LISTENER

Elyse Becker

Fairfax, Virginia
  • 14
  • reviews
  • 34
  • helpful votes
  • 14
  • ratings
  • 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 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12

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

A Quaker Blacksmith during the Revolution

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

Reviewed: 07-24-18

Narrator Shamaan Casey is in the right business! He has a magnificent bass voice, and he uses it wisely. Many male narrators use a weird falsetto for female characters, but Casey changes his voice just enough to distinguish characters without sounding silly. Likewise, he imbues his voice with emotion without going over-the-top melodramatic.

As to the content of this novel, however, my reaction was basically "meh." I found it hard to get into, partly because of the way it was organized. We begin with Peter Harris, but the main character is his son, Robert. It's not until Chapter 2 that the author reveals that Robert has a wife and daughter - up to that point, I was picturing him in his late teens. I never really connected with any of the characters. This is a "home front" take on the Revolution, which I guess I should have expected with a Quaker protagonist, but without much involvement of female characters. I liked the Author's Note at the end better than the actual plot.

I would happily listen to another book narrated by Shamaan Casey, but I can't honestly say "It's great" about the overall experience, so I can't give this more than three stars.

I was provided a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lost Plantations of the South

  • By: Marc R. Matrana
  • Narrated by: John Burlinson
  • Length: 17 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Lost Plantations of the South explores the root causes of demise and provides understanding and insight on how lessons learned in these sad losses can help prevent future preservation crises. Capturing the voices of masters and mistresses alongside those of slaves, this book explores the powerful and complex histories of these cardinal homes across the South.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lost Plantations ... AND their long lost stories!

  • By Polly Poizendem on 12-31-17

A Fascinating Exploration of America's History

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

Reviewed: 01-26-18

This book describes at least one lost plantation from each Southern state, and the narrator's accent is appropriately Southern. Some of these impressive and significant buildings were lost to natural disasters, such as hurricanes; a distressing number were lost to arson; some are now submerged beneath man-made lakes; and some simply decayed because of neglect. Many of these structures survived into the late 20th century before succumbing.

I was worried that this might be a "moonlight and magnolias" account of the South which ignored the sufferings and contributions of the plantations' enslaved workers. Happily, that was not the case. The author uses primary documents to give glimpses into life on these plantations, much of it vivid and fascinating. The amount of scholarship that went into this work is pretty astounding, and I appreciated the author's mention of other works so that the listener can find out more about the sites in particular areas.

I decided not to give the "story" 5 stars because I did think there were some bits that were unnecessary or went on too long, accounts that have been ably told elsewhere (about Fanny Kemble, for example). But then, I have been studying the American South for about two decades now. If a listener is just beginning to explore this region, (s)he will probably enjoy those bits.

In addition, only listening to this book doesn't do it justice. While the author describes the elaborate lost mansions, it's hard for the listener to really visualize them without seeing the photographs, paintings, and floor plans included in the ebook and print versions. But then, I would probably not have discovered this book without the audiobook, and I certainly wouldn't have "read" the whole thing. Each format has its advantages.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Keeping a Backyard Horse

  • By: Marguerite "Markie" Madden
  • Narrated by: Barbara Colvin
  • Length: 1 hr and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Hay is for horses! Everyone knows that, but do you know how much hay they need? Or how much water? Did you know your horse can talk to you with his ears? Or that he can sleep standing up? Follow along with Athena the horse as she explains the basics of keeping a horse in your backyard. She'll teach you the basic necessities of caring for your equine friend, from what kind of fencing you can use, to tips and tricks for keeping water thawed in winter weather, and even fun stuff you can do with your horse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Doesn't Everyone Want a Horse?

  • By Peggy M. on 03-05-15

A Great Primer on Horse Care

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

Reviewed: 01-21-18

Provides exactly what it promises! As the cover image of the horse in the fly mask indicates, this isn't a children's tale about how horses are special but a practical guide about selecting and caring for a horse. However, in the tradition of Black Beauty, this book is told from the point-of-view of a horse. As such, the narrator uses a rather cartoony voice. At first, this seemed a bit silly, but I soon grew fond of it. This book is well-organized and full of great information.

I am not the intended audience for this book, I suppose - I do not and likely will never own a flesh-and-blood horse. I am a historical novelist, and I am trying to expand my horsey knowledge. So for my purposes, many of the details here (current hay prices, vaccines) didn't apply. But the general principles did.

You can tell Markie loves horses and wants the best for them. Athena (her horse, our narrator) is a lucky girl.

I received this audiobook for free in exchange for an honest review.

  • The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon

  • By: Linda Ballou
  • Narrated by: Scott Glennon
  • Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, are about to capture the World Cup when a nasty fall dashes their chances. While she is mending, her arch rival seizes this opportunity to catch a ride on Marshal, and to seduce her young husband. Confused and dazed by her new circumstances, Gemcie heads for the high Sierras hoping the majestic spires that captured the heart of the father she never met will provide the answers she seeks. She finds strength and solace riding solo on the John Muir Trail, but a bear attack ends her time of introspection.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Ride That I Wouldn't Mind Taking More Than Once

  • By ElyLibrarySec on 07-17-18

I Enjoyed This, And I'm Picky

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

Reviewed: 11-17-17

As an author myself, I feel bad leaving less than stellar reviews. But while I enjoyed this, I can't rave about it. Then again, I'm very picky.

What I didn't like:

The narrator mispronounced some words. Not place names, just somewhat unusual dictionary words. Also his emphasis sounded off at first, but after he settled in he was pleasant to listen to.

The story had a couple elements that strained credulity, such as a deus ex machina check that arrives in the mail. Granted, the title was inspired by a children's rhyme, but most of the story is based in reality. Also the story's pacing could be slow at times.

Horror of horrors, there are scenes with no horses! That's because this is Gemcie's story. I realize this is not a fair criticism, but I did find myself wanting even more horse content.

What I did like:

The horse scenes, of course! Finally a novel involving horses that's not about racing! I most enjoyed the trail ride parts.

Vivid descriptions of nature and wildlife. The listener gets a vacation in the mountains.

Brady's job was interesting. I liked Brady in general, till the contrived spat near the end

Humorous bits

(I received this audiobook for free in exchange for an honest review.)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Standing Stones

  • By: Beth Camp
  • Narrated by: Darryl Hughes Kurylo
  • Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

In 19th-century northern Scotland, Mac McDonnell's traditional way of life is challenged when Lord Gordon lays claim to their island home and threatens to replace farmers and fishermen with sheep. Mac leads a protest, but when evictions turn violent, Mac must decide what he is willing to risk - to protect his family, his sweetheart, Deidre, and his livelihood.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 19th Century Scotland Comes Alive

  • By Elyse Becker on 05-24-17

19th Century Scotland Comes Alive

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

Reviewed: 05-24-17

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I would've liked a family tree in the Kindle edition. I had trouble keeping track of how the characters were related or romantically linked. This is even harder in an audiobook when you can't easily flip back.

Would you be willing to try another book from Beth Camp? Why or why not?

Yes. She's magnificent at setting, at recreating the daily lives or her characters, whether they're fishing or in prison.

Would you be willing to try another one of Darryl Hughes Kurylo’s performances?

Maybe. He mispronounced Edinburgh, and the falsetto voice he used for many of the female characters bordered on comical. I do think he improved as the recording went on, as if he gained confidence.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Absolutely. It would be a lovely film, or terrible in the terrible parts!

Any additional comments?

I liked the way Beth gave us the perspective of Lord Gordon and especially his wife Alice, whom I liked, as well as the Scottish tenants.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Love That Never Tires

  • Linley & Patrick, Book 1
  • By: Allyson Jeleyne
  • Narrated by: John Rayment
  • Length: 11 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

Linley Talbot-Martin is a girl who likes to get her hands dirty. As the daughter of a famous archaeologist, she's been everywhere and seen everything--except London. But when the time comes to trade her jodhpurs and work boots for silk gowns and kid gloves, she may be in over her head. Even though she can out-ride, out-shoot, and outsmart any girl in London society, Linley is destined to be the failure of the season. No one she meets cares about ancient pottery or lost Buddhist texts, and fundraising efforts for future expeditions keep coming up short.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Love that Never Tires

  • By Amazon Customer on 09-04-16

See the World with Linley & Patrick!

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

Reviewed: 01-14-17

Would you consider the audio edition of A Love That Never Tires to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print, but I think John Rayment's lovely English accent enhances the story.

What did you like best about this story?

The heroine. She's independent without being annoying. It's hard to explain, but in Jeleyne's hands, things I've read in other romance novels seem fresh instead of clichéd.

Which scene was your favorite?

The sexy parts. ;) But seriously, it was all enjoyable. Except for the race to save Linley's life, which was both awful and amazing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

He'll Go to the Ends of the Earth for Her...Literally!

Any additional comments?

Allyson Jeleyne does a wonderful job bringing to life the early 1900s and her far-flung settings (Morocco, London, & India). She's simply a great writer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sister of Mine

  • A Novel
  • By: Sabra Waldfogel
  • Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 17 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,978
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,825
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,817

When two Union soldiers stumble onto a plantation in northern Georgia on a warm May day in 1864, the last thing they expect is to see the Union flag flying high - or to be greeted by a group of freed slaves and their Jewish mistress. Little do they know that this place has an unusual history. Twelve years prior, Adelaide Mannheim - daughter of Mordecai, the only Jewish planter in the county - was given her own maid, a young slave named Rachel. The two became friends, and soon they discovered a secret.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Must Read

  • By M. Ryder on 06-20-16

Moral Complexity and Compelling Characters

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

Reviewed: 08-27-16

If you could sum up Sister of Mine in three words, what would they be?

complex, compelling, sympathetic

What other book might you compare Sister of Mine to and why?

It shares a concept with Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift (which is also very good): two half-sisters, one a slave owner and the other her slave. But here, the slave owners are Jewish, a people with a history of enslavement themselves. This gave Ms. Waldfogel's story additional real-life gravitas.

Which scene was your favorite?

When a certain character came home from the war because I rejoiced for the reunited couple.

Who was the most memorable character of Sister of Mine and why?

Rachel. Legally she is a slave, but she remains her own woman, uncowed by the terrible system in which she lives.

Any additional comments?

Bahni Turpin was excellent as always!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Simple Jess

  • By: Pamela Morsi
  • Narrated by: Kevin Clay
  • Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 40

The last thing widow Althea Winsloe wanted to do was remarry. Unfortunately, her meddlesome mountain neighbors had other plans. So, one autumn night they banded together and gave Althea a shocking ultimatum: she was to find herself a husband by Christmas...or the town would do it for her! Althea knew she had her choice of any single man in Marrying Stone, Arkansas. Yet the only one she felt truly comfortable with was Simple Jess. Sweet, gentle Jess wasn't as smart as your average man.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Captivating romantic historical fiction!

  • By Diana in SC on 12-17-15

A Good Man in a Small Town

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

Reviewed: 11-03-15

What did you like best about Simple Jess? What did you like least?

I'm really tired of romance novels set in Regency London with rakish heroes. Simple Jess was a welcome change of pace.
However, this was also its downfall! Hillbillies aren't that romantic, and I'd characterize the townsfolk as hillbillies. Also I have to admit that Jess's disability had a "squick" factor for me. I have a severely autistic brother, and even though Jess is MUCH higher functioning, and might not be autistic at all, I kept thinking of my brother when I pictured him--again, not very conducive to romantic thoughts!
But if you know what you're in for, and you like a kind and gentle romance, I think you'd enjoy this book.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The final couple scenes didn't feature our heroine and hero but headed off in another direction. This was my main complaint. I wanted a tighter focus on Althea and Jess. I wasn't all that interested in or fond of the secondary characters, and I thought we spent too much time with them--in particular, I could happily have done without the secondary couple's sex scenes.

What about Kevin Clay’s performance did you like?

He was a pleasure to listen to. He's found that "sweet spot" of distinguishing the voices of each character but not overdoing it. It was convincing and seemingly effortless, which is the mark of a great narrator!

Do you think Simple Jess needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I'm pretty sure it has one. This is part of a series. I haven't read any of the other books. I'm sure I would have gotten more out of Simple Jess if I'd read the lead-in book. I'd like to hear how Althea and Jess are doing say a year later.

Any additional comments?

This audiobook was provided by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Sapphire Brooch

  • The Celtic Brooch, Book 3
  • By: Katherine Lowry Logan
  • Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
  • Length: 22 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 968
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 890
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 896

Reenactor Dr. Charlotte Mallory has spent years perfecting the portrayal of her ancestor, Civil War Confederate surgeon Major Carlton Mallory. In the middle of the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, she is hurled back in time and lands in the middle of the battle itself, and from there is catapulted into dangers that threaten her life and shatter her heart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One HUGE adventure...

  • By Terri on 10-26-15

What If You Could Change History?

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

Reviewed: 11-03-15

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes and no. This book was longer than it needs to be. The pacing is rather slow, and some bits are repetitive--although many of those were summarizing events from the first book in the trilogy. If you're coming to this with no knowledge of Volume 1, then of course you wouldn't have my reaction. I love the concept here, but the author could have used a good editor to tighten up the story. The last "act" (focused on the heroine's brother) feels kind of tacked on, like this is two books stitched together rather than a cohesive whole.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I think Katherine Lowry Logan and I have been communicating through our dreams. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote a novella about a time traveller going back to try and stop Lincoln's assassination. I've also been to the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek reenactment. I've been to the Willard Hotel...the eerie coincidences go on! So it felt like this novel was written just for me. The story is full of awesome ideas, and it was fun to see them play out.
However, I was underwhelmed by our modern heroine's reasons for wanting to let the Lincoln assassination happen. Her thinking is: If Lincoln had never been assassinated, he would be forgotten today. I'm a student of Civil War era/ Lincoln history, and I don't think that's true. He might not be QUITE so famous, but he did plenty worth remembering--and even if there weren't a Lincoln Monument, that's hardly a good reason to let a good man die. In fact, that good man might have done a great deal more for this country had he lived, such as designing a better Reconstruction. This possibility is never discussed. The old "butterfly effect" caution against altering past events would have worked for me, but "he wouldn't be immortal" struck me as a weak argument.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Teri Schnaubelt?

Yep! I remember I wasn't convinced by her Scottish accent in Volume 1 of this trilogy. This time around, I thought it was fine. Either I was wrong before, or Teri has improved her Scottish accent. I think it's the latter, so "Bravo, Teri!" Overall, she's easy to listen to.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Absolutely. Since not all the events would fit into a 2-hour movie, hopefully it would consist of the "best bits."

Any additional comments?

This audiobook was provided by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Passion of Marie Romanov

  • A Tale of Anastasia's Sister
  • By: Laura Rose
  • Narrated by: Lillian Webb, Travis Smith
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

So much of my story unfolds by moonlight. This is a tale of midnight wakings and forced marches before dawn. Since this nightmare began, I do not dare undress, even to go to bed. I wear my dressing gown, my hair is prepared, and my shoes are set beside me. I have no idea when we will be summoned to rise. We have moved, as in the worst of dreams, slowly toward this place. There is no logic other than the sleepwalker's obedience - to follow instruction which we cannot resist: an actual lunacy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Beyond Anastasia

  • By Elyse Becker on 08-19-15

Beyond Anastasia

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

Reviewed: 08-19-15

Would you try another book from Laura Rose and/or Lillian Webb and Travis Smith ?

Yes. Rose is a fine writer. Webb and Smith both did admirable jobs narrating. In addition, their voices sounded appropriately youthful.

Would you recommend The Passion of Marie Romanov to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes, with reservations. This should be obvious, but this is a heartbreaking work. No one is perfect, but this close-knit family was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time historically--none of them deserved to die. It was a fascinating and touching but very, very tragic story.
I did think that Rose dwelt in too much gruesome detail on the botched executions and the disposal of the bodies.

Which scene was your favorite?

Marie's brief love affair was very memorable. But I should specify that the Passion in the title likely refers to Marie's being canonized as a "passion bearer"--that is, a saint who suffered but faced death in a Christ-like manner--in the Russian Orthodox Church.
What I liked best was how normal the imperial family was. Although they owned an enormous number of fine things, they were also happy living simple lives--as long as they had each other.

Could you see The Passion of Marie Romanov being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

There have already been movies about Anastasia. More could certainly be done. I'll leave the casting to someone else.

Any additional comments?

I was gifted this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful