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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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 – The Week Before The Wedding – Beth Kendrick

the week before the weddingThe Week Before The Wedding
Author: Beth Kendrick

Description:
After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up.

Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow.

As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart

Review:
Ok, so i’m a sucker for second chance romances and when I came across the description for this book in BookPage (which BTW, how the heck did I not know about this awesome website…someone has seriously let me down), I was intrigued and my library had a copy (although I had to wait a little while for it to be returned). It came in from the library the day before I was flying somewhere and since I always make it a policy to have a couple of print books as well as my kindle, I threw it in the bag and so glad that I did. One of my legs was an uber-quick flight, so quick that we didn’t even get the opportunity to use electronic devices, so i picked up The Week Before The Wedding and started to read. To say that I was immediately sucked in, would be an understatement.

The author nailed the whole lead up to the wedding stress in a humorous way, and while I’m not married (much to my mothers disgust at times i think…), it made me think back to other weddings I have attended/been a part of. I have to admit that by about halfway through the book, I had a distinct hatred for Emily’s husband to be and his family…which I guess I was supposed to since that wasn’t who her HEA was going to be with – but boy, did I want to bonk him over the head, as well as her so-called “friends”

The re-kindling of the romance between Emily and Ryan was cute, but I will admit that I kind of wanted a bit more…I knew that there was the constraint of the week, but it was too perfect – I might get beat over the head, but I wanted some more angst…something…but either way, it was a cute romance – i’d give it 3.5 stars and will likely look for more books by the author in the future (the teaser for her next book was a killer)…

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society – Darien Gee

avalon ladiesThe Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Author: Darien Gee

Narrator: Tanya Eby
Run Time: 14hrs and 16 minutes
Producer: Tantor Audio

Review Copy of Audiobook Provided from Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243

At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.

Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.

Review:
I’m really conflicted over my review for this book. I really enjoyed the premise behind the story and the story itself, but I really struggled with the writing style. There was something cozy about getting to know the citizens of Avalon, Illinois (although, I was kind of bummed to see that it wasn’t a real town because I wanted to pick up and move there). Darien Gee did a great job in developing her characters – I felt like I had grown up with them, that I was a citizen of the town.

But at the same time, I really struggled with the writing style. Specifically, that it was written in this weird third person, present tense – and it felt awkward. My editor in my brain wanted me to go through with a red pen and either put it in first person, alternating POV or third person, past tense. My other issue was that at the same time, while I loved the wide variety of characters, a few times there were too many…I wish that she had stuck to the main women – there were a few cameos where someone was introduced and then nothing was ever mentioned about them again…it kind of felt disjointed and missing something. I would also caution that if you haven’t read Friendship Bread, that you might feel like you are missing something – I know that I haven’t and there were a few places where I was scratching my head.

I also strugged a few places with the narration. I don’t know if its because I’ve been spoiled recently by multiple narrators in audiobooks, but I wanted more. This would have been, (IMHO) a great opportunity for a multiple narrator book – with each main character having a different person narrate it. My mind just wasn’t transiting well between the voice for Betty (a 70 year old woman) and Ava (a mid-20’s young woman) to Isabelle (early 40’s)…but I will admit that it could got better as the narration progressed – so maybe it was just a matter of re-accustoming my ears to a single narrator. It would probably also good that there were limited male voices and those that there were, were mostly cameos – there were no main male characters.

Overall, I gave the writing/story 2 stars (mainly due to my struggles with the writing style used) and the narration 3 stars, so 2.5 stars overall. Which is kind of disappointing because I thought it had so much potential (maybe I had hyped it up to myself a bit too much…)

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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PROMO – Just My Luck – Rosalind James

just my luck

Just My Luck
Author: Rosalind James
Series: #5 in the Escape to New Zealand series

I have to admit that I was super-excited to see this entry into the Escape to New Zealand series pop up in my offers for blog tours.  Rosalind James is one of the best discoveries I have made, since I got my kindle and started using the lending library on Amazon Prime.  While I haven’t read this one yet, I can’t wait to download it.

About Rosalind:
Rosalind_webRosalind James is the author of the bestselling “Escape to New Zealand” series, as well as “Welcome to Paradise,” her first book in the new U.S.-based “Kincaids” series.

Rosalind divides her time between California and New Zealand.

Rosalind’s Website
Rosalind’s Facebook
Rosalind’s Twitter

Description:
A little distraction can be a wonderful thing.

Nate Torrance has a job to do, and the biggest rugby boots in the world to fill. He can’t afford to lose his focus, especially not to a brown-eyed Canadian who pushes all his buttons and looks much too good in a climbing harness.

Allison Villiers may not know what she wants to do with her life, but she’s clear about one thing. She’s not impressed by the new captain of the All Blacks, however big a deal he is to the rest of New Zealand. If only her unfortunate taste for adventure didn’t keep leading her astray . . .

See below for an excerpt from the book:

Excerpt:
“How are you finding Wellington so far?” Nate asked when they were out on the water. He’d managed to launch them from the beach with a shove, and even climb in again behind her without any mishaps. Ally was actually a little sorry. She’d been half-anticipating going over, and enjoying the prospect of teasing him about it. He definitely needed it.

“I love it,” she said, keeping up a steady stroke and feeling the calm that always came over her when she was surrounded by sea and sky, enjoying the effort, the rhythmic motion. She was going to be out here with him for a while, so she might as well keep this pleasant. She didn’t even have to look at him, after all. You couldn’t really turn around in a double kayak without tipping the thing, which was probably for the best in this case. “I’ve been wandering around getting happily lost, and finding my way home again. It’s a lively place, isn’t it? Lots of outdoor stuff to do too, and as you know, that’s my favorite thing.”

“It can get a bit wet and windy,” he cautioned.

“I’ve heard,” she said, unable to keep the amusement from her voice. “I’ve had a few discussions about the weather already, you see.”

She heard him groan. “I’m rubbish at chatting girls up,” he admitted, surprising a laugh from her. “I never know what to say. Everything’s either dull, or it sounds like a pickup line. I generally end up opting for dull.”

“Honesty works, though,” she told him. “That was pretty good right there.”

“Really.” He sounded surprised. “I should throw myself on your mercy, you think?”

“Definitely. A strong man being endearingly awkward . . . I like it. It’s an approach, anyway.”

“Better than spilling a beer on her, I reckon,” he said.

“Much better.” She realized that she was paddling along with a smile on her face. Why hadn’t she met this guy before? She liked him.

“I’ll try again, then,” he said. “Did you spend Christmas here as well, on the Coromandel?”

“No, in Auckland. And it rained one day, but otherwise the weather was good. Just to anticipate you.”

He laughed. “Do anything special?”

“I did, actually. I bungy jumped off the Sky Tower. Kristen’s Christmas present.”

“Crikey. This is me shuddering back here.”

“No, really?” she asked in surprise. “It was amazing. You should try it.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” he decided.

“You don’t like thrills?”

“I love thrills. Know how to get them, too. And it’s not by jumping off buildings.”

Wow. She didn’t think she’d pursue that one. Maybe he meant rugby. Yeah, right. He hadn’t meant rugby.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Promo Blitz

 

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Review – Best Kept Secret – Amy Hatvany

best kept secretBest Kept Secret
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided By Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book (Goodreads)

Description:
Cadence didn’t sit down one night and decide that downing two bottles of wine was a brilliant idea.Her drinking snuck up on her – as a way to sleep, to help her relax after a long day, to relieve some of the stress of the painful divorce that’s left her struggling to make ends meet with her five-year old son, Charlie.

It wasn’t always like this. Just a few years ago, Cadence seemed to have it all—a successful husband, an adorable son, and a promising career as a freelance journalist. But with the demise of her marriage, her carefully constructed life begins to spiral out of control. Suddenly she is all alone trying to juggle the demands of work and motherhood.

Logically, Cadence knows that she is drinking too much, and every day begins with renewed promises to herself that she will stop. But within a few hours, driven by something she doesn’t understand, she is reaching for the bottle – even when it means not playing with her son because she is too tired, or dropping him off at preschool late, again. And even when one calamitous night it means leaving him alone to pick up more wine at the grocery store. It’s only when her ex-husband shows up at her door to take Charlie away that Cadence realizes her best kept secret has been discovered….

Review:
The opening line of the description says it all… Cadence didn’t sit down one night and decide that downing two bottles of wine was a brilliant idea. I won’t profess to know a lot about alcoholism, in fact, what I do know wouldn’t fill a cup – but that one line made me wonder about the progression towards becoming that alcoholic. Many of us just think, ahhh, one drink, just one glass…but what about when one becomes two, two becomes three, three becomes the bottle. As a society, it seems like drinking is encouraged, everywhere you go, there are ads for beer, for wine, for hard liquor. I can’t even imagine what an alcoholic grows through when they are out in town and confronted with these images…and yet, it isn’t talked about. Alocholism seems to be one of those taboo topics – yes, it might be mentioned in fiction, but normally only in passing, or as a tool for the “evil” person to use…I can’t (off the top of my head) think of a fiction novel that addresses it head on like Best Kept Secret did.

There is no doubt that BKS is a roller-coaster ride of emotions – at times, I felt like I wanted to drink with Cadence or felt her struggle as her body craved the alcohol that she had become addicted to. I was also thankful of the fact that there wasn’t the expected happy ending (in fact, I was dreading that everything was going to be tied up in a pretty little bow – but having read other books by Amy – I know I should have had more faith in her). There isn’t much more I can say without going into spoiler territory – just read it…think about it…hopefully you won’t be disappointed. 4.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Making It Last – Ruthie Knox

maing it lastMaking It Last
Author: Ruthie Knox
Series: #4 in the Camelot series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via NetGalley

Description:
A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment—just one—when life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone.

Only she won’t be alone for long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s got only a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

Review:
Anyone who knows me and my reading preferences knows that I typically struggle with/don’t enjoy romances where there is already an established couple – mostly because I like seeing that spark and often it is just missing in the story. But for me, Making it Last worked because I had seen the couple before – this novel is set 13 years after How To Misbehave (the first book in the series). And we get to meet/see Amber and Tony again as they have meandered their way through wedded bliss and unbliss (is that even a word?). It is truly a slice of life type novella – and you see them at their worst – the struggles over money in a downturned economy (which most of us have likely experienced); three kids with needs and too little time, working long hours struggling to make ends meet. To me, the relationship that lasts through that is the one you want to be in.

At the same time, I loved the hotel bar scene – it kind of reminded me of the movie Four Christmas’ with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn with the role-playing out in public. That was probably the best part of the entire story for me. There was something just romantic about it…

I think I have to say with this series tying up, that Ruthie Knox has now pretty much earned her place on my autobuy list – and I’ll be interested to see what she comes out with in the future. 4 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – For Everly – Raine Thomas

for everlyFor Everly
Author: Raine Thomas

Review Copy Provided By Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book (Goodreads)

Description:
Determined to overcome a dark and tragic past, college student Everly Wallace is only months away from earning her degree in physical therapy. She’s consumed with school, caring for her ailing grandfather, and figuring out how to pay the next bill. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but it just might be the one thing she needs.

Major League pitcher Cole Parker hasn’t fought for anything in his life. He went from a privileged upbringing to a multimillion dollar All-Star career. But when his pitching shoulder starts to give him trouble at only twenty-four years old, he faces the possibility of his injury becoming public knowledge and costing him everything.

In a desperate bid to save his career, Cole decides to hire someone to treat his injury, someone who will keep things off the record and out of the media. He finds the perfect solution in Everly. As mysterious as she is beautiful, she provides an enticing distraction from his pain. Soon, physical therapy is the last thing on his mind.

When an act of betrayal brings the truths they both fear to light, Cole will have to fight for the first time in his life…not just for his career, but for Everly’s love.

Review:
I’m going to be brutally honest up front, I tend to struggle with books that are labeled “New Adult,” because most of the time they are just ehhh – to down-right horrible…IMHO it is a reason for an author to take a book that would normally be marked as YA, add some sex and some angst to it and market it to a different sub-set of people (or maybe the same, since lots of YA readers also read adult and also read this New Adult)…but yeah, I struggle with it being defined as a genre (which is really isn’t…adult (in terms of reading level isn’t a genre); YA isn’t a genre and neither, in my mind is New Adult…) – but that is a story for another day.

I gave For Everly 2.5 stars overall, which to me means it was ok, not really good and definitely not great – I finished it. My main issue with the book was with Everly herself. I just struggled with her as a character – she seemed too perfect – major trauma in her life (don’t worry, I won’t say what it is), graduated high school early, worked her way through college and now at the tender age of 22/23 is finishing up her PhD in Physical Therapy (which by the way is a DPT or DPhysio, not a PhD)…right there, that was almost a stopping point for me…see, I am a PhD student – it might not be in physical therapy – but I had a hard time seeing someone her age in a program and that far advanced – most 22 year olds are just finishing college (assuming that they start at 18). And the programs themselves are typically 3-4 years on top of that, which would put her even being generous and assuming no break in education in the 24-27 year range (factoring in early graduation from college, and 3 years in a program) – I know this might be nit-picky, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. Almost as much as her agreeing to practice her therapies off the books and unlicensed…which was the main point behind the story…I guess in order for the story to work, this had to be done, but the ethical side of me is screaming no no no…heck, as a PhD student, I am not even allowed to mention that in a resume because people may be confused and think I have my degree already and yet she is practicing without a license)…

And then there is Cole…the baseball player – I mean, what’s not to love…and yes, I get that being injured and in the year your contract is supposed to expire would suck – but why would you risk your career on someone not qualified to treat you…asking the question – What if something had happened and he could no longer play because he used an unqualified therapist…and a very slight gripe – I really hate it when authors use REAL teams in their stories – because anyone that is a fan of said team (or even if they are not) can easily call BS…I would prefer for authors to make up their own teams – use a known location, but imaginary team please)

However, for my griping, the writing style wasn’t bad and the mystery was paletable – I kind of wondered the who done it and figured it out a chapter or so before the reveal – but the whole family situation/angst thing was a bit overdone for my liking (and yet another sign of the stereotypical New Adult storyline). I wish I had liked it more because I do think that the author has potential with her writing style – this book just didn’t do it for me…

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Book Review

 

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