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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial Day 2016

pylons

Brotherhood, Honor, Leadership, Sacrifice, Service, Loyalty, Duty, and Ut Prosim – 8 values, inscribed on 8 pylons of the War Memorial at Virginia Tech. Early on during New Cadet Week, all the freshmen are taken to the Pylons by their Cadre, and taught about the importance of the memorial. To this day, I remember listening to C/FSG Fensler telling us about the men who’s names were inscribed on them, men who gave their lives in service to their country.

Every memorial day, I try to take time to sit down and think about those men and women who have given their lives in service of our country. To many people they are just names, very rarely is there a face to a name. We see rows upon rows of headstones at cemeteries like Arlington, each one marking the burial place of someone’s loved one – fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. It wasn’t until i was a sophomore at Virginia Tech when I got to put a face to a name and I still remember that to this day. I remember the first time, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets found out that one of their own had been killed in Iraq, Jeff Kaylor. i hadn’t known Jeff, he’d graduated the year before I joined the Corps, but it was clear how much everyone loved and respected him.

Tim Price, also a member of the Class of 2001, had just returned to Virginia Tech not long before his death to participate in the Warfighter’s Panel, hosted by the Corps of Cadets. This was one of the first of its kind and provided alumni an opportunity to come back to their alma mater and talk about their experiences in the military. I still remember the day we were told that Tim had been killed, for me that was really the first time the consequences of War hit home for me. Since then, more names have been added to the Pylons, both people I knew and didn’t know – but they all had that one thing in common, service before self. Ut Prosim, that I may serve, the motto of Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets.

So this day, Memorial day 2016, take a few minutes and just think about what this day is about and honor those who have given their lives in service of others.

You can read more about the Virginia Tech Pylons here

pylon pictures

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2016 in General

 

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Armchair Audies…my category winners

Armchair Audies Alas, another season of Armchair Audies has come to an end (tear). Tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, members of the Audio Publishers Association, including many of the nominees, will gather at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, to find out who the this years winners are.

Over, the last 2 and a half months, I’ve had a great time (for the most part) listening to the nominees in my three chosen categories (Erotica, Paranormal and Romance). Between the 13 books that I listened to (either completely or partially), there were 8 new authors and 8 (or is it 9?) new narrators 😉 Overall, I listened to 10 books in their entirety and at least 2 hours of the other three books (and I’ll finishing up listening to at least 2 of them after the Audies are annouced).

Every year, when I write my initial blog post for my Audies categories, I try to predict what books I think will win, based off previous experience with the authors/narrators and general description of the books (no samples are listened to prior to starting my official listen). My initial predictions for winners in each category were:

Erotica:
Curing Doctor Vincent – Renea Mason, narrated by Erin DeWard and Noah Michael Levine

Paranormal:
Hounacier – Seth Skorkowsky, narrated by R.C. Bray

Romance:
The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy – Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor

My thoughts after finishing the majority of my books was that, if only the decision making process was as easy as I anticipated. honestly, even now, as I’m writing this post, I’m debating and considering what books I think should be my “picks” – I gave my initial picks for our own Armchair Audies organizer, the Literate Housewife herself, and i’m still thinking to myself, did I pick the right ones…

Erotica
when I did my initial predictions, I was solidly in the Curing Doctor Vincent camp for winner – I had actually listened to it prior to it being nominated for an Audie and gave it a well-deserved awesome review. And I was totally in that camp, until I got to experience Jo Raylan narrating C.D. Reiss Song of Submission audiobooks (she solo narrated books 1 through 3) and then was joined by Christian Fox for books 4 through 6. I loved her narration so much that I deviated from finishing up at least one other Armchair Audie book because I HAD to listen to book 7 in the series to see how everything turned out. (what! don’t hate on me too much, there was a doozy of a cliffhanger at the end of book 6). While her narration was nominated twice, my pick for winner in the Erotica category is Jo Raylon narrating C.D. Reiss’s Beg Tease Submit.

Paranormal
My initial pick for winner in this category was R.C. Bray narrating Seth Skorkowsky’s Hounacier – the first book in the series (Damoren) had been nominated last year and I was excited to see Hounacier on the nominee list. And its hard for me to say that ultimately, while I enjoyed Hounacier, it isn’t getting my pick for the simple reason that while I enjoyed Bray’s narration (and I had all the other books narrated by him), I found my mind wandering with this one – I wasn’t an intrigued by the Voodoo storyline in this one, as I was the story in Damoren. Ultimately, for me, this pick came down to 2 books – The Dead House, by Dawn Kurtagich, narrated by Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson (although this was one of the 3 books that I only partially listened to) and Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man by Mark Tufo, narrated by Sean Runnette. Out of these two, i only fully listened to one of the books (if only I had about 10 more hours to finish listening to The Dead House) and because of that, Runnette’s narration of Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man is getting my pick for audiobook performance in the Paranormal category.

Romance
For my third and final category, I finally got to go back to my first love, romance novels, after a few iffy years of nominations that didn’t fall into the traditionally accepted romance genre (don’t worry, I won’t soap box too much!). I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see that all 5 books had a historical flair (which surprises me since contemporary romance seems to be the current market dominator). As with my other 2 categories, I had a great time listening to the romance nominees (with the exception of 1, which is queued up next on my ipod). Anyways, back to the nominees, anyone who knows me, knows that i’m one of the few people in the romance audiobook world who isn’t a die hard fan of Rosalyn Landor (a lot of it has to do with listening to books i’d already read and having some cognitive dissonance between her narration and how I imagined the voices to sound). But I also knew that she is an established entity in the narration world which was why I picked her as my potential winner for the romance category. that being said, it was a close call (are you starting to notice a pattern) between her narration of Julia Quinn’s The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy and Sue Pitkin’s narration of Maggie Fenton’s, the Duke’s Holiday. Rosalyn Landor had a solid narration that suited the partial serious narture of Quinn’s romance, but Sue Pitkin had made me laugh so hard in a few places that I had to pull over the car and her interpretation of the drunken footrace won me over. So for romance, my nominee is Sue Pitkin’s narration of The Duke’s Holiday by Maggie Fenton.

So there you have it – my predictions for the winner’s in my 3 armchair audies categories…now to wait until tomorrow night and see how I did!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Armchair Audies, Listening Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Seven Years – Dannika Dark

Paranormal nominee banner

seven yearsSeven Years
Author: Dannika Dark
Series: #1 in the Seven series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Nicole Poole
Run Time: 11hrs and 24min
Audiobook Producer: Tantor Media
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Tantor Media

!Warning Spoilers!

Description:
Seven years ago, my world ended.
Seven years later, my new life began.

It’s been seven years since Lexi Knight lost her brother in a tragic accident. On the anniversary of his death, her brother’s best friend shows up unexpectedly – a man she hasn’t seen since the funeral. He is no longer the boy Lexi once knew, but a dangerous-looking man with tattoos and dark secrets. He broke her trust and abandoned her family, yet what he reveals makes it impossible to stay angry. Lexi has been secretly infatuated with Austin since childhood, so finding out he’s a Shifter just makes him sexier. Dammit.

Austin Cole has returned to the city where he grew up, and just in time. He’s lived a hard life these past seven years, and the shadows of his past are threatening to destroy Lexi’s family. It’s time that she learned the truth about her brother, but there is a shocking twist that Austin never saw coming. Now he must protect her family when her mother and sister wind up in mortal danger. Will Lexi learn to accept the truth about who he is, and can Austin salvage a relationship from the ruins of their past?

Destiny will find you.

Review:
Out of all the books in the paranormal category for the Armchair Audies, this is the one that had me worried the most about the listening – which is kind of funny, since this kind of paranormal romance is normally right up my alley – but I had previously tried to read the book last year and ended up putting it aside around 50%. Most of my concerns about the book had to do with the world building (or lack there of) and where the story was going. However, earlier this year, the audiobook started to be mentioned more and more in several of the Audiobook groups on Goodreads and people seemed to really like the narration. So when it was nominated for an audie, i figured that i would give it another chance, since I know that often not so good books can be made more enjoyable with the right narrator. Unfortunately for me, while Nicole Poole made the book slightly more enjoyable, it was a struggle for me to finish listening.

For me, my biggest issue with this listen was (as with my previous attempt) the world building. Lexi was just a normal girl (or so she thought) and then all of a sudden, she discovers their are shifters in the world and not only that, that she is one. And she just takes it all in stride…i mean, i don’t know about you, but if i found out that I was a shifter, I would probably freak the shit out. From there, I just had trouble with any suspension of disbelief – i mean, i know that is required when reading books with paranormal elements, but yeah, I just didn’t understand the world that the author had created and that for me made the book a struggle. Honestly, I do think that the story in general had potential, if the world building had been stronger/more developed. But with the number of people that enjoyed this book, then maybe its just me.

I feel kind of bad for Nicole Poole, because to me no matter what she did, I felt that she was working with a substandard book and I had a hard time judging her fairly because of my lack of enjoyment for the storyline. That being said, I think she has a lot of strengths as a narrator – she had a diverse range of voices for the different characters. Her pacing seemed to be spot on (but that being said, i did consider speeding it up in a few places to just get the book moving). I even didn’t really have an issue with her male narrations, which for me, is often where I have issues – male narrators sometimes struggle with female voices and vice versa. But her narration of Austin was solid – it didn’t seem to be too wishy-washy (for lack of a better word) with solid tenor intonation throughout. She also did a good job with the narration of Lexi’s little sister, which is also something that I have found narrators struggle with, the little kid which out it being too high-pitched and babyish. The audiobook production by Tantor Media was the same high quality that I’ve come to expect from them, based on my previous experiences.

Overall, while Nicole Poole’s narration was solid and I gave it a solid 3.5 stars, unfortunately, it couldn’t counter-act a substandard story, which I only gave 2.5 stars. While others enjoyed Seven Years and the subsequent books in the series, it just didn’t work for me. But hey, that is what makes reading (and listening awesome), not everything works for everyone, which is why its great that there are so many options out there.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – Doing it Over – Catherine Bybee

doing it overDoing it Over
Author: Catherine Bybee
Series: #1 in the Most Likely To series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Voted Most Likely to Succeed, Melanie Bartlett ended up anything but. The down-on-her-luck single mom wants a complete do-over—is that too much to ask? With her family long gone from River Bend, strong, independent Mel is as surprised as anyone to end up in the quaint small town she once called home. But with her friends, Jo and Zoe, by her side, and a comfortable room at Miss Gina’s quirky bed-and-breakfast, she just might have turned the corner on a new life.

Wyatt Gibson never liked the big city. River Bend suits the ruggedly handsome builder just fine. Wyatt knows he’s home, even if that means being charmed by the appearance of Melanie and her spunky, adorable daughter. Is Wyatt’s calm devotion—even amid a coming storm—enough to convince Mel she may have found a home to call her own, a family that never leaves, and a true love to last a lifetime?

Review:
I got to say, the idea of students being “most likely to” anything is a tradition that i don’t a) fully understand and b) and find that they might be kind of a form of reverse psychology – you tell someone they are the most likely to go jail and they use that to clean up their act; or most likely to succeed but they end up failing at that…which is where Doing It Over takes you – Melanie had been voted most likely to succeed in high school, but then a family upheaval changed the course of her life and she found herself down on her luck, scraping for every penny, driving a car thats held together by the paint on the exterior…but you know what they say, you can always go home again (or is it, you can never go home again…either way)…her home and her high school friends are where she headed when she needs to start over.

I have to say that compared to other Catherine Bybee books, this one didn’t suck me in as quickly (I mean, I devoured her Weekday Brides series), whereas with Doing it Over, I took me time with the reading. Not saying that Doing It Over was a bad book, it wasn’t, it was just that it was different to other books by her – to me it had a bit more of a women’s lit feel, in conjunction with thee romance between Melanie and Wyatt – compared to the straight romance of her other books. But that being said, seeing Mel with her friends was one of my favorite parts of the book and i really hope that they get their HEA’s in the next books in the series. There was an interesting mystery element to Doing It Over – I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite sure if it was needed and kind of saw where it was going on pretty early in the story arc.

As with her previous books, I think one of the strengths of Ms Bybee’s writing is her character development, especially her secondary characters. She has a way of writing very colorful characters who you can’t help but love – in this instance, I think Miss Gina is probably one of my favorites – she was the perfect mix of helpful small town matron and quirky bed and breakfast own (I think possibly more on the quirky site than anything else). Mel’s ex husband was a douchebag which I think the author nailed perfectly and the mystery guest…well…he definately gave me the chills at times. I also appreciated that Mel’s daughter was an integral part of the story and was a character in her own right, rather than just being an after-thought like many children in romance novels.

Overall, I gave Doing It Over 3.5 stars, but I am intrigued about where the author will take the series in later books. I’d recommend this for fans of romance with a bit of female friendship focus; also those who might like romance with a bit of mystery without going a full romantic suspense route.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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