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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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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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