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Rachel Brand

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 1
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  • A Simple Spring

  • A Seasons of Lancaster Novel
  • By: Rosalind Lauer
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

Although Sadie King is blessed with the voice of an angel, she never thought that following the song in her heart would take her far beyond the strict boundaries of her Amish faith and away from the only home she’s ever known. But during her rumspringa, one road leads to another and suddenly she’s secretly performing with a band. Now she faces an impossible choice between the music in her heart and the traditions branded upon her soul.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect comfort read (or listen!)

  • By Rachel Brand on 07-04-13

Perfect comfort read (or listen!)

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-13

Loved this! Brilliant series. I find that listening to a book on audio makes it rather hard to write a full review as it took me about a month to get through this book, but Rosalind Lauer's Amish novels are simply the perfect comfort reads (or listens). I get attached to her characters and really care about them. I think my only complaint about this book would be that it didn't have a conventional story arc, and I did wonder at times when the story would get going or what direction it would head in. Very much looking forward to reading the third book in the series! 4.5

  • Summer Island

  • By: Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by: Joyce Bean
  • Length: 10 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

Thirty-four-year-old Ruby Bridge is a not-too-successful comedienne who uses her mother, a nationally-syndicated "moral and spiritual counselor" as the main fodder for her cynical, rather bitter humor. Her mother Nora, long divorced from Ruby's father, is a woman whose past is just about to catch up with her - in the form of blackmail by a former lover.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging women's fiction

  • By Rachel Brand on 23-12-12

Engaging women's fiction

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-12-12

I was going to give this audiobook a rating of 3.5*, but the ending was so sweet and the scene at the 4th of July party nearly made me cry, so I'm rounding it up to a 4*. I didn't find this book quite as good as the previous novel I read from this author (Distant Shores), but perhaps that's just because the book was drawn out over a longer period of time as I didn't have as much time to listen as usual due to moving house and starting a new semester at university. It was definitely an easy listen, even if it wasn't as compelling as Distant Shores. Kristin Hannah can be relied on to produce engaging women's fiction that deals with real-life issues and contains realistic, flawed characters with just a dash of romance.

  • An Unlikely Suitor

  • By: Nancy Moser
  • Narrated by: Antoinette LaVecchia
  • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

Lucy Scarpelli, an Italian dressmaker from New York, befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's making her summer wardrobe. It's an unlikely friendship, but one that Rowena encourages by inviting Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating clothes that hide her physical injury, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Mixed feelings

  • By Rachel Brand on 11-06-12

Mixed feelings

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-06-12

I have entirely mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it had a very slow start and I didn't really get invested in the characters' lives until halfway through the book. On the other, I loved that Nancy decided to write about Italian immigrants and the struggles they had, which is not something I've come across in books from this period. I enjoyed the details about dressmaking and while I wasn't so fussed about the mystery aspect of the book, I loved the conclusion. The plot suddenly got a lot more interested in the last 10% of this book, when the truth about Lucy's beau and Rowena's secret friend was revealed. I didn't expect either of these, and this definitely made me root for their prospective love interests. Sophia was more difficult to like, especially because of her immaturity, but bravo to Nancy for writing a character who wasn't particularly likeable! I liked the way Sophia's storyline ended in the epilogue, not totally happily-ever-after, but with hints of something good to come. But it's a bit unrealistic that all of the main characters ended up with men of a different class, and I'm not entirely sure that Rowena's parents would allow her to make such a lifestyle choice, even with her infirmity. That was another quirk about this novel - I don't often read books in which the heroine is disabled in some way, and I liked how the implications Rowena's infirmity impacted on her life and how she had to over come this. Rowena was probably my favourite character, just because Lucy seemed a bit too perfect at times, almost verging on self-righteous.

The book definitely got more interesting once it relocated to Newport, but this wasn't until halfway through the book, which was when the romance aspect appeared. If it weren't for the twists towards the end of the novel, I think I'd give this 3*, but as I didn't expect the truth about Lucy's beau or the identity of the childhood friend that Rowena was always talking about, I'll give the book 3.5*.

  • Distant Shores

  • By: Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Quigley
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Elizabeth and Jackson Shore married young, raised two daughters, and weathered the storms of youth as they built a future together. But after the children leave home, they quietly drift apart. When Jack accepts a wonderful new job offer, Elizabeth puts her needs aside to follow him across the country. Until the sudden death of her father changes everything.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very thought-provoking

  • By Rachel Brand on 28-02-12

Very thought-provoking

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-02-12

I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved how it showed that you can rediscover who you are deep inside and invigorate your life without giving up your marriage or family. Elizabeth made mistakes in letting her family take over who she was and lost herself in the process, but she was able to reawaken herself without giving up her husband and daughters. My only real difficulty with this book was that Jack and Birdie didn't exactly have a "normal" family life, and while I'm sure many couples go through similar struggles, Jack's job and fame presented a lot of issues that other families wouldn't have to deal with. Plus, I'm really not a sports fan at all, and I found a lot of the aspects of his work to be pretty pretentious. Otherwise, I thought that the book was a very realistic presentation of what can happen to a couple once their children have left home and they realise that they've forgotten why they got married in the first place. I didn't find this at all depressing, as one might expect, since I'm getting married in five months. It didn't make me scared for what might come in twenty years time. Instead, it encouraged me to pursue my hobbies and talents and not let them get pushed aside. I wouldn't ever want to end up like Birdie, married for twenty-four years yet having no idea of who she is. I could see from Jack and Birdie's experiences that it's important to have a balance in marriage and in supporting each other's dreams. A very thought-provoking book. This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and I imagine that it'll stay with me for a while. I'll be reading more from her.

On the narration: The narrator managed to give each character distinct voices without being over-the-top , and I'm not sure how they managed it, but at certain parts of the recording the audio company used affects to make it sound like someone was talking down a telephone line or shouting from a different room. It definitely brought the characters of this novel to life. Highly recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • To Win Her Heart

  • By: Karen Witemeyer
  • Narrated by: Therese Plummer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5

RITA Award nominee Karen Witemeyer is acclaimed for her winning blend of history, humor, and romance. In this heartstirring tale, repentant exconvict Levi Grant comes to Spencer, Texas, in 1887 - hoping to put his past behind him and start out fresh as the town’s new blacksmith. To promote civility, Eden Spencer runs her own lending library, where she discovers Levi’s love of literature. But just as romance begins to bloom, Eden learns of Levi’s prodigal past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant!

  • By Amazon Customer on 12-02-19

Took a while to get started but otherwise great

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-01-12

This book took a while to get started but I ended up loving it! I got so involved with the characters' lives and trials and tribulations and was grinning my head off by the end of the story. If it hadn't been so slow for the story to get going and for the characters to start to overcome their struggles I'd say this book was perfect, but since I did have a few qualms with it I'll give it 4.5 stars.

A note on the narrator: Excellent! The best narrator I've ever had in an audiobook. She gave all of the characters brilliant Southern accents that made the Texas setting truly come alive. Only a couple of the minor characters seemed to have voices that overlapped so overall it was easy to distinguish between who was speaking. The only downside to her reading of the book was that the Scottish character sounded Irish for the entire book, except for one scene where he's injured and not talking properly! But the narrator is American so I'll let her off with the Scottish/Irish accent confusion. If you enjoy Karen Witemyer's novels and are looking to get into audiobooks, definitely try this one. I can't recommend it enough.

  • The Sound of Sleigh Bells

  • By: Cindy Woodsmall
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 5 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people's wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiance.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sweet, enjoyable story

  • By Rachel Brand on 06-01-12

Sweet, enjoyable story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-01-12

I read this after "The Christmas Singing", which actually follows on from this book, but would have to say I prefer this one. It took me a while to get into it, maybe because I started listening to it when I was busy finishing off coursework at the end of the semester and wasn't able to concentrate and appreciate it properly. But by the end of the book I was really enjoying it and had really come to sympathise with Beth. The secret behind her mourning Henry definitely changed my perception of this book, which had previously seemed to be about a girl who had had one failed relationship and didn't want to be hurt again, and turned it into a much deeper, more meaningful story. I'm also impressed with Cindy for tackling such a tough subject amongst the Amish and making readers realise that such things can happen in any community. I also liked the concept of Lizzie, Beth's aunt, setting up Beth and Jonah without them realising it via letters. It was sweet, and it's not often that letters feature in such a way in Amish novels. It made a nice change. Overall, I really did enjoy this story and I'm looking forward to reading "When the Heart Cries" (which has been on my shelf for far too long!) sometime in 2012.

  • Not My Daughter

  • By: Barbara Delinsky
  • Narrated by: Dian Perry
  • Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

A pregnancy pact between three teenaged girls puts their mothers' love to the ultimate test in this explosive new novel from Barbara DelinskyWhen Susan Tate's seventeen-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very Emotional

  • By Samuel W. on 23-07-10

A lot of important questions about responsibility

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-12-11

It has been far too long since I read a Barbara Delinsky novel, and that became ever more clear to me as I listened to this audiobook any chance I got - washing dishes, ironing, walking to and from town, cooking dinner, etc. This was one of those books that really got my emotions riled up, but in a good way. There's a definite difference between stirred up emotions over anger at a character, or anger at the way a character is being treated. In this book's case, it was the second one, and I became increasingly annoyed at the way everyone blamed Susan for her daughter's pregnancy. This book brought u p a lot of important questions about parenting and responsibility, and in particular: at what stage do you stop being accountable for your children's actions? Sometimes, no matter how much you have talked to your child about a certain issue, they'll still ignore your advice and do their own thing.

This was a very compelling novel, probably one of Barbara's best so far. It ranks right up there along with While My Sister Sleeps, Shades of Grace and The Family Tree. I'm so glad I picked this audiobook as it reminded me of how much I enjoy Barbara's family sagas, especially the way that she looks at situations from the view points of all the parties involved and examines how they each cope with the crisis at hand. I almost wish she'd revisit Lily and her friends sometime, once their children are grown up, and see how their friendships have changed over time. I will definitely be making an effort to seek out more books from Barbara and I'm so glad that Not My Daughter rekindled my love for her writing.

  • Plain Paradise

  • Daughters of the Promise, Book 4
  • By: Beth Wiseman
  • Narrated by: Renee Ertl
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Linda - as the couple named the child - is promised to Stephen Ebersol, the bishop's grandson. They plan to marry in the fall. When her birth mother comes to Paradise, Linda is drawn to a world she's never known. Will the direction she's been heading since birth be suddenly derailed, and who will stand by her convictions-mother or daughter?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Simply wonderful

  • By Anne on 11-12-17

Excellent story but not my favourite in the series

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-10-11

I was surprised to find that this was probably my least favourite of Beth Wiseman's novels so far, but still an excellent story! I think this is attributed to how young Linda was, as it made her a bit more difficult to relate to. Sometimes she could be quite immature, which didn't settle well with the fact she was constantly thinking about getting married to Stephen, and made me wonder whether she was really old enough to be a wife and mother. I loved reading about Josie and Mary Ellen reconciling their differences, even if this was only a small part of the novel. A lot of the novel focused on Josie's spiritual journey, and readers of my reviews will know that conversion plots aren't exactly a favourite of mine, but Josie's was interesting to read. I loved that Beth displayed how powerful prayer and healing can be, topics which can sometimes be a bit taboo among certain Christian circles. God still heals, even in the twenty-first century, and even among the Amish! So although I didn't always relate to Linda due to her youth, I did thoroughly enjoy this novel and will be looking out for the opportunity to read the final book in the series. 8/10