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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Feb
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Twinkle Little Star Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #4 Genre: Mystery/Suspense with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Twinkle Little Star is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series as I never know what to expect next. Just when you think everything has gone back to normal…well as normal as it can be for Sage realizing too late she is in love with Marlow, that school and life move on even when you are still mourning your best friend’s death, and your roommate isn’t the bestie she acts like.  Then Sage accidentally kills another student.  She was driving (while a bit emotional) and a woman just suddenly appears in front of her car.  As Marlow arrives on the scene shortly after with Sage’s brother, he discovers that this is not a straight forward case of vehicular manslaughter.  Picking up what he thought was Sage’s phone; he is transported to another location. After glimpsing someone in the shadows he is suddenly back at the scene of the accident.  Was this woman accidentally sent to the wrong location at the wrong time or is something more sinister going on? I am again surprised at how quickly I inhaled the latest Nursery Rhyme Suspense story.  Marlow and Sage’s geeky interests and intellectual endeavors are charmingly addictive.  The competition for the New Scientists Innovation Award was a fascinating element to the plot.  I enjoyed how it brought Marlow and Sage back together and highlighted the tension between Marlow and Dakota’s new relationship.  Marlow brining his father into the mystery revealed even more secrets and reasons behind the connection Sage and Marlow seem to have.  I really enjoyed how the plot flowed and twisted as the mystery was solved but more questions came to light. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage.  The personality of the characters as well as the inflections they provide in their performance assists in bringing Twinkle Little Star to life.  In many ways, I feel that this series should only be heard rather than read.  Both narrators continue to expand and bring this rich and intriguing world to life. I...
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Feb
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Down by Contact Author:  Santino Hassell Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Barons #2 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== Simeon and Adrián have been rivals for four years, ever since Simeon was traded from the Predators to the Barons. When the pair match up in a preseason game, the summer after Simeon came out of the closet, Adrián can’t stop himself from making jokes at the expense of Simeon’s sexual preferences. This leads to an all-out brawl, leaving both suspended for six games and forced into joint community service. Can the pair back away from their rivalry long enough to become friends? or more? I have to admit, I struggled a quiet a bit when I first started Down by Contact. I was disappointed the story once again relied on an NFL suspension to make it work (which is what happened in the first book of the series). Additionally, both main characters come off juvenile and immature mostly because of their speech. The characters weren’t clicking for me, and I didn’t feel any sexual tension or connections between the pair like I did in the first book. But mostly, the narration didn’t work for me. I did not care for Mr. London’s voice for Adrián, nor his interpretation of Simeon, and at times couldn’t tell the difference between who was speaking. After taking a short break away from the story and then coming back to it, I found things turning around. As the story progresses, the characters develop and their interactions become more meaningful. I liked the play between Adrián and Simeon when they’re just being themselves. And although everything starts off as a dare and a game, real emotions surface, and I liked that the pair is accepting of what is happening. What shines in the story is Adrián’s self-reflection and analysis of his actions and ideals. And not just about being queer. But on being a better person. About thinking before speaking. About caring for others. His constant contemplation is thought-provoking. I enjoyed seeing him change...
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Feb
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Oversight Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #2 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== Entitled, gorgeous, and, (somewhat) oblivious, Holden Payne has been an outspoken champion of The Community all his life. Despite his contentious relationship with his father (who happens to be the most powerful of the founders), his devotion to The Community’s ostensible mission to help “lost” psys who flock to his nightclub in NYC is his greatest source of pride. Or, at least it was, until a series of disappearances and murders occurred on his watch, exposing a more sinister agenda at work. Now, inexplicably the focus of an investigation by the very group that raised him, Holden has been given a babysitter in the form of a socially inept, emotionally vacant—and gorgeous—lumbersexual named Sixtus Rossi. Immune to Holden’s usual charms and psychic abilities, Sixtus presents a serious problem—especially since Holden’s attraction to the man becomes more undeniable by the day. With the discovery of another faction working against The Community straining his loyalties, getting closer to Sixtus could either lead to Holden’s downfall or finally allow him to experience the only real love he’s ever known. Once again, Mr. Boudreaux seems to have put a lot of thought and effort into his performance of Oversight, making both Holden’s cultured purr and Sixtus’ deadpan Bronx accent believable and persuasive. One of the most unique things about Six is his inability to process—or express—emotions based on typical cues. As such, he doesn’t have much of a filter, and I found this narrator’s take on the fact particularly amusing as well as more touching than I might have otherwise. Additionally, the accents reintroduced with return of other characters—Nate’s Texas twang, in particular—could have been tempered in deference to those of the main characters, but that’s not the case here. Each remains distinct and vibrant throughout, providing additional strength to the already solid reading. While I enjoyed this version of Oversight tremendously, I think that reading the book first made me fonder of the overall production than if...
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Jan
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Hard Play series Cherish Hard Author:  Nalini Singh Narrator:  Justine O’Keef Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Hard Play #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Tantor Audio Cherish Hard is the first book in a new contemporary romance series that spins off from Ms. Singh’s Rock Kiss series.  Sailor and Isa’s romantic journey is actually a prequel to the second book in the that series, Rock Hard, which featured Sailor’s older brother Gabriel.  I enjoyed this fairly simple and straightforward romance. If you are expecting the more suspenseful and dangerous edginess of the Rock Kiss series, you will be disappointed.  However, if you are looking for a heart-felt love story of two people overcoming their own internal conflicts – this is it.  I started this novel thinking it would be something different from the previous series, and I was satisfied by the overall story-arc.  We have two characters with seemingly opposing goals with their romance being either an obstacle or a doomed distraction.  Through their fairly slow burning (but mega hot) romance, they fall in love, but worry that the long haul may not be possible.  I found it odd that for all their stubborn determination they both felt that love and a dream/ambition were two opposing goals. The do communicate and come together; however, Sailor and Isa neglect to discuss the foundational point of a long-term relationship once they realized that this was more than just a fling (which I find funny since it was never going to be a fling as neither have that personality).  I understand with Isa’s past history she has this scarred and fragile self-image – but considering where she is in life, I would think that it would have healed, and she would have gotten stronger.  The courage and determination that Isa funneled into her education and career propelled her into great success.  It’s a shame that she doesn’t realize what a strong and caring woman she is.  However Isa’s character is completely shadowed by Sailor.  He is the star of the book, stealing the spotlight with his determination, wit, and animal-magnetism. Though their relationship started slow, once they truly started to connect, the novel flew by.  I also really enjoyed the interactions of Isa’s friend who crossed paths with Sailor’s friend.  I hope we are able to experience their journey as the snippets afforded us are fabulous teasers.  Overall the several mini-plots...
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Jan
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Hickory Dickory Dock Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #3 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Hickory Dickory Dock is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series. After the events of the previous book, Life is But a Dream, I wasn’t sure what to expect next.  Following Sage and Marlow on their summer break wasn’t it.  However, geeks will be geeks and as Sage continued to work on her mathematical theory she finally breaks through.  In trying to consult Marlow about this latest amazing discovery, she inserts herself between Marlow and his burgeoning romance with Dakota.  Though Marlow tries to keep his distance from Sage out of respect for Dakota, all bets are off once he witnesses a murder through Sage’s “window”. I enjoyed that we learned more about Sage and her family as well as Marlow’s.  There were quite a few discoveries, and I liked how it’s obvious their families have had an effect on them (good and not-so-good).  Marlow’s relationship with his mom is bittersweet and the discoveries made in this novel help him to heal.  With Sage’s interference, I’m not sure how Dakota and Marlow will be able to move on, but there is hope.  However, it is sad to note that Sage is feeling a bit of regret in not pursuing something with Marlow, but I liked how she is willing to let it go and work at being friends with Dakota. The future murder mystery Marlow and Sage fall into is utterly gripping.  It was fascinating how far our world had fallen and how plausible the downfall of the United States was.  I was utterly gripped by the dystopian world that Marlow and Sage found themselves in – though how the mathematical equation could equate to a window into the future still baffles me.  However, I can easily ignore it as I was consumed by trying to figure out who the murder was as well as how they were going to get back to their own time.  It truly felt like a race against the clock. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage. ...
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Jan
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Man Hands series Author:  Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby Narrator:  Luke Daniels and Erin Mallon Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: Man Hands #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Brynn’s life sucks. Recently divorced, she left her husband and loveless marriage. The moment the papers where signed, she lost her job as a writing professor, where her former father-in-law was her boss. Stuck in a rut, her BFFs tell her she needs to go for a man that is the complete opposite of her normal type for a single night of fun. And after a couple drinks… she does. Tom is working hard to keep a low profile after his very public break up six months ago. Star of his own home repair show, he’s working on renovating his place in Michigan while the network decides if he’ll get another season. However, he tosses his plans for a year of celibacy out the window when a beautiful stranger throws herself at him at a party. Now he can’t stop thinking about her, hoping for a repeat experience. Man Hands is an absolute joy to experience! Not only is a sweet and sexy romance, but the humor is laugh-out-loud funny. Brynn and Tom are adorable together. Stemming from bad breakups, each has lost confidence in love and relationships. Yet in order to move forward, they must pretend to be in one – which isn’t a hardship for either since they are extremely attracted to one another. It also helps that both are genuinely good people who don’t want to hurt the other. And of course, they have friends pushing them together, which makes for some fun times. The supporting cast is equally as intriguing as the main couple, and I look forward to their stories with anticipation. The authors do a fabulous job of breaking convention and typical romance conflicts with their storytelling. I admire and appreciate the direction they took the story as I listened to it. More than once I was thinking I knew what would happen next – how a character would react to a situation, but the authors pleasantly surprised me each time. What could have been typical is instead sublime! The story is brought to life by the narrators. I enjoyed both tremendously. Ms. Mallon brings just the right amount of perkiness to Brynn. She is able to convey a wide...
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Jan
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Westin Pack series One True Mate Author:  Julie Trettel Narrators:  Carly Robins and Joe Hempel Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Westin Pack #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Tantor Audio One True Mate is the first novel in the Westin Pack series – a new paranormal romance series.  Though the premise was interesting, I feel it fell a bit flat. The mythology of the wolf shifters that Ms. Trettel crafted was interesting.  However the belief that female Alpha wolves need to be destroyed at birth was disturbing.  What I feel was more bothersome is the acceptance by the shifters that this is an acceptable practice.  I find it hard to believe that the females would blindly believe that this was okay.  Maybe if the threat of Alpha females was better conveyed, I could have swallowed plot element better.  But as it seemed, it was a belief that female alphas have no control (and some have special powers that corrupt them). The romantic journey between Kelsey and Kyle was overall satisfying.  The romantic tensions between them as well as witty moments were entertaining.  However, the timeline of their “courtship” was a tad clunky.  We experience their meeting and then fast-forward two years.  It seems that not claiming a mate for this long is completely against the shifter culture.  It would have been interesting to see the tense interactions between them.  Or perhaps it would have been better to have the introduction be a shorter prologue to catch the reader to the now.  I just felt that due to this jump and a few others later on, the story lacked fluidity.  In a couple instances I felt that we missed some important character development/interaction.  That being said, Kyle and Kelsey’s relationship was gripping to watch develop once she understood she wasn’t a lone shifter.  They truly are well paired and I hope to see more of them in the next novel. With the novel written from both Kelsey and Kyle’s point of view, I enjoyed having the dual narrators.  However, I felt Ms. Carly Robins’s narration was stronger than Joe Hempel’s.  It seem Carly did an excellent job of conveying Kelsey’s personality in her narration which added a depth to the story.  Mr. Hempel’s narration was a tad stiff which felt a little in contrast to Kyle’s personality.  That being said, the story was stronger for the dual narrators. Though...
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Jan
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Insight by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Insight Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #1 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== Being part of the Black Family has always been its own punishment for Nate. As the only openly gay guy in his tiny Texas high school, in addition to his family’s sketchy reputation, he was always an outcast among outcasts. After the presumed death of their mother, Nate and his brother, Theo, ought to have been as inseparable as identical twins are supposed to be, but that didn’t work out, either. But when Nate’s world is turned inside out by visions of Theo’s murder, he heads to New York for answers and discovers a secret society of fellow psychics, conspiracy theories, and more murders. Meeting Trent, a gorgeous, compassionate, protective Engineer along the way—who’s also the one person who’s ever given Nate a sense of peace—must be fate. If only he can find enough faith in himself to believe it. Having enjoyed the entire The Community series by Santino Hassell, I admit to being a little worried about how the audiobook would turn out. Much to my delight, I really liked this version of Insight, and found that everything that initially drew me in was not only undiminished by the performance, but that even more details revealed themselves through listening. Based on a fascinating premise—an attempt at world domination with a psychic twist—there’s an awful lot to keep track of in Insight, but the narration made doing so a pleasure, and I was able to happily surrender myself to the story the author originally created. Although he’s appearing under a different name here, I already own several titles read by Greg Boudreaux. As was the case with the others, I found his performance to be extremely enjoyable. Nate’s Texas twang wasn’t too overdone, and tended to deepen believably when he was upset or excited. The other characters were treated similarly, with Mr. Boudreaux’s inflections and tones shifting and softening almost delicately sometimes, making each character sound unmistakable and distinct. I absolutely recommend the audiobook...
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Dec
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Life is But a Dream by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Life is But a Dream by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Life is But a Dream Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #2 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio I was eagerly waiting to see what happened next with Marlow and Sage.  Life is But a Dream was just as fascinating, gripping, and alluring as The Gingerbread Man.  This Nursery Rhyme Suspense series is one I’m glad to have picked up. The novel begins four months after the previous book.  Sage is still not coping well to the death of Tegan.  However, in an effort to assuage her brother’s concerns, she attends a support group for those suffering from depression.  But that is not the only thing she is struggling with: she has started having strange dreams that include Marlow – the geeky boy she barely met one night after Tegan died.  The worst though is when the drowning nightmares start and begin to come true in reality. I am enjoying these science fiction bending mysteries. After the alternate universes in the previous novel, I was interested in seeing what would happen in this novel.  Ms. Strauss does an excellent job of misdirection while leading us to who, the why, and the how.  Still it is a bit “out-there” but this X-Files-esque mystery is gripping and entertaining.  The dream connection between Marlow and Sage is fascinating.  Though we never truly understand why, it is interesting to wonder how it started and by whom.  I secretly suspect that more than just reality jumping occurred for Marlow, he had to be touched and altered in some way by his experiences in the previous novel.  Maybe this ability to connect in the dreamscape is one of them? Another aspect I enjoy is the romantic tension between Marlow and Sage.  There is no denying the attraction between them, though like many young adults/new adults, the timing isn’t right.  Not to mention that Marlow is the nice guy…and nice guys do not finish well when the lady in question is young and idealistic.  Over the course of the story, I enjoyed how close Marlow and Sage become and yet the distance that is created.  I’m curious as to see what happens next in their burgeoning relationship. The dual narrators continue to strengthen and enhance the novel.  Though we have more than just Marlow and...
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Dec
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: One Was Lost Author:  Natalie D. Richards Narrator:  Vanessa Johansson Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Young Adult Source: Tantor Audio One Was Lost is a very gripping thriller-suspense mystery with a hint of romance.  I enjoyed this chilling tale, enhanced by the narration. Sera is a high school senior who signs up for a fun hiking/camping trip.  This is a mandatory requirement for seniors, they must complete a “mission.”  It varies from working at a homeless shelter to this wilderness trip.  Sera is talked into the trip by the school’s organizer, a teacher named Mr. Walker.  Six students and Ms. Brighton (another teacher) make up the group.  However, right at the beginning of the trip, the group is split while trying to cross a river during a storm.  Mr. Walker along with Sera, Lucas, Jude, and Emily are able to cross while Ms. Brighton and two other students are left on the other side.  They decide to camp for the night and reconnoiter in the morning.  However the morning brings a ravaged camp, a seriously ill Mr. Walker, and a strange tattoo on each of the students: Damaged, Deceptive, Dangerous, and Darling. One Was Lost is entirely told from Sera’s perspective.  When she wakes the next morning with her belongings missing or destroyed and the word “Darling” on her arm, Sera thinks it is some strange prank.  She doesn’t realize that it is the first strike in the countdown.  It doesn’t help that Sera does not know the other people in her group well, except for maybe Lucas.  Her brief romantic interlude with him has left her cold.  She fears romance and love ever since her mother fell in love with someone else, leaving her and her father.  Lucas is tattooed with “Dangerous” which furthers Sera’s distrust.  Yet, Sera wants to try to figure out not only how to get out of the wilderness, but also who is seemly hunting them and why. I was thoroughly engrossed in this young adult thriller/mystery suspense.  The little bit of romance sprinkled in added depth and help to keep Sera off-balance.  I enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot.  The story is far more complicated than it seems and though there are plenty of clues, it was not easy for me to figure out until the end.  Though the story is indicative of some other lost in the...
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