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review 2017-11-06 17:17
#Audiobook Review: Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen
Shooting for the Stars: Gravity, Book 3 - Blunder Woman Productions,Emma Wilder,Sarina Bowen,Noel Garraux Harrison

Stella Lazarus has loved her big brother’s best friend ever since she can remember. Stella tried to show Bear how she felt years ago, but he brushed her off. So she has to be satisfied with just being good friends. Bear thinks Stella is the sexiest woman alive, but she’s his best friend’s little sister, which means she’s off limits, and it has taken every ounce of will power to keep her at arms length. But when the pair find themselves alone in an upscale hotel room after a few drinks and good food, neither Stella nor Bear can say no to the years of denied attraction. Stella and Bear share an amazing, fantasy-fulfilling night together, but it all comes to a quick end when Bear freaks out about breaking the bro-code and not being good enough for Stella, coupled with Stella’s brother’s career-ending accident. 


Shooting for the Stars opens just before the start of the second Gravity book, Falling From the Sky and Hank’s horrific accident. The book then jumps ten months, keeping it on pace with the timing of Falling from the Sky. Although there is a lot of overlap in the timing of books #2 and #3, the story is completely different, with Hank playing a minor roll in this title.


Stella and Bear are best friends who are perfect for one another, but something always prevents it from happening. Mostly it’s on Bear - he’s afraid to open up and face his feelings head on. When they are together - whether as friends, potential lovers, or awkward and unsure companions - they capture my attention. Both carry around so much baggage and pain, love and hope; their interactions are emotionally fulfilling. However, much of the first half of the book is spent in lengthy flashbacks, and the dynamic of the budding romance stumbles during these interludes. I appreciate knowing more of their history, but at the same time, the author established their deep connection early (starting some in the second book), so jumping to the past pulled me out of the present. Additionally, during much of the middle of the book, the pair avoids each another. 


But then, Bear starts making his movie and the couple are forced to spend time together. Unlike most romances where we see characters working to come together, Bear and Stella spend time trying to stay apart. So, the story must rely on inner monologues to help readers understand that the feelings are still ever present, even if they both are trying hard to forget them. I really enjoyed listening as both Bear and Stella mature and come to terms with their feelings and needs. Toss in a close brush with death, and everything gets laid out on the table. And Hank’s reaction to his best friend and sister being together is priceless.


Shooting for the Stars brings listeners the third set of narrators for the Gravity series. While I can appreciate having different narrators because each book has a different set of main characters, it is also a bit discombobulating having different voices for characters I’ve known for two or three books. Right from the start I feel Ms. Wilder has a strong performance. With an almost breathless quality, she captures Stella’s desire and hopes. As the book goes on, I feel the female narrator does an excellent job of growing with her character. On the other hand, I had trouble with Mr. Harrison as soon as I heard him. At my usual 1.25x speed, his performance is riddled with dramatic pauses and unnecessary rests. It reminded me of the young Captain Kirk. Well, not that bad, but it’s start, stop, pause, start, stop, pause. I sped the playback up to 1.5x, and that helped, and overtime, I was able to get past the cadence issues. I did like the quality of his voice, which was deep and sexy, but the start/stop nature ruined much of that for me.


Overall, I liked Shooting for the Stars and getting Bear and Stella’s story. The early middle was a little slow, with a lot of flashbacks, followed by so much avoidance, that the story dragged at times. However, it all feels very genuine. The fear of losing a friend, the guilt, the longing, etc., and in the end, I liked how it all played out.


My Rating: B
Female narrator: B+

Male narrator: C+ 


Audiobook review copy provided by Blunder Woman Productions

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review 2017-10-22 17:21
Love and Gravity by Samantha Sotto
Love and Gravity: A Novel - Samantha Sotto

Andrea Louviere is seven years old the first time he appears. While she’s alone in her bedroom, practicing her beloved cello, the light shivers and a crack forms in the wall. Through the crack, she sees a candle, a window, a desk—and a boy. Though no sound travels through the wall, the boy clearly sees Andrea, too. And then, just as quickly as it opened, the crack closes, and he vanishes.

Over the years, summoning the bright, magnetic boy becomes something of an obsession for Andrea. Then, on her seventeenth birthday, she receives a three-hundred-year-old love letter from Isaac Newton. Andrea knows that Isaac will change the world with his groundbreaking discoveries; the letter tells Andrea that she will change him.

As Isaac’s letters intensify in passion and intimacy, Andrea grows determined to follow his clues to their shared destiny—despite a burgeoning romance in the present. Only when she discovers the way into Isaac’s time does Andrea realize that she faces a heartbreaking decision: between what was . . . and what might be.


I had hoped that this book would enthrall me as much as The Time Traveler's Wife did, unfortunately, I just couldn't find the book to be as good. I don't read much romance, but this time-travel romance between a modern girl and Isaac Newton caught my attention and as I just love time-travel stories did I feel the need to read this book. Also, the cover is absolutely stunning!

As for the story, it has its ups and downs, it started off interesting, but somewhere around halfway through did I find myself losing interest in the story. The story started to drag on with the main characters Andrea and Isaac just pining after each other. I just wanted them to meet (not really a spoiler) since it's apparently clear when reading the first chapter, what would happen. And, it was sometimes just so saccharine that I felt like I was getting an overdose of sweetness. I wanted more passion, more drama, more surprises and stronger characters. It was a promising book that just failed to live up to my expectations. There is also a triangle drama in the story as Andrea from that she was young had a guy friend called Nate that she also loved. Yes, sir, she loved them both and could not decide which one to choose. Thankfully, I quite liked Nate, he was a nice solid guy that steadfastly stood by her side.

Love and Gravity were a book that in the end felt too much like a young adult novel that tries to be deep, but in the end, fails. The story could have been better if Andrea and Isaac's love-story had not been so predictable, saccharine and to be honest boring. I would have loved to have read more about Isaac Newton, the man, the scientist. But, all one gets is his pining after Andrea. It gets too much in the end. Also, the happily ever after ending was almost too much for me. So, no this was not a book for me.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 
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review 2017-10-14 21:30
Entangled Strings: "Theories of Everything" by Frank Close
Theories of Everything: Ideas in Profile - Frank Close
I’ve got a theory that the rules of the universe ARE created by people thinking up theories about it. Although due to elitism bias, i am yet to receive any funding for my groundbreaking “hypothesis.” Fucking scientist bastards, getting paid for thinking about stuff they think I can’t understand... what a scam.
I suspect that a lot of the hostility and rejection of science by people who can't understand it is because it makes them feel stupid. It is, after all, fundamental to understanding how the world works. Some people are scientists; some people are not, but know what science is; but some people not only don't understand science, but don't know that they don't know, because they can't even see it. This is a bit analogous to being able to read. Some can go into a library and read in a few languages, some only in one, others can know what books are but not be able to read, and some don't actually know what books are and feel stupid, so pretend that they either don't exist or are some sort of conspiracy against them, which makes them feel important. There are theories around which involved such complex mathematics only a handful of people in the entire world can understand them. Peer review not much use here and enter this new age of egg-heads trying to “out-complexify” each other.
If you're into Physics and Loop Quantum Gravity, read on.
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review 2017-09-13 21:40
#Audiobook Review: Falling From the Sky by Sarina Bowen
Falling From the Sky: Gravity, Book 2 - Blunder Woman Productions,Aiden Snow,Sarina Bowen,Tanya Eby

The second story in Ms. Bowen’s Gravity series opens about a year after the conclusion of  Coming in From the Cold, with Dane, Willow and their new baby living out West, thus leaving behind best friend Willow. During one of the couple’s visits back to Vermont to sell Willow’s farm, they introduce Callie to snowboarder Hank, who proceeds to have a career-ending accident on the slopes. Fast forward nine months: Callie is the director of a rehabilitation study at her hospital and Hank is one of its participants. Hank is drawn to Callie and looking to be more than friends, but Callie is ready to start a new life and move to California.


I absolutely adored Callie and Hank’s story. What could have been predictable and ordinary is exciting and romantic. Right from the start, their mutual attraction causes both to toss caution to the wind and give something “more” a try. However, due to certain “issues” Hank experiences, things go south quickly. Luckily both are able to move past their insecurities and fears to open up a genuine dialogue and develop a true friendship. 


I like that both the male and female narrators are different in book 2 than in the first title, especially since the story focuses on two new feature characters. I found both narrators to be a bit better suited to the characters and enjoyed them more than the first go around. I noticed I prefered the female narrator at 1.25x and male narrator at 1.5x but kept the playback speed at 1.5x. The male’s voice is deliciously deep with a rich timbre. It’s a great voice for Hank, who is a huge man with intense emotions. Similarly, the female narrator is a good fit for the intelligent, yet worrisome Callie. I did find Ms. Eby’s male voices are a bit on the feminine side, but not bad.


Falling From the Sky is a delightful romance that warmed my heart. Ms. Bowen gives Callie and Hank a HEA without the need to fix all their issues. The story brings humor and heart, taking me on an emotional journey from highs to lows. 


My Rating: A-

Male Narration: B+

Female Narration: B+


Review copy provided by Blunder Woman Productions

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review 2017-09-08 15:39
#Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen
Coming in from the Cold: Gravity, Book 1 - Blunder Woman Productions,Joe Arden,Sarina Bowen,Maxine Mitchell

Willow is stuck in a dream life that was never her dream. Following her then boyfriend to raise chickens on a farm in Vermont, Willow was dumped and left in debt when he found a pretty face with a trust fund, moving to California. Trying to get home one night before the blizzard gets any worse, Willow swerves off the road and is left with a sexy stranger.


Dane loves being an Olympic skier, but he's lonely and hiding a huge secret which keeps him from forming any attachments. Running off the road during a blizzard, Dane finds himself trapped with a beautiful woman who is willing to share one night of passion. But when a freak accident takes him out of competition for the season, he's forced to face his nightmares head on.


Coming in From the Cold is a cute contemporary romance that makes the hero and heroine work for their HEA. The opening scene, with the pair stuck in a jeep during a blizzard, is a wonderful way for the couple to very quickly get to know one another. They trade complaints while stuck, waiting for the plows. The situation creates a false sense of intimacy, allowing both to share secrets and do things (*cough* jeepsex *cough*) they normally wouldn’t do. One thing leads to another and soon the pair take things further than planned.


Dane has a HUGE chip on his shoulder, which leads to some MAJOR asshat behavior and an unintentional spill on the slopes. Being laid up and unable to compete adds to his destructive mood, and I honestly wasn’t sure he’d be able to redeem himself. But because Willow is a psychology doctoral student, she has insight as to Dane’s behavior. While she’s not ready to jump back into bed with him, she’s able to put the situation into perspective with a bit of emotional detachment, allowing me to travel her journey to forgiveness with her. She’s not unemotional and still hurts, but understands.


The dual POV story has both a male and female narrator for the two POVs. Both narrators are pretty good: not great, but solid. I did have an issue with Ms. Mitchell at the start. She would end of several sentences and phrases by lengthening the vowels and deepening in tone. However, the issue cleared up when I moved up to 1.5x speed and/or she just improved with time. They both did better jobs performing their own gender voices; however, Ms. Michell’s version of Dane didn’t fit his persona most times. He sounded too “boy next door” or chipper for his surly attitude.


Coming in From the Cold is a delightful romance with a lovely happy ending; however, there are plenty of dark moments along the journey. I like that although there are some familiar storylines, the story is not cliche or overly predictable. Dane is a real jerk, but the HEA works because Willow is a psychologist (in training) and can understand with detachment why Dane reacts as he does.


My Rating: B+

Male Narration: B

Female Narration: B-


Review copy provided by Blunder Woman Productions

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