Friday, January 31, 2014

{Audiobook} Review: The Partner

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The Partner
by John Grisham

Genre: Legal Thriller, Crime Mystery
Source: my own copy
Date Read: 16 January 2014
Narrator: Frank Muller
Length: 11 hours 31 minutes 

They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more.But they found him.

My thoughts:
I have never read a John Grisham book before. I have always known that he is much loved for his legal thrillers and movies but have always assumed that it would be just to complicated for me to enjoy. Wow, was I wrong! I loved this book! It was very cleverly constructed up to the very unexpected (and sad?) ending.

The story starts when Patrick is caught and tortured. We already know what he did. We know that he faked his own death and stole millions of dollars. But as we get into the story, the facts are revealed and it becomes clear that we might have to change our mind. “Was he so wrong?”.

I just loved how every move is revealed and how we slowly become part of the solution. And isn't it fun when the bad guys get their reward in the end. And there are lots of cheers in this story – from the corrupt lawyers and insurance company to Patrick's very unlikeable trophy wife.

While searching the web to learn more about the narrator, Frank Muller, I found that he died in 2008 from multiple injuries after his motorcycle accident a few years prior. His website promises a few more hours in his company as he has also narrated some other books that is in my TBR list. This will be a pleasure as I enjoy his calm voice slowly revealing the details of a story. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

{Audiobook} Review: The Rules

 photo rules_zps483ae9e2.jpg The Rules
by Mark Troy 

Series: Prequel to The Ava Rome Mysteries
Publisher: Ilium Books
Date released: 27 December 2013
Genre: Short Story
Source: Review copy via Audiobook Jukebox
Date Read: 24 January 2014
Narrator: Julie Hoverson
Unabridged audio: Length: 1 hour 14 minutes 

Personal Protection specialist Ava Rome follows three rules: A professional never calls attention to herself or her principal; a professional never leaves her principal; and, the most important rule, a professional never gets involved with her principal. To break the rules is to die. Paul, her principal, comes from a powerful family with many enemies. Murder and kidnapping are just means of business in Paul's family. Ava believes he is not like the rest of them. Good looking, intelligent, he has everything women want. And many women want him, which makes Ava's job harder. Does she want him too? She recognizes that the greatest threat comes not from the outside, but from her own growing desire. In order to save them both, Ava must leave Paul, against his wishes and in violation of one of her rules. Ava was wrong. A greater threat lurks outside Paul's secure compound. Two threats, in fact. One human and the other a hurricane. Ava focuses on the hurricane. She and Paul make preparations to ride out the storm. It arrives and so does the intruder. Now Ava is in a fight for her life as nature's fury assaults the house from the outside and a serial rapist stalks her on the inside.

**For adult audiences only**

My thoughts:
Ava Rome is a professional. She knows the rules. And up until now, she has followed them religiously. But Paul is making it all very difficult for her to remember them every minute of every day. He does not want to take no for an answer. And sometimes Ava does not want him to.

I really enjoyed Ava. She is a strong leading lady and she can definitely take care of herself and her principal. She takes charge of every situation and her training kicks in before she actively thinks about it. Loved that! She is a kickass heroine. 
Paul, on the other hand, did not sit well with me from the first sentences. He was sleek, rich and . . . well, slippery. I just could not put my finger on it but I mistrusted him immediately. And boy, was I right!

I do not like to read about love triangles, or abuse of any kind and definitely not rape. Yes, I
do read crime novels and all of those can be part of the plot but it is usually told in the past tense and in broad strokes. The Rules makes us part of this terrible event and we are inside Ava's head all the way. The blurb did warn me but I did not pick up on it. My fault. By the time the climax of the book started, I was already invested in the story. I admit that I considered not going any further but I wanted Ava to survive. And looking back, it was not as “in-your-face-awful” as it could have been. I think Mark handled it with a lot of sensitivity.

In the end, this is a brutal story where we cheer Ava on and she gives us the ending we want. I definitely want to read more about her and luckily this is only the prequel. Look out for The Splintered Paddle, the first in the The Ava Rome Mysteries series, coming later in 2014.

I loved the narration by Julie Hoverson. I have read a bit of her facebook page and it looks like she is not actively doing a lot of narration. But what a job she did in the novella. She has a strong voice and she quickly became Ava for me. She does change her voice somewhat for the other characters but it was easy on my ear and did not distract from the story at all. I hope that she will be narrating the upcoming series as I loved her voice flowing into my ears. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

{Audiobook} Review: Blue Ink

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Blue Ink
by Nancy Fulda

Genre: Short Story 
Release date:  23 November 2013
Source: Review copy from the author 
via Audiobook Jukebox
Date Read: 23 January 2014
Narrator: J.R. Mangels
Unabridged audio: Length: approx 19 minutes 

Six-year-old Jason doesn't want to be cloned, even if his parents think it's a good financial investment. Concerned that his second self may not be happy, he secretly plans to violate the rules of his society... with unexpected results.

My thoughts:

Blue ink refers to the tattoos that all clones get in this futuristic world. Their serial numbers are tattooed in blue ink on their foreheads. Except for the menial jobs that clones do, I am not quite sure of their purpose in this world. Jason's father refers to the fact that if all goes well with his clone(s), Jason will never have to work when he becomes an adult. I can only assume that this means that the clones' “owners” are paid for their servitude in society.

This makes for a very sad life for clones. And Jason is very worried that his clone will not be happy. He has been discouraged for any interaction with clones but have secretly spoken with a few and feel sorry for the lives they have to lead. He wants to make sure that his

clone has a good life but his parents refuses to give him the opportunity to meet his first clone.

As soon as clones are “born” they are herded off to special institutions where they are taught all they need to know. Clones are definitely second class citizens in this world.

Short stories are either a hit or miss for me, there is just no in-between in this genre. Luckily the author got it right in Blue Ink. I think sci-fi fantasies lend themselves perfectly to this genre. If only we could have gotten to know more about Jason, his clone and their reality. I usually love these open endings which leaves you thinking . . . “oh no!” but with Blue Ink I found myself wanting more.

I think Blue Ink would make a wonderful novel and I hope that the author is considering it. I would love to learn more about this “sad” world.

I really enjoyed the narration too. JR Mangels made the transition from actor to narrator easily and had a very easy-to-listen-to voice. I think we will be hearing lots more from him in future.

All in all, I think Blue Ink is worth searching out. Although it is short, it packs a punch.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

{Audiobook} Review: Just after Sunset

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Just after Sunset 

by Stephen King

Original Publication date: 03 September 2009
Genre: Short Story Collection, Speculative Fiction
Source: my own copy
Date Read: 19 January 2014
Narrator: Various
Length: 15 hours 11 minutes 

Stephen King — who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies — delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.

Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating — and then terrifying — journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable — and resourceful — as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Just After Sunset — call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.

My thoughts:
This unabridged audio version of the short stories of Stephen King made for a enjoyable few hours. Not all of the stories was a hit for me and some just left me feeling “huh?” but mostly the old King-magic shone through. 

Short stories allow for some of the “stranger” aspects of life to be shared with listeners and some of these stories definitely fit that bill.  It was exactly what we were looking for.

There are 13 stories in this bundle - let me tell you about a few of my favorites.  

Willa I loved this story. Stranded passengers wait for rescue after their train derail. Not all of them have escaped the wreck with their minds undamaged, so no-one is practically worried when a young man finds that his fiance has disappeared – Willa was not very well liked. But Willa knows the truth and slowly she shows him what he has not allowed himself to see for maybe the last 20 years. This story had all the elements that makes for a creepy story – and I love creepy stories.

Harvey's Dream  It is early morning and when Harvey meets his wife in the kitchen, he begins telling her of the disturbing dream that he has just awoken from wherein an early morning phone call described an awful accident that will change their lives forever.
Some reviews speculate that “. . . everything Harvey described were actual events from earlier that morning, only believed to be a dream due to Harvey's self-denial and his onsetting Alzheimer's disease.” Somehow that makes the story even more disturbing . . . loved it!

N    N suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (or so we think). The story begins with a note sent to a childhood friend indicating that the doctor treating N has committed suicide (just like his patient). We hear transcripts of their sessions and come to believe that maybe N was not just imagining what was happening to him.  It is always a fascinating story for me when the mind starts to wander into the darker suburbs of our unconsciousness.  The mind can be a scary place.

There are some others that fits the creepy bill perfectly and still others that makes for disturbing reading and some others that will make you scratch your head.  A great escape.

There are quite a few different narrators in this book and King even narrated one of the stories himself (Harvey's Dream). It made for a nice variety. It felt like a brand new book every time I started a new story. The narrators' voices fit the feel of the stories perfectly and the overall quality was very good.  A wonderful compilation.

I would recommend this to satisfy your desire for the shady part of life . . .told through the voices of many characters.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Audiobook Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf

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How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
by Molly Harper 

Series: Naked Werewolf #1
Publication date: 22 February 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: my own copy
Date Read: 10 January 2014
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 9 hours 14 minutes 

Northern Exposure 

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham, who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska, has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble. 

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question. 

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

My thoughts:
Romances was always great fun reads for me and when I discovered Paranormal Romances, I was thrilled. I could not get enough. I just loved a happily ever after. In the last few years, my reading preferences have begun to shift and I have begun enjoying stories that have a bit more to the bones but a love story is still a huge attraction.

Going through some personal problems in the last few months, I just wanted a little fluff. I needed some over-the-top sweetness and two people making googly eyes at each other with none of the crime solving that I usually adore. And this is what I got with How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf.

There is no pretense of any snippet of reality in this story and I loved it. 

Grundy, Alaska is the ultimate small town with no evil person in sight (except for the bad guy which you meet far into the book off course). The characters are all super sweet and likeable and Mo, our heroine is the best – loved her! 

She survived living with hippy parents that was not above breaking into her home to throw away her fast food and replacing it with organic foods.  Werewolves did not even make her blink.   

Off course, Cooper is drool-worthy even if he can't resist his wolf traits.  He is not above peeing on the porch to mark his territory :)

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf  is a fun bit of fantasy that will leave you smiling.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Forget me Knot

 photo knot_zpsdcca2d2a.jpg Forget me Knot 

by Mary Marks 

Source: eARC from NetGalley 
Publication date: 07 January 2013 
Genre: Cozy Mystery 
Date read:  24 October 2013

Welcome to San Fernando Valley, California, where Martha Rose and her coterie of quilters are enjoying life on the good side of retirement--until murder pulls a stitch out of their plans. . .
Martha and her besties Lucy and Birdie are set to expand their Quilty Tuesdays by inviting newcomer Claire Terry into their group. Though at forty Claire's a tad younger than their average age, her crafty reputation could perk up their patchwork proceedings, especially as they prepare for the fancy quilt show coming to town. But when they arrive at Claire's home and find her dead inside the front door, and her exquisite, prize-winning quilts soon missing, Martha is not one to leave a mystery unraveled. Especially if she wants to stop a killer from establishing a deadly pattern. . .

My thoughts: 
I haven't read a cozy mystery in quite a while, so this was a special kind of fun for me!   

According to Wikipedia cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as "cozies," are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.   

This just means that cozies are fun reads where the crime solver is not a professional detective. 

Martha Rose is our crime buster in Forget me Knot.  She and her friends, Lucy and Birdie, find Claire, a potential 4th member of their quilting group,  murdered in her own home when they arrive for the Tuesday morning quilting date.  The next day at their quilting show, Claire's quilts are stolen.  Why would someone want to steal her quilts? 

Martha starts snooping and soon uncovers some awful family secrets which makes her look at Claire's life (and her family) with new eyes.  The list of potential murderers are getting more and more interesting.

I liked Martha Rose from the start.  Even though she was nosing around in other people's business, I never felt that she was a busy-body :)  Her friends was also developed throughout the story and they turned into loveable people with a lot of heart.  Their friendship was very believable and even when her friends' husbands were introduced, it just made the story flow easier.

There was a little bit of chemistry between Martha and Lt Arlo Beavers (the homicide detective on the case) but it was just a breath of fresh air in between the break-ins and dog-poop on the stoops :)

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next in the Quilting Mystery series.  It was a fun being part of Martha's world for a few days.   

Thank you NetGalley!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Best of 2013 Audiobook Blog Hop and Giveaway

Hi Everyone! 

It is time for the Best of 2013 Audiobook Blog Hop where we highlight our favorite 3 audiobooks from 2013. This hop is hosted by The Book Nympho, Hot Listens, and Geeky Bloggers Book Blog.  

It runs from Jan 1 2014 to Jan 15 2014.

I only listened to 23 audio books in 2013 (not too bad I think but not a lot reading the other participants blogs.)  
I have already started the challenge for 2014 - let's see if I can beat my total!

My top 3 for the year starts with an oldie but a goodie  . . . 

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child
Narrator: Dick Hill 
Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins 

I love Dick Hill - he was awesome as Jack Reacher!  I would recommend him highly.

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoron Strike #1)
 by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Length:  15 hrs and 53 min

This one was a surprise but I loved it - am keeping an eye out for the sequel.

Kinsey Millhone ABC series by Sue Grafton
Narrator:  Mary Pfeiffer
Length:  Usually around 8 hours

I am making my way through this series and I find that Mary Pfeiffer has a soothing, comforting narration style. 

 There are two giveaways today (yay!).  

The first is my personal giveaway.

I met JJ DiBenedetto in one of my Goodreads bookclubs.  James has written the Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Dreams series.  I have started the second audiobook in the series  - watch out for my review coming in 2014.  Will Sara's dreams of becoming a doctor be shattered?

James has been so generous to offer the audiobook of the first in the series, Dream Student to one lucky winner.  Just watch this video, I know you will be hooked.

Here is what the Goodreads blurb says:  What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?

Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.

But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.

“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.

Fill in my rafflecopter to win this awesome prize.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

And we have another big Blog Hop prize to give away:  Thanks to Audible you have an incredible opportunity to win a 6 month (single credit) membership to! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for stopping by.

And now, don't miss out on the other top audiobook selections and giveaways.  Visit the my fellow blog hop participants.