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Tag Archives: 3.5 stars

Review – Hello Stranger – Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: #4 in the Ravenels
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

Description:
A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

Review:
I’ve been reading Lisa Kleypas since almost before I could remember reading romance – i’m pretty sure that she was one of the first ten romance authors that I read as a teenager (along with Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, LaVyrle Spencer and Jude Deveraux…yeah, i can actually remember the names of the authors that sparked my love of romance). And to this day, she is still one of my go-to authors when I need a solid read – I’ll admit that I’ve had my highs and lows with some of her more recent books, but since Garrett was introduced in Marrying Winterbourne – I knew her book was going to be a roller-coaster of emotions. I’ve also had a total girl crush on Ethan from the get-go. I love that unlike many of her other books, both individuals in this pairing were lower-class (or rather for the most part they were). It was nice seeing how the other side lived during the late 1800’s – so often it is just glazed over in books and forgotten about it.

There were so many different facets to Garrett that the author developed – not only was she the first female physician and all that entailed, but she was willing to go above and beyond her calling to help people by volunteering to help others in need – which ironically is how she and Ethan first got to know each other several books ago. There were several scenes in Hello Stranger where Garrett was learning how to fence in an effort to be able to protect herself, which of course, Ethan was able to come to the rescue and fix because she had learnt very proper and not how a fight would go down in real life. The strong man to the rescue trope is pretty common in most historical romances and honestly, for this was it was a bit grating – i really wanted Garrett to not need to be rescued and to do the rescuing (which she also did)…I dunno – I think that was the one element that I struggled with the most.

Ethan’s portion of the storyline was kind of obvious and I had pretty much figure out what was going to happen – i’m not saying that this is bad, but it wasn’t as engaging as previous books – i love Garrett and Ethan but Hello Stranger just didn’t quite have all the entire magic that I was hoping for – but it was still a solid read that I gave 3.5 stars to. I’m intrigued to see where Ms Kleypas goes with the next book in the series – it must almost be time for West to get his HEA.


About Lisa:
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Connect with Lisa:
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @lisakleypas

BUY LINKS for HELLO STRANGER:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mGsuAd
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2mRfLvD
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2EQPLH5
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/2BckeNI
iBooks: https://apple.co/2DJ339o
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2rjQ37l

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2018 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Duchess Deal – Tessa Dare

The Duchess Deal
Author: Tessa Dare
Series: #1 in the Girl Meets Duke series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Run Time: 7hrs 56min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

Review:
Tessa Dare is one of those authors that I feel like I should more of because I have enjoyed the few of her books that I’ve read and yet, I tend to pass her other when looking at various historical romances…i’m honestly not sure why…that being said, because of this, I was happy when the first book in her new series was nominated for an Audie in the romance category. I happened to start the Duchess Deal on my 6hr trek to Ohio (which I do once a month) – so I was able to fully invest myself in the story for almost the entirety of my trip and i’m glad that I did – because the audiobook that made that drive pretty much fly by. I found myself laughing hard quite often and when I did stop for gas and snackage – hurrying through the story, so I could keep listening. I’ll admit that there wasn’t anything overly special about the story line – but it just hit the spot for what I was currently looking for – some angst, a marriage of convenience, as well as a Beauty and the Beast type storyline and the requisite Happily Ever After. I’m a simple girl, what can I say? 🙂

This is the first time that I’ve listened to Mary Jane Wells, but I had to say that I overall enjoyed the experience. Her feminine voices were all distinct to me and i could easily identify who was talking; although I will say that her masculine ones weren’t as distinct – but thankfully, the majority of the book was told from a female POV. Taking a look at her other available audiobooks, it looks like she has found her niche in historical romance (I saw many authors that I have read in the past and I would likely pick up an audiobook narrated by her, in order to continue reading those authors). Her narration pacing was solid and the narration was neither too quiet or too loud (I didn’t have to adjust the volume on my radio while listening).

Overall, I gave the writing 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars – but I am definitely interesting in trying the later books in the series when they are released in audio.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – Scent of the Missing – Susannah Charleston

Scent of the Missing
Author: Susannah Charleston
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper of an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face. Once she qualified to train a dog of her own, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitudes as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle’s adventures as they search for the missing lost teen, an Alzheimer’s patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster and unravel the mystery of the bond between humans and dogs.

Review:
I’m a TV crime show buff – most of the time if you check out my recent shows on Hulu, you will see things like Law and Order, Blue Bloods or Chicago PD in my recently viewed shows. Ocassionally, i’ll be watching one of these shows and i’ll see a peak of people working a crime scene and cadaver dogs searching for bodies at the potential dump site for a serial killer. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of search dogs and when Scent of the Missing popped up as a potential book for a reading challenge, I opted to read it and find out just a bit more.

Scent of the Missing intertwines chapters of training scenarios where the author worked as a volunteer with chapters dedicated to the training of a Search and Rescue dog – specific for this book, a Golden Retriever called Puzzle (or Puzz as she is referred to throughout). I have to admit that I was surprised by the amount of training that it took to ensure that a dog was fully qualified. I mean I knew that you didn’t just get a dog one day and they were qualified as a search dog the next – but the evolution of a search dog from a puppy (Susannah got Puzzle from a breeder when she was 8 weeks old and had been involved with selecting the right puppy before they were even available to take home) to a fully qualified dog around 2 years of age (when Puzzle finished her official certification).

I thought that the author did a good job balancing real life searches where she provided support to other handler’s and their dogs with the training that she was going through with Puzzle (oftentimes at the same time). I found her volunteering to be a victim as part of training scenarios to be intriguing and something that I would love to potentially do in the future (or the same could be said for volunteering in mass casualty training scenarios). ultimately, I gave Scent of the Missing 3.5 stars because it was a solid enjoyable read, but didn’t completely blow me away. I also didn’t find myself too emotionally invested in any of the searches (as I have found myself in other non-fiction books).

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe – Katherine Garbera

Christmas at the Candied Apple Café
Author: Katherine Garbera
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author via NetGalley

Description:
There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

Review:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, kinda sorta…at least the weather has started to cool down a bit (I even woke up to frost on the car earlier this week) – normally, I would wait until December to start digging into Christmas romances – but when I was offered the chance to review Christmas at the Candied Apple Café, I was intrigued by the description (as well as the whimsy of the cover) – that I said yes. It has also been a while since I’ve read anything written by Ms Garbara (like probably close to 8years), so seeing how her writing style has evolved over time was an added bonus.

Like the cover, there was something whimsical about Christmas at the Candied Apple Café – it was a story about learning to love again and moving on, to making new memories (and add in a nice bonus of a story that revolves around chocolate…which if anyone knows me knows I heartily subscribe to that lifestyle choice). While Iona wasn’t the chocolatier, she was the publicist responsible for a rather popular chocolate store who is being courted by the hero, Mads Eriksson, to be a unique store in his hotel chain. But it was Mads daughter who won me over in the writing of the story. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for books that feature kids (especially if they are key to the story) and Sofia was an adorable, yet precocious little girl. I just wanted to have her jump off the page, so that I could give her a hug and read her a story, but alas….

The romance between Iona and Mads wasn’t anything that blew me away – it just had a nice steady development with a bit of a flash and bang at a few different spots. I was honestly more interested in both Mads relationship with his daughter and how he was going to get past a recently suffered tragedy to love again. Christmas at the Candied Apple Café was just a comfortable read – the kind of book that I would read on a snowy day, snuggled up unti a blanket on the couch with the dog warming my feet. I’d give Christmas at the Candied Apple Café 3.5 stars and a recommendation for anyone looking for a cute Christmas romance.

About Katherine Garbera:
Katherine Garbera is the USA Today best-selling author of more than 90 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature Dachshund.

Katherine on Social Media:
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Tell Me Where It Hurts – Nick Trout

Tell Me Where It Hurts
Author: Nick Trout
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Simon Vance
Run Time: 9hrs 12min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Dr. Trout takes the listener on a vicarious journey through 24 intimate, heartrending hours in his life. His wry, companionable voice offers enlightening and engaging anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. If you’ve ever had a pet or special place in your heart for furry friends, Dr. Trout’s inspiring account of loving and healing animals is for you.

Review:
This was the second book by Dr Trout that I’ve listened to in the last month (although the first one he wrote) – both of which are about his experiences as a surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston (where he still works). I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started it – the other book by him that I read was an alternating story of 2 different dogs that Dr Trout had treated over several months. This one was arranging to tell a story over a 24hr period – each chapter a different animal that Dr Trout treated over the course of a day – at the same time, each chapter allowed him to think about other animals and cases that had influenced his career as a vet over the years – his first experience with working with animals that made him head down that road to a career; to his experiences with euthanasia and pet owner’s wishes. There was one animal over the course of the 24 hours that made several appearances (but if you think i’m going to tell you more, then you apparently don’t know me very well).

Simon Vance has long been a favorite narrator of mine – so having the pleasure of listening to him narrate both of Dr Trout’s books. It worked even better for me, since Dr Trout is originally from England – so having a slight accent worked well. Honestly, its hard to find anything to really critique about Vance’s narration – so i’ll just stop gushing here 🙂

A solid listen (and i’m hoping probably read) – I gave it 3.5 stars overally, and 4 stars for the narration – recommended if you enjoy animal stories and personal introspection.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – Pupcakes – Annie England Noblin

Pupcakes
Author: Annie England Noblin
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
All she wants is a settled-down life.

What she gets is a dog—and a whole new normal . . .

There he stood in the doorway: overweight, depressed and nearly homeless—a pug named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was Brydie Benson’s latest problem, arriving on top of her messy divorce and sudden move. Brydie needed a place to start over, so this rent-free home seemed a great idea. She just never counted on Teddy, or his owner, the Germantown Retirement Village’s toughest customer, Pauline Neumann.

And because rent-free doesn’t mean bills-free, Brydie gets a night-shift job at a big-box grocery. Whoever guessed there were so many people who wanted baked goods after midnight?

Then, she gets an idea—why not combine her baking skills with her new-found dog knowledge? And so her store Pupcakes is born. Along with a new start comes a possible new love, in the form of Nathan Reid, a local doctor with a sassy Irish Wolfhound named Sasha. And as fall turns to winter, and then to Christmas, Brydie begins to realize that life is a little bit like learning a new recipe for puff pastry—it takes a few tries to get it just right!

Review:
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a bookcovers that have dogs on them – my eye catches on them in bookstores and at the library. So when I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin, it was like yes please (although, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of pugs, there is just something about them…) Ms. Noblin is a new author to me, but after reading Pupcakes, I can say that it won’t be the last time I read something by her. There was nothing really unique about her writing style, but it just drew me in. After suffering a bit of a reading slump the last few weeks (on top of being busy at work), I needed a book that engaged me that I wanted to keep reading.

Using Theodore Roosevelt (yes, that was the dogs name) as a vehicle to tell the story was something that make it engaging. The dog wasn’t just an accessory to a character, but was primary to moving the story from beginning to end. But it wasn’t just a story of a woman and dog – it was about finding yourself about life changing events, about rediscovering who you are and finding love again. I felt that while I hadn’t experienced any of what Brydie had gone through that she was still relatable. Then there was Nathan – ahhh, I love a good doctor 🙂 (I don’t think I need to say much more than that right?) In general the cast of characters (Joe, Rosa, Lillian from the overnight bakery) and Pauline (without who there wouldn’t have been a Teddy Roosevelt to fall in love with).

An ultimately satisfying story that made me want to keep reading, as well as try my hand at making homemade dog cookies (i’m sure my two would love me even more if I did that)…I think one thing that would have made the book great, would have been some of the different recipes that Brydie created. A solid 3.5 stars and another added to Mt. I-want-to-read-more-of! 😉

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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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.

 

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