An Ali Audiobook Review: ’Tis the Season​ by Alex Jane and Michael Fell (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Aaron has spent the past ten months alone. When he meets a sad, yet strangely familiar man on a cold Halloween night, he impulsively invites him home. But the intimate connection they share lasts only until morning. Aaron wakes up alone—wracked with guilt and devastated to have lost his chance.

Or so he thinks.

Thanksgiving brings Aaron another shot at happiness, but letting go of an old love and accepting a new one isn’t as easy as everyone keeps telling him. And by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, it becomes clear that Aaron’s not the only one struggling to let himself love again.

Christmas miracles are all well and good, but it’s going to take more than the Holiday Spirit for Aaron to get his happy ever after. 

A story of grief, sadness, and letting it go; and finding love when you least expect it. 
This was an emotional and beautiful story. It starts on Halloween when Aaron is walking around at night. He’s lonely and sad and filled with grief over the death of his husband 10 months prior. As he walks he sees a man sitting on the edge of a bridge and he’s afraid he’s planning to jump. He goes over and starts the most awkward exchange ever but the two end up talking to each other. Dylan says he wasn’t planning on jumping but he’s got a ton of personal hurt of his own. The story then follows them through Thanksgiving and into Christmas as they start falling for each other.

I’d never heard of this author until last week and I’ve now read three of her books since then. This story was so beautifully written. Aaron’s grief was so well done it jumped off the page at you. But as he starts caring for Dylan, his hope also jumps off of the page. The romance is a slow burn and unfolds in a way that felt really realistic. Both MC’s seemed like every day people just trying to do the best they can. The epilogue was very emotional and full of feelz. If you’re not touched by it and possibly a bit teary-eyed, then your heart’s made of stone. 
This audiobook was narrated by Michael Fell.  It was the first time I had listened to a book he narrated and I was really impressed.  I thought he did a great job and I will definitely look for more of his work.

This was one of the best holiday books I’ve read this season and one I think you should definitely read asap.
Cover:  I think the cover is average and while it is nice, I do not think it stands out
Sales LinksAmazon | Audible
Audiobook Details:
Audio Book – 2.9 hours
Audiobook, 87 pages
Published October 13th 2017 by Alex Jane (

An Ali Audiobook Review: Everyday History by Alice Archer and Daan Stone (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
I just read this book about a month ago and loved it. 

When I had the chance to review the audiobook I jumped at it and I’m really glad I did. First off, the narrator, Daan Stone, was super good. I had never listened to him before but he’s now on my radar because his narration was flawless. It was a 5+ stars.

As I’ve already said, I loved this book on the first read. The writing style is very unique. It’s lyrical and poetic and something about it just drew me in and held me from the beginning till the end of the story. This time I was able to go through the story more slowly (I’m a fast reader). The narration made me pace myself and I found there were things I had not caught the first time through. I also found the narration to make the story more emotional and I found my eyes filling with tears more than once (which I did not do when I read it).

The plot of the story is one we’ve seen before, an age gap between teacher and student. This was done differently though. It seems all of the age gap books I’ve read before have had the older person worried about the age difference and the younger one adamant that they know what they want and they have no concerns about it. In this, Ruben, the younger of the two, falters. He knows he cares for Henry and he knows he wants to see him and have sex, but he also knows he’s a kid. He wants to go to college and party and sleep around and do fun things that most of us do/did during this time of our lives. So while this story is definitely a love story, it’s also a coming of age. Ruben has a lot of lessons to learn and unfortunately he hurts others and himself along the way.
The story is told in a quiet way. A lot of it is based on conversations. A lot of it is told through stories that the characters tell each other. Some of it is told through newspaper columns and post cards. Everything that happens in this story matters. You need to pay attention because everything will circle back at some point and you’ll have these “ah-ha” moments. (You probably won’t ever be able to eat apple pie again without feeling a bit emotional.)

While there is a feeling of melancholy as you read this, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly angsty. It’s more a quiet study of how we come to learn what’s important in our lives and how we learn to put aside our fears to reach for what we want. It looks at the people in our lives and the roles they play and it looks at the importance in the things we hold on to and how they tell the story of who we are.

I am a giant sucker for the “grand gesture” in romance stories and this one tops the chart. There is also a lovely HEA and an epilogue that is just beautiful. I really can’t fan girl enough about this. The writing style is so distinctive that I realize it won’t be for everyone. I personally loved it though and I think both the ebook and the audio were hits out of the ballpark so I recommend either or both.
 
Cover by Bree Archer:  I love the cover.  I always really like black and white cover with a splash of color.  This one in particular I really like because it is a signifies a very important part of the story.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
9 hrs 53 mins
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 29th 2016)
Original TitleEveryday History
ASINB06XSMXH4R
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: Murmuration by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
murmuration-audioIn the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.
Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves


But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.
So this book is a trip. It’s impossible to discuss the plot without spoilers so I’m going to skip that. I will say that this book had me hooked from the beginning. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then part way in I thought I had figured it out. I was wrong. Then I had a new theory and I was part way right. And then…….gah. (I could do this all day.) 

Here’s what you need to know. The writing was fantastic. It is some of TJ’s best work imo. I literally couldn’t put this down because I was dying to know what was going on. There are plot points that I really disliked. Plot points I’m not comfortable with. And yet……..I was captivated by this story.

There is a really unique romance. It’s so different than anything I’ve ever read before. It’s this sweet, pure, 1950’s courting type romance and I never would have thought that was my thing but apparently it is. (I still need my smut and won’t be running off to find these kind of romances in general but it really worked with the plot).

The end keeps you guessing. I mean right up to the very end. The very last paragraph or two. I was holding my breathe and while I knew I was intrigued I under estimated how emotionally invested I was because all of a sudden I had tears in my eyes. 

I did most of this on audio and the narrator, Kirt Graves, was excellent. One of the best I’ve listened to. I got about half way through on audio and then switched to reading because I was so impatient to find out what was going to happen. I then switched back to audio for the last few chapters. If you like audios I recommend doing this story that way. It was top notch and really added to the overall storytelling. 
Cover by Reese Dante: I love the cover.  I had seen the guy on the cover on some other books so I didn’t think much about it going into this story.  After reading it though, I have to say the cover is perfect for the story.  
Sales Links
 
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published January 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published October 28th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune and Narrator Derrick McClain

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 Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

How to be A Normal Person AudioGustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

I really enjoyed this book.  This author has a distinct writing style and I realize it doesn’t work for everyone but I personally adore it.  I’ve read books of his that have made me laugh out loud and ones that have made me cry.  This book was the best of both worlds.  There’s the trademark humor Klune brings to his stories but there were also a lot of scenes that were serious and filled with emotions.
I thought both Gus and Casey were great characters.  Neither are the traditional type of characters we usually see in romance novels and that is a good thing in my opinion.  Gus is quirky and Casey is asexual.  As the story develops they learn about each other’s unique characteristics and they fall in love.  The romance is a slow burn and the progression of the relationship felt realistic.  There are some great side characters in this and the scenes they are in added some of the funniest parts to the story.  Gus’ memories of his deceased father add some of the more emotional scenes and his dad is just as much a side character as the living characters are.
I did this on audio and I thought the narrator was really good. I’ve done a lot of this author’s books on audio and I think his storytelling style works well in this format.
This book is a definite recommend from me.  It has a bit of everything.  There is some humor and some serious emotions, there are great characters and it is low on the angst and steam levels.
Cover by Reese Dante.  I love this cover.  I think it fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
Published April 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published October 16th 2015)
Original TitleHow To Be A Normal Person
ASINB01E9E5JOE
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingOregon (United States)

An Ali Audiobook Review: Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma #1) by Anne Tenino and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 star out of 5
Frat Boy and Toppy AudiobookBrad is great at meeting other people’s expectations. But his own? Not so much. Take the gay thing. Okay, so yeah. It took a morning meeting with a frat brother’s hairy, naked ass for him to admit it, but he knows the truth about himself now. Let the gay life commence.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. He hasn’t quite determined how to come out to anyone, even Sebastian, the geeky-hot TA in his history class. Sebastian is everything Brad is not. Intellectual, suave, hairy. Out. And he doesn’t seem interested in Brad, even when Brad makes a fool of himself trying to catch his notice.

Score one for foolery: Sebastian does more than notice Brad; he takes him to bed. Brad’s been with plenty of girls, but with Sebastian, the sex is something else entirely—hot, mind-blowing, affirming, and a little domineering in a way that drives him wild. But when great sex turns into something more—dare he admit the “L” word?—Brad must face the crushing realization that Sebastian doesn’t feel the same. Unless, of course, he does. After all, even grad students can be idiots about matters of the heart.
 
What a fun read this was. These two characters were just great. They both had depth and were likable and funny. Watching them begin a tentative relationship was great. Neither trusts the other’s social group and they live different lifestyles. Brad still hides his sexuality and Sebastian very much does not. Despite their differences they find they have enough in common to build a friendship and eventually love. 
This was one of my first reads in the m/m genre and when I had the chance to review this on audio I was honestly a little worried. My tastes have changed and I wasn’t sure if this would hold up to the test of time. I’m happy to say I loved it just as much this time around. I adore both Brad and Sebastian as they fumble their way into a relationship that neither saw coming. There’s some funny dialogue, a sweet love story, little angst and some smexy times. 

I liked the narrator a lot and I thought he did a great job on all the voices. He really sounded like what I thought Brad & Sebastian would sound like (Sebastian’s “yeah?” at the end of his sentences was super charming and kind of hot on audio). The sex scenes were really smoking hot on audio. I mean really hot.( Like I felt guilty listening to this at work hot). This is one of those books where I think the narration actually adds to the story and this is one I highly recommend be done on audio.
 
Cover artist L.C. Chase‘s cover is perfection.  I  wouldn’t change a  thing.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing  |  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published (first published March 25th 2012)
Original TitleFrat Boy and Toppy
SeriesTheta Alpha Gamma #1
CharactersBrad Feller, Sebastian DeWitt settingPacific Northwest (United States)

 

An Ali Audiobook Review: Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux , J. F. Harding (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 of 5 stars                ★★★★★

Stars & Stripes audiobookSpecial Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they’re living together conflict-free, work is going smoothly, and they’re both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.

When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.

From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world.

This was a re-read for me but the first time I had listened to it on audio. This book remains one of my favorites of the series. The guy’s have worked hard to get to the positive place in their relationship that they’re in. During the course of this story they go to both of their parents’s homes and it is interesting to see the different dynamics between the two families. Most of the story is spent at Zane’s home where they try to solve a case involving Zane’s family ranch. I enjoyed the case in this one and I found it fast paced and entertaining. There are a lot of laugh out loud moments in this story, some really sweet and romantic ones and some of the steamiest ones in the series. I love every minute of this book every time I read it.

Audio:

I had listened to the first four books in this series on audio in the past. There were two prior narrators and this narrator is totally new. I wasn’t sure about his voice for Ty when I first started. The problem with reading a book first, in my opinion, is that you have the characters firmly set in your mind. While his Ty was fine, it wasn’t how I envisioned Ty. His Zane though was fantastic. Deep, growly voice with just a bit of a Southern drawl. After a few chapters I got used to his Ty and decided I liked it. There are a lot of characters in this book, with a lot of different accents and I felt like this narrator did a great job on all of them. I also found him able to do both male and female voices well which is a talent some narrators do not have. I loved listening to this on audio. I think listening to this really emphasized the emotional scenes and made them more heart wrenching (There was a scene between Ty & Zane’s dad that made my eyes water. It was much more emotional listening to it than reading it.) And the sexy scenes? Holy moly they’re burning hot on audio. I would definitely recommend this to readers/listeners.

Cover art by L.C. Chase. I don’t know what to say about the cover really. It’s very simple but it’s a classic and I would never want to see it change.

Sales Links:  Audio at Amazon |  Audio at Audible

Audiobook Details:

Stars & Stripes
Written by: Abigail Roux
Narrated by: J. F. Harding
Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
Series: Cut and Run, Book 6