Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney

The Bargain Cover Review of audiobook version of this exciting Regency romance novel narrated by Emma Newman

The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: 2011-04-05
Audible.com Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Zebra Books
Pages: 373 pages
Listening Length: 11 hours and 7 minutes
Source: Purchase
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

I am posting this audiobook review using the format that Audible recommends:

Overall: 5 stars

Performance: 5 stars

Story: 5 stars

Q. If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A. A beautiful aristocrat must wed by her 25th birthday in order to inherit a fortune under the terms of her father's will. With the deadline only days away, in desperation, she makes a mad marriage bargain with an impoverished officer dying of wounds from the Battle of Waterloo, but her presumed immediate widowhood becomes instead a marriage in fact when her convenient husband inconveniently recovers.

Q. What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bargain?

A. I enjoyed the entire course of this highly entertaining "marriage of convenience" plot. The heroine is strong and dynamic, and the hero is intelligent, compassionate, and both physically and ethically strong.

Q. What does Emma Newman bring to the story that you wouldn't experience if you just read the book?

A. For a novel to work well as an audiobook, two factors are essential: (1) It must be exceptionally well written in order to thrive beneath the intense scrutiny of being read out loud at a quarter of the speed it would take a reader to read the book silently to herself. The Bargain definitely passes that test. (2) The narrator must be a very good performer, able to convincingly portray every kind of character, from old to young, male or female, and often different nationalities. Ms. Newman is a fine performer able to deliver these dramatic necessities really well.

Q. Where does The Bargain rank among all the audiobooks you've listened to so far?

A. I listen to such a wide variety of audiobooks across so many different genres, it would be difficult for me to attempt to make that kind of ranking because I would be comparing not just apples to oranges, but bananas and peaches and pears.

Q. Any additional comments?

A. I was delighted to discover this recording, which offers me the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors in the form of an excellent audiobook.

Overall: 5

Performance: 5

Story: 5

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Eight Cousins (Eight Cousins #1) by Louisa May Alcott

Eight Cousins Cover Review of the audiobook version of this beloved children's classic narrated by Barbara Caruso

Eight Cousins (Eight Cousins #1) by Louisa May Alcott

Reading Level: Young Adult
Audible.com Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Recorded Books
Listening Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes
Source: Purchase
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

After obtaining this version of Eight Cousins on Amazon, I followed the link to Audible listed on this product page and got an audiobook version as well at an extremely affordable price.

I am posting this audiobook review using the format that Audible recommends:

Overall: 5 stars

Performance: 5 stars

Story: 5 stars

Q. What made the experience of listening to Eight Cousins the most enjoyable?

A. It is well performed, and it is a book so beautifully written with such appealing content, it stands up very well to being read aloud--which lesser books do not.

Q. What did you like best about this story?

A. The ideas on health and healing, education, and women's role in society expressed by Dr. Alec Campbell are remarkably advanced. He would be very much at home in the company of holistic physicians of the modern world and is a perfect model of a "liberated," feminist male. He is extremely kind, generous, nurturing, and attentive to his sickly, heartbroken, 13-year-old, orphaned niece, Rose, the heroine of this novel.

For readers who enjoy stories rooted in family life, the Campbell clan offers a joyful vision of the many pleasures of being a treasured member of a close-knit, extended family.

Q. Which character - as performed by Barbara Caruso - was your favorite?

A. There were three favorites: Rose, the 13-year-old heroine; Aunt Plenty, Rose's sixty-something great-aunt, and Pokey, a four-year-old little girl. Ms. Caruso is outstanding with female voices of all ages. However, she does not attempt to do male voices authentically, other than to very slightly deepen and roughen her voice to indicate adult males. To be fair, though, in my personal experience, few female narrators do male voices outstandingly, a notable exception being the late Anna Fields (AKA Kate Fleming).

Q. Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A. It made me both laugh and cry. Rose formed important one-on-one relationships with many different relatives and several friends, but the most significant and moving relationships were Rose and Uncle Alec, Rose and the 15-year-old family maid, Phoebe, and Rose and her 15-year-old cousin Mac. I loved the way Uncle Alec encouraged Rose's innate tendency to compassion, and she found frequent opportunities to express her generosity and kindness as she assisted and nurtured Phoebe and Mac.

Q. Any additional comments?

A. It was a huge pleasure to re-experience this book, which I so dearly loved in my childhood and shared with my own children, as an audiobook performance. Hearing it narrated by an excellent voice talent greatly enhanced what was already a long-time love affair with this book.

Overall: 5

Performance: 5

Story: 5

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Thunder & Roses (Fallen Angels #1) by Mary Jo Putney

Thunder & Roses Cover Review of Audiobook narrated by Peter Bishop

Thunder & Roses (Fallen Angels #1) by Mary Jo Putney

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Audible.com Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Mary Jo Putney, Inc.
Pages: 312 pages
Listening Length: 13 hours and 21 minutes
Source: Author
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

I am posting this audiobook review using the format that Audible recommends:

Overall: 5 stars

Performance: 5 stars

Story: 5 stars

Q. If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A. A Welsh Methodist minister's daughter confronts a bitter, half-gypsy earl, who cares nothing for the responsibility he owes to the ancient title he's inherited, and demands that he rescue the local villagers from poverty.

Q. Would you consider the audio edition of Thunder and Roses to be better than the print version?

A. It's an enthralling way to re-experience a classic book by a gifted author. For an audiobook to work well, the book itself must be outstandingly enough written to not just survive but prosper under the microscopic exposure of being read out loud at a quarter of the speed of silent reading to oneself. Thunder and Roses passes that test with flying colors. In addition, the narrator must be a good performer, able to convincingly portray every kind of character, from old to young, male or female, and often different nationalities. Peter Bishop is a terrific vocal performer who delivers fully on all these counts.

Q. Who was your favorite character and why?

A. Nicholas Davies, the half-Gypsy, "Demon" earl, is a wonderful hero. He's a classic, "dark and dangerous," wounded hero. The pairing of him with a Welsh village schoolteacher, the heroine, Clare Morgan, is absolutely wonderful. They are two very strong protagonists who are extremely well matched.

Q. What about Peter Bishop's performance did you like?

A. He has a rich, pleasing voice and, as I mentioned above, he does a great job portraying all types of character personalities.

Q. Any additional comments?

A. I am a long-time, avid fan of Mary Jo Putney, and I was delighted to find such an outstanding audio recording of this book, which is one of my favorite historical romance novels by this brilliant author.

Overall: 5

Performance: 5

Story: 5