Tag Archives: Heather Day Gilbert

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

Book Review: Trial by Twelve by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Trial by Twelve
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Published: May 2015
Genre: Mystery, Christian Fiction
Series: A Murder in the Mountains, Book 2

About the Book (from Goodreads):

Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.

As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her.

Unpredictable psychological mystery replete with memorable characters, Trial by Twelve is Book Two in A Murder in the Mountains series.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Mystery lovers and fans of Christian fiction take note, Trial by Twelve is one story not to be missed. This second installment in Heather Day Gilbert’s A Murder in the Mountains series delivers a classic amateur sleuthing mystery, populated by fascinating characters in a vivid setting. There’s even a fun Nancy Drew reference, comparing Tess, Charlotte, and Rosemary to amateur sleuth Nancy Drew and her sidekicks George and Bess.

In my review of Miranda Warning (the first title in this series), I already mentioned how much I like the strong and spunky Tess Spencer as heroine, with her dry sense of humor and down-to-earth relatability. But it bears repeating, because this book features that same charming and witty Tess confronting a brand new mystery. Her present tense first person telling has a very personable quality to it, making the reader feel like a friend. And her interactions with her adorable daughter, friends, in-laws, and of course her handsome hubby provide just the right counterpoint to the tension (and danger!!!) accompanying the mystery she’s investigating.

With the discovery of a number of old skeletons and a collection of creepy letters presumed to have been written by the killer, there’s plenty to draw the reader into the mystery. There’s one letter included at the beginning of each of the early chapters, complete with hints that could lead to the identity of the killer. But with plenty of plausible suspects in close proximity, I was kept guessing right along with Tess. And while I did suspect the actual killer, I also suspected about half the people Tess came into contact with, so I can’t really claim to have solved this one. LOL!

I enjoyed reading this mystery from beginning to end, and look forward to accompanying Tess and her friends and family on future sleuthing escapades.

Thank you to the author for providing an advance reader copy free of charge for reviewing.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Web Site

Book Review: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Miranda Warning
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Series: Murder in the Mountains Series, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery, Christian Fiction
Published: 2014

I first discovered Heather Day Gilbert’s writing through her book God’s Daughter, the first in her Vikings of the New World Saga, which I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog.  When I found out her next book was taking the leap from historical fiction to contemporary mystery, I was curious and eager to see what this one would be like.  I found it highly enjoyable, sharing some of the best features of the author’s earlier work, including vivid settings and a strong and relatable heroine.

About the Book (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 Review:

Just like in God’s Daughter, Miranda Warning features settings vividly described with just the right details to put you in the scene with the characters without bogging down the action.  In this case the setting is modern day West Virginia… and West Virginia from forty years ago.

Each chapter features a short segment from the past, followed by more lengthy scenes set in the present.  Tess Spencer is trying to figure out just what happened in the past before her friend Miranda makes what could be a dangerous mistake in the present.  Meanwhile, someone or something is threatening her and her investigation.  I thought the format worked very well, with the details from the past being revealed at just the right times to keep suspense high and complement the modern day investigation.  The mystery and suspense elements definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

Then there’s the strong and spunky heroine.  I really liked Tess, especially her dry sense of humor, and I found myself relating to her in a number of areas.  Loved her line about preferring a throwing star to practice her ninja skills.  She’s friendly and down-to-earth, but she keeps a knife or gun in her pocket just in case.  I have a feeling I’d really enjoy hanging out with her … if she were a real person … except maybe for the danger she seems to attract.  With that in mind, it’s probably safer for me to just continue reading the series as it’s published.  😉

Faith played a relatively small part in this story, but I enjoyed what was there.  Miranda makes an interesting point when she compares Tess’s situation to another character’s, saying, “She wouldn’t go to church or read her Bible. So her views of God got warped, like wet floorboards.”   (Page 273.  I loved the wet floorboards comparison so I had to include that quote.)  Anyway, I’m curious to see how Tess’s faith might develop over the course of the series.

A big thank you to the author for providing me with an electronic review copy for purposes of this review.

To learn more about Heather Day Gilbert and her books, check out her Web site and Facebook page. You can also connect with her on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Goodreads.