Saturday, December 26, 2015

Audio Obsession #5. Audiobook recs.

Audio Obsession is a feature where I spread my love for audiobooks around blogosphere. Here you’ll see all things audio related.

Lately several of my friends were looking for a good audiobook to listen and asked my help. I realized that it’s not that easy to make a choice. So today I and lovely Arlene from Waves of Fiction want to tell you about several audiobooks that we’ve enjoyed this year.

Arlene’s picks

Sebastian York narrated Owen Gentry's POV in Confess by Colleen Hoover and Elizabeth Louise narrated Auburn Reed in that same novel. Their voices commanded the stage in this novel, and it made it easy to fall into their story and believe their romance. I gave this novel 5 stars, and I attribute it to the narration of these brilliant voice actors.
I also have to commend Polly Stone who narrated The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I absolutely adored this novel for many reasons…. one being the passionate narration of Stone as she took us through the horrific events of World War I.

Ksenia’s picks

I loved The Distance Between Us by Kasie West narrated by Jorjeana Marie. She is one of my favorite female narrators, and she did such an amazing job here. She really brought to life the heroine of this book Caymen.
I highly recommend the audiobook The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. Some readers complain that they have difficulties when one narrator performs both male and female voices. You won’t have such problem here. We have four narrators here: Elizabeth Bower, Ben Elliot, Nicola Stanton, Steven France. And their performance is very good.

What about you? Have you listened to any good audiobooks this year? Hit us with your recommendations!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Audiobook review: Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

Title: Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1)
Author: Tessa Dare
Narrator: Carmen Rose
Story rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 3 of 5 Stars


This is one of those cases when I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy a book as much as my friends did. I don’t often venture into Historical Romance, I prefer contemporary. But when all my friends rave about a book it’s hard to stay away.

This story is about Isolde Goodnight or Izzy. She is a daughter of the famous author of Goodnight Stories, popular stories for children. After her father’s sudden death she is left penniless and homeless. Her rescue comes as an unexpected inheritance of a Castle, though its previous owner Ransom, Duke of Rothbury is not happy at all. He left blind after some mysterious incident, he is grumpy, rude, very attractive and completely unwelcoming. He wants to be left alone and he wants Izzy gone.

Historical Romance is a genre full of tropes; it’s hard for an author to write something new. But Tessa Dare definitely managed it. Izzy is not a typical shy virginal heroine waiting for her prince charming. She is a strong bright woman who doesn’t give up even in such difficult circumstances.

Ransome is a very interesting character too. I love how we get to see the real man under his grumpy and tough facade. It was very satisfying to see how Izzy broke his walls one after another. Ransome was lonely and unhappy man and my heart broke for him when it was revealed why he was this way.

The banter between Izzy and Ransome was my favorite part of the book. I loved that they didn’t give each other an easy way out, they challenged each other. Because of her father’s famous stories (which he supposedly wrote to his little girl) Izzy is stuck in this false image of a little helpless girl. Nobody sees her as a woman she is. I loved how Ransome challenged her to be herself. And Izzy pushed Ransome to deal with his own demons.

What didn’t work for me I guess was the romance. While there were several very steamy scenes, I wasn’t feeling any chemistry between Izzy and Ransome.

Another aspect that I didn’t like – there wasn’t actually much going on plot-wise. That’s actually surprising, because I’m not really a fan of action-packed books. I always prefer emotional stories with less action but a lot of feelings. Since the romance in this book didn’t grab me I wanted more from the plot.

My thoughts about the audiobook

Carmen Rose is a new to me narrator. At first I had difficulties with audio, because she has this peculiar voice and I constantly got distracted. After some time I got used to her narration. What I’m trying to say is that the narration was good, but I personally needed more time to get into the audiobook.

All in all I think it was a case of “it’s me, it’s not the book”. Romancing the Duke was enjoyable story with interesting characters, humor and I’m sad I didn’t love it as much as I wanted. If you love Historical Romance I’m sure you would have more luck with this book that I.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: Frisk Me (New York's Finest #1) by Lauren Layne

Title: Frisk Me (New York's Finest #1)
Author: Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars


Can you proclaim yourself a fan of an author if you’ve only read a couple of books written by him/her? No? I’ve read only two books by Lauren Layne: Isn’t She Lovely and Broken, yet I dare to say that she is one of my favorite authors. I can’t quite explain this, but every time I open a book written by this author, I have very pleasant feelings, it’s like tasting your favorite chocolate after a long break: anticipation and when you finally put a bit into your mouth, you are lost to sensations.

So unsurprisingly I loved Frisk Me. It was Lauren Layne’s trademark mix of likeable characters, swoon worthy romance and humor with a big dose of family. The plot was engaging and I was glued to the pages.

Luc Moretti is a NY cop, who’s unwillingly become famous. A tourist filmed how he saved a drowning little girl. Now there will be a TV show about him. Meet Ava Sims, a journalist who will be following Luc every day to write a story. Only Luc doesn’t think he is the hero, he’s struggling with guilt over the case that went wrong several years ago. And it looks like this sexy, sassy journalist would dig out all his secrets.

I loved the romance in this book. It was a perfect “from hate to love” type. It developed slowly at realistic pace with delicious anticipation and sexual tension. The author skillfully uses sex scenes to make a point. Nowadays there are millions adult and NA novels with a lot of meaningless sex. But in Lauren Layne’s books it actually adds something to the story.

As usual family plays a big role in latest Layne’s novel. I fell in love with Moretti family. The author said in her acknowledgments that her husband is Italian, and she consulted with her in-laws about ins and outs of Italian family. And the result is very authentic, at least for me. I love this bustling, nosy and very loving mob.

And of course humor. Lauren Layne always manages to put a smile on my face. Luc’s grandmother Nonna made me laugh out loud.

Despite overall light mood of the story Lauren Layne raises several serious topics here. The aspect than resonated with me the most was family pressure on the child in choosing his\her profession. Both Luc and Ava feel this pressure, since Luc is from cop family and everyone in Ava’s family works on TV. Luc’s ambitions are the same that the expectations of his family, Ava is not so sure. Her straggles and doubts resonated with me on a personal level. I chose the same professional field as my parents, and there were points at my life when I asked myself if it was my decision of it was pressure of my family.

All in all Frisk Me is an engaging story, full of swoon and fun. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it. I’m looking forward to read Anthony and Vincent stories.

PS. This cover. Ugh… Does this model look anything like Italian Luc Moretti? And I’m not happy with the covers for the next books.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Audiobook review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Story rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Sometimes you open a book and know right away that you would fell in love with it. For me The Distance Between Us was perfect. It had all points that make a good contemporary for me.

  • Realistic and likable heroine, which I instantly connected with. Caymen was one of the reasons why I loved this book so much. Her voice was so genuine. I also loved her sarcastic sense of humor.

  • Hero, who was not only handsome and rich, but also kind and caring. I’ve told this before, but I repeat myself: there are a lot of books in YF genre where the love interest is a rude and arrogant jerk and much lesser books with caring and kind guys. Bad boys are definitely in trend. I personally don’t mind bad boys, but it’s good to have a “normal” hero, who treats heroine kindly. And Xander was just awesome.

  • Swoon-worthy romance. Caymen and Xander’s relationship developed gradually (instant-love haters, you shouldn’t worry). The romance was so sweet. And “rich guy fell in love with poor girl” is one of my favorite kind of romances.

  • It was a coming of age story at heart. Both Caymen and Xander dealt with family pressure and expectations. They both were at that point of their lives when they were not sure where they wanted to go from there. I’m sure many readers would relate, I sure did.

  • Present family. I always prefer books that are not only all romance, but books where family plays a significant role. I liked Caymen’s relationship with her mother and we also see glimpses of Caymen’s family.

  • Friends. Though Caymen’s relationship with her best friend was not main focus of the book, she was still very present.

  • Kasie West writing is easy-flowing and engaging. It was my first book by this author and I’m looking forward to read more.

  • The cover is gorgeous. I’m in love with it!

My thoughts about the audiobook

If you follow me, you probably know that this year I fell in love with Jorjeana Marie. She is my favorite female narrator for YA. Her narration is amazing and I can’t praise her enough. I highly recommend the audiobook.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars


"You never know when it’s going to be the last time. That you hug someone. That you kiss. That you say goodbye."

These past few years there has been a “death trend” in YA. A lot of books about death, suicide, grieving have been released. I wasn’t tempted to read them. Partly it was because this type of books requires some emotional strength from reader; being busy and tired in real life I tend to read more light and fluffy books. But the main reason was that I have a feeling that some authors just use these serious topics to “spice up” their stories, skipping past important things.

But I made an exception for this book. Why? Was it this simple, but instantly grabbing my heart cover? Or was it this beautiful haunting title? I don’t know, but I’m so glad I’ve read it.

This story is about Lex, a girl who’s trying to come in terms with her brother Tyler’s suicide. This is one of those stories that sneak up on you. It is sad in a quiet way, it doesn’t make you emotional wreck at once, but drop after drop it fills your heart with sadness.

This book focuses more on the consequences of suicide for those left behind. While Tyler was present throughout the book in Lex’s memories and her thoughts about him, this was mostly her story.

I’m lucky, and I haven’t lost anyone I loved, but I feel like Lex’s grieving was portrayed very authentically. She misses her brother, they were very close, and she loved him so much. But at the same time she feels anger, resentment and guilt over what he had done. There’s also the fact that people treat her differently. She’s now “the girl whose brother killed himself”.

I appreciate that it was her own story, it wasn’t “a boy saved her” story (which I see a lot in YA). We become witnesses to how Lex is trying to come in terms with what happened, how it finally all come to forgiveness.

"Forgiveness is tricky, because in the end it’s more about you than it is about the person who’s being forgiven."

I also want to mention Cyntia Hand’s writing style: beautiful, easy-flowing, not too flourish. It worked for me perfectly.

This book made me appreciate what I have in my life. It made me want to hug my loved ones and don’t let them go for a while. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a heartbreaking and beautiful story; it’s not easy to read but I highly recommend it.

Cynthia Hand lost a loved one. She wrote a heartbreaking author note. I’m very grateful that she was brave to raise this very sensitive for her topic and wrote this emotional and thought provoking book.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kiss and Tell #2. So Over You

Kiss and Tell
Kiss and Tell is a feature about kisses in books. First kisses and good-bye kisses. Gentle kisses and angry kisses. Sensual kisses and awkward kisses. Kisses, that made me swoon, and kisses, that made me lift my eyebrow. Kisses, that made me smile and kisses that made me cry. Get ready, I’ll tell you about single one of them.

I’ve read this book a while ago, and I admit that some things became a little bit foggy. Not this kiss… It lingers. It has such visceral effect on me to this day.
"We stood too close. I could see the flecks of color, golds and greens in his eyes, and I was sure he saw the unshed tears caught in mine. The moment bore down on us, heavy, like the feel of the air right before a thunderstorm. A little sigh escaped my lungs, and my chin tilted just a bit. His palm smoothed a small path from my chin to my cheek, and his fingers feathered into my hairline. We were powerless to stop, and our lips inched closer.
Closer. Closer. The first brief pass of his mouth shocked me even though I had known it was coming. I clutched his arms for support and kept my eyes open. He hesitated, his forehead wrinkled in bewilderment, and then he swooped in again, both hands in my hair, and the bottom of my world dropped away.
We kissed with the same parry and thrust that we did everything. An answer to a taunt. Vying for what seemed to be the same thing, the clash of wills and lips."

from 'So Over You' by Gwen Hayes
So Over You is a brain candy kind of book. It is cute and funny. It has likable characters and delicious hate-to-love romance. It had hilarious banter, and it’s hugely entertaining.

Though this book is sweet and light, it deals with a very serious topic. And it was thrown onto the reader out of the blue. I wasn’t prepared for it at all. Just keep in mind that this book is not all fluff.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mini-review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe #2) by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe #2)
Author: Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?

After I finished Crimson Bound I wasn’t ready to tell good-bye to Rosamund Hodge’s stories. So I picked up Gilded Ashes. This book is set up in the same world as Cruel Beauty. It’s a loosely retelling of Cinderella. I’ve said it before; I love how Rosamund Hodge takes a fairy tale and transforms it into her own unique story.

I expected another ambiguous angry heroine from this author, but Maia was very different from Nyx and Rachelle. While I liked her a lot, I was longing for more complexity.

My favorite aspect of Gilded Ashes was relationship between Maia and her sisters. The sister dynamics remained me a lot of Cruel Beauty.

I wish this were a full novel instead of novella. So many paths were left unexplored. The ending also was hastily wrapped-up.

But I still loved this novella and thankful to Rosamund Hodge for another little glance into Cruel Beauty world.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

Like Rosamund Hodge’s first novel Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound was very atmospheric. The author created rich, full of lore world.

I love that she doesn’t just write retellings. She uses the original fairy tale as an inspiration and creates her own unique and alluring story. There were short chapters of legends throughout the main story and they added this dark edge.

"she wasn’t like any of the heroines in those stories"

Rosamund Hodge like no one can write unlikable angry heroines, full of guilt and self-loathing. Heroines that make bad and unmoral things. But I love them. I loved Nyx from Cruel Beauty and I fell in love with Rachelle. My friend Keertana had an amazing guest post with Rosamund Hodge on her blog. If you want to know why the author wrote such female characters, check it out here.

The aspect of the book that had the strongest impact on me was the unthinkable choice in front of Rachelle. She did an awful thing; yes she was tricked, but a person died because of her. Now she faces consequences.

"Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die.
She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy, desperate scrap of her heart."

I loved the dynamic of Armand and Rachelle’s relationship. At first she considered him a fraud and despised him for that. Later they formed an untrusted partnership which transformed into friendship and finally love. They are very different persons, but somehow they complement each other.

"Armand was the one who knew how to speak, anyway. He smiled and turned his words into knives that sliced out answers and distinctions. She was just the girl who plunged blindly ahead and doomed herself doing it."

The romance wasn’t the main focus of the story, but it was unique. I’m in owe of Rosamund Hodge. To create a love interest who doesn’t have hands! I hope she would write NA or Adult. There were so many alluring possibilities in all her books which were not explored because of YA limitations. Though, in comparison to Cruel Beauty this book was surprisingly sensual and steamy.

"And then she felt it again: the sudden, sharp awareness of wanting to touch him, of the space between them as an open wound, of her own body being jumbled and awkward and far too separate when she could be pressed against him, waist to waist and chin to shoulder and her fingers sliding into that pale brown hair"

Rosamund Hodge created very interesting second characters. Erec was such a complex character. I can’t fully discuss him without spoilers, I just say that he intrigued and fascinated me. Despite his choices and his acts I couldn’t hate him, just like Rachel.

This book was surprisingly action packed. I expected something like Cruel Beauty in this aspect: a lot of mental battles, but nonexistent physical ones. But in Crimson Bound Rosamund Hodge gave the reader a lot of fighting scenes. I’m sure many readers will be thrilled. Since I’m not actually a big fan of action-packed books, this aspect was just ok for me.

Writers creating fantasy and retellings have to choose between romance and plot. More often than not they choose the latter and write plot-driven action-packed books. But I prefer romantic stories. I know, I know, they are criticized for shaky world-building or lack of action, but I love them. I will choose romantic story to action-packed book every time. Rosamund Hodge in Crimson Bound managed to deliver both aspects. Plot is very engaging; there are a lot of action scenes and the romance is wonderful.

The author created an original story with dark atmosphere and complex characters facing impossible choices. It’s beautifully written, thought-provoking and very entertaining. I loved this unique book and can’t wait what Rosamund Hodge comes up with next. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kiss and Tell #1. Exquisite Captive

Kiss and Tell
Kiss and Tell is a feature about kisses in books. First kisses and good-bye kisses. Gentle kisses and angry kisses. Sensual kisses and awkward kisses. Kisses, that made me swoon, and kisses, that made me lift my eyebrow. Kisses, that made me smile and kisses that made me cry. Get ready, I’ll tell you about single one of them.

I’m a grown-up woman, but I’m still a hopeless romantic. A good fictional kiss makes me feel butterflies in my stomach. So today I want to quote one of my favorite kisses and make you swoon with me.
"Her kiss told him everything she couldn’t say, wouldn’t say. It was hello and good-bye, yes and I hope so. It was an apology written as a love letter, sealed with fierce hope."
from 'Exquisite Captive' by Heather Demetrios
Sigh… I also love that this quote doesn’t reveal who the love interest is. You need to read the book and find out.

I usually pick up the series after all installments are released. I can’t deal with cliffhangers, and I have a hard time waiting for the next book. But I made an exeption for Dark Caravan Cycle series by Heather Demetrios. This beautiful cover caught my eye, and I was intrigued by the story about a genie. Then I’ve seen some mixed reviews. Some readers loved Malec, another hated him, but no one stayed indifferent. I love complex ambigues characters, so I had to know for myself. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Your audience: bloggers or non-bloggers?

Last week Aentee at Read at Midnight posted “Posts I loved reading as a non-blogger”, where she discussed how her preferences changed since she became a book-blogger. Many people (myself included) admitted in comments that their tastes changed too, and that posts they loved as non-bloggers are not the same as those they love to read now.

So today I want to talk about content for non-bloggers and content for bloggers since it looks like it’s not the same.

I rated level of interest:
3 Stars – very interesting
2 Stars - moderately interesting
1 Stars – neutral or not interesting


Book reviews

3 Stars
Almost everyone admitted that they were looking for reviews when they were non-bloggers. Important note: readers are looking for a blogger with similar book tastes and interesting writing style (it can be snarky and sarcastic, other followers prefer beautiful writing, and some are interested in thorough and informative reviews).

Lists, recommendations, read-a-likes

3 Stars
Non-bloggers use these posts for their “to be read shelf” as well as book reviews.

New releases, book news

3 Stars
Looks like these posts are pretty popular among non-bloggers. And they find it helpful if there are also purchase links.

Book hauls

1-2-3 Stars
Very different opinions here. Some non-bloggers love this type of posts, some don’t.


2 Stars
Discussions are not as popular as previous types of posts, but non-bloggers still find them interesting. Note: non-bloggers prefer bookish discussions; they are not interested in discussions about blogging.


1-2-3 Stars
And again very different opinions. Some non-blogger like them, some – not so much.

Bookish events

2-3 Stars
Popular posts, especially if you add photos.


Book reviews

1-2 Stars
It looks like book reviews became more and more unpopular among book-bloggers. It makes me really sad, we are BOOK COMMUNITY after all. Why? I have a guess, though I may be wrong. Blogger usually follows many blogs, and our blogger-friends not always have the same book tastes (like our real life friends). The range of reviews that blogger reads is wider, and they read reviews on books that are not their genre or even not interesting for them at all. As a result reading the reviews can became a choir.

Lists, recommendations, read-a-likes

2 Stars
I guess among bloggers these posts more about raising a discussion and chatting with your friends.

Book hauls

1-2-3 Stars
It’s a way to see what your friends purchased and chat. Here book-tubers win, because many people admit that they prefer to see “real books”.

New releases, book news

1-2 Stars
Since bloggers are immersed in community, they usually know about new releases and book news, so they don’t find this type of posts very interesting.


3 Stars
Discussions are very popular in book community, especially blog-related discussions.

Graphic tips

3 Stars
As well as blogging tips graphic tips are very popular. Many bloggers want to add some unique designs to their blogs, so they find this kind of posts helpful.


1-2-3 Stars
Some bloggers love memes, others don’t like them. But many admit that after they’ve read 5-10 Ten Top Tuesdays in one day, it became tiresome.


2-3 Stars
Bloggers like to tag each other. It’s a fun way to communicate and get to know each other.

Bookish events

2-3 Stars
It’s great to visit an event vicariously through fellow blogger.

Non-bloggers and bloggers

Personal posts

3 Stars
Personal posts are very popular. It’s good to know a real person behind the blog, especially when you follow a blogger for a while.

Travels with photos

3 Stars
People love these posts (bloggers and non-bloggers alike).


Content for book-bloggers is not the same as content for non-bloggers. So if you want to widen you audience, you should write posts for both groups. If you want to engage bloggers, you should post more discussions, graphic tips, blogging tips. If you blog focuses on non-bloggers, your content: book reviews, lists, recommendations, read-a-likes, new releases, book news.

All these differences are not strict. I’m sure there are book-bloggers who love new releases as well as non-bloggers who find graphic and blogging tips interesting. Just do what you feel passionate about. It’s the reason we all started blogging after all. Happy and content blogger is always magnet for followers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review: The Return (Titan #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: The Return (Titan #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars


My friend Jeanne said in one of her reviews, that "sometimes you just need a book that makes you happy". And Return had such effect on me. I was absolutely giddily happy, with lightness in my heart and smile on my lips, when I closed this book. Don’t you think it’s worth something?

Warning: some minor spoilers for Covenant series ahead.

I admit I had my reservations about this book. Return is a spinoff of Covenant series. I’ve read it when I was just discovering YA. Wide-eyed and inexperienced in this genre, I loved it. Seth played a big role in Covenant, and I can’t say I was his fan. Firstly he made some pretty bad decisions with consequences. Secondly, I was Aiden team.

But Seth was very different in The Return. And it didn’t feel forced. Events in the last books of Covenant changed him. While he continued to keep his arrogant “I don’t care” façade, inside he blamed himself and he was so lonely. In Return we got to see vulnerable, gentle and caring Seth. Seth, who longed to be loved and to love. I fell in love with him.

Seth assigned to protect Josie, a mortal girl, and he was not happy about it. She was a wonderful heroine. She lived an average life of a college student, she studied, had fun with her best friend and had family problems. Then she was suddenly thrust into this new world with Greek Gods, dangerous creatures and she was told that she had a dangerous mission. She took it all in with admirable strength.

I loved their relationship with Seth. Josie stood her ground and I liked how she teased Seth. While Covenant is YA, The Return is NA through and through. There were a lot of delicious steamy scenes in this book. I loved chemistry between Seth and Josie. Jennifer Armentrout like no one can write amazing sexual tension. There was an element of forbidden romance and I admit I wanted more in this aspect. I think they gave up too easily to their attraction. I’m a fan of forbidden romance and I would love to be left hanging a little longer (like it was in Covenant, there was a huge forbidden romance).

Those of you who loved Covenant would be pleased to meet familiar characters. And there was a lot of fun in this book.

Jennifer Armentrout surprised me with her ability to make me look at a character from a new angle, to go beyond familiar. She did it with Seth and she did it with another character. If you've read Covenant, I’m sure you remember furies. I wasn’t a big fan of these dangerous creatures. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I just say that the author absolutely changed my view of them.

You don’t need to read Covenant before The Return, the author went over the most important events of Covenant. Though I personally think that those who’d read Covenant would enjoy The Return more. Advice: if you intend to read Covenant, the reading order is Covenant first, The Return next.

Of course The Return is not without flaws, there are a lot of usual NA tropes and world building is pretty weak, but you know what? I don’t care! I enjoyed this book immensely. It made me smile, it made me swoon, and it made me care for the characters. I didn’t have luck with several recent releases from Jennifer Armentrout, in truth I began to wonder that maybe she’s not the author for me anymore. This book made me realize that I still love her works and I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

DNF review: Changing His Game (Gamers #1) by Megan Erickson

Title: Changing His Game (Gamers #1)
Author: Megan Erickson
My rating: 2 of 5 Stars
He controls the game, but she’s rewriting all the rules…

Marley Lake is no stranger to awkwardness, but getting caught watching a dirty GIF by the company’s hot new IT guy exceeds even her standards. That is, until she realizes he's as turned on by it as she is. But with a big promotion on the line, she refuses to let her current dry spell be her downfall. Maybe.

Austin Rivers has no business lusting after the irresistible editor of Gamers Magazine. He's a secret partner in the business—and technically Marley’s boss. One look at that GIF, though, and he’s ready to install a whole lot more than just software…as long as she never finds out who he really is.

But reality’s not as virtual as it seems, and when Austin’s identity jeopardizes Marley’s promotion, he has to change his game or risk losing the only woman with the cheat code to his heart.

It looks like Brazen books are not for me. I’ve tried several and none of them worked for me. I don’t know what the problem is. Maybe it’s because they are short. It’s hard to develop characters and make interesting romance when you are so limited in pages, especially when a big chunk of the book is taken by sex scenes.

And I really expected to enjoy Changing His Game. A sexy nerd as a hero, a strong and driven heroine, forbidden romance (especially forbidden romance!) and sexy times – what not to love?

Well, I tried to finish this book twice. First time I managed about 20%, had a hard time getting into the story, decided that maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this kind of story and put it on hold. Time passed, and I picked it up again and read about 50%, then I put it aside again.

Now almost two months later I have no inclination to continue it. So DNF.

What were my issues with this book? I couldn’t connect with the characters. I found them flat and uninteresting. The romance developed too quickly, though I don’t mind in this case, because you expect this from a Brazen book. What I mind though is a lack of chemistry. Since I read this kind of books with the only purpose – to get wonderful romance with sexual tension, I was greatly disappointed.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from reading this little story though. Many of my friends enjoyed it. If you liked Brazen books previously you probably would enjoy Changing His Game more than I did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What to do if another blogger came up with the same idea and posted it first?

A while ago I had this idea to make a feature on my blog with my favorite quotes. The general idea was to choose one quote at a time, share with you why it affected me so much, and tell you my thoughts about the book in a short format.

So I searched the blogs to make sure there wasn’t similar feature, and I found out that Maja at The Nocturnal Library had Nocturnal quotes, though her posts were a little different from what I had in mind. I contacted her and asked if it was ok for me to make a quote feature, and she said go ahead.

Me being me, I decided I should make some preparations. Firstly I needed a feature name; secondly I wanted to select quotes. I planned to start this feature in November.

Then last weekend Jamie at The Perpetual Page-turner posted “From My Quote Notebook”.

My first thought: OMG, it’s exactly what I planned to do for my quote feature. Funny how the same idea came to mind to different people.

My second thought: OMG, now if I start my feature everyone would think I stole the idea from Jamie. Because she did it first, and because she is a very popular blogger.

And this made me sad and a little bit angry. Angry at myself that I waited so long. Angry at Jamie, because she posted it first (I know it’s petty and totally uncalled for). Angry at book community, because everyone is obsessed with plagiarism.

Of course I calmed down, but I still don’t know what to do. Should I start this feature as I planned? Should I abandon the idea completely? Should I contact Jamie? I’m lost.

My dear fellow bloggers, I reach out for you. I need your advice. Have you ever been in such situation?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Audio Obsession #4. To read or to listen?

Audio Obsession is a feature where I spread my love for audiobooks around blogosphere. Here you’ll see all things audio related.

To read or to listen?

I love reading and I love listening to audiobooks. So I often have to choose between the book and the audio. It looks like I have a pattern. Books I prefer in audio:

Beautiful prose

In my opinion audio format helps to appreciate author’s writing style. While listening I pay more attention to the beauty of the words. So authors with gorgeous writing is on my “to listen” list.

One of the authors I prefer in audio is Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve listened to The Scorpio Races and The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and I highly recommend the audiobooks, narration was really good. I plan to listen The Raven Cycle series too.

The other “audio-author” for me is Gayle Forman. This year I’ve listened to three audiobooks: If I Stay, Where She Went and I Was Here. If I Stay and Where She Went ended on my “true-book-love” shelf, both for the stories and for the narration. While I Was Here wasn’t a total winner for me, the narrator Jorjeana Marie was amazing. I definitely plan to check out her backlist, because I was very impressed with her performance.

Earlier this year I’ve read Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand. Her writing is gorgeous, I have a feeling I would love her stories in audio. I want to listen to her Amour et Chocolat series.

The author I’m eyeing audio-wise is Laini Taylor. I haven’t read anything by her yet, but I’ve heard a lot about her beautiful flourish writing. I think I would try her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series in audio format.

Romantic Suspense

I think it all started with Sandra Brown. Long time ago I’ve listened to several audiobooks and became a fan of her thrillers. Since then I’ve “read” her books only in audio. I don’t have a good explanation for this. I guess it’s partly a habit, partly my love for Victor Slezak (he is one of my favorite male narrators, and he performed in many Sandra Brown’s audiobooks). So I prefer Sandra Brown in audio.

Since then my audio preferences spread to whole Romantic Suspense genre. I’ve listened Linda Howard’s books in audio. I plan to listen to I-Team series by Pamela Clare and Killer Instincts series by Elle Kennedy.

Audiobooks narrated by my favorite narrators

When I find a narrator whom I love, I check out his or her backlist and listen to practically everything. For example, Dan Bittner. I fell in love with his narration in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. Then I went through his backlist and listened to Where She Went by Gayle Forman (which I absolutely loved).

Friends recs

When my friend gushes about an amazing audiobook, I can’t pass it. This happened with After the Night by Linda Howard. Rachel from Readers Den said that Natalie Ross’ narration was excellent and I went for the audiobook.

What about you? What books do you prefer in audio?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: The Chase (Fast Track #4) by Erin McCarthy

Title: The Chase (Fast Track #4)
Author: Erin McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Kendall Holbrook is determined to make it to the top, even with the challenge of being a woman on the male-dominated racing circuit. She doesn't have time for romance-especially not with racing rival Evan Monroe, the man who nearly crushed her dream years ago. Tricked into meeting him, Kendall is experiencing all those old feelings again-and she can't deny that they still have enough chemistry to set fire to the track.

I want to say right away that in this case 3 Stars is a positive rating. This book has one of my pet peeves, and it actually speaks volumes about Erin McCarthy’s writing that I still enjoyed The Chase so much. In truth in the past books with similar plot line ended up being 1 or 2 Stars for me.

Until 70 % mark The Chase was good. This book was about Evan Monroe, whom we’ve met in previous books and Kendall Holbrook who was the only woman in the car racing team and who also happened to be Evan’s first love.

We met Evan in the first book Flat-Out Sexy and he was present in the second and third books. I can’t say that I was a big fan of him. He came across as a careless player who was all for the sex and fun and had serious issues with commitment. In truth I wasn’t looking forward to read Evan’s story and thought about skipping The Chase. In the end I decided to give it a try and Evan surprised me. In this book I saw the real man behind his player facade and understood the reasons of his actions.

Kendall was a likeable heroine. On the outside she was very strong and brave, the first female race driver, but on the inside she was very vulnerable and insecure. Evan and Kendall fell in love as teenagers, but their relationship ended up abruptly leaving them both heartbroken and angry, so years later there were a lot of sexual tension, memories and feelings between these two.

The additional perk was that we get to see all couples from previous books. This book was like coming home: comfortable and familiar.

As I said before it all was good until 70 %. Then very insignificant event happened. But it made me very nervous. I had a really bad feeling where the story was heading. So during next chapters I was anxiously waiting if my suspicions would come true. About 80 % in it happened. After this revelation I actually thought about DNFing this book. I’ve read several books with similar plot line and unfortunately in all of them it was executed badly. One book particularly comes to mind. I’ll put it under the spoiler just in case.

Bad for You (Sea Breeze #7) by Abbi Glines

In that book the hero behaved awfully, I wanted to into the book and strangle him. So at this point I thought that The Chase would end up the same way. And this is where Erin McCarthy proved me wrong. Evan dealt with this situation in such mature and responsible way; he totally won me over in this part of the book. And while I still wish that the story didn’t go in this direction, I amazed at how much I liked this book.

Overall The Chase was a sexy and funny second chance story. I’m sure most of readers won’t have any issues with this book, since it was my personal pet peeve that didn’t let me fully enjoy The Chase.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Audiobook review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover
Narrator: Sebastian York, Elizabeth Louise
Story rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars


I have a confession: I’m a hopeless audiobook addict. I’m not kidding. I listen every chance I get, even if it’s just ten minutes commute; I listen while I’m cooking, I listen while I’m cleaning, I listen while I’m walking, sometimes I even listen while I’m applying make-up. You get the picture. So it’s not a good sign when this happens:

  • I’m cleaning and I’m listening to music instead of an audiobook.
  • During my commute instead of an audiobook I’m going for the radio.
  • I’m walking and instead of plugging my ear buds in, I’m, well, just walking.
  • I’m applying my make-up, and I’m thinking “It’s just several minutes, why even bother with an audiobook, I don’t have “enough time to listen”.

This is exactly what happened here. I think it took me twice as long as usual to listen to Confess because I found more interesting things to do. I had my doubts before starting this book, and unfortunately it didn’t work for me at all. It’s been ages since I’ve read a book by Colleen Hoover. I’ve read and loved her Slammed and Hopeless, but my book tastes changed drastically since then. So I don’t think I would give those books high ratings now. In truth the reason why I decided to read Confess is that the audiobook is narrated by Sebastian York. I’ve heard A LOT about this narrator. It looks like everyone praises his voice. So as a self-proclaimed audio addict I needed to hear him for myself. My thoughts about the narration later, now I want to talk about the book.

I was bored out of my mind. I think if I read this book instead of listening I would DNF it.

This story is about Auburn Reed. She has recently moved to Texas, she has undesirable job, feels very lonely and in need of money and new job. Then one day she comes across Owen Gentry’s studio. He is an artist and his project is very unique. People anonymously send him their confessions, and he uses them as an inspiration for his works. He needs an assistant and Auburn jumps at the offer. They feel an instant attraction, but of course there are a lot of obstacles on their way.

First of all I want to say that Owen freaked me out in first chapters. He came across as a stalker who somehow knew Auburn from the past and was obsessed with her. Then of course there was insta-love which annoyed the hell out of me. I do believe in insta-lust. But in this case Auburn and Owen weren’t just physically attracted to each other. After knowing each other for a few days they felt so much so deeply, that it was over the top. I find it hard to believe that a woman in Auburn’s position would risk it all, risk to lose the most important thing in her life for a guy she had just met. As for the Owen I find his obsession on Auburn bordering on unhealthy. All in all I couldn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t feel any chemistry between them and their insta-love annoyed me a lot.

There were several twists in the book, but my mind was wondering. I usually love suspense, I love when the author keeps me in the dark, but in this case I was bored. I was so annoyed with the characters, that when all secrets were revealed I just didn’t care.

My thoughts about the audiobook

Elizabeth Louise, who narrated Auburn, is a new to me narrator. She was ok, I guess, but I don’t think I’ll be in search of audiobooks performed by her.

Here comes Sebastian York. Well, I wasn’t impressed. There, I’ve said it. Probably my extremely high expectations were the cause of my disappointment. I don’t know what I expected; everyone mentions that his voice is sexy and sinful. Sebastian York is a good narrator, but I don’t get all this fuss around him, though this can be just my personal preference. I also had another issue. As I understood Owen was in his early twenties, but Sebastian York sounds like a man in his thirties. At first I wanted to check out how old Sebastian York is; maybe he is twenty and he just has an older voice. But you know what? Narrator’s real age doesn’t matter, because listeners hear only his voice. It really annoys me when narrator’s voice is not age-appropriate.

As you can see Confess was a big disappointment for me. It’s a shame really because I find the concept of this book very interesting (the author included confessions from real people and some of them were heartbreaking). I also wonder if my feelings toward Confess would be different if read a paperback instead of an audiobook. Many readers mentioned gorgeous art-work. All in all it seems like Colleen Hoover is not an author for me anymore. I think it’s time to part our ways.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Audiobook review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Story rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 3 of 5 Stars


Well, I can’t say that I haven’t been warned. Many of my friends were disappointed in this book. But it didn’t stop me. I’ve read and absolutely loved If I Stay and Where She Went. I added both of these books to my “true-book-love” shelf (I don’t do this easily). And I just wanted more of Gayle Forman’s writing. So I lowered my expectation a little and picked up I Was Here.

Aaaand I ended up disappointed like many of Gayle Forman’s fans. I had several issues with this book, and I’ll tell you later what they were.

This story is about Cody, whose best friend Meg killed herself. They were best friends forever in High School, and when after graduation Meg went to college and left Cody behind in their small town, they stayed in touch. Cody thought she knew everything about Meg. So it’s a shock when Meg ended her life. Meg’s parents asked Cody to go to Meg’s place and pack her things. When she got there she met Meg’s roommates, a boy Meg had a crush on and discovered a whole part of Meg’s life she knew nothing about. Later she found a cryptic file on Meg’s computer which can be a key to her death. So began Cody’s journey to finding the truth about Meg’s life and death and maybe about Cody herself.

And now about my issues.

  • I wasn’t grieving with Cody. This book is about grieving; this book is about a girl who recently lost her best friend. I expected my heart to be broken. I expected to feel, to cry. Nothing. You know I’m a crier. I often cry over books, but there wasn’t a single tear from me while I was reading I Was Here. I know that Gayle Forman can write grieving. I couldn’t help myself but compare this book to If I Stay and Where She Went. I felt so much while reading those books, there was an avalanche of emotions.

  • In truth it’s like I was cheated with I Was Here. Gayle Forman went with this formula: an average girl with tragic past meets a rock boy, who is arrogant womanizer with pretty eyes. He changes for her and of course he saves her. Sounds familiar? I’ve read this so many times before. I expected something unique from Gayle Forman.

  • And finally my last but not least issue with this book. It has one of my pet peeves. I know it’s just my personal preference; probably many readers won’t be as annoyed as I was. Though one of my friends will definitely have the same feelings as I did (I’m looking at you Jeanne). The love interest had very beautiful and expressive eyes, and the author kept reminding this again and again. Nowadays authors often do this “eyes thing”. It seems heroes don’t have other parts of their body which deserve attention. It’s like Suzanne Collins started this trend with Finnick’s famous sea green eyes. Just to prove my point some quotes:

"I see that his eyes are impossibly blue"

"She’d also written about his eyes, so blue, she’d thought he wore contacts. I look at them now. They are weirdly blue"

"His eyes are a whole different color here, in the pale light of Meg’s room."

"His eyes, this time, look like the color of a sky after sunset, almost violet. I’ve never seen someone whose eyes change colors, like some mood ring to the soul."

"His eyes go wide. They’re an electric shade of blue now, or maybe it’s just the reflected glow of the TV."

"He looks at me. And those eyes. I have to look away."

"His eyes, they change, like a traffic light going from green to yellow."

"I look at him. His eyes, like the skin under them, seem bruised."

"His eyes, a soft blue, like the empty swimming pool outside, widen in surprise."

"I take him in. His eyes are violet this morning, almost bruised; they match the purplish skin under them."

Despite my disappointment I gave I Was Here 3 Stars which is a positive rating for me, and it means that it was a solid read. Two things saved this book for me: Gayle Forman’s gorgeous writing and fantastic narration by Jorjeana Marie.

Gayle Forman writes so beautifully, that after one book I wanted more, and more, and more. My GR friend Thomas said in his review that Gayle Forman’s writing has “water-like quality”. I can’t agree more.

My thoughts about the audiobook

I went for the audio version of I Was Here because of my friend Arlene from Waves of Fiction. She went on some book event where Jorjeana Marie read chapters from this book. When Arlene told that she was blown away by her performance, I knew that I want to listen to audiobook. And I’m so glad I did it. Jorjeana Marie is very talented narrator; I’m very impressed by her performance. I definitely want to listen more of her works.

All in all I Was Here is not a bad book, but it didn’t live up to the level I was expecting from Gayle Forman. In truth I don’t know whom to recommend this book. If you haven’t read anything by this author, I recommend start with If I Stay and Where She Went. If you love Gayle Forman’s writing as much as I do, I’m sure you would read her latest book no matter what.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Mini-review: Hot Finish (Fast Track #3) by Erin McCarthy

Title: Hot Finish (Fast Track #3)
Author: Erin McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars


Desire is about to reach its peak.

Suzanne Jefferson is broke, which is why she's given up charity work for wedding planning. Fortunately, she has a high-profile client-and best of all, he's paid in advance. There are just two teensy problems: the bride is a bona fide bridezilla, and Suzanne's stock racer ex- husband is the best man. At least she though he was her ex-husband...


Hot Finish is the third book in Fast Track series, but it can be read as a standalone, though I recommend start from the beginning since Flat-Out Sexy (Fast Track #1) is my favorite book so far.1

We first met Susanne and Ryder in the first book and they were present in the second one. Erin McCarthy writes amazing second characters; I loved both Susanne and Ryder in the first two books and was looking forward to read their own story.

Susanne is an amazing heroine. She is like firework: fiery with great sense of humor, she swears, she tells what she thinks openly, she is very protective toward her loved ones. I love her! And Ryder is a great hero. He is generous, kind and protective.

They were married for several years, but something went wrong. Now they stay friends though everyone around them can see that there a lot of chemistry and unresolved feelings between these two.

This is erotica so obviously there are a lot of scorching hot scenes. Erin McCarthy definitely knows how to write smut. As always there are a lot of funny dialogues and laugh out loud moments.

If you haven’t picked up this series yet I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Title: Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley
My rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty... no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust... and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


Rites of Passages is one of those books that stayed on my to-be-read list for a long time, buried under newer releases and more hyped books. And what a shame! I loved this book! From the first page it sucked me in and didn’t let go until I closed the last page. Joy N. Hensley’s writing flows easily and has this addictive quality. I’ve read this book in two sittings which is rare for me.

I don’t think I’ll write a full review on this book. I didn’t make one single bookmark or highlighted anything, because I was so engrossed in the story. But I’ll tell you this:

  • Rites of Passage is enjoyable and addictive read.

  • Plot is interesting; there wasn’t a dull moment in this book.

  • Sam McKenna was a strong-willed likable heroine. I’m sure many readers will connect with her and relate to her.

  • Love interest is amazing! He goes on my “awesome-hero” shelf.

  • While the romance took back seat to the main story, it was absolutely swoon-worthy.

  • The book feels very authentic. The author went to a military school on a dare and her personal experience is evident throughout the book.

  • There is strong message in this book, that every girl can accomplish so much in male-dominated world.

My only complaint is the ending romance-wise. Romantic in me couldn’t be satisfied with it. That’s why I gave it 4.5 Stars.

I loved this book. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: On the Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

I can’t write a coherent review right now. Probably ever. My mind is a tangle of thoughts and emotions. Melina Marchetta, what have you done to me?

This book is so achingly sad. This sadness seeped into my heart gradually. One drop after another, and then BAM! And it was overwhelming, and I couldn’t take it anymore, and I couldn’t breathe, and I was crying , crying…

Many reviewers mentioned that at first On the Jellicoe Road was very confusing, and that they straggled with the beginning of the book. So I braced myself for this, but it never came. I was under Marchetta’s spell from the first sentence. Opening line that gripped me right away:

"My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted."

Melina Marchetta’s writing is beautiful and after I turned the last page I had a strong urge to open the book again and start from the beginning. This story has haunting quality; I can’t stop thinking about it.

And her characters, these wonderful broken characters. I loved them. Each of them has a special spot in my heart.

This book resonated with me on such deep level. There was something cathartic in reading it.

If you haven’t read On the Jellicoe Road yet, do it right now. And I dare you not to fell in love with this beautiful and heartbreaking story.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Audio Obsession #3. Favorite audiobooks

Audio Obsession is a feature where I spread my love for audiobooks around blogosphere. Here you’ll see all things audio related.

Today I want to share with you my favorite audiobooks. I also asked my blogger friends and fellow audiobook lovers to share their favorite titles.

Rachel from Reader's Den

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes narrated by: Elizabeth Bower, Ben Elliot, Nicola Stanton, and Steven France
The story is beyond amazing, and I think the narration only enhanced this beautiful story. There are four narrators all with English accents, one for each of the main characters. This is a rarity with audiobooks; most only have one narrator, so it was a treat to have one for each POV. All sounded age appropriate and just right for the character.
The Iron Druid Chronicles (the whole series) by Kevin Hearne narrated by Luke Daniels
The story is out of my comfort zone, because at first there is no romance. BUT the series is soooo good it doesn't need it. Romance junkies fear not, I did say at first. Luke Daniels nails the humor and accents and I dare you not to laugh throughout.
Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King
One of my favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite narrators. I love this series even more with every book I "read". Lorelei King is another narrator who has a gift with comedic timing. She also narrates the Charley Davidson series which is a laugh a minute!
It's very difficult to narrow down to three favorites because I have so many. The Others by Anne Bishop is also one of my favorite series. The best fantasy I've read, and narration is top notch. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. After book three we get Natalie Ross and Phil Gigante. Mac and Barrons are brought to life by these talented performers! Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews narrated by Renee Raudman. I could go on, and on and on!

Arlene from Waves of Fiction

Here are some of my favorite titles I’ve enjoyed these past few months that are worth checking out!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah narrated by Polly Stone
The Nightingale was absolutely AMAZING! Kristin Hannah is a master storyteller that knows how to weave time, people, places and events in a way that creates an adventure that is hard to let go and forget. Couple that with the amazing narration of Polly Stone, and there’s no doubt that The Nightingale will remain one of my top picks for this year.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman narrated by Jorjeana Marie
This was one of the first audiobooks I downloaded from Overdrive. I was extremely excited to dive into this one because I had the chance to meet the narrator, Jorjeana Marie, at the book signing for I Was Here. She read a caption from the book to the audience, and I was absolutely hooked!! Her narration of this story makes it even more compelling and spellbinding. I believe I finished this audiobook in just two days. Definitely one that I highly recommend!
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby narrated by Amanda Wallace
If I had to choose one final audio book to recommend, Things We Know by Heart would have to make the top three. This story was perfect for me because the narration, plot, and characters equally captured my attention and took me on an emotional roll-a-coater. Kirby’s novel has staying power with me because she knows how to tell an amazing story, and the narrator Amanda Wallace knew how to bring it to life. I really enjoyed this one!!

Breakable by Tammara Webber narrated by Zachary Webber
The narrator had a sexy voice and sounded just like Lucas
Angelfall by Susan Ee narrated by Caitlin Davies


It’s hard for me to choose, because I love audiobooks and there so many amazing ones. But if I have to narrow down to three, here they are:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Steve West, Fiona Hardingham
It was my first book by Maggie Stiefvater and it is my favorite one. I love everything about this book: original idea behind it, unique setting, amazing characters and of course beautiful writing. Narrators Steve West and Fiona Hardingham perfectly captured mood of this story and brought to life main characters Puck and Sean.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman narrator Dan Bittner
I’ve read my first book by Gayle Forman only this year and became an instant fan. Where She Went is a beautiful heartbreaking and emotional story. Adam is one of the most genuine male voices I’ve come across. This book resonated with me on such deep level. The audiobook is narrated by my favorite male narrator Dan Bittner. His performance is amazing and he added so much to the story.
Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantasy is not actually my genre since I’m a contemporary girl. I’ll choose mundane problems and feelings of imperfect people over action packed paranormal book every time. But I loved this series! The author created a fascinating world full of dangerous creatures, weaved intriguing plot with mysteries, twists and turns on every page. She added to the mix alluring and sensual romance. The result was imputable. I binge listened to the whole series last year. First three books were narrated by Joyce Bean and she did a great job. But the audio version began to really shine from the forth book when we have a dual narration by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross. Their performance of Mac and Baron is perfect.

What are you favorite audiobooks? Tell me in comments.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Audiobook review: Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Narrator: Phil Gigante
Story rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 2 of 5 Stars
An Alluring Laird

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A Prisoner in Time

She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side....

Are you a fan of Fever series by Karen Marie Moning? My advice to you: don’t compare Beyond the Highland Mist with Fever. I know, I know, it’s impossible. Oh, well… I’m a huge fun of Fever series. Before I started Beyond the Highland Mist I’ve read a lot of disappointed reviews from those readers, who wanted more Fever from the author. So I lowered my expectations, and was prepared for the worst. Or so I thought.

While reading this book I kept seeing glimpses of future Fever series (which Moning wrote seven years later). Beyond the Highland Mist reads like a draft to Fever.

I should probably tell right away that I rarely read Historical Romance; and I can count on the fingers on one hand the number of times when I picked up a Highlander Romance. It’s just not appealing to me. I prefer contemporary, but I needed a book with time-traveling for my challenge so I decided to try this book.

I can’t say that Beyond the Highland Mist is very bad. Hawk was your usual romance alpha-hero: strong, beautiful, honorable, skilled in bed and madly in love with the heroine. Adrianne however was not your usual shy virginal heroine. She was a strong-willed, outspoken and smart woman. I really liked her.

Adrienne was thrust from modern-day Seattle into medieval Scotland where she was forced to marry Hawk. While both of them went into this marriage unwillingly they felt instant attraction. I already knew that Moning can write smut. Adrianne and Hawk’s interactions were full of sexual chemistry. Moning’s writing is so deliciously sensual. But I wasn’t sold on their insta-love. Their feelings to each other progressed in such unrealistic pace

The other thing that bothered me was how easily Adrienne embraced her new life. She was so ready to leave 21 Century behind. I get that she was an orphan and didn’t have any family, but why didn’t she have any friends? With her personality I find this unbelievable. At one moment in the book she told that she didn’t want to return in future because in her time people were cruel and they killed each other. Like life in medieval Scotland was peaceful and not savage at all.

In truth I contemplated DNFing this book multiple times. The only reason I finished it was my reading challenge.

Side note: I could live without comparison of Hawk’s manhood to stallion’s one. These remarks that Hawk was hang like a stallion really grated on my nerves.

My thoughts about the audiobook

Beyond the Highland Mist is narrated by Phil Gigante who also happened to narrate Fever series. I absolutely loved his performance in Fever; I added him to my list of favorite narrators, and I actually made a shelf for him on GR. So I was really looking forward to listen to this audiobook.

But I didn’t take into consideration one thing. In Fever we had a dual narration. Natalie Ross narrated female voices while Phil Gigante narrated male voices. Beyond the Highland Mist is narrated only by Phil Gigante, so he performs male as well as female voices. And while I love his deep rich low masculine voice, I’m not impressed by his high-pitched female voices. I know it’s probably difficult for a man with a low voice to sound like a female, but it lessened my enjoyment of the audiobook.

I didn’t like Beyond the Highland Mist, but I’m not a fun of Highlander Romance and I couldn’t help myself but compare this book to the Fever series. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews, so probably it’s just me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Audiobook review: Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Story rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 5 of 5 Stars
It's been three years since the devastating accident...three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Gayle Forman writes such beautiful and heartbreaking stories. I loved this book even more than If I Stay. I fell in love with Adam. I don’t remember the last time when I was so connected with a male character. I applaud Gayle Forman for creating such a strong and genuine voice.

What this book is about? I can tell you it’s about a heartbroken rock-star. And formally it is, but Adam is so far from your stereotypical hero.

I felt so much, my heart broke for Adam, and of course I cried, and I hoped… It was a very intense reading for me. It’s amazing how the author managed to pack into a short book such enormous emotional punch. It almost knocked me down.

My thoughts about the audiobook

I loved the audiobook, and I’m totally biased. You see, Dan Bittner is my favorite male narrator, and I would love anything, narrated by him. I have a huge crush on his voice. So, yes, I highly recommend the audiobook.

Where She Went is a beautifully-written emotional story and Adam is amazing character. If you haven’t read this duology yet, please, do it now.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Audiobook review: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Story rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 5 of 5 Stars


If I Stay by Gayle Forman was on my to-be-read shelf for a long-long time. Many of my friends have read and highly praised it. I don’t have a good reason why I haven’t picked it up sooner. I guess it just stayed buried under new releases. Then the movie was released, and everyone was talking about this book again. And again I stayed away. It looks like I just needed a good push to finally read it. For me such a push was a reading challenge. So I’ve finally read it. Now I’m mad at myself for waiting so long, because I loved this book. It ended up on “my-true-book-love” shelf, and I don’t give up a spot there easily.

This story is unique. What genre is it? Probably contemporary with a touch of paranormal. Such books often don’t work or me. I prefer my stories to be solid contemporaries without any paranormal distractions or paranormal novels with werewolves, vampires and other creatures. But everything worked wonderfully in this case.

Mia and her family got into a car crush. Then something strange happened, she didn’t die, she became a ghost. This book consists of Mia’s present, her memories about her parents, friends and her boyfriend Adam.

Before I started If I Stay I worried about its size. It is rather short book. It’s not an easy task to make well-developed characters, interesting plot and genuine emotions in a short format. I shouldn’t have been worried. Gayle Forman managed it all. If I Stay is so emotionally charged; I’m in awe with author’s talent. It was like I was there with Mia. I felt her confusion, her grieve, her hopes and her despair.

Gayle Forman’s writing is beautiful. Not too flourish, but easy-flowing, lyrical and emotional. I want more and more and more of her words. She takes mundane moments and transforms them into something emotionally charged and moving.

And the romance. This Romance… I loved Mia and Adam together. They are both musicians and it added something special. Music is a big part of this book. It helps us to understand characters better. Since both Adam and Mia are musicians, it’s easier for them to express themselves through music. They met thanks to music, it stayed with them, and at the end (the most crucial scene in the book) it was also music.

I planned to watch a movie, but now I’m not sure about it. I loved the book so much; I don’t think the movie can reach this level of emotions for me.

My thoughts about the audiobook

This audiobook is narrated by Kirsten Potter, and she is one of my favorite narrators. She brings so much to the story. I’m not sure she is the best choice for this particular audiobook, though. Mia is seventeen, Kirsten Potter just doesn’t sound like a 17 years old girl; her voice is older and more mature. But despite this I still recommend the audiobook, because her performance is amazing. She perfectly captured Mia’s emotions and really brought this character to life.

If I Stay is a beautiful emotional and unique story about choices, about family and friendship and love. I highly recommend it.