STORY - Delirium is a YA book, but it also has some very mature themes. It was too immature for me at times, but overall it is an unusual and touching story. The romance is innocent and sweet, but the young characters are very strong. I did feel like the author described the dystopia and the "cured" people in Portland way, way too often. OMG, stop!
The second half of the book is much better than the first. The tension begins to build, and the action toward the end is very tense! Cliffhanger ending is frustrating but good. You will want to continue with the series.
NARRATION - The reader has a high-pitched voice, perfect for the young characters in the book. She does a great job portraying teenaged emotions, and I really liked the young male voice she gave to Alex.
OVERALL - Delirium wasn't awesome, but I recommend it mainly because I expect a lot from the rest of the trilogy.
STORY (romance/suspense) - This is a very good book, but you must be able to suspend logic and common sense to enjoy it. If you're the type who requires believability and roll your eyes when things get far-fetched, this isn't the book for you. It's an unusual story, and it starts off almost immediately with a plane crash. The main character, Avery, is believed dead but, in reality, another woman named Carole died in the crash. Avery is believed to be Carole and is rushed to the hospital where, while she cannot speak or communicate, reconstructive surgery is performed to make her look exactly like Carole. While in the hospital, she learns of a plot to assassinate Carole's husband. Then Avery, who looks like Carole, begins a new life as Carole Rutledge, wife of Senatorial candidate Tate Rutledge.
The story is set in almost-present-day Texas. It is interesting to see how Avery tries to fit into her new role, as she makes quite a few mistakes which must be explained away. Her quiet investigation into who might be the assassin adds intrigue to the story, and then there is the romance aspect. You see, Tate hated Carole and was planning to divorce her, but Avery is determined to change that. This book held my interest till the end which, again, requires you to stretch your imagination a bit. But that's one of the reasons we love audiobooks, right?
PERFORMANCE - I know Dick Hill is a respected narrator, but I don't like him. His female characters are horrible, and his performances are choppy and sometimes hard to understand. Maybe there were audio issues, but sometimes he trailed off and I would completely miss what he said. When he pronounces the name "Tate," it sounds like two syllables with a second T on the end. And Bexar County is pronounced "Bear," not "Bex are," Dick.
OVERALL - This is basically a book for gals because of the romance. There's several episodes of explicit sex and some bad language, but not a lot. There aren't a ton of characters or complicated plot lines to keep straight, so it's an easy listen. Highly recommended.
STORY - (mystery) A Royal Pain is Book 2 in the series, and I liked it even better than the first. It is set in 1932 England. The main character, Georgie, is a 21-year-old of Scottish noble birth who has moved to London and is learning to navigate the high-society single social scene. She also does some amateur sleuthing for the Queen. As the cover art suggests, this series is light and humorous. The characters are fun and likeable, even the bad ones, for the most part.
This story centers around the visit of a Bavarian princess (Hanni) who comes to stay with Georgie. When numerous people start dying or being killed, the mystery begins. Despite all the fun, the mystery is complicated, engaging and very exciting. There are lots of clues and suspects, so you will need to pay attention, and it will keep you guessing till the end.
PERFORMANCE - I must give out fives to narrators too easily because there are so many good ones, but then there's no room to rate a performance like this. I loved this narration. Every character has a different voice or accent. There's stuffy British royalty, cockney, Scottish, German, American, southern U.S. and probably more. And then the voice of Georgie's best friend Belinda, which is...well, just hear for yourself.
OVERALL - The story stands alone, but if you don't listen to the series in order you will miss some character development and, of course, the slow-moving romance Georgie seems to be building with Darcy. I don't recall any cursing, but there are some adult comments and situations. I'd recommend this for girls high school age through adult. Probably not a book for guys, though the mystery is really good. Great fun + complicated mystery + awesome performance = highly recommended book.
STORY - Almost everyone has seen the movies, read the books or heard of the Hunger Games series. This final book does not disappoint. The Capitol and President Snow are under attack and out for revenge, and Katniss has become the figurehead of the rebellion. The characters we've come to love must continue to band together and fight for what they believe in, as opposed to being in the arena. They aren't super-heros. They are young adults who are forced to grow up in lives they didn't chose for themselves, but they are smart, brave and resourceful.
The story has lots of action and violence, so there is loss and sadness. The conclusion doesn't tie everything up with a big, happy pink bow, but it's realistic, positive and very good. It's also hard to predict. With only 45 minutes left to listen, there are still major questions unanswered, so the story is suspenseful to the very end. I wanted things to turn out a little differently, but overall it's the perfect ending to a great series.
PERFORMANCE - Initially I didn't like the narrtor's voice, thinking it sounded too old for Katniss, but I've come to totally accept her and enjoyed her performance.
OVERALL - Recommended for just about everyone but, due to the violence, I wouldn't recommend for below about age 15. Great book, great series. Definitely listen to them in order, and definitely get them!
STORY (historical fiction) - Code Name Verity is the story of two young women who each play a very important role in thwarting Hitler's advances in Europe. The first half is told by Verity, a radio operator who later becomes a spy. She is also referred to as Queenie, Ava Siler, First Officer Beaufort-Stewart and Julie, which can be a little confusing. She becomes a prisoner of war and is tortured into writing a confession, so her story alternates between her life in prison and flashbacks to events as they actually happened. (Her torture wouldn't have been a picnic, but I'm pretty squeamish and it didn't bother me to hear it.)
Maddy's story is approximately the last half of the book. She is a pilot who flies secret missions and is the one who flew Verity to Nazi-occupied France. Her story dovetails with and goes beyond Verity's.
I almost stopped listening several hours into the book because it seemed to be just the story of young women becoming best friends during the war, but as the secret missions started, etc., it got VERY interesting and intense.
PERFORMANCE - There are two young female narrators. Verity sounds Scottish and Maddy sounds more British, in keeping with their characters. There's also singing and a short performance by a male narrator. Everything is well-done.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 3.5) Very exciting book after the slow start. Since it occurs during World War II, there are mature themes. Guys won't like the female bonding part of the story but will enjoy the covert activities and historical background.
STORY (suspense) - What if you were in orbit around earth and knew you were going to die in a few days? Kip Dawson finds himself in that position after winning a free trip aboard a privately owned space vessel. The pilot is killed early into the flight, and Kip is stranded...alone...and no communication with earth. Or so he thinks. Between frustrating attempts to save his own life, he feels compelled to evaluate his life's mistakes, joys and dreams and write them in a laptop computer he finds onboard. Not expecting anyone to read his words during his lifetime, if ever, he pours himself into his task, writing words which heal, encourage, enlighten. He also accuses his employer of a crime, speaks of wanting to divorce his wife and mentions women he is or has been attracted to. Oops. What Kip doesn't know is that his words are scrolling live in realtime across the bottom of nearly every computer screen in the world. Everyone knows when he sleeps, what he's doing, what he's thinking and have been inspired by his perception, honesty and courage.
But don't discount this book as a boring self-evaluation of someone's life. It's not. There's lot's of suspense, beginning with the takeoff of the vessel and when the pilot is killed. It moves quickly between attempts Kip makes to pilot the ship and attempts on earth to rescue him. NASA, Norad, the President, even Japan and Russia become involved in an attempt to save someone who is becoming a beloved world phenomenon. The plot is made more suspenseful by attempts to sabotage the rescue by those who could gain from the failure of the privatized space program. Is it technically realistic? Probably not, but it was realistic enough for this listener to become totally engrossed in the story. The plot is very unusual and very well done.
PERFORMANCE - The author narrates his own work and does a fine job, although he doesn't really attempt to distinguish between speakers. His S's might be a little "mushy," but I only noticed it because another reviewer pointed it out.
OVERALL - Highly recommended. There is no violence or sex (although Kip talks about sex a little). I might have heard the F-word once, but I'm not sure. Otherwise, I don't think there's cursing. Guys and gals would enjoy this book equally.
STORY (fantasy romance) - This series promises to be just as clever and cute as Molly's Half-Moon Hollow series, though the males will be werewolves instead of vampires. In this story, Mo moves to Alaska to escape her overprotective parents, gets a job cooking in a diner and meets sexy werewolf Cooper. Mo becomes involved with small-town life and, of course, Cooper. As the story progresses, she and others in Grundy, Alaska search for a wolf who has been killing tourists and townspeople. Could it be Cooper?
You will love this book -- the romance, the snarky banter between characters and the mystery element. Molly is the undisputed queen of this genre.
PERFORMANCE - Amanda Ronconi, as always, is the perfect pair for Molly's style of writing.
OVERALL - This is Book 1 of the series, but the story stands alone perfectly. There are a couple short sex scenes and a little cursing, but this is definitely a light, fun, easy listen. Highly recommended.
STORY (mystery) - A Cold Day for Murder introduces Kate Shugak, a native Alaskan and previous investigator for the Anchorage DA's Office who has retired to a quiet and peaceful life deep in the Alaskan wilderness. She is asked by Jack, her ex lover/boss, to conduct an investigation into the disappearance of two men who were last seen in her area. What follows is the typical murder investigation you've heard many times, but this one is set in Aleut territory with descriptive imagery of crisp winter mornings, snowmobile rides and encounters with wildlife. The investigation is interesting and the conclusion is somewhat unexpected. I enjoyed the author's treatment of the "past" between Jack and Kate.
PERFORMANCE - I have commented about this narrator before. She has a lovely voice, but she seems to lose her place while reading and then tack on the rest of a sentence as an afterthought. It doesn't happen enough to detract from the experience, but you will notice it when it happens.
OVERALL - This is the first book in the series, but it can stand alone. It is short (5 1/2 hours) and enjoyable, but there's nothing special about it except the Alaskan scenery. There is cursing and some violence, but not a lot. I don't plan to continue the series, except maybe an occasional book that may come on sale.
STORY (historical fiction) - Water for Elephants is an award-winning book and has been made into a popular movie, so I know I'm in the minority with my review. Parts of the book were very enjoyable, but most of the time my mind was wandering and I was looking at the time counter to see how much longer before I could start a new book. It paints what is probably a historically correct view of circus life in the Depression era -- sleeping in train cars and traveling from town to town. It is interesting to a certain point, but IMHO the story kind of just meanders from day to day with too much downtime between important events.
The main character is Jacob, the veterinarian, and the story is told through the use of two different timelines. One timeline is Jacob present day when he is an old man in a nursing home, grumbling about the food and dreaming of his life as a young man in the circus. The second is the story of Jacob's unplanned entry into circus life and his viewpoint of what he finds there. Each timeline is read by a different narrator, so it's easy to follow as you go back and forth.
There is the expected cast of circus characters, but the three main ones in this story are Jacob, a beautiful horse/elephant rider and her schizophrenic husband. There are some ugly exchanges between various characters, some animal abuse which is a hard to hear and a stripper who puts on a pretty bizarre show. Then there is a romance that trancends decades. You will feel afraid, angry, happy and sad. The ending is unexpected and very good.
PERFORMANCE - Both narrators did well, but the one reading the older version did an outstanding job of conveying Jacob's various emotions - frustration, anger, love, etc., as he relived some of his memories.
OVERALL - Some violence and foul language, but not a lot. Some animal cruelty and sexual content.
STORY (paranormal fantasy) - The cover art for this series might mislead you to think the story is about a warrior in some type of serious battle. Not so. It is light, witty and involves an ancient Druid named Atticus, who looks and acts like a college student. You could sum the whole book up by saying that Atticus constantly finds himself facing a new, different supernatural creature who tries to either cast him under a spell or kill him. He employs two vampire lawyers, owns a magical sword and has an adorable talking dog. He signs a peace treaty with a coven of witches and has a crazy sexual encounter with the Goddess of Death. He approaches the Virgin Mary for help killing an archangel and tells her, "Tell Jesus to stop in for a beer next time he passes through." You get it? Light, easy, fun.
Even though there is clever banter between characters and funny situations, this series isn't really my cup of tea. The constant conflict between supernaturals gets really old. I only listened to this second book because I'm in love with Oberon, his dog. OMG!!! He's so hilarious that he should have his own book. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear enough to hold my interest, so I don't plan to continue listening to this series.
PERFORMANCE - Awesome, wonderful, love him!!! He does everything great, but his portrayal of Oberon is absolutely PRICELESS!!!!
OVERALL - The story stands alone if you want to start the series here. Kids would love this book but there's quite a bit of cursing and some sex, so probably not a good idea.
STORY - Falling Glass is definitely a fast-paced thriller. Killian, the main character, is an ex-IRA enforcer who is hired to find the ex-wife of a very rich man. She uses drugs and has run away with their children. There is also a Russian hired to kill the same woman. There are lies and secrets which make the story interesting as well as plenty of action and violence. The ending is.....not typical.
The main characters are what I would call "gray" characters -- neither perfect white nor villanous black, which makes each of them unique and very real. The story is set in Ireland, read by an Irishman and written in what seems to be native Irish lingo and slang. (I had to Google several terms). Descriptions of the Irish countryside and a background of its politics enhanced the whole experience.
PERFORMANCE - It took me a while to get used to the narrator's accent, especially when he uses unfamiliar wording. He ends each sentence in an upswing as if he's asking a question, which took some getting used to as well.
OVERALL - This wouldn't have been my choice for Best Thriller 2011, but it's a very good book. There's sex, violence (including a little dismemberment) and the F-word flows freely, so it might not be for everyone.
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