Saturday, March 30, 2013

An Inquiry Into Love and Death by, Simone St. James, narrated by, Rosalyn Landor

An Inquiry Into Love and Death by, Simone St. James, narrated by, Rosalyn Landor

This book has it all ghosts, family secrets, treason, murder and romance. I really enjoy the way Simone St. James writes she has the perfect blend of stories going on in this one.

Jillian’s Uncle Toby, a ghost hunter, has died in a small seaside town and she must go identify his body and gather his things but as soon as she arrives she knows there are ghosts here and something isn’t right. I enjoyed the mix of ghost story and mystery , there is a lot going on in this town and Jillian has found herself smack in the middle of it. Between ghosts, a sexy Scotland Yard detective and some very odd goings on; Jillian is up to her ears in trouble of so many kinds, but Jillian is way ahead of her time she is a strong woman used to taking care of herself;  I thought Jillian was a great character she is spunky and tough and knows how to stand on her own two feet. I think she should take over Toby’s ghost hunting business so we could have more books with her! It had just the right amount of romance, it didn’t take over the story. I also really liked the mystery I did not figure that one out which was refreshing.

As always Rosalyn Landor’s narration is spot on, I just love her voice, she is great at differentiating between voices and her male voices are excellent. If Jillian makes a return appearance I hope Rosalyn Landor is available to narrate them.

I liked this one more than I did her last book which was good but this one had a meatier story but I would recommend both books and look forward to more by this author. I think if you are a fan of Kate Morton or Susanna Kearsley, give this one a try!

4 Stars

Received from the Audiobookjukebox and Blackstone for a fair and honest review

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sold by Patricia McCormick, narrated by, Justine Eyre

Sold by Patricia McCormick, narrated by, Justine Eyre

This is a sad story and a tough book to read but such a good story. Lakshmi is 13 and her stepfather sends her away to work as maid to help out the family but when Lakshmi gets to the house she is not a maid, her stepfather has sold her to a brothel to pay off his debts. These young girls have all been sold into slavery as prostitutes, it is heartbreaking and the abuse is not just from the men that pay, it is also from the “Madame”, she is an awful woman. Throughout this all Lakshmi keeps an attitude she got from her mother to endure and triumph. She assumes once the debt is paid she will get to go home but of course that isn’t how it works at all because as she is told it cost money to feed, clothe and keep a roof over her head and that isn’t cheap so of course they will keep her there as long as they can.

The authors notes at the end really bring this story to reality and the numbers of girls who are sold by their fathers, brothers, uncle’s is staggering, some were fooled as much as the girls were, but some know exactly where these girls are going which is so much worse I just can’t imagine selling your child.

This is a short book the audio was only 3 hours but so powerful. I do wish it had been longer and told more about what happens to these girls when they do get out because once they’ve been in this life they are “damaged goods” so I would like to know what happens if they are able to escape, either through their own hand or by someone coming in to rescue them. What happens to them do they just go home to the people that sold them in the first place? How do they start over with nothing, some with even less than they had when they got there? This would have been a solid 4 star book is some of my questions had been answered. I would still recommend this YA book because I will now be doing some research and trying to find some answers to my questions.

Justine Eyre’s narration is so fantastic, she does an absolutely fabulous Indian accent if I hadn’t known it was Justine Eyre I wouldn’t have guessed it. She brings this realism and feeling to Lakshmi’s voice through all the awful things she goes through.

Highly recommend listening to this on audio!

3 ½ Star Book
5 Star Narration
I received this book from edelweiss and the publisher Tantor Audio

Monday, March 25, 2013

Six Years by, Harlan Coben narrated by, Scott Brick

Six Years by, Harlan Coben narrated by, Scott Brick
Bought from Audible
Brilliance Audio
10 hours 37 min.

This book will grab you, throw you back in your seat and make you hang on for dear life because it is going to be a heck of ride! This was so hard to put down because it didn’t let up for a minute. It is very hard to write a review with no spoilers and not so much gushing.

Six years ago Jake watched the love of his life Natalie marry another man (Todd) she made him promise to leave them alone but now six years later Jake sees an obituary for her husband and decides to go to the funeral and at the least catch a glimpse of Natalie but the wife is not Natalie it is someone else, someone who Todd has been married to for over 16 years. Jake sets out to find Natalie and discover what is going on, but some things are not that easy especially when you are trying to find someone who doesn’t want to be found and Jake soon learns the hard way that he is not the only one looking for her.

This is my favorite Harlan Coben book yet this had so many twists and turns that when you think you know what is going on it changes, yes, I was right on a few things but there were more aspects that left my jaw dragging on the ground. There were times when you have to roll your eyes at Jake, or maybe that’s just me because I am about as unromantic as they come. And there were times when you wanted to yell NOOOO at him as he charged from one dangerous situation to another (I actually did yell this once luckily I was in my car by myself!).  I really liked that Coben even had me wondering about Jake’s sanity for awhile I was beginning to wonder myself if Natalie was real or if it was a figment of his imagination, but that is what made this book so great even the reader starts questioning Jake. Okay I need to stop here because everything else I am thinking of writing is spoilerific but man do I want to discuss this book with someone who has read it!

The narration by Scott Brick was as always fabulous, he is the voice of Harlan Coben for me. I will always listen to his stand alones on audio because Scott Brick brings the characters to life for me with, just right narration, nothing over the top but great character diversity so you always know who is talking.

If you haven’t figured out yet I loved this book, if you are looking for a thrill ride full of twists and turns you need to read this book!

4 ½ Stars

Friday, March 22, 2013

Needles by William Deverell Narrated by Steve Scherf, Maggie Scherf

Needles by William Deverell Narrated by Steve Scherf, Maggie Scherf

I received this from the Narrator/Producer Steve Scherf for a fair and honest review.

Without looking at the original publication date of this book I could tell it was from the 70’s it definitely has a 70’s Noir feel to it. This is a good courtroom drama (and much more) with a very flawed, heroin addicted lawyer as our main character Foster Cobb. There is a lot going on in this book and it all centers around Cobb who has been trying to put away Dr. Au who is a scary twisted man and is going to make sure he doesn’t go to prison no matter who he has to intimidate, kill or make disappear, including Cobb.

As I said this book has a 70’s vibe going on, and in some ways reminded me of Ed McBain’s writing, very dark and gritty and life ain’t easy especially when your strung out on heroin and fighting for your life as the person you are prosecuting is trying to kill you and you have more troubles than just those. Even though this describes Cobb you still can’t help but root for him even if he is strung out and not always a good guy you still want him to survive.

I would probably read more by this author as the writing is good. If you like gritty crime/lawyer books I’d give this one a try.

This is a performance audiobook all female characters done by a female and all male by a male, also there is a lot of music and a lot of background noises ie: gunshots, crowd noises and such. When I see more than one narrator I always assume that it will be a certain character per narrator but this one is done differently with all female by Maggie Scherf and all male by Steve Scherf which is different so is taking me a little to get used to. Also there is a lot of music that could really just not be there, I know this is an annoyance for a lot of people. Also traffic sounds were very unnecessary.  However Steve Scherf has an impressive arsenal of different voices and dialects so not sure why the female narrator was added he is great at so many different voices that I am so curious if he isn’t comfortable doing female voices? Is he bad at them? Which, I honestly can’t imagine because all his different voices are pretty darn impressive. I am also not sure what I think of Maggie’s voice I don’t know if it’s her voice I don’t like or the format of the audiobook, when the female voice pops in it kind of takes me out of the story and am really confused as to why it was added in the first place.

3 Stars-book
4 stars-Steve Scherf’s narration
So 3 1/2 Overall

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, narrated by, Anne Hathaway

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, narrated by, Anne Hathaway ~ Nominated for an Audie in the Solo Female Narration Category 
Length- 3 hrs and 52 mins
Published by,Audible Inc.

As I listened to this I came to the realization that I have never read Wizard of Oz before, yes I know I was shocked too. This story was a bit more violent in parts than I was expecting also there were some huge differences from the movie we have all seen 1,000 times so I had to try to get the movie out of my head and just go with the story, which I did enjoy. But in the end you can’t help comparing the differences…the shoes (silver, not red)...Toto (black, not brown) …Dorothy is a much younger girl…the violence, there is a lot of lopping off of heads that I did not expect..Also the witches seem to play a much smaller part in this than they did in the movie.

Everyone knows the premise of this story there are over 3000+ reviews and 98,000+ ratings on Goodreads alone so really what am I going to add other than if you think you have read this book but aren’t sure give it a try you may be like I was and realize you have never read the story Baum wrote, you only know the Hollywood version!

Anne Hathaway did a good job with so many different voices but I had a hard time with the voice of the Scarecrow because it sounded like Marge Simpson. Listen to the sample on audible then go to youtube and listen to Marge Simpson it was too close to being the same voice I just couldn’t picture the Scarecrow in my head because the voice was Marge! That was the main voice that was just wrong and it took me out of the story, the rest of her voices were good with a few being annoying and some just not fitting, like a valley girl voice just seemed out of place. I guess I liked her narration overall I just wish the Scarecrow had sounded different.I would recommend this audiobook even with Marge Simpson cast as the Scarecrow!

3 1/2 stars

Armchair Audies Notes: I can see why this book was nominated; as much as I am not a fan of Audible’s celebrity A-list (because the real A-List is all the great narrators who do this for a living), but Anne does bring many voices to the mix maybe at times too many because some of them don’t seem to belong in the land of Oz but what do I know I’ve never been there!...As grudgingly as it is to admit this one is in the running for winning the Solo Female Narration title.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick narrated by the author

The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick narrated by the author

This was surprisingly a very good self-help book; I am not saying that I didn’t think this book was going to be entertaining I just wasn’t sure that the advice he was going to give would be good. I am a big fan of Chris Hardwick and have been for awhile and even more so with his show the Talking Dead.

I really liked his nerdist way of self improvement I thought his advice for a character tome was great and XP points when you are on track, I thought this was a fun way to keep track of your successes. I thought his chapter on panic attacks was spot on and could tell he had truly gone through these to be able to explain them and how to overcome them was really good.

His very honest take on his alcoholism and how he quit drinking were very inspirational even though these stories were told with humor. I was a little surprised in the chapters about working out and nutrition just because us nerds are not known for being very fit and now I want to see Chris with his shirt off and see just how well all this exercising is working!

I really enjoyed this audiobook and Chris Hardwick’s narration, I do think you need to already be a fan of Chris to enjoy it though because of the way he talks and emphasizes certain things because I am a fan I could “see’ him saying these things and know how he puts himself across. But I think if you have bought this book I would guess you are already a fan of Chris. I think this was the way to read this book because of Chris’s delivery of the words he’s written.

I rarely (never) read self-help but this is the best I have found because his humorous honesty is perfect and I could actually see myself using some of the tenants he sets out in this book.

Starting my day with 100 XP thanks Chris!

4 Stars

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Juliet in August, by Dianne Warren narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Juliet in August, by Dianne Warren narrated by, Cassandra Campbell- Audie Nominated for Solo Female Narration

I must admit I found this book boring, if it hadn’t been for Cassandra Campbell’s narration I would not have finished this book. This is a slice of life book in the most literal definition it is a day in the life of an assorted group of people in the small town of Juliet, Saskatchewan and no one has a very exciting life. I never really became attached to anyone in this town/story, and didn’t ever come to care about any of them. It is well written but maybe just not my cup of tea, I can’t help but wonder if I need more action and suspense from my books, so maybe it is just my taste that made me not like this book as much as some.

 I guess I did end up caring for Norval (sad face). The last 2 or so hours I started finally caring a bit about the characters. This is a very quiet book it is a slow story with nothing really exciting happening. These stories don’t have a cohesive link to make them all fit together perfectly, they are jagged and just don’t seem to fit with fluidly. The characters seemed very one dimensional the only ones I felt any affinity to were Norval and Shiloh. 

Cassandra Campbell’s narration is very good with softness when needed, she was able evoke the emotion I believe the author was trying to convey. I only had a small problem with a mispronunciation of the town of Regina which is not pronounced like a name but Reg-I-na (with an eye sound on the I not an E sound). I am honestly not sure I would have finished this without Cassandra’s narration her voice always makes me want to keep listening.

3 star book (barely)
4 ½ star Narration

Monday, March 11, 2013

Life After Life by, Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Our bookclub was chosen to receive advance copies of this book from the publisher but we didn’t expect a 500+ page book so that was off-putting right away for some but once you get past the first 100 pages it was a fast read.

This book started out slow for me the first 100 pages I was confused then all of a sudden I couldn't put this book down and I think it took me as long to read the last 400 pages as it did to read the first 100. There are times this book is confusing and I can see how people would give up on it but I am really glad I had to read this for bookclub so I didn’t give up after my usual 50-100 pages because that is when it gets good!

I really liked Ursula in all her different “lives”. She didn’t always make the wisest decisions but that is the crux of this book it is the different paths your life can take, if you do this then this is how your life will go and if you turn the other way and change that decision then this is what could happen. I also liked the family story we get to know the Todd’s is so many different ways because of the different decisions made by Ursula, and how her decisions affect what happens to others. I also got a kick out of Aunt Izzie she was a fun character.

The storyline’s about England during WWII are amazing you really get a feel of what it was like while the bombs are going off, the dust and dirt and coming around a corner to find a familiar street totally unrecognizable, when she was working as a relief worker helping find and identify the victims were heartbreaking and had such a real feel.  Ursula never really has very good taste in men no matter if it is a husband, lover or passing dalliance, I felt she was actually her happiest when she was living on her own.(Well most of the time, there is the gas incident).

As Ursula goes through life again and again she does have hazy memories more a déjà vu at times, other times just a feeling of dread, and sometime a straight up knowing of what will happen if certain events take place, yes I’m looking at you Bridget please don’t go to the fair! (Or her let’s kill Hitler phase) But she never fully realizes what is happening or why she sees the things she does or feels what she does about certain events. Each of her “lives” is varied some she dies young, some she has a husband and children, some she lives out a longer life and some of her “deaths” will shock you when the repeats start you almost feel like you are the one having déjà vu. I will say though that some of the stories start and it’s almost suspenseful as you wait to see how she dies this time.

I actually liked that the author didn’t fully explain what was happening to Ursula, be it reincarnation, déjà vu, past life or whatever you think it may be. I also am left wondering if her mother Sylvie wasn’t going through a similar “life”.

This book is one that I think will stay with you long after you read it, I am done now but still thinking of Ursula. I would recommend hanging in there if the first 100 pages are getting you down because once you get over that hump then it will really grab you! Kate Atkinson has written a fascinating, unique book that I think is deserving of all the buzz it is getting, just know this is very different than the Jackson Brodie series.

4 stars 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Revenge of Moriarty: Sherlock Holmes' Nemesis Lives Again by, John E. Gardner, Narrated by, Robin Sachs

The Revenge of Moriarty: Sherlock Holmes' Nemesis Lives Again by, John E. Gardner, Narrated by, Robin Sachs
Received from Audiobookjukebox & AudioGo
11 hours 56 minutes

I am a Holmes fan but I maybe shouldn’t have read this one so close to finishing Lyndsay Faye’s Dust & Shadow because this one just didn’t measure up. Also I am a huge fan of narrator Robin Sachs I requested this book because I thought it was told by Moriarty (and it is at times but not enough) because as I said after Faye’s book Simon Vance is my audiobook Sherlock Holmes.

 As much as I love Robin Sachs I don’t feel this was one of his best narrations at times he sounded a bit bored and that made me feel bored, at other times his characterizations were fantastic I would get excited and sit up and pay attention with some of the characters but at other times it lulled me and made me wonder if I was even listening. Towards the end of the book when there were some different characters is when Robin Sachs shined on this audio and I think the feeling of boredom came from the text and maybe Robin was just as bored as I was. This book is no way diminishes my fangirl love for Robin Sachs.

I did not realize this was a second book in the series however this one is a decent stand alone, but there were times he would mention something about what happened in the last book and leave me wondering what all I did miss. So I would recommend starting with the first one. This story was ok it just didn’t really ever grab me but I did feel like it does fit in the Sherlock Canon, because let’s face it not all of Doyle’s Holmes stories are completely riveting either.

This is a hard review to write because I liked this book and didn’t like it at the same time and I am trying to put my finger on what it was I didn’t like and maybe it is the fact that it is the middle book in a trilogy and I hadn’t read the first one so this was anti-climatic for me and maybe if I go back and listen to the first and third maybe I would get a fuller story. I was hoping this story was told fully from Moriarty’s point of view and thought I’d learn more about Moriarty there were a few things *no spoilers* that made me want to finish this entire series hoping those questions would be answered. However I am just not sure I like Gardner’s writing style there were times this book dragged and then would pick up only to drag again, I guess that was my main problem the story was not consistent it was very up and down and not in a good way.

I’d say if you are a Holmes fan no matter what you will like this book but I would highly recommend starting with book one and that these books need to be better identified as a trilogy (assuming it’s just three) but I see that not audible or goodreads lists these as a series which I will have to see if I can remedy at least on GR maybe will send a message to audible because I think these need to be read in the correct order.

3 Stars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Call The Midwife:Armchair Audies Solo Female Narration

Armchair Audies Solo Female Narration

Here is one nominee I have already listened to, click title for my full review and here I will just say what I thought of the narration:

Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy #1) by Jennifer Worth narrated by, Nicola Barber
From: HighBridge Audio
Length:12 hours 2 minutes

About the narration:

I first want to start off saying I was a bit leery of this one on audio as I had a previous experience with Nicola Barber that I felt didn’t go well, but what I found in this narration was really good, much better than I had been expecting and made me not look twice whenever I see she has narrated a book.
Here is what I said in my review: Nicola Barber narration is very well done, going from British to Irish to Cockney accents all seamlessly. CD #6 felt like it ended in the middle of a sentence, but the way some of these stories just trail off I could be wrong about that.
Which I admit wasn’t much but I was very impressed with all the myriad of accents she had to go through and thought she did very well with each of them.

Nicola Barber’s narration was well done but not sure if it will top my list in the end.