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Dec
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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