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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
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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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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