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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
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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Oct
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hexed Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hexed Having lived a somewhat quiet life hiding out in the East Valley/Tempe area of Arizona, Druid Atticus O’Sullivan has become quite popular after he killed two powerful Celtic gods. Different pantheons have been paying a visit to Atticus, either making sure he isn’t a personal threat or wanting him to knock off rivals. This includes his vampire lawyer, Leif, who is rather rude about wanting Atticus’s help to knock off Thor. However, when Atticus experiences an attack that should have resulted in his death, his attention turns to stopping a wicked coven of out-of-town witches looking to take over the East Valley. Hexed, the second title in Mr. Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, expands Atticus’s world beyond the personal grudges of the Celtic Fae, although he must still deal with the outfall of his battle with Angus Og. I really like how every pantheon, and even multiple versions of each deity, exists in this world. Mr. Hearne is able to build upon what was established in the first book, while creating new and interesting characters and mythology. Even with several new players and mythologies, I didn’t feel confused or overwhelmed. Atticus is a character that could easily walk away from the trouble brewing around him, after all, he didn’t survive for two millennia by heading head-first into adversity. So I appreciate his reason for staying around and helping to protect the East Valley, out of concern for the land that was damaged in the first title. He’s not a noble protector; rather a practical hero, which is genuine and refreshing. However, I am conflicted on his “love life,” which is very much set in the Iron Age – sex is sex, and emotions are separate. As a fan of romance, part of me wants to see Atticus find a woman to be his equal partner and love interest. The interactions with other characters and friendships Atticus develops give the series heart. His relationship with his more-than-a-dog Atticus is both sincere and entertaining. However, it’s his fondness for his widowed neighbor and his respect for her faith that truly made me smile this time around. I love how this 2,000 year old man is a “youngster” to the widow. One thing that I did not care...
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Sep
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hounded Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: contest win Hounded The Iron Druid Chronicles follow the life of a 2,000+ year old Druid named Atticus O’Sullivan (not his given name, but most recent alias). Atticus is the only remaining Druid from a time long gone by, hiding out from Angus Og, the Celtic god of love and youth, who wants to kill Atticus for a perceived wrong-doing. In Atticus’s world, every deity, Fae, witch, and paranormal creature is very real. Posing as a twenty-something new-age bookstore owner, Atticus has remained hidden in the East Valley/Tempe region of Arizona. However, powerful Fae are playing a game of politics, and Atticus finds himself in the center of their machinations. The Iron Druid Chronicles were recommended to me by a couple of my urban fantasy-audiobook friends, and I am happy to report that so far, it’s a winner. Although I was expecting something along the lines of either the Mercy Thompson series or the Dresden Files, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a unique and interesting mythology. This first offering, Hounded, serves to develop the extremely detailed mythology and introduce what I assume with be the key players throughout the series. The primary focus of the story is the impending battle between Angus Og and Atticus, with each step serving to share more of the Iron Druid’s world. Although I would have like a little bit stronger story, the fresh and unique mythology kept me more than interested in the tale. Additionally, I enjoyed Googling the different Celtic deities to find out more about each and add that knowledge to the context of the story. The story (and series) is read by Luke Daniels, a new-to-me narrator. Overall, I felt he did a solid job. His performance as the narrator/Atticus is spot on; a youthful voice, tempered by years of knowledge and wisdom. I also found his voice for Atticus’s more-than-a-dog, Oberon, perfect with a gruffness one would expect from a dog that can (mentally) speak. Sometimes I found Atticus a bit too calm, but not negatively so. Daniels has a nice range for both female and male, human and non-human characters. Overall, Hounded is a good start to an interesting UF series. I enjoyed the world development and character interaction. I really liked Atticus: a...
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Sep
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Small Favor by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Small Favor by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Small Favor Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Small Favor Once again, Harry Dresden, Wizard and Protector of Chicago, finds himself under the service of the Fae Winter Queen, Mab. This time around, she’s summoned him to find newly-minted Baron Johnny Marcone, who was kidnapped by an ancient enemy. However this puts him at odds with the Summer Queen, who has sent her champions to slay Harry. Oh I did enjoy Small Favor, even during the times I was confused and a bit lost. Harry’s world is slowly changing in fits and starts, and I am enjoying the journey. Harry’s fallen angel nemesis is back with an entourage, and meanwhile, he must also fight off the Fae and work with Marcone’s top enforcers. There was a lot going on, and sometimes I needed to rewind and listen again to make sure I had it all. On top of figuring out how to get back Marcone AND stay alive, Harry realizes his friends don’t necessarily trust him. This, along with having Kincaid back in Murphy’s life, created a lot of emotional content, and I will admit that I found myself tearing up (and down right crying) at times. I loved the mix of the strong emotional pulls, strung together with high action, dry humor, and clever storytelling. And I honestly didn’t think that James Marsters could improve his work as Harry Dresden, but I was wrong! There is more than one highly emotional scene in Small Favor, and Marsters elevated his performance to match the content. In particular, there is one extremely powerful scene that brought me to tears as Marsters bellows Harry’s frustrations and fears. You could hear and feel the anger and grief in his voice. Simply amazing. Small Favor brings about more of the changes that seem to be surrounding Harry. I like that his friends have his back, even if it’s in question during this adventure. Although there is a lot going on, carrying some confusion with it, the emotional intensity elevated Small Favor to one of the best in the series. Story: A Narration:...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased After spending the previous book lost in Sleepyhollow with no memories, Charley is back at home and working as a private investigator. Meanwhile, she’s trying to learn more about the three gods sent to kill her daughter, and if Reyes, her beloved husband and the son of Satan, knows he was formed from one of those gods. For those who have followed my reviews, you know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Charley Davidson series. I felt the books became too confusing, with too much going on and some huge inconstancies over the course of the series. Another big issue I’ve always had is the lack of personal growth in Charley and the fact that she would make the same mistakes over and over. So I was a bit surprised that I actually really enjoyed The Curse of the Tenth Grave. It didn’t feel as convoluted as several of the previous titles. Charley was back to solving insolvable crimes, and there weren’t a dozen storylines running at once. But the biggest improvement is that there was substantial relationship and character growth for Charley and Reyes. Things like open communication, helping one another, and trust. Things that should have happened books ago. Additionally, this book cleared up a lot of the mythology, as well. What I didn’t care for was the apparent changing of the rules, again. The little inconsistencies that drive me insane about this series. The convenient way the rules and mythology change to suit the current storyline. Details forgotten or adjusted to fit. Which then got me thinking about open storylines that never closed the loop, or if they did, I missed it. This series is far from perfect when it comes to the little details; however, when the story is strong, as this one was, those type of little issues have a way of melting into the background. So I was able to forgive and move on because I was so engrossed in the tale. Once again, humor is central to Charley’s interactions with all she comes into contact. Lorelei King’s performance of Charley only enhances the wit and humor in the story and strengthens Charley’s narrative voice. Ms. King raises the level of the storytelling and also allows me to forgive and move...
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Aug
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: For 100 Days by Lara Adrian Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: For 100 Days Author: Lara Adrian Narrator: Summer Morton Audio Speed: 2x Series: 100 Days #1 Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance Source: Tantor Audio Avery is a starving artist living in New York, scraping by as a bartender for a trendy club. She hasn’t sold anything in a year and is being dropped by her gallery. Now with an eviction notice looming, Avery gets a gift when Claire asks her to house sit her uptown condo. It’s at her new, albeit temporary, home that she first runs into the powerful and handsome Dominic “Nick” Baine. When the pair meet again at a gallery showing, sparks fly, and Avery decides to ignore her inner warning signs, jumping into bed with Nick. Now she must balance her feelings and the lies she’s spinning until Nick discovers the truth and dumps her. **WARNING, Mild Spoilers Ahead*** I’m going to be brutally honest here, For 100 Days was not what I thought it would be, nor what I wanted in a book. While the story had promise, it definitely falls into the erotic romance side of contemporary romance, which I wasn’t expecting. There are a number of drawn-out sex scenes, and I got bored with it. Additionally, I took issue with Nick telling Avery she doesn’t need a safe word with him. It was reckless, and considering Avery’s history, frustrating that she didn’t have strong reservations. Had I known all of this before I picked up the book, I probably wouldn’t have read it; but I adore Ms. Adrian’s paranormal work and wanted to give this a try. Another issue I had with the book is that it is highly repetitive. Avery is a self-destructive heroine, making poor decisions based on her lust for Nick. She’s constantly reminding the herself, and the listener, that she doesn’t belong in Nick’s world, that she’s lying to him. It was annoying. I wanted her to get over it and own it, which she does eventually, but by then, I had lost interest. However, my biggest issue is SPOILERS AHEAD… ** ** ** THIS ISN’T AN HEA ROMANCE!! That’s right. I listened to the entire book and then found out at the end that Nick and Avery’s story continues to the next book. Avery weaves her web of lies for the entire book, comes clean in the last chapter, and then lies again. I wasn’t happy at all. On the positive sides, I enjoyed...
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Aug
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Still the One by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Still the One by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Still the One Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #6 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Picking up the characters and stories started in the previous title, Still the One shares the story and romance of Darcy and AJ. Darcy is the sister of Wyatt (Then Came You), still recovering from a near-fatal car wreck. Darcy is able to walk and mostly get around on her own thanks to her Wyatt’s best friend, physical therapist AJ. Over the months of P/T, which we first witness in Then Came You, AJ and Darcy have developed a dangerous attraction, but they cannot get along whatsoever. With funding for AJ’s programs on the line, Darcy agrees to a weekend away to help secure additional monies. Now will either be able to survive a weekend together, alone? Darcy and AJ are, in one word, HOT. I loved their chemistry, which was evident in both their sizzling attraction, as well as their tit-for-tat bantering. Both have huge hearts and a lot of baggage, so opening up and letting someone in is very difficult. This is what makes their connection very rewarding as the reader (listener) witnesses the bonds growing stronger with each chapter. Equally enjoyable was the emotionally fulfilling backstories and both Darcy and AJ learn to get past their individual issues. Darcy had a crappy childhood, with parents that don’t really care. AJ got burned by someone he loved more than anything. These are issues each has struggled with for years, and I’m grateful they don’t just magically disappear. Ms. Shalvis rewards readers by having both AJ and Darcy work through the baggage, only to come out stronger in the end. Listening again at 1.5x speed, I throughly enjoyed Karen White’s performance. She instills strong personality into each character, giving everyone his or her own voice. Additionally, she masters the emotional state of each character, providing an enriching listening experience. Overall, I completely enjoyed listening to Still the One. I find that this series seems to get better and better with each story. I especially loved that the book went a little beyond the “HFN moment” and let the reader see the couple together for a bit. While the Darcy and AJ’s romance is standalone, I feel that the reader should at least start with the prior book, Then Came You, to get a good feel for both Darcy and AJ’s...
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Aug
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Olivia Song & Deacon Lee Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Natalie Grayson is the definition of a Manhattan Girl. She loves her island and adores everything about her fast-paced, high society party scene, working girl life. But… there is that hot dairy farmer and her secret dream to live in the country, making cheese. So when Natalie gets the opportunity to work on a Bailey Falls tourism campaign, she jumps at the chance to head upstate to the Hudson Valley town where her best friend, and that hot farmer, reside. Oscar is a man of few words who enjoys his small town life as a dairy farmer and premium cheese maker. However, when Natalie Grayson blows into town, he can’t help but get caught up in her whirlwind and go after this wonderful woman who makes him crazy. Thank goodness, neither Oscar nor Natalie wants a relationship or to fall in love… Cream of the Crop is Ms. Clayton’s second, standalone romance in her wonderful Hudson Valley series. Although the story is standalone, we meet both Natalie and Oscar in the first book, Nuts, and I highly recommend reading it first. Cream of the Crop is filled with sharp humor and lots of steamy sex, but there are also some poignant moments that brought a tear or two to my eyes. I loved the main character, Natalie. She is confident and talented. She’s no-nonsense and takes what she wants. I love that she is pretty aggressive and vulgar. She likes to talk bluntly about sex and what she likes. She also cusses like a sailor. I appreciated that her job came first, and she wasn’t willing to give up her life for a man. And, I am thankful that the author didn’t create this strong character, then tear her down, causing her to run to or need Oscar in the end. She maneuvers around pitfalls with grace and care, learning when to compromise without giving up bits of herself. Oscar is a bit of a mystery, and since we don’t hear the story from his POV, we have to learn about him though Natalie’s eyes. He definitely fits Natalie’s fantasies and gives her lots of emotional support and encouragement. However, Hot Farmer Guy has an ex-wife with whom he has remained close friends. I...
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Aug
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Nuts Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Shayna Thibodeaux & Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio In an effort to escape the small town where she grew up and her mother’s crazy ways, Roxie went to culinary school and moved to LA where she’s started her own business, catering to the stars. However, when her mom needs Roxie, she heads home to Bailey Falls, NY, to run the family dinner for the summer. JUST the summer. What she wasn’t expecting was to enjoy her reacquaintance with her hometown or meeting a sexy farmer who gives her a reason to extend her trip home. Leo left the bright lights and fast pace of Manhattan behind to start an organic farm in the Hudson Valley. He loves his new life and the friends he’s made in Bailey Falls. However when Roxie shows up, his world turns upside down, and he realizes he may want more from life than his friends and farm. Overall, Nuts is a wonderfully written, humorous contemporary romance. The story flowed from start to end; a delightful song with both high and low notes, yet never strayed from its melodious tune. Watching Roxie struggle with finding her own way, examining her past and how it shapes her views, was a joy. The descriptions and imagery Roxie provides through her POV created a three-dimensional world in which I wanted to live. Leo is every woman’s fantasy – kind, loving, good looking, successful, and an incredible lover. Having never given his heart away since his last girlfriend many years ago, it made his falling for Roxie all the more special. Although the story is told only from Roxie’s POV, it was made clear to the listener that he was head over heels for her. As a couple, they are so sexy AND adorable. I loved the banter and innuendos shared between Roxie and Leo. Roxie’s inner dialogue was completely entertaining. I loved how she thought about each reaction and non-reaction she had, picking it apart to try and understand herself. She’s snarky and fun, but thoughtful and generous. Her relationships with her mom and former high school crush, Chad, shared a lot about her personality and created a wonderful community around which she can base her life. Chad allows Roxie to realize she can still be LA Roxie while being hometown Roxie....
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