12/23/13

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan Narrated by Wayne Farrell



The Spinning Heart
by Donal Ryan
Narrator: Wayne Farrell

4 hours 48 minutes
Award winning Author Donal Ryan
Donal Ryan




Wayne Farrell Narrator of Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart
Narrator Wayne Farrell

Narrator Review

Donal Ryan, The Spinning Heart

An exceptional, special book needs an exceptional narrator and Wayne Farrell is that person. It was refreshing to listen to an authentic Irish narration. Mr Farrell brings something special to The Spinning Heart, authenticity, sensitivity, and eloquence, enhancing our insight into each of the twenty one people represented in the story. Wayne Farrell has a rich and cadent voice that is very pleasurable to listen too. This is one of Farrell's most exemplary narrations showcasing his talents as a superb narrator. He will make you, for a moment in time reside in each persons shoes.

Click below to listen to a clip of  Wayne Farrell reading The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

https://soundcloud.com/wayne-farrell-narrator/the-spinning-heart

Book Review: 

The Spinning HeartBy Donal Ryan

The Spinning Heart

The world has an intimate knowledge of the boom and bust cycles that have plagued everyone for a good many years. Set in a rural Irish village we meet twenty one people affected by this cycle and learn how they get a triple whammy when the bust comes and they are unemployed. Their boss Pokey Burke has bushwhacked them all, by stealing their retirement funds. The check stubs show deductions, but the official bureau has no record of any money turned in for any of the them. When they are asked if at the end of each year didn't they get a P60, none of them had. Pokey Burke has skipped town with every cent of their money and his father denies knowing where he is.

As we move through each of the twenty one, we are introduced to each ones interior self and their secret thoughts. From Bobby, who hates his father with a passion, Josie, Pokey's father, who feels himself responsible for what kind of man Pokey grew up to be, Lily, the faded and ageing hooker who gets no respect from anyone, least of all her own children, Vasya, an immigrant to Ireland, who seems lost and alone, Hillary, the most interesting, who is obsessively in love with the narcissistic Realtin. Hillary's thoughts are complaint after complaint of Realtin's self absorption, yet, at the end of each one she says how much she loves Realtin.

Underneath the town's veneer of sociability and nicety lurk old angers and resentments, mentally disturbed people, and a boiling pot of frustration and rage that finally reaches the breaking point. The village and its residents could be a village in any country that has experienced the boom and bust economy. Always leaving the working class and middle class people losing everything. Wayne Farrell does such a fabulous job of manifesting and personalizing each individual, from their angst's to their joys. Because of its universal appeal, and the relevance of the people to those we have known, do know or have crossed paths with in our own country. The Spinning Heart has achieved many awards and commendations from the, Man Booker Award,  The Guardian First Book Award, and the, The Irish Book of the Year Award. we hope to have many future books by Donal Ryan, who skillfully says much with few but well chosen words.


Other selections read by Wayne Farrell:


The Djinn by J. Kent Holloway narrator Wayne Farrell
The Djinn by Kent Holloway
 Narrated by Wayne Farrell
Spiggot by Craig Saunders read by Wayne Farrell
Spiggot by Craig Saunders,
 Narrator Wayne Farrell
And They Called Her Spider by Michael Coorlim reader Wayne Farrell
 And They Called Her Spider, Michael Coorlim
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Maiden Voyage read by Wayne Farrell
Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande By Michael Coorlim
 Narrated: By Wayne Farrell
White Angel Murder by Victor Methos read by Wayne Farrell
The White Angel Murder by Victor Methos
Narrator Wayne Farrell
A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice read by Wayne Farrell
A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Two Tocks Before Midnight read by Wayne Farrell
Two Tocks Before Midnight by C. J. Martin
Narrated by Wayne Farrell

Hike up Devil's Mountain by Penny Estelle read by Wayne Farrell
Hike up Devil's Mountain Author: Penny Estelle
Narrator: Wayne Farrell



 








12/16/13

Ann M. Richardson narrating Greenwillow, written by B. J. Chute



GreenwillowB. J, Chute
Narrated by: Ann M. Richardson

6 hours 44 minutes
Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
                                       
Greenwillow, by B.J. Chute

Narrator, Ann Marie Richardson



Ann Marie Richardson has such a sweet and engaging voice,and reads with a very satisfying amount of emotion. When someone reads, and is enjoying the book you can really hear it as it comes through in the tone of their voice. Ms.Richardson evokes the emotional content to perfection. Her reading of of the text is just as excellent. Clear, well enunciated, and outstanding in every way. I especially enjoyed her characterizations of the old granny Briggs, and of Thomas Clegg, who is farming out his cow to the Briggs family.

Book Review: Greenwillow 


A charismatic story about a small village that's rather forgotten by the greater world. Two preachers, Rev. Birdsong and Rev. Lapp wrestle with concepts of good and evil and village life moves around their story. Rev. Birdsong fittingly named as he is cheerful, optimistic and full of kindheartedness appears in Greenwillow, and announces the Bishop sent him. The Rev. Lapp, is a cheerless, hell fire preacher and not pleased with situation at all and see's Rev. Birdsong as a threat to his own religious power over the village and wants to hasten Rev. Birdsong on his way. Fate has other ideas and very quickly Rev. Birdsong is ensconced and sharing the only church in the village with Rev. Lapp.

Gideon Briggs, maintains his father, Amos Briggs,' farm. Gideon loves Dorrie, but he frets about the time when the wandering curse will come on him and feels he can't marry. Fearful that like his father and his grandfather and all first born sons who were struck with the wandering curse, that he too would be destined to leave his family to roam the world. Men who returned periodically to foster new babies then off once again when the wandering possessed them. He felt sure that to marry and leave a family would just be wrong

Quite a stir is caused when Amos comes home, only to stay one day and two nights, time enough to meet the child that he fathered on his last home coming, and time enough to produce another baby. When he announces he's leaving to go to China, no begging or imploring from his family can stop him leaving. Down hearten Gideon, vows he will break the wandering curse, somehow. Gideon loves Dorrie, the farm, all the animals, his life in Greenwillow and has no desire to wander the world.

From the arrival of Rev. Birdsong there is a hint of something beyond the reach of mortals coming into play in this charming romance story. The wandering curse alone is enough to prick ones thoughts that something mystical is about to occur. Will Gideon break the curse and marry Dorrie, or will the unknown fates proceed on their path to continue with the wanderings? And what about the sour and devil obsessed Rev. Lapp, will the influence of just having Rev. Birdsong rub off on him and gentle his nature? The end alone is worth listening/reading this provocative tale. Ann Marie Richardson, does a distinguished reading that you will surely savor, and listen to again and again.


12/10/13

You Had Me at Woof By Julie Klam Narrator Karen White

You Had Me at Woof
How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness
By Julie Klam
Narrator Karen White
5 hours 21 minutes

Julie Klam Author of You Had Me at Woof
Author Julie Klam 




Karen White Narrator of You Had Me at Woof
Narrator Karen White
A lovely narration by Karen White, who has magically captured the soul of this poignant and beautiful book. The reading is steady and heart felt with none of the reading done on exhalation. I'm glad to say Ms. White has improved her reading skills and I can recommend this book with the highest of accolades. She has really exceeded doing justice to the story from the humorous to the wrenching heartbreak of losing a loved dog. Her portrayal of Julie and all the dogs was compassionate and very tender. This is very much a five star narration.


Book cover photo of Otto, You Had Me at Woof
You Had Me at Woof
 by Julie Klam


Julie Klam, like so many thirty somethings is still hoping to meet her prince and marry, have children and live happily ever after. Her situation is not new and the search for a meaningful relationship has gone on for many generations. One could imagine that meeting the right person would be easier today than say fifty or a hundred years ago if accounting for the increase in population and technology available never dreamed of in the past. For Julie Klam, she saw her future in a dream and his name was Otto. Otto was not a man but an adorable Boston Terrier that lead Julie on her true path in life. Julie later marries and has a daughter, Violet, who in time becomes as obsessed with dogs as her parents are. 

I could relate to Julie's attitude of love me love my dog. I went through something very similar with my new husband and my Maltese. Years into the marriage I still would fun him when he heard me talking and ask 'what' and I'd respond with, nothing, was talking to the dog. That annoyed him so much that I never could resist doing it. He had to work hard at gaining the number one spot never knowing he had it from the beginning.

When Julie meets Paul it isn't long before he resents that Julie thinks Otto is number one and instead of going out to dinner with him, she has to rush home to take care of Otto. Paul does in time love Otto and many other dogs and becomes a willing partner in dog rescue. Paul sounds like a very nice guy that maybe found his own Secrets of Happiness through loving Julie and the many dogs that pass through their lives.

Just before Julie is to give birth to Violet, Otto dies, a terrible time for this to happen and the love Julie has for Otto losing him must have torn her heart out. Not good timing at all. Later Julie does love another Boston terrier something she could not have imagined happening after Otto, but Moses steals her heart and she does love him on a par with Otto. Sadly and I confess I was glad the tissues were close by, when Moses gets hit by a car while running to greet her. Just thinking of the horror of it will make a strong man weep. Moses had slipped out of his harness and ran out the main door before the doorman had a chance to shut it. People tried to help find him, and he was just gone. Julie tries to imagine where he might go if out on his own and follows her instinct which was accurate. When Moses sees her across the street he races towards her with joy in his eyes and is struck down by an vehicle. 

As a family they become deeply involved in animal rescue and fostering, Julie introduces us to each dog that passes through their life and the love they share. It is wonderful that Julie and Paul are willing to open their hearts and pocket books to save a dog. I'm not sure New York City is a good place to keep a dog of any size but people do love their pets and hope for the best. It is an extra sacrifice in many ways to keep dogs in the city, nonetheless, there seems to be an unending parade of abandoned dogs.

Julie gives a well rounded account of the good as well as the negative aspects of fostering. Anyone considering this path would do well to read/listen to this book before taking on such a daunting task. It was disheartening to hear some of the deceptions rescues use to try and find homes for these animals. Its good information to know if you are considering adopting a rescue pet. For instances the age of a dog is somewhat ambiguous, compare it to a real estate ad that says 'fixer upper' or cottage, which anyone who has done even a little house hunting recognizes as dump or small, barely room for one person.

I do recommend this book highly, its a good read/listen, very informative, funny and sad, wonderful example for others, to share their resources as this family does. 




12/9/13

Parrots Prove Deadly: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noire, Book 3 By Clea Simon Narrated By Tavia Gilbert





Parrots Prove Deadly: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noire, Book 3
By Clea Simon
Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
Series: Pru Marlowe, Pet Noir, Book 3
Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
Blackstone Audio
Pru Marlowe, a Pet Noire Mystery by Clea Simon, Parrots Prove Deadly
Author Clea Simon


Tavia Gilbert Narrator of Parrots Prove Deadly by Clea Simon
Narrator Tavia Gilbert

A stellar narration by the fabulous Tavia Gilbert, in this not to be missed reading of Parrots Prove Deadly by Clea Simon. From the amazing laugh out loud rendition of the parrot Randolph Jones, to the spunky little dog listening in on Pru's thoughts, you will not only laugh, and love all the animals that Pru talks to, you will adore everyone's special voice that Ms. Gilbert brings through. Not only are her renditions of the animals wonderful so are the people, like the high strung, scatter brained and very annoying Jane Larkin, daughter of Polly Larkin. It is just phenomenal how Tavia Gilbert makes it all work.




When eighty four year old Polly Larkin dies at the Live Well assisted living, no one is surprised, after all at eighty four and in poor health, death is expected. Pru Marlowe gets a call from a hysterical and shrill Jane Larkin pleading with Pru, to help her with Randolph, a gray African parrot. Jane hopes Pru, can retrain Randolph to quit swearing. Pru, is an animal behaviorist, and Polly Larkin's pet bird is in danger of becoming homeless or worse, as Jane's Condominium doesn't allow pets, her brother Mark, won't take him as he has young children and doesn't want a foul mouthed bird around them. So Randolph is a couple weeks away from being booted out of Live Well assisted living center.

Her first meeting with the feisty bird is when Randolph shouts out "Who the hell is it", "mind your own damn business" and "bugger off," which are some of his less obnoxious litanies. As Pru is around the bird more, she hears him saying things that make Pru think that perhaps Polly did not die a natural death at all. Polly was found on the floor and her walker was upturned on its side, leading the staff to think she got up in the night, lost her balance and fell. Yet, Randolph is making noises that indicate something very different happened. Pru is the only one paying attention to what the bird says except one other person who wants to shut the bird up, forever.

Things start to escalate when Pru stops in to visit Randolph and the room is teaming with people, the doctor, Jane, Mark, and others who come and go as they please when suddenly Randolph squawks gets sick and falls over. Pru, takes charge and rushes him to the vet and feels sure the bird has been poisoned, but by what or who, her thoughts run through a number of things that could have harmed the bird. Maybe when she let him out of his cage to stretch. But who would want to kill him.

After Randolph is released from the vet she decides it would be in the birds best interest to take him home herself. In the beginning she jettisoned this idea, knowing that Wallis her Tabby cat would either try and eat the bird or bother him in some other ways. Yet, she didn't want to take him back to Live Well. Pru decides her house is big, she could keep him in a room away from Wallis. In the end she decides to just bring Randolph in and not try and hide him from Wallis, as if that were possible.

Wallis picks up Pru's thoughts about the bird and she's also thinking about having lunch. Wallis greets her at the door, asking 'lunch' with an insinuating tone that she's bringing in the bird for Wallis's lunch. Pru chides him for it but later Wallis gets her back when she's digging into a thick chunk of turkey, and whimsically says " that's a bird too," letting Pru know there is no difference between him relishing a tasty parrot for lunch or her eating a turkey. Ms. Gilbert does such a marvelous job bringing out the humor, fear or stupidity of each person, or animal.

I love all of the psychic books Clea Simon writes and the Pet Noire series is one of the most creative and enchanting. Tavia Gilbert is such a fine story teller and very confident in her talents making for a most excellent listen. Candy for the ears.

    




Parrots Prove Deadly by Clea Simon A Pru Marlowe Pet Noire
Parrots Prove Deadly by Clea Simon







12/3/13

Glimmers by Barbara Brooke Narrator Ann M. Richardson


Glimmers
Barbara Brooke
Narrator: Ann M. Richardson
7 hours 39 minutes
Heidi Bolton








Barbara Brooke author of Glimmers
Author Barbara Brooke



Ann M. Richardson Narrating Glimmers
Narrator Ann M. Richardson
Ann Marie Richardson has a lovely feminine tone to her reading style, very easy listening that I liked very much. Her voice is very suitable for many types of books but personally I think books like Glimmers or romance novels would showcase her talents. The reading pace is excellent and makes her romantic voice standout. Ms. Richardson was a little indistinct doing male voices making it a slight challenge to know just when a man is speaking. This may not bother someone else as listening to audio is very subjective. Although some of her other books are not so blurred and the males sound more appropriately male. I prefer a little more definition between male and female characters. This in no way distracts from the story or the listening pleasure. Ms. Richardson does an excellent narration with a huge emphasis on emotional content, giving a natural sounding flow to the story. I look forward to hearing many more books by this narrator as her voice is so pleasing and her reading ability is impressive.

You can listen to some nice excerpts here https://soundcloud.com/hersmoothvoice

Glimmers, a time travel tale by Barbara Brookes
Glimmers by Barbara Brookes

Review of Glimmers

I love time travel stories and Glimmers is a winner. What is more thought provoking than being transported to a past time in history just by slipping into a pair of suede ankle boots? This is exactly what happens when Paige buys a pair of boots from a consignment store. Paige seems a typical housewife, and mother, doing the carpooling, shopping, housekeeping. but has some weak spots like not being a very good cook.

The first time Paige glimmers into the past and looks in the mirror its a big wow moment, the face looking back at her is not hers at all but a teenage girl named Delilah Jones, who is an exceptional cook and hopes one day to go to culinary school and later open her own restaurant. Paige lives Delilah's life for short periods of time at least in regards to her own time frame but seems longer in Delilah's time. She becomes emotionally invested in Delilah and her ambitions and love life. Delilah is very focused and takes a summer job at an upscale restaurant to add money towards her school fees and meets a young man that is just as interested in her as she is in him. Love blossoms and a future with him is added to her ambitions.

At home Paige's sister is planning her wedding and relies heavily on Paige to run errands and be her general factotum. She really takes advantage of her and keeps her hopping. As Paige's ability to glimmer into the past develops she connects the dots and realizes that it's when she touches used articles like rings, watches, and other pieces of jewelry or wears used clothing that things around her begin to shimmer and shift and she's transported into the past.

It's one thing when she's seeing and living Delilah's life and quite another when her sister asks her to stop by the jewelers and see if her rings are ready and sized. Paige and her sister wear the same size clothing and have the same ring size, so when Paige slips the rings on her finger she is suddenly living her sisters life and shocked to find her sister is having an affair with a man not her fiance. No wonder she has so little time to take care of her own wedding plans, it's tricky time wise juggling a lover and a fiance.

This is a very fun story and a lot of romance, and self discovery. It is well written and there are no dull or boring parts. I liked that it didn't have any hard core graphic sex scenes in it, which seems so popular today. It's a good clean story that is tightly written and there are no loose ends when it reaches its apex. Anne Marie Richardson does such a charming narration that gives a gentle and sweet flavor to the overall story.
I recommend the audio version but if you choose to read the book, do one or the other or both as it is an excellent time travel romance that shouldn't be missed.




   

12/2/13

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones, Narrator Lorelei King

Fifth Grave Past the Light
by Darynda Jones
Narrator Lorelei King
9 hours
Macmillan audio

Fifth Grave Past the Light Darynda Jones

                                                   
Narrator Lorelei King













Lovely Lorelei King, one of the shining stars of narrators, her voice is always   crystal clear and expressive. It is always such a pleasure listening to a book Ms. King narrates as she does not just read the book but puts her all into developing each character and their role beyond anything one could hope for. So wonderful at emotional parts as well as the, up the stream sex scenes, and the sex romps in all of this series once were called pornographic, but King manages to give a balance to them all, taking some of the singe out of them. I feel less scorched with her rendition of them. I easily recognize Lorelei's voice, she is skillful enough to not sound like characters from other books like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, where her characterizations are nothing short of stunning. Lorelei King renders every book as if it was the one and only ever, like a lover giving their total attention to the beloved.

Book Review: Fifth Grave Past the Light, Darynda Jones

Fifth Grave Past the Light was the best in the series, I liked the first one, but felt this one really stands out in many ways, from it being well written, lots of content and characters that are bursting with personality. Did I mention funny? What a wild imagination Ms. Jones has, with Charley Davidson. Charley can barely move through her own apartment for the amount of ghosts that are hanging around. Take that literally, there are at least nine, female ghosts of all ages, hanging from the ceiling and hiding under the bed and poor Charley has to shower with a ghost in the shower. One ghost in particular turns out to be neither missing or dead but very much alive and working.



I know us mere mortal humans would have a hard time with this. One ghost would send us scurrying in fright but Charley is a supernatural being and a beacon for lost souls, can just shrug it off and consider it all in a days work. While she's trying to investigate how to help all these traumatized souls in her apartment she is also working on a case of serial arsons. Worse, her lover, Reyes Farrow is her main suspect. Busy girl that Charley is, she manages to work concurrently on cheating spouse cases. Getting evidence of a cheater is much easier today with all the great tech toys available and with her naive assistant Cookie helping, it's a piece of cake, or so she thinks when they gussy themselves up to hit the bar and gather their evidence. Cookie just is not sophisticated enough to pull it off and everything goes awry when the cheater discovers the tiny microphone that Charley discreetly tucked into her scarf.

Darynda Jones
The workload and stress escalates when Captain Eckhart starts showing up and badgering Charley about her status at APD, the police department as a consultant. His interest in her was peaked when she solved four cases in one day. That really brought her to his attention and he becomes obsessed with finding out more about her. Especially once he discovers she's been assisting on solving crimes since she was five. Seems that would be enough to intrigue anyone. Angel her thirteen year old ghost detective is pressing her to give his mother more money every month. An arrangement he struck up with Charley when he died.

All in all this is a action packed, tilt a whirl ride from beginning to end. Best to start with the first book in the series, First Grave on the Right. I liked all in the series but the first and the fifth are the best. Lots of creative energy going on and unrestrained laughing. The only thing I'd prefer is less graphic sex, although Reyes Farrow, bad boy though handsome, sexy and a sweep them off their feet kind of guy the sex is just too intense and graphic for my taste. I suspect Reyes is not the son of the devil but being deceived somehow to think he is. Even if he is too hot to handle.


11/24/13

A Quest of Heroes by Morgan Rice Narrated by Wayne Farrell

A Quest of Heroes

The Sorcerer's Ring, Book 1
by Morgan Rice
Narrated by Wayne Farrell

9 hours 41 minutes
Self Published

                                       



Wayne Farrell reading A Quest of Heroes
Narrator Wayne Farrell


Wayne Farrellbrings something very special to this uninspiring book. Although the story
is very predictable and been written many times before from biblical times with Joseph of
the many colored coat, to the present, which are to numerous to list. The story is almost a duplicate of another one I listened to a couple months ago.
It draws from many fables, like, Joseph, Cinderella, The Odyssey, David and Goliath, well you get the idea, even the names are not very original, Thor, Argon, The Silver and even the beast is close in name to Cyclops and dreadfully Thor aims his sling and....

Book Review: A Quest of Heroes


A Quest of Heroes is like a cut and paste of many other books I can't say it is even well written to redeem it, but the genre is popular with, more particularly young boys due to the theme of boy overcomes evil caretakers, boy has magical or mystical powers, boy discovers his powers, boy saves, name anything here, princess, land, anything that needs saving. The only thing that is saving anything is Wayne Farrell's excellent narration. He manages with such skill to breathe some life into some fairly unoriginal and pale characters. Without such a fine narration by one of our better story tellers, Farrell does make the book more palatable. Kudos to him for such a fine display of his talents. Always an interesting and engaging narrator.


Thor, a fourteen year old boy is a shepherd living in a village on some planet or dimension far, far, away in some unknown mystical realm. He lives with his father and three brothers and is quite aware that he not only physically doesn't resemble his brothers who are a little older than him but he is different in every way, from his father as well as his brothers. Thor is anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Silver, the royal army that goes from village to village in search for young boys and men who will be selected to join the forces to fight in the legion. He's always dreamed of joining the Silver but his father thinks he's better off staying home and minding the sheep. This is not the life Thor thinks of for himself but when he is jeered at and passed over but the leader of the Silver and they take his brothers and not him, he is despondent.

Later when everyone has gone he argues with his father who's told him to go round up the sheep and Thor leaves in a huff and says he's never coming back. After sulking in the hills that night he wakes next day and looks for his sheep. One is missing he see's it has wandered a couple hills away and its heading towards the forbidden area called the Darkwood. He does go after it and enters the forbidden woods and finds himself eventually on the other side where Argon the kings personal Druid, which means his personal sorcerer, seems to be waiting for him. Argon points Thor, in the direction he should go to find his destiny.

This type book might be your cup of tea but, I suggest that you look elsewhere for something written better, after the one hundredth time of  "Thor just stood there." and "He could hardly believe it" and his constant badgering and well heck Thor, is just one annoying kid, you might throw the book at the wall, or if you're listening to the audio version you might finish the book, as the narrator does an excellent job in expressing what the author should be intending.

There is no comparison to J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter series, so don't even look for it. Her writing is far more enjoyable even by adults, her cast of characters have personality and charm, their adventures are fun and everything is much more original and quirky. Most important of all Rowling's books have a plot. A Quest of Heroes does not. I have not done any reviews on the Harry Potter books because there are already thousands of them and I'd only be repeating what has been said already. I did love the series, and the narrator is outstanding. In fact I tried to read a hard copy when the audio edition wasn't out yet, and gave up, I just missed the voice of Jim Dale.

I can not provide a picture or information about Morgan Rice, there is simply very little information about this author. The link for the webpage is all I can find. There is no way to tell if Morgan is a male or female, or if they are a real person and not a think tank of people who throw darts at a wall that's covered with plots to put the story together.

11/21/13

Murder on the House By Juliet Blackwell Narrator Xe Sands

Murder on the HouseBook 3, in The Haunted Home Renovation Series
Author: Juliet BlackwellNarrator: Xe Sands

Producer: Tantor Audio
7 hours 03 minutes
                                                             


Narrator Review: XE Sands

A magnificent performance by Xe Sands is hardly sufficient praise for one of the most talented and multi-dimensional narrators of the century. Sands never is just reading the book, she is acting out the story in the manner of true storytellers since the beginning of time.

Xe Sands Narrator for Juliet Blackwell Series
Xe Sands Narrator

She has a wonderful affinity with the characters in the Haunted Home Renovation Series, delivering each of them with emphasis on emotional content whether of fear, hesitation, affection.

Sands deftly moves between the ghost of Annabelle singing in her childish voice to the skepticism of policewoman Annette Crawford discussing Mel's explanation of the ghost activities in the house.

Listening to Sands is a personal and intimate experience as she reads in a conversational and instinctive way.

Audio Book Review: Murder on the House By Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell author of A Haunted Home Mystery
Juliet Blackwell Author
Murder on the House starts out with a bang, when Mel has competition for the restoration of a haunted Victorian Mansion owned by a sweet, spunky little old lady Betty Bernini, and an older couple Marty and Kim Propak who have a purchase agreement with Mrs. Bernini to do some renovations and take over the  mortgage payments.

Mrs. Bernini will remain in the house until she either passes away or decides to move somewhere else. The Propaks want to restore the house and make it a Haunted Bed and Breakfast.

When Mel arrives at the mansion for a meeting with Mrs. Bernini and the Propaks. A young girl, Annabelle, opens the door to Mel, and says she will take her to the parlor to wait. Annabelle motions Mel in,

Mel looks around and sees the parlor is bare and dusty and looks like no one's been in it for quite awhile. When she turns around to ask Annabelle if this is the right, Annabelle is nowhere to be seen. heh, heh.

Mel's starting to feel a little uneasy and well, heck, just a bit creeped out when she hears weird noises, clank, shuffle, clank, scrape.


Juliet Blackwell Murder on the House Xe Sands Narrator
Murder on the House by Juliet Blackwell

The Propak's tell  Mel there's just one condition before they make the final choice. For her to win the coveted contract both Mel, and another restorationist, Avery, must spend the entire night in the house. At first she's not at all pleased with this and isn't going to do it, but, on re-consideration, it is a plum job.

As much as I loved the first one in the series If Walls Could Talk and the second one, Dead Bolt, Murder on the House is my favorite. Its exciting, its scary and its fun and Mel is really developing her talents at seeing ghost. Never a dull moment here and lots of interesting tidbits about San Francisco. Xe Sands does a superb narration that will knock your socks off. I give it a five star in all departments. I'm looking forward to Home for the Haunting.




10/31/13

Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell Narrator Xe Sands


Dead Bolt
Book 2 in the Haunted Home Renovation series
by Juliet Blackwell
Narrator Xe Sands
7 hours 19 minutes
Tantor media











Juliet Blackwell Dead Bolt Xe Sands narrator
Author Juliet Blackwell

Narrator Xe Sands

When a fantastic book is read by an equally fantastic narrator you have a combination that will send your pleasure meter into orbit. When Xe Sands and Juliet Blackwell merge their talents pure magic happens. Plan to have time set aside to listen to Dead Bolt uninterrupted, so you can thoroughly enjoy yourself. Sands does an amazing Russian accent and gives just the right amount of whine and daintiness to our petite and shy Katenka Daley. I'm always astonished at the wide range of languages and types of characters that Sands not only is spot on with, but makes them seem so real. You are lead down the path where Sands wants to take you and you will happily follow enthralled with her presentation. 

Juliet Blackwell is an extremely skilled writer, each book is original, humorous, scary, and captivating.
The characters are never stale, or unrealistic. Each one engages you to the point you like or dislike them, and care about them. They are like people you either would love to know or do know. The story flows in an unbroken stream and is never dull or boring. Set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, it's loaded with tidbits of historical information and points out many of the changes that have occurred in the city.

Mel Turner, construction company owner, has eagerly begun the restoration of a beautiful Queen Anne house in San Francisco's Cow Hollow area. Katenka Daley and her husband Jim Daley insist on living in the house while construction is going on against Mel's wishes. Katenka confides to Mel that she is sure the house is haunted and she's afraid harm will be done to her baby, she's decided that it might be best to stop the restoration. Frustrated Mel, knows Jim Daley is adamant about not living anywhere else not even for his beloved Katenka. Mel definitely does not want to quit the restoration. During this confidence one of the ghost makes its presence known causing Katenka to faint and Mel wanting to run out the door. After the manifestation is over, Mel is still unwilling to stop the restoration and tells Katenka she'll see what she can do to rid the house of the ghosts. After all this is not her first encounter with ghosts, although they seem more malevolent than the ones she had to deal with in a previous restoration.

Ghosts and even a ghost cat are a handful to deal with, when neighbor, Emile Blunt, ambushes Mel, while she's heading home. Emile has been a thorn in Mel's side, with his constant complaining about the noise, the dust and just about everything so she's taken by surprise when he wants her to intervene with the Daley's on his behalf to buy the mansion.

It escalates into a screaming match with him refusing to move out of the way of her car when she's trying to get out of her parking place, and her yelling at him to get out of the way or she'll run him over. The next day Emile is found shot to death embroiling Mel and even her father as possible suspects. Mel, because the loud screaming match was reported to the police and her father as he found the dead man. Even Jim Daley is a suspect as he also had a confrontation with Emile the night before.

Mel, is not only feisty and resourceful she is sensible and sets her mind to extricating herself and her father and contacts her friend Brittany who not only revels in hauntings but is a good sources of information. One by one, Mel, tracks down the previous owners a crazy old cat lady, Hetty Banks, her children, and some of the previous residents when it was a sort of boarding house and took in orphaned children.

It's quite the jumble of people and motives. Although Emile was a crotchety old guy Mel was having trouble actually finding anyone with a truly plausible motive. It heats up when she learns that Hetty has been left his worldly goods, including his shop. Mel didn't know that Hetty and Emile were close enough for him to will his belongings to her. Causing Mel to take a second look at Hetty as a possible suspect, after all she surmises even an old lady can pull a trigger.

 I enjoyed the interchange between Mel and the skeptical policewoman, when she tries to explain her connection to the house and to Emile Blunt. Trying to explain about ghost is more than the woman can take.
Police are not very likely to look fondly on hauntings or anything woo woo. Mel's romances are looking somewhat better and Graham is back in the running. Her young lover returns but reigniting that love fest doesn't look like it's in the offing. Overall this is a fun series, not quite a cozy like M. C. Beaton writes, but not the blood lust in the style of  Peter Robinson . 



Dead Bolt Juliet Blackwell narrator Xe Sands
Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell












10/20/13

If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands

If Walls Could TalkA Home Renovation Mystery
(A Haunted Home Repair Mystery)
Author: Juliet Blackwell
Narrator: Xe Sands 

Producer: Tantor Audio 
7 hours 27 minutes




Narrator Review: Xe Sands

Xe Sands Narrator of If Walls Could Talk A Haunted Home Repair Mystery
Xe Sands, Narrator
I can not think of all the fabulous narrators there are, but who would be better than Xe Sands. Absolutely no one is the answer. I love her narration of Juliet Blackwell's books, both series, and her rendition of Mel the personable, perky, and sassy Victorian Home renovator is superb.

Her Spanish is, well, so Spanish, outstanding and at least to my ears authentic. Xe Sands, just wow's your socks off. Ms. Sands draws the emotions out of every character, and every scene making them pop and sparkle.

Did I mention that Ms. Sands has a lovely voice that can make just want to listen regardless of what book she is narrating. Talent is too small a word to describe Ms.Sands, alas, talent, at the highest level is just what she always delivers.










Audio Book Review: If Walls Could Talk By Juliet Blackwell


If Walls Could Talk, is a fairly new series written by Juliet Blackwell. I enjoyed everyone of Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries, they were fun reads and so hard to put down. Haunted Home Repair Mysteries, win hands down for sheer reading pleasure.

Blackwell has found a good balance between not having excessive sex scenes yet still eludes to it without being offensive, while still capturing Mel's romantic  interests. There's a wide cast of engaging characters from the young to the old, and they are all well fleshed out, without going overboard on dry details. It is very refreshing to have a female lead that is running a successful house restoration company. 

Melanie Turner, recently divorced, returns home after her mother passes away and her father devastated and having a hard time coping with losing the love of his life, hands the reins of his construction company to Mel.

Melanie takes to the business like a fish to water and loves what she's doing and she is good at it. After two years of successfully running Turner Construction her Dad is happy to work a little in the background and just offer suggestions and tips, Regardless if Mel, wants to hear them or not.

As a favor to a friend, Mel had given an unofficial inspection of his Pacific Heights mansion restoration. Mel knows the aging rock star through her ex-stepson Caleb, who goes to the same school as Matts' son. The owners had a wild "do it yourself demo party" for the 'A'  list celebrities who thought it was cool that Matt and partner Ken were flipping a Victorian Mansion and doing the work themselves.

When Melanie gets to the home one of the owners is near death and the other is so hung over he has little recollection of the previous night's festivities. Ken is bleeding out from being shot with a nail gun. Mel tries to comfort him while waiting for the ambulance and to her horror she see's a bloody stump where his hand had been.

Before Ken dies at the hospital a nurse thinks his last words were implicating his partner Matt, as the one that shot him. This leads to Matt's arrest later and a lot of trouble. Mel and everyone else can't believe it and there is no way that Matt, would have done such a thing.

Mel first see's Ken, out of the corner of her eye, then he disappears when she looks directly at him. At first she wonders if she dozed off, or imagined it or maybe is stressed from a day from hell.

When she learns that at the time she saw him he had already died. In the days that follow she continues to catch sight of him. This is unsettling and he seems to want her to do something, she just doesn't know what. Mel, wonders if she's gone a little crazy or if what she is seeing is real. 

Mel, noticed a scruffy brown dog wearing a red neck scarf, hanging around outside Matt's house, he has no identification or tags. No one seems to know who he belongs to or if he belongs to anyone at all. One day when Mel's going to head home the dog jumps into her car and won't get out.

Kenneth appears in the car right on top of the dog. Poor dog is startled and not to happy about being sat on and jumps into the backseat. It dawns on Mel, that she may not be crazy, because the dog saw Ken. She feels somewhat better about this turn of events just knowing she isn't the only one seeing Ken, but with a ghost appearing at all, she is not so happy. 

Mel, with amazing self control tries to find out why Ken keeps showing up and what does he want. Poor Ken, is clueless himself as he doesn't remember anything at least not anything that will help Mel unravel the mystery of who killed him or why.

Bad enough to deal with Ken, but there are other ghostly beings residing in the mansion, again, Mel, see's them out of the corner of her eye. She is able to start sorting them out because she can also smell things like cigar smoke, or hear the rattle of a newspaper. In time it is apparent to Mel, that she is going to have to rid herself and the mansion of all the ghosts. 

The unfolding of how Mel, solves the crime and understands what role the Mansions ghost have in it, is no third rate ghost story by any means. It's full of fun and laughs, wonderful characters, and a huge variety of things going on that pull the story together into one of this years best fiction book.

This series has soared to the top of my all time favorite books ever. San Francisco, is the perfect backdrop with its myriad of Victorian homes, conglomeration of people and activities. As always I suggest listening to the audio version, as nothing illustrates the story and gives body to it more than a good narrator. Xe Sands, excels at bringing everything to life. 


If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell
If Walls Could Talk















10/2/13

"W" is for Wasted by Sue Grafton, Narrated by Judy Kaye

"W" is For WastedA Kinsey Millhone Mystery
Sue Grafton
Narrator: Judy KayePublisher: Books on Tape

17 hours 13 minutes





Narrator Review of Judy Kaye

"W" is For Wasted A Kinsey Millhone Mystery Sue GraftonNarrator: Judy Kaye
Narrator, Judy Kaye 








As a narrator Judy Kaye reads very well, giving a great deal of emotion and expression to the content and the individual personalities of the characters. As I said in my "V" is For Vengeance review,  Judy Kaye although an excellent narrator has to manly a voice that isn't suited to the personality or age of thirty nine year old Kinsey Millhone.

There are parts where Kinsey is spoken in a more feminine and softer way, but for the most part Kaye's reading gives Kinsey a hard edge and often a rather apathetic tone. Often it was difficult to discern which male character was speaking because although Kaye may start with a somewhat distinct voice, midway she drifts back into her own voice or perhaps it is the voice of Kinsey.

Even the refined and genteel Henry Pitts, sounds rough and tumble, completely lacking his courtly nature. As I said. Kaye's narrating skills are admirable and praiseworthy but not for the Alphabet series.

Audiobook Review: "W" is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

The Alphabet Series



"W" is For Wasted By Sue Grafton  Narrator: Judy Kaye
Author, Sue Grafton








Kinsey receives a call from the coroner asking if she'd come to the morgue and identify a body, Kinsey is baffled and has no idea who the man is or why the only thing they found on him is her name and phone number.

Business is slow for Kinsey so she tells the coroner she will poke around and see if she can discover who he is. All they know about him is, he's a homeless man, and his personal effects are the clothes he's wearing and the sleeping bag he was found in.

Little does she realize this pursuit will lead her to discover more than she could ever imagine. Even being confronted in the most unexpected way with the Millhone's, her father's side of the family of whom she knows little or nothing about. Nice, they are not, and they are as poor as the Kinsey's are rich. In "W" Kinsey is taken on dangerous adventures with the Millhone's and is involved in the lives of the homeless and their lifestyle.

In the prologue, we hear about the shooting of Pete Wolinsky a detective from Kinsey's past that she never cared much for and neither did very many other people, but later he plays an important role in the story. Even bringing Deitz, back into Kinsey's life for a short time.

It could appear like two separate books but soon it all ties together. Revealing that the murders of R.T. Dace and Pete Wolinsky are related. Kinsey is drawn into a convoluted string of events that are fast paced and exciting. She still makes some poor decisions but finally showed some sense a few times, to my relief.

Of all the Alphabet series I liked this one the best. Even though it's partly from Kinsey's perspective and then later it's from Wolinsky's perspective, it still jelled into an excellent book. A little editing would have improved the story as there was an excessive amount of unnecessary medical information, and the eulogy at the end was way too long. It seemed too flowery considering how long it took Kinsey to put the memorial together.


I often have wished that Grafton had started the series with Henry being fifteen or twenty years younger. Starting him at eighty one makes him eighty nine in "W" is for Wasted. Kinsey started as thirty two which means she is now thirty nine. Maybe Grafton forgot over the many passing years that Kinsey at thirty nine is not likely to need help getting up from sitting on the ground. There were some other instances that made Kinsey sound double her age. Strange considering Kinsey still runs every morning and is in excellent health and condition.

I hope Grafton has a new series in the works as "W" is nearing the end of the series. I look forward to it moving into 1990 when Kinsey can make good use of the internet and computers. Even a continuation of the series with a new title could work well bringing Kinsey eventually into the twenty first century. Sadly Henry will have to die because of his advanced age. That will be sad and he will be missed but it does bring opportunities to bring new characters into Kinsey's life that will fill the same paternal role as Henry.

"W" is For Wasted By Sue Grafton book cover image. narratorreviews.org
"W" is for Wasted

8/22/13

Dixie Divas by Virginia Brown, Narrated by Karen Commins

Dixie Divas
Author: Virginia Brown
Narrator: Karen Commins                            
Publisher: Belle Books, Inc.
5 hours 57 minutes:






Virginia Brown author of Dixie Diva's
Virginia Brown, author

Karen Commins narrates Dixie Divas
Karen Commins, Narrator


Narrator, Karen Commins, has an excellent reading voice, nice pitch, and does keep the various
characters sorted nicely. I liked her southern accent, it is not exaggerated, or phony sounding. Some narrators do excellent supporting characters and less well on reading the text. Karen Commins, does both with flair. Her reading is upbeat, flows along without any distractions in cadence. I thoroughly enjoyed her narration of Dixie Divas. It is important that a narrator read at a conversational pace, not racing through the story at a breath gasping pace, nor so slow you quit listening and doze off. Which is why I consider Karen Commins ace, at this skill, and she sounds like she is enjoying what she's reading. She has a good, strong, clear voice making it an easy listen. Ms.Commons does the wide variety of women and ages so well that you can easily identify each one.


Book Review:

Dixie Divas written by Virginia Brown is a fun listen about some older Southern women who form an √©lite club named the Dixie Divas, limited to twelve members and entry is by invitation and unanimous vote. The Diva's are completely loyal to one another. When they have their, often ribald, meetings, it's Katy bar the doors, anything and everything can happen. These monthly meetings are closed to men. Except the men they hire as entertainment. Threats to these men  are severe enough they don't dare to ever tell what went on during a Dixie Divas meeting.

Bitty Hollandale, and her lifelong best friend and cousin, Trinket Truvine, have their hands full when Bitty finds her ex-husband Senator Philip Hollandale dead. Bitty leaves him where she found him and later worries about her fingerprints being on the statue that was used to clobber him to death. She finagles cousin Trinket to return to the scene of the crime to wipe her finger prints off the murder weapon, but when they get there the body is gone, the place is whistle clean and there's not a drop of blood anywhere. They wipe off any new prints they made and get the heck out of there.

In the next days Senator Hollandale is reported on the news as missing. It doesn't take long before the police are at Bitty's door to question her as everyone including the police are familiar with the bitter divorce between Bitty and the Senator. While the police are talking with Bitty, Trinket discovers the Senator's body in the closet, so she very quietly and coolly closes the door on him and tells Bitty what she found.

After the police have gone they decide that they need to move him somewhere else away from Bitty's house. Who else would they call but the Dixie Diva's to help them. They settle on leaving him at the cemetery temporarily till they can move him to a final location after dark. One of the Diva's is a curator for the genealogy and history department and has a key to the cemetery gates,  people are use to seeing her around there at all hours. She can get them in without arousing any curiosity. That night when they go to collect his body and it's gone. 

This is not going to be the only time that the Senator's body returns to Bitty's house and these plucky Southern gals have to move him. Someone wants to pin this murder on Bitty and the Diva's are having none of this. They defeat the murderer at every turn until they solve and exonerate Bitty. I personally enjoyed the tidbits about antebellum houses, and descriptions of antiques and architecture. This is a fun book with lots of laughable quips in it and Bitty and Trinket make an entertaining duo.

The book is very long which made it a bit hard to pull all the different side stories together. In the end I'm not sure I know the motive for murdering Senator Hollandale. I also found if not troublesome, perplexing, that a fifty one year old woman hasn't visited her parents in so long that she's constantly surprised by their advanced age.
Still it is a fun read or listen and well executed by Ms. Commins. If you become a fan of the series, which is not difficult to do, there are three more in the series. Drop Dead DivasDixie Diva BluesDivas And Dead Rebels

Dixie Divas