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Audiobook Review – Euphoria – Lily King

euphoriaEuphoria
Author: Lily King

Narrators: Simon Vance, Xe Sands
Run Time: 6hr 53 min

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Audiobook Jukebox

Description:
English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying a tribe on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial Australian husband Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair.

Nell and Fen have their own reasons for befriending Bankson. Emotionally and physically raw from studying the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo tribe, the couple is hungry for a new discovery. But when Bankson leads them to the artistic, female-dominated Tam, he ignites an intellectual and emotional firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone’s control. Ultimately, their groundbreaking work will make history, but not without sacrifice.

Review:
I had heard this book raved about in several audiobook groups I am part of, so when I was offered the opportunity to review it through audiobook jukebox, I jumped on it (mostly because the copy at my library had 60+ people on the wait list..). Plus the narrators (Simon Vance and Xe Sands) are two of my favorites. There was something about the description that caught my attention – i haven’t read a lot about cultural anthropology but it is an area that interests me, the idea of living intimately with a group of people for a period of time, learning about their way of life.

However, I don’t think that I could truly appreciate the beauty of the language and writing style because I made the dumb mistake of listening to the audiobook while on a road trip. And I know now that I really shouldn’t have been listening at 11pm at night – it wasn’t fair to the author or the book. That being said, I did like what I remember listening to. The language was lyrical and the story moved at a nice pace. I felt like the author did a good job of managing the tension in the relationships between the three main characters.

I think my one disappointment with the story was that I expected a bit more about the tribe of people they lived with – at times, it felt like the lives of Nell, Fen and Andrew drown out the premise of living with the natives in New Guinea. It also felt like the ending was a bit rushed to me – I was left (even if it was 3am) feeling like something was missing. I guess because I am ultimately a romantic at heart and the ending didn’t quite feel complete to me.

While I had some issues with parts of the storyline, I had no issues with the narrators. Simon Vance has been a favorite of mine since I listened to him do the Steig Larsson books and Xe Sands is one of my favorite romance narrators. I do wish that there had been more Xe – the majority of the book was narrated by Simon Vance – not that I don’t like him (in fact, I totally fangirl gush over his narration at times), I just wanted more Xe. I’ll say that while she warned me prior to listening that I may need to turn up the volume for her parts because they were quieter, I didn’t have that issue – I didn’t have to adjust the volume on my car audio at all while listening.

Overall, I gave both the book and the narration 3.5 stars but am intrigued to see how that would be adjusted should I re-listen to it later on.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Audiobook Review

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – 10 series I want to start

top ten tuesday

Where to begin…I thought when I took a look at this Top 10, that coming up with 10 series that I REALLY wanted to start would be easy – I could just look through my Goodreads shelves and be done…but of course that wasn’t the case. I had a lot of books that were first in series on them, but when I sat down at thought about it, I wasn’t jumping up and down to read them – which is kind of how I interpreted the “want to start” portion of the question. My other issue is that books that were first in the series that I wanted to start reading, I had either already read a later book (for whatever reason)…so those were also knocked off my list.

Either way, here we go (these are in no particular order for excitment/intention):

a trace of smokeHannah Vogel – Rebecca Cantrell
Book #1 – A Trace of Smoke
A mystery series, featuring crime reporter, Hannah Vogel, set in 1930’s Germany. This series intrigues me because of the time period – I’ve always been interested in the 1930’s and 1940’s, particularly in Europe. I’ve never read any of the authors stand-alone books, but did enjoy the book that she co-wrote with James Rollins.

the coronerJenny Cooper – M.R. Hall
Book #1 – The Coroner
I’m a huge fan of mysteries with a medical basis, so with the main character in the Jenny Cooper series being a coroner, it seems to be right up my alley. Plus, I’m on a bit of a kick of books set in the UK right now.

dragon actuallyDragon Kin – G.A. Aiken
Book #1 – Dragon Actually
Lots of my friends swear by this author (who also writes under the name Shelley Laurenston) and this book has been loitering on the virtual TBR pile for a while – supposedly if you like humorous paranormal romances, she is a go-to author. I’ve found her books under her other name to be a bit hit/miss – sometimes the humor is pitch perfect, other times it feels really forced. But I’m interested in checking this one out.

night falls darklyShadow Guard – Kim Lenox
Book #1 – Night Falls Darkly
I’m always on the lookout for unique paranormal romances – and while I don’t remember when I added this one to my shelf, I occasionally come across it and think that I need to try the series, but then I get distracted. I love the idea of paranormal romance that is set in a historical time period, rather than contemporary.

mind gamesThe Disillusionists – Carolyn Crane
Book #1 – Mind Games
This might be a little bit cheating because its only a trilogy and I technically read the prequel to it in an anthology a couple of years ago, but I recently found my copy of the book when I was tidying up my bookshelves which reminded me that I still needed to read it. Looking forward to digging in soon.

teh restorerGraveyard Queen – Amanda Stevens
#1 – The Restorer
I’ve been told that I HAVE to read this book and its on the TBR pile – I really like the idea of a Graveyard Restorer – it is something that I have never come across in a book series before. I’m looking forward to reading it sometime in the near future.

still lifeChief Inspector Armand Gamache – Louise Penny
Book #1 – Still Life
This is another series where reading friends swear up and down that I need to read – in fact, I’ve had book 1 in audiobook format sitting on the virtual to-listen pile for a while. Although reviews of the most recent book were a bit iffy, so I’m undecided if I want to risk diving into another series that I may end up disliking

return of captain john emmettLaurence Bartram – Elizabeth Speller
#1 – The Return of Captain John Emmett
I’d actually never heard of this series until I randomly came across book 1 while I was browsing the audio books at my local library – but after reading the description – a mystery set in post-WW1 England, I’m intrigued and looking forward to reading it. Plus a friend of mine who is a notoriously hard reviewer gave it 4 stars, which means it must be good

lickStage Dive – Kylie Scott
Book #1 – Lick
This is a series that many of my friends, both on Goodreads and blogs are raving about right now. I will admit that i have a fondness for rock star romances – I love the bad boy trope. But I will admit upfront that I am probably going to read this series out of order, because my library have #3 available to borrow the other day and I grabbed it.

prudenceThe Custard Protocal – Gail Carriger
Book #1 – Prudence
So this series isn’t being released until March next year, but I can’t wait to read it. I loved all the books in the Parasol Protectorate series (even the one that others seemed to hate), as well as the pseudo-prequel books in the Finishing School series.

The only question remaining is: What do I start?

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Meme

 

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It’s Monday – What Are You Reading?

monday reading
Have you every had one of those weekends where you know the rest of your work week is going to be long and painful. That was me this weekend – being a Navy reservist, I do one weekend a month of duty – which normally means long hours – case in point, last night (Sunday), I didn’t walk i the door until 7:30pm after leaving at 5:30am. Yes, I know it probably seems a bit whiney and I shouldn’t but some days I get grumpy. I think I may put a grumpy bear warning on my desk at work. Hopefully, reading this week, will put me in a better place.

murder on murray hillMurder in Murray Hill – Victoria Thompson
Frank Malloy has never known any life other than that of a cop, but his newfound inheritance threatens his position within his department. While trying to keep both his relationship with Sarah and his fortune under wraps, he’s assigned to a new case—finding a missing young woman for her worried father, Henry Livingston.

It seems the girl had been responding to “lonely hearts” ads in the paper for months before she disappeared. Her father thinks that she’s eloped with a deceptive stranger, but Malloy fears the worst, knowing that the grifters who place such ads often do much more than simply abscond with their victims. But as Sarah and Malloy delve deeper into a twisted plot targeting the city’s single women, it’s their partnership—both professional and private—that winds up in the greatest peril

I’ve been reading this series in bits and pieces over the last few months. I like the fact that I can easily jump around between books in the series without being too lost – while there is some story arc, it isn’t so detailed that you get lost. I’m only about an hour into this audiobook but I am enjoying it so far and looking forward to listening to it during my commute to work this week.

i shall be near youI Shall Be Near You – Erin Lindsey McCabe
Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she’s always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she’s told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

I won this book during the Penguin First Reads giveaway about 6 months ago, but like normal, it got added to the mountain range that is my to-be-read pile – but for some reason, it right it looks intriguing, so I’m digging on in. I’ve heard good things about it from people on Twitter, so fingers crossed.

designed by loveDesigned By Love – Kelsey Browning
Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.
That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.
Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together

I always love getting ARC’s from authors I love – and Kelsey Browning is no different. This is the 4th book in her Texas Nights series and the second one i’ve gotten the opportunity to read/review early. Its actually been burning a hole in my TBR pile for close to a month, but since it isn’t released until November, I wanted to hold off reading it for a little bit while – so my mind was fresh-ish when it came time to post my review

judgmentJudgment – Carey Baldwin
hen a coed falls prey to a sadistic murderer, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin “Caity” Cassidy and Special Agent Atticus Spenser are called in to testify–one for the defense, one for the prosecution. With warring approaches to justice, these two rivals have been butting heads for years–both inside the courtroom and out. And at first, this case appears to be no different.

But when a brutal attack leaves the accused man dead and Caity in critical condition, petty differences take a backseat to saving lives. As the lone survivor, Caity knows too much, and the killer–a madman calling himself the Man in the Maze–is coming back for round two. Now Caity and Spense must join forces to uncover the killer’s identity before Caity’s time–and luck–runs out.

This is another new to me author – I happened to come across her in a facebook group (I think it was for Avon romance…) and she was looking for reviewers for her new book – I was intrigued enough by the description that I asked her for a review copy and looking forward to reading it.

Wish me luck on my reading week ;)

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Review – Red – Kate SeRine

redRed
Author: Kate SeRine
Series: #1 in the Transplanted Tales series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Description:
“My name is Tess Little. But everyone calls me Red.”

Once upon a time, a spell went awry, stranding Make Believe characters in the ordinary world. Since then, Tess “Red” Little—a/k/a Little Red Riding Hood—has worked as an Enforcer for the Chicago branch of the Fairytale Management Authority. But, consider yourself warned—she’s not just some waif with a basket of goodies. All grown up and with nothing to lose, a gun and combat boots is more her style. And Red’s new assignment threatens to be short on happily ever afters…

Someone is murdering transplanted Tales in gruesome fashion. The list of fictional characters capable of such grisly acts is short and includes more than one of Red’s old flames. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another complication, in the form of sexy, enigmatic Nate Grimm, the FMA’s lead detective and part-time Reaper. Used to following her own rules and living life on the edge, Red has managed to avoid taking on a partner until now. But Nate’s dark side makes him perfect for a case like this. That is, if she can trust him. Because if there’s one thing Red knows for sure, it’s that believing in the wrong person can have big, bad consequences…

Review:
Every three months I start a reading challenge on goodreads that consists of various tasks (like read a book with a certain element on the cover; or set in a certain location). One of these tasks is a group read – every season 3 books, in different themes, are selected by the group members – you have to read 1 of the books to complete the task. Red by Kate SeRine was selected as the group read for the theme, Fairy Tale Re-tellings (the other two books that were selected were A is for Alibi for First Book in a Cozy Mystery series and All the Light We Cannot See for Modern Literary biggies). Of the 3 books, Red was the only one that seemed remotely interesting – I’d previously DNF’d A is for Alibi and All the Light We Cannot See just didn’t intrigue me.

Unfortunately, while it was the most intriguing to me, overall it just didn’t work for me. It was really hard for me to get to into the book. I found it really easy to put the book down (or move onto another book that was in the pile). When I look back now, I think it was because there was just too much going on with the storyline. I liked the idea of fairy tales who have come to life and live in the real world, integrating much like you see vampires/werewolves in paranormal romance – just being one of the people. But it wasn’t just fairy tales, like Little ‘Red’ Riding Hood (the main character), there were characters from classic literature (Ms. Bennett and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice); the Grim Reaper and even elements from various mythologies. Too many characters, and stories to track, which contributed to my struggle.

The mystery element, by itself, was interesting – tales (as they called) being murdered in gruesome/sadistic ways – and Red, as a character was intriguing (if a bit annoying at times). although she did have a few TSTL moments where I wanted to Gibbs-slap her. I felt like the author did a good job of laying down false pathways to figure out the who did it – but at the same time, I was totally blind-sided by the result. Even reflecting now, I didn’t see any clues that would have tied the mystery back to the person who did it. That was a bit, I don’t know…I like mysteries where I can actually try and guess who it was, not be completely out of the loop.

The overall ending of the book, also left me with questions – i get that its the first book in a series but it needed some more of a conclusion. But the excerpt from the second book caught my eye and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll probably try it, even though I’m only giving Red 2 stars (normally below my level for continuing a series).

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – Just for You – Rosalind James

just for youJust for You
Author: Rosalind James
Series: #.5 in the Escape to New Zealand series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
No shirt, no shoes, no … problems?

Hemi Ranapia isn’t looking for love. Fun, yes. Love, not so much. But a summer fishing holiday to laid-back Russell could turn out to be more adventure than this good-time boy ever bargained for.

Reka Harata hasn’t forgotten the disastrously hot rugby star she met a year ago, no matter how much she wishes she could. Too bad Hemi keeps refusing to be left in her past.

Sometimes, especially in New Zealand’s Maori Northland, it really does take a village. And sometimes it just takes a little faith.

Review:
If you are new to Rosalind James or have previously read her books, Just for You works for everyone. Notionally, a prequel to her Escape to New Zealand series, it focuses on Hemi and Reka who are pivotal secondary characters through the other 5 books in the series. So if you have read the series, like me, you are probably looking forward to their story and if you are new to the series, then it is a great place to start.

Just for You was originally a novella that showed up in one of the Amazon box sets, but the author re-released it as a single title a few months after. So it was also a short read, but I will say that the author managed to put a lot of detail and story into a 33k words. This book, much more than previous ones, really highlighted how much the author knows about rugby – at times I felt like I was actually watching the game.

My biggest gripe was the “big misunderstanding” which is personally one of my least favorite tropes in romance. It just bugs me because most of the time, it could be cleared up with a couple of simple questions. While I liked Reka in previous books, this just kind of irked me – maybe because it wasn’t how I thought she’d act based on previous characterization.

Aside from that, my only other complaint is that I wished it was a little bit longer – I really liked Hemi/Reka as a couple and would love to see more of them as they settled into their lives together. I guess all I can hope is that the author will continue to feature them in more books. Overall, I gave Just for You 3.5 stars and look forward to continuing the series.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Random Reads – October

random reads

So I’m coming a little bit late to this for October, since I just found the meme, but I love the idea. I’m always really bad about adding books to my TBR list on Goodreads and then they just sit there, until I clean off the list and move them to some other virtual list. Since I use multiple TBR lists on Goodreads, I’m going to stick with my To-Read-2014 List for this challenge. These are books that I have found randomly intriguing throughout the year – I try to keep it relatively up to date (as compared to my general to-read that has 1200+ books on it).

As of October 16, 2014, this list has 405 books on it – by using random.org and the random number generator set between 1 and 405 – I got 345 which corresponds to Bully – Penelope Douglas. I added this to my to-read shelf in July of this year, so its a relatively new one on the shelf, but I’m hearing lots of people talk about it on Goodreads and Amazon – it seems to be a fairly polarizing book – either you love it or you hate it.

bully

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Audiobook Review – The Martian – Andy Weir

the martianThe Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Audiobook Length: 10h4s 53 min
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review:
Every so often (although more frequently), there are books that people rave about, and rave about and sometimes I avoid the temptation to jump in and read and other times I take the plunge. I’d been hearing about The Martian on and off for probably a good year nearly from various online reading groups, so when it was selected as a group read in one of my Goodreads groups, I toddled off to Audible and grabbed the audiobook. Of course, as usual, I had several other books to finish up first before I could start it, but when I did, holy roller coaster of a ride. As I started listening, the whole storyline reminded me of that 1980’s TV show MacGyver (with the fantabulous Richard Dean Anderson). You know, where you give RDA a carrot, a battery and a spoon and he constructs a working bomb – that is who Mark Watney reminded me of. Of course, he wasn’t hunting (or being hunted by bad guys), or blowing things up (well…not on purpose at least) – but the problem solving mentally was perfect.

I’ll admit that I am not a science geek by any stretch of a means, so a lot of that kind of stuff went right over my head – especially when they had the guy talking about orbital physics (I can barely spell it – I just had to resort to using spell check to spell physics…). But even with all that, the technically stuff was for the most part, addressed in a way that even a lay person could attempt to understand – which the author used technie words/theories, he also tried to dumb them down for normal people. I think if the story had just been limited to Mark’s POV, it would have been a lot weaker overall – however, the integration of the NASA scientists who are trying to rescue him and his former crew-members who left him for dead, made the storyline much more intriguing.

The narrator, R.C. Bray, is brand-new to me but I can tell you that it won’t be the last time I listen to him. He managed to toe the line between comedic inference and serious moments perfectly. There were times when I was laughing so hard at his narration that I was crying. I found that his voice distinctions between Mark and the assortment of other characters was well-defined, even down to his narration of the Chinese astronaut and the Indian astrophysicist. I highly recommend him as a narrator to try.

Overall, I gave both the book and narration 4 stars, and glad that I took the opportunity to listen to it. Personally, for me, I think it worked better in audio, than reading, but that might just be me.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Audiobook Review

 

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