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review 2018-04-24 04:05
First off let me just say...
Infamous - Jenny Holiday,Michael Fell

"THIS ONE TAKES PLACE IN CANADA!!!!!!!" and I didn't even realize this until I got listening to the story...yeah, I know it says 'Toronto' in the blurb but I admit it, I skimmed the blurb and listened to the audible sample and then said 'yes please'  I'm not even sure why because on of the MCs is a rock star...not my favorite. I have one series that I love with rock stars in it...just one...that's it and I read a lot so I think that speaks to how much I like rock stars...usually.

 

'Infamous' is the second book in Jenny Holiday's 'Famous' series and while I'm pretty sure that one of the MCs from book one is connected to Jess Jamison, I truly did not feel lost or like I was missing something at any time while I was listening to this story. 

 

When Jess boards the train...yes that's right, the train...hey, don't laugh those train tickets aren't cheap...anyways, Jess's goal is to get on the train and have a quiet ride home...well, it was until he spots the very handsome, young silver fox sitting alone and before his brain can censure his mouth he strikes up a conversation in which he discovers that his seat mate's name is Hunter Wyatt and he's a Pediatrician who works as a hospitalist (in plain speak he's a doctor who works strictly out of the hospital managing patient care for children who are critically ill...that's right children, Wyatt's a doctor at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital and yes, it's really a place. They do a lot of amazing work there. Meanwhile Wyatt discovers that Jess is an up and coming...hopeful, wanna' be rock star. Plus before their train arrives at Union Station in Toronto they also discover they have one other thing in common they're both getting out of relationships that didn't work...

 

Wyatt when he realized that his 'roommate' of 10 years was never going to step out of the closet and make him more than a dirty little secret and Jess while they're on the train to Toronto and his current girlfriend sees the picture of Jess playing tonsil hockey with someone who's not only not her but not 'a' her at all. A few hours and several small bottles of wine later. Jess and Wyatt exchange contact information promising to stay in touch and move on...fast forward...

 

two years and Karma brings Jess and Wyatt back together and a friendship is born.

 

So that's the gist of things and really it's only the barest of outlines. Now where do I start in explaining how much I enjoyed this story...well first off let's start with how much I loved the interaction between Jess and Hunter...this one's slow folks, I mean seriously these two men are not rushing to dive under the covers...they're friends. Jess has had his wake-up call...remember the train ride? Yeah, his band was riding the rails and the new management flat out told him...NO MEN! Jess is bi so no problem right...no problem except for a certain young silver fox...but, Wyatt's not a problem he's had his fill of straight guys...so as far as he's concerned Jess is friendship material and that's it because there's no way in hell that anyone's putting Wyatt back in the closet again. No matter how much of a sexy, tattooed, bad-ass rocker they are or seem to be just because they're hiding a kind and gentle heart that's willing to visit a kid with a bad heart and teach her how to play guitar and help her and some other sick kids have their own rock band...or MC a charity fundraiser and then donate $200,000 to said charity and if you want to know how this happened you really need to read the story because...'Oh my god!!! So freakin' sweet.' and that's all I'm saying about that. 

 

Now, just to tease a little more we have the ending...and can I just say the ending on this one was "so freakin' melt my heart good". Yeah, it was a little bit over the top but in all the right ways and don't get me started on the secondary characters...like Jess's band and his sister and his nephew and Avery...the kid in the hospital...seriously they're all so awesome...You know, I really want to go listen to this one, again...oh and I almost forgot this one was narrated by Michael Fell. While Michael Fell isn't exactly a new to me narrator, this is my third audio book narrated by him and he's done a solid job on every one of them...this one had kids in it and if you know me you know how well I do with kids in audio books and folks I have to say Mr. Fell must have done ok because my ears didn't bleed, I wasn't running for the brain bleach, I didn't want to hurl my tablet (yeah, that's right Karen's got a new toy) and nope, no bad experiences so let's chalk up an extra point for this one because kid's voices and me are usually a really bad...like bad as in this book just got tanked and as you can tell by the 4.5 stars that didn't happen here. 

 

So hopefully there will be more from Jess and his band because truthfully, I'm dying to know if Bobby finally gets those bedbugs that he keeps obsessing about.

 

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An audio book of 'Infamous' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-07 22:26
Excuse me while I gush a little over this one...
Taking the Long Way - Max MacGowan

I've been very fortunate since realizing that contrary to my original thoughts I really enjoy audio books. I've listened to some awesome stories...some because the narrator was incredibly good...like Greg Tremblay or Nick J. Russo, just to name a couple or because the author has written an amazing story. Authors like T.J. Klune, Megan Derr or Mary Calmes writing books such as 'A Destiny of Dragons', 'The High King's Golden Tongue or 'Acrobat' again, just to name a few...or stories like this one by both an author and a narrator who are new to me.

 

Rye's a rent boy, paid companion, male escort...pick your term bottom line (no pun intended) he makes his living selling himself. Sometimes we do things out of necessity whether we like it or not really isn't the issue...for Rye is survival...it's all he knows.

 

Marcus is a functionally blind army vet given the opportunity to see a doctor who may be able to help him...but that doctor's on the other side of the country and flying is not an option for Marcus because of his injury and driving...well, did I mention functionally blind. Marcus wants this and who can blame him maybe he can recover at least some of his eyesight but getting there seems like the impossible dream until Rye and circumstances come together to make this a trip that could save them both.

 

So we've got a male escort, a wounded military vet and they're making a road trip add in some interesting and colorful secondary characters not to mention a couple of awesome dogs and back-up all of this with a narrator whose voice totally blew me away. I've come across narrators who have seemed more than a little amazing to me...narrators like Greg Tremblay, Nick J. Russo, Michael Ferraiuolo, Sean Crisden...there really are a lot of good narrators out there and several really exceptional ones...I think if future endeavors prove to be as well done as this one was that Matt Milne will fall into the latter category of being exceptional for me.

 

Throughout this book it wasn't like having someone read me a story or sitting down with a friend...no, it was better it was like having Marcus and Rye right there leaning over my shoulder whispering to me as they shared their story with me...now, this may sound scary to some but trust me at times this was really, really hella' hot...like cold shower, fanning my face hot...and sometimes that had nothing to do with the sex...I'ma just sayin'...listening to the story of how these two met and came to care about themselves and to mean so much to each other was simply delicious...I just don't have another word for it.

 

I honestly can't even begin to explain how much I loved the sound of their voices...both of them just absolutely totally did it for me but especially Rye. There were times that his voice had this slow, sexy, sultry tone that simply melted me the man could have asked me for the keys to Fort Knox and if I had them in my possession I would have gift wrapped them for him.

 

So simply put Matt Milne is totally on my radar as an audio narrator and while there currently only seems to be 4 books to this narrator's credit, I will definitely be on the lookout for more.

 

Truthfully, if I had to make one criticism about the narration I guess I'd have to say it was the fact that while the book is set in the United States both of the MCs have a slight British tone to their voices...and you know what, I didn't care. I admit there are times when this is enough to make me want to throw my laptop out the window...not this time...I simply didn't care. I just wanted to keep listening to Rye and Marcus talk...so, there you go, if accents are a big issue for you this might not be the book for you...but just to be sure you should head on over to Amazon or audible and check out the sound clip before making your choice...you might find that you don't care either and if you do than, you've saved yourself some time and money...either way it's all good.

 

Ok, now that I've gushed a bit about how much I loved the narration of this book let's move back to the actual story. As far as Rye being a 'male escort' I'm honestly neither here nor there in terms of this. For Rye being a male escort as I said was a life choice...he wanted to stay alive and the only way to do this was to be able to provide for himself...so, truthfully who am I to criticize? Sure I can say things like 'well, I'm sure there were other things that he could have done? there had to be another way?' but just like in the real world we can't know the hows and whys of someone's life if we haven't lived it. So to me Rye did what he had to in order to keep himself alive and I can absolutely respect that and to by honest I really liked Rye. I like his caring and his compassion, his snark and the fact that even though he maybe should have been one of the most cynical people out there given the hand that life dealt him he wasn't.

 

Then there's Marcus...again he should have been someone other than who he was considering his circumstances but for all of his bluff and bluster, he was a good and caring person...Marcus truly had a good heart and I loved his determination to remain so fiercely independent. I couldn't imagine going out into a world that I could no longer really see. I'm pretty sure I'd be hiding in a corner somewhere.

 

I loved the road trip setting for this one. I am totally a fan of road trip stories and the connection between Rye and Marcus for me was perfect. It wasn't a love at first sight for them it started with simply liking and being comfortable with each other and the banter between these two was filled with snarky humor and often enough honesty to have one or both of them feeling uncomfortable. 

 

'Taking the Long Way' was a story about more than just one journey. Yes, there was the obvious trip across country for Marcus to get to his doctor's appointment but there was also a journey made by each of these men to find themselves...a journey that they needed to make in order to make that final journey that would allow them to find their way back to each other. 

 

I loved this story and yes, it may have some flaws in it but ultimately I connected with it on a level that left me feeling like I'd gone on a bit of a road trip as well, as I traveled along with Rye and Marcus on their cross country journey. 

 

I'm looking forward to more from both this author and the narrator of what is  very probably going to be one of my favorite audio books EVAH!!!

 

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An audio book of 'Take the Long Way' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-03-06 17:52
And here we have another new to me author...
Promise Me We'll Be Okay - Nell Iris

'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' intrigued me. It's a second chance story but it's honestly the kind of second chance story that I tend to avoid because we come into this story smack dab in the middle so to speak and a lot of time with stories like this I just don't get a feel for the couple and I tend not to feel invested in the  story but surprise that didn't happen this time. 

 

I really liked Jude and Vee (Vincent). Jude's musically gifted and loves his job as a high school music teacher almost as much as he loves Vee. Vee's ambitious and driven to succeed but Jude's his touchstone and he loves him completely and yet it's been about 2 years since Vee ended things between them and Jude's spent that time trying to move on, to get past loving Vee with all his heart and losing the dream that was suppose to be their HEA. 

 

Jude never really understood what happened or why what he thought was his perfect life with Vee suddenly came to an end, but he's trying really, really hard to move on from all of this until a knock on his door one evening brings him face to face with the past that he can't quite move on from. So needless to say I wasn't going to be a fan of Vee...nope, he's an idiot douche-bag and all those other rotten things, right? Nope, wrong...dammit, I liked Vee. It turned out that he was honestly a really nice guy who made a really big mistake and when he finally realized it he didn't try and blame anyone but himself. 

 

Truthfully I loved that Jude didn't play games when he finally talked to Vee and they began to work things out and I totally admit if I had been in Jude's shoes I think my reactions would have been the same. I really got where Jude was coming from and part of it was the why of Vee ending things. I'm not saying it wouldn't have hurt but it could have been so much harder. I loved that whatever the problem was between these two it didn't involve cheating and that's all I'm saying about that.

 

And yet, ironically, what really niggled at me was the reason why Vee ended things between him and Jude...as reasons go it was weak and somehow I couldn't quite reconcile it as something that the Vee we saw in the story would do, but while I was waffling over this, I realized that there are probably things that we can all say we've done that have struck people who know us as being outside of our character. So while it may not have struck me as being something that Vee would do I also realized that didn't make it something he wouldn't do.

 

Now what really worked for me was Jude and Vincent...it's through their conversations and Jude's memories as he and Vee begin to find their way back to each other that I began to see and feel the connection they shared. I loved these two men together. They worked I felt their connection and it was good. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this story from Jude's brother and his wife to his friend Benji and Benji's 3 dads. 

 

'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' is essentially a short, sweet second chance story that's touched with humor and low on angst and overall an enjoyable feel good story.

 

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An ARC of 'Promise Me We'll Be Okay' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-03-06 15:50
It's mystery time...
Bone to Pick - Alan Moore,Michael Fell

"Bone To Pick' is my first time with a story by author T.A. Moore and seriously you can just color me impressed. I have to admit that being new to this author I had no idea what to expect so while I like the familiar as much as the next person...which, I did get that because hey, Nick J. Russo narrated this one and as a lot of my friends already know he's a fav of mine when it comes to audio book narrators and never fails to deliver me a solid, well narrated story.

 

But as much as I like the familiar I also welcome the chance to discover something new and what I found here was an author that can deliver a solid mystery/thriller story with a touch of romance? mmm...maybe, not so much romance but definitely a relationship going on here between a couple of the MCs.

 

Cloister Witte works for the San Diego County Sheriff's Departments K-9 Unit. He's a man who's past haunts him...dad's a deadbeat, stepdad's a criminal and his brother disappeared and was never found and this is the demon that drives Cloister to do for others what no one did for his brother. Cloister and his K-9 partner, Bourneville bring the missing home.

 

When Drew Hartley goes missing Cloister and Bourneville are brought in to aid in the search and as much as he wants to help being brought in to help F.B.I. agent Javi Merlo is not high on Cloister's list of things he wants to do...but with a child missing both men try to put aside their animosity towards each other...notice I said try...yeah, some things are harder to do than others. While it's readily apparent that the animosity between Cloister and Javi is fueled as much by their attraction as it is by their past encounter.  For me the relationship here is far more physical attraction than any kind of emotional connection. I'm not saying that it doesn't have to potential to become more...just that throughout the course of this story while the physical attraction was definitely there if readers are looking for some kind of grand romance than they're going to be disappointed.

 

It's definitely the mystery/thriller part of this story that has prominence and takes center stage for most of this story. While I liked Cloister from the word go and of course I liked Bourneville...I mean really how can anyone not like a service dog. These dogs are the heroes of the dog world. Don't get me wrong they're not the only heroes when it comes to our canine companions but you have to admit service dogs are pretty damned amazing and this is also part of the reason why I just couldn't warm up to Javi with his less than informed attitude towards service dogs and what they are capable of...yeah, Javi was often times a self-righteous, condescending, jerk and truthfully my feelings towards him didn't really change but that didn't really seem to impact how much I enjoyed this story. 

 

Like many others I loved Bourne. For the most part I really liked Cloister. He was awesome with Bourne and fairly good with people in general...was he perfect...no, but really who is and for me this just added to making Cloister feel like a real person someone that I could actually meet one day. 

 

As for Javi...well sad to say I can imagine meeting him one day too...oh, wait I think I've already met him a time or two at least and I think this is part of why even though I wasn't a fan of Javi, he didn't spoil the story for me. Along with the good and the bad that was Javi and Cloister there were secondary characters who helped to fill out this story adding to the tension and realism of events. 

 

I admit it I loved this story not because of the 'romance' but more in spite of it. The mystery for me was enjoyable, the character interaction intriguing and the potential for more solid and I'm definitely on board to check out more by this author and last but not least...the narrator...Nick J. Russo.

 

I'm not sure what more there is that I can say here about Nick J. Russo...I can add a whole lot of flowery, gushy words and go on and on about the fact that he's definitely in my top 5 list when it comes to audio book narrators and when I'm looking for an audio book to listen to if he's the narrator it's not even a consideration that I'll enjoy the audio...so, like I said I'm not sure what more I can so except maybe if you enjoy audio books and you haven't listened to anything by Nick Russo...what the hell? How have you managed that and you need to fix it ASAP! and this is as good a book as any to start with if you enjoy a good mystery.

 

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An audio book of 'Bone to Pick' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-03-01 22:08
The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint
The Wind in His Heart - Charles de Lint

It’s interesting how authors who start their careers writing atmospheric, mystical books about the intersection between magic and reality seem to become increasingly paint-by-numbers as their careers progress. Juliet Marillier followed this pattern, going from my favorite author with her original Sevenwaters trilogy, to churning out trite and recycled stories fifteen years later. Of De Lint’s work, I’ve read only his first book, Dreams Underfoot – a short story collection I enjoyed – and this, his most recent. This one is kind of fun as an escapist, plot-driven novel, but the characters and setup are unconvincing, and the emotions it elicited in me ranged from mildly entertained to moderately bored.

This story is set in Arizona, on and around the reservation of a fictional Native American tribe which lives alongside an ancient tribe of shapeshifters. Steve, a retired rock star living in the desert nearby, finds a teenager, Sadie, abandoned in the desert, and brings her to the reservation to seek help, but Sadie is a traumatized and troubled kid who sows chaos in her wake. Meanwhile, when a customer at a local hunting lodge inadvertently kills a shapeshifter, the traditional and entrepreneurial factions on the reservation are thrown into conflict. Besides Steve and Sadie, the other major point-of-view characters are Thomas, a local boy who wants to see the world but is under pressure to become a shaman, and Leah, a music blogger who comes looking for Steve after Sadie tips her off to his location.

It is a fast-paced book, in the sense that there are many relatively short chapters with lots of dialogue and that the action moves quickly, with chapters often ending on cliffhangers. Unfortunately, the characters are simplistic and unconvincing from the get-go, all too ready to share their deeply-held secrets or revise their outlooks on life at the drop of a hat, and bizarrely uninformed about their own close-knit community. Somehow Thomas doesn’t know that his boss spent several years living elsewhere (though there’s no indication this is a secret) or that his sister also sees into the otherworld (which for a supposedly deeply held secret on both of their parts, comes out awfully easily in casual conversation as soon as the book begins). Steve is even worse, being somehow unaware that anything unusual is happening even though he’s lived there for 40 years – in a trailer that is invisible to outside eyes, and with a girlfriend who, in an attempt to hint that she might not be entirely human that somehow went right over Steve’s head, has antlers and sometimes (but not always) a tail.

Steve’s bizarre ignorance is representative of the world of the book generally. The accidental killing of the shapeshifter happens because the entrepreneurial Sammy, a tribal member who grew up on the reservation and owns the hunting lodge, also somehow doesn’t believe in the shapeshifters. It’s unclear how this can be when they are more than willing to reveal themselves to him and beat him up, and for that matter when others on the reservation are perfectly willing to tell strangers who showed up on their doorstep five minutes ago all about their not-quite-human neighbors. In TV Tropes terms, the world is presented as if shapeshifters conceal themselves through a Masquerade, but in what we see throughout the book there is zero actual attempt at concealment and plenty of volunteering information.

Meanwhile, none of the POVs are really the central characters in this story or the ones driving it forward, unless you count Sadie’s acting out. The story is actually about the tribe and the shapeshifters, but three of the four POVs are white people from elsewhere, and they feel a little shoehorned in. Even Thomas, who is a tribe member, is an almost entirely reactive character, never driving the action. Steve is appointed “the arbitrator” of the shapeshifter community, which does not feel particularly earned and edges close to white savior territory in a book that otherwise manages to avoid the worst racial tropes. Leah has little reason to be in the book at all, other than to provide a connection to Newford, the fictional city where much of De Lint’s work is set. She arrives obsessed with Steve’s band because she wants to know why their music didn’t save her best friend, also a fan, from suicide, at which I can only wonder why she would have expected some band’s music to save someone from crippling anxiety and a negative self-image. Then she easily replaces this preoccupation with blogging about the plight of migrants crossing the border, which is even weirder since she never meets a migrant, just some old guy who tells her this is a worthy cause.

At any rate, this made for good cotton candy reading, exemplifying my favorite quote about how readers sometimes get sucked in, even when we know better: “That’s the problem with fiction — or the charm, if you want. Even mediocre plots have a way of sinking their hooks into you, until you find yourself concerned for the fates of characters who aren’t even fully convincing.” Put another way, there’s plenty of craft here – cliffhangers and tense situations to keep the reader going – but precious little magic. It could make a fun beach read, but don’t expect more.

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