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Happy 4th of July

4th of july

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in General

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – 29 June 2016

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Its been a while since i’ve participated in a Waiting on Wednesday – this year has been so busy that i’ve done a really bad job about tracking new releases…or I come across a book that sounds interesting and mean to do a post on it…before promptly forgetting…but since I had some downtime tonight, I figured I would take a quick look at a couple of the websites I use for tracking books to see if anything caught my eye.

don't tell me you're afraid
Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid – Giuseppe Catozzella and Anne Milano Appel
Release Date: August 2, 2016

Tagline: Based on a remarkable true story, an unforgettable Somali girl risks her life on the migrant journey to Europe to run in the Olympic Games

Why Waiting on Wednesday?
It’s funny – normally, I’m a total cover reader (meaning the vast majority of the books that I pick, I pick because of the cover) and yet there is nothing really eye catching about the cover of Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, in fact, its a very tame cover. But as I reading through the August list for Bookreporter, it was the tag line that caught my eye. After reading When the Moon is Low (Nadia Hashimi) a few months ago, I became interested in more immigrant/immigration fiction, especially books that are based around people escaping their war-torn country (like Afghanistan in When the Moon is Low). I’ll be intrigued to see how the fictional version of the true story comes to be and know that I will be asking my library to get me a copy when its released.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Review – The Girl from the Savoy – Hazel Gaynor

the girl from the savoyThe Girl from the Savoy
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

Review:
sometimes i have to wonder if my desires in book settings is like published somewhere…so funny(ish) story, maybe a month or so ago, I was talking some book-ish friends on facebook and mentioned that I would love to see more books that were set in the post-WW1 era, but pre-WW2 (so the 1920’s and 30’s). And then not long after, I got an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing Hazel Gaynor’s newest book, The Girl from the Savoy. I’d first read Gaynor when I picked up her “The Girl Who Came Home” when it was on sale one day (which told the story of a Titanic survivor, interspersed with a modern day story). And who doesn’t love this cover, like I have serious cover envy right now!

The first thing that sucked me into Gaynor’s story-telling, was how I felt like I was in London during the 1920’s. I felt like I was walking into the Savoy for the first time, seeing its opulence and having Dolly (or one of her friends) being my maid. Reading the vivid descriptions of the clothes and their trips to see Loretta May perform on stage. Dolly was just a character that you could fall in love with because she was so relateable – a girl who just wants to live her dreams, but one that also has a past that she is trying to reconcile with. It took me a few chapters to realize that while the majority of the book was set in the 1920’s, that there were a few portions that were set 1919 and more immediately post WW1 (yeah, I know, sometimes, I’m a bit slow on the uptake).

There was such a cast of characters included in The Girl from Savoy – Dolly and her fellow maids, several customers of the Savoy (there was one who really gave me the heebie-jeebies) so you could see the types of people who stayed at the Savoy, to Loretta and her brother, Percy and then there was Dolly’s long-lost love, who while he came back physically from the war, was never the same. His portion of the story was probably the most gut-wrenching off all the parts in the story (I know that it was supposed to be, but maybe its because I am in the military, that it hit home even closer)…

The Girl from the Savoy makes 2 books in a row by Gaynor that I have really enjoyed and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I’d recommend both the Girl from the Savoy (and the Girl Who Came home) to people who like historical fiction that has been extremely well-researched and just draws you in. A solid 4 stars for The Girl from Savoy and one step closer to Gaynor being added to my auto-buy list.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – The Angel Wore Fangs – Sandra Hill

the angel wore fangsThe Angel Wore Fangs
Author: Sandra Hill
Series: #7 in the Deadly Angels series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Once guilty of the deadly sin of gluttony, thousand-year-old Viking vampire angel Cnut Sigurdsson is now a lean, mean, vampire-devil fighting machine. His new side-job? No biggie: just ridding the world of a threat called ISIS while keeping the evil Lucipires (demon vampires) at bay. So when chef Andrea Stewart hires him to rescue her sister from a cult recruiting terrorists at a Montana dude ranch, vangel turns cowboy. Yeehaw!

The too-tempting mortal insists on accompanying him, surprising Cnut with her bravery at every turn. But with terrorists stalking the ranch in demonoid form, Cnut teletransports Andrea and himself out of danger—accidentally into the tenth-century Norselands. Suddenly, they have to find their way back to the future to save her family and the world . . . and to satisfy their insatiable attraction.

Review:
Sandra Hill is an author who has been on my to-read pile for a while, in fact, i’d heard about her vikings series quite often (since there are very few authors who write in that romance sub-genre), so when I was approached by her publicist to review the newest book in her Deadly Angels series, I was intrigued (even if it is book 7 in a series, which made my OCD eyeball twitch just a bit)…based on the description, I was intrigued with how the author was going to try and merge the historical world of vikings with a paranormal world with demons and vampires (or rather Lucipires aka demon vampires).

But i got to be honest, I was more intrigued with the viking world that Cnut (funnily enough, I have a co-worker with a similar name) and Andrea ended up in rather than the paranormal undertones of the book. Maybe because to me that part of the story just sucked me in and i haven’t read the previous books in the series to understand the paranormal background. I’ll also say that I had a few issues with the ISIS storyline that the author chose to use, mostly because a whole secret compound in the US isn’t typically how these middle eastern terrorist groups recruit people. It was also like she tried to work in an element of romantic suspense as well with Cnut helping Andrea to find her sister. I don’t know, in general, I think if I were going to read Ms Hill’s stuff again, then i might stick to the straight historicals, like her Vikings series, rather than her paranormals, since this one just didn’t really work for me. Don’t get me wrong, fundamentally, there was nothing wrong with her writing style, it is just a personal preference. Overall, I gave The Angel Wore Fangs 3 stars, because while it didn’t necessarily work for me, it was a solid paranormal romance.

sandra hillAbout the Author
Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories. She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons

Connect with Sandra
Websitehttps://www.sandrahill.net/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/sandrahillauth
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SandraHillAuthor/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/177305.Sandra_Hill

Purchase Links
Direct from Publisher
Amazon – Mass Market Paperback
Amazon – Kindle

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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Opening Up – Lauren Dane

opening upOpening Up
Author: Lauren Dane
Series: #1 in the Ink & Chrome series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Sasha Dunbrooke
Audiobook Length: 9hrs, 55min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
The men of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop are great with their hands… and they’re not afraid to get dirty.

PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn’t need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he’s ever seen. But the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and soon he’s introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. PJ finds she can’t get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Review:
I’ve lost track of how many Lauren Dane books i’ve read over the years, but in all that time, I’ve never actually listened to one (that actually surprises me because of the amount of audiobooks that i’ve listened to over the years). Typically, I know when I pick up a book of hers, i’ll be immediately sucked it – that it will be hot and steamy at times (and oh wow, was it!), that will likely be a quick read (mostly because once I start reading, I can’t stop!).

In Opening Up, we meet Asa Barrons, one of the owners of Twisted Steel – a custom car business – he is the kind of tough guy with a soft interior that Dane does really well as a character – he’s all tough and business, but that right woman, just makes him fall to his knees. And that right woman, is PJ…I’ll admit that having a woman go by her initials isn’t necessarily a common occurance, in real life or in books, but she countered Asa’s hardness in all the right ways. its hard for me to describe what I liked and didn’t like about PJ – I think for the most part it was how she continued to face shit (for lack of a better word) from her family (specifically her father) and yet, didn’t let that deter her from her dreams/wishes of doing custom paint work on cars (which is just perfect considering the business that Asa owns). she also wasn’t a dainty flower, as seems to be the common character in romance novels – she wasn’t a virgin and knew exactly what she wanted from men and in bed. While there were a few times that I wanted to scream in fustration about how her family treated her, I loved seeing PJ grow and overcome their objections and find her way towards Asa.

Sasha Dunbrooke is a new to me narrator, but i can guarantee it won’t be the last time that I listen to her. She managed to hit all my emotional buttons at various times during Opening Up – I both laughed and cried in several places, sucked into the storyline that I was. I was so glad that I had a substantial amount of time that I was out and running and errands because i got to essentially binge listen a good half of the book in the space of a couple of days, rather than just getting to listen in fits and starts. I honestly have no real complaints about Sasha’s narration – its hard to pick if there is anything that I disliked about her narration…she had a good range of voices for the various characters, her men sounded like men (and not like women with a really bad falsetto)…overall, just a solid and enjoyable listen.

Overall, I gave the book itself 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars. Fans of Lauren Dane will enjoy Opening Up and I recommend to people who like hot, sexy romance with a bad boy and slightly bad girl.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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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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