The Others series is actually quite good, although there are parts in the first book (One Bite With a Stranger) and even a couple in the next one (Big Bad Wolf) that resulted in cringing and were a bit difficult to get through. I look at it as enduring the growth process of the writer and being rewarded in the end for my troubles. This first book does have some really great stuff, but the sex scenes just miss the mark because they are a little too vulgar and/or a little too long and/or written in a way that makes what should be very hot kind of ... meh. Good news: The author does eventually figure it all out and achieves the right balance. Bad news: This starts happening in Book 2 and continues to improve in her later books.
HOWEVER, as far as the non-sex-related rest of the story goes, it is definitely worth the listen to get some background info and better understand the relationships of the characters as the series builds because you will see these people again in future installments. Also, you do have Kate Reading who is an amazing performer and one of the best narrators out there.
As an aside, I originally read Wolf at the Door because it was mistakenly listed as the first book in the series (though it is Book 8 or 9 actually), and I liked it enough to go back and listen to the earlier ones. Because of the bad reviews on OBWAS, I skipped it and got Big Bad Wolf before finally giving this one a try. Since I am not sure I would have stuck with the series if I had started with this one, my advice is either to start with this first book, knowing that the writing gets much better as the series progresses, or to just get the one that most interests you, as I believe they will all make enough sense to stand alone, and then see if that leads you to want to hear the entire series.
I'm really liking this series set in coastal Maine. Things are definitely slower in a small town, less kidnappings and car bombs than the Colorado crew had to deal with, but that doesn't mean there's no drama. I loved the glimpses of Josie and company from the last book and was thrilled to see Mickey Donovan meet his match. Both he and Amelia, the heiress who moves in across the street, have done a lot of things right in their lives and, sadly, have been burned. They also have made mistakes, and each has a divorce and baggage to prove it. Amelia takes one look at Mickey and decides she wants to make those gorgeous blue eyes change with the spectrum of emotions she can bring out in him. Mickey takes one look at Amelia and is more than a little interested but intends to place her in the "friend/neighbor zone" because he believes he could never provide a super-wealthy woman like her with anything she would need and doesn't want to have an ex living across the street from him and his kids.
Drama ensues through misunderstanding, denial and plain stubbornness. In the midst of their difficult relationship, they manage to get to know each other a bit more through each misstep they make. Both have children who have various issues, Amelia's ex is a complete waste of human flesh, as are her parents, Mickey's ex has major problems that affect her children, Amelia has to atone for some bad behavior that has affected her children in order to win them back and rebuild her family while also carving out a life for herself, and, of course, Boston Stone has to make an appearance long enough to let everyone know he still deserves the gold medal as douchebag of the decade. What makes Soaring such a great escape is the range of emotion KA captures and conveys to the listener. I cringed, cheered, laughed, smiled and cried. Even at 24+ hours, I was totally engaged and was never tempted to let my mind wander.
NARRATOR: Soaring was performed well by Hollis McCarthy. Her style is a little laid-back and maybe even slow (try 1.25 speed), but so is Magdalene. I think she brings the right tone to the series, and I'm happy to see that Audible Studios is using one narrator for the series AND not a narrator from a previous series. I think it's a great decision that makes each series distinct and different. I don't think there are many narrators better than Emma Taylor, and after hearing her stellar performance, others may seem a bit lacking, but I love that she is the voice of the Colorado Mountain Series, Susannah Jones is the voice of the Rock Chick Series, Kate Russell is the voice of the Dream Man and Chaos Series, and now, Hollis McCarthy is the voice of the Magdalene Series. I don't want Mickey to sound like Max, Lee, Hawk or Tack, but I do want characters from The Will and Soaring to have the same voice in future Magdalene releases, so I sincerely hope she will be back for those.
Absolutely worth a credit or even cash with no sale price. With the trilogy trend of taking 3, 8-hour (if you're lucky) books to tell one story, it is SO refreshing to get an entire story in ONE book that costs ONE credit. On top of that, it's Kristen Ashley, so you know it's going to be great! Every time one of her books is released on Audible, I feel like Christmas has come early.
I think this is a love it or hate it book. The Will, like all of Kristen Ashley's books, has many great characters who have well-developed personalities, some of them quirky. I have read criticism of the heroine's "weird" speech in this book, but I actually liked it. I felt that it was an important part of her and served as a reminder of who she was and why she was that way. Josie deals with her history of being abandoned and abused by disguising herself and hiding her real thoughts and feelings behind a mask which shows the world a woman who is classy, educated, refined, capable and reliable but also cold and uptight. She has crafted this facade to protect herself, thinks carefully before she speaks and lives in her head a lot. I think that's why she formulates her sentences in a way that makes her speech much more formal than that of the average American who's more open and laid back. She overuses words like "thus," "alas," "therefore" and "however," especially when she's having an internal conversation. It might seem to some that it is not realistic for her to speak thus, and, alas, they have dismissed her character as absurd, not really grasping that this is part of her mask, she has been living in a very narrow world and is now in a totally different environment. For 23 years, her life has been about being the almost 24/7 assistant to the man she has wanted for her own but knows is out of her reach (so she shut down those emotions), being surrounded by artists, photographers and entertainment types in a high-fashion job (perfect place to fit in with odd speech where normal is the worst insult ever) and having only ONE close relationship- with her grandmother who is in her 90's (and probably wouldn't think it odd for her to not swear and to use "old-fashioned" speech).
Not having an issue with her speech, I found Josie and Jake's story interesting and beautiful, if not particularly "exciting." It dug into a lot of real life problems, like dealing with the death of a loved one, divorce baggage, abandonment baggage, teenaged high school drama, stressed out parent issues and assimilating into a small town community, so it wasn't as "action-packed" as a lot of KA's other books. I think that may be why the reviews are what they are. As for the narrator, I think she may take a hit in the reviews because of those who hate Josie's speech, but I thought she was excellent. I have listened to her perform other books, and I thought she did great then as well. In fact, other than the mistake of "Own the Wind" (Chaos 1) not being done by the same narrator as the Dream Man Series which had a lot of crossover characters (fixed by Chaos 2), I think all the KA series currently on Audible have not only been narrated well but have somehow paired the perfect narrators with each series, and I think Hollis McCarthy will do well for the rest of the Magdalene Series. According to the author's website, Mickey's up next, and I look forward to his story.
Bottom line, if you like a well-written, well-narrated, character-driven, sweet romance set in a coastal Maine, small town, with a real-life feel, this is definitely worth a credit. If you are looking for your romance to be a little less realistic and to have more action, like axe-wielding maniacs, stalkers, crime lords, rapists, con men and the like being taken down by alpha, macho man badasses, go with the Rock Chick, Dream Man, Chaos and Colorado Mountain series. I like them all!!
After a conservative talk show host slams one of her columns on his show which causes advertisers to pull their spots, a liberal, NY editor decides to go undercover as his housekeeper/au pair in an attempt to dig up dirt on him as revenge. Unfortunately, he's not the evil, misogynistic, Bible-thumping, puppy-boiling bastard she assumed him to be. As she realizes this and sees that he is a good man who loves his daughter, says what he means and means what he says, she falls in love with him and his 15-yo daughter. Both the H and h have some issues from their past, and these crop up and are dealt with. When MJ does manage to dig up "dirt," she has to reevaluate her career choices and what is really important to her. I loved the epilogue and the real story behind "the shoes." This was well-written, and the narrator did a great job. I SO hope that the rest of this series will be produced and released on Audible.
**I REALLY liked that the author didn't use her writing to climb on a soap box as, unfortunately, so many do. Despite the media and political puppet masters' best attempts at dividing the US and stirring the pot of intolerance, a story like this helps to remind us that stereotypes are ridiculous and that people are more likely to see in each other the ties that bind us together more than the differences that tear us apart when we take the time to actually try and understand each other and not just spew acidic comments in an attempt to tear each other down and "win" an argument.
I know, right? As of this date, I'm looking at the Audible description of "Secret Santa: A Bluegrass Novella," and is listed as book 2.5 of that series when it is actually "A Bluegrass Brothers Novella" which would put it at about book 5.5 if you started with BG and moved on to BGB. Hellooooo, editors, publishers, anyone? How about considering it all one series instead of 2 since they are all in the same place with common characters who interact with each other? Loss of an overall star for making such a bad decision. OK, so that's why the confusion for the readers and for Audible's data entry peeps who I can't blame because it truly makes no sense. Characters from books 1, 2 and 3 of the Bluegrass Series are in here plus what would seem like spoilers for the next couple of books focused on Paige's brothers, which I am assuming to be the Bluegrass Brothers Series. (sigh) smh
Aside from someone (who should be fired, or possibly maimed) making the horrible mistake of taking A series of books about a KY town and its inhabitants and breaking it into 2 for no logical reason whatsoever, this is a very cute Christmas tie-in to the series...series-es? Having not experienced any of the BGB series yet, there was a bit of, "Who the heck ARE these people?" I think I will enjoy it more once I have "caught up." Even with the confusion, I found it to be a short, sweet and cute Christmas story and a bit of an epilogue/catch-up session. Not sure how many BGB books there are, so it may be an epilogue for the whole series (I'm going with one series here, people-OK?).
Eric G. Dove is a fantastic narrator and the reason I gave this series a try in the first place. His female voices are his only minor weakness, in that they are just OK, but hey, he's a guy....a guy with a very sexy guy voice, so forgiveness granted.
This is a difficult review to write because I really liked the book, the story and the characters. Unfortunately, I did not really enjoy the "listen." I think I would have enjoyed it better reading it myself, but since I have no time to do that, I am at the mercy of whoever gets picked to read. I'm going to focus on the narration since the story has been reviewed by others with which sentiments I can only agree wholeheartedly.
Valerie Gilbert was not terrible. I liked her accents, and I think she ALMOST did a great job, but it seems that she is allergic to the "hard G sound" in commonly used words. Unfortunately for me, I learned through this listen that I apparently have a hard time with that. (Who knew?) Based on her glowing reviews, I realize that it may just be me and a handful of others who this affects, but so you know, here it is: Words like "longer," "stronger" and "younger" have a "hard G," whereas "singer" does not. (Lon--ger, stron--ger and youn--ger versus sing--er). VG pronounced them all like long--er, strong--er and young--er.
It may seem knit-picky, but because the words were prevalent in the writing, rather than paying attention to the story, I was constantly finding myself wondering where the narrator grew up and why I have never encountered another person who pronounced those words in such a way. The next thing I knew, I was backing up the recording to catch what I had missed. It happened a lot, and it distracted me from being able to really get into the story like I wanted to.
Even so, again, I really did like the story. It moved a bit slowly, but as a first in a series, I expect that to some extent. I did speed up the audio to 1.25 and then to 1.5 to try and minimize what I found distracting, and to some extent, that did help. If I could read them, I would still think that was a better option for me. However, because of my interest in the story, even if this narrator is signed for the next books, I might get them...eventually, but with a better narrator, I'd already have them in my cart.
Look chickie, if people around you are getting beaten up and worse, and the cops offer to keep an eye on you for your safety, and a fabulously wealthy and gorgeous man who OWNS A SECURITY COMPANY wants to protect you, and your response is to tell the cops, "NO, no gizmos or gadgets. No unmarked cars," YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!! Then, agree to "allow" the cops to watch over you IF they will keep that gorgeous hunk of man cake away from you (for his own good, so he doesn't get hurt, ya know). This is the point where I begin to agree with the bad guys who think the world would be a better place without you in it and to pity the great guy who will no doubt end up wanting to kill you in the future after you have ruined his life. I am so tired of the dumb chick stereotype.
Dear authors: Was there a memo that went out indicating that men equate stupid with sexy or that women relate to very stupid female characters? If so, I'm thinking that memo was sent on April 1st. Please disregard it.
Since I'm on a roll, the narrator is not great. Her voice is OK, but she reads like she's explaining something very simple to a small child. She also, unfortunately, mispronounces common words. My "favorite" was, "I'm not an in-VAL-id," (As in invalid driver's license, as opposed to IN-vuh-lid, a person who is not able to care for himself.) Sigh I'm not sure why these things get recorded. Is there no one monitoring the recording? Hellooooooo, "We need you to go back and start that paragraph again. This time, pronounce the word as IN-vuh-lid." C'mon! If a guitarist is recording a solo and hits a clinker, someone tells him to do it again. 1+1=2.
Oh, one more thing, there are a couple of paragraphs in which the author uses "his buttock cheek" to describe hot guy's ass during sex. Once would be funny. After the third or fourth use, I almost cried laughing, so there is some entertainment value there.
I agree with other reviewers that there were good parts, and it had potential but just fell flat. With a little rewrite/editing to add a few brain cells to the heroine and a more experienced narrator and/or some help in the studio, it actually could've been good.
It is a testament to the author's skill and her ability to create a story interesting enough for me to power through the AWFUL narration. I had forgotten the name of the narrator for Ilona Andrews' Clean Sweep who ruined that book (and that author since she apparently narrates many of her books) for me. Renee Raudman...NEVER again. Weirdly, my problems with her are different in the two books. (In Clean Sweep, she made a 20-something girl sound like an 89-yo southern belle in an old folks home- which was a major turn off for me.) In this book, it sounded like she was narrating with a retainer in her mouth. The resulting "schw" sound for all the "s" sounds was like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Daffy Duck, "Schweethearth, yer deschpicable." Sadly, you can't tell that from the audio sample since it is only seconds long and mostly consists of intro music. I'm guessing that's intentional.
As for the story, the characters were well-developed and interesting. There was great comedic humor mixed with pretty serious drama in a fairly realistic setting. It is romance, hence, "fairly realistic." I really liked the story, obviously, or I would never have gotten through the first chapter. I found myself liking these people and their town and wanting to know what will happen to them in the future and how they will grow and change. This is my first book by Marina Adair, and IF there is a different narrator for her other books, it will definitely not be my last. Unfortunately, I just DO NOT have the time to sit down and read, so if RR is contracted for more books, I will have to pass. This was a Kindle Unlimited Read and Listen for Free title. As such, I am satisfied with being introduced to a new-to-me author. However, had I spent a credit or cash, I'd have to ask for it back due to the heinous narration.
I liked a lot about this story. I wish it had been a bit more detailed, particularly at the end. Another 5-10 minutes wrapping it up would have earned it another star. I liked the characters and the premise enough to wish this wasn't such a short story. The narrator was OK, not fantastic-not horrific, not good-not bad, just OK. After a couple of recent "horrifics," I'll take OK. It is exactly as advertised, a short Christmas story. With Kindle Unlimited, this was a read and listen for free title.
Even though I did like it, I don't think I would have spent more than $3 for it, and I definitely would not waste a credit on it. However, it gave me the opportunity to check out a new-to-me author, and I think I'll have to see what else she has available.
First off, the female narrator sounds like a chipmunk. It quickly becomes VERY grating and distracting after being initially laughable. I have teenaged daughters, and if they or their friends sounded like this, I would sit them down and explain to them how having a ridiculous voice will do them no favors in life. The male narrator is OK, definitely nice to get a break from Miss Squeak since she only needs to be endured every other chapter,
The story itself was lighthearted and cute, but it would have been better if the female lead had been 20ish instead of 17. It is pretty unrealistic that a 17-yo high school student on a family cruise for her grandfather's birthday would be shacking up with a rock star on board the ship without grandpa knowing about it, even if she does have evil-stepsister-like cousins running interference. Plus, WHY would they do that when they hate her? I don't think having the room to themselves is a strong enough motivator. In any case, it is a very unrealistic, "No way that would ever happen" story that had a few cute moments. It's a "throw away" story. I cannot imagine ever wanting to hear it again, so I'm glad I paid almost nothing for it with Kindle Unlimited. Had I paid even $1.99, I'm sorry, but I'd have returned it for a refund.
I would be totally willing to give the author another chance, but unfortunately, I noticed that Cassandra Morris is the narrator for several of her other books, so again, sorry. I just can't put my ears through it again. It took all my will power to get through the CM chapters.
The world in which this story is set consists of Eden, a walled, government-run, community of "haves" who live in a very controlled and stepford-like community of rules that are very stifling and oppressive, particularly regarding behavior, and a more chaotic world outside the walls where various zones are controlled by gangs, and there is more of an, "If it feels good, do it" mentality. Violence, sex and feelings in general are discouraged in Eden, so when our heroine gets caught drinking and having sex, she is banished to the other side of the wall. She promptly gets roofied and stumbles into our hero who takes her to one of the women in his gang to keep her form ending up raped or worse.
It started out a little rough, in that I think there should have been a little more build up to how Noelle was feeling about her life in Eden before she was thrust into the depths of life in the O'Kane gang, but it smoothed out, and I found myself really liking the characters a lot more as the story went on and more was learned about them. She and Jasper had an instant connection because he saved her, and they built on that and had a few trials to overcome, but they were realistic, and I didn't find myself wanting to slap either of them too much.
The narrator was excellent. Her female voices and male voices were very good and varied enough to distinguish Lex from Noelle and Dallas from Jas. She performed the book rather than just narrated it, and I always appreciate that when it's done well. Overall, this was credit-worthy, although with Whispersync and Kindle, it's a bargain for cash.
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