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