readingismysuperpower

Miranda Warning – An Audiobook Review

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert FREE Kindle book and $2 Audible audiobook!I just finished reading Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains – Book One) by Heather Day Gilbert. I thought it would be a straightforward mystery, but it turned out to be a multi-faceted introduction to what I expect will be a long series.

NOTE – This kindle book is FREE on Amazon right now, and when you buy it (for FREE), you can get the audible version for $1.99.  I highly recommend it, and I think you will want to follow up with the next in the series, “Trial by Twelve.”

The author has created a refreshingly original world. I wouldn’t classify the book as “Christian Fiction.” Instead, Ms. Gilbert writes from a Christian worldview, and her setting includes a realistic mix of Christians and nonbelievers in community. None of them are perfect, and they live naturally according to their convictions. The heroine is a unique character. She bears some scars from a dysfunctional childhood, but she went to college, married into a healthy family and doesn’t wallow in angst. As a mother-in-law, I was pleased to see the loving relationship between Tess and Nikki Jo. The politically conservative characters are portrayed as intelligent and sensible instead of rednecks or greedy industrialists. They have guns but aren’t violent. A young boy is allowed to be an ordinary young boy who enjoys his family. An older woman is sometimes lucid and sometimes vague. Tess’s husband, Thomas, is allowed to be grouchy and jealous sometimes without being a bully. He is macho and vulnerable. She is vulnerable, too, but also willful and sometimes intrepid. And she doesn’t hide (too many) things from her husband; she can be foolhardy and she has common sense. On these and several other points, Ms. Gilbert succeeds in breaking free of stereotypes. Refreshing!

There were some inconsistencies that struck me as jarring: Miranda initiated the whole mystery and then became disinterested. The doctor was too accommodating, too fast. Why didn’t Tess have a concealed carry permit? Axel provided insight to Thomas’s character and feelings for Tess, but he seemed extraneous otherwise. He felt like a subplot that never developed, and then he left the country to tie up the loose end. Rosemary’s actions were odd. The friendship with Charlotte happened too quickly and conveniently. The ending felt rushed. And yet, it was still an engrossing story. I wonder if the book was originally much longer and then cut back to meet modern publishing standards.

The author’s creativity and skill were displayed in the two parallel story lines that linked all of the characters. Rose’s story unfolded slowly, changing our perceptions of each character with every installment. THAT was superbly written.

Trial by Twelve - by Heather Day Gilbert

 

Trial by Twelve, the second book in this series, features the same characters two years later and is more of a murder mystery than this one. I look forward to reading it soon!

 

 

 

I had purchased Miranda Warning in kindle form and was already reading it when the author approached me with an offer of a free audiobook in exchange for an honest review.  It was nice to have both formats. The reader did a very good job, but of the two formats, I preferred the text book.  The first-person, present tense style sounds a little dreamy and “stream of consciousness” when it’s read aloud.

There are quite a few female characters in the book, and the reader was consistent and distinct in each voice. She had to create separate young and old voices for three of the characters, since there are separate timeline passages, and she did great with that. She also did the child’s voice quite well. The Appalachian dialect was just right – not overdone. 

This kindle book is FREE right now on Amazon, and the Miranda Warning audiobook is only $1.99.  That’s $2 for 8 1/2 hours of entertainment!!

readingismysuperpower

Bite Size Book Reviews

I’m not feeling romantic this week. When I am stressed, instead of reaching for something lighthearted, I usually pick up a mystery or (slightly)romantic suspense novel. We moved two weeks ago, unexpectedly, and I listened to audiobooks while I worked on packing and cleaning.  When in Rome is an old favorite, and I always enjoy Kristen Heitzmann, but the others were new to me.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris is a FREE KINDLE BOOK! (Price may change without notice, but it’s free right now!)

We are starting to settle into our new home – did I mention that it is an apartment in a Tudor castle? – but I’m still not ready to snuggle up with a romance. Expect more murder and violence next week…

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh - Classic Detective Fiction, reviewed by Cathe SwansonWhen in Rome, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Retro Read! This classic detective story from 1969 is an old favorite. Ms. Marsh writes so clearly that the reader experiences the story more like a movie than a book. She researched Rome, its history and its legal system for this tale of blackmail and drug smuggling. Her characters are varied, each drawn with realistic attitudes and behaviors, and each has his or her own motive for murder.

 

 

 

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris - FREE kindle book as of 4/14/2016

 

~ FREE KINDLE BOOK ~

Dangerous Passage, kindle book by Lisa Harris

This book was different in that the romantic relationship is already in place at the start of the story, and the hero is a medical examiner, which places him in the criminal investigation field without having him be a police officer. The complexities of the heroine’s family life added depth to this story of human trafficking. The author has set the stage for a series, and I look forward to reading the others.

 

 

The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann

 

The Edge of Recall, audiobook by Kristen Heitzmann, read by Katherine Kellgrenn

Kristen Heitzmann writes complex stories, and this is no exception. The heroine is still living with unresolved trauma, which makes her a bit frustrating, but the hero and his sidekick are enjoyable. The plot is – as always in Ms. Heitzmann’s books – original and well-researched. I learned a lot about labyrinths! The ending seemed rushed and too “pat” for such a rich story.

 

 

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

 

The Patmos Deception, audiobook by Davis Bunn, read by Rich Orlow

Good writing, great setting, unique characters, cultural and political authenticity, intriguing history… that made up for the fact that the plot was a little confusing and the ending was not quite an ending. I wondered if Bunn might be setting us up for a sequel. More suspense than romance – just the way I like my books.  I do recommend it.

 

 

and now for something completely different…

Opening Moves by Steven JamesOpening Moves, audiobook by Steven James, read by Richard Ferrone

I picked this one up because my library had it listed as Christian fiction and it’s the prequel to a long suspense/thriller series. I am always looking for new authors and series.  It freaked me out. Cannibalism, torture, mutilation, violence – with descriptions of the emotions experienced by the villain and the victim as they happened.  I regret reading it. BUT – I understand the rest of the series isn’t as gruesome. The author has good writing skills, so if you enjoy this genre, give it a shot. It’s not Christian fiction, but there was very little to object to (aside from the brutality, sadism, etc.)

 

 

 

readingismysuperpower

Bite-size Book Reviews

With the exception of Susan Baganz’s “Pesto and Potholes” – so suitable for the start of the Green Bay Packers season! – it’s all audiobook reviews this week. I get a lot of housework and sewing and quilting done while I listen to audiobooks!

 

Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz

Pesto and Potholes, paperback by Susan M. Baganz

This is a delightful, gentle romance sprinkled with silliness.  The heroine is recovering from serious physical and emotional trauma, trying to restart life in a new city. She connects with the hero and friends at her new church and starts to heal, but she experiences setbacks and has to recover, a little stronger each time.  I was especially impressed by the realistic community. The friends and families of the main characters interact naturally under various circumstances, including the potentially-problematic operation of a family business. Ms. Baganz writes in a pleasant rhythm, pacing the story well.

 

Poseidon's Arrow by Clive and Dirk Cussler - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

 

Poseidon’s Arrow, audiobook by Clive and Dirk Cussler, read by Scott Brick

I’m starting to worry about Dirk Pitt. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s still out there saving the world. This is an interesting and creative story featuring the rare earth minerals, Chinese villains, and an amazing piece of technology that only needs one more thing to make it work. Will Dirk and his children find it before the bad guys?

 

 

 

 

Organized Grime by Christy Barritt - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Organized Grime, audiobook by Christy Barritt, read by Angela Goethals

This is the third in the Squeaky Clean Mysteries. The heroine is a crime scene cleaner with aspirations to a career in criminal forensics. She is a new Christian, and Ms. Barritt does a good job of portraying the changes in her emotional life and relationships. The hero is a sensible man with a generous heart. His unexpected involvement in the plot was a neat touch. This humorous story has many layers and a complex plot that kept me guessing until the very satisfying end.

 

 

 

Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Seagrass Pier, audiobook by Colleen Coble, read by Devon O’Day

This book has an unusual heroine – a recent heart transplant patient who is having flashbacks, “remembering” the experiences and emotions of the murdered donor. I was wondering how those spiritual issues would fit into a Christian novel, but Ms. Coble handled it well. The woman’s family and support network are all interesting characters who contribute to the story as a whole; her mother’s early-onset dementia is a poignant undercurrent through the plot. I was concerned for the four-year-old child… her father dies, her mother has a heart transplant and her grandmother has severe dementia. Then the hero (a stranger) recognizes the child and demands to be given time alone with her. Poor kid. Otherwise, it was a very satisfactory and complex story. One of the author’s best!

 

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh - audiobook reviews by Cathe SwansonLast Ditch, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Another classic detective novel from one of the Golden Age masters. This book is set later than the others; the protagonist is Alleyn’s son, Ricky. He becomes involved with a colorful family and the ensuing police investigation when one of them is killed. Dad shows up to solve the case and save Ricky from certain death.  As always, Ms. Marsh’s settings and characters are portrayed vividly.

 

 

Look for more audiobook reviews as summer approaches and I listen while I garden!

Disclosure:   I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

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readingismysuperpower

Love Comes Calling – A Book to Chew On

I chose that catchy title because I normally write bite-size book reviews, and I have a little more to say about this one.  A few days ago, I needed a pleasant story – nothing too thought-provoking – to listen to while I did some sewing.  Siri Mitchell’s book Love Comes Calling looked perfect.

And I loved it. Just loved it.

Love Comes Calling

I didn’t need the author’s note at the end to tell me that the heroine had ADHD. Any mother or teacher (and many adults who don’t even have children) recognized it on page one. When I read the Amazon reviews later, I was surprised to see that not everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. They found the heroine: confusing, annoying, immature, flighty, scatterbrained, selfish, insecure, irresponsible, repetitive, foolish and impulsive. Well, then…  the author did a fabulous job of creating an authentic heroine.  That is exactly how such a girl would feel and appear to others.

Some reviewers found the stream-of-thought style confusing because the heroine’s thoughts were so random and jumpy, and I think it is likely that her personality is better captured in the audiobook than in the written format. The reader, Morgan Hallett, is good. She perfectly captured all of the characters, and most especially the heroine.

The story is set in prohibition-era Boston, among wealthy families and working girls. It  The settings and situations were all very interesting, from the work environment at the telephone company to Ellis’s attempts to create a seating plan for an important dinner.

The heroine had flaws – ordinary, human flaws unrelated to her ADHD – that I could identify with. She believed that she was an embarrassment to her family, but in spite of that (or perhaps because of it), she believed that she was responsible for fixing everything. She tried.  She failed sometimes, but usually she muddled through.  She set up a vague ambition and thought it was her destiny, but she continually set it aside and lived in the moment. Her heart wasn’t in it – she just felt like she ought to have a dream.

Her good intentions make her likeable. The fact that the hero likes her just as she is makes him likeable, too. The girls at the telephone company were fun secondary characters, with more personality than one might expect for their situation. The only character I didn’t particularly care for was the policeman, but he was necessary to the plot.

When I downloaded it, I was under the impression it was Christian fiction. There is nothing offensive in it, but I would not categorize it that way.

 

readingismysuperpower

Bite-size Book Reviews

These were all new, first-time reads for me, from some of my favorite authors. It was a nice variety of styles and time periods.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Random Acts of Murder by Christy BarrittRandom Acts of Murder, audiobook by Christy Barritt, read by Sandy Rustin

This book is the first in a new series. The heroine is appealing, with her good intentions, insecurities and quirky personality.  She fled the scene of a murder and now she’s being framed for it. The hero is an old high school classmate, all grown up and in charge of the murder investigation.  Ms. Barritt does a good job of pacing the mystery and concealing the identity of the killer.  I would have liked to see more about the heroine’s spiritual and physical conditions, but it is a light-hearted story with lots of other action.  The supporting characters seem interesting; I hope they are developed further in the rest of the series.

 

Snow on the Tulips by Liz TolsmaSnow on the Tulips, audiobook by Liz Tolsma, read by Susan Denaker

Ms. Tolsma has created a vivid portrait of a small Dutch village and its residents near the end of WWII. This is an intense, suspenseful story as much as a romance. The aggression of the Nazi troops was frightening and sad.  A fascinating theme was the relationships of the two sisters near the end of the story. They were both scared and heartbroken, begging their men to not leave them. One man would not fight or resist the enemy, and the other was active in the resistance movement.  The plights of the women, however, were the same.

 

 

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie PetersonA Lady of High Regard, audiobook by Tracie Peterson, read by Barbara Caruso

I liked the natural, dynamic family relationships in this book, and I found the heroine’s balanced behaviors refreshing. In spite of her belief that she was the only one who could save the world, she didn’t always rush headlong into dangers; sometimes she made a decision to be obedient and sensible. I would have liked to see the women from the docks portrayed with a little more intelligence and energy.  The story was a little slow at first, but it picked up momentum and the ending was exciting.

 

 

Buried Secrets by Irene HannonBuried Secrets, audiobook by Irene Hannon, read by Therese Plummer and Jennifer Grace

This is the first in Ms. Hannon’s new Men of Valor series. The romantic relationship is different in that almost as soon as they meet, the hero and heroine admit their attraction to each other and make it clear that they are not interested in a casual dating relationships. They can not become involved while they are working on the mystery, so they agree to wait to start seeing each other until the case is solved. It’s a nice twist on romantic suspense. The villain of the story, who is revealed almost immediately, is very villainous, creative and careful. The plot is revealed steadily. The ending, when the villain attacks the heroine, feels a little contrived, but otherwise it’s a solid story from one of my favorite authors.

 

A Matter of Character by Robin Lee HatcherA Matter of Character, audiobook by Robin Lee Hatcher, read by Kathy Garver

I read and enjoyed the first two books in this series – fluffy fun stuff – and picked up this one to finish the trilogy.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was excellent! The characters were solid – much more complex than in the previous two books. There were so many interesting layers to the plot and such conflicting goals that it was hard to imagine a happy ending, but of course all the loose threads were gathered up nicely and tied in a bow.

 

 

readingismysuperpower

Bite Size Book Reviews

 

I listened to audiobooks this week while I worked on a number of household, quilting, sewing, and crafting projects. These are some of my favorite contemporary writers of Christian fiction in a variety of genres, and they were all first-time reads.

 

No One to Trust, audiobook by Lynette Eason

I always watch my library for Ms. Eason’s new books. Her plotting is exceptionally tight.  This one does have a good storyline, but the characters were not her best. I wanted to slap the heroine and shake the hero. She never stopped harping on the fact that he had lied to her, even when the reason was clearly and repeatedly justified. I would have liked him better if he was just a little assertive.  That said, the plot, action and mystery were good.  The resolution was creepy.

 

 

 

Nothing but TroubleNothing but Trouble, audiobook by Susan May Warren

A fun summer read, but don’t underestimate it. The mystery is solid. The family characters and their relationships are enjoyable. The history between the first hero and the heroine creates a sensitive tension that gives them depth but doesn’t overshadow the lightheartedness of the book. I found the second hero kind of lightweight, and I’d already developed a sentimental attachment to the first.

 

 

 

 

Protection for Hire Protection for Hire, audiobook by Camy Tang

This is the first book I have read by this author. It was especially interesting because of the Japanese-American heroine and culture. All of the characters are well-drawn. I was impressed by Ms. Tang’s skill in balancing the  complexities of the heroine’s history and relationships  with the action of the story.

 

 

 

 

 

sabotagedSabotaged, audiobook by Dani Pettrey

I started this book with the knowledge that it is the last in the series.  The love story was okay – not as interesting as in the other books – but the rest of it was excellent! Action, suspense, mystery, adventure, great characters, satisfactory conclusion. Good spiritual content.  I look forward to her new series.

 

 

 

 

 

vote of confidenceVote of Confidence , audiobook by Robin Lee Hatcher

Lighthearted historical western romance. The characters and plot were fun. The feminism was the good kind – practical and with a positive result, without militant drama or whining.  I look forward to the sequel.

 

DISCOUNTED PRICE! (subject to change, but as of May 9, this kindle book is only $1.99 at Amazon)