Tuesday, April 25, 2017

FAST & LOOSE by Stuart Woods Audio Edition

    I always look forward to a story by bestselling author Stuart Woods because I know the action will be fast paced, the plot intriquing and the conclusion satisfying.  Such is certainly the case with Woods's hero Stone Barrington's latest adventure.

    A New York attorney Stone has had many narrow escapes but was ill-prepared for a collision with another larger boat.  He had been anticipating a relaxing cruise aboard his yacht around Maine's Penobscot Bay until the accident.  The only good to come of it was Stone becoming friends with the owners of the other boat - a family of doctors named Carlsson of the famed Carlsson Clinic which had locations in several cities and was known throughout the world.  Their meeting was auspicious for both as Stone wound up helping the Carlsson's put an end to a takeover of their clinic.  This seriously irritated Erik Macher, the fellow who had orchestrated the takeover attempt.

    In fact the evil Macher was so riled that he and his henchmen tried to blow up Stone's manhattan townhouse by planting plastic explosives.  Thanks to a bomb-sniffing dog this didn't happen but led to a showdown between Macher and Stone at a Virginia farmhouse.  Things are never dull when Stone is around,,,,,

    Gifted actor Tony Roberts who has narrated a number of Stone Barrington audiobooks delivers one more stellar performance.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE SHADOW LAND by Elizabeth Kostova Audio Edition

Well remembered for her bestselling novels The Swan Thieves and The Historian this suspenseful novel will simply add to her luster.  Listening to the story as read by four such talented narrators is very much like going to the theater and hearing it read by gifted performers, especially Barrie Kreinik.  She is not only an actor, singer and award winning audio book narrator but also an acting teacher and dialect coach.  Each of her fellow narrators is equally well qualified.

    Author Kostova bgan traveling to Bulgaria to do research just after college - she arrived the week the Berlin Wall fell.  It was there that she met the man she would marry.  Actually, she fell in love twice - with her future husband and with a country she considered battered but beautiful.  Her passion for Bulgaria is evident in her work.

    With The Shadow Land the year is 2008 and 26-year-old Alexandra Boyd has left her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to teach English in Bulgaria.  For her this is a coveted opportunity.  Unfortunately her cabdriver has mistakenly delivered her to a pricey hotel rather than the hostel where she is booked.  As she is in the process of locating another cab she helps an older couple and the attractive man with them into their cab.  In the confusion of cabs she finds that she has one of their satchels.  Inside to her surprise she finds an urn containing the ashes of a man called Stoyan Lazarov.

    Bobby, her English speaking cab driver, reluctantly agrees to take her to the police station where the officer on duty locates an address where they might find the dead man's family.  So, the two set off to find Lazarov's relatives.  As they follow first one lead and then another they learn of the dead man's life - during World War II, the Cold War Era and how his career as a violinist was destroyed when he spent time in a debilitating prison camp.
    Danger threatens when they realize they are being followed by someone who plainly doesn't want some information revealed.  What could it possibly be?


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

PRINCE CHARLES by Sally Bedell Smith Audio Edition

With a number of best-selling biographies to her credit (Elizabeth the Queen, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, etc.) Sally Bedell Smith now gives us the first indepth biography of Prince Charles in 20 years.  Citing exclusive access to interviews with close friends and advisors of Prince Charles this bio is presented as a “multifaceted portrait of Charles and his world - a man more complicated, tragic and compelling than we knew until now.”  Perhaps so.  For this listener Smith was very generous to Camilla while she takes Diana to task.  Be that as it may “Prince Charles” is fascinating listening from start to finish.   

    It is remembered that Charles was but three-years-old when his mother became Queen   As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy she also is said to have a “hands-off” approach to motherhood.  So the picture of Charles as sensitive, lonely and love-starved seems to have early beginnings.  At the age of 8 he was sent to prep school where he was evidently bullied and the object of fun due to his corpulence and prominent ears.  It would seem that a local psychiatrist could offer many explanations for traits he carried into adulthood.

    As a young man he dated many women - none who were considered suitable future queen material.  He struggled to live up to his father’s expectations and sought approval and companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten.  At the same time he was apparently seeking to define himself through
various interests such as organic farming and other environmental issues.  Still Charles remained one of the world’s most eligible young bachelors.  The story is told that when he visited the United States during the Nixon era that the then president was so keen to
match him with his daughter Tricia that he made sure they were always seated next to each other.  Charles returned to England and when he was asked about Tricia he said he found her “plastic and dull.”

    Charles was in love with Camilla Parker Bowles and was devastated when she married another.  Nonetheless, the two remained friends.  It is said that Charles panicked when his 30th birthday approached and he was still unmarried so he quickly proposed to the 20-year-old Diana Spencer.  The world well knows what became of that union.

    Today Charles has been heir to the British throne for 65 years - a lifetime spent waiting for his one job.  It is said there is a sign in one of his rooms reading “Be patient and endure.”  To many he is dull, stoic and greatly overshadowed at one time by the beauteous Diana and now by sons William and Harry and adorable grandchildren.  If those who feel that way listen to Sally Bedell Smith’s story of his life they may well change their minds.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


"The snail carries his house on his back;
Why he does this there's no explaining.
There's no lawn to trim, It's just right for him,
But crowded for entertaining." - GC

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

THE FIFTH ELEMENT by Jergen Brekke

   The Fifth Element If you're one of he countless who relishes mysteries and enjoys puzzles you're in for a seldom found pleasure with The Fifth Element by noted Nordic writer Jorgen Brekke.  .This author has created a sensation not only in his own country but throughout the world with his vaunted tales featuring Police Inspector Odd Singsaker (Where Monsters Dwell, Dreamless).  Now, Brekke raises the bar with a frightening story filled with horrors - drugs, exortion, spousal abuse.

    What may be initially confusing to some all comes together as the tale unfolds.  Brekke seems to have a limitless imagination that not only thoroughly entertains readers but challenges them at the same time. Set against a starkly presented Scandinavian background The Fifth Element is a true treat not only for Nordic crime fans but for crime fans throughout the world.

    Police Inspector Singsaker has been captured, held behind bars on an island off the northern coast of Norway.   He rouses himself, confused to find he is holding a shotgun and there is a corpse next to him.  But what or who brought him to this?  How did he get here?

     A short while earlier his wife, Felicia, had disappeared.  Unbeknown to him she had tried to find her way back to him but had become lost in a snowstorm.  While Odd continues to search for his wife other lives intersect with his - there is a corrupt cop from Oslo, a dishonest college student who has stolen mega amounts of cocaine, and a hit man hired by the drug dealers who have been robbed.  As if this were not enough horrible crimes come to light and terrifying characters who have nothing to lose emerge.

    Brekke has delivered another winner that readers will be unable to put down


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber Audio Edition

If Not for You by Debbie MacomberIf Not for You by Debbie Macomber
     With 170 million books in print and 260K Facebook fans you know Debbie Macomber is a beloved author.  Why?  Because she writes stories that touch our heartstrings and are filled with characters to whom we can relate.  She does it again with If Not For You which is beautifully read by five Earphone Awards winner Khristine Hvam.

    Who among us hasn't at one time or another felt that his or her parents weren't a bit overbearing?  Well, Beth Prudhomme has felt that way in spades - she has literally existed under her parents' thumb for 29 years.  t long last she determines to strike out on her own and moves from Chicago to Portland where she reconnects with her Aunt Sunshine (aptly named we might add.)  Beth finds a job as a high school music teacher and becomes close friends with Nicole Nyquist.  She seems to be comfortably settling in.

    Comfort is no longer an appropriate word when Nicole introduces Beth to Sam.  Saying both are unimpressed is putting it mildly.  Sam is a tattooed mechanic whose idea of a date is a gal who likes to play pool and drink beer - the opposite of a high school music teacher.  While Sam is Beth's parents' worst fear.

    Fate stepped in one evening when Beth was involved in an automobile accident which Sam witnessed.  He stayed with her until help arrived  and then perhaps out of obligation he visited her at the hospital.  That first visit became daily visits simply because he could not stay away.  Both became aware that something might be growing between them.

    This was the quiet before the storm - you'll not want to miss what happens when Beth's mother careens into town spouting harsh opinions of Sam and reopening old wounds with Aunt Sunshine. 

    As is her wont Debbie Macomber creates a conclusion that makes us smile and warms our hearts.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

THE HOLLYWOOD DAUGHTER by Kate Alcott; Read by Erin Spencer Audio Edition

     Hollywood stories abound but perhaps none are as unique as this one.  It's easy to forget how many people, some on the periphery of the movie industry, are affected by the life of a major star.  Case in point is the poignant story of Jesse Malloy.

     She is the daughter Gabriel Malloy, a studio publicist whose career was skyrocketing along with that of his most famous client, Ingrid Bergman.  Thanks to Gabriel's promotion of the movie Casablanca he was able to buy a Beverly Hills mansion complete with pool.  Jesse's mother was a devout Roman Catholic and enrolled her daughter at Saint Ann's, an all-girls Catholic school.  Her time there was peaceful and trouble free.  What was outstanding in Jesse's adolescence were her brief contacts with Bergman whom her father was grooming as not only beautiful and talented but also saintly (thanks to the two movies The Bells Of St. Mary's and Joan Of Arc.)  Jesse's admiration of Bergman verged on adoration when Saint Ann's was chosen s the location for The Bells of Saint Mary's.  Bergman was rapidly embraced, endorsed by the Catholic Church and the dreaded Legion of Decency.

     In retrospect one can only imagine the brouhaha when Bergman leaves her husband for director Roberto Rossellini not just for a dalliance but also bears him a child.  What effect could all of this have had on the adolescent Jesse?  In addition to her personal response we follow her as her family tries to adapt to a dramatic change in Gabriel's career.

     Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O'Brien who is a New York Times bestselling author. Multi talented Erin Spencer delivers a compelling narration.  Her voice is heard on a number of audio books and she has toured the world as a dancer.