Audiobook Review: Spare read by Prince Harry. Ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer #royalfamily #MeghanMarkle



Spare was a revelation to me. All of the little snippets taken out of the book and posted, mostly out of context, by the media, looked very different inside the actual book, which was extremely well written by the ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer.  I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Prince Harry, who did a wonderful job. It absolutely lays open Prince Harry’s life, good and bad, for all to see.   The main message of this book is how the paparazzi have irrevocably changed, invaded, and tried to ruin a young man’s life, all to make money for themselves. And they do it unflinchingly over and over.  When the book came out, the snippets posted and spun by the media led to a lot of people saying they would never read the book.  That was what the media wanted, for this book is a complete condemnation of them, and it reveals their nature and true practices. Their efforts seem to have failed, as this book sold 3.2 million copies worldwide in its first week.

 It was also really brought home to me how the royal family is a corporation first, and family comes a distant second.   I learned how the royals are treated by the paparazzi, and how the courtiers work with the media and the “paps,” as Prince Harry calls them, to create stories out of thin air.  I learned that different offices within the palace would sacrifice other family members to make their chosen royal look better, especially Charles and Camilla’s office.  Diana used to say that Charles was outraged by her popularity and Harry says it again here.  Charles and Camilla cannot bear for anyone to be more popular than they are, and their courtiers will make sure of it.  Hearing this, It is easy for me to believe that Camilla is still behind the scenes pulling strings, because that’s what she did to Diana all those years ago. Diana famously said there were three people in her marriage, which Camilla had invaded and controlled before it even began.

The most heartbreaking scene in this book is when Harry asked for the police investigation photos of his mother’s death and was going through them.  Here are his words below.

“At last I came to the photos of Mummy.  There were lights around her, auras, almost halos. How strange.  The color of the lights was the same color as her hair—golden.  I didn’t know what the lights were, I couldn’t imagine, although I came up with all sorts of supernatural explanations.  As I realized their true origin, my stomach clenched.  Flashes.  They were flashes.  And within some of the flashes were ghostly visages, and half visages, paps and reflected paps and refracted paps on all the smooth metal surfaces and glass windscreens.  Those men who’d chased her… they’d never stopped shooting her while she lay between the seats, unconscious, or semi-conscious, and in their frenzy they’d sometimes photographed each other.  Not one of them was checking on her, offering her help, not even comforting her.  They were just shooting, shooting, shooting.”

Harry shares his disgust that in the official investigation, the accident was blamed solely on the deceased driver, who it was reported had been drinking, and not at all on the paparazzi chasing Diana.

I really appreciated the honesty in this book.  Harry doesn’t flinch from revealing that he has used drugs and talks about all of the famous, negative stories about him. He refutes a lot of the stories, positive, and negative, that the media has simply made up out of thin air. He admits to the ones that are true. He apologizes for the things he did wrong. 

He talks a lot about his military service and how proud he is of his country.  He praises the people he served with.  The media simply says of all of his military service that he spoke about killing 25 Taliban.  While he does discuss this, it is in a professional way over many chapters.  The media crows that his words enraged the Taliban.   It was really the media that did this with their reaction to this book, aimed at keeping people from reading it in my opinion.  They completely reduced his military service to this headline, and it is an outrage. Readers will realize it at once when they read the many chapters he devotes to the military.

Another thing that is made evident is the control that the family has over all of its members.  Charles controls the funds for both William and Harry, who had no money of his own except a sum left to him by his mother.   Harry had to ask permission for even the smallest of things.  He even had to ask the Queen permission to have a beard when he got married.  The Queen granted his request, which became a problem between himself and William because William was made to shave his beard.  Harry wasn’t allowed to choose any career he wanted.  Some choices were vetoed by his father.  The freedom he felt when he finally broke away must have been amazing. 

The picture that the media painted of two close brothers who were torn apart by Meghan Markle is another lie.  William almost always kept a distance between them and Harry always longed for them to be closer.  Combine that with an unsupportive father and a mother who died too young, and that led to loneliness and mental health issues.  Harry is candid about his mental health issues, how he sought out therapy, and how his memories of his mother were locked away for a long time.  He talked about Meghan’s suicidal thoughts and how his family never stood up for them. 

This is an eye-opening look at what it’s really like to be a royal.  I encourage everyone to read it and highly recommend the audiobook version.

I read somewhere that Harry’s deal with Random House is for four books. If that is true, then I sincerely hope that one of them looks further into his mother’s death.

The opinions above are solely my own after listening to the audiobook, which I purchased on Audible.


Amazon | Google | Audible | Amazon UK

Indie Weekend #Audiobook review Relatively Normal Secrets by C.W. Allen plus #Q&A

Indie Weekend is my effort to help highlight and promote Indie and self-published books. Indie authors have to do some or all of their own marketing, and if I can help even a little bit with that, I’m happy to do so. Below is my review of a wonderful middle-grade audiobook, Relatively Normal Secrets. I’m also excited to share a Q&A with the author, C.W. Allen.

Tuesday’s last name is Furst, and her middle name is June, making her full name Tuesday, June Furst. She and her brother Zed are starting to realize that their father never talks about his job and their Mother is the only one they know with a guard dog. Then Tuesday and Zed are attacked and whisked off to another world, accompanied by their dog, Nyx. They begin an epic journey, helped with clues along the way. The clues are based on well-known nursery rhymes.

This is such a delightful middle-grade adventure, expertly narrated by Ivy Tara Blair. The main characters are so endearing and the narrator captures their personalities perfectly. The plot is fun and creative, and the reader/listener gets to go along on a fantastic journey. I was highly entertained from start to finish and recommend this book to anyone who wants to go on an exciting and creative adventure in a different land.

Fans of middle-grade fantasy novels should definitely check out this five-star read.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Cinnabar Moth Publishing via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


C.W. Allen is a Nebraskan by birth, a Texan by experience, a Hoosier by marriage, and a Utahn by geography. She knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she read The Westing Game at age twelve, but took a few detours along the way as a veterinary nurse, an appliance repair secretary, and a homeschool parent.

C.W. serves on the board of the League of Utah Writers. She is also a frequent guest presenter at writing conferences and club meetings, which helps her procrastinate knuckling down to any actual writing. Her debut novel Relatively Normal Secrets, a middle-grade speculative mystery, was published by Cinnabar Moth Publishing in 2021. Relatively Normal Secrets is the winner of the Gold Quill award, being named the best 2021 children’s book by a Utah author. The Falinnheim Chronicles series continues with The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (2022) and Tales of the Forgotten Founders (2023). Keep up with her latest projects at

Keep up with CW’s latest projects at her website.

CW’s Social Media: Instagram | Twitter

Q&A With C.W. Allen

Bonnie:  Let’s go beyond the bio.  Tell us something about yourself that we might not know from reading your bio.

CW: When I need a creative outlet aside from writing, I’m a fairly experimental baker. I love taking an existing recipe and tweaking it to work in unusual flavor combinations or streamline the process. My experiments don’t always come out pretty, but they’re nearly always tasty!

Bonnie:  When I read that the main protagonist’s name was Tuesday June Furst, I was hooked!  Such a clever idea.  How did you come up with the name?

CW:  Thank you! Years ago, my husband and I were trying to decide what to name our first child. We discovered we didn’t have very similar tastes in names, so as we took turns vetoing each other’s picks we ended up suggesting more and more unusual options in search of one we could both agree on. I thought Tuesday was a delightfully quirky name, but sadly (or perhaps my daughter might say thankfully) he didn’t agree. So I decided to use the name on a book character instead. This led to wondering why Tuesday’s parents would choose that name, so I figured—why not make it a pun? Having an unusual name is just one of the many reasons Tuesday suspects her parents are not quite normal. As the story progresses, Tuesday’s life gets even stranger than she could have imagined.

Bonnie:  What was the inspiration for the Falinnheim series?

CW:  I find that with all my stories, they’re not really sparked by one big idea—they’re more like a fruit salad of many small unconnected ideas. I had a large and comically misbehaved dog, so I knew I wanted to incorporate the humor of that experience into the story. As a child, I had a similar experience to Tuesday where I realized I had no idea what my father did for work (although in my case, the answer turned out to be fairly mundane). I loved the idea of visiting a fantasy land like Narnia or Oz, but wished it could blend the historical aesthetic with a few modern (or even futuristic) conveniences. When I was my readers’ age, I was fascinated with mysteries and codebreaking, so I wanted to incorporate clues and puzzles the readers could solve along with the characters as they read. Whenever I start weaving ideas together into a story, I have to really understand the characters first—their personality traits, quirks, flaws, and goals. Once I really get to know them, sometimes they take the story in a new direction I didn’t expect.

Bonnie:  I love the problem-solving aspect of this book as the kids follow clues based on nursery rhymes.  What’s your opinion on the importance of problem-solving and other lessons in middle-grade fiction?

CW:  First and foremost, middle-grade stories should be fun to read. I try to steer away from overly didactic themes, morals, or lessons—kids can smell a lecture a mile away, and there’s nothing fun about lectures. I try to tap into kids’ deepest convictions, reinforcing things they already value, rather than telling my readers what they ought to think or do. For example, Tuesday and Zed are co-protagonists in this story, and any reader who has siblings knows that while brothers and sisters love each other, having to live together isn’t always smooth sailing. Putting up with your sibling’s smelly socks or irritating jokes is an experience a lot of readers can relate to—the idea of raising the stakes, having to work together to solve actual important problems instead of just getting along enough so your parents won’t ground you creates additional challenges that make the story more interesting. So it’s not that I, as an adult, want to lecture kids about the importance of getting along with their siblings; it’s that readers will see themselves in that experience and recognize something they already know to be true: they don’t have to get along all the time in order to care about each other and have each other’s backs.

I don’t want my stories to teach lessons, but rather create fictional experiences that feel familiar, resonant, and true. As for the literal sense of problem-solving, as in working out the answers to clues, that’s just pure fun. It makes the book more interactive to see if you can solve the puzzle before the characters figure it out. I don’t think that all middle-grade books need this interactivity in order to succeed, but I certainly enjoy it.

Bonnie’s Comment:  I enjoy the interactivity as well, and I do think Zed and Tuesday are great and honest examples for kids to follow.

Bonnie:  Tuesday and her brother Zed use teamwork and brains to make their way forward through a strange land.  The superhero aspect comes in the form of their dog with special powers, Nyx.  With all the books out there about kids with special powers, did you make a conscious effort to stress the importance of working together and using critical thinking?

CW:  Zed and Tuesday are very different. Zed likes to organize his thoughts on paper and let them percolate for a while before he comes to a conclusion. Tuesday is very action-oriented and tends to leap to conclusions, but that also means she thinks on her feet and is able to talk her way out of trouble while Zed would take too long puzzling over the perfect thing to say. Tuesday is easily frustrated, while Zed is patient, but sometimes a little too complacent.

Going through their adventures together means sometimes butting heads, but they also have two different sets of strengths and perspectives to help them solve their problems. Each of them gets opportunities to surprise the other by coming up with a solution no one else would have thought of. Having these everyday “superpowers”, rather than being able to fly or turn invisible or something, makes the characters more relatable to the reader than someone who is ludicrously rich, or super strong, or uses a magic wand. Nyx’s powers are fun to read about, but no one’s really going to relate to her as a character. So I definitely wanted my human protagonists to have skills readers could appreciate and identify with.

Bonnie’s comment:  I agree completely.  Magic powers are fun to read about, but bravery, motivation, and problem-solving are something kids can identify with.

Bonnie: Thank you so much, CW, for answering my questions.

CW: Thank you! It’s been a pleasure


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Audiobook Review: A Woman of Intelligence

This review is of the audiobook, received from Macmillan Audio.

On the surface, Katharina Edgeworth has it all–a rich and handsome doctor husband, two gorgeous sons, and an expensive New York apartment. But reality is very different. She is a college graduate who speaks four languages and worked at the United Nations until she got pregnant. She loves her kids, but wants more than motherhood. It is the 1950s, and it is frowned upon for women with children to work. Now she has been forbidden to work or use any babysitters by her controlling husband, who works days at a time, but doesn’t want babysitters or anyone else raising his children. When an FBI agent leaves Katharina his card and says he could use her help, she is tempted, but how can she work as a spy while raising two boys practically on her own? To top it all off, her rich and haughty mother-in-law is continually butting into her business, and is even more controlling than her husband.

I enjoyed many aspects of this women’s fiction and spy thriller mashup. Katharina’s struggle to be more than a housewife in a time when this was discouraged makes an engaging read. Her work for the FBI during the McCarthy era is thrilling. Her friendship with a stunning woman who happens to be a prominent member of the Communist party is one of the best parts of the book. Her determination to use her talents in a fulfilling way for herself is admirable. However, the characterization of her husband Tom is way over the top. He is every stereotype of a 1950s husband–times ten. I also did not like some of the choices Katharina made along the way, but overall this was a satisfying and compelling thriller.

The narration of the book is well done, and the narrator, Jennifer Jill Araya, handles different characters and accents with ease.

My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Karin Tanabe

Karin Tanabe is the author of six novels, including A Hundred Suns and The Gilded Years (soon to be a major motion picture starring Zendaya, who will produce alongside Reese Witherspoon). A former Politico reporter, her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, and Newsday. She has appeared as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and CBS Early Show. Karin is a graduate of Vassar College and lives in Washington, D.C.


Jennifer Jill Araya

Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. A two-time Independent Audiobook Award Finalist, Jennifer has narrated over 150 audiobooks for a variety of publishers and producers, including Penguin Random House Audio, Simon & Schuster Audio, HarperAudio, Blackstone Publishing, and Audible Studios. When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.






The Nothing Man

I enjoy a good audiobook. I spend a lot of time in the car for work, and audiobooks help pass the time. I was happy when Netgalley started providing advance copies of audiobooks for review. Below is my review of The Nothing Man, a spellbinding tale with dual narrators.


The Nothing Man is the story of Eve Black, whose family was attacked and murdered one night by a man who will go on to be known as The Nothing Man, a rapist and killer. Twenty years later, Eve writes a book about this killer, 

I reviewed the audiobook version. This audiobook has two narrators. Alana Kerr-Collins is the voice of Eve and John Keating is the voice of The Nothing Man. Both do a fantastic job. Kerr-Collins has a suspenseful note to her voice that keeps you on the edge of your seat and Keating’s eerie Nothing Man is spellbinding. 

Catherine Ryan Howard has written a thriller that is full of suspense and will keep you guessing. The ending is surprising and well thought out.

Fans of crime novels and novels about serial killers will be enthralled by this one.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley My review is voluntary.

Link to the book on Amazon:

Link to the author’s Amazon page:

Link to my Goodreads Review: