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Jessica

Austin, TX, United States
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Murder in an Irish Village audiobook cover art

Solid mystery, just too many characters

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

Reviewed: 03-16-19

What worked: Siobhán is a girl after my own heart. When she’s not baking brown bread (whatever that is) or keeping her five siblings in line, she’s visiting the auto shop and pining over a pink scooter. I can totally relate! She’s also a lioness when it comes to protecting her brood. It’ll be interesting to see what pans out in the future. Will she fulfill her dreams of going off to college and living the big city life? Or will she fall in love with the hot detective and stay put in Kilbane? There’s also the hint of a love triangle forming with an entrepreneurial Yank. I’m a sucker for these dangling carrots so I’m off to the bookstore to get my next fix!

What irked me: SO MANY CHARACTERS! This is a constant struggle with cozy mysteries. Some books are easier to follow than others, but this one revolves around a family of six—plus a large cast of townies. Also, what in tarnations is brown bread? It can’t be just boring ol’ wheat bread, right? I need lots of savory details!

Overall: Another solid whodunit with a plot-twist ending I didn’t see coming! It’s hard to pull the Irish wool over my eyes, but this author managed to divert my suspicions with some clever red herrings. This is a fun little Irish getaway filled with lovable characters, small town charm, dangerous encounters and a dash of romance!

Buried in a Bog audiobook cover art

Where's the mystery?

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

Reviewed: 03-16-19

I think this book need to be re-categorized because it's hardly a cozy mystery. Halfway through it, I kept waiting for more developments with the cold case murder, but nope! Toward the very end, the author must've realized that she forgot about the investigation, so she made a half-hearted attempt to shape it into some sort of a whodunit. Her last-ditch effort to pull it all together resulted into a headache-inducing convoluted mess.

Aside from that little oversight, I did enjoy experiencing the beauty and mystery of Ireland through Maura's eyes. I felt like I was riding in the passenger seat of her old jalopy as she motored along narrow country roads amidst the sprawling cow pastures and spooky old farm houses. I especially enjoyed the creepy scene when Maureen had a run-in with her stalker in an old Celtic cemetery. As for Maura, she's a little odd. Back in Boston, her sole purpose in life was to take care of her ailing grandmother. I mean, how can a 20-something have no friends, no family members and zero interest in owning a cell phone? How can that be? She didn't make a lot of sense to me, and to be honest, I didn't' really like her all that much. I get the sense that the author is just a tad out of touch with the younger generation because Maura seemed more like a tired middle-aged woman than a fresh-faced bonnie lass. This just goes to show that authors need to write what they know or--at the very least--do some research!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Hooked on Ewe audiobook cover art

Too many characters!

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

Reviewed: 03-16-19

You know, it's funny that I can easily follow these mysteries when I read the paperbacks, but it's an entirely different experience via audio. I don't know if this particular book had just WAY more characters than the previous installment, but boy was this hard to follow! I just couldn't keep up with the dozens of talking heads. By the time Eden closed in on the case, more unfamiliar names kept popping up. While walking dogs around the shelter, I kept saying out loud, "Wait! Who's Andrea? Who's Sean? Who's Harry again?" Toward the end, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to be surprised by the big reveal.Needless to say, this was a frustrating read, but I soldiered through, despite the many times i had to hit the rewind button to catch myself up to speed. So if you love standard cozy mysteries with dozens of characters and lots of dialogue, this book is for you. As for me, I think it's time to step away from the cozies for a bit and find a book that won't make me crazy!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel audiobook cover art

boring, terrible bodice-ripping drivel

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

Reviewed: 10-04-18

had to DNF 2.5 hours into it. no plot, just hours of boring love scenes.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

My Best Friend's Exorcism audiobook cover art

A Devil of a Good Read!

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

Reviewed: 01-25-18

If you, like me, are obsessed with the 80s nostalgic goodness/monster movie madness that is Stranger Things, this book is for you! It’s the perfect blend of humor, old school jams and gloriously cliched horror movie tropes. I mean come on, how could I say no to an exorcism story that uses The Go Go’s “We Got the Beat” as a pivotal plot point? This book was so totally bitchen, I don’t even know where to begin. How about I break it down for you like this?

The gist: It’s true that this is a horror story involving demonic possession. However, Satan takes a second seat because this is really a story about a life-long friendship that was cemented at an ET-themed Skate-Land birthday party. Nothing will stop our fearless protagonist, Abby, from saving her BFF from sinking deep down into the demonic underworld! On her quest, she faces down the legions of evil, including back-stabbing frienemies, oppressive parents and the worst school principal ever! With the power of Phil Collins, VC Andrews and Belinda Carlisle, she and Gretchen are going to beat this demonic bitch! Why? Because together, they’ve got the beat! Sorry not sorry, couldn’t help myself.

“I love you, Gretchen Lang. You are my reflection and my shadow and I will not let you go. We are bound together forever and ever! Until Halley’s Comet comes around again. I love you dearly and I love you queerly and no demon is bigger than this!” --Abby

What worked: I loved everything about this book, especially all the totally radical pop culture references. I had so much fun joining Abby and Gretchen as they sprayed their bangs sky high with AquaNet and tooted along in their super cool VW Rabbit convertible while making up their own lyrics to Phil Collin’s swoony love songs. This was such a fun satanic-themed trip down memory lane and I was so sad when it rolled to a surprisingly tear-jerking stop.

Eighties artifacts aside, Abby is the absolute best part of this book. It’s hard to believe she was created by a dude because I felt like we were soul sisters. I could totally relate to her many trials and tribulations—from criminally-negligent parents to horribly disfiguring acne to her VC Andrews obsession! I was pulling for her every step of the way, and she just kept tugging at my heart as she battled her enemies and sacrificed everything to save the one and only person she truly loved. I was expecting a tongue-in-cheek horror spoof, but instead I got a wallop of emotions that have been dormant for more than 20 years! Oops…I just gave away my age, didn’t I?

I also really appreciated the girl-power theme, which is thankfully becoming a current trend in books and movies. Men are no longer needed to save damsels in distress—and to that I say YA, YA, sistas!

What didn’t work: There’s an upsetting chapter involving a dog. Skip that chapter.

Added bonus: I listened to this book on audio and the narrator Emily Woo Zeller is totally righteous, dude!


Summer in the South audiobook cover art

One hot Southern mess

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

Reviewed: 07-13-17

I love the premise of this book, but sadly it did not deliver on its promise of mystery, intrigue, romance and self-discovery. I got a little over halfway through the book and still no semblance of a plot. At some point our leading lady, Ava, stumbles upon some questions about a mysterious death, but just when I thought she'd start strapping on her gumshoes, the story would ramble back into another pointless scene straight out of Southern Living magazine. To put it plainly, this book is one hot Southern mess. However, I should give the author some credit for her lyrical descriptions of the sleepy Tennessee full of big-haired women who fully embrace the patriarchy.

Let's talk about that for a moment. After attempting to get through this book, I realized that I'm not a fan of traditional Southern culture, and it's hard to believe that a "Yankee woman" from the city would find a town full of passive-aggressive, two-faced, gossipy women so appealing? I was especially put off toward the mid-point in the story when she chatted up an aristocratic old gent at a waspy garden party who was beaming with pride at his happy little housewife who spends her days at the spa and social engagements. My eyes just about rolled out of my head when he stated, "In my next life, I want to be a Woodburn housewife."

Since all the women in this book are apparently still living in the 1950s, the pinnacle of happiness is to live a life of comfort and ease at the expense of their independence and...oh I don't know...self-respect?

How Ava was allured by the kitschy townsfolk and captivated by their duplicitous charms, I will never know. I'm also wondering how she managed to lose a little weight while freeloading for an entire summer while sipping sugary tea all day and dining on comfort food. Makes me wonder what the hell she must've been eating in the big city.

To be honest, I had a hard time connecting with Ava. What did all the hot eligible bachelors see in her? She has the personality of a sea slug and doesn't like cats for Pete's sakes! And if that's not reason enough to fling the book against the wall, she's a busybody to boot. It's one thing to get involved in a mystery if you have something to gain--or to lose for that matter. But what's her motive for digging into other people's dirty laundry and ultimately betraying the women who gave her free room and board for an entire summer? So not cool.

But then again, I might be a little biased because --HELLO!-- she doesn't like cats. If you're looking for a good Southern mystery, give this one a pass and pick up a book by Carolyn Haines.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Diviners audiobook cover art

Gets better after the first half!

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

Reviewed: 04-06-17

Please do not be deterred by the annoying protagonist. I agree with many reviewers that Evie is a total brat. I almost reached a breaking point with her attention-junkie antics until I reached the mid-point of the story when she gets knocked on her butt and is forced to act like a decent human being. I'm not promising that you will come to like her later in the book but she becomes much more tolerable when she decides to become useful. Aside from the main character, this book is worth an audible credit. The paranormal mystery and world-building can't be beat! Guess I'll have to endure Evie in the next book since I'm hooked into the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Unexpected Everything  audiobook cover art

Where's the plot?

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

Reviewed: 07-18-16

I have a hard time believing these 500-plus pages full of petty high school drama were authored by the same woman who wrote Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. What happened, Morgan Matson? Your teenage characters used to have depth and interests that superseded dreamy boys. I zeroed in on that amazing cover featuring adorable pups and assumed this was going to be about a girl finding her way through this crazy game of life with some help from her newfound dog friends.

Maybe it’s because I’m such a huge animal lover, but I feel like the author really missed an opportunity to use the dog-walking aspect to her full advantage. This could’ve been a beautiful story if the dogs helped Andy overcome her emotional hang-ups. Unfortunately in this story, the dog-walking job was just a means to an end. Andy dealt with her dog clients with the same enthusiasm as a gum-smacking Subway sandwich artist. Needless to say, I didn’t connect with Andy, or any of her friends for that matter.

As for the plot…well there isn’t one. Readers get to follow Andy and her clique of gal pals as they ruminate about their crushes, go to pool parties and hang out in the drama room. Boooorrrring! And what’s with all the girls having boy names? Is this a gimmick to make them more unique? I got tired of trying to figure out who was who, but in the end I guess it didn’t matter. I could skipped multiple chapters and never missed a beat. Come to think of it, I probably should’ve.

Aside from the nonexistent plot, I was amazed by how fast Andy and her absentee father resolved their differences after one major argument. My guess is that the author got tired and bored (totally understandable) and had to wrap up this non-story in a jiffy so she could get started on her next book, which I will not be reading. Ouch! That was cold. Sorry guys, just telling it like it is.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing audiobook cover art

Great Summertime Read for all Ages!

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

Reviewed: 07-18-16

Sometimes, in a world that seems to have gone crazy, it’s refreshing to read a book told by characters who are in that sweet spot of youth. Too young to be boy crazy, but old enough to think critically and go off on their own adventures. Ah the good old days!

It was fun getting lost in nostalgia and fully immersing myself in the down-home Tupelo Landing setting—complete with farmhouses, tobacco fields and colorful characters. It’s like Stars Hollow meets the Secret Life of Bees. There’s a whodunit murder mystery intertwined with the mystery of Mo’s “upstream mother” and her surrogate father’s mysterious past. You see, she and her new daddy, “The Colonel” were displaced after a torrential hurricane. Back when she was a baby, she floated away from her “upstream mother” and he washed ashore with a spotless mind. Who are they and where did they come from? Guess I’ll have to keep reading the series to find out!

I loved her connection with the Colonel and Miss Lana, who took them both into her loving home. They all worked together at the family diner, an opportune place for Mo and her best friend to interrogate suspects. Who killed the town curmudgeon? Were hidden treasures involved? Leave it to Mo and her BFF to figure it out!

This book really took me back to my carefree summer days when I had absolutely nothing to do but ride my bike and jump on the backyard trampoline. Even though this book is set in present day, I could tell the author made a conscious effort to leave out cell phones and other gadgets that are slowly sucking the souls out of little children—and their parents—on a daily basis. Thank you, Shiela Turnage, for taking me back to a time when kids can just go outside and make their own, non-computerized adventures!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Silence audiobook cover art

Narrator sucks

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

Reviewed: 12-27-15

On a 10-point scale, I give this book a solid 3. The sub-par narrator didn't help matters. I didn't care about the bland characters. The generic dialogue bored me to tears. The monotone narrator needs caffeine and some acting lessons. All in all, a total snoozefest.