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Audiobook Review – Virtue Falls – Christina Dodd

virtue fallsVirtue Falls
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: #1 in the Virtue Falls series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Narrator: Rebecca Solar
Run Time: 16hrs 22min

Review Audiobook Provided by Publisher

Description:
Twenty-three years ago, in the isolated coastal town of Virtue Falls, Washington, four year old Elizabeth Banner witnessed her mother’s brutal murder. Elizabeth’s father was convicted of killing Misty and sentenced to prison. Elizabeth was sent to live with relatives, and grew from a solitary child to a beautiful woman with a cool scientific mind and an instinctive distrust of love. Now Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls, a geologist like her father, living cautiously, her life guided by logic and facts. But nothing can help her through the emotional chaos that follows the return of her ex-husband, Garik Jacobsen, an FBI agent on probation and tortured by the guilt of his past deeds. Nor can it help her deal with her father, now stricken with Alzheimer’s and haunted by Misty’s ghost. When a massive earthquake reveals long-concealed secrets, Elizabeth soon discovers her father is innocent. Is the killer still at large, stalking ever closer to the one witness to Misty’s murder? To Elizabeth herself? Elizabeth and Garik investigate, stirring old dark and deadly resentments that could provoke another bloody murder– Elizabeth’s own.

Review:
For as long as I have been reading romance and romantic suspense, I’m honestly surprised that I have never read a Christina Dodd book. Unfortunately, based on my experience with Virture Falls, I will be hesitant to pick up another one by her in the future. I actually listened to this book several months ago, but its taken me this long to try and get my thoughts in line to write my review, because my issues with the book, far outweigh the positives, which is unfortunately, because based on the book description, i was hoping for a solid romantic suspense read/listen.

This book is a case where the blurb doesn’t really match how the story plays outs. Based on it, I was expecting a romantic suspense mystery with a serial killer theme – unfortunately, that is not what I got. Instead a majority of the book focused on a natural disaster (earthquake) and the subsequent recovery of the town. The murder theme was a distance second to the disaster theme in the story and that was a disappointment to me. The prologue of the story was suitably dark based on the description, and i thought, ohhh good, setting up for a good story. Looking back now, I almost wish that I had put the audiobook aside and not finished it, rather than continuing to trudge through – but I did so, mostly because I didn’t have any other audiobooks lined up for my commute and (as bad as this sounds), it fit into several different reading challenges.

I spent probably about 95% of the book wanting to slap Elizabeth (the main female character upside the head) – she was supposed to be really smart (on the Academic front) – but when it came to common sense – it was like it was Gone with the Wind. She put herself into situations, all in the name of her studies, that a sane person wouldn’t. And yes, I know, in order to make it big in science there have to be risks, but these were just dumb – going places without letting someone know where you are heading after a major natural disaster type things. She just ugh!

And then there was Garik – while I admit that I liked him more that Elizabeth – but that doesn’t say much. I found him to be a fairly underdeveloped character. There was a lot of stuff going on with him in the background of the story (much of which was mentioned in his introduction) and then it was just like all of his issues disappeared the minute Elizabeth (his ex-wife) may have needed him (or at least so he thought) – he just went running to her. I will admit that he and their relationship made the story slightly more paletable (if the book was supposed to be more of a romance than a mystery).

With all my issues with the plot, if the narrator had been solid, it might have made the audio version more paletable – However, I had issues with her narration as well. While her female voice narrations were solid and easily distinguishable – her male narration was a struggle and it made me cringe in places. My other complaint was during the times when Elizabeth was in full-on academic mode (during some of the observation scenes) – instead of a serious academic, she sounded almost like a tabloid reporter with a new hot tip. It was just too much. However, this was my first experience listening to Ms Solar and I would like to try listening to her narrate a different book or genre.

Overall, I gave both the book and the narration 2 stars and while I’ll likely try the narrator again, I’m less sure about the author, unless I get a serious endorsement from a fellow reader who I follow/trust when it comes to recommendations.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Audiobook 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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Audiobook Review – Dangerous Destiny – Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann

dangerous destinyDangerous Destiny
Authors: Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann
Series: #.5 in the Night Sky series
Narrator: Melanie Brockmann
Run Time: 1hr 16min

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Audiobook Jukebox

Description:
I know her.
Know her from inside the dreams. Inside those terrible, murderous, bloody dreams. I’ve heard her-screaming, her voice mixing in an awful chorus with all those other girls. Little girls.

Please, God.
That’s what one of the little girls keeps saying, in the dream that is not just a dream. Please, God.
But I know better. There’s no escaping this fate. This is destiny.
I must kill Skylar.

Skylar Reid is the new girl at school. Her mom just moved them to Florida—aka The Land of the Living Dead where the average age of her new neighbors was seventy-five—to start over. Skylar is not a fan of the change or her total lack of friends. Until she meets Calvin, a funny, sarcastic boy who doesn’t let being in a wheelchair stop him from verbally shredding their preppy classmates. Skylar’s just about to decide her new school’s not a total loss when an odd girl wearing an oversized trench coat in the murderous Southern heat declares, “You’re one of us.” And then tries to kill her.

Review:
I’ve been a fan of Suzanne Brockmann’s since I picked up her Harlequin series based around SeAL’s (Tall, Dark and Dangerous) as a teenager and while my enjoyment of her books has waxed and waned over the years – I typically knew what I was in for when I picked up a copy. So when I saw that she had co-authors a YA book series with her daughter, I was intrigued. It was the first time, that I know of, that she had delved into the YA realm (although in previous books, she had a good handle on writing kids) – so I was curious to see how it played it. Being as it was the prequel to a new series and only about 60pages, there wasn’t a lot of room for substantial world building, the book itself relied more on the hint of things to come, to hopefully make the reader interested in picking up the later books. All you really glean about Skyler (the female main character) is that she has some kind of super-power that is going to come into play later on in the series. I don’t know, I just felt like I couldn’t get invested enough in the series based on the short prequel storyline – I probably would have been better off picking up the full-length first book in the series and then going back and reading the prequel, because based on what I read, I would be hesitant to pick up later books in the series.

As an avid audiobook listened, I am also always on the lookout for new narrators, but typically tend to be skeptical of authors narrating their own works. So when I saw the Melanie Brockmann, the co-author had narrated the book, I was concerned and worried, but I figured since the book itself was short, and so was the narration (only just over an hour) – that even if the narration wasn’t that good, I could survive. So I decided to plunge on in. Within about 20 minutes (so about 1/6 of the book), I knew I had made a mistake. I found the narration to be monotonous and dragging – there was no real distinction between the various characters (and I realize that the book was told in first person, but there still needed to be some inflection or something to differentiate the characters). Honestly, I was glad that the book was so short, but if it hadn’t been, I probably would have DNF’d it – but I stuck with it but unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.

If I continue the series in the future (and that is still up in the air), it will be by reading it because I noticed that the same person narrates at least the first book in the series. Overall, the story got 2.5 stars and the narration only 1 star, for a 2 star rating overall. If you do consider reading/listening to this series, I would recommend reading.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Red – Kate SeRine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – The Changeup – Rhonda Shaw

the changeup The Changeup
Author: Rhonda Shaw
Series:#1 in the Men of the Show series

Description:
After nine years of striking out in the dating department, Maddie Hamlin is throwing in the towel. But just as this mom resolves to remain single, she meets sweet and sexy pitching phenom Chase Patton at a family dinner. He’s perfect for her–aside from the fact he’s only twenty-two.

Chase knows he should be focusing on his rookie year with the Detroit Rockets, but he can’t stop thinking about Maddie. He doesn’t care that the beautiful school counselor is twelve years older, and he’s already lost his heart to her adorable daughter. When an incredible date leads to an incredible night of passion, he knows he never wants to let her go.

But dating in the media spotlight is a whole new ball game. Maddie quickly discovers that not everyone accepts their unconventional relationship and that finding love may mean losing everything else.

Review:
So normally I’m a sucker for sports romances – I mean, hot sweaty guys (or girls) participating in feats of athletic prowess…I mean, who wouldn’t be. And to top it off, it was an older woman/younger man storyline which I am normally a fan of (it isn’t my favorite romance trope, but I often enjoy it). And while the Changeup worked for me on the level of a sports romance, it was how one of the main characters acted and the secondary characters that I had the biggest issue with. But I did love Chase until the very end…

Unfortunately, I don’t think Maddie deserved him – she was too weak-willed and a doormat – I swear, if I had to hear/read about her questioning him or his motives again, or doing her woe is me, my ex dumped me behavior, I was going to reach through my kindle and bitch-slap her. And then there were her daughter, who was supposed to be 9 if you read her description, but I don’t remember the last time I met a 9 year old who acted like her. In fact, the daughter acted much more like a 4/5 year old (grabbing Chase’s hand to go and play toys; wanting to be swung between Maddie and Chase when they were out) – I mean, its been a while since I was 9, or hung out with a 9 year old, but most I know are more likely to be in the pre-teen/sullen phase. Honestly, it just didn’t work for me

And then there were the antagonists – don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story for you by revealing how they are – I’ll just say that for me, it didn’t work – yes, I know this is fiction, but this forced me to suspend disbelief just a little bit too much on how everything played out and how it was just executed perfectly…ugh!

Overall, a disappointing read for a book that seemed intriguing and I could tell when it came to baseball, that the author had done her research because while I know little about baseball, what I did know seemed to show up in the book. A disappointing 2 stars.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Down and Out in Bugtussle – Stephanie McAfee

bugtussleDown and Out in Bugtussle: The Mad Fat Road to Happiness
Author: Stephanie McAfee
Series: #3 in the Mad Fat Girl series
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Run Time: 9hrs 43 minutes

Review Copy Provided by Tantor Audio

Description:
When her dream life in Florida with her now-ex-fiancé goes south, so does Ace — she moves back home to Bugtussle, Mississippi, and into her late Gramma Jones’ little house. But even though her best friends, Lilly and Chloe, are thrilled that she’s returned home, not everything is smooth sailing. Ace wants her job back as art teacher at the high school, but the beautiful Cameron Becker has no plans to relinquish that position. Although Ace wants to run Miss Becker out of town, she accepts a job as a substitute teacher. On top of her job woes, Ace’s friends keep setting her up on blind dates when all she really wants is for people to stop meddling in her love life.

In her quest to find inner peace, Ace takes up gardening and discovers old love letters in her grandmother’s well-worn gardening book. With her faithful chiweenie, Buster Loo, by her side, Ace is determined to get to the bottom of her Gramma’s secret life, all while hoping her own doesn’t implode.

Review:
Ok, I’ll admit it – I primarily requested the audiobook because of the word Bugtussle in the title…it just made me giggle. Unfortunately for me that book didn’t live up to the humor that I was expecting. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t read (or listened) to the previous 2 books in the series and didn’t know/previous read about the characters or what – but it just didn’t quite work for me. One of my first gripes was with the subtitle – the Mad Fat Road to Happiness – i honestly expected someone who was happy with their body and being big (although, you never find out how big Ace is), but through-out the book, there were many instances where there was almost an unhappiness with her life and her body – comments about clothes not fitting, how she looked in clothes etc. It didn’t exactly sound happy to me…

For me, Ace also just seemed fake – a lot of her humor felt forced and not natural. It just felt like there were supposed to be funny interactions between Ace and her friends, but it was just like listening to nails on a chalkboard. I will say that Ace and her interactions with Stacey Dewberry (substitute teacher stuck in the 80’s both clothing, make-up and car wise) – were probably the most entertaining and I liked Stacey the most as a character.

That being said, I didn’t mind Cassandra Campbells narration. I thought that she did a good job of distinguishing between the characters and making them all unique. But unfortunately, good narration couldn’t improve on my lack of enjoyment with the book. Overall, I gave Down and Out in Bugtussle 2 stars and likely won’t be checking out anything by the author in the future. I would recommend if people try the books, to maybe go with book 1 first, i don’t know if that would have improved my experience or not, but now its too late to find out.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Pulled – Amy Lichtenhan

PulledPulled
Author: Amy Lichtenhan

Review Copy Provided By Author Via Goodreads

Description:
For nine years, they drift through life, unable to forget the one who holds the strings to their hearts. In an attempt to escape the pain of her past, Melanie finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, while Daniel loses himself in a career that means nothing without Melanie by his side. Now, when their lives intersect, neither can deny the connection they felt so long ago. But will the power that drew them together be enough to heal the wounds from their past, and do they have the courage to overcome the insecurities and fears that threaten to keep them apart? Pulled is a story of attraction and separation, of destiny and duty, of a love so strong it refuses to give up even when all others have.

Review:
It always sucks when you pick up a book by an author you enjoyed before, looking for a good read, and then are underwhelmed and unfortunately, that book was Pulled for me. I had previously read Take This Regret and really enjoyed it – it was the perfect length, not too overdone in the angst, and yet, just angsty enough (yes, that is a bit of a contradiction, but hopefully you know what I mean). So I was looking forward to reading Pulled – but by the end of it, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

I think my major issue was that it was in general too long and needed to be edited down a bit. I felt like the story dragged on. It wasn’t the sharp telling that was in her other books. Now, I know that this is her first book, so that could explain it – it is just the development of her writing style over time. I think this one could stand to be re-worked and edited a bit.

My other issue was with the ages of the characters. For me, everything that had happened in the previous ten years for the characters didn’t ring true. Friends of mine always laugh because I get so involved in the book and stuff like this irked me – but to me it comes down to research. Having a friend who just finished her residency after med school, I know a little bit about how the timing works. And I was supposed to be/set aside my knowledge and take it for granted that in 10 years, the (guys name here) had gone to college (3-4 years), finished med school (4 years), completed an internal medicine residency (3 years), as well as an oncology fellowship (3 years) (info about residencies was taken from the Mayo Clinic website) – all of which would be required for him to be licensed as an oncologist as the story called for…or at least, that it what I am assuming, since he was part of his family medical practice in oncology…at a minimum that time line would be 13 years later, not 10…and from the way it was described, he was decently well established (although, come to think of it, he was never mentioned to actually be seeing patients). With brings me to another gripe – if you are going to give characters a career, then at least make it kind of important to the book. What good is it to have a doctor as a character, if you never actually see that side of him…(rant off).

The book also hit a few hot topics for me and I wish that there had been some warning as to content – when it comes to things like domestic violence and cheating, many readers, especially in a romance, want that warning – so that they know what they are getting themselves in for. Although, I think I am in the minority, because for the most part it seems people have given this 4 and 5 stars, but I’m struggling to come up with a reason that I should give it 3, and I’m leaning strongly towards 2. It’s a pity that this just didn’t work for me, because I do think that A.L. has the potential to become a great author – but I definitely, wouldn’t recommend this book as one to start with, if you are going to read her stuff. It will be interesting to me to see how her other book (Collide) stands up when compared to this one and her other one.

I honestly don’t know if I would recommend Pulled to anyone. I gave it 2 stars, mostly because I finished it and there was a HEA at the end, but other than that…

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Book Review

 

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