The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, Narrator Simon Vance

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo         
Author: Stieg Larsson
Narrator: Simon Vance
16 hrs. 20 mins.
Books on Tape

Author Stieg Larsson 

Simon Vance Narrator

Simon Vance has a wonderful reading voice, like smooth silk caressing you all over. There is no book that Vance narrates that doesn't sound great. Vance has good pacing, knows when to pause and when to emphasize a word or phrase. You never have to consider if a book will be good or not, if judging by the title or author, if Simon Vance is the narrator, it will be good because his voice is outstanding and will always make any book enjoyable. Mellow and soothing, with just a hint of an accent.

Book Review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The prologue could easily have been left off and never been missed. It just seems to sit there, unrelated to what comes in the chapters to follow, until much further into the story when the scenario is repeated and by this time I'd completely forgotten about the prologue. I think it would have been much better if it had started with chapter two, when we meet twenty four year old Lisabeth Salander. Petite, slender, Lisabeth with her tats and piercings, seems vulnerable and defenseless. She appears unfriendly to mainstream society. Lisabeth keeps herself to herself and doesn't make friends with anyone.

She is shunted off onto Dragan Armansky to work in his security company, as a Jill of all trades, she is quickly relegated to mundane, boring, tasks, people see her as not very bright and incompetent, before long she is not coming in on a regular work schedule and not getting along with his other employees. After about a month, Armansky calls her into his office with the intention of firing her, she takes his litany of her failings calmly and informs him that he's wasting her talents having her make copies and sorting mail. She proceeds to inform him about his private investigator's failings. At first Armansky is taken back by her boldness, then intrigued with what she says. He tells her to prove it, he gives her three days, in three days she turns in a report that has him agape. It's one of the finest most thorough reports he's ever had. She has more than proven herself and they come to an understanding and he hires her on as a freelance investigator.

Mikael Blomkvist, a well known journalist specializing in corporate crime and money mismanagement has been accused of libel and faces financial ruin and a short jail time. While Blomkvist a complicated man, tries to sort out how his careful analysis of a financiers crimes has been shot down and now he is made to look like the villain. Henrik Vanger sends his attorney to Amarnsky's to get a background report on Blomkvist with the intention of luring him to spend a year at his home. Vanger, tormented for forty years over the disappearance of Harriet, a relatives child that Vanger had taken in and was raising. Just a teenager when she vanished with no trace, no body and not a single clue as to what happened to her. Vanger's feels he has to give it one last try to unravel the mystery before he dies. In his eighties and with frail health, he implores Blomkvist to take on the project. Blomkvist thinks it's futile after forty years, and all that could be done has been done. Vanger offers him a huge sum of money and persuades Blomkvist to take it on anyway.

Blomkvist makes a half- hearted effort at it under the guise of writing a biography of the Vanger dynasty. Blomkvist finds a list of names and numbers written by Harriet, and he can't unravel their meaning. He needs a research assistant and through Vanger's attorney he learns that Vanger had a background check done on him, and he reads it and see's it very good and that the researcher had to have hacked his computer to get some of the information. He tracks down Salander and hires her, between them they unravel the mystery of what happened to Harriet and uncover an even more sadist and cruel stream of unimaginable crimes. This book was very long, I had some trouble keeping track of the characters because of the way the story introduces them and the foreign names. The names would have been less of a problem if I had been reading the book, but listening to it made it a little difficult to comprehend.

There was too much sex and perverted sex for my taste, much of it seemed thrown in for good measure to tempt readers who enjoy that sort of thing. I was glad it was not to detailed or explicit in some parts of the book or I might not have been able to finish it. Simon Vance has such a soothing and sweet flowing voice that it ameliorated it to a degree. This book could have been edited down by half and still been an interesting and compelling read.


V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton Narrator Judy Kaye

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

  1. V is for Vengeance
  1. A Kinsey Millhone Mystery
  1. Sue Grafton
  1. Narrator: Judy Kaye
  1. Publisher: Books on Tape
  1. Fiction, Mystery
  1. 15 hours 11 minutes

Narrator Review: Judy Kaye

Photo Judy Kaye Narrator for Sue Grafton's V is for Vengeance

Narrator Judy Kaye

I've listened to all the Alphabet series and loved the narrations by Mary Peiffer, her voice is more youthful and softer than Judy Kayes'. So, when they changed narrators to Judy Kaye it was a very different Kinsey Millhone than the one I know.

Regrettably, her voice sounds much more mature than Kinsey'sage of 38, it does interfere with the visualization of the characters, and lacks the soft edges that are indicated and already established in the series.

Judy Kayehas a good voice, albeit a bit crisper voice, nonetheless a good voice and she reads very well. But, she is not Kinsey Millhone. The narrator lacks a good range of male voices which causes all the male characters to sound disturbingly similar. I found that Ms. Kaye's voice can sound a bit draggy, so all the character's tend to sound bored and world weary.

Sue Grafton Author of the Alphabet Series, V is for Vengeance
Author Sue Grafton

Audiobook Review: V is for Vengeance, by Sue Grafton

V is for Vengeance was an excellent book. There are different plots intermingling with one another. Some could be a book on there own merit. I skipped over some of the beginning with Phillip Lanahan, and his gambling. It became repetitious listening to it, and generated no sympathy or kind feelings in me, for him
Phillip Lanahan, will later link into the plot. I just felt like the gambling fever, went on for too many pages. After much about Phillip and Dante the loan shark he gets himself deep in debt with.

Another story starts with Kinsey in Nordstrom's, splurging at a lingerie sale, looking for a birthday gift to herself, when she notices a woman shoplifting, and brings it to the attention of a sales clerk. I would have liked it much better if the book had started from this point instead of the long story line about Phillip and Dante the loan shark.

After the store detective comes down to arrest the shoplifter, Kinsey, notices the woman's accomplice, going into the ladies room. Of course, Kinsey being a P.I. follows her in. When the woman leaves, Kinsey goes into the same stall, and looks (ugh) into the napkin disposer and sees there are cut off sales tickets in it.

She rushes out to follow the woman and nearly gets run down by her in the parking garage. Later she curses herself for not getting the license plate number. This leads into how Kinsey uncovers a crime ring, and murders that are made to look like suicides. Kinsey, is unrelenting once she gets her teeth into a crime. She stops at nothing to gather evidence until she solves the mystery.

Unfortunately, Henry Pitts, her landlord has to fly to Michigan, to help his sister, who had fallen down and broken her hip. All the Sib's rally around to give her support and encouragement. So, Henry is not in V is for Vengeance, very much. I really missed Henry puttering around his garden, baking some treat, or working on a crossword puzzle.

There also, wasn't much about Rosie and her awful Hungarian food and terrible wines. I missed, Mary Peiffer's, narration of Rosie, as she does the accent so well and really brings out Rosie's personality. Judy Kaye fails to achieve the same excellent rendition as done by Mary Peiffer.

In past books we were introduced to some of Kinsey's recently discovered relatives and learned more about her past, there was no mention of any of them. The newspaper reporter Diana Alvarez, from  U is for Undertow, does not satisfy or make up for the missing Rosie, Henry or other substantiating people.

Sue Grafton, has crafted an excellent book, full of romance, action, mystery, but miles away from Kinsey Millhone's original character. Kinsey has to grow and have more involved cases as time goes by, except in the last few books it's getting harder to find the personality of the original and funnier Kinsey. Ms. Kaye's rendition takes us even further away from the essence of the characters.

I still recommend this as an excellent book, and a thrilling read,  just not as a Kinsey Millhone, feisty, chip on the shoulder gumshoe. I could enjoy Ms. Kaye's narrating, if it was another kind of detective story.

Just Add Trouble by Jinx Schwartz Narrator: Beth Richmond

Just Add Trouble by Jinx Schwartz
Beth Richmond Narrator

Just Add Trouble
Jinx Schwartz
Narrator: Beth Richmond
From: Books in Motion
8 hrs. 25mins

Beth Richmond, has a perky, buoyant voice, she enriches the fun and quirky nature of Hetta and her best friend Jan. Her rendition of the Hetta Coffey series is youthful, energetic and playful, and yet, she sounds sensitive and softer when reading the text parts. Ms. Richmond manages to bring so much energy and charm to Just Add Trouble. I don't have to know who is speaking, I know just by the distinctive changes Ms. Richmond makes.

Believe me, you will be captivated and enthralled and completely drawn into the book when you listen to a professional narrate and Beth Richmond is that narrator. Whether she is doing Hetta's mother, with the Texas drawl or Trouble, the bird singing,  How Much is that Birdie in the Window. You will be enchanted and drawn into the wacky world of Hetta Coffey, where what seems simple turns life threatening very quickly.

Even if you never had any special interest in sailing, yachting or lounging around beautiful coves in the Baja, that didn't include a 4 or 5 star hotel, you might find, that you'll develop not only some knowledge but a genuine interest in boating. Hetta and her boyfriend Janx are enjoying the sun, lounging around and taking timely dips in the waters of the Sea of Cortez, when a panga interrupts their idyllic day. Right away they can tell these guys are not fishermen, so they pretend they don't understand their Spanish, letting them think they are Europeans. When they try to board their boat to steal their gas, Hetta and Janx, show their weapons, Hetta's is a flare gun. I guess, a flare gun could do some serious damage. Janx's weapon wasn't much better, yet, it did the trick and the bad guys took off. Hetta is destined to meet up with them again later in the book and outwits them a second time.

Hetta is "loosely following the path of John Steinbeck's book The Log from the Sea of Cortez."... This may not sound exciting or interesting, but when Hetta does anything it is bound to be both. She mocks Steinbeck's lines about unexpected storms, only to learn she should have paid more attention. Later she ponders the name of an island, and translating from Spanish to English, it means covered in a shroud. After dropping anchor there, they are swarmed with thousands of no see'ums leaving her a red spotted, itching mess. Her medicine of choice, Preparation H. Her logic is, it says for swelling and itching.

Her friend Jan in Just Add Salt, hooked up with Chino and stayed in Mexico with him. In Just Add Trouble, Jan phones, Hetta, to let her know she is planning on marrying Chino, and gets Hetta involved in locating Chino's grandmother. According to Jan, she wants her blessings on their wedding. A storm has taken down communications in the town, so, Hetta and Jan decide they will try to get to the town and make sure she's safe. They neglect to tell Chino of their plans. Fit into all this, Hetta's aunt Lil, who is the aunt from hell, according to Hetta, Aunt Lil, "is a retired nurse of Ratched ilk"....  the unlovely nurse in, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Aunt Lil, asked Hetta's parents, to feed her bird, while she went away for a few days. They didn't want to, but ended up doing it anyway. The bird is cramping their style, when  auntie dearest, doesn't come back for the bird, and they want to hit the road for some RV time, sans the bird. They ask, Hetta, to bird sit, so they can take their vacation. Hetta, was glad she could say no, since she's in Mexico and has a job to do there and then has to go to California on another job. This type of bird is illegal in California. Who ends up with said, bird, Hetta, of course, her mother freights it off to her via nefarious means.

Hetta, just unexpectedly receives a package listed as jerky and she signs for it. It is jerky, but comes along with Trouble, the bird. It's his favorite treat. The bird is very talented, can sing, talks a lot and has a bad habit of attacking Mexican men. The birds name is Trouble, and boy does he ever cause a lot of it for Hetta. Everything about this book will keep you laughing, either with the birds antics, or Hetta's aunt Lil. There are of course some very hazardous events, nonetheless, Hetta manages to pull out of them in the end. I look forward to more adventures with Hetta and Jan in the future and trust that Beth Richmond, will once again be the narrator.

Jinx Schwartz has a wonderful sense of humor, it's not to be missed, and, Beth Richmond, does an amazing job of making it all come to life. I do suggest starting with the first book in the series, Just Add Water, and the second, Just Add Salt, after Just Add Trouble, look for the latest in the series, Just Deserts, available as a kindle download.


Step on a Crack by Mary Anderson, Narrator: Xe Sands

Step on a Crack
Mary Anderson
Narrator: Xe Sands
Publisher: Atheneum Books
4 hours 36 mins.
Young Adults


Narrator Xe Sands reading Step on a Crack by Mary Anderson
Narrator Xe Sands

XE Sands, has a marvelous reading voice, I had to smile when she did the Queen of Hearts, it was awesome. All of her Alice in Wonderland character voices were outstanding. Ms. Sands has such an amazing range of voices that it's very impressive. Xe Sands sounds very different narrating Thrill of the Chase by Christina Crooks. Now that is talent, Which is also an excellent narration. I love listening to her mellow and rather sensuous voice.To me there is a great difference between a sexy voice and a sensuous voice. Ms. Sands does the young girl Josie so convincingly you'd never think it wasn't a young girl speaking. If you haven't listened yet to any of the books that Xe Sands has narrated, then you're in for a treat.

Sarah, our young heroine has recurrent dreams that she's kept secret for most her life. Stealing something eases her anxiety and makes the dreams stop for a while at least. The dreams so terrify her and have gone on for most her life that she keeps them secret from everyone, including her mother. She knows stealing will eventually get her in trouble. Unknown to her, a school friend Josie, sees her stealing a scarf from a department store display. Josie is a brilliant girl with a photographic memory, but she's still too young to harness the powers of this talent. She runs across a psychology book in the school library with notations on the sides of significant paragraphs and recognizes that it has to be Sarah's notations. She approaches Sarah about seeing her steal the scarf, shows her the book notations, and offers to help her solve her problem if she will just tell her in more detail about it.

Sarah at first rejects Josie's offer and denies making the notes or stealing but later relents and tells her about the horrible dreams and how stealing something makes them stop, for awhile at least. Josie turns out to be a good partner, and leads them on a harrowing path of discovery. All is not as it seems on the surface with Sarah and her mother and her Aunt Cat. The girls uncover the truth and maybe wish they had not. This is a very provocative book if your an older reader as it will give you pause for thought about your own teenage years and relationships with your mother and close female relatives. If your a young adult the book is an exciting adventure that will give hope that no matter what, there are solutions to most problems. This was a good listen/read if you're an adult or a teen. You will really enjoy listening as Xe Sands does all the various voices so well that you immediately identify each person. Her narration is smooth and age appropriate. A real pleasure to listen to.


Just Add Salt by Jinx Schwartz, Narrated: by Beth Richmond

Just Add Salt
Hetta Coffey Series, Book 2
Jinx Schwartz
Narrator: Beth Richmond
9 hours, 30 minutes
 Books In Motion
Just Add Salt

Jinx Schwartz Author of Just Add Salt
Author: Jinx Schwartz

Narrator: Beth Richmond

Once again Beth Richmond has done an excellent narration for Just Add Salt. Ms.Richmond makes use of every nuance, and every emotion to further enhance the story. You can not help but laugh out loud when you hear her give such a skillful narration to the voices of Hetta and Jan while they banter, chide and argue with each other. The male voices are all distinctive and well done. You always know who is speaking. She never falters in maintaining the same voice for each person through out the book. It is such a pleasure listening to Ms.Richmond.

Hetta Coffey proud owner of The Seacock (renamed, The Raymond Johnson) is living on it full time, and working from her home office as an engineering consultant. She and her best friend Jan are looking forward to taking a trip on the Raymond Johnson, to Mexco with their latest love interests, Jenks Jenkins and his brother Lars. When a mutual friend hires Jenks and Lars to do a job in Kuwait, this kills all their plans for the Mexco vacation. Hetta is generously offered an iffy consulting job from Tanuki, in San Carlos, Mexico. She is not pleased at having her vacation delayed but the job offer in San Carlos pays well, so Hetta has to take it. Since her bank balance is thin and she with her usual twisted logic thinks by the time she finishes the job, they can meet up with the guys in Mexico and still have their vacation.

After checking her insurance policy she's happy to see she's well covered but when she goes into international waters she's required to have a three man crew. Hetta secretly knows she and Jan are not capable of sailing alone so far into the Pacific Ocean and as Jan repeatedly reminds her, that being able to jump " from waterfront dive to waterfront dive..."  is not the same as sailing over a thousand miles in the Pacific ocean. So the hunt is on to find a professional captain. Hetta, quickly discovers the going rates for a professional captain are staggering. After calling a few captains and they find out what time of year she is planning on sailing they turn her down, or just hang up on her. No one wants to be in Baja during hurricane season.

Lucky for her while bemoaning her fate at the Jack London Yacht Club, someone tells her there are men for hire called delivery captains and sports fisher captains that ferry sport fishing boats up and down the coast. Thrilled to have a pool of anxious to work delivery captains she's relieved that she will be able to sail after all and at a price she can afford. One day she gets a call from captain Fabio, a suspicious but capable captain and in her typical laissez faire attitude she decides the price is right and he is handsome. She hires him and they set sail. The trip proves to be full of unexpected adventures, from a love sick whale that thinks their yacht is a cute female whale to being in the center of a hurricane.

Hetta's job for Tanuki proves to be more dangerous and more involved than even she could could have imagined. Once again nothing goes as it should and they end up making a speedy departure from San Carlos and running for their lives, being chased down by an unscrupulous port captain. Hiding from him is fraught with dangers leading to an exciting and action packed conclusion. 

Jinx Schwartz has written some of the funniest and adventure packed books with the Hetta Coffey series and I promise you will not be disappointed with any of them. I am thrilled that she has come out with Just Deserts the 4th in the Hetta Coffey series. It is also available in kindle. I am hoping with fingers crossed that Beth Richmond will be the narrator again.


Narrator: Beth Richmond, Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartz

Just Add Water
A Hetta Coffey Series, book 1
Jinx Schwartz
Narrator: Beth Richmond

10 hours 23 mins.
Studios of Books in Motion

Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartz bookcover
Just Add Water  #1  Hetta Coffey 
Beth Richmond does a stellar job narrating this fun and somewhat playful mystery. She sounds age appropriate meaning that she can sound between 19 to 40. An excellent place to be as a narrator, giving her a wide range of audio books to narrate. She stresses words and phrases to manifest the meaning of the characters personalities. She understands and depicts the humorous phrases.

Beth Richmond Audio Book Narrator

Beth Richmond fully possesses this book and maintains the characters conversations to their fullest, drawing out every drop of humor and intent. Her flow is smooth and continuous. I enjoyed this already witty and excellent book all the more for having a great narrator like Beth Richmond. She truly catches the meaning of what she's reading and fills out with her voice all the personality and quirks of the characters. With her outstanding narration abilities you can sit back and enjoy the story.

Just Add Water is the first in the Hetta Coffey series. I love it when I find a wonderful new author and a fantastic narrator together. It's hard to do justice to this series as words defy bringing out the best of Just Add Water. The writing is tight, original, and very fresh. Beth Richmond truly heightens the story. I've listened to the first 3 in the series and enjoyed them all.

Audio Book Review: Just Add Water

Jinx Schwartz author photo
Author Jinx Schwartz
The prologue introduces Hetta Coffeys exiting boyfriend, Hudson Willa's, who has jilted her. He's a skunk and his life motto is " all's fair in love and crime..."  His conscience doesn't bother him at all when he walks out of her life, or of stealing money from her ATM card. His problem comes when he realizes that Hetta wears a small key around her neck that he gave her during the first days of their courtship. He knows at some point he's going to have to get it back.

Hetta five years later has moved on with her life. She and her best friend Jan have "'baited up..." and are enjoying brunch at a marina restaurant, when a power boat, at a recklessly high speed docks. They watch three men disembark, but are downcast as they are with three woman young enough to be their daughters.
They are all wearing red wind breakers with the name of the boat the "Sea cock" on the back. The men are Lars Jenkins and his brother Bob and Garrison the owner of the Sea Cock. Lars Jenkins seems taken with Jan.

Hetta eyes his brother Bob but he doesn't respond to any of her banter and flirting. Hetta slip's Jan's business card and home phone number to Lars under the table, since he does seem to be taken with Jan. This is the beginning of a long time relationship between them. Later after Lars, Bob, Garrison and their "campfire girls..."left, Hetta has more champagne, and starts thinking if she bought a boat they'd meet lots of men.

In the following days when she starts looking at ads for boats, and signing up for boating classes Jan is surprised as she thought it had been the champagne talking. Hetta ropes her into going to boating class and after getting more involved Jan begins to enjoy the prospects of it all. You have to love the antics and shenanigans these two gals get themselves into and the zany ways they extract themselves.

Jinx Schwartz has an amazing sense of humor that will have you laughing out loud and wishing you had a couple of girlfriends as brazen and cheeky as Hetta and Jan. I was a little put out with the sad events of Hetta's dog R. J. and wish there had been a happier ending for him. Other than that, this was an excellent book, full of laughs and clever banter. A couple lines I favored were "Real women don't have hot flashes they have power surges." or "trolloping for triceps..." gives an idea of the quirky humor.


The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849 Cecil Woodham-Smith Narrator: Frederick Davidson

The Great HungerIreland 1845-1849
Cecil Woodham-Smith
Narrator: Frederick Davidson

Duration:   18 hours, 22 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Subject(s): History-Nonfiction
The Great Hunger
Cecil Woodham-Smith

When a narrator has such an awesome voice and can narrate any type book with character and aplomb, it would seem there is little one could say except a breathless magnificent. Frederick Davidson is one such narrator. Winner of many awards, all well deserved and narrator of hundreds of books. I loved his narrations on many books and he is deeply missed by many in the audio book world. Sadly Frederick Davidson died and we will have no more audio books with his brilliant voice lulling us into another world of imagination, history or fantasy.
Frederick Davidson Audiobook Narrator, photo from narratorreviews
Frederick Davidson
Audiobook Narrator

I bought from Audible some time ago The History of the World updated by J. M. Roberts in 7 parts. I admire him so much for doing the Updated version as you can really tell how the throat cancer had affected his voice and took his life in 2008. Nonetheless, I've loved listening to every word. He also read under his real name, David Case, nom-de-plume of Edward Raleigh and James Nelson. No matter what name he recorded under you will immediately recognize his voice. He even made History of the World sound fascinating and interesting. Quite a challenge since most history books are dry and dull. I've listened to some other audio books on history narrated by less talented narrators and promptly dozed off.

So it is no surprise that his narration of The Great Hunger is superior. The scope of The Great Hunger is so vast that it takes some time to absorb and sort all that this amazing book offers. I'm sure (I hope) that most people have some knowledge of the potato famine in Ireland that caused great suffering and death for thousands of people. Those who could, migrated to different countries many went to Canada and the United States. That's just about all most people really know about the potato famine. What I didn't know was some landowners paid for the passage of their tenants just to get rid of them when the government was going to levy a tax on their estates.

The Great Hunger will bring to life in an enthralling way the reality of these terrible years for the Irish people. The disputes and animosity between Great Britain and Ireland are deeper and go further back in history than I had ever realized. The people of today's Ireland seem to prefer the Great Famine be called the Great Genocide because of the bumbling attempts of aid that were too late, too little or never decided on to begin with, was a decided genocide by Great Britain.

Cecil Blanche Woodham-Smith British historian and biographer.
Cecil Blanche Woodham-Smith.
British historian and biographer. 

The Great Hunger is a book that focuses the spot light, on those starving thousands and the horror of how they lived and died. You will end up knowing more about the Potato Famine that you never learned in school. The book covers the years from 1845 to 1849, there had been other potato blights and some starving times but none compared to the 1845-1849 period of time.

Frederick Davidson does such a wonderful narration that you will be glued to your audio device till you come to the final chapters. I advise you eat before you start listening to this book because you will find yourself becoming very hungry. It will wrench your heart out and if it doesn't you need to question your empathy quotient.
unearthed Victorian starvation victims

You can visit the Irish newspaper page here http://www.irishcentral.com/news/One-thousand-famine-victims-found-in-Irish-burial-site-132301653.html with pictures and an article on some graves newly located of famine victims. Please read it. In the twenty first century one would think that hunger in the world would be a thing of the past. I can only say that we have starving people in the world for the same reasons that caused the Irish Potato Famine. Greed of the few elite.


Scones and Bones by Laura Childs, Narrator: Barbara McCulloh

Scones and Bones                                                            
Laura Childs
Narrator: Barbara McCulloh
Recorded Books, LLC 
9 hrs and 35 mins

Scones and Bones Author Laura childs
Laura Childs Author

Barbara McCulloh narrator of Scones and Bones
Narrator Barbara McCulloh

Barbara McCulloh has a nice enough voice but she doesn't narrate this book very well. Her voice is more suited to another type audio book. McCulloh does a robust, clear and fantastic narration for Love on the Line, by Deeanne Gist, very different than Scones and Bones. Her reading of lavender morning by jude deveraux, is outstanding.

In Scones and Bones, she pauses to long at the end of a sentence or a word. Her reading is slow adding to the tedium of listening to her. Not all of the pauses are necessary and last way too long. Conversations sound un-natural and don't flow well at all. It was not possible to distinguish between male and female characters as their was not enough change in tone. I frequently had some trouble detecting which character was speaking. 

Her basic voice is fine and there are a few moments where she does reflect the intent of a phrase, sadly she doesn't maintain them. I was never able to listen to the story and become involved in it as I was always aware of her less than stellar rendition. The book Scones and Bones was not that interesting or well written so this could have been a bulwark to her being able to fully express her talents.

Stones and Bones was a flimsy story about a skull cup made from Blackbeards skull. Theodosia which is a mouthful for a name, attends a heritage society party that's featuring a Pirates and Plunder theme. The Skull cup has a nice sized diamond in it and it's the central item of the party. Someone at the party wants the skull cup enough to kill one and wound another to get it. The person killed, Rob Commer doesn't get much character development and neither does the wounded Camilla Hodges. Sadly I could make no connection or sympathy for either of them as they were so undeveloped.

The plot goes on to Theodosia at first not wanting to get involved in finding out who stole the cup and killed Rob. Of course with very little persuasion, she does get involved and maps out a plot to make the murderer show himself. Tidwell the main policeman is upset when he learns of her plan and is obliged to help her so that she doesn't get herself killed. She does get someone else in mortal danger and Tidwell and Theodosia try to save her. I really thought Theodosia was a nosy busybody and too bold, at one point to entering her neighbors house. Just because his back door is unlocked doesn't give her the right to enter.

I didn't like how she goes against what the policeman Tidwell wants to do and nearly gets him killed. I really didn't like Theodosia and none of the supporting characters were strong enough or personable enough to carry the already weak story. This was the first book I've listened too by this author or this series. I have some sympathy for Barbara McCulloh's valiant efforts to narrate it. I will give Barbara McCulloh another try on another book as her voice is not unpleasant and perhaps she was as bored as I was.

Scones and Bones book cover www.narratorreviews.org
Scones and Bones


The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly Peter Giles Narrator

The Fifth Witness

Michael Connelly

A Mickey Haller series, book 4

Narrator: Peter Giles

Publisher: AudioGo
Imprint: Hachette Audio
Length: 13 hrs. 54 mins.

Peter Giles does a superior narration for The Fifth Witness. His voice is very masculine and sometimes is a little whispery with a smooth  yet gravely sound , which is very sexy. For the character of Mickey Haller it's just perfect. Giles gives a tone of authority and strength to Haller, that would make one feel confident in Haller's knowledge and abilities as an attorney.

Narrator: Peter Giles
Peter Giles Narrator

The Fifth Witness is a rather long audio book and Peter Giles shows no signs of fatigue or change in voice as some narrators do when they become tired. A narrator that reads for too long before getting a break will show some fatigue in the volume and quality of what they are reading. When they come back from break there is a noticeable change in their voice for both quality, volume and enthusiasm.  He does excellent transitions between characters. His range of tonal qualities and varieties of voice are pleasing to the ear. I like Peter Giles smooth sexy voice so much that I'll be looking for him on other audio books.

Audio Book Review: The Fifth Witness

This is the first book I've listened to written by Michael Connelly. Turns out to be a winner. Moves along fast from the very beginning with no let up to catch a breath between each alarming event. Mickey Haller. is a clever and smart attorney. As Haller finds less and less work coming his way from his usual practice because of the economic turn down, he concentrates his skills into a fairly lucrative business, representing people that are being foreclosed on.

Battling banks and foreclosure mills, gaining each client,  months or even a year before they will have to move and forfeit their house. One particularly obnoxious client, Lisa Trammel proves to be an annoying and pesky person that he forebears as best he can. With her near daily calls, and hysterical screaming outburst, she can't be satisfied with letting Haller do his job as her attorney.

The Fifth Witness Author Michael Connelly image
Michael Connelly
Not content with running constant interference, she soon starts a website to rally followers against unjust foreclosings and starts picketing the bank. Mitchell Bondurant the mortgage banker, is soon part of her focus, she sees him as the person wanting to take her house from her. When someone murders Bondurant and Trammel is arrested for it, she calls Mickey Haller to defend her.

Lisa Tammel is pushy, brash, and has screaming and crying fits with anyone that opposes her. You'd think a little over five foot, school teacher would be docile and sweet natured and Lisa Tammel is definitely not that. I found the way Haller prepares his defense exciting and fast moving. Usually I don't care for long court scenes that are in so many mystery books but Michael Connelly mixes it up with lots of interesting gathering of evidence and investigation of witness's backgrounds.
Michael Connelly books listed in order.


As the Pig Turns by M. C. Beaton, Penelope Keith as Narrator,

As the Pig Turns by M. C. Beaton

As the Pig TurnsM. C. Beaton
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Publisher: AudioGoDuration: 6 hrs. 36 mins

I was concerned about Penelope Keith reading Agatha Raisin, as it turns out she does not disappoint. Donada Peters narrated most of the Agatha Raisin books beginning with the first one. Donada Peters captured the personality of the feisty, and sometimes mean spirited Agatha to perfection. I was quite addicted to Peters being the voice of Agatha. Often when they change a narrator of a long continuing series I find it disturbing as each reader influences the final outcome of the heart of the book and characters.

Penelope Keith, British actress and narrator
Penelope Keith, actress and narrator

Penelope  Keith does not lose any of the Agatha's plucky personality. She also reads the text perfectly and at a good pace. Giving due meaning to the intention of the author. Which in itself is a special talent. She does an excellent rendition of older people. Capturing their touchy and mulish behavior. Mrs Bloxby comes through as intended as the goodie two shoes vicar's wife. Her voice drips with kindness and concern. Penelope simpers and whines Roy's lament when he's kidnapped beautifully. Tightfisted and carefree Charles sounds just as manipulative and petty as when Peter's narrated the Agatha books. Penelope Keith has an excellent range of engaging voices.

As the Pig Turns is the 22nd. in the Agatha Raisin series. Agatha gets a ticket for blowing her nose by deputy Gary Beech. This leads Agatha to find out that he's the most hated deputy on the force. So many hate him it's hard to tell who killed him. Agatha surely wanted to. A big pig roast is planned for Varda a neighboring town. Agatha gets some friends to go with her and when the pig is brought out she sees something that isn't pig like. She yells for them to stop just as they're dropping the pig into the pit. She examines it closer and see's the pig head has been sewn on to a torso. 

Agatha investigates and uncovers many suspects and motives of people who hated the victim. Agatha becomes a suspect herself, when a neighbor with an ax to grind, reports to the police she over heard her complaining about officer Gary Beech, saying he deserved to roast on a spit like a pig or words to that effect. Agatha is of course inclined to find out who did the murder if for no reason other than to exonerate herself. Agatha is a bit more weepy than in past books, but still as deliciously outspoken.
M.C. Beaton Author, Aka Marion Chessney photo
M.C. Beaton Author

I suspect that M.C. Beaton does not get the recognition she deserves as a talented and outstanding author. Beaton uses Agatha Raisin as a vehicle to bash the nanny state, the ridiculousness of bureaucracy and indifferent companies, and the stupidity and rudeness of the police department. She even throws in social injustices from a more human and personal point of view such as the manual, the furnace man leaves is " a handbook in 6 languages, the size of a Bible."  Agatha says rude things the few people are willing to say but secretly think.

As the Pig Turns is a action packed and fun as all the other Agatha Raisin books are. I've loved every one of them.


Narrator: Rebecca Gibel, Through the Grinder, by Cleo Coyle

Through the Grinder

A Coffeehouse Mystery, book 2.
Author: Cleo Coyle

Narrator: Rebecca Gibel 

A Coffeehouse Mystery, book 2
by Cleo Coyle
Narrated by Rebecca Gibel

Publisher AudioGO

Duration: 8:08:44

Narrator Review: Rebecca Gibel
 Rebecca Gibel, narrator for Cleo Coyle imgae
Rebecca Gibel Narrator

It was a pleasure listening to Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle. Rebecca Gibel is an excellent reader and a good match for the character of Claire. I had to laugh a couple times when Ms. Gibel's is reading the character's thoughts about his murder plans. She does a good job with the scary, conniving voice of a murderer then it's the end of chapter and in a happy upbeat voice she says 'Chapter 21'. She had no trouble with rapidly switching between characters which was impressive. Her male voices are never over done. 

She is not just reading the book she is making it come to life and giving every character a unique voice. Conversational parts sound normal, with normal inflections that anyone might use saying the same phrases. She is so expressive and convincing that you're easily carried away listening and seeing the story in your minds eye. I really loved her narration of this book. Any author who has Rebecca Gibel narrating their book is lucky indeed. She is very skilled in her craft.

Cleo Coyle author photo

Cleo Coyle Author

Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle is a new series for me and I liked Through the Grinder very much. It has enough suspense to please any cozy or light murder mystery reader. There is enough plot to keep a person interested. I liked that the perspective was from the murderers point of view. The romance isn't drifting into overly explicit details. There were some very funny lines in the speed dating, online dating scenes. She joins the same dating online service that her daughter joined so she can make sure she is not meeting any jerks, perverts or other undesirables. 

Claire meets Bruce and they hit it off, soon Claire feels she's in love with Bruce. Unfortunately Bruce is a prime suspect for the murders. How can Claire come to grips with her feelings and that tiny bit of doubt that lingers in her mind. She tries to find the real killer to take the heat off Bruce. What else would a good sleuth do? An excellent narration by Rebecca Gibel, of a fun and quick moving book.


My love affair with audio books

iambik audiobooks & audiobookjukebox

My early book memories are of having my own library card when I was in about the 2nd. grade. I remember being disappointed that the books were short and mostly pictures. I soon went through all that the small, very small, local library had. Later when we moved to a city I was thrilled with the huge selection of children's books but soon gobbled them up too. I read everything they had by 5th & 6th grade. I resorted to the adult section for more to feed my lust for books. I've not stopped reading hard covers but have in the past number of years switched to loving audio books even more.
Narrators make a story pop or sizzle. The older I get the less time I have to turn those pages and the eyes are growing dimmer. Hit age 39 and voila, glasses are needed and it turns out to be difficult reading in bed with glasses on. Never got the hang of sticking something in my eye like contacts. So I've had a love affair with books since before I could even read. I think if you're a book lover you may like audio books as they leave you free to do chores, drive, or play a computer game.
     I'm loving http://iambik.com/ and recommend you visit them. I found several books I want and their prices are very reasonable. Also found two new narrators that I immediately loved. Cori Samuel.  Narrating Around the World in Stilettos. What a voice, I absolutely love listening to her and the book sounds great. I was doubly impressed that the sample is the first chapter. The other narrator is Xe Sands, narrating Step on a Crack by Mary Anderson. At first I wasn't that intrigued by the subject matter in Step on a Crack but Mary Anderson reads it so well I was rapidly drawn into the story and have to get it.
So please do visit http://iambik.com/ and for a big selection scout out audiobookjukebox.com for other audio book reviewers websites and blogs.


The Apothecary by Samantha Jillian Bayarr

An Ebook available from Amazonhttp://tinyurl.com/6359ylq

The Apothecary  is a good mixture of romance, ghosts, and mysteries from the past. Claire Mayfield discovers on her mother's passing that her mother had many secrets that she didn't share with anyone. So it came as a huge shock to find out that she is to inherit a haunted mansion, an orphanage, a cottage and a lot of ghosts.  Her mother's attorney stops Claire as she's leaving the cemetery and gives her his business card and tells her to contact him.
Claire insist that her mother didn't have much when she passed and thinks this attorney has the wrong girl or is just confused. Her best friend Emily, later convinces her that she has nothing to lose by making an appointment and after all he was attractive. Claire nearly faints when she snoops through the paperwork on the attorneys desk because she'd been having terrible nightmares about a house that looks like a photo in the folder. Already stressed from losing her mother and having nightmares she rushes out of the office. Feeling very scared and confused she's sure she doesn't want to see the attorney again. Emily keeps her balanced and sane and once again gets her to investigate what the attorney has to tell her. When she does, she's not sure she wants to accept the inheritance. After all who wants a mansion that the father was accused of killing all his children in and they've haunted the place for the past 100 years. No one's lived in it since. Spooky, very spooky. Overall a fun story and I am always a sucker for a ghost here and there.

Terri Clark Linden Narrator of The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

Wendy McClure author
Terri Clark Linden Narrator
The Wilder Life
Wendy McClure
Terri Clark
Duration:   10 hours, 37 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Terri C. Linden does such and excellent reading of this book that I had to check that it wasn't being read by the author. She definitely has a handle on Ms. McClure. Ms.Linden reads flawlessly, and manages to convey so much in her voice that it literally sets the mood.  This is one of the most outstanding narrations I've heard as she not only captures the personality of the author but the feel of the story. The story leaps to life under her amazing talent as a narrator.

The Wilder Life is about McClure's quest for getting a sense for the real Laura Ingalls Wilder from The Little House on the Prairie series. Wendy McClure's revived interest in Laura World as she calls it, comes from regaining her childhood books and reading them again. She then looks on Ebay to locate a butter churn to have a first hand experience of what it's like to churn your own butter. She searches the internet to gather as much information as possible about Laura and she takes us on that journey talking about the blogs, the books and her contacts with some of the authors. We are taken back in time as she visits many of the museums and places where the Wilder family lived and played out their lives. We even have a quest for the simpler life on a working farm that's run like it might have done in the days of the Wilders.

My favorite part was the overnight stay in a covered wagon. With no electricity, they used flashlights to find their way around to bunk down for the night. In the wee hours a horrendous storm was pounding and lashing all around them. Lightning was striking too close for comfort. As little shelter that the covered wagon gave them they were glad they were not outside in a tent. Chris, her boyfriend was such a sweet and supportive guy that when the storm woke him, he immediately said, "what about the crops".  He was so good at getting into the role playing to please Wendy. What a guy. Weather was always a concern for the Wilder's as they did and could lose their crops from heavy hail and high winds.

I had to overlook the frequent snipes, as so many things said, that were nice, were followed with or preceded by a curt comment. This was so frequent that it kind of lessened the pleasure of reading the book. I would like to have had more details about some of the locations like Plum Creek as I never watched Little House on the Prairie, and did not read the books. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book and was impressed with how well Ms. Linden narrated it.


The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston Narrator, Paul Michael Garcia

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

Charlie Huston
Paul Michael Garcia

Duration:    9 hours, 45 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Fiction - Suspense
Paul M. Garcia, Narrator,  photo image http://www.narratorreviews.blogspot.com/
Paul Michael Garcia, Narrator

Paul Michael Garcia does an outstanding rendition of Webster Goodhue. He captures the despondent, gloomy state of mind of Webster. accurately illustrating his emotions and thoughts. The text parts are read with clarity.  Huston's excellent descriptions and Garcia's narration gives an excellent visual image of the story. Like the homeless couple that lives in the alley behind his apartment they are hilarious with their drunken shouting and name calling, Garcia, fires them up.


Audio Book Review: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston

Webster Goodhue once an elementary school teacher and now shirker. Sponges off Chev, his best friend since childhood. Chev owns a seedy tattoo parlor and he's fed up with supporting him and keeps nagging him to get a job. Web marginally sustains himself by putting the touch on his hippie mother for money. Except he never knows how much she will send him so it's not a reliable income.

Chev is ready to kick Web out, when Po Sin the man who collects the bloody rags and needles from Chev's business, offers Web a job. Web reluctantly agrees to start the next morning.

What he doesn't know until he's the newest member on the Clean Team is just what his new job entails. The first work site is an old mans, who had been dead awhile and, he hoarded junk and used gallon milk jugs and baggies for his toilet needs. The place is crawling with roaches and filth. Yet, Web's need for money makes him go for the second day and it's a crime scene from a suicide that blew his brains out.

The suicides daughter Soledad and Web get tangled up in their own web together when she later calls him to do a clean up for her at a motel. He know's he shouldn't go, but, the pretty girl over rides his good sense and he is drawn into an element of society that he barely knew existed.

The most annoying and idiotic of that underworld is Soledad's half brother. There is a lot and I mean a lot of swearing, but considering the type of people involved it would seem strange if they didn't swear a lot. The book is very good, even though the trauma cleaner theme is repulsive. I'd give this 5 stars because it's original, and not the usual whodunit.


Ghost in Trouble by Carolyn Hart Narrated by Ann Marie Lee

Carolyn Hart
Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series, Book 3
Narrated by: Ann Marie Lee
Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins

Carolyn Hart author of Ghost in Trouble
Carolyn Hart Author

Ann Marie Lee narrator of Ghost in Trouble by Carolyn Hart
Narrator Ann Marie Lee

Ann Marie Lee was a good choice for Bailey Ruth, her voice is soft and feminine. There were several times when it was hard to tell that a male was speaking and a few spots where I couldn't tell who was speaking at all, for lack of change in voice. The highly emotionally charged sections were a bit over the top. Yet Ann Marie Lee does capture the character of Bailey Ruth. 

 Ghost in Trouble as a title doesn't seem to fit the story. The book is unnecessarily long and a lot of it is talk about clothes. There were many inappropriate references to Bailey's clothes. Some of them lengthy enough to break the story line. I also found it strange that Bailey can eat and drink. That's a new concept in ghostly activities.

In the first chapters Bailey was not able to open a locked door or do anything typical like pass through the wall, window or door. Much later in the book Bailey is doing just that and dropping through the floor into another room. In the two previous books in this series Bailey Ruth is able to talk and see people who have just died but in this book she doesn't seem able to do this.

Bailey has so little information regarding what she needs to do to help her charge, that it seems silly to have sent her at all. Overall the entire story is weak, and Bailey's personality goes between a dumb twit to a stellar investigator. The story line would have worked better if Bailey was in communication with the victim and together they worked through who killed him.


Fall of a Philanderer by Carola Dunn Narrator: Bernadette Dunn

Fall of a Philanderer: A Daisy Dalrymple Book 14
Carola Dunn
Bernadette Dunne
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Duration:   8 hours, 10 minutes

Fall of a Philanderer by Carola Dunn book imgae
Fall of a Philanderer
Bernadette Dunne Narrator, Image
Narrator, Bernadette Dunne

Bernadette Dunne  has a rather raspy voice and pauses after each word breaking the flow of a sentence. In the Daisy Dalrymple books this is terribly noticeable. She gives a little punch of emphasis to the end of almost every word. She does an excellent job for supporting characters and excels in the voices of children and women. Her rendition of a posh English accent was sometimes hard to understand.

With the male characters there were a number of times I could not tell by a voice change who was speaking. Her voice is not bad but not that appealing either. In books like The Haunting of Hill House, she narrates far better, but still lacks the smooth flow in the sentences. In The Devil Wears Prada she speaks more clearly but still is stilted and she pauses to long on each word. Her narration just does not flow. Yet her less than stellar narrations would not prevent me from purchasing more books she reads.

Carola Dunn Author image narratorreviews.org
Carola Dunn Author

Fall of a Philanderer book number 14, in the Daisy Dalrymple series was a fairly interesting listen. It had a huge amount of build up to the murder and a lot of secondary characters that didn't really create any rapport with of them. They lacked any firm dimensions. Ms.Dunn's voice is rather flat, making her rendition of Daisy's husband fail to emanate any closeness or genuine affection between them. The children are so well behaved that it's scary by today's standards. Of course it is taking place in the 1920's, perhaps children were less mischievous.

Daisy is looking forward to going on a quiet and uneventful seaside holiday with her husband, Alec Fletcher, step daughter Belinda, and Deva, Belinda's best friend. In a small village like Westcombe, they soon hear about the local lothario, George Enderby. No one is surprised when his corpse is found on the beach, with no end of husbands angry at him and his own wife counted among the numbers. So many suspects makes it difficult to find the murderer.

At the end when the murderer is revealed it seems to fall flat on its face. I was very disappointed in the finale. Way too much time was spent on investigation and great detail more on each suspect. We are presented with  huge build up on each suspect and then they don't play a very big role in the rest of the book. A good editor could have lopped off about two hours of this audio book and it would never have been missed.