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

Special Offer – Get Your First 3 Months at Audible for $7.49/month!

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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

Special Offer – Get Your First 3 Months at Audible for $7.49/month!

Dancing With Paris by Juliette Sobanet ~ Review and Giveaway

dancing-with-paris-bannerToday I have a lovely romance with time-travel and suspense elements from author  Juliette Sobanet.  Additionally, the publisher has graciously offered 3 lucky winners the opportunity for their own eBook copy of the book in kindle format, open to international entrants!  The drawing information is below… be sure to enter!

Juliette Sobanet Title:  Dancing with Paris
Author: Juliette Sobanet
Format:  Paperback, eBook, MP3 CD and AudioBook
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Pages:  324
ISBN:  978-1477805916
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Romance, Time-Travel, Suspense, Historical
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Audible

About the Book: 

In Paris, a past life promises a second chance at love.

Straitlaced marriage therapist Claudia Davis had a plan—and it definitely did not involve getting pregnant from a one-night stand or falling for a gorgeous French actor. She thinks her life can’t possibly get more complicated. But when Claudia takes a tumble in her grandmother’s San Diego dance studio, she awakens in 1950s Paris in the body of Ruby Kerrigan, the glamorous star of a risqué cabaret—and the number-one suspect in the gruesome murder of a fellow dancer. As past lives go, it’s a doozy…especially when an encounter with a handsome and mysterious French doctor ignites a fire in Claudia’s sinfully beautiful new body.

But time, for all its twists and turns, is not on her side: Claudia has just five days to unmask the true killer, clear Ruby’s name, and return to the twenty-first century. To do so, she must make an impossible choice, one that will change the course of both of her lives forever.

-Amount of sex/violence: This book is a romance novel with time travel and murder mystery elements. There are two sex scenes and a few light murder scenes in the novel. There is a great deal of description of 1950s Paris as well.

Book Review:

In an interesting twist on my usual time-travel / romance trope, we are introduced to Claudia in 2012 San Diego. She is mildly dissatisfied with her life at the moment, pregnant by one man while desperately in love with another: who truly does seem to be the one for her. Very quickly, we are removed to 1950’s Paris, where Claudia awakens to find herself in the body of Ruby, a Parisian cabaret headliner who also happens to be Claudia’s grandmother’s best friend. Confused yet? I was at first – for we don’t have a great deal of time to know Claudia and gain a solid sense of her situation and character before we are whisked off to Paris and need to make sense of the situation that Claudia is currently embroiled in.

Not content to make this a simple parallel lives story: Ruby/Claudia is the primary suspect in a murder that she did not commit, and she must find the real killer and save Ruby from her current fate before she can return to her own life in San Diego. As if that wasn’t enough stress: with new situations, a new view of her grandmother and the Paris to rediscover in its past form, she has only five days in which to solve the mystery and set lives on a new path.

A complex and highly ambitious plotting arc and storyline for any author, but Juliette Sobanet is certainly up to the task. While there were moments of confusion, it gave me the feel of being Claudia/Ruby and the pacing, characterization and narration all aided in my getting up to speed, much as Claudia/Ruby needed to do. Then, since I mistakenly thought I had the mystery and murder pieces sorted out, the quick twists and turns proved to me that I was wrong, yet the answer was there, just awaiting discovery.

The city of Paris is just gorgeous and so very present in the story: from the descriptions and feel to the sense of ‘difference’, it fed every memory I have of the city at that time from photos that my grandmother had tucked into a scrapbook from when my aunt first moved there in mid-1950. Sobanet’s prose is lush and well-suited to the city and the story. The interwoven romance from present to past, while bringing a sense of Claudia’s current love to the character of Antoine, with their similar behaviors and concerns and their obvious affection for her was a smooth transition that gave more insight into Claudia and her modern life, while maintaining a true feel to the past.

While it will seem from this review that the story was hard to follow, or overly complex – I truly apologize. It was an exceedingly smooth read that never let up on the entertainment, and kept me involved and engaged with each page. Although I do wish that there was more sense of Claudia in the present and a sense of a solid conclusion for her story, it left me satisfied and smiling. I now want to read the author’s other titles, and have put them on my list.

I received an eBook copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

Giveaway:  

As I mentioned before, the publisher has graciously offered 3 eBook copies of the title for lucky winners.  Drawing will end at 23:59 on 14 August -winners will be notified via email.  Enter via this Rafflecopter.

About the Author: 

Juliette Sobanet earned a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.A. from New York University in France, living and studying in both Lyon and Paris. She worked as a French professor before turning a new page in her career, penning romantic women’s fiction with a French twist. She is the author of Sleeping with Paris, Kissed in ParisMidnight Train to Paris, Dancing with Paris, and the upcoming Honeymoon in Paris. Today she lives with her husband and two cats in San Diego, where she devotes her time to writing and dreaming about her next trip to France.

Website § Facebook  § @JulietteSobanet

Review Unprotected Sax by Tony McFadden

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Title:  Unprotected Sax
Author:  Tony McFadden
Contributor: Charles McFadden
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 372
ISBN: 978-1481073783
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller / Mystery
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  § Barnes&Noble § BooksAMillion

About the Book:
Playing sax in his friend’s jazz band was supposed to be relaxing.

Then his friend disappeared.

Johnny Delacourte, (aka JD, Johnny D, The Sax Machine and a few choice others) left the Army Rangers and the battlefields of Afghanistan six months ago. He reconnected with friends in Miami, dusted off his saxophone and started learning how to relax again. With his best friend on drums and a delightlful vocalist in front of him, life was settling into a comfortable pattern.

Then the friend disappears, the cops don’t seem to care and the Russian mob is all over his ass.

Miami was always hot in August. It just got hotter.

Book Review:

This book was a fun romp with a feel of a Where’s Waldo illustration; only we are trying to find Paul – before everyone else does, to his detriment. Add in the art-deco and slightly decadent feel of Miami, the steam of the Everglades, a jazz trio and a series of unfortunate events and you are starting to crack open the joys within.

What makes this so different is that we know who committed the murder: all of the story’s tension hang on the witness and drummer Paul, his disappearance and whether he will be found, alive, to testify. Diving right in with several point of view changes narrated by different characters does make for a tricky start, but then the pacing settled with some deliciously clever sidelines that allow for time to breathe and just enjoy the world that McFadden is building.

With so many characters, there were some gaps in their development: but the main players in the story (the band) and one slightly depraved and crooked cop are defined fairly clearly and solidly. Dialogue in this book is both fast paced and well written, with an eye to sarcasm and some humor it often served to help define a sense of the characters. While I found some issues, this story was unique and the climax was a slow build to a satisfying ending that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Tony McFadden is a transplanted Canadian living in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia.Currently working on #8, an as yet to be titled sci-fi/pseudo paranormal thriller, he has just published “Unprotected Sax”, in the same universe as “Book ‘Em” and “Family Matters”, adding to his portfolio of “Daly Battles: The Fall of Pyongyang”, “Matt’s War”, “G’Day L.A.” and “G’Day USA”.

Website  § @tony_mcfadden

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Review: Mental Pause by Anne O’Connell

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Title: Mental Pause
Author: Anne O’Connell
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 228
ISBN: 978-0984927227
Source: Author
Genre: Contemporary Woman’s Fiction
Stars: 4
Purchase Now: Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:
Abbie Slocum, a forty-something, average, middle of the road, housewife and mother of teenage twin boys, tries desperately to keep her outwardly idyllic life together while spiralling into a dark pit of menopausal insanity. Her mind races with suicidal, murderous thoughts so outside of her normal character that it frightens her. The only person she can share the graphic images from her hormonally addled mind with is her best friend, Rachel, recently separated, and the mysterious and titillating Joan, a new friend from Rachel’s singles support group.

Women have survived this female passage of life since the beginning of time! Why was Abbie having so much trouble handling it? As the battle to maintain her sanity rages on, Abbie, Rachel and Joan stumble into unfortunate, borderline comical, circumstances that lead to wild nights, experimenting with drugs and two suspicious deaths. Abbie’s cop husband, Conrad, tries desperately to understand what’s happening to his normally sweet wife. While vying for promotion, his family gets embroiled in a media frenzy that swirls around a murder trial in which Abbie is the primary suspect. Abbie takes the reader on an old jalopy ride of uncharacteristic outbursts and wild escapism that leads to tragedy and finally, into court where she just might have to plead ‘temporary insanity’.

Book Review:

This debut offering from independent author Anne O’Connell is poignant, funny, shocking and provides a moment of “maybe I’m NOT the crazy one here” for readers. Abbie is peri-menopausal with all of the symptoms that are alluded to, but never wholly defined or described to women in a way that every reader can empathize, sympathize or nod their head in agreement. Wholesale personality changes have taken over the formerly competent and functional wife and mother, and no one seems to understand why: least of all her.

Sometimes completely sobering then venturing into almost farcical situations, Abbie and her cohorts wander into situations and circumstances as they ‘go with’ their curiosity and let their impulses take command of their adventures. Unfortunately, being the chief suspect in a murder trial doesn’t soothe Abbie’s frayed emotions or ally her symptoms, and everyone is wondering if she truly is insane.

Mixing humor, real life symptoms and extreme reactions, O’Connell manages to create Abbie into a character that speaks to many, stronger than she appears yet wholly fragile and driven by impulses that she doesn’t always understand she is delightfully wacky and fun while still maintaining a sense of realness. The outrageous circumstances behind the murder charge, and the husband that is a cop and completely confused but trying to be supportive are well-played and keep the reader entertained even as we know that she is not the murderer. Friends also play a large part in this story: finally at the point where women are less about ‘competition’ and more about support and real friendship – it was nice to see a portrayal of female relationships that didn’t digress into mean-girl syndrome: where the bond and the support were more important to all of the friends.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011.
Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter, writing coach and consultant since 2007, specializing in social media, marketing, corporate communications and public relations. She is a regular contributor to Global Living Magazine and Expat Focus. In between clients she squeezes in time for her newly found passion – writing fiction. She and her husband have a passion for travel as well and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world. Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. She is the author of @Home in Dubai… Getting Connected Online and on the Ground; 10 Steps to a Successful PR Campaign – a Do-it-Yourself Guide for Authors; and Mental Pause, her first novel.

Website § Blog § @annethewriter § Facebook § Google+