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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
May
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: On the Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased On the Edge is the first story in Ilona Andrews’ unique urban fantasy romance series. The Edge is the place between the Broken (human, non-magical world) and the Weird (mirror world with alternate history and magic-filled). Rose and her two young brothers, Georgie and Jack, live in the Edge, while Rose holds a below minimum wage job in the Broken to try and make ends meet. Everything changes when a Blue Blood from the Weird, Declan, shows up on Rose’s land, while mysterious, evil hounds pick off Edgers one by one. The writing team of Ilona Andrews is one of the best around. Their attention to detail, while weaving a unique and exciting, action-packed tale, results in one engrossing story after another. On the Edge reads mostly like an urban fantasy, but has multiple third-person POVs and features a romance. Declan and Rose are like Curran and Kate (Kate Daniels series) or Rogan and Nevada (Hidden Legacy series). They are oil and water. Noble, calm, alpha male and feisty witty hard-on-her-luck female. Female in trouble and could protect herself, but the male wants and needs to protect. I love the dialogue and banter. Renée Raudman, who narrates all of the Andrews’ titles, works her charm, giving each character a unique, age-appropriate voice. She works in accents, attitude, and emotion to keep the listener engaged. Overall, On the Edge is exciting and full of twists. The authors have created an incredibly fascinating world, filled with complex and engaging characters, coupled with strong storytelling. I look forward to more from The Edge. Story: A Narration:...
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May
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Rumor Has It Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #4 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Kate takes care of everyone but herself. She is practically raising her two younger siblings with little help from her dad. She’s had one boyfriend in the past several years, and continually puts off the full scholarship to attend her dream graduate program in California. She’s had a crush on Grif since she was ten, and she’s trying hard to keep calm while he’s back for her best friend’s wedding. Grif is home for his sister Holly’s wedding, but what he hasn’t told anyone is that an IED explosion in Afghanistan nearly killed him and left him unemployed with a medical discharge from the Army. Now he has to decide if he’ll make peace with his father and his childhood home or head off and leave home, again. Rumor Has It is the fourth title in the delightful Animal Magnetism series. This time around the book features the slow-burning romance between Army veteran Grif and his sister’s best friend, Kate. The pair is adorable and genuinely sweet (Kate HATES to be called sweet!) Kate is tired of all the responsibilities in her life and wants just one wild night for herself, throwing herself at her childhood crush time and time again. Yet Grif won’t bite; he’s been threatened by his sister to stay far away from the vulnerable Kate. However, when they finally do connect, sparks fly! Their chemistry is palatable, and it’s a joy to watch them figure out how they fit into each other’s life. Other than a few poor decisions made by the characters, overall the book is highly enjoyable. However, I did do a major eye roll when Holly INTERRUPTS Kate’s second grade class to talk with her about sleeping with Grif. Not. Cool. Maybe I’m too responsible, but this was above the top ridiculous. I found the narration by Karen White more consistent from book to book, than in the previous books. Her voices for the two primary characters was fitting, adding the right mix to suit the personalities of both Kate and Grif. Her performance of the rest of the cast was also enjoyable. I up’d my listening speed to 1.5x this time around, and found it just right for me. Overall, I am really enjoying my extended stay in Sunshine, Idaho, with its sexy...
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May
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Black Blade #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased/audible Bright Blaze of Magic Bright Blaze of Magic is the third and final story in the wonderful young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy. The book hits all the right marks needed for the successful conclusion of a series: bringing to end the overarching storylines and finishing on a positive note. The story begins shortly after the exciting conclusion of Dark Heart of Magic, with the younger Sinclairs: Lila, Devon, and Felix, breaking into the Draconi Mansion to steal Victor’s magic infused black blades. With the help of new ally Dia, things have gone as smoothly as possible over the past couple of weeks. However, time is up and Victor is ready to make his move against the rest of the Cloudburst Falls Families. Overall, I enjoyed the final adventure in the Black Blade series which brought to close the war between the families and filled in all the details of Victor’s backstory and his dastardly plans. I loved seeing how much Lila has grown over the course of the three books, going from loner to a valued and loved member of the Sinclair family. I also enjoyed seeing her make connections with the monsters around town and learning more about her mother and her own roots. While predictable in where the story would end, the whys and hows were interesting and kept me engrossed in the tale. With that said, I felt that this book was lacking the richness and fullness of the previous two titles. Bright Blaze of Magic focused pretty much solely on the battle between the Victor and the other Families. The book felt like one fight scene after another, with little else. In the previous books, there was a central mystery to be solved, but not so with Bright Blaze of Magic. This, coupled with the amount of repetitious thoughts, actions, and phrases, made the story drag at times, and I found my thoughts wandering as I listened. The narration by Ms. Pressley remained spot on and highly enjoyable. She gives the primary characters the vibrancy of their youthful years without making them come across young or immature. One difference for me this time around; I listened to the book at 1.5x instead of my usual 1.25x. I’m not sure if this is...
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May
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Rescue My Heart Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Rescue My Heart follows Adam Connelly, a veteran suffering from PTSD who works as Sunshine’s search and rescue specialist but hasn’t been on an active rescue since leaving the military. When the one woman he’s ever cared about works her way back into Adam’s life, he has to work extra hard to keep his defenses up and emotional walls in place. After giving up her New York life to move to Sunshine and manage her father’s ranch, Holly is finally finding some happiness. Yet seeing Adam around town is a harsh reminder of the love she once thought they shared only to have him break her heart. However, when her father goes missing, Holly turns to the one man she knows can find him. Rescue My Heart is the third story in the Animal Magnetism series, which centers the Connelly brothers at their Sunshine, Idaho, animal clinic. After absolutely loving the second book in the series, I had a tough time getting into Adam and Holly’s story. First, I was a bit put off by some slight changes in the narrative voices for Adam, his brother Dell, and receptionist Jade. Dell and Jade were the primary couple of book two, with Adam a side character. It sounded like the narrator kept the same voices for the hero/heroine, transferring Dell’s voice to Adam and Jade’s voice to Holly, which gave Dell and Jade new voices. After a while, I didn’t notice the change, but listening to the books back-to-back, it did bug me for a while. Secondly, I struggled with some possible inconsistencies. In the second book, Dell teased Adam, telling him he should sleep with Holly. However, at the beginning of Rescue My Heart, we find out that Holly is married. Additionally, Holly and Adam share a past, and it’s confusing why others aren’t aware of their past. Fortunately, these issues work themselves out, but it frustrated me for a while. Luckily, after these issues worked themselves out, the story gathers a lot of momentum. Once Holly and Adam start their search for Holly’s father, I became engrossed with the book, especially Holly and Adam’s romance. I loved Holly’s determination to make herself happy and how she goes after Adam knowing he may break her heart again....
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Apr
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Animal Attraction Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Animal Magnetism #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Animal Attraction is the second story in Jill Shavis’s enjoyable Animal Magnetism series. Set in the small town of Sunshine, Idaho, the series focuses on the veterinary practice owned by Dell and Adam Connelly. Dell had a rough childhood, going from foster home to foster home, and to this day, hides himself behind humor and one-night stands. Yet from the moment his big-city receptionist blew into his life 18 months ago, Dell finds he cannot stop thinking about her. Meanwhile, Jade ran from her Chicago life all those months ago, finding refuge in Sunshine. Promising her family she’d return, Jade isn’t sure she can afford to indulge in her feelings for Dell. I really enjoyed my second visit to Sunshine, Idaho. Jade and Dell make for a perfect pair. Both are working through past issues and trying to come to terms with growing feelings that they’d rather ignore. Becoming good friends during her stay, the pair realize time is running out and neither wants to say goodbye. Jade’s leaving was a constant weight hanging over the pair, and it was probably brought up one too many times; however I like how the author worked it into the story and around the problem it posed. While Dell’s past is generally known by the reader, Jade’s is not. As her history is slowly revealed to the reader, it could have easily turned into a contrived, stereotypical storyline. Yet, the author doesn’t take the easy path, instead creating a more interesting and well-developed storyline. I enjoyed how Jade and Dell work through their issues together (mostly). Although, for two very intelligent and in-tune individuals, they got pretty stupid with each other there for a while. The narration by Karen White was enjoyable and easy to listen to. I enjoyed her voices, especially Jade’s. Her performance of the males were more spot on this time around, and I liked that she altered her vocalizations enough to give each character his or her own unique sounds. My only complaint comes with previous heroine, Lilah, who seemed to grow a bit stupid and shallow at times, and her voice was equally annoying during those moments. Overall, I really enjoyed Animal Attraction. Although both characters are introduced in the first book, Animal Attraction could easily be enjoyed as a...
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Apr
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love So Hot by Marquita Valentine

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love So Hot by Marquita Valentine Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Book: Love So Hot Author: Marquita Valentine Narrator: Piper Goodeve Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Lawson Brothers #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased What I’m Talking About Love So Hot is a sweet romance and enjoyable listen. Sydney McKnight and Brody Lawson have been best friends for 23 years, but lately both have been feeling a bit more for the other. Unfortunately, neither wants to ruin their friendship, assuming that if they spill their true feelings and other other doesn’t reciprocate, they’d lose a friend. So instead, they play games, hoping to make the other realize how much more they could have. At first I didn’t care for Brody, a ladies man with a girlfriend. It bothered me that he was in love with one person… his best friend, but sleeping with another. However, this resolved itself quickly and actually played out well in the long run. I loved the idea of Brody and Sydney together and found their romance sweet, as well as sexy. It was so painfully obvious to everyone that the pair was in love, yet neither Sydney nor Brody would allow themselves to believe it. This best-friends-to-lovers story is a bit predictable, yet still managed to hit me in the heart. While I was frustrated with lack of communication, I ended up enjoying the book overall. However, there was more than one time that the pair was in the perfect position to share their true feelings, and either one or the other copped out. But I guess the story would have been over quickly without the contrived misunderstandings. I was even more frustrated with how things went down after the truth was finally revealed. I felt that there was no need to continue the couple’s problems once the truth was out, however, the author kept the pair apart, dragging on the hard feelings. The narration by Piper Goodeve is enjoyable at a 1.25x speed. I found her performance of Sydney spot on, giving her a tentative and shy voice with a spark when called for. Ms. Goodeve was able to adequately convey the male characters with a bit deeper tone, however, I didn’t love Brody’s voice as much as Sydney’s. Overall, Love So Hot made for an entertaining listen. A short, small town romance, the story has heart, and even with the frustrating parts, I still enjoyed the book. My Rating: B- Narration:...
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Apr
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Dead Beat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Dead Beat Time goes on and Harry Dresden continues to battle the dark forces that mean to harm the mortals of Chicago. This time around, Harry learns that a group of necromancers are in town to summon a powerful entity and turn themselves into powerful gods. Harry is the only one with the right combination of knowledge, power, and friends to get the ball moving to stop the terror and save Chicago. I rather enjoy listening to the Dresden Files on audiobook, and generally the stories are superb, with Dead Beat being no different. However, I have to say that this one ranks as one of the lesser titles for me. It was very dark, and I found that Harry had to endure and struggle way too much this time around. Overall, the story is a good one, and I like that Harry is learning to rely on friends and his brother more and more. His connection with Thomas is evolving, and they share a great discussion early on in the story. The best part of the book for me, was witnessing Harry connect with someone from his past. It was tender and emotional, and made Harry so real. With that said, I felt like the story spent too much time on Harry’s moral dilemma of getting help from a dubious character. His internal struggles went on and on, resurfacing over and over, and frankly, they bothered me. Harry already struggles so much, with how is perceived, and I really don’t want to follow a series where the character slowly slides down a slippery slope. Additionally, there were just one too many horrible events that happen to Harry. How much can one guy handle? And how can he continue to have lengthy internal monologues while being tortured? While I did find a few issues with the story this time around, the narration by James Marsters was exquisite as ever. I could probably listen to him describe how to build a nuclear reactor and still enjoy it. He has captured all that makes up Harry Dresden in his voice, while able to create distinct variations for each of the supporting cast. All-in-all, I found that I still enjoyed listening to Dead Beat, despite some of the...
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Apr
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Blood Rites Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #6 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Blood Rites Listening to Blood Rites, the sixth Dresden Files story, I found myself in a comfortable spot and enjoying Harry Dresden’s adventures. Jim Butcher knows what works, making each story engaging and unique, but familiar and enjoyable. This time around, Harry agrees to help the sometimes friendly, yet always dangerous, White Court Vampire, Thomas Wraith. The fact that it’s a job protecting a producer of pornographic movies and his crew creates all sorts of humorous opportunities. Along the way, Harry also learns that Mauvre and her Black Court goons are in town to kill Harry. I absolutely enjoyed Blood Rites. Once again, the author pulls together the ideal balance between mystery solving and paranormal hi-jinx and danger. Harry must logically work through the clues to discover who is behind the attacks on his client, as well as employ his magic to protect himself and those around him. There are several new characters added into the mix, but this is balanced by a few familiar characters having significant roles throughout the story. While each book in the Dresden Files has some great twists and reveals, I feel that the one in Blood Rites is by far the best yet. I. Did. Not. See. It. Coming! And I love that it didn’t come across as contrived or forced. Mr. Butcher created a whole new aspect of Harry that I look forward to exploring in future titles. If you have been following my reviews of the Dresden Files, you know how much I love the performances by James Marsters. His work as the narrator is utterly sublime. He is able to put me right into Dresden’s head, yet expertly alters his tone and cadence to fit each of the supporting characters. His work on the series is phenomenal. Blood Rites is another wonderful adventure in the Dresden Files series. Each book builds upon the previous title, allowing Harry to grow personally, professionally, and emotionally. This time around, when Harry could have felt sorry for himself and crawl under a rock, he pushes forward. While each title is a standalone mystery, the author has left open several doors that could spell disaster for or bring joy to my favorite professional wizard. My Rating: A- Narration:...
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Mar
31

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #4 Source: loan Marked in Flesh is the fourth title in Anne Bishop’s amazingly interesting and utterly unique fantasy/urban fantasy series know as The Others. For newcomer’s to the series: you cannot start here, in fact, if you’ve missed any titles, I strongly urge you to read all the books before cracking open Marked in Flesh. This book is the culmination of all that has come before, in the previous three books. The books are all interrelated and build upon one other, making it important to start with the first book in the series, Written in Red. Ms. Bishop has developed a world where creatures known as the terra indigene, or Others, are Mother Earth’s favored creations and the top predators on the food chain. The Others have the ability to shape shift into forms such as wolves, crows, bears, and even vampires, and those are the most tame of the Others. After befriending Meg Corbyn, a special human known as a cassandra sangue, the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard continue to adjust to having a “human pack” within their own, even learning to trust and care about these humans. Tension is at an all-time-high, as Nicholas Spark and his Humans First and Last (HFL) movement become irresponsibly aggressive in attempts to claim the land of the terra indigene. With events occurring simultaneously across the land, the story is shared from multiple points-of-view, with focuses in Lakeside (Meg, Vlad, Simon), Sweetwater (Jackson Wolfguard, Hope), and Prairie Gold (Joe Wolfguard, new Intuits). Additionally, there is follow up from Great Island and Talulah Falls, where there was much action and strife in the previous book. Marked in Flesh is my favorite book of the series by far. Finally, we see all the working parts of the story come together for what looks to be the final showdown between the humans and Others. Ms. Bishop is able to capture the fears of the human pack and Intuits as they process just what it means to face extinction. Conversely, I loved seeing the Others, most especially Simon, struggle with how much human to keep – whether it be human traits, human-run business, or actual humans. The time spent pondering these questions is both thought-provoking and utterly engrossing. Yet it is the characters, who I’ve come to...
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Mar
24

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bound Series Title: The Professor’s Student Author: Bronwyn Green Narrator: Tatiana Sokolov Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Bound #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, BDSM Audiobook Source: Author Once again, I’m excited to have the opportunity to listen to a book from one of my favorite series: Bound by Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman. This time around, I’m listening to the third book, The Professor’s Student by Ms. Green. The story centers around Professor Josie Green, an American archeology professor, who is on a six week summer dig in Ireland, at Professor Declan O’Shaughnessy’s site. The pair have instant chemistry and engaging in a monogamous D/s relationship for the duration of her stay. When I initially read and reviewed the book I wrote: The Professor’s Student falls well within the erotic romance genre, with a focus more in the bedroom and less out of it. I really like Declan and Josie, and their play is sexy, fun, and just plain hot. Ms. Green is a master at crafting sexy, sensual scenes. While I missed some of the more emotional moments that I enjoyed in [the previous Bound stories], I still found The Professor’s Student a wonderful read and a perfect low-conflict, “getaway” story. As for the storyline, my feelings haven’t changed. I really enjoyed the story, and I continued to feel like the book is more passion and eroticism than love. Josie and Declan spend much of their time apart or only in the bedroom, and I wanted to be shown not told that they bonded on a deeper level. With that said, Tatiana Sokolov’s performance added a lot of value to my overall enjoyment of the story. Ms. Sokolov’s narrative voice, which is close to, if not the same as, Josie’s voice, is easy and fitting. Her Irish accented male voice for Declan is superb. I was extremely impressed with constancy and tone of narration throughout the book. Ms. Sokolov brings a lot of emotion – Josie’s embarrassment and shy desire, as well as Declan’s dominating nature – into her performance. In the end, I enjoyed my “reread” of The Professor’s Student and found that I liked it a bit more the second time around. Ms. Sokolov adds much to the story with her performance. Story B+ Narration...
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