A closet readers take on: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Erotica, YA Fiction & Audiobooks

Sunday, July 31, 2011

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Carrie Vaughn's KITTY'S BIG TROUBLE (Kitty Norville, Book 9)

Title: KITTY'S BIG TROUBLE (Kitty Norville, Book 9)
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Release Date: June 30, 2011
List Price: $18.99
Publisher: Tantor Media
Media: Unabridged,MP3 - Unabridged CD edition
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765365650
ISBN-13: 978-076536565

My Ratings

Plot: 3/5
Setting: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Originality of Plot: 4/5
Characters Development: 4/5
Ending: 4/5
Narrator: 5/5
Cover Art: 4/5
Likelihood to Recommend: 4/5

Overall: 35/45 = 77%


Kitty Norville is back and in more trouble than ever. Her recent run-in with werewolves traumatized by the horrors of war has made her start wondering how long the US government might have been covertly using werewolves in combat. Have any famous names in our own history might have actually been supernatural? She's got suspicions about William Tecumseh Sherman. Then an interview with the right vampire puts her on the trail of Wyatt Earp, vampire hunter. But her investigations lead her to a clue about enigmatic vampire Roman and the mysterious Long Game played by vampires through the millennia. That, plus a call for help from a powerful vampire ally in San Francisco, suddenly puts Kitty and her friends on the supernatural chessboard, pieces in dangerously active play. And Kitty Norville is never content to be a pawn. . . .

My Review

I have been a massive fan of Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series for a while now. I devoured books 1 through 6 in just a matter of weeks. This series is a joyride through the eyes of Kitty Norville filled with mystery, action, wit, and a touch of sexuality. The books are centered around Kitty and her family, the ones that she was born with and those whom she has chosen to surround herself with as a were. Her lifestyle, radio show, and quick tongue get her in all kinds of trouble.

That being said, KITTY’S BIG TROUBLE just didn’t sit right with me. This story felt like it didn’t fit into the series usual mold. The story also felt a bit unfocused. I kept telling myself, eventually we’re going to get to the meat of the story, but we never did. I felt that it was more of a narration of persons day, then the action packed series I was used to reading. Though Kitty does want to take down Roman, this wasn’t her fight. I also felt a little weary on how the story wrapped up. I’m just waiting for the next book and the other shoe to drop. If I had to rate this story as more of a stand alone piece, I may have rated it a bit higher. In my eyes, it just didn’t hold up to the incredible Kitty Norville series standards.

Brightest point of the story was getting a chance to see my some of my favorite characters. One of my favorite parts of Kitty, is the fact that she is a strong female character that is willing to seek help from her friends and pack. She know that she can’t handle everything all on her own. Ben was his usual wonderful, loyal, and supportive self. He is Kitty’s strength and family. He makes it possible for her to live the crazy she leads, and still be able to feel safe and loved. I’m so happy to have the new and “improved” Cormac back into the story. With his new arsenal of weapons, he’s stronger then ever. I also love the interaction his interaction with Kitty and Ben. They are his family and he’d give his life for them.

As always, Marguerite Gavin’s narration made this story come alive. She has a way with dialogue and pacing, that she puts most narrators to shame. She is the Kitty Norville series to me. When I go back read the books in this series, I can almost hear her voicing the characters.

This series, as a whole, is full of action, heart, and adventure. If you haven’t picked up the Kitty Norville series, do yourself a favorite and pick it up in book or audiobook format! If you already love Kitty, like I do, go ahead and give this book a chance.

Kitty Norville

1) Kitty and the Midnight Hour
2) Kitty Goes to Washington
3) Kitty Takes a Holiday
4) Kitty and the Silver Bullet
5) Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
6) Kitty Raises Hell
7) Kitty's House of Horrors
8) Kitty Goes to War
9) Kitty's Big Trouble

Related Websites

Buy Kitty's Big Trouble from Tantor Media

Marguerite Gavin - Narrator Info

Carrie Vaughn's Website

Carrie Vaughn's Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2011

GUEST BLOG & GIVEAWAY: Xe Sands - Narrator of Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalker Series

In celebration of the release of GIDEON (book 2 in the Nightwalker Series) by Jacquelyn Frank, I have invited the series' narrator Xe Sands to discuss taking on this dark, sexy series. Also, scroll down to the bottom of this blog post to enter to win GIDEON on audiobook.

I am currently sitting in my home studio, taking a break from recording Elijah, the third book in Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalkers series. “Taking a break” for me is akin to a forced march through the desert wearing a parka. I despise taking breaks from recording, whether for five minutes, five hours or five days. I always feel the project tugging at me, whispering to me about the next scene, luring me back in. At the moment, however, I am plagued by temporarily insurmountable digestive rumblings, which unfortunately add unwanted dialog to the recording.

Witness the last few minutes:

Siena: You must let me tell you how sorry I am.

Elijah: There will be time for that. Later.

Stomach: Mwraoroararahrahahor!

Not exactly in line with the author's intent. But, think I’ll use this forced break to reflect on what an interesting ride narrating the Nightwalkers series has been. The process has certainly differed from other projects I’ve done, and not just because of the extraordinarily hot demons.

When I was first offered Nightwalkers by Tantor Audio, I wasn’t sure what to think. This is an established series with a devoted fan base, and approaching an existing series can be a bit daunting. I know that devoted readers have a very clear voice in mind for every character…could I meet their expectations? Do justice to their favorite characters and storylines? Many of the main characters are deeply voiced, richly accented males (wait, Croatian/Eastern European? What?!); would I be able to credibly bring those accents in while carrying the emotional content of the dialog?

Signing on for this series was an honor...it was also rife with the sort of anxiety you feel when you are just one shot away from being ushered into the front car of the rollercoaster. You watch others get on, they climb out of sight, then the screaming begins - and you know you're next. After an indepth conversation with Jacquelyn Frank about characterizations and accents used throughout the series, I swear I could hear the telltale “tick tick tick” of the coaster car ascending toward the sky.

In the words of Gideon the Ancient, "Run, run, as fast as you can..."

Know what else it felt like? Delicious. Exhilarating.

Something to know about me: like the heroines in this series, the more I feel like running away screaming – the better it’s going to be when I give myself over to it. The challenges simply meant this would be an amazing project to work on. And I wasn't wrong.

Of course, also like these same heroines, there is a whole bunch of plot between waiting in line for that ride, and getting out of the car at the end…

After that conversation with Frank, I realized two things. One, I needed to shed the pressure associated with trying to match others' imaginings of the characters' voices and just discover them for myself - first as a reader, then as a narrator. Two, the accents required to truly do justice to the text would need a bit of coaxing to come out of my mouth. To that end, I sought direction from (and continue to work with) a dialect coach. I wanted to develop a natural, accented manner of speaking for the characters – one that wouldn’t detract from the listening experience, but simply embody personality as intended. After meeting with the coach (and watching a possibly unhealthy number of interviews with Goran Visjnic), I spent an entire day speaking with the accent, much to the delight and horror of my family. I needed the accent to be easily accessible while performing dialog, and to be able to broaden it to fit a range of characters. Over the course of the day, the accent settled into something natural...so natural in fact that I started inadvertently using it in public! Point being that once it became a part of my natural speech pattern, the narration of Jacob as a whole began to take shape.

And there is a unique challenge to recording a series: having to design vocal characterizations that can stand for the entire series – that can grow/shrink with the character. This series compounds that difference in that character traits are not always presented in the book in which the character first appears – they might appear later in the series (Noah’s accent and vocal characteristics for example, are not presented until Noah, the fifth book). I recently commented that prepping characters for this series was akin to reading one, 2,000 page epic to glean all the characteristics for the main character of the first 350 pages - and it's true. But being forced to review all five books in at least a cursory fashion in prep for recording Jacob and Gideon has been a blessing. It has given me a perspective on the characters and the overall arc that I would not have had, had I not peeked ahead. That insight helps informs the tone I use and the vocal nuances of the characters.

Also, true to the genre, the romantic leads change with each book. What I've found intriguing is that, because the leads differ greatly in temperament (and even species) between books, the emotional tone of the narrative shifts, aligned with the personality of the leads. As a narrator, this is a tasty challenge – to subtly shift the emotional delivery of the narrative within a series to match the shift intended by the author. To date, this has been most challenging with Elijah. Elijah has become a bit of an obsession during the recording process. I eat and breathe this project, muttering to myself about it. It has even begun to bleed into my dreams (though not in the way you might imagine), as I process what is working and what isn’t. And I’m loving it. The harder it is to achieve, the more satisfying it is in the end.

However, while Elijah currently has my attention, Gideon is actually next to release. Although somewhat similar in feel to Jacob because it features known demon characters as the leads and of course shares the same world, Gideon will likely feel a bit different to readers as well. The difference comes courtesy of Gideon himself. He is a very intellectual, controlled man, which is, of course, his flaw…and it means that a great deal of the action of this book happens in dialog and mental musings between him and his intended, Magdalena (Legna). For me, this made for a more cerebral, interesting tale. Do not mistake me: there is still plenty of action…of all sorts. And the story arc that moves through the entire series is further delineated in Gideon.

And now, I can feel Elijah pacing the perimeter of my consciousness, daring me to come back and finish what we started. Can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered.

So yes, a rollercoaster ride of a process…and just like the ride, by the end, I feel blown away, glad I got in the dang car, and completely ALIVE. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks Xe Sands for stopping by!

Nightwalker Series

Jacob, #1
Gideon, #2
Elijah, #3
Damien, #4
Noah, #5
Adam, #6

Related Websites

Xe Sands - Website
Xe Sands - Twitter

Xe Sands - Tantor Bio
Jacquelyn Frank - Website
Jacquelyn Frank - Twitter
Tantor Audio


Enter below for the chance to win Jacquelyn Frank's GIDEON audiobook from Tantor Audio. The contest closes Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at midnight. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have FIVE days to respond & claim their prize!

Here is what you need to do:
  • In the contest entry box below, please leave your first name/last initial and e-mail address
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  • The winner has FIVE days, from the day I e-mail them, to claim your prize. Failure to contact me result in forfeit of your prize. At that time, I will choose either to re-award the prize to another entrant or not.
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Fill in contest information in the box below, and make sure to hit submit.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

REVIEW: Susan Mallery's FINDING PERFECT (Fool's Gold Bk 3)

Title: FINDING PERFECT (Fool’s Gold Bk 3)
Author: Susan Mallery
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: HQN Books
List Price: $7.99
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373774680
ISBN-13: 978-0373774685

My Ratings

Plot: 4/5
Setting: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Originality of Plot: 5/5
Characters Development: 4/5
Ending: 5/5
Cover Art: 4/5

Overall: 31/35 = 88%

First Line

“What do you mean she left me the embryos? I’m supposed to get the cat.”

(This may be my favorite book beginning in a long time!)


"When Pia O’Brian’s best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn’t think she’s meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother. Only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day.

A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool’s Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can’t get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind — and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?"

My Review

Pia O’Brian is still grieving over the losing her best friend Crystal to cancer. She is shocked to learn that Crystal didn’t leave her the cat as planned, but her frozen embryo. What is a single girl to do with a bunch of frozen embryos? To make things more difficult, here come the sexy and sweet ex-NFL player Raoul Moreno. Can Pia handle balance being a single mother? Can she handle being just friends with Raoul?

Pia was the popular girl who had everything, that was until her parents died when she was still in high school. She lost everything, and had to rebuild her live in Fool’s Gold. She became a totally different person. She grew leaps and bounds emotionally. It takes a special kind of person to have the children you best friends was never allowed to have.

I read Susan Mallery’s Sweet Spot a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with Raoul. He was this sweet, sensitive teen who just wanted a family to belong to. He found all that and more. Now Raoul is all grown up, and he’s lost none of his charm. He has only one big character flaw: He wants to do the right thing all the time, but he doesn’t always go about it in the best way. He see starts to see Pia and her embryo’s as his family. He wants to help her and her children. They just don’t make them like Raoul, cause if they did I’d snatch him right up.

This book is my favorite of the Fool’s Gold series! It’s a very sweet and uplifting story. It’s a story of learning to trust and love someone. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Susan Mallery is my favorite reading guilty pleasure! When she releases a new series, I run right out to purchase it. This series was no different. I enjoyed this series as a whole, and would really recommend this book for anyone looking for a very sweet contemporary romance. I’m hoping that this isn’t the end of the series, because I would love to see some of the lose ends tied up. I really do love this town! If you enjoyed Raoul, I would also recommend picking up Susan Mallery’s Bakery Sisters series.

Fool's Gold Series

Author's Websites