This wasn't a great book, but it was a good book. The plot was interesting and, while I don't think the "murder mystery" was solvable by the reader, it was still intriguing. I liked the depth and breadth of the characters but was especially taken with the historical setting and the "old medicine" that is practiced. It is an interesting and entertaining look at medical practice and police procedure of the late 18th century.
The narrator did a nice job, with a good range of voices. As is usually true, I find a male narrator does a less than great job with female voices, but his were less bad than most. I expect to look into more of the Silkstone Mysteries.
I liked this book OK. The plot is a good one and there are some well-drawn characters with depth and complexity whom I came to enjoy and care about.
But there was some stuff that made me go, "What?!" The first was the part where, because Vernetta - a associate in a fairly small but apparently prestigious law firm - just won a really big civil suit, she ought to do a high profile criminal case. Um... what?
The second was when she feels the need to see her OB-Gyn before she goes off the pill. ... What? Then it got downright weird when her gyno, upon learning that this young, healthy couple wants to make a baby, decides to do a "fertility workup" on them, starting with a sperm sample from her husband. This was laughable. All I could think was, "There is no OB on the planet that would order that before she has even gone off the pill, and certainly no insurance company that would cover it!"
But my favorite was when, as the big important murder trial is coming to an end and the three defense attorneys are worrying about whether or not the prosecutor will tell the jury that the accused knew her husband was a cheating philanderer, it dawns on all three attorneys that no one has thought to interview the housekeeper of the victim and the accused - including, apparently, the police or the prosecutor. WHAT!?
And it all cases, the author needed the results of these "What?" devises to move the plot. She ought to break that habit.
If you can ignore this kind of thing, this is a pretty decent first attempt.
Caveat: The choice of narrator seems strange. Almost every important character in this book is a female. The exceptions are Jefferson, Vernetta's husband; Riley, the managing partner in her firm; and Dave, one of the attorneys. But the narrator is male. He does the male voices - both black and white - fairly effectively, but I think he did a poor job overall on the female voices. His range of "female" seems very narrow and it's often difficult to tell which of the primary female characters is speaking.
I have the second book in this series and I'm going to give it a try. I'm rather hoping things will have improved.
The premise and the plot are both are both clever and fun - if you don't mind just ignoring certain issues related to a ... er ... "maturing" woman on a ship with almost no sanitary facilities that have to do with reality. But if you can reign in your inner skeptical grownup, you'll have fun with this story. What you won't have fun with is the narration. She does a nice job with most of the voices and the accents, but the modulation of her voice is painful and when Jacky whines or screams at full volume, be prepared to snatch those earbuds out of your ears quickly, lest you be rendered deaf. I found it irritating and highly distracting.
I like Maisie Dobbs. She's an unusual character in an interesting time and the narrator does a very nice job with all of the quirky and unusual characters that clutter Maisie's life. I appreciated the quality of this mystery, but I especially appreciated getting to know Maisie even better as she works to solve the mystery, help her assistant find his way out of loss and addiction and come to terms with her own loneliness.
I shall continue to follow the adventures of Maisie Dobbs.
The book starts out reasonably well. The narrators do a pretty good job although the woman who voiced Claire and Charm overdid it - too much "drama" in her voice. People don't talk like that.
Here's what gets this book 3 stars - SPOILER ALERT - we are asked to believe that whoever passed for Social Services in this small town placed a foundling infant who had been left in a fire station at the age of 1 month with a couple who become readily identifiable to every single person involved in the existence of that child. Apparently, in this small town, privacy laws don't exist.
But that wasn't quite good enough to ensure lives enmesh. When the child's mother returns from prison where she has served 5 years for drowning the child's twin sister, she *just happens* to get a job in the adoptive mother's bookstore - not the diner across the street or the nearby drug store but in the actual bookstore - where she, of course, instantly recognizes her son because he looks exactly like his father.
The premise ruined the experience for me. It was a cheap plot devise.
The narrator did an adequate job although her characters tend to either sound the same (James and Finn) or sound distractingly stereotypical (Marina's mother, her two girlfriends who go mercifully away in the middle of the book.) By the time the book ended, the number of characters had boiled down to just a few and Ms. Mitchell managed them a little better.
The plot is extremely clever but not well executed. Without inserting spoilers, it's hard to be too specific, but you will definitely find yourself asking yourself, "Wait! How did THAT happen?" For example, while James did, indeed "change everything," what Terrill doesn't let you see any part of is HOW. The mec. But, boy howdy, will you spend an annoyingly huge amount of time listening to Em/Marlina's inner dialogue about James ... and then Finn ... and then James... and then Finn.
Maybe it was just me.
Finn was my favorite character but, as only three of the characters had any real depth, there wasn't much to choose from.
It's an OK read. I finished it and am not asking for a refund.
First of all, I must say that Davina Porter is, once again, simply brilliant in her ability to bring all the many and varied characters to life. She is a pleasure to listen to her. Having said that...
Before I read/listened to MOHB, I revisited "Outlander" and was reminded of what a wonderful author Gabaldon is. I also listened to the first half of "Voyager" which I also enjoyed so much. Then I reread/listened to "Echo in the Bone" and I was struck with a deep foreboding. Between "Voyager" and "Echo," something profoundly changed and I was reminded of the angst I felt during my first reading of this series by the time I got to "Fiery Cross." Too much information; not enough story.
Gabaldon is having a great time doing research and writing in excruciating detail (and she does it very, very well,) but I think the storyline has taken a back seat to the history lessons and details and minutiae.
The Brianna/Roger storyline provides an excellent example and is particularly annoying. It was going so well and I was fascinated by the various aspects of Roger's and Brianna's adjustments to the 1980's. I loved the device wherein Jamie and Claire's letters took us back to their "when." Roger and Brianna's careers were taking shape and getting acquainted with Lallybroch in modern times was fun, including the visit from Buck. But, all of a sudden, BAM, that's over and we're off on a tangent.
And that pretty much sums up the whole experience that the Outlander series has become for me - too many tangents. I've got whiplash from being snapped back and forth among the various characters and each one is left hanging!
I was very disappointed in this book from this amazingly talented author.
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.
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