Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMasterKiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so…innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

In my earlier days as a book blogger I remember Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster being one of the first steampunk stories I’d ever read, the other being Kate Locke’s series – Immortal Empire. I seriously fell in love with the world that McMaster created and the paranormal elements she molded to fit in with everything. When I saw the opportunity to listen to the audio version on McMaster’s entire London Steampunk series with Alison Larkin narrating, I knew that I had to experience this series in this format – the sample I listened to hooked me as well.

As always whenever you are revisiting a series in another format you are going to experience some inconsistencies simply because when you read it for yourself you imagine how certain characters sound, look, and the way they carry themselves. In listening to Kiss of Steel with Larkin’s narration behind it I did find myself not really liking her portrayal of Blade’s voice. Now the interpretation could be completely wrong on my part because I have no idea how his English accent was supposed to sound, but I envisioned him with a deeper voice. I digress, Larkin did an amazing job with everything and everyone except for Blade’s character.

The story of Kiss of Steel was also something that drew me in immediately. Yeah there are vampires within Kiss of Steel, which have been included in paranormal stories for decades upon decades, but the way that McMaster penned the challenges, hierarchy, and world elements within Kiss of Steel sets it apart from other paranormal/steampunk stories you will ever read.

Since I never did get pass Kiss of Steel when I was going through this series the first time I’m super excited to see how the world McMaster created expands and changes as the series goes on, plus I want to see how the series transitions into the spin-off series The Blue Blood Conspiracy.

 

 

Veiled by Karina Halle

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Veiled by Karina HalleVeiled by Karina Halle
Published by Tantor Audio on October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Death. It's something that Ada Palomino has always known so well, having grown up in a house of horrors, surrounded by a family plagued by ghosts and demons and things that go bump in the night. But after the sudden and tragic death of her mother two years ago, death has never felt so personal. Or so close. Now eighteen, Ada is trying to move on with her life, and the last month of summer holds nothing but sunshine and promises with her first year at a Portland design school just around the bend. That is, until her increasingly violent and realistic dreams, dreams of other worlds, of portals and veils where her mother is tortured and souls bleed for mercy, start to blend into reality. Ada has to lean on her older sister, Perry, to try and make sense of it all, but even then, she's never felt more alone. Then there's Jay. Tall, handsome, and deeply mysterious, Jay would be just another stranger, a familiar face on the bus, if it wasn't for the fact that Ada has met him before. Every night. In every single dream. And the more that Ada is drawn to him in both worlds, the more she's in danger of losing everything-including her heart, and her very soul. Contains mature themes.

Veiled in audiobook format has reinstated the truth that not every narrator can narrate any book. Or maybe the message for me is that ‘not every books can be listened to in audiobook format.’ I think because of the hard time I had in listening to Veiled I will try to re-read this for myself and see if I’m able to connect with the story, and being the type of person I am I think I’m also going to try another Jo Raylan narration for second chance sake.

I don’t know the mechanics behind the production of Veiled, or whether Karina Halle had any say so or what, but Raylan somewhat ruined this story for me. The breathy way she acted out Ada’s character made it hard to want to continue on with Veiled. I couldn’t help but reflexively shout in my head, “No, that’s not how she’s supposed to sound!”

Karina Halle’s writing really saved Veiled, I would’ve hated to have miss out on its story with all the paranormal elements, and its smooth flow because I have a feeling that this will be a story I’ll have a hard time putting down once I do get my hands on the actual book and read it for myself.

The romance interspersed within Veiled prompted me to practice my eye rolling skills. I usually love romance in a paranormal stories but with the tone set for Veiled I felt that the romance was unnecessary – again, I probably shouldn’t commit to these thoughts because I have a feeling they’ll probably change during the re-read. It’s not that I hate romance now or anything, it’s just I’m tired of it coming in and ruining a good thing lol.

When I’m With You by Harper Sloan @TantorAudio

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When I’m With You by Harper Sloan @TantorAudioWhen I'm With You by Harper Sloan
Series: Hope Town #3
Published by Tantor Audio on July 20, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

Nate: It's nearly impossible to be surrounded by love but not understand it. My parents, my sister, and just about everyone around us has no trouble accepting that love. To give your trust to someone else and believe they would die before hurting you. I've witnessed it-I've seen the power of it-but I've also seen the pain. Because for me, I've only loved someone I could never have, and my biggest fear is that by giving her my love, all I would do is ruin her. I should have tried harder, but I'm not sure I can because I only feel complete when I'm with her.

Emberlyn: The only time I feel like I belong is when he's near. His infectious smile warms me straight to my bones. Any insecurities I have vanish with just a wink from him. A sliver of his attention makes me feel invincible. But all it took was one drunken night of truths for me to lose everything I had begun to crave. Now, I'm not sure how to move on because I only feel complete when I'm with him.He said I was too young. I said he was perfect. He said our families wouldn't understand. I said we could weather any storm. He said he would ruin me. And he was right.

When it was made known that Harper Sloan was going to work on stories for the second generation of the characters from her Corps Security series I was ecstatic. I won’t say that Sloan’s Corps Security series was a favorite, but her alpha males were some of the first that I had ever read, so her stories will always hold a special place for me.

As soon as When I’m With You started, with Shirl Rae’s narration and all, I immediately knew that the heroine and I were going to have a problem connecting. It’s been a minute since I’ve read a new adult story, and this would be the first time that I’ve actually listened to a new adult story, so I guess I forgot why I shied away from these type of stories for so long.

Before Emberlyn initiated the play she felt she had to make with Nate I was sort of digging her ballsy attitude in going for what she wanted dang the consequences. So while I understand why she did what she did, I was still pissed especially after Nate said what he said once she walked away…UGH talk about unnecessary angst. Regardless of all of that, I am seriously thankful for not only Sloan’s writing but also for Rae’s narration of Nate’s character; her voice sort of made Emberlyn more annoying that what I think she should’ve been.

Nate I will have to say carried the same things that made me enjoy Cooper, Cage and the rest the alpha male’s from Sloan’s Corps Security series, but just like with Emberlyn his actions at the start of When I’m With You disappointed me and made it hard to want to connect with him. I did struggle with his character but since Rae’s narration was so on point for his perspective I just sat back and tried to enjoy as much as I could of the story; like I said “unnecessary angst.”

I do want to try another Shirl Rae narration just from the potential she showed with When I’m With You, as for Harper Sloan I think I’ve sort of moved pass her writing style and my tastes have drastically changed.

Preserving Will by Alex Albrinck @TantorAudio

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Preserving Will by Alex Albrinck @TantorAudioPreserving Will by Alex Albrinck
Series: The Aliomenti Saga #5
Published by Tantor Audio on August 16, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

He's provided for each of them the opportunity to lead a life of health, wealth, and power far beyond their imagination. He's showed them, by personal example, that such gifts are meant to be shared, used to make the world a better place. And he's never asked them for anything in return, showing a willingness to risk even his own life to live to his own ideals.

Now Will Stark needs their help. He's helpless, he's uneducated, and he's about to meet men who can utterly destroy him.

And they'll need to make sure that's exactly what happens.

Prodded by memories and with the aid of future hindsight, they'll work tirelessly, take on alternate personalities, and ensure that the plan is carried out in its entirety. In the process, they'll learn that selfless sacrifice can demand a heavy price. They'll know that even high technology can't overcome the human spirit.

And they'll understand that, even with perfect hindsight, surprises beyond expectation can -- and do -- occur.

Yes!

Even though I didn’t read/listen to Birth of the Alliance I am glad that Preserving Will didn’t continue on the same thread that made the series feel unfamiliar, as I felt was happening with Ascent of the Aliomenti. I’m no science fiction buff yet, but I really enjoyed the world building and series set up that encompassed the first two books of The Aliomenti Saga. The third book shifted the foundation of the series, but Preserving Will definitely brought everything back to the basics in my opinion.

While Preserving Will was still all about Will Stark (duh!) he didn’t dominant it like in the earlier reads, maybe it was because of his current state in Preserving Will but I found his character much more likable. That’s weird that I found the story more interesting because the main character didn’t dominate a book in his own series but I can’t help how I feel. So many crazy things took place within this series, heck this book, that I feel placing a character – Hope, Will’s wife – in a more prominent role was the right move.

Todd McLauren’s narration of the females, and just everything going on in Preserving Will was so much better. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but everything seem to have gotten better story, character, and flow wise for Preserving Will. I do think that I would’ve probably gotten more out of this series if I’d read it myself but I’m also glad that I got to experience it dramatized via Todd McLauren’s narration.

With Hope’s character taking a more of a leadership role I was able to get a better sense of her character and her connection to Will. In the earlier installments all that was ever known about her was from Will’s perspective and then from her character in another time (crazy I know), but in Preserving Will the emotional connection was there, maybe it was the intensity of the earlier books that overshadowed the relationship between Will and Hope but I never saw them as husband and wife. Even in the first book I couldn’t sense the connection, but since romance isn’t the focal point of this series I will make some allowances lol.

The science fiction element of Preserving Will seriously had me fascinated! As I stated before I’m no science fiction buff but I’m glad The Aliomenti Saga was amongst the first that I read that introduced me to the genre.

Ascent of the Aliomenti by Alex Albrinck

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ascent of the Aliomenti by Alex AlbrinckAscent of the Aliomenti by Alex Albrinck
Series: The Aliomenti Saga #3
Published by Tantor Audio on June 21, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

The Aliomenti village is in ruins, destroyed by one of their own, its population nearly eliminated in the calamity. From the ruins, the Aliomenti rise to international prominence, influencing buyers and sellers, warriors and bureaucrats, as they patiently and invisibly expand their empire. Will Stark serves as the driving force behind that expansion. Whether he's creating their innovations or offering subtle hints, few of their revolutionary progressions are made without his influence. But Will is dealing with his own private heartache. Even as he watches his fellow Aliomenti ascend to heights few of them imagined possible, his long journey becomes one he'll make alone. He's haunted by the knowledge that what enables him to make that journey will also prevent him from seeing his most important mission to its completion. Will must persevere, fighting through his own gloom, an organization that threatens to tear itself apart, and a reunion with old friends at an inopportune time. He'll come to realize that his own decisions, his own inability to understand even those he knows not to trust, have enabled a tyrant to seize control of the Aliomenti in the aftermath of a crisis.

While I’ve really enjoyed the storytelling and action of the previous stories in the Aliomenti Saga, Ascent of the Aliomenti has shown me that those same story elements can only go on for so long.

As always Todd McLaren does a good job of reading/narrating the Ascent of the Aliomenti, but it again drove home the sameness that has carried on from the previous stories in this series. Now while the circumstances are certainly different in the Ascent of the Aliomenti the character of Will hasn’t changed at all, I expected some changes to be interwoven into who he currently stood within this story. I did like Will’s character in A Question of Will and Preserving Hope, but even after being reunited with his wife (McLaren’s narration of Will’s wife voice was hard to take so it made hard to even enjoy whenever her character would step onto the scene) Will remained distant. He showed emotion but it didn’t make an impact in coming off as passionate as I wanted it to be.

I have one more book left in this series to listen to and I’m hoping that things either pick up more, and that I’m given better answers to some of the questions I have. If not I can always know that the Aliomenti Saga was one of the stories that intrigued me enough that I started looking at the science fiction genre a little harder.