Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line.
At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man - and not end up a construction casualty herself....
©2010 Julie Goodson-Lawes (P)2013 Tantor
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
This is pretty lightweight, but it makes a pleasant diversion for summer listening - good choice for the June 2-for-1 credit offering. It doesn't require a long time commitment.
I don't mean this in a bad way. There's a place in most of our reading lives for the modern "cozy" with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of humor, and a little bit of information about historic restoration and history. I won't mention a bit of occult, because the "ghost" plot line in "If Walls Could Talk" is basically just silly. I don't know if Blackwell intends to expand this aspect in future books of the series, but it's not taken at all seriously here.
I particularly enjoyed the first time Mel saw Kenneth's ghost.
I loved all of the times Graham showed up and helped Mel.
Mel is a thoroughly relatable character, and XE Sand's portrayal of her is spot-on. She channels Mel in every aspect of her delivery, and flawlessly conveys all of Mel's emotions, down to wry humorous moments. XE does an admirable job on the elderly ladies, and the younger men, but I found at times I had difficulty hearing all of the older men's parts, and also Matt's, because the volume dropped off. Her pacing was wonderful, and the pauses were well-placed. This narrator inhabits each of her characters and has a solid grasp on how to differentiate between each of them. I would absolutely look for more from this narrator/author combination.
Willy Wonka of it
I got this book because the synopsis read similar to the "Haunted Guesthouse" novels by EJ Copperman. I'll lay out those similarities first:
-- Both have women who are handy (taught by their dads) and go to renovate an old Victorian.
-- Both women realize they can see and communicate with ghosts while in the home.
-- Both are mystery novels in which the ghosts they find need help solving their murders.
-- Both have narrators with irksome tendencies.
That said, it was an enjoyable listen, though it never quite seemed to take off, and sort of tumbled to its resolution. We meet up with Mel Turner as she heads over to see the aftermath of a DIY demolition party. She arrives, someone dies, and the tale begins.
I won't spoil things, but this book is partly set up to have Mel discover how she gained her abilities. Frustratingly though, the reader is likely to figure it out before her because she seems very uninterested and often changes the subject quickly when someone is spilling the beans on her "condition" and things that relate to it. As more and more pieces fall into place, I found myself not caring since I'd figured it out already. Move onto the mystery!
As for the actual mystery, it's your typical whodunnit with Red Herrings all over the place, which all mostly get resolved in one very odd scene which prompts another very odd scene. Mystery solved, but didn't feel all that fulfilling. I didn't feel like I was part of the "learning" process -- well, scratch that, you are, but the things you "learn" don't really help solve the mystery. In the end, Mel gets "determined", figures it out on her own, and the book ends. Sort of a let down.
As for the narrator, she's sort of the opposite of EJ Copperman's reader (Amanda Ronconi) in that instead of being whiny and annoying, she sounds like she's trying to be seductive and sultry. Listening in the car became hard as her sentences all seemed to be read in one breath. She'd start out loud and end the sentence in a breathy whisper. The voices of all the male characters sounded like guys on their deathbeds. I never quite got used to it.
In the end, the tale was OK, not great. What has lead me to decide to skip the next entries in the series (at least for now), however, is the narration alone. Middling interest in the tale, plus an annoying narrator means no credit spent for me.
If this book sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out EJ Copperman's "A Haunted Guesthouse" series. At least that has humor.
Say something about yourself!
Read/Listened for Fun (Physical Copy, Kindle, and Audible)
Overall Rating: 4.00
Story Rating: 3.75
Character Rating: 4.25
Audio Rating: 4.50 (Not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: I was actually redoing a room while listening and this just added to the fun factor!
Story Thoughts: Poor Melanie! All she wants to do is disappear to France and go native for a bit. Family responsibilities though prevent that and so she is now running the family's remodeling historic houses business. She also can see ghosts. These two combine to make for quite a fun way of solving a murder, discovering clues, and looking like your crazy! Actually I felt a bit bad for her as those pesky spirits could just pop up when it is inconvenient. Overall, the case is pretty solid and there were a few twists/turns. Not being able to figure out who did it immediately was great! Though you will figure it out before Mel, you will still have fun watching her come to the realization of who was behind it!
Character Thoughts: I really liked Melanie. Her forthright behavior, backbone, and smarts made her a very strong woman. She was just quirky enough to identify with and knew when to stand her ground. She was also loyal to everyone: family, step-children (previous marriage), and friends. She is the kind of person I would want to have as a friend. Graham, I am not sold on yet but their eventual love match wasn't played up to much in this book. So I can take time to get to know him just as Mel will again.
Narrated By Xe Sands / Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
Xe is one of those narrators that truly sounds different in every book they do. She tends to merge with the characters and bring out their quirks, behaviors, and insecurities. She is fantastic at pacing, nuances, and emotions. I loved her as Mel! She just got her really well. I can't wait to get book 2!
Final Thoughts: Great beginning to a fun series. I just wish I had half the remolding gumption as Mel!
Less filler...I wanted to skip tons of chapters!
Story was way too slow.
More ghost talk, less description on the construction business.
The narrator is wonderful and has a great way with sexy guy-voices. I'm surprised I've never heard her read. It's like listening to Anna Fields; you are able to forget there is a narrator and enjoy the great story.
Mel's great love for the grand old homes of the Bay Area, especially of San Francisco. It was a new insight to me to hear of the beautiful old homes and their history, and resulting tidbits of the history of the Bay Area. I was totally engrossed and enjoyed the story line. There is a perfect balance of humor, romance, technical information, GHOSTS, & character development (quite a few lovable characters, well developed). When read by such a great narrator, it is the best series I've read in a long while.
MORE, MORE, MORE!!!!!!!
This was a well written novel with interesting characters. Melanie Turner moves home after her mother's death to take over her father's construction business restoring historic homes. In doing so she finds out that she can communicate with ghosts. This discovery leads her to help solving a murder mystery and self discovery. The book is a bit slow which give Mel a chance to learn about her new ability, but other than that it is very good and enjoyable. The only thing that I did not like is that occassionally the narrator's voice would play out and I could not hear the end of a sentence. Other than that the narrator did an okay job with the voices and makeing the characters come to life. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
I loved this book, it is laugh out loud funny, and full of wonderful details on renovating old houses.
Hard to say who a favorite character would be, I liked them all.
I liked the first time the ghost shows himself to Melanie.
I did listen to this book in one sitting. That's the great thing about audiobooks, you're free to do many other things while listening. With hard copy you're tethered to the book and turning the pages.
Xe Sands once again does a fantastic job narrating this book. She amplifies the story so well and makes the characters really pop.
Listening to Xe Sands makes this story that much better
I love Juliet Blackwell's stories. A great mystery, with plot twists and turns, but it is her ability with secondary characters and locations that give her stories so flavor
The narrator, Xe Sands, has such an enchanting voice you could listen to her read stereo directions. She truly brings the story to life. She was a great addition to the story experience
I can't wait until the rest of this series is released on audiobook
I would highly recommend this book to anyone! This is the second series written by this author that I have fallen in love with. The characters are uniquely quirky, the storyline is fantastic and intriguing, yes so far all the books I have read have a five star rating by me.
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