Monday, July 30, 2018

Audio Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Random House Studios
Format: Audio
Length: 45 minutes
Narrator: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Genre: Essay
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Review:

Short essay which beautifully illustrates what it means to be a feminist.  Gender equality should still be at the forefront of our minds, just as racial equality. They are not the same and they are not something that we should ignore or think that it is a thing of the past.  Are things better, sort of but not really. Being a feminist gets a bad rap but why? Why is it a bad thing to want equality between men and women? I guess it comes down to a culture where someone always needs to be lower on the scale than someone else. Being a feminist isn't just something that women should consider themselves but also men.  When men step up for equality it helps to change the culture. This short essay is well worth the read or the listen.




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Friday, July 27, 2018

Audio Book Review: A Reason to Believe by Diana Copeland

Release Date: October 22, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 06 minutes
Narrator: Jack LeFleur
Genre: Mystery / Romance/LGBT M/M
Buy: Audible | Kindle | 

Synopsis: 

Detective Matthew Bennett doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he's shaken to the core--and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan's claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan's been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he's willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees--but love offers a reason to believe...

Review:

Kiernan and Matthew Bennett make a great team. I could totally see a whole series centered around the two of them. Bennett is a cop, he doesn't believe in ghosts, well at least he didn't think so until one led him to her body and continues to come to him at night. Kiernan makes his living by talking to ghosts. A famous TV psychic Kiernan has been talking to ghosts since he was a child.

This is a great murder mystery/romance. While Bennett and Kiernan struggle to find the correct killer and help Abby, the ghost haunting Bennett, they also find a strong bond holding them together. The mystery is twisted and interesting and Kiernan is a fun character with his quirky t-shirt collection, fabulous Irish accent and great wit. Bennett is just trying to hold on to his career and solve a case he has been told to stay away from and could he also be falling in love?

The mystery is more important than the romance, even though the romance is great. I love that there was more to this book than just the romance. Well written and fun I seriously hope that this author comes back to these characters.





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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Audio Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Release Date: August 2, 2007
Publisher: Random House Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 9 minutes
Narrator: Phillip Franklin
Genre: Travel Biography
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life.  Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said  to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. 

Review:

Fascinating read about Chris McCandless who decided to leave his wealthy family behind and live on the road or off the land. In the time that he was on the road he met several people and forged interesting relationships.  It was remarkable that despite only have known McCandless for a short time he made a large impact on so many people.

In his fateful journey into the Alaskan wilderness his life has become legend that people either think is crazy and he was just unprepared or that he was an inspiration leaving behind wealth and privilege to live a "simple" life of self discovery. Regardless of your take his journey is miraculous even to the end. Krakauer definitely can relate to this young man and understood his drive and motivations as only someone who is drawn to risk and adventure can.

This is a well written book that gives some insight into a young dreamer who lived life on his terms.





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Monday, July 23, 2018

Audio Book Review: This is Me: Loving the Person You are Today by Chrissy Metz

Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 26 minutes
Narrator: Chrissy Metz
Genre: Self Help/Memoir
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

In This is Me, Chrissy Metz shares her story with a raw honesty that will leave readers both surprised but also inspired. Infused with the same authenticity she brings to her starring role, Chrissy’s This is Me is so much more than your standard Hollywood memoir or collection of personal essays. She embraces the spirit of Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, and shares how she has applied the lessons she learned fromboth setbacks and successes. A born entertainer, Chrissy finds light in even her darkest moments, and leaves the reader feeling they are spending time with a friend who gets it.

Chrissy Metz grew up in a large family, one that always seemed to be moving, and growing. Her father disappeared one day, leaving her mother to work a series of menial jobs and his children to learn to live with the threat of hunger and the electricity being cut off. When her mother remarried, Chrissy hoped for “normal” but instead experienced a form of mental pain that seemed crafted just for her. The boys who showed her attention did so with strings attached as well, and Chrissy accepted it, because for her, love always came with conditions.

With chapters that alternate from autobiographical to instructional, Chrissy offers practical applications of her hard-won insights in a series of “Bee Mindful” interstitials. There she invites you to embrace gratitude in “Say Thank You” or to be honest with your partner and yourself in “The Shrouded Supreme.” Blending love and experience, Chrissy encourages us all to claim our rightful place in a world that may be trying to knock us down, find our own unique gifts, and pursue our dreams.

Review:

Beautiful, heart wrenching and captivating. This isn't just a memoir about Chrissy's life and how she got to where she is today but also holds life lessons for us all.  Similar to You are a badass, this book is filled with life experiences of believing in yourself and things will fall in line. Don't underestimate yourself and go for your dreams because if you believe it, really believe it, it will happen. There are life lessons in everything that happens and Chrissy really has learned how to focus on the positive and stay in gratitude even when things aren't always going her way. I loved this actress before and her work on This is us is phenomenal but after reading this I've fallen in love with her a little more.

This book is engaging and I didn't want to stop listening.  Her struggles and pain are put out there for everyone to know they aren't alone if they are experiencing these things. Her wins and success are also out there and they are well deserved. What a beautiful soul.





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Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Review: Orphan X: A novel by Gregg Hurwitz

Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: ebook
Pages: 367 pages
Genre:  Mystery/ Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio

Synopsis: 

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them. But he’s not merely a legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: An assassin. Evan was Orphan X—until he broke with the program and used everything he learned to disappear. But now someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training who will exploit Evan’s secret new identity as the Nowhere Man to eliminate him.

Review:

Trained as an assassin as a child Evan broke with his government and disappeared reinventing himself as the Nowhere Man.  Evan helps those who are desperate, not seeking payment but for those he helps to pay it forward and give his number to someone else they feel could use his help.

His latest case is different and he realizes that someone is using his new identity to flush him out - no he just has to figure out who and why.

This is a fast paced thriller that reminds me of the beginning of the Bourne series, except in this Evan isn't just trying to blend in, he uses his talents to help those who are desperate. It was interesting to see Evan evolve in this book and to read about his beginnings and how his trainer didn't just want to create an assassin but someone who didn't lose their humanity along the way.

The character development of several of the supporting characters is well done and I felt invested in what happened to them. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ARC Book Review: The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook
Pages: 368 pages
Genre:  Mystery/ Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Cecilia Wilborg has it all--a loving husband, two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous home in the affluent Norwegian town of Sandefjord. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard. Because one mistake from her past could bring it all crashing down around her.

Annika Lucasson lives a dark life with her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend. She's lost everything one too many times and now she's got one last chance to save herself, thanks to Cecilia. Annika knows her secret--and just how much she's willing to do to make it all go away...

When someone forgets to pick up their little boy at the local pool, Cecilia agrees to take him home, only to find an abandoned, empty house. It's the first step in the unraveling of her meticulously crafted life, as her and Annika's worlds collide.

Review:

I love Scandinavian mysteries...they are usually dark, gloomy and slower paced than most American mysteries and they don't always have tidy endings.  This book definitely fits the bill but I really struggled with the characters.  Its saying something when you have more compassion for the abused drug dealer than you do for the well off society girl.

Cecilia is a calculating, society climber who is scared to lose her social position. She loves her family but isn't very happy.  She is stressed out, privileged and always popping pills. Annika has struggled with addiction most of her life including her addiction to her abusive boyfriend who she keeps going back to no matter how horrible he is to her or for her.  Trapped in the middle of these women is Tobias a sweet 8 year old boy who has seen more in his young life than he ever should. I think my heart broke for this little boy over and over as I read this book and the ending left me as cold as if I had fallen through the ice on a river. There is no tidy ending to this one and you are left wondering where does everyone go from here. I think I may have enjoyed it more with just a little more of a wrap up at the end I was very invested in Tobias by the end and to leave things as Dahl did leaves me needing closure.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Audio Book Review: Seven Series 7-1- by Dannika Dark

Publisher: Tantor
Format: Audible
Narrator: Nicole Poole 
Genre: Romance
Buy: Amazon

Synopsis: 

The Seven Series follows the lives of the Westin pack. Most of the males in this pack are part of the same family. The Cole brothers all follow their brother Austin who is the leader of the Westin pack. As each man struggles to find and keep their mate they also struggle against outside forces that try to tear them all apart.

These books count down from 7 so 7 is the first and it goes from there.

Review:

These books are a great mix of romance and action.  This combined combined with a pack made up of family members and a few others that care about each other. Even when that caring isn’t always reciprocated the way it should be. These are great paranormal romance books.  Each one can be read as a standalone but they all seem to have a common thread that is best read in order.


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Friday, July 13, 2018

Audio Book Review: Old Loyalty, New Love (L'Ange book 1) by Mary Calmes

Release Date: September 22, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Format: Audio
Length: 8 hours 3 minutes
Narrator: Tristan James
Genre: Romance/Supernatural
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

When jackal shifter Quade Danas was banished from his pack for being gay, he spent years in the military escaping his father's prejudice before returning to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man. After Roman is in an accident that leaves him physically scarred and emotionally distant, Quade is the only one who can get through to him. As Roman becomes a man, he realizes what he wants—his bodyguard by his side and in his bed. Unfortunately, Quade can’t seem to see past the kid Roman once was to the man he has become, certain Roman’s feelings are merely misplaced gratitude. But Roman knows a lot more than Quade realizes, and he’s used to persevering, no matter how many impediments life throws his way. He wants the chance to prove to Quade that he’s strong enough for a jackal alpha to call mate.

Despite the decades Quade has been away, and the heartache of his father’s rejection, his inborn loyalty to the pack remains, and his abrupt departure left the jackal shifters without an alpha heir. As a psychopath shifter staking claim as alpha draws Quade back home, and Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.

Review:

This was a good story but I felt a little lost in places.  The author didn't seem to really change his voice for the characters so when you have two male lead characters when "he"is talking it takes a moment to figure out who "he" is.  I think I may try the next book in this series on kindle instead of Audio.

There are several great themes through this book but the biggest is acceptance.  Acceptance for who you are and what you look like.  Roman was scarred in a horrific accident and despite Quade wanting to find a match for him Roman knows that his looks prevent most people from actually seeing him. Quade and the pack however don't even seem to notice the scars and only see the man that he is. Quade was kicked out of his pack by his father, the Alpha, because he was gay, when his sister shows up he is surprised but happy to see her, while she is scared he will reject her for not standing up for him despite the fact she was only a child at the time.  Both of these situations were handled really well and I applaud Calmes for her insight.

Well done shifter book that has potential to be a pretty good series.



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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Audio Book Review: Garrett, Brent, Grant & Bryce (Bound and Controlled Books 1-4) by Shaw Montgomery

Publisher: Shaw Montgomery
Format: Audio
Narrator: Kenneth Obi
Genre: Romance
Buy: Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Garrett: 
Garrett was at his breaking point.
There were only so many times in a week you should have to see someone you were...attracted to...infatuated with...but certainly didn’t have a crush on. Doms didn’t have those. Especially on a customer who probably wasn’t even gay, much less a sub. Business 101 - do not flirt with a client.
Wyatt was losing his mind.
Hiding his obsession was getting harder and harder. All he wanted to do was kneel in front of Garrett and call him Master. But the sexy insurance agent never seemed to see him. He only noticed the nervous, awkward insured who came in way too often.
When the two men are missing what’s right in front of their faces, it might take family stepping in to point out the obvious. That they were meant for each other.
Brent: 
Brent had fallen for the one Dom he couldn't have.
Brent's legendary bad luck when it came to men was undeniable. If there was a wanna-be Dom in a hundred miles, he found them. But even he couldn't have predicted what would happen next. Mixed signals and too much time off won't make it any better, or will it? 
Calen had fallen for the one sub he couldn't have.
Calen knew most considered him the seen-them-and-leave-them type of Dom, but how could he stay when he knew they wouldn't understand? When you're a Dom who doesn't match up to stereotypes, can you ever find the right submissive?
Grant:
Grant had found his perfect man...wrapped in silk and lace.
Grant had always loved more feminine men. A sexy guy in lingerie just did it for him. But when you looked more like a bouncer than an insurance agent, the pretty guys ran for the hills. Carter seemed different, though. When he looked at Grant, he saw the real man underneath the tattoos and muscles. Could Grant make him understand that he liked Carter just the way he was, or would Carter's doubts keep them apart?
Carter had found his perfect man...sweet, sexy, and built like a tank.
Grant didn't seem to mind Carter's more feminine look, but was he too good to be true? One bad date after another had left Carter gun-shy. Now, he had Mr. Right standing at his doorway. Did he have the courage to be himself and let Grant in, or would his fears keep them apart?
Bryce:
He'd watched them for so long it probably counted as stalking. 
Bryce was confident when it came to work and his family, but hesitant when it involved relationships. He'd found subs that he pulled to him and Doms that could make his knees weak for a scene or two, but no one that tugged at his heart or who could understand what it was like to be both a Dom and a sub - until he'd seen Troy and Oliver. 
They'd watched him for so long they decided to keep him. 
Bryce hovered around them like a moth drawn to a flame. He circled and watched but never came closer, never approached them. Troy and Oliver were tired of waiting. They knew they needed a third to make them complete, and they knew they needed Bryce. But was he ready? They didn't want a one-night stand or a casual fling. They wanted everything with the confused switch who'd caught their eye and possibly their hearts. 

Review:

Figured it was easier to put these books all in one review.  These four brothers are all into BDSM as were their parents so they are all very open and accepting of the lifestyle.  One by one the brothers find their soul mates and their mother who is off traveling tries to keep tabs on her boys until her curiosity gets the better of her and the Domme returns.

She has taught her boys to respect their subs and requires a collar before one decides to live with one. This is a fun well done series...each brother with quirks of their own navigating their sex life and their personal life along with their insurance business which seems to employ only people accepting of their unique lives.




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Monday, July 9, 2018

Audio Book Review: Ripper by Isabel Allende

Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 14 hours 32 minutes
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Though their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda's father, she's reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her - Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco's elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature - as is her father, the SFPD's deputy chief of homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior Amanda is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and to Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, probing hints and deductions that elude the police department. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother's disappearance have something to do with the series of deaths? Now, with her mother's life on the line, Amanda must solve the most complex mystery she's ever faced before it's too late.

Review:

I love Allende's books.  This was her first foray into mystery.  I was a little lost in the beginning just due to there being so many characters. I did eventually catch on but I think that this would be better read than listened to.

 Amanda is a precocious young woman who is obsessed with crime.  She forms a group called Ripper who investigate crimes and talk about different serial killers. Her grandfather is a part of the group and helps his granddaughter with her strange obsession. Amanda's father is a police officer giving her and her grandfather access to a lot of the police files. When people start dying Amanda and her team try to solve the murders.  While the victims seems random is there a connection?

This is well written with Amanda drawing you in and helping you get caught up in the investigation. You get pulled along and then Indiana, Amanda's mother goes missing and solving the case becomes so much more important. As they get closer and closer the book picks up speed. The killer was actually a surprise and the ending well done. I would recommend reading this instead of getting it as an audio book



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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

ARC Book Review: Erasing Memory (a MacNeice Mystery) by Scott Thornley

Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Spiderline
Format: ebook
Pages: 332 pages
Genre:  Mystery/ Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Detective Superintendent MacNeice is returning from a pilgrimage to his wife’s grave when he’s called to a crime scene of singular and disturbing beauty. A young woman in evening dress lies gracefully posed on the floor of a pristine summer cottage so that the finger of one hand regularly interrupts the needle arm of a phonograph playing Schubert’s Piano Trio. The only visible mark on her is the bruise under her chin, which MacNeice recognizes: it is the mark that distinguishes dedicated violinists, the same mark that once graced his wife. The murder is both ingenious and horrific, and soon entangles MacNeice and his team in Eastern Europe’s ancient grievances.

Review:

This is a really good police procedural set in Canada. MacNeice leads an interesting team of detectives all with their own quirks.  This is a smart book and MacNeice is a complex man of many talents, he recently lost his wife and seems to be grieving but you see hints of him starting to move on.

The characters are well developed and you really start to get a feel for them before the end of the book. The mystery is disturbing but not too graphic or gory and most of the action centers around the actual police work in trying to solve the case. There is a big emphasis on team work and not just one great cop getting all the glory. Each one has their moment to shine.

I believe this is the first of a new series and can't wait to see where the author takes this.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Audio Book Review: Lady X by Claudy Conn

Release Date: August 6, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: Audio
Length: 14 hours 12 minutes
Narrator: Ian Ruane
Genre: Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Exerilla is a white witch. Her father is a dark and dangerous warlock with an agenda to marry her to someone she despises. He has the power to do this before she reaches her majority, which will occur at Samhain, Halloween. Her mother has a plan and against her daughter's will, implements that plan, which sends Exerilla into the past, where she must remain until October 31st - months away. And magic is something she can't use because her father could trace it to her. Here is the problem, plans have a way of seeping from black and white into gray.

Review:

This book had some potential but it wanted to be too many things at one time. The romance worked for me but then toward the end everything just sped quickly toward a neat ending. It could have used a little more time. There are many subplots that if you aren't careful will leave you scratching your head about where you got lost. While the subplots were interesting they were just nuggets and then gone and sometimes they overtook the whole main plot. Overall the storyline was interesting I just wish the author had put a little more time into it not rushing it all to quickly in the end.





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