I liked "In the Woods" so I figured I'd like this one at least as much. I wasn't disappointed!
It's told from the view of Cassie Maddox, partner of Rob from the last instalment. Cassie's much funnier than Rob, and I enjoyed her character more. Heather O'Neill does a wonderful job in her Irish accent that isn't harsh or overwhelming. Some of the male voices are a little flat, but overall she really added to the story.
My one issue with this story is that Tana French's writing style still has the issues it had in the first book. Similes often don't seem to be a real comparison (for example, various supernatural entities seem to run up and down people's backs quite often). That isn't so bad, really, but the habit of putting two adjectives at the end of a sentence started to detract from the story after a while. I kept asking myself how so many things could be "wild and sweet."
That's a pity, because the story here is even more exciting than the last one. Fans of "In the Woods" will love it, and for those who haven't read it, no problem--it stands alone. It does start a little bit slowly. But still, with the great characters and exciting story, you'll definitely listen to the end.
This came up in my recommendations, and I'm glad I gave it a shot. The author alternates between 2010 and 1985, telling the story of architect Regina "Reggie" Dufrane and her flaky mom, Vera. Vera's a washed-up former model who asks everyone she meets if they knew she was the Aphrodite Cold Cream girl.
In 1985, Vera disappears, taken by a serial killer. Her body never turns up, though...at least not for a while.
The alternation between timelines adds to the suspense. It's hard to guess what's going to happen next, no matter which year you're in! I have to admit it didn't keep me guessing all the way until the end--but I was still in the dark for much longer than I would have been with a typical mystery.
Going back and forth was also the source of my main issue with the book: some of the characters came out a bit cardboardish. It seemed that with their timelines split, none of them had the chance to become whole. That feeling carried over to a few characters who existed only in one of the years, too. It felt like they just didn't get enough page time to fully develop.
Still, the problem was small in a story that moved so fast, taking so many interesting twists and turns. The ending did not disappoint. And I can't say enough about the narration, expertly provided by Julia Whelan who did such a fabulous job on "Gone Girl."
Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good, creepy serial killer yarn!
There are numerous descriptions of the structure of this book, so I'll skip the details and just say there are six different stories, all set in different times, but interconnected, and each is read by a different narrator.
The narration alone made this book worth a listen. It starts with Scott Brick--one of my favorites, although I know some people don't like him as much as I do. But the other narrators are good too, particularly the one in the middle, longest section (sorry, don't know which one he is), who reads in a futuristic sort of Hawaiian pidgin.
All the stories are at least engaging, and all but a couple are fun, with humorous moments. In each case it's as if someone is reading to you, or just telling you a story, perhaps to kill time while traveling, or at a boring party, or maybe around a campfire.
That's the power of this book: there are so many stories in the world, and so many are connected.
I do wonder if some of the stories could stand well on their own. One or two of these wouldn't have been as good without the framework. Together, though, they make a good experience. All were suspenseful; while I didn't care about every single character I did want to know what happened to them all. And the characters that I did care about stayed with me for days after listening.
So I wouldn't say this is the greatest novel of all time. But I do recommend it for the light it throws on the messy, sad, funny, happy human experience.
This was my first Audible "A-list" title, and I was not disappointed. Claire Danes was the perfect choice for this book.
What used to be the United States is now Gilead, a monotheistic regime where women are protected from "too much choice." Like our real-world foremothers of a few hundred years ago, the women of Gilead cannot earn money, own property, or vote. They have few lifestyle options: governess, domestic, prostitute, mother. Females with "viable ovaries" are drafted as "Handmaids," surrogate mothers for sterile women of the elite class.
For Offred, the Handmaid of the title, life is a chorus of "not allowed." No reading, for women may not read. No fraternization, no conversation, no acknowledgement, no unauthorized possessions like hand lotion. Only fear and loneliness remain as Offred spends her days in a grim little room from which anything she could use to kill herself has been removed.
Through it all she's starving for human interaction, yet terrified that she'll look in the wrong direction, say a wrong word, and be transferred to the ominous Colonies with the other "UnWomen." Claire Danes reads matter-of-factly, her emotions understated as if she really is Offred, who must hide all longing and pain to stay alive.
While there are plenty of great narrators to choose from among Audible titles, it's very infrequent that the performance makes the book this much better. The story is as chilling as it was when the book was published, but Danes' reading brings out the suffering, the confusion, the "how-did-I-get-to-this-awful-place" feelings in a way that didn't come out of the printed text.
This definitely goes on the A-list. Recommended for any woman, any mother, anyone at all.
Flannery O'Connor was what one of her own characters might call "an intellectual," yet due to her health (she suffered from lupus), she lived on a farm in the country with her mother. This collection is in my opinion her best, because the stories draw directly from that struggle while taking on dozens of other issues such as racial and social equality, gender equality, faith, and mother/child dynamics.
My favorite story here is "The Lame Shall Enter First," a sly, dry, and ultimately revealing view of what O'Connor believed Jesus had in mind for all His followers. The rest show the world from the perspective of the postwar American South: the old ways still fighting the new. As one character says early on, "...the bottom rail is on the top," and few seem happy about it.
The resulting gloom could have made these stories depressing, but they're much too funny for that. O'Connor's particular gift was dialogue, a lot of which is still laugh-out-loud hilarious, even when you've read every story multiple times before.
The narrators here do a fabulous job. Nobody overdoes it on the Southern accents, and the audio quality is great. Flannery O'Connor's work is a national treasure--every American book-lover should experience these stories, and this edition is the perfect way to go.
This is the first book of Lords of the North that I've listened to because the first two are available only in the abridged format (Are you listening, Audible? Abridged is yuck!).
I enjoyed the detail of Cornwell's Agincourt, so I was expecting more of the same for this book, set in my favorite period of British history. I wasn't expecting Lords of the North to be at all humorous, but I was pleasantly surprised. Uhtred is disappointed in Alfred the Great's lack of generosity--Uhtred helped Alfred drive back the invading Danes, but because he was pagan, Uhtred was rewarded only by being made the lord of Five Hides, an estate of questionable value and little prestige.
He leaves Five Hides to take back Bebbanburgh castle, rightfully his, from his uncle. "And that was when the stupidity began," he says early on. He gets into one crazy mess after another, throwing his lot in with the deluded slave/king Guthred and a band of religious fanatics--that doesn't turn out well, and the craziness keeps on coming.
Uhtred is looking back on his life through this volume, and as he laughs at the stupidity of his younger self, we laugh with him. This isn't a strictly comic novel, however--we get plenty of political plotting and a great deal of fighting (some of which is quite violent and might be a turn-off for some readers). I also got all the historic detail I was hoping for.
I see that some other reviewers aren't happy with the narrator. If I'd started with book one and a different narrator, I might feel the same way, but as it is I think Tom Sellwood was a great choice. His Northumbrian accent is spot on (enough so that it might be an issue for readers not used to northern British accents). But the best part is that he's actually acting--I really got a sense of Uhtred being an older man looking back on the follies of his youth.
Overall, highly recommended for readers who like battles, adventure, and even a few laughs.
The Undead Situation is not your usual zombie story where a few heroic survivors do heroic stuff and eventually move forward with their lives. Instead, most of these survivors are kind of...well...OK, I'll just say it. They're jerks.
Fortunately, they're funny, clever jerks, which made this book a quick and amusing listen. The main character, Cyrus V. Sinclair, won me over early on just because he knows himself so well--he understands that he's a jerk and he at least tries to work with it instead of letting it hold him back.
A few other reviewers say there's a lack of story, so I'll warn prospective readers: this isn't an epic drama. If you'd prefer a chewier apocalypse with more examination of society and morality, I recommend Stephen King's "Cell" (which by the way I really liked). In other words, you won't find a good-vs.-evil showdown here; it's a fast-moving tale of survival. Seen from that perspective, it definitely did the job, keeping me entertained and leaving me wanting more.
Another warning: like most zombie adventures, this one's got plenty of yuck. Don't do what I did and sit down to eat lunch while listening! Ew. I'd rate it at least PG-13; younger kids might be a little freaked out by the mess (unless they already like zombies and know what to expect).
This narrator was new to me, and for the most part I liked his performance. He could get hammy, but that never lasted long, and he didn't try to do high voices for the female characters, which I always appreciate. Overall, I recommend this for a funny and fast listen.
The first 15 or 20 minutes of this book are a little slow--but don't worry; that's the only break you're going to get! Real estate developer Mike Wingate's life takes a bad turn. And then another, and another, and another, and they keep on coming. Several times I found myself thinking, "OK, things have to get better soon..." but then they'd get even worse.
It's hard not to root for Mike, a foster-home kid who's turned his situation around and made a successful life for himself, his wife, and his daughter. Scenes from the past are skillfully woven in with the current tangle of fear and danger, adding an extra dimension. The turning point in this novel was completely unguessable, but still plausible. That's hard to pull off, but Hurwitz does a great job.
At times the rain of bad stuff seemed a little over the top, but it wasn't enough to detract from the story. Narrator Scott Brick, as always, is wonderful, doing a great job on all the characters including 8-year-old Kat. One word of warning: there's some graphic violence which, while not gratuitous, might be unpleasant for some listeners.
Overall a very exciting read. I'll be checking out Hurwitz's other books!
I like Stephen King and other horror writers, so I thought I'd give this a shot, even though the size was a little daunting, and I'd never heard of this Justin Cronin person.
Halfway through listening to the first downloaded section, I caught myself thinking about the book and the characters when I wasn't listening. I found myself sneaking five minutes here, ten minutes there. I enjoy the other horror novels I read or listen to, but not enough to sneak them.
Why this book and not the others? This one's just well-written. There's no other way to say it: The Passage doesn't just go for the gore. The questions are big; the characters are breathing. The world is our world, and also not our world. The gore's in there too, but it's evocative and interesting--not just splatter.
As usual, Scott Brick does a fantastic job with narration. I know he's not for everybody, but he's definitely one of my favorites. And as I mentioned, the author is just plain talented. The quality of his prose stands up to any "literary" novel on the market.
And finally, as for the "vampire" aspect, Twilight fans be warned: these vampires are not sparkly, or polite, or restrained in any way. They're good old-fashioned predators. Prepare to be terrified! I can't wait for the sequels.
There aren't so many good horror books around these days--I look at the horror section and see the Southern Vampire Mysteries or Twilight. Those aren't too bad, but they are NOT scary. I want scary.
Hater gave me enough scary to last for a couple of weeks. It has the classic structure of early Stephen King, where we meet the main character and The Bad Situation slowly spreads, giving the book momentum. By the end you're completely unable to stop listening.
The Bad Situation, in this case, is that normal people are suddenly going plain bonkers and killing family members, coworkers, even random bystanders. These once-normal people are the Haters of the title, and from the first description you're wondering how long society will last before the breakdown.
Danny McCoyne hates his life as a minor civil servant, but the Haters eventually get past even his rock-solid insulation. He comes off as a bit of a whiner for about the first quarter of the book (not helped by the slightly-whiney narrator), but later on he loses the tone and you start hoping nothing bad's going to happen to him.
Like all good speculative fiction, Hater draws parallels to our own society. It points out how sharply divided we are over things that seem pretty small in the long view. It doesn't offer incisive commentary or anything, but the metaphor gives Hater a good hook.
I give the book four stars because some parts could have been edited out without changing much about the story. Also, one caution--some scenes are extremely violent, and I hope the upcoming movie goes a little easy on those. But overall, at 7+ hours, Hater is a good time investment that will return a LOT of scary for your credits!
I read and liked the first few books of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. The series lost me around "Naked Empire" when it swerved into long political monologues--that's not what I read fantasy books for!--but the first books were fun.
The Law of Nines brought back the enjoyment of "Wizard's First Rule." There's a lot of action, and while the first third of the book is slower than the rest of the novel, it isn't boring. And some of the scenes there are pretty amusing: imagine explaining what Goth teenagers are to someone from another world!
Along with the nonstop action for the last two thirds of the book, there are some intriguing thoughts about magic and technology. There's one political monologue, but it isn't too long and Goodkind thankfully keeps it mostly within the bounds of the story.
If I have one complaint, it's that action scenes are sometimes too drawn-out. I knew what was going to happen, but the characters didn't, so I had to wait.
Overall, though, The Law of Nines was a fun listen. You'll like it if you liked the Sword of Truth series--if you're not already a fan, try this and you might become one.
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