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  • The Governess Game

  • Girl Meets Duke Series, Book 2
  • By: Tessa Dare
  • Narrated by: Mary Jane Wells
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 456
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 421
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 421

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried - and failed - to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart....without risking her own. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pure, Sheer, Absolute Delight

  • By Anne on 08-29-18

Witty Little Romance Novel Perfection

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

Reviewed: 08-29-18

When Tessa Dare announces a new novel, I preorder it. Every time. The day of the book’s release, I drop everything I’m doing (including everything else I’m reading) to gorge myself on her regency romance goodness. In fact, when it comes to Ms. Dare’s novels, I automatically buy the print and audio version of each new release. It’s always money well spent. Her stories are among those I listen to and carry around in my purse to read when I need a shot of hope, humor, and strength.

And if I’m particularly needing a dose of calm, I pop on my headphones and let Mary Jane Wells read me into a blissful state of tranquility. She’s the perfect narrator to voice Tessa Dare’s plucky, sweet, intelligent characters. I want to drizzle her voice over ice cream and shamelessly eat it after avoiding carbs for a month. It feels that decadent.

Both novels in the Girl Meets Duke series are my favorites. I love them so. Please don’t make me choose one over the other. Instead, you should definitely read them both and decide for yourself. Be warned, though. If you have a weakness for men whose external gruffness is proportionate to the hugeness of their big, stupid hearts, proceed with caution. You are in danger of becoming addicted to Tessa Dare’s heroes. What about her heroines? Well, they’re amazing. They remind me of all the best parts of all my closest female friends. Courageous, smart, vulnerable, caring, resourceful, and tough. And the secondary characters? They’re things of genius. In The Duchess Deal, Kahn the sarcastic butler, Emma’s group of misfit friends, and Britches the devil cat will all steal your heart. In The Governess Game, Chase’s orphaned charges (and wannabe pirates), Rosalind and Daisy, nearly steal the entire show. I wanted to adopt them both, especially Daisy, who concocts ghastly deaths each morning for her precious baby doll, Millicent, just so Chase will have to hold her hand at the daily funerals as he eulogizes her.

Really. If you haven’t read these two stories yet, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. Go! Read them already. You won’t be sorry.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • The Ask and the Answer

  • Chaos Walking, Book 2
  • By: Patrick Ness
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe, Nick Podehl
  • Length: 12 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 667
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 585
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 580

Reaching the end of their flight in The Knife of Never Letting Go, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • “We are the choices we make.”

  • By Cristy G on 01-22-12

Five Well-Deserved Stars

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

Reviewed: 04-04-16

I only have a few moments to write this, but I want to say how important this book is. Ness sensitively tackles the issues of racism, colonialism, sexism, war, and the essence of humanity. The topics are huge, but the author has a gift for communicating his ideas and drawing out empathy from his readers. We should be teaching this series in literature classes. That's all. Every middle grade/high school student in America (but why stop there, really?) needs to read this trilogy. I can't wait to get my hands on Monster of Men.

  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

  • A Novel
  • By: Robin Sloan
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9,478
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,673
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,653

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A light, fun, easy listen

  • By january on 11-04-12

Enjoyable Book About the Importance of Books

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

Reviewed: 07-07-15

Actual score 3.5. I couldn't help but be charmed by the character of Mr. Penumbra and his tall, tall bookstore, but the technology angle wasn't my favorite. Although, I did appreciate the idea that the "old" and the "new" should co-exist and do, ultimately, complement each other.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • And Then There Were None

  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Dan Stevens
  • Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,852
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,156
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,130

Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U.N. Owen". At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead. Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one...one by one they begin to die. Who among them is the killer? And will any of them survive?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dan Stevens is genius

  • By Markie Ross on 09-17-15

Well Done, Agatha.

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

Reviewed: 06-02-15

I enjoyed this story. The characters and the alleged crimes for which they were being murdered kept me interested, while the creepy children's rhyme kept me wondering who was next and in what way he would meet the manner of death foretold in it.

I wasn't crazy about the ending, because I'm not a fan of murderers revealing themselves and their methods in self-congratulatory monologues. This, coupled with the lack of any significant trail of clues, was enough to lower the story's score from a 5 to 4. Getting a fair shake at puzzling out the crime is half of the fun in reading a murder mystery. Still, I was entertained enough to keep listening through two projects at home and several car rides into town. I was genuinely annoyed when my listening was interrupted by children, husband, and errands. The mark of a solid story.

The narrator did a splendid job with most of the characters' voices, but with a few of them, primarily with Justice Wargrave, he used a melodramatic voice that had me impatiently sighing and rolling my eyes. This, of course, is a matter of personal taste. I'm sure many other readers found no fault with his portrayal of these characters whatsoever.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Long Way Home

  • Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 10
  • By: Louise Penny
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,407
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,119
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,095

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he'd only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. "There is a balm in Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole." While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache's help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There’s power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Louise, what were you thinking?

  • By Sharon on 09-08-14

I Have a Soft Spot for Gamache and Three Pines

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

Reviewed: 05-26-15

Any additional comments?

Let me start by saying that I read different books for different reasons, and my reviews reflect that. Some books, like Louise Penny's Three Pines series, are special to me, specifically, because I cannot wait to return to the magical setting and spend time in the presence of certain characters. I love them the way I do my own home and the people closest to me, unconditionally. For whatever reason, some people enter our lives and their particular bundle of personality traits, quirks, and tendencies are so perfectly them, so endearing, we cannot help but adore them...flaws and all. If we're lucky, our lives are filled with such people. They support us, challenge us, comfort and infuriate us. They help us figure out who we are and where we're going on this journey we call life. They infuse our lives with their own brand of wisdom, and we are better for it.

Some books enter our lives in the same way. This is how I feel about Three Pines, about Inspector Gamache, with whom I'm half in love, Reine-Marie, Clara, foul-mouthed, prickly Ruth, Gabri, Jean-Guy, and all the residents of Three Pines. I love them. Unconditionally. They make me laugh, think deeply about important themes, roll my eyes at human weakness, and glory in human courage and strength. I know you may not feel the same way, and that's ok with me. I will return to each of these books the way I return to my favorite reading chair after a week of too much talking and teaching and cleaning and running kids from place to place. With a sigh and an open heart. Ready to learn the lessons they're trying to teach. Losing myself in their stories. In the most basic way, the character of Gamache does for me what my closest friends and family members do. He makes me want to be the best person I can be.

Were there things about this book I would've changed? Absolutely, but it wasn't my story to tell. It was Louise Penny's. Primarily, I didn't like the resolution to the mystery. For me, it was painful to finally like a certain character, one of the few in these books for whom I've had almost no feelings, and suddenly lose him. I would've preferred a happier ending. I always do prefer my endings to be happy. However, life isn't always like that and neither is fiction. Whether Penny wrote her ending the way she did for dramatic affect or to teach something about the importance of appreciating what you have when you have it...it was the way she chose to tell it, and I accept it.

If you enjoy Penny's books, you're already used to accepting things as they're presented to you without asking too many questions. I mean, you have to completely suspend belief to accept that one small, idyllic village, which draws artists, poets, and lost souls could possibly be home to so many murderers. I, and many others, willingly sacrifice our logical faculties (where this one fact is concerned) at the entrance to Three Pines. If I have to believe the murderer-to-well-adjusted-citizen ratio is a little high there, so be it. It's well worth it for the sake of the story. If you can do this, you are rewarded with wisdom about human nature that's hard to find in your average police procedural or village murder mystery. What you'll find is the type of insight you get when reading literary fiction. You'll learn a lot about what it means to be human in these stories, what it means to love, and what happens when we don't address such unhealthy feelings as jealousy and greed.

Because of these insights, I don't mind the philosophizing and long discussions of art, music, and poetry. They're why I'm reading the books in the first place, but I'm aware that this won't be for everyone, and there is a lot more of that type of discussion in this book than in many of the others.

Finally, I would like to point out that I'm always torn between reading these books in print or audio format. I often find myself wanting to stop to record beautifully written passages or uniquely worded wisdom. This is hard to do when listening to the audiobook. However, I highly recommend buying the audio versions to experience Ralph Cosham's narration. He IS Gamache. I've read them all this way, and now I plan to acquire them in print form to read and record my favorite passages.

Thank you, Louise Penny, for creating a place for me to visit and explore my humanity more deeply. Your books are among my very favorites.

  • The Prestige

  • By: Christopher Priest
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,974
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,344
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,348

In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose each other. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magician's craft can command. Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of a Kind.

  • By Andrew on 06-22-07

Breaking Up with the Book to Date the Movie

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

Reviewed: 05-13-15

Any additional comments?

Dear Prestige,

Let's break up. I tried. Really, I did, but after suffering through your dragging plot, rambling narrative inner monologues, lack-luster illusions, and unsympathetic characters, I've made a startling revelation. I'm in love with your brother, the movie version of you. No one is as surprised as I am. You seemed to be my type. Just look at your vintage cover with its intriguing, technical sketches and your promise of Victorian prestidigitation. I confess to feeling confused, underwhelmed, and disappointed. On paper, this should've worked.

I have to admit, though, you weren't all bad. You started well. I particularly enjoyed Borden's comparison of his diary to his magic act with a set-up, performance, and prestige. Somewhere after that, however, you lost me with your delivery. You began to meander. I found myself rolling my eyes and yawning my way through both Angier and Borden's accounts. How were their thoughts made simultaneously tedious AND melodramatic? It baffles, really. That said, I must admit you ended fairly well. Perhaps if you'd brought more of that creepy, gothic atmosphere and edge-of-my-seat pacing to the rest of the novel, we wouldn't be having this discussion. As it is, I'm left unsatisfied, wondering why I was left without a sufficient climax. In short, I missed the "Ta-da!" moment promised in most magic acts. Sigh.

I don't usually go in for the Hollywood types, but the movie version of you is more appealing, with its tight, exciting plot, obvious character motivations, and dramatic reveal of the prestige. I'm defenseless to his charms. He mesmerized me, something I was hoping you would do.

Best wishes,
Amy

PS - All smart-assery aside, I would be willing to give Christopher Priest another shot. Translating ideas to paper is difficult and requires a certain amount of bravery on the part of a writer. I admire that, and I saw enough promise here to warrant giving him a second chance. He seems to have a lot of admirers, and I wonder if this book, perhaps, was just a wrong fit for me.

PPS - I happened to experience the audio version of this book and want to give Simon Vance his due. He did a superb job with the many different characters' voices.