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Fire: The Collapse

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I received this e-book for review from the author through a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.I was quite excited to read this book when I saw that it featured zombies! Who doesn’t love zombies?A virus breaks out worldwide, which initially starts off with flu-like symptoms. After a few hours, those infected begin to change and become violent, attacking people. To be bitten by one that is infected is certain death...that is, until you rise again!I am not usually a fan of multiple parallel story-lines, but Esmont pulls it off! Zombie fans will not be disappointed. It is gruesome in some spots, but I think the details need to be vivid for a zombie story.Esmont’s bio at the end of the book says that he is working on both a sequel and a prequel to Fire, and I know that I would definitely be interested in reading those as well!MY RATING: 4 stars! I really enjoyed it!!
Fire: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel: Elements of the Undead, #1

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I received this e-book for review from the author through a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.I was quite excited to read this book when I saw that it featured zombies! Who doesn’t love zombies?A virus breaks out worldwide, which initially starts off with flu-like symptoms. After a few hours, those infected begin to change and become violent, attacking people. To be bitten by one that is infected is certain death...that is, until you rise again!I am not usually a fan of multiple parallel story-lines, but Esmont pulls it off! Zombie fans will not be disappointed. It is gruesome in some spots, but I think the details need to be vivid for a zombie story.Esmont’s bio at the end of the book says that he is working on both a sequel and a prequel to Fire, and I know that I would definitely be interested in reading those as well!MY RATING: 4 stars! I really enjoyed it!!
Lover Unleashed: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

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This book is bittersweet for me: Another superb book by Ward, but I am also sad that I am now caught up in the series and have to wait just like everyone else for the next installment slated for March 2012!I listened to the last three audiobooks in the series in quick succession. Because the last two ended on cliff-hangers, I could not wait to find out what happened next!At the conclusion of Lover Mine, Wrath and Payne were sparring and she appeared to have broken her back. This book picks up right where we left off, and The Scribe Virgin allows Wrath to bring Payne to the “other side” to the Brotherhood's mansion. There was a feeling of excitement for me while listening to this because Wrath (being blind) does not know that Payne is the twin sister of Vishous. There is anticipation as Doc Jane is summoned to examine Payne, and she takes one look at Payne’s face and realizes she is looking into the face of someone with the same features as her Hellren, Vishous.Ahhhhh, Vishous! He is one of my favourite bad boys. He figures prominently in this book because he is Payne’s twin.**SPOILER WARNING!Doc Jane soon realizes that the damage to Payne’s spine is beyond the scope of her expertise and that there is only one person that can help Payne: Manuel “Manny” Manello. But how will Doc Jane be able to persuade the doctor to come with her?The reunion between Doc Jane and Manny is pretty emotional. Let’s not forget that Manny thought that Doc Jane was dead and that he also admitted that he had feelings for her. Well, she did die but not in the way that he thinks she did. And she still lives but not in the “normal” fashion. Understandably, Manny is confused and angry with Jane. However, not one to turn his back in a crisis, he agrees to help Jane.You know what is coming...Manny takes one look at Payne and feels an instant connection with her, much the same way that Jane felt about Vishous. Payne, too, feels things for Manny that she has never known before. He insists that he can only operate at the hospital and that he wants access to the MRI machines. Vishous relents, and Manny operates on Payne with Jane’s assistance to repair the damage. However, it is uncertain whether she will ever regain the use of her legs. Although Manny’s memory is wiped, he is drawn to Payne’s room and knows that something has happened but he is cursed with searing pain whenever he tries to recall what it is.Back at the Brotherhood's mansion, Payne is in recovery but making little progress. Payne makes Vishous promise that he will not let her live a life where she is imprisoned in her own body, and Vishous painfully vows he will end her life if that is her desire. Jane does not want Vishous to have to live with that on his conscience for the rest of his life, so she agrees to humanely help Payne end her life with an injection. Meanwhile, Vishous has tracked down Manny and realizes that he may be the only person who can give Payne the will to live. As Manny’s memories come flooding back, he knows he must get to Payne before it is too late. Vishous walks in on Jane holding the needle intended for Payne, and he cannot forgive her for what she was about to do.The conflict between Vishous and Jane was really heartbreaking. You know what Jane was going to do was wrong, but she was going to do it for the right reason. Wow, Ward really knows how to get you right in the gut! I also like that Ward doesn’t paint the couples as picture-perfect. In Lover Mine, we saw the marital problems between Wrath and Beth. Now, it is Vishous and Jane. Life isn’t all roses, and Ward reminds us that commitment takes hard work. Conflict also generates a reader’s interest, and this is what makes us fall deeper and deeper in love with the BDB!Manny not only helps Payne to see that her life could still be fulfilling even from a wheelchair, but they discover that there is something about Payne’s feelings for Manny that has a profound effect on her!Jane's betrayal is the impetus to Vishous' downward spiral, and the only person who can help is Butch. The scene with Butch “breaking” Vishous is utterly raw, and you can feel their pain. I shed quite a few tears. Butch handled his task brilliantly.This book will be one of my favourites in the BDB series. We get to know Vishous, Butch, and Jane on a deeper level. I enjoyed this parallel sub-story just as much as Payne's and Manny’s story. I love that Ward’s characters are so complex.A secret regarding Manny is revealed, which affects both Butch and Wrath.This is the first book that makes no mention of Lash! No doubt he won’t stay away for long and, when he resurfaces, it’s going to be big. The Lessening Society has been inducting hordes of recruits, so that can only mean that a big battle is going to come.I nearly forgot to mention another sub-story: The Band of Brothers, who come to Caldwell to try to overthrow Wrath as the king. Their plan is to take care of the Lessers and play on the fear of the Glymera and show that they can take care of business better than the Brotherhood. Of course, Xcor has a “score” to settle with Payne because she killed The Bloodletter. Ward introduces an interesting ménage à trois with two members of the Band of Brothers and a prostitute. It was a little shocking as it was something that I totally did not expect to see in a Ward novel, but she pulls it off!I musn’t neglect to mention Qhuinn and Blay. I like that Ward is giving Qhuinn a bit of a rough time! He so deserves it! It will make him appreciate Blay all the more, and it shows that our boy is growing up a bit. I wonder how long Ward is going to make us wait for Qhuinn to admit his feelings to Blay? And what’s with Qhuinn’s premonition? Will he be mated with Layla?My only complaint is the ending: The story between Payne & Manny and Vishous & Jane comes full circle and ties up nicely, but the ending felt too rushed for me! I had to check my iPod twice to make sure that a part wasn’t missing!Ward's prose has me laughing so hard that I'm crying one moment...Butch, while on the phone with Vishous: “Butch tightened his grip on his cell and wished there were an app that let you reach through a phone and bitch slap someone.”and sobbing the next...Vishous to Jane: "You’re the reason I get out of bed every night. And you’re the reason I can’t wait to come home every dawn. Not the war. Not the Brothers. Not even Butch. It’s . . . you.”Ack! How am I going to make it until March 2012 when the next in the series will be released?? Ward, this is pure and utter torture. Lover Reborn (Book #10) is going to feature Tohr, and I think that Xhex’s mother, No’One, is going to be his love interest! I don’t know how I feel about that! I can’t picture Tohr with anyone but Wellsie. I hope that also means that Xhex and John Matthew will figure prominently in the story. And, if Xhex and John Matthew will play key roles in the book, perhaps Murhder will resurface and make trouble for the two of them?If you love paranormal romances and you haven’t yet read this series, you must! Go online right now and order the series! Don’t get them one at a time because you won’t want to wait between the books! They are so hard to put down!!Unlike the last two in the series, there weren't any technical issues with this audiobook. Frangione, as always, is an absolute delight!MY RATING: 5 stars!! Superb book! I could not put it down!!
Heart of Steel

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I received this audiobook for review from Penguin Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.This is the second book in the Iron Seas series.I was initially disappointed that this book did not feature Mina from the first in the series, The Iron Duke. Rather, the heroine is Yasmeen who was also introduced in the series debut.Yasmeen is the Captain of Lady Corsair, the airship. She is a wonderful character and extremely complex. I love that she is so head-strong and loyal. She initially comes across as cold-hearted and never lets her emotions interfere with her head (hence the title, Heart of Steel). She thinks of herself as practical, never allowing herself to become involved in matters of the heart.Yasmeen's heart is slowly melted by the dashing Archimedes Fox. I loved Archimedes from the moment he was introduced! He is such a romantic and is undeterred from his conquest, Yasmeen, no matter how much she pushes him away. Although they seem like an unlikely match at the outset, you soon see that he is the yin to Yasmeen's yang. I thought they were perfect for each other! I loved their banter, and there a lot of humour:Archimedes to Yasmeen: "Goddammit. Can't I save you just once?"And there is sweetness:Yasmeen to Archimedes: "Ah," she said watching his face. Her sneer mocked him. "It is easy to fall in love with a woman who is always making you feel more of a big powerful man. You ought not have picked me, after all."Archimedes: "That isn't it." He didn't question his abilities. "It is simply difficult to know I offer nothing at all to the woman I'm falling in love with." Her expression lightened.Yasmeen: "You offer me nothing? Stupid man. You already give me what few men could. It is rare the man who has the confidence to let me be what I am, whether it is captaining an airship, climbing atop you in a steamcoach, or brawling in a tavern."This book is more of an adventure than the previous book. I was swept up in their quest to find the da Vinci sketch. I really enjoyed the story!Now that I have become accustomed to Adele's accent, I had no trouble at all with her narration. I thought she was well-suited for the book.MY RATING: 4 stars! I really enjoyed it!!
The Iron Duke

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I received this audiobook for review from Penguin Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.This is my first foray into the steampunk genre! For those who are as unfamiliar with the genre as I am, here is the definition from Wikipedia: “Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.“In other words, the book has an historical feel to it but with futuristic (sci-fi) inventions.The book takes place in Victorian-era England. The book refers to a group called “The Horde” and, if my understanding is correct, I believe this refers to the Golden Horde if my sleuthing skills on Wikipedia steered me in the right direction! As for how historically accurate the book is, I cannot comment. Getting back to the story: The Horde hid nano-agents in every day food items such as tea and sugar. Nothing happened to the people who became infected with the nano-agents, until The Horde activated the bugs and were able to take control of the people by emitting frequency signals through large radio towers. During this period, there were times known as “The Frenzy” when people had no control of their emotions and sexual urges.Enter the Iron Duke, aka Rhys Trahaearn (former pirate), who frees England from The Horde’s control by destroying the tower.The book starts off with Detective Inspector Wilhelmina ("Mina") Wentworth called to a crime scene at the Iron Duke’s home, where a dead body has been dropped on his doorstep from an airship. In a nutshell, Mina and Rhys work together to try to find out who is behind the murder.This book was hard for me to get into because there was some terminology used that I was unfamiliar with: The Horde, bounders, buggers. I was so confused that I felt like I needed a glossary! Added to this, the narrator (Faye Adele) has a very strong British accent that I found difficult to understand at times. When she pronounced “Trahaearn,” it sounded to be me like “Johann,” so I actually thought that the Iron Duke/Rhys and Trahaearn were two different people! I became so confused that I requested the book from the library so that I could flip through it. For inquiring minds that want to know: buggers are those who were infected by the nano-agents or “bugs” during the period of the Horde occupation; bounders are the ones who were able to flee England before the Horde took control and have returned now that the Iron Duke has freed England.As I became used to Adele’s accent and started to understand what was going on, I began to enjoy the story.I really like Mina: She’s a strong heroine, fiercely loyal to her family, and puts all others before herself. Her mother was raped by a Mongol during one the Horde “frenzies,” and Mina was conceived as a result of this. After Mina’s birth, her mother scratched her own eyes out (literally) when she saw that Mina’s features resembled those of her biological father. As a result, Mina’s upbringing wasn’t easy. Even as an adult, she is taunted and sometimes attacked which is why she must always be accompanied by Constable Newberry who acts not only as her assistant but also her bodyguard. I was actually rooting for her not to fall in love with the Iron Duke because I didn’t care for him at all. I was hoping Mina would fall for Newberry instead! I thought the Iron Duke was extremely brazen, arrogant, and pushy! I must admit, though, their love scenes were hot!I was very excited when I read in the synopsis that the book contained zombies, but they really play a very minor role in this book. If you are looking for a zombie novel, this one will not satiate your appetite.Brook has created a very clever world, and I love her use of nanotechnology. However, I wish that there had been more “world-building” in the beginning. I felt thrust into this unknown territory and had trouble at first following and embracing the story.Despite my rocky start with the book, I did end up enjoying it and am looking forward to listening to the next audiobook in the series!MY RATING: 3 stars!
The Sign of the Beaver (E.G. Speare)

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I read this book aloud to my children. It has won several literary awards, including: 1984 Newbery Honor, 1984 Scott O'Dell Award, and 1988 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee.Wow, what an adventure! I love survival stories like this.The story takes place in 1769 and involves a 12 year-old boy named Matt. Matt's father has bought land in a new township in Maine, and the two of them have been building their new log-cabin home as well as planting crops. Matt's mother, sister, and new baby stayed behind in Massachusetts while the "men" got things set-up for the family's permanent move to Maine.During the summer of 1769, Matt's father makes the trek back to Massachusetts to bring the rest of the family to the new home in Maine. It is expected that it will take six to seven weeks, round-trip. Matt is left in charge of the home and crops in Maine, with his father's rifle for both protection and hunting.There is much work to be done tending to the crops and chinking the spaces between the logs of the cabin. Matt works hard, and he keeps himself busy to help pass the time while he is alone. Of course, he experiences some adventures along the way! He makes friends with the local Beaver tribe, who initially are very hesitant to trust a "white" boy.August, the time for Matt's family to arrive, comes and goes. Autumn passes, and soon it is winter. The chief of the local Beaver tribe tells Matt that they intend to leave the area and travel north to follow the moose. The tribe worries that something has happened to Matt's family and fear that they will not return now that it is already winter. They invite Matt to come with them, and the chief lovingly promises to treat Matt as his own blood. It is a heartbreaking moment, and Matt must decide whether to try to brave the harsh winter completely alone and isolated or go with the Beaver tribe where he will be safe. What would you do?We loved this story! This is one of those books where my kids actually begged, "Just one more chapter, please?" It was hard for even me to put down, and it took a lot of discipline to keep my own hands away from the book and not read ahead!This is a fantastic book to read with your kids, and I highly recommend it! This would also be a perfect choice for someone who is a reluctant reader.MY RATING: 5 stars!! We loved it!!
Lover Mine: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

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Wow – just, wow!!This book totally knocked my socks off!After the cliff-hanger in Lover Avenged, I could hardly wait to start Lover Mine...and it did not disappoint!**SPOILER WARNING! Xhex is one tough chick! I love her!! Lover Avenged ended with Lash kidnapping Xhex, and this one continues right where we last left off. John Matthew is devastated, thinking that Lash has surely tortured and killed Xhex. He gets her name written in the old language tattooed across the back of his shoulders, just as the Brothers would have done during a Mating Ceremony. In his case, John Matthew does it as a memorial to Xhex. It is heartbreaking, and you can feel his pain.John Matthew actually succeeds in finding Lash’s lair but, because of the spell that Lash has put in place, no one can see or hear Xhex in the bedroom. She reaches out and touches John Matthew’s face, and he reacts to her touch and covers her hand with his own. He can feel her, but he cannot see her. He dismisses this as being just his imagination. He sees her blood, and he is certain that he is too late.Luckily for Xhex, Lash is going through a sort of transformation which has weakened his spell. She is able to escape the barrier and heads for her basement apartment. John Matthew finds her there, barely alive. John Matthew lovingly takes care of Xhex and moves her to the Brotherhood’s mansion.I was captivated by the developments in John Matthew’s and Xhex’s relationship. They are totally hot together, and Ward has made another sexy duo! Xhex is the perfect partner for John Matthew, and not just because of her mind-reading ability (which comes in handy when you are with someone who can’t speak!). They bring out the best in each other, and they love each other just as they are.I did a lot of weeping in this one! Keep that Kleenex box handy!! Here is just a sampling: Xhex to John Matthew: “You're not half the male you could be because of what was done to you. You're twice what anyone else is because you survived.” John Matthew to Xhex: “Yes", he mouthed. "I would hold you up. I will ever hold you up and hold you dear, lover mine."It was nice to see John Matthew lose the attitude that he developed in Lover Avenged. Patching things up with Tohr was a long time coming.I had a feeling where the sub-plot of Darius and Tohr was heading, and I was right! Nice tie-in, Ward! But you completely blindsided me with No’One!I was also totally clueless about the Eliahu Rathboone sub-plot! I did not see that one coming, and I am really intrigued where that one is going to lead! It smells like trouble!Qhuinn is still resisting his urge where Blaylock is concerned, and there are a couple of intense scenes with the two of them. I feel so sorry for Blay, poor guy!Once again, we end on a cliff-hanger with Wrath sparring with Payne. Tragedy strikes, and we wait with baited breath to see what happens next!Again, I noticed some technical issues with this audiobook. On several occasions, I could actually hear the technician say "ok" before Frangione starts narrating. Other than that, it was fine. I love Frangione. His narration is impeccable! I could listen to him all day long!!MY RATING: 5 stars!! Superb book! I could not put it down!!
Adrenaline

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I received this audiobook for review from Hachette Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.Adrenaline is a fast-paced thriller that will leave you wanting more!Sam Capra is a CIA agent whose pregnant wife, Lucy (also a CIA agent), has been kidnapped after a bombing of the CIA offices. A phone call Lucy makes to Sam telling him to leave the building moments before the bomb goes off leads the CIA to believe that Lucy double-crossed the CIA and planted the bomb and that Sam was involved in the duplicitous scheme as well. Sam’s mission is to find his wife and clear her name, as well as his own.Sam is a bit of a smart-ass, and I love that about him! He is extremely sharp, and his loyalty to his wife is unerring. I love the character of Mila as well, the Russian woman who recruits Sam to help her find the daughter of a very rich businessman/scientist.The pace of book is fast and enjoyable. I did successfully deduce the identity of the mastermind behind the operation, but that did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book. Abbott has created a very interesting cast of characters (which I think would translate very well to the big screen, by the way!), and I think this book is a fantastic start to a new series! The end of the book sets up the next one in the series beautifully, and I cannot wait to see what is next in store for Capra! I hope that we will learn more about mysterious Mila and that she will stick around for a long time!Abbott is a new-to-me author, and I am definitely planning to check out his previous novels while I anxiously await the next Capra novel!This is my first audiobook narrated by Kevin T. Collins, and he had me totally captivated. Not only did he create unique voices for each of the characters, but his narration had varied levels of intensity that dripped with emotion. I thought Collins did a superb job!MY RATING: 5 stars!! I loved it, and I wait with anticipation for the next in the series! Thank you, Hachette Audio!
One Summer

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I received this audiobook for review from Hachette Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.I should preface this review by saying that this is not the type of book that I normally pick up, but the synopsis was very appealing to me and I thought that this would make a perfect summer read!This is a heartbreaking love story, and you will be in tears as you read this! Jack Armstrong, a young married man in his mid-30s with three children, is dying of a terminal disease. As his family prepares for his death, the unthinkable happens – Jack’s wife, Lizzie, is killed in an automobile accident. If that wasn’t bad enough, his in-laws take the children away from their father to live across the country. And if THAT wasn’t bad enough, they split the children up with the eldest child staying with their maternal grandparents and the two younger ones living with each maternal aunt. Can a protagonist be any more tragic? He loses his wife and his children in one fell swoop. Left to die alone without the comfort of his children, Jack is taken into a hospice facility to live-out his remaining days.The miraculous happens and, instead of dying, Jack gets better! He improves gradually and is moved to a rehabilitative facility to regain the use of and strengthen his atrophied muscles. Wanting desperately to reunite his family is what drives this man to overcome the odds.Baldacci is a new-to-me author, and I loved this book! This is one of those books that you read with a lump in your throat and an ache in your chest, with wet Kleenexes strewn about, and a tear-streaked face. I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a similar situation and how devastating it would be to lose my husband and be separated from my children! Talk about an unbearable situation!Baldacci’s prose is beautiful and touching, especially as he reads the lovely letters that he had written to his wife for her to read after his death. Oh my, you cannot help but be moved to tears!The message that Baldacci leaves the reader with is that love transcends all, and it is not limited to time or space or even life. We all need to be reminded of this from time to time, and anyone who has lost a loved one will find comfort in this poignant novel. So, it isn’t just about loss and grief, but also about love and life and healing.This is also my first audiobook with Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy as narrators. I enjoyed having the two narrators, McLarty as Jack and other male characters and Cassidy as Lizzie and other female characters. Both narrators gave unique characteristics to each person, so it was easy to differentiate between them all. The narration was superb, and rich with emotion. I felt as though I was watching a play with my eyes closed, and I was completely captivated by their voices. I was surprised that some instrumental interludes were added to the reading, and it did have the desired dramatic effect.I loved One Summer, and I plan to read more of Baldacci!MY RATING: 5 stars!! I loved it, and I highly recommend it!! Thank you, Hachette Audio!
One Pelican at a Time

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I received this book for review from the author. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.If I was shopping at a book store, this is exactly the type of picture book that I would hope to find. I prefer something non-fiction, something of educational value, or something that models good character traits. This book fits all of my criteria!The book teaches children about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and explains how it affected the environment and wildlife. Geared for ages 7-12, the language was appropriate for my 9-year old daughter. My 3-year old also listened with interest to the story.Bella and Britt, who are best friends, discover that the local pelican is covered in oil. They ask a nearby adult for help, who brings the pelican's plight to the attention of the workers in the area who are cleaning up the oil spill. After the bird is rescued and taken to the bird sanctuary, Bella and Britt help to gently clean the oil off of it.Stewart stresses the importance of saving the environment and gives suggestions to her young readers that they can incorporate into their daily lives to help them be "a bit greener," such as: Turning off lights when they are not being used, not running the water when brushing teeth, and unplugging appliances when they are not in use. I loved that the author included these suggestions because it shows children that even they can make a difference!Stewart also includes child-friendly website links for readers to visit to learn more about oil spills.The illustrations by Bell are colourful, lovely, and appealing to the reader. I love that the best friends, Bella and Britt, are depicted as racially different. This teaches an unspoken lesson about the diversity of our population and acceptance of others who may look different from ourselves.My 9-year old is a nature-lover and favours non-fiction books, specifically anything that has to do with wildlife. She absolutely adored this book and read it the moment it arrived as soon as she saw the cover.There are currently two other books in this series: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer. You can read more about these books at the author's website. I know my nature-loving kids will want to read these as well!MY RATING: 5 stars!! I loved it, and so did my kids!! Thank you, Nancy!
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