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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
May
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Reviews: Night Huntress World

Listen Up! #Audiobook Reviews: Night Huntress World Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Night Huntress World series Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Huntress World #1-#2 (Night Huntress #4.1 & #4.2) Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: library loan After the first four books in her Night Huntress series, Jeaniene Frost takes a break from Cat and Bones and shares the romance storylines of two of her side characters. These books are more paranormal romance and less urban fantasy, telling the complete love story of the primary couple. While the books may be listed as a spinoff series, they are more than loosely tied to the primary series, and if you skip them, you will miss a bit of background for these characters once you start back with book 5 of Night Huntress. For that reason, I am referring to the books as #4.1 and #4.2. First Drop of Crimson (NHW #1 / NH #4.1) After struggling with the previous few Cat & Bones books, I took a break from the entire Night Huntress series. Now I’m back, and the next book, chronologically, is the first spin-off book in the Night Huntress World, First Drop of Crimson. Picking up about a year after the conclusion of the previous book (Destined for an Early Grave), First Drop of Crimson shares the story of Bones’s best mate and fellow vampire, Spade, and his long-lusted after love interest, Denise, who also happens to be Cat’s human best friend. While one may be able to read/listen to the book independently, it really is part of the Night Huntress series, and should be considered book 4.1. The first difference I noticed right away is that the spin-off titles are paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy. The story is shared from third person point-of-views, alternating between Spade and Denise, and the primary story is their romance. Denise is still heart-broken from the gruesome death of her husband at the hands of supernatural beings. Having been terrorized by Cat’s world, Denise decided to alienate herself; however, after she witnesses her cousin’s death at the hands of something not human, Denise calls Spade for help. Soon the pair find themselves in the middle of the very dark underbelly of vampire-kind. I was not overly impressed with Spade and Denise’s story. I felt the pair worked too hard at keeping the other at arm’s length rather than communicating and sharing their lives. It bothered me that Spade couldn’t even explain his over-protectiveness to Denise, leaving the job to...
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May
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: About Last Night Author: Ruthie Knox Narrator: Coleen Marlo Audio Speed: 1x Series: stand alone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: audible  About Last Night is the emotionally rich love story between perennial screw up, American Cath Talarico, and high-bred British banker, Nev Chamberlain. The unlikely pair have an intense and immediate chemistry that they indulge in over and over, but only under a set of strict rules. Cath doesn’t want to fall in love, so she keeps Nev at a distance. Nev isn’t happy under his mother’s rules and expectations for his life, but plays her game. What develops between the pair is magical and perfect, yet messy. Their road to happiness is filled with both beautiful and ugly moments, but it’s the journey of survivors. The story is shared from both Cath and Nev’s POVs. At first I felt that split between the two was unbalanced, and I wanted more from Nev’s POV. However, that apparent discrepancy fell away as I grew into the story – whether there was a better balance later in the book, or not noticeable because the story was so engrossing, I don’t know. While it is obvious right from the start that all of their issues would come to a head eventually, I was pleasantly surprised with how it all came to be. I felt that Nev’s mother did act a bit out of character, but in the end, it didn’t matter because I thoroughly enjoyed the outcome. Their Happily-Ever-After is picture perfect and well-deserved. The narration by Coleen Marlo is pretty good. I found her narrator voice soothing and enjoyed her performance of Cath quite a lot. At times I found that she reminded me of Renee Raudman, most especially her performance of Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews. Ms. Marlo’s British male voices were okay – with Nev’s being the best of the bunch and his brother’s most annoying. Sometimes the narration felt a little slow, but I didn’t like the sound at 1.25x (I listened at 1x speed). Overall an enjoyable audiobook and lovely romance. Story Rating: B+ Narration:...
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May
7

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 5-6

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 5-6 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Kowalski Family series Author: Shannon Stacey Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Kowalski Family #5 & #6 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased All He Ever Desired (Book #5) Just after college, Ryan Kowalski took a risk and asked his best friend’s wife and young child to run away with him, but Lauren Carpenter loved her husband and said no. And when her bad marriage ended in divorce, Lauren always wondered what if… Now that Ryan is back home for a while to help refurbish the family’s Northern Star Lodge, he can no longer avoid Lauren, especially since her son, Nick, is working for Ryan to pay off a debt. Spending more time together leaves the pair considering why they should keep saying no to any kind of relationship. All He Ever Desired is yet another wonderful tale from Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series. Back in small-town Whitford, Maine, the book continues the story of the Northern Star Lodge that began in the previous book. I liked how the work on the Lodge and Josh’s concerns over running it flowed from the previous book right into this story, giving the whole series great cohesiveness without repetition. And seeing basically the same cast of characters really solidified my adoration of Whitford and the Kowalskis. Lauren and Ryan share great chemistry, although I wish they’d have acted on it a little sooner in the book. However, the stories outside of the romance were equally as strong, so it didn’t bother me too badly that it did take some time. I adored the pair, loved their banter, and found Ryan’s dealings with Lauren’s son to be fantastic. In general, I feel like the last couple of books have become a bit more serious. I still laughed and smiled so many times over the course of the story, but there is some hard reality going on, too. As much as I adore Lauren Fortgang’s narration and found her performance in All He Ever Desired to be excellent, I have to admit I missed some of Renee Werbowski’s voices, especially since it was her voice I first associated with many of the characters. In fact, I struggled a bit with Ms. Fortgang’s Rosie after being accustomed to Ms. Werbowski’s version. But in the end, the narration was near perfect, and I am happy with the performance. Definitely another must read from Ms. Stacey. Story: A- Narration: A- All...
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Apr
30

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 3-4

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 3-4 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook reviews: Kowalski Family series Author: Shannon Stacey Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Kowalski Family #3 & #4 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased Yours to Keep (Book #3) Sean Kowalski is finally home from a 12-year stint in the Army, most currently serving overseas in Afghanistan. Not ready to go to the family lodge in Maine, Sean makes a stop over in New Hampshire to visit his aunt, uncle, and cousins. To his surprise, he finds out that Emma Shaw considers Sean her “fake” finance, telling Grandma Shaw in Florida that Sean is living with her and helping take care of her large New England home. Emma and best friend Lisa Kowalski made up her fake relationship to pacify Grandma Shaw’s concerns over leaving Emma alone when she moved to Florida. Now Grandma is coming to visit for a month and Emma wants Sean to move in with her and pretend to be the fiance Grandma believes he is. I cannot express how much I absolutely adored Yours to Keep and continue to enjoy the Kowalski family. I was a bit concerned that moving away from the original family after only two books would be too soon, but Ms. Stacey intergrates new-comer Sean perfectly into the Kowalski fold. Emma and Sean’s story is utterly adorible and simply lovely. While the fake-fiance trope could have been silly, instead, the story was full of humor and heart. At times I was laughing uncontrollably at the antics of trying to keep the various secrets straight and in place. The light-hearted humor and Kolwaski antics make this wonderful romance a perfect story. After getting over the initial shock of suddenly being with one another under false pretenses, Emma and Sean realize that they cannot hold back their mutual attraction. Of course, spending so much time together, coupled with indulging in some extracurricular benefits, the pair begin to fall in love, all the while ignoring and denying the obvious signs they are happy being a couple. The pace of their romance and the overall story is perfect, keeping my earbuds firmly planted in my ears. I fell in love with the couple as they fell in love with one another. The side plot involving Emma’s grandma, Kat, finding potential romance with old friend Russell is sweet and adds dimension to the overall story. The best side plot, however, is Aunt Mary and Kat coming together with their own, well-intentioned scheming. At more than...
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Apr
23

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 1-2

Listen Up! Audiobook Reviews: Kowalski Family Series 1-2 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Kowalski Family 1 & 2 Author: Shannon Stacey Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Kowalski Family #1 & #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased Exclusively Yours (Book #1) I just adore Shannon Stacey’s voice and storytelling. After reading a couple of her stand alone novellas, I was excited to finally start the Kowalski Family series. I started listening to the first book, Exclusively Yours, and pretty much consumed it within 24 hours of starting. It was just that good and well-narrated. Keri Daniels and Joe Kowalski have a history. Once high school sweethearts and lovers, she broke his heart when she left their small New Hampshire town for the bright lights of California. After 18 years of living on the West Coast, she’s come home to see Joe with hopes of getting an exclusive interview with the now famous (and reclusive) author. Forced into the situation by her editor and her job on the line, Keri agrees to Joe’s requirements that she go on the two-week Kowalski Family camping trip in order to get the interview. Once on vacation, the pair’s passion reignites, confusing what should be a simple 2-week professional interview. Ms. Stacey writes feel-good, happy romances, and this book fits that bill perfectly. But don’t mistake feel-good for emotionally shallow because Exclusively Yours is anything but. Full of three-dimension characters who are gritty and real, the tale has both highs and lows, laughs and tears. While the story focuses on Joe and Keri’s personal journeys and eventual love affair, we are also treated to the marital and family drama of his three siblings. I appreciate and enjoy how real and touching each sibling’s story thus far and look forward to seeing where life takes them in the books ahead. Joe and Keri make for a special couple. While the word sweet comes to mind when describing their romance, so does sexy and passionate. Rekindling an 18-year old flame happens quickly and naturally, but there are bumps in the road. I fretted over what would happen and celebrated their successes as I listened. And mostly, I enjoyed the honest emotions and true character growth that infused the tale. The narration by Lauren Fortgang was superb! After listening to her as Gin in the darkly wonderful Elemental Assassin series, I wondered how it would translate to this light-hearted contemporary romance. I was pleased that from the moment I started listening, I...
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Apr
9

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: No Matter What by Erin Nicholas

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: No Matter What by Erin Nicholas Welcome to our weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: No Matter What Author: Erin Nicholas Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Listening Speed: 1.0x Reviewer: Una No Matter What is the short and sweet story of Jaden and Adam.  Though it was somewhat of a whirlwind romance and a slightly clichéd love story, it was an enjoyable listen. First, let me say that overall, I did like Jaden and Adam’s journey.  I really like them as characters.  Though I enjoyed Jaden’s mental struggle between her attraction to Adam and her strive to be professional, I did find it funny that the temptation of Adam usually won.  Every time she got herself under control and walked away…she just couldn’t resist him.  Adam was more interesting.  I found it odd that he had no problem hiring Jaden and immediately succumbing to his attraction to her by flirting.  Since he was so concerned and overbearing about his daughter and her well being, I was surprised he thought he could just have both; Jaden the lover and Jaden the physical therapist for his daughter. I liked how time passed between the interludes of unprofessional flirting, giving them time to get to know each other and think about the situation.  However, it was a bit of a whirlwind romance.  But for those that enjoy a contemporary that indulges a hopeless romantic fantasy, this is entirely up your alley!  As we approached the end, however, I was surprised by the seemly abrupt twist that pulled them apart as well as how they reunited.  I really loved how the story ended.  Absolutely loved it! I liked Rebecca Estrella’s narration overall.  Though her voice differentiation wasn’t as strong between the male characters and female characters, I was able to follow the story for the most part.  There were only a couple of instances where I had difficulty discerning who was speaking.  Since I was listening via iTunes and I couldn’t figure out how to tell my phone it was not “music” but an audiobook, I was unable to alter the listening speed.  I might have enjoyed it more if it had been pushed up to 1.25x, which seems to be my usual listening pace. Though No Matter What was a fairly simple and somewhat straightforward contemporary romance, I liked the story of Jaden and Adam.  The romance had a strong initial attraction and then allowed time to build up the romance.  I was a little put off...
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Apr
2

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Dragon Conspiracy Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1x Series: SPI #2 Source: Audible/purchased We join SPI “still a newbie” agent and local seer Makenna Fraser, along with partner Ian Byrne and a handful of other agents, as they attend a swank art show in Manhattan. The items on display are a cursed set of diamonds called the Dragon Eggs, known to SPI for some pretty powerful magical properties. When a group of harpies makes off with the diamonds, SPI is left trying to discover who was behind the plot and what is his or her ultimate goal. Unfortunately, as Mak and Ian begin to uncover the pieces of the puzzle, they learn that the conspiracy is much larger and more dangerous than anyone imagined. Once again, I find myself enjoying the humor and intelligence of agent Makenna Fraser. Like the first book in the series, The Dragon Conspiracy is shared from Mak’s first person POV, and Johanna Parker’s southern drawl is a perfect fit. Mak’s wit and snark make even the most dire situations enjoyable. I love the humor shared between agents and Mak’s amusing outlook on any situation. I enjoyed the comradarie of the SPI agents as Mak makes more friends among her peers. I especially delighted in the deeping friendship between Mak and SPI leader, Vivienne Sagadraco. And while this book is far from a romance, there are hints of budding relationships that may or may not play a part in future stories. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on board with the potential pairings, but it didn’t ruin the story in any way for me (and I’m still holding out for a certain pair of agents to find some lovin’). The mystery of the Dragon Eggs is engrossing, and the overall plot ended up being far more complex than I would have imagined. I liked that the story kept me guessing and isn’t predictable. The climatic scenes are dramatic and exciting, although the afterwards seemed to go on a bit too long. I enjoyed meeting new characters and learning about new supernatural beings. Once again, my biggest complaint is the amount of repetition found in the story. I really don’t need the several reminders of what will happen when all the Dragon Eggs are activate, and that New York has the highest concentration of supernaturals in the world. Over and over again, facts like these...
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Mar
26

Listen Up! Audiobook Challenge Update 1st Quarter

Listen Up! Audiobook Challenge Update 1st Quarter Welcome to my new 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 First Quarter Update So far I’m right on track to reach my goals. I’ve listened to 14 books during the first three months of 2015, which actually puts me ahead of schedule. My listens for 2015 include: Book 01. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews, Narrated by Renee Raudman (1/3) Book 02. The Death Cure by James Dashner, Narrated by Mark Deakins (1/7) Book 03: If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mlynowski, Narrated by Emily Eiden (1/10) Book 04: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (1/13) Book 05: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (1/16) Book 06: At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (1/26) Book 07: Sink or Swim by Sarah Mlynowski, Narrated by Emily Eiden (1/29) Book 08: Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert (2/2) Book 09: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (2/4) Book 10: Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (2/12) Book 11: Visions in Silver by Anne Bishop, Narrated by Alexandra Harris (3/2) Book 12: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs, Narrated by Holter Graham (3/9) Book 13: The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin, Narrated by Johanna Parker (3/18) Book 14: Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey, Narrated by Lauren Fortgang (3/19) My favorite story so far is Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey. My favorite performances so far are Renee Raudman in Burn for Me and Lauren Fortgang in Yours to Keep. You can find most of my audiobook reviews either by checking out my Listen Up! Posts or on Booklikes and GoodReads. What about you – how are you doing in the Audiobook Challenge? Do you like to listen? What are your favorites of...
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Mar
19

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Destined for an Early Grave

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Destined for an Early Grave Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Back at the beginning of the year, I started to work on my TBR pile by listening to audiobooks for some high-volume series. One such series that has been on my TBR for a long while is the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I posted my thoughts on the first three books in the series back last month, and here is my review of the fourth title in the series… Note: this review contains spoilers from previous books in the series. Audiobook review: Destined for an Early Grave Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x and 1.25x Series: Night Huntress #4 Source: Audible/purchased The fourth book of the Night Huntress series finds lovers Cat and Bones on a much needed vacation. But knowing their luck, it doesn’t last long and soon the pair discover that a not-so-nice vampire is after Cat, claiming to be her husband. I’m not going to sugar-coat this… I absolutely HATED the premise for the story. My eyes were rolling and face grimacing over and over as the plot came to light. The fact that there is a big chunk of Cat’s youth ripped from her memory and we just now find out about it bothered me. Additionally, I am a bit tired of all of these vampires that want to collect Cat. Unfortunately, this situation brings out the worst in Bones and I grew to dislike him over the course of the book. He was cruel, and I don’t feel that he made up for his actions by the end of the book. There was so much bickering and arguing, Cat blaming herself, and Bones saying “This is who I am.” I fell out of like of this couple. I am glad the plot was resolved by the conclusion of Destined for an Early Grave, but I almost didn’t care by the time it was over. I will agree that there are some highly emotional parts that did grip and my heart and pull on my heartstrings. But unfortunately the few shining moments didn’t make up for all of my issues with the book. While I had issues with the opening, the story did pick up for me midway through. I found that regardless of how we got to that point, the story was gripping and compelling. Once I hit a certain point, I found that I couldn’t stop listening until the end. This is what saved the...
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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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