LISTENER

sci teacher

NJ United States
  • 83
  • reviews
  • 30
  • helpful votes
  • 102
  • ratings
  • Romance at the Royal Menagerie

  • By: Ruth J. Hartman
  • Narrated by: Julie Hinton
  • Length: 4 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

John Fairgate is torn by the fact that he'll inherit the title of baron upon his uncle’s death. Especially given that his uncle insists that he give up ornithology and marry a childhood acquaintance. The first request, John will honor no matter how much he hates the idea. But marrying a shrew who makes his skin crawl, he simply cannot do. Meeting Miss Francesca Hartwell at the zoo has given him other ideas for a wife. But she’s not titled or wealthy. How will John be able to convince his uncle that she’s the woman of his heart? 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3.45/5 Romance at the Royal Menagerie:

  • By sci teacher on 12-08-18

3.45/5 Romance at the Royal Menagerie:

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

Reviewed: 12-08-18

Mild Spoilers
Summary: Poor but lovely girl meets enchanting rich guy who’s visiting the zoo her father works at. You could probably predict the ending from the title. Francesca (Franny) Hartwell and John Fairgate are from distinctly different social classes.

Additional Comments:
- I hardly ever read any sort of regency romance, but I seem to be tripping over it these last few weeks. Since my pool of the genre’s pretty limited, I can’t compare too much to others, but I can say I find the attitude shifts at the end highly suspect. (No, no, no, no … well, if it’ll make you happy, feel free to break all social conventions.)
- Characters 3.5/5: There’s a distinct lack of a real antagonist. Cartwright’s more of an annoying gnat since John’s not interested in her at all. There would have been more tension if she had some redeeming qualities and was ever some sort of competition for his affections. Conversely, there might have been more tension if Francesca had a suitor of a suitable class or something besides almost mystical powers over large cats. While interesting, we don’t really see her help little old ladies across the street or anything. What makes her the sweet, innocent protagonist we’re supposed to root for?
- Plot 4/5: It’s kind of hard to predict passage of time in here. The sideplot with the birth of the leopards is neat. I know the story’s not really about John and his occupation, but we don’t really see him do anything at all except visit the zoo this entire book. Also, if he’s really into birds, why doesn’t he speak more about it?
- Cover?? I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but there’s a reason these things matter. The ebook has a decent cover, so why does the audiobook get zip?
- Narration was done well. There’s good variety between the characters.

Conclusion: Definitely fits in the Sweet Regency Romance genre. It’s clean. It’s got some romance.
*I received a free copy. I have chosen to review it. All thoughts are my own.

  • Beds Are for Flowers

  • By: R.K. Gold
  • Narrated by: Julie Hinton
  • Length: 3 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Death was celebrated when the reapers and humans coexisted. Back when the monsters from around The End stayed in their small pocket of existence, only coming out in nightmares and darkness. Ganedyn was paradise and shared its life with its mortal counterpart. Reapers rewarded those at the end of their time on Earth by leading them through the tree in the in-between to an eternity of color, life, and freedom. In return, they would bring tokens back from Ganedyn. Acorns capable of sprouting into an entire forest and flowers capable of curing disease. Everything was in balance. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Theresa Horton on 11-30-18

3/5 Nature Fantasy

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

Reviewed: 11-24-18

Summary: Clarence’s father is dying from some unknown illness. A Reaper comes by every day to see if he’s ready to travel the long road to Ganedyn, which I’m assuming is paradise. Many who travel the road don’t need it. While his mother’s willing to sacrifice years from her life, she doesn’t want the kids, Clarence and Jessi, doing the same. Desperate they resort to different tactics. Jessi sneaks next door and steals a bird from the Neighbor’s garden. That buys a little time. Clarence goes to speak to the neighbor and gets sent on a quest to dislodge the Reaper in the Tree, who’s presence there is pretty much the source of the problem.

Additional Comments:
- World-building (3/5) – A lot of imagination went into creating this bleak, colorless world. Much of the lore is explained fairly naturally, but the worlds don’t make much sense. There’s a normal, mortal world, a paradise, and The End. Part of what bothered me is the naming system or lack thereof. The Neighbor, the Red Reaper, The Reaper in the Tree, etc. I wish they had real names instead of titles. Caggers (sorry about spelling) are fears from one of the worlds creeping into the mortal realm.
- Characters (3.5/5) – Clarence, Wakoba, and Jessi are stereotypical questing kids. Clarence is the one given the quest. Jessi’s his sister, the brave one who carries a bat around. Wakoba’s the timid friend who has to face his fears to fulfill his part of the quest.
- Plot (3/5) – It follows a logical path, but I don’t get a good sense of the world space or time passing. Part of that might be that time in the dark place they travel to (forest?) and nearing the Pit gets skewed. The characters go from one conversation to another talking about what’s happening with little actually happening until the final confrontation.
- It’s 100% kid-friendly.
- Disclaimer – it’s probably more literature-based fantasy than I’m used to. There are probably deep roots of moral lessons in here about taking care of the Earth/world you have, one person making all the difference, and the power of kids. Guess I just look for more direct, sword or bow-wielding action in my fantasy. There are plenty of scythes about because of the Reapers, but there are too many restrictions on them to make for a good old-fashioned fight. (Can’t kill a reaper with his own weapon.)

Conclusion: Fans of RK Gold will probably enjoy this tale. Those who gravitate to Middle Grade literature too might find lots to love within. It reminds me of Treasure: Seed Savers by S. Smith. They’re both books about a world on the brink of collapse due to mismanagement of resources.

*I received a free copy of the audio from the author or narrator. I chose to leave a review. All thoughts are my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Just Like down Home

  • By: Dale Stubbart
  • Narrated by: Duncan Cassidy
  • Length: 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

In this story, Joel September's life is not going that great. He's stuck in a job he really hates, but it pays the bills. But then a crisis happens, one which starts his life flowing in a much better direction. And Joel starts to be aware that very soon his life is going to be just like down home! Tonight Joel had no worries. Things were about to change for the better, he could feel it in his bones. Pretty soon, Joel felt like he was walking on air. It was a wonderful feeling, to feel like you were floating.  

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Odd Story

  • By sci teacher on 08-26-18

Odd Story

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

Reviewed: 08-26-18

Summary: Strange little fantasy story about an English gentleman named Joel September who doesn’t particularly like his job but things are about to change for him.



Additional Comments:

- The blurb pretty much tells the whole story, though I could have sworn the man’s name was Joe in the book I heard.

- Not really sure I know what Joel’s day job is exactly. His night job was a tad better described.


Conclusion: Strange short story.
*I received a free copy from the narrator. I have freely chosen to review. All views are my own.

  • Spend a Year on the Farm

  • Children's Agriculture Books
  • By: Baby Professor
  • Narrated by: Duncan Cassidy
  • Length: 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

Agriculture is a topic not normally discussed in kindergarten or preschool. But if you want your child to learn about how important agriculture is, then this is an audiobook with which to start.  

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Strange

  • By sci teacher on 08-26-18

Strange

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

Reviewed: 08-26-18

Summary: A brief glance at what happens on farms.


Additional Comments:

- Pretty sure the Wikipedia page for farms has more substance and actual information than this book.

- Perhaps this book makes more sense as a picture book.

- I don’t think it even mentions what can be grown or raised on a farm.

- The narrator has a very unique style of reading that suits the book. Lots of ebb and flow to the phrasing.

- I’m fairly certain I’m not in the target audience for the book, but then again, I’m not sure who is. Kids that young probably don’t care about a straight up audio because it lacks the visual piece.


Conclusion: Not my cup of tea, but it’s totally kid safe.


*I received a free copy of the audiobook from the narrator. The choice to review them was my own as are the thoughts herein.*

  • Babble

  • The Cosmic Conspiracy Series, Book 1
  • By: Orrin Jason Bradford
  • Narrated by: Meg Price
  • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

For young Bobbie Cagle, the normal difficulties of growing up are overshadowed by his unique condition. Placed on the spectrum, Bobbie’s inability to communicate normally is misdiagnosed for years as autism and masks the great part in human history that he is destined to play. Unknowingly able to receive transmissions from the farthest reaches of the universe, young Bobbie’s life is forever changed when his unique ability is discovered.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very entertaining :)

  • By Victoria Haugen on 08-27-18

Neat Supernatural Thriller

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

Reviewed: 08-15-18

Summary: A mix of a fantasy and a low-speed chase story. Angela Cagle tries to keep her son safe by running away with him.


Additional Comments:

- Don’t read the book blurb! It actually explains way too much.

- 90% of the story’s about Bobbie and his mother being chased by Homeland security agents and the kid’s distraught, not-entirely-pleasant father. About 10% concerns what’s written on the book blurb. But it’s more fun if it unfolds organically.

- Characters 4/5: Lifelike and sympathetic. You love who you’re supposed to love and hate whom you’re supposed to hate. A few fall in a gray area. There were also a couple of characters whose involvement was so slim and rarely mentioned that it was hard to picture their relevance. (The mysterious man pulling strings for one.)

- Plot 3.5/5: The chase follows some logic. Only a few places of mystical intervention happen to get the players where they’re supposed to be. The Homeland Security agent’s involvement is a huge stretch, but at least it’s addressed a few times.

- Content Warnings: Contains a few curse words and at least one scene I’d consider too adult to label it a “clean” book. Also contains a scene or two of torture.

- Pacing 3/5: It could have unfolded much quicker. The scenes from Bobbie’s point of view, especially those in other lands will charm most people, but I found them distracting and pointless. Perhaps it’s just the fact that I don’t particularly have an affinity for any of the worlds he visited.

- Ending 5/5: Love the wrapup. It leaves room for more but gives one a sense of closure.

Conclusion: Enjoyable if you can deal with the stuff in the content warnings.
*I received a free copy from the author; the choice to review was my own as well as any thoughts contained herein.

  • Dante's Gift

  • A Chicago Christmas, Book 1
  • By: Aubrey Wynne
  • Narrated by: Tom Jordan
  • Length: 3 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33

Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong-until his Nonna calls. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie's life with the news that another woman will be under their roof. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Dante's gift

  • By JEYCEE on 12-07-17

A Worthwhile Romance to Hear

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

Reviewed: 08-15-18

4/5 Dante’s Gift by Aubrey Wynne

Narrated by Tom Jordan

Summary: Two love stories woven into one. Present tale: A girl isn’t quite sure she wants to commit to the perfect guy because his grandmother suddenly becomes a part of the picture. Past tale: An Italian girl meets an America GI in the winddown and aftermath of WWII.

Additional Comments:

- I’m not a huge fan of stories that bounce from the present to the past, but this was pretty well-done.

- Choosing a male narrator for the book is a pretty bold move, but Tom Jordan did a lovely job with it.

- Characters 4/5: They’re pretty well fleshed out, but I don’t remember their names. Dante’s the dog in the past story. That much I remember because the title didn’t make much sense until the last third of the story. I remember liking the BFF of the present day female lead.

- Conflicts 3.5/5: The romantic conflicts aren’t that mind blowing, but they work.

Conclusion: A worthwhile romance to listen to any time.

*I received a free copy of the audiobook, but I have chosen to review it. All thoughts are my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Light: Tales from a Revolution - New Jersey

  • Tales from a Revolution Series, Book 2
  • By: Lars D. H. Hedbor
  • Narrated by: Shamaan Casey
  • Length: 4 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

As a Quaker blacksmith, Robert is used to the challenges of fire and iron, but when the American Revolution splinters his own family and threatens his community, he will wrestle with questions of belief and philosophy. He must rely on his inner light to keep his family safe, and lead them to freedom. The Light is Lars Hedbor's standalone novel set in New Jersey from his Tales From a Revolution series, in which he examines the American War of Independence as it unfolded in each of the colonies. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another great story by Lars D. H. Hebdor

  • By S.E. on 08-05-18

4/5 Nice Glimpse into Revolutionary Times

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

Reviewed: 07-31-18

The Light: Tales from a Revolution New Jersey by Lars D. H. Hedbor

Summary: Robert, a Quaker and a blacksmith, tries to balance his beliefs and the uncertainties of the budding war.



Additional Comments:

- Characters 4.5/5 – The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad. It’s clear cut, but it works.

- Pacing 4/5 – The beginning’s a bit slow, but the middle and the end flow pretty nicely.

- Language/dialect 3/5 – The author uses a lot of “thee” and “thou” to be authentic, but that makes it a lot harder to listen to. You do gain an ear for it, but that takes some time.

- Audio performance 4/5 – The narrator has a nice, deep voice. One can imagine it fitting a guy like Robert very well.

- Although it’s part of a series, I imagine each book stands alone rather well.


Conclusion: Nice glimpse into struggles of the common folk during the revolutionary war.
*Please note that I received a free copy of the audiobook, but the choice to review was mine and the sentiments are purely my opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • It's Only a Clockwork Moon

  • By: Billy O'Shea
  • Narrated by: Billy O'Shea
  • Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 3

In a future Denmark, Karl Nielsen, Royal Clockmaker, is recalled to the Round Tower to design the King's most ambitious project yet - a vehicle to travel into space. The second book in the Kingdom of Clockwork series is a quirky, humorous tale of Nordic monarchs, Irish monks, jazz records, airships, submarines, spacecraft, and conspiracies.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • First book was much better

  • By Georgia McNabb on 09-24-18

Weird Twist on the Future Continues

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

*Mild spoilers possible in the discussion*

Summary: Karl Nielsen struggles to make ends meat fixing clocks in the countryside. So, when the king calls him back into service, he sort of has no choice but to take the job to deal with some debt that has accumulated over time. Meanwhile, there’s a separate storyline with some monks on a dangerous mission.

Additional Comments:

- This is a sequel to Kingdom of Clockwork, but it can be listened to on its own. Hearing the first will give you some background into Karl and his family though.

- Characters 4/5: Christopher’s a bit of a screwup when it comes to being a monk, but I’m guessing he’s there as comic relief. Brother Joe has some cool inventions. Karl’s a good character because he’s not perfect. He’s not a world class fighter. He’s a clockmaker, an ordinary guy trying to make it in a world gone mad.

- Plot 4/5: Following the two different storylines is a tad disorienting because half is told in first person and half is third. That’s a find technique, but probably easier to take in when written down. I’m not entirely clear on the monks’ top-secret mission. Karl’s just trying to make it. The kingdom’s in a bit of turmoil, the queen doesn’t particularly like him, and the king’s plans are a tad eccentric. The king demands Karl make several things, including a machine that can reach space and a giant clock.

- Narration 4/5: The author/narrator knows his story best. He performs the singing parts with gusto.

- World-building 4.5/5: Most of the heavy lifting for world-building was accomplished in book 1 of the series, but there is enough information for newcomers to jump in.

Conclusion: Whether you have read/heard Kingdom of Clockwork or not, if you are a fan of steampunk, you should give the series a chance. It’s one of those rare futuristic books that don’t just turn everything high tech, it moves up backwards to something well out of the dark ages but still steeped in fantasy charm.

*I was freely given a copy of the audiobook and I chose to review it.*

  • The Case of the Missing Crown Jewels

  • By: Robert Martin, Keira Ely
  • Narrated by: Erin Rieman, Richard Rieman
  • Length: 2 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

Twelve-year-old Keira discovers a hat floating on the Long Island Sound. When she puts it on, weird, wacky, and wonderful things happen. Little does she know she will soon be on a secret assignment thousands of miles away from the sandy shores she knows and loves to the heart of London.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Mystery for kids of all ages.

  • By cosmitron on 06-07-18

Nicely Delivered Kid Story

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

Summary: Keira finds a magic hat that gives her access to knowledge she might not have otherwise. She forms a detective agency with her grandfather (whom she calls Papa). They’re called upon to discover who stole the crown jewels of England.


Additional Comments:

- I heard the audioversion, so some of my spellings might be a tad off.

- Narration 4.5/5: Very nice. It’s nice to have the male/female parts largely divided between the two narrators. The mother sounded a tad too formal, but Keira’s voice was excellent as were most of the British characters.

- Characters 3/5: Keira and Papa and Commish are fine characters. They’re a tad stock but in a tale of this size and breadth, that’s fitting. You want your girl detective to be super smart and always wind up on top. That’s part of the charm of girl detective stories. I know Waffles is supposed to be comic relief, but he’s usually just a nuisance. (Question the validity of such a genre? Nancy Drew’s survived quite a few decades as an ace detective.)

- Plot 2.5/5: Nonsensical at best. I get this is a kid’s book, but that doesn’t mean it should lack all sense. The crown jewels get stolen and they turn to a kid with a magic hat for the answers? They seem overly concerned with finding footprints at the crime scene.

- World-building 2/5: The magic hat’s powers aren’t really well-defined. Sometimes, it seems all powerful, in which case they should have just asked it “hey, who stole the jewels and how do we catch them?” At other times, it gets broken then repaired with duct tape. Magic in a kid’s story is fine, but there should still be an established system of why it works the way it does. Spy and detective are used pretty much interchangeably here, which is annoying because they’re way different jobs. Keira and her grandfather form a detective agency, but she repeatedly refers to what they do as spying, which simply isn’t true. It’s an investigation. The doll angle is kind of cool.

Conclusion: If you’re very good at suspending disbelief and just looking for some mindless kid charm, this is a decent choice. It’s very well-presented, even if the story is somewhat lacking in sense.


*I was freely given a copy of the audiobook and I chose to review it.*

  • Stealing Liberty

  • By: Jennifer Froelich
  • Narrated by: Laurie Lane
  • Length: 14 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship - especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him. But when Reed, Riley, and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the government that has risen in its place. Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great story and cautionary tale

  • By Kathy S on 06-27-18

Comfortably sits in Dystopian Teen Drama Section

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

Reviewed: 07-22-18

*Mild spoilers possible in the discussion*
Stealing Liberty 4.25/5 by Jennifer Froleich (narrated by Laurie Lane)
Summary: Reed Paine and Riley Paca end up at a re-education camp for children of enemies of the State. Fate or fortune places them with a group of misfits, including Sam, Oliver, Adam, Paisley/Marie, and one other girl. Although the relationships do a fair amount of shifting, they become good friends willing to risk a lot for each other.

Additional Comments:
- Characters 4/5 – There are quite a few characters and a lot of setup. They’re fairly well-developed on the protagonist side with thorough backstories, but the villains are a tad lacking. The two teen brutes are forgettable. I do like Wanda. Totally blanking on her last name, but she’s an odd mix of mildly sadistic and control freakish.
- Narration 4/5 – You can definitely tell male from female narrative sections, but it’s sometimes harder to tell which teenager is which based on voice alone. The voice for Wanda was amazing though (controlled, measured, chilling). To be fair, there are like 7 MCs with distinct first person sections written about them.
- Plot 3.5/5 – The plan to steal the liberty bell is okay, but I’m with one of the characters who basically says “what’s the point”? The other half of their plan makes a lot of sense. Aside from billing this as a “stealing liberty” book, which is quite obviously going to have sequels, it’s a really big stretch that these kids would feel the need to steal the liberty bell.
- Pacing 2/5 – There’s a LOT of setup. That slows the work down significantly, to the point of a snail’s crawl.
- Worldbuilding 3.5/5 – Much like any dystopian future where liberty is severely restricted in the name of order and peace, the protagonists must figure out what’s right on their own. It’s a tad like any school-based drama. You can see this school being in the world of the Hunger Games.
- Ending/sense of closure 5/5 – There’s actually a lot of room to continue the story, but it reaches a good stopping point where one could have a semi-happily ever after stamped on it and feel fulfilled. The lead up to the end where they’re blundering about a bit is less impressive, but still, at least you reach some closure.

Conclusion: Fits comfortably in the dystopian teen drama genre. If that’s you’re thing, you’ll probably be satisfied.

*I was freely given a copy of the audiobook and I chose to review it.*