Category Archives: audio review

The Secret Diary of Alice In Wonderland Age 42 and three-quarters by Barbara Silkstone

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Poor Alice.  As a Miami real estate agent, her boss Leslie, could be part of a show called Worst Bosses. He is cruel, inappropriate, and will not release her from her contract of working for him.  She is pretty sure if given the chance, he would behead someone…. “Off with their head!”

In her dreams, Alice feels that if she could just escape Leslie’s grip she could start a new life… meet a man… move on… and not always feel like she fell down a rabbit hole. 

When Alice does meet someone on-line, an Englishman she starts to chat with through emails and on the phone, Alice falls for his accented voice that almost seems to put her in a trance.  With visions of John Cleese in her head, she flies to England to meet Nigel Channing… even his name could melt a hardened heart.

While Nigel isn’t everything she pictured, she finds herself falling for him anyway.  Yet back in Miami things are becoming increasingly strange as her boss takes her court for false accusations involving selling a property and pocketing the down payment… all of which is untrue and Alice swears she can feel herself shrinking away.  Suddenly nothing in her life seems real, Nigel comes with a lot of baggage… A LOT.  And as old enemies try to befriend her, Alice really doesn’t know who she can trust…

Is there such a  thing as Alice in Wonderland syndrome?

 

 

I chose The Secret Diary Of Alice In Wonderland because it had a cute title and eye-catching cover. Perhaps a break down a rabbit hole could be a fun experience…

I however struggled with the strange connections, and found it hard to believe that someone as pretty as Alice would fall for someone the likes of Nigel Channing.  ( I think that love of strong independent women characters kicked in here and I did not like Alice’s inability to find someone right for her) Once author Barbara Silkstone started describing Nigel and all of his quirks and so on and so on, yet Alice stayed interested in him, I lost my belief in the storyline.

I hung in there until the end though as I was curious as to what would happen with Alice and the false accusations of her boss and the shady people who surrounded her…. all in all, the book for me felt way to out there.

Know that I seem to be in the minority on this one.  Reviews on Amazon rate this one high.  If you do like this, Barbara Silkstone has many books with a similar fun theme:

Wendy Darlin – Tomb Raider

Miami Mummies

Wendy And The Lost Boys

Zo White and The Seven Morphs

Just to name a few…

 

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Alice worked in Miami Florida, giving me Florida for this challenge.

Thank you to Author Barbara Silkstone and to Audio Jukebox for allowing me a chance to listen to and review this audio book.

A Million Ways To Die In The West by Seth MacFarlane

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Albert Stark has had it with the unpredictable and often hard life that comes with living in the 1880′s in the wild western frontier.  He can’t really shoot a gun, he is not what you would call a fabulous sheep herder, and he just lost his best girl to a sniveling gunslinger who makes Albert’s meager attempts look like he is shooting with his feet.

And…

there are too many ways to die in this type of living.  Duels at high noon, snakes the size of trees, bad water, bar fights, illness, messing with wrong dude… and oh yeah, befriending the wrong dudes wife…

for goodness sakes… it’s the 80′s!  Why cant we all just get along?

 

 

In my defense…

(Is that a good way to start out a review?)

I love the sound of this read… fun, light funny, and my book club gals would o wild with laughter to know that I actually cracked into a story that has to do with cowboys as I am very anti cowboy, western, cowboy boots, and honestly… I dont like the hats either.  It’s just a personal preference, if a western comes into our groups reading choices, it will not get my vote.  :razz:

I can tell you I too was surprised when I said yes to reviewing this book, A Million Ways To Die In The West.  The draw was honestly (and this is where my defense comes in) it sounded funny.

It was.  Albert’s character is a hoot.  And while I am not a big fan of Seth MacFarlane’s work, he can be funny.  Fair warning:  there are parts of this read that are extremely crude.  SO crude in fact that I felt I had made a big mistake and almost stopped listening to this audio.  Almost.  What held me was that if you could put up with some over the top grossness, there is a funny storyline – and it does eek out as the story moves on and that beginning over the top crud subsides, not completely, but to a tolerable level.  Faint of heart, easily offended – this book is not for you.

This 4 CD, 5 hour-ish read was fun and different from anything I had read recently.  I liked the craziness of it and had a few moments of laughing out loud.

 

Anna:  While we are here at the fair I would love to get one of the picture things taken!

Albert:  Really?

Anna:  Oh yes!  I have never had one taken before!

Albert:  That’s horse s***!

Anna:  No really, I haven’t…

Albert:  Uh, no, I mean that’s horse s***, right there, don’t step in it.

And the couple stepped around the steaming pile.

 

 Funny… lite….

LOve Life by Rob Lowe

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I LOVE LOVE LOVED Rob Lowe’s book Things I Only Tell My Friends when I listened to it on audio in 2011.  His narration is superb and if you are an audio person and seriously even if you are not….) you are in for a super treat by listening to either of his books.

In Love Life, Rob (oh may I call him Rob?  ;)  ) not only covers his loves through his life of family, relationships, and his sons; but also his love of acting.  Just listening to him share some of his moments from Behind The Candelabra, Killing Kennedy, The Stand, and Untouchable, just to name a few, caused me to go out and rent some of these movies.  Just a couple of days ago I watched Behind The Candelabra, and tonight I hope to see Untouchable; two of the movies Rob discusses as taking great liberties with his character and finding it to pay off. 

 

“Adventure is important in life. Making memories matters. It doesn’t have to be a secret seaplane and a historic sports moment, but to have a great life you need great memories. Grab any intriguing offer. Say yes to a challenge and to the unknown. Be creative in adding drama and scope to your lfe. Work at it like a job. Money from effort comes and goes, but effort from imagination and following adventure creates stories that you keep forever. And anyone can do it.”
Rob Lowe, Love Life

 

What is enjoyable about this audio for someone like me who grew up on his movies is not only the memories; but also to listen to his humor as he describes totally blowing lines during a live show where he actually gave away part of the plot that should not have been released yet; but in a panic recovered nicely.

It’s also refreshing to listen to someone who truly loves his wife and his family; and instead of the so often “its all about me you can hear in memoirs”, you can tell that Rob truly loves his wife as much as he did when he married her and adores his two sons who he has made a n effort as they have grown, to be a part of their every day lives, separating the husband and dad from the actor.

Finely written and utterly engaging, if you have any interest at all in the man, his career in front of the screen and behind the scenes), or the movies he partakes in the ones he wanted to be, and the ones he should have been in…. absolutely do not hesitate to read on listen to this book.

I eagerly await what he will write about next.

 

The Taker by Alma Katsu

1bbHistorical beauty meets fantasy paranormal in a way that rocked my world… ~ Sheila

 

When Lanore Mcllyrae is brought into the hospital in hand cuffs, Dr. Luke Findley can not help but be drawn to her.  Lanore is a rare kind of beauty, one that seems to outstretch time, and before Luke even knows what he is doing – he is helping this woman escape…

Lanore’s life story goes beyond one life span… beyond mortality as Lanore tells her tale of a love so pure she found she would do anything to preserve it, but the cost was higher than she ever could have dreamed. 

 

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Which cover do you like best? Why?

The Taker is one of those books that I have wanted to read for the past few years and never seemed to get to it.  Now that I have (in audio format) I am kicking myself for waiting so long.  Where was I when everyone else was gushing about it? 

However, one of the beauties of chatting up this book now… is that the two follow-up books, The Reckoning and The Descent are both readily available so if you become engrossed in this amazing story you do not have to stop but can continue right on through the three books to what I can only imagine, is a pretty engrossing tale.

You…

are welcome. :)

The Taker, narrated beautifully by Laura Lefkow, takes you from the turn of the 19th century where a poor young girl named Lanore, finds herself completely smitten with a  young man named Johnathon, even though their families are not friendly to one another, even though Johnathon is a few years older than she, and even though Johnathon has captured the eye of many of the young ladies of the area and he knows all to well his power over their hearts.

And then –

through a powerful tale you are taken through some incredible happenings that takes Lanore out of the comfort of everything she holds near and dear to a world she is unfamiliar with, of men and women alike who will serve a powerful man in any way he chooses to be served – to a man who will be the death of the old Lanore, but bring forth a woman she barely recognizes….

A powerful read that should not be missed.  Author Alma Katsu comes out of the gate as a debut author who smokes past the competition.  Read it.  Listen to.  You would never guess that this is a debut novel.

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

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Sophie Diehl is very happy at her pace in a New England Law Firm as a Criminal Law Associate.  And… if she does say so herself, she is a pretty darn good one too.  One weekend when everyone is out of the office either on other business or on vacation, Sophie is tasked with doing an intake interview for divorce proceedings for a daughter of a high-profile client. 

It is just the intake interview, Sophie is assured, but Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim likes Sophie’s “take no prisoner” attitude and decides that Sophie is who she wants to represent her.  So much in fact, that she is willing to pay double to secure her services.  While Sophie does everything she can to politely pass, the partners of the firm assure her that is she is who Mia wants…. then she is who Mia will get.

*gulp*

With the help of a couple of the divorce lawyers in the firm, and facing the wrath of the female partner who is actually a divorce lawyer who would have received this case had she not been on vacation, Fiona McGregor, Sophie struggles through using her skills as a criminal lawyer to create an interesting divorce case.

 

 

 

I have this in book format and I downloaded it on Audible as well.  I went audio due to wanting to get to the book, but not having the time to sit and read. 

At first as I started listening to this audio, I was surprised to pick up on the fact that this book was going to be told in correspondence… IE. emails, letters, post it notes….  (In hindsight I really do not know why I was surprised… after all it is called DIVORCE PAPERS).  :oops:  I was really hoping that there would be more of the story told out of the context of written communications…

Then…

I got into the rhythm of the book, finding myself looking forward to correspondence with certain people, such as Sophie’s communications with David, her boss who was working on the case as support to her lack of divorce law knowledge. I enjoyed his voice and when I would hear his narration start I would get excited to hear what he had to say.

Yes there is a lot of law speak.  It did become a bit tedious that almost all of  the correspondence started with a date, an address, who the correspondence was too, who it was copied too, and what attachments there were to go along with said correspondence.  For this, I think the audio served me well as I imagine that with all this information I would skim if I had read the book.  For that matter, correspondence that did not interest me I probably would have skimmed as well, and again the audio does not allow for that so I probably did the book more justice by listening to it.

I enjoyed The Divorce Papers.  I actually learned a few things that take place in such proceedings, and the knowledge seeker in me enjoyed that.  To me, the story was a bit over the top with both parties of the divorce either having money at the ready, or high dollar property in their name as well as collections such as paintings…  this however did not dampen my enjoyment of the read. 

 

 

 

Panic by Lauren Oliver

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Heather’s life is certainly not what you would call “cozy.”  With an absent dad and a mom who lives inside a bottle, Heather does what she can for her sister and herself.

She never thought she would complete in Panic.

Panic was a game for students who were newly graduated from their senior year.  It happened during the summer and while the game itself was dangerous and frowned upon by adults and authority figures alike, the stakes were high with a high payoff.  The games were dangerous and you could be killed, but if you chicken out you are out of the game… for some of the students, it is do or die… either way.

When home circumstances hit an all time low, Heather knows it is up to her to figure out a way to care for her sister and provide something better for themselves.

And this years Panic is paying out at an all time high.

Dodge does not fear Panic.  He is sure that he can win and what he is hiding will be his motivation.

But Panic is filled with those with secrets….

For Heather and Dodge… there really is no choice.  And along the way you never know what sort of alliances you can build, knowledge you can gain, and relationships that can make a world of difference.

 

 

I chose to listen to Panic because I have adored Loren Oliver’s past reads…  Before I Fall, Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem.  She writes YA stories with great twists and turns which are a delight to read.

 Panic was a great next step for her.  With the excitement of Hunger Games (without that level of “you all must die!”) I found Panic to be an interesting look at what could go on underneath the proverbial watchful eye…

There are some interesting twists and turns in Panic, and while I can not say that it is a favorite of the Oliver books for me, it holds great potential.  Rumor has it that is has already been snatched up by Paramount Pictures to be a movie.  One that I would definitely go see.

The Weight Of Blood by Laura McHugh

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Lucy Dane’s life has been a smattering of secrets, mysteries and lies – starting from when she was just a child when her mother one day up and disappeared to, years later, when Lucy’s friend Cheri also disappears; only to be found later, murdered and displayed.

Shaken by this second loss of someone close to her, Lucy decided to dig in and see if she can learn more about what happened to Cheri, and if in any way that will lead her to clues about her own mother.  What she uncovers are secrets that are too dark to fathom, and a little to close to home.

 

 

 

Weight of Blood came to me through no other source than my own.  Usually I find books through other readers recommendations or authors I adore… but this one I stumbled across on Audible.com and it sounded as though it had potential.

And it did.

When I think about this book I come up with words like engaging.  Powerful.  Mysterious.  McHugh’s words pour like water from a fountain, smooth and clear.  I enjoyed the story line and immersed myself fully into learning the secrets of the Dane family and those close to them. 

3 narrators take us through the audio version of this book and the transactions are so smooth between them that when I looked it up right now, I was surprised to see there were three. 

While the book deals with some topics that are frightening – they are also not far fetched, and in the end what is put into print here is a truly believable (and based somewhat off a true story) and easily imagined in a small town hidden amongst the Ozark Mountains.  

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

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18-year-old Mikayla has been in love with Dylan and can imagine herself with no one else.  Dylan feels the same.  Yet when their relationship becomes a bit risky and Mikayla finds herself pregnant and Dylan gives her an ultimatum; what will she do?  Where will her loyalties fall?

16-year-old Shane has finally found someone he feels he can love; Alan.  It is no secret to his classmates or family that Shane is gay, but Alan is HIV positive.  Shane’s parents can not handle the additional stress in their life as Shane’s sister is already terminally ill and at the end of her life.  As his mom spends all her time worrying and his dad turns to whatever relief he can find inside a bottle; Shane wonders if they will ever have time or love for him.

14-year-old Harley has been the type of girl her parents never had to worry about.  She gets good grades and stays out of trouble.  Yet when she starts to dress a little riskier she enjoys the approval of the boys who start to notice her, especially the older boy who gives her chills to think she has caught his eye.  Of course, what Harley is taking as love, the older boy wants something completely different – and Harley is his target.

Three teens whose lives are about to tilt off course share their stories in first person perspective.

 

 

When I first heard of Tilt I liked the thought of each of these teens telling things from their first person perspective.  I figured I would like this style of narration, I did not count on enjoying this read as much as I did. 

Ellen Hopkins once again does an excellent job of getting inside the teenage mind and sharing with us their voices as they deal with the all so real topics of today:  pregnancy, drug use, relationships… I found myself engaged in each story line as you did not only hear from these three main voices, but also from their parents, and their friends, and their relationships. 

Listening to this on audio was a wonderful way to go on this one. Each voice was distinctive and I enjoyed hearing the emphasis and questions in these voices as they navigated through life making decisions and acknowledging the consequences of those decisions. 

I really enjoyed this audio and while everything was not tied up in a neat little bow at the end, I don’t think it needed to be.

While Tilt is a stand alone YA book, it is actually a companion to Ellen Hopkins book, Triangles, which is about Mikayla, Shane, and Harley’s parents.  Another brilliant move by Hopkins and now Triangles is on my list of books to read. 

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Tilt fills the Nevada slot!

 

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

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Think Green Mile, but this time told from the prisoners view.  Do not pick this one up unless you have time to hang out awhile.  Totally engaging! 

~Sheila

 

From behind the bars of a death row prison, an unnamed inmate tells a story of the people he sees and heard from his cell.  Although confined, he tells elaborate detailed tales of those around him as well as what is unseen by the eyes of those on the outside.  He does not speak, yet you see everything through his eyes and ears, not throught the eyes of a visitor; but as a long term prisoner.  There is a lady who comes to the prison and tries to save those who have been sentenced to death, investigating their past – but she never so much as looks at our narrator.  And there is a Priest who tries to be who he was meant to be, but struggles with the reality of who that person may be….  both the Lady and the Priest while working to help the prisoners in different ways through this time, have inner secrets of their own that our narrator can reach inside and pull out of their hidden places….

As the story unfolds, you too start to feel as though you have melted, pooling into the pages and through the prison bars that have held your thoughts for far too long…

 

 

 

Honestly the book is breathtakingly and terrifyingly sad.  And beautiful. And imaginative.  And a powerful look at the absence of hope from one who does not find value in hope.   I am so glad I decided to try this one on audio.  The narration really set the pace of the book in an observing tone of one that has nothing but time… at least for now.

As I described above, the book turned my solid thoughts on what I felt inside of such a story of death row and softened my heart to see and feel the story behind the prisoners prison; with or without the bars that society felt held him tight when indeed his thoughts ran free, uninhibited by space or time. 

I listened to this book on audio and find the narration to be truly gush worthy.  In the end, I feel I walk away from this one with something more than when I began. 

 

 

The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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17-year-old free-spirited Kestral lives in a Dystopian time of war.  At this point in her young life her General father has given her the choice of being a part of the ever needy military or to be married. Kendral has no plans of doing either.

While in the village watching a slave auction a young handsome boy up for bid catchers her eye.  Arin, also carries a similar attitude to Kestral and Kestral picks up on this like-mindedness right away and she purchases him at a price that sends the crowds tongues wagging.

Kestral could tell he was not a boy who would be easily broken and she finds herself becoming fond of him in ways that would not be considered acceptable.  But Arin himself has plans… plans that no one would have expected, plans that can turn everything upside down.

 

 

The Winners Curse was an interesting listen on audio (yes audio again… life is busy :) ).  I enjoyed the twist of plot on what could have been a very predictable story.  The book is set in a dystopian type of world but it also has historical elements that drew me in a little deeper to the story giving me a connection to this world.  Likeable characters, and kick butt finish… I have to say if this is a genre you enjoy you should give it a try.

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