I would recommend this book for children or young adults. The story has a resourceful heroine who is compassionate. The book does a pretty good job of teaching empathy without (generally) beating one over the head with its moral.
The book is clearly a starting of a series, with several cliches: an orphan with a mysterious past who is resourceful, clever and good; allusions to the children being related to their governess; rich people using children cold-heartedly for their own amusement; a secret that not even the main character knows, and mysteries within the house... If you dont mind the "formula" of the book, it is generally a clever book, and well performed.
This book tries to do too much, and pretty much fails at all of it.
The book tries to be a book about the historical South, about recovery and redemption of an alcoholic parent, a romance involving a "damaged" man who was stood up at the altar, a "matchmaker" friendship , a paranormal study, a fashion-and-name-dropping portfolio, and a mystery.
Melanie is a 39-year-old real estate professional woman who "wears her sexual repression like a chastity belt", whose father is an alcoholic and whose mother left her and her father to pursue her opera career. Melanie also inherited her mother's "gift" for seeing ghosts.
Nevine Vanderhorst meets with Melanie about his old house--falling into disrepair--and wants to talk to her about his mother who supposedly ran out on him when he was a child. He wants to know if Melanie can see the ghost of his mother in the garden. Melanie is annoyed at having wasted much of her time, and two days later finds out she has inherited Mr. Vanderhorst's house.
Neville set up his will with a trust, requiring Melanie to live in the house for a minimum of a year, with the trust fund trustee being her estranged alcoholic father.
Enter one of the two love interests, Jack. Jack is trying to recover from being stood up at the altar by Emily. (Incidentally, the author couldn't be bothered to do the most fundamental of research, placing the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, rather than Rochester, Minnesota.) Jack is a famous writer who also has an incredibly wealthy family, is good looking, drips sex appeal, is a consummate researcher, oh, and a cryptologist...
This book could have done with some serious editing... having to put feet to the ground to stand up, repetitive descriptions of Confederate jasmine and hydrangea, Melanie's feelings of betrayal at her mother's departure, details about typing in the Blackberry, etc.
All in all, I am really glad I got this audio book on sale. I would not have wanted to pay "full credit" for it.
I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who likes Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The series itself is an imaginative fantasy where so much of our own human nature is reflected in those of the Discworld.
Discworld's Death is my favorite character (although more so as the storyline develops), and The Luggage are my favorite characters in this story. It is nearly impossible not to feel that you've made a great bunch of friends, however, reading this book. I feel an innate empathy for Rincewind (who forever is having bad things happen to him from out of nowhere). Two Flowers is the stereotypical optimistic tourist, who has luck if only because he is so clueless. Cohen the Barbarian is a great character, a life that has outlived his larger than life legend.
Nigel Planer does an admirable job narrating this book. He has a very pleasant voice, and uses it well, setting the tone of each scene. He does do some "character voices", but these are perhaps not as "distinguishable" as other narrators (Patrick Tull in the Cadfael Chronicles comes to mind) but this is a very minor observation and should not be construed as taking away from the narration.
Terry Pratchett does an amazing job showing both the worst and the best of humanity; how on the small scale, most human life is tragic, but on the larger scale, how amazing and inspiring and yes, even humane, the human race can be.
This series is like making the close acquaintance (indeed, friendship) of a bunch of wonderfully quirky people whom you grow to love and respect, in spite of all their idiosyncrasies . I find it rather sad to come to the end of a Discworld book. This one is no exception.
In spite of the fact that this book cannot figure out if it wants to be a fantasy, science fiction, romance, preternatural, or horror, and the fact that the book takes 24 hours to leave you hanging (clearly there is a sequel or sequels), and the fact that the basis of the book is largely formula driven, A Discovery of Witches is surprisingly enjoyable in the brain-candy sort of way.
Jennifer Ikeda's performance is quite good. She has the various "voices" for the characters and does not seem to get lost in her reading. She reads well, without feeling either hurried or dragging in the pace, and with appropriate tone (not at all monotone).
As mentioned before, this book is largely "formula": Childhood trauma? Check. Orphaned? Check. Repressed super powers? Check. Mysterious document that no one else can access/understand? Check. Forbidden love interest? Check. Brutally repressive secret "lawmakers" who forbid inter-species romances? Check. Disapproving mother of love interest? Check. Main character's family opposing romantic interest? Check. Deep dark secrets of love interest? Check. Keeping secrets that nearly tear apart their relationship? Check. "Racial" tensions between demons, vampires and witches? Check. Forced to make an alliance with demons, vampires and witches in order to survive? Check. Evil powers gathering to destroy lovers? Check. Secret society to protect those who cannot protect themselves? Check. It goes on like this...In spite of this, it was a good listen in a "background noise/brain candy" sort of way.The end of the book resolves none of the preceding story, which is rather annoying, especially having listened to 24 hours. Seems like a set up for the next book...which I am not sure I will buy.
This book could have used a massive dose of editing. The story is totally predictable (I had guessed the ending within the first 2 hours), the writing is redundant (sometimes entire passages are repeated in their entirety three and four times), the details are often contradictory (ex.: putting someone on hold, then taking their hand away from the mouthpiece) and minutia in the extreme. (I was able to skip a total of 10 hours and not miss anything significant.)
One of the main characters spent most of her college career trying to time travel to 1420, then spent the entire time there whining about wanting to go home. The medical doctor in the story had to be completely incompetent in not recognizing what was happening.
Jenny Sterlin does an admirable job trying to make this palatable, but has only so much that she could do with the text.
I will not read or listen to Connie Willis again.
Jenny Sterlin did a great job with the voices of the characters, but was limited by the text.
This 25+ hour book could have been done in 8 hours or less. I would cut most of it.
I wish I had not bought this book. The only interesting quote in the book Audible used in its preview to induce one to buy it. This quote was midway through the book, and incidental to the story.
David Suchet is his amazing
The conclusion to this novel, at the end, seems like it should have been obvious, but along the way, very confounding.
I spent an entire day listening to this book, by choice. :)
Patrick Tull's reading of the unabridged version of Ellis Peter's (Edith Pargeter) A Morbid Taste for Bones is lovely to listen to. The pacing is relaxed, feels unhurried, and keeps the spirit of Brother Cadfael. The
Highly recommend for those who like historical fiction/mystery and for those who are already Brother Cadfael fans.
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