This story was quirky, fun, and predictable (but not in a bad way!). Even though the reader can figure out the underlying plot there are still aspects that are surpassing, amusing and touching. Julie arrives in Boston to start her first year of college only to find out the apartment she put a deposit on doesn't exist. Her mother pulls some last minute strings and Julie is off to spend a few days with a family of an old friend of her mom's. This Watkins family is ecentric. There's nerdy college student Matt, the Harvard professor mom, ultra brainy research analysis dad, and immature 13 year old Celeste. Out of the picture, traveling the world is the handsome eldest brother Finn. Oh, and then there's Flat Finn, the life size cut out of the real Fynn that Celeste totes around with her wherever she goes. While the family dynamics are certainly strange, Julie really connects with them, especially Finn who she strikes up an intimate on line relationship with via Facebook. But then there's Matt who she's really good friends with. Julia sets out to help Celeste loosen her dependence on Flat Fynn while uncovering the real reason behind the family's dysfunction.
Nineteen year old June Eyermann is back home for the summer after her first year of college. Back home where her mom and step father continue to push her towards academic and career choices they want for her. June, a classic romance book junkie at heart, begins to make some choices for herself starting with volunteering at the Rockford Library instead of a paid position at her step father's office. Here she meets Everett Rockford, a man whose personality has many of the traits from her favorite book heroes: Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Rochester from Jane Eyre. Some of their interactions even mirror scenes from those books. As June's relationship with Everett becomes more complicated; so does her inability to see him for who he is and not the book characters she's begun to associate him with.
I found the narrator, Dawn Huestis, to be a great match for June's character. She has a voice that captures the age of being almost grown up yet still vulnerable. She was very competent at being able to read clearly and at a reasonable but energetic pace. She was also able to differentiating between voices with ease.
For the most part, the story was light and sweet and at just under six hours on audio, it was short as well. I was actually uncertain as to who June's love interest was going to be and found that there was always an underlying bit of tension that left me thinking things were not going to work out the way I thought they would. I appreciated June being able to make mature decisions in love, in school, and in work, but more importantly that she was able to make them for herself.
***This audiobook copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review***
I think I'm a very tough critic when it comes to the romantic suspense genre. I really feel that the romance compromises the mystery or the mystery compromises the romance. In this book it’s the former; I loved the romance but didn't care for the mystery at all. I could look past the out-datedness of the story (it had an obvious 80's feel) but I felt that the mystery was "cheesy." Anna Fields/Kate Fleming is a quality narrator, but I expected much more from this story.
This has become one of my all time favorite books and although it is historical fiction, I consider it a classic ranked with the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I just loved this story that much.
Nicholas Boulton's narration was exquisite (what a voice!) I can't think of anyone else who could have captured Christian's torment the way he did-it was an amazing performance. Readers and listeners should be warned that this story is agonizingly beautiful and completely emotionally draining. I physically clutched my heart a few times (I kid you not). I was just so touched by Christian's fragmented thoughts and sputtering words. The part where he was trying to convey his wishes to his friend and gestured, telling him, "braid...down" just undid me. There were just so many scenes that I could not stop thinking about...all the times that I felt I just couldn't take anymore anguish.
God, but I do love a beautiful, tortured love story.
I came across one reviewer who claimed Nicholas Boulton had "ruined" her for all other narrators and after listening to him in Flowers from the Storm and now this one, well I whole-heartedly agree. Nicholas Boulton's voice is pure bliss and his performance is exquisite. Honestly, I do believe he could read me a tax form and I may clutch my heart in divine anguish. I'm ecstactic that he reads all of Laura Kinsale's books and I purchased all that were available for sale after listening to Flowers from the Storm (I'm staggering them between several other audiobooks so that I can slowly savor them).
What is so amazing about the pairing of Boulton and Kinsale is that he perfectly performs the beautiful, tormented characters and heart crushing plots that Kinsale has devised. Her words are lovely, but Boulton, without a doubt, heightens any emotion a reader could summon by just reading alone. Really, you should be forbidden to read Kinsale's books when there is such a narrator as Boulton to perform them. I mean Japanese, Hawaiian, English and British accents...I think he's unbeatable.
The beginning of this book started off a bit shaky for me; I had my doubts about the Japanese story line and I waited for it to become the one aspect that wouldn't work in this book; however, Kinsale pulled it off. I would hesitate to call Samuel a Ninja at all. He was conditioned and educated on many levels of respect and self control and learning to fight was a strong part of that (with and without a sword). I enjoyed the short chapters of Samuel as a boy being trained in Hawaii interlaced with the intense, present day relationship with Leda.
Like Flowers from the Storm, I felt a bit speechless at the end of this book... Kinsale really pushes the reader's comfort level as to how much their heart can really take; I was amazed I was able to survive the emotional rollercoaster this book took me through.
I've said it before, I believe Sherry Thomas is a master when it comes to angst and clever wording. As with many of her previous novels, Thomas uses time as a tool to create and intensify the heart-ache between characters. In this story, Catherine Blade, who is half British, half American and trained in martial arts, has just come to England for the first time searching for a coveted stone tablet. She is shocked to run into Leighton Atwood, a man whom she met and supposedly killed eight years earlier. The prequel of this book, The Hidden Blade covers both her, as Ying-ying, and Leighton's separate childhoods.
We learn of her and Leighton's intense relationship in alternating chapters from eight years earlier during their travels in Chinese Turkestan when they were disguised as a Persian merchant and Kazakh boy. Their meeting and travels together are beyond entertaining. The intense wording and drama had me riveted.
The present day chapters revolve around the awkwardness of Catherine and Leighton as he now has a fiancé and his wedding date approaches, along with the mystery of the tablets and the true enemy stalking her.
Although I found this story to be exceptional, I did not feel the narrator, Charlotte Anne Dore, was the right one for this book. Her voices (or rather her lack of variety in her voices) puzzled me a bit. I wondered why there weren't differentiations in voices between Ying-ying when she was pretending to be a Kazakh boy, when she was in China, and then when she was in England. Her voice in all locations was the same. This can also be said of Leighton's voice when he was a Persian merchant-his voice wasn't any different than when he was in England. Had there been distinct variations, this audiobook could have been amazing.
I also noticed that Dore often took unnatural pauses while reading and that was at times very distracting. I did like the overall sound of her voice-a bit gravelly, which could fit the hidden strength within Catherine/Ying-ying. I didn't think she did this story justice. Had I just read this story, and not listened to it, I would have easily given it 5 stars.
This story was sweet and light hearted but I really missed the angst that was present in the other two books by Kinsale/Boulton that I listened to. Nicholas Boulton is hands down the best narrator I've ever listened to.
I enjoyed this story and the narration was good; however the environment that it was recorded in was very poor. The narrator sounded "tinny" and that distracted the listener from the story...or at least it took me a while to get used to it.
I chose this book based on other reviewers at Audible and because the narrator, Mora Quirk, did a wonderful job with the Princes Trilogy by Elizabeth Hoyt. This was a great decision because I thoroughly enjoyed this new take on what I felt was a Beauty and the Beast type of fairytale...with a twist of fire.
This audiobook had everything I truly love in a story: historical fiction, sensual romance, mystery, a strong heroine, a commendable hero and an element of fantasy that doesn't overwhelm the story. Pair that with an excellent narrator who actually performs the story and has distinct and memorable voices for each character, and it's an easy win/win.
“Regret is just life's aftertaste.”
This was a lovely, heart-felt story about Blue's discovery of who she really is. There wasn't a moment during her journey that I wasn't fully invested in what I was listening to.
The narrator brought this story to life with her amazing British, Spanish and Native American voices. The overall quality of her voice is almost melodious. It rings with clarity and intent.
I don't usually listen to contemporary stories on audio and this one was a bit of a risk for me. I'm happy to say that it exceeded my expectations and I still think about certain parts of this book-the humor and heartache, often. It's one of those stories that lingers long after you've stopped listening.
This book fits nicely in the New Adult genre; with a little less angst and more real life issues addressed than what is typically expected. It’s a coming of age story focused on Harley from age 17 on through the next decade. Harley is a free spirit who longs to get away from her small town and her alcoholic, abusive father. Although she tries to make her way in the world by traveling and trying various career paths, her family-father, sister and mother –are strong anchors to her previous life and keep her coming back home in moments of crisis. For as much as Harley wants to create a life of her own, she is, above all, their caretaker when things get rough.
At the heart of the novel is her relationship with Jeremiah (Miah) who she has known since she was a child and whose friendship becomes something more. My main contention with this novel was how Harley handles this relationship as well as the others in her life. The author shines a light on certain people and then “drops them” and moves onto another situation without a resolution. I understand this is part of Harley’s personality but it made for a frustrating read. There are many times that we are privy to important information (when Harley’s sister, Kat, calls her home because she needs her help) then it’s years later before we find out any more information about that very significant incident. Could Harley be that removed from her sister after she sees her that there’s no real involvement with her for two years after that? I have a hard time believing that she could be so absorbed in figuring out what to do with herself that she hardly gives a thought to the other people in her life. Miah, her best friend, is dropped from her life for years –only thinking about him a handful of times (if that). I felt a very deep contradiction between Harley’s words of wisdom and her actual investment into the lives of the people who are important to her. I grew tired of her "common sense” talks to herself with no actual follow through.
This is the first time that I have listened to an audiobook where the author is also the narrator. I will say that Brooklyn James has a perfect voice for the character of Harley. She fully captured both her youth and vivaciousness. Although she read smoothly with a good, clear pace, I didn’t notice much, if any differentiation between voices. While there wasn’t an extensive cast of characters, it’s essential for an audiobook to have some (even if it’s subtle) differences in voices.
This audiobook did have several unique qualities to it. There was a distinct tone to indicate when Harley was experiencing a memory/flashback and again at the end of it. While this was a nice distinction I think that it could have been even briefer. I felt it was odd that so much time was given to signal when this was occurring, yet many of the chapters started with barely a pause between them. Another new listening feature was having Harley’s songs imbedded within the story. This was actually fun; most were very short and really let you feel the moment as it unfolded.
This story clearly has a good message-finding the strength to make yourself happy and empowering others to make a better life for themselves. While I felt the story lacked real emotional depth and I failed to really connect with it the way I hoped to, I did think Miah was wonderful and was amazed at his love and patience for Harley. All my favorite moments in the book included him and I appreciated the happy ending for both of them-but even more so for Jeremiah.
***A copy of this audiobook was given to me in exchange for an honest review***
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