I have been listening to audiobooks a while now and I have even ventured into listening to some before reading them first. The difference for me is that reading them and then listening to them brings a different dimension to the story, hearing another persons voice, sometimes different accents, inflections and attitudes. So far these have been positive. The books I listen to without reading first have been great too, but I notice I replay sections more to catch things I missed.
I am reviewing four audiobooks today. Three I have read before. They are all very different and range from humorous contemporary romance, a fun shifter tale, Urban fantasy and a contemporary romantic suspense.
Author: Renae Kaye
Narrator: Dave Gillies
Publishing date: December 14, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
One thing Liam Turner knows for sure is that he’s not gay – after all, his father makes it very clear he’ll allow no son of his to be gay. And Liam believes it, until a chance meeting with James “Jay” Bell turns Liam’s world upside-down. Jay is vivacious and unabashedly gay – from the tips of his bleached hair to the ends of his polished nails. With a flair for fashion, overreaction, and an inability to cork his verbal diarrhea, drama queen Jay must have a screw loose.
An accident as a teenager left Liam with a limp and a fear of driving. He can’t play football anymore either, and that makes him feel like less of a man. But that’s no reason to question his sexuality… unless the accident broke something else inside him. When being with Jay causes Liam’s protective instincts to emerge, Liam starts to believe all he’s known in life has been a convenient lie. From intolerance to confrontations, Liam must learn to overcome his fears – and his father – before he can accept his sexuality and truly love Jay.
I listened to Loving Jay without reading it first. I have mixed success with this but Dave Gillies did a superb job. His Australian accent made the story that much better.
(I have heard from other listeners that not all of her books have a narrator that is Australian or has the accent at least. Renae Kaye is from Australia and her stories are set there. I cannot imagine listening to this without the Australian accent. It would just seem wrong)
Loving Jay is a sweet, tender romance with some great humor too. Jay is flamboyant and a bit high-strung where as Liam is calm and a pretty down to earth kind of guy. Throughout the book you see how they complement one another and it is beautiful.
I loved the family and friends almost as much as the main characters because they are such an important part of Liam and Jay’s lives.
This is one of those books that I will happily listen to again. Lighthearted and feel good, it will have you laughing out loud and possibly shedding a few tears at times too.(the happy kind – but I am kind of sappy about a sweet romance – shrug)
Author: Eli Easton
Narrator: Matthew Shaw
Publishing date: March 12, 2015
Publisher: Pinkerton Road
Length: 5 hours and 52 minutes
Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of “quickened” – dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.
Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.
Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.
I saw a couple of reviews for this book and being a fan of Eli Easton’s writing, I decided to give it a try. You would think being a fan would be reason enough (I have loved everything I have read from her so far) My issue was shifters, not my favorite sub-genre, but this was dogs. I love dogs and I thought it would be fun. It was!
I enjoyed the way the author took a dog breeds characteristics and mixed them into the personalities of the Quickened (Those that are shifters) There is also a twist to the ability to become a shifter that I thought was nicely original. It was also the source of some of the more somber moments in the book. Overall, the story is humorous and playful. Tim is a sweet, damaged man who although cautious, is optimistic, hopeful and easy to like. His shyness and love of gardening are endearing. Sheriff Beaufort was less loveable in the beginning, all business and protective of his town, his pack. When Lance allows his inner dog (a gorgeous Border Collie) to come out, we gradually get to see another side of the Sheriff, and I liked him. The romance is sweet and gradual and does not follow the usual shifter mythology. The Sheriff’s mother was a bit over the top as the meddling mom with good intentions. There are some rough spots in the relationship, thanks to mom and some misunderstandings but it was not overdone and I thought it helped show Tim’s inner strength. There are some interesting secondary characters, Daisy – a retriever shifter, Gus, a bulldog shifter, Fred Beagle who I assumed is a Beagle shifter and Roman, a German Shepard shifter. Of the secondary characters, Roman was my favorite and I hope to see his book soon.
Audiobook: Matthew Shaw does an outstanding job of bringing these characters to life. He captures the Sheriff and his protective Border Collie personality perfectly. This is a lovely book and Mr. Shaw’s narration is a welcome addition to the experience. Narration:
You can purchase it here:
Author: Rhys Ford
Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Publishing Date: May 11, 2015
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 8 hours and 50 minutes
Blurb: Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.
It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.
But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.
No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.
(ebook – first edition)
I admit that I am a big fan of Rhys Ford. I love both her Cole McGinnis and Sinner’s Gin series. When I read that she was taking a step into Urban fantasy I was excited.
I like the futuristic setting. It is dark and gritty and there is a definite unbalance between the haves and the have nots. There are scenes that remind me of Blade Runner with its mish-mash of cultures and languages. This is definitely not an easy world to live in.
Kai is an elfin Stalker. This is unusual because of the conflict between humans and elfin kind. Most humans either shun them or want to be them. Kai does not see himself as elfin and from what we find out about how he has been treated – he has good reason to stay away from all sidhe – light or dark. Kai was basically raised by Dempsey, a salty old Stalker that won Kai in a card game. Dempsey taught Kai to be a Stalker and gave him a chance at a normal life, well as normal as one can have in Kai’s situation.
Kai is good at what he does and has friends among the Stalkers. He contracts with the SoCalGov for jobs and sometimes you are assigned jobs that you just can’t say no to. This is where Ryder enters the picture, a sidhe lord that is starting a new court in San Diego. He specifically asks that Kai be assigned the job. It is supposed to be an easy job but we know these things never work that way and thus begins the adventure.
The description of the landscape, creatures, people and events are vivid, graphically so at times. I do have questions about how the world evolved to where it is now and what the war between the humans and elfin kind was like. Kai is a very likable character. He is a survivor but damaged. Ryder as a sidhe lord is harder to get a feel for. I understand the reasons he wants to establish his own court and I understand the attraction between him and Kai.
Some may have certain expectations for the romantic interest in Ms Ford’s story. I thought the nature of Kai’s bi-sexuality was presented in a manner that gave us some insight without it being the focus of the story or who Kai is. Being urban fantasy rather than romance, we do not have the same type of romance we find in Ms Fords other books. There is a lot of sexual innuendo and tension and potential for something to develop further in the series. I am ok with this. I really liked Kai’s neighbor and friend Dalia and the stalker Cari.
I enjoyed this book very much and I am looking forward to seeing where we go in the future.
Audiobook: I first read Black Dog Blues when Rhys Ford released it as self pub. When she re-released it through Dreamspinner Press I bought the book and then decided to listen to it instead of re-reading it. I was already familiar with the narrator, Greg Tremblay, from Ms Fords Cole McGinnis Series. (He does an awesome job on that series) He also does a fantastic job voicing Kai and the other characters in this book. The setting is dark and gritty, action packed and filled with things that would as soon kill you as look at you. Mr Tremblay captures the atmosphere and I was on the edge of my seat during some of those intense moments. He also captured the pain and longing in Kai. This is what I love about reading a book then listening to it. The narrator can really take it to the next level. Narration:
You can purchase it here:
Author: RJ Scott
Narrator: Sean Crisden
Publishing Date: April 20, 2015
Publisher: Love Lane Books Limited
Length: 3 hours and 32 minutes
Blurb: Morgan Drake is the only witness to a murder in an alleyway. Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation offering witness protection to anyone whose safety is compromised. Morgan discovers a bodyguard’s arms can offer more than protection.
Morgan Drake witnesses a murder in an alleyway. He is the only person who can give evidence in prosecuting the cop responsible for the crime. When the FBI safe house where he’s being held is compromised, he follows the instructions of the agent in charge and runs.
Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation that offers witness protection when FBI security is questionable.
When Morgan’s handler sends him to Nik for safety, neither Morgan nor Nik could imagine that two weeks alone in a cabin in the woods would have their hearts racing with something much more than merely trying to keep Morgan alive.
Guarding Morgan is an enjoyable, mystery/suspense romance. Despite it centering around a character that is in witness protection because he witnessed a brutal murder, the story is not heavy. Morgan is the witness. A young man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Morgan’s safety is compromised, Morgan’s FBI bodyguard sends him to find Nik, the agents ex partner, who now works for a group called Sanctuary. Sanctuary is set up to protect people when the FBI or other law enforcement agencies are compromised.
Morgan’s character is sweet and nerdy while Nik is tough and serious (but apparently a softy for Morgan) The build up of the relationship is nice and the ending left us with a mystery to resolve with out it being a cliff hanger. It is definitely romance and I enjoyed the element of mystery and suspense.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, the writing style and liked the characters. I definitely plan on continuing with the series.
Narration: Sean Crisden is definitely in the top-tier of my favorite narrators. I have yet to find a book that he has narrated that I have not liked. ;-) He brings his magic to Guarding Morgan and does a wonderful job.
You can purchase it here: