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DubaiReader

Holsworthy, Devon, United Kingdom
  • 72
  • reviews
  • 17
  • helpful votes
  • 77
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  • Keeping Hope Alive

  • Whitley & Keal Mystery, Volume 4
  • By: Dawn Kopman Whidden
  • Narrated by: Amy Deuchler
  • Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

A young couple taking a leisurely walk through the woods is shocked when the quiet, peaceful stroll ends as they come across what is without question a human skull. Two more bodies are uncovered nearby in shallow graves, but unlike the first, these murder victims have just met their demise. While detectives Jean and Marty search for answers, Marty’s fiancée, psychiatrist Dr. Hope Rubin, disappears, and her patient Brad claims he knows what happened. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Never would have guessed! -

  • By Norma Looney on 13-09-18

Who-done-it?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-18

Three bodies are discovered in the woods, two recent and one half a century old. The question is; who are they and how did they come to be there? Is there a connection between them?
Plus, of course, the traumatic opening chapter, with a girl trapped, bound and naked in the dark. The book's title hints as to who she might be, but we don't know for sure until later in the narrative.

I was happy to spend a few more hours in the company of Jean Whitley, Marty Keal, and Marty's fiance, Hope. It was also lovely to reconnect with Brad, the young boy who we met in the first book of the series. For the last four years he's been living in a correctional facility and his case has finally come before the court, requesting that he be released into the hands of his grandparents. Brad was a powerful character in the first book, but we'd heard little of him in the interim.

The resolution of the mystery cleverly combines all the characters into a complicated plot that I would never have guessed at. I had to listen to the explanation of the murders' motives a couple of times to really grasp it. I think this was complicated by the fact that people were sometimes referred to by first names and sometimes by surnames, a real challenge for my poor brain.

This is currently the last book in the series, though hopefully there will be more in the future. I found this to be the most violent of the four, probably because the target is a character who we have got to know and love through the preceding volumes. Again the narrator Amy Deuchler, does an excellent job; I forgot she was there at all.

I'm now looking forward to more episodes in the not too distant future. Marty and Hope have yet to get married and Gracie isn't going to stand by and wait too long for that to happen :)

  • Death Becomes Us

  • By: Pamela Skjolsvik
  • Narrated by: Lisaun Whittingham
  • Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Almost everyone with a pulse fears death, but not everyone fears life. With crippling social anxiety, I feared both. But after an accidental call to a funeral home during my mid-life crisis trip to grad school, I reluctantly embarked on a journey to explore professions that dealt with death in order to come to terms with my own mortality. The result of this quirky trip is Death Becomes Us, a humorous memoir about what happens when a middle-aged, anxiety-filled, life-avoider attempts to investigate the last taboo of American culture. And lives to tell the tale.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Research into death.

  • By DubaiReader on 05-09-18

Research into death.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-18

I'm glad to see that this book has a number of good reviews because it makes me feel better about being honest - I really did not enjoy this. Not, as you'd perhaps expect, because the subject matter was death, but because I felt as if it was just a rehash of the process the author went through to write her thesis on the subject. I did get a bit more involved about half way through when she contacted an inmate of death row, but the first half was definitely a struggle.

Ms Skjolsvik contacted funeral directors, embalmers and hospice workers. She spent idle hours at a fire station with the emergency crew, ready to go on a call out and she befriended a couple of prison inmates during the final weeks before their deaths. She also spoke to people who had lost family members, including children and then, randomly, attended the birth of her hairdresser's baby, knowing that the family had lost their first child to a choking accident.

My rating wasn't helped by the narration of my audiobook, which was jerky. The narrator kept pausing, as if looking for a word, and this drove me nuts.

One part of the book that I did find interesting was the author's battle with anxiety. Her interviews with the various subjects were not easy for her and she even went on a course to face her fears. Hopefully she benefited from the exercise, but in my opinion, making a book out of her thesis interviews was a step too far.

I should have connected with this book as I buried both my parents this summer, but it left me completely unmoved.

  • The Kurdish Bike: A Novel

  • By: Alesa Lightbourne
  • Narrated by: Alesa Lightbourne
  • Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

With her marriage over and life gone flat, Theresa Turner responds to an online ad and lands at a school in Kurdish Iraq. Befriended by a widow in a nearby village, Theresa is embroiled in the joys and agonies of traditional Kurds, especially the women who survived Saddam's genocide only to be crippled by age-old restrictions, brutality, and honor killings.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • By DubaiReader on 27-08-18

Teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-08-18

I really enjoyed this audio version of The Kurdish Bike, a novel based on the author's experiences as an expat teacher in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The main character, Theresa, is an older, mature teacher, who has been through a messy divorce and decides to up-sticks to somewhere completely new to her. To have an adventure and escape from old memories. The job in Northern Iraq looks like the perfect opportunity.
Once in Kurdistan, she goes against protocol and buys a bike, then uses it to go into the village and meet some of the locals. She is adopted into a Kurdish family and we enjoy all their trials and tribulations alongside Theresa.

For me this worked extremely well as a way of introducing various issues, such as female circumcision, the rights of women and the recent history of the area.

The school was an eye-opener, I suspect there is a similar school near me, where all children are on the same page of the same book on any given day, irrespective of their level of ability or even whether they have had a teacher for the last term.

The book was narrated by the author and she did a great job - except there are a few places where she stumbles, which is something that I never hear with professional narrators. On the plus side, she does the 'asides' perfectly and I suspect these might have annoyed me in the written version as I'm not a fan of aside comments.
Hopefully she will correct these issues in the near future.

I am genuinely hoping that Theresa will go back to the village for another year of teaching - at the end of the novel she was offered an opportunity...will she take it??

  • Stolen

  • Whitley & Keal Mystery, Book 3
  • By: Dawn Kopman Whidden
  • Narrated by: Amy Deuchler
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

Another homicide has rocked the small town of Fallsburg, New York. In a cabin nestled deep in the woods, two male victims are discovered, both gunshot victims. One is deceased the other one is barely alive. But it is not the murder itself that has detectives Jean Whitley and her new partner Marty Keal frantic to find out the answers of what occurred in that cabin, it is the identities of the two small children also found at the scene.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • "Oh, what a tangled web we weave."

  • By DubaiReader on 26-08-18

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave."

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-08-18

I think I can honestly say that this is the first series of crime novels that I've followed through with - mainly because I would read the second one so long after the first that I'd forgotten all the details. Thanks to the wonder of audiobooks, I've been able to work my way through this series in a more reasonable time frame and I'm enjoying getting to know more about these characters with each book.

Now, in book 3, the crime involves another murder, with two suspects and two young children of unknown identity. I don't think it would be a spoiler to mention that there is a pedophile involved, so this may not be suitable for some readers.
Untangling the identities of the children and the suspects makes for riveting listening and so I also managed to do quite a bit of ironing :)
I was happy to see that the narration was by Amy Deuchler, the same narrator as book 2. She does a good job with both male and female voices and spoke at a good pace.

I enjoyed the twisty nature of this novel and the ending was satisfying. It was a pleasure to reunite with the crime team of Marty Keal and Jean Whitley, plus Marty's fiance, Hope, whose insights into child psychiatry are fascinating. We also find Jean's daughter Bethany getting involved again, this time through her involvement with her boyfriend Dylan.

Book 4 next...

  • Swim Season

  • By: Marianne Sciucco
  • Narrated by: Evelyn Eibhlin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Sometimes winning is everything. Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin's determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She's got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn't want to win anymore. She's swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Go Aerin!

  • By DubaiReader on 09-08-18

Go Aerin!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-08-18

I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this Young Adult book about competitive high school swimming as much as I did, but it grabbed me right from the start and didn't let up for 590 pages (or more accurately, 14hrs 43mins of Audible listening). The narrator, Evelyn Eibhlin, was brilliant and the issues covered by the book were deeper than just competitive swimming.

Aerin Keane is starting her third high school and has signed up for the swim team. In her previous schools she was a prize-winning swimmer and she knows the pressures that involves. She decides to swim for release of tension only and not to let on that she is any more than a mediocre swimmer, just good enough to ensure a place in the team.
It's a friendly team with a great team spirit and for the first time she begins to feel accepted and to have real friends.
She keeps her family life to herself and gives away little when she is asked why she's living in a new town with her 'Aunt' Maggie.
As the competition intensifies, the truth about Aerin's situation begins to reveal itself and not everyone takes it well.

I really enjoyed the way this novel built the tension around Aerin's story and how she reacted to the inevitable bullying and eventually rose to the ultimate challenge.
The characters were excellently drawn and even though there were a good number of them, I didn't lose track at all.

For anyone who knows any competitive swimmers, this is a must-read, for the rest of us, well, it's a must-read too!
I don't suppose the author would consider a sequel?

  • Threads of Silk

  • By: Amanda Roberts
  • Narrated by: Leanne Yau
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China's history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • As the Qing Dynasty draws to a close...

  • By DubaiReader on 08-08-18

As the Qing Dynasty draws to a close...

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of this book - when faced with unpronounceable names in a foreign language, the audio is often the best solution and Leanne Yau had a convincing Chinese accent.

The main character is Yaqian, just a child when she is removed from her rural home province and sent to an embroidery school. As a young girl she had enjoyed working in the fields, where she had loved caring for the silk worms, but when the time came for her feet to be bound, she had to stay indoors and learned embroidery instead. She worked on her first pair of dainty shoes, intending to wear them herself, but they were so beautiful that they were taken from her and sold.

Her skills became recognised and she gained a place at a prestigious embroidery school, where the sales of her work were to pay for her education. The daily rigours of the school are covered in quite extensive detail, including music and traditional dance.
Yaqian is always striving to improve and when she develops a technique that allows both sides of the embroidery to be perfect, she starts to excel beyond the skills of her master.

A piece of her work is sent as a gift to the Emperor's favourite concubine and suddenly she finds herself whisked away to the capital and to a new life in the Forbidden City.
Through Yaqian we partake in events from the late 1800s into the early twentieth century, as she becomes Imperial Concubine Yi's personal embroiderer. As Concubine Yi rises to become Empress Cixi, Yaqian stays loyal and eventually becomes a personal friend. The Qing Dynasty is drawing to a close and events become tense and worrying, yet Yaqian keeps her head and proves herself well beyond her skills as an embroiderer.
How cool is it that we can now visit this Forbidden City, where so much of China's history once played out?

The author has lived in China for the past eight years and speaks the language. She researched extensively for this novel and I found myself becoming very involved in the history of Chinese embroidery. There was also the inevitably uncomfortable section on the ancient practice of foot binding, so be warned.

An interesting novel to listen to, slow moving but never static. This would appeal to lovers of historical fiction and historical romance.

  • Motherless Child

  • By: Valencia Griffin-Wallace
  • Narrated by: Andrea Jones-Pierre
  • Length: 2 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Raised by a mother who turned to drugs to relieve past pain, Valencia had to grow up fast. Being welcomed by gangs, being shunned by her family, and finding motherhood early should have sealed Valencia's fate, at least according to all the statistics. Open, honest, and often raw, Motherless Child exposes a falsehood far too many of us have been led to believe - that those raised in addiction will fall victim themselves. Instead, she found an inner strength born of determination, resolve, and forgiveness.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Survival through adversity.

  • By DubaiReader on 03-08-18

Survival through adversity.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-18

I fear that the story narrated in this audiobook is sadly all too common. Ms Griffin-Wallace was raised in an environment of drug addiction, abuse and poverty. She joined a gang because it gave her a family and she survived her childhood by keeping her wits about her.
She had a younger sister to whom she became a mother figure, often finding a way to provide food when their parents had failed them.

Encouragingly she managed to escape from this cycle, even though she found herself pregnant at an early age and followed this with two tarnished relationships. Eventually she found the love of a good man and was able to extricate herself from the cycle of abuse.

To her credit, the author now lectures and supports other women facing similar issues and gives them the strength to escape.

I enjoyed the narration by Andrea Jones-Pierre, she sounded authentic and I was actually surprised to find that she was a narrator, rather than the author herself.

I hope this book provides encouragement to others suffering similar struggles.

  • Faceless

  • A Whitley and Keal Mystery, Book 2
  • By: Dawn Kopman Whidden
  • Narrated by: Amy Deuchler
  • Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

Fallsburg, New York, has a killer on the loose - one who's leaving their sadistic, telltale marks on innocent victims. A pretty teenage girl is found dead in the woods, her face horribly mutilated. A few days later, a second girl, also strikingly beautiful, is attacked in a similar fashion. Who would do such a brutal thing - and why? It's up to two of Fallsburg's finest - Detective Jean Whitley and her new partner, Marty Keal - to find out who's responsible for the grisly crimes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Book 2

  • By MEDY L on 27-12-17

Who killed these young girls??

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-07-18

This was the second book in the series featuring Jean Whitley and Marty Keal. In the first book, Jean had a different partner, but he has had to stand down for personal reasons and she is now working with Marty Keal, a younger, up-and-coming (and sexier) detective.

I listened to the audio version and was happy to find that the narrator for this book was Amy Deuchler, who seemed more suited to the role than the narrator for Book 1.

The victims of Whitman's serial killer are beautiful teenage girls, whose faces are burned off. It turns out that they are classmates of Jean's fourteen-year-old daughter Bethany, and as such, the crime takes on a very personal note for Jean. While Bethany becomes more and more withdrawn and petulant, her boyfriend also becomes a suspect, as does the local vicar.

I enjoyed that this narrative brought the crime closer to home than the previous book, but I was hoping that Brad, the young boy who was being treated in the first book, might make an appearance too. However, his nurse, Dr Hope Rubin, does feature and her insights into child behaviour are always fascinating.

Great characterisations and an interesting crime. I'm looking forward to Book 3 in the series.

  • The Mirror

  • Northwest Passage, Book 5
  • By: John A. Heldt
  • Narrated by: Allyson Voller
  • Length: 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their 19th birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their 60s adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Journey into the past.

  • By DubaiReader on 29-04-18

Journey into the past.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-18

This was the second time-travel book I'd listened to by this author, unfortunately from two different series. I preferred The Mirror (Northwest passage 05) to Class of '59 (American Journey 04), mainly because it was less confusing in the early chapters. I also favoured the narrator of The Mirror.

Ginny and Katie Smith, nineteen year old twins, have come from a family of time-travellers, and while they never expected to find themselves in another time, they seemed to have some awareness of how things worked and how to go about returning to their own time. However, they were aware that they needed to be very careful not to make significant changes in the past, and not to fall in love and leave heart-break behind them when they left. Whilst they pretty much achieved their first objective, they were far from achieving the second.

The era in which they find themselves is 1964, with the rise of The Beatles, the build-up of racial riots and the impending Vietnam disaster. This was also the era in which their great-grandmother lived. Meeting her and her daughter, their grandmother, was one of the highlights of their trip and they were able to fill her in on the fates of some of the people whom she'd loved and lost.

The characterisations were good and I loved the different social feel of a time when courtesy was the norm. The dialogue, however, was a bit stilted and I felt for the narrator in tackling an endless stream of 'he said, she said'.
Although this does work as a standalone, I was sorry I hadn't read the previous books in the series. I struggled with the the ending, which brought together the fates of all the previous characters and was rather confusing. I still plan to go over the last few chapters again to really understand who everyone was and how their roles in the story panned out.

I'm a bit surprised that this is not listed as a YA book as it struck me as a coming-of-age novel rather than adult fiction.

  • A Child Is Torn

  • Whitley & Keal Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Dawn Kopman Whidden
  • Narrated by: Beth A. McIntosh
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

When dependable Evan Madison fails to show up for work, police are dispatched to his home. His 10-year-old son, Brad, is discovered inside, unharmed and seemingly alone. He is stoic, sitting in front of the television playing his favorite video game, Super Mario - and he's covered in blood. Detective Jean Whitely rounds out the investigative team and she suspects there is much more to the case than what meets the eye. The happily married mother of two is unwavering in her determination to uncover the real truth about Brad. Was he abused? Or is he the product of an evil seed born to kill?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • intriguing story and one to make you think

  • By JS748 on 28-02-18

Is this child a killer?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-04-18

This book grabbed me from the very start, when a slight young boy of just ten, was found in his home playing video games, while his parents lay bludgeoned to death upstairs. The question of how, why, and whether, the crime was committed by the boy is the basis of the novel.

It was interesting to read a novel about the care system and what happens to a child under such traumatic circumstances. Maybe I'd have liked to have heard more from the young boy, but overall that was a small gripe. My main reason for the 4, rather than 5 stars, was the ending, which didn't entirely convince me, but I will say no more.

I enjoyed the interaction between the adult characters, the police and carers, grandparents and teachers, and it was interesting to see how they worked together and how different people held differing suspicions about the case. Some of this group will appear in subsequent books of the series and will no doubt become friends as I continue to follow them.

Unfortunately I wasn't a fan of the narrator, she read rather slowly and had a much older voice than was appropriate for the characters she was reading. Although she read clearly, she made little attempt to differentiate between characters, even between male and female.

I already have the second book, Faceless, lined up to read, and I'm looking forward to it.