First let me say this was my first book by Ms. Dimon and the first I have heard narrated by Ms. Hughes. The narration by Ms. Hughes was such that I couldn't tell if my problems with the story were the actual story or the tone of the narration.
The narration sounded whiny, even when there would be no reason for whiny. The narration seemed to try to create angst where there should be no angst. Scenes that I think were put in for comedy relief, well, they just seemed painful.
This is a very short category book, and I think that may be part of my problem with the book. There are a lot of important issues in this book, homelessness, health care costs, foreclosures, small town pettiness, trust in relationships; but the length of the book necessitated these to be dealt with in a surface way, resulting in lots of holes in the narrative. So the heroine has been living in the wild for quite sometime (as implied by her saying she hasn't slept on a mattress in a very long time), yet there appears to be no physical sign of this. She seems well kempt, or at least nobody comments that she looks dissheveled. Nobody mentions body odor even after she gets up close and personal with the hero.
Honestly, if I were reading the book myself, putting my own "tone" on it, I might not have noticed. But I was irritated by the narration and when I get irrated by a book, whether I am reading or listening, I get nitpicky and petty. And as a further example of that, the cover of this book makes me a little cranky, too. Normally the covers matter not at all to me. But we have a book, a story about two people firmly in adulthood who work outside. What we have on the cover are two very pale people who look to be late teens, very early 20s at the most. Yeah, petty, I know. But it seems indicative of many problems. with the book.
While I will give Ms. Dimon another chance by reading another of her books, it will take lots of research and sampling before I give Ms. Hughes another chance.
(I needed a short listen that I wouldn't get sucked into for hours -- my discipline is sorely lacking -- and I read good reviews of this book on other sites so I chose this one without my normal research process. At $3.95, it wasn't too expensive of a lesson to learn.)
Zombies? Zombies? I read a zombie book and I loved it. Color me surprised. Color me stunned. Color me amused, entertained, and impressed.
So I really don't know what to say. I bought this because it was an Audible Daily Deal and I was intrigued by the other reviews I read. Frankly, this doesn't turn out well for me often. But this was a stunning success.
The basics: Angel is a druggie with issues. She is immersing herself in the drugs and the issues and finds herself waking up in the hospital with blank portions in her memory and questions about just what is going on in her life.
She is presented with some bottles of some liquid with chunks, a letter telling her about a job she has no choice but to take, and more questions than answers.
The book is relatively short, so situations unfold quickly and believably (okay, well, once you accept that whole zombie thing, it is believable).
The writing is very good. It is evocative of place and feelings. You see that Angel is really screwed up. Ms. Rowland doesn't do the whole zombie=good person thing. Angel still struggles with right and wrong. She is in situations that are not pleasant. Her living situation is not the best. And she just deals. There is no Magic Millionaire that shows up with a freezer of brains to help her out. She must help herself, stand up for herself, and deal with the real world and the machinations of the zombie world.
If Audible's goal was to get me hooked on the first one and buy the others at full price (or full credit), goal was achieved. I am also eyeing her other series.
And I would be remiss is I didn't mention the narrator. A definite new-to-me narrator. She is fabulous. Angel's "voice" is spot on. The emotions in the voice are spot on. She is everything you want your new favorite series narrator to be.
Effuse, effuse, effuse. Can't help it. I loved it.
Let me start by saying I loved, loved, loved this book in physical, readable form.
It is well written and beautifully edited. I have reread the book numerous times and often pick it up and just read random sections of it. So very, very well done.
The audio performance, well, let's just say I was not as enamored.
I read this book when it first came out, but it has taken me years (two or three) to buy the audio, and I only bought it because it was a daily deal. The thing that kept me from buying it was the format of the book. I knew it would be difficult to do well, and I was right.
So this book takes place in basically the last quarter of 1999. The year and the Y2K scare definitely play a role in the book. I would go so far as to say they could be a character in the book.
Our hero is Lincoln. I will tell you in reading reviews of the book, I was concerned that I would think Lincoln was a creepy stalker type. Yeah, well, I was wrong. I very much view Lincoln as a hero.
Lincoln lives with his mom and works on a paper. Remember, it is 1999 and papers were much more, hmmm, is relevant a good word? Well, maybe not.
Anyway, Lincoln is not a journalist or a typesetter. He is a troll. He is the one who reads the flagged e-mails of the employees. Some companies put a filter in with key words. The e-mails that trigger the filter get flagged and someone reads them. That someone is supposed to read, evaluate, and notify the employee not to do "that" (whatever the particular "that" is) anymore.
Lincoln does this, but he is a bit uncomfortable doing it. But it pays really well and he isn't doing much of anything else. It is through this job he is introduced to Beth and Jennifer, two journalist friends who let it all hang out in their e-mails. Needless to say, they get caught in the filter. But Lincoln doesn't do the final leg of his job, letting them know they are inappropriate and stop. He likes them. He is reading their e-mails. The e-mails are quite innocent and very funny. And somehow, he just can't bring himself to make them stop.
I was very wary with this aspect of the plot line. But Rainbow Rowell executed it beautifully. You understood why Linc did what he did (or didn't do what he didn't do). You, too, fell in love with Beth and Jennifer. You respected their friendship. You cheered them on.
Needless to say, Linc has much angst over his (in)actions. But those, too, play out well in the story. You are watching Linc grow. Sure, he is an adult when the story starts, but that is intellectually and physical maturity. You watch his social growth. You watch him grow to know himself. You root for him.
I really think if I say more about the specific story, it will be too spoilery. Watching how the story unfolds is the real beauty of it.
Now to the narration. I knew going in that it would be difficult. There are multiple e-mail threads read. It gets old hearing the back and forth, and the narrator does not do a good job of changing her voice such that you can keep up with who is who in the e-mail threads, even when she reads the to/from.
The narrator's change of voice throughout was pretty much nonexistent. It sounded like your sixth grade teacher reading you a book in class, but not really paying attention to what she was reading. There would be times inflection/tone/voice changed, but there really didn't seem to be a reason for it. Definitely not a fan of the narrator.
BUT here is where I sound like an equivocating ninny. I will relisten to this story again and again. I don't like the narrator, I don't know that I would have chosen her. But she is the narrator of one of my favorite books. I will listen to this book many, many times for that reason. The last few pages of this book are some of the most romantic pages I have ever read in my life (not sexy, but romantic). I will relisten to those portions often. I will fall asleep listening to this book because I find I sleep better listening to a favorite book. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I will use the Audible app and fall asleep to it again.
So am I happy I got the book in audio format? Yes. Am I happy I got it as a daily deal? Yes. Will I get my money's worth out of it? You betcha.
As with all of Ms. Jones' Charley Davidson series, I totally enjoyed this book. Lorelei King was spot on, as always. You can tell who the characters are. You can "see" the emotion portrayed. To me this would be a difficult series to narrate. While horrible things happen, there are also funny things, things that make you laugh at loud, and then still giggle a while later. I would imagine it is difficult to swing on that pendulum.
The story is involved, though, on lots of levels. I have no idea how many Ms. Jones is planning on doing and I haven't hit series saturation point yet, but I am wondering if some of the "what just happened" elements in this are sequel bait.
Charley is the Grim Reaper. Yeah, who knew. As the Grim Reaper, she apparently has talents/abilities she knew nothing about. Granted, this is the sixth in the series and one must keep it fresh, but a lot of her new powers/abilities just seemed a little to convenient to just be popping up. I won't do a spoiler for any of them (because quite frankly, I don't really understand a few of them), but their appearance did add some scenes to this book and I am sure will rear their head in the future.
But there was one whole section of the book dealing with a police chief that made no sense to me in context. It seemed to come from nowhere and then it went nowhere and then it disappeared. I can only think it was serial bait. Then there was a death of a minor character (so minor as to be invisible, really) that just seemed to...happen for no apparent reason other than to get an annoying do-nothing character gone. But again, it was handled in such a way as to feel like serial bait. And then a third (but probably the most interesting/vital-to-future episodes) was the situation with her father. But again, not being spoilery. Let's just say that something is up with him, but no one is expressly stating what it is. Charley is very concerned in the beginning, but then you never hear of the situation again.
I really felt all of these threads were just filler matter that really added nothing to the story and in the case of the police chief it took away from the story at hand.
I am sure I will be proven wrong in the future, but these story sidelines made me shake my head more than once.
So bottom line for this not-a-review review is that if you liked the other five, you will like this. If you are just hopping in the series, you certainly can hop in here as easily as anywhere else. I don't think you need the foundation of the previous five, but I think you would benefit from it.
I liked it. I really did. I wasn't surprised because I have liked other stuff this author has written.
Or so I thought.
Here is where I confess I am not very bright. This was a Whispersync deal. I will buy pretty much any WS combo that comes in under 5 bucks unless I have issues with the writer and/or narrator.
Saw this. Jumped on it. Of course, I thought this was written by Allison Packard, not Allison Parr. Yep. As an aside, Allison Packard writes a pretty darn good book, too.
And then (remember, I am not very bright) I realized this was NA. Wait, I don't like NA. I don't buy NA because I don't want to encourage all the whining and self-centeredness in NA. "Just Say No to NA" would be my battle cry in the publishing wars.
Guess what. There is no whining or self-centeredness in this book.
Our heroine, Natalie, is 23, a grad student. There is a lot of setup about what she is in grad school for (archeology) and what her career goals are. A bit of that (remember, I am not very bright) went right over my head. But I understood enough, grasped enough, remembered enough to muddle through it. Her educational issues are the reason for the conflict in the book. The particulars are not that important to understanding what is going on and the motivation behind actions.
Our hero, Mike, holds the key (and the title) to Natalie being able to do a dig on land in Ireland. Natalie had previously been given permission to dig on this land, but the previous owner dies, leaving the land to Mike.
Mike says no to the dig. He has his reasons, of course, but they are revealed later. Mike is a quarterback for a fictional NY football team. This means he can go to Ireland in the off season for family reasons and then hang around for what seems like a really long time.
As far as the story goes, I had some basic issues with it. There were some things that just didn't make sense. Basic-reactions-as-human- beings-type things. Maybe I missed some things because I listened to the Audible version, but some things just didn't flow. There were a couple of times where we are in one location doing one thing and next thing you know they are sitting having tea. I think this is just a transition that was not easily picked up on in the narration.
The sex is 99.9 percent behind doors. Oh, that was one of the transitions I didn't pick up on. Our young couple apparently starts an intimate relationship and I missed it. They are kissing and cuddling, then the next thing I hear after they have a fight is that was the first night Natalie had not visited Mike's room. Ummm, okay. Didn't know that was going on. But that could be my lack of brightness again. And it could also be one of the vagaries of audiobooks. I couldn't flip back to search for something I may have missed so I just went with it.
As always, everybody is too beautiful, too successful, too cute. But you learn to get over that.
I did enjoy seeing Natalie have healthy, supportive relationships with other women. I did appreciate the fact that Natalie was a bit timid about certain things, but she just plunged in and educated herself and executed what needed to be executed.
All in all, it was a positive, mature YA book.
Narration was good. There were accents, different languages, all well done. While there weren't necessarily "men's" voices and "women's" voices, all were distinguishable. Very nicely done.
The author very generously gave me a code to download this performance for free.
I remembered why I don't usually ask for review copies within ten minutes of starting this book. Okay, within five minutes.
I will say that I think the book is probably better than the performance. But then again, I honestly don't know.
So here is the scoop. The narrator's voice is very old and robotic. The characters are young. They are portrayed as being young and attractive, but their voices don't convey that.
There are a lot of times where I **think** the character is speaking aloud, but then come to find out that it was introspection.
There are times when the words/narrative show lightheartedness and fun, but it seems the narrator chooses those times to speak slowly and robotically, lifeless.
The female protag literally says, "I am happy," but the narrator makes it sound like she is saying, "I need my third root canal of the week."
The various male characters are virtually indistinguishable. But then again, so are the female characters.
And here is the scoop on the story. It is honestly hard to separate the narration from the story. I don't know if my immediate dislike of the narration kept me from just allowing me to immerse myself in the story. I had a basic issue with the setup of the story. No spoilers here. But there are continuity issues and, again, a lot of procedural things that just did not ring true.
But I will say the villains are all evil; the good people are all gold. The heroine is oftentimes a Mary Sue; the hero, totally clueless.
The ending of the book was a bit over the top, and unbelievable.
On a positive note for the narrator, her voice for the evil other woman-wannabe really makes her seem evil.
If this had not been given to me, I probably would not have finished it.
Sweet book. Sweet does not mean sex/language free.
The heroine did drive me a bit crazy with her whole "I can't depend on anyone but myself" credo. If I had been the hero, my patience would have worn thin much earlier.
I listened to the Audible version. My first time with the narrator Claire Bocking. She did a stunning job. Lots of accents/characters and she was consistent and did not have to resort to really annoying characterizations, whining voices, or ridiculous overacting.
Excellent narration by Ms. Plummer.
Not a Virgin River fan. Got the Audible version for a nice price.
Look, this is No. 20 in the series. Ms. Carr has a strong and loyal following.
Me, not a huge fan but not averse to spending some time in Virgin River where everybody is nice and works for the good of all. But I swear, they need a mean person to move to town just to make them realize how good they have it.
I mean, seriously, who do they threaten the kids with?
"If you don't straighten up, I am going to send you to Preacher who will feed you and protect you and generally make a big deal of you," doesn't a good "you better behave" threat make.
First book for this author and this narrator form.
That means I wasn't really familiar with the background story. I don't know that that hindered the overall story for me.
I know this was to be an angsty story, the setup, the background given, all lead to angst. But the narrator, gee, he just seemed too, too angst ridden. I just generally did not like his performance. His child voice made me want to disconnect my auditory nerve. It was just horrible. And yeah, "she" didn't have many lines, but what "she" did have would take me totally out of a story I wasn't really into in the first place.
Yes, long series and I should start at the beginning. But seeing a Kindle/Audible special made me decide to jump in and see if I liked it enough to start at the beginning. Based on this, I would have to say no, I won't be investing.
The writing was fine, competent from what I could tell, just not for me. I like a lot less angst and narrators who can voice the characters in the story in a semi-realistic way.
I know that the narrator is a favorite of many. Based on this narration, though, I will be very careful about buying any more of his performances.
I will say I enjoyed the bonus story a lot more than the main story. The only reason I even listened to it was because I was driving and disconnecting was more of an issue than letting it run.
I think I picked this up because it was a cheapie at Amazon and then the book was equally cheap. Glad I went ahead and took the plunge.
Good world building, consistent, "believable."
Nicely laid out.
Listened to the Audible version. Had my doubts about the narrator, but ended up really enjoying it. The narrator seemed a little too disaffected at first, but she evened out and I enjoyed it immensely.
The only down side is there is another "love" triangle a la Stephanie Plum, but with vampires, werewolves, and witches. That is not a favorite trope of mine, but so far it is not too bad.
I have been on a major glom of Krentz's backlist and have really enjoyed them. I have not found this at a UBS so I thought I would use one of the credits that was burning a hole in my virtual pocket. Not such a great idea.
First, I enjoyed the book. It is what you read vintage Krentz for. Strong angst-filled hero with dead family members by the seeming score but yet still enough family members remaining for heaping spoonfuls of guilt to be applied daily. There is always at least one young male family member that sees him as a father figure. Never female, always male.
Next, our heroine, just as strong but more of the get-it-all-on-the-table sort. She, too, has family drama, almost always female, both older and younger.
Oh, let's not forget the tea. There is always tea. This time, our heroine owns a very successful tea shop.
So yeah, if you love this era of Krentz, you won't be disappointed.
Now, the narration. I love Richard Ferrone...with a different style book. He has a strong voice. But it is not a romance voice. It is not a voice that does the female characters well, especially if there are multiple females to be voiced.
There were multiple oddly placed pauses. I don't know if these were editing issues. I don't know if they were paragraphing issues. There were long breaks between chapters, but the unexplained breaks seemed even longer.
Pardon me while I pull out my soapbox. What were TPTB thinking to let a typo remain on the cover of this audiobook that was reproduced for Audible. Seriously, even if (and I say if) the actual book cover has a typo, it needs to be corrected. And in this case, the typo is egregious. They have misspelled "Krentz" on the cover blurb. Come on, people. Give me a break. "Krantz at her insightful and entertaining best" should not be on the cover of a Krentz book.
Putting soapbox away now (knowing full well I have angered the typo gods and fully expect to see a glaring typo in this as soon as I hit send).
Will I keep this book? Probably. Do I wish they had cast the narrator better? Definitely.
Will I continue my Krentz glom? For sure. Will I get another Ferrone-narrated Krentz? Gosh, I do hope not.
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