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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Dec
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Non-Fiction Book: The Magnolia Story Author: Chip & Joanna Gaines Narrators: Chip & Joanna Gaines Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: n/a Genre: Biography Source: purchased The Magnolia Story I LOVE HGTV’s husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines. My kids and I watch their show to see not only Joanna’s beautiful designs and Chip’s outrageous antics, but mostly because the couple and their family exude wholesome, uplifting family goodness. Upon discovering their biography, narrated by the couple, I had to listen, and I’m so thankful I did. Chip and Joanna are beautiful people inside and out. They love their family, friends, and community, placing the needs of people before profit. Listening to the couple share their story was entertaining and inspiring. I found myself holding back tears or laughing out loud at times. They share their humble beginnings, how they met and their early married life, Chip’s entrepreneurial spirit, and Joanna’s life lessons. Having the couple narrate their own story is perfect. Already familiar with the couple from TV, I could see the pair in my mind’s eye, complete with hand motions and silly faces, as they read their story. The book comes to life as the authors and subjects of the book speak their own words. It gives the feeling that they are sharing their story with me in an intimate setting over dinner. I strongly recommend this uplifting, impassioned tale to all, regardless if you have watched the show Fixer Upper or not. Chip and Joanna share their inspirational story in their own words. Their message of faith, hope, and family is a blessing during these crazy, uncertain times. My Rating: A- Narration:...
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Dec
22

Listen Up! 2016 #Audiobook Challenge Update: July – December

Listen Up! 2016 #Audiobook Challenge Update: July – December Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Once again this year, I signed up for the annual Audiobook Challenge hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens. My personal goal was to listen to 50 audiobooks, meeting the My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) level (30-50 audiobooks) during 2016. I am excited to report that I did meet my goal – surpassing it slightly! 2016 Audiobook Challenge Update: July – December Here is a list of the books I’ve listened to so far this year. Book 27: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher, narrated by James Marsters (6/22) Book 28: Then Came You by Jill Shalvis, Narrated by Karen White (7/8) Book 29: Still the One by Jill Shalvis, Narrated by Karen White (7/17) Book 30: Nuts by Alice Clayton, Narrated by Shayna Thibodeaux & Sebastian York (7/23) Book 31: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton, Narrated by Deacon Lee & Olivia Song (7/28) Book 32: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones, Narrated by Lorelei King (8/11) Book 33: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian, Narrated by Summer Morton (8/17) Book 34: White Night by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (8/27) Book 35: Small Favor by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (9/9) Book 36: Hounded by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (9/15) Book 37: Hexed by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (9/24) Book 38: All I Want by Jill Shalvis, Narrated by Karen White (9/28) Book 39: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (10/7) Book 40: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken, Narrated by Hollie Jackson (10/14) Book 41: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci, Narrated by Randi Geddens (10/19) Book 42: About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken, Narrated by Hollie Jackson (10/26) Book 43: The Score by Elle Kennedy, Narrated by Savannah Peachwood & Andrew Eiden (11/2) Book 44: Changes by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (11/11) Book 45: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais, Narrated by Rebecca Estrella (11/16) Book 46: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher, Narrated by James Marsters (11/23) Book 47: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken, Narrated by Hollie Jackson (12/02) Book 48: The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines, Narrated by Chip & Joanna Gaines (12/06) Book 49: Hammered by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (12/10) Book 50: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (12/11) Book 51: Tricked by Kevin Hearne, Narrated...
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Dec
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Lucifer’s Daughter Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Lucifer’s Daughter Muriel just wants to live a normal life, but as the daughter of Satan and one of the Princesses of Hell, she finds normal isn’t achievable. Yet, she tries… living on the human plane, running a bar, and saving herself until she finds true love. She does have her naughty side, even if it’s not evil enough for Daddy. Lucifer’s Daughter is the first book in a light urban fantasy romance series from Eve Langlais. The story is shared in the first person POV of Muriel, and focuses on her adventures, which is why I call it an urban fantasy series; however, the entire first book is all about Muriel finding her true love, therefore – romance. Overall, I enjoyed meeting Muriel and watching her fall in love with the “wrong guy,” Auric, someone her father forbids her to see. Auric and Muriel have immediate, more-than-lust feelings, but I appreciate Muriel’s caution as she tries to find out if he’s “the one.” However, the lustful feelings overwhelm the storyline far too often. Muriel is obsessed with her virginal state and whether or not she should finally have sex. It was too much for me at times. I wanted more from the story than her nonexistent sexcapades. Additionally, Muriel is written to be a smart woman, yet at times she was utterly dense and a victim of her own ignorance, which felt false, since she is an intelligent character. Muriel’s love life aside, Lucifer’s Daughter got very interesting once Muriel wasn’t obsessing over Auric or her virginity. There is an unusual big-bad making moves to overthrow Satan, bringing chaos to the underworld. The glimpses we saw intrigued me greatly, and I need to know the connection between this mysterious new evil and Muriel’s early childhood. This alone is enough to keep me listening to the series. And honestly, I enjoyed Auric and Muriel’s romance, once they opened up and were honest with one another. New-to-me-narrator Rebecca Estrella provides the performance for Lucifer’s Daughter. At 1.5x speed, I enjoyed her vocalizations, and her “narrator Muriel” is strong. She seems to capture the entitled yet honest feel I think Muriel embodies. Ms. Estrella has a good mix for her male and female voices; nothing that...
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Dec
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Changes by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Changes Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Changes Changes opens with a secret so shocking and huge that it changes Harry’s life forever. IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS – do NOT read the book blurb for this one! With this one big moment, events begin to unfold that change the face of the supernatural world forever. Duchess Arianna Ortega of the Red Court seeks revenge against the White Court for the murder of her husband, heating up the war between the two factions. The book closes in much the same manner as its opening… with completely and utterly jaw-dropping scenes that you will honestly wonder if what you just heard (read) was correct. But while the opening brought me joy, the ending irritated me. One thing I’ve appreciated about the Dresden Files is that, for most of the books, Mr. Butcher balances light with dark, and Changes is all about the light and dark within and around Dresden. For every high, there is an equal low. For every laugh, there was a sob. The emotional intensity of the story had me laughing out loud at times, while completely bawling at others. So much happens in the book, It truly is a game-changing title – one not to be missed. As always, Mr. Marsters brings to life the very essence and soul of Dresden. The intensity of Dresden’s highs and lows are perfectly projected. His performance had me weeping. I did notice one change: Marsters’s voice for Anastasia Luccio was more heavily accented and not as innocent sounding. Fellow listener, Melanie from Hot Listens, theorizes it is because Ana is no longer bespelled, and its her true self coming through after the body swap several books back. I like this theory! Changes is a gripping, emotionally-draining, utterly satisfying tale that sees the world around Dresden altered in many ways. It is a must listen (read) for fans of the series, with so many aspects of this fascinating world moving and changing before Dresden’s eyes. My Rating: A Narration:...
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Nov
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Score Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Savannah Peachwood & Andrew Eiden Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Off-Campus #3 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: purchased Allie Hayes has had it with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Sean, and finally breaks it off for good. With her past behavior of giving into Sean’s apologies, she turns to best friend Hannah for help staying away from Sean that first weekend. Unfortunately, Hannah is out of town with her boyfriend, but they insist she hideout at Garrett’s house with his roommates. Hockey stud and all-around player Dean Di-Laurentis knows his best friend’s girlfriend’s best friend Allie is off limits when she shows up looking for a place to hide from the temptation of getting back together with her ex. But isn’t rebound sex the best thing for getting over an ex? However, now that he’s been with Allie, he can’t shake her out of his system. Having absolutely loved the first two books in Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, I was chomping at the bit waiting for The Score to finally make it to Audible. Although she changed her narrator for this one, overall, the wait was worth it. Ms. Kennedy has a knack for telling humorous, heartfelt stories that make me both laugh and cry. Allie and Dean are well matched. They are both so passionate, and with the freedom of labeling their relationship a fling, they explore each other in open and honest ways. However, they keep the fling a secret, which leads to some hilarious moments, and it places pressure on the pair which I feel helps the relationship in the long run. And while there is a lot of exploration, the pair grows close because of a developing friendship which bolsters each other in surprising ways. While there were times that the overall story was a little predictable, I didn’t care. I was so wrapped up in Dean and Allie’s story that I just listened and enjoyed. I laughed out loud and I got teary eyed. It’s just fun, high-quality storytelling. And I appreciate that the book is really about two young people trying to figure out who they want to be, and be okay with the fact it may not be what they were planning all along. I was disappointed that Lorelei Avalon was replaced as the sole narrator for the series. Savannah Peachwood & Andrew Eiden hold their own and do a respectable...
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Nov
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: About a Dragon Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #2 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio Talaith lived the same dead-end life, day after day for sixteen years, with the town’s people afraid of her and a dimwitted husband who thinks she’s the devil. She’s been sent to this little town by her goddess, waiting for the day Talaith is called to perform an act of sacrifice on her behalf. But the day that Briec passes through her town, everything changes. Briec, a powerful and arrogant dragon, sees Talaith and demands she join him, even after she tells him she’s married. Right from the start he finds himself obsessed with her and wants his own human plaything. And when the town’s people decide to riot and kill Talaith, Briec gets his chance, saving her and stealing her away. About a Dragon picks up about three years after the first book, with Annwyl the Bloody as queen, and dragons and humans forming an alliance. However, none of this news reaches Talaith’s small town, and as the book unfolds, we learn how Talaith’s human goddess has manipulated events in Talaith’s life. Likewise, we learn more about the dragon deities, and the history of the dragons. This expansion of mythology is equally interesting and exciting. It gives the book weight and increases the fantasy appeal. Although still not one to rate in my top of lists, the Dragon Kin series, its characters, and even the narration have grown on me. I enjoy following the adventures of this crazy, unconventional family. Their rudeness and barbaric, bloody behaviors make it a unique and compelling listen. However, after three pairs of males and females who constantly argue, I really hope for something a bit different stories. As the book went on, I grew to like Talaith, especially as her motives were unveiled. She’s a strong woman, as are most in this series. I also like that Annwyl’s character didn’t grow softer, if anything, she’s more crazy as she leads the kingdom these days. Additionally, the introduction of Izzy brings promise of fun adventures in the future. The males of the series, including Briec, seem a bit rough around the edges, yet are mesmerized and perplexed by their chosen females. I enjoy that they succumb to their feelings and revel in being with strong females. The narration by Hollie Jackson still isn’t my favorite, but by...
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Nov
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Turn Coat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #11 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Turn Coat When long time nemesis Morgan shows up near death at his door, Harry makes the hard decision to help Morgan, potentially further damaging his reputation with the White Council. Along with protecting Morgan, Harry must deal with a deadly skinwalker,  the White Court Vampires, and a traitor among his own kind. For several books now, Harry has been slowly unraveling the mysteries of these unknown threats, and Turn Coat brings his poking around to a head. With so much taking place within the pages of this title, I strongly urge anyone new to the series to start at the beginning. The Dresden Files should NOT be read out of order. Turn Coat has the feel of a transition story, taking listeners (readers) from point A to point B without much change. Harry’s search for the unidentified “black council” members and its nefarious purpose has gone on for sometime without any real progress. While there is quite a bit of forward momentum with this story arc, bringing Harry closer to the truth, there isn’t any conclusion by the end of the book, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for more. It was an exciting, enjoyable, yet sometimes confusing ride, but in the end, I hadn’t gone all that far. With that said, a LOT happens around and to Harry in Turn Coat. By the end of the book, I was left with more questions than answers. Different factions and storylines, which have always been somewhat separate in each of the Dresden Files books, are starting to crossover and blur. It feels like each little action in Turn Coat is building and snowballing, and soon everything will explode. What does make this an extremely enjoyable tale is the depth of emotion and changing relationships within the chaos of the actions. Harry’s relationship with his commander and lover, Ana, is brought under a harsh light, making Harry question himself and his actions. Second, Harry’s relationship with apprentice Molly is evolving as she tries to learn and grow. With the constant threat of death hanging over the pair if Molly crosses the line, I fear every action Molly makes will be for the wrong reasons. Then there is the oddity of Harry and Morgan, which brings about some heartfelt moments in the story, leaving...
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Oct
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy Authors: Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Narrator: Randi Geddens Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Broads Abroad #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Finding her husband eagerly enjoying his secretary in all those ways he shouldn’t, Avery Bardot finally realizes her marriage to Daniel is over. Not wanting to stay in Boston while her world falls apart, Avery jumps on a plane to Rome, where she stays with her best friend, Daisy. However, on her first night in town, Avery runs into the one man she never thought she’d see again, Marcello Bianchi. With her emotions in a tangled mess, Avery must decide if she can be friends with the man who was the boy who should have been her forever love. I absolutely LOVED Roman Crazy right from the outset. Melancholy, but with a sharp sense of humor, Avery still has a spark of life, and best friend Daisy is just the one to help rekindle that spark and show Avery there is so much more to life than her ex. The story is one of self-discovery, as Avery uncovers who she is and what she wants from life within the freedom of a Roman summer holiday. And the story was an absolute joy to listen to, as I found myself living in the moment and enjoying Rome as experienced by Avery. While Roman Crazy is so much more than a romance, the love story between Marcello and Avery is what gives the story heart. Given a second chance, the couple rekindles their frantic passion that was abandoned nine years prior. However, this time around brings age and life experiences with the lust, creating a more mature and well-rounded emotional journey. With a first person narrative, the reader experiences all that an uncertain Avery feels as she slowly lets down her walls and allows herself the freedom to enjoy life, and her very sexy Italian. Avery’s life is pretty amazing, and I was happy for her. However, throughout the second half of the book, I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” But when it finally did, it was more of a slipper falling rather than a heavy boot. Overall, things go very smoothly for Avery, almost too much so. With such a passionate, highly emotional tail, I expected more sobbing and difficulties getting to the HEA. I’m not unhappy it didn’t...
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Oct
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Dragon Actually Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x & 2x Series: Dragon Kin #1 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio I have heard very good things about G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series, so when I saw it was being release on audio by Tantor media, I jumped at the chance to review the titles. Dragon Actually, the first story in this paranormal/fantasy romance series is actually two books in one. The primary story, Dragon Actually, creates the settings and develops a world full of waring humans and powerful dragons. The second, short story, Chains and Flames, shares the backstory of two dragon characters we meet in the primary tale. Dragon Actually shares the story of Annwyl the Bloody, the bastard sister of the current, malevolent king. She is the fearless and heralded leader of the rebellion, which is growing with each passing day. However, her brother, with the help of a powerful warlock, grows close to capturing Annwyl. Just as some of his troops are about to deliver the mortal blow to Annwyl, Fearghus the Destroyer, a powerful dragon, steps in to save her. Dragons are rarely seen these days, and many believe they are just a myth, something the solitary Fearghus thinks is just fine. However, after he feels compelled to save Annwyl, nursing her back to life and agreeing to assist in her battles against her brother, he finds he cannot stay away from her. Overall, Dragon Actually is a solid and entertaining paranormal/fantasy romance. I like the mythology and admire the strong female hero. Annwyl is her own person and doesn’t apologize for her attitude or behaviors. She is known as “the bloody” for a very good reason, cutting down her enemies without remorse as any male leader would. Fearghus is the only male who could be her equal and that makes them a good fit. I enjoyed their companionship and the times they let their guards down to talk. I did feel that there was a high “cheese-factor” in this story, both in the romance and in the interactions between several of the characters. I felt the story was dated in terms of tone, and my tastes in PNR have changed in the past 10 years. One thing I did not care for was the abruptness of the ending! Without giving spoilers, the ending felt incomplete. I would have liked...
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Oct
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All I Want by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All I Want by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: All I Want Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #7 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Library Loan After a delay (library hold list), I was finally able to listen to All I Want, the final title in Jill Shalvis’s wonderful Animal Magnetism series. This time around, we get the romantic story for Zoe Stone, the eldest Stone sibling. Now that her younger brother (Wyatt) and sister (Darcy) have found love and moved out of the ancestral home they shared, Zoe is feeling a bit lonely, although she would NEVER admit that to anyone. Determined to make her own way, she’s decided to try a few blind dates to find some one-night companionship. When one of Wyatt’s best friends needed an off-the-grid place to relax and recover from a work injury, Wyatt suggested he rent a room from Zoe. And now that he’s staying with her, he can’t stop thinking about how much he wants to get her into his bed. But Parker is hiding a number of secrets, like the fact that he’s not really a park ranger on vacation. The truth is far more dangerous, and Parker knows his stay is only temporary, so he can’t give into his feelings for Zoe. Even though this is the seventh title in the series, Ms. Shalvis has done a good job of keeping each story fresh and unique, while sticking with the small town romance formula that works. All I Want had a bit more edge and suspense to it that previous titles due to the nature of Parker’s undercover work. I enjoyed the added action and mystery solving along side the romance. As for the romance, I really liked Parker and Zoe. They shared an honesty that was touching and much appreciated. In a couple scenes, the raw dialogue was utterly heartbreaking. The author could have easily used Parker’s job and Zoe’s past to keep the pair apart, but the couple works through each bump in the road as friends fighting a strong attraction. In fact, the couple didn’t really hook up until about two-thirds through the book. It created strong sexual tension and gave me a emotional connection to the pair. I liked that the couple got to know one another and build the much needed trust before that acted fully on their lust. It works well for the pair and the story. However, I did...
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