Alex Craft has landed another oh-my-god-this-can't-be-true case and is once again investigating the impossible. This time it's a string of suicides that are actually murders. Yeah, good luck proving that one! It's this strong detective-type backbone that keeps me coming back for more with each new installment. True, there's also a love triangle, alternate plains of existence and magic but it's the investigations that make these books good; the rest is just icing on the cake. In Grave Memory, Alex grows up, Death finally makes his choice and ghouls run amok. Alex Craft is back and better than ever before!
Our lil' grave witch is finally growing up! In this installment she opens up a Tongues For The Dead office, enlists the help of a couple of partners and makes responsible decisions. I enjoyed watching Alex leave her mark on Nekros City and face adversity head-on. I was surprised by her new attitude more than once; instead of wallowing in self-pity she buckles down and takes care of business. Alex doesn't run. She sticks by her friends, attempts to sort out her complicated love life and even manages to solve a case or two. Craft is dealing with a few internal problems as well namely her diminishing eyesight and a few new, not entirely human characteristics that have begun to manifest. Like she really needs any more challenges to add to her already gigantic pile!
The first 3/4th of this book progresses like the other two in this series; Alex follows various leads trying to solve a case. Interesting but nothing to phone home about. The last quarter is where the real meat is. We learn a few more tidbits about the Soul Collectors and score some serious Death face time which I've been craving since Grave Witch. I really enjoyed the pacing of this story. Whenever there's a lull in the action there's still plenty of witty dialogue and enough side plots to keep you entertained. I actually laughed out line a few times at some of Alex's one-liners. She finds herself in some pretty impossible situations yet still manages to laugh about them. Pay close attention to a scene involving a Ziploc bag. Just saying.
Emily Durante, the narrator, does a fantastic job of donning Alex's shoes. At first, her raspy almost pack-a-day smoker's voice annoyed me but after a few hours I no longer struggled to associate her with this series' heroine. She handles Craft's snark with ease and I even enjoyed her side character voices. Next time I won't think twice before buying an audiobook narrated by Miss Durante.
I should have known that Falin was down but not out. He pops up here and there throughout the story and then adds his two cents at the end to create another brutal cliffhanger. He just couldn't leave well enough alone could he? Generally love triangles piss me off more often than not but in this case I'm finding Price's to be wildly intriguing. The fun doesn't stop with Grave Memory; Kalayna has signed on for at least another three installments and I for one can't wait.
My reading horizons consist of Paranormal, Paranormal, and more Paranormal. So, when another reviewer fervently recommended this SciFi audiobook to me, I was skeptical. However, past experience has taught me not to ignore my fellow bloggers, and that served me well once again because THE MARTIAN was outstanding! This genre isn’t my forte, and Math was always my weakest subject in school, but pair them with Andy Weir’s writing & R.C. Bray’s narration, and soon you too will be endorsing this title with zeal.
This story is told via a series of log entries from Mark Watney’s POV, with intermittent JPL/NASA, Hermes, etc narratives. It was funny, dire, hopeful, scientific, and so much more. The protagonist makes good use of his mechanical engineering & botanist background which lead to a lot of technical jargon that even laymen like me could appreciate. The hero’s fight for survival was one that every human can relate to, and his ability to laugh in the face of adversity was oftentimes the difference between life & death.
You’d think that a novel that’s restricted to a habitat, a rover, and a deserted planet as locales, and one character all by his lonesome would get tedious in the long run, but if you’re Weir that’s all you need. Mark Watney made this book for me with his sarcastic sense of humour, and MacGyver-like ingenuity. His last name really should have been Murphy because anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment. From magic duct tape, to pondering the accurateness of Aquaman, to solving terminal velocity à la Iron Man; you will fall in love with Watney.
I can’t say with utmost certainty, but I’m 99.9% positive that the calculations would have bored me to tears if it weren’t for R.C. Bray’s enthusiastic performance. The protagonist celebrates victories with yays, and setbacks with boos, and those emotions came through loud and clear in Bray’s tone. Saving Mark eventually became a world-wide effort, and as a result, the narrator had to cycle through tons of accents including Hindu, German & Chinese, and he aced them all. Unless you’re a whiz, I’d recommend listening over reading to most.
THE MARTIAN was passed on to me, and now it’s my turn to do the same for you. You’re welcome.
Going in, I knew that this audiobook was probably going to be a letdown given how the reviews were stacking up, but I got it as a daily deal, so no big. The blurb is misleading with its “groundbreaking modern fantasy series” because Sophie Jordan wrote a very similar story back in 2010 with FIRELIGHT. Those points aside, Julie Kagawa has been on my radar for a while, and I love dragons. Overall, I did enjoy TALON from a Contemporary Young Adult Romance standpoint even though it was super predictable, and not overly avant-garde.
The love triangle was a given; book 1 focused on the ‘forbidden boy’, and if the author stays true to the YA course, 2 will be about Ember’s dragon’s mate, and the conclusion will be her making the inevitable choice. Oh wait, there are five volumes planned, so expect a few filler installments in-between. Still, I liked Garret. My #1 gripe with this novel was the absence of dragons. TALON (the organization) is all about assimilation, and the author fixated on that; there were a total of four shapeshifts, and two of them happened in tandem at the end.
I enjoyed the alternating POVs because they allowed listeners to come to their own conclusions about each of the characters, and went a long way towards establishing their back stories. Ember’s on her way to being a hellraiser with her defiant nature, and relentless quest for the truth. The plot did have some noticeable holes in it though like for instance TALON’s pathetic attempts at hiding their sleepers. Dead parents, recent transplants, and draconic names were major red flags, and made it almost too easy for St. George to track them down.
The narration was this audio’s strongest suit with three seasoned performers; all were new to me, but that didn’t stop me from being dazzled by their deliveries. As the lead, Caitlin Davies captured the heroine’s teenaged voice to perfection; my only criticism of her was her pronunciation of ‘room.’ It was quite noticeable because the word appears repeatedly, and she didn’t enunciate the second O. MacLeod Andrews was a pivotal factor in me being pro-Garret early on, and Chris Patton’s role was minor, so I won’t weigh-in on his narration just yet.
TALON didn’t soar, but it didn’t crash & burn either—typical YA.~3.5 stars
It took me a full year to build up the courage to listen to HEIR TO THE SHADOWS after being thoroughly traumatized by book 1. I really love Anne Bishop’s THE OTHERS series, and I’m a firm believer in second chances when it comes to authors, so after twelve months of mental preparation, here we go again. It’s with a massive sigh of relief that I write this review because A) no nightmares & B) this installment was a vast improvement upon the previous one. It was slow paced, and was more about the dialogue than the action, but we’re definitely getting somewhere.
This novel concentrated on Jaenelle’s road to recovery; after two years in a coma, she must battle her way back to sanity, and then take the necessary steps in order to become the Queen she was meant to be. The story followed Angelline from the age of twelve to twenty, so it’s best to minimize the number of sessions spent reading this book in order to avoid confusing the timeline. Lots of character development takes place, both where the protagonist was concerned as well as the secondaries, and all of the chess pieces were brought to the fore, including the kindred—wolves, unicorns & dragons!
Even though THE BLACK JEWELS series now has nine volumes under its wing, it was originally a trilogy, so this installment felt like it was the limbo between books 1 & 3 which explains its lack of major intrigue. By the end of this novel everything was in place for an earth-shaking payoff, except the love interest. Daemon Sadi was off in cuckoo land, but other than that I was able to better appreciate Bishop’s Dark Fantasy because this story was minus the truly heinous tidbits; however that doesn’t mean that the author dons kid gloves. Every character is still fair game.
John Sharian’s narration didn’t creep me out nearly as much as it did in DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD. I still question the producer’s decision to go with a male voice for this series, but Angelline’s entourage is a sausage fest, so with the more disturbing aspects behind us, he’s growing on me. Sharian’s ominous tone actually worked to his advantage when he mimicked Jaenelle’s ‘midnight voice’, and I thought that he was reasonably adept at keeping the plethora of personas separate, although he does goof on occasion, and slips into his staple timbre when he shouldn’t.
HEIR TO THE SHADOWS was almost good. I’m eager for Anne Bishop to bring it home with QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS. ~3.5 stars
Whenever I just want to sit back, and enjoy a quality audiobook, I turn to Molly Harper & Amanda Ronconi. My last listening session with them was in June 2014, so clearly I was in desperate need of a fix because I finished THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE in one day. As soon as I clicked ‘play’ my smile was locked into place thanks to the fun quotes from The Office After Dark: A Guide to Maintaining a Safe, Productive Vampire Workplace—this installment’s fictional how-to manual—and there it stayed.
We first met Gigi in I’M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS, and it was nice to finally get the continuation of her story, and find out who her mysterious vampire stalker was. She’s the last human in the Jameson / Scanlon circle, so I was curious to see whether she’d stay that way, or join the rest of the HALF-MOON HOLLOW supes. She’s also the youngest POV to date which lightened Harper’s already breezy writing style even more, and made her character’s sometimes questionable decisions and go-with-the-flow attitude easier to grasp which is always beneficial in insta-love type situations.
The plot wasn’t a brain buster, but still kept me on my toes, and I really enjoyed seeing Ophelia get kicked off her high horse. My favourite secondary, Dick Cheney, didn’t have as much dialogue as I would have liked, although Nik was a pseudo Russian version of him which was an acceptable substitution. It was entertaining watching Iris in all of her overprotective big sister splendor, and how their group of friends banded together when Gigi’s life was in danger. Plus, this author’s latest batch of pop culture references were real winners: GAME OF THRONES & THE WALKING DEAD.
Amanda Ronconi pulled out all the stops once again with her exuberance, accents, voices, and sound effects. She’s a pro at pinning down the emotions that each scene calls for, and always gives her 100% in every performance. Harper’s sense of humour is increased tenfold by Ronconi’s narration, and because of that I ALWAYS opt to listen over reading. I can’t recommend Harconi enough; they are the benchmark by which I measure all Chick-Lit Paranormal Romance, and a MUST for all audiobook junkies.
THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE was like riding a killer water slide, except the whee lasted for 9+ hours.
There’s only a handful of series’ where I will literally count the days between releases and Elemental Assassin is one of them. Gin kicks this installment off in true Spider style with blood on her hands and a body to dispose of. In Heart of Venom we finally see Blanco’s cool, patient demeanor slip only to be replaced by an emotional, risk-taking one which is incredibly dangerous in her line of work but also an as-of-yet unexplored side of her character. It’s personal this time around; you don’t mess with Gin Blanco’s friends and expect to live.
Part of the reason why Gin’s been so successful in her career as a hired gun is in large part thanks to her ability to shelve her emotions while on a job. She does her homework, waits for the perfect shot and then makes her getaway. Granted, even the best laid plans tend to blow up in her face but regardless of the outcome, she always goes in with a cool head. Not this time. Blanco just reacts. Her friend is threatened and she goes barreling into an impossible situation guns blazing with no regard for her survival. The fact that Gin favors fire power over her trademark blades in this installment further reinforces her fragile emotional state by demonstrating her willingness to throw caution into the wind and let stealth be dammed. The Spider is s-c-a-r-y when she’s mad; I pity the fool who incurred her wrath!
Sophia’s always been a bit of a mystery; she doesn’t talk much and is a pro at body disposal. The Deveraux sisters are an integral part of this series so I was thrilled at the prospect of learning more about one of my two favourite dwarves. We finally uncover the whys behind her goth wardrobe and her knack for getting rid of corpses. As anticipated, her reasons are even more disturbing than I could have possibly imagined. There’s a nice little flashback to a scene that showcases the earlier stages of Sophia’s friendship with Gin that took on a whole new meaning given the current circumstances. It was a fun extra and got me psyched for the next novel where we get to go back in time and witness the making of the assassin, The Spider. Fletcher’s also still ever present in this series and I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed when Gin finds his file on Grimes. I’m hoping for more of him in the next installment as well.
Now to the crux of the matter, the question that everyone’s been asking me since I read this book; what’s the 4-1-1 on Owen? As the blurb suggests, there is progress on that front and I was satisfied with the way Estep attempted to redeem his character. Grayson really messed up, his heartfelt apology and actions speak volumes but the road to forgiveness is long and I approve of Gin’s caution where he’s concerned. As much as I love him and want them to get their HEA, I’m happy that Blanco didn’t completely succumb to his boyish charm. Heart of Venom is definitely a turning point in their relationship and I think that readers will be appeased by this installment.
Heart of Venom exposes a different side of Gin, which after 9 installments is a feat in itself. I loved watching The Spider wreak havoc on her enemies in the name of friendship and family. Seeing Sophia, an incredibly resilient character, brought to her knees by her past was as emotional as it was enlightening. I’ve spent two books waiting to witness Owen’s fight to win back the love of his life and he does not disappoint. Jennifer Estep and Gin Blanco are a winning combination that never gets old; all hail The Spider!
I wasn't sold on the direction the love thread was taking, but after listening to this installment, I'm ALL IN. Same goes for the Knights; their holier-than-thou attitude would have tested my patience eventually, however in DEATH MASKS they demonstrate that they aren't 100% black or white either. The Archive was some freaky deaky sh*t which leads me to believe that Butcher has only dipped his big toe in this universe's scope. The punches kept on coming in book 5, and with so many secondary plots intertwining, the story left me reeling in the best kind of way. I don't know if I'll be able to focus on anything else until BLOOD RITES is on my iPhone, locked & loaded. Goodbye weekend! ~ 4.5 stars
I've been procrastinating listening to this audiobook since November, but when Valentine's Day rolled around I decided that I was due for a guilty pleasure kind of title, and nothing fit the bill quite like Gideon & Ava Cross. I was also excited that this series FINALLY added a second narrator. As much as I've been enjoying Jill Redfield's performance, certain characters need that extra edge that only a male voice can bring, and I was hoping that Jeremy York would be up to the task. I wish that they'd read ALL of their respective personage's dialogues rather than just their specific chapters, but that's a common complaint of mine with dual readings. However, other than that, I had no issues with either of the narrators. My problems were with the lack of advancement on any front. Gideon & Ava are still struggling with the exact same obstacles only different versions of them, the story arc didn't really go anywhere, and the ending left me feeling like the next novel was going to be more of the same. CAPTIVATED BY YOU was like watching a dog try to catch its tail; painful and an exercise in futility.
This wasn't your typical Ilona Andrews audiobook in that the magic system existed on a much smaller scale with it being confined to inns, but that's not to say that the world-building was by any means limited. In fact, if anything, it was larger than any of this author duo's other titles because the INNKEEPER CHRONICLES was closer to being Science Fiction than it was Urban Fantasy given that the characters originate from multiple planets. The wheel wasn't reinvented with regards to the typical paranormal beasties such as vampires & werewolves, although they did have several distinguishing traits that set them apart from other novels in this genre. Much to my dismay, a love triangle seems to be developing; however if any team is capable of making it work, it's Ilona & Gordon. The humor and writing were aces, no surprises there, and Renée Raudman's narration gave the story that extra somethin'-somethin' that keeps me choosing audio over eBook every time this trio releases something new.
Jeaniene Frost is renowned the world over for her oh-my-god-is-it-hot-in-here scenes, but she can also rock the dark like nobody’s business, and readers were reminded of that fact with a vengeance in BOUND BY FLAMES. Graphic torture anyone? I’m talking flaying, limb amputation, silver poisoning, starvation, and pseudo rape. This installment was originally intended to be the finale of the NIGHT PRINCE series; however after listening to book 3, I can understand why the author decided to axe that plan. A new super villain has risen, Vlad & Leila didn’t get their HEA, and there’s still plenty of story left to tell!
I’ve had a jumbo crush on Tepesh ever since his character debuted as a secondary in Frost’s NIGHT HUNTRESS novels, and it’s steadily grown into an all out obsession with this spin-off series. He could easily be king of the bad guys if it weren’t for Mrs. Dracula which makes him the ultimate antihero. We got to see a more vulnerable side to Vlad in this installment while as Leila was all steel and resolve. The balance of power in their relationship has been markedly one-sided until now, so I loved the role reversal, and as expected, the author didn’t hold back on the ravishing either. *winks*
Maximus drove me nutso in the best kind of way, and I was happy that Leila’s father finally saw reason after his prolonged silent treatment of his daughter. Marty was as primo as always, and my hankering for a Cat & Bones cameo was quenched, although it’s worth pointing out that their part was somewhat spoiler-y if you haven’t read UP FROM THE GRAVE yet. Mencheres also popped in to say hi which made my character driven self very jubilant. You’ll notice that I’m glossing over the plot, and that’s because it puts to bed the main story arc, so I’m not willing to risk accidentally spilling the beans, but it’s DA BOMB!
This was my first time listening to a NIGHT PRINCE audiobook, however I was already acquainted with Tavia Gilbert as a narrator, so I had zero quibbles about her performance going in. Her renditions of both of the protagonists were on par with those that I had inside my head prior to her voice taking them over. I’m a sucker for accents, and her English (Bones), Romanian (Vlad), and New Orleans (Marie) vernacular left me tickled pink. I’m still trying to determine whether it was the narration or the writing that has me dubbing this as my favourite installment, either way, I loved it!
BOUND BY FLAMES will make you break out into a Snoopy happy dance!
This novel was obviously for all of the ICED haters out there, so if you fall into that category, you’ll probably love BURNED. As for the rest of us, this installment was a tremendous letdown. Karen Marie Moning tried to right the wrongs of book 6 by reshaping several of the characters into more ‘acceptable’ versions of themselves, distracting readers from this story’s numerous plot holes with an outrageous amount of POVs, and taking the easy (predictable) road twist-wise instead of the one less traveled. It wasn’t awful, I still enjoyed the writing, narration, and being back in this world, but the FEVER edge is gone.
I kind of wish that I’d bypassed this audiobook altogether because it completely obliterated the Mac & Barrons of old. Some HEAs should NOT be revisited! Apparently sex has fried Miss Lane’s brain, and she’s now a halfwit unworthy of the nine’s respect more concerned with talking to herself than saving Dublin. Jericho ghosts through this novel, finally avenges his lover, but not really because he doesn’t unleash his beast for her. Their chemistry as a couple is dead, and instead in its wake we’re left with heaps of empty steam. And, the source of this installment’s title was just another log on the fire of LAME.
I don’t have nearly enough fingers to count how many POVs we cycled through. Something definitely needed to be done about Dani’s age in order for this series to continue on its current trajectory, however KMM’s solution was entirely too child-proof. As was her time-saving use of the Sinsar Dubh, and the supposed cliff hanger was a two-bit sneeze in comparison to those from previous books. Ryo underwent a major personality overhaul which so didn’t suit him, and I really wish that the author had built upon the new Unseelie arc. I liked learning more about the nine, Lor’s scenes were fantastic, and Jada showed promise, but they were just duct tape, not a permanent fix.
The narrators were the heart and soul of this audiobook. If I were to rate this listen based wholly on their performances, it would be a resounding five. Phil Gigante’s voice gave me shivers when JZB’s words fell flat, and I loved the subtle variations of his Scottish accents when he was reading the MacKeltars. Natalie Ross did a comparably awesome job of the female characters with her Irish fluctuations, and somehow managed to bring excitement to a story that would have otherwise been boring without her leading the charge. I also appreciated that both narrators gave an echo / cave-like quality to the internal dialogues, it made them easy to spot.
BURNED is an island that would have been better left unexplored in the FEVER realm.
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