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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Dec
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Gingerbread Man Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #1 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio On a whim, I picked up Gingerbread Man, the first book in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I was intrigued by the premise and was not disappointed! The story is a mix of a detective drama/mystery and a bit of science fiction to it.  It reminds me a bit of the movie Frequency or maybe The Lakehouse.  That being said, it was reminiscent but truly a unique tale.  Without giving anything away, Marlow is tested as he works to discover what is going on and who the killer is.  Teaming up with Sage, the roommate of his online crush, they race the clock as they try to stop a serial killer. It’s difficult to discuss the novel without giving anything away.  However, I really enjoyed the dual narrators.  With the way the plot twisted and turned, it really helped to have two narrators to convey which point of view is being expressed (as it switches), as well as helping to anchor the plot.  It was especially helpful as I got a little confused at first (along with Marlow) when his online date showed up after being murdered.  The dual narrators added a depth to the story and enhanced my enjoyment as the plot wove itself around. I was fascinated by this thrilling novel.  I enjoyed the mix of science fiction elements blended with this young adult suspense. Though, technically only one murder is solved, I wonder what happens next. It is also interesting to see what will happen, if anything between Marlow and Sage. I eagerly look forward to listening to the next novel in this series. My Ratings: Story: B+ Narration: A Overall: A- About the Book: When that cute chick you met online is murdered – but shows up for your next internet meeting anyway. Marlow’s just a regular geeky college freshman with little to no experience with girls, so when he has a semi-flirtatious chat with a cute girl online, it’s almost more than his nerves can handle. Then the girl is brutally murdered. Or is she? Marlow finds himself teamed up with intelligent and savvy Sage Farrell, a girl so far out of his league he feels blinded in her presence...
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Dec
14

Listen Up! 2017 #Audiobook Challenge Year-End Update

Listen Up! 2017 #Audiobook Challenge Year-End Update 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, this year hosted by Hot Listens and The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. My personal goal is to listen to 50 audiobooks, meeting the My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) level (30-50 audiobooks) during 2017. For more information about the 2017 Audiobook Challenge, click the image below. 2017 Audiobook Challenge Update: July – December I made my audiobook listening goal of 50 books, reaching it on December 10, 2017. Here is a list of the books I’ve listened to between July and December 10, 2017. Book 26: White Hot by Ilona Andrews, Narrated by Renée Raudman (6/12) Book 27: Buns by Alice Clayton, Narrated by Elizabeth Louise, with Jason Carpenter (6/20) Book 27.5: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren, Narrated by Shayna Thibodeaux and Deacon Lee (DNF) Book 28: Besieged by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels (7/10) Book 29: The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick, Narrated by Henrietta Meire (7/28) Book 30: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews, Narrated by Renee Raudman (8/10) Book 31: Accidental Sire by Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi (8/16) Book 32: All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst, Narrated by Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York (8/27) Book 33: Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen, Narrated by Joe Arden, Maxine Mitchell (9/2) Book 34: Falling From the Sky by Sarina Bowen, Narrated by Tanya Eby, Aiden Snow (9/7) Book 35: Dune by Frank Herbert, Full Cast Performance (9/13) Book 36: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy, Narrated by Tim Campbell; Translated by Sam Taylor (9/15) Book 37: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi, Narrated by Wil Wheaton (9/20) Book 38: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin, Narrated by Joanna Parker (9/29) Book 39: HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy, Narrated By Teddy Hamilton & Jacob Morgan (10/5) Book 40: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne, Narrated by Luke Daniels and Xe Sands (10/19) Book 41: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones, Narrated by Lorelei King (10/24) Book 42: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen, Narrated by Noel Harrison and Emma Wilder (10/26) Book 43: US by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy, Narrated by Teddy Hamilton & Jacob Morgan (10/31) Book 44: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, Narrated by Teddy Hamilton and Tanya Eby (11/5) Book 45: Stay (WAGs #2) by Sarina...
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Dec
14

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact Author:  Santino Hassell Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Barons #1 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio Star football player Gavin Brawley has a temper which has branded him as the bad boy of the NFL. It’s also what landed him under house arrest for six months, benched for the entire season. Recognizing he’ll need help, his manager pushes the solitary Gavin to hire a personal assistant to run the household and help with day-to-day tasks. Noah Monroe was forced out of his last job after he tried to out his boss for inappropriate behavior. Now he’s desperate to find work, and acting as a PA for a self absorbed jock will have to do. Determined to keep his job, Noah does what it takes to impress Gavin and make the arrangement work. However, when Noah learns Gavin’s secret – that he’s bisexual – Noah wonders if he can fight the constant flirting, or if he’s doomed to repeat past mistakes. I’ve been wanting to read Santino Hassell for a while now, so I jumped at the chance to review Illegal Contact. Overall, it is an engrossing story with a heartwarming, sexy romance. Gavin and Noah are like two rough-edged pieces that fit together perfectly, once you work to find how they mesh. Both slow to trust, they find common ground because they truly like and respect the other. They want to do things to make the other happy. The story starts rough. I mean, Gavin has issues. He’s angry. But every time Noah challenges him, Gavin comes back stronger and better. And Noah sees the real person in Gavin-not just some pro-athlete. He stands up for Gavin. Slowly each realizes there are real feelings forming. The characters are given time to work out feelings and issues, creating a stronger bond in the end. Additionally, I appreciate that the author doesn’t blow off the employee-boss relationship and its impact on power exchange. The pair discuss the issues and try to ensure that it’s not part of their relationship, yet it never really goes away – just gets fluffed over by their lust. Each narrator is great for his given character. Gavin’s narrator is very aggressive and rough around the edges, just like Gavin’s persona. He’s got a strong accent and can be abrasive at times. Conversely, Noah’s narrator is...
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Dec
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas Author:  Jaci Burton Narrator: Samantha Cook Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Tantor Audio Ellie Washington lost the love of her life five years ago on Christmas eve. Pregnant and alone, Ellie moved in with her brother-in-law, who was also hurting from the sudden death of his brother. Nick helped raise his nephew, and the trio grew into a comfortable life. However, feelings have been changing over the past year, and now Ellie and Nick need to decide if they can take a chance on love. Love Me by Christmas is a short holiday romance about second chances. I like how the author set this up. I was concerned about any ick factor because Nick is Ellie’s dead husband’s brother. But the author creates a history, having Ellie and her unborn child move in right after John’s death, providing mutual support for five years, and finally, only in the past year did feelings change… it works. The story is pretty straightforward. Nick and Ellie both care deeply for one another, and sorting out what those feelings are – untangling the bundle of emotions – is messy. Ellie is full of concern over letting go of her husband and that it’s wrong to love his brother. It’s all very understandable and real. However, it gives the pair plenty of hurdles to jump, with little forward movement. And then, after a while, Ellie’s constant consternation becomes repetitive. On the plus side, the narrator does a delightful job, with a solid cadence at 1.5x speed. The narrator’s soft voice suits Ellie well, both cautious and reserved after losing her husband so young. Additionally, Ms. Cook’s male voices are deep enough to sound masculine. Love Me by Christmas is a sentimental, sweet story set around the Christmas season. I did have a few issues with the lack of action and forward momentum, then with Ellie’s constant self-lecturing about how her love isn’t right or that she’s holding back Nick. However, I the love story was still entertaining and enjoyable for the holiday season. My Rating: B- Narrator: B Review copy provided by Tantor Audio About the Book: Some bad girls need a firm hand to keep them in line. Ellie Washington lost her husband in a tragedy five years ago at Christmas. She wouldn’t have made it through her grief if not for her husband’s brother,...
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Nov
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance Author:  Jim C. Hines Narrator: Rebecca Mitchell Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Series #1 Genre: Science Fiction Source: Tantor Audio When a mysterious contagion turns most of the crew of the EMC Ship Pufferfish into feral zombies and kills the rest, Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is left in charge of the few survivors. As a lowly human, she doesn’t have much access to the ship, but when Mops realizes that Krakau command intends to euthanize the human crew rather than try to save them, she commandeers the ship with the help of her minimal crew. Soon Mops uncovers a danger so big, it threatens the entire Krakau alliance, and she is faced with the decision to surrender or discover the truth. Terminal Alliance is an entertaining space adventure with a spunky heroine who uses her brain and instinct when down and out. While there is much going on, the book focuses on Mops and her adventure. She is a great character: one of those underdogs who is destined for more. The David to the EMC’s Goliath. I love how Mops thinks things through and how loyal she is to her crew. She was born to be a great leader and through this series of unfortunate events, she’s coming into her own. I enjoyed sitting back and listening to Mops figure it all out, never second guessing her analysis. The side characters are equally fun and interesting. They each play their part and through Mops’s leadership, form a team and family. And though working as a team under stressful situations, each character grows and matures. Additionally, the story is filled with silly humor and fun pop culture references. I love the historic human names used like Sherlock Holmes, Marilyn Monroe, Carrie Fisher. The plot of Terminal Alliance itself is engaging. The story evolves as Mops and her crew learn bits and parts behind the bioweapon attack that put her in charge of the Pufferfish. There are many layers that need to be pulled back before Mops and the crew uncover the truth; the final goal and plot. This gradual reveal, complete with twists and turns, kept my interest and pulled me in throughout the entire story. Overall, the performance by Ms. Mitchell is solid and entertaining. She gives just enough variation between the different characters that I was able to know who was speaking just by...
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Nov
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas Author: John Scalzi Narrators: Wil Wheaton Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Science Fiction Source: purchased As a fan of the original Star Trek, all spin offs, and the movies, I was giddy with the very concept of Redshirts. Primarily following Ensign Andrew Dahl as he begins serving on the UU Capital Ship Intrepid, the story takes listeners on a wild journey that both mocks and glorifies the original TV show. From ridiculous situations that are solved with a mysterious “box” to an abnormally high death count of the newest recruits, the story follows Dahl as he tries to figure out why such ludicrous events keep happening on the Intrepid. With so many references to the original Star Trek, and the overall atmosphere of early science fiction shows, I do not recommend Redshirts to the casual listener. The book bases its entire story on being able to find the humor in some of the situations provided from the original show, and if you cannot understand that, the book may seem pointless. Additionally, the “science” of the story becomes quite involved and difficult to follow, especially if you have no interest in the concepts behind shows like Star Trek. In fact, the characters even joke how they are using the shotty world-building to benefit them. However, I am one of those types who find this all entertaining, so I enjoyed the adventure, laughing out loud at times. One thing that did disappoint me was that the larger picture was left so vague. I know it was written to be deliberately obtuse, but the engineer in me wanted more explanation. Also. The codas. I’m not sure why they were included. The last three sections of the book are told from three different points-of-view of off-ship characters. They don’t have any impact on Dahl and his timeline. However, it was interesting to see how they all connected. As for the narration, I was on the fence about Wil Wheaton. I mean, come on! It’s Wesley himself, bringing to life characters on a star ship. I love that aspect. And Mr. Wheaton does have an entertaining, engaging voice. However, he doesn’t perform the story as much as he reads it. He doesn’t really make much attempt to change voices for any of the characters. He adds some emotions, but I’ve heard better. And a huge issue with Mr....
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Nov
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars Author: Sarina Bowen Narrators: Tanya Eby, Aiden Snow Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Gravity #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Stella Lazarus has loved her big brother’s best friend ever since she can remember. Stella tried to show Bear how she felt years ago, but he brushed her off. So she has to be satisfied with just being good friends. Bear thinks Stella is the sexiest woman alive, but she’s his best friend’s little sister, which means she’s off limits, and it has taken every ounce of will power to keep her at arms length. But when the pair find themselves alone in an upscale hotel room after a few drinks and good food, neither Stella nor Bear can say no to the years of denied attraction. Stella and Bear share an amazing, fantasy-fulfilling night together, but it all comes to a quick end when Bear freaks out about breaking the bro-code and not being good enough for Stella, coupled with Stella’s brother’s career-ending accident. Shooting for the Stars opens just before the start of the second Gravity book, Falling From the Sky and Hank’s horrific accident. The book then jumps ten months, keeping it on pace with the timing of Falling from the Sky. Although there is a lot of overlap in the timing of books #2 and #3, the story is completely different, with Hank playing a minor roll in this title. Stella and Bear are best friends who are perfect for one another, but something always prevents it from happening. Mostly it’s on Bear – he’s afraid to open up and face his feelings head on. When they are together – whether as friends, potential lovers, or awkward and unsure companions – they capture my attention. Both carry around so much baggage and pain, love and hope; their interactions are emotionally fulfilling. However, much of the first half of the book is spent in lengthy flashbacks, and the dynamic of the budding romance stumbles during these interludes. I appreciate knowing more of their history, but at the same time, the author established their deep connection early (starting some in the second book), so jumping to the past pulled me out of the present. Additionally, during much of the middle of the book, the pair avoids each another. But then, Bear starts making his movie and the couple are forced to spend time...
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Nov
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Charley Davidson Series Title: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Charley Davidson #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio Note: this review contains spoilers from earlier books in the series, to include the surprising ending of the previous book. Opening three days after the explosive conclusion of Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, Charley is searching for her husband-turned-malevolent-god, Rey’azikeen. No longer Reyes after his short jaunt into the god glass hell dimension, Rey’azikeen is loose and Charley has been given one more day to find and stop him before Jehovah sends his army to capture him. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is a wonderful addition to this crazy, hilarious series. Overall, the story is shorter and far more direct than previous titles (well, as direct as Charley Davidson can be). Each strand of the plot is clear and makes sense, and then Ms. Jones expertly draws them all together to create a larger picture as the book progresses. Charley uses her wit and cunning, along with her team of friends, to solve multiple cases that seem unrelated, but ultimately tie in loose ends or come together by the end of the book. I love how free Charley is in this book – she’s back. The whole “do I trust Reyes or not” issue seems to FINALLY be put to rest as Charley struggles with the very real possibility she may lose the love of her life forever this time. She goes from moment to moment, bringing readers and listeners along for one crazy ride. The convoluted subplots are absent, leaving behind a solid story with a bring big twist at the end. Additionally, the continuity issues I’ve noted in the past are either gone, or irrelevant because the rest of the story runs so smoothly. Finally, while the author does do some info dumping, it’s in the form of children’s books, and scattered throughout the story, rather than at the very end. Lorelei King, my all-time favorite narrator, continues to capture Charley’s unique and crazy personality, easily jumping from one subject to the next without pause. She has mastered Charley’s sarcasm and sincerity, her passion and her fury. I think the only reason I can keep up with Charley’s ADD lifestyle is due to Ms. King’s masterful performance. And it’s not just Charley, but Ms. King provides a large range of unique voices for...
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Oct
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants Author: Kevin Hearne Narrators: Luke Daniels and Xe Sands Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Seven Kennings #1 Genre: Fantasy Source: Random House Audio A Plague of Giants is the first book in a new fantasy series from one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles). Set in a world where certain members of the population are blessed with Kennings – the ability to manipulate one of the four elements, plants, or animals – although no one has discovered the sixth Kenning (animal control) yet. The six nations of the known world coexist in a tenuous peace; however, that all changes the day that the mysterious Bone Giants attack several cities along the coast. Coming from an unknown land, these warriors dressed in bones, speaking an unknown language, cut down all that stand in their path. A Plague of Giants is the first part of an epic tale. Similar to the first book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the book shares the journeys and battles of the land and its people, ending not at the conclusion, yet not on a cliffhanger, but rather, at a point of rest in between the parts of the whole. This story is shared in two ways within each chapter, both in present day and in flashbacks that cover the past year or so. First, the story is narrated in present day by Dervan, a scholar and historian, friend of the ruling king, and survivor of the Bone Giant attack. Willing to help his country as asked, he gets wrapped up in potential espionage and political maneuvering. From his point of view, readers are able to experience how the war has impacted the various classes of people. Additionally, he gives the story a personal connection – a way to internalize the massive events unfolding before our eyes. Dervan’s primary job by order of Pelenaut Röllend (king) is to accompany Fintan, the Raelech bard, each day and record the knowledge and the tales Fintan shares with the masses on Survivor Field. A Raelech bard has perfect memory recall and the ability to transform shape into the character who’s story he shares. The pelenaut believes Fintan to be a spy of the Triune Council, and wants the details of his day observed. This leads to the second method of storytelling, which is the bard’s recounting of the events of...
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Oct
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries Familiar Motives Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I continue to enjoy the Witch’s Cat Mystery series.  The combination of Ms. James’s words and Ms. Arsenault’s voice create a delightful Mystery audiobook a la Hallmark. This latest whodunit was gripping and fun. Though I’m starting to fear that Anna is a long lost relative of Mrs. Fletcher and no one should want to be near her (okay, this horribly dates me but I loved Murder She Wrote as a child), Anna’s genuine kindness more than makes up for the murders that seem to occur around her.  In this book, Anna’s veterinarian is unfortunately murdered while cat-sitting the town’s famous feline: Ruby (aka Attitude Cat), the spokes-cat for the Best Pet Store cat food, treats, toys etc. line.  Unfortunately Anna and her friend (and fellow coven sister) Kenisha find Ramona’s body but are unable to find Ruby.  Between Ruby’s owners bitter custody battle, Attitude Cat’s publicist’s strange behavior, and Ramona’s own witch family’s strangeness, it was a guess who was the murderer and why. I enjoyed how the story twisted and turned.  Though I was able to narrow down the why, the exact who was a surprise for me this time.  I liked how Anna was better at following rules and being safe during this investigation.  It was fascinating to watch and learn how difficult it is for Kenisha to be both a witch and a police officer.  She has to toe the line between the unexplainable truth and proof in the court of law.  I felt Anna was better at keeping her feet on both sides of the line and ensuring that Kenisha wasn’t left on the sidelines by the coven.  The relationships of the women are just as strong an element in this series as the clues.  It all contributes to the coziness of this mystery series.  Not to mention the slow burning romance between Anna and a certain young bartender. I feel that no one but Ms. Arsenault could narrate this series.  Her voices and personality truly bring the characters (both human and furry) and this world in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to life.  I enjoy the audio so much, I prefer to listen to this series, rather than read it. I eagerly look forward to the...
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