RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review – Love Waltzes In – Alana Albertson

love waltzes inLove Waltzes In
Author: Alana Albertson
Series: Dancing Under The Stars #1

Review Copy Provided By Author via Reading Addiction Book Tours (RABT)

Description:
To her millions of fans, ballroom champion Selena Marcil seems to have the perfect life: a great dance partner, a hit reality show, and celebrity perks. But underneath the glamorous ball gowns, Selena longs to find someone to share her life with when the stage lights dim.

Selena’s childhood sweetheart, Bret Lord, hung up his dance shoes after winning two national titles with her as a teenager, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He never saw his former fiancée again, except on television and on the cover of men’s magazines. Ten years and three deployments later, Bret gets an offer to audition for Selena’s dance show. When the Marine Corps gives him temporary leave to appear on the series, Bret can’t refuse the quick cash that will enable him to provide financially for the widow of his buddy, even if it does mean coming face to face with his past.

When Bret shows up at her national championship, Selena is shocked. For years she searched for him to no avail. After spending time with Bret, Selena realizes despite their past romance, they have no future. He has no desire to live under a spotlight and she has no desire to leave it. Can Selena and Bret recognize when Love Waltzes In?

Excerpt:
Staff Sergeant Bret Lord sat on the dirty floor of his tent, going through the day’s mail: the latest Men’s Fitness magazine from his sister, a care package from his mom. He ripped open the package—socks, lip balm, sunflower seeds, and a thin letter that contained an old magazine clipping.
Dear Bret,
I miss you very much. Benny asked me to send you this article. I really wish you would consider his offer. Please stay safe.
Love, Mom

He swallowed hard. A neon sticky pressed on the wrinkled page had a note scrawled on it from his former master dance coach.
Bret, m’boy,
We’ll make it worth your time.
Cheers, Benny.

Thumbing the edge of the article, Bret stared at the sixteen-year-old boy in the picture and could barely recognize himself. His shoulder length, wavy blond hair was slicked back, not shorn in a “high and tight” like his current haircut. No signs of the tattoos or muscles that currently defined his body. Golden skin stained from a bottle, not the harsh sun of Iraq. His arms were wrapped around a gorgeous, curvy young girl with long jet-black hair. The jade Latin gown she wore matched the color of her almond-shaped eyes.
Bret tossed the article aside and removed his nine-mil pistol from his holster to clean it.
Lance Corporal Hernandez walked by Bret and snatched the article off his cot. After staring at it, Hernandez’s face brightened.
“Hey, Staff Sergeant, this you?”
“No, it’s my clone who’s also named Bret Lord.” Bret slid the rail back on his weapon and began disassembling it.
“Staff Sergeant, you know Selena Marcil? Did you hit that?”
“Shut up, Hernandez, or the one getting hit will be you—with the butt stock of my rifle.” Bret grabbed the paper out of Hernandez’s hands, and smacked him on the side of the head. The kid didn’t flinch.
“Staff Sergeant Twinkle Toes. Hey—can you hook me up with Selena? I’ll be her boy toy. I love her. Man, she’s smoking. Has the nicest ass. Not like all those skinny, Russian chicks on that show.” He nodded to himself with an eyebrow dancing. “Selena’s on my list. She’s Latina, too. We’d be perfect together. What was she doing with a gringo like you?”
“Hernandez, you’re way out of line.” Bret reassembled his pistol.
“My bad, Staff Sergeant.”
Bret grabbed the article, his pack, and his rifle. It was impossible to get some privacy in the tent. His only option was to sit outside in a sandstorm but even that sounded like a welcome retreat from his immature men. He walked about five hundred feet, then plopped down in the hot sand.
The red sky hung above him, thick from smoke from the nearby town. Bret struggled to catch a glimpse of the distant mountains. Sand seemed to pelt down from the heavens, blinding him and settling into every crevice in his body. He closed his eyes against the sting of the sand, and turned his thoughts to Selena. Was she the diva the tabloids made her out to be? Even after ten years, he could almost smell her buttery-coconut scent. A welcome change from the overflowing shitters, toxic diesel, and stench of his fellow Marines who hadn’t bathed in three weeks.

Review:
I’ll admit, Dancing with the Stars (the TV show) is a guilty pleasure of mine. I had probably watched it for the last 7 seasons, and even if I scratch my head at some of the “celebrities,” I still tune in every week…so when I saw the description of Love Waltzes In, I was sucked in. The only way, I could really describe it is Dancing with the Stars meets G.I. Joe (I kinda saw Bret as the Channing Tatum in Magic Mike/GI Joe – not sure if that is what the author was going for, but hey, it works for me 😉

The author states in her profile, that she is a recovering ballroom dancer and you could tell that she knew what she was writing about when it came to describing the dances, as well as the scenes where Bret and Selena were teaching their stars how to dance. That being said, having been in the military, I did have an issue with the whole Marines letting Bret leave to go and be on a dancing show…but hey, I can try to suspend disbelief right?

Unfortunately, while I liked the premise of the story, it featured one of my least favorite tropes in the romance genre (don’t worry, I’m not going to say what it is). I honestly think that the story could have done without it – more as a second chance type romance, than an angsty one that resulted. I also felt that the authors descriptions of the judges on the show were almost exactly like the 3 on the real-life show – albeit with different names – the crusty old judge, the flamboyant choreographer and then sultry woman…aka, Len, Bruno and Carrie Ann. but I didn’t let myself be too distracted by that.

While there were a few weaknesses in the story, I am intrigued enough that I want to read the second one when it is released and I’ll be checking out more work by the author in the future. I’d give the book 3.5 stars and would recommend it to people who like cute contemporaries that are a tad angsty.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – Everything Left Unsaid – Jessica Davidson

Everything Left Unsaid_Cover SI.inddEverything Left Unsaid
Author: Jessica Davidson

Book received via a traveling book program on Goodreads

Description:
“I wait for him, the cold seeping through my clothes, until it finally dawns on me that he’s not coming back. And I wonder why he chose her instead of me? Why he went looking for her when I was right there.”

Tai and Juliet have been best friends forever – since they met at kindy and decided to get married in first grade.

They understand each other in the way that only best friends can.

They love music, beach walks, energy drinks and, they are slowly discovering, each other.

As they dream of adventures beyond the HSC – a future free of homework, curfews and parents, a life together – their plans are suddenly and dramatically derailed.

For Tai is sick.

And not everything you wish for can come true.

Review:

This review is going to be completely RANT-TASTIC and filled with SPOILERS so if you liked the book, or don’t want to know what happens – look away now! (otherwise, you have been warned)

I really wanted to like this book, every since it started traveling through a group of my Goodreads friends/group members, they were saying how much they cried while reading, and how emotional it was. But almost immediately, the main character Juliet started driving me completely and utterly batshit. I get that most teenagers (or at least those in the ‘new adult’ genre) are self-obsessed, but she honestly took the cake.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – Deal With The Devil – Diana Duncan

deal with the devilDeal with the Devil
Author: Diana Duncan
Series: #1 in the Devilish Devlins series

Description:
Paradise for software designer Cynthia Wagner means uninterrupted solitude to invent a brilliant video game, and save her job. But renovations on her city apartment force her to seek refuge in a temporary rental in the ‘burbs.

The promised Paradise morphs into Purgatory when she meets her new neighbor, a deliciously tempting Irish rogue sporting a wicked grin and to-die-for body. Worse, the handsome bachelor has noisy, drooly, havoc-creating baggage on his hands for the summer… rambunctious five-year-old twin nephews, a baby niece, and the kids’ yappy dog. Rory Devlin is a dangerous distraction—and he’s hiding a naughty secret.

Jackhammers and contractors would have provided more peace and quiet.

Stuck in the Suburbs of the Damned with Mr. Uncle-Turned-Mom and his wild menagerie, Cynthia struggles to meet her deadline. But she struggles more with her undeniable attraction to her devlish-ous neighbor.

Could it be that what she’s mistaken for Hell is actually the Heaven she’s been searching for?

Review:
Sometimes the best or most entertaining books I find, are random ones that I pick up for one of my various reading challenges, this was one of them. I was looking for a book who had an author that shared a name with a character from a Shakespeare play, and I figured that Diana was a pretty easy name to find. And while searching amazon, came across Diana Duncan’s books. I’d never read anything by her, but I know I can for sure that it won’t be the last.

Deal with the Devil was a relatively quick read – I think it only took me 2 metro trips (about an two hours) to read. i had to laugh at some of the issues that Cynthia ran into during the course of the book – I think at some stage I probably would have said, obviously, I’m being told that I shouldn’t be doing this…it was like a calamity of errors 😉 But oh was it also spicy in a few places – and I really liked the fact that there was a bit of delay before Cynthia and Rory actually got together…

Then, there was Joy…aka, Crazy Stalker Bitch..oh where to start…lol! All I can say is that you need to read to truly understand her complete psycho-ness. Overall, I’d give Deal with the Devil 3.5 stars – and would recommend it to people who want a cute, smexy contemporary romance.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , ,

Review – Unscrupulous – Avery Aster

unscrupulousUnscrupulous
Author: Avery Aster
Series: #2 in The Manhattanites

Review Copy Provided By Author Via RABT

Description:
At thirty-three Warner Truman is one of the richest men on the planet, a spa mogul who buys and sells resorts at will. He holds powerful executive’s careers in his well-groomed hands. Nothing is beyond Warner’s reach…until he meets her.

Stunning, tantalizing, and perverse, Taddy Brill captivates Warner’s carnal desire like no woman he’s ever met. A self-made millionaire, Taddy is tougher than steel, more brilliant than diamonds and, at twenty-seven, she’s never depended on a man for anything…until she meets him.

The more Taddy plays with Warner’s affections, driving him to erotic heights, the more she is confronted by a dark past. But before she can love him, Taddy must meet her worst fears head-on or risk losing it all, including herself.

Review:
I’m really conflicted over this book – I through that the author is a very good writer, and you could feel the emotion that she puts into her writing. But at the same time, it felt like there was something missing. I really struggled to find anything about Taddy that was relatable – in fact, i found her to be rather abrasive. Maybe that was on purpose – a self-made woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated business – but there was just something unlikeable about her. In fact, of all the characters, I found her Mormon assistant to be the most real/entertaining. She kind of reminded me (naivete wise) of Andie in The Devil Wears Prada.

The story itself was cute and had potential – the whole pursuit of someone you want and the stopping nothing to get it (especially, if you are a millionaire…makes it easier). But it seemed like most of the book was about the pursuit and not about the actual romance between Taddy and Warner. Which possibly contributed to my confusion – I didn’t feel the romance, it was more like a series of quick hook-ups, with an ending that just felt wrong…

Overall, I gave Unscrupulous 3 stars, but I am intrigued on what the author may write in the future.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – Vaughn – Emma Lang

vaughnVaughn
Author: Emma Lang
Series: #4 in the Circle Eight series

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
A con man. A rancher’s daughter. A wildfire out of control.

Elizabeth Graham spends her days running the business side of the Circle Eight ranch. Her knack for numbers and organization lent themselves to her position in the family. She has just turned twenty-one and doubts she will find a man to spend her life with. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in love, after all, and when she meets a charlatan named Vaughn Montgomery, her opinion doesn’t waver. At first.

Vaughn Montgomery is down to the lint in his pocket and the handsome smile he uses as a weapon. His last con in New Orleans went wrong and he fled west. Now he finds himself trapped in the middle of nowhere Texas. And at the mercy of a hard-nosed woman who wears shapeless dresses and whose tongue can cut blocks of wood.

Unwilling to bend and unable to forgive, Elizabeth and Vaughn get caught up in a web of lies that stretches from Austin to Dallas. She finds herself falling for the man who can’t seem to tell the truth and he can’t get enough of a woman who can only speak truths. Together they have to save the Circle Eight and try to avoid falling in love.

Review:
I have to admit that the previous books in the series while decent reads, just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. But there was something about Elizabeth and Vaughn’s story that just sucked me in. Elizabeth was one of those characters in the series, who while was there, you didn’t really know a lot about her from the previous books – she kind of just blended in with the rest of the family – unlike Olivia (who featured in #2 in the series) who was a very unique character. Elizabeth reminded me much more of how I would have expected a woman in the time/place to act – to an extent….and then there was Vaughn. A bad boy trying to make good. While he was a bad boy, there was just something loveable him. The fact that he was willing to sacrifice the life he knew for Elizabeth told me a lot about him.

While the previous books in the series had primarily been set on the Graham farm in Texas, as well as Mexico, Vaughn introduced city of Houston to the locations. While I’ve never been to Houston, I have been to Dallas, and I felt like I was there in part. Ms Lang did a great job of developing the environment and the sense of place. I’m interested to see where she is going to go in the future with the remaining books in the series – in fact, I wish that the next book (which is going to be Nicholas’) was coming out sooner than next year…lol!

Overall, I gave Vaughn a solid 4 stars – it was a needed entry in the series and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – The Wisdom of Hair – Kim Boykin

the wisdom of hairThe Wisdom of Hair
Author: Kim Boykin

Review Copy Donated By Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Life can be beautiful, but it takes a little work…
“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”

In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.

As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately… forgiveness

Review:
I’ll admit that the quirky-ness of the cover is what drew me to this book when I saw it posted in my Goodreads group. And then reading the quote about the one thing in life you need is a good hairdresser (which I am of course paraphrasing) – I really wanted to read it. However, while I enjoyed it, I think I was a bit disappointed with how it played out.

I was really hoping for more interaction with customers, being the keeper of secrets and the dispenser of advice – like many of hair dressers I know, however, it turned out to be more of a coming of age type story with Zora finding herself and her place in the world. I will admit that as a character I found Zora very uninspiring, she just didn’t do anything for me – I thought for a 19 year old that she was rather naive, especially since it was portrayed that her life hadn’t been all that easy prior to the start of the book…

I’m not saying the book was bad, it just wasn’t quite what I expected – which is why I ultimately gave it 3 stars. But i am interested to see what the author writes in the future, because she will def. be an author to watch.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , ,

Audiobook Review – Rotters – Daniel Kraus

rottersRotters
Author: Daniel Kraus

Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Run Time: 16hrs and 23 min
Producer: Listening Library

Description:
Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It’s true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey’s life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey’s mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey’s father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey’s life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

Review:
If you had told me a month ago that I would listen to an audio book where grave-robbing was the main premise behind the story, I probably would have laughed in your face and said as if…now, I would say, why the heck had I never heard of the book Rotters before. Yes, Rotters…I mean, the connotation just in that word – the decaying of a body after death and what’s left – I mean, I knew that grave-robbing was historically a way that doctors got bodies to study/experiment on – but in a modern day setting, not so much (I do have to admit that I am kind of paranoid about being buried now)…

But not only is it a story of the horror of death and decay, it’s also a tale of the love between the father and a son – of bringing someone into the family job/line of work; of dealing with bullies in school and being able to move on from tragedy in life as a young person to be successful. It is a very powerful coming of age story. And one that I would never have discovered, if it happened been offered as one of the free audio books in the YA Sync literature program this year (for more information on that click HERE).

I will say that the narrator, Kirby Heyborne, is fast becoming a favorite of mine. This is the 4th book that I’ve listened to where he has been the narrator and by far one of the best. I sat in my car at one stage, with shivers running up and down my spine listening to him say Rotters, over and over again. It was freaky to hear (and according to him on twitter, freaky to narrate). I will have to say, as a caveat, that if you have a weak stomach, you might either want to read it (not listen) or just avoid overall, there are several rather graphic descriptions of body decomposition – it almost made me cringe (and that stuff normally doesn’t bother me, unless its vomit and then well, all bets are off).

I thought that Kirby nailed the voice of Joey – that awkward, out of place teenager, struggling to find her place in the world, and then comparing it to the voice of his father, Ken, you could see how the narrator had tried to do some similar inflections to make the speech patterns common (if that makes sense and I don’t even know if it was on purpose).

I’d give Rotters a solid 4 stars for both the writing and narration. I’ll be looking out for more books by the author in the future, as well as “stalking” Kirby Heyborne for more audio book narrations.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Book Review