Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

FEATURING


Profoundly Disturbing Storyline
Horror-if-ic
Depressive Tone
Decay & Rot Transformations
Ghost-Like Apparations


With Audio Performed by Melanie Carey


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 4 STARS | GRADE B+



MY THOUGHTS


A hauntingly written novel about the deterioration of a town or actually about a street within a town.  The town is Cleveland and the street is Denton, and it's falling to ruin because of a factory.  The factory is where everyone...(at least the men), living on that street works and makes their living from, and it's closing down.  The year is 1980 and the feeling that permeates this book is a desolate, depressive one. 

In this book, there is a sad thing happening to some of the girls living on Denton Street, where they are turning to rust...and are given the name the Rust Maidens.  I feel like the rust maidens are a type of symbolism for the circumstances going on in the town, and yet they also feel real...like real girls turning to rust.  It's super creepy and kind of deep at the same time.  Told in alternating timelines between 1980 and the present, the story tells you what became of the rust maidens and is it happening again?

If there was any particular thing that kept me from rating this five stars it was the overwhelmingly depressive feeling throughout the story.  It sort of filled me with dread.  The narration really gives you that depressed feeling as well, if that was what they were going for in this story, then Melanie Carey hit it out of the park with the narration.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4.2/5
Narration Performance 4.5/5
Characters 4.3/5
The Feels 3.5/5
Pacing 4/5
Addictiveness 4/5
Theme or Tone 4.5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.7/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 5/5
Ending 4.2/5
_____

Book Cover It's amazing!
Setting Denton Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Source Audible Audiobook
Length 9 hours,13 minutes


Monday, October 28, 2019

Saint by A Zavarelli

Boston Underworld #4


FEATURING


Too Much Sex Not Enough Plot
Irish Mafia
Dark Romantic Suspense
Averaged Rating for Series Around 3.8


With Narration Performed by Tracy Marks


LINK TO SERIES PAGE ON GOODREADS


MY RATING⇢ 2.5 STARS | GRADE D+



MY THOUGHTS


If you love hot and steamy with plenty of sex involving mafia men with dark and truly f*cked up women...this is totally your series.  Unfortunately for me, I think I'm just so over reading/listening to a book with more sexual encounters than plot.  This could have been a much more enjoyable listen for me because the backstory was there.  Basically, for me, It just could have been so much more than it was and I do believe that I'm done with this series after this book.  Thank goodness, I never requested any more of this series from Audiobook Boom for review.

The narration is really quite remarkable by Tracy Marks, her Boston-Irish accent is fairly well done.  Her voice is very distinctive though, and unfortunately, each new book with new characters sounds like the characters, Mac and Crow, from book #1.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 2.3/5
Narration Performance 4/5
Characters 2.5/5
The Feels 2.5/5
Pacing 2.3/5
Addictiveness 2.5/5
Theme or Tone 2.5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3/5
Originality 3/5
Ending 2.5/5 Cliffhanger Nope.
_____

Book Cover Men with their pants falling off is my favorite on covers...((that was sarcasm, in case you didn't pick up on that)).
Setting Boston, MA
Source I received audiobook via Audiobook Boom in exchange for an honest review.
Length 8 hours, 19 minutes


Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Black Wolf by JA Redmerski

In the Company of Killers #5


FEATURING


Romantic Suspense
Contract Killers
Sex Trade Take Down
Sex-Plicit...Sort of
Book 5 of 7 (So Far)
Series Rating So Far...Around 4 STARS
Full Cast Narration*

LINK TO SERIES SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 3.8 STARS | GRADE B



MY THOUGHTS


I really like this series...I wouldn't say I love it, not like some...because there are some readers who really love this series.  Like ravenously.  The series as a whole is Dark Romantic Suspense that only has a smattering of romance and is heavy on the suspense and the darkness.

The dark subject matter varies from sex slavery to hired assassins to extreme torture...to revenge killing.  I've rated every book in the series at or around the 4-star mark...and I've been thinking why haven't I been able to give it five stars?   The dark subject matter, in particular, those books in the series that delve into the world of sex slavery take you to a place that's not only difficult to read about, it just feels wrong to give it five stars because of the f*cked up subject matter.  But...also, on the other hand, I have read another series that is all about sex slavery the Dark Duet by CJ Roberts and rated it 5 stars and I still believe it deserves those stars because those books have really stuck with me.  They took me to the mindf*ck edge and tipped me over.  Unfortunately, In the Company of Killers has only taken me to the mindf*ck edge...but hasn't tipped me over the said edge.  Not yet, anyway, and I know this Author is capable of tipping me over the edge because of her book Everything Under the Sun.  I loved it...and I'm trying to be patient while waiting for the sequel already. 


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3.8/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 4/5
The Feels 3.7/5
Pacing 4/5
Addictiveness 4/5
Theme or Tone 3.7/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3.7/5
Originality 4.3/5
Ending 4/5 Cliffhanger "to be continued..."
_____

Book Cover It's okay...don't get me started on the whole cigarette thing...
Setting Italy mostly...
Source Own Audible Audiobook
Length 9 hours 34 minutes


*FULL CAST NARRATION AS FOLLOWS

 Luke Daniels - NIKLAS
Kate Reinders - IZABEL
Susannah Jones - NORA
Nelson Hobbs - FREDRIK (MAYBE)
Stephen Bel Davies - VICTOR

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The House by Christina Lauren

FEATURING


Monster House For Teens
With Romance
A Possession
Paranormal
Older YA

With Audio Performed Swimmingly by Elizabeth Louise and Deacon Lee

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 4 STARS | GRADE B+



MY THOUGHTS


Best Character goes to the Antagonist...The House.  Not that I was rooting for the house...well maybe I was, a little.  Did you ever see the movie, Monster House...




...this was like that, but with seventeen-year-olds, and some mushy, gushy romance stuff.  It wasn't half bad either...and I think that surprised me because I was hesitant to read it.  Seriously, that's all you really need to know...I say read it, especially if you're in the mood for something different than your average ghost story.  Also...if you've never seen Monster House...then you should, even if you don't have kids.

FYI...As far as the romance goes...or at least as far as the characters take things in their relationship this is getting an Older YA tag from me.  

THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4/5
Narration Performance 4/5
Characters 4/5
The Feels 3.7/5
Pacing 4/5
Addictiveness 3.5/5
Theme or Tone 3.5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.7/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 4/5
_____

Book Cover I like it.
Setting Morton, Kansas
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 8 hours, 45 minutes

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

FEATURING


Character Study
Psychological
Thrillingly Twisted & Twisty
Ireland
Full Cast Narration*


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 4.7 STARS | GRADE A



MY THOUGHTS


This book is quite cleverly titled and I do love when that happens.  Oliver is a monster...the opening line is in reference to him hitting his wife so brutally, she's in a coma.  This is the story of how Oliver came to be who he is, and the people who shaped him and even some who were shaped by him.  It is, essentially the unraveling of Oliver...

The more I thought about this book, the more I realized just how sinisterly brilliant it is.  it's not full of action...actually there isn't much action in it to even refer to it as thrilling, other than the revealing twists and some of them are positively twisted.  The story is told from several POV's and with each one, we get a little of their backstory. Some readers have said that they didn't like this...I personally thought it was the best part and I genuinely liked their stories.  Besides, it's not as if it prattles on and on...because overall it's a fairly quick listen/read.

The Full Cast narration was terrifically performed and I even got used to the Irish accents after a bit...there was one that was a bit challenging to understand, but there are several POV's so not necessarily a deal-breaker.


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 5/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 5/5
The Feels 4.5/5
Pacing 5/5
Addictiveness 4.3/5
Theme or Tone 4.3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.2/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 5/5
Ending 4.3/5
_____

Book Cover Meh...it's an unraveling Oliver, I suppose.
Setting Ireland & France
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 6 hours, 50 minutes


*FULL CAST NARRATION PERFORMED BY

Sam O’Mahoney
 Roy McMillan
Kevin Hely
Tracy Keating
Stephen Hogan
Kathy O’Brien
Steven Laverty
Michele Moran

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Reigning and the Rule by Calia Read

Surviving Time #2


FEATURING


Time Travel
Requires A Suspension of Belief
Historical Romance
The Early 1900's
Mystery
Sex-Plicit
Rating for Book #1 - 3 Stars


LINK TO Book #1 SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 4.3 STARS | GRADE A-



MY THOUGHTS


I only gave book #1 in this series 3 STARS, I had issues with plot holes and the overall believability of the time travel.  I think my main issue is usually in time-traveling books the person goes through time but remains in the same location.  This has Serene changing locations...like by states and all.  But if I set that issue aside and just go with it, I found this second book to be much better.  Also, the plot holes were filled up, for the most part, and everything started clicking into place for me.  She doesn't just time travel...she changes time and it has some drastic results.

I still loved the connection between Serene and Etienne, which I also did in the first book, their chemistry is what makes the story.  His reaction when she cusses like a sailor or talks about whores and sluts is absolutely priceless.  If any man brought up in that era can go with that kind of talk from a lady...he's a keeper.

This time around, though, I was wishing she would stop waffling on her feelings for him and going over something again and again...I feel like this kind of indecisiveness in romance books is just done for filler, and this book doesn't need filler, it clocks in at 479 pages, after all.  There is enough going on plotwise that fewer pages of it would be welcomed.  The ending has some surprising elements that I won't give away...but they are so significant that I decided to start the third and final book straight-away.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4.3/5
Characters 5/5
The Feels 4.3/5
Pacing 3.8/5
Addictiveness 4.3/5
Theme or Tone 5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.3/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 5/5 Cliffhanger Yes! More than one, actually.
_____

Book Cover It's really pretty.  I love the new covers for the series, actually.
Setting Present Time Champaign, Illinois &1913-ish Charleston, South Carolina
Source Kindle eBook (KU)
eBook Length 479 pages

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

FEATURING


Prequel to Practical Magic
Spanning the 50s, 60s, 70s...and more
A Long Line of Witches
Family Curse
Romance & Love


With Audio Performed by Marin Ireland

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 3.7 STARS | GRADE B



MY THOUGHTS


Full Disclosure:  I've never watched Practical Magic, not that I can remember, anyway...and I've never read the book either.  So, I can't really tell you if this is a good place to start with the series or not.  I  can tell you that I was never at a loss for what was going on in the story...and this takes you right up to when the characters, Gillian and Sally from the movie/book come to live with their Aunts Franny and Jet at a young age.  Although, maybe the fact that I've never read Practical Magic is the reason why I didn't love this, like so many others have.  

Don't get me wrong...it's not at all bad, the story has merit and I even found some of the witchiness appealing here and there...even though witch stories aren't really my thing.    Not enough, that I want to read Practical Magic or anything...but maybe, I wouldn't mind watching the movie.  I did especially love the characters of Franny, Jet, and Vincent. They made the story, for sure.  I think if witch stories are your thing, then you will love this and the Audio is even decently done by Marin Ireland.


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3.8/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 4.5/5
The Feels 3/5
Pacing 3.8/5
Addictiveness 4/5
Theme or Tone 4.3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 4.7/5 Cliffhanger Not really.
_____

Book Cover It's okay...I guess.
Setting NY, NY, & Massachusetts
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 10 hours, 58 minutes

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

FEATURING


Russian Exchange Student in America
A Coming of Age Story
Literary 
Murder Mystery
The Anguish of Addiction


With Audio Performed by Michael Crouch

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 4 STARS | GRADE B+



MY THOUGHTS


The synopsis sets up this story wonderfully, so I suggest reading that.  A thoughtfully told, heartbreaking narrative with alternating timelines, between the past in Russia leading up to Ilya's exchange trip to America and from present tense in Louisiana where he is determined to prove his brother's, Vladimir's, innocence. While the slow pace of the story left me wanting to rush this...I kept waiting for something thrilling to happen and once it finally did, I kind of missed the mark with me.  It may have also touched on religion a tad more than I'm comfortable with.

Ultimately, this packs more of a literary punch than action-packed punch, with themes of familial bonds, addiction, and dreaming of something better, this is overall, a genuinely heartfelt story and one that is not to be missed.

The Audio performance is well performed by Michael Crouch, as usual, he even pulled off all those Russian words with finesse...I think...since I don't speak Russian.

THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4/5
Narration Performance 4.5/5
Characters 4/5
The Feels 3.7/5
Pacing 3.2/5
Addictiveness 4/5
Theme or Tone 4.2/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 5/5
Ending 4.5/5
_____

Book Cover Love it!
Setting Berlozhniki, Russia & Effie, Louisianna 
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 12 hours, 3 minutes

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bunny by Mona Awad

FEATURING


Mean Girls & Heathers...
Mashed w/Weird Science
Weird AF
Cultish Cliques
New England University
Creative Writing


With Audio Performed by Sophie Amoss


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 2.5 STARS | GRADE D+



MY THOUGHTS


The Audio was fairly good...she pulled off the annoying bunny dialogue really well, her Scottish accent felt a tad forced and awkward, but it's not in the story that much, so not too a big deal.

The first third of the story I was really into it, actually...but then somewhere around the middle, I got really confused and then it was like the story was floating up above my head somewhere...and only bits and pieces got through.  While I've never done a buddy or bookclub kind of read, I can see where a person would definitely benefit from someone(s) to bounce things off from while reading this.

Ultimately, I feel like I missed the boat on this one...like maybe somewhere in this f-ed up story was a thought-provoking narrative filled with allegory, satire and all those things that your teacher wanted you to convey in your stories.  But it was completely lost on me...It was kind of like one long-ass acid trip, and the bunnies...don't even get me started on the bunnies.

Oh, bunny...I love you bunny, your so pretty bunny...I love your dress bunny...


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 2.5/5
Narration Performance 4.5/5
Characters 3.5/5
The Feels 3/5
Pacing 3/5
Addictiveness 2.5/5
Theme or Tone 3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 1.5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3/5
Originality 3/5
Ending 1.5/5 Cliffhanger ???
_____

Book Cover It's eye-catching, for sure.
Setting Warran University, New England
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 11 hours, 44 minutes

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

FEATURING


Rock N Roll/Metal Inspired
Horror-if-ic
Weird AF
Gore
Devil Worshipping


With Audio Performed by Carol Monda


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 3.5 STARS | GRADE B-



MY THOUGHTS


I loved how the chapters were named after albums of different Rock/Metal bands.  It was the second chapter in, I believe, and the chapter was Appetite For Destruction...and I was thinking, hey, that's  a Gun's & Roses album name (the only truly good one from them, in my opinion.)  After that, I tried to figure out the band from each new chapter name.  Some I knew, some I didn't.  Probably because I was more of a Rock/Hair Band kind of music fan than a metal fan.

Overall, a crazily entertaining listen, with audio performed fairly decently by Carol Monda, her raw, deep voice really captured the true essence of Kris Pulaski.

Although, at times, I was utterly confused and I may have missed the point of the whole story.  I was left wondering if this was a play on metal music poisoning your mind or was the music actually poisoning their minds, like sublimely?  Or, is it both? At other times it felt like it was dipping into a supernatural theme...with the whole, he sold our souls to the devil shit, either that or they were on some serious drugs.  This sort of confusion seems to be a theme for me lately, and what was with those UPS guys?

THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3.5/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 3.8/5
The Feels 3/5
Pacing 4/5
Addictiveness 3.8/5
Theme or Tone 3.5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.7/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.3/5
Originality 4.3/5
Ending 3.8/5 Cliffhanger Nah...
_____

Book Cover It's awesome, actually...very Rock N Roll
Setting West Virginia & Las Vegas
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 9 hours, 2 minutes

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

FEATURING


Post-Apocalyptic Nuclear Winter
Survival
A Deadly Virus
Bioengineered Humans
An Awesome Dog Named Wolf (who isn't a wolf)
Tiny Splash of Romance
Reads More Like Older YA


With Audio Performed by Jayme Mattler


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ 5 STARS | GRADE A+



MY THOUGHTS


I loved this, I had no idea it was going to go in the direction it did, and I was so into it once it did.

What starts out as a typical end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it survival story in the Yukon takes a left turn into this secret (possibly government) cover-up.  Think...Dark Angel (you know the show with Jessica Alba) with augmented humans, with super abilities, who have escaped and just want to be left alone.  Mixed with a cold unforgiving backdrop of never-ending nuclear winter, and a super-virus that has killed a large percentage of the population that the government agency is still trying to find a cure for.  I, personally, found this unputdownable.  Other readers have said they found this to be slow, even boring, but I don't get it.  I listened to this, for the most part, in one day.  If that doesn't scream compelling...I don't know what does.

The Audio was seamlessly performed by Jayme Mattler, she fit the voice of the weirdly distinct MC, perfectly.  I hope the author decides to continue with this world he has created because I really want to know where he plans to take it.  I want more Lynn & Jax.  The possibilities this could go in have me stoked.  Please don't do what Dark Angel did and leave me hanging.


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 5+/5
Narration Performance 5/5
Characters 5/5
The Feels 5+/5
Pacing 5/5
Addictiveness 5/5
Theme or Tone 5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 5/5
Originality 5/5
Ending 5/5 Cliffhanger Yes, and the Author hopes to write another book...hopes...I don't know if that's good enough for me.
_____

Book Cover It's perfect for the book, but she should be carrying her bow.
Setting Yukon Territory, Canada
Source Libby Audiobook (Library)
Length 8 hours, 54 minutes

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