Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

(Some links will take you to my library blog or Goodreads for my reviews)

102 books Read ( my list on Goodreads) -75 were Audiobooks (890 Hours) –While putting this list together I notice I really need to listen to more male narrations I am going to try to listen to more male narrators in 2015

Narrator of the Year:

January LaVoy - I just discovered this wonderful narrator this year with the books Dollbaby and Missing You. I love her range of voices she can sound like a child and an old woman all within minutes I will always choose a book in audio if she is the narrator she quickly shot to the top of my must listen list. Here is her list on audible 

5 Star Reads:

Dollbaby by, Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy

Whimsey: A Novel by Kaye Wilkinson Barley narrated by, Susanna Burney

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon narrated by, Cassandra Campbell & Kathe Mazur

Missing You by Harlan Coben narrated by, January LaVoy

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Euphoria by Lily King narrated by, Simon Vance & Xe Sands

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon narrated by, Davina Porter

Unfit by Lara Cleveland Torgesen

Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by, Mike Mullin

Fear Nothing by, Lisa Gardner

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs

The Daring Ladies of Lowell: A Novel by Kate Alcott narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

2015 release 5 Stars:

Rebel Queen by, Michelle Moran

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by, Hazel Gaynor

Honorable mentions: (books I enjoyed that stayed with me):

Rage Against the Dying: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn #1) by Becky Masterman narrated by, Judy Kaye

The Book of Obeah (Crossroads #1) by Sandra Carrington-Smith Narrated by, Dave Fennoy

Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett #1) by Robert R. McCammon, narrated by, Edoardo Ballerini

The Legendary Adventures of the Pirate Queens by James Grant Goldin narrated by, Shiromi Arserio

Blunder Woman written and narrated by, Tanya Eby

Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber by, LA Meyer Narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune By, Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr. narrated by, Kimberly Farr

The Burning Room (Harry Bosch #19) by Michael Connelly narrated by, Titus Welliver

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

You're Next by, Gregg Hurwitz narrated by, Scott Brick

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Audiobook of 2014 ~ Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy

This was my favorite audiobook of 2014

Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy

Warning: You will fall in love with the characters in this book.

This book made me laugh and made me cry. 11 year old Ibby’s (Liberty) father has died and her mother (can I put quotes around mother to let you know what I think of her) drops her off at her grandmother Fannie’s house the problem is Ibby and Miss Fannie have never met, and this so called mother doesn’t even walk her to the door to introduce them just drops her off in the street and drives away. If you can’t tell by this paragraph I don’t think very highly of Vidrine’s so called motherly love. Especially the “gift” she wants Ibby to give to her grandmother, Vidrine is just a spiteful woman.

Luckily for Ibby she is going into a house full of women that will love her and take care of her, the first person she meets is Dollbaby and her momma Queenie who work for her grandmother Fannie and Ibby doesn’t realize her grandmother is just as scared as she is that they won’t like each other, but Miss Fannie is a character and luckily they do hit it off even if it is strained for a little while. Miss Fannie is an interesting character strong yet fragile I laughed when she was helping the bookie then cried when she had her spell on Ibby’s birthday she was such an interesting character that has been through some awful things and when we learn how Queenie came to work for her and how she got her nickname it really gives insight into both of these women.

The book starts out in 1964, 3 days before Ibby’s 12th birthday and continues on till she is in college. Now, you know what race relations were like at this time in our country and even though this is New Orleans there is still certain things that can’t be done, even though Ibby is friends with Doll & Queenie’s family when she is out alone with any of them things are said and done that will make you cringe and hope that in this day and age things like that don’t happen anymore.

There is one other character that I did not like and that was neighbor girl Annabelle what a little brat who grew up to be a spoiled rotten brat (ok not the b-word I was going to use but you get my drift) but karma oh wonderful karma with a little push from Miss Fannie and Miss Ibby she does get her comeuppance and that made me laugh and cheer!

I truly loved the characters in this book Doll and Queenie are great ladies and I loved how loyal and loving they were towards both Miss Fannie and Ibby even from the first time meeting them. This is a story about family and acceptance and is a truly wonderful read.

Narrator January LaVoy did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life I loved how she voiced Ibby at age 11 sounding like a little girl and voiced her differently as she got older but yet you knew it was Ibby talking, everyone had their own unique voice, LaVoy’s narration truly added to my experience of this book.

If you are a fan of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt or Secret Life of Bees or just southern fiction in general give this one a try.

5 Stars

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber by, LA Meyer Narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber by, LA Meyer Narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

Well Played Mr. Meyer you made me laugh, you made me cry and gave Jacky the sendoff she deserved!

 Great narration by Katherine Kellgren, as always, but this time she had to do a Russian accent and sing in that accent, you are an amazing talent Ms. Kellgren!

I don’t want to spoil this book for those of you that have read the entire series, so I will just say I enjoyed this book more than Boston Jacky and it was an excellent end to a fabulous series that will forever be a go-to book for me and I know I will listen to this series again and again.

I am sad that the series is over but am glad that Mr. Meyer had the chance to finish the book before he passed away and that we won’t end up with another author coming in and ruining his work. I am so glad your memory will live on in the wonderful characters you have written, RIP Mr. Meyer.

5 Stars

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by, Hazel Gaynor

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by, Hazel Gaynor

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, this was a very interesting look at a sad time in London history when there were many homeless children who would sell flowers and watercress on the streets by day and sleep in doorways by night. Some did have families but going there and being beaten was worse than sleeping on the streets.

We first meet , sisters Florrie and Rosie who is almost blind and Florrie has a problem with her leg they live with their parents, a sick mother and abusive father, they sell their violets and watercress in the markets when their mother dies and the father is not someone you'd want to be around, then the father dies too, that is when Rosie and Florrie spend the most time sleeping on the streets. Rosie and Florrie are inseparable, Florrie always tells Rosie don't let go of my hand no matter what don't let go until the worst happens and one day Rosie’s hand slips out of Florrie’s and she's gone.

In the second part of the story we meet Tilly we are not sure what exactly happened to Tilly’s sister but we know whatever it was Tilly was blamed for it and that life at home is not happy at all, so she seeks a position as a housemother at the Violet house home for orphan watercress and flower girls.

We also meet Mr. Shaw the benefactor of the Training Home for Watercress and Violet girls where he takes them in, gives them a home and teaches them to make silk flowers to sell, including making thousands and thousands of roses for the first Queen Alexandra Rose Day. Mr. Shaw also takes Florrie in after she loses Rosie and gives her a purpose and a home. In a twist of coincidence Tilly ends up in the room Florrie had been in and finds her journals detailing her life-long search for her sister Rosie. We do not find out what happened to Rosie until much later in the book.

This book is sad and hopeful all at the same time we get to see Tilly blossom and become stronger with every step she makes away from her home, she becomes a much loved housemother at Violet House, she also enjoys her time at the Clacton Orphanage and starts to feel at home and comfortable in her own skin. Florrie’s story is also sad but there is hope there too.

 I don’t want to give anymore away than I already have, this was such an interesting story I never knew about these flower girls. This book is fiction but I was able to find out more about the real Flower Girls home and the Alexandra Rose Charities that truly exist but were elaborated upon for the book. The story of these 3 girls and also Mr. Shaw’s story were quite fascinating and I would highly recommend this well written book that you won’t be able to put down and will end up reading into the wee hours of the night!

This is the second book by Hazel Gaynor I have thoroughly enjoyed and I look forward to reading anything else she writes.

5 Stars

I was lucky enough to get an early review copy of this book from Edelweiss and the Publisher for a fair and honest review.

This is an interesting link to the actual training home for watercress and flower girls

Here is the history of the Alexandra Rose Charities starting with the event that took place in the book in 1912. (the book is fiction but so well researched )

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Below you will find my random/rambling thoughts as I listened to this book. I liked and disliked this book or should I say I liked the book and completely disliked the characters. The parents in this book are unemotional distance people who should never have had children, they are not abusive in the broad sense of the word but they have no idea who their children are and have no idea how to show that they love them let alone care about them. See my final thoughts at the end.

Everyone grieves differently and it is sad that they are all grieving separately instead of as a family, to be there for each other but I don't think they were there for each other before Lydia's death so I feel like her death multiplied this separateness tenfold.
It just seems like Marilyn could have enrolled in a school right from home instead of sneaking out signing up for classes and getting an apartment. I guess I just don't understand this woman at all.

Do these two people (James & Marilyn) even know each other at all it feels like their whole relationship is superficial it doesn't go deep enough to tell each other what they want from life, what their lives are really like or anything about their true selves and they passed this on to their children so they are just as closed off as the parents are.

James & Marilyn started out fighting the stereotypes then ended up being the stereotypes I am hoping this family becomes something amazing and breaks out of those roles but I am scared this is going to be a depressing book all the way through.

Poor Nath and Hannah to be that ignored by your parents must be heartbreaking.
How could you forget your own child so much that you forget to set a place for them at the table?? Really??
It didn’t seem like James even cared that Nath got into Harvard. Then when Lydia ruined his moment it made me very mad.
The way this family relates to each other is so heartbreaking they are so separate in so many ways.
And even Lydia making up friends pretending to be on the phone talking, all 3 of these children are so lonely and starved for love it’s so sad.
Wow the way James treats Nath is horrible I understand he is grieving but wow.
 For this family to get certain news from the authorities is going to tear them apart even further.
But James is so not handling this at all but I also get the feeling that James would have cheated and said the things to his mistress even if Lydia hadn’t died.
I think it was awful that Nath had to be the one to tell Marilyn where James was especially after what James had said to Marilyn.  I don’t think she knew, I honestly don’t think she could comprehend him having a mistress when he didn’t have any friends.
I find it a bit I don’t know disconcerting that there is only one other oriental in the whole town and she is who James is having an affair with I don’t know it’s a little too unbelievable. Someone had mentioned to me that I need to remember what year this is but this is the late 70’s and things had changed a lot in the last 18 or so years since they have been together. And that James didn’t have the balls to come out of the bedroom what a louse!

That Hannah and Nath were right there watching as her parents fight over the affair was tough; it just goes to show how little these parents thought about their children. And that James said if we had never met and she had never been born I wanted to yell Hey jackass you have 2 other children too!

She left first, come on James, that was a long time ago. Oh these two are so screwed up! But it goes to show that they never communicated when Marilyn came back they never talked about it and so all these years James is still hurt by Marilyn leaving. They never discussed why she left, maybe if they had a conversation about the reasons Marilyn left all those years ago maybe everything would be different just maybe James would have supported her decision I don’t know maybe not but maybe…

I think that Nath leaving for college was so hard for Lydia because she felt he was the only one she had, but poor Hannah always gets lost in the shuffle. Then when Hannah tries to bond with Lydia it all goes wrong, oh this family makes me so very sad. I feel so bad for Hannah she just wants some love and affection and every time she tries she gets slapped down figuratively and literally.

Oh my gosh when Jack comes clean to Lydia, if anyone can understand feeling like an outsider it’s him she should have stayed his friend they could have been true friends. I think if Lydia would have had it in her to understand Jack things would have been different.

How sad just when Lydia was finally thinking on her own without the grudges and hatred. But was it an accident? She stepped out of the boat into the water it sounds like she meant to do it to me.

I hope this means Hannah will finally get some love and not just be a cardboard cutout of Lydia in her parents eyes.
There is this little bit of a coming together but I don’t think this family ever learned to communicate with each other, too many years have passed and these behaviors are ingrained now. I wonder how Nath & Hannah were with their families in the future.

Ooof this book is like a gut punch but so beautifully written that you need to continue on. I honestly am not sure how to rate this book because there was no redemption, one can only hope that this family got better that they cherished the children they had left and started communicating with each other but I’m afraid I this did not happen.

Cassandra Campbell’s narration is very well done as always.

4 Stars

Thanks you to the FordAudiobookClub for the opportunity to listen to this book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Legendary Adventures of the Pirate Queens by James Grant Goldin narrated by, Shiromi Arserio

The Legendary Adventures of the Pirate Queens by James Grant Goldin narrated by, Shiromi Arserio

What a fun book I didn’t want to stop listening, it was rip-roaring fun on the high seas! These two ladies are so different Martin/Mary dresses like a man and fights in a war and goes to sea and ends up on a Pirate ship. Anne Bonny on the other hand is all woman all the time, she ran away from her husband and became mistress to a pirate though in all honesty I think Anne ran the ship and just let Captain Calico Jack think he did.

When Anne can’t seem to get Martin to pay attention to her and then Calico makes the comment that Martin is in love with her Anne sets out to find out the truth, these scenes are hilarious because as readers we know Martin is really Mary however Anne Bonny is not used to a man who wants nothing to do with her. I loved how she couldn’t comprehend a man not falling for her feminine wiles, and poor Mary trying her best not to cross Anne because she is a pirate after all and has the temper to go with it. And Mary as Martin is a gentleman she is tough as nails and can fight and shoot and do the jobs on the ship but she always tries to be a gentleman.

However our dear Martin/Mary is in love another seaman Peter who has no idea that she is a he,  this complicates their relationship, so she moons over him from afar and tries her best to keep him alive because he is not much of a seaman and not a fighter at all, he came to sea because he is the 2nd born or the spare as they were known in the day, wanting to learn about longitude and clocks because at this time in history it was sailing by the stars and I believe people went of course a lot.

All the characters in this book were very interesting, and it made me want to know even more about these ladies and as I always say a sign of a good historical fiction book is that it makes me want to research more and this one definitely did that.

New to me narrator Shiromi Arserio was very good she had many different accents and I liked how she had 2 different voices for Martin and Mary even though they were the same person. Very well done and I will be on the lookout for anything else she has narrated.

This was a new author and narrator for me and I truly enjoyed them both and if the author writes any other historical fiction books I will be reading them for sure.

If you enjoy the Jackie Faber/Bloody Jack books give this one a try I think you will enjoy it.
4 ½ Stars

I received this from the author for a fair and honest review, and I am so glad I said yes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You're Next by, Gregg Hurwitz narrated by, Scott Brick

You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz narrated by, Scott Brick

This was a great edge of your seat thriller! It was just what I needed to get me out of my reading slump; it was very hard to stop listening!

When Mike was 4 years old his father dropped him off at a school playground and told him he’d be back but he never returned and Mike spent his whole life wondering why? And what happened to his mother? Now a grown man with a child of his own strange things are starting to happen to him and his family, Mike thinks he is being followed and from there things go from bad to worse as history repeats itself in an awful way.

This book kept me guessing all the way to the reveal; because Mike was so young when he was abandoned he has no clue about his parents so he decides to hire a private detective to help him find out who they were and what happened to them but this one decision changes his entire life.

After things get really bad Mike reaches out to his foster brother Shep, (I loved Shep!) who is always there for Mike no matter what, I don’t think Mike would have made it through without him and I loved his last line in the book! Shep is a great character because we see in flashbacks what it was like for him in foster care and how he and Mike bonded and became true brothers but Shep is also a criminal and he and Mike had a bit of a falling out but he was right there the minute Mike called him and that just endeared him to me even more.

I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone so I don’t want to give too many details away but if you are looking for a great thriller look no further than this book. This was my first book by Hurwitz but it definitely won’t be my last!

Scott Brick’s narration was as always amazing and he really brought the pain, worry and anxiety in the characters voices to life beautifully. I love Brick’s voice for mystery/thrillers he always gives a great performance.

4 ½ Stars

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Cast-Off Coven by, Juliet Blackwell narrated by, Xe Sands

A Cast-Off Coven  by, Juliet Blackwell narrated by, Xe Sands

This was another good addition to this series.  The San Francisco School of Fine Arts has had some paranormal activity going on so Lily agrees to help in return for some vintage clothes. But there is more in this closet of clothes than she bargained for. Plus she stumbles across a dead body and everyone thinks “the ghost” killed the man but Lily senses something different something demonic and everyone at the school seems to be on edge and aggravated at each other. At one time the school was a convent and Lily starts to wonder just what these nuns were up to.

Lily does go to Aiden for help however I felt his help is a little lacking and she also meets Sailor, who is more help, and Lily seems to be attracting men like crazy, first we have Max but I agree with Aiden she will be in a  Darrin & Samantha relationship with him trying to squelch her magic. Then Luke, I liked Luke myself, until it got weird. But I know most people prefer Sailor. Max did grow on me more by the end of the book.

This one kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who killed the big cheese, a ghost, a demon, or just a human? But the things that happen in this school would have freaked me out; the white light and wind would have freaked me out more than the voices.

As always I love Oscar he is my favorite character. I also want a store like Lily’s in my town! I liked how her relationship with Inspector Romero evolved in this one and I see them working together much more in future books.

This one is narrated by Xe Sands, who as always does a great job I just love her voice and she seemed to come more into her own as Lily in this book compared to the first she was a bit more forceful and sure, I liked that!

The ending really made me look forward to more of this series! If you enjoy cozy mysteries with a supernatural tilt give this series a try!

3 ½ Stars

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi narrated by Gin Hammond

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi narrated by Gin Hammond

This was a fascinating and heartbreaking book. This book has a dual storyline set in Afghanistan, first we have Rahima in 2007 whose family only had girls so she is dressed as a boy in a custom called bacha posh, she is able to go to school, play soccer and work. Our second story is of her Great Great Grandmother Shakiba in 1901? She is disfigured from an accident when she was a child and whose father dies and her Grandmother can’t stand the sight of her. So she is given to another family as a servant but they believe she is a curse on them and when Shakiba sneaks away to try to claim her father’s land the family decides to get rid of her (after beating her of course) they give her to the King to work as a guard in the harem. All the guards are women dressed as men so there would be no temptation in the harem.

Both stories are a fascinating look into the lives of women in Afghanistan even though the stories are years and generations apart it is heartbreaking how women were treated. The way Shakiba is treated by her own family and then the people who take her in is harrowing and heartbreaking. And Rahima would have loved to have stayed being a boy but someone very powerful has seen through her disguise and when her opium addicted father complains about all his daughters to this man, he decides to take one of his daughters for his wife and he chooses Rahima who is only 13 at the time, she has 2 older sisters and tradition demands they be married first so he has cousins to marry them too and Rahima’s father is paid in cash and opium. Rahima is a very strong willed woman I think from her years as a boy I liked her very much and worried about her when she spoke up. You will have to read the book to see how their stories play out!

I loved the narration however there were times I wish there had been two, for the times I missed it say who was talking. But Gin Hammond was fabulous all her accents and voices were great I would definitely look for other books narrated by her.

I truly enjoyed this book it is a powerful story that I highly recommend and if you are a fan of Khaled Hosseini, I would highly recommend you read this book.

4 Stars

I received a copy of this from the Audiobookjukebox and the Publisher for a fair and honest review.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave , by John Boyne narrated by, Euan Morton

StayWhere You Are And Then Leave , by John Boyne narrated by, Euan Morton

This is such a powerful story, set in WWI before we had a name for PTSD or Shell Shock this book takes you to a hospital with one doctor who is trying to get people to realize this is an actual condition not men just being cowardly. But how we get to that hospital is a heartbreaking yet uplifting story told through the eyes of 9 year old Alfie who is in search of his father Georgie.

Alfie is a precocious 9 year old who misses his father it has been 4 years since he went off to war and Alfie’s mother won’t let him see the letters he is writing but Alfie finds a way but notices there hasn’t been a letter in a long time, his mother tells him his dad is on a secret mission but Alfie is not sure he believes that. Alfie has been helping out by shining shoes at Kings Cross Station ( unbeknownst to his mother) and one day a man drops some papers and as Alfie helps him pick them up he sees his dads name and the name of a hospital so he sets off to find his dad.

This story is at times heartbreaking, uplifting and powerful, seeing it through Alfie’s eyes really brings home the separation of war, the not knowing if your parent is alive or well  and how the parent left behind wants to protect their child from knowing the gory details of war but that leaves Alfie to think his father is dead. When Alfie does find his father it will break your heart and Alfie’s innocence in thinking if he just comes home he will be okay leads to circumstances that make Alfie have to confront just what shell shock is and how the war affected his father.

Euan Morton narrates this book with skill, his narration of Alfie is spot on and you feel every emotion he feels. Every character has a voice and the parts with the banging how Morton brings Georgie’s emotion to the forefront are amazing. Highly recommend this on audio!

The author does a great job at making you feel everything Alfie feels the fear, the trepidation, the confusion all written so beautifully.

4 ½ Stars

I received this book from netgally but ended up listening to the audio version and am so glad I did!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann

This book cracked me up and after reading a few serious books in a row it was just what I needed, I laughed out loud many, many times while reading this book and saw people and situations that I recognized as my own. And how could you pass up this title!

One of the chapters that cracked me up was ‘Just some of the reasons the neighbors always hate us’  this one made me laugh because at my house we are a bit anti-social and seem to have major differences politically plus have a hard time not commenting on things like “You paid thirteen grand for a dog to have surgery?” this chapter hit close to home!

As a mother and grandmother I also have to wonder about these theme birthday parties and spending hundreds of dollars to throw your kid a party, whatever happened to birthday parties at home with a cake and pin the tail on the donkey now it can’t be at home and it has to have a theme why?? When did this start?? This chapter hit home too.

Oh who the hell am I kidding this book is full of snarky goodness and sounded like all the things I say inside my head but don’t always have the courage to say out loud!

If you are a fan of Laurie Notaro and/or Celia Rivenbark then this is a must read!

4 Stars

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Euphoria by Lily King narrated by, Simon Vance & Xe Sands

Euphoria by Lily King narrated by, Simon Vance & Xe Sands

I know that Margaret Mead inspired this story but I still wanted Nell to be a real person that I could research and learn even more about. This was a fascinating book made all the better by the fabulous narration of Xe Sands & Simon Vance.

This book kept me completely enthralled from beginning to end, not only from the descriptions of the tribes, their customs, taboos and superstitions but from the relationships between the three main characters. Also this book is so well written that it was easy to picture the village and tribes people. If you search Margaret Mead New Guinea in Images you’ll see some pictures that could easily be the three main characters ,also see narrator Xe Sands Pintrest Page below for some other pictures she used for inspiration.

I really enjoyed the characters of Nell & Bankson and even though Fen is not a very likeable chap he is an interesting character he is so jealous of Nell’s success and her relationship with not only Bankson but with the tribe themselves, Nell has a rapport with the tribe that Fen can only dream of which he kind of does he imagines a relationship that really isn’t there. He hides things from Nell to make himself look better and is a very insecure man. Where Bankson sees Nell in all her glory and is impressed and awed by her ability to get the tribes people to talk to her about things no one else seems to be able to get at. He learns from her and respects her and I think that is the key in their friendship.

 Obviously the narration of this book was superb Xe Sands as Nell was fabulous and all her different accents from American, to British to Australian were all spot on and when she voiced Bankson I felt like she did a good job of channeling Simon Vance!  Simon Vance as always does a great job and did well even when speaking as Nell and I thought he also did a great job channeling Xe; also both narrations of Fen and his Australian accent sounded the same so you knew that it was him. I thought this was a fantastic collaboration and hope to have more books with these two working together!

If you can’t already tell I loved this book, it is different book and hard to categorize, but I found it fascinating and even went back and re-listened to the last hour because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I have never read anything by Lily King before but I will be remedying that as I loved the way the writing in this books flowed and how she kept me so interested from page one to the end.

5 stars

Full Disclosure I received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and the Publisher Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review

Narrator Xe Sands has put together a Pintrest page with some images that helped her realize more clearly the place and time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf narrated by, Tanya Eby & Kate Rudd

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf narrated by, Tanya Eby & Kate Rudd

This is a powerful book, and at times hard to read. This is definitely a ripped from headlines book, when the unthinkable happens to social worker Ellen, how do you get people to understand that it was an accident when the guilt of it is ripping you apart. Then we have runaway Jenny whose dad is in jail and her mother ran off with the man that beat Jenny when she was younger but luckily she is found by a kind woman who also happens to be Ellen’s mother Maudene.

Ellen has seen the most awful things in her career as a social worker but one moment of distraction changes her whole life and the life of her family and she ends up on the other side of the fence wishing with everything that she could go back and start the day over. This book shows the difference between outright abuse and neglect and accidents but sometimes social services and the media don’t see the distinction between the two. My heart broke in Ellen’s storyline when the awful thing happened my heart was racing and it was just really tough to read.

Jenny is spunky and courageous and luckily pretty street smart I liked her and was rooting for her to find a better life. Although her storyline was a bit too happily ever after and felt a little rushed I was still happy for her.

Tanya Eby’s narration as Jenny was very well done and believable but Kate Rudd’s narration was so hysterical it got really old, I can understand that in certain moments of this book the hysteria was needed but it was constant and it seemed to be all the characters are just screeching and whiny.  I do understand this was a taut emotional book but I wish Rudd had dialed back a bit.

As I said this is a powerful book, I think this would be a good book for a bookclub because I think it would bring about a great discussion. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending I felt both stories were rushed and a bit too tied up in a bow for my taste.

3 Stars

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams narrated by, Kathleen McInerney

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams narrated by, Kathleen McInerney

I so wanted to like this book, the description sounded like something I would really like but this one fell short for me. I won this book from librarything early reviewers but had a hard time getting into it so got the audio hoping it would be better but for over half of the book all I wanted was for it to be over.

I love dual storylines in historical fiction and that was what I was expecting but this book is Romance, lots of sex (very descriptive) and once you get through that there is a little bit of a historical fiction storyline but not enough to save this one, IMHO. Also the characters are all pretty much unlikable and the whole stupid romance in the 1964 storyline is ridicules they fell in love in 5 minutes?? Give me a break! This book may have been better served if it just told Violet’s storyline because Vivian was annoying and her whole storyline revolved around this convoluted romance with someone she met and supposedly fell in love with in an afternoon.

Violet’s storyline started out strong then dwindled into idiocy, with many unbelievable things happening and I wanted more of the actual story of how …( no spoilers) than just the whole romance crap.

And the ending was all tied up in a little bow that made me throw-up a little in mouth, it was so saccharine.

Kathleen McInerney’s narration was very well done but couldn’t save me from wanting this book to end!

I may be in the minority here, this book has gotten a lot of buzz but, don’t be fooled by the historical fiction moniker this is straight up romance and not a good one!

2 Stars (barely)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Butterfly Sister, by Amy Gail Hansen narrated by Amy Rubinate

The Butterfly Sister, by Amy Gail Hansen narrated by Amy Rubinate

This was a different story than I expected, it turned out to be a darn good thriller and Amy Rubinate's narration just made it all the better!

Ruby is a much damaged woman after a bad affair she drops out of college and moves home when one day a delivery is made to her house of a suitcase belonging to her former roommate Beth but when Ruby sets out to find Beth she instead finds out that she is missing. This mystery takes her back to the scene of her heartbreak, Tarble College, where she finds an even bigger mystery that also seems to revolve around her own heartbreak.

As I said I wasn’t expecting this book to be a thriller I was expecting a sister story, (the title is explained towards the end of the book.) But I did really enjoy this one once I got over the fact that I hadn’t read the description very well. I enjoyed the use of authors Woolf, Plath & Perkins as plot devices to tell you how some of these women felt.  The mystery of it all kept me guessing as to the cause of the disappearance and other things happening on campus and the reveal completely threw me, which is a great thing! Every time I thought I had it figured out things would swing in a different direction, which I enjoyed.

Amy Rubinate’s narration was as always impeccable her soft southern accent was perfect with just the right amount of accent as to not become overdone. All of her characters and voices were well done and I feel her narration made this book even better. If you haven’t listened to Rubinate’s narrations I highly recommend anything narrated by her.

I would recommend this thriller to anyone who likes a book that will keep you guessing.

4 Stars
5 Star narration

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blunder Woman written and narrated by, Tanya Eby

Blunder Woman  written and narrated by, Tanya Eby

This book is not my usual fare; however I truly enjoyed this hilarious story starring the dysfunctional Chloe AKA Blunder Woman. This book is humorous first then a bit of romantic comedy, Chloe has fallen head over heels for MMM-Matt , as she calls him, but she is getting very mixed signals from him but some of those signals give her hope that he feels the same way. However as the reader of the book you know she is barking up the wrong tree and there will be times you just want to shake her and say he’s just not into you, wake up! When Chloe finds out Matt is engaged to the gorgeous Amber,  she follows them to Mackinaw Island with her best friend and mother in tow to show Matt that it is really her he loves. This is when true hilarity ensues!

The other characters in the book include Chloe’s best friend Megan and Chloe’s mother who is a great character all on her own, from her Reiki to tarot readings she is hippy dippy and hilarious. There is a whole cast of interesting fully fleshed out characters each one with their own quirks and personalities.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tanya Eby on my blog but had never had the pleasure of hearing her narrations so I decided to do one better and listen to a book she wrote and narrated, I was not disappointed the story is great and the narration was fabulous you always knew exactly who was talking and everyone had their own voice. I look forward to listening to more by Tanya.

I didn’t realize this book was set in Michigan when I chose it for one of my vacation listens and I was vacationing in Michigan, so it was fun knowing all the places they went.

If you are looking for a light listen/read that will make you giggle, snort and guffaw this is the book for you! Be warned listening to this book in public will get you funny looks because you can’t help but laugh out loud at some of the great lines and situations. I would definitely read another book by Tanya and would read another book with this cast of characters (hint, hint).

4 Stars

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Sudden Light by, Garth Stein

A Sudden Light by, Garth Stein

Pub Date: Sep 30 2014

My review:

Those who follow my reviews know I am a sucker for a good family secrets novel and this one had it all…secrets, spirits/ghosts, lies, deception and a great generational story. I enjoyed Stein’s book The Art of Racing in the Rain and when I saw he had a new book coming out I requested this one on Netgalley and once I started I could not put it down.

I really enjoyed this story I liked the flow of it and the writing, I felt like Trevor was telling me his story and I was completely enthralled.

My favorite character in this book was Grandpa Samuel even though he wasn’t the best father or husband or grandfather it was the little snippets he would come up with that would make me laugh or wince but truth coming from a “demented” person sometimes takes a humorous tone.

I wasn’t fond of Serena at all and she creeped me out long before anyone in the book seemed to realize how creepy she was. But I won’t say anymore because *No Spoilers*

Trevor is a 14 year old kid who just wants his parents to get back together and be happy again. When his parents separate his mother goes to England and Trevor accompanies his father, Jones, to his ancestral home North Estate a home made completely out of huge logs and a place his father hasn’t been since he was banished from the home at 16 after his mother died. Trevor is more than happy to accompany his father because he makes it his mission to fix his dad and make everything ok between his parents. But as he soon discovers there is more going on at North estate than meets the eye and it may take a lot more than he was bargaining for to help his dad. I enjoyed Trevor’s intellect and his ability to believe in things even when everyone is telling him not to.

Trevor’s dad Jones is a messed up man, something happened in this house years ago that he won’t talk about and it has affected and is still affecting his entire life but can he step up and become the father his never was?

Then there is the history of the house generations back a promise was made to a dead man that one day North Estate would be allowed to go back to the forest but the people living there today want to be rid of it and want to make boat loads of money in the process, so do you keep a promise to a dead man? Or do you do whatever you want and have the life your forefathers had before other generations squandered the fortune?

These people and stories come together in a great book that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a multi-generational family secrets story.

4 ½ Stars

Full-Disclosure: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, June 28, 2014



I am so happy to be participating in Going Public’s Summer Shorts ’14 , promoted by Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators. They have teamed with Going Public, and Tantor Media to offer Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization. (See the end of this post for more information on this program)

This year I had the pleasure of getting to know a new to me narrator Tanya Eby who was nice enough to answer all my questions and offer a giveaway to any book she has narrated (details at the end of the post).

Tanya Eby is an Audie-nominated narrator. AudioFile Magazine said "Listening to Tanya Eby is like listening to a full-cast recording". She has a BA in English language and literature and an MFA in creative writing. Besides narrating, Tanya blogs, and works on her own novels. She has published four novels and is at work on her fifth.

Free Listen: The Girl at the Gate, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Bonus Track: The Perfect Neighbor, by Tanya Eby

Story Summary:

This is a fun little story about a man on his deathbed, young love, and a ghostly encounter.

Let’s get to know Tanya:

Did you get to pick your short story or did Xe assign them? If yes, What made you choose this story?
Xe gave us total freedom in choosing a piece we wanted to read. I decided right away that I wanted to read an L.M. Montgomery short story. She wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, which was a huge influence on me growing up. Also, I’ve narrated a lot of steamy romances and mysteries, and I wanted to do something that my kids could listen to (if they ever wanted to). It’s a bonus that it’s a little ghost story.

Let’s get the routine questions out of the way first…
How did you get started in audiobooks?
I was a Theater and English major in college. When I was having trouble figuring out a text, I’d read it out loud and suddenly the characters would come to life for me. I got into doing radio commercials for extra cash while finishing up school and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Eventually, I heard that some actor friends were narrating. I recorded a demo, sent it to companies, made wishes to the fairies, and was miraculously cast.

What was your first book?
Oh my gosh! Can you believe I don’t remember? I think it was a Debbie Macomber book. All I remember was that the first time I narrated a full book, I was completely exhausted after the first day. My voice was hoarse and my dinner was a big bowl of soup followed by an even bigger bowl of ice cream. When I finished the book after three days of non-stop talking, I cried with relief. Then I asked when I could do it again.

I see you are also an Author, which do you prefer writing or narrating?

I love storytelling in general. In writing, I get to build a different world and kind of shape things as I go. In narrating, I slip inside a world that’s already created and explore characters. They’re both really satisfying. My own work doesn’t sell as much as I’d like, but ah well. I keep trying. It will be great if I can keep doing both. 

Can you give us a scoop on any upcoming books you are especially excited about? Can be a book you are writing or one you are narrating or both.
There’s a book coming out in July called “Expecting” by Ann Lewis Hamilton. It’s funny, heartwarming, bittersweet, and has fantastic characters.
My book “Tunnel Vision &Other Stories From The Edge” was just released. It’s a novella narrated by Mikeal Narramore and then it also has two short stories I narrated. They’re dark stories. I guess I was exploring my dramatic side. My other work is comedic.

I enjoyed listening to your narrations on your website and your blog is a hoot I highly recommend everyone checking it out. I see you also have a food blog how did that come about?
Oh, thanks! I do a bunch of weird little stuff. I’m a foodie and I like to think I’m funny. When I’m not working on book stuff, I’m in the kitchen. My newest food blog is “Dips, Balls and Logs Blog” mostly because I laugh every time I say the title. It’s food for quirky people. You know, my soul mates. 

Thank-you so much for joining me and thanks to Xe Sands for asking me to join in the fun!
And thanks for the great questions!

I’d like to offer a giveaway. The winner can choose whichever book I’ve narrated on Audible for an instant download. There are all sorts of genres to choose from. Or they could choose a book narrated by my saucy doppelgänger “Tatiana Sokolov”.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The entire collection Summer Shorts ’14 is available at Tantor Media.

Past post:
6/27  A Discussion with Author Jane Cawthorne and Narrator Dawn Harvey @ My Books, My Life

6/28   Tish Hicks, How They Broke Away to Go to the Rootabaga Country, by Carl Sandburg @ Going Public
6/29   Karen White, Sharks and Seals, by Susanna Daniel @ Every Day I Write the Book
6/30    Xe Sands, Virtue of the Month, by Kathleen Founds @ The Oddiophile

About the Program
The audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public andTantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download. Full release schedule on the Speak Freely page.

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, advocates on behalf of adult learners and the programs that serve them, provides training and professional development, and publishes materials used in adult literacy and basic education instruction. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. Its publishing division, New Readers Press (NRP), has for more than 40 years provided educators with the instructional tools they need to teach adult students and older teens literacy skills for functioning in the world today. Materials are available in a variety of media, including the flagship publication, the weekly news source News for You, which delivers articles online with audio. Proceeds from sales of NRP materials support literacy programs in the U.S. and worldwide.

Summer Shorts ’14 is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Post-production, marketing support and publication provided by Tantor Media. Graphic design provided by f power design. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands. Nonprofit partnership coordination provided by Karen White.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Audiobook Month Audie 2014 Thriller/Suspense Winner Giveaway

Audiobook Month Audie 2014 Thriller/Suspense Winner Giveaway

#audiomonth #Audies2014

As you may have heard June is Audiobook Month, I am honored to participate in the APA’s @Audiobook Community #audiomonth campaign.

 Thanks to the Audiobook Community and Hachette Audio, I am giving away one copy of the 2014 Audie Thriller/Suspense winner:

 The Hit By David Baldacci Read by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy

 Publisher: Hachette Audio

Length: 11 hrs and 46 mins

From David Baldacci--#1 bestselling author and one of the world's most popular, widely read storytellers--comes the most thrilling novel of the year.
The Hit Will Robie is a master of killing. A highly-skilled assassin, Robie is the man the U.S. government calls on to eliminate the worst of the worst--enemies of the state, monsters committed to harming untold numbers of innocent victims.
No one else can match Robie's talents as a hitman; no one, except Jessica Reel. A fellow assassin, equally professional and dangerous, Reel is every bit as lethal as Robie. And now, she's gone rogue, turning her gun sights on other members of their agency. To stop one of their own, the government looks again to Will Robie. His mission: bring in Reel, dead or alive. Only a killer can catch another killer, they tell him.
But as Robie pursues Reel, he quickly finds that there is more to her betrayal than meets the eye. Her attacks on the agency conceal a larger threat, a threat that could send shockwaves through the U.S. government and around the world.

One winner receives The Hit By David Baldacci Read by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy
Prizing courtesy of the APA
Giveaway open to US addresses only
Giveaway open to entrants age 13 and up.

Winner will be chosen via random drawing on July 4 and notified via email. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Upcoming giveaways
28-Jun Classics Cubicle Blindness
29-Jun Short Stories/Collections Literate Houswife
30-Jun Business/Educational Audiobooker

Monday, June 2, 2014

Evergreen by, Rebecca Rasmussen

Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen

Expected publication: July 8th 2014 by Knopf

This book was sad yet uplifting at the same time. These characters are flawed but flawed by things done to them by others and how they dealt with the hurts that were done to them. My favorite character was Lulu she was an amazingly strong woman who conquered whatever life threw at her and was strong for everyone around her, she was the kind of friend I think anyone would be lucky to have. Hux was my second favorite he had a quiet reserve and so much empathy for people.

Of course it is hard to agree with some of the choices made by these people especially Evaline but if she had made different choices then it would have been a very different book. The treatment Naamah received in the orphanage is tough to read but it is one of those instances where it made her who she was flaws and all and her choices when she left the orphanage were caused by the treatment she got there.

Parts of this book will break your heart and parts will make you smile, this is one of those books that is hard to review because I don’t want to give anything away because I want you to experience it for yourself. This one will give you such a book hangover I can’t get these characters out of my head. I finished this book 3 days ago and am still thinking about these characters and miss them and it makes me tempted to go back and start again at the beginning just to be close to them again.

My only qualm would be I wish I knew Naamah's journey after Racina ended up in the hospital and how she ended up where she did. And there were times I wish she hadn’t jumped quite so far in time but I think that was more about me missing the characters.

I don’t want to say too much more as I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone so I will just say this book is a must read!

5 Stars

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dakota by Gwen Florio narrated by, Caroline Shaffer

Dakota by Gwen Florio narrated by, Caroline Shaffer

I should start off by saying that I am a North Dakotan, I live here,  my family lives here, my parents were raised here, so my perspective on this may be different than others.

This was a good mystery and it kept me guessing right up to the reveal. Lola is a reporter who decided to go after a story even though her Montana newspaper and Sheriff boyfriend Charlie tell her not to. She finds herself in the North Dakota Oil patch where the men outnumber the women by a huge percentage and finds herself hip deep in all sorts of trouble. She’s on the hunt for a killer of a young girl and maybe even more girls,  when she puts it together that many women from the Blackfoot Reservation in Magpie, Montana are going to the patch to work and that work ends up being  dancing or prostitution but they are ending up dead, not rich like they were hoping. She takes it upon herself to find the answers and it puts her in danger.

I liked the character of Lola she’s scrappy and fearless, of course that fearlessness gets her in trouble as she dives feet first into a story that is much bigger than she ever expected. I liked this book well enough that I plan to read Florio’s first book Montana and I look forward to reading  more of Lola’s adventure’s especially after the ending of this one I am curious how she will deal with that going forward.

The author also does a good job of respecting the Native Americans while honoring their culture. Also the descriptions of the man camps and the bars near them were pretty spot on.

I wish the narrator, Caroline Shaffer, hadn’t used the movie Fargo to learn a North Dakota accent. The character of Charlotte sounds just like the lady cop on the movie/tv show Fargo, and that annoyed me to no end. Her Native American accents were a little better and the main character was good because she wasn’t from North Dakota. Also The Bakken is pronounced Bahkken (like Bah humbug). It wasn’t that the narrator was bad I liked her narration except when she was doing her Fargo impressions. So I would listen to this new to me narrator again as long as the book wasn’t set in my home state!

This story looks at the gritty underbelly of the Bakken Oil Patch in North Dakota it involves prostitution and human trafficking and it may seem like fiction but unfortunately it is a true consequence of the major influx of people coming to ND to work, the crime rate in ND has gone up considerably and there are a lot of murders and crime on the west end of our state.

One thing that bothered me was, Thor saying this is Dakota, I have never heard anyone from North Dakota call it just Dakota because we need to make the distinction that we are North Dakota Not South Dakota.

3 ½ Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher & Librarything however I did end up checking out the audiobook from my library.