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  • Dead Ever After: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Charlaine Harris
    • Narrated By Johanna Parker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Number-one New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris has won numerous awards for her Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series, which has been adapted into the hit HBO show True Blood. In this 13th and final book, a murder rocks the town of Bon Temps and Sookie is arrested for the crime. After making bail, she sets out to clear her name - but her investigation only leads to more deaths.

    k says: "Bitter ending? Cleanse your palate."
    "It's not about the Beau. It's about the writing."

    (No spoilers.) I honestly don't believe Charlaine Harris wrote this book. I suspect she either supervised a ghost writer who needed a firmer editing hand, or she did write it and it's just an early draft that she either didn't care to improve or couldn't because of other commitments. The plot is ridiculous, contrived, crammed full of details in places and outright boring in others. The supernatural abilities of characters are inconsistent with our previous experience of them, with no explanation for why they can not do something they have done before or they can suddenly do something that was impossible. There are characters who step in for meaningless cameos, as if there was some casting obligation, but no actual plot point to give them. And for the first time in thirteen books and as many stories as I've read, except for a tag on one short story, the author has departed from her first person narrator perspective.

    Some reviewers are rating the book low because they think she ended up with the wrong man. That's not my issue. This is the last book in the series. I expected the quality of story telling that kept me reading all these years and made me fall in love with these characters. This book did not have that quality. It's disappointing, and its a sad end to the Sookie series.

    152 of 161 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"

    I greatly enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling, so was excited to purchase this sequel; unfortunately, The Silkworm was a huge disappointment.

    The beginning of the book is painfully slow with a lot of exposition and very little action. The exposition includes the setup of the novel within the novel - which we are told is perverse and poorly written, right before the narrator proceeds to read it to us. Ugh.

    I nearly quit this book in Chapter 19. If you're easily upset by gore, you might want to pass on it altogether. After a break, I did go back to reading and found it got better, both in pace and "disgust factor," but I can't say I enjoyed it, beyond the glimpses we have into Robin's family life.

    I wonder what statement "Robert Galbraith" (JK Rowling) is making about writers and the publishing industry, because there wasn't a pleasant or well adjusted character in the lot of them. They ranged from "broken" to "sociopath" and I think if anyone had been likable, it would have done a lot to improve the book.

    Insert jabs at self-publishing and the internet's role in giving a voice to bad writers, and it's easy to imagine Ms. Rowling's writing desk decorated with a "Be careful or you'll end up in my novel" button of its own.

    8 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Fated: Alex Verus Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Benedict Jacka
    • Narrated By Gildart Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future-allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success. But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful.

    Cliff says: "If you like Dresden or Iron Druid check it out!"
    "Notsomuch Like Dresden, Actually"

    People keep comparing this book to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, and it does seem like Jacka is making an effort to follow that formula, but he falls short in the attempt. Alex Veras has none of the wit or cleverness of Dresden. There are no funny moments to break up the back story and/or combat. I just don't care about these people. OK, I care about Star Breeze and Arachne, but see, that's where he went his own way, and they're the best bits in the book. Not the council, or the dark mages, or the wayward apprentice. And he does himself no favor with the nod to the Chicago wizard in the yellow pages, because he only reminds us what we'd rather be reading.

    I gave it the benefit of the doubt and went on to read the second book as well, which was even worse than the first. If I had a nickel for every time Veras explained that he can see the future, I'd be able to pay full price for the new Dresden book coming out next week.

    If you want to read a magical series set in London, try Ben Aaronovich's Rivers of London series. That one has clever humor and characters you can care about.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Midwife's Confession

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Diane Chamberlain
    • Narrated By Angela Dawe, Cassandra Campbell, Abby Craden, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dear Anna, What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry. The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family - described a woman who embraced life. Yet there was so much they didn't know. With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives.

    Kathryn says: "Such a Soap Opera"
    "Such a Soap Opera"

    All it was missing was the dramatic organ stings at the chapter endings. By the end of the book there wasn't a single major character I liked anymore. Nothing about it was subtle. The extent to which the two main characters missed the obvious was unbelievable. Obviously neither of them had ever read a mystery novel or watched a police procedural. The ending was the absolutely worst part. I won't spoil anything but there was one thing left in a ridiculously inappropriate place.

    The story was told from the point of view of five different characters - too many to keep it from feeling like a very laborious relay race. One of the five characters was written in third person while the others were all in first. It didn't help that the same character was voiced by the worst of the narrators. (I wish I knew which one voiced which. I'd like to avoid her in the future.)

    I got this book on the $4.95 deal. I wouldn't read it again for free.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Brownies and Broomsticks: A Magical Bakery Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Bailey Cates
    • Narrated By Johanna Parker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees. While working at the Honeybee Bakery - named after Lucy's cat - Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty - Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

    Kathryn says: "A Little Mystery with your Magic"
    "A Little Mystery with your Magic"

    Johanna Parker is an excellent narrator as always, and Bailey Cates has created a quirky coven of colorful characters that are worth spending some relaxing hours with. As a cozy mystery, this story doesn't require deep thinking or puzzling. Actually, I think the fun might crumble in the face of too much over-thinking.

    If you enjoy baking, the recipes included in the book are available on a pdf at the publisher's website with a code given at the beginning of the recording. I haven't downloaded them yet, but there are a lot of yummy-sounding items at the bakery.

    If you enjoy things magical, the basic practices, symbols and herbs discussed are true to tradition as far as my experience. I always wonder about that in a fiction book, so that was a nice discovery.

    As far as negatives go, while the female characters are alive and textured, the male characters are flat and fall into stereotypes -- good guy fireman, slimy reporter, cranky detective, thug, nearly invisible husband. Also, since it's the first book in a series, and there are a so many characters, more time is spent introducing people than developing the mystery. I guessed whodunnit within minutes of the murder.

    That said, I enjoyed these people enough to listen a second time while I was doing other things around the house, and I will be happy to buy the second book in the series when it comes out in audiobook.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Help

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Kathryn Stockett
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and others

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The most celebrated performance in all of Audible’s history, The Help has nearly 2,000 5-star reviews from your fellow listeners. We hear the print book’s not bad, either. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

    Jan says: "What a great surprise!"

    When I saw the commercial for the movie, I immediatly knew it must be a great book. It is!

    As a 50 year-old southern woman, it brought back so many memories. We never had "help" but the characters in this book are very real.

    The performances are great. The story is delightful. It's a great way to spend a weekend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost Story: The Dresden Files, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Jim Butcher
    • Narrated By John Glover
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin. But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own. To save his friends - and his own soul - Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic....

    Bill says: "Not the best audio book in the series"
    "If you love Harry Dresden..."
    Overall will love this book.

    I was disappointed initially that James Marsters wasn't narrating, and I'll admit it was distracting for maybe the first couple of chapters, but John Glover does a good job with this book. In fact, I recognized a couple of characters by their "voice" before they were identified, and that shows not only how skilled Mr. Glover is, but what commitment he made to make the transition seamless for us. I appreciate that.

    This may be my favorite Dresden book yet. I laughed and cried (sometimes loud enough to worry the cats) and felt like I was able to be with good friends who had gone through hard times since our last visit. It was well worth the wait. And now I begin waiting for the next one.

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Bone Garden

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Tess Gerritsen
    • Narrated By Susan Denaker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil � human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder.

    Book and Movie Lover says: "Back and forth through time"
    "Not a Maura Isles book"

    Less than 3 hours in, and I can't take it anymore. I wish I'd read the reviews before wasting a credit on this book. Maura and Rizzoli are barely in it (other reviews say that's not going to change), and most of it is historical hand-to-forehead-swooning drama. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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