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.