Monthly Archives: June 2012

Review – A Book of Tongues – Gemma Files

A Book of Tongues
Author: Gemma Files
Narrator: Gordon Mackenzie
Length: 10 hours 58 minutes

Review Copy provided by audiobook producer as part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer program

Book Description:
Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West’s most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by “Reverend” Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned “hexslinger,” and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow’s task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook’s power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.

Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook’s witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow’s only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess’s fate comes clear-the doom written for him, and the entire world.

It was like book serendipity when this book showed up as a review copy on AudiobookJukebox. The previous weekend, I had been at a get-together for one of my Goodreads groups and one of the people there was talking about this book and how she highly recommended it. I went ahead and bought it on my kindle and then as I was browing audiobook jukebox, I saw it up for review and thought what the heck, why not ask for a copy and see what happens.

The premise of the book itself was intriguing, the historical setting with the use of Pinkerton agents, mixed in with hex-slingers so the magical aspect and then the GLBT factor of the 2 main characters made for some entertaining listening. I have to say in all my time of listening to audiobooks, this is the first time that I have actually listened to anything featuring m/m romance and I’m pretty sure that my face was probably an interesting shade of red at some points during the listening.

The use of a character who had previously been a reverend and his use of biblical passages scattered through-out provided an interesting theme, and you could tell that the author had done her research and had picked what appeared to be appropriate passages for various phases of the book. However, towards the end, my mind was starting to wander and it felt like overall, some editing and maybe paring down of the book would have been good – even if it had only been a few pages to tighten up the storyline.

This was also the first time that I had ever listened to Gordon McKenzie narrated and I actually went into his narration cold. I tried looking on my normal sources for audiobooks to see if I could get a voice sample, but apparently on that day my computer just decided to not like me and wouldn’t let me do a preview. But I don’t regret it for a minute. I really enjoyed his narration and felt that I could easily identify all the various characters that appeared through-out. I loved the voice of Jess that he came up with and he was probably the most entertaining voice of all of them. I will definately be on the look-out for more books narrated by him in the future.

The production, done by Iambik Audio, was also high quality and I have no complaints about the product received. It was nice to see that the product was easy to download and nicely priced. I’m looking forward to getting the next books in the trilogy.


Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Book Review


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Audiobooks – Read first, then listen, or Listen only?

One of the things that has interested me in the past is how do people pick audiobooks that they listen to. Do they pick a favorite book and then listen to it? Or do they listen to a book without reading it first?

For me, I rarely listen to a book that I have read first. The one exception would be the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by the awesome Davina Porter.

I have tried to listen to other books I have previously read in the past, but unfortunately, none of the narrators have lived up to the voices that I had in my head for how the characters should sound. One particular example for me is the narration of Lisa Kleypas Hathaway series. I loved her Wallflower series, and at the time I tried to listen to the audiobook for the first book in the series, I had loved the Hathaway books. I managed to pick up book 1 at an audible sale (4.95 for various first in series books) and was excited to listen, but the voice of Cam (this rouge-ish Gypsy) just didn’t do it for me – he sounded too much like an uptight British toff…since then, I don’t think I have ever tried to listen to a book that I had previously read.

What about you guys? Do you often listen to books you have previously read?

Comment here for a chance to win an audiobook. Commenting will be open until the 25th. Re-tweet this post, link on your facebook etc and I’ll throw your name into the drawing multiple times 😉


Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Musings


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Review – I am Forbidden – Anouk Markovits

I am Forbidden
Author: Anouk Markovits

Book Description:
A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore.

Aside from reading some Chaim Potok back in high school, as well as Night by Eli Weisel, I have really not read a lot of fiction books in the past where religion, and specifically Judaism, play a huge role. However, after seeing I am Forbidden show up as a highlighted book on goodreads, as well as on another website, I was intrigued enough to pick it up.

Words can’t really describe how much I enjoyed the book, as well as how much I learnt from it. While I had heard of the Hasidic sect of Judaism before, I had never heard of the Satmar’s which is a movement within the Hasidic branch. The majority of Satmar jews come from the Hungarian/Romanian part of the world and many were Holocaust survivors. The book itself, started off in Romania during World War 2, followed the Stern family to Paris where the majority of Mila’s (one of the Stern daughters) takes place and then travels to Williamsburg (in New York, not Virginia, like I was expecting), when Mila Stern marries Josef. There was so much detail about life in a Satmar household, that a simple book review cannot cover it all. From the preparations that a woman goes though when she gets her period, traditions governing wedding night protocal and so many other glimpses into the daily life.

It came of no surprise to me, when I read the brief bio of the author on the dust-cover of the book, that she grew up in a Satmar household and then left when she was 19. As a reader, following this discovery, I had to wonder if she had modelled any of the characters on her family, whether Atara (Mila’s sister) was supposed to represent her in some form. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism as a whole, as well as the various movements within. As well as anyone that is looking for an intriguing family saga that encompasses over 50 years of living and multiple generations. The writing style is easy to get sucked into and I had a hard time putting it down.

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Book Review


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Review – Perfect Chemistry – Simone Elkeles

Book: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Narrators: Roxanne Hernandez and Blas Kisic
Listening Time: 9 hrs, 45 minutes

Book Description:
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created ‘perfect’ life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.
Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

I’ll be a dork and admit that I love Shakespeare, in fact, I took an English class in college as an elective that was the first of two semester classes just about his various plays. While Romeo and Juliet is not a favorite of mine, I do enjoy it, especially for the forbidden love angle. In Perfect Chemistry, Ms Elkeles takes this take of star-crossed lovers and sets it in modern-day Chicago. I will have to admit I had been recommended this book many times over the last few months (after I started reading a lot more YA) but I kept putting it off and I don’t know why. Maybe because I was afraid of being disappointed since it had been so hyped up…but when I did decide to read (or in this case, listen), I wasn’t disappointed.

The main characters of Brittany and Alex were well-developed and I felt that through-out the book, I not only got to know them, but also see them grow and change as people (yes, I know that probably sounds a bit weird). The supporting characters of Paco (Alex’s friend), his brothers (who get their own books later on), as well as Brittany’s sister provided an interesting depth and development. Without them, I don’t know if the book would have been that good.

My recommendation for the audiobook came from a goodreads friend of mine and since I trust her recommendations (she hasn’t steered me wrong yet), I decided to go with that option. One of the things I did like about the book was that it was told in an alternating POV with each chapter dedicated to either Alex or Brittany, and the audiobook was the same. Roxanne did a great job as Brittany, I could see her in my head as I was listening to her narration. At first, however, I wasn’t so sure about Blas narration of Alex, he seemed almost too old for the teenager that Alex was supposed to be, but his voice grew on it. Especially as Alex’s background revealed itself and you realized that he had been forced to grow up too soon. I’m also not a spanish speaker, so I can’t really comment on the authenticity of the language used or how it is supposed to sound, but to my untrained ear it sounded good.

I’ll definately be reading more by this author in the future, especially the books about Alex’s brothers.

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Book Review


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Review – Night Road – Kristin Hannah

Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah

Book Description:
For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.
To hold on…
To let go..
To forget…
To forgive…
Which road will you take?

For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows—her twins, Mia and Zach—are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy– until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.

This is a hard review for me to write because I love Kristin Hannah’s books and while I did give it 4 stars, I had some serious issues with a few of the characters in it. Anyone who has read Ms Hannah’s books before, knows that she takes a family type issue and expounds on it in a way to everyone can try to relate to, however, unlike other authors who write similar stuff, she does provide a concrete ending to the situation and doesn’t leave the reader hanging. In the case of Night Road, she takes teenage drinking, teen pregnancy and consequences of those respective actions and ties it up on a well-written book.

Personally, my issues with it stem from the character of Jude, the mother. Through-out the book, in the lead-up the the tragedy (which at least I saw coming), she is portrayed as being this mother who some would call (and even I would), a helicopter mother. Always hanging around her kids, making sure that they have everything that they need – which in itself is good, however, there is a point when it almost becomes too much and for me she reached that point when she was still acting this way when her kids were seniors in high school and about to head out into the world on their own. However, it wasn’t only that that pissed me off about her character, it was her actions in specific part of the book and what appeared to be her inability to take responsibility for the role that she played in the outcome.

She had always told her children (Mia and Zach) that they could always call her no matter what and she would come to pick them up from wherever they were no questions asked. The one time that they did get drunk and doing the right thing called her like she asked, they were punished for their behavior. Now, I know that they weren’t innocent in the situation, but at their age, doing what she did, was just asking them to not repeat the action (calling her) in the future and while ultimately playing a major contributing role to the tragedy.

I still can’t figure out, however, if her actions following the tragedy were due in part of her denial of her role in it, or her consuming guilt over what happened. I want to say the former, but looking back now (it has been several months since I read this), I’m leaning towards the latter.

Someone on posted a discussion question asking if this book would be appropriate for high school students. My resounding answer is yes.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Book Review


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Review – The Schoolmaster’s Daughter – John Smolens

The Schoolmaster’s Daughter
Author: John Smolens
Narrator: Elisabeth S. Rodgers
Length: 13 hours 5 minutes

Having not grown up in the US, I never really got the opportunity to study the American Revoluation like most high school students. In fact, until I took a class on it in college, I hardly knew anything about it. I mean, I recognized the name Paul Revere, and knew some of the major political players, but that was it. However, when my ship pulled into Boston for the 4th of July a few years ago, I got to do the geeky historical thing and go and see all the key sites of events that occurred during the initial stages of the American Revolution. So knowing all this, when I started The Schoolmaster’s Daughter, I had a good idea of the key events as they occurred.

I felt that the author did a good job of exploring the various dynamics that were occurring during this time period. The families that were split between being Tories and Whig’s (like Abigail/her brothers and her father/mother), the interaction of the British troops with the general population and the overall climate that one would expect in a country soon to be consumed by war. While I didn’t necessarily agree with all of Abigails actions, and felt that she def. had some TSTL moments, as a character she was engaging and I would like to see her maybe show up in another book that takes place after the revolution.

The audiobook version of this was narrated by Elisabeth S. Rodgers. This isn’t the first time that I had listened to something narrated by her and it won’t be the last. She does a great job of being able to provide voices to a wide variety of characters and at no time did I feel like the voices were starting to blend together. At times, I wanted to continue driving just so I could listen to a bit more before I got to work or at home at night.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Book Review


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Blog Name Change

Hi Everyone

Just a quick update – the new website for this blog is


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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in General