Turow had a great idea for a story and then... phoned it in. Gone was the courtroom drama Turow is so good at. It is replaced by lots of bickering and blathering by the characters. While I appreciate the attempt to give each character "depth," it really didn't seem to work.
I don't think it's helped by the narrator at all. He really only has one "voice" and, while he can give that voice an accent if need be, and he does know how to give a passage "emphasis," his characters all sound pretty much the same so, even after several hours into it, you will still be unable to tell who is speaking by listening. That means that you can get lost easily if you're not listening carefully to be told who has spoken. He doesn't perform the book as much as he just reads it.
The narrator (OMG, the Narrator!!)
The horrible, pointless ending.
Where to start?
Her little-girl voice made the protagonist (Samantha) sound like a petulant teenager, rather than a highly educated, young, up-and-coming attorney from a top-tier law firm.
Ms. Tabor has no male voices at all. In fact, other than her rural twang, she has almost no variety to the voices she does have.
It was often difficult to tell who was speaking. Her manner of reading sucked all "life" from the story.
She lacks the ability to convey emotion so she seemed more to be reading a corporate policy manual than a novel.
This is not John Grisham-quality work at all. The protagonist has all the depth of a soda cracker.. and is just about that interesting - when she isn't simply annoying. In fact, none of the main characters had all that much depth with the possible exception of the Gray brothers ... sorta.
The entire plot seems to be mostly a vehicle for discussing the evils of coal companies without Grisham having put any appreciable effort into actually telling a story.
There is almost no courtroom time in this Grisham at all. He sort of tiptoes up to it... and then simply goes around it.
And finally, having spent 16+ hours listening to this 14 hour reading (I had to go back and re-listen in some parts because of the poor narration) the book simply ended. Plunk. Important plot lines were left hanging because the protagonist made a rather lame and not very solid decision and the book was over. And there was I going, "What ...?!?"
It stuns me to say this, but I'm giving Audible back a John Grisham novel. That's amazing.
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!
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