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Tag Archives: 3.5 stars

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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Audiobook Review – Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man – Mark Tufo

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fall of manLycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man
Author: Mark Tufo
Series: #2 in the Rise of the Werewolf series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Sean Runnette
Run Time: 11hrs and 23min
Audiobook Producer: Podium Publishing
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Producer

Description:
Mike is back. Devastated by his loss he strikes out on a doomed journey to wipe the earth of the Lycan scourge, with his faithful companion Oggie by his side. Bailey, a distant relative of Mike’s best friend BT, joins him but for different reasons. Azile struggles to reign him in, while a world already pushed to the edge begins its fall over the precipice. When all is lost, can anything ever be won? Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old

Review:
Every year when I listen to my chosen armchair audies nomination, there is at least one book that I discover, that not only is totally new to me but one that never would have crossed my path. But Fall of Man has so far (after listening to multiple books in several categories) that book for me in 2016. I’ll admit that while I like dystopia type stories, those that are based around a nuclear holocaust type scenario, typically don’t pique my interest, but this was intriguing with the mix of both werewolves and lycan, which in Rufo’s world are 2 separate/distinct beings (one good and one evil).

I was a bit concerned as I started to listen to the Fall of Man because it is the second book in a series. Especially when the description of the book ending with “Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old” – I had to wonder, what Mike gotten up to in the previous book? words like epic were used, so i expected something that was a roller-coaster of a ride and Tufo didn’t disappoint – while the narration of Fall of Man was 11hrs long, it definitely didn’t feel like it. There was very much a journey-ish feel to the story – as Mike traveled through a country that had been destroyed and was trying to recover. I think one of the more interesting scenes to me was when Mike used a rifle to shoot at invaders that were encroaching on territory – but as technology they were so far advanced from anything that was currently in existance, but Rufo had a way of writing the scene that it reminded me of when I was learning to shoot my rifle when preparing for deployment a few years ago – the adjustment of the sights, aiming firing, fixing again, etc.

Sean Runnette is another new to me narrator that i have encountered during this years Armchair Audies, although he has an extensive backlist (like 200+ audiobooks extensive) – although since the majority of them are in the sci-fi/fantasy realm so not necessarily a genre i listen a lot to. That being said, he had a very smooth reading style that just sucked you in. i felt like I was on the journey with Mike – seeing the world that had been destroyed through his eyes; fighting the lycans and making friends with the werewolves. The speed and pacing of Runnette’s narration was perfect – there are times where I want to speed up or slow down the audible app, but in this case, i didn’t.

The audiobook producer of Fall of Man – Podium Publishing – was also new to me, but i found that the audio was high quality and well produced. Looking at their website, they have lots of audios I would be interested in listening to from many new to me and familiar narrators (hello, R.C. Bray). So I know they will be on my list in the future.

For me Fall of Man was what I am terming my surprise listen of the 2016 Armchair Audies. An unknown author and narrator to me but both of whom I will pick up again in the future. Overall, I gave 3.5 stars for the story itself and 4 stars for narration.

 

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Audiobook Review – The Highwayman – Kerrigan Byrne

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the highwaymanThe Highwayman
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Series: #1 in the Victorian Rebels series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Derek Perkins
Run Time: 10hrs 54min
Audiobook Producer: Tantor Audio
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Tantor Audio

Description:
STEALING BEAUTY
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…
COURTING DESIRE
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?

Review:
It’s kind of weird, I would say that when you look at my romance reading (or listening) that I’m fairly solid in the historical romance realm – so it was kind of surprising to me that I’d never heard of (or if I had, I don’t remember), Kerrigan Byrne before. That being said, as soon as the nominations for the Audies were released, I observed several people mentioning her books on different forums (so maybe it was just a case of me not paying any attention…not that that should surprise people). Anyways, I was excited to check out both a new to me author and a new to me narrator to kick off my armchair audies listening and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ll admit that I’m a junkie for heroes that seem to be undeemable, especially one who goes by the name of “the Blackheart of Ben More” as well as heroines who break the traditional mold that they are expected to fill, in particular, that of the proper lady, not one who works as a clerk in a prison. there was a bit of a mystery element to the story that I found to be well-developed, even if I did figure out whole the bad guy was on fairly early on. I will admit that the use of the name Farah for a female in a historical romance kind of struck me as a name that may have been too modern for the era, but my google-fu has been unsuccessful in finding an origin for it, aside from the fact that its a Muslim name. So I guess the potential for it to be period appropriate it plausible, but I’ll admit that it was a tad distracting for me.

Not only was Kerrigan Byrne a new to be author, but Derek Perkins was a new to me narrator – although he has a significant backlist. Overall, he had a nice melodic narration style that suited the story well, especially the portions where Dorian and the other male characters were speaking. But I will admit that I struggled a bit with his narration of Farah – while it wasn’t a horrible female voice, there were a few times where it just grated on me. It got a bit pitchy in places which was a bit irksome. But overall, a solid narration that I gave 3.5 stars for. The audio production of The Highwayman was well done, which is something I have come to expect from Tantor Audio over the years.

I’ll admit that i was intrigued enough by both the book and the narration to want to continue the series in the future. Overall, I gave both the story and the narration 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – Anthology – Burning Bright

burning brightTitle: Burning Bright – Four Chanukah Love Stories
Authors: Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman’s apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.

All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.

Review:
Sometimes I love when random books pop up in my feed as recommendations. This year, Burning Bright was one of them that I came across and since it focused on Chanukah, and since I can’t remember ever reading any books with that as a basis, I’m glad i decided to take the plunge. And as always with anthologies, I love discovering new authors – in the case of Burning Bright, the only author I had previously read was Megan Hart.

Burning Bright consisted of 4 stories, all with a different take on Chanukah – although for me, my two favorites were the first one, written by Megan Hart and the last one written by KK Hendin. The other day (at least to me) were only so-so and I didn’t really enjoy them – so i’m going to quickly review my two least favorite ones first, before I talk about my favorite ones. I think i’m going to refer to the Megan Hart and KK Hendin contributions as bookends – i seem to always end up using favorite authors as bookends on my shelves, and it is the case with this anthology😉

Fundamentally, there was nothing really wrong with the stories by Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen – they were well-written, they just personally didn’t appeal to my reading asthetic. In a Dose of Gelt (Jennifer Gracen), we meet Shari and Evan, both lawyers who work at the same firm and in love. my problem was that I typically struggle with stories where the main couple is already in a relationship with each other – although there are often interesting dynamics, they just leave me feeling empty – I like the newness of figuring out a relationship (even though second chance romances where they couple is NOT together is a favorite trope of mine). That being said, Evan did do some serious grovelling – I just didn’t like the whole premise and how it was executed. The same could be said for A Home for Chanukah (Stacey Agdern) – the premise itself was interesting, but I struggled with the continual head-hopping throughout. It wasn’t just a simple back and forth POV each chapter, but rather multiple times in each chapter – one saving grace was that each POV was labelled, so at least there was that consistency.

My two favorites in the anthology were Miracle (Megan Hart) and All I Got (KK Hardin) – there was something brutally raw about both of these that just drew me to them. in Miracle, we got to experience Ben’s separation from his family and not being in the safety zone that his religion had previously provided – finding himself in a world that is less strict that where he came from. I really enjoyed this one because it was raw and emotional, but at the same time, I learnt some new stuff. And then there was KK Hardin’s contribution, All I Got which probably fell more into the new adult realm, since the main character was engaged in education. But when she falls in love on a trip to Israel (which is also on my bucket list of places i would love to visit one day), she discovered just how small the world truly is.

As always with an anthology, I was left with wanting to potentially read more books by the authors and look forward to good reads in the future. Overall, I gave the anthology 3.5 stars with 2 books getting 4 stars and 2 getting 3.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – Dodging Temptation – Avery Flynn

25935349Dodging Temptation
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #1 in the Retreat series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Dodge Loving wants revenge…and he’s about to get it. On the cusp of closing a multi-billion-dollar luxury resort deal, Dodge can’t afford for anything go wrong. But then a fiery redhead shows up, the paparazzi hot on her trail, and throws his world into chaos. He has to get rid of her. Immediately.

Harper Conner just wants to be left alone, but after slapping her cheating senator ex-husband during a televised press conference, she’s a hot commodity. The ultra exclusive resort in Wyoming seems like the ideal place to hide—and work—so there’s no way she’s letting the Type-A jerk who runs the place fire her.

Despite the animosity sparking between them, Dodge and Harper can’t keep their hands to themselves. This thing between them can’t happen. It won’t. But his mother has other ideas…and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Harper and Dodge fall in love.

Review:
It’s weird, I always seem to struggle writing reviews for books that I enjoyed, especially if the author is one of my go-to ones, like Avery Flynn is – I wish I could explain it. Case in point, I have had a draft of this review sitting in draft format on my blog page for about 3 weeks now (yes, you read right, three weeks)….I mean, this was an Avery Flynn book, so I knew it was going to be good, but at the same time, since it was kicking off a new series, I was kind of skeptical as well (since first books in series don’t always work for me)…but anyways…let’s talk about the Loving brothers and their HEA’s (or rather, just about Dodge)…

I’ve commented before that enemies to lovers is a favorite romance trope of mine, I love seeing these couples overcome their differences and hatred of each other to have a relationship and for me, Avery hit so many happy buttons with the Dodge/Harper romance. I mean, seriously, what wasn’t there to love about Harper, giving her ex what was due to him on national TV, even if it did turn her into a scandal and had the paparazzi chasing her. And what better place to try and escape said scandal than an exclusive resort…Dodge is the owner of said resort and to say sparks fly between the two of them is an understatement…

I’ll admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dodge at first, he kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but as the book progressed he did grow on me. Of course, it helped that he had some awesome scenes as the relationship between him and Harper developed (and I can safely say, I don’t know if i’ll be able to look at pistachio ice cream the same way again…). Of course, he did exhibit typical dumbass male tendencies, including exceeding stubbornness (which is both a blessing and a curse it seems…). Dodging Temptation was full of Avery Flynn’s trademark sass and snark, as well as spicy love scenes and I’m intrigued to see how the rest of the series is going to turn out.

Purchase Links (Amazon):

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Delectable – Adrianne Lee

18453252Delectable
Author: Adrianne Lee
Series: #1 in Big Sky Pie series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Netgalley

Description:
Montana real estate agent Quint McCoy will tell you that the most important thing is location, location, location. It’s a lesson he learns all too well when he goes incommunicado for a four-week fishing trip to Alaska. While he’s away, his mother Molly turns his office into the pie shop she has always dreamed of, Big Sky Pie. But that’s not the only surprise in store for him.

On her way out of town, Callee McCoy only wants to say a fond farewell to her beloved mother-in-law. But Molly soon persuades Callee to stay and lend a hand at the new shop, even if it means heating up the kitchen with her soon-to-be ex. As Callee and Quint rediscover their recipe for love, they realize that some couples are so sinfully good together that one delectable taste is never enough . . .

Review:
Delectable was one of the books that I identified as a to-read during ARC August and looking back, I have to wonder why I didn’t read it for so long. Honestly, I have no idea…I mean, the cover is gorgeous (and makes me hungry for pie…hmm) and the story included several of the romance tropes I love, including second chance/reunited romance and foodie romance (and trust me, I don’t know if i’ll be able to look at pie making the same way ever again)…so Delectable for me was a pleasant surprise. This is the first book that I had read by Adrianne Lee but after taking a look at her Goodreads profile, it looks like she has been writing for a while (which I always like, because it means i potentially have a backlist of books to dig into a read).

But anyways, back to Delectable – I’ll admit when I first started i was a bit skeptical, i mean Quint was (for lack of a better word) a jackass – he just up and leaves (in the very beginning) with no word – i mean, if I had been his wife, his ass would have been mine…just sayin’ And worse yet, he expected everything to remain the same after he pulled that stunt – i mean, sorry dude, the world does not revolve around you…but i did think the author did a good job in trying to balance the him groveling/trying to fix his mistakes and the acceptance of his wife/ex-wife…it wasn’t just a i’m sorry and she fell at his feet really to accept his apology and move on.

For me thought, the best part of the story was actually the foodie part, the pie making – i will say i def. felt my stomach growling a few times while reading and I had a craving for cherry pie (even though I’m not a huge fan of it). And of course, there were several smexy scenes involving pie making (which would likely be a lot messier than it was in the book…). In the end, I found Delectable to be a cute second chance romance novel and I gave it 3.5 stars – but I was intrigued enough by the other characters in the books, to add the rest of the series to Mt TBR. Hopefully I can get to them sometime in the next decade😉

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

16068341The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Review:
So I actually read this book earlier this year and marked it off as being reviewed, when apparently I only actually imagined doing that…lol! So some of my thoughts on this may be a bit patchy but there are also parts that really stick out (even 6 months or so later). I’ll be the first to admit that one of my guilty pleasures are lifetime movies (you know the ones, my daughter ran away and became addicted to drugs; my daughter got pregnant as a teen; my son is going to be a teen father and adopt the child type movies). They are like cotton candy for me, I get emotionally invested in them, and by the end of the movie, I’m happy that my life isn’t screwed up like that and I just move on to other things. The Truth About Alice kind of reminded me of one of those movies (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

The book itself is told in an alternating POV from 4 different students at the high school where the title character was also a student. I found it intriguing how the author didn’t actually include Alice as a POV – maybe to keep up the idea of the perceived “truth” about her, rather than the actual truth…It was also interesting seeing how the characters devolved into the gossips and then evolved into more responsible young adults as the book progressed – although it was the person that I kind of least expected to stand up to the gossip that did.

My biggest complaint, I think, was the everything tied up too quickly – it was like alice is a slut, she did xyz and then all of the sudden, everything seemed back to normal…maybe that was how it was supposed to be – indicative of how gossip is hot one day and then not the next…but it left me feeling kind of empty in the long run. I wanted a bit more closure at the end…Overall, I gave the Truth about Alice 3.5 stars because it was something different (or at least that I’ve read) in the YA writing world.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in Book Review

 

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