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May
23

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nothing Serious by Jessica Jarman

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nothing Serious by Jessica Jarman Welcome to my feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Nothing Serious Author: Jessica Jarman Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Bound #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ m/m Audiobook Source: Purchased Listening to Nothing Serious is a revisit to one of my all-time favorite stories. The narration by Greg Boudreaux added emotional depth to this passionate tale. From my original review: The story unfolds organically and beautifully, giving both Jack and Aaron time to figure out what each wants from the other and for his own life. While the couple has a history of amazing sexual chemistry, the two men are in different places in their lives, creating a tension that causes the story to hum and vibrate rather that sit stagnant. It is evident right from the get go that Jack is deeply emotionally attached to Aaron, while Aaron hasn’t really taken the time to realize what Jack means to him. Jack has always accepted this, enjoying their passionate, yet infrequent rendezvous with everything he has. He is fun and gentle, unwilling to push Aaron into something he’s not ready for, endearing him to me so very much. Their dynamic captured me completely, and I was thoroughly engrossed in their romance. At first, the narration by Mr. Boudreaux threw me because his “neutral” narrator voice is an unaccented English accent, sounding very much like Aaron. So when it was Jack’s point of view, I wanted the narrator to have a similar English accent that Jack had. But I got used to the back and forth after a couple chapters. His accents are convincing to this untrained ear. His female voices are higher-pitched and decisively feminine, many strong and matching the characters’ personas.  In the end, I absolutely love Nothing Serious and the timeless romance between Aaron and Jack. The narrator does wonderful job with intensity and non-verbal sounds and cues, bringing the entire experience up a notch.  My Ratings: Story: A+ Narration: A- About the Book: Aaron Stevens likes his life the way it is. As a surgical resident, he is perfectly content with the fact that the precious hours he has outside the hospital revolve around taking care of his mother and sister. He doesn’t have the time or inclination for a serious relationship. So the fact his lover lives halfway around the world and is fine with jetting off to exotic locales a couple times a year for a few weeks of hot sex is as close...
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May
21

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Embracing Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Embracing Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Embracing Magick is the thrilling third novel in The Witch Blood Chronicles.  I continue to be enthralled by the over-arching nemesis plot lines along with Carmella’s own personal journey. This series just seems to get more and more fascinating.  As the novel beings, Carmella is still trying to figure out her own family issues (the identity of her mother and father).  However, knowledge comes with a price.  With her asura side fully released, her inner dragon is now a partner within her and she is discovering what the fine print says.  One of the biggest issues that Carmella needs to work out is that female dragon asuras go through a needing period.  Unlike a normal mating issue, this needing requires the female dragon to find a permanent mate.  Due to the delay in Carmella accessing this side of her nature, her dragon is giving her little time (or options) to find and mate.  Not that she doesn’t have her hands full trying to find out what is happening to the disappearing people – or the foreboding feeling that she hasn’t seen the last of Banner or his evil plot.  However, Carmella is still nursing a broken heart.  She is reluctant to accept the first male her dragon approves of.  I truly respect Carmella as she does some soul-searching before she makes that life-long commitment.  Especially as she is trying to puzzle out if her affection for Paimon is real or a lingering side effect of the binding. The continuing Hindu inspired mythology mixed with the British environment is fascinating to me.  Though I am unfamiliar with this mythology, I find myself absolutely engrossed in this world’s amalgamation of it.  I enjoyed learning more about it as Carmella learned more about her asura nature, training with Vitra.  The different and varied supernatural beings were interesting.  I liked how it seems that Carmella has a knack for being able to not only work with but also assist in getting different supernatural entities to work together.  Nevertheless even with the assistance of Carmella’s friends and the IEUPE, it may not be enough to stop the evil that is coming. Ms. Naqvi continues bring this world and the characters to vivid and perfect life. ...
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May
17

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Defying Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Defying Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Defying Magick is a wonderful sequel to Binding Magick in the Witch Blood Chronicles series.  I enjoyed the continuing saga of Carmella and the unknown threat to humanity. Defying Magick takes place shortly after the conclusion of Binding Magick.  Carmella’s asura power has been unlocked and is surging forward.  As Carmella attends a yaksha gathering with her new friend, Honey, the unthinkable happens.  Beings appear from nowhere and begin to slaughter friends and family.  Carmella tries to help, but there is nothing to be done, most of the yaksha are eliminated.  This leaves Honey as the new Alpha of the pack.  When Carmella tries to offer support as Honey meets with the other pack Alphas, her asura power comes out in a vengeance; in the shape of a dragon.  With her new position with the IEPEU, Carmella is determined to track down the culprit and bring surcease to Honey. Unfortunately it puts Carmella in the culprit’s cross-fire. I continue to really love Carmella; she’s loyal, determined, compassionate, fierce and yet kind. Though the novel is compact, it is not lacking in character development or action.  I really enjoyed following Carmella as she tracks down the person responsible for the attacks while trying to acclimate to the new asura powers and its detractions.  Between her and her friends, the camaraderie is enthralling and endearing.  Though there is a bit of a love triangle, Carmella is smart.  She takes her time to grieve what can never be and take the time to heal before jumping into something too quickly.  It’s tough to not be able to not only relate to Carmella but root for her. It was completely surprising to find out who the ultimate nemesis was.  That being said, the cliffhanger ending was nail-bitingly fascinating and irritating.  Though it appeared that the threat is over, I agree with Carmella that more is to come.  Between the mysterious ending, the surprising appearance of Mira and her surging asura needs, I look forward to knowing what happens next in this series. Ms. Naqiv continues to be the voice of Carmella.  I love her portrayal of not only Carmella’s personality, but he voices and characterization of the other characters. Though I admit the British...
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May
16

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter Dark Queen Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: As what was initially intended to be the final Jane Yellowrock title, Dark Queen had a lot of expectations to live up to. And I think it did so very well. This story moves incredibly fast, especially towards the end, making it at once a little difficult to keep up with in places, as well as the most thrilling of these stories to date.  One of my favorite thing about this series is that Jane has never escaped having to deal with the consequences of her actions. She has made a lot of mistakes, and learned from the various outcomes. Even better, she’s still learning. She’s also still imperfect and conflicted, but, finally, she’s found peace with Beast and isn’t alone.  This was a tough read in both good and bad ways for me. Dark Queen is the culmination of all the twists and turns in the previous stories and ends in no-holds-barred combat between Leo and his subjects and his European former master who’s determined to destroy him and take over everything. As such, the author isn’t kind, and too many specifics here would ruin it. In an effort to avoid direct spoilers, I’ll leave additional opinions on that part alone, since long-term readers will likely want to get all the details straight from the narrative themselves. There were a couple of things about Dark Queen that bothered me, but not enough to diminish my overall enjoyment of the story. Though I’m always left confused by some of the details that are dropped across the Jane Yellowrock tales, the succinct recaps that are provided by Jane digging through her own memory in this case didn’t always help. More critically, I felt that the dangling of hope in certain instances did more harm than good, and wasn’t entirely necessary, but that’s likely a personal quirk, and not something that will affect most other readers. The fact that I still can’t keep track of all the players is actually more of a testament to the author’s skills as a storyteller than a fault, and makes me regret not making a spreadsheet of everything from the moment I started the series. Dark Queen would have been a good, if bittersweet, ending to the Jane Yellowrock series, but the discovery that there will be at least two more to follow made it even better. There were many questions answered...
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May
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl by Orlando A. Sanchez

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl by Orlando A. Sanchez Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl Author:  Orlando A. Sanchez Narrator:  Kevin T. Collins Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Montague & Strong Case Files #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Detective Source: Tantor Audio This second installment in the Montague and Strong Detective Agency series was just as nail-bitingly exciting and humorous as the previous novel.  Though we learn a bit more about Monty, we still do not have the whole story behind Simon.   Full Moon Howl begins as a simple case of a sick werewolf but quickly morphs into something far more sinister; revenge against Monty and all those deemed unnatural.  Monty and Simon must race against the clock to stop the annihilation of paranormal creatures while also keeping Monty from succumbing to the dark side of magic.  While Simon and Monty are tracking down the culprit behind this plot, we meet a few people from Monty’s background. Much to Roxanne’s chagrin, an ex from Monty’s past appears and inserts herself into Monty’s recovery.   With Monty’s love life being in a bit of upheaval, Simon’s on-going romance with Chi is still odd.  Maybe there was a novella or I am just not remembering everything that occurred in the previous novel, but it seems they finally went on a date.  But with everything that happens with Monty, the enraged werewolves, renegade mages and a vengeful dragon, Simon’s plate is pretty full and there was little time in it for him and Chi – except for everyone mentioning “the date” and being suspicious of seeing Simon with Monty’s ex.  Especially since the mage behind the enraged werewolves seems to be hell-bent on not only making Monty look like the guilty party, but also annihilate in him the process.   As in the previous novel, Simon and Monty’s adventure was gripping and thrilling, punctuated with humor and cultural references. I continue to enjoy Mr. Collin’s narration.  He seems to not only capture the personalities of the characters, but convey the urgency and desperation of the situations.  I eagerly look forward to the next novel in this series. My Ratings: Story: B+ Narrator: A Overall: A- Review copy provided by Tantor Audio. About the Book: Mystery. Malice. Revenge. Broken bodies and bloody messages are appearing in the darkest corners of New York City. Infected werewolves are roaming the streets attacking innocents. The Dark Council demands answers. They summon Simon and Tristan to investigate. The...
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May
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Off Kilter by Hannah Reed

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Off Kilter by Hannah Reed Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Off Kilter Author: Hannah Reed Narrator:  Angela Dawe Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Scottish Highlands Mystery #1 Genre: Contemporary, Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Eden Elliot has had a crappy year. Her husband divorced her and her mom died. So best friend, best-selling romance author, Ami Pederson, sent Eden on a 6-month vacation to a small town in the Scottish Highlands, and won’t take no for an answer. Eden not only needs the relaxation, but she’s under contract to write her own romance novel, which happens to be set in the Highlands.  On the plane, Eden befriends Vicki MacBride who is on her way to the same small town for her father’s funeral and to take over her large inheritance, much to the dismay of her half-siblings. Treated as an outsider, Vicki finds little comfort in her new home, and once she discovers the murdered body of the local sheep shearer, she’s considered a prime suspect. Unfortunately for Eden, she’s caught in the middle of the mess, and won’t leave her new friend out to hang. Off Kilter is an exciting cozy mystery set in the picturesque town of Glenkillen. Although the murder mystery is serious and Eden faces true danger, the story is light, as a good cozy mystery should be. I like that Eden isn’t really a sleuth, but has an inquisitive mind, and is only trying to help her friend. She isn’t out to prove she’s more knowledgable than the police, and the local law enforcement is top notch. Even though the murder is the focal point of the plot, the story provides slower moments which are the times we learn more about Eden and her surroundings. She takes time to appreciate the local scenery and befriend the residents, most specifically the hunky stranger who rescues her on the way into town. She and Leif spend a bit of time together, and I hope to see more of the pair in the next title.  One of the reasons I picked up Off Kilter was because of Angela Dawe. While I’ve never listened to a book narrated by her before, I’ve heard a lot of positive things. Since the story is shared from Eden’s point of view, her pleasant voice is used for most of the book, only changing for dialogue. I was very impressed with Ms. Dawe’s work, most especially all of the accents – each a...
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May
8

Review: The Hookup By Erin McCarthy

Review: The Hookup By Erin McCarthy The Hookup Author: Erin McCarthy Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Erin McCarthy is not an entirely new author to me.  I have read and enjoyed—some more than others, several of her contributions to anthologies.  So I’m not sure why I haven’t read a full length novel from her before given that she’s a solid romance writer with multiple titles and series under her belt.  From what I have read, her writing has a certain intensity about it, but that intensity totally shines in The Hookup, the first installment in the Jordan Brothers Series. In this book, McCarthy uses her intensity to accomplish the seemingly impossible in the romance genre—she writes a completely, brutally honest character who is uniquely likable and a seemingly worthless jerk who is, also, surprisingly likable.  Furthermore, there are no real bad guys as main characters.  The bad guys are peripheral, justifying certain emotions and choices, but almost without dialog.  The consequences of their choices interact with the main characters more than the people themselves. It doesn’t seem possible that an author could maintain tension under these circumstances, but McCarthy pulls it off. Sophie Bigelow is a socially awkward academic.  She loves numbers.  She likes problems she can work and solve and get a definitive “right answer.” It’s not fair to compare her to Sheldon Cooper because she’s more real than that, not just a comedic stereotype or punchline.  People are not so easy to solve.  Sophie is not adverse to relationships, but she has no filter and that much honesty can be off-putting.  As a result, she’s made it to her mid-20’s as a virgin. Sophie makes a good point, “When you reach the age of damn near twenty-five and hadn’t relinquished your V-card, the assumption is you’re waiting for Mr. Right, which basically ruins potential relationships before they even have a shot.  Or men assume you’re a freak.  I wasn’t either.” While at their family beach house in Maine for her sister Bella’s wedding, Sophie meets Cain Jordan. It felt a little obvious at the outset that the “bad one” in a set of gorgeous identical twin brothers was named “Cain.“ Even if everyone in the family has a name that starts with “C” how does “Cain” even get on the list?  His mother doesn’t come off as the brightest bulb in the bunch, but she is sincere.  Cain has just cause to be depressed about the circumstances of his life,...
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Apr
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Murder, She Knit Author: Peggy Erhart Narrator: Callie Beaulieu Playback Speed: 1.5x Series: A Knit & Nibble Mystery #1 Genre: Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I seem to be gorging myself on cozy murder mysteries and on that thought, Murder, She Knit is another delightful cozy mystery in a New England town.  This was a fun and light-hearted mystery with sly clues and a fascinating amateur sleuth.  Pamela is an editor for a fiber magazine, allowing her to mostly work from home in Arborville, New Jersey, with an occasional meeting in New York City.  An avid knitter, she founded the Knit and Nibble club.  I’m not sure if it was before or after her husband died (five years ago) or because her only daughter is away attending her first year of college.  It’s a group of six knitters that meet weekly to chat, knit, and use it as an excuse to indulge in a sweet treat of dessert with tea or coffee.  On the night when an old acquaintance is murdered outside Pamela’s house, she becomes intent on helping the police (unbeknownst to them) find the culprit. I enjoyed how Pamela justified her nosing into the case with, “because the police do not always ask the right questions.”  Her keen eye and clever mind serve her well as she methodically eliminates potential suspects.  As a fellow knitter, I really enjoyed the element that knitting (and a knitting club) played in the story.  It was easy for me to visualize myself sitting along with the rest of the club, knitting and chatting.  Pamela’s best friend, Bettina acts as a Dr. Watson to her Sherlock.  The case was fascinating, and I enjoyed following along with Pamela as she figured out the who, what, and why.  It wasn’t until the very end did I finally, like Pamela, put all the pieces together. Bettina and Pamela’s daughter, Penny, were delightful.  There is a very small side plot regarding Pamela and her new neighbor, Rick.  Bettina and Penny are clever in trying to encourage Pamela to start dating.  Though Pamela claims she isn’t ready, Bettina and Penny think so.  With noticing the young ladies leaving Rick’s and his lack of care in keeping up this house he just recently moved into, she doesn’t think he’d tempt her, that and he is too young for her.  Pamela is more concerned with feeding...
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Apr
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The November Girl by Lydia Kang Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The November Girl Author: Lydia Kang Narrators: Chris Chambers and Piper Goodeve Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy/Romance) Source: Tantor Audio The November Girl is a hauntingly powerful coming-of-age story for two seemingly different but truly similar teens.  I was completely enthralled by this bittersweet yet vividly rich story. Hector is a runaway.  Being half African-American and Korean, he never has fit in.  He didn’t with his mother in Korea so she sent him to his father when he was six.  However his father being active in the military couldn’t be bothered so Hector has been living with his uncle.  Though living with his uncle isn’t safe and he wants to live without fear.  So he has worked it out.  If he goes to Isle Royale during winter, the island is closed and he will be able to hide out until his eighteenth birthday.  However, what Hector doesn’t know is that he won’t be alone.  No matter how much he planned for roughing it from October to May, he could never have planned for Anda. Anda is not like other teens.  Living with her father on Isle Royale, Anda is invisible to everyone.  She is half human and half… other.  Every winter Jacob must leave his daughter so she can fulfill her purpose on the island.  She keeps the balance but eventually she will succumb as her sisters did and wholly embrace her mother’s will.  Or it seemed she would until she meets Hector and everything changes.  This is a compelling story of two broken souls that find courage, strength, and the will to change.  Though Anda and Hector seem so different, they are so similar.  Both struggle within the lives they live, they are both straddling worlds while belonging to none.  Though the course of them trying to survive, we learn about not only Anda and Hector, but also about the legend of the November Witch.  As their backgrounds come to light it is heartbreaking the realizations of their lives.   But through this trial, both Anda and Hector come out stronger.  Though riddled with pathos, the ending is hopeful and I loved the terse ending.   Mr. Chambers and Ms. Goodeve’s narration were excellent.  Since the novel changes periodically from Hector’s to Anda’s point-of-view, the changing narrator helped to convey the switch as well as give a different perspective. ...
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Apr
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Softhearted by Kim Law

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Softhearted by Kim Law Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Softhearted Author: Kim Law Narrator:  Natalie Ross Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Deep in the Heart #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Brilliance Audio Heather has a history of falling hard for the wrong man, so she’s been warned to stay clear of the new ranch manager, Waylon, who is “just her type,” a sexy ginger with a shady past. Yet, Heather can’t steer clear and soon the two engage in a flirtatious friendship. Waylon has no interest in correcting the town’s opinions of him being a player who gets around and gambles his earnings away. Keeping his life private, he’s more than ready to find someone special and settle down. He thinks Heather is the one, but can he convince her? Softhearted is a gentle, slow-burn romance that straddles the line between woman’s fiction and romance. While it is the second book in the Deep in the Heart series, I had little trouble picking the book up. I only experienced a bit of confusion at the beginning, trying to figure out what may have happened in the first book and what was just general background information. The book spends equal time between the romance of Heather and Waylon, and establishing their respective lives and individual character development and growth.  What starts out a bit slow, ends up capturing my interest and heart. While Heather and Waylon’s love takes time to develop, it’s sweet and their story interesting. Although at times there is a little bit too much emotional insight that dragged scenes out, I still couldn’t help the sniffles and tears at other points. I really enjoyed watching Heather and Waylon work through and overcome demons from their pasts, learning to love and trust themselves before falling in love with one another. The narration is perfect for the story. Ms. Ross has a large range of voices. I haven’t heard another narrator perform a child so well – and I appreciate that the author wrote an age-appropriate child character. Ms. Ross hits deep masculine tones for the men and soft voices for the the females. I like how the narrator’s voice stays the same regardless of which point-of-view is presented. While some voices may be similar, each was unique and identifiable. The southern charm was quaint and sincere. She strongly portrays male and female characters from 5 to 55.  Although the story started slowly, I ended up enjoying Softhearted as...
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