Monthly Archives: June 2016

Audiobook Review: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Miranda Warning
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Narrator: Becky Doughty
Publisher: Self Published
Published: Audio – December 2015, Print – May 2014
Series: A Murder in the Mountains
Genre: Mystery
Length: 8 hours, 33 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Audiobook: (from the author’s Web site)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

I first reviewed this book back in August 2014 and loved its setting, its characters, and the way the story unfolds with glimpses into multiple viewpoints and time periods revealing key pieces of the mystery a bit at a time. But that was back before there was an audio edition. The more recent release of the audiobook through Audible, combined with the offer of a review copy, provided just the excuse I needed to re-read this lovely mystery.

Since I’ve already gushed about the contents of the book, I’ll refer you back to my earlier review for my thoughts on plot and characters, and focus here on my reaction to the narration. (That kind of seems like a fitting focus for today anyway, since June is audiobook month!)

The narrator, Becky Doughty, did a fabulous job with this audiobook. She tells the story in a casual and relaxed manner, just as I imagine Tess (the first-person narrator) would, with just the right amount of humor, sarcasm, emotion, and excitement coming through in her voice at any given moment. Each character has his or her own voice in dialogue with careful attention paid to gender, age, accent, and emotion. I was particularly impressed by the scene segments shared from Rose’s perspective. The inflections, tone, and accent used give these scenes a feel all their own, making it easy to follow whose story is being told even without the visible scene breaks you’d have as a guide in the written book.

I tend not to re-read very many books, since there are so many out there yet to be read a first time, but I’m glad I took the time to try this one in audiobook format. The story was just as good the second time around, and Becky Doughty’s performance is not to be missed!

Thank you to the author for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: Audio Sample | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Title: Against the Tide
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Length: 11 hours, 29 minutes; Unabridged
Publication Date: October 2012
Genre(s): Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

About the Book (from print publisher, Bethany House):

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

Thoughts on the Story:

Against the Tide initially caught my attention because of all the recognition and awards it received. This book won a RITA Award, a Christy Award, AND a Daphne de Maurier Award. Talk about some impressive credentials! Then I saw that the audio edition was narrated by an incredibly popular multi-award-winning narrator, and I knew this was an audiobook I couldn’t pass up.

So, now that I’ve read it, do I think the story lives up to its reputation? Yes, most definitely.

Both lead characters are wonderfully complex, and the storyline is compelling and thought provoking. Plus, if I can borrow what Lydia says of Bane (page 173):

“Everyone ought to have a brilliant, glorious rascal in their life just once, right?”

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Bane. Could this “rascal” be trusted? Why did the admiral call him dangerous? Was he really a worthy hero? I’m guessing if I’d read The Lady of Bolton Hill first, in which Bane also appears, I might have understood him better from the outset. (At this point, I have not yet read The Lady of Bolton Hill and only recently learned of the connection. Anyone who has read it want to weigh in here?) As it was, I got to know him, and like him, a little at a time, just as Lydia does. Which was a lot of fun. J

The romance is sweet, the suspense page-turning, and the historical aspects engaging. There’s an Author’s Note at the end detailing some of the factual historical information included, and I’ve got to say, the history surrounding medications like Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was pretty shocking. It makes me appreciate some of the regulations in place now all the more.

Possibly one of the most interesting aspects of this book was the discussion on law vs morals. I’ll let Bane and Lydia speak for themselves in this quoted passage (from Chapter 10, page 97):

Lydia’s jaw dropped. “Is this kind of thing legal?”

“Cleaning offices? Of course it is.”

“But you are suggesting looking at records on people’s desks, in their files.”

He pierced her with that blue gaze, assessing her. “Lydia, sometimes there is a difference between things that are legal and things that are moral. I’m looking for smugglers, that’s all. Most of the opium in the market is being brought in by a smuggler working in the Boston Custom House. Trying to find him is a worthy goal.”

I think this book would be an excellent choice for a book discussion group. It comes complete with an eight question discussion guide, covering this and other thought provoking topics that could make for a fascinating group discussion. Whether you’re looking for a book to discuss or just a good read, if you enjoy history, romance, and suspense in a thought-provoking book with complex characters, then this book would be a great choice. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

I consider myself a fan of Barbara Rosenblat’s work, and I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one. This prolific and popular narrator has been recognized with 6 Audie Awards and 40 Earphone Awards, among other honors which include being named one of AudioFile’s “Golden Voices” and a “Voice of the 20th Century.” Her skill with accents and her impressive vocal range made the voices of individual characters realistic and immediately recognizable. And her portrayal of the characters’ emotions brought them to life in a vivid and compelling way. It was a pleasure to hear this award winning Inspirational story paired with a narrator of Barbara Rosenblat’s caliber. Whether you already love audiobooks or are interested in giving them a try, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, June 2016

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the June 2016 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s June selection is Sit, Stay Love by Dana Mentink. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

For June, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd AND Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Christian Book Lovers’ Hideaway group’s monthly discussions can be found on their Goodreads discussion page. Their June fiction selection is Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title and one Christian fiction title per month. The selections for June are Heart in Hand by Barbara Cameron AND Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of June is The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. Discussion is scheduled for June 15, 2016.

The Christian Fiction Book Club, and the Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group are taking breaks from discussion for the time being.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton (April 2016, WaterBrook, Historical)

Code 13 by Don Brown (April 2016, Zondervan, Suspense)

An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller (March 2016, Thomas Nelson, Amish Romance)

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti (April 2016, Abingdon, Contemporary Women’s Fiction)

Behold the Man by Bodie and Brock Thoene (March 2016, Zondervan, Historical)

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh (March 2016, Tyndale House, Contemporary Romance)

So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?