Monday, May 31, 2010

Audio Lovin’: Audio Book Review of Savor the Moment (Bride (Nora Roberts))

Performed by: Angela Dawe
Brilliance Audio Unabridged Version
Approx. 9 Hours
Story – 4 Heart Review
Voice Performance – 3 Heart Review

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts cordially invites you to meet childhood friends Parker, Emma, Laurel, and Mac — the founders of Vows, one of Connecticut’s premier wedding planning companies.

Laurel McBane has always relied on her friends for support, especially when her dream of attending culinary school was almost ruined by her parents’ financial problems. Now Laurel is repaying the kindness of her friends by creating extravagantly luscious tiers of cakes and other confectionary delights that add the perfect touch to their clients’ weddings.


As for romance, Laurel believes in it — in theory. But she’s too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that other women seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker’s older brother, Delaney Brown, on whom Laurel has had a mega crush since childhood.


But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her, or so she thinks. When Laurel’s quick- silver moods get the better of her — leading to an angry, hot, altogether mind-blowing kiss with Del — she’ll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever…

Narrator Angela Dawe gets the heroine Laurel’s voice perfectly, but Emma and Mac’s voices tended to draw me out of the story. The male voices weren’t bad, but didn’t stand out to me as great or memorable. Again though, Laurel’s voice seemed to match the character perfectly.

This was a very solid, well-developed story and one would expect no less from La Nora. She’s a #1 best seller for a reason ladies – because she knows how to structure a story and create characters you can get wrapped up in.

As I listened to the story, I was struck by just how much detail was focused on Laurel’s baking and the weddings and wished that those details had been more in the background and the romance had more front and center time.

That was my only issue with this story that sometimes I got frustrated with all the details about stuff other than the romance. These are two fun, great characters that are made for each other – focus on them!

I wasn’t disappointed in the romance and loved all the other characters – if you don’t count the off voices – and can highly recommend this story whether in book form or in audio. If the romance would have had more face time then this book could have been a 5 Heart Review for me.

Monday Morning Cuteness!

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Happy Memorial Day - I hope you are enjoying some time off work and are reading something great over the weekend. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Audio Lovin': Audio Book Review of Reckless by Amanda Quick

Audio Lovin: Audio Book Review of Reckless by Amanda Quick
Performed by Anne Flosnik
Briilliance Audio Unabridged Version
11 Hours : 55 Minutes
Story – 3 Heart Review
Narrator – 5 Heart Review

At sixteen Phoebe Layton had imagined that Gabriel Banner was a brave and valiant knight, a noble-hearted hero born to rescue ladies in distress. Which was why, eight years later, when she desperately needed help to carry out a vital quest she could think of no one more suited to the job than Gabriel.

But when she lures her shining knight to a lonely midnight rendezvous, Phoebe finds herself sparring with a dangerously desirable man who is nothing like the hero of her dreams, and when he sweeps her into a torrid – and blatantly unchivalrous – embrace, she can’t help but fear that she’s made a dreadful mistake. It’s a kiss that will seal Phoebe’s fate. For now the exacting Earl of Wylde has a quest of his own: to possess the most intriguing, impulsive, outrageous female he has ever met…even if he has to slay a dragon to do it.

Right off the bat, I knew I was going to have fun with this audio book. The narrator (voice performer?) Anne Flosnik did excellent voices, and the hero and heroine had me wrapped around their little fingers very quickly.

This was audio book that had me literally smiling as I drove down the highway. First off, Anne does a wonderful job with the voices transporting you to the time period. What made me smile was that if ever there was an audio book made for a drinking game this is it and the narrator adds so much fun with her tone!

Just what do I mean? Well, without giving away any spoilers, I can tell you the hero and heroine are on a quest to find a book called the Lady and the Sorcerer. Now – take the word Sorcerer and make it Sore-soar-roar in a sing song voice and you have an instant drinking game! Mrs. Quick includes the title of the book so many times you’ll be drunk before you’re even past the first few chapters. It could have been insanely annoying, but again, the way the narrator says the line cracked me up every time.

My issues with this audio book didn’t involve the great narration. Instead, I was disappointed in the characters as the story moved forward. I adored the heroine Phoebe at the beginning of the story, but found myself falling out of love with her as the story progressed. Why? Because the author created such a smart, intelligent and witty woman in Phoebe and then made her seem to regress in intelligence and become more na├»ve as the story went on. Phoebe lost the wit and spunk she showed in the first few chapters and this made me lose interest in the story.

There were also a few parts of the story I felt didn’t feel right. Phoebe and Gabriel were smart and yet they only watch the front of a building when trying to catch a thief. Hello – everyone knows thieves don’t go in the front door! It felt like this part of the plot was forced and didn’t go well with what the characters would have thought to have done.

Gabriel was a hero readers will swoon over and Phoebe is great in the beginning. She’s still “her” at the end, but I just felt that the story didn’t hold up the promise of her character that was presented at the beginning. It’s like, LOOK – awesome strong historical female, and then she slowly loses her intelligence. I just shake my head as I write this because Phoebe rocked it at the start of the story.

I did get many chuckles – even beyond the drinking game phrases – and enjoyed listening to this historical romance. I will definitely be listening to more of Amanda Quick’s audio book and cannot say enough about how well Anne Flosnik did with the voices.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Afternoon Cuteness!

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Sorry I missed posting this earlier! Hope you are making it through Monday with a smile. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bookstore Finds: What Caught My Eye in Borders

I spent a few minutes of my life today browsing the romance selections at the Borders right across the parking lot from my office. If I’m ever in need of a 5-10 minute break or a nice lunch treat, I walk over there and get lost in the books.
I thought it might be fun to do a regular feature where I post about any book covers that really caught my eye, or books I hadn’t heard of but discovered there. Pretty much a post about what caught my eye at Borders.
So, here my first of these posts and what caught my eye today. Funny enough, today I’m featuring all Harlequin titles. I really had no idea when I was taking the pics – when I got back I realized they were all from different HAR lines. Guess I like what the cover gods over at HAR do!
amanda Amanda McIntyre always gets amazing covers for her Harlequin Spice books, and The Master & The Muses is no exception.
kate What caught my eye about this one was it’s a different look for a Blaze. Usually they have both men or women or they tend to have blond heroes on the cover. This one struck me as different.
lynn This is the one I came away with today. I’ve heard great things about Lynn Raye Harris’ Presents books so I thought I would try one out. Hope to have a review sometime soon.
susan Ok, this book screams sexy summer beach read to me. And no, I’m not talking about the Guinness World Records book. I absolutely love this cover for Susan Anderson’s Skintight. It makes me feel happy just to look at it!
That’s it for this week. Until next time happy reading!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DNF's - Do You Finish Every Book, or Are Some DNF's?

I admit it; I've never read a book I didn't finish. No matter how bad, how horribly written or plotted, I've finished every single book I've ever cracked open. Whether it's the hope that it WILL eventually get better, or that I just have to know how it ends even if I hate it, I feel this intense need to see the story to the end.

Once, just once, there was a book that almost became a DNF for me. It wasn't a romance at all. It was Without Remorse by Tom Clancy. A really awesome story - bogged down in tons of technical jargon that had me going back pages to see if I could remember what weapon did what and who was on the good side. I put that book down many times over a year - but always came back to it. Again, the central plot and characters are fantastic; I just couldn't keep track of all the details. I eventually finished that book - and have kept a copy on my shelf ever since almost like a trophy of the accomplishment.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I just might have my very first DNF. Although it's an audio book and not print, I don't think I would be interested in the story anymore. It's literally the worst audio book I've ever heard. The voices are horrible imitations of Hillbilly cartoons. The Hero's voice is by far the worst and he even says Ga-Ron-Tea (guarantee) in a voice straight from Yosemite Sam at one point.

This audio book is so bad I literally cringed driving down the road when the hero speaks or a new character with some insane fake southern accent is introduced. The author is a very well know one, and I've heard people love the books - but I do not think I could read these in print without having those voices playing in my head.

I won't go into details about the book here since I might still plan on reviewing the audio book. I can't stand thinking there might be a book out there I didn't give enough of a chance. There's a part of me that would feel guilty for not reading on when an author put so much into this. Why do a feel this way, and an even better question is do you ever feel this way?

Do you finish all the books you pick up, or do you have no problem putting down a book you aren't enjoying? Has one certain book let you down, or are you a frequent DNF'er?

I want to know - am I the only one who finishes them all? Should I stick it out on this audio book so at least I can honestly say if the story was good or not?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Traveling Story: The Story Continues...

I was so excited to post my portion of the Book Blogger Traveling Story last week and am happy to announce that (A) was the way you wanted the story to go.



Finally, head over to Twisted Fates Cafe to see how she keeps the story going!

It's a really fun story and I can't wait to see how it all ends up. :)

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Blogger Hop! Find great new sites you'll love

It's Friday! Time for another Book Blogger HOP!!


Hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books, the Book Blogger Hop is an amazing place to find great new-to-you book blogs. Seriously, head over there and check out the list of links! 

From Crazy-For-Books: ABOUT THE HOP:

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Traveling Story: A Book Blogger Round Robin

I'm excited to be a part of The Traveling Story. I'm Part 2 - make sure to read to the end and vote on which way you want the story to go. Choose A, B or C and then I'll hand the story off to the next blogger. You've got three days to vote!

Part 1: From Romance In The Backseat

We have all read the books, and seen the movies, and dreamed them up in a passing cloud, but there is no such thing as dragons. Or so Eliza McKenzie thought. Then early Saturday morning the door to her apartment was set on fire. Just the door, one second a normal door, the next it looked like the flaming entrance to hell. Eliza might have been able to rationalize this. Fires happen, maybe arson, maybe spontaneous combustion, she would have come up with something after she climbed out the window and dropped from the second story into the bushes.


The explanation would have had nothing to do with a giant, green, winged, lizard knocking through the door and standing on the welcome mat surrounded by fire. Eliza’s eyes doubled in size as the massive beast (her mind had not come up with the word dragon yet) opened his mouth to suck in a deep breath.

Fire came rushing for her face just as the dragon, yes it was definitely a dragon, was pulled from the room by his tail. The wall shook, the ground quaked, and there was the horrible sound of wood breaking mixed with the screech of nails on a chalk board. The floor gave another bounce then the sound of the hallway window shattering held Eliza’s full attention.

Eliza’s window still looked inviting as heavy footsteps made their way back towards her apartment. The green shape, flashing golden wings gliding by outside changed her mind. Whoever was walking towards her had kicked a dragon’s ass, but hopefully would lack a muzzle full of sharp teeth. After the dragon a troll, wizard, or kilt clad Highlander would feel down right normal. Though if that actor guy walked in and started preaching Scientology Eliza would know this was all a dream.

Henry Howard her somewhat geeky next door neighbor stepping over the smoking door was a bit of a let down. Tall, slender, wiry, Eliza had often wondered how he carried victims out of burning buildings. Henry was a full time Fire Fighter for the city. His moving in down the hall three months ago had actually allowed Eliza to sleep better at night. She just felt safer for no reason, or at least not one she could pin down. Though the feeling now seemed more than justified.

Henry gave her his usual crooked smile, eyes flashing behind his soot covered glasses.

“You still have your eyebrows, or were they singed off? Can’t tell from here.”

The possible loss of her eyebrows was just too much to contemplate. Eliza’s temper began to simmer and boil as Henry calmly used his t-shirt to clean his glasses. “Who the heck are you anyway?” the question forced its way out between clenched teeth.

PART 2: Cheeky Reads

“A better question might be who are you? Since I believe it was your apartment I just had to keep a dragon from making an inferno out of,” Henry quipped with a lift of his brow.

“Listen here mister,” she sputtered as she placed her hands on her hips and tried her best to stand up straight and present an intimidating figure. Ok, so at 5’4 intimidating was pushing it, but hey, a little display of confidence could help a girl through a lot of messy situations. She watched as Henry’s lips twitched. A sure sign he was holding back laughter. No way was he standing there laughing at her!

Poking her finger in his chest she demanded, “How did you manage to chase off a…a dragon? I mean you have to admit you’re not packing any serious muscles. Unless you’re some sort of Superman/Clark Kent superhero? And seriously, a dragon? I think we are both inhaling some serious toxic fumes from this smoke and have lost our grip on reality. Dragons do not exist.”

This time he let a deep chuckle escape at her overflow of questions. “If you say so, but then what do you call the giant, green scale-covered creature I just ran off for you? You and I both know that was a dragon.”

“Exactly!” She exclaimed. “You want to tell me how come you aren’t freaking out about that. And how did you drive him away?”

“Now you’re asking the right questions. I think it’s time we had a nice long chat over a cup of coffee.”

Henry reached out and brushed a smudge of soot from her cheek. Instead of the irritation that had been welling up inside her, she felt a frisson of excitement as his fingers moved against her skin. Startled that she had just stood there staring at geeky boy next door; she backed away and turned to stare at what remained of her front doorway.

“I don’t think my apartment is in any shape for entertaining.”

She met Henry’s gaze and couldn’t help but smile. “How about we figure out something to do about my front door before we head over to Mel’s? Somehow I think a dragon trying to fry me to a crisp calls for something a little stronger than a cup of Joe.”

Walking over to Eliza’s phone, Henry checked for a dial tone and then dialed a number from memory.

“Dek, I need the team over here for a clean-up and containment job fast.”

Eliza watched as Henry ran his hands through his slightly wavy brown hair that was just a tad too long and wondered what he was going to say to his fellow firefighters when they arrived. Had he said containment?

“Yeah,” Henry murmured. “Apt. 303. I must have been right about this one,” he said and then hung up the phone.

“This one,” Eliza demanded feeling her previous agitation start to rear its head again.

“Hold off on that anger until we sit down to have our talk. You’ll have a whole bunch more questions and some issues to deal with after that. You don’t want to waste all your anger on me just now.”

Putting a hand on Eliza’s back, he attempted to start moving her toward the crispy doorway.

“Stop.”

A.) Growing frustrated with the situation and not sure if she should be trust him, Eliza felt her anger and frustration overflow. One minute Henry is touching her back. The next, he’s flat on the ground with her foot on his throat.

B.) Looking up into Henry’s eyes Eliza can’t believe how calm she feels by his side, even as her partially scorched apartment surrounds them. What is it about this man she thinks right before she lifts up onto her tiptoes to press a light kiss to his cheek? “Thank you,” she whispers.

C.) “A girl cannot go out looking like this. Give me five minutes to freshen up unless you want the whole apartment building to think I’ve been the victim of some horrible accident. Ok. They would be right, but I have the feeling this is something we might want to keep to ourselves,” Eliza questioned.

How do you want the story to continue?

UPDATE: You Voted for A - Now head over to Twisted Fates Cafe to read the next installment!

Welcome Guest Author Raven Corinn Carluk

Hello everyone. I'm really glad to be at Cheeky Reads today, and I appreciate your attention. I'm a new author, and I'd like to let you know about my book. All Hallows Blood is my debut vampire romance, out from Crescent Moon Press, on both the Kindle and print at Barnes&Noble.

But that's the boring part. "Come to my site. Read my book." 8P Everyone says that. And I'd love you to do that, of course. However, I think you need a reason. Just telling you I'm a good storyteller with a fun page-turner isn't enough. It's got a good adventure, hot sex, and fun characters. It's the first book in my series, and I want you to love my main characters as much as I do. And while those are great reasons to give me a try, there's more.

Not only do I have short stories on my site, but I'm doing an ongoing story in my blog. That one is basically the first draft of a book I'll eventually write. Those are good reasons to come by. You can also read the excerpt of my novel, and let that entice you.

Oh, and there's the contest I'm having on my blog. Come by before the 14th and leave a comment about your first vampire experience for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book. Jump on that quickly.

What I'll give you here is a little scene I wrote up, just for you folks. This is from a book idea I have. I haven't even started writing it. The premise is the daughter of a vampire hunter and a sad lost vampire fall in love, and her father comes back to town and plans to kill this vampire. I LOVE star-crossed lovers, don't you?

So, enjoy this treat. It's my way to give you a reason to read my book.

***
Marcus stared at her, heart in his throat. His sweet Karalana was leaving, packing her flat. Watching from the middle of the balcony, he decided it wasn't everything; she was taking just enough to start a new life somewhere.

"You can't leave," he said, pushing open the sliding glass door. Heat followed him, desert scents mixing with the aroma of growing things. Kara had a talent for coaxing growth from anything, even in Las Vegas.


Like his heart. She looked up, blue eyes wide, mouth parted in a gasp. Marcus felt life stirring in him. Nothing amazed him more than his reaction to her. Kara's pulse raced, and he longed to taste it against his lips.


"What are you doing here? Jackson can't find you." Her voice was more relieved than concerned; Kara was happy to see him.


"The book store is closed."


She smiled ruefully, returning to her task. With her back turned, he could so easily approach, wrap his arms around her, and kiss her long neck. Her hair was already up, out of the way. Marcus took a step closer, letting desire move him.


"Of course it is. I'm moving on so Jackson can't hurt you, can't find me." Kara moved to her bedroom, and Marcus followed. There was no fear in her voice, though her shoulders were tense. He would do anything to relieve her stress. "He wanted to use me as bait."


Marcus growled. "Is this a trap?" His fists clenched on their own. It had been decades since he'd last done physical violence, be he would kill Jackson if the hunter laid a hand on Kara.


She turned, eyes wide, and closed the gap between them. Laying her hands on his chest brought him great relief. "No!" Karalana smiled, tilting her head. "I told my father long ago I wanted nothing to do with hunting vampires. I still don't." She shook her head, lowering her eyelids. "I want nothing to do with hunting you."


The young woman's hands were so warm on his chest. As soft as her name, Kara yet had a strength to her that could endure any pain. "Don't leave," Marcus said again, closing his eyes. "I'll go, draw Jackson away. Keep your life here."


Kara leaned forward until they were almost touching. "Where will you go?"


Anywhere to keep you safe, he thought. "Away. Some place Jackson won't be near you." Marcus dared to open his eyes.


She stared at him, tears brimming, cheeks flushed. She tightened her grip on his chest, and he couldn't stop himself from laying his hands on her shoulders. "I don't want you to leave."

Her plea was hardly a whisper, but it was a clarion call to his soul. This charming young woman wanted him, wasn't scared of him. How could he deny her?


Leaning forward, Marcus kissed her. One hand cupped the back of her head, the other traveled to the small of her back. Kara grabbed his neck, pulling him closer, opening her mouth. Passion burned them, and both would gladly be consumed by the fire.


Kara broke the kiss, drawing his mouth to her neck. Marcus groaned, fangs aching as need swelled. "Stay with me." She pressed the heat of her pulse to him.


Marcus obliged her, finding solace in her blood.

***
Thanks for reading this scene. Hope you enjoyed it. I would love to hear from you.

Raven Corinn Carluk

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Morning Cuteness!

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Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and that the week kicks off with something awesome for you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Romance Book Review: An Earl to Enchant by Amelia Grey

AnEarlToEnchant Romance Book Review: An Earl to Enchant: The Rogues' Dynasty
By: Amelia Grey
Sourcebooks Casablanca
3 Heart Review

He's Determined Not To Be A Hero...

Lord Morgandale is as notorious as he is dashing, and he's determined no woman will tie him down. But from the moment Arianna Sweet appears on his doorstep, he cannot resist the lure of her fascinating personality, exotic wardrobe, and tempting green eyes...

She Has A Deadly Secret...

Arianna Sweet never imagined the significance of her father's research until after his untimely death. Now she is in possession of his groundbreaking discovery, one that someone would kill for. She can't tell Lord Morgandale her secret, but she knows she needs his help, desperately...

A fan of author Amelia Grey's Rogue's Dynasty series, I was very much looking forward to reading An Earl to Enchant and it proved to be a delightful read.

I found it amazing how much of this story is told with just the hero and heroine and within just a few rooms/settings. It is so focused on the couple and their being alone together, but it never fails to keep the reader engaged and entertained. It takes a very good writer to have so much of the story with just those two characters and very few appearances of others. I was highly impressed with the skill this took and the reader will not miss those extra characters or settings at all. I loved how straight forward this love story was without all the extra noise.

The storyline of the heroine Arianna having spent much of her life in India made this story come alive with something other than just your usual young lady. Arianna's missteps for what is acceptable in English society are expertly layered throughout the story, but they are not overly done or exaggerated as many authors might do. These escapades added just the right hint of exotic fun and all three Rogue brother's viewing Arianna belly dancing through a window was a scene you will chuckle out loud over. 

The part of the story that wasn't as compelling to me was that of finding Arianna's father's murderer. Yes, I know this was the driving motivation behind Arianna's character, but I really skipped right over these sections. I didn't care who had killed her father, or that they were caught, I just wanted more of Morgan fighting to not fall in love, and then fighting not to marry Arianna even though he loved her.     

It was refreshing to have a virgin heroine who was perfectly okay with never marrying and not because she was afraid of men. Instead, Arianna was just happy with life and didn't feel the need for a man to make her existence better. She loved Morgan, but would not have wanted him to marry her if he hadn't loved her. She was a very unassuming heroine and I enjoyed that.

If you haven't read any of the Rogue's Dynasty Series you should really check them out. They are very well-written and lovely books that always satisfy me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Than Words Winner

More Than Words The inspiring comments in the More Than Words contest were truly something special. Thank you to each and every one of you and I’m so glad to hear you each had special people in your life!

I’m sorry I can’t give you all books, but please remember that all proceeds from the sale of More Than Words benefit the charity. Here’s the link again.
The winner of the free copy of More Than Words Volume 6 is…

Terri!
Email me at cheekyreads @ gmail.com (no spaces) and let me know your address.

Happy Reading!

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