Sierra Foothills, Northern CA | Member Since 2007
I downloaded this book for two reasons: 1) I love mysteries placed 200 (or more) yrs ago; and 2) reviewers gave this narrator very high marks. This lived up to my expectations and then some!
The book has one overall story arc which is faithfully advanced and completed with no loose ends hanging ... it also has a number of supporting sub-plots that very nicely give legs to the larger story. The characters are excellently drawn with all the necessary human foibles and traits. The story has many of the details needed to credibly create an end 17th century setting and satisfy what we know of life in America during that time period.
The primary reason I bought this book was other reviewers giving this narrator rave reviews. He absolutely did not disappoint. I don't believe the story fabric could have held together this well without his reading and fantastic painting of many, diverse characters.
A very, very satisfying book!
I loved everything about this book: the characters, the entire story line, and the narrator. I don't claim to be ready to debate whether this book is worthy of 5 stars across the board. I have lived with and loved German Shepherds and can't pretend to be a dispassionate reviewer of this book.
I was fully caught up in the story and found myself alternately cheering for the 2 primary characters (one with 2 legs and one with 4 legs) and agonizing when danger loomed for them. I will relisten to this book and will probably cry again at key points.
If you are a dog lover you simply have to listen to this one.
This is the first Hobb book that I have listened to or read. It certainly won't be the last. What a find!
Hobb creates a well constructed world, believable, yet not common. The story easily held my interest throughout. I won't summarize the story line, others have done that quite well. Suffice it to say that this is a very well done coming of age story about a young boy who has a lot to discover about himself. I knew I liked the book and was really looking forward to reading the rest of the series as soon as I finished listening. What I did not anticipate was that I was still thinking about the book and the characters for several days after I finished it. The only reason I'm not listening to the 2nd book in the series right now is that I don't want to gobble them up too quickly. These deserve to be savored.
This is a good book, not great, but good. A couple of minor quibbles: 1) The narrator has an odd way of giving voice to male characters, making them sound "growly" as if they're choking on their words. 2) The story moves at an even pace with no pausing to dwell on the more dramatic turns of events -- making it seem slightly flat lined.
All in all, the book is a fun listen with very colorful characters. The story line is out of the ordinary and not predictable in its plot turns. I'll happily listen to the next book in the series when I want a break from more emotional and dramatic stories.
This was a fun story full of twists and turns. As is the norm for the tv series, you won't figure it out until the end -- but you'll have lots to enjoy along the way. The characters are broadly written without much nuance. But that works for a story that takes place over a span of a few days. The reader/listener is given a lot to chew on while trying to figure out who's the murderer. The pacing is fast with no lulls.
The only downside was the narrator's attempt at Jessica Fletcher's Maine accent. At first I thought she just had a horrible voice. Then she did the intro for a chapter and I was quite surprised to find that she has a lovely speaking voice. I put it down to a bad attempt at an accent she didn't know well. Once I adjusted to that, the narration stopped bothering me.
All in all an enjoyable book.
Zara Ramm could read Webster's Dictionary and I'd happily listen. She has a warmth and lilt to her voice that are perfect for a book that has sardonic and whimsical undertones. Good thing too, this book needed some redeeming graces.
This is the second book in the series and relies heavily on the fact that the listener has already heard book one. Too much is left unexplained for this to be a standalone book. The storyline (as is true in the first book also) relies heavily on mini-episodes all strung loosely together in one overall plot. The two plot arcs (rocky romance and a rogue time traveler) come across as background frameworks from which the individual scenarios hang. Once you realize this and don't try to have one episode lead to or explain the next one, it's easier to relax and get into the book.
The heroine is definitely a mixed bag. She is an understanding and charismatic leader when put in charge. And then she becomes a churlish and destructive young woman when she's crossed by her would-be boyfriend. The two sides of her personality are so extreme that they were hard to reconcile.
I will get the next book in this series because Zara Ramm is just that good.
This book was stunningly bad right from the first paragraph. I gave it two chapters and then started skipping ahead to see if it got any better; it didn't.
I was completely turned off by: the narration, the juvenile content, the complete lack of class, and the seeming contempt for the reader's/listener's intelligence. As one quick example: this book starts right off with the Vice President of the United States taking a phone call from the President while receiving a blow job from his Administrative Assistant. Believe me I'm no prude -- but the scene was done with a total lack of taste or even irony.
Enough said. I'm on to another book.
This book was disappointing in many regards.
* The narration was overly dramatic, frequently sounding almost mournful. At first I thought the problem was the narrator himself, but there were many scenes where he sounded quite good. I ended up convinced that he was being given direction to make some of the scenes come across as thoughtful--which just came out as melodramatic.
* At least once each chapter there was approx 30 sec repeats of a few sentences.
* The first 1/2 of the book was almost completely devoid of action, focusing on philosophical reflections by several of the characters. This was so boring that I frequently lost track of what was happening.
* There was no ending. The book just stopped!
So why did I finish it?
* I'm working my way through the Jack Ryan series and didn't want to miss some of the details. BTW the Ryan series at large is wonderful. This book is totally atypical.
* And, I'm pretty stubborn and was having a real problem believing that it wouldn't get better. It didn't.
I rarely listen to books from a series back-to-back. I enjoyed the first book of the White House Chef Mysteries so much that I made an exception and listened to the first two books one after the other. That's 1) a sign of how enjoyable I find these books to be, and 2) probably a lesson to stick to my original practice of not consuming them in sequence.
As I've mentioned before, this narrator is periodically irritating with her gravely approach to male voices. I found that easy to ignore, particularly since I already knew it was just going to be that way. These stories have twists and turns that kept this listener quite entertained. However, there is minimal character development and nuance in these stories. If I want complexity all the time, there are plenty of other books available...but that might explain why sequential listening wasn't the greatest idea.
What I absolutely love about these books are 1) the White House related stories, 2) the personality of the primary character, and 3) the pacing of the book. Re the White House part: the pressures and demands on the kitchen staff are really interesting and probably reasonably close to reality. The challenges that various staff departments face and their overall pride and response to the First Family and their historic home is fascinating to this listener. Re the primary character: she is resourceful, creative, and very "can-do"; while experiencing human fears, exhilarations, and all the rest of real life emotional cycles. She is easy to relate to vs being so extreme that you could never see yourself in the various situations. Re pacing: Julie Hyzy has set a pace that is almost rhythmic to listen to. She describes scenes and sets environments deftly with a thoroughly enjoyable economy of words. Nothing seems to slow down or drag.
The stories are not overly complex, yet you don't always see things coming. Overall, I find these books to be a treat somewhat like dessert, but they definitely aren't a heavy meal. (And, please excuse the culinary metaphors.)
Ok, how would any sane reviewer give 3 and 4 stars for performance and story, but still give an overall 5? Let me see if I can explain.
The narrator was mildly annoying, using a very tight throat to give voice to male characters. The story was pretty good -- just not great. There were holes left in the plot; e.g. why was the main character's boyfriend so cool toward our heroine in the middle of the book, and other such unexplained circumstances. The plot premise was entertaining and easily kept my attention, but didn't really dwell on character development or plot complexities.
The overall 5 had to do with the mesmerizing pace and the overall cadence of the written words. Even though I knew what happened (not complex enough to be confusing), I still went back and relistened to a couple chapters because I was enjoying the overall experience. So ... my 5 star explanation isn't terribly enlightening, I know. I would recommend just listening to this book and maybe you can help me explain why it is so enjoyable.
My 4 star rating for this book overall has everything to do with setting the right context and listening within that framework. This book was published in 1930. The same year that Dashiel Hammit published The Maltese Falcon. For those who have actually watched that old b/w Humphrey Bogart film, it will help to evoke the context of that time. WWI was the war to end all wars. WWII was a thought too horrible to contemplate. Relationships were portrayed in simple and un-nuanced terms. Given that approach, this book starts to make sense. Charteris writes with a wonderful style and really knows how to turn a phrase. The main character (our Saint) is rather amoral when it comes to dealing 1-on-1 justice, but still is capable of preaching about national righteousness and ethics.
This book was definitely heading to a 3 star rating (which for me means "just average, but not awful") when it finally picked up speed in the last few chapters. What sealed the 4 stars was the author's afterword. Equally as informative as the foreword, it acknowledged the book's shortcomings and rationalized why he decided to not go back for a rewrite. I found this absolutely fascinating. Enough so that I will pick up the next book.
And, let it be said that this narrator was absolutely wonderful.
Repeating myself here: I strongly recommend listening to the foreword and the afterword. Those two pieces give this book meaning, context and make it all the more enjoyable.
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