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.
If you like Jayne Ann Krentz as a general rule, you will like this one.
Same basic outline. Same basic outcome.
I felt there was a lot of telling and very little showing in this book.
We got a lot of info dumps. When items crucial to the plot or forward movement of the story happened, all of a sudden we had a character who was willing to engage another character in conversation to tell us what exactly happened, why, and what it means for the forward movement of the plot. I will admit, it got a bit old.
It was a perfectly enjoyable book to listen to while walking various airports and flying from Boston to Atlanta and back.
I listened to the Audible version. The narrator was fine. Nothing outstanding either positively or negatively.
This book, oh, this book.
It has a great premise. Its execution is not even that horrible. It has as good a plot as you are going to find in this type of book. It has almost likeable characters. There is plenty of sequel bait if one likes it to have the opportunity for many more.
But the editing. Wait, there was no editing. If there was editing, the author needs a refund.
Here are a few of the phrases that stood out (note: I was listening to the Audible version and only wrote down quotes/words when convenient): "I rose my eyebrows confrontationally." Okay. I guess her eyebrows were up in arms about something. Still don't know how one can do that confrontationally unless they were advancing on someone else.
"Extended beer gut." I guess that would be as opposed to the flat beer guts.
"She was understandably curious, which I understand." Hmmm. I don't understandably understand.
"I mentally kicked myself." Glad for the clarification.
"Nodded mutely." Nodded speakingly I guess would be the opposite.
"Muttered blandly." Hmm. "Muttered spicily" would be if they were having Indian food, I guess.
And I added my comments only because that is what I thought when I heard those clips. I was taken out of the story time and time again by comments like these.
Every action had an adverb in front of it. They couldn't be slumbering, they had to be "happily slumbering." They "nodded mutely," when "nodded" would have been fine and dandy. She couldn't just be "curious," she had to be "understandably curious."
That is the kind of stuff that a good editor will deal with for the author. That is the kind of stuff that will make people not remember your story but remember your -ly adjectives and adverbs being unrelenting.
And then there was the dialogue. If I weren't so educated on YA books, I would dismissively say, (see, I can do it, too) "Oh, this dialogue belongs in a YA book." But I know that dialogue in YA books can be very quick and clever and not all snark, quirkiness, and attempts to be too cute for words.
There were a number of good parts of the book. I liked the characters when they weren't so snarky or know it all. I liked some of the parent-child interactions. But much of the book was cute and quirky for cute and quirky's sake.
Since I did listen to the Audible version, I will say a thing or two about the narrator. First, she read very, very swiftly. Second, she pronounced some words incorrectly. (See, that dang -ly popping up again.) "Vehemently" was pronounced "vee-HE-ment-lee." Strong emphasis on "he" when "he" is really not how it is pronounced. This word came up a number of times in various forms and all were mispronounced.
Now, since I didn't follow along with the text, I don't know if the wrong word was written a few times or if the narrator just read the word wrong, but that happened. Again, totally takes you out of the narrative.
She also seemed too arch. Again, that might have more to do with the written dialogue than the spoken, but it was an issue. Sometimes I felt it was totally the wrong tone to be taking.
I so wanted to love this book. As it was, I just finished it because I didn't want to start another one.
I am not sure there is a word in the English language to describe how much I hated this "heroine." Nina Blackman. Gosh, I don't even like her name. A vampire called "blackman" conjures up visions of Dracula in his black tux and cape. Yep. Don't even want to hear the name Nina ever again. What a whiny, cranky, bitchy heroin. Okay. That was cathartic. Let me continue.
Why, you ask, did I subject myself to listening to the whole book. Simple. I am cheap. I bought it on Audible (after listening to a snippet and reading a couple of reviews) and dang it, I was going to listen to it. But yet there was another more salient reason: as a reminder never to fall prey to the Audible Buy Three for Two Credits "sale." Yep. Cheap gets me every time. But when I see the sale next time, I am just going to say "Blackman" in the same tone with the same expression Jerry Seinfeld says "Newman." Then I will know just to turn away, don't look for that elusive third book.
So here is the thing. The story was okay. Nothing original, really. Dental hygienist gets a quasi bite from a vampire. Dental hygienist becomes a vampire. It should have been fun, enjoyable even. But it wasn't.
Nina Blackman has had a hard life. Nobody is saying she hasn't. Her mother was a serial abandoner, until she just never came home again. her father was on over-the-road trucker who often had to leave, of course, and then he died. So she was raised by her grandmother, a seemingly loving woman who wants nothing but the best for her granddaughter.
Nina has two really good friends, whether she will acknowledge this to anyone, including herself, or not. These two friends stick by her through thick and thin, unfanged and fanged. In fact, one of the friends accidentally became a werewolf in the first book of this series. But I digress.
Nina Blackman is one of those people who wallows. She wallows in how poor she is. She wallows in her history. She wallows in her absolute misery with herself and who and what she is. And this is before she was turned into a vampire. She knows she is a miserable creature. She knows she is absolutely miserable. She knows she visits this same misery upon everybody who comes into contact with her. How do I know this? Because she goes on and on and on about it interminably.
But for some reason, she is rewarded for this wallowing. She has two great friends who prove time and time again they are there for her. The vampire that turns her accidentally? Well, he is a hunk and a half, rich, has developed the great skills of flying and wishing things into existence. If that won't make you fall in love, nothing will.
Well, after a lot of really stupid machinations and manipulations, Nina the Execrable Being and the Vampire Hunk marry. Now, give our girl the credit, she married him to save his life. He marries her because her lurves her, apparently. But here is the problem. They are going to live forever (barring even more stupid machinations and manipulations.) This is an impediment to their mating/marriage. Vampire Hung drags his feet (and believe me, I would, too, but for different reasons) about marrying our girl Nina. But he is afraid that she will be bored with him century after century. He wants her to be sure. Well, she is sure.
But let me tell you the part that really got me about this story. There is NO character growth on Nina's part. There is no maturity attained. There is nothing. Not only that, she doesn't plan on maturing, on allowing for growth. At the very end of the book, right before they marry, Nina recounts all of her character flaws, both in her head and out loud to Vampire Hunk. Every.last.one.of.them. And Vampire Hunk rejoices in her difficult personality. Seriously, dude. This may be charming now because as Vampire Hunk you are used to people bowing and scraping and kissing up to you. How charming that she doesn't. But let me tell you, that will get old fast. You can't even say hello to this woman without her getting upset. You can't give her a gift without her doubting its sincerity.
So bottom line: she plans on carrying on for all eternity just like she has for this book that seemed to last for an eternity. No, a complete personality transplant would not be realistic. But hey, it is a VAMPIRE book. Nothing realistic needed. No, I didn't want/expect to see Lucrezia Borgia turn into Anne of Green Gables. What I wanted to see was something, anything to show that she wasn't going to continue the loathsome personality of her past.
Yeah. So I listened to the Audible version. The narrator was Meredith Mitchell. I will not got out of my way to listen to Meredith Mitchell again. I don't know if it was the character or the voice characteristics of the narrator, but it was not a pleasant listen. Ms. Mitchell's voice seemed harsh and may have made Nina even less likeable.
You know, I usually adore Molly Harper, anything and everything she writes. I was excited for this one, but it was just, I don't know, not everything I hoped it would be. Is it me or is it her? I don't really know.
The story was more chick lit, I guess, than romance or mystery.
There is an island. There is a billionaire. There is chicanery. But it just didn't gel.
There were not one by two romances. Again, nobody seemed to be gellin'. The relationships were fine. The humor was fine. The situation was slight ridiculous (and I mean beyond the whole haunted mansion ridiculousness).
It just seemed forced and formulaic.
Amanda Ronconi as always was fabulous. I want her to narrate my life. But talk about ridiculous, forced, and formulaic, that would be me so I wouldn't put her through that.
I was given an Audible code for the audio edition by the author. I can't remember if the request of a review for the code was made. But anyway, a review there will be.
This is a coming of age story. Granted, our 35-year-old heroine Searcy Roberts is a bit old to just now be coming of age, but her growth was somewhat hampered by a money-poor youth and a boyfriend/fiancée/husband who made it where she didn't have to grow up.
I am not going to lie. I was not a fan of Ms. Searcy Roberts at the beginning of the book. In fact, I was ready to just walk away. But being a Southern girl myself, I know that the most spoiled Southern heroine generally turns into a strong woman. And that is what happened in this story.
The book opens with Searcy waiting for her husband on their anniversary. He never shows. No, he is not dead. But Searcy's way of life is about to take a major hit. This story is about a woman who is forced out of her comfort zone and into the prime of her life.
The author has a good way with words. I could picture scenes, get the feel for mood, and even wince and cringe at the embarrassing or emotionally painful scenes. As a native Atlantan (there are about six of us left in Atlanta), the other thing that made me cringe were issues with things like brownstones in Buckhead and Saks in downtown. And don't get me started on the myriad of logistical/factual problems with a simple ride on MARTA. But if you don't "know" Atlanta, this won't jerk you out of the story the way it did to me. A minor quibble, but it did make me roll my eyes. More than once.
Listening to a full cast performance of the book was quite interesting. I didn't really understand "full cast" meant more than two performers. I thought the female narrator just changed her voice and then the male performer changed his. But in the credits at the end, there was a whole host of performers mentioned. So that being said, some of the voices were discordant to me. The male "hero" had a much older voice than I would have wished for the hero. Some of the female voices sounded incongruent with the characters they portrayed.
Overall, a lovely listen and a good little book.
I was given an Audible coupon code to get a free copy of this book in audio form for an honest review. I also had bought the Amazon version for 99 cents at some point because the written edition is in my library and when I click on it the receipt says I paid 99 cents for it. Who knew.
This is a book written from a dual POV. You have the young Char and the young Riley. They are young, and they seem even younger than they actually are. The humor could be what passes for humor amongst the younger generation. This was not classified as NA, but I would definitely classify it as such.
In reading the blurb on Amazon, Riley is referred to as a "pure gentleman." Apparently pure gentlemen say stuff like "What the (expletive delete), chick, did you not see I was reaching for that when your tiny little meat claws went to snatch it away from me?" And yes, ladies and germs, that was their meet cute. Well, their second meet cute. They had met on a phone call earlier. And that was just as charming.
But here is how the story read to me.
My point of view.
And now that I have told you all that, I am going to sit here and write this review. I am going to purse my lips in concentration while I write it. Then I am going tilt my head to the side as I think about my sister and all the crap she is putting me through right now.
Hey, I think I will say something provocative but yet sweet right now while I think about my life in great and belabored detail.
And now I will write about it from my husband's POV.
I wonder why that woman is always on the computer typing stuff as I sit here napping in my chair that I bought ten years ago with proceeds from my parents' estates. When I sit in it, it is like it surrounds me with the love of my parents. They were really great people and I loved them very much. But then after their death, things went awry with my brother. This makes me sad. If I hadn't already moved away from my home state, I probably would have then. I wonder what's for dinner that my cute, sexy, pursed-lipped wife is cooking.
And that is how I felt listening to this book. I was told everything. I was shown very little. It felt like I was going through someone else's to do list. The dialog felt cutesy and clumsy. It was written for reactions and not depth of character building or plot furtherance.
I listened to the Audible edition. The narrator has an excellent voice. I think she has potential to be a great narrator, but she needs more experience. She needs to figure out male voices a little better, to flex her vocal muscles. Or she needs to narrate books that fit her vocal skills.
I originally read the e-book over a year ago. I loved it. There were issues, misspellings, obvious overuse of a thesaurus, just wrong words used (indeterminable as opposed to interminable). But it did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. Quirky, fun, likeable characters. Lots of humor. Interesting setups and outcomes. So not my usual fare, but fun and enjoyable. I saw the price for the WS copy and decided what the heck. And who'd a thunk it, but it was an excellent audio book. The narrator Jennifer Grace did an excellent job. The intonations were great, the pacing was spot on, and it made a book I really enjoyed an audiobook I loved. I have a great trepidation of listening to a favorite book because I have it in my head one way and often the narration is totally different, ruining it for me. This time, it was a homerun.
More like a 3.5. I am conflicted about how I felt about this book. I enjoyed it for the most part. I really did. But it wasn't what I was expecting, wanting, desiring to read at the moment.
I have read/listened to Diana Rowland's White Trash Zombie books. I was hoping for something like those but with a different heroine, if you. Think about that for a moment. We all hate when an author writes the same book but with a different heroine. So my premise was all wrong to begin with.
Anyhoo, don't be looking for Angel in Kara. Are there similarities? Yes. But the Kara Gillian book was darker. There was not as much humor. Kara is not as disingenuous as our zombie gal Angel, nor is she all that worldly wise. But she knows what she is from day 1. There is no fumbling around, in humorous ways, to figure out how to deal with her situation.
I have told you what it is not. Now I will share what it is.
Kara Gillian is a cop. But she is a cop with an outside life that includes her being a summoner. She summons demons. Now, these demons will do stuff for summoners, but there are different levels of demons one can summon. If you summon a demon that is not of a mind to be summoned, you could be opening up a can of demonic worms you really don't want to open.
And Kara does just that. But Kara can't figure out why or how she did it. She didn't want to. But she did. And of course, the demon doesn't shed any light on the situation for her.
So what we have is a cop with an unwanted demon. And then next thing you know, we have a cop with serial killer on her hands. Coincidence? I think not.
So the story takes us through the machinations of the serial killer, and the machinations of a demon lord with an agenda. Kara is the focal point of both.
There are a lot of red herrings in this book. Red herrings that you can smell. That is not my favorite plot device. They did seem a bit heavy handed.
I also had some issues with Kara's initial meeting with the demon. I didn't "approve" of what happened, nor did I approve when it happened again. But it is all explained away in a PC kind of way so I decided not to get my panties in a twist.
I listened to the Audible version. The narrator is Liv Anderson. I can't remember listening to her before, but I will now seek out books she has narrated. I thought she did a wonderful job.
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.
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