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Christine

Member Since 2008

22
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 527 titles in library
  • 33 purchased in 2014
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  • How to Dance With a Duke: Ugly Duckling Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Manda Collins
    • Narrated By Anne Flosnik
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (335)
    Performance
    (295)
    Story
    (293)

    Miss Cecily Hurston would much rather explore the antiquities of Egypt than the uncharted territory of marriage. But the rules of her father's exclusive academic society forbid her entrance unless she weds one of its members. To clear her ailing father's name of a scandalous rumor, Cecily needs to gain admission into the Egyptian Club-and is willing to marry any old dullard to do it. Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, is anything but dull.

    Desarae says: "You Never Know When You Will Find Love or a Murder"
    "Doesn't live up to its potential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a poorly plotted mess of a book! I'm sorry I wasted my money on it. The worst of it is, the book had real potential. The author writes well, has some interesting turns of a phrase and makes some nice incidental observations. The broad outlines of the plot are promising--the bluestocking Egyptologist and the former Army officer turned unexpected Duke meet when both are investigating the aftermath of an expedition to Egypt in which his brother went missing and her father had an apoplexy, leaving him unable to speak. From there, unfortunately, the plot went completely off the rails and left the characters behaving like complete ninnies. By the end, I thought they were among the stupidest, shallowest people I'd ever spent time with. It didn't have to turn out that way by any means. I think the author could develop into a decent one if she had a really good editor who could point out the idiocies and inconsistencies in her plotting and characters' motivations. Alas, I suspect that won't happen. Don't waste your time with this.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses: Half Moon Hollow, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Molly Harper
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2179)
    Performance
    (2016)
    Story
    (2009)

    Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it. Complication One: The artifacts are lost somewhere in vampire Jane Jameson’s occult bookshop. Complication Two: Her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, keeps turning up half-naked at the strangest times....

    Diana Turmenne says: "One of the best spin offs I have read!"
    "Painful to listen to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    2 stars, largely based on the painfully bad narration of the first half

    I normally LOVE the Molly Harper-Amanda Ronconi team. This time the narration was painfully bad--so bad that it distracted me from following the story and came close to ruining the book for me. What the hell was she thinking to go with such a broad "pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd" Boston accent for an Irish woman? I understand that for part of the time she was presenting herself as having come from Boston, but in that case only her dialog should have featured that accent, not her first person narration.

    The only way I managed to get through the book at all was because she pretty much drops that accent for the second half of the book. This allowed me to focus on the plot, which seemed particularly slapdash and full of holes. Admittedly, I don't read Molly Harper for her tightly plotted prose, but this was especially weak. There also seemed to be less wit than usual, but that may have been obscured by the horrible narration.

    I'm certainly not giving up on Molly Harper audiobooks, but I will no longer view them as a guaranteed good time. Better to relisten to one of her Jane Jameson titles (which Amanda Ronconi narrates brilliantly) than to bother with this on audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Flowers from the Storm

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Laura Kinsale
    • Narrated By Nicholas Boulton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (535)
    Performance
    (504)
    Story
    (505)

    He's a duke. He's a mathematical genius. He can't talk and he's locked in a lunatic asylum. Only a modest Quaker girl can reach him, but when she helps him to escape, she's swept into his glittering aristocratic world, her life torn apart by his desperate attempt to save himself.

    ~~ DARA ~~ says: "~COMPELLING!!~ Love This Author! Love This Book!"
    "Even better as an audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even better as an audiobook. Nicholas Boulton is a fabulous narrator, perfectly capturing the desperate frustration Jervaulx suffers, as well as his innate ducal arrogance. It's a fine line to tread and he does it beautifully.

    My only complaint with the book is that Maddie becomes fairly unsympathetic for a time, largely because we don't get much from her perspective during a longish stretch near the end. However, In the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly minor quibble. This is definitely not your average romance novel but well earns its place as one of the best.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Prince of Midnight

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Laura Kinsale
    • Narrated By Nicholas Boulton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (421)
    Performance
    (390)
    Story
    (389)

    He was once a legendary highwayman. Now he's a recluse in a ruined French castle, with only a half-wild wolf for a companion. When Lady Leigh Strachan comes looking for a man to aid in her revenge, she's disillusioned to find that the famed Prince of Midnight couldn't help even if he cared to - which he doesn't. S. T. Maitland wants nothing to do with his legend, or with this fierce, beautiful, broken woman... until the old thrill of living on the cutting edge of danger begins to rise in his blood again.

    Robbie says: "Imagine My Joy!"
    "You couldn't ask for a better narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Really a 3 star book but with 5 star narration.

    In general, I love Laura Kinsale. In addition to her beautiful writing, with her you always get something just a little different, which is definitely the case here. In this case, we have hero and heroine who are both very damaged and very flawed, though in totally non-cliched ways. Unfortunately, the plot is also pretty flawed in places and the heroine is not only flawed but also pretty unlikeable through most if the book. This is a long book, with many subplots, some of which work better than others.

    However, if you listen to this as an audiobook, none of that will matter because Nicholas Boulton's voice is so beautiful you wouldn't care what he was reading. It is really hard to narrate romance well, but he does it perfectly. His French is irresistible and his drunken S.T. was hilarious. He doesn't give women an annoying falsetto. He doesn't overdramatize. I will go off into cliches if I try to describe his deep, rich voice. Suffice to say, his narration is perfect.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Three Nights of Sin

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Anne Mallory
    • Narrated By Angèle Masters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (160)
    Story
    (162)

    When her brother was arrested for murder, the ton shut its doors to Marietta Winters. No one would help her save him from the gallows - no one but Gabriel Noble. In exchange for taking the case, Gabriel requests three favors from the desperate young beauty, and Marietta has no other choice but to make a deal with the sinfully handsome devil. Searching for clues in the rough underbelly of London, Marietta must masquerade as a shamelessly wanton wench - much to Gabriel's delight. But Marietta swears to herself that her passionate moans are just for show.

    Jan says: "No Titles Required"
    "Less sexy, more interesting than it appears"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    3.5 stars

    Definitely not your average historical romance. This book deals with a far grittier reality than that of ton balls and vouchers to Almacks. The protagonists are barely part of society (him) or clinging to the fringe of society (her). The book opens with Marietta going to Gabriel in desperation to ask his help in proving her 18-year-old brother innocent of a series of Jack the Ripper-like murders. Their relationship develops as she collaborates with him to search for evidence that could free her brother.

    There are many things to like about this book, and the novelty of the characters and plot is a major one. Unfortunately, I was never able to warm up to Marietta enough for the romance aspect to completely work for me. Part of that may have been the audiobook narration. It was actually pretty good but it's possible that the portrayal of M wasn't as sympathetic as it could have been and that influenced my perception of her. I would also be interested to see what their life would look like a few years down the road, because their HEA seems a little fragile. It's great that they recognize that they love each other, but how are they going to make a life together?

    The climax of the book was heartbreaking and will stick with me for a long time. I don't want to say much else about it in order to avoid spoilers.

    Finally, the cover and title seem to promise one kind of book, while what we get is far different and, in my opinion, better. I can see someone being disappointed if they were expecting a very hot historical and got this complex, psychologically gripping murder mystery instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Driving Mr. Dead

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Molly Harper
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3675)
    Performance
    (3343)
    Story
    (3337)

    Miranda Puckett has failed at every job she’s ever had. Her mother just wants her to come home, join the family law firm, and settle down with Jason, the perfect lawyer boyfriend. But when Jason turns out to be a lying cheater, Miranda seizes on a job that gets her out of town: long-distance vampire transportation. Her first assignment is to drive vampire Collin Sutherland from Washington to sleepy Half Moon Hollow without incident—no small feat for a woman whom trouble seems to follow like a faithful hound dog!

    Ducky says: "Molly Harper can't write fast enough for me!!!!"
    "Another fun Molly Harper"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    3.5 stars

    Another fun Molly Harper. Similar to Susan Elizabeth Phillips, she puts her characters through hell, often leaving them desperate and broke in some unlikely location, only to let them claw themselves back for their HEA. I'm not always a big fan of gratuitous protagonist suffering, but like SEP, Harper seems to make it work.

    I have two quibbles with the book, one with the narration and one with the story: First of all, Colin's voice was not very masculine. It made him sound like a wimp, even though he wasn't. Pretty unsexy. This was a shame because the rest of her narration was perfect.

    Mild spoiler ahead:
    My second quibble is the heroine's actions toward her former fiance. Yes, he was a total scumbag and he probably deserved a great deal of psychic pain, but breaking someone's nose is just not funny. A good way to test this is to ask, would it have been funny if the characters' sexes were reversed? No one would ever try to play a man breaking a woman's nose for laughs, under any circumstances, and I thought it was offensive here too. Ineffectual attempts at violence by a woman toward a much stronger man can sometimes be mildly funny, but a broken nose isn't ineffectual violence. This made me dock the book by a whole star.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Proof by Seduction

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Courtney Milan
    • Narrated By Priscilla Carson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (137)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (67)

    A gifted fortune-teller from a humble background, Jenny can make even the most sophisticated skeptic believe her predictions simply by batting her smoky eyelashes. Until she meets her match in Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a sworn bachelor and scientist. Broodingly handsome, Gareth is scandalized to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda", and vows to prove Jenny a fraud.

    Book Worm says: "Well Written And Passionate"
    "The good and the bad of Courtney Milan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I re-read (re-listened to) this book recently and found that it had all the things I love as well as all the things I kind of hate about Courtney Milan books. First, the hate: it dragged. The ratio of action--which I would define as anything at all happening, if only a conversation--to interior monologue and exposition of the characters' thoughts and motivations was just too low. The story ground to a halt all too often. And this from me, a person who loves Mary Balogh's books, a writer who spends a lot of her time describing the same events from everyone's perspective and then rehashing reactions and motivations, so I actually have a very high tolerance for slow paced, cerebral romances.

    I have also come to the conclusion that the novella is Courtney Milan's best format. She writes such beautifully crafted shorter works that it always feels to me that her novels are bloated by comparison. That is definitely the case in this, her first novel.

    My other major problem was how isolated Jenny was. For all we're told of what a warm person she is, we don't see any evidence that she had any friends in London. The Madam Esmeralda persona might have made it difficult to allow anyone too close, but it's hard to believe there was no one besides Ned she'd really consider a friend, particularly since she schools Gareth in the art of friendship.

    As for the good, well, she writes beautifully and does an almost too-good job of conveying lower class poverty and desperation. She also does a particularly nice job of depicting a socially awkward hero, not someone whom we diagnose in hindsight with our 21st century knowledge (as opposed to Ned, who is clearly bipolar), but someone who is simply ill at ease with small talk and never has known how to relate to people. I also loved how she shows that as a fortune teller, far from being a fraud, Jenny actually provides a valuable service to her customers in acting almost as a therapist, decades before such an idea would even emerge. I'm glad I revisited this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (948)
    Performance
    (851)
    Story
    (865)

    Captain Ivan Vorpatril is happy with his relatively uneventful bachelor's life as a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. Cousin to imperial troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan, Ivan is not far down the hereditary list for the emperorship. Thankfully, new heirs have directed that headache elsewhere, leaving Ivan to enjoy his life on Komarr, far from the Byzantine court politics of his home system. But when an old friend in Barrayaran intelligence asks Ivan to protect an attractive young woman who may be on the hit list of a criminal syndicate, his chivalrous nature takes over. It seems danger and adventure have once more found Captain Vorpatril.

    Barbara M. Sullivan says: "We are finally allowed to see Ivan without Miles."
    "Ivan-you-idiot takes center stage"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    4.5 stars
    I loved seeing Ivan-you-idiot get his day in the sun. Bujold is a master storyteller and it's always a pleasure to put yourself in her hands to take you where she will, which she does here in typically witty and engaging fashion. Ivan and Tej were both terrific as the somewhat disappointing scions of extraordinary families. Neither are as dismissable as their families view them so it's lovely for them to find in each other someone who truly admires them for who they are.

    This is a long series, and this book is chronologically near the end of it, which leads to the question of whether you need to have read the others first. I would say no, with some caveats. The only ones I have read are Shards of Honor, Barryar, Young Miles, Komarr and A Civil Campaign and I got along just fine. I probably missed a lot of the nuances about the Cetagandans and Jackson's Whole, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of this story. Likewise, if you hadn't read Shards of Honor/Barryar you would miss some of the depth of Barryan history and culture and of the backstory of Ivan's birth, but she does a really good job of giving you all you need in the present book without boring longtime readers with repetitive description. If this is your first entry point to the series, I think it will inspire you to read more, which is just what I plan to do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Lauren Willig
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    Overall
    (298)
    Performance
    (175)
    Story
    (176)

    Arabella Dempsey's dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls' school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies....

    A. L. Bray says: "A smashing good time!"
    "Fun holiday romance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is just a lot of fun. Turnip is an unlikely hero--he didn't get his nickname for being the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he has execrable taste in waistcoats--but he's truly kind, caring and considerate, unlike so many other young bucks of the ton. It doesn't hurt that he's also something of a hunk, carnation waistcoats notwithstanding. The mystery is somewhat beside the point. I really love the narration of this whole series on audiobook. This is definitely a seasonal re-listen for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Borders of Infinity: Miles Vorkosigan Series

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (867)
    Performance
    (510)
    Story
    (516)

    The popular adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, a clever and outlandish science fiction hero for the modern era, continue in these three tales. In The Mountains of Mourning, Miles is dispatched to a back-country region of Barrayar, where he must act as detective, judge, and executioner in a controversial murder case. In Labyrinth, Miles adopts his alternate persona as Dendarii Mercenary Admiral Naismith for an undercover mission to rescue an important research geneticist from Jackson’s Whole.

    DERALD says: "Even better than expected"
    "Worthwhile for the insights into Miles's character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The three novellas comprising this book are all thought-provoking and disturbing in different ways. All three give wonderful insights into the demons that drive Miles, in a way that maybe isn't as obvious in the novels.

    In "The Mountains of Mourning" we are taken into the Barryaran backwoods to see up close the culture of mutie-phobia that Miles grew up in and that formed the basis of his very difficult relationship with his grandfather.

    In "Labyrinth", we are exposed to a very personal encounter with the products of Jackson's Whole's amoral genetic engineering labs and learn the background of Taura.

    "Borders of Infinity" may be the most powerful of the stories, but is also the one I am least likely to re-read,precisely because it is so searing. In it, Miles wakes to find himself in Hell, no wait, a domed Cetagandan prison camp that might as well be. The story of how he gets out of there is so stained with bitter regret that I expect the experience will forever haunt him, as well as the reader.

    I know the framing story was just tossed in as an excuse to publish these three novellas together, but it was fine and not at all intrusive. The insights into Miles's character that are gained by reading all three novellas at once completely justify the repackaging of them in this format.

    Final note--I am beginning to really appreciate Grover Gardner as a narrator for this series. He doesn't go to great lengths to "do" the different characters as some narrators do, yet it is always clear who is speaking and he does enough with accents to subtly create different characters. It's a somewhat different style of narration than I'm used to, but it has grown on me, primarily because most of these books are largely from Miles's perspective and Gardner does a great Miles, perfectly capturing his rather sardonic wit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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