I just finished listening to and reviewing this and Ill Wind, and this is almost a cut & paste of that review. This was just a little better because I could follow the plot. I enjoyed to look at Cumberland Island National Seashore very much and would have enjoyed it more as a full length book.
I admit to disliking abridged books in general (with a few notable exceptions and a couple of books that I wished had been abridge, but that's what a good editor should do before the book is published). Considering that Barr's books generally run around 10 hours, cutting it down to under three was foolish, but there was a fairly clear path from mystery to solution with only a few breaks that were completely "huh, what happened". Because it's been so long and this hasn't been made available as unabridged, I suppose you might as well get it, but only if, like me, you want to taste all of Pigeon's backstory as you read or re-read the series.
I really enjoyed the premise of the book, that Nela could hear cats' thoughts. That was only a small portion of the story. Sort of the jumping off point. There was the cast of characters, perhaps twenty names to keep straight. Get Ann a job? Who was Ann? That happened a lot. Then there were the two main characters, Nela and Steve. Nela is getting over the death of her significant other (we don't know if they were childhood sweethearts or spouses, only that he was the Love of her Life). Steve is getting over his feelings of betrayal over his fairly recent divorce. Yet here they are, thinking about relationships with one another within a few days of meeting. The plot is good but the death goes missing in all the subplots.
Then there's the mystery. Through the first half of the book I thought that the mystery was going to stay ... a mystery. Through the second half of the book they hit you over the head with The Clue over and over, but the police and protagonists kept misinterpreting The Clue.
I liked Nela and Steve. I liked the cat. I didn't like the detective, she was too one sided and tended to jump to conclusions. And I didn't care much for the story. It would be ok for a free read from the library but it's certainly not something I'd want to come back to in the future.
I enjoyed the premise of the series very much, three brother are trying to rebuild the town they grew up in more than 10 years after an F5 tornado destroyed it. The characters are little over drawn, too much the stereotype. The men working on the project are getting restless and one of the brothers convinces his siblings that if there were women living there things would be better. So they put an ad in a northern city hit hard by the recession for single women with a pioneering spirit. The three things that bothered me: first the women all show up together after having talked among themselves and organized the exodus. Second, the women are ticked off because there's no vegan menu, no fresh fruit, no yogurt, no shoe stores... excuse me ladies, did you read the part about "pioneering spirit"? and third I thought that the heroine ended up with the wrong brother, it would have flowed better for me, but it was possible to follow the lines that created the attraction, it was just a little unlikely.
Based on getting this book on a special "first in a series" sale I went ahead and got the other two books, which got increasingly poor reviews from me, to the point that I've returned the third book in the series as too annoying to re-read. So it you're looking for a fulfilling series, maybe you should skip this one. If you’re looking for a little escapism, this is certainly a good fun book and book 2 wasn't too annoying, I even enjoyed it when I wasn't fretting over the stupid way the characters behaved toward one another.
So, I can neither recommend or advise avoidance. For the one book, I'd say go ahead and enjoy it if you're got a credit going to waste otherwise. But if you don't mind a paper copy, get them all from the library instead. It's not really a series worth owning.
I got this book as part of a $5 purchase deal. I have liked other David Baldacci books and I might have liked this one if I'd read all of the books leading up to it. Still I'm not sure because the references to the past don't sound like anything I'd like to have read my way through. The reader is good enough but very matter of fact. It largely strikes me as a guys' book. It's not that the women are weak or one dimensional but I just don't like the people much and that tends to happen more often in books written by men than in books written by women. I don't like to show such a gender bias. I don't like all books written by women or dislike all books written by men. Still, when I dislike a book by a man I can seldom pinpoint why. I wish I could be more helpful, for example, Dick Francis is one of my favorite writers, but in his mind men just are likely to have non committed sex while married. That bothers me. Similarly, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum is in love with two guys, Ranger and Joe. At times in the series she has sex with both of them, though in her defense she isn't married and is not quite in a committed relationship with Joe. But the double standard exists. If we were to read that Joe was having sex with someone other than Stephanie we would be incensed. Especially if it was Joyce. Not that I've heard anyone in this book having sex with anyone (so far, and from the middle of the second part, I doubt that I will finish the book) I'm just trying to give all of you some idea of what I do/don't care for in books in hopes that this will help you evaluate the relevancy of my review to your reading tastes.
In summary: If my review strikes a responsive note with you, don't read the book. If it doesn't turn you off on the book, read the other Camel Club books before reading this one. There's too much insider information that you don't know if you start here, and there's too much spoiler information to go back and read the earlier books after this one. It was a bad book to have on a sale page because of those facts. It's ok to have several books from a series but some series don't work well if you come in in the middle.
First about the book. I really enjoyed the book. We had some old characters, Alex (tiger), Edward, Bernardo, Olaf (the psycho). We met some new characters I'm hoping to see more of in the future. In Bullet we learned that the Harlequin had broken up, it seemed to me like it was two groups: backing the Mother of all Darkness or backing Jean-Claude if they thought he could hold things together. This was about tracking the Harlequin on the Mother's team. I didn't think that it reflected a year's worth of work, but maybe LKH is taking time to smell the roses and not writing 24/7. So, it's not so much my business how much she wants to work as it is whether I enjoy the book when I get it. I enjoyed this very much. True, not as much sex, and that was good, some cool plot twists which I won't go into.
About the title of the review? I'm tired of hearing people say "I hated the last eight books and I just bought this to see if I still hate them" and variations on that theme. If you still enjoy Anita Blake you'll probably enjoy this (except for the annoying sound effects). Some of you who enjoyed the early works about tracking and outwitting supernatural bad guys will enjoy this. I thought that was a given but someone on Amazon corrected me to say that this book still wasn't worth the time or money. I thought that it was.
... and could go to sleep. The book starts in present tense, moves to a WWII setting and back to the present. First we know that Juliet's mother has died. Juliet is in her early 50s and her mother has left her a letter explaining that she was the offspring of a war-time romance. We're discovering what we know about Juliet's mother's life during WWII as Juliet is discovering it, then we're back to Daisy's point of view as all of this is taking place, then return to the present to see how things come out. And I cared a great deal about how things would come out. This works reallly well in this book.
So, I ask myself, why not 5 stars? The central characters are very vivid but the back up people are not well enough drawn. They float in and out of the story, telling Juliet what they think she should do but we don't know them well enough to understand why they make those suggestions. There's her brother, Drew. He's a mathematical genius like the father she grew up with (dead a couple of years as the story opens). Juliet has sometimes wondered why she's such a dud in math. Her mother's letter tells her that she got her artistic talent from her biological father. Drew says burn the photo and the letter and forget about it. Her best friends supports her search but points out a lot of misgivings and self-delusion Juliet is dealing with. Her daughter hasn't been told. Her daughter's boyfriend pops up as someone who annoys Juliet and as an opportunity for some monologues on parenting but wouldn't leave a gap if he were deleted. Her friend who moved to America is probablly a well-drawn picture of someone who has embraced her new country but misses some of the old. So, a lot of supporting characters of varying importance, but none of them is given enough of a part or enough dimension to make them important. You would never meet them here and think, spinoff a story about that person, because they aren't that solid.
And of course, I wanted more of Juliet when the story ended.
This was a week of sales of first books so I thought I'd try a few new series. I'm so glad I chose this one. Once long ago I read Hart's Death on Demand books. After a couple of years I got tired of them and very nearly passed this book up because of that. This book just made me feel happy. Granted I was completely wrong about whodunit, carrying my hope for the murderer almost to the end, but that's nothing new. This just felt very satisfying. True, it's a cozy, but to me that's a good thing. I often need a cheering book and this fit the bill. I can't wait to read the next two, then I'll have a new series to add to my books to look forward to.
This was a tedious book. I've read some of Marian Babson's books in the past and I was looking for a cozy so I picked this up. Nothing happened during the first several hours of the book. A lot of it was written as copy for the book series written by the protaganist which she would like to end as she's tired of the sisters who star in her books. Listening to the "pages" of the books about the sisters makes it easy to see why she would like to end the series: Miss Petunia and her sisters are tiresome.
I kept thinking something was about to happen and then, nothing. Just more daily life in an out of the way English village. When people finally started it die (I won't tell you how far into the book this was, because if you read it you, like I, should keep thinking, "This is IT!") it's quite a relief. When you get to the last bit, and I got there because I really wanted to know what was going on, you'll find it delightful, not because it's finally over, but because it's really a nice story. I would probably have enjoyed it a great deal as a short story or a novella. If it had been a paper book I would have hauled out my very rusty speed reading skills -- why hurry to finish a book that you're reading for fun -- and skimmed until I realised that things had begun to happen then gone back a bit and read from there, but it wasn't and I didn't have any more credits for another week so I let the book plod along until (as the books says over and over) The End.
I will admit at the beginning that I don't much care for abridgments. Even with that bias, usually it means that secondary stories and details are admitted. This is so badly done that if I bought it on tape I'd think I'd lost a tape. You switch between points of the story abruptly and with no attempt to summarize what's happened. I couldn't follow the mystery, the only reason to get this is to follow the Pigeon's developing character. For that, and a couple of frustrating hours attempting to follow the plot the cost is really high.
I can't really say that I enjoyed all 16 hours of this book. If it had been abridged to her average, say 8 or even 10 hours I probably would have enjoyed it. I spent a lot of time waiting for things to happen. I only got to feeling lukewarm about the characters and the plot dragged. It felt like a lot of this was setting the scenario for future books, but the background could have been developed over several books.
Narrator... I didn't like the voice. That's a very subjective consideration. I wasn't as annoyed by the end of the book as the beginning, so I guess after 16 hours you become accustomed.
YA vs Adult
Yes Cabot's YA acknowleges sex, but I find the sex in this book, titillation rather than explicit possibly more of a concern for non-sexually active YAs (which I'd like to think is all of them, but I have a 21 YO daughter and I know better) anyway, the point was I think the titillation is more of an attractant than a somewhat more mechanical presentation. They learn about the mechanics of intercourse, usually in school, but if all you give is dramatic foreplay it may sound more like something a kid would like to try.
*** potential minor spoiler and nothing after that ***
I also don't enjoy books where the central characters can't choose between guys. Starting with one and ending with another is ok if the plot supports it, but my personal experience doesn't support the two hot guys and my imagination, which doesn't mind explicit sex, has trouble with the multiple guys. After saying that, I have to admit that I'm not as troubled by Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake or Merry Gentry. I don't like it in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. So I'm not consistant. I'll have to go with I don't like it here.
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