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Holly Helscher

Holly

Cincinnati | Member Since 2008

570
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 95 reviews
  • 170 ratings
  • 797 titles in library
  • 48 purchased in 2014
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  • Handle with Care

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Celeste Ciulla
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (792)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (257)

    From mega-selling author Jodi Picoult comes an engrossing tale of medical morality and parental responsibility. Charlotte O'Keefe's daughter is born with osteogenesis imperfecta and will endure endless broken bones. Facing unthinkable medical costs, Charlotte considers a troubling solution. If she goes to court and says she would have terminated the pregnancy had she known of her daughter's condition, she might get enough money for a lifetime of medical expenses.

    Amy Augustine says: "Worth it"
    "The Ending Didn't Deliver"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of the things Jodi Picoult does best is write with vulnerability. She has a talent for showing us characters that are alive and real. We can walk into their skins and become them. Handle With Care is no exception. We have five main characters that are all talking about the primary sixth character who goes by the name of Willow. Other reviews may indicate that the characters aren't believable. I read them and asked myself, "Are they unrealistic or do I just not like them?" For me it was the latter for the adult protagonists.

    For example Charlotte, the mother. At first I liked her. But then I didn't because for all her focus on Willow, she abandoned Amelia, the older daughter. I had the same experience with Sean, Willow's father. He starts out strong but then becomes that stereotypical guy who feels threatened by any hint that he may not be able to solely support his family. He's prideful and arrogant. He, too, abandons Amelia in favor of focusing solely on Willow. That's not to say there isn't a reason for it. Willow's a special needs child with osteogenesis imperfecta.

    Then there's Piper, the OB-GYN and best friend of Charlotte. This moralistic, holier-than-thou doctor practically stops living when she's sued for malpractice by Charlotte. What's she doing being Charlotte's doctor to start with? That was her big mistake. Small town or not, it's a dual role. She's the defendant in the lawsuit Charlotte brings for wrongful birth. She's like Sean. All pride and ego. She became detestable. Kissing Sean at the end was a pointless scene. Where was the editor on that one?

    Enter Marin, the attorney who handles the wrongful birth case. This would have never come up had Sean not dragged everyone to the lawyer's office on another matter that hurt his pride. He had no case, but the lawyers see and seize on the wrongful birth one instead. Charlotte goes for it, although Sean doesn't join her. Marin is a lousy lawyer and I kept thinking if Charlotte lost her case, she'd have a malpractice suit against Marin who is very vocal about her personal feelings against it and allows a personal issue to interfere with how she conducts it. She's spineless.

    Amelia tells part of the tale and her voice is very strong and fairly in tune with most pre-teens. She tries to get her parents' attention, to no avail. In a dysfunctional family of any type, her response is typical. It's even more likely in a family whose focus is on the child with the disability. Blue hair and all, she's the most likable. There were times when I felt her story was the only one worth reading.

    By the end, we are ready for anything that brings it to a close. But Picoult doesn't deliver on the promise of the beginning. Everything was for nothing. If I had had the physical book in my hand, I would have thrown it across the room. I know Picoult can't be counted on for happy endings, but this one was ridiculous. Her foreshadowing about the end is thinly threaded throughout the book. Willow, age seven at the time the book fades to black, would know better than to do what she ended up doing. She was far too smart throughout the book to behave that way. She stepped out of the character Picoult created.

    There are places in the book where it's clear Picoult has not done enough research. There are glaring errors in dialogue that bring this to light. I cringed in many places and was embarrassed for the author. The recipes throughout the novel slowed it down and were unnecessary to the plot. I felt she latched on to a fad and just threw it in for fun.

    The performance of the readers was fine except for Sean. Sean's sections were read in a halting style. Each sentence felt like we were trying to pull a donkey along who didn't want to budge.

    This was a lackluster book. If you are Picoult fan, you may want to read it just because she wrote it. But if you are considering reading something of hers for the first time, I'd start with a different title. Most of them are better than this one.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • And Then it Happened

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Linda Green
    • Narrated By Suzie Aitcheson
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Mel Taylor was thirteen years old when she found her Mr Right. Twenty years on they remain blissfully in love. She has the man she adores, a gorgeous daughter, a great job and a dream home. But Mel's seemingly perfect life is spoilt by a dark secret and a niggling fear that her good fortune can't last for ever. Despite her husband Adam telling her to live for the present and stop worrying about the future, Mel can't shake the feeling that someone is about to call time on their happiness. And then it happens.

    Leisha says: "HAVENT YET FININSHED BUT LOVE THIS STORY"
    "Dark Chick Lit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was the first book I'd ever read by Linda Green. Given the dark nature of the story, I'm reluctant to trust her again.

    Throughout the story Mel, the wife, alerts us to something terrible she'd done in the past. This impacts many of her decisions, and one in particular. Adam, her husband, knows that Mel's perspective on life is one where she waits for the other shoe to drop into her very happy, perfect life.

    Then the shoe does drop.While I don't mind a bit of tragedy in my chick lit, or realistic situations, I do mind that light beach reading doesn't have a lighthearted resolution. Although probably a "true to life" ending, it was depressing.

    However, it is very well written.The juggling Mel does is appropriate.The inconsistent support she receives adds to the depth of the novel. Mel and Adam's daughter is simply adorable. The pace is good. Green's talent as a writer is evident.

    As always, Aitcheson is a wonderful reader. She is one of my favorites.

    It's possible that this type of story line is not typically Green. But since this was my first read by her, I cannot comment on that. If you can accept a dark topic and an ending that is unsettling, then by all means the book is fine. If you want something more along the lines of a Sophie Kinsella novel with lots of humor, then bypass it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Attachments: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Rainbow Rowell
    • Narrated By Laura Hamilton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (547)
    Performance
    (481)
    Story
    (482)

    Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, coworkers at The Courier, know the newspaper monitors their office e-mail. But they still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers, and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period. Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill still can’t believe that it’s his job to monitor other people’s e-mail.

    Julie says: "Just what I'd hoped for"
    "Chick Lit With a Twist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    From the author of acclaimed Fangirl and Eleanor & Park comes this take on the idea that big brother is watching.

    Lincoln has what he considers to be a questionable, third-shift job in IT. He reads all the emails that come through and flags them for inappropriateness. He does his job as expected until he reads the emails between Jennifer and Beth. Intrigued, he continues to read them until he becomes so engrossed in their personal exchanges that he decides he won't flag them or give the women a warning.

    Set in the Y2K panic, Lincoln preps his newspaper for the perceived, yet unlikely automatic IT shut down of the newspaper on New Year's Eve. Yet all the while he questions the integrity of what he's doing as he continues to read Jennifer's and Beth's written conversations. And he questions the ethics of the whole job.

    This is a great novel told from Lincoln's point of view. He is shy, nice, courteous and somewhat geeky. Ultimately he makes a decision that changes his life and also impacts the lives of others. This decision tears at the reader's heart making you want to jump into the book and help him.

    Rowell does another excellent job of writing and portraying real lives of people we live and work with every day. We get pulled into knowing each character and find ourselves caring about them. We want the guy and the girl to win the day and cheer for happily ever ever. Yet we are never sure of the outcome because we know how real life works. The good guy doesn't always win. Will Lincoln?

    Hamilton reads the story very well. I highly recommend the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Selection: The Selection Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Kiera Cass
    • Narrated By Amy Rubinate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1204)
    Performance
    (1098)
    Story
    (1107)

    For 35 girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth... to be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels... to live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want.

    Shannon says: "You might want to wait... if you hate cliffhangers"
    "Cinderella Without a Glass Slipper"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a lovely trilogy, young adult novel that has elements of fantasy and a reality show all rolled into one. Through a country wide selection process covering eight casts, America, in artist cast five, becomes one of 35 teenaged girls to be considered by Prince Maxim for his wife. The 35 girls travel to the palace and begin the competition. Right off the bat America demonstrates her hot temper and tendency to make critical errors that get her into trouble. Yet Maxim finds her intriguing, although the King finds her unsuitable, creating many problems for his son.

    Throughout the trilogy, the competition continues and girls get cut as Maxim dates them on the palace grounds. Sylvia, the girls' mentor presents them with projects designed both to teach them social graces and work expected of a princess.

    While Maxim deals with the ever increasing anger of his father over America continuing in the competition, America deals with the fact that her hometown boyfriend, Aspen, in cast six, has followed her to the palace to become a guard. This creates the love triangle she copes with while simultaneously dealing with the idea that Maxim may love one of the other girls in the competition. Her feelings bounce between Maxim and Aspen, and Maxim and her competitor Chris. All the while Northern and Southern rebels attack the palace, keeping everyone in danger.

    All of this creates the tension that is built up from book one. Each book dwells on fewer and fewer competitors, and we get to know bits and pieces of many of them until in book three we are down to five, and then four. And then two.

    Cass does a great job of showing us America's confusion with learning about love, and a different life in general. And while America loses her sense of self from time to time, she manages to retain the core of her spirit and sense of right and wrong. The same can be said of Maxim and Aspen.

    As a reader I fell in love with the characters and was impressed with Cass' ability to show us different characteristics of each one. Cass maintained the tension and gradually increased it. If there is one criticism of the books, I would say that America developed her trust, and revealed essential parts of herself too slowly. Occasionally I wanted to shake some sense into her. But then I had to remind myself I'm reading about a 17-year-old girl from my much older age. Then her continual uncertainty made more sense.

    This three-book series is entirely suitable for young girls. It is a love story set in a war-torn background, but there is no graphic sex or violence. There are some scenes of intimacy and gunfire, but all are appropriately written so it can be read by teenagers without parental guidance, although I can easily see mother and daughter reading it together. It will retain the interest of both.

    Rubinate reads the story beautifully and I could not detect a single error. The voices are distinguishable and her enunciation and tone are ideal for the story.

    I polished up this series in two weeks, reading it driving to and from work, during my lunch hour, remaining in my car when I got home, while I made dinner, and even while I showered. I highly recommend the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The One: Selection, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Kiera Cass
    • Narrated By Amy Rubinate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (510)
    Story
    (512)

    The time has come for one winner to be crowned. When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown - or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose - and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

    Katheryne says: "Fabulous Final Installment"
    "Cinderella Without a Glass Slipper"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a lovely trilogy, young adult novel that has elements of fantasy and a reality show all rolled into one. Through a country wide selection process covering eight casts, America, in artist cast five, becomes one of 35 teenaged girls to be considered by Prince Maxim for his wife. The 35 girls travel to the palace and begin the competition. Right off the bat America demonstrates her hot temper and tendency to make critical errors that get her into trouble. Yet Maxim finds her intriguing, although the King finds her unsuitable, creating many problems for his son.

    Throughout the trilogy, the competition continues and girls get cut as Maxim dates them on the palace grounds. Sylvia, the girls' mentor presents them with projects designed both to teach them social graces and work expected of a princess.

    While Maxim deals with the ever increasing anger of his father over America continuing in the competition, America deals with the fact that her hometown boyfriend, Aspen, in cast six, has followed her to the palace to become a guard. This creates the love triangle she copes with while simultaneously dealing with the idea that Maxim may love one of the other girls in the competition. Her feelings bounce between Maxim and Aspen, and Maxim and her competitor Chris. All the while Northern and Southern rebels attack the palace, keeping everyone in danger.

    All of this creates the tension that is built up from book one. Each book dwells on fewer and fewer competitors, and we get to know bits and pieces of many of them until in book three we are down to five, and then four. And then two.

    Cass does a great job of showing us America's confusion with learning about love, and a different life in general. And while America loses her sense of self from time to time, she manages to retain the core of her spirit and sense of right and wrong. The same can be said of Maxim and Aspen.

    As a reader I fell in love with the characters and was impressed with Cass' ability to show us different characteristics of each one. Cass maintained the tension and gradually increased it. If there is one criticism of the books, I would say that America developed her trust, and revealed essential parts of herself too slowly. Occasionally I wanted to shake some sense into her. But then I had to remind myself I'm reading about a 17-year-old girl from my much older age. Then her continual uncertainty made more sense.

    This three-book series is entirely suitable for young girls. It is a love story set in a war-torn background, but there is no graphic sex or violence. There are some scenes of intimacy and gunfire, but all are appropriately written so it can be read by teenagers without parental guidance, although I can easily see mother and daughter reading it together. It will retain the interest of both.

    Rubinate reads the story beautifully and I could not detect a single error. The voices are distinguishable and her enunciation and tone are ideal for the story.

    I polished up this series in two weeks, reading it driving to and from work, during my lunch hour, remaining in my car when I got home, while I made dinner, and even while I showered. I highly recommend the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Elite

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Kiera Cass
    • Narrated By Amy Rubinate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (847)
    Performance
    (770)
    Story
    (773)

    The selection began with 35 girls. Now, with the group narrowed down to the Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's love is fiercer than ever. The closer America gets to the crown, the more she struggles to figure out where her heart truly lies. Each moment she spends with Maxon is like a fairy tale, filled with breathless, glittering romance. But whenever she sees her first love, Aspen, standing guard, she's swept up in longing for the life they'd planned to share.

    Katheryne says: "This fan girl enjoyed it...love triangles and all!"
    "Cinderella Without a Glass Slipper"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a lovely trilogy, young adult novel that has elements of fantasy and a reality show all rolled into one. Through a country wide selection process covering eight casts, America, in artist cast five, becomes one of 35 teenaged girls to be considered by Prince Maxim for his wife. The 35 girls travel to the palace and begin the competition. Right off the bat America demonstrates her hot temper and tendency to make critical errors that get her into trouble. Yet Maxim finds her intriguing, although the King finds her unsuitable, creating many problems for his son.

    Throughout the trilogy, the competition continues and girls get cut as Maxim dates them on the palace grounds. Sylvia, the girls' mentor presents them with projects designed both to teach them social graces and work expected of a princess.

    While Maxim deals with the ever increasing anger of his father over America continuing in the competition, America deals with the fact that her hometown boyfriend, Aspen, in cast six, has followed her to the palace to become a guard. This creates the love triangle she copes with while simultaneously dealing with the idea that Maxim may love one of the other girls in the competition. Her feelings bounce between Maxim and Aspen, and Maxim and her competitor Chris. All the while Northern and Southern rebels attack the palace, keeping everyone in danger.

    All of this creates the tension that is built up from book one. Each book dwells on fewer and fewer competitors, and we get to know bits and pieces of many of them until in book three we are down to five, and then four. And then two.

    Cass does a great job of showing us America's confusion with learning about love, and a different life in general. And while America loses her sense of self from time to time, she manages to retain the core of her spirit and sense of right and wrong. The same can be said of Maxim and Aspen.

    As a reader I fell in love with the characters and was impressed with Cass' ability to show us different characteristics of each one. Cass maintained the tension and gradually increased it. If there is one criticism of the books, I would say that America developed her trust, and revealed essential parts of herself too slowly. Occasionally I wanted to shake some sense into her. But then I had to remind myself I'm reading about a 17-year-old girl from my much older age. Then her continual uncertainty made more sense.

    This three-book series is entirely suitable for young girls. It is a love story set in a war-torn background, but there is no graphic sex or violence. There are some scenes of intimacy and gunfire, but all are appropriately written so it can be read by teenagers without parental guidance, although I can easily see mother and daughter reading it together. It will retain the interest of both.

    Rubinate reads the story beautifully and I could not detect a single error. The voices are distinguishable and her enunciation and tone are ideal for the story.

    I polished up this series in two weeks, reading it driving to and from work, during my lunch hour, remaining in my car when I got home, while I made dinner, and even while I showered. I highly recommend the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Warnings of Gales

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Annie Sanders
    • Narrated By Kim Hicks
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    Three women rent a holiday house in Cornwall for the summer. Each brings with her children, baggage (in every sense), and expectations, in this sparkling follow-up to Goodbye, Jimmy Choo. There's control freak Imogen; fluffy and easygoing Sophie; and Jo, a friend of Sophie's who was roped in at the last minute when the first choice of housemate pulled out. A sardonic East London GP, all she really wants to do is put her feet up. Can these three polar opposites ever get along?

    Holly Helscher says: "Tale of the Development of Female Friendships"
    "Tale of the Development of Female Friendships"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although Sanders has taken a slight detour here from her usual plots, this was an interesting tale of three women who develop a friendship. Imogene, Sophie and Jo rent a house for about three weeks to take a summer holiday. All three have kids and bring them along. Imogene and Sophie are married and their husbands join them on weekends. Jo is the odd woman out, although develops a love interest with the kids' surfing instructor.

    Annie presents the continuums of the women's characteristics well, and in a fashion Imogene and Jo grow as people throughout the course of the novel. Sophie remains nearly the same. Sophie is the one who knows each of them and has pulled them together for the holiday even though Imogene and Jo hadn't known each other previously.

    The chief flaw in this novel is Jo, who has no redeeming qualities. As a reader, I feel I was supposed to like her. But I couldn't. Sanders took me time and time again to the brink of liking Jo, but failed to take me over the top. For example, Jo is irresponsible in telling her summer housemates where she is going and when she'll be back, all the while leaving the other two to tend to her son. Most people would not do that. She comes off as mean spirited and aloof; rude and lacking in any type of social grace. At one point Sanders writes a scene in which Jo doesn't know how to do the Heimlich maneuver, and Jo is a doctor! It seemed odd.

    Sanders develops the tension among the women and within the house very well. But the climax is forced and far too near to the end to make a difference to me as a reader where Jo is concerned. By then Jo is someone I want to get away from and stay away from. On the other hand, in spite of her high levels of organization and insistence on being a Walt Disney type of mom, Imogene is someone I liked and would like in real life. Yes, from time to time she may make me feel inferior as a mother because I wouldn't "do all that," but I can easily accept Sophie's conclusion that people have different talents and interests and it doesn't mean that you are less than. It just means you are different.

    Sanders is excellent at representing the kids and kid dialogue. She is also good at showing us what it's like to have a holiday with other families and how it can become grating on the nerves.

    If you enjoy Sanders and expect her usual chick lit formula, you will be disappointed in the book. If you can accept that she has written something different here, you will enjoy it. The usual plot line (for her) does not impact her writing skills. As far as the narration, I thought it was adequate, although at times Hicks lost track of the characters and had to right her boat. But those moments were not significant enough to detract me from the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Summer Rental

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Mary Kay Andrews
    • Narrated By Isabel Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (459)
    Performance
    (339)
    Story
    (337)

    Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds—has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.

    Sharon says: "Perfect fun summer reading!"
    "Not the Best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When three young BFF females take to Nags Head for a month long vacation, the reader expects some chick lit fun in the sun. But Mary Kay Andrews misses her usual mark in this book. While the plot itself could have been delightful and full of Andrews' wit and Southern Charm, it fell flat. Andrews must have dialed this one in. Its primary sin was info dumping of the women's common child and teen experiences. Enough already! Get on with it. The most interesting aspect of the book was Madison, a loner who Dorie befriends in a diner and brings her back to the house, without prior approval from her buds.

    Every author is entitled to a bad write now and again, so I accept that Andrews was in a rush when she wrote this. I can forgive the narrator because she did have to go back and forth between a Southern accent and a Jersey accent, but there were times she she forgot which character she was reading. That may have been the funniest part of the book.

    If this is your first Andrews read, don't give up. This is not a shining example of her true writing talent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • My Husband Next Door

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Catherine Alliott
    • Narrated By Alison Reid
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (18)

    When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella's ramshackle farmhouse.

    Holly Helscher says: "No Real Tension"
    "No Real Tension"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ella married Sebastian with the plan of them both being famous artists. The plan didn't quite work out, although Sebastian made a name for himself before losing his muse. The two separated, but not quite. After the family moves to a farm two kids later, Sebastian jettisons himself to one of the outer buildings and soon becomes the husband who lived next door.

    Early on in the book as Ella thinks back to when the two were madly in love, there is a brief reference to a secret which bonded the two in a special way. After that we are given a parade of characters stemming from Ella's parents, to Sebastian's aunt, to Ludo, the gardener with whom Ella is having a non sexual affair. Throughout the book Ella whines. We are constantly in her head and the action is minimal, as is the tension. And the secret? We never hear about it again until the very last pages of the book. At that point it is irrelevant because unless you are an extremely determined reader, you'll never finish the book.

    The dialogue is superficial at best and Alliott doesn't get the teenage dialogue of her children right. It is unrealistic, particularly in Ella's son. Even at 17 or 18, no kid that age would talk like he does, even in a permissive home which Ella seems to cultivate.

    The book itself is dull, slow paced and pointless. There are no real laughs. The character that is the most well developed and who shows real personal growth is Ella's mother. Ella, herself, is whiny and overreactive on multiple levels. The reader grows weary of her early on, but continues reading in hope that something, anything, will happen.

    This is my first experience with an Alliott novel and I have no intention of buying another one. The narrator, Alison Reid, does very well, but I feel sorry for her that her talent was wasted on such a poor novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Republic of Thieves: Gentleman Bastard Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1259)
    Performance
    (1176)
    Story
    (1180)

    After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover, and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke's own long-lost love. Sabetha is Locke's childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke's life, and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds, Sabetha has just one goal-to destroy Locke forever.

    David says: "A transition and a preface"
    "A Past and Present Combined"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't recall how many years I waited for this third installment of the Gentleman Bastard series, but the minute it was available I snapped it up. Lynch picks right up where he left off in the second book. It isn't long before Locke and Tannen have yet another run in with the Bondsmagi of Karthain. It is from here we get alternating stories. One story gives us a prequel where we learn about Locke's childhood and his budding love affair with Sabatha. Tannen ultimately enters this story, but not from the beginning. The second story is present time and further entanglements with the Bondsmagi. And of course Locke and Tannen never get it 100% right.

    Where I think the book fails is in Lynch's portrayal of Locke. In this installment Locke is mostly whiny and stupid. He continues to make the same mistake over and over again until the reader wants to shake him. Then he would jump to being arrogant, ungrateful and overreactive. Then back to whiny and stupid. Tannen, however, remains a stabilizing force who thinks more rationally and overall is the stronger emotional character of the two. I enjoyed the prequel story more than I enjoyed the present time story. The story in the present didn't have enough tension. Except for the last ten percent of the book, I don't believe there was a sufficient plot line in the present. I also believe that in the first half of the book the colorful language was a bit over the top and unnecessary. It was more than there usually is for our roguish thieves. I also think they lost some of their humor and Locke lost much of his normal resilience and independence.

    The ending had a good hook, but it didn't positively connect with Locke and Tannen. Although the end was interesting, Lynch moved the primary focus of the tension elsewhere. It was more of an indirect connection to Locke and Tannen and I think this was another mistake.

    Sometimes when there are many years between installments, the author loses touch with the characters. I think this may have happened to Lynch. Had this been the first book of the current three, I may not have continued the series. But as it is, it is the third of seven books and I will wait another four or so years for Book IV, The Thorn of Emberlain. As Lynch writes it, I hope he will go back and read his own books one and two to reconnect with his characters as they were originally written. Changes in characters are only acceptable if they undergo personal growth. I'm not positive Locke has experienced any and his youth does not give him a bye.

    The narrator, Michael Page, gives us another excellent performance.

    If you are knee deep into this series, please read it. It is entertaining and the backstory is very well done. It does enrich the story to know the thieves' history. But if you are new to Lynch, don't start with this book. Read the other two first.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Assassin's Quest: The Farseer Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Robin Hobb
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    Overall
    (1480)
    Performance
    (1070)
    Story
    (1080)

    King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz - or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest - perhaps to death. Only Verity's return - or the heir his princess carries - can save the Six Duchies.

    Spooky Wolf says: "A fantastic, but exhausting ride"
    "I Weary of a Stupid Hero"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By the end of Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, I see that he takes a page from the Wheel of Time's reluctant hero, Rand. Except Fitz is far more than reluctant hero. He is just stupid. In the first two books I could forgive it because he is just a teenager. But as he ages, and even admits understanding and takes on new resolves, he immediately forgets them the next day in some fit of anger or his misguided sense of justice. If I'm going to dedicate 39 hours of my life to a third book, I expect some personal growth from the main character. Even the wolf has better sense.

    Having said all that, Hobb is masterful in making me care! So in spite of all the tedium and lack of ongoing personal, sustained understanding by the main character, I cared what happened to Fitz and all the other characters. Hobb does a good job of developing all of them, and even getting right to the heart of the feelings of the female characters. He pulls together all the story lines and resolves them. I laughed out loud at the resolution of one of the tiniest story lines that I would have expected to be dropped out sight.

    I was ready for the end but was vastly disappointed in that Fitz finally achieved what he wanted. A life of his own choosing. But his decision about what to do with it continues his reign of stupidity. I could have sat there at the end of the audio and picked through how everyone else chewed him up and spit him out for their own gain, blaming them for his final decision. But then I remember how the "catalyst" created every situation all by himself. The ending is, indeed, tragic. And because Hobb somehow made me care, I cried.

    Boehmer is a good narrator and makes the characters easily understood.

    If you have read the first two books, you will want to read the last one. And there is no place within it I can say, "you can skip all this and go right to here." You'll have to slog through. Focusing on the Fool will get you through it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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