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Review – Baked Fresh – Annabeth Albert

baked freshBaked Fresh
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: #2 in the Portland Heat series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Netgalley

Description:
From its famous coffee to the mouthwatering fare at its cafés, restaurants, and bakeries, Portland, Oregon, has a lot to whet the appetite, including the hard-working men who serve it all up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter.

When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…

Review:
**This Review Includes SPOILERS**
When I picked up Baked Fresh, it had been a while since I had read any m/m romance because I had felt myself getting burnt out on it. However, a friend proposed Baked Fresh as a group read in one of my Goodreads groups and I was sufficiently intrigued that I decided to request it via netgalley. Unfortunately, my interest based on the description and cover soon waned…I had a hard time figuring out why but ultimately, I realized, that I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters/couldn’t emphathize/sympathize with them. Added to that, my mental image of the 2 characters didn’t match with what was on the cover – specifically, one of the charaters had weight loss surgery and was described as being cuddly and that isn’t a term I would use to describe either guy on the cover.

Aside from the whole cover disconnect, I felt like Robin and Vic just didn’t talk – there were so many discussions they should have had, that never occurred. For example, Robin is an ex-drug user, but you never find out when/why he became addicted or how he kicked the addiction. Or Vic, who had had the lapband surgery, never really addressed his personal issues with Robin – he was so insecure about who he was (I guess in part due to his size/weight issues), but for me, it just wasn’t enough. I felt empty when it came to their relationship. There was also a really quick transition in the relationship between Robin/Vic that just felt empty – it went from them not dating (or not wanting to date), not dating, not dating, don’t want to have sex, to jumping each others bones – I just wanted more.

Overall, I was disappointed in Baked Fresh because I was hoping for so much more – I don’t know if its because I hadn’t read the previous book in the series that may have set the scene a bit more…Overall, I gave Baked Fresh 2 stars

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Book Review

 

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ARC August – Intro and Goals

arc-august

So i’m not sure how I missed out on the awesome-ness that is apparently ARC August, but I was just saying to a friend (cough, Naomi) the other day that I had a ton of ARC’s off Netgalley that I needed to get read and reviewed, but I tend to get distracted with BSN (bright, shiny, new) books (yeah, I know ARC’s are BSN as well, but i’m easily distracted, what can I say!). So when I came across a Facebook post about ARC August (thanks Melissa!), I was intrigued and my explorations soon let me to the originators of this event, Octavia and Shelley at Read Sleep Repeat. So even though I’m a few days late, I’m throwing my book pile in the circle and joining in the fun!

It took me some time to examine all the books on my Netgalley account and try to figure out which ones I wanted to tackle during the upcoming month. Part of it was determined by which authors I really like and who get precedence from me when I get ARC’s of their books and others in part to fitting requirements for different reading challenges I am doing.

Planned ARC’s for August:

24737833After the War – Jessica Scott
A terrible loss…
Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget.
A love he never forgot…
Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget.
A dark secret…
As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.

22551743The Truth According to Us – Annie Barrows
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

25570582Rescuing an Angel – Ann Jacobs
One fateful misstep for Gayla Levine was all it took for her once-adoring fiancé to walk away and her demanding father to disown her. Determined to finally turn her life around and embrace her newfound independence, she wants nothing to do with men or relationships—until she meets Dan Newman, a sexy surgeon who sends a shock of electricity through her every time they touch.

Dan Newman has spent his life struggling to overcome his own crippling past by devoting himself to healing others who have suffered. Now a world-class surgeon, he’s confident in his ability to face anything life throws at him—until he meets a headstrong Texas beauty who has his pulse racing and fills his dreams with impossibly sensual visions.

As they fall into a passionate romance that takes them both to the burning edges of pleasure, these two damaged souls must both confront their darkest demons. Because Gayla is haunted by the echoes of being called a failure and torn by the fear that she’ll be rejected once again, and Dan, who has proved his worth to so many others, now must convince himself and Gayla that they deserve the powerful love they’ve found.

25528536Forget Me Not – Erika Marks
When aspiring-writer Mallory Reynolds packed up for New York City, she ditched more than her quiet hometown of Magnolia Bay—she left her high-school sweetheart, Josh Loveless, behind. But when the big city didn’t deliver big contracts on her novels, she turned to writing erotica under the pen name Farrah Ivory to spare her family any embarrassment. Soon, her scandalously-sexy series, The Lost Diaries of Scarlet, is a break-out hit. Just as Mallory begins to enjoy her sweet success, her publisher leaks her true identity and a media firestorm ensues. Exposed, she decides there’s nowhere to hide—except for home.

For Josh Loveless, getting over Mallory Reynolds hasn’t been easy, but he’s done his best to move on. For starters, he’s turned his love of the outdoors and rock-climbing into his own business. And just as things are starting to settle for him, he learns Mallory’s coming home to ride out her scandal, and suddenly his world is turned upside down again…

Can Mallory convince her friends and family that she’s still the same good-hearted girl they knew? And more importantly, can Josh trust the woman she’s become, and give her a second chance to rewrite their love story with a happy ending?

25935349Dodging Temptation – Avery Flynn
On the cusp of closing a multi-billion dollar deal, Dodge Loving can’t afford for anything go wrong at his ultra-exclusive luxury resort, where privacy isn’t just promised it’s guaranteed. So when he finds paparazzi hiding in the bushes, he’ll do anything to get rid of them-even if it means firing their target: the sexy, stuck up bookworm his mom hired.

Harper Conner just wants to be left alone to catalog the resort’s rare cowboy diaries. But after slapping her cheating senator ex-husband during a televised press conference-she’s a hot commodity for the tabloids.

Alone for the first time, without the protection of her political dynasty of a family, she can’t afford to get fired-especially by the Type-A jerk who runs the place. And she definitely should never have kissed him. Now Harper has two choices: get outta Dodge…or fall in love with him.

22009625Best Bi Short Stories – Sheela Lambert (Editor)
Best Bi Short Stories is the first book of its kind, a literary anthology bringing together the very finest representations of bisexuality in fiction. The bisexuality of characters, like in real people, can be invisible to readers unless explicitly brought to their attention. Invisibility leads to underrepresentation, and on bookstore shelves that has certainly been true. Best Bi Short Stories hopes to change that by presenting the very best quality, cast in a bold light. With an all-star author lineup ranging from Katherine Forrest to Jane Rule, Ann Herendeen to Jan Steckel, and curated by longtime bi activist Sheela Lambert, Best Bi Short Stories encompasses several genres. The authors are a diverse group, as well, and Lambert sought representation across age groups, cultures, ethnicities and sexualities in both the authors and stories, demonstrating the richness of bi experience.

18453252Delectable – Adrianne Lee
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 . . .

18484795A Million Miles Away – Lara Avery
When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

So there it is, my list of books for ARC August…of course, I have some special books set aside to reward myself if I finish these ones, but you’ll just have to come back and see what they are – because I’m not going to reveal them until I reach my goal 😉

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in ARC August, Reading Events

 

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Audiobook Review – My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan – Seth Rudetsky

the audies

awful awesome popularity planMy Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan
Author: Seth Rudetsky

Narrated by: Seth Rudetsky, Andrea Burns, Paul Castree, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Gad, Ana Gasteyer, Megan Hilty, Marc Kudisch, Will Swenson, James Wesley
Run Time: 5hr and 15 minutes
Produced By: Audible, Inc

Description:
Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the “in” crowd sits.

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn’t shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he’s not gay; he’s dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky’s dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky’s dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck’s bound to find Justin irresistible, right? What could go wrong?

Review:
One thing I have loved about listening to books nominated for the Audie Awards is that it made me find authors that I had never before read and narrators I had never before listened to. And in the case of My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan, I got a double dose – with a new author, plus getting to listen to his narration/interpretation of his characters. I got to also listen to the fabulous narration by Megan Hilty (who stars in my favorite, although now cancelled show, SMASH – boo hoo). I think I spent almost the entire time chuckling at Justin’s antics. He was the epitome of the high school geek. I have to wonder how much of the book was based on the author’s experiences. There seemed to be a sense of realism that doesn’t always appear in books (that, or he never truly left his teenage years…).

To say where the plot put forth by Justin was insane, would be an understatement…I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. It was like listening to a comedy of errors as the school-year progressed. Rudetsky managed to pack nearly a full-year of high school trials and tribulations into a relatively short book (I mean, the audiobook was just over 5 hours long). I enjoyed the various narrators who participated in the book. I thought that the director found the right blend of youthful innocence and snarky humor in their voices. I also appreciated the fact that at the beginning of the book, the various narrators were introduced and the characters that they were portraying was mentioned. This really helped me be able to put a voice to a character rather than all of the various narrators blending together. This, to me, is something that I have discovered to be important in multi-narrator books.

I gave My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan a solid 4 stars and I know that I will be seeking out more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – October Mourning – Lesléa Newman

the audies

october mourningOctober Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
Author: Lesléa Newman

Narrated By: Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister
Run Time: 1 hr and 19 minutes
Produced by: Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

Description:
On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

Review:
I remember being in high school when Matthew Shepard was attacked and died and 1998. It made shock-waves around the world – even my small town in Australia heard about it. Until then I had never really considered hate crimes and the pain they cause. Yes, I had heard of Rodney King and the attack on him – but in my homogenous community, it wasn’t really anything I had experienced or paid attention to. October Mourning was written in response to the attack on Matthew Shepard, and in part, can be used to educate the younger generation on what happened – since for many of them, they likely would not of/never will hear of it – except through something like this book of poetry.

I will say upfront, that poetry, normally isn’t my thing – I read it on rare occasions, but I don’t particularly enjoy it (maybe because I was forced to read it in high school so much). But since the audiobook was short (barely over an hour) – it was a quick/easy listen while I was out running errands one morning. I liked how the author wrote poems not only from the perspective of people involved (the guys who attacked Matthew, the bartending who was the last person to see him; friends and family) – but also animals (like Matthews cat) and inanimate objects (like the fence stake). It was an intriguing approach. The poems were also not poetry, in the normal/expected sense of the word, but rather free verse – some short, some long, lots of emphasis on different words and stylistic choices.

All of the narrators in the audiobook were new to me, with the exception of Kate Rudd. The narrators took turns for the most part with the narration – but there were a few poems where multiple voices were used. There was one (and now, I’m blanking on the title) – that started out with one voice, and one by one the voices joined in until they were narrating in unison, and then slowly died away until only the one voice remained. That poem in particular, gave me goosebumps as I heard it. I enjoyed the diversity of the voices and felt that the director did a good job of matching narration skills with the different perspectives being shown.

This is an audiobook that really made me think and remember, but I have a hard time rating it because of the topic/and the themes. So I am going to leave it unrated. I will say that people may need some tissues handy if you listen to it though. I can see why it was a Stonewall Honor book.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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2013 Armchair Audies – Multi-voiced Performance

Armchair Audies

Since I finished up my first category of nominations for the 2013 Armchair Audies (romance) and there was still a month and a bit before winners are to be annouced (sometime in May, I finished my category up in mid-April). I decided to take a look through the other categories and find one that no one was writing on and see if I could fit those books in prior to the announcement of the winners. I was surprised to see that there were several categories not being represented, and so I opted to do the Multi-Voice Performance Category. This is something totally new to me, I have listened to books with multiple narrators before (normally 2 or 3 – or in the case of The Help, 4). But never to the extend of the books that are being recognized in this category.

The nominations for this category are:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Narrated by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, Simon Prebble, and James Adams

My Awesome-Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky
Narrated by Seth Rudetsky, Andrea Burns, Paul Castree, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Gad, Ana Gasteyer, Megan Hilty, Marc Kudisch, Will Swenson, and James Wesley

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman
Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, and Christina Traister

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
Narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, Felicia Day, Joe Hurley, Katherine Kellgren, Nick Sullivan, and Neil Gaiman

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories by Etgar Keret
Translated by Nathan Englander (translator), Miriam Shlesinger (translator), and Sondra Silverston (translator)
Narrated by Ira Glass, Willem Dafoe, Ben Marcus, Gary Shteyngart, Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson, Nicole Krauss, and Josh Radnor

That Is All written by John Hodgman
Narrated by Dick Cavett, Patton Oswalt, Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, Sarah Vowell, Brooke Shields, Scott Adsit, Robin Goldwasser, Jonathan Coulton, John Roderick, Rachel Maddow, Wyatt Cenac, Stephen Fry, Paul F. Tompkins, and Prominent Ragnarok Denier Dr. Elliott Kalan

Initial Thoughts:
It was interesting to see the wide variety of genres presented here, from the classic Dracula to a book of poetry (October Mourning). I was also interested to see that for two of the books, the authors played a role in the narration. I’m looking forward to broadening my reading boundaries and listening to these books.

multivoice narration nominees

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Armchair Audies

 

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Review – Keeping You A Secret – Julie Anne Peters

keeping you a secretKeeping You A Secret
Author: Julie Anne Peters

Description:
With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of young love.

Review:
Holland Jaeger is the girl who by all appearances has it all – the girl that everyone wants to emulate. But life isn’t always as simple as that, especially when she discovers that she is gay. Suddenly her whole life changes in the space of an afternoon – the loss of family and friends, of all that is known to her was written in such a way by Ms Peters that it was terrifying and yet this is what many GLBT youth go through when they come out. I felt for Holland, I got teary-eyed when everything in her life started to change, and yet at the same time, when she picked herself up and said screw it to everyone, I cheered for her.

I felt that the author did a good job of exploring not only the teenage psyche (am I or aren’t I? what is going on?) as well as society’s acceptance/non-acceptance, and the different facets within (family, friends, school community, GLBT community). You (or at least I) could tell from the writing that this was something near and dear to the author’s heart, and that it was something that she likely had experience in. Which was confirmed when I finished the book and read her letter to the readers. She discussed the idea of writing a coming-out book and what risk it was to her and her partner, and the fear of what it might incite. Stuff that was similar to events in the story itself. You can easily see why this book was not only a Lambda Literary Award Finalist in 2003 (losing to Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan) and an ALA Stonewall Honor Book (an award given by the American Library Association every year for GLBT books). I know that I will most likely be looking for more books by this author in the future to try. Overall, 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year – Annameekee Hesik

The You Know Who Girls
Author: Annameekee Hesik

Review Copy Provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley

Book Description
Abbey Brooks, Gila High freshman-to-be, never thought a hellish day of shopping at the mall with her best friend, Kate, could change her life. But when she orders French fries from the flirtatious Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, she gets more than deep-fried potatoes. Abbey tries to ignore the weird, happy feeling in her gut, but that proves to be as impossible as avoiding the very insistent (and—rumor has it—very lesbian) players on Gila High’s girls’ basketball team. They want freakishly long-legged Abbey to try out, and Abbey doesn’t hate the idea. But Kate made Abbey pinky swear to avoid basketball and to keep away from the you-know-who girls on the team.

Sometimes promises can’t be kept. And sometimes girls in uniform are impossible to resist.

Review
Its hard for me to preface why I requested this book to read because I can honestly say that non-romancy LGBT fiction normally isn’t my thing. But there was just something that drew my attention in the description. And I am glad that I took the chance. It has been a while since I was in high school (but I’m not going to tell you how long…lol), but I still remember being that awkward freshman, trying to make new friends and find myself in the hierarchy that is a high school. I can’t imagine struggling with my sexuality, while going through those normal high school trials. While I was reading, I found that Ms Hesik managed to walk the fine line between the dramatic without being too angsty.

While for me the ending was only so-so, I enjoyed the vast majority of the book and I hope that she plans on writing more focusing on Abbey’s other years at Gila High, or if that isn’t possible, then maybe at least her senior year. Overall, I’d give this a solid 4 stars and will definately be looking for more by this author in the future.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Book Review

 

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