As always, Davina Porter does an excellent job giving life to the characters in and the character of Lochdub. This isn't Beaton's best MacBeth, but it's nevertheless both intriguing and entertaining. If you are already a Haimish fan, you'll enjoy this. If you're not, you might want to start with an earlier book in the series so you can get acquainted with Beaton's wonderful characters in a more chronological fashion. It's a good story and, with Porter's excellent narrating skills, it's great fun to listen to.
Maybe it's just me, but this one just didn't grab me on any level. I was mostly just bored, bored, bored. Poorly plotted, poorly written, poorly read. Perhaps if the author had grabbed me more effectively at the beginning I might have gotten into it and stuck it out. After all, you'd think a story about a minotaur in a burger joint would be "compelling."
Unfortunately, in the case of this one, the burger joint" aspect won out and, well, is there anything more predictable, flavorless and boring than a fast-food restaurant? This is a "fast-food book." I'm giving this one back to Audible.
I'm glad I listened to this book, rather than read it. Father Boyle does a wonderful job of telling his story, getting the accents and ages and dialects so "just right." He's a powerful artist on many levels and his voice is just one of his skills.
The memoir is really a collection of anecdotes about the people he's encountered during his 20 years developing and running "Homeboy Industries" in a neighborhood in Los Angeles known as the "gang capital."
His stories are a walk into a world many of us could not imagine is real but is, in fact, deadly so, endearingly so, dangerously so. But they also provide hope and humor while they break your heart. It's a wonderful gift Boyle has to be able to make the people he's encountered come very much alive and make us care about them. And if you don't laugh out loud and also find yourself tearing up at least once while you listen to this, you're made of stone.
Recommend without hesitation.
It's Molly Harper, so you know it's going to be funny. And quirky. And adult. And fun.
It's Half Moon Hollow so you know the setting will be full of crazy characters in her fictional "post vampire liberation" world of witches and werewolves and vampires trying to make their way in the "human" world.
And it's Amanda Ronconi so you know you are going to be treated to a wonderful performance of Molly Harper's interesting if somewhat unbelievable plot involving a witch hunt of most unusual parameters. If you're a Harper and Half Moon Hollow fan, you'll recognize and welcome back a number of your favorite denizens of this funky Kentucky town.
These are adult "fairy tales" and meant to be read for the sheer fun of it. Let your imagination loose and have fun!
Not since "Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls has a memoir moved me so deeply (and if, after reading Coming Clean, you find yourself thinking "what a great book!" you might want to read or listen to "The Glass Castle: A Memoir")
I digress. Ms. Miller offers the memoir of her childhood entrapment in and young adulthood escape from the misery of her very sick parents with simple, very clean prose (fitting, it would seem.) From the first words, it was clear that this was an unusually bright child with a very big problem - two, in fact. Her parents' mental and physical challenges create a world for this little girl that is difficult to imagine ... until she tells us about it. Then it comes to life.
Her gift for presenting her little girl's world with the brutal frankness of a child, without flinching from the facts or sparing our feelings makes the unfolding of the story mesmerizing. But it is in some ways also joyful to read because, as adults, we understand how broken her life was and yet how much she was given by parents who, while damaged and damaging, were also as loving and generous and giving as they knew how to be.
The book is also a testament to the tenacity of some people and their ability to overcome. She could do what her father and mother could not and thus saved not only herself but, to a great extent, her parents as well.
I found Ms. Miller's reading of the book to be less than satisfactory as her very soft voice and the "flat" presentation were distracting. I also found her range of voices was very limited so It was sometimes difficult to follow who was speaking when it was not her character, her father or her mother. A professional narrator might have given the characters more depth, which I think would have been a good thing.
Nevertheless, it's a deeply moving, extremely compelling, what-in-the-world-will-happen-next story.
Highly recommend for either reading or listening.
I am about half-way through and simply stunned that Nora Roberts and her publishers would permit this narrator anywhere near her books. She should fire whoever hired Ms. Quigley. I'm sure she's a very nice person and I think she's a B-list actress of some note (maybe?), but she needs to rethink her career if narrating is an ambition (and I note she hasn't done a book that's on Audible since 2008, so perhaps she has.) The women all sound arch and breathy. The only way she is able to "do" a man is to make her feminine voice gravelly. After a bit, everyone end up sounding much the same. She also seems to struggle with modulation - I have had my ears blasted a few times by sudden elevation in her volume. I concede this may be a production issue.
The story is OK. It's not Roberts' best, but an intriguing tale, mostly fast-paced, with well developed characters. There is a bit of stereotyping (or perhaps it's archetypes?) This always seems "lazy" to me on the part of the author, but I will concede that the narrator may have affected this a bit for me.
Tim Conway should not read his own work - that might have helped. Unfortunately, probably not much. He's a comedian and as a comedian, he is quite funny. But his life - at least up to the point where I stopped listening - hardly qualifies as hilarious. It's not een particularly interesting. Thanks for the effort, Tim. But don't give up your day job to become an author.
I love Molly Harper's novels... usually. This one - not so much. The characters, especially the women, had Harper's usual wit but were largely not well rounded out. The story - and at just over 5 hours, I'd call it a novella, rather than a novel - was as thin as gruel and a so full of simply unbelievable bits as to be distracting. She does a nice job introducing us to Kentucky but I was otherwise seriously underwhelmed and disappointed.
I note she's written a second sort novella as a sequel. I won't be spending cash or a credit on it unless, perhaps, if it turns up on a daily deal. And if her novels get any shorter, she's going to have to be reassigned to the short story category.
Amanda Roncini gets full marks for once again nailing a Harper book.
This is the first part of a novel that should have been one book and I feel cheated. It doesn't stand alone except in the most "generous" sense because the characters are all fairly flat and while one storyline for one character is resolved, the rest are left lying there like fish on the counter.
I eventually bought and finished the 2nd and 3rd installments and by the time I finished the last one I was genuinely annoyed. This is one book puffed and plumped and pumped up with unnecessary "stuff" until it can be called three books. By the third book, I had had all I could stand of long bits about flowers and the increasingly unbelievable ability and behavior of the "Harper Bride".
Roberts has written some really very nice novels but I don't recommend this one novel pretending to be three (the sequels are The Black Rose and The Red Lily. Ditto this review for those. By the end of the third book you'll be laughing with scorn at the increasing nonsense.)
It starts out a little confusing as we are thrown into Maisie's "current" private investigations in such a manner as to suggest we ought to know more than we do. But I hung in there, mostly because I think the "period" Winspear has written was deftly evoked with wonderful details about daily life at the time (a weakness for me.) It's London, about a decade post WWI. I enjoyed being immersed in the period and the atmosphere, so I was willing to just go along to see what would happen.
In a reasonable time, Winspear takes us back to Maisie's youth and lets us be there as Maisie grows to adulthood and becomes who she is as the novel opens.This part of the story takes us through 6 years of Maisie's life from 13 to 19 (or maybe 20 - I got a little confused.) With a great deal of strength and love, the help of some very interesting people and just a dash of magic, Maisie transforms herself into a brilliant, independent and strong young woman. You will follow her to France as a Red Cross nurse to a frontline casualty station where her life changes forever. It's a wonderful story full of down-to-earth suffering, struggle and loss, but also love and devotion, humor and triumph.
The mystery she is given to solve at the beginning begins to make sense as her personal story unfolds and at the end, you won't want to leave her behind. I don't want to give away any spoilers because I want this lovely novel to surprise you too.
I fear McCall Smith is beginning to phone these in. This book doesn't reflect the usual wit that Smith brings to these characters. I appreciate that the principle characters are experiencing some changes, but the pace has become glacial. And I was disappointed by the nature of the "cases" the agency is handling in this book. I'd like Smith to not forget that this is a detective agency... the last two books are only marginally "detective stories."
I suspect Smith has stretched himself thin. We'll see.
Having said that, Lisette Lecat continues to do a brilliant job narrating these lovely characters.
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