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Norma Miles

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"The Orzack Hillbillies. "

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

Reviewed: 08-08-20

When Oz inherits a 160 acre farm from a forgotten relative, he invites his old police partner Walt, and wife Maggie to join him, and his wife, Judy, on a holiday trip to view the place. Far nicer than expected, it is not, however, without it's problems.
Another fun story with detective twists as the two sets of friends find that the country can be anything but peaceful. Once again George Kuch narrates, the perfect Walt Williams voice.

This is a series I have thoroughly enjoyed from the first book, every one a pleasure. As is this, book 43. Thank you, Robert Thornhill: long may you continue writing. Recommended.

"Believe"

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

Reviewed: 08-08-20

Goodness. It might be short but it packs a real punch. Or blood, rather. The old house, built by Ivan von Belgium, and inherited by Joanna, daughter of his seventh wife, has been converted into numerous apartments, ten on each of it's eight floors. Being a bit of a gypsy, Joanne accidentally unleashes a shadowy Death Watcher. Called to investigate, detective Halan leads the fight to save the building's inhabitants, and, especially, a young boy.

Atmospheric and fast paced, narrator Andy Packard fully enters into the spirit (sorry!) of the ghostly chaos, reading with passion and emotion. Lots of different characters shouting at each other, all individually voiced, successfully conveying mental images of the place not to be. The writing might not be fully coherent at times, but it does succeed in it's purpose of telling an horror story well.

Belgium Building was a complimentary download from FABC, freely gifted to anyone who cared to request it. My thanks to the rights holder who made it so easily accessible. Perhaps not a true literary success, but a great audio experience, recommended to all all who enjoy the horror genre; but he aware, there are profanities spoken as would fit the situation.

"More gun sales, more shootings. "

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

Reviewed: 07-08-20

The near future, and the NRA have a new promotion to boost gun sales: a 20℅ discount for Senior Citizens, to ensure they say, that they are not bullied or left unnoticed. The over 60s have also been targeted to trial a new sports watch with a difference: it can so closely monitor the wearer's bloods and other medical markers, it can accurately predict the day of death from between 10 and 30 days before the event. It is believed to have good commercial value, but first it needs to be thoroughly tested. The story covers several of those selected to wear them and covers the unexpected complication that some people, especially those with access to guns, decide to revenge themselves on receiving their final notice, knowing there cannot be any retribution.I

Interesting idea and characters, but, with the exception of the main husband and wife team of Vince and Trudy, most remain fairly two dimensional despite the occasional naturalistic conversation. It does, however, raise major issues in both the political field and, in particular, over the gun lobby.

After a good start, the book does become rather plodding: more an ideas book than a thriller, but nevertheless interesting, and narration by Chris Kaprowski certainly helps it along. Always clear and with good intonation and without any fireworks, his is a nice, steady performance. My thanks to the rights holder of Final Notice, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. There is a second book in this series, Final Act, and an excerpt is included at the end of the book as is also a short song by Jackie Morris which should appeal to folk music fans.

"Chasing after rabbits"

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

Reviewed: 05-08-20

A short (only one and one half hours) book suggesting a refreshing reconsideration of the way in which we observe the universe, rather than to slavishly follow rules, to look for patterns and accept the internal linkages each one of us has with everyone and everything. And to accept that things are happening as they are supposed to happen, to resist an urge to push the universe in directions of our own desires realizing that the universe just is, nothing ends, and is the sum of everything.

For so brief a piece, this work is erudite and well worth considering. Although suggesting we look beyond religious organisations, the author does not deny them, indeed using brief quotations from religious books, and, in particular, the Bible. But it suggests that we should look beyond the lists of rules. Equally as well read by John Ashton Nickerson, as it is written by Roderick Edwards, this is a book well worth considering. My thanks to the rights holder who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy

History has not been kind to the memory of Romanus

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

Reviewed: 04-08-20

This excellent read about the events leading to the Crusades in part helps to reprise Romanus' time, starting with his trial for treason, in which he admitted the intention and, rather than be executed, the 'best general in the army' was exiled by the senators, before being asked by the recently widowed Empress Eudocia to be Commander in Chief of the army, then her husband and Emperor.
Meticulous research from multiple sources provides a balanced approach to all of the characters involved, from Romanus himself, the Doukai family and all who confronted the Empire. The author's narrative style provides a clear, fascinating and even exciting tale of these final years of the Roman Empire: history as it should be written, enjoyable and approachable even for someone with no knowledge of the era and sufficiently inspirational to make the reader want to find out more.

Narration by Martin Carroll is clear, well modulated and easy on the ear. He does not get in the way of the text but rather, stands back to allow what is written gently come to life. A fine performance. This is a book for anyone with an interest in history, in the late Roman Empire or the Crusades themselves. I was very fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of The Byzantine World War, by the rights holder, at my request, via Audiobook Boom Thank you so much. This was a period about which I had known almost nothing, despite my fondness for ancient Rome, fascinating, and I am left wanting to learn more, in addition to the book having enhanced my understanding about the conception of the Crusades. A good read, recommended.

"Circles of destiny like gears in a watch case."

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

Reviewed: 03-08-20

Case White by Thomas Sullivan is a stunning book, so beautifully written it is a joy just to bathe in the prose despite the often unpleasantness of what is being so meticulously described, be it individuals, places or ideas. After meticulous research, this amazing book explores the bizarre mythology and eccentric beliefs founded in the concepts of power, reincarnation and the coming of the anti Christ which, at least in part, drove Hitler and those in his close circle to seek to build a new world of supermen. Told through the lives and loves of two very disparate characters, the book travels in time from before Hitler's rise to power, through the second world war to his death.

This is a book unlike the usual 30's and 40's novel set in Germany. It is not about the political scene and the horrors of death camps, although these do occur - how could they not? But instead is based around the supernatural, the strange beliefs which so built the feelings of confidence, inevitability and superiority of those leaders who plunged Germany into a a World War. Simply fascinating and a thrilling read. And narrated with perfection by Joshua Saxon, whose delivery was well paced, clear and perfectly intoned. An excellent performance.

I was very fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of Case White, at my request, by the rights holder via Audiobook Boom. Thank you so much. This is a strange look at the reasons behind one of the most devastating eras of the twentieth century and will definitely make me look differently at current happenings. A thriller, an history and a look back in time and mythology all rolled into a book of personal obsessions. Everyone should read this, though, be warned, at 14 hours, it is quite long. But never a dull minute.

"They were only animals, anyway."

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

Reviewed: 03-08-20

A very quick listen (only one and one half hours), written in the first person and narrated by LeAnn Yae. The crew of an exploratory space ship is captured by aliens, the Minster s of the title. Kept together, mostly in darkness, in a cell, with each visit from the monster known as the Poker, because of his use of a weapon he used to subdued the individual crew members before dragging them away, never to be seen again. When only the narrator is left, drastic measures are taken to escape the cell and, hopefully, to find a way back to the mother planet to warn of these monsters in space.

Whether the 'I' of the story is never determined -and not necessary - the first person narration is by the attractively voiced, female, Leann Yae which influenced the listener's perception. She has a slight accent which fits well with the character, although some of the pronunciations were odd (consistent use of 'fair' instead of 'fear', for example), but for all of the talk of fear and disgust at the smell of the aliens, their guttural yelp noises and weird coverings and violence, this short science fiction failed to be an horror story, in part because of the narration itself. Too speculative girlie, no real emotion. It would probably work better as a written piece of work if scary is what was wanted. As a straight forward S.F.story, however, it works well even if rather predictable.

I received this as a freely gifted complimentary copy from the rights holder, at my request. Thank you. I enjoyed it and, being short, was able to tuck it into a spare corner of my cooking life time - rather appropriate given the story does speculate on food quite a lot. Some nice perceptions here. Try it and see.

"He's dead,Ben."

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

Reviewed: 31-07-20

Minnie must be the most unfortunate RV traveller ever: no matter where she goes, even for only a couple of days, she finds a dead body. On the other hand, she is not alone, but has Ben, the English ghost, to protect and comfort her. But something is changing in her relationship with Ben as they encounter two new parking places.

In Trouble at Devil's Tower, being located at site 13 might have been an omen but it was the tin hatted camp manager and the strong smell of onions that confused Minnie. And, of course, the man in a green alien costume who ran away...

Trouble in Al Paso (chapter 14) is slightly different, when Minnie and Ben decide to try the TexMex food at a local restaurant and are invited to join another couple eating there. If course it all goes wrong...

Two more original stories, linked by food, in this amusing series box set, and both read by the rich, warm voice of Michelle Babb. Always a pleasure to hear her interpretation, and her English accent for Ben, the ghost, is masterful. I was fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of this lastest edition of Will Travel for Trouble, by the right's holder at my request. Thank you so much. Although the stories are quite short, they are great fun, as is the ongoing relationship between the two main protagonists. Perhaps not quite as attention grabbing as earlier books in the series, for me Minnie Crockwell's travels still remain a favourite no effort, enjoyable and lightweight unmissable murder mystery series.

"The mouse that will never come."

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

Reviewed: 30-07-20

Reading this book it is easy to be overtaken by feelings of jealously, despite the trials and tribulations of restoring an old, mouldering heap of an excessively large and higgledy piggeldy cottage replete with wood worm, draughts and damp. Following on from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds, 1, in which Nick and Lesley Albert decided to leave the stress of their English lifes for a new start in Ireland, their search for a remote cottage to renovate and the first steps to get established, Book 2 follows the couple over the next two years. As well as the delights of the digger, the modified American mower, pop-up police road checks and pushing down walls, there are the Irish variations of rain, birdlife, bats, rats (but no cats), and plenty of dog action to keep the reader smiling. And there is the beauty of Ireland and the Irish.

This ongoing story of the relocation of the Alberts is a real joy. Well performed by the enigmatic Andy Stevenson, it is easy to be right there with the couple in both their pleasure and pain. My thanks to the rights holder of Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds,2, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy via Audiobook Boom. Recommended to anyone who loves life, adventure and the discovery of the new. And dogs.

"To good friends and family. "

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

Reviewed: 29-07-20

A pleasant holiday and reunion of Rob and Tex, two ex-Vietnam buddies, turns nightmarish as they are forced to again use their tracking skills. Well written and strange!y intense, this is a very plausible thriller. But, strangely, still there was, at least for this reader, a feeling of waiting for something to happen.

Narration by Tom Lennon was perfect, fitting exactly the mood of the writing and the characters portrayed. An excellent performance, and very enjoyable. I was very fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of Butterfly Lake, by the rights holder at my request. Thank you so much. This author is one I will follow with interest and I commend this book to anyone who likes thrillers with a none to graphic presentation but which are still gripping as well as being well written.