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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 – Anthology – Snowy Days, Steamy Nights

SDSNBoxedSetFinalSnowy Days, Steamy Nights
Authors: Katy Regnery, Jamie Farrell, Veronica Forand, Kate Forest, Jennie Marts, Susan Scott Shelley
Series: #.5 in the Glendale Riptide series; #2.5 in the Misfits Brides of Bliss series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided in Exchange for Review

I’ll admit that I always find it hard to review anthologies – because as anyone who has read my reviews know, I tend to like to write fairly detailed reviews and sometimes contributions in anthologies make that hard to do. You want to make sure to include a good review of each book, without going overboard, or having an exceptionally long review. Overall, I enjoyed the various installments and found several authors I’m looking forward to trying again in the future/

FROSTED – Katy Regnery – 3 stars
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms Regency (although I see her name come up quite frequently on book recommendation threads/message boards). Unfortunately, I left her story in the anthology feeling like I was missing something. I was really looking forward to the idea of a romance between an older couple (the main character, Grace, is in her mid-50’s) and a second chance romance to boot (because I’m a sucker for those). But Grace just left me feeling cold – I never really got the feeling that she was ready for a new romance, she was still too preoccupied with her past and honestly, I found her to be quite off-putting. I sort of liked Trey (the main male character), but if I had been him, I would have run screaming from Grace. Unfortunately, Frosted, just lacked overall for me. But I’ll likely give the author another chance, maybe a full-length story will work better for me.

GROUNDED – Kate Forest – 3.5 stars
This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Forest and it won’t be the last. I really liked the idea of being stranded at an airport (since god knows, I’ve gotten stuck enough times). The main character, Julia’s reaction to Chicago weather made me laugh because I have several friends like that and Ms Forest managed to get the irksome nature just right. I liked Jeremy as a character, and seeing him develop/come into his own made me happy. I love how he loved his mom and would go to bat for her – it made me smile. I’d be intrigued to see more books about people who could be linked back to this story (employees for Jeremy’s company, friends of Julia). This could be a good way to start a series, but also works well as a stand-alone.

MELTED – Jennie Marts – 3.5 stars
From reading the description, I was looking forward to this installment in the anthology – since I’m a sucker for second chance stories and for the most part, this was a good read. Unfortunately, I found myself wanting more while I was reading. I like the theme of a rekindled summer romance from when they were teenagers, but at the same time, it also revolved around the big misunderstanding theme which kind of irked me. I think this would have been a better stand-alone story that could have been developed a bit more. Although I had a few issues with Melted, it was a cute read and I will be checking out more books by Ms Marts in the future

REKINDLED – Susan Scott Shelley – 4 stars
If I was asked which of my books in the anthology was a favorite, it would be a toss-up between Rekindled and Smittened (Jamie Farrell) – I have definately found a new author that I am looking forward to checking out and reading in the future. One of the things that I appreciated in this story was that while it was a second chance story, neither of the main characters really had the major woe is me doldrums that comes when a relationship doesn’t work out (meaning that while they still loved each other/missed each other; they tried to move on to the best of their respective abilities. Plus, I loved the dog in the story and hope to see him show up in later books. Bonus is that this story kicks off a new series and i’m looking forward to trying to out.

SMITTENED – Jamie Farrell – 4 stars
I’ve never hidden my love of Jamie’s books (since she is also a friend) and when she offered me the chance to review the anthology, I jumped on it. Her story takes place in his Misfit Brides of Bliss series, which she introduced in her book, The Husband Games. All I can say right now, is that I want some of the sexual connotations ice cream that was featured in the book, I mean Chocolate Orgasm, hello! (although my discovery of wine flavored ice cream may just have to tie me over). Dahlia reminded me of Jamie in a way (I’m sure some of the tales she tells have ended up in her books) and Mikey was just a bad boy looking for love. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out (yes, I virtually stalk her).

SNOWED – Veronica Forand – 2.5 stars
Snowed was another story that I thought had potential, but unfortunately for me, didn’t work in the novella format. I felt like the author needed more time/length to develop the story. It seemed rushed and unfinished in places to me. There were a few places where I really found myself rooting for the characters, but then it was like the next scene just happened and I felt like I was missing something. but the ending was at least optomistic, and I’d be interested to see if she could develop the story into more of a series with other people who were featured in the story. However, while I felt like I was missing something with the story, I did like her writing style and am intrigued enough to want to try more of her stuff (and I think I have at least one of her books on Mt TBR).

Overall, I enjoyed the majority of the stories in the anthology and felt like it was a good way to be introduced to new authors. My 2 favorite stories in the anthology were Rekindled and Smittened – but I look forward to seeing what all of the authors do in the future. Overall, I gave the anthology 3.5 with a wide variety of ratings from the individual contributions.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – It’s a Wonderful Fireman – Jennifer Bernard

it's a wonderful firemanIt’s a Wonderful Fireman
Author: Jennifer Bernard
Series: #6.5 in The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description (Goodreads):
Hard-edged fireman Dean Mulligan has never been a big fan of Christmas. Twinkly lights and sparkly tinsel can’t brighten the memories of too many years spent in ramshackle foster homes. Although he’s established himself as one of the top firefighters at San Gabriel Station 1, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for someone like gorgeous Lizzie.

Lizzie Breen is used to fighting—from her alpha male brothers, who try to smother her in the name of safety, to the life-threatening childhood illness she overcame. She knows what she and Mulligan feel for each other is a lot more than a fling, but she can’t get him to see that. The only gift Lizzie wants to give him this season is her love, but he’s not willing to accept it.

When Mulligan is trapped in the burning wreckage of a holiday store, a Christmas angel arrives to open his eyes. But is it too late? This Christmas, it’ll take an angel, a determined woman in love, and the entire Bachelor Firemen crew to make him believe … it is indeed a wonderful life.

Review:
I’ll admit that my reading of this series has been spotty as much as I am a sucker for fireman (and cop) romances. I’ve read the first book, the prequel and now the Christmas one (but never fear, the rest of the books are loitering on Mt TBR and will hopefully get tackled in the new year). So I didn’t have the background with the characters that many of the readers/reviewers had. I vaguely remember Dean from the previous books as being a bit of a stoic kind of guy – but honestly that is a character trait that I like. I will admit that I don’t really recall Lizzy, but since it was obvious from the writing, I’m guessing she was introduced in one of the books I haven’t read yet.

This was almost the perfect Christmas read. I love reading novella’s at this time of year, because they are normally short and sweet, hit the sweet spot, without (normally) being too sickly sweet (which I’m totally not a fan of) and It’s a Wonderful Fireman delivered. Told predominantly though flash-backs (which are often a hard way to tell a story), I could see Dean and Lizzie’s relationship develop (and I’m a sucker for friends2lovers stories). I really enjoyed seeing how their story developed and the fact that it took place over a longer period of time than a typical romance. While It’s A Wonderful Fireman was short (only about 140ish pgs), it felt like a complete story with a beginning/middle/ending – that to me is quite often missing in novella’s.

After reading Dean and Lizzie’s story, I’m looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, so I can “get to know” them a bit more and then maybe i’ll re-read their story, just for the heck of it ;) It’s A Wonderful Fireman is a solid 3.5 star read – rounding up to 4 on Goodreads and other places. I’d recommend for people who like Christmas novella’s, fireman romances and friends2lover romances.

Purchase Links:
Amazon – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Barnes & Noble – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Kobo – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)

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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Blog Hop, Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Cinderella’s Dress – Shonna Slayton

cinderella's dressCinderella’s Dress
Author: Shonna Slayton
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Being a teen-ager during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

Review:
Sooo, I actually read Cinderella’s Dress back in June prior to its release, started to write my review and then got distracted by some life stuff (here’s a hint, if you want time to read/review, don’t sign up for a triathlon that will take 15 hours to complete – just sayin’). But as I look back at all the books i’ve read this year, trying to figure out which review to post next, the cover of this one caught my eye, because honestly, its gorgeous and i’m a total cover whore. Yeah, i said it, i’ve been known to pick books up based solely on the cover – sometimes it has been successful, like with this book, other times I’ve been majorly burned. So gorgeous cover combined with a fairy tale retold and I was a happy camper.

I really enjoyed how the author managed to work the various elements from the original Cinderalla (specifically the dress and the wicked stepsisters) into a YA romance (although, while marked as YA, most adults would likely enjoy it also). But the author did a great job moving the setting to a WW2 time period – her descriptions made you feel like you were experiencing the war through Kate’s eyes. I really liked Kate as a character – she wasn’t willing to accept the status quo of what was expected for women who were working at the time (being store models and seamstresses), she wanted more and was willing to work for it and prove that she deserved the job she wanted/got.

The underlying Cinderella element was good and the mystery of the dress – and the idea of did Cinderella actually exist? (I mean, I loved the Drew Barrymore movie where it was based in historical context) and the way the author developed the story made it seem plausible/likely. There was a truth to the way the author wrote the book that I enjoyed (if that makes sense). Both the main and the secondary characters were well-developed – none of them seemed fake (for lack of a better word) – I could easily see (should a movie be made) how they could be portrayed.

Overall, I gave Cinderella’s Dress, 3.5 stars and would recommend for anyone interested in fairy tale re-tellings or YA historical fiction.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Hard to Forget – Incy Black

hard to forgetHard to Forget
Author: Incy Black
Series: #2 in the Hard To… series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
A warning ignored…a love denied

Four years ago, Commander Jack Ballantyne followed Special Agent Lowry Fisk into a death trap. Fortunately, both of them lived to tell the tale, but when he had Lowry drummed out of the British Intelligence Service for her own safety—and his own peace of mind—he knew she’d never forgive him.

Lowry Fisk knew, she just knew, that the Assassins, the secret black-ops unit of the Service she and Jack belonged to, had a mole. And as the Assassins Commander, Jack should have believed her, even though she had little evidence beyond a gut feeling. But when he hadn’t, she’d taken it upon herself to find the traitor—and ended up assaulted, shot, and left for dead. Jack had come to her rescue, but it had been too little, too late. Now all she wants to do is forget the attack, the Service, and the sexy, steely-eyed Commander with the power to make her feel weak.

But the mole is on the move, and he’s coming for Lowry to finish what he started. Jack has to get the stubborn, dangerously gorgeous woman to let him back into her life and allow him the Assassins to protect her—without allowing her to worm her way into his heart

Review:
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for Secret Agent storylines – I mean, who doesn’t love James Bond and those types of characters? so when I came across the description of Incy Black’s series in an email from her publisher, I was intrigued. Since this was the 2nd in the series, I opted to go back and read the first one before picking up this one (although the author did say when I tweeted her, that this could be read as a stand-alone – and looking back, I agree). In fact, after I finished reading the first book (while not bad, it just had some things that didn’t work for me), I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick up Hard to Forget, but I’m glad I did – because I enjoyed it more than the first.

There were times when I wanted to take both Jack and Lowry’s heads and clang them together to have some sense knocked into them, because man did they both do some silly stuff – both prior to the book’s main setting (told in flashbacks) and during the main portion of the book. But even with that, Lowry wasn’t the typical TSTL heroine that you see, who ends up getting herself into trouble and needs to be rescued – in fact, it was her willingness to do whatever was needed for the mission to be accomplished that actually made me like her.

My main issue with the book was Jack – he was, for lack of a better word, a jackass – and honestly, it took me about 3/4 of the book before I even really started to not hate him as a character, and even then, he was barely redeemed by the end. I just didn’t think that he did anything during the course of the book to really warrant Lowry forgiving him for how he had acted in the past.

Even with my issues with Jack, I gave Hard to Forget 3.5 stars, which was an improvement on the previous book. I’m interested to see where she takes the series, and more importantly, I want to know if Will (who has been a secondary character in both books so far) is going to get his own story – because he needs one.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Wood, Screws & Nails – Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme

wood screws nailsWood, Screws & Nails
Authors: Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme
Series: #1 in the Hard Hats series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Aaron Costa’s summer was all planned. Despite having to remodel the family lake house, it would be a vacation of sorts, and he had every intention of enjoying it—until the friend who was supposed to help him got injured and left him in a lurch. He decides to take the opportunity to bond with his son and hires Julian and his roommate, Malachi, to assist.

As a broke college student, Malachi could use the money, and spending the summer with Aaron for eye candy sounds like a dream. “Look but don’t touch” becomes his motto. But when Julian starts flaking on his responsibilities and Malachi and Aaron are forced to spend long hours alone together, their mutual attraction is impossible to resist.

Aaron can’t fight the temptation sexy Malachi presents. But more than their age difference stands in their way, not the least of which is Aaron’s semi-closeted status and the fact that he’s never openly discussed his sexuality with his son. He has no idea how Julian will react when he learns his father is not only gay, he’s also dating his best friend.

Review:
As I look back on this book, I wonder where to begin because for the most I really enjoyed the experience reading this writing venture between Piper Vaughn and Kade Boehme. This wasn’t my first time reading Piper (and I’ve highly enjoyed her previous books), but it was my first time reading Kade’s stuff. I will say looking back, that the writing styles between the two blended together so well, I honestly had no idea who wrote what parts (which I loved). I’ll also point out that I loved the double entendre in the title – Wood, Screws, & Nails – not only did it fit within the whole construction theme of the book, but also within the romance and dirty talk (and I am a sucker for dirty talk among couples).

I’ll admit the whole age different between the two main characters at first kind of squicked me out – I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like the age-gap idea in romance, but I think it was more the younger guy being the same age as his son. I know that shouldn’t have bugged me, but at first it did. Thankfully, as their relationship started to develop, those feelings that I had dissipated and I liked seeing their love for each other blossom. But I won’t ever be able to look the same way at a construction site if I ever get my house re-done because of one particular scene about ¾ of the way through (but don’t worry – I’m not going to spoil it for you guys who haven’t read it yet).

While not a dislike, per say, I had visualization images of Malachi/Mal – mostly because (and I know this is weird), but I have a friend from the Navy, Malachi, who also goes by Mal – so I kept seeing him when the authors were trying to paint a different image. I know that is probably weird, but mostly, I think its because Malachi isn’t a real common name, so it was natural for me to draw (or not draw similarities)

Most of my dislike from the book stemmed from my dislike of Julian. In general, be it books or real life, I hate seeing people who get away with whatever actions they want with no consequence. I spent a good portion of the book, alternating yelling (mentally) at Aaron to do something about him and hoping that nothing serious would actually happen. Even at the end, I felt that the resolution was just too nice and tied up in a pretty bow. That part of the book needed just a little bit more to fully-flesh out the conflict.

Aside from the whole Julian issue, I really enjoyed Wood, Screws, & Nails and am interested to see how the next book in the series (Hook, Line & Sinker) plays out – even if it appears as though it has different characters. I like the pairing of Piper and Kade in writing and think this is a partnering that could last through a few more books (pretty please!).

Overall, I gave Wood, Screws, & Nails 3.5 stars.

~Dee

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Hollywood on Tap – Avery Flynn

hollywood on tapHollywood on Tap
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #2 in the Sweet Salvation Brewery series

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
For years, Sean O’Dell has hidden his past as a Hollywood heartthrob from everyone at the Sweet Salvation Brewery. However, the arrival of nosey efficiency expert Natalie Sweet threatens the status quo. It doesn’t help that with her glasses, buttoned-up sweaters and always pulled-back hair that she’s uncovered one secret already: His attraction for hot librarian types.

Natalie has had enough of the strong-and-silent Sean submarining her efforts to change the brewery for the better. She’s ready to do whatever it takes to make her vision a reality, even if that means taking down the pig-headed and too-hot-for-his-own-good brewmaster.

Sizzling attraction battles stubborn determination as Natalie and Sean go head to head in a battle that’s anything but business as usual.

Review:
Why is it that books I really enjoy, I have a hard time writing reviews of? Case in point, I’ve been staring at the computer screen for this one for at least an hour – so i guess i’m just going to start writing and hopefully something that resembles a good review (because the book was good) will result. But anyways, I remember after I finished reading Enemies on Tap (the first book in the series), that I pretty much sent the author a twitter msg asking when Sean was going to get his book – and of course, I got the very coy response, don’t worry he’ll get his. So when I saw the description for Hollywood on Tap and saw it was his book, there were immediate jumps of joy. I mean, who doesn’t love a curmudgeon (and isn’t that an awesome word) who finds his happy ever after?

Hollywood on Tap picks up a few months after Enemies on Tap. While EoT (since i’m too lazy to write out the whole title) occurred during a time of upheaval in the brewing company, Hollywood on Tap, finds things mostly settled down and a normal rhythm being established. I say mostly settled down because there were some events that occurred in the previous book that had some influence in how Hollywood on Tap played out.

I will admit that I had a hard time connecting with Natalie as a character because I am likely the complete antithesis of her – i’m not organized, I attempted to color-code something (which lasted all of about 5 minutes) and my office (as my mother will attest) resembles Sean’s in organizational level. And of course, I loved Sean from when he was introduced as a character – that being said, I’m also not a huge fan of the secret identity trope – I get why people may do it (I mean, heck, I just participated in a blog hop about pseudonym’s in blogging) – but it just felt like something was missing.

Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood on Tap was filed with Avery flynn’s spunky characters and whitty reparte (oh why can’t I write like that) – and I loved seeing Logan/Miranda from book 1 again (albiet only briefly) – but I wanted a bit more. The mystery element was nice, even though I kind of had it figure out how it was (even with the twist). i think my favorite part of the story is seeing the town and how people interact with others – those who step up to support the Sweet’s and those that continue to hold grudges against them (cough, like the local law enforcement, cough). I do feel like the story could have had a little bit more at the end – everything turned out a bit too pretty and tied up in a bow (for lack of a better term) for me.

Overall, I gave Hollywood on Tap 3.5 stars (rounding it up to 4 on Goodreads/amazon) – a solid story, hot in places which made for an entertaining read. I’ll be interested to see where the next book in the series takes me.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Book Review

 

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