Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

Elemental Assassin #8
Published March 2013 by Pocket Books
369 pages
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Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Series:  Spider’s Bite |  Web of LiesVenom |  Tangled Threads |  Spider’s RevengeBy a Thread | Widow’s Web | Deadly Sting | Heart of Venom | The Spider | Poison Promise  | Black Widow (November 2014)
Source: Purchased
Rating: Liked

Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot. 

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me— Gin Blanco, aka the Spider—it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’s priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color. (Source: Goodreads)

I love how Finn tries to get Gin back in the game after the fall out of WIDOW’S WEB.  Whether it is the unease of pretty clothes or putting Gin in a situation that spun into something wilder than even Finn could imagine, she needs to re-engage with more than just the Pork Pitt. It was hard to witness just how hurt she was after Owen walked away.

Luckily a giant scorned, Clementine, comes along to take Gin’s mind off things. Clementine heist of jewels and a few secrets gets rudely interrupted by The Spider and what she does best. Killing people who need killing. First Rule: Don’t mess with Gin’s family and friends. Because she will make you rue the day, you made the fatal mistake. Once Clementine targets Eva and Owen, it’s on. ESTEP weaves us a Night of Blood & Badassery. All Gin’s gang gets in on the fun before the night is over. And for the first time, I wanted to give Bria a high-five.

DEADLY STING had everything we’ve come to expect from ESTEP with added hope and promise of revenge. You are left wondering, Who or What wicked is this way coming? ESTEP has me primed and pumped to get to HEART OF VENOM. BUT I wanted to shake Gin a bit in her moments of yo-yoing between hope and disappointment. Just freaking tell Owen how hurt you are and how much you fiercely love him.

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[Audiobook] Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Night Huntress #7
Published January 2014 by Avon Books
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert | Blackstone Audio
343 pages | 8 hours 41 minutes
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Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance | Urban Fantasy
Series: Halfway to the Grave | One Foot in the GraveAt Grave’s End  | Destined for an Early Grave | This Side of the Grave | One Grave at a Time | Up From the Grave
Source:  Library
Rating: Liked It

There’s always one more grave to dig.

Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death…because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear— will be hovering on the edge of the grave. (Source: Goodreads)

When we left ONE GRAVE AT A TIME, we knew Madigan’s agenda would be revealed here. But I don’t think we realized how far reaching it was going to be. The whole mess will have you cursing the freaking Ghoul & Vampire counsels along with government cover-ups.

You’ll get plenty of what you’ve come to expect…action-packed and fun dialogue. Probably the only thing that irritated me was Cat & Bone’s lack of TRUST. I thought we were finally getting beyond it, but this time it almost brought the tears. The secondary characters, especially Ian, were in their full-blown glory. They definitely reminded us that it wasn’t just our love of Cat & Bones that brought us back book after book.

My final thoughts were…interesting finale. It was a solid ending with twists and turns. It provided us a solid surface to leave Cat & Bones. Hopefully they’ll finally get some peace, but leaves you thinking that there is more adventure in their future.

As much as I’ve enjoyed reading FROST’s words, I didn’t even hesitate to let TAVIA GILBERT be my guide for the finale. Once I hit play, I was at her mercy. TAVIA captures Cat’s spirit. She is a mix of uncertainty, humor deflecting, saucy, fierce…all the things that make us love her and root for her. Her males are the best. Bones & Ian are the most fun with their alpha exerting & racy thoughts. Spade & Vlad have a battle-harden warrior calm. Each voice is distinct, memorable & full all the character FROST poured into their creation. Overall well done. FROST & GILBERT are a great team for the audiobook lovers out there.

[Audiobook] The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

Joe Ledger #2
Published May 2010 by Griffin
Narrated by Ray Porter | Blackstone Audio
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Genre: Adult Thriller
Series: Patient Zero | The Dragon Factory | The King of Plagues | Assassin’s Code | Extinction Machine | Code Zero | Predator One (March 2015) | Kill Switch (2016)
Source: Purchased
Rating: Loved It

Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) go up against two competing groups of geneticists.  One side is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using 21st century technology to continue the Nazi Master Race program begun by Josef Mengele.  Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed, and they’ve drawn first blood.  Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag. (Source: Goodreads)

I was expecting ZOMBIES. JONATHAN MABERRY is a master zombie world builder, but he crafts an equally horrific threat to humanity. If you thought that zombies being unleashed on the capital was bad, now Joe Ledger has to track down Pure Evil. Nazi Doctor throw-backs tinker with everything from the ideal human to Dr. Morrow’s worst nightmare. No one is safe, but knowing Joe is on the job makes me feel better.

RAY PORTER is masterful in this complex world of accents and all levels of crazy. The key is that he captures Ledger’s alpha huskiness with a light inflection to capture his playful nature. He breathes creepy, evil and psychotic into all the crazies that are trying to make sure the Extinction Clock reaches zero. MABERRY and PORTER bring you a modern-day War of the World experience. I expect that I’ll continue the series on audio.

The Audies: APA History Winner Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King

June is Audiobook Month and I’m excited to be apart of the @Audiobook Community’s #audiobook campaign. I have 1 copy of Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King Read by Peter Francis James courtesy of Hachette Audio — winner of #Audies2014 History Audiobook of the Year Award — to giveaway.

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
Published by Harper | Audio by Hachette Audio
Narrated by Peter Francis James | 17 hours 57 minutes

Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suitBrown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.

In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day’s end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.”

And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight—not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall’s NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice. (Source: Goodreads)

Gilbert King has many other books under his belt, but he making a name for himself by shedding light on important moments in the Civil Rights era. While researching his book The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South, Gilbert stumbled upon some of Thurgood Marshall’s correspondence and was instantly intrigued at his resourcefulness and doggedness. He knew that Marshall’s story needed to be told.

Peter Francis James is a famous actor and voice-over artist with over 45 audiobooks to his credit. His backlist includes great classics, like Things Fall Apart and  Old Yeller. He has also lent his voice to the works of Ann Patchett and Sandra Brown.

 

DON’T MISS OUT ON THE GIVEAWAY! I wonder if I can enter my own? The more I read about it on Gilbert King’s website the more I want it for myself. I wish you all luck.

Don’t forget to head over to the Audio Gals tomorrow to enter the Audie NonFiction Giveaway.

 

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

Published May 27, 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books
208 pages
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher | Netgalley
Rating: OK

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it. (Source: Goodreads)

I struggled with this book, whether to mark it a “did-not-finish” or see it to the end. The way Nell tells her story makes it hard to connect with her. It is like an audio diary, even though I was reading the words. When you speak, sentences aren’t always complete. It had this feel, almost like rambling.

Though I struggled with connecting, I witnessed the ramblings give way to pieces falling into place. Watching as someone Nell idolized fall off her pedestal. Then Nell struggle with being perfect to realizing that being uncomfortable and doing what is right was what was needed. And this is what redeemed the book in my mind. Nell has to make the hard decisions to be both vulnerable and strong in order to stop Layla’s downward spiral.

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Take My Breath Away by Christie Ridgway

Cabin Fever #1
Published May 27, 2014 by Harlequin
384 pages
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Genre: Adult Contemporary
Series: Take My Breath Away |
Source: Publisher | Netgalley
Rating: Liked

From USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway comes a sparkling new series set in the California mountains, where Hollywood glamour meets rustic charm, and the sparks fly among the unlikeliest of couples… 

Poppy Walker has a plan to restore the family resort, and she’s sticking to it. So when a good-looking guy with plenty of cash rents one of her half-repaired vacation cabins, she figures he’s just what the handyman ordered. But when a late-winter storm blows through, it takes down some trees, her roof and then…her self-control. Even though she’s been burned before by a wealthy passer-through, she can’t stay away from the brooding but gorgeous stranger in the bungalow next door. 

Former teen idol turned Hollywood exec Ryan Hamilton wants a private place in which to endure his very personal heartbreak. Finally, at this rustic mountain cabin, he has all the seclusion one man could want—until sparks begin to fly with his sexy, formerly chilly landlady. By the time the weather dies down, they’re both hot, bothered and certain they’re still wrong for each other. But there’s no telling how they’ll face the new storm brewing on the horizon…(Source: Goodreads)

I love a great love story in a mountain setting. There is just something about it that exposes your vulnerability and makes you get real with yourself. And the California mountains threw Ryan and Poppy together forcing them to feel beyond their comfort zone. They both sought refuge in the mountains, trying to escape their pasts. Trying to build walls to protect their hearts and heal if they are lucky. But there isn’t anything better than finding love, when you weren’t looking for it.

As much as I like the storyline and the sexy time moments that steamed up my kindle, I just couldn’t quite find the couple’s chemistry. I was actually getting quite a lot of FEELS from Ryan’s brother, Linus, and Charlie. Their side story of a summer fling that couldn’t quite fling the feels it brought had me wanting more.

But RIDGWAY brought it all in the end. As I was grasping for how TAKE MY BREATH AWAY was going to find its HEA, all the FEELS exploded from the page. Hurt. Worry. Anxiety. Relief. Family. Connected. And Heart Wide Open. Nicely Done.

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Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis

Lucky Harbor #8
Published September 2013 by Grand Central
352 pages
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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: Simply Irresistible | The Sweetest Thing  | Head Over Heels Lucky in Love | At Last | Forever and a Day | It Had to be You | Always on My Mind | Once in a Lifetime | It’s in His Kiss (August 2014) | He’s So Fine (September 2014) | One in a Million (October 2014)
Source: Library
Rating: LOVED!

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING

After dropping out of pastry school and messing up her big break on a reality cooking show, Leah Sullivan needs to accomplish something in her life. But when she returns home to Lucky Harbor, she finds herself distracted by her best friend, Jack Harper. In an effort to cheer up Jack’s ailing mother, Dee, Leah tells a little fib – that she and Jack are more than just friends. Soon pretending to be hot-and-heavy with this hunky firefighter feels too real to handle . . .

No-strings attachments suit Jack just fine – perfect for keeping the risk of heartbreak away. But as Jack and Leah break every one of their “just friends” rules, he longs to turn their pretend relationship into something permanent. Do best friends know too much about each other to risk falling in love? Or will Jack and Leah discover something new about each other in a little town called Lucky Harbor? (Source: Goodreads)

I love that this couple is hometown Lucky Harborites. Best Friends growing up. Jack distracted Leah every time her father made her feel less than. Leah was there for Jack when his dad died. Their lives diverged and they both struggle with their dreams and relationships.

Now back in Lucky Harbor being “friendly” isn’t quite the same as the good old days. There is too much baggage and too many “what ifs” in the way. And they both are struggling with what they want to do with their lives and who they want to do it with.

A fireman and a baker melted my heart with all their sweetness. JILL also does a great job laying the interest for the next love connection. Ben & Aubrey, you are next.

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