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Steph

United States | Member Since 2012

80
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 68 reviews
  • 78 ratings
  • 290 titles in library
  • 57 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
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  • All Clear

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Connie Willis
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren, Connie Willis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1571)
    Performance
    (1023)
    Story
    (1046)

    Three time-traveling historians are visiting World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Rescued by the second half"
    "Fabulous!!!"
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    I love historical fiction and science fiction so you could say this series is made for me but I would say Connie Willis did even better on this book than the first. It has more action and ties all the stories together neatly. I will say I'm disappointed there is not to be a third in this series. I wanted more. I wanted to hear more about Elaine and Polly. I won't say more about that for fear of spoilers. Katherine Kellgren did a fabuolous job. After I finished this I got the Doomsday Book and if you read it, in my opinion, Connie Willis did a much better job on this series but All Clear in particular. Don't miss out on this. I made my mother, not a huge science fiction fan but a definite fan of historical WWII fiction and non-fiction, download this on her kindle. I don't do that for anyone because I try not to force anyone to read anything but I made an exception this time. ....oh, and she loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Broken Harbor: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2376)
    Performance
    (2031)
    Story
    (2019)

    In Broken Harbor, all but one member of the Spain family lies dead, and it’s up to Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy to find out why. Mick must piece together why their house is full of cameras pointed at holes in the walls and how a nighttime intruder bypassed all the locks. Meanwhile, the town of Broken Harbor holds something else for Mick: disturbing memories of a childhood summer gone terribly wrong.

    Amazon Customer says: "Best in the Series"
    "It's the unraveling of everything! In a good way"
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    The first Dublin Murder Squad book I picked up was 'The Likeness' and I liked it, but after I read 'Faithful Place' I've been on an obsessive Tana French kick. Broken Harbour follows Michael Kennedy nicknamed "Scorcher." This little gem of a book follows this Murder Squad detective who meticulously follows up on all the details and rules of an investigation. He ensure his murderer is locked away nice and tight without any hope of getting off on a technicality. He doesn't close a case until after the trial. He wants no loose ends. We met Scorcher in 'Faithful Place' and our boy Frank left Scorcher hanging. You could say the investigation at Faithful Place started the unraveling of Mr. Kennedy.

    Kennedy, like most detective,s and all French's characters has a scarred childhood. He, however, went to therapy after his divorce and dealt with his issues. He believes he is firmly in control of his own destiny and if you look at life in a positive manner positive things will come to you. The book is about his first big case after Faithful Place and he has no intention of screwing up after working his way back up through the junkie murders. A lot of detectives don't like the big cases or has an issue with murders involving children. For Scorcher, he believes, if you couldn't handle it why do you want to work murder in the first place. He takes a new rookie, Richie, through the paces and chose to keep him on the new big case where an entire family is murdered including two young children. The family, the Spain's, were living in a half finished housing development that got shut down by the economic crash in Dublin. They were in the middle of nowhere and where there are so few neighbors no one may have heard anything.

    Kennedy doesn't get close to people. He prefers rookies because they don't ask personal questions. No one on the squad who has known him for years knows that he has a sister who is extremely mentally unstable or that his mother committed suicide. She committed suicide in Broken Harbor, the same place as the Spain's, on a family vacation to the sea when he was a child. There is something strange at Broken Harbor. Nothing seems right. Mental instability is a vein through the entire book and the desperate need for people to control their situation and surrounding.

    Tana French did a wonderful job. She ties the story together and while the solution may seem obvious she takes you tracking down many red herrings. As per French's usual not all our questions are answered and that is part of its beauty. This is a dark tale that spirals out of control and Kennedy doesn't come out smelling like a fresh lily. Anyone who likes Tana French will be happy. The audible version is narrated by Stephen Hogan. He does a great job. His female voices aren't perfect but I have listened to far worse. As far as his interpretation of Kennedy or Richie he does a fabulous job. I enjoy listening to her books so I can hear the Irish accent since I won't create it in my head. If you haven't read her I recommend you do. This is the fourth installment of the series but there is no need to read the books in order. You won't miss any crucial background story. Each book is a separate mystery about a separate character on the Dublin Murder Squad. Pick the one you feel most interested in and start there. If you want to start with her latest release, 'The Secret Place,' it won't cause a problem. Just make sure you start reading the Dublin Murder Squad.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In the Woods

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4703)
    Performance
    (2758)
    Story
    (2758)

    As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

    Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery.

    Barbara says: "A near-flawless audiobook (but for one thing...)"
    "Psychological Thriller in Ireland"
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    'In The Woods' is the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, but it is the third book in that series I have read by her. French makes this series readable whether you start at book 1 or book 4, and I love the fact you do not have to read them in order. That being said, this is clearly the first of the series. This book centers around Rob Ryan, Murder Squad detective. It also introduces us to Cassie Maddox, his partner, the central figure in Book 2 'The Likeness." Ryan is a flawed character that strays from approved policy, as are all French's characters. He allows himself to be assigned to a case that he is tightly connected with. While against procedure, and full understanding that it could destroy the investigation and his career, he jumps in and does not disclose his personal ties. He believes himself to be the perfect man for the job. French creates an intriguing mystery. I didn't guess the ending despite the fact that all the clues are there.

    Rob Ryan was the victim as a child in the disappearance of two children. They were his two best friends. He is the only one who returns home to his parents, his shoes soaked in blood. His parents hastily move, change his name, and put him in boarding school. They are doing all they can to protect him. He can not remember the incident, even as an adult, but now that a child is found murdered in his home town he gets himself assigned to the case. It has been many years, but as he investigates the murder of a young girl he can't help but investigate any similarities to that of his childhood friends disappearance. Is this girl one of them? Is it related? French digs relentlessly into a small town that sits in the ruins of an archaeological site, an archaeological site that is about to be shut down for the sake of a new road and the never-ending drive for "progress." As Ryan and Cassie investigate the case, Ryan is having flashbacks. These flashbacks take him down an interesting rabbit hole that was his life before his best friends disappeared. Ryan also starts to unravel. He has difficulty distinguishing what is real and fact. His behavior and memories jeopardize the entire investigation.

    A friend of mine told me that the reason she liked French so much is she doesn't answer all your questions and in the hands of a less capable writer this could be a plot hole. In French's hands, however, it is an excellent device that leaves you wanting more. How right she is, and French certainly does this in 'In the Woods.' French leaves you with key questions unanswered, but if you look at any true crime there are many questions unanswered that leave you on the edge of your seat. French plays to reality with this. The book is a psychological thriller not just murder mystery. The motive behind the crimes are intriguing. It also delves into how your mind can be manipulated and tricks can be played on it.

    I mentioned that it is clear this is the first of the Dublin Murder Squad series. It is not because it gives you key information to the rest of the books but rather shows how French develops her series formula. I describe it as a formula because the Dublin Murder Squad books have a sole carry over character in the next installment of the series. This carry over is the main character of the next book. There is some light reflection of the previous book, but that is it. Each book is attached to the Dublin Murder Squad, and it is about a singular flawed character at a point when they are at a significant low point in their lives that causes them to question and challenge the rules. They are never a key character again. I find it brilliant, and French is free from having to rehash characters repeatedly. She has fresh characters each time.

    Steven Crossly did a good job. I was a bit surprised that he had an English accent since I was prepared for it to be an Irish accent since the story is set in Ireland. That being said its because our main character has an English accent because he went to boarding school in London. He did a fine job and did a surprisingly good job with female voices.

    I enjoyed 'In The Woods," but didn't find it as well written as her other books. It's not one I would reread but loved the concept, especially how French wrapped up the book. I think if you want to try out French, because you have not read her yet, I recommend being a little nontraditional and start with a different book than 'In The Woods.' That way you can enjoy this one later, but you get French's writing at a higher level to start off with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Faithful Place: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3633)
    Performance
    (2021)
    Story
    (2024)

    New York Times best-selling author Tana French has won the prestigious Edgar, Barry, Macavity, and Anthony awards. As her third novel featuring the Dublin Murder Squad opens, 19-year-old Frank Mackey is waiting in vain for Rosie, who he’s supposed to run away to London with. But when she doesn’t show, Frank leaves Dublin without her—thinking never to return.

    Buffalogal says: "Incredible"
    "The seedy and addictive underbelly of Ireland"
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    I previously reviewed Tana French's "The Likeness" , and enjoyed it, but I developed a sick attachment for 'Faithful Place.' This is by far and away my favorite book of hers so far. When I finished it I immediately downloaded 'Into the Woods' craving and needing more. Each book in the Dublin Murder Squad series has an overlapping character in the books, but it is not necessary for them to be read in order. I am grateful, because technically I started with two, went to three and am now reading the first. I was concerned I missed a major plot point, but it appears I stumbled on a series where you can "choose your own adventure," or more accurately, choose your own timeline. 'Faithful Place' revolves around Frank Mackey and the gritty side of Dublin. The book throws him back into a family dynamic he ran from years ago. Frank is a grizzled undercover cop and handler. He's not the running type.

    Frank Mackey is 41, divorced, with a nine-year old girl he has worked hard to be able to see on weekends. His wife doesn't hate him but decided she and her daughter would no longer come in second to his job. Frank , in an aside, states she finally wised up and divorced him in a sardonic acknowledgement of his mistakes. Divorced by job, I wonder if that will one day become a category on divorce paperwork.

    His daughter knows her dad has an important job and accepts she can't always count on him. However, when his sister calls him telling him he has to come home on his first hard won weekend, it is with regret and shame he returns an angry and disappointed Holly to her mother. He hasn't been home, Faithful Place, in years. Jackie is the only sister he speaks to. He refused to go until he heard that they found Rosie Daly's suitcase. Rosie Daly, his first love who left him to pursue her dreams in England. They were supposed to go together and get married, but instead of finding Rosie at their meeting place he found a letter saying she was leaving without him. Now that her suitcase was found in a condemned house chimney he's questioning if his history of events is accurate. Everyone is jumping to conclusions. Frank waits for confirmation, but Rosie was murdered.

    Frank, who is very comfortable working in the grey, steps on the Murder Squads toes. He, himself, is technically a suspect, and despite the good faith it would earn him to play nice in the sandbox, he circumvents them and does his own investigation. No one in Faithful Place will talk to the Murder Squad but they might talk to one of their prodigal sons returned home. Frank's department head tacitly allows him to go off book in the guise of vacation time and people on the inside agree to help him, much to the annoyance of the Murder Squads lead, Scorcher. Bridges will be burned!

    I love this book. It's an instant favorite. If you like audible books, Tim Gerard Reynolds does a fabulous narration. He provided an Irish accent I could not have created in my head, and his character differentiation was superb. His narration matches Tana French's material and enhanced the experience for me. As a person who rereads books, I will always choose to listen to 'Faithful Place." I was sad to learn he didn't narrate 'Into the Woods." 'Faithful Place' is a book I insist you pick up if you enjoy mysteries, cop drama, Ireland, and the seedy underbelly. Yes, it really is that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shift Omnibus Edition: Shift 1-3, Silo Saga

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1206)
    Performance
    (1104)
    Story
    (1115)

    In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, a simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity's broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall - and the ability to forget it ever happened.

    Tango says: "Your ears are in for a real treat"
    "In the beginning it was political intrigue"
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    The minute I finished 'Wool' (Silo Saga #1) I snatched up 'Shift.' 'Wool' left a huge cliffhanger and I had to know what happened next. That is when I realized 'Shift' is the story of how the Silo came about. It was the answer to what caused the people in the Silo to live underground and what catastrophe had destroyed the topside of the earth. I was a bit disappointed but still very interested. I finished a fourth of the book before I realized I was forcing myself to read it. I simply wasn't in the frame of mind. I put it on my 'to-be-continued' shelf until I was ready to enjoy it instead of slog through it.

    Browsing audible I found that Tim Gerard Reynolds narrated the book. He's a fantastic narrator, so I got this version at a considerably cheaper rate, due to whispersync, as I already had the kindle version. I started listening to 'Shift' a little while ago. I still had difficulty connecting to this book. The writing is not to fault. Howey did a wonderful job, and Tim Gerard Reynolds narrated it very well.

    'Shift' is set in Washington D.C. We follow Donald, a newly appointed Senator for Georgia. He has a strong connection to powerful senior Senator Thurman, whom he grew up with. We find out that Donald was gifted the election by Thurman. Donald would not have won on his own and Thurman has his own agenda for him. Donald, his fellow friend and junior Senator Mitch, and several other new Georgia appointees are tasked to work on Thurman's secret legacy project. Very little information is given. Each person only knows about their section of it. Donald's true task is not to represent Georgia, he still has to do that of course, but he is to utilize his architectural skills, taking a design he created in College, and adapt it to be built underground. He is to develop the Silo.

    'Shift' details the Silo project and switches in between two periods of time: the time the Silo Project was built, and the time after where Donald and Thurman are woken from a cryogenic freeze periodically to deal with problems arising in the Silo.

    The story does not really have any redeeming characters. You have two women in Donald's life who are flat and one-dimensional. Helen, his wife, who lives in Georgia. You never learn much about her other than Donald loves her, she is jealous of Anna, she is a sounding board, and she takes care of their dog. Anna, is a past girlfriend of Donald's and is Thurman's daughter. They still have attraction to one another, and Donald constructs boundaries as Anna finds ways to tear them down. She is the IT intelligence behind the Silo project. We are supposed to feel for and like Donald, but I couldn't help but be irritated at his naiveté. He worked in Washington and grew up with Thurman as a child. It was hard for me to believe he hadn't developed some cynicism. The revelations should not have been so hard for him to figure out.

    There is value in this book, but you will not be getting your answers to the cliffhanger in 'Wool.' You will get a build up to it at the very end but expect that the cliffhanger from the first book won't be answered till the third. 'Shift' is interesting , you get answers to why the Silo's were developed. I would classify it more as political thriller than dystopian fiction. I am interested enough to move to the third, but I wasn't nearly as excited or drawn into this book as 'Wool.'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Genevieve Valentine
    • Narrated By Susie Berneis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Jo, the firstborn, The General to her 11 sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of their father's townhouse and into cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their controlling father. Meanwhile, they continue to dance, until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost 10 years.

    Steph says: "Twelve Dancing Princesses and Speakeasy's!"
    "Twelve Dancing Princesses and Speakeasy's!"
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    This is historical fiction and a fairy tale retelling. Combine the prohibition era with 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' and you get 'The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.' The roaring twenties is a perfect setting for this Grimm fairy tale. The reality of restriction and prohibition in the society of day leading to an overwhelming majority of citizens rebelling by drinking at the speakeasy's at night. Politicians and policemen frequented the speakeasy's while their political platforms railed against corruption and the vice of drink. Bootlegging alcohol across state lines was a booming trade, and the speakeasy that got raided was the one that didn't pay protection or a bribe. Now, add the state of women's rights. Previous to 1920 American women did not have the right to vote, and married women couldn't own property. They had no legal claim to money they earned, and were subject to the will of their husband, father, or nearest male relative. What better setting could you place a story about twelve princesses tightly controlled by their father who somehow wear out their shoes every night? This type of traditional father would never allow his daughters to go dancing. In his eyes, only disobedient lascivious women would engage in lewd behavior as dancing and drinking, and only a weak man can't control his women.

    Mr. Hamilton is nouveau riche. He married a woman of status. Being a driven and ambitious man he knew that if he had a son he could enter the upper echelons of society. His wife, however, only had daughters. Mrs. Hamilton was never without child until she died. She conceived and birthed twelve daughters. Her twelve daughters rarely got to see her and were confined to the upstairs rooms. Only Josephine, the eldest was announced. None of the daughters were introduced to society and most never met their father. Only two were ever let outside the house at a time with a nanny. They had a governesses but as more daughters were born their father dismissed her deciding that the girls were Josephine and the eldest girls responsibility to educate and care for. Precious rare occasions took place when Josephine was taken to a movie or the opera as a special treat arranged by their mother. It had to be and hidden from their father. There were a few books and sporadic presents at Christmas time when their father was feeling generous but otherwise the were to stay away from windows, not be seen, and be forgotten. Josephine or Jo was their father's emissary. She negotiated a $4 allowance once a month to buy clothing, shoes and any large concerns. Jo learned early not to anger their father for fear of abuse and what consequence it would have for her sisters. Several time she sent her sister Ella, the actress, to play the role of a foolish and demure young woman to obtain needs rather than go herself. She was factual tempted to challenge - something that guaranteed refusal from their father.

    The escape from their cage is dancing. Over years Jo's responsibility makes her seem like the nannies, and found she could escape with one of the girls for a few hours. They went to the movies, saw dancing, and fell in love. They practiced and made up steps until they grew the nerve for the oldest to leave, grab a cab, and go to the first club they heard of. They danced all night, but their were rules. You couldn't go if you were sick, if you were heart-sick, you could tell no one names or where they lived, if you got drunk you would be left, and they went home on Jo's orders. Over time they became know only as the princesses. They got a reputation for having tin hearts because they didn't dance for romance. Also, the princesses stuck together, if someone got handsy they had all the princesses to contend with.

    Their father decides its time for them to marry and creates heartache and fear. It isn't that the girls don't want to marry. The concern is for the kind of man their father will pick for them. No introduction to society is planned. They are still a secret. Instead a few girls at a time will host quiet dinner parties with men their father deems suitable. Considering their fathers controlling and traditional values the sisters don't have much hope for nice open-minded men. What kind of man would want a woman who had been closeted away and knows nothing of the world.

    This is a beautiful retelling. Valentine turned a tale about misbehaving cold-hearted young women on its head. It shows controlled, captive women struggling to find independence during the twenties when women just received the vote. Many women were breaking out of the sole role of being at home as mother and housekeeper. The story shows their need to be cold. Solidarity for the sisters was a necessity of survival. Valentine's writing is beautiful, but I found I didn't have the time to read as much as I wanted. When I saw it was available on audible I snapped it up. It's a fabulous way to enjoy the book. Susie Berneis is the narrator. I had read some critique of minimal character development of the sisters outside of Joe. Listening to Susie Berneis I didn't notice it as much. There are a few sisters who definitely do not get as much attention, but the narration made it feel natural. This is not a romance but does deal with gender roles and the dynamics in dating and marriage during the era. A few kisses are discussed perfunctorily, but nothing in any kind of detail.

    I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the roaring twenties, fairy tale retelling, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and the study of social dynamics during Prohibition in the twenties. Listen to this rather than reading it if you enjoy audible books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Angelfall: Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Susan Ee
    • Narrated By Caitlin Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1056)
    Performance
    (974)
    Story
    (982)

    It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her 17-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival.

    Brooke says: "Creep-tastic!"
    "Good YA! Bring on Doomsday!"
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    This is good YA. There is a lot of YA out there, and I enjoy it, I even enjoy some YA that's maybe...not great. I read the entire Divergent series despite having issues with it. I found it fun enough for light reading, but 'Angelfall' is fabulous YA. It made me remember why I like YA, why I enjoyed 'The Hunger Games' and Suzanne Collins so much. Susan Ee created a good young female for us to follow. She is strong, challenged, and doesn't look for someone to save her. This doesn't mean she's and idiot and won't accept it when available, but Penryn is a character I would want young adults to read.

    Angelfall is about Penryn, her paranoid schizophrenic mother, disabled seven-year old sister, and the angel Raphael. There are some other characters but these are the core. Angels have come to earth and have ravaged it. Power is unreliable, food is rare, civilization, houses, and cars have been abandoned in the three months after the Angel's arrival. How do you fight what humanity was led to believe is divine? These are not sweet cherubs. These are the warriors from the Bible. This is not dystopia: it is a Doomsday scenario.

    The book starts with Penryn and her family evacuating. They stumble upon Angels fighting each other. As a distraction to give her family the best lead possible she tosses the outnumbered angel its sword. His wings have been cut off but still fights off his attackers. Penryn's reward is a vengeful deserting angel plucking up her sister and taking her away. Penryn is responsible for her family and strikes up an uneasy alliance with the angel, Raphael, so she can save her sister. She leaves her mother to fend for herself. Susan Ee makes the point that at the end of the world the mentally unstable and paranoid are the most capable of surviving. I find this thought something repeatedly getting mulled over in the back in my mind.

    This book passes the Bechdel test. There are female characters that don't fit static stereotypical molds and exist outside their relationship to the men in their lives. Penryn is trained in multiple forms of martial arts and self defense. Her mother had a mental break and took out all their savings, due to her fears of the devil and demons, to enroll Penryn in every self-defense class she could find. This was the breaking point in her parents marriage. The money was to help Penryn's little sister with medical for her paralysis. Her father snapped and left, and Penryn became the head of the household. She took her lessons seriously being witness to her mothers episodes.

    She is a responsible young woman whether the position she has been put in is fair or not. Susan Ee, however, still represents her as a girl with the challenges that young girls encounter along with the ones that come with the end of the world. She is not an adult woman in the shape of a 17-year-old girl. This means there is still teenage language and written in a teenage voice. We are privy to her internal dialogue where she thinks about her awkward attraction but also acknowledges the reasons she can't act on it. What person hasn't had feelings they knew they couldn't act on? This is an important lesson for anyone to learn. That being said, while I love and am impressed with this book, if your expectation is for an adult book in the form of YA, this isn't it. This is YA fiction, enjoye it, but don't make it something it isn't

    There is a question of romance: a forbidden attraction between angel and daughter of man. Penryn and Raphael deal with feelings of awkward attraction. Let me rephrase, Penryn deals and Raphael may be showing signs of attraction. Raphael, however, isn't an ageless male paranormal that has a sudden epiphany that a teenage girl is the answer to his amorous desires and calls it love. In short, he is not an irresponsible predator...at least not yet. I praise Susan Ee for writing a responsible male character. Raphael is an accountable paranormal male instead of the love-struck vampire seen in a lot of YA. Put a pretty face on it, it doesn't change that a 100-year-old/eons old being is taking advantage of a teenager. ...Okay, I recognize I just went on a rant. I apologize. I will even admit I enjoy books that fall in this category. That doesn't mean I don't get uncomfortable or question what kind of problems we might be creating with the amount of literature published, geared to young adults, that makes having a relationship with older men not only acceptable but fascinating and tantalizing. (End of Rant)

    I recommend this for people who enjoy good YA or are considering taking a foray into YA. Start with the good stuff so you don't run from the genre screaming. I also have to say I enjoy Susan Ee's take on Angels. They are not stereotypical. I'm impressed at her realistic characters you like even as you acknowledge their flaws. Enjoy it, I'm going to go pick up the next book. I am worried. The third hasn't been written and after this book there will be no immediate gratification. Be aware before you start the series...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Line: Witching Savannah, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By J. D. Horn
    • Narrated By Shannon McManus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (453)
    Performance
    (414)
    Story
    (412)

    To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South. Despite being powerless herself, of course. Having grown up without magic of her own, in the shadow of her talented and charismatic twin sister, Mercy has always thought herself content.

    Robin in Vermont says: "Great new series!"
    "Savannah is perfect for witches and hoodoo"
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    J.D. Horn introduces us to the addicting series 'Witching Savannah' with 'The Line.' This book is set in Savannah, Georgia and the magic that lives there. Mercy is the daughter of a powerful family of society witches, but Savannah is also home to hoodoo root doctors and a bevy of ghosts. Residents are used to the unexpected and unexplainable.

    Mercy has a fraternal twin, Maizy. When they were born their mother died bringing Mercy into the world. Mercy barely survived and was born powerless but her beautiful, loving twin was born with an extraordinary amount. While Mercy felt the sting of neglect she also had freedom. Mercy was openly called 'The Disappointment,' and Maizy was showered with attention but also expectation. It would have been easy for Mercy to be jealous but she found all the love she needed in her twin.

    Minor romance drama leads Mercy to reach out to a dangerous, disdained, Root Doctor named Mother Jilo. Mercy has fallen in love with Maizy's boyfriend, but she is not looking for Jilo to have him fall in love with her. She wants Jilo to cast a spell on Mercy to fall in love with her best friend who she knows would make her happy. Jilo explains the basics of magic and power, something her family never bothered to do. Jilo can cast this but only with sacrifice...not guilt. Mercy sees the mistake but Jilo won't turn back warning her family and her trust in them is misplaced. The intrigue begins.

    The next day her evil Aunt Ginny dies. More accurately, she is murdered. Mercy had been summoned to Ginny, the families seat of power and anchor to The Line. As Mercy enters the room she sees her Aunt has just had her severed. Like a normal human, she doesn't call the police she screams drawing her family to the scene. The search for the culprit begins and opens doors to many family secrets and questions. Mercy learns her Aunt was an Anchor to The Line, a magical barrier created by thirteen witch families and held in place by thirteen witches to protect the world from demons. Demons that would enslave us. Ginny's seat of power is empty and the vacuum must be filled. The families descend.

    Horn has given us good YA fiction. It's loosely YA, as Mercy is twenty, but it is coming of age. The romance is minimal and secondary to learning to deal with your family as adults, and finding purpose and a place in the world. It just takes place in a beautiful gothic construction of Savannah with witches. It passes the Bechdel test, and it's a good mystery. I listened to an audible version narrated by Shannon McMannus. She has a beautiful southern accent that made me feel like I was in Savannah. She also did well with character differentiation. If you enjoy audible books this is a good series to listen to. It is lighter fare but well worth your time. I've picked up the second in the series.

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  • Blackout: The Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Mira Grant
    • Narrated By Paula Christensen, Michael Goldstrom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (346)
    Performance
    (316)
    Story
    (315)

    Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies - and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this: Things can always get worse. Blackout is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that includesFeed and Deadline.

    Chris says: "Not with a bang but a whimper"
    "It wrapped it up but I'm left wanting"
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    This is the final installment in the Newsflesh Series started with "Feed." "Feed"is a genuinely fantastic book, and "Deadline"the next in the series was good with one hell of a cliffhanger, but "Blackout" was underwhelming. It makes me sad to say it.

    For people new to the series I will try to keep out spoilers. 'After the End Times' is a group of young bloggers who report and write about a future America where people have learned to live with the zombie virus. Parts of the world have been given over the dead because the areas are either not worth reclaiming or it would be too dangerous to do so. The virus that causes one to become a zombie is called Kellis-Amberlee. It is a scientific mistake of two different cures, one to cure cancer and the other to cure the common cold combining. They succeeded.no one had cold s or cancer but once you die everyone becomes one of the living dead. Our group never lived before there were zombies and accepts them as part of life.

    In the first book 'After the End Times' got an amazing opportunity to follow one of the republican parties political campaign but there was great cost that came with this opportunity. Conspiracies and death riddle the book and it's fascinating.

    The second book processes the loss 'After the End Time's' was dealt. They have fame but it has left a bitter taste. Through Deadline our main character, Shaun Mason, is the one who is left the most unstable. His relationship to his adopted sister, which is extremely close and dependant due to their upbringing, becomes only stranger. Old conspiracies get reopened. The initial villains may not be the only people responsible. Shaun is vengeful and on a mission to deliver retribution at all costs. We meet CDC characters and rogue mad scientists along the way. Some pieces felt slow but Grant's cliffhanger is a doozy and made me acquire "Blackout"immediately, despite the fact I was broke

    "Blackout" gave me closure and allowed me to revisit characters I'm attached to. It did wrap up the story and tie it together, but it lacked action. For a zombie book the actual zombies took the backseat. Part of the reason I like the series is it is intellectual and isn't just zombie attack after another mindless zombie attack, still, I felt a bit cheated on that front. There is a lot of character introspection, and discussion of if the media should always tell the truth. Are there times the damage they will cause mean they should keep quiet? Who should make those decisions, and does the public still have the right to know?

    My biggest complaint is with how the book resolved questions about Georgia, Shaun's sister, and Shaun and her relationship. It felt forced and sensationalist. Some would say it's sick or disturbing. I'm not in that camp. I just felt it could be handled in a more interesting and more likely way. The conspiracy wrap up takes even a zombie story into realms of impossibility it's hard for the reader to accept. I guess I'm saying having read the other two I could never have not read "Blackout," but I wanted more. I also truly believe Grant could have done better. I don't know if it was editing or the pressure of concluding the series but it was lukewarm. It it's more a 2.5

    Now that I feel I have torn this book and author apart I have to say "Feed" is still a favorite. I am not giving up on Mira Grant. I absolutely am going to read "Parasite." Grant is talented, and even if I didn't love this book I got to revisit characters I love and get closure, as I mentioned above.

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  • A Letter of Mary: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes: The Mary Russell Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Laurie R. King
    • Narrated By Jenny Sterlin
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (120)
    Story
    (122)

    The third book in the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series. It is 1923. Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, are enjoying the summer together on their Sussex estate when they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Ruskin, an archeologist just returned from Palestine.

    Steph says: "Sherlock, Mary Russell, & Mary Magdalene....what?"
    "Sherlock, Mary Russell, & Mary Magdalene....what?"
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    When I finished King’s second novel in this series, ‘A Monstrous Regiment of Women,’ I was left a bit uncomfortable and unhappy. King had always kept Mary and Sherlock’s relationship as a mentor and one of a guardian. At the end of that book Sherlock proposes. Their relationship while strained and questioning in the book hadn’t been romantic, but Mary had turned 21 and their relationship caused questions, especially when traveling together.

    My first response was that King was throwing in a needless romance and I was unhappy. Reading this series for me, however, is a family affair. My ever practical and precocious niece was put in the position where she had to educate her aunt(kindly of course.) She reminded me that I was judging the time of the book by present day values. I needed to remember that Sherlock and Mary could not continue working together without causing scandal and destroying Mary’s reputation. A marriage between a twenty-one year old woman and a fifty year old confirmed bachelor out of mutual respect rather than love was far more respectable than working alone together unchaperoned. My niece, of course, was absolutely correct. This, then thirteen year old is extremely smart, and her valuable insight allowed me to once again respect King’s skill and intelligence as a writer.

    This settled, I picked up ‘A Letter to Marry,’ with an audible sigh of contentment. This book starts with a visit from an elderly scholar and friend they had met in Palestine in book one. She gave a generous gift of a papyrus believed to have genuinely been written by Mary Magdalene. You can imagine how this would enrage and turn the academic community upside down if validated. Shortly, after their friend departs company she did in an automobile accident and dies. Foul play can not be ruled out, and Sherlock weedles Mary away from her research to investigate the cause of death.

    King did a wonderful job. I read mysteries frequently to escape. I’m not generally looking for an overly intelligent masterpiece but King is an exception to that rule. She provides an intelligent and exciting read. She creates a mystery I rarely guess the outcome of and a fabulously accurate piece of historical fiction as well. If you like Sherlock Holmes pick this up; if you enjoy pre WW II historical fiction pick this up; if you enjoy a fictionalized study of sociological gender roles and the human mind pick this up. I’m sounding like a broken record. I recommend you read it, but remember the series starts with ‘The Beekeepers Apprentice.’

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  • Deadline: The Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mira Grant
    • Narrated By Chris Patton, Nell Geisslinger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (421)
    Performance
    (360)
    Story
    (362)

    Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has. But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life....

    Matthew says: "A Punishing Book"
    "Oh the cliffhangers!"
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    I finished ‘Feed,’ the first of the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant, quickly, and did not wait at all to pick up ‘Deadline.’ Grant is a master of the cliff hanger. I simply had to know what happened next. ‘Deadline’ picks up right after ‘Feed’ and is narrated primarily by Shaun Mason, everyone’s favorite Irwin. He is a changed man. The events that took place after the end of the campaign left him and the staff of ‘After the End Times’ scarred. The events, however, left Shaun in worse shape than anyone else. He hears voices in his head and he answers them. Those closest to him deal with it, but it is unsettling to those outside of his insulated circle. Shaun is no longer a carefree, devil-may-care Irwin. He has changed his focus to helping Mahir with the administration of the site despite the general roar from the public wanting him to go back to poking dead things with sticks. It’s what they love him for.

    The plot of this book surrounds the CDC and their involvement, scientific methods, and potential conspiracies with the Kellis-Amberly virus(what causes humanity to become zombies). One day Doctor Kelly, Doc, shows up at Shaun’s headquarters in Oakland with information that Irwin’s don’t understand and the Newsies only are getting a glimmer of understanding before a full outbreak takes out Oakland, and ‘After the End Times’ headquarter. The assumption – it could only relate to what Doc knows, the timing of her visit, and knowing who has the power to cause this kind of incident.

    Shaun and his team go completely off grid in towns that have long since been abandoned by civilization and surrendered to the walking dead. There are several people who live this way, including scientists that work outside the rules of the CDC. Shaun and his team get to know the mad scientists as they unravel what is really going on.

    My rating is really more of a 3.5. The tale is more disjointed than ‘Feed.’ It does not flow as well, but it will still suck you in. It’s an intriguing book, but at times you will feel bored and other times not understand character motivation and involvement. Shaun is very changed, as I mentioned above, and it can be hard to completely sympathize with his anger, desire to stay crazy, and his lack of compassion for those surrounding him. A problem I’ve always had with characters is when they start acting like petulant children. Let me fair, however, Shaun has reason to act out.

    Mira Grant is great at providing some exceptional twists. Ones I refuse to give you and ruin the surprise. All I will say is George still has a part to play, and there is one deliciously large twist at the end that raised my evaluation of the book. If you loved ‘Feed’ continue to ‘Deadline’ accepting it will not be quite as good. If you were lukewarm on ‘Feed,’ I recommend stopping here.

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