A Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Emerald Arch Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in northern Washington State, the Savage family recently took over an Irish castle that was moved to the US some years ago. Now Lia Savage has left California to help her family renovate the castle and get it ready for it’s new life as a tourist attraction. However, there is a spirit haunting the premises. Add to that, Lia has set eyes once again on Coop Montgomery, who has grown from the boy she knew to a young man. Romance is in the air.

This story starts off pretty good. The main characters are given some dimension and the setting is interesting. Adding the Irish ghost to the mix adds some mystery since the ghost is hunting for something hidden in the castle.

Lia was my favorite character. She’s very much wants to be a chef and she and her California friend are searching for a place to open their own cafe. However, her family would really like her to stay in Washington. Then we meet Coop and, despite his silly name, he provides yet more reason for her to consider staying in Washington.

The romance was cute and moved along swiftly. I’m not big on romance myself but it worked well for this story. The setting was great. I love the idea of an old Irish castle moved brick by brick over to the states and set down in the Pacific Northwest. Lia and her siblings had fun exploring the castle as well as assisting in fixing it up.

Speaking of Lia’s siblings, they are all twins. I think it was 3 sets of twins, though one of Lia’s sisters had died at some point prior to the beginning of this tale. So I couldn’t help but wonder if Lia’s mother was on some sort of egg enhancing drug therapy. Also we never do learn the particulars of how Lia’s sister dies and that left a little string hanging undone. I really wanted to know and it wouldn’t have been much trouble for the author to give us that.

The story winds up to the big hunt for the lost object the ghost has been longing for. It was fun and exciting though I never felt that Lia, Coop, or the kids were in any real danger. Once the mystery is solved, the story wraps up really quickly and I was left with a few questions about the plot hanging there unanswered. I wanted to know about Lia’s dead sister but I also wanted to know what happened with Lia’s friend in California and how their friendship held up to Lia’s ultimate decision.

I received a free copy of this book with no strings attached.

The Narration: Tiffany Williams was a delight to listen to. She had distinct voices for each character, which was not always an easy feat with the twins in this book. While her Irish accent for the ghost was a little rough, it was still enjoyable.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; good narration; the castle in Washington setting; the mystery of the ghost; Lia and her siblings.

What I Disliked: There were a few questions left unanswered by the end of the story. 

Immortal Weaver by Sophia Myers

MyersImmortalWeaverWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Sophia Myers (2014)

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Fate Weavers trilogy

Author’s Page

Kathryn (Katie) McDounough is an intern journalist. She wants her big break into the field, one that will launch and secure her career. Working  for the Boston Commons, her first tough assignment is to successfully interview the notoriously eccentric author, Robert Staggs. But soon after the initial interview, odd things occur in Katie’s life. She digs into the mystery, but that may leave her dead.

This is a fun addition to the urban fantasy genre. It focuses on the three Fates of mythology. They probably started off Greek (the Moirai) as Robert Staggs suspect, but their names have changed as different cultures through the ages adopted them into their mythology. Now, in this modern era, the Fates seem rather interested in both Robert and Katie. But their interest is of a sinister nature and Katie experiences some scary and disturbing things. She has to outsmart Fate itself.

I really liked the mix of mythology, investigative reporting, action, and reflection. The story had a good pace and I wanted to listen to this book all in one sitting. The characters were easy to connect with and I was caught up in their story wanting to know how they were going to get out of the mess they are in. Over all, this book is clever and fun.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration:  Tiffany Williams was great. She had the perfect voice for Katie, providing the right amount of emotion as the situation warranted. She also had believable male voices. 

What I Liked: The Three Fates; investigative journalism; having to outsmart Fate itself; connected to the characters; I want to know how it all works out.

What I Disliked: Nothing! I really liked this tale.

What Others Think:

Ezine Articles

Solar Lullaby by T. W. Fendley

FendleySolarLullabyWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: TW Fendley LLC (2014)

Length: 38 minutes

Author’s Page

Dr. Flaire Haiche and a handful of her students are the only ones who truly believe that the Sun is trying to communicate with Earth. The massive solar flair of 2012 killed billions and another such massive flair is predicted to occur very soon. Flaire and her team race against time to figure out how to divert the forthcoming disaster.

For only 38 minutes, this story really packs a punch. It has great characters, a solid story line, and that sense of impending doom that our heroes may or may not be able to slip out from under. Flaire is the most developed character. She is driven by her past. Her parents were the first to notice a pattern to the solar flairs. She grew up in their laboratory in New Mexico, listening to their scientific arguments and theories on the subject. When the 2012 Mayan solar flair event happened, stealing her loved ones from her, she became all that more dedicated to not only discerning the pattern, but convincing the US government of it.

The thing that I loved about this short story is that we the readers step right into the middle of things. Flaire has her personal history. But there is also this history of tried and failed experiments at communicating with the Sun, convincing the government, and developing and fine-tuning their methods for communication. At this point, it is just a theory they are testing out. They send up a message and then watch the solar flairs in detail for a distinct reaction. Of course, each person on Flaire’s team has their own theory about this action-reaction they are seeing – beings that live within the Sun, the Sun itself being somewhat conscious, a natural measurable phenomena. It’s all very intriguing. I was swept into the story from the beginning and thoroughly enjoyed the tale.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Narration:  Tiffany Williams was great. She sounded exactly like a driven scientist. She had distinct voices for each of the other characters, including light regional accents for some them. Her male voices were totally believable.

What I Liked: Completely immersed in the tale from the beginning; fascinating idea underpinning the entire story; great lead character complete with history; very satisfying end.

What I Disliked: Nothing! I really liked this tale.

Vegetarian Snack Recipes by Heather Hope

HopeVegetarianSnackRecipesWhere I Got It: A review copy provided by the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Good Living Publishing (2015)

Length: 35 minutes

Series: Book 28 The Essential Kitchen Series

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 28 in the series, it stands alone quite well.

Yum! Veggie snacks! As the title says, this book is all about vegetarian snacks. Some are naughty, some are lean, some are green, and some are decadent. There’s quite a variety and this book is a treat to anyone who enjoys eating plants, not just vegetarians.

As much cooking as I do every week, I am always up for some new ideas. In this book, there is a lovely zucchini recipe that involves bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Tasty! In a different chapter, there is a lovely recipe for banana nut bread that uses coconut milk – something I would not have thought of. I do so enjoy my banana nut bread and I think I will have to give this recipe a try. Who doesn’t love stuffed mushrooms?

Many of these recipes are quick easy things that you can whip out in very little time. Also, many of them cook up very quickly, meaning you can have them assembled, cooked, and plated for hungry folks in a short amount of time. Some, like the banana nut bread, do take longer to bake. But I am going to bet they are worth it.

My one little quibble is that the book started with a list of reasons to go vegetarian: health benefits of plants, lose weight, less meat in your diet means less animal cruelty, weight loss, enjoy more super foods and more energy, lose some pounds, etc. You see that weight loss featured heavily and repeatedly in the list of reasons. The repetition was silly at first and then irritating. After all, I eat plants because they taste good. Still, that is a tiny complaint for such an enjoyable book on snacks.

Narration:  Tiffany Williams did a great job. I love listening to her narrate a cookbook. She has a clear voice and good even pacing (which is great if you are trying to follow the recipe while you cook). She also has a hint of enthusiasm here appropriate.

What I Liked:  Lots of simple recipes; many of them are quick to make up; banana nut bread made with coconut milk – decadent!; the cover art.

What I Disliked:  This is a very tiny complaint and wouldn’t keep me from recommending this book – the repeated emphasis on weight loss in the intro was a little beyond silly.

Veganish: The Omnivore's Guide to Plant-Based Cooking by Mielle Chenier-Cowan Rose

RoseVeganismWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Viva Editions (2015)

Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

Author’s Page

Note: In 2011, the author published Piece of My Heart, which has since been wrapped up in this book.

This book is a unique mix of recipes, nutritional information, and a brief look at industrialized foods. The author lived two decades as a vegetarian/vegan before modifying her diet to include some animal-based foods. Trained as a chef and having spent considerable time educating herself on human nutritional needs, her knowledge comes through in a clear, organized manner in this book.

The author starts off by acknowledging that the choices we make in what we eat are deeply personal. She doesn’t tell one what to eat in this book, but presents plenty of information for those curious about what they are eating and where it comes from. For those that have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food, both authored by Michael Pollan, this book would make an excellent companion book because of its recipes and additional voice concerning nutritional eating.

I enjoyed the author’s personal story about her transition from vegetarian to vegan to veganish – allowing some carefully selected animal-based products in to her diet. Even more so, I enjoyed the sections that explained why preparing certain foods certain ways brings out more nutrition. For instance, I knew so little about cooking/baking with nuts before listening to this book. Now, I am tempted to try making my own fresh nut milk at home. Also, I didn’t realize that mincing certain herbs really does release more of their flavor and nutrients into whatever dish you are making – I tend to chop my herbs big but now I think I will take the extra time to mince.

There were several foods that I was not familiar with, and this excited me because I do enjoy exploring food. One example is the sea plant kombu which is an edible kelp. This book suggests using it in cooking beans to assist in reducing the often resultant flatulence and to increase the nutrient value of the bean dish. Just on a side note: I couldn’t figure out how to spell kombu and contacted the author via her website. She swiftly got back to me with the info! Awesome!

This book is definitely worth listening to again or purchasing a visual copy. I especially liked the variations in recipes; often a vegan or vegetarian version would be given followed by an omnivore’s version. Plus, some sections, such as the dressings, one could learn the basics and then modify to accommodate tastes or what is in season. Excellent addition to the cookbook shelf!

Narration:  Tiffany Williams did another great job with this audiobook (she also narrated The Cast Iron Cookbook). This is the 4th cookbook I have listened to narrated by her. In this book, since there were sections that were more conversational, we had more of her voice. Her enthusiasm for the subject comes through. She maintains a clear, steady voice for the recipes, paced evenly so that one could follow the recipe while they cook.

What I Liked:  Nutritional information; new food ideas; the cover art; vegan/vegetarian/omnivore versions of the recipes; the author’s personal reasoning for including animal-based food in her diet; info on food labeling.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this was a great cookbook!

What Others Think:

Fresh Spinach

The Vegan Cookie Fairy

Bean A Foodie

Feast Your Eyes on My Veg

The Delicious Dump Cake Cookbook by Sarah Sophia

SophiaTheDeliciousDumpCakeCookbookWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Good Living Publishing (2015)

Length: 26 minutes

Series: Book 6 The Essential Kitchen Series

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 6 in the series, it stands alone quite well.

This was a short and sweet little cookbook on dump cakes. Before picking this book up, I had never heard the term ‘dump cake’ before. It struck me as an odd thing to call a whole group of desserts and some may even say it is an unflattering term for such delicious concoctions. However, the term seems to come from the simplicity of the recipes and not because the cakes themselves are inferior.

First, these recipes are my kind of baking. I like being able to dump all the recipes in a bowl, stir, and pop into the oven. I don’t need to cut in butter, sift in flour, gently tuck the raisins in. That isn’t me. Nope, I figure if the dessert can’t survive my method of putting it together, then I probably won’t give it a second chance. These recipes were so easy, not just for their simply ingredients lists, but because they are each easy to assemble and pop in the oven. I think this book would be great for bakers like me, kids, or newbies to the world of baking.

I especially liked how many of these recipes called for fruit. My man loves his desserts with fruit (while I am more of a chocolate cake kind of person). So I will definitely be delving into some of these recipes to appease the man’s appetite. These recipes can be used with a white cake box mix to cut down on your prep time. However, the author also includes a cake mix recipe if you feel the need to start from scratch (which is my personal preference). An excellent addition to cookbook shelf!

Narration:  Tiffany Williams once again has done a great job at narrating. I have enjoyed listening to her narrate other cook books by the same author. She brings the same enthusiasm without sounding like she just ate a giant sugar bomb. Her pacing for ingredients lists and the individual directions is great if you are listening along as you assemble your dump cake.

What I Liked:  From scratch cake mix recipe; desserts made simple – no extravagant assembly; plenty of recipes featuring fruit; great narration.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this was a great cookbook!

The Budget Cookbook by Sarah Sophia

SophiaTheBudgetCookbookWhere I Got It: Review copy from the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Good Living Publishing (2015)

Length: 1 hour 18 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Essential Kitchen Series

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it stands alone quite well.

This book is useful for those who have a tight budget and need to do much of their cooking instead of eating out. Containing over 50 recipes covering everything from breakfast to dessert, it is a great companion to the kitchen. The recipes range from hardy to light, and useful shortcuts for those with time constraints are included.

You might think that listening to the audio version of a cookbook is like listening to someone read out loud the encyclopedia on mathematical theory. Well, not this one! I quite enjoyed giving this book a listen and I picked up several tips for my cooking too. I enjoy my kitchen time and I am one of those cooks that sees recipes more as guidelines or suggestions than specific orders.

I learned some key things about quinoa, one of my favorite grains. All this time, I had not been rinsing it before cooking it, so it always had a hardy flavor that did not work well with everything. Rinsing removes a coating so the flavor is not quite so earthy. Also, I didn’t know to give it toss in some olive oil and briefly (perhaps for 1 minute) saute in the pot before adding the water and let simmer to its wholesome, fluffy goodness. So the book is well worth the time just for this nugget of info.

The opening discusses the difference between name-brand foods and store-brand (or no-name brand) foods. Usually, there is little to no difference in the food itself (though the packaging can be quite more extravagant on big name brands). Factories are paid to create and package foods, and the packaging is the thing that changes for many dried, canned, and frozen foods. This is something I have heard before (even from my dad who worked at an olive factory before I was born) but it was nice to have it confirmed here.

Over all, between the shopping tips and the cooking tips, this is a little jewel of a cookbook for those living on a shoe string budget, or simply want to save money in the food department. Many of the recipes were simple to follow with a minimal ingredient list so this would be a great book for those just starting out on their kitchen adventures such as college students.

Narration:  Tiffany Williams did another great job with this audiobook (she also narrated The Cast Iron Cookbook). She maintained a steady enthusiasm through out the book without sounding bored no overly caffeinated like some car salesmen. The recipes were read in a clear, easy to follow voice. It was like having my own personal cooking coach in the kitchen.

What I Liked:  Shopping tips; I learned how to cook quinoa properly; easy to follow recipes; great book for beginners; excellent narration.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this was a great cookbook!

The Cast Iron Cookbook by Sarah Sophia

SophiaTheCastIronCookbookWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Good Living Publishing (2014)

Length: 1 hour 1 minute

Series: Book 3 The Essential Kitchen Series

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it stands alone quite well.

This book is about cooking with cast iron pots and pans. It includes some tips about maintaining your cast iron cookwear plus the 30 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few desserts. At the end, the author gives a weblink for free dessert recipes using cast iron cookwear.

First, let me explain that I know almost nothing about cast iron cooking. If I had an older relative who habitually cooked with cast iron, I don’t recall it. No, I know of cast iron cooking from my man. He LOVES his cast iron for camping trips and he has occasionally gotten out the big fry pan at home. I will tell you that he almost always waits a week to clean it after use, which drives me a little nuts. I am not allowed to ‘clean’ it in the sink or in the dishwasher. That is his chore, one he puts off. It is a heavy thing to wield and I have to use both hands to easily move it around. I live on a farm. I lift 50 pond hay bales. So that gives you an idea of how heavy this pan is for it to cause an ache to my wrists whenever I try to manipulate it.

The author starts off with providing basic knowledge on the reasons for using cast iron (even heating, non-stick surface) to the proper maintaining of it (no dishsoap, no metal scrubbie, etc.). She doesn’t beat it into you with repetitious sentences, so the book doesn’t get bogged down in these basics. Then it is off to the recipes!

This is the audioversion of the book, so you might think that listening to recipes read out loud would be silly. However, the vast majority of these recipes were so simple that listening to the book was quite enjoyable. Besides, I am one of those people that finds a recipe to be more of a recommendation than a dictation. So while I can’t repeat any one of the recipes back to you, I can pop into the kitchen and start making some tasty food based on the recipes I heard. Also, if you pick up the written version of the book, this could be a good companion to it. My favorite part of cast iron cooking (should I give it a serious go) would be the ability to start something on the range (like frying sliced potatoes) and then popping the whole thing (food and pot/pan) into the oven for finishing. The strawberry pie recipe is a huge temptation for giving cast iron cooking a go!

Narration:  Tiffany Williams did a great job. During the chatty parts of the book, she sounded like your friendly neighbor who popped over for tea and a cookie swap. She read off the recipes in a clear voice, never rushing or sounding bored. She never ‘droned’ on as one might if they were forced to read a phonebook out loud.

What I Liked:  Simple instructions for maintaining your cast iron (I expect this would also be good advice for any armor one might have lying about); many of the recipes are quite simple; the ability to use cast iron on the range as well as the oven; strawberry pie!

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this was a great cookbook!