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

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

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.

Relatively Dead by Sheila Connolly ~ Review

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Title:  Relatively Dead
Author:  Sheila Connolly
Format: eBook
Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing
Pages:  211
ISBN:  978-1937349721
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Paranormal
Stars:  4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

Abby Kimball has just moved to New England with her boyfriend and is trying to settle in, but the experience is proving to be quite unsettling, to say the least. While on a tour of local historic homes, Abby witnesses a family scene that leaves her gasping for breath—because the family has been dead for nearly a century. Another haunting episode follows, and another, until it seems to Abby that everything she touches is drawing her in, calling to her from the past.

Abby would doubt her sanity if it weren’t for Ned Newhall, the kind and knowledgeable guide on that disturbing house tour. Rather than telling her she’s hallucinating, Ned takes an interest in Abby’s strange encounters and encourages her to figure out what’s going on, starting with investigating the story of the family she saw . . . and exploring her own past.

But as Abby begins to piece together a history that’s as moving as it is shocking and unravels a long-ago mystery that nearly tore her family apart, she also begins to suspect that Ned’s got secrets of his own, and that his interest may be driven as much by a taste for romance as a love for history.

Book Review: 

This was an incredibly clever little mystery set in the Lexington / Concord area of Massachusetts. If you aren’t familiar with this little corner of New England, you really can’t spit without hitting something of historical import. Sheila Connolly cleverly integrates small history lessons, descriptive passages of the area surrounding Boston, and a genealogical search into the story, providing readers with an array of references and visualization options.

Abby is a recent transplant to this area of New England with her boyfriend, Brad, and rather at loose ends without a job, or familiarity with her location. After tiring of Brad’s incessant badgering, she decided to venture out on one of the many historic house tours to pass her afternoon. Her last stop resulted in a curious phenomenon; she was seeing highly charged emotional events that took place nearly 100 years earlier. When she looks for a way to solve this mysterious chain of events, Ned, the witness to her first ‘episode’ becomes advisor and tour guide, and soon trusted friend, providing her with ideas, suggestions and a sounding board for her concerns.

I liked Abby, although I was surprised at her lack of response, at least verbal, to Brad’s behavior. When she started to develop her own interests, and was hired at the museum, her self-esteem got a healthy boost, and she was able to see him for what he was, and walk away. I enjoyed the interplay with Ned, bordering on the flirtatious, and his openness to the paranormal experiences despite his need for some sort of proof.

The story unfolded in a logical way, taking time to outline the steps Abby took in her research, and the reader is able to unfold the clues as Abby does, giving a true sense of traveling the path with her. While the ending did seem to arrive quickly and leave some unanswered questions, fans of history and mystery will truly enjoy this story: and it provides a nice insight into the area and historical treasures to be found there.

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

About the Author:
Sheila Connolly began writing mysteries in 2001, and has since been nominated for an Agatha Award twice. Her most recent book is the nationally bestselling Buried in a Bog, the first book in the County Cork Mystery Series. Sheila is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Sour Apples (Orchard Mystery Series) and Fire Engine Dead (Museum Mystery Series). She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

Website  §  Facebook § @SheilaConnolly

 

Review with Giveaway: The Resurrection of Hannah by Kathryne Arnold

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Title:  The Resurrection of Hannah
Author:  Kathryne Arnold
Format: Hardcover / Paperback / Kindle
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages:  288
ISBN: 978-1456725228
Source: Author
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Series:  Samantha Clark Mysteries # 1
Stars:  4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes & Noble

About the Book: 
Samantha Clark is fast approaching a crossroads in her life, she just doesn’t know it yet. In her late thirties, single, and caught up in the hustle of everyday life, she is disenchanted with her predictable lifestyle as a psychotherapist on the west coast of Florida. “Sammi” begins to experience troubling physical symptoms and turns to alternative medicine in her quest for answers. Through experimentation and curiosity, startling events begin to unfold, revealing a dream world where she becomes transfixed by an overpowering spiritual connection. This unlikely teacher shows Sammi how to move beyond her physical self, to be open to other levels of existence, to break free from the emotional bonds that hold her back. As an exciting relationship blossoms in her present life, Sammi stumbles upon a centuries-old past, forcing her to examine personal beliefs as she struggles to stay adrift in both worlds. Held spellbound by her extraordinary history, she retraces her past life, discovering that it holds the key to her current dilemmas. She soon becomes entangled in a mysterious murder from which there is no turning back. Sammi must now solve the crime in order to cut the cord that binds her to a long-ago past, freeing her at last to live fully in the present. Kathryne Arnold has interweaved themes of the paranormal with the current realities of everyday life, creating a complexly rich psychological tale. The Resurrection of Hannah is an unforgettable story of self-discovery, friendship, love beyond time and the resiliency of the human spirit.

Book Review:

The concept of synchronicity has an effect on every aspect of our lives, and Samantha’s story and characterization are an example of this. Introducing this concept, and setting the stage for other spiritual and metaphysical ruminations, Arnold prefaces the first chapter with a quote from Wordsworth: “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.”  This sets the stage for multiple plot points to weave through the story as it progresses.

Samantha is a solid and very likable character, easy to bond with and presents a solid center for the story.  Through describing dreams about an old mystery from 1800’s New England, as she learns to let go of her more ‘western’ sensibilities and be open to experiences, a murder is uncovered and needs solving.  The mixing of past and present, reaffirming personal growth and offering several different avenues of exploration, Arnold manages to present a gripping story that becomes both a page turner and a journey of self-discovery.

I did truly enjoy this debut offering, and found Ms. Arnold’s style to be very descriptive and detailed.  I did wish for more showing to draw the reader into the center of the action, I believe the tension and immediacy to solve the mystery would have had a stronger emotional impact with that small change.  All in all, however, this was a cleverly told, well-paced and characterized debut novel from a new writer to watch in the mystery / thriller / suspense genre.

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

Giveaway:

And as part of this promotion – I am happy to present TWO giveaways !

International entrants use this Rafflecopter link to be entered to win an eBook copy of
The Resurrection of Hannah.  Winners will be notified via email after drawing closes on 15 May.

US Only entrants can use this Rafflecopter link to be entered to win a signed paperback copy of The Resurrection of Hannah.  Winners will also be notified via email after the drawing closes on 15 May.

About the Author:

Kathryne J. Arnold holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, is a licensed mental health therapist and a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist. Ms. Arnold provides full-time therapy services at an outpatient counseling program in Tampa, FL, as well as seeing clients privately in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Her extensive knowledge of the human experience, garnered from more than two decades in the mental health and social services fields, is reflected in The Resurrection of Hannah, her debut novel.

Kathryne’s second book in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series, The Fear of Things to Come, was published in 2012. She is currently working on her third book in the trilogy featuring the same protagonist as she moves through unexpected life adventures. Ms. Arnold also writes blogs with a candid, distinctive perspective, sharing personal experiences and her take on events that touch us all. She keeps busy with scheduled ongoing book appearances in the Tampa Bay area, including author radio interviews. Ms. Arnold lives on the water in sunny Clearwater, Florida, with Zoe, her toy poodle muse.

For detailed author/book/event information, please visit Kathryne’s
Website  §  Facebook  §  @KathryneArnold  §   Amazon Author Central §   LinkedIn  SheWrites  §  Blogger  or via email at kathrynearnold@aim.com