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Sara Niña

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Family Drama

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

Reviewed: 07-12-17

This is a truly remarkable tale, one of a family's love overcoming all odds. It follows Marta and her family. Marta is a woman who always plays by the rules, much to her sister's chagrin, but even she can be tempted to let loose. It happened once, only once. She enjoyed herself but vowed 'never again'. But it seems,  no matter all her efforts, this mistake will not leave her alone. Not just in her conscience, but her family life, her career. This is a woeful story of cause and consequence, chain reaction, you too will be tempted to play the blame game. But at its core, this is a story of the strength of love. It's not just a gushy tale, but quite true to life. Marta's family is ordinary but her one mistake leads to them becoming a news story.

Everybody makes mistakes. No one is perfect yet even a single regrettable incident can remain difficult to live with. A catastrophic choice like Marta's, for instance. The themes explored in this novel were compelling to a fault- I  can't stop thinking about them!  Can one forgive themselves for one moment of foolishness? What if said foolishness places one's loved ones in the face of danger? Is it right to blame the victim for their misjudgement (as unfortunately happens in real life only too often)?

This really could be a true story, it was stunningly realistic. Jonnie Jacobs writes with subtle finesse of relationships and how they play out. An author who captures readers' attention for her striking details. It becomes immediately clear  that this is a writer who is also a conscientious observer of the human nature and all its flaws.c

The narration by Cindy Piller was also unquestionably suitable: emotive in all the right places, but not overly so, and not at all difficult to follow along with. She did a fantastic job with this, connecting listeners to characters.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

A Mature Love Story

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

Reviewed: 16-11-17

Believing In Bigfoot

This is a family story, one which I unexpectedly warmed up to: Ruth is a formidable woman, with a soft side, in the prime of her life. This is her story, the story of her path of rediscovering her creativity and passion, venturing beyond the limits of her comfort zone and navigating her post retirement life. Most of which is triggered by a recent trip to the mountains. This fictional tale is a love story, at heart, and also explores friendships, grief, loss and motherhood.

It's a tale of endurance and patience in the face of hardship: the best comes to those who wait was the common thread binding the story together. I agreed with the message but was annoyed by Ruth's often passive nature. She wasn't old fashioned to any degree but she frequently became upset that her lover didn't call her as he said he would. For a woman quite confident in her feelings for him, her excessive self pity, and failure to even think to call the man she was so obviously in love with, didn't seem consistent. It seemed too immature on her part, she didn't at any point think to question his welfare after he disappeared from her life and failed to show up for a date they had planned. I guess love always tends to have people behave irrationally, at least in literature... In equal parts unfortunate and annoying- for both the reader and those in love, I imagine.

I did, however, appreciate the writing, the descriptions of the peaceful landscapes of a Californian ranch and the mountains were especially commendable. The narration, as performed by Gary Galone, was at times entertaining but also suitably serious. This was very fitting for the story on the whole, which I enjoyed for the most part. What this book lacks in humour and often maturity, it abundantly makes up for in simplicity, and realism.

I received this book from the author for review consideration.

Eryn Scott has done it again!

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

Reviewed: 21-09-17

Another romantic comedy with a quirky female lead.

Honey Pie is seen as a pushover, strangers have a tendency to walk all over her and she can't seem to find a way to get them to leave her alone. That is, until her friend Rainy convinces her to act tougher due to a contestant using Honey's recipe to win a baking competition aired on live television. Honey's childhood best friend, Carter, has the same problem of being too soft and can't seem to get what he wants out of his career, as a result.

They pair up on this project, this endeavour to become badasses... But, will it mean the loss of their endearing personalities? Will their friendship survive all the changes?

This book is, like all of Eryn Scott's, absolutely adorable and instantly relatable. I'm often wary of people taking advantage of my tendency to give in when plans change or some problem arises that they require help for. I am stronger at refusing or not accepting excuses but there are times, especially with someone you aren't that close to, that you can't say no. I've always chalked it up to British politeness but that doesn't mean you should stop being too careful. After all, with a stranger or a distant friend you don't want to set the precedent that you can be walked all over. But then, you hardly want to be regarded as hostile or dismissive- there's a fine balance. This is what Honey Pie soon discovers, and I know others have this same problem.

I have favourited this book. You can always count on Eryn to deliver a fresh new love story that will garner hearty chuckles. I fell in love with Carter and Honey's friendship- it was so sweet, they were soul-mates. You'll have to read it to understand it!

I have become such a huge fan of Eryn's work- especially after reading this one because I appreciate how she writes of everyday women with eccentric personalities and their own quiet strength and determination.

I listened to the audio book version, narrated by Allyson Voller. Her narration was excellent and she brought the story to life.

I received this book from the author for review consideration.

Nostalgic

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

Reviewed: 13-04-17

Nostalgic

I used to read books like this, all the time. Oh, the memories, the "High school romance". When I started this book, I immediately thought of A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks (one of my favourite films). Fans of that film will appreciate this novel, though it's not as heart breaking. The story wasn't difficult to get into, it was hilarious at times especially with the teenage sarcasm,the angst, and all of that teenage awkwardness.

There were no difficult to like characters, even the aunt's tendency to exaggerate won me over. My mom's sister is just like that! Really, all the drama- often just a result of miscommunication- was entertaining. The good girl falls for a delinquent, while predictable, her uncertainty was refreshing. So often the girl falls for the bad boy believing she can change him. That was not Wren's motive at all. The fact that she didn't hold back her judgment of Derek, and her impatience, did frustrate me. But, it was understandable to some degree: Wren's the good girl, every time she's with Derek she feels she's doing something wrong.

The narration was fitting, easy to listen to. Stacey Glemboski's voice was expressive and engaging. I don't think I'd have enjoyed the book nearly as much without the narration.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

A splendid collection

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

Reviewed: 21-02-17

This is a wonderful collection of around twenty one fairy tales, written by the Brothers Grimm and fairy tales written by other notable names as well as some anonymous writers. The collection is made up of the original tellings of the storIes, spoken in a language that is fairly easy for a young child of ten or eleven years to understand with some brief explanation. I listened to this audio book, primarily for my sister's amusement (she's eleven) as she has become quite a fan of audio books. She likes being able to share the book with others and talk and ask questions with someone who is following it at the same pace.

Together, we listened to the early chapters, and I plan to listen to the later chapters with her soon. For both of us, some of the fairy tales were quite new- the others I had already known, but my sister knew only very small fragments of. We enjoyed the collection, it was read wonderfully, my sister loved the different voices Alison Larkin performed and she loved to imitate the voices of the villains. She never could get them quite right but, it was a good deal of fun. I can't imagine reading the original fairy tales for myself anymore, with the collections as thick and heavy as they are.  I feel this audio book is a far superior alternative: more magical, less burdensome and very enjoyable!

It's also worth mentioning that I haven't always been a huge fan of fairy tales, which is partially the reason that I chose to listen to this audio book. It was the mention of the 'fiercer sex' that appealed to me, and this ties in with one of the reasons I was so opposed to fairy tales: I didn't like how the females were treated as helpless and how they were 'rescued' by princes, and their problems solved by fairies, birds or fairy godmothers. A philosophy that is terribly misleading and something that isn't true of many of the original fairy tales at all- we learn that the characters are deserving of their great rewards for all their help, be that with saving the life of the prince, something that isn't ever emphasised as much in the Disney versions most of us have grown used to, or their families, or being so charmingly clumsy and unintentionally saving the day. Therefore, this  collection of stories teaches the value of hard work, persistence and dedication, and how these help you in life as opposed to sitting around waiting for a nearby fairy to help you out of whatever tiffle you've gotten yourself in.

I received this audio book through Audiobook Boom.

Prepare to be deceived

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

Reviewed: 05-02-17

This book, while it wasn't as good as the first of the series, was incredible in its huge build-up of suspense. I didn't know what to think, and the ending was shocking. No better word for it.

It was a strange tale, two sisters brought up in a poor environment. Family killed, only the two sisters survive. All evidence points to Lena, the worst of the two. So, Rebecca, along with Brian (the lawyer from the first book), help the court and the jury see her innocence. A difficult task when Lena has such a terrible memory of the event.

It was strange in the sense that it was dark, eerie at parts, yet at other times this darkness was subdued giving way to a lighthearted, deceptive sense of calm. I was glad to find Brian in this book, he being my favourite from the first of this series. Though, I would say that this book can be read as a standalone, but I do recommend you read the first- I found I liked that tale better. I feel it would have been interesting to hear Brian's thoughts regarding Anna's child, or even the father of the child.

I listened to the audio book for this, it was narrated by Michelle Babb. I really liked it, it felt fitting and gave a good feel to the book. The emotion was there, as was the way that even the narration didn't give much away- in terms of the ending.

Both stories are emotional and engaging in their own way. And as with life, you can say, a lot feels unresolved. This also happens to be something true of the first of this series.

I received this book from the narrator, for review consideration.

Blessed Are The Wholly Broken

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-01-17

My review for this book is ridiculously long overdue. The first time I listened to it, I got a little past three chapters. It was too serious for my taste. I liked to think I matured considerably since then, trouble is I kept thinking myself to be 'mature enough', when I actually never was. What I've now realised is that this is the kind of story that has you aging within a couple of hours. If only I had given this book hours back then, instead of minutes! You're probably wondering what finally gave me the motivation to read this book past chapter three- easy: my kindle is running out of storage space, and so I figured archiving (not deleting) an audio book might help somewhat. That, and I really meant to finish it before 2017!

You'd think that I'd be relieved to have finally completely this book, after having developed an "on again-off again relationship" with it. But, I'm incredibly devastated by its end, a surprising revelation even to me.

So officially, I read it from start to finish on Jan 17th, and finished it on Jan 19th 2017.

This is one of those books that toy with your emotions, breaking you down at parts, and just wishing a story like this didn't sound so real. It's a tragic story, incredibly tragic. We meet Anna, Phillip and Bryan: the best of friends. Anna and Phillip are in a romantic relationship which soon goes on to become a blissful marriage. Blissful, that is, until they decide to have children. Anna has around three miscarriages which shatter her completely, she then tries again for another child. Both Anna and Philip are quickly losing hope, but when they come incredibly close to having a child that survives, they lose him too. Phillip decides to have a Vasectomy, to prevent the chances of Anna falling pregnant again. To prevent her grieving all over again.

Years pass, and Anna finds herself pregnant again. This time, she doesn't want the child. She believes herself to be too old to be a mother. Phillip tries to reassure her. We soon learn that Anna has lost herself to her grief. She is almost unrecognisable to her husband, and her family. Will they survive parenthood?

Major plot twist! Did I mention that Phillip kills Anna? That Phillip is on trial, being held accountable for his actions? Don't worry, this is hardly a spoiler: we learn it two chapters in to the story. I can't believe I put such a brilliant, traumatic, book on hold for such a long time. Though I do think I'm better able to deal with and understand such a deeply upsetting story than I was when I first picked this book up.

This is definitely a book you'd want to read in 2017. Or pick up the audio book as I did, it made the story that much more real and it helped me connect to such a sorrowful tale. It was written so extensively, the tiny details within it, good humour, light hearted moments but most of all I loved the book's unpredictability. I never want to forget this book, it's one of those that, as sad as it was, remains a testament to humanity's fragility, compassion and just plain old love. Keep tissues close, the ending was a tearful one. I'm still in agony.

Favourite characters: first Bryan, then Philip. Then, everyone else. Now, the question of whether this book made it to my favourites, to which I happily (I'm sticking to crying on the inside) declare "Yes, definitely!" To assure you of the certainty of my opinion, note that I am writing this review at 1:12 am (on a school day). Don't judge me until you've read the book.

I received this book through Audio book Boom.

My all-time favourite Christmas classic

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

Reviewed: 22-11-16


This book was narrated wonderfully, both stories gave me that fuzzy feeling you get when you remember something good. I was reminded of when I first heard the story, how it signified that we should be good people, that it feels good to be generous and loving and we should try not add to others burdens. It's always around Christmas that people are the happiest, it's a celebration nearly everyone knows of. Streets crowded, Christmas lights adorning houses, Christmas cards being passed around. There's a certain cheer all about the place, a reassuring excitement that buzzes all through the holidays. This is a story I will save for my younger sister during the lead up to Christmas day, as she's never heard it before. And, I just know that I will not be able to resist having a listen to it every Christmas holiday. I have to say, Christmas does bring a sort of sentimentality with it.

I, myself, hadn't revisted the original tale, from the first time I read it for myself. I generally gravitated towards watching the various Hallmark Christmas variations, but nothing will ever surpass the original. There's a lot more to it or perhaps I'm just overcome by the nostalgia. I always thought this was of Charles Dicken's finest work, there is a real sense of feeling as though you know what he was thinking when he wrote it. Yesterday, at a new library I visited of which I was pleased to be offered a rour, the guide, who was perhaps the most eccentric and, humourous woman I've ever met, claimed that she believed that books are our current means of time travel. She spoke of how reading someone's diary can take you to that moment, transporting you there, you can see the events occurring for yourself. It was a pleasant idea, and I certainly felt it with this book.


The commentary from Alison Larkin was a welcome addition to the tale, and she read 'The Night Before Christmas' better than I've ever heard it. Her soothing, strong voice seriously lifted my dreary mood in seconds.

I recommend this book, the audio book version. And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. It's coming toward the end of November, after all -it's never too early! I've already brought an advent calendar for me and my sister. Can't wait for December.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher through Audio book Boom

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Epic Disaster!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-16

This book will take you on one hell of an adventure! It all begins with an elusive email from a doctor in Botswana. If Tammy Tyree follows his instructions, wiring money through to him, she will attain 5 million dollars (a fortune she supposedly inherited).

Awesome, but we've all encountered this sort of 'scam', pop- up email, at some point or another. But for Tammy this is her first, and she's a gullible young thing: she signs herself up. And as you'd expect, money begins to disappear from her account. To the point that, she can't fulfil all the instructions, she can't pay the doctor for his services in getting her fortune to her. This is when it all spirals out of control: Tammy's secret is out, and all of a sudden her whole town wants to help out. They invest in her fortune, and they invest A LOT. But she has the most to lose, as a struggling waitress holding down four jobs and on the constant search for more, she doesn't have a lot as it is. Then, there's her little brother who's already been subjected to a tough life, because of his autism. Just how will she manage wben faced with an empty account, and no fortune to be found? What a mess! How will she break it to her friends or, rather, investors? Is she herself just a scam artist?

This book was indeed hilarious: the absurdity of Tammy's gullibility was astounding. The ending was a shock. In all honesty, whem I heard the storyline I didn't think this would be quite an engaging story- I figured it would be a depressing story with down on their luck characters. This was not the case, at all. Tammy's gullibility and optimism, against pretty much anything (but not everything) she faced was incredible. All in all, it was written well. You can count on laughing at every strange event or occurrence: for the Tyree clan, trouble is an inevitability you just have to deal with. All they really are is misunderstood. Or perhaps, I'm just a little gullible ;)

I loved the story, it was also excellently narrated. This has to be one of Michelle Babb's best works. I've been listening to this audio book for over a week, I'd have finished it sooner had I had the time. But, with most audio books, the narration detracts from your enjoyment. From all of Michelle's work, I can't recall this being the case. Her voice was fitting, and she did the characters justice, considering just how difficult they must have been.

I received this audio book from the narrator, free of charge, for the purpose of writing an honest review.

A favourite

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

Reviewed: 07-11-16

I placed this book into my favourite collection around six chapters into the story. And my decision remains: I love this story. It was humourous to the point that the embarrassing moments had me pause the book so I could outwardly cringe! How someone can mess up situations so charmingly was beyond hilarious. I recall making the same comment about Isla Fisher's character in 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'..

This story is indeed brilliant, it's what any book should aim to do: make you smile and laugh out loud! The story follows a statistics professor who's life seems to spiral out of control with the emergence of a bald spot, early one morning. This sends her on a mission to score a guy, as quickly as possible. But not just any guy, but someone she can settle down with. I'd say she's halfway there, for one thing she certainly knows what she's looking for. She has a precise shopping-type list. Now, if only she could find someone who would fit the mould.

Accompanying her on this bizarre mission, she has her sister and an unlikely candidate of a strange man- her new Blackjack dealer at her local casino. She makes a habit of heading there, she's good with numbers, far better than with people and it calms her. And, Mack, the new guy, dishes out pretty good advice- he seems to have had a run in with love once, and so becomes Lauren's accomplice in her wild quest of finding love. And, he enjoys her stories and tales of her bad dates...A good friendship develops, but do either of them want more? How will thimgs end up, when Lauren's 'perfect on paper' man walks into her life?

There's so much I've left out, for you have no idea just how weird and charmingly insane Lauren is, you have no idea how Mack is such a good man.....I've left out a lot, to allow you the opportunity to enjoy such a story. In need of some advice? Keep an open mind throughout.

With these sort of books, books of the romance genre, there's always an obvious formula for the beginning, middle and end of the story. For this book though, I really kept an open mind, I didn't even stop to check how much I had left of the story....I just went with the flow, and when it went off trail....it was exciting, the ending came as a surprise.

This story reminds me of a philosophy some men I know follow, it goes like this: 'be mean, to keep 'em keen'. The (what I would call) 'ridiculous notion' that respect and adoration isn't required, that it's too boring, and off- putting. I was pleased to find that there was a man in this book who actually cared for Lauren, respected her and treated her well, and challenged the idea that such a relationship can be boring at all. I hate to think that such men are rare gems. But it certainly made the story more beautiful, a love story with a happily ever after. Ther was good banter between the characters, sexual tension- hinting at the obvious, but repeatedly denied, chemistry. The comedy was genius.

The narrator, Annie Abate, did an incredible job of this book. Her voice kept the book light and fun and she performed the voices really well, very talented! Her voice was fitting for all the characters, particularly Lauren!

I've had a chance to read Eryn Scott's work in the past and, for the longest time I thought nothing could top 'A Chance for Sunny Skies'. But, 'Settling Up' did just that!

I received this book for free through the author, in exchange for an honest review.