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Wishlist Wednesday – 29 July 15

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes books I get excited about are random advertisements that I find and this weeks Wishlist Wednesday book was next exception. It popped up as an banner advertisement on Goodreads while I was browsing last week and there was something about it that just caught my eye. I’m a sucker for World War 2 fiction (I always used to make the comment if I did graduate work in history rather than psychology, it would probably be WW2 based) as well as stories based on families. So when I saw this book advertised, I added it (quite happily) to my not-yet-released shelf on Goodreads to track. It wasn’t until I started to prep for this post and did some deeper digging that i got even more excited to read it. The author (Marius Gabriel) actually wrote a bunch a romances using a female pseudonym (Madeleine Ker) in the 1980’s. I always find it interesting to read books by these male authors who wanted to write something unexpected and so wrote in a genre that is very female dominated. I don’t know if I ever read any of his books that were written as Madeleine Ker, but I’m intrigued to check them out.

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Description:
As the devastating years of the Second World War march ever closer, the beautiful Redcliffe sisters must face their own struggles and navigate the perils of growing up—and growing apart.

Eldest sister Isobel—passionate, domineering, misguided—is infatuated with Fascism. But can she continue to justify her dangerous political beliefs when faced with the shocking realities of Nazi Germany?

Chiara, the bright and happy golden child, is more interested in the joyful whirl of the season than matters of faith or ideology. But even her breezy innocence cannot survive the harsh lessons of heartbreak and war.

Insecure and introverted Felicity, youngest of the three, is about to take her vows and enter the convent, against her sisters’ wishes. A chance meeting with an American soldier threatens the very foundations of her decision.

Each sister must follow her own path and, as they do so, their differences threaten to take them beyond the realms of forgiveness.

Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye will be re-released on August 4 from Lake Union publishing (was previously published as Weep No More)

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Audiobook Review – The Mountain Can Wait – Sarah Leipciger

23197320The Mountain Can Wait
Author: Sarah Leipciger
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Run Time: 8hrs, 1 min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
“Her face in the headlights flashed like a coin. She was an instant, the sulphuric flare of a match.”

Tragedy erupts in an instant. Lives are shattered irrevocably. A young man drives off into the night, leaving a girl injured, perhaps fatally so.

From that cliffhanger opening, Sarah Leipciger takes readers back and forward in time to tell the haunting story of one family’s unraveling in rural logging country where the land is still the economic backbone. Like the novels of Annie Proulx, this extraordinarily lyrical debut is rooted in richly detailed nature writing and sharply focused on small town mores and the particularities of regional culture.

Review:
As I started listening to The Mountain Can Wait, I realized early on that a key theme/echo through-out would be, ‘the mountain can give and the mountain can take’ and that is how I would describe this book by Leipciger in 10 words or less. From the description of the book, the reader (or in this case, listener) goes into it knowing that there is going to be an element of mystery (although not really suspense), but that there would be more of a focus on family ties and character interaction. Its actually kind of hard to describe without giving huge spoilers.

For me the most enjoyable part of the story (aside from the narration which is a whole separate beast) was seeing the representation of different cultures that the author managed to weave into the story. Having never been to Canada, and not growing up in the US, my knowledge of geography in the British Columbia/Saskatchewan area is basically nonexistent, as well as my knowledge of the indigenous people that live in the area. The relationship between the main character, Tom and his children (Curtis and Erin) seemed very distant and potentially almost neglectful at times – although it was written in a way to make the reader try to understand the hard life that loggers have – when they have to leave their families/homes for potentially weeks/months on end in order to earn money to survive and especially in the sense that they might not have support systems; or their lack of presence may cause issues with their support system (in this instance, Tom’s wife who disappeared prior to the book starting).

I really liked/appreciated how the author approached the writing – taking a certain event that occurred and then going back in time and working forward to the event; and even then continuing on until the story completion in the epilogue. While its a harder style to write than a true linear one and it needs the right kind of story to use the style, it was definitely suited for this book.

I will admit that if Robert Petkoff hadn’t been the narrator that I probably wouldn’t have picked it to read/review. There are some narrators that I will automatically gravitate to, no matter the style of book, or if its a genre of book I normally read or don’t read – and Robert Petkoff is one of those narrators. For me, the strength in this audiobook was that it was told predominantly from a male POV. At the same time, the cast of characters wasn’t necessarily as diverse as other books I have listened to and since the two main characters (Tom and Curtis) were family, it made for some similar voice intonations during the narration (although I would expect that if the book revolved around family, since it is often the case). While The Mountain Can Wait was 8hrs long, it flowed it a way that made it feel substantially shorter – which is always good for me when it comes to listening.

Overall, I was intrigued by Sarah Leipciger debut novel and I’m intrigued to see what she writes about in the future. I gave The Mountain Can Wait 3.5 stars for writing and the narration 4 stars with a solid performance by Robert Petkoff like always.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Make Me Up – Avery Flynn

make me up Make Me Up
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #3 in the Killer Style series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Former special ops-turned private-investigator Cam Hardy leaves a trail of broken hearts wherever he goes. He’s all charm and sex appeal, and who can blame him for putting it to good use? Besides, it works damn well on the stunning and tough-as-nails makeup artist Drea Sanford. Only this time, Cam may be in over his head…

Drea is trying to keep her naughty affair with Cam a secret. After all, he’s Harbor City’s version of a Casanova…if Casanova had a motorcycle. When Cam makes their hot little liaison known to the public, however, Drea vows never to have sex with him again. Then one of her clients turns up dead. Now Drea is suspect number one—and she needs Cam’s help. But sleeping with him is one thing…trusting him is quite another.

Review:
Ever since Avery introduced Drea in High-Heeled Wonder as one of Sylvie’s partners in crime (and knowing Avery and her 2 partners in crime, I have an idea of who Drea is modeled after, I think) – i’ve been waiting for her story. She has one of those quirky personalities, that I could see early on was going to make for a fun romance between her and whoever her partner ended up being. And don’t worry, Cam didn’t disappoint either. Although I will admit that while I remember Drea from previous books in the series, I don’t have as much of a recollection of Cam (although, I’m sure that he has made an appearance because he works for the same Private Investigations company that previous characters have been employed by).

In keeping with previous themes, each chapter of Make-Me Up started off with a quote about make-up and its influence on life. That being said, anyone who knows me, knows how much I am not a make-up girl. Diverging a bit from my review (but it kind of ties in), I needed to buy make-up for an event a few years back, so my friend took me to Sephora and asked the sales woman to help…let’s just say, deer in the headlights was probably a good description when she started asking me about my make-up routine and t-zones…but even with my lack of make-up wearing (i mean, seriously, make-up or 10 min more in bed in the am…bed is going to win); I could connect to Drea as a character.

I will admit that the mystery/suspense element for me was fairly obvious and I knew the reveal about halfway through the book, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of Drea/Cam’s romance. I loved how Drea was a strong enough/confident enough woman in her own sexuality that she was ok with having a sex-based relationship with someone because that is what she wanted (does that make sense?). Overall, I gave Make-Me Up 4 stars and can’t wait to see what Ms Flynn comes up with next.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Book Review

 

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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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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 – This Year’s Black – Avery Flynn

this years blackThis Year’s Black
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #2 in the Killer Style series

Review Copy Provided by The Author

Description:
A fighter since birth, Allegra “Ryder” Falcon would rather trade in her all-black wardrobe for head-to-toe hot pink than let anyone ever see the cracks in her tough exterior. But one night with a stranger changes everything.

Devin Harris may have given up his MMA fighting dreams for high fashion, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t always in control. So when someone embezzles millions under his watch, he isn’t going to let the private investigator working the case go it alone—even if she is the woman who blew him away in bed and then blew him off.

Just when it seems like it couldn’t get any hotter between Ryder and Devin, the case takes them to a tropical paradise where the danger increases. From the catwalk to the pineapple fields, they have to work together to track down the missing millions before the thief finds—and kills—them.

Review:
Oh where to begin, after i finished up High-Heeled Wonder a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if Ms Flynn’s second book in the series could be more enjoyable, since I seriously enjoyed it (I mean, mystery featuring a fashion blogger), but when I saw the Allegra “Ryder” (sister of the hero in the first book) was going to be the heroine in the second book I was intrigued – she was the kind of female who reminds me, of, well me…haha! well, not really, but a kick-ass, no excuses, get the job done kind of chick, who also isn’t dumb, like so many heroines in romsus/mystery type books (you know, the ones who are TSTL – for lack of a better word). But at the same time, she isn’t afraid to ask for help (holy crap – a character that actually realized they aren’t invincible…shock gasp). And then there is Devin – the bad boy to the core, trying to hide who he really is under dress shirts and ties – listening to what society/his family think he should do. There was something about him that made me just want to give him a huge (and do other dirty things to him – hehe).

I will admit that I’m kind of conflicted over whether I liked the mystery more in the first one or this one – although I will admit this one had less mystery (since I figured out the who-dun-it before the reveal) than the first one, but more suspense in the resolution of the storyline. Plus the vivid images that Ms Flynn painted of the island just sucked me in (I really could have booked a ticket then and there).

I will say my one gripe is the dress that Ryder is wearing on the cover, it just soo wasn’t sexy in any way shape or form, at first i thought she might have been pregnant and trying to hide the evidence, but no, it was just really loose and gathered in weird places – yeah, I know probably pedantic, but it soo wasn’t sexy to me.

All I can say, is that she needs to hurry up and write more books! 4 stars overall and a recommendation for anything who likes hot romance with a touch of mystery.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Beach Plum Island – Holly Robinson

beach plum islandBeach Plum Island
Author: Holly Robinson

Review Copy Provided by Author via STB on Goodreads

Description:
“Your brother should know the truth.”

These are the last cryptic words that Ava Barrett’s father says before he dies. But Ava doesn’t have a brother, as far as she knows, so how can she tell him the truth? She dismisses the conversation and dedicates herself to bringing her family together for her father’s funeral. This is no easy task, since her sister, Elaine, has been estranged from the family and still harbors resentment against their stepmother and half-sister, Gigi. Ava, on the other hand, is a single mother who sees Gigi as a troubled teen in need of love and connection.

Ava, too, could use more love in her life and finds it where she least expects it. But the biggest surprise of all is that Gigi holds the key to the mystery surrounding her father’s dying words, and joins Ava in uncovering a secret that rapidly unravels the very fabric of their entire family…

Review:
When I got my first look at the cover for Beach Plum Island, my immediate thought was that it would whimsical, flirty, a light kind of read. But having previously read Holly Robinson’s work, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case – she manages to find that story that tugs at the heart-strings. And Beach Plum Island was no different, although I will admit that it wasn’t as angsty as her previous book – not that I’m complaining!

I was sucked in to the story of Ava, Elaine and Gigi from the very beginning – there is something about Holly’s writing that makes the relationship between the women so real – I mean, I felt like I was watching three sisters interact, there were happy moments, sad moments, moments where I wanted to hit one (or all three of them) upside the head. There is definately plenty of angst between the three of them, from Ava/Elaine and the sisters who grew up together, to Gigi, the interloper, trying to figure out where she fits in the family. Added to that the last words from their dying father, about a brother no one knew existed. The mystery of finding their brother played out well through the book, it wasn’t like a wham bam solve the mystery ma’am, but rather a gradual release of clues and discovery leading to the ultimate discovery. There was definately a feel-good ending to the book.

This was one of those books where you think you are just going to read a chapter or two, and then next thing you know its 2am and your alarm clock is going to go off in 2 hours…(yeah, it most definately got snoozed that morning). Its hard for me to say which authors are similar to Holly Robinson, maybe Kristin Hannah with her female relationships, but I think that Holly’s books tend to be more final at the end, whereas sometimes Ms Hannah’s leaving me feeling not quite done.

Overall, I gave Beach Plum Island , 4.5 stars, but rounding down to 4 on Goodreads (and up to 5 on Amazon).

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Book Review

 

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