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The Audiobookworm

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  • The Ex Lottery

  • By: Kim Sanders
  • Narrated by: Eva Kaminsky
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

In this modern Irish fairytale, a young art teacher from Savannah, Georgia has given up on love. Three times Tory Adams has loved; three times her heart has been crushed. On a whim, Tory purchases a lottery ticket using the dates her ex-boyfriends dumped her. And she wins! Wins over $600 million dollars. All Tory has ever desired is love, a home, and a family. Now, with a pot of gold, she can at least have her own home, and she is not settling for just any home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Romantic Irish Fairytale

  • By KRLGA on 02-17-18

Delightfully Surprising!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-17

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮Three things drew me to The Ex Lottery: 1) The cover. This looks like the cover of a NYT Bestseller. 2) The narrator. Eva Kaminsky is ahh-mazing, but I’ll tell you more about that later. 3) The premise. This was the biggest draw. Kim Sanders has thought up an entirely original basis for a story. It was one that I couldn’t resist, even though I’m not typically that fond of the romance genre.

The Ex Lottery wound up being just the lighthearted adventure that I needed after all of the spook-tacular audios I heard in October. The story was definitely fun, but it wasn’t shallow. It had real substance. I was surprised to find such a well-woven plot underneath all of the fun.

One of my biggest complaints with Romance, and with all genres, is predictability. Sanders’ cleverness extended beyond the basic premise of the story. As someone who listens to a lots of stories, I love being surprised. Alas, it is becoming harder and harder to surprise me. However, Sanders was able to catch me offguard several times with unexpected, but welcomed, plot twists. With true skill, she was able to tie each of these seemingly random twists into the larger story, leaving no loose ends.

Many authors are capable of developing ideas clever enough to serve as the foundation of a good story, but far fewer are able to execute those ideas and follow them up with a story of worth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a promising synopsis, only to be let down by the plot execution, character development, quality of writing, or all of the above. The Ex Lottery was well written, narrated, and produced.

The Ex Lottery did not disappoint me in any respect. It made me laugh, made me swoon, and kept me guessing. If only all Contemporary Romance novels were written with as much ingenuity and heart as The Ex Lottery, I might become a regular romance listener. At the very least, I’m interested in hearing more from Kim Sanders.

Narration review: Eva Kaminsky was a huge part of why I decided to listen to The Ex Lottery. I hadn’t heard her before, but I’d heard of her enough to know that this would be worth a listen. And it sure was! Kaminsky added so much to the telling of this story. She was perfectly tuned into the characters’ personalities and the overall tone of the tale. The characterization she provided, particularly to the exes and other background characters, went a long way toward helping me navigate the story and connect with its characters. Less than an hour into the audiobook, I had already begun searching through her other titles. I plan on hearing The Gilded Age Mysteries very soon. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Kim Sanders, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Kim!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bad Bloods: November Rain

  • By: Shannon A. Thompson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Johns
  • Length: 5 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 21

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn't human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Something was missing.

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 12-11-17

A Hidden Gem!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-26-17

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ At first glance, Bad Bloods probably looks familiar. A dystopian world that shuns youth with supernatural abilities sounds like it could be any number of other YA tales, some from big-name publishers. I was a bit cynical going into this one because of it. But what separates Bad Bloods from those super hyped books is Shannon A. Thompson’s magnificent character development and overall writing ability. That’s why I’m calling Bad Bloods a Hidden Gem.

Bad Bloods was only a little over 5 hours long, but I would have sat through much more of it than that. I actually wish it would have been a couple of hours longer and not just because of the cliffhanger ending. Getting to know Thompson’s characters was like slowly lowering into a hot bath. Intense, but at the same time oh-so-enjoyable.

The story was fast-paced, but not action-packed. This installment was driven more by character development than plot. Thompson introduced the world through her characters. There’s political turmoil going on, but we only hear of it as it affects the characters. It’s clearly something that will come more into focus in future installments.

Daniel and Serena were equally compelling protagonists. Both with heartbreaking backstories, there’s still so much about them to be revealed. Even the secondary characters were intriguing and dynamic in their own rights.

Bad Bloods is a series that I look forward to following. This installment was obviously only the tip of the iceberg and I’m practically salivating for more. Published by Clean Teen Publishing, it’s perfect for fans of all ages. It’s particularly well suited for those who’ve enjoyed work by Marie Lu, Victoria Schwab, Lauren Oliver, and Veronica Roth. I only wish it had been a bit longer or had provided a little more closure at the end. Still, I hope Thompson plans on expanding the series on audiobook soon!

Narration review: Jonathan Johns has a very distinct tone to his voice. It’s somehow simultaneously soothing and intense. He handled the characters’ wide range of emotions beautifully, showing just how dynamic his voice can be. I was particularly impressed with his interpretations of the secondary characters.

However, I do wish there had been a more significant distinction between the two primary characters’ voices, especially when reading prose. The story frequently switched POVs between Daniel and Serena. My only real struggle with the story came from my inability to consistently grasp which of them was speaking. This made listening somewhat frustrating at times, but I still completely recommend this audiobook. The production quality was fantastic and it made for an overall enjoyable listening experience. ♣︎

➜This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Jonathan Johns, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Jonathan!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Vacation

  • By: JC Miller
  • Narrated by: Curt Simmons
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Curt Simmons brings Dr. Koval to life!

  • By Angelina on 09-02-17

An Introspective, Emotional Journey

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-10-17

4.5★ Audiobook⎮Vacation is a contemporary fiction novel that feels like a classic in a very “coming-of-age” way. JC Miller sends Dr. William Koval on a hero’s journey worthy of a Greek warrior. Although, the journey William goes on to find himself is as much metaphorical as it is physical.

I would classify Vacation as contemporary fiction, although there is a light romantic theme appearing midway. Vacation is more about life than romance, but since romance is often a part of life, it’s natural that it was included in William’s journey. Don’t expect anything hot and steamy; Instead, Vacation's romance was sweet and endearing. I appreciated that it didn’t overpower the larger plot of William’s journey, which was the main focus of the story.

Vacation was a character-centered tale. The largest obstacle William had to overcome was an internal struggle. As a widower, he was faced with the ultimate task of obtaining closure over his troubled marriage and his wife’s murder. Miller’s use of an internal primary obstacle rather than external was refreshing. Dr. William Koval was a well-rounded character. Vacation is told from his perspective, so we encounter all other characters from his point-of-view. Considering that, the more minor characters were pretty dynamic as well. They weren’t as developed as William, of course, but I still had a distinct sense of who they all were.

Some may find Vacation “slow”, but I think it made for an excellent summer read, perfect for lazy days on the beach. Unlike most “Beach Reads”, Vacation has substance. I was so invested in William as a character that his heartache became mine. It prompted a great deal of introspection on my part and was a bit emotionally heavy in a “Life goes on” sort of way. Miller’s light writing style managed to alleviate some of the emotional burden, making this a surprisingly easy tale to get through. The details Miller provided brought William to life, making it easier for me to connect with him and with the story.

Vacation is a solid standalone novel. At just under 7.5 hours, this could easily be heard in a couple of days. Upon finishing Vacation, I was left with the feeling of completion and satisfaction. Miller did an excellent job of providing the reader with closure. She told a complete tale, with a solid message, in the perfect amount time.

Narration review: You know who the audiobook world is sleeping on? Mr. Curt Simmons. I’ve been singing his praises and recommending him to everyone since I heard him narrate Omari and the People last year. Curt has been blessed with an unbelievably soothing voice. I could listen to him 24/7 and never tire of his voice (I wonder if his wife feels the same way). Curt was the perfect choice for Vacation. It’s like it was written with him in mind.

The sheer sound of his voice relaxes me and makes all my worries fall away. Listen for yourself, if you think I’m exaggerating. And not only that, but he’s talented as well. Vacation allowed Curt to showcase a different set of vocal talents than Omari and the People did. In Omari, most of the characters were from roughly the same region and had variations of the same accent. In Vacation, William encounters people from various countries around the world. Curt gave each of them distinct accents, appropriate to their native areas and somehow managed to capture their equally distinct personalities. Simmons was also dialed in on the considerable emotions depicted in Vacation. The sincerity in his narration made this powerful story all the more moving. Despite the “heaviness" of William’s personal journey, this was one of the easiest listening experiences I’ve had- all thanks to Curt Simmons.

➜This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Curt Simmons, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Curt!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Blood Divine

  • By: Greg Howard
  • Narrated by: Gary Furlong
  • Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 11

Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield, the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he's ever loved.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gary Furlong is the best narrator I have heard!

  • By Lynn/2 Girls & A Book on 09-05-17

The Perfect August Listen

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-15-17

4★ Audiobook⎮ Blood Divine has everything that I love. It combines paranormal elements with a Southern Gothic setting. There are witches, ghosts, and vampires. Best of all, it’s a generational tale about a family that carries a coveted supernatural bloodline.

Blood Divine was the perfect listen for August. August is that weird time of the year when summer is coming to a close and Fall is just around the corner. I love listening to Southern Gothic stories in the heat of the summer and spooky paranormal tales leading up to Halloween. Blood Divine was the ultimate crossroads for those indulgences.

My favorite thing about Blood Divine was the family angle. I love when stories give me the urge to map out a family tree. The Phipps family goes back for generations, several of which are named in the story. Understanding the family is essential to understanding the story. I just thank God there was no incest in this one. Those trees are a nightmare. Sideye: Anne Rice.

I was initially hesitant about Cooper, the protagonist, because he seemed like the love ’em and leave ’em type and there’s only so much of that I can take. Cooper’s character development was a lovely surprise. He was much more palatable after a certain officer of the law entered his life again. I became extremely emotionally invested in their relationship and loved the turn it took near the end. There was the briefest of hints of a love triangle formation, which (given the characters) I would have been more than fine with, but Howard decided to take things in a different direction. In the end, I can see that it was the wisest choice for everyone.

The secondary characters were more prominently portrayed than typical secondary characters. That is to say that they felt like much more than “sidekicks”. It almost seems as if each of them deserves a series of their own. Howard has a knack for developing distinct, individualistic characters. Any one of them could have anchored the story on their own. Because of this, I wanted more from each of them. But because there was so much action, there wasn’t a lot of time for in-depth backstories, which would have considerably slowed the pace. Howard did a fine job of giving just enough information, explicitly or implicitly (through character actions), to keep the listener up to speed. So much of these characters’ personas were shown rather than told. In the case of Blood Divine, actions really were louder than words.

Blood Divine was a very plot driven story. There was a lot going on. Howard spent his time developing the world as a whole and introducing the listener to the various species that inhabit his world. I wish there had been more focus on developing the many interesting characters, but I’ll have to be patient. There’s so much untapped potential here. Blood Divine seems like just the beginning. I can’t wait to see how Greg Howard fleshes this story out.

Narration review: As soon as I saw Gary Furlong listed as the narrator, I knew I had to hear Blood Divine. I loved Furlong’s performance in Timekeeper. Once again, I was impressed with his ability to provide such varied character distinctions. When reviewing his narration for Timekeeper, I marveled at his ability to trade his natural Irish accent for an English one. After hearing Blood Divine, I feel like Furlong is just showing off. Not only did he perform the entire story with an American accent, but he also performed much of it with a Southern accent! I was only able to catch one word that wasn’t properly pronounced: Aunt. As an Irishman, Furlong most likely had no way of knowing this, but it should be pronounced like “ant”. Don’t ask me why. Other than that, Furlong did a thoroughly convincing job. ♣︎

➜This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Greg Howard, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Greg!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Goddess

  • By: Callista Hunter
  • Narrated by: Tami Leah Lacy
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13

Olivia is a sixteen-year-old Vestal Virgin, a happy devotee of her beloved goddess Vesta in her home nation of Parcae. But when her faith in Vesta is shaken, Olivia illegally experiments with her own divine power, making a discovery that could save her country from war - if she's brave enough to share it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absorbing story with a heroine you'll root for!

  • By Amazon Customer on 08-18-17

Girl Power!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-17

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ Goddess was so much more than I was expecting. It was a delightful story set in Ancient Rome. Goddess was filled with political and religious intrigue, accompanied by an empowering message of feminine strength.

Calista Hunter’s stellar writing set the ancient scene beautifully, while still throwing in modern flair via the dialogue. Goddess‘s message is especially appropriate for teens 14+ and would serve as a great entry point into Ancient Roman mythology for young readers. The characters were engaging and distinct. I wasn’t drawn to one singular character, but the group of characters and the way they rounded each other out was most appealing.

The religious aspect of the story was heartbreaking. The main character, Olivia, experiences a “crisis of faith” after learning that the goddess she has devoted her life to serving was an invention of the patriarchy. Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth, was invented by men to keep women devoted to “womanly duties”. Many people have been in Olivia’s shoes, having had their fath shaken or shattered, which is why I think her story resonates so strongly.

Even if Vesta was fictionalized, the remaining gods were very real, which brought an element of fantasy to Goddess. It was easy to slip into the plot through the eyes of Callista Hunter’s well-defined characters. There was an excellent amount of action throughout Goddess, with acutely shocking plot twists peppered in along the way.

Hunter showed excellent skill by elongating the overarching plot to encompass several “mini-adventures” and then weaving everything back into the primary plot. Every time it fell like the story was tapering off nicely, Hunter found a way to revive it for another go. This type of storytelling makes me wish that Goddess was being extended into a series. Callista Hunter has something really neat here and I’m not sure I’m ready to see it end in a stand-alone novel.

Narration review: Tami Leah Lacy made this listening experience even more enjoyable. Her voice itself was extremely pleasant to hear. She appropriately varied her vocalizations to match each character’s personality and status, which added another dimension to the characters. A dimension which the physical book would not have been able to provide. There were minor quality issues throughout, which became more noticeable as the audiobook went on. The sound level frequently faded in and out, often mid-sentence. Tami Leah Lacy seems to be an extremely talented performer, but I would hire a sound engineer next time. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Callista Hunter, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Callista!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • LMAO from A to Z: Vocab Series, Book 2

  • By: Amanda Terman
  • Narrated by: Amanda Terman
  • Length: 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 11

In this sequel to the best-selling vocabulary study guide LOL from A to Z, you'll find simple definitions and memorable examples of 26 advanced vocabulary words ranging from "aberrant" to "zephyr." Whether you're a college student who needs to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or a professional who enjoys reading the newspaper on the daily commuter train, this book will teach you the words you need to know!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unconventional learning made easy 😅

  • By mandymay on 05-19-17

A Fun Mental Workout!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-17

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ Listening to The Vocab Book Series is a quick burst of mental nourishment. It leaves me with a feeling of just having done something good for myself, along the lines of taking vitamins, drinking lots of water, or physical exercise. Listening to LMAO from A to Z is akin to an intellectual workout, only a lot more fun!

If this were a workout, Amanda Terman would be an excellent personal trainer. Just like in LOL from A to Z, she makes the learning routine fun and memorable. The examples she provides aren't anything I'm soon to forget! True to its name, LMAO from A to Z had me in stitches of laughter by the second vocabulary word (bromide). It takes a certain type of creativity and quirk to invent such colorful vignettes for each vocabulary word. I would love to know Terman's inspiration behind them.

As much as I enjoyed my initial experience with LOL from A to Z, my time listening to LMAO from A to Z felt more fruitful. The recent addition of an accompanying PDF vocabulary list on the Audible download page increased my overall enjoyment and retention. Listening to LMAO from A to Z isn't a one-time deal. Repetition is required in order to cement the newly acquired material into long-term memory (which is the goal). Being able to review the PDF vocabulary list goes a long way toward helping the listener to achieve this goal.

The Vocab Book Series is the best vocabulary learning tool I've come across. Whether you're training for a standardized test or just wanting to impress people, Terman has your back.

Narration review: Another thing that gave LMAO from A to Z a slight edge over LOL from A to Z was the narration. Terman narrates both titles, but experience has improved her style. The narration seemed more effortless this time around, which aided the humorous effect. Her tone, enunciation and articulation still clearly said "Listen up!", while her comedic timing livened the learning experience. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author/narrator, Amanda Terman, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Amanda!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • LOL from A to Z

  • The Vocab Book, Series 1
  • By: Amanda Terman
  • Narrated by: Amanda Terman
  • Length: 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

If you're the type of person who likes memorizing dry dictionary definitions, find a different book! But if you want to laugh while you learn new words, LOL from A to Z will show you how. Featuring entertaining examples you'll easily remember, the first installment of The Vocab Book series presents simple definitions of 26 advanced vocabulary words ranging from "abasement" to "zeal" with a little "morass" in between.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • vocabulary made easy..

  • By mandymay on 04-19-17

Entertaining from A to Z

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-01-17

4★ Audiobook⎮ Are you the kind of person who has a “word of the day” calendar? If so, I can almost guarantee that you will love LOL from A to Z. Even though I don’t have a “word of the day” calendar, I still love learning. I spend hours upon hours watching Ted Talks and listening to lectures from The Great Courses. And I’m just “nerdy” enough for LOL from A to Z to be a perfect fit for me.

I can’t help but think “Where was Amanda Terman with LOL from A to Z when I was taking the GRE a few years ago?”. This 38 minute audiobook could have saved me from boring nights studying dry vocabulary lists. Terman clearly knows her stuff. Having a psychology degree and experience with professional exam preparation, she employs the most effective methods of studying and memorization.

LOL from A to Z isn’t a cut and dry vocabulary list. Terman uses humorous examples, repetition and recall to cement definitions and usages in the mind of the listener. Most impressively, she offers to study tips at the beginning and end of the book. Learning vocabulary isn’t just about knowing a word and its meaning, but also becoming comfortable using it.

There were some words I was already familiar with, such as verdent (green), ribauld (vulgar), zeal (enthusiasm), and sanguine (happy). But out of the list of 26 vocabulary words, the ones that stick out most in my mind are the new acquisitions. I can’t deny the effectiveness of Terman’s use of humor. Her seemingly ridiculous examples will certainly be hard to shake and I’m guessing that’s by design.

However, LOL from A to Z highlights a minor flaw in audiobook listening. We are presented with a word, a definition, and an example, but no spelling. When it comes to pronunciation, audiobook listeners have a leg up on traditional readers. But traditional readers have the advantage when it comes to written spellings. While I don’t have a solution for the traditional reading format, I can offer this suggestion for upcoming installments of The Vocab Book Series (of which I hope there are many): Having a vocabulary word audibly spelled out would help to further cement the vocabulary item into the mind of the listener and could increase the comfort level of someone wishing to use it in written form.

Narration review: Amanda Terman herself narrated this audiobook. Her articulation and clear pronunciation of each vocabulary word greatly enhanced my understanding. Her comedic timing also added to the overall humor and wit, something I’m not sure could have been communicated as well in written form. In that sense, Terman’s narration was especially valuable to LOL from A to Z. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author/narrator, Amanda Terman, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Amanda!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Lucky Penny

  • Miranda Vaughn Mysteries, Book 3
  • By: Ellie Ashe
  • Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35

A year after her acquittal on fraud charges, former financial analyst Miranda Vaughn is finally getting her life back. Not only does she have a chance for romance with her sexy neighbor, FBI Agent Jake Barnes, but she's also got a new job...one that's taking her to a vacation paradise!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Even Better Than #2

  • By The Audiobookworm on 04-14-17

Even Better Than #2

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-14-17

4.5★ Audiobook⎮ Ellie Ashe has added another gem to the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series! She has also proven that a great writer can “take their act on the road”, so to speak. Each Miranda Vaughn story has a vastly different setting and premise for the mystery, but each one is as engrossing as the next.

Lucky Penny revolves around a casino and resort setting. It’s described in such vivid detail that the scenes naturally unfold in the listener’s imagination. This setting was even more conducive to the accidental shenanigans Miranda somehow always becomes involved in. Real life casinos and resorts are meant to foster feelings of escapism and excitement. Lucky Penny‘s literary versions do the same.

Each installment in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series has its own all-encompassing mystery that begins and ends with each novel. Unlike other mystery stories, listening isn’t only about solving the mystery before the protagonist. It’s about solving the mystery alongside the protagonist and experiencing her journey.

Miranda Vaughn is an innately endearing and relatable main character. Her personal story is the larger over-arching plot throughout the series. Her romantic life starts out as an inconvenient (to her) crush in Chasing the Dollar, evolves into a will-they-won’t-they scenario in Dropping the Dime, and reaches a satisfying culmination in Lucky Penny. My favorite thing about this romance is the naturally flirtatious manner in which it is written. Throughout the series, the romance remains a subplot, never outshining the individual characters or respective mystery plots. Ashe writes it in such a way that it enhances the development of her characters, instead of hindering it, and still satisfies the [seemingly obligatory] romance requirement for Cozy Mysteries.

There’s even the slightest teasing of a love triangle, which I cannot complain about either. Even if it had developed into a full-fledged love triangle, the excellent character development would have prevented it from becoming too obnoxious. Excellent writing can save stories from typical blunders like that. In a (sub)genre usually deficient in fully developed characters, Ellie Ashe is churning them out like a machine. Her writing style is highly enjoyable and will keep listeners invested in her series and its delightful characters.

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. In fact, it was the first title off my tongue when making audiobook recommendations in a doctors’ office last week. Ashe really has something great going here and I hope we see much more of Miranda Vaughn in the future.

Narration review: Teri Schnaubelt deserves a lot of the credit for making this series so enjoyable. Her voice adds to the coziness factor and gives voice to the many colorful characters. She was 100% the right selection to narrate the series. Everything she does is professional-grade, from voice distinction and emotional emphasis, to timing, articulation and pacing. This is an excellent series in any format, but Teri makes it so much better. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Ellie Ashe, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Ellie!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Collide

  • By: Michelle Madow
  • Narrated by: Caitlin Kelly
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 36

I should have died when I was shot at the Halloween dance. Instead I woke up - one week earlier, in a parallel universe where my mom's fatal car accident six months ago never happened

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Short entertainment

  • By Amazon Customer on 02-21-17

Couldn't stop listening!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-28-17

4.5★ Audiobook⎮ I started Collide late last night and spent all of today listening to it. I was surprised at how easy it was to follow the story, especially considering the plot revolves around alternate universe (AU) theory. This wasn’t my first AU story, but it was definitely the simplest to grasp. Collide blurs genre lines, blending science fiction with murder mystery and romance.

Despite the plot hinging on an AU theme, the mystery and romance elements shined through the strongest. Collide’s mystery plot impressed me the most. Despite practically being pulled from a real life news story, the resolution still shocked me. Just before the culminating point, I could’ve sworn my heart was going to beat out of my chest. Madow built enough suspense to execute that scene perfectly, without dragging it out too long.

I think Collide would be a great starting point for those interested in AU theory. It explains how alternate realities can be spun around a small decision (i.e. a coin toss), but have massive collateral effects. Madow presented this on a minor scale and in a simplistic manner which the reader is likely to understand. This isn’t a hard-core science fiction novel, after all. But there’s enough scifi present to whet your appetite before moving on to more complex works.

In true YA fashion, Collide boasts a love triangle. But hold on, before you write it off, I should say that Collide’s overall storyline benefited from the triangle. If ever a story necessitated (or justified) having a love triangle, it’s one with split realities. In Collide, the triangle just worked, you know? It had a very Gone with the Wind feel to it, in that it served the overall plot. Although, admittedly, I was rooting for the other guy to be chosen. But such is my luck…

I definitely recommend Collide to YA fans looking for a romantic thriller with science fiction-y underpinnings. At around 7.5 hours, it’s a quick, fun, and easy listen. Not to mention thought-provoking. It’s fast-paced, but easy-to-follow. The ending provides a rush of adrenaline comparable to a soap opera ‘whodunit’!

Narration review: This was my second audiobook narrated by Caitlin Kelly. Kelly is becoming my go-to YA narrator. She has the ability to voice young characters without coming across as annoying. Her stellar characterizations skills made listening to this audiobook a seamless and breezy experience. I have no doubt that Kelly’s narration aided my inability to stop listening to Collide. Caitlin Kelly has a number of YA titles under her belt and several of them have just been promoted to hire standing on my TBR list. ♣︎

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

  • By: Jennifer Kincheloe
  • Narrated by: Moira Quirk
  • Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 33

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels, but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderfully Researched and Delightfully Told

  • By The Audiobookworm on 01-06-17

Wonderfully Researched and Delightfully Told

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-06-17

4.75★ Audiobook⎮The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was such an unexpected surprise! It started out good, became better as it went along, delivered a punch, and ended with a sizzle. I don’t think a mystery novel has ever made me laugh this much. Marvelously cheeky and delightfully inappropriate, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc exceeded my expectations and was anything but predictable.

Firstly, Anna Blanc rates 10/10 on the memorable character scale (something I just made up). My feelings for her ran the gamut during this audiobook, frequently swinging from chapter to chapter. She would go from annoying to amusing in a matter of seconds, but I never tired of her antics. Anna was a truly multifaceted character and an avant garde female protagonist, especially considering the ridiculously prudish ways of the early 1900s.

Kincheloe, a research scientist, definitely did her homework regarding the historical setting. Certain historically contextual details were so outrageous and unfathomable, that I knew they had to be fact. It took me a little while to acclimate to the uses of some specific terms and phrases, especially one like “making love”, which has come to mean something very different today. From what I could discern, it used to mean merely whispering “sweet nothings”. Oh, how times have changed.

Jennifer Kincheloe also won me over with her descriptive imagery. In example, saying a slap stung “like sandpaper on a sunburn”. Her writing easily painted pictures in my mind, though not always positive ones. At times, I sheepishly wished her descriptions hadn’t been quite so vivid, particularly the graphic postmortem descriptions. However, I cannot deny the effectiveness of their impact on the story. Kincheloe proved that writing does not have to be complex or superfluous to be beautiful. There was something mesmerizing about the directness of her prose. It made the story incredibly easy-to-follow and enjoy.

I’ve dubbed Kincheloe “Queen of the fake-out” for her ability to pull a bait-and-switch. I thought I knew where this mystery was going and I was fine with it. There was a trail of breadcrumbs leading in one direction, so followed it. It was a masterfully built mystery, so I had resigned myself to being okay with having figured it out beforehand. And then… AND THEN… Kincheloe pulled the literary football away at the last second as if I was Charlie Brown and she was Lucy. It was such an eloquent fake out that I can’t even be mad. In fact, I’m elated that Kincheloe was able to pull one over on me. I never saw it coming.

The historical setting of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was reminiscent of The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, which happens to be one of my favorites. The mystery element was similar to a Sherlock Holmes story, which I suspect was purposeful since Holmes is referenced multiple times in this novel. If you’re eager and willing to be blindsided by a mystery with an amusingly annoying protagonist, a love triangle that’s actually useful to the plot, and cheeky, grin-inducing writing, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is for you.

Narration review: This was my first experience listening to Moira Quirk, but I hope it won’t be the last. She portrayed the naïve frivolity and rueful determination of Anna Blanc with aplomb. Anna was an increasingly dynamic character who constantly evolved throughout the novel. Quirk’s narration captured the growth of Anna’s character, but held tight to her innocence. Narrating this title gave Moira Quirk the opportunity to display her repertoire of accents. She provided the best vocal distinction for characters with marked accents. For others, especially unaccented male characters, a bit more characterization wouldn’t have hurt. But overall, she gave a lovely performance. I look forward to hearing more from her and Kincheloe soon. Here’s hoping for a sequel! ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Jennifer Kincheloe, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Jennifer!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful