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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Apr
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The November Girl Author: Lydia Kang Narrators: Chris Chambers and Piper Goodeve Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy/Romance) Source: Tantor Audio The November Girl is a hauntingly powerful coming-of-age story for two seemingly different but truly similar teens.  I was completely enthralled by this bittersweet yet vividly rich story. Hector is a runaway.  Being half African-American and Korean, he never has fit in.  He didn’t with his mother in Korea so she sent him to his father when he was six.  However his father being active in the military couldn’t be bothered so Hector has been living with his uncle.  Though living with his uncle isn’t safe and he wants to live without fear.  So he has worked it out.  If he goes to Isle Royale during winter, the island is closed and he will be able to hide out until his eighteenth birthday.  However, what Hector doesn’t know is that he won’t be alone.  No matter how much he planned for roughing it from October to May, he could never have planned for Anda. Anda is not like other teens.  Living with her father on Isle Royale, Anda is invisible to everyone.  She is half human and half… other.  Every winter Jacob must leave his daughter so she can fulfill her purpose on the island.  She keeps the balance but eventually she will succumb as her sisters did and wholly embrace her mother’s will.  Or it seemed she would until she meets Hector and everything changes.  This is a compelling story of two broken souls that find courage, strength, and the will to change.  Though Anda and Hector seem so different, they are so similar.  Both struggle within the lives they live, they are both straddling worlds while belonging to none.  Though the course of them trying to survive, we learn about not only Anda and Hector, but also about the legend of the November Witch.  As their backgrounds come to light it is heartbreaking the realizations of their lives.   But through this trial, both Anda and Hector come out stronger.  Though riddled with pathos, the ending is hopeful and I loved the terse ending.   Mr. Chambers and Ms. Goodeve’s narration were excellent.  Since the novel changes periodically from Hector’s to Anda’s point-of-view, the changing narrator helped to convey the switch as well as give a different perspective. ...
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Apr
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Softhearted by Kim Law

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Softhearted by Kim Law Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Softhearted Author: Kim Law Narrator:  Natalie Ross Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Deep in the Heart #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Brilliance Audio Heather has a history of falling hard for the wrong man, so she’s been warned to stay clear of the new ranch manager, Waylon, who is “just her type,” a sexy ginger with a shady past. Yet, Heather can’t steer clear and soon the two engage in a flirtatious friendship. Waylon has no interest in correcting the town’s opinions of him being a player who gets around and gambles his earnings away. Keeping his life private, he’s more than ready to find someone special and settle down. He thinks Heather is the one, but can he convince her? Softhearted is a gentle, slow-burn romance that straddles the line between woman’s fiction and romance. While it is the second book in the Deep in the Heart series, I had little trouble picking the book up. I only experienced a bit of confusion at the beginning, trying to figure out what may have happened in the first book and what was just general background information. The book spends equal time between the romance of Heather and Waylon, and establishing their respective lives and individual character development and growth.  What starts out a bit slow, ends up capturing my interest and heart. While Heather and Waylon’s love takes time to develop, it’s sweet and their story interesting. Although at times there is a little bit too much emotional insight that dragged scenes out, I still couldn’t help the sniffles and tears at other points. I really enjoyed watching Heather and Waylon work through and overcome demons from their pasts, learning to love and trust themselves before falling in love with one another. The narration is perfect for the story. Ms. Ross has a large range of voices. I haven’t heard another narrator perform a child so well – and I appreciate that the author wrote an age-appropriate child character. Ms. Ross hits deep masculine tones for the men and soft voices for the the females. I like how the narrator’s voice stays the same regardless of which point-of-view is presented. While some voices may be similar, each was unique and identifiable. The southern charm was quaint and sincere. She strongly portrays male and female characters from 5 to 55.  Although the story started slowly, I ended up enjoying Softhearted as...
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Apr
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice the Witch by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice the Witch by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Twice the Witch Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #2 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Picking up about a month after the conclusion of the first book, Twice the Witch finds our heroine Holly settled into her life in Beechwood Harbor. She spends most of her time working at the local coffee shop, Siren’s Song, having to cut short time spent with new boyfriend, housemate and werewolf, Adam. Holly contemplates her current situation, knowing she doesn’t want to spend her life working at the coffee shop, hoping to grow her mostly illegal potion selling business. She’s weary of confiding in Adam because of her mysterious past. Holly is also dealing with being one of two witches at the manor. She’s a bit jealous of newcomer Evangeline, but more annoyed with her. Evangeline has her eye on Adam, and seems to be up to something nefarious.  The story picks up speed quickly with the introduction of a newly deceased ghost and her connection to a case Nick, the town’s new PI, is working on. Once again, Holly finds herself wrapped up in a murder investigation, determined to help Nick solve the mystery, using her magically enhanced detective skills without his knowledge. The murder mystery is clever and exciting. I found myself engrossed in the guessing game of whodunit, even when I was worried Holly was sabotaging her relationship with Adam because of how much time she spends with Nick. In addition to the murder mystery, Twice the Witch explores more about Holly’s past and the Haven system. Through her interactions with Evangeline and Adam, Holly gives readers clues about what got her evicted from the magical Haven system where most supernaturals live their lives. I appreciate the balance of answers and new questions the author puts into the book. I also really like the direction the overarching story takes by the end of the book, solidify some tenuous relationships and creating a solid cast of characters for the upcoming titles.  As I mentioned in my review of the first book, Murder’s a Witch, I picked up the series because of narrator, Amanda Ronconi, who continues to do a marvelous job with the varied cast of characters. Ms. Ronconi narrates the story in the voice of primary character, Holly, infusing her quirky personality with pep and joy. She nails Holly’s nutty persona, bringing...
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Apr
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Card by Tanya Eby + Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Card by Tanya Eby + Sarina Bowen Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Man Card Authors:  Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby Narrators:  Luke Daniels and Erin Mallon Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: Man Hands #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Ash and Braht, frenemy coworkers competing for sales, have been partnered to sell their friend, Tom’s huge home. This sets off a series of pranks and sabotages to give one the upper hand over the other. Yet what it really does is put the pair in a position to spend more time together, something Braht wants and Ash avoids. Man Card is the delightfully entertaining follow up to Man Hands. The story features the romance of Ash and Braht, the two best friends of book one’s couple, Brynn and Tom. We witnessed their sparks and clashing chemistry in Man Hands, and it only gets more explosive in Man Card. Ash and Braht are perfect for one another. After first getting to see the prickly pair in Man Hands, I wondered how the authors would pull off the enemies-to-lovers story. It works because Braht has had a thing for Ash from the moment the pair met, even though Ash doesn’t have a clue. I love how adoring and attentive Braht is. He’s smart and recognizes the need to play his cards right to make Ash his. He plies pressure when it’s called for, is just a friend when she needs it, and teases her to bring about her sass. He gets that she’s been hurt and knows time is what is needed to win her over. He knows Ash and worships her. His constant presence ends up being just what Ash needs. “On most people you should check their pulse, but with Ash, I check for sass. If she can’t tell me to f-off, then it’s time to call the paramedics.” Ash is a work in progress. She’s mostly got her act together, but with the news of her ex’s parole, she flips a little. She’s confident to the core, but starts second guessing herself at times. Braht gives her the boost she needs to keep her head up, even if she doesn’t recognize it at first. While Braht knows his path, Ash has to find her way. She has to learn to trust her judgement again, and in doing so, we see her grow and develop.  While the book is foremost a romance, I also love...
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Apr
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Seize a Wayward Spirit by R.L. Naquin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Seize a Wayward Spirit by R.L. Naquin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Djinn Haven series To Catch a Stolen Soul  Author: R.L. Naquin Narrator: Chandra Skyye Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Djinn Haven #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Though a touch less silly, To Seize a Wayward Spirit was another humors urban fantasy novel in the world of Djinn Haven.  I enjoyed the continuing adventures of Kam, her trusty sidekick/intern Ash and Kam’s complicated new trainee, Tahm.   At the conclusion of the previous novel, To Catch a Stolen Soul, Kam is reunited with her family-arranged betrothed, Tahm.  Now trained as not only soul chasers but soul reapers as well, Kam is directed to find all seventeen souls she inadvertently released in the previous novel.  Only her new partner/trainee is Tahm and poor Ash is relegated to intern.  It is obvious that they could have used a bit more training in how to work as a team.  Though they stumble at the beginning, they slowly are learning to listen and trust each other and work as a coordinated team. As they are going to try to capture one escaped soul, they come across another in the same town. As they accidentally lose that one as well, they try to track down what is going on.  It is funny how Kam and the team discover an AWOL hidden police squad, a serial killer and a fun cosplay convention produced by hidden.  Not to mention a slowly evolving but shy eyeball that seems to follow Kam around.  Like I said, it was a bit less silly, not that the humor was gone!  Though I did like the more somber-at-times Kam – leader of the pack as it contrast with the lovable wacky Kam.  It was a big adjustment for her to go from a fly-by-night soul chaser, working contract to contract with only herself to worry about to a full-time employed Team Leader of a Chaser/Reaper squad.  The noticeable difference shows how much she cares about her job and those under her protection.  I liked how even though she does take this responsibility seriously, she still hasn’t lost what makes her Kam. I liked how Tahm wanted to get to know Kam as it has been over 100 years since they last saw each other.  However, Kam is stuck in feeling that her love for Tahm is unrequited since she is the little sister of Tahm’s best friend.  It also...
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Apr
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Uninvited Corpse by Debra Sennefelder

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Uninvited Corpse by Debra Sennefelder Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Uninvited Corpse Author: Debra Sennefelder Narrator: Callie Beaulieu Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Food Blogger Mysteries #1 Genre: Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I enjoyed this first book in the Food Blogger Mystery series.  Hope was a fascinating character and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This cozy mystery reminds me of several different shows.  It’s like Ms. Sennefelder took a piece of Hope Floats, Murder She Wrote, Julie and Julia, and mixed it with a fresh, beautiful New England town and modernized it.  But though it pays homage to these other stories, it is truly its own series.   I really loved Hope.  We start with her months into rebuilding her life and herself.   Hope is complicated but thoughtful.  She has returned home to start a new life as a lifestyle entrepreneur.  Working on an old house, volunteering in the community and reconnection with her sister and her friends, Hope is starting to settle in, when a garden tour goes deathly wrong. This cozy murder mystery is very well crafted.  I felt like I was going in circles without being able to really concentrate on a culprit.  The murderer was clever and though I could tell who wasn’t guilty, the reveal took me by surprise.  As an amateur sleuth, Hope’s clumsy attempts at non-obvious investigative tactics were a bit comical and sad.  Her inner conflict over possibly hurting friends and proving her sister’s innocence was palpable.  I also enjoyed the side plot of Hope’s love life.  It seems she harbors feelings for her long-time friend, the chief of police.  The way they dance around their obviously intensifying affections for each other is adorable.  Though Hope is a little dense (and a lot afraid) of risking not just her heart but a treasured friendship.  When the novel concludes it seems there might be a love triangle brewing (but I am keeping my fingers crossed it won’t be).   I absolutely adored Ms. Beaulieu’s narration.  She captured the personality of Hope perfectly; her inner turmoil over getting involved in the investigation, worrying over those she had inadvertently wronged, and her love life – not to mention her still healing heart from her failures.  Hope’s tenacity and vulnerability is compelling and beautifully conveyed by the narration.   The Uninvited Corpse is a great start to this Food Blogger Mystery series.  I enjoyed Hope’s amateur...
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Apr
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Scourged by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Scourged by Kevin Hearne Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Scourged Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #9 (Final book in series) Source: Penguin Random House Audio I have so many feelings. I’s overwhelming. Saying goodbye to a favorite series is like saying goodbye to a beloved friend when they move across the globe; you hope you’ll see them again, but you are pretty certain you won’t – and if you do, it won’t be the same. Yes, Hearne is writing more Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries (THANK GOD!!), but those are standalone, amazingly entertaining stories, and not the Iron Druid Chronicles.  Scourged is the story it needed to be, and it was everything a series-ending book should be… we visit all of the characters, both big and small, and readers are subtly brought up to speed on where everyone is and what they are doing. Storylines from as early as the first book are mentioned, and readers are left knowing the end results. The story has such a sense of full circle and closure throughout the entire book. However, that doesn’t mean I loved everything about Scourged. It’s the tale that had to be told, and the one I didn’t necessarily want to hear. Ragnarök has arrived early all because of the decisions made and actions taken by Atticus, starting way back at the beginning of the series. Luckily, he now has two other Druids (his apprentice/lover Granuaile, and his arc-Druid/teacher Owen) to help defend the earth. And yes, there are entire pantheons of gods and goddess along with a slew of other supernatural beings who are also fighting Loki and Hel. But in the end, it’s all on Atticus to stop Loki and save Gaya.  Along the way to the final battle, the book follows all three Druids as each embarks on separate journeys. Owen is tasked to save Gaya where she needs the most help – where other creatures are taking advantage of the choas of Ragnarök. He is reawakened to the beauty of Gaya, and his mission to raise a grove of new Druids is reaffirmed. He befriends a sloth in the Amazon and takes her for adventures. I loved watching Owen reconnect to the Earth in ways he hasn’t in centuries. I also adored Slo-mo the sloth, although I was a bit bothered by how easily he could communicate with her, especially after learning from Atticus how difficult it is to...
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Apr
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Death in the English Countryside Author: Sara Rosett Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Murder on Location #1 Genre: Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Death in the English Countryside is a delightful cozy murder mystery.  Though the culprit was a bit obvious, the motive was slyly hidden amongst plenty of red herring leads.  This new series, Murder on Location seems to revolve around Kate, a location scout.  I was able to relate easily to her professional type ‘A’ personality.  She is intelligent but also compassionate, as well as an avid Jane Austin fan.  When her boss doesn’t return from a location scouting trip in England for a massive Jane Austin movie project, she becomes concerned.  In order to be discreet, Kate heads over to England to quietly find and bring Kevin back quickly so they don’t lose this huge potential project.  Only instead of finding him passed out somewhere, she finds him dead in the country.  With the assistance of Alex, the local location scout working with Kevin, Kate retraces Kevin’s steps in order to find out what happened to him.  The murder was fairly obvious, though with the planting of several red herrings, it was difficult for me to be certain who the culprit was.  What I found the most fascinating was the eventual discovery of the motive behind the murder.  It was very straight-forward, once all the pieces of the puzzle were assembled.  The instant attraction between Kate and Alex was a delightful elephant in the room during the story.  I really enjoyed the slow-burn romance that was beginning in this novel.  Though at times Kate thought Alex could have been the guilty party – it was fun to watch her discover his innocence (and his observation of his alleged guilt).   This was a short and sweet mystery and very relaxing to listen to while bumming around the house.  Ms. Mollo-Christensen’s narration felt very subdued, but after a couple chapters, it truly suited Kate’s personality.  Though her voices did not vary as well between characters, I did enjoy her performance without too many confusing moments.   I liked this new novel and enjoyed the premise of this new cozy mystery series.  Hopefully I can listen to the next installment with the same narrator and find myself lost in another beautiful location.  If you enjoy a picturesque setting within a cozy murder mystery, you...
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Apr
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Shadow of Doubt Author: Linda Poitevin Narrator: Desiree Fultz Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Romantic Suspense Source: Author Shadow of Doubt is a captivating romantic suspense novel.  Ms. Poitevin gives a nail-biting race for two closed-off officers to find freedom in not only a conspiracy but from their own walled-in hearts. I really enjoyed this slow-burn romantic suspense story.  Kate, a Canadian police officer is one tough cookie though not without compassion.  Her cop senses urge her that maybe this wanted U.S. ATF agent is not guilty of the crimes laid on his name.  Still recovering from an injury received on duty, Kate is able to keep up with and protect Jonas, though he does not make it easy for her. If Kate is tough, Jonas is granite.  Raised in one foster home after another, he has learned to never depend on anyone.  Trust is not something he gives, and rarely allows if earned, and it shows in the way he was so perfectly framed for a crime(s) he did not commit.  The chemistry he feels with Kate is not something he has experienced before and is definitely not something he wants.  But no matter how diligently he fights and pushes, Kate continues to burrow under his skin – getting close to digging into his hardened heart.   The way that Kate and Jonas slowly (and quite reluctantly on Jonas’s part) come together was a perfect slow-burn romance.  I enjoyed Kate’s tenacity and her honesty (with herself).  As they finally get close to getting the evidence they need, we learn (along with Jonas) that his walls and judgement mean nothing when you’re wrong.  His self-actualization was heartbreaking but also freeing.  The epilogue was the perfect sweet ending, full of the hope and happiness they both deserved. Ms. Fultz narration perfectly captured Kate’s personality.  I also feel she did an excellent job in giving voice to Jonas as well as differentiating the other characters.  Her performance truly enhanced my enjoyment of this story. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed this story of two officers on different sides of the “line” breaking their own rules and walls to find a happily ever after.  If you enjoy a thrilling suspense story woven with a slow-burn romance, this is a title you should definitely pick up. My Ratings: Story: A Narrator: A Overall: A Review copy provided by...
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Apr
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Hot and Badgered Author: Shelly Laurenston Narrator: Traci Odom Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: Honey Badgers Chronicles #1 Source: Tantor Audio Hot and Badgered, the first book in Ms. Laurenston’s new Honey Badgers Chronicles is a crazy ride full of over-the-top shifters with a thirst for blood… and honey. While it is a new series, I learned from others after I started listening, that it is set in the same world as and features characters from her Pride series. Perhaps I would have enjoyed Hot and Badgered more had I read the earlier series, because one of my issues was the sheer volume of characters and side stories. It was confusing and difficult to follow at times. The story is shared from multiple POVs and can make your head spin a bit. Hot and Badgered is billed as the romance between Honey Badger/Wolf shifter, Charlie MacKilligan, and Bear shifter Berg Dunn; however, there is very little romance in the book. The story follows Charlie and her half sisters, Max (full Honey Badger) and Frankie (Honey Badger/Tiger), as the run for the lives from an array of dangerous threats. Their father is a major lowlife, who is constantly putting his own kids’ lives in danger, and the Irish MacKilligans are a crime family. So… there is a lot to run from. Good thing Charlie and her sisters know how to fight and take care of themselves. Their adventures are outlandish and there is never a moment’s rest. Eventually, there is a bit of courting between Charlie and Berg – who are adorable together – but the romance is a very small part of the overall story. While the tale itself was somewhat interesting, definitely exciting, and mostly entertaining, the characters could be mildly annoying. They are always fighting, and they are all completely over-the-top. Everything is outlandish and dramatic. I will admit that after a LONG while, the Mackilligan sisters and Dunn triplets grew on me, but the story went on way too long and had too many side characters and subplots. The narration from Ms. Odom was solid. She used distinct voices for each character, easily recognizable whenever I picked up the book and started listening. Some of the voices felt cartoonish or exaggerated at first, but as the book went on, I realized that those voices fit the nature of the characters. She pulls of several accents, some better than...
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