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Shawscribbles

  • 38
  • reviews
  • 25
  • helpful votes
  • 55
  • ratings
  • Church of Marvels

  • By: Leslie Parry
  • Narrated by: Denice Stradling
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

On a single night, three strangers' lives will become irrevocably entwined as secrets come to light and outsiders struggle for acceptance. From the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, from a spectacular sideshow to a desolate asylum, Leslie Parry makes turn-of-the-century New York feel alive, vivid, and magical in this luminous debut.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • HIghly Recommend!

  • By Shawscribbles on 09-06-18

HIghly Recommend!

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

Reviewed: 09-06-18

This is very unique and unusual tale. Shifting points of view through a myriad of characters, Parry tells a story full of mystery and intrigue centred upon a circus family.

Odile and Belle are the twins daughters of the mother who started the Church of Marvels, a Coney Island sideshow. And they are both performers in her show. But when an accidental fire destroys the Church of Marvels, killing their mother, her beloved tigers, and the girls' childhood friends, Belle packs up and leaves while Odile is left to cope with the details.

After a mysterious letter arrives for Odile, she goes in search of her sister, unsure of what she will find. At the same time, Sylvan - a nightsoiler - finds a baby girl from a privvy he is cleaning out. The infant appears dead but revives after a few minutes. Unable to simply drop her at an orphanage, he sneaks her home and starts the search for her family, certain that no mother could abandon a baby like that.

What follows is a surprising action-packed adventure. The pacing in this book is perfect. And the characters are fully developed individuals with their own unique perspectives on what is happening in their lives. Parry doesn't shy away from difficult subjects and approaches them with a clear and authentic voice. The intertwining of narratives and the interconnectedness of the plotlines are brought together masterfully in the finale.

The only weakness in this novel is its dark tone. This is not a happily-ever-after, feel good novel. But that's what makes it so real.

  • Twist of the Blade

  • The Shards of Excalibur, Book 2
  • By: Edward Willett
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Klett
  • Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6

Having saved the first Shard of the sword Excalibur from Internet mogul Rex Major (aka Merlin), Ariane and Wally are on the lookout for the second. Wally is worried that the power of the first Shard is already changing Ariane, giving her the strength to do good and evil, and when she badly injures his bullying sister, Flish, it seems he’s right. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More great adventure, but lots more conflict.

  • By Carol on 07-21-18

Great second book in this series!

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

Reviewed: 08-18-18

This is the second Shards of Excalibur book I’ve read. I love the premise of this series – a female protagonist on the quest for the lost pieces of the famous sword. Ariane has been given her mission by the Lady of the Lake and in this incarnation the Lady’s brother is the evil Merlin. Wally, Ariane’s best friend and sidekick, is ever faithful but in the second book in the series things begin to change.

First, Ariane is more impulsive and aggressive in this book than the first installment of the series. She knows who she is now and isn’t going to let the school bullies push her around any longer (even if the leader of the bullies is Wally’s older sister). When the girls don’t back off, they find themselves in the hospital.

Wally, on the other hand, is starting to have his doubts about Ariane. She is still his best friend and it is obvious he loves her but she also put his sister in the hospital. Merlin, seeing something of Arthur in Wally, manipulates the doubt Wally has to sway him away from Ariane.

When Ariane locates the second shard of Excalibur (in rural France) the only way she can travel there is through the clouds … and she can’t take Wally with her. Wally must travel the traditional way via airplane. Seeing the two separated, Merlin doesn’t miss his chance and moves in to convince Wally that for Ariane’s own safety, he must help Merlin.

I’ve said before that the second book in a YA series is often the make or break book. Following up a strong debut novel in a series is difficult and many authors struggle with it. But Edward Willett comes through with Twist of the Blade. This was a fast paced, entertaining second book in this series, which also incorporated character development and a depth to the story that was missing in Book 1.

Twist of the Blade ends with the perfect cliffhanger … Ariane is alone at the end of the book making decisions as to her future course of action. Wally, meanwhile, is with Merlin in Toronto. I can’t wait to see what is in store for our young characters in Book 3.

  • Kinship of Clover

  • By: Ellen Meeropol
  • Narrated by: Mary Beth Garber
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A deep and moving narrative!

  • By Shawscribbles on 08-12-18

A deep and moving narrative!

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

Ellen Meeropol's Kinship of Clover is a book that is far more than the blurb (cited above) reveals. Told from a variety of characters' points of view, this book touches on complex real topics. Kinship of Clover is a deep and moving narrative that engages the reader from start to finish.

Jeremy, the character described in the blurb, is only one of several main characters. There is Zoe, a 17-year old girl tied to her wheelchair due to her spina bifida, whose intellect and passion infuses the pages. Then there is Flo, Zoe's former activist grandmother, who is struggling with the terrifying experience of losing her memories, her freedom, and her life to her rapidly progressing Alzheimer's. And there is Zoe's father, Sam, who is coming to terms with his mother's declining health while watching his only child fall in love and dealing with his own pervasive loneliness.

The strengths of this novel are twofold. First, the character development is truly masterful. Meeropol draws the reader into the lives and minds of not just one character but a whole cast. One can't help relating to the heartbreak of Flo's memory loss and declining health or the excitement of Zoe's first romance. If the book just stopped at a cast of well developed characters, it would be good but would not come close to the depth Kinship of Clover reaches. The second successful ingredient that makes this book outstanding is Meeropol's willingness to touch on rarely discussed topics, especially when put together in one text. The real challenges of mental illness, environmentalism, living with a complex disability, dementia, activism, interracial relationships, parenting, and family dynamics are discussed in an authentic and powerful manner.

This was the type of book that keep you thinking long after you finish it and make you want to go back and read it again. I highly recommend it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Song of the Sword

  • Shards of Excalibur, Book 1
  • By: Edward Willett
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Klett
  • Length: 6 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 16

Ariane's life is complicated. Her mother suddenly disappeared two and a half years ago, she's trying to get used to living with her aunt after bouncing around a series of foster homes, and she's taking a lot of grief from the clique of "in" girls at school. To make matters even worse, now she's having strange dreams involving swords and knights and battles, and things seem to get weird whenever she touches water. Next thing she knows, she's been sent on a quest to find the five scattered shards of Excalibur.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fantastic adventure ... and it's only the start!

  • By Carol on 04-19-18

Awesome New Young Adult Adventure

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

Reviewed: 07-13-18

When the author contacted me to see if I would review the audio version of this book, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. But I was pleasantly surprised with this young adult spin on the King Arthur legend.

As the blurb notes, the protagonist in this book is Ariana, a girl who has had a rough start to her life. Her father is not in the picture, her mother mysterious disappeared years earlier, she was then placed in foster care because her aunt had been going through cancer treatment. Now her aunt is well and able to care for her, she finds herself in a new school that is ruled by a group of mean girls who have singled her out to be bullied. When she fights back she finds herself suspended. Then things take an interesting twist.

Ariana befriends Wally, and unexpected nerdy sidekick, who looks younger than he is. Wally is still waiting impatiently for his adolescent growth spurt to kick in. As they both try to evade Wally's older sister (ringleader of the mean girls), they find themselves in the woods where they encounter a supernatural presence who identifies as The Lady of the Lake and who claims Ariana is her heir. She then tasks them both with a quest to find the broken pieces of Excalibur before the evil Merlin can do so.

This was the type of book my kids would have loved when they were younger. The characters are believable and real, the story is full of adventure and danger, and the re-imagining of the Arthur legend is entertaining. In addition, Willett has set his series in Canada, which was a nice bonus to the book. Song of the Sword has a Harry Potter-like feel to it. Willett has a real gift for capturing the young adult voice.

I really enjoyed this novel. I'm looking forward to seeing where Ariana and Wally go on their next adventure in Book 2.

  • On Hurricane Island

  • By: Ellen Meeropol
  • Narrated by: Mary Beth Garber
  • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

As a major hurricane threatens the northeast, math professor Gandalf Cohen is abducted by federal agents and flown to a secret interrogation center off the coast of Maine. Austin Coombs, a young local resident, is a newly hired civilian guard assigned to the detention center. Henry Ames, a man of personal secrets, is the FBI special agent in charge of Gandalf's case and doubts the professor's terrorist involvement; Tobias, his second-in-command, disagrees, preferring violent interrogation. As the hurricane slams the shore, conflict detonates and each character must choose a side.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Terror on Hurricane Island

  • By Shawscribbles on 07-09-18

Terror on Hurricane Island

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

Reviewed: 07-09-18

Hurricane Island is the location of a detention centre in Maine, where US citizens suspected of terrorism are taken. As one of the largest hurricanes in recent history bears down on the island, a storm of another kind is taking place inside the facility.

I'm not usually a big suspense novel fan and I wasn't sure about this novel when I started it. First, one of the main characters is a woman named Gandalf. I am a huge LOTR fan so I wasn't really taken with the naming of the character but I went with it. This story is told from the POVs of several main characters. Meeropol does a good job of shifting between characters without disrupting the flow of the story. And the characters themselves are quite well developed, although at times stereotypical, particularly the male characters in the story (Henry Ames and evil Tobias).

The suspense and pacing of the novel are its greatest strengths. Meeropol has a intrinsic gift for knowing when to jump to another storyline and keep the reader engaged. This makes for a relatively fast read (or listen if you prefer the audiobook version of the novel, which I listened to). In addition, there is the mystery of Austin's great-great grandmother. A family secret that is linked to old letters she steals and a hidden cave on Hurricane Island. While not directly involved with the main plot of the story, this subplot adding a richness and depth to the book.

I mentioned the stereotypical male characters already. The antagonist in the book, Tobias, is almost too evil. A man who is determined to climb the ladder of power, he also is obsessed with interrogation methods, torture, and at the same time is lusting after young Austin. While any one of those things could have made Tobias an effective "bad guy," throwing them all into one character was a bit much. Henry Ames is more developed. While he hides a proclivity for women's clothing and a suspected heart condition, overall he is a likeable character.

Without giving away any spoilers, I did find the climax of the story built well to a satisfying finale. However, the actual ending of the book seemed a bit abrupt. Perhaps it was the narration of the audiobook but I actually said aloud "Oh, that's the end?"

Overall I would recommend this novel. I enjoyed the storyline and the characters and will be checking out more Ellen Meeropol novels in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Smoke Thieves

  • By: Sally Green
  • Narrated by: Charlie Anson, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Yasmin Paige, and others
  • Length: 13 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

A princess, a traitor, a soldier, a hunter and a thief. Five teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Five nations destined for conflict. As alliances shift and shatter and old certainties are overturned, our five heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing

  • By -shanah- on 05-08-18

Great start to a new fantasy series

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

Reviewed: 07-04-18

The Smoke Thieves is an epic fantasy novel that is told from multiple points of view. Set in a land with multiple kingdoms, the story line follows five main characters' stories, all of which will converge on a battlefield at the end of the novel. Filled with royalty, thieves, mystery, and magic, The Smoke Thieves, seems to have it all but can it stand up to the hype?

If you are not a fan of epic fantasy novels, you shouldn't attempt this book. For me, who has read LOTR, Robert Jordan and Brooks' Shannara series since adolescence, epic fantasies are a favourite genre (hence my own Marked Ones series). Green definitely is attempting a Game of Thrones feel in this young adult novel. The story opens with Tash, a tiny 13-year old demon hunter, who has an attitude larger than her stature and a fetish for boots. Her feisty personality pulls the reader right into the story.

Princess Catherine, soon to be married to a prince in a far off land, is another character that drew me in. Green does a good job of developing strong female characters. However, the princess's conflicted love interests started to feel a little cliched to me as the novel progressed. I liked Catherine best when she was pursuing her role as a future queen rather than as a future wife or lover.

And another positive was the budding relationship between Eydon and March, one a bastard who doesn't know who his father is and the other the son of a destroyed nation who has acted as a servant to the prince who destroyed his life. Their growing love seemed to an underdeveloped plotline in the story that, perhaps, Green will further develop in Book 2.

With all these positives, I did find some parts of the novel awkward and difficult to follow. First, having five different points of view, which is fairly typical in high fantasy, was frustrating for me at times. When done right, the reader follows one character's POV to a cliffhanger and then is thrust into another story line with the original one left on pause. This is an effective tool for moving the story forward and the reader understands (if only subconsciously) that these different threads will come together at the climax of the book or series. In The Smoke Thieves, however, the sudden shifts in POV left me irritated.

The second weakness was the incorporation of graphic violent scenes. This is where the Game of Thrones mimicking became most apparent. While Green is attempting to illustrate how cruel Catherine's father is, the descriptions of his victims and their untimely ends really seemed forced at times.

Overall, I enjoyed The Smoke Thieves and am looking forward to seeing where the story goes in Book 2. The climatic ending of Book 1, leads me to believe that Princess Catherine and Tash will both further develop as strong main characters as the series continues and I'm eager to read the next installment.

  • Bob

  • By: Tegon Maus
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cook
  • Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10

Sent to do a fluff piece about lights in the night sky over Arizona, Peter discovers far more than he ever expected when he comes across a mysterious young woman held prisoner in a basement. After helping her escape, she disappears before he can learn the truth about who she is or where she came from. His search for her leads him back to the lights in the sky and leaves him with more questions than answers. The only thing he knows for certain...the only thing he can count on are the two words offered repeatedly by his friend and guide: "is belt."

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Is Ok, Bob have cousin!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 09-01-17

A fun read!

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

Reviewed: 06-30-18

I was asked to review this by the author. When I first started the book, I wasn't sure what to think. It is very different from anything I've reviewed lately. In fact, I would say that's one of the strengths of Bob: its uniqueness. But at times the story line seemed a bit too forced. I'm not sure I would have stuck with the entire book except ... the strange and funny characters kept me reading to the end. I was eager to find out what they would do next.

There are plenty of twists and turns in Peter Anderson's adventure. But the biggest one comes at the end of the book. The reader is left wondering what is truth and what is fiction. A fun read!

  • Reign the Earth

  • By: A.C. Gaughen
  • Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
  • Length: 14 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate to end the violence. Willing to trade her freedom for peace, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bone Lands, a country where magic is outlawed and the Elementae - those that can control earth, air, fire, and water - are traitors subject to torture...or worse. Before she is even crowned, Shalia discovers that she can bend the earth to her will. Trapped between her husband's irrational hatred of the Elementae and a dangerous rebellion led by her own brother, Shalia's only chance to survive is to harness her power and make an impossible choice: save her family, save the Elementae, or save herself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A nice start to a new series ...

  • By Shawscribbles on 06-30-18

A nice start to a new series ...

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

Reviewed: 06-30-18

An arranged marriage to save her family's lives is not the stage for a successful relationship. But that is the position Shalia finds herself in when Reign the Earth opens. While her new husband is not hideous, he's also not what she had hoped for in her heart. Immersed in culture shock, she faces another hurdle when her own magical abilities begin to emerge. Knowing she must hide those powers from her new husband for her own safety, she finds herself in the middle of a rebellion, stuck between the marriage she agreed to and her true feelings. A further complication is the fact that her new husband's brother is too available and easy for her to talk to. As her feelings for her brother-in-law grow, her husband's irrational hatred of her people also grows. It soon becomes obvious that Shalia can't hide her powers (or her feelings) any longer.

I really enjoyed this book by A.C. Gaughen. Fast paced and filled with adventure and danger, it was an easy read and a nice opening book to a new series. I'll be looking for the next book when it is released.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Learn French

  • Fast Foreign Language Study with Hypnosis, Meditation, and Affirmations (The Sleep Learning System)
  • By: Joel Thielke
  • Narrated by: Joel Thielke
  • Length: 3 hrs and 41 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars 19

Open your mind and develop better study habits to learn French. Improve your focus and dedication to learning foreign languages. Learn French faster today with this guided meditation and relaxation program from certified hypnotherapist, Joel Thielke. It's as easy as turning on the tracks and falling asleep! The Sleep Learning System is specially designed to work with your subconscious mind during your sleep cycle.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • DO NOT PURCHASE THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE

  • By Max Palmer on 12-28-14

SCAM - Audible should not carry this

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

Reviewed: 06-13-18

Very disappointing. NOT what was advertised. Audible should not carry this kind of product. If you want to learn French chose one of their other Innovative Language Learning series, which ACTUALLY will help you learn. This product is misleading and a waste of money and time!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Queen's Rising

  • By: Rebecca Ross
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Elise Freeman
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 128

Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions - art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge - Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna's greatest fear comes true - she is left without a patron. But months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Marvelous

  • By Carolyn Myers on 02-07-18

Highly Recommend!

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

Reviewed: 05-20-18

An epic adventure featuring a strong female protagonist - I really enjoyed this read. Brienna has never known her father. Her mother died when she was young and her protective grandfather hid her away with in a passion house to keep her safe from the father she never knew.

As Brienna cycles through the different passions, failing at all, she finally settles on knowledge. But as her classmates find patrons and leave her, Brienna is left at the passion house until ... her mistress discovers that Brienna is the key to the return of the ruling Queens to Maevana, a land that has suffered through King's rule for generations. While Brienna does not possess magical royal blood, her role in the return of female rule to her father's land is integral.

This book has everything: a strong protagonist that you can't help loving, a wide array of side characters, adventure, mystery, romance, and danger. And the bonus is that the story ends beautifully with real closure. Highly recommend!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful