Dead Like Me by Kelly Miller

Narrator: Angel Clark

Publisher: Kelly Miller (2017)

Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Detective Kate Springer Mystery

Author’s Page

Set in Tampa, Florida, Homicide Detective Kate Springer has just returned to the job. She and her partner catch the next murder case, a teen-aged girl, Kimberly Callahan, who shares an unexpected connection with Kate. As they dig into the murder, several suspects catch their eye. However, Kate is distracted by one in particular and that distraction may be her downfall.

There was a lot I enjoyed about this book. It was mostly Kate Springer who held my interest. I believe she will be a great main character for the series. She’s got this dark past that haunts her a bit even though she is well into her 30s. Throughout the book, she’s seeing the department psychologist off and on and that’s where we learn the most about her past. I also like that Kate knows she has certain behaviors for deflecting people which keep her from having close friendships and meaningful romances.

This book does deal with child sexual abuse. While none of it is revealed in detail, the author does a good job of focusing on how that abuse affects not only the child but the adult that child turns into. The story also brings non-sexual abuse and just plain neglect into the story as well.

Some aspects of the book were a bit formulaic. For instance, the killer was easy to identify. In fact, from the moment they strolled onto the page, I was pretty sure. Also, I didn’t ever really worry about whether or not Kate would live through this investigation, since we all know this is Book 1 in a series.

I really liked Kate’s work partner, fellow Detective Patrick Jessup. The two have a good rapport going with their jokes and random fact bets. I also liked the crime scene tech and her knowledge of etymology; for instance, she knows where the phrase ‘humble pie’ comes from.

There were a handful of things that felt a little rushed or slanted in a certain way for convenience. When Kate is doing her sessions with the psychologist, she’s asked to discuss her triggers and Kate doesn’t know what that means. Yet I was pretty sure that Kate had spent some time working with a psychologist or two in the past and also reading up on her own, so I don’t know why she wouldn’t know this basic term. I felt that was put there to give the psychologist the chance to explain it to the reader, not to Kate. Also, there is a fat, bullying cop who Kate is always trading insults with, though Kate’s insults are nearly always about his weight (which I felt was immature). My biggest complaint is that Kate’s past and her connections to the case remain unknown to the homicide department at the end of the story. I didn’t think this was realistic at all.

With that said, this book still gripped my attention. I really wanted to see how things would unfold, even though I had already guessed the killer. Kate is a fascinating character in many ways. She has issues but her focus on her work keeps her centered. The trusting relationship between her and Patrick, who is a happily married man with kids, leads me to wonder if things might get complicated for Kate in the future. Kate is slow to discover who the killer is, or rather, accept what her subconscious is already pretty sure about. I felt this was realistic and I enjoyed the cat and mouse game as Kate finds evidence to support the case. I look forward to Book 2 and seeing where Kate goes from here now that she can lay part of her past to rest.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Angel Clark was a great Kate Springer. I really liked her voice for Kate, especially the more emotional scenes. Clark also went the extra mile and included special effects to mimic speaker phone, PA system, and cell phone calls. Sometimes I did find a few of her voices for minor characters to be a little cartoony, but that is my only little complaint. 

What I Liked: A tough case involving a teen; Kate’s difficult past; her rapport with Patrick; the random facts stuck into the story; the cat and mouse wind up to catching the killer; how the killer is finally brought to justice.

What I Disliked: Sometimes Kate’s insults are a bit immature; it’s unlikely that her past would remain a secret from the department after this case; sometimes the narration was a little cartoony.

What Others Think:

Illiterarty

Black Sam: Prince of Pirates by James Lewis

LewisBlackSamWhere I Got It: Review copy from one of the narrators via Everything Audiobooks Facebook page (thanks!).

Narrators: Alex Hyde-White, Roy Dotrice, Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki, William Dufris, Jayne Entwistle, Simon Vance, R. C. Bray, and then quite a few more.

Publisher: Punch Audio/Smoke N Oakum (2015)

Length: 10 hours 54 minutes

Series: Book 1 Black Sam (I assume we will have a sequel because this book left the ending set up for another adventure)

Author’s Page

Note: GoodReads has this book written by two authors: James Lewis and Mat McLeod. However, McLeod’s name doesn’t appear on any of the cover art and he is not listed as an author of the book Audible.com. So, not too sure what is going on there.

It’s the early 1700s, the War of the Spanish Succession has ended, and Sam Bellamy, like so many others, is out of a job. The American colonies is where work and opportunity lay. He falls in love with Maria, a New England debutante who comes from a family of some wealth and repute. Sam must make a name (and a wealthy bank account) for himself before Maria’s parents will even consider him a candidate for her hand. Sam takes on a ship and crew to go treasure hunting off the coast of the Florida. Along the way he meets several other entrepreneurs (aka pirates), earns a few enemies, suffers loss, and gains a wealth of knowledge.

Sam is a good guy, like the boy next door. He can be depended on to do the honorable thing. So while his character was pretty predictable, he was still fun and easy to connect with. He runs around saving women, rescuing his men, and standing up to bullies and other disreputables. In fact, his inclinations towards the good true often leave him in a fight.

This is the time of privateers. It seems every major European country has their privateers. The rules these privateers live by seems largely up to the captain. Needless to say if you privateer on an opposing countries ships and get caught, you can be hung as a pirate. The line between pirate and privateer is often thin. I bet you can guess how our hero Black Sam Bellamy ends up in so much trouble!

There’s plenty of historical characters, like Black Beard the pirate, walking in and giving cameos in this book. That was quite fun and I am sure there are more than I recognized. Sometimes they were giving Sam a hand, sometimes obstructing him, and definitely showing him the seedier side to pirating.

There are very few women in this story and often they are focused on the men and/or need rescuing. Maria was the main female and even so she had a small role. If she wasn’t thinking about men she was talking to or about them. Hence, the ladies were entirely predictable and rather boring.

I did enjoy the book. The plot was a bit predictable because the main characters were predictable. Even so, it was a fun romp through the American colonies and on the high seas. The good guys win, the sticklers for protocol get snubbed and perhaps learn something, and the bad guys either die or go on to wreak havoc for a sequel. If you are looking for a pirate adventure that doesn’t require close attention, then this is perfect brain candy.

The Narration: As you can see above, there was quite the cast for this book! Alex Hyde-White was our main narrator and he did a really good job as Sam Bellamy’s voice. I had a fun time picking out familiar narrators as they popped in and out. My only criticism is that sometimes the background white noise changed as we switched narrators, making it clear that not everyone was in the same studio during recording, and also some studios had a better quality of recording than others.  

What I Liked: Fun historical fiction; Sam is easy to cheer for; historical figures pop in and out; great cast for the narration.

What I Disliked: Very few ladies and they have no lives outside of what concerns the men; plot was a bit predictable.

Designing Woman by Elaine Raco Chase

ChaseDesigningWomanWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Sheila Book

Publisher: Self-published (2012)

Length: 4 hours 26 minutes

Author’s Page

Brandy (B. J.) Abbott is an architect. Well, she was until she quit, being unable to take her boss’s schemes and chauvinism any longer. She helps her older half-brother out for a bit at his fancy restaurant (one she designed) while hunting around for a new job. She still has to complete her internship in order to get her architect license. Her brother gives her a lead: Mr. Griffen St. Clair is looking for an architect to design the condos he plans to put in on Daytona Beach. There will be fireworks between Brandy and St. Clair.

It was a quick read and it was cute. While I read a wide range of genres, I have to admit I have yet to fall in love with the contemporary romance genre. With that said, this book held my interest long enough to finish it mostly because of the humor. It’s a sweet romance full of misunderstandings and two people toying with fantasies.

From various things speckled throughout the story, I think this novel is set in the 1980s or so. Smoking is prevalent, including in restaurants. Brandy goes on and on about the male dominated architect world. There’s no cell phones.

For the first half of the book, the reader doesn’t have confirmation that Griffen, a random guy who overheard Brandy arguing with her boss, is the same Mr. St. Clair who praises her (B. J. Abbott) over the phone on her portfolio. But since it is in the book’s blurb, and it is also pretty obvious in the plot, I feel OK mentioning it here.

Now Mr. St. Clair has a really low voice over the phone that B. J. Abbott (the only name St. Clair knows her by) finds very sexy. But when they bump into each other in a restaurant (Brandy is playing hostess and Griffen is getting a drink), they don’t recognize each other at all. Now since their professional relationship has been solely by phone at this point, I was OK with it. But as they keep interacting in person and they don’t put it together, I found that a little bit of a stretch. Since it lead to comedic relief later, I can live with it.

The book has a lot of teasing and flirting. Eventually we get to some steamier scenes, which I liked. The characters eventually have sex at the end of the book, which is a rather brief scene and not particularly descriptive. So if you are looking for a sweet pretty clean romance featuring a career-oriented woman and a man bent on reforming her wanton ways, this is a pretty good read. My personal tastes are for spicy rather than sweet, but don’t let that deter you if this book sounds like fun. It was well written, the pacing was good, with a nice mix of reality, flirtation, comedy, and (eventually) steam.

The Narration: Sheila Book was a good pick for Brandy’s voice. She had a lovely sultry voice for the character, that could also be crisp and professional as the story demanded. Girffen St. Clair is suppose to have a deep, masculine voice and I felt that was a stretch for the narrator.  

What I Liked: Career-oriented woman; made me want to take up smoking in order to feel sexy; lots of steamy flirting; a touch of comedy.

What I Disliked: Not spicy enough for me; only 1 brief sex scene; main male character is suppose to have a deep voice, which the narrator didn’t quite pull off.

What Others Think:

I Am, Indeed

Wi Love Books

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman

VenkataramanDeathByDidgeridooWhy I Read It: It was the title. If you are going to die by didgeridoo, I have to know how.

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

Who I Recommend This To: This is a fun, quirky mystery for a commute.

Narrator: Carrie Lee Martz

Publisher: Self published (2013)

Length: 2 hours 12 minutes

Author’s Page

Jamie Quinn doesn’t sleep, or at least, not much. So of course the job as a divorce attorney is perfect for filling her hours. Having recently lost her mother, Jamie is sleeping less than usual and consuming more coffee than usual to compensate. That is when her aunt calls in a panic; Jamie’s cousin Adam has been arrested for murder! Jamie drives to the rescue, facing down a hard-nosed detective, and starts digging into the death of Adam’s music teacher. Set in a small town in Florida, there are plenty of interesting characters to this humorous murder.

This was a quaint, fun little mystery. I found Jamie easy to relate to. There was just enough background to give her some depth, but not enough to drag down the story. After all, it is just over 2 hours long. Not much room for pesky background details. Then there is Adam, a teen age boy with Asperger Syndrome. The police found him on scene when they reported to the 911 call, dead music teacher at his feet, repeatedly apologizing. yep, poor Adam looked pretty guilty.

Jamie feels woefully inadequate to dig into a mystery and to clear Adam, let alone any client, from a murder charge. She is a divorce attorney, not a criminal case attorney. So she calls on a good friend for help, and a shady almost-friend for more help. Together, the mystery starts to unfold and it was quite fun to watch how the pieces came together.

If I have any criticism, it is that I felt the ending was a little rushed. We had all this great, sometimes humorous, drama through out the book, and then the ending was a little rushed. Still, not enough of a negative to deter me from enjoying further works by this author.

Narration: Carrie Lee Martz gave Jamie a clear voice, capturing her various emotions of alarm, anger, concern, sadness, relief. And she did a decent job at Adam’s stilted speech patterns too.

What I Liked: The cover; the title; Jamie Quinn was a fun character; Asperger syndrome side character; the humor.

What I Disliked: The ending was just a touch rushed.

What Others Think:

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