The Great Jackalope Stampede is the third book in the Jackrabbit Junction series, and as a third book it ups the stakes in the mystery and expands the cast of characters.
If you’ve been following along, we have the series star Claire up to her regular hijinks. Claire is one of those women who has studied a lot, but doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of actual university degrees or gainful employment. What she does have is a varied skill set that is quite useful for the mysteries she finds herself embroiled in.
The romantic subplot of book two focused on younger Morgan sister, Katie and introduced us to Deborah, the shrew of a mother to the Morgan sisters. This book brings the third Morgan sister, Veronica, and the romantic subplot shines on her. We also have a cousin by the name of Natalie.
The new mystery is yet another effect of the deceitful things Ruby’s ex-husband Joe got up to. This creates something new for Claire to obsess about, and obsess she does. She invariably finds her way into peril, but solves the mystery by the end. There are also subplots with a stolen watch, potential pregnancies, a gang of rebellious old ladies, and Ronnie (Veronica) getting over the humiliation of her marriage and divorce.
Those new to the series may wonder if starting on the 3rd book is even doable. There are some books where you can enter at any point, and I would say that this one could be like that. The basic points of the previous books are referenced so readers won’t feel lost.
Deborah was a thorn in everyone’s sides in book 2 (Jackrabbit Jitters), but she’s not actually on the page much in this book. Oddly enough, I missed her this time around. I did enjoy the twist plot with her near the end, though, especially since it was with one of my favorite male secondary characters.
Cousin Natalie was a nice addition. I had to check if she was a cross-over character with the author’s Deadwood series, but it seems she is not. If Ann Charles wants to continue this series, she could do it with a focus on Natalie returning to Jackrabbit Junction. I would suggest, though, that she try to come up with a plot other than the effects of Joe’s thieving ways.
One thing the author has done all through the series is mention country songs of various types and ages. Music plays a big part of what’s going on, and it’s a cute way to add flavor to the story.
Her other bit of flavor is how obsessed with bid euchre the main characters are. I used to play spades a lot and almost learned how to play euchre. It’s something else that provides good character setting since it’s completely realistic that people from South Dakota would play indoor card games, especially in winter, and that they’d also use this game in the hot of summer in Arizona to stay out of the heat.
For the performance of the audiobook itself, Lisa Larsen did great with this. I enjoyed what she did for the first two books, and she did not disappoint here. New characters sound different, and established characters sound the same. We don’t have moments of wondering just who is speaking. Lisa even sings a passage or two in the character of one of the drunk sisters singing Patsy Cline. (And who hasn’t ever tried a line or two of “Crazy”?) I like what she’s done here, and I’d be perfectly willing to follow Lisa into other audiobook projects she has.
In summary: Try it. You’ll like it.
Disclaimer: I received a free Audible download of this book from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
This 2nd book in the Jackrabbit Junction series is firing on all cylinders and expands the cast of characters. We have the same fun crowd as before with Claire, Harley and his besties (my favorite is Manny), Ruby, her daughter Jess, and Mac. Add to the mix Claire’s mother Deborah, her younger sister Kate and the very hot bar owner Butch, and things in the Junction just got jittery.
They mystery is less mysterious this time around, but that’s only because it relies again on the misdeeds of Ruby’s dead husband Joe. This time we have a different person he did wrong. If Joe was so rotten, it’s hard to believe that Ruby was so blind she didn’t see it.
There is also a recurring thread about Mac having told Claire he loves her but that he doesn’t want the rest of the world to know he said that. I found those parts of the story really annoying. They could potentially be true to how people really are, but it made me want to tell the character to man up. He said it, so he should own it.
Narrator Lisa Larsen shines again with her performance. The sound is professional, and with minimal slips she sounds great and clear all the way through. Generally, the listener will immediately know who is being voiced even without the tags. There is one time where Chester didn’t sound gruff enough, but that was an exception and not the rule.
Full disclosure: I received a free audible download of this book from the narrator in exchange for an honest review. I have enjoyed this so much, though, that I plan on immediately buying the 3rd book in the series just so I know what happens next.
Disclaimer: I received a free Audible download of this book from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this audiobook. To be honest, I was just happy to have one for “free.” I hadn’t heard of this author before, but I like mysteries, romance and love audiobooks. So I gave it a go.
The story has Claire and her grandfather Harley together in an RV park as a mystery unfolds around them. The author introduced an interesting cast of supporting characters. I have a soft spot for Manny, the Latin lover who is one of the two friends of Claire’s grandfather. I really enjoyed the fact that we got a story with an adult and her grandfather, which is not something I’ve often encountered.
Anne Charles did not let the reader wonder who the villain of the mystery was. There are times when it’s great to figure out along with the characters whodunit, but I liked this device of letting us know right away. It provided tension as I wondered just when they characters were going to figure it out.
As far as the narration itself, it was perfectly polished as if it had come from a major studio. The narrator had a great voice that immediately put me at ease so I knew I would enjoy spending 10 hours with her. She was deft at making the speaking of different people sound different enough so that there was never any question who might be speaking.
I will warn you that the main character of Claire is very loud. She’s louder than everyone else. That’s not a problem with the audio or production, but instead is a deliberate acting choice that seemed truly appropriate to Claire’s personality once I got to know her.
My only real criticism about the book is about the cover art, which looked very, very cheap. As a first point of contact, it doesn’t do the author any favors to get potential readers. It’s hard enough being an indie author without having a product that *looks* like it’s indie, too.
In summary, I really liked this story and these characters. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately wanted to dive into the next book and I already wonder who soon the narrator will have the book after that ready.
If anything in the summary intrigues you, give this a chance. Recommended.
This is an interracial love story, but it doesn't fetishize it. It's just 2 people falling in love. There is the subplot of the black female lead as foster mother to a white male teen. They have a great relationship.
The main character didn't seem black enough. I know that seems an odd comment, but given the bland writing and the narration she just seemed like a 2-dimensional character from a writer who didn't know any better. It was interesting to find out later that the author actually is a black woman, so she would know how black women actually are.
The story itself is light enough, but the narration could be better. The voice for Izzy is annoyingly high and child-like. The neutral narration voice and Jason's voice are fine, though.
Even though the ebook was published in 2010, the "modern" slang places it a few years before that.
While not a bad story, I wouldn't recommend spending a credit on this book. Use whispersync to get it on a discount or try it during a sale.
Have you ever had that feeling when you meet someone for the first time that you have met each other before? After Amanda saves Chicago Mounted Police officer Mark Callahan, neither one can shake the feeling that they already know each other. Thus begins the character’s journey in Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation.
The story starts with a literal bang, and you’re in the action right away. We get our two leads, the object that ties them together somehow (hint: it’s a clock), and the magnetic pull that draws them together to figure out just why they feel that way. The author playfully takes her time dropping hints and defying expectations while we wait for the topic of reincarnation to be addressed in the story.
Once we finally get to the point that it is a possibility, we journey through Amanda’s present and past lives while we work toward figuring if or how she knew Mark and just what that connection actually is.
As a reader/listener, my interest was so-so in the beginning. I think the narration wasn’t as strong at that point or I simply didn’t like it as much. I found Amanda to sound weak, but at the beginning of the story Amanda is weak (mentally, not physically). Once we got to the Civil War flashbacks, I was all in. I found that timeline and those characters much more interesting than present-day Chicago. The parallel timelines worked for me, and it was great to get both of them resolved by the end of the book.
I am a frequent audiobook listener, and I know how a great narration can elevate a mediocre book. Likewise, a poor narration will make it very difficult for a good book to shine. The narrator for this was very good, and though I’ve not heard any of her work before, I would give future listens of any of her productions a chance.
She had to bring to life characters of different ages and ethnicities, and to that she succeeded. She even did a rather impressive owl in the nighttime sound that could have been straight from nature. My favorite of her voices was that of Mary and Mark when he starts slipping into his Irish brogue.
I would also like to point out here that the narration for the regression scenes was particularly well done. We hear Mary speaking to Amanda and guiding her through the process. It was done in such a calming way that I could almost believe I could put that section of the book on and put myself into a past life. As I was operating heavy machinery at the time (i.e. driving), I didn’t do it and don’t recommend it to any of you, either. In the safe comfort of your own home, have at it.
The only negative of the narration itself that I would specifically want to point out is that the voice for Ed Morgen seems a very odd choice. He sounds like an old Scandinavian from North Dakota or Minnesota, though it isn’t stated in the text or by the character’s name to be the case. The narrator is consistent, but it’s odd all the same.
Chicago as Character:
In many stories, the setting can become a character all its own. In this story, Chicago native Samyann puts in the confident details to make Chicago vital to its role as the setting. This story, in either time line, really couldn’t have happened anywhere else, and it begins at the start when Amanda is looking out through her window and sees the Ferris wheel on the Navy Pier. Amanda’s cat is even named Oprah, a cute, though sometimes distracting detail.
Some of the writing shines in what might seem as throw-away details that would have been forgotten or skipped with other writers. In one scene, Mark has a toothpick and it is explicitly stated that at one moment the toothpick is flat across Mark’s bottom lip. In a different passage later in the book, Mark sits down and is described as putting his ankle on his knee. (Samyann does it better than I did just there.) That is such a typically male piece of body language, and it helped make Mark seem a more complete person.
I found Amanda to be a completely frustrating character. She is so damaged and wears her damage close to the surface at times. I don’t think Amanda was a poorly written character. I actually think the opposite is true. She was so well written that it made my time with her uncomfortable for me since I am not naturally sympathetic to that type of person. Many times I wanted to slap the woman and tell her to stop wallowing in self pity. I am obviously not as kind as Mark, who had the patience of a saint.
Though I didn’t initially like her very much, I did hold out some hope that the author would make Amanda’s narrative arc one where she conquered her personal demons, and by the end she is in a much better place as a character.
Book covers are an art, and in many indie books they can be embarrassingly bad. This cover is not that kind at all. It is truly clever and appropriate to the story, and the font choice is appropriate and effective.
Lots and lots o’ Alcohol:
I am not a drinker, and I find mentions of it in writing laughable and distracting. Many times it seems like an attempt to make a character look cool and sophisticated, but that backfires for me as a reader. In this story, Amanda and Mark are drinking at almost every single occasion they are together, and there are usually multiple drinks. The first time Mark stays over at Amanda’s apartment he does so because he’s too drunk to go home.
I was starting to get put out with the alcohol mentions that had seemed more like unnecessary scene flavoring, but it resulted in a very specific plot point. After one particularly stressful regression, delicate Amanda goes on this 3 day drunken bender in her apartment where she has done nothing but drink and drink. Mark goes to check on her and helps sober her up against her will. After that point, the alcohol mentions almost completely disappear.
Sex and Language:
Yes, sex happens, but never explicitly on the page. The author avoids describing the actual act, and scenes fade out usually right before or fade in right after. This is not a problem as it seems to fit the tone of the story well. The most sensual scene is a shared shower scene, but even that is kept from being too explicit.
As far as language, yes, there is swearing in this story. It’s not a main feature. There’s actually more alcohol than colorful language. I would say it’s appropriate to the characters and doesn’t detract from the story.
Miscellaneous bits and bobs:
This isn’t a comedy, but there are a few big laughs from the book really took me by surprise.
At about two-thirds into the book, Mark is critically injured and has an out of body experience. The writing and narration for that scene is very deft, one of the better scenes of the book.
I thought antique dealer Ed Morgen would play a bigger role in the book.
I also thought Mary might die by the end of the book since she is old and so important to Amanda (hint 2: she doesn’t).
Further, I had hoped perhaps we’d see Mark’s cop partner Pete get himself a girl, but there are only so many side plots a writer can put into a book without losing focus.
As an indie debut novel, this delivers an interesting, quality story that one might not expect to find in the sea of self-publishing. The pieces all tie together in the end to give a satisfactory experience, and I’m sure the author worked very hard to bring it together. When she did, though, the effect of the whole is that it’s exactly the story it should be.
This would appeal to those who love a mystery (what about the clock?), the Civil War, and a love story with a hero who does not give up on his heroine. I don’t think belief in reincarnation is required to enjoy the story, though an open mind and suspension of disbelief wouldn’t hurt.
My real rating: 4.5 stars (but 5 because we really can’t give half stars anywhere)
Disclaimer: I received a free Audible download of this story from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I'm a librarian, and we were talking about this at work when the book originally came out. The head cataloger (who has since retired) was stumped as to how to catalogue this book. She just didn't get that it was meant for adults.
This has the pure frustration that comes from dealing with small children, and who better to narrate than Jackson. Whoever had the idea for that was having a genius moment. I played it for two of my colleagues (but not the cataloger), and we got a rather appreciative laugh out of it.
The thing about humor is that if you have to explain the joke, it just wasn't funny in the first place. This... was funny.
...a bad or mediocre narrator can't do a thing for a bad or mediocre book.
I don’t often fail to finish a book, but this is definitely one of those that I could not finish.
The story itself is one we’ve seen before. It can be done well, but it doesn’t quite get there for me. The FMC consistently asks the MMC “Why?” and then tells him that he doesn’t answer her questions. It’s done so much so that it’s a thing. The FMC also asserts often how she is an adult and not a child, but it’s hard to tell that from the book. Yes, she has a good job, but it doesn’t feel like she’s earned it.
My dissatisfaction came from the narrator. She was just the wrong person for this book. Right away you hear how crisp her Ts are. Enunciation is grand if you’re doing Shakespeare, but if you’re reading dialogue coming out of a 23-year-old’s mouth, it doesn’t fit. So she's got an old lady's voice with a young person's words, and she still can't resolve in the middle to be a convincing 23-year-old.
This narrator was also not good at making the different character voices sound different. That doesn't always have to be there for an interesting audiobook, but when other things are failing this is just another "sin."
After about 3 hours into the audio, I had to stop. I was going to try to finish because I did pay for this title and I try to get my money's worth... but I couldn't do it. There are other books I have ready to go that I am sure will be more worthy of my time.
As an adopted southerner (born in the north, lived most of my life in the south), this book is just full of cliches and no substance. The southern characters here are what someone from outside of the region thinks they might be. It is just so obvious that the writer is not a southerner, and her attempts to add the right flavor to the novel fail more often than not.
Maybe. If I didn't have to pay directly out of pocket for it (i.e. local library)
The narrator was excellent. I have no problem with her at all. She did the best she could with what she had, but I wouldn't claim any of the characters as favorites.
All of them or none of them. It doesn't matter because I won't be listening to the sequels.
I bought this through the recent get started on a series sale, and the sample made it seem fun. I realize we all like fluff stories now and again and that not everything we read has to be "deep." This story was just not that good. The characters were such 2-dimensional cut-outs that it was not to be believed.
I could recommend it to someone who likes a classic romance in terms of writing style or stories about soap operas.
I liked the aspects of the story within the story. We have the main characters who are actors falling in love with each other in their real life, but we also get glimpses into the story on their soap opera. There were nice parallels between the two love stories, and that made it an enjoyable listen.
She's inconsistent with her voices. She obviously took the time to develop different voices for the different characters, but there would be times in the story where all speaking characters sounded exactly the same. That is confusing! My favorite narrators never make those kinds of mistakes in the final product, and it was jarring enough that I may skip other titles from this narrator.
On the whole, yes.
Thanks for the Valentine's member freebie, Audible. Those treats every so often are really fun, and it helps give me exposure to new authors and narrators... just like with this story!
I am not yet at intermediate level of Japanese, but I bought this audiobook anyway. I really like the stories that the teachers use to teach the language. There are some interesting characters and scenarios. Plus there are some fairy tales and culture put into everything in an easy way.
It is also a fun listen because the speakers seem to have good senses of humor. The wit, even with a second language, is evident, and they all seem to enjoy working with each other.
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