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Audiobook Review – Winter – Marissa Meyer


Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: #4 in the Lunar Chronicles
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Rebecca Solar
Run Time: 23hrs and 30min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Review:
Winter is one of the two books out of the audiobooks on my Armchair Audies list that I had previously read – going back and looking at the notes I left to myself on Goodreads last year – my summary of the book could be summed up as follows – “thank god its over, it felt like it lasted forever.” It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the series because I did – its just that I felt this last book really dragged on because there were so many loose ends that needed to be tied up – almost like it needed a 5th book that was more of pulling all the bits and pieces together, while letting the 4th book be more about Winter – because honestly, I felt like her story was subsumed by what was going on with Cinder and Cress as they tried to free Lunar and its people from Levana.

This final installation in the series was full of action and adventure – but at the same time – it just got tiring both reading and listening to what was going on – there was no break, no recovery for the main characters. And yet, they managed to pull out success after success. Yes, I know that its fiction and suspension of disbelief is a thing but I was physically tried from listening to it – which is something that doesn’t often happen with audiobooks.

Rebecca Solar is a new audiobook narrator to me but I felt like she captured the young adult voice of the characters in Winter well. Her narration of Winter’s sweet innocent voice was about as I pictured it while reading the book. She managed to bubbly personality of Iko, as well as the more down-to-earth narration of Cress and Scarlet’s French accent. On the male aspect of the narration – her voices were solid – nothing that blew me away, but I didn’t hate them either. For a 23 hour audiobook, it was a pleasant listening experience, even if, as mentioned above, I was physically tired from listening when it was finally done. I’m sad to see this series end and yet – at the same time, I was happy to see it end (if that makes any sense…).

While my rating of the book stayed at 3 stars, I rated Solar’s narration as 4 solid stars – I have to wonder how my impression of the book would have changed, if I had only listened to it and not read it previously?

 

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Review – The Riddle of the Labyrinth – Margalit Fox

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
Author: Margalit Fox
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery. Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox’s riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean–the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen–to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the decipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.

Review:
Over the last few years, I’ve been turning more and more to non-fiction books by choice when I find myself looking for new stuff to read. Its hard to describe why because growing up, I always avoided it like a bad smell (for lack of a better term), but I’ve discovered that non-fiction isn’t all that bad – especially, if its about a topic that catches my eye. This is probably a book I never would have discovered on my own, if it hadn’t been picked as a group read for a reading challenge that I frequently participate in – the Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads (the specific reading category was “The Unexplained”).

For me, part of the reason I chose this over the 2 fiction options, was the idea of seeing how a mystery that existed for over half a century was solved. I remember going to see Stargate (the original with Richard Dean Anderson) when I was in high school – and seeing the process by which Daniel Jackson (the scientist) broke the code of the Stargate was probably one of the few parts of the movie that I enjoyed (not normally a huge sci-fi fan) – and since Riddle of the Labyrinth had a similar basis – I figured it was going to be an enjoyable read but I wasn’t prepared for how engaged I was going to be. I found myself attempting to sneak away and actually take a lunch break at work, so that I could read “just a little bit more.”

Riddle of the Labyrinth wasn’t a hard read – Fox has an engaging style of writing that was very personable for me – I felt like I was sitting with Alice Kobar in her small home as she worked on breaking the code. Although I will admit, reading about how she was treated by colleagues and others associated with breaking the code kind of irked me. I know that it was likely being that she was a product of the times – where women weren’t taken as seriously – but so many times, I just wanted to yell at the men to listen to her and treat her like the academic that she was (instead of like a secretary like she so often was treated as). Ultimately, the secret of the tablets wasn’t that profound – at the beginning of the book there was a hypothesis of what the tablets might potentially contain – seeing how that in part formed a basis for the research – made the anticipation of the mystery resolution all the more apparent.

I’m pretty sure that I will seek out Fox’s other book -her Goodreads page lists a book about a small town in Israel where the primary language is a form of sign language.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Hot on Ice Anthology

Hot on Ice
Authors: Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Nana Malone, Virginia Nelson, Xio Axelrod, Christi Barth, Andie J. Christopher, Kim Golden, Lena Hart, Desiree Holt, Robin Kaye, Katie Kenyhercz, Heather Long, Kate Meader, Angi Morgan, Susan Scott Shelley, Misty D. Waters

20% of royalties from sales of Hot on Ice will go to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans.

Description:
Wow! Some of the hottest romance authors have banded together to write a hockey romance anthology for charity about a whole team of hockey players who win The Cup and fall in love in some hot, sexy stories.

Review:
Ok – now that I’ve finished fanning my face – because wowsers, i’m pretty sure Hot on Ice, may have melting the ice that the Cajun Rage played on when they won the cup. Pardon me in advance because I may go slightly fan girl during the course of this review (I mean, because with all these awesome authors – who wouldn’t!!). I will prefer this review with admitting that I always find it hard to write reviews for anthologies (especially ones with 18 different contributions) – because who wants to read a review that could run to multiple pages long…so I’m just going to hit a few highlights – but all I can say – is go and buy this book now! you won’t regret it (and if you do…well…ummm, yeah I got nada).

I love seeking out anthologies with multiple authors like this because its rare that a) I either know all the authors or b) all the authors are new to me – so I frequently get exposure both to new stories by old favorites (yes, I’m looking at you Kimberly Kincaid, Avery Flynn and Robin Covington) and well as new authors to check out (everyone that isn’t the afore mentioned 3 favorites!). For me the success of this anthology was the basis of how all the stories were partly inter-related – focusing around a championship winning hockey team and then each author taking their unique storytelling abilities from there.

Please don’t ask me to pick my favorite story in the anthology because I CAN’T! I mean, all things being equal – I can see myself going back and re-reading all the books in the anthology again in the future. So do yourself a favor, run, don’t walk to your nearest favorite ebook retailer and buy Hot on Ice!

Buy Links:
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jFsJg8
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fOCS8g
B&N: http://bit.ly/2gC6ceJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ggBnyg

Giveaway Link – click here to enter into a rafflecopter giveaway (chance to win a $25 Amazon Giftcard!)

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Blog Tour, Book Review, Review

 

Review – The Valiant – Lesley Livingston

The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: #1 in the Valiant series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

Review:
A couple of months I received an email from Netgalley (as I do quite often) about a new young adult historical fiction book that was due to be released in February. Normally, I take a quick scroll through these emails but don’t pay a lot of mind – but this time something caught my eye – maybe it was a rather unique time period (ancient rome) or the cover that just showed a single young woman standing in a stadium – but I knew that if I didn’t request it, then I was going to ask my library to purchase it (which they so kindly did). Anyways, I had had a long week and so I curled up in bed with the pups one Saturday and pretty much read the Valiant in one sitting – which is something that I rarely do.

Ancient Rome is definitely not a popular time period in historical fiction, and a book featuring a female gladiator (gladiatrix) is even rarer (honestly – I can’t even think of a recent book featuring male gladiators). Fallon has to be one of the most kick-ass heroines I’ve read about in a long time – especially considering the time period that the book was set – where women were often seen as little more than chattle. From the get go, I knew that Fallon was a character that I was going to be drawn to – like many other well-known females in history, she bucked the traditions of her time, and pushed the boundaries of proper behavior.

While there were the undertones of a potential romance between Fallon and one of the Roman soldiers (or male of significant rank, I can’t remember exactly what his position was) – it wasn’t overwhelming (and thankfully there was no love triangle!). It was more of an adventure/coming of age than a romance – but I believe that is a second book in the works, so that could change. I know that I will be looking forward to reading it when it does come out. I wish in general there were more books set in time periods like Ancient Rome (or similar civilizations). The Valiant got 4 stars from me with a heavy recommendation for anyone who likes historical fiction with kickass female characters!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Sweet Dreams – Sunny Leone

Sweet Dreams
Author: Sunny Leone
Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Simone Lewis , Vikas Adam
Run Time: 3hrs 41min
Audiobook Publisher: Audiobooks.com Publishing
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
In this thrilling erotic story collection from India’s most Googled person, listeners finally get inside the mind of actress and entrepreneur Sunny Leone with 12 short stories that range from sweet to seductive to scandalous.

Review:
According to the cover of Sweet Dreams – it is a combination of Mills and Boon, and Fifty Shades with a touch of India – I can’t really say if that is completely true – since I never read Fifty Shades, but honestly this was probably the most lackluster Mills and Boon, I’ve read or listened to. For me, it barely met my level of romance – let alone erotica – some of the stories were mildly hot, but mostly, I was left scratching my head. Looking back the ones I enjoyed the most were those set in India – but the few that were supposedly set in the US – you could tell that they were based off a fantasy of how things were – a young new engineering spending several hundred thousand dollars for an escort…

Both Simone Lewis and Vikas Adam are new to me narrators and while I can’t say I loved their narration – it was solid and enjoyable. However, since the book was only 3hours long (although at times, it felt longer than that) – I wasn’t truly able to explore their narration abilities – with the short stories – and them alternating back and forth – I would just start enjoying one narration and it would end and I’d have to switch to another one.

Personally, I found Sweet Dreams to be kind of disappointing and it just didn’t work for me – I gave it 2.5 stars, but the narration did get 3 stars from me.

 

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Review – Living Death – Graham Masterton

living-deathLiving Death
Author: Graham Masterton
Series: #7 in the Katie Maguire series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
DS Katie Maguire is at a loss. Last year, she and her team destroyed the biggest drug trafficker in Cork. So how is the city’s drug trade at an all-time high? Meanwhile, a spate of violent attacks which leave victims severely disabled has brought confidence in the Garda to an all-time low.

As Katie investigates, she realises that the two cases might be connected. Someone is using brain-damaged victims to smuggle drugs into the country. And the only way to find out more is to go in undercover…

Review:
Sometimes I want to curse my local library because of their awesome selection of new books – even when I just dart on it to grab something that I had reserved – I can’t resist doing a quick browse through the new book shelf and typically I end up adding one or two books to the epic Mt TBR. Living Death was one of those books that just caught my eye when I did a quick browse one day. I’m not exactly sure what it was that caught my eye because there isn’t anything unique about the cover that really makes it stand out – but it was a chunkier book and I was kind of in the mood for something longer – so maybe that was it…

Admittedly I didn’t check ahead of time to see if it was part of a series and I think I could have enjoyed it slightly more having read at least a couple of the previous books (since this was the 7th book in the series) – but honestly, the storyline was well-developed enough (with the exception of the background behind Katie’s Significant Others health issues) that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything significant. In fact, I thought Masterson did a solid job of getting into the dark underbelly of the drug smuggling world and the length that some people will go to get drugs into a country. Because, damn, there was some seriously sick/depraved characters in this book – it actually made me cringe a few times.

I’ll admit that i’m curious enough about both how Katie ended up in the position that she was in in Living Death and also where she might go in the future – that I am definitely going to check out my library for the rest of the books in the series. I know that Graham Masterson could easily end up as an auto-read author for me if his other books are as dark and depraved in places as Living Death. A solid 4 stars from me.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Baller – Vi Keeland

audie-nominee-erotica

the-baller The Baller
Author: Vi Keeland
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Mackenzie Cartwright, Sean Crisden
Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio
Run Time: 8hrs 49min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
The first time I met Brody Easton was in the men’s locker room. It was my first interview as a professional sportscaster. The famed quarterback decided to bare all. And by all, I don’t mean he told me any of his secrets. No. The arrogant ass decided to drop his towel just as I asked the first question. On camera.
The Super Bowl MVP quickly adopted a new hobby: screwing with me. When I pushed back, he shifted from wanting to screw with me to wanting to screw me. But I don’t date players. And it’s not because I’m one of the few women working in the world of professional football. I’d date an athlete. It’s the other kind of player I don’t date. You know the type. Good looking, strong, cocky, always looking to get laid.
Brody Easton was the ultimate player. Every woman wanted to be the one to change him. But the truth was, all he needed was a girl worth changing for. Turned out I was that girl. Simple, right? Let’s face it. It never is.
There’s a story between once upon a time and happily ever after…and this one is ours.

Review:
Sometimes I feel like i’m uber far behind in current hot authors that friends are reading – and Vi Keeland is just one of those authors who I had heard a lot about and never read – so when one of her books was nominated for an Audiobook Audie in the Erotica category, I figured it was time that I checked her out. Although asking several of my goodreads friends told me that The Baller possible wasn’t the best of her books to be my first one – but I have to say it honestly wasn’t horrible – I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. the romance between Brody and Delilah was hawt – but I could have done without the addition of Brody’s ex – I honestly just felt like that didn’t add anything other than un-needed angst to the story that was actually pretty solid in the romance department (although I will debate whether its actually erotica, but that is a story for another day).

This was my first time listening to Mackenzie Cartwright but not my first time listening to Sean Crisden. I will say that I really enjoyed Mackenzie’s narration – I found her range of voices to be solid and even the portions where she narrated as a male was enjoyable. The pacing of her narration felt natural (meaning I didn’t feel like I needed to speed up or slow down the narration to enjoy it). Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Sean Crisden (although I have listened to other stuff by him before). While I enjoyed the portions where he was narrating as Brody (or other male characters) – I wasn’t a fan of his female voices – in fact they actually made me cringe at times. His female narration was one of the reasons for my 3.5 stars for this audiobook – I just personally, I couldn’t get past them.

I’ve been a fan of Tantor Media’s audiobooks for years and enjoy their continued high quality audiobook productions. I know when I listen to a book done by them, that it will be solid with no issues. Overall, I gave The Baller – 3.5 stars for the book and the narration and 4 stars for the audiobook production.

 

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