📚 Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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 Jun. 2017

Narrators: Jorjeana Marie, Bailey Carr, Fiona Hardingham
Length: 6h 20m
Publisher: Harper Audio⎮2017

SynopsisDivided by time. Ignited by a spark.

Kansas, 2065. Adri has secured a slot as a Colonist—one of the lucky few handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.

Oklahoma, 1934. Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine fantasizes about her family’s farmhand, and longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called the Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire—and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life—Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919. In the recovery following the First World War, Lenore struggles with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined.

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ Midnight at the Electric is classified as science-fiction, but that’s a bit misleading. It was really a story about female friendship and sisterhood. The story was told from three different points-of-view and only one of them had elements of science-fiction.

Each of the POVs was interesting in its own right and could have easily become a standalone installment, if Anderson had decided to make this into a series. I almost wish that she had, because each of these women’s stories was powerful enough to warrant closer inspection.

As it was, Jodi Lynn Anderson wove all three of the tales together in a subtly magnificent way. The common denominator between the three POV characters was a 150-year-old turtle named Galapagos. Using Galapagos to tie the three women together was an incredibly unique way to tell a cross-generational story.

I would be tempted to classify Midnight at the Electric as Historical Fiction, since two thirds of it take place in the 1920s and 30s. I was particularly intrigued by Catherine’s point-of-view, set in 1936 Kansas during the dust bowl. I wasn’t overly familiar with the setting, so Catherine’s story was surprisingly enlightening.

Midnight at the Electric was a contemplative listen. Anderson manages to insert minor themes of planet preservation (or lack thereof), leading to the somewhat underwhelming plot of leaving earth to live on Mars. I think Adri’s story, set in the year 2065, had the most potential, but I feel like there was a lot left on the table. Adri was the main protagonist. It was through her that we discover the stories of the other two women through lost letters. Adri is the main reason I feel this story could have been split into installments. She is preparing to go live on Mars (hence the science-fiction classification), but her story is overshadowed by the others.

Another seemingly important point that I think it was deserved more attention was The Electric, itself. If The Electric was important enough to spawn the name of the book, it should have been more essential to the plot. I was disappointed that did not hold more obvious prominence in the story.

However, I was not disappointed by Anderson’s priorities. The romance was minimal and appropriately understated. The prominent theme in Midnight at the Electric was friendship. More than that, Anderson emphasized that being family doesn’t have to mean sharing genetics. Anderson’s message was beautifully and eloquently conveyed.

Midnight at the Electric was a quick and easy listen, though I wouldn’t call it light. There were several times, especially toward the end, where my heartstrings were tugged. I was impressed enough with Jodi Lynn Anderson’s writing that I will be looking into more of her work soon.

Narration review: I chose to listen to Midnight at the Electric because of its narrators and in the end, I think I enjoyed it most because of them. I was already such fans of each of these three narrators individually, that hearing them all work together on a title was Christmas come early. Hiring a trio of narrators was the perfect call for Midnight at the Electric. This is the type of story that could easily have been bungled by too little distinction between POV characters. Marie, Carr, and Hardingham each held their own, remaining true to their respective characters. What’s more, they somehow managed to complement each other. Fantastic job, all around! ♣︎


$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (hardback)


✓ Listen to an audiobook with a narrator that has the same first initial as you (J- Jorjeana Marie)

📚 The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

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 June 2017

Narrator: Julia Roberts
Length: 4h 44m (Abridged)
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2002

Synopsis: Who wouldn’t want this job? Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn’t work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day.

When the Xes’ marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity, and, most important, her sense of humor. Over nine tense months Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance of decorum and power as they test the limits of modern-day servitude.

The Nanny Diaries deftly skewers the manner in which America’s overprivileged raise les petites overprivileged – as if grooming them for a Best in Show competition. Written by two former nannies, this alternately comic and poignant satire punctures the glamour of Manhattan’s upper class.

4.25★ AudiobookThe Nanny Diaries proves that money is a powerful motivator. It’s unthinkable to me that someone would put up with as much as is shown in this story, but I’ve never been in this exact position. I was constantly thinking to myself of what I would do in Nanny’s position, but there really was no right choice. The Nanny Diaries was a story full of moral dilemmas.

I don’t consider myself to be a “kid-person” and hearing about the experiences of a young nanny on the upper Eastside has only strengthened that notion. To be fair, it was the parents who were the worst behaved. I didn’t find The Nanny Diaries to be as comical or entertaining as I think it was supposed to be. Honestly, it annoyed me more than anything else. I was outraged on Nanny’s behalf.

It was wonderfully written and, at times, a bit of lightheartedness peaked through. I chose the abridged version because it was narrated by Julia Roberts and I wanted to check off the “Narrated by famous actor” square on my audio bingo card. Looking back, I wish I had listened to the unabridged version instead. Not only because Roberts’ narration was slightly disappointing (see below), but also because I think much of the comic relief was cut in the abridgment.

The abridged version felt too concentrated. After finishing this audiobook I watched the trailer for the 2007 movie adaptation and realized it was markedly different from what I had just heard. Movie changes are not uncommon, but much of what I saw in the trailer may have been cut during the abridgment instead of the screenwriting process. I suspect the story would have come across as much more balanced and even if I had heard the entire 10 hours, instead of the <5 hour abridged version.

Complaints aside, The Nanny Diaries was an entertaining story. It was fairly easy to listen to and moved along quite quickly. As a listener, I was firmly on the side of the protagonist (“Nanny”), but I occasionally found myself empathizing with the various other characters. The Nanny Diaries managed to show almost every character in a sympathetic light, at one point or another, which gave me conflicting feelings. Who is the real victim here? Is there a victim? Is everyone a victim in some form? Nanny was clearly being extorted. Mrs. X was being cheated on. Ms. Chicago was being used. And poor little Grayer was caught in the middle of it all.

Most fiction stories draw firm lines between Protagonist/Antagonist, Good/Evil. The Nanny Diaries was a mixture of fact and fiction. The authors state upfront that the story was inspired by real experiences, so I assume that is where the multifaceted character depictions stem from, because firm lines between good and bad don’t exist in real life. I frequently had to remind myself that there was an element of truth in the story. From where I sit, the actions of these upper crust characters are seemingly unthinkable. I’m still wondering how much of this story was based in fact and how much of it was embellished for the sake of entertainment. Either way, I can’t think of a better Nanny revenge than writing a best-selling tell-all novel. Hell hath no fury like a nanny scorned!

Narration review: I chose this version of The Nanny Diaries because it boasted America’s sweetheart, Julia Roberts, as its narrator. In the past, I’ve had trouble listening to audiobooks narrated by popular actors, largely because I associate them with external roles. The same was true here, but only to a certain degree. To me, it was always Julia Roberts reading the story. In my mind, she wasn’t able to become “Nanny”. Not because I already know her with an outside character from another show or movie, but because I know her as herself.

She read the part fantastically. Her tone was enjoyable and she was able to adjust it just enough to provide adequate distinction between characters. Instead of “doing voices”, she simply adjusted her own voice (cadence, pace, or pitch) when reading different characters. It worked well enough for me to be able to discern who was speaking, but it wasn’t anything I’d write home about. I guess, because of her acting prowess, I was somehow expecting more from her performance. After all, she was the reason I chose this version of the audiobook. My tip to you is not to be lured in by the prospect of being read to by a famous actor. Instead, choose the unabridged version with the professional narrator. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (Paperback)


✓ Listen to an audiobook narrated by a famous actor

💬 Thursday Thoughts & Opinions: Authors As Narrators

Author narration is bold, but is it worth it?

Most listeners have had experiences hearing author narrated audiobooks, be they positive or negative. In my experience, the majority have been mediocre to negative, which has made me wary of listening to author narration. My general feeling on the subject is “Leave it to the professionals”.

Authors deciding to narrate their own work is a risky decision. It saves money upfront on professional narration services, but could ultimately cost big bucks down the line in sales if their narration isn’t up to snuff. I understand the temptation. Award winning narrators can charge up to $1000 per finished hour. Multiply that by 8-16 hours and it’s enough to make anyone want to cut corners wherever they can.

But professional narrators are called professionals for a reason. In most cases, they’ve had years of vocal training and narrating/acting experience to perfect their art. And it is an art. It’s not as simple as reading words from a page. Let’s be clear here: I am very much pro-narrator. I respect the heck out of what they do enough to realize that it’s a finely honed skill that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Nonfiction audiobooks seem to be the glaring exception here. The nonfiction genre naturally lends itself to author narration, especially where memoirs and autobiographies are concerned. I’ve heard two of Betty White’s memoirs and her colorful narration only enhanced the experiences. The emotion she exuded through the speakers added to my connection with her as an author and public figure. I can’t imagine anyone else having narrated her work.

A more recent positive experience I had with author narration was while listening to AJ Mendez Brooks narrate Crazy Is My Superpower. Whoah, baby. I was surprised shocked at how amazingly Mendez Brooks narrated her own work. She gave it so much life that I could practically feel her presence through my speakers. If every author narrated their work as expertly as Mendez Brooks, there would be no need for this post. I loved her narration so much that I’m now actively rooting for her to quit whatever she’s doing and become a full-time professional narrator.

A perfect comparative example of author narration versus professional narration is A Walk to Remember. Many of you probably recognize it as the 2002 film starring pop singer Mandy Moore. But before it was adapted for the silver screen, it was recorded as an audiobook with author Nicholas Sparks narrating. Here is a sample of Sparks’ 1999 narration and, for comparison, here is a sample of Frank Muller’s 2014 re-recording. The difference in quality is obvious.

A much-hyped YA audiobook was released last year that I had been anticipating for months prior. I became slightly ambivalent about listening to it when I heard it was being narrated by the author, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Ultimately, the author’s narration nearly ruined the story for me. Although it was fiction, the author had a very personal family connection to the story. That connection was enough to make her narrating of the audiobook somewhat relevant and novel.

From that angle, I can see why she would have wanted to do the narration herself. But I still think it was the wrong decision because she was unable to effectively convey the relevancy of her connection to the story through the narration alone. There was no enhancement of the story through her narration, only distraction and detraction.

That’s what’s risked with self-narration, particularly of fiction titles. It’s a bold move, for sure. But, in my opinion as a listener, it rarely pays off.

I’ll admit that my experience with author narrated titles doesn’t go very deep, but that’s primarily due to the reasons explained above. Unless I’ve specifically heard good things about the narration, I’m generally hesitant to start listening to an author narrated Fiction title. But that’s just me.

What about you? What types of experiences have you had with author narration? Do your experiences greatly differ from mine? Which author-narrated titles do you consistently recommend?

📚 Crazy is My Superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks

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 June 2017

Narrator: AJ Mendez Brooks
Length: 8h 11m
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2017

Synopsis: Three-time WWE Diva’s Champion A.J. Brooks’ Crazy is My Superpower is a literary memoir chronicling her unlikely rise from 100-pound nerd growing up in extreme poverty and enduring years of abuse to international sex symbol and professional wrestling champion (known as A.J. Lee). A.J. fought against stereotypes, forced the men in her industry to view her with respect, and inspired a huge fan base of over 2 million Twitter followers with her fierce independent streak.

5★ AudiobookYou may not know this about me, but I grew up watching wrestling. From childhood to the present, watching wrestling with my dad has been a way for us to connect. It’s a childhood pastime that has carried me into adulthood. Until now, it has always been a hobby separate from my book world. Crazy is My Superpower changed that for the better.

Like most fans, I know AJ Mendez Brooks as AJ Lee from her time with WWE. Going into Crazy is My Superpower, I was certain that her career would be the only part of the book to interest me. Wow, was I wrong! Mendez Brooks can tell a fantastic story, no matter the topic. Some people are just born storytellers.

Crazy is My Superpower reads like a journal. If you begin this audiobook, go ahead and put your life on hold for the next eight hours. I was enthralled by Mendez Brooks’ captivating storytelling ability. She definitely had a colorful upbringing, but relays it with humor and compassion. I was surprised by how involved in her early life’s story I became. Although this story will obviously be more appealing to existing fans, it could still interest someone with no idea of Mendez Brooks’ identity or fame.

Not only is Mendez Brooks an excellent storyteller, but her story is one worth sharing. She shares intimate details of her family’s experience with poverty and mental illness, as well as her own. It’s important for someone as idolized as Mendez Brooks to help repudiate the stigmas so often associated with mental illness. She obviously understands the influence someone in her position can have. It’s inspiring to see AJ use her “superpower” (and fame) in such a positive way.

The last 30%-ish of the book focused on Mendez Brooks’ wrestling aspirations and eventual success in the WWE. She discussed her time there and her departure openly. She didn’t seem to pull any punches and was quite frank about a few things, including how the blow up between the company and her husband affected her. She didn’t badmouth the company or skirt the issue, but approached it classily and with humor.

This listening experience has improved my opinion of Mendez Brooks tremendously. Not that it was low prior to this; I just hadn’t really considered her outside of her WWE career. What ever Mendez Brooks decides to do now, I’m sure she will be successful at it. Crazy is My Superpower was so entertaining that I hope she will consider putting out more books. She clearly has a skill for writing and the fan base to see it through.

Narration review: Or…If writing doesn’t work out, she could always try a career in audiobook narration! I know it’s nonfiction, but this was the best author narrated audiobook I’ve ever heard. As much as I love the writing, it’s the narration that I’ve been waiting to rave about. Wowza. I was so super duper impressed with Mendez Brooks’ narration. No joke, she could put a lot of professional narrators out of a job. Her tone, comedic timing, inflection,… everything. It was just FLAWLESS. And can we talk about her vocal distinction? The girl did voices and she did them well.

Her narration made Crazy is My Superpower such a treat to hear. It was like candy for my ears. Narrating her own memoir was totally the right call. No one could hear this and not like her. In fact, I may have fallen in love with her a little while listening to her read. This was an amazing listening experience and I cannot recommend the audiobook enough over the physical version of the book. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (Hardback)


✓ Listen to an audiobook narrated by the author

📚 The House On Tradd Street by Karen White

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.

Tradd Street, Book 1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed June 2017

NarratorAimée Bruneau
Length: 13h 11m
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio, Inc.⎮2008
Synopsis: Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she’s going to have to accept it. An Old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog – and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.

Enter Jack Trenholm, agorgeous writer obsessed with unresolved mysteries. He has no reason to believe that diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden in the house. So he turns the charm on with Melanie, only to discover he’s the smitten one…It turns out Jack’s search has caught the attention of a malevolent ghost. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak – and even murder.

4★ AudiobookJune is here and the weather is heating up. Something about heat and humidity always pushes me toward Southern Lit. I usually pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel, but Karen White has been recommended to me with such emphasis that I had to see what all the fuss was about.

I could say something cheesy about how The House On Tradd Street was as Southern as sipping sweet tea while sitting on a porch swing, but won’t because White already hammered that point home pretty well. The House On Tradd Street wasn’t exactly subtle with its sticky sweet southernality. It was laid on pretty thickly and caused my eyes to roll more than once, but it was certainly true to form.

I usually prefer my Southern Lit to be a little less “on the nose”, but I’m granting The House On Tradd Street a reprieve due to its infusion of Paranormal activity. I love a good ghost story and the fact that White’s protagonist Melanie is able to see ghosts only added it more intrigue to an already compelling mystery. The primary aspect of the mystery was pretty obvious to me from the beginning, but Karen White layered it so well with smaller, intertwining mysteries that I was hooked until the very end.

It’s a testament to Karen White’s writing ability that she was able to hold my interest even though the main question (What happened to Louisa?) was completely obvious to me. I may have known the what, but it was the why that kept me listening. It was fun to hear the story White wove around the main mystery, including bits of history and scandal. This was predominantly a light listen, with darker elements peeking through at times. It was appropriately balanced and I was never afraid to turn out the lights.

The House On Tradd Street is an intriguing and well thought out foundation for the Tradd Street series. Melanie was a likable character and it’s clear that there is much more depth to her that has yet to be revealed. Karen White has put several elements successfully in play, including Melanie’s character development. Her paranormal skill set only makes me like her the more. It’s the main reason I intend on continuing with this series.

I plan to space the next four installments out from now until October. The series has just the amount of “spook” that I prefer for Halloween.

Narration review: A lot of the “sticky sweetness” I described earlier stemmed from Aimée Bruneau’s performance. In most ways, Bruneau portrayed Melanie beautifully and appropriately for a late 30s heroine. Her voice had an elegant and sophisticated tone that was pleasant to hear. She also did a phenomenal job of vocally distinguishing characters, which is always appreciated. Her sense of timing is also to be commended.

I do, however, take issue with her pseudo-southern accent in that it sounded entirely too “put on”. It sounded like how she thought a Southern accent should sound (clichéd Scarlett O’Hara) and was nearly too much to stand. I wish Bruneau would have pulled the accident some. It’s a shame because it marred her otherwise wonderful performance. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository

Jess & Tina’s Super Fun Audiobook Bingo Challenge!

June Is Audiobook Month! How are you celebrating?

I’m honored to announce that Tina from As Told by Tina invited me to present a fun way to celebrate Audiobook Month with her. After a few minutes of brainstorming, we came up with Jess & Tina’s Super Fun Audiobook Bingo Challenge!

The rules are pretty self-explanatory, but Tina did an excellent job of breaking them down, in case you want more insight. The challenge runs for the entire month of June (which starts tomorrow!). The official bingo card can be seen below and I’m linking a more printer-friendly version (black and white) as well.

Color Bingo Card {Download}
Black & White Bingo Card {Download}

The officially recognized hashtag for this challenge is #AudioBingo. Both Tina and I will be keeping an eye on that tag.

In order to make this super fun (and not just regular fun), we invite you to incite a little friendly competition. This is a challenge after all. Throw down the gauntlet to your friends, family, and colleagues. Tag your book friends on social media and encourage them to do the same. I’ve already challenged 10 people on Twitter! Even your book-loving friends may catch the audiobook bug that’s known to go around in June.

To win, you must get three in a row. But for the sake of bragging rights, try to complete the whole card!

Are you already planning your listens for the challenge? I’m anxious to hear what you’ll be listening to. Tag me on Twitter or leave a message in the comments below. I need suggestions for my listening list!

If you’re new to audiobooks or want to try a new service, I recommend Audiobooks.com and Scribd. You can read my reviews of those services here and here.

📚 The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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 May 2017

NarratorBrittany Pressley
Length: 10h 41m
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2017

Synopsis“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end we either run or we die.”

After her mother’s suicide, 15-year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run, too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

4.5★ AudiobookMy most consistent thought while listening to The Roanoke Girls was “This is so f*cked up”. I apologize for offending your sensibilities, but that’s the only way to put it. I had no idea what to expect from The Roanoke Girls and nothing could have prepared me for what it held. Engel’s writing style made the story completely absorbing. It wouldn’t let me go.

But first, let’s get this out-of-the-way: The Roanoke Girls will undoubtedly be upsetting to certain readers/listeners. No amount of delicacy on the author’s part, can soften the fact that The Roanoke Girls focuses on psychological abuse, sexual abuse, incest and suicide. Those aren’t spoilers, just fair warnings.

Even as someone without personal sensitivities to these issues, The Roanoke Girls was still deeply unsettling. I suspect that’s how it was meant to be. You don’t tell this type a story without good reason. It was the most haunting and horrifying a story can be without being classified as Paranormal or Horror. It allows you to slip inside the minds of a sexual predator’s many victims.

The Roanoke Girls was empathically told. Throughout the course of The Roanoke Girls, I began to understand (on a certain level) just how these horrendous acts were able to take place. We tell children that if something like this happens to them, they should confide in someone they trust. But what if that someone is the one doing it? Wouldn’t they trust the reassurances of a beloved family member over the outside world telling them it’s wrong? Of course. And that’s exactly what makes this type of sexual abuse so dangerous.

Amy Engel makes that point subtly, yet emphatically. Engel weaves a web so entangled in naïveté, that even the reader gets caught in it. It’s tempting to want to place blame (or partial blame) on other characters, but it really only belongs on one. The atmosphere of the story is thick and sweet. Its pace is slow, giving you time to process the emotional burden it unloads. The Roanoke Girls is a story that has gotten under my skin and I’m sure it will be there for a while.

Narration reviewThe Roanoke Girls is Brittany Pressley’s best performance yet. I’ve heard her before, but never like this. She’s a perfect match for Engel’s work. Her voice was laden with emotion and varied appropriately from character to character, scene-to-scene. Pressley’s performance gives the audiobook a definite advantage over the traditional book format, making her a valuable asset to this thought-provoking tale. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (Hardback)


🎁 LMAO from A to Z by Amanda Terman

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 Vocab Book Series #2

Goodreads⎮Reviewed May 2017

NarratorAmanda Terman
Length: 36m
Publisher: Amanda Terman⎮2017

SynopsisIn this sequel to the Amazon best-selling vocabulary study guide LOL from A to Z, you’ll find simple definitions and memorable examples of twenty six advanced vocabulary words ranging from “aberrant” to “zephyr.”

Whether you’re a college student who needs to take the graduate school admissions exam, or a professional who enjoys reading the newspaper on the daily commuter train, this book will teach you the words you need to know!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry* . . . and you’ll remember the words!

*Note: You probably won’t actually cry, but you’ll get to laugh at other people crying (I’m looking at you, aspiring supermodel Tyro Bonks!)

4.25★ AudiobookListening to The Vocab Book Series is a quick burst of mental nourishment. It leaves me with a feeling of just having done something good for myself, along the lines of taking vitamins, drinking lots of water, or physical exercise. Listening to LMAO from A to Z is akin to an intellectual workout, only a lot more fun!

If this were a workout, Amanda Terman would be an excellent personal trainer. Just like in LOL from A to Z, she makes the learning routine fun and memorable. The examples she provides aren’t anything I’m soon to forget! True to its name, LMAO from A to Z had me in stitches of laughter by the second vocabulary word (bromide). It takes a certain type of creativity and quirk to invent such colorful vignettes for each vocabulary word. I would love to know Terman’s inspiration behind them.

As much as I enjoyed my initial experience with LOL from A to Z, my time listening to LMAO from A to Z felt more fruitful. The recent addition of an accompanying PDF vocabulary list on the Audible download page increased my overall enjoyment and retention. Listening to LMAO from A to Z isn’t a one-time deal. Repetition is required in order to cement the newly acquired material into long-term memory (which is the goal). Being able to review the PDF vocabulary list goes a long way toward helping the listener to achieve this goal.

The Vocab Book Series is the best vocabulary learning tool I’ve come across. Whether you’re training for a standardized test or just wanting to impress people, Terman has your back.

Narration review: Another thing that gave LMAO from A to Z a slight edge over LOL from A to Z was the narration. Terman narrates both titles, but experience has improved her style. The narration seemed more effortless this time around, which aided the humorous effect. Her tone, enunciation and articulation still clearly said “Listen up!”, while her comedic timing livened the learning experience. ♣︎

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

$ Available at Audible/Amazon

🎁 Goddess by Callista Hunter

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 May 2017

NarratorTami Leah Lacy
Length: 7h 46m
Publisher: Callista Hunter⎮2017

Synopsis:  Olivia is a sixteen-year-old Vestal Virgin, a happy devotee of her beloved goddess Vesta in her home nation of Parcae. But when her faith in Vesta is shaken, Olivia illegally experiments with her own divine power, making a discovery that could save her country from war – if she’s brave enough to share it.

After an accidental revelation proves Vesta is fake, Olivia and her fellow Virgins are tempted by a charismatic academy boy, Cassius, to invoke the real gods. Although they risk death if they are discovered, Olivia and her friends test their skills in secret experiments. But their games take an unexpected turn when flighty blonde Lucia reveals surprisingly deadly powers.

Gaius, a brilliant military student, must protect the girls and plan for war against an enemy nation while ignoring his growing attachment to Olivia. As a Vestal Virgin she has taken a holy vow of chastity, and the consequences of breaking it are severe.

4.25★ AudiobookGoddess was so much more than I was expecting. It was a delightful story set in Ancient Rome. Goddess was filled with political and religious intrigue, accompanied by an empowering message of feminine strength.

Calista Hunter’s stellar writing set the ancient scene beautifully, while still throwing in modern flair via the dialogue. Goddess‘s message is especially appropriate for teens 14+ and would serve as a great entry point into Ancient Roman mythology for young readers. The characters were engaging and distinct. I wasn’t drawn to one singular character, but the group of characters and the way they rounded each other out was most appealing.

The religious aspect of the story was heartbreaking. The main character, Olivia, experiences a “crisis of faith” after learning that the goddess she has devoted her life to serving was an invention of the patriarchy. Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth, was invented by men to keep women devoted to “womanly duties”. Many people have been in Olivia’s shoes, having had their fath shaken or shattered, which is why I think her story resonates so strongly.

Even if Vesta was fictionalized, the remaining gods were very real, which brought an element of fantasy to Goddess. It was easy to slip into the plot through the eyes of Callista Hunter’s well-defined characters. There was an excellent amount of action throughout Goddess, with acutely shocking plot twists peppered in along the way.

Hunter showed excellent skill by elongating the overarching plot to encompass several “mini-adventures” and then weaving everything back into the primary plot. Every time it fell like the story was tapering off nicely, Hunter found a way to revive it for another go. This type of storytelling makes me wish that Goddess was being extended into a series. Callista Hunter has something really neat here and I’m not sure I’m ready to see it end in a stand-alone novel.

Narration review: Tami Leah Lacy made this listening experience even more enjoyable. Her voice itself was extremely pleasant to hear. She appropriately varied her vocalizations to match each character’s personality and status, which added another dimension to the characters. A dimension which the physical book would not have been able to provide. There were minor quality issues throughout, which became more noticeable as the audiobook went on. The sound level frequently faded in and out, often mid-sentence. Tami Leah Lacy seems to be an extremely talented performer, but I would hire a sound engineer next time. ♣︎

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

$ Available at Audible/Amazon

📚 Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

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Alpha and Omega #1

Goodreads⎮Reviewed May 2017

NarratorHolter Graham
Length: 10h 6m
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2009

SynopsisAnna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member – and as his mate.

4.25★ AudiobookMy discovery and subsequent love of Patricia Briggs through her Mercy Thompson series, led me to Cry Wolf. Although it didn’t pack the same type of punch, Cry Wolf  was a nice accompaniment to the Mercy Thompson series.

To be honest, Cry Wolf didn’t resonate with me as much as its prequel novella Alpha and Omega. At the center of Cry Wolf is a love story. There’s all sorts of action surrounding it, but it’s still about Charles and Anna at the end of the day. I would categorize the Mercy Thompson series as firmly Paranormal, but the Alpha and Omega series is definitely Paranormal Romance (PNR).

My taste tends to lean more towards Paranormal than PNR, but Patricia Briggs’ excellent writing and world building persuaded me to make an exception. Both series exist within the same universe. Sam Cornick is a prominent character in the Mercy Thompson series and his brother Charles is a main character in the Alpha and Omega series.

Charles’ mate, Anna, is an Omega wolf. Omegas are rare and have special calming powers over all wolves. They are often confused for submissive wolves. That’s about as far as my current understanding of Omega wolves goes. Briggs did a wonderful job of balancing this new information with the action and romance of the story. I was given enough information to understand the basic importance of Omegas, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed.

We got to see something in Cry Wolf  that I’ve been itching for a recent Mercy Thompson books: Witches. Several species of paranormal creatures are featured in Mercy Thompson’s series, but witches are mostly left in the shadows. Cry Wolf brings them to center stage.

Even though I was super excited to have a witch villain in this story, something about it left me underwhelmed. I suspect that Cry Wolf may have introduced too much new content, without the cushion of familiarity. There was only the slimmest of connections to Mercy Thompson and the characters I’ve come to love. I appreciate that this is a new and fresh series, so I suppose I’ll have to be patient until I develop more organic feelings for the characters of Charles and Anna.

I could easily love Charles (more than Sam!), but I’m still warming to Anna. I cannot understand why she has been mistaken as a submissive wealth, since she is coming off as a submissive character. However, having read the prequel to this installment, and I also understand why she is behaving that way. I’m truly hoping that she will begin to come into her own as the series progresses. There is so much room for character growth with her.

This is a series that I’m interested in eventually continuing on with, but I’m not yet hooked. There’s certainly the potential for it though! I can imagine that PNR fans could fall even more deeply in love with this series than I did with Mercy.

Narration review: Holter Graham gave a respectable performance in Cry Wolf. He was definitely the right call to narrate this series. I get such a clear mental image of Charles Cornick whenever Graham voices him. His vocalizations of the female characters do not seem strained or out of his range and he has a great grasp on the emotions in the story. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (paperback)