Thursday, July 31, 2014

Euphoria by Lily King narrated by, Simon Vance & Xe Sands

Euphoria by Lily King narrated by, Simon Vance & Xe Sands

I know that Margaret Mead inspired this story but I still wanted Nell to be a real person that I could research and learn even more about. This was a fascinating book made all the better by the fabulous narration of Xe Sands & Simon Vance.

This book kept me completely enthralled from beginning to end, not only from the descriptions of the tribes, their customs, taboos and superstitions but from the relationships between the three main characters. Also this book is so well written that it was easy to picture the village and tribes people. If you search Margaret Mead New Guinea in Images you’ll see some pictures that could easily be the three main characters ,also see narrator Xe Sands Pintrest Page below for some other pictures she used for inspiration.

I really enjoyed the characters of Nell & Bankson and even though Fen is not a very likeable chap he is an interesting character he is so jealous of Nell’s success and her relationship with not only Bankson but with the tribe themselves, Nell has a rapport with the tribe that Fen can only dream of which he kind of does he imagines a relationship that really isn’t there. He hides things from Nell to make himself look better and is a very insecure man. Where Bankson sees Nell in all her glory and is impressed and awed by her ability to get the tribes people to talk to her about things no one else seems to be able to get at. He learns from her and respects her and I think that is the key in their friendship.

 Obviously the narration of this book was superb Xe Sands as Nell was fabulous and all her different accents from American, to British to Australian were all spot on and when she voiced Bankson I felt like she did a good job of channeling Simon Vance!  Simon Vance as always does a great job and did well even when speaking as Nell and I thought he also did a great job channeling Xe; also both narrations of Fen and his Australian accent sounded the same so you knew that it was him. I thought this was a fantastic collaboration and hope to have more books with these two working together!

If you can’t already tell I loved this book, it is different book and hard to categorize, but I found it fascinating and even went back and re-listened to the last hour because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I have never read anything by Lily King before but I will be remedying that as I loved the way the writing in this books flowed and how she kept me so interested from page one to the end.

5 stars

Full Disclosure I received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and the Publisher Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review

Narrator Xe Sands has put together a Pintrest page with some images that helped her realize more clearly the place and time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf narrated by, Tanya Eby & Kate Rudd

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf narrated by, Tanya Eby & Kate Rudd

This is a powerful book, and at times hard to read. This is definitely a ripped from headlines book, when the unthinkable happens to social worker Ellen, how do you get people to understand that it was an accident when the guilt of it is ripping you apart. Then we have runaway Jenny whose dad is in jail and her mother ran off with the man that beat Jenny when she was younger but luckily she is found by a kind woman who also happens to be Ellen’s mother Maudene.

Ellen has seen the most awful things in her career as a social worker but one moment of distraction changes her whole life and the life of her family and she ends up on the other side of the fence wishing with everything that she could go back and start the day over. This book shows the difference between outright abuse and neglect and accidents but sometimes social services and the media don’t see the distinction between the two. My heart broke in Ellen’s storyline when the awful thing happened my heart was racing and it was just really tough to read.

Jenny is spunky and courageous and luckily pretty street smart I liked her and was rooting for her to find a better life. Although her storyline was a bit too happily ever after and felt a little rushed I was still happy for her.

Tanya Eby’s narration as Jenny was very well done and believable but Kate Rudd’s narration was so hysterical it got really old, I can understand that in certain moments of this book the hysteria was needed but it was constant and it seemed to be all the characters are just screeching and whiny.  I do understand this was a taut emotional book but I wish Rudd had dialed back a bit.

As I said this is a powerful book, I think this would be a good book for a bookclub because I think it would bring about a great discussion. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending I felt both stories were rushed and a bit too tied up in a bow for my taste.

3 Stars

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams narrated by, Kathleen McInerney

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams narrated by, Kathleen McInerney

I so wanted to like this book, the description sounded like something I would really like but this one fell short for me. I won this book from librarything early reviewers but had a hard time getting into it so got the audio hoping it would be better but for over half of the book all I wanted was for it to be over.

I love dual storylines in historical fiction and that was what I was expecting but this book is Romance, lots of sex (very descriptive) and once you get through that there is a little bit of a historical fiction storyline but not enough to save this one, IMHO. Also the characters are all pretty much unlikable and the whole stupid romance in the 1964 storyline is ridicules they fell in love in 5 minutes?? Give me a break! This book may have been better served if it just told Violet’s storyline because Vivian was annoying and her whole storyline revolved around this convoluted romance with someone she met and supposedly fell in love with in an afternoon.

Violet’s storyline started out strong then dwindled into idiocy, with many unbelievable things happening and I wanted more of the actual story of how …( no spoilers) than just the whole romance crap.

And the ending was all tied up in a little bow that made me throw-up a little in mouth, it was so saccharine.

Kathleen McInerney’s narration was very well done but couldn’t save me from wanting this book to end!

I may be in the minority here, this book has gotten a lot of buzz but, don’t be fooled by the historical fiction moniker this is straight up romance and not a good one!

2 Stars (barely)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Butterfly Sister, by Amy Gail Hansen narrated by Amy Rubinate

The Butterfly Sister, by Amy Gail Hansen narrated by Amy Rubinate

This was a different story than I expected, it turned out to be a darn good thriller and Amy Rubinate's narration just made it all the better!

Ruby is a much damaged woman after a bad affair she drops out of college and moves home when one day a delivery is made to her house of a suitcase belonging to her former roommate Beth but when Ruby sets out to find Beth she instead finds out that she is missing. This mystery takes her back to the scene of her heartbreak, Tarble College, where she finds an even bigger mystery that also seems to revolve around her own heartbreak.

As I said I wasn’t expecting this book to be a thriller I was expecting a sister story, (the title is explained towards the end of the book.) But I did really enjoy this one once I got over the fact that I hadn’t read the description very well. I enjoyed the use of authors Woolf, Plath & Perkins as plot devices to tell you how some of these women felt.  The mystery of it all kept me guessing as to the cause of the disappearance and other things happening on campus and the reveal completely threw me, which is a great thing! Every time I thought I had it figured out things would swing in a different direction, which I enjoyed.

Amy Rubinate’s narration was as always impeccable her soft southern accent was perfect with just the right amount of accent as to not become overdone. All of her characters and voices were well done and I feel her narration made this book even better. If you haven’t listened to Rubinate’s narrations I highly recommend anything narrated by her.

I would recommend this thriller to anyone who likes a book that will keep you guessing.

4 Stars
5 Star narration

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blunder Woman written and narrated by, Tanya Eby

Blunder Woman  written and narrated by, Tanya Eby

This book is not my usual fare; however I truly enjoyed this hilarious story starring the dysfunctional Chloe AKA Blunder Woman. This book is humorous first then a bit of romantic comedy, Chloe has fallen head over heels for MMM-Matt , as she calls him, but she is getting very mixed signals from him but some of those signals give her hope that he feels the same way. However as the reader of the book you know she is barking up the wrong tree and there will be times you just want to shake her and say he’s just not into you, wake up! When Chloe finds out Matt is engaged to the gorgeous Amber,  she follows them to Mackinaw Island with her best friend and mother in tow to show Matt that it is really her he loves. This is when true hilarity ensues!

The other characters in the book include Chloe’s best friend Megan and Chloe’s mother who is a great character all on her own, from her Reiki to tarot readings she is hippy dippy and hilarious. There is a whole cast of interesting fully fleshed out characters each one with their own quirks and personalities.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tanya Eby on my blog but had never had the pleasure of hearing her narrations so I decided to do one better and listen to a book she wrote and narrated, I was not disappointed the story is great and the narration was fabulous you always knew exactly who was talking and everyone had their own voice. I look forward to listening to more by Tanya.

I didn’t realize this book was set in Michigan when I chose it for one of my vacation listens and I was vacationing in Michigan, so it was fun knowing all the places they went.

If you are looking for a light listen/read that will make you giggle, snort and guffaw this is the book for you! Be warned listening to this book in public will get you funny looks because you can’t help but laugh out loud at some of the great lines and situations. I would definitely read another book by Tanya and would read another book with this cast of characters (hint, hint).

4 Stars

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Sudden Light by, Garth Stein

A Sudden Light by, Garth Stein

Pub Date: Sep 30 2014

My review:

Those who follow my reviews know I am a sucker for a good family secrets novel and this one had it all…secrets, spirits/ghosts, lies, deception and a great generational story. I enjoyed Stein’s book The Art of Racing in the Rain and when I saw he had a new book coming out I requested this one on Netgalley and once I started I could not put it down.

I really enjoyed this story I liked the flow of it and the writing, I felt like Trevor was telling me his story and I was completely enthralled.

My favorite character in this book was Grandpa Samuel even though he wasn’t the best father or husband or grandfather it was the little snippets he would come up with that would make me laugh or wince but truth coming from a “demented” person sometimes takes a humorous tone.

I wasn’t fond of Serena at all and she creeped me out long before anyone in the book seemed to realize how creepy she was. But I won’t say anymore because *No Spoilers*

Trevor is a 14 year old kid who just wants his parents to get back together and be happy again. When his parents separate his mother goes to England and Trevor accompanies his father, Jones, to his ancestral home North Estate a home made completely out of huge logs and a place his father hasn’t been since he was banished from the home at 16 after his mother died. Trevor is more than happy to accompany his father because he makes it his mission to fix his dad and make everything ok between his parents. But as he soon discovers there is more going on at North estate than meets the eye and it may take a lot more than he was bargaining for to help his dad. I enjoyed Trevor’s intellect and his ability to believe in things even when everyone is telling him not to.

Trevor’s dad Jones is a messed up man, something happened in this house years ago that he won’t talk about and it has affected and is still affecting his entire life but can he step up and become the father his never was?

Then there is the history of the house generations back a promise was made to a dead man that one day North Estate would be allowed to go back to the forest but the people living there today want to be rid of it and want to make boat loads of money in the process, so do you keep a promise to a dead man? Or do you do whatever you want and have the life your forefathers had before other generations squandered the fortune?

These people and stories come together in a great book that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a multi-generational family secrets story.

4 ½ Stars

Full-Disclosure: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, June 28, 2014



I am so happy to be participating in Going Public’s Summer Shorts ’14 , promoted by Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators. They have teamed with Going Public, and Tantor Media to offer Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization. (See the end of this post for more information on this program)

This year I had the pleasure of getting to know a new to me narrator Tanya Eby who was nice enough to answer all my questions and offer a giveaway to any book she has narrated (details at the end of the post).

Tanya Eby is an Audie-nominated narrator. AudioFile Magazine said "Listening to Tanya Eby is like listening to a full-cast recording". She has a BA in English language and literature and an MFA in creative writing. Besides narrating, Tanya blogs, and works on her own novels. She has published four novels and is at work on her fifth.

Free Listen: The Girl at the Gate, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Bonus Track: The Perfect Neighbor, by Tanya Eby

Story Summary:

This is a fun little story about a man on his deathbed, young love, and a ghostly encounter.

Let’s get to know Tanya:

Did you get to pick your short story or did Xe assign them? If yes, What made you choose this story?
Xe gave us total freedom in choosing a piece we wanted to read. I decided right away that I wanted to read an L.M. Montgomery short story. She wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, which was a huge influence on me growing up. Also, I’ve narrated a lot of steamy romances and mysteries, and I wanted to do something that my kids could listen to (if they ever wanted to). It’s a bonus that it’s a little ghost story.

Let’s get the routine questions out of the way first…
How did you get started in audiobooks?
I was a Theater and English major in college. When I was having trouble figuring out a text, I’d read it out loud and suddenly the characters would come to life for me. I got into doing radio commercials for extra cash while finishing up school and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Eventually, I heard that some actor friends were narrating. I recorded a demo, sent it to companies, made wishes to the fairies, and was miraculously cast.

What was your first book?
Oh my gosh! Can you believe I don’t remember? I think it was a Debbie Macomber book. All I remember was that the first time I narrated a full book, I was completely exhausted after the first day. My voice was hoarse and my dinner was a big bowl of soup followed by an even bigger bowl of ice cream. When I finished the book after three days of non-stop talking, I cried with relief. Then I asked when I could do it again.

I see you are also an Author, which do you prefer writing or narrating?

I love storytelling in general. In writing, I get to build a different world and kind of shape things as I go. In narrating, I slip inside a world that’s already created and explore characters. They’re both really satisfying. My own work doesn’t sell as much as I’d like, but ah well. I keep trying. It will be great if I can keep doing both. 

Can you give us a scoop on any upcoming books you are especially excited about? Can be a book you are writing or one you are narrating or both.
There’s a book coming out in July called “Expecting” by Ann Lewis Hamilton. It’s funny, heartwarming, bittersweet, and has fantastic characters.
My book “Tunnel Vision &Other Stories From The Edge” was just released. It’s a novella narrated by Mikeal Narramore and then it also has two short stories I narrated. They’re dark stories. I guess I was exploring my dramatic side. My other work is comedic.

I enjoyed listening to your narrations on your website and your blog is a hoot I highly recommend everyone checking it out. I see you also have a food blog how did that come about?
Oh, thanks! I do a bunch of weird little stuff. I’m a foodie and I like to think I’m funny. When I’m not working on book stuff, I’m in the kitchen. My newest food blog is “Dips, Balls and Logs Blog” mostly because I laugh every time I say the title. It’s food for quirky people. You know, my soul mates. 

Thank-you so much for joining me and thanks to Xe Sands for asking me to join in the fun!
And thanks for the great questions!

I’d like to offer a giveaway. The winner can choose whichever book I’ve narrated on Audible for an instant download. There are all sorts of genres to choose from. Or they could choose a book narrated by my saucy doppelgänger “Tatiana Sokolov”.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The entire collection Summer Shorts ’14 is available at Tantor Media.

Past post:
6/27  A Discussion with Author Jane Cawthorne and Narrator Dawn Harvey @ My Books, My Life

6/28   Tish Hicks, How They Broke Away to Go to the Rootabaga Country, by Carl Sandburg @ Going Public
6/29   Karen White, Sharks and Seals, by Susanna Daniel @ Every Day I Write the Book
6/30    Xe Sands, Virtue of the Month, by Kathleen Founds @ The Oddiophile

About the Program
The audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public andTantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download. Full release schedule on the Speak Freely page.

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, advocates on behalf of adult learners and the programs that serve them, provides training and professional development, and publishes materials used in adult literacy and basic education instruction. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. Its publishing division, New Readers Press (NRP), has for more than 40 years provided educators with the instructional tools they need to teach adult students and older teens literacy skills for functioning in the world today. Materials are available in a variety of media, including the flagship publication, the weekly news source News for You, which delivers articles online with audio. Proceeds from sales of NRP materials support literacy programs in the U.S. and worldwide.

Summer Shorts ’14 is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Post-production, marketing support and publication provided by Tantor Media. Graphic design provided by f power design. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands. Nonprofit partnership coordination provided by Karen White.