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Gaele

We read to know, we are not alone ~ C.S. Lewis

Atlanta, GA

ratings
117
REVIEWS
117
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
113

  • Lord of Fire, Lady of Ice

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Michelle M. Pillow
    • Narrated By Mason Lloyd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (32)

    Lady Della despises all things Viking. They may rule the land, but they will never rule her. Unfortunately, her father doesn't seem to agree. To prove his continued allegiance to the Viking king, the Ealdorman of Strathfeld betroths his only daughter to a respected Viking Lord - a warrior whose legendary prowess isn't reserved for the battlefield. Fighting the newfound craving in her body and the unwelcome fire in her heart, Della must choose between everything she knows to be true and the one thing she never expected...

    Crazy Aussie says: "The woman has no spine."
    "Medieval: emotional and lush"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’m a huge fan of those retro bodice-ripper stories: you know- the ones with Fabio on the cover and you can SO not judge me for that. They are escapist, they pull at your emotions and deliver some moments with characters where you wish to be able to reach out and shake them because they are being so contrary. I’m also in a huge Historic Romance kick of late, there is something so unique to the world and the conventions that give authors a way to ‘work around’ those, and further develop some depth in their characters to make up for an often rigid society. Well, Michelle M. Pillow has managed to blend all of the elements and return a story that pleases my need for an emotionally charged escapist read in a world built with lush historical details and a bit of angst as the characters fight traditional conventions.
    Brant is a strong leader, competent and capable and well respected by his men. Fiery is his nature, passionate and determined, this is all signified with a shock of red hair that graces his locks. He is truly the Lord of Fire, and it only remains to be seen if he can melt the icy reserve of his wife and lady.
    Della is cold, yet that is a shell to protect her heart and express her discomfort with her situation. While she appears to use her lack of emotion and reactions to embarrass Brant in the company of others, her utter dismissal of him during their private moments are akin to throwing ice on a burn.
    Yet, the two need to learn to trust one another, and find the keys to share the passion that is buried within. And there is where I had a few moments of repetition in the story: there was often a rehashing of their issues, as if neither wanted to learn from the first time around. Those were moments that made me want to shake them. A few overused words that came up often, and a bit too much dithering in interior monologues about their undying concerns, passions or love: when it was abundantly clear to the reader that they were electric and attached to one another, they seemed to take a bit of time to get to that realization themselves. I did adore the fact that this was a veryearly historic romance, based in the middle of the Anglo-Saxon era of Vikings and Wars and Alfred the Great, king of the West Saxons.
    Narration in this story is provided by Mason Lloyd, and his voice is unusual for most romances, yet a perfect adjunct to the story. Effortlessly modulating pitch, tone and even accent, his narration never distracts and often enhances the more emotional moments, adding in scorn, disbelief, anger and frustration with apparent ease. Even the softer moments are clearly defined with his voicing, and the rare moments of happiness and laughter are spoken as if he were smiling from within.
    This isn’t a smooth run to the end, but the story rarely finds the reader without some sort of emotion from frustration to anger to worry to ultimate cheers as the two finally sort out their communication and manage to come together for a happy ending.

    I received an audiobook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jala and the Wolves

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Marti Dumas
    • Narrated By Marti Dumas
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Jala is a curious girl with a penchant for canines. In addition to playing pretend and being something of a gourmand, she spends most of her time learning new facts about animals - especially wolves. One day, after being severely scolded in the kitchen, she returns to her room and is only a little surprised to find that a mysterious mirror has appeared. Like Alice's looking glass, the mirror in Jala's room is only the beginning.

    Brandon says: "A beautiful story from a mother to her daughter"
    "a more humanist view of the world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: 4 Narration: 4 Story 4
    I’m always on the lookout for child-appropriate titles that will work as books to share with your children, or encourage new readers of chapter books to ‘do it themselves’. Surprisingly harder than you would expect, watching for content, message and of course, avoiding too much of the action or scare factor that would discourage some young readers. For that reason, faerie-tale morality stories that trend to a more humanist view of the world are my favorites, and are well-suited to a variety of readers and ages.

    Jala and the Wolves by Marti Dumas is an action-packed, thoughtful tale following Jala and the lessons she learns along the way. Set just before Thanksgiving, Jala’s obsession with food and animals collide into a fantasy adventure unlike any others I have read.

    Jala is obsessed with food, particularly bean pie (I have no clue –but am curious) and she’s apparently often underfoot as food is being prepared. Shooed out of the kitchen one morning during breakfast preparations, she retreats to her room to read more in her book about wolves. But a strange mirror draws her attention, and soon she is the alpha female, tasked with managing this new pack.

    The wolves have hit a rough patch, and aren’t the best at finding food for their own survival. Jala uses her own experiences and knowledge to teach the wolves a new way, and learns much about availability and making do as she travels.

    The lessons in this story are multilayered, from understanding that not everyone has or knows what you do, to the often very real struggle for enough to eat, and using your own knowledge and experience to move forward in multiple situations. Jala was a wonderful character, with a solid voice and curiosity.

    Narration was provided by the author, Marti Dumas, and her presentation is wholly relaxing and reminiscent of ‘story hour’ at the children’s library. Dumas knows her story thoroughly, and presents Jala with a youthful tone and optimistic approach to life and her journey, and a thoughtful side that explains and presents her conclusions from the journey in an easy to understand way for readers 5 and up.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author via AudioBook Blast for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Double Dog Dare: The Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series, Volume 8

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Donna Ball
    • Narrated By Donna Postel
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    For dog trainer and search-and-rescue volunteer Raine Stockton, the last few months have been marked by murder, danger, and betrayal. A luxury vacation to the Caribbean resort island of St. Bart's sounds like the perfect antidote for stress, particularly since it includes three of her favorite traveling companions: her boyfriend, Miles; his daughter, Melanie; and Raine's happy-go-lucky golden retriever, Cisco. But even in paradise, trouble finds them.

    Elizabeth L. says: "Dog days at the beach!"
    "engaged early on"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first I have read from this author, I was expecting a cozy mystery with some doggie highlights. What I didn’t expect was to find myself engaged early on and finding the intersection of mystery and romance working really well for me. In addition, the dog-training tidbits, especially the well-intentioned attempts gone wrong, were entertaining and amusing.

    Raine is the heroine of the story, and she is in need of a vacation. Her love interest, Miles has spirited her off to St. Bart’s for a much needed break amongst the rich and famous: a huge change from her quiet life in the Smoky Mountains. Not long after they arrive, there is a murder, and Raine being her curious self has to investigate. The contrast of her more simple approach to life with the more bourgeois atitudes of the other vacationers and residents was a nice inset – the grass isn’t always greener, despite Miles’ glam attempts to spirit her away.

    Cisco is a lovely Golden, and very typical of the breed: friendly, goofy and often prone to selective obedience. I couldn’t help but picture that ‘golden smile’ as he meandered through the plot, even when he was bad. Adding in his own daughter and mother, Miles’ showed a side of men that is often lacking in the fiction I read: the nurturing / caring side. It was an interesting subplot to show their interactions and relationships in a unique way, even adding a dash of drama for young Melanie.

    Narration for this story is provided by Donna Postel: utilizing pitch and tone changes she deftly moved between characters, accents and story presentation that keeps listeners engaged and easily able to distinguish characters and emotions. Without over-acting or over-reach in the emotional moments, she presented the story beautifully.

    A fairly straightforward mystery, some foreshadowing hinted at things to come, without overwhelming the moments in the present, and it was fun discovering Raine’s process as she solved the story. Plenty of background information on the characters was provided, in a way that was not overwhelming but allowed me to feel comfortable early on, and I did not feel as if there were major gaps in understanding characters or story.

    Fans of cozy mysteries, a touch of romance with their mysteries and those who enjoy dogs who are a part of the character’s lives in ways that are honest and true to real life will enjoy this audiobook.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator via AudioBook Blast for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Emperor's Agent

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Jo Graham
    • Narrated By Anne Hancock
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Elza is content with her life in the demi-monde, an actress and courtesan in the glittering society of France's First Empire, but when her former lover is arrested for treason, she’s blackmailed into informing on her friends and associates. She has one alternative - to become the secret agent of the most feared man in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte! Elza must rely on her wits, her courage, her beauty, and her growing talents as a medium she must triumph - or die!

    Gaele says: "the fiction got lost in overcrowded elements"
    "the fiction got lost in overcrowded elements"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall: 2 Narration: 4 Story: 2

    I really expected to love this story; historical fiction, intrigue, Napoleonic era, a woman serving multiple roles in an era when women were often little more than window dressing, Jo Graham has brought multiple elements into the story that should have had me devouring the story. I love historic fiction, and am always intrigued with stories from all sides, so the opportunity was too good to pass up.

    Although the fifth book in the series, this does stand alone as information regarding the heroine, Eliza, is clearly presented. Eliza was orphaned at a young age, married and widowed, and after her husband’s death, she is embroiled in several love affairs. Her affair with the one man she cannot forget, Michele, is a repeating element in this story, both in flashback and in current remonstrations. A bit confusing and less emotional than I would have hoped – most of the flashbacks are focused on the eroticism to show the connection, which never quite fit for me.

    But, I digress. Eliza has been recruited to ferret out the spy that is revealing secrets of the campaigns: Napoleon’s hierarchy is said to be concerned with the spirits that are guiding England in the war, and are using Eliza in some mystical way to commune with the spirits to bring them to the side of the French. While interesting, the author did not explain key elements of the whole connection and the purported use of Eliza for this. Additionally, her dressing in men’s clothes, taking the name of Charles because people treat her differently (even as they know she is a woman in men’s clothing) just felt trite and gimmicky to me –she makes no effort to contain her femininity and by her sheer power of will she gets her results. I was close to putting the audio away and not completing at this point.

    Graham’s writing is uneven: lyrical and beautiful in some places then choppy and vague in others. While the research that went into this story is apparent in the battle descriptions and actual timelines, the fiction got lost in a loosely directed overcrowded series of events and ‘must be in there’ elements leaving me more interested in the actual history.

    Narration is provided by Anne Hancock, and she uses her crisp delivery and careful attention to the plot to provide a pleasant listen. I didn’t find much emotional reality in the story, it seemed to feel more melodramatic or willful unfeeling moments from Eliza, and this was reflected in the narrator’s performance. Without adding elements that did not exist, nor overplaying the moments that did, Hancock presented this story clearly, with no missteps or overreach in adding elements that were just not supported by the writing.

    I’ve read several fictionalizations from this period, and of course non-fiction, but I would not be inclined to recommend this to all but the most dedicated of readers of this author’s work.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator via AudioBook Blast for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Six Weeks to Yehidah

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Melissa Studdard
    • Narrated By Karen Krause
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Move over, C.S. Lewis; Melissa Studdard is here! Annalise of the Verdant Hills is one of the most delightful protagonists to skip through the pages of literature since Dorothy landed in Oz. Join Annalise and her two walking, talking wondersheep as they travel to ever more outlandish places and meet outrageous and enlightening folk on their journey to discover interconnectedness in a seemingly disconnected world.

    mani says: "Yehidah"
    "Unlike any other stories I have reviewed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A curious mix of children’s fantasy stories, Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia and The Wizard of Oz, Melissa Studdard has crafted a lovely story perfect for middle-grade readers (or in this case, listeners).

    Annalise is 11 and a dreamer, she loves to sing to the clouds and imagine herself in the stories her mother reads to her. Despite her very tender age, Annalise is grappling with the questions we all have: why are we here and what is our purpose. And she explores the question and gleans answers in the company of her two sheep friends, Mimi and Mabel.

    Full of lessons and learning all brought gently to the forefront in a wild mix of characters and lovely prose that often is mixed with rhyme and song, Annalise is learning and exploring those parts of life that lie deep within, and aren’t always visible. Heavily laden with lessons that are intrinsic components of the thoughtful life; touching on themes that range from self-determination, choice, love, family and the circular nature of life and the interconnectedness of all beings. While the concepts are deep and still can confuse and confound adults, Studdard presents the building blocks of initial thought with grace and clever imagery that will enchant younger readers as they travel along Annalise’s journey.

    Narration in this story is provided by Karen Krause who deftly manages to add nuanced inflections, subtle tone and pacing changes and a smile in much of her delivery that makes the listen intriguing and entertaining. I love her voice and clear delivery, not too fast or slow with moments taken to just wonder at the lovely word pictures that Studdard has created.

    Unlike any other stories I have reviewed, this story is fun and intriguing while carrying what is ultimately a life-altering decision at the end: Annalise is a wonderfully developed character with a thoughtful and imaginative interior life, never losing that wonder and curiosity of a child even as many of her reflections and conclusions are solidly old soul.

    This book stays with you for the sheer beauty of the writing and world, and the messages within, giving both children and adults an experience that leaves them richer for the listen.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jane and Austen: Hopeless Romantics

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Stephanie Fowers
    • Narrated By Andrea Emmes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    Meet Jane and Austen. First there's Jane - an impractical, starry-eyed wedding planner; if love can't match what she's read in a book, she doesn't want it. And then there's Austen - a pragmatic, logical-to-a-fault financial consultant; even if he were interested in someone, he wouldn't know. The two have one thing in common: they can't leave each other alone.

    DK says: "Would Go Well W/Required HS/YA Required Reading"
    "a soap opera-esque series of miscommunications"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall: 3 Narration: 3 Story: 3

    I’m a fan of Austen’s work, so this mash up of situations and circumstances pulling from her published works looked fun, and a chance to sample yet another Austen-inspired story.

    Jane is out of university and working as an intern to the events planner at North Abbey, a B & B turned upscale resort. For me, Jane is almost a picture perfect caricature of Emma: a bit obsessed with her ‘vision’ of how things should be, obsessed with romance for romance’s sake, completely ignoring the realities. It was a bit of a ‘getting used to” period for Jane’s overly enthusiastic proclamations of her ‘devoted romanticism”, which while passably believable all seemed to be gleaned from film school director’s notes; dressing her characters with Regency era clothing, reverting to a moderately-accurate approach of mannerisms, while pulling some tragically teen-aged dialogue and situations into her daydreams. It was hard to see her as a functional adult with the screaming daydream moments that felt very juvenile.

    Austen is the son of the couple that owns the North Abbey, and wants to be off working in finance rather than hospitality. Friendly and open with Jane, Austen is the ultimate bean counter: rather clueless about body language cues, with a strong pragmatic streak. He and Jane had a comfortable friendship that Jane had built into a major romance, second-guessing his every move and romanticizing every moment. When he heads to Boston for a job opportunity, she is utterly despondent and convinced her love has walked away. She’s back and forth about him and her feelings, and never quite ‘settled”.

    Back and forth between the two, mixing in several secondary characters that appear quickly with little introduction and various levels of impact: it is often a bit of a crush trying to keep them all straight. With the constant twists trying to name characters as ‘stand ins’ for characters from Austen stories, the Fower’s references and character-mixing are clever. Lighthearted, exceedingly fast paced and some embarrassing situations that are cleverly detailed, the story is a light moment, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the ride.

    Narration is provided by Andrea Emmes, and while I applaud her attempts to assign voices and approaches to each character, there were some issues that were distracting and inconsistent. Jane’s voice felt real and appropriate, and her simple pacing changes to indicate Austen’s voice were solidly performed. But the inconsistent application of British accents for both Chuck and Dancey as well as simple mispronunciations: parentses for parent’s, guyses for guy’s and furlise for Für Elise were major issues for me, more disruptive than the often overly saccharine squeak-toy voice for Ann Marie and the breathy, almost shrill voice for the supposed “star event planner” Taylor. A heavily interactive story with lots of dialogue and quick switches, I can’t help but wonder if a performance that wasn’t quite so focused on defined characters would have been a smoother listen.

    Despite all of this, the story was amusing, and went quickly, keeping me intrigued as I followed along through the wedding week that was the major focus of the story. From fairly straightforward if not entirely logical, the story becomes a soap opera-esque series of miscommunication, dramatic events near farcical moments: as if Fower is in on some cosmic joke that only Jane Austen knew as she penned her stories and poked at her characters.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Remix

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Lexi Revellian
    • Narrated By Anne Day-Jones
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Caz Tallis restores rocking horses in her London workshop. When shabby but charismatic Joe and his dog turn up on her roof terrace, she is reluctantly drawn into investigating a rock star's murder from three years before - an unsolved case the police have closed. Which, as her best friend James says, is rather like poking a furnace with a short stick.

    Busy reader says: "Nice mix of mystery and romance"
    "thoroughly enjoyed this story, an easy, fun, romp"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I own a copy of this title that I purchased close to release: how could I not with a rock-star returning from the dead to infiltrate the life of a woman who restores rocking horses for a living? It was clever when I read it, and still holds up to the initial promise: full of the insecurities we all have but hide, an omnipresent friend that is hinting toward more than just friendship and a touch of mystery.

    Caz is mostly a loner, she restores classic rocking horses in her new house / studio that is just how she likes it. Her budget is tight, and her own creations haven’t taken off, but she is content in her friendship with James, even though there are flashes of him wanting more.

    Finding a ‘vagrant’ named Joe on her outdoor patio, 3 floors up, she is necessarily spooked: but the man, Joe, seems familiar and not at all threatening. And he has a motley dog with him, utterly enchanted with his company.

    From here, the true identity of Joe is revealed: the lead singer of a now-defunct rock band who disappeared and died after the murder of a colleague. Joe is really Ric, and he maintains his innocence to Caz, so convincing that she believes him and agrees to help unravel the mystery.

    The story is fast-paced, with characters that are easy to understand and relate to. The integration of rocking horses and the restoration, and a simple but cleverly twisted mystery that introduces us to Ric’s remaining band-mates and former manager / brother in law moves forward quickly without overly relying on tricks or flourishes to keep readers engaged.

    Narration for this story is provided by Anne Day-Jones, and she manages to add twists in accent, delivery and pitch to delineate each character: from slightly northern-tinges to Hackney, posh private school and some hints of other regions, she manages to keep all of the characters straight and distinct without over-reaching. Touches of emotional overlay note frustration, anger, insecurities and even lust to bring a more solid image of the story to light.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story, an easy, fun, romp through London and the outlying counties with a touch of romance and a happy little mutt that seems to never be far away.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the publisher via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A King's Ransom: Masters of Pleasure

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Reagan Hawk
    • Narrated By David Benjamin Bliss
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    On a quest to find his brother, King Kritan of Katarian on the planet of Panucia finds himself ambushed, beaten, tortured and then sold to fight in the arena games. The people of Tamonius--his rival kingdom--condone slavery, take public sex to new lows and try to turn a profit off anything they can. Nothing can change his hatred for everything Tamonius...that is until he meets the most breathtakingly beautiful woman he's ever laid eyes upon.

    Candateshia Pafford says: "So need more Reagan Hawk on Audible!"
    "dances on the edge of propriety,"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A touch of the otherworldly with initially bizarre influences of ancient Roman attitudes, this sci-fi erotic romance is fast-paced, dramatic and well-developed keeping readers wanting more. The historical influence is felt in some of the constraints on the citizens of the worlds: Panucia had advanced technology, but the leaders of the variant territories banned their use, as well as intergalactic travel.

    Slavery, gladiator games and other bloodsports are common and popular, prostitution is rife in the lower classes, and much like today some territories and people are more cruel and harsh in their punishments than others.

    Surinia is well-heeled and raised to be independent and thoughtful. When she takes up for the cruel punishment of a slave, her life changes and she sees the cruelty and despicable acts that heretofore had been beyond her notice.

    Kritan, a Kartarian half man-half beast is on a mission to find his estranged brother. Caught in a trap, he is enslaved and rescued by the lovely Surinia. As she questions and learns more about this intriguing man, she agrees to help him escape: yet he uses her as a captive.

    The story winds through backstory, intrigue, political machinations and some seriously hot and steamy moments, with scenes of ménage and some dance about the lines of dubious consent. A bit more ‘take charge and push the boundaries than many may be comfortable with, this sci-fi romp does bring plot and purpose to the story and gives solid reasoning to the choices.

    Narration is provided by David Benjamin Bliss and he manages to navigate all of the changes in characters, emotion, personality and threat with aplomb: creating distinct voices for each character with changes in pitch, tone and delivery. Small inflection changes add tension or emotion as required by the text, and the narration never overwhelms or directs the story that is being told.

    A wonderfully fun sci-fi romp that dances on the edge of propriety, but keeps readers and listeners wanting more of the world and the beings that live there.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The League of Doorways: Doorways, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Tim O'Rourke
    • Narrated By Fred Wolinsky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    With a werewolf and a vampire for company, Zach Black makes his way across a vast apocalyptic wasteland in search of the box which contains the Heart of Endra. In the desert, they stumble across a mechanical man who tells Zach and his friends that if they want to reach the box, they will have to cross a desolate land inhabited by terrifying creatures, which have been smuggled from the other side of the doorways.

    Nancy Finelli says: "Don't Leave Me Hanging!"
    "There is another cliffhanger at the end - again"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story 4

    The second in this trilogy picks right up where the first ended, or didn’t since the author is an apparent fan of the cliffhanger. While I understand the reasons for them, in titles geared to younger readers I am NOT a fan (not much for myself either) as I believe that each story should have some conclusion that makes you curious about what next, not struggling to sort out a long or drawn-out plot point. But that is really my biggest issue with this story: again O’Rourke manages to build a world that is solid and inventive, and give us plenty of action to follow.

    There are new characters: good, bad and ugly to get to know again in this story, while some carry-over from the first book does happen, this is really a solid deepening of the characters we met in book one: and you CANNOT jump into this story expecting to follow along. You will be hopelessly lost as the action starts with very little breathing time, and we jump right in to it all: not a ton of catch up or background from the first book. Zach is marginally more developed in this story – but it is definitely action, not a character driven storyline, and if you are wanting some unique twists, surprises and plenty of new puzzles to work out.

    Fred Wollinsky’s narration was better in this than the first: or perhaps I was more accustomed to his performance and voicing. His creation and consistency with Zach’s voice is spot on for the character, and his variations in pitch, tone, accent and delivery are clearer as he navigates through a daunting myriad of characters, each bringing their own intention and threat to the story.

    Part two is down, and this trilogy will end with the next book, The Queen of Doorways. There is another cliffhanger at the end of this story: be warned. I did listen to books one and two in succession, so the characters and voices were fresh and while not easy to recall, I found them less confusing in the second round. Perfectly suited for ages 12 and up, there is something to please the fantasy fan who prefers unique worlds and action.

    I received an audioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Doorways: A Book of Vampires, Werewolves, & Black Magic, The Doorways Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Tim O'Rourke
    • Narrated By Fred Wolinsky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    When Zach Black discovers a doorway, he enters a world similar, yet very different from his own. A world inhabited with vampires, werewolves, and zombies, Zach makes a journey like no other. With the help of a beautiful vampire named Neanna Cera and a werewolf called William Weaver, Zach's journey to save the person he loves takes him through the Doorways. But the Doorways have the power to change you - altering your appearance and abilities as you pass between them.

    Susan Keefe says: "Pure magic!"
    "compelling, if slightly over-populated story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Doorways by Tim O’Rourke promised Vampires, Werewolves and Magic all from the perspective of Zach, a sixteen year old boy who will be the hero and constant in the series. I was concerned that the story could easily be ‘too familiar’ with too much of the feel of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as the whole enter a doorway just instantly had me thinking of the Wardrobe.

    What I found was a compelling, if slightly over-populated with characters, story that had some unique twists and villains that are simply ‘regular’ people, without great stereotypical traits to mark them as dangerous. Zach finds himself stepping through a doorway and meeting up with friendly vampires and werewolves. Soon he realizes this parallel universe holds people he knows, some with very different skills and traits than those he recognizes. Of course, there is evil: in fact Zach is thrust into a battle to save his ‘alternate little sister”.

    O’Rourke kept the action flowing, even if, at times, there were too many characters added and given ‘import’ to keep them all straight and easily recognized. His friendship with William and Neanna is serving the plot nicely, and they do show a solid connection. But all of the characters were a touch flat for me without great development that would have had me over the moon about the title. Zach needed to give me more: I didn’t find a way to connect with his struggles or love for his sister, or even the fear or confusion that would have been apparent. It is a solid, action packed fantasy where you have the idea of ‘who’ to follow, but aren’t necessarily engaged with him: it is the action and the unique world that draw and hold you in the story.

    Narration is provided by Fred Wollinsky, and while his narration was solid and he was solidly managing to give Zach a consistent voice that was clearly enunciated and felt appropriate, there were too many voices attempted altogether, and in his more ‘sinister’ moments his enunciation went south and rewinding at least once, but often several times was needed to understand. While I can’t blame that entirely on his choices but on the overload of characters, I think a few less voices would have made a huge difference in this performance.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Barbarian Prince: Dragon Lords, Book 1 (Anniversary Edition)

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Michelle M. Pillow
    • Narrated By Mason Lloyd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (110)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (102)

    Going undercover at a mass wedding as a bartered bride, Morrigan Blake has every intention of getting off the barbaric planet just as soon as it's over. Or, more correctly, just as soon as she captures footage of the mysterious princes rumored to be in attendance. After a euphoric night, Morrigan discovers her spaceship left without her, and Ualan of Draig is claiming she's his wife. It's not exactly the story this reporter had in mind.

    KJ says: "So So, it could have been better."
    "This will be a fun series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This will be a fun series I think, although I have come to them out of order – having read a bit back-to-front having read the Dragon Queen (book 9) first. A fun fantasy romance with a less-than wonderfully engaging heroine, Michelle Pillow dives right into the misunderstandings and arguments that serve a large part of the plot.

    Morrigan is a reporter, and is doing an undercover exposé of Galaxy Brides. She is totally anti-marriage, and more than a bit selfish and spoilt. Her self-import is part defense mechanism and part insecurities, she is always feeling that she has to battle against someone or something to achieve her own ends. Fortunately, even though her mouth and behavior get in her way more often than not, she does come to develop and grow a personality that isn’t quite so abrasive with the patience and help of Ualan.

    For his part, Ualan is singularly unhelpful to Morrigan when he discovers her total lack of information and knowledge about the customs and rules of the Quirillxen. She had a month to brush up, and apparently he felt that sufficient, even though it is patently apparent that she had not paid attention during the Marriage Laws and customs.

    These two have, despite multiple miscommunications and some real humor in the reactions, a relationship that is developing as they learn more about one another, with an attraction that grows as the story proceeds. There is arguing – LOTS of arguing, and some tidbits about the world and the people around them, but truly this is Morrigan and Ualan learning to overcome their stubborn attachment to ‘what is’ and start to communicate. It’s fun in all of the missed connections and misunderstandings, but it really was hard to see these two in a happy ever after.

    Narration in this story is provided by Mason Lloyd: the second book that I have listened to from him and his facility with accent, voice, pitch and delivery add much to this story. Smooth switches from character to character without over-reaching for the female voices, Lloyd keeps the reader engaged and intrigued, with carefully added pauses for dramatic or emotional effect that are perfectly suited to the text.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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