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Cranky Reader

KC, MO
  • 24
  • reviews
  • 9
  • helpful votes
  • 57
  • ratings
  • Trade Me

  • Cyclone, Book 1
  • By: Courtney Milan
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands, Sean Crisden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 332
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 306
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 306

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Systems. But when he makes an offhand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn't last a month living her life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Heart-warming.

  • By ReadingMad100 on 08-17-18

Really, really good. Recommended.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-15-19

In 2019, in our era of perpetual of dumpster fire, when every billionaire has said the quiet parts aloud, I had sworn off billionaire romances. I got this book because I like the author and one of the narrators and missed the cover copy. If anyone could make a billionaire sympathetic, it’s Courtney Milan. I like how she also doesn’t gloss over the privilege that comes with being white & moneyed in America. This story was about the difference between being poor-broke vs temporarily embarrassed of funds-broke. Aka Prince & Pauper. Too many authors strive for the “we’re just reg’lar folk” but Milan correctly went for the 1.3 million+ viewers to the family drama.

The secondary characters come alive even when they have very little on-page time. Tina’s Chinese American mom, dad, & sister all get their say. There’s a hilarious reference to CakeWrecks (name not stated explicitly). Her dad’s “I watch a lot of TV” is dry and sly. Aside from my wondering where the roommate vanished to toward the end, the roommate (trans woman btw) provides a good reality check and is a good friend. The families are part of the developing relationship.

I perfectly bought the heroine’s childhood trauma casting a long shadow; I, myself, have faithfully maintained a CPR & first aid certification for the 36 years since my popcorn-on-fire incident. On the other side, I have a group of friends who great each other with rude names and it always amazes me how outsiders don’t see the affection in the swear words. (There is real, adult *swearing* in this book. It is hard to write this review without joining in that fun.)

The plot was interesting. It wasn’t just characters stuck in their heads. There were technical bits, embarrassing parents, a lucky sweater, and personal demons. It was also LOL funny in places.

Even if, like me, you’ve been giving a pass to the billionaire boyfriend romances (unless you can’t tolerate swearing or a couple of on page sex scenes) you can & should make an exception for Trade Me.

  • The Moore the Merrier

  • Moore Romance, Book 2.5
  • By: V. Soffer, Alex Miska
  • Narrated by: Sean Lenhart, Jill Smith
  • Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

“Our family will always have room for a few more Moores.” The Moore family is growing exponentially this year! All three brothers are enjoying their happily ever afters. Julian and Xander only have four weeks to plan their dream wedding and are waiting impatiently to welcome two homeless teens into their family. Amidst all the merriment, Chance discovers that he has siblings, and they need his help. He’s forced to confront his past, but he won’t have to face it alone.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mating Habits of Domesticated Geeks in New York

  • By Erryn Barratt on 01-08-18

Multiple POVs including the pets. Very fun.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-14-19

I have no idea if this would be ok as a standalone - I’ve listened to the previous books and I still occasionally needed to rewind to check who was who in a couple places. Also, this overlaps previous storyline, which might be needed for context. Really good fun for fans of the series &/or fans of pets narrating. Frankie’s “area of study” references cracked me up.

One good narration touch- when characters say something at the same time, the audio overlaps their comments. I don’t see this often but like it.

  • Grasp

  • Significant Brothers, Book 2
  • By: E. Davies
  • Narrated by: Greg Boudreaux
  • Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

Zoo vet Blane Winters' grumpy attitude and muscles hide a romantic heart. He only relaxes when he's around animals, since he likes them more than people. He has some friends, a good job, and a place of his own, and he's sure that's all he needs. Until he meets a certain incessantly cheerful artist. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • lovely story

  • By JD on 02-10-19

Enjoyable romance plus cute animals

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-10-19

This is my 2nd book* by EDavies and won’t be my last. Grasp has a good mix of humor, tender emotions, steamy emotions and friends and allies rallying around the main couple. (*I read Electric Sunshine which started well then went totally off the rails. Had I remembered, I would not have given this author or book a 2nd chance, but I did and it is good.)

To this non-zookeeper & hobby level artist (me), the characters’ jobs seemed real enough and well integrated into the timeline that I was able to relax into the story, not keep keep a wary eye out for oddities. (This comment brought to you by a book I read 3 days ago that failed to render jobs well. I’m not trying to damn with faint praise, I’m just not an expert on zoos, so I can only say as a fan of zoos, it read as real to me.) The only hiccup here was that while Blaine was often described as liking animals better that people, he was more successfully social than an average gruff romance hero. Maybe there were some post-people scenes where he decompressed that got edited out? Or maybe I misinterpreted them. Either way, he was nice, he was social, and he’s a likeable romance hero who was marketed as less sociable than he actually is.

The narrator was pretty good, but also new to to me so I’m not yet committing to 5 stars but I’ll listen to him again.

The 4 stars instead of 5 is because I felt that some of the emotional decisions were glitchy - Falcon mentions not having long term relationships and Blaine interprets that as him not *wanting* a serious relationship despite every sign pointing to “yes he does”. This goes on for weeks. Basically a “big misunderstanding” type plot, which I generally loathe. It mostly worked here because they kept seeing each other, just stayed emotionally reserved from each other. They were only fooling themselves, not family, friends, coworkers, or readers.

They also have what seemed to me to be an oddly jumpy sex arc. They decide to fool around early to check on compatibility (wise, imho) but before they even break their (first?) kiss, one of them is thinking that it’s his best sex yet. um. about that. Maybe someone who is not me has unironically had this same mental revelation, of thinking a hot kiss is their best sex ever, but it threw the pacing off. Moving those thoughts, say, a page or two later and they would have made more sense to me. Then for the next little while they are oddly reserved around each other. I can see that happening to real people, so it’s fine, but the path back to more physicality was again laced with fraught emotions that seemed to me to jump the gun. This might read as normal to someone else, but again, threw me out of the moment and into edit/evaluation mode.

One last thing (that does not affect my star rating here as I’m trying to rate for what the story is, not what it isn’t) is that the book is full of LGBT characters and allies accepting people for who they are and it scanned to me as if every character was white. Almost 20% of Knoxville is black. There’s a pile of friends who have every reason to meet people of color at work. Some of the folks descriptors were unspecified so maybe they are there? But things like this bother me more in books with large casts of characters about love & inclusion and so I’m saying something.

Summary: it’s a good book with pleasant heroes who do right by each other, have good friends, have a couple of sexytimes (m/m) on page, turn to each other during the plot difficulty, and leave one smiling and looking forward to the series. Recommended.

(Hey Audible! Where are the remaining series audiobooks? Right now there are only 2 of 6.)

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • How Not to Blend

  • Lovestrong Book, 1
  • By: Susan Hawke
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79

 

Dr. Corbin Davis is a busy guy just trying to do his best as a single parent. He may be oblivious to a lot of things, but surely he would’ve noticed something as important as his 15-year-old son Grayson being bullied, right? And what the heck is nonbinary, and why hasn’t Gray shared this all-important part of himself with his own dad? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Laugh out loud! Best book in a long time!

  • By ILoveBooksSue on 01-31-19

charming and fun

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-09-19

Found book by looking for Michael Pauley’s narration - not sure if he just picks good books or if his narration makes the difference in how enjoyable a book is, but either way, I enjoyed this one.

Trigger Warnings: hate based violence, & accidentally injured dog

This romance moved almost glacially, but it was still a fun trip, with good friends and good drag. The main characters all have good friends and allies that help things along.

The only issue I had was that for all it was LGBTQ friendly, it was pretty white and I’m noticing that sort of exclusion more these days.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Prince in Leather

  • Hearth Motel, Book 1
  • By: Holley Trent
  • Narrated by: Pyper Down
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 36

An inherited curse has kept depressed innkeeper Simone Bristol bound to a rundown beach motel for the past six years. Just when she has a chance to break free of it, some visiting guests check in and reset the curse's clock. They may have foiled her getaway, but it turns out one of those guests could be her respite.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Super fun fairy soap opera

  • By Joss1685 on 09-07-17

Did not finish

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-19

Didn’t like the heroine. Found the “destined to be mated” situation eyeroll worthy. Returned after chapter 4 or 5. Not to my taste.

  • Made Mine: A Protectors / Made Marian Crossover

  • By: Sloane Kennedy, Lucy Lennox
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169

What happens when a group of tough vigilantes meets up with a big-hearted family with boundary issues? Reese: It’s supposed to be an easy job. You know, the kind you get after you’ve been gone a while and the boss is unsure of how capable you still are? But then there’s a mugging, an abduction, two thugs, and a blackmail scheme. And smack-dab in the middle of it is a beautiful lost soul who needs me. The scared, young gamer-geek pushes all my protective buttons and awakens something inside me that’s ready to dive right in and inhale the man. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • so frustrating!

  • By Troy Michael on 10-05-18

Fun crossover. Great pet names.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-04-19

I read the Made Marian series & “Unexpected” as recommended. There are enough Marians (& a dad cameo) in this book that it’s probably a good idea to do that too for max enjoyment but not wholly necessary. (“Unexpected” has some graphic nastiness in parts that some readers might prefer to skip.)

While I enjoyed much of the emotional bonding in the story, I found the background/driving action plot strange & over the top. It wasn’t clear to me how kidnapping a little kid was going to get the bad-actors needs met, or how the later drama was supposed to help. I thought much of the problems caused by those external agents could have been caused via more pedestrian and likely means but hey, they’re still living in a fictional world where a sitting US president isn’t a daily dumpster fire so I could be wrong in my assessment. If you like overly dramatic motivations this could be entirely your bag, baby. But I’m knocking off I am star for it.

Ben & Reese are pretty good together. The pairing was fitting as they’re both lonely guys who are looking to be less lonely but one comes from obscurity and the other from overexposure. FYI, there are fewer sexytimes in this book than there were in the prereq readings. It was fine, y’all just might want to know. Ben is terrific with Georgie & her pets. Georgie and her bugs steal the show a bit but I have no complaints on that front.

For all the danger and beatings of main characters. they are survivable affronts. The good guys kick ass and take names without substantial brutality so it’s a fairly safe pick for someone who wants a feel good read. It really is a cross between the two authors’ styles that fans of either or both are likely to enjoy

  • Made Marian Shorts

  • By: Lucy Lennox
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 4 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 142
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 129

The Marians aren’t the only ones finding their happy ever after! In this collection of four short stories, some of our beloved secondary characters from the Made Marian series steal the show and find a love of their own. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Secondary characters find their match!

  • By DPiazzi on 08-07-18

Fun

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-03-19

Good roundup of secondary (tertiary?) characters for series fans or a good intro to the author for non fans. My favorite might be the first, with Brad & Miles. Some stories seemed a tad abrupt in the romance but hey, short stories. And they are fun.

  • Delivering Dante

  • Made Marian Series, Book 6
  • By: Lucy Lennox
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 422
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 402
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 404

Every new relationship has obstacles, it just turns out that ours involves my bumbling inexperience, an octogenarian naughty toy party, and being on the run in an RV with Aunt Tilly. When my biological father takes his homophobic views on a national platform, the only way to stand up for what I believe in is to claim my past and confront him. So now it's time to decide: Do I put the past behind me and walk away from AJ for good? Or face my biggest fear and fight for what's mine?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Finally!!

  • By Readaholic on 06-11-17

Possibly best of the series. Quite funny.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-19

After the previous book disappointed me, I almost called off reading this one but I’d already bought the audiobook and I hate returning things. Good thing, because Dante & AJ’s story was wonderful, caring and funny, while dealing with past tragedy & current emotions.

Trigger Warning for teen-child abuse by peers and parents. It is not overly graphic but the fact of it is central to the plot. The author is very deft in keeping the book from bogging down in the tragedy, being rather a book about creating success after tragedy. I was nervous a few times about how some situations seemed to be handled, but they were resolved safely/sanely. (aka I worried someone was getting stalkerish but when given a hard no they backed off, as is safe and proper. Whew!) Seems like a healthy take on things but I come from a no drama home so YMMV.

This book had several LOL moments which came both from prose & from situation. Aunt Tillie features heavily, of course, but not only for comic relief. She’s integral from start to finish. And you may or may not want to know what she likes to eat on toast.

The Family gathers around in support in a way that helps Dante. Easter Egg views abound of ongoing characters for series readers. It’s delightful. It feels like the driver behind most of the plot is Dante’s journey, more than AJ’s, but it still felt balanced to me because Dante had more to still overcome. At the end, it feels like these are two guys with great families that will stick to their happier ever after. Recommended.

  • Moving Maverick

  • A Made Marian Novel
  • By: Lucy Lennox
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 434
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410

“Do you remember what you promised?”Maverick: I haven't been back to Rabbit Island, South Carolina, since my parents died and my grandmother, Mimi, rejected me. I'm only returning now to attend....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing!!

  • By Aimee on 06-15-18

Odd one out. Least liked of series.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-19

If I hadn’t been reading the series, I might not have finished this book. Good thing I did because the last few chapters were the best part. At the start, the story just took too many wild leaps. It didn’t explain enough backstory and backstory-timeline to allow a reader (specifically this reader) make sense of why the characters did what they did. The reconciliation was a pushmepullyou of nonsense that would have made more sense if they were a Grindr hookup than old friends.

Setting was great. Secondary characters were sterling. Weird little tidbits and secondary plots were fun, if predictably ties in to the main story. Resolution was satisfying. But the first third of the book was a confusing hot mess that likely only fans of the series will want to wade through.

  • Grounding Griffin

  • A Made Marian Novel
  • By: Lucy Lennox
  • Narrated by: Michael Pauley
  • Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 512
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 485
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 486

Griff: I learned early on that the easiest way to avoid a broken heart is to always be the first out the door. Caring about anyone or anything is asking to be disappointed, which is why I avoid relationships and chase freelance gigs instead of chasing my dreams. Besides, dreams don't come true for people like me. And no one, not even the sexy-as-hell bartender at the club can convince me otherwise. Because I'm never risking my heart again.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enhance your life, listen to this book/series

  • By myvicariouslife on 03-28-17

Good continuing story, wish it felt more polished.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-22-19

Generally liked this installment with Griff & Sam. The pet name thing was a fun device & the tattoo was incorporated into the story well.

What wasn’t incorporated as well were jobs and best friends. I feel more like this is a note for the editor rather than a review for readers. Griff’s BFF & Sam’s sister are apparently Very Important to each of them but don’t get even a thought in their heads until the book is more than a third of the way along. And at that point, as far as we know, they both drop out of working to hang with each other, except that they kept working but never think about it or refer to it after their jobs dominate the first third of the book. It was weird. They spend mental time and dialogue on Sam’s future restaurant (solution obvious to all readers of the series) but never once do we see Griff dit down to write. Which is weird because narration occurs from his POV, so we’re in his head, and we never see him discussing the feedback on the article that sets up the meet cute. Griff never goes back to ogle Sam at work & drink silly drinks. Which felt like a loss after the first third of the book was almost entirely that.

None of this is bad, necessarily. We’re here for the relationship, not quotidian drudgery. But not seeing their lives outside their apartments except for family events and volunteering felt weird. I found myself wondering what Griff’s desk & writing schedule were. Did Sam’s schedule shift his writing schedule? A lot of stuff actually happens in this book with secondary characters, so to miss obvious things with the primary characters felt off.

This book needed one more editing pass for story arc continuity to go from good to great. Still worth a read. There’s good stuff in it. Aunt Tillie demanding a ride is pretty good comic relief you should watch for.