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Review – Do Over – Mari Carr

do overDo Over
Author: Mari Carr
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Sometimes once is not enough…

After twenty-five years of marriage, Faith Wainwright wonders what she’ll do next. Her kids have moved out and sometimes she feels so distant from her husband, Troy.

Right before their anniversary, Troy gives Faith an unexpected gift: a journey through their hometown to reenact all their “firsts.” Their first date. Their first kiss. And especially the first time they made love—only better.

Each stop on their tour becomes an opportunity for Faith and Troy to rediscover how explosive their passion can be. Now Faith knows exactly what she’s going to do—Troy, over and over again…

Review:
I’d call Do Over by Mari Carr a palate cleanser book – in that it was a short quick read, that packed a punch and honestly, was much better written and constructed in the 70-odd pages, than a lot of romance novels that hover in the 300pg range. It takes an especially skillful author (IMHO) to write a great short-story and Mari Carr seems to have capitalized on that – I honestly, don’t know if I’ve read a bad book by her yet.

My favorite thing about this book was that it focused on a couple who had been married for 20+ years and the idea of a trip down memory lane. In a way, it was similar to the idea in Strong, Silent Type (Lorelei James) and Making it Last (Ruthie Knox)- about rediscovering love. And its something I would really like to see more of. I mean, yes, the typical romance is one where a couple meets/falls in love and gets married (or most of the time) – but what happens after the vows are said; after children are raised – how does a couple stay in love when life and going-on’s can make you forget why you fell in love with them in the first place. Do Over in short, but I was totally sucked into the story – and as I was reading, I would go back and re-read a section or a letter because it did tug on my heart-strings. Plus, the fact that the impetus of the story was from the husband’s perspective (him recreating their memories) made me just want to say awww.

Short but powerful read, well-deserving of a 4-star rating. Read this if you just want to feel giddy about falling in love all over again.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Strength Training for Triathletes – Patrick Hagerman

stftStrength Training for Triathletes
Author: Patrick Hagerman, EdD

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Most traditional weight lifting programs are too general to benefit triathletes. This illustrated guide offers 60 exercises that build strength for swimming, biking, and running by replicating the muscle usage patterns specific to triathlon events. The exercises are organized by sport and muscle group, allowing triathletes to quickly find the best exercise for their unique training needs. Included are sample seasonal plans for each race distance, along with instructions on adapting training plans to individual needs that make it easy to develop a personal strength training program.

Review:
Most of the time on my blog, as you have no doubt noticed, I review genre fiction type books (mainly in the romance genre) – but occasionally, I’ll review a book that is something completely different. Maybe it was because there was something about it that caught my eye, or because I used the book as part of my athletic training (as is the case with this book). So I like to mix it up a bit. Anyways, while I was browsing Edelweiss one day (and with some nudging from a reading friend – Naomi), I came across a review copy of Strength Training for Triathletes. Now, while not suffering through my evil day job, blogging or being a manic PhD student, I’m a age group triathlete and completed my first Ironman in 2014 (yes, I am slightly insane). One of things, when I look back on my last year of training, was that I neglected not only my strength training, but also flexibility training, in favor of event specific (either swimming, riding or running) and it came back to bite me in the butt. Cardiowise, I may be stronger than I was previously, but I feel more inflexible and weak/muscle imbalance in places due to that focus. So when I picked up Strength Training, I was hoping for a book that could provide me some direction in creating a program that I could use and to an extent it did.

While I was provided a review copy in Kindle format, I quickly realized that it was a book that was better read/reviewed in print due to the amount of tables of data that didn’t render well into an ebook format, and the exercise images in the later chapters. But it is a book that has been added to my permanent library and I see myself taking it with me to the gym, as needed, for a reference guide.

One of the things I took away from the book, aside from all the different strength training exercises there are out there (many of which I’d never heard of) – was the different ways that you could develop a strength program based on your goals. It even goes on to outline several potential programs that triathletes at the Sprint and Olympic distance could use to train. That being said, I do wish that the author had devoted a little bit more time to the longer races. While I know they are much more customized in terms of training plans, I know that personally, I struggled to figure out how to tackle strength training on top of my other 12-15 hours of week (at peak training).

The most valuable part of the book to me was the sections towards the end that outlines all the different exercises. I really liked the way that it was organized – into swimming upper body; swimming lower body; Cycling – upper and lower and then runner – upper and lower. So I could easily look at see how the various exercises worked with each other. There was also a really good table at the back of the book which outlined all of the exercises used and cross-referenced between the three sports.

I’m looking forward to using this book and working exercises into my training program and will be sure to report back on it down the road. But until that time, its a hard book to rate, so I’m going to hold off doing that until I get a chance to implement some of the recommendations in the book.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in Book Review

 

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2015 Challenge – French Bingo

french-bingo-2015-logo2Ok, so I totally admit it, I’m a sucker for reading challenges – because I find that they are normally a quick and easy way to make me broaden my reading horizons without going too too far out of my comfort zone (although sometimes I really do). And who knows – maybe I’ll find a new authors that I love. Anyways, while browsing/stalking some of the various blogs that I follow, I came across Words and Peace who is hosting a Reader’s version of Bingo with a French theme (she also hosted it last year – I think I signed up and then epically failed – as in didn’t read anything). So I thought what the heck.

The goal is simple – as with normal bingo – you need to make a straight of 5 books – either horizontally, vertically or on the diagonal. Each square on the card has a different twist on France and French books (writers from different time periods; different genres etc).

The card looks like this (if you click on the link, it should take you to the original challenge page):
french bingo

In order to complete a square – read a book that fits the requirements; post a review on your blog and then link back to the challenge – and voila!

I’m looking forward to checking this out – and hopefully getting a BINGO some time during the year.

Wish Me Luck…

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Audiobook Review – Murder in Murray Hill – Victoria Thompson

murder in murray hillMurder in Murray Hill
Author: Victoria Thompson
Series: #16 in the Gaslight Mystery series

Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Run Time: 9hrs 4min

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Publisher

Description:
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…

Review:
I’m honestly trying to remember what caught my eye about this series and made me want to pick it up. I *think* it was because I needed a book with a certain word in the title, and one of the previous books worked and I kind of got hooked. So when I saw that Recorded Books had one of the entries in the series available as a review audiobook, I was intrigued. I had previously only read the books, so while I was familiar with the series, I’d never listened to them and the narrator was also new to me.

As with previous books in the series, while some stuff occurs in each book that may provide spoilers for earlier books, you can (or at least in my opinion), jump around fairly easily from book to book skipping if need be (depending on availability). Case in point, prior to this book (#16 in the series), the most recent one I had was #10 in the series (Murder on Bank Street). But aside from more personal elements of the story (between Sarah and Frank), I didn’t feel like I was missing all that much. The mystery aspect was solid as with my previous experience with the series – I liked the topic that the author chose to tackle because its one that is still prevalent in society today (but did you really think I was going to tell you what that it?). And while I had a pretty solid idea of the who done it, how everything played out had a few twists and turns that I didn’t expect.

On the audiobook front, the narrator, Suzanne Toren was a new narrator to me and aside from one irksome thing, was a solid narrator. I thought that she had a good range of voices/voice distinction for the different characters. The narration was neither too quiet nor too loud (meaning that I didn’t need to adjust the volume in my car as I was listening to counter issues like that (which I have had to do in the past). My biggest issue with the narration, and it goes back to one of the characterizations, was the portions where a little child (about 4-5 in the book) was speaking. This part of the narration felt forced and not at all childlike (as I would expect) – but it seemed as though the narrator was trying (which IMHO made it worse). I think in this instance, I would have preferred to just have the child portions spoken naturally and let it flow, rather than the jarring/disjointed portions that I felt like I was experiencing. But at the same time, I don’t know if my issue with the minor portion of the child’s narration would preclude me from either listening to this narrator again or listening to the book series later on (if need be).

Overall, I gave the story 4 stars and the narration 3 stars, for 3.5 average. I’d recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries with a touch of police procedural or medical info (as the main character is a midwife – although that doesn’t always take center stage in the stories).

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly

great zoo of chinaThe Great Zoo of China
Author: Matthew Reilly
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

Description:
It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

Review:
I’ve been a fan of Matthew Reilly for years, since I bought and read Ice Station in one afternoon – I mean, I devoured the book. And since then I’ve made it a policy to always buy or read his books when they are released (although, since he is an Australian author, there is sometimes a delay between release in Australia and the US – but thankfully, my mother supports my addiction and buys me his books). So when I got the notification that his new book, The Great Zoo of China was available for review, I KNEW that I had to get my hands on it. It was different from his previous ones that fell within the Scarecrow/Jack West Jr World, but going back to his thriller background, after the deviation with The Tournament.

As with any Matt Reilly book, I knew exactly what I was going to get when I picked it up – the plot would be highly implausible, bordering on ridiculous; it would be fast paced and action packed with lots of blood/guts and gore and I wouldn’t be able to put it down. And he succeeded on all levels – I saw down to read this at about noon on a Saturday and literally didn’t move from my bed until early that evening when I finished reading it. I kept saying, just one more chapter, just one more – and before I knew it the book was finished. I always find it interesting that I enjoy these books since I am primarily a romance reader and I love a happy ending and quite often his books leave me with more questions than answers – yet I keep picking them up. I will say though that this book was a stand-alone and from what I could see, I don’t know if it could be turned into a series, which could be good. While I love his other books, my favorite it still Temple, set in the jungles of South America.

One of the things about Matt’s writing, aside from the thrill a minute, is that he typically has strong female characters – who while they may have some moments of questionable actions, for the most part, they are kick ass and CJ was no different. I really enjoyed how he managed to mix her expertise and passion for a subject into an action adventure plot. He really shows that there is nothing a man can do that a woman can’t (CJ is a great example, as is Mother from his Scarecrow series). And while the secondary characters are normally well developed, I always find myself particularly attached to one character and rooting for them (and yes, it was CJ in this instance).

I’ll agree with other reviews that say the plot was highly implausible – I mean, a nest of dragons being found and kept secret for 20+ years (I mean, I know its China, but really). But at the same time, that is what I like about Matt’s writing – it is completely farfetched and would never happen in a million years. I always feel, when it comes to fiction, authors either need to be as plausible as possible, or as completely farfetched as possible when it comes to developing their storylines – when they try to toe the line between the two, it often doesn’t work for me.

Really, this is a hard review to write, because every time I start writing something around the plot, I type a spoiler and this is a review that could easily turn spoiler ridden (but I won’t do that to you). Here is my advice – get it, read it if you like completely whacked out action adventure. I gave The Great Zoo of China 4 stars and now, I have to go back to waiting for his next book.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Lady Meets Her Match – Gina Conkle

the lady meets her matchThe Lady Meets Her Match
Author: Gina Conkle
Series: #2 in the Midnight Meetings series
Release Date: 7 April 2015
Rating: ☆ ☆

Copy Provided in Exchange for Review

Description:
LOCATING HER IS ONLY HALF THE BATTLE
Cyrus Ryland didn’t become England’s wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around at his grand ball enflames his curiosity. When the clock chimes midnight and she’s nowhere to be found, Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is. Little does he know that not only does Claire Mayhew not want to be found, but she wants nothing to do with him at all..

Review
Ok ladies so I read this book and its my first ever historical Romance book.

This was the first for me and I was surprised. I normally don’t normally go for these kinds of books. I tend to stick to whats got a bad boy in it. This is an ok book. I was pleased with writing style. Some words for me well like I said (first historical romance) I didn’t get (thank god for google.)   I didn’t like the little poems or saying that are at the top of each chapter. Not my thing.

I did get a little board it sometimes felt like it was missing something more. He is a man who has money and so on but it was missing drama. He searches for her but only for a little while. I expected a little more seeking and finding. Cyrus and Claire are great together the instant they meet the bickering banter that they spew at each other ignites them both. They have a lot of heavy flirtation which I expected to lead to a little more than just heavy petting.

I like Claire for the most part. I think it was crucial to the story for Claire to stand on her own two feet no man needed. She worked that. She put up brick and mortar around her heart not to be won over by the likes of a man with money. She didn’t want him to think that was all she was interested in him for. She also came to annoye me from time to time she couldn’t make a choice on what she wanted. Figure it out girl!

Cyrus I didn’t really like him that much. He came off very proud and stuck up in a way that I didn’t like. He also held things over Claire at first. I am not sure that he did it for me. After a while when you got to know him he sounded good looking and all but I think he was just to sweet for my taste. He did have a bit of a bad boy streak but not enough to do it for me I needed more.

Everything was very proper for the time period I suppose. So much built up to one scene that wasn’t that great. I expected more and got less. Not surprised I guess given the time that this book was set to take place. If you like historical romance with just a hit of smut then this is the book for you.

Over all I wasn’t overly impressed with this book the writing was great and I learned a few things. But number one and only thing don’t read historical romance its not for me.  Leave historical romance to those who already enjoy it.

I give this one the 2 out of 5 stars. Unless you like historical romance then 3 out of 5

Have a great weekend All

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Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Fire Me Up – Kimberly Kincaid

fire me upFire Me Up
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: #4 in the Pine Mountain Series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Review:
I love finding authors who have a good backlist so that I can glom on their books (and yes, glom is a legit word, at least in my world). Prior to reading the Pine Mountain series (where I read all 4 books in the space of about 2 weeks), my only other experience with Ms Kincaid’s writing was in an anthology with a prequel story to pine mountain – and while I remember enjoying it – I remember one of the other stories more vividly (I mean, who can forgot anatomically correct cookies…). But that being said, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Kincaid at an author/reader luncheon that was held in DC a few months ago and after that I experience, I knew I was going to be in for a ride with her books. But i’m not going to rave about the previous books in the series (all of which were solid 3.5 to 4 star reads for me), but about the most recent one that is officially due out in the next week or so (and I tell you, having read it a month ago, I’ve been on pins and needles waiting until I could recommend it to people).

But back to Fire Me Up – if you have read the previous 3 books in the series, you will be familiar with Adrian – he has made an appearance in all of the books so far – from the Turn Up The Heat (book 1), where he mentored/coached Bellamy into a career that she loved cooking; and the 2nd book (Gimme Some Sugar) where he is the stoic Sous Chef for the former Celebrity Chef, Carly. But in Fire Me Up, he finally gets his turn and it didn’t disappoint. I love it when an author takes a character out of their element (in Adrian’s case, the kitchen) and tries to make them cope and how sometimes that works, but for the most part it doesn’t. I kind of had an idea about what Adrian’s rought few years entailed, but seeing how it all played out, it felt believable and not to manufactured (as sometimes dark pasts can be).

I’ll admit that I was a bit conflicted about Teagan at first – mostly because I didn’t quite buy the, oh my family is having issues, I need a leave of absence from work part of the story (or that is roughly how it played out). Maybe it can be done, but I don’t know – it just kind of hit me wrong. But as a character, I liked her, she did have a few dumb moments where I wanted to slap her – but not to the extent that I have wanted to do to other characters in different books. I really liked how she was able to calm/deal with Adrian without infantalizing him, which seems to be a common issue in romance novels when the hero has an issue.

I was glad to revisit Pine Mountain, but i’m going to be sad to see the series end in the next year (because I think there is only like 1 full-length novel and maybe a novella remaining). I would recommend Fire Me Up for people who like sweet/sassy contemporary romance with mostly normal people; and those who like romance novels with a small-town feel (although, personally, I’m coining the Pine Mountain series, Resort Romance). I gave Fire Me Up 4 stars and look forward to reading even more by Ms. Kincaid in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Book Review

 

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