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Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Elemental Web Chronicles Book: The Golden Spider Author: Anne Renwick Narrator: Henrietta Meire Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Elemental Web Chronicles #1 Genre: Steampunk Romance Source: Tantor Audio The Golden Spider Set in a time when England and Germany have heightened tensions, spy networks are vast, and the ton continues with its balls and social obligations unaware of the secrets around them, Lady Amanda wars with her father, the Duke, over her ability to attend medical school. Amanda is driven by her keen intelligence and a guilt over her brother’s injured leg, to produce a clockwork device to repair nerve damage. Under pressure to find a husband within the year, Amanda courts a classmate, but finds no sparks. However, when her work captures the attention of Lord Thornton, noted physician and neurologist, Lady Amanda finally knows what it is like to have her mind appreciated. Lord Thornton lives with the guilt over the betrayal of his best friend in his damaged leg that will never heal. As a spy for the Queen herself, he finds Amanda’s work to be the break he needs in a rash of Gypsy murders. However much he is attracted to both her brain and her body, Thornton must keep the relationship professional, especially since he’s not on the market for a wife. The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance! Right from the start, I was drawn into this exciting mystery, trying to discover who is behind the Gypsy murders. Watching Amanda’s mind work to piece the puzzle together is fascinating, and made all the much better as she and Thornton grow closer. I love the science of the story – the author does not brush over Amanda and Thornton’s work, but rather gives listeners the details of both test subjects and gadgets. While the engineering, science, action, and adventure is completely fascinating, it is the romance between Lord Thornton and Lady Amanda that gives The Golden Spider heart and makes it such a wonderful story. The pair are meant for one another; not only do they share a passion for science and ingenuity, but they are able to openly be themselves with each other. Thornton doesn’t trust easily, but he finds a confidant in Amanda. Working side by side, their passion grows until they finally give into their burning desires. The story is read by British-born actress Henrietta Meire,...
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Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: White Hot is the second story in the Hidden Legacy series, building upon the exciting escapades of Nevada Baylor. This is NOT a standalone book. The series, a mix of urban fantasy and romance storylines, is set in an alternate Houston, where magic (psychic powers) is prevalent in some families. If one is powerful enough, s/he is designated Prime. Have enough Primes, and your family is a House. We learned in the previous book, Burn for Me, that a faction of powerful, secretive Primes/Houses is trying to disrupt status quo and create confusion in Houston; however Nevada and Rogan can’t figure out the “why.” White Hot is an excellent story, not suffering any “sophomore slump.” Everything literally explodes open. We learn so much about Nevada and her true nature. Her powers are strong, something she’s been hiding her whole life, and with time and training, she could be extremely dangerous. Also, Nevada and Rogan have discovered more about the mysterious plot to create chaos in the Houston/Texas region. They are getting closer to the truth, but much remains to uncover and learn. However, now that their enemies realize what a powerful team they make, things will only become more difficult! Additionally, there is a new enemy on the horizon, someone that threatens Nevada’s family. The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. I loved seeing all of Nevada’s family join the fight, and learning about the hidden talents of her sister and cousin. She’s a good leader and compassionate soul. But she’s willing to make hard choices to protect what is hers. I love that she is also becoming a strong kickass heroine; growing, learning. The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. He is realizing if he supports her, she’ll come to him; trust him. There are sexy times, filled with emotions that made my belly flutter. They are a great match, and I hope the...
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Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson Wanted and Wired Author: Vivien Jackson Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Wanted and Wired is the first in a new sci-fi romance series, Tether. Though it had a bit of a clunky slow start, I liked this new world and what seems to be a fascinating new series. The Tether world is fascinating; futuristic with a bit of a wild-west/ post-apocalyptic vibe.  I enjoyed the racial issue of organic human versus altered (cyborg/enhanced) human.  Those that feel people who have enhanced their bodies are somehow less human. Though the technology of the nanos are not fully explained, the technological advances were fascinating, especially the artificial intelligence. I am eager to learn more about this intriguing world. The journey of Heron and Mari started off… confusing. As a sci-fi novel, I was surprised how dominant the sexual thoughts were – Heron and Mari’s hormones were in overdrive.  In the midst of a mission and then as they are started to be hunted, it seemed… odd, that they would have sex being a major though process.  It started to be a bit old as the balance between their plight (the action) and the romance (sexual thoughts/tension) was off. However, by the halfway point, I felt there was a better balance. Some of the tripping points for me could be settled in the typical first novel in a series issue – world-building, character building, not to mention the different story arcs.  However, they did smooth out, and I found the last half to be an enthralling read. Mari’s botched mission and subsequent running was a gripping tale. I enjoyed how the history between Mari and Heron helped to not only give credence to their trust but their romance.  As Heron’s past comes to light, I found the mythology of the world shine.  As they closed in on who was behind the nefarious plot, I was truly surprised at who was it was.  I look forward to seeing how this may be part of an over-arching plot. Wanted and Wired may have stumbled a bit at the beginning with some first novel issues, by the end the story was captivating and smooth.  I liked Heron and Mari’s overall journey and hope to see them in the next novel.  The world is what I found truly fascinating and I cannot wait to learn more about it.  If you enjoy a bit of a science-fiction twist in your romance, you may just...
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Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Night Prince Series Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1.25x and 2x Series: Night Prince #4 (Night Huntress Universe #13) Genre: Urban Fantasy, romance Source: HarperAudio NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any of the titles in the Night Huntress Universe, and when I found out that Ms. Frost was wrapping up the Night Prince series with Into the Fire, I was quick to pick up a review copy. I honestly couldn’t recall what had happened to Vlad and Lelia until I started the book, and the narrator quickly filled me in. The story opens about four months after the conclusion of the prior book. Leila and Vlad’s step-son nemesis, Mircea, are still magically linked so that harm and damage done to one is repeated on the other. Mircea is able contact Leila psychically, yet Leila cannot use her abilities to find Mircea. In the process of taunting Lelia, Mircea is kidnapped, and the abductees threaten to kill him (which would in turn kill Leila) if Vlad doesn’t do as they require. This ramps up the efforts to break the magic link between Leila and Mircea, leading Vlad and Leila to Ian for assistance. While I started having issues with this series in the previous book, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would be annoyed by the two main characters. Leila is amazingly whiny. And her “dreaded inner voice” is annoying. Her life is hard, she whines, she cries, she accepts it, she rationalizes it, then we move on to the next issue. And Vlad is too far gone – too dark – to be an enjoyable romantic lead/hero. He is made of ice and vengeance, and while he cares for some individuals, he’d willingly kill those he cares about if it means keeping Leila alive. It’s taken to an extreme this time around. And the lies, which are rationalized, just make it so frustrating and annoying. It’s basically the same issues over and over again, and I had a very difficult time enjoying the book. Honestly, if Into the Fire wasn’t the last book in the series, I would have DNF’d in and moved on. With that said, the last third of the book was much better than the front parts. Once the action started and the plot moved forward, it was...
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Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy The Forests of Dru Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Forests of Dru continues the story of Oria and Lonen, who are now finally in Dru and facing new issues.  Overall Gikany and Una liked the story, although it is starting to have a serial short story feeling. Unlike the first book, which seemed like a complete novel, the subsequent books have felt more like novellas.  We could liken the format to a television series: the first episode is longer to set up the series and then the following episodes are shorter.  Each book ends in a cliffhanger. Although this series feels like a series of short stories, the story continues to flow and build.  Oria and Lonen are still learning about each other and how to work together.  We love the trust and love that continues to strengthen and encourage the development of their relationship.  Especially as it seems the coin has flipped – Lonen’s right to rule is being questioned and Oria is deeply distrusted by the Destrye.  Oria is able to experience what the Destrye has suffered at the hands of her people and what they must do to survive.  Although we are only given snippets of the continuing plot, the tension mounts as Oria searches for a source of sgath so she can eliminate the threat of the Trom and end the war between the Barans and the Destrye. Even though The Forests of Dru was short and the series is starting to feel like a series of novellas, we continue to like it.  The Sorcerous Moons is a captivating series.  We eagerly await the next installment. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: An Enemy Land Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive. A Treacherous Court Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire...
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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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Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: What a Dragon Should Know  Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dragon Kin #3 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio What a Dragon Should Know expands upon the richly entertaining lore of mighty dragons and the humans that love them. Picking up after the conclusion of the previous book, the story primarily focuses on the love story of Gwenvael the Handsome and Dagmar Reinholdt, the only daughter of the Reinholdt, also known as “the Beast.” Annwyl the Bloody, heavy with her twins who are literally sucking the life from her, sends Gwenvael to the Northlands on her behalf to discover if the Reinholdt will make a worthy ally. When Gwenvael discovers that the Beast is actually an extremely intelligent and wily female, he is forced to adjust his approach to the situation. Dagmar has spent her entire life as the brains behind her father’s success, staying in the shadows while she manipulates events to her advantage. So when Gwenvael acts unpredictably and treats her with respect, even reverence, Dagmar isn’t sure how to best respond. Striking a bargain with Gwenvael, the pair head out of the Northlands with important information to share with Annwyl. I absolutely adored the pairing of Gwenvael and Dagmar. Two underestimated souls, both play to the misrepresentations and conventions their families have placed upon them. They use these stereotypes to hide their true intentions, striking blows upon their enemies. Both love their respective families and would do anything to protect them. Right from the start the pair recognizes the strengths of the other; never disrespecting the other, even if they do try to outsmart one another. Their passion ignites as Gwenvael and Dagmar open up and fall in love. I just adored their verbal sparring and joint masterminding. Outside of the romance, the entire story is multifaceted and filled with complex layers of political maneuvering.  I found myself engrossed and enjoyed just listening to the plot unfold. While I did find myself lost a couple times and trying to remember who was who  more than once (lets face it, there are too many similar sounding names), the character development and bonds cemented over the course of the series made for stronger connections and deeper enjoyment of this tale. In addition to Gwenvael and Dagmar, What a Dragon Should Know shares the continuing romance of Brastias and Morfyd. I was pleased...
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Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie

Review: The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie The Memory Thief Author: Sarina Dorie Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Memory Thief is a different type of steampunk series.  This Victorian era science-fiction novel is an interesting world.  Suffice to say, I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. First, let me say that this was more mystery/adventure romance than science-fiction. Though it is science-fiction, the science and steampunk qualities are in the background. The plight of Felicity in recovering her memories is gripping. The planet and history of the Jomon people is rich and fascinating. I really loved the world I found myself in. The memory moss, the intriguing creatures, and the evolution that has obviously taken place are all quite intriguing.  I truly found myself lost in the world. The novel is told from Felicity’s viewpoint and utilizes flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks are consciously done when she is partaking in a memory swap. However, some chapters are started with a moment from the past. Though they are interesting and give background to the novel, I felt that they stunted the flow of the story a little, but not enough to inhibit my enjoyment. I enjoyed the courtship between Felicity and Nipa (the ruler of the Jomon tribe). Though some of the novel is fairly easy to figure out, I was still surprised by some of the past. Felicity’s strength of character is equal to her kindness to the indigenous people. I enjoyed her intelligence, especially when up against Nipa’s cunning. Nipa’s character was equally charming and ruthless.  I enjoyed trying to figure him out. Felicity’s intended, Merriweather, seems to be a filler character.  It is not surprising when the Jomon use him as a patsy.  However, he grew on me.  He seems very out of place in the world, and in the novel, especially in Felicity’s eyes.  He is very naïve and innocent.  More innocent than I would think an aristocratic male would be in Victorian England.  However, I think there is more to him and I hope to learn it in the next novel. I am reluctant to give anything away, but the emotions of the novel caught me off guard.  This book is about remembering and recovering from the past. The past is more than just events, but emotions as well. Once I finished the novel, I could see how the novel dances slowly to the truth. I really enjoyed the flow and the overall crafting of...
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Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy The Tides of Bára Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: This is going to be a pretty vague review as The Tides of Bara is in essence a transitional novel.  It follows Oria and Lonen as they flee Bara and attempt to reach the Destrye.  Although if felt like nothing really happened, Gikany and Una liked it. When we say that very little happened, we mean that none of the overarching plot lines are resolved.  There is a touch of action, quite of a bit travel, and a steamy interaction, but really, Oria and Lonen travel from Bara to Dru. What does happen is a tremendous amount of character development. The novel centers on Oria, Lonen, Oria’s Familiar Chuffta, and Lonen’s horse when they are stranded in the desert.  There is a lot of growth that occurs between all four of them as they learn to lean on each other.  This growth is critical to the novel and why we must be so vague.  This development is awesome and we found it gripping. Although it could be argued that nothing happens, this transitional novel is more than just getting from point A to point B.  The growth within the group is interesting as it is critical.  They need to learn to trust and depend on each other to survive their next challenge – seeing if the Destrye will accept Lonen’s sorceress wife. We continue to like the Sorcerous Moons series.  The latest installment, although transitional in nature, was a gripping and at times humorous read.  If you enjoy fantasy and intriguing worlds, you just need to check this one out! Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: A Narrow Escape With her secrets uncovered and her power-mad brother bent on her execution, Princess Oria has no sanctuary left. Her bid to make herself and her new barbarian husband rulers of walled Bára has failed. She and Lonen have no choice but to flee through the leagues of brutal desert between her home and his—certain death for a sorceress, and only a bit slower than the blade. A Race Against Time At the mercy of a husband barely more than a stranger, Oria must war with her fears and her desires. Wild desert magic buffets her; her husband’s touch allures and burns. Lonen is pushed to the brink, sure he’s doomed his proud bride and all too aware of the restless, ruthless...
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Review: Fish out of Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Fish out of Water by Hailey Edwards Fish Out of Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: If you haven’t been following my reviews of Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog books, GO! GET ON THAT! Fish Out of Water is a plot resolution from the spinoff Gemini series, featuring Cam. It DEFINITELY needs to be read after Hell or High Water—seriously, don’t mess with the series order, folks. I had a lot of questions about Harlow at the conclusion of the third title in the Gemini series, and Fish Out of Water clears them all up for me. It was super nice to see Harlow again. I must admit, I really adore her. Her snark and personality are intact (eventually) and I liked being in her head. It was a great way to see what makes her tick. I will admit, I’ll never look at mirrored aviators the same way again. **swoons** It’s no secret that I’ve worked with a large mental health population in my real life. When we were introduced to the Edelweiss Mental Institution, the setting of the novella, in one of Cam’s stories, I was cool giving it a shot. After all, it’s a place for paranormals and isn’t going to parallel life at all, right? Well, because this is a spoiler-free zone, there’s a megaton of parallels to real life—with a paranormal twist…and that’s all I can say. If I’m looking for a great paranormal read, I know I can count on Ms. Edwards to deliver. With a host of paranormal baddies—and good guys, too—I actually adore the world-building. Harlow’s story here was no different. I though the plot picked up nicely where Harlow stepped out of the Gemini series—and the end of Hell or High Water—and led us to the ‘here and now’ well. You guys, I had a DEEP need to know what happened to Harlow. I feel like a kid in a candy store after reading this title. And…the first Lorimar Pack book, Promise the Moon, is slated for publication at the end of October. **grabby hands** YAY! More Dell!!! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Harlow Bevans was a changeling mermaid working as a diving consultant for the Earthen Conclave. Then he came along. Charybdis. A serial killer who possessed her body and wrecked her mind. Now she’s an inmate—patient—at Edelweiss Mental Institution.  When a haunting song lures her to the scene of a brutal murder, the calm of the past...
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