Tag Archives: ilona andrews

Audio Book Madness

10 Nov

The Collector N RobertsRock Chick K Ashley

 

I have to admit to being a little bit late to the whole audio book thing. I only started a few years ago when the traffic and commute to work started becoming unbearable and I needed something to take my mind off the daily grind. I THEN discovered just this year that I could download these books straight onto my phone and listen to books WHILE DOING THE HOUSEWORK. My house has never been so clean and I now clean up (semi) cheerfully while someone tells me a story.

As a sidenote, I also like the fact that now I can listen with earphones and therefore don’t have to turn the volume way down during sex scenes because of the very real fear that some stranger will hear the moaning and groaning and look at me like I’m a freak…

I’ve written before about my absolute love of Ilona Andrews and how much I adore the Kate Daniels series- in both the written and audio formats. Renee Raudman, the narrator of this series is so fantastic and I got real book hangover just from listening to these books. After finishing the last book in the series I went in to mourning for a day and then was like a junkie scrounging for the same kind addictive hit. I  decided to go look for a Kristen Ashley book to go for something very different but also has that cracktastic quality and I’m so glad I did!

Audible gave me a big discount on the price of the books since I had already purchased the Kindle version so off I went into Rock Chick land. As Shirleen would say- Oooowee! I glommed onto these audio books and listened to all 8 in one month. Yup, you heard it, all EIGHT in ONE MONTH.

Susannah Jones, the narrator of the books, was very good with handling all the different characters and voices and was a younger, happier sounding narrator which fit into the whole vibe of the books perfectly. She was excellent at injecting the fun neurosis into the female characters- especially their panicked self-talk when they know they’ve gotten into trouble. I have to admit that coming off Renee Raudman’s narration and the way she did all the different voices so distinctly I sometimes felt that Susanna didn’t differentiate characters as well especially between books but that’s more about how good Renee was than any sort of lack on Susanna’s part.

I again went into mourning after finishing the last book, Rock Chick Revolution but cheered myself up trying to decide who of the Hot Bunch was my favourite. Book boyfriend fantasies aside, the next book I put into my phone was The Collector by Nora Roberts performed by Julia Whelan. Props to this reader for doing really good guys’ voices. There is nothing more distracting than a girl trying to sound like a guy and doing it badly but Julia did it so well it added to the story rather than detracting from it.

I am such a fan of Nora’s work but have to admit that I when I first read it I liked this book but didn’t LOVE it the way I did say, Birthright or Angels Fall or Naked in Death. The funny thing is that I am halfway through the book now and am utterly drawn into the story in a way that I wasn’t when I read it. It’s again proof positive that you pick up things listening to a book that you may have missed reading it.

So it looks like this love affair of mine with audio books although a late bloom may end up being an enduring one. I have only ever listened to books I’ve already read so am interested in seeing what happens when I listen to a book before reading it. Do you have any recommendations for audio books?

Books I Was Reading When I Should Have Been Writing July 2014

15 Jul

Waiting on You K Higgins A murder of crows It happened one wedding Magic Bites I Andrews Then Came You

I’ve been on a bit of a contemporary and paranormal kick lately and can’t seem to drum up any enthusiasm for historicals although I have a fair few in my kindle just waiting to be read. That said, I’ve read a few really, really, really (REALLY) good books lately:

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James– First of all it really must be said- SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE! This book was amazing! I cannot begin to recommend it highly enough. For those of you who may not have discovered her yet, Julie James is an author of contemporary romances usually centring around the lawyers of the US Attorney’s office and the FBI agents that they work with. Although most of her books are excellent this one had a little special something going for it that truly blew me away. The way JJ wrote the slow build romance between the hero and the heroine who by the way started out disliking each other and then liking each other very much was just clever and beautiful. Sidney, the heroine in this story completely rocked as a kick ass investment banker. She’s a strong powerful woman who knows her stuff (work wise at least) and she OWNS it. Vaughn is a tough, alpha FBI agent who is funny, smart and knows himself really well. Both of them, even when they were at their bitchiest to each other were supremely likeable and the dialogue between them was so sharp and funny. It has to be said again- I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop- I am a huge romance fan girl but I am also a big fantasy/ urban fantasy fan. The books that I love are the ones that meld the two together seamlessly. This is not the case for the OTHERS series of Anne Bishop as it’s still really light on the romance, although you can see the build up to it and just that build up is enough to give me the tingles. But you know what? This is another series that I cannot recommend highly enough. This is the second book in the series following the first book, Written in Red. The world building in this series is done very well. Interestingly enough from a purely objective standpoint, AB does not give us anything ground breakingly original. There are vampires and shifters and elementals and there are the prophets and humans and everyone is just trying to get along and live together. Enter a young woman who is trying to make her way in the world and you have a pretty familiar trope. Familiar though does not in any way mean ordinary. This series for me is proof that it’s not all about the story but how the story is told. In the hands of a skilful writer, the familiar becomes new and cracktastic. There is action and magic and hot shapeshifters all in a very interesting world. I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series.

Then Came You by Jill Shalvis– I went on a bit of a Jill Shalvis reading spree and read the last 2 books of both her Lucky Harbour and her Animal Magnetism series in a week. If you like your contemporary romances with a lot of humor in them you have to read her. Her Lucky Harbour series is set in a small town in the NorthWest while her Animal Magnetism books centre around the lives of a veterinary practice in a small town in Idaho. You can’t pass by JS when you want a feel good, small town romance. Of the books I read my favourite has to be Then Came You- the story of Emily and Wyatt. The laughs start with the premise of the story- what do you do when you show up to your first day at a new job and realise your new boss is that hot guy that you had a one night stand with? The one that you thought you would never see again? There were several laugh out loud moments and anything with a bunch of animals in them can never go wrong for me. The conflict was largely internal and had to do with both Emily and Wyatt having to learn to bend and let go of preconceived notions of what they want out of life. It’s a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me for this one. As an aside, I follow Jill Shalvis on Facebook and twitter and she is as funny and crazy in real life as her characters. Which leads me to another crazy writer that I like who is a very good friend of hers…

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins– When I want funny contemporaries that will make me laugh and then make my chest hurt while giving me tingles throughout the rest of my body there are a few authors I turn to: Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Susan Elizabeth Philipps and Kristan Higgins. KH writes hilarious contemporary romances with witty dialogue. Her latest in her Blue Heron series is a great addition to a really fun series. One of her great skills is in writing heroes who have issues but never cross over into Oh-God-Get-OVER-Yourself-Already territory. Colleen O’Rourke is the part owner of the local bar in her small town. As the resident bartender, she is also the resident matchmaker who sets other people up successfully but mysteriously doesn’t manage to do it for herself until her first and only love pops back in town and into her life. Shades of Emma this book is another example of a familiar trope made entertaining and different in the hands of a skilful writer.

Kate Daniels audiobooks by Ilona Andrews– This entry has already gone on for way too long and writing about all these books that I love has made my heart start pounding so hard in my chest I’m scared I’ll give myself an aneurysm if I continue but I simply cannot let this entry end without talking about the Kate Daniels audiobooks. I’ve written about Ilona Andrews and how much I love this series before. I thought I couldn’t love this series any more than I already do but hot damn was I WRONG. I thought I could listen to these books in traffic/while on the treadmill/while cleaning to keep my mind entertained. I purposely chose books that I already read since I would be doing other things and didn’t want to be too distracted. Instead, I became obsessed (obsessed I tell you!) with these books all over again. A wonderful side benefit is that my house has never been cleaner! It made the monotony of doing chores SO much easier and just for that I could build a shrine in gratitude to Ilona Andrews . I’d already read all the books in the series more than once because I love them. Listening to the books instead of reading them gave me a whole new perspective though and there were bits that I missed while reading that suddenly became more apparent while I was listening. While I’m talking about these books, I have to give props to Renee Raudman who is Uh-MAY-Zing!!! I now hear HER voice in my head when I read the books. Her “voices” are so distinct and never overdone or exaggerated. Even if you’ve already read this series do give these audiobooks a try you won’t regret it!

RFG Recommends: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Series

9 Feb

Magic Rises

I recently bought Magic Rises which is Book 6 in the Kate Daniels series and because of this I went back and re-read the 5 books in the series that came before (as you do). I am now totally kicking myself for not adding Ilona Andrews to my first autobuy authors list as I love their writing.
(Quick sidenote: for those who may not know, no the use of their instead of her wasn’t a massive grammatical error. Ilona Andrews is actually the pen name for a husband and wife writing team, how cool is that? )
The Kate Daniels series is the series that automatically springs to mind when talking about IA. It’s a fantastic urban fantasy about a mercenary named (you guessed it) Kate Daniels. I don’t want to put too much detail in as I don’t want to inadvertently spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t started the series yet, but I CAN tell you that Kate is a totally kick ass, strong female lead. What I love about her is that IA manages to make her strong and kick ass without crossing over into the mad at the world, ornery for the sake of being ornery stereotype. Kate is strong and has been through a hell of a lot, yet manages to be kind and well, likeable.
The Kate Daniels World is a post-apocalyptic type world with a twist. Technology in this world is no longer reliable due to “waves” of magic that suddenly come and go. People have to adapt to having tech one minute and then not having anything work in the next during a magic wave. This applies to everything including lights, cars, phones and even guns. Because of this folks in KD world Atlanta have two of everything to ensure that they have things that work during tech and during magic such as regular electric lights and magic lights, guns and swords, normal cars and cars that run on magic- the world building is fascinating and provides plenty of avenues for IA to stress out their poor hapless characters.
But what I love about this series is the writing. The stories and plot points just flow very naturally and nothing feels forced or contrived. All the characters, even the secondary ones are interesting and multi-dimensional. My favourite part though has to be the dialogue. I’m a big dialogue and character girl and this series (and the other series of this author) is GOLD when it comes to witty dialogue.
I love the romance between Kate and her man (who I will not specify as there may be a FEW people who may not know who it is). My only complaint as a romance reader is that in some of the books I would have liked a little more on the romance- but that’s really nitpicking.
Magic Rises is my favourite book so far of the series. It’s hard to get into too much of the storyline without massive spoilers but let’s just say there was plenty of magic and good old fashioned sword fighting and ass kicking by Kate and the cast of secondary characters who are just as big a presence in the book. It had that perfect blend of romance and action that great urban fantasy books have: the relationship stuff that made me tingle (and at one point I burst out laughing in my darkened bedroom surprising my poor baby girl in the cot next to me) and oh my goodness so much edge of your seat action I stayed up WAY past my bedtime finishing it. It’s an A for me for this book and this series generally. What’s your favourite Kate Daniels book?

December 2013 Reviews and Recommendations: Ilona Andrews, Kristen Ashley, Kristan Higgins, Suzanne Johnson and Anne Bishop

31 Dec

The Christmas season was crazy busy this year what with my other half being out of the country and with me being alone with my two toddlers. You would think I would be too busy to read and in a way I probably didn’t read as many books as I would have if hubby had been here as I had to do all the housework and Christmas shopping etc on my own. However, because I really felt the need to decompress at the end of the day, I found that no matter how tired I was I couldn’t NOT read. Television just didn’t cut it for me. The only thing that got my brain to slow down and take a breath was to read. Good, bad or ugly it didn’t matter, I had to get in a solid half hour of reading at night in order to fall asleep. That being said, the bad books probably were more helpful in the falling asleep part as the good ones would keep me awake all night because I just had to finish!
After a totally kick ass November in terms of new releases I found not as many books to get excited about in December. I re-read all my Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniel books and fell in love with them all over again. This is a great urban fantasy series, with great dialogue, a seriously kick ass heroine and fascinating world building. I love the romance between Kate and Curran although I find the series more of an urban fantasy with a little romance thrown in rather than the other way around.
I also read the latest Kristen Ashley Fantasyland book, Broken Dove. I love this author and am constantly entertained by her books. This wasn’t one of my favourites of hers and I have to damn it with faint praise and say it was okay. I really loved the first three books though so I would still recommend the series. In direct contrast to the Ilona Andrews books, I find this series to be more of a romance with a fantasy element.
I started Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series with the first book, Royal Street. I was attracted to this book as it wasn’t about shapeshifters or vampires although they do make appearances in the books- this series is about wizards. The first book didn’t have much romance in it although to be fair there is a little triangle shaping up quite nicely. The world building and the premise were very interesting. It was good enough to have me buying the 2nd and 3rd books in the series so I can see how things turn out.
In terms of contemporary romances I also read a lot of Kristan Higgins’s back list. Although I found her older books to be borderline chick lit I find that I really enjoy the voice of this author. Her writing is consistently good and her characters likeable, self-deprecating and funny. I would recommend her to fans of Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis.
My favourite book of the month has to be Anne Bishop’s Written in Red. Anne Bishop is best known for her Black Jewel books which are firmly in the fantasy romance category. Written in Red is an urban fantasy romance. She writes about the Terra Indigene or Others who are children of the earth or earth natives. This term refers to a whole raft of supernaturals such as the sanguinati, the shapechangers and the elementals (these are basically your vampires, shape changers and weather controllers but slightly different as all authors like to put their own spin on things). These Others are the superior race of the world and it is only because they allow humans to co-exist with them that humans are living on their land at all. The main character of the book is Meg, who is a human who is running away from other humans and ended up with the Others. I was a little uncomfortable in the beginning with how clear it was that the Others consider humans to be MEAT. Again, other authors touch on this but Anne Bishop really made it clear that humans are food to these Others down to human meat being sold at the local butcher! This book was one I could NOT put down and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.