Audiobook Obsession – Four winners

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.

Loving Jay by Renae Kaye Title: Loving Jay

Author: Renae Kaye

Narrator: Dave Gillies

Publishing date: December 14, 2014

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC

Unabridged Audiobook

Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes

Blurb: 

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.

 

Review:  LYLBTB 50 star

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)

Narration: LYLBTB 50 star
You can purchase it here:

audible an Amazon company

 

 

How to How at the Moon by Eli Easton Audiobook cover Title: How to Howl at the Moon

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator: Matthew Shaw

Publishing date: March 12, 2015

Publisher: Pinkerton Road

Unabridged Audiobook

Length: 5 hours and 52 minutes

Blurb:

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.

Review:  4-star

(ebook)

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: LYLBTB 50 star

You can purchase it here:

audible an Amazon company

 

 

Black Dog Blues Audiobook coverTitle: Black Dog Blues

Author: Rhys Ford

Narrator:  Greg Tremblay

Publishing Date:  May 11, 2015

Publisher: DSP  Publications

Unabridged Audiobook

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.

Review: 4,5 stars

(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: LYLBTB 50 star

You can purchase it here:

audible an Amazon company

 

 

Guarding Morgan RJ Scott audible cover Title: Guarding Morgan (Sanctuary Book One)

Author: RJ Scott

Narrator: Sean Crisden

Publishing Date: April 20, 2015

Publisher: Love Lane Books Limited

Unabridged Audiobook

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.

Review: 4-star

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.  LYLBTB 50 star

You can purchase it here:

audible an Amazon company

 

 

Happy Listening,

Melyna

Albert Phineas Drache

 

Author Spotlight – Roan Parrish

My friends Janice and Dianne highly recommended the book In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish.  Knowing these ladies tastes in books are very similar to my own, and they have never steered me wrong, I purchased the book.  Once again they were correct.  It is a wonderful book.

In the Middle of Somewhere cover Title: In The Middle of Somewhere

Author: Roan Parrish

Publication date: July 10, 2015

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Length: 369 pages (per Amazon Kindle site)

Blurb:  Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

Review: LYLBTB 50 star

Loved this book. The cover is beautiful. The Characters well defined. I enjoyed the pace of the story and the depth the author gives to the background of both characters. I am excited to find out when the next book will be available. The set up is there for two more. (yes!)

My friend Dianne (One of the friends that recommended this to me) wrote a wonderful review for this book on Goodreads. She sums it up much better than I would so I will leave this here (click below). Enjoy!

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Buy it here:

Amazon US     DreamspinnerPress

P.S.

Dianne also does reviews for It’s About the Book.  Click the logo below to check out her other reviews:

It's About The Book Badge    AND  While you are there, check out another review of this book by reviewer: Whit!!!!!!

 

 

A lovely gift from C.S. Poe

Earlier this month I had an Author Spotlight on C.S. Poe.  One of the stories in the spotlight is Love Has No Expiration.  This morning I read that she has a coda out for this sweet story.

From her website:

“Love Has No Expiration” coda

 

“National Personal Chef Day was yesterday (sorry, I’m a day late) and a friend nudged me with the idea that I should write a coda for Love Has No Expiration, since our lovely Daniel is a personal chef! So here it is, thanks to Dianne and also to my chef sister! Please keep an eye on these two guys, as I have some exciting plans ahead for them.”

Loved it!  Click on the photo above to go to her website.  If you haven’t read her stories yet, click the link below:

Author Spotlight – C.S. Poe

Happy reading,

Melyna

Albert Phineas Drache

Author Spotlight – C.S. Poe

Coffee & Carnations by C.S. Poe  I was first introduced to C.S. Poe’s writing when I read her free story Coffee & Carnations.  It was written in honor of the SCOTUS ruling on June 26, 2015.   It started out as just a single short story but the author says there is more story to tell for her characters Sandy and Paul and we now have two chapters.  I am looking forward to reading more about the two sweet and endearing characters.   Click on the cover to go to the main page.  Then click on the chapters for the story.

 

After reading the free story, I wanted to read more.  The author has a short story out through the Dreamspinners summer M/M Romance Anthology.  This years theme is Never Too Late For Love.

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Her story is titled Love Has No Expiration

Blurb: There’s more to life than work, and love has no expiration, even for those approaching their forty-fifth birthday.

Daniel Richards is a private chef in New York City who has committed over a decade to his skills and passion. He has carved out a name for himself in the industry and has bookings for parties and dinners months in advance. Now that he’s in his mid-forties, however, he’s come to the realization that he’s lonely and desperate for companionship.

Two days before Valentine’s Day, he meets Keith Maxwell at a farmer’s market and can’t keep the much younger man out of his thoughts. Keith is eager and willing to take a chance with someone older, but Daniel’s reluctance stops Keith’s every attempt. Worried his career will suffer if he dedicates time to a serious romance, or that Keith won’t be satisfied with someone so much older, Daniel nearly thwarts his own attempts at finding happiness.

Review:
4.5stars

I always enjoy stories that have a food element to them.  I fondly refer to them as food-centric.  This story is not focused only on food necessarily, but it is Daniel’s life and it is how Daniel meets Keith.

Daniel has been so focused on his career that he hasn’t even considered a relationship.  Then preparing the menus for his clients Valentine’s day dinners and parties only reinforces how lonely his life has become.  When he meets Keith at the farmers market, he is taken aback when the younger man flirts with him.  Daniel is flattered but dismisses it knowing the young man couldn’t possibly be serious.  Then they run into each other again.

This is a lovely story and it shows that sometimes we have to get out of our own way to find happiness.

This lovely short story is 29 pages long and the author does a wonderful job of giving us this sweet romance between Daniel and Keith without it feeling rushed. Plus there’s Oscar. Who is Oscar,you ask?  You will have to read the story. 🙂

You can buy Love has No Expiration here:

DreamspinnerPress

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Happy Reading,

Melyna

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Audiobook Obsession – Brandon Witt

Then the Stars Fall audible coverTitle:  Then the Stars Fall

Author: Brandon Witt
Narrator: Andrew McFerrin
Unabridged Audio Book
Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
Release date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb: The death of his wife four years earlier left Travis Bennett a shell of the man he used to be. With his dog by his side, Travis raises his three children, manages his business, and works as a ranch hand. But every day, every minute, is an aching emptiness.
Wesley Ryan has fond memories of the small Ozark town of El Dorado. Seeing it as a safe place to put his failed relationships behind him, Wesley moves into his grandparents’ old home and takes over the local veterinary clinic. An early morning visit from Travis and his dog stirs feelings that Wesley seeks to push away—the last thing he needs is to fall for a man with baggage and three kids as part of the package.
Life, it seems, has other plans.

Audiobook review:

LYLBTB 50 star

Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt is one of those books on my  “keepers” list.  I loved it.  When I read that it was available as an audiobook I was intrigued but not ready to rush out and buy it.  I liked the memories I had of the story.  I liked the voices I of the characters in my mind.  I had heard the author read from this book at GRL.  I heard his voice, but it kept coming up in my Audible feed and I really did want to try it, so I listened to a snippet.  Then I bought the audiobook.  It took a little longer before the time was right to listen, but once I started listening, I did not want to stop. I listened every moment I could.  I was captivated.

Andrew McFerrin does a fantastic job of capturing the characters voices.    There are characters I adore and one I pretty much despise.  Listening to the narrator give voice to those characters just intensified those emotions.  It was a wonderful experience. Highly Recommended.

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This is my review of the eBook from October 2014.

Book Review:
I had never heard of Brandon Witt. I knew nothing about him or his writing. Then I went to GRL 2014. One of my favorite events is the author readings. During my first GRL, last year, I found some wonderful authors through this event, and this is how I found Brandon Witt this year. I listened to him read from Then the Stars Fall.  I cried. Then I bought the book.

I was not disappointed.

The story is set in El Dorado, Missouri, a small town which the author describes with such detail and richness that it is like being there with the characters. His characters feel real. Whether they were ones that I liked or not (and there are some that were very unlikeable), they were well developed and I felt invested in their stories.

The main character, Travis Bennett – widower, father of three, still grieving four years after losing his wife and best friend, Shannon – is a character that I did not immediately connect with. He is conflicted, angry, confused and at times abrasive. He is trying to navigate a life that he had never planned for, and he is not sure how to keep the promises he made to Shannon before she died.

When his dog, Dunkyn, needs medical attention, he meets Wesley Ryan, the new veterinarian in town. It is definitely not the best way for these men to meet. Wesley stirs feelings that Travis has been pushing aside for years, which just adds to his surliness. Wesley, knowing nothing about Travis or his past, is confused by his attitude and yet sees there is more there, an underlying story, a pain beyond his fear for his dog.

When Wesley becomes friends with Wendy Bennett, Travis’s sister, it brings the men together again for dinner at the Bennett’s house. Travis cannot deny his attraction to Wesley and while he feels guilt over his attraction to Wesley, he also has promises to keep to Shannon.

The excerpt the author read at GRL was from this scene and it was so incredibly beautiful.
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They kissed.
Animals slept.
They kissed.
The barn continued to stand.
They kissed.
Maybe a few stars fell.

(From Then the Stars Fall, by Brandon Witt.)

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Herbert, GRL 2014.

I enjoyed the way the author gradually develops the relationship between Wesley and Travis. It is slow and realistic, with misunderstandings as well as humorous moments. I loved the way we meet the family and people in the town as they interact with both men. The details and events give the story such depth; I felt the pain, the anger, the frustration, the grief, the sense of betrayal, the laughter, the love and the hope as the story unfolds.

The book is divided into seasonal sections beginning with autumn and ending with spring and an epilogue. The chapters are written from particular characters POV, not always Travis and Wesley. I thought it was a great way to get to know the characters better and how they perceived what was happening in the story.

This book can be read as a stand-alone book although I understand that the book The Shattered Door is actually the first book written in this world and contains back-story and more detail about some of the characters in this book.

Then the Stars Fall is beautifully written and one I happily recommend.

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Happy Listening and Reading,

Melyna

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Jordan Castillo Price – Why did I wait so long?

My friends have been recommending that I read Jordan Castillo Price for a while now.  I had planned to.  Really.  They also kept recommending other books and in the massive to be read library I have, I would get swept up  in another author or series or genre.  Finally I said it is time and bought Among the Living (Psycop #1) in audiobook format.

Psycop audiobook Among the LivingAudible Audio Edition
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Narrator: Gomez Pugh
Listening Length: 2 hours and 59 minutes
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Audible.com Release Date: August 1, 2014
Blurb:
Victor Bayne, the psychic half a PsyCop team, is a gay medium who’s more concerned with flying under the radar than in making waves.
He hooks up with handsome Jacob Marks, a non-psychic (or “Stiff”) from an adjacent precinct at his ex-partner’s retirement party, and it seems like his dubious luck has taken a turn for the better. But then a serial killer surfaces who can change his appearance to match any witness’ idea of the world’s hottest guy.
Solving murders is a snap when you can ask the victims whodunit, but this killer’s not leaving any spirits behind.
Warning: This audiobook contains explicit adult content.

Review:

4.5stars

I chose Psycop because it is one of the series that came highly recommended.  It is a police/mystery and I wasn’t so sure I would like it.  Wrong again.  I loved it.  Victor is paranormal.  The psychic half of a Psycop team, but his partner is retiring, and this is where we meet Victor.  Trying to get through the retirement party, taking drugs to keep the ghosts away.  Not having his best evening.  Then he finds himself up close and personal with Jacob Marks, a sexy non-physic  investigator very interested in Victor.  After this steamy start to the story, it continues at a fast pace when Victor gets called away from the party to investigate a murder.  Then to complicate matters, he is assigned a new inexperienced partner and  he ends up having to work the case with Jacob Marks.  To make things even worse, Victor is not able to sense the victims ghost, which is definitely not normal for him.

This is a fairly  short story but it packed with a lot of action.  Fast paced, multilayered and it has some great humor.  I so enjoyed the killer and who Victor saw him as. The new partner storyline is intriguing and I really liked this character.

I listened to this instead of reading it first which I find myself doing more often lately and I really enjoyed the narration by Gomez Pugh.  That said, I plan on buying the series and reading them first, then going back and listening to them.  I get the feeling this will be a re-read series and giving them a listen after reading them first will just add to the experience.

audible_icon  You can find a link to the series and reading order here:  Goodreads-Review-Button

 

Instead of racing to the next Psycop book, I wanted to finish the other books I had started reading while listening to Among the Living (another habit that I have gotten into).  When I finished those books I happened on a glowing recommendation of another JCP book, Magic Mansion.  I was intrigued so I bought it.  Great choice.

magic mansion Title: Magic Mansion
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books, LLC; 1 edition (April 9, 2012)
Publication date: April 9, 2012
Length: 371 pages
Blurb:
Professor Topaz is tired of fending off advice that he should retire in Vegas where magicians his age have an easier time finding work.

Ricardo Hart’s career has sunk so low, he’s resorted to shaking his moneymaker at bachelorette parties.

But there’s a casting call for a new reality show called Magic Mansion that could change everything for these two gay stage magicians, one recovering from the loss of his partner, the other awe-struck by the presence of his idol. Each is poised for a critical second chance: at fame, and at love.

Who will win? Step into the Mansion, and find out….

Review:

4,5 stars

I am not a fan of reality television programs, but when I read a glowing recommendation for this book by an author I admire, I decided this would be my second JCP book. (I know – I don’t know why I haven’t read her books before this now. Just seriously glad that I finally did)

Magic Mansion is set within a reality series called Magic Mansion. It begins with us meeting John Topaz or better know as Professor Topaz. He is a wonderful character. A magician in what I imagine as a traditional magician. He has the classic look,an elegance, though slightly somber and in this story has True Magic. His life has not gone as planned, money is tight and jobs are not abundant. Through some prodding by his publicist he auditions for the series, Magic Mansion. During the auditions he meets Ricardo Hart also known as Ricardo the Magnificent. The Professor is Ricardo’s hero and when they have to perform an audition together they find a mutual attraction.

The story centers around John and Ricardo as well as the ten other contestants competing. I love the way the author brings this show to life on the page. It is captivating. I had a wonderful time feeling like an audience participant, but having the back story as well. The behind the scenes gossip, team dynamics, personality conflicts and camaraderie and the not so glitzy reality of making a reality show. I enjoyed the varied personalities of the characters. (They are all memorable, but Charity and Oscar – fun but creepy and Muriel is delightful) The story is entertaining and fun.

Recommended

Amazon buy

To learn more about the author and her other books click here:

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Happy Reading,

Melyna

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Audio Obsession – Heidi Cullinan

I have been listening and reading and not reviewing.  I thought I would have a quiet moment to share my experiences but that time has not been available since March, and now its July.  I will start with a partial list of the books I have been listening to.  I will start with Heidi Cullinan.  She is one of my favorite authors. I love her humor.  Her characters are charming, sweet, sometimes a bit broken or lost,witty, intelligent and always engaging.   I was looking at my Goodreads list today and realized that I had read eleven of her books, so far, with many more on my want to read list.  My audiobooks consists of these two (so far) and they are fantastic.

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan narrated by Iggy Toma Title: Love Lessons (Love Lessons #1)
Author:  Heidi Cullinan
Narrator: Iggy Toma

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 10 hours and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Insatiable Press
Audible.com Release Date: February 25, 2015

LYLBTB 50 star


Blurb:
Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.
Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.
As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.

Review:
The short version: Lovely, sweet, romantic story filled with Disney references. I enjoyed the contrast between the happy idealistic Kelly and the cynical Walter who used that attitude to protect his heart. Nice multi story-lines with Professor Williams and Walter and Kelly’s family and friends. I enjoyed this very much – very sweet feel good book. 
 Audiobook:
There is just so much I love about this series.  Walter has such a wall around his heart, when we find out why it is easy to understand.  Kelly may be inexperienced but he is strong and I love the way he uses that strength when it comes to Walter.  Iggy Toma is the narrator.  he brings all of the characters to life.  It took a moment to get used to how he spoke.  It was not bad – no, not at all.  It was the style he used, the way he said the words and it worked perfectly for this story.  I loved it!
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Fever Pitch by Heidi cullinan AudiobookTitle: Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Narrator: Iggy Toma
Audible Audio Edition

Listening Length: 11 hours and 48 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Insatiable Press
Audible.com Release Date: March 18, 2015

LYLBTB 50 star
Blurb:
Sometimes you have to play love by ear. Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college – with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation and where he’s headed to school. Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.

Review: This audiobook is one of my first forays into listening to a book that I have not read first.  I loved the first book when I read it then listened to it.  I thought I would give this a go.  It was wonderful.  The narrator does a wonderful job with the characters. (After listening to Love Lessons, I can’t imagine anyone else giving these guys their voice, Iggy Toma is perfect.)  Knowing Walter and some of the other characters from the first book made it feel like revisiting old friends while getting to know the new characters.

Aaron really is a mess when we first meet him.  His father has his life planned out, Aaron is going to be a lawyer just like him.  The last thing Aaron wants to be is a lawyer.  Music is his passion or at least had been at one time.  If Aaron does not quickly find a school that his father approves of, his father will chose for him.  When Aaron meets Giles at a party he learns where he is attending and makes a snap decision to go there.  They have a curriculum his father approves of as well as a wonderful music program.

And they have Giles.

The first meeting and first encounter these two have is heartbreaking. Giles has been through hell being openly gay in his hometown. Aaron is in denial and fears his controlling father. He also has a past experience that leaves him pushing Giles away.  Giles has had more than enough bad experiences and even though he puts up a nonchalant front, it hurts.  Once at college things do not ease between the two. Misunderstandings, past hurts and fear keep them from connecting.   Luckily Aaron has an ally at his father’s law firm, Walter Lucas.  I adored Walter and Kelly from Love Lessons and it was wonderful to find them in Fever Pitch.  Walter is such a solid character.  He is the friend you want to have your back, so nurturing.  He helps Aaron through his doubts and confusion and it is a joy to see Aaron rekindle his love of music.  Oh, there is the music.  Music is central to the story.  It is fun and easy to get swept up in the competitiveness and camaraderie and music seems to fuel the heart of many of the characters and there are many characters in this story other than Aaron, Giles, Walter and Kelly. (which is another thing I enjoy about Heidi Cullinan and her ability to multilayer the story)

One of the secondary characters that stood out for me was Baz. In some ways he reminds be of Walter but with a darker edge and a past that we are not quite allowed to see.  Elijah, Aaron’s roommate is another one that was was not exactly likeable, then we get to know him better.  I applaud the way Heidi Cullinan weaves her stories.  Although this seems like a light story, there is also darkness and serious topics, but she gentles it with humor, music, hope and love.

I highly recommend this series and I cannot wait for the next book.

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Happy Reading,
Melyna
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