Aaron P. Lazar

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-30-17

A brilliant mystery-within-a-mystery!

Magpie Murders is the first book I’ve read by Anthony Horowitz. As I read the beautifully written British whodunit, I kept thinking “Oh, yes! This is a series. Previous books are frequently referred to throughout the story, and it looks like there will be eight other books to enjoy when this is over, featuring detective Atticus Pünd.”

How wrong I was!

Three quarters through this delicious mystery, the story stops. It stops DEAD.

A new voice comes onboard, that of the editor who was reportedly working on Magpie Murders, apologizing for telling me that the last two chapters of the book were lost! I’d never know who the murderer was, and I was left feeling really frustrated.

Then, the book continues in the voice of this editor. And it was only after checking online for the story description (I had downloaded the audiobook without reading the Amazon description, LOL), that I realized Susan Ryeland—the editor—is actually a character in the book and that this whole thing was a mystery within a mystery.

I have to tell you, it really shook me up! I assume that was the writer’s intention, and boy, did it work.

First of all, I was relieved that the story would go forward, even if it was with this “outer circle” of characters. I prayed and hoped I’d finally get to read those last two missing chapters. But I was seriously disappointed that all the references to the Atticus Pünd novels were fictional! I wanted to read more!

Regardless, this was indeed a truly clever story. Brilliant clues abounded, and I didn’t guess who the villain was in the inner story or the outer story.

Well done, Mr. Horowitz! I’ll be looking for more books by this very talented author.

Highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar, multi award-winning author.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-21-17

A delightful WWII romantic thriller!

Ms. Poznansky has done it again, but this time—and I don’t say this lightly—she has written my favorite book to date in her stable of literary gems.

Marriage Before Death continues in the Still Life With Memories series, which paints stories of the lives of Lenny and Natasha Kaminsky. (Book 1: My Own Voice, Book 2: The White Piano, Book 3: The Music of Us, Book 4: Dancing with Air)

In this story, Ms. Poznansky eloquently shifts from her previous genre of literary stories full of romance, to a wartime suspense story, still, however, continuing with the love story of our beloved couple.

I have always adored Ms. Poznansky's evocative writing, but this time she whisked me into the era of WWII French Resistance Fighters in 1944. And what an adventure it was! I trembled in my virtual boots beside Lenny when he was captured by Nazi soldiers, “this close” to being executed. He stood in a line of captured soldiers and resistance fighters, waiting to be sent to one group or the other. One group would be immediately hung in the gallows that loomed nearby, the other would be used in some fashion to help the Nazi cause. The tension was riveting.

I listened to the audiobook version of this fascinating story, told by the talented Mr. Don Warrick. His male character voices are outstanding, and his accents—whether it be British, French, German, Jewish, or American, the rendering is brilliant and on target. The female voices aren’t quite as effective, in my humble opinion, but honestly, one can’t fault a deep, stentorian narrator for not being able to completely sound like a woman. ;o)

Thank you, Ms. Poznansky, for allowing us to continue to believe that America still produces great writers who judiciously craft each sentence, and who can tell a great story at the same time.

- Highly recommended by Aaron Lazar, multi award-winning author.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-08-17

A literary gem!

I’ve always enjoyed books by Uvi Poznansky, they are inevitably written with great skill and literary charm. This story is no exception. What astounds me about this series, however, is the amount of incredible research needed to pull off such a feat.

How Ms. Poznansky created such a vivid, detailed, true-to-life account leaves me awestruck. It’s as if she peered inside the Bible, spoke with the characters and witnesses who were there, and then created a realistic and moving portrait of David’s life.

I listened to the audiobook version of this title, and was delighted with the quality and variety of the narrator’s character voices. From young man to elderly King, or from man to woman, Bob Sterry provided distinct and unique voices that made the story with many, many characters easy to follow. He also provided some unique talent during the passages where King David sings, with a rich voice definitely suited to this role.

The most impactful part of listening to this book, however, had to do with the emotions drawn from me during the process. I was literally yelling at characters during my drive to and from work, which must have made for some interesting comments by passers by. I grew to hate Amnon, understand Absalom, and was incredibly frustrated and angry at the main character for not standing up for his own daughter when she was violated. Sure, I know he had reasons, but to me—as a father—these reasons were not even close to sufficient. I felt fury and outrage and empathy and fear. There aren’t too many books that can bring forth such raw emotions in the retelling of Bible stories, are there? (To be clear, I am not very familiar with the original Bible stories which generated this book, and I’m reacting only as a reader of fiction, most certainly not as a Biblical historian.)

In addition to the riveting character studies, The Edge of Revolt is a colorful story that moves forward with tension and suspense, replete with intrigue and war, seduction and betrayal, and filled with spies of varying loyalties drifting through the King’s life.

Ms. Poznansky is a gifted writer in all genres, but this story will stay with me for a very long time. Highly recommended as a learning tool as well as a satisfying fictional listen.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-26-17

A cross-country thriller you can't put down!

Wisdom Spring is one of those books that lingers in your mind and heart long after you've finished the story. I listened to the audiobook version, and was pulled into the lives of Jon Harper and Jessica Norton from page one. I finished listening to it over a week ago, and I'm still missing the characters. Yes, it was that good.

What I loved most about this unpredictable and unique story was not only the great chase scenes, love scenes, deep characterization, and beautifully rendered images of the countryside covering a wild cross-country drive across the States, through Canada, and all the way to Alaska, but it was the author's absolutely pure and beautiful writing style. Easy to read without being overly simplified, yet deep enough to say a lot within a few words, Mr. Cunningham is a supremely talented writer.

I also appreciated the author's ability to avoid being mired in traditional thriller genre rules, and to allow a mystical connection between the female protagonist and a loved one. I appreciated that aspect of this story and how it helped lead the troubled couple to their salvation.

One of my favorite characters was the intellectually challenged man, Clyde, in Alaska who held one of the key clues to solving the mystery of the corrupt politician and the evil empire that backed him. He was just a gem!

Another truly special aspect of Wisdom Spring was the ability of the author to show the pain of loss. Jon, the main character, has lost his daughter and subsequently split up with his wife. He has nothing to live for, is driving forward in a black shroud, and had he not stopped to pick up Jess in the pouring rain, he may not have made it through the day.

I've read several of his other books (Deadly Shore, All Lies, and Fatal Lies) which were also absolutely delightful. I hope to read more. I highly recommend this book to all who love a good suspenseful thriller!

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-23-16

A Lyrical Tour de Force!

Dancing with Air by Uvi Poznansky is a lyrical tour se force set in World War II in England. Poetic, evocative, and at times langorously delicious, the new audiobook version adds even more to the sense of "being there" along side the delightful characters who, by the way, span a series of novels over the course of their lifetimes.

One of the lovely gifts embedded in this series is a collection of beautiful poems set to music to represent songs of the era. Mr. Warrick, the phenomenal narrator of this story, creates some memorable tunes with his amazing voice.

Do yourself a favor and download this romantic adventure. Then sit back, push play, and let the beauty wash over you.

Highly recommended for all book lovers!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-19-16

A true gem!

I wish I had discovered this talented author years ago! Lippman is an outstanding writer, with plenty of "literary gems" gently sprinkled within the prose of the mystery. The characters feel real and the scene setting rings true, setting the reader smack dab in the city of Baltimore - superb local color. In addition, the dialog is very natural-sounding.

The only issue I had was with the narrator, who seemed to rush her words so much that I had a hard time listening at the normal speed. I solved the problem by reducing the speed to 75%, which imparted a lovely, soft, luxurious feel to her voice. I will continue to do this as I go forward through the series now.

I've already started to listen to book #2 and am loving it!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-30-16

Dark, Intriguing Story - Enter a Whole New World!

I've listened to all the Cassie Scott audiobooks and enjoyed them very much. This well-written book features Madison, Cassie's shy, retiring, not-so-confident friend who is blessed with a power of music that simmers within, waiting to be recognized. I always wanted to know more about Madison, and am glad Ms. Amsden decided to write a book dedicated to this character.

Madison has been so badly treated in life that you just wanted to take her in your arms and tell her she really is a wonderful person. Rejected by her horrible father (I wanted to throttle him), a recent beau, and numerous other people, Madison just needs to be loved. She's so sweet... and it broke my heart to get inside her head and feel her emotions.

As the book progressed, I grew to love the girl, in spite of her inability to think straight about her own feelings, especially those involving Scott. My frustration was compounded on Scott's end, because he also rejected or denied his own feelings for Madison. I do believe I yelled at them quite often to "wake up and smell the proverbial coffee!" while listening to the audiobook in my car. But by the most-satisfying culmination of the story, it was all good.

What most amazed me was Christine Amsden's ability to create this world of werewolves and vampires and magic that seemed so very real. The rules, the details, the parsing out of power, the role of the alpha male...all of those elements immediately drew me into the story and I felt as if this whole new world truly could exist, that I just hadn't "discovered" it yet. Very well done, Ms. Amsden!

I enjoyed Ms. Frank's performance. I found the voice she used for Scott and some of the other men in the story to be a little bit too strident or harsh. But I loved the soft, shy voice she chose for Madison. I also really adored her singing voice, especially when she sang, "Hush Little Baby." It was absolutely lovely.

But now what? I want to know more about Madison and Scott's life together, especially after (no spoilers) what happened in the last scene. We can't just leave them here, Ms. Amsden,and I, for one, are hoping you are working on a sequel!

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-16

Dark, Intriguing, Powerful Story - a must listen!

I love books that linger in my mind and soul for days. That's the sign of a great story, isn't it?

Causing Chaos, by Deborah J. Ledford, is one of those books. I've listened to/read three of Ms. Ledford's novels before and always loved them. But this one really grabbed hold of my mind and heart. I do believe this author has written her most powerful novel to date.

Inola Walela is the half-Cherokee cop whose head we are in for the whole book. She's angry. Confused. Torn between two worlds. Worried about her heritage and Native American family and roots, yet devoted to her career as a policewoman. She's a dark, heroic character, full of negative thoughts, suppressing horrific memories, always angry...Yet her devotion to her childhood friend -- native name Falcon -- is deep and authentic when he is accused of his wife's disappearance and possible murder. Sure, she has doubts. She's human. She's a well-trained cop. But she does love Falcon and fights to find and help him.

I loved all the characters: Inola's solid, strong, life partner, Hawk; her feisty, mysterious grandmother with all the bad history they share; the adorable little Wren, so innocent and sweet as she flitted around Inola's grandmother's side; Traegger, Inola's adorable female partner who's about to become an FBI profiler (perfect complement to Inola's personality), but I especially loved Falcon (Paven Navar). Falcon really got to me, and I think part of it was through the brilliant narration that drew out his sense of confusion, innocence, and aching love for his missing wife.

My first impression of the narration by Christina Cox was that it was too low and dark, but in minutes I realized this is the perfect voice for Inola, It matched her thoughts perfectly, and when the new voices arrived--always consistent and always unique--I became a renewed fan of this actor. She did an outstanding job of infusing the appropriate emotion into each character, and she really seemed to link with Inola's spirit.

I'd like to thank Ms. Ledford for an outstanding listen. I received this book for free to review, but would have bought it instantly had I known about it first. Highly recommended listen/read!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-16-16

A Beautifully Narrated Tale of Love and Loss

I read The Music of Us a few months before this audiobook came out, and loved it so much I jumped at the chance to listen to the characters as portrayed by Don Warrick.

Uvi Poznansky is a literary tour de force in a contemporary age when the quality of writing often takes a back seat to the quick thrill, or to be more precise, the quick buck. She writes as she paints, with careful, vibrant strokes of amazing clarity and color. Whether you are a reader or writer, teacher or student, you owe it to yourself read her work. You will be transported to a world where life is examined from a poet’s point of view, where you live in vignettes so real that you can’t help but love and care for the characters.

I have read and listened to all of Poznansky’s work, but this book resonated more deeply with me than all the previous titles, which I truly enjoyed. I suppose it is because I am an inveterate romantic. I ached for the young, “flashback” characters to come together. I shouted at them to wake up and smell the coffee when they missed opportunities to get together, and I reveled in the sweet endings when they finally connected.

The atmosphere of the 1940s is beautifully portrayed, and on a secondary level only to the (mostly) unrequited love story, it was my next treasured experience while reading this book. I loved the sounds and sights of the era, the music, the cars, and the lifestyles so well depicted. It was a fascinating dip into the life of those dynamic times.

Don Warrick is simply amazing. I loved his voice for the main character, Lenny, which was perfect for whatever age the character spoke from, whether middle aged or young. The other characters were amazingly portrayed and consistent throughout the story - Natasha, her annoying but delightful mother, Lenny's Uncle Schmeel, and even the announcer at Carnegie Hall who had me thinking, "Ed Sullivan," by his unique voice and pronunciation. Emotions flowed from Mr. Warrick's voice in such a way that you couldn't help but choke up or feel excited for "him," and the characters. But most surprising was this amazing narrator's singing voice. I loved hearing him sing various snippets of imaginary songs from the forties, and also lullabies sung by Natasha's mother, etc. They were beautifully done and his voice is very enjoyable.

If you are aching for a lyrical listen, for something above and beyond the usual offerings in the field of fiction, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Uvi Poznansky’s The Music of Us.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-22-14

A Literary Gem!

A Peek at Bathsheba: The David Chronicles, Book 2, is a literary gem. Ms. Poznansky has paired her luscious telling of the life of David with a narrator most worthy. Mr. Justin Harmer's voice is liquid gold, with intonations so deft and moving that it's hard to imagine anyone else telling this story.

The story of David continues from Book 1, Rise to Power, through the third of the series, Edge of Revolt, just released. I plan to listen to the last book and hope Mr. Harmer will narrate this one as well.

David, the powerful narcissist who can wipe out entire villages with not a shred of guilt, yet who adores his (many) wives and children with most surprising tenderness, grows from youth to old man within the series. We experience frequent flashbacks or references to his youth in this story as well, which ties his life together very nicely.

I love Ms. Poznansky's evocative writing, and here is just one of many poetic scenes that moved me, describing David watching Bathsheba when she first came to his chambers:

"I sit at the edge of the bed, utterly fascinated by her beauty. Her
lashes are long, they flutter over her cheeks, and her hair waves
around her face with the rhythm of her steps. It glows like copper
under the flaming sconces, but when she crosses in front of the
window it turns blue against the moonshine."

You can call me a romantic, but this scene came alive for me with these and all of the well-chosen words in this novel.

Thank you, Ms. Poznansky, for allowing us to continue to believe that America still has great writers who carefully construct each sentence, and who can tell a great story at the same time.

- Highly recommended by Aaron Lazar

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful