and once she turned sixteen, began to hunt and kill these secret creatures. Cat never had a problem in the past six years until one night when she comes across a dangerous, handsome vampire who kidnaps her. Once Bones discovers what Cat is, he forms an alliance to train her in exchange for her help in stopping the vampires of his choosing. Overall I really enjoyed my introduction to Cat and Bones. The pair have an immediate and intense chemistry that makes it easy to enjoy their romance. While I felt Bone’s proclamation of love was a bit early, by the end of the book, I was firmly sold on their mutual affections. I enjoyed seeing Cat’s transformation from a young fighter filled with blind hate to a solid woman who can make the difficult decisions. Cat’s mom is an easy-to-dislike pain, and I wonder how her prejudices and fears will play out in the series. The story itself sort of jumps all over the place and was a little slow at the start. However, once things got moving, I found I couldn’t turn off the audiobook. There is just something about the mix of action, mythology, and romance that drew me in completely and hunger for more. The ending does leave readers a bit off balance, but lucky for me, I was able to jump into the second title immediately! The series is narrated by Tavia Gilbert. I had heard from a number of folks before I started the series that they had trouble with her performance, most especially with Bones. However, not having ever read the series prior to listening to Halfway to the Grave, I had relatively few issues with it. I can see why her cockney-accented Bones may annoy some – it’s not...
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Jan
29

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Murder of Crows

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Murder of Crows Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Getting used to a narrator Last week I shared by audiobook review of Written in Red, and I gave narrator Alexandra Harris a C+ for her performance. This week, I bring to you my review of the second book in The Others series, Murder of Crows, also narrated by Ms. Harris. This time around, I found I enjoyed her delivery more, and it even felt “natural” and “the right fit” during many moments. I’ve found in general that even if I don’t love the performance of a narrator the first time, their interpretation of the characters tends to grow on me throughout the book, and even more with subsequent titles in a series. Why is this? Does the performance truly get better with each book? Sometimes, yes. I noticed that with Holter Graham’s interpretation of Native American Charles from the Alpha and Omega series. Graham slightly altered his performance between titles and created a better voice for the primary character. Other times, I think my improved rating of a narrator is because, for better or for worse, after listening to a couple of books, that narrator’s voice becomes the character for me. I think that’s true with The Others series. While I didn’t love the narration the first time around, I found that Harris’s voice for Meg became so familiar to me that it was soothing in many ways, and I can’t imagine anyone else in the roll. There are times when narrators do become more annoying upon subsequent listens. For example, I am currently listening to the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost and narrated by Tavia Gilbert. Overall, I enjoy her work, but Gilbert’s voice for Cat’s mom grinds on me, and only gets worse with each listen. However, her character is also annoying, so maybe that is the point! Whatever the reason, generally once I hear a narrator read a book in a series, I tend to enjoy his/her performance more with each subsequent title. Audiobook review: Murder of Crows Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #2 Murder of Crows is the second tale from the wickedly interesting world created by Ms. Bishop. Directly following the conclusion of the first book, Written in Red, the story focuses on the Lakeside Courtyard, its human and Other residents, and how life is changing because of the Blood Prophet, Meg Corbyn. I strongly suggest reading the first book in the series prior to this...
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Jan
22

Listen Up! Listening Speed + Review of Written in Red

Listen Up! Listening Speed + Review of Written in Red Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Listening Speed When I first began my journey into and eventual love affair with audiobooks, I was a little put off by how slow that first book was for me. It felt like I was being read to, rather than feeling immersed in the story. Let’s face it, we all read faster than we speak. Additional, most people tend to skim, even subconsciously, some text, which is something you really can’t do when listening to an audiobook. It was then that I discovered that the Audible app, as well as Overdrive and other audio playback apps, allowed me to quicken the playback speed of the narration. For example, Audible has seven listening speeds: 0.75x, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 2x, 2.5x, and 3x. For most books, I like the 1.25x speed. It quickens voices just enough to feel more like a conversation, rather than being read to, but not so fast that it approaches chipmunk speed. Feeling more like a conversation is critical for my enjoyment of the book, as well as allowing me to feel like I’m part of the story. There are some narrators that I prefer to keep at 1x speed because of accents used, or their speaking speed is naturally faster. And I definitely keep the speed at 1x or less when listening to books with my young daughter because she needs extra time to process what’s being said. The bottomline is that generally, you have many options for creating a better listening experience. I suggest playing around with the speed to see if you find something that makes you more happy! Audiobook review: Written in Red Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #1 Written in Red is a wonderful blend of unique mythology and extensive world-building, crossing the line between the urban fantasy and fantasy genres. Taking place on an alternate version of Earth, the book shares the story of two race of beings: the humans and the Others. The Others are shape-shifting beings who learned to “take the shape of humans” so that they could communicate and trade with the humans. But make no mistake, the Others rule the earth and consider humans prey. Meg Corbyn is a special human: she can see glimpses of the future when her skin is cut. Considered the property of her controller, Meg has been held captive her entire life and never been allowed to experience life outside...
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Jan
15

Listen Up! The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Grendel Affair Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1x Series: SPI Files #1 Makenna Fraser is a newbie at SPI New York and the only seer in the U.S. Although she is human, she has the ability to see through all veils and illusions, allowing her to know a being’s true, hidden nature. With an unknown group of vicious monsters straight out of literature ready to slaughter the Time Square party-goers at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Mak and the entire SPI team are on a race against time to save Manhattan, and the entire world, from the start of a deadly war between humans and paranormals. The Grendel Affair is an entertaining, humorous story, and the start to a promising new urban fantasy series. I discovered the SPI series while reading a prequel novella in the Night Shift Anthology. I liken the premise to the Men In Black movies, except with supernatural beings instead of aliens. Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) operates with the purpose of protecting both supers and humans from the preternatural beings who mean to do harm. In addition, they help keep supernatural beings hidden from the general human public. Now they face a deadly adversary who wants to expose the presence of all supernaturals and feels that humans should be put back in their place as cattle fodder for the more powerful beings. I enjoyed the premise of the story, which held my attention with its high-octane plot. The author does a fabulous job of developing the world while keeping the story moving forward. Ms. Shearin weaves complexity and multiple layers into the storyline without creating confusion. The story is told via first person POV of Mak, who injects sarcasm and humor into every scene. I like that she’s realistic and knows her limitations as a “mere human.” Yet, she has an underlying strength of character that caused this reader to cheer for her when she goes head-first into the most dangerous of situations. She’s not perfect, and watching her make mistakes allows the reader a chance to relate to and develop a connection with Mak. My biggest complaint about the story is the amount of repetition throughout the tale. I am going to chalk it up to freshman story syndrome, hoping that now that the author has firmly established this new world, she won’t...
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Jan
8

Listen Up! The Re-Read + Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! The Re-Read + Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews Welcome to the first post of my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… THE RE-READ: For many, to include myself, audiobooks are a learned pleasure. Figuring out how to listen attentively and appreciate the nuances of the narration can take a newbie some time. Listening to a book you’ve read previously is a great way to break into audiobooks. This is especially true if you loved the book, and it is narrated by a top-tier performer. I started my love affair with audiobooks in this manner. I completed a “re-read” of the Kate Daniel series by Ilona Andrews and narrated by Renee Raudman. It took about two books for me to get into a groove, but once I hit my stride, I couldn’t get enough of the books in the audio format. It was nice because if I missed a scene or two, I generally knew what was happening. This allowed me to figure out how to better listen and determine which are key moments not to miss. Eventually, I was able to take these learned experiences into new-to-me books with great success. Want to try and audiobook? See if your online library has one of your favorites and give it a go. Now, here is my audiobook review of a book I read and reviewed in 2014. Burn for Me – Audiobook review Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renee Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x My first audiobook review of 2015 is a re-read. I first read Burn for Me back in October 2014 as a digital ARC for a review. Since my review still holds many truths, I am not going to repeat it all. Here are a few key points I wish to reiterate about the story. Burn for Me kicks off a brand new series. I classify The Hidden Legacy series firmly in the urban fantasy genre, with a slow building romance that I expect will take three or so books to come to fruition. The modern-day world has an alternate history, one that saw the development of magical powers in humans. Not everyone has these powers, such as telekinetics and pyrokinetic, and modern society equates the strength of one’s abilities with power and social rank. It is unique, yet familiar enough that it comes together easily. Several characters are introduced almost immediately, and the reader needs to pay attention because they all come back before the end of the book. Burn for Me focuses on and is told from the...
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