Narrator – Alyssa Bresnahan

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Grave Surprise

Written by Charlaine Harris

Read by Alyssa Bresnahan

This is not my first Charlaine Harris novel, and as I have come to expect, the writing is superb.

This is the story of Harper Connelly.  At age 15 she was struck by lightning while getting ready for a date.

It forever changed her life.  

Along with scars, headaches, muscle weakness, phobias, and other health issues making it almost impossible to get health insurance coverage, she found she could locate dead people and see how they died.

Similar to how a dog follows a person’s trail by scent, Harper feels a vibration that gets stronger the closer she is to a body.  Once she is close enough, she can see the last moments of their life, and experience some of their last thoughts and emotions.

Now in her 20’s, she and her step-brother Tolliver make a living traveling the country and using her gift to help others find peace and some resolution. 

I have to say that this book was a good reminder to me that I have MY moments when I make assumptions without even attempting to educate myself first.

And I found many interesting issues in this story to ponder.  

For instance, how often lightning survivors share similar, life altering side effects.  I never knew that!

How some people will never believe in what they cannot prove, no matter how convincing the evidence to the contrary.  Now that…I did know.

How perceptions can be misleading, and expectations wrong.  Quite often true.

How the decisions we make, don’t always get the results we anticipate.  In other words, ‘you don’t always get your way’.

And how there are people who will do just about anything, to get what they want, no matter the consequences or the people who are hurt in the process.  Can we say ‘selfish’ here?

At the end of the story I wasn’t surprised at who committed the murders, but I was surprised at the ‘why’.

And ultimately, whenever reading or listening to a mystery, it is of course nice to be surprised.  So I have to say that I was pleased on SO many levels with this story.  

And that doesn’t even count the wonderful narration by Alyssa Bresnahan.  This is my first book with this narrator, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Her portrayal is right on point of Harper’s patient resignation at the scepticism that she has to contend with each time she is successful.

The knowledge that her gift will always make her and Tolliver suspects in any crime related to the bodies they find.

How they constantly have to prove the validity of Harper’s gift, too often to people missing the capacity to accept what’s right before their eyes.

Sometimes I believe my biggest shortcoming is that I think entirely too much.  Sometimes I also believe that a lot of people don’t take the time these days to stop and think enough.

We live in a rushing world.  

Rushing to take care of our needs.

Rushing to be the first…to get our share…to not be left out.

Rushing to blame and criticise others when we don’t know the whole story.

 We all do at some point, it’s part of being human.  Not necessarily the BEST part of being human.  Yet we as humans also have the capacity to rise above our base instincts. 

Well, I loved the writing, I loved the narration, I loved the characters and the story line, and I loved being reminded to try to be a better person by not making rushed decisions.  

Whether you are looking for just a good mystery, or if you would like to read something that might make you think a little, this book could be right for you.

Happy Listening!!

Stephen King – Narrator

Stephen King – Narrator

LT’s Theory of Pets

Written by, Stephen King

Yes, everyone knows Stephen King the Author.   Born in Portland Oregon, in 1947.   Married to Tabitha, who he met while at college.  They have 3 children, Joe, Owen, and Naomi.  His first hit story Carrie, was the beginning of many horror stories such as Pet Semetary, IT, The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, and many, many more.

He began directing movies in 1985 with Maximum Overdrive, based on his story, Trucks.  Many of his stories have become popular and even iconic movies.

But, do you know Stephen King……the Narrator?  Well, this is the first time that I ever heard his narration.

On a short story called LT’s Theory of Pets, written of course, by Stephen King!  And I have to say, I love it:)

Of course the story is great, but I have to say that I truly enjoyed the narration as well.

Often times I find that authors think they know their book so well that only they can give it the value it deserves.  However, I usually find the opposite to be true.  Professional narrators can flesh out characters in ways that authors typically can’t duplicate in voice.

Yet there are those rare occasions when an author can also narrate their works in stellar fashion, and this is one of those occasions.

There is a bit of the ‘horror’ story here, but for the most part I found the story to be funny and entertaining.  (Sorry to disappoint if you are only in it for the Horror!)

Even the preview (of my copy) when Stephen explains where the idea for the story came from…it was laugh out loud funny.  You have to love the way the man thinks!

I laughed when Stephen said, most of his stories started with ‘wouldn’t it be funny if…?’  Which is ironic considering that most of his stories end up horror stories, not comedies.  But as he states, they ‘don’t start out as horror, they just sort of drift that way’.

The whole premise of this story I found sort of sad.  A marriage that starts out happy, drifts to some regular conflicts after the addition of some pets, and leads to an unresolved ending.  Yet the tone still remains funny and slightly sarcastic.

I felt that Stephen did a credible job separating the character’s voices.  I really loved the accents chosen, and how the characters are portrayed.  Not as good or bad, just different and slightly flawed.

When the couple split up, neither one is angry or vengeful, just understandably unhappy.  I’m not going to tell you what happens, but it’s especially sad what happens to the dog.  (You will have to pick up the story to find out what that is.) 🙂

It’s a short story, but as much of King’s work does, it gives the reader a lot to contemplate.  The ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ in life.

Brilliant as usual, I enjoyed this narrated short story by The wonderful and extremely talented, Stephen King.  Try it yourself, and let me know what you think.

Keep reading, and as always, from my family to yours..Happy Listening!

 

Terese Plummer – Narrator

Another outstanding narrator!  What can I say?  I love being able to bring talented people like Terese Plummer to you.

My first experience with audio book narrator Terese Plummer, was with Mordacious by Sarah Lyons Fleming.

If you haven’t experienced Sarah Lyons Fleming, or her ‘Until The End of the World (UTEOTW)‘ series yet, and if you like zombies…. you really need to give these books a try.

I am a ‘Walking Dead’ fan because of the characters and the whole ‘what if the world ended?’ search for answers.  And if you are too, then these books will be perfect for you.

Now, I read some of the book reviews for Mordacious, and one of the comments was that this book, the first in ‘The City Series’ books from Sarah took a little longer to get hooked into than the original UTEOTW series.

I haven’t read the actual book, so that may be true when reading the actual pages, but it wasn’t true for me when listening to the audio book version.

Surprisingly enough, it was Mordacious that got me into the whole UTEOTW series (as well as the novella So Long, Lollipops).

So the whole story is that I listened to So Long, Lollipops first and really liked it.  But it being a novella I didn’t realize that it was a sub part as it were, of an actual series.  I didn’t have much time for research at that time, so I just moved on.

Then, I got Mordacious! And after Mordacious, I just HAD to find out if there was more.  And that’s how I found the UTEOTW series, and went through all 3 books in about 1 week.  Keep in mind that I have a full time job and am a single parent household, so that’s pretty devoted listening!

Back to the subject of this post though, one of the reasons that I think this story was so compelling to me, was of course the outstanding narration.  Mordacious is co-narrated by Terese Plummer and Luke Daniels.  I think that this was a really great pairing of talented narrators.

Terese has over 300 audio books to her credit, and Luke has over 250.  Both have been nominated and/or won numerous awards including Earphones, and Audie awards.  They are young, extremely talented, and prolific narrators.

As many amazing narrators do, Terese has an acting background including guest spots on Law and Order SVU, and The Good Wife.  She has worked in regional theatre.  She is a commercial voice artist, and a comic voice artist in Ironman Extremis, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

She received Audiofile’s Best Voices of the Year 2015, for her work on Robyn Carr’s, A New Hope.

I mean, seriously, this is what Terese does for a living… and it shows.

Some other award nominated/winning projects are; Robyn Carr’s The Wanderer, Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home, Jennifer Haigh’s Faith, Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, Carson McCuller’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Peter Cline’s The Junkie Quatrain.

If you haven’t heard Terese Plummer’s narration, and you are looking for someone great, give her a chance to impress you.  You can find more info from her website, www.tereseplummer.com.

And as always, from my family to yours, Happy Listening!

 

 

Julia Whelan – Narrator

 

Julia Whelan, born 1984 in Oregon, has been acting since she was 5 years old.  She is best known as teenager Grace Manning in the family tv drama ‘Once and Again’.

However my introduction to Julia’s work was through her audio narration of the Sarah Lyons Fleming ‘Until the End of the World’ series.

If you like the show Walking Dead, then you will likely love this Zombie Apocalypse series too!

I have (and have listened to) all four books, including the novella ‘So Long Lollipops‘, that were narrated by Julia Whelan.

The series order goes; Until the End of the World, And After(book 2), All the Stars in the Sky(book 3).  The novella So Long, Lollipops should be read between books 1 and 2, for the best chronological order, but it’s not required.

Also from Sarah Lyons Fleming (but not narrated by Julia), is the side story Mordacious.  Much like the novella, the story of Mordacious occurs in the same timeline as the Until the End of the World series, but it follows the struggles of a different group of people, including some  characters originally introduced in book one.

Once again the best combination of outstanding writing, and amazing narration.  This is truly a great example of how AWESOME audio books can be.

Julia’s narration on the whole series is just stellar.  In my 1-4 narrator rating scale, she definitely comes in as a 4!  Her timing is so eloquent, the emotion so real.  For me, this set is an all-around KEEPER.

You know some books you listen to once, and they may be great, but once is enough.  This set though, I just don’t want to put away.  I keep playing them, and will no doubt re-visit them like some of my other favorites, every year.

You just can’t help but fall in love with these characters.  Cassie, Nelly, Penny, Anna, Peter, Bits, Adrian, John, Dan……the list just goes on and on.

So if this sounds interesting to you, give this series a try.  If not, there are many other types of books in which you can enjoy Julia Whelan’s narration.  Including the mystery novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, that was turned into a movie in 2014.

To follow Julia on twitter click here.

Let us know what you think of Julia’s work, and as always, Happy Listening!

 

Luke Daniels – Narrator

My first foray into the work of Luke Daniels, was actually the novella So Long, Lollipops, by Sarah Lyons Fleming.  However, my favorite of Sarah’s book, including narration is Mordacious.  I just love this audio book!

Luke (and Terese Plummer), do such a great job of bringing life, emotions, and realism to this story.  They work extremely well together also.

The production and editing on this audio book, makes the listening experience effortless.  This is a great example of how great an audio book can be when all the components are there and aligned for perfection.

The writing is tremendous, the performances outstanding, and all the pieces put together to create the optimal listening pleasure.

It sounds funny to say that last, when I think about the story line itself, which is pretty much the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ theme.  But when it’s ‘The End of the World’,  a somewhat OFF perception, and a sense of humor will be invaluable.  So forgive me if I’m just trying to get a head start:)

So back to Luke Daniels.  Luke comes from a family of actors.  He grew up with his both his mother and father performing and teaching in the Theatre.

Currently he has over 450 audio books to his name.  He has received numerous awards including 13 Audio File Earphones Awards, and Audible’s 2012 Narrator of the Year Award.

He has a deep love and passion for story telling, which can easily been seen by checking out his YouTube videos or viewing his Facebook or Twitter posts.

He is just such a fun loving sort of personality, that you can’t help but appreciate the fact that he has obviously found his passion.

His wide range of works ensures that there will be something for any type of audiobook listener.  So check out his available works, and give Luke a try.

Luke can be found through his main website, www.luke-daniels.com , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Luckylukeekul/ , and on Twitter @luckylukeekul.

Happy listening!

 

Mordacious – Book Review

Mordacious – definition – Of a person or animal given to biting.

Author Sarah Lyons Fleming
Narrated by Terese Plummer and Luke Daniels

I love, love, LOVE, this book!  Actually all 3 in the series that I have heard so far, and I know of at least 2 more to go.

If you like the Walking Dead TV show, then you should like this series.  It’s the ‘End of the World’, ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, type story.

But I find Sarah’s books much more than that.  The characters seem so real, and alive…and funny…and flawed.  You just can’t help but root for them to make it.  To find a SAFE place.

Every time there is a happy homecoming, and someone is reconnected with family previously assumed lost…you just want to applaud and celebrate with them!

And when someone is lost, you wish you could be there to help the rest  pick up the pieces and find the strength to carry on.

There are multiple stories in this series and each book is told from different perspectives.

In the case of ‘Mordacious’, the story follows the paths of two separate individuals, Silvie and Eric.

I like that each time the perspective changes the audio book lets you know who is talking.  Even though we have 2 narrators, and it’s obvious from the narration whose story we are following, I still like that it states it plainly as well.  It’s like…setting up the stage and I like that.

The narration is Great of course.  I wouldn’t recommend this in audio format if I didn’t enjoy the narration as well.

I usually prefer to listen to single narration, but I find this collaboration of   male and female narrators works really well.  You can still get enough examples of their abilities in the various characters that each portrays throughout the story, to hear that they are both very talented.

In fact, I will be researching both for future posts, but for now I just wanted to get this story out to all of you.

I love that this is part of an interconnected series, so that the stories don’t end when the book does.  I have 3 down and as far as I know, 2 more to go.  I am so looking forward to hearing those as well!

So if you like ‘End of the World’ stories, you should really give Sarah Lyons Fleming a try.  I love her writing, and I hope you will too.

Happy Listening!

Stephen Lang – Narrator Review

 

Stephen Lang is an actor, playwright, and audiobook narrator. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in English Literature.  Married to Kristina Watson for over 35 years, they share four children.

As discussed in the above video, he recently played the blind man Norman Nordstrom in the 2016 released ‘Don’t Breathe’.

For me, his most memorable role was Commander Nathaniel Taylor in the 2011 TV show (regretably only one season), Terra Nova.  I know actors often like to play the ‘bad guy’, but I really like him in this straight forward, ‘guy trying to do the best he can for his people’ kind of role.

So imagine my surprise when I listened to Sandra Brown’s Chill Factor and recognized who the narrator was.  Not all, but a lot of the really good narrators will have some acting experience, so a narrator who is also currently acting is nothing new.  

Still, this is the first time that I can recall, that the actor was someone whose work I was very familiar with.  It’s sort of like running into a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  Quite a pleasant surprise.

The story, Chill Factor, is a murder mystery.  Five women have gone missing over a 2 year period in a small North Carolina town.  The local police department, small and not particularly bright, has no leads or suspects until the FBI begins asking questions about a writer who has spent time off and on in town over the years.

Unexpectedly stranded with the same writer during a blizzard in the house Lily just sold, she begins to wonder herself if this man might be the murderer, and if she will make it out of the storm alive.

With a host of other local characters, the story goes back and forth between the 2 trapped in the house on the mountain, and the FBI and police working their way through the details of the cases.

While I enjoy mysteries, murder mysteries are not my favorites. They are however, big sellers and therefore, easy to find on sale at stores. By far the most common type that I find at yard sales as well which is where I bought this one.

So, taking that into account, overall I found it a good story.  There were some spots that I found the writing to be more drawn out than what was resonable to expect, as if the writer was trying to stretch out the story.  And the ending was perhaps a bit too convenient, but hey, at least you’re not left hanging.

Had I been reading the physical book myself, it might have made it a slower read.  However, with Stephen Lang’s narration,  it was less notable and a more enjoyable experience.

I would put Stephen’s narration on Chill Factor to be a solid 3 in my 1-4 scale.   Good consistent characters, both men and women.  Great technical skills (speed, pronunciations, etc.).

So if you enjoy murder mysteries, or would like to try a good sample of Stephen Lang’s narration, then give Chill Factor by Sandra Brown a chance.

Please leave any comments or suggestions, and from our family to yours, Happy Listening!

 

Carrie and Me, A Mother Daughter Love Story – Book Review

Carrie and Me - Audio book cover

Carrie and Me – A Mother Daughter Love Story

Written and read by Carol Burnett.

I’ve always loved watching Carol Burnett perform any kind of comedy act.

Growing up, there were few successful female role models around.  Of course, we didn’t have daily access to the World Wide Web then either.

So for me, mostly my role models came from T.V.  And there have always been a lot of actors, but the ones who last are rare, and Carol is definitely one.

I recently came across this audio book written and read by Carol Burnett about her relationship and struggles with her oldest daughter, Carrie.

Carrie went through many years struggling with drug addition.  She became addicted to drugs in her teens, attended several rehab programs, and finally was able to maintain a drug free life.

Unfortunately she developed cancer in her 30’s that was diagnosed late, and she passed away at too young of an age.

However, she lived her life the way she wanted, found success in her work, and created many wonderful relationships along the way.

The story starts out as a narrative, with Carol telling about her early life, having her 3 daughters, and going through Carrie’s addiction.  Then she narrates a section of communications (with added details) between herself and Carrie leading up to Carrie’s death.

And lastly Carol narrates a fiction story that Carrie was working on prior to her death. When Carrie realized that she would not conquer the cancer, she made a personal request to her mom asking that she finish the story for her if she was able.

I find the sequences interesting and quite unique coming all it one book.  Of course it’s a bit of a tear jerker at times, especially if you are a parent.

Mostly I think, as with anyone you might hold in high regard, it’s humanizing to see their personal struggles.  To be reminded that we are all human, flawed, and challenged at times in our lives.

Perhaps if we knew more about each persons individual struggles, maybe we might find ourselves struggling with each other less.  Criticizing less, and empathizing more.

I know so many of us are really into the fiction, but if you haven’t tried Autobiographies yet, I encourage you to look up someone well known that you admire.  See if they have an autobiography available, and give it a try.

It’s always a good idea to step out of your comfort zone from time to time, and you might just surprise yourself.

If you want to find out more about Carrie and Me, click on the link below.

From our family to yours, happy listening!

 

Worth Dying For – Book Review

 

Worth Dying For (A Jack Reacher Novel)

By Lee Child

Narrated by Dick Hill

I believe this is the second or third Jack Reacher novel that I have read/heard.  And as expected, a really great book.

Reacher is such a great character.  Such a complex person, yet in many ways a basic almost primitive man.

I find myself rooting for him, and wishing there was a Jack Reacher on my side for once!

This time Jack finds himself in Nebraska, hitching rides on his way to Virginia.  On his first night, he meets a drunk doctor and overhears the doctor avoiding a call from a woman complaining of a nose bleed that won’t stop.  Jack convinces the doctor to go on a house call.

Since the doctor is drunk, Jack volunteers to drive for the doctor.  What they find at the woman’s house angers Jack and as usual, he can’t help but get involved.

Yet what starts out as a suspected spousal abuse problem, quickly turns into an international incident, with multiple bad guys vying for who can catch or kill Reacher first.

Reacher with his usual flair, divides and conquers, and in the process solves a decades old mystery while saving many lives by taking a few.

Ultimately it’s a very sad story though.  Although Jack comes out the undeniable champion, we get introduced to a very seedy side of the human psyche.

One that I certainly will never understand, and hope never to experience in any way in real life.  There are souls who walk the earth filled with darkness, who commit truly unspeakable acts.

If only there were more Jack Reachers to put them all out of commission, humanity might just have a chance to reach a new and better level of existence.

For now, we will have to settle for one notch on the scoreboard for the good guys.

If you like action mysteries, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Happy Listening!

 

Quaker Cafe – book review

Author – Brenda Bevan Remmes

Narrator – Bahni Turpin

Book review –  

Liz Hoole married into a Quaker family 25 years ago.  While being more of a free-spirited liberal from the Midwest, she has learned to respect the Quaker lifestyle even if she doesn’t always agree with it.  

While preparing to run for public office and her son’s upcoming wedding, Liz doesn’t know how challenging this year will be not only to her, but to her family and the entire community.  

The underlying message to this story is that secrets are harmful and affect more than you realize, but don’t have to be the end of the story.

The struggle to understand and respect other points of view than what you feel.  How hard it is to keep a secret that isn’t yours to share, especially when the knowledge might help to save a life.  Liz is told a huge secret from someone that she has grown to respect greatly.  And it’s not a happy secret… not a surprise there.  But it’s a secret that has been part of a long standing injustice in the community, and which has continued to keep the community divided.  

As bad as the secret is, coming out 56 years later will wound countless members of the community in untold ways, but its time has come.  For better or worse, it’s time for the truth to come out, and Liz and others are determined to minimize the damage when it does. And to save the community they all love.

My first book from Narrator Bahni Turpin, I was pleasantly surprised.  There are some totally stellar character performances here.  Overall a great performance.  Having lived in the South myself, I found Bahni’s Southern accent to be very nicely done.   

Especially her portrayal of Reverend Brodnax of the Jerusalum Baptist Church. Her performance of Maggie, one of Liz’s best friends who contracts cancer, and Maggie’s struggle to try to defeat the cancer with the help of Liz and other friends is endearing and a bit heart wrenching.  

I would classify this as a drama, but it’s noted as Women’s Fiction which I found quite interesting because I didn’t know we had our own fiction:)

I found this story interesting on several levels.  One, as a look into the Quaker way of life, which although much more restrictive than what we are typically used to in this day and age, has many positive qualities and practices.  

Secondly, how life changing mistakes and misunderstandings  can happen when people are too quick to make judgements, assign blame, and try to seek retribution.  And how they can compound over time.

Thirdly, how people are ALL flawed, even those we respect.  Anyone can make choices that later become regrets.  And how support, and the right perspective can take a negative situation, and turn it into a positive future.  

The book is well written and the story engaging.  I did find that there were moments when the story lagged a bit for me (maybe that’s where the Women’s Fiction comes in), but Bahni’s narration carried me forward until I felt engaged again.  I highly recommend this book both for the classic writing and the intuitive narration.  

If this style of work interests you, you should really give this one a try.

And as always, from my ears to yours, Happy Listening!