Monday, October 29, 2012

The Art Forger by, B.A. Shapiro narrated by, Xe Sands

The Art Forger by, B.A. Shapiro narrated by, Xe Sands
Highbridge audio
10 Hours

This is a fascinating look at the art world and Claire’s role in it; I guess I never realized there was such a huge business in painting reproductions. When Claire shows her own works though she wonders; if you are so good at making reproductions, plus have a bit of scandal attached to you are people really there for your art or the novelty which is sad for Claire.

Claire is at times so naïve but it seems like it is mostly with them manipulative men she allows in her life, Aiden & Isaac, and what bothers me is she doesn’t even realize it half the time even in the end *no spoilers*…

This book made me want to do more research on the art world, forgers and thieves and I hope that it was an exaggerated view on the art world but I have a feeling it isn’t so farfetched.

This book is well written, a bit of a slow build trying to figure out the mystery of which painting is real and which isn’t and made me wonder how many of the “masterpieces” out there are really forgeries? I also liked that she tied this into the Gardner Museum heist because I remember that happening and it always fascinated me.

This is a quick story that I wish had been longer with more information and the end felt a little rushed. I did wish there was a bit more meat to it, more background on the relationships and why Claire allows herself to be used in the ways she was. All in all though I enjoyed this book I just wish there had been more of it. I would definitely read more by this author.

Xe Sands narration is great when Claire gets nervous and scared when she thinks she’s going to get caught my heart was in my stomach she made me feel those emotions so fully! There is only a small quibble I wish that Isabella’s voice had been a little more different than Claire’s sometimes it took me a second to realize that the story had switched to Isabella. But other than that I thought Xe’s narration was very well done.

3 ½ Stars

Full Disclosure: I received this book from the audiobookjukebox Solid Gold reviewer program & Highbridge audio for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Secret Keeper by, Kate Morton narrated by, Caroline Lee

The Secret Keeper by, Kate Morton narrated by, Caroline Lee

Another great book from Kate Morton; she sure knows how to weave a story. This one is a story of secrets, family, murder and of learning the truth before its too late. When Laurel was a child she witnesses something very disturbing and now 40 years later her mother is dying and she sets out to find the truth behind what happened. But what she finds isn’t what she expects does she even know her mother at all. Her mom always said they were her second chance but from what or who?

As always Kate Morton blends the past and present story together with masterful ease, I had such a hard time turning this off (audio) I did not want to stop listening for a minute, this one grabbed me in the first 5 minutes and never let me go right up to the end. I started suspecting certain things **No Spoilers** and was glad when it confirmed I was right. I think the biggest lesson Laurel learned in this one was that the mother she knew and loved all her life was still that same woman even with all her secrets laid bare, it really didn’t change anything in her feelings towards her mother and I liked that.

The story of Dorothy’s past gave such a great feel of England during the blitz, how even with bombs dropping people tried to keep their chin up. I really felt the atmosphere of the time.

There was also a Doctor Who reference that made me love this author all the more!

Caroline Lee does the narration, and I just love the combination of these two women Caroline conveys Kate’s words better than I think anyone could, I also will forever say Zaaanzibaah (Zanzibar) the way Lady Gwendolyn does it was so perfect, right there I knew what this woman looked like and who this woman was! I highly recommend all of Kate Morton’s books on audio they are all read by the wonderful Caroline Lee!

If you can’t tell I love this author and will read whatever she writes and look forward to another book very soon!

4 ½ Stars

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Orchardist by, Amanda Coplin narrated by, Mark Bramhall

The Orchardist by, Amanda Coplin narrated by, Mark Bramhall

This is a quiet book about flawed people, what your upbringing can turn you into and why even when given a fighting chance some people can’t get over what was done to them. This isn’t a great drama, or a thrill ride it is really just Talmadge’s story told in a sad way, rueful and regretful.

Talmadge is a quiet man working his orchards and still not over the disappearance of his sister years ago, when one day 2 young girls dirty, hungry and pregnant have wandered onto his property looking for food. The girls Jane & Della & Talmadge finally come to tentative understanding that he will leave them food and he will not try to touch them or talk to them. When the girls go into labor only one baby lives; Angeline, who becomes a huge part of Talmadge’s life, but there is a man looking for these girls and the events of that day will haunt all their lives forever.

This is not a happy story but there is something about it that grabs at your heart plus the imagery of the orchard and the time period is done so beautifully. I am finding it very hard to put into words the emotions this book evoked and honestly I’m not sure if it would have done the same without Mark Bramhall’s narration.

Mark Bramhall’s narration is pretty much a straight read, yet is compelling at the same time. I’ll be honest I don’t usually like straight reads I like variation of characters but Mark Bramhall has this voice that gets your attention with its calm  fluidity. I can’t image anyone else’s voice being as perfect for this book as his.

I think this is one of those books that will stay with me awhile and the sad people in it, yet this books is so beautiful , lyrical and flowing. What amazes me is this is a first novel I think Amanda Coplin will be an author to watch and I look forward to more from her!

4  Stars

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Woman in Black by, Susan Hill narrated by, Ralph Cosham

Since I didn't get a chance to read/listen to any scary books this October this is a review from one I read & listened to last year. I read it first then re-read it on audio, yes it's that good! I have also seen the play and the movie and really liked them all! So this is a review of both the book and the audio.

The Woman in Black by, Susan Hill narrated by Ralph Cosham

This was a good spooky ghost story not gory but psychologically suspenseful. Arthur Kripps is given the task of going through the papers of a woman he has never met her, but his firm is handling her affairs after her death. What Arthur finds in the town and house is something that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

This book was written very well with just the right amount of suspense and trepidation, as events happen to Arthur I found myself with butterflies in my stomach and was glad no one came up behind me while I was reading. I liked that the author made you feel the darkness, smell the marshes, and hear the sounds and that’s what’s great about this book it has great atmosphere and does a good job at pulling you in.

If you are a fan of Victorian ghost stories I highly recommend this book this will be a book I will recommend to anyone who likes ghost stories that are suspenseful without any blood & gore.

What can I say about Ralph Cosham that hasn't already been said his voice is just so perfect, he has the voice of a superb storyteller with perfect inflection and pacing when it is needed. I highly recommend this version from Blackstone Audio.

This was my first book by Susan Hill and after her descriptive writing in this book I will try others by her.

4 Stars

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Ruby Ring by, Diane Haeger narrated by, Elizabeth Wiley

*The above picture isn't the same as the audio cover but the only cover was on audible and didn't think I could use that one.*

The Ruby Ring by, Diane Haeger narrated by, Elizabeth Wiley

I did like this book overall; it was an interesting depiction of the time period and the perks and hazards of being a great painter with commissions that need to be done especially when these commissions are from the Pope himself. As with other artists I’ve read about, Raphael became a bit obsessed with Margherita at the detriment to his work. I did feel bad for them in the end because of all the interference in their lives also the way Margherita was treated by these men in Raphael’s life especially while Raphael was on his death bed, they all knew how much Raphael loved this woman but they were so evil to her. The more I read on this time period the less respect I have for these supposed clerics, they were the biggest schemers and frauds of them all and were able to get away with it because they were clerics.

I wish there had been more of the rivalry between Raphael, da Vinci & Michelangelo, I found this an interesting side story and wish there had been more of it. I am not a big fan of romance novels and there were times when the romance of these two had me rolling my eyes and hoping to get on with more plot and less romance. Again, as I read about this time period the church sure had their hand in everything from who Raphael could marry and who he couldn’t. But when you are betrothed to a Cardinal’s niece who has the ear of the De Medici Pope I guess they have a bit of a vested interest in your life, especially when you are spending more time with your model/mistress than you are on finishing the project for the Pope.

This did make me do some research and with the portrayal of Cardinal Bibbiena I was very surprised to see he was a comedy writer? What? He sure didn’t seem to have a sense of humor in this book he was pretty despicable. I also found the painting The Betrothal of Raphael and the Niece of Cardinal Bibbiena by, painter Jacques-Louis David which showed that some of the facts were there but when reading the description it said that the likeness of Maria the cardinal's niece was inspired by an image of a woman once identified as Raphael's mistress, called "La Fornarina"., so it made me wonder if that was really Margherita. As I have said in other reviews of historical fiction if a book makes me want to do research about the people or places than it did a good job of engaging me.

Elizabeth Wiley’s narration was good if a bit over the top at times, some characters had a more pronounced accent than others but I believe she was trying to convey the characters personality. One voice that just rubbed me the wrong way because of the accent and key was the nuns voice it was too high and shrill, Maria’s voice was annoying too. But either I got used to the narration or Elizabeth got into a rhythm and became more comfortable with the accents as I felt they got better the longer I listened. By the end of the book I was enjoying her narration and thought she did well at transitioning between the Italian accents and the narrative with her regular voice. I would seek out other books narrated by Elizabeth Wiley.

3 ½ Stars

***Full disclosure I received this audiobook from The Solid Gold Reviewers Program at***

Monday, October 8, 2012

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky narrated by, Johnny Heller

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky narrated by, Johnny Heller
Published by, Recorded Books

Ok, we need to address this right away, Yes there is sex, drug use and drinking, Yes they are teens , But I thought it was written so realistically that none of these things mattered to me. Now on with my review.

I really liked this book, more than I expected to! I thought this was a very true to life story although I will admit I could have gone without the ending but I was waiting for the shoe to drop all the way through but I thought someone (probably Sam) was going to die that isn’t a spoiler because that never happens. I liked how loving and supportive Charlie’s family was. Also the friendship between Charlie, Sam & Patrick was just so well, for lack of a better word good, I liked how they all accepted each other for who they were.

I “got” Charlie’s love of reading some of my favorite quotes about reading were:

“I have finished To Kill a Mockingbird. It is now my favorite book of all time, but then again, I always think that until I read another book.”

                        “What's your favorite book?  "The last one I read.”

                  “It's strange to describe reading a book as a really great experience, but that's kind of how it felt.”

I also liked some of Charlie’s observations on life and the people around him, there were times he seemed so wise beyond his years and other times when he was so naïve you just felt like doing a face palm. I also had a little trouble with the timeline I guess to me it didn’t feel like the 90’s more late 70’s early 80’s,  that could be because that’s when I was this age and I was really “feeling” this book.

I listened to this on audio narrated by Johnny Heller who I thought was well suited for this one, he had this innocent quality in voice that worked so perfectly for Charlie. It was so different from other books I’ve listened to by this narrator and to me that is what makes a great narrator, not when they sound exactly the same in every book but play the part for each individual book. ****IF you can find this version I highly recommend it!

If you can’t tell I really enjoyed this book, and had a hard time not listening and got a little testy when people would try to talk to me. This is one that I think will stay with me awhile!

4 stars

****Audible has replaced this version with a version with a supposedly younger sounding narrator but I thought Johnny’s narration was spot on and don’t understand the need to re-do this one!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crocodile on the Sandbank by, Elizabeth Peters narrated by, Barbara Rosenblat

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1) by, Elizabeth Peters narrated by, Barbara Rosenblat

Oh we've come a long way baby!

Some of the sexist things that came out of Emerson’s mouth:

A woman with an inquiring mind is there such a thing!

Think, Peabody; if you have ever used your brain now is the time.”

“Speak, then. That is the trouble with women, even the best of them.” Emerson added. “They will indulge in vain cries of ‘if only’ and ‘had I known.’

Even though Emerson is at times an arrogant prig I couldn’t help giggling at some of the things he said and Amelia’s reaction to them. Also some of the times she really got him good like when his pocket was smoking too funny. I enjoyed this cute cozy, Amelia Peabody is so much fun and the ending cracked me up!

I read this for bookclub because we wanted something a little lighter this month and this one fit the bill perfectly, I think the discussion will come from the first line of this review, just how far women have come, and that showed in the mystery too I don’t think that exact same story could have been set in current times. Plus you get archeology and Egyptology; mummy’s and murders, this along with Amelia wit, Emerson’s gruffness makes the perfect combination for this fun cozy. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

Barbara Rosenblat narrates this so perfectly, I have listened to her narrate all the Diana Mott Davidson books so who knew she could slip into this somewhat haughty English accent with such ease. What makes it even better is now I have no idea which accent is her “real” accent is she a Brit that can do a great American accent or is she an American who can superbly do a British accent? This just cements her spot on my favorite narrators list.

4 stars