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Reading Maven Mia Jo

  • 9
  • reviews
  • 4
  • helpful votes
  • 10
  • ratings
  • The Safest Lies

  • By: Megan Miranda
  • Narrated by: Amanda Dolan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,971
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,802
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,805

Kelsey has lived most of her life in a shadow of suspicion, raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn't set foot outside their front door in 17 years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with nothing but her attacker's baby growing inside her - Kelsey. Kelsey knows she's supposed to keep a low profile and stay off the grid for their protection, but that plan is shattered when her dramatic car accident and rescue by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker sparks media coverage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fast Paced/Action Packed!

  • By Chanda Leigh Combs on 07-13-17

Action, Intrigue, and Heart

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

Reviewed: 05-15-19

Although Kelsey goes to high school and has a part-time job, she knows her life is the farthest thing from normal. She lives in a gated fortress that her mom hasn’t left since Kelsey’s birth. Apparently, Kelsey’s mom is afraid the bad people who kidnapped her so many years ago are still searching for her, so she trains Kelsey in survival techniques including bomb-making. Kelsey’s mom has only one friend, her therapist, who studies Kelsey and her mom to gain data on whether fear can be inherited.

My favorite part of this book is the beginning when, after swerving off the road to avoid another vehicle, Kelsey and her car are dangling over a cliff. Ryan, the guy from her trigonometry class, tries to calm her from the backseat. This worries her because he wasn’t in the car earlier. He explains. He’s a volunteer firefighter and he repelled into her car to save her from plummeting to her death. This also worries her because he’s likely flunking math and her rescue would be a practical application of the very subject he struggles to comprehend. I’m not going to tell you what happens but this whole scene sets the bad guys on Kelsey’s trail. Soon they attack the fortress, and Kelsey’s mom disappears, leaving Kelsey and Ryan to fight off or evade the villains while piecing together what happened to Kelsey’s mom.

I loved All the Missing Girls and this tale is similar in that the characters must unravel the what happened in the past to save themselves and those they love in the present. Lots of danger and action occur as the characters put clues together.

My least favorite part of this story was the end as parts of the wrap up disappointed me. Still, I enjoyed the action and intrigue at the heart of the story and would recommend The Safest Lies to readers, who like carefully planned mysteries and page-turning suspense.

  • Paris by the Book

  • A Novel
  • By: Liam Callanan
  • Narrated by: Kim Bubbs
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 52

When eccentric novelist Robert Eady abruptly vanishes, he leaves behind his wife, Leah, their daughters, and, hidden in an unexpected spot, plane tickets to Paris. Hoping to uncover clues - and her husband - Leah sets off for France with her girls. Upon their arrival, she discovers an unfinished manuscript, one Robert had been writing without her knowledge...and that he had set in Paris. The Eady women follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A whimsical yet heartfelt mystery

  • By Reading Maven Mia Jo on 02-11-19

A whimsical yet heartfelt mystery

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

Reviewed: 02-11-19

Like Schrödinger’s cat, Leah Eady’s husband, Robert may or may not be dead. On the surface he’s a supportive husband and all-around awesome dad, but underneath he’s a tormented writer certain a great novel is in him if only he can manage to yank it free. Apparently, he can’t write around his family, so he often goes on short, break-away trips. He usually leaves notes, and returns after a few days; however, he never comes home from his last excursion.

Leah contacts the police, but no leads come up. Robert isn’t not calling, texting or even using his credit cards. The one clue Leah has is an unfinished manuscript about a family moving to Paris to hopes of being reunited with a lost loved one. She remembers sweet dates where Robert took her to Paris, Wisconsin, her husband’s fascination with “Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans, and the fact that he insisted his daughters attend a French-speaking school to conclude if she’s ever going to see Robert again, it will be in Paris.

Leah and her daughters, Ellie and Daphne, travel to Paris and end up staying. Leah buys into a failing English-language bookshop, which she and her daughters manage. They meet all kinds of colorful characters and we, readers, learn loads about the city of Paris, while the family searches for Robert and succeed in making a new life for themselves.
I love Leah, Ellie and Daphne and their quirky, new friends. They mix grief with adventure as they navigate their new ex-patriot lives and prove they can remain a family without Robert. Still, as readers, we aren’t sure about Robert’s being alive or dead until Leah comes to terms with his disappearance in a wonderfully satisfying scene where she throws a book-chucking tantrum. I won’t spoil the mystery by elaborating further.

Some readers might find the plot far-fetched, but I willingly bought into Liam Callanan’s well-spun yarn. If you like whimsical adventures as well as wacky yet heartfelt characters, or if you just want to learn lots about the city of Paris, this is a story for you.
4.5 Stars!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Forgotten God

  • Remembering Our Crucial Need for the Holy Spirit
  • By: Francis Chan
  • Narrated by: Francis Chan
  • Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,510
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,246
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,238

A follow up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit's direction in our lives. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and ... the Holy Spirit." We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Spirit: the Power of Christ in Us

  • By Greg on 02-16-12

A Worthwhile Read-A Worthy Challenge

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

Reviewed: 11-14-18

Francis Chan challenges readers to evaluate their relationship with God and to consider what it means to trust him. It’s thought-provoking, deeply moving and more than a little convicting. Francis backs up his points with scripture, so readers can test his words. My takeaway is God is with us and he wants to help, especially in those impossible and yet daily situations—expect trouble and know that it’s natural and we’re not alone in it.

If you want to turn your Christianity into an adventure, this is the read for you.

#SpiritualGrowth, #tagsgiving, #FrancisChan, #GrowinChrist, #sweepstakes

  • The Haunting of Sam Cabot

  • A Novel
  • By: Mark Edward Hall
  • Narrated by: Daniel David Shapiro
  • Length: 4 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 28

There are places that hold evil, houses so vile, so tainted, that people refuse to live in them. Farnham House is one of those places. Once an inn, this majestic old New England manor house is back on the market, and the price is very reasonable. Sam Cabot is a man tired of moving. Now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life in the country with his wife and young son.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow...Loved it

  • By D. DeVries on 07-11-15

Chills and Thrills

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

Reviewed: 11-14-18

This is a cautionary tale. When you’re a less-than-stable main character and you’re driving through the country and you see a huge, but lovely fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere that is for sale, don’t stop. When there’s a creepy old caretaker who gives you a tour and everything from the overgrown lawn to the monster of a heating system gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t offer to buy the place. Don’t move in. Nightmares, anxiety, murders, and ghostly visitations are sure to follow.
However, if you’re a reader and you like the shivers that run up the back of her neck as you turn the page, this is worth your time.

I’d like to tell you more, but I’ve been warned to never tell what’s in the well. Yes, there is a bad-smelling, boarded-up well that, sure enough, the main character opens. It’s almost certain, any number of innocent geeks are going to get dragged in, chewed up and spit out, but I’m not telling.

Then the story gets even more scary. It reads like a Stephen King or Peter Straub thriller. My one complaint might be that the ending wasn’t the payoff I’d hoped for. Yet, for the twists and chills in the middle I recommend this read.

#tagsgiving, #monsterinthehouse, #horror, #sweepstakes, #haunting

  • Chasing the Moon

  • By: A. Lee Martinez
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 727
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 663
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 668

Diana's life was in a rut - she hated her job, she was perpetually single, and she needed a place to live. But then the perfect apartment came along. It seemed too good to be true - because it was. As it turns out, the apartment was already inhabited - by monsters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Douglas Adams on Acid

  • By Karen on 08-22-14

Funny and Creepy

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

Reviewed: 11-13-18

Diana, a poor department store salesperson, gets a great deal on a new apartment, but there’s a catch—Vom the Hungering. He’s the monster in her living room closet. As soon as she signs the lease and carries her stuff in all exits in her apartment vanish. To leave, Diana must let Vom out, and once she does, he’s doomed to devour her. It turns out--all the apartments in her building have zany curses and Diana’s letting Vom out triggers events that led up to an apocalypse. Only it’s a funny end of the world with monsters that are as humorous as the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

I loved all the silliness along with the funny but true human psychology behind the main characters; however, even though the main source of destruction was amusing, it didn’t quite work for me. In my humble opinion, the end wasn’t quite up to the beginning and middle. That said, if you like lighthearted horror, scary-cute monsters, and escapism in general, this book is worth a read.

#tagsgiving, #light-heartedhorror, #creepyfun, #sweepstakes

  • Without Saying a Word

  • By: Kasia Wezowski, Patryk Wezowski
  • Narrated by: Kate Mulligan
  • Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 482
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 436
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 432

One wrong move can undercut your message. Believe it or not, our bodies speak louder than our words. Postures, gestures, and expressions convey reams of information - and often not what you'd expect. A smile, for example, is usually considered welcoming. But crook one corner of your mouth higher, and you project superiority, subconsciously chasing other people away. Without Saying a Word explains how even the subtlest motions have meaning. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • More list than book

  • By C. Zacharias on 10-04-18

Understandable Research

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

Reviewed: 11-13-18

Whenever I see a new book on body language, I try to obtain a copy. They all have interesting insights and observations about how people communicate. This one does, too. In fact, it contains decades of research, but that research is clearly and simply explained. The actions and expressions talked about are also understandable and easy to picture.

The book does what it should do—it communicates. I loved straightforward descriptions as well as the recaps and short summaries at chapter ends.

Clearly, Without Saying a Word will be a go-to-reference for me. If you like people-watching and learning about how we, humans, communicate, I recommend you add this to your reading list.

#tagsgiving, #bodylanguage, #sweepstakes, #interpersonalskills, #readpeople

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Hell House

  • By: Richard Matheson
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,000
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,507
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,507

For over 20 years, Belasco House has stood empty. Regarded as the Mt. Everest of haunted houses, its shadowed walls have witnessed scenes of unimaginable horror and depravity. All previous attempts to probe its mysteries have ended in murder, suicide, or insanity.

But now, a new investigation has been launched, bringing four strangers to Belasco House in search of the ultimate secrets of life and death. A wealthy publisher, brooding over his impending death, has paid a physicist and two mediums to establish the facts of life after death once and for all. For one night, they will investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townsfolk refer to it as the Hell House.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hell House is like Hill House, but fiercer

  • By Phebe on 08-13-12

Classic Horror

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

Reviewed: 11-13-18

Hell House is a classic horror story. A dying billionaire offers a group of damaged people oodles to prove there’s life-after-death. To do so, the group visits the infamous Belasco House, which has corrupted and destroyed its previous guests. It starts working on its visitors immediately—playing on their deepest needs and insecurities.

Dr. Lionel Barrett is the group’s leader and biggest skeptic. He’s determined not to believe any of the phenomena he witnesses. He’s a crippled physicist who has an interest in parapsychology, a bunch of cool-science gadgets and a clingy wife named Edith. Edith is shy, repressed, sexually frustrated and pretty much afraid of everything. Two mediums accompany the couple. Florence Tanner, who is a former starlet turned-spiritualist and minister. She’s convinced that she can rid the house of its evil. Benjamin Franklin Fischer is the sole survivor from the previous Belasco house party. He was a teenager at the time and it pretty much wrecked his life. Now a forty-something ne’er-do-well, he’s determined not to get suckered into caring about the other guests or letting the house get to him again. He remains aloof and disinterested, but soon the brutal mystery behind the ghostly manifestations draws him in along with everyone else.

Within hours of entering the house, the malevolent spirit of Emeric Belasco and perhaps a legion of his ghostly victims terrorize his new guests. They should leave, but they don’t. Then, they can’t, and you can probably guess what happens next— more creepy encounters, and some blood-chilling scenes. Hauntings reveal the house’s history and people die horribly. What kept me from rating this book as an awesome five was that I didn’t like any of the characters and they didn’t seem to like themselves. Still, the final confrontation was a satisfying surprise.

I like how the terror inflicted on the guests synced up with their personalities and fears and how well planned the entire haunted-house experience was. If you like psychological horror and carefully-plotted mysteries, this is a tale for you.

#tagsgiving, #sweepstakes, #monsterinthehouse, #classichorror, #haunting

  • The Burning Sky

  • The Elemental Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Sherry Thomas
  • Narrated by: Philip Battley
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 688
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 642
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 638

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation - or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant 16-year-old girl with no training.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Audiobook

  • By Anya on 11-11-14

Awesome Fantasy Adventure

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

Reviewed: 06-16-18

Iolanthe just wants to ensure her guardian, a drug addict, keeps his post when she calls lightning down, alerting the Bane’s minions to her presence as the Elemental Wizard destine to bring down the Bane, making her public enemy number one in Atlantis and the Domain.

Luckily, Prince Titus’s mom warned him about Iolanthe in the prophesies she kept before her death, so when Titus sees the lightning, he charges to the rescue on a magical steed. He gets to Iolanthe seconds before the minions arrive, and the game is afoot. The two flee to Victorian England, where they must rely on deception and their wits to evade plot after plot. At one point, even the Prince’s allies attempt to kill Iolanthe. Will the intrepid pair fall in love? Defeat the Bane? Or be captured by his Inquisitor and her minions?

Prince Titus is dedicated to protecting both Iolanthe and his Domain, but he pretends to be callow and stuck-on-himself while Iolanthe is talented, resourceful and incredibly stubborn, which creates many delightful bits of banter as she wants no part of the Prince’s suicidal plans to take down the tyrant.

The humor, the historic details, the magical world and the awesome characters you can root for make this story a page-turner. I seriously can’t wait to read the next novel in this series, or any of Sherry Thomas’ books. Wow can this author write.

If you like fantasies with romance and humor, I bet you’ll love this book.

I purchased and listened to this digital download offering from Audible—Yep, this novel, and others like it, are why I have an Audible account.
#tagsgiving, #sweepstakes, #fantasyromance, #awesomeread

  • Joe Ledger

  • Unstoppable
  • By: Jonathan Maberry - editor, Bryan Thomas Schmidt - editor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,219
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,162
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,159

Everyone's favorite snarky, dangerous, idealistic, relentless covert operative is back, and this time he's brought friends. Joe Ledger: Unstoppable presents original short stories about Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences by some of New York Times best seller Jonathan Maberry's "friends in the industry".

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 18 freaking outstanding stories, 2 meh stories

  • By Thomas Allen on 11-05-17

Joe Ledger at his best

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

Reviewed: 11-14-17

To be fair I confess I’m crazy about the Joe Ledger series and I love, love, love Ray Porter as a narrator, so you can probably guess I enjoyed most of the short stories in the Ledger universe—true. All the stories gave me insights into the personalities I look forward to following most and I was happy to see that all the characters remained spot on to their Maberry-written-originals. Dr. Hu didn’t suddenly volunteer at the local soup kitchen and Church didn’t reveal a secret past as a stand-up comedian.
One minor disappointment was Joe didn’t get to meet Agent Franks. I’d love to see a Ledger-Franks smackdown.
My favorite story was Red Dirt. Although the story didn’t have any fighting, it had a lot of heart. I connected with Katherine, the down-home-girl who became a doctor to help her community. Next, I loved that Ruddy Sanchez got the chance to play team leader. Usually, he’s the guy who stays at the base camp waiting to put mental band-aids on the trauma victims or counseling the returning warriors after mission. This time he, Circe, Top and Bunny investigate a mysterious disease that mimics Adult Onset Galactosemia, a disease I didn’t know anything about before this tale.
Other highlights for me were Black Water, a sad, sort-of ghost story which involves Joe as a teenager and Banshee had a super suit which would give Antman’s a run for its money.
If you like Acts of Valor meets X-File tales, you’ll enjoy these stories.

#tagsgiving, #sweepstakes, #thriller, #JoefingLedger,#RayPorter,

2 of 2 people found this review helpful