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Maggie Tuliver

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The Beauty of Perhaps audiobook cover art

A bit of a Scottish flavor

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

Reviewed: 06-26-17

The Beauty of Perhaps, by Eryn Scott, is a book about the journey of a woman trying to find herself and building relationships through the world. It’s my first book by this author and though I found the story predicable, it’s by no means lacking in fun and sincerity and a bit of a Scottish flavor. I think that’s what got me and made me really enjoy this book. I liked Molly (the main character) enough, but it’s the beautiful descriptions of the Scottish countryside, the picture of Lilliebrae and its inhabitants, all the adventures she finds there, what brings this story to life and make listening to it a unique experience. Elizabeth Klett has a great range of voices for male and female characters, making all characters very easily identifiable and real in their own way, and her Scottish brogue was simply a relish to listen to. She was outstanding with the delivery of the story, improving the listener experience.

I was given a copy of the audio book in exchange of an honest review and I would recommend it to everyone, but specially fans of a good Scottish story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Shadow Palace audiobook cover art

Masterful series

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

Reviewed: 02-19-17

The Shadow Palace, by Jane Steen, is the third book of The House of Closed Doors series, and in it we get a beautiful resolution to Nell and her family’s story. As always, Jane Steen delivers a great book, with colorful and interesting characters that seamlessly grew and came alive throughout the series.
Nell has learned a lot during her last years and hard experiences, and we can see she matured. Some of her main traits – like her stubbornness – continue, of course, and that lead us to a more mysterious plot than the ones before, in my opinion. She got herself in situations we wouldn’t expect, but it worked really well with the main plot. That is to say, this book had more twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and it only made the mystery more interesting. It also made sense for a character that looked for her autonomy since her early teens to act more, to do more, and really show her independency. Nell is a great female character, I feel I can relate to her, and she didn’t disappoint me, struggling, looking for her dreams and keeping her principles. We get to see a little more of Martin in this book, and the very human way he deals with the death of an unwanted wife. Again, Jane Steen portraits relatable and truthful characters, and the way the problems and other relationships affect them are very real. (Same with Tess and how she deals with her family).
The book is beautifully detailed in terms of a historical description, and we get to feel the beginning of the great department stores and the reconstruction of Chicago, and this is curious in its own right. I marveled with how easy Jane Steen brings us to different places in this period, which only shows how good a storyteller she is. I was pleasantly surprised with her first book, because I expected something different from the description, but now, knowing her work, I am a complete fan.
I was given a copy of the audio book in exchange of an honest review and I would recommend it to everyone. The narration is, as always, excellent and enriching of the experience, which makes the whole series a great listening.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Eternal Deception audiobook cover art

Great story with great characters

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

Reviewed: 09-30-16

Eternal Deception, by Jane Steen, is the second book of The House of Closed Doors series. In this book, we continue with Nell’s journey in search of independence and a place for herself and her family in the world. By the end of the first book, she was a very young unwedded mother with a friend heading for the Kansas frontier to work as a seamstress for a Seminary.
Nell is a great character; she is stubborn, patient and determined to follow her dreams. And she is still learning and growing, making mistakes along the way and falling into traps. The book is very detailed in terms of a historical description of the place and the period, showing the beauty, difficulties and hardships of the frontier for all its inhabitants. Nell is isolated in the Eternal Life Seminary, with a tiny growing town an hour away, and her friend Catherine Lombardi and her family on a mission a day away. The hardness of circumstances is also reflected in the people who surround Nell, depicting a money- and status-driven society and revealing to Nell the difficulties of starting again, of being accepted in the identity she has chosen and is creating for herself, and of leaving behind the mistakes she committed (and this is not just a problem of that period). Her long awaited independence is constantly threatened not only because she must conform – to a certain extent – to society, but also because she is now responsible for Tess and Sarah, and that responsibility means that her choices will affect them both (including the consequences of her past choices). It is quite interesting to follow Nell’s struggle for balancing happiness and security for all of her chosen family, and how she matures along the way.
The book brings a great period reconstruction, showing the rapid development of border towns while (from afar) we heard about the Chicago reconstruction after the great fire, but at the same time it brings a relatable and compelling story of personal growth. Jane Steen is an excellent storyteller, her prose is very elegant, her characters are colorful and entertaining and I can’t wait to see what comes next for them all.

I was given a copy of the audio book in exchange of an honest review and I would recommend it to everyone, but particularly to fans of historical novels. The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience. (And since I had previously bought the ebook, so anxious I was to keep reading about Nell, I can tell).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The House of Closed Doors audiobook cover art

A pleasing surprise!

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

Reviewed: 09-12-16

The book The House of Closed Doors, by Jane Steen, tells the story of Nell Lillington and her quest for independence. Nell is only 17 years old and lives with her mother and stepfather in a small town near Chicago circa 1870. Nelly’s experience taught her the lack of autonomy a married woman suffers and her skill with the needle gives her the idea of a plan of escape: staying single and independent – which an unexpected pregnancy threatens. This is the outset of a deeply interesting story of personal growth and of the pursuit of one’s own female identity, particularly at a time when women hardly had any space for themselves. Nell’s opposition to marriage is a choice, a desire to be able to choose her own ways and not to be in bondage, and this makes her very relatable. But, at the same time, she is very young, innocent and protected from the world, so she will make mistakes, and she will discover that marriage is not the only kind of bondage she has to face in her search for independence. It is the story of a very naïve person starting to build her character, choosing links that are important to her and trying to get rid of those that are imposed, with all the difficulties the time and the environment imposed on her.
When I first read the summary of The House of Closed Doors, some time back, I got the very wrong idea that story would be a sort of gothic tale about the terrors visited on a pregnant girl took away in a hospice and her struggle to survive. Nothing like that. When I saw that Nell's story would be told in a trilogy I revised my initial idea (learning how the story would somehow progress) and decided to listen to the book as a historical fiction with some mystery, which is much closer to the truth. Even the mystery, in my opinion, takes second place in relation to Nell’s personal story and the historical reconstruction of the time, which is quite nice. In the end, I was very pleased to listen this book and I am anxious to know how it will continue, since the characters’ stories are indeed captivating.

I was given a copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review and I would recommend it to everyone who likes historical fiction. Jane Steen’s prose is really good and the narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

An Inconvenient Companion audiobook cover art

The end of a good trilogy

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

Reviewed: 06-08-16

This is the final installment of the Inconvenient Trilogy by Ms. Harrison and it satisfyingly ends the story she was building since the first book. Some secondary storylines and characters from the previous books took front stage in this one, and we are able to read about Martha and Charles as well as about Laura and Alfred, whose relationships already drew the readers’ interest in the trilogy.
There is, however, a difference in this book that makes me doubt how exactly to rate it. If the first book had realistic outcomes mixed with fiendish twists and turns typical of a good romance, and the second book had a more lively and funny tone to it with underlying darkness beneath, this third book has a dose of realism and a dose of darkness that I can’t decide if it’s cliché or just real, but made me reel. I will not enter into details of this or I would spoil the story, but I have to say it had an unexpected twist that I didn’t see coming because I felt it diverges from the lighthearted genre of the trilogy.
The characters, as always, are rich and interesting, most of the plot is composed of misunderstandings between them or their inability to see or accept the other as he or she is, and with a good writing it turned out good and entertaining. As an end of a trilogy, I would certainly read it and recommend it after the first two books.

I was given a copy of the audiobook to review and I would recommend this trilogy to everyone who enjoys regency novels. The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, and I would like to thank Elizabeth Klett for narrating this trilogy and making it even more enjoyable.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

An Inconvenient Wife audiobook cover art

Strangely light-hearted

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

Reviewed: 05-17-16

Any additional comments?

An Inconvenient Wife is the second book of the Inconvenient Trilogy, by Audrey Harrison, but is completely enjoyable if you didn’t read the first one, although most of the characters of the first book came back for the second one, giving continuity and fluidity to the story.
This book has a more somber or sinister setting involving the kidnapping of innocent girls and their sale for the highest bidder on the very beginning, but this is quickly resolved giving the story a kind of surreal note. This sets the tone for the humorous note, and I believe this is the strong part of the story. It reads like a romp, with a good banter between the main characters and a light-heartedness depiction of various situations – bad situations are usually quickly set aside. If you let yourself get caught by the comical – almost farcical – element of the storytelling, this book is amusing.
The main characters are Charlotte Webster, a strong minded and very young schoolroom girl, and Lord Stephen Halkyn, who we saw in the first book as a possible suitor to Elizabeth’s hand and who didn’t believe in love (and who believes is ancient at the age of twenty-four). There are some subplots, some twists and turns, and some very good secondary characters (as Walter, the butler), but the main part of the book is the building relationship between these two very different but very compatible characters. Although in general lines they seemed cliché regency characters, there is enough authenticity in them so they stand in their own right. I believe some of the subplots are going to be resumed in the next book of the trilogy, and now I am anxious to know what will happen to all these characters construed by Ms Harrison. The fiendish elements of the plot keep this story to be a standard regency book, in my opinion, but I think it is authentic enough and interesting enough to appeal to most fans of a good regency story.

I was given a copy of the audiobook to review and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys regency novels. The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, and I believe it only adds to the story. I would like to thank Elizabeth Klett for her performance, because I am not sure I would have read this book otherwise and I am glad I did.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Nocturne for a Widow audiobook cover art

A comic gothic mystery

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

Reviewed: 03-28-16

Any additional comments?

"Nocturne for a Widow" is a gothic romance by Amanda DeWees following the footsteps of her Curse series. In this book, Sybil Ingram leaves the Victorian stages in London to marry an American admirer and begin a new life in New Your City. Of course, all her plans go sour and she finds herself in a haunted house disputing its ownership with her stepson, besides dealing with colorful neighbors and a possible ghost. The main female character had actually appeared briefly in “With this Curse” as Clara’s actress employer, and it was a nice nod to her previous books. The atmosphere of this book, however, is a bit lighter and funnier – but without stepping out of the gothic genre, what is quite an accomplishment. The main characters, Sybil and Roderick, are mainly responsible for that because they are strong and colorful and their relationship has a comedic flavor that blends with the mystery inherent in the story with dexterity.
I believe DeWees is really good at creating interesting characters and has a superior writing, and her stories are quite stimulating, but without giving up the details of the plot, I found the ending lacking somehow, as the conflicts and mysteries are easily resolved. Maybe it’s because this book is the beginning of a series, some of the conflicts are going to be dragged to the next one. It’s an amusing tale nevertheless, and I look forward to the next one.
I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys romance and the gothic genre. The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, greatly improving the listener experience. Elizabeth Klett has a way of bringing the characters to life, and being a first person narrative, she excelled as Sybil Ingram.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

An Inconvenient Ward audiobook cover art

A good story and even better listening experience

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

Reviewed: 02-19-16

Any additional comments?

This is a well-told and believable regency story. Elizabeth is a good female character who is engaging and authentic at the same time. Michael can be a little annoying at times but also pretty real. The plot has some twists and a fiendish antagonist but is fast paced and mostly light and funny. The fact that Elizabeth stands out from society (mainly by not wanting to conform to her designated role in society but by doing something she really likes and is good at) is, uncharacteristically for light regency books, met with a strong rejection by society, so this is not a book about how the female character wins everybody with her odd ways and magically becomes the centre of a doting group who initially rejected her. It’s a believable story specifically because all the strictures and limitations of the regency period are in place and Elizabeth and Michael have to find their way and what they want (he is also a bit of an outsider from society) despite these strictures. Even so, it’s still an easy and light read with some genuine and funny characters, leaving a good felling about it.

I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys regency novels. The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, greatly improving the listener experience. Elizabeth Klett has a way to bring the regency period to life in her narrations, leaving the listener even more pleased with a book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Cursed Once More audiobook cover art

The sequel surpasses the first book

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

Reviewed: 11-22-15

Any additional comments?

This is a gothic romance from Amanda DeWees. It’s the second of her books that I read but I spent some time reading some classic gothic romance and I have to say I like her style. There are some gothic elements but it’s not completely out and out gothic with twists that are there just to create sensation, especially in this one. She deals more with superstitions and how people deal with their prejudices rather than monsters or supernatural creatures.
I enjoyed this book more than the first one of the series. It seems the story just grew bigger and all the aspects of the atmosphere and the characters that appeared in the first book just came more alive in this one. The main characters, Clara and Atticus, are good characters and together they are a great couple. The book picks up almost exactly from where the last one left and we could go one with the rather recently married couple in a voyage through a gothic England and some Eastern European folklore that create a good atmosphere for the mystery and the romance (and the romance was even better than in the beginning, since there was more understanding between the characters). We have some twists and turns for the mystery that are entertainment enough to make this a good and light book.

I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would really recommend it to fans of this style (even if you are not completely a fan of the gothic style, this one is a light one so if you like mystery and romance, I would still recommend it).
The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience. It’s a first person narration, and Elizabeth Klett as Clara is a perfect match.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Farishta audiobook cover art

An illuminating account of life in Afghanistan

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

Reviewed: 08-22-15

If you could sum up Farishta in three words, what would they be?

Illuminating, interesting, moving

What other book might you compare Farishta to and why?

I would compare Farishta to memoirs of war because it reads like a memoir sometimes, but also with books with good accounts of a real, reasonable and human female characters.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favourite scene was when Angela has the idea for the solar ovens and knows how life improving this simple idea can be.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's particularly moving the time she visits a female prison to learn if the female inmates are being mistreated. They are there for "marital crimes" and although there is not immediate mistreatment of them, they are being severely wronged by a male-dominated system and are completed powerless and silenced.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this book, not knowing exactly what kind of story it would tell. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about a fictitious Angela Morgan, a forty-seven year old American diplomat whose personal life is basically inexistent and her experiences in a PTR camp (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Afghanistan in the year 2005. In this year, the war was being fought most to the south, in Iraq, so she does not experience a lot of war, but it’s there, in the background, with all its hazards, and sometimes it just pops up. The main character is a levelheaded female struggling with some personal issues but she is a reasonable, good humored and likeable person, and it’s interesting to see how she goes on in her year in Afghanistan, especially with trying to overcome her fears and reaching for other people. The most interesting part, for me, was the setting, the cultural, historical and geographical descriptions of life in Afghanistan, and the innumerous obstacles – political, economical and cultural – for the reconstruction of a country devastated by so many wars, internal and external. Since the author is a American diplomat who was posted in northern Afghanistan for a year, her account of life there, in the camp and in the streets or places she frequented, is really vivid and it conveyed the difficulties and perplexities this place presents to its own people and to foreign forces. I particularly liked how she was capable to see the plight of women and children in the day-to-day life (who are basically non-existent entities to military or reconstruction teams) and tried to help in a simple but fruitful way (I read later that this is part of the author real experience there and I was glad she is still working to improve conditions of the Afghan people with a great insight). The narrative is also fast and fluid and helps to get you in the setting of the novel.

I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would recommend it to everyone, since it was an agreeable surprise to me (I don’t think I would have known of this book otherwise, and now I am happy I had the chance). The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful