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

Hike up Devil's Mountain
Author: Penny Estelle
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
1 hour 28 mins
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Young Adult

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Narrator, Wayne Farrell, exceeds himself in reading Hike Up Devil's Mountain. Mr. Farrell does some  outstanding variations of voices and convincingly represents the different boys personalities and ages. I laughed when I heard him croak out words in his frog voice, it truly was sensational. Farrell manages to capture the creepy mood and skillfully negotiates between anticipation and fear. It was wonderful the way he steps up the pace to maintain the tension and excitement as the boys face terrifying events on their trek up the spooky mountain. He makes you hold your breath in fearful excitement, and exhale in relief. Words can not describe what a fantastic job Farrell does to increase the fear factor, entice out every nuance and notch it up to and exciting pitch. Hike Up Devil's Mountain, showcases how very talented a narrator Wayne Farrell is.

Hike Up Devil's Mountain, is a short story, only an hour and twenty eight minutes, but every
minute of the story is action packed and full of adventures, mystery, magic, and excitement, all things we know ten year old boys are searching for and thinking about. Andy a typical ten year old does what we expect a boy will do, disobey his parents. The temptation of a neighboring abandoned house is more than Andy can resist. Entering the eerie dank basement, shaking with fear he cautiously explores and finds a small box with a shinning stick inside, he is surprised it glows but it doesn't burn or feel threatening

Unexpectedly, the bully Jason and his brother Danny, show up and Jason taunts him. Andy tries to spoof Jason and tells him the building is being turned down because the witch that lived there was banished to Devil's Mountain. Jason isn't buying it and notices the glowing stick in Andy's hand and tries to wrestle it away from him. Andy is not going to let his new found treasure go easily and is going to fight hard to keep it. A bit of name calling causes some unexpected events and suddenly the tables are turned and a now transformed Jason is no longer a threat to Andy but a problem. Harmless, as a toad now, Andy and Danny try to figure out how to turn Jason back into a boy. They have decided the glowing stick is what turned Jason into an ugly toad, but it's not glowing any longer and try as they might they can't make it glow or turn Jason back into himself.

Getting panicky and very scared they settle on having to go up Devil's Mountain and find the witch. They are convinced she is the only one that can take the spell off of Jason and turn him back into a boy. With a complaining Jason in Danny's pocket they set out on the scariest journey of their lives.
I highly recommend this audio book to anyone age 8 and up. A wonderful listen for a parent(s) to enjoy with their youngster. It might be a bit too scary for under the age of 8 but thoroughly enjoyable up to grandma's age. I loved this book, it was fast moving, well written and Wayne Farrell added a lot of flavor to it.
You can listen here https://soundcloud.com/wayne-farrell-narrator to some of Wayne Farrell's other audio book clips. I bet you can't listen to just one.


And They Called Her Spider, Michael Coorlim Narrator: Wayne Farrell

And They Called Her Spider
Michael Coorlim
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
56 minutes
And They Called Her Spider

Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Wayne Farrell is a master at sounding incredibly spooky, you just know from the get go that this is going to be a spooky, weird, and spine chilling story. I love his accent and the timbre of his voice. He truly has a voice and talent you will never get tired of hearing. Each book he narrates is singular and exceptional. I always look forward to a book he is narrating whether its my favored genre or not. I especially love the twisted or creepy ones as no one except perhaps Vincent Price is competition for Wayne Farrell.

And They Called Her Spider a Steampunk short story by Michael Coorlim, will please any steampunk fan. Set in an alternate Victorian Age, detectives Bartleby the savant and the inventor, Wainwright, are hired to find and destroy or at least capture the mad serial killer that seems to appear and vanish in the blink of an eye. The Spider manages to kill people with the highest of security and the most visibility. How does she do it? Can Bartleby and Wainwright catch the Spider before the Queen's Jubilee?
This is a rather short story full of intrigue, excitement and above all the strange and quirky. Wayne Farrell does this story justice in a big way, making every nuance sparkle. Look at that sweet and kind face of Wayne Farrell, who would suspect him of having such a voice.

Deborah Goes to Dover by Marion Chesney, Narrator: Helen Lisanti

Deborah Goes to Dover
M. C. Beaton writing as Marion Chesney
Narrator: Helen Lisanti
5 hours 30 minutes
AudioGo producer

M.C. Beaton writing as Marion Chesney
M. C. Beaton Writing as Marion Chesney

photo of Narrator Helen Lisanti
Helen Lisanti, Narrator

Narrator Helen Lisanti once again does a credible and outstanding narration of Marion Chesney's The Traveling Matchmaker Series. Ms. Lisanti expresses the characters just as I imagine they might sound and does the changes of gender and age so well that you will never lose track of plot or the personalities. I give double applause for her correct pronunciation of wifery. Helen Lisanti has a lovely soft and rolling voice that is still capable of producing the voice of a shrill, impudent miss, or the affectionate tones of a lover. All in all, Ms. Lisanti gives an enjoyable listen and is a hit in my book. You can rest assured that any audio book she is narrating, will be an excellent listen. I have enjoyed the four books from Marion Chesney, in the Matchmaker series, and my pleasure has been enhanced immensely by a fine narration.

Matchmaker Miss Hannah Pym, had a close call in losing her beloved to a Miss Sparecroft. When that fell through, instead of sighing with relief she is fretting about Sir George being vulnerable to any pretty face that sets her cap on him. Finally in love at last, it isn't bringing her the joy she might have hoped for. Sir George is above her station in life, making a match with him nearly unreachable  she having been his deceased  brothers housekeeper.

Miss Pym, has hopes and one can't dictate the vagaries of the heart. It does seem clear from the previous books that Sir George, is rather smitten with Miss Pym, and enjoys her tales of adventure when she travels on the flying machine. The flying machine being the stage coach in 1800. So off on a new adventure to Dover she goes, although with a heavy heart, she knows her adventures amuse Sir George, and it is her link to maintaining a relationship with him.

The passengers on the Tally Ho coach are a bit of a disappointment to Miss Pym, they appear a drab lot, not promising much in the way of interest or adventures. When the Tally Ho, left for Dover the weather was sunny and fine, but once on the road a day or two it turned chilly and rainy. not a good time to travel in a stagecoach when the rain turns the meager roads into muck.

When the coachman has a burst of recklessness, he fans his team of horses and urges them to racing speed, when a return coach from Dover looms before him. Collision is unavoidable and the Tally Ho, topples over into a ditch. After rescue they are taken to the Crown Inn, where Hannah falls sick with a fever and her footman Benjamin takes care of her, then disappears. Frantic to locate him and worried some evil befell him, she learns that Benjamin has run up a higher gambling debt than any previous ones.

Benjamin is more resourceful that she gave him credit for, when she locates him in a neighboring town just about ready to fight the unbeatable Randal. The purse is big, the town is full, and excitement is high in anticipation of the prize fight. Hannah Pym meets Lord William Weston and his twin sister Lady Deborah at the fight and although there seemed to be slim pickings for a matchmaking event with her fellow travelers, the chance meeting with the twins proves to be more fruitful with Lady Deborah.

Deborah a hoydenish tomboy is promised to marry an older man and of course she has no desire to marry anyone, let alone an old man. She's happy with hunting and fishing with her twin brother and dreads giving up her idyllic life in exchange for babies and diapers.

Hannah Pym is challenged with finding a way to match her with someone more to Deborah's liking.
Fate has thrown Miss Pym some obstacles to waylay the best of her plans, nonetheless luck intervenes and she attains her goals, but not so well with her own object of desire. Progress is slow with Sir George but encouraging.


Mr. Darcy's Letter: Abigail Reynolds, Narrator: Pearl Hewitt

Mr. Darcy's Letter
Author: Abigail Reynolds
Narrator: Pearl Hewitt
Provider: Abigail Young
9 hours 32 minutes
Mr. Darcy's Letter Author: Abigail Reynolds

Pearl Hewitt, Narrator

A marvelous narration by Pearl Hewitt, Ms. Hewitt has a lovely, feminine and musical voice, and she uses it to her fullest advantage. Every character is given a most definite voice, no blurring of tones, Masculine voices are excellent, I had to laugh when Ms. Hewitt, did a laugh of scorn from Mr. Darcy. It was fabulous. She easily finesses the females characterizations so skillfully, you can almost feel like you are in that time and place with them all. The book is well written, with interesting and charming people, paired with a skilled and talented narrator makes for an exciting listen. Mr. Darcy's Letter is a journey into another century. I'm not a big fan of Jane Austin. Some of the current writings such as Mr. Darcy's Letter, in comparison are more lively, realistic and inviting to listen to.

No one could be disappointed listening to this narration, it is one of the finest. I loved the quick change between a higher pitched, squeaky voice of simpering Lydia, addressing Elizabeth, it was so distinctive, it sounded just like another woman talking. When Elizabeth responds to Lydia, her voice is again the lilting, smooth voice that is Elizabeth. Amazing, outstanding. The interchange between Elizabeth, Lydia and Mr. Wickham, was an academy award winning performance. There is absolutely no artifice in Hewitt's narration, she is so smooth and realistic sounding. Pearl Hewitt is a  perfect fit for a Regency Romance. I adore her narration of this book and you will too.

The author of, Mr. Darcy's Letter, Abigail Reynolds has pulled together an intriguing and interesting story.  It might be thought that a plot about little more, than a gentlemans interest in a woman and his desire to marry her, and the woman, having the wrong idea of his character, and she despises him, would not create a story of so many intrigues, misunderstandings and disasters. Yet, in an entertaining and believable way Ms. Reynolds has accomplished all of this, in her 'what if ' scenario 

Mr. Darcy is in love with Elizabeth Bennet and she hates him as much as he loves her. In desperation Darcy spends an entire evening composing a letter declaring his love and intentions and presenting a defense against the falsehoods lodged against him. Elizabeth refuses the letter knowing if she accepted it, it could be construed as an acceptance of marriage. Frustrated, Darcy devises another plan to get his letter to Elizabeth whether she wants it or not. Angry at his impudence Elizabeth tosses the letter unread into the fireplace.
Elizabeth thinks her friend Wickham is honest and upright and believes his lies against Mr. Darcy.
Poor Mr. Darcy, he has to work very hard to gain Elizabeths respect and attention.

Elizabeth speaks to Wickham about Darcy and is aghast that Wickham thinks she is foolish to turn down Mr. Darcy, that Darcy is handsome, wealthy and will provide her an enviable life. Elizabeth ponders these things but until fate brings her face to face with Darcy and she see's another side of him only then, does she soften her thoughts about him. When she learns the truth about the lies against him she is sorrowful, as she has deeply hurt and distressed Darcy's sister.

Darcy seizes an opportunity to kiss her and that kiss leaves Elizabeth weak in the knees and wanting more. The relationship grows from there and blossoms within the strictures of polite society. The characters are well developed so much so you feel like you know them.

The bulk of the book is about the social activities, restrictions and rules that must be lived by and social intercourse. Having few preconceived ideas about Jane Austin or her books, unlike her fans, I can't compare what I'm reading/listening too, with what she may have written or thought of the plot. I just enjoy and go along for the ride happily unaware  I can't imagine the famous Jane Austin would have anything but good things to say about Mr. Darcy's Letter. Pearl Hewitt is such a talented and gifted narrator and is a perfect match that will bring you hours of listening pleasure.


The White Angel Murder, author, Victor Methos Narrator: Wayne Farrell

The White Angel Murder
Victor Methos
Narrator: Wayne Farrell
Producer: Yossof Sharifi
8 hours 4 mins.
The White Angel Murder by Victor MethosNarrator: Wayne Farrell
Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Wayne Farrell has a nice deep and very masculine voice, well suited for a good mystery story.
He has a pleasant and light accent which adds interest and dimension to the plot. Wayne does some
excellent variations for the secondary characters and even does a reasonable southern accent and American. I'm impressed with not only the quality of his reading but with his varied and expansive range of emotions like the scorn of a low income housing area. Very nicely done on the tough guy parts or the bored by stander. Wayne is a very high quality and talented narrator who is sure to become popular with audio book listeners very quickly.

The White Angel Murder is a carefully paced plot about Jonathan Stanton, who has been asked to become part of a team of highly qualified and experienced people to investigate cold case murders. Some are a bit gruesome in their description and like most cold cases they are hard to solve after many years have passed. Stanton becomes fixated on the case assigned to him of a twenty three year old girl that had moved to Los Angeles, San Diego area for the typical reasons that many young people do.
Her murder was so gruesome and sadistic that just reading the files makes Stanton sick. As he progress through the investigation he becomes suspicious that the murderer is a police officer. Stanton is unrelenting in his pursuit and has to use whatever devious methods he can to find out more about his suspect. Stanton seemed a likable if not over zealous character and his religious convictions seem to make him say or do things not in his own interest. As a detective Stanton was skilled and persistent, in his personal life not so much. I felt the characters were well rounded and fleshed out nicely so I was not bored or disinterested in any of them. Overall the story follows typical police procedure but with more of the more illegal side of a police department threaded throughout. The story seemed more exciting and faster moving towards the end of the book whereas the beginning and middle plodded along more. There were more graphic descriptions of crimes than I care to read, putting it into the genre of my personal black list. I just do not like explicit crimes against women.
 I had to skip forward a couple time to avoid listening to so much detail about sexual crimes. I'm sure many men will enjoy this book as they are less squeamish about such things than I am. Wayne Farrell does a nice portrayal of Stanton's low key  personality as an introspective and considerate person. It was an interesting touch that Stanton is a Mormon and stands by his religious convictions even though they lead him to have a more lonely and singular life. There are many surprising twists and turns as the plot unfolds leading to a satisfying and exciting conclusion.


Belinda Goes to Bath, M. C. Beaton, Narrator: Helen Lisanti

Belinda Goes to Bath
The Traveling Matchmaker, book 2
M. C. Beaton, writing as Marion Chesney
Narrator: Helen Lisanti
5 hours 27 minutes
Mp3 Download

Author M.C. Beaton
Author M.C. Beaton

Narrator Helen Lisanti
Narrator Helen Lisanti

The charming and melodious voice of Helen Lisanti is narrator for the second book in The Traveling Matchmaker series Belinda Goes to Bath. The subtle, touches of trepidation in Mrs. Judd voice, quavering with fear is so well done.The bully of a husband, Mr. Judd, sounds so harsh and mean. I liked the pace Ms. Lisanti keeps while reading, expressing excitement, fear, and scorn, without missing a beat. At the same time she is consistently reading the story very smoothly and in a pleasant way. It is amazing how Ms. Lisanti, is able to put so much interpretation into a single word. Listening to Ms. Lisanti is a promised delivery of excellence in every-way.

In Belinda Goes to Bath, Hannah Pym, a great lover of traveling on the Flying Machine, as the stagecoach was called then, was full of eager anticipation of some adventure and excitement. She meets nineteen-year-old Belinda Earle who is traveling to Bath with Miss Wimple, her spiteful hired companion. Belinda is to be banished to the care of her strict and religious, Great Aunt Harriet.

Belinda’s shame is, she failed to find a suitable husband during her coming out season, and then she ran off with a footman. The footman never intended to marry her, and leaves her stranded and alone in London.
Shamed and crushed, she found her own way home and faced the scorn and punishment of her family. Both her parents had died in the smallpox epidemic, leaving Belinda in the care of her aunt and uncle, they expect her to marry a titled man, and one that is well heeled.  Belinda is not a particularly pretty girl, and far too outspoken, not popular characteristics for the times.Young women were supposed to twitter, giggle and be a bit empty-headed. Prospects for Belinda, do not look good.

Hannah, befriends Belinda, when the testy Miss Wimple, dozes off and Belinda tells her the tale of her banishment. Before long, the cold, and the snow, cause all of them to drink to much at each post stop, leaving them with various degrees of fatigue and hangovers. The coachman drinking far more than the passengers, falls asleep and overturns the coach into a river. Fortunately, they are rescued and taken by the Marquis of Frenton, to his home Baddle Castle.

Lord Frenton, has ulterior motives for not taking them to the nearest Inn, instead of his home. He has houseguests that he is very sorry he invited. He met Miss Penelope Jordan at her coming out ball, and found her beautiful, a potential marriage partner, to grace his home. He thought by inviting another couple, he could get to know her better and decide if she would make a good wife and companion. Bad weather prevented the other guests from accepting his invitation, leaving Miss Penelope, to assume that Lord Frenton was intent on marrying her. It doesn't take long for Lord Frenton to discover that although Penelope is very beautiful, she is not very nice. He especially does not like the way she has presented herself as lady of the manor, when he has not yet, asked her to marry him. He is hoping the presence of the coach passengers, will act as a buffer between himself and the Jordan's.

Due to Miss Wimple's head injury, and Belinda's severely sprained ankle, they are delayed at the castle longer than any of them expected. During their stay, we are drawn further into each passengers story, as well as Penelope Jordan and her parents. Ms. Jordan, has her nose put out of joint when the lord of the manors attention and eye, wanders to the more interesting Belinda Earle. Ignoring Belinda's protestations that she has no desire to marry after the episode with the worthless footman, Hannah Pym, is determined to have Belinda engaged to the Marquis, before reaching Bath.Through her stratagems and crafty intrigues Hannah, will successfully maneuver all relationships on to the roads that she desires. Oh, that she could be as successful with her own recently ignited desire for romance. This is a fun, and fairly typical light, Regency Romance, made interesting by the highly skilled talents of M. C. Beaton to make the typical sound fascinating. Lisanti gives it dimension and elevates it to another level of pleasure.


M. C. Beaton, Emily goes to Exeter, Narrator: Helen Lesanti

Emily Goes to Exeter Cover Image author M. C. Beaton
Emily Goes to Exeter, by M. C. Beaton

Emily goes to Exeter
The Traveling Matchmaker Series, book 1.
M. C. Beaton, writing as Marion Chesney            
Narrator: Helen Lesanti
5 hours 39 minutes
Helen Lesanti Narrator Image. narratorreviews.org
Helen Lesanti, Narrator

Helen Lesanti, narrator for Emily Goes to Exeter, has a lovely voice for a Regency Romance, her gentle and kindly sounding characterizations give a legitimacy to the era and setting. Lesanti's voice is universal for all ages, Hannah, a forty five year old spinster, is given a firm voice that is use to having her orders obeyed, yet maintains an innocence appropriate to her naiveness. Her younger voices are expressive and youthful for Emily and her friends, evoking good mental images of their frivolity, moody, and highly emotional natures. I was very taken with her lecherous vagabond, who attempts to assault Emily. Lesanti's, reading is smooth and well paced , with great dramatization. I was quickly engrossed in the story, because of Lesanti's excellent reading.

Audio Book Review: Emily Goes to Exeter by M. C. Beaton

Hannah Pym, went into service at the tender age of twelve, through the years, she worked her way up from scullery maid, and finally to housekeeper for the Clarence family. Hannah was happy and content in her work, she liked her employers and there had been more than enough going on to keep her busy as, Mrs. Clarence, frequently had house guest, hosted lavish parties, and infused energy into the mansion.

When Mrs. Clarence, runs off with the footman, never to be heard from again, Mr. Clarence, falls into a deep depression, rooms are shut off, there are no more parties, few house guests, and soon half the staff, are let go, with fewer duties to perform, Hannah, starts retreating into her own dream world, daily watching for the Flying Machine, as the stagecoach was then called, she yearns to be on that Flying Machine, off on some exciting adventures of her own.

When Mr. Clarence passes away, his brother Sir George, inherits the house. The relatives are gathered and the will is read, they learn Mr. Clarence, has been very generous with the servants, he bequeaths Hannah, five thousands pounds. She is overcome, and very pleased, as an heiress she can now do as she likes.

Sir George, is a kind gentleman, he asks her what she plans to do now she is an independent woman. Hannah, has no hesitation about her decision, she wants to travel on the Flying Machine, somewhere, anywhere. Sir George, points out the hazards of traveling in winter, Hannah, is not discouraged and is eager to begin her own adventures. Sir George helps her arrange her affairs, and she sets off the following week for Exeter, on the Flying Machine. Sir George, has an attraction to Hannah, and wants her to return when her adventure is over and tell him about her journey.

Sir George’s warnings are prophetic, a three-day journey to Exeter, with a drunken stagecoach driver, finds them overturned in the snow, but soon rescued, the passengers are drenched, tired and traumatized, yet, the stubborn coachman insist on continuing the journey. Further disasters befall them and raging snowstorms lengthen their trip. 

They all become very well acquainted when stranded together at an Inn. Hannah, discovers none of her fellow passengers are who they present themselves to be, and with all the mishaps on their journey we get to know each of the passengers traveling with Hannah, quite well. 

Hannah, for the first time in her life has found her wings as matchmaker for more than one couple on the journey to Exeter, and is far more resourceful than she could have ever imagined. With guidance and a firm hand from Hannah, Emily, learns to be less snobbish, and arrogant, and finds her inner substance.

Only M. C. Beaton, could devise such a treacherous plot, with many sideline stories that she interweaves into a satisfying mystery, romance, and action packed tale. Beaton, is a truly fine author, her characters always are captivating, the weather is always a mood setting part of the tale, and she never disappoints.  


There's Nothing to Be Afraid Of: Marcia Muller, Narrator: Laura Hicks A Sharon McCone Mystery, Book 7

There's Nothing to Be Afraid Of:
A Sharon McCone Mystery, Book 7
Marcia Muller
Narrator: Laura Hicks
7 hours 33 minutes
Whispersync for Voice: Yes

Laura Hicks Narrator for Marcia Muller Sharon McCone Mystery Series
Narrator: Laura Hicks
Narrator, Laura Hicks, does a great performance of Sharon McCone, her voice could be defined as young, or up to woman in her middle years. Her character interpretations are excellent. Her definition of foreign characters is outstanding. Ms. Hicks easily and skillfully, alternates between male or female characters. Author, Marcia Muller, has created a long running series of books for Sharon McCone, pre-dating some other mystery series authors. Laura Hicks, does justice to all of the Marcia Muller series that she has narrated. The first in the series, Edwin of the Iron Shoes, was first published in 1977, Sharon McCone since then has developed into a stronger more mature personality. Laura Hicks, has grown along with McCone, never losing the basic personality of Sharon. Between the first book, 1977, to the current edition, 2012, there have been a few other narrators, the similarity in their voices, makes it easier to maintain the original essence of Sharon McCone.

Marcia Muller Author of Sharon McCone Mystery Series
 Marcia Muller Author

Marcia Muller, conveys a deep and detailed impression of the people and territory of San Francisco. There's Nothing to Be Afraid Of, gives an excellent taste of the city and the population of the tenderloin. Prior to the influx of Vietnamese refuges, the tenderloin was populated with many homeless and semi homeless people. As in 2012, many, had problems with drug addiction or alcohol or both. As the population continues to increase, livable places have become more scarce and pricier. If you have any interest in history, San Francisco, or the underbelly of the city, the Sharon McCone, mysteries is like a mini sneak peak into the past.

The Vietnamese residents, of the Globe hotel, located in the middle of the tenderloin, hire Private Investigator Sharon McCone to find out who, is terrifying them and their children. someone is scaring their children when they return from school, shadowy figures jump out at them, the electricity goes off unexpectedly and ghostly shadows play on the walls.

McCone, delves into questioning people, explores every nook and cranny of the Globe hotel, and finally interviews the owner. The owner seems to have the most to gain from ridding the hotel of the Vietnamese residents. Since he is unable to find a buyer, let alone get anyone to look at the building, McCone focuses on him, even as she continues to look for others with a motive to scare the gentle and unobtrusive residents.

McCone, is feeling some stress and in conflict with other workers at All Souls Legal Cooperative. McCone, has been on their staff for a number of years, previously she enjoyed a good relationship with them, she's baffled about their recent snubbing of her. When she gets a note on her car, telling her to not park in the space she has been parking in for a long time, that it is reserved for lawyers, her B.S. meter goes berserk. Its concrete evidence to her, that what she only previously sensed, as a shunning, is out and out warfare.

The stress in her work environment is threatening to overflow into her investigation work. She resolves to get to the bottom of it, and quickly. McCone, is lead into the seedy, porn industry and meets up with some of the local color, a poet loving, man, who is mentally unstable, and the zealot preacher, who spends his days preaching on street corners. Things turn serious when a sixteen year old boy is found murdered and another young man has disappeared. As McCone, sifts through the suspects, we are treated with insights into Vietnamese traditions, San Francisco history, and a huge cast of supporting characters, full of enough surprises and variety, to keep you listening, or turning those pages.

Marcia Muller There's Nothing to Be Afraid of
There's Nothing to be Afraid Of
Author: Marcia Muller
Narrator: Laura Hicks


A Sea of Troubles, Donna Leon Narrator: David Colacci

A Sea of Troubles
Donna LeonNarrator: David Colacci

Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery book 10

8 hours 7 minutes

 David Colacci Narrator for Donna Leon
David Colacci

Narrator Review: David Colacci

I loved listening to David Colacci narrate Donna Leon's, Guido Brunetti series, his voice is so deep and sonorous, and is slightly tinged with an accent, Venetian? Italian? He gives emphasis to words as he's reading that are rather musical or, well I don't know what, but it gives such an interesting touch to his narration, making for a much more interesting listen.

That is when he is reading text, just wait till he starts getting into character dialog. Amazing, sounds so authentic, as Brunetti he brings out the slightly laid back personality and casual introspective way of solving a crime. Colacci does not sound laid back or slow at all, it's just the way he personifies Brunetti, that you can grasp the personality of this amusing and intelligent policeman.

He does Paola, Brunetti's wife in a nearly female voice. The contrast between Brunetti and Paola is just enough to tell which one is speaking, using a very different intonation for Paola, creating an atmosphere of simpatico between them. Vocalizations for the various fishermen and policeman, could not be more perfect.

A Sea of Troubles, A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery  Donna Leon

Author Donna Leon

Audio Book Review: A Sea of Troubles

In A Sea of Troubles, the wee hours of the morning brings a tremendous explosion, that rouses a small fishing village on the Island of Pellestrina, the fire is intense and spreading fast. Men, women and children, leap from their beds to discover the cause of the disturbance. Villagers in mass, throw open doors and begin running towards the harbor in a variety of dress and undress, men frantically jump in their own boats to back them away from the onslaught of flames.

When the excitement settles down and boats are rescued, two villagers are missing. Slowly, the crowd disperses and they return to their own cottages, it is not till the next day that anyone calls the police to report Julio and his son, Marco as missing. Stranger still is, it's not a villager, but the insurance agent, of a fisherman, who calls the police. Confusion within police departments, brings an ill equipped department, who were not informed that the bodies were at the bottom of the sea.

Sergeant Vianello is on hand when divers search the sunken boat. Vianello, he immediately can see that Julio and Marco were murdered when they bring up the bodies. He also knows the people in the village are a very close knit community and closed mouth, especially with outsiders. He calls his boss, Commissario Brunetti, to ask how to proceed. Brunetti, tells him to try and keep it quiet that it's murder and not an accident, and he'll be there as quick as he can.

Brunetti and Vianello find their investigations have reaped them very few clues. They see, they need someone with a connection to the village, to solve this murder. The lovely, intelligent, and well connected, Signorina Elettra, offers to go to Pellestrina and snoop around for them. It's a tempting idea, yet, there are fears for her safety, and this concerns the police.

She is more sure of herself and not too concerned, as she spends a weeks vacation on the island and visits her relatives, once a year. She goes to Pellestrina, disregarding Brunetti's misgivings. He reluctantly has to allow it, as the villagers, on questioning, only will answer direct questions and, with as few words as possible. When Brunetti tells his wife, Paola, what Signorina Elettra, is going to do, Paola, is angry and goes ballistic on him for allowing a woman to do this. Brunetti does place a young policeman, on the island to keep an eye on her, for safety. She mingles with the villagers and keeps her eyes and ears open, to any mention of Julio or Marco.

When a woman is pulled up in a fishing net, Brunetti, has a heart stopping moment, fearful that Elettra, met with foul play. He hastens to the island to investigate, and feels guiltless relief when he see's it is not Elettra. It's a constant battle of wits against the fishing village, when no one will reveal the reason Marco's father was despised by everyone. Brunetti and Vianello, persist in chipping away at the residents until all the clues fall in place.

Peppered throughout all of Leon's books are tons of unnecessary phrases, qualifiers and debris. As in, "he, pushed open the door, and held it for Brunetti. Then pulled it closed behind them"  After entering and opening the door, we can assume it closed behind them, the wind pushed it closed or we don't care if he closed the door. The sentence would only be adding to the scene if it slammed on his foot, or closed so fast it broke his finger, or something, but to just add, he shut the door is superfluous.

If not for the amazing narration by David Colacci , I can only say that it would be quite boring to read so much detail as the opening and closing of the door or about the table in the restaurant. From "a small vase of wildflowers, stood to left of the bottles of olive oil and vinegar" then we get further detail about the wicker basket holding the bread sticks, in two languages. An entire chapter is predominantly devoted to going to this restaurant, what it looks, like, all in excruciating detail. Would have been a much better book if it had been edited. Colacci does take the edge off and manages to get through these dull details. His vocalizations of the local people is beyond outstanding.


The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner, Narrator: Olivia Thirlby

The Next Best Thing
Jennifer Weiner
Narrator: Olivia Thirlby
12 hours 9 minutes
Simon & Schuster AudioWorks

The Next Best Thing Jennifer Weiner
Narrator Jennifer Weiner

Narrator Olivia Thirlby reading The Next Best Thing
Olivia Thirlby

Narrator Olivia Thirlby, maintains an appropriate low key voice from beginning to end of the book, staying in sync with the overall message of the story. Her dialogs are very well done, with characteristics of each person coming through nicely. Thirlby, narrates so well, that you soon find your not listening but engaged, while she is bringing into your mind vivid imagery of events and conversations. Her voice is pleasant and easy on the ears. It was especially enjoyable that Olivia Thirlby, is close to the age of our protagonist, Ruth Sauders, and she is a skilled enough narrator to do older people in a way that is appropriate and not offensive.
An excellent narrator, I can confidently recommend that any book she narrates, is going to be an excellent listen. If you have not heard any other narrations by Olivia Thirlby, then Jennifer Weiners, The Next Best Thing, is an excellent one to start with.  Jennifer Weiner's books are not the run of the mill, girl meets boy, her plots are more robust and realistic, easily related to by the reader.

I thank Simon & Schuster for providing a fine 11 CD, set of The Next Best Thing for review. This has not in anyway influenced my review of the narrator, Olivia Thirlby or Jennifer Weiner's, The Next Best Thing. I have been a fan of Weiner's for a long time. 

Tragedy occurs in the life of Ruth Saunders at a very young age, leaving a lifetime of emotional and physical problems. As Ruth adjusts to living with her already aging grandmother, and dealing with with physical pain and tragic losses, we are lead on a journey of one young woman's determination to overcome all obstacles and debilities to achieve her dreams of success and fulfillment. Her grandmother, is a spry and very active seventy years old, when Ruth decides it time to move to Hollywood to further her ambitions to become a screenwriter. With grandmother in tow, they make the move and find that they like living in a metropolis.

 Each makes her way in this new environment with the support of each other, yet, without encroaching on each others life. Ruth finds she has fallen in love with her boss at her first important job, but it turns out to be unrequited love, when he marries another woman, on the very next day, after she's confessed her feelings for him and more. Crushed she knows she cannot face him and feels humiliated. She goes into an emotional retreat to regain control of her feelings. Ruth has earned an impressive work record and through a friend finds another job, one that is even more fulfilling than the last one.

Grandmother meantime, is having the time of her life, and finding new people to party with and interesting men to date. This is encouraging to older people, that aging need not mean an end to a fascinating and fun social life. When grandmother decides to remarry and move out of their shared apartment, Ruth has to pull herself together quickly and decide where she is going to with her life. We are moved through all the ups and downs of Ruth and grandmother's social and work life, holding our breath to see how Ruth deals with her physical handicap, and a broken heart from her first love interest, to how grandmother finds love and marriage again, late in life.

It's a sad, yet, heartwarming story. The characters are well developed so you feel their pain, and joys, cheering for them to succeed. The love and friendship between Ruth and her grandmother is touching and inspiring. In the end will Ruth find the happiness we know she deserves? Yes, she does, and with someone you will not suspect. Listen to the book and discover how and who will deserve her love. I personally, did not find any of the usual quips and laugh out loud lines in this book. It is far more somber and serious than Weiner's other books. Nonetheless it is a good book and worthy of reading again and again. With a good narrator, like Thirlby, it's a winner all the way around.

The Next Best Thing  by, Jennifer Weiner  


Friend of the Devil, Peter Robinson, Narrator: Simon Prebble

Friend of the Devil
A  Chief Inspector Banks series, book 17
Author: Peter Robinson
Narrator: Simon Prebble

Books on Tape
13 hours, 24 minutes.

Ron Keith voice over and audiobook narrator
Ron Keith Audiobook Narrator
James Langton, Audio book narrator photo
James Langton          Narrator

Peter Robinson's, Inspector Banks series is read by more than one narrator. Simon PrebbleRon Keith and James Langton are equal in talent, all are outstanding in every way. Mr. Prebble has such a melodious voice which he uses to skillfully bring out every personality while he still captures the sensitive and the horrifying passages. 

The opening lines being read by a master narrator such as Simon Prebble, sounded spooky and foreboding. While the introduction music leads into and then drops back in volume to further emphasize Mr. Prebbles outstanding narration, it will send some shivers up your spine. Simon Prebble smoothly and without any qualms, reads the depraved scenes as smoothly as sliding on ice. Prebble's voice is so warm and reassuring sounding, you just know that it will all work out just fine.

Peter Robinson is an awesome writer, no doubt about it. He knows how to build up tension, fear, and anticipation. He is skilled at turning a sentence or a phrase into a complete scene,  paired with a skilled narrator like Simon Prebble, you have an engrossing, sit on the edge of your seat, page turner. I especially liked the short music lead in's. They sounded haunting and enhanced the overall tone of the book. Friend of the Devil, is an excellent book, read by a truly professional narrator.

Book Review of:  Friend of the Devil, written by Peter Robinson

Friend of the Devil Author Peter Robinson
Author: Peter Robinson  

When Inspector Banks's Ex-lover D.I., Annie Cabbot, awakens with a young twenty something,  lover, in bed next to her, she vaguely remembers a night out of drinking and dancing and doesn't know whether or not to be pleased about it or not. Later when he starts to stalk her, she is decidedly not pleased at all. Her hangover is not improved when she's called in to investigate the murder of a young woman, a paraplegic, found sitting alone at the edge of a cliff, dead in her wheelchair. With head propped up and blood dripping from her slashed throat. Who would slash the throat of a seemingly innocent woman, who can neither move nor speak?

As D.I. Cabbot, delves into her history for clues, she discovers the woman is using an alias and her real name is Lucy Payne, a notorious, and alleged murderess, or, who at least had a hand in the torture and murders her husband had committed. A cage full of angry, bitter people burst to the surface giving Annie Cabbot, more suspects than expected, all who, have good reason to want to see Lucy Payne dead. Although Lucy, participated along with her husband in the torture of many young women, there was never enough proof that she committed any murders. Any crimes against her are dropped, when she is involved in an accident that leaves her a paraplegic.

On the same day, Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called in to investigate the rape and murder of a nineteen year old  college student, Hayley Daniels, whose body is found inside a shop, in the maze. The maze itself is intriguing with it's dilapidated Victorian buildings and winding, narrow streets. It's a popular shortcut to the parking garage, that many of the young people who go out clubbing on the weekends use. At the same time, Inspector Banks is solving the Hayley murder, D.I. Annie Cabbot is working on solving the murder of Lucy Payne.

Their paths intertwine and become involved when the two murders seem to cross paths. While they are unraveling and solving  the cases, another murder is committed, it's one of their own, a fellow policeman. This puts the pressure on Banks and Cabbot to solve the mystery before anyone else is killed. Prebbles's dialog, of the, murdered girls stepmother, sounds so authentic, grief stricken, cracked and with a quivering voice when answering Banks's questions, is so wonderful, and realistic, an award winning performance.

Friend of the Devil,  is a big jump from some of Peter Robinson's first books in this series, which bordered on being a notch or two above cozies. There are scenes of gore and blood, torture and some sex scenarios. All things that I don't listen too, rape, abuse of women, child abuse, you name it, this book covers it. Since I just listened to A Necessary End, book 3, The Hanging Valley, book 4, both seen tame in comparison. Simon Prebble, with his warm, and reassuring voice, made it possible to listen to this particular book.


Secondhand Spirits By Juliet Blackwell Narrated by Xe Sands

Juliet Blackwell Narrator Xe Sands

Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery, Book 1
By Juliet Blackwell
Narrated by Xe Sands
Length:8 hrs and 15 mins
Xe Sands

Narrator, Xe Sands,  is refreshing, like a mist off the ocean. Her voice is singular, unlike anyone else. Immediately, as you hear the first lines read by Xe Sands, you are captured. You will slip right into pace with her.  Xe Sands, has an outstanding range of voices, all convincing. A small child, sounds like a child, in fact children sound so realistic, you would swear you are hearing a child, or that a teenager, slipped into the studio and narrated the teenage parts.

Ms. Sands, successfully emotes the rather longing side of Lily, who yearns to make friends, having girl talk and chummy times. Each character is easily identified. Male voices are so well done, and sound, well, masculine. Xe Sands, brings a multitude of talents with her narration of this fun and frisky book, Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell.

This is another outstanding narration by the multi-talented voice artist Xe Sands.
If you are looking for something fun, insightful, and fresh, Secondhand Spirits, by Juliet Blackwell, might, just be the ticket for you. I enjoyed this book very much. Lily Ivory, (just have to love that name) our heroine, is looking for a bit of peace and normalcy in her life. She has some rather unusual and special talents, that can help her or cause her problems. After traveling the world and living in many places, a parrot tells her to move to San Francisco, but, "beware the fog". Lily decides this might be just the place for her, with the cities varied cultures.

She settles in and opens a vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora's Closet. It quickly becomes a success, due to her ability to tune into the the 'vibes' of the articles of clothing she handles, it gives her an edge, matching the right clothes to the right person. In the first part of the book we go along with Lily, on some of her buying expeditions, and meet many of her loyal clientele. All very interesting, and the historical tidbits about San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury district, added to the enjoyment.

The second half of the book moves into a more intense and dark side, when a client is murdered and a child disappears. On investigation, Lily discovers that other children have disappeared from the same area. She starts to dig deeper into the old cases and involves the police and anyone who will give her assistance.

With her ability to cast spells and see the past history of items she touches, Lily, is more than able to solve the crimes. The story is a really good paranormal, read. I liked the location in San Francisco, and Blackwell gives historical details along the way. All well developed and integrated into the story. I look forward to more from Juliet Blackwell in this series and definitely hope that Xe Sands is the narrator.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, Campbell, Turpin

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot
Cassandra Campbell
Bahni Turpin
12 hours 30 mins.
Books on Tape

Casandra Campbell Narrator
Cassandra Campbell

Narrator, Cassandra Campbell, out does herself in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Although Ms. Campbell has a gentle and very feminine voice, she aptly gives the character of our scientist, a good balance between serious researcher and scientist to sensitive and feeling person. Cassandra Campbell's voice is so well suited for romance stories, more so, than most non fiction works. In the case of Henrietta Lacks,  a certain sensitivity is needed to convey the nature and personality of Henrietta Lacks, Ms. Campbell does not disappoint.

Bahni Turpin Co- Narrator for Rebecca Skloot's Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Bahni Turpin Narrator

Bahni Turpin, of course goes without saying does an excellent job as Henrietta Lack's daughter. Ms. Turpin, is an accomplished narrator, who skillfully delivers the goods. I love it when narrators are so outstanding that you're completely drawn into the story to another world.

Henrietta Lacks, was a very special woman, of course she had no way of knowing this. Her life was harsh, and full of strife. Nonetheless, Henrietta, was fun loving, kind, and sounds like a thoroughly nice person. Her life was short and she died before she had a chance to fulfill all its promises. When Henrietta gets cancer and is treated at the John Hopkins clinic, it was hair raising and bone chilling to think of what pain and suffering she went through, and I imagine most cancer patients did at the time. I wanted to just weep for her, for what sounds like barbaric treatments.

During one of her sessions they took cells from her cervix, I guess, a common practice at the time, and sent them off to the lab. These cells have a short lifespan, which is what still has the medical and scientific community baffled. Ms. Lacks, cells are still alive. They are still being used in research all over the world today. They've been instrumental in curing diseases and finding treatments. The world has been truly blessed for having Henrietta Lacks in it. I can't argue the justice or right or wrong of them taking her cells. Doctors have been doing many things over the years without permission, and usually the patient never knows about it.

Book cover, audiobook review of Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell and  Bahni  Turpin
I do think her family should have and still should get some financial compensation at least for Henrietta's contribution to the world. Her cells still live and it is only right that the family is remunerated for the use of them. I highly recommend this book, even if you're not interested in science, medicine or non-fiction, it is about the life of a remarkable woman and her eternal gift to the world. Rebecca Skloot, was a diligent and careful researcher, giving a balanced accounting of Ms. Lack. Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin do marvelous narrations of the characters. So, I know you will not be disappointed with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Who they refer to now as HeLa, so unfeeling and frosty a title, for someone so stunningly important to the world.

Audiobook review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot Author


Snobs, Julian Fellowes, Narrator, Richard Morant


Julian Fellowes
Richard Morant
BBC Audiobooks of America

10 hours. 17 minutes

Richard Morant Narrator of Snobs By Julian Fellowes
Richard Morant

Richard Morant, did a marvelous narration of Snobs by Julian Fellowes, , he strikes just the right balance from the clarity in his speech, to his nice British accent.  Perhaps,  the British don't consider they have an accent, and it's those from other countries that have the accent. Morant's speech is cultured, clear, and suave. He reads at a good conversational pace. He does a sensational, snooty, tone for the 'gentry', without his own character losing his place as being one of them.

Sadly Richard Morant, passed away November 9, 2011. A great loss indeed, for the performing arts. I enjoyed the interview at the end of the book with the author, Julian Fellowes. He was charming, witty, and knows how to take command of a conversation. This surely works in his favor when writing. He achieves this in Snobs. Julian Fellowes is one author, I personally feel, is capable of narrating  his own book, and it will be just as expertly done, as Richard Morant's narration.

Audio Book Review: Snobs, Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes Author of Snobs and Downtown Abbey

Julian Fellowes Author
I was completely captivated, with, Snobs, it's a very long book, and yet, there are no dull or boring parts. It's witty, insightful, charming and revealing of the inner circles, rules of the aristocracy. Edith Lavery's mother Stella, fills Edith's head with fantasies of marrying well and gaining a title. Her mother, had neither married well, nor married up and had no entree into the society she yearned to be a part of. She gets in her mind that if Edith could succeed where she failed, then, through her daughter she would have a robust upper mid-class social life.
When Edith does succeed, and marries, Lord Charles Broughton, she daydreams, of being the sought after, and deeply envied, lady of the manor. What, she gets is a life living in Broughton Hall with an overbearing mother-in-law, and a not too bright husband.  She is deeply disappointed when she finds her husband, although charming,  is not only a total bore, he is not a skilled lover. His habit of saying thank you, after each sex act, drives her crazy. On their wedding night, sex lasted a minute or two, in time it increases to around five minutes, barely time to know anything happened at all.

Between her sexual frustration and the tedium of daily life, she is ripe for being swept off her feet, by the handsome Simon, a mediocre actor. Simone sees Edith as his ticket to the upper crust of society, with the possibilities of meeting people who can help him further his acting career. Not realizing, that Edith, without her husband Lord Charles, has no entree to the people he is hoping to mingle with. With stars in their eyes, they run off together and live in a cramped London apartment.

In time, Edith, is not as happy with her new life, as she thought she would be, she mentally starts comparing his friends and the parties they go to, to the people she knew with Charles. Slowly, she starts seeing that she has given up a good and comfortable life, for, what, boils down to a good sex life. Realizing she made a horrible mistake, she resolves to contact Charles but is thwarted at every turn. Edith, takes some desperate steps to reunite with Charles, after all he is still her husband.

I couldn't help to being sympathetic to Edith, her mother raised her on romantic dreams and Barbara Cartland tales. Julian Fellowes, skillfully brings to life a glimpse into the amusing mixture of social classes in Snobs. Richard Morant, makes it blossom into a believable and exciting tale. I loved this book, and will be looking for more by Julian Fellowes and Richard Morant. Both are extremely talented in their own fields.

Snobs, Julian Fellowes Narrated by Richard Morant

Bringing up Bebe Pamela Druckerman Narrator: Abby Craden

Bringing up Bebe
Pamela Druckerman
Narrator: Abby Craden                                    
Duration:  9 hours, 8 minutes
Release date:  Feb 07, 2012

Pamela Druckerman Bringing up Bebe
Pamela Druckerman

Abby Craden Narrator
Abby Craden Narrator

I thought Abby Craden did an amazing narration of Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.  Her voice is strong and clear. She did everything a good narrator does to bring out the very best of a book. Ms. Craden, makes it easy to follow the thoughts and conversations, and conveys just the right amount of inflection, so every sentence melds into the next without interruption.

Nonetheless, there are enough pauses, to mull over what the author is presenting. Her reading is very smooth, and melodious, it is a listening pleasure, for the ears. I enjoyed Bringing Up Bebe, and found it so enlightening that I listened a second time. I admire the way the French people, attempt to keep their language and culture, unpolluted by outside influences. I hope they succeed and they will if they keep up the good fight. In the U.S. I frequently hear mothers bewailing the struggle of making their children mind them. The constant fights, and the constant conflicts over everything, making daily life a tedious struggle of the wills.

Therefore, it was refreshing, to listen to good, solid, advice, in a well written book. I don't think, American children are as much spoiled, as they are untrained. Parents seem reluctant to start early enough, if at all, to teach children the necessary tools, they will need as they get older, to have happy and productive lives. Anyone with a sincere intent to change their child rearing patterns, should read or listen to Bringing Up Bebe. The book is sometimes funny, and scoots along to a very satisfying conclusion. You, have to love some of the tips like the "Look" and "the Pause", Very funny stuff. Best of all, it works.

Bringing up Bebe By Pamela Druckerman
By Pamela DruckermanNarrator, Abby Craden