Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review: Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

Title: Art of Arranging Flowers
Author: Lynne Branard/Lynne Hinton (Author Website) (Facebook)
Narrators: Xe Sanders
Publisher:  Dreamscape Audio
Length:  7 Discs/ 8 hours: 3 Minutes
Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program
About the Book: (from
Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

About the Author:  (from author website)
Lynne Hinton was born and raised in North Carolina. She attended Wake Forest University and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in Guilford County and Asheboro, North Carolina and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and as the interim pastor in northeastern Washington.
Lynne is the author of eighteen books, including the NY Times Bestseller, Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 NM Book of the Year: Fiction/Adventure, Drama Category and 2011 National Federation of Press Women's Fiction Book of the Year. Her 2014 book, written under the name Lynne Branard, The Art of Arranging Flowers, was also the winner of the NM-Arizona Book Awards Fiction/Adventure Category.
Lynne and her husband, Bob Branard, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
About the Narrator: Xe Sand has more than a decade of experience bringing stories to life through narration, performance and visual art, including recordings of Thrill of the Chase and Buttered Side Down.  From poignant young adult fiction to powerful first person narrative, Sands' characterizations are rich and expressive. Xe Sands does an amazing job in giving each character a distinct, individual voice in The Art of Arranging Flowers.

My Review: Ruby is 45 years old, never married.  Ruby was devastated by the death of her sister, Daisy. She fell into a great depression and was pulled out by the beauty of flowers, which lead her to become a florist in Creekside, Washington.  Ruby is not just any florist.  She knows everyone in Creekside, their birthdays and anniversaries.  She has their bouquets made before they even before they come in for them and gives a small reminder is needed.  She  is versed in the healing and medicinal aspects of various flowers. She knows just what to put in a bouquet to have people fall in love and comfort those in pain or with illness. 

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard has a slow moving plot, which allows for extensive character development.  You just fall in love with the characters, even the dog Clementine has some depth.  My favorite characters are the young boy Will and Dan, the charming astronaut.  

My Rating: 4/5 – really liked it-  Initially after finishing this book, I thought, "well that was very predictable".  But as I thought more about The Art of Arranging Flowers, I realized the story wasn't about the ending.  It was about one person's long journey to overcome grief,  loss and to live again.  The story is the people that came into Ruby's life that helped her to move along a very difficult journey to healing.  It can be a difficult road from such grief to living life and finding happiness.

The Art of Arranging Flowers is a feel good story. It is a sentimental story of a quaint small town and unforgettable characters that touch your heart.  Topics woven throughout The Art of Arranging Flowers are grief, loss, and the power of friendship.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard was also reviewed on the following blogs:  Feathered Quill Book Reviews, Rhapsody in Books Weblog, A Novel Review,  Book Pleasures,  Simply Stacie, and Musings of A Bookish Cat.   

**Disclosure – The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Dreamscape Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: All of Us and Everything by


Title: All of Us and Everything
Author: Bridget Asher (Author Website) (Facebook)
Narrators: Cassandra Campbell
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.;
Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from
The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

About the Author:  (from author website)
Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Julianna Baggott also writes under the pen names Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode. hundred foreign editions of Julianna’s novels published or forthcoming overseas.
Julianna began publishing short stories when she was twenty-two and sold her first novel while still in her twenties.

Her Bridget Asher novels include All of Us and EverythingThe Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, The Pretend Wife, and My Husband’s Sweethearts. Asher’s novels are widely published overseas.

She has also published award-winning novels for younger readers under the pen name N.E. Bode as well as under Julianna Baggott.

About the Narrators: Cassandra Campbell is very experienced narrator.  Campbell has narrated more than 100 audiobooks and has directed nearly twice that many.  She is very talented at giving each character their own voice and finding a nice cadence and rhythm to her narration.

My Review: The Rockwell sisters Esme, Liv and Ru had an unusual upbringing living with their mother, Augusta.  The three sisters are very  different, but after hurricane Sandy they are once again all at home with their mother.  They are a family of women and it is hard for any man to really be a part of the group.

A father they had not met returns to the family.  A father who was on the outskirts of their lives the entire time, trying to a part of their lives without them knowing.   How do you put a family back together after all this time??

While I found parts of the story interesting and entertaining, there were a number of parts in the story where I felt the plot just fell flat for me.  Without spoiling the plot, I will say it felt contrived and unrealistic at times.    

My Rating: 3/5 – it was ok - the characters in All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher are quirky and interesting to an extent.  I had a hard time being pulled into this story.   It is a lighter read. I found the characters hard to connect to and found parts of the story unrealistic.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher was also reviewed on the following blogs:  Karma for Life Chick, and Bookish Devices,

**Disclosure – All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Review: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Title: Pretty Baby
Author: Mary Kubica (Author Website) (Facebook)
Narrators: Cassandra Campbell; Tom Taylorson; Jorjeana Marie
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio
Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program


About the Book: (from
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated

Book Trailer:

About the Author:  (from author website)
Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and PRETTY BABY.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature, and lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.  Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014.

Narrators:  Cassandra Campbell; Tom Taylorson; Jorjeana Marie  - the narration of Pretty Baby was very well done and seamless.  I am a fan of narration by Cassandra Campbell and Jorjeana Marie.  If I see they are narrating a book, I am very likely to check it out!   Jorjeana is remarkable at portraying younger characters.

My Review: I seem to be on a bit of a roll with reading psychological thrillers.   Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica certainly falls into that category.  Initially the book interested me as Heidi is a social worker type person like myself.  Heidi teaches adult literacy and frequently sees a young girl with a baby when riding the train.  Heidi has a good heart and wants to help the young girl.  She can't seem to stop thinking about the young girl, Willow and her baby Ruby.  Heidi eventually makes contact with Willow and she comes to live with Heidi and her family.  

Willow and her baby come to live with Heidi, her husband Chris and their daughter, Zoe.  The story is told in alternating voices of Willow, Heidi and Chris, which worked well for this particular story.  You  are left wondering which voice is reliable and which one is leading you astray.  You can feel the dread. You know something isn't right, but you just can't figure it out.  

My Rating: 4/5 – really liked it-  I don't like to share too much about a thriller, because it takes the fun out of it for those who have not yet read it.  Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica deals with child abuse, homelessness and the failure of the foster care system.  The characters are well developed and you really understand their feelings of guilt, loss and regret.  I read Pretty Baby in a housework was done that day!   Mary Kubica is a new author to me, but one I will be checking out again.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica was also reviewed on the following blogs:  Smart Bitches and Trashy Books, Outwardly Introverted, That's What She Read, and  

**Disclosure – Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Title: Those Girls
Author: Chevy Stevens
(Author Website) (Facebook)
Narrators: Jorjeana Marie/Emily Woo Zeller/Nicol Zanzarella
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio
Length:  11 hours and 29 minutes
Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from
Chevy Stevens is back with her most powerful, emotional thriller yet— a story of survival…and revenge.

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.

This time there’s nowhere left to run.

As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.

About the Author:  (from author website)

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

About the Narrators: Jorjeana Marie/Emily Woo Zeller/Nicol Zanzarella - The narration was consistent and flowed very well.  I really found that the voice of each girl help me to identify with them as individuals.  I have enjoyed Jorjeana Marie as a narrator on numerous occasions and find her very talented.

My Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a story of three sisters, Jess, Courtney and Dani who had a very difficult life after their mother dies and are raised by their father on a ranch in western Canada.  After an altercation with their father the sisters leave home.  Those Girls by Chevy Stevens starts out as story of 3 sisters trying to get through a difficult situation to a story of survival for their lives.

The sisters make their way in a stolen truck to Cold Creek, which is where their nightmare begins.  This is a difficult read as you see the darkest of humanity and their actions.  The story is initially told by Jess and 18 years later the narration is taken over by her daughter Skylar. 

Halfway through listening to Those Girls, I realized I had already read the book.  It is so powerful as an audio that I had to finish it.  It is a very emotional read and you truly feel the fear and anger of the characters.  

The  nightmare begins again 18 years later when one sister is set on revenge.  Chevy Stevens is a masterful suspense writer that truly has you heart beating out of your chest until the end. 

My Rating: 3/5 – liked it- Those Girls is not get everyone, it is very intense and touches on the darkest side of humans and trauma they can cause.   You truly feel the fear of the characters. I literally wanted to stop listening, though I knew the ending.  Those Girls is a true thriller with skillful pacing, which maintains the suspense throughout the story and great character development.   You are really invested in and care about the characters. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens was also reviewed on the following blogs:  That's What She Read, Vegan Daemon,  Criminal, Book Journey, and Booking Mama .

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Those Girls by Chevy Stevens was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review. Opinions are my own.