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Review – Bring Back My Body To Me – Rita Ciresi

bring back my body to meBring Back My Body To Me
Author: Rita Ciresi

Description:
Getting cancer in your twenties is hardly a picnic. But in this sparkling romantic comedy by Rita Ciresi, two young cancer survivors manage to meet, fall in love, and live to laugh about it.

Twenty-seven-year-old Francie Malarkey has one remaining relative left on earth: her Great-Uncle Sol, a concentration camp survivor whose last grand mission is to see Francie happily married (preferably to a cardiac surgeon). Francie, however, has zero interest in getting hitched to some guy who actually knows the Latin names for her more intimate body parts. Although she would love to claim that she met Mr. Right at a noisy New Year’s Eve party, her initial encounter with her husband-to-be comes to pass in a hushed hospital waiting room marked with fallout shelter symbols. Joel Goldman–like Francie–is a young cancer survivor who happens to be sitting underneath a warning sign–DANGER! RADIATION IN USE!–that seems to imply that love is a risky business best undertaken by AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.

Francie and Joel’s courtship would be a dream come true. . . if only Great-Uncle Sol would stop insisting that Francie needs to marry a doctor instead of a guy who already has one foot in the grave. . . if only Joel’s doctor-father would stop trying to micromanage his son’s medical care. . . and if only Francie and Joel learn to accept the fact that any person on earth can pass through death’s door without a moment’s notice.

Review:
This year, I’ve made it my goal to try and clear some of the books off my virtual TBR pile that have been languishing there for a while. While BBMBTM has only been there just over a year, I figured that was long enough and so I settled in to read it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the whole experience. This was a case where the book description (above, which is on both Goodreads and Amazon0 basically tells you everything that is going to happen. I found there to be few surprises or twists, which contributed to my disappointment.

Added to that, I couldn’t understand why the author had chosen to set a book that was released in 2012, in 1997 – there didn’t really seem to be any plot twists that needed that time period. The only thing I can think of is that she needed something that would work with Francie’s Uncle’s age/life experiences. While brings me to a third gripe – wayy to much of the book was devoted to Uncle Sol. While he seemed to be important in Francie’s life – in the book, he just seemed to drive her nuts (and not in a good way). As a character he was much more defined and developed than Francie/Joel and they were supposed to be the primary ones. The author seemed to also have a hard time figuring out how important the romance was going to be to the plot – from the description, I was expecting a lot more than I got. I couldn’t figure out if she didn’t know how to write it, or just didn’t follow through – but ultimately, I was disappointed.

I gave BBMBTM 2 stars on Goodreads, but it is probably more like 1.5 – I finished it through sheer tenacity – it wasn’t a long read (about 200 pages), but it just seemed to drag. I don’t think I’ll be trying any more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Hard Evidence – Pamela Clare

hard evidenceHard Evidence
Author: Pamela Clare
Series: #2 in the I-team

Narrator: Kaleo Griffith
Run Time: 11 hours and 38 minutes
Producer: Tantor Media

Description:
After the murder of a teenage girl, a mysterious man in a black leather jacket was seen lurking near the crime scene. Investigative reporter Tessa Novak has him in her sights as the culprit…

That man was Julian Darcangelo, an undercover FBI agent working with the Denver police. He’s closing in on the trail of a human trafficker and killer. Tessa’s accusations could blow his cover, and he wants her off the investigation.

But just as Tessa has made Julian a target of interest, she is now a target of the killer. And as they are forced to trust each other, their physical attraction escalates as intensely as the threat from a ruthless murderer who wants to see both of them dead…

Review:
This review is likely going to be more of a rant, than a review, so if you enjoyed the series, I would say stay-clear, because I wasn’t happy at all. In fact, if I had been reading and not listening to the audiobook, the book would have gone flying across the room on multiple occasions and if I wasn’t buddy reading this with a friend (who disliked it as much as I did), I probably would have DNF’d it (but since she had already finished it, I couldn’t leave her hanging). This is one of those books where I look at my friends reviews and wonder, what the heck am I missing? In fact, on Goodreads, out of all of my friends that have read/reviewed the book (about 30 of them), it has over a 4 out of 5 average…so I guess it hit the spot for some people.

But oh my god…Tessa to me, was the epitome of TSTL (too stupid to live) – I lost track of the number of times that she put herself in an idioticly dumb situation and had to be “rescued” by Julian. Honestly, by about 3/4 of the way through, I was kind of hoping that he would just leave her to get out of her own mess (even though, we know that will never happen) – because it was obvious that she wasn’t going to learn. For a supposed top-notch investigative reporter, she made some really dumb moves. I mean, I get the part about needing to get the story and sometimes lives having to be sacrificing, but there is a point, especially when you are told about the danger that you are in, when (I would hope), any sane person would step back and evaluate the situation and figure out the greater good – get yourself killed now and not have the story, because well, you’ll be dead, or actually listen to the guys that know what they are doing, get the story and maybe survive…I mean argh!!!

And then there is Julian Darcangelo – which can I say, his name totally threw me for a loop because it just didn’t sound smooth (I think that is the word I am looking for), the Darc part just sounded forced…I actually liked it when he was referred to by his street name of Dark Angel – it sounded smoother (yes, weird I know). But he is supposed to be the quintessential bad boy, the federal agent working undercover…but if he was that good of an undercover agent, then why the heck did the bad guys know who he was…through like the entire book. I’m sorry, but the whole purpose of being undercover is so that you aren’t known…not having the head honcho of the organization you are pursuing know who you are, so that he can play you like a violin and man, did he ever…

Then there was the two of them together – oh gag me now – the guy gets shot in the back six times, trying to save her from a drive-by, but oh don’t worry because he is wearing kevlar, and then they go and get down and dirty not 30 minutes later…now, I have never been shot with real bullets (thankfully), but having been hit many times with paintballs/air-soft at close range, which have not even close to the same impact, that shit hurts – I couldn’t imagine doing anything after that, much less having sex…oh yeah, and then when he tries to “rescue” her, he gets himself captured – brilliant move there, Mr Federal Agent…it just kept getting worse and worse…

Close to the only saving grace, and I won’t even call it that, was Kaleo Griffith’s narration of the audiobook. He had a decently smooth narration style – although I wasn’t a fan of his southern belle accent which is what Tessa supposedly had…it just felt fake – I would have preferred if he had just read her part without over-emphasizing the accent. While I don’t speak spanish, the parts in that, sounded authentic (or as much as they can be to an untrained ear). But even his narration couldn’t make up for the mess that was the book in general…I would probably give the narration of the book 3/5 stars – it was decent – wasn’t the best I have ever listened to, but wasn’t the worst by far…

I have to wonder if it was because this series was so hyped up that I was so disappointed and maybe if I had read them when they first came out they would have been better – and i might not have been so much of a jaded reader…Overall 1.5 stars (and that is being generous)…I’m conflicted if I will continue the series or not – the first one was ok, definitely not as bad as this one, but it didn’t blow my socks off either…

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Audiobook 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 – The Meeting Point – Lucy Caldwell

the meeting pointThe Meeting Point
Author: Lucy Caldwell
Challenge: ATW80 – Bahrain

Description:
When Euan and Ruth set off with their young daughter to live in Bahrain, it is meant to be an experience and adventure they will cherish. But on the night they arrive, Ruth discovers the truth behind the missionary work Euan has planned and feels her world start to crumble. Far from home, and with events spiralling towards war in nearby Iraq, she starts to question her faith – in Euan, in their marriage and in all she has held dear.

With Euan so often away, she is confined to their guarded compound with her neighbours and, in particular, Noor, a troubled teenager recently returned to Bahrain to live with her father. Confronted by temptations and doubt, each must make choices that could change all of their lives for ever. Compelling, passionate and deeply resonant, The Meeting Point is a novel about idealism and innocence, about the unexpected turns life can take and the dangers and chances that await us.

Review:
I have to admit that I was looking forward to reading this book when I picked it for my Around the World in 80 books challenge. Over the last 8 years in the military, I have had the opportunity to visit Bahrain several times (and loved every visit), so I was really looking forward to reading a book set there and seeing how much I recognized of the country. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the result. The vast majority of the book (probably about 75%) was set in the compound where Ruth and Euan were staying while in Bahrain. Now I know that recently Bahrain hasn’t been the safest place in the world to be, but prior to the “Arab Spring” as it is called, it was a great place to visit. There was so much to do and see. so the fact that there was really only one place highlighted that was visited during the book (the Tree of Life), it was like, oh well, she can google – that’s awesome…maybe I am being too harsh, but it always sucks when you are looking forward to reading something and it is disappointing. Ruth, as a character just pissed me off (sorry for the expletive), she was like a doormat to Euan – I guess she was supposed to be the submissive wife – but she wasn’t even that…she just drove me nuts.

The aspect of the religion in the book didn’t bother me that much, because I was able to see where it was heading. But it is still fustrating to see that in the 21st century, people still believe in trying to convert others to their beliefs – yes, I know – I shouldn’t be surprised, but it is still fustrating. Especially in middle eastern countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (where some of the characters actions took place without every actually being there). The mystery as to what was going on with the Bahraini girl (Noor), seemed under developed and just thrown in for some conflict and to add another character for interaction purposes.

I would have a hard time recommending this book to anyone and I know that I won’t be looking at any of her stuff in the future. I am actually considering possibly looking into another book on Bahrain to replace this one because I was so disappointed.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Around the World in 80 Books, Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Weekend Warriors – Fern Michaels

Weekend Warriors
Author: Fern Michaels
Series: #1 in the Sisterhood series

Narrator: Laural Merlington
Run Time: 6 hours and 6 minutes

Book Description:
The first in an exhilarating new series following a group of extraordinary women who are out to see justice done … a step at a time Nikki Quinn is devastated when her best friend Barbara is knocked down and killed by a hit-and-run driver who claims diplomatic immunity. But Nikki has her work and her lover, fellow lawyer Jack Nolan, to keep her going, whereas Barbara’s mother, Myra, has nothing. Festering in a sea of recriminations and hatred, unable to gain a sense of perspective, Myra is lost…until one day she switches on the evening news and sees Marie Lewellen, mother of a murder victim, take matters into her own hands and stab her daughter’s killer. An idea is born, and within months Myra and Nikki have drawn together a group of women who have one thing in common: they have been failed by the American justice system, they’re down but they’re not out, and they’re ready to find their nemeses and make them pay. First up is Kathryn, a long-distance truck driver who was raped at a road stop by three motorcyclists as her paralysed husband watched, helpless. Banding together, the Sisterhood plot the ultimate revenge — but with dissension from inside the group and out, there’s no saying if the plan will work until the moment of truth arrives

Review:
In the words of my non-existant Jewish grandmother, oy vey…where to start…looking back over my reading history, I don’t know if I had ever picked up a Fern Michaels book before, but after listening to Weekend Warriors, I can tell you for certain that I won’t be picking up one in the future. Whoever classifies this book as a romance has some serious delusions – there is nothing romantic about male castration as a form of revenge (yes, this is completely spoiler-ish and I don’t care). I didn’t see one whit of romance in any of the going-ons in this book. I would more accurately describe it as revenge based women’s lit and not even good on that account. Thankfully, it was only 6 hours long in audio format (so about 220 pages and I managed to listen to most of it in just over 2 days – this is one time that I wasn’t too mad at my long commute because I could simple tune out when needed). If I hadn’t had this scheduled into several different reading challenges, I might have even DNF’d it – but since I did, I persevered.

The premise had potential – a group of women, gathering to together to right the wrong’s done to them by the legal system. But it was the execution that just didn’t hold water – one of the main characters was a lawyer and she almost immediately says that she’ll be involved…now, I know there are corrupt lawyers (as there are individuals in any career field), but to knowingly agree to commit the crimes that were discussed as revenge just made me cringe. Not only that but this super rich woman decides to essentially invest all her money into this scheme (since it was her idea to begin with) and all of a sudden she has a technology suite to rival something you might see in the Batman movies for technical prowess and a “butler” who is like an ex-CIA agent…and it just doesn’t improve much from there…

I wish I could say that the narration helped to improve on a bad book, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case either. I’m not sure if I have ever listened to anything narrated by Laurel Merlington before, and am not sure if I will seek her out again in the future. Maybe if it were for a book by a favorite author, but I wouldn’t listen to anything by an unknown author and narrated by her because in general I struggled. Yes, she was a competent narrator, but it just seemed like there was something missing. I had a hard time visualizing the different characters in my head because there didn’t seem to be much vocal differentiation between them – and when you have a cast of 10 women, 5 of whom are fairly dominate that is something that is needed.

I know that I could not recommend the author, and would hesitate to recommend the narrator to anyone. But that being said, I would be more inclined to give the narrator a second chance than the author…overall, 1 star for the book, 2 stars for the narration – 1.5 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Burning Alive – Shannon K. Butcher

Burning Alive
Author: Shannon K. Butcher
Series: #1 in the Sentinel Wars series

Book Description:
Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes-the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love…

Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee-but instead ends up in the man’s arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen’s presence.

Together, they may become more than lovers-they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drake’s people…

Review:
I wanted to like this book so much, but it was a disappointment. It had been recommended several times to me on the Paranormal Romance boards over on Amazon and for the most part, there are a good of people there that I trust when it comes to recommendations – but for some reason this there just seemed to be something missing.

I had been reading Burning Alive for maybe 3 or 4 chapters and from what had occurred in the story, it seemed like I was missing some kid of back story…so I can off to goodreads to check and see if there was maybe a prequel that I was missing, but nope. So I had to content myself with scratching my head and hoping that more about the world was explained later one. While as it progressed more of the world came out, but by the time I finished it, I was still so confused about the world, I was glad to see the book done. I normally have a rule about reading at least 2 books in a series before deciding if I want to continue it or not, but I’m not sure if I want to spend the money on buying the second book. If my library has a copy I may go that route, otherwise, I don’t see myself reading another one. Overall 1.5 stars…

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Burn Bright – Marianne de Pierres

Burn Bright
Author: Marianna de Pierres

Book Description:
Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark

Book Review:
When it comes to writing dystopia type books, the world building and understanding why things are the way that they are is key to the plot and the resolution. Unfortunately, in Burn Bright, the world building was just sub-par and that resulted in the book overall, while having an interesting premise, just not being all that intriguing. As soon as I started reading, I felt like I was confused – why was everything dark? Even a simple question like that, from what I recall, was never really answered and my confusion only built from there.

I felt like I never really got to know the characters. Retra was, for lack of a better word, a bumbling idiot – there were many times through-out that I just wanted to reach into the book and beat her about the head. You could tell that she had been isolated all her life because of how she acted, but even then, when you compare her to someone like Tris from Divergent, who had had a similar upbringing and was able to adapt and overcome in various scenarios, Retra essentially remained the same until she wasn’t…and even when she changed her name to Naif, her personality didn’t change.

I kind of think that Ixion was supposed to be a play on a dystopian form of Never Never Land from Peter Pan, but I would prefer to be one of the lost boys with Tinkerbell, rather than partying on Ixion. Overall, I gave it 1.5 stars (but i’ll round up to 2 to be nice), and I likely won’t be continuing the series in the future – too many other good books and not enough time to read them.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Book Review

 

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