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Deanna

.

United States | Member Since 2012

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 109 ratings
  • 487 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2015
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  • Touch of the Demon: Kara Gillian, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Diana Rowland
    • Narrated By Liv Anderson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (413)
    Performance
    (375)
    Story
    (376)

    Kara Gillian is in some seriously deep trouble. She’s used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now the tables have been turned and she’s the one who’s been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of yet another demonic lord, but she quickly discovers that she’s far more than a mere hostage. Yet waiting for rescue has never been her style, and Kara has no intention of being a pawn in someone else’s game.

    S. Tucker says: "Stunning"
    "Unexpected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was a surprise to me, and I know from browsing other reviews that a lot of people were disappointed by it. However, that disappointment seems to stem from the shift in setting, and less from a change in the ability of the author.

    First, the setting of this book is like a classic fantasy novel, with little to no relation to the settings of the previous novels (urban fantasy vs high fantasy). If you hold extreme dislike for high fantasy, you may not like this book.

    Second, as with most high fantasy novels, there is a lot of world building, which accounts for the length of this novel. It is more than twice the length of the previous books.

    Third, a lot of character development takes place in this book. Characters make choices that have a permanent effect on their place in Kara's life, as well as affecting her behavior and feelings. Many of these changes are negative, and a lot of people appear to dislike the betrayals, newfound friends, etc.

    Fourth, there is only an abstract mystery versus the normal "examine the clues to catch the killer." Everything about the world she is in is a mystery, with no clear resolution to be had.

    Normally, I would not enjoy a book like this. However, the characters are what make the books so awesome for me, and it is why I spent all of my free time enjoying this audiobook. Rowland does not lose her touch with the realistic portrayal of emotional reaction, and she never forgets to question things in the right places or address sticky situations. Despite all of the world building, there is still a lot of time devoted to dialogue, and the plot is never allowed to grow stale or stagnate. I felt what Kara felt, and it is why I loved this book.

    As always, the narrator is excellent. In fact, if I read this book instead of listened to it, I may have had more trouble with the transition from urban to high fantasy. If you're on the fence about this one, I recommend trying it out. You can always return it if it's not for you!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #4: The Scream of the Haunted Mask

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By R.L. Stine
    • Narrated By Kate Simses
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    What should Carly Beth be for Halloween this year? TERRIFIED! Late at night, an ugly green mask is mysteriously calling out to her, and ugly green masks don't like to be ignored. If Carly Beth survives the night, even a scary theme park might sound like a vacation. Or maybe not! At HorrorLand, every night is Halloween. And those monster masks? They aren't masks at all.

    Deanna says: "First Dud in the Series"
    "First Dud in the Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Note)
    These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

    (About This Story)
    Scream of the Haunted Mask is a sequel to The Haunted Mask, and this book assumes that you have already read the predecessor. Unfortunately, they do not give you very much details about what happened in The Haunted Mask--but I will: Carly Beth is bullied by two boys at school. She decides the perfect way to get back at them involves a scary Halloween mask, which she steals from a local shop. The mask has a mind of its own, however, and plans to take over Carly Beth's body. During Halloween, the mask takes over Carly Beth while she's out trick or treating with her best friend, Sabrina. In the end, she manages to defeat it by weakening it with a symbol of love.

    In this story, Carly Beth has apparently kept the mask locked in the basement to keep others safe from it. Unfortunately, she can still hear its screams in her head. In the meantime, she works after school watching young children at a nearby farm and learns that the stables there are haunted. Whoever is haunting the stables appears to want the mask. Can Carly Beth stop it once and for all?

    (Kid's Reaction)
    My kid and I were both horribly confused with this story. Carly Beth talks about previous events that happened to her, but rather than being mysterious or peaking our interest, we both felt out of the loop--like when you've missed the first half of someone's conversation. We didn't know why she had this mask, what horrible events she had experienced with it, or what terrible powers it had.

    Despite the lack of information, my stepdaughter liked the idea of working in stables and a daycare and thought the ghost story was neat. She gives a 3.5/5, but probably will never listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #3: Monster Blood for Breakfast!

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By R.L. Stine
    • Narrated By Charlie McWade
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    For an athlete like Matt Daniels, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's also the most dangerous. That's because somebody is about to pull a mean prank. The recipe is simple: Just add Monster Blood. As if Matt's problems weren't big and slimy enough, a surprise invitation will lead to even more trouble. How long can Matt survive inside a terrifying theme park? Not very long if his friends keep disappearing!

    Lisa says: "my rview"
    "The Decline Starts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Note)
    These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

    (About This Story)
    Matt is a popular kid on the swim team at school with a neighbor, Bradley, that he dislikes immensely. Bradley gets carte blanche at his house because Matt's mother feels sorry for him, and Bradley takes advantage of this by eating all the food, wearing Matt's favorite clothes, and using Matt's computer without asking. Matt does not take any of this well. Bradley and he fight a few times at school, and ultimately Matt is tricked into eating some Monster Blood, which makes him grow when he touches water. At first, he thinks it's cool--he can swim faster and is super strong. But soon, he realizes that he can't stop the effects and is growing out of control.

    Monster Blood was a feature in the old Goosebumps series, spawning four other books about a completely different character. I remember reading Monster Blood and Monster Blood II, and in both stories the monster blood affected animals (a small dog and a hamster). I think this story would have been more successful if it had returned to that theme rather than showcasing a kid that grows into a Hulk-like creature.

    (Kid's Reaction)
    Unfortunately, this book is the beginning of a brief downward spiral in the Horrorland series. It was a weird story, but in no way scary or exciting. I believe my kid didn't like it as much because the focus was always on how annoying Bradley was or how much the adults were oblivious to what was going on--which is fine when it comes to supernatural events but very frustrating when it comes to normal, everyday interactions amongst kids. My stepdaughter commented several times, "Why won't the adults believe him?" and got annoyed. Also, there are some logic inconsistencies. For example, why doesn't Matt's plants return to normal? Even my 11-year-old wondered about that one. She gives this book 3.5/5 stars--worth listening to once (and only once).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Goosebumps HorrorLand #2: Creep from the Deep

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By R. L. Stine
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Billy and Sheena always expect adventure when they join their uncle, Dr. Deep, aboard his hi-tech boat. What they don't expect is a treasure hunt leading to a 200-year-old sea captain...who refuses to stay dead!

    Deanna says: "Great Fun!"
    "Great Fun!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Note)
    These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

    (About This Story)
    In the second of the Horrorland series, Creep from the Deep, Billy and his sister Sheena are visiting their uncle, Dr. Deep, a marine biologist with a mini-submarine and (unrealistically) no staff to speak of. The uncle is looking for a sunken pirate ship and has invited his nephew and niece along for the summer. They end up on a deserted island running from zombie pirates, who have what is probably my favorite chant from any of the books: "You ended our death. You ended our sleep. The men come alive in the briny deep. So come with us, come with the men. And meet your fate with Captain Ben."

    This story was less "scary" than Revenge of the Living Dummy, but it also had a more exotic and refreshing backdrop with the ocean/desert island set-up. The characters from this story were present in the old Goosebumps books Deep Trouble I & II, but in reality Creep from the Deep is a complete revision of the siblings' story. It's well done--neither my husband, stepdaughter, nor I thought there was any missing background information or disjointed narrative. There is also more of a focus on family working together against the enemy and less petty in-fighting than in the previous novel, which we appreciated.

    (Kid's Reaction)
    My stepdaughter loved the chant by the zombie pirates, too, and has since made up her own chant for when we go swimming. I don't think this story is her favorite--she tends to prefer the book narrated by girls--but I do think it's her favorite male-narrated story so far (we're on book 9). She gives it 4.5/5.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Goosebumps HorrorLand, Book 1: Revenge of the Living Dummy

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By R. L. Stine
    • Narrated By Alissa Hunnicutt
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (27)

    Britney Crosby thinks her cousin Ethan is pretty weird - and she happens to be right. Ethan won't stop tormenting Britney with an old ventriloquist's dummy. And the puppet has plans for Britney, too!

    Laurie says: "5 kids love"
    "Worth the Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Note)
    These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is the first in a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.

    (About This Story)
    Revenge of the Living Dummy starts off with a great hook: two scared girls are digging up a grave in a cemetery during a dark thunder storm. You don't know why. Britney, the main narrator, takes the listener back a few weeks to the arrival of her cousin, Ethan, and his ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Badboy.

    If you read any of the R. L. Stine books as a kid in the 90s (I did), you may remember Slappy from the Night of the Living Dummy books. Mr. Badboy is basically the same dummy. In this book, he makes trouble for Britney and her friend Molly much in the same way Slappy used to--pranks, jokes, and petty vandalism. How will they rid themselves of this menace?

    (Kid's Reaction)
    My stepdaughter, 11, was bouncing in her seat and crying out before the first chapter had even finished. She quoted the book for a week straight (most have a chant or single line of speech that is repeated like a catch phrase) and requested to listen to the story every time we got into the car. Because we visit the local amusement park during Halloween, she loved the idea of Horrorland and is even more excited to go this year. All in all, she rates this book a solid 5/5 stars.

    (Adult's Reaction)
    My husband isn't as much of a fan of these books as I am. He rolls his eyes at the childish thrills and dramatic situations, which aren't that intense as an adult, I admit. However, I find the books to be charming, fun, and easily the most entertaining audiobooks we've found for my stepdaughter. They inspire her imagination and add a level of thrill to the dark that she enjoys.

    The appropriate age-level for these books will vary depending on your individual child. There is no swearing or death, but there are some mildly inappropriate situations (taunting, pranking, sneaking out of the house, vandalism, stealing parents' property, etc). If anything, it's a good conversation-starter between parents and kids about acceptable behaviors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Throne of Glass: A Throne of Glass Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Sarah J. Maas
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Evans
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1034)
    Performance
    (959)
    Story
    (968)

    After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

    Fil says: "The World's Most Powerful Assassin is a Sap."
    "Awful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I made it to the final two hours of this audiobook during a car trip before I snapped and "skimmed" through the ending. In hindsight, I wish I had listened to reviewer Fil, who accurately describes Celaena as a sap. I honestly can't think of anyone to recommend this book to.

    Part of the problem lies in the author's attempt to combine several genres: an action-packed, bloody mystery-adventure-fantasy novel with a solid dose of romantic sexual tension sounds like a great read, doesn't it? And it might have been, had Maas developed any of these ideas thoroughly. Instead, she briefly attempts to develop the "assassin" backstory only moments before plunging into the "romantic" aspect or the thrilling adventure, etc. in a way that is scattered and bizarre. Her prose is uninspired and long-winded. Her characters have illogical reactions considering their roles in life and the story. (Example: a Captain of the Guard for the bloodiest, most ruthless ruler in the known world that stares in guilty horror at his hands after slaying a criminal that was about to murder the woman he's secretly in love with. Yeeeeeeeeah, riiiiiiight …… <--- *Disgusted disbelief.*)

    On top of this illogical character development and sloppy writing, Celaena just sucks as a person. She's bratty and egotistical without any backstory or inner monologues to flesh her out. Why is Celaena so famous? Who has she assassinated? Why is she so feared? What makes her think she's better than everyone else? What's her damage? Has she ever had a meaningful conversation with anyone ... ever?

    Don't expect answers to these questions by the end of this glacially paced book. This is a shallow story about a girl that is miraculously gifted in all physical skills, a point that is driven home in the way that she bounces back to full health after a year-long stay in a cozy death camp--her world's equivalence to Auschwitz. I'm sorry, but how many Jewish survivors did you hear about that were running in the Olympics only a few weeks after their release? Maas CAN'T have ever trained for any physical competition in her life because she seems to think a few mentions of Celaena puking after a long run are sufficient to give credence to her recovery in about a dozen combat and survival skills. After only a couple of weeks, she can scuttle up smooth, flat walls like a gecko, overpower men three times her body weight, and shoot the hairs off a fly's back from three football fields away (with a bow and arrow)! Her beauty, wit, and charm enchant all and her gallant, noble actions earn her the respect of everyone she meets--save the black-hearted King and his evil pawns! (I think the author also forgot to mention that she poops solid gold and walks on water, too. Maybe she's waiting to reveal that in book 2.)

    Authors of old pulp fiction/dime novels like Anthony Hope (Prisoner of Zenda) or Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter) could have pulled off such ridiculously gifted characters in an absurd, rip-roaring adventure. Maas does not have this talent. The story is slow and takes thirty minutes to describe a chess or billiards game between Celaena and the Prince, which they play while they discuss … absolutely nothing. I've felt more sexual tension between my grandmother and a cashier at the local pharmacy where she buys hemorrhoid cream. The author spends more time describing the clothing in the scenes than any perceived or observed emotions/reactions/facial expressions. The prince and the Captain are as interesting as cardboard cut-outs, and the "mysterious" killer of the competitors takes all of one second for the listener to identify.

    All in all, this really was just an absurd, boring story with terrible world-building and an even more terrible plot. Save your money/credit/time, and skip it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Case Is Gonna Kill Me

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Phillipa Bornikova
    • Narrated By Therese Plummer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (270)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (245)

    What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power - our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks”, and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires.

    decembergrit says: "Great Story!"
    "Not an Easy Book to Like"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    WARNING: This book is slow.
    I have one hour remaining, and only now has the publisher's "summary" come to fruition (the "Linnet's been attacked multiple times and escaped through improbable circumstances" part). I was expecting a lot more action based on this summary, but the action is almost non-existant.

    When the attacks do occur, they are over and done with in about five minutes of reading time. Linnet's brushes with death are supposed to be comical, I think. They weren't. The whole story has such a depressing undertone that it seems trite and flat when the author attempts any levity.

    During the rest of the story, Linnet is involved in petty office politics, work, or horseback riding. The latter is discussed in way too much detail. I don't know squat about fancy horse moves, and they have no impact in the story that I can see so far. In my opinion, these bits should have been removed by the editor.

    To top it all off, Linnet is not an easy character to like. She's insecure, judgmental, smart-but-stupid, and sleazy. Ultimately, I end up pitying her a little bit because she obviously feels unloved and alone--she was fostered by a vampire that views her as a pet servant, and she only got to know her parents and little brother as an adult. She instantly hates almost everyone and shares snide opinions that remind me of a middle schooler. Whenever she is stressed, she ends up sleeping with a co-worker because "she deserves this," and she's "tired of feeling like she shouldn't." It doesn't even feel like she's having sex for fun--it reminds me of a person that binge eats and sobs into an ice cream carton as they shovel food in their mouth, ultimately causing themselves more and more misery. The sex scenes are awkward and very unexciting--even the one that is supposed to be with the "good" guy. She isn't close to anyone, so the sex always seems cheap and meaningless and probably disease-inducing (especially the guy who's slept with every female in the firm).

    To sum it up, this is not a fun, light book. If you enjoy books with a main character that's not all-together, you may enjoy this one--Linnet is a mess in every aspect of her life except her work ethic. I myself prefer a main character that doesn't put herself down every fifteen minutes, but I still find the story worth finishing. Worth a full credit? No. Worth a sale price? Sure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Soul Mirror: A Novel of the Collegia Magica

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Carol Berg
    • Narrated By Angele Masters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (140)
    Story
    (139)

    With no magic talent of her own, Anne de Vernase must take on her sister's magical legacy to unravel the secrets behind the dark sorcery besieging the royal city of Merona-and to uncover the truth behind her sister's death. For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery's decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life's bitter disappointments.

    Karen says: "Excellent Story!"
    "Not my Favorite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    To begin, you should know that I absolutely loved "The Spirit Lens," which got its fair share of ho-hum reviews. It would appear that, once again, I am in the minority of reviewers on this book, as I did not find it nearly as engaging as its predecessor.

    Why? Anne is an alright character, but she spends a heck of a lot of book time "discovering" things that the listener should already know from The Spirit Lens--like certain secret events or the true morality of characters that Anne is initially prejudiced against. I had more than a few moments of dislike for Anne in the beginning because of this--how dare she say anything negative about Duplais, the brat??

    My next issue is this: nothing happens. I mean, really--the story is stagnant until the last 3 hours. Interspersed with Anne's "new" discoveries were a lot of unnecessary details--it felt as if I were listening to different characters conversing on a topic where they had all read the same textbook (they all spouted the same information, just with different speach patterns). It was enough to make me want to tear my hair out!

    In the first book, I was on the edge of my proverbial seat as Duplais discovered more secrets and intrigue, shared nuggets of wisdom, recalled pertinent experiences, or struggled with shifting loyalties. Not to mention the several deaths and/or assassination attempts, the torture, kidnappings, and hilariously air-headed comments from Ilario!

    In this book, Anne is brought to court by Duplais and is living a life with the ladies-in-waiting to the Queen. How in the WORLD is there not more interaction with these girls if she is expected to do her adventuring in stolen moments between lessons on court life, or in the middle of the night? How are the other ladies at court so vapid compared to her? It was almost like the author was shoving Anne's brilliance down my throat. The only people worth notice by the author are those in power--or those conveniently placed to deliver messages (ie. servants). At one point, Anne claims one of the servants as her first friend at court and I had an "Ergh!?" moment, as she had only spoken to her about three times and never had any real downtime with her--she was always the mistress and the servant was always a tool for her, despite Anne benevolently allowing her to cry on her shoulder once.

    Plus, all of the characters that I was fascinated with in The Spirit Lens were background fodder here. Most of the story is about Anne, and Anne's thoughts on her late sister, her missing father, her hostage brother, her insane mother, her readings, her suspicions of intrigue, and her re-consideration of past events, etc. I would say 80% of this book takes place in her head, as it is not "safe" for Anne to interview anyone and most everyone despises her. Rather, she finds notes and letters and trinkets littered throughout the castle--as if these people would be stupid enough to leave a paper trail!

    I will say, when she gained the ability to converse in her head with a mysterious Friend I was so starved for character interaction that I was practically shaking with anticipation for each scene. On the other hand, I knew who it was almost immediately and kept waiting for some side scenes during which their real-life interactions could contrast with the mental ones. Never happened. Anne ends up becoming busom buddies with her Friend in about 5 minutes, which belies her previous tendencies toward extreme prejudice. I don't buy the magical explanation.

    I've already read the third book (actually, before I finished this, shame on me!), and I can say that there is a lack of emotion in The Soul Mirror and the Daemon Prism that disappoints me. There is NO humor in this book, and the constant negativity exhausted me. Plus, HELLO, Ilario was totally in love with Duplais at the end of The Spirit Lens--I can read between the lines! That aspect is completely gone from this book onward, but rather is explained away as Ilario's "wondering" epiphany that Duplais must be a saint reborn. HA! I scoff at that. Way to ruin one of the most interesting and delicate facets to the story, Berg!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Spy Glass

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Maria V. Snyder
    • Narrated By Jennifer Van Dyck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (288)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (160)

    Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is now an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world. Until spying through the glass becomes her new power. Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood--and that finding it might let her regain her powers.

    Elizabeth says: "Satisfying conclusion to the Glass trilogy"
    "A Rebuttal"
    Overall
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    The only reason I'm reviewing this book is because of all of the low reviews. Many people are claiming they loved Snyder's previous books, but hate these, and that the main character is sick and twisted and the torture is horrible, etc.

    If you've liked Storm Glass and Sea Glass, you'll probably like Spy Glass. Rather than a story of Stockholm Syndrome (puh-lease, if anyone had that it was Yelena!), this is a story about redemption, forgiving people, and facing your fears and inner shame. If you're worried that you might be about to listen to some abuse-supportive material, read on and be reassured. As someone that has been the victim of abuse, I can tell you this story did not raise any alarms for me. Doesn't mean it won't for others, but I don't speak for others anyway.

    Have you ever dated someone that had a drug problem? That's how I see Devlin in this series--controlled by his vices and out of touch with society--but then he gets rehab and is slowly becoming someone free of that. I know I have trouble avoiding M&Ms some days--I can't imagine struggling with something as addicting as blood magic (or drugs). Of course, when Devlin becomes a major part of Opal's life, all of the terrible things he did are firmly behind him. The fact that people have such violently disapproving reactions to him shows an intolerance for imperfection in the literary fantasy world. Let me make it clear--there is a gradual development of friendship which is almost a self-healing process for Opal that develops into more. She is not being tortured or treated maliciously by him at any point after this begins. She meets with him in very controlled environments at first, and she struggles with her past experiences. It is in no way an easy transition for her! She goes back and forth internally for MONTHS with the idea of a reformed Devlin.

    I think the main reason people dislike this book so much is because it doesn't follow the typical pattern for redeemed characters: 1) the bad deeds happened a long time ago or the person was "duped" in some way, thus distancing and/or excusing the actions; 2) the horrible deeds were never done to the same person that chooses to love them, ugly past and all. I admire Snyder for tackling such a difficult character and laying it all out there.

    Having said all that ... This book is not all centered around Devlin (he is serving a 5 year prison sentence, for goodness sake (!) and appears mostly during Opal's inner musings). There is still an action-packed plot with lots of twists and turns. Opal is trying to continue finding ways to help people despite her loss of glass magic, and she encounters a brand new enemy that arises from deeply rooted past conflicts. (Unlike Devlin, the bad guy acts with his rational thinking mind and shows acute pleasure in others' pain.) About three hours from the end, the stuff really hits the fan. Be prepared to listen to all of that in one go. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bloodlust: Blood Destiny, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Helen Harper
    • Narrated By Saskia Maarleveld
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (335)
    Performance
    (308)
    Story
    (312)

    Life's no fun being a dragon, especially when you are forced into responsibilities that involve trying to keep the peace between an array of shifters, mages, and faeries in order to bring down the scariest and deadliest foe the Otherworld has ever seen. And that's not to mention the fact that your own soul mate hates your guts. Mack Smith, a fiery Draco Wyr, is battling to come to terms with her emotions, her heritage, and her true capabilities. All she has to do is defeat Endor, win back Corrigan, and live happily ever after.

    Deanna says: "Mixed Emotions"
    "Mixed Emotions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unfortunately, this final installment was a little bit of a dud for me. It started out alright, with some fun scenes that quickly deteriorated to the illogical. In a way, I was reminded of the first book a lot. Mack was obtuse in some seriously annoying and (to me) unrealistic ways, and the entire novel is centered around her anger and resentment at feeling like she has to be self-sacrificing. Added to this is the fact that, suddenly, she does not feel like it is appropriate to hold her friends accountable for their behavior! I don't know where this attitude came from, but she just kept rolling over for others and then complaining about it in her head the entire time. At one point, she justifies it because of her fear of being alone. That just DOES NOT wash with me. If she really felt concerned about being alone, she wouldn't have dropped her lifelong shifter friends (Tom, Betsy, Julia) without so much as a spare thought. Also .. Alex, Solus, Corrigan, Aubrey, the pink demon librarian, Mrs. Alcoon ... how is she alone?!

    The bad guy is never really fleshed out this time around. He has got to be the least memorable of all the bad guys in this series, which is completely at odds with the fact that he's supposed to be the biggest nasty they've faced so far. What were his motives? He reminded me of a robot with no feelings that just went through the motions, as if he were just a vessel for someone else to work through.

    Also, there are some very unnecessary scenes in this story, which is even more disappointing because of how well I thought the previous book was handled. There is a scene in an Unseelie club that just seems pointless, a sudden love interest for Solus that does not make any sense, and some random and sloppy gallivanting that could very well have happened behind the scenes.

    I wanted to give the story 4 stars due to my relief at a happy ending ending and some closure on previously unexplored subjects, such as Mack's secret dragon nature and her mysteriously absent family. Honestly, with the way Harper had been increasing the severity of character deaths in the previous books, I wasn't expecting either Mack or Corrigan to be alive by the end of it all. Then again, maybe that's how it should have ended, because the bogus happy ending is really what dropped my rating down to 3 stars.

    ******Extreme Spoilers!!!!******
    Before I address the ending, here's an example of Mack's rediscovered obtusity: after the first hour of this book, it will become painfully obvious to the reader that Mack is pregnant. In my experience, it is most definitely NOT the last thing on a woman's mind if she is a reproductively healthy female. Mack does not even admit to herself that there is a possibility she is pregnant, despite the fact that Mrs. Alcoon practically starts knitting baby booties and painting the spare bedroom in pastel colors. Barfing, stomach aches, detesting the smell of coffee, sudden uncontrollable shifting--come on! It would have been much more believable for Mack to recognize the possibility, then refuse to investigate out of fear or denial or putting it off because she's so busy being a martyr. Even in this scenario, we could have been introduced to her thoughts, worries, and curiosities on the subject. As it goes, Corrigan tells her she's pregnant in the last hour of the book--which I also find to be a ridiculous scenario--and she doesn't even have a "Holy crap, there's something invading my body and it's going to take over my life" moment. Her reaction is simply, "Oh, rats, I guess that makes sense! Babies are ... hmm. Well, time to go be badass again!"

    Oh, and Corrigan! Talk about character backsliding! I know he was dumped publicly, but he becomes more of a hostile decoration in this book than anything. I can totally dig some good arguments, but he and Mack don't even have a real conversation until the big baby reveal at the end. Pardon me for not buying that for one second, by the way, seeing as how in the previous books they were drawn to each other like magnets and they are supposedly soul mates.

    And the big happy ending? Yes, they fly off into the sunset together, but in doing so they abandon everyone they know and love. In what world is it better to leave everyone for the wolves and run away to live in hiding while simultaneously destroying your best friends' wedding? I never thought Mack and Corrigan would turn out to be cowards, but that's what this ending was. I wish they had found the inner strength to acknowledge that their own happiness was worth standing up for, even if it meant losing some political power or being criticized.

    In fact, the ending doesn't make sense from any viewpoint to me. In the story, everyone depends on Mack uniting the races as a neutral power and Corrigan being a newer, gentler breed of Lord Alpha. With their faked deaths, the races will never remain united and the shifters may very well return to their old massacring ways. Despite their arrogant demands, there is no way the Summer Queen and the Arch Mage have the ability to force Mack to stay away from Corrigan--especially considering she's been pregnant with his babies the whole freaking time. That ship sailed waaaaay before they even got to the pier. As it stands, the pair end up leaving the world exactly as it was before their rise to power.

    Why couldn't Corrigan just retire from being Lord Alpha and be Mack's right hand man? Why couldn't she marry Corrigan as Lord Alpha and have her children fostered in Fairyland every summer, then educated by the mages for the rest of the year in order to maintain a balanced relationship between the races? That little bit about dragonkind being cursed by auto assassins--well, there are ways to break a curse. If Mack could go off to Russia on the off chance of finding an almost extinct race of midget to get some precious metal that a friend of a friend read about in an old history document, then is it really so hard to believe in a happily married couple that kicks butt and saves the dragon race from genocide? Certainly not! Married couples can still have passion, witty dialogues, inner turmoil, and withstand hardships that separate family members under stressful circumstances. Just look at dual military families!

    Helen Harper, if you read this, I hope you write one more book in which Corrigan and Mack return with some adorably chubby toddlers to fix these wrongs! BAH!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Politics: Blood Destiny, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Helen Harper
    • Narrated By Saskia Maarleveld
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (410)
    Performance
    (374)
    Story
    (374)

    You'd think that life would finally be dealing Mack Smith a kind hand. Living in London and with the opening of the new and improved city version of Clava Books mere days away, things appear to be settling down. Other than the terrible nightmares about dragons, that is. Or the fact that she's being constantly tailed by a string of mages, shifters, and faeries, all of whom are constantly demanding her attention. And that's without even bringing the temptation of Corrigan, Lord Alpha of the Brethren, into the equation.

    Sarah Silverstone says: "Disappointing - Quality Sacrificed to Create Drama"
    "A Roller Coaster All the Way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am not the kind of person that becomes absorbed by audiobooks easily, which is why these little-known books are such an incredible surprise to me. In the Blood Destiny series, Helen Harper has created an outstanding balance between world building and character development, often conveyed in a way that I am not expecting.

    This book, HANDS DOWN, has got to be the best so far in the series. I laughed myself silly multiple times--and cried a bit at the end. Mack's normal scathing wit is still present, but she continues to reflect personal growth through increased control and self reflection with none of the irritating back-sliding found in many other popular urban fantasies. A delightful turn leaves newer character, Aubrey (master vampire), as a constant source of ridiculous fun, though to be honest I almost had a nervous breakdown when he first appeared in this book. Additionally, Corrigan makes juuust enough frequent and short appearances when he is not directly involved in the proceedings to prevent the story from feeling like an obstacle to the wicked fun interactions between he and Mack.

    Oh, and the story? Instead of thrusting us directly into a stagnant world of magical intrigue, Mack's new situation is conveyed through a creative slant: taking a vacation from it all. Of course, the relaxation part of the vacation goes up in a ball of fiery death almost instantly when Mack volunteers to run a few harmless errands during her free time. Who knew helping out some gentle dryads and a greedy troll could cause so much mayhem?

    Almost every character that has been introduced in the series makes an appearance in either memory or reality, but their placement and timing are so well done that it doesn't feel like a single scene is frivolous. Of course, I do have some small complaints--several major characters are described exactly the same in every single book, and their descriptions are so sparse that it is a noticeable feature. It would be great to get a new detail thrown in every now and again to flesh out their image--though this may be done on purpose to allow the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. Also, there is some rare word repetition (example: "She noticed the gleam of the silver, gleaming dagger," or something like that). The quality of the content tends to highlight these mistakes, although there are only one or two instances of it. Saskia Maarleveld does a fabulous job when this happens, never indicating any sort of awkward hitch or pause in her reading.

    Oh and, by the way, I had never heard of Saskia Maarleveld before listening to these audiobooks. I don't think there's any way I could forget her after her performance on this series, though! Her skill at conveying a variety of emotions for a multitude of different characters while maintaining their unique accents, pitches, and speech patterns completely amazes and captivates me. Would I love these books so much if I were reading them directly? I honestly don't think so because my reading voice sucks toads compared to her performance, and she lends a dimension to the story that I could never give. I hope Harper and Maarleveld continue to work together for the next forty years, because I don't think they would ever produce a novel I wouldn't want to listen to. In fact, I think I'm going to go listen to the next book right now!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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