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Audiobook Review – A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

Audies nominee paranormal

a second chanceA Second Chance
Author: Jodi Taylor
Series: #3 in the The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series
Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Zara Ramm
Run Time: 9hrs 14 min
Narration Rating: 4 stars

Description:
St Mary’s is back and nothing is going right for Max. Once again, it’s just one damned thing after another. The action jumps from an encounter with a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton to the bloody battlefield at Agincourt. Discover how a simple fact-finding assignment to witness the ancient and murderous cheese- rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC – concussion by cheese. The long awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy ends in personal catastrophe for Max and just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse – it’s back to the Cretaceous Period again to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose. So, make the tea, grab the chocolate biscuits, settle back and discover exactly why the entire history department has painted itself blue …

Review:
Oh where to begin, of the 6 books nominated for the paranormal category for the Audies, this is the one I was probably looking forward to the most. I’m a huge fan of time travel type stories (i mean, my addiction started with Outlander like 15 years ago), so when I was reading the description I was sucked in. From the get-go, A Second Chance was a roller coaster right of history, funny and educational at the same time. I could tell that the author had a passion for it because of not only the general history that most people know about different time periods, but all the other random factoids – like Cheese Rolling (yes, you read that right, Cheese Rolling!) And better yet, Cheese Rolling STILL EXISTS! Yes, I want to try it! (5 absurd food-based sports you couldn’t even make up”).

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the book was that Max and her folks didn’t try to change history, but were rather there to just observe it. It made it more enjoyable because you knew that none of the actions of the teams from St. Mary’s were going to change how the Battle of Agincourt played out, or what Newton did…I think if I had found myself in the same situation, it would have been hard to not want to change things, especially if you knew something bad was going to happen…so the fact that the historical encounters in the book were solely fact gathering missions made it intriguing to me. I starting thinking about where would I love to visit, if I was given the opportunity to travel back in time and honestly, its still up in the air. I’m going to have to think about it and who knows, maybe when I go back and listen to the rest of the series, since I will be doing that, maybe a trip will really spark my interest.

Zara Ramm was a new to me narrator, but I can safely save (as with several other narrators nominated in the paranormal category), it won’t be my last time listening to her. In fact, I’ve already purchased the first book in this series, as well as several freebies that are available (what can I say, I only have a slight problem with freebies)…i think one of the good things about how well her narration tied into the novel was that it was told from a female POV, so having one who was well modulated and articulate (as Max was, since she is a historian and a department leader) worked well. There were times during the narration I was laughing so hard at the antics of Max and her crew (and no, not just the cheese rolling), that I thought I was going to have to pull the car over so as to avoid an accident.

If you are interested in a comedic romp through history with a well-meaning but slightly disaster bound historian, then this series may be one for you. I do recommend not drinking while listening however, as you may find that you need to purchase a new computer monitor (or similar). 3.5 stars for the book and 4 stars for the narration.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship – Brittainy C. Cherry

totally ridiculousOur Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
All families have secrets, and Jules Stone’s is no exception. Deciding not to follow in her family’s Oscar-winning footsteps, Jules chooses to take a more behind-the-scenes career in one of the Top 10 Talent Agencies in Chicago. After being dumped five hours before spending Christmas with her dysfunctional family, she needs a plan to avoid their judgmental eyes.

Enter: Kayden Reece.

Kayden is the black sheep of his family, being the one actor drowning in a world of doctors and lawyers. Never really getting a jumpstart at his acting career or landing a big time role, he can feel his dad’s disappointment soaking into his spirit.

When Kayden gets a chance to meet and sign with a big name agent at Walter and Jacks Talent Agency, he’s ready to prove everyone wrong. Jules stumbles into the building in shambles, ugly crying, and begging to pay an actor a big sum of money to be her made-up boyfriend for five days, Kayden jumps at the opportunity—finally able to say he landed a role.

When secrets start to unravel, Kayden and Jules must learn that all families have their baggage, sometimes co-stars fall in lust, and it’s important to always have invisible mistletoe hanging around.

Review:
Sometimes when you are home with bronchitis and feeling cruddy, a cute romance is just what you need and Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship hit all my happy buttons. Last week I was lucky enough to get an unplanned 3 day vacation from work (unfortunately, not by choice) and while looking for something to read, I came across this book in Kindle Unlimited. Honestly, I think someone had recommended it, but darn if I can remember.

Anyways, I will admit that the title at first made me chuckle and then shake my head – because honestly, I was expecting a comedy of errors type plot device – I mean, at least, that is what I would image when you use the word ridiculous in a title. But it turned out to be a rather sweet romance – although I will admit that the secondary characters (family members mostly) were so whacked out that maybe ridiculous is an appropriate description.

While I’m not always a fan of the fake marriage/marriage of convenience plot device (I mean, since normally its needing to pose in order to get an inheritance or a job), in this case it worked for me, because it revolved around the simple desire of wanting to show your family that you are successful/loved etc. Yeah, maybe a bit cheesy, but when you are introduced to Jules family, you’ll find out why I say that. And opposite to that, there was Kayden’s family that was (pardon my french) a bunch of assholes (well, aside from his mom). They were the most obnoxious group of people I’ve read about in a good long while. One of the things I really liked about the book was that there wasn’t the huge secret/big misunderstanding trope that is used so frequently. While there was a bit of one, it didn’t take up the whole plot and was resolved relatively quickly.

Overall, a cute contemp romance that will just (hopefully) make you feel happy inside ;)

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Risk – Skye Jordan

the riskThe Risk
Author: Skye Jordan
Series: #1 in the Xtreme Heros series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Former Olympian turned physical therapist to the elite Julia Bailey knows all about pushing the limits. But when a sexual harassment suit costs her a dream job—not to mention her reputation—she takes on the biggest risk of her life. Rehabilitating the X Games’ most notorious bad boy might be just what she needs to secure the funds for her own treatment center. Problem is, the only kind of recovery her new client is interested in is under-the-covers freestyle—gear optional.

Daredevil snowboarder Noah Hunt is a rock star—on and off the slopes. A recent accident might have him down, but he’s far from out. He doesn’t care what the sexy therapist with the sweet curves says. He’s got sponsors to impress and trophies to collect, and taking things slow and steady just ain’t his style. A little dirty talk and a sizzling night later, Julia learns just how fast and hard he likes to play. Too bad for him, his heart goes all in, and one wrong move could cost him more than just his career.

Review:
Skye Jordan is a name that I have heard thrown around both groups on Goodreads and on Amazon as a author I should try, but as seems to be the case, I have a book of hers sitting on the pile, but not yet gotten around to reading. So when the opportunity arose to review her newest book as part of the launch blog tour I was intrigued enough by the description and by the cover (I mean, seriously, have you SEEN the cover?!?!) that I knew I wanted to try it and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.

From the get-go you could tell how much research the author had done not only into the world of snowboarding (which I know very little about), but also physical therapy (while never having busted my ankle, some of the techniques described have been used on me during various periods of recovery from other sports injuries). It added a sense of realism to the story – although I will admit that you could tell some of the process had been speed-up to fit with the storyline. However, from the description, I kind of expected more about the issues Julia had prior to working with Noah, but they were fairly hidden away/downplayed in the story – which was a bit of a let-down (I always figure if something is important enough to be featured prominently in the blurb, then why not include it more in the storyline…otherwise, it just feels as though it was added for angst and not really conducive to the story).

I liked the whole development between Noah and Julia as a relationship in general – but then I’m a sucker for doctor/patient and other healthcare themed romances. It very vaguely reminded me of an old school Sandra Brown (Adam’s Fall) but with the physical therapist being a former athlete. The romance between Noah and Julia felt hot and yet sweet at the same time – I actually like how she tortured him a bit before giving in and how she was willing to fight people who said “i’m the specialist that’s why” when it came to his health. My least favorite part of their romance was the random thoughts that Noah had towards the end that felt a bit 50shades-ish – it didn’t add to the story at all, and honestly felt like it was just added in as a shock factor. It was because of that, that I actually lowered my rating from 4 stars, down to 3.5 – it just felt unnecessary/didn’t work for me (don’t get me wrong, I read erotic romance regularly, but in this instance, it just wasn’t needed (IMHO).

Overall, I enjoyed the Risk – the romance was for the most part really well done and Ms Jordan did a good job developing the sexual tension between Noah and Julia. I will be curious to see where she takes the series with future books and I know that I will be moving other books that I have by her up my to-read pile.

Buy Links:
Amazon – The Risk (Xtreme Heroes 1)
Barnes and Noble – The Risk
Apple – The Risk
Kobo – The Risk

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Haven Lake – Holly Robinson

haven lakeHaven Lake
Author: Holly Robinson
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Sydney Bishop hasn’t returned to Haven Lake, her idyllic childhood home, since a pair of shocking, tragic deaths shattered her family when she was only sixteen. Now a child psychologist engaged to marry a successful surgeon, Sydney has worked hard to build a relationship with Dylan, her fiancé’s teenage son, so she feels nothing but empathy when he runs away—until she discovers that his hitchhiking journey has led him to Haven Lake and her mother Hannah’s sheep farm.

Sydney returns to Haven Lake for the first time in twenty years to coax the boy home. Against her daughter’s wishes, Hannah offers to take Dylan in until he’s ready to reveal his own troubling secrets. Now, for Dylan’s sake as well as their own, Sydney and Hannah must confront the devastating events that tore them apart and answer the questions that still haunt their family—and the suspicious surrounding community—about what really caused two people to die on their farm those many years ago.

Review:
This is a hard review for me to write because Holly Robinson has been a favorite author of mine since I read her book The Wishing Hill a couple of years ago, so when I got my hands on Haven Lake I was excited to dig on it. In fact, when I received my copy of it, I had a picture posted on twitter within about 10 minutes of opening the package. But when it came to reading it, I don’t know if I wasn’t in the right mood, or there was something that just wasn’t working for me, but I struggled with the initial stages. At one stage early on (I was maybe about 40 pages in), I put it down because I was struggling and there is sat, glaring at me from my bedside table for probably a good month or so (books rarely last that long as a current read). But on a snowy weekend, I curled up with Haven Lake and after I got past the chapter or so that I was stuck on, the rest of my reading was pretty much smooth sailing.

Much like her previous books, Haven Lake is a woman’s exploration into her life – what has gone wrong? what has gone right? what does she need to change to be where she wants to be? But I had issues relating to Sydney – I just felt like she wasn’t relatable – in fact, she was (at least to me an unfeeling bitch). She may have become slightly more redeemable as the book progressed for the most part, but honestly, yeah, I could have cared less.

I was much more interested in both Hannah and Sydney’s soon to be step-son, Dylan – they were to me the more interesting of the cast of characters. I’m always intrigued by people who decide to live off the grid (and while Hannah wasn’t completely off, she was fairly well unplugged) – mostly because I know I could never do it. I like my phone, my computer, Facebook, Starbucks etc wayyy to much ;) I also liked how Holly developed Dylan’s character – all I wanted to do while I was reading his portion was wrap him up in a huge hug (and then bitch-slap his father…). He reminded me of Gigi in Holly’s other book, Beach Plum Island. As a writer she has the troubled teen character very well developed (and they don’t seem to be cardboard cut-outs of each other, each are unique).

I ended up giving Haven Lake 3.5 stars because of my thoughts about Sydney through-out, since she was the main character and I just struggled to like her. As well as the fact that I very easily put this down and wasn’t in any rush to pick it back up, like I did with previous books by Holly. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as previous books, I think reader’s who like women’s lit may enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Dragon Her Back – Susannah Scott

dragon her backDragon Her Back
Author: Susannah Scott
Series: #3 in the Las Vegas Dragons series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
How To Claim Your Dragon…

As the head of security of Vegas’s Crown Jewel casino―and its hidden dragonshifter sanctuary―ice dragon Darius Dachien commands respect. Unfortunately, that respect isn’t always reciprocated. In fact, when it comes to the stunning Mei Chen, hostility might be a better word. Which makes things even harder for Darius, since Mei is his dragon mate. Without her, his dragon form is fading fast… and once lost, will be gone forever.

Mei can’t deny the fierce chemistry that simmers between them. If Darius were ever to discover who―or rather, what―she really is, she wouldn’t just lose him, but her place with the dragonshifters. The moment Mei’s past comes crashing into her present, she realizes her time for secrets has ended. Now she must reveal her true self… and risk both her life and her heart with the one man who could destroy her.

Review:
When I requested Dragon Her Back via netgalley, I was an idiot and didn’t realize that it was the third book in a series. Of course, I quickly realized that when I plugged the info into Goodreads (oh when will i actually learn to check first…). Normally, I would try to read previous books in a series in a similar scenario, but honestly, in true fashion, too many books and too little time – so I opted to just dive on it and hope that I wouldn’t be too lost in the world building. And for the most part, Dragon Her Back can be read stand-alone. There were some details in the world building (like the different types of dragons and some of the world politics) that I felt like I was missing early on, but they were explained as the book continued. And there were also some inside jokes between the main characters that I didn’t always get because I missed the back story (but that is the story of my life).

I’ve mentioned before that Enemies to Lovers is one of my favorite romance tropes and while Darius and Mei’s relationship doesn’t quite reach that level of dislike, there is a definite feeling of dislike between the two of them. One of the things I liked the most about Mei was that she was a true take no shit female, maybe it was because she was a dragon (lol) – but she gave as good as she got when it came to interaction with the different people in the story. Even in the face of the conflict between herself, Darius and outside entities – she wasn’t just going to give in and didn’t put herself into idiotic situations.

This was my first book by Ms Scott, but I was intrigued enough by the world premise and enjoyed the writing enough that I’m going to go back and read the previous books in the series and will hopefully get an opportunity to read more book by her in the future. I gave Dragon Her Back 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars on Goodreads and Amazon.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Book Review

 

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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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