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Apr
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Blood Rites Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #6 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Blood Rites Listening to Blood Rites, the sixth Dresden Files story, I found myself in a comfortable spot and enjoying Harry Dresden’s adventures. Jim Butcher knows what works, making each story engaging and unique, but familiar and enjoyable. This time around, Harry agrees to help the sometimes friendly, yet always dangerous, White Court Vampire, Thomas Wraith. The fact that it’s a job protecting a producer of pornographic movies and his crew creates all sorts of humorous opportunities. Along the way, Harry also learns that Mauvre and her Black Court goons are in town to kill Harry. I absolutely enjoyed Blood Rites. Once again, the author pulls together the ideal balance between mystery solving and paranormal hi-jinx and danger. Harry must logically work through the clues to discover who is behind the attacks on his client, as well as employ his magic to protect himself and those around him. There are several new characters added into the mix, but this is balanced by a few familiar characters having significant roles throughout the story. While each book in the Dresden Files has some great twists and reveals, I feel that the one in Blood Rites is by far the best yet. I. Did. Not. See. It. Coming! And I love that it didn’t come across as contrived or forced. Mr. Butcher created a whole new aspect of Harry that I look forward to exploring in future titles. If you have been following my reviews of the Dresden Files, you know how much I love the performances by James Marsters. His work as the narrator is utterly sublime. He is able to put me right into Dresden’s head, yet expertly alters his tone and cadence to fit each of the supporting characters. His work on the series is phenomenal. Blood Rites is another wonderful adventure in the Dresden Files series. Each book builds upon the previous title, allowing Harry to grow personally, professionally, and emotionally. This time around, when Harry could have felt sorry for himself and crawl under a rock, he pushes forward. While each title is a standalone mystery, the author has left open several doors that could spell disaster for or bring joy to my favorite professional wizard. My Rating: A- Narration:...
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Apr
6

Review: Blazing Earth by Terri Brisbin

Review: Blazing Earth by Terri Brisbin Blazing Earth Author: Terri Brisbin Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: In this third installment of the Stone Circles, the tone of the novel changes. Though I liked the journey of Tolan and Thea, there was a more somber feeling and desperation to the world.  It seems the plight of our heroes has reached a pinnacle in Blazing Earth. ***Please note that this series builds upon the previous novel.  Therefore there may be inadvertent spoilers in this review.  You have been warned.*** This is a tough review to write because I do not want to spoil the novel, but I do feel as if the progression of this novel is very different from the previous ones.  Though there is a logical conclusion that brings about a higher tension to the impending final confrontation, it was still in some ways a tough read.  Tolan and Thea must work though some emotional baggage that affects their actions and choices in this journey.  I love how they overcome it, but their story is so bittersweet.  Death and loss has always been a part of this series, but I found it much more poignant in this installment.  Maybe it is due to the outcome of events, but although Tolan and Thea do end up together (I hope that isn’t too spoilery for a romance novel) the course of their romance took me by surprise.  It makes me nervous and eager for the next novel. I continue to enjoy this world and the mythology associated with it.  The different bloodlines that are tied to the Old Ones (old gods) and how they are vessels for these past gods to protect the world from Chaela.  The manifestation of powers and the mixing of the religions are fascinating.  I also enjoy the contrast as these bloodline carriers discover and learn about these traits they have inherited.  The legend of the Warriors of Destiny is thrilling as each book adds the next players.  It is clear that we are heading into the final battle and I cannot wait to see if our heroes will triumph over evil.  I’m thinking they will, but I wonder how much heartbreak, tension and suspense I’ll have to endure before we get there.  I really do like how the stories do not always progress as I expect – especially in Blazing Earth. Tolan and Thea’s romantic journey is compelling.  Though bittersweet in moments, their connection is steel.  They are passionate...
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Apr
5

Review: The Beast by JR Ward

Review: The Beast by JR Ward The Beast Author: JR Ward Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Hello. My name is Jen. I am a recovering BDB addict… Yes, I was one of the many who felt betrayed by JR Ward when she wrote and released the previous Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The Shadows. I wanted to read The Beast because 1) I love Rhage and Mary, and 2) I wanted to see if I was finally over my obsession with all things BDB. In the end, I’m glad I read The Beast, and I probably would have enjoyed it more had The Shadows never happened. Generally, The Beast is a fun story and it brought back some of the old school fun the series has been lacking for years now. Most of the page time is dedicated to Rhage and Mary, telling the story of how they relate as a couple, and to the outside world, after a few years of mating and living with the BDB. Additionally, there are sidestories that follow the continuing path of Layla, Assail, the Scribe Virgin, and the Lessers. And per her usual, Ward tosses in new characters that don’t even interact with the main characters in any way. Here are my thoughts about each storyline: Assail storyline: Assail has been around for a while, but he’s not really making any forward progress. Back a few books ago, I liked his story, but then it dragged on and on. Now it looks like he may have hit rock bottom, but I don’t seem to care. I found him to be pathetic for most of the story. Ward has set him on a path for redemption, which began in The Beast, but I felt the reason for it, and the sudden 180 turnaround in his personality, was too abrupt for his character. He felt like two completely different people from the beginning to the end of the book, and it didn’t sit well with me. Layla / Xcor / Bastards storyline: Ugh. Layla has turned into an idiot again. I had hope for her character there for a short while in earlier books, but alas, I don’t like her again. She lacks any real personality and personal strength. She’s whiny, even in her own head. Her love for Xcor is ridiculous and childish because it was never really given much time to develop. Then we have the defunct Bastards with Throe up to something, but we...
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Apr
4

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter Shadow Rites Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Picking up a few weeks after the end of the previous story, Shadow Rites finds Jane and Co. at the center of yet another potentially fatal dilemma. Beginning with a magical attack on her house in the middle of the night by unknown witches, it starts with an adrenaline rush and maintains that frenetic pace throughout. Jane has changed over the course of the series, however, and, unlike the impersonal nature she once wrapped herself in so determinedly, there’s an undercurrent of affection in her now that makes her even more compelling. Far from the impulsive loner that she once was, Jane has learned many, many things since she first began working with the other supernatural elements that populate the series. Jane is a hero, in every sense of the word. While there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to save those she loves, in recent stories she often “runs the numbers” to gauge how much of herself she can sacrifice for them and live in order to do the same again in the future, should they have need. Just as important, however, is that Jane is no longer acting on her own, and those who love her are entitled to make sacrifices for her, in turn—a fact she’s still trying to accept. One of the most interesting aspects of these stories is that each is built around a specific happening or mystery, the components of which may at once fill in missing information from previous novels, while laying the ground work for events yet to come. Shadow Rites further expands on this template, the pieces of unsolved puzzles from earlier titles suddenly snapping into place, thereby reshaping Jane’s world to accommodate even more unknowns. It’s been an intriguing pattern so far. While the Jane Yellowrock series works perfectly well without an excess of romance coloring the narrative, the fact that Jane still has a mostly-steady love life in Shadow Rites was particularly delightful. The intimacy between Jane and Bruiser is a hard-won thing, and I think Ms. Hunter is spot on to limit these interactions to anticipation and the happily reflective afterglow that follows—at least until the next disaster has them both taking off at a sprint. Bruiser is too much the gentleman, and Jane too private, to justify anything sexually gratuitous. I think my favorite thing about this story is that, all this time, Jane has...
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Mar
31

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #4 Source: loan Marked in Flesh is the fourth title in Anne Bishop’s amazingly interesting and utterly unique fantasy/urban fantasy series know as The Others. For newcomer’s to the series: you cannot start here, in fact, if you’ve missed any titles, I strongly urge you to read all the books before cracking open Marked in Flesh. This book is the culmination of all that has come before, in the previous three books. The books are all interrelated and build upon one other, making it important to start with the first book in the series, Written in Red. Ms. Bishop has developed a world where creatures known as the terra indigene, or Others, are Mother Earth’s favored creations and the top predators on the food chain. The Others have the ability to shape shift into forms such as wolves, crows, bears, and even vampires, and those are the most tame of the Others. After befriending Meg Corbyn, a special human known as a cassandra sangue, the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard continue to adjust to having a “human pack” within their own, even learning to trust and care about these humans. Tension is at an all-time-high, as Nicholas Spark and his Humans First and Last (HFL) movement become irresponsibly aggressive in attempts to claim the land of the terra indigene. With events occurring simultaneously across the land, the story is shared from multiple points-of-view, with focuses in Lakeside (Meg, Vlad, Simon), Sweetwater (Jackson Wolfguard, Hope), and Prairie Gold (Joe Wolfguard, new Intuits). Additionally, there is follow up from Great Island and Talulah Falls, where there was much action and strife in the previous book. Marked in Flesh is my favorite book of the series by far. Finally, we see all the working parts of the story come together for what looks to be the final showdown between the humans and Others. Ms. Bishop is able to capture the fears of the human pack and Intuits as they process just what it means to face extinction. Conversely, I loved seeing the Others, most especially Simon, struggle with how much human to keep – whether it be human traits, human-run business, or actual humans. The time spent pondering these questions is both thought-provoking and utterly engrossing. Yet it is the characters, who I’ve come to...
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Mar
29

Review: Compromised by Emmy Curtis

Review: Compromised by Emmy Curtis Compromised Author: Emmy Curtis Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: This is my first read of an Emmy Curtis book and Compromised, being #5 in the series, puts me at a disadvantage of any backstory that I may have missed.  That being said, I wish I had some. We come into the story on Sadie Walker and Simon Tennant’s wedding day.  Being new to the series, I don’t know if we had any of the courtship in previous books or any knowledge of what brought these two together.  It was an oddity to me to take the love in a relationship for granted at the beginning of a romance without any of the romance.  Sadie’s father happens to be the director of the C.I.A.  Simon happens to be a Delta Force operative.  Despite this combination, everyone is surprised when the wedding erupts in gunfire, most significantly Sadie.  Really?  While shocking and sad, Sadie can’t deal.  She not only calls off the wedding, she calls off the relationship and sends Simon packing without even discussing it. In fact, Sadie eliminates Simon from her life completely and spends a year becoming a field operative for the C.I.A.  This is how she up in Athens, Greece, on her first assignment out of training.  Simon also happens to be there on his own assignment.  What follows is lots of angry make-up sex between two people who haven’t even spoken to each other in over a year.  Sadie thinks ill of Simon; Simon assumes the worst about Sadie.  It doesn’t make either of them especially likable.  Furthermore, Simon keeps commenting on how much Sadie has changed since they were together and how much he likes the changes.  Did he really love her before?  I only found myself routing for their reconciliation because they deserved each other.  In not having the love story upfront, their reunion felt like little more than chemistry.  It never felt like there was a real relationship binding them together at a deeper level. Sadie and Simon’s assignments do overlap in Greece, and I actually wished I had more of the intrigue, more of the covert ops stuff. The book is not an especially long read and I think could have benefitted from some enrichment without losing the pacing.  Overall, I liked it, I just wanted more from it. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. But...
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Mar
28

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis Nobody But You Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Sophie Marren was a naive, young bride who married the first man who paid her some attention. Too bad Lucas turned out to be such a jerk. He kicked her out, emptied her checking account, and left her with nothing. However, when the judge asked what she wanted in the divorce, she was so angry, she took the one thing that would hurt her ex the most: his precious boat. Now she’s unemployed and broke, living on a boat she hates. Vowing never to fall in love again, she doesn’t trust herself around the sexy Jacob Kincaid. Jacob Kincaid is home on leave for the first time in nine years. When he left Cedar Ridge to join the Army, his twin brother and best friend, Hudson, told him never to return, and so Jacob didn’t. However, after his buddy was killed in a meaningless roadside bombing, Jacob decides it is time to make amends. What he didn’t expect was to fall for a funny, sexy woman who is hiding on a boat in his lake. While Nobody But You is the third book in the Cedar Ridge series, I had no trouble jumping into the series without having read the first two titles. Jacob and Sophie are injured souls who are lost in their lives. Their immediate attraction drew me in and kept me interested in their story. Early on, they share a few drinks and let their guards down, having an honest heart-to-heart, once again, drawing me into their relationship. I adored Jacob; how much he feels for Sophie and how he wants to do right for her and his family. He’s honorable and caring, albeit a bit stubborn. His POV was filled with his fears and desires over his feelings for Sophie, and I loved knowing how hard he was falling for her. Sophie was a mixed bag for me. I admire her determination and obstinance, yet at the same time, she felt very wishy-washy. I had issues with her constant stance that she would never fall in love again, yet after a very short time, she has no problem falling for Jacob.The “I love you” came way too soon. Sophie and Jacob are two deeply wounded people, and I understand his willingness to jump in with two feet, but not hers. The whole premise of the story is that she’s not...
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Mar
25

Review: Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren

Review: Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren Dark Wild Night Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Twimom My Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Oliver and Lola have been best of friends for eight months, ever since they were briefly married in a wild night in Vegas. However, unlike their friends, Oliver and Lola never consummated their relationship, and have remained strictly in the friend zone. Lola is consumed by her work: becoming a NYT best seller / graphic novelist sensation overnight, her book is now in the process of being made into a movie. Oliver’s newly opened comic book shop is wildly popular, and he works every day. Their friends all see how perfect they are for each other, but Lola and Oliver are both scared of messing up the friendship to push for more. Dark Wild Night is the third book in the Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren. Although the book is a standalone romance, we meet Oliver and Lola in the first book, and I think seeing them in the previous books helps define their backgrounds and makes for a stronger history. As the book opens, we witness how much their mutual bond means to both, and how much each loves the other. The unrequited love is so overwhelming, that I am swept up in their secret desires as much as the characters are. The authors are masters at building up the emotional and sexual tension, and I literally felt like I was going to explode before these two finally fell into that first kiss. Oliver is an amazing man: he’s patient and gentle. He wants what is best for Lola, even if it means sacrificing his own feelings. So that moment, when he first senses the change in Lola, is so exciting, I imagine him like a dog with its tail wagging, watching his owner come home. The love inside of him wants to burst out, and he can barely contain it. And it is so overwhelming that Lola nearly drowns in her feelings. She’s terrified of being like her mom, who abandoned her and her dad, and she’s scared of losing Oliver forever. Her fear is tangible, but it is equal to the power of her love. In the end, I loved Lola and Oliver’s story, but I wanted more. There was so much overwhelming emotion at the beginning of the book, but then it got lost in Lola’s desperate crazed life. And I get where Oliver was coming from, but...
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Mar
24

Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren Dirty Rowdy Thing Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Twimom My Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Harlow Vega is having a bad day. After a less than memorable one-night-stand, being awakened by said boy’s mother at 6:00 am, and then running into her ex-husband (of 12 hours), Finn at Starbucks, she finds out her mother has stage 3 breast cancer. Needing to take the edge off her life and forget her troubles, she reengages with Finn for some mind-blowing sex. The problem is, she can’t get Finn, the sexy Canadian fisherman, out of her head. Finn Roberts thought he knew Harlow, with her rich parents and larger-than-life persona. He didn’t mind being her sexual distraction until he started to know the real Harlow. Now he’s falling for her and doesn’t know what to do. Dirty Rowdy Thing is intense! I absolutely love Harlow and Finn, both individually and together. They compliment one another so well, and it’s heartbreaking when they both realize it and chose to step back. Neither is ready to deal with the overwhelming emotions that begin to surface as they spend more and more time together, both in the bedroom and out. And WOW! in the bedroom, the pair are smoking hot! Their sex is incredible: hot, naughty, and powerful. Of all the books, I think Dirty Rowdy Thing has the most intense and detailed sex scenes of the series. But it’s not sex just for the sake of sex, regardless of what the pair thinks. The scenes provide windows into the characters’ hearts and souls. They are literally laid bare to the other. As much as I used to dislike the alternating first person POVs, I am now a fan when it’s done right, and in this series, it is done right. I realized after the fact (and even while reading the first book), that I missed it terribly with Mia and Ansel’s story. I love knowing that the guy is falling as hard as the girl. I love getting his prospective on the relationship and the sex. It makes the book so much more fulfilling. Another thing I love about this series, and Dirty Rowdy Thing in particular, is how the authors don’t rise to a quick climax (pun intended) and ending. The conflict builds over time, and the characters are given space to think, react, and resolve the issues without feeling rushed. It’s wonderful storytelling. And the romance is made better for it....
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Mar
24

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bound Series Title: The Professor’s Student Author: Bronwyn Green Narrator: Tatiana Sokolov Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Bound #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, BDSM Audiobook Source: Author Once again, I’m excited to have the opportunity to listen to a book from one of my favorite series: Bound by Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman. This time around, I’m listening to the third book, The Professor’s Student by Ms. Green. The story centers around Professor Josie Green, an American archeology professor, who is on a six week summer dig in Ireland, at Professor Declan O’Shaughnessy’s site. The pair have instant chemistry and engaging in a monogamous D/s relationship for the duration of her stay. When I initially read and reviewed the book I wrote: The Professor’s Student falls well within the erotic romance genre, with a focus more in the bedroom and less out of it. I really like Declan and Josie, and their play is sexy, fun, and just plain hot. Ms. Green is a master at crafting sexy, sensual scenes. While I missed some of the more emotional moments that I enjoyed in [the previous Bound stories], I still found The Professor’s Student a wonderful read and a perfect low-conflict, “getaway” story. As for the storyline, my feelings haven’t changed. I really enjoyed the story, and I continued to feel like the book is more passion and eroticism than love. Josie and Declan spend much of their time apart or only in the bedroom, and I wanted to be shown not told that they bonded on a deeper level. With that said, Tatiana Sokolov’s performance added a lot of value to my overall enjoyment of the story. Ms. Sokolov’s narrative voice, which is close to, if not the same as, Josie’s voice, is easy and fitting. Her Irish accented male voice for Declan is superb. I was extremely impressed with constancy and tone of narration throughout the book. Ms. Sokolov brings a lot of emotion – Josie’s embarrassment and shy desire, as well as Declan’s dominating nature – into her performance. In the end, I enjoyed my “reread” of The Professor’s Student and found that I liked it a bit more the second time around. Ms. Sokolov adds much to the story with her performance. Story B+ Narration...
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