More Audiobook Adventures

I am now wishlisting books by narrator. I am officially addicted.

Highly recommended….

That would be “highly recommended” as in “read this NOW, dammit, your life is meaningless without this book.”

The Book Thief by Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Narrated by Allan Corduner

I avoided this for years because it’s told from Death’s point of view. I was a dumbass. It’s stunning. From start to finish. I can’t even begin to count how many times I nearly drove off the road trying to bookmark a “holy SHIT, that was good” passage.

It’s one of those books that uses language in an entirely unique way. I kept thinking the title should be “The Word Thief” instead, because Zusak somehow manages to turn seemingly simple words and phrases into characters in their own right. Just read the prologue in the sample, you’ll see what I mean.

Continue reading

Audiobook Angst: Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (audiobook)

  • Title: Flowers from the Storm
  • Author:  Laura Kinsale
  • Narrator: Nicholas Boulton
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Avon, 1992
  • Source: Purchased ($2.99 ebook, $3.49 audiobook)
  • Length: 565 pages (19 hours)
  • Trope(s): Sheltered Spinster, Dukish Duke, Evil In-Laws, ANGST ANGST AND MORE ANGST (did I mention the ANGST?)
  • Quick blurb: Sheltered Quaker woman feels called to help a notorious (but brilliant) duke when she finds him wrongfully imprisoned in her uncle’s asylum.
  • Quick review: Go away and leave me alone. I’m still swooning.
  • Grade: A- for story, A+ for narration

 “It was an Opening,” she whispered.

 “It was…you,” he said.

OH. MY. GOD. You people weren’t kidding about this book. Good lord. It’s going to take me months to recover my equilibrium, and god help whatever books I’m reading and listening to next.

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (original 1992 cover)The minus on the story grade is for the slight lag in the pacing after the [NO SPOILERS], and I wondered about Maddie being called “Duchess” instead of “Your Grace,” and I couldn’t figure out why her father didn’t play more of a role in her spiritual conundrum, but then I had to replay the last chapter three times because, you know, OH. MY. GOD.

[Gimme a sec, I need to swoon again: *~*SWOON*~* <thud>]

Sorry, where was I? With the wrong narrator, this audiobook would have been a disaster of epic proportions. Nicholas Boulton captured Jervaulx’s anger and anguish — and Maddy’s longing and confusion — so bloody brilliantly I had my headphones on all night for four nights straight. And I stayed up until 3 o’clock this morning and I don’t care if I fall asleep at my desk and drool on my keyboard.

These characters, and all their lovely, glorious angst, will live with me — and I can’t think of much higher praise for an author than that.

Naughty Norsemen: Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

  • Title: Kiss of Pride
  • Author: Sandra Hill
  • Series: Deadly Angels, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, PNR
  • Publisher: Avon, April 2012
  • Source: Public library ($4.74 ebook)
  • Length: 309 pages
  • Trope(s): Vikings!
  • Quick blurb: Vikings! Vampires! Angels! Time Travel! Satan’s Minions Host a Sin Cruise! Home Improvement!
  • Quick review: An utterly goofy and stupidly entertaining read.
  • Grade: A-

“Oh my God! It has a halo.”

He jerked to a sitting position and glanced down to his cockstand, which resembled a fat standing candle sitting in a circle of light. Breathing a sigh of relief…he said, “That’s not a halo. It’s just the moon hitting off that round mirror over there and reflecting back here.”

“If you say so.” She was clearly unconvinced. “I think it’s kind of cute, that you would have a halo around your penis.”

Cute? A man does not want his cock to be cute. “It is not a halo.”

She leaned forward to study it closer. “Let’s see if you taste holy.”

HOLY CRAP, this was fun. ALL CAPS FUN, I TELL YOU.

Continue reading

Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

  • Title: Tigerland
  • Author: Sean Kennedy
  • Series: Tigers & Devils, Book 2
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ (M/M)
  • Publisher: Dreamspinner Press, October 2012
  • Source: Amazon ($6.99 ebook)
  • Length: 295 pages
  • Trope(s): Established Relationship, Smartass Hero, Celebrity Athlete Hero, Beta Hero (x2!), Evil Ex
  • Quick blurb: Just as their lives are moving beyond the celebrity-coming-out scrutiny, an attention-whore asshole ex resurfaces to prey on every insecurity.
  • Quick review: I think everyone should read this book. But first read Tigers & Devils. And then read them both again because they’re THAT GOOD.
  • Grade: A

I reached forward and grabbed Dec’s hand. It pulled him back a little, and he turned, surprised. Then he smiled, a smile so full of love and tenderness it seemed to be brighter than everything around us — the white sand, the sun reflecting off the surface of the waves — it could envelop me and swallow me whole. The mantra I often repeat to myself in one of these rare moments of PDA begins: This is for those times when I want to take his hand, or he wants to take mine, but we don’t feel safe enough. This is for those times other couples get to take for granted, but we have to snatch in limited amounts when they become available to us. This is for those times when I can’t do such a simple thing as hold the hand of Dec as the tiniest gesture of affection and to show him how much I love him.

Simon is the best wanky smartass EVER and Dec is a saint for putting up with him, and I want every couple who feels ashamed or afraid to have lovely intimate moments like these and big fat happily ever afters. Holy CRAP, I love these guys.

One-Quote Review: Bite by Jenny Lyn

Bite by Jenny Lyn

  • Title: Bite
  • Author: Jenny Lyn
  • Series: Heated Measures, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotica
  • Publisher: Etopia Press, November 2012
  • Source: Provided by the author (99¢ ebook)
  • Length: 30 pages
  • Trope(s): Smartass Heroine, Food, Tattoos
  • Quick blurb: Smartass Heroine (did I mention the heroine is a SMARTASS?)  gets into hot water* with the instructor of her cooking class.
  • Quick review: Thirty pages of glorious smartassitude and stupidly hot smexing.
  • Grade: A

…My spine straightened at the scolding, but my mouth did what it knew best. “Well, that’s just a waste of perfectly good bourbon, if you ask me.”

…Crisis averted, he’d walked away, leaving me confused, frustrated, but still in possession of my eyebrows and a massive lady boner. I was hot for my teacher. The pork chops could go to hell.

..He flipped the chalkboard over. I read the intimidating words “Artichoke Soufflé,” and before I could perform the rare task of censoring myself, I blurted, “Oh, now you’re just fucking with us.”

…His gaze drifted down to my chest, stopping on the spot where I’d used a blue Sharpie to add the word “Me” behind “Bite,” the name of his restaurant. His eyes flicked back up to my face, staying there as he announced, “Class is cancelled for tonight, ladies.”

So, to hell with my stupid “One-Quote” format. That was all from TWO PAGES from the BEGINNING of this novella, and THEN it started in with the sexy times and I just about LOST IT. I don’t know what “it” was, specifically, but something down below was definitely off its usual axis when that Bite Me apron came off.

You’ll just have to READ IT YOURSELF to find out about the artichokes and the tattoos.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

*Yes, I KNOW that was totally cheesy and ridiculously obvious, but I DID IT ANYWAY. Once again proving why I’m a reviewer, not an author.

Dear Santa….

I have been a very good girl this year. Please bring me ALL THE BOOKS.

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David E. Coke and Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens: A History
by David E. Coke and Alan Borg

These are just a few highlights. My full list is available on Pinterest for your convenience. And in the interests of efficiency gift cards are welcome as well.

Love, Kelly

The Holiday Haul of Half-Off Harlequins

I hate you people. This is ALL YOUR FAULT.

The Spy Who Saved Christmas by Dana Marton Spy Hard by Dana Marton Protective Measures by Dana Marton

Back to the Good Fortune Diner by Vicki Essex The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry Canadian Mounties Bundle by Kate Bridges

All Roads Lead Home by Christine Johnson A Dangerous Seduction by Patricia Frances Rowell Forbidden Lady by Anne Herries

Warriors in Winter by Michelle Willingham Virgin Slave, Barbarian King by Louise Allen A Stranger's Touch by Anne Herries

The Alchemist's Daughter by Elaine Knighton Ice Maiden by Debra Lee Brown Unicorn Vengeance by Claire Delacroix

Hero count:

5 Mounties, 4 Vikings, 3 spies, 2 knights,
bodyguard, barbarian, mechanic, chieftain,
engineer, earl, farmer & Templar soldier

Let’s take a closer look at that last one, shall we?

Unicorn Vengeance by Claire Delacroix - original 1995 cover

Drawn Together By Destiny

Genevieve de Pereille’s music echoed in the hollows of Wolfram’s heart,
pulling him into an unfamiliar world where his knightly vows faded
to a distant murmur. The secret heir to an ancient legacy,
she held him fast with the timeless power of love.

With silver hair and fierce pale eyes, Wolfram stirred something raw
yet beautiful deep inside Genevieve’s very being.
Yet the handsome warrior was responsible for her brother’s death,
and she swore he would never escape her righteous vengeance.

And just in case you didn’t catch the subliminal messaging:

Unicorn Vengeance - original 1995 cover (sharpened)

Not just a unicorn – a STARRY UNICORN

Medieval Mania: A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel

Way back in September/October, before the World Series of Romance, I was immersed in a period-specific historical binge and never got around to reviewing any of them. To remedy that appalling lapse in blogging etiquette….

Let the Medieval Mania begin!

Medieval Mania

We’ll embark upon our odyssey through the Middle Ages with the book I’m using as The Gold Standard for medieval romances. No, I haven’t read Roberta Gellis yet; I have about 17 of hers in my TBR and once I start one, I’ll have to read them all.

ANYWAY. This book was one of my first Kindle impulse purchases, and I’m pretty sure it was my gateway drug to the evil realm of Romancelandia. (The “mania” in the theme wasn’t chosen on a whim, trust me.)

A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel

  • Title: A Bed of Spices
  • Author: Barbara Samuel
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Harper Monogram, September 1993; self-published, October 2010
  • Source: Amazon, 99¢ promo ($2.99 ebook, free through Kindle Lending)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Trope(s): Star-Crossed Lovers, Angst, Reunited
  • Quick blurb: Nobleman’s daughter and Jewish student fight for love in medieval Germany
  • Quick review: Practically perfect in every way.
  • Grade: A+

He did not kiss her, but his eyes held hers as if he had cast some spell, and in his face, she saw the fever of his need. “For this, I have been waiting,” he said in a low, raw voice. “For this, I would die.”

This is one of those books that I feel I could never do justice in a review, other than to say it was BOOK TRANCE from beginning to end. And it was even better the second time when I was reading it more critically with a reviewer’s eye.

A Bed of Spices is a perfectly balanced mix of history, humor, passion, romance, angst, atmosphere, characterization and story-telling. I’m sure I left out other good stuff, but it’s all in there.

For me, this is the epitome of a Star-Crossed Lovers story — and it’s anything but typical. Instead of the usual noble/peasant or bad boy/good girl pairing, we get a couple equally matched in wealth and intelligence, held apart only the yellow star on his tunic.

Samuel brings Frederica and Solomon together unexpectedly:

He was beautiful, as beautiful as a fallen angel or a pagan god. And he stared back at her as if he could not believe she stood there, as if he knew her, as if he were as dazzled as she.

…and lets their relationship grow with some innocent flirting:

“You did not tell me where you came by your ideas,” he prompted.

“I came by mine as you did yours—by thinking.”

He grinned. “Such a strange pastime for a girl.”

…and some not-so-innocent temptation:

In the silent gray fog, they were alone. The knowledge rippled between them as they stood face-to-face, a fearsome and dangerous thing…. For a moment, he held her eyes and she felt the heated pulse of his maleness through the cold mist; sensed once again that she was not alone in her wish to be less polite and more tangled.

Our almost-happy couple fights it as best they can:

He would not stray from within the walls of Strassburg itself. Surely, if he had no glimpse of her, this lunacy would burn itself clean. For, dear God, it must….

…until they both find the courage to admit what they have is more than physical attraction:

A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel - original 1993 MMPB cover

Original 1993 cover
(historical accuracy?
what’s that?)

Her free hand lit in his hair. For a moment, she said nothing, only stroked his head silently as he knelt before her. At last she said quietly, “The priest brought me the Bible last night, as instruction.”

She sank down to her knees, to look at him face-to-face. “I made a confession to him that I had spent many hours thinking of a certain man in ways that were not chaste.”

Solomon lifted his fingers, seared by this admission, but she caught his hand before he could touch her. “Father Goddard said there was more to God’s word than prayers,” she said, “and he brought me the Bible to read, with a place specially marked.”

Her eyes softened. “It was,” she said with an ironic smile, “the Song of Solomon.”

“Ahhh.” He closed his eyes and leaned forward to press his forehead against hers, feeling as if he might weep. “And yet, this is impossible, Rica. We cannot love each other.”

“I know.”

For a long moment, they simply remained as they were, their fingers tangled, foreheads pressed together, all else forgotten.

Ohhhh, that forehead-to-forehead thing gets me EVERY TIME. *~*happysigh*~*

With the help of a mutual friend, they make their own vows:

She felt dizzy, as if she were standing in the center of the world and all else would slip into harmony as long as Solomon held her.

He rocked her silently, holding her almost painfully close. “It does not seem an evil thing,” he said with quiet wonder. “It seems as if I have held you thus for all of time, that I should go on doing so forever.”

But alas, we know it can’t go on forever. The author quietly lets the internal angst and conflict seep in….

“Do not speak it, Rica, I beg you.” His eyes were bleak. “There is so little joy in any life, I will take this time with you until I must go.” He smoothed a lock of hair from her face. “In our old age, we’ll remember and be glad.”

…and then it grows:

Two months ago, he’d never seen the woman who now obsessed him. All the years of discipline, all the prudence and resistance he had practiced had come to naught in the face of his longing for Rica. He was ready to storm the castle to carry her away, ready to make a fool of himself to gain a glimpse of her in the bailey. For what? The most he could hope for was a month or two of stolen afternoons, a kiss here and there, and a laugh in a glade. He could never lie with her, sleep next to her, walk in a public square. He could never sit with her over a meal and talk of the day’s work, or take her hand in old age.

…and it festers:

From the beginning, Solomon had known there was no future for them. From the beginning, he had fought against loving her. Now he found he could not bear the thought of another man touching her, when he — who loved her — had barely tasted the edges of her desire.

…until the inevitable external conflicts tear them violently apart:

There were no more tears left in her, only a wild, searing grief. Every corner of her was filled with it, an emotion black and sticky as tar. She could taste it against her tongue and smelled it thick in her nostrils. It held her, immobile, slumped against the wall in the darkness.

But then we finally get the HEA, and it’s WORTHY EVERY MINUTE of all that glorious angst.

“All is well, my love,” he whispered. “All is well.”

In summary: I think everyone should read this book because it is a very good book. And if all those excerpts didn’t convince you, I have no hope for you. I’ll just let you wander back to your pathetic alpha heroes and doormat heroines. Good luck with that.

Next up: One-Quote Reviews for a few more by Barbara Samuel (guess what? I LOVE THEM ALL)