Author Archives: Dee

About Dee

I'm one of those people that no matter how many books I have, I can't turn down a sale or a trip to the bookstore. There are no limits to what I'll read and I hope you enjoy my reviews.

Audiobook Review – I Will Always Write Back – Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

i will always write backI Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Authors: Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrators: Chukwudi Iwuji, Emily Bauer
Run Time: 8hrs 52min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. All the other kids picked countries like France or Germany, but when Caitlin saw Zimbabwe written on the board, it sounded like the most exotic place she had ever heard of–so she chose it.
Martin was lucky to even receive a pen pal letter. There were only ten letters, and forty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through letters. Their story will inspire readers to look beyond their own lives and wonder about the world at large and their place in it.

I’ll admit that many times when it comes to reading/listening to memoirs, I end up coming away under-enthused about the subjects, because there always seems to be something fake about them (even if that is not entirely the case). However, when I was browsing the recent audiobook release offerings from Hachette, this YA memoir caught my eye and I am beyond glad that I requested it. Not only because the audiobook was nothing short of amazing, but because there seemed to be an honesty in the writing of both Caitlin and Martin. But let’s back up…

I grew up around the same time period as Caitlin and Martin (they are a couple of years younger than me), but I think for me when listening, it helped to establish a commonality between what they were talking about and somehow I had experienced it. I remember signing up for pen pal programs in school, although my experiences tended to be more like Caitlin’s classmates – one or two letters and then it kind of dwindled off – compared to the friendship that Caitlin and Martin developed over the years. Its kind of sad knowing that in the technological age that kids grow up in today, that joy of waiting for letters from some mysterious place overseas is something many likely won’t experience. Nowadays, we shoot off an email and it miraculously appears in someone else’s inbox on the other side of the world, the country or even next door. I love to see people take the time to write letters (and wonder if there are still organizations that do penpal exchanges out there…).

Its hard to say that I loved how the differences in Caitlin and Martin’s lives were portrayed, because you couldn’t help but get emotionally involved in Martin’s story – him and his family struggling for food, the type of house that they live in (if you could call it a house) and ultimately, how little it took to get them much needed supplies. And that Caitlin and her family just stepped up and did that because of the friendship between the two of them (actually, amend that, they are family), shows what a difference that little bit extra can be. How the actions of one person can literally save a life, or lives. I wonder if Caitlin hasn’t picked Zimbabwe from the list of countries, what if she had gone with France or Spain, or one of the more common countries…its mind-boggling to me how that one tiny decision had some many ramifications over the years.

I don’t know if the audiobook producers could have selected two narrators who were better suited to this project than Chukwudi Iwuji and Emily Bauer. Emily pegged the narration for an American teenager from the East Coast, down to the bratty-ness that I kind of expected at times; along with a touch of self-centered ness – seeing Caitlin transition from that I’m the center of the world, to wow, there is so much out there that I don’t know/understand was for me one of the best parts of the book. While I’m only had limited opportunities to interact with individuals from Africa, Chukwudi is how I visualized Martin sounding – that way of speaking with the very proper/formal English, compared to the more relaxed form that you hear elsewhere. For me, the audiobook just took what was already a good book and made it a great book.

I think this book (either reading or audio) would be a great addition to school classrooms when it comes to studying other countries (do they still do that?) and I’m going to recommend it to my local library to buy if they haven’t already. I’m intrigued enough to see if i can find any similar books (either fiction or non-fiction). I gave the book 4 stars and the narration 5 stars.

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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Audiobook Review


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Dishing with Dee…San Fran Part 1

dishing with dee 2

So i’m going to break my Dishing with Dee posts about my trip to San Francisco into two posts, in part because I have some great pictures that I want to share with you guys and in part, because I want to draw out the torture of why I was in San Francisco, a little bit longer ;)

REX_Exterior-600x600So after leaving a very wet Washington DC and flying for 5+ hours (thankfully, I wasn’t overly crowded on my flight), I arrived in San Francisco at like 8pm (which for you who can do time zone calculations is about 11pm my normal time). One of the best things about traveling when its an all expenses paid trip (yes, you read that right), is the cool places you often get put up. Case in point, those of us who were attending this event in San Francisco were put up in the Hotel Rex. If you look closely at the picture, you can almost see my room, i was up on the third floor, but had a great view of the street and the fire escape (although it did get a bit loud at 5am when the trash guys came around).

REX_LibraryBar_Overview-1200x800What is great about this hotel, especially since all of us who were in San Fran were heavy readers, was that the bar is called the Library Bar where all the food and drinks on the menu were all american classics, like a Rob Roy or a West Side. Unfortunately with our schedule i didn’t get as much of a chance to check out the area as I hoped. But my kind of funny story, when I got there Thursday night, I went down to the bar for food and a drink, and the bar tender started speaking french to me and while I know a smattering of it, for the most part I was completely lost. When I said I didn’t speak French, he was like, oh, aren’t you here for French club…once we clarified that i wasn’t, I was able to order food and move on. The other bonus of being in a hotel with a bar called the Library bar, is that the hotel has its own little lending library – its one of those borrow a book, donate another book kind of set ups (and I did my due diligence but donating a couple of romances to the shelves, since they were lacking in that forum).

And last but not least, as you walked up each landing to the next floor (because I personally hate taking elevators), there were these cool quotes from different authors…and being the dork that I am, I had to take photos of them!

san fran quotes

Stay tuned for more of my adventures from San Francisco…coming soon!

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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Dishing with Dee


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Review – All Wrapped Up – Kimberly Kincaid

all wrapped upAll Wrapped Up
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: #5 in the Pine Mountain series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided via Netgalley

Christmas is coming to Pine Mountain—and it has a way of stirring up memories, good and bad. Nick Brennan may manage the Double Shot bar smooth as good whiskey, but his past is a hot mess. When he runs into a burning building to save a little boy, some people start thinking there’s more to his heroism than holiday spirit. And then the local reporter assigned to the story turns out to be gorgeous Ava Mancuso, the girl who got away.

Ava knows what it’s like to have a past. But the changes she’s seen in Nick since she knew him do more than set off her natural curiosity—his warm eyes and gruff charm have her instincts fired up. Still, all the chemistry in the world doesn’t erase history, even when Nick invites her to his little sister’s mistletoe wedding. Does he have a heart under all those secrets? Or is this going to be just another Christmas past?

It’s always bittersweet when a favorite series comes to an end and often times it feels like you are saying goodbye to family, and that is how the Pine Mountain series has felt to me. Since the very beginning with her entry in the The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap Anthology (along with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell), I have felt like I was a member of the resort town of Pine Mountain, through their trials and tribulations, finding love and lust with friends, co-workers, enemies and neighbours. Alas, all good things must come to an end and All Wrapped Up did just that, it wrapped the series up in a slightly angsty, but none the less enjoyable romance, that also gave us a sneak peek into Ms. Kincaid’s new series that will be out in the near future (and yes, I have the first book pre-ordered already!).

One of the things I love about Kimberly’s writing is how she takes a minor character from a previous book and gives them their HEA in a later book, case in point, Nick from All Wrapped Up – we had previously met him in Fire Me Up, where he was the surly bar manager in the pub that Teagan (the main character) was running and even then, you knew, that he had a secret of some kind – there was this brooding essence about him…I didn’t put two and two together on who Ava was, however, until I read AWU – she is the sister of Pete Mancuso, who was the hero in the anthology that kicked this series off, so it really was a case of bringing the series around in a full circle and wrapping it up.

I loved the fact that Kimberly was able to meld the romance in such a way that it brought the former lovers element into it, along with a secret that could potentially keep our lovers apart and giving us a glance into the lives of all of favorite pine mountain couples who have gone before. As I reader, I don’t know if I could have asked for a better book to finish up this series (and introduce me to the characters in her new one – although, I will say, one of them is going to have some serious grovelling to do before I’ll forgive him and see that he is indeed hero worthy)…4 stars for All Wrapped Up – I’m sad to see the series end (which I’ve said several times now), but wasn’t let down at all through-out it. While I’m not a huge re-reader, I could easily see these books being added to my comfort read pile in the future.

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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in Book Review


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TBR Tuesday – 6 Oct 2015

TBR Tuesday While I’ve been horrible about actually posting reviews for my TBR Tuesday books, I have slowly but surely been chugging away at them. Many people know that I moderate a few groups on Goodreads and in one of them, the other mods and I came up with the idea of a challenge called Pillaging the Pile – where we would each set a goal for a three month period and see how many books from our TBR we could read in that time. There were two options that people could choose, books that had been on their shelves for more than 6 months, or those that had been there for more than 12 months. I had typically been picking the more than 12 month option, just because I have so many.

Anyways, the most recent iteration of the PtP challenge ended on September 30th, and I thought I would post a quick list of the books that I read during the preceding three month period and my initial thoughts on a few of the books, although you may see a few of them pop up as full reviews later on down the road.

1) Behind Closed Doors – Shannon McKenna – Bought Dec 2009Finished – 7/3/15
2) Crux – Moira Rodgers – Bought Oct 2010Finished 7/3/15
3) Remember When – Nora Roberts/JD Robb – Bought Apr 2012Finished 7/5/15
4) Silver Lining – Maggie Osbourne – Bought Sep 2009Finished 7/13/15
5) Haunted in Death – JD Robb – Bought May 20127/19/15
6) Three to Ride – Sophie Oak – bought Jan 2011Finished 7/18/15
7) Mouth To Mouth – Erin McCarthy – bought July 2009Finished 7/31/15
8) The Wallflower – Dana Marie Bell – Bought December 2009Finished 8/18/15
9) Hands on Research – Pam Champagne – bought February 2010Finished 8/28/15
10) Holiday Bound – Beth Kery – bought November 2010Finished 8/29/15
11) Kiss Me Again – Dee Tenorio – bought June 20098/30/15
12) Nice and Naughty – Jayne Rylon – Bought December 2009Finished 9/1/15 (i think this was a reread)
13) The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho – Bought August 2011Finished 9/3/15
14) Dark Harvest – Anitra Lynn McLeod – bought December 2011Finished 9/7/15
15) Deep in the Woods – Annabel Joseph – Bought November 2010Finished 9/7/15
16) Felicity Stripped Bare – Vanessa Jaye – bought August 2009Finished 9/11/15
17) Kink – Saskia Walker/Sasha White – bought April 2010Finished 9/13/15
18) Homecoming – Lacey Baker – bought October 2013Finished 9/16/15
19) Sacred Revelations – Roxy Harte – bought April 2010Finished 9/28/15

so I managed to cull my TBR pile down 19 books in that time period (of course, I probably added equally as many new books…lol). Hopefully, this next three month period will be as productive – I started with a goal of 10 books (which has been my base for the previous sessions, and i typically up it if needed).

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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in TBR Tuesday


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Dishing with Dee….helloooo, San Fran!

dishing with dee 2

Yes, its true – I decided to escape the horrible weather that is currently hitting the DC region (although i did have to drive to the airport in it yesterday) and in the words of John Denver, I’m leaving on a jet plane (although i do know when I’ll be back again…lol). I’m in San Francisco for a couple of days – part work, part pleasure – I’ve never actually been here before, so its totally new to me and i’m looking forward to seeing some of the sights!

Of course, with it being 3hrs behind east coast time, i was wide awake at 5am…and what do you do when that happens? you get up, throw on your running shoes and do some hill repeats of those iconic hills in the area – you know, the ones you see on the movies with the cable cars? there was a nice one just outside my hotel, so I did a few on that – it felt really nice after not really running for a few months ;)

So stayed tuned, I’m sure i’ll have some more updates for you while I’m enjoying my travels here!


Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Dishing with Dee


Review – These Battered Hands – Laurel Ulen Curtis

these battered handsThese Battered Hands
Author: Laurel Ulen Curtis
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Blood, sweat, hard work, and a disconcerting lack of tears—my entire life—was meant to culminate in a flourish of glory and significance.
I’d thought I’d always known exactly what that meant.
But I’d had the timing wrong by about three minutes.
I knew now.
This moment wasn’t everything. The one person I found myself wanting more than anything during it was.
One preconceived notion can haunt you for the entirety of your life.
I thought I owed it to myself and to everyone who’d ever backed me to do what was expected. What was right. What I was supposed to do.
But nothing is forbidden in love. Not circumstances or propriety or the denial of the object of said affection.
I knew now.
This was it.
If I wanted it, I had to take it.

This gymnastics love story is more than grips, rips, and battered hands.
For Calia Nickleson and Nikolai Bagrov, it was everything.

Its really hard to say what exactly caught my eye about These Battered Hands, but there was something in the book description that just screamed read me and I am glad that I did. These was something so raw about Ms Curtis’ writing style that I just found myself sucked it and didn’t want to leave the world that she had created. I’ll admit that I know next to nothing about gymnastics, aside from the fact that I watch it during the Olympics and gaze in awe at what these men and women can do (I tried gymnastics growing up, and let’s just say it wasn’t all that successful…lol). But even I could tell that the author was well-versed in the world of gymnastics – she was able to easily fuse the different technical explanations for routines into the story, in a way that made it educational and yet fun to read. I actually felt like i learned quite a bit which could make watching the 2016 Olympics all the more entertaining next year ;)

I liked how the romance between Callie and Nik developed – it wasn’t a wham bam type one, but rather a severe dislike (at least Callie’s side) and a desire to help her (on Nik’s side) and it just happened. I also enjoyed how the author didn’t have to rely on the sexual scenes the move the story forward – they were there, but it just felt natural – there wasn’t too much or too little (if that makes sense?). And while there were definately a few angsty spots towards the end, it wasn’t the totally manufactured type angst that is so often used, but rather a potentially naturally occurring incident used to provide some angst/tension, as well as moving the story towards its ultimate conclusion. I will admit that I wasn’t a fan of Callie’s dad (in fact he was a manipulative bastards), but then, as a reader i wasn’t supposed to be – although I could see why he did some of the things that he did – i just didn’t agree with them…at all!

One of the things I found really cool with the authors writing style was how the words from the end of each chapter and the start of the new chapter merged together and yet each one was from a different POV (the story alternated chapters between Callie and Nik). It was definitely a writing technique that I had never really noticed before in books, but it made the flow between the 2 POV’s much smoother and less choppy. The symbology of Callie’s battered hands from being a gymnast, the power in them was something that i kind of felt awe over – we take our hands for granted every day, so to hear them described in this way throughout the book just make it all the more poignant.

This was the first book i’ve read by Laurel Ulen Curtis, but it wasn’t be the last, in fact, I hope to check out some more of hers in the near future. I gave These Battered Hands 4 stars and definately recommend for people looking for a solid, fairly non-angsty sports-based (since I count gymnastics as a sport) romance.

LaurelUlenCurtissmallerAbout Laurel:
Laurel Ulen Curtis is a 28 year old mother of one. She lives with her husband and son (and cat!) in New Jersey, but grew up all over the United States. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, and puts that to almost no use other than forecasting for her friends and writing a storm chasing heroine! She has a passion for her family, laughing, and reading and writing Romance novels. She’s also addicted to Coke. The drink, not the drug.

Laurel’s Social Media:

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – Dodging Temptation – Avery Flynn

25935349Dodging Temptation
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #1 in the Retreat series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Dodge Loving wants revenge…and he’s about to get it. On the cusp of closing a multi-billion-dollar luxury resort deal, Dodge can’t afford for anything go wrong. But then a fiery redhead shows up, the paparazzi hot on her trail, and throws his world into chaos. He has to get rid of her. Immediately.

Harper Conner just wants to be left alone, but after slapping her cheating senator ex-husband during a televised press conference, she’s a hot commodity. The ultra exclusive resort in Wyoming seems like the ideal place to hide—and work—so there’s no way she’s letting the Type-A jerk who runs the place fire her.

Despite the animosity sparking between them, Dodge and Harper can’t keep their hands to themselves. This thing between them can’t happen. It won’t. But his mother has other ideas…and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Harper and Dodge fall in love.

It’s weird, I always seem to struggle writing reviews for books that I enjoyed, especially if the author is one of my go-to ones, like Avery Flynn is – I wish I could explain it. Case in point, I have had a draft of this review sitting in draft format on my blog page for about 3 weeks now (yes, you read right, three weeks)….I mean, this was an Avery Flynn book, so I knew it was going to be good, but at the same time, since it was kicking off a new series, I was kind of skeptical as well (since first books in series don’t always work for me)…but anyways…let’s talk about the Loving brothers and their HEA’s (or rather, just about Dodge)…

I’ve commented before that enemies to lovers is a favorite romance trope of mine, I love seeing these couples overcome their differences and hatred of each other to have a relationship and for me, Avery hit so many happy buttons with the Dodge/Harper romance. I mean, seriously, what wasn’t there to love about Harper, giving her ex what was due to him on national TV, even if it did turn her into a scandal and had the paparazzi chasing her. And what better place to try and escape said scandal than an exclusive resort…Dodge is the owner of said resort and to say sparks fly between the two of them is an understatement…

I’ll admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dodge at first, he kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but as the book progressed he did grow on me. Of course, it helped that he had some awesome scenes as the relationship between him and Harper developed (and I can safely say, I don’t know if i’ll be able to look at pistachio ice cream the same way again…). Of course, he did exhibit typical dumbass male tendencies, including exceeding stubbornness (which is both a blessing and a curse it seems…). Dodging Temptation was full of Avery Flynn’s trademark sass and snark, as well as spicy love scenes and I’m intrigued to see how the rest of the series is going to turn out.

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Book Review, Uncategorized


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