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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Feb
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Snowballs in Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Snowballs in Hell One month has passed since Muriel’s encounter with the mysterious Hooded One; the night she nearly died. Her reoccurring, daily nightmares are making her feel weak and worse, shameful. She does not like being afraid of anything. The changes in Muriel are especially tough on her soulmate, fallen angel Auric. He will do anything to protect his love and help her get better. I’m going to say this right up front: Snowballs in Hell is FULL of graphic sex. So much so, that I actually started skimming and forwarding through the scenes. Additionally, due to issues with her sexually-charged powers, Muriel must add another male into her and Auric’s bedroom. While I have no issues with threesomes (also note: this is not a true menáge situation), the way that the threesome came about really irritated me. Honestly, I admired Muriel’s stance on adding another to her existing love life, especially after waiting years for Mr. Right to come along. However, her soulmate felt it necessary to manipulate Muriel into adding another to their bedroom. The fact that Auric blatantly tricks her into the situation made me furious! If the author had instead allowed Muriel to accept her body’s need for sex without the subterfuge, I would have enjoyed the storyline. But the over-the-top emphasis that Muriel would deny herself out of love, which lead to the secret sex plot, ruined it for me. The overall storyline of discovering who is behind the attack that nearly killed Muriel was interesting; however the climatic scene and unveiling of said bad guys left me wanting a bit more. I love how kickass Muriel is, and when she takes charge of her own situations, she’s a wonderful heroine. Add in a touch of humor and sarcasm, and Muriel is one of the best UF characters. However, when she gets wishy-washy, she can be annoying. There was a bit too much focus on whether or not Muriel should sleep with another, but it did tie into the plot. Rebecca Estrella provides a solid and consistent narration. Muriel’s voice is perfect. The array of male voices works for the story. Typically, I tend to enjoy a narrator more by the second or...
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Jan
26

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Last Dragon Standing  Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #4 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio Beginning two years after the conclusion of the previous book, we learn that the dragon-human twins of Queen Annwyl and her mate Fearghus are in danger, and there is a possible coup to overthrow the Dragon Queen, Rhiannon the White. The Queen seeks assistance from her newest ally, Ragnar the Cunning, Dragonlord Chief of the Olgeirsson Horde, a Lightning Dragon. Of course, the Dragon Queen always has ulterior motives in her plans, and this time around, they involve getting Ragnar to “save” and return her youngest daughter, Keita the Viper, to her family. Last Dragon Standing narrates as an unfolding mystery with multiple subplots. The Dragon Queen is a master manipulator and strategist, and we follow Keita and Ragnar as they are forced to unravel the threads the Queen has knotted together. There are layers upon layers of subterfuge, making the plot utterly engrossing. However, the romance of Keita and Ragnar is more of a side story to the main plotlines, and if you want the same steamy, love stories found in the first three titles, you will be in for a disappointment. This story was more about both the human and Southland Dragon politics rather than a romance. And so much happens. We learn more about a pending war, as well as new enemies and allies. This book takes us into a new chapter in the lives of the characters, and with it comes a new maturity of sorts. It left me wanting for more – unfortunately, I don’t know when Tantor will be publishing more on audio! I loved learning more about Keita. She’s a complex dragoness, who is equal parts cunning spy and royal princess. She is BOTH roles – not “playing” one or the other. She’s a royal princess snob, but not because she’s stuck up. She honestly thinks she’s being nice or helpful. It’s not fake. She’s that, but also the dangerous spy and protector of the throne.  Ragnar of the Lightning Dragons is the only one who can see and appreciate both parts of Keita. While their relationship takes a LOT of time to develop, their interactions are always enjoyable. I loved watching Ragnar witness and come to realize who Keita truly is. And while Keita doesn’t change in...
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Jan
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Ghost Stories Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #13 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Ghost Stories Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he’s in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out. After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far. Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along. Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed...
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Jan
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Boston Dragons Series Book: My Wild Irish Dragon Author: Ashlyn Chase Narrator: Felicity Munroe Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Boston Dragons #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Author My Wild Irish Dragon Chloe wants to stay in America rather than return to her solitary life in rural Ireland. She’s worked hard to become a U.S. citizen, and now she wants to help others and her adopted community by becoming a firefighter. As a dragon, she’s well suited for the job. She cannot burn and is preternaturally strong. She just has to learn how to fit in and how not to over do it in front of humans. Ryan also comes from a family of paranormals-Phoenix shifters. His family is Boston-breed and every male in his huge family is a firefighter. He’s worried about embarrassing or disappointing his family if he doesn’t make it at this particular firehouse. Oh and by the way, the chief is his father’s best friend. Chloe and Ryan go out for the same position within the fire department, but since both are so well-qualified, the chief finds the funding to hire both. Although the competition for the job is off the table, the pair continue their little rivalry during training. However soon the pair learn to respect the other, become friends, and fall for one another. I found myself liking My Wild Irish Dragon right from the get go. I enjoyed the premise of two noble paranormals trying to make a difference in their community. I also liked how each fell for the other without knowing exactly who, or what, the other was. Of course the attempts to hide their paranormal status from the other made for some fun laughs. I also loved how Chloe’s innocence and lack of modern upbringing allowed her to be more open with Ryan. Although they have a rocky start, the author does a great job bringing each around in his/her own way. Their relationship development felt honest and deep. While I also enjoyed the several side characters and supporting family members, I didn’t care so much for Chloe’s cousin Aiden and his storyline. His misogynistic attitude and overbearing presence just annoyed me. And when he did something so completely against Mother Nature’s rules, I was shocked that there were no repercussions at all. It felt completely out of character for Gaia as presented in the story. Additionally, while I appreciated that the...
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Jan
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Side Jobs Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #12.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Side Jobs After the cliffhanger-esque ending of Changes, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sift through a “side story” rather than going straight to the next book to find out what becomes of Harry. However, I am so glad I took the time to listen to this wonderful anthology from the Dresden Files. The book contains a set of mostly previously released short stories and novellas, ranging chronologically from before the first Dresden book up to a brand new story that takes place after the conclusion of Changes. The stories cover a variety of subjects and star a range of characters. All but two of the stories are shared from Dresden’s traditional point-of-view, some more humorous than others. I loved seeing Harry react as Harry would in different settings and shorter, less dark adventures. Additionally, much can be learned about those side characters Harry considers friends and family. While it’s very difficult to pick my favorite of the bunch, the two stories not told from Harry’s POV stand out the most. The first is “Backup,” a novelette told from Thomas’ POV, where he must protect Harry from an ancient evil, without Harry knowing he was doing it. The story shares Thomas’ struggles with his vampire monster, and the reader glimpses how much Thomas actually feels under his tough guy, nonchalant persona. The other highlight in this anthology is the final, all-new novella, “Aftermath.” Told from Karen’s POV, we find out what happened the hours after the shocking conclusion of Changes. No only was the story extremely adventurous and exciting, but the emotional content was powerful as Karen and Harry’s friends deal with Harry’s disappearance. Each story is narrated by the fabulous James Marsters, who gets kudos for maintaining consistent voices for a wide range of characters, taking place over the course of several years. I especially enjoyed his work in the two stories not told from Dresden’s POV. Side Jobs is an amazing treat for fans of the Dresden Files and it SHOULD NOT be overlooked and passed by for the full-length titles. While one could read/listen to it at anytime after Changes (if one wants to avoid spoilers), the timing coming after Changes was ideal. It was a great way to review Dresden’s history and life thus far, because things are going to be much different...
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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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