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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.

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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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Audiobook Review – The Baller – Vi Keeland

audie-nominee-erotica

the-baller The Baller
Author: Vi Keeland
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Mackenzie Cartwright, Sean Crisden
Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio
Run Time: 8hrs 49min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
The first time I met Brody Easton was in the men’s locker room. It was my first interview as a professional sportscaster. The famed quarterback decided to bare all. And by all, I don’t mean he told me any of his secrets. No. The arrogant ass decided to drop his towel just as I asked the first question. On camera.
The Super Bowl MVP quickly adopted a new hobby: screwing with me. When I pushed back, he shifted from wanting to screw with me to wanting to screw me. But I don’t date players. And it’s not because I’m one of the few women working in the world of professional football. I’d date an athlete. It’s the other kind of player I don’t date. You know the type. Good looking, strong, cocky, always looking to get laid.
Brody Easton was the ultimate player. Every woman wanted to be the one to change him. But the truth was, all he needed was a girl worth changing for. Turned out I was that girl. Simple, right? Let’s face it. It never is.
There’s a story between once upon a time and happily ever after…and this one is ours.

Review:
Sometimes I feel like i’m uber far behind in current hot authors that friends are reading – and Vi Keeland is just one of those authors who I had heard a lot about and never read – so when one of her books was nominated for an Audiobook Audie in the Erotica category, I figured it was time that I checked her out. Although asking several of my goodreads friends told me that The Baller possible wasn’t the best of her books to be my first one – but I have to say it honestly wasn’t horrible – I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. the romance between Brody and Delilah was hawt – but I could have done without the addition of Brody’s ex – I honestly just felt like that didn’t add anything other than un-needed angst to the story that was actually pretty solid in the romance department (although I will debate whether its actually erotica, but that is a story for another day).

This was my first time listening to Mackenzie Cartwright but not my first time listening to Sean Crisden. I will say that I really enjoyed Mackenzie’s narration – I found her range of voices to be solid and even the portions where she narrated as a male was enjoyable. The pacing of her narration felt natural (meaning I didn’t feel like I needed to speed up or slow down the narration to enjoy it). Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Sean Crisden (although I have listened to other stuff by him before). While I enjoyed the portions where he was narrating as Brody (or other male characters) – I wasn’t a fan of his female voices – in fact they actually made me cringe at times. His female narration was one of the reasons for my 3.5 stars for this audiobook – I just personally, I couldn’t get past them.

I’ve been a fan of Tantor Media’s audiobooks for years and enjoy their continued high quality audiobook productions. I know when I listen to a book done by them, that it will be solid with no issues. Overall, I gave The Baller – 3.5 stars for the book and the narration and 4 stars for the audiobook production.

 

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Review – Sweet Serendipity – Jamie Farrell

sweet-serendipitySweet Serendipity
Author: Jamie Farrell
Series: Part of Kindle Worlds tied to Hope Falls series (Melanie Shawn)
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
Wyatt Owens has had a crush on his best friend’s little sister for as long as he can remember. So when he unexpectedly finds her at his buddy’s vacation home – naked, no less! – when he arrives for a week of hanging in Hope Falls, he can’t decide if this is his lucky day, or if he’s in for the longest week of his life.

Skye Ryder has never much liked Wyatt. He’s bossy and disapproving and he never does anything wrong. But she’s also never been alone with him before. Nor has she ever noticed how sexy he can be, especially when he’s showing off his military-issue muscles and flashing those rare smiles. She’s not looking for love, but the man she hated is suddenly the man she can’t resist.

Review:
It’s been a while since I’ve read and/or reviewed one of Jamie’s books – mostly because she is a good friend of mine and I struggle to sometimes remain impartial on my reviews (because I could go total fan girl). But when she mentioned that she had been asked to participate in Melanie Shawn’s Kindle Worlds novellas for the Hope Falls series – I was intrigued (and even though I haven’t read any of the Hope Falls series, I’m now planning on it). If you aren’t familiar with Kindle Worlds, authors license the use of their fictional world to other authors to write novellas in – stories need to stay to the same vibe of the original series (so no vampires in a historical romance world) – I haven’t read many of these Kindle Worlds books, although I’ve been intrigued – so Sweet Serendipity seemed the right way to dip my toe in.

Not only did Sweet Serendipity feature a romance trope that I love (friend falling for best friends sibling), but it also featured a smexy military and an adorable, yet slightly klutzy young boy. Having known Jamie for several years (and her kids through her various social media postings) – I have no doubt that some of Nicolas’s adventures may have been inspired by her own kids. I love that when she features kids in her stories, they aren’t just there for added kid drama, but rather that they contribute to the story in often significant ways (in this instance, some of Wyatt and Skye’s relationship was due in part to Nicholas wanting them both with him during certain events in the story). Skye’s backstory was intriguing and her ex was (for lack of a better term) a dick – so seeing her struggle a bit with that as she and Wyatt developed a relationship make the book feel more real to me.

If you are looking for a small town romance, with a hot military hero and a (fairly) stable headed heroine – then Sweet Serendipity might be a book for you to try. You can purchase Sweet Serendipity from Amazon.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Underground in Berlin – Marie Jalowicz Simon

underground-in-berlinUnderground in Berlin
Author: Marie Jalowicz Simon
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Ellen Archer
Run Time: 11hrs 47min
Narrator Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community, and vanished into the city.

In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost twenty different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists, and even committed Nazis. Only her quick-witted determination and the most hair-raising strokes of luck allowed her to survive.

Review:
I’m a little bit belated in posting this audiobook review (like 6 months late)…but it was a book that made me think about the lengths people go to avoid getting caught. When most of us think about Jewish people who managed to survive the Holocaust, we think of Anne Frank and her family who lived in the Attic until they were turned in; or people like Corrie Ten Boom who helped hide people in a crawl space – but there were others that managed to survive by just staying a step ahead of the Germans – Marie Jalowicz was one of those people.

What made her story remarkable (at least to me) was how unremarkable it really was – it wasn’t sit on the edge of the chair thrilling, but more of a roller coaster ride – sometimes gentle and lulling and other times ricocheting you around the track…mostly wondering if she could actually manage to avoid the Nazi’s for 4(ish) years until the war ended…obviously since she wrote a book about her experiences she did (does that count as a spoiler?) So much of the story seemed just ehhh, she went here and stayed on a couch and had to keep really quiet so she wasn’t discovered during the day and the moved to another location and did the same thing. I think that the story being remarkedly unremarkable is why I only gave it 3.5 stars – I enjoyed portions of the story but the internal me wanted a bit more excitment (isn’t that kind of pathetic?)

Its kind of weird – I could have sworn that i’d listened to something narrated by Ellen Archer before, but looking through my audiobook files – I can’t find anything by her (which means, i’m either going nuts, or simply didn’t log it)…anyways, one of the good things about listening to non-fiction/biographies is that narrators don’t need to deviate too much from a normal reading voice (differentiating characters etc) – so it was a solid listen with no frills – a story that was relatively simple, with a relatively simple narration style – i could easily get used to something like that.

Overall, I gave Underground in Berlin 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars. Its a solid autobiography that while not exciting is insightful into how people survived persecution during World War 2.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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