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Norma Miles
The Lovely Miss Granizo – A Short Story “Always the last to be picked." A short story lacked with imagery. The primary school attended by Jemima Barlow years before has long since closed, but the building still runs art classes. Attending one, Jemima recalls her time there, teachers, her friend, fellow students and the parents, including her own. An absolutely delightful slice of personal, but universal, remembrance. Beautifully read by Emma Stanfield, whose performance adds to the experience. With thanks to the rights holder of The Lovely Miss Granizo, who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobooks Unleashed. So much lacked into so little time. Recommended”
The Lipstick Murders “"I love you with all my heart." It was Faye Lynn Johnson's first day as a rookie police officer when the woman's body was found, lipstick lips painted on her left breast but she would be a detective before the case was solved ten years later. Meanwhile there were other killings and there was a vicious rapist at large. The two stories intertwine and the idea is a good one but, sadly, badly presented. Amateurish writing with a mixture of perspectives and tenses, the author seems to pursue one story at the expense of the other only remembering it again later, returning with much repitition. Characterization is plodding and flat but in neither the murder or the raping was the culprit a mystery. The sex scenes, too, we're graphic and unedifying. Narration by Cassandra Arnold helped lift the story, give some life to otherwise flat characters but could not avoid the long repetitive passages or better restructure the story. This book badly needs a good editorial hand and then it could be made into something special. I downloaded The Lipstick Murders as a complimentary copy from Audiobooks Unleashed. My thanks to the rights holder for making it freely available to all who wish to read it. At four and one half hours in it's present state it is too long to be enjoyable beyond the first quarter of the book but there is promise there, hidden in the messy writing”
The Never Mind (The Never Mind Trilogy, Book 1) “"Kiss me, kiss me." A tale of two sisters, twins, physically identical in all but one way: one of them was mute. In a future world ravaged by global warming, to preserve resources for the fit and healthy, deficiency laws required all children with disabilities to be sent, aged six, to special facilities to live out the remainder of their short lived with insufficient, inferior food, health care or education. Refusing to let this happen to one of her daughters, their mother, the queen, plans an escape but dies in the attempt, betrayed by one of the children. Astrid, however, is successfully removed and, after a brief hitch, spends the rest of the book growing into her teens in Never Mind. A strange book, with lots of dialogue, simply written between conversation, a near future fantasy with plenty of low grade action. It is obviously aimed at younger readers, children and young teenagers, presumably, as it is full of character insecuities, instant juvenile crushes, emotional angst, jealousy, tears and wet, sloppy kisses especially as the book progresses beyond Astrid as a young child. There is also an element of super hero, special abilities imbued in both Astrid and her companions, though this is kept mostly in the background and earlier in the story was, for this reader, reminiscent of Raoul Dahl stories like Mathilda. Narration, by Shelley Reece, was clear and well articulated, her voicings differentiated and her rather girlie timbre well suited for a children's book. Not initially pleasing to this readers ear, her performing voice soon became more acceptable and was, overall, good. My thanks to the rights holder and Audio books Unleased who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. Did I enjoy it? Personally, no, not really although some elements were intriguing. I am far too old to be anywhere near the target age group and for me it was too childishly written to transcend the age gap. Indeed, I fear that many young adults would find it unacceptably imature. But it could well be exciting ( and containing that 'yuk' factor ) for children under mid teen. With a little adjustment, it could make an interesting film, too. For this reason, rather than my own preferences, I'm awarding it a star rating of 4.”
Literally Gone “"Jane Austen in Pinecrest." Looking for a lightweight, easy read murder mystery set amidst a Jane Austen small town festival with the protagonists clutching volumes of her works to the chest, grinning amicably and quoting well known lines from her stories? Look no further. This is the book for you. When the husband of the director of the play of Pride and Prejudice, who had been about to star as Mr.D'arcy, is murdered, suspicion falls on several of the recent arrivals, not least the arrogant Tommy, Hollywood star who grew up in the town and had arrived, uninvited, to play D'Arcy himself. Book shop owner, Pepper Brooks investigates, with a little help from new boyfriend, policeman Alex. Narrated by bouncy voiced, Valley accented Anna Caputo, with warmth, expression and humour, this is certainly no literary masterpiece, not even a deep and confusing mystery to be solved, but it is enjoyable fun to brighter the empty hours. My thanks to the rights holder of Literally Gone, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy via Audiobooks Unleashed”
Gold Frankincense and Murder “"My name's Sam." Donna is a pleasant but rather timid maths teacher who helps out each Saturday at her local Food Pantry. Still ever hopeful, but not really expectant, of a budding romence, she was bot h annoyed and upset when her co-worker, Niall, fails to come in for work two weekends in succession. She decides to find out why, but, arriving at his apartment, discovers that he's not there and hasn't been for a week. She also 'discovers' his hunky neighbour and friend, Sam, transferring her obsession from will go him. With his help, she continues to rather clumsily nvestigate the disappearance. This quick and easy to read cozy mystery is fun, totally unbelievable and, occasionally, heavy with Christian message. Narration is by Madison Brightwell, whose deliciously warm voice really helps the story to run. As It is written in the first person Ms.Brightwell really takes on the persona of Donna, and, in so doing, brings her to life. With a bouncy, clear rendering, including differentiated voices for the characters, she gives a good performance although the overlong pauses between chapters initially caused this reader to think that something had gone wrong with the playback. Overall, Gold, Frankincense and Murder, was a very enjoyable short (a little under two and a half hours) cozy mystery, until near the conclusion, which felt rushed, as if the actual crime solving was irrelevant to the action. I received the book as a freely gifted complimentary copy, at my request, from Audiobooks Unleashed. Thank you. It was a lightweight, fun read made special by the narrator”
Hidden in Plain Lies “"As easy as shooting junkies in a barrel." A short story - but so much is effortlessly packed into so short a space. Not a word is unnecessary with clean, lean sentences, Raymond Chandler style. It's 101 AL (After liberation), and a comfort girl has gone missing. The 'lowly detective' in Indianapolis Police Force is handed the missing person case. But there's something about this one that spells danger. Written in the first person, and with a well selected placing of sound effects - dripping water, page turning and so on - the occasional music which comes between sections lopes along, and so does the text. Narration is by Jason Sprinver, whose strong, despite voice carries just the right authority for the part. His delivery is clear, decisive with just the right thing of uncertainty, pace perfect and well modulated with individual voicings for each protagonist. A fine performance. This is a neat little story with immense boundariess, it's 40 minute story delivers character, world situation, adventure, emotion, descriptive location and a glimpse to the future. Superb. I downloaded Hidden in Plain Sight as a freely gifted complimentary audio book from Audiobooks Unleashed. My thanks to the rights holder for making it available to all who request a copy. A step into a different universe and recommended”
The Rough Rider Rendezvous “"One island at a time." Rough Rider Rendezvous is the second short story set in the Liberated Earth universe and is very much an alternate history set just twenty five years after the alien invasion of earth. Amelia Earhart, flying ace, has agreed to one last favour for Winston Churchill. Additionally, we meet Albert Einstein and Lindberg. It's fun writing, visual action. Narration by Rachael Reading is excellent. Her voice matches this reader's perception of Amelia lerfectly, and is warm, yet forceful and resonant, well modulated and expressive. This book was a free download, at my request, from Audiobooks Unleashed. Thank you”
Hard Justice “"No one does anything for free any more." I'm obviously the wrong person to have read this short story, which is, essentially,a romance with a dash of soft porn plus a ghost, disguised as a police thriller. There is little character development what there is is cliched and mundane - admiring his hard muscles and flat abdomen, for example - and the soon-to-be-ex boyfriend seemed singularly unrealistic: abusive and domineering in their year long relationship, he and his partner had not bad sex for months before beating her up. As for the abused heroine just hanging around waiting to be punished - yes, I know people can be victims and find moving on difficult, but where was that ghost when she needed her? No, not for me, though developed differently, this basic idea could have been made tense and exciting. However, as it is, the plot is bland, like the writing. Narration by Miranda Mendius was strong, with good enunciation and inflection, and each character was individually voiced, though a couple were rather uncomfortable listens. She greatly added to the texture of the story. I received a freely gifted complimentary copy of Hard Justice, at my request, from the rights holder via Audiobooks Unleashed. Thank you.”
Final Notice “"More gun sales, more shootings." The near future, and the NRA have a new promotion to boost gun sales: a 20℅ discount for Senior Citizens, to ensure they say, that they are not bullied or left unnoticed. The over 60s have also been targeted to trial a new sports watch with a difference: it can so closely monitor the wearer's bloods and other medical markers, it can accurately predict the day of death from between 10 and 30 days before the event. It is believed to have good commercial value, but first it needs to be thoroughly tested. The story covers several of those selected to wear them and covers the unexpected complication that some people, especially those with access to guns, decide to revenge themselves on receiving their final notice, knowing there cannot be any retribution.I Interesting idea and characters, but, with the exception of the main husband and wife team of Vince and Trudy, most remain fairly two dimensional despite the occasional naturalistic conversation. It does, however, raise major issues in both the political field and, in particular, over the gun lobby. After a good start, the book does become rather plodding: more an ideas book than a thriller, but nevertheless interesting, and narration by Chris Kaprowski certainly helps it along. Always clear and with good intonation and without any fireworks, his is a nice, steady performance. My thanks to the rights holder of Final Notice, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. There is a second book in this series, Final Act, and an excerpt is included at the end of the book as is also a short song by Jackie Morris which should appeal to folk music fans”
Alice Anonymous “"Money can't buy you happiness - but it can buy everything else." Alice, just 17, a runaway orphan, leads a low profile life, living and working with Elsie, the older girl who befriended her when she first came to town. To stay alive, she's done things in the past she's not proud of and knows she must avoid being noticed by the police. So when the store in which she works is attacked, sending her running with the handsome young heir to a security firm fortune, they're on their own - apart from a little help from their friends. Written mostly in the first person from the perspective of Alice, Alice Anonymous is an easy read, fast paced YA thriller, with an intriguing back plot line even if the action is somewhat predictible. The characters are clearly drawn, the love interest present from the beginning and very supportive friends drive the story onwards. Sadly, the latter part of the book feels more clunky than the main body, losing a lot of the mystery which had made the earlier part so compelling. An opening is left for a sequel. The narration by Jeanie Talbot is very good, clear, well modulated and with credible character voicings. A little slow, but this is easi!y remedied by increasing the playback speed to 1.25. I was fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of this enjoyable book, at my request, by the rights holder via Audiobook Unleashed. Thank you. With it's team of late teenage protagonists, this is a mystery thriller that most young readers would find engrossing. Recommended”
Relative Terror “"You're forgetting I'm a woman!" When Dom learns that his sister, the last of his family members or friends, has been attacked in her home and is in intensive care in the hoslital, instead of waiting to talk with the police he decides to run. It looks suspicious, especially to Detective Kent Perry, who is even more convinced that it was Dom who had tried to kill her. Afraid and alone, Dom meets a girl who believes in him and she joins him on his journey to try to prove his innocence. This is a really fun, attention grabbing story from the very first page, a murder mystery thriller that maintains a tight grip on the reader throughout. Character development is not thorough but is sufficient to cast doubts about the probable killer almost to the very end. There are snippy quips and humour as well as fast paced action, too. Narrator Andy Packard's performance is superbly over the top, pure unadulterated melodrama, perfect for this reading and greatly adding to the enjoyment overall. This book is not fine literature, sharing with John Scalzi the 'she said' 'he said' problem, and is not even remotely believable as a real life event, but it is a visual delight for the ears. My thanks to the rights holder of Relative Terror, who made a complimentary copy of this book freely available to download at FABC”
A Shattered Mind “"My new late-night hobby." The nightmare started when he woke up. Stan Watson murdered people in his sleep, but who, or why, he didn't know. And he had to find out. Short, easy listen which was surprisingly engrossing, although the ending was a little uncertain. The writing is mostly strong, clean and graphic, written in the first person for more dramatic effect. With little character development, this is more shadow play than realistic, one step removed - which is, in itself, rather apropriate. The narration by Ann Bumbak, is excellent - well timed, clear, good inflection and delivery - but again, the oddity of choosing a female voice to be the mouthpiece of the male character eludes me. My thanks to the rights holder of A Shattered Mind, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy via Audiobook Unleashed. It was an enjoyable listen but somehow unsatisfactory.”
Ashes Beneath Her “Death comes for all of us ..." Ashes Beneath Her is the third standalone story in the series based on and around the Norther Michigan Asylum. Now that's an area to avoid. A mix of mystery thriller and the paranormal, the book is initially slow moving but the tempo builds as the tensions, and theories, develope. The real beauty of these stories is the excellent character development, the protagonists becoming both real and memorable, eliciting out empathy and keeping the reader involved. And the paranormal is not overly intrusive with some ghostly manifestations, tarot cards and someone's ability to feel the past history of an item through touch. Narration, by Marty Stein, is excellent. She has a velvety voice which is used to good effect, the text well paced and delivered with expression, her character voices individually distinctive and appropriate. Her performance definitely enhances the enjoyment of this book. I was fortunate in being freely gifted with a complimentary copy of Ashes Beneath Her, at my request, by the rights holder via Audiobook Unleashed. Thank you. This is my second book from this series and, though not quite as intriguing as Rag Doll Bones, the previous book I read, it still has a fine, chi!long presence throughout combined with a normality which firmly grips the reader's attention and immagination. Good writing and fine reading. Recommended.”
Friends From The Edge “"Never tell anyone." Four teenagers, three of them friends since childhood before a glamorous 13 years old girl from New York joined the group, spent most of their free time together.for two or so years before tragedy struck and one died. The surviving boy and two girls make a pact never to speak of that day to anyone, not even each other. Each go separate ways until, thirty years later, one of them suddenly receives a message that shows someone else knew the secret they'd been hiding. But who? And why had this person only now revealed the knowledge, and what did this person intend? Whilst the story initially promised a tantalizing mystery, it was written in a bland prose form both colorless and irritating in construction, alternating short chapters between present day happenings and the events leading up to the incident in 1989. A profile of each of the four youngstsrs is given, enough to make all four appear fairly unpleasant without really giving character to any. The final revelation of what happened was long drawn out and tedious, proving ultimately unsatisfying and with too many loose ends left despite an epilogue. The narration, however, was good, lifting the book itself to some extent. Chris Koprowski has a pleasant voice, well modulated, with some definition in separate voices for different protagonists but occasional words were mispronounced and there was a tendency not to leave even a brief gap between chapters which was slightly confusing. I received this book, Friends from the Edge, at my request as a complimentary download from Audiobook Unleashed. My thanks to the rights holder for making it freely available to all at the click of a button. Sadly, however, and despite an intriguing beginning, the time spent on it was wasted, a promise never fulfilled”
All Lies (“Lies” Mystery Thriller Series Book 1) “"They make it look so easy in the movies" A book which started off so well, with expectations of great characters caught up in a thrilling mystery but which was unable to sustain it's good beginnings. With an opening line, "I come from a long line of idiots," it would be hard for a reader not to want to know more and the more, as it is quickly revealed, is intriguing. Del's professor father had recently died, murdered, to be more precise, by a furious husband not happy with dad's dalliance other his wife. And a grandfather had fallen out of a bomb bay in World War II. Plus, it soon becomes obvious that there is a hidden secret in the family history, one concerning hidden treasure about which Del had known nothing but that someone else obviously did, and wanted to know more Lots more. So good start, quirky characters and a treasure hunt. But sadly, as the book progresses the story deteriorates. Despite the exchange of in depth background information, the characters of the main protagonist fail to develop, the sudden switching of opponents loyalties seems ridiculous and the fact that no one could work out what the most valuable part of the treasure sought until late in the book was, frankly, ridiculous given the education and knowledge of the main protagonists. The very first mention should have been enough to send excited quivers down their necks. The most interesting aspect of the story, for this reader, is the inclusion of a best selling author, also the excruciatingly executed love interest, as well as a book written by another of the, now dead, protagonists Shovel idea (sorry). Atherton following the text of the book, narrator Greg Hernandez starts well, his warm sounding voice reading clearly and with expression; though little in the way of individual character voicing, each was still easily differentiated. However, as the story progressed, his narration, too, became more plodding and this reader found the combination of lack of depth from both author and reader made concentration difficult. So, overall, a great start and some excellent ideas but with a continuation which, though fast and furious, failed to convince. My thanks to the rights holder who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy of All Lies, via Audiobook Boom. There was much to enjoy but it could have been a lot better”
The Invisible Man – Unabridged “"I thought I had immunity to do whatever I chose." "What is the good of pride of place when you cannot appear there?" So ponders Griffin after achieving his plottings and four years of work to become invisible. And this was not the only lack of pre-thought: he'd also overlooked that being invisible did not protect the human body from the weather if it turned cold. Disillusioned, he turns murderous. .. The Invisible Man might have been written as a book of horror but now, well over a century after it was written, and with our living daily with far more terrifying ideas than someone on the rampage with little more than anger and a box of matches to work havoc, it really becomes quite a funny story: "His blood be upon his own head." O.K. the guy is a sadistic megalomaniac idiot who just happened to work out how to make a clever serum to bring about what he thought he wanted, but really he's just a sad, pathetic and lonely character who gets into fights... Narration in the audio was by Kevin Theis, who read the text in an appropriately old fashioned 'cinema newsreel' carefully articulated received pronunciation with varying accents in conversation. It feels uncomfortable to hear initially but feels right as the book progresses, especially if playback is speeded up slightly to 1.25. Additionally, there is an ongoing soundtrack, sometimes music but other effects like smashing glass, hanging and knockings, footsteps and crowd voices or gruntings, and this further adds to the atmosphere of, for this reader, hilarity. This is not a favourite read, I have to admit, but it was very easy to hear and enjoy. There are a couple of comments that today would be considered socially inappropriate but, apart from that, this is a story which can be enjoyed by anyone - it is deliciously silly. At my request, I downloaded a freely gifted complimentary copy of The Invisible Man from the the rights holder, via Audiobook Unleashed. Thank you.”
A Shade for Every Season “"What you were is gone for ever." A Shade For Every Season is a book of short stories, very short stories. But there are a lot of them: 73, in total. At least, that is if the five chapters entitled 'Inside' to 'Inside 5' are counted seperately. If taken as one story, the total is 69. With the exception of the title tale (çhapter 30), which is just 8 seconds over, all are under ten minutes in duration. In fact, only 17 are longer than five minutes - so perfect for a quick coffee break listen. The book is divided into four generally themed sections: Ch.2 Part one, Opening salvo Ch.26 Part two, Beginning to feel a lot like Ch.31. Part three, Because sometimes the Monsters win Ch.57 Part four, Down the Last Road And each of these is subdivided into the individual title headings. All have a dark side and a few felt as if they were ideas to be developed into much longer pieces. Many were very atmospheric, a few were predictable, and sometimes there was one which had a twist that this reader didn't see coming. Narration was by J.Stephen who performed well, reading with clarity and good modulation. His slightly downbeat inflection at the endings of the sentences could have been annoying but in this context for well. He individually voiced the characters, too, on the rare occasions of conversation. Overall, his was a performance which enhances the enjoyment of the book. My thanks to the rights holder of A Shade For Every Season, who, at my request freely gifted me with a complimentary copy of the book via Audiobook Unleashed. Creepy, horror shorts are not usually my favoured genre but these were enjoyable, even sometimes thought provoking. Although it would have been good to have included one of two longer pieces, this is certainly an easy read for someone with a busy schedule: there's always time to slip in a two minute tale!”
The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau – Two Book Set! “"Strength is the outcome of need." This audio version of the H.G.Wells classic story is of the original edition which appeared, one hundred + years ago, serialized in a magazine. It has, of course, been subsequently revised, reissued in book and audio format as well as in comic form, and made into several (three?) films. Well's look into the far future still holds an endearing and thrilling idea of what society might become even today. The story of the Time Traveller, telling of his adventures in first person to his disbelieving group of friends, is sociological as well as science fiction, and a good tale. And the traveller himself, together with the group, is introduced, again in the first person, by one of those to whom the adventure is told, so there is an immediacy to the writing, and, although written a long time ago, is still easy to read and enjoy. To ensure so long it has to be good. To inspire so many, it has to be brilliant. And it is. Narrator, Kevin Theis, was an excellent choice for narrator, his voice having the slight stiffness associated with the Victorian era. His reading is immaculate, apart from a single edifying glitch close to the conclusion, and he combines the feel of a time gone by with that of a modern presentation. A fine performance. He is also accompanied by quite, intermittent background sound effects, which help to gentle the overall reading but, really, do not offer much to the reader. They are very quiet and never interfere with the accessibility of the narration. My thanks to Audible Unleashed, from whom, at my request, I received freely gifted complimentary copy. I had previously read The Time Machine many years ago as well as seeing two of the films, but can honestly say that this has been my preferred version. Highly recommended”
When They Come for You “You never need luck when you've already cheated." This is a short series of vignettes following Robbie and his ex wife in the twelve years after an alien invasion. Each fragment, as well as furthering character development, also leaves much to the reader's immagination: a clever use of abbreviated writing. The narration is good, steady, capturing the essence of Robbie's personality as he relates his story in the first person. Heavy use of conversation makes Theo Holland's use of differentiated voices crital. A nice , fitting to the text performance. I was fortunate to be freely gifted a complimentary copy of When They Come for You, at my request, from the rights holder via Audiobooks Unleashed. Thank you. I have read and very much enjoyed several other short pieces by the author, Darwin Lester Ii, and am fast becoming a fan. Quirky, perhaps not for everyone but very visual and different from most post apocalyptic scenarios whether, as here, aliens or zombies. Every time I have been left wanting more. Highly recommended”
Necropolis Tryst “"For me to conceal and you to ponder." Perhaps, not being a sex obsessed teenage misfit, I missed the point of this story. It starts crudely, then adds violence, with constant sexual nuances of lust, longing and screwing suggested throughout. It is well narrated by pleasant!y voiced Mike Carnes, just as it is well written, conjuring mind pictures, a con artist game perpetrated on the reader, littered with name dropping of popular songs, films and books woven into the sentences, like The King and I ("Shall we dance?), Ground Hog Day, Green Eggs and Ham, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Clever, uncomfortable - and definitely not my thing. This short book was a freely gifted, complimentary download, given, at my reqjest, via Audiobooks Unleashed”
Summer Winter Salvage “Humans and nature worked together. Short but well crafted, Summer Winter Salvage takes the reader to another planet somewhere in the vastness of space, to join a mining crew dispatched by management to finish a job left abandoned by a previous team. The tensions within this long together working group are increasingly tangible as is the darkness of the conditions within which they work. Narration by Chip McCullough was good, read with controlled emotion which further enhanced the story. Bleak and uncomfortable, this is still a little S.F gem which I downloaded for free from Audible Unlimited. My thanks to the rights holder”
Outer Red – Part 1: Off The Given Path “Never stray from the path. A female commander is sent to the outer parts of the universe to receive information vital to the peace. She must not fail. Interesting narration by Dana Dae, with the computer AI voiced with broken individual word sentences. This is the first part of a four part serial with variations on fables/fairy stories, short and quick to read. Curious, descriptive, but without much substance. I received this book as a free download from Audible Unlimited”