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review 2017-03-28 15:49
As Luck Would Have It by Alissa Johnson
As Luck Would Have It - Alissa Johnson

Sophie has spent the last 12 years travelling abroad and has returned to learn that her family’s fortune and their beloved estate are now in jeopardy. For some reason that doesn’t require thinking too hard about, it was left in the hands of an unscrupulous cousin. Sophie is approached by a weird little man who updates her on the situation and asks her to spy on her shady cousin and his associates in exchange for the money she now so desperately needs.

 

Why not, she thinks. She’s adventurous and nearly destitute and agrees even though she has absolutely no experience in spying. Now don’t worry if you’re not a fan of spy books because I’m not either. The spying bit isn’t a big thing. Actually, don’t think about the spying and the setup and most of the plot points or your head may explode. Read this one for the refreshing connection between the characters.

 

Soon after becoming a newly hatched spy, Sophie meets Alex. Alex is a Duke and a sexy, sexy rake and he has plenty of secrets of his own. There is an instant and strong connection the moment they meet. No, it’s not that insta-love crapola I’m so sick of reading, this connection is the real thing. You feel it in every bit of witty dialogue they share. This is how connections should be written. Their romance development is fun, sexy and smart. They’re well matched but, alas, this is a historical romance and there must be obstacles.

 

The obstacles come in the way of treachery, secrets, some silliness and Sophie’s worries brought on by a tragic event in her past. She has a hang-up about luck and balancing it out. I get it. My life is very much the same way. Whenever I go to bed thinking life is pretty alright, I wake up to a puddle of pee or something even more disgusting like a beheaded mouse. This is life, is it not? Sophie takes this balancing out of the luck business so far that it quickly begins to feel contrived and truthfully it began to drive me nuts in the last act.

 

So what we have here is a mostly light-hearted romance with amusing characters that’s only marred by several less than mind-blowing reveals at the end. 

 

Narration Notes: Narrator Carmen Rose does an excellent job with this audio version by Tantor. She has a lovely accent which turns slightly snooty whenever necessary and completely fits the tone of the book and each character she portrays. There weren’t any missteps that threw me out of the story and I can easily recommend searching out her performance if you’re an audiobook fan.

 

FTC Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this audiobook in exchange for a review from Tantor Media. I hope they don’t regret it!

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review 2017-03-13 18:47
Can't Touch This by Tess Hunter (audio)
Can't Touch This - Tess Hunter,Pepper Winters

I cannot lie even when I receive free things. This book and I did not start off well (but it did get better!).

Vesper is a young, beautiful woman dedicated to her veterinarian practice. She doesn’t want a man messing up her life. Ryder is a dedicated dog rescuer living off of an inheritance. He drops in whenever he needs assistance because he’s cocky, has a crush on Vesper and her website does say drop-ins are welcome, after all. Vesper is instantly annoyed every time he appears without an appointment and demands all of her attention. He once told her, “If you save my wiener, I’ll bring you 20 more” and he wasn’t kidding. But she’s sick of him dropping in whenever he pleases. They bicker, they make totally unprofessional sexual comments and I was quickly getting sick of both of them. Of course, I’ve also been told that I have no sense of humor. So there is that.

Once he brings in said wiener dog, the wiener jokes start. Now, humor is a very funny thing. What some might find LMFAO hilarious can make someone else go all cringy.

I’ll let the doggies express my feelings.

After I read the first wiener joke I was all.



When it was quickly followed up with another.



And just when I began to think that I was finally safe from the wiener and the salami and all of the hotdogs, a ridiculous thing happens with the wiener and the heroine’s face.



Ok, I absolutely had to get that out of the way. The first few chapters are awesome if you love wiener jokes. I’ve discovered that I do not. I only plowed on because the hero rescues dogs and because I’m so good natured, ha. And do you know what? It got better. It really did get better.

The unrealistic banter calms down, the forced funny scenarios smooth out and what follows is a lusty, sweet confection that I’m glad I continued to read. It even managed to make me LOL at one point. I never LOL in real life. There isn’t a heck of a lot of conflict keeping the two apart and I enjoyed that. There is a lot of coitus interruptus and delayed sexual gratification but that only served to add to the sexual tension and didn’t bug me. Ryder is actually a decent guy who is devoted to his calling of doing good for the animals who need him and it added a level of emotion to the story that worked for me. After the rocky beginning was but a memory, I pretty much fell in love with the rest of the book. I say “pretty much” because there was one irritating bump in the road which I will not spoil. All ends HEA and I’m glad I didn’t DNF after the fifth wiener joke.

Narration Notes: The story is told from both the heroine and hero’s POV and is narrated by two voice actors, CJ Bloom and Eric Michael Summerer, who both do a decent job but because the story is told in the first person it was sometimes a little difficult for me to discern if the person was speaking out loud or thinking to themselves.

 

So, how'd I feel about it all in the end?  Just like this . . . 

 



Thank you Tantor Media for sharing this audio with me. I hope you don't regret it!

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text 2017-03-07 15:25
DNF Review: Snow by Ronald Malfi
Snow - Ronald Malfi

Snow is about a guy and a gal who first meet at an airport. They end up stranded when their flights are cancelled due to a snowstorm. They, very unwisely if you ask me, decide to rent a car and drive to their destinations instead. During a blizzard.

 

 

Bad and bloody things happen because more than snow has come rolling in with the blizzard. It has a lot of gore, action and even a religious wingnut BUT . . .

 

I am sad to say that this one was a DNF. The writing was good, there was attention to atmosphere and to character but I just didn’t love it and found myself daydreaming. The characters and their plight did not move me. After the fifth attempt at getting it done, I put it aside for the final time at the 50% mark.

 

It could be my mood (probably), or the fact that I sort of recently read a similar book and didn’t love that one either (Chills by Mary SanGiovanni) but whatever the reason I tired of the struggle and pulled the plug. It has lots of fantastic reviews by many of my trusted friends but alas it wasn’t meant for me.

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review 2017-03-01 19:03
Bones Would Rain from the Sky by Suzanne Clothier, Narrated by Pam Ward
Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs - Suzanne Clothier,Pam Ward

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. Thanks Tantor!

I’ll be real here. I requested this audiobook because of the cover. I had a vague idea that this was a book of dog stories and had seen the title around for years (yikes, I just realized this is likely because the hardcover is sitting in my tbr pile!) but I had to have it because that cover called out to me.

Come on now, don’t tell me you aren’t tempted by that lovely cover because I won’t believe you.

Dog trainer and author Suzanne Cloutier loves animals.

“To travel in the company of animals is to walk with angels.”

If you feel the same, you’ll benefit in some way from reading this book.

So what’s it about? Well, the author is an experienced dog trainer and here she shares stories and lessons that she has learned over the years while working with dogs. This isn’t a book about how to train your dog to sit or heel or down-stay. This is a book on how best to deepen your relationship with your dog and how to learn to look at life through their eyes. I found that advice and those vignettes the most important take-away from this book. It’s easy to get stressed and irritated when your dog misbehaves and ignores your commands/demands/frantic pleas but taking a moment to calm yourself and see things from their perspective (and the author shows several examples which were so incredibly helpful) may help improve both their behavior and yours. I am totally guilty of being impatient and anxious and giving my poor dogs mixed signals and then I’m left wondering why they’re not doing what I think they should be doing. It also made me more aware of being present, instead of being all up in my own head (hey, I’m a Pisces) and then wondering why my dog has nearly taken my fingers off to get to the chicken in my hand. This book opened me up to my behavior and has made me stop and pause on several occasions.

The author comes across as human, sprinkling in some humor and admits to some of the terrible mistakes she’s made. She owns them and she’s learned from them and she is not perfect. She goes into in-depth discussions about aggression and the mislabeling of aggression that often results in tragedy and how to read warning signs before things escalate. I learned more about aggression and reading signals from this book than I did from any of the training manuals I’ve read in the past.

It’s not a read in one sitting kind of book, unless you’re really into this kind of thing, because some of this information needs to be digested and given a little time to sink in. At least that was the case with me. The ending made me weepy, as she recalls some of the stories of illness and death which is inevitable when you love any living creature but it’s not of the dragged out “Marley & Me” variety. There are beautiful insights about animal and human behavior inside the pages and it basically comes to down to treating those you love with kindness, empathy and sharing all of your love in order to strengthen your relationship. That’s advice the world needs to hear. This book will be a yearly reread for me, for sure.

The version I read was narrated by Pam Ward who has a strong, clear, accessible voice that fills with emotion when the words call for it. If you dig audio, Buddy, Bailey and I highly recommend reading this version.

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Challenge Update:
Audiobook Challenge: Book #7
HA Mount TBR Challenge: Book #11
HA Pages Read Challenge
2017 Horror Reading Challenge Book #8 Not a horror novel


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review 2017-02-24 19:26
Coco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale
Coco Butternut (Hap and Leonard Adventure) - Joe R. Lansdale

Hap and Leonard (and their two accomplices) return for another zany caper.  Forever short on funds, the two agree to another weird job. The deceased body of a beloved wiener dog has gone missing from the cemetery and the dognapper wants cash or else . . .  Hap and Leonard step in to make the exchange.

 

Sure sounds easy enough to me. All they need to do is hand over the cash, grab the dead dog and collect their pay day.  Nothing is ever that easy with these two. Unable to leave well enough alone, they discover things they shouldn't know and find themselves wrapped up in a little mystery that they can’t let alone.

 

I’ve missed a few Hap and Leonard books somewhere along the way and now they are apparently running a PI service with Hap’s girlfriend and his grown daughter Chase (where’d she come from?!). This was a little disconcerting but it’s my fault for reading the series out of order, as I do. The characters are smart-asses as always but they didn’t seem to have that dark sarcastic edge to their insults that used to make me laugh, almost out loud. This installment was also pretty tame when it came to the violence and I never felt as if any of our leads were in grave peril.

 

It was entertaining but a little too tame for my expectations.

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