Like others have said, if you are buying this based on the strength of Water for Elephants (as I was), then skip it. It's just another average novel with apes as the hook. Just a few minutes into it I had a feeling it was never going to measure up to Gruen's first book but I kept hoping it would get better.
I did not care for the narrator, especially when he made all of the younger characters in the story sound like Snake from the Simpsons. What kind of a weird accent is that anyway? There is too much needless detail about things unimportant to the story, and too much buildup to an anticlimactic ending. I'm always interested in human animal communication and I liked that aspect, but the overall story wasn't at all what I thought it would be. I hope Gruen writes something else like her first novel as that is right up there with my favorite books.
I love horror stories that make me shudder. This one is excellent. A family moves to a small Northwest town and Angela's grandmother's house and has to fight the evil that lives there.
First, I want to warm people that it starts off with the suicide of a teenage boy. Having a son that age I was thinking of stopping right there. I am so glad I stuck with it. It starts off a little slow then gets going so well that I could not stop listening.
The prose is wonderful and the story went places I did not expect. The end is amazing! I did not know how she was going to get there, but Tananarive Due made it happen in a way that made me love it. Lots of twists and turns. You can tell she gave the story a lot of thought when you see how it fits all together in the end.
The narration is very well done. At times I forgot I was listening to someone talk because the narrator just put the pictures in my head like reading a book does. That's the sign of a good narrator to me. It is interesting how the story moves from the main character Angela, to her son Cory, and her husband and you get a feeling for their thoughts and feelings.
The story reminded me a little (and not in any copy cat sort of way) of Stephen King's Rose Red, because these two stories are the ultimate haunted houses. As in Rose Red, not everyone makes it out OK. Some people succomb to evil.
I also really loved the perspective. The family in the story is clearly African American and their perspective is different from mine. A good novel can take you into someone else's life and the author does this well. Loved seeing how other families have the some of the same and some different issues and how they go about handling them.
I can't say enough good about this book. Extremely well done! If you like the horror genre you shouldn't miss this one.
I felt unease from the first few minutes listening to this story. It took a bit of listening to place it in time. I guess if I had looked at the Publisher's Summary I would have seen that it was 1939, but I didn't so I had to try to figure it out, which I did eventually.
At first the unease is in the relationship between Frank and Eudora. The author does a good job to give you a sense that there is something off about the relationship, and you discover later that the start of their relationship has created chaos and trauma for them both.
Then there is Whitbrow, and that place is odd and so many things make you uneasy that you know something is going on. The town has a strange ritual of sending pigs across the river as a sacrifice and when they decide it's a silly ritual and to stop, things go haywire.
A good horror story makes me uncomfortable as this one did. There is one scene towards the end that still makes me a little ill thinking about it, but it is what the one thing that allows Frank to make a decision about what he is going to do and is crucial to the story.
Well written, nice prose, and a sense of unease that blooms into terror. What more could you want from a horror novel?
Funny, I didn't find the narrator nearly as bad as so many have said. I thought Tess was kind of a flighlty character and the narrator fit her well. It didn't bother me at all.
I titled this "A Guilty Pleasure" because I can see that it's not really a great book, but I enjoyed it all the same. It's kind of like a romance novel with the "steamy" parts cut out, which is fine with me. Girl runs away to America, gets on the Titanic, survives, must choose between two men, and deal with a talented but demanding dress designer and her empire. That about sums up the whole story.
I have to say, though, when I was reading the part where the Titanic was sinking I was absolutely riveted. I was so involved in what was going on I have no real memory of driving home. That part was definitely worth the credit. The author did a nice job of weaving fictional characters into a story with real events and real characters. The designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon was a real person who survived the Titanic sinking and was credited with starting one the first off the rack clothing lines and Tess' story revolves around her. Some of the trial is included in the story and intrigued me enough to look online for the transcript of the trial, which you can read in its entirety.
If you want a kind of Summer at the Beach listen this might be a good story. If you want something more substantial, I'd say pass.
I love historical fiction and thought I would like to read about Catherine de Medici. I guess I picked the wrong book. I almost did not go beyond the first part of the download. I could not stand the character as a child and found her to be so simpering and annoying that I wondered why anyone would write about her, let alone want to read about her.
It picked up a bit in the middle section, and then lost me again in the end. Too much intrigue, too much astrology ( and I can't believe I would say that, but I was tired of it), and too much of poor decision making that led to disasterous consequences. It took me quite a bit longer to get through this story because I found my mind wandering and I kept having to repeat sections to get caught up. I'd rather read something that keeps my attention.
Again, it's personal preference but this story just did not hit the mark for me.
I'm not sure why the reference was made to Outlander, because this is certainly not the saga that Outlander was. Maybe because of the time travel element. I did, however, really enjoy this book. It's fairly light. Some of it is sad because it starts out explaining how Eva is feeling all alone in the world and why she travels to Cornwall where she spent some wonderful Summers as a child.
It's interesting mode of time travel portrayed in this book, sort of a merging between two worlds that Eva has access to, but cannot control. Plus there is an addition of another time traveler and a few twists that make it a really interesting read. The author made an interesting point that in our modern world the idea that time cannot be changed is so ingrained that we believe it to be true, but she wonders if it is actually true. Events in the book lead you to make a guess at her conclusion.
It's not Diana Gabaldan if that's what you are looking for, but it's a nice listen and I kept wanting more. In fact, I was sorry when it ended. I would like to have seen what happened next.
The narration was well done. Nothing outstanding, but I think the narratot's voice fit Eva's character well.
I believe I will try another of this author's stories. These kinds of books make my commute much more enjoyable.
As another reviewer said, the narration of Kate Winslet was wonderful and I enjoyed listening to her, I just wish I had enjoyed the story more. I understand it is a study in jealousy and in how people handle guilt and remorse, but the writing style just failed to keep me interested. The idea behind this reminded me very much of Poe's Tell-Tale Heart.
Of course it is a matter of personal preference, but for me I found the story extremely boring and the characters so flawed that I didn't care what happened to any of them. In fact, most every character is so flawed that they become cookie cutter "bad," like the proverbial villian in the black clothing of old movies.
As much as I love listeining to Kate Winslet, the story just didn't catch my interest.
I listened to this one well past my commute and on the weekends becaue I wanted to see what happened. As others have said, it was a fresh perspective from the male point of view.
Lots of goof stuff ging on here, a little history, little soul mate idea, and a little magic rolled together with Southern "charm" (and sometimes not so charming.) The characterizations were well done and well rounded.
The narration was quite good as well. Yes, it got little cheesy at times, but it's young adult andI think at 16 we all felt that our first love was the end all be all of the universe, so it works.
Bottom line was it was really a good listen. Oh, and this one had some sound effects thrown in so it was a nice change of pace.
After reading so many great reviews I was excited to listen to The Winter Palace. Historical fiction is hands down my favorite genre. I love seeing an event in history woven into a story. When well written, I almost feel I was there. I also very much enjoy stories of Russia and have been very happy listening to Russian Winter and The Romanov Bride.
The Winter Palace fails on so many levels. First, as others have said, the narration was terrible. It's not only the accent, it's more the odd way the narrator emphasizes her sentences. With a good enough story it could be overlooked but this story was boring, boring, boring. I almost didn't finish it.
Next was the poor character development. Catherine the Great is seen as a simpering, crying, and maipulated fool, and her husband is a man who never grew up and a total idiot. The Empress Elizabeth is cruel and horrible. Who could care what happened to any of them? Historically accurate or not (no idea), I could not have cared less about any of them. Even the protagonist was a shallow, weak woman who only took control at the end of the story and by then I was just happy for it to end. Was there nothing redeeming about any of these people? We never see any inkling of why Catherine was named The Great.
Another issue was how the author continually used foreshadowing that never went anywhere. I found it annoying to hear the narrator say "I later wished I had noticed the bitterness in his voice." So I expected that to be explained "later," but it never was. Either the editing was terrible or the author just doesn't weave a story well.
And I was so often distracted with the dullness of the story I found myself lost with who was who and had to rewind to listen to pieces to figure out what was happening, which generally wasn't very much. The author also has a tendency to refer to people by two names and it gets confusing to whom she is referring. In the first half of the book the Chancellor of Russia is important character, and then in the second half he loses his position and is refered to by name. Somewhere along the line I missed his name and so I was continually trying to figure out if this guy was the former Chancellor or some other male character. I don't think the reader/listener should have to work that hard.
Finally, this book just failed to grab my attention or keep it for any length of time. Just a disappointment overall. Hopefully my next credit will be a much better listen!
This book kind of meanders along when Rose shows up to help a widow keep his house and help with his three boys. Her brother comes along and you can't help but be facinsated by his character as well. Of course they have a secret which in the end is the focal point of this coming of age story.
I kind of wondered if it was just going to be a set of vignettes and never really get anywhere, but all the little pieces fall into place as it goes along. If you find it slow at first, just keep going (although sometimes it's easier to just move to something else.) The author did an excellent job of weaving the facts of the time with his historical fictional characters, such as Hailey's Comet.
I must admit I hated the narrator at first. And yet the longer I listened to the story, the more the narrator seemed to fit into it. So if you like Little House types of stories, this may be a good one for you. By the end I was excited to get in the car and listen and I found myself sitting in the driveway for extra time to listen befor heading in the house. I thought about this on long after I finished reading it.
I enjoyed this book. I thought the handling of the witches, vampires, and demons was excellent. It is only similar to Twilight (as others have stated) in that a vampire and a woman (in this case a witch) fall in love and that is forbidden in this society. The vampire Matthew has quite a history and it is interesting to watch that part of the story weave itself into the main story.
Diana is a flawed character, which I much prefer to a perfect main characater, and her flaws just enhance the course of the story. A witch that can't perform any magic doesn't make any sense until the pieces start to fall into place.
I especially love the house where Diana's aunts live. It's alive and full of ghosts, and everyone just accepts it. Really a lot of fun.
I recommend this to any fan of supernatural fiction. It's interesting and just fun. I can't wait for the next book. The ending screams for a sequel.
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