AudioBook Review: A Sudden Crush by Camilla Isley

Written by: Camilla Isley

Narrated by: Tami Leah Lacy

Length: 7 hrs and 25 min

Release date: 06/23/16

Publisher: Pink Bloom Press

Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high-profile, best-selling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon. Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls. So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six-hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again. Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband? When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel. When they are finally rescued, will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?


Review

Joanna Price is this sassy, book editor from Chicago who just married Liam, a best-selling author. Wow! A match made in heaven, right? Unfortunately, fate has a whole different plan for this couple and when Joanna experiences a plane accident and is left stranded on a deserted island with a grumpy rancher, Connor, the fun is about to start. One of the things I really liked about this novel was the fact that this book was not as predictable as I thought, nor was a book just about a couple stranded on an island. I really loved the narration by Tami Leah Lacy. Her interpretation of Joanna was perfect and really helped to bring that character to life. I loved grumpy Connor! The scenes on the island were fun, and Isley kept the suspense going. I really enjoyed listening to this book on my way to work. This is a lovely, romantic, witty, and funny summer read. I highly recommend it.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest review.


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AudioBook Review: Witness by Nora Roberts


Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she works at home designing sophisticated security systems. Her own security is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.The mystery of Abigail Lowery intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and a professional level. Her sharp, logical mind, her secretive nature, her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, even if he doesn’t know what – and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed. Accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, Gleason is about to walk into the sights of very powerful and dangerous men. And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.


Review

I’ve been a long time fan of Nora Roberts, but I’m also one to admit that throughout the years some of her books have fallen a bit short in my opinion. Since I devour books in pretty much any shape or form, and since I listen to audiobooks quite often, when I found The Witness by Nora Roberts in audio format I decided to give it a try.

This is the story of Elizabeth (Liz) Fitch, a sheltered daughter of a famous surgeon in Chicago. When precocious Liz decides to rebel against her controlling mother, she decides to live like a normal teenager. Out on the town with her friend, Liz finds herself at the hottest nightclub in Chicago where she meets a mysterious and seductive Russian and when Liz witnesses a murder she must go into a witness protection program, changes her name to Abigail Lowery and spends the next twelve years hiding as a freelance programmer.

I’d like to start by saying the things about this novel that worked for me. The first part of this book was fast-paced and interesting. I liked the premise of the book and I actually had a hard time turning the audio off. I was very pleased with the narration. Julia Whelan is a prolific narrator who has done a great job narrating many novels. Her ability to use different accents both regional and international was really impressive.

Unfortunately, the problem with this novel is that at half-way through the story, the book loses its oomph, its momentum. The story gets stuck in a plot that is unrelated to the original interesting plot. It becomes about the life of this small town in Arkansas–and sorry for the honesty, but it’s just flat-out boring. The novel manages to go back to the original plot towards the end but only to conclude in a predictable end. As for the characters, I love strong, intelligent female characters, but unfortunately there is something quite annoying about a character who has to remind us every other sentence how smart she is. Actually, it is pretty hard to relate to Liz/Abigail. She is so perfect that at times she comes off as a cross between a robot and a Stepford wife. The character of Brooks Gleason is bearable and a bit more likable of a character, but far from being an original one. I couldn’t brush off the feeling that I had read Gleason in another book, under another name. Overall, I just wasn’t very impressed.

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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty–Audiobook Review

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What would happen if you were visited by your younger self and got a chance for a do-over? Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

Yes, she did it again! It is no news that Liane Moriarty is one of my top ten favorite authors, and one of the reasons I keep coming back to her books is the fact that she never disappoints me. She has an uncanny talent for making everyday life  interesting. Her character development is fantastic, and she is an amazing story-teller.

What Alice Forgot is one of those novels that although the premise is quite unlikely to happen, it is still written in a way that makes you ponder your own life and choices you make in relationships. I found myself constantly reviewing things I had or had not done in my previous marriage, and the things I used to take for granted in relationships.

My only issue with the audio version of this book was the narration. I felt that at times I could not distinguish between Alice and her sister’s voice, so I had to constantly rewind a few passages in order to understand what was going on. Overall a great read. I highly recommend it!

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

The Martian by Andy Weir–Audiobook Review

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet…

WOW! Lots of buzz surrounding this book and I’m telling you it is definitely worth it. I listened to this book as an audiobook and I’m thrilled that I did it. The narration on this book is absolutely perfect. It really helped with the boring, more technical (math equations) parts of the book and the narrator’s voice really matched Mark Watney’s sarcastic personality.

Mark Watney is such a great character! If he were real he would be a really awesome dude. His determination to stay alive no matter what, his fantastic sense of humor, his courage and ingenuity made this book. I loved the writing and the dialogues. Mark is a potty-mouth, but hey, you’d be too if you were stranded in Mars. I have several quotes that I find precious from this book. My favorites are the funny ones. I also can’t ever look at a potato the same way again. The nerd in me was just astounded at all the experiments Watney came up with. And I just loved how he kept on going, even when things didn’t turn-out right.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped!”

“Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.


This book is the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far. I know this is a great story to experience regardless of the format you choose, but this audio version rocks.

5 star

Audiobook Details:

Unabridged: (10hours and 53min)/Author:Andy Weir/Narration:R.C. Bray/Release date: 03-22-13/ Publisher: Podium Publishing/Rating: 5-Stars

Last Train To Istanbul by Ayse Kulin–Audiobook Review

Last Train To Instanbul

Unabridged: (12 hours and 9 minutes)

Author: Ayse Kulin

Narration: Sanjiv Jhaveri

Release Date: 10-08-13

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Rating: 3-Stars

Listened: May 2015

As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.

But when the Nazis invade France, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety.

Last Train To Istanbul is a beautiful work of historical fiction about two privileged Muslim Turkish sisters–Selva and Sabiha. Sabiha marries a prominent Turkish diplomat, and Selva falls in love and marries a Turkish Jew–Rafael Alfandari. Selva and Rafael are shunned by her family, and move to Paris shortly before the Nazi German invasion in World War II.

What I really appreciated about this novel was Ayse Kulin’s extensive research about that period of history, and I loved to learn about WWII from a Turkish perspective. It’s a beautiful story of hope and courage. Many times WWII books are difficult to read due to the horrible accounts of the Holocaust, but this book kept me very interested and the narration by Sanjiv Jhaveri was just perfect. His accent and all the accents portrayed were essential to the atmosphere of this book.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and WWII novels.

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3 star

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Audiobook Review

Take me with youUnabridged: (10 hours and 34 minutes)

Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narration: Jeff Cummings

Release Date: 07-22-14

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Rating: 4-Stars

Listened: May, 2015

August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his 19-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. 

I absolutely LOVED this book. A beautiful and moving story that really brought tears to my eyes. Although the story is simple, and almost improbable with no intricate plots or twists, it is a warming and emotional story of an alcoholic science teacher who’s been sober for almost two years, and two young boys who live with their single dad in a less than desirable environment.

When August stops at a mechanic shop to get his RV tuned-up for a road trip, he meets Seth–an inquisitive twelve-year-old, and his younger brother Henry. From there, they take off on a transformative journey that none of them were ever expecting. A simple story of love, bonding, recovery, trust and friendship that will remain with you for a long time.

This is another feel-good book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and definitely worth reading or listening to. The narration by Jeff Cummings was perfect, and added a beautiful tone to this lovely story.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I Am Forbidden: A Novel – An Audiobook Review

I Am Forbidden

 

 

Unabridged ( 7 hours and 17 minutes)

Author: Anouk Markovits

Narration: Rosalyn Landor

Release Date: 05-08-12

Publisher: Random House Audio

Rating: 3-stars

Listened: April 12, 2015- April 14, 2015

From Audible: Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them… As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters make force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

The world of the Hasidic community is completely unknown to me. Yes, I have been to Israel, and yes, I have many Jewish friends, but when I came across this title I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more about the exotic lives of those men and women.

I Am Forbidden is a cultural journey that follows three generations of a Hasidic Jewish family from Romania to the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, NY. The novel focuses on the Satmar community, the most insular of the Hasidic sect and the lives of Joseph, a boy raised by a Catholic Romanian, Mila who is adopted by the family of the Rebbe Zalman Stern, and Atara–Mila’s adopted sister.

Atara and Mila form a close bond, but when Atara starts to question the laws of Hasidic Judaism, Mila is forced to distance herself from her. Mila and Joseph eventually marry and move to Williamsburg. Mila makes a decision that her community sees as a grave sin, and the consequences of her actions will follow generations to come.

The meaningful themes of this novel include the writing, which has moments of pure beauty, the cultural insights, and characters vividly portrayed. Although I am Forbidden is not an uplifting story, I would definitely recommend this book even if you are not interested in Hasidism simply for the beautiful love story filled with biblical imagery, and for the beautiful narration. Rosalyn Landor’s haunting voice gives this novel the perfect tone.

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3 star

The Goldfinch-An Audiobook Review

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Unabridged (32 hours and 29 min)

Author: Donna Tartt

Narrated by: David Pittu

Rating: 3-stars

Listened: April 1, 2015-April 7, 2015

About 3 months ago, a friend persuaded me to start listening to audiobooks. In all  fairness, in the beginning I was a bit reluctant. My experiences with audiobooks were lukewarm at best. I found that I would get distracted half-way through the narration and would end up having to go back and re-listen to an entire segment because I spaced out.

So when about a few weeks ago I started a membership with audible, The Goldfinch was one of the first titles to grab my attention. The Goldfinch had already been in my TBR list for quite sometime, and I had plans to read it, but since I was already reading another book, and I had a five-hour trip to California; I decided to give the audiobook version a try and here are my thoughts.

From audible: The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

I have to say that I was extremely excited about this book. There was so much buzz about it and the synopsis sounded very promising. This was my first audiobook and what I really enjoyed about this book was David Pittu’s narration. Pittu does a fantastic job narrating in different accents and voices ranging from teens to young adults. This was a very long book both to read as well as to listen. I’m more accustomed to reading seven hundred or so pages, versus listening to a thirty-two plus hour audiobook.

I would recommend this audiobook despite the fact that the book fell a bit short of my expectations. Especially after having read all the raving reviews, and indeed Donna’s prose is beautiful, but too wordy. You can easily fast-forward the last two hours of the book. The dialogue with Theo by himself in a room in Amsterdam felt interminable. The characters were rich and compelling, but Boris, the Russian friend, was a richer character than Theo–in my opinion.

I believe that this book could have removed a good two hundred pages and it would still have been an extremely compelling novel. As for the audiobook, thanks to the excellent narration by David Pittu my trip to California was an audible delight.

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3 star