The Cavanaugh House by Elizabeth Meyette

Narrator: Amy McFadden

Publisher: Elizabeth Meyette (2016)

Length: 10 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 1 Cavanaugh House

Author’s Page

Suffering from a broken engagement, Jesse Graham has left Rochester for the North Lakes area of New York, taking a job at the local nun-run school and living in the Cavanaugh house, a place left to her by her deceased aunt Helen. Arriving there, she first has to make the house livable and Joe Riley is there to offer a helping hand, and perhaps more if Jesse is interested. Secrets about her aunt Helen and her own past start to emerge and someone doesn’t want those secrets brought to light. Jesse is in danger.

This was a very slow paced book. It takes quite some time to get to any part of the mystery. Set in 1968, much of the story and phrases used are quaint. For some, this might bring up nostalgia. For me, this book felt much longer than it actually was and it took me some time to become engaged in the story. Still, it is written with skill and care.

Being equal parts mystery and romance, let’s start with the romance. It was a slow burn as well. Jesse moves to this small town and immediately more than one available man is interested in dating her. Joe is the first one to show interest and is the son of Susan, her aunt Helen’s best friend from all those years ago. Then there’s Marty, a police officer. There’s also Al, a son of the local prominent and wealthy family. It felt a little cliched to have all the local bachelors vying for the new girl’s hand at the dance. This part of the story held little interest for me.

As to the mystery, it was pretty straight forward. I almost want to say that this book wasn’t so much a mystery as it was a tale of Jesse discovering herself. It was painfully obvious what the big secret was about Helen. Also once we meet Al, it also seemed obvious what the second half of that mystery had in store. So for me, it felt that Jesse’s journey to the discovery of the truths about her family and her past were the important part.

My favorite parts of the story were Maggie, who is Sister Angelina. The nuns doing every day things like baseball and playing cards was great. Maggie’s friendship sees Jesse through the worst of her ordeals. Also, I really liked the haunted house aspect of the tale, with Helen’s ghost being the source of the haunting.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Amy McFadden did an awesome job narrating this book. She always sounded engaged and she had distinct voices for all the characters. Her male voices were quite believable. She did a good job with the sometimes corny humor, making it seem natural and funny.

What I Liked: Maggie and the nuns were great; the haunted house aspect of the story; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Very slow burn all the way through; the romance wasn’t very interesting; the answers to the mystery were straight forward.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

About Author Elizabeth Meyette:

Poet, blogger and believer in dreams-come-true, Elizabeth Meyette’s journey has taken her through a career in education to a career in writing. Elizabeth put her first novel, Love’s Destinyon the shelf while she taught English, Journalism and Library Science/Technology.

Upon retiring from teaching, she dusted off Love’s Destiny, polished it and submitted it to Crimson Romance, who published it in June 2012. Unlike her first novel, the sequel, Love’s Spirit took only seven months from inception to submission, and was published in April 2013.To coin a friend’s phrase, she didn’t retire, she “refired” and loves her second career as a writer.

Elizabeth’s mysteries are set in 1968 in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. An Amazon Bestseller, The Cavanaugh House, and its sequel, Buried Secrets, are available as audiobooks. She has also published poetry and freelance articles.

Elizabeth is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, a member Sisters in Crime, Capitol City Writers Association, Greater Grand Rapids Writers Group and Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She and her husband Richard live in the West Michigan. They made an agreement that she cannot cook on writing days after he had endured burnt broccoli and overcooked chicken.  Fortunately, Richard is an excellent cook.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Amazon

Synopsis of The Cavanaugh House:

When Jesse Graham unlocks the door to the deserted house she inherited from her Aunt Helen, she doesn’t realize she’s unlocking secrets that had lain dormant for years. Reeling from a broken engagement to acclaimed musician Robert Cronmiller, Jesse wants to leave the city where her name is linked to his in all the society pages. Her best friend, Maggie, aka Sister Angelina, convinces her to take a job at a private girls school in the pastoral Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Anticipating a quiet, revitalizing life in her aunt’s deserted house, Jesse is instead thrown into a maze of danger. Questions about her aunt’s death lead Jesse to investigate events surrounding it and the people involved, but she uncovers a web of deceit that reaches far beyond the occurrences of over two decades earlier. Still dejected from her broken engagement, Jesse finds it difficult to trust anyone, even her self-absorbed mother. Joe Riley is irresistible, but secrets obstruct involvement with him until Jesse can solve the secrets of the Cavanaugh House. Someone doesn’t want those secrets unearthed and will stop at nothing, even murder, to keep them hidden.

Audible        Amazon

About Narrator Amy McFadden:

Amy McFadden has narrated over 250 titles in many different genres with a focus on Comedic Fiction, Romance, and not-super-violent Thrillers.  She is an Earphones Award winner, and a four-time Audie Award finalist in Humor, Mystery/Thriller and Literary Fiction.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Halfway Hunted by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayHuntedCheck out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2016)

Length: 6 hours 56 minutes

Series: Book 3 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Note: This book can work as a stand alone though you would get more out of it if you had read the previous two books just because of the relationship between Carlie and Wulfric.

Set nearly 1 year after the ending of Book 2, Halfway Bitten, Carlie is still fretting over Wulfric’s fate after he sacrificed his humanity to defeat the Big Baddie from Book 2. But she’s also still working at the diner and playing servant to her 35 pound cat Gus. Then her librarian friend gives her a new puzzle to work on – a stranger has turned up in town and he looks like he needs be brought up to speed. Exit Wainwright is a miner and mineralogist who recently woke up 100 years after he was cursed into a forced sleep.

Immediately, Gran and Carlie are on the case. It takes a bit of powerful magic to put someone into a suspended sleep for so long. Exit’s first concern is to find out what happened to his wife. He’s a practical man and he expects that she is dead but he wants to find her grave and perhaps learn how the rest of her life played out. Gran and Carlie immediately take him under their wings.

Early on, Carlie is able to use a spell to try to locate the remains of Mrs. Wainwright. However, what they find only deepens the mystery and also saddens Exit. Carlie then brings her shape-shifter friend, Alex, and his sister Anna (who Carlie isn’t a fan of) up to speed on the unfolding mystery. Alex is really growing on me. Anna is still mostly in the shadows in this book, despite her tie to Wulfric (they have a child together) and Carlie’s dislike of her.

It turns out there is a hunter in Halfway and Gran and Carlie disagree with his methods and his choice of prey. This book surprised me because they solve one problem only to have another layer revealed and yet another foe or obstacle to be tackled. Meanwhile, Carlie has been working for the past year on a spell to help Wulfric, whose vampire half has taken over. Carlie is in danger from more than one front! I wasn’t sure how things would turn out in the end and I was kept guessing until the last chapter.

Gran continues to surprise me. I am growing really attached to her character. In this book, Carlie makes a tough but perhaps a dangerous choice. Gran shows her what happened to a relative of hers in the past and that bit of family history really sobers Carlie.

As a final note, I really enjoyed the mail delivery lady in this story. She was introduced in the previous book, but she gets a bigger role in this story. Her wholesome sexuality is also a welcome addition to the tale. Plus, she rather practical and capable – two things that I always appreciate.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Erin Spencer continues to do this series justice. She makes a really good Carlie and I love her Gran voice as well. Her light accent for Wulfric remains charming. I also like her big bear of a man voice for Exit.

What I Liked: Carlie walks a narrow path between good and evil in her spell for helping Wulfric; Gran continues to be a font of wisdom; Exit is a fun new addition; Alex is turning into a good friend; great narration. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a fun read!

About the Author Terry Maggert

AuthorTerryMaggertLeft-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

About the Narrator Erin Spencer

ErinSpencerNarratorErin loves audiobooks!  As an actress, they have allowed her to creatively stretch by playing all kinds of characters, all kinds of ages and all kinds of accents!  She voiced roles in the Audie award winning title, Illuminae and was also nominated for a Voice Arts Award in the romance category.  She has narrated over 100 titles and as an audiobook director has worked on at least 100 more.  She has worked for most of the major publishers and also enjoys working with indie writers who are some of the most talented writers out there! Follow her on Twitter @ErinSpencerLA or find her on Facebook, Erin Spencer Actress.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Book Blurb for Halfway Hunted

MaggertHalfwayHuntedWelcome to Halfway; where the waffles are golden, the moon is silver, and magic is just around every corner.
A century old curse is broken, releasing Exit Wainwright, an innocent man trapped alone in time.
Lost and in danger, he enlists Carlie, Gran, and their magic to find the warlock who sentenced him to a hundred years of darkness. The hunter becomes the hunted when Carlie’s spells awaken a cold-blooded killer intent on adding another pelt to their gruesome collection: hers.
But the killer has never been to Halfway before, where there are three unbreakable rules:
1. Don’t complain about the diner’s waffles.
2. Don’t break the laws of magic.
3. Never threaten a witch on her home turf.
Can Carlie solve an ancient crime, defeat a ruthless killer and save the love of her life from a vampire’s curse without burning the waffles?
Come hunt with Carlie, and answer the call of the wild.

Audible ~ Amazon

Halfway Bitten by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayBittenCheck out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2016)

Length: 7 hours 19 minutes

Series: Book 2 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Note: This book works fine as a stand alone though I think you would enjoy some of the characters more if you read Book 1, Halfway Dead first.

Set in the picturesque, touristy New York town of Halfway, Carlie is still making waffles at the local diner. Wulfric is enjoying his new-found freedom, and Carlie’s company. Gus still appreciates having human slaves to open his tuna and provide a warm bed. But something is afoot, and it’s more than just the circus in town and the clowns cluttering up the diner. As more bodies pile up, Carlie and Gran must put their witchy powers to use. Vampires are crossing their territory and not all are behaving nicely.

This was another fun addition to the series. Carlie is a little older, a little wiser, but also completely smitten by her half-vampire Viking lover. I think her love life had her a little distracted throughout the book, but I can forgive her. It’s her first love and she’s fallen hard. Plus, Wulfric is an interesting character in his own right. Things are complicated a little by his previous girlfriend, a shape-shifter named Anna. They have a child together and so it’s unlikely that Anna will ever truly be out the picture, much to the irritation of Carlie.

The librarian was also a favorite character, even though I don’t recall his name. He’s a little awkward, totally geeky, and definitely a worthy ally. He helps Carlie dig up info on the first body and he doesn’t lose it when he actually sees the body. I also enjoyed the mail delivery lady. She has a wholesome sexuality that everyone enjoys. I am glad the author put this character in the story because she serves as counterpoint to Anna. Carlie goes off a few times about Anna’s promiscuity and it really borders on slut shaming, but then we have the mail delivery lady who Carlie likes. I’d like to point out we never actually see Anna behaving badly, we just hear about it from Carlie. Jealousy? Perhaps.

I really enjoyed Gran sharing one of her secret information sources, a certain ghost. That scene has stuck with me and still has me chuckling. I love that Gran is not only an important person in Carlie’s life but also a worthy mentor.

Eventually the mystery starts to unfold as more than one vampire attempts to cross the lands protected by the McEwan witches. And, of course, the clowns play into it as well. How could they not? If you find clowns a little creepy, then this story will raise your gooseflesh. I really liked the underlying mystery and Gran and Carlie have to go to battle with their witchy spells. I’m on the fence about whether or not I liked Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

Overall, this was a solid story and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out it. However, I did enjoy Book 1 more. Still, I look forward to the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Erin Spencer does another good job with this installment in the series. She really sounds like a 20ish woman. I also like her accent for Wulfric and some of the clowns had accents as well. Her Gran is also growing on me quite a bit.

What I Liked: Carlie’s determined to protect her territory; vampires; ghosts; Wulfric the viking vampire; great narration.

What I Disliked: Slut shaming? Perhaps; still on the fence about Wulfric’s role in the final battle.

About the Author Terry Maggert

AuthorTerryMaggertLeft-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

About the Narrator Erin Spencer

ErinSpencerNarratorErin loves audiobooks!  As an actress, they have allowed her to creatively stretch by playing all kinds of characters, all kinds of ages and all kinds of accents!  She voiced roles in the Audie award winning title, Illuminae and was also nominated for a Voice Arts Award in the romance category.  She has narrated over 100 titles and as an audiobook director has worked on at least 100 more.  She has worked for most of the major publishers and also enjoys working with indie writers who are some of the most talented writers out there! Follow her on Twitter @ErinSpencerLA or find her on Facebook, Erin Spencer Actress.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Book Blurb for Halfway Bitten

MaggertHalfwayBittenThe circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird. When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be. When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after. With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.

Audible ~ Amazon

Wizard's Nocturne by Gary Jonas

JonasWizardsNocturneNarrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Denton & White (2016)

Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Jonathan Shade

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 6 in the series and I recommend reading at least the previous 2 books as there are major things that happened in those books that both explain and affect characters’s decisions in this book.

This book takes place in New York 1926 roughly 50 years after the previous book, Sunset Spectres. The Jonathan Shade from the previous book that decided to raise the young Henry Winslow long ago changed his name to John Eastman. Now Henry is a man in his prime and he and John are in business together and have a good relationship. However, John knows from his previous timeline that his younger previous self, Jonathan Shade, is due to show up and kill this version of Henry Winslow. Also, his once-girlfriend Reina is due to show up as well, from a different time jump. Things are about to get very, very complicated.

This was a fun book and while there are many things I liked about it, I did feel all the time traveling stuff got jumbled and was difficult to keep track of. I wanted a time jump map. Still, with that confusion I got enough enjoyment out this book to want to continue the series.

First, I like that John gave 50 years of his life to raise Henry in a loving environment, giving him the basis to become a good human being instead of the evil Henry Winslow that Jonathan Shade and crew have been trying to stop from becoming immortal. John is the mastermind in this tale, knowing some key specifics about how things will go down with the time jumps. In short, he’s trying to keep everyone he cares about alive. As we know from the previous book, one of his best friends died back in 1877. Now he just might have the chance to change that.

As John’s friends and even Jonathan start popping into 1926, none of them seem to recognize him as a much older version of Shade. This allows him to manipulate things. John and Henry have been leading members in an occult group for many years and John has set in motion a plan to initiate a new member, which will give John access to this man’s stunning find – the Emerald Tablets. These ancient artifacts are the source of the immortality spell that the evil Henry Winslow is trying to enact. 1926 is the stage for his final step in that spell.

This story had little bits of sentimentality laced through it everywhere. For instance, a vibrantly alive Esther is doing quite well as Mr. Eastman’s secretary. John knows he probably shouldn’t have hired her, based on his past experience with her ghost, but he couldn’t turn her down. Plus this way John believes he can ensure that Esther, alive or dead, doesn’t fall in love with him and suffer a broken heart for decades. I liked these little nods to characters we lost in previous books. Yet their appearances and different reactions/interactions with various characters also added to muddying the timelines and making it difficult to keep things straight.

Along with all the scheming that takes place in this book, the story wraps up with a decently long action sequence. Some people get what’s coming to them and, as always with this series, some good folks perish as well. This time they weren’t characters that I was heavily invested in so my heart didn’t ache like it did at the end of Sunset Spectres. There’s a lovely afterglow in which some things are explained and the surviving characters make plans to have lovely lives. I am pleased that my favorite characters are still alive and kicking though I do wonder what the author will do next. What a mess with the timelines!

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Joe Hempel is just simply great at this series. I really enjoyed him giving voice to the older, wiser John Eastman and the younger, still cocky Jonathan Shade. As always, his Kelly Chan and Esther are great. His emotional scenes, such as that between John and the good Henry, were very touching. 

What I Liked: 1926 New York; John’s long-term commitment to young Henry; the return of favorite characters (and then some) that I thought had been lost for good; not everyone gets out alive; great narration.

What I Disliked: Wow! I really need to map out the various timelines and the multiple versions of each character to keep that part of the story straight.

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert

MaggertHalfwayDeadTo check out the book tour wide giveaway, scroll to the bottom! And check out the tour page for more reviews, interviews, and more. 

Narrator: Erin Spencer

Publisher: Terry Maggert (2015)

Length: 7 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 1 Halfway Witchy

Author’s Page

Set in Halfway, New York, Carlie works at the only real diner in town. She has a large, ornery cat named Gus, and she treasures her grandmother. Oh, and she’s also a witch. Things were pretty quiet until a few restless spirits and a determined cop started pestering Carlie. Now there is a child’s spirit trapped in the depths of the forest that she must free or learn to live with a troubled conscience.

I had a lot of fun with this book. Carlie is a character I want to be friends with. She’s independent but not prickly about having friends who show they care about her. She also takes care of her things in the belief that they will be there, in good condition, to take care of her. It’s an idea that I strive for even if I don’t often obtain it. Carlie doesn’t hesitate to show folks that she can take care of herself and she doesn’t apologize for whatever bruises a heavy-handed person might receive from her. Yet she isn’t some alpha female always feeling she has to fight to maintain her place in the world. Over all, she’s really well balanced and I really like that about her.

My inner biologist loved the bit about the long-lost chestnut species. They were key in locating the source of the troubled spirits. The first third of the book is spent in the small town of Halfway (there are wendigo!) but the rest of the story is spent in the woods. Get your nature hiking boots out folks! Carlie and Major Pickford, a cop involved in the case, set out to find this mysterious source of unsettled spirits. My one teensy spoiler is that along the way they meet Wulfric who I think will continue on in the series. Wulfric’s existence in the woods brings up plenty of questions but he also supplies plenty of answers. Carlie and crew have quite the fight ahead of them. Not all will come out of it OK.

I was truly surprised by what they found in the woods. First, there was Wulfric (but I won’t spoil why he’s such a surprise). The next surprise was a kind of lost legends surprise. I found it clever and amusing at the same time. Finally, there is an epic battle near the end. For the first in the series, I wasn’t expecting that level of a fight but in retrospect, it does fit. Carlie isn’t some newly minted witch. No, she’s had years of training and has a good idea of what she can and can’t do. All around, it was a great ride and a satisfying read.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Erin Spencer was a good pick for this book. She mad a very practical Carlie. I also liked her accent for Wulfric. Her male voices were believable and she did a great job imbuing scenes with emotion as needed.

What I Liked: A witch who knows her business; practical Carlie; wendigo!; plenty of unexpected secrets in the woods; disturbed spirits; satisfying ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a fun read!

About the Author Terry Maggert

AuthorTerryMaggertLeft-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

About the Narrator Erin Spencer

ErinSpencerNarratorErin loves audiobooks!  As an actress, they have allowed her to creatively stretch by playing all kinds of characters, all kinds of ages and all kinds of accents!  She voiced roles in the Audie award winning title, Illuminae and was also nominated for a Voice Arts Award in the romance category.  She has narrated over 100 titles and as an audiobook director has worked on at least 100 more.  She has worked for most of the major publishers and also enjoys working with indie writers who are some of the most talented writers out there! Follow her on Twitter @ErinSpencerLA or find her on Facebook, Erin Spencer Actress.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Book Blurb for Halfway Dead

MaggertHalfwayDeadCarlie McEwan loves many things. She loves being a witch. She loves her town of Halfway, NY – a tourist destination nestled on the shores of an Adirondack lake. Carlie loves her enormous familiar, Gus, who is 25 pounds of judgmental Maine Coon cat, and she positively worships her grandmother, a witch of incredible power and wisdom. Carlie spends her days cooking at the finest – and only – real diner in town, and her life is a balance between magic and the mundane, just as she likes it.

When a blond stranger sits at the diner counter and calls her by name, that balance is gone. Major Pickford asks Carlie to lead him into the deepest shadows of the forest to find a mythical circle of chestnut trees, thought lost to forever to mankind. There are ghosts in the forest, and one of them cries out to Carlie across the years. Come find me.

Danger, like the shadowed pools of the forest, can run deep. The danger is real, but Carlie’s magic is born of a pure spirit. With the help of Gus, and Gran, and a rugged cop who really does want to save the world, she’ll fight to bring a ghost home, and deliver justice to a murderer who hides in the cool, mysterious green of a forest gone mad with magic.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

$10 Amazon Gift Card

$10 Amazon Gift Card

He Will Be My Ruin by K. A. Tucker

TuckerHeWillBeMyRuinWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrators: Kate Rudd, Olivia Song

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)

Length: 11 hours 39 minutes

Author’s Page

 

Celine, a beautiful woman trying to carve out a life in New York, is dead. Her childhood friend Maggie Sparkes flies in from Kenya to pack up her apartment and mourn. As Maggie digs into Celine’s recent past, she finds things that make her believe that Celine didn’t commit suicide. However she will need more than a gut feeling and a risque picture of a man to convince the police to reopen the case.

The description calls this a ‘romantic thriller’ and this is definitely more thriller and amateur detective story than a romance, much to my delight. This book flew by, keeping me interested and guessing who the culprit was. Indeed, there was even a doubt in my mind as to whether Celine herself made the final choice. The plot is well laid out and the characters fully engaging.

Maggie is heir to a fortune but despises how her family makes their money (which involves turning a blind eye to the environmental pollution their various businesses create). So she has devoted her life and money to various charity efforts. Celine was the daughter of Rosa, the Sparkes’ housemaid when Maggie was growing up. The girls became fast friends and stayed in touch as adults. Now with Rosa seriously ill, aging, and living in California, Maggie is the next logical choice to pack up Celine’s apartment and see to her affairs.

Celine was a budding antiques expert and her apartment is filled with her finds from over the years. She was building her collection as an investment for her future and working full time as a secretary. The plot thickens when Maggie finds several of Celine’s diaries and then her hand-written inventory of items. What these things reveal to Maggie, along with the photo of the mysterious man hidden in a lock box, solidifies Maggie’s believe that Celine did not commit suicide.

When it comes to possible suspects and their motives, we have several to choose from and this kept me guessing right up to the last hour of the book. There’s the nosy neighbor whose always baking cookies or serving up tea, the mystery man from the photo (who comes from a political family), Hans the antique appraiser (and Celine’s best friend), and Gradey (the building superintendent). With each character, there were good and bad sides, and most had something they wanted to keep private. These secondary characters were well-rounded, keeping my attention held fast as I learned more about each one.

There is a touch of romance, but it’s mostly there to move the plot forward. There was one really awkward, not at all planned steamy scene that came off a little ridiculous. It was the only such scene and it was quick, so it didn’t detract from the story. Celine is at the center of most of the romance, she herself being in love with a particular person even as another has a deep attachment to her.

I hope the author writes more stories along these same lines. I really enjoyed the suspense!

I received a copy at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration:  Kate Rudd and Olivia Song each did great jobs on this book. I don’t know who took on the voice of Maggie and who took on the voice of Celine, however, both were done very well. Whoever performed Celine gave her a light Hispanic accent that was well done. Also, the narrator handled Celine’s emotions with just the right amount of drama or sadness or desperation as the scenes required. The narrator for Maggie was also great bringing Maggie to life as a no-nonsense and determined woman. 

What I Liked: Just an excellent suspense story!; Maggie may be rich but she knows how to get tough and dirty; the side characters were well written; a plethora of suspects; more than one possible motive; the antiques and their histories; kept me guessing right up to the big reveal!; excellent and realistic ending.

What I Disliked: The elevator scene – just a little silly.

What Others Think:

Aesta’s Book Blog

All About Romance

Hypable

Vilma’s Book Blog

Between My Lines

No BS Book Reviews

Swami Soup by Valerie Gilbert

GilbertSwamiSoupWhere I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Valerie Gilbert

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Length: 8 hours 5 minutes

Author’s Page

For folks who have enjoyed Raving Violet, Ms. Gilbert returns with more tales of her mystical life in New York city. From quirky neighborhood characters, to her adventures into spiritual education, to commentary on our modern world, she ventures into it all. The book is a mix of humor and awe at the world around us.

Once again, Gilbert entertains us with tales of her adventures through the mystics of New York. I find this part of her books so interesting because it is so very different from my own life. In this book, she focuses on dream symbology and synchronicity and how she applies them to her life. While I am not a believer in either myself, I do find it interesting how she uses both techniques to help guide her in both minor and major decisions.

She also chats about some of the fun characters around her neighborhood, and some of the not so fun ones (like the guy who didn’t like her dog at the local park). She went on at length about a mysterious elderly woman who also frequents the park whose past life seems to contradict with her current affairs. While I felt the author was a little focused and a little harsh on the woman’s looks, I like that she included her in the novel because she is just such a walking contradiction.

At one point the author takes a jibe at George R. R. Martin’s book, A Game of Thrones, which is one of my favorite epic fantasies. But she later redeems herself by waxing eloquent about the film Babette’s Feast, which is an excellent film. She ventures onto Craig’s List for the first time, with near-disastrous results. Through narrating, the author has had to update her skills to successfully operate her home recording studio. Also, it has broadened her reading; since she was in her teens she has pretty much stuck to reading spiritual books or those dealing with mysticism. It’s always good to see people step outside their safe reading zone.

Gilbert is refreshingly honest about her fears of dentists, doctors, and surgery. She speaks bluntly about her medical issues and her deep fears, and how the required surgery forced her to face and conquer those fears. I enjoyed her tackling it with humor.

My one criticism is that on occasion she would get a little preachy. By her own word, she is a mystic. So why I can see why she would want to get the word out about her believes on the spiritual realm and where the human species is headed, my eyes did tend to glaze over a it during these sections. They were sprinkled through out the book instead of being all clumped together. So pretty soon, the book returns to more interesting tales of NYC living.

Narration:  The sound quality on this book was very good. Gilbert gives a god performance with a clear voice and the occasional accent. Her previous two books have a bit more emotion and I think I prefer the slightly more animated narration on those two books.

What I Liked: Humorous stories; facing and defeating fears; reference to Babette’s Feast; interesting characters.

What I Disliked:  There are sections of the book that are a bit preachy and these, to me, were boring.

Memories, Dreams, & Deflections by Valerie Gilbert

GilbertMemoriesDreams&DeflectionsWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author/narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Valerie Gilbert

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 9 hours 6 minutes

Author’s Page

Here is another collection of the life adventures of Valerie Gilbert, mystic, cat lover, cheese aficionado, and native New Yorker. In this particular book, she takes us through the trials and tribulations of her first marriage, the on-line dating scene, chasing after tennis balls, and navigating our complex health care system.

I’m hard pressed to say if I liked this or Raving Violet best. Valerie Gilbert is definitely outspoken about so many things and her life is so very different from my own. I enjoy her talking about her life so plainly and bluntly. I don’t have to agree on every point; I just have to listen and enjoy the show.

Her adventures with on-line dating showed both the sad state of on-line match ups, but she told her encounters with humor. I especially liked the tale of the man who insists there never be cat butt in the bed. Of course such demands probably lost him out on an entirely different kind of kitty in the bed too. If Gilbert is this forward in her books, I can only imagine that she is also as upfront via on-line dating and I hope that New York offers up some like-minded gentlemen for her to meet.

The only dull spot for me was when she went on at length about her marriage, ending it, and then bumping into her ex some time later. It was a bit drawn out and I let my mind wander a bit in the middle. For the most part, she told this section with humor, even if she lingered a bit too long over the topic.

I do applaud her for talking so very frankly about the women’s health issue of fibroids. Ugh! But sooner or later, most women suffer from them. Coupled with this discussion was her wending her way through our government-provided healthcare system and the numerous doctors and examinations she had to go through. I have never had an IUD, but I have heard from other women how uncomfortable the insertion of one can be. Gilbert gives you the full color version and it is as educational as it is cringe-worthy. This is definitely a topic that more women should chat about, and I am glad that that Gilbert was so open on her own experiences.

All in all, it is another entertaining glimpse into another person’s life. Strange and far away, and yet there were touchstones that I resonated with.

Narration:  Valerie Gilbert narrated her own novel and she did an excellent job with this one. She had all the emotion and fire of her first book. The audio production was top notch with this book.

What I Liked: Humorous stories; blunt discussion about a female health concern; humorous stories about the on-line dating scene; so very different from my life.

What I Disliked:  She lingered a little long on her marriage and divorce; the cover art is a not as cool as her two other books.

Raving Violet by Valerie Gilbert

GilbertRavingVioletWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author/narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Valerie Gilbert

Publisher: Self-published (2015)

Length: 7 hours 33 minutes

Author’s Page

For those of you who have followed Valerie Gilbert on her blog, Raving Violet, you won’t be a stranger to the various essays and stories, ramblings and musings, contained in this book. The collection varies from the humorous to the serious, the ranting to the spiritual, the mundane to the extraordinary. Set in New York over some months in 2011 and 2012, Valerie talks candidly about her life, her friends, her dead parents, and her love life (or sometimes the lack of one).

This book starts with a little forward that explains the author’s acknowledged growth as a writer through these essays and blogging. Initially, she was tempted to cut out some of the earlier works, but in the end, she left them in. As a listener, I could see in the space of this one book how her writing skill grew from start to finish.

There were parts of this book that I thoroughly enjoyed and other parts that didn’t do it for me. First, the good stuff. In general, Gilbert is putting a positive message out there centered around trusting oneself. She shares many stories about her own quest to find this center and learning to trust it. Most of the time, I found these stories amusing, and sometimes insightful. I enjoyed her tales of her pets, of good times with good friends, and of food.

Then there were chunks of the book that were kind of ho-hum for me. The author is very much into seances, mediums, channeling, readings, and various spiritual endeavors, teachings, and workshops. These things hold very little interest to me personally. When these tales were more about the story than the message, they held my interest and some I even found amusing and intriguing. However, there were periods where the narrative got hung up on giving a long, and sometimes rambling, spiritual message along with an explanation of the message. These sections were of little interest to me.

I found some of the spiritual endeavors interesting because human behavior is interesting. First, I was a bit surprised at how many people will pay money for some of these activities, teachings, and workshops. That statement is just me showing my ignorance. After all, people tithe churches, so why not pay for a weekend retreat to learn how to develop your psychic abilities? Then there is also the difference between channeling, being a medium, and simply having psychic abilities or being sensitive to another’s spirit. There are actual definitions and various, certified trainings one can take for each of these. The structure that went into classifying and defining these different abilities was a new thought to me.

Apparently there are many, many famous channelers and mediums and psychics out there. Gilbert walks you through some of her personal experiences with some of these famous folk, such as the hugging lady of India. There was also an Irish guru, who’s style and message weren’t to Gilbert’s liking. While Gilbert focused on the positive experiences throughout much of the book, I often found the not-so-positive more fascinating. The author doesn’t believe every self-proclaimed guru, medium, or psychic. Instead, she cautions that each person should listen to themselves first, and then carefully consider any spiritual messages received from without.

All in all, the book had a few gems that had me chuckling out loud or quirking an eyebrow.

Narration:  NOTE: I listened to an older version of this book. Since then, the author/narrator has re-recorded this book and I gave it a spot listen (you can download the new version free from Audible if you have the old) and it is a quality audiobook with no background noises. Gilbert was enthusiastic about the book, imbuing it with emotion, humor, shock, awe, warmth, etc.

What I Liked: Humorous stories; the writing skill improves as the book continues; over all message is positive and is about trusting oneself; the cover art.

What I Disliked:  Much of the spiritual stories held little interest for me; sometimes the spiritual message went on at length and was a little rambly.

What Others Think:

Author Ingrid Hall

Black Opal Books

Ravenz Reviews

Darkbound by Michaelbrent Collings

CollingsDarkboundWhy I Read It: Really enjoyed his other book The Loon.

Where I Got It: Reviewer copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Horror & thriller lovers.

Narrator: Steve Marvel

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 7 hours 1 minute

Author’s Page

A subway train driven by a skeleton takes on 6 passengers, all in one car. They come from a  variety of backgrounds and have different reasons for being chosen for this very ride. Full of suspense, and at times, gore, this fast-paced thriller grabs you early on and keeps you interested the whole way through. Jim, our mild-mannered narrator and family man, provides the viewpoint for the story. It is through his eyes and his prejudices that we see these other characters. An abuelita (little Hispanic grandmother) actually first meets Jim on the platform as they wait for their train. She is kicking a man (Freddy) in the lower legs; he is dressed in a trench coat and sucking a lollipop and the other characters all assume him to be a pedophile. Once the train loads, we get to meet an older man who is from Eastern Europe’s Georgia and has been involved in some shady life style choices. There’s also a tall, model-esque woman (Sarah) in a business suit and NY gang member.

I have read a few of Collings’s books now and all are easy to get caught up in; this is even more so. Right away, we have a hint of the paranormal and we have a short grandmother giving some vicious kicks to Freddy who is ogling the photo of Jim’s wife and daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of this novel. The characters were set and then the plot ran with them. While I will say that the characters are pretty one dimensional, this book is more about the action. We do get a little bit more on each character as one after the other suffers some gruesome death. And there are plenty of gruesome scenes. Out of all the Collings books I have read, I believe this to be the most graphic in violence and gore. And I was OK with that, because these characters have all done some pretty horrendous things in their pasts.

There is a wonderful twist that I want to say something about with out giving anything away. Such a challenge this early in the morning! Not all the characters are as they first seem and the ending wasn’t what I expected. There. That is vague enough. For a fast-paced thriller, this was excellent; I was enjoying the book, but I had certain ideas of how it would end. But then the twist hits and the ending is different and that took this book to the next level for me.

My one criticism is that the characters by and large are pretty one dimensional and fit into stereotypes. It’s not necessary that they be anything else for the plot, but a little more would have been nice.

The Narration:  Steve Marvel was a great fit for Jim (the main character) who is POV for the story. His mild-mannered voice caught on excitement, fear, sadness, terror. Indeed, he did an excellent job with all the emotions that Jim went through. A few of the stereotype accents were a bit over done (the Hispanic grandmother and the gang member) but I liked his soft, deadly voice for Sarah (the business woman) and Eastern European man. I would listen to another book narrated by him.

What I Liked:  Lots and lots of action; Sarah the business woman; there’s a series of twists at the end that make the final ending very exciting.

What I Disliked:  Not much in character development.

What Others Think:

HorrorNews.net

Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair

Horror Novel Reviews

The Useless Blog

Hell Horrror

Reading the Paranormal