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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Audiobook Review – The Duke’s Holiday – Maggie Fenton

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the duke's holidayThe Duke’s Holiday
Author: Maggie Fenton
Series: #1 in the Regency Romp series
Rating:

Narrator: Sue Pitkin
Run Time: 15hrs 11 minutes
Audiobook Producer: Brilliance Audio
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
The cold, precise Duke of Montford demands things his way: neatly ordered, in place, and adhering closely to the rules. So he is furious when he learns that the tenant of his ducal estate has been dead for a year, and a stranger has been running the Honeywell business–which, by contract, is now Montford’s. When he arrives in Yorkshire to investigate, he discovers that the estate is being run by an unruly, tomboyish woman–and a bluestocking at that!
Fiery redhead Astrid Honeywell is independent and educated. She’s been handling the Honeywell family business for years. And she’s not about to relinquish it to anyone–not even Montford–because of some archaic contract.
Montford and Astrid have an instant hatred for one another…and an undeniable, unspeakable attraction. They must resist this improper desire–after all, Montford has a fiancée in London. But when Astrid’s life is placed in terrible danger, Montford finds he may be willing to risk everything to save her.

Review:
It’s hard to describe my overall reaction to The Duke’s Holiday, with the exception of, it was totally not what I expected. I mean, I went into the audio of this book, expecting a very traditional historical romance, staid characters with a fairly predictable storyline (because unfortunately after reading/listening to so much historical romance over the years, it all starts to blend together). What I got was a historical romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud for a good portion of the book and by laughing out loud, I mean like serious, belly clutching laughter.

Not only was The Duke’s Holiday full of antics that reminded me of something you would see on a comedy show, but it departed from the norms of the time period with Astrid, the heroine, running her families brewery, under the guise of her father, who was unable. Enter, the Duke of Montford (because he was NEVER called by his real name of Cyril…not that I blame him), who owned the estate (although that was up for debate if you asked any of the Honeywell’s) and who liked things very proper – in fact, at times, I wondered if he maybe had a touch of obsessive-compulsive behavior with his need to control things. It was fun listening to the Duke shed his properness (is that a real world) as he became more relaxed and free at the Honeywell’s. I’ll admit the scene where the author went into great detail about the foot race that is held every year and involves drinking a pint of Honeywell Brew approximately ever 1/4 mile, made me nearly run the car of the road, i was laughing so hard. That is totally something I would sign up to do in my insanity and the following scenes where the Duke is singing druken limericks was just as entertaining. The author had the raunchy nature of drunken shenanigans pegged perfectly. As another reviewer on Goodreads stated, both Astrid and the Duke were perfectly unperfect (or was is unperfectly perfect)…either way, that statement sums up my thoughts almost perfectly on the book.

Once again in my Audie’s listening I came across a new to me narrator (which seems to have been the theme for this year). As with others, I can safely say that I will be adding more narration by Sue Pitkin to my listening future. Its honestly hard to pinpoint exactly what i liked about her narration though – it wasn’t one specific thing (you know, somehow its how the narrator differentiates characters or how they handle pacing of the story etc)…for me, it was just a solid combination of everything that made The Duke’s Holiday an all-around solid romance audiobook. As mentioned above, one of my favorite scenes, due in part to the narration, was the druken duke – in fact, i remember tweeting the narrator after I had gotten done listening to that chapter because I had to let her know how much I had enjoyed it. While I know that voices of the opposite gender are at times a struggle for narrators, I thought Sue Pitkin handled not only Monford’s narration perfectly, but also that of his companions (one a well described fop and the other a walking train-wreck). I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to them because I have a feeling the other two books in the series will be about them.

A solid 4 stars for both the book itself and the narration – this is a book that probably never would have caught my eye if not nominated, but will be an author that I watch out for in the future. Warning to all listeners, driving while listening to this book may result in distracted driving from laughing so hard you card (just so you have been warned…)

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – Inside the O’Briens – Lisa Genova

inside the o'briensInside the O’Briens
Author: Lisa Genova
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Review:
I’ll admit that I felt like I was one of the last people in america to read Genova’s book, Still Alice – in fact, the movie had been released and Julianne Moore had already been awarded the Oscar before I even picked up the book but it just so happened that not long after I finished reading it, when I was looking at Edelweiss one day (a place that is like crack for book bloggers), I saw that review copies of her newest book, Inside the O’Brien’s were available and I totally clicked to request it (and then promptly lost the book on the virtual straggering TBD).

Anyways, I digress…my knowledge about Huntington’s Chorea is extremely limited to basically what I learnt from watching House, when one of the doctor’s who worked for him (aka Thirteen) had a mother with Huntington’s and she had to make the decision on whether she wanted to go through the genetic tests to find out if she would get it. Because as I learnt both there and while reading Inside the O’Brien’s, if you have the gene, you will get the disease, its not a case of, you have the gene, you might get it, but rather, there is a 100% likelihood that you will develop Huntington’s and that currently there is no treatment and no cure for the disease, so a death sentence. Knowing that was the ultimate outcome in Joe’s story, I was curious to see how Genova would handle it, walking a fine line between telling a story, sucking people in and not wanting to be too dramatic (for lack of a better word). so I appreciated how she approached it – essentially alternating the story from Joe’s POV and that of his youngest daughter, Katie – who is struggling to make the decision about having the testing. I split the age between Joe and Katie, so this is a book that really struck home for me, that these are decisions that many people my age, may have to face in upcoming years, especially as genetic testing becomes more and more common and ethical questions are raised?

I know that as I was reading Inside the O’Brien’s, I posted a question on my facebook page – essentially theoretically asking – if you had to make a decision about taking a genetic test like the one for HC would you and the responses that came back were interesting. If the test comes back showing you have the genetic mutation, how do you life a life you know is going to end? How do you deal with it knowing that you may have passed the gene onto your children, if you have them? (or even grandchildren)

Its hard to call a read like Inside the O’Brien’s enjoyable for the simple reason of the topics that it discusses focuses on – i found it to be thought-provoking, and made me question for thoughts and feelings about genetic testing (although I honestly, still don’t have an answer on if I would do it or not)…it was very well written, not overly complicated/difficult but solid writing. I gave it 4 stars, but it is definately a book that has stuck with me since I read it a couple of months ago.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review (reblog) – Curing Doctor Vincent – Renea Mason

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curing doctor vincentAuthor: Renea Mason
Series: #1 in the Good Doctor Trilogy
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrators: Noah Michael Levine, Erin Deward
Run Time: 6hrs, 10 min
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Audiobook Provided by Author

This is a reblog of my review that originally appeared on October 29, 2015; with a couple of initial thoughts about her Audie nomination

Description:
One kinky doctor + one indecent proposal = one life-changing week in Paris

Elaine Watkins, Public Relations Advisor, is surprised when she receives a summons from the very attractive and enigmatic Dr. Xavier Vincent. She worships the talented physician and company icon responsible for developing the cure that saved her sister’s life and isn’t immune to his charm. Even though puzzled by his request, she is excited and eager to get started on his latest project.

But Dr. Vincent has other ideas. Instead of discussing cures, drugs and marketing strategies, he asks Elaine to join him in Paris to indulge his unique sexual appetites.

Torn between gratitude for saving her sister, her attraction for the powerful man and compromising her pre-conceived notions of sexuality, she must decide if it’s easier to feed his desires or walk away. Until she devises a plan of her own.

Review:
In light of Renea’s nomination for an Audie in the Erotica category, I’m reblogging my review as part of the Armchair Audies. I was so excited to see Curing Doctor Vincent make the list of nominees because it is by far one of the best erotic romances that I have listened to (and read) in the recent past. The storyline was well development, there wasn’t an overabundance of sex without story (also known as porn without plot) and I don’t think she could have picked two better narrators to represent Xavier and Elaine. This is my strongest contender to date for the winner in the erotica category.

I’d never heard of Renea (which is pronounced Renee) Mason until I got an email from her a few months ago about reviewing the audiobook for her erotic romance, Curing Doctor Vincent. But she managed to catch my attention from the get-go when she compared the narrators of her audiobook (Noah Michael Levine and Erin DeWard) to one of my favorite pairings, Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross (who narrated Karen Marie Monings Fever series). I mean, my initial reaction was like, no one is better than Phil and Natalie – i mean, they totally rock all their narrations. But boy was I wrong – I sat in the car listening pretty much slack-jawed and Noah and Erin rocked this audio and they both earned a place in my top 5 narrators/pairings.

But back to the story itself…if you were offered one week in Paris on a trip of sexual exploration, would you take it? I know that I would probably have to stop and think about it and would probably wimp out, but Elaine did none of those things. Curing Doctor Vincent was a roller-coaster ride of emotions, I know that I experienced pretty much the whole spectrum from anger to sadness; from excitement to deep and abiding love. There is something about Renea’s writing that just made me feel like I was in Paris with Xavier and Elaine, and experiencing all the sexual satisfaction that Elaine was feeling.

the story itself didn’t unfold the way I expected it to when I began. I’ll be honest – my initial thoughts when I read the description would be that Elaine’s experiences with Xavier and his sexual appetites would be the majority of the story. In fact, I was kind of shocked when there was actually more story than sex – haha. I know that probably sounds weird, but its true – there was a lot more to Curing Doctor Vincent than just the trip to Paris and lots of sex – I was actually expected that that would somehow be the cure that was alluded to in the title. But boy, was I wrong! The ending of the story was sweetly satisfying (although there was definitely a scream of agony that resonated when I finished my road trip with 30min remaining on the book – the torture of having to wait until the next day to finish it up…has to fall under cruel and unusual punishment).

I will say holy hotness on the writing of those sexual experiences – so often in erotic romance, those scenes just feel like insert Tab A into slot B, very mechanical or on the other end of the spectrum, overly flowerly purple prose, but Renea managed that fine balance between the two. I will say that I found myself fanning my face several times during my car ride as I was listening. I could probably gush about the audiobook all day, but I will say, my favorite thing about the narration was that it was a true alternating POV narration – where Noah read all the male parts and Erin all the female – so often in dual narration audiobooks (at least in my experience), it ends up being male reads one chapter, including any female dialogue and vice versa – so this was a pleasant surprise.

I gave Curing Doctor Vincent 4 stars and the audio narration 5 stars. I’d recommend this to people who like erotic romance with a solid storyline and satisfactory conclusion (with no cliff-hanger). Unfortunately, now I have to wait for the next book in the trilogy to come out (or at least the audio version)…hopefully that will be relatively soon…

 

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Audiobook Review – Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man – Mark Tufo

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fall of manLycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man
Author: Mark Tufo
Series: #2 in the Rise of the Werewolf series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Sean Runnette
Run Time: 11hrs and 23min
Audiobook Producer: Podium Publishing
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Producer

Description:
Mike is back. Devastated by his loss he strikes out on a doomed journey to wipe the earth of the Lycan scourge, with his faithful companion Oggie by his side. Bailey, a distant relative of Mike’s best friend BT, joins him but for different reasons. Azile struggles to reign him in, while a world already pushed to the edge begins its fall over the precipice. When all is lost, can anything ever be won? Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old

Review:
Every year when I listen to my chosen armchair audies nomination, there is at least one book that I discover, that not only is totally new to me but one that never would have crossed my path. But Fall of Man has so far (after listening to multiple books in several categories) that book for me in 2016. I’ll admit that while I like dystopia type stories, those that are based around a nuclear holocaust type scenario, typically don’t pique my interest, but this was intriguing with the mix of both werewolves and lycan, which in Rufo’s world are 2 separate/distinct beings (one good and one evil).

I was a bit concerned as I started to listen to the Fall of Man because it is the second book in a series. Especially when the description of the book ending with “Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old” – I had to wonder, what Mike gotten up to in the previous book? words like epic were used, so i expected something that was a roller-coaster of a ride and Tufo didn’t disappoint – while the narration of Fall of Man was 11hrs long, it definitely didn’t feel like it. There was very much a journey-ish feel to the story – as Mike traveled through a country that had been destroyed and was trying to recover. I think one of the more interesting scenes to me was when Mike used a rifle to shoot at invaders that were encroaching on territory – but as technology they were so far advanced from anything that was currently in existance, but Rufo had a way of writing the scene that it reminded me of when I was learning to shoot my rifle when preparing for deployment a few years ago – the adjustment of the sights, aiming firing, fixing again, etc.

Sean Runnette is another new to me narrator that i have encountered during this years Armchair Audies, although he has an extensive backlist (like 200+ audiobooks extensive) – although since the majority of them are in the sci-fi/fantasy realm so not necessarily a genre i listen a lot to. That being said, he had a very smooth reading style that just sucked you in. i felt like I was on the journey with Mike – seeing the world that had been destroyed through his eyes; fighting the lycans and making friends with the werewolves. The speed and pacing of Runnette’s narration was perfect – there are times where I want to speed up or slow down the audible app, but in this case, i didn’t.

The audiobook producer of Fall of Man – Podium Publishing – was also new to me, but i found that the audio was high quality and well produced. Looking at their website, they have lots of audios I would be interested in listening to from many new to me and familiar narrators (hello, R.C. Bray). So I know they will be on my list in the future.

For me Fall of Man was what I am terming my surprise listen of the 2016 Armchair Audies. An unknown author and narrator to me but both of whom I will pick up again in the future. Overall, I gave 3.5 stars for the story itself and 4 stars for narration.

 

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Review – A Passion to Pursue – Kelsey Browning

a passion to pursueA Passion to Pursue
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #2 in the Prophecy of Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
What if a pair of cowboy boots could foretell true love?

For years, Texas girl Greer Maddox waited to inherit her legacy as the next prophecy bootmaker. But that day never came. Now, instead of living out her rightful destiny, she’s lost, restlessly jumping from one art project to the next.

Until the day leather tooler Alejandro Villanueva strolls into town looking like ten kinds of sexy trouble.

After surviving his dark and dangerous past, all Alex wants is a quiet future. Alone, where his former life and mistakes can’t hurt anyone else. Even casually screwing around with a girl next door like Greer–whose dulce de leche voice and curvy body make him sweat–is a bad idea. But when she gets involved in his attempts to win the Prophecy Boot Company’s tooling contract, waving adios is the last thing on his mind.

Their attraction flares hot and undeniable. He wants her, and even knowing he shouldn’t have her can’t stop him from indulging in the temptation she offers. But when his past comes calling, he is forced to choose between hiding from his sins, or saving the woman he loves.

Review:
When a book has characters saying things like “I think I just orgasmed a rainbow” you know that you are going to have an enjoyable and likely laughing out loud reading experience. And that is exactly what I got when I read A Passion to Pursue by one of my auto-buy authors, Kelsey Browning. I know instinctively when picking up a book by her that i’ll likely laugh, maybe cry and just find myself in a happy place.

A Passion to Pursue takes the reader back to Prophecy, Texas where the legend of the prophecy boot is part of the town’s identity. This time we get to know Greer at a deeper level (we had previously met her as she is Cal’s sister – Cal being the hero of the first book in the series). And then there is Alex (although his real name is Alejandro – which just kind of rolls off the tongue in a sexy kind of way)…the leather carver who is being considered by Prophecy Boot Company to come on board and carve the designs in the boots that would lead people to their soul-mates (or is it sole-mates) 😉 Kelsey created a character that had so many mysteries – why did he need the money that the Prophecy Boot Company would pay them? why does he have tattoo’s on half his body? Every time I thought I was beginning to understand him as a character, something else new was revealed.

I think the thing that drew me most to the story, aside from the holy hotness factor of the Greer/Alex romance, was seeing the struggle that Greer went through trying to find her place in the world. She had always been around people who knew what they were destined to be – Delaney being the Prophecy boot designer, Alex and his leather carving – but she never truly found her place in the world. Seeing her struggle with that in A Passion to Pursue made me thing about struggles that many people go through as they try to find their place – heck, i’m older than Greer is and at times, I still feel like I am trying to find my place in the world.

If you are looking for a spicy read, with a sexy tattooed artist with some serious life choice undertones, A Passion to Pursue might be the read for you. Of course, I do recommend reading the first book in the series if you want to get up to date on the series first. I gave 4 stars to A Passion to Pursue and intrigued to see where Kelsey takes the series next…she definately introduced a few characters in A Passion to Pursue who I would be interested to know more about.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Trust – Ella Frank

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trustTrust
Author: Ella Frank
Series: #3 in the Temptation series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Shannon Gunn
Run Time: 11hrs 2min
Audiobook Producer: Audible Studios
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
TRUST – verb: to believe in the reliability, truth, or strength of another.
Up until now, Logan Mitchell has never had much of a reason to trust anyone.
Having struggled with a self-identity crisis throughout college, he’s spent the years since then creating a sophisticated facade to present to the world. It’s an armor he thought was impenetrable—until he met Tate Morrison. The gorgeous, headstrong bartender he’d sat across from only months ago has taken a tight hold of his heart, and Logan is discovering that it’s time to let go. It’s time to let someone inside.
After years of placing his dreams on hold for his family, Tate has finally chosen to do what makes him happy and follow his heart. The one thing he never would’ve imagined was that it would lead him into the arms of a man—and not just any man—the striking, never-takes-no-for-an-answer Logan Mitchell.Tate has fallen hard, and as his world is turned on its axis and they move forward together, he finds his life becoming more entwined with the confident, successful lawyer.
Even though neither man expected the other, it’s time to trust in their relationship — but not everything comes so easily…

Review:
Trust is the 3rd book in the Temptations series by Ella Frank – each book has covered a different phase of Logan and Tate’s relationship – from Try and the beginning of the relationship, to Take where they took control of their feelings toward each other and finally, Trust, the last stage in the relationship development. Knowing that they have to trust each other in order to more forward and have a future. For the most part I enjoyed Trust, although I will admit that there were a few times that I got bored with the storyline. It felt like certain parts of the story just drug along and I have to wonder why the trilogy couldn’t have been edited down to fit into 1 or 2 books. It just seemed to meander quite a bit and I even toyed with the idea of increasing the narration speed on the audible app to get it going (unfortunately, i discovered that that just doesn’t work for me). I think for me the biggest issue overall, while I found the books to be well-written was that I struggle with multiple books about the same characters, in the same story arc. I think it is the reason that I have steered clear of serial type books, even though the Temptations series was more like 3 full-length novels.

Maybe it was my preconceived notion, but when i saw the name of the narrator, Shannon, I immediately assumed female – because I honestly don’t remember the last time that I came across a guy with that name (maybe it college…). So I was totally expecting a female narrator when i started Trust, and was pleasantly surprised when a very melodic masculine voice came across my car speakers – totally woke me up for the commute into work. One of the problems with picking up a book to listen to after reading the previous two, is that I have voices in my head of what I think the characters sound like and while initially, I had a hard time reconciling Gunn’s narration of Tate with my imagination, but it grew on me. I found his narration of Logan to be well done and he had a wide repertoire of voices for the various secondary characters. I know for sure that I will be looking to see what else is available by him in the future.

Overall, I gave Trust 3 stars and Shannon Hale’s narration 4 stars – so 3.5 overall. Anyone who likes m/m romance and wants to branch out into audiobooks for that genre, this would be a series to maybe look at.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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