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Gaele

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

Atlanta, GA

ratings
121
REVIEWS
121
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
116

  • Montana Promises

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Velda Brotherton
    • Narrated By Jeff Justus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Montana Promises is a western historical romance filled with passion, vengeance, loss and love. Tressie Majors is left alone in a soddie on the vast great plains after the death of her mother in childbirth. The wild plains and mountains threaten attacks by savage Indians and gold-seeking white men who pose a threat for any woman alone. As she buries her mother and the child, she sees a horse and rider approaching in the distance. Perhaps this is her way out... but Reed Bannon is a wanted man.

    Gaele says: "a story that was rich in character"
    "a story that was rich in character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My first introduction to a western historical romance, and Velda Brotherton managed to provide a story that was rich in character, scenery and pathos before bringing us that happy ending.

    Tressie has just lived through the abandonment of her father and the death of her mother when she discovers a wounded and unconscious man on her property. She pulls on her “must do” panties, and takes responsibility for nursing this unknown man.

    Reed is a confederate soldier on the run after stealing a union horse. His plans are to head west, and Tressie convinces him to take her to track her father in the gold fields. Reed is understandably reluctant, but agrees to accompany and protect Tressie: after all she has managed admirably so far.

    Unfortunately, Tressie seems to have some sort of reversion in her personality: from strong and determined, fairly independent and matter of fact, she becomes petulant and princess, a wilting flower and far more the stereotypical female of the time. While Reed does still take care, and it’s obvious he cares for her, there are so many obstacles to overcome before their lives can begin to take form.

    Jeff Justus is the narrator for the story, and the best option I have for describing his style is to have you imagine the voice you would choose for a western narration, improve it 10% and you approach his style. A solid and clear enunciation with a clear accent, he doesn’t make great efforts to emulate a woman’s voice, merely drops his tone and softens the vowels: while his subtle change of delivery when portraying Reed’s voice is evident but not distracting. A thoroughly pleasant listen, the tension and hesitation when approaching the more dangerous or rough situations is evidenced in his delivery giving weight to the description provided by the words.

    I will admit to not being particularly fond of Tressie after the first third of the book, but I did see the characters emotional connection and growing relationship even as I wondered if the addition of the sex scenes was more contemporary than I would expect in a historical romance. For my first historical romance of this sub-genre, it was a book that held my interest and kept me entertained.

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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Emerald Knight

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Michelle M. Pillow
    • Narrated By Lesley Parkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Whetshire Fortress, Wessex, A.D. 1171: Since birth Lady Ginevra has been betrothed to Lord Wolfram, second son to the Count of Whetshire. There was never any question as to whom she would marry or who she would be. Life has been mapped out for her and she's going to live happily ever after as a Countess. However, there is one complication to her plans. Her rogue of a future husband isn't taking to their life together with open arms. In fact, he seems to enjoy finding reasons to put the nuptials off.

    Kim says: "Thankfully marriages aren't arranged anymore!"
    "Stars: Overall 3 Narration 4 Story 2"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall 3 Narration 4 Story 2

    The third medieval era romance story that I’ve read/listened/reviewed from Michelle Pillow. Her ability to set a story with details to invoke imagery and establish a premise for the story to come is accomplished and smooth. And the premise for this story: a betrothal of two titled children is a strategic device for power and protection common in the time. With Wolf (Lord Wolfram) being eight years older than Gineva, there is a great age gap, and plenty of time for Gin to learn of and accustom herself to her destiny.

    Wolf isn’t appreciative of a child bride, and refuses to use and abuse her in the way many a husband would. He’s developed a reputation as a womanizer, and his efforts to stay away from Gin as he does battle with men and woos women is renown, and word is coming back to Gin.

    Gin, despite her chafing at the ‘set nature’ of her life, has a crush on Wolf, but he is rarely around, and when he is, she refuses to fawn at his feet.

    Pacing and development of characters were issues for me in this book, from a promising start to moments that dragged without appearing to effect development of characters or further the story. Of the two, main characters, Wolf’s development was a bit more complete: his reasons for avoiding Gin and his attempts to do he ‘right’ thing by this young girl, even when he takes refuge in another woman’s bed are well detailed, if not always the behavior one would expect from a ‘hero’. Gineva grows up, but never really matures, even when the two finally see their way clear to become a married couple. There were several steamy moments, but these missed the pull for me that would have come with the sense of connection to a character that was more developed.

    Narration was provided by Leslie Parkin who has done a wonderful job. The voicing of Gineva was a difficult task: from childhood through the years to woman, and there were subtle changes in her character voice over the span of the story, while maintaining the more general delivery and speech patterns. Other characters were distinguished by pitch and tone changes, and were easy to recognize without being told who was speaking. A lovely performance.

    Overall, this just wasn’t the best of the 3 medieval historical romances I have read from Ms. Pillow, missing some of the oomph from characters that just breathe and materialize before you as the story progresses.

    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
  • Caught in a Trap (Romantic Comedy)

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Elaine Raco Chase
    • Narrated By Janice B. Moss
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Retired Navy SEAL and Texas business tycoon Rafe Morgan was sure he was being set up by his suddenly acquired fiancee. He had spent 20 years in the navy and was trained to handle anything - until he came up against one volatile New York redhead with wicked curves and the world's hardest ass! And then he saw her sex lair and was more than willing to be Caught in a Trap. And to set one of his own!

    CAROLYN says: "3.5* FOR HER THERE WAS NO HOPE.. BUT HE HAD A PLAN"
    "Stars: Overall: 5 Narration 4 Story 5"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall: 5 Narration 4 Story 5


    It’s a difficult balance to address real world issues and manage to add in the humor and joy from everyday moments, even when life isn’t particularly joyful. Chase’s dialogue is among some of the best I have read or heard: you feel as if you are there listening to the conversations as they happen, with her characters growing and developing with each word they utter.

    Kit has lived a difficult life, but she has worked diligently to rise above the abuse of her early years and make friends and a life for herself. Kit is an interesting conundrum: pointedly honest in her view of the dangers in life, and less than aware of her own strength, intelligence and beauty, she’s never been wholly honest about her own past, using silence and dissembling in an effort to keep herself safe. She’s intriguing, as you want to know more about her, and can’t quite believe that she created a cruise ship love affair rather than talk about her own less than wonderful vacation.

    The only problem is that Kit’s ‘pretend’ man is very much alive. And Real. And curious about this mystery woman that has claimed him as a fiancé.

    When circumstances bring them face to face, Rafe is intrigued by the woman who claimed to be his fiancé, and decides to play along with the pretext she has created. Early interactions with the two of them, and their encounters with friends and family give listeners a need to know more about them both, and just where the pretend relationship will move to more.

    Both Rafe and Kit have some serious backstories that they are dealing with in their own ways. I’m not always a fan of the ‘two broken people come together and heal’, but in this case, the potent and deep-rooted sense of protectiveness that Rafe displays for those he cares for, even when he is attempting to exercise his own demons away provided a sense of solidity and surety that Kit had been missing for her life. The slow reveal of backstories and private wounds added layers of depth and meaning to both character’s personalities and the insecurities they do their best to hide present the aftereffects of abuse in ways that may surprise many, but are never easily resolved.

    Narration is provided by Janice B. Moss, and she presents a lovely voice picture of the characters. Her solid narrative voice is punctuated with small (with one exception) adjustments of pitch, tone and accent to delineate the characters. The exception? A “villain’ of sorts with a deeply exaggerated southern drawl, laden with nasal-overtones, volume substituting for content and an underlying disdain that hits on every nerve, making my skin crawl. Contrasted to the other character voices, the emotional subtext between the interactions between Rafe and Kit and the solid delivery of the words on the page, the story flew by.

    There is plenty to love and learn from in this story: Chase uses humor to set scenes and moments, while allowing quiet moments to add gravitas to revelations and internal quandaries of her characters. Descriptions of setting and fashions bring readers a visual sense of setting and the ‘priorities’ of the characters, using these elements to add to characters in subtle ways that we all notice, but few realize. Deftly mixing serious, lighter and sensual moments keeps the reader needing to know what will happen next, as the story unfolded steadily. Another clever story from Elaine Raco Chase that is much more than one would ordinarily expect from a Rom Com, and will keep readers coming back for more.

    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
  • The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Elle Thornton
    • Narrated By Lindsey Gast
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Nearly everything important in 12-year-old Gabriella's life that summer of 1957 can be traced to the river. Without friends, her mother mysteriously absent, and her father, the general, treating her as if she doesn't exist, Gabriella turns to the river beside the Marine base where she lives in North Carolina. She's determined to learn to swim so she can make the general proud by showing him she's good at something.

    Gaele says: "“...I ask him if he knows the name Emmett Till.”"
    "“...I ask him if he knows the name Emmett Till.”"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4

    “...I ask him if he knows the name Emmett Till.”

    That one sentence exemplifies the growth and awareness brought to a 12 year old girl, daughter of a military officer, motherless and wandering around somewhat aimlessly one summer in late 1950’s North Carolina. Reminiscent on many levels to the title To Kill a Mockingbird, the parallels are clear: a young female protagonist learning that life is complex and multi-layered, a single father, traditions and attitudes in flux, and one person, or people who refute what ‘everyone’ knows simply by their proximity to Gabriella.

    The narrative voice in this story is solid and clear, even with Gabriella’s confusion and questions with all she believes she knows, all she is learning, and the questions and concepts that are just beyond her comprehension, this becomes a well-defined story of growth and acknowledging the world around you, while trying to build your new voice that will gain notice from a rather distant father.

    As the summer progresses, Gabriella is learning to swim at the river: while her efforts to win the swim meet is not controversial, her coach in swimming and in her awakening to the broader issues of the world happens to be an African American man, assigned as houseman and cook for she and her father. The importance of the river, the swimming, the struggle to gain her father’s approval all mix with imaginings and questions, showing us all that answers are not always what we want to hear, or think we need at the time.

    Narration in this story is provided by Lindsey Gast, and she manages to grasp the ‘sound’ of a 12 year old girl without sounding cartoonish or being a vocal caricature, and uses that sense of the character of Gabriella to inform her every thought. Other characters are presented with small changes in pitch, tone and depth of accent, and are clearly indicative of the characters in age and gender. An easy story to listen to, the name of Emmet Till may be a new one for some, but the issues that are revealed in this story are timeless and some are eerily relevant in the consideration of current events.

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Flame & Stone: Dunning Manor, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jamie DeBree
    • Narrated By Kevin Clay
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Flames once put the heartbroken Thomas Grady under the ancient curse of an old manor house. Two hundred years later, fire fueled by an unholy passion drives Katie Watson to the same manor for protection. Assigned as her guardian under duress, Thomas just wants to do his job and go back to sleep.

    dailey says: "Savior in Stone"
    "Highlight of this story was the narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    AudioBook Review:
    Stars: Overall: 3 Narration 4 Story 2

    I was all in when I saw the opportunity for a new gargoyle romance: I’ve read others, but started in the middle of the series, and rarely have the free time to go back and read just for pleasure. Flame & Stone has a wonderful premise, and I was curious about a male narrator for a book that appeared to be female-heroine driven.

    While the premise was clever, the abbreviated introduction to the series at just 150-ish pages meant that every word, each nuance needed to count. Character development was crucial in this story, setting the foundation for more to come while providing readers with interest in following along.

    Thomas was cursed long ago, and now is a gargoyle destined to protect Dunning Manor. A bit set in his ways, Thomas is bossy, moody, gloomy and rather too full of himself. He does, however, do his job well, and he is tasked with protecting a young woman in danger. He’s not a happy camper with the situation and he makes that clear.

    Katie is the heroine and a rather damsel in distress air follows her about until, quite predictably, she falls for Thomas after a tiny bit of push and pull.

    That is, sadly, the story in a nutshell. Lacking in character development, depth and story continuity, the premise was the best part of this book. The writing showed plotting conflicts and disconnects that just didn’t work, with predictable choices being the ones used nearly every time.

    Highlight of this AudioBook was the narration provided by Kevin Clay. While it took a few beats to get acclimated to his voice and delivery style, he brought every ounce of emotion and character out of the words on the page, creating moments to enjoy from a fairly flat story.

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jala and the Wolves

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Marti Dumas
    • Narrated By Marti Dumas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    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
    (30)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    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.

    Briant says: "Quick, light and fun with a twist of murder"
    "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
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    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!

    ecocat says: "The French is Coming"
    "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
    (39)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    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

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