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Currently Browsing: Listen Up!
Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Murder’s a Witch Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #1 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Holly, a powerful witch, has been tossed from the Haven, a secret system of living for paranormals. She’s been placed in a communal home for displaced paras, living in the small town of Beechwood Harbor. Working at a coffee shop to make ends meet, Holly is shocked when she shows up for work only to find her grumpy boss Peg murdered in the back alley. When her best friend is named as the primary suspect, Holly uses her witchy ways to get to the bottom of this mystery. Murder’s a Witch is a fun, entertaining story. This is the first time I’ve selected an audiobook primarily because of the narrator, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the small-town, cozy paranormal mystery with a slight blossom of romance. Even though at first, I found the house infighting annoying, and the characters a bit over-the-top, I grew to like the residents of Beechwood Harbor. Holly is a bit of a mess, and she has secrets, of which we learned very little. Hopefully those answers will come in time, but the immediate mystery of who killed Peg was engrossing. I liked listening as Holly worked to put all of the pieces together. I loved the light-hearted nature of the story, watching friendships develop, seeing Adam’s genuine interest in Holly, etc. Some of the storylines were a bit cheesy – like the vampiress beauty queen, but mostly it is a good mix of fun. As I mentioned, I picked up this story because, while it looked interesting, the narrator is one of my favorites: Amanda Ronconi. She does a wonderful job with the story, creating and maintaining unique and fitting voices for each character. Ms. Ronconi succeeds with the quirky, first-person female lead, and Holly is no exception. I’ve become familiar with most of her voices, yet never did I confuse Murder’s a Witch with another story. In the end, I enjoyed my first visit to Beechwood Harbor. I like that there is still a lot of unknown around Holly, like why she was kicked out of the Haven system, and with town newcomer, Nick… I feel like there is more to him than meets the eye. I will definitely pick up future titles of the Beechwood Harbor Magic...
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Feb
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery The Secret Adversary Author:  Agatha Christie Narrator:  Nadia May Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1 Genre: Mystery Source: Library With the release of the new Kenneth Bragnah Murder on the Orient Express movie, the nostalgia I felt over watching a remake of one of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries has spurred me to finally read one.  All of my experiences of Agatha Christie has been via movies or very short stories.  There is something to be said to listening to a classic novel and reliving it all over again – learning something new and finding out what may have been left out of the film version.  As I wait for the more mainstream Agatha Christie mysteries (Hercule Poriot and Miss Marple) to become available at my library, I discovered a mystery series I’d never heard of – Tommy and Tuppence Mystery series.  Beautifully narrated by Nadia May, I fell in love with the antics of Tuppence and the solidarity of Tommy. Tommy and Tuppence are old friends.  They grew up together and have stayed in touch over the long years.  In their (I’d guess) mid-twenties, they are finding it difficult to maintain a good job now that the war (WWI) has ended.  As they catch up since their last meeting, they decide to start the New Adventures Limited – where they would advertise that they would do anything if the price is right.  Before they are even able to put their advertisement in the Times, a gentleman overhears and offers Tuppence a job.  Thus begins their first gig in their new entrepreneurial endeavor. Tuppence was a breath of fresh air.  I enjoyed her plucky optimism and exuberant spirit.  She balances the more cautious and thorough nature of Tommy.  However, they are both exceedingly bright and clever.  Tommy is exceedingly quick witted and was surprisingly quick when sleuthing out clues or trying to escape the henchmen.  Tuppence is dogged and determined, willing to do anything to sleuth out the clues.  It was delightful to follow their bumbling through this case of murder, espionage, and potential political upheaval.  All woven intricately by the mysterious “Mr. Brown”, an elusive character not unlike Keyser Soze who seems to be the puppet master at the center of this web of deceit.  With the addition of several other characters, Ms. Christie did an excellent job...
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Feb
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: How to Date Your Dragon Author: Molly Harper Narrator: Amanda Ronconi + Jonathan Davis Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Mystic Bayou #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Purchased How to Date Your Dragon is the initial offering in Ms. Harper’s new audiobook-first Mystic Bayou series. The book takes place in modern-day Louisiana, in a world where a limited number of humans know about the existence of the paranormal beings who live among us. The League for Interspecies Cooperation is one group who knows about the paras and is preparing for the day everyone else finds out. Jillian is sent to the town of Mystic Bayou by the League to study how different paranormal species and humans coexist peacefully, and catalog it so that it can be used as a guide for future towns once the general human population discovers paranormals exist. She is sent at the last minute because her boss was injured in an accident involving a unicorn. The town’s folk are generally welcoming of Jillian, most especially the mayor, Zed who is a bear shifter, and Jillian’s love interest: Bael, who is a dragon shifter and the sheriff. However, after she arrives, a few of the paranormals are murdered, putting Jillian in the middle of a criminal investigation. Overall, I really enjoyed listening to How to Date Your Dragon. It’s trademark Molly Harper humor, but a little less snarky. Jillian is smart and kind; she can be precious and darling, but also a firecracker. And Bael is a perfect match for her (and she for him). Bael is gruff, but he cares about the residents of Mystic Bayou, something unique among dragons, making him a bit of an outcast in his family. I love how Bael just jumps headfirst into his feelings for Jillian, even if she’s a bit reluctant. In addition to the romance, the book features a solid mystery. Residents are being brutally murdered, something that hasn’t happened in the small town in years. I like how Bael and Jillian work side by side to solve the crimes. And then there is the aspect of the rift, about which we learned very little, but is exciting, and I hope we get more soon. The narration from Ms. Ronconi is exactly what I’ve come to expect. She hits all the southern dialects and seems to alter her voice just right to fit high-speed Jillian and more laid-back Bael and...
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Feb
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Twinkle Little Star Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #4 Genre: Mystery/Suspense with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Twinkle Little Star is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series as I never know what to expect next. Just when you think everything has gone back to normal…well as normal as it can be for Sage realizing too late she is in love with Marlow, that school and life move on even when you are still mourning your best friend’s death, and your roommate isn’t the bestie she acts like.  Then Sage accidentally kills another student.  She was driving (while a bit emotional) and a woman just suddenly appears in front of her car.  As Marlow arrives on the scene shortly after with Sage’s brother, he discovers that this is not a straight forward case of vehicular manslaughter.  Picking up what he thought was Sage’s phone; he is transported to another location. After glimpsing someone in the shadows he is suddenly back at the scene of the accident.  Was this woman accidentally sent to the wrong location at the wrong time or is something more sinister going on? I am again surprised at how quickly I inhaled the latest Nursery Rhyme Suspense story.  Marlow and Sage’s geeky interests and intellectual endeavors are charmingly addictive.  The competition for the New Scientists Innovation Award was a fascinating element to the plot.  I enjoyed how it brought Marlow and Sage back together and highlighted the tension between Marlow and Dakota’s new relationship.  Marlow brining his father into the mystery revealed even more secrets and reasons behind the connection Sage and Marlow seem to have.  I really enjoyed how the plot flowed and twisted as the mystery was solved but more questions came to light. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage.  The personality of the characters as well as the inflections they provide in their performance assists in bringing Twinkle Little Star to life.  In many ways, I feel that this series should only be heard rather than read.  Both narrators continue to expand and bring this rich and intriguing world to life. I...
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Feb
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Down by Contact Author:  Santino Hassell Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Barons #2 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, 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://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). 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. ======== Simeon and Adrián have been rivals for four years, ever since Simeon was traded from the Predators to the Barons. When the pair match up in a preseason game, the summer after Simeon came out of the closet, Adrián can’t stop himself from making jokes at the expense of Simeon’s sexual preferences. This leads to an all-out brawl, leaving both suspended for six games and forced into joint community service. Can the pair back away from their rivalry long enough to become friends? or more? I have to admit, I struggled a quiet a bit when I first started Down by Contact. I was disappointed the story once again relied on an NFL suspension to make it work (which is what happened in the first book of the series). Additionally, both main characters come off juvenile and immature mostly because of their speech. The characters weren’t clicking for me, and I didn’t feel any sexual tension or connections between the pair like I did in the first book. But mostly, the narration didn’t work for me. I did not care for Mr. London’s voice for Adrián, nor his interpretation of Simeon, and at times couldn’t tell the difference between who was speaking. After taking a short break away from the story and then coming back to it, I found things turning around. As the story progresses, the characters develop and their interactions become more meaningful. I liked the play between Adrián and Simeon when they’re just being themselves. And although everything starts off as a dare and a game, real emotions surface, and I liked that the pair is accepting of what is happening. What shines in the story is Adrián’s self-reflection and analysis of his actions and ideals. And not just about being queer. But on being a better person. About thinking before speaking. About caring for others. His constant contemplation is thought-provoking. I enjoyed seeing him change...
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Feb
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Oversight Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #2 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://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). 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. ======== Entitled, gorgeous, and, (somewhat) oblivious, Holden Payne has been an outspoken champion of The Community all his life. Despite his contentious relationship with his father (who happens to be the most powerful of the founders), his devotion to The Community’s ostensible mission to help “lost” psys who flock to his nightclub in NYC is his greatest source of pride. Or, at least it was, until a series of disappearances and murders occurred on his watch, exposing a more sinister agenda at work. Now, inexplicably the focus of an investigation by the very group that raised him, Holden has been given a babysitter in the form of a socially inept, emotionally vacant—and gorgeous—lumbersexual named Sixtus Rossi. Immune to Holden’s usual charms and psychic abilities, Sixtus presents a serious problem—especially since Holden’s attraction to the man becomes more undeniable by the day. With the discovery of another faction working against The Community straining his loyalties, getting closer to Sixtus could either lead to Holden’s downfall or finally allow him to experience the only real love he’s ever known. Once again, Mr. Boudreaux seems to have put a lot of thought and effort into his performance of Oversight, making both Holden’s cultured purr and Sixtus’ deadpan Bronx accent believable and persuasive. One of the most unique things about Six is his inability to process—or express—emotions based on typical cues. As such, he doesn’t have much of a filter, and I found this narrator’s take on the fact particularly amusing as well as more touching than I might have otherwise. Additionally, the accents reintroduced with return of other characters—Nate’s Texas twang, in particular—could have been tempered in deference to those of the main characters, but that’s not the case here. Each remains distinct and vibrant throughout, providing additional strength to the already solid reading. While I enjoyed this version of Oversight tremendously, I think that reading the book first made me fonder of the overall production than if...
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Jan
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Hard Play series Cherish Hard Author:  Nalini Singh Narrator:  Justine O’Keef Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Hard Play #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Tantor Audio Cherish Hard is the first book in a new contemporary romance series that spins off from Ms. Singh’s Rock Kiss series.  Sailor and Isa’s romantic journey is actually a prequel to the second book in the that series, Rock Hard, which featured Sailor’s older brother Gabriel.  I enjoyed this fairly simple and straightforward romance. If you are expecting the more suspenseful and dangerous edginess of the Rock Kiss series, you will be disappointed.  However, if you are looking for a heart-felt love story of two people overcoming their own internal conflicts – this is it.  I started this novel thinking it would be something different from the previous series, and I was satisfied by the overall story-arc.  We have two characters with seemingly opposing goals with their romance being either an obstacle or a doomed distraction.  Through their fairly slow burning (but mega hot) romance, they fall in love, but worry that the long haul may not be possible.  I found it odd that for all their stubborn determination they both felt that love and a dream/ambition were two opposing goals. The do communicate and come together; however, Sailor and Isa neglect to discuss the foundational point of a long-term relationship once they realized that this was more than just a fling (which I find funny since it was never going to be a fling as neither have that personality).  I understand with Isa’s past history she has this scarred and fragile self-image – but considering where she is in life, I would think that it would have healed, and she would have gotten stronger.  The courage and determination that Isa funneled into her education and career propelled her into great success.  It’s a shame that she doesn’t realize what a strong and caring woman she is.  However Isa’s character is completely shadowed by Sailor.  He is the star of the book, stealing the spotlight with his determination, wit, and animal-magnetism. Though their relationship started slow, once they truly started to connect, the novel flew by.  I also really enjoyed the interactions of Isa’s friend who crossed paths with Sailor’s friend.  I hope we are able to experience their journey as the snippets afforded us are fabulous teasers.  Overall the several mini-plots...
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Jan
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Hickory Dickory Dock Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #3 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Hickory Dickory Dock is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series. After the events of the previous book, Life is But a Dream, I wasn’t sure what to expect next.  Following Sage and Marlow on their summer break wasn’t it.  However, geeks will be geeks and as Sage continued to work on her mathematical theory she finally breaks through.  In trying to consult Marlow about this latest amazing discovery, she inserts herself between Marlow and his burgeoning romance with Dakota.  Though Marlow tries to keep his distance from Sage out of respect for Dakota, all bets are off once he witnesses a murder through Sage’s “window”. I enjoyed that we learned more about Sage and her family as well as Marlow’s.  There were quite a few discoveries, and I liked how it’s obvious their families have had an effect on them (good and not-so-good).  Marlow’s relationship with his mom is bittersweet and the discoveries made in this novel help him to heal.  With Sage’s interference, I’m not sure how Dakota and Marlow will be able to move on, but there is hope.  However, it is sad to note that Sage is feeling a bit of regret in not pursuing something with Marlow, but I liked how she is willing to let it go and work at being friends with Dakota. The future murder mystery Marlow and Sage fall into is utterly gripping.  It was fascinating how far our world had fallen and how plausible the downfall of the United States was.  I was utterly gripped by the dystopian world that Marlow and Sage found themselves in – though how the mathematical equation could equate to a window into the future still baffles me.  However, I can easily ignore it as I was consumed by trying to figure out who the murder was as well as how they were going to get back to their own time.  It truly felt like a race against the clock. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage. ...
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Jan
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Man Hands series Author:  Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby Narrator:  Luke Daniels and Erin Mallon Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: Man Hands #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Brynn’s life sucks. Recently divorced, she left her husband and loveless marriage. The moment the papers where signed, she lost her job as a writing professor, where her former father-in-law was her boss. Stuck in a rut, her BFFs tell her she needs to go for a man that is the complete opposite of her normal type for a single night of fun. And after a couple drinks… she does. Tom is working hard to keep a low profile after his very public break up six months ago. Star of his own home repair show, he’s working on renovating his place in Michigan while the network decides if he’ll get another season. However, he tosses his plans for a year of celibacy out the window when a beautiful stranger throws herself at him at a party. Now he can’t stop thinking about her, hoping for a repeat experience. Man Hands is an absolute joy to experience! Not only is a sweet and sexy romance, but the humor is laugh-out-loud funny. Brynn and Tom are adorable together. Stemming from bad breakups, each has lost confidence in love and relationships. Yet in order to move forward, they must pretend to be in one – which isn’t a hardship for either since they are extremely attracted to one another. It also helps that both are genuinely good people who don’t want to hurt the other. And of course, they have friends pushing them together, which makes for some fun times. The supporting cast is equally as intriguing as the main couple, and I look forward to their stories with anticipation. The authors do a fabulous job of breaking convention and typical romance conflicts with their storytelling. I admire and appreciate the direction they took the story as I listened to it. More than once I was thinking I knew what would happen next – how a character would react to a situation, but the authors pleasantly surprised me each time. What could have been typical is instead sublime! The story is brought to life by the narrators. I enjoyed both tremendously. Ms. Mallon brings just the right amount of perkiness to Brynn. She is able to convey a wide...
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Jan
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One True Mate by Julie Trettel Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Westin Pack series One True Mate Author:  Julie Trettel Narrators:  Carly Robins and Joe Hempel Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Westin Pack #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Tantor Audio One True Mate is the first novel in the Westin Pack series – a new paranormal romance series.  Though the premise was interesting, I feel it fell a bit flat. The mythology of the wolf shifters that Ms. Trettel crafted was interesting.  However the belief that female Alpha wolves need to be destroyed at birth was disturbing.  What I feel was more bothersome is the acceptance by the shifters that this is an acceptable practice.  I find it hard to believe that the females would blindly believe that this was okay.  Maybe if the threat of Alpha females was better conveyed, I could have swallowed plot element better.  But as it seemed, it was a belief that female alphas have no control (and some have special powers that corrupt them). The romantic journey between Kelsey and Kyle was overall satisfying.  The romantic tensions between them as well as witty moments were entertaining.  However, the timeline of their “courtship” was a tad clunky.  We experience their meeting and then fast-forward two years.  It seems that not claiming a mate for this long is completely against the shifter culture.  It would have been interesting to see the tense interactions between them.  Or perhaps it would have been better to have the introduction be a shorter prologue to catch the reader to the now.  I just felt that due to this jump and a few others later on, the story lacked fluidity.  In a couple instances I felt that we missed some important character development/interaction.  That being said, Kyle and Kelsey’s relationship was gripping to watch develop once she understood she wasn’t a lone shifter.  They truly are well paired and I hope to see more of them in the next novel. With the novel written from both Kelsey and Kyle’s point of view, I enjoyed having the dual narrators.  However, I felt Ms. Carly Robins’s narration was stronger than Joe Hempel’s.  It seem Carly did an excellent job of conveying Kelsey’s personality in her narration which added a depth to the story.  Mr. Hempel’s narration was a tad stiff which felt a little in contrast to Kyle’s personality.  That being said, the story was stronger for the dual narrators. Though...
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