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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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Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

the cuckoo's callingThe Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
Series: #1 in the Cormoran Strike series

Description:
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.

Review:
I’ll be the first to admit, I probably never would have picked up this book if it hadn’t been revealed that the author was J.K. Rowling. I’ll also admit that while I loved the Harry Potter books, her other book (A Casual Vacancy) got put aside before I hit 100 pages, because it wasn’t working for me. But after seeing several good reviews from people I trust on Goodreads, I decided to give it a go and I wasn’t disappointed. That being said, if you are looking for a very fast paced mystery, you aren’t going to get one. It would much better be described (and i’m stealing words from a friend here) as a character study wrapped up in a mystery.

The mystery itself was really straight forward – who killed Lula Landrey – an up and coming star, who was believed to have committed suicide. But that honestly wasn’t the most interesting part of the book, in fact, I actually figured out the who-done-it about half-way through (don’t actually ask me how, because I don’t think there was anything that actually pointed to the answer, it was just a feeling), but rather the development of the characters and how they all interacted with each other. In fact, I think one of the most impressive parts of the story was how there were characters who we never actually met (Charlotte, Michael and Cormoran’s father) but who all played significant roles and had profound influences on the intricancies in the storyline. They were often used to highlight weaknesses in characters, or internal conflicts that might not otherwise have been revealed.

While I didn’t enjoy The Casual Vacancy because it was heavy on characterization without much moving the plot forward, I liked The Cuckoo’s Calling because there was a story being told, as the characters were being developed. Overall, I gave Cuckoo’s Calling 4 stars, but like stated above, if you want a fast paced mystery, this isn’t the book for you.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Wedding Cake and Big Mistakes – Nancy Naigel

wedding cakesWedding Cake and Big Mistakes
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #3 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided by Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
For years, Carolanne Baxter dreamed of a life beyond Adams Grove. Being the daughter of the town drunk was no picnic, so when college offered her a chance for escape, she took it. Now Carolanne has returned home, finally ready to make amends with her father, Ben, and to celebrate the wedding of her best friends Jill and Garrett. Of course, the fact that Connor Buckham, her sexy new law partner and Garrett’s best man, happens to be the same guy the town matchmaker named as Carolanne’s perfect match…well! That’s just icing on the cake.

But Carolanne’s hopes for a fresh start are dashed when a dead body surfaces during Jill and Garrett’s wedding reception…and Ben Baxter becomes the prime suspect. The murder throws the town into uproar, threatening to destroy the tentative peace between father and daughter–and to derail the budding romance between Carolanne and Connor. Has the matchmaker’s perfect streak come to end? Or will the truth finally bring Carolanne the happy ending she’s dreamed of for so long?

Review:
Its weird – I both liked this book in the series more than the previous ones and yet was disappointed with it. Weird, I know. I loved being back in Adam’s Grove and meeting up with the people from Sweet Tea and Secrets again – especially since the wedding between Jill and Garrett from the first book in the series was a key event in this one. And you got to meet Carolanne, the MC, who is a good friend of Jill and her law partner Conner. I think my biggest disappoint was that the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to be more romance, or more mystery.

From the description off the back, I was expecting more from Carolanne’s relationship/estangement from her father – but it was kind of a fizzle…i wanted more conflict/angst – because that is kind of what I was expecting based on the description, and the storyline of Ben being suspected of murder just seemed like a minor tack-on. While there was a mystery, it kind of felt under-developed. Whereas, in the previous 2 books in the series, the murder (or other mystery) took place early on in the story, in this case, nothing happened until almost 2/3 of the way through the book, and then was solved equally as quick.

But that being said, the story was well-written and engaging – I finished it in just over 2 metro rides (so about 2.5 hours) – but i was sucked into the story. I definately like visiting Adams Grove, even if the mystery in this case, didn’t really work for me. Overall, I gave the book 3 stars.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple

where'd you go bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple

Narrator: Kathleen Wilhoite
Run Time: 9hrs and 39 minutes
Producer: Hachette Audio

Description:
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Review:
Where to start, oh where to start…if I had to pick one word to describe Where’d you go Bernadette – it was would be quirky…not weird (although Bernadette really did have her moments), but not really funny either (in fact, it almost felt a bit overdone and trying too hard in places). I think that since I had to wait for it so long to come in at the library (I was on the reserve list for like 3 months) that I overhyped it to myself. But its not like I regret listening to it – in fact in made for a rather entertaining road trip.

Its hard to describe Bernadette as a character…maybe completely and utterly self-absorbed and quite possibly a narcissist. It was ultimately all about her – no matter who she hurt…in fact it actually started to piss me off. I don’t know if i’ve dislike a character as much as her since I listened to Gone Girl last year…and then there was Bee, her daughter…omg, all I can say is that in places, she needed a good spanking (yes, I said it!). Her husband was at least kind of redeemable but then he was such a minor character (as much as that is possible), that he was kind of an odd-ball. And then there were the gnats…or the other residents of the neighbourhood where Bernadette lived…it seemed at times that they took over the story, and then were left hanging. In fact that was probably one of my biggest gripes – there were several story lines that were just not tied up and i was left with questions – which was part of the reason, i only gave it 4 stars – if everything had been tied up, it might have come close to a 5 star listen.

The narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite was brand new to me and I can say for sure, that it won’t be the last time I listen to her. I loved the inflection that she used for the different characters – I thought she nailed Bernadettes quirky-ness and Bee’s at-times whiny teenage voice. Even her voice for Bernadette’s hubby was good – which I often struggle with (the female narrators doing male voices and vice versa).

Overall, I gave both the story and the narration a solid 4 stars – and i’ll be interested to see what the author comes up with in the future.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Out of Focus – Nancy Naigel

out of focusOut of Focus
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #2 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Kasey Phillips thought her biggest problem was deciding whether to photograph Cody Tuggle’s honky-tonkin’ tour, until an accident on Route 58 claims the life of her husband. Hurricane Ernesto threatens the region. In a desperate race against time they search for Kasey’s three-year-old son who is missing from the wreckage. The community and friends rally to help, but someone knows more than they are telling.

Review:
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure going into reading this book what i was going to think. I was rather ambivalent after reading the first book because while it was decently written, I wasn’t blown away by it. But I had the second book on the pile and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad to say that it was an improvement on the first book, but there were still some bits and pieces that irked me.

I found that I had to suspend reality even more so in this one than in the previous one, but I found the mystery to be stronger. One of my biggest gripes I think was that I felt kind of mis-lead by the description on the book jacket – when it mentioned Hurricane Ernesto – I was kind of expecting more from it – that Kasey was going to be battling the wind and rain to find her son and that just didn’t happen.

I also didn’t necessarily find her actions to be consistent with a woman who has had her son kidnapped – but since i’m not an expert in the field, maybe I’m wrong. It just didn’t feel right…I also had an inkling of the who done it early on – although, I do think that this one was slightly less obvious than the one in book 1, in that, at one stage, I think I had identified 2-3 people who were possibles, but the revelation wasn’t all that surprising…

I gave Out of Focus 3 stars, but it is on the lower end of that range.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Sweet Tea and Secrets – Nancy Naigel

sweet tea and secretsSweet Tea and Secrets
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #1 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
Adams Grove is mourning the loss of Pearl Clemmons, known for her award-winning chocolate pecan pie and the best unsolicited advice in the county.
When Jill returns to settle her grandmother’s estate, she’s greeted by a Clydesdale-sized guardian dog who doesn’t seem to be earning his stripes (although he drools on them pretty well), and Garrett Malloy, the ex-fiance she left behind a year ago.
Jill insists on staying at Pearl’s amidst a string of break-ins that have sleepy Adams Grove wide awake and locking its doors. Jill’s past with Garrett becomes the least of her worries when she learns that their lives are in danger. She is the only person standing between a desperate conman and a secret from Pearl’s past.
Will Pearl’s past kill any chance of Jill and Garrett’s future together?

Review:
Sometimes you just see the title of a book and want to read it – for me Sweet Tea and Secrets was one of those books. Although, I’ll readily admit that I’m not a iced tea drinker (whoops, I mean Tea drinker), either sweet or unsweet…I prefer my tea hot, a la British style. But the description of the book sounded intriguing – I love the going back to your roots kind of story and it was set in Virgina where I lived for several years (during college, and then for another four years after that).

Unfortunately, while I enjoyed it (and I gave it a 3 star rating), I didn’t love it like I hoped that I would. but I can’t really pinpoint why…I know that I had no issues with putting it down and taking a break (even for several days), but when I picked it up, I was back in the routine…its weird…maybe it was because I never really felt a connection between Jill and Garrett. Their romance, and second chance romance is a favorite trope of mine, just didn’t feel like it worked…I didn’t feel a connection and at least to me, the mystery was obvious. I knew who had done the deeds early on, while I didn’t necessarily know why/how, I knew who…which I think added to my lack of enjoyment. oh and one other thing, and its minor, when the characters did a drive by of Virginia Tech, I was REALLY hoping that some places I had haunted while a student there would be mentioned, but none were – in fact, the place that was mentioned, I don’t even recall, and I spent 4 of the best years of my life in Blacksburg…

But that being said, it was a easy read – not hard, nothing that really makes you think/scratch your head. I am intrigued by the recipes that are in the back and might have to try some of them out – i’m always a sucker for traditional home-cooking. Overall, I gave ST&S 3 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Book Review

 

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