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Review – Before I Fall – Jessica Scott

before I fallBefore I Fall
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: #1 in the Falling series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Stay focused. Get a job. Save her father’s life.

Beth Lamont knows far too much about the harsh realities of life her gilded classmates have only read about in class. She’ll do whatever it takes to take care of her father, even if that means tutoring a guy like Noah – a guy who represents everything she hates about the war, soldiers and what the Army has done to her family.

Noah Warren doesn’t know how to be a student. All he knows is war. But he’s going to college now to fulfill a promise and he doesn’t break his promises. Except he doesn’t count on his tutor being drop dead gorgeous and distracting as hell. One look at Beth threatens to unravel the careful lies Noah has constructed around him.

A simple arrangement turns into something neither of them can deny. And a war that neither of them can forget could destroy them both.

Review:
I’ve been a fan of Jessica Scott’s for over a year now because I love the realism that she manages to inject into all her books. As I warn people when I recommend her stuff, don’t expect a military romance that is full of bunnies and rainbows – you will be disappointed – they are gut-wrenching and realistic, and you will often find yourself going through an emotional roller-coaster (and that is what I love about her stuff). But at the same time, I’m firmly in the skeptical camp about the New Adult (NA) sub-genre of books – mostly because for me, they are a time period that I want to forget (I mean, what woman REALLY wants to be reminded of herself in those years between high school and college). So I will admit that when I saw Jessica was branching off into NA and trying something, I wasn’t sure if I would pick up Before I Fall or not – but when it was offered as a review copy via NetGalley – it just seemed like fate.

In Before I Fall, you meet Beth and Noah – Beth a struggling college student, acting as a primary care-taker of her father (an injured military veteran) and Noah, a former Army soldier, now pursuing a college degree. From the get-go, I was pull into the trials and tribulations of Beth and her struggles. I will admit that compared to her other books, Before I Fall, was much more in your face (as the reader) for highlighting issues with the VA medical system. I mean, you hear from veterans and in the media how much it is broken, but Jessica was able to elevate the level of horror I felt to mind-boggling. As a former Navy member, I just don’t get it and I guess I should thank my lucky stars every day, that I haven’t been forced to use their services yet.

Its always hard for me to peg what exactly I love about Jessica’s writing – its not only the realism that she brings to her books, but also the emotions. So many books nowadays just leave me feeling empty because I don’t experience the emotional connection – but I do with her books (and often will read it in a single sitting, or very soon after). Before I Fall did have a high level of angst, mostly inter-personal with Beth and her father; and Noah and his PTSD, and less on the Beth/Noah front – that I appreciated – although there were a few places, where I just wanted to reach out and shake her because I expected her to know better based on her experiences. But that being said, Jessica Scott delivered another solid read and I’m intrigued enough to want to pick up the second one in this series (as well as read her other new series). Before I Fall got 4 stars for me, but as a warning – make sure you have a box of tissues nearby while reading – you may need them.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Suffer the Children – Craig DiLouie

Audies nominee paranormal

suffer the childrenSuffer the Children
Author: Craig DiLouie
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: R.C. Bray
Run Time: 11hrs 26min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?

Review:
WARNING: Book contains scenes that may be nightmare inducing to parents of young children
It is very rare that I need to pause listening to a book mid-way through for a mental break, but Craig DiLouie’ Suffer the Children made me do just that. I’ll be upfront and say that horror is normally not a genre I would pick up, although there are some authors that I will stick my toes into that field just for them (and I guess the same could be said for narrators I enjoy). In fact, this book never would have crossed my reading/listening path, if it hadn’t been nominated for an audie in the Paranormal category but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to listen to it.

First things first, this isn’t your normal vampire fare (or how vampire fare has come to be written recently) – if I had to draw parallel’s it is much more like the old school dracula type vampire, rather than the new romance-y ones. There was nothing nice/romantic about these but that being said, there wasn’t anything really original about the vampires either. For me, the draw in the book was more the philosophical take on how far would you go – it reminded me a lot of the questions asked in the morality class I took in college – if you had to kill 5 or 1 which would you pick? what was the solution for the greater good. I don’t necessarily know if that was what DiLouie was trying to convey in the book (I have a feeling that it was), but that is where my mind went. The prevailing question – what would you do for just one more hour, one more day with your children? I’m not a parent and the idea of having to make that choice is just horrific to me, I can’t imagine who someone who is a parent and listening to this would react.

I will say that I wasn’t expecting the book as it did – although that ending kind of makes sense…it kind of makes me wonder what happens next…

R.C. Bray, once again, brought his skillful narration to the book and it was via this that I felt myself cringing in places and ending up having at least one nightmare during the course of listening. (BTW, tweeting that to an horror author will get you a huge thanks…lol). Having listened to Bray narrate several books in different sub-genres (sci-fi; urban fantasy and now paranormal/horror), its safe to say that he is going to be an auto-buy/listen in the future. Its hard to peg exactly how his narration worked – maybe the fact that I found myself physically cringing in places as I heard his narration of different parts or the fact that I was so invested in what happened to the different characters that hearing what happened to them made me sit in my car in shock for a good 20 minutes one day.

Both the book and the narration were a solid 4 stars for me and I know that I will be checking out more work by DiLouie in the future (even if his writing scares the beejeebers out of me at times). Hopefully with more narration by R.C. Bray in the future.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Pleasure of a Dark Prince – Kresley Cole

Audies nominee paranormal

pleasure dark princePleasure of a Dark Prince
Author: Kresley Cole
Series: #9 in the Immortals After Dark series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Run Time: 12hrs and 12minutes
Narration Rating ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
A DANGEROUS BEAUTY…
Lucia the Huntress: as mysterious as she is exquisite, she harbors secrets that threaten to destroy her — and those she loves.
AN UNCONTROLLABLE NEED…
Garreth MacRieve, Prince of the Lykae: the brutal Highland warrior who burns to finally claim this maddeningly sensual creature as his own.
THAT LEAD TO A PLEASURE SO WICKED….
From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian. To do this, Garreth will ruthlessly exploit Lucia’s greatest weakness — her wanton desire for him.

Review:
I’ll admit that I was glad to see this book nominated for an Audie in the Paranormal category because I have been slowly working my way through the series in the last few months – although listening to this installment meant that I had to jump a couple of books in the series (from #6 to this one), but the good thing is that while I was missing a little bit of the back story, it wasn’t enough to detract from my listening pleasure. The heroine in Pleasure of a Dark Prince is Lucia, who has been a constant feature in previous books – so even though I did skip a couple, I was well-versed in who she was and some of her antics in the past. The same with Garreth – while I don’t remember specifically meeting him previously, the MacRieve family had been present in several of the previous books and he had been mentioned.

Pleasure of the Dark Prince was pretty much a roller coaster ride from the get-go – the last few that I have listened to seem to be much more quest based – i.e. a quest to find a weapon or a person, than just a straight paranormal romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love this and it makes for something different, but at times, I find that the quest and the characters desire to complete it, sometimes overshadows the romance. In this case, Lucia was kind of like that – I saw the passion between her and MacReive – but at the same time, she drove me batshit crazy because she did some dumb shit in order to fulfill her mission. But since it was an idiotic move that had originally caused her to end up in trouble, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised…

As usual, the hotness level between the two main characters was bordering being off the charts and I felt the need to fan myself in a few places. Not sure if it was the narration by the fabulous Robert Petkoff or the combo of the writing and narration (either way, do yourself a favor and listen to one of his narrations – I dare you to disagree). I will say though that while the romance between Lucia and Garreth was hot, it was the zany cast of other characters who I have come to appreciate – especially Nix – in fact, I think one of my twitter posts while listening was something about getting my Nix Fix.

When it comes to audiobook listening, there are a few narrators that I will pick up book description unseen because I have had such a good experience with them previously. Robert Pekhoff is one of them – his narration has the ability to make my knees go weak in places (which is potentially bad when you are listening while on the treadmill). He also has the ability to make all the characters sound unique in their own way, which is impressive when you consider that this is book 9 in a series and each book has a variety of different characters and many of them appear in other books. I have no idea how he manages to keep them all straight.

Pleasure of a Dark Prince was a solid installment into Cole’s Immortals After Dark series and Pekhoff continues his narration prowess. I can’t wait to go back and listen to the books I just skipped and continue the series. Its going to be hard picking a winner in the Paranormal category, because they are all solid so far. Pleasure of a Dark Prince got 4 stars for both story and narration.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

Audies nominee paranormal

girl of all giftsThe Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Finty Williams
Run Time: 13hrs and 4min
Production Company: Hachette Audio
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Review:
The Girl with all the Gifts is a book that I have seen show up in my various blog feeds for a good six months now probably. I kept meaning to read it (or listen to it), but for some reason never had which I guess was great timing, because when I saw it was nominated for an Audie in the Paranormal category, I jumped on the opportunity. I will say this, take the description and just ignore it because that encompasses about the first 20 pages of the book and then you are in for a roller coaster of a ride. The first half was a bit slow (at least in places), but about 6 hours in it started to pick up and the rest was much a continual on-the-go. Although I will say it is really hard to write a review for this without divulging spoilers – because every little thing that occurs from the description on, contributes to the overall story.

I really enjoyed how the author managed to integrate different elements from Greek mythology into the story, along with the current zombie craze (and I feel safe saying that even if its technically a spoiler, because its revealed uber early on). I will say that I’m normally not a zombie fan, because for the most part, they turn out to be a less than entertaining kill kill kill fest – whereas the Girl (or Melanie as she is called) seemed to be much more thinking and developed. I was a tad disappointed with (for me) how the ending played out – based on reviews that I had read, I think I was just expecting a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad and everything was complete – I just expected more – which is why the story itself only got 4 stars, rather than the 5 it was leaning towards early on.

Flinty Williams was a new narrator to me but it won’t be the last time that I listen to her. Imagine my shock when I googled her name (because I wanted to see if she had twitter so I could tweet that I was listening to her) and found out that she was Dame Judy Dench’s daughter…right there, that just solidified my like of her. I thought that she did really well with Melanie’s POV’s – they sounded like a younger girl (although you never really know how old Melanie truely is). I also liked her narration for the SGT (since that is what he was called the majority of the book) – Ms Williams was able to give a gruffness (for lack of a better word) to his voice that I would expect from a military person. I will admit that her narration for the 2 main females – the teacher and the Dr – kind of blended together after a while – but thankfully, they weren’t talking a lot together, so I could at least keep them separate that way.

I also gave the narration of The Girl with All Gifts 4 stars and will be intrigued to check out more books by the author in the future/ more stuff narrated by Ms Williams.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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TBR Tuesday – 31 March 2015

TBR TuesdayA Little Harmless Lie
Author: Melissa Schroeder
Series: #4 in the Harmless series

Date Purchased: December 14, 2010

Review: I honestly can’t believe I had forgotten about this series – it was one of the first erotic romance series I bought when I got my kindle back in 2009 (although I also purchased one of her books in print way back when as well). So it was kind of a shock to find not only this one, but at least one other one on the unread pile still. I enjoyed the dynamic between Dee and Micah and how she didn’t just bow down to him and the writing (as always) was hot. I’ll be digging into the pile to see what other books I have by Melissa still unread/buying the rest of the books in the series to get caught back up. 4 stars overall for a quick/hot read.

What about you guys – what book did you discover on Mt TBR this week?

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in TBR Tuesday

 

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Review – Get Lucky – Anthology

get luckyGet Lucky
Authors: Robin Covington, Nicola Marsh, Kelsey Browning, Avery Flynn, Kimberly Kincaid, Sara Humphreys
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Nicola Marsh – Walking the Line
Ellie is a decade older than Finn but that doesn’t stop the charming Irishman from wooing her.
Ellie doesn’t believe in the happily-ever-after dream any longer, not since hers imploded a long time ago. But can a smooth-talking Irishman sway a hard-hearted cynic to believe in love again?

This was my first time reading anything by Nicola Marsh and while I found the story intriguing, it just didn’t quite do it for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good older woman, younger man story but I didn’t ever really feel for Ellie- I found her annoying. But I enjoyed the author’s writing style, so I may check out something else by her in the future. I gave her installment 3 stars.

Kelsey Browning – Amazed by You
Author’s assistant Olivia McLaughlin must pull off an extravagant St. Patrick’s Day garden party to win a coveted promotion, but her success hinges on landscape designer Cody Kavanaugh, her old high school boyfriend. Now, Olivia must decide which she can’t live without—the job that will make her a success or the man offering her a second chance at love.

I’m a huge fan of Kelsey’s and this story was no different. I loved Olivia as a character, and her relationship with Cody was cute – i’m a sucker for a reunited type romance. although I will say that Sadie, Olivia’s slightly (ok, mostly) neurotic employer. I can’t wait to see if she gets a story in the future. I gave Amazed by You 4.5 stars.

Robin Covington – One Little Kiss
Trapped by a snowstorm in the same place at the same time, Leighton and Jonas must decide if their hot night together was the end of their story or if they started forever with just one little kiss…

This story was a hard one of me to rate – because I did enjoy it but towards the end I found myself wanting more. I would love to see it taken and turned into a full-length story because there was so much potential and everything just felt rushed for me. But it had Robin’s familiar writing style and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff in the future. This story got 3.5 stars from me.

Avery Flynn – Big, Bad Red
There’s nothing little or naive about this Red Riding Hood. Red runs the biggest fencing operation for fairytale treasures out of the back of Granny’s Pub. But when she comes into possession of the Caladbolg sword things get hairy–as in hot, sexy Liam MacTíre the werewolf hairy.

I’ll admit that I am a total sucker for fairy tale retellings and Big Bad Red hit all my happy buttons. I loved Red as a character and the story was hot (oh holy heck was it hot). I would love to see more books written in this world and I know that i’ll be checking out Avery’s other Fairytale retellings (since I already love her contemporary romances). Big, Bad Red got 3.5 stars from me.

Sara Humphreys – Luck of the Irish
Banished to the mirrored realm for hundreds of years, Declan Aherne had nothing but time to plot his revenge and mourn the loss of his beloved wife. But when a beautiful human woman, with a familiar amulet, stares into the mirror….Declan’s luck was about to change.

Sarah Humphrey’s was the second new author in the anthology to me. I really liked the idea of a Leprechaum as a hero – i mean seriously, how cool is that? And the story that Sara wove was great, intriguing and complex. Unfortunately, the ending left me feeling kind of irked because it didn’t really end and unfortuntely, that dropped my rating for this installment down to 3 stars.

Kimberly Kincaid – Something Borrowed
When her successful brother announces his plans for an impromptu wedding in Ireland, unlucky-in-love chef Sasha Arrington is stuck between the Blarney Stone and a hard place. Sasha needs a wingman for her brother’s wedding, and the romantic destination could be just what James Sullivan needs to tempt Sasha out of the friend zone.

I’m in a toss-up over whether Kimberly’s contribution or Kelsey’s is my favorite. There was something about Sasha and Sully’s story that just hit all my happy buttons. I loved the sexual tension between them and it kind of reminded me of the movie, The Wedding Date, which I will always watch when I get a chance. Although I will say, really Sully, UVa…no, just no. I gave Something Borrowed 4.5 stars.

Overall I really enjoyed all 6 books in this anthology and I will be checking out the two new authors (Nicola Marsh and Sara Humphrey) in the future. but my 2 favorite stories by far were Kelsey Browning and Kimberly Kincaid’s. Overall, I gave the anthology 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Damoren – Seth Skorkowsky

Audies nominee paranormal

damorenDamoren
Author: Seth Skorkowsky
Series: #1 in the Valducan series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: R.C. Bray
Run Time: 10hrs 58min

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Audible Inc

Description:
A secret society of monster hunters.
A holy revolver forged to eradicate demons.
A possessed man with a tragic past.
A rising evil bent on destroying them all.

MATT HOLLIS is the current wielder of the holy weapon, Dämoren. With it, he stalks and destroys demons.

A secret society called the VALDUCANS has taken an interest in Matt’s activities. They see him as a reckless rogue—little more than a ‘cowboy’ corrupted by a monster—and a potential threat to their ancient order.

As knights and their sentient weapons begin dying, Matt teams up with other hunters of his kind such as LUIZA, a woman with a conquistador blade; ALLAN, an Englishman with an Egyptian khopesh; MALCOLM, a voodoo priest with a sanctified machete; and TAKAIRA, a naginata-swinging Samurai.

As the hunters become the hunted, they must learn to trust one another before a powerful demonic entity thrusts the world into a terrible and ageless darkness.

Review:
I’ll be the first to admit that if Damoren hadn’t been nominated for an Audie (audiobook awards) in the Paranormal category, I likely never would have picked me up. None of my friends on Goodreads have it shelved (and I get probably 90% of my recommendations from there) and it likely isn’t a book that I would have come across easily in a bookstore or browsing on Audible, but now that I have listened to it, I’m glad I did and am waiting for the next book in the series to be available in audio (it was just released in print), so that I can get a hold of it.

I’m probably one of the few people in the world who can’t listen to music while suffering on the treadmill, but for some reason audiobooks work for me and I started Damoren at the same time I jumped on the treadmonster for a 4 mile run (I am totally sick of winter which is a whole nother story) – and my run just blew on by – I was so sucked into the story, that I glanced down and I was at 3.5 miles, it had just flown by (normally, I would have been like huffing/puffing and watching the distance count down). But Damoren sucked me in so quickly that I was done before I knew it and the ride just continued from there. For the most part, I limited my listening to the gym and occasionally part of my commute because I wanted something to look forward to (which of course, added a significant amount of time to how long it would normally take me to listen to an audiobook but it was worth it).

It is really hard to pinpoint what exactly I liked about Damoren – it was full of adventure, encompassing at least 4 different countries (maybe 5); there was lots of bloods, guts and killing as well as a plethora of mythical creatures – not just your normal run of the mill vampires and werewolves that dominate the fantasy landscape. I really liked the idea of the holy weapon’s that could kill these creatures – that was probably the biggest hook for me, Damoren being only one of them. One of my favorite parts were the flashbacks between the current day and the historical when Damoren was being created. I really hope that there are more books in the series based on the other holy weapons, especially the Samurai sword!!

The narration (by the fantastic R.C. Bray) was near flawless. I’ve raved about how much I’ve enjoyed his stuff before (see my review of The Martain and Damoren didn’t disappoint. In fact, with 2 other nominations in the paranormal category (one as a single narrator, and other in a cast), this audie category is his to lose (but hopefully that doesn’t jinx him). While my previous experience with R.C. Bray was primarily American accents, with Damoren, you got the chance to see the breadth of his skill, with Russian accents, german, male and female – it was honestly astounded how well he did in distinguishing between all the different characters and how well he transitioned between them during the course of the story.

Do yourself a favor – just listen to Damoren – you won’t regret it – if I had to try to provide context – take an author like James Rollins or Matt Reilly, mix in some Jim Butcher and you have a pretty good idea of where Damoren fits in the canon. 4.5 stars for the narration and 4 for the story. Now to hurry up and wait for the next book to be released in audio format.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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