Audiobook Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Narrated by January LaVoy

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)


Goodreads description: 

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Genre: Paranormal / Historical / Mystery / Thriller / Young Adult
My Rating: ***** (5 of 5 stars)

“There is a hideous invention called the Dewey Decimal System. And you have to look up your topic in books and newspapers. Pages upon pages upon pages…” ~ Evie O’Neill

First off, I have to say that I was ABSOLUTELY RELIEVED to find out that this is, in fact, the first book in a series – I did not want to say goodbye to these characters. I picked it up from the library on a whim, and was so glad that I did. I now have a hold placed on Lair of Dreams (book #2), and can’t wait for my turn to listen to that one too.

Evie O’Neill is a seventeen year old flapper with a gift – the gift of “reading” an object to discover its owner’s secrets. After an impromptu reading at a party gets her in trouble at home in Ohio, she is sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York. Her uncle runs a museum of the paranormal, and is called in by the police to help look into a string of unusual murders. Hoping to secure a permanent place in New York, Evie joins her Uncle Will’s team and helps investigate.

Libba Bray has done a wonderful job of transporting the reader back to 1920’s New York. I could almost see the flapper dresses and cloche hats, and hear the music and the clinking of glasses in the speakeasy clubs. The book would be worth reading for the glimpse into the past alone, but it has so much more to offer. Mystery, danger, secrets, powers, music, romance – I could go on and on!

I listened to this book, rather than reading a print edition, and I would highly recommend it. January LaVoy did an amazing job of bringing each character to life with his or her own voice and inflections. This was no small feat considering the size of the cast of characters she had to work with! I hope she will continue to read the rest of the books in this series as they are published.

If you’ve read The Diviners, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Audiobook Review – Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Read by Kirsten Potter

Condensed Goodreads description:

Station ElevenAn audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star (Arthur), his would-be savior (Jeevan), and a nomadic group of actors (including Kirsten) roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleventells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Genre: Fiction / SciFi / Dystopian
My Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

This is an instance of a book cover catching my attention, and refusing to let it go. I started seeing this one first in magazines, and then bookstores and websites all over the place until I decided I had to read it. I had the impression that it took place in a post-pandemic world, but that was about it. I’m glad I didn’t read the book blurb more carefully because I don’t think that I would have been interested in the story of a Hollywood star and a band of traveling actors. I would probably not have picked it up, and I would have missed something beautiful.

This book is, at its heart, a story of survival and resilience. It starts at a point in time just as the flu pandemic is beginning. We meet a variety of individuals at a performance of King Lear, and then follow several of them both forward and backward in time, learning about their past, and watching as their futures unfold in the new world. The author’s main focus is on the characters, what drives them, what mattered to them before the collapse of civilization and afterward, and their personal relationships more than the disaster itself.

Kirsten Potter does an excellent job with the narration – her voice and timing were a pleasure to listen to.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to fans of almost any type of fiction or word lovers in general. It was so full of memorable quotes, that I caught myself jotting them down to read later, and that isn’t something I normally do. Since I have them though, I’d like to leave you with a few of my favorites…

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

“What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

“There are certain qualities of light that blur the years.”



Audiobook Review – The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.

But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.

Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

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Audiobook Review – The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

The Killswitch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
Narrated by Scott Aiello

Tucker Wayne #1

The Kill Switch (Tucker Wayne, #1)Description from Goodreads:

Who does the U.S. government call upon when a mission requires perfect stealth, execution, and discretion? Meet the newest recruits to the expanding Sigma Force universe—former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his stalwart companion, Kane, a military working dog of exceptional abilities — in:


The mission seems simple enough: extract a pharmaceutical magnate from Russian soil, a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon. But nothing is as it appears to be. A conspiracy of world-shattering scope unravels as Tucker and Kane struggle to keep one move ahead of their deadly enemies.

Genre: Thriller / Adventure
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

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Audiobook Review – The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg

The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg
Narrated by Simon Vance

Fjällbacka Series #5

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedström, #5)Description from Goodreads:

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why.

Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old?

Genre: Mystery
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Had I realized when I picked it up that this was the 4th book in a series, I would have looked for the first book to start at the beginning. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything starting at this point in the story, however. The relationships between characters were either evident or explained well enough that you can easily read or listen to this book without having read the previous books, and not feel lost.

A lot of Swedish crime fiction has a particular melancholy feel to it, and The Hidden Child is no exception. The author did injected occasional brief moments of humor into the story that helped lighten the mood, however, and they kept it from feeling too dark.

The story is told in both in the present, and through flashbacks, in the time around WW2. It follows the police investigation into the murder of a local historian, as well as the family drama unfolding as Erica Faulk digs into her mother’s past. The two series of events turn out to be more intertwined than anyone could have imagined, and even though I could see where it was going, the story didn’t give everything away at once and I didn’t really know what had happened until the end.

Making the story even more enjoyable to listen to, Simon Vance did a great job narrating. He has a smooth, even voice that fit the story perfectly. He also either speaks Swedish or spent some quality time learning how to pronounce the Swedish names and places in the book! 🙂

If you are a fan of police procedural and / or historical mysteries, give this one a try!

Audiobook Review – By Book or by Crook by Eva Gates

By Book or by CrookEva Gates
Read by Elise Arsenault
By Book or By Crook (Lighthouse Library Mystery #1)
Lighthouse Library #1

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of book #2 in this series (Booked for Trouble) to review a while ago. I enjoyed the book, so I decided to go back to the beginning while the series is still young!

In By Book or By Crook, we meet Lucy Richardson, a librarian who has moved from Boston to the Outer Banks area to escape both her mother and a relationship that she doesn’t see a future in. She has family, an aunt, uncle, and cousins, in the area, and her aunt introduces her to the head librarian at the Bodie Island public library. Soon Lucy has a new job and a new home – an apartment on the top floor of the lighthouse in which the library resides.

At a reception to celebrate the arrival of a collection of first edition Jane Austen novels for display at the library, a member of the board is found dead in the rare books room. Soon afterwards, the first editions begin disappearing one-by-one from their display case. With Bertie, the head librarian, suspected of the crimes, Lucy and the rest of the library staff do some investigating on their own to clear Bertie’s name and protect the remainder of the Jane Austen novels.

I enjoyed this book, but I had to keep reminding myself that this story took place before Booked for Trouble. There is a bit of a love triangle (one of my least favorite tropes, but not too bad yet) going on in book number two that is just developing in this first book. It was fun to go back and see how Lucy met all of the recurring characters from the second story, and to see that her sense of justice has been there right from the beginning. I will definitely be reading Lucy’s future adventures.

While the narrator does a good job with her not-too-Southern accent throughout, I wasn’t thrilled with her pacing while reading. If you’re thinking of giving this series a try, print would be the way to go.

Audiobook Review – Palmetto Poison by C. Hope Clark

Palmetto Poison by C. Hope Clark
Narrated by Pyper Down
Palmetto Poison
Carolina Slade #3

Genre: Mystery
Rating **** (4 of 5 stars)

After the Governor’s brother-in-law is charged with possessing and distrusting prescription medications illegally, Slade’s boss asks her to look into the matter. As soon as she starts investigating though, people start dying, and no one seems to want to cooperate with her investigation.

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Audiobook Review – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (audio CD edition)
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West

Genre: YA / Fantasy
My Rating: ***** (5 of 5 stars)

I had been listening to this audiobook for about a week during my commute to and from work, and when it ended on my way home, I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t end there. It just couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to know, no, needed to know what happened next! While not a cliff-hanger, there are so many things left unresolved at the end of this story, so many things left to be done, that I really hope Ms. Tahir has at least another 2 or 3 books up her sleeve. (NOTE: Since writing this review I have scoured her Goodreads page and found that yes, book #2 is in the works. I can breathe a little easier now…)

An Ember in the Ashes is the story of Laia, a Scholar girl, and Elias, a soldier in training for the Empire’s army. The Scholars are the lowest class citizens in the Empire, and many of Laia’s people have been killed or enslaved. Her own parents and older sister were killed for being rebels. Elias is just finishing his training as a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. When Laia’s remaining family is raided one night, she goes undercover as a slave at the military academy to try to gain information she can trade to the Scholar resistance, so that they will help her find and free her brother who was captured during the raid.

There was a bit of a love triangle, which I usually hate, but each individual seemed so real, each with his own flaws and redeeming qualities, that it was easy to understand Laia’s feelings. And I loved Laia herself. She was no super-woman, just a frightened girl determined to do whatever she had to in order to save the only family she had left. She was scared, she second guessed herself, but she never gave up. I admired her determination, and it’s been a long time since I read a book that made me care so much about what happened to its characters.

I have to mention the narrators as well. I thought both of them did a great job, and having both a male and female narrator helped distinguish the point of view for each chapter. I hope they  will be available to read again when the next book in this series is ready!

If you enjoy Young Adult Fantasy, then I can’t recommend this book enough. I will be buying a copy of book number two just as soon as it is available!

Visit Sabaa Tahir’s website

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Audiobook Review – The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
The Silver Witch
Macmillan Audio CD Audiobook
Narrated by Marisa Calin

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: ***** (5 of 5 stars)

I have had several Paula Brackston novels on my Goodreads Want to Read shelf for a while now, but this is the first one I got around to reading / listening to. I loved it, and I can’t wait to start another one! This is also a book I’m glad I picked up the audio version of instead of trying to read it. The narrator has a beautiful Welsh accent, and thankfully knows how to pronounce the Welsh names and place-names that I would have butchered inside of my head had I read it in print.

The novel is told in both the present and in ancient Celtic times, both storylines taking place in the same locale.  In present day Wales, following the death of her husband, Tilda moves into the house that she and Matt had purchased to start their new life in together. After spending some time alone in her cottage, Tilda starts to experience strange things, and finds a new sort of power developing inside her. In ancient times, we hear the story of Seren, a shaman and seer to a Celtic Prince who lived on a man-made island in the middle of the lake near Tilda’s cottage.

Each story on its own is intriguing. We know early on that there is a connection between the two women, but it takes longer for Tilda to realize why she feels such an affinity for the lake and the area around her new home. By the time she does, her life and the life of her new love may be in more danger than she can handle.

This book has a little bit of everything. Historical fiction, fantasy, suspense, and a touch of romance. I highly recommend this one if you are a fan of any of those genres.

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Audiobook Review – Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Audiobook Narrated by Adam Paul

Genre: SciFi (Cyberpunk) / Mystery
My Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book at first because of the subject matter. The story is somewhat more disturbing than what I normally read, but it is a murder mystery as well as sci-fi, so you have to expect some unpleasantness. There are some terrible people doing terrible things. There are also some not so terrible, everyday people accepting, and occasionally even enjoying, terrible things. The worst (or best depending on how you look at it) part of it all is how believable everything is. In the end though, I did enjoy the book and decided that it deserves 4 stars. It is a very well thought out and well-written story that kept me listening every minute I could until it was finished.

Tomorrow and tomorrow is set in the not-so-distant future. People use implants called Adware to email and connect with other people they run into, and to deliver streaming content right to their eyes, 24 hours a day. The targeted marketing being used by the advertisers in this book will feel familiar to anyone who has ever browsed the web, and it’s so close to current reality that you never even question the technology.

In this future America, Philadelphia has been wiped out by a terrorist attack. John Dominic Blaxton, who lost his wife in the attack, works for an agency that researches deaths for an insurance agency. There are so many cameras everywhere, that a digital archive of the city has been created, and people are able to virtually visit the city and the people who once lived there. When a claim is made against a life insurance policy claiming that someone died in the blast, Dominic’s job is to go into this archive to find the person at the time of the explosion and prove that they did actually die when the bomb that took out the city went off.

In a nutshell (and to keep myself from giving away anything important), Dominic uncovers things he was never meant to find and ends up running for his life. While trying to stay alive, he is also trying to piece together the last moments of a murder victim’s timeline, and find the person responsible for deleting another woman’s images from the archive.

The narrator, Adam Paul, did a great job and I’m really glad I listened to this one. The first few minutes, I was annoyed by his voice, but it grows on you, and his style fits the story well. (If anyone has listened to William Gibson reading Neuromancer, you’ll probably understand what I mean!) He also did a great job of expressing Dominic’s anguish, shock, and frustration when appropriate.

Whether you prefer to read or listen to your books, I would recommend this one to scifi fans, as long as you don’t have a weak stomach. 🙂

WARNING (in case you prefer not to read this sort of thing): There are some graphic descriptions of violence, and graphic descriptions of corpses along with some vulgar language.

Visit Thomas Sweterlitsch’s website (be sure to check out the Adware page)

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