RSS

Category Archives: Review

Audiobook Review – Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: #1 in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Narrator: Nicola Barber
Run Time: 9hrs, 26min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Review:
I have to admit that the premise of Stalking Jack the Ripper intrigued me, but I was a bit disappointed with how it all played out. I liked the idea of a female practicing forensic medicine in this time era – since it was so not done. But Audrey Rose as a character was horribly annoying and for someone as skilled as she was supposed to be in understanding people and crimes, also naĂŻve. Now I will say that Thomas Creswell will definitely described as being eye (and most definitely ear candy).

The historical aspect of the story was fun and I liked how the author took portions of the real history about Jack the Ripper and his victim’s to make the story more believable. There was a pretty substantial author’s note at the end went into some more detail about why she opted to cover the parts that she did. But when considering both the character development and the historical aspects of the story – the historical definitely won out over the actual characters in the story. I did like how the author tied the story up at the end, so there were no open ends…but don’t worry – I won’t tell you guys what happened because that would ruin all the fun 🙂

Nicola Barber isn’t a new narrator to me (although I’m totally blanking on what else I’ve listened to her narrate right now) and I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper more than I may have if I had read it. I found that she had a solid range of voices that fit all the different characters from the naĂŻve young girl, to the hot forensic science student to Audrey Rose’s cantankerous old father. I never had any moments where I had to stop and think about what character was speaking at a given time. In fact, I found myself hoping for some traffic on my commute home (yeah, I should probably burn in hell for that), so I could listen to a bit more. While I wanted to slap Audrey Rose upside the head, at least the narration was solid.

I’m kind of conflicted if I will read (or most likely listen) to the second book when it comes out – I kind of what to and yet, if Audrey Rose is as naĂŻve in the next one, I just don’t know…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Audiobook Review, Review, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – The Negotiator – Avery Flynn

The Negotiator
Author: Avery Flynn
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
Wanted: Personal Buffer

Often snarly, workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or general squeamishness need not apply. Salary negotiable. Confidentiality required.

Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…

This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?

Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…

Review:
I don’t know if I was in a bit of a reading funk, or if real-life was just kind of overwhelmed – but this wasn’t my favorite Avery Flynn (and it kills me to say that because she is an auto-buy author for me). Don’t get me wrong – it was cute definitely a cute romantic comedy with her trademark snarky humor and hot in places – but I just wasn’t as sucked into it as I have been with previous books. Other books by hers, I’ve based closed myself off to read it – but when it came time to read this one – I just didn’t have the time to do that (which might have contributed to my lack of concentration when it came to reading).

I will admit that I found Clover to be one of the more unique characters that I have read recently which did contribute to my enjoyment level – she was kind of quirky in a relatable way. But Sawyer just seemed very much in the hard-working young billionaire character mold (which if I’m honest, is not a character that I typically find myself attracted too). So my enjoyment of the two main characters kind of played off each other. The actual “relationship” negotiation was one of my favorite parts of the story (as well as the scene in the diner early on after Clover’s first event as Sawyer’s Personal Buffer (now, if I could be the buffer for him, sign me up please 🙂 )

The Negotiator was a solid 3.5 stars for me – and I do recommend it to anyone who likes snarky romantic comedies (and I have no doubt that I’ll maybe re-read it in the future, to see if maybe this is a mood based rating that could change).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , ,

Review – Angel of Death Row – Andrea D. Lyon

Angel of Death Row
Author: Andrea D. Lyon
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded. Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a chance at redemption.

Now, for the first time, Lyon shares her story, from her early work as a Legal Aid attorney to her founding of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Full of courtroom drama, tragedy, and redemption, Angel of Death Row is a remarkable inside look at what drives Lyon to defend those who seem indefensible—and to win.

There was Annette who was suspected of murdering her own daughter. There was Patrick, the convicted murderer who thirsted for knowledge and shared his love of books with Lyon when she visited him in jail. There was Lonnie, whose mental illness made him nearly impossible to save until the daughter who remembered his better self spoke on his behalf. There was Deirdre, who shared Lyon’s cautious optimism that her wrongful conviction would finally be overturned, allowing her to see her grandchildren born while she was in prison. And there was Madison Hobley, the man whose name made international headlines when he was wrongfully charged with the murder of his family and sentenced to death.

These clients trusted Lyon with their stories—and their lives. Driven by an overwhelming sense of justice, fairness, and morality, she fought for them in the courtroom and in the raucous streets, staying by their sides as they struggled through real tragedy and triumphed in startling ways. Angel of Death Row is the compelling memoir of Lyon’s unusual journey and groundbreaking career.

Review:
Its always interesting to see where my Goodreads challenge reading takes me, since I know that the Angel of Death Row is likely not a book I would have picked up, if I wasn’t looking for a non-fiction book with a specific theme. These theme (in homage to the pioneering women in Hidden Figures), a non-fiction book about a women who was first to do something significant (which Ms Lyon most definitely did). I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical going in – I mean, when I think about Death Penalty cases – visions of people like Jodi Arias come to mind or the scene from The Green Mile (where they are using the electric chair) and my thought pattern was how can she defend people who seem indefensible (yes, I know that everyone deserves the best defense they can afford by our constitution), but its still hard for me…but that wasn’t what I got.

As soon as I started reading Angel of Death Row, I felt drawn to Ms Lyon – it was interesting seeing how when she made up her mind on her career pathway that nothing derailed her and seeing how she knowingly made choices that would set her career on the trajectory to become the first female to try a death penalty case in the US. Added to that, her experience as the only female on Task Force Homicide which was part of the Public Defender’s Office (which by the way, why do we never see anything more than the slovenly public defender on TV who is quickly replaced by a high-powered shark of a lawyer, who swoops in to save the day) – made her career progression all the more intriguing – I haven’t read a lot of biographies about individuals in the legal field (lawyers or judges) – so I can’t say what I expected a typical career to look like, but this isn’t what I expect (yeah, I know, totally vague there)…

It’s hard to go into the different cases that were mentioned in Andrea’s book – several of them are mentioned in the books description – but in so much more color/detail – at times, I felt like I was sitting in a kitchen with Ms Lyon while she interviewed a witness or trudging the streets with her while she tried to find that one person who would be able to exonerate her client. But her career wasn’t all roses, she had her ups and downs and in the writing of her book, she didn’t shy away from talking about those issues – including the impact that such a career has on a personal life.

I believe that Angel of Death Row should be a required reading book for law students, especially those who are maybe considering defending or prosecuting individuals charged with homicide. There is something that everyone could learn from reading it. I’ll be interested to see what derivative recommendations I get based on my reading of the Angel of Death Row.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review – The Marriage Games – C.D. Reiss

The Marriage Games
Author: C.D. Reiss
Series: #1 in the The Games Duet
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Elena Wolfe, Sebastian York
Run Time: 9hrs, 15min
Audiobook Producer: Flip City Media Inc.
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
THIRTY DAYS
That’s all Adam Steinbeck demands of his wife.
Thirty days in a remote cottage, doing everything he demands. After that, he’ll sign her divorce papers and give her complete ownership of their company.
THIRTY DAYS
That’s how long he has to rediscover the man he once was. The Dominant Master he hid when he fell in love with her five years ago.
THIRTY DAYS
She wants the business they built badly enough to go to the cottage for a month. Cut off ties to the world and do his bidding. She can submit to him with her body, but her heart will never yield.
She thinks this is his pathetic attempt to repair their marriage.
She’s wrong.

Review:
The Marriage Games is the second of the two books in my Armchair Audies listens that I had previously read prior to the nominees being announced. I discovered C.D. Reiss last year when her Coda series was nominated for another Audie – so I was excited to see her with another nomination this year. But I will its hard to describe the initial disappointment I felt when I read The Marriage Games earlier in the year – reading it, I just didn’t feel the emotion that I felt like I should have – I just felt really detached from the whole storyline – which is a complete opposite experience to how I felt when I listened to it more recently.

Anyways, since I had already read The Marriage Games, I was able to invest myself more fully into my enjoyment of the audiobook – since I knew what was going to happen (although as normal, I did discover that there were things I had missed in my initial reading of it – which considering how long it took me to read it initially, is surprising). Since I was able to focus more on the audio than the story – let me tell you how much I LOVED the narration by Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York! I know like knees going weak, making me want to drool in sexiness type narration! (and I don’t say that often).

I love how audiobooks with dual narrators has developed over time – I have listened to all different combinations – predominantly one narrator with highlights of an other, narrators that alternate POV’s, but still narrate opposite gender if they appear in that specific POV and then there is a true duet, like the Marriage Games, where Elena and Sebastian were fully integrated so that Elena did all the female narration and Sebastian all the male – it was like listening to an actual conversation where there were multiple men and women speaking in a holistic way. I actually enjoyed my listen of the Marriage Games so much, that I went ahead and bought the second book in the duet (Separation Games) to listen to as soon as I was done – which I hadn’t felt inclined to do after I finished reading it a few months previously.

The Marriage Games was definitely a case where 2 brilliant narrators took a slightly less than impressive book (at least to me) and elevated it to knee-weakening level. While my rating for the Marriage Games stayed at 3.5 stars, the audiobook narration was easily 4.5 stars. Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York is a narrator duet that I would love to see more of.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – Delectable – Mila West

Delectable
Author: Mila West
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Catherine Rousseau is an ambitious senator with a painful past. She sacrifices herself for her country and knows how to get what she wants. When she sets her sights on the Oval Office and amending the Constitution, she can’t afford to be distracted. Especially not by Harrison Parker, the sexy and brooding senator newly appointed to Congress.

But when they’re thrown together and their goals collide, will they find themselves chasing justice . . . and each other?

Review:
It isn’t often that I find a romance that features not one but two politicians and even less rare that they are on the same political party as each other…because that opposing party definitely would add tension to the story. So when I came across Delectable (via Kindle Unlimited), I was intrigued and so borrowed it to read. And then it languished on my kindle for close to a month (yeah, i’m one of those KU readers).

anyways, my biggest desire when I finished reading Delectable (and it only took me like an hour) was that it was slightly longer (it came in at just over 100pgs). I believe it had so much more potential with a more developed storyline – but instead I felt like portions of it were rushed and just felt like it was missing something. The end was satisfying and for me, the epilogue added that needed closure to Catherine and Harrison’s story.

While I enjoyed reading Delectable, and felt that Ms West had an engaging writing style, I ultimately needed a bit more to the story to give it a higher rating. I do hope to read more by her in the future.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , ,

Audiobook Review – Winter – Marissa Meyer


Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: #4 in the Lunar Chronicles
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Rebecca Solar
Run Time: 23hrs and 30min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Review:
Winter is one of the two books out of the audiobooks on my Armchair Audies list that I had previously read – going back and looking at the notes I left to myself on Goodreads last year – my summary of the book could be summed up as follows – “thank god its over, it felt like it lasted forever.” It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the series because I did – its just that I felt this last book really dragged on because there were so many loose ends that needed to be tied up – almost like it needed a 5th book that was more of pulling all the bits and pieces together, while letting the 4th book be more about Winter – because honestly, I felt like her story was subsumed by what was going on with Cinder and Cress as they tried to free Lunar and its people from Levana.

This final installation in the series was full of action and adventure – but at the same time – it just got tiring both reading and listening to what was going on – there was no break, no recovery for the main characters. And yet, they managed to pull out success after success. Yes, I know that its fiction and suspension of disbelief is a thing but I was physically tried from listening to it – which is something that doesn’t often happen with audiobooks.

Rebecca Solar is a new audiobook narrator to me but I felt like she captured the young adult voice of the characters in Winter well. Her narration of Winter’s sweet innocent voice was about as I pictured it while reading the book. She managed to bubbly personality of Iko, as well as the more down-to-earth narration of Cress and Scarlet’s French accent. On the male aspect of the narration – her voices were solid – nothing that blew me away, but I didn’t hate them either. For a 23 hour audiobook, it was a pleasant listening experience, even if, as mentioned above, I was physically tired from listening when it was finally done. I’m sad to see this series end and yet – at the same time, I was happy to see it end (if that makes any sense…).

While my rating of the book stayed at 3 stars, I rated Solar’s narration as 4 solid stars – I have to wonder how my impression of the book would have changed, if I had only listened to it and not read it previously?

 

Tags: ,

Review – The Riddle of the Labyrinth – Margalit Fox

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
Author: Margalit Fox
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery. Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox’s riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean–the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen–to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the decipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.

Review:
Over the last few years, I’ve been turning more and more to non-fiction books by choice when I find myself looking for new stuff to read. Its hard to describe why because growing up, I always avoided it like a bad smell (for lack of a better term), but I’ve discovered that non-fiction isn’t all that bad – especially, if its about a topic that catches my eye. This is probably a book I never would have discovered on my own, if it hadn’t been picked as a group read for a reading challenge that I frequently participate in – the Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads (the specific reading category was “The Unexplained”).

For me, part of the reason I chose this over the 2 fiction options, was the idea of seeing how a mystery that existed for over half a century was solved. I remember going to see Stargate (the original with Richard Dean Anderson) when I was in high school – and seeing the process by which Daniel Jackson (the scientist) broke the code of the Stargate was probably one of the few parts of the movie that I enjoyed (not normally a huge sci-fi fan) – and since Riddle of the Labyrinth had a similar basis – I figured it was going to be an enjoyable read but I wasn’t prepared for how engaged I was going to be. I found myself attempting to sneak away and actually take a lunch break at work, so that I could read “just a little bit more.”

Riddle of the Labyrinth wasn’t a hard read – Fox has an engaging style of writing that was very personable for me – I felt like I was sitting with Alice Kobar in her small home as she worked on breaking the code. Although I will admit, reading about how she was treated by colleagues and others associated with breaking the code kind of irked me. I know that it was likely being that she was a product of the times – where women weren’t taken as seriously – but so many times, I just wanted to yell at the men to listen to her and treat her like the academic that she was (instead of like a secretary like she so often was treated as). Ultimately, the secret of the tablets wasn’t that profound – at the beginning of the book there was a hypothesis of what the tablets might potentially contain – seeing how that in part formed a basis for the research – made the anticipation of the mystery resolution all the more apparent.

I’m pretty sure that I will seek out Fox’s other book -her Goodreads page lists a book about a small town in Israel where the primary language is a form of sign language.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,