My scifi book club was reading this and since I like Terry Pratchett and Discworld I was excited about it. I couldn't finish reading it. It didn't seem to have any plot to speak of. Somehow the grim reaper, his daughter, various gods and the Hogfather are all mixed together in the story. To say much more would spoil any surprise you might be looking forward to. With the many good reviews I have to believe that my view of the book is unusual but I got more than half way through the book before I just couldn't bring myself to listen to it any longer. I listened to it most of the way from NC to WV and just couldn't continue.
I was beyond disappointed. The premise sounded great and reading the opening pages in the kindle preview and listening to the audio preview convinced me that it was a story I would enjoy. After listening a while I thought that the writer was either 16 or 83 (although that's a slap at 83 year olds, both my parents are considerably older than that and still not as rigid as this) because I couldn't believe the way the characters behaved. I don't say that a woman has to go to bed with a man because he bought her dinner, but this is the other extreme. We start out with a 30 year old woman who exclusively dated a guy for two years and after the breakup, which occurs before the beginning of the book, she's congratulating herself on never having an intimate relationship with him. I'm sorry, but by 30 you should know yourself well enough that it doesn't take two years, and him cheating on you, to decide that you should get married, get intimate or get gone. If he doesn't turn you on enough to choose one of the first two options, you should be looking for someone who does.
The way the characters relate to one another is pure high school. The situations they set up really show the emotional maturity of teenagers. Additionally the mother is always carping on her to get married. The uncle is a truly gross character, telling her at Thanksgiving that they're going to have to use a turkey baster to get grandkids from her and instead of backing her up her dad, the minister, says his cop friends may have to give reduced time to some of the felons to get them to "make a contribution"? Why didn't she walk out if she couldn't get any more respect from her family than that? Only her sister-in-law and to a lesser degree her brother think that it's ok for her to choose her own destiny, everyone else is telling her what to do. An example of unhealthy family dynamics:
Her mother wants her to catch the bouquet at her sister's wedding. "Why don't you go catch it for me, Mother, since you're so concerned about it?"
"Don't sass your mother, Emma," Dad chimed in while wagging his finger. "You're not so old that I can't put you over my knee."
Excuse me, at 30, yes, she is too old, and has been for some time. So Emma "managed to jump and grab it while avoiding the stampede at the same time." Does she need her mother's approval that much?
I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't gotten the audio book. I had a project I was working on, I needed something to occupy my mind while I finished it and I didn't want to re-listen to anything I already had so I bought this. The narrator was great. At first I thought that she was reading too fast but it became clear that the sooner she got us to the happy ending the better for everyone. I'm not sorry I finished it. I almost never leave a book in the middle because few characters are so unappealing that I don't want to find out how the story ends. This was almost one of them, again, if it wasn't for the audio I probably would have skipped to the last chapter and missed the one or two scenes that I enjoyed.
I should send this to my daughter. Whenever she reads about parents like this I get phone calls telling me what a wonderful mother she thinks I've been. It's great for my ego. Even so, I can't do that to her, she'll have to find models of horrible parents somewhere else. (PS the best friends parents are really nice but still a little strange in the ways they're willing to manipulate the two "kids"...)
As with so many audio books the narrator can ruin it. Sometimes the narration is flat, other times there's over emphasis. The voice for the daughter of incredibly whiney. The voice for Goldie, the main character is only annoying so maybe that's personal preference and might not be so bothersome for another listener. The book is fine, and I got this narration for $1.99 so it may not be worth asking for a refund but I ended up just rereading the book because the narration was so awful.
This story was so formulaic as to be annoying.
1) girl from big city (Boston) goes home to small town, her parents are on vacation but I don't see any reason why she needs to stay at their house while they're out of town. She misses Chinese food delivered at 3am.
2) boy she paid no attention to in high school who loves living in small town, he enjoys the Monday special at the local diner.
3) they decide to hook up for a holiday interlude
filled with stupid innuendo on a high school level
***The "Surprise" Ending***
4) she doesn't really need crab Rangoon delivered in the middle of the night as much as she needs him.
This is also available as part of a collection, "Naughty or Nice" in which the other stories may be worth listening to but I can't imagine reading anything else by this author. If it was free, I'd try another but I definitely wouldn't pay for one.
This is the last of the Donna McDonald books I read on my Kindle after I got the first one for free. When this came out as an audiobook I was offered a great deal on it and took it since audiobooks are my first favorite, so to speak. The story isn't completely ruined by the narration but it's very distracting. It's almost as if the narrator wants to sound like an American impression of a British narrator. It's a matter of over-enunciating. Where most people would pronounce "matter" "mat-er" Johnston-Brown carefully says "mah-ter". It seems to mostly have to do with the letters T, D & P. If a word ends in t, d or p she always uses what I've heard called a "plosive". What it means is that when a word ends in a t, d or p you can make it with a lot of air, like when you say doughnut, or with just enough air to make it happen as is usually the case with words like don't. I've also heard the difference referred to as a "hard aspiration" or a "soft aspiration". I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone reading this, but listen to the sample, if you don't notice it you probably won't be bothered and it's an enjoyable story. It's easy to care about (or dislike in the case of the ex-wife) all of the characters. Their worries seem very familiar to me. They worry about their business successes and life failures and body image concerns. And, as with all romance it's going to come out well for the primary characters. I would have included beach reads and chick lit but it seems to me that those aren't always happy endings, sometimes they're more poignant than happy. I usually prefer happy, this is escapist reading after all.
It took forever for the story to get started and for me it never really took off. Now that it's over and I know who done it, I can't remember the why and I only finished it yesterday. Even though I figured out ahead of time who the villain was (and I was fooled into thinking I was wrong) it was based on who had the means and opportunity rather than seeing a motive. This is much more a story of Dixie Belles and I don't know any so I can't say how accurate the portraiture here is, but they were mostly very annoying women. The men were only a little better. I might have been tempted to go ahead with the second book if the narrator had changed but I can’t take any more of her. She doesn’t change emphasis between a scene where the main character is delivering food as a bribe and one where the second character is in fear for her life. It’s not that it’s monotonous, more like she’s so busy working on the accents that she can’t pay attention to the content. I might pick up the next book from the library so I can a) find out what happens next in the romances (I’m a sucker for a romance) and b) find out whether I enjoy the books more when I’m not listening to Karen Commins narration. Whichever turns out to be the case, don’t like the stories or just don’t like the narration, I’ll be returning this one.
This shouldn't be a spoiler because it's more or less given away in the description: "Civil engineer Amy Bradshaw - Kendall's ex-fiancé - fled Sweetness years ago, taking a personal souvenir with her." Why is it that whenever young love is thwarted she ends up pregnant with a baby she never told him about because she wanted to be loved and not married as an obligation? I know, because it makes good fiction, and this is fun, escapist, fiction. And I really enjoy the premise of three brothers trying to rebuild the town they grew up in after it's been abandoned for over ten years after being destroyed by an F5 tornado. I enjoy the picture of Sweetness, (though not the name, too icky-sweet, Sweetwater I could have understood but who would name a town "Sweetness"?). It's getting a little odd, from the first book we have all these men and women who've come together more or less in a big matchmaking plan, and none of them are living together? All the men are still living in the bunk house and all the women in the boarding house. It just felt a little unreal. If this were a book with the premise of a community who all believe in abstinence until marriage it would make more sense to me, but the combination of sex scenes and no men overnight rules which are only, as far as we see, broken by the three brothers... it just didn't flow for me. Still, I liked the characters and wanted to see how things came out.
Unfortunately I really didn't like book three, which probably means I'll never listen to the series again.
The plot line is great, the idea that three brothers are trying to recreate the town that they grew up in after an F5 tornado decimated it. The idea that they're trying to create a green community is also enjoyable. It's only that many of the characters are too formulaic, too stereotypical that led me farther and farther into disliking the book.
I did finish this. I was invested in the characters from the first two books, and even though they were good rather than great they were the kind of escapist reading I was looking for. This one had such a nasty female protagonist I couldn't see any way for her to become a lovable character. She does, of course, otherwise it wouldn't be proper escapism. But neither character can really stay true to his or herself and still make the happy ending, so people had to undergo unrealistic changes to get to the end. This is so unpleasant that I might not re-read the first and second books because I'll know that getting through the third book will be a chore and I like to read an entire series together. So much so that one of my favorite authors is working on book 35 or 40 or some such and when I know it's coming out I'll go back and re-read all the previous books in order to enjoy a seamless transition to the new book. If you haven't guessed, I don't recommend this book. Book 1 had some troubling transitions in it, but I cared enough about the characters to want to go on. Book 2, again, there were a lot of, why do they do that moments. The ones that you know that why they do it is to forward the plot but you just can't believe that people are that relationship stupid. Maybe they are, but there are limits to credulity, to the amount of change a character can exhibit in the space of a month without wondering if aliens took them over, and this third book crossed those limits. I wouldn't have liked it, but it would have worked better for me if the two central characters went with, you're a person unlike any I would ever want to spend time with and ridden off into their respective sunsets.
1) This is about the audio version of the book. I also read the book, back before it was available as audio and I assigned stars here based on the book without regard to the narrator. If you're considering the audio book I only gave the narrator 2 stars. He makes the female protagonist sound incredibly whiny. Actually, I don't think I like any of the people's voices the way he reads them.
2) I'm a big fan of Suzanne Brockmann and that may count for one star of the review.
There was a complaint that this was a romance rather than suspense. I suppose if you're expecting Tom Clancy or Eric Van Lustbader that would be valid. That said, we have to figure out whether Tom is suffering from a head injury of whether he actually sees a terrorist (not a spoiler, you've got that information in the second chapter). Part of my problem is that Dufris reads it as pure romance. When you get to a sex scene his voice is distracting. This gets much better later in the series when there are two narrators. One of the things I really enjoy in these early Troubleshooters books, and I read them long before I got the audiobooks, is the interwoven WWII plot. Tom's uncle, Joe, and his neighbor met in France when the neighbor, Charles, was shot down and rescued by members of the resistance. There's tension between the two because of something that happened there that Joe is going to talk about and Charles wants to keep secret. Beyond that, almost anything I would say about the plot strikes me as a spoiler.
Because this is a romance, there is a sense in the primary male/female encounter of excessive sensitivity. I think I enjoyed the sex in the written book, without Dufris' particular emphatic reading but maybe that's an area where Brockmann's writing has improved over the years and if I went back and read it again it would still stick out as a little contrived.
I think it's important to realize that this was written in 2000. That's before the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and our view of terrorists on US soil was very different.
So, would I recommend this book? I have, often. I enjoy later books in the series more but we're introduced to Jazz Jacquette, Alyssa Locke and Sam/Roger/Bob/Ringo Starrett and I like meeting everyone as they're introduced in the series so when I go back to re-read the series I start here, even though it isn't my favorite of the books. I suppose it would be a five star if it had a little less emoting and more action.
I've read all of the books in the series, and now I wonder whether this is something new or whether I'm just less tolerant. There wasn't much of a story line. There were, I suppose, five story lines for each of the characters who become central to the story. Each of them was going through various problems, many of which have to do with the current social-political climate of the country. Even though I agree with most of her positions, it just made for a tedious book.
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