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review 2017-11-20 23:12
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Audiobook)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Can a pond be an ocean?

 

This isn't the best that Gaiman's ever written, but it's still filled with his delightful prose and vivid imagination. The boy who is the POV character is more of a witness to the events around him, even while he's the unwitting reason for many of them. Leti, her mom and grandmother are as mysterious as they are fascinating. Since the boy isn't really given many answers, a lot goes unresolved or hinted at, but it's the adventure that this boy goes through that matters. 

 

Neil Gaiman narrated this and I could honestly listen to him read the telephone book, so full marks for the narration.

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review 2017-11-20 17:30
Every Story Was Monstrous Fun
The Monster Hunter Files - Larry Correia,Jim Butcher,Faith Hunter,Jonathan Maberry,Oliver Wyman,Khristine Hvam,Bailey Carr,Audible Studios
Fabulous audiobook, filled with excellent short stories perfect for travel, walking, sitting or just ignoring the people around you. The narration was very well done. I think this is the first anthology where I enjoyed all the stories and authors.
Two of my favorite authors were included in this monster hunter collection of short stories, Jim Butcher, and Faith Hunter. Both write fabulous characters and truly wicked monsters, so I was thrilled when I won a copy of this. Yes, both knocked it out of the park with their tales. Really I had no doubts they wouldn't. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed each of the other authors previously unknown to me. I think the last story was my favorite new to me author story, it was about a Golem, I love Golems.
I plan on reading each of the other authors from this collection.

 

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review 2017-11-20 13:13
#Audiobook Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Stay - Audible Studios,Elle Kennedy,Sarina Bowen,Jacob Morgan,Lucy Rivers

Hailey Taylor Emery co-owns a thriving startup “go-for” company with her ex. Hailey is a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and is a bit flustered to discover her long-time celebrity crush, Toronto forward Matt Erikkson, is one of her clients. She is even more discombobulated when he refers to her as “hottie” and invites her to a game. 

 

Over 18 months ago, Matt’s wife insisted on a divorce, and he’s still feeling the impacts. His ex convinced him that being a professional hockey player and having a long-term relationship can never work. However, after meeting Hailey, Matt is considering putting his heart out there again.

 

I absolutely adore the Him/WAGs world that Ms. Bowen and Ms. Kennedy have developed over the course of three books. This is the first story that wanders away from the “original” characters and family, and the authors do a great job transitioning the focus to Wes and Blake’s teammates. Overall, I enjoyed Stay, and found Matt and Hailey to be an adorable and sexy couple. With that said, I also had a few hiccups with the story and Hailey, which made it not quite as amazing as the previous three books.

 

As I mentioned, I enjoyed Matt and Hailey together. Their playful banter, especially as translated through texting and messenger apps, is fun, and it allows the couple to get to know one another in a safe place. And once they become a couple, I loved watching them grow, especially Matt. I also love the WAGs supporting characters, who add dimension to the story. And there are some fabulously hilarious moments… just think “junk selfie in a public restroom”!  I do really like it when it’s just the two of them getting to know each other, spending time together and with the team. 

 

However, I did struggle a bit with the first half of the book. First because I didn’t care that much for the female narrator (discussion below). Second, I couldn’t get 100% behind Hailey. She’s unsure and uncertain, and it made it difficult for me to cheer for her. Third, the ex situation on both sides adds too much tension, making parts of the story very combative. Finally, I had a big issue with a conflict that came up regarding client confidentiality. It is a serious thing, and I felt Hailey, the OWNER of the business, took it way too lightly!

 

As far as the narration, Ms. Rivers excels when portraying Hailey, although it was a tab bit slow at 1.25x. And her female characters are good, but sometimes they felt forced - in that she was working too hard to create different voices from the norm. However, her male voices sound just like a goofy teenage character from a cartoon show I used to watch, and that is all I heard every time she performed any male character, to include the lead. That took me out of the story too often. On the other hand, the male narrator is the same who voiced Wes in both Him and Us. While it was a bit confusing at first (because I kept thinking it was Wes speaking), once the story progressed, it worked well. I really like Mr. Morgan’s voice, and felt he does a great job with a multitude of characters. He also brings solid emotion to Matt, who is struggling to figure out his life.

 

In the end, I’m giving Stay a B rating, whereas normally a book that has a few issues would get a B-. I liked Matt and Hailey together, especially for the second half, after she got over her nervousness and committed to the relationship. The couple clicked, creating a strong romance and finish to the book. I just adore this world, and hope the authors give us more stories soon!

 

My Rating: B

Male narrator: B+

Female narrator: C

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review 2017-11-20 13:12
#Audiobook Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Good Boy - Teddy Hamilton,Elle Kennedy,Sarina Bowen,Tanya Eby

Jess Canning is struggling to find her path in life. Planning and hosting her brother Jamie’s wedding to NHL superstar, Ryan Wesley, helped her realize party planning isn’t the job for her. After determining that her life’s calling is to be a nurse, Jess is relieved to earn a scholarship to the Smith Nursing school in Toronto.

 

After hooking up with his best friend’s little sister not once, but twice, Blake Riley realizes for the first time in five years, he wants more with a woman than a one-night stand. He’s into Jess, so when she moves to Toronto, he makes it his mission to woo her into being his girlfriend.

 

Good Boy is the wonderful followup to the amazing two-book Him series. I love that the authors did this spinoff starting with Blake and Jess - especially with Wes and Jamie’s wedding kicking off the title. The wedding helps transition nicely from the Jamie-and-Wes centric stories, to focus on Wes’s teammates. I love that they the pair is still a significant part of the book, but as the story unfolds, the focus is truly on Jess and Blake. 

 

I already liked Blake from the previous book, but after Good Boy, I’ve fallen hard. He’s got such a heart of gold, but he’s cocky and playful. He pushes, but knows when to back off. He makes me laugh. He’s the kind of character you want as your own best friend. Whether hanging with his teammates, romancing Jess, or skating on the ice, Blake is always true to himself and those around him.

 

Jess and Blake make a great pair. They start off as “frienemies” with their chiweiler hookup (a hilarious scene from Us), and I was worried I would be annoyed with Jess. She wants Blake, but is horrified by that, so she is a bit rude to him. But he takes it all in stride, confident she likes him, and wears her down. He knows just how to be there for her when she needs it. I really like how the story is all about them coming together - getting over their own hurdles. It’s gradual and real, rather than all at once. Love sneaks up on them. 

 

Teddy Hamilton and Tanya Eby are two narrators I’ve enjoyed listening to recently. Mr. Hamilton voiced the part of Jamie in the previous two books, and I recently listened to another contemporary romance by Ms. Bowen, that was also narrated by Ms. Eby. Because I had heard both narrators play other parts just before listening to Good Boy, I kept thinking of the other characters while listening to this one. While it gave some familiarity to the tale, it was also a little confusing for me. However, they are both strong, talented performers, creating fitting voices for the two main characters. My only issue with Ms. Eby is that I didn’t care for her versions of Jamie and Wes because I’m so used to the other narrators’s versions. And while I liked her Blake, I did have trouble at times distinguishing between her male voices. 

 

Although the WAGs series, starting with Good Boy, is a spinoff of one of my favorite series, you do not have to read Him or Us prior to starting this one. Blake and Jess are a fabulous couple and the book is a lot of fun. I am so glad the authors continued what they started in Him and opened it up to this larger world.

 

My Rating: A-

Narration (both): B+

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review 2017-11-20 13:10
#Audiobook Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock) - Faith Hunter,Khristine Hvam

Jane Yellowrock is a vampire hunter; a very good vampire hunter. She’s been hired by the vampire council of New Orleans to find and exterminate the rogue vampire plaguing the city. While the civilized vampires may realize she’s not human, they don’t know she’s a Cherokee skinwalker, a secret only a handful know, and something Jane has little understanding. But what makes Jane the best in her profession is Beast, the wildcat soul that lives within Jane.

 

I’ve FINALLY started the Jane Yellowrock series, something that has been on my TBR for years! Overall I enjoyed my first foray into Jane’s world. The author creates a fascinating world, giving readers/listeners some important clues to Jane’s past and true form, but leaving so much wide open. The plot of Skinwalker is exciting; however, it is Jane’s story that is utterly engrossing, and I wanted to jump into the second book as soon as I was done with the first. I love how Ms. Hunter gives just enough about Jane to satisfy my need for information and doesn’t leave everything mysterious and ambiguous.

 

I like Jane. It took a little bit for me to warm up to her, but in the end, I liked her no-nonsense attitude. I like how she pushes boundaries, but can be respectful. I am not as fond of Beast; she is a bit scary, but I think I’ll end up liking her. Beast is a separate character, and I appreciate how the author gives Beast her own speech patterns and way of thinking. It’s written (and therefore narrated) as different from Jane. I like that Jane is remorseful over what happened to Beast. I like that Beast recognizes together, Beast and Jane are better and stronger than as separate components. But Beast has her own moral compass, and while it’s not warped, it is that of a creature and different from that of Jane, the person.

 

Skinwalker’s story is a standalone mystery of who/what is the rogue and how to capture and end it. The author uses this plot to introduce readers to a large cast of characters and build Jane’s world. Since Jane is new to New Orleans, the reader learns along side of her. It’s a very effective method of world building. The entertaining and action-packed story is solid on its own, but the world is fascinating. It will be interesting to see how the vast array of characters plays out over the next few books. Some I like more than others. I didn’t like the Joe, but after a big reveal, maybe I’ll like him more? Leo…. he’s going to be her nemesis for a while. Bruiser… maybe? The Cherokee? So undecided on them all. But they are all very interesting.

 

The narration is performed by Khristine Hvam, my first time listening to her work. I like Jane’s voice a lot. Ms. Hvam gets into her character and exudes Jane’s attitude. She also does a great job changing it up for Beast. I feel her Cajun accents are a bit overplayed, and male voices aren’t very masculine. For example, Rick (the Joe) is supposed to be a player: smooth and masculine. But the voice the narrator uses sounds goofy and feminine. Additionally, I had trouble distinguishing several of her male characters.

 

In the end, I enjoyed Skinwalker and the start to the Jane Yellowrock series. The story has lots of action, unique and interesting characters, and leaves the door open for conflict and adventure ahead. I look forward to more.

 

My Rating: B+

Narration: B

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