My feelings for the William Monk mysteries have always been lukewarm at best, but this book made me seriously reconsider continuing with the series despite my interest in Monk's history.
The mystery was convoluted, and Monk seemed as inept as usual. There were questions unanswered such as how Callandra recognized Marian, and inconsistencies such as Monk being jubilant about the content of the letters he had received and acting all smug in front of Runcorn but telling Rathbone that he didn't believe the perpetrator was the person on trial. I got so tired of being told that Monk was brilliant instead of being shown it. There was a character whose name was rather similar to another (Robert Oliver and Oliver Rathbone) which I thought was poorly chosen. Since Book 1, it was clear that the author had an agenda. While I managed to somewhat brush it aside in the previous books, in this one, it felt too intrusive for me to ignore.
The narration was not that great either. The echoes were back again and present for most of the audiobook. There seemed to be less effort to make the characters sound distinct from one another, and too often I was confused about who was speaking, whether the character was male or female. There was hardly any life to this narration. While I realize that Davina Porter is practically revered for an excellent narration of the Outlander series, I find myself wholly unimpressed by her narration in the William Monk series. She does not have a wide range of voices, and her voice acting is barely there. Everything felt...bland.
In short, I was heartily bored, irritated and unimpressed by both book and narration.
Cross-posted from Goodreads
I am willing to listen to the other books in this series.
I liked the humor, the relationships, and the romance. I'm not a huge fan of paranormal activities in an otherwise typical contemporary romance.
His female voices were not that great, and his kids voices were cringe-inducing.
This was a nice, contemporary romance with a bit of the paranormal but it was nothing special.
I thought that the set up of the mystery was rather clever but I suppose for the more perceptive, they would have found it rather predictable. I was not able to figure out for certain who the culprit(s) were although I had had my suspicions, no thanks to all those fake clues the author tossed on to this character and that. There was a repetition from one of the earlier books, a reference to one of Oscar Wilde's play: "A handbag?" There were a lot of descriptions about food - some might say too many. For me, it just made me hungry and I started compiling a list of English foods I'd like to taste: ginger wine, mince pies, etc. I loved the comic relief that Queenie provided. She's too funny. I felt less connected with the main character, Georgiana Rannoch. Darcy is such a rogue, and while I like him and am rooting for a HEA between him and Georgiana, I don't really understand what the two of them see in each other. The mystery took forever to be resolved, and it seemed to drag on with little progress in the resolution as we went through the 12 clues of Christmas. But the romance between Darcy and Georgie is finally getting somewhere so at least there was something to follow besides descriptions of food not available to me.
Initially, I did not sense much passion/enjoyment from the narrator. It kind of sounded as if the narrator was tired of Georgiana Rannoch. As the story progressed, the narration seemed more smooth and lively. While her British voices continued to have the same flavor (a rich, exaggerated, movie-star-fancy style), the Irish Darcy continued to delight. The Americans from Indiana, however, were a bit painful to listen to, in particular, the little boy. Ouch! But I have to say that this narrator is still one of the most enjoyable narrators I've listened to.
Cross-posted from Goodreads.com
It was charming with occasional asides to the reader. It sometimes read a bit dry with lots of talk of this or that of their travels, and it was not helped much by the somewhat phlegmatic reading by the narrator. The author liked to pepper the story with songs sung by elves, hobbits, dwarves, men, etc. I never liked reading these songs in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was younger, and my opinion of them haven't changed much over the years.
He read well enough. He provided different voices for each of the characters to distinguish them from one another, but there was only so much he could do himself before the characters starting sounding alike, especially towards the end of the book. I disagreed with some of his voices (sounding too old, too squeaky, too high, too low) and interpretations but overall, not a bad listen. The voices were sometimes not very consistent, causing them to sometimes sound like a different character. He read at a steady pace without much change in tone. When a character shouted, his volume didn't change but the voice sometimes went a bit squeaky, which sounded a bit odd because there was no emotion behind it and felt at odds with what was going on in the story. I had to take my figurative hat off to him, though, for attempting to sing the songs. I do not know whether the music were his own; they were not very good. He was also not a singer. But he tried, at least, and it provided something different to his usual reading style.
I had some difficulty concentrating on the narration, which meant that I was utilizing the rewind button rather often. It was not a bad narration but I don't think I want to listen to The Lord of the Rings by the same narrator. A combination of Tolkien's works plus the narrator tends to make my mind wander and my ears to tune out.
I was disappointed. The Scarlet Pimpernel, this is not. I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I would have loved to have read about other spies in his like. This was what I was expecting, but instead, I got an awkward mix of historical romance and chick-lit.
What I did like were the premise and the occasional laughter-inducing phrases and scenes. I also appreciated the narrator's efforts at voice acting and voice differentiation.
But there were more things that I did not like. I didn't care much for any of the characters, and actively disliked the main characters. I found Eloise juvenile and superficial, and Amy utterly silly. The Purple Gentian was inept as a spy and a huge disappointment in that way. the "mystery" of the Pink Carnation was easily guessed. The "rescue" was farcical. There were plot holes, and anachronistic dialogue and behavior.
As for the narration, I didn't care for it. The narrator did both male and female voices badly. Her voice acting was exaggerated, and her British accent was inconsistent.
I liked the author's writing style. I really enjoyed the humor. It caused me to laugh out loud, grin madly, or snicker softly - depending on where I was. I liked how she developed the relationship between Cat and Bones. It felt believable and true to their natures. It was a bit frustrating to witness how patient Bones was with Cat and her baggage, but his patience only made me love him more - and to appreciate how the author did not forget that Cat had that baggage. He was sweet, lovable, patient, gentle, understanding - hell, he was nigh perfect!
I LOVED how Cat had him whipped, and the jealousy that both had displayed was greatly amusing. I liked Cat's self-deprecating voice and her sense of humor. Sometimes her stubbornness made me grit my teeth, especially when it was obvious to me that Bones knew what he was talking about. However, I tried to see it from her point of view and had to accept that perhaps her confidence in her abilities had validity.
While I had been uncertain about the narrator initially, I do consider her to be a really good one. Her voice acting was well done, and she had an arsenal of accents and voices which she used to differentiate the different character voices. Whether those accents and voices were any good or not, well, that's an entirely different matter. I initially could not stand the voice and accent for Bones, but I have gotten used to it. I thought that the voice for Cat's mother was a bit nasal and young for the mother's age. I could NOT stand the minor character Stephanie's voice, and the narrator's "Asian" accent worse than sucked. Her male voices varied from acceptable to...eh. The two "boys" in the vampire bar sounded like really, really young teenagers although I am not quite certain that that was entirely the fault of the narrator. The dialogue probably had something to do with that impression. But despite my issues with some of the accents and voices, I had to hand it to the narrator. She did make the voices distinct, for the most part. I felt that she enjoyed the book and the characters, and this brought passion and her imagination into the voices of the characters. While I might have disagreed with some parts of the narrator's imagination, I couldn't deny that it brought vividity to the audiobook that I enjoyed.
I recommend this to anyone who like snappy dialogue, a strong heroine, and a love interest who is both sweet and cruel. As for me, I immediately purchased the next two books from Audible.com.
Review partially cross-posted from Goodreads.
This book did not sound as if it would work well as a stand alone. Early in the book, we had Spade recalling a Christmas dinner with Cat and Bones. Denise also suffers many flashbacks of what had happened in Book 4 of the Night Huntress series. I also disliked the awkward info dump via Denise. Having "read" the books in the Night Huntress series, it only had me rolling me eyes. This was not the first time.
None of the characters really stood out or resonated with me. I felt so apathetic and bored that even the sex scenes left me, for the most part, unmoved. There seemed to be a lot less humor. Unlike Halfway to the Grave where I had been laughing nearly the entirety of the book, I was just like, "Ehhhh...". I also did not feel as if the author did not handle Denise's PTSD very well, but I don't know whether this was because when the narrator said "PTSD", it just stood out so much that it felt as if the word was just tossed about in a somewhat cavalier manner.
And the narrator. I had really enjoyed her narration (well, mostly) for Cat and Bones, especially in the first few books in the series. I felt her enjoyment of the book and the characters through her voice. But this narration fell completely flat. I did not feel enthusiasm or passion from her narration. While I was fine with her voices and accents for Spade, Denise, Cat, Bones, Ian, and Spade's French buddies, she did a really poor job with a lot of the other minor male characters. The men all sounded like little boys (e.g. Nathaniel, at first, until the narrator got the hang of the voice she was going to do for him, and Oliver) - or women (e.g. Bootleg).
All in all, I found this book to be the worst of the Night Huntress books so far. It was a real disappointment.
Review partially cross-posted from Goodreads.
I'll have to get back to you on that.
Stopped making a Mary Sue and Gary Stu out of Cat and Bones. They are becoming way overpowered.
Not use Valley girl accent for very minor/secondary female characters nor nasally, whiny intonations for minor/secondary male characters. The Valley girl accent totally took off 1.5 - 2 stars in performance for me.
The kiss-and-make-up sex scene.
I was about to start Book 5 when I read a couple of reviews warning that it contained spoilers for the Night Huntress World Books 1 and 2, side stories which are apparently a VERY good idea to read if you don't want to be a little confused about how did what happened when and who's who in Book 5. Sooo, off I went to get those two books I had initially not intended to read.
On the author's part: tighter editing to remove repetition and move the plot forward at faster than a glacier's pace; showing Monk's skills instead of just telling about them. On the narrator's part: Greater attention to differentiating character voices, especially during transitions between one character's voice and another.
Yes. I would like to learn more about Monk.
Monk regains a few more memories. Major Tiplady(sp?) and his infatuation with Hester's friend was adorable. Casean's (sp?) plea to his uncle towards the end of the courtroom scene was heartbreaking.
Yes. I liked the mystery, and I found the world-building and characterization well done.
Yes. I have already finished the next book in this series and am about to start the third.
Yes. It was slow, quiet and rather dry.
The first half of the book was slow and almost boring. I do not know whether this was due to the text or the narrator. It picked up around chapter 12 where it started getting a bit exciting. I had a lot of difficulty accepting the narration. I was 99.9% convinced I did not want to continue this series in audio, but convenience persuaded me otherwise. The problems I had with the narration included difficulty distinguishing certain characters from another, particularly male characters and especially when there weren't any dialogue tags; young women who sounded old or over delicate; some difficulty determining whether something was being spoken by a character or the narrator; occasionally whistling s's; muffled chatting in the background (which I later discovered was an echo of the narrator's words); and brief pauses from one sentence to another as if switching from one CD to the next. I did like the voice acting and the different accents, and I eventually grew to accept the narrator's voice for Monk.
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