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Holly Helscher

Holly

Cincinnati | Member Since 2008

552
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 88 reviews
  • 163 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 22 purchased in 2014
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96

  • Conspiracy in Death: In Death, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By J. D. Robb
    • Narrated By Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1114)
    Performance
    (717)
    Story
    (715)

    With the precision of a surgeon, a serial killer preys on the most vulnerable souls of the world's city streets. The first victim: a sidewalk sleeper, found dead in New York City. No bruises, no signs of struggle. Just a laser-perfect, fist-sized hole where his heart had once been.

    Holly Helscher says: "One of the Better Ones"
    "One of the Better Ones"
    Overall

    This was the first book in the "Death" series that I read and it was so good, I started reading the series from the beginning. JD Robb has developed a world of complex characters that the reader begins to think of as close personal friends. The plot line is good, taking enough twists to keep you guessing. Dallas is a very believable character and one in which many women who are strong, capable people sick and tired of stupidity can easily relate to. The love scenes get a little tedious for me, but nevertheless are signature pieces of JD Robb. They don't ruin the plot in the least. Susan Erickson is at her best as the reader and the voices are crisp and identifiable. This is well worth buying.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • My Husband Next Door

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Catherine Alliott
    • Narrated By Alison Reid
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (17)

    When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella's ramshackle farmhouse.

    Holly Helscher says: "No Real Tension"
    "No Real Tension"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ella married Sebastian with the plan of them both being famous artists. The plan didn't quite work out, although Sebastian made a name for himself before losing his muse. The two separated, but not quite. After the family moves to a farm two kids later, Sebastian jettisons himself to one of the outer buildings and soon becomes the husband who lived next door.

    Early on in the book as Ella thinks back to when the two were madly in love, there is a brief reference to a secret which bonded the two in a special way. After that we are given a parade of characters stemming from Ella's parents, to Sebastian's aunt, to Ludo, the gardener with whom Ella is having a non sexual affair. Throughout the book Ella whines. We are constantly in her head and the action is minimal, as is the tension. And the secret? We never hear about it again until the very last pages of the book. At that point it is irrelevant because unless you are an extremely determined reader, you'll never finish the book.

    The dialogue is superficial at best and Alliott doesn't get the teenage dialogue of her children right. It is unrealistic, particularly in Ella's son. Even at 17 or 18, no kid that age would talk like he does, even in a permissive home which Ella seems to cultivate.

    The book itself is dull, slow paced and pointless. There are no real laughs. The character that is the most well developed and who shows real personal growth is Ella's mother. Ella, herself, is whiny and overreactive on multiple levels. The reader grows weary of her early on, but continues reading in hope that something, anything, will happen.

    This is my first experience with an Alliott novel and I have no intention of buying another one. The narrator, Alison Reid, does very well, but I feel sorry for her that her talent was wasted on such a poor novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Republic of Thieves: Gentleman Bastard Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (839)
    Performance
    (788)
    Story
    (786)

    After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover, and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke's own long-lost love. Sabetha is Locke's childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke's life, and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds, Sabetha has just one goal-to destroy Locke forever.

    David says: "A transition and a preface"
    "A Past and Present Combined"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't recall how many years I waited for this third installment of the Gentleman Bastard series, but the minute it was available I snapped it up. Lynch picks right up where he left off in the second book. It isn't long before Locke and Tannen have yet another run in with the Bondsmagi of Karthain. It is from here we get alternating stories. One story gives us a prequel where we learn about Locke's childhood and his budding love affair with Sabatha. Tannen ultimately enters this story, but not from the beginning. The second story is present time and further entanglements with the Bondsmagi. And of course Locke and Tannen never get it 100% right.

    Where I think the book fails is in Lynch's portrayal of Locke. In this installment Locke is mostly whiny and stupid. He continues to make the same mistake over and over again until the reader wants to shake him. Then he would jump to being arrogant, ungrateful and overreactive. Then back to whiny and stupid. Tannen, however, remains a stabilizing force who thinks more rationally and overall is the stronger emotional character of the two. I enjoyed the prequel story more than I enjoyed the present time story. The story in the present didn't have enough tension. Except for the last ten percent of the book, I don't believe there was a sufficient plot line in the present. I also believe that in the first half of the book the colorful language was a bit over the top and unnecessary. It was more than there usually is for our roguish thieves. I also think they lost some of their humor and Locke lost much of his normal resilience and independence.

    The ending had a good hook, but it didn't positively connect with Locke and Tannen. Although the end was interesting, Lynch moved the primary focus of the tension elsewhere. It was more of an indirect connection to Locke and Tannen and I think this was another mistake.

    Sometimes when there are many years between installments, the author loses touch with the characters. I think this may have happened to Lynch. Had this been the first book of the current three, I may not have continued the series. But as it is, it is the third of seven books and I will wait another four or so years for Book IV, The Thorn of Emberlain. As Lynch writes it, I hope he will go back and read his own books one and two to reconnect with his characters as they were originally written. Changes in characters are only acceptable if they undergo personal growth. I'm not positive Locke has experienced any and his youth does not give him a bye.

    The narrator, Michael Page, gives us another excellent performance.

    If you are knee deep into this series, please read it. It is entertaining and the backstory is very well done. It does enrich the story to know the thieves' history. But if you are new to Lynch, don't start with this book. Read the other two first.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Assassin's Quest: The Farseer Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Robin Hobb
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    Overall
    (1344)
    Performance
    (946)
    Story
    (957)

    King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz - or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest - perhaps to death. Only Verity's return - or the heir his princess carries - can save the Six Duchies.

    Alejandro says: "A fantastic, but exhausting ride"
    "I Weary of a Stupid Hero"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By the end of Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, I see that he takes a page from the Wheel of Time's reluctant hero, Rand. Except Fitz is far more than reluctant hero. He is just stupid. In the first two books I could forgive it because he is just a teenager. But as he ages, and even admits understanding and takes on new resolves, he immediately forgets them the next day in some fit of anger or his misguided sense of justice. If I'm going to dedicate 39 hours of my life to a third book, I expect some personal growth from the main character. Even the wolf has better sense.

    Having said all that, Hobb is masterful in making me care! So in spite of all the tedium and lack of ongoing personal, sustained understanding by the main character, I cared what happened to Fitz and all the other characters. Hobb does a good job of developing all of them, and even getting right to the heart of the feelings of the female characters. He pulls together all the story lines and resolves them. I laughed out loud at the resolution of one of the tiniest story lines that I would have expected to be dropped out sight.

    I was ready for the end but was vastly disappointed in that Fitz finally achieved what he wanted. A life of his own choosing. But his decision about what to do with it continues his reign of stupidity. I could have sat there at the end of the audio and picked through how everyone else chewed him up and spit him out for their own gain, blaming them for his final decision. But then I remember how the "catalyst" created every situation all by himself. The ending is, indeed, tragic. And because Hobb somehow made me care, I cried.

    Boehmer is a good narrator and makes the characters easily understood.

    If you have read the first two books, you will want to read the last one. And there is no place within it I can say, "you can skip all this and go right to here." You'll have to slog through. Focusing on the Fool will get you through it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • If It Bleeds

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Bonnie Hearn Hill
    • Narrated By Marisol Ramirez
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Newly promoted as the assistant to Matthew Henderson, California's Valley Voice investigative reporter, Corina wants only to prove to her boss, her coworkers - and herself - that she's the right choice for the job. When the body of the city's first woman mayor is discovered in a dusty vineyard - and her boss is nowhere to be found - Corina gets her chance. Then a second brutal murder connects to the first.

    Holly Helscher says: "Another Page Turner by Hill"
    "Another Page Turner by Hill"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Corina Vasquez is delighted by her promotion from the business department for the California Valley Voice to investigative reporter. And true to Hill's style, from there we are right into the plot. The body of Mayor Tina Kellogg has turned up after three months of searching and Corina is assigned to the story. She knows the deal up front. "If it bleeds, it leads." She knows she'll get the by-line on the front page, above the fold, if she can get it right. In spite of a crisis in confidence, she follows the trail and finds herself in the middle of a much bigger story, with a lot more bodies.

    Hill treats us to a murder mystery free of excessive description and filler. She gives us enough information so we know where we are and what we're looking at. But she never pulls us from the plot. It is one of the greatest aspects of her craft. Her dialogue is snappy and realistic. Her characters could be you or your neighbor. You know them. And Hill develops them throughout the novel without slowing down the pace. When reading a Hill novel, put on your seat belt because she doesn't slow it down. That's part of the fun she brings into the read.

    Conversations Corina has with her mother are short tension breakers, which allow us glimpses into Corina's background without dreaded info dumps. Nicely done.

    Marisol Ramirez does a nice job of narration and her Spanish is impeccable.

    I recommend the book and am glad Audible is adding more of Hill's books to their inventory.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    Overall
    (9780)
    Performance
    (8883)
    Story
    (8895)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "14 Gets a 10!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book because of the reviews, but was apprehensive because Clines is known for zombies and I don't like zombie books. I am delighted I took the chance. No zombies here. Just a good, solid book with great characters and a compelling plot. You can't get better than that in any genre. Right away I meet Nate, the hero, who has a lousy job and is in need of new digs. I wasn't sure where it was going from that point, but because he is nice guy and I cared about his plight right from the start, I continued reading. By the end of a couple of chapters, I was hooked. I hated to go into my own job because it interfered with reading the book. It wasn't long before I knew my lovely characters were living in a type of haunted house and was certain their curiosity was going to get them in trouble far beyond their abilities to handle it. It didn't matter that I was warning them from my car as I listened, and yet I was trailing along with them poking into every hole and opening every lock. Clines' characterization and dialogue are realistic and, at times, hysterical. The ensemble, for that is how I started visualizing them because the scenes were so well developed, became my friends for the amount of time it took to listen to the book.

    This is a great stand-alone novel and Ray Porter does a nice job of differentiating all the voices. This is worth the buy and I can see why it made the Audie list of the best. Even if you are not a Sci-fi fan, you'll enjoy this book.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Eben Alexander
    • Narrated By Eben Alexander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1478)
    Performance
    (1287)
    Story
    (1297)

    On November 10, 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander was driven into coma by a disease so lethal that only 1 in 10,000,000 survive. Seven days later, he awakened with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm that were more real than this earthly one - memories that included meeting a deceased birth sister he had never known existed. Dr. Alexander deployed all his knowledge as a scientist to find out whether his mind could have played a trick on him. In its shutdown state, there was no way it could have.

    Kelly says: "Compelling"
    "Fairly Typical"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While I believe Dr. Alexander's illness was real there are holes in his story that trains could easily speed through. He receives the best of care for his illness, which the general population would never be accorded. His description of his own NDE is nothing more than something a good fiction writer would come up with. He claims not to have read any other NDE books and uses that as part of his proof that the other world he visited is real. I don't know that he didn't read anything else. That's simply a self report with all the holes in it that anyone's self report would have.

    But it isn't his experience and description of where he went during his coma that I find true fault with. What makes him less than a credible source is the dogma he flaunts throughout the book. Additionally, his charmed life, incredible education, his own wealth, world travels and even fairy tale resolution to what he claims was a huge emptiness in his life are what makes him less believable. Were I to read such a story from an average person not given all these opportunities and elite life, I would give it more weight.

    I'm happy Dr. Alexander found something he can hang on to. I respect his story and even how well it is written and read. It's clear he found something very important to him and it works for him. I'm genuinely delighted about that on his behalf. But for the rest of his, his memoir may be a sign post, marker or pointer, but it is proof of nothing.

    Other NDE stories are far more compelling. I would spend your credits on something else.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Reached: Matched, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ally Condie
    • Narrated By Jack Riccobono
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (592)
    Performance
    (538)
    Story
    (537)

    After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. In this gripping conclusion to the Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

    Anastasia says: "Disappointed ..most likely will return this book"
    "What Happened to the Series?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, I was disappointed in the conclusion. The plot about going still and finding the cure had potential. But Condie made it more of a subplot. The book was more about Zander's and Ky's love for Cassia. While it appeared that Zander experienced some growth throughout the series, Cassia remained nearly stagnant in that arena and Ky was a lovesick puppy all the way through. His whining was detestable and I couldn't stand listening to him. If I hadn't been driving when I listened to the book, I would have skipped all of his chapters. His contribution to the plot was nonexistent. The book could have carried on perfectly fine without him. I don't know how Cassia, portrayed as very intelligent, could have fallen for such a person. The "match" makes no sense.

    Although I realize the book is dystopian in nature, and teens would mature a little faster, I think they sounded a little too old for their ages. The last 25% of the book was moralizing on the part of Cassia. It was as if Condie was reaching herself for a way to wind it up. Perhaps the entire tale would have been better as a two-book series.

    I know readers who read the first two novels will feel compelled to buy the last one, but if you can stop yourselves from doing so, you'll save a valuable credit.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Killer Body

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Bonnie Hearn Hill
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Wholesome, intelligent, and enviably slender, Julie Larimore has been the spokesperson for Killer Body Weight Loss for almost seven years. Then suddenly she vanishes. While fighting off the media frenzy that surrounds Julie's disappearance, the company's maverick founder, Bobby Warren, starts his search for a new spokesmodel for Killer Body and finds the field is wide open.

    Holly Helscher says: "Killer Suspense"
    "Killer Suspense"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "You have to want the body" is the tagline for Killer Body Weight Loss and is one of three things associated with Julie Larimore, their spokesperson. Except Julie has vanished. This begins an avalanche of events that starts with a media whirlwind. Alternating between despair and nonchalance over Julie's disappearance, Bobby W., owner and founder of Killer Body, decides to hold a contest for Julie's replacement. Three candidates make the final cut and the reader becomes intimately involved with each of them. Who would you choose to replace Larimore? The penniless princess, the aging TV star, or the pudgy hippie? Someone doesn't want any of them.

    What makes this book particularly striking is its ability to drop us into the center of our culture's obsession with weight loss and youth. Each of the three contestants struggles in her own way to achieve and maintain the killer body. What would they do to be Julie Larimore? What have they already done to emulate her? Bonnie Hearn Hill gets right at the heart of the matter and we emotionally identify with these women. By the end of the book, they all experience personal growth which is essential for any good novel.

    Bonnie Hearn Hill is a master of suspense. Scene after scene takes us to the edge of our seat through the eyes of each character. Many times while I was driving I found myself crossing my fingers as they curled over the steering wheel. There was nothing more I could do to help the women. Of unique interest, which also demonstrates Hill's genius with the written word is our full involvement with Julie Larimore, who never utters a single word or is present in any scene. But we understand her completely. Brilliant.

    Mozhan Marno does a nice job of narrating. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and Marno makes it easy enough to know who's talking.

    This is a well crafted novel and worth the money. I highly recommend it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 46 mins)
    • By Anne Lamott
    • Narrated By Anne Lamott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (83)

    Anne Lamott is known for her perceptive and funny writings about spirituality. Listeners of all ages have followed her faith journey through decades of trial and error (sometimes more error than Annie wanted), and in her new book, she has coalesced all she knows about prayer to three essentials: Help, Thanks, and Wow. It is these three prayers - asking for assistance from a higher power, appreciating all that we have and all that is good, and feeling awe at the beauty of the world around us - that can get us through the day and can show us the way forward.

    Holly Helscher says: "Thanks and Wow"
    "Thanks and Wow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I picked up the book even though I wasn't sure about the prayer part and I'm glad I did. In less than two hours Anne Lamott gives us a succinct, funny, and all-inclusive tale about her journey from "fine china" prayers to the three that are more of the paper plate variety and probably more effective. Written in an authentic style, Lamott unapologetically shares her take on approaching god whether she is a mountain, an armchair, or some other external power we can talk to. Her breathe of knowledge about all types of spirituality is evident in the content and readers can be comfortable with her version of truth regardless of where they are in their spiritual journeys. She is honest about who we are as people and as a society yet, in the end, states we are "mostly decent." For me the hope and charm of this book is that I finished it and could say, "Yeah, I do that and can probably do a little bit more of it." While I cannot say Lamott is the best narrator in the world, she is acceptable and there is something special about her reading her own work. If you are looking for a short, touching read that helps you move along toward a little bit of change in a non defensive way, this book is wonderful.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Joshilyn Jackson
    • Narrated By Joshilyn Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1325)
    Performance
    (1142)
    Story
    (1118)

    A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Jenny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother....

    Melinda says: "This One Ought To Butter Your Biscuit"
    "Southern Snap"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first book I've read by Joshilyn Jackson and I was pleasantly surprised. Trying a new author is like putting my toe into a swimming pool to check the water temperature. After the first chapter of this book I was ready to dive in.

    Ginny Slocumb, a 45 year old single parent is the sole supporter of her adult daughter, Liza, and granddaughter, Mosey. Liza, once a strong willed woman, got caught up in the drug scene and disappeared at 16 with her infant daughter Mosey. Two years later Liza appears on Ginny's doorstep determined to leave drugs behind and become a responsible, although unconventional parent. But she needs Ginny's help. "Big" as Liza calls her, is more than happy to provide assistance and structure. But after more than a decade of staying clean, Liza suffers a debilitating stroke. Big is devastated, but looks at the tragedy honestly but is determined to bring her daughter back from the darkness where she's trapped. And she continues to raise a teenage Mosey in the process. Once Jackson sets up the situation, she adds in a box of baby bones buried under a willow tree in her back yard. This casts a shadow of doubt on Mosey's real parentage. And from stage left enters Big's long lost love to help her out.

    Jackson moves the plot forward by utilizing three different points of view. We hear from Big, then Mosey, then Liza in a repeating cycle. Each character provides more questions but additional answers as well. More and more is revealed about each character and we see them grow as individuals. But they also grow as a tightly knit family. The metaphors and dialogue are fresh and snappy. We are fully engaged in the mystery and conflict. There's not a significant amount of suspense, but enough tension to cause you stay with the family mystery.

    I believe Jackson delivers Mosey's point of view the most realistically and I enjoyed reading her voice the best. When writing from Liza's point of view, Jackson misses the mark slightly and isn't as straightforward. She attempts to show us how a stroke victim might think while trying to access words that the brain has lost through the stroke. As the book goes on, Jackson gets better at it because Liza gets better at it.

    Jackson narrates her own book. Without the chapter headings telling us who's point of view we are in, it can be difficult to separate who's speaking. Nevertheless, she provides the Southern accent that adds charm to the entire story.

    This book is more along the lines of Kate Morton rather than a true crime novel. If you're looking for gritty murders and espionage, look for something else. But if you want a light read that's freshly told, I recommend the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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