Monday, April 21, 2014

Holy Orders by Benjamin Black

This review was published in the April 17, 2014 Xpress Reviews of the Library Journal website. 

Black, Benjamin. Holy Orders. 8 CDs. Unabridged. 9 hours 30 minutes. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427231673 $39.99.
Holy Orders is the 6th book of the Quirke novels. Jimmy Minor, a reporter for the local paper, is found dead in the canal, beaten and horribly mutilated. Jimmy was always a private guy, who would want him dead? Was it because of who he fancied or was it the church covering up something he was working on? It’s up to medical examiner Quirke and Inspector Hackett to solve the case. Author Benjamin Black, which is the pseudonym for John Banville, fails to create the gripping thriller that he was aiming for. He attempts to develop his characters but bogs us down with so many pointless details that the listener only knows that someone died and that there are a bunch of characters that they don’t care about.  
Narrator John Keating tries his best to give the story life and emotion, but due to the story jumping points of view so many times by the second disc you can’t recall what voice belongs to whom.
Not recommended, fans of mysteries and thrillers would be disappointed.
Jessi Brown. Huntington City-Township Pub. Lib., Huntington, Indiana. 

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

This review was published in the February 15, 2014 issue of Library Journal.

Seamon, Hollis. Somebody Up There Hates You. 6 CDs (6 hours 15 minutes). High Bridge. 2013. 9781622312108. $26.95

Seamon’s debut young adult novel is a mixture of heart wrenching sadness with some humor thrown in. The story is told from the viewpoint of Richie, a 17 year old boy living in a hospice unit. Richie along with his partner in hospice crime 15 year old Sylvi, is determined to make sure he lives whatever days he has left to the fullest, whether it is breaking out Halloween night with his uncle or being propositioned by Marie Antoinette. Seamon’s detail to the hospice unit is spot on from the showers to the family lounge area. Narrator Noah Galvin, who has narrated other novels such as Perks of Being a Wallflower and Punished, does an amazing job of voicing Richie.
Older young adults who enjoy reading books about dying teenagers will want to give this book a try.
Jessi Brown, Huntington City-Township Public Library. Huntington, Indiana.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Tao of Martha: my year of living or why I'm never getting all that glitter off of the dog by Jen Lancaster

The following review I wrote was published in the September 15th, 2013 Issue of the Library Journal.

Lancaster, Jen. The Tao of Martha: my year of living or why I'm never getting all that glitter off the dog. 7 CDs (8 hours 57 minutes). Dreamscape Media. 2013. 9781624065316

In Lancaster's newest book, she takes on the essence of Martha Stewart. Taking the things in life that are not that glamorous, organizing pantries, spice cabinets, planning holiday parties such as Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and much much more she tries to plan and execute in a way that would make Martha approve. Whenever she comes across an obstacle, she asks herself, what would Martha do? Even though this is Lancaster's 9th book, she is still rolling out fresh and original work, while keeping with her humor and wit. Narrated by Jen herself, she was able to get across the exact inflection and emotion that was used when she wrote the book.
This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys a good humorous memoir about self discovery/improvement.
Jessi Brown, Huntington City-Township Public Library. Huntington, Indiana.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SYLO by D.J. MacHale

The following review I wrote was published in the November 22nd Xpress Reviews of the Library Journal, and was a starred review. 

MacHale, D.J. SYLO. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068546 $59.99; digital download. F

First, freshman Tucker Pierce watches the star of his football team drop dead with no explanation. Then he witnesses an unexplained explosion followed by a stranger trying to promote an “athletic supplement” that gives those who take it superhuman speed and strength. The next thing he knows his home is being invaded by SYLO, a secret branch of the military, and quarantined for a lethal “virus.” The longer the quarantine goes on, the more Tucker and his friends start to believe that SYLO might be lying. MacHale, author of the popular “Pendragon” titles, here launches another thrilling series. With constant action, this book will have listeners trying to decipher the good guys from the bad guys to the very end. Andrew Bates does an amazing job of narrating the fear, anguish, and terror that the residents of Pemberwick Island feel.
Verdict Recommended for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller. Fans of Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series might want to try this YA novel with crossover appeal.—Jessi Brown, Huntington City Twp. P.L., IN

Dad or Alive by Adrian Kulp

The following review I wrote was published in the December 20th Xpress Reviews of the Library Journal. 

Kulp, Adrian. Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad. 4 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 5 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614229. $34.99; 1 MP3-CD/4 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR

Blogger Kulp ( takes listeners into the life and mind of a first-time dad. Kulp explores the struggles of turning the man cave into his daughter’s room, navigating his pregnant wife’s hormonal roller coaster, and shifting gears from executive to stay-at-home father. Many parents will relate to the issues of strangers mistaking their children’s gender, having to change the baby in the car because a changing table cannot be found for miles, and everyone wanting to put their germy hands on the infant. Kulp provides his own capable narration.

Verdict Recommend to fans of humorous parenting memoirs.—Jessi Brown, Huntington City Twp. P.L., IN

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Forbidden Sister by V.C. Andrews

The following review I wrote was published in the July 5th Express Reviews of the Library Journal. 

Andrews, V.C. Forbidden Sister. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624064890. $59.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F

All Emmie Wilcox has ever wanted was to know her older sister, Roxy, but it is hard to get to know someone who was been thrown out of the house by their parents years ago, especially when the mere mention of Roxy’s name is considered worse than swearing. So Emmie decides to find her sister and learn whatever it is her parents refuse to tell her. When Emmie finally finds what she is seeking, her world is turned upside down. This is your typical Andrews (Flowers in the Attic) novel: the focus is on a young girl, with lots of tragedy. Narrator Amy Rubinate does an excellent job voicing Emmie’s insecure, breathy whispers, her mother’s French accent, and Roxy’s confident tones.
Verdict Listeners who enjoy family drama, transparent plots, and teenage angst will enjoy this book. [The Pocket: S. & S. pb was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Private London

 The following review I wrote was published in the April 26th Express Reviews of the Library Journal.

Patterson, James & Mark Pearson. Private London. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611130232. $24.98; Playaway digital; digital download.

Here Patterson and Pearson (Private Games) follow the story of Dan Carter, head of renowned investigation firm Private London, and Hannah Shapiro, a student with a horrific past. The police and Private are investigating a case that involves kidnappings, murder, and mutilation. Can it be Hannah’s past coming back to get her? Rupert Degas does a spot-on job voicing English, American, and Scottish characters.
Verdict It goes without saying that Patterson fans will enjoy this book, but readers who enjoy thrillers with a twist will want to give it a try as well. [The Grand Central hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]

Call the Midwife

The following review I wrote was published in the April 2013 issue of Library Journal.

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

This memoir, the inspiration for BBC's popular series of the same name, chronicles Worth's experiences as a midwife in London during the 1950s. The story, enhanced by amazingly vivid imagery, brings to life the horror of the living conditions in the slums of the London's Docklands, the sadness of mothers who have lost their babies, and the joy of first- or 24th-time mothers as they meet their children. Narrator Nicola Barber, winner of two Earphone Awards, does an excellent job of portraying both seasoned and inexperienced midwives as well as the wide variety of British accents. VERDICT Fans of the BBC series will enjoy this audiobook, as will anyone interested in the history of midwifery. [The Penguin hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—

Monday, February 4, 2013

Heaven's War by David Goyer and Michael Cassutt

The following review I wrote was published in the December 2012 issue of Library Journal. 

Goyer, David S. & Cassutt, Michael. Heaven’s War. 12 CDS. Unabridged. 14 ½ hours. Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 9780307934482. $50.00

Goyer and Casseutt’s book Heaven’s War is the second book in the Heaven Shadow series.  Starting where the last book left off, two groups of scientists on opposite sides of the world are abducted and transported to Keanu. They must figure out how to survive on this alien habitat, discover why they were brought there, and why friends who were dead on Earth are suddenly on Keanu alive. Set in the not too distant future, this story has all the elements of a hard science fiction story. Narrator Joe J. Thomas does a wonderful job portraying a variety of characters from gravely voiced Harley Drake to smooth talker Dale Scott to Russian linguist Valya Makarova and many more. Recommended for fans of space science fiction.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

The following review that I wrote was published in the June 2012 edition of Library Journal.....

Wyndham, John. The Kraken Wakes. 7 CDS. Unabridged. 9 Hours. CSA World. 2010. ISBN: 9781906147754. $29.95.

In Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes (Previously published under the title Out of the Deeps), English journalist for the EBC--- not the BBC, Mike Watson writes an account of events that he and his wife Phyllis witnessed. Starting on their honeymoon with what was described as fireballs falling from the sky and leading to the attacks of “sea tanks” and the unusually fast melting of icebergs. Not your typical science fiction story, the aliens are no longer confined to taking over from Outer Space. The story was cut up in three phases which moved the plot along wonderfully, however there was not much character development. British narrator Alex Jennings shows animation playing multiple people very well including men, women, English, Russian, and French characters. Fans of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds will enjoy this story.