Musing Mondays: Audiobook Narrators

musingmondays51Musing Mondays, is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading that asks book bloggers to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it then!

My Musing:

9781615455201_p0_v1_s260x420Let’s see here…I think I’m going to opt for the bookish rant option. The narrator for Nora Roberts’ Black Hills was AWFUL! Considering that the story was excruciatingly long and tedious, it’s a wonder how I managed to power through the entire thing. But hey, audiobooks are expensive and I hate wasting a monthly Audible credit.

Here’s the thing: Dudes should not narrate sappy romance books, mainly because they sound like drunken drag queens with their nasally high-pitched “female voices.” I just couldn’t take the main character seriously because he made her sound RIDICULOUS!

I’m not saying that I don’t like male narrators. In fact, they’re excellent for any genre other than romance. Have you ever heard a book narrated by Neil Gaimen? Incredible! Oh and I also adore Jim Frangione, the narrator for Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mysteries. He does an excellent job capturing Chet’s happy-go-lucky dog voice!

So there’s my bookish rant. Sorry to sound like a crusty curmudgeon. Next time I promise to choose a much more chipper topic!

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

New WoW

61jDLYxFhdL__SY346_“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. This week I’m waiting on the first installment of Nora Roberts’ paranormal triology: Dark Witch (Oct. 29, 2013). Just in time for Halloween, it’s full of witchcraft, Irish legends and saucy love scenes with a swashbuckling wild tribal horseman! Yes, her books are rather predictable and formulaic, but I’d be lying if I said that her paranormal trilogies aren’t entertaining.

From the publisher: With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends. Ireland. County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits. Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

The Friday Five: Veiled Revenge by Ellen Byerrum

In honor of my favorite day of the week, I bring you The Friday Five. Every Friday I will ask the same five questions to myself, or any other willing participant! All my fellow book lovers are welcome to join in on the fun.

15808443From the publisher: Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after…

Why did you choose this book? I recently watched a re-run of Killer Hair on the Lifetime channel and felt the urge to delve into another Lacey Smithsonian adventure. And really, how could I turn away from a mystery revolving around a cursed shawl? Plus Stella’s getting hitched, which means lots and lots of outrageous fashions and melodrama galore!

Where did the author go right? Or if it’s a turkey, what went wrong? Like going to my favorite hamburger joint in a city full of restaurants, I know without a doubt that any book by Ellen Byerrum is a surefire winner. It’s like she studied me and figured out how to blend all of my most favorite elements into a book series: Quirky gal pals, vintage fashions, a headstrong reporter sleuth, and just a dash of romance. As a journalist, I tend to be a little biased toward my fellow newshounds, which must be why I’m rather fond of Lacey. But there are many other reasons why she stands out among the many amateur sleuths on my bookshelves. She’s fiercely devoted to her friends, and she’s got this mysterious connection to her aunt Mimi. Although Mimi is long gone, she still gives comfort to Lacey through the treasure trove of vintage fashions she left behind in her trunk. Wouldn’t it be fun if the author wrote a spinoff about the enigmatic Aunt Mimi? Perhaps she was a fashionable amateur sleuth back in the 1940s!

Did anything bug you about the book? Ugh, yes! Stella’s sanctimonious new-agey mother totally bugged me. I almost threw my book against the wall when she threatened to torch Stella’s pretty princess wedding gown in a “cleansing ritual.” Oh and while I’m at it, I’m also really annoyed that the Lifetime channel didn’t continue on with the series. Go here to read more about my thoughts on the books vs. TV series.

Dear Lifetime Channel, please reinstate the Crimes of Fashion series. I miss these ladies!

Dear Lifetime Channel, please reinstate the Crimes of Fashion series. I miss these ladies!

Would you read another book by this author? Absolutely! I’ve been reading this series out of order, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

How would you sum up the book in three words? Hilarious, witty, suspenseful.

Sundays in Bed with…Romantic Times Book Reviews (No. 4)

SundaysInBedWithBigWelcome to my Sundays in Bed with, a weekly meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl! This is a fun opportunity to spotlight the book I’m reading on the glorious day of the week.

This morning I’m reading: Romantic Times Book Reviews

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Gizzy and I partied pretty hard last night on my birthday, so today we’re spending the day enjoying our presents (he got loads of crinkle paper!) and reading the latest issue of Romantic Times magazine. I love, love, love reading author interviews and reviews of brand-spanking new books. The advertisements of book covers with shirtless Highlander men are an added bonus! The only problem is that I end up adding at least half a dozen new books to my to-read pile. But then again, you can never have too much of a good thing, right?

While I’m at it, check out my birthday loot! Are you sensing a theme here?
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Happy Sunday reading everyone! Feel free to post a comment about your current read!

W…W…W… Wednesdays (No. 3)

www_wednesdays4Happy hump day everybody! WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions:

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: Veiled Revenge: A Crime of Fashion Mystery by Ellen Byerrum

15808443Whenever summertime rolls around, I pick up a Crime of Fashion mystery because there’s nothing I’d rather read by the pool with a tropical drinky drink than a fun and frothy mystery filled with fashion, friends and sexy detectives! As expected, I’m completely enraptured by the mystery of the cursed Russian shawl. Ellen Byerrum sure knows how to spin a darn good yarn – pun intended!

 Just finished reading: Texas Cooking by Lisa Wingate

9780451411020_p0_v1_s260x420I love Texas and I love good food…maybe a little too much. Plus the cowgirl boots on the pretty pink cover was screaming my name, so I just couldn’t resist hitting the download button. Yes, the up-tight city girl thrust into a small town is somewhat of a cliché. And yes, the plot is a little on the thin side. But you know what – this fun little feel-good story was just what I needed during a hectic month. Although the book is the literary equivalent of a Hallmark channel movie of the week, the author has some serious writing chops! I loved getting swept away by her whimsical descriptions of small town Texas life. How I wish I could just ditch Austin and move to San Saline and hang out with Mrs. Hawthorne and the peacocks at the B&B!

Next up: Forever Charmed by Rose Pressey

17331698Let’s see here…a haunted B&B, a witch named Halloween, and two paranormal hotties? It’s like the author wrote this book just for me! And just look at the cover! Seriously, how could I go wrong? Hopefully the story will live up to the enticing premise. I’ll be sure to let you know.

What’s on your reading list? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

Sundays in Bed with…Red Rain by R.L. Stine

SundaysInBedWithBigWelcome to my Sundays in Bed with,  a weekly meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl! This is a fun opportunity to spotlight the book I’m reading on the glorious day of the week.

This morning I’m reading: Red Rain by R.L. Stine

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I have a soft spot in my heart for the mastermind behind the Fear Street series, which gave me delicious nightmares back in junior high when Nancy Drew Super Chiller mysteries were the only other “scary” titles in the young adult section.  So despite the overwhelming number of one-star reviews, I decided to give this one a try. I mean, come on, how could I refuse a new title by my childhood idol?

As for the negative reviewers, I can totally understand their issues with the bland characters, stunted dialogue and horror movie clichés. Yes, the main characters are one-dimensional. And yes, the freaky twin thing has been done to death in movies like The Shining and Village of the Damned. But you know what, R.L.’s trademark cliffhangers at the end of each chapter keep me glued to the pages until the wee hours of the night.

Reading this book is a lot like watching a campy horror flick. Going into it, my expectations for character development are pretty low, but I still have a lot of fun with the thrill ride. Aside from some awkward sex scenes, this is pretty much a young adult book. So if you’re expecting a horror story on par with the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, you’ll most likely be disappointed. This book isn’t scare per se, but it’s definitely entertaining!

Short & Sweet Sundays: Cocktail Hour by Tara McTiernan

Sundays are a day of rest. So in honor of this one day of the week when I can legitimately loaf around in my Garfield jammies in front of the DVR, I bring you this new feature that I like to call “Short and Sweet Sundays.” This is a fun way for me to write up a quick and dirty book blog without getting too overambitious.

17655664Synapsis (from the publisher) What if your friend – someone admired, envied, and fervently sought after by everyone who knew her – was really a dangerous sociopath?

Spring in glamorous uber-rich Fairfield County, Connecticut is a time of beginnings: a new diet for the approaching summer spent out on the yacht, fresh-faced interns being offered up at the office as the seasonal sacrifice to the gods of money, and corporate takeovers galore. Five women in their thirties have a brand-new friendship, too, one that fed and watered regularly at local hotspots over cocktails. With all of their personal struggles – Lucie’s new catering business is foundering due to vicious gossip, Kate’s marriage is troubled due to an inability to conceive, Chelsea’s series of misses in the romance department have led to frantic desperation, and Sharon’s career problems are spinning out of control – the women look forward to a break and a drink and a chance to let their guards down with their friends. And letting their guards down is the last thing they should do in the kind of company they unknowingly keep with the fifth member of their cocktail-clique: Bianca Rossi, a woman who will stop at nothing to have it all.

What I liked: After reading the author’s previous novel Barefoot Girls –which also includes one helluva villain – I knew I was in for a treat. She has a real knack for getting inside the mind of a certifiable sociopath, and Bianca really takes the cake! That is one crazy-ass bitch, and I hate to think that there could be real-life Biancas preying upon unsuspecting men and exploiting their “friends” weaknesses. She grew more despicable with each chapter – and I couldn’t wait to get to the very end to watch it all come crashing down. I can safely say this is one of the most evil female antagonists I’ve encountered in a very long time. She’s so bad, she makes those Lifetime movie psychos look like playful kittens!

Favorite character: The posse of gal pals all had interesting backstories, but out of all of the women, Kate is my fave. Yes, she’s totally naïve and sometimes just plain dumb, but she’s also loyal and incredibly sweet.  Fresh off the farm and new the big city, she’s refreshingly un-jaded and ready to befriend anyone with a seemingly friendly face. Although I constantly wanted to shake her and tell her to smarten up, she really hit a soft spot in my hardened, misanthropic heart.

If you think about it, haven’t we all been there? At some point, don’t we all find out the hard way that we can’t accept everyone at face-value? To quote Dan Rather, “A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.”

The cover: The long-legged women sitting on barstools are pretty and all, but to be honest, I really don’t think the cover does the book justice.  If I saw this in a bookstore, I probably would’ve just assumed it was another light-hearted story about women looking for love in the big city. Since the story revolves around a demented seductress, I think it would be more fitting to invoke a sense of danger on the cover.

This book is best paired with: A tall mojito and some Miles Davis.

Overall assessment:  Cocktail Hour isn’t all margaritas and tapas – McTiernan tackles some troubling issues – from adultery to mental illness to family dysfunction. Emotional, fascinating – and sometimes unsettling – this is one quality read for anyone who enjoys stories about love, loss, friendship and deceit.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

WWW Wednesday No. 2

www_wednesdays42Happy hump day everybody! WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions:

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

StardustsummercoverI’m currently reading Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark. As I expected, this talented author is knocking it out of the ballpark once again with loveable characters, a fast-moving plot, and a sweet little love story. I’m especially enjoying the East Coast setting. It’ makes me long for the days when I spent my summers swimming in Lake Jessop at Camp Marston in the mountains of Southern California. Stay tuned for the review!

7664334I just finished reading Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and absolutely LOVED it!!! This book epitomizes the awesomeness of road trips. It’s not just about getting from point A to point B; it’s about pressing the pause button on the real world – the rinse-wash-repeat cycle of daily life – and exploring uncharted territory. This book beautifully captures the healing powers of the great American road trip. It’s a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good story about self-discovery, romance and adventure!

15808533Next up is The Last Grave by Debbie Vigue. This book has been sitting on my nightstand for far too long and I’m dying to crack it open! It’s a murder mystery set in San Francisco that revolves around a displaced witch/detective who’s dealing with a heavy-duty identity crisis. Oh and did I mention that she has a magical pet named Freaky Kitty? This book is totally going to rock – I just know it!

What’s on your reading list? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

The Friday Five: Naturally Charlie by S.L. Scott

In honor of the coolest day of the week, I bring you The Friday Five. Every Friday I will ask the same five questions to myself, or any other willing participant! All my fellow book lovers are welcome to join in on the fun.

15821735Synapsis: Twenty-five year old Charlotte “Charlie” Barrow is caught between her old life, and the one she is beginning to build, when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the subway. Not looking for romance, she closes her heart off to the possibilities of love. With a knack for mishaps, Charlie maintains her sense of humor while befriending the kind stranger who seems to be there at all the right times. New York freelance writer, Charlie Adams, is forging his own path beyond the expectations of the society circles of his childhood. Rejecting family money, and fast-lane friends, he is snubbed by his family as he follows his own compass to a life more extraordinary. Through a coincidence of events, they come to rely on each other for comfort. This is the tale of two Charlies learning to trust again while fighting their fates to create their own destiny.

Why did you choose this book? I came across this book at the Texas Book Festival last fall and couldn’t resist picking up a new title by an up-and-coming Texas author.  Although I have to admit that I dragged my heels for a while because I’m rarely in the mood for a light-hearted romance novel without sleuths, vampires or ghosties.

Where did the author go right? Or if it’s a turkey, what went wrong? Let me start off by explaining why I’m not a big fan of straight-up romance novels. The leading ladies are typically one-dimensional and painfully neurotic. They jump at the chance to be haughty and angry toward their love interest and it just grates on my nerves. There’s always a miscommunication and stupid squabbles ensue. I guess authors feel they need to do this to keep the romantic tension boiling, but it just annoys the crap out of me. But you know what surprised me about this book? I actually liked Charlie! She’s just your typical girl-next-door who loves to bake cupcakes and watch movies on a Friday night. We could totally hang out! Sure she has some serious emotional baggage, but it didn’t turn her into a complete ninny. The dynamic between her and Charlie (the dude) is very reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally….only the male Charlie is WAY hotter than Billy Crystal!

I also have to give the author props for thinking up the most bizarre first date of all time. I loved how the Charlies forged a bond under such stressful and emotionally-straining circumstances. From that moment on it was clear they were meant to be together.

Did anything bug you about the book? There were quite a few moments when I just wanted to shake Charlie and yell, “Get the hell out of the friend-zone, you idiot! He’s freakin’ perfect!”

Would you read another book by this author? Yes! When it comes to writing romance, S.L. Scott really knows how to hit the sweet spot. Her characters are believable, the dialogue is entertaining, and the grand finale is ultimately satisfying. Although I have to say that I’m a little tired of the Manhattan scene. Hopefully her next story will be set in Austin, or perhaps a small Texas town.

How would you sum up the book in three words? Sweet, romantic, cute.

WWW Wednesdays

www_wednesdays42Happy hump day everybody! WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

6304335What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading, or shall I say re-reading, Beautiful Creatures. I listened to it a couple years back on Audible and can’t seem to remember a darn thing aside from a few bits and pieces about a creepy song about 16 moons, a bewitched plantation home, tons of To Kill a Mockingbird references, and a small Southern town full of asshole bigots. The movie looks awesome, so I want to have the book fresh in my mind before I watch it all unfold on the big screen.

26050What did you recently finish reading?
Let’s see here…I’ve torn through a lot of books lately. I believe the last book I devoured was Angel Falls by Nora Roberts. I actually really enjoyed the Lifetime movie version (aside from the fact that a botoxed Heather Locklear was all kinds of wrong for that role) because it cut to the chase a whole lot faster than the long, dragged out novel. Sure there were a ton of plot holes and the scenes were choppy, but it was so much more bearable than those long, unnecessary bickering sessions between Reece and Brodie. And ugh – did the author really have to describe Reece’s pap smear procedure with the old grandfatherly family doctor? UNCOMFORTABLE! It’s a mystery to me why so many people gave that book five-star reviews.

15821735What do you think you’ll read next?
Hmmm…decisions, decisions. I think my next book is going to be Naturally, Charlie by S.L. Scott. I bumped into this Austin-based author at the Texas Book Fest back in October and still haven’t gotten around to reading her book! I’ve been reading a lot of supernatural stuff and mysteries, so I figure it’s time to give myself a break from fanged creatures and dead bodies. Normally I’m not into fluffy romances, but this one looks like a fun little escape.