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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
19

Review: Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne

Review: Highland Conquest by Alyson McLayne Highland Conquest Author: Alyson McLayne Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I haven’t read a historical romance in a while so I didn’t go in over-saturated with the genre.  Highland Conquest (originally titled Highland Bride) was a fun read. In fact, it makes me sad I missed the first one in the Sons of Gregor MacLeod series.  I’m going to have to go back and pick it up before the third comes out. McLayne plans five books in this series, following five boys, fostered by Gregor MacLeod and raised as brothers to strapping warriors and leaders. Even though McLayne is a solid, award-winning author, the Sons of Gregor MacLeod series is her first foray into historical romance.  She hits it out of the park with sexy, feisty, and strong characters—especially Amber MacPhearson.  She’s the kind of loyal leading lady you’re sure you’d be best friends with in real life. Amber is opinionated and will do anything she can to protect her clan from the evil Laird Murray. After being stalked by Murray since she was seventeen, she has determined that she will never marry.  Enter Lachlan MacKay… Lachlan doesn’t want to marry either, but is drawn to Amber even before he knows who she is or what she means to him.  His pursuit of Murray, who murdered his brother, leads him to Amber.  Together they scheme and work for his capture.  Together they have amazing chemistry—although in a refreshing approach, they don’t consummate their relationship until they’re actually married. Of course there’s a whole lotta foreplay before that. The banter is smart and even amusing.  I only stumbled across one line that was so out of character that I marked it.  After circumstances require Amber cut her famous copper locks, this big, kilt wearing warrior says, “Your eyes look wider, and your cheeks…they’re so high.“ Whaaaaat?!  No matter how aware of her he was, there’s no way that though would have even crossed the consciousness of a big, burly Scotsman. But that was really my only criticism.  The rest of the story flowed and reached a satisfactory conclusion. The cover art for this series, while typical with men in kilts—is some very fine men in kilts that are not overly stylized.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that photo shoot… Grab this one up! My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his...
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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
13

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt Going Overboard Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having been born into a Navy family, MA2 Chris Ingram always knew that following in his parents’ footsteps was what he wanted to do. Even though being a coxswain in charge of a ship and progressing through the different rates has made up the last fifteen years of his life, the high-year tenure rules in place mean that he’s running out of time to advance. At least he’s not alone, his best friend (and long-time crush), Dalton, being in exactly the same situation. But, coming out just isn’t in the cards right now—that is, until Chris almost loses Dalton for good. While he may have joined the Navy to get away from his life in Nebraska, Dalton Taylor knew that becoming a Sailor was his calling. Being out and proud hasn’t always been easy, but with the repeal of DADT he doesn’t have to hide, at least. Serving with his friend Chris makes his assignment to NAS Adams just about as perfect as he could have hoped for. Still, nearly dying in a boating accident upends all of Dalton’s best-laid plans, and wanting Chris may not be a secret he can keep for much longe—except that losing his heart to “straight guy” Chris will hurt far more than anything else Dalton’s ever known. Having read all but one of the Anchor Point stories with somewhat mixed opinions, I have to say that Going Overboard is probably my favorite so far. While I had a little trouble accepting that Dalton had no idea at all about Chris’s sexuality after so many years of being best friends, I wanted them to be happy very much. Additionally, the fight that they both have to make under the circumstances surrounding the accident that nearly killed Dalton was highly engaging, and made the bad guys involved extremely easy to hate. I liked Chris and Dalton as a couple very much. A lot is made later on about how both men feel like they’ve been together longer than the calendar suggests, and, in this case, that rings true in the narrative. From the beginning their friendship seemed to be not only solid, but positively drenched in “if I could I would” longing. The author makes it clear that this isn’t insta-love, but something far stronger which culminates in a sexual chemistry that seems to be more of a relief that they’re both...
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Feb
7

Review: Rewritten by Bronwyn Green

Review: Rewritten by Bronwyn Green Rewritten Author: Bronwyn Green Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Forced to work together, Eliza and Angus soon become friends and realize the value in a partnership. Angus needs inspiration and motivation to finish the final and highly anticipated book in his hit sci-fi series, and Eliza is just the one to help bring it all together. It’s a good thing he realizes this within the first week of working together. However, the sexual chemistry only builds as the pair grows closer, and not only is engaging in a relationship bad business practice, but Eliza is hiding a secret so big, it is bound to tear them apart and ruin Angus’s career if word got out. Rewritten is a wonderful romance that hits all of my emotional buttons. I love Eliza and Angus as a couple and found Angus simply amazing and too good to be true; a real dream man. I love Eliza’s strength and how she is stronger with Angus because he believes in her and helps her. The couple has incredible sexual chemistry that boils off the pages; yet the situation warrants much caution, giving their romance an incredibly hot slow-burn. However, once they get to it… *fans self* Ms. Green not only writes characters I care about, but also ones whom I would want to call friends in real life. They come alive in my heart and mind, keeping me connected and engaged in the outcome. She also writes beautiful imagery that brings the story to life. One of my favorites: “With precious little encouragement, it [her submissive nature] was unfurling within her and reaching for him like a vine growing toward the sunlight.” Eliza is the victim of abuse, which shades her actions and reactions. I appreciate that the author doesn’t sugar coat it, or have problems go away once Eliza finds herself in love with a good man. And while I didn’t love how much of a martyr she is a times, it is real. She would feel that way after everything she’s been through. In the end, Rewritten is a steamy, hot, emotional love story. I found myself lost in Eliza and Angus’s story, caught up in their journey. I love that Ms. Green writes books about couples who are perfect matches and people I’d want to befriend. I highly recommend Rewritten. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Betrayed and completely exposed, she’d sworn off kink. Hell,...
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Feb
6

Review: Relief Valve by JL Merrow

Review: Relief Valve by JL Merrow Relief Valve Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Still recovering from the last case he helped solve, as well as trying to settle into his new relationship with Phil Morrison (a private investigator and former bully), psychically-gifted plumber Tom Paretski could really go for some quiet time and a pint or two at his favorite pub. But, between his best friend’s engagement, the death of a family friend, and his sister’s poisoning (at her own engagement party, no less), he’s not likely to find peace anytime soon. Good thing the pints are a viable option, at least. As much as I liked Pressure Head, the first in the series, I had a truly excellent time reading this story. Despite the grim circumstances surrounding the darker aspects of the narrative, I thought Relief Valve was downright hilarious. Tom’s at his best when he finds himself trapped within the failings of etiquette in the face of death, literary duplicity, and romance, and I couldn’t help snickering and cackling all the way through at his expense. I even guiltily found his discomfort with regards to his own affections nearly priceless. Not just a funny bit of storytelling, Relief Valve is also a gratifying suspense. With questions surrounding the target of the crimes in addition to the identity of the perpetrator, there’s plenty to here to keep readers guessing for quite a while. Although I wasn’t really shocked by the ending of the story, getting there was definitely entertaining. One of my favorite things about this story was the developing romance between Tom and Phil. With their backstory a little less glaring, it was easier for me to more readily support them both, even though I could still appreciate the apprehension expressed by Tom’s family and friends. Tom is an endearing character, making their protectiveness seem more understandable. Speaking of wonderful characters—Darren and Gary continue to be two of my favorites, transforming every scene they appear in into a delight. There’s no way to do them justice here, but I absolutely adore them both. Tom’s sister, Cherry, won me over early, as well, and I even developed a reluctant fondness for the “Worryingly,” “Helplessly,” and “Terrifyingly Reverend Greg” (there are twelve of these constructions in my copy—each more amusing than the last). One of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time, Relief Valve is a strong addition to what has so far been an intriguing series....
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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
31

Review: Love Game by Maggie Wells

Review: Love Game by Maggie Wells Love Game Author: Maggie Wells Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I am so the target audience for the this book, I feel like I need to issue a disclaimer upfront.  Love Game, the first book in Maggie Well’s Love Games series takes on love, women’s sports, and broadcasting.  I was a journalism major, played not one, but two sports in the NCAA at a D-1 school, and coached professionally for over fifteen years.  As far as I’m concerned, Wells wrote this one for me. That being said, any woman who loves a smart, driven, dedicated, take-no-prisoners heroine, will love Kate Snyder.  She puts the “hero” in heroine as she fights for her job, her players, women’s sports, and the love of her life. Kate, openly inspired by Pat Summitt, is a four time NCAA national women’s basketball champion coach.  She’s a former Olympian in her own right, but there’s that caveat that rankles all female athletes the world over, “women’s” fill-in-the-sport.  Billie Jean King may have proved our point when she beat Bobby Riggs, but ultimately that didn’t have much effect on funding, did it?  Even in 2017, the big bucks still go to men’s sports.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard about how the men’s sports, especially football, fund the women’s sport programs. But I digress… Even women who aren’t in the athletic industry will appreciate and relate to the fight women have in male dominated work places. Kate’s love story with Danny McMillan was hot and steamy, but almost secondary.  Wells could have left out the explicit scenes and still had a solid story. What they add is a demonstration of the intensity of these two characters, consistent in all parts of their lives.  In that way it makes them more authentic. As indicated in the description, Love Game has alternating points of view.  It is my preferred format in the contemporary romance genre as we get let into the what each character thinks about the other and when. Maggie Wells is a new author for me and her writing style is tight. She has intentionally inserted a fun sportscaster-like lingo and zingers into her characters’ dialog. Their banter is as competitive as their personalities and it creates heat.  Blessedly, they know when enough is enough.  It’s not about always having the last word or the harshest barb.  Wells never crosses the line over into mean.  By the end I was...
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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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