Saturday, September 28, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Guide For The Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Dara Horn
Narrator:  Carrington MacDuffie
Unabridged, Length 10 hrs, 34 min
Publisher: AudioGo
Release Date: 9-9-13

Publishers Summary:
A thrilling new novel exploring how memory shapes the soul, by "an astonishing storyteller."
Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented a program that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt's post-revolutionary chaos, Josie is kidnapped - leaving Judith free to usurp her sister's life, including her husband and daughter, while Josie's talent for preserving memories becomes her only hope of escape.
A century earlier, Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor, hunts for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. What he finds will reveal the power and danger of the world Josie's work brings into being - a world where nothing is ever forgotten.
Interweaving stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy, and the digital frontier, A Guide for the Perplexed is a spellbinding tale sure to bring a vast new listener to the acclaimed work of Dara Horn.
©2013 Dara Horn (P)2013 AudioGO

My Thoughts:

The idea of a software that automatically records and preserves memories was intriguing and it reminded me of some of my friends who try to record their life with Facebook and other social media.  It also made me wonder what does happen to our digital life when we are no longer here to monitor or publish our memories?  Of course, in recording our own memories, we add only what we want others to know.  Josie Ashkenazi has invented a software, called Geniza, that records everything and is so precise, it can even make predictions. 

I like a work that leads me to do research and it was interesting to look up Solomon Schechter and his discovery of the rare Hebrew manuscripts (the Cairo Geniza).  However the three story lines left me a bit confused.  I wish it had been a guide for me.  Instead of being spell bound, I was perplexed.  I didn't find the characters to be well developed and had many questions.  Why did Josephine have a nickname (Josie) but Judith did not?  As a Judith who has been called Judy all my life by friends and family, I found that odd.  Could it have been the author's attempt to show the pervasive "Mom loves you best" syndrome?  Why did Judith insist on her sister going to Egypt in the first place?  If it was to take over Josie's life, why did she give it up so readily? Why did Josie forgive her sister so easily?  And why didn't the story end when it should have instead of going on and on like the Energizer bunny?

Carrington MacDuffie's performance was excellent.  She handled the accents and male/female voices perfectly, especially the Scottish twins who would have bored me to tears if I met them in real life.  This was my first experience with her work and I would like to hear more.

I give A Guide for the Perplexed 3.5 for story and 5 stars for narration.

Review copy provided by AudioGo via Audiobook Jukebox.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Audiobook Review: Dream Student

Dream Student: Dreams, Book 1
Author: J.J. DiBendetto
Narrator: Heather Jane Hogan
Unabridged, 11 hrs & 33 min
 Publisher: James J. DiBendetto  7/17/13

Publishers Summary:

What would you do if you could see other people's dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets without them ever knowing?
Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who's got a crush on her.  But when she starts seeing dreams that aren't hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed. 

Dream Student is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams Series.
©2013 James DiBenedetto (P)2013 James DiBenedetto   

My Thoughts:
The idea of seeing other people's dreams got me interested in hearing the audio version of Dream Student.  It's an intriguing concept, seeing into other people's minds by way of their dreams. I loved how Sara met Brian, the young man she fell in love with through meeting him in her dreams and seeing him in his.  Not all her dreams are that pleasant.  Someone is murdering young women, and Sara is terrified when she sees the killer's dreams.  I enjoyed this peek into college life from the prospect of a young girl.  She was experiencing college during the same time period I did - late 1989 through 1990.  I was a commuting adult student working my way through college and always wondering how it was for the young people who got to live on campus. 

 I was a little confused at first.  The story was told in Sara's voice but when the dreams happened I was ejected out of her head and the omniscient voice relayed the dream.  Dreams are probably like that but I wouldn't know.  I don't remember mine.  I sort of wished she would just stay in her head and tell me she was in the dream.  But that's just me.  Once I got over my initial confusion I really enjoyed Dream Student.  The voice of the narrator sounded pleasant and appropriate for the age group.  However, she read at such a slow pace I felt that if I had to listen that slowly I wouldn't  be able to enjoy the story.  I did something I rarely do - I sped up the pace to 1.2x and enjoyed it a bit faster than the 11 hrs & 33 mins. 

Usually I recommend the audio version but in this case I think the print version would be just as enjoyable.  However, I look forward to more in the Dream series in audio format. I give it 4 stars for story and narration.  

Review copy provided by James J. DiBendetto, author and publisher

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Reason to Live: A Marty Singer Mystery Book 1

A Reason to Live 
(A Mary Singer Mystery, Book 1)
Author: Matthew Iden
Narrator: Lloyd Sherr
Unabridged, Length 8 hrs, 10 min
Publisher: Matthew Iden  8/14/13

Publisher's Summary:
 In the late 90s, a bad cop killed a good woman and DC Homicide Detective Marty Singer got to watch as the murderer walked out of the courtroom a free man. Twelve years later, the victim's daughter comes to Marty begging for help: the killer is stalking her now. There's just one problem: Marty's retired...and he's retired because he's battling cancer. But with a second shot at the killer - and a first chance at redemption - Marty's just found…a reason to live.

©2012 Matthew Iden (P)2013 Matthew Iden

My Thoughts:
When I plugged in my earbuds and the oddly familiar voice filled my ears I knew that I would enjoy this audiobook even if the story was ho-hum.  But I was totally hooked by the time I head the voice say, " my day dragged itself across the floor of my life."  The writing is crisp and vivid and the characters wonderfully developed.  I laughed out loud at Marty's description of the paper gown he had to wear in the doctor's office.  I felt a sinking in the pit of my stomach when the symptoms of cancer appeared and he got the diagnosis.  Scary feeling, even second hand.

I love Marty Singer.  He is a hero who agrees to help a scared young woman even when his own life is uncertain due to his battle with cancer.  Amanda's mother was murdered twelve years ago and Singer was one of the investigating officers.  She kept his card all these years and has asked him for help.  It seems the murderer (who got away with it) is back and stalking her.  The mystery and plot twists kept me captivated and entertained all the way to the end. 

This was my first audiobook experience with Lloyd Sherr as narrator.  When I looked him up, I saw why his voice seemed so familiar.  He's a voice over artist that I've heard many times and he's the perfect choice for Marty Singer.  His voice pinned me in the moment, left me feeling the emotions of a man worried about his own life, but also a hero who forgets himself long enough to help someone else.  A Reason to Live is already a five star novel in print but I don't think I would be able to imagine Marty as perfectly as Sherr performed it.  I have always been an avid reader but the added dimension of a voice such as Sherr's adds a wonderful intimacy.   A Reason to Live is a winning combination of mighty fine writing and excellent narration. It's the first in the series and I can't wait to hear more.   I highly recommend A Reason to Live to anyone who loves a good mystery.   You would enjoy it in print but the audiobook is outstanding.   I give it five stars for story, production and narration.

Review copy provided by Matthew Iden, author and publisher.

A Reason to Live is available at and iTunes
Kindle and print versions at