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Jan
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Ghost Stories Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #13 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Ghost Stories Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he’s in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out. After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far. Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along. Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed...
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Jan
16

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt Afraid To Fly Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’ve read quite a few titles by this author, many created under various pen names, and have always enjoyed her writing very much. The first story in the Anchor Point series, Just Drive, also received a lot of good reviews, even though I missed it when it was released. So, I was a little disappointed when Afraid to Fly gave me a fair bit of difficulty. One particularly significant stumbling block for me came from the use of dueling first person POVs throughout the narrative. Although each chapter is titled to reflect whose perspective is being presented, the story still became confusing, especially during longer strings of dialogue. Travis and Clint have such similar experiences that things frequently got muddled when they were together. This wasn’t a constant issue, but it happened often enough that I had to reread several scenes in order to clarify who was saying what. In addition to the above, I had a difficult time accepting Clint’s decision to tell Travis about the incident that led to his downfall and the destruction of his marriage. So much was made about the repercussions attached to it, clearance levels, and nondisclosure agreements that kept him silent for so long that Clint’s sudden about face seemed “off” somehow. Although, I was still glad he was able to get that secret out in the open. There were other issues that affected my submersion in the story, including Travis’ repeatedly stated cynicism about the future of their relationship. Additionally, Clint “comes out” to his office associates during the very first scene, but is worried on other occasions about what his ex-wife would say if his bisexuality was discovered. Lastly, while penetrative sex certainly isn’t necessary, I found it odd that Travis was determined to push his physical limitations in several other ways (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, the bi-annual health screening, etc.), but not when it came to his intimate moments with Clint. Far from being entirely negative, however, there was also a lot to appreciate about Afraid to Fly. For a start, both main characters are in their 40’s, which is both rare and interesting in my reading experience. The same similarities that presented themselves as pitfalls in one context made the connection between Travis and Clint seem even more valid in another. Many of the issues that our military have to live...
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Jan
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: My Wild Irish Dragon by Ashlyn Chase Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Boston Dragons Series Book: My Wild Irish Dragon Author: Ashlyn Chase Narrator: Felicity Munroe Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Boston Dragons #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance Source: Author My Wild Irish Dragon Chloe wants to stay in America rather than return to her solitary life in rural Ireland. She’s worked hard to become a U.S. citizen, and now she wants to help others and her adopted community by becoming a firefighter. As a dragon, she’s well suited for the job. She cannot burn and is preternaturally strong. She just has to learn how to fit in and how not to over do it in front of humans. Ryan also comes from a family of paranormals-Phoenix shifters. His family is Boston-breed and every male in his huge family is a firefighter. He’s worried about embarrassing or disappointing his family if he doesn’t make it at this particular firehouse. Oh and by the way, the chief is his father’s best friend. Chloe and Ryan go out for the same position within the fire department, but since both are so well-qualified, the chief finds the funding to hire both. Although the competition for the job is off the table, the pair continue their little rivalry during training. However soon the pair learn to respect the other, become friends, and fall for one another. I found myself liking My Wild Irish Dragon right from the get go. I enjoyed the premise of two noble paranormals trying to make a difference in their community. I also liked how each fell for the other without knowing exactly who, or what, the other was. Of course the attempts to hide their paranormal status from the other made for some fun laughs. I also loved how Chloe’s innocence and lack of modern upbringing allowed her to be more open with Ryan. Although they have a rocky start, the author does a great job bringing each around in his/her own way. Their relationship development felt honest and deep. While I also enjoyed the several side characters and supporting family members, I didn’t care so much for Chloe’s cousin Aiden and his storyline. His misogynistic attitude and overbearing presence just annoyed me. And when he did something so completely against Mother Nature’s rules, I was shocked that there were no repercussions at all. It felt completely out of character for Gaia as presented in the story. Additionally, while I appreciated that the...
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Jan
11

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane Marry Me on Main Street Author: LuAnn McLane Reviewer: Ang Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: As usual I enjoyed my time back in the picturesque Cricket Creek. Walking Main Street with its Christmas decorations and light covering of snow was the perfect way to spend my holiday. The characters were fun and flirtatious, the setting perfection and the chemistry spot on. That being said i did have a few issues with Marry Me on Main Street. For starters: the title. I can’t tell you why I have issue with it without spoiling the novel, but if you read the book, I think you’ll understand the reason for my annoyance. You can’t just title a novel for the sake of alliteration. Second, as in past novels, I felt like the secondary romance between John and Betsy got the short end of the stick. Yes, I did get told how things ended, but I got no details. The lead up is great, the banter between them fantastic, I was told both their back stories, but then BOOM! Big. Black. Hole. Nothing! I turned the page and it was Christmas and everything had been resolved. How? What was the process? Seriously! Give me details!! Third, Danny and Susan. Oh how I adored them. They are sweet and funny, I laughed out loud in Barnes and Noble several times, and it got me lots of looks. But I couldn’t help myself; the humor caught me off guard and was so funny I had to laugh out loud. However, towards the end I felt like they lost steam. I understand that Danny was working through things with his family, but couldn’t I have been included in some of those conversations? Just like with John and Betsy, we got the “foreplay” but skipped the “climax.” (every pun intended) It’s like a magic wand was waved in various parts of the story and therefore no details were needed. This is very much unlike Ms. McLean, and I didn’t care for it at all. You’ve invested me in these people, their lives and their future so give me the details as they reach a resolution. Don’t assume I’ve read previous books and know that Danny’s family operates they way they do. Show me. Despite the above issues, I did enjoy Marry Me on Main Street. It was a fun, flirty, lighthearted romance and the perfect way to spend a cold winter day. If you’ve never been to...
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Jan
10

Review: Two Stories from the Legendary Consultants series by Abigail Owen

Review: Two Stories from the Legendary Consultants series by Abigail Owen A Ghost of a Chance (Moon, Mist & Magic Anthology) Legendary Consultants #2.1 This is a short and sweet story about Josey and Brice and what is really a second-chance at romance.  We haven’t met these characters before in the series, but their story is a quick and fun read. Gikany and Una liked that Josey and Brice had a history.  It made their connection and journey that much more believable.  The fact that Josey tries to hide her abilities (because who would believe she sees ghosts) makes sense, especially considering how sensitive she is.  Though it was short, we did enjoy the chemistry and romantic romp between them.  The plot of finding and saving Josey’s brother was compelling and we enjoyed the banter and humor of it. Though the ending was a bit abrupt, we did enjoy this story and look forward to more in the series.  If you enjoy some light-hearted paranormal romance, this might be the series for you.  A Ghost of a Chance would be a great introduction. Our Rating: B, Liked It Psyched (Good Things: An Urban Fantasy Anthology) Legendary Consultants #2.2 Psyched was a quirky little novella about a translator who hears more than you think and things she shouldn’t.  Gikany and Una liked this paranormal lighthearted cloak and dagger thriller. Quinn is an interesting woman.  As a psy she can understand any form of communication.  While working as a translator she overhears the discussion of human trafficking, but not just any humans, gifted humans like Quinn.  Through Delilah (the owner of Legendary Consultants) Quinn connects to a group that will hopefully thwart the plans of the traffickers and save those imprisoned.  Quinn was once a victim of people like that and she decides to do whatever she can to help. Daniel Cain is the leader of the (extra) special forces group that will work to bring down the trafficker’s ring.  The paranormal abilities that the four men have all compliment each other making them an effective team.  With Quinn’s help, they should be able to discover the location of the ring and bring them down.  However, plans never go as easy as planned.  Yet with the increasing connection between Daniel and Quinn, they won’t rest until they can thwart the bad guys. We liked the connection between Daniel and Quinn.  Though there are a few quirky plot points, the story overall flowed well and ended nicely.  We really enjoyed their journey and the overall...
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Jan
9

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind Hooked on Trouble Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: It’s been sixteen months since Raven and Nico shared something special that fateful night in Aspen, and now that she’s living in his city, she needs to forgive his broken promises and move on. With a fresh start in Vancouver, Raven plans to find a job she loves, start a planning business with her two best friends, and find her older sister, Rose, who left home 17 years ago when Raven was only nine. Nico acknowledges that Raven has every reason to be pissed and hold a grudge after he promised not to hurt her back in Aspen, yet he walked away without an explanation. He desperately wants her and needs to get her alone so he can tell her about his family’s troubles and why he broke his promise. And maybe this time, they can explore and deepen that special connection they both felt. After absolutely loving the first two books in Ms. Siskind’s Over the Top series (A Fine Mess is my favorite read of 2016!), I was eager to read Raven and Nico’s story. Unfortunately, Hooked on Trouble became the victim of too much anticipation and unfair expectations on my part. While I enjoyed the book, it just didn’t grab me like the previous books did, and I found myself unfairly comparing the other couples’ stories to Raven and Nico’s tale. Even with my frustrations, there were many things I enjoyed about Hooked on Trouble. What I did love was the unadulterated attraction Nico and Raven shared. It went well beyond physical. They both knew right from the get go in Aspen they had a connection that was special. I liked how open they were together; the sharing makes their relationship special and unique. I loved that Raven could not hold on to her anger when Nico was around her. I also liked Nico and his family. Ms. Siskind uses his interactions with his mom, brother, and sister, as well as his inner-monologue, to showcase the type of guy he is, including his own fears and insecurities. While not fair, I couldn’t help compare but Raven and Nico to the previous couples; however, Nico and Raven are DARK with DARK histories. They are not light and silly. They are sarcasm and tattoos. I think this darker side and seriousness weighed down the story too much. While I adored their chemistry and their cutsie...
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Jan
9

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin It Happened in Scotland Author: Patience Griffin Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I have a soft spot for stories set in the British Isles.  When I think of some of the movies I love, it’s no surprise that The Quiet Man, P.S. I Love You, and the wonderfully quirky The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain are in the top ten.  The scenery is as significant as the story—even part of the story.  I was inclined to like It Happened in Scotland by its location alone. Griffin made a bold move by setting her story during the cold winter months that do not hold the scenic glamor of spring and summer. The bitter winds off the ocean fit the sad, if hopeful beginning to It Happened in Scotland. Rachel had a bad marriage to Joe, Brodie’s cousin.  The two were as close as brothers, and both loved Rachel.  Rachel, not really knowing her own mind at the time had come to Scotland for the wedding.  That’s when she met Brodie and fell in love with him.  Still, she went through with the wedding and lived to regret it.  The couple were in the process of getting a divorce when Joe died unexpectedly. Years later, Rachel is returning to Scotland so their young daughter can get to know her father’s family and country. Rachel realizes almost immediately that she wants a second chance with Brodie who has been simultaneously missing and hating her for six years.  I wanted more about Brodie besides his broken heart and the guilt he carries about loving his cousin’s wife.  What’s Brodie doing out on his fishing boat?  In January?  What does he do with his haul each day?  There’s a discussion about him being able to support a wife and family, but in what manner?  Does he smell like fish or the ocean?  We needed more Brodie details. At its heart, this is a story of second chances.  There was a lot of denial, questioning, and not enough romance between main characters Brodie and Rachel.  It needed about 50% less angst and 30% more description of the scenic town that was so dear, Rachel wants to call it home.  Where’s the verbal brochure? (Probably in the first five books.) Still, Griffin is occasionally wonderfully insightful and I liked her writing style. In the strictest sense, It Happened in Scotland can be read as a standalone book,...
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Jan
5

Review: Nico by Sarah Castille

Review: Nico by Sarah Castille Nico Author: Sarah Castille Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I was going to start off 2017 with a DNF. It’s super rare that I do that. I’m sure the NetGalley version I received for review needed some polish before hitting the shelves. Normally, I can turn off my editor brain—and maybe it’s really not any more than normal, it’s just that I’m super sensitive to awkward wording, extra words in sentences that should’ve been deleted, and missing words. I found myself rephrasing sentences in my head several times, which interrupted my reading flow. Or, maybe I’m just irrationally irritated by stuff right now. I liked the story so much I took a peek at the sample on Amazon. **blinks** The dozen or so errors I’d marked by the time I’d reached 13% weren’t there, for the most part. So, I bought a copy. I liked the characters and the plot enough to care. Still found some stuff I couldn’t let go of as I read, but the story was good enough the couple dozen or so things I did find didn’t bother me quite as much. Part of the reason I paid for a copy when I wasn’t sure I’d 100% be able to make it through the book was because I **really** liked Mia. Her strength and bull-headedness reminded me of the me I wanted to be. That Dee in my brain. The one who was the little devil on my shoulder egging me on to do something outrageous or to buy an outfit that would make me stand out instead of blending into the crowd. Although, I don’t know whether I would’ve stood out in a good way or not. I can identify with Mia regarding her family situation, too. I am definitely on the fringes—I use a pen name when I write because it would be embarrassing to my family, and I don’t want my parents to have to explain away their smut-writing daughter. I felt a kinship with Mia that made me root for her—and her relationship with Nico. Seriously? A Mafia boss? I haven’t really read a lot of Mafia fiction. I did my fair share of researching, watching biopics, and basically stalking Al Capone during a period in my life, though. I have an affinity for Sinatra, Sammy, and Dean (and thank god for Michael Buble for the revival!). I’m all about the couture of the 50s and rockabilly, too—my...
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Jan
4

Review: The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy The Edge of the Blade Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Since meeting Jepp in The Twelve Kingdoms series, Gikany and Una have been eager to experience her happily ever after.  After The Pages of the Mind, we were intrigued to see how Jepp would handle going from bodyguard and warrior, to spy and diplomat.  Overall we liked her story even though it was more of a cerebral than an emotional journey. Gikany and Una love this world, especially as the series has expanded to include other kingdoms and cultures.  Although we were given a glimpse of the Dasanarian culture in previous books, it is nothing like being immersed in it.  Considering the heavily male dominated culture, Jepp is completely and utterly the wrong choice for a diplomat.  Despite being an excessively skilled and talented scout and soldier, she is not subtle.  However, Ursula chose her for a reason (most likely guided by her Dasanarian consort, Harlan) and had quite possibly planned to use her as a backup if Daphne failed.  Jepp is a clever woman, and is able to complete her mission, even though it does not go as she anticipated.  As the novel closed, we were surprised by the turn of events are eager to see what happens next. We did have trouble connecting with Kral, Jepp’s lover.  He is most definitely a product of his upbringing and culture.  Although, if his brother Harlan could change, we had hope he could as well.  Even though Ms. Kennedy redeems him by the end, we never felt the emotional connection between Jepp and Kral.  Although the emotional connection wasn’t there for us, seeing the cultural differences and watching a man realize the glaring flaws of his culture was gripping.  Despite loving Jepp because she was so different from the women of his culture, Kral still seemed to (until the VERY end) want to place her into a slot of his world.  This is something that would have made Jepp utterly miserable. Although The Edge of the Blade started a tad slowly, it was a rocking roller coaster by the end.  The overall story, and the cultural and political storylines were gripping even if the emotional connection for the reader between Jepp and Kral was muted.  We continue to love this series and look forward to the next book. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: A HAWK’S PLEDGE  “The Twelve Kingdoms...
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Jan
2

Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy Kill Without Shame Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Five soldiers became five brothers when they were held in Taliban prison for weeks of brutal torture. It’s been over two years since returning from the war, and now the men run a successful security firm in Texas. Lucas St. Clair, hostage negotiator, comes from a wealthy, well-connected family who expected him to be a big-wig statesman. Yet after his time as a POW, Lucas left his manipulative family for his brothers-in-arms, founding ARES Security. However, when high school friend Anthony “Tony” Hughes was murdered near ARES offices, Lucas is drawn back to his hometown of Shreveport, LA, and face-to-face with Mia Ramon — the one that got away. Mia Ramon has come a long way since she last saw Lucas St. Clair, taking over her father’s small lawn mowing business and turning it into a successful landscape company. She doesn’t have time for Lucas to waltz back into her life after he broke her heart 15 years ago. Yet, when she learns that her friend Tony was murdered with a photo of her in his hands, she realizes that Lucas may be the only one to help her find Tony’s murderer. Once again, Alexandra Ivy weaves a suspenseful tale that captured me from page one. Kill Without Shame is the second story in Ms. Ivy’s ARES Security series. Although there is a small overall story arc, the romance and mystery are very much standalone, with no connection to the first book. Lucas and Mia’s story is gripping and sweet. The romance and suspense are well balanced. I liked that Mia and Lucas had a strong history, which gave their romance solid footing in the perilous situations. And there was little confession of feelings at inappropriate times – something that is a huge pet peeve of mine for romantic suspense titles. Lucas and Mia had a friendship and attraction that was easy to rekindle because neither ever got over the other. The author does a wonderful job establishing their backstory, filling it with strong emotions, which gave credibility and strength to the situation. While Lucas wanted to be all alpha-caveman, he listened to the good advice of his friends, meeting strong-willed Mia on middle ground when it came to the investigation. And both were upfront about lingering hurt from the past, allowing them to quickly move past the pain and onto the future. The mystery of who shot Tony...
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