Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Destined for An Early Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress, Book 4
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Year: 2010
Publisher: Blackstone Audio

Goodreads Description:

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they've fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it's time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She's having visions of a vampire named Gregor who's more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn't know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won't stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor's hold over her. She'll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she's ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

This series keeps getting more addictive with every book. I love the characters, the dialogue and the action. I like that Frost doesn't make Bones and Cat's relationship storybook. Instead, they have to fight to make things work and this book was a prime definition of fighting for a relationship. I got so caught up in the audiobook that I ended up just sitting in my bedroom listening to the last 2 1/2 hours because I had to know how it was going to turn out. There were a couple of unexpected turns in this book. Once again Gilbert does an excellent job with the narration. Even her voice for Bones is starting to grow on me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Royal Flush

Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness, Book 3
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Year: 2010
Publisher: Berkley/Audible

Goodreads Description:
With its posh clientele in the country for the summer, Georgie's housecleaning business has fizzled. So she tries hiring herself out as a dinner-and-theatre companion. But her first client has quite the wrong idea. To avoid further scandal, Georgie's shipped home to Castle Rannoch, where her summer plans include honoring a promise to Her Majesty to keep Castle Rannoch's divorcée houseguest from seducing the Prince of Wales. She's also been coerced into helping Scotland Yard with a top-secret mission - namely keeping an eye on the shooting party at Balmoral and preventing someone from shooting the Prince. And Georgie must manage all this without strangling her odious sister-in-law Fig or spineless brother Binky.

I'm still loving this series. They're such fun and cute cozy mysteries. Bowen has done a wonderful job of growing the characters through each book and building on the relationships. Of course, I wish the relationship between Georgie and Darcy would move just wee bit faster  :)  Kellgren also does an excellent job on the narration.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry
Year: 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages:  392

Goodreads Description: 
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

I knew I was in trouble with this book when I picked it up to read for just a few minutes before going to bed and I had to force myself to put it down at 1:00 a.m. on a work night. I thought it all the next day and then stayed up way too late on a second night reading it before finally finishing it on the last night. I just couldn't get the story and the characters out of my head. I had to know Echo's story and what had happened to her. I had to know the truth behind Noah. Were they going to work out? Both characters were so flawed but so honest and real. I couldn't help rooting for them. The back and forth on the POVs wasn't as seamless and perfect as it is in Legend but it was pretty darn good. The one thing that bothered me was Noah's use of the endearment "baby" for Echo. The word just didn't seem to fit him and felt a little out of place in his vocabulary but other than that I don't have any complaints about the book. It's a great romance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Midnight City: The Conquered Earth, Book 1

Author:  J. Barton Mitchell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Pages: 384 pages
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Description:
In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything...
Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet’s youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira’s growing attraction to each other.

What Did I Think?

I've been reading this book on my lunch break at work for the past week. Every day, I'd sit down and start reading and it seemed like I barely read any of the book at all when my lunch time was over and I had to go back to work. (Insert pouty frown here). So I told myself I was absolutely going to finish this book this weekend because there was no way I was going to suffer through another work week without knowing what happened.

This is a different dystopian novel because our world doesn't just come to an end because of something that destroys our modern society. ALIENS ATTACK!  In my head, every time the alien armies would appear, I saw those little mechanical creatures in that episode of Jonny Quest. You know, these guys:

But I don't think they actually looked like that. But that's what I saw in my head. The beauty of imagination.

It was a well paced book with a lot of things happening and a good bit of mystery. Answes were doled out slowly. It was like we'd get just enough to keep us satisfied and hanging on. But then, something would happen and I'd get a ton more questions going in my head. Just what is going on with Zoey? What is Holt running from? 

I liked Holt and Mira and their attraction to each other. Mitchell let their attraction to each other grow and simmer before they admitted to their feelings. They are smart and witty characters. I laughed at how they both took great pleasure in tricking each other. It brought lightness into what could have been a dark book. Both characters stand on their own as characters and either one of them could have been the center of the book without the other and together they make a good team. Mitchell managed to switch seamlessly between the different POVs and not get confusing. And my favorite character was Max the dog.

Mitchell also threw some foreshadowing in at the end that really has me guessing as to what's going to happen in future books. All in all Midnight City is an unique dystopian novel in a flooded market. It doesn't have that magic that a book like The Hunger Games has but it is definitely worth reading.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Grave on the Right

Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson, Book 1
Year: 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Narrator: Lorelei King

Goodreads Description:
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

I was really worried when I decided to download these books. First off, I love the Stephanie Plum books and this series is directly compared with the Plum books everywhere I look. On top of that, they're narrated by Lorelei King (the same lady who narrates the Stephanie Plum books). Recently, I'd had issues with listening to the latest Eragon book because Gerard Doyle narrates both them and the Septimus Heap books and I couldn't get the Septimus Heap books out of my head when I was listening to the last book. So, this audiobook had a lot of strikes against it before I even started. But I shouldn't have worried. Lorelei King is an amazing narrator and she amazing here. Yes, I did hear some of the same voices from the Stephanie Plum books but it wasn't distracting and not once did I find myself getting the series mixed. So kudos to King and if you're considering listening to a book narrated by her - have no fear. She's amazing.

Now onto First Grave on the Right. I loved it. It was fun, light-hearted, sexy and fast-paced. The dialogue is witty and sarcastic and Charley is a wonderful main character. It's so much fun listening to her dealing with the ghosts that pop in and out of her daily life. There's so much potential with Garret and Reyes as main characters. Yes, the story was a bit cliched at times but when I was laughing out loud at the book, I can handle the cliches.  Hmmm, should I listen to the second book in this series or the next Night Huntress book first? Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein
Year: 2012
Publisher: Hyperion New York
Pages: 332

Goodreads Synopsis:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.

Every once in a while a book comes along that just flat out tells a beautiful, moving and mesmerizing story. That's what this was. I laughed and I cried and I cried while laughing. I felt Queenie's pain and fear as a POW. I felt both women's frustration in trying to survive in the male dominated war effort. It was so refreshing to read a book where there wasn't a romance involved. Instead it was just a great story about the friendship of two girls and their story. 

"It's a bit like being in love, finding your best friend."

The above is one of my favorite quotes from the book. I understand this line so much. Finding your best friend that's also a "bosom buddy" or "soul mate" is like falling in love. 

Wein does a magnificent job writing her characters. And it's not just the Maddie and Queenie that moved me and that I loved. I was intrigued by her German captors, their friends and the other prisoners. The people were flaws, but at the same time loving, and very, very human. She showed how people got caught up in a war and ended up on sides that some didn't really believe in. Wein had a way of telling a story but then at the end, I saw where I had  missed a number of clues all the way around as to things that were happening behind the scenes or from other points of views or right in front of me and I didn't see it. The story was a weaving of an intricate spider web. 

I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

At Grave's End

Author:  Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress, Book 3
Year:  2010
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Narrator:  Tavia Gilbert

Audible Synopsis:
Some things just won’t stay buried… at grave’s end.
It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield’s life. With her undead lover, Bones, at her side, she’s successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat’s worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover’s finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.
As if that wasn’t enough, a woman from Bones’ past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat’s about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she’s learned as a special agent won’t help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.

These books just keep getting better. I am loving Cat and Bones. There was one particular morning when I was listening to this book on my way to work and I started bawling and cried the remaining 30 minute drive to work.  By the time I got to the office, my eyes were red and my makeup was gone. But isn't it a sign of a good book when it moves you to tears? I think I've mentioned before that I love everything about Tavia Gilbert's narration except for her voice for Bones. It's a little too feminine for me but after three books it's kind of grown on me. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fringe: Beyond the Fringe

Authors:  Joshua Jackson, Jhonen Vasquez, et al
Artists: Jorge Jimenez, Becky Cloonan, et al
Publisher:  DC Comics
Year: 2012
Pages: 144

Goodreads Synopsis:
Collecting the entire original, digital-first series never before in print! A tale from Fringe star Joshua Jackson explores key events between seasons 3 and 4, Jhonen Vasquez and Becky Cloonan tell the story of Nina Sharp’s robotic arm, and five more tales from beyond the Fringe!

So there's not much description there, is there? And, really, there's not a common theme that runs through these collected comics. But, they are lots of fun. The story written by Joshua Jackson connects season 3 and 4 of the TV show and is very interesting. I could tell that Jackson loves the show and the mysteries surrounding it. It had that Fringe-ness to it that I love about the show. Most of the other stories are "what if" scenarios where we see a world where Walter's a rock star, Walter outlives the rest of the world, Astrid is a kick-butt spy, the team is a group of art thieves ala Oceans 11. But my favorite what if story in the group has Peter as a playboy crime fight like Batman. It's great! I found these comics to be a fun addition to the Fringe television show.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Masque of the Red Death

Author: Bethany Griffin
Series: Masque of the Red Death, Book 1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Year: 2012
Pages:  319

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club--in the depths of her own despair--Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for--no matter what it costs her.

Around page 50, I was talking to my sister about this book and telling her that this book better pick up soon or I might quit on it. (There's just way too many books in my stack for my to waste my time on a book I'm not enjoying). A little bit later, I was on page 103 and I knew I was going to be up until I finished the book. Somewhere in between, the action and story had caught up and got to going good and I was loving it. The mystery is so convoluted in this book. What is the plague? How did it come to be? Who can be trusted? Who can't be trusted? (And the answer to that question will surprise you). When I finished Masque of the Red Death, I was ready to start the next book. So I say give this book a try and STICK IT OUT! I know it starts off slow but it definitely picks up and is not the same old story that's being told over and over. It's new and refreshing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

One Foot in the Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series:  Night Huntress, Book 2
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Goodreads Synopsis:
You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide…
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.
Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head – wanted: dead or half-alive – means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever … and Bones won’t let her get away again. Original.

So this book was way better than the first. I'm addicted to this series and can't wait to keep going. I loved some of the turns the series took with this installment and there was definitely some stuff there that I wasn't expecting. These books are making for wonderful entertaining on my daily commute. Again, my main complaint is with the voice the narrator uses for Bones. Isn't just not masculine enough. But I do recommend these books for anyone that likes some urban romance. Just beware there are very long and detailed sex scenes in the books.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spell Bound

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall, Book 3
Year: 2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages:  327

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

My Thoughts:

The synopsis describes this series as "impossible to put down" and I'd have to agree with that. I read each of the three books in one sitting a piece. They're just fun, humorous and exciting. The wit and sarcasm was laugh out loud funny at times. I can tell that Rachel Hawkins is probably a bit of a geek just from some of the jokes. Also, I loved both Archer and Cal. They were both great guys and impossible to choose between. Luckily, though, the author doesn't  make the romance the center of the story. Instead the story focuses on defeating the evil that has come to Hex Hall and the love interests take a back page to the greater purpose. If you like fun, magical books, I suggest giving the Hex Hall series a read. Just make sure it's a night you can afford to stay up late.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Elephant to Hollywood

Author:  Michael Caine
Year:  2010
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Narrator:  Michael Caine

Audible Description:
Charming, engaging, and surprisingly forthright, Michael Caine gives us his insider's view of Hollywood and the story of his brilliant second act.
When he was in his late 50s, Michael Caine believed his glamorous, rags-to-riches Hollywood career had come to an end. The scripts being sent his way were worse and worse. When one script really disappointed, he called the producer to complain about the part. The producer said, "No, no, we don't want you for the lover, we want you for the father."
Salvation came in the unlikely form of his old friend Jack Nicholson, who convinced him to give acting one more shot. What followed was not only an incredible personal transformation but also one of the most radical comebacks in film history. Learning to accept his new role both on camera and in his own life, Caine went on to win his second Oscar, be knighted by the queen, and deliver some of his best performances to date.
Now he shares the spectacular story of his life, from his humble upbringing in London's poverty-stricken Elephant and Castle, his military service, touching marriage and family life, and lively adventures with friends, to legendary meetings with fellow stars, forays as a restaurateur, and hilarious off-screen encounters from his glittering five-decade career. Caine brings his gift for storytelling and his insider's view to a tale that is funny, warm, and deeply honest.

My Thoughts:

So, I really stepped out of my usual reading with this audiobook but I heard an interview with Michael Caine talking about this memoir and he's just such a joy to listen to that I thought I'd give it a shot. It was definitely worth the credit. Caine is such an engaging person. He doesn't get mean or ugly with any person and I'm sure with as long as he's been in Hollywood, he could tell some stories that would  make people look bad. He's a class act and exactly how I imagine a real knight would be in his elder years. On top of that, Caine does a wonderful job narrating the story. It's like you're sitting in his living room, drinking tea and eating scones and he's telling  you stories. I loved it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Carnival of Souls

Author: Melissa Marr
Series:  Carnival of Souls, Book 1
Year: 2012
Publisher: Harper Audio
Narrator:  James Marsters

Audible Description:

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures - if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
All Mallory knows of The City is that her father - and every other witch there - fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and Graveminder, comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny. 

My Thoughts:

I am totally surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I didn't finish Marr's Wicked Lovely series just because they couldn't hold my attention. I didn't feel they were original and that they were pretty boring. I stuck with them as long as I did because the covers were amazing. So, I was a bit leery about picking up Carnival of Souls. But, it was narrated by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and I had some Audible credits so I decided to give it a try. Am I glad I did!

This is a dark novel with risky topics. It's a cruel and violent world that Marr has thrown some wonderful main characters in the middle of. Mallory's totally clueless about her heritage but everyone around her knows the truth. I spent the whole audiobook yelling at my ipod - - just tell her already. Then there's Aya. I can't figure out what her agenda is but I know she's got one. She's deceptive and cunning and I can't help but cheer for her. Kaleb lives a horrible life yet he can't help dreaming of a better life. 

Let's not forget James Marsters' narrating. He's amazing! I think he greatly carried the book and make it much more likable than it would have been if I was reading a physical book. I'm actually pretty sure that there were a couple of spots where I might have decided I couldn't handle this and just put the book down. But Marsters is such an excellent narrator that I was entranced and kept listening. I am going to listen to each and every book narrated by this guy. 

This book ends on a horrible cliffhanger so I suggest waiting until next year to read it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Author: Laurie Viera Rigler
Series: Jane Austen Addict, Book 2
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Year:  2009
Narrator: Kate Reading

Audible Description:

Laurie Viera Rigler's nationally best-selling debut novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, took 21st-century free spirit Courtney Stone into the social confines of Jane Austen's era. Now, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict tells the parallel story of Jane Mansfield, a gentleman's daughter from Regency England who inexplicably awakens in Courtney's overly wired and morally confused modern L.A. life.
For Jane, the modern world is not wholly disagreeable. She relishes the privacy, independence, even the power to earn her own money. But how is she to fathom her employer's incomprehensible dictates about "syncing a BlackBerry"? How can she navigate a world in which flirting and kissing and even the sexual act itself raise no matrimonial expectations?
Even more bewildering is the friend named Wes, who is as attractive and confusing to Jane as the man who broke her heart back home. It's enough to make her wonder if she would be better off in her own time, where at least the rules are clear---that is, if returning is even an option. 

My Thoughts:

This is a fun, light-hearted listen - - especially if you're a Jane Austen fan. Rigler writes time travel stories where the time travel isn't the main plot point in the book. Instead it's a device for getting two women to the men they'll fall in love with. This book was especially fun watching a girl from Austen's time deal with our modern day conveniences.

These aren't spectacular books. They're just fun, clean listens. Reading is a great narrator. If you're an Austen fan, you'll enjoy these books.