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Currently Browsing: Rating C
Oct
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Ghoul Vendetta Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: SPI Files #4 Source: Audible/purchased SPI agent Makenna Fraser points out that bad stuff always seems to happen around her, and she’s not kidding. The Ghoul Vendetta opens with Mak and Goblin Lord Rake Danescu on a yacht in the Hudson, along side several of the supernatural world’s bigwigs, when it is attacked by a kraken and other sea creatures. What is even more strange is that no one is hurt and everyone is left alone as soon as their target, a vampire mob boss, is kidnapped. Soon after, a familiar foe turns up, robbing banks and threatening Mak’s partner, Ian. Now it’s up to SPI to find the connection and stop a terrible enemy. As a fan of the SPI Files from the beginning, I am sad to say that The Ghoul Vendetta held several issues for me. First, I was disappointed that the first five to six chapters are almost entirely review of the previous three books; explaining the world and highlighting major events. I appreciate that the author takes care to do this, but by the fourth chapter, I was ready for things to move forward. And once again, throughout the book, there is so much repetition. Mak will remark on who a character is or what they like or do a more than once in the book. Another issue I’m struggling with is the relationship between partners Mak and Ian. Yes, I was disappointed when the author chose to keep Mak and Ian platonic friends, but I was glad to see she gave them each a love interest. After the conclusion of the previous book, I was looking forward to seeing Mak and Rake together. However, for much of the book, the story once again focuses on how close Mak and Ian are – but how they are only friends. I’m not buying it. Mak shows way more affection for Ian than her supposed boyfriend, Rake. If the author wants me to buy into the “just partners,” and view Rake as a love interest, then she needs to invest time in the romance. There was some of this in the last parts of the The Ghoul Vendetta, but honestly, it felt awkward and out of place since we really haven’t seen Rake and Mak together other than a few casual...
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Oct
2

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill The Hunt Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Picking up about five weeks after the intense conclusion of the previous book, The Hunt opens with our heroine, the Sensitive Claire, in hiding with Para Moses. Unfortunately, Liam, her boyfriend who was struck by magic in that battle, went into hiding with his grandmother, Eleanor. Even though Claire refuses to ask the resistance leader Malachi about Liam, she is worried for him and misses him. However, their enemy in Containment, Jack Broussard, is dead and the top suspect is Liam. So Claire, Gavin (Liam’s brother), and Malachi head out to find Liam, risking their own safety for the good of the resistance. Devil’s Isle is a solid urban fantasy series set in an alternate world where Paranormal beings have invaded Earth through a breach known as the Veil. The attacking Paras are of a faction that wants to overthrow the existing, peaceful faction in the Beyond. However, most humans see all Para as bad, and fight against any and all magic. The story of The Hunt relies heavily upon the preceding events; therefore, I do not recommend reading it as a standalone story or starting the series with this title. Overall, I still enjoy Claire’s story and the battle to protect New Orleans and the Earth. However, I was disappointed with The Hunt. While I didn’t dislike the overall plot, I found I had difficulty connecting with Claire and pieces of the story. In the previous two books, I was fully engaged, because each character had much to offer. I loved the mystery surrounding Claire’s mother and the budding romance between characters. But this time around, I felt like I was just watching events unfold, rather than participating through Claire. The first third of The Hunt moves slowly, and I felt like we didn’t get into any real story as the trio looks for Liam. There are hints at the eventual storyline, but the interactions with the Paras at the Plantation seemed extraneous, and I felt like that whole journey could have taken a lot less book space. Things pick up after Liam comes back into the fold, but the atmosphere of the group changed dramatically from the previous books. The group is on the run now, Liam is ice-cold, Claire can’t go back to her shop, and some of Claire’s close friends have smaller roles. These changes are all necessary as the storyline develops,...
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Sep
27

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Review: The Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford The Last Gentleman Standing Author: Jane Ashford Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: My understanding is the The Last Gentleman Standing is a re-release that was originally published some 25 years ago. This helped me understand the book so much better. The characters are fun and witty, but the character development isn’t as strong as I like, especially between Elizabeth and Derek. If they are the main couple of the book, why does the author spend so much time telling us about Belinda and the Duke? I also feel like the ending of the novel came out of nowhere. Yes, there are a few hints, but the villain of the story, along with his helper, are poorly developed and so the sudden climax makes little sense. The hero is valiant and handsome. The heroine is beautiful, strong, and charming. All the pieces are in place for a classic, lovely historical romance, and that is exactly what The Last Gentleman Standing is: a lovely little read and a fun diversion for an afternoon, but not something I’d likely pick up again. If you are looking for a sweet, “clean” historical romance full of all the classic elements, balls, courtship, an unexpected heiress, handsome men, and a secret or two, then this is perfect. The Last Gentleman Standing is a book you can share with your adolescent daughter as something that skips the heaving bosoms and torn bodices so common 25 years ago. It is light with a picture-perfect happy ending. However, if you’re looking for strong, well-developed characters that you want to know more about, then you might want to skip this one. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: A fortune hunter’s dream… Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent―a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors. As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her… Originally titled Bluestocking, this story has been unavailable for over 25 years. Release Date: September 5, 2017 Publisher: Sourcebooks Series: Standalone Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source:...
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Sep
13

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James Tripped Out Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: After leaving her well-paying corporate job, Stirling Gradsky took a chance and went into business with her brother. Now they own and operate High Society, a medicinal and recreational marijuana facility. Liam Argent has dedicated his life to understanding the chemical properties of marijuana and loves all the perks of working for High Society. But the constant head-butting and pranking with Stirling needs to end so they can grow the company. While I have enjoyed the other 1,001 Dark Night / Blacktop Cowboy stories, I felt Tripped Out was not on par with its predecessors. First, I felt like I was dropped into the story with no idea what’s going on. It’s written as if I know these characters, but I don’t remember them at all, even though Stirling is sister to London, the heroine in the first novella, and we meet Stirling and Liam in the third book. I felt like I started off kilter and I never found a good balance. It is evident that the author did her homework with respect to the subject matter, and I found the information on the emerging medicinal and recreational marijuana markets interesting. However, I felt that there was way too much information about marijuana use and production, making it feel like a technical report, rather than developing the characters and focusing on the romance. This leads to another issue I had with the story. The characters are big proponents of the use of marijuana, but at times, I felt that they were lecturing me, the reader, taking a holier-than-thou attitude. The two main characters have huge chips on their shoulders and their attitudes are almost condescending. Yet, then the author uses ridiculous stoner stereotypes and actions. And the way they use marijuana to “take the edge off”… needing it at the end (or even during) a stressful day, is reminiscent of an alcoholic needing a drink. As I stated, I don’t feel the author put enough into the development of the characters. While there are some funny moments and sexy situations, overall I found myself annoyed with Liam and Stirling. Their bantering, even when for fun, grated on me most times. Unfortunately, I never felt a strong romantic connection between the pair, making the story okay, but not one I’d read again. My Rating: C- Finished It – Liked a little, didn’t like a lot About...
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Aug
31

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All Author: Jennifer Probst Narrators: Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Billionaire Builders #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Sydney Greene never stopped loving Tristan Pierce, even when he left their hometown to pursue his dreams in Manhattan. Before he left, Sydney discovered she was pregnant, but not wanting to trap him, she let him leave without a word. Fast forward seven years and Tristan is home, reunited with his brothers and making a life for himself. Even though the pair barely speak, his attraction to Sydney is stronger than ever, so Tristan figures it may be time to revisit their once passionate fling. Now Sydney will see if their feelings can overcome the secret she’s been hiding all these years. All or Nothing at All is the third story about the sexy, wealthy Pierce brothers. I absolutely LOVED the first two books, so it is hard for me to say that I had a big issue with this one. First, what I liked… Sydney and Tristan are meant to be, but they always let external issues and a lack of communication stand in their way of happiness. I enjoyed watching the pair finally get over their initial coldness when Tristan returned two years ago. Tristan’s eyes are opened to the woman Syd’s become, and his lust for both her brain and body are genuine. I really enjoyed the first part of the book and felt it was going to be another favorite. However… ****NOTE some of the issues I discuss may be considered spoilerish**** It’s obvious from the get go, there would be an explosion between the pair once the truth about Sydney’s daughter came out. I honestly expected it to get ugly for a bit, and then we’d enjoy learning how the pair gets past the hurt. What I didn’t expect, and frankly didn’t like at all, was the mindset and actions of Tristan once he learned the truth. His hurt drives him to force Sydney into marriage and require her to sleep in the same bed as him. Sure, Sydney still feels an attraction to him, and she doesn’t just stop loving him, but his behavior is unhealthy and too much. It’s beyond my comfort level and borderline abusive in my eyes. He uses emotional blackmail and brings her sleeping body back to his bed every night. I almost...
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Aug
30

Review: Three Player Game by Jaime Samms

Review: Three Player Game by Jaime Samms Three Player Game Author: Jaime Samms Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: While I generally like the Bluewater Bay series, and even though I found the previous story that revolved around these characters (How the Cookie Crumbles, Bluewater Bay #12) to be sweet as well as charming, I was considerably more conflicted about Three Player Game. As intricately tied to its predecessor as it was, I ended up stopping to do a thorough reread—which I actually enjoyed very much—in order to fill in some blanks that came up early in this story. Despite that necessity, however, this resulted in a more severe comparison between the two, which might have done more harm overall. Initially, I had a difficult time reconciling the Lee and Vince in Three Player Game with the conniving and “mousy” (respectively) personalities they exhibited in How the Cookie Crumbles. Early in Three Player Game, Vince claims that he’s more than what anyone else believes him to be, but, his saying so wasn’t enough to outweigh my doubts. It took a little while, but those misgivings were ultimately replaced by varying degrees of fondness for all three men, although Pete and Lee were my favorites. Another problem that I never was able to see past was that both Vince and Pete seemed to view Lee as a target or acquisition—no matter how precious to them he might be. Having said that, the lack of pre-existing definitions, in conjunction with Pete’s raw earnestness, helped make the affection between Pete and Lee feel more honest and easy to me. In contrast, Vince deliberately—though not with any force—overstepped Lee’s boundaries more than once, which kept me from fully accepting their connection as an entirely healthy one. Regardless, the “means to an end” nature of their actions was uncomfortable at times, and affected the entire narrative for me, as a result. Although I had a difficult time with several elements of Three Player Game, there were quite a few things that I liked, as well. One of the most important, I believe, is that the narrative doesn’t gloss over the complexities a polyamorous relationship likely entails. I felt that, while the issues these characters face are worthy of serious consideration, the author didn’t insinuate that they are applicable to everyone. I also appreciated that, while the three men eventually form a cohesive unit, the individual relationships in play within it are unique and must be treated as such by all...
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Aug
7

Review: SEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear

Review: SEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear SEAL Wolf Undercover Author: Terry Spear Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I was very excited when I first learned that Ms. Spear would be intertwining the worlds of her wolf and jaguar shifter stories. Having read so many of both series, combining the two seemed like the perfect next step. And even though there was a good deal that I enjoyed about SEAL Wolf Undercover, I admit that my feelings are somewhat mixed. On the plus side, many of the more prominent things that appealed in earlier stories—including errable but lovable alpha males falling for tough, capable women—are present in SEAL Wolf Undercover. Jillian is confident, strong, and perfectly able to take care of herself. Vaughn is mostly a loner, a little arrogant, and can’t help but be instantly attracted to Jillian the moment he sees her. The feeling is mutual, though, and the inevitability of the two main characters getting together is something of a hallmark of the companion series. Additionally, Ms. Spear incorporates familiar characters and a healthy dose of humor into this new world, which is something I’ve always appreciated. Vaughn and Jillian’s introduction isn’t at all how most couples would get their start, but it creates a running gag throughout the story that establishes surprisingly solid footing for the rest of their relationship. Carrying the original groundwork and characters of the “United Shifter Force” into SEAL Wolf Undercover also provided a recognizable foundation on which additional stories might build. Although SEAL Wolf Undercover is consistent with the others in the series I’ve read, there were a few concerns that made it difficult for me to fully settle into the story. Various technical issues that hadn’t been addressed in the ARC I received for this review were hard to ignore, but will hopefully be resolved in the final version. Repetition of phrasing, occasionally confusing establishment of the chain of events, ambiguity in regards to which character is speaking in some scenes, spontaneous POV shifts, and so forth, all kept the narrative from feeling as solid as some in the past have been. Though it has a rough patch or two, SEAL Wolf Undercover has many other good things to recommend it. Like the other stories, it includes a mystery to be solved, a whirlwind romance, and a loving forever that fans of the series are sure to enjoy. Regardless, the introduction of the groups of shifters has unlocked an expansive set of new...
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Jul
18

Review: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang

Review: Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang Escaping Indigo Author: Eli Lang Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Escaping Indigo is a fairly brief, emotional study of the pitfalls of love, loss, anxiety, and misunderstanding. Micah is living a fan’s dream when he’s hired as a roadie for a band he’s loved for quite some time. But, being with them all long-term on a tour bus alters things, and his perspective of the individual members—Bellamy, in particular—begins to change. Unfortunately, both Micah and Bellamy have too many wounds that are still raw and aching to find an easy path to one another, and trying to hold onto something so fragile could cost them everything. As much as I loved the premise of Escaping Indigo, there were a few things that I had a little trouble with. Micah’s constant worry over Bellamy leads to several moments of repetitive inquiry that made Bellamy seem more fragile than he was in other scenarios within the narrative. I also had some difficulties with Micah’s somewhat contradictory stance on Bellamy’s anxiety. While he claims to acknowledge and accept Bellamy’s determination to deal with his issues on his own, he frequently pushes the idea of therapy (including medicinal treatments, to which Bellamy is adamantly opposed). There were other small issues, as well, but they didn’t stop me from wanting the best for these two characters. Romantically, I generally enjoyed the slow build between Micah and Bellamy. There were moments throughout the beginning and into the central part of the narrative where I wasn’t sure about Micha’s stance on the situation as a whole, but things did fall into place later on. Micha’s awareness of Bellamy outside of their roles as lead singer and roadie was very sweet at times, however, and when they truly connected with each other, the story came alive. Aside from these issues, Escaping Indigo makes several important points about relationships. For starters, people aren’t always what they appear to be. Getting to know someone’s truths can be precarious business, and trying to manipulate the outcome is seldom advisable. Another thing that I appreciated was that it’s made abundantly clear that one person cannot “fix” another. There are myriad problems just waiting for anyone who tries, and Micah treads that line a little too closely more than once. In the end, I’m somewhat conflicted when it comes to Escaping Indigo. On the one hand, there were several things that could have been addressed that would have made...
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Jun
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… The Adventures of Owl series Book: Owl and the Japanese Circus Author: Kristi Charish Narrator: Christy Romano Audio Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: The Adventures of Owl #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Purchased Audiobook review: Owl and the Japanese Circus Owl (former archeology student Alix), is a well-paid antiquities thief. A year ago, she stumbled into the hidden world of supernatural creatures, accidentally killing a vampire in the process. Now she’s on the run, and it looks like her only way out of the mess is to make a bargain with a powerful dragon. Trusting only her best friend, Nadya, and a man who could break her heart, Ryan, she sets off on a dangerous journey, one that most likely will leave her dead. Follow review teammate, Una, raves about this unique and interesting urban fantasy series, so I decided to give it a try on audio. Overall, I enjoy the mythology and storyline behind The Adventures of Owl series. I appreciate that Owl is a flawed human and makes mistakes. She is intelligent, but not always smart, which makes her a more realistic heroine. However, the very things I like about Owl also caused problems for me. She can be reckless and juvenile at times. Her character is inconsistent: at times smart and others not as much. She doesn’t seem to learn from her missteps. For example, the fact that she doesn’t walk away and hide from an online “friend” makes NO SENSE. She’s super careful, private, and protective, yet keeps going back to him, even though he is stalking her. Also, knowing how concerned she is with privacy, how can she NOT have any security lock on her phone? Again, an inconsistency of character. The narration by Christy Romano was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed her narrator voice, which is fitting for the first person heroine. I started listening at 1.25x speed, but upped it to 1.5x after about five chapters. Ms. Romano does well with accents, however, at times they seems to drop. So when the dialogue is quick and clipped, both Nadya and Ryan’s voices sound very much the same. Also, Ryan loses his masculine sound at times, and it sounds like Owl is talking to herself. Overall, I like most voices, but the only voice I’m not fond of is the Red Dragon. It’s described as perfect Western with no hints of Japanese. But it’s too feminine....
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Jun
21

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki The Highland Duke Author: Amy Jarecki Reviewer: Jen Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: The book opens with healer Akira finding the badly injured Geordie on the battlefield. Unwilling to provide his name because he’s a Duke who just rode against Queen Anne’s army, Geordie is smitten with the wisp-of-a-girl who is like an angel. Due to the determined redcoats hunting him, Geordie must take Akira with him as he escapes. Soon the pair is running for their lives, yet neither is willing to walk away. The Highland Duke held a lot of promise, and by the conclusion, I was satisfied with the story. However, a slow and rocky start almost made this book a DNF for me. In the end, I enjoyed the pairing of Akira and Geordie, but it took a long time for me to get on board with their romance. Akira is a young, innocent, poor girl with Romany heritage. This makes her and her family shunned. Yet she remains hopeful and helpful despite those who treat her poorly. She’s a solid character, yet her naivety creates a huge unbalance when matched with the powerful Duke of Gordon. Geordie is weathered and rough. He’s lived a full life, having divorced, fought, etc. He’s easy around the ladies and just comes off so much older than Akira (he is ten years her senior). She’s SOOOO young and naive. She’s a virgin and never been around any man in an intimate capacity. Not even hugged by her father, as he was never in the picture. It was difficult for me to get into their story, for rather than sexual tension and sparks, I saw an “old man” who is lying to a young girl that he lusts after. Another concern I had was that Geordie uses his position as an injured soldier to “tease” Akira. But to me it is sexual harassment as he uses his knowledge and power to put her into compromising positions; ones that Akira feel are improper behaviors. It’s not cute or fun, to me it’s destructive because she is so innocent. It really isn’t until after 50% mark that the book started working for me. Once Akira started standing up for herself and exerting confidence, she becomes her own person—one strong enough to stand up to and match Geordie. While I continued to struggle with her naivety, which was too much for my tastes, she finally becomes a worthy heroine. In the...
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