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Audiobook Review – The Duke’s Holiday – Maggie Fenton

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the duke's holidayThe Duke’s Holiday
Author: Maggie Fenton
Series: #1 in the Regency Romp series
Rating:

Narrator: Sue Pitkin
Run Time: 15hrs 11 minutes
Audiobook Producer: Brilliance Audio
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
The cold, precise Duke of Montford demands things his way: neatly ordered, in place, and adhering closely to the rules. So he is furious when he learns that the tenant of his ducal estate has been dead for a year, and a stranger has been running the Honeywell business–which, by contract, is now Montford’s. When he arrives in Yorkshire to investigate, he discovers that the estate is being run by an unruly, tomboyish woman–and a bluestocking at that!
Fiery redhead Astrid Honeywell is independent and educated. She’s been handling the Honeywell family business for years. And she’s not about to relinquish it to anyone–not even Montford–because of some archaic contract.
Montford and Astrid have an instant hatred for one another…and an undeniable, unspeakable attraction. They must resist this improper desire–after all, Montford has a fiancée in London. But when Astrid’s life is placed in terrible danger, Montford finds he may be willing to risk everything to save her.

Review:
It’s hard to describe my overall reaction to The Duke’s Holiday, with the exception of, it was totally not what I expected. I mean, I went into the audio of this book, expecting a very traditional historical romance, staid characters with a fairly predictable storyline (because unfortunately after reading/listening to so much historical romance over the years, it all starts to blend together). What I got was a historical romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud for a good portion of the book and by laughing out loud, I mean like serious, belly clutching laughter.

Not only was The Duke’s Holiday full of antics that reminded me of something you would see on a comedy show, but it departed from the norms of the time period with Astrid, the heroine, running her families brewery, under the guise of her father, who was unable. Enter, the Duke of Montford (because he was NEVER called by his real name of Cyril…not that I blame him), who owned the estate (although that was up for debate if you asked any of the Honeywell’s) and who liked things very proper – in fact, at times, I wondered if he maybe had a touch of obsessive-compulsive behavior with his need to control things. It was fun listening to the Duke shed his properness (is that a real world) as he became more relaxed and free at the Honeywell’s. I’ll admit the scene where the author went into great detail about the foot race that is held every year and involves drinking a pint of Honeywell Brew approximately ever 1/4 mile, made me nearly run the car of the road, i was laughing so hard. That is totally something I would sign up to do in my insanity and the following scenes where the Duke is singing druken limericks was just as entertaining. The author had the raunchy nature of drunken shenanigans pegged perfectly. As another reviewer on Goodreads stated, both Astrid and the Duke were perfectly unperfect (or was is unperfectly perfect)…either way, that statement sums up my thoughts almost perfectly on the book.

Once again in my Audie’s listening I came across a new to me narrator (which seems to have been the theme for this year). As with others, I can safely say that I will be adding more narration by Sue Pitkin to my listening future. Its honestly hard to pinpoint exactly what i liked about her narration though – it wasn’t one specific thing (you know, somehow its how the narrator differentiates characters or how they handle pacing of the story etc)…for me, it was just a solid combination of everything that made The Duke’s Holiday an all-around solid romance audiobook. As mentioned above, one of my favorite scenes, due in part to the narration, was the druken duke – in fact, i remember tweeting the narrator after I had gotten done listening to that chapter because I had to let her know how much I had enjoyed it. While I know that voices of the opposite gender are at times a struggle for narrators, I thought Sue Pitkin handled not only Monford’s narration perfectly, but also that of his companions (one a well described fop and the other a walking train-wreck). I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to them because I have a feeling the other two books in the series will be about them.

A solid 4 stars for both the book itself and the narration – this is a book that probably never would have caught my eye if not nominated, but will be an author that I watch out for in the future. Warning to all listeners, driving while listening to this book may result in distracted driving from laughing so hard you card (just so you have been warned…)

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – Inside the O’Briens – Lisa Genova

inside the o'briensInside the O’Briens
Author: Lisa Genova
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Review:
I’ll admit that I felt like I was one of the last people in america to read Genova’s book, Still Alice – in fact, the movie had been released and Julianne Moore had already been awarded the Oscar before I even picked up the book but it just so happened that not long after I finished reading it, when I was looking at Edelweiss one day (a place that is like crack for book bloggers), I saw that review copies of her newest book, Inside the O’Brien’s were available and I totally clicked to request it (and then promptly lost the book on the virtual straggering TBD).

Anyways, I digress…my knowledge about Huntington’s Chorea is extremely limited to basically what I learnt from watching House, when one of the doctor’s who worked for him (aka Thirteen) had a mother with Huntington’s and she had to make the decision on whether she wanted to go through the genetic tests to find out if she would get it. Because as I learnt both there and while reading Inside the O’Brien’s, if you have the gene, you will get the disease, its not a case of, you have the gene, you might get it, but rather, there is a 100% likelihood that you will develop Huntington’s and that currently there is no treatment and no cure for the disease, so a death sentence. Knowing that was the ultimate outcome in Joe’s story, I was curious to see how Genova would handle it, walking a fine line between telling a story, sucking people in and not wanting to be too dramatic (for lack of a better word). so I appreciated how she approached it – essentially alternating the story from Joe’s POV and that of his youngest daughter, Katie – who is struggling to make the decision about having the testing. I split the age between Joe and Katie, so this is a book that really struck home for me, that these are decisions that many people my age, may have to face in upcoming years, especially as genetic testing becomes more and more common and ethical questions are raised?

I know that as I was reading Inside the O’Brien’s, I posted a question on my facebook page – essentially theoretically asking – if you had to make a decision about taking a genetic test like the one for HC would you and the responses that came back were interesting. If the test comes back showing you have the genetic mutation, how do you life a life you know is going to end? How do you deal with it knowing that you may have passed the gene onto your children, if you have them? (or even grandchildren)

Its hard to call a read like Inside the O’Brien’s enjoyable for the simple reason of the topics that it discusses focuses on – i found it to be thought-provoking, and made me question for thoughts and feelings about genetic testing (although I honestly, still don’t have an answer on if I would do it or not)…it was very well written, not overly complicated/difficult but solid writing. I gave it 4 stars, but it is definately a book that has stuck with me since I read it a couple of months ago.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review (reblog) – Curing Doctor Vincent – Renea Mason

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curing doctor vincentAuthor: Renea Mason
Series: #1 in the Good Doctor Trilogy
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrators: Noah Michael Levine, Erin Deward
Run Time: 6hrs, 10 min
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Audiobook Provided by Author

This is a reblog of my review that originally appeared on October 29, 2015; with a couple of initial thoughts about her Audie nomination

Description:
One kinky doctor + one indecent proposal = one life-changing week in Paris

Elaine Watkins, Public Relations Advisor, is surprised when she receives a summons from the very attractive and enigmatic Dr. Xavier Vincent. She worships the talented physician and company icon responsible for developing the cure that saved her sister’s life and isn’t immune to his charm. Even though puzzled by his request, she is excited and eager to get started on his latest project.

But Dr. Vincent has other ideas. Instead of discussing cures, drugs and marketing strategies, he asks Elaine to join him in Paris to indulge his unique sexual appetites.

Torn between gratitude for saving her sister, her attraction for the powerful man and compromising her pre-conceived notions of sexuality, she must decide if it’s easier to feed his desires or walk away. Until she devises a plan of her own.

Review:
In light of Renea’s nomination for an Audie in the Erotica category, I’m reblogging my review as part of the Armchair Audies. I was so excited to see Curing Doctor Vincent make the list of nominees because it is by far one of the best erotic romances that I have listened to (and read) in the recent past. The storyline was well development, there wasn’t an overabundance of sex without story (also known as porn without plot) and I don’t think she could have picked two better narrators to represent Xavier and Elaine. This is my strongest contender to date for the winner in the erotica category.

I’d never heard of Renea (which is pronounced Renee) Mason until I got an email from her a few months ago about reviewing the audiobook for her erotic romance, Curing Doctor Vincent. But she managed to catch my attention from the get-go when she compared the narrators of her audiobook (Noah Michael Levine and Erin DeWard) to one of my favorite pairings, Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross (who narrated Karen Marie Monings Fever series). I mean, my initial reaction was like, no one is better than Phil and Natalie – i mean, they totally rock all their narrations. But boy was I wrong – I sat in the car listening pretty much slack-jawed and Noah and Erin rocked this audio and they both earned a place in my top 5 narrators/pairings.

But back to the story itself…if you were offered one week in Paris on a trip of sexual exploration, would you take it? I know that I would probably have to stop and think about it and would probably wimp out, but Elaine did none of those things. Curing Doctor Vincent was a roller-coaster ride of emotions, I know that I experienced pretty much the whole spectrum from anger to sadness; from excitement to deep and abiding love. There is something about Renea’s writing that just made me feel like I was in Paris with Xavier and Elaine, and experiencing all the sexual satisfaction that Elaine was feeling.

the story itself didn’t unfold the way I expected it to when I began. I’ll be honest – my initial thoughts when I read the description would be that Elaine’s experiences with Xavier and his sexual appetites would be the majority of the story. In fact, I was kind of shocked when there was actually more story than sex – haha. I know that probably sounds weird, but its true – there was a lot more to Curing Doctor Vincent than just the trip to Paris and lots of sex – I was actually expected that that would somehow be the cure that was alluded to in the title. But boy, was I wrong! The ending of the story was sweetly satisfying (although there was definitely a scream of agony that resonated when I finished my road trip with 30min remaining on the book – the torture of having to wait until the next day to finish it up…has to fall under cruel and unusual punishment).

I will say holy hotness on the writing of those sexual experiences – so often in erotic romance, those scenes just feel like insert Tab A into slot B, very mechanical or on the other end of the spectrum, overly flowerly purple prose, but Renea managed that fine balance between the two. I will say that I found myself fanning my face several times during my car ride as I was listening. I could probably gush about the audiobook all day, but I will say, my favorite thing about the narration was that it was a true alternating POV narration – where Noah read all the male parts and Erin all the female – so often in dual narration audiobooks (at least in my experience), it ends up being male reads one chapter, including any female dialogue and vice versa – so this was a pleasant surprise.

I gave Curing Doctor Vincent 4 stars and the audio narration 5 stars. I’d recommend this to people who like erotic romance with a solid storyline and satisfactory conclusion (with no cliff-hanger). Unfortunately, now I have to wait for the next book in the trilogy to come out (or at least the audio version)…hopefully that will be relatively soon…

 

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Review – A Passion to Pursue – Kelsey Browning

a passion to pursueA Passion to Pursue
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #2 in the Prophecy of Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
What if a pair of cowboy boots could foretell true love?

For years, Texas girl Greer Maddox waited to inherit her legacy as the next prophecy bootmaker. But that day never came. Now, instead of living out her rightful destiny, she’s lost, restlessly jumping from one art project to the next.

Until the day leather tooler Alejandro Villanueva strolls into town looking like ten kinds of sexy trouble.

After surviving his dark and dangerous past, all Alex wants is a quiet future. Alone, where his former life and mistakes can’t hurt anyone else. Even casually screwing around with a girl next door like Greer–whose dulce de leche voice and curvy body make him sweat–is a bad idea. But when she gets involved in his attempts to win the Prophecy Boot Company’s tooling contract, waving adios is the last thing on his mind.

Their attraction flares hot and undeniable. He wants her, and even knowing he shouldn’t have her can’t stop him from indulging in the temptation she offers. But when his past comes calling, he is forced to choose between hiding from his sins, or saving the woman he loves.

Review:
When a book has characters saying things like “I think I just orgasmed a rainbow” you know that you are going to have an enjoyable and likely laughing out loud reading experience. And that is exactly what I got when I read A Passion to Pursue by one of my auto-buy authors, Kelsey Browning. I know instinctively when picking up a book by her that i’ll likely laugh, maybe cry and just find myself in a happy place.

A Passion to Pursue takes the reader back to Prophecy, Texas where the legend of the prophecy boot is part of the town’s identity. This time we get to know Greer at a deeper level (we had previously met her as she is Cal’s sister – Cal being the hero of the first book in the series). And then there is Alex (although his real name is Alejandro – which just kind of rolls off the tongue in a sexy kind of way)…the leather carver who is being considered by Prophecy Boot Company to come on board and carve the designs in the boots that would lead people to their soul-mates (or is it sole-mates)😉 Kelsey created a character that had so many mysteries – why did he need the money that the Prophecy Boot Company would pay them? why does he have tattoo’s on half his body? Every time I thought I was beginning to understand him as a character, something else new was revealed.

I think the thing that drew me most to the story, aside from the holy hotness factor of the Greer/Alex romance, was seeing the struggle that Greer went through trying to find her place in the world. She had always been around people who knew what they were destined to be – Delaney being the Prophecy boot designer, Alex and his leather carving – but she never truly found her place in the world. Seeing her struggle with that in A Passion to Pursue made me thing about struggles that many people go through as they try to find their place – heck, i’m older than Greer is and at times, I still feel like I am trying to find my place in the world.

If you are looking for a spicy read, with a sexy tattooed artist with some serious life choice undertones, A Passion to Pursue might be the read for you. Of course, I do recommend reading the first book in the series if you want to get up to date on the series first. I gave 4 stars to A Passion to Pursue and intrigued to see where Kelsey takes the series next…she definately introduced a few characters in A Passion to Pursue who I would be interested to know more about.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Stolen Years – Reuven Fenton

stolen yearsStolen Years: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned
Author: Reuven Fenton
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
There is a horrible murder in your neighborhood. You stand outside with your neighbors and watch, or maybe you peek out of your curtains. Hours pass, then days, maybe even years. Until one day there is a knock at your door, and the police take you in for questioning. Do you remember what happened? Do you have an alibi? Can you take countless hours of interrogation without breaking? Can this happen to you?

It can happen, and it happens more than you think.

From The Fixer to The Shawshank Redemption to Orange Is the New Black, books, films, and TV shows have, for decades, fed the public’s endless hunger for nitty-gritty details about prison life. Stolen Years will not deny readers those details, but it will also offer something more satisfying: the stories of ten former inmates who fended off the blackest kind of despair so they could keep fighting for freedom; the years they spent waiting for an appeal; and their struggles to get back to living after losing so many years behind bars.

Review:
There are some books that when I read them, it takes me time to decompress from the reading experience before I can write a review, Stolen Years was one of those books. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who honestly wants to believe that those people who are in jail, especially those for long periods of time, actually deserve to be there – but with the rise of podcast’s like Serial, and the Netflix documentary, Making of a Murderer, I’ve started to question my belief of and in the legal system. Its kind of coincidental, that as I am writing this review, a Law & Order: SVU episode came on with a false accusation premise that actually echoed one of the stories in Stolen Years.

The book itself was a fairly simple read, 10 stories about different people from all walks of life: different states, different socio-economic classes; some parents, some not; some young and some old; male and female – but the one thing these people all had in common, was that they were found guilty (either via a judge or a jury) for a crime that they didn’t commit and all of whom spent significant time in prison – the least amount of time in the book was ten years, others were in the twenty year plus range. I think for me, the story that really hit me the hardest was the one about the father who spent 10 years in jail for raping his daughter, only to have her recant – her reasoning, she was angry that he wasn’t spending enough time with her and her sister. And even after his release, she continued to threaten him with reporting him again whenever she got mad at him. I was honestly just dumbstruck after reading his story, I couldn’t believe what that girl (now woman did).

One of the things that has come in some of my recent non-fiction reading has been the need for prison reform – the need to better rehabilitate prisoners who are released (either due to their sentences being complete, or in cases such as this, being found innocent and sentences vacated). The lack of social reintegration for these former prisoners was emphasized the issue even more – when you have individuals who have been in jail for sometimes decades, when they make comments like computers being very limited when they went to prison and now they are an integral part of our lives. How do you overcome something like this? Stolen Years is one of those books that anyone interested in social justice should read; it should be required reading for any student who may become involved in the legal system; people who are involved with making laws and working in the prison system. Heck, it should be required reading for pretty much anyone, I would lay odds, if you had asked any of the people who had their stories told in Stolen Years, prior to their convictions, if they would have thought this would have happened to them – and I’ll lay odds, they’d say never!

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – A Love to Last – Kelsey Browning

a love to lastA Love to Last
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #1 in Prophecy of Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Her boots were made for walking…

Drifter Delaney Shields plans to breeze through Prophecy, Texas, before setting off on an around-the-world trip of a lifetime. She never expects to see sexy-as-sin Cal Maddox, the man she ran out on a decade ago. One look between them and their past attraction ignites, flaming hotter than ever. But acting on it would be disastrous because she’s not the sticking kind, and Cal has roots a mile deep.

Cal Maddox left the military only to find both the health of his dad and his hometown failing. When Delaney walks into his father’s custom boot shop, she spurs emotional memories and sexual fantasies Cal has no business indulging in. Especially once he realizes she’s the next Prophecy bootmaker, the only person who can design custom cowboy boots with the power to change a person’s destiny. But if fanning those old flames will keep her in Prophecy, he’s willing to take the heat, even if it means keeping secrets and risking his heart again.

Duty and desire throw Cal and Delaney together, but will their feelings be strong enough to forge a new bond or will they destroy their second chance at love?

Review:
Sometimes when everything looks dull and dreary in the world, you just need to curl up under the covers with a favorite author and read their newest release and that is just what I did when Kelsey Browning’s newest book came out. It had been a fairly crappy week in the world with different events, so all I wanted to do was shut down and find my happy place. And from the time I picked up A Love to Last, to finishing up the final page, I was in my happy place. Unfortunately, as with previous books, my enjoyment ended all too soon because of my inability to stop reading her stuff once I start (and yes, that makes for some long days following book releases…)

Anyone who follows Kelsey on social media has probably seen the picture of her sitting in a chair with her feet, clad in cowboy boots sticking out to the side – so when I saw that the book had a basis in a company that designs and makes custom boots. Added to that, the whole idea of a prophecy boot – a boot that has its exact pair in your soul (or is it sole) mate. And to make a triple whammy, A Love to Last is a second chance romance which is one of my favorite tropes in the romance genre.

there is something about Delaney that made me both jealous of how footloose and fancy free she was, but at the same time, making me want to execute a well-placed Gibbs slap. And yet, at the same time, I just wanted to give her a hug because that just seemed to be what she needed. And while I know Cal was there for her, yeah, well….lol. And then there was Cal – wanting to be all that his family needed, but not quite fitting the bill when it comes to inheriting his father’s legacy as the prophecy boot maker. I think we have probably all felt that – the desire to be something that maybe just wasn’t meant to be.

As always, the romance of Delaney and Cal was supported with a very colorful cast of characters, including Cal’s father, the current (and ornery prophecy bootmaker), as well as siblings, and townspeople. I’m excited to see where this series goes over the next couple of books. A solid 4 stars and can’t wait for me – a perfect read for a rainy day.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Designed for Murder – Avery Flynn

designed for murderDesigned for Murder
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #4 in the Killer Style series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Some fashion statements can kill…

Mika Ito combines her two favorite things in life—textile design and live-action role-playing (LARP)—by creating costumes for her fellow Magic Battledome gamers. Lately, someone’s been assaulting LARPers and stealing their costumes. Concerned for the safety of her friends, Mika hires Maltese Security…only to discover that the lead investigator is the super-hot stranger she just hooked up with.

Carlos Castillo is all too familiar with Magic Battledome. A former legend in role-playing circles, he was all about gaming, until things went very, very wrong for him. Now he’s forced to return to the game undercover—as Mika’s boyfriend—to find some answers. Only playing “boyfriend” with his gorgeous one-night stand is more temptation than a guy can withstand…

Someone wants the costumes enough to kill for them. And when it comes to murder, nothing is what it seems…

Review:
So this is my second attempt at writing a review for Designed for Murder because wordpress decided to eat my original one (and its still lost somewhere in cyberspace…I wonder if that is like a parallel dimension that is where missing socks and tupperware lids also end up?) But back to the adventure that was Designed for Murder. So being that this was the fourth book in the series, it was like coming back to visit a family – or rather, turning to a trusted company to help you out of scrape.

Anyways, when I finished the previous book in the series, I wondered if Carloes (or ‘los) was going to get his own book. He had had a pretty tumultuous ride in the previous books, ending it a pretty massive betrayal and making decisions that separated him from things that he loved and was known for. But then Mika, the heroine in Designed for Murder comes along and it is Carlos’ unique skills that she needs to help her solve the case of who is assaulting the members of her court. Yes, her court because the basis of Designed for Murder is LARP or live-action role-playing. I’ll admit that I know like next to nothing about it, but I love that non-traditional hobbies are starting to make more of an appear in genre fiction.

I found the mystery element of the story to be well-done and kept me guessing until not long before it was revealed. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the series was how looking back there were small clues, that I just completely missed in my initial read. But at the same time, that is one of the things I love about Avery’s writing – she always keeps me guessing until the very end. I gave Designed for Murder a solid 4 stars with Avery’s normally witty writing style and smexy scenes.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Book Review

 

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