AudioBook Review: A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi

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Title: A Break with Charity: A story about the Salem Witch Trials
Author:  Ann Rinaldi
Narrator:  Laura Hicks
Format:  Hardcover. Paperback, eBook, AudioBook
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (11 and up)
Audio Producer: AudioGo
Pages:  298
Length:  7 Hours: 13 minutes
ISBN:  978-0439872188
Source:  AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade and older
Stars: Overall: 4  Narration:  4 Story: 5 
Purchase Now:  Amazon §  Audible § Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

Susanna desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage. What she doesn’t realize is that the girls are about to set off a torrent of false accusations leading to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people. Susanna faces a painful choice. Should she keep quiet and let the witch-hunt panic continue, or should she “break charity” with the group–and risk having her own family members named as witches?

AudioBook Review:

I’ve long held the belief that an Ann Rinaldi book opens the door to a younger reader, teaching them that they can connect and enjoy history. My daughter loved her books, and it fed her ability and willingness to explore more history, and not fear the research. What holds true with every book that I can name from this author, the characters are easy to understand and get to know, particularly for younger readers who are not as concerned with a rigid conformance to historical accuracy. While she takes liberties in speech and behavior, each story has a solid grounding in the event, and then uses modern conventions to explain the errors of behavior then and now.

In this story, set in 1692, and dealing with the circumstances of the Salem Witch Trials, we meet Susanna, a 15 year old girl who is desperate to be included in the popular girls meetings. Nothing new or different, people all want to belong, unfortunately the girls in this group are highly imaginative and vengeful, and are the genesis of several false accusations of witchcraft in the town. What emerges is a story about standing up for what is right and truth, and whether or not Susanna can actually face the adults and her new friends and speak the truth as she knows it.

While there is a great deal of dither in Susanna, the whole ‘what would / could’ you do in that situation is really the great play in the story. While providing a sense to young readers that history and the adults of the time may just have gotten everything wrong, for a variety of reasons.

Narrated by Laura Hicks, her clearly enunciated delivery and careful pacing feel comfortable and confident, delivering the story without excess embellishment or overly dramatic changes in pitch, tone or delivery to specifically delineate different characters.

All of the characters introduced are actual people, lived during the time and can be found in documents of the time, including information about the trials and the accusers. In an addendum to the story Rinaldi explains her use of Susanna in the story, the inclusion and use of simple elements, and her own liberties with the facts. This actually provides some interesting facts that many may not be aware of, and as an introduction to the time, and a less difficult read than The Crucible, which is all based on the trials themselves, this was an enjoyable story and perfect for readers 12 and up.

I received an MP3 download from AudioGo via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Ann Rinaldi (b. August 27, 1934, in New York City) is a young adult fiction author. She is best known for her historical fiction, including In My Father’s House, The Last Silk Dress, An Acquaintance with Darkness, A Break with Charity, and Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. She has written a total of forty novels, eight of which were listed as notable by the ALA. In 2000, Wolf by the Ears was listed as one the best novels of the preceding twenty-five years, and later of the last one hundred years. She is the most prolific writer for the Great Episode series, a series of historical fiction novels set during the American Colonial era. She also writes for the Dear America series.

Rinaldi currently lives in Somerville, New Jersey, with her husband, Ron, whom she married in 1960. Her career, prior to being an author, was a newspaper columnist. She continued the column, called The Trentonian, through much of her writing career. Her first published novel, Term Paper, was written in 1979. Prior to this, she wrote four unpublished books, which she has called “terrible.” She became a grandmother in 1991.

Rinaldi says she got her love of history from her eldest son, who brought her to reenactments. She says that she writes young adult books “because I like to write them.”

Website

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AudioBook Review: Cat Playing Cupid (Joe Grey #14) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

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Title:
Cat Playing Cupid
Author: Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Narrator: Susan Boyce
Format: Paperback, eBook, AudioCD, AudioBook
Publisher: Avon
Audio Producer: AudioGo
Pages: 372
Length:  10 Hours: 21 minutes
ISBN:  978-0061123978
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: Mystery
Series: A Joe Grey Mystery
Best Read in Order: Not Required
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Purchase Now: Paperback §  eBook §   Audible

About the Book:

Love – and murder – are in the air.

It took Joe Grey’s human, Clyde Damen, nearly forever to pop the question to his girlfriend, Ryan Flannery, and what more romantic time to tie the knot than on Valentine’s Day? But dark secrets from the past soon threaten to destroy everyone’s happiness.

First, a body discovered many miles away reopens a 10-year-old cold case involving a man who disappeared days before his own wedding. Then another body is found closer to home, on the grounds of a ruined estate, deserted save for a band of unusual feral cats.

Though the police investigate, only feline sleuth Joe Grey suspects that the crimes are related. And when he barely escapes alive from a deadly chase, Joe and his friends, Dulcie and Kit, know they’ll need to use their powers of feline perception to bring justice to the small town of Molena Point – and save Valentine’s Day!

AudioBook Review: 

Love is in the air in this installment of the Joe Grey mysteries: Clyde and Ryan are finally getting married on Valentine’s Day, after a protracted courtship. Not to be outdone, the happy moments don’t last too long as a body is discovered – that of a man who disappeared just before his own wedding. Not long after, another body turns up dead: and the cats decide that the two bodies are connected.

Again Shirley Rousseau Murphy manages to utilize the cats and their peculiar talents to great advantage in the story, but this one also spends more time with the human counterparts and their perspectives and relationships with the cats. We also have a bit more flavor from the area around Molina Point, on the northern California coast.

Again Susan Boyce is narrating this story, to great effect: her smooth delivery style, subtle pacing differences and small tone adjustments enhance each character with a unique yet completely fitting delivery of their thoughts and words, without once delving into over-acting or highly exaggerated voice.

These are completely and utterly enchanting cozy mystery stories, heavy on the charm and clever in the plotting. While this installment does include several characters from past stories, and this would not be the first book to start this series, it was an enjoyable and fun read.

I received an MP3 Download from AudioGo via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the author of Cat in the Dark, Cat on the Edge, Cat Under Fire, and Cat Raise the Dead, and has received five Council of Authors and Journalists Awards for previous books. She graduated from San Francisco Art Institute, has worked as a commercial artist and has exhibited paintings and sculptures extensively on the West Coast. She and her husband live in Carmel, California. Their cats have included a tom that twice warned them of burglars in the middle of the night by growling, and a cat that liked to ride horseback.                                                 Website

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AudioBook Review: Cat Spitting Mad (Joe Grey #6) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

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Title: Cat Spitting Mad
Author: Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Narrator: Susan Boyce
Format: Paperback, eBook, AudioCD, AudioBook
Publisher: Avon
Audio Producer: AudioGo
Pages: 304
Length: 7 Hours: 42 minutes
ISBN: 978-0061059896
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: Mystery
Series: A Joe Grey Mystery
Best Read in Order: Not Required
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Purchase Now: Paperback §  eBook §  AudioCD §  AudioBook

About the Book:
Hell hath no fury like a feline enraged. Though Joe Grey and Dulcie are merely housecats, they each have a strong sense of justice — to complement their uncanny ability to read, speak, and use the telephone. And they’re furious that Max Harper, police chief of Molena Point and preferred target for Joe’s harmless pranks, has been accused of a gruesome double murder.

The fleet-footed sleuthing duo is intent upon restoring an old friend’s good name. But finding the missing little girl who was sole witness to the crime won’t be easy — especially with a hungry cougar on the prowl, a cat-killer on the loose … and the kittenish antics of Joe and Dulcie’s playful new “ward” causing big trouble that could take more than nine lives to survive.

AudioBook Review:

Earlier in the series than my introduction to this author and characters, we are returned to Molena Point and find ourselves immersed in a murder mystery. Joe Grey and his partner in detection, Dulcie have found themselves the ‘parents’ of Kit, a tortoiseshell kitten with a never-ending source of energy and curiosity.

With the Chief of Police accused of a double murder he did not commit, these two detecting felines and their new ward set off to find the true culprit, while avoiding the dangerous Lee the cat killer Wark who knows that they can speak, detect and use the telephone. As the three seek the real killer, they also need to watch out for three escaped convicts, and manage to survive several tangles and a jaunt through the haunted house that is occupied by an even larger cat: a cougar.

Narration for this book is provided by Susan Boyce, and her clear enunciation and use of pacing and modulation before overly adjusting tone and adopting a voice change to delineate the different characters is a delightful addition.

Shirley Rousseau Murphy has taken the mystery and turned it sideways with the addition of speaking, intelligent cats that never quite lose that sense that they are cats. Their interactions, likes and dislikes, and even their humor is very cat-oriented, and while a completely anthropomorphic delineation and description, it works quite well. The mystery in this book was well crafted and filled with enough twists to keep a reader engaged, and the human characters, well not as well-defined as the cats, still have a sense of realness and solid voice. This is a fun series for people wanting a lighter and more humorous mystery, especially if they are cat lovers.

I received an MP3 download from AudioGo via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

About the Author:
Shirley Rousseau Murphy is the author of Cat in the Dark, Cat on the Edge, Cat Under Fire, and Cat Raise the Dead, and has received five Council of Authors and Journalists Awards for previous books. She graduated from San Francisco Art Institute, has worked as a commercial artist and has exhibited paintings and sculptures extensively on the West Coast. She and her husband live in Carmel, California. Their cats have included a tom that twice warned them of burglars in the middle of the night by growling, and a cat that liked to ride horseback.                                                 Website

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AudioBook Review: Bahamas West End is Murder by Dirk Wyle

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Title: Bahamas West End is Murder
Author: Dirk Wyle
Narrator: Michael Yurchak
Format: Paperback, eBook, AudioCD, AudioBook
Publisher: Rainbow Books
Audio Producer: Spoken Word, Inc.
Pages: 302
Length: 11 Hours: 20 minutes
ISBN: 978-1568251004
Source: Audiobook Jukebox
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Series: A Ben Candid Mystery # 5
Best Read in Order: Not Required
Stars: Overall: 3  Narration: 3 Story: 3
Purchase Now:  Amazon §  Audible §  AudioCD  §  Barnes&Noble § BooksAMillion

About the Book:
As vacationing Ben Candidi and Rebecca Levis sail through International Waters toward Grand Bahama Island, they receive a strange welcome?a sinking cabin cruiser with a dead man at the helm. Ben knows how to patch bullet holes below the waterline and Rebecca knows how to estimate time of death. And they agree that the West End marina is the right place to bring the body.

To avoid trouble, they play it dumb and treat the cocaine-smuggling marina tenants as the divers and sport fishermen they are pretending to be. Unfortunately, the mailbox corporation in Miami that owns the yacht ignores Ben’s $100,000 salvage claim?and the Bahamian police won?t let him move the yacht to Florida. The harder Ben and Rebecca press their claim, the more sinister West End becomes. Should they cut their losses and run? Or is it too late already?

AudioBook Review:

I was excited to listen to a mystery, and this looked like a good one. A unique location and premise, and frankly having scientists as primary detectives and protagonists just thrilled my inner science geek. While I found the story was intriguing, and the mystery was well-plotted, the pacing was irregular: after some thought I am wondering if the pacing is meant to emulate being on board a drifting yacht, and taking the time to explore the minutiae for lack of other options. If that was the intention, the accomplishment was more miss than hit, and several moments were overloaded with detail that felt unconnected to the plot. A very clever historical fiction writer that I know spoke to the difficulties of balance between research for your story and proving that research to your readers: readers are choosing a novel for the entertainment, and all information that is factual and gleaned in the process is a bonus. Sadly, there were more factual details and less description of the unusual and unique aspects of the Bahamas, and much of the setting felt less integral to the plot and final mystery than it should have because of this detail overload.

I also had some difficulty connecting with Ben, and couldn’t always see his allure for Rebecca. A small point in a mystery between the ‘couple’ but Ben’s apparent inability to find any humility or warmth in his affect and approach made him difficult. I was hoping and waiting for someone to kick out his arrogance a bit, and never quite found that moment of satisfaction. Strangely enough, his scientific remove was actually far more attractive in his problem solving bag of tricks, and his logical approach to the solution came clear at the end: well played Mr. Wyle.

Narration in this story was provided by Michael Yurchak, and also was not as I would have expected.
I was not enamored of the tone and pitch of his voice, and the delivery was clipped and almost too precise: no emotional intonations were evident, and the delivery teetered on the edge of boring. Additionally, there were some odd choices in the introduction content: I have never encountered an introduction that is clearly a straight read of the back cover of the book and consists only of review snippets, and still can’t see the point.

Overall, there were some really good things about this story that kept me listening until the end: the mystery is really clever and has enough twists, turns and potential suspects to keep even the most clever mystery fan intrigued. Sadly, I would really recommend that mystery fans opt for the book, as it is simpler to jump past the multiple passages that provide details that are merely info dumps with no bearing on the plot.

I received an MP3 download of the audiobook via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for The Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

AudioBook Review: Passion at Dawn: Bytes of Life # 4 by Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey

616vyF+LIUL._SS500_Title: Passion at Dawn
Series: Countermeasure: Bytes of Life # 4
Author: Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Publisher: Eire Publishing
ISBN:  978-0988111295
Formats:  eBook and AudioBook
Pages:  52
Length:  1 Hour; 34 minutes
Buy Audio Book:  Audible § iTunes § Amazon
Where to buy: Countermeasure All Links
Stars :  5 Overall  5 Narration  5 Story

WARNING: Contains scenes of mature subject matter, graphic situations and language. Reader discretion is advised.

In the fourth Countermeasure: Byte of Life, Trevor and Cassandra Bauer have settled into married life after facing the bumpy road to the altar. While Cassandra looks for ways to spice up their love life, Trevor questions his efficacy as a husband. His insecurities are compounded by the constant threat of Nathan Nelson, her old friend and past lover, who can’t accept their marriage as final. A brand new marriage, personal uncertainties, and a good dose of alpha geek jealousy make for a volatile mix. When a phone call spurs him to lay claim to what is his and give Cassandra the fantasies she craves, Trevor reacts like any hot blooded man would. The result is a steamy room, slippery bodies, and Passion at Dawn.

Countermeasure: Bytes of Life is a tie-in series to the Countermeasure Series novels. This new series of shorts gives the readers glimpses into the day-to-day life of the  characters.

The main novels in the Countermeasure Series are action-packed plot-driven stories, while the short stories in the Bytes of Life Series are character-driven and a way to develop the characters as the main series moves forward. Please be advised that ALL short stories in this series contain EROTIC material. They are NOT recommended for younger audience. Although some of the events that take place in the short stories might be referenced in the novels and vice-versa, the short stories are not compulsory for the understanding of the series. They enhance the experience.

AudioBook Review:

One of the fun things with reviewing is the occasional opportunity to revisit a title that I have read previously, and get a whole new perspective on the work. This is one of the short additional content novellas that provide further character insight to readers of the Countermeasure series: a series that is part action, part mystery and part romance and follows the former NSA computer geek Trevor and his new wife and ex CIA operative Cassandra.

In this short, a snapshot of their lives when they are not working a case is the focus, and we see just how fragile an ego can be. What is reinforced for the reader is their relatively short acquaintance, and the fact that they have much to learn about one another, like any other couple. Throughout this series, we don’t often see the insecurities and fears: and Trevor’s are on full display in jealous reactions, somber moments and an unusual snappiness with his father in law.

Narration in this short is provided by Tim Gerard Reynolds, and his smooth delivery with subtle changes in pitch and tone, a slight deepening of the Irish in his accent and his vivid and accurate inflections that depict emotional turmoil, tension and gasping need are nothing short of perfect for this story.

Again, for readers of the Countermeasure series, these shorts are nice interludes to give us more of what we want: Cassie and Trevor. And, even more than we would expect, and no one will walk away from this short story without a small shiver of excitement and anticipation when seeing a can of whipped cream on a refrigerator shelf. Yes, there are several scenes that increase the eroticism of these stories, but these are not simply voyeuristic entertainment: the connection and obvious love between them shines through.

I received an AudioBook version of the book for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

About the Authors

Writing had touched Chris Almeida’s and Cecilia Aubrey’s lives in different ways through the years but had never taken flight. It was in 2010, when Chris and Cecilia met and began role-playing online as a hobby, that writing placed itself front and center in their lives.

Chris and Cecilia have since chosen to release all their titles independently. They have several short stories and two novels published under their own label, Éire Publishing, and are vocal supporters of independent publishing done right. They are currently working on the third novel in their series. Through all the chaos and laughter, they still hold true to their roots, bringing their favorite role-play characters and stories to life.

You can find out more about them on their author and series websites:

Where to follow:

Website  Φ  Series Website  Φ  Series at Facebook  Φ  Facebook Group Φ Author Page

Individual Links to Facebook:   Chris  Φ  Cecilia 

Twitter: Chris  Φ  Cecilia  Φ  Combined 

Goodreads:  Cecilia  Φ  Chris