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Jane

Chicago, IL, United States | Member Since 2010

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  • 374 reviews
  • 374 ratings
  • 692 titles in library
  • 118 purchased in 2014
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  • Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sol Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    Overall
    (712)
    Performance
    (355)
    Story
    (339)

    Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether newcomers or accomplished professionals. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor, explains, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions, how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place."

    ddsharper says: "Excellent Content and Listen"
    "Excellent advice and examples for better writing."
    Overall
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    Stein is an author, editor, and publisher. His advice is geared toward fiction, with some thoughts for nonfiction. I am a reader and reviewer of books, not a writer. I have strong likes and dislikes about books I’ve read. I’m reading some “how to write books” to see if I agree with the experts. I’m delighted to say that writers who follow Stein’s advice will very likely make me happy when reading their books. I am more liberal than Stein in two areas: the first three pages of a book and his fifth commandment. Scenes that end prematurely are a subject Stein did not discuss, but I believe he would agree with me.

    ADJECTIVES, ADVERBS, & FLAB:
    For a while now I have been confused when I hear people say “cut adverbs.” I’ve loved some colorful writing that adverbs produce. I made a list of wonderful sentences with adverbs written by J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, and Georgette Heyer. I recently read three Hemingway short stories and noticed a lot of adjectives and adverbs in two of them. That intrigued me because he is famous for concise writing. Stein is the first expert who explains this subject to my satisfaction. Although he recommends cutting most adjectives and adverbs, he gives examples showing when they are valuable. I like his view. Stein and I both like the following paragraph which is full of adjectives and adverbs. Although a novel filled with this should probably be labeled poetry rather than fiction. Still it shows the emotional and sensual ability of adjectives and adverbs. Stein calls it “a nearly perfect paragraph.” It was written by a student of his, Linda Katmarian.

    “Weeds and the low hanging branches of unpruned trees swooshed and thumped against the car while gravel popped loudly under the car’s tires. As the car bumped along, a flock of startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. For a moment they fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame and then were gone. Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.”

    Stein says “She’s breaking rules. Adjectives and adverbs which normally should be cut are all over the place. They’re used to wonderful effect because she uses the particular sound of words ‘the low hanging branches swooshed and thumped against the car. Gravel popped. Startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. They fluttered and swirled.’ We experience the road the car is on because the car ‘bumped’ along. What a wonderful image. ‘The birds fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame.’ And it all comes together in the perception of the character ‘Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.’ Many published writers would like to have written a paragraph that good. That nearly perfect paragraph was ...”

    Another example. Stein does not like the sentence “What a lovely, colorful garden.” Lovely is too vague. Colorful is specific therefore better; but lovely and colorful don’t draw us in because we expect a garden to be lovely or colorful. There are several curiosity provoking adjectives you might use. If we hear that a garden is curious, strange, eerie, remarkable, or bizarre, we want to know why. An adjective that piques the reader’s curiosity helps move the story along.

    Stein says when you have two adjectives together with one noun, you should almost always delete one of the adjectives. He also recommends eliminating the following words which he calls flab: had, very, quite, poor (unless talking of poverty), however, almost, entire, successive, respective, perhaps, always, and “there is.” Other words can be flab as well.

    PARTICULARITY (attentiveness to detail):
    I love the following comparison. “You have an envelope? He put one down in front of her.” This exchange is void of particularity. Here’s how the transaction was described by John LeCarre. “You have a suitable envelope? Of course you have. Envelopes were in the third drawer of his desk, left side. He selected a yellow one A4 size and guided it across the desk but she let it lie there.” Those particularities ordinary as they seem help make what she is going to put into the envelope important. The extra words are not wasted because they make the experience possible and credible. (My favorite part: “Of course you have.”)

    FLASHBACKS AND SCENES THAT END PREMATURELY:
    Stein discourages flashbacks. He says they break the reading experience. They pull the reader out of the story to tell what happened earlier. Yay! I agree! I don’t like them either.

    I don’t recall Stein discussing “ending scenes prematurely,” but I think (or hope) he would agree with me that they also “break the reading experience.” For example, Mary walks into a room, hears a noise, and is hit. The next sentence is about another character in another place. Many authors do this to create artificial suspense. It makes me angry, and my anger takes me out of the story because I’m thinking about the author instead of the characters. You can have great suspense without doing this. Stein says “The Day of the Jackal” is famous for use of suspense. The scenes in that book have natural endings.

    FIRST THREE PAGES OF A BOOK MAY NOT BE AS CRITICAL AS THEY USED TO BE:
    Stein said a “book must grab the reader in the first three pages or they won’t buy the book.” This was based on studies watching customers in book stores. They looked at the jacket and then the first one to three pages. They either put it back or bought it. I think the internet changed things by providing customer reviews. I buy around 240 books a year. I never buy a book based on the first three pages. My decision to buy is based on customer reviews and/or book jacket summaries. I suppose the first three pages might still be important for customers in physical stores like Barnes & Noble and Walmart. But today we have books that become best sellers as ebooks and subsequently are published in paperback, for example Fifty Shades of Grey. Bloggers and reviewers spread the word, not bookstore visitors.

    STEIN’S TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR WRITERS:
    I’ve edited for brevity and to remove thou shalt’s.

    1. Do not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot. In the beginning was the character. (I like this, but I also think Stephen King has a good idea - something to try. He creates a “situation” first, then the characters, and last the plot.)

    2. Imbue your heroes with faults and your villains with charm. For it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.

    3. Your characters should steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor’s house, wife, man servant, maid servant, and ox. For readers crave such actions and yawn when your characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceable. (I love this.)

    4. Avoid abstractions, for readers like lovers are attracted by particularity.

    5. Do not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream. Stein prefers using “he said.” (I’m not sure about this one. I like hearing these words. Maybe in moderation?)

    6. Infect your reader with anxiety, stress, and tension, for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.

    7. Language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers. (I assume this includes cutting adjectives, adverbs, and flab - but keep the good ones.)

    8. “Thou shalt have no rest on the sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.” (I’m not sure how this is advice to writers.)

    9. Dialogue: directness diminishes, obliqueness sings.

    10. Do not vent your emotions onto the reader. Your duty is to evoke the reader’s emotions.


    OTHER IDEAS:
    Do not write about wimps. People who seem like other people are boring. Ordinary people are boring.

    Cut cliches. Say it new or say it straight.

    If not clear who is speaking put “George said” before the statement. If it is clear, put “George said” after or eliminate “George said.”

    Don’t use strange spellings to convey dialect or accents.

    Book copyright: 1995.
    Genre: nonfiction, how to write.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • All I Need Is You

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Johanna Lindsey
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    In the American Wild West the law is young, and men and women must make their own justice. Casey Stratton has left behind an unbearable situation at home and set off on her own, relying on her courage and inventiveness to survive where most women could not. Damien Rutledge III is a society man from New York, thrusting aside his life of refinement and sophistication in favor of a more basic need - revenge.

    Elizabeth says: "All I Need Is You"
    "Narrator hurt the story."
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    Parts were fun, but I was annoyed with the no-one-says-how-they-feel-big-misunderstanding.

    The first half was fun watching Casey, age 17, as a bounty hunter. Men think she’s a boy because she’s tall and wears men’s clothes. They call her Kid. She’s a fast draw. We don’t watch her hunt and catch outlaws, but we are told that she caught several. Most of the danger is when bad guys come to rob or kill her and she has to deal with them. And then the main part of the story is she and Damian travel together to find Henry who killed Damian’s father. During this journey they fall in love. But it lacked passion and chemistry.

    I feel like the author was following a recipe. Put in a bunch of things that sounded good and called it done. There was no depth. Nothing special. But I enjoyed a lot of it. It was an ok way to pass time - until the separation. They both love each other, but each one thinks the other does not. No one says how they feel. They have sex twice, yet they each thinks the other doesn’t want them. There’s a lot of internal pondering and anguish about he/she doesn’t love me. They separate and are miserable.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR - Sandra Burr.
    She reads like she’s in a hurry. She doesn’t pause when she should. The worst thing was her voice for Damian. She lowered her voice in a way that made him sound weird, wooden, and constipated – and the emotional interpretations were off. It did not feel like Damian had interest or desire for Casey. His voice was monotone. This was not a sexy sound. Some female narrators can do a sexy man, but not Ms. Burr.

    Narrative mode: 3rd person.
    Genre: western historical romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Talisman Ring

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (203)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (167)

    Neither Sir Tristram Shield nor Eustacie, his young French cousin, share the slightest inclination to marry one another. Yet it is Lord Lavenham's dying wish.

    Amanda says: "I laughed and laughed"
    "Narrator hurt the book."
    Overall
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    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    I had two problems with Phyllida Nash.

    1. Her breaths were annoying and distracting. When talking to someone in person one does not hear breaths. Throughout the book I’m thinking when is the next breath going to come? They interrupted the story. Narrators: PLEASE listen to the recording of yourself and if you hear your breaths, use a different microphone - or stand farther away from it.

    2. She has a haughty British tone. She does not read with wonder and interest. It’s like she does not enjoy what she is reading. I also did not like her voice for 18-year-old Eustacie. It was irritating and shrill.

    THE STORY:
    The story was pretty good. It reminded me of young people taking chances and doing crazy things because they want the thrill of adventure. There is a killer and a stolen ring. An innocent man was accused. Several friends want to help find the ring and catch the killer. There is not much romance, but there is a pleasing romantic attachment at the end. This is a light hearted romantic comedy (kind of slapstick).

    Narrative mode: 3rd person.
    Genre: historical mystery with some romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Arabella

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    When Arabella first arrives in London, she has only one mission: to snare a rich husband. With a mind to beat the competition, she pretends to be a rich heiress and soon finds herself the talk of the town, pursued by the most eligible bachelors in the city. But she has her sights on one man only: the much-hunted Mr Beaumaris. Our feisty heroine puts up a fight and deals the worldly-wise Beaumaris a deft hand in the game of love; at first grudgingly charmed, he soon becomes smitten.

    Nena says: "Delightful !"
    "Narrator hurt the book."
    Overall
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    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    I had two problems with Phyllida Nash.

    1. Her breaths were annoying and distracting. When talking to someone in person one does not hear breaths. Throughout the book I’m thinking when is the next breath going to come? They interrupted the story. Narrators: PLEASE listen to the recording of yourself and if you hear your breaths, use a different microphone - or stand farther away from it.

    2. Her voice is deep. Many male narrators have deep voices but they are able to do young women well by softening their voice and using emotions. Ms. Nash’s voice for the heroine Arabella was weird, uncomfortable, and did not fit. It was like an older lady. Although, she did other characters well.

    Eve Matheson narrated an earlier version of this book. Audible: Why won’t you sell me the Eve Matheson version?????? She’s fabulous! The Eve Matheson version is available in some libraries.

    Audible has pdf file with this book. It was neat. It was a list of chapters with things happening within each chapter. It also talked about the narrator Phyllida Nash. I wish Audible did that with more of their books.

    THE STORY:
    Georgette Heyer is one of my favorite authors. She usually does not have much emotional relationship development, but she makes up for it with characters and dialogue. In this book instead of enjoying the characters, I kept thinking “why does Robert like Arabella?” I didn’t see any reason for him to like her. She’s quiet, polite, and kind of shrinking-violet. And, I did not see why she liked him. There were no conversations between them that showed enjoyment of each other. It was all “how do you do” type conversation. Also, I was angry at Arabella’s dishonesty at the end. I would have liked her better if she had been truthful to Robert earlier.

    Narrative mode: 3rd person.
    Genre: regency romance.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Foundling

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Phyllida Nash
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (102)

    The shy young Duke of Sale has never known his parents. Instead, his Grace Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware or Gilly for short has endured 24 years of rigorous mollycoddling from his uncle and his valet. But his natural diffidence conceals a rebellious spirit. So when Gilly hears of Belinda, the beautiful foundling who appears to be blackmailing his cousin, he absconds with glee. Only he has no sooner entered his new and dangerous world than he is plunged into a frenzy of intrigue, kidnap and adventure.

    Amanda says: "Rollicking Adventure"
    "4 1/2 stars, but problem with narrator's breaths."
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    I think my favorite trope is seeing a character change - like this. Gilly was small, skinny, shy, quiet, and obedient - doing whatever his overbearing uncle and others told him to do. Even with marriage the uncle says it’s time you get engaged to Harriet, so he does. He’s 24. Gilly decides to go on a journey alone without his valet or other hired help. On that journey things happen that allow Gilly to act differently and to see himself differently than he had before. I was delighted and surprised. And there were humorous parts. It’s a little slow to start. But the last third was fulfilling.

    This is not typical romance, but it has a happy romantic ending. This is primarily Gilly’s coming of age story. The heroine has a small role.

    A minor complaint for the author. She called characters by different names, sometimes the first name, sometimes the last name. I was confused about the two Wares and then Gideon and Gaywood sounding similar. Gideon Ware (the son of Lord Lionel) was also called Captain Gideon or Captain Ware. Mathew Ware (the son of Lord Henry Ware). Charles Presteigne (Harriet’s brother) was called Charles, Charlie, and Gaywood. Now that I’ve looked them up after reading the book, they don’t seem as confusing. But at the time I was confused.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR - Phyllida Nash.
    Her breaths were annoying and distracting. When talking to someone in person one does not hear breaths. Parts of the story were ok, but several times I was thinking when is the next breath going to come? They interrupted the story. Narrators: PLEASE listen to the recording of yourself and if you hear your breaths, use a different microphone - or stand farther away from it.

    Narrative mode: 3rd person.
    Genre: historical fiction with romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Revealed

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Kate Noble
    • Narrated By Alison Larkin
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Phillippa Benning is the unrivaled beauty of the Season. But when another lady challenges her for a marquis's attentions, Phillippa entices him to a secret rendezvous only to stumble upon The Blue Raven, England's most famous spy, lurking at the site of her planned tryst. The Blue Raven has uncovered an enemy plot directed at upcoming society functions, but he's unable to infiltrate London society.

    Jane says: "Audiobook narrator was a bad fit."
    "Audiobook narrator was a bad fit."
    Overall
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    I suppose this is romance, but there was no emotional draw for me.

    I was bored, I wanted to quit, but I hoped it would get better. It did not. But some readers loved this. I wonder if reading the book would have made it better for me than listening to it?

    Most of the book felt like meaningless chit chat, as if the author is describing a party. Phillippa attends parties, plans parties, gossips, flirts with Philip, then gets upset when someone else flirts with Philip. I wanted more character development. Friend Nora was a bore but she could have been made interesting. A romance develops but I didn’t feel anything. I was not drawn in emotionally.

    Part of the plot was not supported with logic. Marcus was a British spy. Laurent was a French spy. The war is over. Marcus finds a paper which lists some society functions coming up. He believes Laurent will attend those and do bad things. His boss does not believe him. So Marcus alone attends those events to investigate. At the first event there are gun shots. At the second event Laurent does something bad, Marcus chases him, more gun shots, Marcus is shot. Three problems: 1. Marcus should carry a gun at these events. He has no weapon and has to flee from the shooter. What kind of spy goes after another spy without a weapon? 2. When Marcus is shot, he wants to keep it a secret which I did not understand. Everyone already knows about the big bad thing that happened. But Marcus won’t let anyone call a Doctor because he doesn’t want the guests to know he was shot? I did not understand. 3. Why didn’t Marcus take some gun carrying associates to help him?

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    Alison Larkin would be ok for another type of book, but she did not fit 21-year-old-party-girl Phillippa. The narrator sounds like an elderly lady.

    Narrative mode: 3rd person.
    Genre: regency romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • After Hours

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Cara McKenna
    • Narrated By Lucy Rivers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (91)

    Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing's prepared her for the demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection - and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who's more than willing to provide it. Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she'd never get involved with.

    Jordy says: "" We got a little something between us.""
    "3 ½ stars. Lots of sex."
    Overall
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    Story

    Not enough warm interaction. Great audiobook narrator.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    I was pleased with Lucy Rivers. Her voice is clear, not elderly, not teenagerly. She enunciates well, speaks at a slow good pace. Nice emotional interpretation. She’s not perfect for men but good doing them. I wanted to buy more books that she narrates so I studied her list. Sadly, most of her books are 1st person New Adult - so I did not get them. I hope more authors will use her.

    THE STORY:
    Erin is 5'3" pretty and smart. She starts a new job as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital. She meets Kelly 6'3" big muscles, mean looking, bouncer-type orderly who is there to restrain patients. Kelly tells Erin they are going out. He orders her drinks and food without asking what she likes. But he does ask if she will spend the weekend with him for nonstop sex.

    OPINION:
    I enjoyed Kelly’s personality. He’s all cave man. He does neat things. I liked Erin and her interaction with patients, her sister, and the sister’s bully boyfriend. But I did not like the way she treated Kelly. She played hard to get and acted indifferent to him. She was attracted to him and desired him as a boyfriend, but she didn’t want to admit it to herself. And she thought he if she showed interest, he’d lose interest. Those are real life things, but not necessarily fun to read about. When Erin’s car broke, she called Kelly for help. He came and helped her but she was mean to him because she didn’t like needing someone’s help. And when he did something really cool to protect Erin and her sister from a bully, I loved it. But Erin was mean and angry about it. So, I did not enjoy her. The effect was emotional distance. I did not feel as good as romance usually makes me feel.

    The author has some good ideas. “Use the word “doctor” as often as possible when speaking to Dr. Morris. It’s courtesy but also currency.” Kelly has a calming effect on patients. He walks among them. He’s like a wall that they can lean on (figuratively).

    The sex scenes are good. There is a little spanking and slapping. The cave man demands were fun. But some of the sex scenes felt too long. My mind wandered at times.

    At the end of the book I felt like it should have been shortened. Something about it was too drawn out.

    I was annoyed that the author used a female name for the hero Kelly. It requires the reader’s brain to do a special translation every time it is used. It reminded me of the Johnny Cash song about a man called Sue.

    I would have preferred 3rd person.

    Narrative mode: 1st person Erin.
    Genre: erotic contemporary romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance, Knitting in the City, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Penny Reid
    • Narrated By Jennifer Grace
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (90)

    After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn - the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies - to make her an offer she can't refuse.

    Sharon says: "Could Not Stop Listening....."
    "Insecure heroine with silly actions."
    Overall
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    The author has a wonderful witty mind – so many interesting, unusual, fun phrases and thoughts. BUT... she needs to come up with a better reason to keep the couple apart. The problem in both books 1 and 2 is: The heroine desires the guy, loves the guy, misses him, and wants to be with him. But for illogical reasons or fears she runs away, avoids him, and breaks up with him - even after having great sex. Some will say this is a character’s actions NOT fitting her motivations (violating a writing rule). Others will say illogical silly heroine can be humorous. But humor is in the eye of the beholder and this beholder wasn’t there. But I did chuckle and smile several times because the author has a fabulous mind. But for much of the book I was annoyed and impatient.

    Most of the story has Janie insecure and afraid. She is angsty in her conversations. For almost every question Quinn asks, she takes a long time to answer. She beats around the bush, changes the subject, answers other questions, and delays. Another example, Janie does not want to have sex with Quinn if he is seeing other women, but she takes forever beating around the bush to say it, using ummmm’s uhhhh’s and vague metaphors. A few times this happened with other characters. Someone starts to say something I’m eager to hear, and then takes five minutes of distractions before saying it. Maybe that works sometimes, but I did not like it here.

    OTHER BOOKS:
    I gave 2 stars to the first two books in the series. This is book 1. Book 2 is “Friends Without Benefits.”
    I gave 5 stars to book 3 “Love Hacked” – those characters and actions were really good.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    Jennifer Grace did an excellent job with Janie, but she was a little off for Quinn. I felt him differently than she did.

    Narrative mode: 1st person Janie.
    Genre: contemporary romance.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Painted House

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By David Lansbury
    Overall
    (763)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (196)

    In a departure from the legal thriller genre, John Grisham's latest novel draws inspiration from his own rural childhood in Arkansas. Listen and enjoy this moving tale about a 7-year-old boy and the dose of reality that comes, one autumn during the harvest, to take away his innocence. Also available abridged.

    Janelle Carter says: "Bittersweet way of life of time past...."
    "The audiobook narrator makes this better"
    Overall
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    Story

    than my own reading would be.

    I am biased against 1st person point-of-view (thanks to the New Adult genre). But this book reminds me how great 1st person can be. And I can’t imagine this story done any other way. This is 1st person Luke. He is seven-years-old. He is always sneaking around and listening to things and seeing things he’s not supposed to. It was exciting. And then he’s got all these secrets. He doesn’t want to keep secrets but he has to. I enjoyed Luke’s thoughts and dialogue. His family is dirt poor but he’s happy. Luke finds joy in daydreams about baseball and getting a St. Louis Cardinals jacket. Luke feels lucky when he compares his life to sharecroppers who have no screens, no fan, and no electricity to listen to the baseball games on the radio. Their kids have no shoes.

    I consider John Grisham the king of character development, and this book is full of it. Here’s an example: A poor family buys groceries on credit. Little boy signs the account book at the store for something he is buying. The store lady looks at it and says “Coming along.” She meant his handwriting was improving. I thought she was going to say something negative.

    I smiled and enjoyed so many things during this book. At the end I cried, but it wasn’t a depressing cry. It was more about good things people do for others - or do for the principle of the thing. There was a very moving idea at the end – that no matter how dire your circumstances, someone else is worse off and would love to be in your shoes. I was also happy about Luke and his parents starting something new that was going to be good.

    Some readers complained that some of the story lines were not finished at the end. I was ok with that. Sure I would have loved to keep going or have a sequel. But that was because the stories were good and I didn’t want to stop.

    WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
    Luke’s family owns a cotton farm. The story begins in September as they hire a group of Mexicans and a family from the hills to help pick cotton. The Mexicans stay in the barn. The family camps in the yard. The story takes place over the next two months as these characters interact and pick cotton. They play baseball. Some local bullies fight. A carnival comes to town. There’s a mystery about a pregnant teen girl.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
    David Lansbury’s young boy voice and emotional interpretations were fabulous.

    Narrative mode: 1st person Luke.
    Genre: fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Seraphina

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Rachel Hartman
    • Narrated By Mandy Williams, Justine Eyre
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (270)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (243)

    Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered.

    Amazon Customer says: "Completely Inspiring Fantasy"
    "Character development was missing."
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    Performance
    Story

    Instead I got physical descriptions of characters and general world building - describing the history of dragons and humans together - their past and current conflicts. Then there are several scenes where Seraphina goes unconscious while she receives dreamlike information. I could not stay interested. My mind kept wandering. I had to repeat several paragraphs. I read a fourth of the book and stopped.

    Immediately after this book, I needed a character development fix. So I went with John Grisham’s book “A Painted House.” Wow, what a difference. He’s the king of character development. I read Grisham when I start to forget what good writing is like. (My definition of good writing - not everyone agrees with me.)

    I liked the Seraphina setting and world building concepts. I just didn’t like the way it was filled in.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS:
    Mandy Williams and Justine Eyre were very good.

    Narrative mode: 1st person Seraphina.
    Genre: YA fantasy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Devil's Game: Reapers Motorcycle Club, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Joanna Wylde
    • Narrated By Tatiana Sokolov, Todd Haberkorn
    Overall
    (401)
    Performance
    (373)
    Story
    (374)

    Em has lived her entire life in the shadow of the Reapers. Her overprotective father, Picnic, is the club's president. The last time she had a boyfriend, Picnic shot him. Now the men in her life are far more interested in keeping her daddy happy than showing her a good time. Then she meets a handsome stranger - a man who isn't afraid to treat her like a real woman. One who isn't afraid of her father. His name is Liam, and he's The One. Or so she thinks.

    Malinda says: "Great addition to the series! :D"
    "Lots of sex. Ok story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There was so much sex I found it humorous. I was chuckling during some sex scenes. But that’s better than being bored. I was impressed that the author could write so much sex without being repetitive. When they aren’t having sex, they are thinking about it, or talking about it.

    The story was interesting, although it could have used more plot details. It’s the flavor of Romeo and Juliet. Em and Hunter belong to rival motorcycle clubs. If they become a couple, he cannot be a leader because his club won’t trust him to keep secrets from the other club (through her). In the beginning he kidnaps her to use as leverage for club business.

    A lot of swear words – about every other paragraph.

    When he kidnaps her, he plays with her body but does not complete the sex act. She felt desire. Some readers might call this is rape. I’m not sure what to call it.

    Motorcycle Club romance reminds me of werewolf packs with the way they treat women, and the males fight for domination and fight other packs. It’s popular. But if you really boil it down, they are like gangs selling drugs and killing. But that’s not romantic. So we readers are not supposed to think of it that way. Sorry I’m ruining the mood. But hey, I still enjoy a good motorcycle club book.

    A minor complaint. The formulaic fight was too predictable. He did something early in the book and I knew that was going to be a problem later when she found out. Then later just before it happened, I knew it was going to happen. My biggest complaint with book 1 was too many things were predictable like that.

    My big complaint: Em’s father promised something and broke his promise. Damage was done. I was so angry, I couldn’t get over it. It ruined the happy ending for me. It’s in the Spoiler below.

    CAUTION SPOILER:
    Em takes Hunter to her home for Thanksgiving. She makes her father Picnic promise that no harm will come to Hunter from his club. Well, they beat him up and Picnic threw the first punch. As a result Hunter lost a tooth, had broken ribs, and other damage. I was so angry at Picnic breaking his promise. And then I was let down when Em forgave him so quickly. I could not let go of my anger.
    END SPOILER.

    AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS:
    Tatiana Sokolov and Todd Haberkorn took turns reading chapters. She read male and female voices in one chapter. And Todd read male and female voices in the next chapter. This was bad. They should have worked together so that she read all female lines and he read all male lines. Both of them were very good for their own sex, but sounded weird and not sexy doing the other sex. Also, Tatiana sometimes said the “s” sound in a way that was distracting.

    DATA:
    Narrative mode: 1st person Em and Hunter in alternating chapters.
    Genre: romantic suspense, motorcycle clubs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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