Story - As Cinder (Book 1 in this series) is a clever futuristic twist of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, Scarlet (Book 2) is the same of Little Red Riding Hood. I enjoyed Scarlet but don't think it is anywhere near as good as Cinder. I am not a young adult, but I tend to enjoy certain books in this genre because I find the stories sweet and the romances touching and innocent. I absolutely loved the romance aspect in Cinder, but IMHO the one in Scarlet is kinda blah. Nevertheless, there is lots of stuff happening that make this book a good listen.
There are two story lines which alternate. One picks up where Cinder left off, and the second goes in a completely different direction and introduces totally new characters. The two become entwined in the end and hopefully set the stage for an awesome conclusion in Book 3 (which isn't out yet). I'm really ready for Prince Kye to find out who Cinder really is and for there to be a happy ending.
You should hear this series in order, and they are not standalone stories. In fact, the endings of both books will leave you hanging till the next one. They are relatively light, "easy listens" that also have mystery and quite a bit of save-the-world type action.
Narrator - Good job but nothing spectacular.
Story - Recommended for female listeners of all ages who can occasionally be young at heart, but you will need to hear the whole series to reach a conclusion.
STORY - (young adult suspense) I'm a real chicken when it comes to violence, so I've been shying away from this book because I feared it would be a teenaged version of The Gladiator. I finally gave in to the hype and listened to it, and I'm so glad I did. The violence is very "watered down," so I was totally okay with it. This was probably the hardest book to put down that I've heard so far. Great story, great characters, great action, blah, blah, blah...
PERFORMANCE - Well done, though I agree with other reviewers who suggest that a younger-sounding voice would have been better for Katniss.
OVERALL - Hunger Games is a great 5-star listen which will keep listeners of all ages on the edge of their seats.
STORY - This sounded like it would be a fun holiday listen...a modern twist of the classic Christmas story written by a famous author. It's a novel idea that I think could have been so much better than it was. There are, of course, parallels between this story and the classic, i.e., Mary Jo for the Virgin Mary, the three Wyse brothers for the three wise men, but some of them are so far-fetched they should have just been left out. (Like seeing fireworks and saying, "Look, follow that star!") There is way too much detail that served no purpose but to drag things out. Some of the dialogue between the three brothers is so stupid and repetitive it made me want to SCREAM!!!!
On the positive side, the story is cozy and full of holiday cheer. I loved Mack, and the ending of the book is very touching.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator definitely gets an A for effort. This female narrator actually tries to distinguish between the three brothers' voices -- something which many male narrators don't even bother to do. It kinda works and kinda doesn't.
OVERALL -- I've never listened to a Debbie Macomber book before, so die-hard fans might like this story. My advice, however, is to skip it.
STORY (contemporary romance) - Holiday Sparks is a free 2-hour download and I didn't have very high expectations, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Chloe returns home to her parents' home for Christmas and ends up having a holiday fling with the small-town electrician. It's clever, sweet, sexy, and I loved the ending.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator didn't have a difficult performance, but she did it very well.
OVERALL - Even though it's not very long, it's got everything you could want in a sexy contemporary romance.
STORY (historical mystery) - Speaks the Nightbird is a great book. The main plot line follows a witch trial to its conclusion. It's interesting to see how it unfolds -- the investigation, the trial and learning the beliefs/motives of those involved. There are lots of characters and lots of clues, but it's still very easy to keep things straight. Don't try to figure out the ending because you probably won't be able to.
The book has some very dark characters and some very endearing ones. The main character, Matthew, grows from a young adult to a mature one during the span of the story. I really liked the way the author addressed his relationship with the accused witch.
I considered rating the book a 5 but made deductions for three small things: (1) a few scenes make me wonder about the sexual inclinations of the author, (2) some scenes were too dark and/or gross for my taste, and (3) even though it's never, ever boring, it's bit long for my personal taste.
PERFORMANCE - Wow! Wonderful expression, timing, foreign accents, perfect portrayal of an evangelist and a character on his deathbed. I'm going to check for more books read by this talented narrator.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5) I've read some harsh complaints about this book, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and recommend it highly. There is sex, language and some gore, though, so it might not be for those who are sensitive.
Don't miss this free holiday gift from Molly Harper -- it's delightful. If you're already following the series, you will recognize many of the characters of Half Moon Hollow. If you're not, it's time you're introduced. This is not the usual romance story -- more like just a holiday gathering of the whole wacky group. It is told from Gigi's viewpoint and is full of the usual humor and snarky remarks between characters, plus there are some holiday recipes given at the end. Amanda Ronconi is awesome as usual.
Take advantage of this free download and add some fun to your Christmas season!
STORY - (Sci-Fi) This is Book 2 of The Lost Fleet series, which follows the 100-year war between two opposing groups of humans, the Alliance and the Syndics. So far the first two books have primarily been cat-and-mouse chases across galaxies with multiple battle engagements. Attack/defense strategies are described in detail and are fascinating (even for this female listener). There is no man-to-man fighting, just ship against ship, so there is no blood or gore.
Book 1 is good, but this one has a whole lot more going on. Various interpersonal relationships become explosive and/or very interesting as different factions of the crew pursue their own itineraries. Also, a puzzling and critical discovery is made which presents a new challenge to Captain Geary. This discovery should add an exciting new wrinkle to the war and to future episodes. You should listen to this series in order to properly follow the drama that's unfolding.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator does a great job portraying the powerful Captain Geary (so sexy) and still manages to do fairly feminine-sounding women as well.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5) I almost rated this a 5. I love the descriptions of the battle formations and tactics, but there's just a tad too much for my personal taste. That being said, this book is very, very good. Highly recommended.
STORY - There's never a dull moment with this book. Reese (Colorado Senator) and Cara (reporter) meet in a bar, and Cara makes an unforgettable first impression (OMG!!) They begin a relationship, during which time they become entwined in a tense situation involving some serious pollution issues. The story line is intense and moves quickly, the romance is hot and the sex scenes are pretty explicit. You will love Reese, another dreamy male lead that this author/narrator combo creates in this series.
The story can completely stand on its own.
NARRATOR - I love him! It's great to hear a male narrate a romance. Since I'm a female, I don't like to hear women trying to do a sexy male lead -- it just doesn't work. This narrator sounds pretty good as a female, too.
OVERALL - Great romance, so go for it.
STORY (Western fiction) - It's strange. This series is full of cowboys, Indians, bank robbers, cattle rustlers -- totally NOT what I look for in a movie or a book. But it's such an easy listen and the characters are so endearing that I just love rambling along the wild west with these guys.
The Hondo Kid is Book 2 and introduces Cody Cordell, the younger brother of Buck, who was the main character in Book 1. Neither brother knows the other is still alive after their parents were killed by Indians. Cody, a teenager, must grow up quickly on his own and somehow manages to gain a reputation as a gunfighter called "The Hondo Kid." About the first third of the book is Cody's story, but the rest alternates between Cody and Buck, whose cattle ranch is having legendary success.
There's lots of western action with hangings, shootouts, etc., but the author doesn't dwell on the violence or blood. There's some romance but no sex or foul language, so this would make a good family listen. You should hear these books in order, as each picks up where the previous one ends. I look forward to Book 3.
PERFORMANCE - Good job. The narrator does lots of "cowboy" voices, which adds to the story. He reads pretty slow, so you may want to turn the speed up to 1.25 or even 1.5. I would have rated the performance a 5 but some of the cowboy characters are a bit overdone and his women's voices are pretty masculine. (Plus he mispronounces "Brazos," which drove me crazy).
OVERALL - Download Book 1 if you think you might enjoy a good western. I don't think you will be disappointed.
STORY - (fantasy) - Magic Study is Book 2 of the Soulfinders series. It picks up where Poison Study left off, so Yelena has moved from Ixia to Citia to reunite with her family and study magic. It has some violence, a bit of romance and lots of new characters. Her study of magic is interesting and the plot moves quickly, but I don't think it's anywhere near as good as Poison Study.
The book could probably stand alone, but you really should listen to them in order. It ends at a good stopping point, should you decide not to continue with the series.
PERFORMANCE - Very good job with multiple voices and accents. I didn't care for Yelena communicating mentally with her horse but, nevertheless, the narrator does a pretty good "horse voice."
OVERALL - Read Poison Study first. If you like it, then you might give this one a try as well. It wasn't a bad book, just not my cup of tea.
STORY - First let me say that I normally avoid stories about Hitler and WWII, but this one caught my eye and I'm so very glad I listened to it. It starts off fast, stays good, and you will be on the edge of your seat by the end. While the background of the story is Europe during the war, the plot is about a German spy called The Needle who is trying to get a vital message to Hitler. On the other side, there are the efforts of a handful of main characters determined to find and stop him. There are no battle scenes, just lots of cat-and-mouse action with a little bit of romance tossed in. I've listened to about 100 books at this point, and this is one of my favorites.
PERFORMANCE - This is the first book I've heard where multiple voices were used conversationally (as opposed to reading entire chapters or diaries). It was a treat to hear men speaking as men and women as women, with all the different voices and accents. It wasn't perfect, though, because some of the voices sounded like they were in a tunnel when they were supposedly in the same room with the other speakers. All in all, though, I give them a five for the overall effort.
OVERALL - I can't imagine anyone not liking this book. (But there is sex and cursing, if that offends you).
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