Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 A Memory of Grief by Dale T. Phillips

Haunting cover

Introduction:

The cover’s a bit more haunting than it probably ought to be. It’s one of the few times that I don’t think it fits well unless you want to get deeply philosophical about the main character’s mood.

Summary: Zack Taylor’s told his best friend just committed suicide, but he knows better … and he’s going to prove it.

Additional Comments:

– Warning – not a “clean” book. Contains half a dozen f-bombs and plenty of violence.

– It’s a bit like a Jack Reacher book in that certain people get pounded and you still end up rooting for the good guy.

– There’s a romance subplot that the book could have done without. It’s not that it was bad, but it seemed a tad forced.

– The characters are likable – or unlikable – as they’re supposed to be. That’s always fun. I also enjoyed the fact that the main character isn’t invincible, but he’s still admirable and tough as nails.

– There are a few light-hearted moments. The descriptions are decent.

– I heard the narrated version. Although I can’t say the narrator’s voice is my favorite, he fits the character well and put on a solid performance. I would listen to another of his books.

Conclusion:

Mystery that provides an excellent excuse for the main character to bust people’s heads (and arms and whatnot). Highly enjoyable if you can stomach the violence.

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Julie C. Gilbert

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Awesome Audiobooks 4.5/5: Swim Season by Marianne Sciucco

4.5/5 High School Sports Drama

Summary:

There’s drama in and out of the pool for the Two Rivers’s high school girls swim team. Aerin Keane’s been on a ton of teams in the last few years, but she’s spending her senior year living with friends of her mother so she doesn’t have to live with her father and his new family. She’s the outsider who just wants to fit in. Meanwhile, there’s a high-stakes challenge with a $50K scholarship on the line …

Additional Comments:

– I’m not sure about some of the details concerning school attendance and sports laws. Most public and private high schools have some sort of anti-recruiting rules in place. Meaning, I’m not sure Aerin would have legally been allowed to join the Two Rivers high school team. I’m not even sure how she would attend the school, though there might have been an exception given her family situation. (Doubtful because she could have lived with her father.)
– Another nitpicky point – quizzes do not get taken and graded in a day if they’re on paper. They “might” get graded instantly if they’re on the computer, but if somebody’s got to handle paper, there’s about a .0001% chance of that paper getting graded same day. Trust me. I’m a high school chem teacher. Also, why does Mel’s twin brother drive and she doesn’t?

Point by Point:

– Length 4/5: It’s long. Very long. Probably could have been slimmed down by 200 pages and been fine.
– I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook version because then the length doesn’t mean much, somebody’s reading the story to you. The narrator’s very believable and gave a solid performance.
– Main Character 4.5/5: The main character’s likeable for most of the book. The first third or so she annoyed me, but you knew she’d come around.
– Side Characters 4.5/5: Erica (sorry about spelling if that’s wrong; friend), Mel (new best friend), Tatiana (rival), and Jordan (mean girl) are a tad cliche, but high schools tend to have them, so in that sense it’s realistic. I really liked Aerin’s background. It might be cliche, but it works very well.
– Plot 4/5: While one could probably predict the outcome if you’ve read enough of these sorts of books, it’s still satisfying. The Allison Singer Challenge is kind of cool. I liked how the whole community really got into the swim team’s season. That sort of fervor’s usually saved for football in most towns.
– Swim details 4/5: In audio form, following the competition times got a tad difficult.
– Themes 5/5: I loved that the book contained a bunch of YA themes: fitting in, dealing with bullies, finding yourself, discovering your potential, pushing yourself, pressing on, the flightiness of popularity, etc.

Conclusion:

Swim season delivers an enjoyable high school sports drama.

The Ebook is only $0.99. That’s an awesome deal for a 600+ page book.

As Always …

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Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Beacon by Chess Desalls

 

Summary:

A girl goes for a coveted apprenticeship and doesn’t know what exactly that entails.

Additional Comments:

– The story has some neat little twists but it also has some questionable points such as why the apprenticeship is so special. I won’t elaborate on those here to avoid ticking off those who hate spoilers.

– What’s so wonderful about the lanterns anyway? (That might have been answered in book one, but I’m new to the series at book two.)

– The blurb pretty much spells out the tale.

– Serah Kettel’s a decent character. She’s not the most spectacular at anything, yet you’ll probably find yourself rooting for her anyway. There’s an innocent quality to her.

– Master Machin’s just sort of the mysterious puppet-master type, respected, yet not really known.

– The cook’s probably the most fleshed out of the side characters. Loved her.

– There are some lovely descriptions in here.

 

Conclusion:

If you’re in the mood for a short fairy tale, go for it.

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge is completely free, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

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Audiobook Reviews 4/5: When Dracula met the Jabberwocky by Paul Fitz-George

4/5 Sort of a Paranormal Travel Guide to Whitby, England

Summary:

The blurb sums up the tale. It’s an essay about how Whitby, a town on England’s North Yorkshire Coast, might have influenced the works of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker.

Additional Comments:

– I heard the audioversion. The narrator did a nice job. I might be a tad biased, but so is the rest of the world who thinks the British accent is just lovely to listen to.
– It’s a super-short work. ~35 minutes
– It probably would have meant more to me if I was a bigger fan of those authors. (Alas, Dickens is okay, but I find him a tad depressing and high school English sort of ruined his works for me. I’ve not heard of Wilkie Collins. A movie when I was a kid is probably my only experience with Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. And I’ve never read Bram Stoker.)
– The other thing that could make the work mean more to me is if I planned a trip to Whitby. I heard a rumor that it’s been called the one book you SHOULD read if you plan to visit Whitby, England.
– I found it kind of cool to hear about the tie-ins to the literature anyway.

Conclusion:

Not sure if this book alone would tempt me to visit Whitby, but if I’d planned on visiting, it certainly would enhance the experience.

 

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Please, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy Mysteries Collection by Liz Dodwell

Predictable but Charming

Summary:

A series of short cozy mysteries (yeah, there are bodies but nothing’s described in gruesome detail or anything.)

Additional Comments:

– Main character – Polly was basically Stephanie Plum lite – a clumsy disaster magnet with gorgeous boyfriend who saves her repeatedly.

– Side characters – including pets were very well fleshed out and added a nice layer to the story.

– I heard the audible version, which I definitely recommend over simple reading. Narrator did a decent job with the performance.

– I enjoyed how the stories built on one another. (Would not recommend reading the series out of order.)

One thing that bothered me: the main character/narrator broke the fourth wall (talked to the reader; ala – “now, I know what you’re thinking” style) numerous times. Once, I get (simple mistake/stylistic choice), but any more than that is just annoying.

– Plots ended up being unique if a little “convenient” from time to time, but that’s sort of the nature of a mystery novella.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for short, fluff mysteries with minimal curses, this is a good choice.

 

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

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Awesome Audiobooks: 5/5 The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

5/5 Definitely Worth Hearing

Summary:

Nick Beasley’s a magical sceptic until he’s struck with something that turns him into a beast. What follows is the misadventure of Nick and Lady Cordelia Beaumont trying to set all these wrongs to right.

Additional Comments:

  • The story hits all the right ridiculous notes. It’s a lighthearted, save-the-world story that pulls off a rather simple plot with style through dashes of wit and fun characters.
  • Nick and Lady Cordelia (sorry if I spelled her name wrong, I heard the audio …) are an interesting pair. There’s potential for them to become a couple in future books, but this one focuses on them being crazy partners of a sort.
  • Crispin’s a decent side kick, or at least I think that’ll be his role in any future works. I like that there’s a good sense of closure but enough of an opening that a sequel would feel natural.
  • The bad guy’s plan doesn’t seem very plausible but he fits the bill for power-hungry storybook villain.
  • The world-building is okay. There’s a section where Lady Cordelia basically explains magic for Nick’s sake but given that he’s spent much of his life actively disbelieving in magic, that sort of makes sense.
  • Nick’s surprisingly cool with being magically morphed into a monster.
  • The narrator’s British accent isn’t exactly Hollywood’s version but it fits the character and the story well. His performance adds a nice layer.

 

Conclusion:

If you’re in the mood for fun fantasy, this book would do.

 

The ebook is only $0.99, but go for the audio version.

It’s so much better as a performance.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Please, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

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Audiobook Reviews: Next Stop, Chancey by Kay Dew Shostak

3.5/5 A Look at Small Town Life

Summary: Carolina Jessup panics after she finds condoms in her daughter’s purse. She sells her house, packs up her family, and moves them to a small town, all the while hating small towns as she’ll repeatedly let you know

 

Additional Comments:

  • There are a lot of characters to keep straight, but the audio performance was well-handled. Male voices sort of sound the same, but the main characters have distinct voices and the narrator does the female Southern accent very well.
  • The main character complains a fair amount in the book. She’s constantly doubting her decision to move the family, even though she knows her husband enjoys the new place and the fact that it’s near trains.
  • The book’s essentially a small town soap opera. The gossip flies fast and the muffins are fine. Everybody knows everybody else’s business. The teenage daughter finds herself competing for the top social slot. The boy finds a new friend and sort of disappears into the countryside to reappear from time to time and ask for food.
  • There’s the added intrigue of the ghost story, but to be honest, the explanation sort of ruined it. Maybe I’m just too much a fan of paranormal twists to books.
  • The main character does sort of find out what she wants by the end, but it was a pretty arduous mental “I should be happy here” journey.
  • I love the cover!

Conclusion:

If small town gossip’s your thing, then this is just the book for you. It’s a study in small town modern suburban existence.

As Always …

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Please, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

4.0/5 Magic, Mystery, and Destiny

Summary:

Miri Katz, a student at P.A.W.S. has a lot more to deal with than mere classes. Her father’s a semi-immortal psychopath of sorts. That’s enough to give you grays even if you don’t have the ability to turn into a cat.

Additional Comments:

  • Although this story can be read and understood without listening or reading book one, I’d recommend doing this series in order.
  • Tons of cool concepts can be found in here. I like the idea of magic schools, powerful pendants, the quest for immortality, moral questions, and stuff like that.

    Content Warning:

There are also some pretty disturbing elements involving multiple forms of abuse of a minor. The book is categorized as YA. I know teens deal with stuff like this. The tough content is handled reasonably well, but I just don’t like it in fantasy stuff. It makes stories way less kid-friendly, meaning I can’t recommend it to the target audience. (Everything else fits a 13-ish age bracket splendidly, except that.)

  • The narrator performede with heart.
  • Alas, I didn’t like certain characters. I don’t think you’re meant to like the particular character I had in mind, but it’s really annoying to actively hate story characters. (On the flip side, that means they’ve got some depth to them.) This could just be the voice used for the character, it grated on the nerves. Pretty sure that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do …
  • There’s not a great deal of closure. It’s very much a part two of multiple stories. I would have liked a few more threads to be tied up. I’m sure they will be, but that will have to wait for book 3.

Conclusion:

If you’re okay with slightly depressing themes like sexual abuse of a kid and can get past that, then it’s actually a really good book.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

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Audiobook Reviews: 3.5/5 The Journey of the Bell by Spencer Hawke

I pulled the picture from Audible.

Summary:

A very short novella about two men and a secret society.

Additional Comments:

  • I heard the audiobook. The author has a very nice reading voice.
  • The book’s mostly a setup for the rest of the series, so in that sense, this is a prequel. However, I personally didn’t like that twenty minutes of this book are actually an excerpt from a different book.
  • Historical fiction always takes liberties with facts and public figures. The Eyes of Athena are probably supposed to be the Masons. I probably missed something but I sort of wish I knew more about how the fictional counterpart got its name.
  • It’s all right, but I think it would be more enjoyable as a prequel, meaning as something to fill in gaps and give greater depth to things for current fans of the regular series. It’s really about the setup of the secret society and two random early members, not about Ari.
  • The skipping around in the timeline threw me a bit.

Conclusion:

A story geared more toward fans of the Ari Cohen series. It’s also light historical fiction. If you’re looking for a quick read, it’s a decent fit.

*I received a copy of the audio free. I chose to review it.*

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

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Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Three Nails by Michael Maxwell

4.0/5 A Snapshot Look at a Teacher’s Personal Tragedy

Summary:

A public school teacher has his whole life turned upside down by a personal tragedy.

Additional Comments:

  • Plot: It goes all over the place, but it’s really a snapshot of a guy’s life. The description pretty much tells you what’s wrong in his world. Most of the first half centers around the devastating loss of his son, Logan. However, I’m not sure how the very first scene fits in. I know it plays into his nightmares later, but I’d thought the book must be a murder mystery given the way it begins.
  • The side characters felt a little flat to me. I mean Logan’s death obviously devastates this guy, but since the reader doesn’t really get to meet him, there’s not a big emotional pull.
  • The guy works in a much tougher school than I do, but the descriptions of some of the frustrations public school teachers face are accurate, except that his first teaching assignment probably would never have happened. I think you need a special ed license to be assigned a classroom like that. At the very least, it would probably be a co-taught class, meaning there would be two teachers/witnesses supervising and instructing the students.
  • I like that the book didn’t shy away from showing the dark side of life. The things some of these kids in this guy’s classroom face are horrific, and the sad part is that even though it’s fiction, the scenarios are very realistic.

    Characters:

  • The characters are pretty well fleshed out, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the main character’s name.
  • – Not sure why it’s categorized as Christian fiction. While there is nothing offensive besides a few curse words, the main character doesn’t ring true as a Christian. His daughter who becomes a missionary – maybe – but his comments at the end sort of tell the reader he’s not sure what’s “up/out there.” I don’t think there’s a set requirement that the MC has to be a Christian to categorize the book as one, but it certainly would help.

Conclusion:

A snapshot look into a teacher’s life during one of the darkest times he faces.

 

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

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Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

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