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Dec
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas Author:  Jaci Burton Narrator: Samantha Cook Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Tantor Audio Ellie Washington lost the love of her life five years ago on Christmas eve. Pregnant and alone, Ellie moved in with her brother-in-law, who was also hurting from the sudden death of his brother. Nick helped raise his nephew, and the trio grew into a comfortable life. However, feelings have been changing over the past year, and now Ellie and Nick need to decide if they can take a chance on love. Love Me by Christmas is a short holiday romance about second chances. I like how the author set this up. I was concerned about any ick factor because Nick is Ellie’s dead husband’s brother. But the author creates a history, having Ellie and her unborn child move in right after John’s death, providing mutual support for five years, and finally, only in the past year did feelings change… it works. The story is pretty straightforward. Nick and Ellie both care deeply for one another, and sorting out what those feelings are – untangling the bundle of emotions – is messy. Ellie is full of concern over letting go of her husband and that it’s wrong to love his brother. It’s all very understandable and real. However, it gives the pair plenty of hurdles to jump, with little forward movement. And then, after a while, Ellie’s constant consternation becomes repetitive. On the plus side, the narrator does a delightful job, with a solid cadence at 1.5x speed. The narrator’s soft voice suits Ellie well, both cautious and reserved after losing her husband so young. Additionally, Ms. Cook’s male voices are deep enough to sound masculine. Love Me by Christmas is a sentimental, sweet story set around the Christmas season. I did have a few issues with the lack of action and forward momentum, then with Ellie’s constant self-lecturing about how her love isn’t right or that she’s holding back Nick. However, I the love story was still entertaining and enjoyable for the holiday season. My Rating: B- Narrator: B Review copy provided by Tantor Audio About the Book: Some bad girls need a firm hand to keep them in line. Ellie Washington lost her husband in a tragedy five years ago at Christmas. She wouldn’t have made it through her grief if not for her husband’s brother,...
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Dec
6

Review: Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker

Review: Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker Love on the Tracks Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: At only 20 years old, Rowan Andrews is competing in her second Snow and Ice Games (SIGs). She has dedicated her whole life to training for the sport she loves: luge. Entering the games as a medal contender for the United States, nothing can throw Rowan off her game. That is until she meets her celebrity crush, singer Zane Rivera. Zane Rivera, lead singer for an insanely popular boy band, needs a break from his bandmates and the craziness of his life, so when the opportunity arises to surprise his fan, and SIG superstar, Rowan, he takes an impromptu trip to Denver. Once America gets a taste of Rowan and Zane together, they want more, and the pair fake a few dates, hoping to increase their social media coverage. However, the fake dates are starting to feel like the real deal. Overall, I enjoyed Love on the Tracks, and found it to be a solid, entertaining start to this new series. I enjoyed the descriptions and feel of the games and what it means to be a professional/serious athlete. The author does a fabulous job putting me inside the heart and mind of Rowan, learning the ups and downs of such an intense lifestyle. With that said, Rowan was difficult for me to connect with. I like that her sport comes first and that she goes after what she wants without (much) hesitation. She’s strong and unusually mature beyond her 20 years. Yet, I did struggle a bit with her age and maturity level at the start of the book. I suppose because it’s been way too long since I’ve been that age, it was difficult for me to relate to her. But she stays true to her heart and dreams, which I really liked. Zane is a sweet and caring guy; not the typical Justin Bieber asshole popstar. He’s also pretty young, but at 26, and after a decade of touring, he feels like an old soul. He’s perfect for Rowan because he cares and won’t let his agent dictate all of his moves. He’s loyal to his bandmates, friends, and family, so it’s no surprise that he treats Rowan with utter respect. At first it was hard for me to get into their relationship – they felt so young, especially her, but after I got into the story, that all went away....
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Nov
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance Author:  Jim C. Hines Narrator: Rebecca Mitchell Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Series #1 Genre: Science Fiction Source: Tantor Audio When a mysterious contagion turns most of the crew of the EMC Ship Pufferfish into feral zombies and kills the rest, Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is left in charge of the few survivors. As a lowly human, she doesn’t have much access to the ship, but when Mops realizes that Krakau command intends to euthanize the human crew rather than try to save them, she commandeers the ship with the help of her minimal crew. Soon Mops uncovers a danger so big, it threatens the entire Krakau alliance, and she is faced with the decision to surrender or discover the truth. Terminal Alliance is an entertaining space adventure with a spunky heroine who uses her brain and instinct when down and out. While there is much going on, the book focuses on Mops and her adventure. She is a great character: one of those underdogs who is destined for more. The David to the EMC’s Goliath. I love how Mops thinks things through and how loyal she is to her crew. She was born to be a great leader and through this series of unfortunate events, she’s coming into her own. I enjoyed sitting back and listening to Mops figure it all out, never second guessing her analysis. The side characters are equally fun and interesting. They each play their part and through Mops’s leadership, form a team and family. And though working as a team under stressful situations, each character grows and matures. Additionally, the story is filled with silly humor and fun pop culture references. I love the historic human names used like Sherlock Holmes, Marilyn Monroe, Carrie Fisher. The plot of Terminal Alliance itself is engaging. The story evolves as Mops and her crew learn bits and parts behind the bioweapon attack that put her in charge of the Pufferfish. There are many layers that need to be pulled back before Mops and the crew uncover the truth; the final goal and plot. This gradual reveal, complete with twists and turns, kept my interest and pulled me in throughout the entire story. Overall, the performance by Ms. Mitchell is solid and entertaining. She gives just enough variation between the different characters that I was able to know who was speaking just by...
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Nov
27

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan Moonlight Over Manhattan Author: Sarah Morgan Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Harriet Knight has always been introverted, relying on her more confident twin, Fliss, to help her navigate the uncomfortable sea of humanity outside their apartment. But now Fliss has moved out to live with her fiancé, and Harriet has decided it’s time to push herself outside her comfort zone in order to seek changes in her life. She’s put herself on a month-long challenge to do something she wouldn’t normally everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dr. Ethan Black works in the ER of a Manhattan hospital. He’s great at this job, knowledgeable, friendly, and able to put aside the overwhelming array of emotions that can spring up in his intense line of work. But when he meets Harriet who simply twisted her ankle and takes his professional advice at face value, he realizes he’s become too cynical. When Ethan agrees to watch his sister’s dog for a short time and Harriet comes as part of the package, Ethan begins to question his own outlooks on life. Moonlight Over Manhattan is another wonderful romance in Ms. Morgan’s enjoyable From Manhattan with Love series. This time, the story focuses on Fliss’s twin, Harriet, the timid sister who lets Daniel and Fliss take care of her. In the previous two books, we’ve gotten glimpses of Harriet, but in Moonlight Over Manhattan, Harriet is allow to develop and grow. Challenge Harriet, the name she calls herself because of her goal to do something outside of her comfort zone for a month, is full of surprises, doing things that would be difficult for Harriet. But what happens over the course of the book is that Challenge Harriet and Harriet become one. She learns how to be comfortable in her own skin and discovers she can trip up, recover, and move ahead. And Ethan’s genuine joy in seeing this transformation in Harriet is contagious. I found myself cheering for Harriet each time she tried something new. While Ethan is an equal partner in this romance, I feel his storyline is overshadowed by Harriet’s. Not only did it seem he had fewer POVs, but because he has given up on love and the messy emotions that get in the way of his job, we don’t get a lot of emotion out of his POVs. Yet, he’s empathetic and kind, with a bedside manner of a saint. And Ethan is freakishly perceptive, in...
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Nov
22

Review: Vampire Fight Club by Larissa Ione

Review: Vampire Fight Club by Larissa Ione Vampire Fight Club Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Nathan (Nate) Sabine, a rare, daywalker vampire, has worked at an underground fight club for decades hoping to bring it down from the inside, ever since the owner, Fade, killed his wife. But Nate has become apathetic and has lost sight of his need for revenge. He hates himself. Vladlena (Lena) Paskelkov is a nurse at UGH. She’s working when one of the paramedics brings in her brother all torn up. They discover he was killed at an underground fight club. Lena decides to go undercover as a medic for the fight club’s legitimate front, the Vampire nightclub Thirst, to seek revenge for her brother’s murder. Although previously released, Vampire Fight Club is one of the few (only?) Demonic stories I hadn’t read. I absolutely enjoyed diving into the old school Demonica tales. The story is set mid-series, after the original crew have their stories, but before most of the Lords of Deliverance characters are mated. It’s fast, simple, and fun. Nate and Lena share an instant attraction, although it sort of horrifies Lena as she’s not certain if Nate had anything to do with her brother’s death. But their pull is undeniable, and it gives Nate a reason to live again. It also helps Lena fulfill her own shifter needs. Vampire Fight Club is independent of the original series and can be enjoyed as a standalone or introduction to this awesome PNR series. As for fans of Underground General Hospital, this story is an entertaining, sexy addition to the Demonica series. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: When a wave of violence that hits too close to home forces shapeshifter and underworld nurse Vladlena Paskelkov to go undercover, her first stop is a haven of vice—with a dangerously sexy vamp in charge…  Legendary, jaded, Nathan Sabine is the manager of Thirst, a wildly popular vampire club—and secret underground blood arena. But Nathan, a rare daywalker, possesses other, even more explosive secrets, as does his beautiful new medic, Vladlena. The one thing they can’t conceal is the lust that simmers between them… Now, in an underworld divided by revelry and violence, debauchery and vengeance, Nate and Lena will discover which risks are worth taking—and which desires demand surrender… Release Date: November 28, 2017 Publisher: Lyrical Press Series: Demonica #6.5, Lords of Deliverance #1.5 Genre: Paranormal Romance, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley Purchase...
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Nov
20

Review: Most Eligible Bastard by Annika Martin

Review: Most Eligible Bastard by Annika Martin Most Eligible Bastard Author: Annika Martin Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Vicky works hard to provide for her sister and keep their modest life running smoothly, even when it means pretending to be a dog whisperer for the unpleasant and lonely Bernadette Locke. However, when Bernadette passes away leaving her fortune to her dog Smuckers, and Vicky as his regent, Bernadette’s son Henry accuses Vicky of being a con artist. Although Vicky never asked for any of it, she’s not going to let this sexy, rich man push her around. Let the games begin… Although billed as a romantic comedy, Most Eligible Bastard isn’t light and fluffy. Ms. Martin has a dark, wicked sense of humor that I love, but it may not be for everyone. The humor in the book is off beat, silly, sarcastic, and naughty. I love it! And considering Vicky’s past-the issues she’s had to overcome, there is dark in this story as well. While primarily a romance, there is much more going on in the story. I enjoy how the author gives bits and pieces of what happened to Vicky as a teen. Putting together the parts one at a time adds a bit of heightened tension to the read. I know something awful happened, and that history is somehow repeating itself, but without knowing the whole picture, it put me on edge. And honestly, the opening third of the book took me outside my comfort zone. I struggle with stories where a person telling the truth is railroaded into looking like they lied. When the victim becomes the bad guy. The injustice hurts something deep inside me. And this story has it two-fold. First in the back flashes and memories, but also in present day as things are repeating themselves. However, I realized that somewhere along the way, the maddening panic I felt because of the injustice went away because Henry started believing in Vicky. The story was no longer about her fighting for innocence, rather it becomes about Vicky and Henry getting to know each other and finding happiness with one another. Vicky and Henry make the perfect, unlikely couple: kind of like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Henry and Vicky are different sides of the same coin. Henry doesn’t recognize that he has a gapping hole in his life, while Vicky knows exactly what’s missing from her life. I enjoy how the pair grow and...
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Nov
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas Author: John Scalzi Narrators: Wil Wheaton Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Science Fiction Source: purchased As a fan of the original Star Trek, all spin offs, and the movies, I was giddy with the very concept of Redshirts. Primarily following Ensign Andrew Dahl as he begins serving on the UU Capital Ship Intrepid, the story takes listeners on a wild journey that both mocks and glorifies the original TV show. From ridiculous situations that are solved with a mysterious “box” to an abnormally high death count of the newest recruits, the story follows Dahl as he tries to figure out why such ludicrous events keep happening on the Intrepid. With so many references to the original Star Trek, and the overall atmosphere of early science fiction shows, I do not recommend Redshirts to the casual listener. The book bases its entire story on being able to find the humor in some of the situations provided from the original show, and if you cannot understand that, the book may seem pointless. Additionally, the “science” of the story becomes quite involved and difficult to follow, especially if you have no interest in the concepts behind shows like Star Trek. In fact, the characters even joke how they are using the shotty world-building to benefit them. However, I am one of those types who find this all entertaining, so I enjoyed the adventure, laughing out loud at times. One thing that did disappoint me was that the larger picture was left so vague. I know it was written to be deliberately obtuse, but the engineer in me wanted more explanation. Also. The codas. I’m not sure why they were included. The last three sections of the book are told from three different points-of-view of off-ship characters. They don’t have any impact on Dahl and his timeline. However, it was interesting to see how they all connected. As for the narration, I was on the fence about Wil Wheaton. I mean, come on! It’s Wesley himself, bringing to life characters on a star ship. I love that aspect. And Mr. Wheaton does have an entertaining, engaging voice. However, he doesn’t perform the story as much as he reads it. He doesn’t really make much attempt to change voices for any of the characters. He adds some emotions, but I’ve heard better. And a huge issue with Mr....
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Nov
13

Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh Cherish Hard Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Seven years ago, Sailor witnessed a beautiful girl being dumped by her jerk boyfriend, but she ran out before he could get her name. He was enchanted by her beauty right then. Present day… Sailor works hard to get his fledgling landscaping company off the ground. He’s taken by surprise when he sees the woman who has been haunting his dreams for seven years. He’s even more shocked when he discovers they will be working together, closely. Ísa is working to provide a stable home base for her siblings because her “Dragon” mother spends her focus and energy on her business empire. Ísa’s mother manipulates her into working for the family company for the summer where she is to oversee the development of a new business venture, and the sexy landscaper who is integral to the designs. Overall, I liked Cherish Hard. I found the second half of the book highly entertaining and enjoyed Sailor and Ísa’s romance. However, the first half of the book didn’t flow smoothly for me. There were starts and stops. The pace was slow, and I didn’t feel a strong connection to the characters or storyline. I felt the story was going in too many directions – with Ísa’s own life (which is crazy), her best friend, the ex, her teaching job, her mom… It was hard to keep it straight. Plus Ísa was SOOOO wishy washy about her desires and feelings. It was hard to get behind her when I never was certain which direction she was going. The second half was MUCH better than the first half. It almost felt like two different books.  Overall, the story worked much better – Ísa and Sailor spent time talking to one another, time together. We got to see their friendship blossom. There was genuine emotion and a much streamlined story. I loved the pair together and how they wanted to fight for each other. In the end, I enjoyed reading Cherish Hard and continue to look forward to more books set in this wonderful world. I’m guessing the next books will take place several years ahead, as at this point, Sailor’s brothers are too young for their own HEAs. (This book should be considered a prequel to Rock Hard, Rock Kiss series #2). Now that the world is set, I have a feeling the series will only get better from here....
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Nov
13

Review: The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet

Review: The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet The Right Kind of Reckless Author: Heather Van Fleet  Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Right Kind of Reckless is book two in the Reckless Hearts series about best friends and ex-Marines Max, Collin, and Gavin. The first book focused on Collin. The Right Kind of Reckless is the love story of Max and Collin’s little sister Lia.  Max and Lia are star-crossed lovers, in love with each other, but unable and unwilling to tell the other because of extenuating circumstances. Did I buy the extenuating circumstances?  Mostly.  I have a habit of expecting adults to behave like adults, but the truth is they often don’t—especially when they’re carrying around emotional baggage.  Max and Lia are also on the younger, post college side of their mid-20’s. I didn’t especially like Lia.  She used to be the definition of a “good girl.”  There was some kind of serious incident in college which we can guess at, but no specific label was given, and we don’t get much detail around those years of her life. (I did not read the first book so I don’t know if the detail was there.) From what I can tell, she still is a good girl at heart, but she’s found new confidence to deal with her baggage by completely changing her persona and the way she dresses.  It never seemed to fit her no matter how hot Max thought it was.  To me, it felt like she was playing dress up. Max, tries to do the right thing by not acting on his feelings for Lia, out of respect for his relationship with Collin.  But his method for doing this is to become a manwhore.  Numbing? Yes.  Respectful? Not especially.  Max is a little lost and has some maturing to do. Still, we admire his willingness to come to Lia’s aid at the drop of a hat. What I actually liked best about the story was that most of the book was not spent trying to get them together, but how to make it work. From immature beginnings, it’s a mature place to end up. There were a few clichés along the way and rubbed me the wrong way, but not enough to put the book down. Overall, I liked it. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Maxwell Martinez I’m in love with a woman I can’t have, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop myself from...
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Nov
10

Review: Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson

Review: Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson Perfect Gravity Author: Vivien Jackson Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Perfect Gravity is the second book in the sci-fi romance series, Tether.  Overall, I liked this installment though it had a bumpy start. This book begins before the last book, Wanted and Wired, ended.  It was a little disorienting at first as I had thought it was picking up where the previous had ended.  We are given a glimpse of Angela and Kellen reuniting since their young love breakup years before.  We learn why Angela felt the need to help protect Mari and what happens to Angela after the conclusion of Wanted and Wired. Kellen is one of Heron Farad’s crew of outsiders that are working to try to make this crazy world better.  He first met Angela when they were young at a boarding-type school for highly gifted children.  It is there they fell in love.  However, though one may be incredibly intelligent progeny – nothing ever makes one intelligent in love.  Though I felt that the blame of the breakup was a bit smudged, something remained.  They still were deeply in love with each other – even after Angela married her high powered husband and became a Senator. After learning of the death of Angela’s husband, I really liked that no matter how much Kellen burned for Angela, he held himself back. Wanting to reacquaint himself with her as so many years had passed.  There was time where they obviously yearned, but also cautiously stepped around each other as they didn’t want to make a false step.  But once they are tied at the hip to protect Angela and save the world – the passion explodes.  Though Angela had suffered and come to regret ending things with Kellen, her love for him had never ceased.  But the differences in their lives pose one large complication to them being able to have a happy life together. This is science fiction that isn’t weighted down by the science, but framed and grounded in it.  I’m not always sure about the basis of the technology, but it makes sense to me.  The volatile nature of politics, shadowy conspiracies and a race to stop the end of civilization are gripping elements in Kellen and Angela’s journey. Though it was a bit of a bumpy flow, especially with a few huge twists (one that gave me a bit of whiplash), I still liked the overall story.  I enjoyed revisiting...
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