Category Archives: All Reviews

Listen Up! Three Light-Hearted UF/PNR Series

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I thought I would play catch-up with a multi-book review. My goal lately has been to listen to audiobooks I’ve already purchased instead of buying something new. I have over a thousand audiobooks in three accounts, after all. I should be able to find SOMETHING entertaining, right? I landed on three light-hearted urban fantasy/paranormal romance series that had good mysteries and fit my mood perfectly.

I’m not going to include the story descriptions in this review to save space, but I’ll include a link to the series’ Goodreads page for descriptions. I highly recommend all three of these series if you’re in the mood for belly laughs, mysteries, relatable problems, gorgeous men, and a touch of romance.

Ordinary Magic series by Devon Monk

I decided to listen to Devon Monk‘s Ordinary Magic series again. I like this series a lot. It’s quirky and fun, and Khristine Hvam, who also voices the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series, does a fantastic job. I’ve liked Devon Monk’s writing since her Ally Beckstrom series. Ordinary Magic is lighter-hearted than Ally, but the mystery is good and I’m eager to see where it goes.

While the first three books in this series are published in the unabridged, single-narrator format, Graphic Audio has the first five books available. Graphic Audio produces full-scale dramatizations, though somewhat abridged. I like both types of productions, but I’d like to stay consistent within a series, so I hope the rest of Ordinary Magic gets made with Hvam narrating. Please, Audible? Pretty please?

Betwixt and Between series by Darynda Jones

After Ordinary Magic, I tried several different audiobooks. Either the story or the narrator wasn’t fitting my mood until I landed on Darynda Jones‘s Betwixt, and I realized I was wanting some light-hearted brain candy rather than my typical serious UF. The signature humor from Jones’s Charley Davidson series is all over Betwixt, and I laughed out loud several times, which was exactly what I needed. Traci Odom does a great job as narrator, ensuring the humor lands just right. My only frustration is that the second and third books aren’t out yet in audio! Bewitched releases on March 30 (a week from now) and Beguiled releases on May 5. All three books are available now in eBook, though, so I might have to switch formats to get more of this delightful series.

Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain

I wanted to stick with this lighthearted theme, so I decided to listen to Rebecca Chastain‘s Madison Fox series in audio. Before the audio was released, I had previously read and enjoyed this series in ebook format. So I knew I’d like the story. I just hoped the narrator did it justice. And she did! Elise Arsenault does a beautiful job voicing the characters and bringing the story to life. There are a few shorts and novellas in this series not in audio, and I’d love to see an anthology narrated by Arsenault, along with more Madison Fox adventures. In the meantime, however, I get to reread Chastain’s Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and catch up on her Terra Haven series, which is starting to appear in audio as well. Thank you, Tantor!

Always Be My Banshee by Molly Harper

Title:Always Be My Banshee
Author:  Molly Harper
Series:  Mystic Bayou #4
Publish Date:  April 7, 2020
Source: Audible audiobook

Publisher’s Description: Cordelia Canton is on a top-secret assignment: travel to Mystic Bayou and use her powers as a touch-know psychic to learn more about the mysterious artifact that’s been pulled from the rift site. She’s partnered with Brendan O’Connor, a rare male banshee whose tall, dark, and broody good looks are a major distraction. Before long, it becomes clear that the artifact they’re studying is sentient – and brimming with supernatural power. Can they harness its magic in time to stop the secret forces conspiring to steal it?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*

Nervous Nellie says…

This audio book is an Audible exclusive.  You won’t find it anywhere else.  If you like the Mystic Bayou series, then you’ll be glad to know there has been an addition to the family.

I have to be a bit critical here.  I’m sorry, but I feel like the story wasn’t as good as the other three prior books.  I don’t recall the reason the Banshee was brought in to begin with as it wasn’t explained.  The romance was sort of instant and there wasn’t much substance to it like between Zed and Danni or Jillian and Bael.  It just kind of happened.  I guess I was expecting a bit more depth to the characters.

Here’s the story:  Cordi gets picked up in the airport by Brenden.  Cordi has been brought in to decipher the black box that was found in the rift.  I assume that Brenden was brought in to ground her, though it was never mentioned.  She has a bad reaction.  Days go by. Brenden kind of makes a move.  Then Cordi’s ex is brought in to take over the directorship of the project from Jillian due to her maternity leave.  He’s quite the wet noodle.  No personality.  Then the BIG head guy comes down and chews Cordi for not working.  Push comes to shove, the bad guy makes the move, Brendon and Zed atop of Bael save Cordi.  The black box is handled and everything turns out.  There is, of course, more to it than that, but not a whole lot – at least I don’t feel there is.  It feels like the editor edited the crap out of the book and left only bare bones.  I was underwhelmed.

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The Solstice Countdown by Lisa Shearin

Title:  The Solstice Countdown
Author:  Lisa Shearin
Series:  SPI Files #7
Release date:  March 9, 2021
Description:  As an agent of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI), I know that evil doesn’t take a vacation, but this time it made an exception and followed me on mine.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for SPI, and I’m taking my boyfriend, goblin dark mage Rake Danescu, home for the holidays to meet my family.

Weird Sisters is a small town in the North Carolina mountains that was built on a network of ley lines that magnify psychic and paranormal energies. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, was named after the three witches in Macbeth, and the first word of the town name perfectly describes most of its human and supernatural citizens.

A stranger has come to town, bringing with him a dormant source of primordial evil. Soon, magically gifted locals start vanishing, and the power of the ley lines is turned against us, cutting us off from the outside world and any source of help.

For a town and its people steeped in magic, and my family sworn to protect both, it’s a race against time to use a local winter solstice phenomenon to free the town from its prison. But first, I must trust a father I’ve never known to fight and defeat an awakening evil that’s existed since the beginning of time. If we fail, and it is unleashed, the world will not survive.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*

Nervous Nellie says…

The Solstice Countdown was another hit by Lisa Shearin.  I LOVE the SPI files.  With the conclusion of this book, I really feel the need to go back and start at the beginning.  Mak (Makenna Frasier) made mention of the cases that she’s handled since she’s worked for SPI and I have to admit, my interest piqued all over again.  There were the Dragons, the gem mage, the Grendels, the hell pit under Baccanalia, the pocket dimension in Rafe’s hotel.  There was the buildings popping from one world to another, portals to here and yonder, there were the ghouls and all sorts of things I could go on and on about.  Bad nasties that Mak helped the team take care of in only the way they can.

In this book, there is no sex, though implied (only a couple times), there are only gory deaths of ghouls and no good guys were harmed in making of this movie…in your head.  An ancient Celtic god that makes a VERY interesting appearance and Mak’s family who basically run Weird Sisters, NC.

I could guess a lot of the story line which I do not have a problem with.  It makes me less nervous in the “OMG!  What’s gonna happen next” anxiety.  Rafe was his normal glorious kick ass self and MaKenna was too even though Rafe outshone her with his dark magey thing.  But then there was MaKenna’s revelation of parentage.  That was a big deal too. And then there was her and the Wild Hunt…that was pretty cool.

This wasn’t a normal SPI case.  Actually, it had no case number and involved no agents except MaKenna.  She was on vacation and was on her own as representative of SPI.  Push come to shove, I would say it really wasn’t a case at all since she wasn’t “on the clock” per se.  I’m trying to be as vague as I can in order to not give away spoilers.  Mac’s granny was awesome, as well as the rest of the fam.  It was nice to see Rafe a bit uncomfortable in the girlfriend/boyfriend interrogation that families give.  It appears he passed with flying colors and Mac got a lot of respect for her part in protecting the townspeople from certain death.

Ok, fine.  Here’s the skinny.  Mac & Rafe come to town.  They are “attacked” by a Celtic god.  They get away.  The find that a nasty shouldn’t-be-but-is-anyway-mage is trying to manipulate the First Hunter of the Wild Hunt to basically give him all the souls he’s ever collected in order to give the shyster more power to take over the world.  Mac’s family and Rafe join in and do whatever they can in order to stop the bad guy from doing what he wants.  Throw in some family history (which is VERY interesting) and some massive characters in myth and legend, and you have a mystery that leads a reader by the nose until conclusion.  Like I said before, the book made me want to go back and enjoy the prior books all over again.

Our reviews in this series…

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Faithless in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Faithless in Death
Author:  J. D. Robb
Series:  In Death #52
Publish Date:  February 9, 2021
Source:  purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description: The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wine glasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body–but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within–and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*

Nervous Nellie says…

As you all know, I LOVE Eve Dallas and Roarke.  Late 2018, I started the whole series over again.  I caught things I’d forgotten and fell in love with the characters all over again.  I studied the changes of Dallas and Roarke and it was fun to watch the evolution.  By the way, I have 2 books left yet for the whole series, but I couldn’t wait.

There is sex, swearing and violence, but the good guy always win.  This story was fantastic.  It was involved and definitely a page turner.  Roarke was involved deeply as was Mavis, Nadine, Peabody, McNabb and all the crew from the homicide division.  If I was Eve Dallas, I wouldn’t have had the guts to do what she did to find out the murderer of the main victim in this case.  She is one strong Lieutenant and this story showcased Roarke’s skills in a very in your face kind of way.  If anyone continues to wonder about his past, this story will definitely get them to thinking.

I did not do any research on the story at all before starting, so I was surprised by the direction it took, but again, Eve and her crew saved a lot of lives in the end.  Amazing story with a kind of Jim Jones type twist.  Another hit out of the park.

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Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Ghosts of Gotham is a thrilling supernatural suspense novel. Fans of supernatural and mystery both should enjoy this one immensely.

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Title: Ghosts of Gotham
Author: Craig Schaefer
Series: The Ghosts of Gotham Saga, Book 01
Publish Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Narrator: Susannah Jones
: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIrresistibly drawn to mysteries, if only to debunk them, reporter Lionel Page exposes supernatural frauds, swindlers, and charlatans. His latest case is an obsession—at least for an ancient and wealthy heiress: verify the authenticity of a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript circulating through New York City’s literary underworld. But the shrewd Regina Dunkle offers more than money. It’s a pact. Fulfill her request, and Lionel’s own notorious buried past, one he’s been running from since he was a child, will remain hidden.

As Lionel’s quest begins, so do the warnings. And where rare books go, murder follows. It’s only when Lionel meets enigmatic stranger Madison Hannah, his personal usher into the city’s secret history, that he realizes he’s being guided by a force more powerful than logic…and that he isn’t just following a story. He is the story.

Now that the true purpose of his mission is revealing itself in the most terrifying ways, it may finally be time for Lionel to believe in the unbelievable.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Nervous Nellie says…

Hats off to Craig Schaefer…AGAIN.  He never disappoints with a story.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began this book, but it wasn’t but a couple of “pages” (I was listening to the audiobook), and I was throughly hooked.  I, like the main character, knew better than to get hooked up with an eccentric, wealthy, older woman who has the connections she has but yet needs someone to investigate something for her.  However, the curiosity practically killed me, so that’s why Lionel couldn’t resist.  The characters that he meets and the story that unfolds is riveting.

The narrator was fantastic.  I can say this because I barely noticed.  Once I get wrapped up in a story, the narrator becomes the characters.  It’s then that I can see the movie in my head and feel like I’m side by side with the main character.  I love narrators that give dimension to a story, and this narrator definitely did that.

It behooves me to give this book a 5 star because of the ride it gave me.  Around each corner, I never knew what to expect.  It was fantastic!

Talk bubble for Ivana

Invested Ivana says…

This was Nell’s pick for a joint review, and it was an excellent one. Ghosts of Gotham is a thrill ride of mystery and magic. The first chapter is really compelling and hooked me immediately. I also love the relationships Lionel has with both Maddie and Brionna.

If I have one nitpick, it’s that in a story with a literal goddess and several female witches who may be thousands of years old, the NEOPHYTE MALE has to be the one to save the day. But I like this world Schaefer is building, and I like the characters, so I’m not going to get too picky about that. 🙂

I recognize the narrator, Susannah Jones, from the Kincade Strange novels by Kristi Charish. She’s an excellent narrator with a lovely voice and good character differentiation. I see she narrates a number of Schaefer’s other novels as well, so I’m looking forward to hearing more of them.

The second book in the series, A Time For Witches, came out in October of 2020. It’s available in Kindle version, but not yet in audio. I hope it does come out in audio soon, as I’m looking forward to hearing what Lionel and his coven take on next. 4.5.

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