I decided to give the "Lots of Laughs!"-series a second try, hoping that my first buy was just an unhappy coincidence. However, unfortunately, this book too is just not funny. I love Neil Gaiman and his story is the only one that I found sweetly funny, but the title "lot's of laughs" suggests something different to me. Sadly, most stories didn't even make me smile, let alone laugh out loud.
I really didn't like this book. I think the author had few good ideas (which makes me give the book 2 stars instead of 1) but wasn't able to execute them properly. My main critique is that the book doesn't know what it wants to be - is a haunted house story, a thriller or journey into one persons growing madness? Of course blends of genres can work, but in this case they don't.
I don't understand why this has gotten such high ratings from many members. I like an action packed story like the next guy, but this is nationalist macho-bravado bullsh*t of the worst type.
I have really stubborn streak when it comes to books and I normally finish them even when I don't enjoy them, but after close to eight hours I just couldn't take it anymore and wiped the book of my phone. It's badly written, the characters could hardly be more shallow and the story stumbles from one trope to the next. It's as if someone took the things that even Roland Emmerich thought were too cliché, and gave them to someone who had never read anything but pulp fiction in his life. Well, at least now I know which author I will stay well clear off in the future!
To be frank, I don't know why this book has gotten so many positive reviews. I just found it really annoying - particularly the main character. I frequently just wanted to yell at him: "Stop whining and get your sh*t together"! The narration was good, though.
I stopped listening to this book after about three hours because I could not take it anymore. I love crime books, and they don't always have to be "deep" to draw me in, but this - my first Karen Slaughter - was beyond what I was willing to spend my time on. Maybe, if I had been on a really long, intercontinental flight I would have stayed with it, because Slaughter knows how to create some suspense. But the writing is so shallow and the characters are so bland that I did not want to stay with this story. Besides, the author has taken a lot of logical shortcuts that simply don't make sense and are not being explained which to me just smells of laziness. As a reader I don't mind following you to unlikely places, but you have to guide me there, rather than just saying "there was an alarm and when they turned around X was dead" (I condensed this a little) without further explaining what just happened. I will return this book.
As for the reader and the production: I felt that this was sub-par as well. You can basically hear the cuts where the reader had a break, returned to the recording but wasn't able to get the voice quite right.
This book is very much a typical John Grisham. It's a legal thriller that follows a fairly predictable script and I even guessed the "surprise" about half way into the book, where a tiny hint was left. However, Grisham is an excellent writer of legal thrillers, so "standard fare" is not necessarily something bad. I really enjoyed listening to the book even though I wasn't exactly blown away by it. As for the narrator: I think he did a very good except for two voices (Harry Rex and Carla) that I think should be very different. Overall a decent book and a decent performance.
For me, this one of the most bring books I've read/listened to in a long time! It just kept dragging on forever. Nothing ever happened! The only part of the book I enjoyed even remotely was the part set in Mexico but aside from that is is just going on and on and on without any real plot. The narrator was decent, though.
Sadly, I was really struggling with this book. While I like a dose of surrealism in my books, this one was too much for me. I liked the overall universe the story is set it but did not care for the fates of the people or their endless meanderings. I didn't find it "quirky" as the Audible review suggested, nor exciting or even mildly amusing but rather lengthy and very difficult to get through. Clearly this book was not my cup of tea.
The title of this book could just as well have been "Broken" - because every character in the story is broken in some way and the ragged edges of their lives hurt your soul as you are following Camille through the story. In a way, the book itself is a sharp object.
Don't get me wrong, the writing is excellent, because bad writing is dull. On the other hand, the writing in this book is like a scalpel that cuts into piece of unprotected soft tissue that the characters or the reader leaves exposed.
I couldn't stop listening to the book, but in the same way that some people find it hard to look away from a train crash. I felt almost indecent for not turning away.
I nearly gave this book back, but somehow stayed with it. Having said that, I was almost constantly annoyed. Some people said that they think this is historically very well researched - well, I think the opposite. The portrayal of the Tsar as a loving, doting if slightly confused monarch who pours over the personnel files of the cadets and is worried that any of the revolutionaries might get hurt seems more than far fetched. And from what I heard Stalin wasn't exactly a stern but forgiving person either. Aside from the character of the Tsar, the person that annoyed me almost as much was Kirov. No political commissar in Stalin's days would have been that naive. I understand what his function in the book is: he is asking the stupid questions so that the author can explain things to the reader. But during that time, nobody would survived to rise to political commissar without political awareness.
For a better, and more realistic, crime story set in the same time I recommend Tom Rob Smith's "Child 44" that is also available on Audible.
I found it quite hard to rate this book and in the end decided to go for the middle. After all, you can't blame a book for what it is. You wouldn't say a technical manual is bad because it is boring and in the same way you can't say that "Hard Magic" is bad because it is cheesy, over the top and full of extremely corny lines. After all "Hard Magic" is clearly pulp fiction and that is also the writing that you get. The writing is on par with the most clichèd romance novels, with the only difference being that here people are flinging around magic and bullets.
Having said all that, I think it is good pulp fiction - you just need to be in the mood for it and embrace the pulp.
As for the narrator: I think he is doing a decent job, but unfortunately sometimes gets the accents wrong so that character A will suddenly answer with the accent and inflection of character B. However, this doesn't happen very often and is only a minor annoyance and I found it always quite easy to follow who is saying what.
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