Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Looking For Me by, Beth Hoffman

Looking For Me by, Beth Hoffman
Release date May 28th,2013

This book grabbed me from the first paragraph I thought it was a memorable start:
“Some people run towards life, arms flung wide in anticipation. Others crack open the door and take a one-eyed peek to see what’s out there. Then there are those who give up on life long before their heart stops beating- all used up, worn out, and caved in, yet wake each morning and shuffle their tired legs through another. Maybe they’re hoping for change—a miracle, even—but runaway dreams and lost years hang heavily in their backs. It’s the only coat they know how to wear.”

I also thought this was a great quote to:
“I thought about the old saying, how we can never go home again. But I think it’s more like a piece of us stays behind when we leave- a piece we can never reclaim, one that awaits our next visit and demands that we remember.”

Teddi is a great character she is so down to earth yet driven artistically, we share her life in present day and flashbacks and her journey is not always a happy one. The descriptions of the furniture that Teddi restores sound so amazing you can see them clearly in your head (I want a chest made by her). The people Teddi meets in her life that help on her path to her dreams are great, especially Mr. Palmer he sees her amazing talent in her first piece and later he takes her in and gives her so much support to live out her dream, he’s a great character. Also in the shop are Albert & Inez who I also fell in love with and also her best friend Olivia and Granny Belle  I also loved that Teddi let people be themselves she never judged her friends (her mother may be a different story but I am not going to spoil that for you). But these are the people in her adult life and the two people that believed in her are gone, her father and her brother Josh but Josh isn’t dead at least not to Teddi he walked away from the farm one day and was never seen again but Teddi has always believed he is out there in the woods living in nature and with the animals he loves. Josh is also an amazing character written with such feeling and conviction, and makes me want to believe what Teddi believes!

Towards the end of the book I slowed reading, I got to a certain point and didn’t want to know what happens because that would mean the end of the book...I've picked it up and set it down about three times I don't want to leave yet! Done now, I miss these characters already!

Beth Hoffman is a great storyteller she makes you care about each and every person, there is no bad guys just people who make choices on how to act that affects others in ways they may not realize until it is too late. She made me want to go to Charleston to see the amazing architecture and to go to every antique shop until I find one of Teddi’s chests. Also we have a few of Charleston’s more colorful characters in Mrs. Poteet and Zelda who make life interesting.

I adored this book, it is very different from CeeCee yet gives you major feels like CeeCee did, but really that and it being set in the south are the only similarities, I thought this was a unique book with a hint of magical realism coming from the Native American beliefs held by Josh. I say this is unique because there isn’t really a lot going on, it is just Teddi’s life, yet I couldn’t put it down and as I said I didn’t want to stop when I got to the end. Beth Hoffman made me feel like the people in this book could be my friend, that is the magic of her writing, she makes you care. I will read anything she puts on paper!

5 Stars

I received this book from the author for an honest review.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hidden Gallery Book 2 by Maryrose Wood, narrated by,Katherine Kellgren

The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2) by Maryrose Wood, narrated by, Katherine Kellgren
Checked out from the Library
LENGTH:5 hrs and 58 mins

This is such a fun series, in this one we find out that there is a  curse on the children, we also get a few more hints at a connections between Miss Lumley and the children beyond the fact that she is their governess, also what is going on with Lord Ashton and just what is his actual connection with the children. Miss Lumley also meets a very interesting man named Simon who may end up being the man for her. Old Tom may not be as creepy and scary as we first assumed. Also what is the connection with the paintings in the secret room in the museum and the paintings in the attic?

When Miss Lumley, Simon and the children go to a West End production about pirates Miss Lumley thinks this will be a great educational opportunity for the children but as you can guess things do not go as planned what happens at the show and the chase through the streets of London were hilarious. We also get more of the gypsy woman and a parrot and pirates.

I also love that the children will say the most intelligent things then end the sentence with a howl. I can’t wait to know the answers to my questions and to spend more time with these incorrigible children.

As usual Katherine Kellgren’s narration was pure perfection, her narration of Lady Constance is such fun and in my head she is classic movie star Billie Burke (Mrs.Topper, the mother in You Can’t Take it With You and Glinda the good witch in Wizard of Oz, she’s a great actress). Katherine does these awhooof’s of the children’s language so well. I can’t imagine anyone else doing as good of a job as Katherine Kellgren does!

I am hoping book 3 will be available from the library soon; I need to know what happens next.

4 ½ Stars

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood,narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1) by Maryrose Wood,narrated by, Katherine Kellgren
Checked out from the Library
LENGTH:5 hrs and 28 mins

Oh what fun this book was! Miss Penelope Lumley is hired as a governess to 3 very unusual children, said children were found in the wild and had been raised by wolves and Penelope has only a short time to make them presentable in a social setting, a party to be exact and when Miss Lumley exaggerates their progress to the lady of the house well you can be sure that all will not go smoothly.

I enjoyed the first book in this middle grade series so much that I will be starting book 2 immediately. I liked the character of Penelope I thought she was strong and resourceful. The children are more intelligent than the family gives them credit for yet are still pretty wild which makes for a whole lot of fun and adventure. There is also a bit of mystery and some secrets in this house, like who is to blame for the scene at the Christmas party? What is the creepy coachman Timothy up to? Will Lady Constance really put the children out? This is why I must continue reading right away so many questions need answers and so many adventures to be had. I am hoping that we get to know the children as individuals in the books to come; I was taken with Cassiopeia but would like to learn more about the boys.

I am already a huge fan of Katherine Kellgren so not surprisingly her narration of this book was fabulous but she never ceases to amaze me with what she can get her voice to do, in this one she has to give these children a wolfish quality to their voices when they are speaking to others and a wolf language all their own when they are speaking to each other, she pulls it off perfectly. Every single character is defined and you never have to guess who is talking.

I highly recommend this series (yes I know I’ve only read book one but it is so fun!). I would recommend it on audio I think this would make for a fabulous family road trip listen.

4 ½ Stars

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another Fine Myth (Myth Adventures #1) by Robert Lynn Asprin, narrated by, Noah Michael Levine

Another Fine Myth (Myth Adventures #1) by Robert Lynn Asprin, narrated by, Noah Michael Levine
Bought with a credit from Audible
PUBLISHER :Audible Frontiers
LENGTH 5 hrs and 51 mins

Oh this was so much fun! These books had been recommended to me years ago and have been languishing away on my TBR list since then, when I saw on audible that they were finally available on audio I jumped at the chance to give them a try, and now have another series to listen to 18 books I could go broke but this one was so much fun I must listen to more!

I loved all the characters in this book, I appreciated that the author let readers get to know them as they got to know each other it was a great bonding experience with the characters. I enjoyed the humor and frivolity and also the great story.

Skeeve is a magician’s apprentice, when his master is killed he ends up being an apprentice to a demon named Aahz as they bounce between dimensions to try to get Aahz back to his own dimension and restore his magical abilities and get revenge for Skeeve’s masters death. Along the way they meet so many great characters. I really liked that the author tells this story through dialogue we still get plenty of world building but it isn’t in overly done descriptions it is in the different characters explaining things to each other. I loved the ending, I don’t want to spoil it but the way they get one over on Issivan at the end is sooo great and not what I expected.

Noah Michael Levine was a new to me narrator and he was wonderful for this book I would definitely listen to him again…in fact I will listen to him again because I plan on listening to this whole series! But I would listen to him narrate other books too. He has a great range of voices, inflections and accents even though one character does sound like Sean Connery I didn’t care this narrator is the perfect fit for this book!

I will be listening to more of this series this is a short audiobook but well worth the credit I spent on it. If you are a fan of Pratchett and Adams I think you will enjoy this series too!

4 stars

Monday, April 22, 2013

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham
Skyhorse Publishing
Release Date 5/1/2013

I had heard the story of these murders a few years ago and was shocked that one of the murderers grew up to become author Anne Perry. I watched a couple interviews with Perry on youtube the one below she is being interviewed by fellow author Ian Rankin and it felt to me like Anne Perry still didn’t show much remorse. In the interview with Rankin she still seems so cold and when she said she helped but makes it sound like she did nothing but be by her friends side, but court and medical examiner documents say Mrs. Parker was held by the throat while beaten so did she hold her by the throat or hit her? According to this book she hit her while Pauline held her throat.

But the fact that she is now an accomplished author isn’t what this book is about; this book is about the crime itself and is told in detail from court documents, the girls’ diaries and personal interviews of people who were there at the time. The murder itself is horrific it wasn’t a crime of passion, spur of the moment type of murder this was downright pre-meditated murder, they brought the brick along with them that they used to kill Pauline’s mother, they planned exactly where they would walk to not be seen, planned how to get her mother to bend over so they could hit her. They wanted it to look like an accident but unlike on TV one blow doesn’t always kill, so they hit her over and over and over again, and then ran for help like innocents. Honestly these two may have gotten away with it if one blow would have killed her because at the time no one could fathom a 15 year old girl killing her mother.

The relationship between these girls I believe was a lesbian one and I am NOT saying that is what made them killers, but I think it did play a part because of how taboo these feelings were in 1954. I thought this book also went down a blaming the parents path, Juliet’s mother wasn’t maternal at all and Juliet was sent away for the majority of her childhood and I don’t think ever got much love from her mother and her father was a pat on the head as he is passing through a room type of man. I also didn’t think that Pauline’s mother was so bad I think the Hulme’s used her as scapegoat when they said that Pauline could not accompany them when they left NZ. At times especially during and after the trial I couldn’t help thinking why did they choose Pauline’s mother and not Juliet’s ...that’s harsh I know but there it is.

I think these girls had some kind of mental illness maybe not the ones that Dr.Medlicott tried and re-tried to pin on these girls but there was some form of mental illness or at least diminished capacity that led these 2 girls into this almost dream world where they were all that mattered and their imaginings could come true if certain people were out of the way, which is another good thing about them being caught so quickly , if they had gotten away with it and still been kept apart who would have died next?

These girls each ended up doing about 5 years in prison and I guess when you are 15 at the time of sentencing that is a long time, neither went out and murdered anyone else they each went their separate ways and as I said Juliet became Anne Perry, Pauline Parker tried to become a nun but was turned down but ended up living a very solitary life in the service of others and seems to have spent her life making amends for her crime.

This was a fascinating book about a horrific crime, I did find at first all the different names these girls called each other was a little confusing and was glad when the author went back to calling them the names they went by and not the pet names. But I think if you are interested in true crime books give this one a go. I wish there had been picture of the girls when they were younger or at trial it always makes it more "real" in a non-fiction.

4 Stars

I received this book from Edelwiess & the publisher for a fair and honest review.

Ian Rankin’s Interview of Anne Perry

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Last Page by Libby Fischer Hellmann and David J. Walker Narrated by, Mary Conway and James Lewis

The Last Page by Libby Fischer Hellmann and David J. Walker Narrated by, Mary Conway and James Lewis
Received from: Audiobookjukebox and the author/publisher Fischer Hellmann Communications
Length: 3 Hours 28 minutes

In the short story The Last Page a not very well liked librarian, Barbara Adams, dies from what they are saying was a heart attack but she just happened to be standing at the top of the stairs when it happened, Julia’s mother & Barbara were friends and both think the death sounds suspicious so Julia decides to do some digging. I love a book that is set in a library and the author did a good job in researching the ALA’s privacy policy and the ins and outs of information available to librarians. All in all this was a good short cozy mystery and I would read others by this author and would read more with the character of Julia.

The narrator Mary Conway is new to me, it took me a little bit to get used to her voice it sounds a bit young yet has a roughness so for me it took a little to get used to, but by the end I was happy with her narration and would listen to others narrated by her.

Chicago Blues short story My Sweet Man &another story I didn’t catch the name of by, Libby Hellman and David J. Walker narrated by, James Lewis, both were way more gritty stories than the first one.  The last story is extremely gritty and has a lot of language it was quite a departure from the first story being more of a cozy and the second one was more family secret type mystery, they seemed an odd pairing on the same audiobook. I enjoyed My Sweet Man but I think it would have been better without the final story.

The narrator James Lewis has a husky deep voice that I like, his voice is good for gritty mystery or noir would fit his voice well too. I would listen to more from this narrator.

All in all this short 3 hour audiobook is pretty good I really liked the first story, the second one was also good but the last one just didn’t do it for me. I would have rated this 4 stars if it had only been the first & second story but the third story brings it down to a three but will end up with 3 ½ stars for good narration. Would read more from this author and listen again to these narrators.

3 ½ Stars

I received this from the Audiobookjukebox and the author/publisher Fischer Hellmann Communications for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, narrated by, Ralph Cosham

Audie Nomination in the Mystery category- The Beautiful Mystery  by Louise Penny, narrated by, Ralph Cosham
LENGTH 13 hrs and 35 mins
Publisher Macmillan Audio
Checked out from the Library

I admit I haven’t gotten around to reading Bury Your Dead and Trick of Light but needed to read this one for the armchairaudies. Before I got towards the end I thought this could be read as a standalone because it isn’t set in Three Pines and without all the familiar faces I thought someone could step into this one without prior knowledge but I was wrong, towards the last part of this book it goes pretty deep into a story left over from the prior books. So I would recommend not skipping the prior books!

I know that not every murder can happen right in Three Pines but I really missed all those people from the town there just wasn’t that feeling of camaraderie in this one that the others have had. I am not sure I liked this story as much as I’ve liked her previous works and that may have to do with it not being set in Three Pines. I felt like the ending was rushed and kind of left you hanging as to a certain characters future. But that does make me want the next book in this series right now so… I am a fan of this series and will continue to read it but this one won’t be among my favorites in the series. The monks were interesting at times and then other times I was underwhelmed, even though I felt the ending was rushed I would say the last hour-hour and a half were the best part of the book.

Ah Ralph Cosham… he is the voice of Gamache and narrates this series with such ease, I will have a hard time when the movie comes out and he is not Gamache! He has a silky yet gruff voice that I love, his slight French/Québec accent is just enough to let us know where these books are set but not so much that the accent is annoying or hard to understand. Towards the end of this one Cosham really brings the raw emotions to the surface beautifully.
This one is a contender for the Audie for Best Mystery but I have 3 more to listen to yet so we will see!  

3 Stars-book
4 ½ Star Narration

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg #1) by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis Narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

Audie Nominated in Solo Female Narration:The Boy in theSuitcase (Nina Borg #1) by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis Narrated by, Katherine Kellgren--

This was a good thriller/mystery that kept me wanting to read more. The story is told by two women, Nina who finds the boy in the suitcase and Sigita the mother of the child trying to piece together exactly what happened and trying to find her son. These two women have both lived hard lives and have both done things they regret but unbeknownst to each other are both trying to save the boy.

As the story plays out you’re never sure the reason behind everything so you are compelled to keep going so you can have your answers and to see if all these characters will get their happily ever after. And when the reason is slowly brought to light it wasn’t what I expected at all.

This has been hyped up and compared to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I for one was not a big fan of GWTDT so I am happy to report that I liked this book much better! I’d recommend this to anyone who likes thrillers/mysteries and likes strong female leads. I hear this is a first in the series and if there is more I would definitely read more by this author.

Audio Production: This was my first Adult book narrated by, Katherine Kellgren and as always she does a wonderful job, I just love the timbre of her voice. She also does all the different eastern European accents very well. A job well done!
This is up for an Audie Award in the Solo Female Category and I think this is definitely a contender for winning the award, I have one more to listen to it is a children’s book narrated by Katherine Kellgren as well.

4 Stars

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Calling Me Home: A Novel by Julie Kibler Narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Lorna Raver

Calling Me Home: A Novel by Julie Kibler Narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Lorna Raver

This is such a great story! But be careful where you read it and have tissues ready especially towards the end, I happened to be driving at the end of this one!

I fell in love with both of these characters Miss Isabelle and Dorrie were true friends even though such different people. Dorrie is an African American single mother and hairdresser who has been doing 89 year old Isabelle’s hair for over a year and they have grown close but when Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Ohio for a funeral, Dorrie jumps at the chance to get away from her own troubles for awhile and help the old lady out.

This book is told in alternating chapters by Dorrie and Isabelle, Dorrie dealing with her own problems at home in the present day and Isabelle telling the story of her life; that when she was 17 in Kentucky in the 1930’s she fell in love with a black man and the consequences that occurred due to her actions. Isabelle’s story is so heartbreaking but beautiful and the friendship that grows between these two women is one of the best friendships out there. I adored this book and couldn’t put it down I didn’t want to stop listening I needed to know how the story played out because with each bombshell Isabella would drop you could see so many ways the story could go and most of them had very dire consequences.

I received the ebook galley of this book from netgalley then I heard that it was going to be narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Lorna Raver so of course I waited for the audiobook and I am so glad I did. These two are perfect for the characters Bahni as Dorrie and Lorna as Isabelle bring the emotion of this book bubbling to surface in waves of emotion that will make you feel everything these characters are going through. Loran Raver’s telling of Isabelle’s story is at times pure raw emotion that conveys so beautifully the heartbreak of her long life and Bahni Turpin’s Dorrie is smart yet has this soft vulnerable side that Turpin brings to life without flaw.

I highly recommend this book on audio with these two narrators how can you go wrong! This is one the best books I’ve read this year. If you like southern fiction and beautiful friendship stories give this book a try you won’t be disappointed!

5 stars

PS After reading the book the cover will about break your heart!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Next Time You See Me By, Holly Goddard Jones narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

The Next Time You See Me By, Holly Goddard Jones narrated by, Cassandra Campbell
Length: 14 hrs and 35 mins

Susanna’s sister Ronnie has gone missing but since she’s kind of the town bad girl no one but Susanna seems to care which gets Susanna wondering if the life she has is the life she wants. Then there is her students Emily & Christopher, Emily is a shy girl from the wrong side of the tracks and Christopher little rich boy with attitude…Ugh Christopher is such a little puke and I don’t understand how Emily can even think of being friends with him. Emily truly needs some serious counseling between her insecurities, self esteem, being bullied and what happened in the woods I hope her parents will get her some help!

Then there is Wyatt a 55 year old overweight factory worker, I liked Wyatt I also felt sorry for him, I felt he’d been bullied his whole life, pretty sure the night at the bar wasn’t the first time he’s been bullied he fell for it all too easily. Thought it was sweet that he and Sara got together and was rooting for them both to find love.

The prayer service for Ronnie made me wonder how often those are done; a prayer for a missing person who wasn’t well liked and didn’t attend church. I agree with Susanna that it all just felt wrong but I can understand that she was feeling like finally people were starting to take her sisters disappearance seriously.

This book was very hard to put down it has bullying of kids and adults, a missing person, a murder,  old loves returning and some very, very flawed people but it comes together in a fabulous story. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there was a certain storyline that I hoped would be a red herring and am amazed that the author made me feel bad for a murderer but I was emotionally invested and it was a great twist well an emotional twist for me. All these different characters with nary a thing in common all find themselves thrown into the drama of Ronnie’s disappearance some in ways that will leave you shaking your head in wonder.

Cassandra Campbell’s narration was wonderful as always she truly brought these characters to life and there was a wide variety of characters in the book from teens to older men. Every character has a voice of their own with her wonderful sense of subtlety that makes her such a great narrator.

This is a great story I highly recommend this book especially on audio!

4 Stars

I received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver narrated by, Eva Kaminsky, Alison Fraser, Mark Sisler

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver narrated by, Eva Kaminsky, Alison Fraser, Mark Sisler
Received from: Audiobookjukebox & Penguin Audio

When I first heard of this book I thought it was going to be right up my alley because I have always loved old photographs and we all know this amazing photograph and I love reading about the 30’s , but it turned out a bit more boring than I thought it would be, I was expecting a deeper story of these two very different women and what their lives were like and it would have been a better book if it had only been about the 2 women; I did not understand the inclusion of Walker Dodge’s storyline until the very end of the book and by then I didn’t really care about him or his story. I felt this storyline took away from getting to know more about Vera. Or maybe we needed less Vera and more about Mary Coin and her family. Not sure something was just off with the way these stories flowed together.

There are parts I liked, I think Mary Coin was a much more interesting character than Vera, who was so self centered, well maybe I should say career orientated, when she is an old woman and she is taking pictures of her son and he looks at her and says it’s too late for that now mom which was a huge ah-ha moment into her life because we don’t get to actually see much of her life in between taking the photo and when she is elderly. I felt we didn’t really get to know Vera as much as we should have and more about the impact of this photo on her life we get a skimming of information about Vera’s life but not very in depth. Mary Coin however we learn about her life and how it was tough but her children turned out well even though she was still the woman in that picture with the heartbreak in her eyes. I wish this had been more, a meatier story, maybe, it just felt like we skimmed the surface of these women and wish there had been more about them and more about the time. Most books about the depression and this time in history it is like the time period is a character and I didn’t get that in this book.

I did enjoy these three new to me narrators Eva Kaminsky, Alison Fraser, Mark Sisler, they all did a good job with their respective characters the women had to sound young and aged and both pulled it off successfully, Mark has a nice voice he reminded me a bit of Kirby Heybourne I enjoyed his pacing and timbre of his voice. I would listen to any/all of these narrators again.

Alright I didn’t hate this book there are parts I liked but wished for a meatier story. Maybe if Walker’s story hadn’t felt so separate from the others if the connections had been made sooner maybe I would have liked his story more. This isn’t a bad book but don’t expect an epic story about woman during the depression because you won’t get it. Not bad just not as good as I was expecting. I liked Mary’s story and if the book had concentrated on her I think it would have been better.

3 Stars

I received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and Penguin Audio for a fair and honest review.