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review 2016-10-05 09:00
Audio Review: Merrick's Maiden by S.E. Smith (@sesmithfl)


Series: Cosmos' Gateway, #5
Publisher: Susan E. Smith
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Published: April 14, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins

I'm going to be honest here and admit that I never read the descriptive blurb. I just saw the next book in the Cosmos' Gateway series and put in my request. An earlier book in the series is when Merrick gets captured, and we even find out that he gets away, but his story wasn't even hinted out. Since he has been a secondary character since the first book, I was eager to get his story. 

It was after I started listening to this book that I realized that our heroine was deaf. And it hit me that I don't think I have ever read about where one of our lead characters was deaf. The author did a great job making sure that the character stayed true to the limitation the disability would cause. 

The narrator did a good job with the emotions of the characters. The men still sound a bit stiff, but overall it was a decent listen.

If you like some sci fi mixed with your romance, this series just might be for you.

Audiobook Jukebox provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Merrick Ta'Duran is the powerful leader of the Eastern Mountain Clan on the Prime world of Baade. His people, known as the Ghosts of the Forests, live high in the Eastern Mountains. Merrick feels the weight of responsibility as the males within his clan become desperate to find mates among the few remaining females. When word comes that a new species has been discovered, he knows he must do what is right for his people, even if it means traveling to a strange, alien realm to do it.

Merrick's world changes when he is injured and captured by a ruthless group of humans. Drugged and held against his will, he is the subject of experiments and testing as the humans try to discover where he came from and to duplicate his strength and ability to heal quickly. After months of captivity, he fears his life will end on the strange world--until one chance encounter gives him hope.

Addie Banks' life has been one of silence since a devastating illness when she was sixteen. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she goes to school during the day and works at night to put herself through college. Her life unexpectedly changes when she stumbles across something she wasn't supposed to see while at work. Now, she hears a voice in her head, and it is driving her crazy. Her only hope for peace is to help the creature talking to her to escape from the men holding him.

Merrick knows the female who helps him is his bond mate. She may deny it. She may fight it. She may even try to run from it, but it won't matter. She is his, and he will do everything he can to convince her: hold her or even kidnap her if that is what it takes to make her realize that they belong together.

Will Addie hear the love and longing in Merrick's voice? Can she trust and accept the new life he has to offer? Or will a ruthless killer silence him before she gets a chance?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28390043-merrick-s-maiden  http://amzn.to/2bEDLvq http://goo.gl/wNNKWr http://goo.gl/2yglfp http://goo.gl/V4G6qU
Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/10/audio-review-merricks-maiden-se-smith.html
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review 2016-07-02 09:00
Audio Reviews: Tansy's Titan & Cosmos' Promise by S.E. Smith (@sesmithfl)

Series: Cosmos' Gateway, #3
Publisher: Susan E. Smith
Published: February 23, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman

From the first two books, Tansy was the Bell sister I was most interested in reading about. Her sisters, Tink and Hannah, had made her out to be this female James Bondian style character, out doing super secret, save the world type things. It's a toss up whether this is her book or Mak's. By the time we are at the beginning of this book, we have actually gotten to know Mak a little bit, but only know Tansy through her sister's descriptions.

I liked that Mak respected her strength and skill very quickly. He was much less the Alpha-hole his brother was in book 1. For all his super scary tough macho guy facade, he was much more in touch with the female mind.  I think it had to do with his relationships with his mother and sister to be honest. There was a lot of action and suspense going on as Mak and Tansy are playing cat and mouse with some really evil bad guys. There was still some over the top, ultra convenient moments that happened occasionally, but the story also has some strong fantasy elements, and I decided to suspend believe and just go with it. Overall, the action was well plotted and flowed really well.  You can definitely see the progression of the author's writing skills from book 1.

I am glad that I have stuck with this series; it just keeps getting better and better. I gave this book 4 stars.

Audiobook Jukebox and Blackstone Audio provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

From a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of science fiction and paranormal romance comes another story full of action, adventure, and suspense to transport listeners out of this world. Tansy, the middle daughter of the three Bell sisters, has always been a little different, even for a Bell. Like a chameleon, she can change her appearance and personality to blend in almost anywhere, and she uses this talent to bring to justice some of the worst criminals in the world.

Mak 'Tag Krell Manok is the wild one of his four brothers. He is known for his huge size, hot temper, fierce strength, and skills as a warrior. Few men in any galaxy dare to challenge him and live. Frustrated by his failure to find females compatible with a Prime male, he returns to his home world only to discover his oldest brother has found his bond mate in an unusual species known as a human. What is even more astonishing is Mak's reaction to an image of the sister of his brother's bond mate.

Mak has set a new course for Earth and for Tansy, the female who stirs his blood to fire. But first he has to find her. Next he has to convince her she belongs to him. And if all else fails, he will just take her. After all, she is delicate and fragile - no match for a Prime warrior. What Mak doesn't expect is to find her in trouble and fighting for her life. Now he must save her before it is too late. But even then there is no guarantee that she will come with him, for this small, fragile female has the strength and determination of 20 Prime males and values her independence.

Mak is about to learn that big trouble can come in very small packages and that there is one person in the universe not afraid to stand up to him - even if she is afraid to love him. Can he keep her alive long enough to realize she is the perfect mate for an untamed warrior, or will the men determined to kill her take not only her life but his as well?



Series: Cosmos' Gateway, #4
Publisher: Susan E. Smith
Published: February 23, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman

After my enjoyment of the last book, Tansy's Titan, I was really looking forward to see what would happen with Cosmos.  The last book had strongly hinted at Cosmos and Terra being bond mates, so I was eager to see what/how it would happen.

As Terra is a female from Baade, I was a little bit surprised at how fiesty she was. After all, she is from a male dominated society that has so few females, they are looking outside their own species for mates. Of course, she also had an older brother who taught her to defend herself, so that helped to strengthen her spine.

Cosmos on the other hand, was a bit of a shock. We had only really seen him through the eyes of the Bell females. They saw him as a tech geek who had some dough due to his inventions. But once we get into the story we actually find out he is more a cross between Batman and Iron Man, with his money, his gadgets and his fighting abilities...  What's the male version of the Mary Sue?  Okay, so he wasn't, but there were moments I as just like, "of course he did. *sigh*"

Overall this was a pretty good book.  It gave us more insight into the world of Baade, and moved the story arc ahead. I just wish Cosmos hadn't been so damn perfect. He really needed a few more flaws to make him a more rounded character. I gave this book 3 stars.

Audiobook Jukebox and Blackstone Audio provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


New York Times and USA Today best-selling author S. E. Smith brings another action-, adventure-, and suspense-filled story to transport listeners out of this world.

Cosmos Raines is considered one of the most brilliant inventors in the world. A prodigy, he is a self-made billionaire who would rather be in his lab than jet-setting around the world. Things change when his latest experiment literally opens a gateway into a whole new world. Now not only has his best friend and her family moved to a new star system through the gateway he has opened but he finds himself with a warehouse full of alien guests, including one very aggravating female who has turned him inside out.

Terra 'Tag Krell Manok has spent her life in the shadows of her three older brothers. Her home world of Baade is a male-dominated world where females are few in number and protected to the point of captivity. Terra's father is the high chancellor of the Prime and considered the fiercest warrior of their world, next to her brothers. No one defies him and lives. Terra is surprised when her father suddenly sends her through the gateway into hiding to protect her from a clan insisting that she be mated for political purposes. The last thing she expects to find there is her bond mate - in the form of a human male.

Cosmos may not have been expecting to find the woman of his dreams on the other side of the gateway he built, but he knows one thing for sure: No one is going to take her away from him - not the clan who wants to use her nor her father, who thinks all human males are worthless. When she is taken from him, he will use every bit of his intelligence and ingenuity to not only track her down but steal her back. He will prove that a human male can be just as much a warrior as a Prime one, especially when it involves the woman he loves.

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/audio-reviews-tansys-titan-cosmos-promise-se-smith.html
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review 2016-02-21 09:00
Audio Reviews: Tink's Neverland & Hannah's Warrior by S.E. Smith (@sesmithfl)


Tink's Neverland


Cosmos' Gateway, #1


S.E. Smith

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Susan E. Smith
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Date of Publication: December 15, 2015
Abridged or Unabridged: Unabridged
Length of Production: 7 hrs and 41 mins

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN    Audible    Downpour
Jasmine “Tinker” Bell has always had a love for life, looking forward to any new adventure that happens to come along. When a friend’s experiment creates a portal to another world she finds herself swept into a faraway galaxy she thought only existed in the movies.

J’kar ‘Tag Krell Manok had given up hope of ever finding his bond mate. He is surprised when a pint-size female unlike anything he has ever seen suddenly appears on his spaceship to save the life of his brother during an attack. When she is suddenly taken from him he will do anything to get her back and claim her.

Two different worlds collide when Tink, a mechanic in a small college town, meets J’kar, a Prime warrior from a far off galaxy. When Tink’s life is in danger, only J’kar can save her. Now Tink has to decide if she is willing to give up everything she has ever known and loved to stay with the alien she has fallen in love with.

Will their worlds survive the collision or will they be torn apart?

I am always on the look out for new authors and interesting story lines. This one caught my eye with the reference to Peter Pan. I have always had a bit of a fascination with the idea of a cross galaxy love affair. Blame my young expose to the wonders of Star Trek/Next Generation/Voyager and books like Johanna Lindsey's Warrior Trilogy and Lori Foster's My Man, Michael. When I saw that it was a series, I knew I wanted to check it out.

To start with, the narration was pretty good. There were times, especially when reading as males, that the narrator had a more stilted tone, really over emphasizing the words. It worked when it was the aliens, showing how different they were. But she also tended to do this for the earth men, so it defeated the earlier purpose of making them stand out and appear strange. Overall she did a good job, and to be honest, I'm glad that she had to stumble over some of the alien names and titles instead of me.

Tink was a fiesty character, and though J'Kar had some serious Alpha-hole tendencies, he proved redeemable. However, the characters weren't very three dimensional; Tink was very nearly a Mary Sue. I also had some issues with the smexy times. The wordage was awkward and I kept ending up torn between laughing and cringing at the language used during Tink and J'Kar's love making sessions. It just didn't flow and felt very forced.

On the plus side, I quite enjoyed the concept of the book. The bones of the story are not just good, they are great: the set up for further books was clearly marked, there was plenty of angles left to explore in future novels and their was enough science to be able to suspend belief. For a first novel in a series by a self-published author, it wasn't horrible; I've read worse. I know that sounds like damning with faint praise, but it's also truthful. I gave this book 2 stars, for being just okay.

Thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and the author for the opportunity to listen and review the book.


Hannah's Warrior


Cosmos' Gateway, #2
S.E. Smith

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Susan E. Smith
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Date of Publication: December 14, 2015
Abridged or Unabridged: Unabridged
Length of Production: 7 hrs and 3 mins

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN    Audible    Downpour
Hannah Bell, the oldest of the three Bell sisters, spends most of her time in the remotest parts of the world photographing endangered animals. She is also gifted with an extraordinary sixth sense which has saved her life on more than one occasion. When she senses something has happen to her littlest sister, Tink, she will do whatever it takes to protect her. What she doesn’t know is her sister’s best friend Cosmos' new science experiment has opened a portal to another world. A world she is about to be taken to whether she wants to go or not.

Borj ‘Tag Krell Manok is the calmest of his four brothers, or so he always thought. The second oldest, he has been assigned the task by his father and the counsel to bring the sister of his brother's bond mate to their world. Borj knows deep down that Hannah is destined to be his bond mate, something he has hoped for since his first mating rite ceremony. What he doesn't expect when he meets her is her resistance or her independence.

When she is kidnapped by a rival clan, Borj will do anything to get her back. Hannah and Borj's escape into the vast forests of Prime draw them together in a fight not only for their lives but for a deeper understanding and trust between two vastly different worlds. Borj discovers Hannah is a fierce and cunning mate while Hannah discovers Borj is the perfect warrior to protect and love her.

If I hadn't already requested this book along side the first one, I probably wouldn't have listened to this book. As it was, I debated on whether to DNF the series at book 1. Thankfully I gave book 2 a chance.

One of the problems that I had with the narrator during the first book continued in this one. The narrator tended to over enunciate for the male characters. It gave them a very stiff, stilted feel. While I could understand some of the older politic males speaking thus, it was done for all of them. Even the younger males. Additionally, there was mention of an IA having a voice modeled after the Bell sister's mother. At first the narrator used a slightly different accent and tonal spacing to differentiate between the two, but she couldn't keep it consistent throughout and it sounded sloppy.

I was pleased to see that some of the problems that I had with the first book's writing had been corrected in this book. The smexy times flowed better, and seemed much less forced. Also, Hannah was a more well rounded character than Tink, as was her mate.

Future books continued to be foreshadowed, if a bit too heavy handed for a second book. We had an initial set up, now let each play out on it's own. There was more detailed action scenes and a bit more suspense to be found in this book, and it was nicely done. I did enjoy that there was some exploration of this new world the Bell sister's find themselves on. Even if the wrap up felt a bit rushed.

It was very clear, that this was a more put together book than the first one. The story line was tighter, the editing was more on point and it just had a better overall flow. I'm glad that I gave this one a chance and am interested to see where book 3 will take me. I gave this book 3 stars.

Thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and the author for the opportunity to listen and review the book.



Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/02/audio-reviews-tinks-neverland-hannahs-warrior-se-smith.html
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review 2016-01-24 09:00
Audio Review: Yappy Hour by Diana Orgain (@dianaorgain)


Yappy Hour


Roundup Crew Mystery, #1


Diana Orgain

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Caroline Shaffer
Date of Publication: November 3, 2015
Abridged or Unabridged: Unabridged
Length of Production: 8 hrs 21 mins


Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     Audible    Downpour
A rollicking start to a new cozy series featuring a loveable heroine and a colorful band of dog lovers who gather regularly with their pets at their local watering hole

With side-splitting humor, an irresistable cast of characters--both human and canine--and an intimate small town setting, Yappy Hour is sure to delight fans of Rita Mae Brown and Diane Kelly. Every Friday night in the idyllic seaside town of Pacific Cove, CA, the Roundup Crew, a group of dog-loving friends, meet at a neighborhood wine bar for Yappy Hour. When Rachel, the owner, mysteriously leaves town and asks her sister, Maggie (who is neither pet friendly nor business savvy), to run the bar in her absence, things get complicated fast. Maggie arrives to open up and finds a body sprawled on the floor, and even worse, an incriminating letter with Rachel’s name on it nearby. On impulse, she hides the letter from the hunky detective, Officer Brad Brooks, who’s dispatched to the scene.

When Rachel is declared the top suspect by the police, Maggie decides to investigate on her own. She reopens the bar and gets to know the members of the Roundup Crew, including chief organizer Yolanda, who never goes anywhere without her signature strappy stilettos or her Chihuahua Beepo. Maggie juggles searching for clues, trying to locate Rachel, and serving up Doggie Daiquiris, Muttguaritas and homemade Arf D’Oeuvres—until another body turns up. The Roundup Crew must step in and save the bar, and it seems the only way to do that will be to solve the mystery and turn Maggie into a dog-lover in this charming, light-hearted cozy.

This was my third Caroline Shaffer listen, though with a new series. Caroline remained a fantastic narrator, really nailing the male voices and making sure that every voice was distinct and recognizable. I don't think I would have enjoyed this series nearly as much without her as the narrator. With Caroline in the narrator role, I would check out another new to me author.

The story had good points, but the bad points overshadowed the good. The set-up for this book was smart and the clues to the killer were well placed right to the very end.  I was convinced it was someone else due to my interpretation of the clues.  Unfortunately, this may be why my mind wandered a bit while listening to the story.  In-between listening, I didn't have that must-read urge to pick it back up.

Part of this may have been because I had a hard time connecting with Maggie. There was a push for Maggie to have a love interest that felt very forced. Don't even get me started on the lame love triangle. *Blergh* They really just don't do it for me. Another problem I had with the story, was if Maggie visited so much with her uncle as a child, where were her childhood friends? The only people she seemed to know were her uncle and her sister, and the sister was missing for more than 3/4 of the book. Though her Uncle definitely fell on the plus side of the story, being such an interesting character. The story dragged in several places while explanations and info dumps occurred.

Overall, for me, this was a disappointing read. I saw a lot of potential, and there was a great narrator. The execution just fell flat. I think if the author had maybe concentrated on what Maggie was supposed to be so good at, ie the finances, and not strayed into food (multiple long explanations of meals) and drinks and art and romance and clothes, that the story could have been more focused. It almost felt like the author was trying to cram as many themes as she could into the story. Pick one or two and leave it at that. In short, too many themes spoiled the book. I gave this two disappointed stars.

Thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to listen and review the book.



Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/01/audio-review-yappy-hour-diana-orgain.html
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review 2015-10-25 09:00
Audio Review: Unleashed by Eileen Brady




Kate Turner DVM, #2


Eileen Brady

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Caroline Shaffer
Date of Publication: August 4, 2015
Abridged or Unabridged: Unabridged
Length of Production: 8 hrs and 7 mins

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     Audible    Downpour


Dr. Kate Turner is happy with her new life in Oak Falls in upstate New York. Working as a relief veterinarian at a small house-call practice, she truly enjoys helping her patients.

All that changes when client Claire Birnham is found dead, an apparent suicide. A talented artist, Claire had everything to live for: new job, Manhattan apartment, her Cairn terrier, Toto. As feisty as the "Wizard of Oz" s Toto, he and Claire were devoted to each other. Kate can t imagine Claire simply abandoning her pet. Was her death murder?

Questions end when police arrest young kennel helper Eugene. The fragile friendship between Kate and police officer Luke Gianetti frays as she ignores his advice and keeps asking questions. House calls provide gossip and clues, some helpful, some not so much, as she treats her animal patients. Did Claire s recent insurance windfall prove too tempting for her hard-working and hard-drinking mother? What does trouble in the art gallery where Claire worked signal? How huge a grudge did heavy metal rocker A. J. hold against high school sweetheart Claire after she dumped him? Was Claire a threat to A. J. s rich new girl?

Dr. Kate mixes real medicine with murder as she risks her life over Claire s death, aided by insights from a former fire investigator, a.k.a. her Gramps. "Unleashed" is just as irresistible as Dr. Kate s first adventure, "Muzzled."

I had the good sense when I found the first book in this new series Audiobook Jukebox, to request both at the same time. So it was a no-brainer for me to start this book as soon as I finished the first one.  This story picks up a few months after the events of Muzzled and things have settled back down.

This time the story opened during a murder. There is absolutely no mistaking that it was well thought out and planned precisely to emulate a suicide. There are no clues to the who, just the facts of what happened.  Knowing this kept me hyper aware of every interaction Kate had with potential suspects as she questions the official report.  Unfortunately, this really didn't help me figure out who or why, any faster than Kate.

The various animals that Kate comes in contact with, continues to be an interesting aspect of the story. These peeks into the workings of a veterinarian's typical day are an educational and fun piece to this series. I was also excited to see that we got to learn more about Kate's Gramps. His insight and guidance, though reluctant, have helped Kate navigate these mysteries that she keeps finding herself drawn into.

Caroline Shaffer's performance was great. Voices were made distinctive though tonal, speed and accent changes. She added to, instead of distracting from, the story.

I think my biggest issue with this book was that there was some repetition of facts. A couple of times, it seemed that were were getting the same information, told two different ways. Not clues, mind you, just background information on Kate or one of the men in her life. I really didn't need to hear about how Luke is playing the field after his break up with his long time fiance - got it the first time. Just little things like this, Maybe it wasn't as noticeable in print form, but it stood out in audio. Overall though, I did enjoy the book and look forward to potentially a third book in the series. I gave this book 3 stars.

Special thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to listen and review this book.

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