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Elisabeth Carey

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  • The Christmas Hirelings

  • By: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,513
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,395
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,379

Sir John Penlyon is planning to spend Christmas at his estate with his niece and his friend Danby, the closest thing he has to family since disowning his daughter years ago. (She eloped with the parson, who was, of course, penniless.) Danby suggests that at Christmastime the estate needs the presence of small children, and offers to find some - the “hirelings” - despite Sir John’s skepticism. Three children duly arrive, and the youngest, precocious four year-old Moppet, quickly endears herself to Sir John. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A warming Christmas Story

  • By kevinf on 12-11-18

A warm and lovely Christmas story

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

Reviewed: 12-13-18

This is a Victorian Christmas tale, and it's a good one.

Sir John Penlyon is spending Christmas with his niece, Adela, and his friend Thomas Danby, a makeshift family for the aging man with no closer family left to him. Long widowed, his older daughter died just a few years after her own marriage, with no children. His younger daughter married a penniless curate, in defiance of her father, and was of course disowned.

Adela mentions how dull a Christmas with no children is, and Sir John, a bit of a curmudgeon, says Christmas is pointless for a household without children. In short order, Danby has persuaded Sir john to agree to his scheme to hire some suitable young children to enliven their holiday.

In time for Christmas, Danby brings two little girls and a young boy, sweet, endearing children who do indeed enliven the holiday. The younger girl, Moppet, in particular, charms Sir John and endears herself to him.

But this is a Victorian Christmas tale, and Moppet, inevitably, falls dangerously ill. Sir John begins to think he made a mistake in opening his home and his heart. Also, of course, the origin of these children becomes a far more urgent matter. The question of whether a wounded and broken family can be healed becomes the center of this story.

It's very well done, and very moving. Recommended.

I received this audiobook as part of Audible's Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Christmas Eve, 1914

  • By: Charles Olivier
  • Narrated by: Cameron Daddo, Xander Berkeley, Cody Fern, and others
  • Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,288
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,030
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,021

In 1914, the war which was to have been wrapped up by Christmas had - in reality - only just begun, as all sides entrenched themselves deeper into the Great War. Christmas Eve, 1914 follows one company of British officers as they rotate forward to spend their Christmas on the front lines, a mere 80 yards from the German guns. Upper- and working-class men and boys are thrown together into one trench and struggle to survive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully "illustrated"

  • By anonymous on 12-25-14

A magical moment in the midst of war

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

Reviewed: 12-12-18

This short audiobook from Audible is about a British unit being rotated to the front lines just in time for Christmas Eve, 1914.

This unit has recently lost their captain, and the lieutenants are waiting for one of them to be promoted. Two are each convinced that he is the obviously correct candidate; two others are less concerned or interested. One of the ambitious ones also has a special addition to his pot of tea--one that's not illegal in 1914, but would certainly cause, at a minimum, raised eyebrows, and perhaps block promotion of an otherwise-capable officer. A new subaltern arrives, with a divine singing voice, and singing Silent Night, a cherished Christmas song of German origin, produces some misplaced hostility. The anticipated Christmas tins do not arrive, their shipping space taken by a Vickers machine gun, which will likely make this unit a particular target.

There is stress, frustration, conflict, and alarm--and that's just within the unit.

Then Germans start moving into No Man's Land, carrying...trees?

And they propose a truce, so that they can all bury their respective dead.

This isn't a long audiobook, but it culminates in one of the most magical moments of the First World War.

It's very well done. Recommended.

This was Audible's free Christmas offering to members this year.

  • When Never Comes

  • By: Barbara Davis
  • Narrated by: Shannon McManus
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,392
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,215
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,205

 As a teenage runaway and child of an addict, Christy-Lynn learned the hard way that no address was permanent, and no promise sacred. For a while, she found a safe haven in her marriage to bestselling crime novelist Stephen Ludlow - until his car skidded into Echo Bay. But Stephen’s wasn’t the only body pulled from the icy waters that night. When details about a mysterious violet-eyed blonde become public, a media circus ensues, and Christy-Lynn runs again. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great story about healing and new starts in life

  • By Virginia Kilmer on 08-18-18

A woman's tragedy, self-discovery, and growth

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

Reviewed: 12-04-18

Christy-Lynn Parker was the daughter of an addict, who coped as best she could, until finally her mother went to jail, and Christy-Lynn went to foster care.

When that was worse, she ran away.

But she worked and pursued her own goals as she always had. Working as an editor, she met, and married, crime fiction writer Stephen Ludlow. It was, or seemed, a safe haven, until the night Stephen skidded off a bridge into Echo Bay, with a half-naked young woman in the car with him.

Christine Ludlow needs to remake her life again. In Sweetwater, Virginia, she makes a start.

But Christy-Lynn is still carrying a lot of baggage she doesn't recognize or completely remember, and there are also things she doesn't yet know about Stephen and the young woman, Honey Rawlings, who died with him.

As she starts to build a new life, she's rocked by the discovery that Stephen and Honey had a child, Iris, just three years old, and living with her ailing, octogenarian great-grandmother. They're living in poverty, but worse than that, when the old woman does die, there's no on to take Iris. She'll be swallowed up by the foster care system.

As Christy-Lynn was.

She can't imagine letting that happen.

She can't imagine opening herself up to the possibility of being hurt again. She has difficulty even opening up to her new friends.

This is a painful and engrossing look at a woman trying to rebuild, after a lifetime of pain, the discovery that she didn't even really know her husband, and return of the memories from her younger years. What's especially painful is that she blames herself for all of it. For not being a good enough wife. For not being a good enough daughter. For having, she thinks, nothing to offer the new people in her life.

It's human and painful and completely compelling.

The narrator is also quite good, with a strong, flexible voice that's easy to listen to.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Guarded Prognosis

  • By: Richard L. Mabry MD
  • Narrated by: Bill Nevitt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 20

When Dr. Caden Taggart saw the two men sitting in his waiting room, he didn’t think they were patients. He was right, and when they introduced themselves as agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency, things started to get bad. Then Caden felt as though someone had gut-punched him when his father, Dr. Henry Taggart, told him he probably had carcinoma of the pancreas. When he talked about his son assisting with his suicide, Caden wondered how he could talk him out of that.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Overall, a good book.

  • By Ellen on 12-14-18

A solid medical nystery

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

Reviewed: 11-28-18

Dr. Caden Taggert, a surgeon, receives an unexpected visit from two DEA agents, at his office. His DEA number is apparently being used to write suspect prescriptions. They want to find out who is really behind it. It's a frightening experience, and he far too easily accepts their encouragement not to call a lawyer. And, heck, he doesn't even know a lawyer, and doesn't want to upset the DEA agents.

It's a mistake, of course. They don't even have a search warrant. Something is wrong here, but he's not asking the right questions. He introduces the agents to his staff and the other two surgeons as doctors leaving academia and hospital work, and interested in seeing how this private practice office is organized. He's introduced trouble that's not the trouble he thinks it is, though the reader, or listener, soon knows.

Meanwhile, his father, Dr. Henry Taggert, also a surgeon, is having troubles of his own. He has just learned that he may have pancreatic cancer. It does cause him to reach out to his son. Neither man would want to say so, but since Henry's wife, Caden's mother, Nancy, had a stroke that reduced her to a vegetative state a year ago, what closeness they once had has faded away. Now he needs his son.

It takes us, and Henry, longer to find out there is also trouble in his practice.

What happens over the next several weeks becomes a terrifying roller coaster ride, that changes the two men's relationship with each other, Caden's with his wife, and Henry's with his office nurse, who has been a supportive friend since Nancy's stroke.

This is an explicitly, but not cloyingly, Christian novel. I'm a New Englander. In this part of the country, advertising your religious faith is not considered a sign of the strength and sincerity of your belief. On the contrary, we tend to believe that things that get heavily advertised are probably for sale. It's different in Texas, where this book is set, and I guess in much of the south.

This is likely why many New Englanders and many southerners tend to regard each other with dark suspicion.

So it's worth noting that these are plausibly real and plausibly good people, sincere in their beliefs. If you're a religious believer of a culture more like mine, be aware that they do talk about their faith more than some of us might find appropriate.If you are not religious, again, be aware. These characters are sometimes naive, but they're neither phonies nor fools.

If you are the flavor of atheist that thinks being religious is ipso facto proof you're either a phony or an idiot, this book might not be for you.

Recommended with the obvious caveats.

I listened to the audiobook. The narration is solid and easy to listen to.

I received a free copy of this audiobook, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • Origin Story

  • A Big History of Everything
  • By: David Christian
  • Narrated by: Jamie Jackson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 757
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 667
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 672

Most historians study the smallest slivers of time, emphasizing specific dates, individuals, and documents. But what would it look like to study the whole of history, from the big bang through the present day - and even into the remote future? How would looking at the full span of time change the way we perceive the universe, the earth, and our very existence? These were the questions David Christian set out to answer when he created the field of "Big History", the most exciting new approach to understanding where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great introduction into big history

  • By Diana on 08-15-18

A lively look at who we are & how we got here

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

Reviewed: 11-24-18

Every culture and tradition has had its origin story, its understanding of how the world came to be as they knew it, which formed the basis for their further understanding of how to live, interact with others, get food, make clothes. Our origin stories are the basis of how we understand everything.

Now, in the early 21st century, we know far more about the origin of the universe, our sun, our planet, and life on Earth. We live in a society of unparalleled complexity, and in the last two hundred years, we have gained the ability not just to support more human beings, but to improve the daily lives of most humans on the planet, not just an elite 10% or so.

What we haven't done yet is integrate this knowledge into a new, shared origin story that helps us cope with this new, complex, and rapidly changing world.

Christian intends this as at least a first pass at a modern origin story. In a lively, highly readable or listenable style, he lays out the basics of our new knowledge of the origins of the universe, our planet, and life on Earth, as well as an overview of the evolution of our species and development of our societies, right down to how we made the transition from strictly agrarian societies to today's high-tech, rapidly changing world.

And he looks at the challenges as well as the benefits of that transition and our current power to affect our planet.

Christian makes the point, as others have in the last few years, that we now have, in essence, the controls for our only habitable planet. We decide what species live and which ones die, and we are playing with the climate controls. If we understand and master those controls in time, we have the potential to give our species the best and most comfortable lives we have ever had.

Or we could make the planet uninhabitable for such an energy-consuming culture, and drive ourselves back to the early agrarian or even hunter-gatherer level.

Or we could render the planet uninhabitable for our species altogether, and leave Earth to start over again, with other species in a climate unlike any that has existed since the first primates evolved.

Despite that potential grim outcome, I found this overall a lively and interesting book, well worth the time I spent listening to it. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Ten Women

  • By: Marcela Serrano, Beth Fowler (translator)
  • Narrated by: Marisol Ramirez
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 166
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 150
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 151

Nine Chilean women from vastly different backgrounds have been brought together by their beloved therapist, Natasha, to talk about their lives and help each other heal. From a teenage computer whiz confronting her sexual identity, to a middle-aged recluse who prefers the company of her dog over that of most humans, the women don’t have much in common on the surface. And yet as they tell their stories, unlikely common threads are discovered, bonds are formed, and lives are transformed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Outstanding characterization

  • By EShaw on 04-26-18

Engrossing look at women in Chile

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

Reviewed: 11-19-18

In Santiago, Chile, ten women--nine patients and their therapist--meet. Normally the women receive individual therapy, but this time the therapist, Natasha, wants them all together in a group session. They will all talk about their lives.

They're all very different women, different backgrounds, different experiences. An elderly former actress, a nineteen-year-old computer whiz, a housekeeper, a woman from a wealthy, connected family, women who have struggled to become or remain middle class. The last story we get is Natasha's own, an immigrant with a broken and traumatic past of her own.

Yet despite the differences and the great gulfs between them, there are common threads. They find commonalities and recurring themes, experiences and struggles that link them all.

And for the American reader, not the original intended audience, it's a look at women in Chile, and how their experiences are both like and unlike our own. The women are all compelling; they do not all seem likable at first, and yet with each there is something to connect with. Chile's 20th century history, which younger readers may not have encountered before, plays a central role in the lives of these women.

I of course can't directly judge the quality of the translation, the result seems very good to me, clear and understandable without sounding like American voices are speaking. The narrator is also very good.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

  • Must Love Mistletoe

  • The Alaska Sunrise Romances, Book 3
  • By: Melissa Storm
  • Narrated by: Ann Richardson
  • Length: 2 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6

Will they find their way out of disaster and into each other’s hearts? When the opportunity to make a huge real estate sale presents itself just before Christmas, Riley McKinley knows it could be a career maker for her - even if it means being away from her family for the holidays. Ski instructor Sebastian Rockwell wants nothing more than to escape the holiday frenzy back home - especially now that both of his brothers have settled down.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A light, enjoyable Christmas romance

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 11-09-18

A light, enjoyable Christmas romance

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

Reviewed: 11-09-18

Seattle realtor Riley McKinley is not thrilled when, a few days before Christmas, the day her Christmas holiday is to start, her biggest client asks her to go to Alaska to help he with a deal there--immediately. But he is her biggest client, it's a potentially career-making deal, and she likes him. So she flies up to Alaska.

When she arrives, she's met by Sebastian Rockwell. He's the winter sports coordinator for the resort chain that Riley's client wants to buy one currently-inactive location from. Sebastian is the last unmarried son of a match-making mama, and he dislikes Christmas as much as his mother and the rest of the family love it. He was happy to take the extra hours to be the tour guide for Riley and her client, when asked.

When they reach the lodge, they're surprised that the client isn't there yet, but they get settled in, eat supper, and make plans for a snowmobile ride early the next day, expecting that Riley's client and Sebastian's boss will arrive before noon. Their mutual attraction contends with their very different attitudes toward Christmas, and there is lively banter on the snowmobile ride, right up until they are caught in an avalanche.

Riley is smart, capable, and tough, but she doesn't have Sebastian's avalanche training. He's the one who has to keep them alive until they can be rescued.

If they are found in time to be rescued.

The story is overall light and fun, despite the avalanche and the fact that they really have no idea whether they'll be found in time. The characters are likable, for the most part. There's not a lot of depth, here, but, after all, you don't necessarily need a lot of depth in a light, Christmas romance.

Enjoyable.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • In the Shadow of Light

  • By: Elaine L. Orr
  • Narrated by: Andre G Chapoy
  • Length: 1 hr and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Corozón, her mother, and her little brother, Pico, have left Honduras to seek asylum in the US. Grandfather Tito and her father, Manuel, saved the life of Colonel Bill, an American soldier, many years ago. It's probably part of the reason Corozón's father was murdered. They believe they are fleeing to safety but don't know about the family-separation policy.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A moving story of our southern border

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 11-09-18

A moving story of our southern border

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

Reviewed: 11-09-18

Corazon Sanchez, her baby brother Pico, and their mother, Isabella, have walked from Honduras to the US-Mexico border, fleeing the gangs that killed Corazon's father, Manuel. They wanted more protection money for the family's store than they can afford to pay. Also, though, Manuel and his father, Tito, helped save the life of an American soldier, Colonel Bill Haines, years ago when Manuel was a young man. That may also have been a sore spot for the gangs.

The Sanchez family think they are walking towards safety, but they don't know about the changes under the new President (not Trump; the people are all fictionalized.) They don't know about the family separation policy.

And they left too quickly to let Colonel Bill know they were coming.

Meanwhile, civil rights activists, social workers who have to care for some of the frightened children, even Border Patrol agents who never thought that they were signing up to rip children from their parents, want to do something, though they don't yet know what.

And somewhere, someone has decided on the something.

A shadowy group kidnaps Kyra, the ten-year-old daughter of the most visible spokesman for the family separation policy. By chance, Kyra's best friend Bethany is with her, and also taken.

When Corazon, her mother, and her brother arrive at the border, they are quickly spotted by--not the Border Patrol agents that don't like this policy. They're agents who are positively eager to enforce it, as harshly as possible. The children are immediately separated from their mother. Because Corazon clings so tightly to her year-old brother, and he to her, it takes longer to separate them, but it happens.

But a freelance reporter is close enough to get pictures of the initial separation of Isabella and her children, and the swiftness and brutality of it. He contacts a reporter at the Washington Post.

And Colonel Bill, when those pictures are published, recognizes Isabella from the pictures Manuel sent over the years. Events start building toward a climax.

There's a lot happening here, and Orr gets in done with compact, elegant efficiency. The characters are beautifully developed with not a lot of words, and both the urgency and the ambiguity of people, events, and actions is made clear with a delicate tough.

Highly recommended.

I received this audiobook as part of Audible's Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

  • The Consuming Fire

  • The Interdependency, Book 2
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,588
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,354
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,335

The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it - unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Building upon a collapse, this follow-up exceeds!

  • By C. White on 10-16-18

More adventure in the Interdependency

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

Reviewed: 10-30-18

The Empire of the Interdependency is going to collapse, because the Flow network that allows travel among its 47 star systems is collapsing. Emperox Grayland II, a.k.a. Cardenia Wu-Patrick, is determined to save as much of humanity as possible--though it seems that might be a very tiny percentage. In all the 47 systems of the Interdependency, only one planet, End, can support human life living unprotected on its surface.

Unfortunately, of the leadership, both political and commercial, of the Interdependency doesn't believe that the Flow network is collapsing. Even with the Flow from End having already closed, no one wants to believe it. End, after all, is just a minor backwater...

Grayland is working with the allies she does have, including Flow physicist Lord Marce Claremont, some of her staff, the computer-stored avatars of her predecessors, some leaders of the Church of the Interdependency, of which she is the nominal head, and even some among the Interdependency military and more foresighted or open-minded members of the Great Houses.

In this second volume, Grayland and her allies are encountering unexpected changes, developments they did not anticipate, and even some startling discoveries about the history of pre-Interdependency humanity. This fictional universe grows more complex, detailed, and lived-in.

I like these characters. The pace moves, and the plot is involving and draws me in. Wil Wheaton is once again the narrator of the audiobook, and as always does an excellent job.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Girl in the Empty Dress

  • Bennett Sisters Novels, Book 2
  • By: Lise McClendon
  • Narrated by: Denice Stradling
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10

Merle Bennett is turning 50, and her four sisters are helping her celebrate by going to France on a walking tour of the Dordogne. But one sister invites along a law colleague whose annoying ways upset what Merle had hoped would be just "wine, women, and walking". When Gillian Sargent, the sixth wheel, finds an injured dog beside the road, the idyllic summer vacation takes a dark and dangerous turn. Why is the dog special? Who is after her? And what will they do to get the dog back?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Five lawyer sisters adventuring in France

  • By Elisabeth Carey on 10-24-18

Five lawyer sisters adventuring in France

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

Reviewed: 10-24-18

The five Bennett sisters, New York lawyers all, are on vacation in France. Using Merle's house in the Dordogne region in southwest France as their base, they're doing walking tours to see the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, from the viewpoint of most of them, one of the sisters, Francie, has brought along a friend from the law firm where she works, Gillian Sargent. And Gillian annoys everyone, including, it seems, Francie.

Then Gillian finds an injured dog, a small, fluffy, sweet dog with no ID. Gillian is determined to rescue and care for this dog. When he meets her, so is Merle's teenage son, Tristan. It gets more disturbing when the veterinarian they take the dog to tells them that the injury is due to, not a bullet as he originally thought, but the rough, amateur removal of a microchip. This dog was apparently stolen, and then escaped.

What follows is the tale of, on the one hand, the thieves hunting the dog so that they can collect their pay from their employer, conflicts among the women, Merle reuniting with her lover, Pascal, from last summer while coping with the uninvited arrival of her American boyfriend, James Silvers III, Gillian taking off with the dog leaving a note saying she's "keeping her safe"....

Oh, and Gillian steals their rental car to make off with the dog. Someone kidnaps Francie, with a ransom demand for the dog, which the thieves assume Merle has...

It's crazy, and yet real and dangerous.

Initially, I found all the women hard to warm up to. As the story continued, with Merle as the main viewpoint character, I grew to like her and, slowly, her sisters. Of her two boyfriends, Pascal is the clear keeper, if Merle wants to make a permanent commitment. (She may not.)

It's interesting, engaging, not going to be a favorite of mine, but I bet it will be for some readers. There's nothing weak or sloppy about the writing; these characters were just hard for me to warm up to, and not because of McClendon's writing, just because of what she wrote.

Oh, very important note: The dog does not die.

I bought this audiobook.