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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Review – Edie and the CEO – Mary Hughes

edie and the ceoEdie and the CEO
Author: Mary Hughes
Release Date: 4 February, 2013

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
Edie Rowan is passionate about workers’ rights, wanting her Sixties protester grandparents to be proud of her. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Kirk is Mr. Ultra-Executive with his expensive hand-tailored suits and his eyes the steel blue of a finely tempered sword—but for the intriguing contradictions of his neat ponytail and square workman’s hands.

Edie’s latest disaster, a teambuilding exercise gone facepalm wrong, leads to a knockdown drag-out with rival manager Bethany “The B”—or add the “Itch”—Blondelle. The incident is the last straw for Kirk. He sends Edie to management camp and to her shock, announces he will drive her there himself. She wonders why he would want eighteen hours of enforced intimacy with her, even as she’s dazzled by his sparkling white smile and killer dimple.

Everett walks away from the confrontation with a headache. For years he has protected Edie from the fallout of her righteous crusading, but this may be the last time. A corporate backstabber is trying to eject Everett from his job. Even so, he’s looking forward to spending time on the drive with Edie, attracted to her sunny red curls, fiery personality and fine dark eyes.

Then a snowstorm forces them to seek shelter in an empty mountain cabin. Edie thinks she will take the lead in wilderness survival but Kirk proves more durable than his Italian loafers and silk sweater would suggest. The extended stay rubs them together in all sorts of ways, kindling emotional and physical flames. But when their corporate shells burn away, what secrets will be revealed?

Review:
Pretty much since I joined Goodreads in 2009, I have heard various friends talk about Mary Hughes books – they gush their love for her Biting Nixie series and say that it is completely insane. Yet, for some reason, I have been dragging my feet on reading them – maybe because I’m afraid they will be too hyped up and disappoint – I don’t know. Anyways, one of my friends contacted me and said that Mary was looking for reviewers for her newest contemporary romance and would I be interested – since I hadn’t heard much about it, I jumped at the opportunity (since ultimately, contemporary romances are for the most part my guilty pleasure).

Anyways, from the get-go, I was laughing out loud at Edie’s antics in the office – working with some of the people I do, I’m amazed that stuff like that hasn’t happened yet. She is the kind of manager that I would love to work for – dedicated to the mission and yet caring of her people at the same time – able to walk that fine line between hard work and over work (which is hard for many people to do, I know that I struggle with it).

And then there was Kirk, or Everett – since she referred to him as Kirk through-out most of the book, its hard for my brain to process and flip back/forth between the two (I also had images of Captain Kirk stuck in my head for most of the time that I was reading the book).

I could apparently continue to gush over this book, but I’ll save you guys from that – but I do recommend it and would give it 4 stars. It is also a relatively quick read at about 34k words (about 115ish pages – give or take).

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Classics Challenge – The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkein

the fellowship of the ringThe Fellowship of the Ring
Author: JRR Tolkein
Series: #1 in the Lord of the Rings trilogy

Description:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

Why I chose this book:
I knew going into doing the classics challenge that I wanted to do some classics that were in a specific genre, rather than true classics (as many people would define them). So I chose to pick books that were seen as classics in the sci-fi/fantasy genres (I combined the 2, because there is often some overlap). However, I did use the Lord of the Rings as the listing, so I am planning on doing the entire trilogy – this is just the first installment.

Review:
Having never read these books, I remember standing in line at the movie theater while in college waiting to see the first of the books – and I was with a bunch of Tolkein fanatics (which made for some interesting viewing – I mean, they even spoke elvish…) But for some reason I never actually read the books. So similar to The Hobbit, when I saw that the audiobooks had been re-mastered and released, I jumped on the opportunity to get them – having loved Rob Inglis’ narration of the Hobbit. And he didn’t disappoint in The Fellowship of the Ring.

For me, the one thing that took me by surprise was the length of time that was actually encompassed in the book. From the movies you would have thought that Frodo ended up with the ring and almost immediately left on his journey – but in truth, there was actually a period of about 12 years between when he got it and he left on journey. There were also many things that didn’t quite make it into the movies (Tom Bombadil for one) – which added to the listening experience; and yet at the same time, proved that at its core, there was probably a lot of extraneous stuff in the book that wasn’t needed (and maybe if that was the case and it was reduced a bit more people may read/enjoy it – because it seemed a common complaint that I have seen is the length/meandering style of his writing).

I have to admit that I’m a bit in 2 minds over whether I enjoyed it or not – for the most part I did, and the parts that were reflected in the movie, I was glad to see how they were described in writing; but at the same time – if I hadn’t been listening to the audiobook, I probably would have given up at some point because there were parts where it felt like I wasn’t going anywhere…

Rob Inglis once again nailed the narration from the voice distinction of the different Hobbits; to the continuous voicing of Gandalf (from The Hobbit), I was impressed. I think that my one comment would be, that at times, Gandalf and Aragon started to sound a bit similar to each other – but it wasn’t too overwhelming. I’m curious to start the next book and see how it turns out as compared to the movie and overall because I remember it not being my favorite…Overall, I would give FotR 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Audiobook Review, Classics Challenge

 

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Review – Headed for Trouble – Suzanne Brockmann (@SuzBrockmann)

headed for troubleHeaded For Trouble
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Series: #16.5 in the Troubleshooters series

Thanks to Ballantine Books and Edelweiss for providing me with the review copy

Description:
New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, whom USA Today calls “the reigning queen of military suspense,” breaks out a rapid-fire collection of pulse-pounding, heart-tugging stories and novellas featuring the intrepid men and women of Troubleshooters Inc., fiction’s hottest ultimate counterterrorism squad.
• Tough-as-nails Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett learns the agony of loving someone in danger—and the hell of waiting on the home front—as his wife, Alyssa, hurtles into a foreign hotspot that’s about to boil over.
• Navy SEAL Frank O’Leary’s ill-fated holiday reunion with his older brother takes a turn for the better—when a chance encounter on a rainy New Orleans street gives Frank a reason to be thankful after all.
• In a maze of tunnels deep beneath a military base in Germany, Jules Cassidy, Alyssa Locke, and their comrades in arms match wits with terrorists on a mission with explosive consequences.
Plus more never-before-released adventures featuring Jenk, Izzy, Gillman, Lopez, Kenny, Savannah, and other members of SEAL Team 16—along with Suzanne Brockmann’s exclusive interviews with her beloved characters.

Review:
Oh Suzanne, how I have missed thee ;) It was a sad day when I finished the last few pages of Breaking the Rules (#16 in the series), because I knew that it would be the last one (at least for a while). There would be no more yearly anticipation for the release of the new book in the series and then the torture that I put myself through before letting myself read it (because I knew that once I started, I just wouldn’t stop)…so when I saw that there was an anthology coming out – I did a happy dance (and yes, I truely did…around my house).

This book was comprised of a number of little snippets (day of the life kind of deals), a couple of interviews with characters, a few of the shorts that had appeared as bonus excerpts in books and then my favorite – 2 brand-new short stories – that were actually rather chunky (and I loved them for it!) Trying not to be spoilerish, the first one takes place mostly with secondary characters that appears in All Through The Night (#12 – aka Jules and Robin’s story), so there was actually very little of my favorite SeAL’s showing up in it, but it was still super cute. And the second one, what happens when you mix a SEaL, a famous actor, 3 kids and a bout of food poisoning in BFE (in case you don’t know what that means, butt-f… egypt)…hilarity ensues for sure.

I would totally recommend this for anyone who has read and loved Suz’s characters in the past. If you haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, you might get a bit lost, but maybe these snippets will entice you to pick up the other books in the series. I just hope that Suz’s puts us out of our misery and revisits the teams in a few years with some new stories (puleeze!!). 4 stars!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The List – Karin Tanabe

the listThe List
Author: Karin Tanabe
Release Date: 5 February, 2013

Review Copy Provided by Washington Square Press, via Edelweiss

Description:
Meet Adrienne Brown, a twenty-eight-year-old Wellesley College grad who recently left her glamorous job at Town & Country for a spot at the Capitolist. Known simply as the List to Beltway insiders, it’s the only media outlet in D.C. that’s actually on the rise. Taking the job means accepting a painful pay cut, giving up perks like free Louboutins, and moving back in with her parents, but Adrienne is certain that her new position will be the making of her career. And it is—but not at all in the way that she expects. The Capitolist runs at an insane pace: Adrienne’s up before five in the morning, writing ten stories a day (sometimes on her BlackBerry, often during her commute), and answering every email within three minutes. Just when it seems like the frenetic workload is going to break her, she stumbles upon a juicy political affair, involving a very public senator—and her most competitive colleague. Discovering that there’s much more to the relationship than meets the eye, Adrienne realizes she’s got the scoop of a lifetime. But should she go public with the story?

Review:
Having lived and worked in DC for nearly three years now as a member of the Federal Gov’t, I was immediately drawn to the description provided. I mean, most of us have probably caught glimpses of those government/celebrity scandals on different TV stations and wondered how they came to list – which is what Ms. Tanabe did in her debut novel, The List.

I have to admit, however, that as the book progressed, I became more and more conflicted about the outcome and what route Adrienne would take. While so much of the book was a play on the hypocrisy of people in situations like that (and I have been in them to), I kept hoping that she would take the high road. But in the end, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the outcome. I had grown to like Adrienne as a character, as well as the various secondary cast, but her actions, ultimately pissed me off. Yet, this highlighting of the hypocrisy of peoples actions in order to make their mark and get ahead was intriguing. Much of my career in the military has been similar – and there is a reason that one of the unofficial mottos in my career field is stab, stab, look, stab stab…because there is a belief that in order to get ahead, you need to be able/willing to sacrifice others. What kind of society have we turned into where that is acceptable is scary unto itself…

While I have to say that I disliked the ending, overall, I remained intrigued through-out most of the book and will be interested in seeing what this author comes up with in the future. I would give it 3.5 stars overall, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – A Mango-shaped Space – Wendy Mass

mango-shaped spaceA Mango-Shaped Space
Author: Wendy Mass

Description:
Mia Winchell appears to be a typical kid, but she’s keeping a big secret—sounds, numbers, and words have color for her. No one knows, and Mia wants to keep it that way. But when trouble at school finally forces Mia to reveal her secret, she must learn to accept herself and embrace her ability, called synesthesia, a mingling of the senses.

Review:
It was funny, when I was talking to my friend Naomi about the book I was currently reading (this one), she made the comment back that I find the weirdest/interesting books to read and how did I do it (of course, there was various other friendly banter in the convo, but that was the gist of it). And I came to realize that is true – so many of my book recommendations come from lists off goodreads and they are ones I never would have picked up before. Case in point, I found A Mango-Shaped Space on a thread called, the best books you never would have read except for this challenge – talking about the Seasonal Reading Challenge, I have done for nearly two years now (and it was the first time I have looked at that thread).

The thing I loved the most about this book was the pure simplicity of it – while so many YA books now a days are so complicated with family issues; or world building – Mia’s life was about as close to perfect as you can get, except for the fact that she sees colors in everything around her – not in the way that most of us see colors (trees are green etc), but rather that words have colors – her name and those around her; numbers; dates in history. I vaguely remember learning about synethesia when i was taking psychology in college, but haven’t read/heard much about it since then – so I was intrigued. You could tell that the author had really done her research and managed to balance telling about the disease through the characterizations; but also just letting the story play out.

I have to admit that I did see the ending coming relatively early on, but then, since it was a YA book that doesn’t surprise me – they normally are fairly telling if you can pick up on the clues. I would probably recommend that parents preview the end before letting their kids read because of one thing that happens (death is a theme through-out and something that parents should be aware of because all kids react differently). I’ll definately be looking for more books by the author in the future. 4 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Last Snow of Winter – Ian Muise

last snow of winterThe Last Snow of Winter
Author: Ian Muise

Description:
As spring break arrives, Mark Poole is focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian, set on pleasing his proud parents even though he really wants to be artist. He also carefully keeps his desires frozen-for their sake. But he can’t help the attraction he feels for the burly, unapproachable lineman who shares two of his classes.Cliff Stevens is equally set on achieving his adopted dream of becoming a professional football player to the exclusion of almost everything else. Cliff drifts through the days alone, but he can guess what Mark has in mind when he catches him watching one day.After an accidental encounter, Cliff proposes a bargain: for one week during the break, they will set aside their reservations and play at being together, exploring each other and perhaps even learning a little about themselves as well.

Review:
Its weird, normally when I don’t like a book, I can pick that one element that made it so for me – the characterization, a situation that I couldn’t get past the believability (even in fiction), but in this book, there just wasn’t that one thing overall that I could pinpoint – it was more of a general dislike. I chose to read it for 3 reasons – 1) it was on a list of challenge books in one of my goodreads groups that I had to pick from; 2) it was a new to me author and I am always interested in trying those out and 3) it fit for another reading challenge (snow in the title) – so there were multiple reasons why – and while some of my GR friends had given it iffy reviews, my normal ones that I look and trust hadn’t read it – so I decided to give it a chance – I kind of wish, I had paid more attention to the naysayers.

I think my biggest issue, if I was to chose one, was how dated it felt. The book was published in 2010 and as far as I could tell (there were no specific dates mentioned), it was supposed to be a contemporary. However, it was set in a college where the students didn’t have their own computers – the one main character had to go to a computer lab (and get permission to use it) in order to write his term papers. Now, maybe I am out of the loop, but when I graduated college in 2005, all of the students had their own computers, it was basically a requirement – yes, we did have a computer lab off campus but that was for the math/engineering types who had to have all those sorts of funky programs (I took one class there and never again) – so it was very disconcerting to read about it when I couldn’t even point out the time period. I mean, if it had been maybe set 10 years earlier (and mentioned in the book), it would have been more believeable.

My second issue was that in general, I just never really connected with the characters – there were just too one-dimensional – Mark, the primary main character was going to be a veterinarian because that is what he thought was a good and acceptable job to counter the fact that he was gay – but it just didn’t ring true – most people I know who want to be doctors/lawyers/vets – anything that requires multiple years of school need to have that passion. From the description, I also thought that he was in veterinary school already – I mean, with the term – “focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian” as the first line in the description – but he was really pre-vet doing his undergraduate degree.

The other character, Cliff, I felt was slightly better as a character – but there was still just something that didn’t work. He kept pushing for things and then all of a sudden did a 180 degree character turn – which resulted in my biggest pet peeve the “huge misunderstanding,” which was ultimately solved wayyy to quickly…

As a review, I’m personally not a fan of writing negative reviews, I mean, I hate it when I have to write about how much I dislike a book – and yet, I think that sometimes they are needed. In this case, I felt strongly enough about it in a negative light that a review was warranted. Overall, I would give it 1.5 stars – I finished it because I needed to and while i had major issues as described above, the writing wasn’t bad – there weren’t any major grammatical errors or anything like that. It just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Brody – Emma Lang

BrodyBrody
Author: Emma Lang
Series: #2 in the Circle Eight series

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
A year after their family was brutally torn apart, the Graham siblings begin to put their lives back together at their ranch in East Texas. With their parents gone, their bonds will truly be tested…

Olivia Graham has worked hard to take care of her family at the Circle Eight Ranch. But their family circle was broken when their young brother Benjy disappeared. Liv can’t shake the feeling that he must be out there, somewhere.

Brody Armstrong, a handsome but rough-around-the-edges Texas Ranger, has been working on their case for months, and now he has a promising lead.

As Liv follows him across the rugged Texas landscape and into Mexico, she’ll begin to find the answers she needs—as Brody finds a passion he didn’t know he wanted…

Review:
So my biggest issue with this book stemmed from my extreme dislike of Olivia that started in Book 1. There was just something about her in Matthew’s book that rubbed me the wrong way – but I was hoping that the author would be able to redeem her as a character (I mean, I have seen it done successfully before – Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent from Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers series – as an example). Unfortunately, I spent probably 70% of the book, alternately wanting to either reach through the pages and strangle her, or slap her silly. It was an interesting position that I found myself in…

Normally, I would commend an author who made me so emotionally involved with a character that I wanted to harm them, but ultimately, Olivia was forgettable – I don’t care what happens to her in the future (although, I am sure she will make an appearance in later books) – which for me is significant when it comes to my reading experience. I can’t say anything bad about the writing style, my issues with the book are solely character based. While I did like Brody, the Texas Ranger, it just wasn’t enough to counter what I am terming the “Olivia Effect.”

Hopefully, I will enjoy the next book in the series a bit more. 2.5 stars, but rounding up to 3 because it wasn’t horrenous…

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Book Review

 

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