TJ Richards is an audiobook narrator with a love for diverse LGBT+ fiction and damned fine stories!  She is also an LGBT+ activist, National Co-Chair of the LGBT+ Embrace Network, a Trustee for Q:Alliance and on the founding committee for RoundabOUT; Milton Keynes' Inter Company LGBT+ Network.  A busy woman indeed!

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Audiobook Review: Daughter of Dust and Bone by Laini Taylor, Narrated by Khristine Hvam

When Brimstone calls, you always listen.  That’s a lesson that Karou, the blue haired and mysterious art student in Prague, has learned well in her 17 years.  She keeps her two lives separate, practicing her art at school and in her spare time running errands for monsters that live in a shop – a shop that doubles as a portal between earth and “Elsewhere”.  Brimstone and his band of monsters are the closest thing to a family she’s ever known.  Karou has no idea where “Elsewhere” is, or how she came to be part of this strange little family.  She is plagued by the feeling that she isn’t whole, and that secrets are being kept from her.  When the doors to “Elsewhere” start to close forever she is faced with a choice – stay in the earthly life she knows or risk the war-torn world on the other side of the portal?

This book is the first in a trilogy, and sets the scene perfectly for the larger story arc.  Laini Taylor uses beautiful language to weave together the threads of her tale, and expertly pulls the reader in with just the right amount of intrigue and action.  The character’s conflicts are laid out at just the right pace to have the reader crossing their fingers hoping that things work out – and set their heart pounding at the thought that they might not! 

Khristine Hvam was the perfect pick to narrate this book - her inflections, tones and voices were spot on and made it easy for the listener to completely lose themselves in the story.  The production quality of this audiobook was also top notch, without any issues of background noise or poor audio.  Kristine Hvam didn’t just read this book to the listener, but performed it in that way that brought each character to life in their individual uniqueness.

This knockout team of Laini Taylor and Khristin Hvam meant this audiobook easily earned 5 stars, and had this reviewer instantly purchasing the rest of the trilogy to continue the adventure.  But a word of warning, dear listeners, don’t expect to get much sleep when listening to this as you won’t be able to put it down for long!

Audiobook Review: Fortunate Sum by M Ullrich, Narrated by Ruby Rivers

Catherine Carter is a successful and driven financial advisor who aims to find happiness by following her life plan and ticking every goal off her list.  Her next deadline is looming – to find her ideal man and settle down before she turns 30.  Following a chance meeting with a psychic at a birthday party, the skeptical Catherine agrees to a reading and isn’t sure if what she’s told has any value, or is just the vague rantings of a con artist.  But a few things she’s told stick in her head and she starts to wonder what the future holds in store for her and her life plan.  Soon, Catherine agrees to meet with a private client as a financial advisor, and her world gets turned upside down when she meets the outgoing and quirky Imogene Harris, who isn’t keen on letting a perfect stranger help her with her inheritance.  As the women spend more time together their relationship starts to shift from working to flirting, Catherine is faced with a choice – continue following her life plan, or take a leap and follow her heart?

M Ullrich has written a great story with lively and believable characters.  It moves at a rate that keeps the reader begging for more – and never quite able to put it down for long.  At times the story moves in a way that feels like the reader knows what is going to happen next, before the author suddenly throws the trope completely out the window and leaves your head spinning.  It’s refreshing and exciting and utterly addicting.  When the reader inevitably reaches the end of the story, a book hangover is sure to be in store!

The audio format was slightly harder to embrace as the pace of Ruby Rivers' narration felt very rushed in the first half, and there were some issues with sibilance early in the recording.  The speed settled down about half way through the book and the story was so engaging that the listener is likely to forgive this and allow the narrator to find the flow of the story.  And while a few of the character voices were difficult to distinguish from one another when they were speaking in the same scene, one certainly can’t fault the narrator for their enthusiasm to perform the story, and overall it is not an unpleasurable experience. 

The audiobook format of this book earned itself a solid 4 stars, and is well worth a listen.  This reader will definitely be looking for more from this author!