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  • The Theory of Second Best

  • Cake Series, Book 2
  • By: J. Bengtsson
  • Narrated by: Zachary Webber, Andi Arndt
  • Length: 10 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,325
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,130
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,120

Kyle McKallister has lived his life in the shadows. Younger brother to one of the world's most elusive and embattled celebrities, Kyle has carved out a comfortable existence touring with his famous brother and living in the lap of luxury with no commitments or plans of his own, only a deep, haunting loyalty to his brother. But his life is about to be shaken up when the opportunity comes to compete on a popular reality show.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great series!!

  • By jodiod on 05-01-17

Reality TV, real romance.

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

Reviewed: 04-24-19

This book threw us all into a situation completely different from that of Cake. Where Jake and Casey were on tour staying in a top of the line tour bus and the best hotels, Kyle and Kenzie, along with 16 other people, are stranded on an island for a month. There was no luxury to be found there. Relatively easily working past their first unfortunate encounter on the boat on the way over, the two become close. Their team of nine has been divided into two uneven groups: one with the people deemed the five power players and four outcasts. To round out Kyle and Kenzie's quad are Dale, a husband, father of three and tech geek, and Marcia, who owns a farm, hates bras and has a propensity for spouting random facts and generally getting on everybody's nerves. It's with the loyalty and teamwork of those four that they are able to get so far in the competition.

Kenzie is the mother figure in the household she shares with her father and 16-year-old triplet siblings. After her mother's death, she was forced to step up and raise her siblings. For years she has put everyone's happiness and dreams ahead of her own. This show is her opportunity to finally be able to pursue a life of her own. Kyle, on the other hand, has been content to live in the shadow of his brother's fame and fortune. He is the never serious guy who loves to joke around, flirt and has a comeback for anything. This show is his opportunity to be someone other than Jake McKallister's younger brother. They both get their wish, though maybe not in the way they had envisioned.

In this book we get to hear more about Jake's kidnapping from both Kyle and Jake. Having been there at the time of the kidnapping, Kyle has lived with that darkness and the nightmares for years. After his experience on the show and feeling like an improved version of himself, he knows it's time to confront these issues once and for all.

This book is HEA with no cliffhanger. It's fun, flirty, and funny. I'll be curious to listen to the third book in the Cake series, Fiercely Emma. While Emma was brought more into play in this book, she doesn't have the kind of closeness that Jake and Kyle share. It will be interesting to see how her story plays out in relation to the stories of her brothers.

  • Cake

  • A Love Story
  • By: J. Bengtsson
  • Narrated by: Andi Arndt, Joe Arden
  • Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,202
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,701
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,684

Jake McKallister might have been a rock star, but he was no ordinary one. Surviving an unspeakable crime as a young teen had shaped him into a guarded workaholic, and he now lived his life trying to forget. If it hadn't been for music and the redemption he found through it, he might not have survived. Career success came easily for him. Personal connections did not.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Freakin Rockin Book

  • By Alanna on 12-22-16

Pranking the rockstar.

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

Reviewed: 04-24-19

I didn't find this book quite as hilarious as J. Bengtsson's Like the Wind, but it was still a cute story with some funny aspects thrown in, largely courtesy of Casey, who just can't help herself when it comes to teasing and pranking. She is light hearted and upbeat but down to earth. She is an incredibly interesting character, something the other characters of the book discover quite quickly.

Jake has a dark past. He's gone from being famous for escaping a serial murder who kidnapped him when he was just a teen to deriving his fame from his talent with music. He has fans worldwide that worship him, including the many groupies who want to be able to say they bagged a rock star. After the tragedy that befell him in his younger years though, he has kept everybody at a distance. Until Casey. She is unlike any woman he has ever met. Being pranked was definitely not what he was expecting when he was introduced to her. Their playful banter and ease of being with one another sucks both Jake and Casey right in.

Over the course of this book, bits and pieces about Jake's past are revealed. He finds himself comfortable with Casey in a way he is only truly comfortable with his family and opens up to her a little at a time, without her having to pry it out of him. She's one of the only people he's met that isn't trying to push him for information. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect next sometimes with how much Jake's past was plaguing him still. I feared it would come between them, but not for the reason he thought it would. I thought it would end up coming between them in his refusal to open up and share that part of himself and his past with her. As it turns out, both his and my worries were for nothing.

The majority of the book is spent with Casey on tour with Jake. The story features great highs and rocky times alike. Overall, their time on tour is something of an adventure. Casey opens Jake up to things he'd never thought to try before (like playing tourist at the stops on his European tour). Overall, a great book with no cliffhanger and a HEA ending. Knowing how close Jake is with Kyle, I am very excited to move on to his story in The Theory of Second Best.

  • Like the Wind

  • By: J. Bengtsson
  • Narrated by: Callie Dalton, Zachary Webber
  • Length: 9 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,006
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,892
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,894

When a letter from his supposedly deceased mother finds its way into his hands, life changes in an instant for international pop star Bodhi Beckett. Reeling from the deception of those closest to him, Bodhi spirals out of control and is sent to a secluded mansion in the coastal mountains of Southern California for some rest and relaxation. But the retreat proves to be anything but relaxing when a raging wildfire sets the landscape around him ablaze. While escaping the flames, Bodhi rescues Breeze, a quirky, pet-loving woman, and together the two fight their way to safety. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing.

  • By Lindsay on 01-17-19

Absolutely hilarious - loved it!

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

Reviewed: 04-11-19

Hilarious. That's the first word that comes to mind with this book. It had me full out laughing I don't even know how many times. I listened to almost the entirety of it while doing yard work and it definitely made it much more enjoyable, not to mention go by quickly. After reading this book, I will definitely be moving on to read more of J. Bengtsson's works!

  • International Player

  • By: Louise Bay
  • Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld, Shane East
  • Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,364
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,260
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,259

Being labelled a player never stopped me from being successful with women. Until I met Truly Harbury. Truly was the first girl who ever turned me down. And she might just be the first woman with whom I ever fall in love. When an emergency means she needs my help running her family’s charity, I’m happy to introduce her to the glitz and glamour of the London business world - taking her to dinners, coaching her through speeches, zipping up the sexy evening gown I helped her pick out. The more time we spend together, the more I want to convince her I’m not a man to avoid.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Slow Start — Excellent Story

  • By janatallow on 01-26-19

Sweet story, but nothing remarkable.

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

Reviewed: 04-11-19

This book featured a sweet story of friends to lovers. I did enjoy the story, but it didn't stand out as amazing. Still, it was well written. I listened to the Audible version of this book and it seemed to go by rather quickly. The narration was okay, but not the best I've heard. The range of both narrators' voices seemed rather limited, though I did appreciate having both a male and female narrator. After reading this book, I don't feel a strong urge to go on to read more of Louise Bay's books, but I wouldn't be opposed to reading them either.

  • The Catch

  • By: K. Bromberg
  • Narrated by: Andi Arndt, Joe Arden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,136
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,064
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,060

After an unexpected twist of fate, All-Star catcher Easton Wylder is left questioning the loyalty of everyone around him. Even the woman who shares his bed, Scout Dalton. But if Easton thought being uprooted to the last place he expected was the only challenge life had to throw at him, he was dead wrong. With an ailing shoulder and his career in limbo, his decision to make an unexpected change leads him to question everything.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • OK romance, but a cliffhanger

  • By James on 08-03-17

Part 2 of Scout & Easton's story.

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

Reviewed: 04-11-19

This book is the completion of Scout and Easton's story. The first part of the book was a bit odd in the sense that so many of the chapters sounded like an ending. I'm not sure if that has to do with the writing or narration, though (I listened to the Audible version of this book).

Over the course of this book Scout and Easton have to face many challenges both individually and as a couple. After the giant fight at the beginning of the book, those challenges only served to make their relationship stronger. I was really nice to see them work together as a couple to get through so many things, each supporting the other when needed and working as a team to solve problems. I just absolutely loved the connection they had to one another. The two compliment each other so well and their love for one another is evident.

This book most definitely features a HEA ending and no cliffhanger. Overall, between The Player and this book, this was a great story. It pulled me in and kept engaged. It made me laugh and there were parts that almost made me cry. This book seems to have a good amount of steaminess to it. The sex scenes aren't overly explicit while still giving some details of the act itself.

Andi Arndt and Joe Arden did a wonderful job in narrating this book. I really enjoy the tone of both of their voices and will look forward to hearing their narration in the future.

  • The Player

  • By: K. Bromberg
  • Narrated by: Joe Arden, Andi Arndt
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,153
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,085
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,083

Easton Wylder is baseball royalty. The game is his life. His passion. His everything. So when an injury threatens to end Easton's season early, the team calls in renowned physical therapist, Doc Dalton, to oversee his recovery. Except it's not Doc who greets Easton for his first session, but rather, his daughter, Scout. She may be feisty, athletic, defiant, and gorgeous, but Easton is left questioning whether she has what it takes to help him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ANOTHER HOME RUN FOR K.B... BUT A CLIFFHANGER

  • By 🔹🔹🔹CAROLYN 🔹🔹🔹 on 04-24-17

Ends in a huge cliffhanger, but was a great book.

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

Reviewed: 04-11-19

Holy cliffhanger! K. Bromberg does an excellent job building the tension and anticipation near the ending of the book, both in the characters and the readers. Easton finally gets the call from his agent regarding whether or not he's back on the roster and then BAM. End of book. I am moving on to reading The Catch immediately. I need to know what happens next!

  • Lucky Suit

  • By: Lauren Blakely
  • Narrated by: Zachary Webber, Andi Arndt
  • Length: 2 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14,795
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,469
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13,429

I'm breaking up with setups. No more “you should meet my son, nephew, grandson, the butcher, the guy down the street who mows my lawn.” People mean well, but machines know better, so I'll rely on the great dating algorithms of the web to find my ideal man, thank you very much. Soon enough, it looks like I’ve found him - his screen name is Lucky Suit, and he’s hilarious, quick-witted, and full of heart. But when we finally get together in person, I have the distinct feeling I’ve met him before. Funny enough - he says the same thing about me. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So cute!!

  • By KindleKat64 on 02-06-19

I don't think I'll ever tire of Blakely's bookss.

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

Reviewed: 03-30-19

I don't think I will ever get tired of Lauren Blakely's books. I enjoy her writing style, humor and witticism. Her books are engaging, fun and sweet. This was a short story I only wish wasn't so short. It was a nice little tease for the books Birthday Suit (Lulu's story) and the forthcoming Never Have I Ever (Piper's story). Needless to say, I am itching to read those soon.

Something I think made this book even better was the choice of narrators: Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber. They both have such great voices and I always love it when a book told from both the female's and male's point of view is narrated by corresponding narrators. I really appreciated that all of Kristen and Cameron's lines were spoken by Arndt and Webber (respectively), regardless of whose point of view the story was being told from at that moment.

  • You Will Pay

  • By: Lisa Jackson
  • Narrated by: Scott Merriman, Teri Clark Linden
  • Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 528
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 459
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 460

It starts as a prank - a way to blow off steam after a long summer at Camp Horseshoe. Among the teen counselors, tensions and hormones are running high. No wonder the others agree when Jo-Beth Chancellor suggests they scare Monica O'Neal a little.... or a lot. Monica has it coming, and no one will really get hurt. What could go wrong? Everything.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Was that Siri?

  • By Laurel on 09-25-17

Not fully satisfied with the story.

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

Reviewed: 03-27-19

**Note: spoiler alert for the the second full paragraph only - it is marked below.**

3.5 stars

This book was definitely interesting as it changed between the past and present, telling the story of what happened that summer as the present day investigation unfolds. The book is told from the perspective of many characters: Lucas, Bernadette, Annette, Nelle, Sosi, Jo-Beth, Riva, Monica, Jayla, Tyler (all counselors at Camp Horseshoe that summer), Maggie (Lucas' partner) and more (please forgive any misspellings, as I listened to the Audible version of this book and never saw many of the names in print). Lucas was the most featured perspective in the book. Both narrators, Teri Clark Linden and Scott Merriman, did well. I enjoyed Merriman's narration more than Linden's, though.

One issue I had with the book is that I felt some things weren't followed all the way through. For example, (**spoiler alert**) what happened with Tyler once he was arrested. I would've loved to hear more about how he behaved once he was taken in and what he may have said in any interviews along with what he was thinking during it all. Another example would be the night Monica died. We are told of Tyler's plans to kill Monica, but we don't actually get to see it play out. We get the story told from his point of view only through him stabbing himself and then laying down between the pews with the intent to go after Monica. We never see him actually do it. I'm really curious as to how he was able to move quickly enough to chase and catch her with a knife in his back as well as what happened once he did catch her. How exactly did he kill her? How did her head end up in the cove and the rest of her body on the beach (at least that's how it appeared as they were discovering the bones)? Additionally, we never find out exactly why Jo-Beth was so intent on controlling what the other girls told the police.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but wasn't fully satisfied with the story I got. The book does feature a HEA ending with no cliffhanger.

  • Chill Factor

  • A Novel
  • By: Sandra Brown
  • Narrated by: Stephen Lang
  • Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,572
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 943
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 949

Cleary, North Carolina, is a sleepy mountain town, the kind of place where criminal activity is usually limited to parking violations. Not so, lately. Four women have disappeared from Cleary over the past two years. And there's always a blue ribbon left near the spot where each of the women was last seen. There are no bodies, no other clues, and no suspicion as to who their abductor might be. And now, another woman has disappeared without a trace.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I'd have peeked at the ending ...

  • By Susan on 10-06-05

Kept me guessing as to the identity of the killer.

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

Reviewed: 03-27-19

Another excellent read by Sandra Brown! She had me guessing at the killer until he was revealed, giving me so many other people to suspect that I never suspected him (though I may have found him off-putting). The story was engaging and I never knew what exactly would happen next. I loved how many times Brown was able to surprise me as I read. That isn't always an easy thing to find in a book. The only thing about the book that didn't seem to flow to me was Lilly and Tiereny's romance. It really didn't feel like it progressed enough over the course of a couple of days for them to then come together after months, in love and wanting to be together. Feeling like they were in love while there could be a side effect of the situation and emotions running high, but wouldn't necessarily last beyond the close confinement, especially after not having any kind of contact for quite some time following the event. Regardless, Lilly and Tiereny appear to find their HEA. The book has no cliffhanger.

I very much enjoyed Stephen Lang's narration of the book. He did well with giving characters unique voices that seemed to really add to their overall character. Listing to his performance was definitely very engaging.

  • Getting Schooled

  • By: Emma Chase
  • Narrated by: Zachary Webber, Andi Arndt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,784
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,637
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,637

Garrett Daniels has this whole life thing figured out. The cocky, charismatic former high school star quarterback is an idolized football coach and "cool" teacher in the hometown where he's not just a golden boy - he's platinum. He has good friends, a great house on the lake, and the best damn sidekick a man could ask for: Snoopy, the albino beagle. Then...Callie Carpenter comes home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hilarious yet Romantic

  • By Maya on 04-07-18

Rediscovering love - sweet, funny, sexy. Loved it!

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

Reviewed: 03-20-19

I'm having a hard time finding the words to describe how much I loved this book and why. In a way, it was everything about it. There's a full cast of colorful, dimensional characters in this book, not just the protagonists. It made the book that much more fun. The story line is sweet and funny with some sexy thrown in. Parts of the story are definitely meaningful (such as certain life events and life lessons) and this book can tug at the emotions (or just flat out rip them open - see the warning at the end of my review). I loved the humor this book was interspersed with. Overall, I loved the book, getting so engrossed in its world and invested in its characters, and was so sad to see it end.

Garrett and Callie are high school sweethearts who have been reunited by a car accident that resulted in each of her parents breaking a leg (an accident that was 100% their fault and nothing one typically wishes to know about their parents). Now someone needs to be able to take care of them in the evenings: Callie. Having just received a huge promotion at work to what amounts to her dream job, Callie is thankfully able to get time off. Unfortunately, the pay for that time off won't be enough to cover living expenses, so she steps in for the school's drama teacher who is currently out on maternity leave. I adored the relationships both Garrett and Callie had with their students. It was clear that both cared deeply for their students and the students respected them and truly liked and connected to them. Callie and Garrett were teachers in and out of the classroom, teaching kids more than just history and theatre. They taught life lessons like how to be a good person and how to deal with difficult things in your life. The antics of the high schoolers were often entertaining. Emma Chase did a great job of conveying the high school culture and the students' behavior, attitudes, thoughts and emotions.

Both narrators, Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber, did an excellent job. They made the story come alive. They were able to have distinct voices for different characters as to tell them apart and add to their unique personalities.

**One warning for anyone who loves their pet(s): circa chapter 20 might be very difficult. It made me cry. The fact that it is something so real makes it difficult to read for those of us who have had to make the rough decision to end their pet's suffering. As hard as that part was to read, I wouldn't let it stop me from reading the book again (considering it was only a fraction of it and the rest is too good to pass up).