For the last several Plum novels Evanovich has used an object or concept that is supposed to further the plot but ends up taking the place of the plot. Uncle Pip's Lucky Bottle, Vordo, whatever. It's a bit like my house in which the architect included some weird angled walls in place of real architectural details. Janet, you're going to have to work harder instead of pulling in stupid gimmicks. Sorry. You're first several novels were great--original, fresh and fun, but the last several needed better story lines. I would suggest re-booting and telling the next few novels from the perspective of another of the characters that inhabit Stephanie's world. Either find a fresh approach or 86 the Plum novels.
The plot line of this story is actually pretty good, as is the character development--at least for some characters. The problems lie in two directions: the narrator sounds as though she was pulled from doing voice overs for real estate listings, and the writer, while imaginative, has difficulty writing smoothly. Lowe's narrative and dialogue are clunky and poorly thought out. This book could have done with a good editor and a far better narrator.
I liked it enough--even with the deadpan narration--to purchase the second in the series, but it's literally painful to listen to, and I can't imagine ever listening to them again. If there is another in the series, I will be buying it on Kindle.
The other problem I had with the books is a lack of general background. It seemed as though this series really needed a detailed prologue.
The snail's pace of this work made me skip whole chapters. It was well-written but morose and dull. Good writing doesn't make up for a missing plot. Such a pity because the author has a good handle on description and mood (that is if it were meant to be so confusing and sad). I picked it up because I am fascinated with the only period in time in which things were changing as fast as they are right now, but I was awfully disappointed. I couldn't even figure out what the book was really about--the brother, the love interest who had previously jilted the main character, the salty, crusty old father, the medium? Ms Howe's prose was lovely, but it just couldn't make up for all that was missing. (Or for my inability to listen properly to description after description.)
This wasn't a thriller--the main character was in no danger other than his less-than-stellar morals. There were no chase scenes, no threats, and yet it also lacked the cheesy-ness that might have made this soap opera worthy.
This wasn't really a character-driven plot, either. I am not preaching about the main character cheating on his wife--I'm ragging on his lack of professional ethics. I have no expectation that most attorneys have much in the way of personal scruples, but I'd like to know how this guy passed the ethics portion of the bar exam!
The good news is that Mr. Mitzner is a pretty good writer, and I expect his following novels to be better. I think, though, that I would actually drop this character and develop some a reader could root for. I like flawed heroes, but the main character in this book was pretty darn unlikeable and his lack of deep connection to anyone made him difficult to understand and hard to feel any empathy for, and really, isn't that why we read novels?
I have become accustomed to Emily Shaffer's voice--it took me a little time, but I find her male voices very distinctive, which is hard for female narrators to do, and she makes Sydney really admirable and likable. Emilly is very talented, but I understand that no narrator is everyone's cup of tea. Loads of people love Dick Hill, and I like him, but I find his voice easy to tune out! Rather like a history professor I once had. Dick's voice hasn't grown on me, but Emily's has.
I like the two, connected series of Richelle Mead's, but, of the two, I find myself enjoying the Bloodlines series more. Sydney is confident, hard working, responsible and ingenious. It's been interesting watching her mature and grow--Mead is dealing with all the characters in this series really well. She seems to be allowing them to grow at their own pace, which is refreshing. I'll be listening to the third book in the series tomorrow--can't wait!
Maggie Sefton handles narrative okay, but her grasp of dialogue is non-existent. I was looking for a cozy mystery with interesting characters, a twisty plot and nothing too gruesome. Well, it's not gruesome, but it's also not interesting in the least. Imagine you gathered together a bunch of members of a cult in which no one was allowed to say anything bad to or about anyone but one not nice member. You put all the benign people around a quilt frame to sew except the bad person who was, happily, dead. That is this book, and the narrator doesn't help. Her narration does go with the book, but that's unfortunate. She keeps it so chipper and upbeat, she and the book become worse than boring--they are unforgivably, obnoxiously perky.
This story is piquant and unexpected, and who could help but love a girl named Gratuity whose nickname is Tips! How clever! My hubby and I both listened to it and really enjoyed it--it was a great listening experience. The narrator is a genius. I'm hoping to listen to many, many books read by her in the next few years. Her portrayal of J.Lo is just too funny, and she imbued Tips with a ton of personality and charm and only heightened the intent of the author. Marvelous--a credit well spent.
I edit dissertations and end up reading and researching some fairly dry, esoteric topics for many hours on end, and reading teen fiction (yes, in my middle years!) is such a treat. It's some of the best fiction being written today and generally has a happy ending, and after re-writing long sections on anything from complexity theory to the failure rate of American expats, I need a happy ending!
Richelle Mead is only one of several authors I enjoy in this genre of teen fantasy, and she writes tight, beautifully plotted books with likable characters. One of the things she does best is intertwine her A, B, C and D story lines, leaving a few threads sticking up for the next book. All in all, I'd recommend this to anyone who needs a little escape from the routine.
The reader has a rather heavy Midwestern accent, which, while not vastly unpleasant, seems to have a hard time with a couple of diphthongs. I would rather have had a reader who has a general American accent more appropriate to the main character's native Utah.
She also graced Adrian with a lower class British accent, which didn't really work for a member of the royal family (even though it was a royal family of vampires!).
In Search of the Rose Notes was well written but was a lot like an old fellow telling a story: it had difficulty coming to the point. I had to skip about an hour and a half of it (due to frustration with the pacing) and when I picked it back up it seemed I had missed nothing except more of Nora's memories from the early 90s.
Another problem I had with the book was characters who were incredibly unlikeable. I didn't like Nora or Charlotte, the main characters. The final problem for me was the incongruity of Rose's suicide given her high level of emotional intelligence. It felt out of sync with probability.
Emily Arsenault is talented and I have expectations of better books (or perhaps books that are simply better suited to my impatient nature) from her in the future.
Finally, I would like to note that the reader was excellent, exhibiting a refreshing subtlety when moving from character to character.
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