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Review – Chasing Desire – Joya Ryan

chasing desireChasing Desire
Author: Joya Ryan
Series: #3 in the Chasing Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
It’s her best friend’s wedding, and Autumn Lane is trussed up in a pink bridesmaid dress with a big “everything is great” smile plastered across her face. She’s not going think about her life imploding, or spending the next two weeks housesitting in the ridiculously small town of Diamond. No, she’d rather think about the tattooed hottie in the wedding party…and how to turn the wicked way he’s looking at her into a night of intense pleasure.

Huck Galvin is fiercely attracted to his mystery woman’s no-BS attitude, but their one-night-no-strings plan backfires when Huck discovers that Autumn is the out-of-towner he’s “chaperoning” for the next two weeks. Outside the bedroom, the two can’t stand each other, yet Huck can’t deny how much he wants one more night with her. But Autumn isn’t going to make it easy for Huck. Not by a long shot…

Review:
I had an unplanned day off work today (thank you 6″ of snow and the Federal Gov’t closing), so in typical fashion after shoveling myself out of my driveway, I jumped in the car and headed out for a pedicure, kindle in hand with Joya Ryan’s new book just sitting there waiting to be read. Yes, I am that kind of dork when it comes to reading! So I settled in to get my pedicure, opened my kindle and was sucked into Huck and Autumn (Auto’s) story. I’d read the first book in the series previously (although not the second), so I knew the context in which the opening scenes took place (and while I think this could easily be read as a stand-alone – knowing the previous couples in the series is also advantageous).

Ms Ryan has a very smooth but energetic way of story-telling – you find yourself sucked into the story, clicking away one page/screen at a time, and before I knew it, I was over 3/4 of the way done (thankfully, I still had to wait for my toe nails to finish drying, so I could finish reading before I left). but I’m sure no one wants to read about my adventures in pedicures (although I will admit picking a nail polish can be kind of an adventure) ;) So on to the book…

Where to begin…I loved Autumn as a character, she was kick-ass and thankfully didn’t have any TSTL moments (to stupid to live) like many heroines in romances nowadays. Her job as a mechanic was something different (I can only think of one other romance featuring a female mechanic right now (Start Me Up – Victoria Dahl) – although plenty of ones with male mechanics (maybe because the visual of a grimy, sweaty man just makes hearts go aflutter). And you could tell that the author had done her research and Autumn was believable in how she presented herself – her job wasn’t just in the story as a place-holder/in the background – it was an active part in moving the plot and relationship between her and Hank forward. Seriously, I mean, not many women (at least that i know) would grab tools on the day of a friends wedding (while she is supposed to be getting ready) to fix something that needed fixing…I’m just sayin’

And then there was Huck…ok, so yeah, the name threw me at the beginning because it just seemed to out of left field – I mean, I was having visions of Huckleberry Finn at times, and not the tattooed/pierced bad boy he was. While he was presented in a very visual way, I do wish some more of him as a person was developed – there were some great one-liners with him and his father about his lack of mechanical skills (even if he could build anything else) – and I felt the lose that he suffered, that made him part of the curmudgeon that he could be seen as being early on in the story.

As with my previous books i’ve read by her, one of Ms Ryan’s strengths is the secondary characters who appear in the town. I particularly liked Huck’s father and you could see from his characterization how much he loved his son/wanted to see him be happy. I also liked seeing Jenna and Colt (from bk 1 again); and now I want to go back and read book 2 for Penny and Sebastian’s story. if you want a fun, smexy, mostly-angst free contemporary romance, I highly recommend Joya Ryan’s Chasing love series. 4 stars

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Do Over – Mari Carr

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

Description:
Sometimes once is not enough…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly

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

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course it can’t…

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Fire Me Up – Kimberly Kincaid

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

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Seducation and Snacks – Tara Sivec

seduction snacksSeducation and Snacks
Author: Tara Sivec
Series: #1 in the Chocolate Lovers series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Claire is a twenty-something, single mom that grudgingly helps her best friend sell sex toys while she attempts to make enough money to start her own business to give her foul-mouthed, but extremely loveable (when he’s asleep) toddler a better life.

When Carter, the one-night-stand from her past that changed her life forever, shows up in her hometown bar without any recollection of her besides her unique chocolate scent, Claire will make it a point that he remembers her this time.

With Carter’s undisguised shock at suddenly finding out he has a four-year-old son and Claire’s panic that her stretch marks and slim to none bedroom experience will send the man of her dreams heading for the hills, the pair will do whatever they can to get their happily ever after.

Review:
What can I say about this book that I didn’t like, little to nothing. This book has it all a great mix of vulgar language, one night stands, sex toys and of course chocolate. This book is so well written I can say that you laugh so much you may end up with a twat tap if you laugh to hard in public.

Claire is by far one of the women you find yourself instantly connected to. Claire takes everything in stride. She does have a few moments of break down. No one is perfect. Finding out that you may be pregnant after a one night stand with a guy you don’t know and have no clue if he remembers you. She ends up back home and putting her life on hold her dreams of opening up a business with her long time friend Liz. That was a no go.

Carter is searching for the girl he slept with 5 years ago at a frat party the girl that haunts his dreams. Every time he smells chocolate he thinks of her. He cant seem to get her out of his head. The question is, is she just a dream? He spends the first part of his 5 year with his crazy ex who ends up cheating on him with his neighbor while watching well that I will leave for a surprise because I laughed so hard I about peed.

This book is full of surprises but it’s also very straight forward so you can see it coming. The characters are easy to connect with and they leave you with a happy ending. I know there are more books to this series, however, I was very happy with the way this book ended and have not found that I needed to read the others.

If you are looking for a funny, quirky romance with a touch of awe moments in it then this is the book for you.

I found these quotes to be the ones I love the most. Just a sneak peek into the craziness that is this book

Quotes
“Its a pain you forget all about once you have that sweet little baby in your arms.” Bull Shit. I CALL BULLSHIT.

“You know, I think its time i turn my vagina into an Arby’s Beef and Cheddar (minus the cheddar) and saddle myself down for a minimum of eighteen years to someone who will suck the soul and will to live right out of my body.”

“Give me a cat over a kid any day. You can open up a bag of Meow Mix, Plop it down on the floor next to a bucket of water, gone on vacation for a week and come home to an animal that is so busy licking its own ass that it has no idea you were even gone.”

Seriously you couldn’t go wrong with this book for me it gets a 4 out of 5!

I hope you pick this one up it’s a seriously great read.

~Kristin

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Designed for Love – Kelsey Browning

designed for loveDesigned for Love
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #4 in the Texas Nights series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

Review:
There are times when I can’t wait for a series of books to end, and others where I get upset knowing that the stories have all been told and it is time for it to end. For me, Texas Nights by Kelsey Browning is one of the latter. For four books now, we have experienced the adventures of members from Shelbyville, TX as they find friendship, love and lust in their respective stories, and Designed for Love was no different.

In DfL, we meet up with Ashton Davenport, who was first introduced in Running the Red Light, the second book in the series, where she was the less than nice – ok, make that bitchy manager who Roxanne had previously worked for – and a spoiled brat to boot. I remember disliking her then and was really unsure whether the author would be able to redeem her for me. But, she managed to do so. I don’t know if it was the antics of her dog, Napoleon, who made me laugh so hard that I worried about pee’ing my pants; or how she was willing to try new things, even if she might get burnt – but over time, I found myself liking her and glad that the Ms Browning decided to give her, her story.

Then, there was Mac…oh Mac, Mac, Mac…its funny – three of the last five books I’ve finished (including this one) somehow feature a main character involved in construction – either as a general contractor, re-furbishing a house, or as an electrician – I must be on a construction romance theme kick ;) – but then of course, hot, sweaty, smexy men…I mean… However, as with most books, I still want something more – I think my biggest issue with DfL was that I wanted to know more about Mac – unlike the heroes in the previous books (Jamie/Cam/Beck), who had been featured in other books, this was (as far as I can recall) my first introduction to Mac (meaning, if he did appear in a previous book, I totally don’t remember). There was so much mystery surrounding him, that I was kind of disappointed and wanted a bit more when it came to the reveal about his history. Not a major gripe, just something I would have liked more of.

By far my favorite character, as alluded above, was Napoleon, the dog. I love it when an author creates an animal that is essential to the storyline (and not just put in to have a dog in the story). Of course, having following the authors blog and seen her passion for animals, that doesn’t surprise me. I have to wonder if any of Napoleon’s antics were events that have occurred in real life…especially the jock strap incident…

Overall, I gave Designed for Love a solid 4 stars, and am sad to see the series end :(

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Martian – Andy Weir

the martianThe Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Audiobook Length: 10h4s 53 min
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review:
Every so often (although more frequently), there are books that people rave about, and rave about and sometimes I avoid the temptation to jump in and read and other times I take the plunge. I’d been hearing about The Martian on and off for probably a good year nearly from various online reading groups, so when it was selected as a group read in one of my Goodreads groups, I toddled off to Audible and grabbed the audiobook. Of course, as usual, I had several other books to finish up first before I could start it, but when I did, holy roller coaster of a ride. As I started listening, the whole storyline reminded me of that 1980’s TV show MacGyver (with the fantabulous Richard Dean Anderson). You know, where you give RDA a carrot, a battery and a spoon and he constructs a working bomb – that is who Mark Watney reminded me of. Of course, he wasn’t hunting (or being hunted by bad guys), or blowing things up (well…not on purpose at least) – but the problem solving mentally was perfect.

I’ll admit that I am not a science geek by any stretch of a means, so a lot of that kind of stuff went right over my head – especially when they had the guy talking about orbital physics (I can barely spell it – I just had to resort to using spell check to spell physics…). But even with all that, the technically stuff was for the most part, addressed in a way that even a lay person could attempt to understand – which the author used technie words/theories, he also tried to dumb them down for normal people. I think if the story had just been limited to Mark’s POV, it would have been a lot weaker overall – however, the integration of the NASA scientists who are trying to rescue him and his former crew-members who left him for dead, made the storyline much more intriguing.

The narrator, R.C. Bray, is brand-new to me but I can tell you that it won’t be the last time I listen to him. He managed to toe the line between comedic inference and serious moments perfectly. There were times when I was laughing so hard at his narration that I was crying. I found that his voice distinctions between Mark and the assortment of other characters was well-defined, even down to his narration of the Chinese astronaut and the Indian astrophysicist. I highly recommend him as a narrator to try.

Overall, I gave both the book and narration 4 stars, and glad that I took the opportunity to listen to it. Personally, for me, I think it worked better in audio, than reading, but that might just be me.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Audiobook Review

 

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