Tag Archives: Oasis Audio

Audiobook Review: Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

In case you didn’t already know, June is Audiobook Month! In case you’re thinking of celebrating by listening to an audiobook, here’s one worth considering.

Title: Annabel Lee
Author: Mike Nappa
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Romy Nordlinger
Published: Print: March 2016; Audio: August 2016
Series: Coffey & Hill, Book 1
Genre: Christian fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Length: Unabridged. 10 hrs, 36 mins

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. The secret’s name is Annabel Lee.

She doesn’t know why her enigmatic uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Miles away in Atlanta, private investigator Trudi Coffey is visited by a mysterious older man calling himself Dr. Smith. He’s been trailing a man for a decade–a man she met through her ex-partner Samuel Hill–and the trail has led him to her office. The last thing Trudi wants to do is to contact Samuel. But it will take both of them to unravel this mystery–before it’s too late.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Mike Nappa’s Annabel Lee strikes me as an unusual novel with uniquely interesting characters. Its plot is quite suspenseful, with ever-present danger and an intriguing mystery to be solved. But be aware, it can also be quite violent at times, so if you’re especially squeamish about blood, consider yourself warned.

In my opinion, Annabel Lee, the Mute, and Dog pretty much stole the show from the series’ lead characters Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill. Annabel’s uniquely child-like yet mature voice and way of looking at the world combined with Mute’s and Dog’s unique lack of voice (yet interesting personalities nonetheless) kept me turning the pages more than anything else. Well, okay, there was also that nagging curiosity about WHY Annabel was in this situation in the first place. And whether everything would turn out okay in the end.

Trudi and Samuel have more than their fair share of baggage as ex-spouses and ex-business-partners, which I presume they’ll continue working through in future installments of this series. I am interested to see where the author will take their relationship in the future, but I have to admit to being a bit annoyed by some of their more petty moments and occasional tactical blunders in this book. I’m hoping to see them get their act a bit more together in The Raven. Which, by the way, has what sounds like another intriguing storyline.

The Christian thread in Annabel Lee seems subtle and well thought out, with a lot of the deeper story coming to fruition within the Epilogue.

Overall, a delightfully unusual offering in this market, and one that I would recommend to fans of mystery and suspense.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Romy Nordlinger, does a fabulous job portraying the voice of a young girl, complete with accent, as well as voicing a variety of male and female characters with nuance and emotion. If you can get a copy of the audiobook, listening will be a treat.

My copy of the audiobook was borrowed from my local library.

Quick Links: Audio Sample | Audible | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Title: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
Author: Beth Moore
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Published: September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Mystery. Christian fiction.
Length: 12 hours, 24 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him—or her grandmother, the ice queen—in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus made my Top Ten List for 2016, with its fascinating local flavor, colorful similes, entertaining characters, and thought provoking themes. It’s a mystery, complete with murder investigation, but it reads more like a work of general fiction, being so much more focused on the characters and their relationships. There’s some romance in the mix as well, though that aspect takes a backseat to other relationships in the story.

The overall book has a gritty and real feel to it, grappling as it does with some challenging situations, and presenting complex and misunderstood characters and relationships. Some of the main characters weren’t so much likeable at first as sympathetic. In fact, I thought Olivia and Jillian were downright prickly at the outset. But they drew me into the story, because of all they were going through, and because of my curiosity to see where the story was headed. And yes, they grew on me quickly, as I got to know them better.

The secondary characters, especially Adella, kept things interesting with their quirky personalities and witty sayings. In fact, some of my favorite parts of this story were the surprising turns of phrase, unexpected comparisons, and vividly idiosyncratic descriptions used in the story, most frequently from Adella’s viewpoint. Here’s just one quick example from Chapter 5: “Over the next solid hour, Olivia spilled more beans than Adella could have shoveled back into a ten-gallon can.”

This novel would make a great choice for book discussion groups. It made me laugh. It made me tear up. And it made me stop and think about brokenness, relationships, and grace.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Shannon McManus, did a great job with this audiobook. Sometimes matter of fact, sometimes wry, the reading has character to match that of the text. From male to female voices, young to old, each character was portrayed with uniquely distinctive variations in voice well suited to their personalities and other characteristics. I highly recommend the audio edition to those who enjoy listening to their books.

I borrowed an electronic copy of this audiobook from my local library and received a free print copy from the publisher as part of a Goodreads giveaway. What a pleasant surprise! I was not expected to write a review, but I wanted to share my thoughts.

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

Audiobook Review: How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Title: How to Catch a Prince
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 3
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: February 2015
Length: 11 hours and 26 minutes, Unabridged

Book Description (from the publisher):

Behind him, beside him, before him, the synchronized cathedral bells began to ring out.

One, two, three . . .

Then she said it first. The words his heart burst to share. “I love you, Stephen. You are my true prince.”

An American heiress and a crown prince seem destined to be together. Will the devastation of war keep them apart forever?

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she’s shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul.

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. His days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command will mark him forever. And he can’t seem to shake their dark shadow.

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind.

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome and find love again?

My Thoughts on the Story:

After having enjoyed the audio editions of Once Upon a Prince and Princess Ever After as much as I did, I wasn’t about to miss out on listening to How to Catch a Prince, the third book in Rachel Hauck’s Royal Wedding series. I’m pleased to say, it lived up to my expectations, and I’m happy to recommend it.

Like the others in this series, How to Catch a Prince has a fairytale feel to it and features a romance plotline revolving around the fictional country of Brighton and its monarchy. But in keeping with what I’ve loved about this series so far, the story, characters, and themes in this installment were unique from those that came before.

This installment features Prince Stephen, a hero we’ve met before, and American heiress Corina Del Rey. Unlike in the earlier books, this romantic couple has a past, one with a lot of emotional baggage that has to be dealt with before they can find their happily ever after. And the theme centers on what it means to love well.

I found the main characters likeable, engaging, and well suited to each other. And the secondary characters were vividly portrayed. Gigi, Adelaide, Brill, and Clive Boston each added something special to the story with their unique personalities and quirks. And the Madeline and Hyacinth show with its hashtag, #HowToCatchAPrince was highly entertaining.

Overall, a fun read with a worthwhile message.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

Eleni Pappageorge ranks among my all-time favorite audiobook narrators. She has an amazing variety of vocal qualities she can employ to give each character a unique voice that is perfectly suited to his or her character. And I love how she injects feeling into her readings through intonation and varied pacing in dialogue and narration. Both British and southern accents are well done and varied from character to character. Let’s just say, if in doubt, the audio edition is the way to go. I could listen to these stories again and again.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Audiobook Review: Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

Title: Price of Privilege
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 13 hours, 7 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2015
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 3

My Thoughts on the Story:

Jessica Dotta’s first two novels set the bar high for this series, with mysterious characters, vivid settings, and plots full of unexpected twists and turns. This final installment wraps up the series in a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion worthy of its predecessors. Taken together, Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege tell a fascinating and intricately woven literary tale.

Having lived in Julia’s head for three books now, I feel like I’ve come to know her well – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I may not agree with many of her actions or even the rationale for her decisions, but both she and her mistakes felt real to me. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and watching her character develop from a passive teenage girl being manipulated into making poor choices, to a more mature woman ready to face the consequences of her actions, embrace God’s grace, and pick up the pieces of her life.

And the supporting cast? So good! Hats off to Edward, Mr. Macy, Jameson, Nancy, Forrester, Lord Pierson, and more, each of whom was drawn in unique and vivid detail. But especially to Lord Isaac Dalry, who was particularly amazing in this book. You must read it to see why. But first read books 1 and 2 if you haven’t read them yet, because this series must be read in order.

Without talking specifics, let me just say that the conclusion packs some real emotional punch. And yes, I cried. But it’s worth the tears for the beautiful, complex story of unmerited love, devotion, and grace. I didn’t see the ending coming, but, looking back on the series as a whole, I can see how the groundwork was laid in bits and pieces from the very beginning. And the artistry of it amazes me.

Specific to the Audiobook:

If you’ve read my earlier reviews from this series, then you already know how much I’ve enjoyed the audio narrations by Amanda McKnight. The character voices, emotional resonance, and subtle details of her performances have been spot on, and this title is no exception. If you enjoy audiobooks or want to give them a try, then the audio editions from this series are not to be missed.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links: About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on: Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Audiobook Review: Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Title: Mark of Distinction
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 12 hours, 47 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: May 2014
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 2

Thoughts on the Story

If you haven’t read the first title (Born of Persuasion) in this three-part series yet, go read that review (and that book or audiobook) before this one, because you HAVE to read this series in order. It’s all sequential like one extra-long story with intermissions between the acts. And once you do read that first one, trust me, you’ll know if this series is for you, and I really doubt there’s much I could say, pro or con, to change your mind about whether to continue with the second book.

That said, here are my thoughts on Book 2 (Mark of Distinction) anyway. Because you’re here. And because I want to share.

In short: Fascinating. Completely and utterly fascinating.

The longer version: Like the earlier book, this one features complex characters, vivid settings, hidden motivations, shifting political and social alliances, and surprising plot twists and turns, all against the backdrop of Victorian society.

I enjoyed seeing Julia’s faith journey continue to play out in this book, as questions and doubts war with personal experience, and she considers the implications faith would have on her future choices. I like the way this aspect of the story is integrated into the tale as a whole, arising naturally from the events taking place in her life.

If Book One had a love triangle, then this one must have a love quadrilateral (Is that even a thing?), making things that much more complicated for Julia and for the reader. Gotta say, the new guy, Lord Dalry is all-around amazing, though the handful of scenes with Edward are some of the best scenes in the book (in my humble opinion). And then we can’t forget the dangerous and alluring Mr. Macy with the potential to spoil everything.

The ending, while satisfying for now, feels like a stopover on the way to the real ending still to come. There are already hints of problems to be faced in Book 3 (Price of Privilege), and I’m intensely curious what else the author will do to shake up her characters’ lives in the final installment and where they’ll end up when it’s all played out. Must. Keep. Reading. :)

Thoughts on the Audio Edition

I have thoroughly enjoyed Amanda McKnight’s performances thus far in this series and I am pleased to see she’s the narrator for Book 3 as well. Her lovely voice and British accent complement the characters quite well, particularly Julia, our heroine and first person narrator. I’ve enjoyed the distinctions between the voices of various characters, as well as the way “stage directions” included in the text are followed in the reading. My favorite example from this book is when Forrester garbles his words around a mouthful of food. A very nice touch on an already excellent performance.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links:  About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on:  Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Audiobook Review: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Title: Born of Persuasion
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Series: Price of Privilege Trilogy, #1
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Genre: Gothic Romance, Inspirational
Published: September 2013

About the Book (from the Tyndale House Publishers web site):

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Absolutely fascinating.  I’ll admit I hadn’t expected to encounter classic Gothic horror in an Inspirational title.  I think that’s part of this book’s charm.  Born of Persuasion is so different from much of what I’ve read in Christian fiction so far, it took me delightfully by surprise.  Mystery, romance, and an undercurrent of danger abound in this novel full of unexpected plot twists, Victorian sensibilities, and uncertain loyalties.

With her own past shrouded in mystery, and with the recent death of her mother under suspicious circumstances, our heroine and first person storyteller, Julia Elliston, begins her tale with a very incomplete picture of her own situation.  She quickly finds herself adrift among people with competing agendas, some wanting to help her, and others wanting to manipulate her for their own gain.  The challenge for her, and for the reader, is determining which is which.

Who can be trusted?  Edward, Julia’s longtime beau who she feels has betrayed her by becoming a vicar, despite knowing how, as an atheist, she feels she’s been mistreated by others in the name of religious fervor?  Her mysterious guardian who intends to send her off to Scotland to work as a Lady’s companion?  Mrs. Windham, the mother of a friend, who offers to provide Julia a small dowry and help her find a husband, albeit not a very prestigious or wealthy one, rather than be sent away?  Lady Foxmore whose lofty connections and questionable methods could procure her a socially desirable husband… for a hefty fee?  Or the wealthy and charming Mr. Macy who has an admittedly sketchy and mysterious past, but who promises Julia safety and security, not to mention social status, if she marries him?

Here’s a favorite quote from the book (Chapter 26, pages 170-1), a conversation about faith between Julia and Edward:

“How can you believe in a God who is so cruel?” I asked.

Edward’s countenance took on an aching look.  He did not have to ask what I meant.  Though the ground was cold and wet, he joined me.  And because he did not rush to answer, because he took the time to consider my viewpoint, I listened when he finally began to speak.

“Imagine the kindest, gentlest man you can.  A man who reaches out to the most wretched and works to restore the undeserving.  No injustice is tolerated, no snobbery, no bickering.”

I eyed Jacob Turner, predicting where Edward was going.

“Now, imagine him a general,” Edward continued, “and off to war.  During this time, all sorts of horrible rumors and distressing reports have reached his home country and his family’s ears.  And while these reports may be true, those who know and love him best can only tell others to keep faith.  There are explanations; surely there are a myriad of reasons that have not yet been revealed.”  He pointed at the cottager.  “Men like him are like that family.  He keeps faith that this isn’t the full story.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him.

“Wait for the ending,” Edward said.

Such a great analogy!  There aren’t very many passages like this, delving into theological issues, but the ones that are included in this book are brief, feel natural, and leave an impression.  Well done.

I loved how the author kept me guessing with complex characters and unexpected plot twists.  And I am intensely curious to learn how Julia’s character and beliefs might develop over the course of this series.  This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with plenty of questions remaining unanswered and secrets yet to be revealed.  Jessica Dotta has crafted a page-turner of a book that leaves me with the feeling I MUST KNOW what’s next.  And just to compound my already intense curiosity, there’s the fact that I know several bloggers who’ve read this series through and been incredibly vocal about how amazing it is.  So yes, I’ll be seeking out Books 2 (Mark of Distinction) and 3 (Price of Privilege) post-haste.

Fans of the works of Austen and the Bronte sisters will likely eat this story up.  As will many readers interested in trying something a little different from the usual Inspirational fiction fare.

Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

I absolutely adored listening to the narrator’s British accent.  Amanda McKnight’s gentle, melodious voice fits the voice I imagine for Julia Elliston, with her sweet and unassuming character, perfectly.  And since this novel is told in Julia’s first person point of view, as though she’s relating her own story, that fit between narrator and character is absolutely essential.  What a great pick to play the role, and what a lovely performance!  I’m a big fan of the poetic quality of Victorian style language, and this narrator’s reading highlights that quality in this text to beautiful effect.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a complimentary electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Audiobook Review: The Promise by Beth Wiseman

Title: The Promise
Author: Beth Wiseman
Print Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Rebecca Gallagher
Genre(s): Christian fiction, romance, suspense
Published: 2014

Summary (from Oasis Audio’s site):

Mallory’s search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal — and danger.

Mallory Hammond is determined that no one will stand in the way of her goal — to save a life. She had that chance years ago, and she failed to take it, leaving her adrift and in search of the real meaning of her life. Finally, she meets a man online from a volatile corner of the world who offers her the chance to find that purpose. But she will have to leave everyone she loves behind in order to take it.

Tate Webber has loved Mallory for many years. He understands that Mallory will never be happy with him until her deepest heart’s desire is satisfied. When Mallory decides to travel across the world to fulfill her dreams, Tate begs her not to go but tries to give her the space she needs. Mallory embarks on her dangerous journey only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. And Mallory can only pray that she will make it out alive.

Inspired by actual events, The Promise is a riveting love story that asks the question: how far will we go for love?

My Thoughts on the Story:

Beth Wiseman’s latest book, The Promise, offers a fascinating glimpse into a lifestyle and a culture a world away from what the main character is accustomed to experiencing at home in America.  It’s also a cautionary tale of what can happen when someone is so fixated on a goal, that they’re willing to see and hear only what they want to be true, rather than critically evaluating a situation and considering the advice of those around them who care about them.

This book takes a bold step outside the proverbial box.  It deals openly with potentially controversial subjects and raises some challenging theological questions.  It doesn’t preach, and it doesn’t provide pat answers.  Instead it presents a cast of characters with a variety of different worldviews and opinions and allows them to slog their way through the messes they find themselves in the best they can.

The Promise kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  The characters felt real and I found myself becoming emotionally invested in their story, which made for some tense moments.  It started with a gut feeling that someone or something wasn’t what they seemed and that things could go south quickly.  And right up to the end, I wasn’t at all sure whether Mallory would survive her (mis)adventure unscathed or not.

Fortunately, by the end of the book, both the romantic and suspense elements wrapped up in a believable and satisfying fashion.  My only regret was that I would have liked to see a bit more spiritual growth on Mallory’s part within the scope of the book, maybe taking another look at the doubts she expressed early on about the faith she was raised in.  But perhaps that’s meant to be a journey for another day… or another book… when her life and immediate wellbeing aren’t hanging in the balance.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would recommend it for readers interested in a thought provoking read a little outside the norm for its genre.  I’m convinced this is the kind of book that would make for some very interesting and lively discussion in a book group.  Just be aware that it does fall on the edgier side of things as far as Christian fiction goes.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

Rebecca Gallagher’s narration of The Promise was lovely.  I was impressed by the accents she used when reading dialogue by characters of Pakistani background, as well as by the way she differentiated the characters’ voices.  Both male and female voices were handled well, and overall, the reading was both clear and pleasant.  I felt that the narrator’s reading subtly reflected the emotions of the characters in each scene, thereby heightening the listener’s connection with the characters.  I would not hesitate to recommend the audio experience.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a review copy of this audiobook.

Audiobook Review: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Title: Princess Ever After
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 2
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2014

If you saw my blog post last week, then you already know how much I loved listening to the audio edition of Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince.  If not, feel free to go check it out now, and then consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss out on future fun.  😉

Okay, back to hear what I thought of the second book in the Royal Wedding series?  Sweet!  Let’s get started.

Book Description (From the Oasis Audio Web site):

Regina Beswick didn’t know she was born to be a princess.

She’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware that a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairy tales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic minister of culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future — and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.

Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide whether she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together — with a little divine intervention — Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Princess Ever After is a delightfully lighthearted read, with some meaningful themes woven in amongst the fun.  Having just finished reading Once Upon a Prince, I spotted a number of parallels between the two stories, but this one still felt fresh, with enough twists and variations on the ordinary girl to princess theme to keep me happily engaged in Regina’s story.  In fact, I’d say the combination of familiar elements with new variations makes this the perfect second book for this series, and I suspect fans will love this one too.

Tanner and Regina make for interesting and relatable main characters, with their flaws, fears, quirks, and dilemmas.  The story also features some great secondary characters, and I particularly enjoyed the passages from Princess Alice’s diary, which gave glimpses into Hessenberg’s past and that of Regina’s family.

I thought the romance went – to borrow a phrase from the book – from “zero to sixty” a bit quickly and I think I might’ve liked to see a little more page time devoted to showing the development of Reggie and Tanner’s feelings toward each other.  That said, this is meant to be a modern day fairy tale, and I do think it fits that bill perfectly despite, or maybe because of the whirlwind romance.  The ending in particular is spectacular in exactly the ways a fairy tale should be, and I was willingly whisked along, enjoying every minute of the ride from beginning to end.

My favorite themes from the book are the ideas of restoration (applied in several contexts) and of overcoming fear of the unknown to take a leap of faith when necessary.  Oh, and the scene in the grand ballroom is pretty spectacular.  You’ll know what I mean when you get to it.  :)

If you enjoy a good lighthearted read every now and again, this book will definitely be worth the read.  Especially if you’re a fan of modern day fairy tales.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

As she did with Once Upon a Prince, Eleni Pappageorge has done a superb job narrating this book.  Her renditions of Tanner’s British-ish accent and Regina’s southern drawl were a delightful complement to an already excellent story.  I particularly liked the narrator’s attention to detail, right down to giving a melody to songs characters sang, and making her voice sound like a character speaking through an intercom when the text called for it.  Book 3 in the series, How to Catch a Prince, is scheduled to release in February 2015, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the audio edition!

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Title: Once Upon a Prince
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 1
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2013

Once Upon a Prince is the first book I’ve read — or listened to — by Rachel Hauck and I want to read more. Starting of course, with Princess Ever After (next in her Royal Wedding series).

Book Description (from Oasis Audio’s Web site):

A royal prince. An ordinary girl. An extraordinary royal wedding.

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by best-selling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess — just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school sweetheart breaks up with her instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

It’s the ultimate choice: his kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?

My Thoughts on the Story:

This sweet contemporary romance is all fairy tale, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The premise itself requires some suspension of disbelief, but the payoff is a fun and lively story complete with a dream-come-true happily ever after ending.

What girl wouldn’t love the idea of being swept off her feet by a prince who’s ready and willing to come to her rescue, who’s not above getting his hands dirty with honest work, and who sees something special in her that even she can’t explain?

From the beaches of St. Simon’s Island, Georgia to the grand ballrooms of Brighton Kingdom, the settings are lovely and really emphasize just how different Nathaniel and Susanna’s backgrounds are.  And to watch each exploring and getting to know the other’s world?  Priceless.

Besides the sweet romance, there’s also a faith thread woven throughout.  Both hero and heroine must rely upon their faith, and recognize the importance of seeking God’s call for their lives and being ready and willing to go and do what He calls them to, even when things don’t seem to be headed in a direction they’d prefer.

Of course, in the end… well, you can probably guess.  But the journey along the way is an entertaining one full of misunderstandings, paparazzi, tricky political entanglements, barbecue ribs, and of course, true love.  Well worth the journey.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

Yes.  Just yes.

If you’re even thinking about going with the audiobook edition of this book, then go for it.  I absolutely loved the contrasting accents the narrator, Eleni Pappageorge used for Susanna and Nathaniel.  From distinctly Southern to classy British, the accents fit the dialog and the characters perfectly and brought them to life for me.  With clear enunciation and excellent pacing, the narrator made listening easy.  Both male and female voices were well done, and the narration blended into the background, highlighting and adding an extra dimension to an already beautiful tale.

Enjoyed this review?  Come back next week for my review of the audio edition of Princess Ever After – next in Rachel Hauck’s Royal Wedding series.  Or consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss a thing!  Meanwhile, what do you think?  Is this a series you’d like to start reading?  Or maybe you already have?  Either way, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.  Or just say hello.  I love hearing from other readers… and listeners!

Audiobook Review: Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

Title: Not in the Heart
Author: Chris Fabry
Narrator: Chris Fabry
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Publishers: Tyndale (print and electronic), and  Oasis Audio (audio)

I was excited to read and review Not in the Heart, because it is the 2013 Christy Award Winner in the Contemporary Standalone Category and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. The copy I read was an audiobook version, checked out and downloaded from my local library, so I’ll be reviewing not only the text of the book itself but also the quality of the recording and its narration.

Summary:

Not in the Heart tells the story of an out of work reporter who is estranged from his family, but is offered an opportunity to reconnect with them as well as earn some money toward paying off his mounting debts by writing the story of a death row inmate. That inmate, Terrell, is a convicted murderer who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s ailing son. But as Truman researches the story, he uncovers evidence that points to Terrell’s innocence. This raises a dilemma for Truman.  If Terrell is proven innocent, Truman’s son could die for lack of a heart transplant, but if Truman says nothing, an innocent man will be executed.

My reaction:

The complicated situations and difficult decisions explored in this book, make it a fascinating read as well as an excellent option for discussion by a book group.

The main character, Truman, is not an easy character to like.  He is a selfish man with a gambling addiction, and he has made a number of bad choices that lead to hurt and problems for him and his family.  And yet, I think the fact that the story is told in the first person from his point of view, helps the reader identify with him and feel for him, despite the negative character traits.  I have to say I enjoyed Truman’s dry and sarcastic sense of humor, which tends to keep things interesting from page one to the end.

What really resonated with me was the surprise twist at the end.  I won’t say what the twist is but I will say that I didn’t see it coming at all, and I thought it fit the rest of the story perfectly.  And yes, I cried at the end.  I couldn’t help it.  In my opinion, Chris Fabry crafted the perfect ending to a fascinating book.  There aren’t many books that I’m tempted to read a second time when there are so many other good books out there remaining to be read, but I am seriously tempted with this one.  It’s such a layered and nuanced story that I imagine a second reading would allow me to pick up on details I may have missed the first time around.  I’m also interested to check out the author’s latest book, Every Waking Moment, which sounds like it should also be an excellent read.

Specific to the audio edition:

About a year ago, I attended a lecture at a library conference where a representative from an audiobook recording studio discussed the audiobook production process at her company. She commented that while many authors wish to narrate their own audiobooks, it’s not usually a good idea.  She prefers to hire professional actors to narrate audiobooks.  In many cases, I think she’s right, but I think this audiobook proved to be an exception to that rule.  Chris Fabry did an amazing job narrating his book.  Perhaps his experience hosting his own radio show came into play.  At any rate, the listener gets to hear the author’s “voice” literally as well as figuratively, and I think in this case it adds to the enjoyment.  The sarcasm and dry humor in the main character’s words comes through loud and clear in the author’s narration.

The various character voices are well differentiated and pleasant to listen to.  Even the female characters’ voices are well done.  When male narrators try too hard to make their female characters sound distinctively female, they can come across sounding nasal or falsetto in a way that no human voice should sound.  Thankfully, that’s not the case here.  Instead female voices are mostly mid-range and sound fairly gender neutral, which in my opinion works perfectly.  You know from context they’re female, but the voice doesn’t get in the way of the story.

Conclusion:

In short, I would highly recommend this book.  If you’re an audiobook fan or you’re looking for listening material for an extended car ride or while doing chores or errands, this one gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  For those who prefer to read in print or ebook format, those editions should be good too.

Links:

Compact disc and downloadable audio editions of this title (as well as print and electronic editions) are available from christianaudio, christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and may also be available from your local library.

Author, Chris Fabry’s Web site includes a blog, links where you can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter, and a link to his Youtube channel featuring book trailers and clips where the author discusses his books.  There’s also a link to a discussion guide that’s not to be missed if you plan to discuss this book with a group.