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That's What I'm Talking About

I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent. 


Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.


A+  Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A    Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A-   Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+  Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B    Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B-   Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+  Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C    Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C-   Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D    Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E    Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish


updated July 9, 2015

Currently reading

Dragon Teeth
Michael Crichton
Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files, Book 15
James Marsters, Jim Butcher
Bitter Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 14
Audible Studios, Jennifer Estep, Lauren Fortgang
Progress: 27 %

Quickie Review: Enemies with Benefits by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers

Enemies With Benefits: a prologue - Annika Martin, Joanna Chambers

CIA operative Will is set to kill his enemy, Polzin. It's a personal kill since Polzin is responsible the deaths of so many of Will's brothers-in-arms. Kit has been deep undercover for two years, forced to protect Polzin as his bodyguard. Kit must keep the dirty Russian alive until he completes his own, secret objective. Now the pair face off in a deadly match that neither can walk away from.


Wow! What an exciting start to the new Enemies with Benefits series by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers! While short in length, the story is packed with dangerous action and extremely sexy times. Both Will and Kit are utterly fascinated with and inexplicably captivated by the other, all the while understanding how dangerous their liaisons truly are. I love the grit of their passion; the unquestioning desire to take and be taken. Will and Kit's story is far from over... there is no HEA or HFN, there is only a beginning and the promise of something much, much more.


I am hooked on Will and Kit after this quick novella. It's dark and rough around the edges, and I can't wait to dive into their first full-length title.


My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot

Quickie #Audiobook Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

The Dispatcher - John Scalzi, Zachary Quinto

I picked up The Dispatcher as a freebie from Audible after a reading a favorable review. I found myself in between books recently, so I popped in my earbuds and gave it a go. What an excellent surprise!


Mr. Scalzi weaves a gripping whodunit set in a world where murder is nearly impossible. In fact, only one out of one thousand murder victims actually dies; the other 999 end up naked and alive back in their own homes. This gave rise to the Dispatchers, those hired to humanly kill people who are about to die from accidents and natural causes, so that they can avoid death.


The story focuses on locating a missing Dispatcher as a fellow Dispatcher and police detective as they unravel a series of clues. The pace of the tale is quick and the impact is fierce. But it's the dialogue surrounding the moral and religious impacts of the Dispatcher profession that makes the title really stand out. Throw in a few good twists and you've got a real winner.


Narration by Zachary Quinto is wonderful. Although his voice is highly recognizable, I found myself never once thinking of his famous characters from TV and movies. His even temperament and soothing tones drew me into the story. He reaches a wide range of female and male voices, each well suited to the character.

Regardless if The Dispatcher is still a freebie, I highly recommend picking it up and given it a listen.


Story: A
Narration: A

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep

Snared (Elemental Assassin) - Jennifer Estep

With clues left by her late mentor, Fletcher, Gin and Silvio have started identifying the members of the devious Circle. They discover the “easiest” mark is Damian Rivera, a trust fund prince with a huge drinking problem, and Gin starts surveillance on the man, looking for any clues as to the identity of the mysterious head of the Circle. Meanwhile, Gin’s friend Jade comes to her asking for help locating her missing sister. As Gin digs deeper into both situations, she uncovers a serial killer is loose in Ashland.


Once again, Ms. Estep had me glued to my Kindle as I took a ride with my favorite assassin. The Elemental Assassin books are always full of high-octane action, and Snared is no exception with its race against time - serial killer plot. While parts were fairly predictable, I found the energy surrounding Gin and her situation strong, and it pulled me in right from the start. I enjoyed learning more about the Circle and Gin’s own past.


With that said, there are a few things that bugged me this time, more than usual. I genuinely enjoyed Snared, so I don’t want you to think otherwise as I list these issues, but I feel like it needs to be said. These are character flaws and/or plot devices that have started becoming repetitious, making the books predicable. 


First: Gin is an extremely intelligent woman; one of the smartest heroines out there. She also relies heavily on her gut instincts. So when she “hears” something or feels an ominous presence and then just walks away, saying it’s nothing… it frustrates me. We ALL know it is something, so why doesn’t Gin go with her gut instincts?! And she always seems to have facial recognition amnesia. That whole "something is off but I can't figure out what" thing happens too often.


Second: The dreams. I know the dreams are Gin’s “thing,” guiding her as if Fletcher was still around. But at this point, I find them disappointing. Too often, after recalling nothing about a significant memory from her youth, things that Gin *should* have remembered or never forgotten, she suddenly remembers something HUGE from her childhood that is just too coincidental in solving her current case. It’s just frustrating to see it over and over again, uncovering these secrets that Gin didn’t know she knew all along. 


Even with my frustrations over repetitious behaviors that seem to dumb down Gin and the issues with her memory recall, Snared still entangled me. I liked that I figured out the plot right from the get go, yet Ms. Estep made me second guess my hypothesis over and over as the clues surfaced. I loved watching Gin figure out who the bad guy is and how she brings them down. Snared had many layers, and Gin uncovered a few secrets that brought her a little closer to discovering how to end the mysterious leader of the Circle.


My Rating:  B, Liked It

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Razr by Larissa Ione

Razr: A Demonica Underworld Novella - Larissa Ione

Razr is a battle angel who hasn’t quite fallen, yet is banished from Heaven because of a costly mistake made by his team a century ago. He and his teammates lost three of Heaven’s most valuable weapons, the Gems of Enoch, and got their human custodians killed. Now he serves Azagoth (the Grim Reaper) and must be brutally punished until he can right the wrongs of his past.


Jedda is a world-renowned gem expert who is really a gem elf who can sense minerals’ energy, enabling her to locate precious jewels. Unknown to her clients, and any outside the elven realm, she needs this energy to live, doing what she must to survive. However, when she is forced by a Fallen to locate the Gems of Enoch, she realizes she may be in over her head.


Razr is the fourth Demonica novella that focuses on the beings who live in and rule over the Underworld. While the first two novellas had close ties to the overall Demonica storylines, the more recent titles are very much independent, with Razr opening up and expanding the universe’s mythology to include elves and their realms. This new world gives the series the potential to start entirely new story arcs, leaving Demonica entirely.


Razr and Jedda seem to be made for one another as the story progresses and we learn the nature of both the gem elf and the Gems of Enoch. Their sexual chemistry is off the charts right from the start, and their predestined feel allows the characters to reach “I love you” in only a few short days. I like that both are pretty open and honest, risking themselves for the other. And while the outcome is somewhat predictable, I still enjoyed how the author makes everything work by the end.


Razr is another fun story in the Demonica series. However, I’m finding that the novellas lack the depth and complexity of the full-length stories. While the novellas are entertaining and I enjoy them, I miss the series novels. The quick to I love you and crazy escapades in such a short timeframe are getting a bit repetitive and over the top for my continued consumption, and I really hope Ms. Ione opts to bring readers a full-length story soon. 


My Rating: B/B-

Review copy provided by Inkslinger blog tour

Quickie #Audiobook Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

One Fell Sweep: Innkeeper Chronicles, Book 3 - Nancy Yost Literary Agency, Ilona Andrews, Renée Raudman

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews,
Narrated by Renee Raudman
(Innkeeper Chronicles #3)
Speed: 1.25x


My "re-read" of One Fell Sweep in audiobook format was perfection and served to further endear this amazing series to me. Both intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying, the world of Dina Demille and the Innkeepers is wholly unique and fascinating.


Ms. Raudman brings to life the essence of each character, giving each his or her own unique and identifiable voice. She captures emotion: excitement, pain, sorrow, desire, madness, in each scene. I love her narrative voice for Dina, mixing her patience with a slight hint of southern charm. The team of Renee Raudman and Ilona Andrews is an auto buy for me.


For a more detailed review of the story, please read my original review of the Kindle book: http://twimom227.booklikes.com/post/1506070/review-one-fell-sweep-by-ilona-andrews 


My Rating: A
Narration: A+


#Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Into the Fire: A Night Prince Novel - Jeaniene Frost, Tavia Gilbert

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any of the titles in the Night Huntress Universe, and when I found out that Ms. Frost was wrapping up the Night Prince series with Into the Fire, I was quick to pick up a review copy. I honestly couldn’t recall what had happened to Vlad and Lelia until I started the book, and the narrator quickly filled me in. 


The story opens about four months after the conclusion of the prior book. Leila and Vlad’s step-son nemesis, Mircea, are still magically linked so that harm and damage done to one is repeated on the other. Mircea is able contact Leila psychically, yet Leila cannot use her abilities to find Mircea. In the process of taunting Lelia, Mircea is kidnapped, and the abductees threaten to kill him (which would in turn kill Leila) if Vlad doesn’t do as they require. This ramps up the efforts to break the magic link between Leila and Mircea, leading Vlad and Leila to Ian for assistance. 


While I started having issues with this series in the previous book, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would be annoyed by the two main characters. Leila is amazingly whiny. And her “dreaded inner voice” is annoying. Her life is hard, she whines, she cries, she accepts it, she rationalizes it, then we move on to the next issue. And Vlad is too far gone - too dark - to be an enjoyable romantic lead/hero. He is made of ice and vengeance, and while he cares for some individuals, he’d willingly kill those he cares about if it means keeping Leila alive. It’s taken to an extreme this time around. And the lies, which are rationalized, just make it so frustrating and annoying. It’s basically the same issues over and over again, and I had a very difficult time enjoying the book. Honestly, if Into the Fire wasn’t the last book in the series, I would have DNF’d in and moved on. 


With that said, the last third of the book was much better than the front parts. Once the action started and the plot moved forward, it was exciting. I liked watching the group work as a team to bring down the bad guys. Ian was also a bright spot in the book - and what happened to him set up the possible next title in the Night Huntress Universe. I may listen to Ian’s book because I like his character. And if his mate is who I think, it should be a formidable match.


I have to say that Tavia Gilbert does an excellent job with Leila. She nails every whiny issue, breathless desire and so on… it’s just too bad that the character annoyed me so much. But I was able to separate out the performance as being perfect for the character. The other voices are consistent, although her Gretchen voice is annoying - but again, fitting of the character. Ms. Gilbert’s consistency and ability to capture the characters’ personality traits and emotions are why I rate her performance well, even though the material was irritating.


While I didn’t really enjoy Into the Fire all that much, ramping up the listening speed from 1.25x to 2x at the midpoint just so I could finish the book (I did slow it back down to 1.5x in the last 25% or so when the action picked up), I am glad I witnessed the wrap-up of Vlad and Leila’s story. (Although I wonder if it is truly the end as there are some unresolved issues remaining at the conclusion of the book.) Honestly, I think Vlad and Leila’s story would have been more enjoyable if it hadn’t gone on for four titles, but they aren’t my characters nor my creation. Overall, I enjoy the Night Huntress Universe, and I hope the Ms. Frost sticks to standalone romance titles for some of the remaining, unattached characters.


My Rating: C-  

Narration: B 


Review copy provided by HarperAudio


Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian

The Enforcer (Redtails Hockey Book 3) - Stephanie Julian

Jess Gardiner has hockey in her blood. With the best scout in the NHL for a father, Jess learned the game inside and out at a young age. The problem is, women aren’t scouts in the NHL. So she works as the promotion manager for the Redtails, honestly loving her job, and feeds her scouting side by making recommendations to the coach on the side.


Will is a veteran player without much time left playing the sport he loves. However, after a recommendation to give him a look, the Redtails pick him up to be a leader for its young team. And from the moment he meets the intriguing Jess, he’s hoping he’ll stay with the Redtails for a while.


The Enforcer is a quick, enjoyable story with equal parts romance and hockey. Hockey isn’t just a setting for the book, but rather the story is infused with the ins and outs of the sport. It’s clear that Ms. Julian understands and loves hockey as much as her heroine, Jess.


Right from the start, Jess and Will experience a strong pull and mutual attraction, accompanied by the sudden realization that something has been missing in their lives. However, Jess was burned by immature hockey players in the past, and she’s worried about the impacts to her credibility on the job if she dates someone on the team. Yet, she cannot deny herself the joy of being around Will. Similarly, Will recognizes he’s getting older and doesn’t want to play games when meets a woman he really likes. Yet, he is respectful of her concerns and willing just to be friends because he enjoys her company - totally swoon-worthy. Their romance is quick, sexy, and sweet, and I really enjoyed their story.


My biggest issue with The Enforcer is the number of apparent continuity errors within the storyline. I can adjust to one or maybe two issues, but I found a handful of situations that seemed in clear conflict with something stated later in the story. For example, in a scene early in the book, Will discusses an upcoming game with teammate Justin and how a player named Mason will cause Will problems. Mason plays for Syracuse. Yet later in the text, we find out that the Redtails are playing Milwaukee. While not important to the overall story, continuity issues like this drive me nuts, and I am compelled to go back and check. Additionally, there was a mention of Will having an ex-fiancee and it was never brought up again… when an apparent bombshell like an ex is brought up in thought, I want follow up. Why is she an ex? What are the details? I would have been able to overlook one or two of these conflicts, but I spent too much time checking and rechecking facts, causing a disruption in my reading flow.


In the end, I found The Enforcer to be an entertaining story. The book is short, but the story flows well, with the exception of the issues I mentioned above. The romance is quick, but the author makes it believable and real. The fact that both Will and Jess are in a place in their lives to start this relationship, coupled with their openness and honesty, allows for the fast-paced romance.


My Rating:  B, Liked It

Originally posted at That's What I"m Talking About

Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

All You Need - Lorelei James

Annika Lund has an Ice Queen reputation because she works hard for her family's company, always doing what is best for the family, even if her personal life takes a back seat. But until she started spending time with Axl, she hadn't been with a man who was worth the distraction. Now she's found a guy who matches her word for word and makes her toes curl in the process. If only she could share it with others. 


Axl Hammerquist is much more than the handsome, rough, playboy hockey player he portrays, but why let anyone see the real man when they don't expect anything more from him? However, when his agent insists on a public image makeover, it is his attraction to and respect for Annika that gets him to change his mind. So when his agent decides it's time to publicly end Axl's PR relationship with Annika, he realizes he's in way more than he ever planned. 


All You Need is a wonderful, feel-good romance that hits all the right notes for me. Axl and Annika are equals from the start, and while there is some minor jockeying for position, their relationship isn't a power play struggle for dominance. I admire that both have serious careers and neither has to compromise his/her work ethic or ambitions, rather, both support the other along the journey. 


But their story is far from all work and no play! The couple starts off on the wrong foot, as Axl drives to challenge Annika's PR abilities, causing trouble just to see how she'll react. He recognizes her intellect and admires her strength, and he has fun creating situations for her just so he can watch her work. Their silly name calling and hockey puns give rise to entertaining conversations. Equally enjoyable is their mutual attraction which creates wonderful sexual tension. 


While there are several things that worked for me in the title, it's the fact that once Annika and Axl became a couple, they stayed a couple, that made their story shine. Although these two alphas butted heads at the start, they were upfront not only about their issues with the other, but their mutual attraction as well. Yes, they did try to fight the sex appeal, creating wonderful sexual tension and moments of witty banter, but they both recognized right away that they weren't going to be able to keep this PR relationship strictly platonic. Both characters are honest and upfront about their mixed emotions, and both are such genuinely good people beneath the surface that they work well together. And due to the circumstances that drove them together, they become an "us versus them" team, sticking together despite or rather because of what others say to them. The more time the pair spent together, the closer they grew. 


By no means is their journey a smooth road to happily ever after. They come across road blocks and difficulties, issues that in other titles have caused breakups and mayhem. But it's how the couple handles the bumps that makes their story so amazing. Rather than allowing external factors best them, they were patient, communicated openly, and worked through the problems. 


All You Need is a wonderful romance about two equals who go from coconspirators to friends to lovers. I admire that both Axl and Annika possess honorable fortitude and genuine hearts, sharing of themselves with one another. Their journey is an enjoyable ride, and I look forward to discovering what is next for the Lund Family.


My Rating:  A, Loved It

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by publisher

#Audiobook Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Etched in Bone: A Novel of the Others - -Penguin Audio-, Anne Bishop, Alexandra Harris

Etched in Bone is the fifth and final book in the utterly amazing, wholly original The Others series by Anne Bishop. The story picks up just after the conclusion of powerful events of the previous book, and is the culmination of everything learned since Meg arrived in the Lakeside Courtyard way back in the first book. 


Etched in Bone deals with the limited transportation and food shortages created when the Elders culled many humans and took back human-controlled towns. The new living situation brings out a different kind of human "predator,” and the Elders must determine how much human they want to keep in the world. Having two Elders observe the Lakeside Courtyard places Simon in a precarious situation; he must allow a dangerous human (Officer Montgomery’s shady brother, Jimmy) to stay in near the Courtyard so the Elders can figure out what makes him a bad type of human (and therefore they will be able to destroy those humans that are a threat). Simon, along with the other Terra Indigine and some of the more astute humans like Burke and Monty, recognize that the fate of all humankind depends on what happens in Lakeside. This sets up a number of situations that endanger the lives and wellbeing of many of the Lakeside Courtyard residents, weaving a sense of urgency around the moments of everyday living.


Like all the previous books in the series, readers (listeners) are privy to an unpleasant series of events that unfold over the course of Etched in Bone and witness how the Terra Indigine react. Although is it evident where the story is headed, it's still gripping. This time around, I liked how well the Others and humans worked together, but I also like that the Lakeside residents are now able to recognize a human predator. The introduction of Monty’s mother, Twyla, adds a missing human/pack grandmother component. She is able to understand the ways of the the Others and put her own way of handling a situation into their framework. Her presence is calming, knowing that she is able to handle the craziness with a firm but caring hand.


Additionally, Etched in Bone progresses the unique relationship between Simon and Meg. By now, it is evident to all, expect Simon and Meg, that the pair are in love. Because love between a human and Other hasn’t existed before, and due to Meg’s abusive history, the couple’s dilemmas are different than expected. I absolutely love that Simon gets advice on how to navigate his relationship with Meg through "kissy books!” 


After messing with the speed over the course of the series, the narration works best for me at 1.25x speed, and I will freely admit that I am now a huge fan of Ms. Harris’s performance in the series. I've grown to love every voice Ms. Harris performs, each as familiar as the characters themselves. The narrator continues to keep the joy and nativity of Meg, and the gruff predator of Simon. She nails the creep factor of mooch Jimmy, the whine of Jimmy's wife, and the confidence of Burke and Kowalski. 


Etched in Bone is another wonderful story in The Others series. The characters have grown so much, and I adore all the Courtyard residents. I've come to think of them as friends and have such an interest in seeing them succeed. I loved just listening to the day-to-day details and life of the Lakeside Courtyard, along with the new experiences for Meg, the Others, the Elders, and everyone in the mixed community. The author ended the series with many (if not all) of the outstanding details wrapped up, yet not completely finalized. After finishing Etched in Bone, I am hopeful for the future of the people/creatures of this interesting world (and really want more!).


My Rating: A- 

Narration: A-


Series: A-


Review copy provided by Penguin Random House Audio


Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington

If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles) - Anna Harrington

Miranda grew up with the Carlisle siblings, living with her aunt and uncle as tenants on the Carlisle family land. Always closest with middle brother Robert, Miranda wants him to see her as more than the girl next door. However, in her efforts to woo Robert, she mistakenly tries to seduce the Duke of Trent, eldest brother Sebastian. 


Weight of family obligation and dukedom on his shoulders, Sebastian longs for the carefree life he once lived. But duty comes first, which includes courting and marrying a daughter of a Peer and producing a suitable heir for Trent. Spending the season in London to find the proper duchess, it is Miranda who opens his eyes to joy again, seeing life through her unfettered eyes.


I absolutely adored If the Duke Demands! Sebastian and Miranda are two halves of whole. The conflict of love versus duty plays out perfectly as Sebastian attempts to live up to his father’s legacy. The guilt over missing his father’s death because of his dalliances haunts Sebastian daily and controls his every action. It takes the exuberance and love of a strong woman to help him find the man who died with his father two years ago.


The book grabbed my attention right from the start with its mistaken identity twist, followed by the pact that Sebastian and Miranda create. Not only does this ensure that they will spend alone time together as they plot, the secretive nature of their agreement lends itself to create a strong bond between the pair. This allows them the freedom to open up to one another, sharing things they never would have otherwise. Additionally, it gives Miranda the freedom to be herself and challenge Sebastian’s ambitions and goals. I love that they banter like a couple of equal standing.


As the pair becomes comfortable around one another, their mutual interest deepens and grows. My heart raced as I also became caught up in their passion. Their inappropriate conversation in public at the opera, the stolen kisses… the author does an amazing job building sexual tension and desire, and I found myself completely head-over-heels for this couple. Yet, Sebastian’s misguided intentions and guilt prevent him from completely giving himself to Miranda, even as she risks her heart, surrendering fully. 


If the Duke Demands is an absolute delight. Ms. Harrington puts forth solid, strong characters who worked their way into my heart. The story is incredibly entertaining, with the perfect amount of tension, desire, and emotion. As Sebastian works through his guilt and recognizes his true feelings, I found myself equally affected. The author balances humor and deeply emotional scenes making me both laugh and cry. I cannot wait to see what is in store for the remaining Carlisle brothers.


My Rating:  A, Loved It

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by NetGalley

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian

Midnight Unbound - Lara Adrian

A loaner and one of Dragos’s Hunters, Scythe doesn’t belong among humans or his own kind. Yet when his brother, Trygg, requests his help, Scythe agrees to protect Chiara Genova and her young son. 


Chiara’s life has been filled with danger ever since marrying her now deceased mate. When a crazed Breed breaks into her home and threatens to force her blood bond, the Order realize there is more going on than appears and send in the one male they trust to protect her.


The story of Chiara and Scythe actually begins in the previous novella, Midnight Untamed, when the pair meet and sparks are evident. Midnight Unbound completes their story as the pair is once again tossed together in a deadly situation. This time around, the pair are forced to spend days together, alone, and after a week, they can no longer deny their burning attraction and physical needs.


Midnight Unbound is an entertaining, straight-forward paranormal romance. Predictable maybe, but enjoyable certainly. He saw her and longed for her. She saw him and wanted him. He's tender and caring under his tough exterior. She isn't the fragile flower she appears to be. After being cooped up together for a week trying to fight their attraction, bam... sexual explosion and uncovering of feelings. Sharing of pasts. Working together for a future.  Midnight Unbound can be read as a standalone, although the general Breed background mythology may make it more enjoyable. I liked the straight forwardness of the tale and enjoyed the tie into the previous novella.


My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot

#Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Hunted - Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

After completely enjoying the previous title, Trapped, I couldn’t wait to get into Hunted; however I was a bit apprehensive over what would happen to my favorite trio of characters as life seemed to be going “too good” for them. Of course, life didn’t stay safe, and the opening of Hunted was rather surprising as the Morgain helps fight off the Roman-Greco goddesses of the hunt to save Atticus. She confides in Atticus some rather telling information that made me relook at her character. Now Artemis and Diana are hunting Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon across Europe to seek retribution for perceived losses, and all of Europe has been struck with Pandemonium, preventing their escape to Tír na nÓg. 


I love that Hunted is a blend of pure adventure as well as a mystery to be solved. Someone/s is out to end Atticus and has recruited a number of players in the effort. Not only are the Olympic pantheons after him, but there are vampires, dark elves, and gods tracking his every move. Oh, and Loki is on the loose, again. Finding out that Jupiter, Zeus, and Odin are following along and watching the chase for entertainment is the perfect nod to the classic tales. The battles are epic and even a bit frightening. Meanwhile, Atticus believes a powerful fae is orchestrating the efforts against him, and his weariness and fear had me on the edge of my proverbial seat. With so much going on, I thought I’d be lost, but rather, I was completely engaged as I followed along the frantic chases. 


The book also treats us to chapters from Granuaile’s POV. While the first time it occurred it almost felt out of place, later I realized it was setting me up for the events to come. I enjoyed seeing life through her younger and unfettered eyes. Although, being Atticus’s apprentice and now companion has forced Granuaile to quickly mature and deal with the ugly. Granuaile’s perspective and powers, along with her powerful feelings, adds so much to the series and each story. She balances Atticus perfectly, and I simply love how much Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon have become a genuine team.


The narration of the story is simply amazing. Mr. Daniels continues to provide constantly strong performances, with every character having a unique and fitting presence. He finds a way to add strong emotion into the story when warranted, and he often gets a chuckle or two out of Atticus when dealing with his best bud, Oberon. Additionally, this time around he narrates whole chapters from Granuaile’s POV, distinguishing these chapters from Atticus’s with his softer, feminine voice exclusively used for Granuaile. But best of all is Oberon, who’s voice is so fitting and genuine that I now assume all dogs speak this way.


In the end, I absolutely enjoyed Hunted. The only reason I gave it an A- instead of A is that I felt the story just stopped with too much left unfinished… like it was a pause in the story, rather than the finish of it. Yes, Atticus and Granuaile are safe, and the Olympians settled, but so much is still out there. I didn’t expect the story to end like it did. But WOW — I am hooked! 


My Rating:  A-

Narration: A+

#Audiobook Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Trapped: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 5 - Hachette Audio UK, Kevin Hearne, Christopher Ragland

Twelve years have past since the last book, and Granuaile has finished her Druidic apprenticeship. Looking for a safe place to bind her to Gaia, the earth, Atticus discovers that Loki is free and the Olympus pantheons are plotting against Atticus. Now the pair, along with best hound friend, Oberon, are trapped between a rock and a hard place unsure who to trust, as they try to find a safe place to tie Granuaile to the earth.


Oh I really, really enjoyed Trapped. I love the deepening connections Atticus and Granuaile. The book isn’t about romance, but their love is true and a perfect addition to the overall mythology and storylines. Stories are best when the reader/listener connects with the characters, developing a relationship with them. In this case, I’ve grown to care about Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon, making their journeys more exciting and emotional. And all three characters have matured so much since the first book. Especially Granuaile, who is now a full Druid. Yet she still has so much awe for the world around her. Having Atticus reconnect and rediscover the wonders of the earth and other planes through Granuaile, in effect allows me the same discoveries and awe-inspiring experiences.


I also appreciate and am extremely thankful of the direction the author has taken with the overall story arc. Atticus continues to pay for his crimes when he chose to help Leif seek revenge against Thor instead of walking away and staying neutral. It was one thing to kill Angus Og, who had been hunting him, but to assist in and cause the destruction he did to the Norse pantheon was simply outrageous. And now, over twelve years later, his actions are still causing him problems. Atticus’s introspection over his choices is the perfect blend of regretfulness and acceptance. He understands that he may never make amends and balance the scales, but he will do his best to try. However, it seems that in his effort for atonement, Atticus continues to cause more issues, and the problems he and Granuaile face just keep growing in a trickle-down effect. 


Luke Daniels continues to surprise and amaze me with his consistently strong narration. Not only has he mastered the voice for Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon (which I completely love!), but his wealth of accents for all creatures great and small is astounding! He seems to fit each character’s personality with a slight inflection here and there, or an outrageous accent when called for. He softens his voice for gentler characters, rasps it for deadly ones, booms loudly for thunder gods, and some how works in jovial mirth into others, making each voice utterly unique and memorable. Mr. Daniels is top of his game in Trapped.


Trapped is a self-contained, wonderfully written story, but the ending makes it clear that danger is around every corner for Atticus and the gang. The story served to whet my appetite for the future tales as I wonder how Atticus can right his wrongs and save the world without dying. 


Story: A

Narration: A+

Review: The Hard Way by Annika Martin

The Hard Way - Annika Martin

NOTE: Although each story in the Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers is standalone, the romance of the four main characters has developed over the course of the series, with deeply emotional roots and revelations along the way. Additionally, the events in prior books impact the events in this book. For these reasons, I do not suggest starting the series with The Hard Way. The first book in the series, The Hostage Bargain is currenly free!  http://amzn.to/2moqOuC


The story opens with the God Pack honeymooning in Rome for the past month. Although they know they cannot stay for long in one place, and in fact had to give up so much of their normalcy in escaping ZOX, the gang indulges in daily routine and the temptations of Rome. However, when Isis learns that her sisters’ farm is in trouble and her eldest sister, Vanessa, is charged with manslaughter, the guys whisk Isis back to Wisconsin. Investigating the alleged crime incognito, the gang promises to save Isis’s family.


There is so much to love in this series, and The Hard Way is another wonderful addition. First, the title’s opening sex scene (there is certainly more than one!) is one of the dirtiest yet in the series. And even when the guys are worshipping their goddess, the author always finds ways to slip in her amazing, dark humor. I just died when Thor asks “Um, did you guys just have some sort of mystical butt-f**king experience?” The timing of Ms. Martin’s offbeat humor is always impeccable. I think I laughed out loud every time the group found themselves in the cupid-infested B&B. Loved. It.


Next, The Hard Way is emotionally satisfying. Although every book centers on the foursome and their deepening love and commitment, each title tends to focus a little bit more on one of the characters, and in this light, I would say The Hard Way is Odin’s story. But you can’t think of this series as one that has a beginning and end point for each character. While the story looks deeper into Odin’s time as a captive, he’s not suddenly “cured” of his horrors by the end of the story - not even close. However, we witness tremendous growth in the relationship between Isis and Odin as she gets him to open up. She comes to understand that no matter how much she wants to help him, Odin’s nightmares won’t ever end. But she shows him that his sacrifices weren’t all dark - his world is full of gray. The back and forth between the pair provides both heart wrenching and yet oddly comforting moments as they give of themselves out of love.


Additionally, I loved watching the gang piece together the clues and figure out what happened in the mystery surrounding the salmonella outbreak. Sure, two of the God Pack are former spies and have mad investigative skills, but even Isis notices how she too has learned a thing to two about uncovering clues. They work great together, balancing and supporting one another to discover the whole picture. 


Finally, there are some teary-eyed moments as Isis revisits the sheep farm and all she left behind. Being back in her hometown not only causes Isis to relive past events, but forces her to deal with the decisions she made, and is still holding to, when she joined the God Pack. There were a few times I found myself sniffling (okay, even sobbing) as Isis takes her journey home.


In the end, I love the Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers series hard. I take great delight in how much the characters have grown over the course of each book. I love that they care about each other so much, and how they express it. Most of all, I love that the author will allow these guys to be dark, yet their mutual love protects them from going too far. Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers series is outlandish, yet brimming with emotional depth and intelligent plots  The titles are sinful and hot, but rooted in genuine love and compassion.


The Hard Way adds much to this amazing series. Not only did I enjoy the mystery and watching the gang solve it, but I loved how we learned more about Odin and coming full circle back to Isis's town. It was satisfying to have the introspection of how there lives have changed over two years. 


My Rating:  A,  Loved It

Review copy provided by blog tour

Review: Wake a Sleeping Tiger

Wake a Sleeping Tiger (A Novel of the Breeds) - Lora Leigh

Cullen Maverick is a recessed gene Bengal Tiger Breed who has lived among and worked with the Navajo Nation as the Commander of the Navajo Covert Law Enforcement Agency. After losing his wife to cancer ten years ago, he’s kept himself closed off, even from the woman he suspects may mean more to his hidden Tiger. 


Chelsea Martinez has been in love with Cullen for as long as she can remember, and has even worked for him for the past four years. But he’s put off her need to do more than push papers in the office, so she’s decided it’s finally time to leave the Law Enforcement Agency. Yet her resignation may push the recessed Tiger in Cullen to rip free and take over.


Prior to starting Wake a Sleeping Tiger, I went back and read my notes from the previous couple titles and realized that I had all but given up on the Breeds series, as it had become convoluted, full of new characters I didn’t care about, and frankly the editing left much to be desired in the storylines. But since I’d already picked up this title for review, I decided to go in with as much of an open mind as possible, and wow, am I glad I decided to read Wake a Sleeping Tiger! Overall, the writing and story are MUCH tighter than the previous books. There wasn’t really any wandering and meandering from thought to thought, but rather the story stayed focused on the romance between Cullen and Chelsea, as well as her work and the related story of the Cerves. 


Cullen and Chelsea made a fantastic pair. Their romance was hot, and the story was filled with amazing sexual tension. And although there were definitely times when the couple kept their innermost true feelings to themselves, it didn’t dominate the story nor was it a reason they stayed apart from one another. Chelsea was very open from the beginning, telling Cullen: “Just go home and stop trying to protect me. It was never your protection that I wanted.” She shared her fears over the mating, yet didn’t fight him about it. I did get a little frustrated with Cullen because he didn’t share his fears and frustrations with Chelsea, but his inner-thougths conveyed to the reader his own fears and limitations. One thing that I’ve learned from this series is that the male Breed needs an independent female who is his equal, even though it drives him and his animal crazy. If she can’t stand up to him, she can’t handle his beast. This is very true with Cullen, as he is a Primal Breed. 


In the end I really enjoyed reading Wake a Sleeping Tiger. It was a straight-forward story and a delightful, sexy Breed romance. Whether or not it actually forwarded the story, I’m not sure, but I like that it wasn’t full of hidden plots. I was glad to see some familiar faces and I truly hope the series is back on track. Wake a Sleeping Tiger has renewed my interest in the Breeds series.


My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by publisher

Quickie Review: Alejandro's Sorceress by Alyssa Day

Alejandro's Sorceress: A Cardinal Witches Novella (The Cardinal Witches Book 1) - Alyssa Day

Alejandro is a newbie government agent with years of vampire fighting experience. He and his partner are sent on a mission to help the Cardinal Witches with a basilisk problem. What Alejandro finds is a hot mess named Rose.


Rose Cardinal is a powerful witch who lives with her witchy-family. She spends her time helping others and caring for her community. Never giving much thought about personal time, she is shocked by her attraction to not-her-type Alejandro.


Alejandro's Sorceress is a novella-length story that spins-off a new series from Ms. Day's highly successful Warriors of Poseidon series. Although in the same world (and the bad a$$ warriors make a quick appearance), the tone of this book is much lighter than the original series.


Alejandro and Rose's romance is extremely quick. They share an insta-love that defies anything they've experienced before. But even those around them realize after just one day that the couple is destined to be mated. While I've never been a fan of quick-to-fall-in-love stories, there romance fits the mood and flow of the title, so I didn't mind it as I would in a more serious or longer book.


Alejandro's Sorceress is silly entertainment; a bit over the top, but light and humorous and done in an enjoyable manner. I liked the set up of the world, and the Cardinal family looks like a lot of fun. Reading Alejandro's Sorceress piqued my interest in checking out the next title, which I hope is a bit more developed with a bit longer storyline.


My Rating: B/B-