📚 The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017

Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Length: 16h 6m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2017

Synopsis: Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic – the Mageus – live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power – and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order – and the Brink – before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ Give me more of this delightful tale! The Last Magician was the first fantasy-ish book I’ve been able to finish in months. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling with the genre for almost a year. I’m counting it as Fantasy because the time travel elements were based in magic, rather than science.

The Last Magician required quite a bit of concentration on my part, which is partially why I’ve been struggling with the genre lately. There were times when the story lulled and my interest dipped, but it could always be regained when more focus was applied. I likely wouldn’t have persevered had the story not been so original.

The more I think about this audiobook, the more I like it. I love time travel and Maxwell’s take on early 1900s New York was positively fascinating and slightly “out of this world”. “Magically delightful” is a good way to describe The Last Magician. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a time travel story that was based in fantasy rather than science-fiction.

Maxwell’s writing made all aspects of the story intriguing to me. I was just as interested in the 19th-century setting and as I was in what was going on in the 20th-century. That’s rare. I usually prefer one time or setting. It helped that Maxwell was able to create interesting backstories for characters in both times.

It also helped that there were a couple of big twists that absolutely blindsided me. Especially because they both came in at times where I thought I had a pretty good grasp on a certain character, only to have that character do a complete 180. The deceit was so well written that neither I nor the main character saw it coming. It was flawlessly executed.

Esta was an excellent main character. I was super fascinated by her ability to manipulate time. Even the secondary characters were well-developed and distinctive. They all stand out in my mind, even a week after finishing the book. The Last Magician definitely scores well on the memorability scale.

This was a wonderful introduction to Lisa Maxwell’s writing style. After hearing it, I’m not only excited for the sequel, but I’m also hopeful that Sweet Unrest will be made into an audiobook soon!

Narration review: I spent half of this audiobook trying to determine where I had heard the narrator’s voice before. It turns out that Candace Thaxton also narrated The Diabolic, which I reviewed late last year and adored. Thaxton’s voice has a rich quality to it that comes across as warm and inviting. It immediately endeared me to the characters. She did a fantastic job of vocally differentiating between the many colorful characters. Thaxton’s performance was highly enjoyable and I hope she sticks around to narrate the next installment. But sooner than that, I plan on browsing the rest of her work to find my next listen. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

📚 Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Midnight, Texas #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017

Narrator: Susan Bennett
Length: 9h 29m
Publisher: Recorded Books⎮2014

Synopsis: From Charlaine Harris, the best-selling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale – populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it. Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’ s a pretty standard dried-up western town. There’ s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’ s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’ s new resident, Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’ s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own). Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth….

4.75 ★ Audiobook⎮ Right now, I am just as happy as can be. I’m curled up on a Saturday night, in comfy pajamas, with a cat in my lap, and having just finished Midnight Crossroad. Even better, I already have the next two installments downloaded and ready to go. This is the sweet spot in a series. I’m already so in love with it and have plenty more to go.

Although not technically considered a cozy mystery, Midnight Crossroad was both cozy and a mystery. Most of the cozy factor comes from the small town appeal. After just one book, Midnight, Texas is already as real to me as my own hometown. And the characters! With names like Fiji, Manfred, Bobo, Lemuel, Madonna, and Creek, these folks weren’t easy to confuse with one another. They all had personalities and occupations just as odd as their names.

I’ve been wanting to get into Charlaine Harris’ books for sometime now. I’ve tried listening to her Sookie Stackhouse series, but wasn’t as intrigued after having already seen the TV show. Midnight Crossroad was a fresh introduction into her writing. Harris’ ability to create a small town atmosphere with memorable characters reminded me of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.

However, Midnight Crossroad was lighter on the paranormal than anything I’ve heard from Briggs. There were paranormal beings, for sure, but Harris focused more on how they inhabit and affect the world on a smaller scale. The world Harris created is very much centered around the town of Midnight, Texas. The isolationist quality she developed enhances the cozy feeling throughout the story.

One could argue that the town itself almost became a character in this story. In fact, it may have been the “main character”, given that the entire series is named after the town. And although there was a lovable group of distinct characters living in Midnight, I’m not sure which of them would otherwise be considered the main character. The story frequently switched points-of-view, so the listener heard from several characters. The POV switches were well done and didn’t disrupt the flow of the story.

I highly recommend this story and this series to anyone who likes Charlaine Harris or the paranormal genre, in general. I’d even recommend it to cozy mystery fans who don’t mind adding a little magic to their mystery. Midnight Crossroad could act as a “starter series” for anyone interested in bridging the gap between Mystery and Paranormal.

Narration review: I’ve never heard anything from Susan Bennett before. In fact, I’ve never even heard of Susan Bennett before.  But she deserves so much credit for making this story cozy and enjoyable. Her voice was inherently warm and inviting, which vibed well with the setting. In that regard, Bennett’s voice is similar to Lorelei King’s (of the Mercy Thompson series). Bennett went above and beyond to provide appropriate character distinction for the many different types of beings found in Midnight, Texas. Furthermore, she added appropriate flair and personality to each of them. Bennett’s performance was a pleasure to hear! ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

🎁 Blood Divine by Greg Howard

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017

Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 9h 6m
Publisher: Anakim Press⎮2017

Synopsis: Cooper Causey spent a lifetime eluding the demons of his youth and suppressing the destructive power inside him. But a disconcerting voicemail lures Cooper back home to the coast of South Carolina and to Warfield—the deserted plantation where his darkness first awakened. While searching for his missing grandmother, Cooper uncovers the truth about his ancestry and becomes a pawn in an ancient war between two supernatural races. In order to protect the only man he’s ever loved, Cooper must embrace the dark power threatening to consume him and choose sides in a deadly war between the righteous and the fallen.

4★ AudiobookBlood Divine has everything that I love. It combines paranormal elements with a Southern Gothic setting. There are witches, ghosts, and vampires. Best of all, it’s a generational tale about a family that carries a coveted supernatural bloodline.

Blood Divine  was the perfect listen for August. August is that weird time of the year when summer is coming to a close and Fall is just around the corner. I love listening to Southern Gothic stories in the heat of the summer and spooky paranormal tales leading up to Halloween. Blood Divine was the ultimate crossroads for those indulgences.

My favorite thing about Blood Divine was the family angle. I love when stories give me the urge to map out a family tree. The Phipps family goes back for generations, several of which are named in the story. Understanding the family is essential to understanding the story. I just thank God there was no incest in this one. Those trees are a nightmare. Sideye: Anne Rice.

I was initially hesitant about Cooper, the protagonist, because he seemed like the love ’em and leave ’em type and there’s only so much of that I can take. Cooper’s character development was a lovely surprise. He was much more palatable after a certain officer of the law entered his life again. I became extremely emotionally invested in their relationship and loved the turn it took near the end. There was the briefest of hints of a love triangle formation, which (given the characters) I would have been more than fine with, but Howard decided to take things in a different direction. In the end, I can see that it was the wisest choice for everyone.

The secondary characters were more prominently portrayed than typical secondary characters. That is to say that they felt like much more than “sidekicks”. It almost seems as if each of them deserves a series of their own. Howard has a knack for developing distinct, individualistic characters. Any one of them could have anchored the story on their own. Because of this, I wanted more from each of them. But because there was so much action, there wasn’t a lot of time for in-depth backstories, which would have considerably slowed the pace. Howard did a fine job of giving just enough information, explicitly or implicitly (through character actions), to keep the listener up to speed. So much of these characters’ personas were shown rather than told. In the case of Blood Divine, actions really were louder than words.

Blood Divine was a very plot driven story. There was a lot going on. Howard spent his time developing the world as a whole and introducing the listener to the various species that inhabit his world. I wish there had been more focus on developing the many interesting characters, but I’ll have to be patient. There’s so much untapped potential here. Blood Divine seems like just the beginning. I can’t wait to see how Greg Howard fleshes this story out.

Narration review: As soon as I saw Gary Furlong listed as the narrator, I knew I had to hear Blood Divine. I loved Furlong’s performance in  Timekeeper. Once again, I was impressed with his ability to provide such varied character distinctions. When reviewing his narration for Timekeeper, I marveled at his ability to trade his natural Irish accent for an English one. After hearing Blood Divine, I feel like Furlong is just showing off. Not only did he perform the entire story with an American accent, but he also performed much of it with a Southern accent! I was only able to catch one word that wasn’t properly pronounced: Aunt. As an Irishman, Furlong most likely had no way of knowing this, but it should be pronounced like “ant”. Don’t ask me why. Other than that, Furlong did a thoroughly convincing job. ♣︎

This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Greg Howard, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Greg!

$ Available at Audible/Amazon

📚 I Can’t Make This Up by Kevin Hart

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017

Narrator: Kevin Hart
Length: 11 hours 14 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios⎮2017

Synopsis: Superstar comedian and Hollywood box-office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: theaforabove, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller.

It begins in North Philadelphia. He was born an accident, unwanted by his parents. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys.

The odds, in short, were stacked against our young hero, just like the odds that are stacked against the release of a new book in this era of social media (where Hart has a following of over 100 million, by the way).

But Kevin Hart, like Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, and Chocolate Droppa before him, was able to defy the odds and turn it around. In his literary debut, he takes the listener on a journey through what his life was, what it is today, and how he’s overcome each challenge to become the man he is today.

And that man happens to be the biggest comedian in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion.

He achieved this not just through hard work, determination, and talent: It was through his unique way of looking at the world. Because just like a book has chapters, Hart sees life as a collection of chapters that each person gets to write for himself or herself.

“Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” he says. “So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?”

4.5★ Audiobook⎮ I can officially say that this was the only time I have ever laughed while listening to the closing credits of an audiobook. That pretty much says it all.

But in case you want more, here it is: This probably goes without saying, but I Can’t Make This Up was downright hilarious. Like, laughed-until-I-cried funny. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, it was written and narrated by Kevin Hart, whom I consider to be one of the funniest people on the planet. What was surprising, however, was the fact that it was more than just funny.

It says as much on the cover with the subtitle “Life Lessons”. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of profundity from Hart. He gives excellent advice in this book. What’s more, it was advice I was able to immediately put into action. Listening to I Can’t Make This Up during the morning put me in the right frame of mind to approach the rest of my day.

That was partially due to the fact that laughter will put anyone in a good mood, but also because Hart makes a point of uplifting the listener, saying things like “There is no need to seek external approval when you already have internal approval”. When I wasn’t laughing, I was nodding my head in agreement. Who knew this guy was so wise?

Hart’s use of humor and casual delivery are bound to reach more people than a regular self-help book would. People like Kevin Hart and you tend to listen to those you like. I Can’t Make This Up is a great way for Kevin Hart to use his talent and notoriety to reach fans on a deeper level.

Even though it was seriously funny, I Can’t Make This Up was so much more than a standup act. If all you’re wanting is the humor, I suggest watching one of his comedy specials. But if you’re interested in getting to know the man behind humor, I Can’t Make This Up is the way to do it. Hart is brutally honest about his family and childhood in Philadelphia, and while it is approached in a humorous manner, the intimacy between Hart and his listeners/fans can’t be missed. He opens up to the audience like never before, sharing incredibly personal details from his life. Hart discusses the highs and the lows, all the while encouraging his listeners to learn from his experiences.

I Can’t Make This Up was over 11 hours long, but it didn’t even feel like half of that. This was such an entertaining and easy listen that the time flew by. This would be an excellent audiobook to hear while driving in the car. Just be sure to pull over if you start laughing too hard.

Narration reviewI Can’t Make This Up just might be one of my favorites listening experiences ever. So much of it felt exclusive to the audio experience. Hart, who also narrated, frequently and obviously went “off script”. These instances, in which Hart talks directly to audiobook listeners, were even more hilarious to me than the scripted humor. Because of that, I can’t imagine the book version holding a candle to this audiobook.

Hart’s narration made I Can’t Make This Up even more similar to his standup shows. He was unapologetically himself. Hart’s natural tonal range aided the narration process dramatically. His voice was captivating and engaging, as only a true performer’s can be. If you’re a fan of Kevin Hart, do yourself a favor and pick up this audiobook. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

📚 The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Lives of the Mayfair Witches #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017

NarratorKate Reading
Length: 50h
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2015

Synopsis: Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of four centuries of witches–a family given to poetry and incest, murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being called Lasher who haunts the Mayfair women..
Moving in time from today’s New Orleans and San Francisco to long-ago Amsterdam and the France of Louis XIV, from the coffee plantations of Port-au-Prince to Civil War New Orleans and back to today, Anne Rice has spun a mesmerizing tale that challenges everything we believe in.

4.75★ Audiobook⎮Finishing The Witching Hour feels like emerging from a cocoon and not knowing where I am or what’s going on. For the past week, The Witching Hour has consumed nearly every waking second of my life. I mean, I was really into it. This was one of the most immersive audiobooks I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. It may wind up being my listening experience of the year.

I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to get into Anne Rice. The hype is real. She is a master. Rice had me in the palm of her hand in a way only Stephen King has been able to do before. Even in the middle of the story, I knew I was experiencing greatness. The Witching Hour was mind-blowingly intense. There were times when I had no idea what was going on and I know Rice designed it that way, like being in the middle of a hurricane or a fever dream.

The characters were beyond complex. These are some of the most well-developed characters I’ve ever experienced. The genealogical structure of the family was intricately detailed and it enthralled the amateur genealogist in me. The family storyline goes back 12 generations, which had me frantically pulling up fan-made family trees. The trees spoiled a little of the story for me, so be warned, if you plan to do the same.

Certain elements of the story reminded me of The Roanoke Girls and others of the Witching Savannah series, both of which I adored. Throw in a little Stephen King-esque horror and you’ve got yourself a winner. This 50-hour audiobook cost me quite a few spaces on my shelf for the month of July, but what good is it to be 12 books ahead of my listening schedule if I can’t indulge in a “whopper” now and then? I may have only completed five audiobooks in July, but The Witching Hour could count for five more on its own.

It felt nice to veer off course for a while and lose myself in this story. I’ve been searching for the perfect “witch” book for some time now and, although The Witching Hour wasn’t quite it, it was close enough. Perhaps the closest I’ve come in the search thus far. My only regret is that I didn’t hear it closer to Halloween. It’s just the type of spooky I prefer. My intention is to hold off on hearing the second and third installments until closer to October, but I make no guarantees. For now, I’m just grateful to have discovered the work of Anne Rice and to have been pulled back from the edge of another listening slump. Nothing revitalizes my passion for audiobooks like a good listen!

Narration review: Oh, Kate Reading! I accredit so much of this magical experience to you. Reading’s narration allowed me to forget that I was being read to or even that I was hearing a story at all. It all became so real. Kate’s performance was among the best I’ve heard. Ever. Her character distinction was par none. It went beyond being able to tell which character was speaking. Reading imbued each character’s voice with their own personality. The distinction was so incredible that I’m still having trouble believing that this was a one-person performance. C’mon Kate, who else was hiding in that booth? ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

📚 The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

The Delphi Trilogy #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Jul. 2017

NarratorKate Rudd
Length: 12h
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2016

Synopsis: It’s never wise to talk to strangers…and that goes double when they’re dead. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan has no choice. Resting on a park bench, touching the turnstile at the Metro station – she never knows where she’ll encounter a ghost. These mental hitchhikers are the reason Anna has been tossed from one foster home and psychiatric institution to the next for most of her life.

When a chance touch leads her to pick up the insistent spirit of a girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is pulled headlong into a deadly conspiracy that extends to the highest levels of government. Facing the forces behind her new hitcher’s death will challenge the barriers, both good and bad, that Anna has erected over the years and shed light on her power’s origins. And when the covert organization seeking to recruit her crosses the line by kidnapping her friend, it will discover just how far Anna is willing to go to bring it down.

4.75★ Audiobook⎮ One can never go wrong with the duo of Rysa Walker and Kate Rudd. I learned that listening lesson last year when hearing The Chronos Files and it still holds true for The Delphi Effect.

I’d had my eye on this particular title before it was even released simply because of Walker and Rudd. The synopsis further convinced me that The Delphi Effect was something I had to hear. It’s a rare audiobook that’s able to stand up to my personal expectations, but this one definitely did.

The Delphi Effect is a glorious crossover combination of the science fiction and paranormal genres. Based on the synopsis, I was expecting more paranormal than science-fiction. The sci-fi elements manifest during the latter half of the story and reminded me a good deal of Lauren Oliver’s Replica; Not the underlying concept, but the institutional setting. So many science fiction stories have institutional settings like this one, so it was refreshing for Walker to combine it with the paranormal aspect of the story.

Walker spends the first half building the story around the main character’s paranormal abilities. My listening tastes have begun to increasingly lean towards paranormal titles in recent months, so that was the main draw for me with The Delphi Effect. I’ve heard plenty of titles about characters who can see and/or communicate with the dead, but Walker’s spin on that concept was completely new to me. The closest thing I can relate the idea of “mental hitchhiking” to is Stephanie Meyer’s The Host (which I also loved!).

I appreciated the element of realism Walker threw into the mix. Anna, the protagonist with paranormal abilities, is treated as an individual with a psychiatric disorder for much of her life. Such infusions of realism always make science-fiction and paranormal stories more relatable and require a little less suspension of disbelief.

Rysa Walker developed the character of Anna in a very realistic and relatable way, outside of her paranormal ability, of course. There were nods to the Harry Potter series (on audiobook!) that further grounded the story in the real world and made the characters even more relatable. This development of character and setting tremendously aided my willingness to follow the plot into science-fiction territory. Without such great development in the first part of the story, much of my interest would have been lost when the slightly less original military conspiracy plot thickened.

The military conspiracy plot in The Delphi Effect was vaguely reminiscent of the religious conspiracy plot in The Chronos Files. I haven’t been a super huge fan of either, but that seems to be Rysa Walker’s thing and she always seems to make it work. I am, however, a super huge fan of Rysa Walker. The Delphi Effect cemented it. If I come to love more than one series from an author, it officially makes me a fan of the author, not just of that series. And seeing how Walker only lives a couple of hours from me, I’m hereby putting “Meet Rysa Walker” on my To-Do list.

Narration review: Kate Rudd is such a reliable narrator. I know I’ve said that before, but it really is one of the highest compliments I can give a narrator. She consistently gives great performances. When I pick up a Kate Rudd audiobook, I don’t have to wonder if I’ll enjoy the narration.

I breathed a sigh of relief when discovering that she was teaming up with Rysa Walker again. Walker obviously knows what a good thing she’s found in Kate Rudd and I can’t blame her for continuing their collaboration. Walker and Rudd are quickly becoming a power duo in the audiobook community. If you see these two together, you know it’s going to be good! ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

🔎 Monday Discovery: Learning Ally

As promised in my Talking Audiobooks interview, today’s discovery is centered around Learning Ally.

I made this discovery a few months ago, but wanted to gather enough information before sharing it with you. This is the kind of discovery that has the potential to change lives.

Learning Ally is a service that provides audiobooks and recorded materials for individuals with disabilities that prevent them from reading print. Learning Ally was formerly known as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, but (as the name change implies) this service can benefit individuals with other disabilities as well.

Before I lose some of you, think about those around you. Even if you aren’t in Learning Ally’s specific audience, someone you know may be.

What qualifies as a “print disability”?

According to Learning Ally, anyone with a “print disability” can qualify for their service. They define a “print disability” as anything that prevents someone from being able to read physical books. Obvious examples include visual impairments (i.e. blindness) and learning disabilities (i.e. dyslexia). However, certain physical disabilities may also qualify. For example, if severe arthritis or another physical condition makes it hard for you (or someone you know) to hold a physical book, it could qualify as a print disability.

Determining Eligibility

I say could qualify because Learning Ally requires documentation to determine eligibility, such as a physician’s note detailing the nature and extent of the disability. There are multiple avenues to determining eligibility. Learning Ally allows certification of a disability to be determined by persons in your community (i.e. an ophthalmologist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, special education instructor, family doctor, physical therapist, or disability services counselor). You can also upload or send in an IEP, if you have one.

What types of books do they have?

They currently have an audiobook selection of over 80,000 titles. They also have the ever elusive audiobook for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Their audiobooks are recorded by real narrators and can be played on iOS and android devices, as well as on assistive technology devices.

Educational Materials

Not only does Learning Ally provide recreational listening, they also make textbooks and other instructional materials available for individuals with disabilities. This information is especially relevant for those who would like to or are currently attending post-secondary schooling (college). As mentioned above, the school’s disability services counselor is qualified to certify individuals with print disabilities as eligible for a Learning Ally membership. If a membership with Learning Ally could benefit you or someone you know as a student, I sincerely urge you to investigate their services.

What does it cost?

Learning Ally charges its individual members an annual fee of $135. That breaks down to $11.25 per month. According to its website, membership fees are used to support Learning Ally, along with donations. A financial assistance program is available to qualifying individuals, which could result in the payment or partial payment of membership fees.

Learning Ally also partners with certain states to provide its services to designated school districts. Click here to find out if your state has partnered with Learning Ally.

More Than Books

Learning Ally is an empowering voice in the disability community. They hold seminars and webinars for parents, teachers, advocates, and individuals. They also provide tools and programs for personal and institutional growth. If you’re the parent, guardian, or educator of individuals with print disabilities, I encourage you to look into Learning Ally as well. As of the 2015/16 school year, there were approximately 10,000 schools using Learning Ally. Although that number is incredible, I think it should be much higher.

How can I help?

Even if none of this directly applies to you, I still believe that those in the book community have a moral obligation to support readers and listeners of all abilities. By extension, shouldn’t we also support an

Narrators, lend your vocal talents to a worthy cause!

organization aiming to make reading more accessible? This is one of the primary reasons I’m such a strong supporter of the audiobook format. Learning Ally has several ways volunteers can become involved in their organization through the recording process and in the community.

Whether you’re a narrator who would like to volunteer your voice, an advocate for the disability community hoping to make a difference, or simply a book enthusiast looking to spread the word about Learning Ally, you can learn more about pitching in here (I’ve already done so!). Of course, boosting this post would also help spread awareness and hopefully reach someone (or several someones) in need of reading assistance.

🎙Talking Audiobooks with Casey Trowbridge

Exciting news: I was interviewed by Casey Trowbridge on the Talking Audiobooks podcast recently and the episode just went live today! It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had since beginning The Audiobookworm and I’m tremendously grateful to Casey and his producer Ken Joy.

If you want to finally hear my voice and learn a little more about me, this is your chance.

Keep an eye out for more about Casey, as I plan to host him on The Audiobookworm in the future! And possibly elsewhere…

And if you like my voice enough, you can hear more of it on my recently launched YouTube channel. Subscribers are welcome (duh)!

Aaaand, since now seems to be the time for a shameless plugs, Be sure to check out:


Happy Friday,


📚 Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Rich #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Jul. 2017

NarratorLynn Chen
Length: 13h 53m
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2013

SynopsisCrazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazilyrich.

4.75★ Audiobook⎮ I’m so glad I decided to start listening to Crazy Rich Asians. It truly is like Gossip Girl, but set in Singapore and way more extreme, if you can believe it. Crazy Rich Asians was unbelievably entertaining.

Crazy Rich Asians had all the drama of a soap opera, complete with unexpected twists. As a soap fan, I ate it up. I found it hilariously funny and delightful, like juicy gossip. It provided a great contrast to Vacation, a more contemplative book I was hearing at the same time. Crazy Rich Asians would make for a delicious poolside tale at whichever summer resort you choose to holiday. Or, you know, your own backyard.

Beginning this series has made me super excited for the upcoming movie. It was fun to be able to envision the cast members as the characters in my head while I listened. Most of the POV characters came across as very distinct. Some of the more minor characters, however, tended to blur together. Being unfamiliar with Chinese naming traditions, I found it a little difficult to grasp the who’s-who until about 75% through the book. It was a overwhelming trying to keep all of the characters and families straight, but still worth it. I ended up finding a family tree graphic on Pinterest that made it a lot easier.

I can’t wait for the movie to be released! I’ve been following the casting news eagerly and can’t wait to see it all come together. Hopefully the second and third installments of the series will also be picked up for the silver screen.

Narration reviewRich is a series that I was absolutely planning to continue on with. After finishing Crazy Rich Asians, I picked up its sequel almost immediately and began listening. I adored Lynn Chenn’s narration, even if it was a little fast-paced at times. As the story went on, I became used to it. She did an excellent job of differentiating between characters and displaying their personalities with her voice. Alas, I understand that narrator swaps have to be made sometimes, but I really wish Lynn could have finished out this series. Her replacement was simply not up to par and I doubt I’ll be able to finish the series because of it. Quelle déception!

However, I do encourage you to give the series a shot. I wholeheartedly recommend the first installment, Crazy Rich Asians, on audiobook. The second two, not so much. Whether you start listening on audio and switch to paperback or just read the entire series, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

📚 Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

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The Beauchamp Family #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Jul. 2017

NarratorKatie Schorr
Length: 7h 51m
Publisher: Hyperion⎮2011

Synopsis: The three Beauchamp women-Joanna and her daughters, Freya and Ingrid-live ordinary lives in mist-shrouded North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. All three are harboring a centuries-old secret: They are powerful witches forbidden to practice magic. But right before Freya’s planned wedding to wealthy Bran Gardiner, a mysterious and attractive man arrives in town and makes Freya question everything. When a young woman turns up dead, it soon becomes clear to all three that it’s time to dust off their wands and fight the dark forces working against them.

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ I finished Witches of East End yesterday and if I had rated it then, it would have been a 4.5 Star audiobook. After a night of reflection, I decided to knock a quarter star off because I’m a little bit miffed with the abrupt direction change the story took in the last fourth-ish of the book.

Before I go there, I should be fair: I enjoyed Witches of East End enough to finish it, give it a pretty favorable rating, and start the second installment. I also enjoyed it enough to foresee myself finishing the series and possibly any other spinoffs. Something about it reminds me of The CW’s show The Originals. I really like Melissa de la Cruz’s writing and I’ve already been researching her other series.

But when something is advertised as a story about witches, I expect for them to actually be…you know, witches. Not Norse goddesses who have magical powers like witches, which is what we’ve got going on here. When that point became clear well into the book, I groaned in disgust. Not because I have anything against Norse goddesses, but because I’m on a perpetual quest to find the perfect book about witches and this was really close to being it. Okay, not perfect. But I have this idea of how witches should be written (close to American Horror Story: Coven) and it doesn’t involve vampires, werewolves, or Norse gods and goddesses. I just want to read about witches. Why is that so difficult?

Rant aside, I rolled with the Norse goddess thing as best I could. I’m not that well-versed on Norse mythology and I haven’t seen any of the Thor movies, but I still appreciated what Melissa de la Cruz was trying to do. Greek mythology is over used in literature, so basing these characters in Norse mythology was a welcomed change. I just wish it had been marketed as such.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Witches of East End was the setting. It’s set in the Hamptons on Long Island and I can’t remember reading another story set there that wasn’t Gossip Girl or the like. The setting itself doesn’t really add much to the paranormal elements of the story, but the atmospheric setting is written well enough to give me a distinct sense of place while listening to the story. It’s definitely more memorable than some fictional Midwestern town would be, even if it doesn’t directly contribute to the paranormal events as somewhere like New Orleans would.

The plot in Witches of East End wasn’t super strong in this installment, but it felt like a first installment should. It was character-driven and laid a good foundation for the rest of the series. I’m really looking forward to being able to watch the television adaptation, assuming Netflix can get it itself together and offer more than the second season. But Until then, I’ll have to be content with listening to the rest of the series.

Narration reviewWitches of East End brought Narrator Katie Schorr to my attention and I’m glad of it. Halfway through the audiobook, I began searching for more of Katie’s titles. Schorr’s ability to appropriately voice three female characters of vastly different age groups and personality types impressed me. Melissa de la Cruz’s writing style jumps between the three characters, often mid chapter and with little to no warning. If it weren’t for Schorr, I wouldn’t have known which way was up. I’m delighted that she is back narrating the second installment. ♣︎


$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon