This is the first I have heard of this writer and I was delighted to find that she has an original, contemporary voice and knows her craft well. The dialog was fresh, flowed well, and fit the characters exactly. This is a romance that is not written with the same, tired phrases found in every romance book (well, maybe a couple of times...).
This is a story heavy on character development rather than plot, which was predictable. Any disappointment with the predictable plot was easily overridden by the skill of the writer. The main male love interest's personality was written a bit heavy-handedly, but somehow worked.
The narrator really 'got' the main character and used a natural approach to differentiating between characters. A couple of times, I wished she had distinguished more clearly between the main character's internal and external dialog, but overall, good job.
The publisher says this is an "adult" series, which is a term they are using loosely. Technically, Serena is an adult as a college freshman, but she is a self-absorbed girl who is struggling with high-school level concerns, such as her first kiss, virginity, making friends, talking in front of a class,... The author provides reasoning to explain her immaturity (as a super model, she didn't experience normal high school life) but this doesn't cover the fact that the majority of content addresses juvenile issues. This is not a bad story - just not what was advertised - albeit bedroom scenes are included.
Serena leaves modeling to attend college. Her domineering mom-manager doesn't agree and ceases contact. Serena meets the star football player, Sean, who is struggling with the loss of his mother and uncertainty in his future career. Sean introduces Serena to many first time experiences as the two fall in love.
Andre's writing mechanics are solid, but her character development should be much deeper. This is particularly important since the plot not only lacks inspiration, but nothing happens. Because this is a simple story of two people falling in love, dialog and character depth are particularly important. In addition, the premise of a virginal super model hooking up with the college star athlete is so solicitous that it's condescending.
Overall, skip it.
Reese is a troubled and trouble-making 21 year-old who takes a trip to Cancun as a step in recovery from a short, painful marriage. She meets Ben, who is on his last day of vacation. Even though Ben is the type to sleep with any female who shows an interest, he is enamored by Reese’s energy, unsocial behavior, and sharp tongue. Reese is estranged from her materialistic mother and accepts the assistance of one of her mother’s exes and past step-father, who puts her to work in his law firm.
Ben and Reese meet again months later as Ben begins his first position as a lawyer in the same firm. Reese’s ex appears back in her life with his new wife and former mistress. Reese is bitter and wants to hurt them as much as they hurt her, which drives much of Reese’s actions through the book. Ben is happy to be entertained by and a participant in Reese’s revenge as long as she understands and accepts his position against commitment.
The last book in a series, “Five Ways to Fall” reads well without reading previous installments. Tucker can write and is particularly good with character development, but isn’t the best storyteller. The plot would have been strengthened by expounding on Reese’s parents and her quest to learn about her father. The performances are well done, but production has a few small problems.
Overall, good escapism and worth a credit.
A private investigator, Artemus Black, lives in Hollywood where he works for the rich and famous. He has had little success in life, including his relationships, professions, and finances. Black lives a satire of a noir detective movie, even dressing the part. He takes on a case to help a has-been actor turned director, which promises a much needed financial boost, but brings betrayal and murder.
In this book, Russell Blake shows he is a master of dialog and fun characters. Black's assistant, Roxy, banters with him at a level equivalent to Grant and Russell in "His Girl Friday" In fact, Black engages in witty dialog with most characters, which is the element that makes this book worth the time to hear.
Overall, the plot is not particularly intriguing, but Blake's solid writing skills, character building, and balanced humor make this book fun - entertaining. I'm getting the next one in the series.
Fluffy and fun, the first book (and best) in a series of love stories is enjoyable and fairly well written. Indy Savage owns a used-bookstore/cafe where an amusing group of friends gathers regularly. Indy meets Lee Nightingale who owns a private investigation company. Lee moves in, after knowing Indy since childhood, as he protects her from a crazy succession of attacks caused by the side business of a cafe employee. Some grammatical problems, but because it's written in first person, this could be intentional.
About the series: I have listened to books 1 - 6 and found each one a repeat of the first love story. In fact, the love interests from one book to the next are so closely matched in characteristics that the author must have copied some of the dialog word-for-word. Still, they offer adequate entertainment, especially if you listen to other authors in between listening to books in this series.
Haven is a child born into captivity by a mother who is a victim of human trafficking and living as a slave to a mafia couple. At seventeen, Haven attempts escape with the encouragement of her mother, who suspects Haven’s parentage puts her in danger of her master’s wife. Haven does not get far before recapture, but a mafia associate buys the girl. Haven is moved in with the associate’s family, where she meets and falls in love with one of the teenage sons. The two learn of deep mafia secrets that threaten their life together.
Abuse, slavery, and other such topics are usually elements I avoid in my escapism listening, but Darhower handles them tactfully, without unnecessary gore. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of violence; there is, but the author focuses on plot and characterization. The plot keeps the story moving at a satisfactory pace, but isn’t particularly original. The characters are real and complex, demonstrating the author’s strength. She blends action, romance, violence, and family relationships in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel forced.
The best aspect of this audiobook is its reader. I would not have enjoyed this as much if I had read it. The Italian, voices, pace –everything…, is expertly performed. One of the best I have heard.
Overall, I recommend giving this one a try – I am immediately picking up the next one in the series.
A young, rash lawyer, Alex Garnett, takes a position with the CIA, an opportunity that Alex later learns was orchestrated by his father, a powerful Washington insider. Alex’s employment history is speckled with self-sabotage and impetuous behavior because of his wish to prove himself and not benefit from his father’s influence.
His complicated relationship with his father seems to be the reason behind his actions that cause trouble in his new job as Alex probes into secretes beyond his security clearance. With intelligence (and recklessness), Alex learns of a long-hidden Washington power that manipulates the government and events around the world – and that power is determined to stay hidden.
The premise stretches plausibility, but the story is well-paced and includes some fun action. Guggenheim’s writing reminds me of Tom Clancy. Guggenheim is a competent author, although I would like to see more originality in this story. Even so, I will look for more from him.
Performance – very good.
Overall, I recommend giving this a try.
A CIA operative wakes handcuffed to a bed in a strange room. Groggy and disoriented, she does not know who she is or answers to the questions of her captors. She escapes, stumbling into a community gym where the owner has seen mentally ill patients on the run in the past and recognizes the same symptoms in the confused woman. He feels compelled to help her. As a chase by evil-doers for the woman ensues, she begins putting the pieces of her life’s puzzle together. My wording here is deliberately cliché to suit the premise and plot.
Even with an over-used storyline, I still give this book 2.5 stars for 3 reasons: the writer’s mechanics are solid, male-female role reversal, and adequate dialog. There are no interesting twists or deep characterizations, but the author has an effortless style. I like the uniquely strong female lead with the male lead in a secondary, but not simpering, role.
This book did not pull me in, but with only one mediocre rating in audible, I was expecting a near disaster. It is not. Even so, the plot is not strong enough to thrill, the suspense lacks intrigue, the protagonist’s relationship is not a romance, and the dialog is not entertaining enough to carry the story.
In short, this author shows potential, but needs to deepen her research and apply much more creativity across the board.
An assassin uses his professional knowledge to become a famous writer who travels around the world. He uses his writing career as a cover for his true passion, killing. At the beginning of this story, Nick the assassin targets a woman whose identity under witness protection is leaked. Nick decides to take advantage of her dilemma to deepen his cover with a ready-made family; so, instead of killing his target, he hooks up with her and her little girl. To further complicate the premise, Nick’s employer disagrees with his choice and targets him too. The new ‘family’ goes on the run.
All characters in this story are completely unlikable – even the little girl. (Well, her dog is ok.) They think little of violence and killing. As Nick survives one unlikely scenario after another, the mother squirms a little at the violence, but recovers quickly and doesn't second guess her relationship with a self-proclaimed psychopathic killer. With only occasional recognition that they make horrid role models, adults shrug and chuckle at a young girl’s blood thirsty attitude. Unbelievable coincidences and rescues are non-stop; so the story moves quickly, lessening the pain of this book’s many problems.
The reader’s robotic style is difficult to hear for long periods, but it fits the main character well, as the assassin feels as deeply as a machine.
Overall, don’t waste a credit.
Eisler writes “Memories” from John Rain’s view point, explaining his fall into assassination as a profession. After the Vietnam war, Rain stays in Asia, living in Tokyo without belonging or meaning; but, for a 20 year-old lacking education, he lives comfortably. Not having yet developed his calculated constraint seen in previous books, Rain reacts rashly to three punks and accidentally kills a relative of a powerful clan. Rain’s lack of experience and relative naiveté are challenges he needs to overcome to stay alive and turn the tables on a growing list of enemies, including the Japanese government and his own employer. While in hiding, Rain becomes romantically involved with a Korean woman, whom he unwittingly places in danger. As the publisher’s summary says, Rain learns, “lessons of love, war, and betrayal.”
As always, Eisler’s descriptions of Tokyo are vivid without unnecessary details or wordy descriptions. It brings together so many elements of good storytelling and good writing that I am grateful to another listener for highly recommending Barry Eisler’s books.
This series reminds me of Child’s Jack Reacher series. I like Child’s writing, but I do not understand the reason for the Reacher series’ success over that of the Rain series. Perhaps the Rain series’ isn’t appreciated as much because its premise is assassination; or, perhaps its fuzzy distinction between good and evil is unappealing; or, perhaps unlike Reacher, Rain’s remoteness is not a choice, rather a result of childhood experiences as a Japanese-American. All of which are pluses for me. Also, Eisler’s character development is deeper; the scenery is much richer and more exotic; its research is extensive; and, the plots are drawn from espionage and current events.
Eisler narrates this himself – and does so excellently.
Overall, I highly recommend this series.
An ex-ballet dancer is reduced to acting as an 'octagon girl,' walking the octagon shaped cage in skimpy clothing, holding round cards for MMA fights. Her continued employment in the high paying job is dependent upon her success in keeping a former marine turned MMA welterweight in the cage and winning. The dancer moves in with the fighter under the flimsy premise to help his tortured soul. The two try to resist each other, but predictably cannot.
The story is slow and foreseeable as interactions between the ballerina, lusty men, and the fighter are repeated several times with similar results, which are woven into an on-again-off-again relationship cycle of the two main characters. The author's use of the ballerina's ex-boyfriend and the fighter's playmate as antagonists is weakly executed. It's likely the author's goal was to explore sexual tension between two opposite characters, but their development is not deep enough to be intriguing.
The book reads as though the author jumped onto the MMA writing bandwagon for the sole purpose of selling books, rather than based on intimate experience or particular interest in the subject. Although the author's storytelling lacks creativity and depth, her writing technique shows glimmers of talent, earning a second star on a one star book.
Overall, don't waste a credit.
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