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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Apr
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Match Made in Spell by ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Match Made in Spell by ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Match Made in Spell Authors: ReGina Welling & Erin Lynn Narrator: C.S.E. Cooney Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Lexi Balefire Matchmaking Witch Mystery/Fate Weaver #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I overall liked A Match Made in Spell.  This is definitely a lighthearted and cozy mystery. If you are a mystery fan, as I am, you might be pleasantly surprised by this one.  I’m used to reading murder mysteries.  However, this mystery does not involve a body.  It was actually quite refreshing for the mystery to not involve death.  Lexi is a matchmaker – a very successful one since she has her own “cupids” power.  She is able to sense a perfect match for someone.  What is difficult is making it not seem random or a miracle happenstance that she places two complete strangers together.  One Lexi finds your match, that’s it.  True love and the happily ever after, except for Lemon and her fiancé that seem to have fallen out of love.  Lexi needs to figure out why they seem to be falling apart along with a few other trivial things like awakening her power before it is too late, balancing her four crazy fairy godmothers at home and doing something about her own lackluster love life and keeping her business afloat. One thing I enjoyed about Lexi is she is not a quitter.  Though awakening her magic has eluded her for years, she keeps trying.  I liked her sense of confidence though her ability to be completely distracted was a bit annoying.  The way she would put off looking into Lemon’s situation was odd.  The fairy godmothers were quite entertaining, and I can’t imagine how she has kept their magic hidden considering how crazy they are.  But again, this is more a light-hearted and fun novel.  The animosity between her and her nemesis was fascinating – true friends to enemies.  I wonder if that will be a thread continued through the series.  The romance between Lexi and Kin is interesting and I wonder where it is going to lead.  There are quite a few surprises and twists making this an easy and fun read. I truly enjoyed C.S.E. Cooney’s narration.  She did an excellent job of captivating the personality of Lexi along with providing enough varied voices for the other characters.  It was easy to follow conversations involving multiple characters without getting...
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Mar
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wraith by Helen Harper

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wraith by Helen Harper Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Wraith Author: Helen Harper Narrator: Ruth Urquhart Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Wraith is a compelling urban fantasy story.  A fascinating mix of Fae mythology and an almost post-apocalyptic world woven with an underdog overthrowing the all-powerful evil army poised at world domination (or at least Scotland domination). The novel is centered on Saiya, a lone woman who is trying to stay alive.  In this city under siege, she scraps by day-to-day by trading in secrets.  Though the biggest secret she keeps to herself is the fact that she is a wraith.  Her kind are despised by the world as evil assassins with loyalty to none.  Their innate ability to split their shadow self from their corporal body allows them to move unnoticed in shadows.  However, they still can use power to move things, or kill, while in this shadow form.  However, Saiya is an orphan.  She grew up amongst a population that would kill her if they knew what she was, never meeting another like herself. She learned how to harness and use her wraith abilities on her own.  Never knowing some of the more sinister things wraiths are capable of. Living in Stirling was not so terrible, until a few years ago when the goblin armies went to war and the mostly human city became besieged by the goblins.  The people living there became captives if they were lucky, otherwise tormented, abused, and executed by the goblins.  Except for the most wealthy (most of who fled the city), the people left are scraping by on meager rations.  The setting is grim with Saiya and the rest of her neighbors doing their best to get by.  When one of her more trusted neighbors is taken prisoner by the goblins, she helps the young daughter left behind to escape capture.  Saiya is going to try to rescue her mother and hopefully get them both safely out of the city. What Saiya doesn’t quite count on in this mission is Gabriel de Florinville.  This Dark Elf is powerful and well connected to the government of Scotland.  He enters the city to check-in on the resident population and ensure they are being treated well.  We witness through Saiya the tricks and ploys the goblins use to hide the poor treatment from Gabriel.  For example, taking down the gallows and turning it into...
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Mar
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery Partners in Crime Author:  Agatha Christie Narrator:  Hugh Fraser Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #2 Genre: Mystery Source: Library I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this second novel in the Tommy & Tuppence series. However, I should have never feared.  Though the time had jumped forward a bit, I enjoyed the eclectic nature of the series of mini-mysteries. Partners in Crime is an apt title as Tommy and Tuppence go under cover as… detectives.  Yes, after their success in the previous novel, her Majesty’s secret service request they take over the Blunt’s International Detective Agency to squirrel out more secrets and plots.  After being young newlyweds for a while, they feel they are ready to take on this exciting challenge, especially as Tuppence is feeling restless and a bit bored with life.  While they wait for the villains to make their move, Tommy and Tuppence fill their days with taking on real cases and solving them.  It was really delightful how the story progresses.  I enjoyed watching Tommy and Tuppence work together and at times at odds – trying to outdo the other. Hugh Fraser does an excellent job of bringing these characters to life; Tuppence’s effervescent personality and Tommy’s cautious nature.  He easily varies his voice as well as consistently making it easy to discern different characters.  His performance enhanced my enjoyment of this novel. For fans of Agatha Christie, I recommend this novel and the Tommy & Tuppence series.  It’s a more lighthearted mystery/detective genre.  I especially enjoy listening to this series as Hugh Fraser narrates it.  Considering the bit of a hint for the next chapter in their lives, I look forward to the next novel. My Ratings: Story: A Narrator: A Overall: A About the Book: Tommy and Tuppence Beresford were restless for adventure, so when they were asked to take over Blunt’s International Detective Agency, they leapt at the chance. After their triumphant recovery of a pink pearl, intriguing cases kept on coming their way: a stabbing on Sunningdale golf course; cryptic messages in the personal columns of newspapers; and even a box of poisoned...
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Mar
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Squirrel on the Train Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2 (Iron Druid Chronicles) Source: Purchased Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries is a seriously funny series of novellas told from the point of view of Oberon the Irish Wolfhound, faithful companion to Atticus, the Iron Druid. This time around Oberon and his furry companions discover a squirrel (the most evilest of creatures) that followed the gang from their home into the city, staying on the train the whole ride. Of course, knowing the squirrel is up to no good, the dogs chase it down, leading the gang smack dab into the middle of a murder investigation. Kevin Hearne is a mad genius for coming up with such hilarious and creative adventures for Oberon and his buddies. Having the mystery shared via his POV is masterful and so much fun. Even if don’t read the Iron Druid Chronicles, I think you would find Oberon enduring. But for those familiar with this extra special wolf hound, the story is amazing. The overall mystery is interesting and ties in some surprising aspects from Atticus’s past. I love how the hounds bring their own brand of sleuthing to the case, which truly wouldn’t have been solved without them. The humor is off the charts funny. But it’s Luke Daniel’s performance that makes this clever story an absolute joy! He has such unique voices for each character, developed and honed over the course of at least a dozen stories. I love that his character voices remain distinct and intact over the course of years. I found the audiobook of The Squirrel on the Train to be a breath of fresh air and the perfect answer to this cold and snowy day. My Ratings: Story: A Narration: A+ About the Book: Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human...
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Mar
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Lake Silence Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The World of the Others #1; The Others #6 Source: Penguin Random House Audio Spinning off from and taking place several months after the conclusion of the original Others series, Lake Silence shifts from the activities of the Lakeside Courtyard, to a human settlement, Sproing, located in the Finger Lakes region of the Wild Country. The story centers on Vicki DeVine, a recently divorced human who received a rundown, rustic “campground” known as the Jumble in Sproing as her settlement. After suffering ten years of emotional and mental abuse by her ex, Vicki enjoys a quiet life rebuilding her property. However, when her tenant, Aggie Crowe (a member of the Crowguard), discovers a dead body on the adjacent property, Vicki and her lodge become the center of much attention, with Vicki a suspect. Soon Vicki finds herself entangled in a fight with her ex and his partners to keep the Jumble. And Vicki also discovers she has a number of Other allies, bringing her face-to-face with the predators living around Sproing. Lake Silence introduces readers to an entirely new set of characters, location, and a new species of Other; however, there is mention of a few key players from the original series. And although the book doesn’t open with the “history of the world” as did the previous books, there is enough backstory and history woven into the plot that a newcomer to the series could enjoy the book without having read the first five books (but you should!) The narrative is first person when shared by Vicki, with all other characters shared in third person. There is a bit of jumping back and forth between characters and locations, with each perspective adding a piece to the larger picture. I was a bit apprehensive when starting Lake Silence, because I had grown to love the residents of Lakeside and was concerned I wouldn’t like moving away from Meg, Simon, and the gang. I’m happy to report that my concerns were for naught. I quickly became attached to Vicki, Aggie, and the other residents of Sproing. The story starts with the same premise as the original series: a damaged girl/woman being hunted/harassed, while the Others, Intuits, and humans rally to protect her. Yet, even with the similarities, the story is fresh, exciting, and engrossing. Vicki may not be able to...
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Mar
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Djinn Haven series To Catch a Stolen Soul  Author: R.L. Naquin Narrator: Chandra Skye Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Djinn Haven #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio I’m so glad that I picked up this new urban fantasy series, Djinn Haven.  Kam’s adventure was funny, fascinating and intriguing.  Left with a bit of a cliffhanger of intrigue, I cannot wait to listen to the next novel. Though To Catch a Stolen Soul is a spin-off from another of Ms. Naquin’s series, I did not feel as if I was missing out on any back story.  That being said, with the freshness of this world, I’m interested in picking up the previous series, Monster Haven.  The world is rich with a mix of paranormal creatures, the Hidden.  Kam is a Djinn soul chaser.  It’s her job to chase down souls that for whatever reason when released from their bodies did not move on to the next realm.  Kam is very much a free spirit, only ensuring she has what she needs.  She’s tough but tenderhearted and compassionate.  I liked how she didn’t rely on her powers as much as her own ingenuity.  Her humor and crafty intelligence is endearing as it is intriguing.  Though not a detective, she finds herself in the role and not doing a half-bad job of it. The plot of the missing reaper and murdered Hidden food-truck operators was compelling.  The darker moments offset by Kam’s wit.  The detective narrative flowed well and though the culprit was fairly easy to puzzle out, there were plenty of twisting nuances that kept the novel gripping.  Plus, we also have Kam’s mysterious intended that is trying to find her while she is trying to stay on the run.  I’m further intrigued by the “Master” that held Kam as a prisoner (think genie in a bottle – only for Kam it was a box).  The relationship she cultivates with the fellow food truck operators along with her own hitchhiker adds richness to the overall feel of the novel. Ms. Chandra Skye’s narration was complimentary to the personality of Kam.  I enjoyed how she not only conveyed the story but added depth to the personalities of the characters.  Though her voice, I was able to immerse myself in the world.  I look forward to listening to more of her performances. As I said, I eagerly look forward to the...
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Mar
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Binding Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Binding Magick was something entirely new to me and I absolutely enjoyed it.  Ms. Cassidy wove an intriguing and gripping urban fantasy mystery full of mythological characters that were fresh and enthralling. Carmilla is a dud of a witch, a disappointment to her witchblood mother, and pretty much ignored by the witchblood community until she unwittingly accepts a bargain with a Djinn.  She then finds herself with power she never knew, but also a new purpose – to help find the entity responsible for kidnapping some of the Djinn’s people, as well as Carmilla’s friend (boss and landlord), Ovashi.  Carmilla is a very down-to-earth strong but compassionate character.  I loved her personal mission to assist those down on their luck.  Her dedication to the shelter is only an example of her desire to make the world a better place.  Even with the amount of magic at her fingertips, it was tempered by her humanity.  I really connected with Carmilla and her feeling of being a disappointment.  Her strive to make a difference even if it wasn’t via powerful magic. Her determination to help even before it directly affected her. The story flows well, the mythology is rich with a more Eastern twist on supernatural creatures and gods.  The nature of her bargain with the Djinn was also deeply fascinating.  I enjoyed how complicated things became for both of them.  Part of me wishes I had read this novel as many of the words were a bit foreign, leading me to believe that the author may be British, not to mention difficulty hearing the nuances of some of the Eastern sounding names.  Please excuse any and all misspellings in this review as I am spelling them phonetically and mean no disrespect. At first, Ms. Naqvi’s voice was a bit surprisingly high.  Most of the female narrator’s I’ve listened to have mostly been more altos.  However she truly captured the personality of Carmilla.  Her natural high voice conveys some of her innocence and compassion that would not be conveyed by the previous narrator’s I’ve heard.  The other various character voices were well done and easily distinguishable.  I look forward to her being the voice of Carmilla in the upcoming novels. If you...
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Mar
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Holter Graham Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Alpha and Omega #5; Mercy Thompson World #15 Source: Penguin Random House Audio With Bran away, Charles is charged with looking after his pack. Danger strikes close to home, endangering the Wildlings, lone wolves who are too wild to be part of the pack, but remain under Bran’s protection. Unable to reach Bran, Charles and Anna are left of save and protect the Wildlings while trying to uncover who within the pack is a traitor. While Burn Bright is the continuation of Charles and Anna’s story, the series on whole is deeply connected to its sister series, the Mercy Thompson series, and this story takes place following and refers to the events in Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10/#14). Bran remains away after helping Mercy escape her captors in Europe, but lied about his location to Charles. So when things go sideways and Bran is unreachable, Charles begins to suspect more is going on than a random attack on isolated wolves. I mostly enjoyed the story as it alternates between Anna and Charles’ POVs, revealing bits and threads that begin to show something larger happening around the pack. The series is at its best when Anna and Charles are in sync, working together to solve a bizarre mystery. And although Charles and Anna work separately for a bit, the trust and love they share makes the pair much stronger than the individuals. And watching them try to figure out who is attacking the Wildlings while trying to understand what secrets Bran has hidden for them to uncover was exciting and engrossing. We meet several new characters that I hope turn up in books down the road. Unfortunately, there is one part of the book that really bothered me, even though I tried hard to understand why Ms. Briggs would have included it. Specifically it has to do with the relationship between Bran and his foster daughter, Mercy, who doesn’t even make an appearance in the story. Anna and Charles discuss the bond between Bran and Mercy, and the impacts to Bran’s own mating bond with Leah. The implications are upsetting and disturbing, and I feel there was no reason to include it. However, I did enjoy learning more about Leah (later in the book) and her motivations. It made her character more relatable and three-dimensional. The story is...
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Mar
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Montague & Strong Case Files Tombyards & Butterflies Author:  Orlando A. Sanchez Narrator:  Kevin T. Collins Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Montague & Strong Case Files #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Detective Source: Tantor Audio Tombyards and Butterflies is a well-balanced mixture of humor and action/drama in this new urban fantasy detective drama, the Montague & Strong Case Files series.  I look forward to listening to the next adventure of Simon and Monty.  Please note that since I am listening to the story, names and other terms may not be the correct spelling as printed. The premise and the world is an interesting mix of fae creatures, vampires, werewolves, and magic users that are mixed with mythological gods and entities.  For example one particular important character is Karma.  Yes, she is “the Karma” and she doesn’t care for how most people refer to her.  There is a connection between Karma and Simon – something with his past that binds them in a way they both dislike.  The blending of these different characters was compelling – especially as it appeared that lines between them could blur. The story begins by following Simon on a job, and we learn a bit about him as well as the world.  The story is told from his perspective and I like his personality.  There are similarities that evoke a bit of Harry Dresden, but only shadows – a compliment from one author to another.  This story felt wholly its own, unique and fascinating, as well as action packed.  Though I feel that there are some fairly strong backstories missing, those of Simon and Monty especially.  I hope we will learn more about them individually as well how they met and teamed up.  The “not-a-relationship” between Simon and Chi is also very interesting.  There might be more information that I missed simply by being so caught up in the story; those tid-bits may have flown over my head.  I look forward to listening to this novel again and hoping to fill in some of the pinprick holes. Mr. Collins did a fairly good job with his narration.  His natural pace was faster than most narrators I listen to, so I had to reduce my listening speed to 1.25x.  However, I still feel as if the story flew by – it was so exciting.  It felt as if Mr. Collins was just as swept away, as...
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Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Sightlines Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #3 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://thesaltminers.tumblr.com/post/171680546960/the-santino-hassell-debacle). 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. ======== In this third, and final, addition to The Community series, author Santino Hassell brings all the conflict and suspense that has been building since the beginning to a compelling and satisfying end. As both prize and project, Chase has been the realization of the darkest machinations of the Community itself his entire life, as well as the common thread between all the other characters we’ve gotten to know so far. Additionally, Chase and Elijah have been favorites, if captivating unknowns, throughout the many twists and turns of the series, so I thought it especially fitting that this part of the arc is theirs. While I had a little difficulty keeping track of how much time passes in the very beginning of Sightlines (which is fitting, since time is a means of control on the farm), the speed with which the plot starts unfolding takes effect fairly early in the narrative. What’s been done to Chase all his life is completely abhorrent, and I found that hearing his perspective in the audiobook version was as devastating as it was during my initial reading of the story. Elijah, too, has unhealed wounds, inflicted by people who should have loved him, making his hidden strengths the inverse—yet perfectly matched—answer to Chase’s necessarily unacknowledged need for support. Narrator Greg Boudreaux likewise sees the series through with just as solid a performance as when he began. With all the characters reuniting for much of the story, eventually leading to an emotionally fraught and fast-paced conclusion, his ability to maintain each distinctive voice was more impressive than ever. His unflinching portrayal of the sometimes wildly shifting emotions of the characters was equally noteworthy, and he remains one of my favorite performers. Although The Community series has been a departure from most of Mr. Hassell’s other stories I’ve read, I believe it is an indisputably successful one. Common themes such as greed and fear are explored in an entirely different way in...
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