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The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

The Hiding Place - C.J. Tudor

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I didn't like this one nearly as much as I had hoped I would but I did like it. I absolutely loved C.J. Tudor's first book, The Chalk Man, so I was really eager to read her newest book. This was not a bad book by any means but for me, it was missing that essential spark that I had hoped to find.

This is really Joe's story. Joe goes back to teach at his hometown high school. This town doesn't hold the best memories for him but he needs a job and there is one available at his old high school so he does what he needs to do. It is obvious right from the start that Joe knows how to work a situation and can fake it when needed. Joe has a few, okay more than a few, gambling debts so he is in desperate need of a job.

As a reader, you know that Joe has some history in this town, including whatever happened to his sister, Annie, but it takes a long time to find out exactly what happened. This book is told both in the present day and the past. I felt like a lot more of the book was set in the present day but I liked the story from the past a lot more. As the story came together and things were revealed, I just never felt all that surprised. I wanted something in this story to really shake things up but it seemed somewhat predictable for me.

I had a hard time connecting to Joe and really all of the characters in this book. I never felt like Joe could be trusted and he really just felt like a mess to me. I really have no problem liking flawed characters and often feel that they feel more realistic but Joe just seemed to be missing that redeeming quality that I needed to see. All of the characters in this book felt rather flat to me.

I think that a lot of readers will like this one a lot more than I did. I was looking forward to a dark story which I got but unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the characters and felt that the story was somewhat predictable. I did like the book and plan to read more from C.J. Tudor just as soon as it is available.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. I never felt like the story completely grabbed me and found the book pretty easy to set aside. I was actually more interested in the parts of the book that were set in the past. I did not like Joe or any of the characters but I didn't hate them either. Unfortunately, this book really didn't make me feel much of anything. I was mildly interested in how things would work out but the big reveal at the end didn't do much for me.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend - Stephen Chbosky

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book! This is a big book and somewhat intimidating due to its length. It is a big story though and I felt like all of those pages really were necessary. I have not read this author's previous novel but as soon as I saw this book, I knew that I needed to get my hands on a copy. My instincts were right and this book ended up being a wonderful experience.

Christopher and his mother, Kate, begin this journey in the middle of the night fleeing Kate's abusive boyfriend. They end up in a small town in Pennsylvania where Kate starts a job at the nursing home and Christopher starts making friends at school. They live in a hotel room and Christopher appreciates all of the small things his mother does for him. Then Christopher goes missing for an entire week and everything changes.

This is Christopher's story but it is also the story of all of the town's residents. We get to learn the backgrounds, the secrets, and motivations for all of the key players in town. Each piece of knowledge adds to the overall story and I loved it when a piece of the puzzle snapped into place. I thought that the story was really imaginative and there were some pretty amazing twists that I never saw coming. The cast of characters was quite large and very well done.

Christine Lakin did a fabulous job with the narration. She handled a very large cast of characters incredibly well with each character sounding unique. I thought that she added a lot of excitement into the story as well as the character's emotions. She has a very pleasant voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time. This was my first experience in listening to her narration work and I was very impressed.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought this was a very well done story that was entertaining from beginning to end. I am thinking it might finally be time to give The Perks of Being a Wallflower at try.

I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing and I borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this book. I have not read The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I had the opportunity to look at this book with fresh eyes. Chbosky is most definitely a fine storyteller. There is a whole lot going on in this book and I loved it when a piece of the overall puzzle would snap into place. I felt fully immersed in this world and wanted nothing more than to see Christopher come out of everything better than when he went in. I listened to the audiobook and I thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with this story.

Vamped by David Sosnowski

Vamped - David Sosnowski

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I am always looking for a well-done vampire story and the cover of this book really grabbed my attention. I have had it sitting on my shelves for quite a while and even featured the book on a Books from the Backlog post a couple of years ago. I am so glad that I pulled it off my shelves and finally gave it a try because it was just as good as I had hoped it would be.

I have read a number of vampire stories and this one is a little different. Marty became a vampire during World War II and has seen the world change quite a bit. Marty and some of his friends decided to increase the population of vampires many years ago, although he doesn't share that information, and vampires now rule the world, and humans are kept only to be used. Things didn't work out quite as he had planned and with vampires running the world everyone is back at work and the world is somewhat normal, although without humans and all of their needs. Everything changes when Marty meets 6-year-old Isuzu Trooper though.

Marty decides to keep Isuzu safe instead of having her as a snack, which was his first impulse. If anyone ever finds out about her, she will be in terrible danger. This book covers quite a number of years and we get to see Isuzu and Marty learn to live with and trust each other. Since the world is full of vampires, there aren't any kids around anymore and Marty realizes how precious she really is. These two don't always get along and they both have a lot to learn but I enjoyed getting to see them both build a life.

Marty is a great character. He has done some pretty violent things and I appreciated the fact that we do learn his history during the course of this story. He doesn't always have the right impulses but he does try. In a lot of ways, Marty felt like a normal person just trying to figure out what to do with a kid that suddenly becomes his responsibility. Isuzu was also a wonderful character. She lived with her mother before living with Marty and has seen the world very differently. She was rather stubborn at times and didn't make things easy for Marty. I really thought that these two were a great match.

I would recommend this book to others. This is not your typical vampire story which is one of the things that I really enjoyed about it. I liked the fact that there was a thread of humor throughout the story which felt natural for the characters. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

Initial Thoughts
I have had this book on my shelf for a very long time and I am so glad that I finally read it. I really liked Martin and enjoyed getting to know him through his history and the parts of his life that we see over the course of this story. He really grew over throughout the book. I enjoyed all of the other key characters and really liked the fact that there was a thread of humor throughout the book.

Book source: Purchased

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Whisper to Me - Nick Lake

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was very well done. I have had this book in my review pile for years now but for some reason never picked it up. I decided to finally give it a try and went into the story rather blindly since the only thing that I remembered about the book was that it was a YA story. It turns out that this is a story about dealing with mental illness, grief, romance, and even a bit of a mystery. I am glad that I finally read this emotional story.

This is a rather long book at 544 pages and it tells a big story. I started reading this book as I went to bed and planned to read one chapter before setting it aside to go to sleep. This book is not broken up into chapters like I am used to seeing. The book is broken up into two sections but there are breaks within each of the sections. The story is told as if it were a letter that Cassie is writing to the boy she hopes will give her a second chance.

There is a lot that happens in this book. A lot of those things don't occur until the second half of the story so it would be a bit of a spoiler to discuss those plot points in this review but I did appreciate the way that many later events were foreshadowed in the first part of the book. The first part of the book focuses almost entirely on the evolution of Cassie's mental illness. She describes when the voices start and exactly what they make her do. I felt her anguish and couldn't imagine living with that kind of pain. She has quite the journey as she receives treatment for her condition.

The book also follows Cassie as she deals with moving forward in her life with her illness. We do learn more about her past and the trauma that may have played a part in the development of her condition. We also get to see Cassie making friends and even getting to know the boy that she is writing the letter to. I loved getting to see Cassie having some fun and experiencing some of those typical teenage milestones. The relationship between Cassie and her father wasn't perfect, not at all, but it felt genuine. They both have a lot of pain, and more than a few issues, and don't always know the best way to interact with each other.

I would recommend this book to others. This was quite the emotional journey and I thought that the mental health aspect of the story was very well done. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Nick Lake's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I have had an ARC of this book for a very long time but failed to pick it up until now. I selected a book at random to read one evening and it ended up being this book. I found that my digital ARC was nearly unreadable due to poor formatting so I checked a digital copy out from my local library and didn't look back. I was surprised that the book really isn't broken up into chapters in the way that I am used to but there were some natural breaks for those times that I needed to focus on other things.

I really didn't remember what this book was about when I started reading it but was quickly drawn into Cassie's story. The book is written from Cassie's point of view and presented as a letter to a boy. The main focus of the story is Cassie's struggle with mental illness but it also touches on romance, friendships, and a mystery. I really felt for Cassie and hoped to see things go her way.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten - A.J. Hackwith

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was a great novel! I tend to enjoy books about books and libraries so when I saw this book, I knew that I had to read it. I have read a lot of books that involve libraries but never a library located in Hell. Once I started reading, I was hooked. This was a rather exciting story filled with fantastic characters and I had a fabulous time reading it.

Claire is the Head Librarian in the Unwritten Wing in Hell's Library. Her job is to take care of all of the unwritten works that have yet to be completed. She not only must repair books but sometimes has to track down any characters who may have escaped their stories. Claire, along with her assistant, Brevity, and demon courier, Leto, must retrieve one such character who has not only escaped but has gone off to meet their author. They are able to catch up with the character, Hero, but things quickly get more complicated when they encounter the angel, Ramiel, who believes that they have the Devil's Bible.

This was a book that I liked more and more as I read. The characters are interesting from the beginning but as I really got to know them over the course of the story, I grew to care about them. I think that all of the key characters in this book showed a lot of growth. The story itself was really exciting. There was no limit as to what could happen and I found the entire premise to be incredibly imaginative. The story had a lot of layers and I loved how a character's backstory or a small piece of information could suddenly change everything.

I would recommend this story to others. I thought that this was a very well done and unique fantasy. I fell in love with this group of characters and found the book to be very exciting. I thought it told a very complete story and I was quite satisfied by how everything worked out. This is the first book in the Hell's Library series and I look forward to reading more of the adventures of this group of characters as they protect the books in Hell's Library.

I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group - Ace.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. I thought that the concept was very imaginative and I ended up really liking all of the characters. The story was able to keep me guessing and there were plenty of twists to keep things interesting. I found this to be a very well done story.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death - Caitlin Doughty

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was such an interesting listen! I have been wanting to read this book since I learned of its existence. I find the way that we handle death as humans to be a topic that I never tire from. When I first picked up Caitlin Doughty's debut novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I had my doubts but decided to read a few pages just to see what I thought. I couldn't put it down and it is a book that I frequently recommend to others today. I went into this audiobook with pretty high expectations and I am thrilled that the book was able to meet them.

In this book, the author travels the world to see how death is handled in a variety of cultures. It was a very eye-opening journey for me. I had no idea how little I actually knew about this topic. I thought that in the United States the options for dealing with a loved one's remains consisted of a choice between burial and cremation. I had no idea that in one community, residents have the option of an open-air pyre. Why don't we have this everywhere?

I was amazed by the variety of customs associated with dying. In this book, we see communities that keep the corpses of loved ones with them for rather long periods of time continuing their relationship with the deceased. There were a variety of rituals from around the world explained. Some of the scenes were quite vivid. While I don't think that I want to rush to practice some of the traditions explained in this book, I really liked being able to see how variations of how people around the world look at the process of death. In some ways, I think that a lot of cultures have a much healthier relationship with the dead. They prepare the bodies and care for the dead while in the United States, we are removed from the process leaving it to the professionals.

This book is narrated by the author. I think that she did a great job with the reading of this book. The book covers things and events that the author has seen so I think that she was able to deliver the story in a manner that nobody else would have been able to do. I thought that she had a very pleasant voice and I found it easy to listen to this book for long periods of time. I ended up listening to the entire book in a single day and found that I liked the narration more and more as I made my way through the book.

I would recommend this book to others. I love the way that this author is able to educate others on the process of death and dying in an entertaining manner. I found this book to be quite thought-provoking and I feel like I learned a thing or two. I could easily see myself reading this book again at some point in the future and I can't wait to check out some of the author's other works.

Initial Thoughts
This was really interesting. I think that there are a lot of problems with the way that death is handled in the US. I found some of the practices in other countries were very eye-opening. I am not going to sign up for a lot of the rituals described in this book but it did make me think about what kind of changes I would like to see closer to home. The author did a good job narrating the book.

Book source: Purchased

Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter

Junkyard Cats - Faith Hunter, Khristine Hvam

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. I picked this one up as a freebie on Audible and decided to listen to it right away. Unfortunately by the time I got around to writing my review, I didn't remember enough of the details to put together any kind of halfway decent collection of thoughts. It is a rather short book at just 5 hours of listening time so I decided I would just give it another listen, which is what I did.

While I read and listen to a little bit of just about every genre, I don't tend to read a lot of science fiction. I did appreciate the futuristic world that this story was set in. I liked the technology that was worked into the story. Even the cats in this story were not the normal cats like I have come across in my life. These cats work as a team and treat Shining as their leader. I liked the way that the world-building gradually built over the course of the story with each piece of information adding to the overall world.

I thought that this book was exciting. There was a lot going on and it is obvious from the very beginning that things are looking bad for Shining and the gang. As the story progressed, I realized just how much danger they were really in. I liked the way that the past that brought the characters to this point in their life was worked into the story and I thought that it really helped me get to know and like the characters better.

Khristine Hvam did a fabulous job with the narration. I thought that she did a great job with all of the character voices and was able to add a lot of excitement to the story. She read the story with a very pleasant voice and read at a perfect pace. I think that her performance added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this to be a great story filled with great characters and just the right amount of action. This is the first book in the Junkyard Cats series and I look forward to reading future installments.

Initial Thoughts
This was really well done. I have had Faith Hunter's books on my tbr for years but haven't picked one up before starting this audiobook yesterday. I ended up having a fantastic time with this story. I thought that the premise of the story was very unique and I thought that the world-building was very well done. I thought that the characters were great and I wanted to see Shining Smith come out of the situation she found herself okay. I thought that the narrator really brought the story to life which added to my enjoyment.

Book source: Audible freebie

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

A Bad Day for Sunshine - Darynda Jones

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book! I have been wanting to read Darynda Jones's work for a very long time but just haven't fit it into my reading schedule yet for one reason or another. As soon as I saw this book, I knew that this would be one that I would have to read. I really like the fact that this is the start of a brand new series and that is a very different premise than the books in her popular series. This story hooked me from the beginning and entertained me until the final page.

Sunshine Vicram is the new sheriff in town. She's not really sure how that happened since she didn't even know she was running but that is something that her parents will need to explain. She has moved back home with her daughter, Auri, and hopes to ease herself into her new position but that is not meant to be. Before she knows what is going on, she must lead a search to find a couple of missing teenagers and deal with a few other cases hitting her small town.

I found this to be a rather exciting story. There were several different mysteries that Sunshine had to deal with and I liked how she was able to juggle the workload. I really liked the characters and appreciated getting to know about their past slowly as the story progressed. I was delighted to not only follow Sunshine on her adventures but to also get the opportunity to see things from her daughter's point of view. I really liked that the characters in this story had a wonderful sense of humor. I thought that the added humor helped to offset some of the more serious moments.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I found this to be a wonderful start to a very promising series. I fell in love with the characters and was captivated by the rather complex mystery. I look forward to reading future installments in this series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Macmillan - St. Martin's Press via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this one. I feel like I would have flown through this book if the world wasn't such a strange place right now. I found this book to be a great escape. I loved Sunshine, Auri, and the rest of the characters. I really liked the fact that there were several mysteries in this book happening at the same time. The story was able to keep me guessing and I appreciate the fact that there was a decent amount of humor sprinkled throughout. I am looking forward to reading more of this series in the future.

A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

A Plague of Giants - Kevin Hearne

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I ended up really enjoying this book. I have had the book for a while but was a bit intimidated by its size. Since I am spending almost all of my time at home with the current health crisis, I decided that this was the perfect time to finally tackle this story. This is a very different book than Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles and I enjoyed seeing him take on high fantasy. It did feel like a very dense story and I felt like it took me longer to read than a lighter story of the same length might have. I had a good time with the book in the end.

I liked the way the story came together. There are a lot of points of view in this book but they are all shared through the tales from a bard. The bard, Fintan, takes on the persona of each individual as he shares their story. I will admit that it was a lot to keep track of at the start of the book but as I continued to read, I got to know each character and started looking forward to learning more of their story. I did like the way that all of the different points of view came together to tell a story that stretched across more than one group of people.

This story is set in a very interesting world. We actually get the opportunity to see more than one realm in this story and I found it interesting to see what each group shared and how they differed. The different lands had individuals with special abilities. Those abilities changed from place to place but each required anyone seeking the power, or kenning, to risk their lives. If they survived, they would be blessed with a special ability. Each land had its own kennings which were often closely related to the terrain in which they lived.

I found this book to be quite exciting at times. There was quite a bit of action spread throughout the story. I also enjoyed getting the chance to see the political workings of each of the groups. I found the personal journeys of some of the characters to be the highlight of the book. I really wanted to see things work out for these characters as they faced incredibly difficult challenges.

I would recommend this book to fans of high fantasy. This book transported me to a world of unique people with extraordinary abilities. I grew to care for many of the characters as they worked to keep their people safe. I cannot wait to read more of this exciting series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing - Del Rey via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I am so glad that I finally got around to read this book. It is very different from The Iron Druid Chronicles and I enjoyed getting to see this author tackle a bit of more serious fantasy. This story is told through the stories shared by a bard. This bard takes on the persona of each individual as he shares their story. There are a lot of different points of view to juggle in this story and I have to admit that it was slow going for me at the start. Once I felt a little more settled in this world and knew each character a little better, I found that I was enjoying the story a lot more. I did enjoy the magic and world-building in this book and loved the way everything came together in the end. I do look forward to reading the next book in the series very soon.

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Familiar Dark - Amy Engel

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was a fantastic novel! I read this author's previous book, The Roanoke Girls, and fell in love with this author's writing so I knew I wanted to read this book just as soon as I saw it. I went into the book with rather high expectations and they were met. This was a book that I found very hard to put down. The story was surprising at times and emotional in others. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent reading this story.

The book opens with Eve receiving a visit from her brother Cal while working her shift at the local diner. Cal is a local police officer and is there to tell Eve that her 12-year-old daughter, Junie has been murdered along with another child. My heart broke right with Eve's. The descriptions of how she got through those first few days really got to me. Eve worked hard to be a good mother to Junie and only had her brother Cal to lean on. After Junie's death, Eve has nothing left to lose and decides she will stop at nothing to get justice for her daughter.

I thought that the characters in this story were very well done. There is a pretty eclectic group of characters represented in this story and they all felt very real to me. I found that while I was pretty shocked by some of the turns the story took, the actions of the characters always felt authentic. I really felt like I was in Eve's head and I understood her motivation to learn what happened to her daughter.

I love the fact that this book was able to surprise me. And it didn't just surprise me once because there were several times where the story took a turn that I didn't expect. I love that this story made me feel. There were times that this story really got to me. Eve was such a strong character who was put in one of the most difficult situations that I can imagine. I honestly don't know how someone could read this book and not feel for Eve. I also love that the mystery in this story really kept me guessing. I had no idea who killed those two girls but I was just as desperate as Eve to find out. I found the mystery to be complex and very well done.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I found this to be a wonderfully told story that was heartbreaking at times. I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Dutton via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
This falls somewhere between 4 and 5 stars for me. I am going with 4 for now but might bump it up after I have some time to think about it. I had a really hard time putting this book down. I couldn't imagine going through what Eve does in this story and reading about it made me uncomfortable at times. There were a few twists that I found to be rather shocking. This is one of those books that will stay with me for a while.

Making You Mine by Melissa Foster

Making You Mine – The Bradens & Montgomerys (Pleasant Hill – Oak Falls) - Melissa Foster

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This really was the perfect book to pick up during a rather stressful week. I found this to be a really enjoyable and uncomplicated romance. I have read a few titles published under Melissa Foster's pen name that she uses for her sweeter titles, Addison Cole, but this is the first I have read with Melissa Foster listed as the author. This book is part of a series but I read it as a stand-alone and thought it worked perfectly fine on its own. I definitely had a good time with this delightful romance.

Knox and Aubrey aren't strangers to each other. They have been hooking up with each other after different events for quite a while. They both want to keep it no-strings-attached until Knox decides that he wants more. I loved watching Knox convince Aubrey to give him a chance. They really make a fantastic couple and had a lot of wonderful chemistry. There weren't a lot of obstacles to their relationship and I thought it was fun to watch them fall for each other.

Andi Arndt and Jason Clarke both did a fantastic job with the narration. I thought that they both handled all of the character voices very well and brought a lot of emotion to the story. Andi Arndt has been a favorite narrator of mine for a long time and I could see myself adding Jason Clarke's name to that list. They both read at a very nice pace and I feel like their performance added to my enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this to be a very enjoyable romance filled with wonderful characters. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Melissa Foster's work in the future.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author/publicist via Audiobook Boom.

Initial Thoughts
An uncomplicated romance was the perfect thing to pick up during a week like this one. I liked Knox and Aubrey and thought that they had a lot of great chemistry. They really didn't have too many obstacles to their relationship to deal with in my opinion. Their big "fight" almost made me laugh because after 20 years of marriage it didn't seem like a big deal to me at all. I found it to be an easy and enjoyable listen with both of the narrators doing a fantastic job with the story.

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Dead Beat: The Dresden Files, Book 7 - James Marsters, Jim Butcher

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a great time with my re-read of this book! I originally read this series years ago and enjoyed it so much that I decided to pick up the audiobooks to experience it all over again. I have been slowing working my way through the series for a second time often working a book into my reading schedule when I need a bit of a lift. This seemed like the perfect time for a little Harry Dresden and it proved to be a wonderful escape.

Although this was a re-read, there were a lot of things about this book that I didn't remember anymore. There were a few stand out sections of the book that I was able to recall and enjoyed being able to revisit them. This is the seventh book in The Dresden Files series which is a series that really should be read in order since the character relationships grow and change over the course of the series.

This was a pretty exciting installment in the series. Harry is put in charge of watering Karin's plants while she is on vacation and ends up working to save her reputation for a ruthless vampire. There are some powerful forces searching for a very powerful item that has the potential to do a lot of damage. Harry has to battle several necromancers and their zombies with only the help of his brother and a polka playing mortician. There were some pretty big scenes in this book and I really appreciated Harry's interactions with Sue.

James Marsters brings so much to this story. His narration is really top-notch and I found this book to be a joy to listen to. He does a fantastic job with a wide range of character voices in the series and I love how consistent he has been throughout the series. He is able to add a lot of emotion and excitement to the story through his reading. I believe that I enjoyed this book a bit more during my re-read than I did the first time largely due to his narration.

I would recommend this book to others. This is a smartly written story that is filled with wonderful characters, intense action, a bit of humor, and an interesting plot. I cannot wait to continue with my re-read of this exciting series!

Initial Thoughts
This was a re-read for me. It has been quite a few years since I first read this book and while I remember some key scenes, my memory is poor enough that it was almost like reading it for the first time. Marsters does a fantastic job with the narration and the story was really exciting. I am looking forward to tackling the next book in the series very soon.

Book source: purchased

A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison

A Fistful of Charms  - Marguerite Gavin, Kim Harrison

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had such a good time with this book. I read the first few books in this series years ago and didn't continue for one reason or another. Most of the series probably hadn't been written at that point. A couple of years ago, I decided to start working my way through the series again by listening to the audiobooks. I think that this might have been the first time that I read this book and I really enjoyed it.

This book picks up shortly after the events of the previous book. Rachel learns that Jenks's son Jax might be in trouble along with her ex-boyfriend, Nick, and she feels compelled to help. Rachel enlists the help of Jenks as backup and with the aid of a couple of demon curses, they head off to rescue the pair and things get interesting very quickly.

I really enjoyed the way that Rachel and Jenks worked together in this book. Jenks is such a great character and I tend to enjoy the scenes that he appears in and he was in the bulk of this book. I really appreciated the changes that Jenks went through in this story and I think that we really got to know him a lot better. I also found the developments in Rachel's relationship with Ivy to be intriguing and look forward to seeing how things play out later in the series.

This story was really exciting. There were some pretty intense scenes where I was a bit worried about the fate of Rachel, Jenks, Ivy, and the rest of the group. I wasn't sure how they would get themselves out of some of the situations in this book. I also felt like there were some pretty pivotal moments in the characters' personal lives and there were a few rather surprising revelations.

Marguerite Gavin did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. I think that she is the perfect narrator for this series. She handled all of the different character voices wonderfully and added a lot of life to each of the characters. I love how much emotion and excitement she is able to express with her reading. I feel like her narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this series to others. This series is full of wonderful characters facing some pretty exciting situations. This is a series that you will want to read in order but that shouldn't be a hardship since all of the earlier books are just as good as this one.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! I was in the mood to get back to this series and I am glad I did. The narration did feel a little fast to me so I slowed it down just a bit so that it sounded more natural. I know, everyone else is speeding up their audiobooks and I am over here slowing mine down! I stalled after the third book the first time I tried the series and when I started again with the audiobooks a few years ago. This book worked well for me. I liked Jenks a lot in this story and I liked some of the changes in relationships. The premise was well done with plenty of excitement. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Book source: purchased

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

Smoke Bitten - Patricia Briggs

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I loved this book! I have to admit that I am a giant fan of this series. These are books that I can read over and over without ever growing tired of them. When someone asks me for book recommendations, this series is at the top of my list. I went into this book with really high expectations and they were all met. I enjoyed every moment I spent reading this book. 

Mercy always seems to have a lot of things going on in her life and things are no different in this book. The book starts off with some pack and ex-wife drama and that is before the fae leaves a doorway in their backyard. Before you know it, lives are at risk from the new enemy on the loose. It is a lot for a Volkswagon mechanic to handle.

Mercy is an amazing character. I love how calm she is in even the most extreme situation. When the situation seems to be almost impossible to manage, she is able to make reasonable decisions that have a big impact on the final outcome. Mercy turns into a small coyote but she has the bravery of an entire large pack. I love that if there is a problem with her mate or someone else in the pack, she will address it and if someone or something is threatening those she feels responsible for, she will do something about it.

This was an exciting story. There was plenty of action scattered throughout the story to keep things interesting. I thought that Mercy, Adam, and the rest of the pack had already faced every monster imaginable but Briggs was able to conjure up something really unique that I did not see coming. I loved the way that the book wove together several different threads that I found equally entertaining. 

I would highly recommend this series to others. This is the twelfth book in the Mercy Thompson series which really should be read in order. Trust me, all the books in this series are so good that you don't want to miss any of them anyway. I cannot wait to read more from this amazing author!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
Wow! This book was just as good as I hoped it would be and my expectations were incredibly high. Just when I thought that Mercy, Adam, and the rest of the pack had faced every monster imaginable, Briggs conjures up something I never saw coming. This was just a fantastic read from beginning to end. The story kept me guessing, the characters were at their best, and there was enough action to keep things very exciting.

Revenge of the Barbary Ghost by Victoria Hamilton

Revenge of the Barbary Ghost - Donna Lea Simpson

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. After listening to the first book in the series, Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, I was pretty excited to get to this installment because I felt like Darkefell and Lady Anne had some unfinished business to deal with. Once I started listening, I was quickly taken with the new mystery in Lady Anne's life and couldn't wait to see how things would work out.

After leaving Darkefell's home, Lady Anne goes to visit a friend for a while. She isn't there for long before she sees the Barbary Ghost and decides to figure out what is really going on. Lord Darkefell isn't ready to give up on Lady Anne and finds her in Cornwall and before long is helping her investigate everything that is happening. I found the mystery to be quite complex and liked the fact that I couldn't quite put all of the pieces together on my own. There were definitely a few surprises thrown into the mix.

Lady Anne and Lord Darkefell make a great team. They really do work well together and they have a lot of chemistry. They are both great characters and I really want to see them work things out. Lord Darkefell is used to being in charge and can become too authoritative with Lady Anne. They both want each other but Lady Anne isn't sure that she wants marriage since it will mean giving up her freedom.

I thought that Danielle Cohen did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. I seem to be enjoying this narrator more and more each time I listen to her work. I like the different voices that she uses and I think that she adds a lot of emotion into the reading of the story. I think she has a very pleasant voice that is easy to listen to for hours at a time and I think that the accent she uses works wonderfully with this series.

I would recommend this series to others. This is the second book in the Lady Anne Addison Mysteries series which is best read in order if possible because of the ongoing character relationships. I cannot wait to get started on the next book in this series.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the narrator.

Troublemaker by Linda Howard

Troublemaker - Linda Howard

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this was good. Years ago I read a ton of Linda Howard but I stopped picking up her books for one reason or another. I decided to give this one a try and I found that I do still enjoy her writing. I found this to be a really enjoyable listen.

I really only have one main complaint with this book. I can't believe that I am going to say this but too much of this book was about the dog. I love dogs. My world revolves around my three dogs and I have to admit that they are incredibly spoiled. I love it when dogs are a part of the story. This book took things a bit far even for me. I felt like I had spent hours listening to how Tricks liked to play catch, how smart she was, how she liked to be fed, where she thought she needed to sit in the car, and the list goes on. Do you see that cover? It should have had the dog in the foreground with the humans in the background because that would have been more accurate.

Now, on to the humans. Morgan works for an elite unit and is enjoying some time off at the start of the story. He is attacked near his own home comes close to losing his life. Once he has recovered enough to leave constant medical care, his supervisor arranges for him to go to the home of his step-sister, Bo, who lives in a small remote town. Bo is the part-time police chief of a small town. It's is an administrative position and she fills in the rest of her time with computer work out of her home. She does not expect to find an incredibly sick man on her doorstep but he is in such bad shape she can't bring herself to send him away.

There is a lot going on in this book. Not only do they need to figure out who is responsible for the attack on Morgan at the start of the book, but Bo also has some issues in town that prove to be more dangerous than she counted on. It did feel like nothing happened with the mystery of who was responsible for trying to kill Morgan for the majority of the book and then everything came together really quickly at the end of the story. Bo's situation in town filled in the main part of the book nicely.

I thought that Morgan and Bo worked well together. Morgan was pretty open and shared as much with Bo as he could. Morgan was in pretty rough shape for a long time in this story but when he started to recover he seemed to do so very quickly and that is when things started to heat up between the pair. I thought that they had good chemistry with each other and I liked them as a couple.

I thought that Tanya Eby did a good job with the narration. It did take me just a bit to get used to her voice but once I did, I had no complaints. She handled all of the character voices very well and was able to add a lot of emotion to the story. I had no problem listening to her voice for hours at a time.

I think that readers who enjoy romantic suspense and love dogs will enjoy this one. I didn't think that this was Linda Howard's best work but it was an enjoyable story. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of her work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from William Morrow via Edelweiss and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This was probably closer to 3.5 stars but I am going with 3 for now. I love dogs. I have 3 dogs that mean the world to me and I do adjust my life quite often to meet their needs. I love dogs in books so it pains me to say that there was just too much of the dog in this book. If I talked about my 3 dogs as much as this book talked about, Tricks, nobody would want to be around me. I feel like the book was 50% about the dog with the rest of the story taking a back seat.

I liked Bo and Morgan well enough. It seemed like the book kind of forgot that Morgan was in danger for the bulk of the story until it came back into focus at the very end. Morgan went from being quite frail to almost superhero status in a blink of an eye which seemed odd to me. I thought that the story was interesting enough to keep me going. I listened to this story and thought that Tanya Eby did an acceptable job with the narration.