Worried about turning into bride-zilla? Nothing will make you feel better about your own wedding planning mishaps than reading about Jolene’s upcoming werewolf nuptials. Between her family’s questionable traditions, a future mother-in-law from hell and a theme that’s centered on a sinking ship; there’s no shortage of drama in Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men. Molly Harper’s unique sense of humour never fails to bring a smile to my face and even a few laugh-out-low moments but when her story is narrated by Amanda Ronconi the whole experience becomes doubly enjoyable. In this installment we get the best of both worlds: Jane Jameson AND werewolves!
I’m currently in the midst of planning my own big day so I absolutely loved reading about Jolene’s werewolf wedding disasters. She’s a fictional character so I didn’t feel bad about laughing at and even feeling better because of her misfortunes. There are several things that I am dreading about this whole “getting married” process but I was comforted by the knowledge that no matter how bad it gets, it’ll never be this bad. The wedding cake snafu was hilarious and I almost started crying from laughing so hard when the new couple had their first dance to Celine Dion.
One of my favourite characters in this series has to be Dick Cheney; every time he’s in a scene I just know that within no time I’ll be trying to suppress an uncontrollable case of the giggles. We uncover what his secret “vampire” power is and it’s so blatantly obvious yet ridiculously preposterous at the same time. I was as shocked as Jane was to learn the truth but couldn’t resist doing a quick *facepalm* over having missed the clues. Cheney even goes so far as to vamperize Jane’s car; you won’t believe the modifications that Harper dreamed up! This guy should get his own spin-off series. Seriously!
I loved getting to know more about the werewolves in this series; some of their wedding traditions are downright weird but they were definitely good for a laugh. Female wolves don’t consider the B-word to be derogatory and Jane quickly catches on to that fact; it was funny listening to her vent her frustrations over dealing with Jolene’s crazy family by repeatedly using the term. Unfortunately, the bride-to-be quickly caught on to Jameson’s scheme and makes her tone it down. It was great while it lasted though!
The only reason why I haven’t finished this series yet is because I find that the audiobooks are a great way to get me out of a reading slump so I always try to keep at least one in reserve. Molly Harper never ceases to entertain and Nice Girls Don’t Date Men is a great addition to her repertoire. If you haven’t listened to a story narrated by Amanda Ronconi yet, this series is for you.
I was drawn to the demon summoning aspect of this series because of its uniqueness within the Paranormal genre, and I also never miss an installment of Diana Rowland's WHITE TRASH ZOMBIES, so I knew that I'd make my way to KARA GILLIAN eventually. This story was way more serious than my previous experiences with this author's writing, but it was extra sexy as well which helped to even it out. At this point in time, I'm picking Ryan over Rhyzkahl, although neither has proven themselves yet, therefore things could go either way on the romance front. I liked Liv Anderson's narration, and have already purchased the second audiobook.
I've been enjoying this series thus far, but this installment really brought it! The porn star murder mystery had barrel-of-laughs written all over it, doubly so with Harry Dresden on the case. BLOOD RITES put a lot of the characters' roles into perspective; Murphy tries being a vigilante on for size, Ebenezar is not what he seems, and Thomas—I did NOT see that one coming. This book was a turning point for THE DRESDEN FILES, and... PUPPIES!
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.
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